Phuket Airport, December 28, 2012 was the meeting point for most of us participating in the tsunami fieldwork. Hywel had flown in from Bristol, Linda from Stockholm, the Thai students Aim, Arm and Champ had arrived by bus from Bangkok and we came by boat/taxi from Koh Lanta. Waw, Andrew and Bank, who had arrived earlier and had already spent some days with fieldwork on Phra Thong had a really busy day. First they drove north to pick up the Swede boys Mats, Martin and Jesper, who had taken a bus from Bangkok to Ranong, then they travelled south to Phuket to meet us at the airport and the Thai students at the bus terminal. It was amazing that we all made it to the meeting point, despite our long and different travel routes.
A hired van took us north along the coast to Khura Buri Pier, where we stocked up on drinking water, beer, sweets and chips. Then we loaded all our equipment including ourselves on a long tail boat that had come all the way from Phra Thong and set off, passing small islands and extensive mangrove forests, for the one hour long boat trip to Phra Thong. It was already dark when we arrived in the small village on the eastern side of the island. From here it would be another 10 km on a small one-way track (concrete and sand) on the special island car: a small tractor with a trailer going at a speed of 10 km/hr at most. Unloading the boat and loading the trailer with all our stuff took some time, since we only had flashlights to show us the way. Finally we had everything securely packed and set off across the moon lit, flat landscape to arrive about an hour later on the western shore at Mr. Chui’s Phra Thong Island Resort, our accommodation for the coming days.
Sitting on a fully packed vehicle with 10 people for more than one hour and cruising at a speed of less than 10 km/hour through the flat landscapes of Phra Thong was an experience. Now and then we had to hop off and push our transporter out of the sand, then on again quickly to not being left behind. Thanks to the full moon and the clear sky, the whole landscape bathed in a gorgeous, magical, almost spooky light. The white, high tree trunks, the bushes and the thick grass, the stars and the moon all contributed to a feeling of being part of a completely unreal world. It would have been no surprise at all to suddenly see a few vampires or werewolves running past or jumping out from behind a tree.