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BKK to Cambodia.

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rain 32 °C

On the 23th of october, in the morning, a new adventure started. A new country, a new experience: Cambodia!

I was ready just before 8.00. The bus would leave from the travel agency. Just a bit later, a man guided me towards the bus stop, where some more people were already wating. I was there with my backpack, daypack and a delicious yoghurt (by mr Yin), fruits and muesli.
The start for a long ride. Totally, including lunch and stop at the border was about 12 hours. It didn't feel this long though. Maybe I am getting used to long rides like this. After the border into Cambodia, I and some others were dropped off at a station. From there we could either take a taxi, or go for free to Siem Reap if we booked a hotel. All the time people were trying to sell a room in the green banana guesthouse for 400 baht. (10 euro). But all the time me and some others were waiting and not taking the bite yet. When I got it offered for 250 baht (6,25 Euro), I took it. So I booked in 4 nights in the Green Banana Guesthouse in Siem Reap. The room has hot water, two beds, a fan, free internet and a ride from the border to Siem Reap (200 km). Late in the afternoon I arrived. Time for some food and sleep.
In the evening I met up with a couple from Sweden. We decided to explore Angkor the next day together and share the cost of a tuktuk.
It's funny that the tuktuks here are different from the ones in Thailand. In Thailand the tuktuks are made out of one piece. A 3 wheeled kind of scooter with the seats for the guest attached to it. In Cambodia the tuktuk consists of a scooter that is a little bit modified to either use as a scooter, or to attach a kind of cart behind it, that is the tuktuk. Probably some day someone thought of this, and now all tuktuks in Cambodia are modified scooters.

Posted by Aussierala 07:47 Archived in Cambodia Tagged bus ride cambodia real reap siem Comments (0)

Back to BKK

Bangkok; 10 days, great food, hotel and relaxation.

sunny 32 °C

13th of october until 22th of october
Bangkok. Back in Bangkok. First, I had to find my way to Khao San Road. Taxidrivers started to offer me rides for 500 bath (12,50 euro). I knew that was too much. But, anyone (except the people of Bamboo hut) are friendly int Thailand. So, in contrary to Egypt, you can smile when you negotiate with taxi drivers. In the end they offered 200 bath. But by then, I talked to one guy that gives information trough a speaker (DJ style), and he told me there would be a bus at 5.30 am. That was just 15minutes from now. So I walked to the bus station and took a bus to Khao San Road. Price was about 25 baht (0,60 euro). From there, early morning, I walked along Khao San Road towards Soi Rambuttri. On the Khao San Road I saw a few hoes with a white tourist. Regularly you see the older or ugly guy with a young good, or bad-looking Thai girl. This time I was surprised to seee the goodlooking young player-style guy; the guy that goes to a club and always gets a lot of girls, actually paying a girl. Wow, who is controlling who?

The Lamphu house, where I stayed before, was fully booked, so I walked on, trying to find another place. It turned out most places around were booked. I walked a bit away from the main streets and found a nice hotel to stay ….......................
This would be my hotel for the next 10 days. Free internet, my own fan room and a hot shower for 200 bath. (5 euro)

10 days? Yes, well I didn't know that by then. My idea was 4 days. I would meet up with Pong and see some of the surrounding area and get my India visa done.

After some extra sleep I went to find mister Thai Travel. My bonita advised me to get my visa with them. I actually found the place. But their prices were quite hight. I tried to negotiate, but they didn't go with it. I ended up going to ….. travel..P.K.B travel. They arranged my India visa (10 days) and Cambodia Visa (1 day). Also, I booked a few day tours with them.

So, 10 days in Bangkok. What am I going to do? First day, I needed rest after a 12 hours bus ride. The cold was almost over. The day tours would take 3 days; Ayutthaya; the former capital of Thailand, the floating market and a day tour to the River Kwai Bridge. Also, I intended to work a bit on my websites for 2 or 3 days. By then., most of the 10 days would have been used.

I could have been going to Chang Mai, where they have the village with the long necks. I don't know when they say this, they mean this distrespectfull, or just as a decription of the fact that these people put rings on their necks, to make their necks long. But to Chang Mai would take 10 hours one way by train. By then I didn't kow that in a few days there would be immense floodings in the east and north of Bangkok, so Chang Mai was only reachable by bus or plane. But I didn't feel like going 10 hours one way and back 10 hours. After a while you just want to have rest instead of going Amsterdam – Bordeaux and Bordeaux-Amsterdam in 4 days.
So I dropped this plan and just settled down in Bangkok.
The next 3 days there were day trips. Every morning starting at 6.50. Oeeff..that's not really what I think of by having holiday. But then, it has a good reason.
The first day was Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya is the former capital of Thailand, or Siam as it used to be called. Here I went to some of the old Khmer Temples and an immense buddha. Well, actually Gato and I went to Ayutthaya, with a tourbus. Most of the temples were not too spectacular. But nice to see. But one was really good. This is the temple were we, luckily, could spend a lot of time. Also, there was a shrine close to here. It was very interesting to visit this sacred place. After, on walking distance, there is a place with elephants. I did have a look, but didn't ride the elephant. I already rode on camels and horses. For me, it is not so spectacular to try to ride every ridable animal. They also let the elephant do tricks. I did look, but this is a reason why I don't pay or make a picture of this. An elephant standing on its two rear legs, or with its front legs crossed with its back legs, nos hight, is not an elephant. It's something that is created to please the audience, but not the elephant.
So no pictures of that.
During the trip we also had an incredible lunch. Included in the tour. The tour was 450 baht; 11,25 euro.

14th of october:
Today it was another early day to get up. 6.20. I walked toward P.K.N (by Ms. Kookkai) Travel and on my way, as yesterday, I took a delicious yoghurt (by mr Yin-yes, they know marketing) with fruit and muesli. 30 baht. 0,75 euro. + a mango shake for 30 baht. So, with a delicious breakfast, I went to the travel agency to be picked up for the second tour-day. The floating market. My bonita already told me that it would be super super touristy and nothing authentical.
When we arrived there, a lot of busses were already wating. All tourist went into boats and were driven to the entrance of the floating market.
My first look upon it was already; damn..what a shit.
Imagine, a floating market with more white than black or brown faces in Southeast Asia. A super big shop, of Paew company, food by Paew company, Paew icecream and Paew boatrides. I bet that this ms or mr Paew is doing great. The floating market is promoted everywhere.
Floating market where on boats, or huge shops, you can buy all you need for a 'simple village life'.
Yes, there are postcards, paintings, wooded garbage puppets or elephants (the so-called lucky elephants- are they really so lucky now that they are almost extinct?), clothing, but I am talking western fashion. Food. (ok, reasanable on a local floating market). A stupid guy with a snake around it's neck for 'picture with snake'. What if we would tie his hands and cut his teeth and say; you want picture with Thai?
Yes, foot massage..or foot massaaaaaaage. Sir, you want boatride? Cheap cheap.
SO, I walked down, climbed over the brigde. Walked on. Then, just 10 minutes later, walked back, had a lunch and went to the bus. Because if we arrived at the bus at 10.45 we could go somewhere else. So I asked the driver what that place would be. Is it nature? No, its a snake farm. Ok, sounds interesting. What does it look like? It's a snake theatre. A theatre? So he showed me a picture. Yes, indeed, a snake theathe. A half circle, like a half colosseum, with a snake as the object of the show. But of course it is trained, or tortured, to 'make a show'. Have you ever seen a happy snake stretching itself and put his tong out? No..well, that is because they only do that when they feel endangered or are in fear.
So no..i didn't go.
Instead I walked away from the tourist trap and walked into the real village. The houses are build on poles in the water. On wood you walk along. Most of it is fairy stable. Some are almost loose. So it was very cool to walk here. I saw the real village life and a lot of people greeted me. I guess not a lot of tourist go in this area. In the end, I had a nice day. Not great, but nice.
In the evening, I had dinner in my favourite street restaurant on Rambuttri street. For 65 baht you have a delicious mango shake/ coconut shake or a broad selection of shakes and a green curry (my favourite). That's about 1,55 euro.
This place is open 24/7. I wonder how long they work. It is incredible, because most often I see the same faces. They do work in shifts, but still.. very long days. They get my respect.
There are about 10 people running the business. I don't know who is the owner. But they always serve with a smile. I would definitely recommand this place. About 2 older adults work here, 2 lady-boys, and a few young guys and girls. I think it are actually 2 or 3 families working together. Great food, great service and very cheap.

The third day I had a trip to the river Kwai bridge and it's surroundings. This is the place were during World War 2, the famous brigde was build. The Japanese took over South East Asia with ease. Because they needed to transport goods, military equipment, food and water trough the countryside, they let a railroad be build by the prisoners of war. The rail went trough the most remote areas and the prisoners worked under the harderst of conditions. Limited supply of foods and treated like slaves by the Japanese. In a while, the monsoon came, and the tents and clothing were just rotted away. Malaria brought dead among the prisoners and Japanese. Thousands of people have passed away building this train rails. Not only the locals. Also English, Australian and Dutch were captured and forced to build the rails. The museum near to the famous bridge is very interesting to see all of what happened around this area.
Suprisingly, when you go up in the museum to the second floor, there is a room that shows about miss Thailand from the 1930's till now. I don't really understand the reason behind this.

After this, we went to an elephant farm. Well, farm. You know where I am going :). But at least the animals were fairly natural. No stupid tricks. They just walked with some of the tourist on their backs and the baby walked along. The baby elephant already was immense. And even when an elephant is facing you, standing silently, it has an aura of respect. This animal is so huge. Can you imagine how it feels when one or a group of elephants comes running towards you in anger?

Just a small sidestep now. An elephant is the largest land animal. But it is nothing compared to the Whale. Or to a Whaleshark. I have seen a movie, made in Koh Tao. 6 weeks before I arrived there, there was a whaleshark over there. The movie is absolutely incredible. Under water you will see the biggest and most bizarre animals. I haven't seen super big animals yes. Just some groupers (80 kg). But I am certain I will see more.

Back to the elephant. When the rest of the group was riding the elephant, I was walking in the nature. But soon I was back. I noticed that there was also a monkey in this place. Captured, with a ring around it's neck. I have to admit that I am a bit hypocrite when talking about the captured elephants, because I started playing with the captured monkey. And monkeys are remarkable creatures. I could watch and interact for hours with them. This was a small one. About 2 kg. He used the rope around his neck to lift himself up and to slide from one place to the other. He would jump, climb and run and had absolutely no problems. I was watching this, and he was observing me. I found a long stick. And since the monkey had a wooded place, I lay the stick down on this wooden place and held the other side. The monkey walked on it and tried to come close to me. But I stayed out of his reach. Then he walked back and we repeated this a few times. Then I gave the stick to the monkey and held it myself with very little force. The monkey took the stick and started to take it closer to him all the time, forcing me to come closer and closer. I knew, and I came closer. Then he quickly run on the stick and onto my arm. He was watching my back and I showed him how to open and close the back. And this monkey was learning! Absolutely an intense learning process. The best student. All was fine and both he and I were enjoying. He sat on my shoulder and tried to take my glasses. This I would't let and I put my glasses away. And we continued class. But then the owner, the women, came with some peanuts and for some reason the monkey became very excited. I became a bit scared. And the monkey tried to bite my left arm. I put my arm up and down, but since the monkey was actually holding on to that arm, it didn't make sense. Then he jumped from my left arm to my right arm. And until now, no damage. But on my right arm, he kept on biting. I duck back and just before, he managed to give me a small bite. Because I duck back, he line on which he was tied, was not long enough and he had to climb back to his own area. I don't blame the monkey. He was just excited and I got scared because of his response. The monkey has a rabies injection and so do I (three in fact). And since there were only a few drops of blood, all will be fine.

Later, I coudn't resist just sitting. So went back to the monkey and from a distance, I showed him how to open and close my camera pocket. Again, he was the best student ever. Then I tossed him my camera pocket. After I took out my camera of course. A Japanese girl was watching now too.
The monkey opened the camera pocked and found a small pocket. Shit, I didn't realise. In there, there was a bit of plastic to put another SD card in. He was looking at this pocket ( I have a picture of this). This monkey was learning, learning. Wow! But I got a bit anxious. Because, yes of course he would open this pocket very soon. And yes, in 30 seconds, it was open and he took the plastic out. Fine as long as he...noooo...fuck. He puts in in his mouth. So me and the Japanese girl started to freak out. Noooo.nooo..nooo. The monkey hold on to his rope, made a monster jump towards me. Tried to hit me with his hand. I saw him in a swift moment, duck back, hit the fence behind, almost fell behind, over the fence. Then resettled, and quickly took the plastic from the ground. It was already out of reach of the monkey. The owner came and took my camera bag back. The monkey was relaxed already. It is really true. When you get scared, they get scared. The owner was very relaxed and patient, and the monkey became relaxed. So, I have to admit I am a bit hypocrite with the wild animals thing, because although I didn't ride the elephant, I did play with the monkey and in a moment made him angry (or greedy).

There were six more days in Bangkok. I don't remember the exact order in which everything happened, so I will just write down what happened.
After the 3 day tours, luckily, I could sleep as long as I wanted. What a luxury. It also gave the great possibility to talk with my girlfriend often. Since the time difference is 5 hours, when she is home from her work, it is past 2300 here in Bangkok. And I had free wireless internet on my room. What a luxury. We talked very often and long. That was great.
Also, since I had so much time, I could really settle down here. This room, room top with a lookout over Bangkok, was my home for 10 days. There were 2 rooms. Mine and another one. In the other one was an older American guy, Mel, that was with pension already. (no not the dirty old guy looking for a cheap girl). He was a volunteer for a school to teach english. And he has fought in the Vietnam war. He also had training on Antartica and went to Siberia for the army. We had some great conversations. About virtually everything. About the wars. About alien life (is there or not?). About life in general, politics etc. It was great to have some time just to settle down in one place.
Also, I went to my favourite street restaurant. 4 times a day. A few times I managed to have green curry for breakfast, lunch, 4 o' clock, dinner and second dinner (in the night around 1.30 after talking with my girlfriend)--> so that even makes 5 green curries a day :). Yummy.. I really love the Thai food. I tried more. Like the fried cashewnuts. Delicious. The fruitshakes. The sweet sour mixed vegetable. Yum Yum. Pad Thai (nice, but not the best). But the best is still the green curry.
Often I sat down in the open street restaurant, watching all that passed by. Locals, tourists, hippies. Women trying to sell wooden frogs that they scrape with a stick, so it sounds like a real frog. Dogs. Rarely a cat. Women trying to sel....massaaaagee. Old dirty guys with too young girls. I chatted with tourists from different places of the world. Tuk Tuks. 'Where are you going Sir? You need Tuk Tuk?
Famous here is also the fish massage Fish maaaassaaaage? These fishes eat your skin. The same fishes swim near Koh Tao (cleaner fishes). So I already had my free fish massage. → Lud why don't we take an aquarium in Geneva with those fishes? They scrub very well :)
What else? The dog with puppies. First 8, later 6. Some people took the puppies to take care of. I say, take care, because people here respect animals. Luckily. The birds that were the lucky ones having green curry with rice every day. The occasional rat. The drunk people on the opposite of the street, sometimes with a (probably coke sniffing) hoe.

Three of these last days, I worked on my websites. Mostly I planned all the mailings until january 2011. And I worked on datesingles.be. It was great to have this time. And when hungry, I walked 5 minutes to Rambuttri street, paid 1,50 euro and had a mango shake with green curry and rice. Delicious!
I have to say I didn't really explore Khao San Road. I just didn't feel like going to the pub or disco. Maybe I am getting a bit old. I just enjoyed relaxing and hanging around the place were I stayed.

One evening I went with Pong to a muay thai fight. Pong, Pongtharin, I met in Amman- Jordan. He lives in Canada, but he went back to Thailand until next year. So we met up and went to the muay thai stadium. We paid 1000 baht (25 euro) and had front seats! Incredible. For 9 fights we were 5 metres away from the fight. It was great! With a beer (finally, after a very long time) and the camera in the hand, we totally enjoyed this evening. I guess it is something typically for guys to enjoy fights. Pong was hoping for a knock-out. And yes, in the third fight, there was a knock-out. It was so quick though, that it was hard to see how it happened. I thought it was a knee in the kidneys. But some other people in the stadium showed an elbow. I quess it was an elbow on the sleep.
Fight number 7 was the best. It was very intense and with great techniques. Also, it was great to just look at the coaches and the crowd. Yes, we had a great evening!

Another day I went with Pong to the Thailand national museum. Here it was very interesting to see the past of Siam. There were a lot of fights between what now is Thailand, Birma and Cambodia. There were fights with horses and elephants. War elephants. In the maquetes this is shown very well. Furthermore it shows about the kings. Now it is Thailands 9th king. This one takes great care of his people and the country. And in general, people love him. Yes, there are the red and yellow shirts. But in general, the educated people support the current king.

We visited some temples and we went to Chinatown was very interesting. A lot of food of which you have no idea of the origin. The flavours (even my nose was able to smell these), the atmosphere. Absolutely great.

Another day I went to the best Pad Thai restaurant with Pong and his mother. I have to admit, normally pad thai is not my favourite dish, but in this place it is incredible tasty. This restaurant has won prices year after year. A lot of international magazines have praised this restaurant for their Pad Thai.

The last evening I met up with a spanish-argentinian couple from the hotel. I knew them already for a while. The last evening in Bangkok we had dinner together and we wanted to have a very gross Thai experience. So after normal dinner, we went for our dessert. Bugs. Yes, grasshopper, white worms and something else.
With a Chang (beer) in one hand, and a bag of fried bugs in the other, we were ready to try them. It took me quite a while to try. But Gustavo (the argentinian guy) very easily ate some bugs. His girlfriend Anna had some difficulties. I was number two. After a few minutes I tried. Grasshopper I ate some years ago with the Africa day in my home town (Almere). It is not too bad. But I would not order extra. The white worms were ok. But no, not delicious.
Then we were finished. But Anna said now we should go all the way. So as our final dessert we ordered the fried scorpion. A black, fried scorpion. You could see the claws and the spikey tail. Just when we ordered the scorpion, a thai girl ordered a bag full of bugs. And she told, for her it is very normal to have bugs. She actually likes it.
The scorpion took all of us some more time to eat. Gustavo was the first. With not too many difficulties, he bite of the poisonous tail. Then, after some minutes, I was ready to take one of the claws. Anna took the last claw. And then we shared what was left.
It was an interesting experience. And we had a lot of fun. Like teenagers trying to make each other do stupid things. Yes, we enjoyed. But food quality-wise, I would not recommand it. It doesn't taste as bad as they look, but no, not high cuisine for me. Instead of 3 scorpions, I rather order one mango juice and one green curry with rice :)

Some other interesting things happened in Bangkok. In the hotel I had the top floor. But I was not alone..No indeed, I wrote about Mel. Yes, that's true, but I am not talking about Mel. The people that do the wash? No..actually also not them. There were two room, but in the night there were 3 occupants. Ok, reasonable. But one of them was not a person. What was it then? It was something running on 4 legs and with a large tail. Black and brown, and it liked to sniff trough the bins. Yes, we had an amigo on the top floor. Mister Rat. On the first night I was very, very sleepy. I heard something scraping my door, but I was too sleepy to bother. It went on for a few hours. But every time I heard it, I felt asleep straight away. The next morning I did see some wood next to the door. But even by then, I didn't realise. Actually I thought it was a lizard, as in Koh Tao. But lizards don't live in the city. The next morning Mel walked towards me and said 'You had a problem yesterday evening'. What happened? 'You had a rat in your room'. Finally, I understood. And yes, the rat had eaten trough the door in the night. A 3 cm thick door. That explained the pieces of wood. And some nights I saw him running away when I went to the toilet. Mister Rat enjoyed being here. We blocked some of the entrances and I haven't seen him anymore. But Mel did see him a few more times.

While in Bangkok, I also went to Siam Niramit. A beautifull show. This is performed on the biggest stage of the world. The price is 900 bath (21 euro). Quite a lot for Thai standards. But I really liked to go. The place was about 20 minutes by taxi from Khao San road. I took 1 hour just to be sure. Due to the traffic, we were not even on half when it was 20.00 – showtime. I called with PKN travel to see what we could do. And actually at the start I was a bit annoyed, because they told me with taxi it would be around 20 minutes. So in my perception 1 hour should have been enough. The women, ms Kookkai (the owner, I later found out), picked up the phone. It was unbelievable how helpful she was. I started realise that it wsa also my fault. I mean, this is Bangkok, with traffic jams everywhere. I went back to Khao San Road. (Rambuttri Street to be exact) and a few days later, they could book me in in another show. I paid half the price extra. But the way they helped me shows the great character of the Thai.

A few days later I was going to the show. I took 3 hours just to get there. 2,5 hours in total it took me to actually arrive at the place, just 20 km away from Soi Rambuttri.
Arriving in the show, already you feel the perfection. I was happy to be dressed up in long jeans and relatively nice t-shirt. The doors are hold open for you. The theatre just breaths poshness. The show itself is outstanding. Great dancing and music. The storyline a bit thin, but who cares? I have seen a minimum of 2 elephants on the stage. A few chicken, goats. It rained and the water was kept on the stage to represent a lake. On that lake the performers went with a boat. The show shows the ancient Siam. The Chinese entering. Buddhism and hell, heaven and in between. Actually I prefered the in between, because there were really cool animals on 4 feet (a bit like dragons). Heaven was too dreamy for me. I mean, the show was great. But if one asks, you want to be in Buddhism heaven, hell, or in between, then for the cool animals i'd like to be in the in between.
Hell, some of the tortures:
Drinking: you are boiled in a pot with intensly hot water and you have to drink boiling water.
Adultry: you climb a thorny tree and be hit with spikes by the demons.
Hitting your parents: you are hit by thorny spikes by demons.
I forgot the other ones.
Find the website of this beautifull show on:http://www.siamniramit.com

On the 22th of october in the evening I had my passport back :). Yes, with India visa. Valid for 6 months from now. Multiple entry. Not that I intend to use more. But 3 months would have been very very exact. Because it was stamped on the 20th of october and I leave india on the 20th of jan to go to Nepal (more to tell about that later).

Posted by Aussierala 07:45 Archived in Thailand Tagged food hotel market thailand river bangkok relaxation ayutthaya kwai daytrip foating Comments (0)

Exploring the rainforest

Khao Sok expedition

rain 28 °C

The next morning at 8 I was ready for the jungle experience. I got picked up after the breakfast and was in a group with three Germans. Lars, Lian and Louisa. Not very German names indeed. We went for a 65km ride to a lake. The lake was formed by the building of a dam. Before, it was all rainforest. The view, like so often, is amazing and beautifull. The boatride took one hour and since I got up, it is raining, raining. But really, monsoon raining. So everyone wears there fashionable raincoats :). I have a blue one. And in the group we have red, black, yellow and green. And, sure it was more, but I forgot. Under way, we also picked up an older couple from yes, Argentina :).
But they lived in Israel for a long while already. When I asked the man which soccer team he supports, he said; argentina. It's in my heart. And he wore an Argentina cap. That's why I knew so quickly.

We arrived at a village build on the water. Had an amazing lunch. A lot of food. Really needed for the 4 hour hike ahead. Also, we had a swim in the lake. The water is really good. It's more warm than any shower I had since Dubai. And I really long for a hot shower again.
After, it was time to just take the nescessary stuff and go. Some people had a waterproof bag (diving bag, luckily), so we could take the camera with us. So there we went; our barefoot Thai guide, 3 Germans, me and the older Argentinian couple. The start of the hike was already pretty tough. It was on a steep slope, next to the river. Still, monsoon was welcoming us :). When you did a misstap, the sand would fall in the water. And, the river was not a good one to fall in. Stones and a lot, a lot of current. Some of us got the first leeches on their feel. Happily being taken off by others. Blegh, anoying animals. I already had one this morning on me. He was just starting to suck my blood when I took him off. We continued. The walk was phenominal. But yes, difficult. Some parts were really small and steep and you had to look carefully where to put your feet. Until now everyone was still fairly dry, except for the monsoon rain that soaked the clothing. But then, we had to cross the river on a rope. No way to stay dry now. The current was very strong and the tourguide went first, helping the argentinian man. The Argentinian womam was second in line and I was thirth. She was in the middle of the rope, but the current was too strong and she barely hold on to the rope. With the right technique it was ok, but you also needed to use your arms correctly and if possible, try to put your feet down on the rocky ground. She was literally floating on the water, with her hands on the rope, but not having a lot of energy. So, I helped her to get to the other side of the river. It was quite funny, because for her it was really scary. For me it was a difficult river crossing, but not too bad. Yes, if you would loose the rope, you would hit a lot of rocks and be washed away tens of metres.
The travel continued and now we were not only wet from the rain, but also soaked because of the river. I had walking shoes and they were soaking, as were my socks. Others had walking sandals. But there were leeches. More and more. So yes, everyone got some of those dirty animals sucking the blood and we took them off. It turned out not to be so difficult, but no, they are really disgusting. We saw some spiders and a few monkeys :) Yes. Another river crossing. This time a bit easier. Totally we crossed the river 4 times. But only one was really difficult. Also, we waded trough the shallower parts of the river, water until the waist. You could really feel the current strongly when you went a bit deeper. Slowly, the rain was becoming less. But still, we were soaked and the mud, river and small pools were there. Sometimes someone slipt, fell, sometimes we took leeches out of the ankles, or thighs. Sometimes we had to watch out for spiky branches, rocks, currents or weak undergrounds. Yes, it was a very adventurous walk. I will not say dangerous, but yes, you needed to take care. Then we arrived at a cave. The tourguide explained that normally we could go trough the cave, but now, because of the rain, the water level was until the neck. One big rainfall more would create a washflood, which would literally mean that you would die in the cave, because the water level hits the wall and you are trapped. This year, 7 travellers died because of this and just one survived. It was not save to go into the cave. We all immediately agreed on this. We went to the waterfall instead. It was great to see the might of the nature. It was a heavy walk, but not dangerous. Yes, you could snap your ankle, and especially, when we were wading trough the water, you had to be carefull how to walk. If you would slip, you might really hurt yourself. The rain started again. We went back. Now the monsoon was really on its hardest. And we were all happy we didn't go into the cave (the tourguide wouldn't have let us anyway). The way back turned out to be more difficult than when we arrived. You could really feel the increase of the current due to the extra rainfall. Very adventurous. The argentinian man waited about 30min from the waterfall. It was too difficult for him. His wive, surprisingly, made it. My compliments. They were both around 60 years.
We waded trought the river. Water that on the way to there was till the ankles, was now until the knees. I have a limited supply of pictures, where you see the water. Yes, we were actually int the water. Luckily we had the waterproof diving bags. You had to be carefull not to rely on the wrong sticks. Some are actually not stable and fell down, or just hang in the trees. Some had spikes, or spiders. So all with all, very interesting. And yes, you need a basic level of stamina, balance and adventure. It's not for everyone. When we almost arrived back to our boat, one of the German girls hold on to a stick that broke. The slided down. The German guy was behind her and I was behind. It turned out that there was a wasp nest in that stick. The wasps immediately came out and stung the German guy 5 times. I got one stung. The guy quickly slided down and cut his hand due to this. The German girl had about 2 stings. Almost at the end. Well, it was a great walk. And everyone who is a bit adventurous, I would really recommand this. But yes, you need to be prepared with good shoes, a basic level of stamina and willing to accept some scratches, stings or leech bites.

We went back with the boat. I didn't have extra clothing, because I already used it for swimming. So I was having my wet clothing on. And I felt I was getting a cold. A one hour boatride (super quick, impressive) brought us back to the bus. In the evening I had dinner with the three Germans. They all go to Paradise Island (Koh Tao). I hope for them that the monsoon does not continue too much. I learned that the monsoon is on its top in October/November there. They go, and for if they go diving, I gave them the contact details of Leo.
That evening, when back in my house (Bamboo house on poles, yes ;) ), I started to feel more bad. I had a cold, obviously.

The next morning I had a breakfast and went into Khao Sok national park. Soon after my arrival, it started to rain. I am talking monsoon rain. So the raincoat came in very handy. I felt that the cold was still in my body and after about one hour I realised that this excersise, although less than yesterday, was too much for my body. So I decided to head back to the the Bamboo house.
When I arrived I explained that I didn't feel so good and liked to rent the appartment for 4 hours to have a sleep until the bus arrived. The women responded very distant and even turned away to watch television. The man did respond, but not too helpful. In the end, they charged 150 bath. Normal price for a day is 200 baht. My first response was; that's a lot. And yes, it is. I ended up paying it. But the relationship with these guys was already bad. At first when I arrived with the other couple, it was ok. But I just wanted to have some rest and didn't want to mingle with everyone. So most of the time I was in the forest or in my hut. And for dinner, yes, I went somewhere else sometimes, because the food was better and cheaper in the restaurant. And I didn't book tours with them, because they charged far too much. It's not that they were very unfriendly, it's just that we lacked the connection. In the end I slept for 4 hours. After, I took lunch at their place. The women cooked, but when she brought it, she didn't even look at me. And when I paid, the first time ever after Egypt (of course, Egypt), I am not sure, but I heard the word 'tip?'. Of course I gave exactly the right amount.
Just later the bus arrived to bring me to Bangkok. The woman and men left with their car, without saying goodbye. So, actually, for a while I was alone in their house (hut), with their children and dogs. And 5 minutes later, the bus that brought me to Bangkok left. On the way we passed by their car and the driver of the bus signaled them. They did make eye contact with the driver. Not with me.
Very strange experience. Absolutely non-thai. Party it might have been because of me. At first, when the French couple was there, we had dinnner together and the Thai man showed us a gecko. And he cleared my room that was full, really full of ants. But after the day in the forest (that I booked somewhere else; cheaper + free breakfast), and the dinner that I didn't have in their house, but in a restaurant with the Germans, and me being more in my room after a long day, the connection turned bad. Not negatively, but just ignoring each other. I tried to be friendly, but after a while I gave up and just ordered my food and didn't invest energy. I was too tired and had a cold anyway.

So luckily, away from this place. When I say this, I mean,luckily away from Bamboo House. Khao Sok itself was incredible and beautifull.
The small bus brought me to the bus station of Surrat Thani. There I had lunch and waited for the bus, reading 'the art of war' by Sun Tzu. A very interesting, but difficult book to read. Also, I asked for the place where the bus would arrive. Everyone was very helpful. Nevertheless, I had the feeling no one really knew where the bus would arrive. But, when it arrived, everyone pointed me in the right direction. Wow, how friendly.
Today was also my first interaction with the famous Thai appearance of lady-boy. She (or he?) worked for the bus company and helped me finding the right bus to go to Bangkok. I am writing this blog now when I am already in cambodia (28th of october). And since then, I have met more lady-boys. Two work in a street restaurant in Bangkok, where I ate almost every day. It seems like the Thai culture is very open to lady-boys. I think that is something that the Thai could be very proud about; respecting everyone. Later, Pong told me that still Thai make fun about the lady-boys. But yes, it is far more accepted than in a lot of other countries.
A long 12 hours bus ride to Bangkok was starting. A bus ride in the so-called VIP bus. A bus that is beautifully painted and very luxurious. We got water and a snack from the bus company. At a stop, everyone going with the bus, got a dinner. This was all included. A sheet for sleeping and seats that actually could really go so far down, that sleeping was possible. Wow, a real luxourious bus indeed. During the ride until about 2300, they showed a movie. Luckily, after, they respect the fact that people like to sleep. Sometimes I hear stories about the night-reggeaton busses that go trough south America (Sorry Lud, bonita). They forget that people actually take a night bus to try to have a sleep in the bus and be at their destination the next morning. Luckily the VIP bus company knows the reason why people take the overnight bus and I have to say that it is absolute quality.
In the early morning on the 13th of October, I arrived in Bangkok east bus station.

13th of october until 22th of october
Bangkok. Back in Bangkok. First, I had to find my way to Khao San Road. Taxidrivers started to offer me rides for 500 bath (12,50 euro). I knew that was too much. But, anyone (except the people of Bamboo hut) are friendly int Thailand. So, in contrary to Egypt, you can smile when you negotiate with taxi drivers. In the end they offered 200 bath. But by then, I talked to one guy that gives information trough a speaker (DJ style), and he told me there would be a bus at 5.30 am. That was just 15minutes from now. So I walked to the bus station and took a bus to Khao San Road. Price was about 25 baht (0,60 euro). From there, early morning, I walked along Khao San Road towards Soi Rambuttri. On the Khao San Road I saw a few hoes with a white tourist. Regularly you see the older or ugly guy with a young good, or bad-looking Thai girl. This time I was surprised to seee the goodlooking young player-style guy; the guy that goes to a club and always gets a lot of girls, actually paying a girl. Wow, who is controlling who?

The Lamphu house, where I stayed before, was fully booked, so I walked on, trying to find another place. It turned out most places around were booked. I walked a bit away from the main streets and found a nice hotel to stay ….......................
This would be my hotel for the next 10 days. Free internet, my own fan room and a hot shower for 200 bath. (5 euro)

10 days? Yes, well I didn't know that by then. My idea was 4 days. I would meet up with Pong and see some of the surrounding area and get my India visa done.

After some extra sleep I went to find mister Thai Travel. My bonita advised me to get my visa with them. I actually found the place. But their prices were quite hight. I tried to negotiate, but they didn't go with it. I ended up going to ….. travel..P.K.B travel. They arranged my India visa (10 days) and Cambodia Visa (1 day). Also, I booked a few day tours with them.

So, 10 days in Bangkok. What am I going to do? First day, I needed rest after a 12 hours bus ride. The cold was almost over. The day tours would take 3 days; Ayutthaya; the former capital of Thailand, the floating market and a day tour to the River Kwai Bridge. Also, I intended to work a bit on my websites for 2 or 3 days. By then., most of the 10 days would have been used.

I could have been going to Chang Mai, where they have the village with the long necks. I don't know when they say this, they mean this distrespectfull, or just as a decription of the fact that these people put rings on their necks, to make their necks long. But to Chang Mai would take 10 hours one way by train. By then I didn't kow that in a few days there would be immense floodings in the east and north of Bangkok, so Chang Mai was only reachable by bus or plane. But I didn't feel like going 10 hours one way and back 10 hours. After a while you just want to have rest instead of going Amsterdam – Bordeaux and Bordeaux-Amsterdam in 4 days.
So I dropped this plan and just settled down in Bangkok.
The next 3 days there were day trips. Every morning starting at 6.50. Oeeff..that's not really what I think of by having holiday. But then, it has a good reason.
The first day was Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya is the former capital of Thailand, or Siam as it used to be called. Here I went to some of the old Khmer Temples and an immense buddha. Well, actually Gato and I went to Ayutthaya, with a tourbus. Most of the temples were not too spectacular. But nice to see. But one was really good. This is the temple were we, luckily, could spend a lot of time. Also, there was a shrine close to here. It was very interesting to visit this sacred place. After, on walking distance, there is a place with elephants. I did have a look, but didn't ride the elephant. I already rode on camels and horses. For me, it is not so spectacular to try to ride every ridable animal. They also let the elephant do tricks. I did look, but this is a reason why I don't pay or make a picture of this. An elephant standing on its two rear legs, or with its front legs crossed with its back legs, nos hight, is not an elephant. It's something that is created to please the audience, but not the elephant.
So no pictures of that.
During the trip we also had an incredible lunch. Included in the tour. The tour was 450 baht; 11,25 euro.

Posted by Aussierala 07:40 Archived in Thailand Tagged rain rainforest water boat hiking backpacking Comments (0)

Welcome to Paradise

Koh tao, Paradise island

rain 34 °C

27th of september until 13th of october.
That's a long period to cover in one blog message? Yes, it is. And there is a good reason for that. I have been spending all that time on Ko Tao. Also known by me and many others as Paradise Island. Koh Tao is really an amazing beautifull island. Its 7 km long and 3 km in widh. Not too small, not too big to be overwhelming. No mass tourism (yet). Peacefull and a great site for diving.

After arrival in Champon with the train, I waited 3 hours for a bus. I would say; why didn't the tour office sell tickets for the train that would arrive later? Anyway, the bus arrived and quickly everyone could get on the boat. Most of the people went to Ko Tao, or Ko Phanang. After a boatride of about 2 hours, the boat arrived to Ko Tao. There, I got into a bus of the Grand coral divers and after a wait in which I bought some fruit, it was time to go to the appartments.
After arrival, we got a quick briefing for the day; just watching 2 dive movies and reading a lot of material. But first, I went to sleep for about 4 hours. After, I quickly read to a part of the theory and went to see the dive movies. Instruction video's. Also, we had to fill in a form with which we wave all responsibility to the dive agency if something wrong happens.

So, time for the first introduction to diving. The instruction video's were very good; both instruction wise as entertaining. And beautifull underwater views. The homework was to read more and the next morning at 9.00 we weer expected at the diveshop to go trough the theory. In the afternoon, the first swimming pool session. This went quite good.
The day after, we had another part of theory and after, a swimming pool session again. Breathing under water and learning important procedures if you would loose your regulator. Breathing from your buddy's air, how to handle when you're getting out of air. Emergency ascent etc. All went very good and it was a lot of fun. Though, there was one thing that I had problems with: if the mask is off, you have to be able to breath trough your regulator. That part is easy. But I tend to take the air in from my nose. Under water, without mask, that's creating the effect of drawning. So I decided to take one day of rest and decide what to do.
The next day I just relaxed a lot, booked a 'surprise accomodation' for me and my girlfriend for the first 2 nights in India, and read a lot of theory. I decided to continue the course. In a way, I actually was thinking of quitting. But then, after having seen the beautifull movies and heard the stories, I was thinking: just continue.
I got placed in another group. My own group already had its first dive in the sea. And the stories were amazing!
I got placed with an Estonian guy, who was also my neighbor in the appartments: Albert. And it was just the two of us. Very good! Our teacher was a girl from Norway: Thea.
I was very happy to be in such a small group. Before the group consisted of 5!! students. Now, just two.

Under water, still at first, I had some problems with the breathing without mask, but once getting more relaxed, it worked. It took me some time, but I managed :). So I finished all needed to go to the sea the next day.

And yes, the next day it was time to go into the sea. My first 12 metres dive. Along the boatline, we went down. Enjoyed the view and did a lot of tricks and procedures. After all, we were still in training. I was amazed that under water in the sea, diving is actually more easy than in the swimming pool. And the underwater life is just incredible. We have seen a lot of different things: A lot of coral, fishes and more. Say: the goby and the shrimp. Always together. The goby is not good at making a house, but has a good sight. The shrimp is good at making a hole (house) in the ground, but cannot see. So they work together and are always close to each other. When danger passes by, the goby warns the shrimp and they duck into the hole that the shrimp made. But, the hole will collapse. So after they come out, the shrimp has to dig a new hole.
Parrotfish. Beautifull and colorfull. Anemone fish: think of Nemo. That's a clownfish indeed. Butterflyfish, angelfish, Bannerfish. All beautifull. As being in a movie. And as soon as you are under water, you're one of them. Which means, that as long as you don't come too close, they will keep doing their normal behavior. Some fishes you can approach to less then one meter. And, underwater there is the magnifying effect, so everything looks bigger.
We were followed by a cleaner fish. That fish will eat your dead skin. So we even got a massage.
The second dive was without a line. Same procedures, 12 meter and some new tricks to learn. Another incredible dive.

The next day there were two more dives. I have to say that I am starting to forget a bit. After all, now it is the 9th of october (6 am in the morning: I am waiting for the bus to Khao Sak).

I do remember that all dives were great. So yes, I enjoyed a lot and felt more and more comfortable under water.
So then the course was over and Albert and me were open water divers :) Yes! It took a lot of energy, a lot of reading, studying and practice. Even one day off to decide what I was going to do, but yes, I did it. And it is great!
So after, I had one more night in the coral grand divers resort. I spend the day resting. The next day I was thinking of doing a walk in the jungle of the island. So I had to book another night. Something here, surprised me. Since I was not diving anymore, or doing a fun dive, they charged 800 baht, for a room with fan, electricity and cold water. That's 20 euro. Only when I would do another course or fun dives every day, it would cost 400 baht. Ok, time to leave. I was very very surprised, because somewhere I was thinking of continuing the course and doing the advanced open water. But not with the pressure of the room price being extremely high if I would decide not to dive one day.
I spend some time searching internet for good alternatives. After all, I really enjoyed paradise island :) and wanted to spend more time here. I found a few places for 400 baht on internet and left. When walking, I met a canadian guy, Tarek, who stayed in the backpackers hostel; 300 baht a day. I knew that, but also knew that that means 8 people in one room. And I first wanted to check a bit on my alternatives. During the walk, Tarek and I came in conversation with a dive master. After a while, it turned out he was from the Netherlands. He left the Netherlands when he was 12 and lived in the UK for 21 years. By now, he was a diving instructor for 2,5 years. He suggested me the Prick Tai resort. About 400 baht and very close. Also, I told him I was doubting a bit of whether to do the advanced course. He explained me all and told me that for diving in Indonesia (where I would go later), I need the advanced course. I also explained him I will be back in Thailand in february next year. He told me it could also be a good idea just to wait till february and then decide. I checked out Prick Tai and it turned out to be a very good place. Nice, clean room, electricity and (cold) water. The woman that worked there was very friendly and I decided to stay for 2 nights.

I cannot remember every day exactly, but I stayed a lot longer than 2 nights. I guess it was about 5 nights. Koh Tao is truly amazing. I did a jungle walk and hang out with the Dutch divemaster (Leo) and his colleges. In the end I decided to go for the advanced open water. Leo was very open and honest and never pressed to take the course. He had 12 years experience and in a way I knew that if I wanted to go for the advanced course some day, the cheapest place to go is Koh Tao. And, you get quality here.
So yes, I went for the avanced. I got a big book to study (a few chapters) and the next morning we started diving. 2 dives on one day.

First, buoyancy control. Essential, as I will explain later. My buoyancy skills are not too bad. But with some more practice, I could use my air even more efficient as I am doing now. Leo is incredible. He could stay on one level in the sea, just 50 cm over the coral and stay completely still, to observe the aquatic life. Or, he rolls up as a ball, looks and when he wants to move, he just slowly pushes with his fins. And always, he stays on the same level. He brought down a hoop and I had to swim trough, turn, with my hands grab the upper part, make a circle around it; upside down, and then upside down, swim back trough the hoop. Pretty difficult, but fun. Also, by breathing I learned another trick. Very difficult and I need more practice on this one. Lay flat on you belly on the ground. Breath in, slowly, and out, quick. You will go up. Now, stand on the top of your fins and exhale quicker than you inhale; you will go down and just before your back hits the ocean floor, breath in more than exhaling, and you go up again. This was really cool and difficult. But when I am able to control this, my buoyancy control is very very good.

The other dive, later that day was navigation. For sure, not my strongest point. With compass, and / or natural navigation, I had to find my way back, or make a square. That was very difficult. And I need to practice more on this one. Also, natural navigation. Yes, you can use rocks and corals. I foun my way back. But as soon as I go over sand, I will get lost. Especially when the sight is not too far, I am easily confused. All suddenly looks the same.
But this also, was a great experience under water. As always :). And Leo, he is really the underwater master. It is incredible what tricks he can do. I was very lucky to be his only student so I could learn a lot.

n the evening, I had dinner with Leo and Joe (USA) and his wive also joined. We had dinner in a Chinese restaurant. The next day it was time for diving. 3 more dives!
The evening during the dinner, I decided it would be great to have a movie made of the the first 2 dives. The price, 60 euro, was a bit high. But then, this experience is awesome. So in the end, I decided to go for the movie.

So there we were, 6.20 in the morning. Sun just rising, the boat ready. Ready to go. On the boat were more people, but my group consisted of Leo, Joe, Prue (she filmed the first two dives) and me. The first dive was a deep dive. That is one of the compulsary dives for the advanced course. Max 30 metres. We went to 29 metres. Before I was a bit anxious. Also, during the night. When on the boat, Leo explained that, although unlikely, we might see a shark. Honestly, it did scare me a bit, and on the other hand was very fascinating. He explained that if the shark comes close, just keep looking. Also when you swim back, always keep looking. Human are not shark food and all the stories of attacking sharks have a reason. Surfers, peddling in the water, look like seals. And yes, seals are shark food. Human kill millions of sharks a year and destroy the fish grounds. Sharks find alternative places for food and that might be more near to beaches where people swim. So, who is destroying who?
If a shark is ready to attack, he cannot bit you from head to toe. So what he does is twist a quarter. So he could bite from your left to right side. Our answer could be: either, spread our arms and legs and the shark runs off. He realises we are not food. Or, also turn a quarter.
Yes, during diving some day you might see a shark. It is more fascinating than scary. The first time will be scary. All divemasters on Koh Tao have seen sharks and are happy to see more. They are very interesting. As long as you respect their behavior, nothing will happen.
But yes, I was a bit nervous. No worries. Time to go. We first went with a line down. Then, from 20 metres, we went to 29 metres. It surprised me, but it really didn't feel like 29 metres. Therefore, it is very important to check your dept gauge. It is so easy to go down and down. But every 10 metres the pressure goes 1 bar up. That, you can easily equalise with your ears. But, you will use your air quicker. At 10 metres, 2 times as quick as on the surface. At 20 metres, 3 times as quick. Etc. This is because of the pressure. Also, when you dive around the 30 metres deep, you need to have a decompression stop at 5 metres for a minimum of 3 minutes. This to get the nitrogen out of your body. Divers that go up to quickly might experience decompression sickness. This means that the nitrogen in your body expands when the pressure decreases when going up. If you just keep breathing and don't go up to quickly, all is ok. And yes, around a 30 metres dive, a decompression stop is compulsary. If you go up to quickly, or don't do a decompression stop when needed, the nitrogen expands and creates bubbles in your body, or blood. That might seriously injure your health.
So enough physics :). The point here is that when diving deeper than 20 metres, and especially around 30 metres, it is very important to monitor your gauges. It's too easy to stay down too long or too deep and you don't want to run out of air, or have to skip your decompression stop due to a low air supply.

The dive went perfect. Because of the dept, less colours are to be seen. For example, red is not seen anymore. Leo took an egg down and we had to guess what he was going to do with it. Joe and I didn't know. When he broke the egg down at the bottom, within 3 seconds the fish ate all. It was very interesting to see. But what Leo wanted to show is that the egg stays intact. We could have even played volleyball with the egg (without the shell). We stayed here for about 8 minutes and slowly ascented to shallower depts. In total we spent just over 30 minutes for this dive. We have seen a grouper, a lot of sea urchins, one lionfish (yes!) and a lot more.

After a rest and some food and drinks on the boat, we went for a second dive. This time around 14 metres and it was the fish identification dive for me. First we did some crazy stuff for the video. Playing volleyball with each other, jumping huge jumps like being on the moon, swimming trough each others arms and more. It was really cool. And because you barely feel gravity, you can swim upside down, jump high, make circles, play volleyball etc. Wow!
Then, it was time for the fish identification. Leo would point me some fish and I had to write down (under water, or later) which fish he showed. Unfortunately, he knew that I recognised parrot fish, angel fish, bannerfish and some more. So he didn't point at these. It turned out to be pretty hard. But it was another great, great dive.
We went to the shore and had a break, some food, drink and later went on the boat again for the 3rd dive. This dive was just Leo and me. We did the underwater naturalist dive. He told me I had to find 2 sorts of plants under water, 4 animals with an outside skeletton and 5 with an inside skeleton. But, for the inside skeletton all the common fish were not allowed. So yes, it turned out to be very, very hard. Not angel fish, parrot fish, rabbit fish, bannerfish. No, baracudas etc etc. And...corals are not plants. So although you think you swim between plants, it is actually millions of small animals working together. Plus, this area does not have crabs, lopsters or other common outside skelleton animals.
In the end, we found a seastar (outside skelleton), the goby and the shrimp (yes)!, and the rest, I don't know. For inside skelettons, one grouper, one white eyed murray eel (yes) and some less common fish. Also, just one plant. We stayed under water for 1 hour and 7 minutes. On about 12 metres. It was absolutely great. And even when we came up, both of us had sill 50 bar (a quarter) of the tank left. Leo explained me my breathing is very steady, and if I would work on my buoyancy, I would be able to stay under water even longer. Buoyancy means, the floatation of yourself. I you know when to breath and how to breath, you can go up or down, just by your breathing. (Taking in consideration that you are properly weighted and equiped when you go into the water). My biggest challenge is still that I don't always breath out all my air. Which, on land, is fine. But under water, means that you keep on floating up and need precious energy to go down again. If I use my whole lungs, and also breath out totally, then, yes, I will be even more efficient. Another great dive!

In the evening we met Joe and his wive again and Prue, our camera women, showed us the movie she made and edited. The movie is great and I have seen it already about 6 times ( now it is the 12th of October when I write this). I will send it to both Holland and Switzerland :).

My idea was to leave the day after. But I liked the place and I needed to work a bit on my websites. And since internet is cheap here (20 bath per day at Prick Tai); in the village it is 1 bath a minute: 1,50 euro an hour, crazy, I had a good reason to stay longer. The next day, I mainly worked. About 5 hours. Catched up with a lot of things for my websites, mail and called my parents. In the evening I had the night boat to Surrathani. From there, a bus to Koh Sok. Leo suggested me to go there when I asked him what he would really recommand. Koh Sok is one of the oldest forests of South East asia. Here you can see monkeys, tigers (rare) and a lot more.
So there I went, In the evening with the night boat. Well, it was not horror, but it was definitely not the best idea. Rain season is coming up and that means waves. A boat and waves is not a good combination. I just closed my eyes and tried to sleep. But a lot of people hang over board throwing up. And the space to sleep is really, really small. Just a line of mattrasses and a matras that we would consider for one person, they sell for two persons. Luckily, the boat was not fully booked. (no surprise here).

Just a flash comes to my mind now. The first days on the island, it was fully sunny. But the days after became more cloudy. Also, the last few days, there is more rain. Not a lot, but you feel rain season is arriving. Also, the number of tourists is declining. Most of them go up north, or to the west side of Thailand, Pattaya, or the islands such as Ko Phi Phi. The good thing is that is is becoming more and more quiet and I had some dives with just my instructor. The other side is also very interesting. Most divemasters rely for their income on customers and are full time employed. They have to wait in front of the dive shop to attract customers. But there are not many. So most of them get pretty bored. Their passion is diving and without customers, no income and no diving. I did have some good conversations with them. They come from all places, mostly Europe, USA and Australia. A lot of westerner people once arrive on the island and never return.
But not having customers, waiting for income is the other side of Paradise Island.
Leo is a freelancer. He has his own house in London, near Cambridge university. He rents it to people. So he has a minimum income that at least keeps him going if there is no work.
Here, something else strikes me. When I checked out of Grand Coral Divers, where I did my open water, they wanted to charge me 800 baht. So I left. But, the park was maybe filled for 40%. There were lots of empy appartments. And, I did consider an advanced open water. Me, as a marketer, I cannot understand. They actually kicked me out and gave a new customer to Prick Tai and Leo (working for Seashell divers). That's a very short term thought. Leo, and other divemasters later explained me this is a very Thai thought. Better money today, instead of a steady stream of income for the future.
Well, I spent 8500 bath on the advanced open water and 5 nights times 300 = 1500 baht at Prick Tai. Not including dinners, breakfast and lunches. Most of this, I might have spend at Grand Coral Divers, if they didn't kick me out by asking 800 baht. Even the divemasters working for them, cannot understand.

So, Surratani. Yes, back to the original story. After getting off the boat, everyone was sent to a small office, where quickly after, a bus brought us to a big busstation. From there, a comfortable ride to Koh Sok. When getting out of the bus, I shared my taxi with a French couple and we checked in to Bamboo house. The nature here is beautifull! It is a beautifull rainforest. And yes, it is rain season and a rainforest, so it is raining :). They went for an elephant ride. I just had a sleep and didn't feel like having an elephant ride. After a camel ride, donkey (a few years ago) and horseriding, I don't really feel the urge to ride every animal possible. I do like to find place to learn horseriding. But a camelride where they just hold the ropes and you slowly walk...no. And I have the same feeling for an elephant ride. But, maybe some day I will do it. Just not now.
After the sleep, I booked a tour somewhere near to the National park. Not at Bamboo house, because they charged 1500 bath, excluding the 200 baht entrance fee for the park. That makes 1700. I booked it for 1300 + 200 entry fee. And got a breakfast included.
IN the evening I had a rest. I was still very sleepy from the boatride with very little sleep.

Posted by Aussierala 21:54 Archived in Thailand Tagged rainforest diving island paradise tropical underwater koh tao Comments (0)

Hello Asia

From Bangkok to Paradise Island

overcast 33 °C

25th of september
Arriving in Bangkok. Pretty easy to find your way here. I got some money from the ATM, and found out that with every time you use it, you pay 150 Baht commission (4 euro), crazy!
I arrived with the bus to Khao San Road. The famous backpacker street. There i walked a bit away to a more quiet place. A single room was 11 euro. So a no. I walked on and found a place with a single room for 200 baht ( 5 euro). Ok. For the Khoa San road area, this is a good price. The hostel is clean and the people are very helpfull.
Time to sleep. Sleep a lot.
After, i walked in the area. I have to say though, that Khoa San Road, for me, was not too special. People talk about it as if it is the backpacker mekka. Restaurants, hotels, tattoo shops, and yes, old white men with too young Thai girls. Yes, i have seen it, but not too much. Maybe i was at the wrong time (late afternoon), but untill now, Khao San is not too strange. Or maybe, i have been in too many places and adjusted my expectations. Like: Some people called Jordan dirty. For me, after Egypt, it was clean.
Anyhow, i took a TukTuk and explored the area. For 20 bath (0,50 euro) i was on the road, and sightseeing for 2 hours.
I saw two temples and a big standing Buddha. And I went to a tour operator. Yes, I am going to dive. I am going to do my PADI :).
The 26th I will be heading to Ko Tao (actually everything since the Dubai arrival, I am writing now, sitting in the overnight train to Ko Tao).
In the evening I had a meal in Khoa San Road and talked to an Irish couple that was on honeymoon. They talked full of passion about Ko Tao. And also, how else, about Nepal.

I had a late night talk with my girlriend on Skype and it was very good to see her again. After, I went to my room, wrote a part of my journal and listened to music. Around 1.00 am I went to sleep.

26th of september:
today I woke up very late. At 11.00. Checkout is at 11.30. I took a shower and packed my back. At 11.30 I checked out. I went for breakfast. Very good; pancake with honey and a banana, for 70 bath ( 1,90 euro- bit much for Thailand). After, I went to buy some stuff for the trip to Ko Tao.
It turns out sunscreen is super expensive here. 7 euro for 120 ml. And the choice is very limited. And this, you don't want to buy on a market. I might be fake. I asked the people of the hostel and they gave me a new flacon of Sunscreen they got from a tourist. Incredible!
After, I worked for a while on my websites and I went to the Train stop. Very much in time, so I could read my book :).
At 18.00 something very strange happened. They played the national anthem out loud in the train station. Everyone would stand up straight and either give respect or sing the national anthem.

After, I went to the train and it was leaving only 13 minutes late. Wow. Until now I have to say, I like Thailand. And I am certain that after diving in Ko Tao, I might be delighted. We will see.
By now, we are underway for 2,5 hours with the train. I am having a sleeper train. And I wrote all from Dubai to now in those 2,5 hours :). It's not too late yet, but they just put down the benches, so now I can sleep. But it is very tight to read, unfortunately. Nevertheless, I prefer to sleep, instead of be awake in the train. Expected Time of Arrival (ETA), 3.30 am.
Just a while ago, it was raining like crazy. Finally, after not having rain since I left the 16th of august, now rain started. And how, monsoon! Thunder, rain, a lot of wind. But I was in the train, so all was fine. Yes, it is the last month of monsoon. And that for me was a good reason to first explore the Arab countries. Which I really enjoyed :)
Now, new continent, new country, new adventures and diving for the first time ever!

Posted by Aussierala 21:43 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand bangkok asia Comments (0)

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