December 30, 2018

What continent is this?

Dateline: Phuket Thailand, Incheon South Korea, Atlanta Georgia, and Birmingham Alabama-

I woke up this morning… or was it yesterday morning? The last forty eight hours is all a bit blurry. Anyway, I woke up some morning earlier this week to two things. One, not a great nights sleep. I had again had some troublesome dreams that had had me sitting bolt upright about 3 AM. It wasn’t the actors nightmare and none of the details stayed with me more than an hour or so before they faded. I find if I am truly going to remember dreams, I have to journal them. Two, I had developed a painful blister on the bottom of my right foot, probably from my walk into town in flip flops the day before. Between those two things, I decided it was a message from the universe to take it easy my last day in Thailand and not go too far afield. And so, I had another quiet day poolside just soaking up sunshine, dousing myself in the pool whenever I felt too hot and having a beer or two at the swim up bar.

I had a light supper, and then it was time to pack. I brought my large suitcase with me and everything fit into that and my newly purchased backpack without too much trouble. My car showed up to take me to Phuket airport as scheduled. It was only about 20 miles but the crazy traffic on the island made it a nearly two hour drive. My driver seemed to know all of the windy back roads to skip the worst of the traffic but at what point I could swear we were going in circles and passed the same 7-11 half a dozen times. It was probably six different 7-11s (they’re about as ubiquitous as Alexander Shunnarah billboards in this part of the world) but there were other vaguely familiar looking things creeping past outside the windows that made me somewhat suspicious.

Eventually, we got to the airport about 10 PM local time. (Flight time to Seoul was 1 AM). I had a snack, spent the last of my Thai Baht on a few things, and braved the sublime weirdness of the Phuket airport international terminal in the small hours of the morning. There seemed to be a lot of red eyes heading all over Asia. I napped on the flight, was fed a fairly tasteless omelet for breakfast and landed in South Korea where the temperature was something below freezing, quite a change from the balmy tropic night I had left six hours before.

Korea Airlines had only left me a fifty minute layover at Incheon airport so it was a bit of a mad dash through Passport control and to the gate for the second flight from Seoul to Atlanta. Both I and the luggage made it with minutes to spare and it was on to the wide body for the trans Pacific flight. Here, I had a stroke of luck. An empty seat beside me allowing me to stretch a bit and not be quite as cramped as usual. I put all three The Lord of the Rings movies on the entertainment system as I could zone in and out without being confused and they occupied most of the flight.

Eventually, we landed in Atlanta, around 8:30 this morning, about half an hour after we had left South Korea. Through immigration and customs and, for some weird scheduling reason, a six hour layover in ATL. My bag was able to make the 10 AM flight to BHM. I had to wait for the 3 PM flight (no seats on the 10 AM) which was, of course, delayed for an hour for cockpit communication glitches. I did, finally, reach Birmingham which is grey and wet and cold and taxied back to the house to find it still standing, the cats alive and well and everything more or less as it has been.

It’s now about 7:30 PM. I’ve had some dinner and feel like it’s midnight inside. I’m trying to keep myself up until at least 10 and then I’ll try to get a good night’s sleep and hopefully have my internal clock reset tomorrow. If it’s not completely, that’s OK as I don’t go back to work until Wednesday. The plan for the next two days is to unpack, organize life, and get everything on track for the next few months.

I’m trying to set up 2019 so that I have something different to look forward to every month, whether that be a performance gig or a trip. Here’s what there is so far.

-January: Performance – Carmina Burana with the Symphony
-February: Trip – RSVP Caribbean Cruise with friends
-March: Performance – Tosca with Opera Birmingham 
-April: Performance – Man of La Mancha with Virginia Samford Theater
-May: Trip – Seattle
-June: Performance – HMS Pinafore with Birmingham Music Club
-July: Trip – Rhine/Danube Cruise Amsterdam to Budapest

The last part of the year is still in flux. I’m open to suggestions. Probably a NYC trip sometime in the fall.

This is the last part of this travelogue. I’ll do an intermittent post or two over the next six weeks, then pick up the daily commentary cruise week which is February 10-17.

December 28, 2018

Patong Beach, Phuket

Dateline: Patong Beach, Thailand-

And the trip is close to coming to an end. I’m here tomorrow day until I catch a redeye from Phuket to Seoul and then the long haul from Seoul back to Atlanta which takes fourteen hours, but only 30 minutes on the clock due to the number of time zones crossed. I have no idea if I’ll be in a position to do an update tomorrow night or if it will have to wait until I drag myself back into Birmingham. I’m due back sometime between 3 and 4 pm Birmingham time on Sunday. No one better plan on seeing me until Wednesday morning as it’s likely to take that long to get my inner time clock recalibrated. I have a feeling I may be making 3 am trips to the 24 hour drive through down the street that first night as I’ll be hungry at some weird hour.

Today was very quiet. I slept in, had a leisurely breakfast, sharing a table with a chemist from Shanghai who had been a student at Berkeley at the same time I had been a student at Stanford, and then decided to amble on in to the town of Patong and explore the beach area. It was about a two mile walk from my hotel into town with far more hills than I would have liked but I figured I could use the exercise. The road in was a mix of the rich (luxury condos) and the very poor (shacks selling odd clothes and a recycled liquor bottles of gasoline out of their living areas) living cheek by jowl with each other.

Down on the beach

The town of Patong is no different than any other large tourist beach town I’ve ever been to. It could have been Cancun or Sitges or even Miami Beach. Full of T shirt shops, cheap jewelry, small places to eat, and various tchotchkes of dubious utility, designed to fall apart six months after you get them home. The beach itself is very nice and I did do some swimming, although I’m not exactly sure as to the cleanliness of the water. I can’t say I entirely trust the Thai sewer system. More than anything, I soaked up a little sun (covered in sunblock as we’re relatively close to the equator here), did some people watching, had a beer, and eventually toddled off to do the last of the shopping I wanted to do and have a leisurely late lunch.

Sunset from the hotel

I was in no mood hike two miles back up the hill so I caught a taxi back to the hotel and spent the late afternoon on their gorgeous pool deck, watching the sun go down into the Andaman Sea. Then back to the room and quiet time. I’m storing up my sleep and rest today and tomorrow in order to be ready for the journey. I won’t have the adrenaline of new adventures to carry me through and the time change west to east has always been harder on me than the one from east to west.

A Tommy story tonight. Steve and I had always enjoyed fun in the sun vacations and went on a lot of them over the years. A lot of them run together in my mind but they were mainly to Hawaii and Mexico. When Tommy and I got together, I assumed we would have a similar pattern. I hadn’t counted on Tommy’s Irish coloring and skin which did not mix well with tropical sun. Just walking across the pool area, even with spf 1000 sunblock was enough to turn him bright pink and he usually had to hide out in the shade somewhere. He didn’t have great skin to begin with and sunburn just made everything worse. We did go on a few, but they were far less common than I had been used to.

One of them was in early 2005. We had just started to get involved in the world of Birmingham theater together less than a year previously and we were still in our pre-theatrical patterns. I had just spent a couple of years getting the new geriatric clinic at UAB up and running and Tommy was the chief nursing officer at an outfit called Birmingham Health Care, a collection of federally qualified health centers providing care to low income individuals. We had booked an Atlantis Cruise together. Atlantis is an outfit that specializes in group vacations for gay men. Steve and I had been regulars with them, even before they did cruises, and Tommy and I had also been on a couple of trips. Dates had been submitted to employers, everything was cleared and we were to fly out Saturday to catch the boat in Miami. On the Friday, just before, Tommy’s boss called him into his office, told him that a major grant was due right after we were to return and he expected it finished and on his desk. Tommy, with his incredible work ethic, simply took the grant with us. We spent the cruise in the cabin working on his grant, more than anything else. I was livid.

Tommy and Andy on the beach

When we got back, I told Tommy in no uncertain terms that good people did not do to their employees what had been done to him and it was time for him to leave that job. He thought about it for a while, and ultimately did decide to go about six months later. It was the first step on the road that took him back to school at the University of Montevallo and his new career(s). Years later we figured out what was really going on. Tommy, in addition to being chief nursing officer, was also ethics/compliance officer for the organization. Unbeknownst to him, his boss and the senior staff had cooked up various schemes to enrich themselves through various unethical and illegal means off of federal contracts and they knew Tommy would never stand for it so he had to be made miserable enough to quit. He had the last laugh. The federal government eventually caught on to their hanky panky, the organization collapsed and most of the senior staff has either gone to jail or spent most of their money on lawyers to keep them out

December 27, 2018

Dateline: Patong, Phuket and Phi Phi Islands, Thailand-

Today was a busy day with the last of the organized touring of the trip. It was also the first day I felt like a tourist, being herded from one thing to the next. No private tour and guide, but rather joining in with people from all over the world for a trip to the Phi Phi Islands. The Phi Phi are a small archipelago, about thirty miles off the coast of Thailand. They are lovely and have starred in any number of films about exotic tropical destinations, especially the Leonardo diCaprio film, The Beach.

I was picked up by a rather surly minivan driver at 8 who seemed to want to be anywhere else but fighting traffic while rounding up the day’s bookings. (Our van ended up being me, a Hong Kong native, now a banker in Calgary, a couple from Adelaide, and a family from Kerala.) For an island roughly twice the size of Nantucket, it sure has a lot of traffic jams and the way the locals ride their scooters must keep the local trauma wards busy. Eventually we made our way to Phuket harbor and the Royal Marina where dozens of other minivans were also discharging their human cargo.

Royal Marina

What at first seemed like pandemonium quickly became organized (they do this every darn day) and we were sorted into groups of about thirty depending on destination and options – we could be quickly identified by guides based on colored rubber wrist bands, slightly more dignified than cattle ear tags I suppose, and assigned to our boats. My group came under the supervision of an aging Thai Ladyboy named Mercy who really needed a caftan and cigarette holder to complement his outsize personality rather than his black uniform pants and polo. All aboard, throttle back, and bounding across the azure waters of the Andaman sea bound for the Phi Phi archipelago.

Snorkel time at Bamboo Island

First stop was Bamboo Island, a small hill atop a coral reef with a lovely beach for swimming and snorkeling. The snorkeling wasn’t much here – too shallow but I did spot a clown fish hiding in an anemone and thought immediately of Finding Nemo. No blue parrot fish however, I guess Dory had gotten lost. Back on the boat and off to see a friendly family of macaques that live on the cliffs of the major island, Phi Phi Don. They were up to their usual antics including some cliff diving and swimming in the sea begging for treats. Then on to the town on Phi Phi Don for lunch. (An edible, but not fantastic buffet…)

Yesterday was the 14th anniversary of the Boxing Day tsunami which devastated this part of the world. In the little town of Phi Phi Don, which had no warning, 1400 out of the 3000 residents and 1500 visitors on the island that morning died. The town is on a sand spit between two limestone crags and was completely inundated. All of the physical scars have been repaired but every local over the age of 15 has tsunami stories. My current hotel is on high ground so I have no worries. My previous one was not, and I made sure when I checked in to spot the trail up the mountain behind the hotel just in case…

Useful signage

After lunch, over to the smaller uninhabited island of Phi Phi Lay for more snorkeling. (Much better this time as we were in deeper water and snorkeling from the boat rather than off a beach). Then one last beach stop for cocktails before returning to the dock, the frenzy of unloading, and finding the correct minivan for another rush hour trip across the island. By the time I got back to the hotel it was pushing 7 PM so I had a quick bite and decided to call it a day. Ten hours of sunshine and saltwater and snorkeling can take it out of you.

For whatever reason, today’s trip was bringing back Steve and my first major trip together. It was November of 1989. We had been together just over eight months. His mother had recently died and he decided we needed to get away together so he went down to a travel agent in downtown Sacramento for some ideas. (For you youngsters – this was before the web was invented and it was not possible for you to book your own plane ticket. There were these magical creatures called travel agents who had to do it for you.) He found a lovely Czech emigre, Yana Gould (with whom I am still friends) who came up with a ten day trip to Mexico. A week in Cancun and then four days in Mexico City.

Andy and Steve – Cancun 1989 – Wearing the shirt of shame…

Off we went. Neither of us had been to Mexico before. Cancun was still a relatively new resort town, not yet completely overrun by the cruise and spring break trade and we had a ball on the beach and did the requisite side trips to Chichen Itza and Tulum to see the Mayan ruins. Steve did not drink. He had been sober 17 years in AA when I met him and was 30 years sober when he died. He didn’t mind if I did (as long as I asked first) and while on that trip, he decided to find out what I was like drunk. One night, at dinner, he kept plying me with tequila slammers until I was way past three sheets to the wind. We decided to take a walk on the beach before bed and, while doing so, drunk Andy found a dead seagull and thought this was the most intriguing thing and decided to present it to Steve. Steve took one look at it, said something along the lines of get rid of it, so drunk Andy started to whirl it around by a wing in order to pitch it into the sea. Unfortunately, the wing separated from the rest of the bird, which fell plop on his feet and he was left standing there puzzled holding a bedraggled thing of feathers and sinew. Steve found this hysterically funny. (I was very drunk and remember next to nothing about this whole incident – I know the details as Steve delighted in recounting the story over the years…) Needless to say, I have learned my lesson about beach combing after having one… or two too many.

Unstructured day tomorrow with which to explore Patong Beach and environs.

December 26, 2018

Patong Bay from my hotel

Dateline: Tupkaek and Patong, Thailand-

It’s been a quiet day. I slept in a bit, had breakfast, and then did a quick face time call to the family in Seattle because, while it was boxing day morning here in Thailand, it was time for Christmas dinner there and the clan was gathered for greetings and remembrances. I got my belongs stuffed back into the luggage and a very nice driver picked me up for the drive from Tup Kaek and Krabi to Phuket and Patong. While the two destinations are only about 30 miles apart, they’re on opposite sides of a bay which required a drive of pushing four hours with traffic and well over 100 miles. I didn’t have any place else to be so I just watched the world pass by outside the van windows.

Thai snack foods. I did recognize the Cheetos

Limestone and granite cliffs and pillars jutting suddenly out of agricultural land spelled by rural towns dedicated to agriculture or fishing or tourism. The area seems to be a vacation destination for the world so signs in many languages advertising home cooking for French, Germans, Italians, Russians, Iranians, Indians, and the list goes on. We stopped half way for snacks at a 7-11 (ubiquitous in this part of the world) where the aisles were full of snack foods I did not recognize. Lots of them seemed to contain seafood or algae of various sorts. I did find some M & Ms hiding in a corner and bought and ate those.

Pool at the Patong hotel

Eventually we crossed the bridge across the narrow strait that separates the island of Phuket from the mainland and headed down the coast to the town of the same name. From there, up and over the spine of the island on a windy little road to the beach town of Patong. My hotel turned out to be a rather chi chi resort up on the hill to the south of the beach, out of the hustle and bustle of the town proper. I got myself checked in, put on my bathing suit, and explored the large complex of infinity pools that seem to be the hotel’s major calling card.

After a light dinner at the hotel restaurant, I decided to stay in for the evening. I have an all day adventure involving speedboats and island hopping tomorrow and sleep is in order.

Just not very much to say today. Perhaps more tomorrow…

December 25, 2018

Sunset from Tup Kaek beach

Dateline: Tup Kaek Thailand-

Merry Christmas to all, from where Christmas day is finishing up on the other side of the International Date Line. I cross it again next week. Which means that my fourteen hour flight from Seoul arrives twenty minutes after it takes off using local times. It’s going to take a couple of days once I get home to get my biorhythms back in synch again. I am due home Sunday afternoon but don’t have to be at work until Wednesday morning so that should give me enough time to sort it all out.

My viral whatever seems to have more or less run its course. I’m feeling my usual self now other than some sore muscles which I put down to six hours of paddling a sea kayak yesterday. With luck, it will not be back. Given my weird GI tract, I’m very thankful that I haven’t had any serious problems in that department. A trick I learned years ago, and that has always worked for me, is take Pepto Bismol tablets twice a day starting three days before a trip, all through the trip and for three days after and your chance of problems declines significantly. And that’s your medical advice for the day. You can settle your bill with the receptionist on the way out the door.

Elephant riding through the jungle

Today has been, by design, a very quiet day. I did get up this morning and climb on an elephant for a short trek through the local jungle. I was of two minds about this being mindful of elephant exploitation but I checked the company out and it has a good reputation so I thought why the heck not? How often does one get a chance to ride an elephant through a jungle of bamboo and rubber trees? And so, I found myself seated behind my mahout who seemed to communicate well with his charge and who never used his goad, preferring whistles and muttered directions in Thai. It was interesting to close my eyes for a few minutes and imagine myself a maharajah of a distant century undergoing a journey but my ultimate thought was that elephant travel with its lumbering sway must be very uncomfortable indeed for long distances.

Most of the rest of the day was spent in water. Dunking in the sea. Dunking in the pool. Showering off. Lather, rinse, repeat. That and a couple of naps. I got some reading done (a reread of Dorothy Dunnett’s House of Niccolo series – I’m on Volume 5, The Unicorn Hunt), some writing done (new MNM columns), and a lot of thinking done. Dinner on the beach of pork curry with a large Blue Hawaii cocktail (in honor of Raymond Quintero) as the sun set and then back to the room to lounge with whatever is on the local movie channel. Last night’s late night movie was Die Hard so even in Southeast Asia, they recognize it as a Christmas classic.

I’m trying to think of a Christmas memory. The first Christmas I have any recollection of was Christmas 1965 or 1966 when I was three or four years old. I was still an only child at that point. I celebrated Christmas that year by coming down with the mumps (this was before the MMR was invented) and I remember I was not very happy about anything as I didn’t feel well. I do remember that I got a Lassie coloring book (Lassie was my favorite TV show at the time) and a large Tonka tractor trailer that transported cars. I was given a lot of traditional boy toys (it was the 60s after all) but when I went off to nursery school, I always made a beeline for the corner where the girls played with the girl toys. They were much prettier. (That should have been a big clue…) My favorite toy at Acorn Academy (my nursery school which was a mainstay of northeast Seattle for generations) was a paper doll named ‘Magic Maryann’ who had all sorts of wonderful outfits you could put on her. And they had little magnets in them so they would stay in place when you moved her around to tea parties. I wonder what would have happened if I had been exposed to RuPaul’s Drag Race at a young age? I was also, of course, always given books for Christmas. I still have many of the good editions of children’s classics I was given over the years and even some of the big picture books from early childhood that have fond associations. As I start to think about aging and downsizing, I wonder what will happen to things like that. Better start passing them off to the kids at church in need of starting their own libraries.

Tomorrow is a travel day. Krabi to Phuket. It’s about 35 crow fly miles but more like 100 land miles due to geography. Hopefully there’ll be some interesting sights along the way.

December 24, 2018

Dateline: Tup Kaek and Aow Thalen Thailand-

I had the actor’s nightmare last night. That’s not a usual one for me so I have no idea what triggered it. I was being directed in some pretentious Pinteresque piece about group therapy by Alan Litsey. Others in the cast included Ginny Stahlman CrooksTodd WolfeKeith RogersGary Packwood, and Linda Corliss. How such a cast could or would have been assembled was not explained. Anyway, I had no lines in the first act, just reactions to everyone else’s histrionics. Everyone was so worried about getting the first act just right that we never seemed to get around to the second act in which I had pages of monologue. Final room run, we’re finally due to work Act II so I show up early only to find the rehearsal hall full of flamenco dancers holding a revival meeting. No one speaks English so I can’t find out where I’m supposed to be. I start exploring the neighborhood, which seems to be a Mexican beach town and get picked up by the cops for trespassing. I woke up after being put in the back of the police car. OK armchair Freudians and Jungians, make of that what you will…

I’ve only been in the back of a police car once. It was about ten years ago. Many of you know that I inherited by father’s somewhat odd GI tract which will occasionally do some very strange things. One of its worst tricks is sudden onset cramping that sets off my vagus nerve and drops my blood pressure. Anyway, it was a Saturday afternoon and I had to run a number of errands. I was at Sam’s Club laying in household supplies when the cramping started. It wasn’t too bad so I soldiered on from there to the Home Depot. The cramping was getting worse so I thought maybe time to get home. I just had one more stop, the ABC store. We needed a bottle of Amaretto as I was making a batch of chocolate sauce later that weekend. I march into the ABC, pick up my bottle and am waiting in line to pay when the cramping gets worse than ever. My vagus nerve goes into overdrive and I collapse in a heap on the floor. I came to, managed to pay for my purchase and headed back for the car thinking if I could lay down with my feet up for a few minutes I would be fine. I passed out again half way across the parking lot. Fortunately, the bottle of Amaretto survived the fall. That’s when the cashier at the ABC called the cops, assuming I was some sort of falling down drunk. The policeman, when he arrived, was very nice. I explained the situation, and that I was a medical doctor who knew exactly what was going on and no, I didn’t need either a breathalyzer or a trip to the ER. He very wisely suggested that it would be best not to drive home, loaded me up in the back of his cruiser and ferried me up the hill to the house. I took a nap, felt much better, chuckled with Tommy when he came home some hours later and then went down to collect the car.

Kayaking through the mangroves

None of this has anything to do with the usual travelogue so let me get back to business. After a good night’s sleep, despite, the odd dream, up for breakfast at the usual hour and then down to the beach to await my longboat transportation. The shallow water craft are long and sleek with a motor with a very long propeller shaft that acts as both power source and tiller. I waded out to the boat and was ferried across the bay to Aow Thalen. It was very James Bond racing past the Phi Phi Islands (they were a major location in The Man with the Golden Gun) and there is a James Bond tour offered, but I declined. On arrival at Aow Thalen, I met my guide Joon, and we headed off together for a day of sea kayaking. I’m not sure that kayaking was the best choice after a couple of days of myalgia and my deltoids and triceps let me know they were there after about fifteen minutes but he was strong and sure and did most of the paddling while I joined in when I wasn’t too sore.

Hidden beach among the limestone pillars

The route we took was past beaches and through narrow canyons carved between pillars of limestone covered by stalactites with trees clinging to what purchase they can find. At the bases, were mangrove swamps inhabited by an inquisitive family of macaques who seemed quite put out that we had no intention of feeding them. As we were solo and not part of a flotilla, it was all incredibly quiet and peaceful floating by these amazing places with kingfishers flashing by and the cicadas calling to each other. The occasional monitor lizard swam by, but none tried to board our kayak which was just as well. Half way through, we stopped at the pier for a delicious lunch (which I had to photograph) before continuing on to a sheltered lagoon with sheer rock walls on all sides. By that point, my arms had had about all they could take so back on a long boat back to the hotel. The weather, that had been lovely all day, began to cloud up on the way back and the heavens opened just as I stepped out of the boat back at the hotel. Being a true Seattleite, rain doesn’t perturb me so I simply took my dip in the bathtub warm Andaman Sea in the rain before repairing to the pool and the pool bar.

Christmas Eve on the beach

The resort is having a Christmas Eve special party on the beach tonight. I really wasn’t that interested in going until I realized that it’s happening about fifteen feet outside of my lanai so I’ll be attending anyway so I put on a clean shirt and decided to be a fool among fools rather than a fool alone. The major entertainment was a female vocalist in a sexy Santa costume with a rather unusual repertoire. A lot of 70s and 80s pop with some oddball stuff thrown in. As I sat down with my plate, she broke into a medley of ‘Hello, Dolly!’ and ‘All of Me’ and I took that as some sort of sign that I was in the right place. I also had to show my server a picture of me and Jan Hunter in Dolly to explain why I was singing along. I don’t think she understood. Lounge singing was followed by such traditional fare as fire dancing, a Santa rapping to K-pop, and a Thai folk dance.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day – a day earlier than most of you as I am on the other side of the date line. I’m not planning on doing a whole lot other than rest, relaxation and contemplation. I’ve found that the amazing bathroom with the big spa tub and the rain shower with incredible water pressure have made that much easier. I’ve taken three showers so far today and may have another before bed.

December 23, 2018

Hotel at Tup Kaek

Dateline: Bangkok, Krabi and Tup Kaek Thailand-

It’s going to be another early to bed night. I’m feeling better than yesterday but still not 100%. No fever, no major respiratory or GI symptoms, just the blahs and some mild myalgia so I assume it’s likely a virus picked up from crowds of southeast Asians jostling me at all turns. And then there’s five plane rides in the last week.

Fishing at Tup Kaek beach

I’m now in the lovely middle of nowhere on Tup Kaek beach (sounds a lot like Cupcake) and WiFi is spotty, probably because every guest at the resort is trying to log on at once. I am therefore writing this on my phone as cell reception is doing better than the WiFi network; I don’t like typing at length on the phone, but needs must I suppose.

Christmas Eve 2014 with Anna Cordelia

I slept quite well and long last night waking up about 6:30. I sat on my balcony and watched the river for awhile and then opened the computer. The first thing that greeted me was one of those memory photos from Christmas 2014. It was of me and Tommy in the narthex of the church holding Mandy Olson’s precious baby daughter, Anna Cordelia. I hadn’t been expecting it so it caught me a bit off guard, but the memory was a happy one so it was only a momentary tear.

The morning was devoted to breakfast and the Tetris puzzle of packing. I’ve added somewhat to my belongings. Fortunately, in anticipation I had bought a new backpack while bazaar hopping and everything ended up fitting. My next transfer is by car rather than plane so I don’t have to worry about stuff to much until it’s time to go home. Tonight is the official half way point of the trip… downhill slide.

Pete the indefatigable tour guide and driver were on time and we beat our way back across Bangkok traffic to the airport. Having allowed for some traffic jam time, I hung out, had lunch twice (a decent one at the airport and a not so decent one in flight) and then off to Krabi.

The view from the plane as we landed showed acre upon acre of agricultural land with muddy rivers meandering through. I was on the wrong side of the plane for an ocean view. Baggage claim (slow) and then a driver who spoke essentially no English or French to take me to the hotel/resort.

Tropical resorts – seen one…

Krabi looks like pretty much every other beach town from Cancun to Charlotte Amalie but with more Muslims. We’re quite close to Malaysia which is Muslim and there seems to be a certain blending going on. Off we went down rural highways and the landscape soon started to change with huge sheer granite monoliths and hills rising out of the serene surrounding countryside. The drive was about fifty or sixty miles ending up at a lovely beach with a number of resort hotels.

My room – complete with calming water feature

My room is beachfront with ocean view windows in the shower and tub area. A light breeze through the lanai and the white noise of a water feature which surrounds the room. I took a dip in the pool (the only design flaw being the infinity lip having a glorious view of a privacy hedge), has a little something to eat, and sat in a lounge chair and watched the sun set into the Andaman Sea.

Tomorrow and the day after are the actual holiday. The trip was designed to take me somewhere calm and restive on those days. I think this will fill the bill. Haven’t heard any English yet from the other guests- mainly French and German and one large family shouting at each other in some Slavic tongue.

No story tonight… typing issues. I’ll try writing something I can cut and paste later if the WiFi keeps acting up.