Monday, March 16, 2015

Chumphon my first birding holiday after Spinal Fusion for Scoliosis

I owe you all an update of what I did during my 8th month post ops. I am very slow to update my blog. I have being busy in my normal daily lives juggle with my job as a database administrator in a financial Institute and do frequent swimming as my physiotherapy. Working in the IT field in the financial Institute take care of production environment is very challenging. Many of times we need to sacrifice our sleep as maintenance slots is only available for us after the system have finish serving the customers.

Scoliosis started to enter into my body ever since I am about 10 years old. The long list physiology effects of scoliosis experiencing low self image, dislike people to take candid shots of me, feel left out, feel so different/ugly due to body deformed, back-ache, muscle soreness, I fully understand and know them well. Ever since the spinal fusion for scoliosis that I had gone through, I have a better posture, in additional to that the unexplainable muscle soreness and the weird back-ache have also lifted off from me. “Given/constructed back with a new spine”, it is like being granted with a new lease of life. As I am experiencing the benefits of medical help on my scoliosis I wish no others scoliocian continue to be ignorant, lack of awareness, shun away from the society suffer in silent. So in my free time with this new life and new spine I do give back to spread awareness of scoliosis, sharing my scoliosis journey, support another scoliosis patients and their families. Able to help another person who is having the same spine deformities like me gives me a very nice satisfy rewarding feel.

With this heavy pack daily schedule unknowingly I am heading towards my 13th months post ops. Now I have to re-track my mind on my birding holiday trip that I did during my 8th months post ops.

This spine surgery that I took on 17th Feb 2014, hearing my spine doctor said “You are now only allowed to carry/lifting less than 3 kg until your spine is fuse...”, it is like pronouncing to a hyper active small kid “you need to be grounded...No further question until further notice...”.  It has seems to be my annual ritual since a few year already that during mid Oct till end of Oct I will be at Chumphon, Thailand.

This year I did not secure my flight ticket to Surat Thani in order for me to land at Chumphon. To me this year Chumphon trip is  my wishful thinking.   I console myself “It is OK that this year I am unable  to witness flocks and flocks of many thousand of Black Baza migrating.   However my birding friend (Mr Lam) keep tab on my recovery progress. This year he has the intention to drive about 1,200 KM per way from where he is base to Chumphon. Mr Lam keep persuade and invited me to be in his car. I was hesitating at first. On my 6th mth post ops based on my full spine X-ray my spine doctor told me that my spine is fussing in progress. My weight lifting or carry things of less than 3kg has lifted off. This is indeed a good news cause the less than 3kg weight restriction rule me out of whatsoever holiday.   

Mr Lam assured me that there will be many Malaysian birders friends who are also in this trip will look after this "new titanium lady”.  It will be a free and easy trip with no fixed itinerary. We will make many stop over just in case my back could not handle the long car journey.  The word "Free, Easy and we are not bound in fixed itinerary sound very ideal to me.   So I agree to spend my annual “a must to have a long stretch of days where we keep away from office" to be one of his car passenger.

As the days approaching, he has collected 2 more others passengers, so we have a full car load. I keep repeating the words Chumphon a few times. Many of you would wonder what foreign word is that ? Where is this place?

Where is Chumphon (pronounce as choom-pond) ?
Chumphon is located in the narrow land-bridge connecting the Peninsular Malaysia with Thailand. With the geographical coordinates of 10º 30´0 North, 99º 10´ East. This place is midway of Bangkok and Hatyai. Chumphon is in between Andaman Sea and Gulf of Thailand. Chumphon is the gateway to the Archipelago Koh Samui, Koh Tao, Koh Phangnan

What is the attaction there?
click to find out

As this place is near the coast, you would not want to miss the seafood when you are there.

How to get to Chumphon?
1. By Flight
Chumphon's domestic airport is located at Muaeng(district) Pathio about 30km from Chumphon city. Nok Air the Thailand low cost airlines is serving this route and the flight duration is 1 hour from Don Mueang. Overnight nearby at Don Mueang (Bangkok) may be necessary if you doing connecting flight to match with your flight schedule.

Alternatives Airport you may consider are Phuket, Don Mueang, Suvarbhumi and Surat Thani. The distance of land transfer, your budget, your convenience, how much traveling time you have and what you want to see along the way will determine your choice.

For me the journey from KL, I will choose Surat Thani.
The big birding holiday trip I did is in October year 2012 . That is also to Chumphon. That time I travel on my own, parked my car at terminal bersepadu bersatu get into the bus to head to LCCT, took a flight to Surat Thani then continue the journey by van to Chumphon town. To land myself to the guesthouse I took motorcycle taxi from Chumphon town. I was traveling with 3 bags (1 suitcase, 1 laptop bag and 1 backpack fully loaded with my camera, lens and binoculars). I manage to travel all the way alone with just of my very limited thai vocabulary.

2. By Train
This land mode of traveling require longer time to reach your destination. There is a railway network connection stretch from Singapore to Thailand passing by Peninsular Malaysia.

3. By Car
The Asian Highway also known as Great Asian Highway the main intention is using land transport infrastructure to interconnect Asian land.
The abbreviation of AH (Asian Highway) followed by the digit number is assigned to indicate the route.
AH2 (Asian Highway 2)
3,177KM is from Denpasar, Indonesia to Merak Indonesia, Singapore, Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand and then leads to khosravi (Iran).

To include meal break and toilet break you need 15-16hrs

Where to stay at Chumphon?

Your choice of accommodation are range from affordable guesthouse, hotel room to luxurious resort/posh hotel room. The location also for your preference at Chumphon city or along the quiet holiday clean beach of Thung Wae Lean beach (Mueang Pathio) about 15km from Chumphon city. Thung Wae Lean beach is peacefully quite and beautiful. The good thing is not crowded as  this place not a popular tourist spot.  

This is the second time I stayed in this guesthouse

                               This is a two bungalow lot, the one on our right is non-aircon.
                                      Per room is only 350 baht.  All the rooms are WIFI enabled. 
               The speed of the WIFI is so much faster than our Telekom Unifi

This is thung wae lean beach

The fisherman village at Sapli Pathio District Chumphon

At Tung Wae Lean beach

My birding trip from 18th of Oct 2014 - 31st of Oct 2014
I wish to thank Dr Lim for extending his hospitality to me by hosting me one night at his house. It is so happen that his house location will ease Mr Lam to pick me up. Even though I have being to Chumphon numerous times but this is my first time pack along as passenger all the way from KL, Malaysia. I remember very well as I was packing on top of the excitement I also have thoughts wondering how are we going to compromise each others living with harmony for two weeks. Before we start the journey I offer to pray for all asking for God's covering cause we need safe journey, the cars in good condition, all of us have good health throughout the trip, have an enjoyable trip and living harmoniously with each other.

On 18th of Oct 2014, three cars fully loaded with the passengers and our luggage convoy all the way from Malaysia. All of us are full of excitement and we did 16hrs drive to reached Chumphon on the same day. For me to be there I wish to thank Mr Lam who made the tiring journey of “driving and driving and keep driving of wondering when are we reaching Chumphon” that day.

From my scratch book this is what I recorded.
We left Dr Lim's house at 6:30am, reached Rawang R&R @7:05am, push off from Rawang R&R @7.30am. 
I took a break from my normal high calcium breakfast menu today.
At 9:50am we are Bkt Gantang for toilet break. We left Bkt Gantang R&R @10am and @12noon we left Changlun after we had our lunch and settled the cars permit and insurance to enter Thailand. @1:25pm
we are at Immigration Malaysia to present our Malaysia passport. @2pm we are done with presenting our passport, cars permit and insurance coverage at Immigration of Thailand office at Sadoo Thailand. @3.05pm I saw 102 sign board of Pathalong. @4.05pm we have out toilet break at PT petrol station where Pathalong is about 28KM.

@4.25pm I saw the sign board leading to Thale Noi (the first world ramsar site in Thailand).  Oops and I did not record further cause I slept but at 7:15pm (Malaysian Time) we had our dinner.
Tssssh..Tssssh.. hot hot.. super hot.. but nice and yummy (aroi)

Some of my friends had noodle from this stall.
Then after about 20mins we push off again, the sky is getting dark, I sat at the back and I could not see any further signboard to record. Finally after about 4hrs of driving we finally arrived at Marakot Hotel @ Malaysian Time 22:00pm. Oooosh it was indeed a very long car journey.

18th of October 2014 mark as my 8th months anniversary post ops. Friends are worry that I have soreness/back ache due to the long 16 hrs of car journey. I told them unlike those years my back could not sustain such journey but that day I have no soreness at all.

19th of October 2014 it was raining/pouring that morning, all of us from Mr Lam's car we decided to stroll along Chumphon market as a normal tourist rather than head to Khao Dinsor.

Some of the scenes at Chumphon wet market and it's surrounding.

Zzzzzzzzz.. Is life so slow there?

This is Toyota Hilux lock in the cage.  Hmmm why does this Hilux need to be in prison?

I am impress of the Chinese culture there.  They use traditional Chinese character.

Where is the site for raptor watching?
Khao Dinsor 10.63°N 99.28°E
It was in the year of 2008, a thai birder Chukiat Nualsri notice large numbers of raptors fly close along the ridge of this mountain previously a graphite mine. Subsequently the next year with the financial support from the local government and community this site has develop into bird watching site. Due to this strategic location in the Asian flyway birds migration route in early september till early november we can see a wide range of raptors species fly pass here.

Ever since from year 2010 many raptors researchers and bird watches from various places all over the world make it a point to be there to witness and to study the raptors migrations pattern. We have noted that there are 25 species that fly pass annually. Each year the species continue to increase as someone would record a rare species.

I also want to thank Sam Liong as some days he will help me to carry my back-pack of photography gears. There are days I carry it myself on my back. As my coronal plane and sagittal plane has being corrected, this year of walking up and down I don't feel the soreness, pelvic pain and breathless. I am like a new person.
Black-Baza is the icon for Khao Dinsor

This is the scene at platform 1
It is totally a different feel compare the previous time I was standing here.

This is the night scene  Those small spots of lighting are the fisherman doing squid catching.

The following is only a small portion of birds photo that I harvest from this trip.  I could not insert all in this blog.

Click here to watch a fraction of a very Large flocks of Black Baza on flight

Nong Yai area development Royal Project
During the Raptor festive day Mr Lam brought us to this place. This place exist and initiated by King Bhumiboi Adulyadej due to the tragedy of typhoon gay that hit hard on Chumphon in the year of 1989. The large reservoir act to mitigate flooding and also to conserve water to be use during dry season.  There are times researcher come to this place to study the wetland ecology.

This is a very small tiny snake. I use my DSLR mount with long lens to capture this.  

With great patience I was photographing dragon fly
The journey back to Malaysia we depart from Albaratos on 31st of Oct 2014 at 4.30am Malaysian time. 3:20pm we are Malaysian's Custom. This time we stop overnight at Taiping rather than rush down back to KL.

I had a  great holiday, good company. My birding friends who was with me during this trip. Thank you for your company.  I have a wonderful raptors birding holiday, the local  food is delicious and most of all the warmness of Thai people  will makes me want to go there again.