We are back once more at our famous Lake Kumphawapi in northeast Thailand. Sampling of surface sediments at our previous coring locations, sampling of lake water, algae, and plants for biomarker analysis is what brought us back again. Possibly, and if time permits, we will also get a new core from another part of the lake to test if our theory of lake level changes really holds.
One problem with Kumphawapi is its dense aquatic vegetation, which makes it impossible to use a normal motor/propeller. Only those boats, which have a propeller that rotates horizontally, can be used, or boats with an extremely strong propeller. Paddling does not work either because even the strongest arms would not move the boat. So our two boats are completely useless here. Luckily we got help from some fishermen in the village, who not only drove Sheri, Kweku and Nut out to the old coring spot but also volunteered to lend their Tuk Tuk to our driver Lek, who thought that it was great fun to drive a Tuk Tuk instead of the minibus.
Kumphawapi has changed a lot since we were here last. The water level is even lower and much of the lakeshore, which used to be a wetland, has been converted into agricultural land. Trees have grown high, where nothing had grown before, and many of the fishing huts are now standing on dry land, far from the open water.
Kumphawapi is famous for its pink water lilies and even before some villagers had taken tourists out to admire these beautiful flowers. But now more and more of these boat sightseeing tours seem to pop up. I just wonder what Kumphawapi will look like in five or ten years, probably we won’t recognize the place anymore.