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The Village trip

As the first light breaks behind the hill with the statue of Buddha, the first long tail heads out for its day fishing. The noisy hard working boats with open engines and long shafts driving out, engines barking echoing around the Ngapali Village.

I was now on Ngapali princess after a short trip from shore. The boat rocked softly by each passing boat as the sun now beats down strongly. The cool sea air breeze making the heat more enjoyable. The engine starts, the boat vibrates and the anchor lifted. We leave the bay for the short boat ride the village, 45 minutes by boat but over two hours of dusty, rocky road. The village is only just visible as we come into the bay with small boats spread around like cake decorations.

The horn is sounded for the anchor to be dropped and we make our way ashore by dingy. As you get closer, you start to see small groups of people and homes. The kids now come down onto the beach to greet us while the parents watch from the shade. The smiles come into view and the waves start as the land on the sand. The beach goes as far as you eye can see, the sand curls gently around with fishing boats doted alone the shore. The odd house, bamboo or brown wooden huts, some no more than a few meters squire poke out alone the tree line.

I start by walking from the shore and towards a group of homes. We are greeted by everyone who I am sure can not understand while we are so interested in what is a very normal way of life for them. The simply homes with open fronts have a floor around a meter off the ground are home to the extended family. The welcome is fantastic and the laughter starts as I take out my camera to take the photograph. I am gestured at to show my photograph, which I do and them the laughter grows. As I walk around the narrow dust paths looking at these homes the quite is only broken by my camera and the odd shout coming from the kids playing.

I start up the small road which runs a short way from the beach until I come to a small shop. I stop for tea, which is free and buy a fried snack. As I sit and drink my tea a monk walks slowly by and one girl on a push bike. The shop has little but it must be all that is needed.

I start walking again alone the road before heading through the trees and back to the beach. The path goes though the trees and from house to house. There are no walls of fences and you often end up walking right up to the group of faces looking out from the one room or doorway. A welcome wave is exchange by another a smile by lots more, the children happily playing and they love to join you. It feels like a exchange of knowledge, but it’s me learning not the other way around. I am shown everything happily but without any concerns. The warmth and welcome, the happy way these people live is wonderful.

The Ngalali Princess has some canons and the fun we had when the kids started to play on these was fantastic. I got into the water with them and I look forward to showing them these photographs on my next tip to see them.

Some things are a privilege to see and a privilege to share.

As a foot note, please understand why I add this. If you choose to visit this wonderful place and people, please leave only soft footsteps. These people do not have money for dentists, so don’t take sweets for the kids. They do not understand plastic as being different from natural products, don't view this as they don't care about where they live. Enjoy ed@fromtheblue.co.uk more pictures at www.fromtheblue.co.uk.

 

The River Trip

The sun comes up in the bay behind the statue of Buddha and the boat is rocked by the passing long tail. The noise of the engine barking as it passes taking its catch of anchovies in the Ngapali Village. This was my starting point for my day which was due to start t 8.30 am with the first part of the trip to the landing point on the river where I would pick up a long tail to travel out the length of the river from ....... Bridge to the Bengal sea. The trip on the bike along the hand made sand and rock road passing through the Ngapali countryside was both dusty, bumpy, which may be understanding it, but best of all full of the great sites of, hand farming, the real picture postcard views. Well that is until you look a little harder, then you see the really hard life which is enjoyed by the people living here. We stopped of some breakfast on the way, the dust fro the road blowing in with each passing, bike, cart or even the odd car or truck. The carts a pulled by cow here, a great site as they are full of a mix of dried fish, fresh fish, bamboo, or even just the family shopping. The fields are all divided into small plots by mud walls. the rice having gone and a lot now dry fish or are empty. We take about 45 minutes to get to the landing point. A small group of boats sitting on the mud or in the water. We wait for a few minutes while the boat is moved to collect us. A small group of local people are waiting to take they shopping home and watch as we drift into the river and start to make our way towards the sea.

On the far bank a large new roof can be seen behind two big gray fishing boats. These are squid boats, but unlike most of the ones we see on the river are big, with squire cabins. Big engines and steal tanks fill the decks, then shouts and waves come from under the large roof. Bamboo tables run as far as I can see from the boat. each row will be covered in drying squid, which would have been hand cleaned and prepared for drying by the ladies now waving at us.

We pass more farms and fields before going around a bend to see the blue nets and bright colored boats of the first fishing village. I would say this was about the half way point and we would stop there on the way back. We passed boat after boat with a odd wave from the fisherman doing his repairs. The catch which was landed about 6.30 am was ashore long ago and now a lot of it as spread on the nets to dry. The fields here were filled with groups of women spreading and turning fish and between the homes the groups clean and sort, wet or dry fish.

Around the more bends and in the distance a larger group of boats and the large village behind more like a small town. We pass the noise of life and work and head for sea going around a large island before stopping on a small sand bar island with one hut on it. I man greets us and invite us into his house. He was washing his catch of crabs on a yellow basket in the sea. He proudly shows us his catch and hand made traps, even putting on of his crabs back into it. These small bamboo and net boxes he spreads between the mangroves around his and his wife’s tiny island. On platform in his home we are offered tea, which I find humbling for these two with so little and no water unless collected from the shore some miles away.

We land at the fishing village at the end of rows and rows of fishing boat. Some have light bulbs swinging from them, these are the squid boats. These go out at night with the lights blazing which attracts the squid the surface around the boat making them easy pray. The others are anchovies netting boats mostly and must provide tons of fish a day to fill the blue nets cover mile after mile beach, roof or gap between the houses. An Ox cart is being filled by a group with basket after basket of drying anchovies. They smile and look a bit confused by me being there and my interest in them. The beautifully simple life weighed down by hours and hours of hard work. Here it seems the men sleep of rest from the night at sea while the women work in the day often under the very hot sun. I leave the beach and enter a small lane before a shout comes from dark doorway, I turn to see a warm smile and a wave to enter. There under the bamboo roof 8 or 10 ladies work cleaning fish on the floor in the middle of the room and as my eyes adjust from the bight sun, around the outside of the room are 2 meter squire rooms, no homes. Some people sit or sleep in these boxes, while the group on the floor work. The smiles and chat make me feel relaxed, while the work and shear number of fish leaves me uneasy.

We walk more and find the first group of shops with the quality of vegetables Tesco’s should have and take shelter for the sun in a restaurant for a cup of green tea. The small plastic seat, a dirt floor, a cup and a flask with a plug in the top. Maybe not for the shy, but I love this and when I walk in, the man at the table was eating some very nice looking dark curry, which I have a feeling was fish. If it had not been only 11 o'clock I would have happily had some. The news is out and as we sit there more and more people walk by to wave and smile. The small group of kids which had been following us, now run off to tell there friends. The lady makes drinks from a range of bottles, adding ice and straw to the plastic bag before handing it to her customers. We thank them and walk some more, more invites, more photographs, more kids, more and more fish, then we are invited to eat with the monks. Sat there on a beautiful wooden floor the whole place make a strange sense. This place is to be seen but not judged. The people are warm friendly and seem happy, they don’t look hungry or sick. The work is hard and yet is done by happy people, who stop to smile and laugh with us going back to it quickly as we leave.

As we go to meet the boat for the trip back, we are once more asked to see inside a building. This one was different, the start of the change here, concrete and all that comes with it.

As a foot note, please understand why I add this. If you choose to visit this wonderful place and it’s people, please leave only soft footsteps. They do not understand plastic as being different from natural products, don't view this as they don't care about where they live. Enjoy ed@fromtheblue.co.uk more pictures at www.fromtheblue.co.uk

 
 

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