5 Nov 2003
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
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
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
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.
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
Take care everyone,