It’s incredible how you can learn a lot about a culture by the transport they use on water. I don’t why I have suddenly thought about this, but it is really cool. I think it is because I am on an island in southeast Asia and every morning I wake up and watch the fishermen of Yao Noi walk out into the bay and stand there of hours catching fish to either take home or sell at the local market. I also hear the sound of four stroke engines powering the log-tao boats across Phang Nga Bay.
The sun rises slowly in the morning as these sights and sounds wake me from my slumber. I sometimes lay there and wonder about who came up with the idea to mount a four cylinder car engine on the back of a boat? Add to that, extending the drive shaft to meet the waterline and then steer it using the entire structure on the mounting. Absolute genius I say! It takes a brave man to step into the new world. I am yet to travel on a long-tail boat but I am looking forward to the experience just to check out how the hell it all works.
Going for walks along the beach at low tide reveals some amazing boats in different states of repair and degradation. Some are on their way back from complete devastation and other are newly constructed out of what looks like recycled timber. Either way truly beautiful to look at and the craftsmanship is superb in some cases.
The bay here rarely displays white caps and the boats are designed accordingly. They are long slender beasts, that cut through the water with great ease and remain stable in calm seas. I personally would not take one of these lovely looking machines into water rougher than a bath, with the weight of the motor attached they would sink like a rock.However they are strictly for island hopping and for fast passenger delivery they are perfect. The locals also fish off them with their nets.
Thinking back to Ireland and travelling through the west coast and inland, the boats there were a similar design. Long and slim, simple rowing boats that silently move across the calm lakes. Disturbing the fish would be considered a crime as it would possibly affect the taste of them according to the locals.
Here in Thailand its not an issue……..make as much noise as you can in the water with your boat and get to where your going fast. Hell these boats remind me of the old drag cars when I was a kid. Super long, super fast and unbelievably loud!
The Thai people have stepped into the modern world of boating in the most amazing way.