Kumphawapi’s water lilies have become a big business. Huge signs are leading visitors from the highway and the main roads through villages and dirt roads towards the two sightseeing points on the eastern and western shore of the lake. Colorful plastic boats and a whole armada of guides await the tourists, who are eager to see the beautiful lilies popping up everywhere on the lake. The flowers open only when the sun is shining and close their beautiful petals as soon as the sky is overcast.
We were pretty surprised yesterday to see how ‘our’ lake has transformed and how the two spots from where we used to depart had undergone a complete transformation. Our idea had been to present the poster about our studies to the village which used to have a small and pretty ugly sign advertising Kumphawapi’s water lilies. This sign was gone and colorful posters and advertisements were now all over the place!
Our first stop was the new sightseeing place on the eastern shore that seemed to just have started. Moo presented the poster to one of the responsible persons, who had to call her boss, who when she had turned up, thought we were some kind of NGO, who wanted to prevent her from enlarging the little harbor …. Enlarging would mean digging out the sediments, of course. This boss did not seem too pleased with us turning up, and reluctantly accepted Moo’s beautiful poster.
Stop number two was on the other side of the lake, where an even bigger water lily business had started, involving the whole village. Boats and guides, large posters, a large parking, souvenirs, restaurants, and local handcraft and obviously involved many villagers. Here the people were really interested in our poster and happily accepted both an English version and a newly printed Thai version of it, which got us in a much better mood. So we decided that we should support this little village and this local business by renting three of their boats for coring (hoping that the guides who accompanied us would see what and how we are doing), eating in the recently opened restaurant, buying local produce and the locally made shirts with prints of the Kumphawapi water lilies for the whole group. The villagers were friendly and helpful and I do hope that Moo’s posters have found their right place and will be admired by all the visitors to come!
Stop number three was at our other lake site Pa Kho, some 10-15 km from Kumphawapi. Also here things have changed! New houses are being built along the shore, and the intention is to also have water lilies in the lake to attract tourists. Should we ever come back in a few years, we would not recognize Pa Kho anymore. I can imagine a long line of modern houses along the lake, which will be totally covered by pink water lilies.
What a luck, that we had been in time to collect our sediments. In a few years time no one will anymore be able to reconstruct the history of these lakes based on their sediments. The new cores from Kumphawapi that we got yesterday and the cores we will be getting tomorrow from Pa Kho will need to be safely stored as a document for the future!