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Archive for February, 2005

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Stamp-Out to Burma

Thursday, February 3rd, 2005


“Stamping out” consists of leaving Krabi Thailand at a border crossing…in the case of Ranong the border is with Burma…and then “stamping” back into Thailand. To do this they went to the Thai immigration office at the port in Ranong to officially exit the country called “stamping out.” Then they hired a boat ($12) for a 40 minutes ride across the estuary to Burma. They paid $5 US (had to be a US bill) at the Burmese immigration office for a stamp in their passports to enter Burma. They walked around the little dumpy Burmese border town trying to avoid the sellers (the big sales item was Viagra…probably from India) for 30 minutes and then took the boat back across to Thailand where they returned to the Thai immigration office to get stamped back into the country for another 30 days.

In my case I had purchased a 60 day Thai tourist visa in Kunming China so I had another couple weeks in my passport. While Bob and Doug were monkeying around with this, Luk and I found a nice air-con hotel that would accept their little Shimizu “Ting Tong” (the name means “crazy”) for the night…having take-out dinner purchased from the local night market and eating it in our room … one of the best meals we had in Thailand…all of us feasting for about $3.

The next day we drove east to Surat Thani on the east coast of the Thai peninsula …visiting a famous Buddhist meditation teaching center (in English) on the way. Had strong thoughts of being dropped off here for a month but there was no air-con or even fans in the rooms and that even I was not ready for. I just settled for my good old TM mantra in my comfortable air-con room in Krabi.

Tsunami In Khao Lak

Tuesday, February 1st, 2005


Before we left Krabi, Bob and Doug both had to “stamp out” of the country at Ranong (on border of Burma) so they could get another 30 days in Thailand. We rented an SUV and drove over to Patong Beach on the west side of the island of Phuket where so many people lost their lives in the tsunami. You would never know anything horrible happened here…businesses up and running and tourists lying on the beach although in minimal numbers compared to before the disaster…but a lot of bare areas where store-houses once stood facing the beach.
Driving up the coast north to Ranong we passed through Khao Lak…a 50 mile stretch of beach that took the worst beating in Thailand. For miles there was nothing but bare bulldozed land…bulldozed in order to remove bodies that were trapped among the roots of Mangrove trees and under rubble. Much of the land here is flat from the beaches to the foothills inland so in places the devestation extended across the road and into the countryside for more than two kilometers. Halfway up a hillside we saw a wrecked coast guard ship sitting at a crazy angle that we understand will be preserved as part of a memorial to all who died here.

We passed a volunteer center that is accepting volunteers for a month at a time and for as long as a year…many of them young people who scrambled down from the backpacker streets in Bangkok…others flying in from the U.S. and Europe…many of them professionals in their fields. At the web site at you can read heart-rending and life-changing message boards…many in English.