The tour ran from February 19, 2017 until March 7. The southern extension kicked off the next day and finished on the 13th.
The leaders were Uthai Treesucon and Keith Valentine and they were excellent.
The itinerary and accommodation were well chosen, transport was handled well. The food was good.
A group size of twelve could present problems but Rockjumper briefs participants on etiquette and on this occasion things ran very smoothly. How the organisation might have handled a crisis was never put to the test.
It is a hardcore birding tour, if your spouse is not a keen birder it would be tough for them. There is no associates program, days are long, the focus is intense. And for the birder very productive. The final tally for the tour was over 500 species, I saw 471 different birds and some good mammals. If you carry a camera you will bring back some very nice photos but it’s not the tour for the dedicated bird photographer the tempo is quite different from their requirements. One of the group has put a very large collection of their photos up <HERE>. If you’re preparing for a trip you could test your diagnostic skills on them.
So to mark Rockjumper’s report card … A+. I’ve already booked another tour. The next one is to Bhutan. What about the participants?
Most were repeat Rockjumper clients which says something about the company. The guys were gentlemen bird watchers, always polite, tolerant and cooperative. The girls on the other hand … I don’t know how many times I found myself examining the backs of their head through my binoculars. No, I exaggerate the group was remarkably congenial. There were tales of other trips and a lot of good humour. We were occasionally entertained by the sayings of Polly’s Mum one of which was …
If you’re looking for sympathy you’ll find it in the dictionary between shit and syphilis …
which is well worth remembering.
It is axiomatic that …
- There is an arsehole in every group and
- They are totally unconscious of the fact.
So it follows that if you can’t identify the arsehole it must be you.
I therefore tender my apologies to the fine men and women that I traveled with. I enjoyed it.
This is Thap Lamu, not far from Khao Lak, where we caught the ferry. As you can see the sun is already up so we are somewhat behind our regular schedule but we do have an hour’s head start on the tourists …
Similan means Nine Islands in Yawi, which is the native tongue of the area. There are 11 of them. But then one of Victoria’s tourist destinations is called the Twelve Apostles …
The trip out takes about a 90 minute on the faster boats. The target birds were Pied Imperial and Nicobar Pigeons, they can take a while to find, I’m told. We found them very quickly. An unexpected Black Bittern also put in an appearance. Squirrels and Flying Foxes were present to represent the mammals.
The islands are absolutely gorgeous, sea, sky, rocks, beaches, Sea Eagles cruising by. Like the tour guide says, Paradise.
The tour guide doesn’t mention that paradise is a victim of its own success. By 11 o’clock it was an absolute zoo. We were the animals and the cage was getting pretty crowded and still the boats were disgorging more. We bailed at midday.
If you are tempted to go either stay on the island and make the most of the early mornings (making sure you are self sufficient so far as food goes) or stay on a boat. The diving and snorkeling look very tempting.
Early morning, Doi Angkhang, just as we were getting dangerously close to the title Another Doi in Paradise the tour comes to an end.
We can squeeze in one more paddy field on the way to Chiangmai …
and then it’s back in the air to Bangkok where we are greeted by advertisements for Snail White facial cream and Ronald McDonald.
Snail White, believe it or not, contains …
Snail secretion filtrate, Bytyrospermum Parkii, Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Fragaria Vesca (Strawberry) Fruit extract, Morus Nigra Fruit extract, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) extract, Prunus Avium (Sweet Cherry) extract, Zingiber Officinate (Ginger) root extract, Bisabolol, Allantoin, Lavendula Stoechas extract, Centella Asiatica extract, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic acid, Panax Ginseng Callus Culture extract, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Pentanediol
… and you put it on your face.
With your softer smoother skin you are ready to head to McDonalds where Ronald will greet you in the traditional Thai fashion, with a Wai. If he could only talk he might well say “Sawatdi” but I doubt that he would kiss you on the cheek.
Another night in the Maruay Gardens Hotel and then …
But wait, there’s more … The Southern Extension.