The 1988 Adventures of Cowboy Bob & Bonanza Jellybean in South East Asia

Monday, January 11, 1988, Vancouver, Canada


Flight 801 Cathay Pacific left Vancouver 30 minutes late, at 7:55PM, I'll have to speak to Lord Jim (James Westmacott: My mother's next door neighbour who just happens to be Cathay Pacific Airline's Canadian Flight coordinator) about that... but he did arrange for our booking and wonderful seats (an empty seat between us and lots of leg room).

I don't mean to sound blas? but no we're not particularly excited about heading off on a six-month leave of absence. Although we do seem to be smiling a lot more often and for no apparent reason at all. Our ETA in Hong Kong is estimated to be 10:00PM tomorrow... should be fun finding a place to stay at that time of the night.

Tuesday, January 12, 1988, Hong Kong

Arrived in Hong Kong at 10:00PM... we managed to pick up that lost half hour... that's Tuesday shot. The flight was great... felt quite refreshed. "Arrive in better shape" that is the Cathay motto. I've figured it out, regardless where you depart from, Cathay makes sure, that when you land in Hong Kong it's always morning for your body clock [6:00AM Van. time] then you sleep a full night and viola... instant transition.

The hotel desk at the Airport made a reservation for us at The Bangkok Hotel [323 HK/50.50 Cdn.] ...very easy for tourists that have a little money. On the way out to get a taxi, a man says "You look for Guest House?" "How much?", we both announce in unison!! "200 HK with bath and TV"... let's look. It's very weird feeling to be driving on the wrong, I mean left, side of the road again... Anthony H. [the Guest House Proprietor] and Joann chatter all the way to the Guest House... very friendly guy... turns out we end up only one block from The Bangkok Hotel. Up the dirty ceramic tiled, narrow stairway, into the elevator which would have been condemned back home... what are we getting ourselves into? ...sixth floor "The City Guest House"... we're shown the Deluxe suite, round bed, red velvet trim, a TV colour even and even a private bath... we'll take it!! Since we were still in "Cathay better shape" we went for our first Hong Kong stroll in eight years. The 24 hour a day street scene seemed timeless although maybe a little more affluent. Snacks anyone ...Sunkist oranges [$5 HK ea./.90 Cdn.]

Wednesday, January 13 1988, Hong Kong

Up early after a cool night of mixed sleep. Found Kevin's ( Kevin Hackman: Joann met/waited on Kevin at the White Spot Restaurant in Vancouver in the summer of 1987) new phone # answer. Called P.S. ( P.S. Lee: A Chinese businessman we met in Taiwan [Jan. 1980] Married to Josephine, two sons, John and Peter they live in Hong Kong) at home; he had been expecting us for the last week. Made arrangements to see him at 900AM at the Shamrock Restaurant, he hasn't changed one iota. Talked over Dim Sum for two hours Eddy [13 ] John [9]. P.S. seems semi content but still says were so lucky to be able to travel at will. His latest business venture is representing a Swiss umbrella machinery firm doing business in China. We discussed a wide range of topics, from the possibility of Eddy coming to Canada to finish his schooling some time in the future to P.S. wanting to show us around China when we return from Bali in May. The Mass Rapid Transit is in full swing now. So what used to take an hour on the buses and the Star Ferry, now takes ten minutes zoom from Jordan Rd. Station [Kowloon side] to Admiralty Station [Hong Kong side $4 HK.] Found Nikon's Corporate office, left the camera to have the new curtain installed [$330 HK compared with $1200 HK in Canada]. Here we go, shopping picked up a cheap waterproof Casio $180 HK ...rode back on the Star Ferry [.50 HK 2nd class] ...headed back to the ranch to catch a few Z's, slept through the new alarm and woke up at 7:10AM. We were supposed to meet Kevin and Michelle [his girlfriend] at 7:00PM ...we're late ...I hate late. Off to a restaurant in the heart of Kowloon. Kevin hasn't changed at all, still a big husky chauvinist. They ordered enough food for six at least ...not that great and quite dear at $300 HK. Afterwards we went to a small bar for drinks and talk although the later was a little strained. God do I ever feel full!!

Thursday, January 14 1988, Hong Kong

Slept in till 9:00AM, still not over that bloody cold or what ever it was. As has become a wonderful habit in Hong Kong, we had dim sum for breakfast again, but forgot the traditional newspaper. The rest of the morning was spent exploring the Mongkok district [just inland from Kowloon], at which time it became exceedingly self-evident that we were in desperate need of warm weather and a beach fix already. P.S. called to say we should meet with him and Josephine at 12:30PM to have lunch. Dim sum twice in one day? Sounds good to me. When in Rome. Josephine hasn't aged at all and is still with the same Company she's been with for the last 21 years. We were introduced to a business acquaintance of P.S.'s, a Mr. Chan who appears to be P.S.'s back door into mainland China. Mr. Chan is going to put together a literature package about his TV satellite equipment for me to take back to Canada. Went back to the ranch after a stroll down "women's street" (Women's Street is a street closed off to traffic for about a Kilometre with street vendors sell all kinds of apparel, many brand names that might have fallen off the back of a truck) Met PS at his office for the MRT ride to their complex of 80,000 people. These self-contained cities have shops, theatres, recreational facilities and even schools on the ground levels. The Lee's suite was 800 sq. ft. and housed the family of four, granny and a live in maid. Eddy is quite reserved ...John is a fidget ...eight for dinner with Josephine's mother and a neighbour friend of John's. The maid served chicken, pork, broccoli and prawns, soup and rice ...conversation and thank you's and good-byes. Slowly getting acclimatised to the time change, didn't have the customary siesta during the day so we're both very tired tonight

Friday, January 15 1988, Hong Kong

The 2 hour flight to Bangkok was a piece of cake again helped along by Cathay's impeccable in-flight service. The brand new Bangkok air terminal was as beautifully modern as any we've ever been in. The tourist office was very helpful in directing us to accommodation of almost any price range. Taxi rip-offs were negated because of the government reservation booth that gave a predetermined price chit for your destination [$9.00 to the Banglumpu area]. Lonely Planet's "Thailand, a travellers survival kit" says we should check out the TV Guest-house, it was not at all what we were looking for, very dark sort of like a closet. We tried to be as tactful as possible in saying that the accommodation did not suit our needs. The people didn't blink an eye or loose their smile for a second. They just told us to try down the street at the Chan Guest House. The taxi waited while one of us checked out the scene ...real small room ...real clean ...nice ambience available, we have arrived. Zap ...instant replay, we find ourselves back on the well beaten path, the travellers trail. It's as if time has stood still in Thailand since we were here in 1980. Went for a walk-about in the sun [34oC hot sweaty] ...lets go sit in the common room and vegg out with a soda $.20 ...a cold shower then swap stories till 7:30PM. Dinner at Tumnak Thai Gardens ...went with Courtney and Richard [USA-UK] a long way out but worth it ...billed as the largest restaurant in the world in the Guinness World Book of Records. ...walked several blocks through the kaleidoscope street markets, nostrils and eyes assaulted every step. The map says bus #11, Courtney is the self appointed navigator ...lost in two blocks ...a Thai fellow helps interpret directions, off we get at our change point. Wrongo ...time to back track 5-6 km in a taxi. The Tumnak Thai looks like Disneyland, lights everywhere, 10 acres of pagodas and connecting board walks on stilts over a carp pond ...fountains ...stage show ...1000 employees ...everything from soup to nuts ...a ten page menu ...and bus boys on roller-skates racing trays of food from the kitchen. Deep fried whole Grouper was my choice, Thai chicken, prawns, coconut curried seafood on the half shell, stir-fried veggies and phad thai. What an incredible feast for $33.05 The highlight of the night had to be the tuk-tuk ( [took-took] A three wheeled vehicle. Picture a motorcycle with a windshield and a pickup truck box on the back that has had sating for two and a vinyl roof attached) ride home. Just a little cramped with 4 people [one of them me] in a seat for 2, careening through the streets of Bangkok for about 10 km at speeds reaching at least 75 km. I really did fear for my life and Jo's too. I kept conjuring up images of my shoulder being ground to the bone as we tipped over with the high centre of gravity. I think the driver was trying to prove something to us. Either his Grand Prix driving skills or the fact that he was pissed off at us that we had bartered him so low, luckily we survived to tell about it. Funny thing about rides in tuk-tuks, every time I go anywhere in them it's usually a death defying act and I swear I'll never do it again.

Saturday, January 16 1988, Bangkok, Thailand

As it turned out our room was the second smallest at the Chan Guest House, 3 metres by 2.5 metres, two single cots with just enough room at the foot to put our bags. 5:30AM 32C., awoke hot and slimy at with a headache. A nice cold shower brings the body temperature down though. Proceeded downstairs, the Chan family were distressed to think that I might have had a bad sleep. The rest of the guests started to trickle down around 7:30AM and the common room was transformed from the family's dorm to a restaurant for the French Toast bunch. Coming back to SE Asia has been a breeze. It seems that I feel much more at ease around Bangkok than 8 years ago. I'm sure it has a lot to do with the lack of culture shock, but even at night, walking through the streets is less threatening. I just vegg'd the morning away while Joann went with Judy (American girl 22, studying Thai language) and Nisa (Nisa: Thai national women, mid 30's, close friend of Mrs. Chan's. Lived in the USA, San Jose for a couple of years. Helps the Chan's with the running of the Guest House) to look at a silk shop. At the TV Guest House just down the Soi [lane] the proprietor doubles as a dress-maker and a haut?coiffeur. The two sarongs we brought from home needed hemming and I was accommodated for $1.00. Joann needs some input on choosing the silk ...single weight $9.00/yd ...double $11.00/yd ...picked out three for Jo and one for me. Nisa has arranged to have it steamed [stabilised] we'll post it home mas tarde. Went for a walk ...mad dog's an English out for a walk in the noon-day sun. Checked out some of the other Guest Houses in the Banglumpu area over closer to the river. That neighbourhood has cardboard shanties along the lanes and generally seems a little seedier. Most seem smaller and don't have that family atmosphere that exists at the Chan Guest House which is much more convenient to the night markets and transportation. Just had my first SE Asian fruit salad in 8 years ...mmm and still just $.75. Nisa has arranged to do a day trip to a new botanical garden which was a gift from the Thai people to their King on his 60th birthday. At 2:00PM, 20 people of which only 5 were farangs ([faa-lang] Thai word for foreigner) piled into the Chan's bemo for the unbeknownst one and a half hour ride and sweaty! The garden is brand new shade, although it will be quite spectacular in years to come as it matures. on the way back we took a different route ...along an expressway with big trucks zooming up behind us to look at the farangs hanging out the back. We crossed over a new bridge built with the same suspension principles as the Alex Fraser, except that there were only one set of cables in the middle of the road which was cantilevered either side. Went to the night market just down the end of the Soi from the Chan Guest House to have diner. So much fresh seafood to choose from, finally ended up with old faithful ...squid stir-fried with veggies. Tomorrow we get to move into Judy's palatial room with windows all across the front, if she gets her long awaited love letter from home. Otherwise it'll be another hot time in the old town tonight.

Sunday, January 17 1988, Bangkok, Thailand

This must be sleep in SUNDAY. When I came downstairs at 6:30AM, everyone was dead to the world. So I sat on the stairs and read for 45 min. so as not to disturb Jo's beauty sleep. The fact that the door was locked from the inside had nothing to do with it. The weekend market has moved from six years ago to a large vacant parking lot up near the north bus station. It's about a 45 min. ride on the #53 bus, still only $.10, we were lucky to get seats half way. Masses of humanity ...same old stuff with a few new additions such as pet dogs of all descriptions and tropical fish. I suppose the idea being that being able to afford a pet is a status symbol. Did a lot of looking but very little buying. Took a new style Mercedes-Benz mid-size bus back. Not at all comfortable for someone of my stature ...I mean height as it's impossible to stand. Finally ended up standing in the stair well. Finished off with a lazy evening chew'n the fat and watching an old Charles Bronson video.

Monday, January 18 1988, Bangkok, Thailand

Eyes a little puffy this morning maybe it's the Klong frog's legs that mum cooked up yesterday. It's fascinating to observe the monks doing there early morning rounds. They walk, aimlessly it seems to someone who doesn't know what's going on, bare-foot in their saffron robes, carrying their begging bowls. They must have some sort of route or system of coverage worked out with someone, because I've never seen them turned down. The monk have no worldly possessions and they eat only once a day in the morning what is given to them. Strange though, they seem to have enough money to take taxis or Air-Con buses around the rest of the day. Plans are to go up to Chang Mai on the second class sleeper Thursday night so advance tickets are in order. Very painless excursion on the #53 from out on the front road, it takes the great circle route back through Chinatown over near the tourist areas. Ho Hum what shall we do now ...went to Judy's seamstress and arranged for Jo's dress ready in 3 days. Took the River Express as far up stream as we could then back down all the way to the GPO, dream on, no mail yet ...although it seems as if we've been away a month not just one week. Special Thai style lunch back at the ranch ...the family is starting to treat us as such.

Tuesday, January 19 1988, Bangkok, Thailand

I figure I must finally be acclimatising ...last night it was cool enough that I had to put on some jogging pants in the middle of the night.

It's lets over dose on the Grand Palace Day today. Lucky thing I was navigating on the River Express, we went only one stop farther than we should have. Only half parboiled on the way back to the gate. $5.00. Seems strange to see so many up scale tourists this time, and unexpected to see and hear the Thai guides speaking the full range of foreign languages. Lots of video cameras in hand shooting the person holding the statue right next to the sign "DO NOT TOUCH" Tourist Bloody Tourist!! Had a great time and took a mess of photos although they're like looking at everything with one eye closed. Took a ride up the lazy river to the big fancy tourist shopping centres near the Oriental Hotel ..."Wanna buy a Rolex Mister" ...Hawkers everywhere but the prices are higher of course. Thinking about some exotic shoes, made to measure ...snake-skin deck shoes $35.00-$50.00. Cheap! Outside on the river we made tentative plans for a private river taxi to take us up to the Klong market one morning in the future. Took another field trip with the family to another pseudo botanical garden. The Thai's are very proud of their country. Joann and I walked around with Papa Chan and A and Dah for about 2 or 3 hours. Seems to me that they should have finished this park before they started another monumental task for the new one but what the hell do I know! Then the mosquitoes arrived so we looked for the others ...for an hour we looked. The Chan family were very worried that they had been robbed as one had a video camera with him, but we headed back to the ranch. Turns out Mr. video had a date and just took off with out telling any one ...what an asshole not to think of their feelings ...this is the same jerk that decides to come home in the wee small hours of the night with no concern that the family is trying to sleep. Burns me up!! Had a leisurely dinner with a large crowd gathered out on the street watching Donald Duck on the VCR. Early to bed I'm beat.

Wednesday, January 20 1988, Bangkok, Thailand

The inevitable transition ...Joann feels and has the shits. Lucky me, touch wood!!! A good day to catch up on some postcards and try to reflect on where I am. Bangkok Thailand, just a block off one of the main arteries in the Banglumpoo area. Very easy to get around from here by bus or a ten minute walk to the River Express boats. There are also a major Western style shopping complex, post office and banks within five minutes. The Chan Guest House is a fairly new three story concrete building, maybe 8m x 8m. The ground floor being the living area for the Chan family as well as a restaurant and lounge for travellers. The whole thing had a tendency to spill out on to the street for cooking and washing, but that's the flavour of SE Asia "Its all happening on the streets". To the right of Chan's, is a modest three story building which houses a Chinese family, [I know I know you thought maybe Germans right??] They must be doing all right though, out front they have parked, a Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot and a new Honda Prelude. Every once in a while a big truck pulls up and unloads hundreds of 100# sacks of rice into the bowels of the house. On the other side the family exists by collecting and sorting garbage. People carrying all shapes and sizes of bits and pieces arrive on their door step to see if it's saleable. Every few days a garbage truck pulls up and a bunch of people sort through the whole thing. Whew!! I'm feeling much more comfortable in Thailand this time, it's like I've never left. The culture shock was zero, everybody seem so much friendlier and less intimidating. Really enjoying the 24hr a day street life I could people watch all day. Back at the Chan's it's a great day to do the first installment on the cards and letters, at the same time I can do my washing ...or should I say that Jeow can catch up on my washing. Aren't I a lazy so and so? I usually do every thing but blue jeans are just too much by hand and she is so good at it. Just thinking about the Chan family, they never seem to have any time to themselves. To sit and reflect on world affairs like acid rain the price of gold or the stock market must be such a weird concept. Life for them is the here and now with maybe a little of tomorrow and yesterday.

Thursday, January 21 1988, Bangkok, Thailand

Just hung out all day ...the Chan Guest House is so amazingly busy, and all word of mouth. Da can't say no to people, "just wait awhile" is his answer everyone. They never enforce the check-out times, that would be impolite. Consequently they never know what's what or should that be Wat's Wat??? ...a Danish fellow ripped his foot open so Ma applies first aid, then he proceeds to get pissed on Mekong whisky ...upstairs in room "A" three Germans are smoking their faces off. Da and his brother Dah [who lost his arm above the elbow in an ice crusher] are constantly spraying air freshener up and around the stairwell so Ma or Pa don't smell it. ...picked up the dress Joann was having made at the tailor, she did a real nice job. The best way to have anything made in Thailand is to take a pattern or a sample for them to copy. Their styles and imagination leave a lot to be desired not to mention the language barrier problems with the technical terms. ...checked out a couple of town-houses being built around the corner in the middle of what the people in the "West" would call skid row. Three bedrooms, three stories, marble and teak floors, they would hold their own any where in the world. And only $158,000. Bye-bye Bangkok. On the night train to Chang Mai ...clickity clack ...clickity clack. The Thai sleeper trains are wonderful, brand new Japanese/Kawasaki coaches with porters that make up the beds whenever you want with nice fresh white linens and the prices are amazingly inexpensive too [$23.50 2nd class sleeper / an upper and a lower birth]. The only problem with taking the train is trying to sleep and keep an eye on the baggage at the same time. We zipped the packs up, tied them to each-other and locked them to the rack, being careful to take the really valuable things like cameras, tickets and money to bed with us. In the morning everything seemed to be untouched, but as I sat on the edge of the birth the Thai gentleman across the passage way was pointing under my feet. I bent down and couldn't believe my eyes, there on the floor in plain view lay my wallet. I can't imagine the hassles I'd have trying to get new ID and credit cards in deepest darkest northern Thailand ...mai penn lai !

Friday, January 22 1988, Chang Mai, Thailand

As we neared Chang Mai early in the morning, the hills were alive with the sound of motor cycles. It wasn't hard to see that the people consider this a cool climate as most everyone was wearing a balaclava and ski jacket. Took a tuk-tuk to Noi's Guest House, big room with a double bed and our own bathroom [$3.00]. Now for some power shopping ...15 min. walk to town ...tourists galore! Touts galore too ..."hey you wanna buy this, you wanna buy that, you wanna tour the city in my tuk-tuk" ...Joann saw some pants that met with her approval in a dress makers, so we spent the next four hours trying to find the perfect material a beautiful print on Japanese silk ...the night market was full of "Hill tribe" clothes and crafts ...the food stalls were some of the best I've seen anywhere in Thailand, not to mention the "disco chickens". Shall I explain? Well imagine a BBQ with six vertical rotisseries on each side of grate to hold the coals. The chickens are impaled on the skewers in an upright position so they appear to be standing. When the motor is turned on, all the spits which are geared together turn in unison, first one way then the other ...oh for a video camera!

Saturday, January 23 1988, Chang Mai, Thailand

Cooled off to about 16C. last night, great sleep. The "SE Asia on a shoe string" says that "Daret's" does the best breakfasts in town so off we go in a tuk-tuk. Poached eggs on brown ...mmm. Also checked out "Daret's" new Guest House, very nice just like Motel 6 complete with hot water and only $5.00 what a bargoon eh? I think we'll move tomorrow, finally settled on a beautiful Japanese silk for Jo's pants ...back to Daret's for lunch, shades of died and gone to heaven, this guy Daret certainly knows how to cater to Farangs!! ...steaks, baked potatoes, you name it it's available. We decided to play tourist and patronise one of the fellows on the tuk-tuk touting for the various cottage industry villages on the outskirts of town. So off we go for a about four hours to check out the umbrella village, the silver village, the silk village, the carving village, the list goes on and on. It is just as touristy as it sounds but the products are very high quality and the production lines are quasi realistic. The Thai silks are incredible, should I get some raw silk to have a suit made in Bangkok? Back to the Night Market for dinner, wow it's a hot time in the old town tonight. More dancing chickens but we settled for the stir fried prawns and rice. Good night Irene.

Sunday, January 24 1988, Chang Mai, Thailand

First thing this morning we changed to Daret's Guest House, the second thing we did was to have a nice hot shower. Fabulous compared to the Chan Guest House and only $1.00 more for a double but it is missing the family touch. It's not hard to see that this is the place to be seen. More shopping ...hit the sack early as we have to be on the bus to Fang at 6:00AM. We're going elephant riding.

Monday, January 25 1988, Chang Mai, Thailand

And I thought this was going to be deepest darkest it is 5:00AM, the sun isn't even a ray yet and I hear disco music. Out in the meeting square at the old city gates, about fifty women are doing aerobics, unbelievable. One and a half hours on the local bus with no leg room. Joann and I just fit on the seat, but stamped on the seat-back in front of us are three numbers and by the time we were at the 56 Km. marker ours was the only seat with two people in it. Crowding is a way of life in SE Asia. The sign read "Elephant Training Ground" ...We were the only people to get off the bus, I guess the locals don't do tourist. The proprietor of the 7-Eleven "convenience stall" across the highway waved us over to his place and insists that we must buy a ticket from him. Well how do you know for sure whether the guy is conning you or not? I figure if he's not asking an exorbitant amount, then what the hell. We're definitely here early enough, it's bloody cold. Granny is crouched by the camp fire in her sarong with a big stodgy hanging on her lip. Across the suspension bridge we go "gulp" to the training ground or should I say show grounds. Half an hour later the elephants stare to arrive out of the hills, mahouts kicking ears, yelling unintelligible commands and occasionally skull smashing with what resembled a mountain climber's pick. Ten or eleven were teenagers and three babies. First things first ...sell the tourists some bananas and watch the babies chase the adults. What an incredible sense of smell they have, I know, your saying what did I expect with such a schnoz. What rowdy kids they are ...Joann is running around trying to hide the bananas behind her and dole them out one by one, I'm trying to take photos when the youngest runs up to me waving it's trunk wildly trying to sniff out the fruit in this jungle feeding frenzy. realising that I have nothing to offer, it winds up and slams me across the chest with it's trunk, just missing the old camera. What a bunch of spoiled brats. It was great to have a private show for about an hour then the tour buses began to arrive. Instant replay with baby elephants shuffling back and forth trunks outstretched in hot pursuit of the elusive banana the ladies were trying to hide. And me without my Handy Cam!! The logging show was just like you'd expect, the kids were a riot, then up into the sedan chair for a one hour trek through the jungle. Did you know that the elephant is the only animal that has a knee on each leg [i.e. all four] ...very slow, plod-plod ...screeeeech, kick in the ear, crash with the pick ...plod-plod. "We're not going up that hill are weeeeeee" not the most comfortable way to travel but we had to do it. Might never get another chance and it was only $32.00. Back to Daret's for a relaxing evening, tomorrow will be a full day. By bus to Thaton [just past Fang], long boat to Chang Rai along the Kok river, then bus back to Chang Mai.

Tuesday, January 26.1988, Chang Mai, Thailand

This seems like an instant replay except that today were going all the way to Fang, the schedule says 3 hr's $1.60 each. This will be our first run this trip on a Asian Magic Bus, this one was a fairly "new" big Mercedes. Our tickets were for seats 13-14 some where in the middle, the hell with that we used our privilege as ignorant Farangs and sat right up front where the view was great and so was the leg room. The driver's seat was not behind the steering wheel but typically off to one side so that he could lounge against the side of the bus and brace his knee on the motor mound for the wild ride ahead. The entire ceiling was highly polished stainless steel with rear view mirrors galore. There were so many Thai leis and swinging hanging ornaments it looked like a carnival, only thing missing was the cupe-doll. The stereo was a myriad of bells and whistles and blown speakers, the tapes were all Thai disco, oh no "Boney M". The driver got in, no smile, and flopped into the seat. The diesel belched into action with that memorable resonance and clouds of black, slowly he pulls on his driving gloves and dons the aviation shades ...what are we in for?? I glance around the cockpit, no tachometer, oil pressure is registering 0 and no air pressure. mai penn lai!! Four hours later we arrive in Fang, a pussy cat of a ride although Ronnie Rally did tend to let his attention wander from driving a little until he stopped for a bottle of "Tonic" [that 150 ml. bottle of nicotine and caffeine in a solution of alcohol]. As we sat in Thaton eating lunch [Joann had a little unexpected extra protein in her noodle soup, caterpillars in the cauliflower] amongst the souvenir stalls it became increasingly apparent that this was not going to be the remote untouched jungle river ride we had hoped for. By the time 12:30PM rolled around there were about 50-60 pale faces congregated with cameras and sun block. The long tail river boats had no seats [I had wondered why the souvenir shops had cushions for sale?] so 8 or 10 people could be accommodated in the bottom. Safety! what's that? The boat ahead of us left with six full packs on the bow and a crew of seventeen we lucked-out with only ten plus the driver and navigator, "African Queen" here we come. [I just finished the book] After twenty minutes my ass is numb, there's nowhere to shift, sit on my shoes for a while, that's a little better but not for long. Another hour and still no jungle just meandering river through the arid delta. And remote it is not; most of the river huts have TV antennas. Stopped to check in with the military about five miles from the Burmese border. These guys all look fairly menacing with the rocket launchers strung over their shoulders, but once they hear you speak a little Thai the big smiles stretch across their faces. The hill-tribe ladies in full costume with immense rollies hanging off their lips are like flies around dead fish, trying to sell the rip off crafts to the tourists. Fun's over back in the boat ...not very interesting. A couple more hours of the same-same. Ran aground a couple of times near Chang Rai about 5:15PM, we zoomed through the small town and caught the 5:30PM bus back to Chang Mai great timing. Through village after village, all you could see was the glow of TV sets and the crowds of illuminated faces in the dark houses. The whole country must have been on hold watching the "Thai Boxing Championship". 9:30PM Joann's in the shower, 9:35PM asleep.

Wednesday, January 27 1988, Chang Mai, Thailand

After yesterdays marathon we thought a little sleep in would be nice, if you like to sleep to Thai disco that is, the aerobics began again at 6:30AM. Joann's dressmaker was not the crafts person we had hoped she would be, had to leave one of the blouses. Well that's Chang Mai, all that's left to do is wait for the train to Bangkok. Sitting in Daret's I watched, a peasant woman go from table to table with several small basket cages in tow, full of sparrows. "You want sparrow Mister, 10 Baht?" ...What the hell am I going to do with a sparrow? After continuing to check her progress throughout the restaurant I realised that what she was doing was selling the bird's freedom. I called her over and ended up releasing two for 10 Baht. What a great feeling to set something free, although it wouldn't surprise me if they were homing sparrows to be recycled. The Thai men's eyes are on the move again, glazed over watching the Farang women's bra-less breasts swinging to and fro. Once in awhile they hit pay dirt and catch a peek-a-boob through a long arm hole, I could watch them for hours, both of them. Across the road, archers armed with cross bows and tethered darts search the polluted moat for the largest of the small fish. I've just acquired a new Thai nick-name ..."Cowboy Jingjok" ...jingjok is Thai for gecko which is what my earring is, a definite conversation opener. At 5:45PM we decided to go for a change of scenery and head over to the station. Plenty of time till the train leaves at 7:40PM ...Joann checks the ticket, "6:30PM" oh my god!! My mind races to figure out the time ...Whew we have 25 minutes till departure, could have been a real pain in the ass.

Thursday, January 28 1988, Bangkok, Thailand

Got back to the Chan Guest House to a glorious welcome, but had to wait till 1:00PM for a room. The NZ family are back from Krabi and are heading out to NZ immediately. It seems the daughter Christine stopped taking her Chlora-Quin four weeks ago in India and has been diagnosed as having Malaria. I know it's only been a week, but it's like a time warp, everyone is still here. Sorted through the haul from Chang Mai and posted 10.5 Kg. home. More shopping, this time at the renowned Siam Centre and sticky ...Joann took the high road and I took the long road back, walking the 3k ...oh my tired dogs. Quiet evening, Phad Thai and The Werewolf of London.

Friday, January 29 1988, Bangkok, Thailand

...put in the made-to-order FRIDAY ...pick up MONDAY evening! Went to the GPO and found a letter from Darrell ...says he'll do a side trip to SE Asia starting in April ...Finally found an optician that can fit my frames for me, with non-glare glass no-less and for only $25.00. Joann, Lucy and I got to the National Theatre early enough for me to get an isle seat ...stretch the show was supposed to start at 5:30PM, but people were still being ushered into their seats up to an hour latter ...rubber time ...patrons very noisy apparently oblivious to the feelings of the people around them. Obviously didn't understand a word but the effect was not lost. The costumes were as elaborate as the moves were intricate. The "band" and accompanying vocalists were in enclosures at the sides of the stage [on stage] ...didn't get out until 9:30PM, great show, the voices of the singers were hypnotising, almost like a Islamic chant.

Saturday, January 30 1988, Bangkok, Thailand

The newspaper says it's a cool 32 today ...I'm drenched twenty minutes after my shower. After all kinds of gyrations, hand signals, broken English, broken Thai and cut-outs we got the dress maker to go ahead with two silk shirts and Thai pants for me and shorts for Joann. Try to find buttons and binding tape, Ha! Dinner with Rambo and Road Warrior on the video.

Sunday, January 31 1988, Bangkok, Thailand

"Do do do, do do do, they say it's your birthday!!!" I sat around the house and did nothing. Joann went to New World Shopping Centre to look for plain yogurt, two hours later she returns ..."Don't look!" ...sure, full on birthday cake big enough for every one, travel scrabble, Toblerone, M&M's [big bag] "They melt in your mouth not in your hands" except in Bangkok where they melt on the shelf. Also a can of tuna, fresh Japanese plums, roses from At and the girls, and a chocolate drumstick from A. As usual my best friend aces it again, did I have any doubt?? Went to Thai Kick Boxing, more Farangs than Thai's. It was like stepping back to the Arabian Nights, a human cock fight. Two drummers, a snake charmer and someone keeping time with finger cymbals. We arrived during the second round of the fifth card. A flying kick to the side of the head, dropped the guy in the red shorts like a rock. Still out cold, he was removed on a stretcher. The rest of the fights were brutal, anything goes except shots to the groin. And so ends still another unique birthday ...there is life after forty.

Monday, February 1 1988, Bangkok, Thailand

Tuna fish sandwiches for lunch ...mmm with Kraft Mayo even ...more stuff for the dress maker silk dress and one pair of Thai fisherman's pants ...picked up my glasses, great job ...picked up the boots etc., just as I suspected, made to measure sort of. They look like they'll be OK ...missed the last river express home, took the wrong bus, walked and walked, then took the right bus ...had a wonderful squid dinner at the night market with the cycling Scots, Pete and Sheila [James Herriot]

Tuesday, February 2 1988, Bangkok, Thailand

Wore my new boots to the shopping centre, the blisters where huge. I hope my feet deflate when we get back home or the boots streeeetch. Hung out around the house most of the day talking to the many comers and goers. After dinner we went over to the famous "Patpong Road" ..."Hello Joe, you wan see sex show? You wan be in live sex show?" The street vendors were selling all the designer label, counterfeited clothes for unbelievably cheap prices. The stuff looked pretty good too. While we were window shopping so to speak, the police were busy trying to round up some of the sellers presumably selling hot goods. For only two blocks long there certainly were a lot of people. Fifteen minutes and you'd seen it all though, I think the King's Cross in Sydney Australia is more diverse and interesting for people watching.

Wednesday, February 3 1988, Bangkok, Thailand

Nisa got our plane tickets to Phuket, real easy. Sat around shooting the breeze too long, too late for the snake farm. So went to Jim Thompson's house come museum. A bit of a gouge at $5.00. The hand made teak house is full of SE Asian art and Belgian crystal chandeliers. The time polished teak floors were so nice on the bare feet. Packaged up all the boots and shoes which Nisa is so kindly going to mail home for us April 1st, hope it all works out OK. It's good-bye party time, so I went to the New World to get a cake and had "Kob Kune Kap" in Thai, Chan Guest House in English. Four cans of tuna for mama so she can add Bob's Tuna fish sandwiches to her menu. She cried, A cried, lots of photos. All in all a very moving scene. It's the last night in town so lets get all dolled up an head off to the Tumnak Thai Restaurant with Pete and Sheila, Andy and Catherine and Richard. Hold every thing; Dad's gone out to get us special food, Joann is upset, mai penn lai!!! What looks for all intense purposes like a nude headless Buddha sitting cross legged in the middle of a plate is doused with something flammable and lit. BBQ chicken flamb? looks great, tastes great. Jeow wants my great and yellow Hawaiian shirt, what the hell it looks good on her even if it's long enough to be a dress. Earrings for Som.

Thursday, February 4 1988, Bangkok, Thailand

Took the No Name taxi to the airport at 6:00AM. actually it was a relative of Da's, might as well keep the money in the family. The little old Datsun changed lanes with every dip in the road. Amazing. Wonderful flight to Phuket on Thai airways, smooth as silk, Boeing 767, great service. It was a cool 25 o C. in Phuket, not quite what we expected. The town has doubled in size with the emphasis on going upscale for the big buck tourists. We hopped the songtoew to Nai Harn Beach, still only $1.00. Still the same buses only a little more rust and a little less rubber. The road is paved all the way from Rawai to where the little community used to be at Nai Harn. Where John's used to be has been made into a public park with concrete curbs and cobble stone walkways; the only bungalows remaining are Sunset. Over at AuSane beach things are hopping. Besides the old AuSane Beach Bungalows, the Jungle Beach Resort has the whole hill-side filled with classy one and two bedroom chalets, air con, fridges, colour TV's the full nine yards. A measly $100.00 per night. Then of coarse there's The Yacht Club Hotel; construction costs are rumoured to have been $7,000,000.00 CDN. and it shows. Nai Harn Beach ain't what it used to be, every fifty feet for the entire length of the beach the locals have umbrellas and deck chairs for hire. They've set up a co-op where several different families buy the umbrellas and chairs while one group handles the rentals on the beach. $.50 for a chair all day and the same for an umbrella. If you shun them they tend to be a bit testy. Sunset Bungalows now has 163 units covering the hill side. The same original 30 huts remain with the remainder being bigger and better, but more Baht too, prices ranged from $3.00-$15.00. Ironically we were shown the very one we stayed in eight years ago. Very run down so we chose a cliff hanger for $5.00. Neither Thanet or any of the old gang is anywhere to be seen, although Som is still running the place. Pan apparently has some sort of bar or restaurant at Chalong beach. You can't go back! The restaurant has doubled in size along with the prices and the clientele has changed, mostly European yuppies. No hellos or smiles. People even pass on the narrow stairways without making eye contact. The beach and the water are still the same though ...the best. We weren't on the beach ten minutes when Joann was approached by a Thai local, stoned to the bone on something other than pot. He moved on when he couldn't get a rise out of us, no problem!

Friday, February 5 1988, Phuket, Thailand

Feels great to run down the beach again at 6:30AM, do some stretching and finish of with a swim. My most favourite way to start the day. And now it's even nicer with my new mask that my sweet, wonderful, thoughtful, beautiful, sexy, exciting, intelligent, honest, best friend in the world gave me for Christmas. "I can see clearly now "...mmm hello Quaker, I remember that oatmeal and bananas for breakfast. Into Phuket, change money, buy some T-shirts, picked up another fabulous mosquito net $9.00, and hit the GPO to mail letters to Darrell, Leigh and Kartini. Down town Phuket is a big tourist rip off now, even the post cards are twice the price as in Bangkok. Stopped off at Chalong beach on the way home. The songtoew driver thought he knew of Pan's place and dropped us off at an abandoned bamboo bar on the beach. A neighbour thought Pan was off sailing somewhere and didn't know when he'd be back. From the looks of the Volkswagen Thing, the day sailor, surf boards and various outboard motors laying around, it seemed that Pan was at least solvent and possibly having a good time. We wrote a note and tacked to a conspicuous post. Talked to an Australian yachty while body surfing back at Nai Harn. Says we missed all the rides south as the fleet left last week for Lan Kawi, but a note at Billie's Bar in Patong might get results if we want.

Saturday, February 6 1988, Phuket, Thailand

Walked over to check out the new high class facilities. All along the beach the geriatrics dripping gold cast a superior glance or is that my own insecurity. We played lives of the rich and famous with a pot of Lipton's on the lanai, $2.50, you want a beer $5.00 please. Very classy place. Singles start at $150.00 on up to $275.00 for a suite. The desk couldn't show us a thing, incredibly it was booked solid. We sipped slowly, had to get our moneys worth. Bagged a few rays, got a little red, played a little scrabble, and that's it for today.

Sunday, February 7 1988, Phuket, Thailand

Love that early swim. The sun is out in earnest today, the umbrellas are all up and the sun soakers are out early. We're too white so we soaked up the incredible view from our lanai. Out in the bay the eleventh yacht is just setting the anchor. A beautiful centre cockpit ketch, about seventy or eighty feet. I wish the so called Yacht Club had some Hobie Cats or Lazers or something for rent. The wind is perfect for a sail in paradise.

Monday, February 8 1988, Phuket, Thailand

Fromage de plastic omelette for me, Kellogg's Corn Flakes for Joann, ...mmm those typical Thai breakfasts. Found the American Express Office in the Bank of Bangkok. They cashed a cheque for us to buy travellers cheques. Went I filled out the amount I didn't include "US FUNDS" in the cheque body. I wonder how long it will take to find if ever? Went to check out Patong Beach, wow what a zoo. Hotels, bars, Europeans, bars, restaurants of every description, jet skis, bars, motor cycles and people. Thousands of upscale tourists wandering around all pink skinned on their two week package tours. To add to the confusion the road was in the process of being torn up and new sewers put in. Pardon me, I guess there never were sewers before. By the time we got back to Nai Harn it was 7:30PM. Doing so little seems to take so long. Time to wash all that road dust off with my last sunset swim at Nai Harn, alone!

Tuesday, February 9 1988, Phuket, Thailand

On the road again, will we ever see Thanet Pan again? Another instant replay for breakfast then off to the bus depot. Had a little time to kill so I went to get some drinking water for the three and a half hour trip to Krabi and I got the shock of my life. I grabbed the door of a fridge and zap! It was hot! Tried it barefoot, zap. The lady behind the counter laughed out loud, it didn't affect her with her wooden shoes. But when I grabbed her arm she gained a new respect for the invisible. When the depot came into view again, Joann was waving her arms wildly, "hurry". Nobody at the office had mentioned that there was an air-conditioned bus at 9:30AM for $5.10 instead of $1.90 for the slow hot local bus at 10:30AM. Joann had been hold the bus for ten minutes for me, nice job. Off the bus and onto a songtoew at a junction five km. to Krabi, off the songtoew everybody yelling "where you go?". Touts were pushing crude brochures under our noses, when a big songtoew careened around the corner, screeching to a halt in front of us. The husky red headed German with the Mohawk hair cut in the passengers seat said they were on route to Pine Bungalows. We tried to ask some pertinent questions but it all happened so fast, a bunch of farangs piled in and the swamper snapped "Come on, let's go let's go". He who hesitates ...etc. With all the baggage on the roof of this over loaded truck, the centre of gravity was real high and we had Ronnie Rally at the wheel. At the end of the road more touts this time with boats. $1.00/person for a fifteen minute ride around the point to Phranang Beach. As we rounded the limestone monolith, the azure water and the white corn starch beaches accented the brown nude bodies snorkelling over the coral reefs. This must be the place!!!! There were three bungalows here, Gift, Joy and Phranang, and it looked packed with too many too cool people. We asked to go to Pine Bungalows so the driver took us back around to the first bay, Railea Beach. The thirty were full, "We have tent, maybe vacancy tomorrow". We were number six on the waiting list. Great looking place, big airy restaurant only steps from the beach, smiling staff and patrons that actually say hello. The food prices are realistic too. When I say realistic, I really mean cheap. There's a big bash tonight. A lot of people are leaving tomorrow, good, we'll be that much closer to a bungalow.

Wednesday, February 10 1988, Krabi, Thailand

Spent the morning watching the wait list book like a hawk. Got to make sure nobody slips the line for what ever reason. The rest of the day life was a beach.

Thursday February 11 1988, Krabi, Thailand

Went into Krabi to pick up some of the necessities of setting up camp cause it looks like we'll be here a while. You know, clothes line, hooks, lighter, papers, vinegar and a hammock. Caught the noon boat back, worked on the tan. It's been two weeks, slow and easy no sign of a peel yet. Love to make love in the warm 34 o C. water. Joann's hoping to score through a third party.

Friday, February 12 1988, Krabi, Thailand

More of the same-same. Joann scores, so do I. Life's a beach. The day zooms by.

Saturday February 13 1988, Krabi, Thailand

An end to a relaxing morning sitting over at the restaurant at Joy Bungalow sipping Jasmine tea and espressos, when Joann announces "There's Pan!!" Sure enough there he was, short-ish hair with a long braided Queue hanging down his back. He recognised us immediately and said he had seen the note we left at the bar but he had been in a hurry to be off on the next charter. He's a big time charter skipper for a company with a forty foot catamaran, sleeps ten etc. etc. This cruse he had a group from Merrill-Lynch in the USA. It's a small world, Pan is coming to Parksville in June to meet his future in-laws. After the wedding they plan to build a house at Rawai Beach. We'll try to get back to Phuket to see him and maybe go sailing for a while. I've decided that Joy Bungalow is a relics hangout, with Omar as a prime example. He's about forty, European and lives, if you can call it that on an old beat up catamaran anchored off Pra Nang beach. When ever we've seen him he's doing odd jobs around the bungalow in exchange for food and beer. I over heard another patron boasting about how little he has been spending for his vacation. After talking to him for awhile it became apparent that his frugality was in direct proportion to his free loading ability.

Sunday February 14 1988, Krabi, Thailand

Happy Valentines Day!!!! ...sorry, no chocolates or flowers just a big wet juicy you know what. Starting to get a little browned off without getting burned up, kind of like a rotisserie. The sunsets are getting better every night. In the tropical latitudes the sunset times don't vary very much with the seasons. So at about 05:30PM or 06:00PM every night anybody whose anybody has shower, rolls a joint and heads for the beach. Mr. Chung, Pine Bungalows manager would come down and stand at the edge of the beach with a silly grin on his face. He just couldn't understand what was so special about a sunset. The sun comes up and goes down every day, what's the big deal? He said he was always amused by the ethereal looks on all the faces, are they looking for enlightenment or what? Big dance at Joy Bungalow tonight, disco lights and a sound system being imported from Krabi. Janoshe [remember the German with the Mohawk] is to be disk jockey. Joann wonders what he would be like in the sack, at least I think that's what that look means. What a surrealistic scene with the lights flashing and a hundred and fifty people mingling around under the palm trees and limestone monoliths. It's not hard to tell the hippies from the yuppies, rags and free dance or red leather shorts and all the right moves ...fuck me moves so indicative of the now generation! Us old folks called it quits early, around 12:30AM. Got to be up and raring for a day on Ko Kai [Chicken Island] tomorrow. On the way back along the beach in the moonlight, we ran into the biggest Herbies [hermit crabs] I've ever seen, some of them were as big as softballs. I'll have to make a note to come back to get some photos later on.

Tuesday February 16 1988, Krabi, Thailand

9:00AM rubber time, twelve of us and Boatman number one, Mr. O, head for Chicken Island. I look like tourist bloody tourist with all the diving paraphernalia lunches and Robyn's air mattress the "SS Florida". The rest of the crowd were scrambling to find the house masks most of which are less than adequate. I have a great excuse for not lending my mask, it's prescription. The coral was not too bad for being this accessible. But it won't be for long the way the Krabi river is silting everything. Went out to the outside of the reef to the drop off. Lots of fish, a few clowns some little giant clams and thousands of black sea urchins. I figured that our white backs would be fried so we had worn T-shirts, but after a couple of hours I could feel my calves tingling a little so we headed in. Getting back to shore was a little trickier what with the tide out a little farther and the sea urchins tickling my gut. I ended up with red legs, Joann with a red ass.

Tuesday February 16 1988, Krabi, Thailand

It doesn't seem to matter how long the Farangs keep the place hopping the night before, at 6:30AM sharp the pumps start up to fill the water tower. No water, no showers or coffee. The fresh water is at a premium this time of the year, but most of the farangs don't have the common sense to shut the tap off to soap up while their having a showers, so all the precious liquid goes down the drain. By 7:00AM the Thai's are busy organising the restaurant for the breakfast rush. Mr. Chung orchestrates, Padet and Bong are numbers two and three in command. Padet handles the books, Wat and Lek do all the cooking, except at night when they bring in extras about 7:00PM. Chai and Din wait on tables, do prep, and wash dishes. All the guys and girls are really friendly to Joann and Mr. Bob, but we make the effort to involve ourselves in the goings on in the kitchen and the whole place. Around 9:00AM or 10:00AM the gibbons start howling up on the limestone cliffs. They never come down in sight but it sure adds to the ambience.

Wednesday February 17 1988, Krabi, Thailand

Got lost in the shuffle. [faa-lang] Thai word for foreigner

Thursday February 18 1988, Krabi, Thailand

It was about 5:00PM when O walked by on his way to the beach and said "Bawb, you want go Chicken Island?" I said no thanks, maybe later. Later on at the restaurant Chung says "You not want to go with O, he's going over to AuNang to pick up some farangs who go camping on Chicken Island. Go for ride." What the hell eh? Once underway O says, "Bawb, you boatman" So, balanced on the stern I jockeyed this bucking rotor tiller of a thrashing machine to AuNang Beach. After waiting about an hour said party arrived with a truck full of supplies. Off we go to Chicken Island with Boatman number three at the tiller, boy did my wrists take a beating. These were the people I had seen O talking to when we were out at Chicken Island on the day trip earlier on. Had a nice dinner with the four Germans and two Japanese who had been camping out there for the last couple of weeks. The moonlit cruse home was just magical with O singing his heart out. Got home around 9:30PM. The rest of the night was not so wonderful although probably just as memorable. To say it was shitty would be an understatement. Once at 1:00AM, squirt; 3:00AM, the flash-light doesn't work, new batteries don't help; can't find the matches; I'm losing my patience. By this time a spasm hits, and after the first step off the balcony all hell broke loose. All I could do now was contain the dripping mess in my sarong. The toilet was out of the question in the darkness sans light, so it looks like swim time. I hope Jaws is asleep.

Friday February 19 1988, Krabi, Thailand

"Friday nights all right for fight'n". Kurt and I caught the 1:00PM boat to town. It was ride the wild surf, O looked like a pirate of yesteryear. Heading dead into a three foot sea with fresh winds of about ten knots, the spray whipped at him, standing, water running off his squinting, screwed up face. Everyone was soaked through, I bailed for the entire one hour and fifteen minutes. The ''Kick boxing' in Krabi was more like a live stock auction hall in a half horse town somewhere in down and out Alberta. Krabi was just buzzing with apprehension, the machos were coming out of the wood work. "Mr. Gift Holland" were the only words that were intelligible from the echo chamber voiced announcer, screeching through distorting speakers. Good boxing, good crowd, good dinner with Kurt, tiger prawns for 10 Baht. The journey back to Pine Bungalows began with a wild ride through the streets of Krabi. Can you picture seventeen, that's right, seventeen Caucasians sardined into and onto a small Mazda pickup careening around, with everyone yelling and howling at the moon. Down at the river we all transferred to the Pine boat and raced the Joy boat back home. They won, but they didn't have as many people or as far to go. I just couldn't resist a 2:00AM swim in the fantastic warm phosphorescent water, Joann didn't want to come, mai penn lai!

Saturday February 20 1988, Krabi, Thailand

Lost in paradise!!! paradise!!! paradise!!!

Sunday February 21 1988, Krabi, Thailand

Went on the early boat for the AuNang supply run with O. Stopped on route to chat with the occupants of a fish boat that had anchored in the bay over night. O picked out a few choice little fish for himself and away we went. At AuNang, while we waited for the late truck [rubber time again], we sat around with the other Muslim boatmen and chewed the fat as it were. O ordered two bundles of what turned out curried chicken and rice from a hawker on a motor cycle. He was worried that I was missing my breakfast. All the men were vaguely curious about the big Farang with O. I could see they would pass comments back and forth with the occasional burst of laughter glancing in my direction. One of the fellows had a young son with him, about two years old. He grabbed the boy, thrusting him towards me saying something in Thai. The boy instantly screamed and dug his feet in, squirming to free himself. The entire group just roared with laughter. O said that the man had told the boy I was going to skin him alive and eat him. The poor kid will always hate farangs. Tired of waiting, O decided to check for the truck along at another beach. Didn't make any sense to me if this is where they usually meet, but what do I know? O is still apologising for my missing breakfast so he decides we should light a fire and cook the fish got earlier. Why not? Just as we get the wood gathered up the truck arrives and wonders why we're here instead of at AuNang.

MONDAY February 22 1988, Krabi, Thailand

The most amazing lighting storm I've ever seen started after this afternoons tropical down pour moved on. It could be seen on all the horizons, it was as though we were watching the war of the worlds. Shouldn't have stood on the beach so long watching cause I was eaten alive by the sand flies.

Tuesday February 23 1988, Krabi, Thailand


Wednesday February 24 1988, Krabi, Thailand

Floating around on the SS Florida is the only way to sunbathe. Joann and figure the water temperature at the surface has to be at least 45 o C3. We both reflect on how this is the most beautiful place we've ever been.

February 25-28 1988, Krabi, Thailand

...Time Warp ...lost track

MONDAY February 29 1988, Krabi, Thailand

Blind man's bluff! ...Larry Swenson, 54 years young, from San Francisco, has been legally blind for the last three years. Very amazing guy. In the past three months he has just come through India, Nepal and Thailand without a companion, yes that's what I said ...alone! He made a few observations I hadn't thought of. Sighted people usually make judgments on people they want to approach or places they want to stay at, by first impressions, are they nice to look at? For instance when he arrived at Pine Bungalows the boys were in the process of digging out the septic tank. If we hadn't said anything about the cause of the ill wind he might have moved on immediately. Larry had to get to know someone through conversation or stay at a place for a while to make a judgment whether or not he liked them or it. Race or colour didn't enter into his decisions. While sitting around table 12, inherited from the last group of long timers, we tried to think of what we should warn Larry of, geographically speaking. Something's a sighted person just takes for granted. The Thai toilets would be a definite hazard and the bamboo slatted floors in the bungalows were booby traps. One thing we had to warn him about were the open soap pits in back of the kitchen. These concrete culverts sunk into the ground would be a disaster if fallen into. Larry had a great three days at Pine Bungalows and when we helped him onto the boat I told him that the only thing he really missed were the bare breasted women on the beaches.

Tuesday March 1 1988, Krabi, Thailand

Well here it is the first of March, goofing off and sitting around the restaurant have become second nature. In fact this morning we discovered four grass and four watermelon plants sprouting at the leg of table 12. Somewhere around lunch time; these times are so difficult to define; a couple came up the path from the direction of Joy beach in full pack. They were obviously just off the boat. The guy took off his pack looked at me with a slight smirk and said "Michael Spedding?" For a instant I perceived this to be a Question, but then I realised that it was in fact a statement. At the same second Joann's jaw dropped and she was speechless. Here was Michael Spedding whom Joann had work with in Sydney in 1980. The last time we had seen him was the day we flew out of NZ in April 1981. Michael had just come from Ko Phi Phi on his way to Bangkok. When the boat arrived at Krabi he had been thinking of us and changed his mind, coming to Pine Bungalows instead. Unbelievably he even had a copy of Tom Robbins "Even Cowgirls Get The Blues" which is where Bonanza Jellybean was born. What do you think, was it just coincidence??

Wednesday March 2 1988, Krabi, Thailand

Have I mentioned the sand flies?? Just ask Kurt, he's got twenty one between his shoulder and elbow. I'm not too bad except for the raw spots, but Joann gets bites that blister then go hard. Very unnerving and not a lot of fun ...paradise is never perfect is it? It's 3:24PM and I've been rooted to the same stool, save one or two waterings, since breakfast. Our Thai visas expire on March 14th, but we've decided to leave a few days early, on Sunday, much to the staffs disapproval.

Thursday March 3 1988, Krabi, Thailand

"Bob's Tours" were arranged at the suggestion of Mr. Chung, The Botanical Garden, The Painting Cave and The River Cave. Pine Tours booked a chauffeur driven mini bus for us [turned out to be a songtoew] for the whole day, 500 Baht. The drive out was 45 Km. Half way we stopped at a cave that wasn't on the agenda. The local kids are always waiting to be guides, big flash lights in hand. It's very humid inside especially in the tropics, and then of coarse there's the added sweat that the fear precipitates. Rock climbing is not one of my strong sports but some of the girls actually froze in the clinches. The boat for The Painting and River Caves was 300 Baht after a little bargaining, and in retrospect that was a hell of a good deal for him seeing he only had to go about half a mile each way. Nice caves both of them. Obviously there haven't been a lot of tourists tramping around wrecking the place. We stopped for lunch at small village that obviously wasn't on the circuit. The menu was a classical example of English translation by someone who didn't speak it. "Pimp salad" "Fried pig" "**" After lunch it was off to the Botanical Gardens which they weren't. But it was a fantastic place to have a wonderful cool swim. The fresh water spring flowed out of a cave that you could swim into about 50 Yd's. Took lots of snaps and every had a great time. Another successful for "Bob's Tours" and such a deal at 800 Baht for nine people.

Friday March 4 1988, Krabi, Thailand

Full moon party at Joy beach ...masks, beach fires, mellow, very mellow. Jo and I had our own party ..."moon light becomes you!"

Saturday March 5 1988, Krabi, Thailand

Saturday it's off to Chicken Island again. We held the boat for Robyn till 10:00AM show. Before we actually go going there a bit of a confrontation with the charter boatman wanting us to pay him directly as the Pine Tour office takes a big 40% commission. On the second sweep of the windward reef, we came upon a 12" Cuttlefish. It look like something Spielberg might have dreamed up. Hovering over a large brain coral it just rolled it's spacey peaceful eyes at us and went about it's business. The mottled reddish brown skin instantly turned an opalescent pearl blue when touched, but wasn't inconvenience. We watched it snare small crustaceans out of the crevasses with it's stubby tentacles for about a half an hour. Thirty feet away a 6' Moray eel bares it's teeth, gave it a wide berth.

Sunday March 6 1988, Krabi Thailand

Up very early this morning, how's 4:44AM for early. Something wanted to use my ankle for breakfast. Hurt like hell too. The antihistamine made me sleep like a baby, the ankle swelled very big and continued to hurt like hell. Chung figures it must have been a centipede. After four weeks, things don't want to fit back into the packs, but it did. The 1:00PM boat was loaded to the gunnels but that doesn't stop them. I think there were about 17 people and their luggage. In Krabi we had lunch with Robyn then went to find Mr. Veera's tailor to make some shirts for me. Picked out some wild kids pajama material, the Thai's think I'm a little off. I think they're right but, Mai Pen Lai! Had a wonderful dinner with Earme ...prawns and clams. Later at the Night Market it was tea and sweets. Good nights and good-byes.

Monday March 7 1988, Krabi, Thailand

Did a little bit of shopping first thing in the morning, looking for some of the gold leaf foil squares that the Thai people put on the Buddha's. Joann shakes her head. Joann and Michael and myself hopped on a songtoew out to Than Bok the botanical garden to cool our heels. And so we did with the help of a typically tropical rain storm, which we waited out munching on pressed dried squid warmed up on a BBQ. ...mmm. Rather than take the two hour milk run back, we figured to try hitch hiking. The first ride we turned down. Who the hell wants to ride on a flat deck truck loaded with oxy-acetylene cylinders in perpetual motion. The next to stop, also a truck, was a Windex Draino salesman out of Bangkok. The three of us crammed into the cab to join the driver and his cohort. Michael on the motor and Joann on my knee. With every dip in the road Joann smashed into the unpadded cab roof, then slammed down crushing my legs. No shocks. Dinner was same-same at the Seafood Restaurant. The last supper with Michael for who knows how long if ever again. Saying good bye the first time was weird but this! See ya all of a sudden.

Tuesday March 8 1988 Krabi, Thailand

Had to hang around Krabi till my shirts were ready, so I went out to Au Nang with the Pine Office truck to say my last good byes to O. Gave him the ivory carving of Hanaman I'd bought in Bali in 1980, maybe it will bring him good luck. The trip to Hat Yai was long and hot and sticky, but the connections went click, click, click. The next thing we knew we were in the Cathay Guest House on real beds, yes that's right folks mattresses and everything. It almost seems more like Malaysia than Thailand with all the men up for their illicit liaisons. Went out for a great feast in china town, can't seem to get enough of those prawns.

Wednesday March 9 1988 Hat Yai, Thailand

We decided to take a taxi to Penang even though there are many horror stories about missing persons. So at 8:30AM we waltzed over to the King Hotel and put our name on the list for the next one. They said we could leave right away if we wanted the whole cab to ourselves, for $50 CDN, no thanks we'll wait. Time we've got, money we don't. It wasn't more than 15 minutes and we were 5. Once the British couple's Sampsonite luggage was loaded in the boot things were a little tight, but with a snap of the bungee cord to hold the boot lid, away we went. It was a baby blue 1959 Mercedes with a million miles on it. A quiet uneventful ride. I don't know how the Brit stood the trip in his grey flannel suit complete with the tie. At the Malaysian border we didn't even talk to an officer, the cabby did the whole bit. Had a short stop at the brand new flash North American style duty free shop to buy Remy Martin and Luckystrikes for the driver to sell through the black market in Georgetown. 5 hours to the front door of the Swiss Hotel, and lucky to get the last room, a double [which in Malaysia means 2 beds a single is 1] for 7.50 CDN. Tomorrow we can change into a single [5.50 CDN]. Joann was feeling the heat so she had a shower and crashed while I headed to the GPO to check on all those cards and letters from overseas. Only 2, thanks folks! Penang doesn't seem to have changed at all in 9 years. Maybe a few more buildings but they're farther out not downtown. Stopped in to see Lall at the Rio Restaurant on the way back. Said we'd come by for lunch tomorrow.

Thursday March 10 1988 Penang, Malaysia

If you have breakfast in Penang, it just has to be at the Tye Anne Hotel. The smiling manager is still at the front desk directing the poached eggs and "porridge banana" to the appropriate tourists. I talked to him briefly and discovered that his son was in Canada going to university at Simon Fraser in Vancouver. We are, becoming a global community aren't we? The food at the Rio is still the best vegetarian Indian ever. Lall, his dad and sister Lakshmy still run the stand the same way as it's been since the 1940's when Papa came from the old country. Lall wants to get out of Malaysia badly. In the last election, 1,900 opposition people were imprisoned just in Penang. Papa's mango chutney is wonderfully hot and spicy.

At the GPO the cupboards are still bare. Nobody loves us!! Jo was a little burned out so she decided to go back to the hotel room while I headed for Guna's house. He hasn't moved in 8 years and the last time I was here it was night so nothing looks very familiar. I asked a neighbourhood woman working in her garden for directions, she didn't speak English so called her daughter to interpret for us. She escorted me down the path to the house which hadn't changed at all. Across the path a group of boys were eyeing me with curiosity when one yelled out "Bob", it was Guna's younger brother, still looking like a macho cool dude. His compatriots were more than a little surprised that he would know a great big white guy that came out of nowhere. Guna's wife hastily tried in vain to straighten up the small crowded space. Aren't surprises fun. I made the arrangements for lunch on Saturday and then headed to the tea shop next to the Eng Loh. The same owner was there from 1980. Guna had lost so much weight I would have walked right by him. Don't know if he is sick or just not eating so much. Ya right.. Don't remember how we got on the subject, but Guna had a rage on about how he thought the Malay's were so lazy but still got all the good government jobs.

Met Bert and Jean from Edmonton back at the Swiss Hotel for tea and a little game of cards. They were on their way home after cycling through India. Looked at a very interesting ceramic filter that was touted to be able to remove anything including Hepatitis from ditch water. It sold for $175 CDN back home.

Friday March 11 1988 Penang, Malaysia

Off to KL on Sunday morning. Picked up a couple of bus tickets 13 Rm ($7 CDN each) then off to the post office to mail 4.5 kilos of slide film back home for the prepaid developing. You know we've never lost a roll out of everything we've sent over the years. Touch wood...

Lunch at the Rio with Lall again, I could really get used to this rut. We made arrangements to go out to dinner, our treat, to a place that he liked to go to. The 4 of us went ate our faces off... banana leaves for plates, teas, sodas, the whole bit... 10.60 Rm ($5.60 CDN) delicious and what a bargoon eh?

Saturday March 12, 1988 Penang, Malaysia

Stopped down to the GPO to change our forwarding address to Singapore... and yet again, nobody loves us. But did have some good luck and found what I'm sure were the last 3 rolls of Kodachrome 64 in Penang.

Off to Jelutong via the #3 bus... the buses in Penang just have to be the most rickety wrecks I've ever been on. That's Bedford for ya... Happened to get on one with Lall's brother driving. His entire train of thought was about the professional wrestling in North America. He wanted to know all there was to know about Hulk Hogan... He just couldn't understand how it was possible for a person to take so much abuse and not end up with some blood somewhere... the thought of a fixed fight had never crossed his mind... duh!

The entire extended family was there, and enough food for a small party but suspiciously only 3 place settings. We tried to be as polite as possible, the Indians just do not take no for an answer. We ate far too much food as fantastic as it was and felt so uncomfortable. As if this wasn't bad enough, the ladies brought out about 6 yards of sari and proceeded to wrap up the oh so lucky Joann. For me, just an ill fitting wedding sarong. Stuffed, wrapped up like a mummy and dripping with the humidity. Isn't it fun? Guna's dad had had a few drinks as usual and was quite talkative, telling old stories about the days when the British colonialism and the Japanese occupation.

Walked around town, trying to work off some of the stuffing we'd had and did some last minute laundry before hitting the sack.

Sunday, March 13, 1998 Penang, Malaysia

My tea and the mini-bus arrived at the same time, 08:34. The problem being that my eggs and toast were still to come so we told the driver to come back after getting some of the other passengers. "No way." he said, "If you don't come now, you"ll have to get down to the bus station on your own." I showed him my bus ticket which read "09:00 at the Swiss Hotel." He and the Swiss desk guy had words. I had my eggs and a shit, and the bus returned for us at 08:50. I win!

The Malaysian air-con buses don't hold a candle to the VIP buses in Thailand. The driver was so overly cautious and slow it made for a long trip.

Earmy got off at the Cameron Highlands turnoff while we continued on through the very violent cloud bursting lightening storms for a full hour into KL.

...took a taxi (3 Rm - $1.50 Cdn) from the bus station over to the YMCA area and found a room at the Wing Heng Hotel for 16 Rm ($7.50 Cdn) In '80 we'd stayed here and it was a brothel.

...took the 51 bus to Kelang station where we waited over an hour till 20:00 for the Palm Grove which dropped us right at Arthur's door. Arthur was in KL visiting his brother so we waited and were entertained by uncle George who'd been tipping a few Tiger beers, aunt May and nephews Harold and Adrian.

...Arthur was so surprised to see us. Same old Arthur but much older and thinner, maybe the two operations have taken their toll. He really misses Tony and is very hurt that Tony hasn't kept in touch.

...the bus stopped on it's final trip back to town and the driver came and knocked on the door to make sure the foreigners wouldn't be stranded. Amazing. Both Arthur and the relatives were quite flabbergasted at our venturing out on the public transport and the driver's response.

...rode the 'Kelang Ekspres' (Arthur's Ford Escort that we'd been chaffered in, in 1980) back into town, with Adrian in the shot-gun seat to keep Arthur awake for the return trip.

...The 'Lady' of the house let us in the locked door at the Wing Heng Hotel.

Monday, March 14, 1988 KL, Malaysia

Slept just fine last night. No loud orgasms, not even our room. Murtabak with egg for breakfast. Mmm! Took a taxi (.70 Rm) to the new post office... no mail...over to the train station to book 2nd kelas sleepers to Singapore on Mar 16th (54.00 Rm)

Arthur picked us up at 12:30... we went for lunch ala Chinese-Indian. Just love to eat with my fingers off the banana leaves. Then we headed off to see the new mosque that was built for the birthday of the Sultan on Selangor. (160 Million Rm) Talk about a monument to one's self... All cobalt blue and white ceramic tile, very Tajmhal like. Joann wore a purdah (a type of caftanish hooded cover-up worn by Muslim women. She was very eye catching with the blonde hair hanging out of the black hood. The new buildings around Selangor were financed by the Sultan who had had title to the land on which KL stood. He officially transferred title to the Federal Government for quite a few millions.

Went back to the Central Market via a cloudburst ala KL traffic jam. Arthur's car took the brunt of it with him slipping the clutch all the way. Very California looking building in the middle of town filled with entrepreneurs in booths sell everything from original art and crafts to antiques and t-shirts. Very interesting.

Back to the ranch to wash off that city slime, crash.

Tuesday, March 15, 1988 KL, Malaysia

Still no mail.

Spent the entire morning rummaging around the very active China town.

No good flicks on at the movies so we went back to the hotel to read.

Wednesday, March 16, 1988 KL, Malaysia

Arthur came to see us off at the train station, such a sweet man. (this was the last time we were to ever see him, his sister Doris in Singapore wrote that he died in 1990)

Nothing special about the train trip, arriving in Singapore after dark, we figured out which local bus would deliver us to Bencolin Street. Eith years ago we had stayed here in a wonderful old Chinese hotel and hoped that it was still in service, but it was now a big new building. At this late time we decided to stay in on of the partitioned rooms in the area and look for something better tomorrow.

Thursday, March 17, 1988 - Singapore

The next day we checked out a place that we'd heard about. It was on the edge of the Indian district in a new apartment building. As we stepped into the dorm the stench ripped though the nostrils like an ammonia factory with a major leak. It was a combination of sweat and urine that the high heat and humidity didn't serve to diminish one iota. Not my idea of a good time, but we discovered almost by accident that there was a private room available, but only for one night. What's that Greek or Roman saying for 'seize the moment.' No fan and do ventilation, and the bed was no hell. Next morning the manager asked if we were interested in renting one bedroom of a two bedroom apartment. It was very sparsely furnished with a table and chairs, a double mattress in the bedroom and several mattresses in the living room that sort of substituted for furniture, not great. The saving grace was the fact that it was brand new and cheap, $22 Sng ($12.22 Cdn) with a full kitchen.

Friday, March 18 to XXXXXXXXXXXX - Singapore

Over the next 2 weeks we enjoyed: shopping... bird park... planetarium... MRT

Just as we were about to leave for Jakarta, we received mail from Leigh Braisington. He was to be transiting Singapore in a couple of days on route to an Indonesian island south of Singapore to see a solar eclipse. We hadn't seem him since Bali in 1980, so lots of catching up.

Arrived at Changi airport to discover that Bob (ya ya ya that's me) had screwed up in the interpretation of the 24 hour clock. For some reason I just had it in my head that 18:00 was 8:00 pm. Opps. So when we checked in were told that the flight had just left. Luckily there was space on the next days flight, but we had to head back to the city to try and find a reasonably priced hotel since we'd checked out of the apartment.

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