Category / Asia

Bangkok – AuNang 2016 – Thailand – Start of Journey September 8, 2016 at 8:47 am

Starting August 17, 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand



City lights at Dawn

Nature taking back what once was…

Always Frist!

Little Slice of Paradise

Outer Worldly Cliffs

Inside an Outer Worldly cliff

Beer doesn’t deliver itself to the island

Typical transport

If it didn’t selfie it didn’t happen

Kayaking through a cave

Secluded lagoon

Heed the warning

Told you

Important offerings for the sea goddess

Another magic cave

Amazing formations

True love

Old and wonderful Cycads

Kayaking in a river through majestic scenery


Cave Goons


2000 Year old cave drawing

Clear enough

My Cave face

Chumps on a boat

This is the face that these noodle bring out

Something completely different……………. December 27, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Well, the imminent cold weather convinced me that staying in China was not a good idea. One, two, go – then I was in Phuket – an island off the south of Thailand.  Having left my winter clothes in Bangkok I was only traveling with a couple shirts swim shorts, flip flops and a smile.

Once on the island I was greeted by Thai people speaking to me in Russian.  Strange enough – after a bit of walking around and talking with the locals I found out that 50% of the population there were Ruskies.  Again the culture difference was above and beyond what I was expecting.  Most of the signs were in Slavic or Hebrew and many of the Thai tour people spoke 4-5 languages and would yell out whatever language they thought you spoke as you walked by.  So, I was many different nationalities that week – funny looking white dude with sunglasses – could be anything.

Somehow I scored a reasonable hotel and hit the beach multiple times a day for swimming.  The ocean water was the clearest that I have seen anywhere.  One day I rented a motorbike and drove around the whole island.  Again needing to remind myself at each intersection which lane to turn into since they drive on the left.  Zoomin around the island allowed me to explore the high priced golf and country club housing subdivisions,latex gathering forests and other natural wonders.  The place is more like a tourist spot with Thai people as the employees than Thailand itself.  From what I have heard this area brings alot of money in for the country.  They even had hotel tax added to my $11 hotel room.

During my stay on Phuket I was able to do some diving.  The weather was not sunny however the dives turned out to be fun.  The water clarity was not as good as I had expected by looking at the beaches but it was still a top ten spot to dive.  Names of the places that I dove are -Shark Point – King Cruiser – Koh Dok Mai.  After a late night party in Thai Vegas watching a Detroit Dj “Roger Sanchez” I decided that it was time to move on.

Next up on the to do list was Koh Phi Phi.   It is a tiny place with beautiful scenery all around.  There was a mix between gated resorts and party animal backpackers.  The first night I was suckered into renting a bungalow for $20 then the next night I thought I’d stay in a hostel and save some money.  For $6 I was able to stay in an room with 17 beds and 20 raging party animals.  To say the least my beauty sleep was not fully completed.

One of the afternoons I did get to go on a snorkel tour around a few nearby islands.  Turned out to be another highlight that is burned into my memory plank.  The weather was clear and beautiful, the water as you can see doesn’t even seem real. Due to high temperatures in the previous year the hard corals had died but there were signs that they are coming back, which is good.  If anyone has seen the movie “The Beach” we went there also.

Well – that about wraps it up for this trip…… All that is left is the travel back

  • 2 hour boat ride from Koh Phi Phi
  • 15 hour bus ride to Bangkok
  • 6 hour plane ride to Tokyo – First Class – (Thanks Tim Lynch)
  • 13 hour plane ride to Atlanta – First Class – (Thanks Tim Lynch)
  • 2.5 hour panic session at Atlanta airport due to severe weather
  • 1 hour flight to Orlando
  • 1.5 hour car ride to Ocala

Smooth Sailing……

Travel Tally

Total Time = 59 days

Total Cost = +/- $3,000

Lost Items = worn out hat – sunglasses – lung capacity (air pollution china)

Gained Items = tiger balm – stomach critters – fake north face jacket and backpack – two words in mandarin

Net worth of trip = PRICELESS

Ending the China Run December 16, 2010 at 9:57 am

Time for me to get out of Red China.  Thirty days has come and gone and now the weather is tempting me to the south.  If all goes well I’ll make it back to Thailand and continue on.  Below are some random pictures that I thought I’d share.

Tiger Leaping Gorge at 9:42 am

The gorgeous

Visa time for me was running low for China but I wanted to do one last activity, so I hit the rode north from Dali to get to Lijiang.  From there the plan was to continue on to Tiger Leaping Gorge.  This trip turned out to be the highlight of my journey (besides the first class plane ride).  Lijiang was way too touristy for me to handle,  after half of one evening I was getting overwhelmed by trinket stores and tourist crap.  One thing that they had which was different from other places was shaved mountain goats hanging from their noses in front of restaurants.  They put the animals up in the morning and in the evening they start cutting the meat off the skeleton starting from the head.  By the time they are done the entire skeleton is stripped clean and their is one big wad of meat mixed with everything else on a big plate under the carcass.  That allows the patrons to see the freshness –  mnnnnnn.

Next morning I was off on another tour with twenty five chinese people and me, the white kid in the back of the bus.  This time the tour guide didn’t speak any english.  A couple stops on the way to the gorge allowed us to get out and look at cloud covered scenery and imagine how nice it must be if it were to be clear.  During one of the stops a chinaman asked were I was from, we got talking and he was from Macau china which was a colony of Portugal.  We talked about how it was like traveling around in places without speaking the language.  Turns out that we had been to many of the same places and oddly enough he spoke Portuguese so traveling through south america was not a problem for him.  As we talked, another chinese guy came up and started chatting with us.  He was australian born and raised(chinese)  now working in Hong Kong.  Anthony was his name and he had asked if I was going to stay in the gorge since I was carrying my pack.  I told him that I wanted to change hostels but couldn’t explain to the owners that I wanted to leave my bag throughout the day- so I just carried it with me.  Anthony said he was thinking of doing an over-niter in the gorge and invited me to come along.  We both had about the same level of travel planning, which was none.  Neither one of us had camping gear or food or water or a map.  One thing that we did have that would make things possible was his chinese language skills. Another hour or two down the road then we realized that we were entering the wonderland itself. However the wonderland did not have a proper road built yet.  The tractors and dump-trucks were actually cutting the road into the mountain as we were passing them.  Rock slides had taken out parts of the previous goat path so a newer 1.5 lane road was being constructed. Crude and dangerous were the words the came to mind as we watched and waited to pass tractors.  The department of transportation in America would surely poop their pants if they saw what was going on.

We continued on down the road the scheduled tour ended up kicking our butts.  The itinerary was supposed to involve a late lunch and a walk down to the river.  Turned out to be a serious 3.5 hour hike down and back up a mountain slope. The walk down was about 2 hours and at the bottom a sign read “Fast way up” and another read “Safe Way” of course you know which path was taken.  The fast way turned out to be a rebar ladder that was fastened to vines and loose rocks. Before we proceeded the tour-guide advised us to put everything loose into our pockets and also the fact that 27 people had died this year in the gorge.

After the tour was done Anthony and I  throttled back our expectations of what we could accomplish that day.  We had the minibus driver leave us at the nearest guesthouse and had beers and went to sleep early instead of any more activity.  Next day we decided to hike a partial loop of the gorge.  The weather turned out to be perfect even though the predictions called for rain. Amazingly it was  just Anthony and I walking through a natural paradise.  The pictures cannot capture how grand the place is.  A wide angle lens would be needed to get the extents of the gorge.  At the top was snow covered mountains and at the bottom the Yangsi river which was warm and humid so you can imagine what the elevation difference was.  I would have to blame the low oxygen levels on how pathetic our hiking went and not the beers from the night before.  Once we made it to a level area it was clear and beautiful out with the sun shining and Buddha smiling.  The pictures don’t really show it but the wind was so strong in some places that you had to hold on to rocks so that you would not be blown off the trails.

I would recommend to anyone that is a nature lover and adventurist to hike the gorge for a few days. During the summer would be better, since the vegetation has mostly dead while we were there.

Dragons Backbone to Dali December 15, 2010 at 10:02 am

Before leaving Yangshuo I went on a day trip to Longsheng so that I could witness the worlds most beautiful rice terraces. The word that sums the day up would be “Cloudy”.  I had expected it to be but for $12 I thought what the heck its a ride in the country. A few good pictures came of it, and it was interesting just the same. At the restaurant in the mountains they had Fried Bamboo Rat as a special.

The highlight of the trip was when the bus tourguide (chinese only) woke me up on the way back to Yangshuo and handed me $2 worth of yuan and asked if I could take the public bus the rest of the way ( 2 hours) in broken english of course.  Before I had time to contemplate the situation she motioned that this was my stop. There I went – dropped off in a random city in the dark hoping to take a public bus which is always hairy no matter where you are.  Somehow I made it and had something more to remember the trip by than a postcard. Before leaving Yangshuo I decided to get a traditional chinese massage.  There must have been years of anger and oppression built up in this little lady because she unleashed a world of pain upon my tender body.  The next couple days were used solely for recovery.

Next destination was Kunming to the west which was an easy 18 hour train ride after a couple hour bus ride.  The city itself reminded me of Boston.  It has some hilly streets and yuppie neighborhoods.  I walked around the city twice and went to a couple of discos during the night.  Having not caught my interest I decided to keep moving on.  Dali(Old Town) seemed like it would be a relaxed place to hang for a while so I packed my bags and headed out.  Conveniently enough the guidebook showed that the long distance bus station was only 2 blocks from hotel, which is why I stayed there in the first place.  Turns out that I got to use my blank face and hand waving some more before waiting in line for five of the same number local buses to fill up before I was able to get on and ride 8 km out of town to the real long distance bus station.

Finally made it to Dali and really liked the atmosphere.  There must have been some chinese hippy influence at some point just from the vibe around town.  The hotel I stayed at costs $8 for a private room with an electric blanket.  The cleaning ladies come in everyday and wipe everything down including all my stuff.  For some reason they bring new combs and toothbrushes(packaged) every day.  I’m not sure if they are trying to tell me something or if it is customary?  One thing that is apparently a custom is bringing a new roll of toilet paper to the room every day.  Each hotel that I have stayed in does the same thing,  how much TP can a person use in a day.  I’m still working on my squat toilet technique which may never be perfected.  It’s hard to read the newspaper and hold a cup of coffee when you have to brace against the wall at the same time.

The food in Dali is varied – from fried duck heads to pizza.  I have run the gamut on foods lately which end up costing around $3 for more than one person can eat.  For stabilities sake i’m sticking with rice and sandwiches for a while.   Drinking water comes from the mountain which is 1 km away and by the time it get here there is already a gut twisting gray haze to it.  Without looking too hard I found some public toilets in the area. (see picture below)

Next up was market day in Dali. Nothing brings out the locals better than market day.  There were hundreds of people selling anything and everything.  Seems like the old people don’t shop in stores, so they only come down from the mountains once or twice a week to get their goods.  It was a truly unique experience, since once again I was the only westerner in the crowd.  This turned out to be fine because there was so much going on that they didn’t even care.  This was the first market that I had been to that had booths/tables selling teeth.  They had a box labeled show repair kit which they used to attain exact fit for the customers 🙂 Some people had weird machines hooked up to their tractors that would grind grains and chili’s or whatever else you could put in them.  I got some great deals on socks and random nonessentials.

At last I found a French bakery that sells breads and cheeses with proper coffee so all is well. However I’m off again….

Mainland China – Yangshuo December 4, 2010 at 6:21 am

Now officially I’m traveling by myself in a communist country without knowing more than one word of their language.  My first experience of this great land was at the train station where a security guard said “You go away”.  I expressed in my best dumb look face that I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. He didn’t know anymore English than what he had said to me. After some backtracking and interpretations I figured out that I had gone in the wrong door -which had an arrow pointing in – and proceeded to go in the exit door.

The ticket counter at the main train station entering the country did not have one english word on it.  Thankful for the guide book I knew what time the train should leave and how much it should cost.  I told the ticket lady where I wanted to go and a screen popped up with chinese characters and a string of numbers.  Opening up my wallet I held up some cash and expressed my blank face again.  Someone in the line that new this wasn’t going well pointed at the bills that I should hand over. (smooth sailing)

Thirteen hours later I arrived in Guilin.  During the train ride I was told to keep moving – so half an hour later I was on a raft/boat on my way down the Li River. It turned out to be a super nice trip (5 hours) during which time I got to speak some spanish.  Turns out I was cheap and took the Chinese tour and ended up on a boat with a guy from Antigua, Guatemala and a couple of Chinese ladies. The pictures will tell some of the story.

The boat ride ended in Yangshuo which is like China’s historic disneyland.  There are boatloads of chinese tourists (literally) and souvenir shops one after another. I needed a place to hang out for some days and do some work on the computer and there are enough english speaking people that I can get around – so I stayed for 15 days.

View from Hotel (mini inn)

The most exhilarating and heart stopping moment was navigating a six lane four way round-about on a two person bicycle in the dark with an old chinaman at the helm.  Again, being cheap I didn’t take the tour-group, but decided to walk the 8-10 km to the 1700 stairs leading to the scenic spot and then walk back. Six bucks is too much!!!!! Previously I was able to catch a ride with a motorbike taxi for $1 but for some reason the evening in question did not provide such services.  After walking halfway back to town nearly exhausted, a chinaman in a suit pulls up on the said bike and said – “we go together”. Little did I know that I wasn’t ready for the trip. Anyway we made it and I saved enough money to buy tiger balm for my legs of fire the next day.

While in the area I managed to get to some almost awesome caves.  They would have been great if there where not hundreds of people and tour guides with speakers all over the place. It was so loud that it was literally deafening. Of course there is always a gift shop at the end of every tour to wind down and buy some plastic crap.

Random farm

Big banyon tree was also on the list of activities.  It speaks for itself.  Said to be 1000 years old which I doubt but still it was a big one. Since my buddy is not here to blame the plant enthusiasm on i’ll take it this time. 🙂

Next up was Moon Hill which turned out to be absolutely wonderful.  Although it was cloudy and gray out and the pictures aren’t vivid, I still had a great time up on the top alone enjoying the scenery.

I had my 31st birthday here which consisted of getting 2.87 sheets to the wind and playing hacky sack with the locals.  The beer here is 3% – so they sell it in liter bottles and it takes alot of them to do much.  Guess that’s why they are only 50 cents.

Next stop Kunming ——>Dali

Far East -2010- at 4:13 am

Hello there, so far I have been traveling for about a month and decided it’s about time to start writing down some of the sights and activities that I have experienced. Since there is a lot of catching up to do, I’ll summarize the best I can.

I'm the white dude on the right - doesn't my hair look good-

I starting off the journey by flying standby, this was the first time that I had attempted to get to the other side of the planet without any confirmation that it would happen.  Thanks to to a friend of mine Tim Lynch from Yankeetown and some bankers that couldn’t make their flights I was riding high.  Business Class Elite (First class) was were I ended up for the flight over the big pond.  Champagne breakfast, lay-flat massage chairs,gourmet meals.  That flight made the trip worthwhile right then and there. My bliss state lasted about halfway through the next flight from Tokyo to Bangkok.  However, I still had three hours to go sitting in Asian coach cages with crying kids. I now believe that coach seating should be outlawed. “How bourgeois”.

After 26 hours of flight time I arrived in Bangkok to meet with my friend Dominik.  It felt good to be back in that noisy,crowded,polluted city once again.  We both had been in and out of the city numerous times during previous trips, which makes it feel like a resting place, at least to me. A string of sleepless nights and I could hardly feel the jet lag anymore!

Next off was a bit of adventure –  So we hung around the hotel for a couple more days pondering how tired we could be from the upcoming activities.  Cause you know we didn’t want to rush into anything too fast.

We decide that Malaysia would be a good place to go since neither one of us had been to that area.  Penang was where we ended up which is an island off the west coast.  When we first arrived in a place called Georgetown things looked pretty grim, there didn’t seem to be much to do and the ocean was all muddy.  We decided to travel to the another part of the island called Batu Ferrenghi by way of the botanical garden, since my buddy has an insatiable lust for plants 😉  The garden was fun and humid, although most of the exhibits were closed for some reason.

Batu Ferrenghi was a quiet beach/tourist town with moderately clear water.  This turned out to be an interesting trip for me since it was the first Muslim majority country that I’ve traveled in that conveniently spoke english.  Burka type clothing on the beach just doesn’t seem right but they were having a wonderful time,jet skiing,para sailing,atv riding.  Dominik and I rented scooters and rally raced through the jungle.  The roads are very curvy with some good hills, so it felt like we were TT racers on the 80cc scooters. We got around on the island without much trouble even though they drive on the left hand side of the road.  At each intersection I had to remind myself which lane to turn into, luckily everything went well.  We managed to go to a Spice garden-Butterfly Exhibit-Fruit Farm-Waterfall. Next up we did some diving.  The dive spot was about 1.5 hours north of Penang at a place called Pulau Payar. It turned out to be pretty fun, the visibility wasn’t great but it felt good to get in the water.  There were of course loads of asian/middle eastern tourists taking pictures of everything.  I put a serious hurting on the dive boats buffet so I feel like I got my moneys worth 🙂

For our next adventure we hopped skipped and jump over to Hong Kong to see what it was all about. We took different flights. I arrived first and for me it was instant culture shock.  Not many signs in English mixed with serious over crowding and weird foods all added to the confusion.  After a nap I was over it. Dominik showed up later since his plane had been delayed.  I will never forget how small the hotel rooms were that we stayed in.  With two people and two bags the room was a fire hazard.  In the first room we stayed the toilet/kitchen only had running water for the first few hours.  We must not have paid for the full duration of water supply or something.  We decided to change our location in hopes of finding something cheaper and nicer. Well it turned out that we paid that same but we got a window without bars and a view of a larger maintenance shaft.  Another culture had taken up residence around the building that we staying in.  ChungKing Mansion was surrounded my Middle Eastern people and some North Africans.  No matter where in the world I go, it seems like the city people know how to speak “hustle”.  Every 20-30 feet you would hear “CopyWatch” ,”CopyHandbag”,”Good price for you my friend”,”Tailor sir” in different orders but all the same.  We eventually made it down to the harbor and got our first real view of the skyline WOW – It really puts US big cities in a lower category.  There are so many really big buildings that it doesn’t even seem real.  Every square inch of flat ground has been used and they are moving into the harbor and up the mountains. We took a trip to a scenic spot called Victoria Peak via the Peak Tram.  The view from the top were absolutely amazing.  The peak itself was quiet calm and covered in forest while the scene below was of one of the densest cities in the world. We were able to get some good pictures and some quiet time before returning to the mayhem.   We managed to make it to a couple of museums (history/art) before Dominik got too anxious about seeing more plants.  So we headed up to see the botanical garden which was fairly well done and free.

During our Hong Kong culinary adventure we chose the point a hope technique.  Some restaurants had pictures and English translation but that didn’t seem to matter much, the cook must just looked around and saw what they need to get rid of and that’s what you get.  The locals eat tripe (intestine) everything and liver too.  Some menus just say mixed meat.  All in all the food tasted good and we survived.

Five or six days in the city then Dominik had to get back to Switzerland and I was off to the mainland. If you’d like to get the details and read something that is more better legible  –