Earlier this month I spent two weeks in Thailand. During that time I had the privilege of meeting Surachai, a fisherman from Dan Kao on Koh Chang island. He told me this simple but beautiful story that reminds us all of the connection we can have with the natural world:

Surachai has a grouper farm off the coast of Koh Chang, a simple network of fishing nets that contain his livelihood. Once, when he rowed out to check on the fish, he saw a scrawny bird looking for the scraps of the sprats he was feeding the large groupers. He took pity on the bird and gave it a more substantial meal from his feed. The bird stayed near him, nervous but happy to eat. The same bird became a regular on his daily visits to his farm. 

Over time the bird became confident, even friendly. One day the fisherman woke in his coastal home to hear the bird making noise. The groupers are a valuable commodity and someone had come to steal his fish. The bird was flying around and making a noise to alert him to this attempted theft, allowing him to quickly make his presence known so the would-be thieves departed. Since then the bird has remained a faithful guard of the farm and in return he gives it some of his feed. The bird comes and sits near him as he does his rounds. He described the bird as his friend and companion. 

Sadly the bird was not keen on having its photo taken by a strange white girl in a boat. But I loved the story so wanted to share it.

Photographing Surachai at work, Thailand, 2020.