|After returning to Bangkok where we will spend the evening, the following afternoon we will visit
Khosarn Road in Banlumphu (Bangkok's European Tourist district and market place. During this visit, you may street shop and treat
yourself to a lunch of Thai food while I prepare the final arrangements for our trip south to Koh Samui Island for
our train and ferry boat excursions possibly by Hydrofoil.
In the evening, we will will travel by over night trains in sleeper cars to Surat Thani province 680 kilometers south of Bangkok. Each person will have his and/or her own private sleeper. Train meals are not included in the tour. However, at every stop along the way, dozens of local women and children hawking foods will board the train to sell you a meal. 1/4 chicken on a stick is usually about .50 cents U.S.
We will be staying at the Samui Beach Resort in Lamai Beach on the East side of Koh Samui. In the morning, we will visit several rice paddies at Ban Lipa Yai and later visit the world renown gigantic famous Grandfather and Grandmother rocks at the village seaside hamlet of Hinta Hinyai near Lamai, Koh Samui. These two images below are composed of limestone and granite and are millions of years old.
|After leaving Hinta Hinyai, we will motor to Na Muang water falls. Here we can freshen by going for a swim in the falls. Later on we will visit the Hin Lad falls pictured in the second image.|
|In the afternoon we will forage for mushrooms in some of the various rice paddies situated throughout the island. The first four images are specimens of Psilocybe cubensis which were deposited at the Herbarium in Bangkok.|
|The fifth and Sixth image are some specimens of one of three species of Copelandia cyanescens, indigenous to the region.|
|Featured below are four photo images of a new species that I first discovered in 1990 on Koh Samui Island, Psilocybe samuiensis Guzmán, Bandala and Allen.|
On the next morning we will go to Ban Nathon and later visit Wat Kunorum. There is a monk entombed in a glass display in a yoga position who predicted the day he would die. And so he did, right on schedule. And he mummified himself by going into a trance.
His aura was so intense that no bacteria entered his body thereby causing self preservation. He is on display in a glass tomb at this Wat on Koh Samui.
In these islands, the water is so unbelievably warm and there are no man eating sharks in the Gulf of Siam (Gulf of Thailand). Evening swims are fantastic and the sunsets on Koh Samui and its sister companion Isle of Koh Phangan are the most beautiful in the world. We can also swim at the poolside by the restaurant at our resort. Just check out the images below of some of the sunsets from Koh Phanghan and Koh Samui.
|We will also spend an hour or more at the coolest place on Koh Samui Island known as Ka Boehm (pronounced as Ka boom) and known to tourists as The Tarnim Magic Gardens. Tarnim is situated at about 400 meters above Sea Level on the top of a mountain overlooking a Military Base. It is approximately 2-3 km south of Ban Nathon. Now the name might imply a park, but this is a place of beauty and what is unique about this magic place are the millions of locust (cicadas) who are emitting their mating calls which reverberate and echo to and fro as well as back and forth across the mountain top from ridge to ridge. A most awesome cacophony of sound waves bouncing in rhythm to your heart beat with you being the center of their world.|
|Sometimes we attend the world famous Full Moon Festival. To get there we had to travel by ferry boat (fishing boat) and/or Hydrofoil to Koh Phangan Island (1 hour and 12 kilometers North of Koh Samui). Now they have brought in dozens of high speed boats to take tourists at expensive prices to Koh Phanghan. Below is an image of our approach to East Had Rin Beach resort and the second image is Bottle Beach on the North end of Koh Phangan. The third image is a bungalow I stayed at where some tourist painted the album cover of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" on the front wall of the bungalow.|
|On this day we will visit Big Buddha on the Northeast region Koh oh Samui. The first two images were taken less than 3 months apart.|
Today we can spend the morning swimming and preparing for our trip back to Bangkok. In the afternoon, we will be provided transportation from our Resort to the ferry boat where we will sail on a hydrofoil to Surat Thani and then take the night train ride back to Bangkok. On occasion, a 30 to 45 minute flight can get one to Bangkok very fast. When I first went to Samui Island in the mid 1980s there were no airplanes at all on the Island. Then one year there were two flights a day. Soon it graduated from 6 to 10 a day and now about 16 planes or more arrive and depart daily not only to Bangkok, but there small airport is now an International Airport, yet has very small but safe runways for travel. Much safer than a minivan or bus ride that takes 15 hours to travel and is quite dangerous. The drivers are maniacs and it is really not to safe to trust someone at the wheel all night long. On my first trip to Thailand, there were at least 4 crashes a week into trains in the middle of the night in minivans traveling from either Bangkok to Koh Samui and elsewhere south or north all night to Changmai, or by pickup to minivan or personal driver to the Thai/Cambodian border and on to Angkor Wat.
June 16th of 2008
This is the day of departure for some or all of our group. I thank you all for participating in this grand adventure to a world which is like another planet. We will arrive in Bangkok at approximately 7 AM in the morning and each can make their own travel arrangements to the airport or some may stay and hang with me for a while, but will have to pay their own hotel and meals.
June 4, 2008
Today, in the wee hours of the morning we will depart for the journey to the small Cambodian city of Siem Riap. On this trip we will traveled most uncomfortably during the day by Mini-Van to the Cambodian border. This is actually a rather a comfortable ride of about three long hours on modern highways to the Thai/Cambodian border. That part of the journey usually takes about 3 to 4 hours or so depending on the driver. That is because the Thai highway system is fantastic. Then comes the part of our excursion that can last anywhere from 5 to 12 hours by minivan on an overland and sometimes uncomfortable trip with many other unknown tourists. What makes the trip uncomfortable are the millions of potholes in the road on the way to the temples at Xiem Riap. Once there, we will stay at the Jasmine Hotel owned and operated by my friend Mr. Van Kunn and his beautiful wife Jasmine and their family.
June 5, 2008.
What we have planned for this 3rd segment of our tour includes this five day trip into the jungle regions of Xiem Reap, Kampuchea where we will visit several of the Khmer temples built between the 8th and 12th century A.D. During this 5 day trek we will enjoy visiting these ancient ruins and hopefully collect several varieties of mushrooms for spore prints.
Most likely we will be helped by various children who suddenly appear from out of nowhere to assist us for a small reward. Each participant will have his own motor cycle and English Speaking Guide for rides to the various Temples. One beautiful temple is the ancient ruins of Ta Proehm where Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was filmed.
As noted above, during this trip to Cambodia, we will constantly be on the lookout for mushrooms. Although we will make prints, I am the only one allowed to bring the mushroom specimens back to Bangkok for deposit at the University.
At around 8 in the morning we will began our visit of Angkor Wat, Angkor Bayon and Angkor Thom and several others. Remember, always carry American dollars, at least one hundred are necessary for the trip, of which $40.00 will be used to purchase your three-day entry fee to the ancient temples of Angkor. We will all have our own personal guides to assist us and takes us to the Temples deep in the jungles of Cambodia. There are mushrooms growing in and around all of the temples and this makes for an interesting few days. At the moment the mushrooms are not illegal and very few tourists know of their existence at the temples. However, the local vendor children hawking souvenirs to tourists will come and offer picking assistance to the tourists for a few rials (Cambodian money).
June 8, 2008.
Today our group will leave early in the morning at about 7:00 AM for our return trip to Bangkok. And the next day, June 9, 2008, we will head to Koh Samui Island.
June 9, 2008
Well today is the day some of you will be returning to Seattle and other destinations. Planes will depart at Don Muang International Airport. For those of you who are leaving I should mention that like in Jules Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days," you too will be crossing the international dateline, thus gaining a full day when you return home. You will actually arrive in Seattle one and a half hours before you board your plane in Bangkok on the day before. Airport taxi fees are covered in the tour.
A word of caution. Please do not smuggle any Buddha images out of Thailand. They have to be approved of by T. A. T. (Tourist of Thailand Authority). Have a pleasant trip and thank you for your participation in this journey
2. Very little clothing or luggage is needed for your trip. While in Thailand you will probably purchase many items before returning home. Large cloth hand bags made from hemp fibers are available throughout Thailand at about $3.00 to $6.00 per. If you need rain-gear, purchase it in Thailand. It will only cost you about $2.00 to $4.00 there.
3. Unless you use digital cameras, bring your own film. It is cheaper to buy your film at home in the U.S or in Europe. However it is cheaper to develop your film in Thailand and they do double prints and give you photo albums free with your developing. For those of you who do bring digital cameras, I have friends on both Koh Samui Island and in Cambodia where computer use is cheaper for me and my companions than for the average tourists.
4. A visa is not required unless you plan to stay more than 30 days. Since the excursion is 17 days there is no need for a Thai visa. If you stay over thirty days there is a five dollar a day charge at the airport when you leave or at the border. Since we go to Cambodia first after the Bangkok stay, we will get a new thirty day extension free. After the 17 day excursion is over, I work with a University in Bangkok for several weeks and if anyone wants to stay and have some further travels, shroom hunting or visiting different sites or regions, you may stay but then you pay your own cost of living expenses. As noted above, there is a $20.00 U.S. fee for a Visa to Cambodia. I take care of obtaining the Visas but payment is up to the individual who is going, as is the $40.00 entrance fee to Angkor Wat for a 3-day pass.
5. Always carry your passport and travelers checks with you. Each individual is required to bring three color laser photo copies of his or her passport photo and identification page. Two are for your Cambodian visa and one is used for motorcycle rentals. This is also good in case of emergencies or lost passports and for when I rent your motorcycles. Although the cycles are rented in my name, the person who uses each bike is responsible for any damages and/or repairs to their bikes. The extra passport laser page can be helpful. Each person should bring approximately $200.00 to $500.00 for personal expenses, gifts, etc., Try not to over tip hotel, bungalow, or taxi and tuk-tuk personal. They will inform others that you are very generous and you will be plagued by their constant offer to assist you.
6. Thai money conversion is relatively very simple. Their units are the Baht. 1 baht = 4 cents U. S.; 5 baht = 20 cents. Thai bank notes are 10 baht = .40 cents; 20 baht = .80 cents; 100 baht = $2.50; 500 baht = $12.50; and 1000 baht = $25.00. By 2008, the exchange doubled and some items that were cheap also doubled in price. Now a $100.00 U.S. travelers check will exchange for approximately 4000-4200 baht. Because of a collapse in Asian economy the Thai exchange rate is now at $100.00 U.S. dollars to 3700 to 4200 baht. So your dollars may be worth less or more. In Cambodia we will spend either Thai money or American Dollars. The Cambodian money is virtually worthless. I usually bring 100 - one dollar U.S. bills to Cambodia with me. There are also no ATM machines in Xiem Riap. Only at the Thai border. However, since I have not been there in 5 years, I imagine that there are now probably ATM machines at Angkor Wat. When I was there last the Capital of Cambodia had massive ATM machines but was just as far to the east as the Thai border is tot he west.
7. A few Don'ts. Do not pat any Thai person with whom you are not intimate with on the head. This is considered the highest part of the body. Do not point at anyone with your feet, especially the monks. Your feet are considered the lowest part of your body. Do not shake hands with your left hand. This is the hand you wipe with and it would offend the Thai's. If anyone goes for a ride in any kind of vehicle (tuk-tuk, samlor, taxi, motorcycle, etc.), always barter the price before you get into the vehicle. You can usually get the rides for half of what the seller offers. This is true for any merchandise you might want to purchase in Thailand. Make sure the drivers of Taxi's use their meters. They are not all honest and drive long ways around. Thus demand the meter. In Thailand one can go on a 30 mile ride for about two to three dollars U.S.
8. Total coast is $2450.00 for 17-18 days. A deposit of $1200.00 U.S. must be received no later than March 31, of each year. This covers round trip airfare to and from Seattle to Thailand and back. If you make your own travel arrangements to Bangkok from other locations, your cost for the 17 day tour will be $2,450.00 U. S, minus $800.00 for airfare to and from Seattle to Bangkok and back. The balance of the deposit must be paid no later than May 1, of each year. Some make their own air arrangements from frequent flyer miles, etc.
Trip privy's include: bungalows, hotels, tours, railway and ferry services.
Meals are included at Hotel and Bungalow resorts only. All transportation including motorcycle rentals are included. This includes the Cambodia run. The $20.00 Cambodian Visa is paid by the participant as is the $40.00 3-day pass entrance fee to Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
|All travel arrangements are made with either Canadian Airlines, Korean
Airlines, China Airlines and/or Bangkok Airlines, including Thai interpreters,
bungalows, hotels, tours, railway and ferry services are easily confirmed.
Meals are included at Hotel and Bungalow resorts only. All transportation
including motorcycle rentals are included (each individual must pay their own gas)
for the motorcycle rentals while in Thailand. And Exotic Forays pays the cost of
and drivers, translators, etc. while in Cambodia. This includes the Cambodia run (the visa fee ($20.00)
and the 3-day pass to the temples at Angkor Wat, Cambodia ($40.00) are extra).
Thank you for your interest in Exotic Forays.
John W. Allen
P. O. Box 45164
Seattle, Washington, 98105
Contact John W. Allen at Face Book.
If you have any comments, suggestions or questions, please feel free to write or e-mail and ask.