10 July 2013 Wednesday
got up at 5:30 am, took a shower, and put on my travel clothes. Anne
drove me to the airport and we arrived about 6. It was sprinkling and
about 70 degrees F. I checked in electronically and found that my
flight was delayed. It now leaves at 9:15. I went to the restaurant
near the gate and ordered coffee and a breakfast sandwich. And I
started filling out my journal.
I'm taking my small, red ruck
sack and a camera bag, no checked-in luggage (photo
). The red pack is 40-years
old and has been with me around the world. On this trip I'm heading to
Thailand and Burma. In Thailand, I'm on an Intrepid small-group tour to
some of the islands in southern Thailand. I'll be snorkel diving and
kayaking, I believe. In Burma, I'm taking a Pandaw river cruise on the
lower Irrawaddy River. I signed up for this cruise about three years
ago. It is run only once every two years and there is a waiting list. I
will have been on every cruise offered by Pandaw--the Mekong in Viet
Nam and Cambodia, the Chindwin and upper Irrawaddy in Burma (Myanmar),
the lower Ganges in India, the Rajiang in Borneo, and now, the lower
In Thailand, I will see pinnacle karst in
Permo-Carboniferous limestones. In southern Burma, I will see the
southern part of the West Burma tectonic block.
boarded at 9:06. Looks like a very nice day so far. I got to Detroit by
about 10:40 and walked to my new terminal and gate. My flight to
Inchon/Seoul, Korea departs at 12:35 pm. I stopped at a grill and had a
Torpedo beer before the flight boarded at 11:45. I sat next to a young
Korean college student. She is studying business at Ohio State.
have a choice of Western or Korean food. I'm choosing Korean. For first
service I'm having beef bulgogi with onions, mushrooms and rice along
with mixed salad and fruit. I had beer for drink. Mid-flight snack was
a cheese and ham roll, cookies, fruit, etc. I gave my cookies to the
college student. Pre-arrival meal was beef bibimbap with carrots,
spinach, bean sprouts and rice. I watched a variety of movies, Jack the Giant Slayer
A Good Day to Die Hard
Hansel and Gretel
one more that I can't remember. I didn't sleep at all.
11 July 2013 Thursday
flight was an overnight one. We landed at the Inchon International
Airport in Seoul, Korea about 3:30 pm and I made it to my new gate area
by 4:00. I've never been in this airport before, so I walked around
quite a bit. I boarded my KAL plane around 5 pm. It was a crowded and
tight flight and I sat next to a Korean couple. I was very tired and
slept lightly off and on. I was served another roast beef and mashed
potatoes meal, nothing particularly Asian. It was another long flight.
I got to Bangkok
airport and went through passport control. I got to bypass baggage
claim. I went to the meeting point outside my terminal's exit. I didn't
see my pre-paid ride to the hotel. A lady told me that there was
another meeting point at the other end of the airport, so I walked
there. I saw a placard with my name on it and the lady walked me to my
ride. We left about 9:45 in a brand new Prius. It was raining lightly
and in the mid-80's F.
I got to my hotel, the Viengtai Hotel on
Rambuttri Street by 10:45 pm, so it was an hour's drive. The street is
very narrow and mostly pedestrian. It is filled with young westerners.
There are open restaurants, bars, music, fruit stands, massage shops,
souvenir shops, etc. I went to my room and took a shower. I changed
into my shorts, clean shirt, and sandals and I felt much better. The
jeans and sport jacket were just too hot. I filled out my journal as
I went down to the street to walk around and have a beer.
I got a 1.5-liter Chang. A street vendor had durian. I bought a large
pod of durian for 80 bahts. Thailand has the best durian. The problem
is, you can't bring it back to the hotel--it's forbidden because of the
foul smell--so I had to walk around till it was consumed. In the
meantime, a lady was walking around with fried scorpions. They were 100
bahts, but I only had 50. She sold one to me for 50, I think it could
have gone for 10. Anyway, I ate the whole thing right off the wooden
skewer. It was perfectly good, just like any small, deep-fried
arthropod. They also had spiders, mealworms, large crickets, etc. I'll
probably have some of them on this trip.
I went back to my room, took another quick shower, watched BBC briefly
and then went to bed.
12 July 2013 Friday
woke up at daylight, but didn't get up till much later. I brushed my
teeth and took my malaria pills. I went outside to find a restaurant
for breakfast. I've stayed at this hotel before on Intrepid trips, so I
knew the neighborhood. I walked a few storefronts down the street to an
open restaurant I'd been to before. I ordered toast, spicy omelet with
thai chilies, ham and something like hot dogs. I had orange juice and
coffee (instant) to drink. I'll get real coffee at a coffee shop down
After breakfast I went back to the hotel and to a
Thai massage shop in the hotel. I got an hour thai massage for 150
bahts. I'm starting to feel normal now. I think staying awake
throughout the overseas flights is the trick. I slept all night long
I went to the desk and got a WiFi pass for my
computer. I took a quick shower and then filled out my journal. Next, I
typed out my journal and sent out several e-mail entries.
walked around Rambuttri and a similar street a block away. In the sun,
it was pretty hot. I saw a little, tiny minority lady who appeared to
be very elderly. I bought a wooden frog noise-maker from her for 100
bahts. I could have gotten it much cheaper but didn't try. I called her
"Ma ma" and when I bought the frog, she kissed my hand, hugged me and
called me "Papa."
At six, we had a group meeting for our trip.
Zam was our Thai guide. In our group there was a mother-son duo from
Nottingham, two sisters from Boston, a lady from the Netherlands, three
from the Basel area of Switzerland, a lady from Sydney and a fellow
from Melbourne. A Canadian man is a no-show so far. I am, by many
decades, the oldest person in our group.
After the meeting, most
of us met in the lobby to go out for a group dinner. We walked along a
couple of streets and eventually came to a family restaurant. We were
the only guests and they had a large table set up for us. I ordered one
of my favorites, Tom Yum seafood and steamed rice. The soup had shrimp,
mussels, squid, and mushrooms. Tom Yum is a spicy soup that includes
galanga root and lemon grass. I passed mine around. I had beer for
drink. I paid about 150 bahts for the entire meal. It was very good.
caught a bus back to our neighborhood and the younger ones wanted to go
to a bar with music. We went to one and had another beer. They played
techno or electronic music. After that we walked around a bit. I had
another scorpion and passed it around. Two others tried it after I had
the first bite. We then headed back to the hotel. I'm not sure what the
younger ones did, but I went to my room, took a shower and filled out
my journal. I went to bed shortly after.
13 July 2013 Saturday
woke up at 4 but didn't get up till 6:30. I brushed my teeth, took my
malaria pills and took a shower. I typed out some of my journal and
sent out an e-mail entry.
I went to the lobby and met our guide,
Zam. Today is a travel day and we will use my room as a day room for
the men in our group. This evening, we will be taking a night train to
Surat Thani in southern Thailand.
I walked to my little outdoor
restaurant and had omelet with thai chilies, toast, jam, ham, hot dog,
instant coffee and orange juice. I paid 130 bahts plus tip. I walked
back to the hotel and saw the others off for their tour of temples this
morning. I have been to Bangkok many times and have already seen most
I left my key at the desk and went for a walk on
Kaosan and Rambuttri roads (Hangover 2 was filmed here). I got my last
Thai massage for 220 bahts. The price is the same for every massage
shop so they have organized. When I went back to my room, it was full
of luggage from the other members of the group. They were all out for
lunch. I took another shower and filled out my journal, while watching
BBC World News. I also took a short nap.
We all met in the lobby
with our luggage at 4 pm. We loaded onto a bus and three of us were in
a cab. The fellow from Quebec, Maxxim, joined our group. He
was late in getting
to Bangkok because of delayed flights. We went to the train station and
boarded our train. We were in a nice sleeper car, far nicer than the
ones in India. We ordered dinner which came around 7 pm. I ordered a
set menu dinner which included Tom Yum shrimp, a chicken and mushroom
dish, cut pineapple, juice and tea. The steward in our car came around
and converted our seats into bunks. There are two individual seats
facing each other. The two seats make one bunk and the top bunk is
lowered from the wall. I sat next to Nathan from Melbourne. He works as
a modeling agent and is well traveled. I took the top bunk. The steward
makes up each bunk with mat, sheets, pillow and a sealed bag has a thin
blanket. The light stays on all night, but we have individual curtains
which block out most of the light.
14 July 2013 Sunday
of the Swiss ladies (I have their names confused), another, the third, Kelly from Sydney, Ben from Nottingham, another view, Ben's
mother Sarah, Nathan of Melbourne, Carola from the
one of the Boston sisters, Anu
the other sister, somehow I missed a picture of Maxxim
- our car
slept well till I thought it was time to get up (about 5:30). I looked
at my watch and it was only 1:30. I stayed awake the rest of the night.
We got up at 5:30 and got off the train at Surat Thani
at 6 am. We walked to a restaurant next to the train station. We had
breakfast here. I had vegetable omelet with a sweet chili sauce, white
bread toast and two cups of instant coffee with milk. Mine came to 130
We caught a bus to the ferry ticketing office and waited
awhile there. At 8:30 a large bus came and we all got on it. We took a
45-minute ride to Daksoy port and got on our ferry boat. We took a very
relaxing 2-hour trip to the island Koh
famous for the full moon festival. No full moon on this trip though. We
passed a lot of pinnacle karst islands on the way, however Pha Ngan
seemed to be mostly made of granite instead of the karstic limestone
islands. We got on yet another bus and rode for about one-half hour
till we got to a small community and Pen's Bungalows
) on the beach. My
room was excellent. I took a shower to get rid of the train grime. We
had lunch at the lobby cabana. I walked around the little town for a
few minutes. This is a beautiful area. The bungalows are situated on
the beach in a small bay. Most of the people in our group laid out or
went swimming. I got a Thai massage on the beach.
- waiting for our
bus at the ticket office
- the ferry,
from Daksoy, limestone
outcrops and boulder, view
from the rear, close-up of mountain,
pulling into the ferry port
at Koh Pha Ngan, attaching
with monkey ball and hawser
- my bungalow,
another view, bathroom, another view
- our table
at the restaurant, sisters
from Boston, outdoor part
of restaurant, lobby,
view of the beach
- Ben and Sarah
jet skiing, Ben,
- the beach
We all got
together at the restaurant cabana and I brought my netbook and small
speaker. People played some of their favorite songs. We ordered dinner.
I had a GT, a beer and a seafood noodle soup. Tonight is Ben's
sixteenth birthday. We were asked to sit at a low table on the beach.
We sat on wedge-shaped pillows on a mat. A lady brought out a birthday
cake for Ben and he blew out the candles while we sang Happy Birthday.
Then four fellows came out. Each one did a sort of twirling-whirling
routine using flaming balls or sticks. It was amazing. One of the
fellows is famous for a youtube video of the flame routine at the full
moon festival on this island.
After awhile, I got very tired and
returned to my room. I took a shower, brushed my teeth and caught up in
my journal. I went to bed by 10:30.
15 July 2013 Monday
woke up at 5, but got up at 6, at first light. The birds were singing
and the wind was gusty. I did my morning ablutions and took my malaria
pills. I plugged my netbook in to charge it up.
I walked the
length of the beach and found lots of beautiful seashells. There are
almost no waves on this beach. The rocks at both ends of the beach are
granitic with feldspars as big as an inch. There were a couple of
light-colored dikes, less than a foot thick, running through the
between bungalows and restaurant, bay
in front of restaurant, granite
outcrops at end of beach, outcrops
at the other end, some of the shops
along the beach, Pen's
Bungalows from the beach, another beach restaurant, mountain in the mist,
flowering beach vine,
the flower, granite outcrop with
two dikes, close-up,
At first glance there doesn't seem to be many
businesses along the beach, however, as I walked, I saw quite a few
partially obscured by the trees. Most of the trees are coconut palms,
Indian Almonds, and fake pines (look like pine needles but are
segmented). The shops alternate between small resorts and bungalows,
restaurants with bars, massage shops, jet ski and boat rentals, and
tour shops. Everything is very casual. The massages are open air on
roofed platforms, and there may be several people getting massages
right next to you. I've heard a variety of birds but I've only seen
three kinds so far. Mynas are very common, I saw a dark dove and was
scolded by a medium-sized tern that got pretty close.
back to my room and put my seashells in a bag. I went back to the open
air restaurant. I ordered the set American breakfast consisting of
whole wheat toast and butter (nice bread), couple of slices of
American-style bacon, a couple of slices of ham, two very nice fried
eggs, cut-fruit plate (watermelon, pineapple, bananas), orange juice
and coffee. We talked all morning in the nice shade and breeze. Maxime
went on his all-day scuba diving trip and several others laid out on
the beach. I remained at the cabana, filled out my journal and typed it
out. I also sent out an e-mail entry.
I didn't eat lunch because
I had a large breakfast. In the afternoon, four of us walked down the
beach and found a massage shop that had enough staff to give all four
of us a massage at the same time. After that, they shot pool at another
resort. Zam came and got us and said that we were meeting at another
beach restaurant for a grilled seafood dinner. I went in with two
others and picked out a snapper and three large prawns. The fish was
brought out to us after grilling. The snapper was bitter tasting for
some reason, but otherwise everything was cooked perfectly. The group
sat at one big table and we had lots of conversation.
dinner we walked around the village till the rain started pouring. We
found a bar and had a beer. Eventually the heaviest part of the rain
passed us and we ran back to our hotel in a light rain.
Tomorrow is a travel day, so I started packing. I went to bed while the
light rain continued.
16 July 2013 Tuesday
got up at first light, about six. I filled out my journal and then did
my morning ablutions. I finished packing and went to the restaurant. I
sat with the others and ordered an American breakfast again. It rained
some while I was there. I went back to my room and gathered my pack and
field bag and met the others in the driveway. I loaded my pack in the
back of the bus, and three of us got in the back of a pick-up passenger
truck. We rode for about 30 minutes and arrived at the port ferry. We
had a couple of hours to kill, so we all walked around the tourist
town. I saw a market with lots of fruit and vegetables including
durian, mangosteen, dragonfruit, salla (similar to snakeskin fruit),
large yellow mangoes, rambuttans, longans, longquats, chikku,
pineapple, apples, and several fruits that I didn't recognize. I found
a thai massage shop and got a thai massage for 300 bahts. After the
massage, I met the others back at the ferry at 12:30.
onto a large catamaran passenger ferry. I rode near the front of the
top deck. The winds were very strong and the waves were large. I wonder
if we are on the edge of a typhoon. We caught lots of spray on the
two-hour trip to Koh Tao
Island). We disembarked at the Koh Tao pier and got onto a pick-up
passenger truck for a 15-minute ride to the Seashell Dive Resort
). I was
covered in salt crystals from the salt spray.
- side of upper
deck of ferry, the front
along the granite boulders at Koh Tao, another view, houses on stilts,
more boulders and bungalows,
more, pier at
at Koh Tao, closer view,
- ride in truck,
another view, Maxxim riding on the
- my room,
another view, bathroom, shower, balcony
I went to the
swimming pool to cool down. It was a salt-water pool and there was a
scuba-diving lesson going on as well. Most of the others in our group
made it to the pool too. We just stood in the water and talked for a
I went back to my room and took a shower. I gathered
some laundry to take to the desk too. At 7, I met everyone at a nearby
restaurant on the beach. It was still very windy, they had to close all
the sides with glass doors to keep the wind out of the restaurant. I
ordered white snapper, grilled. It was good. It also came with baked
potato and a grilled corn salad. I didn't have anything to drink. I
don't remember the cost, but it was about 150 bahts.
dinner Zam wanted to take us to the Lotus Bar. I exited the restaurant
the way I came in to get my sandals, but by the time I got to the
front, they had left. I eventually found the beach bar, however, it was
very loud, I was tired, and I never saw the others, so I went back to
my room. I filled out my journal, brushed my teeth, took another
shower, and went to bed.
17 July 2013 Wednesday
got up at 5:30, took a shower, and then took my malaria pills. I also
charged my water-resistant camera. We may go snorkeling today if it's
not too windy.
This area has something that is unusual and a
very good idea on someone's part. There is a public sidewalk that winds
close to the beach. It goes for miles. It is under shade trees and is
lined on both sides with shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, ATMs, etc.
Many of the restaurants are BBQ (read "grilled") seafood restaurants,
but I also saw burger and pizza restaurants. No fast food or chain
restaurants, everything is unique. It is very pleasant to just walk
along and see what is there.
I went to the hotel beach-side
restaurant and bought the buffet breakfast for 190 bahts. I had two
nice, fried eggs, bacon, whole-wheat toast, jam, pineapple, watermelon,
and two very strong cups of coffee. The wind was so strong, it was hard
to keep the food on my plate. Not a good day for snorkeling. After
breakfast, I got my computer and went to the lobby to send out
three-days of e-mail entries. While there, the sky became very dark.
The wind built up even more and it started pouring rain. We are
supposed to meet at 9:30 to start our all-day snorkeling trip around
the island. I don't see that happening now. It is raining so hard I
can't even get back to my room. I'm pretty sure this is part of a
After about 45 minutes the rain slowed
down. Zam said they would still try to snorkel, but would have to take
a ride to the other side of the island, the leeward side. They would
try to leave at 11. We met again at 11 and I told Zam that I was going
to stay back and just walk around. To me, it seemed to be too much
trouble for poor results for snorkeling.
I walked a bit and
found a market that had durian. They weren't very big, about the size
of a cantaloupe. I asked the lady how much it would cost. She weighed
one and said it would come to 55 bahts. That is extremely cheap for
durian, so I bought one. They sat me down at a table and opened it for
me. I got four regular-sized pods plus one small one. I ate the small
one first and then one of the others. About five young men working at a
scooter mechanic shop adjacent to the market were watching me. They had
probably never seen a westerner eat a durian. I gave them two of the
pods and they were very happy. They offered me something that they were
chewing on. They said what it was, but it was in Thai. I took a couple
of pieces and tried it. It had a fishy smell and was a little tough.
I'm guessing it was some kind of dried squid. I said goodbye and took
my remaining durian pod and squid and continued my walk. I couldn't go
back to my hotel till I finished it.
The weather continued to be
cloudy and windy all day. I came to a Thai massage shop after I
finished my durian and squid. I got an hour Thai massage for 200 bahts,
the cheapest that I have seen in this area. The massage was well done
but it was the most painful Thai massage that I have ever had. It
reminded me of a Chinese deep-tissue massage which is equally painful.
There are two end members of the Thai massage continuum. One end is the
yoga-like stretching massage, the other is the really deep-tissue
variety. Most are a combination of the two. Anyway, I was glad when the
I got back to the hotel by five and went to the
beach restaurant. I didn't see any of our group so I sat down and had a
large Chang and filled out my journal.
I have seen mynas (the
most common bird), medium-sized white terns (the most common shore
bird), some sort of dark tern, and a black heron or egret. I have heard
other birds but I don't know what they are. I have seen quite a few
colorful butterflies. One striking one was about five inches across and
black with clear areas and two large yellow hind wings. I
seen a number of another pretty one. It is about 2.5 inches across and
multicolored with black, white, brown and yellow. I never see these
when I have my camera and hands free.
By 6:30, I still hadn't
seen the others in our group. I stopped at the desk and picked up my
laundry (70 bahts) and took it back to my room. While there, I took
another shower and changed shirts. Tomorrow is a travel day, so I
started packing and getting ready for travel. I also filled out my
journal and realized that I never had dinner. I brushed my teeth and
was in bed by 9:15.
18 July 2013 Thursday
woke up at 5, but didn't get up till 6, at first light. I did my
morning ablutions, took my pills, brushed teeth, shower, etc. I went to
the lobby at 6:10 but the front desk was closed off and locked up. I
went to the seashell beach restaurant, but it doesn't open till 7. I
went back to the lobby but the mosquitoes kept me moving. The wind has
died down to normal levels and I guess that allows the morning
mosquitoes to move about.
I walked back on the path to my
building and looked at the rocks lining the path. It looks like there
are two main rock types on this island, granite and limestone. The
limestone is medium to dark gray and fine grained. I didn't see any
fossils. The limestone is very fractured and filled with calcite veins.
I am guessing that this is Permo-Carboniferous limestone originally
part of Gondwana in the southern latitudes. If so, this limestone would
have been deposited in very cold waters where there were no
reef-forming organisms to created shallow-water, higher energy
environments. Or I could be all wrong. I am guessing that there are two
possibilities for the granite. Either it is a Precambrian granite that
was part of a cratonic block or it was much younger and associated with
deformed plate boundaries when this block moved against Asia. I could
be all wrong here as well.
I went back to my room and filled out
my journal. I am all packed up and ready to go. About 6:50 I went back
to the restaurant. It was open now. I had two fried eggs, bacon, whole
wheat toast, french toast, pineapple, fried banana, chicken padh thai
and coffee. I also took photos of the boats along the beach.
8:30 we put our luggage onto a pickup truck and we got on a passenger
truck. We rode for about 10 minutes to the ferry port. We boarded a
catamaran passenger ferry and this time we sat inside. The layout was
quite different. They showed one of the Transformer movies on several
After a couple of hours we arrived at the ferry port on Koh Samui
We loaded onto two small buses and rode for about 20 to 30 minutes to
our hotel in Lamai called the Buddy
Oriental Samui Beach Resort
is a pretty swank place. It rained pretty hard while we checked in. I
had to wait two hours for my room, so five of us walked to an adjacent
Irish bar. I had a Chang draft and an extra spicy pork dish
rice. We walked back at 4 and my room was ready. Because the hotel was
overbooked, we got room upgrades. Mine was plush, I even had an office.
Everything was in a colonial style, albeit new. I took a number of
- waiting in the lobby,
lobby, small pools
to my room, bedroom,
yet another view,
folded towels, bathroom, another view, my office, another view, view from my window
- open hotel mall,
other end of
mall (our rooms were on the second floor of the mall)
After a quick shower, I filled out my journal and typed it out. This
hotel has WiFi, so I sent out an e-mail entry.
met again at the lobby at 6:30 and took a small bus to Chaweng town
about 30 minutes away. We walked to the Ark Bar and Restaurant on the
beach where they were playing loud techno dance music. I ordered extra
spicy Tom Yum Koong (shrimp and mushroom soup) and steamed rice. This
is one of my favorite Thai dishes.
After eating we broke up into
groups and walked around the very busy area for about two hours. I was
getting pretty tired. We went to a sports bar and had a small gin and
tonic and then went to a lady-boy cabaret. The cabaret was
entertaining. We met back at Pizza Hut and took the bus back to the
Tomorrow is an all-day snorkeling and boat trip, so I got ready for
that before I went to bed.
19 July 2013 Friday
woke up at 5 but got up at six. I filled out my journal and did my
usual morning ablutions. I went to the lobby restaurant and gave them
my breakfast voucher ticket. There was a nice buffet available. I had
made-to-order omelet with cheese, ham, onions, and tomatoes as well as
croissant, whole-wheat toast, papaya, pineapple, sauteed potatoes and
three cups of coffee. Others of our group came and sat at my table.
breakfast we met again at 8 and boarded a bus for the 30-minute ride to
Chaweng. We then boarded a large express boat, total passengers about
40. We took an hour fast boat ride to a series of limestone islands
(Ang Thong National Marine Park, Wikitravel entry
have been on this excursion when I was in Koh Samui several years ago.
We anchored off a small island and donned our masks and snorkels (no
fins). The water was turbid, but I was able to photograph fish and
other underwater life with my new Olympus camera. I saw many large
Diadema sea urchins with long, sharp spines, many varieties of fish
including parrotfish, Sergeant Majors, butterflyfish, a variety of
groupers, other fish, and a variety of corals and fire corals. I didn't
see any starfish or crinoids.
- our express boat,
Boston, view of limestone
islands from side of boat
- Sergeant Major
(Wikipedia entry), small fish, parrotfish, parrotfish, Diadema
sea urchins (Wikipedia entry), another view, Sergeant Major and
regrown coral head, corals
and fish, small fish,
sand from the
bottom, striped grouper
and coral head, another view,
between reef heads, spotted grouper,
several types of coral,
closer view, yet
(?), another view,
regrown coral head
(don't know if it's two kinds of coral or not), Millepora
(Fire Coral, Wikipedia entry),
and another type of Millepora,
Diadema, coral heads, fish on coral head, school of Jacks (Wikipedia entry),
of school of small fish
After an hour we went to the main
marine park island. Here, we got onto sea kayaks and kayaked around one
of the limestone islands. Max from Quebec was my kayak partner.
of express boat, limestone island,
and groove cut by tidal line, dipping
beds in limestone, more islands,
yet more, yellow
limestone beds, closer view
- our kayak,
in the tidal groove, video
circling the island we went to a pavilion and had a Thai-food lunch
including green curry chicken, vegetable curry and rice.
boarded the express boat again and went to another island where there
was a metal staircase going to an overlook. From the overlook, one can
see a beautiful lagoon and a number of islands. I had done this before
(see photos at this site
) so I went into the swimming
area of the beach and stayed in the water
to cool off.
We headed back to Koh Samui the same way we had
come. We arrived back at the hotel about 4:15. I went to my room and
took a shower and a short nap. I filled out my journal and backed up my
camera chips onto the hard drive of my computer.
We met in the
lobby at 7 except for Max who is getting a tattoo in Chaweng. We
walked across the street to the hotel restaurant for our farewell
dinner. I ordered a local specialty, Stink Bean with shrimp paste and
pork, extra spicy, with steamed rice as a side. For appetizer, I
ordered Pandan chicken. The chicken was rolled in Pandan leaves and
cooked. I passed these around. After dinner, as an elder spokesman, I
gave praise to our guide Zam. I gave him my tip afterwards.
dinner, five of us went to the beach bar and had drinks and
conversation for about an hour. It was very pleasant with a warm ocean
breeze and the sound of lapping waves. I was very tired.
I was back at my room by 10:15. I filled out my journal, brushed my
teeth and went to bed.
20 July 2013 Saturday
woke up at 6:30 and took my shower, brushed my teeth and took my
malaria pills. I went down to breakfast at 6:45 and sat with Max and
Carolla who were waiting for their taxi to the airport. Max showed me
his new tattoo, a stylized Maori shark swimming around his wrist. I had
omelet with everything in it, whole-wheat toast, croissant, french
toast, hash browns, pineapple and two cups of coffee. Zam came down to
join us. He is leaving early as well to start his next tour. I said
goodbye to everyone and went back to my room.
I started packing because today is a travel day for me. I also typed
out my journal and sent out some e-mail entries.
10:30 I checked out. I waited in the lobby area until my prepaid ride
came. The taxi took me to the departures area of the Koh Samui airport.
The layout is very interesting and casual. I was issued my boarding
pass not only for my flight to Bangkok, but also for my international
flight to Yangon. This makes it much easier, I don't have to exit the
security area to get my next pass. It's the same airlines for both
flights. I walked along a series of shops along a very pleasant walkway
to my next terminal building. More airports should be built like this.
I had plenty of time so I stopped at an Irish bar and had a Singha
while I filled out my journal.
I went through security and to my
gate area by 12:45. Free food was provided at the gate. I had three
squares of mushroom pizza and one piece of cassava-coconut sweet. Free
coffee, etc. was available as well.
Everything was nice except
for the boarding procedure. People arrived on trolleys from several
terminals for the same plane. Some groups were led to the front of the
plane and others to board from the back, regardless of seat number. I
was in row three, but entered from the back and had to fight my way
against the flow to the front of the plane. By that time, all the
overhead storage had been filled. I crammed my red pack in anyway. They
need a little more thought in the way they board these flights.
were served a snack even though the flight was not very long. It was
duck, shrimp, noodles, bread, cut fruit, juice, a cake of some sort and
I had tea. I didn't eat the cake or drink the juice. We landed at a
cloudy Bangkok about 3:15. I had a special sticker on my shirt that
allowed me to get into an international transfer area because I had
already gone through passport control in Koh Samui. I still had to go
through security again but there was no line and it was fast. I got to
my gate area. The Bangkok airport is very nice and there are many shops
and restaurants. I filled out my journal and waited for my flight to
Yangon. A piece of paper was taped onto the gate counter saying that
the flight is delayed 45 minutes. We actually boarded about an hour
late. A trolley took us to the plane and we boarded helter skelter as
before. No order whatsoever. After the plane took off we were served
noodles, fish and mushroom dish, mushroom salad and a cake-like thing
(which I didn't eat). I had hot tea for drink. We landed an hour late
but it was still daylight. The time here is one-half hour later than
Thai time. I went through immigration control (passport), and then
changed some dollars to Myanmar kyats ("chats"). I then went through
baggage x-ray and walked out the exit. It was dark by the time I walked
out. I was relieved to see a placard with "Pandaw Cruises" on it. I
went up to the young man holding the placard and I told him my name. He
had waited over an hour for my flight. It was raining hard. This is
monsoon season (June to November). We took a 45 to 60 minute drive to
the jetty holding Pandaw 2 boat. The young fellow said to call him
Edward but his real name is long, but ends in "Hey," so I called him