Tag Archives: fishermen

Prachuap Khiri Khan day 1

It's a breezy morning, I find the seafront quickly. Waves are blowing up against the beach wall and splashing the occasional dog walker and cyclist.

I'm really lucky with finding a room at om's house. Right on the seafront, second floor, balcony overlooking the curved bay, bookended on each side with steep pointed karst mountains. After a sleep I set off on a languid bike ride South of the town heading for ao manao beach. It's a strange landscape as the road passes through a military airbase called wing 5, and I actually have to cycle across the runway to get to the next little bay. Ao manao isn't much to shout about. A scraggly beach next to the road shaded by palms and taken up mostly by empty deck chairs. On the other side of the road are various activities, such as horse riding in a coral, archery ( this is the only one open). It's all very low key and local. Further on is a fishing port, klongwan. Trawlers are out in the bay, it's not exactly an idyllic fisher village, so I turn around and go back past the marine science centre, which has an amazing array of topiary creations in its garden. This must be a fashion here, as the splendi temple opposite also has some well maintained sculpted bushes.

 

 

Back though ao manao, there is a road that veers right, and goes around a golf course and through the military camp. Historically this is an important piece of land, as there was a battle then armistice signed between the Thais and japs in 1941. Amid the barracks, between the beaches, and next to the moored fishing boats is a little memorial to the armistice.

 

At the end of this strip of land is a very steep and pretty high limestone peak, khao lommuak. At the base are black faced monkeys, very unafraid, and non-aggressive. One of them leaps onto my back as I'm crouching to take photos.

Not really knowing what it would entail I set up the steps to climb this mountain. Wearing my less suitable shoes. The first third of the climb is steep tiring steps, but the rest is much tougher. No steps, just sharp, jagged walls of rock and helpfully laid ropes connected to strategic trees of metal posts driven into the ground. The sear needed in order to pull yourself up. It's hard work and quite far. Some Thais are coming down, some in flip flops. Everyone suffering. The view from. The top is amazing, stretching in all directions, high above the town. I wonder how on earth the materials were transported to the top to build the little shrine there. And why…!

 
 
 

 

The evening is low key. I met several people who are repeat visitors, not only to Prachuap, but also to om's. I'm glad I wasn't staying next door. The owner there is a gruff Austrian who was steaming drunk at 10 in the morning.apparently he is bad news, and JJ, the lady running om's has had some disagreements with him. JJ is a strong hard- working single mum, with a cute 5 year old sun, who looks rather likea vampire with his missing front teeth, and pointed canines, devilish grin and red waistcoat. JJ dotes on him and they are very close. She shows me lots of photos of him, and extols his prowess in swimming, independence, and helpfulness. He appears to bear wally smart kid. She tells me to treat om's as my home, and she really does mean this. I can see why people often come back here.

 

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People Sangkhlaburi

Children are brushing the verge in front of their school with straw brushes, like a little militarised unit. The Thais seem to be obsessed with brushing up leaves. Maybe it's meditative.

A group of orange clad monks, two white robed shaven headed nuns in tow. They move graciously and with dignity in public presence. When it gets dark I pass them on the second bridge smoking and browsing their phones.

Small boys diving from the flat bridge still in their khaki school shorts. The older ones are plunging from the 30m mon bridge.

In the market a woman with bad teeth chews on a cheroot and tries to sell me some sweets. I buy a bag of black rice from another mon woman, yellow ash daubs on her face.

At dusk a raft boat is towed out into the lake. Full of monks. Maybe going for a few days of peaceful meditation afloat on the water.

Two boys play a kind of cricket. Wickets a kind of tripod of twigs. The ball is a punctured yellow plastic one, the bad a stick. One of them is wearing a Man Utd shirt.

On the flat bridge a small group of Thais are dangling string with balls of bread in one of the gaps between the bamboo struts. Small children look on at their fishing.

In the dark on the bridge a teenager is listening to some western rock music on YouTube.

A policeman on a garishly lit Harley revs up illuminating the banana pancake man. His small daughter is standing on a box fingering the balls of dough.

I see women making handicrafts in doorways, whilst the men swing in hammocks.

Sangkhlaburi day 2

Quite a chilly sleep, thankfully the karaoke on the other side of the creek stopped by 11.

I'm quite excited to get up for sunrise over the lake. Monks on the bindi baht are crossing the bridge. Long tail drivers are prepping their boats and cruising out into the golden water. A schoolboy dressed in Boy Scout type uniform is with his mother selling little fish in bags of water, to be released for merit making. I guess that's his job before school. I forget how early it is. 6 am? 7 am? The village is getting up. Mon women with yellow ash daubed faces with baskets balanced on their heads are selling tea and snacks. Across another small bridge, under which locals are tilling their vegetable gardens, I'm now in a more rustic environment of typical mon houses, bamboo platforms with thin woven walls. There are a lot of women with babies. At a store I drink some water and a guy on a motorbike generously offers to take me to the wat. It's burmese and very ornate. On the land next to it is a campsite. Tents for monks. There is a road which is strewn with dry leaves, rustling in the cooling breeze. This leads to a gilded stupa, next to which is a souvenir market. Here I see a small group of monks committing taboos: handling money, smoking, shouting to each other. Buying food and ice creams…I understood their food was from donations. In the road a small mangey pup has just died. A pack of adult equally scrawny and few ridden dogs aggressively police the small corpse.

 

 

 

 

Final day in kanchanaburi

Again I fail to get up early. My bed is hard and I'm groggy. A good sleep. I want to avoid the tourist crowd at erawan waterfalls, so having missed an early start, it makes sense to go there late in the day.

In the morning I ride out to a cave temple. You climb a flight of naga flanked steps to the mouth of the cave where the temple proper is. Then follow red arrows painted on the walls until you are on hands and knees crawling through spaces til you come to a vertical metal ladder. You climb about 3 metres through a tiny gap and then you are out on the top of the mountain looking over the river, kanchanaburi and the mountains beyond. This temple is famous for a floating meditating nun, but she's dead, and her replacement only does it when the crowds are there. So I don't see this!

Late morning is spent buying sweet fried things and iced coconut juice, which I snack on by the round pagodas next to the river. A boy of about 11 walks up and down the edge of the embankment and cheerfully says to me dee mai dee mai. He is catching fish using a plastic bag and is very pleased and proud of himself. I offer him a fried banana. He cautiously approaches, wais, then to my surprise he takes the whole bag. I'm too surprised to take bag at least a few,and anyway I think he will appreciate them. Off he goes then back, then off then back again this time beaming. He wants to show me his latest catch. In his bag is a large toad, dark green with a soft white belly, about 12 cm long. He takes it out for me to photograph. I ask him if he will eat it. He shakes his head. I wonder what he will do with it..

 

Final day in kanchanaburi

Again I fail to get up early. My bed is hard and I'm groggy. A good sleep. I want to avoid the tourist crowd at erawan waterfalls, so having missed an early start, it makes sense to go there late in the day.

In the morning I ride out to a cave temple. You climb a flight of naga flanked steps to the mouth of the cave where the temple proper is. Then follow red arrows painted on the walls until you are on hands and knees crawling through spaces til you come to a vertical metal ladder. You climb about 3 metres through a tiny gap and then you are out on the top of the mountain looking over the river, kanchanaburi and the mountains beyond. This temple is famous for a floating meditating nun, but she's dead, and her replacement only does it when the crowds are there. So I don't see this!

 

Late morning is spent buying sweet fried things and iced coconut juice, which I snack on by the round pagodas next to the river. A boy of about 11 walks up and down the edge of the embankment and cheerfully says to me dee mai dee mai. He is catching fish using a plastic bag and is very pleased and proud of himself. I offer him a fried banana. He cautiously approaches, wais, then to my surprise he takes the whole bag. I'm too surprised to take bag at least a few,and anyway I think he will appreciate them. Off he goes then back, then off then back again this time beaming. He wants to show me his latest catch. In his bag is a large toad, dark green with a soft white belly, about 12 cm long. He takes it out for me to photograph. I ask him if he will eat it. He shakes his head. I wonder what he will do with it..

 

 

 

Negombo 2

A good sleep followed bya. Cycle along the main road past Hindu temples, juice shops, cheap samosa stalls and churches to the fish market. Old women crouched by their plastic sheets with tiddlers, men at butcher blocks chopping the larger catch, a cluster of curious men and boys surveying a 70cm ray of some kind. Seems nobody knows what to do with it. Beyond on the beach are sheets of small silver fish laid out to dry under the right sun. By. The shore the small boatsarelandi g their catches and teas of me and old women are shank out the nets. Women and men are gutting and sorting larger fishes further along. Catches are ferried by pairs of men by baskets on poles to the sea edge to be washed. Everyone is working fast and the bosses are circulating and handing out pay.

The town is divided into tourist strip, commercial main road, a market full of fabric shops and residential streets stretching along the canal and shore of the lagoon, larger fishing boats moored here. I see home made nativities of straw, plastic figures and fairy lights at many street corners, some constructed on abandoned boats. I see small boys crossing themselves as they pass the crucifixes at junctions.
Back at Lewis place I have a juice in a place run by a half Filipino family which has a variety of fruits new to me. Must go back there. My dinner cum lunch at Edwin’s restaurant is a very. Good and interesting curry and rice which includes a pineapple and soya korma type affair. I catch up with Dave and Donna on a stretch of the beach near some fancy hotels. The sea is refreshing, the surfs.aps you hard and is bracing. A wedding banquet is being set up on the beach, photos of the bridal pair taken at sun down by some catamarans. Some ponies are ridden by, Russians on sand mobiles drive up and down. We play cricket with some locals in underpants by the waters edge as the sun descends turning into a glowing orange disc, disappearing into cloud just a before it hits the horizon. There are quite a few hawkers with Xl polo shirts,saris, shorts, necklaces. Closer to the road is a guy with a monkey on a chain and a cobra which he offers to tourists to hold. A couple of cocktails later, I’m back at the guesthouse which is deserted. The soundtrack is fire crackers and the roar of the increasing waves.

Last day in khao sok and on to Koh mok

I have good intentions to do a few things such as having a massage, but achieve little beyond returning the bike and after half a day of weighing up options getting a ticket to trang. The rest of the day is spent at the restaurant and bar talking with various people. The world is due to end. It’s the end of a cycle on the Mayan calendar. At around 7.30 thereis a blackout…so this could be it. The dark and candles provokes discussions about beliefs, religions, philosophies. Klaus tells me about the student movements and the badder meinhoff supporters. He had no political leanings and unlike some of his peers was not excluded from being a state school teacher for any ideological reasons. Ingo points out that we talk louder when it is dark. The Canadians further away at the bar talk annoyingly loud. I had already taken a dislike to their jock like poses and attitudes. Soon they are in the restaurant too, all drunk and jumping around, being twats. Bird says he loves these guys cos they are happy…well…..

I suggest we decamp from the restaurant so that the girls can get to bed. At the bar it’s quite busy. I join a table where Paco and kristian from 2 nights previously are with their friend klaus, I go and then Austrian lukas. Son we are disturbed by a Canadian who engages me with British associations and themes. How he loves the accents in snatch. East end gangsters. Wants to know my views on the. England football team. Then, the worst thing is that he sits down and joins us. Dominating physically and volume wise. Making crass statements about nationality groups and boasting how BASE jumping has meant he no longer fears death or life. Ingo says he does not need to do that to not have fear. I ask the Canadian how that relates to an unimproved peril such s a terminal disease. S with most of my retorts he fails to grasp anything. We have to do something to stop him dominating us, so I coax. Him into a guessing game. He doesn’t have the lateral thinking skills to guess our jobs, so I suggest we try to guess his, which blInd to him gives us an opportunity to discuss what we think of him right in front of him..he is not creAtive, he talks a lot at people,…it becomes quite fun. We never get near the answer: he is in rr&d……what he also manged to slip in is a detail about how he can’t bed all his fingers on his right hand due to a knife practice incident in the army. It takes a while. He never gets us, and never sees how we have been mocking him, but eventually he leaves. We drink and smoke some more then its time for bed, one by one of us.

The next day I get up early to have breakfast, but the power is still off, and the place is deserted. When the cleaners appear , they will not do anything for me until they have finished that Thai obsession of sweeping up. I saw today at khao mok that hey even sweep the beaches. I even make up my own bill, as I know I’m running out of time before my pick up. Fortunately I do mange to squeeze ibreakfastbedore I go. It’s mostly locals on the mini bus to Surat Thani, where I am helped out and pointed toward s a place to weight for a second minibus to trang. Spend some time at the bus station buying more mangosteens, and taking some pics. I discovered that the power blackout had been over a huge area, reaching phanom . Weird when you think we are right next to a hydro electric power plant. It did seem like this was a symptom of the end…..

I should recount my dream. I met jez and pete from Nottingham. I think. I was in my house in brighton. There was an orange flash, a mushroom cloud in the sky. Lots of talk of an approaching tsunami , me saying I wanted to be with those 2 guys, but had lost them. I opened the door, there was rising water. I go up to the top of the house, the water has reached this level, some people Re telling me I will be sauce if I grab one off the floating blackened logs. I realise hat hese are parts of west pier which has been annihilated by a a tsunami wave.just then the is a nearer similar mushroom cloud.i know it’s the end. There is that classic whaling fading to white and everything is gone.

The deem has even more provenance as I end up on an island called Koh muk, which does in fact have signs all around indicating evacuation routes nod tsunami instructions.

The trang minibus drops off athe bus station which is far out of town. I mange to work out that I need a sawntaewn into town, roughly to the station. The power cut denied me electricity to charge my ipad and I am mapless. The town quite clearly is not what I want. Big, traffic, grey, nothing of note. The taxi lets me off near a cluster of travel agencies, and I get the lowdown on a good place to go. The. 2 places I go to both recommend the same place. I book with girls who spend the longest trying to match my priorities. On going to collect my bag at the first agency, I have a brief chat with a Norwegian woman who has been staying on Koh muk too, and she leads me to believe its a good choice. I had around10 minutes to make my mind up in order to get the last transfer at 4 pm. A good decision. A minibus drives for a around 40 mins, takes us to a jetty and we cross the sea studded with dramatic looking islands in about 35 mins.

On arriving on Koh muk, I’m met by dada, the owner of the garden resort I’m booked into. She is on a well used scooter, her daughter on pillion, and a 70cm fresh fish draped across the foot well. As is followed by her husband driving a ubiquitous motorbike sidecar combination which has a bench seat, but doubles up as a goods carrier. He takes my bag and the fish and the daughter and some boxes, and I jump on behind dada. I’m shocked and delighted by the road, rather a narrow windy sany, sometimes paved track that weaves through Woden houses on stilts with fires outside and families poor he’s preparing food, watching tv or just watching the world. I’m struck by the amount of plastic trash under the houses, on the edge of the. Sea. Our path is blocked by a felled palm tree, sow we take an even less clear route. The resort is around 8 bungalows on an incline next to the family house with its big porch which contains the restaurant and lounging area. This is directly above a narrow curved sany beach. Very secluded, very peaceful. A number of shy smiley girls work ther nod one of them, Koh, shows Myers my large but primitive room. I need electricity, but the one PowerPoint is burnt out. I go to he restaurant area ad after ordering and eating a red curry, meet a Dutch guy, William who supplies n adaptor which enables me to plug in there. I have a little stroll through the village then back again. Spend a pleasant evening chatting to William, and sharing some beers at the bar he is constructing. His. 2 labouring mates turn up later. Brothers both from the island.

 

I still have some kind of muscular problem. I twisted a muscle win my side when I jumped off the motorbike back at khao sok. It’s weird that you need muscles to lie down and turn your body when you sleep, and that’s when the pain is.

Anyway I’m still on Koh muk. My first day was languid and did involve getting burnt on the neck and shoulders. Stupid European skin. Been here 2 weeks and been really careful, but my skin is so sensitive to sunlight. I walked along the beach and through the village, pausing to watch fisherfolk (sounds quaint) repairing boats, nets, pulling huge squelchy fish and starfish out of entangled nets, kids playing with kites. I see a lot of birds, and an eagle, and a goat type animal sleeping on a low wall in a school ground. I follow a track, actually the main road up a hill, past some bigger houses and snaking up past another village. Houses on stilts, interconnected by gangways and blue water pipes. A few stalls selling snacks and drinks, the occasional motorbike passing me by, usually with a smile or hello greeting. Lots of beautiful butterflies in the bushes opposite. The road carries on into some jungle and past some guys making concrete by a pool and dam. This is being transferred further down the path to where they are turning the track into a narrow solid surface. I found out this is because over the hill, past a Couple of woodland resorts with tents and bars at the shore there is a big faring resort. Clean white wide sandy beach accessed through a well appointed collection of bungalows, shops, Internet room, lobby and even pool. I get as far as the beach then turn around. I don’t want to be there. Walking back up I see a metre long monitor lizard in my path and some other smaller reptiles. Back past the village I linger some more. Cockerels running around, a boy and girl showering dressed with a hose. I take lunch at palace by the sea, which has wifi. Som tam and pineapple shake. Right in front is an open stretch of beach where a collection of young boys aged between 5 and 11 are playing football. Brightly coloured kick and rush and lots of shouting. I position myself in a hammock nearby to watch the spectacle. They spot me nd rush over to ask where I’m from. The talkative one in the yellow shirt and purple shorts claims he is kaka and shows me his stopovers. All the other kids are boisterous and try to hack him down. I beging to take pictures, then show them, which they love. The youngest understands pretty fast how to navigate pictures on an iPad. I make some video too and they play up to me, telling their names and showing me their party tricks. Kaka’ is an illusion of pushing a nail through the back of his neck, and it appearing on his tongue inside his mouth. They wave and shout goodbye as far as they can see me disappearing.

At the garden resort I drift asleep reading, then go down and swing on a hammock in an afternoon overcast breeze. Very very tranquil. A Thai girl from the next bungalow is on a swing nearby. She starts talking to me after noticing we both. Had iPads. We talk more about where we are from, illustrated by sketching places in the sand. She is called peas and is. A doctor in hat Yai. She is here for 3 days with 4 other doctor friends, who I saw the night before watching the Thailand soccer match. I meet them all later at dinner and we chat a lot about how the media reports events in Thailand, about my job, about being a doctor travel experiences, my dream country. I realise there isn’t one. It is a combination of Vietnamese landscape, Thai people, vegetarian food, Asian winter weather, tropical fruit, ruined temples, sea. The weather here is refreshing. It rained heavily the first night and in the evening it spotted rain, and was very breezy. The breeze is never cold. I love it.

It’s now Christmas Eve. This means nothing really. There are no carols, no shops, no tv, and no pressure. It will be low key. I have decided to stay here til 26 and just chill. Money is stretched so even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t be having any blow outs. I settle up my rom in advance, to understand how much money I have left. Dada offers me a free kayak trip. She is great. Not sure if I will accept, being a bit of a landlubber.