Archive for the ‘Thailand’ Category

  • Me and the hammock


    Since we arrived in Koh Tao and found “Homer”, the way we have to refer to our beautiful wooden house in the island, I’m experimenting a great feeling of peace and joy through spending long hours in the hammock. It is something I had already learnt from this trip and anothers before. Since our visit in India I have tried, rounding up, around fifty different hammocks and other balancing sits. It has always been recomfortating and nice to let myself flow with the movement from side to side. But it is being this time, in our wooden house in Koh Tao, that I am really getting addicted to it. I have breakfast on the hammock; write, read and smoke on the hammock. I even eat on the hammock and spend the time I’m at home laying on the hammock. When I have left the house and come back, I come back to the hammock. When we go to a bar, I always look for a bar with a hammock. I also sleep on the hammock sometimes.


    I have realized it is starting to be too much but I can only wish there is a hammock free for me wherever I go. Am I getting even lazier in Koh Tao? Is it because I feel like inside the belly of my mom again? I’m starting to be concerned about that and I think is time to quit this bad habit of only thinking about my hammock. Should I really be worried about or should I only let it be? Is there any way to avoid it? Is there any detox theraphy I could do? Well, I will try to find an answer to all that questions inside my head. While I look for the answer, I will only lay on the hammock again, watch the time pass by and enjoy life from the sight of my hammock!

  • Run Visa, run


    The day in which we had to renew our Thai visa arrived and we did it fast and easy, although very tiring. After spending long hours discussing which way would it be the best for us to extend our stay in Thailand and whether to cross to Myanmar or to Malaysia, we decided to do it through one of the travel agencies offering the “Visa Run” service in Koh Tao. We paid them money and they arranged everything, such an strange feeling for us.


    We contemplated the possibility of doing it by ourselves but were a little discouraged when we realised, after doing numbers, that we would end up paying almost the same and maybe having to stay overnight in the main land, thus extending the time to 2 whole days. Doing it with everything organised was faster, so we surrended this time to a travel agency (sigh!). So we bought the pack: night ferry boat + minivan from Chunporn pier to Rangon + boat to the Myanmar border + return to Chumpon pier + fast catamaran back to Koh Tao. Easy, fast, comfortable and safe.


    The night was clear and the sea was calmed so we didn’t experience much movement in the boat, although it was very noisy and we didn’t sleep much. We arrived to main land at around five in the morning. The minivan was pretty new and had enough room for long legs like Hector’s, it picked us up from the ferry pier and drop us at the inmigration office. We got our exit stamp, jump on the boat to Myanmar, got the Myanamar stamps too and back to Thailand for another 30 minutes boat trip, including a stop to search through our bags and belongings. The officials at the border weren’t friendly but they were brave enough to stamp our passport with another visa on arrival, 25 days this time. We arrived back in Koh Tao that afternoon, tired but happy for having finished with all that disgusting burocracy for now and to be able to enjoy another “month” of peace and relax without having a look to the calendar or to our passport again. That day we spent the whole afternoon watching movies and sleeping. Only some beers could help us sleep again at night!


  • Our wooden house in Koh Tao


    We started to feel kind of sick of nonstop travelling a couple of weeks ago. It is a pretty confusing feeling because we really love to travel and want to go on with our trip, but at the same time we feel tired of visiting new places everyday and never get to know them well. We have the feeling that we need some holidays from our trip again, something like a stop over to settle and rest for a while. For a couple of weeks, maybe for a month… This is why we decided to look for a house for rent in the island.


    Surrounded by green and coconut trees, amid the jungle in a quiet valley we found our place that morning, right on the deadline point we had fixed to find a house or leave the island. The house hunting was exhausting due to the strong sun these days. We had checked different houses for rent, but they were not what we were looking for. It was on our way back to the hotel room when we found Gong Valley, just a 50 metres detour off an important road, and a 5 minutes walk to the main pier in Koh Tao, so kind of isolated but well comunicated.


    The house is made of wood and bamboo, it’s pretty basic and has a lot of charm. From the beginning we liked the good vibes of the owner and his place. He showed us around the valley and the 6 different houses he made himself. All of them have a bedroom, a toilet and a basic kitchen (gas fire, small fridge and a wooden bench, that’s all). Exactly what we were looking for! Outside the house, big front terraces where to admire the view over the valley from your hammock, some hundreds of metres from the sea.


    We directly felt in love with the place and decided to rent one of the houses for 15 days, later we would see if we were staying longer or not. At the moment, that half month is not over yet and we feel so good here, that we are thinking to stay even longer. That would mean to have to extend our visa and change plans again but, who cares, we are on holidays now and can do whatever we want!


    We have found also our way to go to the beaches that are far by hitch-hiking. It worked out well in the north of the country and it seems pretty easy in the south too. You just need to stand by the side of the road and stop any car driving in your direction. That’s all. Life here is easy and good. Wake up, have some breakfast and see what you feel like. Later put some sunscreen on and go to the beach with mask and snorkel to see the amazing underwater world. When you feel tired, get some lunch and have some rest. Late in the afternoon it depends, watching a movie, surfing the internet or going out for a drink. What else could we ask for? We are starting to call Koh Tao home…

  • Diving in Koh Tao


    We knew from the beginning of our trip that we wanted to do a diving course in the south of Thailand. We had heard that Koh Tao was the cheapest and also one of the best options to spot different fish species in all Southeast Asia. That’s why we decided, without knowing the island yet, that we wanted to have our first ever diving experiencie in Koh Tao. We booked our 4 day course from Bangkok so we didn’t do any research when we arrived. There are plenty of diving schools here and all them offer more or less the same. The company we chose, Planet Scuba, is a small school with less students, which makes groups smaller and the classes more personal.


    The course starts with some clashroom time in which you learn basic things about scuba diving, the underwater world and diving technics. After having passed your test reviews –they are quite easy- arrives your first contact with the diving gear –mask, wetsuit, airtank…- in shallow water. The feeling, when you breath from your tank for the first time, is quite relaxing. At least it was to us. We were very excited about how strange it would feel. Once under water you just need to continue breathing and be calmed. Easy!


    We learned some necessary skills for diving safe and know the do’s and dont’s under water. Each 45 minutes dive appeared very short in time when we were finished. We would have spent hours there, getting used to the bottled air, the “absence” of gravity, our new friends the fishes, etc. But we had to wait until the next day’s dives.

    long-fin-angel-fish.jpg parrot-fish.jpg white-eyed-moray-eels.jpg

    When you have tried it once and know you like it, it is like a kind of drug. I mean, you want more and want it now!! It is tyring to be under water but the excitement gives you strength to continue. When you go out of the water, you realise how tired you are and you start to proccess all the beatiful things you have seen there. The rest of the dives in the course were deeper –up to 18 metres- and even better. We saw many fishes that we had never have pictured in our head before and others –like in the film Nemo- that we had always dreamed about. We haven’t learned much since diving is a thing about experience and time, but we know now that we love it and we are certified to do it everywhere!! It won’t be the last time!!

  • Koh Tao or Turtle Island


    Eight hours night bus from Bangkok, a short lapse of time for a coffee and a toast in the pier, and a 45 minutes speed boat ride after we were finally steping on the Turtle Island, a tropical paradise full of coconut palm trees, jungle hills and marvellous turquoise waters.


    The island has different areas, bays and beaches and it’s surrounded by a generally calmed sea with clear, warm water, coral reefs and colourful aquatic fauna. It is a paradise for divers, snorkellers and anybody who enjoys nature and swimming. And unfortunately, also for those having a couple of weeks holiday and wanting to get pissed and party everyday for less money and in a much beautitul surrounding than the one at home –it’s allright but they are always those people who break the silence, the magic and the atmosphere of this kind of places.


    The highest point of the island is 379 metres above sea level but there are many uphill and downhill paths that make walking around a little bit tiring. This is why everybody -there are little exceptions like us- opt for hiring a motorbike to move around the island and some of the roads –the few of them which are in good paved condition- tend to be busy at all times. The main areas in Koh Tao are Mae Had, Sairee and Chalok beaches, which are well developed, with bars, accommodation, diving schools, internet cafes, shops… The rest of the island is connected by poor roads, trails and paths. The result is: the further you go from the main area, the less people will surround you and the less commodities and amenities you will find. It is good though, if you are exactly looking for that!


  • Back in Thailand


    Four months are over now since our last pit stop in Valencia and we have had the opportunity to visit the north of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The trip has been mainly inland and in hill areas and we could hear the call of the sea in our souls. We come from a coastal town and need to feel the sea breeze in the face much often. So, the next move was going to be to get closer to the sea, heading to the south beaches and islands of Thailand.


    Once in Bangkok we did some research again and booked an Open Water diving course with free transport from Bangkok and free accommodation in Koh Tao -it was a very good deal, around half the price of what it would have cost back home. Off we go! This part of the trip seemed to be different and more relaxed, and we were getting so excited of the idea of settle down for few days in the same place. Not only we were coming closer to the sea, but to a turquoise water one with loads of colourful animals to observe. We coul not wait any longer.

  • Back in Bangkok


    On the same day we had arrived back to Pakse from our three days motorbike loop through the Bolaven Plateau, we took a songthaew (kind of a pick up van with two benches very common in Laos as a local bus) to the Thailand border crossing of Vang Tao. Once in Thailand again, we decided to try our luck and increase our hitch hiking experience and got a free ride to Ubon, the closest railway station with a daily train service to Bangkok. Our expectations of getting an sleeper train and have a good rest that night could not be accomplished and we had to complete our 10 hours night ride in a quite small and hard 3rd class sitting bench. One of the inconveniences of travelling without any fixed plan or booking-security, but who needs that…? At least not us.


    So, we arrived in Bangkok early on the next morning tired and close to a neck contracture from the many contortions in the train. We catched a bus to Kao San Road, the tourist area of the city, got a room and went to eat something. We were back in Bangkok, something we had been secretly expecting in our mind. Somehow, we love this city and we still have so much to discover here…

  • Huay Xai, border town


    We have been already 2 times in Huay Xai. The first one was on our first day in Laos, when we just crossed the border and spent the rest of the day wandering around the main street, looking for good food (which we didn’t find anywhere) and for information on what to do in Laos, since we had cross the border without having any idea of what to do next. We have been told by many people that Laos is great, so we were so looking forward to get in there that we didn’t even plan the first days of our stay. We were a little disappointed due to the fact that we could not communicate with people (not even with our now well developed skills in body language) as we wanted to.


    The second time was after some days, when we came back from our trip to the Laos northern region, Muang Sing and the tribal villages. This time we knew what to expect from the town and could enjoy more our short stay there. We found a cheaper guest house, a better place to eat and the information we needed to catch a slow boat to navigate the Mekhong river on the next morning.

  • Crossing the border between Thailand and Laos


    In order to finish earlier with this first part of our trip in Thailand (we will come back in a couple of months to travel the south of the country) we decided to catch a local bus, instead of the usual hitch hicking, from Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong, the northern most border crossing between Thailand and Laos.


    We took a boat to cross the Mekhong river and after a couple of minutes we were waiting for the Lao border officers to finish their bingo game and food to get our 30 day visa for the country. They seem to spend all the money that we tourists pay for the permission to enter the country in that Bingo game because the table where they were playing was full of dollar, euro, baht and kip notes.

    As speculated in some travel guides, the Lao border tends to close for long periods of time every day in order to avoid tourists to catch any of the very few buses to go away from that border town, Huay Xai. So we had to spend the night there and started to get in touch with the Lao culture.

  • Conclusion of Thailand


    Thailand is the preferred destination in Southeast Asia by tourists. Most travellers begin their journey of discovery Asian culture in this fabled country, the perfect balance between East and West. Foreign yet familiar, adventurous, accesible and cheap to chill out in, Thailand has the right blend for backpackers. Although if you are looking for tradition, ancient rhythms of life and untouched places this is not the best country, since tourism has been highly exploted in the last years, specially in the south.


    It is a country in which travelling is very easy: it has a reliable transport that facilitate travelling along the touristic routes, but we have also arrived to off-the-beaten-track places simply by hitching on the roads (Thais are always happy to help you). It is also very cheap for people travelling on a budget. It is easy to find cheap food, accommodation and transport if you shop around for the best prices.

    The two “holy cows” of Thailand are monarchy and religion: Thai people tolerate almost everything provided that none of these two elements are insulted or offended. Thai people love their King and his image is printed in flags, boards, pictures and posters almost in every shop, street, official building and home of the country. They even wear yellow T-shirts, which is the color of the King. The dominant religion in the country is the Buddhism, that’s why it is very common to find orange dressed monks and golden, stone or marble Buddha statues almost everywhere.


    Thai language is very complicated and has its own alphabet but it is worth to learn few words and sentences to be able to communicate with the locals, even if it’s just for fun. The biggest difficulty is that it is a tonal language: the same word can be pronunciated with increasing, decreasing, high, medium or low tone and, in theory, it can have five different meanings!

    In conclusion, we love Thailand and we highly recommend travelling on this country for many reasons. The most important one is Thai people, very kind and welcoming, always with a smile and a great sense of humour. Other reasons are the amazing and still well preserved landscapes, the laid-back atmosphere, the delicious food and the rich culture they have. And this is after travelling just on the north of Thailand, we are so looking forward to get to the south and explore its wonderful beaches and islands. But this will have to wait a few more months (after visiting Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam).


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