30 januari 2003

Thailand, Ko Chang

From Beijing to Bangkok

Jan 23 - Jan 30
: Ko Chang

Ko Chang is the second largest island of Thailand (40 kilometers wide) and there are less tourists and is less developed than for example Phuket (Thailand's largest island). It takes about 6 hours by bus and one hour by ferry to reach Ko Chang from Bangkok. For the whole week I stayed in a bungalow at the beach (6 euros) and rented a scooter (only 4 euros per day). Staying at the island was in one word great. The weather was great, the ocean clear and warm, and at Pen's bungalows there was everyday a BBQ on the beach and everyday a party at Sabaybar.

27 januari 2003

Thailand, Ko Chang II

From Beijing to Bangkok

Jan 27
: Khlong Plu waterfall, Ko Chang

These are photos of a waterfall on Ko Chang.

24 januari 2003

Thailand, Bangkok

From Beijing to Bangkok

Jan 20 - Jan 24
:
Bangkok

We stayed in one of the most tourist places in Bangkok, Khaosan road. Despite the traffic and busy streets, it is convenient because of the many opportunities to buy souvenirs. I was also tempted to try the local food... It was really cool and unexpected to meet Tobi (Canada) and Vickey (US) in the middle of Bangkok! We studied together the semester before at the International Division. We hung out for a few days.

23 januari 2003

Thailand, Bangkok II

From Beijing to Bangkok

Jan 23: Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and The Grand Palace, Bangkok

19 januari 2003

Laos, Vang Vieng

From Beijing to Bangkok

Jan 15 - Jan 19: V
ang Vieng

Here we rented bikes (again) and explored some caves.

15 januari 2003

Laos, Luang Prabang

From Beijing to Bangkok

Jan 12 - Jan 15 :
Luang Prabang

The view from Phousy hill was great. We talked with the Buddhist monks there (all men in Laos have to be a monk for three years, usually they are a novice from the age of 15-18) and watched the sun go down. The day after we decided to rent motorbikes (110CC) and go to a waterfall 30 kilometers away from Luang Prabang. On the way back, I had a minor accident with my scooter. (I can always blame it on the side-effects of taking preventive drugs against malaria). (Photo taken with permission.)

12 januari 2003

Laos, Luang Nam Tha

From Beijing to Bangkok

Jan 9 - Jan 12:
Luang Nam Tha

We arrived in Laos and we could finally take our winter coats off for good! We intended to stay between 5-7 days in Laos, but we stayed almost two weeks. In Luang Nam Tha we rented (mountain) bikes to see the waterfall. Laos coffee is great. (Not to mention the cream: I decided to buy a can of cream, but then found out is made by Friesche Vlag in The Netherlands...) Especially with baguettes in the morning, Laos coffee makes a great breakfast! Pigs, chickens and cows walked freely on the street and in houses (not the cows).

7 januari 2003

China, Kunming

From Beijing to Bangkok

Jan 5 - Jan 7 :
Kunming

Since (almost) all restaurants we had been to had their menus in Chinese, we did the following. Either we showed our card with our favorite dishes written in Chinese, or we went in a restaurant, just took the menu and pointed at some dishes randomly. Sometimes we got great food, and sometimes we had the opportunity to take out our cameras and shoot a photo of some Unidentified Eating Objects. In Kunming (Yunnan province) I got 'addicted' to sugarcane.

It took 25 hours to go from Kunming to Menglao. We took the 24-hour sleeper bus, where in the middle of the night somewhere between the China-Laos border the clutch stopped working. There you are, in the middle of the jungle on a road that is barely 5 meters wide and a mile deep cliff to your left. In the meanwhile we had met Jentje (The Netherlands), Mark (Ireland) and Hannah (Australia), so we could share the fun. Ultimately, we could continue with some other people's help (even though our bus driver almost got killed in the process). On our way to the Laos border we stayed in Menglao and went for an evening at a KTV place (Karaoke TV/Chinese noraebang). The next day ealry in the morning we would cross the China-Laos border.

I was glad to have escaped the cold weather in China, but had by the time fallen in love with the country. I definately want to go back, preferably to work there (Shanghai) as an expat for at least a few years.

5 januari 2003

China, Yangshuo

From Beijing to Bangkok

Jan 3 - Jan 5:
Yangshuo


After a week in China I learned to say (wu) ting budong: "I do not understand." Practically all Chinese (and people from Laos and Thailand) approached me in their native language. In Yangshuo we met a lot of English teachers from Europe, The US and other countries. On a population of 300.00 people, there were 300 schools teaching English and hiring (graduated) students from English speaking countries.

The scenery around Yangshuo is beautiful - the Chinese call it the most beautiful scenery in the world, so went on a boat trip. The Lonely Planet says that some tourists do it for 500 Yuan, but if you bargain you can make it 250. We went for just 50...

2 januari 2003

China, Guilin

From Beijing to Bangkok

Dec 30 - Jan 2:
Guilin

It is worth mentioning that everytime we stepped out of a bus/train station, there was an army of ajumma's (Korean word for middle-aged women) chasing us, trying to persuade us to stay in their hostels. When you go with one of them, sometimes they can offer you a good deal as long as you bargain hard enough (we were there during the low-season, so it was easier for us). Seeing palm trees in China was quite a surprise. But there they were, in the middle of Guilin (Guangxi province). Guilin is a laid-back town with even a Meditarranean atmosphere - and spirit... In Guilin we went to the Solitary Beauty Park and on New Year's Eve we went to a Chinese disco.