Saturday, January 25, 2014

Three weeks in Thailand: Week 1

So the blog is called Killah in Germany, yet the next few months will be spent not in Germany. Actually, I haven't been in Germany since before Thanksgiving. Does that mean I have to change the URL?

(Not gonna!)

Anyway, here's what I've been up to. I know the post title suggests that I am going to write about Thailand, but BACK UP A MINUTE Kyla, how did you end up in Thailand? Thanks for asking! Allow me to explain. 

In mid-October, I left Berlin to start hiking the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, starting in St. Jean Pied-de-Port at the foot of the Pyranees mountain range in France. My sister and I met in Paris and took a rideshare down south. 

My sister started the hike with me but had to drop out on day 8 due to injury. She rejoined for one night to cook me a birthday dinner, though!

After 34 days of hiking including one day of rest, I was in Santiago, with 800km behind me and a certificate to prove it. 

Then I flew to Chicago just in time to spend Thanksgiving with my relatives in the Midwest. 

In December I went home to Olympia for Christmas and bought myself a nice shiny new touring bike. Thanks, KillahSanta! I love my new Surly Long Haul Trucker. 

To test out the mettle of my new bike, I took it out for a weekend in the San Juan Islands with my friend Brad. We missed the ferry for Lopez Island by a hair, so we ended up doing a day on San Juan island instead, and spent the following day on Orcas Island. It ended up being a blessing in disguise. 

Then I packed up the bike to be shipped to New Zealand. But before starting my bike tour there, I decided I wanted to see a little bit of SE Asia. Delta was having a fare sale to Bangkok and I had a flight voucher from them I needed to use before it expired. So I landed in Bangkok in mid-January. Neil, whom I met on the Camino in Spain, was in Thailand already and picked me up from the airport. (You might recognize him from the one of the photos above.)

After spending a few days in the tourist bustle of Bangkok as I got over my jet lag, we headed for Koh Chang, an island in eastern Thailand, setting up camp at beautiful Lonely Beach. 

Koh Chang is the 2nd largest island in Thailand after Phuket. It's got great beaches but the party scene can be a bit much. So I took a few days off from the big island to go to the smaller, quieter island of Koh Wai. The ticket taker on the boat had a very interesting belt:

I got my very own beachfront bungalow on Koh Wai for the equivalent of 5 USD a night. 

Yes, that's the view from my balcony!

Koh Wai was windier and thus not as good for swimming, but the water was clear and the fish were plentiful. And both islands were warmer than the San Juans!

Then it was back to Koh Chang for a few more days of beach bumming. The same wooden boat (with the same ticket taker with the same wooden (woody?) belt) took me back to Bang Bao Bay and then I caught a songthaew (bench taxi) to Lonely Beach, where I rejoined Neil.  

I really should take a picture of the bench taxi. It has to be seen to be believed. I've also had my turn riding in a tuk-tuk, which is an experience both delightful and terrifying. 

This morning, I packed up and left Koh Chang to return to Bangkok. 

After a 45-minute ferry ride followed by 6 hours in a minibus, I made it to Bangkok Huaphanglong train station and booked an overnight train to Chiang Rai in the north. They were out of room in the sleeper cars so I am traveling 3rd class (!). At least it's cheap - $9 for a 751km ride. 

It's good to get out of Bangkok too, what with the shutdown and all. Even waiting outside the train station on the steps, I was busy writing this post when a police procession showed up. 

The police were friendly though - they came over to us foreigners sitting on the steps and asked us if we liked various aspects of Thailand: the food, the culture, the weather. Though I think they really just wanted to bum cigarettes from the other backpackers. (One disadvantage of not being a smoker - perhaps the only disadvantage - is that you lack a built-in excuse to strike up a conversation with people.) I didn't see any protests but have heard various reports ranging from mild transit inconveniences to car bombings. These reports are third hand at best and remain invalidated, but at any rate I'm glad to be leaving for Chiang Mai. I've heard good reports. 

If you have any must-see places in Thailand or nearby, please leave it in the comments or shoot me an email. I've got 2 weeks left to explore. It's only just now starting to hit me how diverse and wonderful this country is. Monks roaming the streets in their monk robes along with Thai ladyboys, street vendors selling all kinds of delicious food for no more than $2, beaches and jungles (sometimes on the same island), motorbikes everywhere. Stay tuned for week 2, in which Killah takes a meditation course in a Buddhist monestary and gets addicted to dried tamarind. 

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At 07:46, Blogger Unknown said...

Ah, Kyla! That sounds wonderful!! How do you manage to do so many cool things?! Also, i've been wondering- is it a fairly reasonable price to ship a bike overseas with you? I have some vague plans for a visit to New Zealand and would like to bring my bike as well.

Anyway, I spent two months in Thailand last winter and my two favorite places by far were Ko Tarutao (which is way far south, so you might not head back that way, but it is the best place we stayed by far.) it's a national marine park and so there are no parties at all, no development, no cars, and miles of biking, kayaking in mangroves, and hiking trails and the nicest park staff. 2nd recommendation is Doi Chiang Dao, and stay at Mallee's nature bungalows, and go to the temple up the road, and hike Doi Chiang Dao. Hope you have wonderful travels! Nice to see what you're up to these days! Take care, Malloree

At 07:56, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rock it girl. You kick ass, seems like an amazing adventure, and its sure not over!

At 15:40, Blogger Brad said...

Love keeping up with your adventures! Can't wait for the next installment.



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