Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thao rai!

Isn't it supposed to be cooler, the more north you go? Today has been my temple spotting day in Chiang Mai, but now I'm having a siesta on the computer to escape the heat. Chiang Mai is beautiful. I stay in a cute guest house in the narrow streets of the old city. The old city is an square shaped area surrounded by water and a wall built to protect it from the Burmese. The city is touristic but it has a lovely vibrant vibe and the old town is really cute.

My trip in Thailand started with the fullmoon party. It was definitely an experience! Me and Sandra had really much fun painting ourselves with bodypaint and then we headed to the beach to party. This fullmoon party wasn't the busiest one but there were definitely enough people for me! The beach was crammed with people dancing, downing buckets and playing with burning skipping ropes. We had an really authentic experience since someone broke in to our bungalow while we were partying. But luckily we had heard that that can happen and had everything valuable in a safe. Next day we switched to a beach resort to the other side of the island where we relaxed at the beach and pool for a few days.

Lunch at the beach
Koh Phangan
Next stop was Krabi. Sandra wanted to stay in a hotel and me with my smaller budget in a hostel so our ways departed. In Krabi itself there was nothing to see, but I met a few French people with whom we went to Railey beach. We had a awesome day climbing down to a peaceful lagoon and then chilling on the beaches of Railey and Aonang. In Krabi I also tried rock climbing. That was awesome! Hard work also though, after the first climb already my hands were all shaky. For me Southern Thailand was a weird experience, since I heard Finnish several times and in Aonang they even had some shop names in Finnish.

Rock climbing in Railey - yes it's me!

I needed to renew my visa and heard that you could do that in Maesot. I was sceptical how it works but it was really easy. Maesot was a small town with lots of foreigners going there to do voluntary work in Burmese refugee camps. To get a new stamp I just had to pay a bit to get a day visa for Myanmar and then after wondering around in the country, walk over the bridge back to Thailand.

Maesot temple and Vicky taking a pic

Now it's almost the end of my trip. A week to go anymore. Right now I'm really happy to go back home. It's actually really tiring to haggle about everything and to be careful in every situation not to be cheated. My list of places to visit has certainly not become smaller while travelling but now I'm excited of the thought of going to study next fall. And I'm really excited of getting an own apartment and living a steady life for a while.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Visit to Cambodia

Here a few pictures of Cambodia. Our visit was quite short but full of interesting stuff to see. Cambodia is definitely a place I'd like to go back to. I had heard that Angkor vat is amazing but didn't think I'd be so excited about old temples. The day at the ruins was great in the end. All the buildings had their own special feeling and I got really excited taking pictures of the arcitechture. And the challenge of the day was trying to get as much as possible with the money we already paid our tuktuk driver, since he's interpretation of 'I'll take you around where ever you want for the whole day for 12dollars' was a bit different then ours.
Pnohm Pehn

The most peaceful market I've been to

Sunrise at Angkor vat


                                                                           Ta Prohm

Night bus first class
From Siem Reap to Koh Phangan we had quite a journey! In total we spent 30 hours sitting on a bus to Bangkok, then one to Chumphon, then a ferry and a tuktuk taxi to our hotel. In Chumphon the bus dropped us 7km from the city centre at 4 a.m. and continued towards the centre... There was a really helpful gentleman offering a terribly overpriced taxiride waiting for us on the stop. Great how they take care of us travellers here! Well we said politely no and started walking towards the direction we thought was right and luckily some genuinely helpful picked us up and took to the train station for free. There we where able to book the ferry to the island then. And luckily we met irish Alan who came all the way from Siem Reap to Koh Phangan also. The journey would have been quite an experience alone.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Southern Vietnam

I'm sitting on the computer in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia now. Our bus here was a pleasant surprise. We were a bit suspicious after having one bad experience in Vietnam. Please guys, don't travel with Camel travels since half of their route is operated by T.M. Brothers which is the worst bus company in Vietnam... The drivers and staff were really rude and the bus really dirty with the beds falling apart and toilet full of pee. After yelling at the office for half an hour because the bus really wasn't what we were supposed to get, they just tried to blame us from smoking in the toilet which we didn't do. Great!

After Hanoi, our first stop going South was Hue. We had such a awesome day there riding with motorbikes in a bigger group. The perfect day had a perfect ending watching the sunset at the beach.

In Hoi An we strolled around the streets of the old town and I designed my own dress and had it made. I was so excited making drafts of the dress, that was my paradise ;) If I would have had more money, I would have had shoes made too.

Nha Trang was a small beach town full of Russian tourists. There we relaxed on the beach and did a jeep tour to the Fairy spring and sand dunes.

 What I'll remember of Vietnam is learning lots of interesting facts about the war, the crazy traffic, ice coffee and pho (noodle soup, which I finally got to try and many times) and haggling hard for things. I think my route is going the right way since Vietnam seemed much easier to travel after China so I liked it but now being in Cambodia and seeing how much nicer people are here, I like this even more.


20e superior hotelroom in Hoi an

Old town Hoi an

Sand dunes and my new 9e shoes :)

Ice coffee & soup breakfast

Ho Chi Minh - Why need a stationary wagon when you can fit your family on a motorbike?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mai chau

In Hanoi I met Sandra and we stayed there 3 nights before going to to Halong bay. After partying at Halong we did a tour to Mai Chau. It was great but once again, it would have been better doing independently since the tour was quite expensive.But then again we wouldn't have had the idea of going to Mai Chau without the hostel tour desk recommending it to us.

The wooden houses of Mai chau

Swimming in the river

Biking in the lovely sceneries
The cute kids kind of stole the show in the evening!
Mai chau was a lovely small village with White Thai people living there. On the tour was just us girls me Sandra and Sabrina whom we met at the hostel and two Americans. We did just a two day tour with Sandra since we're heading to the Fullmoon party and don't have so much time. The others stayed for one day more and went motorbiking. I got to try one anyways and wouldn't have driven it alone... Maybe if it was automatic.

Hanoi & Halong bay

Next to the lake with Sandra & Sabrina
Halong Bay cruise

Kayaking in Halong bay

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ni hao

In my first overnight bus in China alone I met a great group of travelers, among them a guy from Finland and my fear faded away. In the end I ended up doing only one bus trip in China without having someone able to speak mandarin with me.

We arrived to Yangshuo early morning around 5 a.m. and took a 'taxi' with a Hong Kongese girl and the Finnish guy to a hostel a bit out the town centre. It was nice and peaceful in the countryside.

The first day it rained so we just wondered around the city for the day. Next days we rented bikes and made our way to the river to do some bamboo rafting. Yangshuo is really turistic and the river was full of photographers selling pictures and floating cafes offering refreshments. But it was a awesome 1,5hour rafting in beautiful sceneries among limestone hills. Then we biked to see moon hill. While the others wanted to go back earlier, I biked a bit further and ended up bargaining a good price for a ticket to some caves with mudbaths and hotsprings for the next day. I did it totally by accident by being not really interested at all in the caves at first and got a 320rmb ticket for 80rmb. So I learned that the best way to haggle is to not be interested.

In the caves next day I had really much fun. I got a own tour guide who spoke atleast some english and after a tour of seeing Buddha's and lots of different animals formed by water in the caves I met a group of Chinese students while relaxing in the hotpool. The language was a bit of a issue but sign language has proven pretty efficient in Asia. They asked me to join them for dinner that night.

Next day I went to Xingping and met an American girl Wenlu in the bus. We decided to go together to the Guilin and the Dragon's Backbone riceterraces. The terraces where amazing. It's a huge area of ricefields in the mountains. We did a 5 hour hike from Ping'an to another village. During the hike lots of local women from the longhair tribe offered to be our guides, but we managed to find our way by our own for almost all the way. In the end we agreed to have someone take us to a hotel then. The hotel was a simple wooden two storey building with only us and one Chinese couple staying there. After dinner the power went off and a thunderstorm broke out. Our room windows where banging open and leaking. Two girls being led by a unknown man to a hotel in the middle of nowhere, a storm, no power... A bit of a horrormovie scene?

Luckily we made our way back to Guilin next day and said goodbyes.

In Guilin I met a nice Chinese girl who came with me to Nanning. She took me to see her university and showed a bit of Nanning. Next day I was off to Vietnam and I met Sandra in Hanoi. So far I've loved Hanoi.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

City life

Terkut aidille!

I boarded the plane in Auckland lst weeks Wednesday night and arrived in the middle of busy traffic, hassle and skyscrapers of Hong Kong next morning. O had a bit og trouble boarding the plane because I didn't have a ticket ou of China yet. Luckily a helpful staffmember helped me book a train from Nanning to Hanoi. It was really expensive but I didn't have to pay it yet and got a quotation to my email right away so it should get me to China and I'll by a cheaper bus ticket there.

Agnes was waiting for me at the airport and took me to her sisters apartment where I've been staying for the past week. From there she took me right away to Mong kok to have lunch Cantonese style and see the ladies market. I was hungry and made the mistake of eating myself totally full. After lunch we tasted several more things and then I felt seasick on the ferry to Cheung chau. Next day Agnes got a day off and we checked out the big Buddha statue and in the evening we had dinner with her sister Diamond and her friend. We also wondered around at the night market.

Durng my week I tasted the most bizarre things and ate something new with pretty much every meal. My absolute favourites were eggtarts and hot pot: a pot of boiling soup where you dip raw meat or seafood to cook it. I spent only one day alone since everyone's been so nice to take me around to explore the city. Hong Kong is busy and huge which isn't my ideal but there's lots to see and it's a unique mix of the west and east like every guidebook would tell you. The habits and way of life are quite western but the people Asian. I feel it was a great place to start an adventure in Asia since here you can mostly cope with english. I was really lucky to stay wih Diamond though since the hostels in HK are really expensive and either a bit dodgy or then far from the centre.

I also walked on Hollywood street in Soho, had lunch in a busy lunchtime restaurant on HK island (seemed to be too busy, they brought a sign to our table that it's soon to be taken away because it's on the middle of a walkway) and saw heaps of neon lights during the night. The city is definitely at it's best during night time.

Agnes' whole family was extremely nice to me and I had two dinners at her place. I did heaps more but you'll have to ask me more about it in Finland. Today we'll go to Shenzen to enjoy a 3 hour massage and overnight sleep for a total of about 5euros. After the 20e hostels of NZ, I can literally feel in my wallet being in Asia now. And it's gonna get even cheeper. China will definately be hard to travel with the language barrier but I have had time to get my plans well sorted here. Agnes has been a great help and in Hanoi I'll meet Sandra. I'm happy to travel with someone for a bit longer.

Soon I will enter the world of facebook silence and sign language. Next time I come to Hong Kong I'll come with an empty suitcase since it as so annoying not to be able to shop now with all the cheap shops!

Finland visits Tsing ji shopping mall

Tai o