A lovely end to September with the last two weeks being as near to perfect rainy season weather as you could wish for. Sure there were a few heavy downpours and the odd thunderstorm but on most days the sun shone, the sea was calm and clear and there were very few visitors here to enjoy it. A few photos all taken this week are above. (I found the wild pigs in a walled enclosure in Kai Bae valley, so if you plan on eating pork in a Kai Bae restaurant don’t be surprised if it’s a bit tougher than you might expect.)
Things are starting to spring into life here. For example, Bangbao Boat will start running daily services between Koh Chang and Koh Mak starting 1 October and Panviman Resort will start their new daily ‘Dinner plus some kind of music that I didn’t bother to ask for more details about‘ show from tomorrow onwards too. A new steakhouse, with the same menu as Texas Steakhouse on White Sand Beach is set to open by the end of October in Kai Bae and to top off the excitement there’s even a new housing development on the way for Koh Chang which will be officially announced to the world on 1 November.
Rather than waffling on pointlessly about nothing in particular as I usually do, this update I’d like to talk balls. Big, fungus covered bacterial balls. Partly because it is quite an interesting topic and partly because it’s one that the Bangkok Post missed in it’s ‘Koh Chang Under Threat’ev report 10 days ago. If you haven’t heard of a DASTA Ball that’s probably because in keeping will all promotion of official Koh Chang related activities – the good initiatives, as well as the crap ones, aren’t publicised off the island and those who eventually get to know about them don’t include people who’s first language isn’t Thai. E.g. You or I or any of the people reading this who may well be interested in learning more about what the island has to offer.
Anyway, to cut several badly written press releases from the past few months short, the gist is that a few months ago DASTA ( Body in charge of developing the island ) got together with boffins from the Faculty of Science at Rambhai Barni Rajabhat University and the locals in Salakkok to look for an eco-friendly, natural way, to deal with all types of water pollution from stagnant pools to septic tanks to the water in mangrove forests.
Not really a surprise that sleepy Salakkok village was chosen as the area to involve the locals. the people there tend to be far more community minded and far less interested in making a quick buck for themselves with total disregard for their neighbours, than their cousins over on the west coast.
Consultation was also sought with Officials from the Coastal Aquaculture Department in Trad regarding strains of bacteria that can grow well both sea and brackish water. Microorganisms were then developed that were resistant to salinity and could work effectively in neutralising the pollutants in waste-water.
What they came up with in the end was a smelly brown liquid and balls of what appear to be fungus. These were made from a heady cocktail of rotting animal and fish bits, certain plants and some live bacteria which was used to kick start the process. The end results were pretty amazing especially given that the stuff had to work not only in fresh water but in brackish and sea water.
Dark, foul smelling water was transformed into a clear pond within a day or so of having a ball or some of the solution added to it. Ditto foul smelling septic tanks and mangrove swamps – the smells disappeared. One of the initial experiments involved a pond in the Salakkok area. This was literally black with no life in it at all as the water was stagnant. Any fish that lived had long since died and were rotting away on the surface. These were scooped out and thirty of the balls was thrown into the pond and an aerator used to circulate the microbes. Within a couple of hours there were noticeable results and within 2 days there was visibility 80cm deep into the pond and you’d never have guessed it was once a stagnant, murky,foul smelling pit.
Turns out the stuff really worked. Within a couple of months it was being used elsewhere on the island in Salakphet and also in Bangbao. I got a few bottles of it and spayed it around the swampy land close to our house and since then there have been no strange smells emanating from it. One of the things that I like about the project is that anyone can go along to the ‘Discovery Club’ HQ, adjacent to Salakkok Seafood and get it for free or learn how to make it for themselves. Alternatively, communities can ask for a speaker to go along to address a meeting of their villagers and not only explain the benefits but also show them how to make it . All that is required is a large plastic barrel and a few household ingredients such as molasses plus a few decomposing fish and a chicken carcass. (Sounds a bit voodoo, I know.)
The one proviso is that if they teach you to make it, then you are not allowed to sell it, the bio-balls and liquid can only be given away. The balls cost around 3 Baht per ball to produce.
Since then DASTA have been trialing their balls around Thailand and it has also been discovered that you can use this miracle liquid as a fertiliser for flowers and pot plants.The microbes help the plants to absorb some nutrient or other and the end result is more leaves and flowers.
So for once, something that Koh Chang can be proud of. Rather than wasting money on promoting a non-existent ‘Koh Chang Grand Sale’ wouldn’t it be better if the local business owners, a.k.a. the ‘Koh Chang Entrepreneurs Club’ helped raise awareness of projects like these bio balls? Developed here on the island they’re a 100% natural, biodegradable product that works and which could be used to reduce the effects of water pollution on islands and coastal areas anywhere in the country. And theoretically across South East Asia.