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

Exotic Forays Cultural and Mycological Voyages into Beautiful Rarely Seen Worlds


Exotic Forays Presents:

A pictorial of John W. Allen's 23 year cultural and mycological forays in Thailand and Kampuchea (formerly Cambodia). Welcome to the wonderful world of exotic forays. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is John W. Allen and my photographs are your host and primary tour-guide for viewing the images of my travels and cultural expeditions that I and many lovers of wild fungi spent wandering the jungles and ancient ruins of these magnificent beautiful exotic lands, their cities, temples and villages, and the people who live there that I came into contact between 1989-2006. Below, is posted an image of me and one of my Thai friends.

When anyone here visits Thailand, then these are places to be seen


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.
Where We Stayed in Cambodia
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 prspecitive 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 a few dozen expeditions to Koh Samui and several other Island and mainland resorts in and around the Gulf of Thailand and along some areas of the Andaman Sea and several other countries in South and Southeast Asia. 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, 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 will soon be published at MAPS.ORG as Ethnomycological Journals: Sacred Mushroom Studies vol. IX. Contents include three articles, one book review, 196 pages and 246 colored photographs. Because of the success of these many excursions between 1986 and 2006, I continued to provide those whose interest lay in the spreading of knowledge regarding entheogenic visionary mushrooms by giving freely my knowledge to all who love these mushrooms so that they inspired and provided an incentive for others to collect said mushrooms and create their own spore prints legally and this interest continues to grow through travel and knowledge gathered on each subsequent expedition.

During the past 14 years I have traveled 13 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 at the (Temple/Citadel of the Women). At these great temples I found many varieties of both edible and toxic mushrooms as well as a specimen of a young Psilocybe cubensis growing in front of the temple of Angkor Wat and at these temples and surrounding grounds, 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, previouosly known only from Colombia and Mexico. 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.

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. If possible and clear skies after a rainfall as noted above, we also will be able to include a visit to the Kwai (buffalo house) Farm and Family owned Oyster Mushroom Farm in Suphanburi, as well as a visit to the King and Queen of Thailand's 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.

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 includedin this fungal and cultural annual foray.

Each participants is asked to pay the $20.00 Visa fee to the Cambodian Embassy which I arrange and fill out your forms and process your visas 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

Where we will stay on Koh Samui

For an alternative Resort for the family minded visitor,
couples and friends traveling together to 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 would visit with native farmers, their families, including their children, 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 throughtouot 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 papilionaceus (syn.=Panaeolus sphinctrinus) and Panaeolus antillarum, along with numerous specimens of Conocybe, Coprinus and even some partially rotted specimens ofBolbitius 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 collected.

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 available when asked for.

I was very assertive and strict in letting each participant know that under no circumstances were any of them who came on 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 collection of specimens for herbarium deposit and for making spore prints, but no individuals on these excursions were allowed to keep the mushrooms that theyhad 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 traeling companions were accumulated into my collections and were deposited in the Herbarium at Chulalongkorn University.

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 few about ten years later, I learned that the Amanita painted lawn sculptures had been repainted with a soft-tone of green. The Amanita sculptures were there for about 15 years before they were repainted. I unfortunately one day noted that the amanita were also a species used ritualistically by Aryans who crossed over the Himalayas into India and wrote of the Soma (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.

We will also view 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 magical kingdom within the Kingdom of Thailand, a place where the natural beauty of Muang Boran (the Ancient City) which 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 the 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 and if you like, camel rides and amusement rides are also at this park. See the images below of me with some very big kitties. Similar photos of me and other wild animals may be viewed at Me And My Not So Furry Animal Friends, another cool place for any who may want to visit when going to Thailand.

My excursion also includes 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), and the day and night market of Banlampoo. Sadly, the 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 a private visit to the Suphanburi Kwai Farm (buffalo house) a few hours drive from north from Bangkok where we can foray to collect fresh specimens of Copelandia cyanescens.


A short summary of how we all went about our time in Thailand and Cambodia. Normally are flights primarily began in Seattle, San Francisco or in Bangkok. We normally flew on Korean, China or Japan Airlines and sometimes on Northwest Airlines. We would leave Seattle, Washington to San Francisco and then transfer to Toyko, South Korea, Tai Pai, Hong Kong, or Taiwan. Then another connection on to Bangkok where we usually arrive within 14 to 24 hours after our departure in the USA, arriving either at the Don Muang International Airport or the new airport that opened recently in 2007 with the streamed sky train to save the cost of the taxi-fare, which is not expensive unless you forget to barter the fare before entering one's taxi service.

We would normally spend our first night at a hotel on Sukumvit Road in Bangkok. And then move for two days to a dump room in the European District of Banlumpho 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, the first 3-4 days in Bangkok can be hected 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.

Go to the next page and click below for information and pictures from Koh Samui

Koh Samui

A little Photoshop at play here.

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