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Updated...20 Feb 2001|
Map of Myanmar (Burma)
Pagodas in Bagan
Road to Mandalay
Shwe Dagon Pagoda, Rangoon

US State Dept: Myanmar

US State Dept: Laos

India/Bangkok Travel Diary: 24 Nov 2000 to 31 Dec 2000

Myanmar Diary (pre-1988 place names are in parenthesis):

Accomplices in Myanmar: Wylie Stechlow, NYC lawyer and old travel buddy; Justin Turner, London barrister/veterinarian/biochemist friend

1 Jan 2001 Fly to Yangon (Rangoon) we have gigantic New Year's buffet at hotel, take Thai Airways to Yangon, get picked up at chaotic bureaucratic (visa, passport, plane ticket, customs declaration, official currency exchange certificate; each checked 6 times) Yangon airport and taken to Cozy Guest House ($15 for clean aircon double cell with shared bath down the hall), Burmese men all wear skirts (longyis), horrible Chinese restaurant on riverboat (foreshadow of the bad food we were to experience all trip), go to disco and enjoy modern Burmese rock music (not really).

2 Jan 2001 Yangon to Bagan (Pagan) have breakfast of toast, go to the magnificent Shwedegon Pagoda the most sacred Buddhist temple in Myanmar: a 100m high stupa covered in 8000 gold plates, encrusted with 5000 diamonds and 2000 other stones, it sits in a compound of 80 ancillary buildings connected by secret underground passageways, full of monks, kitchy clocks and buddhas, run into waiter from the club praying; go to travel agent and get plane ticket to Bagan ($88), have really good duck curry (sort of a duck confit) lunch at local Burmese restaurant (bill for 3 was $2) then take 30 min taxi ($2) to airport, 5 people on hour long Air Mandalay flight to Nyuang U.
Arrive in Bagan -- dusty Indiana Jonesesque locale with over 2000 thousand-year-old temples, pagodas, and monuments sprinkled in 14km radius. find great hotel Old Bagan Thande ($60 double) share teak bungalow with Wylie facing the Ayeyrwady River, take horse drawn carriage to sunset point on top of Mingalazedi temple (built in 1277) amazing orange/gold hued view of the hundreds of pagodas lying in the east...arrange to meet the horsecart driver the next day for sunrise, go into "town" for horrible disgusting but inexpensive fried shrimpparts and chickenparts dinner.

3 Jan 2001 Bagan wake up 4:45 am for sunrise, meet driver and head to Shwesandaw Paya temple at 5:30, we climb 5 steep terraces and wait in cold and dark for actual sunnrise at 6:30, great as sun ascends and exposes hundreds of sleeping temples, see 20m reclining buddha in shed next door, go back for riverside breakfast, see painted temples of Myinkaba area on our horsecart in afternoon, sunset again at Minglazedi, have mediocre dinner at hotel

4 Jan 2001 Bagan start at 8 for morning survey of temples, get tik to Heho, go to market, organize boat tour, run through superb Ananda Pahto temple (1105) with its 4 enormous (9.5m) gilded teak standing buddhas facing out from the center,get horsecart to boat launch, take 40 min boat ride north to visit cool temple with underground tunnels and an abandoned cobwebbed monastery, have dinner at hotel and watch elaborate marionette show, go to Ananda Festival at night see Burmese rock concert and variety show in tent filled with buddhist monks, get photos in extremely silly costumes taken, cool moonlit 20 min walk back to hotel past ancient monuments

5 Jan 2001 On to Inle catch 8:10 Air Mandalay flight to Heho that left 30 min early, meet Australian Kate and Swiss Manuela on plane, take 1hr taxi ($15) to Nyuangshwe and make booking for a triple bungalow at the Golden Island Cottages in Pa-O held territory, take 1hr speedboat taxi ($8) across lake to arrive, have horrid lunch at the fairly isolated Cottages, our bungalow is made of bamboo and teak and is built on stilts above the lake, Justin and I rent a dugout canoe and paddle into a town built on the water, play volleyball on small land patch with teens for an hour (ball goes into the lake almost every point requiring tricky canoe recoveries), Justin starts to feel ill. Staff at hotel perform local folkloric show incl. the marionette dance and the fishing and welcome/thank you song.

6 Jan 2001 Inle Lake hire boat for a day tour with Kate and Manuela, go to local markets an hour south on lake, see many black clad red turbaned Pa-O people, have tea and "coffee mix" at local shop; see silvermaking, silkweaving; have lunch in little town, food is much better than the hotel, great guacamole, meet French and Spanish people, Justin stays in bed sick.

7 Jan 2001 Inle Lake Wylie leaves 6am to go back to NYC, Justin feels a little better and we get 9am fishing lesson from 2 local Intha fisherman, we each sit in back of a 4 m meter dugout canoe while the fisherman stands on the back of the boat and rows with one leg wrapped around the oar as he holds his conical bamboo net and looks for fish. when he sees a promising area he would push the net in the water through the weeds to the bottom (lake is very shallow) and jab the his three pronged spear all around it to force the fish into the netting part. it was an extremely inefficient way to catch fish. After 3 hours we caught a grand total of 3 little fish.
In the afternoon, Justin and I are invited to visit the family house of the receptionist at the hotel. we take a canoe and paddle 30 min to her village on the water, we negotiate the canoe into a bamboo fenced in parking area, house made of teak, walk up steps to the landing where we deposit our shoes and walk up more stairs to the main living room of the house where we sit and are offered: chinese tea, bananas and tangerines, delicious buns with pink and green filling, and coffee mix. I eat everything, the father was a schoolteacher, the sister was a cheroot (cigar) maker, her adorable seven year old niece modeled for us, 2 pigs in a pen cage on stilts behind the house, mom was on the floor separating rice, very hospitable people
dinner at hotel meet Betty and Bill from NYC, Bill is fiction writer, watch folkloric show again, talk with Spanish Pilar and Teresa about Myanmar and Sud America

8 Jan 2001 On to Mandalay Justin's alleged illness worsens so we take taxi boat at 7am to catch earlier flight to Mandalay, beautiful but cold hour boat ride-- mist off water, few fisherman silhouetted and hllls as sun comes up; arrive at ticketing office, the earliest flight not until 1645, we need to wait 8 hours in Nuang Shwe; sit in pancake restaurant for 3 hours then to pharmacy for antibiotics and a thermometer for Justin who has fever of 103F and starts to really worry, going through the Lonely Planet guide to Medical Ailments we narrow Justin's illness down to Typhoid or Malaria, with Typhoid the more likely culprit, get to airport in Heho very early meet loud boorish Australian fred flinstone in departure lounge, who terrorises Justin with disease stories and insists that eating bananas and drinking green tea with sugar will cure Justin in a few weeks.
20 min flight on Yangon Airways and an hourlong 45km cab ride ($8) into Mandalay. Look at some cheap hotels, but they are pretty grimy and Justin is sort of delirious, so we stay at the fantastic 5 star Sedona Hotel Mandalay. We look for hospitals and make evacuation plans for Justin as his fever breaks 104. I get hungry and eat an amazing meal at the Italian restaurant in the hotel (I was the only customer so the Austrian chef came out to talk to me about what I like to eat and then made me chicken saltimbocca on a mushroom risotto with marinated vegetables), I check on Justin, who feels better after cold bath and antibiotics, agrees to go eat in the restaurant.
I decide to do a recon of Mandalay, the cultural capital of Myanmar. I go outside and am approached by an earnest trishaw driver and agree to a 2 hr city tour for $1.50. The trishaw is the cheapest and the most uncomfortable and slowest form of transport in Myanmar; it is a one gear bicycle with a side car welded on, the seat is uncomfortable without back support and you are exposed to cold at night and thick pollution in traffic during the day. Kyaw Kyaw (prounounced Jo Jo) was very enthusiastic and taught me Burmese as we proceeded very slowly through the streets past temples, the wealthy Chinese and Army neighborhoods, and the crowded evening beer and bbq street.

9 Jan 2001 Mandalay meet Kyaw Kyaw outside hotel for a morning 2 hour tour, see pagodas, and the huge covered market of longyis. Justin arranges tour guide from hotel for the afternoon, super weirdo guy, go to mandalay palace, get rid of him, go up to mandalay hill great view go out meet jojo father very ill can't come, new driver drive at night cold 30 min to awful chinese food, karaoke upstairs go to fair and gambling with animal dice

10 Jan 2001 Mandalay Justin is officially cured and feverless. have morning tour with guide, take taxi to boat dock, end up renting huge obscene boat for the 3 of us, takes an hour to Mingun, excellent 170 ft pagoda, smoke humongous cheroot (burmese cigar), go back on boat, get stuck in shallow water and have to push to boat out of the muck, go out to another karaoke bar pretty miserable.

11 Jan 2001 Mandalay New guide for trip to 'lost cities' of Amarpura, Inwa and Sagiang, meet Kyaw Kyaw in afternoon, his father passed away in the morning, figure out currency arb, take taxi to trishaw manufacturer, find used trishaw at chinese market, cause quite a circle of onlookers as we negotiate, drive back trishaw to hotel for Kyaw Kyaw, excellent dinner buffet, go to another bad bar in Mandalay

12 Jan 2001 On to Yangon see Kyaw Kyaw in lobby and go to his friend's taxi, his mother and sister are waiting to meet us, ride to airport and get flight Air Mandalay 808 to Yangon arrive at hotel and regrettably order horribly painful Burmese Massage, extremely larged framed girl comes to the room and pinches, elbows and sits on me for 60 min, go to 50th Street Bar for excellent BBQ pizza and beef enchiladas, exciting disco at the Asia Plaza hotel.

13 Jan 2001 Yangon to Bangkok get Coffee Mix and Opium Cakes at tea shop around corner from hotel, find Sephardic synagogue near Chinese market-- meet Moses the caretaker, 8 Jewish families remain, go to the old colonial hotel Strand for lunch, visit zoo and see huge pits full of snakes, get to Yangon International Airport for Thai Air flight to Bangkok, arr Bangkok and check in to super nice Dusit Thani Hotel .

14 Jan 2001 Bangkok last minute shopping with Justin, pool at hotel, got my haircut , Justin goes back to London

15 Jan 2001 Bangkok final fitting at Rajah's for suits, assured by Rajah that everything looks wonderful; spend time getting plane ticket to Vientiene ($105 r/t) on Khao San road, get hourlong foot Reflexology massage, watch video at guest house cafe, bookstore

16 Jan 2001 On to Laos see Jim Thompson's Teak House-- he was an American who built a Thai silk manufacturing empire during the 1950's and 60's and constructed a 17th Century Thai style estate and filled the seven houses with antiques and treasures from throughout Southeast Asia; have another phenomenal gluttonous Thai meal, cab to catch 1840 Lao Aviation flight to Vientiene, meet strange Finnish girl on plane, look for room in Vientiene, find decent one for $18, go get chicken laap and sticky rice along Mekong River-- laap is the national dish of Laos and is finely diced chicken stir fried with dill and chilies, it could be good, but this chef wasn't very discerning with the bits of chicken he used and it was pretty gross identifying minced intestines, feet, and other parts

17 Jan 2001 Vientiene do the touristy bits of the capital-- see the Pha That Luang , which is the Lao national symbol, it looks like a big golden thumb; meet Swedish girls, Malin and Marie, see more pagodas, national library, not much there. find good pizza restaurant

18 Jan 2001 On to Vang Vieng go to bus station for 1030 bus up to Vang Vieng (160 km N of Vientiene 6000kip or 73 cents) stand for 3 hours, meet English girls, Donna and Laura; Aussies, Amanda, Sam and Rob, and Swedish Robert. We all stay at Les Jardins de Vang Vieng and get great clean bungalow for 40000kip ($4.86), go see Tham Chang caves with huge hairy spiders; see beautiful sunset over river and mountains at the 'Sunset Bar', have dinner in town at restaurant with the worst, most random and inaccurate service ever.

19 Jan 2001 Vang Vieng rent inner tubes for float of 4 hrs. down river with big group, find huge cave along the way with treacherous crevasses and get lost deep in it with dwindling candles and flashlight batteries, go for sunset restaurant pizza deal and pumpkin soup, visit local opium den, go for coffee and to a bar, stay up playing stupid card games with Donna, Laura and Aussie Rob while my continuous and repeated suggestions of playing a form of poker went unelected

20 Jan 2001 Vang Vieng rent bicycle on my own and go across the river to super cool cave with a big reclining buddha and a great swimming hole near the bottom, ride around to some other caves in the area and visit Hmong village of Naxom, suavely fall off bike when bug flies into my eye at the precise moment I am passing two Belgian girls-- who reluctantly help me flush it out of my eye
In afternoon, Donna and Laura cause shock and outrage among the hotel staff (who happen to include the local police chief's staid wife) by wearing bikinis near the river and towels to and from the shower and are summarily banished from Les Jardins for "inappropriate dress and disrespect to the local community" by the French owner's wife.

21 Jan 2001 Vang Vieng go to organic farm and watch silk worms cooked for silk, walk around town and visit market, see fried bats and worms, little sparrows and rats for sale to eat, pretty yucky; go to pub and sign up for all day kayak trip on the NamXong river

22 Jan 2001 Vang Vieng great kayaking trip, paired with French girl Nancy, assure her of my relatively extensive white water kayaking experience, tubing experience on this very river, and Canoeing and Lifesaving Merit Badges, visit Tham Xang cave which goes through a mountain, have guide with flashlights and proper gear, have a well deserved and very filling fried rice and satay lunch, meet Bob a technical writer from the states who is travelling for two years filling up diaries and taking photos, we continue to paddle along and I proceed to crash the kayak into a tree during a significant rapid, we flip, Nancy smashes into tree, loses her glasses, we lose the boat and have to swim through two more rapids. Except for some scratches we are fine, but after recovering our now empty boat and not finding the glasses a very visually disabled Nancy (the nearest optometrist is in Thailand) doesn't speak, paddles with far less enthusiasm and is forced to miss the exploration of the second super cool water filled cave.

23 Jan 2001 On to Luang Prabang hire truck for 6 hour trip from Vang Vieng to Luang Prabang with Sam ( personal security business in Sydney), Amanda (a Quantas flight attendant), and new Aussies Michael (flutist) and Loretta (saxophinist) drive thru lush scenery, arrive town get sort of grimy hotel room for 4 dollars and check out the UN World Heritage city and old Laotian capital city of Luang Prabang. We eat at a veggie restaurant and I unwisely order the tofu laap. yucko.

24 Jan 2001 Luang Prabang beautiful trip to Kuang Si waterfall 32km s of town, hiking up trails to the pools near the top Michael and I get lost following the advice of some Melbournians and have to slide down 30 feet of irrigation pipe, great pools and water. Go to authentic Lao Sauna, See folkloric show at Villa Santi restaurant at night.

25 Jan 2001 Luang Prabang explore town and more wats, move to Phousi hotel after bedbug scare, take tuktuk around at sunset, dinner ar Indochine resturant with music with Loretta and Michael say goodbye to Sam and Amanda and make plans for a reunion bash in Sydney

26 Jan 2001 On to Bangkok fly to Vientiene then to Bangkok on Lao Aviation. Stay at crummy Royal Hotel near Khao San Road.

27 Jan 2001 On to Phuket Book last minute 5 day live-aboard sailing trip to the Similan Islands in the Andaman Sea off the western coast of southern Thailand with South East Asia Divers Fly to Phuket at 1820 on Thai Air. Meet interesting Susan from Northern Ireland on plane. Stay Neptuna Hotel on Patong Beach

28 Jan 2001 Sailing in Andaman Sea Have desperately needed laundry done and another well deserved Thai massage before being picked up at hotel by Anders from the dive company. Drive to dive HQ on Chalong Bay and meet the other three divers. Dave is a web engineer from San Fran and former drummer of Pond. Emmanuel and Catrina were an experienced diving couple from Switzerland and Germany. The crew consists of: Philip, the 30 year old sociopathic South African divemaster; Tim, the ship's cheerful, enthusiastic and reforming alcoholic captain from Maine; and Noot and Naan, the tiny Thai couple that were the cook and first mate respectively.
We take a dinghy out to the 94 year old 57 foot Seraph in total darkness, we arrive on board and our shoes are confiscated-- not to be seen or used for the next 5 days. We discovered that the descriptions on the website of "luxuriously appointed airconditioned staterooms", was a bit misleading as the miniscule bunk Dave and I shared had no air at all, just a little fan, and it was physically impossible for both of us to be in the room at the same time when our bags were also present. We set off immediately and begin our 10hr trip to the Similan Islands. Although it was very difficult to sleep in the depressing airless berth while moving, I eventually got some rest..

29 Jan 2001 Similan Islands we arrive at The Passage for our checkout dive. i hadn't been diving in 4 years and my divebuddy, Dave, had only been licensed (to the depth of 48ft) the previous week. After a cursory buddy check and jumping in from the moored boat, the Divemaster Philip quickly takes us down to 80 ft and checks out our ability to do basic skills underwater (take off mask, regulator, replace air tanks, buddy breathe, etc.) Dave was a little uncomfortable, as was I, doing this stuff at such depth, when we finished we reminded Philip of our diving limitations.
After a big breakfast, we sailled a couple hours to another island and the dive site called Stonehenge. This was going to feature an advanced entry method where the boat doesn't stop, the 5 of us jump into the water in sequence and immediately descend. This is a bit tricky because you don't want to get run over by the boat, get crushed by another diver or have any problem at all on the surface because the divemaster jumps in first and is on the bottom before the last person has entered the water. We had no problems but there isn't much latitude for error. Again we were diving at a dpth of 80 feet, this time amongst massive granite rock formations and swim throughs. The fishlife and visibility were astounding. We literally saw every fish on the charts; beautiful angelfish, wrasses, big schools of mackerals, barracudas, big napoleon trigger fishes, sea horses, manta rays, and 2 meter long moray eels with huge teeth! A fantastic lunch and we were soon ready for our third dive at Barracuda Point. ere we saw big lionfish, cornetfish and some parrotfish. It was the most amazing diving I'd ever done. That night we all slept on deck under the stars on mats with little sheets

30 Jan 2001 Similan Islands dives at Lighthouse Dropoff, Beacon Beach (we swim with adorable family of sea turtles), and Snapper Alley. In the afternoon we spend at deserted beach on the 3rd Island. Have night dive at Koh Bhang, phosphorescent plankton, Philip gets us lost and it takes the dinghy 30min to find us on the surface. The entire day Philip was complaining about "those stupid French people going off on their own" Dave and I explained "first of all they are not French, they are Swiss German and they follow your instructions exactly and they don't get lost and you do"

31 Jan 2001 Similan Islands dives at Christmas Point, Breakfast Bend (featured huge schools of fish), and Turtle Gulley (more turtles and a 2m wide Spotted Manta Ray)

1 Feb 2001 Similan Islands Dives at Elephant Rock, East of Eden, and Barracuda Point (where Dave forget to put on his weight belt and we saw rare Ornate Ghost pipefish that look like tiny straight pretzels). after big dinner, we head back to Phuket and encounter a big rainstorm, so we can't sleep on deck and the cabins were so cramped and airless. Iended up sleeping on the lounge floor getting up frequently to vomit over the side of the boat.

2 Feb 2001 around Phuket we dive early at Dok Mai, murky conditions and my mask keeps fogging, we return to Phuket Yacht club, Dave and I take taxi to Karon Beach and have dinner in Patong.

3 Feb 2001 Hat Riin Beach, Koh PhaNgan get up early and take 50min Bangkok Airway flight ($40) to Koh Samui (off the east coast in the Gulf of Thailand), get next 45 min ferry ($2) to Koh PhaNgan. Compete with 100 other backpackers from ferry to find a room on this tiny full island in 90F degree (118C) heat with my 20 kilo (equivalent to approx. 178lbs) backpack.Walk around fruitlessly to find bungalow near Sunrise bcach, finally desperate take very grim room without toilet for $4 , drop off bag and go to the spectacular bcach for a couple of hours. Beach is 1km of pristinish white sand in a cove carved out of lush jungle. Bungalows, restaurants and bars are set along the length which is the setting for Koh PhaNgan's infamous Full Moon Parties.
Take cold shower in mosquito infested squat toilet cubicle next to chicken shed. Go into the little town, have an hour great reflexology session ($5), eat some vegetable fried rice and go visit the beach. At night the bars put out candlelit tables, mats on the beach, and ornate colored lanterns creating a magical vista. Go to Drop Inn bar and meet great Norwegian veterinarian students, Anya and Marianne, who study in Budapest, Carin a Buddhism student from Holland, and another interesting Norwegian, Candi. Slightly intoxicated Gareth falls of barstool repeatedly during heated discussion of English football at the Frog Bar.

4 Feb 2001 Koh PhaNgan Wake up 9am and start going around hotels in hope of finding better accommodation. Beg at the Bay Shore Resort and luckily someone checks out and I get a $15 private bungalow near the beach with my own toilet and shower. I am ecstatic to leave the hovel. buy some water supplies and a straw mat and head to the beach.
go back to the Drop Inn Bar and meet Dutch sisters who'd just come from Malaysia; sit out on the beach with two Israeli girls and a Swiss guy talking about philosophy of travelling, kung fu, Israeli politics; meet Jess and Leah, funny 18yr old English girls from Ipswich and have french fry sandwich (chip butty) with them at 5 am.

5 Feb 2001 Koh PhaNgan breakfast than beach, meet 3 Canadian girls on break from One Year Program at Hebrew University -- just sixteen short years ago I'd lived in their same dorm at Resnick. Medzini still teaches Foreign Policy of Israel, they still go down to Dahaab in Sinai, they take tiyulim around Israel-- same stuff we did. I assured them that their year in Israel would be the best of their lives and to make the most of it, because afterwards everything would swiftly go downhill. First, there would be the culture shock of returning to North America and the difficulty in relating to friends and family back home who can't and won't even try to understand or accept the changed person that you have developed into.Too soon comes the drudgery and tedium of work and the misery and pain of likely failed future relationships set against a backdrop of general despair at one's insignificance. They walked away sullenly.
had lunch at beach bar during volleyball tournament meet Ken from Denver(I haven't met many other Americans travelling), nap, go to Drop Inn bar, meet up with English girls, Norwegians, and meet 2 Israeli guys who had just finished serving in an elite computer warfare unit. Trance dancing on the beach goes on til 5am as the island builds toward the Full Moon Party on the 8th.

6 Feb 2001 Koh PhaNgan typical beachwork, reading, socalising

7 Feb 2001 Koh PhaNgan leave the Cactus bar at 11am for the all day Reggae Party Boat Trip ($8). Group of 30 takes off in big longtail boat for trip to waterfall, snorkeling at deserted beaches around the island, lunch, meet Meejka a Dutch travel writer, Blaine an Olympics organiser from Sydney, and Eric a campy small mammal veternarian from San Fran; great trip, have party that night at the Cactus Bar, see English girls at Drop Inn Club

8 Feb 2001 Koh PhaNgan FULL MOON PARTY! island packed, more to come...

9 Feb 2001 Koh PhaNgan wake up meet Rob's German friend Saskia who was staying at a new age healing center on an isolated part of the island. decide to check out The Sanctuary, we take taxi boat to Hat Yai, I'm not impressed with the place and decide to stay a few more days at Hat Riin , Drop Inn late night

10 Feb 2001 Koh PhaNgan Move to the Yoghurt House with Rob and get an immaculate room with a flushable toilet (only 8dollars total/nt). relax on the beach, float on airmattress, meet Manchester girls, Sharon and Eli, at Drop Inn

11 Feb 2001 Koh PhaNgan beach day late start, go for Sunset Fishing trip around island (3pm to 8pm), go snorkelling, fishing and bbq fish on boat, see amazing sunset in water off beachhead, meet alot of Israelis, strange tattooed girl Albee from San Fran, James from Canada and Francesca from Firenze, exhausted. go to sleep early

12 Feb 2001 Koh PhaNgan have great hour thai oil massage, difficult beach day as partially overcast conditions creates sunblock factor crisis (eventually conservatively decide 15 for face, 2 for body), big waves for surfing, goodbye to Meejka, see Manchester girls at Drop Inn

13 Feb 2001 Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui Rob and I take 40 min 11 am ferry to Koh Samui, take taxi to Chaweng (Samui's largest beach) and find OK bungalow on beach for 450baht (11 dollars) with fan and toilet, very muggy out.
Chaweng is a 5km stretch of white powdery sand beach, with bars and restaurantsmany thai massage places, bars, all aong, really nice, go to have great seafood dinner, fresh tuna fried in chili garlic sauce, then have baskins robbins hot fudge sundae , meet 2 Israeli computer warfare soldiers in bar, Anat and Sharon; dance Green Mango massive disco complex til 3:30 then head to The Club late night disco.

14 Feb 2001 Koh Samui beach, have mediocre thai massage, get much better air-conditioned bungalow for 25dollars/nt, go to The Deck, meet Canadian guy Robin who teaches English in Japan and Aussie university students Sarah and Anna, great chicken sandwich, meet the Israeli girls at Green Mango

15 Feb 2001 Koh Samui Rains all day. Find new massage place and masseuse, Poon. Have awesome hour-long foot massage, get additional hour of oil massage on neck shoulders, back and head (total 10 dollars), sublime, group of 5 of us in room all at same level of floating bliss. go to The Deck for drinks with Rob, meet up with Austrlian girls Sarah and Anna, Robin from Canada drops by, meet sisters from Melbourne, Fiona (student) and Sonia (a cartographer for Lonely Planet), dancing in bars near Green Mango, go to The Club late meet other English girls, another great night.

16 Feb 2001 Koh Samui Serious hangover. Go to Israeli girls' pool, see moderately wounded Rob (motorcycle passenger wipeout) on beach; meet German girls, Pam, a Bosnian venture capitalist, and her friend Tanja, law student from Cologne, who are surrounded by a truly bizarre group featuring: an older drunk English raconteur who delighted in igniting conflicts between different nationalities, a batik beturbaned Italian/Australian pornographer who brandished a purple feather duster and video camera, and a burnt out English commercial photographer who was wearing only soiled black widow spider underwear and a empty smile and vacant eyes; excellent waves and surfing, frisbee. Have another great 10 dollar two hour massage.
go to The Deck, meet Canadian Robin, drink Thai rum/Coke/Red Bull buckets with Lufthansa flight attendants(Andrea and Steffi), Pam (talk about Sarajevo, Croatia and cevapcici) and Tanja, head to Green Mango, then go to awesome free beach party with German girls, run into James of Koh Phangan and Aussie girl, great german dj and sound system, rocks, fantastic red crescent moon over waves breaking on big rocks, go back to The Club for late night dancing.

17 Feb 2001 Koh Samui Another difficult beach day: frisbee, tanning, and floating on air mattress in waves. Meet Robin, Rob and Aussie sisters Sonya and Fiona at Ark Bar on beach, starts pouring rain we head to Green Mango til 3am

18 Feb 2001 Koh Samui Have breakfast on the beach with Robin, Rob, and the German girls, say goodbye to Robin, surfing on beach, meet Emma an Egyptian/Portugese student teacher, lunch on beach with Rob, great hour long foot massage ($5), go to Ark Bar on beach with Rob and meet Dutch sisters, Pauline, an antique jewelery expert in London, and Heleen, a cash trader at ING bank in Amsterdam. Talk for three hours about auctionsm London, jewels, Holland, modern European history, transiency, travel.

19 Feb 2001 Koh Samui meet Rob for breakfast on beach, jetskiing with Tanja. She, along with hundreds of onlookers, is extremely impressed with my expertise and control of jetski in the choppy waters, float on airmattress, have final two hr massage from Poon, meet Rob, Pam and Tanja for dinner on beach. Go to transvestite cabaret and see "ladyboys" sing all my favourite showtunes. Dancing at Green Mango. Farewell to everyone.

20 Feb 2001 Singapore meet Andrea at 0615 and fly together Samui to Singapore on Bangkok Airways at 0800. arr Changi Airport, breeze immigration and customs, have difficulty finding hotel room, all full for golf tournement, finally get room at cosy Regalis Court Hotel ($58) near Orchard Road, walk around see shopping mall after shopping mall. Have excellent Chili Steamed Crab, see film "Quills", talk to sister Leonora in Chicago!

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