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.



Friday, January 22, 2016

Thai National Anthem

The Monarchy is serious business in Thailand and so is the National Anthem. Thai children are raised with these values and as a tourist you should not mock these. 

2 Times a day the national anthem plays, at 8 am and 6 pm. Be it at schools, the cinema or other public places, the Thai will stand still for a minute and expect you to do so too.

When visiting the busy Sunday night bazaar in Chiang Mai all of a sudden the national anthem blasted out of speakers. Thai and tourist alike stopped for a minute and went silent. It shows the respect and proud of this nation.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport is one of the biggest airports in the world. It a HUB for South East Asia and handles international and some domestic flights.

When getting out of the plane just follow the signs 'immigration' and make sure you have filled out the arrival card which has been handed out in the plane. At immigration they make a photo of you and keep part of the arrival card. Make sure to store the other part of the arrival card (departure card) as you need it when leaving the country. Just behind immigration you find the luggage belts.

From here there are 2 options to get into town. Take a taxi or public transport. With the airport rail link (ARL) leaving the airport at the basement it's a quick and cheap option to get to downtown Bangkok. The ARL has connections to the skytrain and metro.

Taking a taxi is a good option outside of the rush hour. Leaving the airport a 50 baht surcharge is applied on the meter rate. Including express way fees you can reach most tourist parts of Bangkok for about 300 to 400 baht.



Saturday, January 16, 2016

Taxi destinations and prices

In a lot of taxis in Bangkok there is a laminated piece of paper hanging from the passenger seat with destinations and prices. Always handy but probably not when you notice it. And back home when you want to find out what the fare would be to a certain destination you can't remember the prices. Well just check out this video.


When using a taxi make sure to always ask the driver to put on the meter. Negotiating a fixed price is almost always more expensive. If the driver does not want to use the meter just get out and find another taxi. There are so many driving around that it will not take much time to find one who will use the meter. Also if your using a taxi and do not feel safe just write down the number of the taxi which you can find on the inside of the passenger doors.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

One minute pancake

Walking by the little souvenir stalls along the street you catch that nice smell of pancakes. Although you're not hungry it's always time for a quick snack in Thailand. You follow the smell and soon enough you bumb into a small street cart. 

A Thai lady has different kinds of fruit and condiments lay out in het cart while some kind of batter is baking on a hot plate. Soon she puts pieces of a banana on the roti and bakes it for a few more seconds. Then the grand finally arrives when she pours a chocolate dressing of the roti which is filled with warm banana. The best Thai street dessert!


Sunday, January 10, 2016

A night out in Khon Kaen


Walking around Khon Kaen during the day and it just looks like any other average Thai city. There are a few touristy highlights and at the start of the evening night markets pop up. After filling your belly with an excellent Thai meal and ready to enjoy some drinks and music you should head over to the area of the Pullman and Kosa hotel.


Just across the Pullman are a few western orientated bars like Erics and Leo's bar. You will find the expats meeting up in these places and the odd tourist. All is laid back and not to be compared with Bangkok but still nice for a good night out. Also visit the German beer bar in the basement of the Pullman hotel. They have 2 large boilers just behind the bar and brew there own German beer! It's tasteful and all is set in a German atmosphere.


About 5 minutes walk from the Pullman hotel is Pracha Samran Road with lots of Thai orientated nightlife. Big clubs like U-bar and Boss Time are on this road. Music is of course very loud and the clientele are mostly Thai in the age of 20-25.

Bike for dad

The Thai like to be together, love to party and adore the Monarchy. To celebrate the 88th birthday anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol they prepared a mass bicycle ride called on December 5th 'Bike for Dad'.

Many weeks in advance large groups of cyclist prepare for the upcoming event. I came across such an event in Khorat, a large city at the gate of Esaan. In the middle of the city at the Yamo statue every gathered for a test ride.

Looks like a lot of fun and it's quite an achievement given the heat and burning sun.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sayang beach resort koh lanta

Sitting directly on the beach within lush tropical gardens at the quiet, northern end of Long Beach, this family-run resort enjoys the shelter of traditional coconut and pine jungle, providing a calm and relaxing sanctuary for those looking to escape from busy lives back home.

26 carefully designed, cosy bungalows are just a few steps from the beautiful powder-white sands of Long Beach, with fantastic views of Phi Phi island and some of the most spectacular sunsets on the Andaman Sea. A perfect setting for those wishing to relax on the beach.

I booked a bungalow with garden view and aircon for 1400 bht in 2014. This was one of the cheapest available and included breakfast.



Saturday, January 2, 2016

Khlong saen saep

Khlong saen saep is a canal running through Bangkok from East to West. It ends, or starts near Wat Saket otherwise known as the golden mount temple. This temple is about a 15 minute walk from Khao San road.



Large boats run on the khlong providing easy acces to the big shopping malls at Siam square but also to Makkasan station. The boats on this route are mainly used by locals who commute to their jobs. Tickets are cheap and lot's of boats are on this khlong. Check out their website for more information on the schedule and fairs.