EPISODE 1: Discovery Chapter 1: Discovery In 1963, Birk and Gallup embark on a lengthy exploration by car, of Mexico and Guatemala. It is a time before tourism changes things and new discoveries are made as a regular routine. After visiting many ancient Indian ruins they discover a previously unknown site of one of the largest and oldest pre-Mayan cities in the Yucatan. In Guatemala, at one point, Birk saves Gallup's life and at another, on the 'wrong road' they escape being robbed (or worse) by bandits, and then later, being shot by soldiers. Sights are seen and friends are made, and details of the friendship between the two travelers is told. Little is known about orchids then, but this memorable journey sets the stage for future years of more elaborate and varied searches for orchids and how they live in nature. Chapter 2: Gold Coins on the Beach Birk discovers orchids growing in trees while on vacation with his wife in Mexico, in fact, he discovers three new species. It is his first encounter with wild orchids and it lights his fuse. A subsequent trip to the same location with two other orchid friends is made but their fires are not kindled. Details of how Birk's interest develops and how it impacts his family and his life are revealed, giving insight to how an obsession can expand. Chapter 3: La Huacana and the Lost Orchid Excited by the possibility of re-discovering a lost species of orchid, Birk and Gallup return to Mexico along with their wives, in the guise of a vacation. Tempers are tested in the difficult travel, but the orchid is found, however they then become ‘lost’ in the mail. The outcome is positive, for the most part, and Catasetum glaucoglossum returns to cultivation. Chapter 4: Serendipitous Enlightenment Often, some of life's most important lessons simply slide by unnoticed, never leaving a clue as to their existence or importance. Fortunately for Birk, the lesson of persistence is learned in Mexico while on a search for orchids. A lesson in the value of friendships is also told. Birk discusses how Gallup acquired his first orchid nursery and then developed Gallup & Stribling Orchids into the world's largest cut-flower orchid nursery. Also told in this chapter is insight into the genius of the late Dr. George Kennedy. .......................................................................................................... EPISODE 2: Trying Times in Brazil Chapter 5: Trying Times in Brazil If you have ever tried to quit smoking you will appreciate Birk's quandary upon having his cigarettes stolen while out in the jungles of Brazil. But the situation pales in comparison to other problems as Dr. Fowlie leads him and Gallup on their first big orchid exploration. The thrill of collecting spectacular Brazilian orchid species, and the chance to see how and where they live provides a constant flood of knowledge, as detailed in this chapter. Mostly overshadowed by the bizarre personality of Dr. Anton Ghillaney, it is Dr. Denis Duveen of Petropolis who sets things into perspective. Primitive facilities and the remoteness of localities, the discovery of new species and the theft of his collected orchids is told in this enlightening chapter. Also told are Birk's second-thoughts about traveling with Fowlie, his part in re-establishing the rare Paphiopedilum delenatii into cultivation, and his revealing look into the workings of modern education at the university level. Birk also writes about his two daughters. .......................................................................................................... EPISODE 3: “PIRATES!” Chapter 6: "Air Siam! There's no Air Siam!" While obtaining his visa to visit Thailand, Birk is offered a cheap fare and a ride on an unknown airline by the Thai consul. But his fears soon vanish, and on his first trip to the country he meets a friend of the King who becomes his and Fowlie's guide during two successful orchid collecting trips. Chapter 7: Typhoon Spending the night out on a tiny beach during a raging typhoon, on a tiny island in the Gulf of Siam is an experience never to be forgotten. You will also read about 'alarming' cicadas, suitcases, and how even intelligent people sometimes make stupid mistakes. Chapter 8: Finally, ... Some Answers "It was a time of great frustration." Birk writes. Faced with a void of valid information about Paphiopedilum species during the early 1970s, Birk and Fowlie venture into the jungles of Thailand to learn first-hand, the real secrets of where they grow and how they grow, and they struggle with the proper identities. The process requires considerable time, great physical efforts and considerable sums of money, but it begins to pay off after seeing the actual habitats of those lady's slipper orchids that are wildly driving the orchid world's insatiable curiosity and hunger for new plants. Birk tells how "Doc" Charles, Dr. Fowlie, Ray Rands and he himself are the driving force behind the new slipper craze during the late 1960s, and he tells about the genius of Rands in a way that few people could ever know him. Chapter 9: "It's Durian! Oh God, Please,…. No Durian!" Do not read this chapter if you just ate lunch. Chapter 10: The Bird Nest Islands Armed with a letter from the King, Dr. Pisit leads Birk and Fowlie into the interior of a cave on one of those highly-valued, bird-inhabited islands. Unfortunately, one member of the small party is severely injured in a fall against a limestone cliff and must be taken to the mainland to see a specialist doctor. Chapter 11: "How Can You Swim in the Waves?" She Asked A day of recuperation breaks a week of hard discovery, and Birk relaxes on a remote beach off the Indian Ocean, all alone, ......or so he thinks. Fowlie is bewildered. Chapter 12: "PIRATES!" The Gulf of Krabi seems only to add more confusion to those species paphiopedilums found in the Gulf of Siam, and Birk and Fowlie continue their speculation on the relationship each group has to the other. Particularly troubling are those cream-colored forms, and whether or not they are natural hybrids. Nothing else matters one day, when the boat driver spots a pirate ship heading in their direction. .......................................................................................................... EPISODE 4: "CHOLERA! How Can I Have Cholera?" Chapter 13: "CHOLERA! How Can I Have Cholera?" Do not refuse fine French cognac is the lesson learned at the Bhumibol Dam, especially when offered by the director who's private launch was promised to carry Birk and Fowlie the long distance upriver. On the other hand, Birk's luck is good when he contracts this deadly disease in the presence of two doctors, one of whom has the right medicine. Chapter 14: Up the Mu Ping Dr. Fowlie learns the Thai way of fishing; Schistosomiasis; the coldest night in the tropics, and a very fast boat. Chapter 15: "Bellatulum, I've Got You at Last!" The importance of habitat visits is defined in this illuminating chapter, and how it relates to saving the life of orchids in collections, for those who apply these revealed secrets. An opium-smoking guide; acrophobia and stinging hornets, and difficulties with a Hasselblad camera are also explained. Chapter 16: The Hills Tribes People Great ideas are often just symbolic expenditures of money rather than substantive means by which good progress can be made. Such was the reality of the hills tribes people and the powerful opium lord Kuhn Sah. Also, the loss of hundreds of thousands of collected orchids can happen simply by following bad advice. Chapter 17: Bus Ride from Hell This chapter is about a fear pf flying, and real stupidity. .......................................................................................................... EPISODE 5: The Root Broke and I Dove off the Cliff Chapter 18: I Lose a Friend After a week of difficult passage across the large island of Sumatra, the following day in Java, Birk's friend and traveling companion collapses in his arms. Unfortunately, his efforts to save him are futile as related in agonizing detail in this chapter of sadness and despair. Chapter 19: The Snake in the Eagle's Beak If you ever wondered just how some species are dispersed in nature, this chapter will explain it all. Chapter 20: The Root Broke and I Dove off the Cliff As can be seen from far away, tall cliffs rise straight from the gulf waters at Koh Ngub Lum, or Sleeping Cow Island. Unlike other cliffs, these prove most difficult to climb and Birk falls from a ledge at 400 feet. Fortunately he survives, and years later he makes a startling discovery about those cliffs. Birk finds the prize, is disgraced at dinner, and he learns why heads must not be removed from bodies. .......................................................................................................... EPISODE 6: Right Place -- Wrong Time Chapter 21: Koh Ang Thong -- the Golden Bowl Finally reaching Koh Ang Thong, Birk hopes to discover which Paphiopedilum orchid should rightfully carry that epithet. No lady's slippers are found but the spectacular island is a known habitat of pirates and when gunshots are heard directly ahead, Birk fears for the worst. Paphiopedilum species from the gulf and how confused they have become is detailed, and later, another species is located. Terrorists have attacked Chiang Mai University and the King sends Dr. Pisit to quell the disturbance. Birk writes about his unusual friend "Hippie Doctor," and what is learned from the Paphiopedilum habitats. Chapter 22: I Kick a Krait, ... TWICE! An SR-71 ‘Blackbird’ spy plane makes a startling appearance; harassing gunshots ricochet from tin roofs near the border with Cambodia and the boat is stuck in mud. Across the channel is Koh Chang - Elephant Island, where Birk and Fowlie hope to find an obscure species of Paphiopedilum orchid said to have once been found. Repeated searches are unsuccessful and Birk becomes lost, is attacked by rattans, gets dangerously over-exposed and then eventually rejoins the party. He spies a deadly snake and kicks it (.....don't ask). Chapter 23: Right Place -- Wrong Time In 1975, the war in Vietnam has just ended, the Khmer Rouge have sunk a Royal Thai Navy destroyer, captured an American freighter and taken the crew prisoner. U.S. Marines take heavy casualties as they invade Cambodia to effect a rescue and turmoil is everywhere in the same narrow channel where Birk and Fowlie find their small fishing boat. Fortunately, they are disregarded and the search for the lost species continues through other parts of the large island. It's durian time again, but Birk discovers ‘sticky rice’ and he provides the recipe for this delicious treat. .......................................................................................................... EPISODE 7: Terrorists in Manila Chapter 24: Close Call Strange things happen from time to time, in most everyone's life. This chapter tells of three remarkable events Birk encounters in the mountains of Hawaii. One nearly costs his life; another saves it. Chapter 25: Terrorists in Manila It's 1978 in Manila, the international UNCTAD trade conference is disrupted by a terrorist bomb as Birk watches it explode from his hotel window. In a critique about using cameras in the field, Birk details his choices for camera gear and film. Proposed construction of a large pavilion, a visit to a friend's ranch, leeches and mosquitoes with malaria round out this chapter. Chapter 26: The Land Below the Wind Birk's first visit to Mt. Kina Balu on the island of Borneo brings many surprises. A clever man with big snakes; open markets and strange products, and mangosteens are some of the delights he encounters. He meets and befriends a young man from Sandakan who displays amazing talent and knowledge; a necessary trip to obtain an airplane ticket almost ends in disaster and a fall on rocks colors Birk's buttocks like a rainbow, for a month. Chapter 27: Surprises in Balikpapan Victim of a missed flight, Birk finds himself "SOL" in the back-end of Borneo. Making the best from a bad situation, he discovers how initiative can lead to good things, and how a Frisbee changes the lives of native youths, ....... not all for the better. Chapter 28: Mr. Langlois' Magnificent Red Palm Tree Birk escapes the clutches of ominous native women and later, is led by a gorgeous young teacher into the jungle and to the habitat of the most spectacular of all palm trees growing on the island of Celebes. Neither speaks the other's language but they find Latin a common denominator. Birk learns that both rats and dogs are tasty and that the native Pinanga filaris is being replaced by the cultivation of cloves for cigarettes. .......................................................................................................... EPISODE 8: Finding a New Paphiopedilum Species Chapter 29: Finding a New Paphiopedilum Species He greets the legendary Herr Bundt in Ujung Pandang; is introduced to Baharrudin the butterfly collector who will take Birk to the site of a newly found Paphiopedilum species. Astonished, he plucks plants from the roadside in this remote part of the Celebes. Birk witnesses the outcome of genetic isolation, he persuades a small group of miscreants and is tantalized by the probability of another new Paphiopedilum species nearby. Unfortunately, the airports are closing and he has little time to make any such discovery. Paphiopedilum intaniae is later discovered in the year 2000. Chapter 30: Majestic Bogor One of the world's great botanic gardens is home to both surprise and sadness. Birk photographs herbarium specimens and he dodges another bullet, this time on a motorcycle. Chapter 31: Suddenly I Knew, I am the One Who Must Now Write the Book Reality surprises us sometimes and it can happen at any moment. His moment of truth came in a broken airplane for Birk, on an airfield in Malaysia as he finally understands that death will destroy those hard-won truths before they have the chance to be told. Neither Dr. Fowlie nor Dr. Kennedy are prepared so Birk begins to write "the book." .......................................................................................................... EPISODE 9: Lost on Mt. Kina Balu Chapter 32: Busted Birk finally holds the great book of Borneo, and he plots the course to the re-discovery of Paphiopedilum rothschildianum. A surprising announcement from the chief of police and a little turtle's giant egg make for interesting events on his second trip to this amazing island. Derailed by Dr. Fowlie's perplexing actions, time is wasted and the orchid remains hidden. This chapter is not about what you might think, it has something to do with a woman's anatomy, ... or so to speak. Chapter 33: A Meal to Remember After his culinary disgrace in the Gulf of Siam, Birk plots his revenge to show Fowlie he can cook. The recipe is included for this tasty meal and you can amaze your friends with this simple curry dish. Revenge can be sweet! Chapter 34: Lost on Mt. Kina Balu Birk finally reaches the mountain in his search for Paphiopedilum habitats, but Kina Balu holds many distractions. Convinced Fowlie is on the wrong path at the Mesilu, he splits off on his own in a solitary trek into the forest. He becomes lost after finding Paphiopedilum virens and he races to catch a ride back to camp before nightfall. Birk breaks his promise to the director of the forest reserve and is caught. Fowlie's reluctance to search for Rothschildianum remains a mystery. Chapter 35: Genesis Birk starts writing the book about paphiopedilums. It is a time when great amounts of information suddenly become important and their recollection must be accurate. He relates the processes of his thoughts and how they contradict written methods of modern orchid culture. He compares notes with Fowlie and Dr. Asher, then realizes he is no longer the student, but in fact the teacher. Birk is slow to understand he has become a threat to Dr. Fowlie. Herr Zoike, the German rocket scientist, struggles with orchid culture. .......................................................................................................... EPISODE 10: “You Can’t Die Here Lance” Chapter 36: "You Can't Die Here Lance ....” In 1980 Birk is sent to a remote island in the Philippines to locate a new species of Paphiopedilum, ostensibly because Dr. Fowlie, editor of the Orchid Digest is too busy. Birk and friend Gary Gallup (Gallup & Stribling Orchids) encounter substantial difficulties and are unable to reach their intended destination. Forced to abandon their search they send native trackers to collect a sack of paphiopedilums, but the plants turn out to be just a common species. Birk becomes sick, and as they make the long trip back to the airport Gallup thinks he may die, and the failure of their ordeal sets a gloomy tone. But at the last moment success is had, unfortunately, plants are stolen from their baggage at the airport. Chapter also includes startling revelations voiced years later by Gallup, and some by Birk. In fact, they are things Birk never told anyone before, particularly his family. Also included are details of Fowlie's deceptions, how he took Birk's notes to rediscover the most sought after of all orchids, and how he used Birk to name a new species after himself. .......................................................................................................... EPISODE 11: "Dispela Pulpul, Him He Nothing-Something" Chapter 37: "Dispela Pulpul, Him He Nothing-Something" Asked by the San Diego Zoo to accompany ornithologists from five US zoos, Birk travels to Papua New Guinea in 1985. An illuminating look is presented of that distant, backwards country, and birds of paradise are detailed. The sudden appearance of a Frenchman fails to cause alarm, but he is later jailed by PNG police after he and Birk become better acquainted. Birk discovers the world's best beer, the coldest place on earth, New Guinea wild dogs, dozens of trapped birds, killer cassowaries, tiny dump trucks and pyromaniacal natives. Birk is given permission to collect any plant in Papua, but in the struggle to leave he forgets to obtain permits. Baiyer River Sanctuary is destroyed, and a revealing look into the native life is told. .......................................................................................................... EPISODE 12: The Final Quest Chapter 38: The Final Quest Birk is invited by a friend and resident, to collect orchids in Peru. Traveling to many distant parts they see countless orchid species, Machu Picchu, the great coastal desert, and they are the only guests in a huge five-star luxury hotel hidden deep in the jungles of the north. A bullet-riddled police station, mesmerized truck drivers on single-lane, no-bounce canyon roadways and areas of desolation all make for interesting times. An arduous trek to the top of the Andes reveals disappointing results. David Allison's knowledge of birds, the Incas, and the locations of most Peruvian orchids fits right in with the fact he drove F-104 interceptors for the Canadian Air Force. Birk also learns the cause for siren alarms, broken windows and terrific sonic booms over the Ammersee in Germany. .......................................................................................................... EPISODE 13: The Dark Age Chapter 39: THE DARK AGE: Matter Over Mind, and a Plan for Orchid Extinction At first you will not believe some of the details described in this chapter. Much of what you read here will make you sad. It is all true however, as Birk relates personal observations, as seen by only a handful of men on earth. The reality of the greatest threat to orchids is shown not to be from collectors but from bureaucrats. And you’ll see there are workable solutions which can be chosen. If you are a conservationist you should read this chapter. If you love orchids you must read it.

Copyright Lance A. Birk - 2016

Email Me at Lance@lancebirk.com