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koh phangan

the ferry arrived before sunset and i thought this would leave me enough time to search for a nice beach with a nice bungalow. i forgot about the somewhat different laws of island roads. whereas most roads make you sweat when you climb a hill, these roads feel more like climbing a ladder and you worry about rolling back down now and then. there are a lot of germans in thailand and so i was sweating up the hill while people on their scooter pitied me: “mit dem fahrrad… ach du scheisse!” (with the bicycle… oh my fucking god) or tried to be  encouraging: “hau rein!” [how rhine]. when i finally arrived at ‘thong nai pan yai’ beach, it was already dark.

i got myself a bungalow with a hammock and a nice green garden in front.

after some days chilling at the beach, playing guitar and a lot of reading, i got word from caro from another beach on the island. instead of going back all the way on that damned road,  i took a slightly easier route to bottle beach…

from where a water taxi is going to chaloklum bay. from there it is only a ten minute ride to haad khom.

how do you greet someone whom you haven’t seen for a year or two. well, probably not different to someone who was away for only a couple of weeks. it was wonderful to skip the ‘usual’ questions and getting to know each other, talk in german again and one could feel a bit of home brought this far by those two.

caro at her most cherished beach activity on the big swing.

my favourite was the volleyball “net”.

though we managed only once to get some players together with rather mixed capabilities it was fun. besides the three of us, two kids and two fisher-/boat taxi men and a dog joined the game. as the dog couldn’t decide on which team he was on and after having to fight him off all the time, the father of one of the kids did what nobody else dared to do, or just didn’t think of. red card, on the leash!

after enjoying the thai curry for a last time, we wanted to leave the next day on the same ferry. but as there were no more tickets for bus or train to bangkok, we ended up staying an extra day. a day well spent… and another curry, please!

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travel

gulf of thailand

after taking the train out of bangkok, one of those where you can still lean out of the window or the luggage wagon,

i arrived in prachuap khiri khan and on the sea again after 5 months. on the next day and some kilometers to get started i ended up at this beach which i had completly to myself.

half of the time the road was following the coastline and only sometimes was the highway the only option. but the bigger streets in thailand mostly have shoulders which you only have to share with scooters.

there are nice villages and towns along the way such as chaiya, one of the oldest cities in thailand. while walking the streets in the evening, loud music came from the direction of the railway station. there was a festival with the usual  food stalls but also some attractions and a big stage were set up.

besides the area in front of the stage, a lot of people were sitting on the tracks and the benches of the nearby station. sitting on railway tracks is cool. reminds me a bit on the tram line sessions in berlin some years ago.

on my way south i was in contact with caroline, the sister of the creator of the worldtourguide, who was travelling through thailand with her boyfriend tobi. it took some emails to synchronize our travels. in the end we chose koh phangan for a meeting. after staying one day in surat thani, where this lovely “bulli” with a built in bar was parked in front of the internet cafe…

i made my way to the ferry port at don sak.

the colour of the water reminded me on the trip to the andamans. though i was glad it took only two and a half hours to reach the island compared to the 3 days to port blair.

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bangkok

bangkok is huge and as i wanted to stay for just a short time, i picked only a handful of attractions to visit. first i went to the dusit district.

the ananta samakhom throne hall which later was the seat of the first parliament in1932 after thailand’s political sytem was transformed from an absolute into a constitutional monarchy. today it hosts a museum.

followed by the vimanmek mansion. the world’s largest golden teakwook building built under the reign of king rama V in 1900. it was used as royal palace until 1906 and restored as an museum in the 80s by the present queen.

visitors are put into groups and lead through the building. i really enjoyed it that day not to read any signs or descriptions beneath pictures but just to listen to the guide.

afterwards i went to wat pho, known as the birthplace of the thai massage. one of the highlights: almost 50 meters of reclining buddha in gold.

opposite the wat is the ferry shuttle across the river to wat arun.

…and up the steep steps to enjoy the view.

i stayed only for two days in bangkok. i enjoyed it quite a lot but such a big city is always hard to grasp in such a short time and i didn’t want to stay for weeks.

again i used the train to avoid heavy traffic this time to get out of the city. from prachuap khiri khan i started again by bike and soon had sand beneath my feet and the first swim in the sea since 5 months.

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travel

a nightly ride and an early train

i started from siem reap and wanted to stop after 100km in sisophon but to find a guesthouse proofed rather difficult. all hotels seemed to be booked out or had only an expensive ac deluxe room. i decided to continue to the border and try my luck there. i didn’t make it before dark but after getting used to riding in the night it is mostly fun. everything seems calmer and your senses shift.

the border was already closed and i found a guesthouse without ac and without the deluxe. the border crossing the next morning was painless as i already got my visa in laos. after 6km i stopped for the day to get used to another country and currency and i still felt the 150km from the day before. i decided to take the train early next morning to avoid the heavy traffic towards bangkok and to arrive before dawn to have enough time to look for an accomodation.

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locations

angkor

once the seat of the khmer empire 1000 years ago, angkor today is still impressive. it is big by our standards but for the 12th century it was gigantic. best to have your bicycle with you to get around.

the main temple angkor wat…

and the view from the top.

these faces can be seen all over angkor thom.

waterways and streets connect the buildings over an area of 1000 square kilometers.

some of the temples like preah khan were left almost unrestored and preserved their own charm with the vegetation growing out of the ruins.

for me one day was enough to see the area. the next morning i left for the border to thailand.