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By this Author: 1985 trip

leave home in Norwich


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14th December 1984

1_leaving_Norwich.jpg
set off from Norwich railway station with small backpack and large hopes. Can you see the small back pack? weighs about 10kg.

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leave UK for Thailand via Moscow

set off with £1000 for one year

sunny 32 °C

Wednesday 19th December 1984
Emerald buddha palace

Emerald buddha palace

Arrive Bangkok about 4 in the afternoon. Temperature 32 °C. 22 hour journey includes one hour on tarmac at Heathrow, 5 hours transit at Moscow and one hour transit in Delhi. Moscow customs, dressed up 18 yr olds in locked security cabins, spent nearly two hours inspecting the transit passengers passports one by one. We all had to queue up a staircase. Fortunately I was near the front. He asked me if the photograph in my passport was me. I told him very sternly that it was.
I have £1,200 worth of air tickets, £1000 sterling travellers cheques, 3000 Baht in cash plus a few Indonesian rupiahs and Hong Kong dollars. Exchange rate better in Bangkok (28.5 in London, 31.9 in Bangkok).
Bus 59 to Banglaupoo district @ 4½B and check in to Top Guest House, Khao San Road for 60B a night with communal ablutions, very clean large guest house. Early night.

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searching for Tom

and Buddha

Thursday 20th December, 1984.
Golden buddha Bangkok

Golden buddha Bangkok


Breakfast at Hello restaurant. No Tom. Suspect too spaced out in Koh Samui to bother coming up. Spend morning on buses going to Surawong Road and Air Burma. Bargain for flight (yes really!) and provisionally book for Jan 10th and 17th, Bangkok Rangoon Bangkok, for 4,300B. Have to confirm booking later but get receipt for deposit which will do for visa. Burmese Embassy in nearby Sunin Road but shut at 12. Get lost in Chinatown. Amazing little shops around the streets spilling out onto the pavement. Buy ½ kilo oranges (Sum) for 4B. Will probably go to Chang Mei without Tom. But no flights to Burma from Chang Mei. German tourist shot dead, and wife blinded, in hills north of Cheng Mei today. ~Visit Golden buddha near railway station.

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move on to Koh Samui

change of plan and go to Koh Samui instead of Chang Mei

sunny 27 °C
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Friday 21st December, 1984.

Visit Burmese Embassy. Visa takes 24 hours (i.e., Monday) and 100B. Pleasantly tatty colonial building in own grounds. Will leave passport at embassy until January. No Tom at breakfast - disappointed. Check out notice board and mailbox at the Nitheharoen Sohe hotel Khao San Road, surprised to find letter from Tom! Amongst letters dated 1980 and year old telegrams. Tom’s too relaxed on Koh Samui and can’t face the 1400 km haul to Chang Mei, also has visa problems.
Lunch time, is it too late to check out Mrs Top Guest House? Yes solly. One hour later I’m packed and on the streets. Someone turned up wanting the room.
Spend hellish 2 hours padding hot pavements, Bus 94, I can reliably report is extinct. Have lost bus map. Eventually get to Huallapong Rail station. Helpful info desk, purchase 3rd class ticket to Sunit Thani, bus to Ban Dom wharf and ferry to Koh Samui all in 177B.
Train leaves 6.25pm arrives Sunit Thani 7.50am. My seat is reserved, plastic padded with room for two, but just too narrow and too short to sleep comfortably on. Have fried rice with vegetables in kitchen car, followed by 20mg Temazepam. Sleep for 3 hours whilst the aisle is paraded by vendors selling dried squid, soft drinks, hard drinks, sticky sweetmeats in plastic bags, and armed guards. These guys warn you against accepting drinks from strangers - they may be drugged, and move on a Swiss guy hassling us for his bungalows on Koh Samui. Read book in the night.
Woken up by cockerel crowing in seat behind me.
Arrive Sunit Thani in rain, brolly causes mirth. Bus laid on for the journey (jarang).
Three hour ferry ride. Sea rough. English rock music over the tannoy. Start journey with Boy George, three hours later we’ve journeyed through a couple of decades and turned the clock back to the psychedelic sixties and Lucy in the Sky, Yellow Submarine, etc.
Meet Kevin (Scottish) and John (Aus) and am regaled by their drinking stories and exploits down Pat Pong Road. I think Koh Samui will be a little bit quiet for them. Proceed to Lamai Beach and check in to first shack that’s free as every where is very full. Paradise bungalows. Double room 40B. I occupy it. Wander up and down a bit. Huge beach with extraordinary phallic rock formation at one end.
Daddy Rock

Daddy Rock


Island covered in coconut palms and beach fronted by collections of coconut thatched wooden sheds and bars. Some very attractive and imaginatively constructed. Monsoon winds blow and the waves are huge.
Sunset among the coconut palms

Sunset among the coconut palms

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find Tom

check in to Weekender bungalows Koh Samui, anyone remember them?

Saturday 22nd December, 1984.

beach hut Ko Samui

beach hut Ko Samui


Do washing and general household duties. Read and walk. No sign of Weekender bungalows or Tom. Find both late afternoon, up far end of beach. Very nice set up, all full, great community spirit amongst the guests, big fat Moma rules the kitchen. Meet Tom and the Great Danes - Mikhail, Betle, Henrique, and Eva - who are rehearsing for the cabaret on Christmas Eve.
Long walk back at midnight along the beach, pitch black except for occasional flash of lightening, the twinkle of phosphorescence in the sea and the glow of a cigarette coming the other way. Tom

Tom

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mushroom omelette surprise

leads to a new experience

Sunday 23rd December 1984

Meet Tom at Weekender for lunch and have ‘special’ omelette, 40B, and receive a hefty dose of psylocybins. Felt very flushed after 40 minutes, and spent the rest of the day in a wow-eee blur of perceptual distortions. The minutiae of my surroundings became fascinating; a girls skin covered in visible capillaries, green sky, blue palms. Very difficult to talk sense. Spend hours watching the waves come in! Wow - look at that one. Half the camp are spacey, a crazy game of volleyball is played, and a palm tree is painted with a fluorescent Santa.
My beach hut Weekender Chalets

My beach hut Weekender Chalets

Plans are made to buy Moma and the girls presents for Christmas. Tom and I cannot think of anything suitable from the Christmas concerts - besides Tom can’t sing. Watch Pink Floyd The Wall in the evening. Play backgammon for banana pancakes. Lose sixteen pancakes. The air is sour with marijuana, which seems to be part of the hospitality, crash out in Tom's pad somewhat out of my mind.

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CHRISTMAS EVE 1984

its party time

Monday 24th Christmas Eve.
The Great Danes

The Great Danes


I hope someone voted for the chicken last night. Everyone seemed to want duck for Xmas eve dinner party. Poor chicken. Angus the Scotsman has done beautiful poster for the party.
Awake entirely sober and walk back to Paradise. Fall asleep for another three hours. Buy six candles for 2B in afternoon.
Moma and the girls have cooked chicken and duck (spicy) with Thai salad and sauce, punch and fruit for 75 - 100 people. The Great Danes put on a talented cabaret with mouth organ, mini ukulele, six green bottles and much help from enthusiastic audience. Beautifully costumed, but inaccurate and lengthy (yawn) Thai classical dancing follows. The Great Danes finish their act bare bummed, it reads “Happy Xmas 19 84” from cheek to cheek.
The local dogs are friendly and healthy if a little mad. At midnight fireworks let off on the beach, everyone is so stoned, they all wow-ed and ooh-ed with rapturous enthusiasm. One dog became quite fascinated by the whirling ones and snaps at them, chasing them down the beach until they are dead. The Orchestra, Mikhael on Bottles

The Orchestra, Mikhael on Bottles

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Christmas in Koh Samui 1984

celebrated with coconuts and Mekong whiskey

sunny 29 °C

Christmas day
View from our hut

View from our hut


Got up late after last nights party and wandered around in my lungi. Found a mirror and watched myself shave for the first time in a week. I’ve been away a week now - it seems like months. England seems so far away. It is.
Dean (Canada) gets a parcel full of toiletries. Emery (USA) shows his home video of Koh Samui, find half an hour of body surfing boring. Drink the evening away discussing the meaning of life, my mind is unusually expansive and authoritative, fuelled by coconut shakes liberally dosed with Mekong whiskey. This is the only palatable way to drink Mekong, and closely resembles pina colada. Call it samada.
Bombed out on the beach

Bombed out on the beach

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check into Weekender chalets

big Moma's friendly beach side cabins

Boxing Day
Weekender Chalets in 1984

Weekender Chalets in 1984


look at Weekender now
Check out of paradise cabins after four nights at 40B, bill with food comes to 276B. Check into Weekender sharing wood cabin number one next to beach with picturesque wreck of fishing smack moored high and dry to a coconut palm outside the window.
Weekender chalets form an avenue of two rows of verandered huts marching back off the beach to Moma’s Joint. About fifteen huts in each row. The huts are four coconut palms apart. It is very attractive. Saw up two planks to make a small escritoire across one corner of the cabin.
Lamai beach scene

Lamai beach scene


Three person cabin, Tom Mikael Will, for 80B. One double and one single on the veranda. Have rota for the windy bed on the veranda. Looks quite royal and palatial with the mosquito nets draped in the air (four strings attached) over the beds.

Our compound looked like a Japanese prisoner of war camp this afternoon. A tall east European with a crew cut has come off his motorbike - like so many others. The local clinic have liberally painted his scrapes with bright red Mercurochrome and added a good collection of dry dressings. With him limping around I half expect to see Alec Guinness staring madly at me in the khazi. (visited Kwai bridge on the last trip and it’s nothing like the film). Play backgammon. Lose. Sleep in windy bed. Luckily no rain tonight.
Party on the beach

Party on the beach

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aaargh, more omelettes

and fall asleep exhausted

sunny

Thursday 27th December 1984
Early morning swim

Early morning swim


Up late, swim, shave, bowels perform well, shower, luncheon at Magic Restaurant on special omelette 35B. Rather gritty. Further up the beach you pay 40B, no grit. Spend a manic and imaginative afternoon of extraordinary fascination. Have a marked ability to perceive patterns. One volley ball team looks distinctly green. Spend a lot of time giggling in the khazi as my wee is fluorescent green and the urinal bright pink. I think in retrospect this was reflected from my T-shirt. Growl and gargle under the shower. The shower head seems rather threatening. Later stand defiant in the sea picking fights with the waves. Sleep well from 9pm to 10am

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Eating cake

hungry work all this fooling around

Friday 28th December 1984
Sea is a lot calmer today, waves knee to waist high instead of bigger than me. Plan to hire a jeep tomorrow for 500B. Photograph Moma in her kitchen holding the latest batch of baking. This they do in a conventional (but old) gas oven. Her coconut flan is delicious. It is difficult to get good baking in the far east as ovens are unusual. Moma baking cake - Yum Yum

Moma baking cake - Yum Yum

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visit waterfall

with Mikhail

Saturday 29th December 1984
Go to town with Mikail and hire a jeep from German restauranteur for 500B the day. Most cars are uninsured, to hit some one is a criminal offence. Mikhail drives, he’s a bus driver back home. Jeep makes alarming grinding noise with 10 in, so 2 get out. Swim at waterfall with a snake. Koh Samui waterfall and Mikhael

Koh Samui waterfall and Mikhael


Picnic on sardines bread and fruit. Drive off the beaten track in the afternoon. Find a rock grinding establishment - the lorry drivers blithely wave us on and we end up at the top of the rock grinding conveyor. About turn. Also discover small isolated fishing village in an isolated palm fringed bay and white talcum powder sands. Koh_Samui_6.jpg

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go for a walk on Lamai beach

with Tom and Mikhail

sunny

Sunday 30 December 1984
Take a long walk up to the north end of Lamai beach in the afternoon with T & M. All seems so tranquil. Coral reef up this end. Have to wade up to our navels across a creeks estuary. The creeks final meander shelters a dozen red and blue fishing smacks. V beautiful spot. ‘Comfort’ bungalows at the far end seem the ultimate spot for peace and quiet.

Fishing Village

Fishing Village

Brian (Canada) has blue and white porcelain pipe with silver plate filigree mouth piece. Get very stoned trying to keep it alight in the evening.

Betle

Betle

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New Years's eve 1984

beach party

sunny

New Years Eve
Koh_Samui_30.jpg
Shop in the town in the morning feeling very dopey. Buy spuds, sweet potatoes, sweet corn bread, tin of chicken, fruit, mushroom stew, beer and Mekong for tonight’s barbeque. Afternoon collecting firewood for the beach bonfire. Make use of Panu’s garbage trolley. Seefuu helps me demolish Mama’s pile of old construction wood. Light fire with diesel and throw in silver foil wrapped spuds. Mama boils 20 cobs in a large cauldron. Drink Mekong and coke, and Mekong in a coconut. Sing songs around the fire, Stephano plays his mouth organ. Big crowd all very jolly. Spuds cooked to death. Corn v good. Enjoy half the loaf with the tinned chicken heated in the fire. The chicken seems to be mostly neck.
That's why they were called The Great Danes

That's why they were called The Great Danes

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big party

with hand launched fireworks

sunny 30 °C

January 1st 1985
Traditional dancing

Traditional dancing


By midnight I’m hog whimpering drunk, people mistakenly think I’m fit to light the fireworks. Discover that the little chinese rockets are best fired by hand. Crawl up the beach with John and strafe our neighbours cruise missile style, with rockets skimming up the beach at 3ft altitude. Fire one back at our own crowd. Giggle helplessly as it wiggles through the group. Fortunately no-one was hit.
Beach party 1985

Beach party 1985


Shortly after this I vomit a few times and lie down on the beach comatose. Wake up by the fire at 6am just in time to watch the sunrise. Still rather ataxic but stoke up the fire wish Dean and Yvonne good day as they move back from the beach to Dean’s chalet.
Discover our bungalow is locked. Meet Danish girl who says her friend took Mikail back as no-one could find our key! Bungalow shows signs of damage but looks secure. Stephano and John (the elder) order breakfast at 6.30 and continue drinking and smoking. My stomach cannot take more than two mouthfuls of scrambled egg. Get spare key, shower and shave and then discover Tom under the netting. He had climbed in through the loo.
I’ve lost: one flip-flop, key, pocket torch, Swiss Army knife, and some recent memory. My right thumbnail is burnt like pork crackling. Tom has numerous cuts and bruises. Do very little for the rest of the day.
Combing beach for lost items New Years day 1985

Combing beach for lost items New Years day 1985

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