Category Archives: Thailand


Chiangrai Tour



Black house – บ้านดำ

hill tribe village – หมู่บ้านกระเหรี่ยง

Monkey cave – ถ้ำลิง

Mae sai – แม่สาย

Golden triangle – สามเหลี่ยมทองคำ

Chiang Sean – เชียงแสน


For three days I motorbiked around Chiang Ria. Seldom did I find my intended destinations but I did happen upon many an interesting spot. On the third day, returning to my hotel using a paper map as google maps on my phone always provided a route that was at least twice as far, sending me miles in the wrong direction to make a U-turn onto a road even farther away I stumbled upon a tour operator and walked inside.

All of my destinations and more in the comfort of an air conditioned vehicle for 1,000 baht, about $30. That sounded like a plan. I paid my fare and got an enormous hand written receipt detailing every stop. I guess there is no point in saying, “Chiang Ria and Golden Triangle Tour” when there is nothing else to do.

Ricky showed up promptly at my hotel at the designated hour of 8:30 the following morning. Along on the tour was Marco an Italian from Rome and a middle aged Japanese fellow.

White Temple / Wat Ron Kuhn / วัดร่องขุ่น

Our first stop was Wat Rong Kuhn, a temple unlike any I have ever seen. A visionary, possibly inspired by the legal mushrooms has created the strangest house of worship, it even features Superman.

Next up, Baan Si Dum, it’s hard to beat this for pictures and text, so I won’t bother.

My Picture

I was going to give the Villages of the Hill People a miss.  It was reported to be very exploitive and touristy, it was neither.

National Geographic Picture

I took a picture of this woman and posted it on Facebook.  A short while later somebody I know in Panama said that a National Geographic documentary had been done on these people and the woman was featured.  I expressed my doubts and then the woman posted this. Absolutely the same woman.

The collars weigh over four kilograms.  They don’t stretch the neck, they collapse the shoulders and rib cages.  Apparently they feel this is an attractive look.

I walked around took pictures of the cute kids and a homemade toy that looked like something out of the Flintstones.

Being new to WordPress, I am having a difficult time formatting this page.  Allow me to slap in some verbiage and I will pretty it up later (yeah, right).

Monkey Cave – Chiang Ria – Thailand

Monkey Cave

No Southeast Asia tour is complete without visiting some obnoxious macaques.  We saw ours at the monkey cave. <table><tr><td align=”center”>

There was a long stairway, a few more than two hundred steps and a little cave with a Buddha complete with a little klitzy LED apparatus that looked like something out of a 1960’s Sci-Fi movie.
We headed up to Mae Sai, the northern most edge of Thailand on the Myanmar border.  A long line of vehicles of every description were waiting to cross the border, laden with goods purchased in Thailand where the tariffs are significantly lower.  There was a lot of shit for sale for tourists as well as actual goods such as fishing gear and televisions.   We spent half an hour there, which was entirely too long.  If one crosses into Myanmar and wishes to proceed a guide must be hired for 1,000 baht a day and food and lodging must be provided.   When one flies into Myanmar one has much more freedom to travel.  Just crossing the bridge and returning in the same day results in one’s visa being reissued for a period of 15 days no matter how many days were left on the 30 day standard tourist visa.

Golden Triangle – Chiang Saen

We stopped for someplace for lunch.  By now it was 2:45, we were starving and the buffet had been raided.  There were empty chafing dishes and near empty dishes already stripped of any sort of meat.  Next up we headed to the border again, this time the intersection of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.  There was a large golden Buddha and near it some steps one could climb and throw a coin into a funnel that would slide down some tubes and deposit the money in the navel of a laughing Buddha.  Upon receiving the coin it laughed over loud speakers.  It was the tackiest thing I have seen on this trip.

The final stop was the Hall of Opium, a serious disappointment.  There were hand painted murals on the wall, plastic poppies and a collection of opium pipes.


Wat Rong Kun

Baan Si Dun

Monkey Cave

Hill People

Driver and Tour Operator

The tour was arranged through Sopaphan travel

Our driver was Paween, which means bird, a very pleasant person who spoke English well.

phone number: 0897575377  Email:

From outside of Thailand call +66897575377


Further reading:

Thailand Uncategorized

Kaen Krung National Park – Thailand

Ko Pha Ngan to Kaeng Krung Park

An uneventful ferry ride and about an hour and a half later we were at the port of Sumat Thani. We rode in the back of a truck to the minibus station where things started to get interesting. Nobody understood where we wanted to go. When I finally showed the guy on a map he broke out laughing and showed our destination to the other drivers who roared with laughter. We were told we had to go to another place that was three kilometers away and took a tuk tuk for 100 baht. We had reservations at the park. We called the numbers but none of them were valid, I remembered that the numbers all started with 0 and prepended a 0 and reached a fax machine. We walked around to a hotel and found the spot where we dropped off, it was no 3km, that was just the route the tuk tuk driver took. At the hotel the woman told us the name of a city we needed to go to, we looked it up on a map and it was nowhere near our destination. She finally got hold of the park and told us to a different city to go to, which was not too far from the park, we bought a couple of tickets for 125 baht each and rode to nowhere. We had completely escaped any travellers and tourists. We finally were told this was our destination. Now what?

As I hopped out of the bus, a guy in camo approached and said he was a park ranger. Wow! That was easy. We hopped into the back of his truck and drove off to the park. Although Marek and I each had reservations for 400 baht a night,it turns out that was the rate for a cabin, not per person. The website was ambiguous, better safe than sorry.

We were shown to our cabin, dumped our stuff and were soon brought dinner. We expected a communal eating area, but … As we passed a cabin a guy was playing a guitar.

Throughout the day we were joined by the curious and continually photographed, hundreds upon hundreds of pictures of the most mundane activities, lacing boots, eating, sitting in a truck. They don’t get many guests I think and white people must be very rare.

The next day we had a short walk in the wet jungle, wading across a river, thoroughly soaking my hiking boots, the cost was 200 baht apiece which three days later are still not dry, hanging onto my backpack, I nearly just lost one. In the afternoon we rafted. That was 350 baht each, on inflatable kayaks. In the evening we were invited to join the group, two rangers with their guitars, the girl brought us a cold pomegranate and we listened to them play their guitars and sing in Thai.

We hoped to see animals the park has elephants and tigers, but the terrain is rugged with most of the slopes 30 to 80 degrees and the wildlife was scattered throughout the remote parts of the park.

We arranged for them to take us to the train station.

We had each paid 1,200 baht for three nights which works out to about $15 a night. It turns out that was the cabin fee, not per person fee. Whatever.

Additionally we paid 200 baht each for the jungle walk, 350 each for the rafting and an usual request 1,000 baht to take us to the train station. So that adds up to 1,900 baht. The total bill was 3,600 baht meaning 1,700 baht for five meals each, bottled water and cigarettes.

Krabi Thailand Uncategorized

Koah Ra

I was not impressed with Koh Samui, the much lauded place was a wonderful destination if one were seeking pharmacies, bars, restaurants, hotels, custom made suits, tattoos, tour providers, money exchange, ATMs, massages and blowjobs from the extremely hot professional girls who work the pool tables in the bars, each of these are available in a endless loop, punctuated by sides streets with of German Town, Russia Town and smatterings of Swedish and Australian restaurants and sports bars edging a substandard beach. There, I got it over with in one sentence. Moving on.

Yesterday was the king’s birthday and consequently alcohol sales were prohibited, although the Australian bar served beer. I didn’t ask. In any event, the town was dead last night and I just sat in my room and read.

I had sought some snorkeling, but the boats all went to Koh Tao where there is a national marine park. Why not go there then?

This morning I walked out of the hotel and the prostitute that solicited me yesterday at six in the morning, was riding up in a scooter to meet with a customer in the lobby. Let me flash back to yesterday. I was standing on the street in front of the hotel, smoking a cigarette at six in the morning waiting for the coffee, such as it was, to be available. Coffee means near hot water and instant coffee, it’s about the only thing available anywhere. The woman drove up to her house, directly across from hotel entrance, parked her scooter and asked “Where you go? Where you go? You have wire?” I indicated I had no idea what she was talking about and she indicated her ring finger. Oh, wife. No. “I go buy oil, be right back.” No really I am just looking for a coffee.

I got my computer and went to the lobby to check my email and Facebook messages. Still no reply on that business deal. WTF? After several coffees I returned to my room to put away my computer to find a condom stretched over my room door. I summoned a maid who removed it with an ungloved hand and then washed the knob after I asked her to.

When I looked on the internet for lodging on Koh Tao, one appeared for Ko Phangam, an island that lies halfway between Koh Samui and Koh Tao. There were some bungalows in the mountains that seemed a like a nice way to get away from things and I made a reservation on I informed that I would get a confirmation or a denial, probably within four hours. I decided I would go to Ko Phayam regardless and find some lodging. There were three companies within 100 feet selling tickets. I went to one and bought a one way trip, taxi and boat ride for 450 baht, about 15 dollars. That’s the last currency conversion I will give you in this post.

A taxi was to pick me up between 11:00 and 11:30. A guy showed up at 11:17 and indicated no little disgust that I wasn’t just standing there waiting for him. I shutdown the computer and put it in my bag, total delay a little less than a minute. The sky darkened and I followed him to a hot van with worn out seats, the padding material exposed at all the corners and much of the edges of the seats. I placed my backpack, camera bag and computer on the first passenger bench seat as I had been requested. Shortly thereafter we picked up a Russian couple at a five star resort and one of his suitcases was carefully laid on the seat next to my luggage. The second bag was heaved onto the top of my electronics before I could react.

A few minutes later we were at Big Buddha pier and I took a seat behind a Canadian couple and we compared notes on Thailand. They were heading to where I had just come from. I just listed the places without tendering any judgments. I hope they enjoy it. They did tell me that Trawangan, Bali was awesome and I made a note of that.

I walked over to the rails and smoked a cigarette and introduced myself to a German guy. He asked where I was headed. I describe the bungalows in the mountains and he excitedly told me that that was the type of thing he was doing. He had just spent a week at one of the two places offering lodging on Koh Phayam, places one would only find if someone were to tell him, family owned and operated and offering peace and tranquility.

Our one o’clock scheduled departure took place well after the half hour for no obvious reason. About three quarters of an hour later we arrived at our destination. In the mean time, I had exchanged several emails with the girl who was making reservations on behalf of the woman who owned the place. It turned out that the offered transportation had to be booked well in advance. It’s a small island, how hard could this be? I showed my confirmation and was shown a map of the island and was told that it had to be in this area as indicated by the place name. Where exactly was unknown. I found a book for tourists that detailed activities, restaurants and lodgings, but my intended destination was not listed. I called the number provided, the phone was not in service. Finally, I turned on images for my email, saw a map, clicked on it and google maps opened up and showed the exact location. The fare was as I was advised in my booking, 200 baht.

The Russian couple and I were the only passengers and we waited for additional fares, but by this time the dock area was cleared of any potential customers and we headed out at 3:00. About 20 minutes later the taxi driver called the bungalows and indicated that I was there. He told me that as there were only three passengers the fare was 300 baht and further that a taxi would come from the bungalows to pick me up. We watched a man poking coconuts with a pronged stick and toss them into the bed of pickup truck. The taxi driver indicated that coconut milk was very good after joy. I inquired with a thrusting right fist “Joy? Sex?” he pantomimed smoking a bong. Ahh, dry mouth. I prefer my version of joy. I paid him and he departed.

Soon an elderly woman appeared on a scooter and asked if I was going to a certain bungalow. That was not the name I had been given on my reservation, but I replied in the affirmative. She indicated that I should sit on the back of her scooter. Between me and two much stuff the additional 300 pounds the frame bottomed out. She made a phone call and indicated that a taxi would come from town. I had but a mile to go, so I started walking. I could be there in twenty minutes. On my way another old woman came and asked where I was going. Sure, wrong bungalows, but I could transfer tomorrow, it’s not my fault they don’t answer the phone at the place I reserved. We went a short ways on the concrete road before it turned to dirt. When it turned to mud, I had to get out and walk. Despite the short distance it was fairly steep and I wasn’t accustomed to carrying this much and I hadn’t quit smoking when I hit Southeast Asia, as I had intended to.

I found the place without any difficulty, dropped my bags, looked out at an expanse of jungle and chatted with a couple of elderly Thai women, one being the person who had given me the ride. I was hungry, not having eaten yet. I got a small banana one of the little sweet ones common in Panama but not available in the states. I asked for a shake and quickly received a banana shake and was then offered a bar-b-qued banana, which was delicious but not nearly enough to sate me. Hell, it was almost dinner time and I hadn’t eaten anything else all day.

The woman told me that to eat, I should rent a scooter and go back to town. Shit! I didn’t want to rent a scooter, I didn’t want to see a road much less a town. I came here to be one with nature. It turns out that normally they serve meals but that the woman’s cousin had died and she had been spending her days at the temple. There were five other guests checked in but not in evidence, they were off walking in the mountains. It turns out that they had all been there each year for many years and were going to town for takeaway three times a day. Damn..

She offered to make me fried rice, but I have been avoiding rice and offered to make me some  So far, in Thailand, I have lost five micro USB cables and six pounds. The weight loss I attribute to avoiding starches and my nemesis, ice cream. Hopefully some good mountain hiking will accelerate that process, I’d like to drop another twenty. It is now 6:20, the power just went out. My computer says I have 1 hour and 52 minutes of run time. I doubt it.

My phone is running on battery power. I bought a micro USB cable yesterday and charged up the phone last night, today the batteries quickly died and it wouldn’t take a charge. Damn cable. It can’t be all three USB ports on my computer, I hope. I plugged in my Kindle. Damn, it charges. The phone is fucked. How did that happen? I haven’t been caught in the rain or dropped it in the sea.


The camera was kind of shitty, the phone did get some water in it a while ago and the camera hasn’t been up to snuff since then, when was that? Oh, yeah, when Kivia came to Bocas. Haha, just saw her a couple of days ago.

As my only source of internet is the phone and I can’t charge it, I tried to turn it off. It immediately said



Do not turn off target!!!

Great, burn up what little battery power I have while downloading an operating system upgrade I don’t need over a G3 connection. I hope it finishes before the battery dies. After that, I may have a working spare battery and then I guess I have to replace the phone. I won’t be anywhere long enough to get it repaired.

The phone died, I replaced the battery with a good one, it started to boot, turned off and is now a brick. Life.

I put in a third battery. It booted, but showed no battery life and died.

I put in a fourth battery, now out of batteries and it says, charging. I don’t know.

In the end I went to bed without dinner, having had just a shake and a couple of bananas for the day.

Krabi Snorkel Tour Thailand

Krabi Snorkeling Tour – A Very Bad Idea

The time to meet up with someone had finally arrived, it was time to leave Karon and head to Krabi.

Before going into that, I’ll say I didn’t do much in Karon, a day of unspectacular diving and the rest of the time was spent hanging out at the beach or sitting in the lobby of my hotel, working on some aerospace software.   That was fairly productive, but until I get some confirmation that the prospective client has more than a casual interest I will probably give that a rest for a while.  Coding has become a chore rather than a passion.

Getting to Krabi, the hard way: I was told to wait out in front of the hotel for “the big blue bus”.  Many big blue busses passed by but finally the hotel clerk went out in front and flagged down an oversized  a covered truck that I was to have known qualified as a bus.  I was shortly and unceremoniously dropped off in the middle of Phuket Town.   I was fortunate  to find a fellow who wanted to know where I was going without trying to get me to take a tuk tuk ride.   Just wait here, the bus to the bus terminal will be along in a bit.  When it showed up, he pointed it out to me.  Another truck, but this one fully occupied, with people standing on the rear bumper and just holding on.  I placed my gear on the bumper, grabbed onto carrier rails on the roof and off we went. There we so many people standing on the back bumper the gear couldn’t fall off. Half an hour later the bus stopped at the Phuket Town bus terminal.   A hike across a busy road and up a hill and I was there.  I asked at one window where I buy a ticket to Krabi, the woman at the next booth called me over.

I plunked down my 120 baht, about four bucks and headed out to the appropriate bus lane and waited a short bit.  This was a big air-conditioned double decker affair, the lower portion was used for luggage and presumably for transporting other goods.   The backpack was stowed and I headed up the stairs and took a seat a proceeded to read on my kindle.  A comfortable 2 1/2 or 3 hour bus ride later I was at the Krabi bus terminal.  Hmmm.   Of course I was solicited by a couple of taxi drivers, but I found one with several people and inquired if it was going to the beach.  I didn’t even know how many there were much less which one to go to.

Twenty minutes later after a ride in the back of a small pickup with benches beneath a covered top,  I was in the town of Au Anong and got on the internet, booked a room, made my way to the place, dumped the bags, showered and headed out.  A couple of hours later I stumbled into Kivia at a street food vendor. We had something to eat, many a laugh about our recent travel experiences and went to the beach to meet a friend of hers, unbeknownst to me, we had left twenty minutes after the agreed upon meeting time and the other person never showed or had given up.  More stories, more laughs and we headed to the room.  The next day was a whole lot of nothing, Kivia planned travel for weeks in advance and I tried to charge her flights, but was declined on my bank card.  One flight went through, but the others failed.  I called the bank, the fraud unit had been alerted due to the fact that these were foreign transactions.  Really?  I have been  out of the US for four years.  You are just now noticing?  I tried to put them through again without success and close to two we just gave up,  we’ll deal with it tomorrow.

The prices were pretty amazing, from Bangkok to Myanmar, including baggage surcharges and credit card fees it came to $67.  More flights, to Malaysia and then Indonesia and the total was still under $250.  We had planned to go snorkeling so she ran out and bought a couple off tickets on a tour.  The nominal price was 1,800 baht per person, but I had advised her that I had shopped around in Phuket town and found them as low as 1,000  baht.  She paid 1,000 baht each.

The Snorkel Trip

We were picked up at 8:30 and rode a bus for but a few minutes and boarded a “fast boat”  around 40 feet, with a 10 foot beam and twin Honda 250 four strokes on the stern.  Thirty eight of us boarded.  Kivia headed through the boat and assumed a seat in the foremost portion of the bow.  This would certainly afford both the best view and the most uncomfortable ride.  We jammed ass to ass when the operator indicated that we had room for two more.  Really? In half an hour we were at Bamboo Beach.   Boats were everywhere, side to side, stern to shore, each carrying close to fifty passengers.  The water was crystal clear, enormous rocks rose straight up from the sea, the sand was white and fine and the beach was packed with people.  It was standing room only.

We were expecting a quiet, lovely beach.  Instead, there were throngs of people. It was standing room only.  We were given twenty minutes to enjoy our surroundings.  Asians were waiting  to take pictures like the one on the left. Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, and of course Swedes.  This town is a Swede outpost. After taking pictures of people taking pictures we headed to the restrooms.  There was a long queue at the women’s room.  Seems like we have been here over twenty minutes.  Yeah, we were two tardy travelers.  We returned to the boat to receive a twenty minute tirade from the tour operator, telling us next time we should hire a private boat.  We attempted to apologize but it was difficult to interrupt his stream of vehemence.

We took off and boated past a tiny cave that had bamboo improbably positioned throughout.  There were tens of thousands of tons of rock overhead.   As we started to head out one of the tourists asked if that was the viking cave.  The tour operator stated indignantly that he had tried to tell us but that nobody had bothered to listen.  Click, click, click.

We wound our way between some large rocks in near still waters and were asked to temporarily relinquish our seats so that people could take photos.  What about us?  We hadn’t had a chance and we were the ones getting the shit beaten out of our backs.

Next stop, monkey bay. After explaining that feeding the monkeys was bad, without a proper explanation of the imbalanced diet of tourist provided bananas and the lack of exercise obtained by foraging if food was just handed to them.  He popped open a couple of coke bottles and flipped the tops into the water.   He was getting on my nerves.  Then he proceeded to get out of the boat and offer the coke bottle to the monkey who drank it and carried it off to be littered somewhere.   Our three minute photo session came to a close and we headed to Phi Phi island.

Upon arrival we were informed that we had one hour for lunch.  After eating we could go shopping at the mall.  Really?  I came to beautiful island to go frigging shopping? The food was pretty bad,bland, cold, not nearly as good as one could obtain from any street vendor.  There was no time to explore the beaches or the island.  We punctually arrived at the boat having seen none of Phi Phi but concrete and headed out to snorkel, the tour operators arrived far later than our previous delay but issued no apology.

A Swedish couple next to us grimaced as we crashed on the waves.  The sea wasn’t rough, but the boat took them very badly.   Robert asked our benevolent guide to ask the driver to slow down as the ride was painful.  The guide replied that this wasn’t bad and that if Robert didn’t like it, he could get off the boat and next time he could take a slow boat.   I admonished him by stating that while we were forced to sit in the front due to lack of room to stand, he was standing in the rear of the boat all very comfortable.  Now he was pissed.  He told me that he would leave Kivia and me at Bamboo Island to be killed by the “real Thais”, that we were not allowed on his boat.  He then said he was calling the tourist police and faked a call. Who is to believe he would speak with them in English?  Kivia turned on her go pro and told him that she was a journalist, which in fact, she is and asked him his name and what he was uspset about.  He backed down, noticing the filming and went into the main cabin, pulled out a large knife for no apparent reason and continued his tirade. He returned to the front and Kivia told him we would gladly get out but that he had to refund all of our money first.  He refused to do so and said that we should talk with the company from whom we bought the tickets.  I requested the email address of the Swedish and Spanish couple in the event that things got ugly with the tourist police l  The Swede’s readily provided theirs and were looking forward to this perspective, it would back up their crazy story when they got home.  The Spanish couple thought about it for a minute and decided they didn’t have email.

Next, it was time to snorkel, this was, after all, a snorkeling trip. Sargent Majors were in abundance, a few parrot fish. I saw a sea snake and an eel.  Kivia saw and photographed a human skull. We joked that it might have been that of a tourist from this very boat. I looked around and there was nobody in the water. What? We went on a snorkel trip and we had been in the water for less than half an hour. Kivia commented that Bocas del Toro, Panama, was far superior in every respect.  I had spent a few days with Kivia in Bocas when I lived there.  I still have a house on the Caribbean there, out in the jungle, with no roads and only the occasional boat, many paddled by the Ngobe who are my neighbors.

The Spaniards reported that their iPhone and camera had been stolen from their bags when there was no one aboard the boat but the crew.  Karma’s a bitch guys.

We got off at Bamboo Island with the others and stood there for ten minutes before returning to the boat with the others.  He didn’t challenge us.  Had he, there were plenty of other boats we could have hired. When we returned to the pier, he passed a hat around and asked everybody to tip them.  The hat came back completely empty.  One passenger from the front gave him a few baht.  He said that that passenger could have a ride back to her hotel, the rest of us would have to walk.  We jammed 23 of us into the back of a long bed truck and then got out and boarded something that more nearly approximated a bus.   There was apparent unanimity across all nationalities the guy was an asshole and the day sucked.  When stepped out of the bus, the guide thanked each of us for coming.

This was boat #15 in case anybody cares to go on this tour anyway, certainly avoid this boat.

Kivia packed her backpack, paid me for her flights and headed out to bus it to Bangkok to see another friend from god only knows where and then fly to Myanmar the next day.   Goodbye, see you in Bali!!!
No, I won’t be going to any of the elephant parks. 

Phuket Thailand

Bangkok to Phuket – The Hard Way

I’ve been tuk tuked and non metered taxi drivered into submission.

This morning I will walk to Sukhumvit station, catch a ride to Makassan, walk around, try to find the airport train, get my Kabar confiscated and then end up at the wrong airport.

A parting special thanks to the tuk tuk driver yesterday. That was enough giant Buddahs to last a lifetime. He reported that the Grand Palace was closed until 3 so he took me to stores that sold crocodile purses, teak wood boxes, all the things I really need right now. For his trouble the stores gave him cumulatively vouchers for 15 liters of gas. After the last stop, he was gone. Oh, the temple was open and closes at 3:30? Perfect, another trip to Bangkok, perhaps.

Where the hell was I and how was I to get back?

The adventure continues, details at 11.

I could grab a taxi to the airport for 500 baht.   That would be far too easy.  Why take the easy route when there are other options?

So, I checked out of my room, by leaving the pass key to the elevator and inadvertently $60 worth of Ghirardelli chocolate I had picked up in San Francisco, destined for no one in particular.

My backpack, at last weighing was 48.5 pounds, my day back 20 and my computer bag another 7.   I gained more than a few pounds in the last month, now I had another 75.

Down the street to the MRT, the underground railway down two flights of stairs. Past a metal detector, the marine fighting knife, designed for killing people, set off the metal detector but I wasn’t stopped.

WTF? There is no Makasson stop.  The rail system map was nothing more than a horizontal line listing the stops.  There was no context for the city or other routes.  It wasn’t a map.  Back up two long flights of stairs, down the street, up three flights of stairs, down three flights of stairs,cross a bridge over 8 lanes of traffic to MTS, up three flights of stairs to the overhead railway system.  They use different cards and one cannot transfer from one to the other.  I don’t know.  Maybe one is private and the other not.  Maybe anything, it didn’t matter. 

I stopped a European fellow and asked if he knew how to get to the airport.  He said he didn’t know shit, but his wife did.  She directed me the long way with two transfers on, well, she pointed it out on a map that actually showed more than one line.   She gave me a roundabout way on the overhead.  I found Makasson. I was chatting with a half Thai girl I spent six weeks with in Bocas, she informed me that I was going to the wrong airport. I reversed my course of stairs again back to the original station, hopped on and went to Chatuchack, walked up two flights of stairs, down the street, up three more flights of stairs and rode the train to Phetchaburi, got out, found a bus and rode with 75 pounds of shit on my lap.  Tuck and roll time, the driver stopped near the airport and I got out in the street.  That’s as close as he was getting.  Up the hill, enter a door, through a mall, up a flight of stairs, down a hall, down a flight of stairs, outside, up another hill to Terminal one.  Are we having fun yet?

I ran my bags though inspection.  I have five lighters with me that I have carried through airports in Panama City, Houston, San Jose, San Francisco, Taiwan and now Bangkok.  Apparently they are not a problem anymore.  I used to carry matches, which they never detected.  My Kabar flew threw security again, without raising an eyebrow and I had hours to kill before flight time.

A quick lunch of Peking duck served by a tall, thin girly boy with an amazingly deep voice.  In a frigging international airport, for the equivalent of $5.

I boarded my 858 kilometer flight for which I paid $79 and paid no checked luggage charge.  My flight from San Jose to San Francisco was just about the same distance cost almost four times as much and they wanted $25 to check a single bag.

75 minutes later we landed in Phuket.  Let the games begin!  I won’t go into the half hour of haggling with taxi drivers.  Just fucking with them.  My first offer was 800 Baht.  I could have taken a shared van for 100 if I cared to queue for hours to save $25.   I had done my rite of passage for the day.  

Forty minutes in a spacious SUV, driving at highway speed we arrived at my hotel.  A Thai girl came out, bowed and admitted me.  I was instructed to take off my shoes and socks and place them by the front door.  Up to the room, it was fine.   Off to town.

I walked out the front door, down the street, around a corner and onto a major road, eight lanes wide.  There wasn’t shit to see.   Three kilometers of walking and listening to traffic and inhaling exhaust?  No thanks.  A crazy bus drove by, a home built contraption I couldn’t describe.  I had no idea where the bus stop was.  Not a taxi in sight.  Finally a guy in a scooter stopped and offered me a ride for 100 baht and handed me a size 6 helmet for my size 7 7/8  head. We soon came upon an accident involving at least two cars and three scooters and a minimum of one fatality.  The driver laughed and proceeded to drive in a manner described in the section “Never take a scooter ride.” in then travel web sites.

I asked him to take me to a Thai restaurant in particular. I gave him the address.  He had no idea where that was.  Maybe if I had the address as
18 ถนนถลาง, ภูเก็ต, จังหวัดภูเก็ต 83000, ไทย instead of 
18 Thalang Road, Phuket Town, Phuket 83000, Thailand  he would have found the place.  He called the number listed.  It was no good, he handed me his phone, the message was in English.  “The number you have dialed is not a working number.” Strange.

He took me to a KFC. I emphasized I wanted a Thai Restaurant.  He took me to a McDonald’s.  I got off, paid him and walked for a bit, quickly found a place that suited my purposes, ate, drank iced coffee, which I love and is available everywhere and walked around without purpose.

Well, this is getting kind of long, I’ll cut it short.  I booked something for tomorrow and after being pursued by a taxi driver for an hour took a ride back to my hotel. He really didn’t know where it was and wanted to drop me off five blocks away.  I never would have found the damn place, had I not geo coded the location on my phone.