Phra Thong Island

The walk from the restaurant to the boat dock isn’t very far – most of the crew is carrying backpacks and we all have been issued a bright red life jacket for the duration. Think we’re noticed along the road? Just a little… There are a few food shops and some gathering areas. I notice pool tables and karaoke attract all ages. Quite an assortment of dogs are milling about. Off to the left, behind some shops, are the relocation homes that were built for the residents of “our” island. Several rows of one room houses. We had about 10 minutes to walk though there on our way to the dock. Many people weren’t home, and our translators were working overtime, trying to help us communicate. I stood near a woman who was telling her story – our translator was so wrapped up in what she was hearing, she forgot to translate! We all board the boats – there are 3 waiting for us. They’re long and wooden…everyone has on their life jacket. Some are sitting on the sides of the boat, dangling their legs into the water. It’s warm – both the air and the ocean. One of the boats has a small cover to escape the sun. Sunscreen is applied to everyone. The island trip takes an hour – of course, our boat is “the fastest”, per Steve. The boat seems to move at a fast pace, and we are surrounded by islands on all sides. Very green and very dense with trees of all sorts. With each island, we’re all thinking, “is this the one?” Finally, we see a break in the horizon – the Indian Ocean is visible just ahead! Our island sits off to the left…you can see how “un-dense” the vegetation is. Lots of sand, more palm trees, and a house or two. As we turn into the psuedo docking area, the remnants of a concrete bridge or walkway are poking out of the water. A parital dock ends abruptly. I start to “get a clue.” The tide was up so we were able to get the boats in a little. Jumping off and into the ocean goosh…trying to stay dry isn’t a real priority! I already see the wisdom in the water sandals I bought – flip flops are getting stuck all around me! It’s a short walk to “Uncle Lek’s” house. I recognize what I’m seeing from the pictures the crew that came in March have shown us. A group of men from Burma are there, working on the foundation for one of the two houses to be built. (The Burmese people are in Thai illegally, and are looked down upon by the Thai. They are only able to take the lowest paying jobs. The oceans here have pirates – many are from Burma.) We spend 2 1/2 hours doing a variety of things – making piles of palm fronds and coconuts, chopping down dead cashew trees, helping with the foundation and getting a taste of island work. There is a cloud cover so the heat is bearable. Lots of water and sunscreen for everyone. On the ride back, our boat was puffing black smoke out of the exhaust pipe. Our driver poured a bottle or two of water down the exhaust pipe – no more problem! (I wouldn’t recommend trying this on any cars!) Dinner, bus, shower, bed. We are all wiped.

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