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Journal of a Seaplane Cruise Around The World
Part Three: Asia

Friday, November 23

Bangkok - Panang Across the Malay Peninsula. At Tacheen we were lucky to get off the water at all, but there seems to be nothing that a seaplane will not do. We made the take off in a turn, keeping one float on the water and lifting the wing as we spun around fish traps. The load was light (5500 lbs.) so that even the dead spark plugs did not hinder much. Once off the water, the ship climbed, like a squirrel, and we decided to worry no more about the ignition. Besides, it was good sport to switch to the weak side and watch Bob jump half out of his seat when he felt the motor quitting! The Malay coast was irregular, but had many good beaches in the scalloped areas. There were rocky headlands at intervals of 50-175 miles, where a group of chocolate bon-bons had been set down; the lowlands between these grew rice; and occasionally open tin mines appeared in the foothills. Towns were not infrequent, especially after the railroad joined the coastline. I saw one good airport, and marked it on the chart. Of course, the hinterland was entirely a jungle, leaving from 4 to 15 miles of coastal fringe for cultivation of rice, coconuts, and possibly rubber. Near Bangspan a long streak of clouds intersected the coast, extending from far out at sea in a s.w. direction across the Malay Peninsula. They looked pretty nasty, and came down to the hill tops, so I decided to cross the peninsula before getting into them, and chance finding a way underneath on the west side. It was a fortunate decision, for they covered the mountains and licked down the slopes around Victoria Point.

The jungle was thoroughly forbidding, and was not in any way broken up by human efforts - except at one point in the middle where we saw a clearing which may have been made for crops. There is no road across this mountain chain in all the distance from lower Siam near Penang to the region of the Chinese border to the north, a distance of 800-1000 miles!! I should have thought it practically impossible to escape from these fastnesses, and watched with some concern the appearance of streams on the far side, down which we might have made our way if the motor (still rough and skipping) had failed. The inhabitants at Victoria Point say that tree-dwelling savages live in the interior and that J.P. Morgan once sent down a hunter to bag the rare one-horned rhinoceros for a zoo; - only the natives, holding this animal sacred, scared them away instead of helping in the capture, so that the six-month effort failed - Tigers, orangutan, and elephants are all found here, but no one explores it. The mountains are not above 4000' and perhaps lower.

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