Monday, January 16, 2017

Ko Kraden, Ko Mok & Trang 1/17

 A two hour boat ride takes you from pretty, but busy krabi town to the beautiful waters of ko kraden. There's resorts but it's a small island and things are a bit more spread out and nestled in the trees rather than overtaking all the beaches. 

I read about a bungalow that was semi affordable and further away from the "main" pier area. It reminded me of Homer because to walk there on the beach you had to catch the tides right. Otherwise you had to walk through a jungly section, which ain't bad but some fallen big trees covered with ants. 
The food was simple Thai. It's hard to escape the rice and fried everything with white bread. The bungalow had a seaview and the water was blue and clear. Not the best snorkeling as I read but perhaps the recent storm had something to do with it. Overal o still think Malta has the best beaches but maybe I'm bias :)

After two nights, a 30 mins long tail boats takes you to ko mok which is known for its emerald cave. You swim 80 meters through a dark cave and you launch put to a small lagoon and beach that is completely enclosed with towering limestone cliffs. 

There's actual roads on this island and tuk Tuks, more people, places, etc but also more affordable. Every island and bungalow has its pros and cons especially when you are on a budget.

 As soon as I got here I was sick, not the committing kind. My new cut on the bottom of my foot was still red and slightly painful for about a week. After having chills, feeling warm, and with the new bathroom issue I decided to take antibiotics again after more research and consulting a doc friend. 

Few days of gut issues, only in the mornings at least, you are so depleted of energy. Found some more electrolytes, coc water and my new fav aloe water, and kept taking probiotics. Avoided booze and sun and got lots of rest. 

Day 4 started getting better. Of course this was on the day I started traveling back home. I saved money by just eating rice, toast and bannas and no booze but couldn't resist eating bbq Freah fish for dinner right on the beach during sunset. 

Another 30 mins long tail to the mainland then one Hr minivan to Trang, with  6 hrs to kill before the  evening flight to Bangkok. Only slept 4hrs before i started my long journey back "home" to Portland. What's next I'm not so sure. Got some ideas cooking and need time to research, rest and save up again :)-

Pix of Ko kraden 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Thai beaches & islands: Ao Nang, Ko Hong, Ko Lanta 1/17

 There's so many beaches and islands in thailand it's hard to choose which ones to visit. After reading a few blogs, books and talking to other travelers, we made a plan. 

Some islands are far from each other and ferry costs adds up. But more importantly it's tricky to really find what u are looking for in an island. 

Some want to party, some want the comforts of dining options, shopping etc. For me, I want remoteness. I don't want to be surrounded by tourists. I also wanted tome snorkeling actions and pretty, not polluted beaches. But of course the more remote you go, the more expensive everything gets. 

You can google islands to see images but the reality is not aways matching what Google shows you. Also the days of cheap backpackers places are disappearing. All Of Asia is developing more upscale reports and even food is not as cheap anymore. 

We visited ko Hong island as a day trip from ao nang beach which is near the major town of krabi. Even the not to big towns are super packed and just trashy with bars and rubbish. We lucked out with a bit of sun though the clouds with only pouring rain overnight and on the day of travel to the island of Ko lanta. 

We had not idea a storm has been hitting further north. Ko lanta experienced no electricity which not only means no wifi but also no ATMs and no shower or running water at the bungalow. Very lucky compared to the other islands that experienced major floods for a second time during this not rainy season. 

 The strong winds knocked down some trees and sadly we couldn't visit a nations park nearby. At one beach I picked up about 100 lighters that got swept up during the storm. 

Tourists feed the monkies that are by the roads and while walking on the street one monkey grabbed our bag that had snacks and drinks. He only got the almonds and an emergency c. It's so scary because they can bite you but so many tourists act so poorly with these wild animals. 

The weather for better every day and we were able to hike to a bat cave. It was small and sadly no bats. This was on the way to a waterfall which was refreshing and not too cold but also not a big waterfall. 

Pix of Ko Hong and ao nang

Friday, January 6, 2017

Siem reap & Ankow Wat - Cambodia 1:1

  Arrived at Siem reap the day before New Years to meet up with a friend who flew from Portland. We were pretty tired from stressful travels so New Year's Eve was pretty chill. We heard fireworks at midnight and the streets were getting packed by 8pm. 

We toured ankor wat for two days. Lots of cool temples to see so it's nice to split it in two days. The first day was exhausting. Second day we woke up at 4 for the sunrise. 

Rest of the time in town was chill. Took an hour pottery class for fun. First time on a kick wheel wh oh was hard and tiring. Siem reap is built for tourists to see ankor wat. Everything is more pricey and it's hard to escape the tourist trap in this big city designed for us. 

 I'm glad I saw ankor wat and the ruins with the trees embedded in them were super cool. Khmer and Indian food was great but I just didn't feel like I was in Cambodia anymore. 
Two weeks in Cambodia was not enough time. I wished I planned it a bit better to visit other parts. Keep on learning :)-

Pix link to Siem reap and ankor wat

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Koh rung - Cambodia 12/16

 From Otres beach you can get to some nice islands south of Cambodia. I went to the main one, Ko rung. I didn't know much about it but heard it's like Thailand 10 years ago, before Thailand islands got invaded with tourists and of course development. 

The ferry is only an hr but I have never seen such a disorganized transportation system. The boat is there and they started boarding us very inefficiently, 30 mins after departure time. Not so bad as I heard other boats left an hr late. 
The hostel I booked is not near the main pier but i was told I could get dropped of very close to a different pier. Waves were a bit bad (not really) so they only went to the main one. I was a bit hungover and got sick twice at the very end. 

I didn't want to get on another boat so a traveller headed my way offered to wear my 20 pound backpac; we took our time walking about 1.5 through beautiful beach spots and through a small forest. 

I was stoked to have a tent instead of a dorm bed. It was huge and in a perfect spot just under a minute walk from the ocean. I chilled for two nights. Caught up on sleep as I heard the waves crashing from my tent. 

My time is short in Cambodia so I decided to book a flight to Siem reap to avoid going back through Phom penh. The boat ride back to the mainland was an ordeal. I opted to go early to be on the safe side for my 4pm flight. After waiting two hours by the pier close by to my hostel, I started to panic. Was told it's too choppy and have to go to the main pier. 
However none of the small boats wanted to make the trip to the main pier either cuz of the waves. So I started marching through the woods this time carrying my backpack. After 30 mins back on the beach side,  I noticed it was calmer. Saw a boat and a guy and paid him $10 to take me to the pier. 

I made good time to catch the 12:30 boat, but then was told that my boat company cancelled their trips. So I bought another ticket that was double the price and waited 2 more hours. 

I saw my original boat at the pier and after much going  back and forth between the two boat companies and docks I decided to go with the original one. The other one was changing their boat as the one that just arrived broke down a few times. 

45 mins crazy boat ride, up and down the waves with barely mins to make my flight. I gave up on the flight but people encouraged me to try. At this point I'd be happy to make it alive to the mainland. 

Kept my bag with me, up front so I could rush off the boat. Walked a bit to gab a taxi and told him fast. Calling the airlines to let them know I'm on the way but if I miss it could I make the next flight? They said no it's full, so hurry.  

 Taxi hurries, he's happy that I will make it. I tip him, heart racing at the check in. Asking them, did I make it. They said, yes. Rush through security, luckily this is a tiny airport, only to be told that I have time. The plane is delayed. Then why did the guy on the phone, whoever he was, told me to hurry; hurry as if I had just one minute to make it. 

I spent $5 on a beer and icecream to relax. Normally beer is .50 cents. Expensive day to make my flight and the awesome beach time I had experienced was now filled with a stressful feeling. Whew. 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Kampot and ostres beach Cambodia 12/16

My time in Cambodia is unfortunately short. After two nights in Phom penh I took a 4 hrs bus, accidentally the long way to Kampot. Could have done it in two hrs, if I researched the bus companies better. 

Kampot is a chill place, nearby a beach town. I booked at a 10/10 rating "Eco" place. The highest I have ever seen. Chill place with "healthy" food. I was stoked. They had some good food options but nowhere close to what I am use to cooking or ordering back home. I so miss cooking and eating heathy. I have gained weight and look forward to going home to straighten myself out. 

The setting was nice and quiet but 4km out of the sleepy like town with not a whole lot to do. This was fine for me because I was down to relax. Met some cool people at my hostel and that's where I spent Xmas eve and morning. No major party or activity which was fine by me as I was never a Xmas person. 
Two nights later and two hr mini van I ended at Otres beach. But only for one night. I heard about a hill hostel by the beach. It's a total backpacker spot and I really enjoyed the chill vibe. No big buildings, no resorts.

 Sadly I learned that the Chinese might have bought up the area and I gather in two years only the rich will afford to be here and probably ruin the beach with over development. No one seems to learn from others mistakes not care. 

I keep meeting cool people and it's nice to have dinner with people, learn about their country and travels. So many Australians and British I end up chatting with in Vietnam and Cambodia. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Boarder Cross to Phnom Penh Cambodia & killing fields 12/16

7am bus for a 7 hrs ride, crossing the boarder  to Phnom Penh in Cambodia wasn't too bad. though I think I might have been ripped off with the visa price by $5. Welcome to corruption; though it's not only in Asia. 

I was surprised how relatively clean the city was compared to Saigon. And I was shocked with all the new development, mainly tall glass skyscrapers. I ran around the city to get money, apparently US dollars is preferred, which is odd and to see a doc for the toe. Saw penh hill and the Buddha site and ending the evening with a Quick, cheap 1 hr River boat ride to see the city landscape and slums across from it. 

Next day the big highlight was the prison S21 and killing fields. I knew it was going to be intense and glad I visited and learned about this dark history even on Xmas eve. This is what I have gathered and it probably is not 100% accurate and of course has some holes. 

The US in the 60s bombed parts of Cambodia (who was neutral) as part of a strategy against Vietnam. We also bombed parts of Laos, where people still suffer from loosing their limbs if they come across a weapon that didn't explode then. 

From 1975-79, just two weeks before Vietnam won the war, an idealist communist, Pol Plot, unleashed hell to his own Cambodian people. After tricking and betraying them in to following him, Khmer Rouge overtook phnom phen. 

Evacuated millions, walking for months without supplies in the heat, to neighboring towns that became slave camps. They worked 14 hrs a day in pior conditions to increase rice production to sell to China in exchange for guns. 

Those too weak to walk were shot. Those educated and skilled were taken to a prison detention, formerly a highschool. Through torture techniques people admitted to being a spy because that's what the soldiers, made up of brainwashed village teenagers, wanted to hear. From weeks up to 6 months of torture. Their families were taken to avoid revenge seekers. 

After false admission, their skulls were bashed to spare precious bullets. Babies were bashed against what's known as the killing tree. Sometimes tossed in the air and shot at. In front of their moms, who were sometimes rapped before their death. All tossed in to a mass grave pit. 

This killing field is one of 300 plus. It had the most deaths of about 20,000. Later a memorial was built to house the skulls and some bones that were found. 

Plot became paranoid and killed his own guards and their families. Attacked Vietnam because he bought they were going to attack. Vietnam attacked back and won; freeing what was left of the people. About 2 million died over 4 years. 

For twenty years, plot with a dedicated army lived in the jungle and ran freely. The Cold War still gave him power. He never paid for his crimes; he died at 73. After the Cold War, the king came back to establish a new government in the early 90s. Some top soldiers are still at international courts. 

The country is still poor and struggles to overcome the obstacles from the aftermath. Education is lacking. And sex trade is the new terror, even among the young. It just blows my mind how sick people are and how much people can suffer. There seems no end for this country. 

Why is there a demand for watching kids in sexual situations? The trauma caused by this and the continue domino effect from any of these terrible actions is countless and seems endless. Why can't we solve these evils that we know exist? 

Pix link to S21 prison and killing fields

Monday, December 26, 2016

Saigon - Ho Chi Min City & Phu Quoc - Vietnam

 After the dark cave tour and in mui ne, I stubbed the same pinky toe twice. We cleaned it up and put a bandaid with ointment on it. I know wounds need to breathe so I removed the bandaid for the 5 hrs bus ride to Saigon, now named Ho Chi Min. 

Saigon is the capital; very busy and dirty. We walked to our hostel, which we later realized was a full blown party hostel. Staff comes to our room to give us shots of something. We get a free beer and they inform us of their pub crawl. I was too tired to drink. We had a nice dinner and met up with some other travellers.  

When I got home my toe didn't look right. I put peroxide on it and went to sleep. Friends gave me suggestions via a fb post and the next two days I went to some pharmacies to load up. Didn't find everything but an antibiotic cream and decided to take antibiotics because it was infected. 

 I still managed to go to the war musuem which was an interesting experience. They blame US for everything but never mentioned the war had started amongst themselves. But I don't think we should have entered this war. 

The photos of the long term birth effects of agent orange was horrible and interesting to learn Monsanto was one of the manufacturing companies. And we let them manage our food back home. We are so twisted, even to ourselves. 

Visiting the Chuchi tunnels is a must but later I learned I went to the tourist version. Pretty much didn't learn a anything, saw a documentary that was ancient and not understandable and saw some cheesy displays. For those small framed, we were able to go through some of the tiny tunnels. I don't think this site was real though. I also got mega ripped off by booking the tour with the hostel. Keep on learning. 

The tunnels is pretty much how the Viet Cong (who sided with the north but were located in the south) won in the south. Tunnels spanned across five villages where thousands of people lived (and 200 were born) during the war and survived the US bombs. 

Our second night, Sarah and I got our own room next to party hostel. she had a flight back to London so I had my own room for a night to catch up on much needed sleep and then caught a flight to beautiful island of Phu Quoc. I wanted to chill, no more buses, no more walking, no more sights/tours. 
The south is super humid compared to the north; the beach didn't have much of a breeze but the water temperature wa a perfect escape never without the strong sun, the air is hot. I met some cool people at my hostel and stayed at the beach for 3 days. It's super hard to keep the baby toe clean, but every day it looks better. 

I can't believe I didn't tour the island at all. I literally stayed on a beach for days. I caught up on sleep too! On my way back to the big city I managed a doc appt to see if the toe had any puss to drain before I go to Cambodia the next day. The local doc who told me to stop the antibiotics. We all know you should never just stop that treatment, you need to run the full course. All I can do it try here. 

The next day, I saw an English doc in Phnom Penh, who advised to stop the antibiotics on day 5 instead of 7. He said the trend is to be on antibiotics for less. After reading up on them, I decided to stop. It does so much harm to your immune system, and I have an auto immune deficiency.  I loaded up on probiotics but can't tell if they are the real good ones. I've been feeling weird; Stopping the treatment was my Xmas present.