Following the Flight of the Swifts - Koh Yao

Check chains. Check tires. Hop on. Pedal. Turn right. Brake. Skid. Wait. 


"Hurry up Immy"

"I'm coming, just wait up!"

"We need to hurry. The hornbills are less likely to be out later in the morning."


Imogen catches up to me at the corner where the road meets our bungalow. It's the main road of Koh Yao Noi but that doesn't mean it's busy, or fully paved. Koh Yao, in Thailand's Phang Nga bay hosts a population of 12 500 but on this part of the island it feels pretty empty. 

"Where are we going?" Imogen inquires.

"Looking for hornbills" 

"But what direction do we go in?"

I respond by shrugging my shoulders and as if they were waiting for their cue a swift swooped in the manner of their name and shot off down the road, out of sight, only to be followed by the rest of the flock.  

And so we decided to follow the path of swifts. What we failed to take into consideration was that even the most seasoned cyclist would struggle to keep up with a bird whose name is a synonym of fast.

So we continued without the swifts along the oceanside road. We took a rest stop on the beach halfway through. Relaxing, slack-lining on a line that was left between two coconut trees, and checking out a cool green lizard that resided on one of the aforementioned trees. 

Trailing around a corner we spot a sign that in Thai said น้ำตก: 150 เมตร. Imogen understands minimal Thai and I understand even less, luckily for us, underneath the Thai it read "Waterfall 150m" so we biked one-hundred and fifty meters down a dirt path and exchanges our two wheels for two feet onto a short trail into the Thai jungle to a small but very pretty waterfall. A moment of admiration was followed by a "What was that?" as I attempted to identify the strange bird call we had just heard. It sounded very much like what I imagined a hornbill would sound like. We rushed in the direction of the call to find a large monitor lizard on the side of a coconut tree. The sound had not come from a reptile though and to our right, on a branch at eye-level only a few metres away from us was a hornbill. We gasped in awe of its colours, its beak, its size and its beauty. 

This picture does not to the bird justice as I had to take it with an iPhone and quickly before it flew away.

This picture does not to the bird justice as I had to take it with an iPhone and quickly before it flew away.