Bangkok, Thailand – experiencing a contrast

Bangkok, the capital of beautiful Thailand in the northern part of the country with 8.281 million residents (wikipedia). But can you imagine this city to be an empty, silent ghost town? I couldn’t, but I’ve experienced it.

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We left Bali on Wednesday the 25th of October 2017 and took a plane to Bangkok. At the airport in Denpasar I had my first Mac’n’Cheese and it was delicious, even though the idea of cooking pasta in milk and cheese does not flatter me.
After having arrived quite late in Thailand, we took a taxi to our hostel for 450 Bath.
The hostel was quite nice but the air in the dorms was not fresh at all but we didn’t care – it’s only a hostel and we were so excited to be in Bangkok!

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The next morning we decided to walk around and get some water and were really confused since the streets reminded us of a ghost town. We always expected BKK to be a bubbly and active city with lots of traffic jams, millions of people running around and street food everywhere. It was the opposite: no people on the streets, no cars, all Thai people dressed in black.
We went back to the hostel and the scells fell from our eyes: it was the anniversary of the death of the beloved King Bhumibol and the day of his funeral.
Walking around, a police officer even yelled at me because I took pictures of the streets… well I get it, it was a bit rude…

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However, we talked to a travel office and booked some flights and a night train to Chiang Mai. The next day we were supposed to leave in the evening and spend the day in the mall. The Siam malls are a big mall complex with different buildings and stores, those malls are amazing! There are so many different shops and all kinds of food – we had lunch at a backery 😄
We later went to the Lumphini Park, a big park in the heart of BKK were many people do sports during the day. The park itself was really beautiful, but again, no people around. Only a turtle on the pedestrian walk and monitor lizards in the pond instead of ducks.
In the evening we were happy to be able to finally take the night train to Chiang Mai, it felt inappropriate to be in a city where everyone grieved for a good king.

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– Three weeks later –

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The Grand Palace

At the end of our travels in Thailand, we returned to Bangkok in order to spend another day in the city and then fly to Australia. This time we booked a very cheap hostel at Khaosan Road, well it was the worst we had (besides the 16 bed dorm in Brisbane). But we weren’t surprised, I mean we paid 3,50€ per night which is cheaper than buying one kilogram of apples in Australia.

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Khaosan Road is an amazing street – very busy, many people, a lot of delicious street food stands and loads of cars and taxis driving around the neighborhood.
By the way, here are two tips for your BKK experience:

  • Someone told me that it is more secure to buy street food from women rather than from men. Women usually care more for hygiene which means that you can reduce the risk of getting sick
  • If you want to cross one of the busy roads in BKK, wait for a native to cross the street and simply follow him/her
  • If you want to take a taxi with a taximeter, make sure that you track where the driver is taking you because they often take a longer way round which will lead to higher costs for you. Also make sure to negotiate a fixed price when taking a Tuk Tuk or a usual taxi. Basically, everything under 100 Bath is totally fine.

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We spend the last 36 hours in Thailand exploring the (now bubbly) city and went to the Grand Palace and took a Tuk Tuk. Unfortunately, we failed to visit other temples, since I fell asleep in the taxi and the driver drove us to the other side of the city and there was no time left to visit Wat Pho 😐
The day we left Thailand was a total mess, we had booked a transfer to the wrong airport and consequently had to take a very slow bus to the other airport… nevertheless, we made it 😊!

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Hope you enjoyed reading!

Have a good day!
xx

Exploring Doi Suthep, the golden Temple

Hello everybody and welcome back on my blog!

Today I will be sharing with you pictures I took during our afternoon trip to the famous Doi Suthep Temple near Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Those of you who read my Elephant Sanctuary post and my article about Pai, know that I really like the north of Thailand and Chiang Mai is really beautiful and it has so many great things to offer.

In the city you usually take the red caps, small busses that serve as taxis for up to ten people. It is very likely that you will share your red cap with other people. Just ask a driver and tell him where you want to go and do not forget to negotiate the price!

We met an American guy and a guy from the UK in our hostel and decided to go to Doi Suthep together. We asked for a ride and the driver offered us to drive us to the temple, wait there and take us back to the city which was really nice. It is a thirty minute drive to the temple and you also have to pay an entrance fee. There are many small markets around the temple complex, where you can buy little souvenirs and sarongs. I bought myself a buddha statue and different things for my family.

The temple itself is golden and really beautiful. You are not allowed to enter the temple wearing shorts and tops, so make sure to bring a sarong. Additionally you have to take off your shoes.
There are so many buddha statues and small temples in the complex and even though it was quite crowded, it was still stunningly beautiful!

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It was a great afternoon trip and I can really recommend visiting Doi Suthep if you do not have the time to visit the other temple, Doi Inthanon, which is an additional two hour ride from Chiang Mai.

I hope you enjoyed the photographs!
Have a good week,

Sophie

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Planning my next trip to Southeast Asia

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The past five months I realised that even though I am obsessed with travelling, I rather enjoy spending less time abroad and also having a plan. Well, this is quite the opposite than what I have told you before but I think this is the kind of travelling I like. I guess I am not the kind of person that could get lost on their journey. I always plan ahead and I tried not to do it but I guess it is just how I am.
However, I am planning to visit eight countries in two and a half and three months.
Oh and my journey does neither start in Iran, nor does it end in Ukraine but I would plan a three-day-stop-over in Abu Dhabi and then fly to Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo.

Sri Lanka

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Picture by ohh-couture.com

I met some people who went to Sri Lanka and simply loved it. Additionally, my father went there on a business trip years ago and I remember being so jealous.
I would love to go surfing there, since people told me that the waves are good to surf and beaches are not as crowded as they are in Bali sometimes.

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Rope swing at Dream Cabana

India

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My mother went to India when she was in her twenties and she told me she was so impressed that she dreamed of India every night for a year after she had returned from her trip. She said it was an amazing but also shocking experience. It is likely that you will see dead people lying on the streets, and the poverty in most of the slums near the big cities is above imagination. Nevertheless, I feel like India is also a wonderful country to visit and definitely worth the culture shock. I already loved Little India in Singapore, even though you probably cannot compare it to the „real“ India. However it really motivated me to go there one day.

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I would love to explore the south and take part in a famous holi colour festival. Although people say the north has a lot more culture shock potential and might be more difficult to travel, I will definitely give it a try and experience it myself. What I am also very excited about is the food. I love Indian Curry, Naan Bread and Mango Lassi!

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Nepal

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A year ago, my mother’s best friend travelled with her husband and her daughter to Nepal in order to enable her daughter to meet her Nepalese family and they totally fell in love with the country. They told us that the Nepalese are really friendly and hospitable.
They were really impressed when they were sitting in a cafe and a guy shouted „Rhino coming“ and all the little shops closed their doors and a bid Rhino calmly walked down the street.

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Nepal is also home to world’s highest mountain, but since I have watched a documentary about how the Sherpa (used to) die during the Mount Everest climbs because oxygen is only provided for the western tourists, I would rather do the Annapurna circuit someday and skip the climb that is paved with dead bodies. For my next trip, I will rather focus on the cities and the countryside but not the Himalaya, since I will need special clothing and trekking stuff. Maybe when I have finished uni.

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Myanmar

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I only met one girl who went to Myanmar and she fell in love with it. I really want to go to Myanmar because I feel it is not that hyped and crowded with tourists yet like Thailand for example. It is one of those countries that will become very popular in a couple of years and when it does, it will change a lot. I would love to experience Myanmar like it originally was/is.

Laos

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The reason why I would also love to go to Laos, is actually the same why I want to visit Myanmar. Additionally, I would like to enter the country overland, since I do not want to take 12 flights in order to explore these parts of Southeast Asia. I mean, flying a lot is not environmentally sustainable at all.

Vietnam

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This picture is stunning isn’t it? I just found it on Pinterest but was originally published on 500px.com. My friend and I always talk about visiting Vietnam. We met so many people who were so amazed by the beauty of this country. On girl I met in Malaysia, even taught english in Hanoi for over six month. As in many cities in Southeast Asia, the contrast between the big cities and the beautiful countryside is huge and I cannot wait to see it myself!

Cambodia

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Oh Cambodia! The Temple of Angkor, beautiful beaches and the gorgeous island Koh Rong. I actually met a dutch guy in Kuala Lumpur who worked in Koh Rong for nine months and slightly got stuck there. He told me all about the beauty of the island, the beaches, the parties, the people. I could literally cry thinking about what I could have seen during my travels….But it is never too late to explore the world right?!

Final destination: The Philippines

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Travelling is also about meeting people. All these destinations I shared with you today were recommended by people I met during my travels. It is amazing how travellers inspire and motivate each other to visit other countries.
However, the last country I want to visit is the Philippines. People told me that you can go surfing there as well as enjoy beautiful, lonely beaches.
After having explored as many islands as possible hopefully, I will take my flight home with a stop-over in Dubai maybe. I cannot wait, I am already so excited, even though I probably still have to wait until I have my bachelor’s degree.

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What I really like about Southeast Asia is that you can travel on a tight budget. I plan to spend a maximum of 1.000€ on my flights and 3.000€ on everything else like food, accommodation, transport etc. everything I need to live during these three months.
And additional 500-700€ for medical care, infusions, medical aid kit and a hand luggage backpack. Yes, on my next trip I do not want to carry around a 70l backpack, I want to bring as little as possible and I will not bring my laptop and my reflex camera. Only my GoPro and a small but good camera. I am already so excited and I cannot wait to explore again!

Would you ever been to India and Nepal? Have you ever thought about travelling with a small backpack? Let me know!

xx, Sophie

 

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I love (Banana-)Pai, Thailand

*Bad Joke Alert*

One of our favourite places in Thailand was definitely Pai. We only spent two nights in this wonderful small city but going there was definitely worth it! You can easily book a small bus to Pai, it takes approximately 4 hours to get there and you will experience the beauty of northern Thailand.

There is a big sign on the road that says „Welcome to Strawberry Pai!“, but since we had the best bananas in our lives in Pai, I named this post I love (Banana-)Pai 😄.
Every time we are now having a banana we are always like „Oh this one is not as good as the one we had in Pai!“

However, we spent a wonderful day in Pai, rented scooters and explored the area.
Some things you must not miss out are the Bamboo Bridges through the rice fields, the Pai Canyon and the Land Split. I cannot really say why I enjoyed my time in Pai that much, but I guess it was the atmosphere, the fresh air, the landscape and of course, our hostel. We stayed in the Suandoi Hostel and it was one of our favourite hostels we had during our travels. The people were so nice and they had beautiful bungalows and a restaurant with affordable Thai meals.
Additionally, it was the first time that we were actually freezing, since we only had 15 degrees at night.

You should not miss out the Land Split, in 2008 due to an earthquake and flooding, the land of a farmer cracked. He now serves tourists with his rosella juice, fruits and especially bananas, all grown on his own land and he consequently created a tourist attraction. Everything is for free, you just donate some money and that is how he finances his land and life.

Pai was simply a magical experience and I am quite sad that we only spent two nights there, I think I could live there for month and would still love it!

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The Rice Fields and the Bamboo Bridges

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The Land Split

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The City

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Thanks for reading, have a wonderful week!

xx, Sophie

 

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Thailand 1992 – Koh Mat Sum

It’s time for some vintage photographs again! Maybe you have already read my last Thailand post, where I shared some pictures of my Mum’s Thailand trip in the nineties with you. Last time, I published photographs of Koh Phangan, Chiang Mai and Koh Samui. Today, I will be sharing with you impressions of the island named Koh Mat Sum. Turn on some nice music and imagine walking down these lonely beaches and enjoy the view.

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xx, Sophie

One night in Bangkok, or three weeks in Thailand

Thailand. Islands, elephants, jungle, beaches, friendly people, Bangkok.
These are the first few words which come to my mind when I’m thinking about Thailand.
Lucky me, I am going to Thailand for three weeks in November.
We recently planned our trip which I will be sharing with you today.

After we will have arrived in BKK, we would like to take the night train and the ferry to Koh Samui, in order to go diving in Koh Tao and to join the full moon party on Koh Phangan, which will be on 3 November 2017.
I know this is very touristy and stereotypical but I guess if you have the chance to go, you will regret it if you don’t.

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Palm Trees, Koh Samui ’89
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Koh Samui ’89
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Koh Samui ’89

You may have noticed that these pictures look a little bit vintage and they are!
My mum used to travel a lot when she was younger and she also visited Thailand and Malaysia.
She took these pictures in 1989, using a slide film. I was very impressed when she talked about her travel experience and I decided to digitise her photographs.
I hope you enjoy looking at these pretty and old pictures!

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Koh Phangan ’89
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Koh Phangan ’89

If we still have time, we will take the bus to Krabi and Koh Phi Phi, but we decided that we want to be very spontaneous.

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Northern Thailand
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Elephants, Northern Thailand

After we will have discovered some of the paradisiac islands we will probably fly to Chiang Mai, in order to travel back to Bangkok.
Hopefully, we will have the chance to visit the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary in Chiang Mai.
I am still not quite sure, if the elephants are treated appropriately. I will have to read a little bit more about this place, since I do not want to promote animal cruelty.

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Young Woman, Northern Thailand
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Northern Thailand
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Chiang Mai
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Chiang Mai

Last but not least, we will be exploring Bangkok for a couple of days and celebrate my nineteenth birthday there. We thought that it might be less stressful to visit Bangkok at the end of our trip. We will see what happens and I am really excited!

I know that this post does not offer much travel relevant information but I thought you might enjoy these old photos. I am so curious in which way these places have changed the last 28 years.

Have a wonderful weekend!
Love, Sophie

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Solo Travel – My fears, my thoughts, my expectations

As you may know, I will be going on my South East Asia- and Australia- trip in September. The first country I will be going to will be Malaysia.
This first part will probably be the most exciting one, since I will do Solo Travelling. I have never travelled to another country alone before, therefore I thought I could share my thoughts with you!

Maybe you have already read my Malaysia Blogpost, if yes, you already know something about my expectations etc.
But I cannot deny that I am VERY excited about this time!

There are certain reasons why I chose to travel alone and today I will be talking about these reasons, my fears and my expectations.

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Why do I feel like travelling solo will be good for me?

As I already told you, I recently graduated from High School in Germany.
After thirteen years of school, I feel that I have to do something different, to do something for me, on my own.
I guess it is because going to school and being surrounded by the same people everyday is no longer giving me the inspiration I need- which, to my mind, is completely normal.

Consequently, I think that it will be quite helpful not to see my friends and family for a while (This is not meant to be rude!), since I will have to learn to be very independent, without the constant feeling of security my friends and family give and gave me. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for that!)

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You are your own boss!

I always used to be very interested in exploring and in adventures as well, but if you are travelling with a friend, you will probably have different interests, therefore you will have to compromise.
When you are travelling solo, you are your own boss and you can decide where you want to go, how long you want to stay and what you want to do.

But stay alert, traveling too solo and taking risks is definitely too dangerous when you are in a foreign country on your own.
You should never arrive at a new destination after dark, or go home alone in the dark. This means, do not make yourself a target for „criminals“ or pickpockets. I would also highly recommend to hide brand names, or even better, not bring high-fashion items, or expensive equipment when you cannot protect it from thieves in a certain way (f.e. in a Travel Safe or in a locker).

There will always be people around you

One of my biggest fears is that I will feel alone on my trip.
However, I think that this fear is unjustified, since there will always be someone around you. When you are checking in in a hostel, you will meet so many people from different countries who will love to talk to you or to go on a trip with you. And do not forget – you are not the only solo traveler in the world!
On my last trips I also recognized, that I would have also appreciated the opportunity to go on certain trips alone, since you are usually a little bit limited when you are travelling with friends, because you are often staying in your group, instead of taking the advantage to talk to other people.
Sometimes I really regret that I have not talked enough to other people when I traveled. I mean, you will see your friends at home, but you only have the chance to connect with people from foreign countries when you are traveling.

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Push yourself out of the comfort zone

This is one of the best advantages you will have from Solo Travel!
The human being is a creature of habit, which means that we love to have habits and we want things to be comfortable.
However, it may be hard for us to adapt to an uncomfy situation and this is exactly what you have to do when you are traveling alone!
Additionally, this will probably be one of the best experiences of your whole trip!
 

Don’t be afraid of traveling solo! I will also try to not be!
I am taking the opportunity and I am sure this experience will enrich my life!

Have a wonderful week!

Sophie

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