Koh Lanta, spending my 19th Birthday in Paradise

Hello together,

I hope you are alright and had a good weekend. I am already in Christmas mood, even though it is still November. What can I say? I just love Christmas.
Family time, baking cookies all Sunday long, lightening candles, eating ginger bread, listening to Christmas music, watching American Christmas movies and drinking hot tea. Anyway, I am in Darwin at the moment and 34°C and 75% air humidity make it quite difficult to stick to my German Christmas traditions.
I mean, we will probably celebrate Christmas in Brisbane at the beach, which will be very exciting I guess.
I even have to admit that we already bought a small plastic Christmas tree in KMart for 5$, all Aussies buy plastic Christmas trees – we had to adopt this tradition.
We will take this tree with us while we will be travelling the Australia’s East Coast…stupid, I know.

However, I did not plan to talk about my Christmas obsession, actually I wanted to tell you about my time in Koh Lanta.
Koh Lanta is an island on the west coast of Thailand, located in the south of Krabi.
This beautiful island was our last stop before we took a flight back to Bangkok and from Bangkok to Australia. We spent four nights in two nice bungalows and celebrated my birthday on our last day.

I never thought of celebrating my birthday in Thailand, but it turned out to be really cool. We rented a scooter and had breakfast in our favourite french breakfast place „Faim de Loup“. After we had asian food for two month, we were really excited about western food again and enjoyed good bread, croissants and cheese omelettes. It was delicious!
Unfortunately I had a cold because of the air con and took a for three-hour nap before we went on our scooter beach hopping trip.
At this point, I would like to recommend my favourite app „Maps.me“ which really helped us discovering beautiful, hidden places in Thailand and Indonesia.
The app is free and you can download maps and use them offline.
The second beach we explored was really beautiful, there were only two other travelers and the scenery was magical. We took some photos and I daydreamed a lot while watching the sunset.

On this day, I realised that it only matters to a certain extent where you are on a day like your birthday. What matters the most is the people with whom you are spending your day. I am still really happy that I was able to celebrate my birthday with Lina, I missed my family a lot that day but she put a lot of effort into this day and made it really special.
We had a great day together, even though it is not the same as waking up early in the morning and having cake for breakfast with my family.
However, Lina and I enjoyed it to the fullest. After we had spent our afternoon at the beach, we had dinner at our favourite beach bar, the so called „Moonwalk Bar“, where we enjoyed cheesy Pizza. The evening was great and I will always remember it as the most extraordinary birthday I had in my life so far.

Now, I proudly introduce you to Nui Bay, my birthday beach:

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Have a good week!

Love, Sophie

Elephant Sanctuary

Hello everybody and welcome back!

I know it has been a long time since I posted the last blogpost but I tried to enjoy Thailand to the fullest and took a little break from blogging.
Please do not get me wrong, I love to share my experiences and pictures with you, but sometimes I felt like I had to leave my camera at home and try to enjoy the moment without thinking about pictures, Instagram or even blogging.
Actually, I did not plan to go on a „digital detox“ or something, I took this break intuitively and I do not regret it. Of course I took pictures and texted my family and friends, however I tried to appreciate and enjoy the moment like people did thirty years ago, that time when all this internet, social media stuff was still in early early progress.

Anyway, little update: I spent the last three weeks in wonderful Thailand and headed to Australia yesterday. So, I am a bit behind my blog schedule.

Today I would like to share with you my magical elephant encounter in Chiang Mai, Thailand. At first I have to state that I really care about animal rights and we did our best to find a good sanctuary where these beautiful animals are treated appropriately.
I know that some animal lovers out there will say that they would not even go to this kind of a sanctuary, but I could not resist because I have dreamed of meeting elephants since I am three years old. These giants are my favourite animals and seeing them in real life was unbelievable.

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We went to a western travel agency in Bangkok who recommended the „Happy Elephant Home“ because the elephants can move freely in a big area, there are no chains, only an „elephant house“ (a roof with eight pillars). There is no elephant riding and no elephant shows. If you plan to go to an elephant sanctuary, it is crucial that they do not provide this kind of activities, since it is bad for the animals. You can book a half-day or a full-day trip at the Happy Elephant Home and it is all about caring for these lovely giants.

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The shuttle picked us up around nine in the morning and it was an one hour drive to the sanctuary. A friendly mahout woman welcomed us and told us we would say hello to one of the oldest elephants at first. I was so excited.
The mahout cut bananas for us and we met the first friendly giant who was quite happy to see us, obviously because we had food.
The lady told us that all the elephants in the sanctuary were rescued because they were abused for hard work. You could tell that the first elephant we met used to carry heavy stuff on his back, since he lacked hair at the front part of his back. She also had a blind eye and a disabled leg. However, she was not afraid of us and one could say that she is a picky eater, since she preferred the bananas that we had already pealed.

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The Mahout lady also told us that all the elephants in the sanctuary are ladies, since the men are kind of lone wolfs.
After having said hello to the elephants, we went to the wardrobe and got changed and well, we dressed up like actual mahouts which was amazing!
Additionally, they wrote our names in Thai language on our hands.

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We spent the morning with three elephants and one two year old baby. We prepared food for them and cut bamboo (I guess it was bamboo) into pieces and put it into our mahout bags. They were able to take pictures with them and later we went to a small lagoon with them where we washed them. Nine happy travelers standing in elephant poo and pee 😀
It was obvious that the elephants loved the people from the sanctuary, they followed them and cuddled them. The baby always tried to „eat“ the mahout lady, since it knew her her whole life.
I was really happy about this, since it is a sign that the animals are well treated in the sanctuary. We returned to the camp for lunch and they let us cook our own Tom Yum Soup. You have to put veggies and rice noodles into a sieve and dunking it into boiling water ten times in a row, put it into a bowl and add vegetable stock with tofu (or chicken) to it. You can add chili or tomato sauce, vinegar and spices afterwards and top your soup with peanut chunks. It was so delicious!!! For desert, we had fresh pineapple!

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Home made Tom Yum 

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After we had lunch, we cut some more bamboo and went on a hike with the big giants.
Again, there were no leashes or wooden sticks to make the elephants walk. They probably walked with us because we had food and also because they followed the mahouts. We walked to a river and even had a bath with them!
It was just magical. Lina and I laid down on one of the elephants and they blew water with their trunks. I did not want this moment to end.

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There was another elephant sanctuary or park on the other side of the river, but it looked more like a zoo and there were people riding on elephants which made me quite sad. However, I was really happy that we chose the Happy Elephant Home!

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All in all, it was an amazing day! Lina and I took pictures with my GoPro and her digital camera, but I did not want to bring my DSLR. There are also many videos which I will be sharing with you as soon as I can.
Additionally, there are no pictures of us at the river, since we decided to enjoy the second part of the day to the fullest, without being distracted by the urge to use our cameras.
We wanted to be aware of what we are doing and to live the moment.
We do not regret it!

 

Stay tuned!
xx, Sophie

 

Thailand 1989 – Koh Nan Yuan

Note to myself:

„Explore more, be adventurous, don’t be afraid to fail, do what you love, be open-minded, care, love yourself, do things you thought you couldn’t do.“

Only a few weeks left until I will be exploring new parts of the world.
Only a few weeks left until I will feed my soul with experiences and memories I will never forget.
Can’t wait anymore, I’m so excited and also afraid that something will go wrong.
Hopefully, I will enjoy solo travelling. Hopefully, everything’s gonna be alright.
My glas is half full, not half empty. I’m optimistic.

I would like to thank my Mum, she always loved travelling and inspired me very much.
In a few weeks, I will strike a similar path like she did many years ago.
The pictures I’m sharing with you today, show the incredibly beautiful island Koh Nan Yuan near Koh Tao in Thailand. I hope you like these vintage photographs, they are the last ones from her Thailand trips.

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Have a lovely week,
Sophie

 

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