A meter high brick wall separates the sand of Klong Dao beach from the humid clay soil of an unkept fisherman’s graveyard. On the beach retired or semi-retired Northern European tourists wander in nomadic bliss. Tourist children play in the sand while others are swimming. Those not yet able to swim, under the watchful eye of their parents, are running knee deep in the water, franticly retreating to the shoreline when an oncoming wave looks like it could upend and dampen their giddy spirits. Amused local fishermen attending to their boats look on. High season is about to hit the island of Koh Lanta. Everyday more and more Scandinavians arrive. They leave their modern safe European homes escaping the cold dark winter to refill their “vitamin D” reserves in Thailand’s warm and friendly embrace.
A familiar sound draws my attention to the fisherman’s graveyard. I peak though a gap in the bamboo wall that divides the graveyard and a modern tourist complex. In an old pavilion young Thai children are playing soccer. All the kids, some wearing fake replica football shirts are playing barefoot. This small 15 x 15 meters area with the added constraints of an uneven surface, old fishing nets and pots plus a broken sofa is hosting a highly competitive game. The ball rarely leaves the pavilion in to the deep surrounding undergrowth. My conservative tourist brain kicks in as I recall the previous night’s incident when a two and a half meter cobra was found wandering just outside the door to our apartment. Perhaps that is why the ball rarely leaves the pavilion in to the dense green undergrowth? Two young Scandinavian kids approach me. They are very inquisitive and are wondering why I am peering through a gap in the bamboo wall. They have a look, shrug their shoulders and move on. The previous day I had encountered one of them just outside our apartment dressed head to toe in prime English Premier League regalia. He was a little bit disappointed that there was no astro-turf pitch nearby where he and his friends could play.
My Daughter Millie approached me as I was taking some photos using a smart phone. Mama (Kristina) and our other two children Pep and Sam are waiting for me to join them for lunch. After lunch I return in an attempt to get some better photographs but the young Thai kids are not there. The pavilion is deserted. I walk a few meters to the beach and there they are! Goalposts have been expertly fashioned by dismantling and rebuilding old fishing nets and pots. A 3v3 game is in flow except for a brief moment when a local fisherman joins in. It is then that I understand why they had earlier been playing in the graveyard pavilion. They were waiting for the tide to go out so that their playing field would return.
A happy new year to you all and many thanks for the support ,encouragement and kind messages during 2015. We will raise the bar in 2016!
On the FOOTBLOGBALL stereo