Only two days have passed since my last entry. But the gap between rural southern Thailand with rubber and pineapple plantations, small villages, and cattle crossing the streets, and the coast of Krabi where farang (= tourists) seem to outnumber the local population is enormous. We have come to a different world! A café latte costs 80 THB, which equals 20 SEK, same price as in Stockholm!! Who but tourists can pay so much? Compare to a full lunch out in the countryside, which costs maybe 20-30 THB. Four lunches for one latte!
Two lakes and one cave in the surroundings of Krabi had been on our to-do-list. The first site had shown up as a lake on the topographic map, but when we checked it out, only a small depression remained. The rest had been turned into farmland. The second lake on our list had, according to the local school teacher, only been dredged along the shore and looked very promising. I was tempted to get the zodiacs ready to check water and sediment depth … but then had a second thought. Maybe it would be better to drive around the lake and to talk to older people who have lived all their lives here. Ask them what they know about the dredging, about the lake and about the dam. Some small farmsteads were located on the other side of the lake, and people there would probably know more. Nut, Koy and Moo easily found someone they could talk to, an older couple and their family. Both told us what I did not want to hear. Not only had the lake been dredged completely but also large machines had been used to pump all the sediment out, pile it up along the other shore and create new land for the school.
The local couple told us that there had been a lake when they were young, some 60-70 years ago. The lake gradually grew over and only little water was left. The government therefore decided about 10 years ago to restore the lake, because it would then provide freshwater and opportunities for fishing, which are important for the local population. A history of thousands and thousands of years pumped up and deposited as the base of a school. What could be better!!
Fresh and delicious pineapples are sold all along the roadside. Six cut and sliced pineapples for 5 SEK! This is the place to indulge in pineapples. Of course we needed to get some.
Next on our programme was a visit to Moo’s cave. I wanted to see the cave and the stalagmites, and we also wanted to sample an active stalagmite and place out monitoring equipment. The cave is wonderful and the drop stones are marvellous, they come in so many different shapes, sizes and colours! We walked around the cave for about 3 hours, went from one chamber into the next, climbed steep up through narrow gateways and enjoyed the complete silence. Sampling has to wait, however, and the monitoring equipment did not fully work. Luckily Ludvig will be back in Thailand in a few months and will then have the possibility to return to the cave.
So for now we have no more lakes or caves on our programme. We have managed a lot of work during the past 2 weeks, and the two lake-sediment sequences we have are more than I would have expected to obtain. Especially given the conditions for lakes and wetlands in this country. During the three field seasons we have had here, we have likely checked out all of the existing ‘natural’ lake/wetland in the north, northeast and south. Now it is time to commit ourselves to the analytical work and get as much information as possible out of these sediments. Sheri and I will use the remaining time to work with Koy and Pare who need to finish their MSc theses this year, and to work as much as possible on our first manuscript. We won’t stay here in Krabi, but will move to a small island with less noise.