Lake but no sediments

It is 9:35 pm. I am sitting in a wonderful bungalow surrounded by almost complete darkness and can only hear the sounds of hundreds of different insects and birds. What a fantastic place to spend the night!! I can hardly believe my luck – but unfortunately I can only stay here for one night. The one to blame for my bad luck is Nong Thale Song Hong, the lake we had planned to core for the next couple of days. It did not contain any good sediments and instead of several nights in this wonderful place, we will only stay this one single night.

It is once again thanks to Koy and her large family that we have the possibility to stay here. Koy’s uncle Suwit Jitparkdee is Associate Professor at the Fishery Department of Rajamangala University of Technology. It was he who had organised for us all to stay here in the guest bungalows on the Srivijaya Trang campus of Rajamangala University of Technology. Thanks very much! We are most grateful!!

I have a whole bungalow by myself. It includes a living room, a bedroom, bathroom and terraces, and I must say that I feel extremly privileged that I have the opportunity to stay here. From my point of view this is total luxury – silence, darkness and no other sounds than those of animals. I should however mention that mosquitoes are quite numerous and that I would probably not survive if the bungalow would not have very tight mosquito nets on all doors and window …..

The visit to Koy’s home yesterday and the warm welcome by her mother Kaen Inthongkaew, the tour to the chicken and pig farms and the meeting with so many of Koy’s large family, really gave us some insight into how people live here in the countryside of southern Thailand. Thanks Koy for organising all of this!!

Nong Thale Song Hong was the most promising and most important lake on my to do list here in the south. It had earlier been cored and studied and its bottom sediments had been reported to be around 20 000 years old. Since I visited the lake last time in 2007, it had been divided into two parts by a dam and one part of it had been completely dredged and remodelled. The other part seemed still ok. We started with our usual procedure of checking water and sediment depth. Ludvig, Moo and Nut paddled out and came back 2 hours later giving me not too much hope. They had found very hard clays iat around 4 m sediment depth. But I did not want to give up so easily, and decided to give it a try – we were lucky at the last place, so why not here. Right after lunch and when it was absoluely warmest, we paddled out with both zodiacs. It was so hot that one could hardly sit on the zodiac, touching any type of metal with just the hand was impossible, because it had become so terribly warm in the mid-day sun. Coring started quite promising – we reached a depth of around 6 m, pulled up the core and opened the corer – nothing but messed up sediments! What a disappointment!! Everything that had been deposited in this lake, and that would tell us a story of the last 20000 years was gone, dredged up, mixed up and redeposited. This was a bit hard for me to take in, because I had had such great hopes.
My dampened mood also influenced my interview with Nerys who wanted me to talk about the last lake we had cored and where we had found a long sediment sequence. She had not been able to film me there because it had rained so much one afternoon and on the next day, the noise of a wedding celebration had completely disturbed the recording …. But because my mood was down, I could not convey much enthusiasm!
Dinner tonight was at the beach. We had Papaya sallad, palm heart sallad with octopus, snails, giant shrimps and soup – delicious!
Tomorrow we move to Krabi where Moo’s cave is located and where Nut had checked out some more lakes. I am not too optimistic about the lakes, but we will see. In any case we already have two very good sediment sequences now and these will keep us busy for many months.

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