Phattalung, Thailand, January 29, 2006
I have been working my way South to Malaysia to meet up with my buddy, Ted and his wife Bee. My very dear friend Jookie invited me to visit her home town; Phattalung; and see the rich countryside and plantations there.
This is a fertile area of Thailand with many rice paddies and rubber trees. The land tends to be relatively flat with huge rocky deposits like this one.
We started by bringing food for the monks at the local Temple. After they ate their meal of rice, fruits and vegetables, we bowed our heads while a monk sprinkled a blessing of water on us.
Then we had our own lunch. From left to right this is: Jookie, Jookie's brother 'On' and her sister 'Ten'.
You may remember these two; 'Red' and 'Green' (I promise, I'm not making their names up.) They live in Bangkok with Jookie. Jook always calls them her sisters but they are really her cousins. But what I love about Thailand is that there isn't really a distinction made between sisters and cousins. They actually act as if they are Jookie's daughters.
I tell you this because these are their parents; Aree and Pak. The family have a rubber tree plantation and have worked it for several generations.
Jookie also has her own plantation. Her sister; 'Ten' manages it for her.
Here is a tub of the rubber as it looks when it has been collected and poured into aluminum containers. The rubber is dumped out while it is still pliable and it is pushed flat like home-made bread. It is then run through those presses you see, to flatten it out.
Finally, it is hung to dry. It looks like long car floor mats when it is done. Later it is sold in this form and can be melted back down to be made into tires or whatever the manufacturer chooses to make of it. A typical family plantation like this one earns about fifteen thousand baht per month ($500 Canadian Dollars).
The other thing you see here is Water Buffalo. They use them to do some of the physical labor and for their milk (I think).
Pak is harvesting their other crop; Somo; a fruit that tastes like a mild version of a grapefruit.