How shall we manage to get all our samples out of the country and into Thailand? This question has been on my mind for several days now. My first worry, some days ago, was about the equipment and the permission to sample the lakes, but all this had been solved elegantly: equipment and permission had arrived in time. My second worry was about finding sediments in the lakes, but also this worry turned out to be no worry, since most of the lakes could be easily sampled, except my favorite lake, Banana Lake or Shinme Chauk. The lake contains sediments for sure, but these cannot be sampled with our equipment …
Fieldwork in far away places is very expensive. The transport of our equipment is expensive, our travels cost a lot of money, car rental is expensive and we invest a great amount of our time to plan and then carry out the fieldwork. All this adds up to a high scientific price for each sediment core, and for each sample, already before the expensive lab analyses start! A high scientific price, but without any commercial value – since who in the world wants to buy and sell sediment cores??
Probably if I would add up all the costs, one meter of sediment could be worth at least 2000 USD. Loosing the sediments, or not being able to send them back home and into the cold room within a short time, would mean a great loss for our research. Thus, I have been worrying if we would be able to export the samples and how quick we would be able to get our sediments back home.
But as so often in Asia – no need to worry! At breakfast one morning we met an important person, who immediately issued a letter stating that we can take all our sediment cores, our surface and water samples with us to Thailand. In addition, and at about the same time, another big boss turned up and also he issued a letter stating the same thing. Armed with three different letters and with copies of these letters, we, and our samples are now ready to leave Monywa and Myanmar!
But before we leave we need to clean the coring equipment and the rubber boat, and we have to pack the cores and the samples carefully for transport. And once this is done we will go out and celebrate the end of this very successful fieldwork in a nice restaurant.
It feels a bit sad to leave Monywa and the boys behind us, and I very much hope to see some of them again. Hopefully one or two of the students can come to Stockholm University to work on the sediment cores for their MSc project.