As luck would have it we stumbled upon an organization called Andaman Adventures that had continued working on Tsunami relief projects. AA does various things including running a school, organizing volunteers for labour projects and running homestays in small fishing villages to offer a secondary source of income to the people. As there is no place like home for the holidays we opted for a weekend homestay option.
Our stay turned out to be on a little Island called Tung Nam Dam where there was a small fishing village. We were put up in the village chief’s house. They told us too call them Ma and Pa as the whole village did. For the next two days we helped them cook local foods including festival sweets and took part in everyday life such as planting Orchids and collection delicious sea snails for dinner. We had and great time and lots of laughs even with limited communication (although there was a translator around).
For Christmas eve until boxing day we wanted something even quieter so we took a boat 40 km’s out to the Surin Islands to camp. The Surin Islands is a marine park with crystal clear waters, lots of fish and nice beaches. We had seen the islands a few years ago when we did some diving nearby but the chance to stay on them in a tent for Christmas was too tempting.
We had a great time snorkelling and lounging around until we met a few Thai Navy Search and Rescue (SAR’s) on a snorkel trip. They invited us back to their camp for a Christmas dinner that included approximately 40 grilled fish, Squid, rice, salads and lots of beer and rice moonshine. After a short while the SAR’s were quite drunk and ready to bring out the guitar for a few hours of load and off key singing! We had a blast! there is nothing like getting driven home on Christmas in a military Zodiac inflatable! (note - they did have a designated driver who even escorted us down the jungle path directly to our tent). Oh…almost forgot to mention our “tent monkey“! We often had to defend our food supplies from a particularly cheeky monkey who got into a tug-of-war with Lisa over some granola bars!!!