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4 nights in Bangkok - 02.-06.04.07

...sleepless nights, and not just because it was full moon! Bangkok is a very busy city, and very noisy, too. My guesthouse is called Happy House (in the famous backpacker area around Khao San Road), but the first night I was not happy to be there. The rooms are nice, clean and with the all-important air-con, but my room was too close to the reception area where the music is blasting away for some reason... The next morning I decided to stay but changed the room (after checking a lot of other guesthouses - some were really scary). 

Having sorted this out, I could start the big shopping day together with a Swiss guy I met at the airport (not what you think - he is 42 years old, has a girlfriend and is building a house in Australia). He knows this city really well and I got some insider tipps. We went by ferry boat on the Chao Phraya River to Pahurat Market, a colourful clothes market. This was like Little India, there were so many Indian shops and we had an Indian vegetarian lunch. After that we got lost in one of Asia's biggest shopping palaces: the MBK. Bangkok is not the place for recovering shopaholics, so be warned just in case... Here you can really shop 'til you drop...or however you call it.  We got stuck in the MBK until 8pm and only saw a little bit of two floors out of 6. I wouldn't have survived without a break, so we had dinner in a sushi bar - very luxurious and not at all expensive!

Getting out a bit earlier to get a taxi, we only had one thought in mind: massage. There are massage parlors at every corner - I know already I will miss them very much in Europe. I chose a traditional Thai massage where my body was stretched and kneaded through until all bones were in their original place again.  

It was very relaxing but I still couldn't sleep well. The clouds outside decided for me to stay in bed (bad photo weather), so I will go to see Wat Phra Kaeo and Wat Po the next day. Today I spent my time in the area around here browsing the clothes stalls and bargaining. There is a corner with a lot of silver and bride dress shops. I was lucky in one of the silver shops - I was the first customer of the day. It's bad luck for the shop owner if he/she doesn't buy anything. So she gave me a special discount and both of us were happy.

Just before sunset I went to the wat just 50m from my stay: Wat Chana Songkhram which is not very big but peaceful nonetheless. I watched the monk's ceremony and (of course) took a lot of pictures. Then I went to see the sunset on the pier of the Chao Phraya River. It was a bit more noisy there, but still nice.

1 Kommentar 4.4.07 16:40, kommentieren

Koh Samui 02.-06.03.07

Having booked a package in the TAT office in Bangkok (Tourism Authority Thailand), Cindy and I left Krabi to go to Koh Samui for 5 nights. We had to take two busses to Surat Thani, the trip took about 3 hours (we were in a strange half sleep all the time on the bus - either due to a lack of oxygen or they put something in the aircon to placate the travellers ). From there we went by ferry (another 1.5 hours, but at least we could walk around and enjoy the refreshing sea breeze).

I heard from a lot of people about how wonderful this island in the Gulf of Thailand should be. Therefore, I was hoping for something really amazing. But I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed (you might think i'm crazy - but Cindy had to admit it too). We found nothing special there since there are no mentionable sights except maybe for the big buddha (which we could see from our beach but would be rather boring after all the glitter and gold of Wat Doi Suthep), and we were very glad to be able to avoid the crowds in Chaweng, which is the most famous destination and just overloaded by tourists. We stayed in a calm garden-like resort in Hat Bo Phut in the north. It was almost to luxurious for us, and we found ourselves drawn to the even more quiter beach bungalows just a bit further down the beach (just in case: we keep their business cards for the next time or for you ). So it turned out to be the most quiet and unadventurous part of our travels - and the most relaxing. We spent the days by the pool and on the beach, going swimming, getting thai massages, swinging lazily in the hammock and enjoying the fresh food of a cozy family restaurant just 20m from the ocean.

While we were on Koh Samui, it was the time of the full moon. We met a lot of travellers who were on their way to Koh Pha-Ngan and its famous full moon rave party.  Drug induced happiness and techno beats are not our favourite and so we decided not to go over there. I saw videos and photos afterwards on my travel back to Krabi. I can only say it was what I expected and don't regret to have missed it.

25.3.07 12:01, kommentieren

Und nun mal auf Deutsch...

Fuer alle, die mit meinen Berichten auf Englisch nicht so viel anfangen koennen, lege ich nun diesen Eintrag an. Mir fehlt leider die Zeit (man mag es kaum glauben!), die frueheren beiden Eintraege zu uebersetzen, daher setze ich mal bei Chiang Mai an. Von dieser relaxten Stadt der Tempel im Norden Thailands sind meine Freundin und ich aus nach Krabi geflogen, um die Inselwelt im Sueden des Landes zu erforschen. Wir kamen beim Sonnenuntergang ueber dem Meer an. Da die Sonne hier aber sehr fix untergeht (innerhalb von 45 min wird es dunkel), konnten wir bei der Fahrt zur Bungalowanlage in Ao Nang nichts von der Umgebung sehen. Die Ueberraschung am naechsten Morgen war also riesig, als wir sehen konnten, wo wir waren: mitten im Paradies! Kokospalmen, Meer und strahlend blauer Himmel - was will man mehr?! Die Gegend um Krabi (Krabi Provinz) ist wirklich traumhaft, ich kann mich immer noch nicht satt sehen an der Landschaft. Es gruent und blueht ueberall, und mittendrin stehen die limestone Felsen. Entlang den Strassen gibt es Oel- und Kokospalmenplantagen, Kautschuk-Haine, vor den Haeusern der Thais wachsen Mango-, Rambutan- und Cashewnussbaeume (ich entdecke jeden Tag noch unbekannte Pflanzen). Es ist wie auf einem anderen Planeten, selbst der Mond haengt irgendwie andersrum (der Halbmond im heute sieht aus wie eine gefuellte Schuessel). Ach, und nicht mal das Jahr stimmt: hier ist es schon 2550!!!

4 Kommentare 12.3.07 11:39, kommentieren

Chiang Mai - 20.-23.02.07

Next stop Chiang Mai - we took the night train from Bangkok (12 hrs). This is better than taking the plane, as you get to see more of the landscape and meet lots of people (our neighbors were a Thai farmer and a teacher from Australia). That night i didnt get much sleep thanks to the air-con and the lamps though my upper bed was comfortable.

Chiang Mai is quite big but has a rural character, everything is more easy going. The old town is surrounded by a canal and the last bits of the ancient city walls. This area is like a maze and you can discover a lot on foot. You find a lot of temples (wats) - they are just everywhere. We had an interesting chat with monks in one of them. The biggest and most impressive Wat Doi Suthep is on a mountain top in a national park just outside Chiang Mai. I'm sure you already saw a picture of it somewhere. It is jawdroppingly beautiful! We also got a monk's blessing there and a white wristband for good luck. Just so you know you need not worry...

This town is also a famous gateway to the djungle. Curious as we are, and feeling well protected with our lucky band, we went on a 2-day-trip to the djungle. I can only recommend this to everybody, it was a very nice experience. We were a small international group (2 girls from Japan, 2 other Germans, 1 Australian and a Dutch couple plus our Thai guides). We walked a lot (sometimes difficult tracks), saw waterfalls, snakes, rice fields and buffalos and stayed the night in a Karen village. We got even in the djungle homemade Thai food (did i mention the delicious Thai food before???) and spent the evening sitting around a fire singing songs. I think i never saw sooo many stars in my whole life as that night out there.

3 Kommentare 20.2.07 10:28, kommentieren

Bangkok - First impressions 16.-19.02.07

Our journey to Bangkok started on 15.02.07 from Frankfurt/Main via Abu Dhabi (UAE). On some sheik's plane we got pampered with deluxe food & entertainment, quite different from Aerlingus or Ryanair which I was used to. While crossing the time zones, we prepared to fight the jetlag, but it really wasn't that difficult. We are now 7 hrs ahead of CET.

At the airport the warnings about the Thai taxi drivers proved to be true. They try to squeeze out as much as they can, but we insisted to use the taximeter. Tuk tuk drivers are even worse, but the next day after a good bargain we enjoyed a flying race through the streets.

Our hotel room was nice and clean; we had a huge breakfast buffet (incl. european breakfast, thai food and fresh fruit). On the first evening we discovered a wat just around the corner. There were a lot of people around selling things, cooking or eating (we could have tried crispy insects...), praying or enjoying the Thai theatre.

The next day we went shopping - unsuccessful because we only found the same expensive chain stores that are everywhere, and the prices seem to be just as high everywhere. We then followed a good advice and went to a local tailor (Cindy tested my paitience here but I proved to have a cool heart as the Thais say). 

On our way to a restaurant we discovered the famous frangipani flowers - i was very happy to find them. We had dinner at "Cabbages and Condoms". The restaurant"s owner found a creative way to spread the awareness of the topic. We ate outside in a most enchanting atmosphere under trees with fairy lights and lampions, there were waterfalls and a beautiful Thai girl played traditional music.

On Sunday, 18.02.07, we found out that THE place to go for shopping is the Chatuchak weekend market. We nearly got lost in this huge maze of stalls. They really sell everything you can imagine and most of it is high quality and creative handicraft. Not having seen enough yet, we decided to join the crowds in Chinatown for the celebration of the Chinese New Year. I got in touch there with a different way to use the toilet... Surving this unharmed, we went straight for the next culture shock and ate dinner at a food stall on the street (which was really yummy!). Again nothing happened, so everything is alright so far.

2 Kommentare 20.2.07 10:05, kommentieren