Blog // Tales from the trail
We had certainly arrived in dugong country! How did we know; well, let's look at the evidence...
and finally, anyone who caricatures a dugong to be the personality-equivalent of Jessica Rabbit must feel a strong affirmation for the animal.
Trang city (pronounced Trrrrang) is surrounded by lush, green valleys housing national parks, botanic gardens and wildlife conservation centres. We spent a day zooming round the hills on a moped and managed to find the wildlife conservation centre, as well as stumbling across the smallest statue in the world, apparently (how do they know?)
The city itself is 'amiable', pleasantly surprising, having been described by a guidebook as an industrial thoroughfare. It has a certain charm - a gentle buzz, with an obvious Chinese influence to it, dim-sum carts, roast pork and Chinese lanterns dotted around the place.
We were staying at a basic but very friendly guesthouse. The proprietors filled us in on local news - 'there is currently a drought in the North and the government are going to make clouds'; 'Thailand has a strong ladies football and volleyball team but the men's football team are not disciplined enough'; 'You can borrow bikes from the Trang Municipality for free' - as they happily walked us to places that we weren't able to find first time. However, what they didn't tell us, was that when one is running around the local park's running track, one must stop for the national anthem which is played over the loud speakers at 6pm. Actually a very welcome rest stop for me as it turned out!
Feeling hot, as we wandered round it was very hit and miss whether we were able to successfully ask for an iced coffee - a seemingly popular drink and very refreshing too - without the pre-requisite vat of sugar being poured in, done by offering a series of waving arm gestures and saying 'noooooo sugar' many times. Watching Keith's face as he took the guinea-pig first sip became quite an entertaining past-time for me, especially when we had been unsuccessful!
We had come to Trang to try and see dugongs - during my last year working for the CMS Dugong MoU, I have spent a lot of time thinking about, talking about and writing about dugongs but have still yet to see one. We decided to travel across to Ko Libong, the least touristy island (certainly in low season; we were the only non-locals) off Trang Province mainland, but the one with the largest remaining dugong population in Thailand - amounting to approximately 150. However, the night before we were booked to travel across to the island, a local contact working for an NGO got in touch to say the seas were too rough to go dugong spotting, it being monsoon season and stormy.
Disappointing as the news was, we soon realised as we made the 20-minute journey across from the mainland in a long-tail boat, we definitely didn't want to be on the seas if we didn't have to be! The muslim lady sat next to me clutching my arm and praying for the duration of the journey was in full agreement and we were both wholly relieved to be back on terra firma again.
And so.... 2 days on a deserted, stormy island awaits. We may be battening down the hatches and taking shelter for most of it, but at least it's a good excuse to get some writing done and re-start our World Series of Cribbage!
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