As you know by now, since my yearlong trip across Southeast Asia I am a huge fan and advocate of traveling and exploring by motorbike. I probably rode a bike at least once in every country I visited and every single time it made for an unique and unforgettable experience. It is about the feeling of total freedom, of really immersing yourself in the scenery around you, about the sun warming your face, a cool breeze blowing through your hair and all the kind people you meet along the way. The freedom of traveling by motorbike is just unmatched. You can do whatever you want whenever you want and you are not confined to anyone’s schedule but your own. You can just take that interesting side road you just passed, you can have a snack at that unique road stop which you’d otherwise whip right past or stop to say hello to that group of smiling children who have been happily waving at you. Continue reading
The temples of Angkor were supposed to be the last real highlight of my journey which by that point already lasted more than 10 months. As my funds were running low, I realized that the time to think about my return had finally come. So far, I had been able to successfully suppress these thoughts about the inevitable but they were persistent and kept creeping back without mercy. No more running away, I had to face it – within a couple of weeks I would probably touch European ground again. After having been on the road for that long, having enjoyed the sweet taste of freedom and having experienced adventures of all kinds, it almost felt unreal to finally plan my return. One thing was for sure, the upcoming days would bring a lot of a lot of “last times” …. Continue reading
I didn’t intend to stay that long but it’s been almost a month in Thailand. That alone is already a pretty strong statement and I can say Thailand has been really good to me again. This time I decided to skip the South and the islands and focus on Central, and even more on Northern Thailand. That part of the country has so much to offer and is so diverse that it would have been easy to fill a 2 months itinerary.
First of all, I was surprised by how cheap Thailand still is. Having travelled the country in 2008, I expected the prices to be much higher. But food, accommodation and transport were so cheap, that it made the start of my journey an easy one. I am afraid that it will be tough to run on the same budget in all of the other countries I will visit.
Being a bit busy, on the road for 7 days doing the Mae Hong Song Loop by motorbike and having to deal with a crashed laptop, I wasn’t able to post the last pictures of the week timely. So a little late, I present the picture of the weeks 2 and 3.
This was shot during my first stay in Chiang Mai before starting the Mae Hong Song Loop. I walked around a local temple and all of a sudden got approached by a group of elementary school kids. They had the assignment to interview farang (foreigners) in order to practice their English. They were so funny and especially the little one in the middle was quiet witty. I had a good time with them and complimented them on their very good English. In the end I asked for a picture and this is how it turned out.
The next one was shot during my motorbike tour. At Cave Lodge I went to visit a local Karen village with Marie, a french photographer from Paris. She wanted to get a few portraits of the villagers for a possible future exhibition. Since my portrait skills are rather limited, I spontaneously decided to come with her. We had a great time in the village. everyone was very kind and welcoming. We came across a local village shop, where this lady was sitting. She was very beautiful and wore a colorful traditional dress. She really liked having pictures taken and even wanted one together with Marie. We told her in Thai that she looks very beautiful which made her smile.
Still at home in Germany I came across the so called Mae Hong Song Loop – a round trip which is supposed to be the most scenic of Thailand. With its 670 kilometres, more than 1865 curves and a route exploring the more remote parts of Thailand’s North, it seemed like the perfect adventure. I have to say, that I am not the most experienced rider since I never ride scooters or motorcycles at home. Only during vacations. Hence it also should be a nice test of my driving abilities.
After Remy and I went different ways in Ayutthaya, I headed up North to Chiang Mai. I took the night bus which took about 9 hours and arrived at Chiang Mai at 7 in the morning. Difficult to find a place at that time of the day. I eventually found a place which was a little more expensive than my average accoodation budget. It was quiet though, which wasn’t too bad at that point. I again felt sick and just wanted to rest for a while and take it easy. After a day of doing just that, I still didn’t feel much better so I decided to see a doctor at the hospital. Apparently I am having a resistant virus which takes its time. The doc recommended getting a few days of rest which I find hard to do while traveling. Continue reading
Coming from Kanchanaburi I teamed up with Remy from France to go to Ayutthaya by bus. Remy and I had met in Bangkok at the Tan Ling Chan floating market and bumped into each other on another market in Kanchanaburi. The world is small…. On the bus we met Sameli from Finland whom I had also met two days before. Together we made our way to Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand, and checked in at one of the central guesthouses. Ayyuthaya is very hot, much hotter than Kanchanaburi, so we decided to spend the afternoon relaxing in a café. There we met Julia from Berlin which completed our little tour group for the next two days.
We rented bicycles and went to explore the many temple ruins in and around Ayutthaya. As mentioned in my post of the Pic of the week, Ayyuthaya was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Siam, now Thailand. It lasted 400 years before it got sacked and eventually looted and destroyed by the Burmese. The remainders of this prosperous and wealthy trading hub is now a Unesco World Heritage Site.
After another eventful day in Bangkok, I boarded the train to Kanchanaburi. The city with striking contrasts – beautyful nature and a not so old but very dark and moving part of history.
Most people recommended me not to take the train since it was supposed to be slow, loud and uncomfortable. For me, that sounded just right. As I wrote before, the plan was to travel as the locals do and to do it slowly and thoroughly. Once we took off at Thonburi Train Station, the train click clacked and rattled through the city’s outskirts and then through lush and green fields, palm forests and by small villages and train stations. With the wind blowing in my face through the wide open windows, I enjoyed every bit of the ride. Despite that it was what we Germans call “Holzklasse” (wood class). Continue reading
Bangkok, it’s always been sort of a Love / Hate relationship. And this time it hasn’t been any different. I made it safely to Suvarnabhumi Airport and decided to this time take the train and a connecting bus into the district of Banglamphu. No overpriced taxi this time. At the train station one of these great traveler moments happened. I met Jeroen from Holland (why I always meet friendly Dutch people when abroad is yet another story), who also wanted to go into town but hadn’t booked his guesthouse yet. We talked a lot and got off at the bus terminal. Jeroen decided to come along so we shared a tuk tuk and made it to the always friendly New Siam. So good to start with someone on your side – makes the adaption a lot easier.