Arriving in Bangkok

I just arrived at the Bangkok International Youth hostel. Wow – this is going to be my first report to all of you – so what can I tell you?

I spent my last evening in Austria in Vienna, together with my Cousin. We went to a “Biergarten” named Fischer Braeu. For me the last chance to eat a original “Wiener Schnitzel” and a cold beer (or two…)
My last night in Austria was quit strange, four different dreams and every time I missed that dam plane! Thank god those dreams didn’t come true, I went to the airport early, got my tickets and had my first take-off to Zurich. I left Zurich at 3:00 p.m. and went straight to Bangkok.

The flight was quiet comfortable, I was sitting next to two young Swiss girls so time passed by pretty fast. A very funny short-story: Whenever I asked the stewardess for a “Coke” she smiled at me, and handed me an “Orange Juice”. But beside that little misunderstanding, it was a very enjoyable flight.

Arriving in Bangkok, after 11 hours on the plane went along with an unfortunate surprise. My luggage didn’t make it to Bangkok, it decided to stay in Zurich. Fortunately it will arrive later today. I’m a very optimistic person and I look at this in a very positive way: I didn’t have to carry “the BIG bag” trough the whole city. He He. Well, on my way to the hostel I already met a local – Rudi – I’m going to meet him again in the afternoon to talk about Austria (right – I’m a very trusting person).

5th of July, My first day in Bangkok
I spent my first afternoon waiting at the hostel for my luggage, talking to other travellers. At 3:00 pm I met Rudi again who invited me to his home. We talked about this and that, but mostly about Austria and his work. He is a “croupier” at a cruise ship, and married to an Malaysian woman. I was also invited to eat at their house, but after more then 28 hours without sleep my stomach just said NO.  I spent about three hours at Rudji’s house before I went back to the hostel.

I was still without my luggage, so I had to wait until 9:00 pm. Not being tired at all at this time, I decided to join a few other backpackers (two guys and three girls) to go to Patpong, which is one of the most famous “sex-districts” of Bangkok. We went there by Tuk Tuk (70 Bhat) which took us about half an hour. For me, Thailand and Bangkok was always known as a place for sex-tourists, walking around at Patpong, I found out that it’s not soo bad at all. You get invited to see sex shows quite frequently, but if you say “No thanks”, they leave you alone.

After about 1,5 hour we decided to go back to the hostel by taxi (120 Bhat). So, after about 36 hours without sleep, I went to bed for the very first time in Bangkok.

6th of July, Train Station Bangkok
A very relaxing day, we first went to the train station to get a train-ticket for Surat Thani, and then we took the Bus Nr. 29 to go – well where ever it would take us… It took as through the whole city. To explore Bangkok by bus is really recommendable, it’s only 3.5 Baht a ride, and you can see the whole city.

7th of July
We went to the “Grand Palace”, a very impressive place, but since I’m coming back to Bangkok later this month, I did not spend much time there.

Ko Samui

The past three day where really enjoyable. Much better then the hot, busy and crowded Bangkok. On the 7th of July I took the night-train to Surat Thani. To use the train is not that bad at all, they have air-condition and you even get shower on the train (second class). After the arrival in Surat Thani, I took the ferry to Ko Samui.

I spent the last two nights in Ko Samui. The Island of Ko Samui is a place I don’t recommend at all. They have all the stuff you get all around the world, Mc Donalds, Starbucks, they are already opening up a Burger King (!!) And – it’s very expensive compared to Bangkok. Although, the beaches are really nice and I got sunburned while I was walking from one end of the beach to the other… (Ouch).

10th of July, Ferry to Ko Pha Ngan
Today I took another ferry to Koh Pha Ngan, which is less touristiy then Ko Samui. I got an bungalow next to the beach (just a few steps) which I share with an German girl I met in Bangkok (Sandra).

I had an very funny afternoon. I met a twenty year old monk next to our bungalow. We “talked” for about three hours, (it took me 15 minutes to find out that he asked me for a coke) and he showed me different ways of Thai Fighting” .

After Sunset Sandra and I decided to get something to eat and we walked along the beach to the next town, which took us about 30 minutes. We just had dinner and are now about to walk back to our bungalow. I will spend the next three days in Koh Pha Ngan, do some hiking trips and may rent a motorcycle before I go to Trang, which is a city in the very south of Thailand.

Ko Pha Nang, Haad Rin

We rented a motorcycle (150 Baht) to cruise around the island and find out what the other beaches have to offer. Sandra, the German girl, turned out to be a very good driver, so I didn’t have to worry and could enjoy the beauty of the island. We stayed near Thong Sala at a small bungalow village and from there we took the road along the coast all up the northern part of Ko Phangan. Most of the roads are in good condition, but unfortunately the island is very hilly. Sometimes I had to jump of the bike so Sandra could make it up those hills. The Thai People always laugh at us. I think its unusual for the guy to sit on tha back and let the  girl do the driving.

I have to admit that the northern beaches are much more beautiful then southern beaches. Far less tourists and sandy beaches. In the South you get a lot of mud an corals (I got scratches all over my feet). Around 4:00 p.m. we arrived at Haad Rin, the mass-tourist part of Ko Phangan. The whole town is one big “party” and is well know for the “Full Moon Party, which was just three days before we arrived on the island. After dinner we went straight back to our bungalows on the other site of the island.

12th of July, Ko Pha Ngan, Hiking to Long Beach
Since the weather was very fine, Sandra and I decided to do a “beach walk” up to the “Long Beach” (very nice place!) which we had discovered just the day before. It was a 10 kilometre walk, most of the beaches on the way were in a horrible condition, lot’s of rocks and dirt. Just the last two kilometres before Long Beach turned out to be a little bit more friendly. Not knowing about the distance back to our bungalow on the road (15 kilometres..) we decided to do some “hitchhiking. Three or four kilometres, roasting in the sun and tired of walking up and down the hills, we decided to use a taxi instead. Hitchhiking seems to be not very common on the islands..

Ko Pha Ngan and bus to Trang

13th of July
Another day on the motorbike. We went up to the north again. We drove until the we couldn’t go any further. Sandra wanted to relax on the beach and I decided to climb up some rocks. It took me an hour or so to get to the top of the rocks, but the scenery was wonderful. I felt like a little Robinson.. I could see the next beach, which wasn’t reachable by motorbike, and it looked like on one of those Postcard-Beaches or Movie scenarios. Awesome!! Around 6:00 pm we decided to go to Hat Rin once more, to see what the ” Half Moon Party” was like. It wasn’t a big party at all, just a small group of people, hopping around on the beach…

14th of July
My last day in Ko Pha Nang. Also my last day with Sandra and Zlatko, the two other travellers who I stayed with the past 9 days ( I may meet Sandra again later this month) . Sandra wanted to stay on the island and Zlatko is flying over to Europe as I’m sitting in this Internet-cafe right now. Since I had to wait the whole day to get on the night ferry to Surat Thani, I just walked around in Thong Sala and had a few drinks.

The night ferry left Thong Sala at 10:00 pm. I might come back on the 4th of August, to see what the “Original Full Moon Party” is like.

15th of July, Bus to Trang
The night ferry from Thong Sala arrived at Surat Thani at 5:00 am. A mini van picked me up at the pier and took me to another place, where tourists where already waiting for their busses. Three mine-van’s and two different bus-stations later, I arrived at the same place again, and the guy at the bus-office told me that I can go to Trang… WOW! And this day was just about to start!

It took about two hours, to get a town where the driver dropped me of and told me that I need to get a motorcycle-taxi and go to another bus station. OK! I was to tired to fight and tell them that I paid for a trip to TRANG. Fortunately I got on a bus to Trang. But after my arrival in Trang, I had to found out that no one ever heard about a Youth Hostel in or around Trang.

A friendly police men took me to a mini-van station, and then I was on my way to Had Yao, the place I thought I would find a nice Youth Hostel. At least I thought so.

The mini-van driver took me to a small “resort” next to the beach. I met other travellers from Denmark, who where also “stranded” in the middle of nowhere. Shortly after my arrival, a horrible storm came up (monsoon, as the owner of the so called resort told me a hundred times). The storm lasted for about three hours. After a short walk around in the rain I was also able to find the youth hostel, just about a ten minute walk away from the “resort”.

I and the travellers from Denmark decided not to stay at the “resort” and luckily found a minivan which brought us back to Trang. Since the weather down here is in a horrible condition, I’m going to leave this place tomorrow, to go to Malaysia, or to Ko Phi Phi. …

Trang to Krabi and Ao Nang

Trang turned out to be a very nice city, no tourists and very clean. But unfortunately the monsoon is very bad during July and August, so I decided to go north to Krabi.

The bus-ride took about 2,5 hours, and I found a nice way to spend my time: I counted the honks. All together it took me 155 Honks and 50 Baht to go from Trang to Krabi. I arrived there around lunch time. I wanted to go straight to Ko Phi Phi, so I got my ticket for the ferry and was supposed to be at the pier at 2:30 p.m. Unfortunately their was no ferry to Ko Phi Phi at 2:30… Still holding a valued ticket, I decided to go to Ao Nang, stay there for one night and then take the ferry. There is not much to say about Ao Nang, it took me about 20 Minute by a pick-up to get there and it looks very similar to Ko Samui (although – it’s not an island).

Ko Phi Phi, The beach

After a last walk on the beach of Ao Nang I went back to Krabi and took the ferry to Ko Phi Phi at 2:00 pm.
After my arrival on Ko Phi Phi I took a taxiboat to “Long Beach” . Not knowing what to do I decided to walk back to the main village. It took me about half an hour to get there (10 minutes if you take the boat.). It’s just a small path and you even have to do some “climbing” (sort of…). I stayed in the village for about 4 hours, had dinner and watched the movie “The Beach”. After that I had to walk back to Long Beach, which turned out to be a real adventure. I left my flashlight at the bungalow, and when I started to walk back it has already been dark. I was hardly able to find the road, and sometimes I just bumped into a tree or a stone. It took me nearly 1,5 hours to make my way back…>

18th of July
The 13th day of my trip, which I think was the best day so far (right 13 is my lucky number!!)

I decided to join a snorkelling group to Ko Phi Phi Le. Perhaps some of you know that parts of the movie “The Beach” were filmed at Maya Bay on Ko Phi Phi Le. (There are two islands: Ko Phi Phi Don, which is where all tourists stay, and Ko Phi Phi Le, which is a national park). Usually, all the tours start at 9:00 am, but I took the one which started at 12:00 am.
We where a small group of six persons and Andrew, our guide. Snorkelling around Ko Phi Phi Le is amazing: You see a lot of fishes and different corals. Usually Maya Bay is crowded with boats, but when we got there it was just us and “The Beach”. I was even able to see sharks for the first time in my life. A big female and a little baby. They are not dangerous at all (but they DO look dangerous).

Unfortunately Ko Phi Phi gets more and more crowded these days, and some of the tourists just don’t care about rubbish and pollution on the island. If you go to Ko Phi Phi you will understand what I’m talking about.

I think that’s really sad. But there are also people who care about the island. Like Andrew, our guide. He doesn’t use plastic bottles or plastic bags. I think that’s very important on an island, cause every plastic bottle, every plastic-bag, even every can has to be removed from an island. And that’s expensive and someone has to pay for it. The best thing is to AVOID rubbish. Use your own bottle and bring your own cotton-bag.

19th of July
My last day on Ko Phi Phi. I had to take the ferry at 1:30 pm back to Krabi, to get on a Bus to Bangkok. What’s next? I meet up with my travel-mate Martin in Bangkok and then we are going to Chang Mai!

Bangkok to Chiang Mai by train

20th of July
5.00 am, arrival in the capital of Thailand once again… I had to pick up my friend at the airport around 2:00 p.m., so I stayed at the hostel and talked to some of the thai volunteers. The youth-hostel started a “volunteer-program” for thai students . Students can come to the youth-hostel and talk to foreigners to improve their English, and the foreigners get in contact with the locals.

We had an discussion about the differences between the way young Thai’s act in the public as an couple and western teenager. For example: You would never see a young Thai couple, walking hand in hand in Bangkok on the mainstreet.

We also talked about tourism in Thailand. Tourists bring in the money, thats a main statement of every Thai I talked with. It’s hard to find someone who wants to talk about sextourism in Thailand, or how tourists destroy and change everything like on the southern islands.

21st of July
A short visit at Khao San Road in the morning…. To be honest: I hate this place. It’s a big tourist trap, skip it if you visit Bangkok. That’s what tourism “can do” in the worst way. I felt like being in an European or American town.

At night we decided to walk a bit “of the beaten track” We left the youthhostel and walked until we could not see any tourists. We then dropped into a Thai Karaoke Bar ( I always wondered how Thai spend their sparetime, now I know…) and this was realy funny!

A lot of Thai’s visit Karaoke Bars at night.
Everyone sings their, no matter if you are old, ugly, a bad singer or a good singer. We watched the whole scenery for about three hours and tried some Thai beer and Thai Whiskey. Thai music on TV or radio sound’s strange, but it still got an western touch, Thai music, performed live and by a local is just amazing. Most of the the songs sound sad, and the singer never smiles.
(We also went to another Thai karaoke bar, but I don’t remember to much about it, guess why..). Altogether it was the best time I had in Bangkok so far, no other tourist, pure Bangkok and typical Thai entertainment.

22nd of July
Buses in Bangkok are a cheap and a funny way to get around. But when I tried to make my way to the railway station, I had find out that they can be also very confusing. I took Bus Nr. 53, which goes straight to the main railway station. Unfortunately not if you are in a hurry and want to go there as quick as possible. I had to find out that the routes can change, with in one day, so I had to get of the bus and walk to the railwaystation. fortunately I was able to catch my train to Chaing Mai just in time.

23rd of July, Chiang Mai
Our first day in northern Thailand after a 700 kilometre trip by train. Chiang Mai is like Bangkok, just a bit smaller, and a bit cheaper. The city itself is crowded with tourists, I even saw a “German Hofbraeuhaus” … Embarrassing to see young thai woman, dressed in Bavarian clothes. Why do Germans fly thousands and thousands of kilometres, just to sit in a look a like German restaurant and eat German food?!

Chiang Mai, Jungletrek to the Red Karren Village

24th of July, Jungeltrek to the Red Karren Village
We left Chiang Mai early in the morning. Up north to start our three day jungle treck.
Sebastian and Clara, a couple from Austria, Martin my travel companion, Veronica, a journalist from London, myself, Mr. Mong, our Trek guide and a cook. A small group of European’s looking for an adventure in the jungle. We started with lunch at Mr. Mong’s house and went on an elephant ride, which took about 1,5 hours.

We then hiked up to a little jungle camp, next to a river. It took us about three hours to get there. To swim in the river was an very welcome refreshment after the exhausting hike through the jungle. The dinner, a combination of chicken, stuff Mong and the cook collected in the jungle and rice was really excellent. We spent the first night in a small hut and slept on the wooden floor. It took some till I got used to it.

25th of July, Jungle, Karren village
We left the camp early to hike up a mountain, about 1500 Meters high. We ate our lunchpackage, noodles, on top of the mountain. The noodles where covered in a big leaf. A very good idea, because it doesn’t pollute the jungle. Three hours later, walking through the jungle we arrived at the Karren Village. The children in the village where already waiting for us. We had little presents (candy and cookies) for them. The kids then offered us necklace and some other stuff. I decided to not buy anything. It was a quiet difficult decision. On the one hand, these people are really poor, on the other hand, there is the risk that those people (especially kids) get depended of money from tourists. The kids were very interested in my binoculars and so I spend about an hour, explaining how to use it. I found out that I was the first one who ever showed them binoculars. After dinner, the cook asked us for help with a burning wound on his leg. He had an accident with his motorbike about two weeks ago. The wound was already badly infected. Sebastion is a med-student and knew what to do. He cleaned the wound and put some salve on it. Then he covered the wound with a sterile bandage. That’s when I realised that those people may know that tourists like coke and beer and that we have a lot of money, but they have no glimpse that you have to keep a wound clean and covered. We explained the cook how to handle the wound and told him that he has to change the bandage every day and use new, sterile bandage (to cook cotton bandage before usage) and put salve on the wound.

Tourists come to the Karren village for about four years. Every travel agency . The travel agency want to keep it that way, it’s still a very beautiful, quiet and peaceful place. Hill Tribes used to move around in the past, but the government doesn’t allow them to do that anymore. That’s also the reason why they can’t plant enough rice for the whole village. They have to buy it.

26th of July, Waterfall, Bamborafting
Our last day in the Jungle.. We left the Karren Village around 9:00 am, to visit an waterfall. The waterfall was really amazing, we spent their an hour, before we had to walk back to Mr. Mong’s hous, where we had lunch. Our last “jungle-experience” was bamboo rafting. Very funny, expect that I got bitten by a big bug.
>In the evening we went out with Mr. Nang, the guy who organised the tour. We had dinner at an local restaurant. I was surprised to find out that worms and crickets taste even better than chicken…

27th of July
Our last day in Chiang Mai. We had to catch the train at 4.20 pm and spent the day by visiting two of the 300 temples in Chiang Mai.

The jungle trip was a great experience, which I recommend to everyone who is going to visit Thailand. Choose one of the eco-tours, that’s what I did. Thai travel agencies (at least those I choose) keep their promises when they say ECO.

Ps: And if you find a some rubbish on your way through the jungle, take it with you :-)!

Chiang Mai to Ko Tao via Bangkok

28th of July Stopover in Bangkok
We arrived in Bangkok early in the morning. Our first stop was at the travel agency where we booked the trip to Ko Tao. We then went to the Siamsquare shopping centre. If you are in Bangkok and the weather is very hot, that’s one of the best places to go. Air-condition and hundreds of shops. The whole building can be quiet confusing, we couldn’t find a plan or a map in the whole building and most of the shop seemed to sell similar stuff. At 6:30 we went on the bus to Chumpon.

29th of July, Boat to Ko Tao
We arrived at Chumpon at 3:00 o Clock in the morning. The bus ride was very uncomfortable, sometimes the air condition turned off and the bus heated up within minutes. The boat from Chumpon to Ko Tao left at 6:30, so we had to wait another three hours. Another four hours later and we arrived at “Turtle Island” (the other name of Ko Tao). We stayed at Ao Thian in the South of Ko Tao. The Bungalows where quiet interesting, ours got a huge rock in the bathroom and all of them where built on rocks. At least they didn’t cut off another coconut wood to built those huts.

30th of July, Ko Tao
We decided to walk to Ban Mae Hat, the “main town” on Ko Tao. All the guidebooks I read about Ko Tao wrote that it’s less touristiy then Ko Pha Nang and more beautiful. Unfortunately those books are not longer “up to date”. Ban Mae Hat is not longer a “one street town” it start’s to look like a little Thong Sala. You find diving-shops, bars and restaurants all over the island. After dinner we decided to walk north along the beach of Ban Mae Hat.