Chris and Gabs provide their June update from the Thai island of Phi Phi
Where are we this month?
Take one guess?! Yes, we are still on Thai island of Phi Phi. How many months now in Thailand? Four Months. How many days on Phi Phi? Fourteen weeks and three days.
We have three weeks left on our amnesty visa and we are still waiting for the Thai Government to decide on what they will do about all the foreigners that are stranded in Thailand. Surrounding countries’ land borders are not going to be opening any time soon either. So, we are still none the wiser in our future cycling plans. We are hoping Thailand will extend our amnesty for a further two months and by then we hope Malaysia will have opened their land borders and we can continue are tour.
Fact about the Thai island of Phi Phi
December 26, 2004 at 9:45 am local time, a 10 feet high wave struck the coast of Koh Phi Phi. The consequences were dramatic. Nearly 800 people disappeared, but more than 5,000 people probably died in the killer waves that destroyed the island. Almost all the infrastructures were destroyed. This tsunami was the result of a major earthquake that occurred three hours earlier in Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia.
It took more than a year to rebuild the island’s infrastructure and habitation, and today Phi Phi is again able to welcome tourists.
Experts learned from the tsunami and an alert system was introduced on the busiest beaches of the island. The villagers have also been trained to react to future disasters. On the island, signs indicate an “Evacuation Route” which leads to the highest point of the island.
Highlights this month
We have now been living in our small Thai village on Phi Phi Island with the sea gypsies for three months and we feel like one of the locals. We have made many friends and experienced many new things. We have got close to one family in particular. Somdech miraculously survived the tsunami as he was out on his long tail boat when it hit. He has a huge scar all the way across his stomach and sadly his friend never made it. Now the village is suﬀering again from the eﬀects of Covid. We met Somdech when we ﬁrst arrived here and he has taken us out ﬁshing many times. He has also invited us to his hut for dinner with his family and is always giving us ﬁsh he has caught that day for us to cook. Somdech’s family rely on tourists for their income taking tourists ﬁshing and snorkeling. Now that the whole Island is closed and there are no tourists the family is struggling and faces an uncertain future. They are always however cheerful and always wanting to help us. So, this month we wanted to surprise Somdech and his family with a supply of food. We let them decide what they wanted, and so we supplied them with many bags of rice, crates of Coca Cola, cooking oils and new clothes.
Happy Food Parcels Part Two
After we gave Somdech’s family their gift we wanted to help all the other struggling families. So with help from our other good friend Bang-dim, we arranged to give the 35 families in the village food parcels which helped feed and clothe 200 family members, which Bang-dim named the “Happy food parcels, spreading happiness’.
Each food parcel consisted of essentials such as rice, noodles, ﬁsh oil, canned ﬁsh, drinks and various items of clothing.
Here are our good friends who helped us prepare the next batch of happy food parcels, ready to be delivered around the island. They were delivered by long tail boat to the families living on the shores, and motorbike to the families living in the jungle. It was a special day meeting all the families and great fun driving around on the scooter doing the deliveries.
What else have we been up to this month?
Chris has been very busy this month helping out and ﬁlming Somdech and Bang-dim make their ﬁshing baskets, taking them out on the long tail boat to drop them in the sea and collect the ﬁshing baskets that have already been left at the seabed for the past ten days. This is a lot of hard work and a long process. Sometimes they may only have caught four ﬁsh over the ten days the basket has been on the seabed. That’s why they make many baskets and drop them in the sea. This way they can feed their families on a daily basis with fresh ﬁsh from the sea. I’ve been a couple of times, but I keep getting seasick. Somdech laughs at me now and says “better you stay here” when I saying I’m going with them. Also, I think they prefer me not being there as it’s the man’s work in the village to do the ﬁshing and the women stay home and cook.
A day working in the depths of the ocean on marine conservation
This month we were able to help clean 3 coral tables where coral is being grown, and they are coming along nicely. The larger ‘massive’ corals only grow at rates of 0.3 to 2 centimetres per year, but these branching corals will grow up to 10 centimetres per year. So, when you think it can take up to 10,000 years to produce a coral reef, this type of conservation is vitally important.
Many areas of the national parks here have been closed for years. They were closed when we were here four years ago to allow for regrowth. With there being very few tourists in Thailand now, it’s working wonders for marine life.
So once these corals have grown large enough, they will be replanted around the national parks here in the Andaman Sea. It was amazing to see and we were very lucky to get this experience.
Thoughts and feelings
Even though we are unable to cycle and continue with our cycling challenge at the moment for Prevent Breast Cancer, we have been very busy with radio, newspaper and TV interviews, trying our best to get more publicity to raise awareness about our charity. So, thank you to all our supporters and your donations. It means a lot to us and we will continue when we can with our cycling tour.
So, for now we will help out with Somdech’s family and help the village people as much as we can. Hopefully, we should get an announcement from the Thai government sometime in July to see if they will extend our visas. All we can do is wait and take it day by day as things are changing daily. Countries nearby say they are going to let people in and give a date, then they announce the next day they have changed their minds. Only time will tell.
Remember you can watch all Chris’ wonderful ﬁlms he has made about our adventures on our website.
Read last month’s newsletter here.
To donate, click here.
Last but not least, here are the quiz answers from our last blog!
2. PHI PHI ISLAND
3. SEA GYPSIES
4. BAMBOO & MOSQUITO ISLAND
5. CHRIS PROPOSED TO GABS
7. WATER WELLS OR EVAPORATED SEA WATER USING PLASTICS BOTTLES
8. FISH & FRUIT
10.FLOATS FOR THE FISHING BASKETS