Created October 1999. Revised November 2, 2006; January 7, 2007; April 1, 2007; July 26, 2007; September 16, 2007; February 13, 2008; February 5, 2010; May 4, 2011; September 2, 2011; April 21, 2013; and March 19, 2017.
Copyright 1998-2017 by John W. Allen.


Exotic Forays Cultural and Mycological Voyages into Beautiful Rarely Seen Worlds


CLICK ON ALL IMAGES ON THESE PAGES TO ENLARGE


 
Exotic Forays Presents:

A pictorial of John W. Allen's 23 years of cultural and mycological studies in Thailand and Cambodia.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Southeast Asia. Presented below are the photographs of John W, Allen, and those images will be your primary host and tour-guide for this pictorial adventure. These are the places, people, wild life, flora and fauna where I and other participants spent time wandering in jungles and rice paddies seeking mushrooms. And view the majesty of visiting ancient archaic ruins from the 9th century through the 13th century. There are several pictorials depicting magnificent exotic lands, their cities, their temples, and lets not forget the many villages, and the friendliest indigenous humans found on this or any other planet.

Below, an image of me and one of my Thai friends.




Those who are inspired by my images may see where I and others trod.
CLICK HERE



CLICK ON EACH IMAGE TO ENLARGE







 
Below are images of Thailand and Cambodia.
The first one is of of Thailand.
The 2nd image is that of Angkor Wat, Cambodia








 
To View Images of Cambodia from 1999 - 2006.
CLICK HERE

 
Exotic forays was formed in 1987 in order to provide both amateur and scholarly mycophiles (students and scholars alike) with a unique forum for field research in unusual exotic locations. Exotic Forays also presented participants a rewarding cultural experience that offered those interested in art, anthropology, architecture and religion, a chance to visit contemporary people in their indigenous environments and examine their arts, crafts, sculptures and cultural history on a personal level.

Previous forays and cultural excursions have included visits to Indonesia (Bali, Jakarta, Sumatra and Malaysia); Burma (Myanmar); Cambodia (Kampuchea); Vietnam; The Philippine Islands; India; Nepal; Sri Lanka; Australia and New Zealand; and the Hawaiian Islands) Due to an unfortunate accident that left me partially disabled, 2006 was my last trip exploring Southeast Asia and Oceania for visionary mushrooms and studies.

Some of the goals of Exotic Forays was to (1) examine, collect, and identify specimens of wild edible, medicinal, toxic and/or entheogenic fungi and (2) to search for evidence indicating any past cultural use. This research was conducted in the field and was approached in a very formal manner. Since the late 1950s mushroom research has been conducted in many regions of the world where amateur foragers lacked skills in the mycological identification of new species indigenous to such regions. This opportunity should give perspective cultivators of fungi a chance to collect rare spore prints from rare exotic species and thus spread such spore prints to all of species not accessible for study in Western Civilization.

In the course of my first three forays, I found that those who joined me on these excursions were also interested in many aspects of the arts, craftsmanship, and cultures of the peoples of the countries in which we visited. This included many visits into ancient cities, their temples, Buddhist caves and the collection of mushrooms and mushroom spore prints which exist in all of the countries noted above.

Since the summer of 1987, I have led over a dozen expeditions to Koh Samui and several other Island and mainland resorts in and around the Gulf of Thailand; including two trips to Malaysia along some areas of resorts along the Andaman Sea and to the Island of Phuket.

There I discovered an unusual cultural phenomena which involved tourists, Hindu's, Thai's, mushrooms, and art. During the course of these expeditions I published 5 scholarly papers on Magic Mushrooms in Thailand, India, Burma, Cambodia and Penang Island of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, including one new Journal publication detailing a 23-year follow-up to all much of my research and discoveries in Thailand and other regions of Southeast Asia, Indonesia, India and some regions of Oceania. That monumental study may be downloaded for free at the MAPS website from this link: MAPS.ORG as Ethnomycological Journals: Sacred Mushroom Studies vol. IX.


Contents include three new articles and one book review. 196 pages and 246 colored photographs. Because of the success of these many excursions between 1986 and 2006, I must give credit to the late Dr. Guzman, who along with several noted mycolist/fungiphiles discovered four new species of psilocybian fungi at a location in Changmai, Thailand where I actually stood years before and did not find any at all. Like the species I first collected in Thailand in 1990, Psilocybe samuiensis Guzman, Bandala and Allen, the four new species were directly related to species found inn Mesoamerica.


Between 1999 and 2006, I traveled 9 times with small groups of two to eight individuals to Xiem Riap, Cambodia and visited the temples of Angkor Bayon, Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, Ta Proehm, Preah Karn, Banteay Kdei (Citadel of the Cell) and Banteay Srei (The Temple/Citadel of the Women). On my first visit to these archaic temples I found many varieties of both edible and entheogenic mushrooms; including, on my first visit, a single specimen of Psilocybe cubensis growing in front of the main entrance of Angkor Wat. Such specimens were found openly in manure at this and other temples in the surrounding grounds. Other species were eventually discovered as well, including Psilocybe samuiensis and Psilocybe antioquiensis. I and others with me also observed several varieties of Copelandia spp., of which I have also posted below, an image following that of that Psilocybe cubensis and other said fungi found on some of these excursions.

In the late summer of 2002 and 2003, I, and several Exotic Foray participants, along with several children during our foray in Cambodia, discovered what at first was thought to be a new species of psilocybian fungi at the 'Temple of the Women' and later the same day we found a few more next to the entrance to a site at Banteay Kdei, Xiem Riap. This new mushroom was found to be an already known species named Psilocybe antioquensis, previously known only from Colombia and from Xalapa, Jalisco, Mexico. Recently North American mycologist Alan Rockefeller informed me that recent DNA studies indicate that the species I found in Cambodia may actually be a new species.

It is the 2nd species of psilocybian fungi I discovered on two of these journeys into Southeast Asia. In 2005, I collected a third Psilocybe species in Cambodia. A small collection of Psilocybe samuiensis was harvested near Angkor Wat. That latter species was previously only known of from Koh Samui, Thailand. In 2006, Psilocybe samuiensis was again reported by a colleague from Ranong Province on the Andaman Sea Coast Region of Thailand facing India and Sri Lanka. And recently it was discovered almost 300 km North of Changmai, Thailand in Hunan Province of Southern China. And it was discovered to have been the cause of two accidental inebriations when collected as a source of food by Tribal people in Hunan.



 
Below, on the left is a Cambodian cube (Psilocybe cubensis). On the right are some Cambodian Copes (Copelandia cyanescens).





 
Below is a photograph of Psilocybe antioquensis collected along the south wall of Banteay Kdei, The Citadel of the Cell.





 
The mushroom forays and cultural explorations and excursions into Thailand were conducted on three levels of communication: (1) Mycological: the identification of wild and toxic species and the collection of rare spore prints for future storage and in vitro cultivation; (2) Cultural: Observing various tribal peoples and Thai citizens in their natural environments) and their symbiotic relationship with magic mushrooms and tourist influence; and (3) Anthropological and Historical: Visiting with local citizens at many of the numerous temples in these lands and the historical sites created by their ancestors.

Through the kindness of the Thai people and Chulalongkorn University, those who attended these expeditions, if the weather was right, bright and sunny, a visit to the Kwai (buffalo house) Farm and Family owned Oyster Mushroom Farm in Suphanburi. A great place to collect Copelandia and other active specoes at this farm.

The coolest site in Bangkok is a trip to Their Royal Majesties, the King and Queen of Thailand, at the Royal Chitralada Projects of his Royal Majesty Bumibol Adulyadej's Agricultural Gardens Program in Bangkok Reeshi Royal Family Fungi Cultivation Project of Thailand. On several occasions, Psilocybe cubensis was also harvested on these properties surrounded by military guards and a vast moat.

Such amazing adventures come to many only once in their life time and what better experience is there then to walk in the land of peaceful spirits. These expeditions to Thailand and Cambodia only lasted for 17-18 days and included many historical sites in and around Bangkok, to and from the Island of Koh Samui and Koh Pha-Ngan, Suphanburi, etc., as well as a five day excursion to and from Cambodia where we visited many temples in the region. That five day excursion was included during the seventeen days of forays and cultural visits to temples and museums of those two countries. This also included most meals (in house only), hotels, resort bungalows in Thailand, Bangkok, Koh Samui, and Cambodia. Additionally I paid for all motorcycle rentals, entrance fees to Muang Boran (the Ancient City) and Samutprakarn (crocodile farm), as well as the fees of personal motorcycle guides and translators while in Cambodia. Other minor expenses were also included on these fungal and cultural annual forays.

Each participants is asked to pay the $20.00 Visa fee to the Cambodian Embassy which I arrange for those attending and I personally fill out their visa forms and I process their Visa Applications at the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok and each participant must also pay the $40.00 three-day pass fee to enter the temple grounds of the Angkor Wat Compound in Xiem Riap, Cambodia.

Our small group of intrepid explorers and/or adventurers ventured forth into visiting several wats, temples, ancient ruins, water falls, and the giant Big Buddha Islet and Tarnim Magic Gardens, as well as two waterfalls while at Koh Samui (Hin Lad and Na Muang) and daily swimming on Koh Samui Island. As noted above, Koh Samui is situated 710 km south of Bangkok and 86 km off the east coast of Surat Thani, Thailand in the Ang Thong Marine National Park in the southern portion of the Gulf of Thailand (formerly the Gulf of Siam.


THAILAND----------------------KOH SAMUI ISLAND



 
On some of these excursions we also were able to attend the monthly "Full Moon Mushroom Festival," an annual monthly party for tourists on Koh Pha-Ngan Island."



 
There are buffalo fights, kick boxing exhibitions, and swimming on a daily basis and both Koh Samui and Koh Pha-Ngan islands have very beautiful beaches as seen in the images posted directly below.







 
While in Thailand and Cambodia, as well as Koh Samui, we will visit several rice paddies and bufffalo arenas searching for fungi. The rice paddie field shown here below is but a small area of a rice paddie region that extends for miles throughout the south and southwest portion of Koh Samui.





 
It is in these very rice paddies and at buffalo arenas where we will be able to photograph the visionary mushrooms, collect specimens for creating spore prints of these species and we also visit with native farmers, their families, including their children, Friends of mine, all who know that certain mushrooms they are arware of are common within their environments and that such mushrooms are special and sold for tourist consumption.

While the Chao Samui (Samui folk) are well aware of the large Psilocybe cubensis species, they generally ignore the Copelandia species that also occur in manure and the manured soil, not just on Samui, but throughout their land. It was there in Ban Hua Thanon in 1990 that I first discovered, Psilocybe samuiensis. On several occasions, I have tried to teach some of the local vendors how to identify Copelandia cyanescens and it's many variations. Instead they would harvest and bring to me various messy bags and containers of mixed collections of mostly Panaeolus antillarum and Panaeolus papilionaceus (syn.=Panaeolus sphinctrinus) along with numerous specimens of Conocybe, Coprinus and even some partially rotted specimens of Bolbitius species.

In a good way, this means they do not poison anyone with bad shrooms because they only know that Psilocybe cubensis is the mushroom they recognize and do not poison anyone. However, that being said, the fact of the matter is that some do get sick from nasty rotted old shrooms infested at times from the fruit fly larvae in older deteriorating specimens they collect and throw in with the healthy ones.

In late 1989, the Thai government made the use, possession and sales of these mushrooms illegal, yet many restaurants in numerous resort areas on both Koh Samui and Koh Phangan still cater to tourist influence in this matter, and will make mushroom omelettes, smoothies, soups and pizzas available when asked for.

I was very assertive and strict in letting each participant know that under no circumstances were any of those who participated in these tours would be allowed by Exotic Forays to break the laws of another country. All were allowed through my research with the university in Bangkok that I work with to help in the collecting of specimens for herbarium deposit and for making spore prints, but no individuals on these excursions were allowed to keep the mushrooms that they had collected for theirselves. After the trip ends and we all leave Koh Samui and return to Bangkok, the fungi specimens harvested for print making by my traveling companions that were accumulated into my collections and were deposited in the Herbarium at Chulalongkorn University.

As briefly noted above, in Bangkok, I and my colleague, Dr. Prakitsin Sihanonth of the Department of Microbiology at Chulalongkorn University will present to those in my group, a morning excursion to the Private Agricultural Gardens of the King and Queen of Thailand. In the two images posted below we see a group of large mushroom sculptures featuring Amanita muscaria. These large beautiful sculpted mushrooms adorn the Palace Garden Cultivation Center where Reeshi and other medicinal fungi species are cultivated for medicinal extracts along with other medicinal species. The Palace agricultural program also produce spirolina development and mulberry paper making. In the 2nd image taken a about ten years later, I was surprised to see that someone had painted these beautiful Amanita scuptured shrooms a very ugly soft green hue. The Amanita sculptures were there for about 15 years before they were repainted. I did bring to the attention of the King's Gardener, my friend Visiporn that the Amanita was also a species used ritualistically by Aryans who crossed over the Himalayas into India and wrote of the Soma (which is believed to be Amanita muscaria) in their Vedic Scriptures, The Rig Vida






 
This next image is a photograph of the Chinese Mushrooms of Immortality known by the Japanese people as Reeshi mushrooms. Here they are grown at the agricultural center. This special visit as noted above is arranged for my guests by my colleague from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. Annually, during the times I visited each year, I was preparing for publication, several shroom articles in conjucntion with the University.





 
In Bangkok we were pleased to visit the Golden Buddha at Wat Keo (5 1/2 tons solid gold, very awesome to view). This image of the Sacred Lord Buddha was accidentally discovered circa the early 1950's when a crane broke and the plaster chipped off of this enormous and somewhat heavy sculpture that was being lifted from the earth after its accidental discovery. Gold was discovered under the plaster and the statue was eventually cleaned up and transported to Bangkok.





 
An all day excursion which cannot be describe in words, is a trio to a magical kingdom within the Kingdom of Thailand, a place where the natural beauty of Muang Boran (the Ancient City) shines upon the whole country with great national pride. Muang Boran is a national treasure. A vast land area designed and built in the shape of Thailand. Everywhere in Thailand where there are temples or ancient ruins, some of those original structures came to Muang Boran and had been either moved or were rebuild at Muang Boran in perspective to their exact location in Thailand. The Wats, Buddha images, sculptures, wood carvings of teak, and other statues or structures may be anywhere from 1/3 of their original size to 100 percent of their original stuctures. Below are several images from Muang Boran, all photographed between 1987-2006.












 
After leaving Muang Boran, we travel southeast to Samutprakarn, the worlds largest croc farm. Here if one is brave, you may sit with a real 600-pound Malaysian tiger or leopard. There is also an exotic animal farm where reside some of God's most beautiful animals that one will not likley see elsewhere. There are also some cool pictures of me from all over the world with some really cool exotic adorable critters whom I have met over the yesrs and some I just photographed. These may be viewed at Me And My Not So Furry Animal Friends








 
My excursions sometimes included a fer hours visit at the world most famous weekend market in Bangkok (more than 8,000 booths of everything you ever imagened you might want to buy), However, at the day and night market of Banlumphu (European District) it can me coler at times. Sadly, the big weekend market is so hot that one may only hang there for a few hours before heat exhaustion and lack of oxygen sets in. In addition to the itinarary of the excursion, I also leave time open for the participants to visit other museums and ancient ruins not noted in the advertisments I used to interest those who joined me in these intrepid ventures. We may also spend a few hours in the lab and at the herbarium of Chulalongkorn University with my Thai friend and colleague, Dr. Prakitsin Sihanonth who might be able to arrange for us a one day mushroom foray around the Muslim region of Bangkok since the Muslims own most of the cattle (wua) in and around Bangkok. Or as noted above, a private visit to the Suphanburi Kwai Farm (buffalo house) a few hours drive north of Bangkok where we can foray to collect fresh specimens of Copelandia cyanescens.




TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS TO AND FROM THE U. S. A. TO SOUTHEAST ASIA




 
A short summary of how we all went about our time in Thailand and Cambodia. Normally our flight to Southeast Asia begans in Seattle to San Francisco to Taipei to Bangkok. We normally fly Korean, China or Japan Airlines.

Our first night is s[pent in a hotel on Sukumvit Road in Bangkok. Then move for two days to a dump room in the European District of Banlumphu on Khosan Road. Better than the one Leonardo diCaprio stayed at in the film, "The Beach." I then make sure all of our travel arrangements, visas and reserved resort hotel bookings are in proper order. As noted in the itinary, the first 3-4 days in Bangkok can be hected, especially if the heat is extreme. Once we were settled in at a hotel, we were able to freshen up and spend the evening and following morning with a chance to relax and get to know each other.

On the following morning, I arrange our transportation to Muang Boran, Samutprakarn, Cambodia and Koh Samui (See Page 2 of Exotic Forays for information pertaining to the Cambodian adventure). This morning is usually open to freshen up and adjust to the jet lag and heat of the city. Massage services of ancient Thai massage are usually available at all hotels and at the MBK mall and at hundreds of locations around the area of Siam Center. The ancient art of Thai Massage is not included in the tour, but a 1 hour massage may cost from as low as $1.00 dollar U.S. to $2.50 dollars US and upwards.

The next day, early in the morning we all depart for the ancient city of Muang Boran and then we will spend the afternoon at the world's largest Crocodile Farm at Samutprakarn.

On our third day in Bangkok while I obtain our visas to Cambodia, all of the participants have a free day to relax or to go out on their own adventures. There are many things to do and see in Bangkok. If you like we can visit Siam Center, the weekend market (eight thousand booths), or some of the art museums or go to the Dusit Zoo (strange animals not seen in the west). We also if one likes, visit some of the other ethnic districts such as the Chinese markets or the Hindu section of Bangkok. I always leave this up to the group to decide.



 


KOH SAMUI PART TWO
June 8-9, 2008





A little Photoshop at Play Here.





After returning to Bangkok where we will spend the evening, the following afternoon we will visit Khosarn Road in Banlumphu (Bangkok's European Tourist district and market place. During this visit, you may street shop and treat yourself to a lunch of Thai food while I prepare the final arrangements for our trip south to Koh Samui Island for our train and ferry boat excursions possibly by Hydrofoil.

In the evening, we will will travel by over night trains in sleeper cars to Surat Thani province 680 kilometers south of Bangkok. Each person will have his and/or her own private sleeper. Train meals are not included in the tour. However, at every stop along the way, dozens of local women and children hawking foods will board the train to sell you a meal. 1/4 chicken on a stick is usually about .50 cents U.S.





 
August 2006
We will be staying at the Samui Beach Resort in Lamai Beach on the East side of Koh Samui. In the morning, we will visit several rice paddies at Ban Lipa Yai and later visit the world renown gigantic famous Grandfather and Grandmother rocks at the village seaside hamlet of Hinta Hinyai near Lamai, Koh Samui. These two images below are composed of limestone and granite and are millions of years old.





 
After leaving Hinta Hinyai, we will motor to Na Muang water falls. Here we can freshen by going for a swim in the falls. Later on we will visit the Hin Lad falls pictured in the second image.







 
In the afternoon we will forage for mushrooms in some of the various rice paddies situated throughout the island. The first four images are specimens of Psilocybe cubensis which were deposited at the Herbarium in Bangkok.







 
The fifth and Sixth image are some specimens of one of three species of Copelandia cyanescens, indigenous to the region.


 
Featured below are four photo images of a new species that I first discovered in 1990 on Koh Samui Island, Psilocybe samuiensis Guzmán, Bandala and Allen.







 
August 2006
On the next morning we will go to Ban Nathon and later visit Wat
Kunorum. There is a monk entombed in a glass display in a yoga position who predicted the day he would die. And so he did, right on schedule. And he mummified himself by going into a trance.
His aura was so intense that no bacteria entered his body thereby causing self preservation. He is on display in a glass tomb at this Wat on Koh Samui.

In these islands, the water is so unbelievably warm and there are no man eating sharks in the Gulf of Siam (Gulf of Thailand). Evening swims are fantastic and the sunsets on Koh Samui and its sister companion Isle of Koh Phangan are the most beautiful in the world. We can also swim at the poolside by the restaurant at our resort. Just check out the images below of some of the sunsets from Koh Phanghan and Koh Samui.









 
We will also spend an hour or more at the coolest place on Koh Samui Island known as Ka Boehm (pronounced as Ka boom) and known to tourists as The Tarnim Magic Gardens. Tarnim is situated at about 400 meters above Sea Level on the top of a mountain overlooking a Military Base. It is approximately 2-3 km south of Ban Nathon. Now the name might imply a park, but this is a place of beauty and what is unique about this magic place are the millions of locust (cicadas) who are emitting their mating calls which reverberate and echo to and fro as well as back and forth across the mountain top from ridge to ridge. A most awesome cacophony of sound waves bouncing in rhythm to your heart beat with you being the center of their world.





 
Sometimes we attend the world famous Full Moon Festival. To get there we had to travel by ferry boat (fishing boat) and/or Hydrofoil to Koh Phangan Island (1 hour and 12 kilometers North of Koh Samui). Now they have brought in dozens of high speed boats to take tourists at expensive prices to Koh Phanghan. Below is an image of our approach to East Had Rin Beach resort and the second image is Bottle Beach on the North end of Koh Phangan. The third image is a bungalow I stayed at where some tourist painted the album cover of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" on the front wall of the bungalow.







 
On this day we will visit Big Buddha on the Northeast region Koh oh Samui. The first two images were taken less than 3 months apart.







 
Final Koh Samui Itinerary

Today we can spend the morning swimming and preparing for our trip back to Bangkok. In the afternoon, we will be provided transportation from our Resort to the ferry boat where we will sail on a hydrofoil to Surat Thani and then take the night train ride back to Bangkok. On occasion, a 30 to 45 minute flight can get one to Bangkok very fast. When I first went to Samui Island in the mid 1980s there were no airplanes at all on the Island. Then one year there were two flights a
day. Soon it graduated from 6 to 10 a day and now about 16 planes or more arrive and depart daily not only to Bangkok, but there small airport is now an International Airport, yet has very small but safe runways for travel. Much safer than a minivan or bus ride that takes 15 hours to travel and is quite dangerous. The drivers are maniacs and it is really not to safe to trust someone at the wheel all night long. On my first trip to Thailand, there were at least 4 crashes a week into trains in the middle of the night in minivans traveling from either Bangkok to Koh Samui and elsewhere south or north all night to Changmai, or by pickup to minivan or personal driver to the Thai/Cambodian border and on to Angkor Wat.

June 16th of 2008
This is the day of departure for some or all of our group. I thank you all for participating in this grand adventure to a world which is like another planet. We will arrive in Bangkok at approximately 7 AM in the morning and each can make their own travel arrangements to the airport or some may stay and hang with me for a while, but will have to pay their own hotel and meals.
 

Cambodian Itinerary


June 4, 2008
Today, in the wee hours of the morning we will depart for the journey to the small Cambodian city of Siem Riap. On this trip we will traveled most uncomfortably during the day by Mini-Van to the Cambodian border. This is actually a rather a comfortable ride of about three long hours on modern highways to the Thai/Cambodian border. That part of the journey usually takes about 3 to 4 hours or so depending on the driver. That is because the Thai highway system is fantastic. Then comes the part of our excursion that can last anywhere from 5 to 12 hours by minivan on an overland and sometimes uncomfortable trip with many other unknown tourists. What makes the trip uncomfortable are the millions of potholes in the road on the way to the temples at Xiem Riap. Once there, we will stay at the Jasmine Hotel owned and operated by my friend Mr. Van Kunn and his beautiful wife Jasmine and their family.


June 5, 2008.
What we have planned for this 3rd segment of our tour includes this five day trip into the jungle regions of Xiem Reap, Kampuchea where we will visit several of the Khmer temples built between the 8th and 12th century A.D. During this 5 day trek we will enjoy visiting these ancient ruins and hopefully collect several varieties of mushrooms for spore prints.

Most likely we will be helped by various children who suddenly appear from out of nowhere to assist us for a small reward. Each participant will have his own motor cycle and English Speaking Guide for rides to the various Temples. One beautiful temple is the ancient ruins of Ta Proehm where Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was filmed.

As noted above, during this trip to Cambodia, we will constantly be on the lookout for mushrooms. Although we will make prints, I am the only one allowed to bring the mushroom specimens back to Bangkok for deposit at the University.


At around 8 in the morning we will began our visit of Angkor Wat, Angkor Bayon and Angkor Thom and several others. Remember, always carry American dollars, at least one hundred are necessary for the trip, of which $40.00 will be used to purchase your three-day entry fee to the ancient temples of Angkor. We will all have our own personal guides to assist us and takes us to the Temples deep in the jungles of Cambodia. There are mushrooms growing in and around all of the temples and this makes for an interesting few days. At the moment the mushrooms are not illegal and very few tourists know of their existence at the temples. However, the local vendor children hawking souvenirs to tourists will come and offer picking assistance to the tourists for a few rials (Cambodian money).

June 8, 2008.
Today our group will leave early in the morning at about 7:00 AM for our return trip to Bangkok. And the next day, June 9, 2008, we will head to Koh Samui Island.


June 9, 2008
Well today is the day some of you will be returning to Seattle and other destinations. Planes will depart at Don Muang International Airport. For those of you who are leaving I should mention that like in Jules Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days," you too will be crossing the international dateline, thus gaining a full day when you return home. You will actually arrive in Seattle one and a half hours before you board your plane in Bangkok on the day before. Airport taxi fees are covered in the tour.


A word of caution. Please do not smuggle any Buddha images out of Thailand. They have to be approved of by T. A. T. (Tourist of Thailand Authority). Have a pleasant trip and thank you for your participation in this journey









 
A FEW NOTES ON PRIORITIES

1. Don't forget to obtain anti-malaria pills before your trip. You should start taking them two weeks prior to leaving the United States and for two weeks after returning home. However, I should mention that we will not be traveling or staying in areas with high rates of malaria or cerebral malaria so if you like, you can wait and purchase them in Bangkok where they are very cheap ($60.00 in the USA for 12 pills, $4.00 dollars in Bangkok). It will be rainy season when we arrive and we may even have a monsoon run into us during our trip. Do not worry. They can be quite interesting. Most rains, except the first one comes in daily waves of two to three hours a day, or night, depending on the time of the year.

2. Very little clothing or luggage is needed for your trip. While in Thailand you will probably purchase many items before returning home. Large cloth hand bags made from hemp fibers are available throughout Thailand at about $3.00 to $6.00 per. If you need rain-gear, purchase it in Thailand. It will only cost you about $2.00 to $4.00 there.

3. Unless you use digital cameras, bring your own film. It is cheaper to buy your film at home in the U.S or in Europe. However it is cheaper to develop your film in Thailand and they do double prints and give you photo albums free with your developing. For those of you who do bring digital cameras, I have friends on both Koh Samui Island and in Cambodia where computer use is cheaper for me and my companions than for the average tourists.

4. A visa is not required unless you plan to stay more than 30 days. Since the excursion is 17 days there is no need for a Thai visa. If you stay over thirty days there is a five dollar a day charge at the airport when you leave or at the border. Since we go to Cambodia first after the Bangkok stay, we will get a new thirty day extension free. After the 17 day excursion is over, I work with a University in Bangkok for several weeks and if anyone wants to stay and have some further travels, shroom hunting or visiting different sites or regions, you may stay but then you pay your own cost of living expenses. As noted above, there is a $20.00 U.S. fee for a Visa to Cambodia. I take care of obtaining the Visas but payment is up to the individual who is going, as is the $40.00 entrance fee to Angkor Wat for a 3-day pass.

5. Always carry your passport and travelers checks with you. Each individual is required to bring three color laser photo copies of his or her passport photo and identification page. Two are for your Cambodian visa and one is used for motorcycle rentals. This is also good in case of emergencies or lost passports and for when I rent your motorcycles. Although the cycles are rented in my name, the person who uses each bike is responsible for any damages and/or repairs to their bikes. The extra passport laser page can be helpful. Each person should bring approximately $200.00 to $500.00 for personal expenses, gifts, etc., Try not to over tip hotel, bungalow, or taxi and tuk-tuk personal. They will inform others that you are very generous and you will be plagued by their constant offer to assist you.

6. Thai money conversion is relatively very simple. Their units are the Baht. 1 baht = 4 cents U. S.; 5 baht = 20 cents. Thai bank notes are 10 baht = .40 cents; 20 baht = .80 cents; 100 baht = $2.50; 500 baht = $12.50; and 1000 baht = $25.00. By 2008, the exchange doubled and some items that were cheap also doubled in price. Now a $100.00 U.S. travelers check will exchange for approximately 4000-4200 baht. Because of a collapse in Asian economy the Thai exchange rate is now at $100.00 U.S. dollars to 3700 to 4200 baht. So your dollars may be worth less or more. In Cambodia we will spend either Thai money or American Dollars. The Cambodian money is virtually worthless. I usually bring 100 - one dollar U.S. bills to Cambodia with me. There are also no ATM machines in Xiem Riap. Only at the Thai border. However, since I have not been there in 5 years, I imagine that there are now probably ATM machines at Angkor Wat. When I was there last the Capital of Cambodia had massive ATM machines but was just as far to the east as the Thai border is tot he west.

7. A few Don'ts. Do not pat any Thai person with whom you are not intimate with on the head. This is considered the highest part of the body. Do not point at anyone with your feet, especially the monks. Your feet are considered the lowest part of your body. Do not shake hands with your left hand. This is the hand you wipe with and it would offend the Thai's. If anyone goes for a ride in any kind of vehicle (tuk-tuk, samlor, taxi, motorcycle, etc.), always barter the price before you get into the vehicle. You can usually get the rides for half of what the seller offers. This is true for any merchandise you might want to purchase in Thailand. Make sure the drivers of Taxi's use their meters. They are not all honest and drive long ways around. Thus demand the meter. In Thailand one can go on a 30 mile ride for about two to three dollars U.S.

8. Total coast is $2450.00 for 17-18 days. A deposit of $1200.00 U.S
. must be received no later than March 31, of each year. This covers round trip airfare to and from Seattle to Thailand and back. If you make your own travel arrangements to Bangkok from other locations, your cost for the 17 day tour will be $2,450.00 U. S, minus $800.00 for airfare to and from Seattle to Bangkok and back. The balance of the deposit must be paid no later than May 1, of each year. Some make their own air arrangements from frequent flyer miles, etc.

Trip privy
's include: bungalows, hotels, tours, railway and ferry services.
Meals are included at Hotel and Bungalow resorts only. All transportation including motorcycle rentals are included. This includes the Cambodia run. The $20.00 Cambodian Visa is paid by the participant as is the $40.00 3-day pass entrance fee to Angkor Wat, Cambodia.



 
All travel arrangements are made with either Canadian Airlines, Korean Airlines, China Airlines and/or Bangkok Airlines, including Thai interpreters, bungalows, hotels, tours, railway and ferry services are easily confirmed. Meals are included at Hotel and Bungalow resorts only. All transportation including motorcycle rentals are included (each individual must pay their own gas) for the motorcycle rentals while in Thailand. And Exotic Forays pays the cost of motorcycles and drivers, translators, etc. while in Cambodia. This includes the Cambodia run (the visa fee ($20.00) and the 3-day pass to the temples at Angkor Wat, Cambodia ($40.00) are extra).

Thank you for your interest in Exotic Forays.
Cordially yours,

John W. Allen
Exotic Forays
P. O. Box 45164
Seattle, Washington, 98105
Contact John W. Allen at Facebook.

If you have any comments, suggestions or questions, please feel free to write or e-mail and ask.




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