Thursday, 9 December 2010

Lopburi - playing/fighting with the monkeys

At the evening of 02.12. I arrived in Lopburi and met an english couple on the way. Later I picked up Rose from the trainstation and we went to Lopburi festival which offered quite a big market :)
Already at night we could get a glimpse of some ruins and saw a few monkeys. But most was to be discovered the next day.
We were lucky that because of the upcoming King's birthday all admission fees were screwed and entry was free :D After some good breakfast we visited Prang Khaek, Wat Sao Thong Thong, Chao Phraya Wichayen and the Phra Narai Ratchaniwet palace.
After enjoying the atmosphere at this places we went to monkey's part of the town to Wat Nakhon Kosa, which unluckily no-one takes care of anymore. And furthermore to the real monkey havens at San Phra Kan and Prang Sam Yot. At the latter we were feeding the monkeys which turned into a fight :P Unbelievable, but the monkeys conquered whole hotels and the streets around this area are theirs. People try to fight them with long poles and catapults because the monkeys are everywhere. And if the think you have food somewhere, they will come after you :P That was a lot of fun^^
Later we enjoyed sunset from Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat.
The next day we went back to BKK with memories of many monkeys, haha^^
And 2 days later (the night between 5. and 6.12.) I had my flight back to Germany.

Phra Narai Ratchaniwet palace

Feeding the monkeys

And playing with them^^

Simply too many!

Little Casanova :P

Who is it?

Sunset at Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat

Monkeys rule the streets here!

Phrae - off the tourist track, small but charming

My train from Chiang Mai arrived at Den Chai with a usual Thai-railway-delay at 7:30pm. Unluckily the first I was told that no buses are running to Phrae at this time anymore :(
But I was very lucky as the ticket officer of the trainstation called his friend, then called me on the back of his Vespa and drove me to the next gas-station where his friend was waiting with a pickup giving me a ride to Phrae :D That is the friendly charm you meet at places where not many tourists are around :)
The next day I explored the small city. During my time in Phrae I saw 3 other tourists, which is nothing in Thailand^^
I started with breakfast at the small morning market and then visited the Vongburi house, the residence of the former king of Phrae. Furthermore I payed Wat Phong, Wat Phra Non, Wat Shusun, Wat Luang, Wat Phra Baht Ming Meuang and Wat Sa Bo Kaew a visit. Wherever I went, people recognized me with "oh! farang" before they greeted me with a friendly "sawadee kha/khrap" :)
After a few hours in town I made my way back to the railway station to catch a train towards Lopburi.

Wat Phong

Wat Shusun

Wat Luang

Wat Sa Bo Kaew - as you see now-a-days technology is higher than religion...

Chiang Mai

At the evening of 29.11. I arrived in Chiang Mai. My first impression was rather good. But overall I'm missing a bit of a profile of the town.
It is the second biggest city in Thailand, but it is no comparison to Bangkok. Chiang Mai's center is packed with tourists. Every are guesthouses, bars, restaurants, cooking school or outdoor adventure companies. Tho I stayed in a guesthouse with best value for money ever :D
On 30.11. I made my way through the city. Wat Chiang Man - the oldest, Chiang Mai city cultural center with the 3-kings-monument, Wat Phra Singh - the most famous, Wat Thung Yu, What Chail Phra Kiat, Wat Pan Tao - big teak building, until Wat Chedi Luang. On the latter I had a nice conversation with a 16 year old monk before heading for lunch and eastwards out of the old city.
East of the old city Burmese style temples were waiting. I found Wat Bupparam very beautiful. Then visiting the small Talat Tonlamyai (flower market) and the huge neighbored Talat Warorot which is the most famous market in town and sells anything from fresh food to textiles.
Then I made my way down the river towards the night market. Which is where I was able to find quite some nice souvenirs :P
The next day I took the 3pm train to Den Chai (Phrae)^^

Overall Chiang Mai did not really leave any special feeling for me. Shopping was great and the talk with the monk was fun.

Wat Chiang Man

Wat Phra Singh

Wat Chedi Luang

Wat Bupparam

Dogs "protecting" the entrance to Wat Bupparam :P

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Chiang Rai - chilling northern city and the stunning white temple

At the evening of 28.11. I arrived in Chiang Mai. I enjoyed some shopping at the great nightmarket before I went to sleep.
The next day I visited the city starting at Wat Jet Yot, further to the clock tower and seeing the morning market which was not really worth it. After the morning market I saw a parade on the streets. Looked like Students from University made up a big parade with mixed topics. One was the traditional Lanna culture. Other were worn-out topics like global warming, aids, drugs, etc.
After watching the parade I continued my way to Wat Phar Kaew, which houses some fine Buddhist sayings: "The most miserable act in ones life is jealousy", "One can maintain peace of mind is happy", "The most of suffer will build a stronger you". Unluckily most sayings were not translated... While pondering about the sayings on my way down I was suddenly shocked to the heart as a next to my foot a 1m long green snake rises and goes "ssssss!"... just before my heart stopped beating it turned around and made it way down the stairs where it came from, and I followed it slowly :P
After that shock I made my way to Wat Phra Singh and Wat Klang Wiang.
Then I checked out and caught a bus towards Wat Rong Khun - the white temple. And wow... it is by now the most beautiful and bizarre temple I have seen. In sparkling white it can shock you with some bizarre sculptures of hell. But most stunning were the paintings inside the temple: 11.09.2001 in the fangs of oil industry, more scenes of terrorism, sex trading and that mixed with spiderman, neo, batman, superman, transformers, star wars, saw and many more. Unluckily not allowed to take photos inside :(
After seeing the temple and the nearby galleries I flagged down the next bus and wanted to go to Chiang Mai... but unluckily the first bus just went until Mae Khachan, where I jumped on the real bus towards Chiang Mai^^

Clock tower


Wat Phra Kaew

Wat Klang Wiang

Wat Rong Khun - the white temple

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Luang Nam Tha - villages in a nice countryside

After a horrible bus ride (it must have been 5°C in the bus and the road conditions were gruel) I arrived in Luang Nam Tha 4am in the morning (27.11.). I just fall asleep at the bus station... but 1h later I took a tuktuk to Zuela guesthouse and I was lucky that someone opened the door and gave me a room. I was freezing and after some hours of sleep I woke up with fever... lucky me :P
Anyways... 1 pill and a hot soup later I jumped on a bicycle and went for tour around the town. The tour brought me from the museum to That Luang Nam Tha, placed on a hill. And from there through many small ethnic minority villages to That Phoum Pouk, located on another hill^^
I enjoyed the scenery around the villages and rice fields. It was harvesting time, so all the villagers were out to get in the crop and burn the leftovers. Kids playing at the river and farmers trashing the rice... the mountains in the background gave a nice ambience and the tiny villages and dirty road made the old countryside feel perfect :)
About 25km later I was back to Luang Nam Tha and enjoyed dinner at the night market.
The next morning I took a minibus to Huay Xai, which is located at the Mekong and serves as border town to Thailand. First I enjoyed the colourful Wat Chome Khaou Manirat and it's view over the town towards Thailand. After lunch I crossed the border to Chiang Khong, Thailand, from where I took the bus to Chiang Rai.

Luang Nam Tha Museum

That Luang Nam Tha

That Phoum Pouk

Harvesting time :D

Colourful Wat Chome Khaou Manirat, Huay Xai