My bedroom (I'm taking the photo from the opposite corner - it's maybe 10 x 10 for 4 people if full)
So life has settled into a pretty stable rhythm for now - a bit over 1 month into my volunteer project. At the same time its been a time of change in the last few days as well.
There is no set time for volunteers to start or leave the project so people are constantly arriving and departing as the times they determined they wanted to stay come to an end. In the past few days I have said good-bye to 5 people with which I have spent most of the last month. Another interesting thing is that all the people that have left the project in the last few weeks have been guys such that when I started there were 11 guys and 2 gals, now there are 8 gals and 3 guys. Be that as it may its not a bad thing just something different to get used to.
As for the project itself, we are usually diving 3 days a week.
The common area - TV Room
Most diving is either local or in the area around the Phi Phi Islands. Local dives are on some of the islands fairly close to Ao Nang
(10-15 km - less than 1 hour by boat). Phi Phi dives are a bit further away (about 30 km or so depending on the exact site). Dive days start with a morning briefing at the house, followed by pick-up to the beach at 7:30 AM. At the beach we catch a long-tail out to our dive boat moored in the bay and then head out to the dive site. Most days are 2 dives with lunch in between. Occassionally there is a Superday where 3 dives are included (I was sick on the only superday so far).
Dive work encompasses a few different activites (at least once I finished all my training dives which was the first 2.
5 weeks). We do reef salvage work which includes picking up any garbage we find, removing fishing nets, glass bottles, and other debris. We also perform reef and fish surveys that get uploaded into a global database for montitoring the health of the reefs in the area. As for some interesting critters, I saw my first sharks last week on Feb 12. Several black-tip sharks were swimming near us and one came within about 3 meters before turning away. These aren't your Jaws type sharks though so we were all safe and sound. Have also seen Sea Turtles on several dives which are an amazing site to see them sliding gently through the water. Another unique site is to see a moray eel sliding out of its hiding place during the day. Then there are all the fish - snappers, groupers, butterfly fish, parrotfish, angelfish, moorish idols, damsels, fusiliers, and of course the Nemo fish (anomenoefish)
Local days usually wrap up around 2:00 PM and Phi Phi Days at 4:30-5:00 PM.
This is not the place that I stayed in Ao Nang
Of course we do have a lot of time to lounge around on the boat especially on Phi Phi days where a great amount of time is spent in transit.
On other days we perform beach clean-ups on local beaches. To date we have collected about 850 kilos of garbage from our beach clean-ups in the area. These are usually 4-6 hours long and depend on the tides for how long we can clean certain areas. One interesting aspect of many beaches is how far the tides go out at low tide (sometimes as much as a 1/2 mile or more depending on the beach). So at low tide a large amount of garbage can be collected, but as the tide comes in much of the beach area effectively disappears.
Our last activity is our work in our mangrove nursery. These are the roughest days.
It's hot and muddy work and there is no way to get away from the effects of the sun. But its also a somewhat short day as well because the mangroves live in the inter-tidal zone and are often under water so our work can only occur in the time around low tide. Mangrove work is also tough mentally because for the short amount of time on the project we see so little progress (mangroves grow incredibly slowly). But its what I signed up to do, so I do it with little complaint and its no more than 2 times per week and usually only once.Household Life
All the conservation volunteers live in a house in the Ao Nang area. The house is about 5-6 km outside of the main resort area of town, and one can either walk in (about an hour) or take a songthaew (bus) into town at a cost of 30 baht (one-way).
Songthaew - Bus
The bus stop is about 200 meters or so from the house and takes about 15 minutes to get into Ao Nang. The bus also runs to Krabi
in the other direction and is 40 baht that way (also one-way). Now when I say bus, it really means the local songthaews which are literally pick-up trucks with two benches and a roof in the rear section of the truck. Other transportation options include tuk-tuks and taxis. Tuk-tuks are motorbikes with an extra seating area attached and run about 150-200 baht from town to the the house (which as long as there are 3-4 people is reasonable). A taxi is a small vehicle that costs about 400-500 baht into town but which we have accomplished fitting 14 people in on at least one occasion.
We have also rented motorbikes on occasion to visit some sites off the beaten path a bit.
There are four rooms in the house which each house 4 volunteers in 2 bunkbeds. Three have baths and the fourth room uses a common bathroom in the hall. We don't have hot, hot water (more like lukearm), but to be honest I don't think I have really craved a hot shower the whole time I've been here. Most of the time I'm trying to cool down a bit.
We have a common room with a TV and DVD player to watch movies and the few English language TV channels available (mostly news, sports, and a few things like Discovery, History, and other similar channels. Lastly there is the porch where we typically eat meals and relax in the evenings. It's a tight squeeze overall and it helps to be cognizant and patient with everyone around (which hasn't always been easy since I've been one of the few older folks on the project). But all in all its a great location with great people and I have nothing to complain about.
Well that's it for now. I'll try to update on some of the outside of work activities, but the day to day work will probably be less commented on unless something very interesting occurs. Signing out for now.