Every year we get treated to a festival of “baby windmills” just outside of Trang’s bypass loop on the road to the Elephant Caves. As we reported last year with a more authoritative history, these elaborate bamboo-mounted windmills, some more than 30′ in the air with propellors 8′ across and tails of 12′, are part of a historic competition in the rice fields outside of town.
Originally designed to ward off birds and insects from the rice fields at harvest time with their movement and sounds created by “tuned” bamboo flutes on the propellor ends, they are only used in this millennium for festive competitions. This year the festival goes as scheduled even though the rice harvesting is well behind schedule due to the heavy rains in December & January and the rice fields are still flooded. [Note the limestone Karst in the background – Thailand has hundreds of these all across the long peninsula and out into the Andaman Sea]
Speaking of harvesting rice, we saw one of the harvesters in action trying to be one of the first to wade thru the still swampy rice fields. For it’s size it’s quite nimble, running quickly across several rai (4 rai equals 1.2 acres) of rice fields. The yield requires two people, one to place a rice sack under the shoot and another to stow the freshly filled bags on the harvester. The driver uses a single lever to drive it forward, turn and reverse: a long joy stick.