November 5th 2012: Alor Setar, Malaysia – Hat Samran, Thailand
Driven distance on November 5th 2012: 320km (200 miles)
Driven distance total: 51’480km (31’990 miles)
Now we went on our way to Thailand, where we crossed since a long time a boarder together with the Landrover. At the small boarder we encountered some problems with the duration of our stay in Thailand. For us we got only 2 month and for the car simply 30 days. Now we have to organize extensions along our way. Here in Thailand we realized, that obviously the people can’t nearly speak English as the Malay. We stayed overnight somewhere along the coast at one of the numerous beaches.
November 6th 2012: Hat Samran – Hat Yao, Thailand
Driven distance on November 6th 2012: 120km (70 miles)
Driven distance total: 51’600km (32’060 miles)
Our daily goal was nothing else then to drive to the next beach:-). In the south of Thailand is not much to see in the interior. We found a long, wonderful beach, which we had to share only with some fishermen and 2 or 3 tourists! The great surroundings with towering cliffs and islands in the sea is typical for the southern region. As many times before we spent the rest of the day with relaxing, swimming, reading and cooking:-).
November 7th – 9th 2012: Hat Yao, Thailand
Driven distance on November 7th – 9th 2012: 60km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 51’660km (32’100 miles)
Sun, Fun and nothing to do! Yes precisely, we didn’t do much at all. The first day we were looking for another beach near Pak Meng, but since the Yao beach is much more prettier and quieter, we just ended up again back where we started. On the last day, we had a visit from Perla and Dominik. The two Swiss from Zurich with the blue van, that we met back in February in Oman, put up their camp just besides us on the beach and we enjoyed a very nice time together. It was a great picture to see the two vehicles at the secluded beach :-).
November 10th 2012: Hat Yao – Ko Lanta, Thailand
Driven distance on November 10th 2012: 190km (120 miles)
Driven distance total: 51’850km (32’220 miles)
Around lunch time we said goodbye to Perla and Dominik, which are staying one more day, and left the beautiful place at the Yao Beach. After our lunch in a tiny village restaurant, we discovered along the road a so-called „Bird Singing Contest“. The contest is about which birdy is the nicest singer... The little decorated cages, where the birds are sitting inside, are hung on a big rack. The owners (almost only men) are standing nearby, the start signal is coming and all of them are quiet and are listening to the singing of the little birds. A judge does then decide, which bird was singing best. After what criteria this is happening we couldn’t really find out:-). If you cruise through the little villages, you can see at almost every house such a cage with also different types of birds. Apparently is the keeping of such birds an old tradition and brings luck for the house and the people.
Soon we approached the ferry that goes to the Ko Lanta Island. After arriving on the island, we realized for the first time in Thailand, that we have to share the country with millions of other tourists:-/. The village Salang is full of hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops etc. Since we wanted to grant us a shower, we took a hotel room and enjoyed a Pizza at the Italian.
November 11th – 16th 2012: Ko Lanta, Thailand
Driven distance on November 11th – 16th 2012: 110km (70 miles)
Driven distance total: 51’960km (32’290 miles)
Luckily we found finally a good place for camping on the very touristy Ko Lanta island. Directly at the wonderful Ao Khlong Jaak beach was a “campground” where we parked and put up our camp. The “campground” was nothing else then a small field besides a bar where we could use the toilet and the outdoor shower. We enjoyed the time with swimming, reading, writing reports and simply relaxing. Since there are almost no hotels at this beach, we didn’t have to share the beach and the sea with too many other visitors:-).
On the last day we visited the old peaceful village Ban Ko Lanta. It used the be the commercial center with it’s port of the island in the old days. Some of the houses are over 100 years old. At the end we went back to the same hotel as on the first day on the island.
November 17th 2012: Ko Lanta – Krabi, Thailand
Driven distance on November 17th 2012: 100km (60 miles)
Driven distance total: 52’060km (32’350 miles)
Today we went from the Island Ko Lanta back to the mainland. After a short trip we already arrived in the town of Krabi.
November 18th – 21st 2012: Krabi, Thailand
Driven distance on November 18th – 21st 2012: 50km (30 miles)
Driven distance total: 52’110km (32’380 miles)
On the morning of the 18th, I (Stefan) woke up with a swollen foot. The swelling came from the toe, which still had a small wound (on the way to be better) from the snorkeling two month ago. So we went to the hospital and got one week worth of antibiotics. 2 days later we had again an appointment in the hospital. They told us to be there between 8 and 10AM. Around 9AM we arrived and there was some chaos in the waiting area. Everywhere were persons sitting, patients in wheelchairs, and in the middle of it even some visitors on hospital beds. After we were still waiting at lunch time, we asked someone and became the answer „come back at 2PM“ L. So we went back to the hospital in the afternoon to hear from the doctor, that I need to keep on taking the meds :-). Otherwise we spent most of the time in the hotel room, since I shouldn’t have been walking too much.
November 22nd 2012: Krabi – Ao Nang, Thailand
Driven distance on November 22nd 2012: 50km (30 miles)
Driven distance total: 52’160km (32’410 miles)
The short trip to Ao Nang, as well as the area around Krabi is concerning the landscape very beautiful, with high forest covered lime stone towers on land as well as in the sea. The coastal town of Ao Nang is very touristy but the beach surrounded by high cliffs very beautiful. Anyways we went to a quieter place. We continued further north to the Klong Muang beach, where we could find an OK place to stay. At the northern end of the beach are mainly big all-Inclusive luxury resorts and 2 big gravel loading stations for ships (long conveyer belts out to the sea). In the centre of the beach are some fishers and in the south the summer mansion from the Kings family. Our place to stay was somewhere between the fishers and the royal palace. Unfortunately we had to flee inside the car in the evening, since the monsoon rain, which should be over by now, was coming. Also some local kiddies were looking for some shelter from the rain. At one point they got too bored underneath the car and the figured it is funnier to try to open the rear rain protection of the car, to smash some bottles, to knock on the door and to yell around…
November 23rd 2012: Ao Nang, Thailand
Driven distance on November 23rd 2012: 50km (30 miles)
Driven distance total: 52’210km (32’440 miles)
Around lunch we went back to Ao Nang into the tourist crowds. After some annoying searching of a good place to stay we ended up at a parking lot near the beach where we could park and use the showers and toilets for free. Unfortunately it was near a jetty where the whole time little buses were cruising around. The reason to come bak to Ao Nang was not really that we missed the tourists, but rather the Swiss restaurant from Roland :-). For dinner we granted us some typical Swiss food, a delicious raclette and a yummy cordon bleu. Well yes, this was really tasty and it felt good:-)! On the walls were everywhere amazing pictures from the beautiful Switzerland, that we almost got a bit homesick ;-).
Unfortunately was the night not really as quiet as expected. There were still scooters cruising around, even when it was already completely dark.
November 24th 2012: Ao Nang – Khao Phanom Bencha National Park, Thailand
Driven distance on November 24th 2012: 60km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 52’270km (32’480 miles)
As many times in the morning we were sitting comfortable in our chairs, Stefan with laptop on his lap and me reading a book. 3 little Thai boys were interested what Stefan was doing on the PC. He showed them some pictures from Switzerland, one of them from lush green fields in the summertime, so one of the guys thought immediately of a golf course:-). Afterwards the 4 had a laughing session with „Photo Booth“, a program where you can take pictures with strange looking special effects faces. The little 5 year old boy was screaming from joy until the worried mother came and took him back:-). Afterwards we paid a short visit at Roland’s Swiss Restaurant. He could give some good information from the area and I could exchange the old books with new lecture from the hotel library. In the afternoon we visited the „Shell Fossil Cemetery“. First it looks like there are broken concrete plates on the beach. If you look a bit closer and read the information boards, you discover that those plates are actually 75 million years old and are shells pressed together. In the later afternoon we continued to the Khao Phanom Bencha National Park, where we could sleep on the campground there.
November 25th 2012: Khao Phanom Bencha National Park – Krabi, Thailand
Driven distance on November 25th 2012: 40km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 52’310km (32’500 miles)
In the national park we visited the local waterfall, which contains 11 levels. But since my foot (Stefan) was still not back to normal and the track was getting really bad, we stopped in the middle of the beautiful waterfalls. We went to the same hotel as the last time when we were back in Krabi.
November 26th 2012: Krabi, Thailand
Driven distance on November 26th 2012: 120km (70 miles)
Driven distance total: 52’430km (32’580 miles)
One of the main attractions near Krabi is the „Tiger Cave“. The legend sais, that a tiger used to live in this cave. At one point some monks and nuns took over the place for meditation, and the tiger went away and was never seen again… Even today are about 30 to 40 monks and nuns living here in this complex. First we visited the Buddhist statues in front of the cave. Inside of the cave was not much else then some smaller statues and a fake tiger. We continued the 1250 steps sweating and heavy breathing to the 600m (1970 feet) high hill. The effort was definitely worth it. The view across the hilly landscape was superb, and there was even a big golden Buddha statue. After we were back down, we took a short hike in the forest where we could see some caves, Buddha and huge trees. According to the orange clothes hanging on the ropes, it seems that there are still some monks are living in the forest and caves. We drove then to the next tourist attraction, some hot springs. Unfortunately it started again to rain, but it was actually quite welcoming, since otherwise it wouldn’t be that enjoying to sit in hot spring while it is over 30°C (90°F) outside. The hot springs in the middle of a forest had several naturally shaped rock pools in which it was very nice to sit in. After some time we had enough from the hot water and we continued to some colder waters. Also the next place, the „Emerald Pool“ lies in the middle of a forest and is famous for its crystal clear water. Still in the rain we took a short dip and continued walking to the next blue shiny pool.
November 27th 2012: Krabi – Railay, Thailand
Driven distance on November 27th 2012: 20km (10 miles)
Driven distance total: 52’450km (32’590 miles)
Now we went on our way to one of the apparently nicest beaches worldwide. By boat we went to the nearby peninsula Railay. The place is besides the wonderful beaches also well known for rock climbing. After we found a cheap guesthouse and after we filled our bellies with lunch we intended to rent a canoe to appreciate the coast like this. As soon as we paid the canoe and wanted to start around 1PM, it started to rain. Since it didn’t stop to rain the whole day, we spend the rest of the day in restaurants and at the guesthouse.
November 28th 2012: Railay – Krabi, Thailand
Driven distance on November 28th 2012: 20km (10 miles)
Driven distance total: 52’470km (32’600 miles)
In the morning we went strait to the „Phra Nang beach“, the most beautiful beach of Railay. Here is simply one luxury resort, besides this is the bay free from constructions and just nature. On the left side are rising high limestone cliffs out of the water with beautifully bizarre formations that look like water drops who are hanging from the cliffs. As well you have a perfect view at limestone cliffs who are rising from the water. Really not that bad, one has to say :-). Afterwards we intended to hike to the viewpoint and a hidden lagoon in the forest. The hike turned then into a climbing session! Since it was raining a lot the day before, the extremely steep track was very slippery and dirty and therefor quite dangerous. Fearless we went on our way – and it was well worth it. We got rewarded with a absolutely fantastic view. The track to the lagoon then, was quite similar like the one to the viewpoint. At one point you had to go vertically down a small waterfall. We actually skipped this part, since we weren’t quite prepared for such adventures :-). In the afternoon we finally made the canoe tour which was originally planned for the day before. We paddled along the cliffs, explored small caves, enjoyed the view at the different beaches and let us lead from the sea back and forth. But soon it was time to say goodbye and we got on a boat and went back to Ao Nang. Since today the Loi Krathong festival is happening, we drove back to the town Krabi. At this festival, the Thais are thanking to the gods of the rivers that they are supplying the fields and forests with water. In the whole country are little tiny handmade boats sent to the rivers. The boats are made from banana leaves and are decorated with flowers, incent and candles, and sometimes the people put some coins inside the boats. We strolled along the huge market, tried some weird food (but skipped the part with the grasshoppers:-)), looked at the beautifully made boats that you could buy for a dollar or two and looked astonished what else there was to buy. On one of the stages was even a beauty contest for kids going on. It was funny to see how the 6 – 7 years old Thai-girls in their nicest dress and full of make-up came to the stage, presented a poem or a song and shy went back on their place. Well, most of the time we were sitting near the river and watched the people putting their boats into the water. After some time the river was full of lightened boats, a beautiful picture! Also very popular are the big lampions, where hundreds were flying to the sky.
November 29th 2012: Krabi – Nai Yang (Phuket), Thailand
Driven distance on November 29th 2012: 170km (110 miles)
Driven distance total: 52’640km (32’710 miles)
We started our journey towards Phuket after some shopping in a big supermarket. Along the way we purchased also a hammock, which actually belongs to the standard equipment of the Landy anyways :-). We already knew the beach of Nai Yang on the island Phuket, since we were at this place a few month ago for kite surfing when the car got shipped from India to Malaysia. The Nai Yang beach is still a quiet place compared to the other extremely touristy places on Phuket. We found a cozy “campground” where we could stay for 5$ per night and use the showers, toilets and WI-FI.
November 30th – December 1st 2012: Nai Yang (Phuket), Thailand
Driven distance on November 30th – December 1st 2012: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 52’640km (32’710 miles)
For once we didn’t do much at all in Nai Yang... Swimming, reading, writing etc.. We were quite happy with our campground. What made us laugh were the showers… Instead of the normal shower head there was a coconut with holes mounted directly on the hose, and instead a knob to turn the water on there was a rope to pull on:-). Great idea, or not? In addition to that was no door to get in the shower and to get into the second shower, you had to go through the first… but luckily we were the only guests :-).
December 2nd 2012: Nai Yang – Chalong (Phuket), Thailand
Driven distance on December 2nd 2012: 90km (60 miles)
Driven distance total: 52’730km (32’760 miles)
Around lunch we started to go further south in direction Chalong on the island of Phuket. One of the reasons to go there was, that we wanted to visit Kite-school Bob, which we met last August (at that time in Nai Yang), spent a lot of time with him and bought one kite. After some chatting and storytelling we started to look once again for a quite place to stay. Both of the suggestions from Bob and his wife didn’t help too much. At one of the beaches it was full of tourists and finally no open public toilets, and at the other place near the Rawai beach it wasn’t really nice and the toilets were closed as well. Somewhat frustrated we drove back towards Chalong and we found a cheap hotel to stay.
December 3rd 2012: Chalong – Phuket Town, Thailand
Driven distance on December 3rd 2012: 40km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 52’770km (32’790 miles)
Since our 30 days permission for the car in Thailand was almost running out, we had to organize an extension. But first we went to the immigration office where we could extend our visa by one month, so we have now 3 month. For the car we had to go to the customs office just besides it. Without any problems and even free of charge we could get another 3 month for the car. Afterwards we looked for a hotel and visited the the beautiful old town of Phuket Town.
December 4th 2012: Phuket Town – Mai Khao (Phuket), Thailand
Driven distance on December 4th 2012: 50km (30 miles)
Driven distance total: 52’820km (32’820 miles)
Since we had to wait for our laundry until noon we only stayed at the hotel room and spent some time in the internet etc… But then we finally started to go to the Mai Khao beach in the northwest of Phuket. Supposedly this should be a beach with almost no people and hotels. And well, we really were almost the only people on the beach! There were actually 2 or 3 luxury resorts, but they miles away from each other and the people rather stayed at their swimming pools and enjoyed their overpriced imported beer :-). The beach and surroundings we had just for us, a really nice place for camping. Since the beach was quite close to the airport, we have heard and seen from time to time an airplane, but it didn’t distracted us at all.
All of a sudden were two younger people (looked like Europeans) appearing in the afternoon, which are currently living in Phuket but are originally from Kenya. He was really interested in the Landrover and we chatted about many things. In the evening they returned and we had a good BBQ together at the beach.
December 5th 2012: Mai Khao (Phuket) – Bang Niang beach (Khao Lak), Thailand
Driven distance on December 5th 2012: 160km (100 miles)
Driven distance total: 52’980km (32’920 miles)
Until lunch time we enjoyed the nice beach of Mai Khao. We left then the island Phuket and drove along the west coast towards Khao lak. Along the way we stopped and purchased some pork steak and 2 pieces of fresh fish:-). From the internet we knew that there is a beach near Khao Lak which is well known by overlanders. Supposedly there is an actual overlander gathering around Christmas and New Year. We actually expected, that this place is somewhat secluded from the very touristy Khao Lak. Therefor we were quite surprised when people sent us down a road with tons of restaurants and hotels. Very skeptical we drove down this road until we were standing in front of a huge truck with Swiss license plates; well we were at the right place :-). Besides the truck was also an Iveco campervan present with a German couple. We started to cook our dinner after we said hello to the Germans, Ana Laura und Hubert. The Swiss were unfortunately not there, because they were in Singapore to renew their visa.
December 6th 2012: Bang Niang beach (Khao Lak), Thailand
Driven distance on December 6th 2012: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 52’980km (32’920 miles)
Half of the morning we spent with our overland neighbors Hubert und Ana Laura. We told stories from the traveller’s life and exchanged information. The two somewhat elder Germans are on the road since 7 years. It is rather a real living then a travelling in their Iveco truck. At this location now, they are staying for 5 months.
The Swiss from Zurich with the great truck are as well on the road since 2005.
The afternoon we spent once again with Internet, swimming in the nice sea, sun bathing etc...
December 7th 2012: Bang Niang beach (Khao Lak) – Khao Sok NP, Thailand
Driven distance on December 7th 2012: 70km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 53’050km (32’960 miles)
Our goal for today was the Khao Sok national park. The way to there was really nice with the steep cliffs and lots of forest. But there are also many rubber tree plantations, like everywhere in south and central Thailand. The night we could spend on the cozy campground in the jungle.
December 8th 2012: Khao Sok NP, Thailand
Driven distance on December 8th 2012: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 53’050km (32’960 miles)
So, today is for once a sporty day. The plan was, to conquer the 7km (4.3 miles) long track to the Ton Kloi waterfall in the national park. We started fully motivated with some food and water in the backpack. The track through the jungle was luckily mainly in the shade, otherwise it would have been really difficult. The track changed from a small dirt road t a real jungle track after about 2km (1.2 miles). After a while the path really got adventures and sometimes it went really steep up and down! Somewhere towards the end of the path came the sign “200m Ton Kloi Waterfall“. The guys who put the sign there were unfortunately somewhat wrong. Since it probably was 200 meter (660 feet) directly “air distance” we needed over half an hour on the terrible path to get there L ! According to a guide who was there with other tourists it is probably 10km (6.2 miles) instead of the mentioned 7km (4.3 miles), this would explain why it took us 3 ½ hours to get there :-/ ! Now before we could enjoy our lunch (some slices of toast and a can of tuna) we had to get rid of some nasty leeches. After our crappy lunch we finally granted us a swim in the nice cold pool at the waterfall! Since we realized all of a sudden that several people are crossing the river and entering the other side of the jungle we asked around and a guide mentioned that there is also another, easier way to get back. Also we tried then to look for the obviously much easier way and crossed the river. Shortly after we strolled around quite confused in the forest without any track. 2 Swiss people, Susanne und Sebi, which we met before at the waterfall, tried the same, so we were 4 Swiss people who were wondering around the jungle without any clue. The whole thing was getting somewhat adventures, since the time was running away to turn back, because it takes over 3 hours and could get dark then. Luckily we found a path and we were quite happy. Unfortunately was the track finished just like that after some time and we were a bit in trouble. To go back to the waterfall it was now too late, so we walked along the riverbed. Well, this plan didn’t work out after another 10 minutes walking, so we crossed again the river and luckily found the original track which we took when we came up to the waterfall. In a fast pace we walked back and made it before the sun disappeared. After this adventure we had to grant us to some beers:-). Later in the evening we met once again Susanne, Sebi and some other people at the chill out bar to have a beer.
December 9th 2012: Khao Sok NP – Chiaw Lan Dam, Thailand
Driven distance on December 9th 2012: 90km (60 miles)
Driven distance total: 53’140km (33’020 miles)
Our sweaty cloth were finally dry and we could start to drive towards the dam and the artificial lake, which lies as well in the national park. When we paid the previous camping nights we asked if there is probably by any chance a blooming rafflesia flower in the park. We were lucky and the flower lies somewhere along the way to the dam. Luckily we found the way right away and soon we were hiking with two 18 year old boys, who almost didn’t speak one word English, to the rafflesia flower. And once again the track went steep up the hill and after 1 hour we could check out the wonderful flower. The flower had a diameter of about 60cm (24 inches), but was already blooming since a few days, which we could see from the somewhat faded leaves. All over the place we could see many other rafflesia flowers in different stages. From very small “balls” to other ones who are just a few days before they are blooming. The biggest ones have a diameter of 80cm (32 inches) and are blooming approx. 7 days. We arrived at the dam shortly before dusk. As usual when we arrive late we had some problems to find a place to stay. Finally we ended up in a research center in the forest and were allowed by the nice guys to camp there.
December 10th 2012: Chiaw Lan Dam - Khanom, Thailand
Driven distance on December 10th 2012: 190km (120 miles)
Driven distance total: 53’330km (33’140 miles)
We checked out the dam from different angles before we started to drive towards the east coast. Although the lake is artificial, it is really beautiful to see how the lime stone cliffs are coming out of the water.
After arriving in Khanom we found quickly a quiet place at the beach for the night.
December 11th 2012: Khanom, Thailand
Driven distance on December 11th 2012: 40km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 53’370km (33’160 miles)
The coastal part of Khanom is famous for its very rare pink dolphins. We looked for a good viewing place and checked out, armed with binoculars, the sea. Hours later we still didn’t see any dolphins... L. Probably we were out of luck or at the wrong time of the year or you simply have to take a boat to get out there. Well, at least we tried it :-). Afterwards we decided to stay overnight at the same spot.
December 12th 2012: Khanom – Ko Samui, Thailand
Driven distance on December 12th 2012: 140km (90 miles)
Driven distance total: 53’510km (33’250 miles)
Once again in the morning it was a waste of time to look for the purple dolphins. We continued in a good mood in direction ferry to go to the island of Ko Samui. Well, and then everything got different then we expected. Of course we knew that Ko Samui is absolutely touristy, but we still hoped that we find a descent quiet place for camping on the beach like on Ko Lanta or Phuket. 4 hours later we ended up in a hotel almost at the same place as we started L . The island has everywhere hotels etc...! We even got stuck on a extremely steep concrete track during our annoying search. The concrete track was even dry, but it was so extremely steep, that the wheels started to spin and we slided 1m (3 feet) backwards. Thanks to the park break we finally stopped. The whole situation wasn’t funny at all. Inch by inch with the help of the park break we crawled back into the flat part. At the second try with full speed the hill climbing worked out better :-).
December 12th – 16th 2012: Ko Samui, Thailand
Driven distance on December 12th – 16th 2012: 70km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 53’580km (33’290 miles)
Because of the frustration from the night before, we stayed one night more in the same hotel in the town Na Thong. During the day we just did some shopping. The next day we tried once more to find a place for camping. Surprisingly we found a more or less decent place at the beach. Since it was raining like hell, we put up our new 4x6 yards plastic cover, which is now working as our living and dining room :-), and we fought successful against the heavy rain and wind. Even the stormy night couldn’t harm the cover:-), test passed! The weather got better the next morning and the beach got alive. The laying chairs got fiiled up and the jet skis were everywhere... And once again we were a bit annoyed by all the trouble. At the final day we visited the extremely touristy places of Chaweng und Lamai. Unfortunately we really do not understand what’s the beauty should be on those beaches. Afterwards we visited a waterfall, which was surprisingly nice! The night we spent again in our hotel in Na Thong.
December 17th 2012: Ko Samui – Phumriang, Thailand
Driven distance on December 17th 2012: 170km (110 miles)
Driven distance total: 53’750km (33’400 miles)
After we were back on the mainland with the ferry we continued to drive north. We stopped shortly along the way to balance the front tires. After the first try it was much worse then before and our max. speed was 60km/h (35 mph)! So once again into a shop and now is more or less good. In Phumriang we could camp besides a restaurant at the beach and use their toilet.
December 18th 2012: Ko Samui – Thung Wua Laen Beach (Chumphon), Thailand
Driven distance on December 18th 2012: 190km (120 miles)
Driven distance total: 53’940km (33’520 miles)
Our goal for today was the Thung Wua Laen Beach near Chumphon. From the internet we knew that this place is supposed to be good for kite surfing. For lunch we stopped at a small restaurant along the road. Unfortunately we were a bit out of luck and the food wasn’t great at all. In the gravy were mainly bones, chicken feet and some kind of blood sausage... Well you can’t always win :-). After we arrived at the beach we found after some search a good place directly at the beach where we can use the showers and the toilet of a hotel.
December 19th 2012 - January 11th 2013: Thung Wua Laen Beach (Chumphon), Thailand
Driven distance on December 19th 2012 - January 11th 2013: 160km (100 miles)
Driven distance total: 54’100km (33’620 miles)
Now it was about time to grant us some time off from travelling ;-). More then 3 weeks we were stuck at the same beach. The beach was exactly right for us. Not many tourists, only one beach roads with a few restaurants, bars and hotels, so it was easy to know everything after short time. The first couple of days we stayed directly at the beach along the road, until one night a heavy storm woke us up. The sea acted so strong, that the water almost reached the car, the wind blew brutally against the tent walls and the thunder and lightning were just around us. So we had to move. Around Christmas time we finally could go kite surfing again. For 3 days we had good wind, yohoo :-). Since we aren’t quite pros yet in this sport, we decided to drive to a nearby bay, where the sea is less wild then at our beach. Unfortunately the bay didn’t match the impression people have from Thailand. Instead of a wonderful sea, gorgeous sand and palm trees, we had hazy brown water, muddy ground in the water and garbage along the beach L. After we ignored those facts, it really was ideal for kite surfing.
On December 30th we got a visit from the couple from Zurich, Perla and Dominik with the blue Mercedes Bus, which we met 2 month earlier at the Yao beach. On December 31st we got another visitor, this time directly from Switzerland. Thomas Monsch, The previous owner of the Landrover came by with a food bag full of chocolate, cheese etc...! Just great, thanks again Thomas:-)!!
Since this beach is also a popular place for excursions for the Thais, it was quite busy around new year. Along the side of the road were numerous vehicles of the locals with huge sound systems and terrible Thai pop music. Many of them enjoyed together with the music also Whiskey in larger amounts. In the following days we could enjoy some more kite surfing, but this time at the nice beach where we stayed.
As it is to expect when you stay 3 weeks at the same place, we also got to know several different people! We have seen everything, from funny interesting tourists to crazy cracked old war veterans who live there:-).
All in all it was a really good time and felt good to stay for 3 weeks at the same place.
January 11th 2013: Thung Wua Laen Beach (Chumphon) – Sand Dune Beach, Thailand
Driven distance on January 11th 2013: 80km (50 miles)
Driven distance total: 54’180km (33’670 miles)
By chance we have found a restaurant on the beach that sells home made bread. And since „normal“ bread is rare in Asia we bought a bunch of breads because of the coming breakfasts and mainly that we don’t have to eat the cheese fondue with toast ;-). The trip continued north along the coast. Along the way were several view points from where we enjoyed a great view over the sea and the islands. Our place to spend the night was once again at a wonderful beach with absolutely no people. In the background were some sand dunes (where the beach has it’s name from) covered with bushes and grass. For dinner we had for once a yummy cheese fondue! As many times in the evening we have seen numerous fishing boats on the sea, which have 2 long, heavy illuminated arms reaching far over the water. They use the light to attract the squids to the fishing nets.
January 12th 2013: Sand Dune Beach – Sai Kaew Beach, Thailand
Driven distance on January 12th 2013: 70km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 54’250km (33’710 miles)
The trip continued along pineapple plantations to the next beach. For lunch we stopped at the cozy, nice looking Bang Saphan beach, where there are some tourists, restaurants and hotels. We felt like continuing and we found a really exclusive place at the Sai Kaew beach. On the right and left side from us was each a small cove – the highlight of all beach places!
January 13th 2013: Sai Kaew Beach, Thailand
Driven distance on January 13th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 54’250km (33’710 miles)
Since we really liked it here, we stayed another day and enjoyed this special place. Just before lunch we strolled towards the nearby village to get some food. Unfortunately we didn’t find any restaurant, so we bought in a shop an instant tom yam soup. The nice man from the shop even cooked us some water and we could eat the soup directly in front of his shop :-). In general are the Thais very helpful and friendly, but on the other hand very shy and chary. Also the famous Thai-smile is no cliché:-).
January 14th 2013: Sai Kaew Beach – Hat Wanakorn NP, Thailand
Driven distance on January 14th 2013: 60km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 54’310km (33’750 miles)
During the journey we encountered a scooter with driver and two monkeys on it. Those monkeys are trained to get the ready coconuts down from the palm trees. We spent the night at the Wanakorn beach, which is part of a national park. For us are those parks very useful, since are made for camping and have the necessary infrastructure like showers and toilets.
January 15th 2013: Hat Wanakorn NP – Sam Phraya NP, Thailand
Driven distance on January 15th 2013: 110km (70 miles)
Driven distance total: 54’420km (33’820 miles)
In the village Prachuap Khiri Khan we visited the Ao Noi temple. This one was entirely built from teak wood and is decorated with many fantastic carvings. On the inside we could see many magnificent paintings from the life of Buddha. The night we spent at the Sam Phraya beach in the Khao Sam Roi Yot national park. During the daily drive we have seen whole areas full of shrimp breeding farms.
January 16th 2013: Sam Phraya NP – Pranburi Forest Park, Thailand
Driven distance on January 16th 2013: 70km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 54’490km (33’860 miles)
And again we covered some miles…
January 17th 2013: Pranburi Forest Park – Hua Hin, Thailand
Driven distance on January 17th 2013: 70km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 54’560km (33’900 miles)
After a short trip we arrived in the city of Hua Hin and spent the first night on a parking lot directly at the beach.
January 18th – 19th 2013: Hua Hin, Thailand
Driven distance on January 18th – 19th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 54’560km (33’900 miles)
Hua Hin is the nightmare of every backpacker or overlander. Endless masses of people which are sunbathing in the numerous laying chairs in front of the Hilton until they turn red :-). Hua Hin is a big city and along the beach it is full of huge buildings. At any one time we paid a visit to the bar quarter and had some beers. The bar quarter is also acting partially as red light district. The beautiful, thin and young Thai girls are leaving the place from time to time with an old overweight ugly guy. For some of the girls it is definitely a possibility to have a “better” life, but it is still difficult to understand for us.
It would also have been possible to kite surf in Hua Hin, but we skipped it because we didn’t have too much motivation with all the people in the way on the beach.
But now let’s talk about one good thing on touristy places like that, the food. Those days we filled our stomach with western food. Everything was on the menu, from bratwurst to typical Swiss dishes to real rib-eye steaks. There is also to say that normally we really love the Thai food, but you have to eat where there are no tourists. The normally spicy Thai food is served quite flavorless and boring in tourist restaurants. When we eat Thai food we usually order besides the rice 3 or 4 plates with different food. Mostly we get some curry dish with seafood, some chicken with cashew nuts, a spicy Papaya-salad or some other yummy dishes:-).
January 20th 2013: Hua Hin – Puak Tian beach, Thailand
Driven distance on January 20th 2013: 50km (30 miles)
Driven distance total: 54’610km (33’930 miles)
At the absolutely secluded beach, far away from the main roads, we got installed completely with the open roof, the chairs, table and so on… Shortly after we realized that we have forgotten everything else, like buying water :-). Since the beer in the fridge wasn’t really the perfect beverage to kill the thirst, we walked along the beach into the nearby village. After 45 minutes two farangs, that’s hwo the locals call the foreigners :-), appeared out of nowhere in their tiny village. Once again many confused and questioning faces were looking very strange at us. But then they were happy and smiled. Sometimes we really feel like we are from a different planet;-).
January 21st 2013: Puak Tian beach – Phetchaburi, Thailand
Driven distance on January 21st 2013: 50km (30 miles)
Driven distance total: 54’660km (33’960 miles)
Around lunch we arrived in the town of Phetchaburi. In the afternoon we visited the Mahathat Worawihan temple, at which a shiny 5 leveled Khmer-style-stupa the main attraction is. Also the second temple that we visited is a relict from the Khmer imperium, which reached all the way to Thailand between the 9th and 13th century. On our way back we stopped at the weekly market and spent some time with eating and shopping.
January 22nd 2013: Phetchaburi, Thailand
Driven distance on January 22nd 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 54’660km (33’960 miles)
We started early in the cold morning air to get to the historical park, which thrones above the city on a hill. A Thai King from the past times had this place built in the year 1859 as a retreat from Bangkok. The royal palace was constructed in a mix of European and Chinese style and still today we could see the different possessions of the royal family in a museum. In addition to the palace were also a stupa and a temple on the hill. On our way back we were robbed by a thirsty monkey. Luckily he was only interested in our water bottle ;-). In the afternoon we visited somewhat outside of the city a temple cave, filled with stalactites and many many Buddhas :-).
January 23rd 2013: Phetchaburi – Khao Phanoen Thung (Kaeng Krachan NP), Thailand
Driven distance on January 23rd 2013: 130km (80 miles)
Driven distance total: 54’790km (34’040 miles)
Now once again, we started to go to a national park, and this time to the largest national park in Thailand. The park lies directly at the boarder to Myanmar (Burma) and is luckily not one of the touristy spots. We already reached the parks entrance after about 70km (43 miles), but we had to drive another 60km (37 miles) to get deep into the jungle. At a camp site we took a short break to figure out where we can spend the night. After just 10 minutes we already saw big rare „black gibbon“ monkeys. We could witness how the monkeys jumped high in the sky from one tree to another and how they climbed like Tarzan from branch to branch, and all this from close distance, really great. A few kilometers away we spent the night completely alone in the middle of the jungle. We could hear the sounds of the gibbon monkeys everywhere. As well we were able to observe the giant hornbill birds in the sky. Their massive sound from the wings was noticeable from far away.
January 24th 2013: Khao Phanoen Thung (Kaeng Krachan NP), Thailand
Driven distance on January 24th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 54’790km (34’040 miles)
Since we were at the second highest “mountain” of the national park (1207m / 3960 ft) we got up very early to witness the famous morning fog over the jungle. Later on we hiked to a beautiful 9 tier waterfall in the middle of the jungle. On the entire hike we didn’t see any other person besides us. We walked besides tall trees with massive trunks and weird roots who joined from other trees, were surprised from the huge bamboos and looked at the little hills made by the termites. From time to time we heard noise in the bushes and in the trees, but unfortunately we didn’t see any animals during the hike;-(. We spent the night near the parks campground, where we took a freezing cold shower and were we refilled our drinking water supply.
January 25th 2013: Khao Phanoen Thung (Kaeng Krachan NP) – Pala U (Kaeng Krachan NP), Thailand
Driven distance on January 25th 2013: 190km (120 miles)
Driven distance total: 54’980km (34’160 miles)
Since they mentioned in the brochure of the national park and in the guide book that the chances are high to spot wild elephants, we didn’t wanted to miss this opportunity. So let’s go!
We could see once again different monkeys drinking and hanging in the trees at our previous place to camp as well as after a short distance:-).
The trip to the Pala U waterfall, where it supposed to have wild elephants, took longer then we expected. Our imagination of a place in the middle of the jungle, away from all civilization, was immediately destroyed after we suddenly ended up again on a heavily used road with tourists on their scooters from Hua Hin. Quite disappointed we tried to find out at the entrance to the waterfall where those watering holes are to spot the elephants. It got a bit difficult since the employees of the park couldn’t speak one word English. After quite some time trying to get some information we ended up at an office with photographs and information regarding the elephants from the area. And of course, here also nobody spoke English L . The NGO organization is mainly here to check on the conflicts between humans and elephants. For example when the elephants are entering the farmers fields. Then the farmers are being informed how they can deal with the animals. Finally we were able there to talk to someone over the phone, and he explained us that sometimes the elephants can be seen directly at the main road near the village. Unbelievable, but we could see a few miles outside of the village 3 wild elephants along the road and of course we were very excited :-). One of the 3 elephants was a bit aggressive and tried a oncoming scooter to hit with his trunk. After numerous pictures, we also tried to drive through between the animals. Since we were looking for some more adrenaline we played that game again ;-)! Well yes, it is quite an unusual picture to see the wild elephants on the street and not in the wild. One reason for it is, that the road runs through an area where the elephants are crossing. But the main reason, that the elephants are sometimes coming almost into the village are rather the locals who sometimes feed the animals.
A couple of hours later we could spot the elephants (most likely the same) once again in the dark directly at the edge of the village.
January 26th 2013: Pala U (Kaeng Krachan NP) – Ayutthaya, Thailand
Driven distance on January 26th 2013: 350km (220 miles)
Driven distance total: 55’330km (34’380 miles)
Since a very long time we drove more then 300km in one single day, unbelievable ;-). Almost the whole trip on highways and not as usual on side roads. The traffic was very heavy and in the suburbs of Bangkok, where there are many industrial areas, it was dusty and dirty and we almost felt like we were in India... Also the landscape got different, now we are in the areas of rice fields :-).
January 27th – February 1st 2013: Ayutthaya, Thailand
Driven distance on January 27th – February 1st 2013: 130km (80 miles)
Driven distance total: 55’460km (34’460 miles)
Until the year 1767, when Ayuthaya got conquered by the Burmese army, it was the capital of Thailand (former Siam). Unfortunately many of the great temples got destroyed or plundered. But luckily the ruins got restored and they are today a UNESCO world heritage. We explored the historical sights on our rental bicycles (rental costs $ 1.30 per day/bicycle...). At the first temple a few students, who wanted to make a short interview with us, stopped us. Very shy they were reading their questions off a prepared paper and sometimes didn’t understand our answers, but finally they were very glad when they finished all the questions :-). As a reward we got 2 key chains :-). On the inside of the temple is one of the biggest bronze Buddha statues of Thailand. The fascination in Asia, that the religions are still much practiced from a large group of people, so there is always something going on in the temples. People pray, stick gold leaves on small Buddha statues, donate flowers and food, and also donate money etc... Just besides it were the 3 huge stupas from the Wat Phra Si Sanphet. It used to be the biggest temple of the city and had on the inside a 16m (53 feet) tall Buddha that was covered with 250kg (550 lbs) of Gold. Later on the gold was melted from the Burmese.. Very unique at another temple was, that all around the building were numerous Buddha statues that didn’t have their head anymore, also a work of the Burmese. Well, but there is one head left to see! :-) This one is entirely without body and is completely surrounded and captured by roots of a tree. Of course, there are now several theories how that head got there, mysterious fact.. ;-). We continued visiting several other temples that were as well very beautiful and impressive!
February 2nd 2013: Ayutthaya, Thailand – Singapore
Driven distance on February 2nd 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 55’460km (34’460 miles)
We had to get a new visa since we are already cruising around Thailand for 3 month. So we made a short trip to Singapore! By train we covered the trip from Ayuthaya to the airport of Bangkok (Don Muang). We couldn’t really trust our eyes when we saw that the train ride of about 50km (30 miles) costs only 30 cents!! The flight was without problems and we arrived on time in Singapore. At Dunja and Patrick we were welcomed with a yummy BBQ and had a funny evening together. We got to know the two from Switzerland, who are living and working since 2 years in Singapore, in Chumphon when we were kite surfing around New Year and could stay there for the 4 days in Singapore.
February 3rd – 5th 2013: Singapore
Driven distance on February 3rd – 5th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 55’460km (34’460 miles)
First let’s talk about the visa for Thailand. At the first attempt at the embassy we were rejected since we didn’t have all the copies of the paperwork from the car... In addition to that, we had to proof, that we have enough financial backup. Since we couldn’t access online one of our bank accounts, we had to present 2000 Singapore Dollars (1600$) in cash at the embassy! But finally everything worked out and we have no hurry to leave Thailand.
In general is Singapore extremely clean and safe. There is even nobody in the subway who is eating or drinking something, since otherwise you’ll get 450$ fine!! In this big city there are endless shopping malls. Unfortunately was our budget for most of the shops completely insufficient. Everywhere in the city were Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Armani, Rolex etc... and the people really go shopping there like at H&M at home. We could witness this also in the business district, where we looked around lunch time a bit out of the ordinary with our average clothes :-). Another highlight was definitely the variety in the food. Dunja and Patrick showed us restaurants where we got to taste all kinds of different food. From Chinese (real Chinese, not like in Europe or America ;-)) to Indian all the way to jelly fish was everything on the menu.
The following sights we didn’t miss to see: The Marina Bay Sands hotel was definitely the most impressive. High above the 3 big towers of the hotel, they constructed a huge platform with the pool, restaurant, palm trees etc.. Later on we checked out the theater building. The spectacular design looks like a giant Durian fruit. There was also the famous Raffles hotel and a Cathedral on our sightseeing schedule.
Besides those “normal” sights, we also checked out Chinatown and little India. In little India, how could it be different, was a bit mor chaos going on then in other parts of Singapore;-).
Just besides the place we stayed, we strolled together with Patrick around in the jungle of Singapore :-). Aside of all the skyscrapers it is hard to believe that there exists something like a jungle. We were lucky and could even see some animals on our 2 hours trek. Besides monkeys, we could also see lizards, turtles, butterflies and so on...
February 6th 2013: Singapore – Ayutthaya, Thailand
Driven distance on February 6th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 55’460km (34’460 miles)
The trip back to Thailand went well and we were happy to be “back home” at our Landy :-).
February 7th 2013: Ayutthaya, Thailand
Driven distance on February 7th 2013: 70km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 55’530km (34’500 miles)
Today we had a relaxing and shopping day. Since we have planned to incorporate some sporty activities into our daily routine, we went to a nearby outlet-mall and bought some jogging shoes! No, this is no joke ;-).
February 8th 2013: Ayutthaya – Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Driven distance on February 8th 2013: 160km (100 miles)
Driven distance total: 55’690km (34’600 miles)
And once again was some driving on today’s schedule. Unfortunately we had to realize that the Landrover lost some of its power. For the 2nd time is the diesel pump gone L. Luckily this time we weren’t at 5000 Meter (16’000 feet) altitude somewhere in the Indian Himalayas ;-). At least we are still able to drive more or less normal.
February 9th 2013: Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Driven distance on February 9th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 55’690km (34’600 miles)
Once again we started the day by renting some bicycles to check out the different sights. The city of Kanchanaburi is famous because its role in the Second World War. After the Japanese army has entered into Thailand, they wanted to conquer more Asian countries (mainly because of natural resources), so they started in 1942 to build the „Death Railway“ from Thailand to Myanmar. They compelled the allied POW’s (prisoners of war: English, Australians, Dutch, Americans) and South East Asians to work under extremely miserable circumstances. After only 16 months was the 415km (258 miles) long railway finished. Over 100’000 of the workers died during the work because of illness, not enough food, torture etc… In Kanchanaburi was the famous bridge over the river Kwai constructed, which was finished in 1943 and destroyed just 2 years after by the allies. After the war the bridge got rebuilt and is again in service. The outer parts of the bridge are still original. If there aren’t any trains running over the bridge, it is allowed to cross it on foot, which we of course did. In addition to that we also visited an interesting museum regarding the railway and the cemetery of the allies. We continued the sightseeing and went to the „Heritage Street“, where there are different houses in the Portuguese, Thai and Chinese style.
February 10th 2013: Kanchanaburi – Sai Yok National Park, Thailand
Driven distance on February 10th 2013: 100km (60 miles)
Driven distance total: 55’790km (34’670 miles)
Unfortunately we couldn’t find any diesel pump for the car. The reason for it was, that we don’t realize anymore what day of the week it is, and it was sunday :-/ . On our way to the North West we then had quite some bad weekend traffic. The interesting part about it is, that you can see several pick-up trucks with plenty of people or children on the back or entire families on one scooter :-). In the middle of the trip we visited the so called „Hellfire Pass“, which is part of the famous „Death Railway“. The name of the pass comes from the Second World War, when the workers had to dig out a canyon during the night. That the workers could see something, they started fires in the canyon and on the walls were the creepy shadows visible.
Later on in the Sai Yok National Park we unfortunately couldn’t find descent place to camp. On the nearby river were numerous boats running up and down the river who made an incredible noise..
February 11th 2013: Sai Yok National Park – Khao Laem National Park, Thailand
Driven distance on February 11th 2013: 100km (60 miles)
Driven distance total: 55’890km (34’730 miles)
Inside the park we made a short walk to two smaller waterfalls and a small cave, where allegedly some special sort of bats, who are the smallest mammal on earth, can be found. The entrance was unfortunately extremely small and creepy, so we skipped the cave ;-) . The next National Park lies directly at a big lake, who exists due to a dam. We were surprised by a perfectly nice campground directly at the lake. The highlight was that every space has its own sink with running water! Quite luxurious :-).
February 12th 2013: Khao Laem National Park - Sankhlaburi, Thailand
Driven distance on February 12th 2013: 60km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 55’950km (34’770 miles)
The road led us through forests and several green hills on the way to the North East. Since we are still driving with a broken diesel pump it was a bit annoying that the road constantly went downhill and uphill. In addition to that, we had once again a broken u-joint at the front drive shaft. We tried without success to get the drive shaft repaired or to get a new diesel pump.
Somewhat demotivated we anyways took off to check out some local sights. Across the long, wooden Saphan Mon bridge, we came into the Mon settlement Wang Kha. The Mon are an ethnic minority, whose kingdom actually covered Myanmar (Burma) and the central plains of Thailand between the 6th and 11th century. Today, many Mon fled from Myanmar into Thailand, where they have it a bit better then in Myanmar. But anyways, also in Thailand they almost have no rights. They can not move freely (checkpoints everywhere) and they often work for less then 3$ a day. Until today, there are conflicts until today and the Mon are still oppressed since decades.
Since there are different people living in this settlement today, it looked to us quite normal, just most of the houses were built very cheap from wood and woven walls. Near the settlement we also visited once again a temple area ;-). The so called Wang Wiwekaram consists of two complexes and is the spiritual center of the Mon in Thailand.
February 13th 2013: Sankhlaburi – Khao Laem National Park, Thailand
Driven distance on February 13th 2013: 80km (50 miles)
Driven distance total: 56’030km (34’820 miles)
After Stefan disassembled the drive shaft, we went again with a scooter to the same repair shop that sent us away the day before. Today the mood was a bit friendlier and they explained us, where we can go and buy a new U-joint for the drive shaft. Surprisingly we received the matching part and drove back to the mechanic. The last time we changed this part was in India, and the nice Indian guys did some unnecessary welding. We tried to explain our problem but they didn’t really understand us. After some “chatting” they started working on it and with some hammering they were able to break the welded parts and fix it. As happy campers we went back to Landy and Stefan putted the part back on the car. And it runs like new again! :-) But still we have the problem with the diesel pump, which we couldn’t fix here in Sangkhlaburi, unfortunately. We then took off to the „Three Pagoda Pass“, directly at the border to Myanmar (Burma). As the name mentions it, there are 3 little pagodas, which aren’t actually that special at all... Also here used to pass the „Death Railway“. Unfortunately we couldn’t cross the border, so we strolled a bit along the market, where they sell Burmese alcohol, jewelry, wood work and so on. The night we spent once again at the deluxe campground of the Khao Laem National Park.
February 14th 2013: Khao Laem National Park – Si Nakharin National Park, Thailand
Driven distance on February 14th 2013: 90km (60 miles)
Driven distance total: 56’120km (34’870 miles)
The trip to the Si Nakharin National Park led us mainly along unpaved uneven roads through the jungle. But anyways, there were everywhere tiny villages in the area. Since we already arrived in the early afternoon at our destination, we went to check out the lowers levels of the waterfall. This waterfall is supposedly one of the nicest waterfalls in Thailand. And we were really quite surprised from it’s beauty. It wasn’t the size of the fall, but rather everything around that was special. At every level were several pools and it had something like stalactites that encircled it.
February 15th 2013: Si Nakharin National Park – Erawan National Park, Thailand
Driven distance on February 15th 2013: 60km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 56’180km (34’910 miles)
And again we took a hike to the upper levels of the waterfall. Also this part was very beautiful with several pools to take a dip. There were also many Thai tourists who were playing in the water. By the way, also Thai people are swimming with all their cloth on... And we continued later on to the next National Park. Before we went to the campground there, we visited the nearby dam and met another overland vehicle from Switzerland. The Swiss, Brigitte und Rene, are travelling since one year and chose the route through China. After a short chat they continued and we started to go to our sleeping place on the campground of the Park.
February 16th 2013: Erawan National Park – Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Driven distance on February 16th 2013: 70km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 56’250km (34’950 miles)
We took off relatively early in the morning, since it was weekend and also mentioned in the guidebook that those falls of the Erawan National Park are some of the most popular in the country. At the top of the falls we were luckily the first and I (Stefan) couldn’t resist to take a bath in the pool of the falls. My feet (luckily only my feet ;-)) were then in great demand. Numerous little fishes were nibbling on them and I got a free fish-spa :-). Approximately for 30 minutes we were able to enjoy the waterfall for our selves, and afterwards we immediately started to realize that we are in a big tourist spot. Within 5 minutes we weren’t just 2 but thanks to a group we were about 50 people L !! Quickly we started to go downwards where we crossed numerous tourists, mainly overweight Russians in herds :-).
After we arrived at the bottom, we got surprised by big gatherings of butterflies. Hundreds of white butterflies were flying in groups, nicely in a row behind each other, close to us down the path!
After a 1-hour drive to Kanchanaburi, we started immediately the search for a new diesel pump. In a shop we found one and our wallet was 130$ lighter. Let’s just hope that this pump „Made in Germany“ holds up longer than the last one :-).
February 17th 2013: Kanchanaburi – Kamphaeng Phet, Thailand
Driven distance on February 17th 2013: 380km (240 miles)
Driven distance total: 56’630km (35’190 miles)
We took off in direction north after Stefan mounted the diesel pump professionally to the car (fixed with 4 wire ties :-)). Once again it was a long driving day on the highway.
February 18th 2013: Kamphaeng Phet – Taksin Maharat NP, Thailand
Driven distance on February 18th 2013: 110km (70 miles)
Driven distance total: 56’740km (35’260 miles)
After a half hour jogging tour :-) and the breakfast we strolled around the historical park of the city. The park is a UNESCO world heritage and contains several ruins dating back to the 14th century.
Then we continued the trip north to the Taksin Maharat National Park. We went directly to the sight of the park since we arrived there already around 3PM. A big tree! :-) We thought of an easy hike in the forest when we saw the signpost „Big Tree 400 Meter“. But since the 400m (1/4 mile) went straight down a staircase (and of course back up) we were quite sweaty at the end. The 700 years old tree was quite impressive with it’s 16 meter (52 feet) circumference. We spent the night on a completely empty campground with a spectacular view :-).
February 19th 2013: Taksin Maharat NP – Mae Sot, Thailand
Driven distance on February 19th 2013: 70km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 56’810km (35’300 miles)
We arrived in Mae Sot after a curvy and hilly ride. This town lies directly at the Burmese border and there are many refugees living here, most of them in poverty. You really feel the Burmese influence in the city – the food, the architecture of the temples, the signs on the shops and of course the people itself. Some Burmese women are carrying their goods on the head and many are wearing a white-yellow powder-paste on their face, which is on one side cosmetics but also beauty care. The men you can recognize on their long robes. And again we made a trip to the boarder, where the friendship bridge crosses over to Myanmar (Burma). Unfortunately it was not possible to make a short trip across the border, so we ended up at the nearby market. Mainly to see were cheap electronics from China, cloth, food and all kinds of cosmetic products, inclusive the yellow-white powder.
February 20th 2013: Mae Sot – Mae U Su, Thailand
Driven distance on February 20th 2013: 120km (70 miles)
Driven distance total: 56’930km (35’370 miles)
Along many cornfields we continued north. In the middle of the trip was again a temple on the schedule. The Wat „Don Kaew“ is not very special from the outside, but on the inside is a not very tall, but on the other hand a very special nice Buddha statue. Not like everywhere else a golden Buddha, but a white marble Buddha statue looked down on as on the inside of the building. Again some miles further north we encountered a Burmese refugee village. It is quite unbelievable, but the population of this refugee camp is around 60'000! The entire area seemed really poor. The refugees are being “tolerated” in Thailand, but they have no rights and there are everywhere checkpoints. Since we still had out of Switzerland T-Shirts for kids, we grabbed the chance and distributed them there. Additionally we had several hair clips which we got as a gift from Iran. Also those we gave away to the people there. There were many people gathering around us after just a few seconds and all the things were gone in a very short time! They were happy to run around in a nice new shirt instead their old ripped crappy cloth.
In the evening we found a peaceful place for camping directly in front of the Mae U Su cave.
February 21st 2013: Mae U Su – Mae Sariang, Thailand
Driven distance on February 21st 2013: 150km (90 miles)
Driven distance total: 57’080km (35’470 miles)
We could witness a short sequence of the daily village life during our quiet nice breakfast. Water buffalos eating in the fields, the farmer is quietly sitting at the edge of the field singing, women are walking around carrying huge baskets fixed with a band around their head. The people in the tiny villages are living in very simple conditions and are often Burmese immigrants. And of course, also we made a trip into the caves. When we entered the cave, we were all of a sudden accompanied by a guy from the nearby village. Without having a choice, we now had a guide :-). Through the cave was a creek, which we had to travers several times. Luckily our “guide” and we had a torch with us, it was pitch black inside the cave and hundreds of bats were living inside. We were able to enter a few hundred meters into the cave and could see several special formations of stalactites. With a lot of fantasy our guide pointed out several stones in the shapes of elephants, cats, monkeys etc.. :-). The trip to Mae Sariang led us along a nice small river through the greenish hilly landscape. The entire time the road just went up and down, right and left, and in the few flat areas were always some tiny villages with vegetable fields.
February 22nd 2013: Mae Sariang – Khun Yuam, Thailand
Driven distance on February 22nd 2013: 140km (90 miles)
Driven distance total: 57’220km (35’550 miles)
Quite without success we tried to see, off the main road, the specially dressed hill tribe people of the north. But what was interesting was one village where we could see several old wooden hand looms in some buildings. To spend the night we luckily found an almost abandoned arboretum, which had toilets to use.
February 23rd 2013: Khun Yuam – Pha Bong, Thailand
Driven distance on February 23rd 2013: 80km (50 miles)
Driven distance total: 57’300km (35’600 miles)
Also the little village of Mae Hong Son is influenced from the Burmese. A typical example are the two temples, which have very specially leveled roofs. Later, on our search for a good place to spend the night, a nice local guy led us to the police station, since they allow people like us to camp there, but it really wasn’t exactly what we were looking for :-). Since we have seen a sign to a campground a few miles before the village, we tried our luck there. But first we got a yummy Papaya salad at one of the street stalls, take away of course. “Take away” means that they put all kinds of food and beverages into transparent little plastic bags :-). Unfortunately was this campground nothing else then a big resort where you have to park your camper at the parking lot. Back on the main road we saw once again a sign which led us to another arboretum. We were very friendly greeted and got a cozy place to camp.
February 24th 2013: Pha Bong – Pang Ung, Thailand
Driven distance on February 24th 2013: 60km (40 miles)
Driven distance total: 57’360km (35’640 miles)
Today’s trip led us through small villages across numerous hills until we reached a tiny settlement lying at an artificial lake, which was created due to a reservoir. To our surprise, there were almost no people present in the village, which contained simply a few dozen wooden huts. Otherwise it was really picturesque.
We didn’t really think that the description in the guidebook matched the place; it was mentioned that it is a “domestic Switzerland” for the Thais. But anyways, it was really idyllic with the lake, the forest and of course with the white and black swans on the lake.
February 25th 2013: Pang Ung – Mae La-Na, Thailand
Driven distance on February 25th 2013: 100km (60 miles)
Driven distance total: 57’460km (35’700 miles)
After a quick photo shooting with some Thai soldiers :-) we undertook a short stroll to the lake. Shortly after we went directly to the village Mae Aw. The village was founded from the former Chinese army. Therefor are many of the locals from the Yunnan province in China and are members of the Thai Yai (Shan). Around the village are many tea plantations (mainly green tea) and many shops in the village where you can buy it. The restaurants are serving delicious Chinese food, and also we couldn’t resist it and tried some of it! Since we didn’t have our appetite under control we ordered way too much and rolled out of the restaurant with completely round bellies :-). We also got more then enough to drink there, since they always brought us free samples of different kinds of tea. :-).
Next stop on the trip to Mae La-Na was the fish cave, which was very disappointing. We expected a cave with fishes on the inside, but it was simply a park where a small creek with fishes runs through. And the cave was nothing else then an overhanging rock with a small pool underneath that had fishes up to 1m (3 feet) inside. Since we couldn’t really spend the night there we continued to the small village of Mae La-Na, which lies wonderfully in a valley surrounded by tall hills. There are simply 2 lodges there and a few homestays. We camped at one of the lodges and met a Swiss-Thai family, which invited us for dinner. The wife grew up in this village and told us interesting stories from her life.
February 26th 2013: Mae La-Na – Pai, Thailand
Driven distance on February 26th 2013: 80km (50 miles)
Driven distance total: 57’540km (35’750 miles)
We drove on small side roads to a nearby cave. We had to take a guide to be able to enter the stalactite cave Tham-Lot, but at least we didn’t have to pay any additional entrance fee. The entire tour took over an hour and besides the walking we also paddled on a bamboo raft in the underground creek across the cave. Already the cave itself, with its stalactites and shaped rocks look like a crocodile or an elephant was well worth seeing. But one unique feature in the cave were the wooden coffins made out of tree trunks, which are up to 2200 years old.
Along the road towards Pai we crossed once again another overland vehicle. In the old, remodeled truck was a German family with two small children. When they stopped, they asked us if we were the two Swiss who are kite surfing :-). Both vehicles took off after we blocked half the road for 5 minutes. Before we found a nice place on the river to camp, we squeezed through the extremely touristy alleys of Pai.
February 27th – 28th 2013: Pai, Thailand
Driven distance on February 27th – 28th 2013: 20km (10 miles)
Driven distance total: 57’560km (35’770 miles)
We didn’t actually do much in Pai... The village is extremely touristy and draws a wild mix of party-dredlocks-yoga-meditation-spa freaks into its vibes. Also for the Thais it is a popular travel destination. There are several waterfalls and hot springs in the region, but since we have seen many falls before and since the hot springs aren’t that nice when it already is 35°C (96°F), we skipped those sights. Instead we strolled around the village and cruised a bit around with the car in the neighborhood. The landscape around Pai is usually very nice, but since they burn rice fields and burn other areas as well in the months March and April, was a unpleasant mix of smoke and fog in the air and the view was limited! It was really spooky during the night, when we saw lines of fire in the nearby hills.
March 1st 2013: Pai – Chiang Mai, Thailand
Driven distance on March 1st 2013: 160km (100 miles)
Driven distance total: 57’720km (35’870 miles)
We, including Scrat and Landy, were almost sick after the first 100km (60 miles), since the road had endless curves! The view would be quite good along this road normally. But since they have many man made fires in this anyways dusty time of the year, the view on the surrounding valleys was really miserable.
March 2nd – 5th 2013: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Driven distance on March 2nd – 5th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 57’720km (35’870 miles)
Actually we weren’t that motivated anymore to see temples, but anyways we managed to go sightseeing. The old temples of the city were all very beautiful and in good shape or restored. Also very amusing was the huge Sunday market, where it is possible to get all kinds of souvenirs. Stefan got unfortunately some stomach problems, so we granted us a lot of quiet in the hotel. Also the organization of the shipment of the car took quite some time. In Thailand, everything was fixed with the agency, just needed to wait for the confirmation. Now we just had to find an agency in South Africa. Therefor we contacted several agencies there to get the best offer.
March 6th 2013: Chiang Mai – Sukothai, Thailand
Driven distance on March 6th 2013: 320km (200 miles)
Driven distance total: 58’040km (36’060 miles)
We can’t really describe this road as exciting, but at least we managed a long distance. Luckily we found a guesthouse where we could camp on an empty parking lot next to it.
March 7th 2013: Sukothai – Phitsanulok, Thailand
Driven distance on March 7th 2013: 90km (60 miles)
Driven distance total: 58’130km (36’120 miles)
In the morning we visited the historical park of Sukothai, in which are many wonderful temple ruins from the Khmer era. In the later afternoon we covered the short distance to the city of Phitsanulok.
March 8th 2013: Phitsanulok – Lop Buri, Thailand
Driven distance on March 8th 2013: 290km (180 miles)
Driven distance total: 58’420km (36’300 miles)
Now we did wanted to know where all those Buddha statues in the temples are actually coming from before we took off in direction Bangkok. For this reason we visited the Buddha foundry in Phitsanulok. Well it was interesting, but somehow nobody greeted us or said anything. So we strolled around without any clue and checked out the furnace, the models and different Buddha statues during the finishing touch. Well, now we know where the Buddhas of the region are being born :-).
We had some difficulties to find a hotel In Lop Buri, so we ended up in a huge hotel, somewhat outside of town, where we got a room for 20$ including breakfast. Since it even had a pool, I (Stefan) granted myself to a refreshing dip in it :-).
March 9th 2013: Lop Buri – Pattaya, Thailand
Driven distance on March 9th 2013: 280km (170 miles)
Driven distance total: 58’700km (36’470 miles)
Also here in Lop Buri we went a checked out some temple ruins. The special feature here was, that the temples were occupied by hundreds of monkeys :-). The rest of the day we spent on the road driving. Since the shipping port for the car, Laem Chabang, is only 30km (20 miles) away from Pattaya, we decided to drive to there. After a yummy BBQ in a restaurant, we met surprisingly a ex-working colleague from Stefan, that was working close to Pattaya.
March 10th 2013: Pattaya, Thailand
Driven distance on March 10th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 58’700km (36’470 miles)
We used the day to get the car and of course us ready to go to Africa. Landy got cleaned on the inside and we packed everything we needed (including kite surfing material) for the few weeks in South Africa before the car arrives. We stayed in the center of the touristy city jungle. In Pattaya is also an extensive red light district, where it is possible to see all kinds of things. As a western women you are a quite seldom object in Pattaya :-) and many of the visitors are older visitors that enjoy their holiday with a young Thai girl.
March 11th 2013: Pattaya – Laem Chabang – Bangkok, Thailand
Driven distance on March 11th 2013: 40km (20 miles)
Driven distance total: 58’740km (36’500 miles)
In the morning at 9AM we met Toey, our shipping agent, at the customs house of the port of Laem Chabang. We were quite surprised how poor the English speaking was of the agent. We had to talk to his sister, which currently works out of Australia, several times to know what was going on. The documentation was prepared very well and Stefan just had to sign them. The rest of the work was done by the agent and we spent most of the time waiting... Early in the afternoon everything regarding customs was done and we were able to pack the Landrover into the container. The container got sealed and packed onto a truck. The little work for us was done and we had to wait again… With our agent we continued to go to several offices. Then the container needed to get X-raid, and this procedure was really time consuming. Finally at 7PM everything was done, and truck arrived at the loading station of the port and we could go to Bangkok.
March 12th 2013: Bangkok, Thailand
Driven distance on March 12th 2013: 0km (0 miles)
Driven distance total: 58’740km (36’500 miles)
On todays plan was the payment of the shipment. We were lucky and a guy from the shipping agency came to the hotel to collect the money. Really great service.
The second point on our to-do list was to get bubble wrap to pack the board for kite surfing. Also this we found surprisingly fast, so we finally had a rather relaxing day.