04:30 p.m. I make it back to the fish farm just in time for the feeding. The farm is made of a network of floating pontoons, forming 16 “basins” altogether. Each basin is lined with a plastic mesh, so that the fish do not escape. The fisherman and his son start feeding the fishes, and the water of the basins becomes a frenzy. One species is quite remarkable: I am not sure what sort of fish it is, so if any of you who read this have an idea, please do leave a comment below this post. Here is a photo of this big unbranded fish (the largest ones in the basin were over 1 meter long), shaped like a shark, with a thick white stripe on the hull towards the bow, both starboard and port side.
The Fisherman then goes to the last basin, and pulls out a horseshoe crab, one of these prehistoric looking shellfish that seems to come out straight from a Star Wars or Alien movie. Note that the mangrove species are not edible and can cause poisoning, unlike the similar looking coastal species. This creature is considered as a living fossil, and although it looks like crustaceans, it is in fact more closely related to arachnids (same family as scorpions and spiders).
After putting the horseshoe crab back into the water, my fisherman friend pulls out a Fugu (blowfish of pullerfish) from the basin. It looks pretty much like a fish when he takes it out, but then our man starts massaging the creature which inflates more and more in the process, until it becomes round and spiky, almost the size of a football. The fugu is edible too, but can be lethal if not carefully prepared, and all the toxic parts removed (mostly the skin, the ovaries and the liver). The poison actually paralyses all your muscles, slowly preventing you from breathing while you still remain conscious. There is no known antidote to date. This fish is praised by Japanese gourmets. The blown fish has a pretty cute face indeed!
This entertaining break is now over, and it is time for some action!
05:30 p.m. My host has some kayaks ready to go; he ties a bunch of them behind his long tail, welcomes me onboard, and here we go! Direction: further deep inside the mangrove. We are using sea kayaks, which can seat 2 plus the paddler (you can actually sit in the kayak and enjoy the view while the paddler paddles you around). I welcome the paddler on-board as well as a Thai guide: with the 3 of us paddling in unison, we go at a very decent pace along the mangrove. The paddler tells me that there is usually a bunch of monkeys hanging out in the forest but today we don’t have the chance to see them. However we get the chance to take a very close look at the intricate roots of the trees. They host crabs, lizards, small crocodiles and many other species.
We sail around for over an hour and the sky starts getting dark. Everything is quiet and peaceful around us, and we only hear the sound of the water against the hull. This bit of exercise opened my appetite and we head back to the fish farm for dinner.
Just as we dock on the pontoon, the talented fisherman picks some fresh fish from a basin: their fate is sealed, they will be eaten! My new Korean journalists friends are already seated at the table and invite me to join them for a delicious dinner right beside the fish park, on a floating restaurant: pepper crab, fresh fish, vegetables, more fish, rice… it was really appetizing!
Once the dinner finished, I say goodbye to the fisherman and the remaining fish, and get back on the long tail. There is no light on the boat, no light along the canal and it’s pitch black. We cross quite a few long-tails, also without light; the seafarers around here must have pretty good night vision!