Although the houses are almost ready, they are still waiting for the third and final delivery of nipa palm leafs. The leafs are used to cover the roof and the sides of the houses. The authorities have been searching three different provinces for the leafs. There are many different types of nipa palm, but the ones they are searching for are of very good quality and harder to find in Thailand. When the second delivery of nipa palm leafs arrived in the National park boat the Moken families were quick to get their share of leaves for their houses. The Moken have already divided the new houses amongst themselves, assuming that every family would get the house/neighbors they had before. Several families swapped houses as they saw fit.
During these periods of waiting, most of the Moken families have already moved to their house areas. The government plans a grand opening of the village on the 25th of this month when everything is planned to be finished. They have asked people not to move their possessions into their houses before this. The shady area around the house has now become the living space for the families. Some houses are too low for the tents to fit underneath so they have been erected next to them instead.
The construction pause meant that daily life has slowed to a more usual pace in the bay. Some families are cooking their own meals under their houses but most still lack stoves, knives, pots and other necessary household goods. As long as the village is under construction, the national park will not allow tourist boats to visit the village. Several women and children, therefore, make the daily trek to the National park tourists sites to sell their souvenirs.
The soldiers who have been staying with the Moken since the reconstruction began became unoccupied during the waiting times. Without boats, there is nowhere they can go so they have started to befriend the children and join in their games to pass the time. It needs to be mentioned that bored soldiers in other places might find uncomfortable ways to pass their time, but not on Surin. The cohabitation of the bay has been very peaceful and the soldiers’ help in the construction is appreciated by the villagers.
The last delivery of nipa palm leafs is expected in the coming days. Seeing how quickly the Moken attached the last delivery of leafs to the houses it will take only two days do finish the village. After the opening of the village on the 25th of March, the national park has called for a meeting on the 29th. They will clarify in the next days what the purpose of the meeting is. Very likely the use of land, referring to the right side of the bay, will be a topic. We’ll keep you posted.