Articles by Danie & Esmé

Thailand (3) Kayaking

 

We are boarding the overnight sleeper train in Chiang Mai to Bangkok for the last time. From Bangkok we will take a local bus and  a red taxi truck to our hotel in Kanchanaburi. From there to the River Kwai for our kayaking.

 

   

Today we rise and shine at 6am to get our red taxi truck for the one and a half hour ride to the  River Kwai where we will be kayaking for a couple of days.

After reaching Kanchanaburi, we first had to go and see the famous River Kwai Bridge

   

Our luck was in …. while we were on the bridge the train crossed the bridge a few inches from us.

Quite a tourist attraction, many groups and souvernir shops all around.

From there onto the Wat Tham Khao Pun cave with a temple inside. It was really hot inside, but the view from the top of the hill was great. During WW2 the Japanese soldiers used these caves for their logistics and supplies.

 

   

The museum on the outside was quite informative and interesting with all the old photographs of the time when the bridge was built.

Lastly we made a stop at the war cemetry for the allied soldiers that lost their lives over here in WW2.

Now on our way with the red taxi truck.

Along the way we stopped at the Hellfire Pass and  had a walk through the very grim history of that part of WW2.

 

   

Now onto the kayaks. The double kayaks were very heavy and maneuvered like a container ship. So we decided to take turns in the singles, which were much better. On the first day we did our 21km water. Along the riverbanks are many resorts and dense bamboo forests that spread all over the mountains in the back.

 

     

Lunch stop was near the Burma Railway line and bridge where the Japanese Harakiri caves are. 

Some elephants came down for a swim while we were there.  We rowed 23Km on this stretch.

   

    

Our last night at the river was spent at a very nice resort with a swimming pool and a room over the river. The good dinner was also not totally unwelcome. Outside the hotel are an old WW2 Japanese jeep and lorry that is still used by the hotel. 

   

 

Back to the PhiPhi hotel in Kanchanaburi where we had a very competitive game of pool.

   

Last dinner on waterfront was deep fried pork streetfood that we bought at the night market …. and it was delicious

  

7.30am leave with red taxi for our two and a half hour bus ride to Chiang Mai.  Interesting, our bus runs on gas. Chai spends his time on the cell phone sorting out our day rooms and transport to Bangkok airport from where we are flying out at 6pm tonight.

   

 

From our red taxi, to the public bus, then a van and lastly we arrive in  Bangkok at 11am. After cleaning up in the dayroom our airport pickup arrives at 1 pm just after we finished our lunch of chicken curry and green chilli soup.

And, …….. that brings us to the end of an interesting and physical very active trip. Well organized by Intrepid and well worth doing.

 

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Thailand (2) Cycling

      

Still in Chiang Mai. Now for the cycling.

After breakfast we left our luggage at the Ratana hotel and were on our way to collect our bikes.

Ratana Hotel

Ratana Hotel Chiang Mai

 

Intrepid sub-contracted Chiangmai Adventures for this part. They (Titi and Ao) were very well organized and we especially enjoyed their unorthodox way of traffic control. It worked extremely well.

We left Chiang Mai at 9am and started cycling after we first tested and adjusted our bikes on a circuit at the Huay Tung Tao Lake.

Huay Tung Tao Lake

We couldn’t go all the way around the lake since they were busy with roadworks and all the tar was wet, …..not good for biking …..This lake with its surroundings is a very nice picnic and camping area. The track where we first tested the bikes was really great and the circuit is about 1.5Km long.

After the adjustments we were off. First along the water canal, then through a couple of small villages and all along many rice paddies. The last part was quite a serious uphill to the Big white Buddha, from where there is a great view.

Our guide Titi gave us a lengthy explanation on what happens to rice, from the paddy to the table.

Our lunch stop was at Suan Baan Pha, which is a very nice resort in its own right.

Suan Baan Pha

The ride up to the top of the mountain to the temple and large white Buddha was very steep and tough in the 36C and high humidity, but, well worth it.

Tonight we stayed at the Royal Ping Resort that only has beer and it was quite expensive at 120 batt a bottle. We had a good dinner and a reasonable breakfast. Today we are going to climb the same height as yesterday, but, over a longer distance.

On our way again.

The Wat Ban Den Temple is a stunning place. You can spend a couple of hours walking around this place.

 

 

 

Miwan restaurant

After a great lunch at the Miwan restaurant we were on our way again to the Mae Ngat Somboon Chon Dam. Also a steep climb, but over a longer distance than the one of yesterday.

 

Ride 40km today. Two very steep hills to Mae Ngat Somboon Chon Dam and waterfall. Doing this in a temperature of 36C and 100% humidity makes it just so slightly more difficult.

We end the days ride at the Bua Tong Sticky Waterfalls.

Bua Tong

 

After being stuck in the rush hour traffic we eventually reach the Ratana hotel.
We had an expensive but good dinner at the Riverside restaurant.

After breakfast we went up mountain with red taxi Isuzu to see the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple.

This temple has a nice view, but there are too many tour groups.

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple

After a shower in our dayroom we spend the rest of the afternoon walking around.  We bought some Durán toffees, somehow no one else seems to like them.  We take the same red taxi truck to the  train station for the overnight sleeper train to Bangkok. From there we will go to Kanachaburi for the next part, …. kayaking on the River Kwai.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thailand (1) Hiking

 

Well here we are in Bangkok. Qantas gave us very good service on plane. Our priority visa-pass  was a blessing, there was no one ahead of us in the customs line. The transport to hotel is good over the long distance to the Nuovo City Hotel. Although I’m not a beer drinker, you cannot survive in this very hot and humid atmosphere without beer, ….  which comes in quarts.

We’re on the  2nd floor in the hotel and breakfast is fortunately not included because being close to backpacker area there are many inexpensive restaurants close by.

 

 

 

Wiring along the streets is a form of art in it’s own right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a walk around the old town on our own we went on a guided cycling tour along the backstreets seeing the sights of the old town of Bangkok with Intrepid

Our cycling route in Bangkok

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This whole area looks so different at night, with all the lights and night markets around.

Night market

   Night market

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some live entertainment along the river near the  Royal Barges Museum

 

 

 

 

 

We took the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. This train is really quite comfortable, clean and efficient. Although there was a baby crying all night, we slept well.  Also, the a/c is not adjustable and makes it quite cold and the light always on. The toilet ok-ish, fortunately we did not sleep near it.

 

At the market there are all kinds of “tempting snacks” such as: ……

Frogs

Placenta from water buffalo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before we could start, we all had to register with the Tourist Police first

After buying some food supplies we made a stop at the Mok Fa Waterfall before our serious hiking is starting.

Mok Fa Waterfall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quite a stiff hike up the mountain in temperatures of 36 degrees C and humidity of about 100%

Our guide is Cai from the mountain Karen people

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our  hiking on the first day was 4Km. This might not seem to be much but in a humidity of 100% and temperature of 36 degrees C, the hiking on a steep uphill, makes it feel much more than the 4Km.  The squat toilets actually work quite well ….. though after a day’s hiking your knees and quads are a bit wabbly and it is not always so easy launching yourself up into a standing position afterwards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some really large trees along the hike in the forest.

 

 

 

 

On the 2nd day’s hike of another steep 11Km, we slept ín a house situated on a river bank and it was quite comfortable. Each of our mattresses on the floor had its own mosquito net and the shower in a water drum worked very well. After a good home cooked dinner we had some “local tequila” and I’d rather not ask what exactly it was.

Transporting wooden poles

Monkey bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They call this a monkey bridge because you certainly look like a monkey negotiating the wooden slats.

 

 

Homestay for the first night.

 

 

 

 

 

and a  home cooked dinner.

 

The last day’s hike was also tough and our one guide, Bat, fell ill and stayed behind in the one village. Tonight we are staying in the Ratana Hotel in town its about 2 star.

 

 

Tree climbing steps

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went for a much deserved massage in Chiang Mai after we returned back from the hike. The Thai Massage was painful but good. Night Market was very interesting. We ate pork ribs and belly with beer, it was great.

 

The hiking is now over and tomorrow we start the cycling part.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Marmaris to Fethiye (Aegean Coast 2)

 

AQuaMArine, Riviera, Turquoise coast, SUnrise, Sunsets, MarmaRIS, Daylan River, Kaunos Tombs, Sailing, OluDENIZ, Paragliding,beach, Mountain…………………………………………………………………….

Hallo again. Marmaris is the Turkish Riviera or Turquoise coast as it is also know in TURKEY. The town is blessed with a pebbly beach and a long seafront promenade. Gullets and excursion boats are parked all along the promenade. Nights are a buzzing occasion. We replenish our boats, and say goodbye to some crew and “merhaba” to new ones.

Marmaris

We left Marmaris with overcast skies. Little wind greeted us once we reached the open sea. Our next stop would be Ekincik Limani where we would leave the boat to visit the legendary Kaunos Tombs. We negotiate with a local to take us to the Dalyan river as only local small boats are allowed in this special sanctuary. The pick up was early. It was still dark and a bit on the chilly side. Once the sun showed its warm, rosy face, everything changed. The sight of the ruins in the early morning sun was special. It is a fact de compli that this hour is truly a golden hour. Add beautiful bird and insect songs. Exquisite! In the Dalyan river is Lake Koycegiz.  It is huge and a paradise to birdwatchers. On our way back we paid a visit to the Sultaniye mud baths where they say you will regain youthfulness. Lots of fun and laughter were had. The town of … has many restaurants and after such an early start we all were ready to tuck in. On returning to Ekincik Limani, we were all happy and relieved to see our boats were still moored in the same spots we left them.

Dalyan River

Kaunos Rock Tombs

Amphiteatre at Kaunos

We spend another night in Ekincik Limani and left bright and early once again for Kuçük Kuyruk. Our sailing days were almost something of the past and we eagerly enjoyed the morning wind.  Kuçük Kuyruk is a small but beautiful little bay shaped like a small tail. We swam, we snorkelled. The calm and clear turquoise water I felt certain was like heaven.

Kuçuk Kuyruk

Our second last day arrives. We plan to sail to OluDEnIz. There is a great spot to anchor and some of us are keen to do the paragliding thing because THIS is the place. The activity starts from Babadağ, a mountain around 1900 m high, and ends on the beach after a nice trip above OluDeniz which also hosts the most photographed beach in Turkey. Earlier in the day, we visited the busy tourist spot to book the paragliding and get a couple of items for the boat. Let me tell you, it was quite an experience getting to shore with waves breaking on the inclined pebble beach. Don’t wear your sunday dress!!

Full Moon

Paragliding

Fethiye is located on the site of the Ancient Greek city of  Telmessos  and is a great place to visit.  Fethiye is also the start of the Lycian coast. The Sunsail/Moorings base is just outside the marina and is attached to the Yacht Classic Boutique hotel. A great setup with excellent moorings and facilities.  There are  interesting historical sites to visit. The Tomb of Amyntas on the mountain side was built by the Lycians BC and the view over the bay from there is quite spectacular. The fish market is in the center of town. You can buy fresh fish and one of the restaurants will then prepare it to your liking. Restaurants are plenty and everybody tries something special to entice you to their fold.

Tomb of Amyntas

 

What a great place to end an excellent two-week sailing holiday. Great weather, fantastic ambience and outstanding company.

 

 

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Bodrum to Marmaris (Aegean Coast 1)

AQuaMArine, BlUES, Azul, SUnrise, Sunsets,CarIAN coast, BodRUM, SUnrise, Sailing, ExhiliratING, scenery, MOUntains, forests …………………………………………………………..

Bodrum is a great town, touristy with many markets, St Peter castle one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, great little restaurants and hotels ranging from grand and expensive to down to earth and genuine. We arrived in Bodrum after an awesome ten days just experiencing TURKEY. We stayed in a quaint boutique hotel, Hotel Gulec. Awesome atmosphere, nice garden, helpful staff, comfortable rooms close to everything but just out of reach of the hum and drum of a throbbing holiday destination.

Bodrum Seafront

After a good typical European breakfast, we left for Turgutreis in a minivan, all set and eager to start our two week sailing excursion.

The Carian coast, which stretches from Bodrum to Marmaris, has recently become a popular yacht charter and gullet cruise area. Little is known about the Carians. Homer mentioned they spoke gibberish. Indeed, their language still remains to be deciphered. However all that matters is the Meltemi wind which is responsible for sailing conditions this time of the year, beautiful bays, sandy beaches and other historical structures that line the shores of this mountainous green coast line.

TURGETREIS is the second largest town on the peninsula. We presented ourselves at The SUNSAIL base. After signing and producing all the necessary qualifications, we paid a visit to the local supermarket to stock our boat, “Hector” a 39 feet Lagoon, for the first couple of days sailing. We had fun finding space for 4 trolley loads of stuff divided amongst 3 couples!!

Getting ready to leave Turgetreis

We left Turgutreis at 11.00 the next morning and enjoyed the freedom of wind, waves and sails. Our first overnight stop was Mersincik Limani, the only natural port in the area. It was a nice spot with olive trees on the surrounding hillsides. The weather was calm and we anchorED in 10 m of water on the other side of the farmhouses and took a line ashore. A breeze might cause a swell and with a bottom of sand…….!

Mersincik

For lunch the next day we paid a visit to Knidos, home to the ruins of an ancient town. Great lunch, nice walk to the ruins and a refreshing swim. A busy little place.

The old town of Datça was our next overnight stop and it was well worth exploring. The old town is charming. No moorings are available but here is ample room to anchor in the harbor north or south of the isthmus. The restaurants, tavernas, cafés, nightclubs, boutiques, and markets are among the attractions at Datça harbor. Beautiful sunset and awesome sunrise.

 

Datça

Datça

After another day of freedom we ended in the Keci Buku Harbour with its Byzantine Fort. It is the most attractive anchorage besides Bencik. The ocean was like a mirrored lake, never ending with soft shades ranging from purple to orange and yellows. A truly enjoyable little paradise.

Tying a rope to the rocks

Bozburun, being a small seaside town with its own municipality in Marmaris, was out next stop. Here we had a romantic dinner for 6 in a white gazebo while candles flickered in the light breeze that ruffled the canvas ever so slightly. Awesome.

Bozburun

We left the town of Bozburun and headed for Çerçi Köyü, a  small but beautiful bay. Although sort of hidden away from the sailing highway it is a popular spot. By nightfall all the moorings were taken.

Çerçi Köyü

Next stop Marmaris. A week has gone. How fast did it go. Blue waters, constant wind, sails and good company sure is a recipe for a bumper sailing trip. See you in Marmaris!!

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