Hiking in the Cinque Terre

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Thailand



 
Emerald Buddha inside.

 

I purchased some wooden kitchen utensils for my mother from this lady.


Got a local tour of the river and canals in this long-tail boat.


This is just before we left to go on a five-hour hike.

with our guide and a group of travelers from Germany, New Zealand, Ireland, England and the Czech Republic.

I was walking this leg.

I split my pants getting off of this beast!  The mahout (elephant trainer) had positioned the elephant near a "landing area" so that I could stand up, and then walk backwards down its head.  I placed my shoe between its eyes and pushed off to reach land.  My pants split!  The elephant is 45 years old, and named Hanoi.

I'm in the foreground, on the right. Mirjam is sprawled out next to me. I simply collapsed after walking mile after mile in the hot sun. That Coke can you see in that background...well, that was the most refreshing Coke I have ever had!

Mirjam & Daniella (Germany)

Justin (New Zealand) on my left


On the back raft with me, travelers from the Czech Republic and Germany, plus our guide

German travelers on raft

Katarina (Czech Republic) and me

first village
eating green curry with pork (on rice), followed by fresh pineapple

That's me sitting on the tailgate.  We had gotten covered by dust on the drive!

We had completed the hard part of the adventure.  We were ending the trekking tour just after a dusty ride to a market for lunch.  (L-R)  Alex (Germany), Paul (England), Serena (New Zealand), Fabian (Germany), Sebastian (Germany), Marek (Czech Republic), Katarina (Czech Republic), and Mirjam (Germany)

 Now time for some fun!  That's me with my arms in the air! 
I think that was the first time ever being in a waterfall like that.
w/ Daniella (Germany), Mirjam (Germany), Marianne (Holland), Sabastian (Germany), and Fabian (Germany)

Mirjam

 
Doi Inthanon National Park.  High up in the mountains.
This was the last stop of the trekking tour, organized through Eagle House

Then, off to Koh Tao.

the approach on day one

 

Yes, that's a buffalo (domesticated)!
It was grazing along a rode on the island Koh Tao (Koh in Thai means ISLAND).


w/ Mirjam. 
She, her friend and I had rented motorbikes to get around the island.  We had jumped off for some photos.

Mirjam (on the back), and her friend Codula (Germany)

Mirjam & Codula in their $3 per night bungalow

I was wearing shirt because I was sunburned!  On the island, Koh Tao.


It seemed like as soon as I first talked with ex-pats in Japan, I started hearing, "You must go to Thailand." I found out from my cousin Carol that she and her husband actually lived and worked in the Land of Smiles for a time with an international advertising agency. Anyway, while in Hong Kong, I purchased an airline ticket to Bangkok. At the airport in Bangkok I managed to meet a young lady from Germany and decided it would be best to tag along with her. Her name was Mirjam and she had been to Thailand a couple of times on holiday (vacation for Europeans). Apparently, in Germany, employers are required to give six-week paid vacations to their employees, no matter how long they have been employed. Anyway, that's another subject. I jumped on a bus with Mirjam and made my way to Khao San Road, the backpackers' "paradise" of Southeast Asia. That year, the movie The Beach came out and Leo stayed in a hostel in Khao San before striking out for the "Eden" he had hoped to discover. Mirjam and I shared a hostel that was only $ 4 US per night - Merry V Guest House.  It had a ceiling fan, shared bath and pretty much was no-frills all-around. I was beginning to wonder if this was a paradise! Did I mention how hot Thailand was?!? After a few days in Bangkok and after taking in visits to the Grand Palace and the National Museum, I followed Mirjam on a 12 hour bus ride to Chiang Mai, the cultural capital of the north.  We stayed at Eagle House 2.  In Chiang Mai, I got my first two-hour Thai massage (a mere $7), visited the incredible night bazaar and went on my first-ever trek. This three day hike-raft-elephant ride wore me out! An interesting facet of it was staying in the home of a hill tribe family and eating green pork curry with rice while sitting on the floor of their home. After Chiang Mai, I returned to Bangkok for several days. It was then that I stopped by the Jim Thompson House and Museum and met Kade for the first time. She worked there. I simply gave her an old business card with my new hotmail address. After a few days in Bangkok, I jumped on a bus to make my way south to Koh Tao, an island where Mirjam and one of her friends from Berlin were. I met up with them and enjoyed island life for a week or more. I had a great bungalow ($10 per night) near the beach. While on Koh Tao, I went snorkeling to see sharks (scary), went to a Full Mooon Party (boring) and ate gobs of seafood (yummy). Mirjam and her friend returned to Germany and I was on my way to Malaysia, Thailand's neighbor to the south. However, I definitely hoped to return to Thailand.

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