No changes, time is still flying here in Asia. Christmas trees and music hits us in Malaysia right now and we hope everybody back home is having a good time with family and friends. We still owe you some pictures and stories from Thailand. Here we go. Remember when we wrote that you just get a 15 days allowance for Thailand if you come over land? So we had to hurry up a bit, first time actually since we are on the road that we had to have a date in mind :-)
We arrived in Chiang Rai first of December and we wanted to stay at a place called “Aka Hill Guest House“. We found it on the web somewhere and liked the view and pictures. They have a free pickup from the Aka River House” in the city. It takes around 45-60 minutes jeep drive to get up the hill. We arrived late, got a nice room and arranged a jungle trekking for the day after before we went to bed.
We woke up, totally blinded by sunlight. It was 6am and the rising sun was just shining into our room through a really big window. We did not realize that when we checked in. Wonderful!
The jungle trekking was great. We started with a mixed group of two Americans, one Swiss girl and a Russian copy of Ingo’s sister ;-)
The plan was to hike around the hill area, learn something from the jungle and use everything it offers for cooking and having pure fun. Well, our guide Amae said right at the beginning: “The jungle is my personal “seven eleven”, it gives me everything I need”.
This being said, he cuts a huge bamboo into 6 cups and chopsticks for all of us within a short time. Who ever wanted could try to make its own but if you saw his version compared to what we created it was better to take his cup in order to hold some food ;-)
As we were hiking through the jungle Amae showed us various plants, trees and what they are used for. We stopped for lunch and we started collecting fire wood and water to cook. Besides the eggs, noodles and tomatoes we just used things around the place for cooking, and this includes the dishes :-)
After a jungle tea we headed further through real thick forrest. Somehow not so funny because there might be some animals crossing our way. All in all, this trip was very cool, interesting but exhausting at the same time. If you are around Chiang Rai be sure you check in at the “Aka Hill Guest House”. As a private project, Amae and his friend are putting together a Aka Museum which we had the chance to look at during our stay. Very good work.
Next stop, short and comfortable bus ride behind us, was Chiang Mai. It’s a very modern and big city. First evening we went out for a super good Italian dinner. Salad with vinegar and oil, long time no see! Afterwards we had to visit the German Hofbräuhaus down the street to get a Weißbier, again long time no see. The waitresses are dressed in Dirndl and we had a blast talking to one of the girls there.
As we were in this city during the kings birthday a lot of Thai tourists visited the city for celebrations too. The night market was extremely crowded and now end then a voice came out of loud speakers and everybody all of a sudden stopped doing what ever they just did and stand still. Sometimes they sang a song too. It was a weird situation. After a few minutes everybody continued again. We could not understand what it was but it must have been something like “Happy birthday dear King” :-) we liked it a lot.
Actually we planed to see the “giraffe women” during our stay in GM. But after some research we came to the point, that it’s not good to support this kind of tourism. They charge you entrance fees in these villages and take money for pictures too. And due to this, the people get much more money from just sitting around an posing for photos rather then working on their farms. They get very lacy. In fact they might even have given up this unhealthy tradition already if not tourists would go there to take pictures and pay good money for it.
Big highlight for Carmen was the Thai cooking class. That was a sure thing before we even started the trip. Was really fun. We have been recommended by jungle trekking fellows to super funny “Max” from the “Thai Farm Cooking School“. This guy was just amazing. His jokes were really funny nut probably he was the one who laughed the most. We learned a bunch and hope we can reproduce some meals back home.
The trip to Bangkok was the most relaxing one so far. Classic overnight with lotsa sleep. Think the time to talk about bus rides is over. No totally but no rough roads anymore. Found a nice place to stay close to Khao San Road, which is the backpacker street in town. Really crazy place!
Well, we have been shopping a bit. The malls are just unbelievable huge. Full of fake stuff where ever you go. Sure we did a bit of sight seeing but not too much. Got ripped off and all in all had a fun time in Bangkok.
The weather was not too promising for our upcoming island plans though. We change the plan from minute to minute and we ended being in Ko Lanta after a bus trip where Thai people clearly showed that the tourism will someday tell them a lesson. We have never been treaded so unfair and arrogant as during this trip from BKK to Krabi. From a way to high priced ticket (which happens if you are not informed) to arrogant and impolite treatment we had it all. Just for the record: Bangkok – Krabi, not more than 300 Bath for a very good bus. There is no direct connection, all busses will stop and change in Surat Thani. Be sure that they take you to the port in Krabi not to another agency in the middle of nowhere. Difficult to do something in advanced though.
Always best and we would like to mention this here as a travelers tip: Get the name from the person, name and number from the agency you buy the ticket from. Yes it’s on the receipt/ticket but they will take it and change it at least twice through a piece of paper with maybe nothing more than a seat number. You never know if you might need it to complain or at least inform others to prevent from booking through the same agency. Ask your fellow travelers as early as possible, where they are going and how much they have paid for their ticket. Even before you book.
Koh Lanta was our choice to spend a few days at the beach in Thailand. Very nice, and not too extremely crowded island. The accommodation with very good price value made us feel very happy and comfortable. Nearby our Resort a former Munich resident, Martin, opened an Italian restaurant called “La Monaco”. We stopped there during a beach walk because Ingo’s eyes could not pass the “Franziskaner” sign. Martin was a super nice guy and we had a ball talking to him. The food was delicious too. Another German businesswomen, Ina, got our attention with her German Bakery. Dark bread and guess what? Cream cheese aka quark ;-) Ina reminded us of Carmens Mom, so we enjoyed talking to her and even more the very tasty breakfast as well as her amazing tzatziki in pitta bread. Mhm! Generally we spent these not too sunny days with driving around the island and also enjoying the beach a lot.
So you see, lots a “rest&relax” before we headed further to Lankawi/Malaysia where we celebrated the 30th birthday of Carmen. More to come soon.
Love from Kuala Lumpur
Carmen and Ingo
we woke up with the sunrise in our room :-)
amae cutting bamboo for our cups and chopsticks
“nice try” on the left and the ultimate perfection on the right ;-)
we were hiking through a few houses in the jungle……and saw theis little boy crawling out of the hut to carve something. really impressive in wich age the people start to be part of the jungle (looks like shortly after the breast feeding ;-))
bamboo cooking, there is omlette, noodels, rice and jungle tea in it
the instant noodles from the noodle tree ;-)
through the jungle…
the panoramic view
a small village on the top of the hill and a women collected some herbs
passion fruit fresh from the tree…we loved it!
we found a big dead butterfly or cricket (we don´t know it exactly ;–)
a old women from the village on the top of the hill, sitting next to drying coffee. the people there have a chinese extraction
on the way back we met this strong women. she carried a basket on her head wich was around 30 kg…we were definetly impressed!
ingo helped her a bit and tried to carry the basket the same way – no way, it hurt! than he put it on the back and it was still heavy. at least the old lady was happy to have a short break of her heavy belongings…even it was just a few minutes.
campfire in the eve
chiang mai sunday market
lotsa good food :-) the diet plans failed!
at the german hofbräuhaus
traditions and modernity are merging….a aka women sells tourist staff in the streets in chiang mai. the people dress up traditonal to be a tourist atraction and get more money
yammy ;-) would you try?
Max – the best cooking teacher
made our own curry paste …just loved it!
ingo – the chef on flames
we found a little, just a bit poison, scorpion in our kitchen
bangkok at night
the view from the baiyoke sky tower – the highest building in the city
christmas dekoration and songs were just everywhere…somehow crazy to hear jingle bells while you sweating you a… off ;-)
rooftop pool in bangkok
the wat pho
girls getting ready for a traditional performance in wat pho
people putting the golden leaves on the buddha for “good luck”
ingo got a really nice trouser because his own was to short ;-)
in a bar at khao san road – what a crazy street. you can make a illutstrated book just from the weird guys there
in koh lanta – relaxing time :-)
carmen felt a bit queasy because of the tsunami history. we talked a lot about and it was somehow always present…not just on the signs everywhere