Sunday March 1st
Woke up late and wrote my diary. My head was pretty fuzzy but I felt alright.
Got up at 10-30 a.m. and woke some of the others who wanted to go to see the golf tournament. Eventually four of us were ready to go at 10-45 a.m.; myself, Yvonne, Sharon and Aja for the train which left at 11-13 a.m.
We walked to the station and I ran off to get the tickets, but we arrived there a couple of minutes too late and the gates for the train were already closed. As the next train was an hour later and we would have missed the last players going out we decided to give it a miss.
Instead we went down to the New World Centre and had a drink and wandered around for a while before heading back to the hostel. The rest of the day turned out to be pretty lazy. Watched T.V. most of the afternoon and then six of us went for an Indian meal. It was really good and only $15 each.
Came back and watched some more T.V. and then sat chatting in the kitchen for a while before going to bed at 11-45 p.m.
Monday March 2nd
I woke up at 9-30 a.m. after a good night's sleep.
After a weekend off the pain-killers my tooth is feeling alright although still a little painful, but at least I won't have to visit the dentist. Also took the anti-malaria tablets today as I must remember to do every Monday.
We were all hoping to do something really interesting like visiting an island but the weather wasn't too good with a lot of rain and really windy. About 11-00 a.m. five of us left the hostel and after visiting the bank (for Aja, Trish and Graham) and the airline office (for Trish) we got the ferry over to Hong Kong.
Looked around the Museum of Art and then sat in the Library for a while before heading back to Kowloon. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the shops and markets, where we bought a few vegetables for an evening meal.
Got back to the hostel at 4-00 p.m. and after chatting with a German girl for a while had a shower before having a meal together. There were four of us, the two Swedish girls, Graham and myself. The meal tasted quite good and seemed very good value for $4 each, which is all it cost.
Sat around for a while chatting before going in to watch T.V. and write a letter to Rita. Half way through watching a soccer match between Notts.Forest and Man.United I got bad stomach cramps and the shits. Aja also had the same problem although so far Sharon and Graham are both alright.
Took some tablets and my stomach now seems alright. About 9-30 p.m. Peter (the guy in charge of the hostel) asked me if I wanted to work tomorrow. It is at a different studio and I have accepted. I will be the only one going and must be there by 7-00 a.m. so am going to bed at 10-30 p.m. If I don't feel well tomorrow then I will ask Graham to do it.
Tuesday March 3rd
Woke up at 6-30 a.m. and felt much better although a little weak.
Got washed and dressed and after posting my letter to Rita I caught a taxi to the T.V. studio where I arrived at 7-00 a.m.
Met the producer who showed me to the canteen where we sat for half-an-hour drinking coffee. He then came back and told me that production had been delayed until 1-00 p.m.
So after breakfast I headed back to the hostel and at 9-00 a.m. I went back to bed. Woke up again at 11-00 a.m. and after a spot more breakfast met up with Colin (an English guy who had lived in Australia for a while and worked with us on Friday) with whom I will be working for the afternoon.
We left at midday and arrived at the studio about 12-45 p.m. Shortly afterwards we were taken out to the location which was a squatter's village and the scene also involved a bridge over the main road. The scene was from a detective story.
Colin and I were meant to be members of the C.I.D. We didn't have to do much and we spent most of the afternoon sitting in the van chatting.
We finished at 4-30 p.m. which was great as we still receive HK$100 for the session. I should also receive $15 for my taxi fare this morning and another $20 for the overtime from Friday. If I can keep getting two or three days work a week Hong Kong will not be a very expensive place to stay at all.
Got a bus back to the hostel, watched television for a while and I wrote this diary. I should mention that this afternoon was really beautiful. The sun appeared for the first time since my arrival here and the clouds seemed to be breaking up. Hope it stays like this.
About 9-00 p.m. Sharon, Ami (an Indian girl) and I got the funicular to the Peak and had a great time walking around and looking at the lights of Hong Kong. We then went for a couple of beers in a bar and then back to the hostel where we sat around chatting and drinking before going to bed at 2-00 a.m.
Wednesday March 4th
Woke at 9-00 a.m., got washed and sorted out some laundry which I took downstairs (cost HK$9 for a load) and it will be ready this evening.
Bought a paper and then sat upstairs in the hostel chatting and reading.
Sharon and Aja are leaving this afternoon for Bangkok. Colin and I left at 11-30 a.m. to go to Aberdeen. We caught the ferry and then after visiting the post office caught a No.70M bus.
We had a pretty hair-rising drive sitting in the front seats On arrival in Aberdeen we wandered around the harbour areas being constantly pestered by women wanting to take us out in their sampoons. The whole harbour was really interesting with a vast assortment of different boats, used mostly as accommodation and restaurants.
We then wandered around the street markets, which I always find fascinating, although the habits and ways of the stall-keepers can be pretty revolting sometimes. We saw them killing chicks and then skinning them for the customer or eating a curry dinner perched on top of the cage of chicks with a couple of dead ones lying around.
The culture is all very different but extremely interesting as well.
We caught a bus back to Hong Kong arriving there about 3-30 p.m. and then, after grabbing a snack, we went back to the hostel. Sat around playing a big crib championship (best of 9 games) which we eventually finished at 12-15 a.m. (Colin won 5-4).
We had a break between 7-00 p.m. and 9-00 p.m. when I went for a meal with Trish and Graham (who are leaving tomorrow) and Ami. We had a really good Indian meal which cost $20 each.
After we had finished crib I sat around chatting with Graham and drinking a few beers. There is a possibility that I could meet up with him in Australia. Eventually went to bed at 1-45 a.m.
Thursday March 5th
Didn't get up until 11-30 a.m. I am starting to get lazy as I get more used to the place.
It seems incredible that I have already been here almost two weeks, although in other ways it seems much longer since I left England and an age since I left Germany (it was nearly four weeks ago).
Money seems to be stretching quite well at the moment. The real expenses will come when I start getting flights. My intention is to fly to Bangkok from here ($600) and from there move about by train and bus through Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and then ferries and bus through Indonesia.
Went with Colin down to the supermarket and spent an hour wandering about buying food and even testing some wine which was on promotion. I bought cereal, milk, a couple of package meals, bread and peanut butter. We were back at the hostel by 2-00 p.m. and sat around watching T.V. and chatting.
Later on I caught the ferry over to Hong Kong to check up on air fares to see if there were any good deals going. There didn't seem to be.
Got back to the hostel again at 5-00 p.m. and the day suddenly started livening up. A girl I had been chatting with the night before had a bit of grass so we went into the bathroom and had a joint.
It was really good stuff and I got pretty stoned for the first time since arriving here. We then sat around watching children's programmes on T.V. with a great buzz on. The best was the cartoon starring Scooby Doo and Scrappy Doo.
After that we managed to get a meal together. It was noodles with various spices and cost only 80c but was really tasty.
At 7-00 p.m. I was shocked out of my lethargy when one of the guys running the hostel asked me if I wanted to work this evening. Was still pretty out of my head but agreed to it.
Caught a taxi with another guy to the studio and then had to sit around for an hour before the producer came up to us. I then found out it was not possible for me to work on this series as I had already been in it once as a detective (on Tuesday).
I headed back to the hostel again where I was refunded for my taxi fare and given a couple of dollars compensation. I was a bit annoyed about the whole thing but have been told that I will be first choice for the next part that comes up.
I spent the rest of the evening playing crib and drinking a few beers with Colin, before going to bed about 1-00 a.m.
Friday March 6th
Got up at 10-00 a.m. and had some breakfast of corn flakes and a couple of cups of tea.
The weather is fairly warm although cloudy again (as it has been for the last couple of days) with quite a strong breeze. The humidity is right down to only 62%.
The hostel seems a bit dead at the moment after all the others have moved on.
Colin and I seem to be hanging around a lot of the time, not spending too much money and hoping that work will turn up. Colin should be flying back to England in about three weeks and I will probably head off in 1 or 2 weeks’ time.
Sat in the kitchen for a while before Colin came into the room, stoned out of his mind. He had just had some of the smoke I'd had last night. He was in no state to make any decisions and certainly not to go out anywhere.
I left around midday and headed for the island of Cheung Chau. Caught the Star Ferry and then got the ferry ($2) which took an hour. Had a very interesting time wandering about the island for a couple of hours.
It is an amazing place which looks like a Greek island except for the Chinese signs. The island is shaped like a dumb-bell and the main town is built on the narrow bar (¼ mile wide).
The town is really interesting with lots of narrow streets, street markets, cafes and varying styles of housing. These ranged from the very poor near the centre to the very rich in the outskirts up in the hills. I walked quite a lot up through numerous cemeteries on the hillsides and also saw a funeral procession.
Cheung Chau is really laid-back after Hong Kong and made a very pleasant change. Caught the ferry back again and was at the hostel by 6-00 p.m., where I had dinner with Colin; a concoction made up of rice, soya beans, pork and various spices. It was really tasty and filling, very inexpensive as well.
We watched T.V. for a while, played crib and then had the last of the smoke which the American girl (Sonya) had. Got pleasantly stoned and spent the rest of the evening drinking a couple of beers and having a good laugh with Colin.
Went to bed at 1-30 a.m.
Saturday March 7th
Was awoken at 7-30 a.m. by one of the guys from the hostel who asked me if I wanted to work today.
I was feeling pretty groggy from a cold I have picked up but agreed. The $100 will pay towards my accommodation for the next week.
Set out at 8-00 a.m. and six of us got two taxis to the R.T.V studios where we were made up and then hung around in the canteen until 10-30 a.m. Colin and I played crib.
We then got a lift out to the location in the countryside in the New Territories where the site was made up to look like a racecourse. We were filming for the same series as the boat scene last week. It is called ‘Hong Kong Gentlemen’ and the first part will be shown on Chinese T.V. on Monday March 9th.
We had a laugh and got on camera quite a bit. Afterwards we had to sign autographs for a load of local kids when we had our dinner break. Most of the time was spent walking around pretending to be placing bets on the horses and mixing with the stars, to give an ‘English’ touch to the scenes.
The work finished at 5-30 p.m. and we eventually got back to the hostel just after 7. We then went and bought some Fosters beers. We cleared the shelf of its contents of 14. Back at the hostel I made a meal of noodles and then we sat down for a Saturday night's entertainment on T.V. with our beer for company.
Colin dozed off around midnight after drinking his seven cans. I finished my beer a bit later and had quite a buzz on (pretty pissed).
Went to bed at 2-00 a.m.
Sunday March 8th
Got up at 10-00 a.m. feeling pretty stuffed up with the cold and muzzy from the beer last night.
Had some breakfast and then sat around watching T.V., as well as writing some letters and postcards. Have the feeling today will be a pretty lazy day.
So it was. I only went out a couple of times, once at 5-00 p.m. to get some beers for the evening, and at 7-00 p.m. when I went for an Indian meal and had eggplant, boneless chicken, potatoes and pea curries with chapattis, really excellent and filling for $18.
The rest of the evening was spent watching T.V., chatting with various people and playing cards while consuming the cans of beer I had bought. Pretty much a non-event of a day and went to bed at 1-00 a.m.
Monday March 9th
Got up at 11-00 a.m. after a restless night, had breakfast and read the newspapers for a while.
Went out at midday and looked around the shops and airline offices. I was firstly looking for a birthday present for Mother (21st) and secondly checking the different prices for flights to Bangkok. The cheapest is $600 through a travel agency which I will book at the end of this week for some time next week.
Also did a bit of shopping before going back to the hostel at 2-00 p.m. Chatted with Colin and also did some reading in between watching Chinese television (saw some trailers in which Colin appeared for the series of ‘Hong Kong Gentlemen’, the first edition is tonight at 9-30 p.m.).
About 5-00 p.m. Peter asked me if I could work tomorrow for R.T.V. I agreed.
I also received a couple of letters, one from Mother and the other from Rita.
The one from Rita was really weird, very short and curt; there seems to be something very wrong. She mentioned that she had been ill but didn't specify at all, just said it was something ‘wrong with her silly head’. Am quite worried about her and hope there is nothing too bad happening. Will write a letter to her tonight to try and find out what is happening.
Had a snack for tea and then sat watching T.V. and writing a letter to Rita which was quite difficult.
At 9-30 p.m. the first edition of ‘Hong Kong Gentlemen’ came on and I got a glimpse of myself. Colin and some of the others got a lot of exposure and everyone watching had a good laugh. I then retired to bed as I was meant to be working in the morning.
However, I was woken at 11-45 p.m. and told that the work had been cancelled. So I decided to get up again and chatted for a while with Colin, watched T.V. and then moved into the kitchen with Ami, an American girl and Stuart (an English guy working here as a teacher).
We sat around talking and drinking whisky (I went downstairs twice to get more bottles). Three of us (excluding Ami) dropped a couple of tabs of valium which had really great effects. We didn't get to bed until nearly 7-00 a.m. and by then I was pretty out of it.
Tuesday March 10th
Didn't wake up until 3 in the afternoon after a really deep sleep (valium induced). Was still pretty out of it.
Had a shower which brought me round a bit and then sat watching T.V. and chatting to Colin and Ami, before having a meal with Colin and writing this diary.
Have also received another letter (a really long one this time) from Rita and she sounds really mucked up. I still can't quite sort out what has happened to her but she has definitely had some sort of mental illness and is really confused at the moment. I feel pretty upset about it and can't help feeling guilty and blaming myself for whatever has happened to her.
Today is definitely going to be another non-event. Don't feel like doing much and will probably spend the evening watching T.V. and generally relaxing, trying to sort my thoughts out.
Will go out tomorrow and book my ticket to Bangkok for next week. I spent the evening watching T.V., drinking some beer and chatting to a few people before going to bed at 11-00 p.m. Colin and I should be working for R.T.V. tomorrow.
Wednesday March 11th
Colin woke me at 7-45 a.m. I had a wash and then breakfast.
We got a taxi with two others to the T.V. studio where we were dressed up as Russian soldiers for a series. We sat in the canteen until nearly 11-15 a.m. Colin and I sat playing crib so the time went by quite quickly.
We were then called downstairs where we were meant to be defending the Russian embassy from an attack by a group of Chinese. We had long shotguns which fired fake shots. The different scenes were shot really quickly with a maximum of only two takes for each.
Our parts were finished by 1-00 p.m. so we went and got changed. Then caught a bus so that Colin and I were back at the hostel before 2.
Bought nine cans of Carlton Export beer each for this evening, our reward for a good day's work. I went out to book my flight to Bangkok at a nearby travel agency which offered the best deal on flights at $600 with Air France. I booked the flight which leaves next Wednesday (18th) and will pick up the ticket tomorrow or on Friday. I must also get my visa for Thailand either tomorrow or Friday. Hopefully there won't be any problems.
I then had a look around for a present for Mother's birthday. I found a very neat Parker pen with a quartz watch built into it which I managed to get for $65, after a bit of bargaining. Will get that packed and sent off after I've written a letter to go with it.
My financial situation is not too bad. With perhaps another day's work I should be able to survive on that cash I have for the next week. Hopefully then in Thailand I will be able to survive three or four weeks on the next DM500 travellers cheque (as long as things are as cheap as they are reputed to be).
I had tea of noodles with some creamed corn at 5-30 p.m. before spending the evening having a great laugh. Colin and I had our nine beers each and every one enjoyed ‘Hong Kong Gentlemen’ in which we made a brief appearance again.
Went to bed quite early at 11-15 p.m.
Thursday March 12th
Colin woke me early but I didn't get up until 8-15 a.m. after listening to the radio for a while.
Had breakfast of cornflakes and a cup of tea before popping down to the YMCA and getting four photos taken. I need one for the Thai visa and will undoubtedly need the others later on for other visas. Colin then went off to go shopping and have his hair cut.
I caught a ferry over to Hong Kong and walked for ½ hour out to Wanchai where the Thai consulate is situated. Filled out the application form before handing over my passport and photo. I got given a receipt and must collect the visa at 4-00 p.m. on Monday (costs $25).
I then wandered around Wanchai for a while before catching a tram back into central Hong Kong, where I posted the present and a letter to Mother.
Then headed back to the hostel where I arrived shortly after midday.
Today is a beautiful day, quite humid but really warm and pleasant, the best weather I've seen since arriving here. Went out about 1-00 p.m. to the supermarket and bought enough food to last me until next Wednesday.
Apart from collecting my air ticket, I spent most of the afternoon sitting around in the T.V. room chatting and reading. Got some dinner later on of noodles with vegetables & curry gravy, it was very tasty. I spent the rest of the evening watching T.V. and reading. Also played cards and chatted with Ami and Colin.
Went to bed at 12-30 a.m.
Friday March 13th
I woke at 9-15 a.m. after some really vivid dreams.
One was about being with Wendy (my first love) and a lot of really weird things happening such as being on trains and buses going all over the world.
On one bus we were being driven by a vicar of some sort and we got off without paying because he had been driving so badly. He caught Wendy but forgave us, at which point the whole bus started jeering and we ran away only to find that I had left my coat on the bus and it was really cold.
In another part we were sitting in a train at a station when there were suddenly screams, flashes of blue light and shots of people being electrocuted. Thinking our train would be caught I panicked and began running but the train started moving so I tried to board again through some rickety old wooden doors.
There were many other things that happened but I have just tried to capture the most vivid memories I can remember now. Whilst involved it was so real that for the first time in a long time I was genuinely relieved to wake up and find it was all just in my imagination.
Washed and then had some breakfast, fried eggs on toast + weetabix. I also paid $75 for my next (and last) five nights here. We will be working this evening from 7-00 p.m. so with the money from that I should be able to avoid changing another T/Chq before leaving.
About midday three of us went to a small park situated on a hill up behind the hostel. It was mostly concrete but as it was a nice day (sunny with some clouds, 26C) that didn't really matter. I did some reading, Colin wrote some letters and Ami did some studying. Got a bit burnt across my neck.
At 4-00 p.m. we went back to the hostel where I cooked some dinner. It was quite nice, macaroni cheese with curry sauce and eggs, all on toast. Then we sat around watching T.V. before having a wash and getting changed. Colin and I caught a bus to the R.T.V. studios where we arrived at 7-00 p.m.
After some hanging around we were made up and given costumes (I was dressed up as a 19th Century Italian). We then sat around in the make-up room until we were needed, which turned out to be after 11-00 p.m.
Some of the others had a lot more work but three of us, Colin, Stuart and I only had one scene to do so we had time to watch T.V. (including ‘Hong Kong Gentlemen’ in which Colin appeared quite a lot).
Our scene involved sitting at a table as international investigators trying a Chinese criminal. It took an hour to get everything right and then we were able to leave.
Got a taxi back to the hostel and bought a couple of bottles of beer. Sat down with a crowd watching a horror movie until late. Ami told us that a guy just arrived from Thailand had brought us a cassette and letter from Sharon, Aja and Graham who all met up in Chiang Mai.
Went to bed at 2-45 a.m. It is very humid.
Saturday March 14th
Woke up at 9-30 a.m. after another night of weird and vivid dreams.
Had breakfast and collected my money for last night's work ($100). Then went out to do some shopping and post the next section of this diary to Janice. Bought a few beers for this evening, some toothpaste and shampoo, a pair of flip-flops and some sun-tan lotion.
Then went up with Colin to the park where we sat chatting, reading, sunbathing (it was really nice, 27C) and listening to the radio. I left at 3-00 p.m. as my shoulders were getting quite burnt (despite the sun-tan lotion) and sat around the hostel chatting to Ami for a while.
I then met the guy, Tony, who had just come from Thailand. He gave me the cassette from Sharon, Aja and Graham which I listened to on his recorder. It was great to hear from them. The cassette lasted 20 minutes and they are staying in what sounds like a great place near to Chiang Mai.
They have asked me to bring a few things with me (a couple of calculators and a Walkman cassette player) so I'll have to consider whether it's worthwhile changing more money.
Tony left Chiang Mai on the 9th and on the cassette the three of them said they would be there another two weeks (that would make it the 24th). I will arrive in Bangkok on the 18th and could be in Chiang Mai by the 19th so I should meet up with them ok.
Had a shower, partly to soothe my burnt shoulders. Then made some dinner of noodles, creamed corn, assorted vegetables and some curry sauce. After a short rest on by bed I re-joined the T.V. addicts.
Went to bed at 1-30 a.m.
Sunday March 15th
Woke up at 10-00 a.m. after another night of vivid dreams (I must be restless to move on).
There was a big thunder and lightning storm last night and the temperature has dropped dramatically to 19C. Went downstairs to get a paper and then had breakfast before sitting down to read the paper, write a couple of cards and a letter to Rita (the first since I received her long letter last week).
I watched some T.V. for most of the afternoon (including Fawlty Towers and a couple of sports shows). Colin and I then went out and had a wander around the shops, looking at comparative prices for presents Colin wants to buy and also at calculators and walkmans, in case I decide to take any to Thailand.
We then went up to the park for a while where it was very cool after the storms, an amazing difference from yesterday. Everywhere was very crowded today, as is normal for a Sunday, when all the Chinese have their day out.
Back at the hostel I made another tasty meal, a real mixture of eggs, noodles, sweetcorn, milk and some sauces. Colin and Ami went over to the ‘Poor Man's Nightclub’ which they hadn't seen before but I stayed at the hostel reading and watching T.V.
I am feeling a bit lonely at the moment and looking forward to getting on the move again. This place is great when there are a few people around here but it seems pretty dead at the moment.
Will collect my visa and get some laundry done tomorrow. I also hope to visit another of the islands (maybe even the Portuguese colony of Macau) on Tuesday.
Went to bed quite early at 11-30 p.m.
Monday March 16th
I didn't get to sleep until 2-00 a.m. this morning. Was very restless and couldn't relax (perhaps the lack of beer). When I did go to sleep I slept well and woke up at 9-00 a.m.
Had a wash, then got my laundry together and took it downstairs before having breakfast. Left the hostel and headed to Tiger Balm gardens. Got a ferry and then a No.11 bus and was there by 10-45 a.m.
Had a good look around; the gardens are very interesting although not much grass around. The area was constructed by the brothers who made a fortune out of selling Tiger Balm ointments.
It is quite run down but at its height must have been magnificent; the whole thing was built on a hillside and consists of numerous steps, concrete monuments and pagodas, with lots of different scenes made with models of plaster on metal skeleton bases.
After wandering around for a while I then headed up some rotting steps into the hills behind the gardens where I sat for a while in quiet. Then headed back through the gardens and walked down the hill to Wanchai.
To kill some time I took various buses and trams around Hong Kong visiting the Western Market and Happy Valley. Also found out about trips to Macau and decided it was too expensive and too much hassle to try and do the trip in one day. Besides that the weather has turned pretty ropy again.
About 3-00 p.m. I picked up my Thai visa which was all fine.
For a change I caught the subway back to Kowloon ($2). The whole system is very modern and the trains are built in England but I'm afraid I hit it at one of the problem times. The train was delayed for quarter of an hour.
Got back to the hostel (after picking up my laundry), had a shower and then watched T.V. for a while before getting some dinner at 6-30 p.m. (another tasty concoction along the same lines as normal).
I also received a letter today from Sharon, Aja and Graham. They had sent it before the cassette and it contained basically the same message but it was still great to get the letter.
Watched T.V. most of the evening and even bought a bottle of beer later on (my first since Saturday). Went to bed at 11-30 p.m. but was again restless and couldn't get to sleep until 1-00 a.m.
Tuesday March 17th
After a restless night's sleep (with a lot of weird dreams about England and things that have happened to me there) I woke at 10-00 a.m.
Got up, washed and then had breakfast of crushed pineapple and cornflakes before sitting down in the T.V. room and reading the morning paper. Will shop around today for prices on calculators, walkmans and medical insurance.
Have decided to pay for all of these with my Access card (which is widely accepted here) to avoid changing another T/Chq into HK$. I will later change my remaining HK$ into Thai baht and this should get me to Chiang Mai, where Sharon and Graham can pay me for the calculators and walkman in Thai money.
Went for a wander with Colin and then we caught a bus out to Kowloon City which was also meant to be an interesting shopping area. We had a good afternoon looking in the different shops comparing prices (Colin wants to buy five walkmans to sell in England).
We were also deafened by aircraft swooping in incredibly low over the houses before landing at the airport.
In the end we didn't buy anything because prices were about the same as Kowloon. Caught a bus back at 3-00 p.m. and went to the supermarket where we bought six beers each for this evening. Took them back and then went to do some real shopping.
I bought two calculator/games ($85 each) for Graham and Sharon. On trying to buy a Sanyo walkman (as requested by Sharon) I found the cheapest was $380 and most shops would charge 5%-7% extra for a credit card, making a total of $400 (she had given a price of $325). So I decided not to buy one. Also decided against getting medical insurance for the same reason and will buy that in Thailand.
Returned to the hostel at 5-00 p.m., had a shower and then did some packing for the big move tomorrow. Made a dinner and then sat eating that, watching T.V. before starting on my beers and writing this diary. I don't expect this evening to be so exciting, no grand farewell, but it should also spare some of my money for a good time in Thailand.
Watched T.V. most of the evening, chatted with Colin for the rest. Also swapped some addresses, he has some good ones for me if I get as far as Australia. Ami also gave me her address in India.
We bought a few more bottles of beer and sat around chatting and having a good laugh at a couple of old films on T.V. before going to bed at 2-30 a.m.
Wednesday March 18th
Woke up at 10-30 a.m. with a pretty thick head.
Washed and had some breakfast before catching a ferry over to Hong Kong where I bought some Thai money (400 baht). The exchange rate is just under 4 baht to one dollar (HK).
Chatted to Colin in the hostel and he has found a good deal for a walkman which I am considering buying for Sharon before leaving at 2-45 p.m. (my flight goes at 4-45 p.m. and I arrive in Bangkok at 6-15 p.m.).
Went out again at 1-30 p.m. and managed to get the cassette player for $375 (including Access charges). Very pleased with that, am almost tempted to keep it myself.
The weather is bad at the moment, very humid with lots of rain, thunder and lightning. Great weather to fly out in. Did some last minute packing and got my $10 deposit for my key. I have $50 left (must pay $20 airport tax).
Said my good-byes to Colin and a couple of others, before leaving the hostel at 2-45 p.m. I checked the mail and was delighted to see a letter from Jan & Jim, incredible timing. It was really nice to hear from them.
Waited nearly half-an-hour for the airport bus which also got stuck in heavy traffic, so I didn't get to the airport until 3-45 p.m. Checked in straight away and then wandered about a bit before going through passport control and then boarding the plane at 4-30 p.m.
The plane was an Air France 747 stopping at Bangkok, Bombay and finally Paris. I am sure there must be a good trick buying a ticket to Bangkok and somehow staying on the plane to Europe (as long as the plane isn't full) because they hand out reserved signs to the various destinations without checking tickets. You'd have to be pretty brazen-faced though.
It was a good flight if a little bumpy and we arrived at 6-30 p.m. local time (an hour behind Hong Kong). On getting off the plane the change in temperature was really noticeable. It is dusk and still 31C.
Went through immigration (got a two month visa) and customs incredibly quickly and was outside by 7-00 p.m.
After fighting my way past all the touts wanting me to take a taxi I found my way out to the main road where I needed to catch a 29 bus to Bangkok railway station. After fifteen minutes I caught one and paid the 4 baht fare. It was nearly an hour before we reached our destination.
I checked on trains but the last one direct to Chiang Mai had already left so I enquired about buses. A guy at the enquiry desk wrote the ‘northern bus terminal’ out in Thai for me and I then had to catch the same no.29 bus a third of the way back the way I had already come.
The conductress seemed quite amused but was very helpful and indicated where I should get off. Arrived at the bus station at 9-00 p.m. and bought a ticket to Chiang Mai for 105 baht.
The bus is pretty ropy so I don't anticipate getting much sleep. It should leave at 10-00 p.m. and we arrive early tomorrow morning. I appear to be the only foreigner on the bus it seems, should be an interesting if tiring journey.
Before boarding at 9-30 p.m. I bought a pepsi (5 baht) which the girl poured into a plastic bag containing ice and I drank through a straw (different anyway). Caused amusement for a couple of Thai blokes by sitting writing this.
I was wrong about being the only foreigner as I was joined by two New Zealand guys and three Australian girls. One of them, Ann, sat next to me and we had an interesting chat. She has been travelling with her friend for six months after finishing college.
About midnight I dropped off to sleep for a while before we made a stop in a square where I bought a Fanta to quench my thirst. We started off again at 1-30 a.m. and I was soon dozing again.
Thursday March 19th
Came to at 6-30 a.m. after dozing most of the night and felt fairly rested.
Saw the sunrise over the hills, which was really fantastic. It seems comparatively cool in the mornings, refreshing even. The countryside looked really good, a little like parts of Spain but not so arid and of course the buildings and sign-writings were completely different.
Arrived in Chiang Mai just after 7-00 a.m. It is very quiet and laid back considering the fact that it is the second largest city in Thailand. A complete contrast with what I saw and have heard of Bangkok.
I parted ways with the others who were going to stay in Chiang Mai. I got a taxi/truck out to Isra House which is a little way out of town and cost 20 baht.
The place is really quiet, like a family house. I was greeted like an old friend and shown my room, a double in which each bed only costs 30 baht a night (very reasonable). If I had come with someone else it would be even cheaper, 50 baht for the room. I checked the book and Graham, Sharon & Aja are still registered here.
I had a wash, wrote this diary and then rested on my bed for a while. Graham came in at 9-15 a.m. and woke me from a pretty weird dream in which all the worst possible things that could happen in a place were occurring; really vivid but very difficult to capture in writing.
Sharon & Aja left to go on a walking tour of the tribes on Tuesday but should be back on Saturday or Sunday. Graham really rates this place (he was here for two months before) and it does seem pretty incredible.
It is run by a couple of Thai girls, you get the free use of a bicycle and the bill is added up and you pay when you leave. Graham is moving into my room so it will then cost 25 baht a night. It is peaceful, being on the outskirts of the town and I can see myself having a really relaxing time. Could be difficult to leave but as it is so cheap I have no real time limit (maybe three or four weeks, we'll see).
They also have some really good tapes here so I will make full use of Sharon's Sanyo until she gets back. By the time I give it to her I will be regretting not getting one for myself. Maybe I can do that later in Singapore.
As I write this next section I am sitting on the verandah at 6-00 p.m. listening to one of Graham's tapes; Christopher Cross, and it sounds magic over the walkman.
We've had a great day, definitely the best since the start of this trip. The weather is fantastic, hot (36C), dry and really agreeable.
After sitting around chatting to the two girls for a while (Graham speaks quite good Thai and one of the girls who is married and pregnant speaks good English) we cycled into Chiang Mai, which is at least three miles away (I should get pretty fit while staying here).
Graham went for a shave at the barber who owns Isra House. He had the works for a cost of 8 baht, great value.
About 11-00 a.m. we went to a Chinese place where Graham treated me to a dim sum meal (lots of different snacks which you choose and the bill is worked out by how many you've eaten). We had fourteen different dishes and countless cups of tea and were really full up by the end of it. The total cost was 62 baht.
We then wandered around some markets before heading back to Isra where we got stuck into a kilo of lichees Graham had bought and some water melon (was given several other fruits during the afternoon but have no idea of their names).
Graham then went off with one of the girls to the market and I sat chatting with the other (married one). I do know their names but can't express them in writing so well, something like Tuie and Ead.
The other two came back at 2-00 p.m. and Graham & I then headed off on the bikes again to a swimming pool at a hotel a mile away, which was a great and surprising substitute for the fact that there was no beach. Borrowed one of Graham's student cards and stuck a picture of myself on it so I got in for 10 baht instead of 20.
We sat around and I swam a lot until after 5-00 p.m. I read a short German book (Die Katzen, a thriller) to keep in practice. Sat in the sun for a couple of hours and started to get some colour but then sat in the shade. I've got plenty of time to get brown without getting burnt.
We then cycled to a nearby shop where we bought a bottle of Thai whisky (32 baht + 5 baht for ice).
Have had a shower and am now on the verandah trying the whisky (half the strength of normal stuff but still pretty good). Graham and Tuie are cooking a special meal at the moment which we'll get at 7-30 p.m. I am sitting here relaxed and more content than for a long time (could just do with a joint now).
Graham has told me there is plenty around but it is a little frowned upon by the girls, although tolerated. I will probably wait until there are some like souls around before indulging again. It's meant to be really good, cheap and it's going to hit me. God, I'm rambling now, must be relaxed.
Had a smashing dinner consisting of a podded young pea and meatbread curry plus mushrooms in a really nice sauce and rice. We were served with loads and managed to eat most of it.
The rest of the evening Graham and I sat around chatting and drinking our bottle of local whisky with plenty of ice. We talked about a lot of different things while getting a buzz off the whisky. Later joined by an English guy for a while before we all went to bed at just after midnight.
Friday March 20th
Woke at 10-15 a.m. after a really deep sleep (Graham gave me a valium last night) and felt really refreshed.
Washed and then sat around at the front of the house writing and reading. Also played with one of the calculator games I had bought for Graham & Sharon. Got really addicted to it and also introduced it to a couple of German guys so I had a good chance to exercise my German again.
Graham and Ead went out and brought a water melon and also an indescribable salad containing crabs, various vegetables and chillies. We ate that first and it was really hot so it was refreshing having a water melon afterwards.
Sat around chatting with the girls for a while before cycling out to the swimming-pool with Graham where we arrived at 2-00 p.m. Stayed there for nearly four hours reading, swimming and generally lazing around in the sun. The weather was hotter than yesterday but still pleasant.
Returned to Isra's, had a shower and then sat around relaxing for a while, reading and playing the game again. Had dinner which was a specialty of the house, an Isra omelette, and was really delicious.
About 8-00 p.m. we cycled into town where we had a look around the night bazaar which was very interesting. Stopped off a couple of times to get different snacks and drinks. Also saw Ann (the Australian girl from the bus) and had a short chat with her.
We headed back on the bikes to Isra's and sat around chatting to a Singapore guy called Ananda, who spends most of the time with a tribe out in the hills. He has spent six months so far studying them for a thesis, it sounded really fascinating. He receives money from a scholarship sponsored by V.W. and the Singapore government.
Four of us went to a nearby bar called ‘Video & Cafe’ where he treated us to a couple of bottles of whisky (he refused to let us pay for anything claiming that this was the Thai mentality and we could repay him one day, a great attitude, especially when you're on the receiving end).
On returning to the house we sat around talking and drinking (we had been given another small bottle of whisky). Later on we were joined by the two Germans and an English guy.
Graham has decided to go with Ananda up to the tribe tomorrow. I hope to go when they return on the 28th for a couple of days, should be fascinating.
Most of the others went to bed at 2-00 a.m. but Ananda and I sat talking and drinking. He managed to produce five bottles of beer which are expensive here (30 baht a bottle) but again he refused any money. Had a great chat before retiring at 4-30 a.m.
Saturday March 21st
Woke at 10-00 a.m. and saw Graham & Ananda off in the truck.
Sat around chatting with the English guy and Ead for a while before doing some reading and playing with the calculator game again (it can be very addictive).
In the afternoon John (another English guy) and I cycled off to the swimming pool where we had a lazy afternoon. There were a lot of children around so it wasn't as quiet as normal but still very pleasant.
Returned to the house where I lay down on my bed for a while before hearing the voices of Sharon & Aja and the others just returned from their five day trek. They had a great time and it sounds really interesting.
The opium scene sounds great and everybody said how much they enjoyed it. It cost anywhere from 5-10 baht for a pipeful which is really cheap. We sat around swapping experiences and I gave Sharon the calculator game and walkman. She was overjoyed.
Had dinner of sweet & sour mixed vegetables which was delicious and really filling (10 baht). Some of the others headed off into town for a meal but I sat around on the verandah reading and chatting to the two German guys who are leaving on a five-day trek tomorrow morning.
It was a very restful evening, didn't even drink anything, limiting myself to a bottle of water. I had hoped to get a smoke this evening from a Canadian guy just returned from the trek but he crashed out very early. Maybe tomorrow, he may also be able to get hold of some for me.
Went to my room and sat around for a while playing the calculator game before going to sleep at midnight.
Sunday March 22nd
I woke at 10-00 a.m. after a really restful night's sleep.
Had a coffee and sat on the verandah with Sharon & John writing and chatting. Also want to get a couple of letters written today if I'm not too lazy. The weather is beautiful as it always seems to be here.
I have decided to stay around until at least the middle of April when they have a big water-festival, which is reputed to be especially good here in Chiang Mai. Sometime in between I will either go with the Ananda to his tribe or on one of these five-day treks to different tribes or maybe even both.
The one thing I've got plenty of anyway, is time at the moment. Things are so cheap here that on the money I have I could survive around here for months.
I am writing the next addition to this at midday on Monday and will try and recollect what has happened in the last twenty-four hours.
Spent most of the afternoon sitting around reading, chatting and playing with the calculator game. Had a meal of chillied beans, beef and rice at 3-00 p.m. as it looked as though we were going to have a good drinking session.
One of the Canadian guys had cycled off and returned with a couple of bottles of really strong whisky which we all chipped in for and we started to drink glasses of it with ice and lemon juice. Five of us were then planning to go and play mini-golf at a course nearby.
I then made my big mistake. I had a couple of joints of grass which almost literally knocked me out (the most powerful gear I've ever smoked). I was incapable of going along with the others and just collapsed on the verandah and crashed out.
Was asleep for nearly four hours before I started to come around a bit. I then sat around reading but was incapable of talking to anyone. The others came back falling all over the place (they had drunk more beer while playing golf). I must have seemed really anti-social but I was still in no real state to communicate.
The others retired to one of the rooms at 9-30 p.m. but I just sat around reading a book, which I really got into, before eventually retiring at 11-30 p.m.
Monday March 23rd
Sharon woke me up at 8-00 a.m. after a pretty good night's sleep.
Still felt quite dazed but agreed to cycle into town with some of the others. We went to a steakhouse where I had breakfast and a couple of cups of coffee and sat around talking for a long time.
Then I went with Sharon and another Swedish girl to a tribal clothes shop where they bought a lot of different things. After cycling around for a while and stopping off for a banana split we headed for the Central Post Office.
We had great fun weaving in and out of the traffic; there are a lot of cycles, three-wheelers and motorbikes but everything including the cars seems to move along at the same pace.
At the post office I sent off a letter to Rita which I had written yesterday afternoon (before I got out of my head) and also instructed them to forward any mail to Isra House.
We then cycled the long way back home which seemed to take hours. It was by now nearly midday and very, very hot. Back at the house I got a drink and then sat in my room writing this and cooling off (also trying to get my head together again).
Headed down to the pool and spent a lazy afternoon reading, chatting and swimming. Most of the others headed off at 4-00 p.m. but I hung around until 5-00 p.m. or so before walking back.
Had a short siesta in my room before having a shower and dinner of mixed vegetables, beef and rice. Sat around reading for a while but then I weakened and bought a beer.
I also had a joint with Scott and Willy (the two Canadian guys). This one didn't knock me out quite so much but still left me pretty dazed and speechless. Sat reading and listening to the myriad of different sounds around the place, which were pretty mind-blowing.
Went to bed at 12-30 a.m., still pretty out of it, and lay awake for a while before dozing off.
Tuesday March 24th
Woke up at 9-00 a.m.
As the others had already left I headed into town on my own and cycled around for ages, managing to get lost a couple of times. Bought some aerogrammes and stamps for postcards but was shocked by the price (60 baht) as it was all the cash I had left.
Changed HK$20 to provide a little more pocket money, had a coke in a small local restaurant for 3½ baht and then spent some more time trying to orientate myself.
Chiang Mai is a fascinating place with the old town bordered by moats and remains of the old gates, which used to be entrances to the town. Most of the shopping areas are situated between the old town and the main river so it should be fairly easy to find ones way round, but I found it rather confusing.
Bought some postcards and also some penicillin (8 baht for 10) for an open sore which has developed on my right shoulder. It is possible to get almost anything in the chemists here without a prescription although I haven't as yet indulged myself.
My medical insurance has now expired but I will not bother to get it renewed yet as I don't anticipate any great problems and can't seem to find anywhere here that deals in that sort of thing. Will probably wait until I leave here and get some in Bangkok when I pass through on my way south.
Met up with Scott and Marie later in the morning and we stopped off for some tea before heading back to the house. Sharon gave me most of the money towards her walkman and calculator so I am solvent again. Retired to my room for a while. Although I am getting used to cycling again it is still very tiring being out in the heat of the day.
Later on I went to the swimming-pool and sat around reading and swimming until John (the English guy) arrived and we had a really interesting chat. There were a lot of clouds and it was quite hazy later on in the afternoon.
I didn't walk back to the house until after 6-00 p.m. and saw the sun going down behind the hills, which was very colourful because of the haze.
Enjoyed a shower and then wrote some postcards. Had a meal later on of Isra omelette with garlic which was very tasty. Sat around talking and later on indulged in a beer and a joint with Scott (this stuff was slightly milder from one of the hill tribes).
Spent the rest of the evening chatting with some of the others and especially Willy (who has been out of his head most of the day). He is heading off tomorrow back to a Chinese village they visited on the trek. The others, Sharon, Aja, Marie and Scott will be leaving tomorrow.
I could go with them but prefer to wait until Monday when hopefully I'll be able to go with Ananda to the village where Graham is at the moment. I think he'll only be going back for four or five days but it should be really interesting.
Went to bed at 12-30 a.m.
Wednesday March 25th
Came to at 10-00 a.m., washed and then sat around on the verandah writing and reading. My intention is have a thoroughly lazy day today.
I wrote a letter to mother and also included a cheque to cover the Access bill from Hong Kong. Early afternoon I went off to the swimming-pool.
Returned to the house and had a shower before sitting around on the verandah again chatting with some of the others.
Then at 6-00 p.m. Graham arrived back from his few days at the tribe. He had a really enjoyable time and says that I should take the chance to go up there if I can. Had some food of sweet & sour vegetables and then sat around chatting again, mostly to Scott & Graham. Scott & Marie will be moving on tomorrow although Sharon & Aja are not feeling too well so they are going to stay on another couple of days.
Had a joint with Graham in our room and then once more sat outside on the verandah talking with Scott, Stan (an American), John and Brendan (an Irish guy). Had a very interesting conversation although I didn't get that involved.
Went to bed at 11-30 p.m. but couldn't get to sleep because of mosquitoes. Got a coil which cleared the air and was eventually able to sleep at 12-30 a.m.
Thursday March 26th
I woke several times before eventually getting up at 10-00 a.m.
Graham has already gone to town and taken my letter to post. He will also collect what he owes me. Sharon gave me her other 400 yesterday.
Graham is thinking of leaving this weekend as he is already way behind schedule. He always seems to spend longer in places than he ever intends and still wants to visit Sri Lanka and India before going back to Australia. Once there he must do some work and then meet his girlfriend in June.
I'm lucky that I have no deadlines to meet (apart from the limitations of visas and money).
The next section of this diary is being written in most unusual circumstances after a really weird last twenty-four hours which are going to be difficult to relate but I'll try and get everything correct.
About 11-00 a.m. I cycled into town and after a little bit of wandering around found the ‘day market’ which was very interesting. On the third floor they sell clothes and I bargained for a nice pair of cotton trousers which cost me only 50 baht. After a banana milk-shake and some soup I then cycled back to the house.
Ananda was there with some of the people from the tribe he is researching; they had come to Chiangmai to visit a tribesman who had been badly burned in a fire at the village and was staying in a hospital nearby.
Most of them had never been out of the village before and were really withdrawn. Ananda said he would be going back to the village later this afternoon and that I could go with him. I was really pleased and looking forward to it.
Had a shower and got a few things ready to take with me before going out at 2-30 p.m. I bought some cigarettes and sweets which I would be able to exchange in the village. We were going to buy some food and drink later.
Upon returning a real shock awaited me. The police were there making a check of the guest-house.
I sat on the verandah with an American guy, Stan. I remembered in horror that Scott had given me some grass (only half of a small container) and that it was lying on my bedside table. I just hoped that Graham had managed to get rid of it somehow (he had some opium hidden away as well).
My heart fell, however, when I was called into the room and confronted with the container, which I didn't have much choice about confessing belonged to me.
They then carried out a body search and turned out my bag completely and were very disappointed not to find anything else.
The next hour or so was spent filling out forms and reports for myself, Stan (the American guy) who had small amounts of both opium and grass and Andy (another American guy) who was only visiting a friend at the house and had a small amount of grass on him.
We all pleaded guilty (what big offences we thought) and hoped that the situation could be sorted out within a couple of hours.
They had taken our passports and we had to go with them in an open truck to the police station where we were escorted inside. We sat in an office for a while and all of us at that time were expecting to be interviewed, fined and then released. However, the wheels of Thai justice don't move that fast.
We were put in a cell which I'll now try to describe; quite roomy with three different sections all separated by metal bars. Luckily they didn't separate us and only locked the main door. In one section there is a squat toilet and in another a small shower while the third (which we later chose as our bedroom) has a wash-basin of sorts.
Two of the sections have wooden floor boards and the other concrete. We were provided with nothing to sleep on or as we were later to discover nothing at all, because they don't give anyone food or water.
We were put in the cell, which was ‘fairly’ clean although the toilet stinks, at 4-30 p.m. Sat around bitching about how unlucky we had all been and how we should have been more careful, but it hadn't occurred to any of us that the police would raid the guest-house or that they would be so hard on such petty amounts.
Stan had also probed the possibility of a pay-off before we were taken away but it wasn't possible. We also moaned about the double-standards existing because the government condones the heroin traffic and police are paid-off all the time and that we should be arrested for what most people would consider a petty misdemeanor.
About 6-00 p.m. Graham & John came to visit the three convicts and got us some bananas, a water melon and six bottles of water, which were already badly needed.
We had heard so many different stories that we were unable to say what would happen to us. All we knew for certain was that the longest they can hold us for is seven days before they have to put us before a judge.
We spent the evening raising each other’s hopes of a quick release and finding out about each other. Stan is 29 and lives in America or Canada (half and half) most of the time and has an orchard there. Andy is 35 and works as a doctor; he speaks Chinese and has worked for seven years in Taiwan.
The other two somehow managed to drop off to sleep at 10-00 a.m. but what with mosquitoes, the hard floor and my adrenaline flow, also the numerous thoughts rushing through my mind, I found it very difficult to sleep and didn't drop off until 12-30 a.m.
Friday March 27th
After a restless night and numerous weird dreams I woke up at 7-00 a.m.
The lights had been on all night which added to the difficulty of sleeping. We sat around talking and hoping that something would happen today.
Graham and Sharon came in to visit us and we were escorted to an interview room where they took our fingerprints and details on eight different forms.
In the meantime Graham & Sharon went and got us some fruit drinks and cookies for breakfast.
During our interview we were given some hope when the police guy told us we could make a court appearance today, but a representative we saw later from the lawyer's office was much more pessimistic and suggested we might be here at least a week.
We went back to our cell at 9-30 a.m. and tried to keep our hopes up.
Graham came back again for the next visiting period at midday and brought us some dinner and water melon. We asked him to come back again later and see what the story is so we could see what we might need if another night was called for.
Sat around in the cell all afternoon hoping that someone would come along and let us know what was happening but nothing happened until 4-00 p.m. when Graham came back. He is proving what a magic guy he is by coming here so often and helps keep our spirits up.
Afterwards he went off for a while to get some things that we all need; water, bananas and most important some valium to make sure we get some sleep.
When he came back he also tried to find out what was going on and succeeded but the news wasn't good. Our vast quantity of drugs has been sent down to Bangkok for analysis and our court case won't come up until Monday or Tuesday.
This starts to feel more and more bizarre, I mean we aren't exactly hardened criminals but they were even talking about deporting us.
Stan also got a visitor, his girlfriend Marie (a German girl) who is also staying at Isra. When Graham and Marie left we returned to the cell resigned to the fact that we are doomed to at least three more nights in this dump.
We are all as happy as one can be in this sort of situation but underneath pretty pissed off with the injustice of the whole thing. Looking on the bright side it could have been a lot worse in some other countries but not many.
As I bring this up to date it is 6-30 p.m. and Stan has taken his first valium, I will no doubt follow his example fairly soon. After a while Andy and I both took a valium each and within twenty minutes Andy was fast asleep and he had a really good night's sleep.
Stan and I chatted for a while and then sat around reading. Both of us felt relaxed and better than at any time since getting in here. About 8-00 p.m. we both took another half a tab and a few minutes later both of us were asleep.
Woke at 2-30 a.m. because of bites and a dripping tap but after some water and another half tab I was soon asleep again.
Saturday March 28th
Slept well until 7-30 a.m. after a good night's rest. The other two were already up and about.
Graham came by again and brought us some goodies; fruit drinks, various small items of toiletry and some extra clothes. He also bought some vitamin pills and a lovely painted message from Sharon who is going to the Chinese village today and if we get deported (which is a possibility) then we probably won't see her again.
I am just hoping against hope that we won't be deported for such a petty offence as I was looking forward to seeing so much in Thailand. On returning to the cell I had a shower (of sorts) and then helped the other two clean out the cell as best we could. If we can get some sort of routine going then time shouldn't drag too much.
We all relaxed, reading and dozing until later in the morning when Graham came in with some more food and water and also the news that our pictures had been in the local Thai paper with a report that we had been busted for heroin. Our names were all muddled up and mine was the closest, stated as Robert John (surname John).
He also bought 20 more tablets of valium (5 mil each). They cost 1 baht as opposed to 3 baht for 10 mil. Stan will pay everything to Graham while we're in here and then Andy & I will repay him as soon as we get out.
We went back to the cell where Andy did a little acupuncture on Stan to try and reduce a swelling under his arm.
Just after midday we had two visitors, Marie and another German girl, Sabine, who I'd seen at the hostel but not spoken with much. We had a really nice chat.
They bought us some presents; grapes, strawberries and a little bag of grass. She had more at the house when we were raided than the rest of us put together. She seems very cool about everything and yet really nice with it.
After they left we went back to the cell and smoked a couple of joints which really mellowed us out along with the tab of valium we had taken earlier. I ate my dinner of chicken & rice and then wrote for a while before dozing off feeling very relaxed.
At 4-00 p.m. we were told that we had visitors again, Aja and John + of course Graham. They bought us in a lot of things; a really nice soup along with bowls and spoons, some muesli with yoghurt and plenty of water.
We all had a good chat, as far as that was possible, through the wire netting on our side and the bars on their side about four feet away. As we were the only ones with visitors they were allowed to stay for nearly two hours, which was nice.
Upon returning to our cell we had a really good tea of muesli with yoghurt and some great noodle soup. I think we are getting known as the rich inmates because as we were eating a crowd gathered around our door. We gave some food away as we feel sorry for a lot of them.
Many have just been hauled in, some of them don't even know why they are in here. Most of them are kept here for seven days and then released. There are others, like a Pakastani guy (who has lost his passport), who have been in here for two months because they can't afford to pay the fine of 2000 baht.
People like him don't get any visitors and have to rely on the charity organisation, which bring round some food mornings and evenings.
I had another tab of valium and a short douse under the shower to relax and cool me down.
When they have locked us in again and the night check has been made we will probably have another joint to mellow the evening out. I've certainly never been in this sort of situation before on a Saturday night.
I may have neglected to mention that it was Andy's birthday yesterday. He has really been down on his luck and just hopes that no news filters back to the States about the whole incident. I just hope that there is no way that my parents find out as it would really upset them, especially if they happened to get a distorted view.
The whole situation still seems pretty bizarre and ridiculous to the extreme but there is not much we can do apart from grin and bear it. At least we have a few home comforts and some relief in the form of reading material, enough food and drink, some tabs and a bit to smoke.
Cigarettes are also no problem as we are using the ones I intended to take to the tribe. Even so it is all a bit of a piss-off.
We weren't locked in as early as expected so we took advantage of the time by jogging up and down the corridor outside for half-an-hour which was quite strenuous but felt good. We all had another shower then before relaxing again.
Andy did some more acupuncture on Stan which already seems to be helping the swelling a lot. Stan can now lift his arm to its full height which was impossible before. Had a joint and it was really nice and mellow as we sat around chatting about everything and nothing.
At 9-00 p.m. Andy dropped off to sleep. Stan and I sat around reading for a while and then took some valium and were soon sound asleep as well.
Sunday March 30th
After a really good night's sleep Stan woke me up at 8-00 a.m.
Graham and Marie were there to see us again and bought us some more goodies to keep us going. They were allowed to stay for a long time and we all had a nice chat.
We eventually returned to the cell where Andy managed to get hold of a mop and some disinfectant to clean out the cell. By the time we get out the place will be cleaner than when we arrived.
After cleaning up we spent the rest of the morning sitting around reading and relaxing. We are all hoping that we can get out tomorrow but nothing is definite. The time doesn't seem to be dragging as much as at first because we are finding plenty of things to occupy our minds and relieve the tension and annoyance we felt at first.
We had more visitors at midday when Graham, Sabine, Marie, John, Aja and Rudi (a German guy who knows Stan) all came along. They bought us some papers including the infamous one from Friday with our picture on the front page. Graham has found out that the paper is a real rag and prints slanderous or outrageous stories all the time so we shouldn't have to worry about it too much.
It was really difficult to talk to everybody. The only comparison I can really make is like a hospital situation where there are always periods of silence.
Sabine gave me a postcard with instructions on how to get to Penang (in Malaysia) if we get deported, really nice of her.
Everyone left at 1-00 p.m. and on returning to the cell we each took a tab of valium to relax us. Stan and I also did some reading of tarot cards, which I've never tried before, but the omens seem to point to a release very soon and some celebrating on our part but also the possibility of that celebrating being short-lived (deportation).
Spent most of the afternoon resting and reading. Had the rest of the grass about 3-00 p.m. and were really mellowed out by the time we got visitors at 4-00 p.m., Graham, Aja and another German guy. He bought us some bananas, another water melon and some cigarettes while Graham bought us some really beautiful honeyed chicken.
We had a fairly short chat. Graham has been talking to Isra, the guy who originated the house but doesn't run it any more. He had some bad news in that we would almost certainly be deported but also good news in that they could give us a few days to leave and also that Isra will come in tomorrow and try to speed things up a bit.
On returning to our cell we ate the food which was really good and then sat around trying out the tarot cards again. There seemed to be some good omens but I would like to get a book explaining the meanings of the cards a lot more, it is certainly all very interesting and there seems to be some truth in it.
About 6-00 p.m. they locked our cell so that we were unable to go for an evening run in the corridor. We all had a shower before sitting around reading and chatting for a while. At 8-00 p.m. we all had our nightly dose of valium.
Shortly afterwards there was a bit of a scare as the girl in the next cell had apparently tried to choke herself.
Andy passed out pretty quickly. Stan and I chatted for a while and killed some cockroaches, there are plenty of them and big ones. We finally mellowed out and went to sleep at 9-30 p.m.
Monday March 30th
Woke up once during the night but got back to sleep again pretty quickly.
Woke again at 7-45 a.m., had a wash and brushed my teeth in preparation for our morning visitors. Everybody is being really nice getting up so early to see us. Isra and Graham came along today.
Isra will try and get something sorted out with the chief of police today but he doesn't seem to give much hope of us getting a court appearance before April 1st (All Fools Day). We will almost certainly be deported (although he wasn't sure whether that involved a stamp in our passports).
Marie, Aja, John and the older German guy also came along and although conversation is always a little difficult it still keeps our spirits up. Sometimes we seem to be happier than they do (perhaps they are all feeling too sorry for us and the apparent injustice while we have now reconciled ourselves to the situation).
All our visitors left at 9-15 a.m. and Isra will return later on to try and get proceedings speeded up by talking to the right people.
Our cell was not immediately locked up so we did a lot of jogging up and down the corridor and then some exercises for half-an-hour. At least we should leave here fitter than when we came in.
Graham has changed his ticket to Wednesday, while John and Aja will hang around until we are released. They are all a great help.
We were locked back in our cell at and all had a shower to cool ourselves down after the exercise. We received some sandwiches from one of our visitors and then sat around the cell relaxing, pretty well resigned to the fact that we will be here at least another two days.
Midday arrived and we were let out of our cell once more. Our first two visitors were a couple of guys who we had never seen before, one of them seemed to be a bit of a con-merchant who said if we paid him X amount of US$ he could speed up the whole process. We obviously couldn't afford it and didn't want anything to do with him.
In the meantime Aja, Graham and Marie came in and the other guy who said he was a missionary started talking to us. He said he had been going around the prisons for around a year and gave us a rundown of what could happen to us. However, he said it with so little compassion and ruthlessness it pissed us off and really depressed us.
He claimed that the analysis of the drugs normally took more than seven days to be returned and that at our court appearance on Wednesday we would be sentenced to another twelve days (but in prison this time, which would be much more horrific).
After that we would be sentenced and fined 500 baht and then have to wait around another two or three days before paying immigration to escort us out of the country (which will cost a lot more money; 1500-2000 baht). He even reckoned that Stan could get sentenced to as much as six months, which seemed pretty incredible.
We were all upset hearing all this and I just left, took the food and put it into our locked cell through the bars.
I returned about ten minutes later by which time the ‘missionary’ had left and visitors and prisoners alike stood in silence not knowing what to say. We said some pretty depressed goodbyes and returned to our cell which was still locked but the food I had put inside had disappeared.
We went to some of the friendlier Thais in here and asked if they knew who had stolen it. They called the guard who searched the other cells but nothing was found. Later on two of the Thai guys came to us and said they knew who had stolen it and did not want them to get away with it.
They asked if we wanted to beat them up but that would only have caused more trouble so we left it and have decided to stop giving out scraps and cigarettes to the other prisoners. We were all let back into our cell very depressed.
I took a valium and slept until our next visiting time at 4-00 p.m.
Marie came (she had just seen Sabine off on the train south) and bought some flowers and grapes for Stan. Graham bought us some sweet and sour vegetable from Isra House, water and more valium (I don't think I could keep my cool without them).
John, Aja and the German guy also came along. I have no idea of the German guy's name but he is so friendly and his eyes convey so much sympathy. Aja is being a real comfort as well and I am hoping that Sharon and her will be able to stay around for a while.
I feel sorriest for Stan and Marie because they had such a good relationship going and they are both so worried about each other. In addition Marie's visa runs out on the 4th and she must leave by Thursday. We can only hope that by some miracle we are out by then.
Graham is leaving on Wednesday and will deliver a couple of messages from Stan and Andy to see if things can be stirred up from that end (Bangkok). Things look less and less hopeful though, but we must try and keep our spirits up.
We returned to our cell and Stan wrote a letter to Marie while I wrote this epilogue. Andy is out talking to some of the other prisoners, partly in Chinese, English and a little bit of Thai he has picked up.
They must be having some sort of purge at the moment because they have rounded up ten prostitutes who they have locked into the cell next to ours. Several have already tried the old flirtation tricks with us because we are Westerners but I for one am definitely steering clear of any possibilities of more trouble in here.
It was a very noisy evening what with the other prisoners and guards talking with the pros next door. The other two managed somehow to get to sleep at 8-00 p.m. but I sat around trying to read and sort my thoughts out for a long time. I eventually managed to doze off at 10-30 p.m. without any valium.
Woke at 2-15 a.m. and heard the noise of the guards talking to the prostitutes and taking them out one at a time. They seem to be literally fucking their way out (later found out they will be released at noon). With the aid of a valium I managed to get back to sleep again pretty quickly.
Tuesday March 31st
Was awake by 7-45 a.m. and had a wash.
The other two had already been awake a while and had cleaned out the cell again. Our cell was unlocked at 8-00 a.m. and we immediately locked it behind us as there were so many people around.
Our visitors today were Isra and his wife, Graham, Aja, Marie, John and the German guy. Isra seemed to be getting something moving (the drugs have apparently not been sent off to Bangkok yet). He has an appointment with the chief of police today and it looks as though some sort of pay-off may have to be worked out.
Stan's case seems to be a lot more serious and could involve as much as 40-50000 baht. Everyone has offered to get the money together, cutting short their trips if necessary. Stan will then be able to pay back the money when he gets to the States.
Andy's and my case don't seem so serious but could still involve quite a large pay-off (also depending on whether we have to bribe immigration not to stamp our passports). Nothing seems certain yet but it all seems to revolve around money and influence.
Stan could even get released first because his choice is a big pay-off or six months while the maximum Andy and I can be detained is something like three weeks (with deportation almost definite as the outcome, the situation is still very confused though).
One thing we learnt from Isra though is that what we think of corruption is known as ‘the rules’ in Thailand, big money does most of the talking.
We were locked back in our cell at 9-15 a.m. (for our own protection) so we were unable to do our daily exercises. My muscles, especially across the abdomen are sore from yesterday's exertions and I have also developed the shits (which I haven't had since arriving in Thailand, probably all the fruit and vegetables we have been eating).
Spent most of the morning chatting (things seem a little more hopeful if expensive now) and dozing. At midday our normal faithful visitors arrived and tried to give us some encouragement although all three of us are pretty down because of all the suspense and uncertainty.
Isra is still trying to sort something out but doesn't seem to be getting very far. Stan has also contacted another guy, a Mr. Pritchard, who might be able to pull some strings. We went back to the cell even more uncertain of what is happening. I am really nervous and took another valium, Andy also did a little acupuncture to try and relieve the tension and it helped a little.
I have written a letter to Rita but giving no indication of what sort of trouble we're in because it would worry her too much. I think it's better to tell her if and when I return to Germany. I also received three letters which helped cheer me up a lot, one from Rita, one from Jan & Bobby and another from Rosie.
4-00 p.m. came and we were let out of our cell to see our visitors. Only Aja, Marie and the German guy (Michael) made it. Graham is ill with a migraine headache (all the worrying he has been doing on our part).
No progress has been made on any prospect of a pay-off and we also discovered that the drugs have already been sent off for analysis. Our court appearance is definitely on for tomorrow and there seems no possibility that the analysis will be completed by then, in which case we will be sent to prison until the report comes back.
We returned to our cell all pretty pissed off. Sat around talking about the various possibilities until 6-00 p.m. when Stan was called out and then ten minutes later I was also summoned.
We were taken out of the cell block and actually got a glimpse of the outside world before being taken to an office where Stan had already had his statement typed out, translated and signed for court tomorrow. I followed the same procedure, trying to be as pleasant as possible, and then Andy had to sign the same forms.
I managed to find out some information. If we are were willing to pay 5000 baht, they ‘might be able to speed up the drug analysis’.
We discussed this later and decided that we would try and stick the time out which could mean us being detained as much as another two or three weeks. Let's just hope prison is better than this jail.
The reason we decided this is firstly that the money might simply be wasted and secondly that Andy and I want to stick by Stan and ensure that he doesn't get rooked.
We will still have friends on the outside. John is staying another two weeks and Aja (+perhaps Sharon) wants to hang around until we are released. Graham has to leave tomorrow and Marie on Thursday but she will go to Malaysia, renew her visa and then come back in a week.
What a great bunch of friends they all are, sacrificing their time and money to ensure that we are all alright. The whole situation still seems so absurd but we are learning a lot of things being confined as we are.
There has been no friction between Andy, Stan and myself and we are all helping each other as much as we can and are building a forced but very real comradeship amongst ourselves.
After being locked back in our cell (for the last night) we chatted for a while and ate some of the food we had been given (none of us have very big appetites at the moment). I then had a shower and while the other two dozed off I sat around writing and reading, preparing myself mentally for the next few days.
It is a real comfort to be writing this diary at times like this because it helps formulate my thoughts, doubts and worries about what is happening, which is of course a totally new experience to me (to all three of us in fact).
Sat around until 10-00 p.m. by which time the other two had fallen asleep. I took a valium and then sat around reading my letters to try and cheer myself up. They helped a little but not much. Tomorrow is the big day. Fell asleep at 10-30 p.m.