I awake slowly to the sound of waves lapping on the shore and birds cheeping faintly in the background.  The bed which lulled me into a deep sleep last night is still hugging me tight.  I lie back against the cool white pillows and stretch slowly whilst soaking up the delicious sounds of the peace and tranquility of staying at Islanda Eco Village Resort .  I am feeling fully refreshed from one of the best sleeps I’ve had in a long time.  My body adjusts slowly to waking up as I check out the schedule for today which is officially day two of our trip, but first as always, a coffee 🙂

I move from my bedroom pod which is nicely chilled by air conditioning through to the warmer outdoor area of my room (this is an Eco hotel so a/c is only placed where it needs to be) and then into the kitchen area where I heat some water to make  plunger of coffee.  I’ve brought some great Kenyan coffee and my trusty plunger travel cup which allows you to brew ground coffee and add milk and use as a travel cup – this cup has traveled with me many miles.  I’ve also brought my Aeropress which also travels too – so my coffee needs are covered.

Whilst the kettle boils I step outside of my room to the outdoor bathroom which I love, there’s something that always makes me smile about taking a shower outdoors.  Following on with the eco theme, there is an option for a traditional shower or to use the mandi system where you scoop water from a large clay pot, firstly to get you wet, then you soap up, then you rinse so it uses a lot less water than a traditional shower.   I choose mandi style as it’s more Eco friendly and it’s exhilarating too as the water is just a little cold.

Showering over, and fueled up with coffee I make my way through the resort to meet the rest of Team Dubai who are already feasting their way through breakfast.  I’m not a huge breakfast fan straight after my coffee so the helpful team make me an omelette which they happily pack up for me to eat on the go later, spotting my coffee mug they also replenish me with more coffee so it’s a great start to my day.

We have an interesting day planned today, we are staying on the Island of Koh Klang and exploring the local village life.  But before I take you on a virtual tour of our day, here’s a little bit about Koh Klang. Located among the Krabi River and Andaman Sea. Koh Klang is a Muslim community with a crime rate of zero.  Koh Klang is a charming and peaceful island with a population of just over 5,000 people where the majority of the community make their living by agriculture.  Most families are fishers followed by rice farmers  but more recently they have started to get involved in tourism too.  Located just a ten minute long tail boat ride away from Krabi town, it feels like we are a world away from the hustle and bustle of daily lives.  There are no cars on the island, just SkyLabs which are described as motorbike tuk tuks.  This is a great island to experience nature, and local culture as well as to visit community arts and crafts groups and also to soak up some peace and tranquility and fully relax.

The island is famous for the Hua Ton Boat which is the long tail boat which is recognised as the symbol of South Thailand and also for Sangyod Rice which is grown only in Koh Klang and Pattalung.

Our first stop of the day is to go visit the shallow water fishing where we take a long tail boat out in the shallow water to see how the fish are caught using local submerged fishing nets.  The fish are caught in the tidal flows and as the water gets shallow at low tide, fish can be caught without the use of a boat which is not only a novel approach, but it’s also eco friendly.  Catch of the day today is mainly some squid, tiny fish and a pomfret which flaps around our boat with full energy causing a few screams and quick maneuvers as we dodge the sometimes flying fish.

On returning to dry land, we board our SkyLabs and head around the coast towards some mangrove and sand flats where we dig with local digging tools to find clams (huay waan) and small crabs.  It’s hot and sweaty work as the humidity is rising and we are delighted to walk back to a shaded local cafe for cold drinks, local tea and to pass the time of day relaxing with a cold towel to mop our sweaty brows.

I’m getting to love our SkyLab travel, each Skylab is  decorated differently according to the owners taste and there are some really novel looks including the Liverpool City one which we see a few times.  There’s something quite refreshing about nipping around the island on the Skylabs, each trip is different, we have different companions along the way, mixing with our Emirati students, local guides, members of the Thailand Tourist Authority, the Film Crew  and other members of the trip and each time the naturally air conditioned SkyLab nips along the roads in a exhilarating ride with the odd emergency stop either to avoid another Skylab or simply because we shout “stop” as we’ve seen a great view and need a photo shot.

Before long, it’s time to take in lunch and we stop off at Maying Restaurant where we are treated to a tour around this floating fish farm before partaking in some delicious food with the main ingredients including fish and river prawns either from the fish farm itself or locally sourced ingredients all freshly cooked in the kitchen by Chef Bow and his wife.  The food is a whole separate post, but here are a few pictures to tempt your tastebuds.

After a hearty yet fresh, spicy and tasty lunch we hop back into our SkyLab and head towards a small house where we are shown Sangyod rice which originally comes from Patalung province and has a distinctive salty flavour because of the salinity of Koh Klang’s soil.  Its interesting to see how the rice is firstly bashed in a large version of a mortar and pestle fueled only the energy of the lady who is enthusiastically bashing the rice (we try and can confirm that it’s really hard work especially in the heat and especially when practiced for more than a few minutes which is as long as we manage). I’m guessing no gyms are required here as the bashing gives a good cardio and arm workout whilst the sifting of the rice from the chaft gives a great hip and waist workout, imagine a hula hoop type movement and you won’t be far wrong.  Certainly the lady doing it made it look far easier than it was in practice !

Later in the evening, I find out that the rice farming is a truly community activity and business.  The villagers work side by side in the fields planting and harvesting the rice.  Other community activities include the selection of premium quality rice grains, practising organic agriculture, reclaiming farmland and husking of the rice at a community rice mill.

After the rice, we once again board our SkyLab and whizz along towards the next stop, where we stop off to visit the model ‘Hua Tong’ Long Tailed Fishing Boat Group.  Here we are given a partly assembled Long tailed boat and we are helped to finish completion of the boat by attaching a few parts of the boat.  Whilst that was fun, the interesting part of the story is how the kits came into being.  The Governor of Krabi wanted a traditional souvenir to reflect Krabi province, it was suggested that model fishing boats would be the answer and so Madap Manka, an experienced boat builder and his son Sombun began producing the boats in 2002.  Government agencies and UNICEF provided training to a group of members and now Sonbun Manka now leads the boat model group and the skills he and the team have learned are being passed down through the generations as well has helping the islanders to make additional income.

20130401_090041Our final village tour ends up at the Patae Textiles Group which was founded in 2002 by one of the sweetest ladies I have ever met – I swear that we all wanted to adopt her as our granny.  Prajim Lekdum established the group which now comprises of 30 members, who make ‘Katik’ designs with hot wax using  Patae stamps which are  printed onto cloth.  The designs are then coloured in with different coloured dyes which are made on site and are a mixture of traditional and more modern adaptions.  We were all given the opportunity to complete some of the batik choosing from a rich array of colours and a few days later were presented with our own batik paintings to bring home as a memory of our trip.  This is another group where the additional income helps to support the islanders.

And so our village exploration ends, I should mention that some of the more energetic members of our group jumped onto cycles at various parts of the day and cycled their way around the island and between some of the activities.  I must confess I didn’t at the time, but wish I had as it looked like a lot of fun and the island is an easy and friendly place to explore.

So, once again, later in the afternoon, you find me on my sun lounger or in the pool, relaxing in the beautiful peaceful resort, enjoying some more chilled beer doing nothing more than working up a lazy appetite for a cooking class which Ishita who writes at IshitaUnblogged and I have chosen to do later in the eventing with Chef Bow back at the Maying Restaurant – but that’s a whole new post.  Until then – I’m closing my eyes, feeling the warmth of the sun and hearing those gently waves lapping on the beach and a few birds chirping in the background.

Thanks for reading

Disclaimer : This is part 2 in a series of posts about my recent trip to Krabi and Bangkok as a guest of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Middle East and Aviareps Group.  All opinions are my own based on my experiences of the trip in April 2013.

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