April I visited the South for a combination of work and visitation
of friends and relatives. The van was loaded with supplies and people.
We had 4 volunteers with us from overseas plus things for a newly
set up school for Burmese children at Khao Luck. I had a secret
wish of wanting to visit Similan
Islands for Nicorbar Pigeon but for lack of time (and
a quite expensive boat ride) this was not to be.
at a friends house in Phuket I got the inspiration to visit the
garbage dump at Saphan Hin in Phuket. Target bird was House
Crow which for some reason hasn’t invaded Thailand
as of yet. I managed to pick out a pair of them in between the many
Large-billed Crows. A colleague of
mine came along and it was quite amusing to see him getting excited
about a Crow! The site is next to mangroves and scrub and held a
good number of birds i.e. Rusty-breasted Crake,
Yellow-bellied Prinias, Little
Grebe and Yellow Wagtails.
Then we were
off for Krabi
and held a one day seminar at the Educational Department of the
city. We stayed at Maritime Spa and Park resort. The hotel graciously
gave us a complimentary room much to our delight. It was a very
spacious hotel with a homey feeling right next to the mangroves.
From the hotel room I saw a White-bellied
Sea Eagle fly by, watched Striated
Swallows in the air and enjoyed Scaly-breasted
Munias in the balcony flower bed. While enjoying the swimming
pool with the kids Swiftlets did acrobatics in the air while Vernal-hanging
Parakeets buzzed by. From Krabi there are many places to
go to look for birds and it was with great effort I resisted the
urge to take off. I decided to commit to the kids and family and
simply trust that I’d get an opportunity later on for some
‘much wanted’ birds. We moved on to another friend’s
resort at Ao Nang. This again is a real nice area and though it
has a fair amount of tourists one can still find tranquility and
until a few days later that I finally mustered up the guts to boldly
proclaim: ‘I am going off to Phi
Phi Island tomorrow, wanna come along?” By now
we had shifted to our friend’s house in town and the kids
had lots of fun with their peers so my suggestion didn’t receive
much of a response. At least I felt I had done a good deed by inviting
everyone to come along.
Ferry left from
Krabi at 3:15 pm. At 4:50 we reached the Island and by 5:05 I was
in a long-tailed boat going towards Bida Nork Island. The waters
were calm and sky shimmering blue. Perfect conditions. The regular
price for the boat is 900 Baht (23 US) which is a bit much since
there also is the ferry cost and the necessity of staying over night.
Half way to the Island a low flying Christmas
Island Frigatebird turned up 100 meters in front of us. Looking
up, a good number of Frigates were soaring on high. We turned off
the engine and for the next 20 minutes I laid on the back with bins
in my hands taking in wonderful views of Lesser
and Christmas Island Frigatebirds.
Both of them were new birds for me and something I had wanted to
see for a long time.
The boatman was happy with half the pay as we didn’t have
to go all the way to Bidah Nork. He was very talkative when he found
out I speak Thai and kept telling about what happened that fateful
day the Tsunami struck. He likened it to the days of Noah and believed
it was part of Apocalyptic events. I handed him a little pamphlet
in Thai outlining what the Bible has to say about the days we are
living in which he eagerly received.
Once back on
Phi Phi Island I had to find a hotel. Things are a bit more expensive
here and it took me awhile to find a small room with a fan for 500
commercial side of the Island has been built up quickly and there
was an amazing amount of shops, cafes, restaurants etc. Loads of
western tourists were showing off their newly acquired tans. Mostly
young folks seem to gather here. I spent the evening talking to
many people ranging from restaurant owners to waiters finding. The
Tsunami has brought a certain soberness to the people living on
the Island and many are eager to share their hearts.