snippets of blackwings life

Big city life: Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Bangkok

The last part of my trip was all in all: big booming cities – After all those relaxing days in small to medium sized towns and cities, I visited some of the Asian mega cities: Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Bangkok. First I reached Kuala Lumpur by AirAsia from Vientiane – and stayed in the very same Guesthouse as in 2007. Kameleon Travellers lodge right next to Pudu Raya Bus terminal. As two years before, the place was OK, cheap and centrally located.

I took the 1.5 days in Kuala Lumpur to keep up with the latest changes in the city: Here a new skyscraper, there a new shopping mall… And was delighted again by the great Indian Food! I really advise people to get a real banana leaf curry! In KL I found that Sri Ganesha Curry restaurant at Jalan Pudu (right next to the Hindu temple, close to Pudu Raya terminal) is a pretty advisable place to get that. Besides that, I took quite much time for shopping some Sarong, Tea (BOH Teh rocks my world!) and so on. The most interesting visit was probably the National Gallery at Merdeka Square – Go there for an relaxing insight into Arts and Literature of Malaysia.

So finally I took a bus (Konsortium Bas) to Johor Bahru (cheaper to go there, than to Singapore directly) and hopped onto the SBS transit bus crossing the border. My dear friend Nick provided me a ride to “The Hive” backapckers, where I was intended to stay for the next few days. Later that day I took a ride to the Airport in order to welcome Julian, a friend of mine from Erlangen, who was gonna join me.

The next days, I spent on visiting former co-workers at Sulzer, eating a lot of delicious Singaporian/South-East Asian food and showing Julian around.
Finally we took a flight to Bangkok to stay there for the last few days. And so my vacation was over…

River Mae Khong

Yeah, I got some Internet access again – finally. Now, I am in Laos – to be precise, in Luang Prabang. LP is the world famous unesco listed world heritage site right at river Mae Khong (= Mekong).

LightningGetting there was a multi-day adventure. First I took a local bus from Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong over incredibly crappy roads… After this almost four hour ride (with having about every km a stop for someone leaving or entering the bus), I chose a guesthouse in Chiang Khong. This place seemed quite “left” – very few travellers around, and people almost begging for someone to stay at their place… So I got a decent room right at river Mekong for just 150 Baht. A room like this would have cost probably 350 in Chiang Mai. Anyway, after a heavy thunderstorm around 8pm I finally got to bed, because on the next morning I wanted to cross the Thai/Laotian border.

So at next morning at around 7.30 I got up and walked down to the pier and got my departure stamp of Thailand. For 40 Baht a tiny ferry takes you over the river, where you can get the Laotian Visa. This one takes some forms to fill out, a recent passport picture and…. 30 US$ in cash.

Mekong river boatAfter getting another few stamps in my passport I reached down the road in order to get a SlowBoat ticket for the two-day river cruise down to Luang Prabang. The scammers around the immigration point tried to sell me a ticket for 1200 Baht – but at the official office it is just 900. The boat finally left at around 11:30 – and I was lucky to be early. Cause the boat was completely packed and I got a very good and quiet seat in the front of the boat… Next to me were some nice US guys and some people from Regensburg and a couple from Sweden.

Mekong cruiseAfter the boat finally arrived around sunset (=1800), we knew each other quite good, had a few Beer Lao and enjoyed the scenic view of the Mekong Riverside… The second day was the same – nice, untouched nature and a long time to bridge. We had again good seats – just because two of the US guys decided to et up at 5am to save the seats! (The boat left at 8.30).

So finally – here I am in Luang Prabang!

But when I reached this decent place in the middle of nowhere, something really crazy happened: I met Ulrike, Katharina and her sister Dorothea which are currently on a round-the-world trip! I did not know that they where around… Very funny meeting a co-worker and former co-student of mine in south-east-asia! So we had some food together and decided to get on a trip to a waterfall tomorrow :)

filed in laos, on tour, thailand

Mountainbiking around Chiang Rai

Rice fieldsToday I rent a mountainbike in order to get around a little more. The guy from the guesthouse showed me and another fellow from GB where to see some nice stuff and get around. So we had a quick stop at the tourist info to get a free map and got onto a ride alongside Mae Kok river. At first, it was just a regular road, but when we took the junction to the waterfall… Lets say it this way: Dirtroad would be the best description… But anyway, that was what we wanted: Steep tracks, through the middle of the jungle – And the best part: a fantastic view onto the jungle, rice patties and so on :)

As soon as I can get my camera working to upload those f**king pictures to flickr, I will post some pictures… Anyway, we had a cheap Pad Thai at some hilltribe villages – which was delicous and pretty much needed after cycling for almost 3 hours :) The best on the food was: In perfect timing to when it was served, the thunderstorm started… So we spent some time drinking some more fresh fruit juice, and continued, when the rain was gone.

At this point the weather of >30C/40% humidity was replaced by ~30C/100% humidity, which was… not really better :)

All in all it was a full day trip, doing about 70km on jungle treks, roads and dirtroads throughout wonderful nature.

Tomorrow I will take a bus to Chiang Kong in order to get to the Laotian border. Stay tuned :)

filed in on tour, thailand

From Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

I spent the last day in Chiang Mai with the long-planned cooking course – which was an absolut highlight! After driving to a market outside Chiang Mai with an detailed introcution to fruits and vegetables we started the course at a nicely located farm around Chiang Mai.

ChiliFirst a, stir fry was prepared followed by a soup and an appetizer. Because we were 8 participants, many different dishes were prepared – and of course, we tried everything for taste and so on… I prepared Pad Thai, a Coconut Chicken Soup and the famous Papaya Salad. After this first round, we got out to the garden to get fresh vegetables, lemongrass and chili for the main dish – the curry. So first there was a curry paste to prepare. I chose the Red Chiang Mai Curry, so some others and me prepared a red curry paste, which was actually a lot of work…

The curry itself, topped with fried noodles was absolutely mindbreaking and delicious :) As dessert, we prepared fried banana. Late in the afternoon we got back to the city – where the Sunday market was just starting up. I was so completely filled up, that I could easily resist any further delicacies…

On Monday morning (8am) I took a bus to Chiang Rai – a almost 3.5h bus ride through the middle of nowhere. After reaching CR, I checked into Chian House, which has a quiet location, nice rooms and a small clean pool. So after taking a short nap, I took a walk to the city – and it was instantly clear: way more relaxed tham CM – Less tourists and way less Lonely-planet-people :)

filed in on tour, thailand

Jungle Trip

Sometimes, plans change… And so on 27th/28th I did my Jungle Trekking Trip – Just because this trip, that I was wanted was not available at the 28th :)

Food in a mountain villageWhat we basically did was hiking for some time through the jungle, getting some dip into a waterfall to refresh and finally reached a quite remote mountain village. There we got some pretty good food and stayed for the night. Actually, it was getting prett cold – That means around 10 degress C… It’s really amazing how fast you can adjust to a new climate, and readjust your feeling of…. cold.

So at the next morning, at around 5.30 we were woken up by a rooster that was practically standing next to the hut, we were sleeping in… Yes, I could have killed this amazingly loud animal in that moment…………..
Anyway, after a delicous breakfast we took another short walk and finally reached another town. Now we switched over to riding elefants through the jungel – and I was the lucky one, to replace a mahoud and sit right on the neck :) It is quite amazing how steep elefants can climb up.

Finally a ride on a bamboo float was on the list… The river was not thyat whitewatered, but it was fun anyway… Besides standing in the sun just in the afternoon in a tropical region is quite…. hot.

filed in on tour, thailand

Chiang Mai

Yesterday night I reached Chiang Mai in northern Thailand via an AirAsia Flight from Bangkok. Because of major Thunderstorms the flight from Dubai had to take a time-intensive reroute by taking a southern route, almost over krabi, which resulted in a late arrival around 19h (ETA was 1840, but before the T-storm was there, we were supposed to reach early).

Temple viewSo I had to be quite in a hurry to reach my connecting flight…Especially immigration control was time intense, so it resulted in jogging with my luggage right across the terminal – from Gate F3 to the Immigration and then to Check in at Terminal A…Temple at sunset But it all worked out – only because the AirAsia flight was also delayed due to the Thunderstorm.Finally I reached ChiangMai around 2240… Getting a random TukTuk I choosed one of the few 24hour guesthouses around the older city part – Just for the first night. The place was quite crappy and for the quality completely overpriced (250B for a single room w/o shower)…

Crispy stuff!So this morning I checked out and got a room in a better guest house, which was quite easy. I am now at the way better Eagle House No2, which is nicely located, way more quiet and gives a better value for better rooms and so on (200B/night incl shower). And they even have a in-house cooking school :) I just got a bicycle and now it is time for a city tour… Right now it is quite hot outside, but right now, traffic is quite low, so I’ll be no problem :)

For the week it is planned: Cooking course tomorrow and then: 3 to 4 day jungle trip organized by the guest house.

filed in on tour, thailand

Back to Asia

After some long break in posting here due to some major workload (or better: overload), I finally get back to blogging – Cause it is time for another trip/vacation again :)

Tomorrow, on 24th of March I will board a flight from Frankfurt via Dubai to Bangkok using a pretty cheap 400€ Emirates flight. After taking some AirAsia connection to Chiang Mai I plan to travel far up northern Thailand into the Golden Triangle visiting even Myanmar… I plan to take some boat trip down the Mekong to get to Luang Prabang and finally to Vientianne. On April 14th I will catch a flight to Kuala Lumpur, but actually, I will spend the last week in Singapore and Bangkok, visiting some friends of my Singapore 2006/2007 adventure.

My flight back to Germany will be on April 21st – So there is 4 weeks of vacation. Stay tuned, frequent updates will be posted!

Update: As there were frequent requests: Packing list (german)

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