We are really lucky to have Koy with us. She not only speaks the southern Thai dialect, but also has a huge family with numerous uncles, aunts, cousins and second cousins who all live in the area around Trang. Today was family day allowing us a glimps into daily life in the south. Instead of visiting lakes and coring for sediments, we checked out the local market, visited Koy’s mother’s house and stopped by several of her cousins and uncles.
Thung Song, the city where we had spent the last days, celebrated Saturday with a large parade of the local private school. The kids dressed up in their school uniforms, in elaborated Thai costumes and fancy dresses and paraded with music through the city’s main road.
And just round the corner from the main street, we found the daily morning market where fresh vegetables, fruits, sweets, meat, and fish were sold. Although some people did their shopping on foot, most of them seemed to go shopping on scoters. Scoter after scoter rolled through the narrow market street, often holding a whole family.
The last thing we needed to do today, was to find someone who could regularly monitor the precipitation and who could take water samples in the lake and also sample the rain water. Koy contacted the mayor of the commune for advice, and he invited us over to his house to discuss the whole issue in more detail. It turned out that his wife was a school teacher, that she was willing to do the sampling for us during the coming year, and that she will send all the samples to Chulalongkorn University. We were even allowed to set up the rain gauge that Christophe had constructed, in their garden. The mayor’s wife even has a Facebook site which means that we can easily connect with her.
We strolled up and down the market, bought some food, some presents, and new flip-flops, and talked to the local sellers, while Nerys was totally occupied with filming. Nerys found so many new things to film, new angles and loads of small details that she completely forgot how hot it had become and how time had passed.
Moo, Koy, Sheri and I tried our luck in making some of the delicious fried sweets and Sheri even ended up behind the counter selling sweets. Maybe she has after all found her new profession? The only problem will be to choose between rubber or banana planter, fried sweets baker and cake seller. What will she choose?
After four hours at the market (we could have stayed even longer, and only discovered too late that the market was even larger than we had thought!), we continued our travel south via Phattalung to Koy’s village, which is situated some 30 km east of Trang. Koy’s mother had volunteered to show us how to cut rubber trees to obtain latex and had also invited us to her house for coffee and some sweets. The house was situated in a lush garden with fruit trees and beautiful flowers, not far from the rubber plantation. Koy’s little niece was very curious about us, and especially about Nerys and her film camera. But the main target for Nery’s filming was Koy’s mother and the rubber plantation – how to cut the tree bark and how to collect the latex. Of course we also had a try at making cuts and I could very well imagine a future career as rubber planter, the only disadvantage would be to get up in the middle of the night to cut the bark, and the (invisible) mosquitoes which attack despite different types of anti-mosquito repellent.
Our excursion into the daily life of the local population brought us to one of Koy’s uncle’s chicken farm and to one of her cousin’s pig farm. I am quite sure that those of you who are reading this will think of “bird flu” and “swine flu” – yes, sure now we can add also these to our long list of dangers: dead pythons, wasp attacks, heavy monsoon rains over the lake, mosquito bites, and what ever …. but we are still surviving and we are surviving quite well!
Koy’s cousin was preparing for a big evening party and invited us to join, but we decided to move on. It was embarrassing enough to arrive unannounced at his house to look at the pigs in the middle of their party preparations.
After a short stop at the local temple, which is actually the first temple we have visited on this trip, we concluded the day with yet another delicious dinner in a steak house. Since it was Saturday evening the restaurant was crowded with Thai families eating out.