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The Perils of Devil’s Island

Nov 18th 2009
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This is re-posted from the official blog of Survivor Philippines. Old school Survivor Philippines – Yay!!


At the southern boundary of Thailand lies Koh Tarutao, also known as Devil’s island. It was once a prison camp at the turn of the century and later had a history of pirates lurking in its waters. Its lush greenery and the clear blue sea mask the perils that lurk within.

And this was the island we called home for more than 39 days.

On this island, a komodo dragon-like creature crossing the road isn’t anything unusual. Neither are birds guiding our paths or a squirrel dropping on your foot from the branches above you. This is where beauty is as diverse as its danger.

And these are the creatures in our neighborhood.

The Monkeys and the Night Walkers

What harm would monkeys do? Possibly not much. But the hitch is, they wreak havoc in the neighborhood. On each cottage, a sign hangs to remind us not to leave our belongings lying around. These animals are well-protected in Tarutao. The species are diverse and abundant. No harm should befall them.

They are also – along with the nocturnal musangs – responsible for a number of truck-related injuries.

Trucks are our mode of land transportation.

We have a dump truck, cargo truck, canopy truck, garbage truck, and a water truck (or whatever that’s called). We’re wealthy that way.

But regardless of who our chauffeur is, the sudden appearance of any of these monkeys or musangs would prompt them to make a sudden stop, sending our tribe mates flying and getting squashed. Wounds and orthopedic cases galore. Yay.

In our tribe, the monkey man advises that we can easily overpower these monkeys. However, one encounter with an army of monkeys in our Kapuso tribe became the stuff legends are made of. Sadly, even the thought of kicking them primates escaped the most heroic of men.

The Bangkok Lamok

Humongous mosquitos are what I aptly call Bangkok lamok.

We have observed that some of our tribe mates are mosquito magnets. With the overwhelming number of people susceptible, we did a little research that confirmed some truth to our hypothesis.

However, after 20-something days on this island, those of us who were initially repelling these quitos finally fell victims.

And Bangkok lamok do not just leave you with a small red rash. The wrath of a Bangkok lamok leaves you with an equally big Bangkok pantal or, along with the niniks, leave you peppered with redness.

And for some strange reason, they have quickly become slightly immune to our synthetic insect repellants no matter how much we slather or spray.

Niknik Republic

The beach fondly dubbed Republic of Niknik is just that – a land full of sandmites. These are the second most dreaded encounter for possibly any Survivor MD.

A handful of our niknik victims have sleepless nights and only a dose of anti-histamine will put these people to deep slumber. And the only cream that would relieve them during the day is a cream we experimented successfully (at the Thai nurse’s recommendation) to Pinoy’s Kati which is White Monkey. It’s a life-saver.


Being surrounded by rangers and snake handlers tell us one thing: Snakes, or naak, thrive this land.

A week without a snake encounter by anyone of us isn’t a complete week.

One particular Sunday night, we didn’t have 1, but 3 snakes on the beams above us in our base camp.

Yeah, we’re thugs that way.


According to our rangers, crocodiles can stay in one place for a long time and just snap ya when you dare enter their territory.

Fortunately, there were no close encounters. But they’re just there. (How comforting.)

Scorpions, Tarantulas, Wild Boars

We have at least one encounter with any of these. Wild boars, we have proven later, roam free on our base camp and on the beach in front of us.

Scorpions and tarantulas were living among us. And yes, one person had encountered them. If only we could concoct a formula to repel these… until that era comes, we can only pray we don’t meet them.

Our not-so friendly neighborhood marine animals

There are at least 6 cases within our tribe where they surfaced these waters with a burning sensation, with or without blisters already.

We were told that manta rays live in the shallow waters, that jelly fish and sea urchins are plenty, and that sea snakes and sharks are there. You just have to know where to look.

At this point, we can only surmise what “bit” them.

And, finally, the daily Multo

It may seem surprising, but multo stories are not to be taken lightly in Tarutao.

We have stories of doppelgangers, those that knock our tribe mates’ doors, and those that make their presence felt in whatever manner.

The incidence of these increased steadily, that we started asking the locals about it. They said that the area is known to have supernatural creatures and the only way to repel them is to offer a prayer and some goodies to their altar.

Two of the now-famous ghost stories in Tarutao involve the head of the Filipino production tribe and the head of the Thai production tribe, both women.

Both stories are similar in that they were awakened in their sleep and saw a figure of a man standing by their bed.

The locals said that this was the ancestor of the island and that he was the head of their family.

It was said that he pays respect or would make a courtesy call to the heads of the tribe of any visiting group. It was only appropriate that the heads of our working tribes pay their courtesy call to his shrine.

And true enough, when they visited the shrine, the figure in there was their visitor the night before.

Eventually, we have learned to co exist with them towards the end of our stay at Koh Tarutao.

All these, plus unlimited possible injuries in a remote island, comprise what would be a doctor’s nightmare.

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