9 May 2003

Up and out we are on the road again. We stop by a national park, Do you have a waterfall? Yes, it is a two day walk. So we are on the road again. Watching for "ponds" we continue at break neck speeds. We stop to lighten the load, and wander back behind the gas station. A pretty good spot, begin collecting.

My white whale makes an appearance and then is gone, never a swing is made. Working around I pick up all the other species around, including this beast. I kept thinking of it as belonging to the family Gomphidae. Much to my surprise it turns out to be in the family Libellulidae! So much for ID of foreign dragons on the wing.

At the next spot I encounter let another species, and disaster. First the new (to me) species. Amazingly small, with solid black on the basal half of the wings. The white wisps past the black reveal that this is a male. Cute little guys, I collected a couple.

The disaster. I take a whack at a dragon and CRACK! The handle of my Big Net is cracked. This handle is made of five pieces of circular fiberglass that telescope. Mr. Kiefer invented an ingenious method to allow my to vary the length of the extended handle and not have to have it at the full 15 feet all the time. The most distal (smallest, innermost) piece had warn through and cracked at the junction of it and the next larger piece. Well, this isnít too bad, because the piece that broke does not have to remain hollow.

Setting up shop in the hut, I take the handle apart, whittle a piece of wood to fit, and get a tube of epoxy that I had with me in my bag. 10 minutes and its fixed, just needs time to set. We eat lunch and head to the next site.

Another pond, weíve been eating and driving for an hour. I pull out the Big Net. Will it work, is Mikeyís craftsmanship up to par? Well I picked this guy up, and the net is still working as of this writing!

Fourth pond for the day, this is honestly in someoneís front yard. The white whale flies by once. I grab what is becoming the usual species complex for the lowlands. The kids come out and want to see what we are up to. Fun is had by all.

The last site of the day are another set of falls. Quite a few people were around. A different species complex here (it really will be interesting to see exactly what I got where, because some really good patterns will emerge). One young man comes over and asks me what Iím up to. Wonders if he could get his picture taken with me! When Iím rich and famous that picture will be worth money! LOL!

Back to the hotel, food, process specimens, recharge batteries and prepare for the next day.

 

10 May

Going to be a long hall with many stops to collect, we set out on the road. We collect at a "pond". Pretty much the same species as before. Which is annoying. Not only because I want different stuff, but because the red ones are really fast! Every time we stop its another hard fight to get common stuff! Not a problem, though, its all part of the fun.

 

Early in the morning A (ever vigilant) checked the level of coolant in the reservoir. It was full. Less than two hours later it was nearly dry. We added water, turned off the air conditioner, drove to the nearest gas station and got antifreeze. Added that, drove a ways and checked again. Almost empty. This is not good, not only is it hot here but this is a rental vehicle, and we go to some pretty remote places. Places that, if youíre car dies, you walk out or ride out on a water buffalo. We stop at a garage and they check out the car. The problem is identified (I donít understand what exactly it was, lost in translation), but fixing will take a few days. A is on the phone with the rental company. If we can make it to a big town down the road they will send another car from Bangkok to meet us. We dead head in, my eye on the temp gage the whole time.

We make it, and have a few hours until the replacement gets to us. So we check into our hotel and set off in search of internet. For a people that have happily (and very quickly) embraced all forms of technology, they are sorely underdeveloped when it comes to the internet. Donít know why. Actually, when it becomes mobile (PDAs, Pocket PCs, etc) perhaps they will embrace it then. After much searching we come across an internet cafť. Twenty minutes and still canít get online we give up and head out again. The next one works. I check email, quick switch computers and upload pages (5 and 6 I think). The new car arrives, we switch, eat and ready for the next day. Adventures.

One more thing. While having the car looked at I finally get a picture of one of these. They are the Swiss Army Knife of the Thai farmer. Two wheels and a big engine. They are everywhere. Used for transportation, planting, harvesting, pumping, spraying, you name it, it can do it. Very practical.

11 May

(Finally I am catching up) Three stops today. The first is a pond. I attempt to get a picture of a small damselfly.

This is a tricky situation. Any picture of a live specimen is tricky. Let me explain. Iím holding a captive specimen that, if given the chance, will break free. Iím standing in a gravity well that, that if given the chance, will pull my camera towards the center of the earth. Iím standing in water that, if given the chance, will get my camera very wet. And Iím trying to juggle the camera, specimen, nets, set up the camera, hold the specimen just right, get everything in focus, etc. Its actually very simple compared to how it was done before digital technology, but still pretty tricky for a slow person such as myself. I see a big Aeschnid dragonfly at this site. I tracked him for 20 minutes, but never get a swipe. These dragons are big. Built more like a sparrow, if these guys ever learned to cooperate they could carry off puppies and kittens. LOL Perhaps I will collect one at a later date and get a good pic.

Site two is beside a rice field. Picture of a mature male dragon.

They are combining the rice as we collect.

A great tracked vehicle, its like something out of a Star Wars movie. That being said, there are vehicles of all shapes and sizes here. I try to get pics of them, but theyíre moving, weíre moving, its tough. After we finish collecting we follow the highway until it ends! There is a ferry across the river. Hope it doesnít sink!

We make it across and continue on our way.

The last site of the day offers the usual set of dragons, and two which I believe are new to me!

My white whale is there. The big dragon with orange, black and yellow at the base of the wings. The water is too deep cross and there is one, only one, on the other side. I extend the net to full length and give it a swipe. I miss. My whale will be collected on another day.

We head down the road and pull into a Tesco Lotus. A big store, Wal-Mart sized only with covered parking. Aís parents a there. We exchange, our specimens (to make room for us) to them, and they give is mangos galore! A very nice people. We drive on. It begins to rain, so much we seek shelter under the roof of a gas station. After 15 minutes it has let up enough to let us drive on. We get to our hotel, check in and eat.

 I write this log, and am now headed to sleep. Goodnight.