Thailand and Phuket Island, Jan 2016
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Tom Ballard Photography
As I write this message, it is early Jan 2016 and in a couple more days, I will leave on my
first big adventure this year!! On Jan 13, 2015, my travel plans were halted by an
emergency bypass heart surgery. I was lucky!!! The surgery went well, the recovery went
well, and I completed three international trips in the last part of 2015, after I got the "GO"
from my heart doctor.. Did Scotland in August, Turkey in September, and
Vietnam-Cambodia in November.

For my first adventure this year, I am headed to Thailand and Phuket Island!!!! I leave home
in the USA on Jan 4, and return Jan 21. I have to travel to Los Angles a day early, to catch
the early afternoon flight on the 5th, which is the official day this tour starts. When they first
set this trip up, it was supposed to leave LAX at 11:30 am.... Later, it was changed to 1:20
pm. But, I still have to go LAX the day before, to make sure I am at the airport
approximately fours before flight time.. When I get on the plane at LAX, I will then be on the
"official" tour adventure.. And, when I step off the plane, back at LAX, the official tour is
over... Then I will use my domestic flight to get home.

For my friends and family who wish to follow along, I am sitting up this page to help you do
just that.. I have tried this model for tracking before, it seemed to work, so I am continuing
to use it...

If everything works according to my plan, the following steps should let you share the trip
with me.

There are actually two parts to following me as I travel.. One is to watch my location via a
tracking map. To view the tracking map with my location, use the link below, "Travel
2015".... !!!  Second is via my itinerary, which will be shared on this page.

1. While traveling, I will be carrying a SPOT satellite reciever/transmitter which will collect
GPS signals, calculate my position , then share my position on a web page, via the SPOT
network. For the techies in the group, the website for SPOT is
www.findmespot.com.

2. I am sharing the daily itinerary that was provided to me by my travel company,
www.smartours.com . This is my eigth trip with this company. First trip was to China and it
was great, except for the guide and the food issues!.. I decided to try some more. Not all
have been as well as the China trip, but for what I get for my money, I keep going. The
worst of these trips has been some bad guides, and difficulty finding food!!!! But, the good
part is the package deal. I get air from the USA, I get hotels, and I get ground
transportation.. As long as I can get these, I can just turn my head on the other stuff.. Half
of the guides have been good, the other half were just horrible.. Not consistent either
way!!!    FOOD!!! Too many times, for lunch and dinner,  the company just turns you loose
and says go find something to eat!!! In the USA, that might be OK, but not in places where
they do not speak English.... Breakfast has always been provided as a buffet meal, included
with the hotel room. This is pretty much the standard for hotels around the world. And, most
of these buffets are good!!! So, if you can get by on one good meal a day, you will survive!!
I still carry food bars with me, just in case!!! I have had to use them on several occasions!!!
One thing all travelers learn to carry is toilet paper.. Most often it is not an issue where we
go, but to be on the safe side, CARRY IT.... When in Turkey, I discovered the Bidet Toilets
in the rooms..I think all my hotel rooms had them, and I loved them.. I had to send photos of
the bidets back home, plus tell everyone how great the bidets where!!!  Friends are still
teasing me about liking the BIDETS in Turkey!!!  The good ones were great, the cheap ones
were a disappointment!!!

To view the information I used to select this trip, check the Smartours  link for this trip at:
https://www.smartours.com/tour/amazing-thailand-phuket-island/
Select "Itinerary" to see the advertised version of the itinerary..

3. By checking the Smartours info and looking at the itinerary, provided below, you should
have a fair idea of what I am doing at any given time. They generally provide a map, but not
this time, as far as I could tell..

4. I am not sure how the tracking map will show the date and the time while I am gone, so,
a quick search of the internet will bring you up to date...My info says that Bangkok is 13
hours ahead of Chicago, on the clock.. So noon on the 10th in Chicago is 1 AM on the 11th,
in Bangkok... So, for emails, etc, 9 AM back home will be 10 PM in Bangkok.  I think I got
that right!!!!! If I am, then 9 PM back home is 10 AM, the next day, in Bangkok
For a map of my last seven days of travel, click this link: Travel 2016
Note: This trip officially starts and ends in Los Angles
Note... I will have limited ability to share images from the trip as it happens, but I plan to do
my usual trip report when I get back, so, watch for that later!!! .....
Note: The map will only
share the most current
seven days of information.
After a point has been on
the map for seven days, it
is then deleted.

You may have to adjust
the ZOOM  to view the
map. Use the slider on the
left side to do this..

To check the date, time,
and GPS coords, for any
given MARKER on the
map, click on the little
balloon at the point, or
click the little "+" sign to
the left of the point, in the
list, called messages.

Also, in the message list,
you can click on the little
orange ball, and the
system will take you to
that MARKER, on the
map.
Remember Mark Twain's Quote, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-
mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad,
wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating
in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
This site is BEST viewed in GOOGLE CHROME!!!!
If the map does not work well for you, or any other issues crop up that you need help with, please
contact me at ballardtom@sbcglobal.net. I should have email service while traveling!
The shared images for this adventure will be at the bottom of this page when
they are ready for view!!!!
For those who just want to know, for fun,,,,, or for those who might want to learn
about the details and costs of doing this adventure, for their own adventure, I will be
sharing, below, the info that was provided to me, along with the estimated costs,
based on the info provided to me.
Photos from this adventure will be posted here after the adventure!!!
Note:
I leave California on
January 5, but I do not
see daylight in Thailand
until January 7....!!!!!
UPDATE!!!! Jan 27, 2016
The Thailand Adventure was awesome and amazing!!! It is now completed, and we are all back home
safe, bringing with us lots of great memories, and thousands of images!!
Having just returned, the photo processing and sharing has not started yet, but will soon, so please
check back often!!!! I tell my stories in photos, and this time there are lots of photos, so you know it
had to be a great trip, to a super place!!! I just loved the whole adventure!!!! I hope you will love the
memories I am sharing!!!
Jan 07...  Note to Family and Friends


Friends and Family,

Greetings from Bangkok, Thailand!!! WOW! I made it! And,

it looks like this is going to be a great adventure, even if there were some challenges getting to this point.
Some people fear the very thought of travel, and if all you hear are the bad stories, then your fear may forever
keep you from trying such a thing as we are doing here.

But, for the most part all is going very well, for the first day! On the ride over here, which was some 17 hours
of flying for me, from Los Angeles, 30 minutes into the flight, the man next to me dumped a cup of hot coffee in
his lap! Yes, that was a mess! Then, when we got here at midnight, we were missing 5 people, who missed a
connection, or something, but they arrived today.. And, about 12 people did not get their luggage last night
when we arrived!!!! Yes, that is very stressful for the ones affected. At dinner tonight, I learned that all the
missed flight people are here now, and all the luggage is here now. SO, we are good to go! Look likes we
have a GREAT group of people, which is the real magic in an adventure like this.
Our hotel is very much an upscale place, by my standards, but even this place has challenges and surprises.
Most of us did not get to bed until after 2:30 this morning, and some like me did not get to sleep until 3:30 or
so, then it was back up early to do breakfast and get started on the tours.. The breakfast here, like all the
hotels, is a buffet. This one was very good, but we were warned that the remaining buffets on the trip might

be lesser in quality, so be prepared! Also, the sink in my room does not drain properly. I called for help, the
maid came, checked the issue and left. Here at 10 PM, the sink still does not drain. And, at our welcome
dinner, I think I finally broke the beer price record for my travels. I have gotten some beers that got up around
8 or 9 dollars, but tonight at our welcome dinner, which was nothing more than just dinner with the other guests
of the hotel, who all shared in an evening buffet. When offered to order beverages, since only water is
included, I passed on the order, but then decided I wanted one of my favorites, a dark beer. Took a bit of
doing to get one ordered as the waiter could not understand English. With my guides help, I ordered a dark
beer, whatever that means. When I got it, it was not really dark, but. From the drink menu I remember

the highest priced beer there was 200 units of local currency. That would be near 7 dollars. That is okay..
When I got the bill for my near dark beer, the total was 306 units, I think. This comes to a little over 10 US
dollars.. That is now the new record for a 12 ounce bottle of beer. The beer was about 260 units, the rest

was gratuity and Value Added Tax! For a total of 306, I think. So, if you ever come to Thailand, calculate
your costs and multiply by two, or more. I was seated this evening with three really neat ladies who are
world travelers, and they told me that if that seemed high, try NORWAY! The prices there are just off the
charts! My friends in St Louis told me of their trip to Norway, and said it was one of the most awesome

places they had ever been, but they remembered lemonade costing 10 dollars for 12 ounce glass, also
they got two burgers and a soda for 90 US dollars! Amazing!

This morning we all did a general tour of the town, which included a near solid gold Buddha. AMAZING.. The
story that goes with it, I will tell later, but for some four hundred years, it was thought to have been destroyed
and lost to history, but only a few years ago, it was accidentally found hiding in plan view of all. Its gold

value is just off the charts! It weighs in the tons!  After the general tour, we came back to the hotel, and
after a short break, some of us took the optional canal boat ride.. Not anything super, but was good for me,
as a traveler, I like to see things, and on this trip we go to see more stuff! And, it included another temple.
Seems there are a lot of those here!

After the canal tour, it was time to relax a bit, then get ready for dinner! We met at 7 PM, local time, and

once all were accounted for, we started on the buffet.. As I said before, I had the good fortune to be seated
with three fun ladies who have traveled a lot, so they had good things to share, to include another challenge
they had in getting here last night! It would seem that some fellow on the flight got very drunk! And, he

caused a lot of problems for the people around him. Surprisingly, the flight crew did almost nothing to control
the fellow! There is more to the story, but.

OK, it is getting late and we have a very early tour in the morning, so I want to attach some images from our
first day, get them sent your way, then I am off to bed. I am still short on my sleeping requirements!

I hope you enjoy sharing the memories of this day!

Happy New Year!

TommyB
Jan 08...

Morning message:

Family and Friends,

Greetings from Bangkok, Thailand, again! I am here a little early today, because we had a very busy morning,
then a long break. Our morning tour got us back to our hotel around lunch time, but then nothing was planned
that I know of until 5 PM, when most, if not all of us will go to a dinner show. Not sure what that is all about, but
guess I will find out soon.
First things first, several people in my tour group found out I was doing sort of a blog thing each day, which
gives me a chance to share my adventure with family and friends, via a short summary of what is going on, and
then that is backed up with some photos from the day. I can do that now much easier and faster with the new
camera, as it has wifi in it, which makes all the difference in the world when it comes to moving images, etc.

I want to start this share by saying  WELCOME to the new people who have joined the Trip Tracker group.
They do not know about the location tracker yet, but I will share that with them soon!
I normally do not do the share thing until the travel day is over for the group, but since we had a big morning, at
a really neat place, with lots of things to take photos of, and the fact that we had some down time, the fact that
we only get to take photos part of the time tonight, I chose to jump ahead here and share some samples from
the fun we had this morning! Then, if there is anything really neat from tonights event, I will consider sending
samples of that as well.

I am limited to 50 images per email, I think. So I picked out a bunch, and reduced the bunch! I think there are
now 48 to share this time! As usual, when I have more time, I will prepare and share the larger sets.
It is now going on 4 PM, I need to get this sent out, and finish getting ready to meet the group for our fun this
evening. Our guide says that we have to be at the bus by 5 PM, but sooner would be better, as busing through
traffic is not a fast thing here at rush hour. So, if all of us arrive early, then we leave early. Makes sense, right!
OK, thanks again for sharing this adventure with me, thanks for the feed back and the questions, etc. And,
welcome to the new people from our group. All of us are carrying computer things of some kind, so we can do
the share thing as we go. After dinner last night, I did the share thing, and added two of the new people. At
breakfast they said the share worked great, so we are good to go, assuming I input the email addresses in
correctly! It is 4 PM here, which means it is 3 AM back home, I think, so many of you will find this in your
morning mail check! Hope you will enjoy starting your day with images from Bangkok!! We have a great group,
and we are seeing really neat stuff!
Happy Tracking,
Tom

Evening Report:


Trip Trackers,

This is gonna have to be a fast share, as it is already past midnight, meaning I will share a few memories with
you real fast, then I am off to get some sleep. It is after midnight, so this is actually the 10th, but what I want to
share is a few images from the warm up show some of us went to last night, the 8th! I think. I am getting all
these days mixed up, but. Anyway, some of us went to a dinner and show on the 8th. Dinner was a buffet,
which I much enjoyed, as I tried some? Was good. Was all veggies, with lots of great flavors! Food here is
awesome!  After the eats, we went to the warm up show, saw some neat costumes, etc, took some photos,
then was time to head in for the real show. But, had to turn my camera in, before I went into the show. I was
not the only one. Everyone with a BIG camera had to turn it in, get it locked up, then we could go inside.
ABSOLUTELY no photos in the show! More later, but in a short, it was the most awesome stage show I have
ever seen. Might be others as good, but I have never seen them! There was a river on stage, people jumped
into it, rowed boats in it, etc. There was action everywhere all the time. Had an elephant in the show, people
flying through the air, goats, fireworks, thunder and lightening!! And the list goes on. And, in the end, I was one
of the people chosen to go down at the end of the show and lay a floating flower arrangement on the river and
send it on its way! Was just and amazing show!
Today we drove to a point where we boarded some long boats, which took us on a canal ride, to a floating
market area. I took a lot of images, and can share some here, then more later! Was another awesome thing to
see! Then from there, we were off to see another temple thing, then back to the hotel. One of the ladies here,
and I took the two hour massage option at 4 PM. Was great! Cost 700 units, plus 100 unit tip, for an 800 total.
Which at 30 to 1, is less than 30 dollars! I think. I just made it back to the hotel lobby in time to go grab my
camera and join the group going to the dinner cruise! I cannot really brag about the cruise and food, but it was
good and fun was had by all who went! It was good, but not off the wall great, if you know what I mean.

OK, now it is time to share some images and get some rest. People have been asking about the gold here.
There is lots, but I do not know which is which. I do know the first big Buddha we went to see was 18 k gold. It
was solid gold, or near so. There might have been a little hollow area inside, but since someone asked about it,
I asked my guide about the weight of it this morning.. He said the Buddha is 18 k gold, and weighs 5.5 tons.
You figure out how many ounces that is, then multiply that times the price of gold, and you will get gold value of
this Buddha! It will be a big number! As for most of the gold things we have seen, they are only gold colored,
via the use of gold glass, gold leaf, gold tile, for even just gold paint!

OK, I am going to end the stories here, attach some images, then get some rest. We are to have our bags out
at 0645, then be on the bus at 0730.. Have a long day of moving tomorrow! So, stay tuned.

Also, WELCOME to the new people who signed on to the Trip Tracker list today!

Happy Tracking!
T
Jan 09...
This was an amazing day!! For anyone traveling to Thailand, they have to see what I saw this
day!
My group started the day with a big breakfast, then took off on one of our daily bus rides.
On the ride, we stopped for a roadside potty stop and some tourist shopping! The highlight for me
was the coconut candy, which I will learn is a very common thing made here and sold to tourist!
And, it is good!
Our next adventure this day was a ride in some canal runner boats that zipped us by some most
interesting views of life in this area. And, we completed out ride at a huge shopping center that
was as much on the water as it was by the water! You will have to see the photos to appreciate
what I am saying!
After the shopping adventure, we were met by our tour bus and got back on the road to adventure!
Next stop was another of the amazing temple areas we have been exposed to here!
From the temple, we are bused back to our hotel to freshen up a bit, then for the ones who paid
extra to do so, we were bused to a river boat that would provide us with a fun buffet dinner, while
seated on the front deck of the boat!! The amazing part for me was the lighting on the bridge and
the lighted buildings! You will understand my interest when you see the images! There are lots, and
this is after I removed a lot!!
The dinner cruise was our last adventure of this very long day! Was great fun!! Hope you enjoy my
memory files.
Jan 10... Note to Family and Friends:

Family and Friends,(Morning edition)

Greetings from Bangkok, Thailand, again! I am here a little early today, because we had a very busy morning,
then a long break. Our morning tour got us back to our hotel around lunch time, but then nothing was planned
that I know of until 5 PM, when most, if not all of us will go to a dinner show. Not sure what that is all about, but
guess I will find out soon.
First things first, several people in my tour group found out I was doing sort of a blog thing each day, which
gives me a chance to share my adventure with family and friends, via a short summary of what is going on, and
then that is backed up with some photos from the day. I can do that now much easier and faster with the new
camera, as it has wifi in it, which makes all the difference in the world when it comes to moving images, etc.

I want to start this share by saying  WELCOME to the new people who have joined the Trip Tracker group...
They do not know about the location tracker yet, but I will share that with them soon!
I normally do not do the share thing until the travel day is over for the group, but since we had a big morning, at
a really neat place, with lots of things to take photos of, and the fact that we had some down time, the fact that
we only get to take photos part of the time tonight, I chose to jump ahead here and share some samples from
the fun we had this morning! Then, if there is anything really neat from tonights event, I will consider sending
samples of that as well.

I am limited to 50 images per email, I think. So I picked out a bunch, and reduced the bunch! I think there are
now 48 to share this time! As usual, when I have more time, I will prepare and share the larger sets....
It is now going on 4 PM, I need to get this sent out, and finish getting ready to meet the group for our fun this
evening. Our guide says that we have to be at the bus by 5 PM, but sooner would be better, as busing through
traffic is not a fast thing here at rush hour. So, if all of us arrive early, then we leave early. Makes
sense, right!

Ok, thanks again for sharing this adventure with me, thanks for the feed back and the questions, etc.. And,
welcome to the new people from our group. All of us are carrying computer things of some kind, so we can do
the share thing as we go. After dinner last night, I did the share thing, and added two of the new people. At
breakfast they said the share worked great, so we are good to go, assuming I input the email addresses in
correctly! It is 4 PM here, which means it is 3 AM back home, I think, so many of you will find this in your
morning mail check! Hope you will enjoy starting your day with images from Bangkok!! We have a great group,
and we are seeing really neat stuff!
Happy Tracking,
Tom


(Evening Edition)


Friends and Family,

Greetings again! Time to share more of the fun being had on the Thailand Adventure! But, first things first! I
want to welcome the new people who joined the Trip Trackers today!!! We got six new ones this day!!!! So,
they get to follow along with us and read stories of the great adventure!

As usual, it is getting late, so gotta make this short, which will be easy today, as we were sort of moving fast,
stopping for photos and bathrooms, then moving on. Speaking of moving, today was moving day! We left our
hotel in Bangkok at 0730 and hit the road. When the action was over, we were in our new digs in  Phitsanulok.
Our new home, for tonight only is the Topland Hotel. I think I got an upgrade!!! My room has a sign on the door
that says, Business Suite! Go figure! It is nice, it is big, and, there is some fruit on the table, for me to snack on
if hunger becomes an issue!!! One photo of the room is in the share set!

At 0730 we got on the road. Somewhere along the way, we started stopping and doing the famous TEMPLE
HOPPING! Very popular here! I think we stopped at three different places, lost count! But, I have photos of
each, which is being shared. Each place is unique, so. And, speaking of unique-different, the bathrooms where
we have been stopping for potty breaks, have the men's urinals outside on the back of a building! Out House of
sorts. Photo of this is included!

I do not remember enough of the details of the temples to share them here, so, no info to share, except to say
that the most unique one, in a novel way, is the one where the place is covered in moneys, begging for food....  
Will share more of the story in the summaries shared later... But, I was impressed to learn that the monkeys
use the railroad to travel... The monkey temple is next to a railroad.. Our guide suggested that people say
some monkeys catch the train, and ride it to?, then later, they catch another train which brings them back!
There is more to that story, but. Pretty interesting, if it is true!

And, on final note. What do people do on the bus between temples, on a long day of bus riding!!! Not sure
about other bus people, but today was unique on our bus.. Seems some of our travelers are very musical!
Seriously. One lady bought a new ukulele in Bangkok. Today, she and our younger crowd, gathered at the
back of the bus and did sing along songs, for miles! Great fun was had by all, at the back of the bus! I missed
out on it, but. Could hear a little of it.. As for those of us closer to the front, we took on bigger challenges!
Started chatting about name brand watches, such as Rolex, and how they compare to more popular 10 dollars
watches many  of us were wearing today. That conversation moved to how people met, which lead to a
conversation on opera music!!! It started with the two people behind me, who met on an opera tour in Europe
to the Gouguenheim Opera House, etc. Big opera fans, then from across the isle came the comment from
Carol, who said I played violin in the Gouguenheim for four years!   With that, the gates on opera were
opened.. On one side of the bus were two people who loved to listen to opera, and on the other side of the bus
sat the lady who played  violin in the opera thing in German for four years, I think, then she played the violin in
the St Louis orchestra for near 30 years.  So, if you can imagine the range of entertainment we had available
on the bus today, you can imagine how much fun we had!!!! Was a good day.. Tomorrow is another moving
day, and I am guessing the interested parties here can hardly wait to get back in the action tomorrow!
Wakeup call is at 0630, bags out at 0715, bus leaves at 0800. OK, time for some sleep!

Stay tuned for more excitement from the Adventure Bus, currently on tour somewhere in Thailand!
Happy Tracking! To the new people, to see the prep for this trip and other info offered to the other Trip
Trackers, go to my website, go to the bottom of the home page, click on the link that says Thailand In Work...
T
Jan 11... Note to Family and Friends

Family and Friends.

We did it again, we have added a new Trip Tracker to our list!!! So, welcome to the new person that joined the
fun today... We have a great group of people on this trip, and there is many of them now on the Trip Tracker
list! Which is great! Hopefully they are forwarding these notes and memory photos on to their friends and family!
The more the better!!! Its all about having fun, and we have been having great fun with this group... On the way
here, I was reading an E-book, and in it there was some words of wisdom. One saying in particular caught my
eye. It goes like this: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but
people will never forget how you made them feel.!"   By Maya Angelou... I shared that because it feels great to
be with a bunch of neat people working and playing together in a way that promotes something really good in
those around them... Long after this trip is over and the statues, etc, are forgotten, we will all remember those
that made us feel good while we were sharing this unique adventure together!!! I think it amazing that so many
of us can live together like gypsies, moving frequently, traveling many miles on a bus, loading and unloading,
rushing in and out of bathrooms,  packing and unpacking, etc, and still look forward to more of the same
tomorrow! Way cool!
OK, enough of the chit chat. Lets talk travel and adventure!!! This morning, we were like Navy Seals, we were
up early, readied for travel quickly, fed ourselves, put our bags out, loaded on the bus, and when all the bags
were secured, we were gone!!! We did this all like quick-quick! Actually, we have to do the QQ thing again in
the morning... Our first few adventure days were easy, as we were base-camping in one hotel, now we are
going fast as if we were running from the law! No, problem, we can handle it, but, there is a BIG difference in
your day when you have to pack and unpack, every few hours!
This day was a travel day, but we managed to do some tourist stuff along the way!!! And, yes, I have photos to
prove we were there! First, we stopped at a place that makes the Buddha statues!!! That is an interesting
experience!!! We did not get to see the whole process, but we did get to see all the pieces that are produced at
each stage of making a Buddha. It is a very complex and time consuming process... There are many steps that
involve plugs, molds, remolding, melting, scraping, cleaning, polishing, gold leafing, etc.. And, these people take
this Buddha stuff real serious. There are big signs all over this country, warning people not to use a Buddha for
decoration, or use it in anyway that not be in keeping with the true intent of a Buddha.. You cannot take one out
of the country, as I understand it. They are for sale, and people buy them, but for me to buy one, pop it in my
suitcase to bring it home with me, is a real NO-NO!!!  They x-ray travel bags etc at the airport, looking for
people trying to sneak Buddha out of the country!!!! Bad news if you get caught! I have no intentions of ever
having one, but I should learn more about this Buddha thing!!! Sounds serious!
After the Buddha Factory visit, we are on the road again.. And I think our next stop was a historical park,
meaning there was more temples to see!!! What got my attention was the fact that the 5.5 ton gold Buddha that
we saw on our first day, was originally in this park. We saw where it use to set!!! Amazing... When it come time
to move it, it was so heavy, they cut it into 9 parts, so as to be able to move it!!! HEAVY! And, for this park, we
were put on two trolley cars, for moving around the park.. Was working pretty good until we were coming down
the home stretch, when under out from under our trolley came a loud bang.. I mean loud!!! The second thing to
come out from under the trolley was a big chunk of the trolley!!! It looked to be a universal joint!!! No matter
what it was, that was the end of our riding, from here we were back to being pedestrians!!! Lucky for us, we
were close to the shopping area!!! The shoppers could do two things at once. They could shop, and they could
fulfill their mission of getting to the bus!
At noon time, we were taken to a lunch thingie, where a small lunch buffet was set out for us to use, if we so
chose. It was there to consume, if we wanted to pay for it. This meal was arranged by the tour company, but
not paid for by the company! Our tour company is a BARE-BONES operation.. And, to make the price of the
adventure look cheap, they omit a lot of the items you will want or need!!!! For the most part we get a hotel,
transportation, and an escort.. The rest comes out of our pocket! And, it pretty much doubles the advertised
price! Our lunch today was good! They even offered a special adult beverage that many of us tried, that turned
out to be quiet good!!! Yummy! Plus, we had the other normal stuff!
From the lunch experience, we were off to a pottery museum, then a family type museum, then to our new
hotel!!! WOW, what a shock. There was a BIG drop in quality here!!! We have been use to the good hotels..
This one is very challenging! Twin beds only, no coffee pots, barely any running water... The hot water in the
bathroom is just barely warm. And, there is no water pressure to speak of.. I did manage to get a shower, but
barely. I used only the water from the hot side of the mixer. Did not need any cold water to mix in.. There are
other short-comings, but, we will survive, as we are out of here at 0800. Tomorrow morning, like this morning,
we will get a wakeup call at 0630, then we are to have our bags out at 0715, then be seated on the bus at
0800. We have places to go and things to do!!! Surely the next place will be better.. I can say, the food I got
here this evening was very good! So, something good came out of all this! OH, and tonight was pay--up night
for all the extra excursions we took, tonight was the night to pay for them. Our leader had a laptop and a credit
card machine, etc.. We lined up, paid, and took off to dinner!! Many of us ate in the hotel... Was good...
I have grabbed some sample photos from our day, and attached them here!!!! I hope it will give ya an idea of
what we saw this day!
OK, it is now well after 11PM, and 0500 is going to come early! I just hope we still have some warm water to
shower with in the morning!  The buffet breakfast will be open at 0600, I hope to be there when it opens!!!
Stay tuned. More action ahead.
T
PS. Please forward these messages and photo shares with others who might be interested, and, if anyone has
missed, or does miss, any of the days, let me know. I can forward the missed days!!!
Jan 12... Note to Family and Friends:

Friends and Family,
Greetings! I am here to report that I/we are alive!!! Yes, we have been gone from the stage for a couple a
couple of days, but I am super happy to report that we are doing well... Well, WELL, is a relative term!!! It is
now Jan 14, and I am here to play catch-up, a little . Would have been better if I could have stayed up to date
as we moved along, but that was not to be. The sad truth is we were doing really well with hotels and food until
we arrived at our hotel on the evening of the 11th, I think it was. As I recall that is when the air started leaking
out of our balloon. It had deflated a lot by the time we at breakfast on the 22th.   Always we have had a great
buffet breakfast, but not this morning. We had three little pre-set menu choices to choose from! The Americana
seemed to be the favorite, and it only survived because they would let us leave off the hog meat and put on a
salad. This worked out pretty good! So, we have food in us. Now, there has to be some fun in a day, or it is a
lost day. And, our most loved little Pat provided the entertainment for this day! Well,  I should say for the early
part of the day! While sitting across from me at breakfast, she announced she needed to go to an ATM
machine! And, she wanted me to be her assistant for the task! Loving a challenge, I accepted.

At 0645 we left table with agreement to meet back in the lobby at 0715. I think we were to be on the bus at
0800.. So. We met and we asked the people at the front desk for directions.. The directions said go out the
front of the hotel, go to the street, turn left, go to ATM. How hard can that be! It has to be just up the street!
So, off we go. We went left and walked and walked and no ATM. However, there was  a huge street to cross. I
crossed the first half of it, but Pat would not cross. So, I went back. She says she does not need money that
badly! So, we go back to the hotel. WE DO NOT GIVE UP! I asked for directions again. This time the man
draws a map for us!!! And, off we go again! Indiana Jones has nothing on us, we are going to find this darn
thing, no matter what! Turns out, following the map takes us just 50 yards up the street to a huge parking lot,
and inside the parking lot, on the right side is the darn ATM! Who would have ever guessed! Ok, we found it,
but we also found that PAT did not have a clue how to operate it. Neither did I to be honest, but, we managed.
And we got her money, she was soooo happy. Was fun just to see her reaction to her success!!! Must have felt
really good. She was Big Smiling all the way back to the hotel.. In fact she was so charged, she did not want to
stop moving. We had about 15 minutes left, so off we went to the right of the hotel.. Had to work off some of
that charge she had before getting on the bus!

We are all on the bus, just like good little soldiers, and away we go. Our first stop is a pineapple farm! I have
never been to one, so this is a first for me.. But more fun than the pineapple farm is the pineapple farmer!!! Now
this guy I took a like'n to. He set me up with his props so I could take photos of him and the props them me and
the props. This was followed by a walk in the pineapple field, a little chit chat about the trees around his home,
and then his home itself!!! Looked like it belonged in the movie Deliverance! A man one once said you could
throw a cat through the cracks in the walls!! Those are big cracks!!! Well, no matter, it was this mans home and
it worked well for him and his location on earth.. Would not be very good for Fargo, North Dakota, but. OK, you
know what I mean. But, we did get to go up the stairs and take a peek inside. Now the fun part comes when I
tell you what you would never guess by looking at it. There are photos. But, the house is worth a small fortune!
Why, because it is solid teak!  Price his home in lumber at the saw mill and you will get a big number!! At one
point our guide asked how much it was worth!! I have to wonder at the answer, but the man said he would sell it
for 5000 US dollars, but you had to come get it and take it away!
The best part of the visit for me was in the way he processed each pineapple. I tried to show the steps in the
photos, but I think it only gives a few clues! I will explain more later.. I need to try it myself to see if I can do it..
Then, I will tell what I know!!! It beats hell out of the other ways I have seen people process a pineapple!
Maybe I should do a video for YOUtube!!!

On down the road we drove through some mountains, made couple of coffee stops, etc... At at one stop, we
found a toilet paper machine!!! See photo!!!! Funny stuff here!!!

Then there was a biggie.. We stopped at some place I was not expecting. Seems we're going to be doing a
boat ride!!! While waiting, I watched a guy taking the inside out of a coconut without breaking the meat of the
coconut!! Looked great. The idea was to buy one, stick a straw in it, and suck out the juice.. I had to do it, and
did.. Cost 50 units. Was good! And, I think I was supposed to be able to eat the meat, but I did not have time to
mess with it. Ditched the meat and climbed on board the boat. Where were we going? First it was just a little
boat ride, but then it headed for the far side of the river! And a boat dock! We landed our craft, and within about
5 minutes, we were standing in LAOS! Yep, we just added another country to our list! Hope nobody finds out I
did not use a passport to get in or to get out! There is no stamp in my book!!! But, no harm done.. I just got my
official photos there, drank two of their adult beverages and then headed back to the boat!
But, that is was not the end, there is more!! Our guide mutters something about another stop, etc. I cannot
understand him, so I just go with the flow!! Off the bus we go, and off I go, behind some group that looks like
they know where they are going! I don't think they did know, but who cares, there is safety in numbers!
Then, just when I am about to give it up and head back to the agreed upon meeting point, our guide comes by
with several people following him. Yes, it is only natural that I should follow the crowd! Why not! Its free and I
have nothing else planned for the next 45 minutes!

This little group I have joined goes into a covered shopping area, winds though some dark and dangerous
areas, then emerges into an open area with a big fancy sign at the other end! Big fancy signs always mean
something!! What does this one say! It says that it is at the Northern Most End of Thailand! REALLY! We need
photos here, and photos we got, sort of. Was a real hassle to get photos in a hot spot like this. Seems
everyone wanted a piece of this action!! To make a long story shorter, we/I got some memory photos here and
looked around.. Actually, on the back side of the sign, and across the creek below, is MYANMAR! We were
soooo close! Just a few more feet and we could have been in three countries in one day! WOW!

OK, we said goodbye to the border, made our way back to the meeting place, jumped on our bus when it
arrived, and headed off to our hotel. Given that I have traveled a lot with this company, they try to get me a
better room, if available. Tonight was supposed to be one of those nights. Nicer room, maybe some fruit, etc.
Well, our bus landed, we got our room numbers and keys. I had to get help finding my room, as it was in a
separate part of the property! Would have never found it on my own! Once inside, I saw a bowl of fruit! Great.
And the room looked nice. Not better than the rest, but nice. That is where the fun ended. I got my clothes
washed and hung to dry.. Having said that, I noticed the water was not much more than warm, and wondered
what was going on, but, then I started water running in the tub. Went off to do other stuff, and came back. I had
a tub of water, but it was cold, or near cold. I called for help. It arrived twice! The last helper said they turned
the heater on. Wait 20 minutes and try again. I did. No real help! And, while this fun was happening, I noticed I
was about to freeze! I could not change the controls! I called for help again! It arrived. It could not understand
English.. But, it called the office and an English speaking person talked to me. They said they could not fix it this
evening. I should pack up and get ready to move! I did. A little Tuk-Tuk? Came got me and moved me to the
main building, and to an average room! It had some challenges as well, but it did have hot water and it was not
freezing cold, why! Because the air-conditioner in the room did not work!

OK, so I finally have a bed to sleep in, though it is just an extension of the floor.. I think when they redid the
floor, they had some material left over and just decided to cover the bed as well.. I am sure the floor would
have been softer than the bed,, but... At midnight, and after a long day, I could have slept anywhere! And, did.
The hard bed was not much of a challenge. I tried many times to check my internet, only to learn that it did not  
work anywhere except in the reception area, in a separate building. One lady said she got some internet, but for
the rest of us, it is no go.  What a dive! But, given time, everything changes.

OK, I will stop there. It is now near midnight on the 14th. And, I have to get on the bus at 0700 to go ride
elephants and do a river float trip, or something of that nature! So. Enjoy the photos from this day, and I will try
to catch up on the other days, soon. We are now in a much nicer place with real internet, etc.
Happy Tracking.
T
Jan 13... Note to Family and Friends:

Friends and Family,
Greetings again from Thailand! As I write this note to share with you, it is the 15th of Jan, I think. Am getting my
days mixed up, but I am playing catch up to share some of the fun and adventure my group is having as we
explore Thailand together.. Tis a great group that we have, so, fun is happening all the time... But, before I get
too far into this, I want to tell everyone that it was one year ago, on this day, that I had  double bypass heart
surgery, and here I am one year later, living it up with a great group of people. In fact, near the end of the day,
two of the ladies on this adventure treated me to dinner to celebrate my one year anniversary!!! Was very
generous of them and much appreciated by me. It was awesome to take the time to stop and celebrate being
alive, and healthy enough to do these adventures. To the wonderful ladies, Pat and Carol, who treated me to
dinner in celebration of my one year anniversary, THANK YOU! As I speak of celebrations, one will be coming
up soon for Pat, who just helped me celebrate my one year anniversary. She has her second year anniversary
coming up in July!! She too is carrying one of the big scars on her chest, as a badge of honor for the open heart
surgery she had not so long ago.. From her story, I can tell you her surgery was a much bigger deal than
mine!!! For Pat, they had to patch a hole in her heart, and do some valve repair!!! To me, that is real heart
surgery, and where my surgery may have taken three hours, hers was something like six hours or more. Bpth
of us are lucky to be here, and we know it, as we have both lost family and friends to similar challenges.. WE
have been blessed and we plan to make good use of the blessing!!!!

For a summary of this day, the action I was involved in was part of an "extra fee excursion"! The base price of
this adventure only covers so much, then a lot of the neat things to do are  EXTRA!!  This morning, those of us
who were interested, and paid the fee, are off to do some running around. Those who did not chose to do this
adventure found other fun things to do.. I think it was on this day that Ashley and Nick rented a motor scooter
and went exploring!! From the photos they shared with me later, they found some really neat places... And,
they did some hiking as well.. The hike would have been too much for many in our group, but, the park and tea
fields they went too would have been great for the rest of us, maybe as an afternoon thing!! ...
Ok, back to the action.. We in the extra fee group get on our bus, early, drive to a gas station type place, do a
potty stop, then load into some people movers that have been hired for this trip... The plan is for us to go up
into the mountains and see the native people, and view samples of their life style.. That was the plan, and we
did it.. We piled in these blue pickups, with shells and benchs, and away we went!!! I do not think any of this
would have passed the safety test back home, but.. When in Rome, do as the Romans do... Maybe that
applies or not..  I just thought it might, so I threw it in... But, truth is, it was a bit edgy for what most people are
use to!!! That said, there were no issues!!! Was a good ride!!! At the first village, we mostly just walked around
and looked at houses, and tried to do deals with the natives.. Yes, in all these places, the people have learned
to sell to the tourists!!! And, they do a pretty good job at it.... I stuck to my photo work while the others tended
to the shopping issues... At this village, we just walked up the main road to the top of the hill, then back to the
pickups. Then, we were back on the road... This place is one of those places where photos are better at telling
the story than words can do... So, I will leave the story to the photos....

From village one, we moved to village two, where we met up with the Long Necks!!! I think all of us have heard
of these ladies and most likely saw then featured in publications such as National Geographic, etc... Truth is, I
did not know the Long Necks were from Thailand!!!! Don't know where I thought they were from.. Maybe
Africa!!! But, no, they are right here and soon after the pickup stops, we are off to meet them... But,
impressions change fast!!!! My impression of these ladies is that if we met them, it would be in a natural type
setting, such as a village, etc.. But, that was not the case.. So.... We got out of our transportation, looked
around a bit, and realized we had been delivered to another shopping area!!! Yes, there was a village attacted
to it, but... Standing in the parking area, what ones sees ahead to lots of shack type places where people have
merchandise piled all around, for sale... The first group we came to was not charging a fee, just to look, but
shortly after that, there was a pay station where a man was collecting 200 units of money, approximately 6 US
dollars,  to go into the next area, where the Long Necks had their little booths set up to sell their goodies.. They
sold several things, but mostly they were selling scarfs!!! All were the same as far as I could tell... They were
weaving them themselves, or so it appeared.. Because the weaving is such a slow process, I have to think
there is a factory somewhere that is doing the bulk of the work!!! Maybe not, but... So, I pay my 6 dollars, and
join the gang in walking through the booths and taking photos of the Long Necks.. They come in all ages.. There
were babies all dressed up for the event, as well teenagers, and the grandmother types... I got sample photos
of them all, I think....
After walking thought the booth area, and getting our memory photos, it was time to head back to the trucks,
and then back to the bus, which drove into town and dropped off those of us who wanted to explore a bit
there.. We were given an hour to eat lunch, play or whatever, then the bus would be back to pick us up.... It is
a long story, but we did manage to get some food, and even some ice cream!!! Then it was back on the bus
and back to the hotel...
Right away after getting off the bus, I discovered the bar, and went in!! Inside was Nick and Ashley, who were
getting beverages to take outside somewhere.. I sat down, had brew to celebrate the day, chatted with the
bartender, who spoke great English, then I too took off. My goal was to find the pool, and I did, but oddly, it
was far away, it was cold water, and nobody was in it!!! Wonder why!.. On my way back to the room, I met up
with Pat, who was doing her health walk.. I joined her for one loop of her route, then I was off to take my nap!!!
At about 5:40 PM, I think, the phone rang, and it was Carol, checking in on me for dinner!!! I met the ladies at
the restaurant at 6 PM. We were seated, we were offered a buffet or a menu for direct orders... We chose the
buffet.. And, about the time we started, we were joined by Gordon and Christine.. So, we had a great group to
share dinner!!! When we were completely stuffed, Pat and Carol paid the bill and off we went.. Once in the
lobby, I again expressed my sincere appreciation for their gift to me this day. They did buy me dinner, but more
than that they gave me their time and their love. It is people like Pat and Carol, that you want to surround
yourself in all ways, as you go through life!!! Wonderful ladies!!!
Back in my room, it was time to prepack, as we would be going on the road again the next moring!!!
I am sharing a few memory photos with my note.. Hope you enjoy sharing our adventure...
Happy Tracking...
Tom
Jan 14... Note to Family and Friends:

Friends and Family,
Greetings again... !!!! I am rushing along here trying to catch up with the present, which is Jan 15, 2016.. A few
days ago, we landed in a hotel that was a challenge, in many ways!! We survived it, and now we are on the
better side of this adventure!! Right now I am sitting at my desk in the corner of a room overlooking the
swimming pool, some 19 floors below!!! Truth is, it is dark out, but with glass walls on two sides of me, I got to
watch the sun go down and the city lights come out to define the streets and the traffic on those streets!! Was a
great sunset, one which I could watch from my room!!! And, I am guessing that my travel buddies are down
there in those lights somewhere, living it up... Right across the street from the hotel is a massage business,
which gets a lot of business from hotel guests, including from our travel group!!! More on that later!! It is now
nearing 9 PM and I want to get caught up a bit while I have some free time... We had a great day today, but it
was only about half a day, the other half I have used for catching up... So, lets get to that part... Then back to
today..

On the morning of the 14th, yesterday, we did our buffet breakfast, loaded up early and fast, then got on the
road... Our day will be anything but the norm... First stop is a a place built by an artist, who made a lot of
money doing something somewhere in the world, then returned here to his home town, and built this amazing
and unusual thing.. I think it is called the White Temple!!!  I do not even know where to start when it comes to
describing it!! So, I am just going to share some photos, and move on.. Hopefully the sample photos will give
you a glimpse of the whole thing, then when you get to see the full photo review, you can have the whole
show!!! But, it is just amazing.. A real attention getter!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
From the temple we were back on the bus and logging miles towards our new home.. On the way, our guide
had the bus stop along side the road, where our guide bought some sticky rice, cooked in bamboo.. As we
rolled along down the road, the guide unrapped the purchase and shared it with us!! WOW.. Good!! Sticky rice
plus coconut milk, and other sweet ingredients, cooked in a bamboo tube is awesome!!! These people do know
how to make food taste good!! And, they can eat it without getting fat!!! Figure that one out!!!!
After the sticky rice, we stop at a Hot Springs area... Again, it will take a lot of images to show the whole thing,
but this place has a lot of hot water.. One lady was cooking eggs in it.. Further up, people like us were soaking
their feet in the hot water, and in one concession booth, of sorts, there was these fish tanks where, for 3
dollars, you could put your bare feet in the water, and the fish would remove the dead skin off your feet.. Yes,
many of us tried it and it is a very strange feeling!!! See photos!!!
We passed through a town that had unbrellas almost everywhere! Then we stopped at a pottery factory..
Stopped at noon, so workers were off to lunch, but we got to tour the place... Then it was time for our lunch!!
After lunch, we stopped at a jewelry business!!! More shopping!!! Then we visited a silk production, which came
with more shopping.. Followed by a visit to a silver shop where many things were produced in silver.. This also
came with more shopping.. I am not a shopper, but of great interest to me was the work the crafts people were
doing, and that we could watch.. I think the ones we saw were only there for show, as they were too slow to
make all the product being sold inside, but no matter, getting to watch them work was a treat for me... They
had these people at each of different craft areas.. Neat...
Then, after all the crafts and shopping, we made it to our hotel, but this was not the end of our day!!! For about
10 of us, we were back on the bus and off to a dinner show... To be honest, it barely rated as a dinner or a
show.. But, it was an experience... For those who did not go, count your blessings.. At one dollar, it would have
been over priced, but, it was an experience!!!!
Ok, this will be the end for this day... It was a long day, but good in its own way!!!!
I am allowed 50 images per email, I think, and I have those attached and ready to go, so let me send this out
and see if I can get the report for today ready... Hope you enjoy the memories of the adventure!!  Tomorrow is
the 16th, which I think is our last full day together.. If memory serves me correctly, on the 17th, we will be
splitting up and going different directions.. This adventure is odd in that for most of the trip, we are all together,
then near the end, the adventure splits.. Some will go to Cambodia, the others will go to Phuket Island.. I am in
the island group.. More on that later!!!
Tom
Jan 15... Note to Family and Friends:

Friends and Family!

I'm back!!! And, yes, I have another update to share with you.. This one is pretty neat!! Why? Because it has
elephants in it... Well, the elephants are not actually in the message, but I will chat about them, and then share
photos of our time with them, on this day!!! Of course I cannot speak for all who went on the elephant
ride/adventure, but I was super looking forward to it!!! There has been for many years, several things I wanted
to do while I was here on this earth, and one of them was to ride an elephant.. Now it is here!!! Today is the
day I will get to put another check mark on my "did it" list....
How does one get to ride an elephant? Turns out it is easy, these people are seriously looking for riders!!! As
the story goes, the elephants in this part of the world were used as work animals, mostly in the logging
business, in the jungle... But, so much of the jungle was being destroyed that the government had to step in and
do some protection work.. When the cutting of the forest was stopped, many of the elephants were out of
work... This is not good, given how much they eat, etc... Tis very expensive to keep an elephant if he/she is not
working and paying the feed bill.... So, what to do with all these elephants????? I do not think it happened all at
once, but little by little, the owners and handlers, transitioned from logging to tourism!! Instead of pulling and
pushing logs all  day, now the elephants walk along trails and haul tourists like me... Some say this is not good
for the elephants to be used this way... Honest truth is, I do not know.. To be honest, the elephants I saw seem
to be having fun!!! If I were an elephant, I think I would much rather hang out and play with tourist all day than
pull and push logs!!!!  The elephants we rode, were getting treats all the time...

Ok, lets back up. The easy way to get an elephant ride is to be part of a tour group, and let your tour
company/guide handle all the details.. There are other ways, but getting your guide to do it for you, as they did
for us, is the easy part.. Plus, they have checked this all out and are able to set you up with the better
operators!!! I forget how many elephants are working the touism business now, but the number is in the
hundreds, as I recall... The company we went with has over 100 elephants! Ok, so, we tell our tour company
that we want to do the elephant ride.. The guide contacts the elephant company, and sets it up... For us, our
tour company wanted us to on an early morning ride, while the elephants were fresh!! To do this, we had to get
up way early, do our morning stuff, and be on the bus at 0700!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We made it, but was not easy!! We
must have wanted to go bad to be doing such a thing!!!
Ok, at 0700, we're are on the bus and gone! Tis a fair ride to the place where we will do this adventure!!! But,
we finally arrive, go to the bathroom, and head for the riding area.. At the riding area there is a platform that we
had to walk up on, and wait in line to be picked up by an elephant... The way things are sit up, it is first come,
first ride.. The riding box is made to carry two people side by side, almost like a snow ski lift, if you have ever
seen one.. I understand that the fees charged are based on two people going on one elephant.. If you want to
go alone, you pay double, etc.. I did ride alone, but do not know how the money thing was handled.. I only paid
for one... How did this happen?? We had an odd number in our group, so I do the odd position, which was a
solo ride for me... Worked out great for photos, etc... I tried to get a few shots of each of our elephants, but not
sure I did... Will find out later! .....
We all manged to get on at near the same time, so we stayed together for quite awhile, until riders from other
groups got mixed in with us!!! The ride goes down a hill near the loading platform, it crosses the creek, gets on
a trail on the opposite side of the creek and heads off down the trail... Shortly after getting on the ride, we
passed some huts in the hills. My elephant handler told me the handlers lived here. Further up, we came to a
gas station for elephants!!! Not really, but close... They have little stands along the trail where riders can buy
sugar cane to feed to the elephant at the end of the trail.... The sugar cane is sold in little bundles of about 6,
six inch pieces, for 30 Bahts, or approx one US dollar...
When we got to the turn around point, my driver jumped off and went to the bushes to relieve himself.. That left
me all alone with the elephant!!! Since when do I know what to do with an elephant!!! Good thing the elephant
behaved itself or I would have had to jump out of the tourist seat, position myself around the elephants neck,
and bring this huge animal under control... Lucky for me and the elephant no emergency plans were called into
play... After the relief visit the driver said I could give the sugar cane to the elephant, whose name is Celium,
and who is a 35 year old female... she weighs two tons, or appox 4,000 pounds, and she is not one of the big
ones.. The big males go up to something around 8,000 pounds!!!  While Celium and I are doing the feeding
routine, my driver takes my camera and does my memory photos for me!!! They seem to have turned out
great!!! Needless to say, he/she and they, get a lot of practice at the photo thing each day!!!!! The
photographer and the model... The driver, Cep, tells me he and Celium have been together for five years!!! The
ride takes 50 minutes, and on an average day, each elephant makes 9 tours on this trail... So, the drivers do a
lot of memory photos!!!! And, once mine were complete, we joined the others in going back down the trail
towards the river.. We did cross the river and returned to the barn platform, we all unloaded and headed over to
the elephant preshow that was taking place not far away..  The preshow was great fun.. Most all of us got to
be lifted up in the air by an elephant, which used its trunk to hoist us up in the air.. See photos!!!... There was
other demo stuff, to include an elephant wash in the river, which I missed, and there were baby elephants to
play with, etc... Then the real show started.. I got a front row seat.. Was great!! But, it also meant you were
close to the elephants when they came around begging for more sugar cane or money!! They know what money
looks like and they want it.. They take it from ya, then hand to their handler!!! That is the money, if it is food,
they eat it!!!!  We saw tricks, we saw a small logging operation, and some elephants doing paintings!! Some
turned out pretty good!!! OH, and yes, the painting are for sale!!!

After the show  it was off  to the river, where we loaded onto bamboo rafts, which was an extra fee option...
With about 4 people on each raft, we set off like Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, heading down the river,
with two polers to move us through the curves, etc... At one point we saw a few elephants doing a bit of a
water fighting in the river, as they sprayed each other while they were in the water!!!! By the time we got close
to them, they had already moved out of the water and were gone....
We did meet people selling refreshments in the river!!! So, to help the seller out, I bought a beverage!!! ;-))
Then, I a little further down the river, the ride came to an end.... We unloaded again, got on our bus, and
headed back towards town.
On the way back we stopped for a great buffet lunch, and the opportunity to look at some beautiful orchids that
were growing at the lunch place, and we got to visit the butterfly house as well. Then it was back on the bus
and headed for our hotel,  but stopped to let people off at a Tiger Kingdom type place.. At first I got off the bus,
with the intentions of doing the tiger thing, but then I changed my mind and got back on the bus... Three people
went on with the tiget experience, and reported it to be a good thing.. They got to pet some of the big pretty
cats!!!! And, they have photos to prove it...
Back at the hotel, I set out to do some computer work and get caught up on my blog thing... Did not get all
caught up, but moved the task forward a couple of days!!! As I worked here at the desk, the day went from
bright and shinny, to a sunset, then darkness, then out of the darkness came the lights of the night!!! From the
19th floor, that is quite a sight to see!!!! And that pretty much ends the day for me... Others in our group
reported going to the night market, etc.. but, not me, I am not much of a night person!!! So.. I stayed in... Was
relaxing...

Ok, lets end this here so I can get some sleep.. Our group splits tomorrow morning.. It is now Jan 16, and we
split on the 17th.. I go to the airport with early group, and we fly to Phuket Island, the rest of the group fly later
and go to Cambodia.. ....... I have selected some sample photos of our day, and have attached them here!!!
Hope you enjoy the memories!!! Stay tuned!!
Tom
Jan 16..  Note to Family and Friends:

Family and Friends,

Greetings from Thailand!!!!!!!!!  This time this report is being writtten on Phuket Island!!! I just arrived here this
afternoon, with a small band of angels that chose this side of the split.. When families break up, some go left, so
go right.. Not sure which way my group went, but there is 12 of us from the original group who got up early this
morning, did our thing and survived the process of going through an airport, then flew from Chang Mai on the
north end of Thailand down to this island, which barely qualifies as as island... It is sooooo close to the main
land that only a small bit of water gives this place the right to call itself an island!!! Lord only knows what would
happen if someone used some gap filler and connected this place to the mainland!!! No matter, we are are here
and we will discuss the fine details later!
The point of this message is to share the adventure and excitement that was enjoyed by some of us on the
16th.. Today is the 17th, meaning I am behind on my stories!!! The 16th was a collection of FEE based
activities... There were two offers for this day, and I took both.. There was a Temple Hopping tour to start the
morning, then we assembled at a location were  we boarded more of those people haulers, which took us up on
a mountain, where another temple system had been built by someone famous, many years ago, after he let his
white elephant do a meditation thing, which lead to an elephant ride to the top of this mountain, where the
elephant walked around in circles for awhile, then dropped dead.. To the king, who was riding the elephant, this
was as good as it gets... This has to be a holy place, so the king set about building a huge religious complex on
the location, at the top of the mountain!!!!
In town this morning, our guide escorted us to more temples and told more stories.. At one point our guide
revealed to us that he too had at some point in time, joined the process of becoming a monk.. To be honest, I
never did figure out the monk thing, even after all the info I was given, but, our guide was one for awhile, and he
shared his personal account of how this came to be and why, etc.. And, he shared the proper way to pray, as a
monk, or meditate.. I never really understood that part, but it was interesting... It seems people can just pop in
and out of this monk business whenever they feel the time is right.. I know it is not that simple, but it is much
more flexible than I would have guessed, and it is much more serious than I would have ever guessed!!!!

After the in town tour, we boarded taxis and headed up to an access point for the White Elephant Temple..
Tickets were purchased, a tram ride was taken, and soon we  were standing in front of another temple!!! Does
the term OD'ed mean anything to ya!!! If not, send me an email, and I will get you info on it.. But, it was about
the time I got to the top and saw all the gold and buddhas, that I got the feeling of complete fullness.. I could not
absorb any more... I did look around, and I did take a lot of photos, but I realized everything looked just like
everything I had already seen in the days before... Beautiful work at all the temples we visited, but it really is too
much after awhile!!! I reached that point on this mountain.. And, this afternoon, while on my flight to Phuket
Island, I looked in the magazine in the plane, and saw photos of even greater temples than the ones I saw!!!
WOW!!! Who would have ever guessed!!!!!!!!!!! To be honest, I love these temple things, and have already put
this place on my re-do list, but my brain needs a rest!!! Really!!! So, I do plan to return, after I give my brain
some time to process what it has experienced!!!  At this White Temple, we rode the tram up, but took the stairs
down.. If I had it to do over, I would walk up and down...
We returned from the temple tour around 1 PM.. Then for the cooking class, we met in the lobby at 2 PM,
where we were met by our cooking instructor and his helper!!! I think we had seven students for this adventure..
We loaded into a small van, drove almost forever to get to a Thailand market, where we did the "ingredients"
part of the class.. From there we vanned over to the cooking school, where we found a really neat set up for
teaching these cooking classes!!! The details I save for later, but we did both demo learning, and hands on
learning.. When it was all over, each of us had made a soup, two main course dishes, and a dessert..!!!! Was
any or all of it good!!!?? You better believe it... We had a lot of fun and got great results!! Will we be able to do
the same at home?? I think so.. It seemed so simple!!!! I have a new love now, her name is Furn!! Our instructor
was named Pon, and he did a great job, and made it all fun, but the one who saved the day for me was the
helper, Furn. She was the one who got all our stuff together, kept our work places clean and neat, and was
there for me all the time to make sure I did the right thing at the right time, etc.. Not an easy thing to do, but she
did it, and the results were tastety!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  When all the cooking was finished, we ate the product of our
labor.. Was it good?? You better believe it.! WAS GREAT!!!! .... After the class and the eating was over, we
were each given a signed cookbook, written by our instructor!!! Have not had time to browse though it yet, but
did look at the the photos in it.. I think it is going to be a fun book to work with..
After the event was over, a designated driver took us back to our hotel, where we met up with a bunch of our
fellow travelers.. A bunch of us just seemed to be at the same place at the same time!!! Which was good, gave
us time to say goodbye to our buddies who go a different direct the next day..
In my room, I finished another update, sent it out, packed most of my travel bag, and headed for bed....  Was a
wonderful day!!!!

Ok, I grabbed some memory photos and attached them to this message.. Hope you enjoy..  Now it is time to
send this message out, then get ready for my first full day in Phuket, tomorrow!!! I have a neat event arranged
for the day, and it starts at 0830, and goes till about 6 PM.. Will be taking a high speed boat  to another island,
doing some snorkeling,  and other adventures, then back to this hotel.. This place is really nice.. It is the Novotel
Hotel on Phuket Island.. Located right across the road from the beach!!! But, as nice as it is, there is a real
nasty element to it that I will share later!!! Got photos of it this afternoon!!!
Enjoy the photos, and stay tuned, we have just a few more days to go to finish this side of the adventure.. I
hope our litte buddies who went to Cambodia are also enjoying their adventrue!!!
Tom
Jan 17... Note to Family and Friends:

Family and Friends,
The number of updates to share is getting to be a really small number, and I am only able to share the Phuket
Island side of this adventure.. On this day, the 17th, our group officially divided, with part going to Cambodia and
the balance coming here to Phuket Island... I did the Cambodia tour in November, so I took this side of the
divide this time... I suppose either choice would be good, if you had been to neither one. But, as for a return trip
in the future, I think I can already say the return should be to this island.. Not a lot to see, after you have done
the tourist thing, once.. The rest of the time you are just relaxing and vacationing in a warm place!!!

Ok, It is 7:42 PM, and I am just now sitting down to share more of the adventure being had, in part, here on
Phuket Island.. I do not know what the others from my tribe did today, but am guessing they found good fun
somewhere.. As I was returning from my excursion, I met two of the tribe, and they were headed to happy
hour!!! I think I was invited, but, I was too worn out to join in that kind of fun.. To be honest, I even passed on
dinner.. My room had another bowl of fruit in it, so I did an apple and an orange and called it a day, after the
shower and clothes wash, etc... I did a bit of swimming in the salt water today, so had to rinse things out, to get
them ready to go again tomorrow...
Back to the beginning of the 17th, I was up early, got my breakfast, got my bag out, and met our guide and the
rest of my tribe in the lobby... I/we handed over our tip money to the guide and driver, loaded on for the final
ride, and off to the airport we went.. Our guide, Peter, stayed with us until we all were checked in and ready to
go. At that point, he said goodbye and left!!! He had to get back to the hotel, meet the second bunch, who would
be headed to Cambodia at around noon.... Ya know, it would seem my lucky charm ran out of luck this day.. I
guess they can only hold so much, and when it is gone, it is gone!!! I always ask for a window seat on the
planes, and most always get one.. I like to take photos of the take offs and landings, the towns, then the
landscape as we move along... And, I really wanted a window seat on the flight here because there was to be
some really neat mountains, etc, to see as we flew this way... On a previous flight, I was unable to get a
window seat when I checked in, but the flight attendant found one for me later.... YEAH!!! Lucky charm at
work... But, this time, I was about the last person to check in, and the agent could not find a window seat for
me.. In fact, I got an isle seat!!!! Not good for photos!!! Some like isle seats, but not me.. They are of no use to
me...
As the plane was lifting off I could barely see past the lady at the window nearest to me, but I could see enough
to know I was missing some cool images!!! Cool mountains on a clear day.. Does not get any better than that...
I did manage to zoom my lens all the way out and grab a few images before things went downhill even further!!!
It is would seem the lady who had the great window seat, could care less about the view.. She closed the
window!!! Then curled up next to the guy she was with and went to sleep!!! Go figure!!! Yes, I could have asked
to trade seats with her, but from the looks of her, I decided it was not something that would go over well.. Some
people just have that look about them.. You know what I mean.. Well, she had it!!! So, I lost the mountains on
my side of the plane, but one isle and three seats away was the window to my right!!! BUT, the man who had
that position must have known I wanted to peek out, as he kept leaning his big head over in front of the window
to block it.. Then as if that were not effective enough, he put his elbow on the arm rest, with his hand stuck up in
the air.. I think he was picking his teeth or something... Then when that got boring to him, he took his left hand,
reached out and grabbed the back of the seat in front of him.. NOBODY does that!!! My lucky charm was more
than dead, it was sucking energy from the universe, meaning it was going
negative.. neutral was bad enough, but now, this negative stuff was getting old.. And, no, it did not improve with
time.. The ole bum sitting closer to me, that would be the middle position across the isle from me, decided he
needed a nap. And to nap, he chose not to lean his head back, but forward... !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! At that point,  I
gave up.. I knew then I was not working with positive energy, so why fight it... I gave up on the viewing options
and did a little reading on my tablet!!! AND, to add to all the fun, the lover to the lady next to my window, had a
BIG chew of gum, and he chewed it faster than I have ever seen anyone chew gum.. He was a fast moving
machine.. He was speed chewing when he arrived, and he was still speed chewing the last time I got a look at
him... Even if I missed seeing the mountains, I still got a lot of entertainment out of this flight! The flight lasted for
1.5 hours, if anyone cares about such things!!!!
The one neat thing on the flight was the little meal they served.. I cannot say the meal was great, but it was
good.. What I really liked was the cleaver way the little "hot pocket" box was designed.. You will see it in the
photos, but in short, it was wrapped like a banana, and to eat it, you held it like a banana, then torn off sections
of the box. I think there were three sections!! See photo.. Pretty neat idea!!!
On the ground in Phuket, we were met by a delivery person.. They were not our guide, etc, but had just been
send to the airport to collect us and bring us to the hotel, where our real guide, Aekky, was waiting for us.. The
ride from the airport was not short!!! Took about an hour of driving to get here!!! We made it, we met our official
contact person, and right away we discovered this hotel had a great view of the beach below!!! Everyone ran to
see it!!!  But, then it was time for business... Our contact person, gave us room keys, and about 45 minutes to
find our rooms, and come back to set up excursions... I have never left the lobby and gone down to get to my
room, but here, I did.. In fact it took two, or even three people to help me find my room.. It is at the bottom of
the hill that this resort is built on.. Never seen anything like it.. has three pools, stair stepped down the hill, and
rooms all over the side of the hill.. All the official stuff is at the top of the hill. Soon I learned that I was on the
bottom of this resort, and it was forever back to the office.. Thank heavens one of the other people in our group
pointed out to me that we have a shuttle service from our rooms to the office.. Just leave our rooms, walk
downhill a bit further, maybe 30 yards of walking, and there sits a shuttle and driver to bring you to the top!!!
And, if you are at the top, the shuttle will bring you down, via the road.. .. Ok, so we are in a nice place, but a
strange place....
We reassemble at the appointed time, we get our lecture, and by some odd stroke of luck, we get some
excursions set up, or at least I do.. I do not hear well, even with hearing aids, IF, the speaker does not speak
English very well.. I could only understand about one word out of five that that man was saying.. Very
challenging.. How we got though the business part is a mystery!!! I signed up for two full day excursions, both
were all day adventures by boat.. One to the area around Phi Phi, whatever that is, and the other was to the
James Bond Island.. Was not sure what either had to offer, but the advertising looked good, and the price
worked for me, each option was 100  US dollars per day!!! Would include some snorkeling, lunch, and some
beach time...
While all this is going on, it starts to rain. I learned my lesson in Rome, ALWAYS carry an umbrella, if you have
a camera! Rain jacket, etc, just do not work. I need to get some dollars changed to Bhats, so off I went to do
this.. Lucky for me, just across the street is a money exchange place!!! I went there, and did the exchange.. It
was 35 to 1, so I got a lot of their money for my mine!!! Then, I went next door to the mini mart, got some
beverages, and headed back to the resort, but the beach caught my attention, and I changed directions and
headed for the beach. I was also looking for the source of the nasty smell that was about to choke me!!! I found
it... All that looks like gold is not gold... I have found that in most all countries outside the USA, the air smells like
sewage.. Mexico is really bad for this, so is Peru!!!!~! Then, of all things, I found it here. The air around our
resort smells of sewage, really bad... And what is the cause?? Sewage dumping out onto the beach, among
other places... Just after I stepped onto the sand, I looked around, and there was a big open sewage pit.. A
little further out was a blue plastic pipe near the beach and out of it was coming sewage water, then it flowed on
to the open ocean, where people were swiming and playing in it as if it were not there!!! Further up the beach,
and behind the big beach sign, was another big sewage pit, with really nasty stuff floating around in it.. The smell
would just about knock you over!! And to make matters really disgusting, was the fact that just above the
sewage pit was a seafood restaurant.. The people who would be eating outside on the deck, would be looking
right down on the sewage... Crazy!! Yes, I took photos of all the sewage things I talk about here, and I share
them with you in this set... You will see the sewage, the sign, the pipe, etc, etc... Really nasty and smells
horrible... Cannot believe they are okay with this here near a resort.. But, they do have electric air fresheners in
our rooms!!!! Really, they do!!!!

Ok, in the rain, with my umbrella, I make it back to the hotel, and make ready for my adventure on the 18th... I
was kinda hurting for some photos to share, since there was not much going on, so I show more of my room this
time.. It is neat, and this time it comes with the towel art and the flowers.. I have seen this done several places
around the world.. Tis really cool.. The largest and neatest one I ever seen was in Costa Rica!! That one was a
huge work of art.. So... In this set you get to see the pretty towel art!!! Nice!!! Also, notice, that the shower wall
is glass, so it is a see-through from both the bathroom and the bedroom!!! Pretty cool... And the towels here are
neat.. Designed to have the resort name in a particular place when folded properly!!!  And, on and on it goes...
After all the moving in stuff was taken care of, I went up and ate at the resort buffet.. Had to get the hired help
to assist me, as I do not eat certain things.. They did a great job of helping me, and I ended up with enough food
for two people, or more!!! I think I have a photo of it all, in this share set... Speaking of odd things one will see
when away from home, this morning when we were leaving the hotel in Chang Mai, there was a lady outside the
hotel, with a tray of small cages. Each little cage contained a bird!!!!! I am not sure how this all worked, but
according to her sign, you could buy one of her caged birds, then, set it free for good luck!!! Now I am thinking I
should have bought one and released it so that I would have gotten that window seat!!!!! Whata ya thinks!!!
OK, I think that does it for the 17th.. It is now the 18th and the excursion I went on was great fun, but the
images for the day are on the little waterproof camera.. Not real sure how I am going to share yet.. Will have to
think about it...
OK, time to get ready for tomorrow it is almost 9 PM!!
Stay tuned. And.      To my people who went on to Cambodia, I hope you are having fun and enjoying the
temples! We will compare notes  when there is time to do so!!!
Tom
Jan 18...
Jan 19... Note to Family and Friends:


Friends and family,
WOW, what a great adventure this has been!! Neat places, neat travel buddies, lots of neat photos, lots of
great memories!! But all good things must come to an end, and this adventure is about to do just that.. It is not
over yet, but will be soon... That said, an adventure like this is really never over. Why, because lots of memories
were put in our mind that will live on with us to the end, and lots of new friendships have been created that
would not have happened, had we not been here!!! Yeah!!!

I have not sent out updates as usual, mostly because I could not take the big camera on the adventure trips,
here, and the images on the little camera are not so easy to share, from the road.. All this said, when I get
home, I put all this together and share it as the bigger story.. In that share, the images from the local adventures
will be included...

I need to do a correction here before I forget it... I made a mistake in the last update, but did not know it until
much later... So, what happened.. First of all, these adventures are fun, but as with the rest of life, there can be,
and will be challenges... Which brings me to this point.. Earlier I was talking about an electronic air freshner in
my room.. Turns out it was not an air freshner!!! How did I find out??? Night before last, I went to bed before
midnight, but woke up aroud 1:30 or 2:00 AM, feeling as if my skin was burning.. When I was finally awake
enough to evaluate the situation, I discovered I was being bitten by mosquitos, etc... I actually got up and put
insect repellent on me and went back to bed, but the body parts that were not protected got bite more... I got
up, called the office. They sent someone down and went to the airfreshner, which turns out to be a MOSQUITO
killer~~!! Problem was, it was not working.. The little insert was all used up or something.. So they put a new
one in it, left an extra for me, and they sprayed the room... This all happened around 0300... I finally got back to
sleep just before the alarm went off, around 5:00 AM...  I had never seen an electronic mosquito killer before,
so I only assumed it was an airfreshner!!!  Hummmmm! Some things you learn the hard way!!!

As for our/my adventures, for the last two days, they have been good fun.. Will share photos and more info
later.... But, I did the PHI PHI trip and the JAMES BOND trip, as did several others in this group...

I do have photos of the meals I have had here the last few days. All were good... And, last night I even went so
far as to get ready for the food back home.. I ordered a hamburger, fries, and a banana split!!! All were good,
and I made a new friend.. The lady who served me knew the area around where I grew up and where I live
now.. !!!!!!! Small world!! She has not been there, but has family and friends living there now, plus others training
there now in universities, etc.... She too plans to go there after her hospitaly training here is completed...

Since today is departure day, and I had nothing to do this morning, I slept in a bit, then started packing, etc..
Then, went to breakfast.. While in the lobby area, I paid my room charges and grabbed a few more memory
images of the area... I am adding them to this message.. They are just images in and around our lobby and pool
areas.... For those suffering in the cold and snow back home, I hope you enjoy seeing the warm water here!!! In
fact it is so warm here that after a few minutes of being outside, I am almost soaking wet with sweat!! Tis going
to be hard to come home to the snow and near zero temps!!!!!

Ok, I think that just about does it, except to say, we do not have to check out until noon, so I plan to use my
room until that time.. Our ride to the airport will be here at 1530. Then, we start the flights back home at 0105.
We change plans in Beijing, then head across the water to Los Angeles.. There I change planes again and fly on
to St Louis.. If all goes well, I should be back home by midnight on the 21st..... The one thing I am wondering
about is my place.. When I left it was warm, so I left the airconditionere running.. Now, it is near zero degrees
outside.. I am guessing I will have to use a lot of heat, fast, to get things warmed back up!!!!! :-))))
I have one last chore to do before leaving here, go find a place to change local money back to US money.. Hope
that is easy to do... There is a money exchange here close to the resort... Will go see what happens...
Generally I can finish off spending my local money through tipping, etc.. But, that did not work out this time.. So,
I get to find out if I can change back to US money.

Hope you have enjoyed following the adventure. Will share the bigger story sometime soon, I hope!!!
Happy Travels
Tom
Jan 20...
Jan 21...
Jan 04, 2016. WOW, today, I set off on another great adventure to see the world! And, at 2:51 AM,
I take my first photo for this adventure, just after I arrive in my local airport! But, who in their right
mind would get up around midnight to start such an adventure!!! Truth is, I am one of those people
who HATES to get up early, but will if I have to, and to do this adventure, I had to get up early. But
why! Again, as it turns out, I need to be in Los Angles on January 05, 2016, to catch the official first
flight of my official adventure. Per my tour company, I have to be at LAX at least 3.5 hours early, to
assure arrival, check in, and passage through security, then arrive at my boarding gate well before
boarding time. Yes, I made it, but. So, why do I talk about getting up so early! Answer is! When I
signed on for this adventure, which would start at 11:30 AM on Jan 05, 2016, there were no early
morning flights from my home town that could get me to LAX by 0800, or before, so, I had to go a
day early. To arrive at LAX at a decent hour, on the 4th, I had to get on the first flight out of my home
town, which, of all things was 0500, going to Chicago, connecting there to go on to LAX!!!

In Chicago, I found some really neat holiday decorations left over from the holidays! Awesome is
actually a better word than neat, but. So, in Chicago I catch my next flight and wing my way west
over Colorado and some of my other favorite places, then on to LAX. There I catch the shuttle to my
hotel, Travelodge, which I have arranged earlier. I like staying here for several reasons. It is close to
the airport, has decent rooms at a fair price, has a small breakfast of sorts, and is connected to a
Denny's Restaurant, which works for me!
Jan 05, 2016...
Today is the day to put this adventure into action. I am up early, I clean up and go to the small breakfast
that is offered by the hotel. Then, finish up activities at the hotel, check out, catch the hotel shuttle to the
airport, arrive before 0900, and start the process required to get through check in, security, and find the
gate!

Once in the air, we are served snacks and refreshments, etc. For those who do not know, wine and
beer are free, if you can stand to drink the stuff. Sometimes it is pretty good, other times it is soooooo
bad that nobody can handle it. Have encountered some of the worst wine and beer, in my life, on these
international flights! The wine and beer are available all the time, plus whiskey sometimes, along with
water, coffee, juice, and some snacks, etc. In a lot of cases, maybe all, the flight attendants will just
leave snacks and refreshments out on in the service areas, so that people can do self-serve as they
desire, during the middle of the night.

Today, we are in the air just before 4 PM. Eventually we get a refreshment, then later a meal. Meals
are served about every 6 hours. Nearing midnight, we fly over Alaska. In fact we fly just south of
Anchorage. I just happened to be on the right side of the plane with a window seat, and I managed to
get a few memory photos as we flew by. Oddly enough, Anchorage was the destination of my first day
of flying in commercial aircraft, I think. It was in November of 1976, if memory serves me correctly.
Should have been the first week of November. My roommate in college and I had the same birth date,
but different years. When I tracked him down this time, for our annual birthday chat, which might have
been on a Monday or something, I found he and his wife living in Anchorage. They had recently moved
there so he could take an engineering job, in the oil business. He insisted I fly up and visit. I made a few
phone calls, and that coming Saturday, I took off headed to Anchorage. Flew from St Louis to Los
Angles, then to Seattle, and on to Anchorage! From Seattle to Anchorage, there was free champagne! I
was in wonderful shape when I arrived! I was expecting my buddy to be living in an igloo, but turns out
he lived in an awesome townhouse! Had an awesome week of visiting and sightseeing. Now, just over
39 years later, I am flying past Anchorage, in middle of the night, looking down on it from some 37,000
feet above. My buddy moved back to the lower 48 states, and died of cancer on December 29, 2008.
As I recall, one year later, on the same date, his sister died of a heart attack. On June 3, 2010, another
of my buddies, who was in his mid- 40's, died of a heart attack while he was out for his health walk at
work, around lunch time. This sealed the deal for me. I had wanted to start doing some serious
traveling, and this made me take action. On June 16, I left home in my car, with the goal of driving the
Alaskan Highway, to Anchorage, and, I made it. I left in June and got back mid September. But, there
was more. As a matter of fact, in 2010, I had one of my biggest travel years to date.

In February of 2010, I left home headed to Florida for a cruise out of San Juan. I did the cruise, I toured
Florida, I spent a month in Oklahoma, I went to Arkansas and solo canoed 130 miles on the Buffalo
River. I drove to Alaska and crossed the Arctic Circle, before heading south again. I made it down the
west coast to the border of Mexico, then stopped by the Grand Canyon for the famous overnight mule
ride to Phantom Ranch, then headed home to St Louis. Realizing I had almost completed a criss-cross
drive of the USA in one year, I chose to complete the criss-cross.  I serviced the car, and headed for
the North East corner of the USA, and I made it! Encouraged by friends, I drove on to the north most
point of Nova Scotia.  At this point I headed home, but did not stop there. I went back to Oklahoma for
another month, returned to St Louis, and in mid December, I flew out for another cruise, from San Juan.
By the time I got back to my home address, the clock and the calendar were telling me it was Christmas
Day, and that Santa was out here with me somewhere in the middle of the night, delivering Christmas
presents.

As I flew past Anchorage this January night, all these memories came back to me. Tis amazing how
much you can remember and what you think of, in the short time it takes to fly past a town in the middle
of the night. From October 6, 2008, to October 6, 2010, I think it was 17 people in my social circle who
passed away, before they reached the age of 65. One of them, the first one I counted, was just 5 days
away from her 65th birthday, when cancer took her life. Since that two year period, I have lost several
others, and each time one dies, I move faster to do more traveling. On January 13, 2015, I had to have
emergency heart surgery, or I too would be gone. So, as I sat there looking out the window of that
plane, from 37,000 feet, with most all people around me sound asleep, my mind was buzzing with
memories and thoughts, as I stared at those lights below me.  I kept looking out the window at those
lights until I could no longer see them, all the time wondering why so many people had I met and grown
close to, were no longer here since the first time I saw those lights nearly 40 years earlier. And, yes, I
wondered why I was still here. Why had emergency surgery saved me, but not the others. Why had
they been given so little time. On each of my trips, I take time to be grateful for what I am doing. Not
too long after passing Anchorage, we reached the International Date Line, where we would end this day
and start the next.
Jan 06, 2016..
This day is just a misty foggy thing in my head. I love travel, even these long international flights in the
middle of the night, but trying to keep up with the clock and the calendar is not easy. Sometimes I just
have to make a few wild guesses about where I am at a give time! But, on this trip, we have one of those
back of the seat navigation things to watch, which I love, but it does little for the clock thing in my head.
That said, this time we did cross the International Date Line, so for this trip, I think I have the date and
time thing nailed down, even if I do not fully understand what I know.

What I do know is that we crossed the Date Line, so that is a good place to end one day and start the
next, but this does not always agree with what is going on in my head.. In my head, this is all just one big
long day! The clock and calendar will say otherwise.

On this leg of our journey, we will fly along until we get to see another sunset. I think it is a sunset. Looks
like one. Then, we get to stop in Beijing, China for an airplane change. Back in the air, we will continue
flying towards our destination, Bangkok, until it is feeding time again. We will eat, then wait. And since we
will be nearing midnight, Bangkok time, when we arrive, I stop this day before our arrival there! By the
time we land and get out of the plane in Bangkok, it will be January 07.
Area below this note is still in work....