Thailand 2013

By Don Chesnut
Copyright by Don Chesnut 2013 [chesnut<at>uky.edu]


Kayaking near Koh Samui, Thailand
I went to southern Thailand on my way to visit Myanmar (Burma). I have been to Thailand many times before, but I wanted to visit some of the islands in the south. The following is composed of my daily journal entries and photographs taken during the trip (please excuse the tedious and poorly-written nature of the journal). You may rather go through the thumbnail catalog.

10 July 2013 Wednesday

I 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 Irrawaddy.

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.

I finally 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.

We 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, Identity Theft, A Good Day to Die Hard, Hansel and Gretel, Hanna, and one more that I can't remember. I didn't sleep at all.

11 July 2013 Thursday

The 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 well.
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

I 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 the street.

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 last night.

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.

I 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.

We 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

I 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 tourist stops.

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

I 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 bahts.
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 Pha Ngan, 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 (their webpage) 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.
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

I 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 granite.
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.

I went 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.
After 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

I 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.
We boarded 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 (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 (their website). I was covered in salt crystals from the salt spray.
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 long time.
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.
After 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

I 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 tropical depression.

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 massage ended.

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 have 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

I 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.
At 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 TV screens.
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 (their website). This 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 with 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 photographs.

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.

We 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 hotel.

Tomorrow is an all-day snorkeling and boat trip, so I got ready for that before I went to bed.

19 July 2013 Friday

I 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.

After 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). I 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.
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.
After circling the island we went to a pavilion and had a Thai-food lunch including green curry chicken, vegetable curry and rice.
We 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.
After 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

I 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.

At 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.

We 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 customs and 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 "Hey."

The Start of my Myanmar (Burma) Travels