We escaped the dark and joyless fall in Finland to Thailand in the beginning of December. The timing was perfect as we were there right before the high season began: cheaper flights and hotel prices, empty and quite hotels and beaches, after the rains… a paradise!
Our criteria for choosing the destination was tranquility and the tropic warmth. We were not looking for a crowded nightlife, but a beautiful place in the nature to charge our batteries.
Feelings from the hotel. Plumeria flowers and an empty beach.
We booked cheap flights to Bangkok and decided to use public transport. But after some 12 hours of traveling we decided to take a taxi instead. About 200 km south to Rayong. We got what we had ordered, perfect weather everyday! Loads of sun and +30 degrees Celsius. Even at night, the +25 was warmer than any day during the summer in Finland!
Delicious Thailand. Sea food at the village market. Sticky rice with mango. Traditional Thai food: Som Tam and phad thai.
Day trip to Koh Samet.
Kings of the beach: street dogs with a tough lifes and almost finished luxury hotel, that was now in a state of decadence. We went in to take a look:
Trips to the nature resorts
Our beach hotel was located about 15 km away from a fisher village Ban Phen,where the ferries go to the island of Koh Samet.
Top row: day trip to the national park, jungle and steps to the waterfalls.
Bottom row: Crazy electrical wirings in the city of Rayong, fisher village and some Japanise tourists on the way to Koh Samet with a monster bus.
Our hotel, Bandara on Sea, was pretty perfect for our needs. It had seen it’s glory days perhaps in the 90’s, but it was still a reasonable place to stay. The beach was right in front of the hotel. It was nice to eat breakfast looking out to the sea, hearing the waves breaking to the shore.
The first days went in an executing mode, performing tasks. One day we went to Rayong (unfriendly industry city), the second to Koh Samet (too many tourists) and on third to the national park called Chao Chamao-Khao Wong (nice trail going through a beautiful jungle). Only then we were ready for what we came for: laying on the beach reading a good book.
Traveling with songthaews and tuk-tuks:
After the holiday by the beach we spent a few days in Bangkok. Before I didn’t know what it was like to be in a tropical metropolis of 12 million inhabitants. Now I know.
The skyscraper dystrophy at the shores of river Chao Praya.
All the clichés seemed to be true. The overwhelming stimulus of senses, vast contrasts, especially between the rich and the poor. Extreme heath combined with pollution and chaotic traffic. Wow!
At first we tried to walk to all places. Like we’re used to in Europe. The idea was to get close to our target with a sky train and walk the rest. But pretty soon we found that impossible. If the was a sidewalk in the first place, they were narrow and jammed with people. So we were forced to take a taxi or a tuk-tuk. In a way it was also good, as Jussi was ill with a high fever, that was taking its toll.
The lively Khao San Road and a city view from the water bus:
In the rural areas of Rayong it was impossible to get to know the locals because of the language barrier. We were totally outsiders and were treated as such.
The depressing plastic debris
In Bangkok many of the cab drivers were speaking good English, especially because they had learned it by themselves – by watching Discovery Channel as one of them said. They were kind and interested. And we were keen on hearing about their normal life, so we learned a lot. Unfortunately that was our only contact with the locals. Hopefully this will change in few years as our means of travel change from a jumbojet to a sailing boat.
There were street kitchens in every corner:
The plastic polution in the oceans became sadly familiar. The consumption of different plastics was in a different level compared with the recycling capabilities of the country. In that sense it felt as if they were on their way to the apocalypse. We were well aware that we played a major role in the problem just by traveling there. Our water bottles might be floating at sea right now.
The sky train and the scrap yard on the side streets:
Being on the spot makes it easier to understand why Thailand is labels as an industrialized developing country. The consumption and the technology were in many cases at the same level as in the western world, but capability to handle the amount of waste produced was far from it.
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