Sent: 5 Nov 2003
Subject: Songkhla

Dear Readers,
Here is another installment of my present set of Photo Narratives. This should be set number four. Most of this segment takes place in Songkhla, the southern most town in Thailand, before I officially departed for Malaysia.
Songkhla was about a quarter of the total distance to Singapore, so in some ways it was a major stop. It was also quite important in the respect that after this I would be traveling in another country, in totally new territory for me. It was my first time taking a sailboat across boarders and it was a royal pain in the arse on the Thai side and brisk and friendly on the Malaysian side. That is a bit deceptive though. It was challenging leaving the country because of the moronic regulations that my boat fell under. The Thai government has relied heavily on two basic types of Marine regulation and control. One involves fishing boats and their function and regulation by government agencies. The second rule of law applies to freighters and cargo ships. So the question here is where the bloody hell does a sailboat fit into any of this. The Thai government is supposedly presently revising a lot of its maritime laws to include luxury vessels. But until that time I am rather hesitant to return to Thailand with the boat.
An example which might help to illustrate my point. One rule which the government officials continually tried to apply to the boat was that there had to be at least two people on the boat, one pilot, and the other a qualified engineer. This rule makes sense with larger vessels but with a small sailboat with a tiny engine it is not necessary. Another rule they tried to apply was that I could not remove the boat from the Bangkok river area because that was where it was registered and by the regulations controlling fishing boats, they couldn’t travel beyond the border county to where they were registered. The only reason I was able to get the boat out of the country was because my father and I had previously dealt extensively with members of the Harbor Department in Bangkok so a lot of regulations were deemed not applicable because of the clout we held from the contacts we could mention in Bangkok. We had to explain several times that Mr. Somchit, Chief Admiral of the Royal Thai Marine Law Regulatory Board, said that since the boat fell under neither of these statutes it was free to leave the country on an extended coastal voyage. What a load of BS! But it worked because political clout works, fortunately or unfortunately I am not sure. At the time though it was very fortunate.
I still ran into some problems while trying to depart and Immigration didn’t want to stamp my visa until I actually left even though I was departing at about 6 am on Saturday. They then said I should wait until Monday morning and come back at 8 am. I couldn’t believe their gall. I was prepared for it though. I explained that I had already received port clearance and I was required to leave Songkhla within 24 hours. This stumped them for a while and since none of them wanted to come in on Saturday morning they finally gave in and stamped my visa, late that afternoon.
We spent a lot longer in Songkhla then I had intended mainly because of the transmission but it was great in that I had an opportunity to learn and understand thoroughly the parts and function of one type of manual marine transmission. The other bonus was that I got to see a lot of Songkhla which used to be one of my parents old haunts back when they were here for Peace Corps and my fathers work with the UNDP. It is a cool town and has a lot of the charm of the southern fishing villages in Thailand yet it was developed enough to deal with boat repairs and major purchases of equipment.
The town is famous for it’s two small coastal islands. One is called big mouse island as it is quite close to shore and appears fairly large. The second island is called small cat island and appears small but is actually considerable larger then Mouse Island, but is father from land.

Captures the two islands, the boat where it was anchored for most of our stay and the amazing sky in southern Thailand. Always changing and full of fantastic shapes and shadows.

Temple on the Hill,
Shows the land from the boat and a really great temple located on top of the hill. I went to the top of the temple with a young Thai girl who wanted to practice her English. She acted the tour guide quite well. I think she was practicing for a future career. She even took my photo while on top of the temple.
Another aspect of this photo shows the small beachside seafood restaurants to the bottom left, which I frequented when I returned to the boat too late and too tired to cook anything. I was loyal to one restaurant because two of the young kids who worked there were my employees. I paid them each a little over a dollar a day to just watch my dingy and the boat to make sure no one tried to get on board or steal my dingy. It was fun and the amount of money, as small as it seems, was generous and I had a good time with the two kids.

Andy on Temple Top,
Is a pretty good shot of me on the top of the temple on one of the small walls surrounding the chedi. The chedi is the round cone part of many SEAsian temples.

My Employees,
Were the two kids I employed, for most of the time I was in Songkhla. They were pretty diligent about watching the boat and it was reassuring being able to ask them when I returned to the boat if anyone had gone near her or my dingy. After a while, though, my dingy got more and more attention on the beach, so the two kids would help me lift her up and carry her to the restaurant. I wish I could remember their names but I was not there long enough for it to stick. They were nice kids though. Occasional punks until I gave them a good lashing.

The last two photos capture my tiny traveling companion who I mentioned pretty extensively in my other story.

Power Nap on the Depth Gauge,
Was the first place he landed. It was funny because I was looking around and paying a lot of attention to my coarse and the seas because they were particularly erratic and I look back and there is something on the top of the depth gauge.
“What is that?” I thought and as I took a closer look I noticed it was a small swallow about 3 to 4 inches long.




Nice Stereo Man,
It traveled with me for quite a while in that position napping the whole time. Then it flew down and landed on one of the cockpit hatches right in front of the stereo. I was playing something pretty heavy at the time like Led Zeppelin but it just sunk its little head down and napped some more. At one point I changed the tape inches from its head and it paid me no attention whatsoever. Finally after about 10 minutes in the sun it flew into the cabin and hung on the wire running on the top of the inside of the cabin. I mentioned that part of the story before so I will just leave it at that.

I still have about 20 more photos and I am presently considering setting up a website for all these stories and photos. If I do I will let everyone know.
Take care everyone,
Captain Andy