Monday, November 10, 2014

My debt to tell you more about Myanmar

I am sorry, life came in the way of writing more here on my blog. Especially very poor internet connection in Myanmar, too much to see there and too many nice people to talk to! So yes, it was fun. I loved it. The atmosphere in this country is peaceful.  And I loved it - again. Greed didn't come in the way between visitors and locals yet. The people are lovely honest creatures with amazing smiles on their faces, ready to greet you and even help.
Travel in Myanmar is slow so even 18 days is very little time. To do this country proper justice, I would like to take the full 28 days of visa allowance, hopefully next time. Buses and trains are slow and not in very convenient times. Night buses usually take a little less time then they say (1-4 hours difference) and they leave early so you will mostly arrive too early - 3 or 4 am. And that is not very nice as bus terminals are mostly out of town and you need to get out and ready in the middle of the sleep cycle. And the whole day will and up tiring. OK, that is how it is, if you have more money, you can always fly. I did't and I kept a low budget, which is a challenge there, but it is doable. If you need more details about budgeting, let me know.

Bagan - on the top of a pagoda


I started in Dawei, then took a very advantageous bus to Mawlamyine, explored the world largest reclining Buddha and the river side and moved on to Kyaikto to see the Golden rock - boulder balancing on a rock which became very golden and a pilgrims sacred place. I have enjoyed this experience very much. After that I took an afternoon bus to Bago and cycled around the most important pagodas and temples for a day and took a night bus to Inle lake. There I stayed in lovely new place called Graceful Inn. I can recommend it. Inle is a beautiful place, nature is everywhere and is very pure. The boat trip is a must and there is surely much more to do.
Mandalay was charming! I met two fellow-countrymen and a monk. Both encounters were very refreshing and interesting. Thank you! Again, the touristy places are not very touristy and are worth a visit. Bicycles are a good choice to go around here. Cruise ship trip to Bagan was worth the money, I mean it was very expensive, but the cheep boat goes only twice a week and who can make the timing right? This was very refreshing, as it meant clean and hassle free traveling. Unfortunately, most of the passengers were upper class tourists and that caused me a bit of a shock as I did't meet those people for a while. Anyway... Bagan is unmissable, I made just too many pictures there, I couldn't help it.
 My last night bus took me to the former capital - Yangon, where I found a nice place to stay after some searching - Beautyland hotel ll. Very nice staff and good spot in the down town area. Yangon on Sunday feels like a village. Sacred places are nice and busy. Bicycles and motorbikes are band here, so unless you bring your own bicycle, you cannot cycle around. Walking is OK as distances are not great and taxis are everywhere.

Let me just say that this is for sure my favorite country and I will come back soon (hopefully).

Here are my pictures, they might say a bit more then my post this time...



At the moment, I am in Mumbai, enjoying Indian air. It is different, you know. So far so good. I will come back here at the end of the month or maybe even year, we will see. Write a comment, leave a note :). take care!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Myanmar

Burma
Yes, I am here :-) !
I took the advice from www.southernmyanmar.com and crossed the border at the closest point from Bangkok, the Phu the Ron cross 2 hours away from Kanchanaburi. I am still on the way and I am already happy with the decision. I have not met any oteher toursts the whole way from Bangkok, only few Thai people at the border who were kind enough to give me lift to the other border. This cross is in the jungle, it's basic and scenic. It is my first time when I've seen working elephants, working in the forest, not for tourists. It's only 3 of us in a minivan and the road is OK. Dawei is the place where I will spend few days.
I have crossed few borders lately and it always amazes me how big differences can be spotted just behind the line! Each country has different kind of cows, different huts, a bit different vegetation and so on, but some things are same even thousands kilometres away! Like long boats on the river or type of house.
Anyway, all went well, I am in bed after sweet hot shower, I have WiFi and drinking water and can just go to sleep. :-)

Day two
I think I am the only tourist in this town. Everybody smiles at me! And there is something gentle in the air here. ATM works and people speak basic English. Beach tomorrow!


The immigration office


Monday, October 13, 2014

Practicalities about on land travel Vietnam - Cambodia - Bangkok

Hello my readers!

As I have found it a little challenging to find information about reliable bus connections in this area, so I want to share what I have done.
This whole area is covered by company called Mekong express which was also recommended to me, but as I travel on tight budget, I was looking for cheeper options.
I have found a nice bus from Ho Chi Minh for half price! :-)
Company called Kumho Samco Buslines connects Ho Chi Minh and Phnom Penh and runs daily buses at 7am, 8am, 9:30am, 11am, 13pm, 15pm. Here is their card with all other details. In Phnom Penh, they can drop you off if your address is on the way to their office, otherwise you get off at the office. It is not far from center at all. If you feel like tuk-tuk, never pay more than 5$ (more likely just 3$) and for motorbike taxi just 1$ is a good price, unless you cross the whole town.



Later on I was looking for a direct connection from Phnom Penh to Bangkok and again, I found many complicated ways how to do do this journey, but nothing direct. But I asure you, it's easy and OK, if you don't mind 13 hours on a bus. I know it's a lot, but do you want to pay the high fee for leaving Cambodia by air?So Capitol is the answer: http://www.capitoltourscambodia.com/contact_us.php
Nice and reliable company, can book you a seat over a phone as well. Bus leaves once a day at 6:30 am from the company office. It costs 18 USD, so don't pay at agents, go strait to street 182 and buy the ticket there. We took the southern road (not through Siem Reap). The road is OK there and it took 8 hours to the border (as bus delivers things and drops people off). At the boarder, wait for another employee of the company to come aboard, he speaks English, gives you another ticket for the driver on Thai side and shows you the way to immigration. ;-) Yes, easy right?
Now once you are on Thai side, hold your new ticket visibly and people will point you out to he right minivan (in front of 7eleven) once all customers cross and sit, bus is ready to go. It takes another 4 hours to Bangkok (with one stop). Drop of is at Khaosan road or Victory monument (sky train). Or just speak to the driver at the break time, when our driver was visibly more relaxed and talkative.
Wish you a safe journey!!!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cambodia

It has been a while since I crossed the border from Vietnam to Cambodia. I did it by bus and all went smooth. I chose Phnom Penh as a place for getting my Indian visa as I googled it should be nice and easy here, but, there is always a but when getting visa. Apparently here they don't issue visa earlier then 2 weeks before your journey, so they told me to come back later. And also the procedure takes only few days, not two weeks like in EU. I was highly disappointed, packed and went to Siem Reap to do some volunteering teaching English in a small village. This was definitely a good decision and great experience. I never did this before and I have to say it's not so difficult. Kids are eager to learn and wild. The school is very basic and chickens often take over the classrooms during breaks. It's very organic and follows the pace of the village. I stayed for 10 days and visited some of the Angkor temples at weekend. (Did you know that Angkor is run by Vietnamese and all the profit goes to Vietnam?)
I had bad diarrhoea followed by a flu while there, it had spoiled the experience a bit. I was tired and at the end loosing my voice, so it was good that more volunteers arrived and we could split the day. How did I find it? On workaway.info. There are many schools and organisations listed, just choose the one for you. I was lucky to meet some great people there.
Cambodia is very poor and people live simply. I thing that it's the highest number of tuk-tuk and motorbike drivers per head here. And I have not seen expensive motorbikes elsewhere but here, which is a bit bizarre. Dukes are especially popular. It is definitely a land of smiles, grieve, eating, flat landscape, lots of water and pretty people. Phnom Penh as any capital is a place of many possibilities, dirt and traffic. It has large French community and some fine bars, restaurants and one Costa coffee shop. Everyone warns tourists to be very careful with handbags as lots of bag snatching apparently happens here. Otherwise it feels safe during daylight. Moto ride through town and day is just one dollar.. tuk-tuk ride should not be more then 5$. Me and my friend Mel went to a cinema last night to watch The killing fields and that was a nice experience. Good movie, it was only us there so we could talk and enjoy it well.
There is lots of beggars here as well and many of them are children, or children selling things at night on streets, sad picture, but not much we can do, apart from not buying and not giving them money and hope this businesses will disaapear. Cambodia is also a land of pretty ladies and lots of prostitution can be noted. High risk of HIV is present. And Lady boys!! Yes it's somehow normal social thing and very popular.



On the other hand, people in the countryside are still growing their own rice, cook on fire, sleep in stilt houses and rely on natural resources. Cambodians eat almost everthing, frogs, snakes, crickets, you name it. Homes are simple and traditional. Rubbish is a huge issue, there is no education about it, so it's either everywhere, or burnt.

I am currently waiting for my Indian visa to be issued, so stuck in Phnom Penh, but with very nice couch surfers. As this visa process takes so long, mainly due to holidays, I will have to change my plan, skip Laos and go to Thailand instead. I still hope that I can visit Myanmar for 2 weeks. Wish me luck!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Vietnam's second post

About Vietnam again. Yes, it diserves it.
This country is wide, and crazy. Many things are possible. Country of scooters and motorbikes, mountains, beaches, poverty, luxury, resorts. Small tribes and villages with unique languages and customs. Cowboys who want to make money on you. People who don't mind lying about obvious things. But many very honest people. Communisms breaths strongly in the north, I had many childhood flashbacks there. Buildings which are never finished, propaganda, don't care attitude, arrogance and ignorance is in huge contrast with people who has everything but almost nothing and are happy to share that all with you, smile and be happy to see you. This is a country where families burry their dead in the middle of their land to protect it from buyers. I don't want to forget the beautiful wood work I can see everywhere, new and old, I love it. Skills are visible, good craft. Eye infection. Dust. Cheap hotels which are just about clean. Crazy night buses. Breaking waves on beach in Hoi An. Ice cream three time more expensive then cigarettes. Cheap bear. Bad roads. Very wide menus but each meal served in different restaurant. Strong conservative outlooks on family and partnership. Pressure on girls to get merried and have kids. School is not for free. I don't know anymore, come and see for your self :-) . But I like the fading colours on walls and houses. It's cute.



Pictures from Hoa and Hoi An.


Ho Chi Minh city pictures

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hanoi and train to Sapa

I arrived to Hanoi in the morning. Immigration went smoothly and in fact, they took only one form with one picture instead of two. By the time I arrived to the centre by bus 17, it stopped raining and I packed up with two other girls who just came from Bangkok. We had lunch together and exchanged our plans and info and went to get some accommodation. I went to centre backpackers as I was happy to crash somewhere soon as i was pretty tired. It is a place for party people so not entirely for me. I went to find something cheaper and more like me place (without my back pack) and after seeing few, I picked one and moved there next morning - lucky guesthouse 2 at the edge of old town and close to railway. Hanoi is famous for mad traffic and I was very happy that I have found "how to cross a street in Hanoi" article online. :-) Also I found my way to the north bound train station and bought my self a DAY train to Sapa. Everyone goes by the expensive and luxurious night sleeping train offered by many agencies. But I just wanted to taste how the normal train travel in Vietnam is like and it was a good sample, I tell you :-) ! The train left at 6:10 am and arrived to Lao Cai 5 pm. I got soft seat in coach with aircon, it was a dirty train, nothing special. But surely better then the wooden benches in other coaches. The countryside I have seen from barred window was very green and very agricultural. Several people passed through the train selling different kind of food and drinks and many passengers changed too. For example the seat behind me was later taken by a guy in a green uniform who stuck his very smelly feet between my seat and the window so I moved away and dared to gesture my opinion on that to him. As a result he took off his green socks... it helped a bit. Well it was fun, but I admit it was tiering too. Arriving to Lao Cai with a delay just on time to catch the last bus to Sapa. This bus is official government bus and costs 28k+15k for a bag.



The famous annoying guys trying to get everyone into a minibus are hard to shake off and about 10 of them followed me until they saw me getting the official option. We got to Sapa just when the dark falls and again new people fighting for me to get to their hotel. It was sad as I was the only foreigner coming, so only one could win. At the end I gave up and went on with one of them, I was tired and needed a bed and rest. And he took me on is bike. He gave me a good price for single room with bathroom. Its a bit damp and smells a bit mouldy, but looks clean.



My breath was taken away by the green views and the beauty of this mountains, slowly I was realising that this was part of my dream and happiness flooded me. More greenery to come tomorrow, when I will stay in a village with a local family. Cannot wait!


Joining a couchserfing meeting in Hanoi was a good move. Those lovely people meet every Sunday, so if it suits you a tiny bit, I can only recommend it. I had great time, all spoke good English and gave me interesting insights as well as took me to a Cafe Acoustic for authentic night scene. Thank you so much!


Friday, August 15, 2014

Gungung Kinabalu and all we did inland on Borneo, Sabah!

Kampung Kiau - Guas Nabalu Home stay

So here comes my first home stay. It is in the middle of Bornean mountains just at the foot of great Mount Kinabalu. I have to say that the experience was great and it was more of an experience than a stay. The money are well worth it too. Strait away we notice that the climate is nice, fresh and free from the costal humidity, what a nice change!
Jehirin has picked us up on a junction where a minibus from KK has spited us out. He is number 11 of 14 children in this family (most of the kids are away for work or studies). The dad is still a guide taking tourists up the mountain around five times a month. The mother is a smiley big hearted woman who cook's for the guests and the family. Both also work on their fields and farms.
The village is Christian and lives a commune life. People here speak their own Dusun language and learn Malay at school + basic English. The land belongs to the village, (sharing it between families) and if you are local, you can build your house on patches dedicated for new buildings. Houses are humble even if they are new. On the farm, families grow rubber tree, pineapples, bananas, mountain rise, cocoa, and lots of jungle fruit trees and plants including wild ginger and tapioca. It is a very friendly place, relaxed and peaceful.
We had a great swim in a river which runs strait from the great mountain and is pristine clear and cold, but fun. That was our afternoon shower!
Young guys of this village build a special type of wind mils from light wood and bamboo to keep wild animals off their little farms as the mils create a whistling noise. That's what we learnt the first day. We also had plenty of food and it was mostly local and fresh. Dusun people are also very short and smiley. :)
Track to the jungle on second day:
We have tracked to a jungle strip trough number of farms and arrived to a small jungle house where we learnt how to make a cup from bamboo, how to make floor from bamboo, how to make fire from bamboo, some bamboo has water inside and bamboo sprout-shoot can be served for a diner. Also a frog or fish trap can be easily made from a bamboo and a jungle string. We got some wild cucumbers and young stems also for diner. Jimy cooked us simple lunch there and we had some rest before the mid day heat passed. Now, a banana tree can be cut and the very inside of the stem can be used for cooking as wedgie but the webs needs to be taken out from each cut ring. Also the juice is an antidote for snake bite needs to be drank and also can be applied on a cut or wound as a disinfection! What a useful plant!
Pineapple price goes as low as 3 cents per kg when there are other fruits like durian on the market and when and many other farmers grow it. So lots of nice ripe pineapple is left on the fields as it is just too much work for little income to harvest it and bring down. It can get cold there when it rains for few hours. Squirrel traps are also made from bamboo and rattan (see pictures). The track through farms and jungle are very nice. Due to the high altitude the humidity is gone and even a hot day is a very nice day. In this family, only 3 kids has stayed, the oldest is a lady who married in the village, Jimmy, our guide and Jeherin. Other family comes for weekends and holidays.
There is a big history and tradition in Kiau village for the people to become guides for Kinabalu mountain. Girls and boys usually learn from their parents by climbing along from young age. They are lovely natured. So as you see, we have learned a lot here and we loved it.



Kinabalu climb

So we learnt a bit more about guides and people around the mountains while climbing up. It is a difficult hike with lots of steps up. Well, but let's start from the beginning. Doing this track is kind of a controversial topic between travelers as the whole activity and accommodation is owned by Sutera Harbour company and what ever these people do gets very expensive so the cheapest deal for the climb with staying over night, food, guide and all the fees comes to 750 MR. We have met tourists - meaning holiday-makers on the way not long term traveling folk. And that just proves that the price is too high. Also the local people don't go up anymore for the same reason. So only guides and porters go up there. Porters carry all the supplies up to the lodge and as they often carry over 30 kilos, they concentrate on every step they take. They get paid 4 MR per kg and the oldest guy we met was 57. Many women do this job as well. They all walk in locally made rubber shoes with rubber buttons on the sole because they do not slip at all and are made from rubber these villages produce and also the shoes costs only 7 RM. They are fit people! Anyway we did it and it was more of a luck as every guidebook tells you to book couple of weeks upfront and our home-stay has organized it all for us at last minute and that was a piece of luck so we picked it up and went.
Mountain facts:  In 1997, a re-survey using satellite technology established its summit (known as Low's Peak) height at 4,095 meters (13,435 ft) above sea level, which is some 6 meters (20 ft) less than the previously thought and hitherto published figure of 4,101 meters (13,455 ft). More here.

The two days are organized interestingly. Fist day is 6 km to Laban Rata 3270 meters above sea level, rest and dinner and early bed as the next day you wake up at 2am and start walking in the dark after simple pre-breakfast. The sunrise is about 5:30 and we arrived there just on time. The last kilometer or so is very cold (and I mean ti, it was 0`C) and windy so it's nice to hide from the wind behind a rock and wait for the sun to come up chewing on some snack. Take pictures and run back down as toes and fingers freeze so fast! The scenery is magnificent and so surprising because you don't see where you actually are until the light returns and everything appears! I do not regret doing it. :) Altho, the descend continues after really nice breakfast and legs starts feeling it soon. It combines 3 km in the morning up, 3km down and another 6 km to the base so almost 12 km of steep hiking in one day. My knees didn't like me and my ankles started to complain just before the end. And I was not alone, all tourist where the same. The entry pass to the Kinabalu National Park is valid for another few days and includes free entry to another park called Poring hot springs where hot sulphur springs are managed into bathing pools. It was a very nice treat for our muscles but the hotel where we stayed had accommodation in second floor and that was painful. Ouch! I still look at stairs with respect...



Orangutans and Proboscis monkeys

The next day, we took a taxi to Ranau and hoped into a bus to Sepilok - the Orangutan place! Sepilok is just some hotels and guesthouses around the rehabilitation center and not much then that. The weather is back to hot and humid and prices are also more upscale, but that is understandable. Next day we went early for the feeding time and took some good pictures of baby Orang-utans there, check them out. We have packed at lunch time and squeezed another activity in this day and went to see the Proboscis monkeys to near by oil plantations, where the owner left some forest for the wild animals and builded a platform for visitors and drinking wells for monkeys. They also get fed in certain time so they show up and once the food is eaten, they go again. It is a great fun and we loved it. From there we moved to Sandakan, a small town on east coast. We did not like it there. The place is smelly, noisy and somehow unfriendly. Search for clean guesthouse was very hard and unsuccessful. The room was dirty and bathroom smelly and something has stung me during the night creating huge hard red stings which where of course very itchy. Well anyway, hop into a minibus and go to Kinabatangan river!



Kinabatangan river experience

Another wild live pursuit. Barefoot lodge was nice and inviting, clean and sitting on the river bank...yes romantic. This one night stay included 2 wild life spotting river cruises. There are some 1000 wild orangutans in Sabah and we managed to see 3, I think thats great! We have also seen 3 crocs on the first trip! 2 swimming and one on the bank in shade. There are many types of hornbills and other birds, proboscis monkeys, long tale macaques and more. The night cruise was very interesting as the driver/guide has a huge spotlight and finds sleeping birds which are somehow frozen by the night and don't move. I felt a bit guilty shining the light into their eyes and disturbing their resting time. But the fact is, there is no other chance to see those birds, first, they are tiny, second, very fast and shy. The last morning cruise was misty and quiet as everything was just waking up. There, we've seen a back scales of the largest crocodile - 4 meters long.



So after this adventure, me and Dale have split our ways as he was missing his boat and I wanted to visit friends on Ocelot who were just making their way to Tawau town by sea. We met and had some nice 3 days together there. Thank you for having me!



Please leave your comments if you feel like it! :) Next report will be from the land of green tea -Vietnam!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Kota Kinabalu

Two weeks in Kota Kinabalu went fast, I have been enjoying all the luxuries of world class marina here and explored the city. There are 8 shopping malls and another one is being build. It's a bit incredible number for the size of the town. But tourism brings money and you can see them everywhere. Also the shopping options spoils you in no time. Borneo is certainly less muslim and more relaxed then other parts of Malaysia. Also, you can clearly recognize the original people from others, it is a very divers place. It is also very clean here and there are many options for eating and entertainment. I have enjoyed the Sabah state museum a lot, it is very empty and quiet, but there are interesting things to see and learn.

This guy has sold me ice-cream :)

We are leaving for the Kinabalu National Park tomorrow and fingers crossed we might get squeezed in for the climb as well. It is booked out at the moment, but maybe someone will cancel at last minute or we will just go around the park which should be nice enough. Next is orang-utan park, probostic (live only here on Borneo) monkeys, Danum valley an some diving on islands of Tawau on the other side of Borneo - Sabah. We are also hopping to catch up with our friends on Ocelot and see them good buy before they set of with the Indonesian rally to sail to all the beautiful small islands and Raja Ampat and more. We didn't make it on time for the military escort which was organized by rally for security reasons. Yes, the Philippine issue is a worry there. It is happening only on a short strip of a land and islands, but it is not a safe place, where policemen are being shot and tourists kidnaped. Well hopefully, the Malaysian government will take good measures and will prevent more violence happening in the future.

My next plans are not involving any sailing, at least for few month. I will be flying to Vietnam at the end of this month and explore Laos and Cambodia as well. I need to fly through Kuala Lumpur again which is an extra hassle, but also an opportunity to visit my friend Bee and stay over night at her place, which will be enjoyable.

So wish me luck and if you have any tips for me for these three countries, they will be more then welcome!

Pictures

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Kuching, city of cats

Kuching in Malay means Cat, the name originates from a name of small water stream which has now bean build over, but it doesn't mean the city is not crazy about cats. We flue over there by short national flight with AirAsia and landed in a heavy rain, meaning cool air.
Finding a middle range accommodation is a harder quest then I thought but we managed to avoid gigantic hotels and backpackers bungs and found nice small and clean place in the middle of the city. Kuching is extremely clean compare to the rest of Malaysia and is also well developed and easy to orient. We have stayed 2 nights, visited some museums and did some shopping and then moved to Bako national park which lies on close by peninsula, to see some jungle nature and monkeys. The park is in beautiful nature and its worth hiring a guide, which we have not done. Still we have seen some animals and lots of diverse plants. Few tracks ends on an empty beach which is a real treat after sweaty jungle walk. After a night in a very mouldy accommodation and one more tour around, we left for Cultural village - kind of lived on museum - to have a look at some of traditional long houses, hand work and dancing. While we had a dinner in a nice nearby hotel, I realised that it has been exactly 6 month from the time I arrived to Bangkok and put my feet down on Asian land for first time, so we called it a celebration.
Generally, Borneo seams to have a very rich culture and is more confident and settled down then the peninsular part, to me anyway. This part of the country seams to be more steady and undisturbed by the world fast movements. They surely have some money hear and probably good management as you can see good roads, new development, finished projects etc.
Dale wanted to go see orang-utans but everyone was telling us that they do not come to feeding spots as there is lots of fruit in the jungle at the moment. Well we are tying our boat off tomorrow morning and will travel on to northern parts of Borneo where we can hopefully get closer to more spices. We should do day sailing (night anchoring) for next 8 days or so with a stop in Brunei. OK, off I go to do some research on that! Post soon!


The Sweetest Leeches :)


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Miri landing

So we have arrived at Miri marina on Thursday 19th (left Sat 14th) right on time for high tide and before a small storm started. Got in the dock, got some welcomes from other sailors already here, helped Ocelot (see more below) to get in just behind us and rushed for lunch with our legs still wobbly and the ground moving under our feet. All sins committed straight away: Pizza for lunch (the best I eat in Asia), Starbucks coffee and a cake, shopping and back to boat for clean up and full 8 hours sleep, aaaaahhhh :).

The journey was interesting. It was my very first sea crossing, my very first sea sickness and many other first times. These 600 miles took us about 5 days of nonstop moving. Unfortunately not sailing all the way as we lost the wind for a while and had to motor last two nights and a day. First 24 hours were challenging, I was seasick, my stomach didn't like the water movement, I felt tired and drowsy  and it was a bit busy, especially at night as we were going through a very busy shipping channel and had to keep a good watch for all the ships nearby. Fortunately, we were ready for all that, we had meals and snacks ready and Dale is well experienced so he needed me only for the night watch shifts, so I could have been left sitting or lying around not doing much. We were also pretty fast that time as we had pretty good strong wind. The wind and the sea had calmed down a bit later on the second day when we were passing by the Anambas islands and we could relax as those huge cargo ships were not using this part of South China Sea. Next day went pleasantly on at the same peaceful pace and we were slowly moving towards our destination. I have to say I felt much better for the rest of our journey and enjoyed it. I was able to cook down below again and that was a good sign.


Star gazing is amazing, each early morning, around 4am the moon, which was just approaching New moon would appear in front of us as we were heading east. And the sun rise and sun sets,... When the wind died out and the water got glassy one morning, I spotted around 50 sea snakes floating around enjoying the peace and a few fish jumping out in front of the boat. We got a few more visitors: One fly, one butterfly, one bird and some moths. Flying fish kept us company all the way. But I was disappointed, this was not much, I was expecting a bit more wildlife during such a long journey. I guess the fishermen are doing a too good job here... Or we just were not lucky as Ocelot has seen some dolphins on the way.
There were more things to look for in the water once we got closer to Borneo. Rubbish, yes and lots of logs and wood and we saw some huge whole trees floating fortunately only in a far distance. We hit a log only once during night, that was pretty fortunate because, you can avoid them in the day light, but there is not much you can do at night time.
Ocelot is a catamaran which left about two hours before us for the same passage and same destination as us. We have found out only one hour after we left when they contacted us on radio (and were already out of sight), that was pretty happy surprise. This nice couple is well known for their sailing blog (link above) where they share much useful information. We managed to catch them on the last day as we were motoring a bit more then they did, but it was still surprising as catamarans are usually much faster (they kind of fly as they don't dip as much) than monohulls. So we overtook them just a few hours from the land and entered the marina first. That way we could help them with getting in on radio. What a pleasurable meeting! We have spent some time together talking on their beautiful and spacious deck over past few days.

You can see us on the pictures here and also Ocelot in beautiful morning sun. Yes, we were shooting each other :D.

Miri is a wealthy town which got its' riches from Oil industry (started by brits long time ago). The Oil platforms are all around at sea, we saw about 6 of them. Scary metal constructions, they are. The city it self is not very interesting. Surprising is the number of shops of all kinds and two big and well equipped shopping centres. The chinese community is very strong here and where chinese people are, there is business. The population of muslims is much smaller and it's clearly notable on streets. We have not done much exploring yet, but as we are flying to Kuching tomorrow, we hope to see more of Borneo soon. We are planning to do some jungle trips, caving and cultural exploring. So that is about it for now, please comment if you have any questions! :)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bali trip

Hello my dear readers, I am finally catching up with writing and sharing my latest stories with you. It's been long I know. I've chosen to go to Bali for my visa run as I wanted to serve a Vipassana course there and the date fitted me well. Well as we Dhamma people know, if you take care for Dhamma, Dhamma will take care for you. No, I am not relying on it, it just happens naturally. So I have registered for the course, but few days before my flight, they emailed me that course is full for service and sitting equally, but I got a contact of Sara W.  who is the driving force for Vipassana on Bali. She was kind enough to recommend me a nice guesthouse (WWW.serenityecoguesthouse.com) owned by an old student. There is a meditation room and number of yoga classes, swimming pool and it's 5 mins. from beach. I enjoyed this place a lot more because I was not feeling very well, so most of the time I stayed in, did yoga or just relaxed and enjoyed solitude. Sara came to meet me, introduced me to a nice girl who was volunteering there at the time and we had great fun. Sara usually manages the courses and after some chatting, she got an idea! She didn't sit a course for a while and was happy to swap with me and sit which meant I got a place! This was a great news, I was happy. We sat one day course with Balinese old students and teacher Anna and I moved to Ubud by the evening for few days before the course start. Ubud is a nice place packed with good shopping opportunities for good quality and beautiful Balinese goods, eco products and food. Ubud is a bit cooler then coast and full of expats, this really changes the market and many aspects of this place are very westernised - especially healthy food options. Hmm, still not for me, I must have got a pretty bad so called Bali Belly, which normally takes a day and I had it for a week. I had to get ready for the course and regain strength and health so I went for acupuncture to a local Chinese doctor. His needles hurt, I can tell you, but that is supposed to be a good thing. I wasn't much better after day and half so I got some activated carbon and an appointment with Australian Chinese medicine specialist. By the time I got there, the carbon worked and I was feeling better so his magic only strengthened me and I was cured. Anyway after this week my guts were so clean that the food was coming out totally unprocessed... I believe that everything happens for a reason and this might have been a good thing for my body after all, as there is a suspicion that I had mild dengue fewer before in Tioman as Dale and other sailors had it confirmed by doctors and I had the symptoms, so who knows maybe this was the final reaction to it.

OK, enough of illness! :-) Landih ashram lies in mountain area close to volcano Gungung Angung which I originally wanted to hike to so at least we ha a pretty good look at it. It's beautiful and scarcely visible (10 days is long enough to catch a good glimpse). This whole area is pretty cold, humid and foggy which makes it even colder, everything gets damp and moldish unless the sun is out for few hours and you take your stuff outside to dry. The ashram is more of a place for rent then a monastery, but nice and totally in nature. We had a great team of 6 servers and lots of fun. We left the ashram together and 4 of us spent one more day exploring Bali on scooters and foot. It was pleasure to meet you all my Dhamma sisters and brothers! Everything just fell in place very nicely.

At this moment, I am on ferry back to Tioman where the boat is getting ready for Saturday take of. And we shall scream out loud "atravestiamo" and appear in Kuching on Kalimantan island 5 days later and after some 600 nautical miles of sail! Wish us a good wind!
Pictures from Bali.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Floating

Good news from Tioman island! I have been sailing since Thursday! Time just passes me by, I don't even know it exists! The boat is great and the ovener also. All togeter far beiond my expectation or even my famous vivid imagination, honestly. It looks like we will do more sailing together next month.
I will have to do a visa run and I will do it my way and visit meditation centre at Bali to do some Dhamma service (fingers cross), come back to Tioman and we will cross over to Borneo.


Hello, with a little update :-) 16.5.:
We did more sailing with Dale over last few days and seen more islands, did some snorkeling, relaxing, watching sky and moon and storms going around. We have seen dolphins too!
And I forgot to tell you, that last week when diving we've seen 3 turtles! They are so pretty! Corral reefs around here are nice although lots of corals are death, lots of them are growing again.
We have another week of sailing around and then trip to KL to catch a flight to Bali, my first Indonesian experience!




Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Another month is almost over and no post! What happened? Well this is what happened :-) . After few days in Kuala Lumpur I moved to Kuantan where Dhamma Malaya meditation centre is located and sat my third 10 day Vipassana meditation course. KL was different this time as I stayed with a couchsurfer so had a sneak peak to the life of Malay secretary, local alternative scene and public transport. I have tried to like it more, but even this time I was not much more successful. So maybe if I go again and follow advice of my new friend Eva, I will finally enjoy this dirty city, who knows. Meditation centre was a real opposite. It's located close to two highways in the middle of palm oil plantations and fruit farm. Lots of trees, birds and reptiles. I stayed for few more days after the course to help out with maintenance before a 30 day course started. There is always so much to do in a centre that I was quite happy to leave again :-) no, no I have enjoyed my stay but relaxing there was out of question.
From Kuantan town I moved further north on east coast to place called Cherating. It took some patience to wait for old beaten local bus and shake away demanding taxi driver... anyway, Cherating  is known as a surfing beach, but only in the monsoon season in Chinese sea, which is December to February. This time it was very sleepy, most  of the businesses were closed and there was little to do. I have finished one book and that was my goal so all cool.
Night bus to Kuala Besut, short transfer, couple of hours waiting in the early morning and first boat to paradise = Perhentian islands.
I've chosen the small one of the two - kecil and so far I am pretty happy. The speed boat delivers everyone to their place stopping over around the islands. My place is called D'lagoon and a smaller boat had to pick me up in the middle of the bay :-) cool hm?
Even though I was tired after night traveling, I went for a jungle track to another beach, got lost so paced one track twice, found myself and arrived to Long beach hungry and thirsty. They charge more for everything in paradise, so good bye cheep food. Even water is more expensive. But no complains, right!  I booked my open water PADI diving course (starting on Wednesday)! The decision making was very difficult, as this is a cheapest place in SE Asia to do it, but the budget is always tight... Well I have to thank my family which helped me with this decision, thank you! I hope I will like it as many people tell me so.
I sleep in a dorm here and Swiss (French speaking woman) Martin already lives there. So far we have it for our self. She is very much into snorkeling and was kind to take me with her today. Overcoming stupid childhood fears is a hard work. Also swimming against current is! :) The under water life is very rich here, lots of colourful fish, some corals still alive, blue spotted rays and I hope to see a turtle, that would be just awesome.
This afternoon has been exceptional!! I met 4 Slovakians on the Adam's and Eve's beach and later 'at home' I found out there are Czech guys staying next door. They arrived today. So much native language practising has not happened to me yet. So I call it connection to home day.  :-)
Pictures will follow once I upload them, we have very limited and slow WiFi here.

Pictures

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Back on solid ground...

...even now everything is still swinging :-) and being on land seams just strange after a week at sea. I am now taking ferry to the mainland and a night bus to Kuah, this post will get better as soon as I find another WiFi. Here some pics:




Alright, so here I am sitting in a motel restaurant in Alor Setar close to a bus station, talking to a blind Malay man who has a very good English while waiting for my night bus to KL. We had a huge and long storm which cooled us down :-) . 
A week ago when I was still in Cenang, I met a nice New Zelander Malcolm who recommended me a better guesthouse, so I moved to a very family like place. We spent some time together talking and then he introduced me to Edy, american guy staying in same dorm, we enjoyed very interesting conversations and Edy gave us a great hata joga class. We swam at night in the sea, sat on the beach for long hours and had a banana roti at 2am, I enjoyed every minute! Thank you, you two scientists and filozofers! 

Sailing with http://www.langkawisailingschool.com was great fun, I have received my competent crew certificate today so I feel a bit more competent now :-) . We sailed around the island and seen some fantastic places. I have to admit that sailing is a hard work and my body is sore and tired, but I wouldn't change it for anything, it was a very nice experience.  And I am glad I made the effort and got some gloves and good sun glases. I slept on deck most nights as it was just too hot down below. Stargazing is more fun when someone knows what stars are you looking at isn't it? :-) . It was 3 of us taking the course, me and English couple originally from Manchester, bit more world citizens now as they have been on the road for 4 years. Barry, the instructor was joking around a lot and his wife Lynette cooked as some great meals! I was outnumbered by Englishmen, but enjoyed tea breaks and European breakfasts for a change. My head is full of sailing terminology now, I hope I can remember it all till next sailing opportunity. Life is so different on a boat, slower and more intensive. This planet is very beautiful and fortunately, there are still some unspoiled places, there is hope!
 The school has 3 boats and there were two courses alongside, so we met them in marinas, and actualy, we raced them once, it was good fun. Marinas here are great, two of them have nice pool, restaurant and bar. Well enjoy the pictures, I thing I made too many. Those birds are eagles, Langkawi actually means a red eagle, and there are truly many or them, also sea eagles, we had a chance to see them well from the boat.

https://picasaweb.google.com/113539602896214804659/SailingAroundLankgawiWithSailingCourse

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cenang beach

Dear friends, as I am slowly recovering from the mosquito attack from last week, there is not much to report. I made some pictures on this beautiful beach. We had rainy afternoons lately, which is much appreciated by people and the nature equally. Some strong winds blown some animals ashore so I have taken some pictures of fragments of the sea life.
I have spent a great afternoon on Rebak island, where I was invited to by Mike yesterday. It's a private island owned by a hotel but marina tenants can use the whole facility. We had pleasant conversations, did some laundry, had nice ready meal dinner on the boat and met some fellow sailors, hotel guests at the beach bar... I came home around eleven totally exhausted from this nothing doing. But I guess that's all down to my current condition and medication. I might visit again tomorrow as I don't feel fit enough for scootering around yet, maybe on Thursday. Today, I am just hanging around WiFi and sorting some things out. So have a look at new pictures :-) .


One news actually! Found cheapest lunch place so far, vegetarian plate and ice tea for 5RM! Very tasty and just around the corner. Bye bye expensive touristy restaurants :-) yep!

https://picasaweb.google.com/113539602896214804659/MalajsieASIjA2014

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Itchy bites story


OK this post is not going to be as cheerful as the last one.
 I came to Langkawi two days ago by ferry from Penang. As the royal marina is very close by, I went there and placed my number on notice board for some sailors to pick up in pursuit of a crew position. Got a taxi, found the guest house I wanted to stay in but they were full, so I went on to the next one, got a shabby room with awfully shabby shared bathroom for 40RYM and I immediately started looking for other place or solution like volunteering or so. I have met my future sailing teachers to pay my skipper course and enjoyed sunset on the beach. I woke up early in the morning for a sunrise swim in the sea and found out that lots of mosquitoes were having luxurious feast on me. The windows were not closeable so they had it easy. :( Swimming will cool it down I thought so I enjoyed nice morning on the beach and went looking for a local dog and cats shelter to see if they need any volunteers. Later that day, I got a text that they are full and other places I tried online didn't reply to me. So I have moved to a bit better guest house near by and for same price I got nice room with a private bathroom. Phew! Hung my mosquito net for a first time and enjoyed the rest of the day. I only had a slight suspicion that some of the spots are new and that was weird. After rather itchy night I found out in the morning that lots of my spots multiplied but there was no insect to do so, also some of bites got blisters and that is a sign of infection. So I got a taxi (teksi) to hospital for a check. They gave me antihistamines, antibiotics, some other pills, creams to apply on skin and an injection. I feel a bit weak but my skin is already improving. So I think it's good I didn't get any volunteering job for now as I need to take care for myself first. It's nothing serious, I am just glad I had it checked. It reined for first time after 4 month of draught this afternoon so that feels very nice too and it might rain again :-) . I have met Mike a boat owners and his fellow sailor - a nice girl from Poland, we might meet again next week to see the boat. Once i feel better, I will hire a scooter and explore this island a bit more.
These mosquitoes really love me, I need to do anything to stop them from now on as I might be allergic to them or, they might carry infections which I do not deal well with. Oh, dear I hope next post is much more positive as I am sure that this place can offer much more joy and fun. :-)
Here is an evening update: medication started working so all is a bit better, less itchy, less red,...

Malaisian pictures are in this new album : https://picasaweb.google.com/113539602896214804659/MalajsieASIjA2014?authkey=Gv1sRgCM-_wbahtNalUw

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Penang - the love affair! ;)

I admit, I am really enjoying myslef here, don't blame me. It's all downtown to this place and nice people. I went to see the biggest Buddhist temple in Malaysia called Kek look si and came back early and truly exhausted by the hot weather. Unfortunately these pictures are lost as the mini SD card is broken, so no pictures. It looked very modern anyway, but the blend with Chinese culture is interesting, lots of fish ponds, fresh water turtle pond with one turtle white, I wonder if that means luck? Anyway afternoon nap and good night sleep putted me back on my feet and I went to the National park, so much recommended to my by my Austrian room mate. :-) So of I went to the jungle, bus or rather bas 101 took me and few more tourists to the last stop (about 5 km). It was another hot day even in the shade of dense Forrest. I decided to take longest walk to farest turtle beach, I had my snack and water, so I have enjoyed the hiking track even it was in a rather difficult terrain. The beach was beautiful and I have noticed some turtle tracks in sand. I didn't really swim as there was lots of jellyfish and without glasses, well I didn't want to risk a burn. It was only about 5 people there, very piecefull. I went to ask about turtles and found out that there is a sanctuary where I saw some 3 day old beauties and one 2 year old. I was told that turtles come to lay eggs to that beach every month and this sancuary keeps some of the babies for 2 weeks and then let them go to the sea. Unfortunately, I was too tired to go to the monkey beach, so I didn't see monkies. Instead I took bas to the famous ferringhi beach and had dinner with cheesy sunset. Got myself a dress and some stuff for my friend, which I have managed to send of by post today. Well done me :-) ! I have met many people today, one Welshman telling me interesting information about Burma and two German guys which came fresh from airport from Thailand. Both chats were nice. And it feels good to meet people. I am finally heading to Langkawi island tomorrow morning by ferry, so wish me luck as there should be a marina and hopefully some sailors in need for crew! New pictures are in the same Malajsia album. Posting soon :-)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

First steps in Malaysia

Do you know the feeling that some things and events are already planned for you? And if your plan doesn't match the general plan everything will happen according to higher plan anyway? Well that's what just happened to me couple of days ago. I wanted to take the long train journey from Singapore to Butterworth - Penang on Thursday. So I went to get the train, but I didn't make it on time, traffic was stuck, trains slow, ...it just wasn't to be. So at the end I spent some good 3 hours in SG cold and clean public transport! Then I found the bus crossing to Johor bahru - Malaysia. Past through customes, got tran ticket to KL, bought new sim card and after some persuading I have managed to withdraw some money. Then I have found out that train traveling here is a serious businesses. You need to get queque number before purchasing ticket first, then you should be ready to board the train half an hour early and need to sit on designated seat (until the air con breaks in your couch and then you can sit just anywhere). :-)
So far, I love Malaysia, the eye contact, smile, helo, care, interest, oh it feels so much better here. And everyone knows basic English which makes it harder to learn at least thank you in Malay, but easier to talk to people. So far cheapest country and its reasonably clean.
I arrived to KL at 10pm, found taxi to china town, found a room in Backpackers and went to sleep totally exhausted. Next morning, I met Amanda from California in the lobby, we went to find Petronas towers together and got fantasticaly lost twice, so we arrived there much later then it would have been possible, but it gave us nice time to talk, eat breakfast and have fun. Then I ren back to hostel to pack and check out, got lost again, but made it on time. I didn't realise it was Friday until I was told that the second class in my train is full and had to buy a fist class ticket... first class freezer I would say. I even unpacked my jacket for first time to be able to survive the cold aircon. Well next time I will go by bus, several people recomanded it to me, its cheaper, faster and they should apparently have very comfortable buses. I will report on it once I see it.
I made it to the ferry to Penang at 10 pm, where I met Sharon from GB a lively young girl. We walked together, found hostel, (my first dorm), got late dinner and went to sleep. Oh I almost forgot the surprise waiting in the room! A Czech woman was there, it was nice, but we didn't even said our names and she left in the morning before I was fully awake, shame... Now its only me and Austrian old guy there :-) . It's all nice and clean for 20RM!! (120kc) but I got several - looots of strange and very itchy bites during night. It was not a mosquito, but I don't know what it was. I have asked at the reception, changed bed, sprayed the anti-insect thing all over me and this morning, found only two or 3 new bites. Well, bugs love me for sure... I will ask for some local product tomorrow in pharmacy I think.
Penang - George town, love it, so strange, you can get a fantastic meal for 4rm at one place and cappuccino for 9 elsewhere :-) ! But it's very friendly place, great mixture of different etniques lives here and I guess that creates this nice atmosphere. This place is famous for its street art and tasty food - confirmed.
I went to an event yesterday, small meeting in photography museum organised by local InterNation group (expats) which I've joined. We had guided tour around this fantastic museum full of interesting old cameras and had fun. I recommend a visit.
One guy from the group was heading to very first St. Patrick day parade in Penang so I have joined him. It was very nice, there is actually profound historical connection with Irish people, most famous are founders of schools, buildings, society moves,...and we heard and saw The sigh band - back pipes and drums - fantastic sound! I hope I will a mange to upload video somehow, so far it doesn't works :(.
 So we ended up spending whole evening together, had dinner and strol through market, it was great to meet someone who lives here and explained me some of interesting facts. I have enjoyed the night and company greatly.









Very funny thing happened today, I was walking through the centre and they close some streets to cars on Sunday mornings for fairs and community time. I was gathered by local medical association promoting a kidney health and was given free medical check - they insisted. So I report, that I have normal sugar in my blood, low cholesterol, 57kg, 172cm!!(I thought I was 174cm :[), normal blood pressure and I feel good. I received a present and met a guy who was hanging out with me for some more time showing me all nearby stalls and it was fun. I have also tryed the calligraphy brush for first time and made mandrine sign for heart!! <3 on paper on which you paint with watter so it all disappear after few minutes and you can start again like everything else in life. Yes and dragon candy! All pictured, have a look. :-)

This street art is amazing !!! Prague, make some notes and stop that stupid tagging! Signature can be an art or the other way round.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

From Siam to Singapore

Leaving Bangkok and Thailand after a month was nice and sad in the same time. It was mainly thanks to my new friends that I really enjoyed it and also it felt like I have finally got used to it. Sunday was fantastic, Natt and her husband were driving me from place to place, explaining everything I didn't know. I made my very first offering and prayer to Buddha and found out that because I was born on Tuesday, my Buddha is the reclining one (there you have it mom, thats why I like lying down and sleeping so much)! :-) well, no, actually this image shows buddha leaving to final nirvana, not sleeping. I also met Natt's parents, very nice people, her auntie made me a traditional hat which old rice farmers used and her mom gave me fantastic grilled sticky rise desserts. I felt pamperred all day long! Later back in the hostel, I met Monica again and we had a nice breakfast together the following day. So thank you all very much!

Now Singapore! It is a she, it's a lioness and so it looks like! I felt a little bit like back in Europe for first few minutes although, many things here function much better then on the old continent. Being on MRT train, you just cannot miss your stop, not mind gab, get lost or feel unsure, everything is so well marked that it's almost unbelievable. This time, I'm staying with a very nice CS Olivia, she managed to pick me up at the train stop and recognised me! :-)
She has a pretty flat and two cats! Blocks of flats here are really nice, mostly due to friendly community atmosphere. People here are out a lot, playgrounds, benches, hawkers stalls, everything is outdoors and I like it.
This modern city invites you for long walks and rewards them with interesting views. Although, sometimes a tip from a local can help find nice spots which are happily hiding behind all those skyscrapers and heavy traffic. For shopping lovers, this is the right destination, malls, markets and more malls and shops,...anything can be found here! Hunting for some old places, I strolled through a lot so my legs suffered greatly. I have very much enjoyed the South Asian museum with free guides talking about some objects with deep knowledge and in an entertaining manner. Lots of new places will breathe pure artificial, or at least they did to me. Like the famous water front gardens or even Sentoza island which looks like a huge playground, with aqua park, aquarium, monkies, trains, beaches, lots of theme places for kids, it's all there in bright colours and under precise maintenance.
The Raffels hotel is worth a visit, I was surprised by its size and luxury.
Well unfortunately, I'm leaving this entertaining island tomorrow morning as I have a long train journey ahead to another island - Penang, Malaysia. I already have a snack ready so need to pack and get a good sleep. :-)
New album link: https://picasaweb.google.com/113539602896214804659/ASIjA2014Singapur

Friday, February 28, 2014

Vespa town ....ehm China town and more :-)

I will start with Thursday night as it was spectacular! We have plotted a dinner out with my newly gained Dhamma sisters from Kancana centre: Pueng, Natt and Mee. They have chosen an amazing restaurant above the big and mighty Chao Phraya river with a view of the temple of Dawn. We shared food the Thai way and had lots of fun.


I have to say that this great evening was followed by a very enjoyable Friday. I spent it all in China town and the temple of dawn. After some troubles finding the river pontoons and boat hopping which was great, it's so cool on the water, I arrived at this famous quarter in good mood. The amount of goods, stalls, tourists, traffic, I mean it's buzzing! For me the best surprise was the number of old Vespas here, these old ladies are still riding in style and look just fab, what ever business they are used for. I found a great lunch with no chilies and no meat in a small restaurant, where some guests were happy to talk to me and even share their food! Later on I escaped the noise to a nice temple and then found a bit modern PHRA MAHA MONDOP - a museum of history of China town and history of golden Buddha image and finally the image it self on 4th floor. Cost me 140b for the full exhibition and I have to say that it was worth the money and I can recommend you to visit this place because the exhibition is of a high quality (comperable to British museums) and well explains the history of china town, in line with history of China and Thailand so it provides full picture till modern days. Then the technique of making a Buddha image in 13th century is well explained here step by step, which I found very interesting as well.


Back in the town, I bought an original tiger balm and jumped on a boat to Temple of Dawn. This place is also worth your time and money (50b), it was nice in sunset scenery and as you can climb up the main shrine, it provides nice view. This very busy day left me quite tired so I'm just chilling today. Natt is taking me to her home town Nakhonpathom tomorrow and I want to be fresh to enjoy it. I will just go and try my selling skills in Khaosan road where I want to sell my book about sailing which I have fully studied and want to pass on for someone else to enjoy. It's also pretty heavy as it's on a good quality paper...


All pictures in the Thailand album as previously!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Back to Bangkok

I took a train to Bangkok yesterday, it costs 28 baths and takes about 3 hours from Lop buri. The journey was pleasant as much as it can be in midday heat, but all those aisle sellers keep you occupied :-) . When I was trying to get a taxi on the main train station I noticed two German guys just doing the same, so I jumped in a tuk-tuk with them, 3 people, lots of bicycle bags and a bike :-) . I had a nice chat with one of them and the other one didn't take my share of the costs when we arrived at Khao San road. Very nice and generous gentlemen! Thank you again :-) .
From there I took it by walk to Samsen and found a guesthouse recommended to me by my Spanish friend from meditation course - yes, you Monika :-) . Its called Bangkok House, night is for 200b! And it's cute, clean and quiet (depending on guests as it's an old wooden house). See my new home :-) + do not trust searching sites like TripAdvisor or other sites for accommodation, these were saying that this hostel is full and price was much higher. Just be brave and go, there will be surely a free room somewhere!
Well after a short stroll around famous Khao San, I went back and had a sound sleep.
Today I felt brave so went walking towards the grand palace, found Wat Pho - very nice, pictures in the album. Its a long walk, I have to admit. The emeralrd Buddha will have to wait before I go to see him, the price is just so high! 500b... I am not sure if I can efford it now, maybe next time. It was recommended to me so it is probably worth it. Instead I bought myself a skirt :-) I had to throw one shorts away so didn't have spare leg cover, now I can go to do my laundry and still be well dressed. :-) 
Well I hope you have fun reading my blog, you can comment and let me know.
This is my favourite dish here, okok, I know it is a dessert, but desserts were always my favourite part of the menu! It's a pumpkin in coconut milk served hot. Yum! Family, I will make you some when I'm back, just remind me, OK?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ayutthaya - Lopburi

To continue where I stopped last time, ... Auythaya by boat is a great idea, the trip takes 2 hours, costs about 200bth and will provide completely different angle to sightseeing.
Despite all the looks and question marks in eyes of locals, we insisted on morning tour and it was well worth it. Later on we discovered that the boat trip was Normaly set for 4pm to catch the scenery at sunset. But without extra colours we experienced pleasant journey without extra tourists! More over, there was a ceremony in one temple so, it was truly great.

Next day me and the two nice Germans Alex and Theresa took the river crossing boat to the train station (cost 3bth! Unlike tuk-tuk) and headed north. I have jumped out just after an hour in Lop buri and waved the young couple goodbye. I chose this place in pursuit of cheaper stay and peace and quiet. While to my surprise the accommodation costs are the same and Sunday was the last day of big festival celebrating the king here, so far far away from quiet. :-)  but that's life.

There are plenty of ruins for such a small town but only limited places to stay. The whole town is also occupied by a high number of monkeys which are a bit violent. I have witnessed an attack on plastic back with bananas. The woman who carried it did let go of it with a smile, so probably a common scenery here. But I was happy to have my foldable shopping bag from ikea, pink, but not see through! It looks like the only place which monkeys do not like is ruins of European diplomatic site from 18th century. :-)
To the festival, it actually brought much more coloure to what Lopburi can offer. People dressed up in some kind of traditional pants and dresses, some heavily make-upped and everyone in a good festive mood. High number of stalls with expensive fabrics and clothes, cosmetics and food was something a bit different to the normal markets cramped with cheep Chinese goods. Lots of places were decorated with fresh flowers arranged in sand and wonder gardens were created in two places as well.

Enjoy new pictures here: https://picasaweb.google.com/113539602896214804659/ASIjA2014Thailand
Next report will be from Bangkok. :-)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ayutthaya - wonders of ruins

OK first thing in this post I want to say how much I love Thai women driving their Scooters around. They look so magestic! Turning elegantly around corners, smiling, of course they do not wear helmets so you can enjoy the full picture. Without effort, they just look good. They also drive their kithe driver and the older on the back. And sure you can see all kinds of passengers here, dogs on the foot rest and many other types of luggage hanging.

And on the road we stay for now :-) . I decided to leave Kanchanaburi on Thursday so early in the morning, I headed to the bus station. Let me just say, that around 7 in the morning, when I was about to snooze my alarm, a heavy shower started. Yes, it was raining for about 10 minutes and the air got cooler to some 22°C and freshened up nicely. So in this cool morning I took a tuk-tuk and the driver took me to a better spot than the main station but to the right bus at the corner of one street. A 2-hour long rather chilli ride to Suphanburi, where a mini bus driver took over me and got me safe to Ayuthaya. She played a movie on the way, I sat in the front so had the screen just before my nose, it was hard to avoid it. Very silly movie, all I say...
Now Ayuthaya, what is this place like. Well it's on the railway track up north and its a former kings home town. This country was defeated by the strong burmies army and after that the capital was moved. The very center is situated on a large river island encircled by 3 rivers. But the whole thing is not completely natural, there was some digging done in early days for defense purpose. Currently this city is not less dusty then any other place in Thailand and customes are the same as well. Fortunately all hostels are situated in one spot 2 minutes from the bus terminal. Huray, no taxi, no long walks! I got a cheep room, found a post office and finally got food in the hostel's restaurant. I didn't feel like doing much so chilled for the day. This morning I had a bicycle ride around historical sites in my mind so I went to get a bike (40bath/day).


A young German couple was just doing the same thing, hiring a bike so I asked them where they were going and if I could hang out and they were pretty happy so off we peddalled together.
All that remains from Ayuthaya's former glory are few cheddies and lots of brick ruins. (See pictures) most of sites charge 50b and the temple with huge bronze (but goldplated) statue of Buddha is free of charge. So we talked, had lunch, did some stalls strolling and more peddalling on these busy dusty roads. At one moment we saw a pretty long snake hurrying into bushes. Spotted few birds too. I have to say it was very enjoyable shared experience. We met for dinner again and will try to do a boat trip tomorrow.
Also hostel staff around this place is very nice and friendly, making jokes and mess around. Sweet people!
I'm not exactly sure where I will move next, but it will be on Sunday. Let's just say that having window to the main street with all day and nigh buzz is not exactly my cup of tea now.

Stay tuned, I'll try to update pictures daily!

https://picasaweb.google.com/113539602896214804659/ASIjA2014Thailand

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A bit of nature

Another hot day is over here in Thailand - still Kanchanaburi district. It's still a hot night, at least indoors, outside, above the river shallows is a nice cooling temperature (but many mosquitos too...).

Pictures from yesterday and today are here: https://picasaweb.google.com/113539602896214804659/ASIjA2014Thailand  I will, always feed them to this album so if you want to see only pictures, you can save the link.

Well, I took a bus to Erawan water falls this morning. It sounded as a good idea and so it certainly was. The only disappointment was the number of people who thought the same, especially groups of Russian tourists... Falls are pretty and the temperature was a tiny bit more bearable there in the Forrest and close to cold azure water. Unfortunately, I was not clever enough to bring a swimsuit, well I will do so next time. Check out pictures, the water was so clear and cool! Once I've found a small track of the tourist stream I managed to see some unique butterflies, common lizards, birds and blue flowers producing beautiful fragrance. 

The bus ride is enjoyable despite the old shiny Mercedes vehicle which struggles uphills. :-) it takes only 1,5 hours and the driver will stop where you want to on the way back. (Find alarm clock on the picture.) ;) There is no aircon and you can open a window, much better way of traveling than modern busses - I say.
Back in the town, I looked at the train station which is cute and then went to the post office, pharmacy for vitamins, finaly bought a comb for my messy hair and also got some water. I can finally appreciate the cold shower in these hot days. 
Tomorrows plan is to visit some museums, and I might head out to Ayuthaya the following day. Although the landlord made me a dinner tonight which was very nice of him, he is really above the river and fishermen are passing by on the piers leading to bungalow rooms just below the porch. It creates authentic atmosphere I have to say. They use sort of harpunas and bring the fish in plastic bags full of water. There is no wind tonight so mosquitos do bite!
Oh and I met two sisters from Alaska there in the forest, we sort of met on my first day here as I was asking them for directions. Such nice girls, traveling for two month Thailand + China. Exciting!
                           
                              So long!


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Kanchanaburi first days

 This is where I am now. River Guest House. Yesterday's sunset was nice, right? As I am not feeling perfectly well today, I will stay in for now and see, if my condition improves, I will take pictures of sunset on the bridge. River Kway is very clean, at least here, when the mud settles down. This place is not super clean, but the owner is very nice, speaks good English and is very helpful (took my bag in the room and placed my water in a fridge).
Yesterday, I got a lift from the meditation center to Kanchanaburi by a nice woman Ning and her son Not. She has been meditating for ten years and now when her son graduated, she went to a monastery. She also said that she knew me from past life, that she recognised me! Thai people are nice! But there was aircon in the car and that caused me a headache. Well I felt lucky so started walking to the center, as they dropped me next to the huge war cemetery, but that was a mistake, I should have had to go to the river instead. Never mind, spend some hours walking around with the heavy bag looking for place to stay, when I was super tired and hungry, an oldish man on a motorbike asked Taxi? And I jumped behind him and felt very happy. He took me to this place for 20 baths. I was just walking the wrong direction... This town is not in my guidebook and I couldn't even find an internet cafe. At least I know where  the bus station and pier is and bought Thai phone number which needs to top up. Number is: 0066958200291. Oh well not everything is always perfect right?

 Hey and there is a gecko in my room now! ;) . I will keep you posted!
Other picture will be here