5. September 2013
We went from Thailand to Laos… It was a very long trip, two days in total. Seven hours of the trip were by boat on the Mekong River. I really enjoyed that trip and was fascinated by the beautiful scenery. I absolutely fell in love with that river
Have you heard about the Mekong River? The Mekong is the 12th biggest river in Asia. I can´t believe that it is only the 12th biggest because it is so incredible. At the border to Cambodia, the Mekong becomes about 14 km wide and it is said that there are about 4000 islands around there. This is why they even call the south “4000 islands”.
Our first stop in Laos was Luang Prabang. After that we went to Vang Vieng and then to Vientiane, the capital city.
In Luang Prabang there was not much to do but it was beautiful and the night market was exciting since we saw very different things than in Thailand. What I find very interesting is that Luang Prabang and also other cities in Laos are still quite “french” since Laos was a French colony. There are bistros, baguette and you get cheap wine everywhere. In Thailand wine is very expensive. I guess Laos still has connections to Europe so it is easier to import certain things. There were lots of European restaurants and the houses looked quite European too.
In Vang Vieng we did the famous “tubing” on the Mekong. People sit on a tube and float down the river. A few years ago there were hundreds of bars along the river where people were partying and drinking. Unfortunately many people got so drunk or were doing drugs that they were not able to control their tubes. Many people died over the years. A guy in Laos said that it was fun in the beginning but that they “created a monster” which got out of control. So now they have closed down most of the bars. Only three bars are left, which are definitely enough to get wasted.
Vientiane is a really nice city, again with a beautiful night market and colonial houses. From there we went to the “Buddha Park” which we first thought was very old but it was built in 1958. In that park there are hundreds of different Buddha statues. It looks really nice but it´s a tourist attraction and you´re wrong when you think that you are looking at something really old. Still it is worth a visit.
From Vientiane we went down south, to 4000 islands. We chose the island Don Det and stayed there for about 10 days. To be honest, this was one of the most beautiful places I´ve ever been to. I have been so relaxed and so happy that I can´t find words for it. We found a wonderful little bungalow, with view on the river for only 30.000 kip which is about 3 Euros. It was a lovely place. Only one night I totally freaked out when I woke up at 3 a.m. and saw a man hanging through our window, going through my backpack looking for valuables. I will certainly never forget that.
We spent much time at “happy bar” and met lots of wonderful people from around the world there. Manni, a lovely English guy who has stayed and worked there for many years, organized boat trips for us. With a few beers and loud music on the boat we enjoyed the sunset and good atmosphere. I guess I could have stayed there forever.
10. Juli 2013 – Sri Lanka
The last month I’ve spent in Sri Lanka. That was a totally new experience for me and actually wasn’t part of my original journey.
A few months ago, before I started my journey around the world, I went to London for a few days where I met my boyfriend Aram. We both planned on going travel that year which fit perfectly together. We were supposed to meet each other in Thailand later on but then being apart from each other for so long was really hard, so I changed my plans and came to the first stop of his world trip – Sri Lanka. Aram has got many relatives in Sri Lanka since his dad is from there and I had a wonderful time meeting them and spending time getting to know the “real” Sri Lanka. Aram’s relatives took us to many places in Colombo, the capital, and showed us around. I felt so happy, at peace and complete since all that missing had finally come to an end.
After spending one week with Aram’s family, Aram’s friend Greg came to Sri Lanka as well and we all started our journey together. Sri Lanka is an amazingly beautiful country. There are so many things to see and to do so we took two weeks to explore it. It´s very different to the many places I’ve seen before. I have never been to India but many people compare it a bit,… well, I still think it might be very different but I don’t know.
We tried lots of different methods of transport. Going by train is not only fun but also gives you the best view of the indescribable landscape. Also I was fascinated by all the beautiful temples. I prefer the temples in Sri Lanka to the temples I´ve seen in Thailand since the ones in SL are not so ostentatious and more humble.
We went snorkeling around Pigeon Island (where we even saw sharks), had a nice ride on an elephant (from a nice little elephant orphanage where they treat them well!), climbed Sigiriya Rock and Greg and Aram celebrated their first standing up on a surfboard.
We met wonderful people on our way… one of them was Rasika, a Rasta from Matara. He hosted us in Arugam Bay, the Surfer´s paradise in Sri Lanka. (update: in the meantime he now lives in Matara and can be found in “Uprising” – Restaurant)
What a wonderful, open minded and peaceful person! If anyone of you is going to Sri Lanka you need to stay with him! When we went to Matara, we stayed with Rasika´s friend Ranjith who also took great care of us. His guesthouse with only two rooms has its own little beach where you can watch sea turtles swim! At some times of the year you could even watch them laying eggs on the beach and then watch the baby turtles find their way back to the sea. It is a wonderful little place to have some relaxed time.
I really loved Sri Lanka. Our time there has been so happy and peaceful. Aram’s family is amazing and I loved discovering the country. Our stay was perfect and I know that I want to go back there.
FOR MORE TRAVEL TIPS FOR SRI LANKA CLICK HERE…
(this post was imported from my former travel blog)
These are the places I’ve been to so far:
An absolutely amazing city with many things to do and see!
Don’t miss the following attractions which might NOT be in your tour guide:
- Gangaramaya, 61, Sri Jinaratana Road
One of the most beautiful temples I’ve ever seen in my life. In contrary to temples in e.g. Thailand, the temples in Sri Lanka are not as ostentatious but more humble. Less gold, more flat and earthy colors. There are elephants living in the temple and they’re being washed and praised every day.
- The Floating Temple
Actually floats on a lake in the city. Absolutely beautiful!
Food & Drinks:
- The Gallery Cafe
Beautiful location with unique atmosphere. Pricy, but really delicious food and wine!
- The Gall Face Hotel
In the center of Colombo. Sit in comfortable chairs, enjoy the most amazing cocktails and watch the sun set over the ocean. A MUST!
Shopping / unique souvenirs:
- Barefoot www.barefootceylon.com
Beautiful Sri Lankan textiles, tasteful notebooks, postcards, pictures, masks, bags and much much more. There is also a little café in the courtyard which you shouldn’t miss!
BAREFOOT, 706 Galle Road, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka.
BAREFOOT, 41 Pedlar Street, Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka
BAREFOOT, Dutch Hospital, Fort, Colombo 1, Sri Lanka
- Millennium Elephant Foundation, Randeniya, Hiriwadunna, Kegalle
A lovely orphanage for elephants. The animals are being treated very well and are being cared for. It is possible to ride on them but only for about 10 minutes so that they’re not overburdened. The environment is really nice and there are many people/travelers volunteering there. Lovely atmosphere! Also you can “bath” an elephant and enjoy an “elephant shower” which is lots of fun! There is a nice gift shop where you can buy notebooks made of “elephant-poo-paper” and leave a donation. The workers and volunteers will be happy to tell you more about the individual elephants living there.
Around the corner of that orphanage is the “Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage”. I didn’t really like that orphanage. The elephants have enough space and the landscape is absolutely beautiful but still I am not convinced that the elephants are being treated very well there. At some point they separated a baby elephant from his mother so that tourists could feed the baby with a bottle. The mother was standing in a corner and cried. I hated that! On the other hand I think the elephants there have lots of space and are taken to a lake or river every day. Unfortunately some workers there are a bit rude. They tell you to take a photo of the elephants or stroke one and then ask you for money. I am sure that money doesn’t go to the orphanage.
On the 13th of April Thailand celebrated the Songkran Festival. It is the Thai New Year and the biggest water fight of the world. People run around with water guns and buckets full of water, everyone is just busy making other people wet. You shouldn’t carry any important stuff unless it´s in a waterproof bag. Stephen, lovely french girls and many other people I recently met and I went to Thong Sala to celebrate there. Usually it is a big market place where you can buy all kinds of food. But on this day, it was one big party. There was loud music, many many people, everyone was throwing with water or baby powder and dancing like crazy. We enjoyed ourselves a lot until a really stupid thing happened. Two guys, we don’t know if they´re Thais or maybe people from Burma, started fighting in the middle of the crowd. (crazy thai boxing) Apparently one guy was stronger than the other one. So the “weaker” one smashed a beer bottle on the head of the other one. I felt that something was wrong but it was too late already. Suddenly I just saw the broken beer bottle flying in my direction. I tried to get away but I only had about half a second to do so. Everything happened so fast… I got that broken bottle directly on my head and face. I had a very deep cut on my head and many little ones over the right side of my face. I was just standing there, losing a lot of blood when people took me aside. I was so confused and didn’t know what´s going on. Fortunately there was a nurse who explained to me that it´s bad but not too bad and that I have to go to hospital quickly to get stitches. The situation was really crazy because the party went on, there was loud music, lots of people talked to me in many different languages and I didn’t understand anything. Then Stephen said he is going to take me to hospital on his scooter – if I was ok going. I didn’t really know but I knew that’s the quickest way. So we made our way through the partying crowd, people looking at me with open mouths. The ride was crazy because Songkran went on and people kept on throwing loads of water on us while we were driving on the scooter. We didn’t really know the way to the hospital. Stephen kept on talking to me random stuff because he couldn’t look back to see if I was ok or maybe fainting. We then saw a police car and asked them for the way to the hospital when they decided to escort us, which added even more drama to the whole story (haha).
Also at the hospital everything happened really fast. I got stitches on my face, head and ear. Stephen was sitting next to me the whole time, holding my hand. I was really scared and in bad pain. The nurse kept on saying “long breathing Madame” which made me crazy but helped a little at the same time. One scar on my cheek was caused by the nurses. They just cleaned my face with rough paper towels and cut me with the tiny bits of glass which were still on my face… aaaaah! Couldn’t they just use water to rinse the wounds first?
Anyway… when I was done, I realized that all of my friends came to the hospital. We were around ten people, all of them were so sweet, trying to help me. I was so confused, I just wandered around looking for something or asking questions. Stephen did all the bureaucratic stuff for me, which also wasn’t easy because everything was so hectic. Then he took me back to the Surf House. I’ll stop here now with that story. My friends here were amazing and took really good care of me.
The next days, Stephen was always there to help me out, brought me food or take me back to the hospital for check ups. I don’t know what I would have done without him. At this point: thanks again Stephen!!!
After the accident I wasn’t able to do much. First of all I felt like hiding all the time because I looked so terrible. Then also I couldn’t go to the sun because of the fresh wounds. Also my chewing muscle was cut, so I couldn’t really open my mouth or chew. (it took weeks until I was able to open my mouth again)
After they have removed the stitches I felt better. I got a veeery big sun hat to keep my face in the shadow. It looked a bit boring so I started to “pimp” my hat. I added feathers, flowers, shells and other stuff to it so that it looks nicer and it’s more fun to wear it. I have a good cream for the scars and wear very high sunscreen. Now my skin looks a bit better and people are not asking what happened all the time. They actually think that I got attacked by a cat.
Before the accident I was thinking about getting a tattoo but didn’t do it because I hadn’t found the right studio to do it. I had an idea of what to get but it made even more sense after that incident. I got my tattoo the day I got the stitches removed and I am really happy about it. It’s a traditional bamboo tattoo (getting the stitches removed was more painful than the tattoo)… it’s something written in thai but I won’t tell what it means. If you’re interested you can ask me ; ) But it has something to do with this phrase:
Learn from the past,
the present is you,
the future is the light.
Yesterday Stephen and I had to go separate ways. Stephen went to Laos to meet the french girls and I stayed on Koh Phangan. In three days I’ll continue my journey to Koh Lanta. I found a very nice place there and think that it will be good to relax and maybe finally calm down. The past month was fun, full of surprises but also quite difficult. I didn’t find the time to really relax.
When traveling with the french girls, we realized that when you travel on your own you’re almost never alone. You always meet new people. Especially in Thailand this is a very easy thing to do. Right now I’m sitting in front of the Surf House with another French girl I met, Marie. We’ve seen each other at a party a few days back and the next day we found out we are staying at the same place. It’s always nice to meet new people and have good conversations about life and traveling.
I just went to the sea, the first time after my accident. It felt so great! The water is hot – I think usually in winter I take a bath with the same temperature. The view is amazing, there are only a few clouds on the sky and I can see Koh Samui, the neighbour island lying very clear in front of me. The water is very clean and you can find lots of wonderful shells and stones. I am starting to feel good and free again!
So as you see, and for sure know,… everything can change within a second. You never know what´s going to happen next. So leave the bad things behind, don’t worry about the future and just live in the moment, being thankful for what you have.
(this post was imported from my former travel blog)
30. March 2013 – Koh Phangan, Thailand
The first time I woke up today was because somebody covered my body with a blanket. I smiled and feel asleep again. When I then later opened my eyes, I saw the ocean lying just in front of me. It seemed that Koh Samui waved at me. With a happy smile, again, I fell asleep. The third time I woke up this morning I found a lovely prepared Thai breakfast on the table next to me. It was sticky rice carefully wrapped in some colourful leaves, eggs and some rice soup. I just sat there and watched the sea quietly moving when Num pointed at the food on the table. “You eat!”, he said.
I’m on Koh Phangan, Thailand. I have finally arrived at the place where I want to be.
Let’s start at the beginning. When I arrived in Bangkok the thing that kept me most busy was the heat. It’s not hotter than Kampala but it’s a different kind of heat. Uganda was hot too but very dry and dusty. I somehow always felt dirty or wanted to clean myself. Here in Thailand it’s a tropical heat with very high humidity so that your clothes stick to your body almost all the time. It’s a sexy heat, I think. The bodies of all the people here are always kind of shimmering because of all the sweat and sunscreen. In addition to that people in Thailand, especially the tourists, are actually walking around showing a lot of skin. I enjoy that. Here it just doesn’t matter how you look like. You are just here.
You think you might be lonely when you’re traveling alone. But you are never alone and not easily get the chance to be lonely. There are people everywhere who are in the same situation as you. They are looking for something. Some of them have a question and need an answer, some are still looking for their question to ask. But people travel for many different reasons. Of course many of them come to Thailand to only enjoy the big parties, get wasted and have lots of sex. Others will enjoy a quiet beach or do some meditation. Again others might enjoy a mix of all of this.
Nothing is easier than to start a conversation in Thailand. You just go over and say “hi!”. Suddenly you will find yourself in a group of people who come from all around the world. Then you sit there, on the floor of crazy Khao San Road and you talk about the places you’ve been to and the things that you’ve seen. Some of the people you´re with have been traveling for many years, coming from France, lived in Australia, worked in India… others are on a world trip for some months, just like me. Proudly people present their tattoos that they have collected over the past years at many different places while we all play with some of Bangkok´s street dogs.
I enjoy meeting new people, I love going to parties and dance around in the light of the moon. My next goal is to find a balance between exactly that and calm thinking and meditating.
What I have to do first, I think, is to block all negative energy, and distance myself from all people who might stress me in any way. I don’t want to make decisions. I don’t want to have to do anything at all. I´m so far away from my life in Austria, from my friends… I can’t really get myself to think about it much because I’m so busy with myself at the moment. I have no idea what day we have today or what time it is. The good thing is that it just doesn’t matter at all. I just want to be at some peaceful place on the beach, on a hill, wherever, where I can take time to think about things without considering anyone’s needs but my own. What do I want in life? What do I need? Koh Phangan is the best place to be confused at the beginning and to ask these questions to clear the mind.
There is only one thing I definitely know I need at the moment and that´s writing. I’m writing a lot while I’m traveling. This is an opportunity to put my feelings down in words and share it with people. I also have my diary which I only keep to myself. But maybe this blog might interest someone or maybe even help people to … I don’t know. Maybe just get the fuck out of where they are at the moment or get some new ideas. And if nobody reads it, it’s alright, I will at least have put my feelings down in words.
Soon I’ll write more about where I’m staying and about some great people I’ve met so far… but for now, as I just said, I just need time for myself.
(this post was imported from my former travel blog)
14. March 2013 – Kampala, Uganda
I am in Kampala, Uganda. The first stop of my trip around the world.
The last weeks before I left were completely crazy. I gave up my apartment as I am going to travel for about 9 months and don’t think that I’d like to go back there after I have returned. The apartment was perfect for the last three years but it’s now time for a change. A big change.
It was not easy to let go. Actually I never thought it would be so emotional. I found lots of old stuff, photos and letters. I had to make many breaks during packing because I couldn’t really deal with it sometimes. Especially when I remembered people who have already left this world. It was very sad.
I did not only pack. I decided to throw out stuff, I burnt some things, made inner peace with some events of the past … it was a big good bye but now there is lots of space for new hellos. I feel incredibly free!
I also cleaned up my old kid’s room at my parent’s house (so that there is space for all my boxes). What’s interesting is that I found so many articles and books about traveling. I always wanted to travel. When I was very young I always wanted to go to Alaska. So I went to Africa!? Anyway… I have travelled a lot with my parents when I was a child and I have seen many places. I was a big fan of every place I’ve been to. When we were in Canada I would collect maps and posters of that place and put them on my walls in Vienna. When we were in Greece I would take postcards and frame them. I always dreamed about going to Cuba (especially because I loved Salsa dancing). It’s quite funny actually because when I was a child I was always homesick. I couldn’t even spend one night at a friend’s place because I was missing my home and my parents. Now I am the one traveling as much as possible. (Which doesn’t mean that I don’t miss them now. I just learned how to deal with it, I guess.)
Also I have finished my studies before I left. It’s a biiig relief. I’m waiting for my theoretical BA-thesis to be graded, then I can “graduate” ( = pick up that stupid piece of paper) when I come back in the end of November. Social and Cultural Anthropology were really interesting studies. I enjoyed doing it. Only in the end I really wanted to be done and was annoyed with every little thing I had to do. I finished in the last moment, but at least, I am now free and can start making new plans. I have got some ideas of what to do when I come back but that’s way too early to decide. Let’s see where this journey will take me. I am ready!
(post was imported from my former travel blog)