Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started to cause mass unemployment in Khao Lak, we have donated the use of our boat to families in the local village to enable them to go fishing and provide food for their families while they are unable to find work. And a few days ago, we decided to join one of these local villagers in a clam hunt!
The Khao Lak coastline is a rich hunting ground for fishermen and the local people. While seafood can often be expensive in posh, mid-city restaurants, fresh seafood has been a main stay of the people of Khao Lak for generations.
With the worldwide dragging on into it’s second year, the people of Khao Lak are faced with mass-unemployment. People are struggling to make end meet financially and there is still no clearly visible light on the horizon.
Luckily however the burden of putting food on the table is subsidised not by government policy or welfare groups, but by nature, itself. A delicious and nutritious seafood dinner is cheap and easy to come by for those with the will and the knowledge of how to find it.
On the day of the hunt we all met up in by the pier as agreed. The sun was out and as we pulled away from the pontoon and cruised out into the mangrove surrounded river delta, the feeling of being back on a boat again was fantastic. There is something to totally satisfying about cruising through calm water, surrounded on all sides by jungle covered mountains and twisted mangrove forests.
“The mangroves around Khao provide an all you can eat seafood buffet if you know where to look.”
As we had a couple of the local kids with us for the ride, we decided to make a bit of a day of it. So, we first cruised out around the river bends to a small pier that would lead us the stunning Khao Na Yak beach. Alas, as we pulled up at the pier we discovered, much to our surprise, that the walkway had been roped off, and a large sign had been erected to inform visitors that the National Park that is responsible for that section of the coastline was closed. This had us baffled. WE hadn’t heard any news about closures. Also, the Khao Lak – Lam Ru National Park which we had driven past on the way to the pier had appeared very much open.
Still no matter. We are of course Khao Lak experts and know the coastline like the back of our hands! We simply turned our boat around and headed out, to the point where the river joins the Andaman Sea. The children we excited to see the large fishing fleets moored in the harbour, the diving liveaboard boats sheltering while waiting in hope for another high season, and the enormous cruisers and attack boats of the Royal Thai Navy.
On this day it was just us, and an army of hermit crabs! These fascinating creatures are born without a main shell of their own. But instead will pick up a shell to hide in from the beach or seabed. As you might expect as they grow, they quickly become to big for their chosen shell, in which case they will discard it in favour of a larger one. Much as you or I would do when we out grow our shoes, or in my case recently, my trousers. (I blame lack of work.)
We wandered around for a bit on the deserted beach before spreading out matts on the sand and cracking open our picnic. As we sat on the sand eating out lunch and enjoying the views the tide was slowly slipping away. So, once we had finished eating, we climbed back on bot the boat and headed back into the mangrove rivers.
Soon we arrived at a sand bar emerging in the middle of the river. Here we anchored the boat and jumped in to the shallow water and set to our clam hunt! Crouching down in the water, we used our fingers to rake through the soft sand in search on the shells. As the tide went down even further this task became easier and easier until we were able to sit or crawl on the sand and dig around in the sand to find handfuls of clams. All the time the kids we running and splashing in the water. They were having a great time!
So engrossed in our task were we, that we hardly noticed the changes in the weather. While we were sitting there, we had sun, rain and sun again. This cycle must have repeated itself at least 3 times while we were there. But it went all but un-noticed. In a surprisingly short time, we had managed to fill our bags with large, shinny clams. By the time we returned to the boat we much have collected almost 3 kilograms!
It was just a short ride from the sand bar back to the pier. But in that short time period, both the children fell asleep. A few of us older people were starting to nod off too.
Upon our return to the pier we divided up the clams. There was more than enough for all of us to take home for dinner that night. We then went our separate ways. Later that evening through the magic of instant chat, we discussed the day’s events and compared shellfish menus. We all agreed it had been a great fun day out, and a welcome change to the monotony of the COVID era. It wasn’t long before the conversation changed to planning our next day out. We are thinking of searching for crabs next time. I will keep you updated on what we decide to do, and maybe you could even come with us!