Monday, October 17, 2016

Biking in Bangkok

Bang Krachao, Bangkoks green lung biking tour

If you love to be active but have seen all of the tourist highlights of Bangkok a biking tour at Bang Krachao might be something for you. And the best thing is you can arrange it all by your self.




Bang Krachao is the green lung of Bangkok. It's like an peninsula in the south of Bangkok across the Chao Praya river. There are no high rises or traffic jams but quiet roads and local communities set in a lush green environment. The best way to explore this part of Bangkok is by bike. Check out this blog on how to get there and what to do.

How to get there

Get to the nearest MRT station and go to queen sirikit station. From there walk to the South to Rama IV road. There are stairs to cross the big road. On the opposite side Klong Toei market starts, which also makes for a very nice day trip. On the roadside take a motorbike taxi and say you want to go to the pier at Klong Toei temple (wat Kloeng Toei). I paid 30 bht for the ride which takes about 5 minutes. The motorbike taxi will drop you off at the pier. 



At het pier there is a sign of M-bikes. Just point at it and say you want to go there. They will either drop you of at Bang Krachao pier or the pier where M-bikes is located. Don't worry, both places rent out bikes so you will be fine. I did not have to pay for the boat ride as I rented a bike, the fare normally is 10 bht.



Renting a bike


As said at both piers there are bikes for rent. Renting for a whole day sets you back 80 bht. It's also possible to rent is for a few hours or half a day. Make sure you have a copy of your ID at hand or 1000 bht deposit. The lady I rented my bike gave me a free small bottle of water, make sure to bring a bigger one also as you will sweat a lot. Money in small notes is also recommended as not everyones has change from 1000 bht.





Explore the green lung of Bangkok


There are signs which you can follow but I'm not sure if its a route. I did try to follow the signs and it took me on an elevated small path through some lush jungle and swamp like environment. It's really fun to explore and see the skyline of Bangkok from a different angle. I also came across a big park which is named Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park And Botanical Garden. You are free to bike around the park.

As I had no map I just followed the road and had lunch at some local place. I turned back after a few hours as it started to rain but otherwise it makes up for a great half day or full day cycling trip. 



Monday, September 19, 2016

Evergreen resort on Chaweng beach

Location

Evergreen resort Chaweng beach, Koh Samui is a medium sized resort. There are rooms in the main building and bungalows near the swimming pool available. The resort is located at a soi just back from the main road in the centre of Chaweng. Because of the location it's just 2 minutes walking to central plaza shopping centre but very quiet.



Rooms

The rooms are clean and have a large balcony. The bed is a bid on the hard side but enough space for 2 persons. In the corner of the room is a big closet to store your clothes and suitcase. Opposite the bed is a small desk with facilities to make your own cup of coffee or tea and a fridge. A bottle of free drinking water is provided each day. There is also a small TV in the room. 

The bathroom is good with enough space to get around and have a nice shower. To get to the beach you'll have to follow a narrow path via a connecting resort. It's about 200 meters through a beautiful garden.



Price

I paid about 30 euros for the room. Given the location it's a decent price but for better facilities and luxury you'll have pay more in Chaweng.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Simple life resort Koh Tao

Location

Almost opposite the 7-11 at the heart of Sairee beach you will find Simple life resort. It's a fairly large resort with good facilities. All rooms are located a bit from the main street so you will not be disturbed at night by the party people. But still the beach is just a few minutes away!


Facilities

The hotel has a large restaurant and bar located at the main street. From here you can enjoy your meal or drink while watching the business of the small island. A bit tucked away from the road is the reception area. I was welcomed with a big smile and checking only took a few minutes.


Just behind the reception a lush garden hides the swimming pool and the building with rooms. Even though it's a rather big hotel it is quiet. 


Rooms

The rooms are large and nicely decorated. There is a large double bed, a desk with fridge and a large closet to tuck away your backpack and clothes. The closet had a safe to store valuables. My room even had a small sitting area inside the room and a big balcony which also had a small table and 2 chairs.



The hotel is very close to the beach. It's just a few minutes to catch some great sunsets while sipping on a drink and listening to some tunes. The beach is packed with restaurants and bars and every night there is a great fire show. Just behind the beach and close to the hotel there is a small area with lots of shops, bars and restaurants. This makes Sairee beach a great place to relax and party.




Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Furama exclusive Asoke hotel


Location

The hotel is located within a two-minute walk to the two train stations - Asoke and Sukhumvit - that connect the BTS (aboveground) and MRT (underground) train systems. Being in the business district makes it easily accessible for guests to get around the hotel. 

Shopping centres such as Robinsons, Terminal 21 and the Emporium are within walking distance, placing shopping, food and entertainment at close vicinity. Venturing further out is made simple by using the BTS skytrain – Siam Central station, which is only four stops away, is linked by skybridges to the Siam Paragon, Siam Centre shopping malls and Siam Square.

Just left to the hotel is a great place for food. It's a local restaurant which sells street food but offer seating under a roof. 




The rooms

The 102 stylishly furbished guest rooms are spacious and equipped with comfortabel bed, tv and stereo set, minibar with coffee and tea and other amenities.

The bed was perfect. It's large and the mattress soft so sleeping is no problem at all. The bathroom is a bit on the small side with a shower in the bathtub.

The room also comes with a large balcony but unfortunately there is no view as it's blocked by another building. 

On top of the building there are 2 whirlpools and a fitness area. It's nicely decorated with some plants.



Price

I was lucky to book the room with the credits I had earned via Agoda. Therefore I did not have to pay the full price. As the hotel is located in the heart of the business district prices are on the higher end around 2000 to 3000 baht.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Crocodile farm Bangkok Samut Prakarn

Crocs, crocs and crocs...

Spending a few days in Bangkok is fun. The city has a lot to offer to tourist or frequent visitors. Beautiful temples, the royal palace, river cruise or biking around town, you have much choice how to spend your day. But one thing is sure you will be accompanied by a lot of other tourist. So if you want to avoid the mainstream spots and all the crowds try to make a trip over to the crocodile farm in Samut Prakarn.



How to get there

Samut Prakarn is on the outskirts of Bangkok, a bit below Suvarnabhumi airport. To reach the crocodile farm you can take a taxi anywhere in Bangkok. I guess a metered taxi will cost around 300 to 500 bht. A more convenient way is to take the BTS to Bearing station and from there take a taxi which will cost an additional 120 bht depending on traffic. Currently the BTS line is being extended so in the future the last part by taxi will be much shorter causing the trip to get there to be more easy.


What to expect

The entrance to the crocodile farm is 300 bht. It's not cheap but the crocodile show is without admission. And this show is one of the highlights of the visit!!


Besides the show you can walk around the cages that hold the crocs and walk over some kind of bridge to see a huge amount of crocodiles in a big artificial lake. And these animals are really huge and impressive. Beside crocs they als keep other animals like parrots and tigers but it's not that impressive and a bit sad to see.

All in all this place is great to visit. You can easily spend a few hours watching and feeding these monsters so it will be a great half day or full day trip.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Diving at White rock Koh Tao


If you say "diving" and "Thailand" Koh Tao is one of the places in Thailand to visit. Koh Tao is a small island in the gulf of Thailand and famous for its dive spots. Most of these spots are close to the island and in shallow waters so it's the perfect place to get you PADI and explore the ocean.


The main beach of Koh Tao is Sairee beach. The place is packed with hostels and guesthouses and lots of places to eat and drink. Every accommodation can hook you up with a dive school so you can get an introduction to diving or enlist in a 4 day course to get your PADI. 





Getting your PADI is cheap in Koh Tao. For around 8k to 10k bht you can join a 4 day course which teaches you the basics in diving. And you will explore the underwater world directly.



Boats will bring you to diving spots around the island. Lots of coral and fish can be spotted and the water is clear so visibility is great. The below video shows white rock.From the surface you can see the bottom of the ocean which is 10 meters below. Slowly swimming to white rock of which the top is just below the surface. Lots of divers at the bottom practicing for their PADI and having fun.



One of the places providing quality PADI courses in different languages is coral grand. It's a nice resort at the beach but also has a large diving school with good facilities. One of their dive masters is a Dutchmen called Perry, he is the nicest person ever. Just check out their website for more information.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Hooters bar Bangkok

Bangkok is famous for its nightlife. From high end clubs, sky bars for smaller or bigger wallets, to backpacker cafes and the infamous agogo bars, you can all find it in the city. Not so long ago the American branch of Hooters also opened in Bangkok and they now have two locations in the city.


You can find one branch on Sukhumvit soi 4 just opposite of Nana Plaza. The other branch is on Sukhumvit soi 15 near Asoke. Each location has some pretty girls serving drinks and food and at certain times also perform a small group dance to entertain the clients. 

The menu mainly list burgers and wings in different sizes and flavors but in general the food is of good quality. Several draft beers can be ordered and another number of bottled beers are available. Also liquor and shots are sold.


Patong beach also has a Hooters branch. Last time I visited they had a charity event for homeless children. For a donation the Hooter girls will wash your bike which attracted lots of people during the day. Some really nice bikes were present. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Road turns into river


Thailand is a tropical country which means most of the time it's hot and now and then large amounts of rain can fall in a short period of time. Especially the South of Thailand receives a lot of rain.


When it's the rainy season always be prepared when leaving your house of hotel. Take a raincoat or umbrella with you but don't expect to stay completely dry unless you can take shelter.

The sewer system also has to cope with the large downpours and as the infrastructure is not always the best floodings are not rare. The below video was shot at Kata beach on Phuket island. While having a drink it started to rain and within minutes the road turned into a river.



Thursday, May 12, 2016

Pattaya North bus station

When in Pattaya and you need transportation to Bangkok there are a few possibilities. 
Taking a private taxi, minivan or bus are the most common ways to travel but there also is the possibility to take the train although it's not advised. The bus is one of the most convenient and cheapest ways to travel.



There are many busses, about 3 an hour, leaving for Bangkok Ekkemai station. But also a few to Bangkok Morchit and southern terminal. The trip to Ekkemai will take about 2 hours for 119 bht.  Busses have AC and are comfortable enough for the 2 hour trip. 




Thursday, May 5, 2016

4 islands day trip Koh Lanta

When holidaying on Koh Lanta one of the best day trips to make is a full-day excursion  the southern islands of Koh Lanta. After a pick up by van or truck a long-tail boat will be waiting for you at the port in the old town.



On this trip 4 islands will be visited including the famous Emerald cave at Koh Muk. The entrance of this cave is only accessible by boat during low tide. Best is to just jump in the ocean and swim through the 80 meters long cave. Guides with torches will assist you as is pitch black in the middle of the cave. At the end of the cave you will find paradise, a gorgeous white beach totally surrounded by steep cliffs covered in jungle vegetation.



The beautiful Koh Krahdan is a nice place to have lunch. The island houses just a few resorts and is surrounded by clear waters with magnificent corals making it a perfect place for snorkeling. 

On the way back to Koh Lanta the boat will make a stop close to Koh Ngai. Take a swim to cool off or put your mask on for some fish spotting.  Between Koh Muk and Koh Ngai are the small rocky islands of Koh Cheuk and Koh Maa which also offer great snorkeling opportunities.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

RetrOasis hotel Bangkok

Conveniently located on Sukhumvit Road between soi 27 and 29 you will find the RetrOasis hotel. It's tucked away from the busy Sukhumvit road therefore quiet but still in the middle of all the action.

 
The hotel provides 63 rooms all decorated nicely in a funky retro design. Size of the rooms is ok, not to small with good bathroom. Rooms come with mini fridge and water cooker for tea or coffee.  All the rooms are located around a court yard which gives it an intimate feeling. Here you can also find the swimming pool and reception.


The hotel provides breakfast at the small coffee corner in the same building as the reception is located. It has a small living room atmosphere to relax and order some nice coffee during the day.

About 5 minutes walk will bring you either to the Emporium shopping malls. This area is known for it's fashion boutiques and boosts some of the biggest names in the industry. Walking the other way brings you to Asoke with easy access to the rest of Bangkok via BTS and MRT.

My stay in 2015 was for 2 nights for about 1250 baht per night. Early check inn is provided at an additional rate.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Fresh cuttlefish

Thailand is famous for its seafood. Large tiger prawns and lobsters are displayed on ice in every village or towns restaurant along the coast. Also at local markets you can buy lots of seafood. Together with spicy sauce and a cold beer every seafood meal is a feast.



One of the stranger creatures of the sea is cuttlefish. Fresh it looks like a slimy scary thing with its large eyes and tentacles. But cooked over hot coals or boiled it's delicious. The texture of the meat is great with the first bite being firm but at the same time like soft fishy meat. It is at all not chewy unless not prepared the right way.

How do you know when cuttlefish is fresh? Well just watch the below video. This one came right out of the ocean and ready to be put on BBQ.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Thai love having fun

When you have visited Thailand a few times you will probably have noticed these small places of typical Thai entertainment. On a small piece of bare ground a few stalls are placed, it looks like a mini fair. You can throw darts at balloons for a few baht and go home with a lovely teddy bear. 




Also catching fish with a small spoon made of rice paper together with a small cup to keep your fish is popular. As soon as the rice paper hits the water it will disintegrate and become useless so you can only dip once. 5 baht per shot, the Thai love it!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Trek from Thong Nai Pan yai to Than Sadet, Koh Phangan

So there you are at Koh Phangan having fun at the full moon party, half moon party, black moon party and all the other excuses to have a drink. Having fun with your new friends is a great way to spend time on this magnificent island. But sooner or later you might want to get active and the island offers some great tracks.


One of them is the hike from Than Sadet to Thong Nai Pan beach or vice versa. The distance is about 3,5 kilometers and your going from sea level up to about 200 meters and back down to sea level.



Make sure to brink a rucksack with at least one liter of water, some sunscreen and put on a hat and some good shoes. The track is a dirt path which is steep at some parts and sometimes covered in vegetation. I made this roundtrip in May and it was very hot even in early morning. One way took me just over an hour but if you take some time to rest and maybe spot some lizards you can do it in 1 hour 30 minutes.


At Thong Nai Pan beach you can probably rent a long tail boat for the trip back to Than Sadet or another beach.



Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fried ice cream

Ever tried fried ice cream? You did not know it even existed? Well you will be amazed by what this Thai company developed!



You can find these little street carts more and more in Thailand selling what seems like fried ice cream rolls. It's really fun to watch how they prepare your ice cream!



All is made directly on the spot with fresh milk and different ingredients to choose from like fruit, nuts or chocolate. It is mixed with the milk and poured on a freezing cold plate which sort of fries the mix into ice cream. The cook will come into action with his spattles showing his skills. Within 2 minutes it's done and a topping of your choice will be added to make it complete.




Thursday, March 24, 2016

Above Eleven rooftop bar

Above Eleven is a rooftop bar and restaurant on the 33 rd floor of the Fraser Suites Sukhumvit in Sukhumvit Soi 11. Every day doors open at 6 pm until 2 am. The entrance is at the back of Fraser suites.

The bar and restaurant are surrounded by many other large office and residential towers but still provides a great view of Bangkok. Especially when the sun sets and Bangkok turns on its lights. The rooftop bar is split in two levels so make sure to visit the top one for the best views. And don't forget to visit the toilets, when you do you know why!



When I visited the place I was seated next to the glass fence. You could look over it and look straight down 33 floors which did not feel quite that safe. The food was very nice with reasonable portions. Enjoying the view while having a drink is great. As the place is popular with locals and tourists be sure to make reservations.

Dress Code: a semi-casual dress code policy is strictly enforced. For gentlemen, dress shorts are permitted but no sleeveless shirts and closed shoes only.



Thursday, March 17, 2016

Two Three Mansion serviced apartments

Two Three Mansion is a deluxe boutique serviced apartment in the premier residential area of Sukhumvit Road, offering 42 well-appointed rooms in a friendly, tranquil atmosphere. The buildings is tucked away in a small alley but still within close distance of Sukhumvit road, just wave down a motorbike taxi and it will take 2 minutes to get there. 




The apartment I stayed in had a large living room with a small kitchen in the corner. Big fridge, stove, microwave and water cooker with coffee and tea are provided. Attached to the living room is the bedroom with big bed and separate bathroom with shower and bath. 



Both rooms have a separate airconditioning unit and balcony with great views. Unfortunately the furniture in the room is a bit outdated. I paid around 1500 bht for the room which is a bit on the high end for the room itselve but given the location and quiet neighborhood it's ok. The building also has a swimming pool and gym which are free to use for guests.



Thursday, March 10, 2016

Taxi boat Koh Phangan

At the North of Koh Phangan lies the small town Chaloklum. It's an old fishing town with some nice restaurants and a few hotels. Viva on the beach is a nice hotel with a big rooftop terrace for great views of the bay.



Just in front of the hotel is a pick up point for the taxi boat to Bottle beach and Thong Nai Pan beach. To Bottle beach it's a fixed price of 200 baht per person, boat leaves with 3 people or more. Mainly in the morning many tourists who discover the island by motorbike end up at this spot for a half day trip to Bottle beach. Usually you can leave within 30 minutes.



Thursday, March 3, 2016

Mysterious Myanmar


What makes Myanmar so special? Is it the beauty of it’s nature, the diversity and kindness of it’s people or the fact that it has been rather inaccessible for decades? Whatever it is Myanmar is worth a visit!

Back in December 2006 I had the pleasure of making a round trip of 2 weeks. Since that time the political and economical environment has changed for the better. It’s just a matter of time before mass tourism will discover this country. So if you want to avoid the masses and experience the real Myanmar it’s best to make plans now.



Thursday, February 25, 2016

Wat Kao Huan Jook Koh Samui

Staying on Koh Samui and want to visit a temple which is not crowded by tourists? Then you should visit Wat Kao Huan Jook. The temple is located in Chaweng on a small hill close to Chaweng lake and the airport, Q-bar is located on the same hill just below the temple. When staying in Chaweng you could probably visit it by foot but the easiest way is to just rent a motorbike and pay a visit while exploring the island.




What's so great about this temple are the magnificent views of Chaweng beach and Chaweng lake on the south side and at the north end you can watch the airplanes depart and arrive at Samui airport while in the far distance the island of Koh Phangan covers the horizon.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Crazy Thai traffic

So what would you do? A train is approaching and the crossing gates are about to close. A guy is holding a red flag to warn traffic of the approaching train and lowers the barriers slowly. Stop and wait for the train to pass would be logic and make the most sense. Why risk your life just to gain another 20 meters in traffic??? 


Well not in Thailand!! If there's an open spot to slip through the barriers and pass in front of the train, well let's use that opportunity! Watch  this crazy video and see how motorbikes but also the pedestrian at the end jumps in front of the train.



Friday, February 12, 2016

Train from Khon Kaen to Khorat

Traveling by train through Thailand is a lot of fun. You meet local people and enjoy some nice scenery. And it’s cheap!!! But for this you have to travel 3rd class and during daytime.

I made a trip from Udonthani to Khorat, straight through the rural part of Thailand with a stopover at Khon Kaen. The early train leaves Khon Kaen at 8.00 and takes about 4 hours to get to Khorat. I believe the ticket was about 38 baht. Along the way it will stop at several tiny villages surrounded by lots of rice fields and sugar plantations. 

The below two videos cover the second leg of the trip from Khon Kaen to Khorat. Both are large Thai cities in a part of Thailand which is called Esaan. This part of Thailand is non touristy and way cheaper then Bangkok. Little English is spoken and the food is sometimes unrecognizable!






Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thai boxing Lamai beach

Staying in Lamai beach, Koh Samui and want to have some fun at night. Check out the Thai boxing event held every Saturday night. In the center of Lamai beach, just across the MacDonalds, there is a cluster of about 15 beer bars and right in the middle is a boxing ring. Every week on Saturday a boxing contest is organized with free seating! Make sure to be there in time as it can fill up quite quickly.




Watching the game from one of the bars is fun. There even are boxing matches for ladies and they sure know how to kick. The girls in the bars like to watch the match and cheer for their favorite. Sipping on your drink it's nice to soak up the atmosphere.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Loy Krathong parade

When you are interested in a great festival you should visit Chiang Mai during November. During this month Loy Krathong will be celebrated. Loy Krathong is one of the biggest festivals in Thailand and celebrated on a large scale in Chiang Mai. For the exact date check the internet as it coincides with the full moon in November, which is on a different date each year. The festivities are usually spread over 2 or 3 days and consist of the floating of the small krathongs in the river, the release of many sky lanterns and a large parade.



The parade starts at Thapae gate when the sun sets. All participants of the parade gather at the gate to line up. They are dressed in traditional costumes which is really nice to see. Big carts and music are part of the parade. During this line up it's a good moment to take pictures and meet with the people. They are very open and will pose for pictures or explain about Loy Krathong.

A good spot to watch the parade is near Thapae Gate, but they also pass the night bazaar. All along the road it is busy but you can still find some quiet spots to watch it all.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Flight to Udonthani

How to get to Udonthani? Basically there are 3 options available. Go by bus, train or plane. The distance is about 600 kilometers so one would guess taking the train or bus will take about 7 hours. Well guess again. 

Although traveling by train is fun I would not advice to use it to cover large distances. For me 3 to 4 hours by train is the max. Also because the train is notorious for is delays. However it is the cheapest option available, especially when buying a third class ticket. To summarize the train will take at least 12 hours but will cost about 250 baht.

Next option is the bus. Lot's of busses will leave from Morchit bus station to Udon during the day. Prices will be around 500 baht and travel time 8 hours. But Thai roads are busy so a traffic jam is still possible and the driver might be awake on red bull for the whole journey. 

Leaves us with flying. There are a few discount airlines operating in Thailand. Nok air and AirAsia both fly to Udonthani for a reasonable price. Trip takes roughly 1 hour and leaves from Don Mueang airport.



Saturday, January 23, 2016

Mount Everest trek

The trek to Mount Everest is one of the classic treks in Nepal. Since the beginning of the fifties, this has been a popular destination, initially for the climbers and later for walkers who like to see with their own eyes the highest mountain of the world. It is not surprising that this area in Nepal is best developed. It has a reasonable tourist infrastructure. People are used to westerners and there are good opportunities for people to eat at home or in lodges. The Sherpa`s, the residents of the area have become world famous through thevarious expeditions through their perseverance, humor and openness. Through their many contacts with the “outside world” the Sherpa`s are well developed and well aware of the things that are outside of Nepal. The Sherpa`s are Buddhist and you will certainly be able to visit one of those mystical monasteries.




Our trek


Our trek starts with a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. It’s a bit scary as the plane is small (about 20 persons) and the landing trip at Lukla is positioned on the side of a mountain at 2800 meters . In 2 days we walk from Lukla to Namche Bazar, located at 3500 meters altitude. In Namche Bazaar we stay 2 nights to get used to the altitude.
From Namche Bazaar we walk to Tengboche at 3860 meters altitude. Especially the second part of the trek to Tengboche is hard as we need to climb a steep slope. One you reach the top you arrive in Tengboche and its famous monastery.
After Dingboche the path brings us to Lobuche at 4910 meters. Lobuche lies next to the big Khumbu glacier which originates at Mount Everest. By now our bodies get tired of the intensive walks each day, the cold and the thin air. But the views are magnificent, it’s really unbelievable to see all these mountains from close by. Lucky for us we are also near the end point of the trek.
The next day we will reach the village of Gorak Shep (5164 meter). This will be the highest place of the trek where we will sleep. From Gorak Shep you can walk to Everest base camp and see the mighty Khumba icefall. You can also climb Kala Patar (5600 meter) to have the best view ever. From the top of this hill you have an astonishing view off all surrouding mountains and glaciers. It’s a view to die for.
 How to arrange a trek
We arranged our trek with a local guide. I met him a few years ago and since that time did 3 treks. As he is familiar with many treks and has a goverment permit it’s rather comfortable to let him arrange all kind of matters. It’s also a bit cheaper compared to a booking via an agency as all parties in between like to make a profit.

It’s difficult to mention prices as each year this will change due to inflation and exchange rate fluctuations. For those interested please drop me an email and I bring you in contact with the guide we hired.