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ourindochina


29 Blog Entries
1 Trip
390 Photos

Trips:

The Indo China Adventure (incl Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia)

Shorthand link:

http://blogabond.com/ourindochina




getting close to the end

Kuta, Indonesia


After experiencing the natural wonders of climbing up the active batur volcano and making my way to the vibrant time of Ubud I thought it was about time to see the sea again on this island that is notorious for them!

I once again packed up my bag and made my way to the main road to catch myself a public bemo. easily enough I was soon in a small cramped car with about 7 people sitting cheek to cheek. It's always awsome when a chat starts, and this time was no different. One of the ladies in the Bemo spoke excellent english so we had a good chat about her, me, life and the country. This made the trip fly by and I was soon standing alonside the main road again waiting for the next ride to take me to my ultimate destination of Padangbai.

The second ride was excellent, it was as local as you could possibly get, so local that it actually made me laugh out loud! This is what travelling is all about. It was a propper rustic car, packed full of people and their cargo. So full that i had to move like an acrobat to actually get into the thing. Then once seated the driver continued to pick up people, which among other things included people bearing chickens in bags and.... Durian (aka the stinkfruit!) The car was now not only cramped and hot but also stank like well... stinkfruit (The potent ceation doesnt bear that name for nothing) But this is what its all about, and there was litte I could do about it...

Padangbai is a town basically for transit to the neighbouring Lombok and Nusa Penida islands. My intitial plan was to make my way to Nusa Penida frst thing in the morning. However after chatting to some people and thinking about my timing I decided to make the dive that i wanted off Nusa Penida in Padangbai and then cruise down to Sanur.


Spent the afternoon wandering around the small quaint village looking for a good dive shop and good dive deal. I found one, I would dive with Caral, a Local dive master, one on one and we could go for as long as I had air. Sounded awesome. I was set on seeing some more turtles, so that was the plan. The first dive was at 9:00 the following morning. I got to see exactly what I hoped for. Among some excellent coral scenery and some great eels, stingrays and immense amount of fish I got to see a masisve turtle just chilling on the sand. Excellent! The second dive we chased a school of white tip reef sharks. Diving around here was excellent! Back in Padangbai I had a great seafood lunch and then made my way over to the seemingly retirement beach resort town of Sanur.

Also the place where I would possibly meet up with Waki... She had rounded up her trip in India and was now ending her trip on bali. Both on the same island we just had to meet up! Sounds really easy, but its... not. I got to Sanur and found out that it is way bigger than I anticipated! This was a big shocker as I had used the lonely planet to make a meeting spot hotel place... It is massive, well when on foot. So I (and later found out that Waki did too) spent a good hour or two wandering the streets with a massive bag weighing us down. But after some searching we ended up finding each other. She even tried to be mad at me for making her run around... but that was short lived!

We had 2 awesome days chilling on the insanely quiet beaches of Sanur. These beaches are quiet A) due to the relatively large beach space and small amount of people, and B) as the people that are there are all above 65 so they are generally not party crazy or surfers. It was chilled, but after two days of chilling in the sun and eating well and my Bali clock running out. It was time to try out another town. We were now on our way in yet another Bemo to Kuta... The Australian party capital of the Indo island. But before we made our way over there we changed our mind... It was decided that we should see the capital of the island and then spend the last night, in Kuta.

So we made a minor change in direction and were now on our way to the capital of the island. I love arriving in a place and being the only visible tourist! SUre we werent the only tourists, as we saw some later on. But it took some effort to spot them, unlike all tourist destinations. We wandered the local markets, streets and had some excellent Bali quisine! How it works in a wartel is amazing. A way of dishing food that would set a health inspector on a hunger strike. All the foods are meticulously displayed in little bowls behind the shop window and covered with a small mosquito net curtain. You then sit down at a table and get a selection of all the delicasies laid out on the table. You then help yourself with the dishes. Once you are done with the meal, a waityer with a big piece of paper checks what you have eaten, adds it up and takes the left overs back to the respective bowls in the window display allowing them to be consumed by the next guests. Why waste!??

After checking the busy metropolis of Denpassar for the morning we caught a Bemo to a place that is the exact opposite. A whole town simila to Bangkok Khao San Road! Amazing, a town of only tourists, bars, cafes, surf boars, hotels, clubs and an awesome beach with a far out and long break. Here all we really did is what everyone does, chill on the awesome beach, watch the waves and once the sunset is over head to a good looking bar and start the night off.


Bali has been one of my favourite spots, together with Vietnam. I will def be back there again and check out the other islands too! Fo Sho. Waki it was excellent to see you again :)

So in closing... After Bali I made my way back to the metropolis of Bangkok, where I spent a few days chilling, exploring and off course shopping. The trip has been one epic ride. I have no regrets and would do it all over again. Now it's time to take on a career!

Iaki, it was awesome travelling with you, thank you for everything! Im gonna see you in Europe some time soon, maybe for a diving trip somewhere... perhaps even off the shores of your native nation... somewhere over there in the east of Europe...




permalink written by  ourindochina on March 15, 2008 from Kuta, Indonesia
from the travel blog: The Indo China Adventure (incl Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia)
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Villa Lotus, Bali

Singaraja, Indonesia


My first flight since I landed in Bangkok on the 6th of December! Going to Bali! From my humble residence on Koa San Road I cought the hourly airport express bus... while sitting on the bus and getting comfortable I looked out the door. This was followed by a quick double take as I had spotted Marcelo and Macarena! Small world. Turns out that Maca was on the exact same adventure flight to Bali. (I met them on the Delta trip in Vietnam)

I say adventure as the flight to Bali with air asia requires a brief stop over in Jakarta... basically you arrive at midnight and the connecting flight to Bali is at 8:00 AM. So what every hardy traveller will endure time and time again, we slept at the airport. We slept on the two seater plastic benches making up the diner of Dunkin' Donuts to be exact. It was interesting to say the least!

We were both happy that we had someone to share this interesting experience with! The connecting flight to Bali was fine and we were welcomed by a tropical rainstorm. Both of us were expecting to be met at the arrival gate, so we were both dissapointed! What had happened was that both our reception parties assumed we came directly from Bangkok, a very justified assumption, so after some wandering around we realised our error and found our pickups. I was picked up by Eric, he was armed with a sign "Robert Villa Lotus" Awesome! I got in the car and after a brief drive through Kuta we started the 3 hour drive to my residence for the next few days. Sadly the clouds had covered Bali so I didnt see a thing besides what appeared 5 meters from the car. But no matter, before long I had arrived in Lovina, at Villa Lotus! Where Robert and Elivira were waiting for me with a coconut cocktail! Treatment I hadnt experienced this entire trip! Good times. The house, or rather villa is beautiful, and when they showed me my own private condo with pool and lounge I was stumped! If I stayed here too long I would never want to leave.


The next few days were glorious. There was a national hindu day of silence... Mimpi. What this meant was that the whole of Bali was quiet, so that the bad spirits that were chased away the previous night wouldnt come back to Bali. The chasing was done ny burning massive paper mache statues of Gogos. A very interesting time to be here, but it did give me one public holiday and one house arrest day. Now when you have a day of House arrest at Villa lotus, it isnt exactly a bad thing! I loved it. Thank you Rober and Elivira. I have since realised that I dont have a single photo of them. This is possibly due to the relaxing times that we had around the dinner table and just general relaxing. So let me just say that they both look as young as ever and are in good shape. Let alone the discussions we had on the way home after a party night in the hot and happening club of Lovina... Pogo bar (A place not to be missed if you go to Lovina) I do have one of their very young and aglile dog though!

While in Lovina, I didnt only sit at the lovely villa, I also took a day trip out to the nearby waterfalls. Its the tailend of the rainy season, which is very noticable from the afternoon monsoon type rains that fall. With the day of the waterfall being no exception. But the Munduk waterfall was awesome, the rain stopped once we got there, I was the only tourist and walked all the way to the crashing water taking in all the elements!


After a day of diving in the North west island of menjangan and seeing my green turtle I made my way to Kintamani. The town at the foot of Mt Batur, the second biggest volcano of Bali! I got there on a public bus, which in Bali with all its hills is a unique experience. Tehre was the inevitable overcrowded feel to it, with people standing in the isle, a chicken in a bag and 3 on a two seater. This and the classsic, "Im not feeling too well, so ill lean over you and vomit in this small weathered packet" But still clean when I got out, I had an overall good experince. Even had some good conversation with Nioman, a lady sharing the seat with me who kept cracking herself up when she heard I paid the tourist price with is $2, instead of $1(local) for the ride. An excellent local experience!

When I got to Kintamani, the mountain dissapeared into the clouds while I was enjoying lunch, and the rain had started by the time i went back outside. No matter though, I went down to the small footside town, and checked into a hotel. AFter negotiating my trip up the mountain the next morning i went for a walk. As Robert and Elvira had warned me, there is absolutely nothing to do. So after I had walked through the whole village, checked out the local bar and fitness club I made my way back to the hotel. The rain closed in and I spent the rest of the day reading, writing and drinking Arak, or rather indonesian moonshine with the hotel manager.

3:09 I got the knock on the door, the wake up call! By 4:00 AM we were at the foot of the mamoth mountain and armed with a torch we were ready to go up. I was assigned to the team with the scottish/english couple Christine and Mike. They seemed middle aged, so i thought we would be walking up at a manageable pace. Oh no! They were both avid hikers and what an average person does in 1,5 to 2 hours we did in 55 min! I was out of breath, but we made it to the top. We now sat at the top for at least an hour before the sun showed itself. When it did, the cold went away and everyone was mesmorized! You could see Lombok, the Kuta gulf and Mt Agung in all its glory!



After some volcano steamed eggs we hiked to the second crater, and then to the top of the main crater! Beautiful, fresh, crisp and clean. A very good morning!

Back down at the hotel at 9:00 I made my way to the cultural hub of Ubud. Got here by local Bemo and spent the day yesterday cysling around the rice paddie country side and checking out all the local art shops. Everyone here is an artist! Its amazing. The plan today is to make my way to the coast of Padangbai...




permalink written by  ourindochina on March 11, 2008 from Singaraja, Indonesia
from the travel blog: The Indo China Adventure (incl Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia)
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back to Bangkok, or at least around

Bangkok, Thailand


The bus from Krabi was a long and trecherous procedure. It involved a lot of chopping and changing. To get from Phi Phi to bangkok, involved a boat, a bus, a taxi, another taxi, a bus (showing Borat). This could all have been done with one boat and one bus. But hey, thats what travelling is all about... testing ones patience. On the first bus I met Stephanie, a querky german girl studying chinese in Taiwan. When she saw my make shift diving hotspot map of Bali, she leaned over and handed me her Lonely planet of bali and Lombok! How awesome is that! The bus stopped soon after that and since I was Bangkok 1 and she was Bangkok 3, I had to get out and wait at the small diner. She stayed on... we planned to meet at the burger King on KSR at 6:00.

From there I waited about an hour until a mini bus took the 13 of us to another diner, where we waited about 50 minutes.... Then onto the luxory tour coach on our way to Bangkok. Sleeping was postponed by the loud broadcasting of Borat! Sitting next to Ethan, an american economics lecturer who cringed every time Borat approached an american! Awesome. Slept on and off and arrived in bankok at 7:55. I wandered to Burger King with a vague hope of still meeting Stephanie, but as was expected she wasn't there. I checked into the trusted guesthouse where we Iaki and I stayed the first time we got to Bangkok and once I dumped my bag went for a breakfast amble. While sitting down with a small mexican mob of guys discussing Laos, I spotted Stephanie buying some fruit. KSR is a place you will always meet someone you know... its a fact!

So, she was leaving that night and I the next morning... we decided to do something cool. I was tired and she was tired, so sleep deprived we made our way to the bus station in the north. Kinda the same idea as the floating market outing Iaki and I did in december... (also done sleep deprived). We got there and were informed that we were at the wrong station for Ayuthaya... To make a long story short, we were in Ayathaya about 4 hours after leaving KSR. We got off the bus and organised a tuk tuk to take us around. To rent bikes was the initial plan, but since it was 30 degrees and we were both groggy from the sleep deprivation we decided a private tuk tuk was the better option.

After seeing 3 temples, which were beautiful, we were started to get templed out and made it to the infamous mask! really cool.



After the mask we took a bus back, got a taxi and got back to the center. While sitting on that bus I realised that I had now seen a sunset, a sunrise and another sunset from a bus seat! Thats crazy, and meant that my trip to Bali was well justified!




permalink written by  ourindochina on March 4, 2008 from Bangkok, Thailand
from the travel blog: The Indo China Adventure (incl Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia)
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The adventure goes South

Krabi, Thailand


So... I know it has been a while, it's time for a full on update! So here it comes. I am now in Indonesia, living like a King, staying with Robert and Elvira in their Villa, which kisses the volcanic beach of Lovina, Bali. So all in all life is good!

So the last entry Iaki and I were leaving Koh tao as qualified advanced open water divers and were gearing up for the party of all parties. The infamous Koh Pangang Full Moon party. We had heard rumours that due to a buddist holiday the date had moved from 22 to 24, but we were optimistic. We had our boat tickets and were ready to move off the diving island. The rumours were right, but that didnt mean that the island was quiet... Oh no, in retrospect... It meant that the island was overfull. However, with our optimistic view, we figured that all the accomodation being offered to us at the pier was there to rip us off, and we would be fine just heading down to Haad Rin beach, walking into a little hostel and getting a room... I mean, why not!?


This didnt work.

We arrived in Haad Rin to find a town that looks an awful lot like vang Vieng. Thousands of people everywhere all with a party in mind, and the rest all watching friends and family guy reruns. The place was packed to say the least. We wandered the beach, saw the infamous haad rin beach, and it is beautiful! Not just due to the blue sea and white sand, but mainly becasue of what is lazing around on the white sand. We were homeless in paradise. Lucky for us we found 2 canadians and a british girl who had been just as optimisic as us, and were also realising that a txi up north was inevitable. To make a long story brief... We got a joint taxi north after about 2 hours of discussions, got to the town 40km north of Haad Rin (The furthest possible point from the party beach) and got ourselves a very small, basic room. We were set! The only drawback was that it cost 10 times the price of the room to get anywhere on the island. So everything that you did had to be done in packs! The other downside was that the party moved due to a buddist holiday... this laso meant that there was no alchohol for sale, and there was a lack of overall party. So the notorious party island was quiet!

Iaki by this stage had decided that he was heading over to Phuket to see Cherise and I hadn't made up my mind yet. Then while wandering down the sunny beach it hit me. I had made it all the way here and it would be just wrong to leave. So I decided to stay on koh Pangang.

This was therefore the last day that Iaki and I would see each other in Asia that is. The last day of OurIndoChina! It has been awesome Iaki! I am really happy to have had you here with me. The two of us spent the last night of our travel partnership at Haad Rin beach hoping for a party to suddenly break out... But nothing. We met up with Daniel and Bjorn, the two legendary Swedish chefs that I first met in the Mekong Delta and together hoped for a party. But nothing. In the morning iaki and I said our good byes.

The next few days I crashed with the two chefs and had no regrets in staying on for the party. The weather turned for the worse but that didnt detract form an awesome party. The night finally came around. The 24th, thousands of people six bars opening onto the beach with blearing party tunes and millions of Samson Buckets on sale. A recipe for success. The party started off and the three of us, even though we lost each other now and then, spent most the night sipping from buckets and kicking up sand as we let loose on the jungle trance/techno beach joints. We ended the party once the sun had risen above the horizon. A glorious sight! At this stage it was about 7:00, and my ferry for Krabi left at... 12:00.

I made it to the ferry without any problems. I have never seen that many hung over people in one place before. There must have been at least a thousand people all with half closed eyes sipping cold coke and eating all they could get! The funniest thing is when we were herded like sheep onto the various boats. A seamless operation, but not the safest. As the boat I was on was made for lets say 250 people, but had at least 550 on it! It was so full that you could hardly see the colour of the floor. But the previous night made it all worth it. From Surrathani, I cought a mini bus to Krabi and once I got there, after 10 hours of travel I found a room and slept like a log!

Krabi town is a really really chilled out little town. A backpacker haven, and a place from where you can get to all the western gulf places. From the comfort of the small friendly town I went on an island tour and got to see exactly what I had been looking forward to. pristine white beaches, small sandstone outcrop islands and long tail boats casting a shadow beneath them. Glorious!





After having seen all that, the weather turned bad again and I made a move to the coast. I got a place in Ao nang. A place so secluded that all there was to do was eat, sleep and sit on the beach. So, since it was raining I did the former two. very relaxed, but it would drive me insane if I stayed there for more than a day.



Koh Phi Phi was next on the list. A place made famous by leonardo! And yes, in case any of you are wondering, there are daily screenings of his blockbuster movie! You can even, at a fee, spend a night camping at the location that they filmed. The actual "beach"is on an island just south of the main island of Phi Phi and is a bay called maya bay. I didnt actually walk on the beach but did get a very good look at it from my dive boat. very nice!

On Koh Phi Phi I did what I really wanted to, I wanted to dive and see a turtle! The diving was spectacular, absolutely awesome. However I only got a glimpse of a surfacing turtle, so am still searching for that encounter. But leaving that aside, the amount of life that Phi Phi has to offer is amazing! The dive there tops the Koh tao dives hands down. So I cant wait to see Indonesian reefs!

Phi Phi was to be my last island, and from there I made my way back to bangkok.

permalink written by  ourindochina on February 29, 2008 from Krabi, Thailand
from the travel blog: The Indo China Adventure (incl Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia)
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becoming certfied Advanced Open water Divers...

Ko Tao, Thailand


Iaki and I were reunited and after getting up at 04:30 along the infamous Koh San Road, and by 05:00 were on a bus trying to get those last few hours of sleep in. The sleep story was cut short against our will... this is due to the caring bus hostess slotting the Prince and me into the DVD player and cranking up the volume. Cranking it up so loud that ipod headphones were no match. Iaki and I had no choice but to watch the horrid movie. Once that was over they had yet another keeper... The time did go fast though and we were soon on a monster of a catamaran cruising to the island of Ko Tao!

Iaki was having some trouble as to what he should do... The thing is that he was ready to go home, but also really wanted to go to New Zealand to meet up with the israelis one last time. The decision that he had to make was a difficult one to make. Both with their ups and downs, and the fact that he hadnt eaten for 12 hours and that the sea was rough enough to make the mamoth catamaran rock up, down left and right didnt help much! But we made it over clean, no need for plastic packets like so many people all around us!

Once on Ko Tao we got various diving offers, we discussed things over a well deserved lunch and found a diving class that would offer accomodationa nd that we could do, so that Iaki could get back to bangkok to catch his flight home in time. Easy Divers was the dive shop of choice, we signed up, got issued our homework and were told to meet the following morning. We did! Iaki still not sure what he should do.

The morning session was chilled, when we arrived in the classroom we were introduced to team Sweden! 9 Sweeds! Now I understood what people mean when they say there are a lot of sweeds in Thailand! They are everywhere! The morning got us through the basics of diving by the veteran instructor Jo. The afternoon we were kitted out, and taken aboard the ship. Our first dive!

Awesome, in a really chilled out blue watered bay kneeling down on white sand 2 meters deep we did our basic diving training. Chris, our other instructor, and Jo did their thing. Really chilled out. That is how our days passed... Lectures in the morning and diving in the afternoons. Awesome! Slowly getting addicted to the sport, iaki and I were seriously considering going all the way and going on to become advanced divers! But for now, iaki was planning his trip back to London instead.

We finsihed our 4th official dive, wrote the exam and were now official PADI certified open water divers! reason to celebrate, so after watching our diving video in the irish pub Nelly's we got festive! Team sweden was one party bunch, so the drinks kept pooring and a trip to the popular sairee beach was inevitable! Things got crazy to say the least and Iaki ended the night with some memorabilia...


Oh, This was actually a big day as iaki had also changed his ticket once again to stay on to April 10th! So all the more reason for the party night1 It also meant that i would have a diving buddy for the advanced course! Things were good!


The next day was a chilled one, a recovery day if you will. getting ready for the advanced course! Dived at night, with sharks and at a depth of 30 meters! Awesome! iaki and I were addicted... although also kinda glad when we finished our 11th dive in a week as our ears were killing us! Got our cards and content and tired made our way to the party island of Koh Pangang... where the full moon was looming!


permalink written by  ourindochina on February 18, 2008 from Ko Tao, Thailand
from the travel blog: The Indo China Adventure (incl Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia)
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Re-united with Iaki, Island style

Bangkok, Thailand


Spirits were high when Iaki and I google talked, myself on Koh Chang ad Iaki on Koh Samet. We made the arrangements. I would meet Iaki in the afternoon of the following day on white sand beach, Koh Samet. So it went. I got the ferry off the island, booked a bus ticket to Koh Samet and scored when they informed me and one other passenger they were unable to get a minivan, but that they got us a private taxi instead... Sweet! I was at the ferry dock in no time and was soon chilling on a ferry to get to the island of Koh Samet.

I arrived at around 15:00 and walked the kilometer to the Koh Samet nature reserve entrance where from you get access to the beach. The sand was as white as the name suggests. Awesome! I found the place iaki was staying, got his room number from reception ad wet up to try find him. But as you can imagine whe there is a sunny, blue sky and a warm ocean hugging a white sand beach. Only idiots would spend the day in their room. So I dumped my big bag, took off my shoes and went for a stroll, greek spotting. I walked the length of 4 beaches with no luck, until I went to the room to leave him a note. This is when the bearded, pakistani tanned man showed himself. We hugged. Yes we did! Excellent to see each other again! The rest of the afternoon was spent catching up on stories. This on the beach with a ice cold Beer leo and grande view of the ocean. The beaches here are pretty busy, with a very diverse crowd. In my opinion a better place than Koh Chang. This is far more chilled and really pretty.

We spent the night, which started with a fire show, catching up over infamous Thailand cocktail buckets. Needless to say, it was good to see each other again!

In our Sang Som (Thailands finest Whiskey) state we had made the plan to go for a jog at sunrise and the hire a kayak for the day. The jog... didnt happen, but the kayak, well the kayak was excellent. We got ourselves a two man, and had the plan of getting in a trip around the island. First to the lighthouse, then to the small rocky outcrop, then to Ko Chang (A small island just off the coast, not the big one) and then the plan to go all the way around. The island looks kinda like south America, but is only 7km in length. When we got about two thirds of the way we realised that we still had quite a way to go, water was low and the sun was... hot. So we went for the steep shore, and pulled the kayak up the cliff face. Then across to the other side (the island is only 400 meters wide in the south) and back to the familiar, calm, clear sea. A leisurely paddle ended our 7 hour expedition and left us with a well rounded sense of achievement. The rest of the afternoon was spent, once again on the white beach, reading, swimming and chilling. As you do on islands. Camilla, was also lounding on the beach, and she joined us for the rest of the afternoon and well into yet another wild night. Camilla is an Italian bed wife who was on her week break from Pakistan. Basically she delivers little Pakistani babies into the world. An awesome sprightly lady, who managed to prove us wrong every time we thought we were onto something.

The afternoon slowly turned to evening, and soo the fire show started again. This time Iaki and I were both prepared with our cameras. Camilla and I (iaki is allergic) couldnt resist the offer of crab, so together polished off 6 massive fiery red big ones. Glorious!

Bangkok was next on the cards, so in the mornig the three of us met up to have our last breakfast on the island. Instead of heading straight back to the tourist area of the capital we, or rather iaki, found an awesome alternative. A place called, the fishing farm. As the name suggests, a place where you can catch big fish. Got ourselves a taxi, git a lake side bungalow, Iaki got his kit, and the ext 12 hours would be spent chilling on the porch watching Iaki oull out the lake monsters. The place worked as follows, you hire a bungalow for 12 hours (21:00 - 9:00 or vice versa) and you fish (catch and release). A great place, except for the millions of mosquitos.

Iaki fought the initial beast for about 30 minutes, eventually, after having worked every muscle in his body he defeated the 30 kilo cat fish and netted it out. A hanus creature. Iaki had done it, he could tick... catch a massive Mekong catfish off his list. Even has the photo to prove it, but that will follow shortly as the PC here doesn't like my memory card. Then, while Iaki went to take a leak, I maned the rod. And believe it or not couch myself a mekong catfish too! Yes, not as big and strong as Iakis, but a Mekong catfish none the less. Once again photos will follow! Camilla, although being rather impressed with the manly fishing going on, had no desire to try it herself. Awesome to have you with us!


The next morning at 9:00 the fishing session was over and we headed back to the familiar Kao San Road. All three of us were nackered as we hardly managed to squeeze in any sleep between squashing mosquitoes and lyig on the wooded floor. So checked a hotel, and sorted out some admin. Tried to do as little as possible for the day! From bangkok we headed for Koh tao, where we are now... Soon to be licenced open water divers!

permalink written by  ourindochina on February 15, 2008 from Bangkok, Thailand
from the travel blog: The Indo China Adventure (incl Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia)
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The Ko Chang Adventure

Trat, Thailand


Ko Chang was to be my first Thai island, expectations were high and I was looking forward to seeing the sun set over the palm scattered white sand beaches, kayaking with sunrise and just having a general all round merry time... However, I still had to get from battambang, Cambodia to Ko Chang. Thats easy you say! yes, it could be, but... it wasnt. It has been the longest andmost challenging trip I have endured so far.Ists comparible with African travel.

So I was in Battambang, having seen the country side, visited the famous sites, had a traditional massage by the blinde and was ready for the beaches. I must admit I did little, or rather no planning the night before... So was at the reception at 06:00 finding a way to pailin, the southern border with Thailand. This is where I wanted to pass, as it would be the shortest route between where I was and wanted to spend the evening. So I got myslef into a taxi heading for Pailin. The taxi was a corolla, and had 3 local passengers and the stone cold rally driver minded chauffeur. We were off, the clock had struck 07:00 and we were off, onto the dirt roads, working the shocks for all they were worth while we cruised at speeds in excess of 80km. We made it to Pailin within 2 hours and it was comfortable. However... I was now in pailin. pailin, I soon learnt is not on the actual border. I also learnt that i was now the only falang (Asian for white man) in town and every tuk tuk, taxi and scooter rider was eyeing me with anticipation of a scamming deal to get me to the 18km away border post.

I eventually settled for a chilled looking non english speaking guy on a scooter. I climbed on with my mammoth bag on my back and small bag strapped to my chest. Uncomfortable and holding on for my life as we sped over the horrid pot hole infested dirt road overtaking everything he saw ahead of him. 30 minutes later I dismounted and got the blood flow back in my legs. I paid the man and wandered over to the immigration officer. He gave me a good look up and down, then lifted his right hand and pointed at the newly printed sign "All foreigners entering the kingdom must have a valid fligt ticket leaving the kingdom within 30 days of arrival" I had no such thing. I asked how strickt this enforcement was, he agreed to let me try sweet talk the Thai official at the other side of the bridge. No such luck. I was told my best bet was to head to the next checkpoint, Chong. A checkpoint about 60km north, not on my map, and alledgetly offering a possibility for falang in my situation to pass through.

I now had a choice, head back, go the safe route and just go to the falang border of Poipet. Or... go out on a limb, be adverturous and spend the rest of the day trekking to Chong, with the huge possibillity of being rejected again and spending the night in the middle of nowhere. I went for the latter.

I haggled for about 30 min to eventually find a guy wanting to take me to the remote border of chong, which apparently can only be reached by trecherous roads. Roads that would make the 60km journey an endurance trip of no less than 2 hours. I was up for it and so was Dina. Dina was a legendary guy, 23, spoke great english and as I should have guessed when we agreed on the price, hadnever done the trip before. Anyway, after a quick stop at his pad we were on our way.

The roads lived up to their description with no holding back. They were... crap. So bad infact that I occasionally had to walk so Dina could navigate the scooter through the thick muddy sludge, minding the potholes and puddles,a nd in some parts I was knee high in water. It was an adventure allright. Then it got even better...

We were happily riding along when we suddenly had a flat rear tyre. Lucky for us though we were in a small town, so there was no problem getting it fixed. Chilled, back on our way. However, after about 3km there was a loud bang, a shot of wind on my lower leg and we stopped... The mechanic had gotten too excited when he pumped up the tyre, which in turn coused a blow out! So now, we could either head back or walk on and hope for abother town. Once again we went for the latter. 3km we found yet another place, but they had nothing of the size we needed, back into the sun and soldiering on. The next town we had better luck and the guy could help us. However, it now being around 13:30, meaning we walked a fair distance, the tyre itself had been damaged, and now Dina needed not only a tube, but also a new rear tyre. With the little choice we had, we agreed to the operation, had it done and went on to the border.

I treated the legendary to Dina lunch and i headed for the small border. I got stamped out of Cambodia and was told to get my bus ticket? I walked to the office where I was shown to and bought a 4 Euro "bus ticket". A ticket that is really colourful, but does absolutely nothing... at all. It is there to fill the new legislation for falang and allows people in my situation to pass into the kingdom, with a make shift "flight ticket" Awesome, I was in! But, now at a border with no falang and once again in the middle of nowhere (not on my map either) I had to wait for a mini bus. Thethai system goes like this, the minibus leaves when its full, it holds 10 people and I was person 1. One and a half hours later I was on my way to Chantaburi. Now 19:00, there was no way I could get to Ko Chang. It had been a seriously adventurous day and I was glad to have had it! If you ever read this Dina, thanks for your trouble! Ill come visit you at your house if I come to Battambang/Pailin again!

From Chantaburi Ko chang was easily reached. A chilled airconditioned bus ride a relaxing ferry ride and a taxi ride to the beach side of the island. Everything I had hoped for! Excellent!

On the way to the island i met Michol, a german engineer on aninternship at a co in Rayang. He was heading for the island to meet a friend for the weekend.

On Ko chang I chilled at the beach called Lonely beach, in a seriously laid back resort. read, ate, swam, partied. In the morning, I s\dis what I had been looking forward to the most. Kayaked to a small croppy island just off the main coast. I did this togetherwith the now other three (Michol, manheim and Sisi) An excellent morning, thanks guys!

Ko Chang was a a quick stop, from here I was to meet up woth my old travel compadre again. After some emails we agreed to meet on Ko Samet the next day. And so it went, after 2 chilled nights on Thailands second biggest island I would see good old Iaki again!


permalink written by  ourindochina on February 14, 2008 from Trat, Thailand
from the travel blog: The Indo China Adventure (incl Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia)
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The Infamous Boat trip to Battambang

Pailin, Cambodia


The map doesnt include battambang... I dont know why.

The pickup for the boat was, like the Sunrise trip, at the crack of dawn. I git ushered into the mminivan, and after cramming the little thing full it was off to the boat docks. The bus van was packed, and this was but a taste of what the boat was going to be like. The boat was a typical long boat, like the ones that I had gotten uesed to. Howevere, this one in particular was full... Not that this seemed to matter to the skipper as he simply pointed to the empty roof... So i git on. When the next 12 seater minivan arrived, they did too. It got rather cozy, and was looking to an excellent day! The sun was slowly getting higher and we left the port. The first obstacle was to get the heavily overloaded vessel over the lake... once that was done it was through the small waterways, through villages, farmlands, and countryside, all viewed from the prime and warm seats on the roof.

The boat trip was epic, chilling while we passed through all that Cambodia is about! Little villages, overjoyed waving and swimming kids, frindly folk and farms. Since the boat trip was but a boat trip. A really good one at that, one that lasted 8 and a half hours, there is little i can describe... so some pics will have to do.

Battambang itself is a small town. The town doesnt have too much on offer, but does have some surrounding sites that we (Elizabeth, a spritely Canadian) and I explored. Such as the killing caves, the old ruins of the Khmer period, a temple and a ride on the improv bamboo train. It was a day trip, a decnt one at that!






permalink written by  ourindochina on February 6, 2008 from Pailin, Cambodia
from the travel blog: The Indo China Adventure (incl Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia)
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A day in awe at the majestic Ankor Temples

Siem Reap, Cambodia


5 February 2008, sitting in a small 6 PC internet cafe in a back alley of the buzzing city of Siem reap - Cambodia.

(Photos will follow soon... I still have to sort through them and stuff. Check back in a little while! They should be good.)

Phnom Phen was an excellent place, as was Kep. But now it was off to the place that everyone that comes to Cambodia comes to Cambodia for... one of the new "7 wonders of the world" Ankor Wat. After having met a lot of people coming to Phnom Phen from the west, I had heard a lot of really good stories. Which made my anticipation for a visit to the temples even greater. I booked a bus and left the capital city at 07:45 sharp. The ride to Siem reap is about 6-7 hours so I got comfy. As you do in a bus that takes most of the day. Book and Ipod are the way forward.

Next to me was a guy called Daniel and next to him on the other side of the ilse, two girls (Ilse and Dieuwertje). It turned out they were all dutch, 2 seperate travel parties, but dutch none the less. As I later discovered, Holland must be having some sort of special air fare to Siem reap, as in the last 2 days I have met a disturbingly large amount of dutch people. They are everywhere, around every corner, up every rise. So many in fact that I almost start adressing new people in dutch... and 9 out of 10 reply in dutch too! Amazing, kinda creepy though. Im at a city boasting the world wonder of Ankor wat, and its swarming with my people! I guess we know where the good spots really are! Haha

Anyway, enough of my amazement at the sheer volumes of native Nederlanders and back to the story of Siem Reap. On my delta cruise, Marcelo and Maca had mentioned the possibility of eating deep fried tarantulas in phnom Phen... I was intrigued, and scoured the streets together with Becky, but came up empty handed. A little dissapoited I had put it at the back of my mind, as it seems pretty gross anyway. Well, guess what was on display and sale in their hundreds at the first bus stop of the trip to Seam reap? yep, heaps and heaps... mounds rather of crispy fried, shiny black hairy spiders. I couldnt resist the urge, paid my $0.25 and... well ate, first a leg or two, then a bite of the thorax, leaving the abdomen alone, and finishing on the last few legs. It was another case of mind over matter... It was interesting... OK at best, I wouldn't say... good. Another thing that I can cross of the list. I ate a deep fried big black hairy spider. yep. really not as bad as it sounds. Kinda fishy, crispy, with a strong salty flavour.


So back onto the bus, with some sour mango to wash out the roaming taste, and off for the last 4 hours of the trip. Daniel, the guy next to me was just done with his studies and was over here for 2.5 months and the two girls were in a similar situation. When we finally arrived at the bus station of Siem Reap... we were, attacked! I have never experienced so many touts. They were in their hundreds, armed with laminated tuc tuc/hotel price sheets. All shouting and offering a ride to anywhere we wanted. Hundreds. I salvaged my bag in all the commotion and while fighting off the commission hungry touts, was saved by Ilse who called me over to their selected tuk tuk (selected... as the driver had proceeded in taking the initiative of loading their luggage on his wagon). We rode to the popular choice guest house - Smileys. A really chilled out place, got my room and then we read up on the best approach to the temples.

We heard that if you buy a ticket after 17:00, you can watch the sunset over Ankor Wat and use the ticket the next day. That is exactly what Ilse, Dieuwertje and I did. The sunset was swarming with people, but due to the sheer size of the place it didnt take anything away. A worldly site! Well deserving of its newly acquired title. We chilled until the sun was all gone and then went in search for a deserving meal. Siem reap, as I mentioned earlier is swarming with travellers (with an abnormal amount of Dutch), so the places to go are suited accordingly. A street of awesome restaurants, bars, clubs and everything else you need to make you feel at home. After a scrumptuous dinner we ambled over to Temple bar, ordered some drinks and did what we probably shouldnt have. getting home rather late, we had only a few hours to rest before the predetermined pickup time by our tuk tuk at 05:00.


Getting up was easier than expected, and there was a brief moment where we almost rented bikes. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but after spending the sunny hot day wandering the temples, with tuk tuk rides in between, there was no regrets. At all. Bikes would have been cool, but not today. The temples are amazing! After watching the sun rise over the Ankor Wat, we rode over to the (in my opinion anyway) even more impressive Ankor Thom. A temple that boasts a massive amount of stone faces, and has the option to climb atop, and wander the maze of tunnels below. Besides the many challenging climbs up to the tops of the temples, all three of us agreed that the tomb raider temple (where they shot part of the movie) was awesome too. The temple, or rather ruin, has massive silver trees growing all over it, with the roots working their way down, through, along and over walls.






After 11 hours at the temples, and only having seen the most popular ones we were all "templed out" as they say here. I had a brilliant day, content, happy and exhausted. Much to the disgrace of some, but praise of others, I have decided that one day at the temples has been enough. I saw all I wanted to see, had great weather, watched sun rise and sun set, took ample photos and have some excellent memories. From here, another early start to catch the slow boat through the most scenic water way in Cambodia to the old French colonial town of Batambang.



permalink written by  ourindochina on February 5, 2008 from Siem Reap, Cambodia
from the travel blog: The Indo China Adventure (incl Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia)
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Cambodian Food Paradise

Kampot, Cambodia


So as I mentioned in the last report, I had made an impulse decision to go south rather than North. The initial idea was to go to Kratie, but after listening to numerous reports from people that had just arrived from there with average ratings, I decided to rather check out the cambodian coastline. This, and the mention of some hardy travellers bearing a newspaper cut out on Bokor national park, mentioning how you could see the french ruins being eaten up by jungle vegetation...

The bus would pick me up at 7:30, I was ready, and got onto the bus heading for Kampot. Not knowing what to expect, except for the 5 hour trip. I decided to sleep a bit, which sounds easy, but on cambodian roads is far more difficult than it sounds. I did get some though, but would wake up everytime my bum lifted off the seat. In order to get to Kampot we first needed to pass through Kep. Kep is on the coast, and kampot is 25km from it, but has a river. We got to Kampot and while searching for a hotel I met Marianne, a dutch logistics manager who after doing some volunteer work in thailand is spending the rest of the year trekking around. We got ourselves each a "$4 no window room" as depicted below...

Once settled we had planned to meet up for lunch and plan a day out to Bokor for ourselves as this town was far from tourist polluted and thus low on the trip offers. It was back to DIY travel, awesome. To our surprise though, we were informed that Bokor national park had been bought out by an expat and was being renovated to its original glory. What this meant is that it was closed to the public. Oh. We said.

After getting re-confirmation on the peculiar news from the Kampot tourist authority we came up with a contingency. We read that there were caves, we would rent out bikes and spend the day exploring. That was V1.1 of the contingency. After lunch, we walked the town, and there really isnt much else to do. Kampot is a town. A town with a river, very little people and the place one goes to to see Bokor... if that is closed you sit and read a book. So we did. Now V2.1 was being fabricated... what if we rent bikes, ride to the caves and then go to Kep, swim and cool off and then cycle back. A day of activuty, bound to be good!

Dinner time, V3.1 was thought up. Cycle to the caves, then get a taxi/bus/hitch hike to Kep and chill on th ebeach and spend the night there, getting a bus to Phnom Phenn from there.

We had breakfast at 7, so be on our way by 8. Ready for the ride, we came up with V4.1 thsi was the final solution, and proved to be the ultimate solution. Here it comes,

Get a tuk tuk to the caves, check them, then get that same tuk tuk to carry on one way to Kep, check in, get a sea food lunch and either chill on Rabbit island and relax or just on Kep beach. It was glorious, a day that unquestionably makes it to the top 10 days of the trip.

We arrived in Kep after having seen the caves, they were fun rather then impressive. A whole mob of kid tour guides provided endless entertainment and got us to crawl, climb and jump from on boulder to another in the darkness of the cave. After seeing the first 2 we decided it was time for Kep. We got back into our Tuk tuk and started the htel search. kep is expensive, but after some negotuations we found ourselves a room. Straight to the beach, a small man made beach, very picturesque, very chilled.

Along the beach were a whole lot of fish stalls, we dug in! Starting with some barbequed calamari, then a grilled fish on a stick. Then all glory came out when a kilo of fresh crabs made its way to us. Glorious! I think I ate 3 kilos of Crab that day. Oma, I thought of you! I loved it, so fresh, so good, good company and all on a glorious day in the sun, on the beach!


It got even better when we got invited by a cambodian family to have lunch with them. This was now turning into a 2 hour crab eating day. W got offered cambodian stout and had a good chat. Marlene and her son Jamie had moved to Australia a while back and were now visiting the rest of the family back in Cambodia. It was one of those meals that whenever your plate was nearing empty they would refill it for you with food that was oh so good. (Reminded me of our Skopje adventure with Helena Mattie! haha)

The family was off to Bokor, which according to thyem was stil open, so we went back to the beach.

An awesome and welcomed change from the busy city life! A place well worth a visit. Top 10 for sure.



permalink written by  ourindochina on February 2, 2008 from Kampot, Cambodia
from the travel blog: The Indo China Adventure (incl Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia)
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