Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Thailand I, 15-11-2011 - 25-11-2011

Thai Venice
Few days in Bangkok passed by preparing the bike for further trip, visiting the giant statues of Buddha and hanging around with Lathoya and Roy.
Johan changed the back tire which had two cracks already. We got an off road tire in order to control the bike better on dirt roads which we expected to find in Laos and Cambodia.
After one week of standing still (the flight from Kathmandu to Bangkok didn't count for us) we felt so free and happy to sit on the bike and move further again. We missed the feeling of exploring the world 2up!
But we couldn't enjoy this freedom long as the flood stopped us as soon as we reached the Northern part of Bangkok. At the beginning it was a nice adventure for us, especially because Johan just bought a new camera that we could mount on the helmet or on the bike. We could film the bike crossing the streets-rivers and facing the waves made by passing trucks.
But we reached the point where we couldn't move further because the level of water was too high. For a moment we were even thinking about turning back and going first to Cambodia. But Bangkok's developed infrastructure proposed us a solution -  a sky highway that goes above the Northern part of the city avoiding the areas under the water. As it was the main road going to the North it took us a few hours even with the bike to get out from the traffic jam.
From the sky highway we could observe the areas suffering from the flood. The view was impressively sad, especially knowing that the situation was much worse few weeks ago. Some districts were totally abandoned because of the high level of water, the streets became rivers and the cars were replaced by boats.
People were taken by trucks from one place to another. The airport that provides mainly domestic flights was covered by water as well, its landing field was just a big lake.
After leaving Bangkok around 200 kilometers we could still witness the damages of the flood. The road became dry but the road sides, fields and the courtyards of some temples were still under the water.
But the locals we met on the way kept smiling to us despite their wet tragedy.

When the time to get back to the initial path comes...
On our way through Thailand we visited several touristic places like ancient temples complexes which were quite impressive for the first time, but lost their charm when we saw several similar spots. We also tried some touristic activities like elephant ride and white water rafting, but it didn't impress us and gave a feeling of a touristic conveyor operating all around the country. The tourists groups were coming and leaving all day long, doing the same activities and making the same pictures. We only had a lot of fun with rafting, but even this joy took only half an hour as other tourists were waiting for their turn.
And the last drop was Milda's visit in a Tigers park which offers the possibility to touch the tigers and make close pictures with them. As the couple we met one day before told that it was a highlight for them, it sounded like a nice thing to experience. But the atmosphere there was very sad and so called Tigers kingdom was just small cages where animals didn't have much freedom. The big tigers looked drugged and baby tigers wanted more to sleep than be touched by hundreds of tourists.
This disappointing experience with Thailand's touristic activities let us feel like we were not on our main road anymore. We didn't make this trip to be one of many tourists going from one touristic place to another. It was the time to get back to our initial path and follow our initial goals - meet locals and get to know the country and its culture through them.
For this purpose Johan bought an off road map and we could escape all the touristic places and discover Thailand in our way. This plan worked out right away - suddenly we ended up on a beautiful forest road going through the villages and passing the rivers, with no tourists, only a few locals who crossed our path just on time.
Finally we ended up at a monks camp where they were building a new meditation house. For them our arrival was a big surprise as no tourists are passing this way. For us the meeting with them was one of the highlights of our trip. We were invited to have a meal and to stay over in their camp. We couldn't miss the opportunity to discover their life and religious principles!
We were lucky to meet a Canadian monk among them who was our translator that evening. We spent an afternoon hanging around and helping monks with construction works. Our visit influenced their daily routine and in the evening, instead of meditating longer, they sit with us and told about the life of monks and the main principles of Buddhism.
It was great to discover the religion which is so close to traveler's, so also ours, ideology. The seek to have as little as possible enjoying everyday, trying everything you want without thinking too much about "what if...", being good to each other and helping everybody around you fit a lot with what we experienced during our trip.
And finally it was like a confirmation for us that we are on the right path in our life as well as on our trip. 
The monks were very welcome and warm to us, and at the same time so simple and relaxed. The leader monk let us participate in their daily rituals, shared his food and at the end gave us his amulet wishing us good luck on the way.
It was hard to fall asleep that night because of many thoughts in our heads and very noisy nature around our tent.
We had a special time with monks which allowed us to leave feeling very confident and gave some new good feeling in our hearts. Even Johan, who is often very skeptic about religious issues, felt special after that evening.

We moved towards Laos convinced again that the nicest things happen off road and thanks to our bike and the way of traveling we can experience that!

Some numbers:
KMs driving in total: 18450
KMs driving during this period: 1400
Money spent during this period: 877 euros, not including a new toy of Johan


  1. Hello, guys!

    Thank you for a wonderful post! Can't wait to be your hostess in Samui!!! :) Be prepared for sun, relaxation on the beach, fresh fruit shakes, and fun fun fun! :)

  2. Agnyt, aš irgi taip noriu!!!! :)) Skamba kaip rojus :)

  3. waiting for u to come back, and hear more about thai country and plaes to visit. we go there in february