A Travellerspoint blog

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Tom and Mikhail leave

and I face up to a year travelling on my own

sunny

Wednesday 2nd January 1985

Feel more human this morning. Amuse team with my incompetence at volleyball. Checkout of chalet as Tom and Mikhail leave this evening. Check into small one man A-frame next to kitchen @ 20B. My bill for sharing Number One is 732B. [Room 190, food 70 a day, jeep hire, bus rides to market].
Become alarmed when I hear some people have had 2 weeks stamped over their one month visa. Can’t check as mine is in Bangkok, two weeks is about today.
Walk down to ‘Wonderful Rock’ which is a coy Asian name for 15ft penis shaped rock, and find a large crowd taking mushrooms. Take some good pieces and frighten myself climbing around the large boulders, despite my mountaineering skill I fail to find Wonderful’s opposite number, which is near the waterline and always full of crabs.
Wonderful Rock

Wonderful Rock


Plan to ride into town with Tom and Mikhail, but there would be no taxi back, say goodbye in a hurry and am left feeling very despondent and too suddenly alone. Go and watch the waves.
Koh_Samui_7.jpg

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washed up

after party

Thursday 3rd January
Feel better this morning. Spend entire morning doing washing. Feels like time I moved on. As I have no passport have had to cash £50 of scarce cash into Baht. Skin on burnt thumb cracks after swim and is sore. Raked beach with large rake y’day but found nothing. However someone has found key and torch, but no penknife or flip-flops. Beginning to feel more mentally alert, no dope for 2 days now.
Lamai Beach in 1985

Lamai Beach in 1985

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planning trip to Burma

the party is over

sunny 30 °C

Friday 4th January
Into town with Dean. Not possible to book train ride from Surat Thani - Hua Hin. Dean books extra flight to Burma for Yvonne on 10th, the telex to confirm the booking costs 140B. Buy brown cheap Thai style plastic sandals 28B and pipe like Brian’s 70B. ( I still have this - ed2012)
Feel quite lively and take healthy interest in all that’s on display down on the beach. Largely new crowd in today. Moma went into town to meet the ferry and is in a very good mood.DSC0000515.jpg
SeeFoo keeps calling my name in a mournful voice! Plan to leave tomorrow morning and write up diary.

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bye bye Ko Samui, its been a blast, off to Hua Hin

by ferry and train

sunny 28 °C
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Saturday 5th January 1985

Up in a panic at 9am. Truck for town leaves at 10, shit shower shave in double quick time. Pack rucksack and order breakfast. SeeFoo brings coffee over to shack. Pay remainder of bill, 3 nights @ 20B a night + food and truck rides = 312B. Say fond farewells. Leave Brian my address. Arrange to see Dean and Yvonne with John and Linda (Aus) later in Bangkok.
Surat Thani station (actually 15km out of town and called Phun Phin) by 3.30pm. Hua Hin Railway station

Hua Hin Railway station


No tickets available until ½hr before departure. I want the 8pm train which gets to Hua Hin 4.30am. See John and Linda off. Lunch and supper in different restaurants, catch train, 3rd class, 90B. Crowded, someone eventually lets me into a seat, but no room to stretch. Catnap for next 8 hours whilst sitting upright, not even an armrest. Eat ½kg oranges, green skins but ripe.
Arrive Hua Hin in the cool of the early morning, cool enough for a woolly. Delightful ornate station with well kept platform gardens. The rocks have been painted fluorescent pink, which reminds me that this is a Thai holiday resort, bit like Brighton. The King’s waiting room is separate and pagoda like, fenced off in a sea of pebbles. Rama VII built a summer palace here.
Watch dawn from the beach. A dark cloud of mozzies watches with me, but keep their distance, must be all blokes waiting for a fat female to heave off my surface after a blood meal.
No luck at two hotels, one closed on Sunday ( I think?), the other too much at 100B. Hailed off the side walk by elderly Chinese woman, the proprietor of the Mee Chai Hotel, 57/2 Phetkasem rd., 60B. Old wooden hotel behind a shop front. Communal mandi latrines. My room looks out over the market. Sleep until 4pm.
Dine on a plate full of small fresh clams in a phlegm loosening sauce and double portion of rice for 35B. Have a therapeutic ice-cream cone after.

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survive the clams

in Hua Hin


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Monday 7th January 1985

Write postcards and watch them franked at 6.50 a go in the post office. Get directed to telephone office. Polite lady connects me to Air Burma office in Bangkok and I confirm my reservation, 8B.
Explore town, watch the catch brought in by rough looking Thai fishermen in jocular mood at the quay side fish market. Women do all the buying. Lunch on BBQ chicken rice and bananas and milk for about 20B. Dine on squid and broccoli as bowels have survived the clams.
Drying squid

Drying squid

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back to Bangkok

booking tickets at Huallampong

sunny 32 °C
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Tuesday 8th January 1985

Emerald Palace Bangkok

Emerald Palace Bangkok


6am train to Bangkok 27B. Buy ticket to Sungai Kolok on arrival at Huallampong, Bangkok’s huge noisy dirty main station. Check into Top Guest house in dorm, bump into Bernie and Theresa in the street. Bernie is going to Penang and then Sumatra. Meet up with Dean, Yvonne, Nigel and his two friends Brian and Maureen in the night market north of KhaoSan road. Have great meal amidst the filth with two bottles of Mekong whiskey. Buy some coloured embroidery cottons and a shoulder bag 100B.

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Pat Pong

like a zoo


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Wednesday 9th January 1985

Buy two “Lacoste” chemise for 100B and pens and lipsticks for Burma. Change £170 to Baht for air ticket (4,300B) and other expenses.

Have a smoke in Dean and Yvonne’s guesthouse and troop off to PatPong, visit several bars in ebullient mood, girls very professional and they make sure the mood is happy and relaxed. Watch show, they lay eggs, write love letters, pull out yards of silk scarves, also razor blades, and even blow darts, with their fannies. One even smoked a cigarette, down to the butt. Hope she has regular cervical smears. Find the whole business very sad. Get home at 3.30am.

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fly to Rangoon

as it was called then

sunny 32 °C
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Thursday 10th January 1985

Up early for 10.30 flight, check in nearly last, at 9.30am. Start sneezing on plane and arrive in Rangoon one hour later with streaming cold. It is 90° in the shade. Escorted through customs by helpful local in a sarong, he wants my whiskey and cigarettes. Complete money declaration form and smuggle in a cassette player. I am first through as I have no baggage.
Exchange duty free booze in the taxi for 430C with free ride worth 15C. Share taxi with mad middle aged German called Zotte.
Straight to Tourist Burma to book hard seat overnight train to Thazi. Then reconfirm return flight. Spend afternoon sweating and drinking in Rangoon. Buy 10 dispirin. Everyone wants to do ‘business’.

The train leaves Rangoon station with a delightful quaint but perfect english announcement “Good Evening and welcome to the Mandalay Express...” express is relative to the usual trains, we surge through the night at a stately 35mph. My neighbour opts for the floor so I try to fit on the seat horizontally, but its too short.

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by jeep to Inle lake in Burma

Myanmar


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Friday 11th January 1985
Floating village

Floating village


Arrive Thazi 6am Find pickup truck to Taunggi, fare 30C, after about one hour we have enough people and we are off. I have an oily chapati with bean paste for breakfast.. Fall asleep for a lot of the bouncy journey squeezed in and propped up by my neighbours. Lucky I’m last on and sitting on the tailgate, which is cool and comfy on some rice sacks. Beautiful mountain road. Arrive Taunggi after 5 hours.
Get jeep to Inle lake. This large fresh water lake is 1000m above sea level and outrageously picturesque. Check in to only hotel the Inle Inn at 15C a night, share with 50 year old Japanese called Tee.
Mr Compleat performs some excellent Burmese dancing after dinner of pig liver and noodles. Freezing shower and cold night wearing everything.
Inle lake

Inle lake

Inle lake

Inle lake

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Leg rowing fishermen

Inle lake Burma

sunny 26 °C
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Saturday 12th January 1985

Trip around the lake today for 30C with 7 others, takes 5 hours. Get sun burnt and leave my only pair of shoes behind at a floating pagoda. See the leg rowing fisherman and lungi weaving etc. in the floating villages.Inle lake

Inle lake


Jeep to Taunggi in the evening and check into unauthorised hotel with Lamut from Holland and Nobby from Switzerland. Worry about having no shoes.
Burma road trip

Burma road trip

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Pick up truck to Pagan

long journey on a tailgate and a sack of flour

sunny 30 °C
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Sunday 13th January 1985
The Road to Pagan

The Road to Pagan

Breakfast on cake and chinese tea, catch pick up truck after betel nut pick-me-up to Mechela, ride on the tail gate with 3 others and a sack of flour. Lamut gets off at Thazi. No transport to Pagan at Michela, but get one going some of the way for 10Chat. Meet with a tour jeep and initially they are off hand, but some people don’t turn up so we get a lift for 10C a piece. Get covered in dust. Crazy journey, takes until late at night to reach Pagan.

burma6.jpg

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in Pagan 1985

exploring the abandoned temples by bicycle

sunny 29 °C
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Monday 14th January

Pagan temples

Pagan temples

The Burmese are great fun, always greet you with a smile and a wave, even strangers in the street. They smear sandal wood paste on their cheeks and the men wear lungis rather than trousers. The pattern, like a tartan, reveals family origins.

Snout around some of the several thousand temples that dot this landscape. One still active temple resplendent in its golden coat, has a little peekaboo puddle of water in a certain spot, get down on your knees and peer at the surface, lo and behold the shimmering Schwezegon. Get around on bicycles. Enjoy exploring the ruins and finding the little staircases that lead to the top, usually these are within the larger walls.The mighty Irrawaddy at Pagan

The mighty Irrawaddy at Pagan

Heard a couple of horror stories the other day. One girls air-con Chang Mai bus was shot at. Two passengers were wounded, but the driver sped on so at least they weren’t robbed. Nigel from the UK was on a bus to Surat Thani, a couple of Thais fill up the bus next to him, they are eating biscuits, Custard Creams, and offer him one. He doesn’t remember much else, until he got back to Weekender bungalow, via the police, he was robbed of his camera.
pagan1.jpg

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barter for a lacquer table

near Pagan


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Tuesday 15th January 1985
Lacquer craft village near Pagan

Lacquer craft village near Pagan

Set off for small village south of Pagan. Delightful, dust, pigs, bamboo, buffalo, kids, paper kites, women at wells. Spend too long sussing out the laquerware, this is where a lot of it is made. Eventually buy a hexagonal folding table for 2 fake Lacoste shirts. 1 packet cigarettes, 2 lipstick and my small plastic shoulder bag. Only just get back to Pagan in time to throw everything into my rucksack and jump on the jeep to Thazi.
Have a jovial ride with Nobby some Germans and Burmese.
lacquer village

lacquer village


At Thazi railway station meet the owner of Chinese restaurant we ate at in Taunggi, on his way to Rangoon but on the slow train. He takes a crowd of us to a place he knows, but I am already ensconced in the railway cafe, have a large plate of sweet and sour pork. Dark skinned, cachectic, shoe polish black dyed hair, Burmese Railway engineer sits down for a chat. He knows more about UK and foreign affairs than I do and has an excellent command of English. He fears my praise for his happy country are just platitudes, (and of course I am truly ignorant of these things).

We all spread out along the platform in the hope of getting a seat each. Most of us find one. I opt to go under the seat and spread my foam mat out. Two hours later I am honking my guts up over a hole in a cupboard floor, the train toilet. Take two temazepam and although queasy manage to sleep erratically for the rest of the journey, also remain continent, just. Feel awful, damn that sweet and sour pork.

The table in 2012

The table in 2012

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ill in Rangoon

stay in YMCA


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Wednesday 16th January 1985

Struggle through Rangoon to the YMCA feeling very feeble, collapse into bed on the top floor with the ceiling fan lurching around above me. Nobby and Tee catch the afternoon flight so we exchange addresses.
Lunch stop

Lunch stop

Get up during the day for shit shower shave, drink a few lime juices and eat some fresh yoghurt. Feel useless and nauseated all day. In the evening make an attempt to sell Walkman for dollars, but I must look like death as everyone keeps away. One of the Germans exchanges his for a large traditional puppet. A Dutch guy moves into my room and tells some horrible tale about an air ticket disaster and being arrested in the Punjab for being there. Sell my Burma guide for 10HK$, what a bargain!
Sorry to miss exploring Rangoon.

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ducking and diving at Rangoon airport

fly back to Bangkok

sunny 32 °C
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Thursday 17th January

Schwedagon stupa Rangoon

Schwedagon stupa Rangoon

Up at 5.30am to catch the free bus that traverses Rangoon and eventually ends up at the airport. Some creep carries my rucksack 10yds and wants some Chat. I give him an earful of chat he didn’t want. Spend last few chat instead on breakfast and tea. Pass through check in, immigration, customs & currency control without any hassle. I just had to show the camera I declared on entry. My official currency form, which had to be marked every time I changed money, was remarkable for its lack of entries. Smuggle the walkman out of the country having smuggled it in. Check-in refused to let me take my little rucksack as hand luggage, but this was not a big issue has I helped myself to it moments later at customs. The whole departure lounge is basically one large room and you proceed from desk to desk. Getting my luggage back saved a lot of time at Bangkok which was heaving with two recently arrived jumbos.

Meet two drunk Iranians in the airport and share a few pistachios and jokes about crazy Khomeni.

Stop off at Huallampong rail station by stunning use of bus map and buy ticket to Sungai Kolok for Sunday. Second class seat 390B. Guess there must be a cheaper way but these ‘International Express’ trains don’t do 3rd class. Still not hungry but drink plenty and enjoy an ice-cream. Bangkok’s dairy is a Danish concern and very reliable, pasteurised milk is readily available everywhere.

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