Thursday, 13 March 2008

Andaman Trip - Day 2

Whoever talked about the peace and quiet of the countryside has obviously never tried to go to sleep on an Island off the Andaman Coast of Thailand. I have never experienced noise like it!! There were creatures that hummed, buzzed, flapped, croaked, rustled, hooted, clucked, squawked, bleated and there was even something that sounded like two really pissed off ducks, one at either end of the house, having an argument!! (They weren't ducks they were gecko's - how can something that small make a noise that big??). Oh, and that was just the noise outside.....Mum talked in her sleep and Dad snored like a drain!!. Honestly, when the cockerel started crowing at five in the morning I was ready to go out and shoot the bloody thing (I did mutter 'roast potatoes' at it when I passed it later that morning but, don't worry, that was as aggressive as I got).

The chicken thing. So there was a very odd noise outside our window that didn't sound like your bog standard animal noises......after listening for a few minutes I had to ask what the noise was. I never in a million years expected the answer 'That is the chickens getting ready to go to sleep in the trees'. Now I don't know about you lot but I have always believed that Chickens can't fly (has anyone else seen Chicken Run?) well, apparently they can....and they sleep in trees!!! My gast was well and truly flabbered - well done Dad you got it spot on!!. (This explanation had just been given when we heard a very loud thud - I can only guess that it was one of said chickens falling out it's tree......does anyone else find the image of chickens sleeping in trees a funny one or is it just me?)

Aherm.....moving swiftly on - We were in the only house on the Island with a shower, a freezing cold shower but a shower none the less, so we all took turns under the icy blast (I tell you a cold shower doesn't half wake you up in the morning!!) and then went downstairs to help with breakfast. roti with chopped banana and condensed milk......a dieter’s nightmare but boy does it taste good!! So not only did we get to learn how to make the roti dough we were then taught how to make an actual roti!! The dough was retrieved (I'm sure Noi had attacked it once we had gone to bed - there were a hell of a lot more rounds there in the morning than there had been the night before!!) and then a large stainless steel saucepan was put upside down on the floor and smeared with oil. You put your roti ball in the middle of the saucepan and spread it out into a thin square shape with your fingers, then you pick it up, flick it over your shoulder and flip it back down onto the saucepan where you then scoop it up, twist it and then make, what can only be described, as a turd shape with it. It is then taken over to the stove where it is flattened and fried in butter. I was crap at the whole tossing it over your shoulder thing (as you can see) but it still tasted divine!!

After breakfast we helped feed the goats and, once the other group came and joined us, we set about the task of constructing pots out of bamboo to house the baby orchids we were to plant. Blimey those things are not easy to make!! Round green bamboo and small nails are not a good combination - there was much muttering under breath being done as bits of bamboo were sent spinning into the air, nails were bent and fingers were bashed!! Still, every one of us managed it and it was with great pride that we planted our orchids inside and painted our names on our pots!! A quick freshen up and it was time to go on our jungle hike. The hike was who would have thought I would have used the word fab when referring to physical exercise!! We saw an eagles nest, were shown a plant which leaves are famous for curing headaches, were shown a tree who's sap is used to waterproof the fisherman's boats and we got to see the Dragon Egg Plant's flowers - aren't they beautiful. (This plant is only found on the Island and it only flowers once a year so we were really lucky to see them). It took just over an hour to do the whole hike but it was well worth it!! We had lunch and then packed up our stuff and headed back to the mainland to go to our next home stay in the village of Ban Talae Nok. (I was quite sad to be leaving the Island - we had got on so well with our host family I would have loved to have stayed another night!!)

When we got back to the mainland Kelly left our group and we were joined by Tui who was taking her place as our translator. Ban Talae Nok was very different to what we had just experienced at Tung Nang Dam - it was a proper village (The Island just had houses dotted about). Before the tsunami, the village was divided into two, an upper and lower part. The lower village, located by the beach, provided easy access for the fishermen to go out to sea - the tsunami destroyed all 20 houses in the lower village. Ban Talae Nok lost 46 villagers in the tsunami, 16 of whom were children.

The first place we were taken was the local community centre which was right in the heart of the village - The BWG had paid for it to be built and I have to say that it is used to it's full potential!! Can you guess what this is a photo of? They are bamboo piggy banks!! Every child in the village is given one to decorate, they are encouraged to save up any spare change that they have and then once every three months the banks are broken, the change counted and the child that has saved the most gets a prize (The money then gets put into a bank account). I thought they were a brilliant idea!!

After dropping off our stuff we walked up to the new section of the village (Built just past the old upper part of the village) to learn how to make Batik with the Batik Co-operative. I had so much fun - it was completely and utterly my sort of thing!! I think our little group were the last to arrive cause when we got there they only had two cushion cover sized pieces of fabric left and one sarong size which was HUGE!! (Guess who was given the large piece!!). So, first you draw out your pattern using a pencil, then, when you’re happy with it, you go over your lines using hot wax and then you colour it in using fabric paints. We had so much fun - the villagers from the area all came out to say hi and to have a look at our creations - I ended up with four or five people all helping me finish the background of mine (If they hadn't I think I might still have been there!!) . There was such a lovely feeling of community.....I really felt honoured to be a part of it!!

After Batik we walked down to the beach to watch the sunset. OMG it was absolutely stunning!! (I made a wee friend on the walk down - a little girl called Noot latched herself to turned out that her Mum had told her that people with Tattoo’s were sinners.....I think 'Mum' had thought it would keep her away from me but it had the complete opposite effect - she thought I was wonderful and spent the rest of the time I was there following me around and holding my hand!!). We were lucky enough to see the fishermen bringing in their nets and I think we all managed to get some stunning photos. After the sunset we had dinner and then we dressed up in Muslim dress. It was an absolute hoot - I will let the photo's do the talking......


Mel said...

I love that you are the only one in that group photo wearing flip flop shoes! You have truly embraced the Thai lifestyle ;-) The view looks spectacular! Loving hearing of your adventure. (see you again soon!)

JJ said...

Oooh, those roti sound too good.

Carol and Chris said...

Mel - LOL....not sure if sitting on the squat, laughing at chickens in trees and being crap at making roti really qualifies me for the proper Thai lifestyle!!

JJ - OMG JJ they were divine!! I have looked for a roti man here but haven't found one yet....actually that's probably not such a bad thing or I really will have to get a 'wide load' sign for my ever expanding backside!!

C x

SueG said...

This is great. And the photos! It all sounds wonderful -- even the cold shower!

Anonymous said...

Photos are fantastic, what an amazing experience, I wouldn't have wanted to leave either! So pleased that you proved that tattoo'd people aren't all bad. Bet you didn't think you would be viewed as exotic in a place like that?

Love Mum xx

Anonymous said...

Chickens who knew. Glad it all went well for you and you got to fall off a rabbit - only you


Carol and Chris said...

Sue - It was incredible and I would love to do it again!!

Mum - There are big spiders and no air-con....I think you might have wanted to leave :-). Hmmm.....not sure if sinner is quite the same as exotic!!

Tomato - I weird is that!! (I also can't believe that no-one else has said anything about the chickens!!). Yes....falling off the rabbit was not my proudest moment but it did give everyone else something to laugh at :-)

C x

Lane said...

The chicken falling out of a tree made me laugh too. Why is that?

Oh that sunset ... and roti balls (not that I've had one but that breakfast sounds delicious)... and batik. Plus all that wonderful nature and lovely people. What a trip.

The piggy banks are brilliant and I love the photo of you in Muslim dress:-)

Carol and Chris said...

Lane - I'm so glad it's not just me who find the whole chickens in trees thing rather hilarious!!

It was brilliant - I think I'm going to go back at some point with Chris as I think he would love it (well, apart from the no beer bit....that he may struggle with)

The ladies I was there with reckoned I looked like a native when the headscarf went on. It was an interesting experience!!

C x