Sunday, 28 October 2007

Thai time

Welcome to new readers to the Geo Blog - I am hoping some of you are delegates from the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers conference who attended my presentation on blogging yesterday!

The GPS tracker is now making it seem as if Mark is up with the nightingale but we have to remember that we have 'gone back' to GMT and Mark is now 7 hours ahead....
As I post to the blog, Mark has doubtless finished for the day and is now somewhere 30-40 miles south of Surat Thani in the province which carries that name. Remember that if you are having difficulty with the Thai alphabet, either use an atlas or switch to Google Earth to get place names in a recognisable format!

Although the name Surat Thani will be unfamiliar to most of us, the province is the location of the much better known Ko Samui (the southernmost of the two small islands shown in red off the east coast on this map).
In recent weeks another location in this province also hit headlines around the world when a number of tourists were drowned in a limestone cave in the Khao Sok national park which is in the hills in the west of the province.

Earlier today Mark skirted the town of Surat Thani which is located in the angle of the bay on the east coast and cycled close to one of the few areas in this part of Thailand which benefits from high resolution Google imagery revealing a river delta with some interesting patterns of cultivation.....
This is clearly showing a plantation crop but what is it? A bit of research produced the fact that the main agricultural product of the province is coconut so I guess that is what we are looking at in this view. The conditions for coconut also match closely what is found in this part of Thailand... "The coconut palm thrives on sandy soils and is highly tolerant of salinity. It prefers areas with abundant sunlight and regular rainfall (1,500 to 2,500 mm annually), which makes colonizing shorelines of the tropics relatively straightforward. Coconuts also need high humidity (70–80%+) for optimum growth"

Wikipedia also produces the following about coconut production in Surat Thani... "The coconuts are often picked from the tree by specially trained monkeys, The monkey school of late Somporn Saekow (who lived in Surat Thani) is the most famous training center for these monkeys. " As I said a couple of days ago, you learn something new every day!

Mark's last logged position today places him close to a large reservoir for which some high res Google data is available..

Fish farming perhaps?
Finally, I received a nice, 'geographical' text message from Mark this morning... frequent rain and humid. Lovely mangrove forests, plains and mountains. Looks like Jurassic Park!

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