Posts Tagged ‘thailand’

Previously our only first-hand knowledge about Asia was from travelling in Japan, little did we imagine how full of variation the continent is. After 3 months we still realize we’ve only seen but a portion of it and will sure return for more. For people coming from the Europe-centric part of the world, as ourselves, it was actually very refreshing to see places so detached from what we otherwise think is the center of the world.

08 – The Terracotta Army 

The immense detail and beauty of this amazing collection of statues surely make up for the hordes of tourists one has to fight to see them. A must when visiting Xi’an, China.

07 – Suwon’s Ancient Walls

There was something about these ancient walls of South Korea that made us romanticize about forlorn times of honor and greatness 😉

06 – Beijing And The Qing Dynasty’s Heritage

The capital of China has some real treats to offer, most of which can be attributed to the Qing dynasty. The Great Wall, the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven are all fantastic sights, all accessible from this bustling city..

05 – Thailand’s Beaches

It might sound like a cliché, but who can resist the charm of beautiful soft sand, turquoise water, colorful fishes, friendly people and good food? We chose a spot on Koh Phangan which didn’t disappoint us.

04 – Monkeys And Hot Springs

We’ve seen many monkeys and they remain one of our favourite animals. If there is a place that not only has wild monkeys but also hot springs, it will definitely be one of our tops picks of any trip. Believe it or not, it is not difficult to find a place like that in Japan, but Beppu sure was easy to like.

03 – Buddhist Temple Stay

Probably one of the most personally rewarding experiences from our travels, staying for 2 nights at Golgul-sa near Gyoengju, South Korea. It was fun, insightful, exhausting and painful.

02 – Chengdu’s Pandas

They are adorable, even more than one can ever imagine and as the animal lovers that we are, completely irresistible. Chengdu, China, is a nice enough place to be in anyhow, but the pandas are amazing.

01 – Tokyo And Sumo Wrestling Live

Probably our favourite city on the planet, we are big fans of Japan, and this was our 3rd visit to this versatile city. I mean, can anyone tell me of a place were you can get a cat café, robots, electronics, manga, delicious food, crazy fashion, ancient culture, friendly people and on top of that, this time we got to watch sumo wrestling live! We will surely be back.

Having been on the road for over 200 days and starting to get a bit weary, our plan for Thailand was to simply find a nice beach and relax for the two weeks we had left.

After waking up on the train and arriving in Surat Thani, we spent a few hours on a bus and got on the “express” boat to Ko Phangan (aka. Koh Pha Ngan). With the sun shining, turquoise water and green islands the vacation mood begun to kick in.

Having looked around on the net and thumbed through an old Lonely Planet, we picked a beach called Mae Had and decided to spend our first two nights in a cabana at the Royal Orchid – the cheapest place on the beach that had a home page!

The only disadvantage was that it was located on the eastern part of Mae Had, which has nice sand for sunbathing but it was muddy, rocky and a bit dirty in the water. It was also full of fishermen’s boats that would get stranded daily at low tide. Luckily the west beach was no more than a 3-minute-walk away.

Now this is what we came for! The island has a narrow sand bank connecting it to the mainland and dividing Mae Had into the east and west parts. During high tide it would submerge (the connection, not the entire island!) but you could still wade over if you wanted to. One morning we walked over and explored the deserted resort, but it wasn’t that exciting.

A beach dog who looked like a pitbull taking a rest in the shadow. There were quite a few stray dogs every where. They walked around a lot, but it seemed like they had their favourite areas to stay in. Some were a bit shy while they still wanted to be near humans, so they would often come and lie 1-2 meters away from you. Others seemed more affectionate and came closer so you could pet them.

Mae Had is supposed to be one of the best snorkelling places in the area, yet I was a little bit disappointed. I guess it’s not the optimal time of the year, visibility was decent only one day and ranged from quite bad to very bad all the other days.

Pretty much all the coral are dead, possibly from an overabundance of snorkellers and divers – many not knowing or just not caring that you damage the corals by wearing shoes and walking on them – or perhaps killed by global warming. But there was a fair amount of fishes to look at.

These fish weren’t shy at all and followed me around, while others (not pictured) fled the second I pointed the camera at them.

A pair of giant clams.

Some of the few colourful things I saw.

One of the bottom-dwelling fishes used its fins like limbs to move around on the ground. I think it looks like it has the potential to evolve into crawling up on dry land! Well, it would probably get eaten by a dog if it tried to, now that we already have land animals.

These photos aren’t representative of the snorkelling at Ko Phangan (at this time of the year), and I think all of them were taken on 2 or 3 days out of the 11 we spent at this beach. In 90% of the time you would just swim around looking at sand or rocks.

The happy snorkellers! This day there were big waves and visibility less than 2 meters, but at least the weather was nice above the surface!

Some coral that has been washed up on the shore.

We had lots of great Thai food at the local restaurant. The cabana was cheaper, staff friendlier and food tastier compared to the similar resort on the west beach, so we ended up staying at Royal Orchid all the time.

The local beach dog, named Binky by some Dutch kids, or maybe that was her real name but I don’t think she had an owner. She was very cute but a little spoiled with all the affection everybody was giving her. One night she woke us up by scratching our door, but we didn’t let her in.

While in China we watched a documentary about squid fishing in Thailand. They use lots of extremely bright lamps on boats, and gradually turn them off to lure squids into their nets. Some nights we saw these boats, shining like miniature suns out on the ocean.

We got a few lovely sunsets from the restaurant – when the sky wasn’t covered with a thick blanket of clouds.

And the rest of this post is dedicated to a stray kitten we found.

When I first saw it, it was lying on a shelf  in a never-used store, mewling weakly. I went there to pet it and it was very happy to get a little attention. It looked so feeble that I thought it had been abandoned and got lost.

Gradually we learned that this scrawny little cat was quite fierce for its size, and could definitely fend for itself. When it saw a dog it curved its back, hissed and tried to make a long threatening mewl. Though being a kitten, the latter sounded so pathetic that we couldn’t help laughing a little. The dogs just ignored it.

Another day it caught a tiny mouse, but it squeaked so heart-breaking every time the cat pounced it that we felt a bit sad.

Sleeping on the reception desk. We didn’t find out if they got red paw prints everywhere later.

Just in a few days we’ll see our own cat again. Looking forward to it.

Day 240 – Bling Bling Bangkok

Posted: July 28, 2011 by minimal in Asia, Travel
Tags: , , , ,

After 4 weeks in China, we welcomed the change of arriving in a different country, and our last country on this journey. We arrived in Bangkok, Thailand on the late afternoon and took a cab straight to our CouchSurfing host. Our first impression of Thailand was that people are extremely friendly and the taxis actually have working seatbelts 😀

Our host was having a small birthday gathering with some other CSers and friends, we were happy to join in even though we were quite tired. Thai food was cooked, something we had been really looking forward to try (real Thai food that is, after years of eating Thai food home in Sweden). Two of the same dish was cooked, a spicy version and a mild one (for us non-Thai guests). It turned out that our version was quite spicy for us, and the person who cut the chilli fruits spent the rest of the evening with her fingers in a bowl because they burned so badly.

The next day we went to a travel agency and got our combo night-train, bus and boat tickets that would eventually take us to the beautiful Ko Phangan beaches, but until then we had one day to tour the capital. We left our big bags at the travel agency and headed out. A couple of blocks from a subway station we found this beautiful temple. So far, from all the Buddhist temples we have seen, the Thai ones seem to be the most colourful. Oh, and do you notice that the sky is blue? It felt refreshing after weeks of hazy and cloudy skies in China.

For lunch Johan got finally to taste his favourite Thai dish, Tom Yum Goong, although the verdict was that it was not more spicy than the Swedish version he had eaten at home, still delicious.

We headed to the river to catch one of the famous river boats. The river is quite busy and both locals and tourists hustle on the boats. We got of after a couple of stops to take a closer look at some of the sights.

After visiting many different Buddhas throughout our trip we thought that one more couldn’t hurt so we headed to visit The Temple of the Reclining Buddha. We had read very little about Bangkok before arriving so we had no expectations of what we would see here. The Reclining Buddha took our breath away. Not only is it huge, it is also quite beautiful and well preserved.

Wat Pho, or Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Ratchaworamahawihan which is the temple’s real name, is a huge complex of about 800,000 square meters. We spent a whole afternoon walking around and discovering all its corners.

The temple is quite impressive, not only is it one of the oldest, it contains over 1,000 Buddha images and every little detail is beautiful.

After our stay at a Buddhist temple in South Korea, I find there is something very soothing about monks chanting.

What happened after the temple we have no proof of, on our way back to the travel agency it started to rain, a lot! By the time we arrived we were completely soaked, there was no inch of us dry. We changed our clothes, got our tickets and headed for the train. The structure of the train car surprised us, it seemed like a transformer. The table was removable and the two seats were restructured into a bottom bed and from the top another bed was folded down. At the end we slept quite comfortable.

Change Of Plans

Posted: November 25, 2010 by monoton in Preparations, Travel
Tags: ,

When we began reading about where to go in India the various descriptions of its August weather, i.e. monsoon season, made it sound less and less like an appealing destination. Instead we chose to go to Thailand as our final stop on this journey, and rescheduled our flights accordingly for a small (not really) fee. After eight months of backpacking through the world it’ll probably be a welcome change with some mainstream tourism and relaxation.