lördag 31 maj 2014

Coming home

When I started this trip in August 2012 I was never planning on going back home at any point. But things change, last summer I went back and soon it’s time to go back again. My sister is getting married this summer and even if I told her I wasn't sure I’ll be home then, there was no doubt in my mind that I would be back for it. You’re one of the most important people in my life and I wouldn't miss it for the world… 
See you soon sis =)

måndag 26 maj 2014

Island Life

The night ferry from Chumphon to Ko Tao was really comfortable but too short, arriving on Ko Tao at 4:30 in the morning. I was still tired and slept for a while on a bench outside the hostel waiting for them to open for the day. It felt great to be on the island and also that I reunited with Brett who I met in Bangkok and travelled up north with. After settling in we explored some of Ko Tao’s nice beaches. I arrived on the 13:th and on the neighboring island Ko Phangnan there was the famous Full Moon Party the next day. We hadn’t planned on going there but after we saw a sign with boat ticket to Ko Phangan for 300 bath we just said, why not.
Luckily we could leave our stuff at the hostel and just get over there for the night. So the next day we got on the boat and arrived to the busy Haad Rin beach. The beach party was a lot of fun full of happy dancing people all night until the next morning. Brett and I made it back to the boat and headed back to Ko Tao again.
Ko Tao is a lot smaller but really nice with many smaller quieter beaches with some great snorkeling spots. The way to get around is definitely with motorbikes so you can find the beaches with less people. The main thing about Ko Tao is diving and the island is filled with dive schools, and now in the low season it was possible to find a good deal on a course. I found one I liked and paid 7500 bath (170EUR) for the course. It was an amazing feeling the first time you go down and breathe under water. Diving was a great experienced and I enjoyed every moment of it.
After the dive course was over and Brett left to go down to Malaysia I felt I was time for me to move on as well. I was considering going straight to the mainland and start riding south. I decided instead to go back to Ko Phangnan to see more of the island then just the full moon party. I thought for a while I wouldn’t be able to go there since the two first boat companies I talked to me wouldn’t take the bicycle on the boat. Luckily the last company would and I could place it in the back on the boat.
Being here in the low season and when the full moon in over has its perks and accommodation is really cheap. I found a really nice and social hostel with aircon and swimming pool for just 100 bath. There’s a lot of parties on this island and most stick to the moon theme. The second day I was there was the Half Moon Party. After a fun pre party with a friend I met up in Chiang Mai we hit the party full of body paint and joined the rest of the glowing people dancing to the trance music.
The next couple of days in Ko Phangan I took it very slow and visited some beaches and just relaxed. Then one day we got the news of the military coup and there was a nationwide curfew from 10 pm to 5 am. So places closed much earlier than usually and the hostel I was staying at got shut down by the police one night when they played music and served drinks. And the island died off even more after the half-moon party was over and not much was going on in the hostel.
So I decided to leave the island and will be getting on a night ferry to Surat Thani tonight and then ride down to Krabi next. I have had a great time here on the island and met a lot of great people, but it also feels like I’ve seen it and it’s time to move on again.

lördag 10 maj 2014

On my way south

Riding a bicycle in and around Bangkok is not something I would recommend anyone. Even though I rode 90 km it still felt like I hadn’t left Bangkok, there’s so much traffic and I was just looking forward to get away from that. And it was much better day two when I found some nice small roads to follow close to the sea. For a long while the road went through massive salt fields, and it was really interesting and nice to see the work going on in the fields.
After a beautiful bike ride I stopped for the night in the very touristy town of Cha-am. It’s definitely not a place for me with hotels everywhere, a not very nice beach full of beach chairs, boats and jet ski’s driving around. So I just stayed the one night and save the days on the beach for when I get to the islands. I continued south from Cha-am and passed through Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. It was a beautiful place to ride through and I took my time that day since I planned to stop at a place in the park for the night. But around there where only fancy hotels and resorts, so I continued on hoping to find something further on. After a calm day the wind picked up in the afternoon and on course that meant head wind. Tired and hungry I was glad to see a sign for camping at a beach I passed by. It was a beautiful place still within the national park and I could set up my tent right next to the beach.
What I hadn’t planned with was how hot it would be sleeping in the tent. And it was like a sauna in there and no way that I would get any sleep, even though I opened everything up. The wind I was struggling with before had completely stopped. So I covered myself in mosquito repellent and lay my mattress on a bench right next to the beach. A beautiful place but I didn't sleep much.
But it was all worth it when the first thing I say when I opened my eyes in the morning was this amazing sunrise.

After a bad night I only did 50 km to the next town and had a great afternoon nap for a couple of hours. Today I was feeling on top again and pushed on for 110 km. In the evening I had to stop and get away from the rain. It was raining a lot, but after one hour it stopped and I was back on the road again. And riding after heavy rain is just great, the air is so fresh and after days and days of extreme heat I really enjoyed riding this afternoon.

Tomorrow I’ll be riding down to Chumphon and get on a ferry to Ko Tao. I’m really looking forward to get back to an island and we’ll see how long I’ll spend there before getting back to the mainland and continue riding south.

söndag 4 maj 2014

On vacation up north

Last Thursday Brett who also was staying with the same couchsurfer in Bangkok and I got on the night train to Chiand Mai. I felt good to take a little break from cycling and live the life of a backpacker for a while. I really wanted to see north of Thailand, but it felt a bit to far to ride my bike up there and back again. Also really nice to have a travel companion that I got along with very well.
The train ride was nice but I didn't have that much sleep until we woke up in Chiang Mai at just after 4 in the morning. I was nice to arrive early in the morning when the air was a little cooler compared to a very hot Bangkok. And we were lucky to be able to check in early in the morning at the hostel and had a few more hours of sleep.
We realized that there isn’t that much to see in town unless you love temples, bit I feel I’ve seen enough of them. But we met some really nice people and got a taste of the nightlife in Chiang Mai. After two nights in Chiang Mai Brett and I rented scooters for a couple of days and rode to the small town of Pai. It was an amazing ride on the winding roads in the mountains and a lot easier that to have to cycle up there :-p But the best thing about bicycles is that you never run out of petrol. Unfortunately scooters do and I learned that the hard way. Luckily it happened during a downhill and I only had to push my bike about 200 meters until I could fill up from one of many places that sells petrol out of a barrel with a hand pump.
From Pai we also went on a day trip to some caves. We had company with Veronica from Norway and had a great day. The ride there was absolutely amazing on perfect roads up and down the hills. The cave was really nice and we went into the cave on a bamboo raft. After the cave we got back to Pai just in time to see the sunset at the Pai canyon witch was a perfect end to a great day trip.
We stayed at a place called Darlings resort witch was run by a super nice lady who is called darling and also call everyone else darling. From there we had a short walk down a hill and over a bamboo bridge to the center of the little town with some good restaurants and a pretty good and chilled out night life.
We rented our bikes for four days and had to get back to Chiang Mai to return them. If not, then I have a feeling I might have gotten stuck in Pai for longer. The ride back was as good as before and we didn’t have any incidents with the bikes. We were of course careful since we had seen so many people with bandages and hear many stories about people having accidents with the bikes.
Before Leaving Pai we stopped by a elephant camp where we got to pet and feed the elephants. And when getting so close you realize how big and those animals really are.

Even though Pai was great it also felt good to be back at our hostel in Chiang Mai again. We met up with people we met there before and people from Pai and we didn’t get to bed that night until the sun was back up again. The rest of the time in Chiang Mai we just relaxed, explored a little around the city, chilled out by the pool and drank as many fruit shakes as we could.
After a great time up north it was eventually time to get on another night train back to Bangkok and back to the bicycle again. With a new rear tire and new pedals (second pair that broke) I’m ready to ride out of Bangkok and go south. And I can’t wait to get back to the sea again..