It was inevitable

Yes, the day has come for us to fly back to Colorado. Tonight to Seoul and then the long leg to Seattle.

We stayed two nights in luxury and beauty at Dewa Phuket Resort, just south of the Phuket airport. Five minutes to the beach. Two pools. Wonderful spa massage staff. I had planned several weeks ago to get two massages before our departure — yesterday and today. Done.

I’m heart-broken to leave this beautiful, heart-warming country. Matan was right and we obeyed. The Thai language is a huge challenge and the alphabet is smashingly difficult: 42 characters, 15 diacritical marks. One would never be able to learn it. And all those curlicues? Huh? Leftovers from Sanskrit. But I would try.

Low costs, even low low low costs. We bought lots and lots of gifts. You will see.

Yes, this is Thai

Kecak

You don’t know this, but fifty years ago, while I was a grad student in physical chemistry at UC San Diego in La Jolla, I was banging around the library. Somehow I found a folklore recording of “The Ramayana Monkey Chant”, which I now know is the Kecak Dance. I was entranced, and listened to the tape cassette many times, finally making a pirate copy.

Now, I visit Ubud and we book tickets to the Dance. It’s exactly as I remember from fifty years ago: a vast choir of men chanting, no instruments. Bali men young and old, chanting in syncopated rhythms.

I was swept with emotion, and as I do, I cried. I was able to revisit my past memories for real. Wow!

There is a Chinese Beachhead

Don’t Panic! Stay Calm! It is true that there is a Chinese Beachhead on the Island of Koh Naka Noi. There’s clear evidence: multiple floating docks, many shelters (thatched and otherwise roofed), many support buildings, housing for Thai laborers (forced labor?).

We were eyewitnesses of the day’s last departure of Chinese occupiers. Many were wearing the signature chiffon dress of that division.

Sad, very sad. We were hoping for a day’s end Chang beer and a snack. Nothing to be had. Nothing. Closed. Shut. Segur. Geschlossen. Very sad for us. (The dock hands were, however welcoming and helpful — but no food or drink).

We returned to our boat and waited for morning, planning on avoiding the return of the occupying visitors.

Our embedded beach spy reports that many many boatloads of Chinese “visitors” arrive every day in the afternoon. What islands have they been reconnoitering? They take shelter under the thatches and are served some sort of food and drink. No one swims. Not one swimmer. (Well, the beach is really a loooong muddy sand flat anyway. No fun.

Then, just before sunset, they all leave on the boats again: mostly fast power boats, good at avoiding capture.

What are they doing?

Ral Lei Beach

Near Krabi, and the big resort area Ao Nang. Two nights here anchored off the west beach.

More boat trouble – electrical, maybe the refrigerator. Ah ah.

The morning was transcendental. We puttered around the crags and beaches. All quiet, all to ourselves.

The sport rock climbers were from UK.

The beach walkers Chinese. As the long boats go by, we are the objects of their Instagram.