Year 1986. I was accidentally given only 5 days on my visa. And here I was in Bangkok at the Train Depot. In Bangkok, to renew the visa one has to leave the country so I was informed that I could fo to Burma, Cambodia or to Georgetown in Penang, Malaysia to renew my visa. So I puirchased a RT ticket on the Night Train to Georgetown, on the Island of Penang, in the Adaman Sea in Malaysia passing along the Thai peninsula next to the Western Coast of The Gulf of Thailand.
On this all night train ride that left at 7 PM in the evening till noon the next day,,the train would repeatedly stop about every 15-20 miles and dozens of kids and young adults would come aboard the train selling water, chicken on a stick and other types of junk food and/or local food to the locas and the tourists.
One is taught never to accept any drinks (Alcohol) from locals or tourists on the train. They have been known to drug other tourists and rob them while they are passed out. I had a young Thai dude who kept asking me to have a drink with him. About 10 pm they make your bedding up for the night. The seats were of metal with cushions and rattled the whole night long ion the berth. I was on the top so it was more clanky than below me. A Hindu mother and young daughter were across from me and the child kept moaning and crying on and off the whole night. It was a long trip.
The next day I was up about 9 am and swatched the country side pass me by. Miles and miles of rice paddies and coconut trees and as we neared Yala at the Malaysian border we began to see miles and miles of Rubber trees with little buclets hanging on each tree tapping out the rubber excretions.
These are images form the train along that route. I could not find my rubber tree 2 photos but these were interesting foggy morning Malaysian images on the way to Ator Setar, Alor Setar, the state capital of Kedah, Malaysia.
I called this one the Breasts of Sheba??
When the train had a 10-15 minute stop, I got ogg the train to take pictures and saw some cattle along the tracks. They were Brahman dairy cattle, Box guarus. Then I looked down in the tall grassy area and saw both cubes and Copes. This is one image of two types of Coplelandia species next to one another in some tall grass. The one species has bell-shaped caps and the other has somewhat conical caps.
Spore Print of the Malaysian Cope.
Some of the Malaysian Cubes I harvested along the area of the train tracks at Alor Setar, Malaysia.
A spore print of one of the specimens from the cubes laying on a plastic bag above.
I barely made it back on the trai. I was there by a stairway onto one of the sleeper cars and then had to walk through a mad collection of strange people 4 cars back to mine.
When we arrived at the train depot we took a bus ride to the ferry to Penang. Penang meands Island of Betel Nut. From a tourist information booth in the train depot I was informed that Penang meant Island of Betel Nut. I also learned that 1/10th of the world population chewed Betel Nut. I ask the girl as to where I night obtain some Beter Nut. She then gave me businstructions to go on a number two bus. She said it would go about six miles and then I would go over a bridge. She told me to look out the bus window once across the bridge and I would see a large Prison, and at the bus stop by the prison was a public market. Everycity has massive street markets everywhere. This market was for the families of the prisoners who come to the prisons to visit their incarcerated relatives. And there I could purchase some Beter Nut. HOwever, she also said that if I was not able to find the prison, I oculdcome back and she would bring some for me from her home gatrden which had a tree.
Betel Nut Tree.
So, having learn tthat, I then was again hawked by the local rider on the train. The one who was constanly offereing me alcohol to which I refused. He told me a place to stay. So we went to this hotel. It was nasty. Inside the clerk asked me if I would like lady. I said how Much? He said, "Cost is cheap for you. $20 dollars to $60 Dollars. I said what is difference.. He said, "$60 dollars, very pretty, make sexy all niight long. Long time." i then asked what is $20 dollars. He pointed to table where there were 4 old -60 to 80-year-old-Chinese ladies playing Mah Jong, and said, "$20 dollars, very ugly. For you, Short time for you and then you can sleep."
I told him no thank you. the name of the hotel was the Wha Mie.
A picture of the front desk in the lobby of this disastrous lobby..
The nest day I stepped out on the street ready to go get a Visa and then catch the train to Surat Thani and a ferry boar to Koh Samui.
Some images from outside the hotel and down the street. A passerby took this first image of me.
Here comes my transportation to the Thai Embassy to get a visa.
The sign reads "Hawaiian Sweet Corn." It was not. It was regular corn on the cob and then dipped in a large barrel-like ot of strange grease and oil with margerine to dip the corn on a stick in. The corn is heated on a grill in an old oil barrell.
I purchased a hat here with one side pinned to the top of the hat like Aussie style. Left it on the back door of my home in Hawaii when I moved to Seattle in 1997.
A cool sign reads as, "Abdul Jabar: Money Lender."
I then learned that th e Embassy was closed on Monday so i went to the Royal Park in Penang and was met by Monkeys
The sign reads "Keep Your Flower Garden Clean.".
Not so friendly coconut monkey sceeched at me for not giing him a piece of fruit.
Three iamges of children who came to swim that day. In the first image, one kid asks me questions about who I am, where am I from and why did I come to Penang, Malaysia. Each time I reply to a question, the kid tells all of the other kids what I said and then they laugh. Not at me but about me.
The next day,on Tuesday I go to the Thai Embassy in Penang and get my visa back to Thailand.
And that evening I get the Night train to Surat Thani on the Gulf of Thailand to take the Don Sak ferry to Koh Samui Island which is at the end of the Ang Thong Marine National Park of about 80 small isialnds of whicch only 6 are inhabited. And they all have Cobras.
A view from the ferry dock while we await the ferry to Koh Samui.
It wa son this boat that I met a ASoctsman who was going to Samui and I told him about the mushrooms. On the way, a short funny looking young Thai came over and Introduced himself to us asking us "Which Bungalow you Stay At. I have nice bungalow" I told him we were going to Chewang Beach for mushroom Omelette and then he hadns me his business card which says Mr.Dum (his real name) and ont he back he turnes it over and there was a picture of mushrooms andMr.Dum says, "Ah, we have mushrooms ometelt."
And that is where we went, to Samui Tungson Resort on the north side of the Island near Bo Phut and Big Buddha. That night we were servesd a mushroom omelette that turned out to be LSD. I had to baby site my friend Nigel half of the night. The next morning we learned someone had stolen our shoes form the porch. A few years late NIgel wrote me that he would never eat a mushroom again. ME.Dum also was theperson who stole out shores.
That is another tale that my first lecture titles, Mushrooms, Omelettes and Koh Samui.
Enjpy this Tale from the Shroom.r