Having had my fill of
rustic isolation on Koh Lanta for now, I decided to head over to Koh
Phi Phi and perhaps meet a few people, have a few beers and
generally re-engage socially with the world again. Of course, the
fishing rods were still strapped to the rucksack, for better or worse.
before heading over to the islands, it was time to renew the visa- entailing a day long bus
journey from Krabi down to the town of Hat Yai in the south and then
onto the Malaysian border to do the necessary paperwork, before
heading back the same day to arrive back at Krabi late that evening.
Not an inspiring day particularly, but notable for one reason only:
Initially I was
pleased to see another farang when I jumped on the bus at 7am that
morning, after all, it would be someone to talk to during what would
be a long old day. I just didn't realise how long it was going to
seem. Lets see... where do I start? Well, he was 42, and originated
from Gold Coast, Australia, had been living in Thailand for 15
months, and had lived in England, South Africa, the Philippines and
Ok? Everybody happy
this far? Then I shall continue...
He had been expelled
from 4 schools for everything from punching a teacher to calling the
headmistress a "fat whore", was deported from Hong Kong at
15, had been arrested a multitude of times for various misdemeanours
(culminating in a particularly stormy court appearance whereby he
told the judge to "go f*** himself", as you do). His dad
was a local politician (and live-one!) in the Gold Coast, who had done 8 months for
supplying weapons to Nigeria, while our David had been doing drug runs for the
Triads in Hong Kong at age 13. He had been a bouncer, a security
guard, was an expert in martial arts, played cricket for Kent and
Middlesex in England and somewhere in South Africa, while having an
international career with Australia as one of the fastest pace
bowlers they have ever produced, albeit that his claim to fame was
for disagreeing with an umpiring decision and throwing his bat at
the official. Now, bear with me. He
was working as builder and developer in Thailand, but was also a
fully qualified doctor, although wasn't allowed to practice due to
having to take morphine for a broken back. Despite all his
expulsions he found school easy due to his photographic memory, even if
his Attention Deficit Syndrome was a bit of a hindrance.
problem was offset by his IQ of 216, however, which it seems was
nothing, because one of the (4) girls he had been engaged to had an
IQ of 246. He had fought for Australia in Borneo, killed numerous
people in action and watched people blown to pieces in front of him.
During the tsunami he saved the lives of many people by virtually
taking over the running of the Krabi District
Hospital cos it seems
the Thais hadn't got a clue what they were doing. Then again, he was
a regular down there after all, since in his 15 months in Thailand
he had broken his foot, his leg, his right elbow, his left arm; all
this to join the 54 (yes, 54) broken ribs and the 17 (yes, 17)
broken noses of his chequered past- the latest of which occurred
while having it away with a Thai hooker and she just got a bit
carried away, so intense was her climax. Seriously. And just when
you thought his luck couldn't get any tougher he also had chronic
asthma (for which, of course, he was a guinea pig for a new wonder
drug and therefore listed in that cornerstone of medical literature, the 'Asthma Journal'), he was having steroid injections
for some pain or other, and had allergies to mushrooms and seafood
that had seen him 'die' 7 times... I think you may be getting the
The needle on my Bullshitometer was in the red all day
until I arrived with great relief back at my room in Krabi, where,
once my bonce had stopped spinning, I hastily scribbled down as many
of the salient points as I could remember from my encounter with
Chuck "Lexington-Einstein" Norris so as to share them with
you all here. I got most of them I think, but I'm sure there will be
one or two I missed. Or maybe it was all true and I'm just being a
little harsh...? He did actually give me his mobile number "in
case I needed anything while I was in Thailand", which was nice
of him. I think I'm more likely to give Ted Bundy a call though to
Very Public Face Of Madness". Does anybody know this man?
off the ferry at the pier of Koh Phi Phi and bulldozing through the
usual scrum of hawkers, the first thing that struck me was the
shocking damage still spread around the place. The wave had surged
it's way right through and over the thin central strip in the centre
of the island at Ton Sai beach, sweeping buildings, trees and of
course people before it. People were working clearing the area, but
still piles of rocks, glass, timber and rubble littered coconut
groves; empty, derelict shells of buildings that were spared stood
empty, their windows and doors blasted clean from the walls.
told that in the immediate aftermath of the disaster that the sand,
mud and rubbish was left deposited in the streets up to the top of
the door frames, so for the island to be functioning and to have
been cleared to the extent it has been was little short of
miraculous. Much of the work now is being carried out by holidaying
and backpacking volunteers under the banner of the Hi Phi Phi
organisation, and with the aid of local people - mainly supervised by
Thais in hammocks. They should be congratulated.
The strange thing is,
I was told that Koh Phi Phi (and Koh Lanta for that matter) received
no aid, governmental or otherwise. Of course, the cynic in me wonders who's
pocket the millions of dollars of aid donated by the world's
population has ended up in? It sure as hell isn't the guy who's
pieced together what's left of his Sunset Bar on the beach at Phi
Phi. For all the damage that was still visible, the island still has
some beautiful beaches and views, and the diving on the coral reefs
was quite breathtaking - the clear blue
quaintly idyllic architecture of downtown Hat Yai...
back to the Andaman coast to try and find some more sun and fish.
sea giving visibility of 25
metres or more on each dive (and a water temperature of 32 degrees
too). It's definitely a place that's still worth visiting. In fact
it should be visited, because that is the best way to ultimately
help the surviving inhabitants and businesses.
the dives we saw Turtles, Banded Sea Snakes, Barracuda (including a
HUGE one), Leopard Sharks, Stonefish, Jacks, large Grouper,
Triggerfish, Parrotfish... So many species of flora and fauna, so
although fishing was obviously not permitted near any of the dive
sites, this was more than enough inspiration to arrange a bit of
angling with the local longtail boats down on the beach. The usual
bartering was carried out (arse...), and a couple of days sorted
seems to be standard on the Andaman, a boat full of Snapper, Wrasse
and Grouper species accompanied multi-coloured Triggerfish,
Parrotfish and others I have no idea of the name of at the moment. A
very nice day out on the turquoise ocean. However, the boatman, who
looked like he was about to fall asleep at any moment- even when he
was driving the boat (a bit worrying)- was not so happy:
not good now. Good in 4 day", he says.
So we arranged for the second day out to be in 4 days time. As we
sat there, suddenly, in the distance, we saw a large billfish
free-jumping from the water!
what we want!!'" I said, pointing vehemently straight at the
disturbance. The boatman looked at me as if to say 'I'm sure you do
mate'. 'Need livebait. Big rod and reel'.
many hand signals and some broken verbal communication, I thought we
had it sorted that next time out, we'd go and get some livebaits and
get adrift and try to have a tug of war with a Sailfish- something
which I was more than excited about, being a bit of a sad act.
evening, some of the fish were taken back to the bungalow, where the
bloke looking after the place set about barbecuing them wrapped in
banana leaves for anyone who cared to try them to just dig in. All
days later we were back out on the deep blue sea, me
accompanied by my Exage boat rod and TLD, ready to do battle with
some heavyweight adversaries. Out onto the ocean we steamed, and
then suddenly we stopped- just a couple of kilometres out near the
Viking Cave at the side of sister island Koh Phi Phi Lai.
Malabar Trevally. New species!
Phi Phi viewpoint as another hectic day draws to a close...
Sailfish?', I asked., 'Pla Kratong Lom?'.
windy today sir", was all he said. The frustrations of just trying
to get some of the fishing I had in my mind's eye here are far in
excess of anything I had ever expected. But what can you do, other
than just shrug your shoulders?
the end, we had a nice enough day, catching fish after fish, and
different colours and species. We chased some schools of baitfish
around for a bit after Bonito and Trevally - eventually meeting with
some success when a Malabar Trevally grabbed a Toby lure as it was wound through the boiling frenzy of
fish at high speed.
bag of Snapper were barbecued on the banana leaves back at the
bungalow that night. As we sat around, I was watching the unsettling
spectre of the Thai's picking the eyeballs out of the fish and
eating them, and, worst of all one of the blokes putting the whole
of a fish skull in his mouth and sucking it, noisily, like a carp
taking bread off the surface of a pond, until there was just a
Yet another Grouper
from the rocks. A bit of contact with yer big brother would be nice.
tangled mash of bones left to be spat into the bushes. While
we ate, one of the Thai's was now asking when I was going fishing
I want to fish Sailfish, but I can't seem to get onto the ocean cos
no one will take me to have a go at it".
need Tuk. Tuk fish Sailfish", one of them replied. He then explained
that Tuk could be found with his longtail boat down on one of the
beaches. Now this I had to investigate, so the next morning I was
down on the beach asking around. The first couple of people I asked
either didn't understand or didn't know the bloke. The third did:
gone. Tsunami". Oh. And that was that.
this the monsoon weather really closed in for a two or three days,
with warm, sunny mornings giving way to torrential rain and heavy
winds during the afternoon and evening. And now no one would go out
fishing, since it was possible to get stuck out there in the bad
weather at the flip of a coin, so quickly would the weather change.
So what can a bloke do
to pass the time of day... and night... and day... at least until the weather
Phi Phi being Phi Phi there was no shortage of people up for a load
of ale and a late night every
Triggerfish. You freak.
pair of beautifully coloured Wrasse- one on each dropper of the rig.
You couldn't paint them. After all they wouldn't lay still long
enough would they?
night, and that was the way it panned
out, until eventually, after a 'quick lunchtime beer' with this
maniac (but amusing) bloke from Northampton called Ross turned into
a 12 hour plus bender of Chang and Singha beer, neat rum and endless
bottles of Sang Som whisky at a quid fifty a bottle.
culminated in a sleep on a bar table, an involuntary nose dive that
Robert Pires would have been proud of, and waking up looking like a sack
of pink brussel sprouts cos I had so many mozzie bites all over
me. Nice. Looking good and feeling great.
living in the caves of the islands off Koh Phi Phi.
When I eventually came round
and checked my e-mails the next day, one was from Jean Francois back
in Bangkok asking if I'd like to join him and his side-kick Kik in
doing a recce of some new waters back further up north. The perfect
excuse to get back on the rails and back onto the fishing.
said to everyone, including the really nice people at the Tropical
Garden Bungalows, and back
on the ferry to Krabi, then the cramped bus (14 people plus luggage
in something not much bigger than a Renault Espace) to Surat Thani
to catch the train to Bangkok. This rucksack of mine is really
getting to be a pain in the arse to drag down the street. Now
christened 'Quasi', on the basis that it's an embarrassing green
lump on my back that causes small children to stare and point and
grown adults to snigger. Now I know how the freak from France
smooth as silk and cheap-as-chips train journey again (although it's
more Sunday Express than Surat Express), and back to the now
strangely familiar streets of the city. However,
what was going to be a couple of nights there turned into about five
nights due to sorting out some logistical issues (we couldn't get
permission to fish the first place we had planned to fish at), and
after padding the streets for hours on end, taking in the sights,
sounds (and smells), photographing some of the normal everyday stuff
of Bangkok, it was good to finally be getting out of
there and heading for the country again.
Baht. Now. Or
the cat goes in the fan".
Ross from Northampton. Just add beer
& Below: The 83 Storey
Baiyoke Tower dominates the Bangkok skyline... Whichever
way you look at it.
off we go, an early morning departure for Jean Francois, his
ex-pat friend Patrick, Kik and yours truly. We called in to a pet
shop(!?) to pick up bait, which consisted of a bag full of koi
carp (there still seems
something sacrilegious about using one of those for bait to me)
and some bottles of white cockroaches, which are specially fed on
white rice meal to give them their distinctive colouring, and
after negotiating the horrific traffic some 2 and half hours later
we arrived at a fairly small, muddy coloured lake.
temperatures were soaring as we (well, Jean Francois) talked to
the old fella who owned the lake and the tackle was set up. The
idea was that if the lake fished well, we'd fish overnight and
leave the next day. As we rigged two rods each, fish splashed
regularly over the surface- some of them pretty sizeable, and we
were anticipating a great day's fishing, especially since we were
told that the lake hadn't been fished for years. Soon the baits
were in position- a selection of baits and rigs cast amongst the
rolling fish, reeds and snags in front of us.
About 40 degrees, I was in shorts and a vest and soaked in sweat. This bloke
was working on site. I think the thumbs up means he's still alive in
The sun beat down
relentlessly, and as much as I had all intentions of moving about the
lake and trying all kinds of 'mobile' techniques, the shear heat and
humidity, combined with zero in terms of breeze had us all cowering
for shade and water. As the day wore on, even the fish activity
diminished further and further
cut a long story short, we tried everything (I even finally moved spot
a couple of times to where there appeared to be more fish activity-
once the clouds had moved over a bit!). But we failed. Between the
four of us, and eight rods, sitting soaked with sweat in the red hot
sunshine, just one bite was had when Patrick went to lure fish down
one side of the lake (again, when the clouds had started to move in on
the scene) and managed to get a nice sized Jungle Perch. But that was
it. Nada. Very frustrating with so many fish jumping everywhere
initially. Needless to say, it was back to Bangkok rather than stay
the night - timing it right just after dark, as a huge thunderstorm
rolled in again.
up a day or two later at Jean Francois' apartment to head off
for part 2 of the recce trip, I was greeted with the bad news
that he had hurt his back and needed to head for hospital to get
Briefly I thought this was going to leave
me up poo creek, but he had rung ahead to the people at the lakes near
Nakom Prathom to let them know I was going to be on my own, and side-kick
Kik had prepared some groundbait for me to take, which I picked up on the
Three or maybe four hours later I stepped
out of the bus at the lakes and got sorted out. Now, problem was that at
least most other places I'd been to one or two of the people knew maybe a
little English. Here, they knew as much as I do Thai. However, they had a
really nice bungalow at the edge of the lake for me to stay in, at a good
price too, and all looked good as, yet again a array of fish crashing,
rolling and topping all across the lake- although recent events kept me
from getting too carried away about such things!
had a plumb about to check the depths and bottom make up, and set a marker
from a small dinghy at about 50 yards out in 8 feet of water, the bottom
seeming clear gravel in this area. A big load of Kik's groundbait was
distributed around it, then two of the spiral 'method' feeders with tiny
polystyrene balls were positioned in the middle of it all.
in Bangkok, someone's fishpond is looking a little barren this
despite fish rolling and leaping all around the place, not a bite came to
the rods, until I changed one of the baits to a white cockroach, whereby,
once darkness had descended, a couple of Striped Snakehead and an Asian
Redtail Catfish succumbed to temptation. Two new species to me, so I was
happy with that, although I couldn't help thinking that more action should
have been forthcoming. Next day, after catching some Archer Fish on bread-
which are so cute, and some Marbled Gobies on a bunch of tiny fry scooped
from the margins, which aren't quite as cute, I decided to start ringing
the changes in the hope of unlocking the combination.
Marbled Goby head.
people living at the lake were really kind, although neither of us had a
clue what the other was on about, but each day they would bring meals and
drinks down to the spot I was fishing at - it really was like fishing in
luxury at times. Unfortunately I could only remember the Thai name for
fried rice when under pressure (Khao Phat... pronounced Cow Pat- see what
I mean?), so for three days that was all I ate. Still, it was really good
food though, and it was ideal to fish until late at night then just wind
in, go up the steps and crash out on the bed, then get up before dawn,
walk down the steps and cast out!
Patrick and a Jungle
Perch. I went skiing in France once, and the instructor kept going
"Bend ze kneez! Bend ze kneez!". When Jean Francois
photographs a fish it goes more like "Extend ze armz! Extend ze
fish - dead cute.
Things that make you go 'Hmmmm'.
fact, they were so friendly that after a couple of days the smiley lady
bringing my food and drinks down to the lake tapped my shoulder before
she left, and then stuttered "You - be - my - husband?". I
guess there's no point beating around the bush. Not quite sure how to do
a Thai polite rejection I smiled, shook my head and then buried my face
in the bowl. I just hoped I hadn't lined myself up for some tampered
The action on the rods wasn't as hectic as
it really should have been, and despite trying different baits, hook sizes
etc etc etc. And suddenly this bloke turns up with his rods strapped to
his moped and sets up not 20 feet away to my left.
"Oh hello", methinks.
He throws in some bait about 10 yards out,
and drops a small spiral feeder into the spot, draping a piece of wet
tissue paper onto the bow in his line. Within minutes, I heard a 'swoosh',
and he was playing a nice sized Tilapia to the net.
"Oh hello", methinks.
Although I did notice that the fish did
seem to be coming in sideways...
"You be my
Within minutes he's repeating the act with
an even larger Tilapia.
So I had to have a look at this.
Gesturing to the man for him to hold up his catch so I could take a snap,
all became clear. His feeder had a 'stinger' treble hook off the end of
it, and two short pieces of mono with about size 6 hooks tied to them, again, one at each end, and what he
doing was waiting for the tissue paper to twitch as the Tilapia pecked at
the feeder and then striking to impale the fish any old how. All very sporting!
heavens for Enterprise Plastic Sweetcorn.
One of the Striped Snakehead that
nobbled a livebait fished close to the reedbeds.
Occasionally you'd hear a 'swoosh' again and look round to see
yer man removing some scales from his hook(s). I've been pretty
desperate, but not that desperate. One
other spooky thing- these two guys turned up and set up a rod each about
10 yards to my right the next day. Then one of them sees I was casting to
the baited marker... so he does the same, his feeder landing about 6 feet
away from mine. I can only pray this bloke doesn't turn up at a carp lake
in England, for that, my friends, would be seen as fighting talk. I just
smiled and nodded. And I
had a rod set up for Snakeheads etc, and at times it was left propped
up some bushes behind me. Intermittently, a couple of the local blokes
would come along and just pick it up and have a few casts. "Help yourself
Red Ants dissect their prey. Not very often
I've felt sorry for a beetle, but it did remind me of the old Stones
number, 'Sympathy for the
Eventually the fish started to fall to my
rods regularly, with Yellow
Belly Barbs, more Archer Fish, more Gobies, catfish and a few Striped Snakeheads rapping the rod tips around, so by the time I left the
lake for Kanchanaburi I was quite satisfied with what had been caught. I
suppose I would have liked some bigger fish, but then again, I didn't see
any of the few local fellas fishing there catch anything of great size
either. Maybe it was the intense heat (again).
So, Kanchanaburi it is
then - until next time...