Report 5: Indonesia part II
Lesser and Greater Sunday island and Java 15. 10.2012 - 08.11.2012
We are on a run. Now we can imagine what makes Indonesia and its islands to such a wide spread countrie.
It's kind of a huzzle, but we are enjoying it as much as we can. After crossing Borneo,Kalimantan the third biggest island of this world, we made our way through Sulawesi and facing the southern region just know. From east to west, jumping from the Lesser Sundas and Greater Sunda island. And here we are
Welcome to Bali
The island with all it's glamour,partylife, traditions and cultural enlightenment. A famous place for tourist, spiritually or nature loving people. We decided to dive the most famous wreck in
southeast Asia, the U.S.S Liberty. After arriving the eastcoast of Bali we took a hard right and travelled
up north to Tulamben. A small village, packed with resorts and diveshops. The famous 120m long cargo ship sunk in 1942 and lays just 50m off shore. It's full of different corals and its mostly fallen apart. Besides this phenomenal dive, Tulamben can't compete with the rest of Asia worldclass diving. After a couple of chilled out days, we headed down south. To Kuta, a place for which a few people had warned us. Party, nightlife, expensive shops and more tourist than stars could be found on that clear blue sky. Nevertheless, we managed to find a lovely homestay owned by a friendly lady. After staying in Kuta we have to admit, we are more than happy that we stopped at this beach magnet. We tried to surf. And it was fun, exhausting and a big success for us to stand the waves a few times. Waves are coming in 24/7, different level. Having a beer, a hot corn on the corb and our day was fullfilled. But there was also another reason which made Kuta for us to an enjoyable place. The international film festival "Balinale", held on the 22.10.2012 to the 28.10.2012. We watched a German movie and an Indonesian one. We felt very comfortable in that new and cosy cinema.
Eating damn good sweet caramel popcorn to a brilliant movie. Classic. The best part of it was, the winning of one of the door prizes by participating in a draw with our tickets. A brand new bicycle helmet. The perfect sign and start for our last discipline in New Zealand. We are getting sorted. Slowly. With the surfing experience and the helmet in the bag we started a 12 hours busride further west. Destination Java, our last island of the more than 15 weeks of crossing southeast Asia.
Our destinations for this last bit of tropical idyllic we have chosen were Mt. Bromo, Yogyakarta and the capital Jakarta. It was like going from a natural highlight, passing the batik-metropole
Yogya and get cought
in the smog enclave Jakarta. Each of this places has its on memorable story. Mt. Bromo, one of the active volcanoes around here has impressed with a unique landscape. On an moon like region, dusty and quiet died out, the 2700m high summit states strong in his crater and mountainous surrounding. At 4pm we started to climb a view point close by to see this volcano in a harmless sunrise. The colour of the sky changed from dark night to a lighter grey or blue before a warm typ of orange was filling the atmosphere. All the peaks in the
background and of course the Mt Bromo infront of us has been touched by the sun. A play of unbelievable colours and incomprehensible shapes and structures were exploding in our focus. Half an hour later we are right on top of this place. We climbed the steep stairs to the summit of Mt Bromo. We were just looking into
this hole of rising smoke and smelly sulphur when this thoughts came up,this place is ready to erupt every single minute. Wow! A few hundreds or thousands meters deeper in the ground there is a destroying substance which can form this area into a silent yard. A scenery full of energy. This was an fascinating day
Yogyakarta instead was less thrilling but still worth to see. Handicrafts especially the well known batik technique are shown here at each corner. We also discovered a fruit
market after long time. Recharged our
batteries and got ready for the last long journey.
Busride to Jakarta
Instead of 12 hours it took us 20. A disaster we were used to after spending that much time in Indonesia. Without any complaining or frustration we reached the metropole with more than 9 million people living there. A hell of a chaos. Smog is covering the sky, no sun is getting through. Skyscraper are dominating the view. Cars driving in an stop and go modus on up to 5 lanes. People wandering or sitting at the side of the road. This is the peak of all movements and uncontrolled behavior within the last weeks. We are more than happy to find a shelter in a friends apartment.
At Hannahs small room in the center of Jakarta we found privacy and space to hide. How important is this after a long intense journey in Asia. Hannah, thanks so much for your time and the room. What else happened in Jakarta? Thomas's credit card got stolen, we bought more cycling equipment like cushioned pants and proper bike shirts. This was also the last place for us to enjoy fresh fruits and drinks with affordable prices. Avocado shake to go please!
And off we go to the airport, stressy check in, trouble with the visa for Ausustralien, no money for the airport fee, back to the ATM and just before the gates close we are getting through the
doors. Fasten your
seatbelt we are about to start to Perth, western Australia.
Report 4: Indonesien part I
Indonesia, Kalimantan 03.10.2012 - 09.10.2012
We applied for the Indonesia Visa on 03.10.2012 in Tawau (Malaysia) and were able to pick them up four hours later. We took the ferry towards the Indonesian border. After about an hour we reached the Indonesian island Nunukan on which we had to spend a night. Indonesia also welcomes us with a friendly smile, accompanied by chaos and a great crowd on the jetty. The people greet us with "Hello Mr." and "How are you?". On the island we are a kind of attraction for them.
At the boarder controll not only our passports, but also vaccination cards and bags are checked. In the control case, we have the feeling that the police were not looking for something specific, such as weapons, drugs and anything else, it was just curiosity we guess.
When exploring Nunukan we meet a nice policeman, who invites us for dinner. For the first time we try the traditional soup "Bakso", which tastes very nice. A meal that we would recommend to anyone. After a god feast and good conversation we set the search for a bank to fill our wallets. With 2.5 million Rupiah ( 1 Euro = 12000 Rph) we left the ATM when we are suddenly caught in a heavy rain fall. We run as fast as we can and just get completely soaked after 15 minutes of running at the hostel. What a stormy, but a exciting evening in Nunukan!
The next morning (4th of october 2012), we continued our journey. For four hours, we took a small ferry to Tarakan where we change to another ferry to the mainland. After another 3 hours boat ride we reached Tanjung Selor. Again, frantic people are waiting for us. A little bit exhausted, we decide to continue the journey with a private car, instead of a minibus. Because they are not avilable for this route to Samarinda, about 500 km from Tanjung Selor. A 24 hour drive was the next adventure waiting for us. We get on with four other fellow passengers and are curious whas gone happen. We quickly become some ideas: This is a brutal tale. We note that there are no belts, but loud and stressful music, and a lack of space and many ants. Plus: Where is the second driver who would be necessary for a 24 hour drive? We do not know what we should be more worried about.
And all calculations in the head about the distance and travel time do not make sense until we saw the road conditions. The word "street" we canceled totally. A gravel road across the rainforest awaited us two travelers. An S-bend follows the next, it goes up and down more often than on a roller coaster, plus combined with potholes and rocks that make us jump on the seats. Welcome to Kalimantan! We encounter pain in head and elbows. The hand cramps from trying to hold on in the so-called “fear grip” on the ceiling. We begin to develop feelings for a car for the first time in life. The poor car! We are touching grounds a few times, very violently and frequently. That the material can stand such burden is incredible. Nevertheless, we have to stop soon. The first tire seems to let out air. Very optimistically air is pumped up. This won’t work long. One hour later we have then picked up the jack. It's midnight, pitch dark and we are in the middle of nowhere. The flat tire is quickly changed by much of a routine. A few miles later we stopped again. The brakes are hot and smell suspiciously. Meanwhile, the driver arrives at his physical limits. Actually we do not think of sleep, due to the road conditions. But the driver, did somehow. Elly noticed, that the driver fights against the feeling of fatigue behind his steering wheel. He sniffs at a strangely smelling cloth, holds his head out the window, punches himself in the face. His head nods now and then forward. For us, it is too sensitive. I signaled him to stop and sleep. I could continue driving. Not a chance. We are really queasy. The driver creeps at walking pace and can not keep track. We try it in a different way "toilet, toilet." It works and he holds. We are not even out of the car and he is sleeping already. We give him some time and sat down. But half of the way is still to come. The long road follows a paved road through some villages. Then it finally happened. We crossed the equator. A mast-like tower marks the latitude zero. From now on, we are in the southern hemisphere.
The next afternoon we reach Samarinda. Many mopeds, smog, waving people are the first impressions. Indonesia shows many colors. Houses are painted in bright colors. Whether in the rain forest or in the city, everything’s shines in bright blue, bright red or green succulent. Everything radiates friendly colorful. The people are interested in our stay. And again, everyone wants to examine his lumps of English. "Hello Mister", "How are you" or "What’s your name", we hear constantly from the stalls and entrances. You respond with a simple counter-question, and soon you will find the ending of their language skills. And they laugh. But with a simple smile, a small answer to these people makes a huge pleasure!
In Samarinda we meet Julien, a German. He quit his job and beats now through the world. A good decision. After a long it’s a stimulating and fun acquaintance. Together we drive a few miles north to a village where the Dayak tribe maintains its traditions. In an open giant wooden house, dances and music are presented. The tribal members wear colorful clothes and jewelry. Typical also is the huge hole in the ear. Up to 10cm it pulls down the lobules. Kind of not nice to see.
Back in town, we wonder through the campus. There is a music festival taking place and also climbing on a wall. We unfortunately came too late. Alternatively, we are looking at the biggest market of the city. Vegetables, fruits and animals of all variations and freshness levels are shown. Stench and filth accompanied the spectacle. We buy watermelon and mangoes, and we went home. The next day is the ferry ride to Sulewsi. We say goodbye. Julien and head to the port. A 12 hour ferry trip is waiting ahead of us. Bye Bye Borneo ....
Report 3: Malaysia
Malaysia 22.08.2012 - 03.10.2012
Hve you ever crossed a national border by walking?
With our backpacks on the sweaty backs at 35 ° C we stumble from Thailand to Malaysia. Without a serious progress checking our passport details combined with a friendly "Salam aleikum" we are asked into the Muslim country. Exchanging Money, running for water and getting on the next bus is harder than we thought. Every single one of the local buses to Kota Bharu and Kuala Besut is hopelessly overcrowded. Reason: Hari Raya. After the fasting month of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate a sumptuous feast. Family unification, hearty food, open doors for friends and strangers. A mass celebration that extends over the country for three days .... normally.
But most of the Malays remain in their festive mood even more days, if not weeks. With the following effect: the social life seems to flag, shops remain closed, buses and trains are crowded, or fail. Ferries are caceled and everything does not seem to move. Also, we do not come away from the border. Together with two Swedes we have to take a taxi. After four hours in traffic jam in the sticky seats of the car we finally arrive Kuala Besut on 22nd of August.2012 on the east coast of Malaysia. A rather sleepy town without big attraction, but as a starting for the known Perhentian Islands.
Pulau Perhentian Islands
The two islands are considered as a backpacker haven. We found a small room at Long Beach,on the smaller island, Pulau Perhentian Kecil. It's high season, school holidays in Malaysia and also Hari Raya. The island seems to be bursting at the seams. Since we decided to stay longer on the island, we are looking for work. Seek and ye shall find! After one day Elly stands at the counter of "Oh la la", a nice restaurant. The likeable owner Aris offers guests good and recommendable Western food. Pizza from a clay pot, burgers with potato wedges, pasta in garlic, beef Wellington and cold beer are Ellys daily orders. She works for a small room with no facilities, two meals a day and 10 ringgit (2.50 EUR) pocket money. Sounds little, is also trivial, but we do not need much to live on an island. I was lucky also and found a job in "Spice Divers", a slightly unorganized dive shop.As a Divemaster I dove the first two days, to get to know the dive sites and processes need to internalize the store. The circumstances were a bit chaotic at first: the instructors were fired, the manager, has thrown back, the boat so to some needed repairs and the equipment was not the most reliable. Other countries, other standard? I got the job straight away and had to provide first German fashion for order. Together with Dave we started to change some things. For the boat, I sawed and timbered new benches, remote dangerous screws protruding out and we gave the equipment order a new system. Even booking, selling dives and accounts were suddenly my daily work. Which took place between 8.00am and 6 pm. Conducted with 10 ringgit for every Diver underwater. During this time, Elly came over with lovingly packed lunch packets and a smile. She had to work from 6 pm until the wee hours. Our daily routine was now totally different and we rarely saw each other. In comparison to the Danube river tour an unusual experience. On the island, we quickly found new friends from around the world: Robert from Spain, Sue and Ambreen from Australia, Dave from America, Sisi from Sweden and many others. Elly snorkeled and swam every day and went out with Arris and the staff for diving. Since Thailand she belongs to the plunging water rats. On the island Kecil she experiemced at her 10th dive, probably one of the most beautiful experiences, what other divers have to wait several years for. Eye to eye, she swam with a giant of the seas. A young whale shark of about 5m brought her one of the most memorable moments of the trip. "Amazing and fascinating was this feeling, the dimension and the idea to swim with the biggest fish of the world." Almost unspectacular, yet majestaetitisch was her first observation of a turtle floating there. This day was a special one for Elly and let her enthusiasm for diving continuesly grow. I was abit unlucky in these days. An middle ear infection forced me to stay out of the water for 12 days. I had to settle of the time on the beach! For many a blessing, almost two weeks on a tropical island spending time in doing nothing, but in this case it was a hard test for myself, and requires stamina.
We have not seen a population showing its national pride so publicly as the Malays. Flags of the country and the individual federal states
hanging on poles and windows, stickers on buses and store windows. Obtained in every village, in every town, really everywhere.The whole behavour peaks at the 31st of August each year as a
highlight. Malaysia celebrates its independence from the British occupation. This year, the National Day "Merdeka" the 55th Time committed. With singing, merry minds, plenty of food and the national
anthem from the speakers and fireworks at midnight it was long celebrated. A fireworks of a different kind, we noticed one morning. Elly went out to the bathroom at 7.00 am and noticed a hell of a
smoking cloud. The most frequented bar on the island "Black Tip" was burning. But somehow this would happen several times a year. Government employees come with chainsaws and dismantle some stalls or
bars. One reason is the illegal development on leased, state grounds. There are no warnings or paperwork. It is a short hand action. everything will be broken down into small wood or ash. A drama of
a different kind. No week later was there was the shed (bar) again, put ten meters back. As the season was at subside, the weather changed and we still had several thousand kilometers to go, we
decided to leave the island on 1th of September 2012. And we werelooking forward to reach mainland. The decisive factor for that is the strong influence of tourism on the local life on the island.
Hardly o smile, no communications, the typical Malay lacked friendliness. It seems as if the shop owners were in a rut, no fun in what they do, the tourist is not even a customer, but a bringer of
money. One aspect that disassociates the flair of the island into a bad light.
Our journey takes us from the island to the mainland and continue to the national park Teman Negara. With the "jungle train" (Jungle Railway) we drove nine hours in a damn cold, air-conditioned Wagon by a pristine region of the country. Bundled up like pinguins in our sleeping bags, we observed the raw landscape. Our view was partially taken, as the smoke of the diesel locomotive put agonizing over our compartment. By the very steep mountain region we drove at walking pace on the single-track rail system. Pristine lands, grazing buffalos, waving schoolchildren and untamed forests are the impressions before we reached the oldest and largest national park in Malaysia. At 4343 km ² extending a rainforest reserve, which is about 130 million years old. Muddy trails, intertwined roots, caves, rivers, streams and suspension bridges as well as a great diversity of flora and fauna are all over the area. We stayed for two days, we swam and enjoyed the time in the tropical idyll of Malaysia before it went to the capital.
During the three days in Kuala Lumpur, we took advantage of the strengths of a large city, which we have not met in the last few weeks. Internet, public festivals, stuffed streets, Chinatown, a colorful bazaar, Little India (District), a post office and a good bus and rail system to explore the city. KL Tower and the Petronas Towers and Batu Caves (Indian temple complex in tunnel system) were on the to-do list. On 26 of September we flew out from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu in Borneo.
In the north of the third largest island in the world we should expect something new again. Already in the first few hours we noticed the differences between Peninsula (West Malaysia) and Borneo. Bus rides for the equivalent of 0.10 Euro cents, mangoes (6 pieces for 2 euros), dominated by seafood marketplaces, giant tuna and a big expectant Filipino influence. We found a place to sleep in a really cosy House. The previously cleanest and most comfortable on the whole trip. The Backpackers Inn - Lucy's Homestay in Kota Kinabalu a colorful and welcoming address since 1995. Almost motherly Lucy takes care to breakfast, laundry and planning the onward journey. A warm recommendation http://lucyhomestay.go-2.net/
When was your last time sitting in a bus and go on a ride for more then 20 minutes??? Is this way of transportation in Germany / Europe "unusual"?
We find that it is a refreshing, almost forgotten feeling of life to drive with a bus. Especially on our drive from Kota Kinabalu (west) to Sandakan (east). Instead of the planned six hours, we drove eight hours. An acrid smell of urine out of the clogged toilet, in the rear of the semi-modern bus touched our nose every 40 minutes. Children screaming, the air conditioning is smashing, women with food to be sold jostle through the narrow passage as we are controlled by the police.
As toddlers, we hang with wondering eyes and mouth wide open behind the dirty glass as we pass the Mount Kinabalu. With over 4000 meters it is the highest mountain in Southeast Asia. Bus travel including captivating impressions to 400km for 10 Euros. Sandakan is an old port and industrial city, the streets are dirty and noisy. For us, just stop before it goes to our closest ancestors.
Sepilok and Sukau
In Sepilok, we visited the rehabilitation center for orangutans. The name of our closest relatives has its origin from the Malay words "orang" (man) and "utan" (forest). In the release center we saw the "People of the Forest" at a close distance. Because of deforestation, the destruction of the habitat of orangutans is below necessary areal they now belong to an endangered species. For the establishement of the palm oil plantation, many hectares are converted. Pristine rainforest will be changed into in desolate field before there monocultures palm trees are planted. Unique flora and fauna has to move for not stopping lobby that derive a profit from fast to be generated oil.
By bus, we drove through the monotonous landscape with the destination Sukau. The advertising of the Kinabatangan River, the longest river North Borneo was enough to make it our aim. Sukau itself is a small village, hardly untouched by Tourimus and equipped with traditional houses. Children laughing and waving. We start to notice no hassle and no fuss. Somehow we got to Ezall who invites us to a "Homestay" in his aunt's house. The next few days will be spent with the family in a simple but very large wooden house. We are fed 3 times daily with the best food and learn about the daily life of the big family. A great experience. We also did a river trip to see the animals on the shore. The highlights were the proboscis monkeys, buffalo and pygmy elephants. With heart racing and shaking hands, we can watch the elephants at close distance. A herd of 40 animals gathered on the shore. We were even able to go ashore and have the animals of less than 10 m seen. Impressive!
We leave Sukau after a few relaxing days with the aim to drive over to Indonesia. But we have to apply for our visa in the Indonesian embassy in Tawau. A photo with a red background, 40 euros and 6 hours wait is enough to have the needed papers by end of the day. Let's go to the jetty to catch the ferry to Nunukan (Indonesia).
After more than 40 days Malaysia has also shown us only the good sides. We were welcomed everywhere extremely friendly, they were helpful and we felt safe at all times. We could discovered culinary delights and have determined that the spiceyness of the food to the northern neighbor country Thailand has subsided. Again, we were impressed by nature and the serenity of the population. The multicultural and especially the religious component parts in Malaysia are strong. Almost everywhere we could see women covered on shoulders an faces. Due to the British occupation for more than 50 years ago, the English language is present in all generations. Malaysia, a country that we would definitely visit again at any time! But now it is time to drift away again.
Report 2: Thailand
Swaying slightly, I was watching the gecko above me on the wooden ceiling of the terrace of our bungalow. Lying in the hammock, I enjoy the atmosphere of shady green trees on the slope of coast of Koh Tao. I turn to the side and my eyes wander over the light blue Gulf of Thailand. Koh Tao is the most northern of the three famous islands off the east coast of Thailand. With its beaches, the snorkelling and diving opportunities, as well as the tropical flair, this island was a welcome stopover for nine days.
Let’s look back: After we had experienced Bangkok (check report ”Bangkok”), we were ready to see more of the Land of Smiles. We went for a trip to the north to the ancient capital of Thailand "Ayutthaya". By train we drove about three hours (80 km) through rice fields, green landscapes and isolated villages. The first contrasts to the chaotic capital revealed quickly: it was quiet, there were relaxed people and the previously annoying tourists disappeared. Ayutthaya was with its island position of the three rivers meet each other and the associated trade routes were an important location for the country government. For centuries they have perpetuated their power by build-up imposing temples and rock formations. We decided to discover the township with slightly rickety bicycles which we drove at 33 degrees Celsius on that summer day. Elephants, bridges, rivers, house of prayer, Buddha statues, ancient, fascinating, sometimes already crumbling temple walls belonged to the collected impressions. From Ayutthaya we went back to Bangkok, from where we planned our onward journey.
An eleven-hour ride third class in a really filled to the last seat train took us almost 500 km to the south. Destination Chumphon, our starting point for the crossing to Koh Tao.
Full Moon Party: The original of every beach party!
On 4th of August was the Full Moon Party on the plan. A party with an special entertainment factor. A few days before each full moon, the island of Koh Phangan(60 km south Koh Tao), is visited by thousands of backpackers. The prices for transportation and accommodation are rising by twice of the normal prices. If all the initial difficulties are managed you find yourself in a sea of glowing neon coloured swimwear, bright bracelets, torn shirts, flashing glasses and happy people again. You can drink, party, dance, eat and just simply enjoyed the night. Music is blasting from up to 15 bars, which are lined up along the long beach. In between small stalls are squeezed in where the famous "buckets" are sold. Small or large buckets with a selection of mixed drinks. To rum, vodka or whiskey you can choose cola, energy drink or juice added with a handful of ice and some straw’s! Here you go, ready for the party, go and feel the vibe. Hardly everyone is painted, fancy dressed and dancing all over the place. Masses of people role down the streets and fulfil the beach. Fire Games, flares, flambeaus and platform for dancing occasionally sting out of the hustle and bustle. The "Free-sleeping-area", a 20 m² patch on the beach surrounded by a net, was for many the saving resting place. After four buckets, some rice dishes, burgers and fruits it floored me own to the "sleeping area ". Elly was dancing trough out the night to 7 clock in the morning while I enjoyed the sand in my hair. A party that is known by all world travellers doesn’t end just because the sun is rising. People were still drinking and celebrating. We tried to get the ferry to Koh Tao. Excluding losses or problems we were three hours later in our bed. A awesome party was left behind us.
Koh Tao was picked as a destination because Elly wanted to pursue the fascination of the underwater world. Full of anticipation and a little nervous, she decided to do the “Open Water Course”. I knew a dive shop from 5 years ago where wanted to inform ourselves. We met Sven, the manager of “Big Bubble Resort”. Elly was immediately impressed by his quiet, sympathetic and his professional manner. "Yes, here I want to learn to dive!" was her decision. After four days of classroom, homework, theory exams and practical exercises, and a further four dives (to 18m), she now belonged to the diving community or "the scare of the underwater world."
Elly:"Unbelievable. What an inexpressible feeling to breathe easily underwater. Incredible. I was overwhelmed that much that my regulator almost felt out of my mouth. My first diving experience was amazing and a lot of fun. My friends of the dive course (Philip, Caroline, Sarah and Severin) and of course the professional Instructor Gorka have contributed a lot to that unforgettable experience. Thanks Gorka and my diving group for the nice time!
I was thrilled with the underwater world. No matter where I looked, I saw beautiful, gently moving and a variety of corals. Many colourful fish (parrotfish, butterfly fish, triggerfish, and angelfish) swam past me, so close that I would have liked to stroke them. But from my personal divemaster (Thomas) I have learned that I am underwater just a silent observer and not allowed to touch anything. "
While Elly, Instructor Gorka and the dive team struggled underwater with mask and regulator from 9am to 6pm , I dove with my camera behind many fish. Even while snorkelling i managed to film me a shark. After Elly completed her compulsory program we dived together as buddies. We have found out that we get along very well with each other even underwater. At the end we can say that we were very happy with the diving experiences, the service and the customer service of the dive shops. A recommended Address: www.bigbubble.info/
After we enjoyed our time on the island thoroughly, we left Koh Tao with the night ferry. A journey, as we have never experienced before. In darkness, the wind blows strongly, we stood with about 200 other travellers in the chaotic bustle of the port. Two old wooden fishing boats were ready for the mainland trip. We walked on board, where we found simple mats on two decks. It was simple, and we loved it. Especially the disappointed faces of many passengers, primarily rigged women with trolleys and glittery flip-flops. They had truly imagined a other situation. Initially there was still a lively atmosphere as on a school trip. On our upper deck about 50 people on the ground were distributed, lying close together on the mats. Gray-haired couples, families with children, but mostly some mid-age backpackers. Chips, beer, biscuits or fruits, books or cards we saw in the hands of passengers. With the first 100 meters, everyone realized the strong waves. Now and then the boat creaked, a few drops of waves found their way in through the open windows. The first people started to puke. Thanks to the seasickness pills, Elly wasn’t struggling with puking. After about three hours the scene slowly returned to be quiet. I was focused on my book "Into the wild" (by John Krakauer) while Elly, like almost everyone else was asleep on board. Suddenly there was a loud, panicked cry. In one corner a hysterical shriek came up. I thought the boat was torn into two parts. I watched a group of eight to ten people jumped up and stomped around. A medium-sized cockroach was reason for the panic. For the people at a safe distance, it was very entertaining. For two to three minutes the very confused animal swept through the room. Finally it found the way to the lower deck, where it provoked the same spectacle. At 6 am we reached the mainland in Surat Thani. We got on the next bus and headed west to Khao Sok National Park
Khao Sok National Park
Laced with the tropical rainforest mountains and karst region is considered a highlight for nature lovers and hikers. Even after the island life this was a contradictory terrain and impressive scene of nature. Khao Sok National Park, with its 738 square kilometres belongs to the largest existing nature reserve. The Limestone Mountains, the typical laterite red soil, the numerous streams, rivers and the up to 150 years old trees creates a merged maze. The Rachaprapah is a 165 square kilometres Dam Lake. Up to 100 limestone islands rising from the turquois blue water. The lush green of untouched nature on the banks gives the landscape a unique character. We rent a moped and drove to the lake, 60km away. With typical longtail-boats we drove through the magnificent scenery of the lake. We stopped at one of the "Raft house-stations", we saw huge schools of fish in the clear water and felt the first strong tropical rain. We also explored the park by trekking. On muddy trails we walked with big eyes through the dense jungle. Bamboo up to ten meters high, several types of palms, lianas and strong trees have soaked up almost all sunlight. Strange, undefined noises surrounded us: screeching, hissing, chirping and rustling. We could not see any animals around ....until we discovered the first monkeys. They swung elegantly around, climbed on the branches up and down and ate leaves.
We were immediately impressed the cute looking monkeys (dusky or spectacled languor). It seemed like they were just as curious as we are. For a few meters, they climbed parallel to us along the muddy path. Because of the short rain of recent days is the red soil of the path been washed down. Because of the many iron oxides and aluminium oxides the soil of tropical forests turns in a rusty-orange (laterite). Our path led us to a river, several small waterfalls and swimmable pools. We took the opportunity and jumped into the clear, moderately warm water. It slowly dawned when we were on our way back. On the next morning we went to an early breakfasttour. We wanted to get on the "main road" to reach one of the small shops for something to eat. But already on the way we have been successful. An easy matter. With hungry eyes we noticed that there are a lots of fruit trees along the way. Even a couple of meters infront of our door we picked the first fresh coconut. We collected ripe guava from the ground. We enriched ourselves at the Rambutan-tree, a kind of a lychee. We have named this delicious fruit to our personal favourite dish. Two kilos of it a day is not uncommon. Elly is almost obsessed with the sweet, juicy fruits and can cope the lack of supply of good apples.
Mangosteen, looks like mandarin (inside) but is whitish and very sweet. Limes and bananas have made our morning breakfast completely. Delicious! With a glass of coconut juice and the white meat of the hard-shell we were well satisfied and happy. We stayed in a bungalow belonging to "Nung-House" (http://www.nunghouse.com/) a very relaxed, quiet little resort with a lovely garden. The Host Bang told me about the local soccer field. Whooohoo, finally some sport for me and my legs. Along with him, Thomas from Gera and some local Thai-fellas we went to the field by motorcycle. A simple pitch, goals without nets and a breath-taking landscape in the background were the perfect prerequisite for a happy play around. Surrounded by mountains with tropical forests the place was situated in pound. At 35 ° C, we created a fast-paced game with more than 25 people. For months now, this was a perfect exercise for the almost atrophied legs. My desire for sport was definitely filled. Also following with some an aching muscles the next day.
On 19th of July 2012 our journey took us towards South-West Thailand with the local bus. The coastal town Krabi was our next stop. The location was seen as a stepping stone to the islands of Koh Phi Phi or Koh Lanta, or as transfer possibilities for the further journey to Malaysia. But we stopped for a few days to hang out at the peninsula "Railay East,". We wanted to check out the Andaman coast from a closer perspective. By long tail boat we went to the beach in 15 minutes. This quarter of an hour was very intense. Drenched from a heavy rain we reached our destination. Our backpacks, the clothes, everything was soaked in warm raindrops. We met three Italians (Paulo, Lucas, Emiliano) and a Spanish girl (Laia. All together we tried to find a shelter in one of the bars. Without hesitation, we searched and found a guesthouse. A simple wooden bungalow should be our home again. Straight after checking in we hung our clothes on laundry lines we have crossed through the room. With the prevailing high humidity, it took almost 2 days to dry the stuff, despite the heat. Railay East had a few things to offer. A home for climbers from around the world, one of the most beautiful beaches in Asia or just relaxing was reasons to come here. The fine sand, the blue water, and to the views of the spectacular formations of limestone cliffs, which are typical for the west coast of Thailand. A unique impression of a soothing landscape. Our highlight was a trip to the viewpoint and the so-called "Lagoon". Both was located on a mountain rock which is overgrown by rainforest. A steep (up to 90 degrees) and hardly impassable path with some ropes to pull yourself up leds us to the outlook in about 100m height. Slippery red mud, wet smooth rocks, roots and a tough ascent was the challenge we had to manage. Attempts by other tourists before us have failed. But we wanted to go up there. Elly was even barefoot, because we do not have proper footwear anymore. A fantastic view over the peninsula defused for the efforts. The "Lagoon", a kind of lake, which has accumulated in the interior of the mountain, was once again to reach by descent of about 50m. A very risky way brought us down. In that time we met Anton from Moscow. Sensational and rather unreal was the bluish greenish water of the lagoon well protected inside the mountain. The stress and risk has really paid off. And at the end of the day we wanted to pick up a massage. A “must have” for any trip to Thailand, the Thai Massage. After almost 4 weeks now it was the right time. For an hour we were spoiled from the little toe to the head. With her elbow, heels, knees and fingers we were gagged by the Thai lady. We stopped near the outcry but behvaved brave and felt visibly relaxed afterwards.
From Railay we went five hours by bus and air conditioning further south to Hat Yai. The jump off to Malaysia. There have been no trains that day to get to the boarder; we stayed overnight, the last night in Thailand. Previously we strolled again over a typical "food market". And entered into the full range of fruits, spices, animals and delicious things the country has to offer. Hat Yai is melting pot of all different religions and ethnic groups such as Chinese, Muslims, Thai, Buddhist, Americans and Europeans. The city is full bright colours and contrasts but not like in a major city. It was a wonderful farewell from the Land of Smiles, the contrasts and the spicey food.
Thailand is a country where you take off your shoes before entering a shop; where locals are whiting their self with a lotion containing white powder spread on the skin to look as "Westerners"; A country in which you put your dirty toilett paper in a bin next to it instead of littering the drain; A country where Tiger Balm similar, a "wick-vaporup" or horse balm, a strong smelling ointment is used as a panacea and National Prescription against any kind of physical well complaints. A country with a left-hand traffic, dominated by "tuk-tuks" and taxis. One of the basic vocabulary heard "Same same" and "Happy Happy". Fried noodles and rice, or chicken cooked with and curry is your daily need and available every day and everywhere. We say "Kaapunkaa" for the fascinating impressive 4 weeks, the great friendships and lasting memories, big Thanks Thailand. We continue with the train in 3rd Class to the border town Su-ngai Kolok. We are excited!
Report 1: Bangkok
Same same - but different.
We arrived in Bangkok , stayed 2 nights in a outer suburb with Eric our couchsurfing-host and experienced the first rain, the humidity and the typically circumstances of bangkok. Its noisy, dirty, crowded, chaotic and it smells. But its interesting.The smell differs from sewage, toiletwater, rubbish to smog, car exhausts and of course food. Food from the markets a colourful highlight. We see many fruits we have never seen before, they are fresh, tasty and cheap. Beside this you will find fish, toats, squids and other kinds of meat like chicken, pork or ducks on the tables. And if you dont wan\t to cook, the friendly Thai-ladies do this on the sreet all day long. Rice, noodles, fried or cooked, with vegetables or prawns. Corn or potatoes, meatballs and those strange looking insects like roach, huge maggots, ants and so on.
Like the most other backpacker, we moved after a couple of days to Khaosan Road. We found a nice guesthouse just a few hundreds meter away from all this partying all night drinking people from all over the world. Its amazing how crowded the street is in every hour a day. The street is covered from small shops on the side, trying to sell fun-shirts, Thai pants, hippie skirts, travel bags. They also offer pedicure, massage or making you dread-locks. This streets offers you everything. But you have seen everything in about 30 minutes. And Bangkok has a lot more to show than that. Will post soon....we need to catch a train