Freitag, 13. April 2012

The blues and what was this all about?

Wow, the past weeks, since we are back in freezing cold Germany, I have been unable to open this blog, write about the last days in BKK and close it officially. Nevertheless, this needs to be done and will at least get me back into the heat of BKK for the last time! ;-)
15th of Feb and after our 6hours delay we arrived at our last destination in BKK, the Khaosan Baan Thai. A cute, little family-owned Guesthouse, a 10 minute walk away from Khaosan Road in a nice area without too many tourists and hostels around. We directly went out to do our last shopping activities, went to (great recommendation from our GH owner) a huge Thai Shopping mall to look for those Thai mattresses and cushions (bought two 2-parts triangle ones, two normal cushions and one bast fibre mat for 30 Euro! What a bargain when you realize that ONE of these 2-parts triangle mattresses cost around 45 Euro in back home) and did some shopping on Khao San.... I am really having trouble in thinking that these are my last days on this trip.... It feels so normal to be here...

16th of Feb and we got up early to go on our last booked trip. With Green Mango travels we went on a cool trip outside of BKK. Driven with a private car to a wonderful local food market, we continued via ferry to a train station where we hopped on to the train to the famous Maeklong station. You ride on the train directly into a small town/into a market. They -kind of- open the market for the train to pass through and then right afterwards they close it again with their paravents and umbrellas. Such a cool thing...

After this we took our private ride to go on a longtail boat trip into the Mangroves to feed some really aggressive Monkeys and went on to see the Mussels and Fish Farms. We stopped for a delicious dinner and took our ride back to BKK. At night we went into Soi Rambuttri for the last time and I actually felt like crying when for the last time we ordered our Chang Beer and Thai food.... ;-(

Back in the Hotel we packed our stuff for the last time....
17th and our last travel day....We managed to stuff all of our packs and souvenirs in the taxi, did not have any problems at check-in and left Asia around 12.30 pm Bangkok airport for Istanbul! To be honest, I did not feel like leaving at all... actually crying on the plane and getting nasty comments from Jens... I was not looking forward to going back into every day routines at all. For almost a year this trip was all I could think about, all the planning, the looking forward to it, to rescheduling, booking, the great contacts I have had in advance.... all was supposed to be over?? The 10,5 hours flight to Istanbul went by really quickly thanks to Inflight Entertainment and in Istanbul we only had to wait for a couple of hours to catch the plane to Frankfurt. Once arrived there it only took 5 minutes after arrival to be annoyed.... where in the whole wide World do they charge you 2 Euros for a trolley??? Who on Earth coming from an international flight has Euro coins with him?!? I could have jumped on the next plane back and leave.... But I had to face the truth and get our rented car. At 3am in the morning we finally arrived back home and went to bed straight away to sleep until late in the morning....... our 6 weeks trip was over when I pressed start on the washing machine....
13th of April and like I said at the beginning of this post: It took me ages to summarize the last days of our trip. Being back in Germany was tough for me, less for Kjell as -even though he said he missed Thailand and the sun- he was really happy to be back with his friends and the structure in his life. Work has started as well and all is running in normal mode again. But things have changed .... We have had the chance to look at us, our lifestyle, our way of living.... I am glad to see that Jens and I still look into the same direction. I am happy to see that our kid is stable, motivated and was inspired by this trip. We have by far not seen much poverty, this trip included tourist places and not really "the other side of paradise's medal" but nevertheless we saw what it was like to travel for six weeks on a budget and only with a 60 litre backpack. We ate differently (I really lost a good amount of weight), we discussed things, we taught Kjell a lot about poverty, environmental protection... and we took all of this back to Germany in our minds and hearts. This trip was not only about getting a nice tan and swimming in the blue sea... this trip definitely changed us and our attitudes towards a lot of things in life! The future will show the consistency of it.... but as I already have some crazy new ideas in my head I am sure a new blog will be born in a short while.... ;-)
Kjell this blog was for you ! We love you more than you can imagine and I hope that this trip will stay as unforgettabe for you as it will for us !

But I hope the rest enjoyed reading it as well... ;-)

Donnerstag, 15. März 2012

Of Islands, sun and a beautiful sea.....

6th of March and today we went on a great Kayaking tour into the Mangrove Woods. We were picked up and taken to a Fish Farm where we hopped into our Tri Yak. Unfortunately our Guide did not speak any English and therefore we did not get many explanations but the Kayaking was just great. We went to "Monkey Island" where when seeing us approach in our Kayaks a bunch of Maquaque monkeys came out of the Forest to jump on the boats and us to be fed with pineapple that we had brought with us. Such a cool bunch of Monkeys. They were not as rude as the Temple Monkeys in India and ripping the food out of your hands. Cool moments for all of us.. One of them stole one of Kjell's Chiang Mai slippers though... gladly enough we had a second pair with us... after this we went directly into the Mangrove Woods and it was a unique moment to slide through this amazing Jungle-like place on Earth. We saw Fiddler crabs and - one of my new favorite animals - Mudskipper! After lunch we went back to the Hotel and Kjell proudly became owner of his own Thai Boogie board that another German family had left with us. You can guess how much fun Surfer boy had jumping into the waves...;-))

7th of March and today we rented a scooter to explore the island. It was incredibly hot and we were glad to enjoy the Fahrtwind. Kjell was sitting in the front row and felt like a scooter driver himself. We took a great ride along the Island of Koh Lanta, drove to Old Lanta and afterwards did some shopping in Baan Sala Deng the main town on Koh Lanta. We just made it in time to get back to our place before a major rainstorm broke down. Swimming in the pool while the rain was pouring down was just awesome...

8th of March and we took our scooter for final shopping activities buying a chinese lantern to light upmat night on the beach. We spent the rest of the day beaching and Jens had his first Thai Massage directly on the beach... I followed him and was enjoying myself so much with the wind in my hair and the waves splashing on the shore. Life can be so wonderful.  At night it started pouring again and we left the beach restaurant in the middle of two major showers.... we took Kjell to bed and packed our bags for the next morning... For a couple of hours we did not have any electricity and around Midnight the rain was gone for a couple of minutes and Jens and I rushed to the beach to light up our Chinese lantern.... The start was really easy unlike the lanterns that we lid at a Wedding of our friends ;-) but when the lantern rose up to the sky during this very romantic moment it started raining again and the lantern's situation got really bad... we saw it rising and slowly going up into flames.. really dramatic and somehow beautiful. We decided that this was even more good luck to our family than anything else...;-)))))

9th of March and we had to say GoodBye to this wonderful spot... I wonder if Koh Yao Noi can put up with this place! We were picked up in the morning to drive by Minibus and Ferry to Krabi where we switched into a taxi to be driven out to Thalen Pier. I thought it was just a few minutes ride but it turned out to be almost an hour to get to the pier. The driver, an old man, was very  careful with his pick-up, driving with maximum 40 km/h. It was a kind of de-accelleration - a first taste of Koh Yao Noi. We hopped onto a speed boat and after a half an hour drive got to Koh Yao Noi! Thanks to the fabulous advise of an old colleague (thanks Gesine! ;-)) we checked into Lom'Lae Resort and were not disappointed at all. Currently I am sitting under a huge tree in a hammock directly on the beach while Jens and Kjell check out the sandbanks during low tide for crabs and other fishy creatures. This place is completely different to the luxury at the Long Beach but not an inch less beautiful and relaxing. I feel like Birgitson Crusoe... ;-))) Our bungalow is with view to the Rice field and 2 minutes from the beach. The food is very tasty so far although the prices for almost everything really are much higher than at other places. (i.e. Thai Oil massage in BKK 250 b, Koh Lanta 350 b and Koh Yao Noi 650 b). We have asked to change to one of the bungalows with sea view as there seem to be a little more air from the sea breezing into the appartment. I already love this spot and our kid is perfectly happy again. Looking forward to a good swim tomorrow in the morning time when tide is high!

10th of Feb and after a chocolate pancake breakfast we went to our perfect private beach for a swim. The tide was high and the water warm and blue! We sat in the hammocks with our butts in the water... Kjell spent the day in the water, so did we. Again towards the evening we had some warm showers that did not really bother us. Although our rice field bungalow with our personal water buffalo (we named him KlongKlong due to the wodden  bell that was hanging around his neck) was really nice we decided to move into the family bungalow a few metres from the beach and with way more space the next morning.

11th of Feb, we moved, felt great on the huge porch with hammock and sea view as well... we rented a scooter and went to discover the small Island. Within a rough 45 minutes you could have actually surrounded this Island that we really fell in love with. Some few travellers but mostly friendly and mainly muslim influenced locals. We went to this recommended spot 'Sunset restaurant' for some rice and chicken and I tried there infamous 'Fried green papaya salad' - yummmmmieee! This place, located directly on the shore of the sea, was run by a friendly Thai family and while we were enjoying our meals, their kids and friends where taking a swim right beside us. We really enjoyed... This place was good for another sad reason as well. Due to the tides all the ugly dirt from the sea was swept on the shore and directly at the entrance of the restaurant and due to the incoming tide you could see the incredible amount of waste swimming in the sea. Plastic bottles, bags, .... in a countless number and I felt that this visual environmental pollution really had an impact on Kjell as he kept on staring at it for quite a while.  At night it was raining again but nevertheless the heat did not go down... we had a goodnight's sleep until I awoke due to some 'mousy' noises.... Jens did not bother and I would not have either as the bungalows are in plain nature with open bathrooms but they kept on making these nagging noises and somehow I just thought they might fall over me or eat up all of my clothes like one of my bathing suits was badly damaged in KhaoSok. I survived... ;-)

12th of Feb and unfortunately for a couple of hours we were not able to swim at the sea due to a colony of itching jellyfish. So Kjell and I had this brilliant idea to start the day with a good activity. We got a huge plastic bag from the Hotel and went down our beach to collect all the waste that came in with the tide during the night. It was nice to see how engaged Kjell was, commenting on every single plastic piece, every bottle, every rope,... that he collected. We had really good discussions on how difficult it is to avoid plastic in our life but that every single person can do its best to make this environmental waste situation better. I told him that Germany already is one of the leading countries by i.e. seperating waste into categories but that other countries are not even aware of the waste they are producing. While we were collecting and our bags was filled not only by us but also by other Hotel guests Kjell learnt something even more important: He went onto the beach area of a neighboring hotel and when the staff saw him collecting the waste they started collecting as well... Kjell realized that if one is doing something good, others will follow. For one tide, we actually had the feeling that we had done something really good to this beautiful world!  After this action the mean jellyfish obviously were thankfull to us and left the beach for us to swim... ;-)

13th of Feb and what a great day to finish our stay on Koh Yai Noi! With two more couples we had chartered a longtail boat and driver to take us down to some cute little Islands with nice beaches where we could swim and enjoy our lunch. We went to some cool diving spots where Kjell for the first time did some snorkeling. It went really great with the paddles and snorkle except that the masks were just too big and water kept on coming into his eyes. We saw a big blowfish and a small 'Nemo' as well as other unknown fish and sea urchins... a wonderful day indeed! During the night we had mice visits again but not as bad as in the first night.

14th of Feb and we left Koh Yao Noi via ferry to get to Thalen pier. We were actually expecting taxis to pick us up and drive us to Krabi bus station but none were there... it took some time to arrange a taxi and we were lucky that a women just took us to the bus station for little money. Half an hour later we got on the A/Cbus to Surat Thani and after a quick 4 hours ride got to Surat Thani and the train station. The train was delayed for 30 minutes but all went perfect at the end. Jens enjoyed his first train ride in Thailand and slept like a baby.. ;-) With a delay of 6 hours (from 2 am to 5.30 am we just didn't move) we finally arrived at BKK Hualamphong station around noon on the 15th....

Montag, 5. März 2012

About bats, monitor lizards and newly discovered paradises...

28th of Feb and in the dark we arrived at Baan Khao Sok, our Jungle Resort!  I  booked a Tree House for us and Kjell was excited to see that it was in the middle of the Jungle really up in the trees! The room itself was closed up and only furnished with a King Size bed and a small table and chairs. Unfortunately no shelves to unpack the bags... the bathroom was special as it was partly open on the roof and two major trees went right through it from the bottom to the top... We had a quick Dinner with just candle lights around us as power had gone out for some hours. When we came back we found small poo in the bathroom and during the night figured out what living in the Jungle really meant: We had our own bathroom bat and -figured out in the morning when showering- a 60cm Monitor Lizard cuddled underneath a transparent foil. Well, that is what Jungle life is supposed to mean!! Nevertheless! I was glad that we did not have such animals in our bedroom though. Kjell drew and cut out a paper bat that we hang under the bathroom roof in order to confuse our bat but that action did not really impress it much... after a couple of hours our intention was discovered ....

29th of Feb and after a good breakfast we decided to go and check out the real Jungle at Khao Sok National Parc. Khao Sok itself is just a one street 'town' with several GH and Hotels along the streets. One can tell that within a few years this place will also be spoiled by loud and noisy tourists ruining the place partying and giving a damn about Nature.... We paid 500 baht entry fee and went out for a 2,5 km walk in the heat of the day. Jens was extremely suffering from the heat, hardly being able to breathe. The humidity in this region is really high and just moving slowly brings you to sweat like you just ran a marathon. We got to a small waterhole where Kjell and I went out for a swim while Jens caught his first leech! Luckily, it has not started to suck blood therefore he could remove it easily.... The mood went down to Zero...;-( The result of that trip was an exhausted husband, blisters from my sneakers, one leech bite and an unsatisfied kid that wanted to climb on rocks and jump off waterfalls.... Dinner afterwards cheered us up while we were still eating  Kjell went down to the small river to build a dam with the local kids. He was happy afterall... For the night we had  booked a Night Safari. We had our own Guide and it turned out to be pretty cool: We saw three snakes (green vipers and a mangrove snake, both poisonous), huge spiders (golden orb spider), a slow loris just eating a huge grasshopper,  a crab living in a bamboo trunk, chamaeleons, a scorpion and many other cool animals.... Towards the end of the two hour trip, Kjell decided that he was way too tired to move any further and started crying like a wild monkey. The rest of the tour was a drag and we were all happy to be back at our tree house with bat and monitor lizard.... As I undressed, one leech full with blood fell out of my pants and on the other foot another leech still kept on sucking my blood! We sprayed Mosquito spray on it and it could easily be removed... I was dripping blood for two hours. No pain, no itching.

1st of March and we just did not do anything... relaxing at our place and looking at the monkeys in our Garden.

2nd of March we were picked up early to go on a whole day lake tour! The start was quite horrible for Jens as during the one hour drive to the Lake he felt really sick.. Fortunately my travel sickness pills helped and he was better after a while. The trip was cool, we drove by longtail boat for 1,5 hours on the cristal blue lake (that in fact is a dam) and stopped for a fantastic Thai lunch break and an even better swim in the pee-warm lake. We then took a bamboo raft to a small cave. To be honest, no caves can impress us any more and Kjell keeps on dreaming of the "Blue Lagoon" cave in Vang Vieng. That definitely cannot be topped... Nevertheless, we had a great day, though Jens definitely takes more time getting used to the climate than I was hoping. Packing our packs and looking forward to move on the beach parts of our trip.. ;-)

3rd of March and in the morning we left with a public bus for 490 baht (all 3 of us) for Phuket. After 4 hours we arrived in the Old Centre of Phuket and after a 10 minute walk arrived at our Hotel Rattana Mansion. Nothing special but clean and with A/C and an extra bed for Kjell. Jens felt sick again and so Kjell and I went out for Dinner to grab some Thai style burgers. As I had forgotten my Converse chucks in Khao Sok I bought some fake Converse sneakers for 5 Euro. ;-) Phuket is stuffed with Russians and I am glad that this is just a quick stopover....

4th of March we were picked up to get the ferry to Koh Lanta via Koh PhiPhi.

4 hours later we arrived on Swedish domained Koh Lanta. The pick up from the Hotel was excellent and we ended up in the most perfect and beautiful place... Long Beach Chalet! It is not the cheapest but definitely worth the money... A wonderful wooden bungalow, just newly built in 2011, extremly clean and huge, A/C, an open bathroom but no bugs, bats or lizards in it. We are directly in front of a nice pool that Kjell jumped in 5 minutes after arrival. The Restaurant "The Three Mums" serves great food and we feel like in heaven! The beautiful beach is only a three minutes walk away.

Unfortunately, it is only shallow at some small part and then goes down pretty quick. I will have to get used to that... though people told us that this might change according to the weather. Kjell prefers the pool. We will see tomorrow.... at night we had some major rain and thunderstorm which was sooo cool as underneath our bungalow we have a sitting area with a hammock and cosy pillows. We played cards until Kjell fell asleep and we finally had some parents' time to enjoy and drink some Chang beer and cocktails. We love this place !!!

5th of March and we just had a perfect good nights sleep until late in the morning. We enjoyed breakfast that for once is included in the price. ;-) The rest of the day we spent in the pool. Kjell will turn into a fish, I am sure about that!

In the afternoon we had spring rolls and a chocolate pancake at one of the cool beach bars, took a swim in the sea (after the rain yesterday the beach actually changed and we had sandbanks to swim to and feel safe as well as the less "rough" sea with less waves. We enjoyed our watermelon and mango juices and felt sooooo relaxed!! The beach bar was special, its furniture made of waste (lamps of old lighters and music tapes, chairs made of stranded goods, the bar guy was a typical lady boy and the bar dog only had three legs....). Tomorrow,  we will start to explore the Island and right now I am looking forward to the 3 courses menu at the "Three Mums" tonite....;-)))) Life is wonderful and we are all enjoying each other so much.....

Mittwoch, 29. Februar 2012

A Fairy Tooth in Bangkok and being Three again!

26th of Feb and early in the morning we flew back from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. Nuy and the dogs waved us GoodBye and Nuy really was very excited about the Flower arrangement she got from Kjell (he saw it at the Night Market where a man was creating all kinds of nice things likeflowers, hats,.. from Palm leaves). We landed as planned half an hour before Jens did and we were both really psyched to see him again! Kjell was holding up a paper that said "Daddy Jens" written in Thai on it and people asked us whether Kjell knew Thai... ;-) Finally the family was reunited again and we drove into Bangkok to check into the Rambuttri Village, from my point of view the worst one so far. Next to Lamphu House but much bigger and the rooms were not as clean as the previous ones. Nevertheless, it had one big plus: a swimming pool on the roof!!! We spend the rest of the day at the pool, swimming while Jens took a nap and got used to the heat shock! 

27th of Feb was a lazy day at the pool and an introduction of Jens to Khao San crazyness as well as TukTuk driving to Hualamphong train station to get our tickets from Surat Thani to Bangkok ( our final trip at the end of our journey). In the afternoon Kjell came up with a huge surprise by loosing - halfway unexpected- his left front tooth.... He was so proud and I suddenly realized that we would never see his lovely tooth gap again. To celebrate this, I went out for a perfect Thai Massage and was supposed to meet up with The guys at the Fish Spa (something that Kjell wanted to show Jens so badly). When we met Kjell had this really strange grin on face and I suddenly knew what was about to come: That actually expected-to-fall-out right front tooth was gone as well!! I could not believe my eyes !!! Now his gap is huge and he started even to lispen. At night we went out for a nice dinner to celebrate this event! Kjell had Icecream and Jens his first Thai food (pheww, which he actually liked!) Guess what... they even have a Tooth  Fairy in Thailand!! :-)))

28th of Feb and we left hot and sticky Bangkok to get down to the South of Thailand! Via Air Asia we flew to Surat Thani and after a one hour delay were picked up by a driver to drive 1,5 hour to Khao Sok National Parc. 

Samstag, 25. Februar 2012

Final days in Chiang Mai ... Jungle trips, mystic temples and baby tigers...

23rd of Feb and after that great Elephant day yesterday, we decided to go out into the Jungle to visit some Waterfalls and temples together with David and the Dogs! We hired a taxi for a couple of hours and it was cool to go with someone who really knows the surroundings pretty well! The Dogs and Kjell went on an adventure trip through the Jungle and from time to time Mutley obviously smelled snakes and other wild animals... unfortunately we did not get to see any. We took a swim under a waterfall and my kid was happy to swim with the Dogs. Afterwards, we went to see some hidden Wat, beautifully arranged in an old Garden along a small river. David took Kjell for a prayer and I loved to watch him enjoying it. When he came out of the temple he just had this peaceful smile again...

24th of Feb was my favorite day so far! As I am neither a bad nor a good cook but just not a cook at all, I decided that in Asia I was going to attend a cooking class! As Kjell wanted to join as well we signed up for a class recommended by Nuy. Picked up in the morning, we directly drove with a small group of people to the Market where we bought fresh ingredients for our dishes. We were welcomed by Nancy, the owner of Siam Rice Cooking School and started straight away.... It was soooo much fun and Kjell and I just had a great time, him cutting everything in small pieces, listening carefully to the instructions and me cooking, boiling and tasting the rest! I could hardly believe that what I was eating and what just tasted delicious was actually made by me! Kjell even ate the Coconut/Chicken Soup as well as the Spring Rolls. And I mean ATE not just tasted! Really that was a true highlight!! After 4 dishes we were stuffed like a Turkey!! ;-) At night we went to see the famous Wat Phra Sing, a very beautiful Temple in Chiang Mai. Not to talk about our almost daily rite of praying...


25th of Feb and today I was in a moral conflict... We went to see Tiger Kingdom and if it had not been for Kjell I would not have gone there... It really is a very nice, clean, safe and well organised place where one gets the chance to actually touch and play with tigers in all sizes. Yes, you will probably only do this once in a lifetime and touching baby tigers and playing with them really was fantastic but I still don't feel convinced that this was a good idea. Kjell was completely excited... The question is: What weighs more? Having less tigers running around freely or more tigers according to breeding programs in Zoos, Conservation Farms,... but having the feeling that they are not " real" anymore? I like the idea and support breeding quotes but to what extend and price? I think Tiger Kingdom is a good idea but the concept should be more focussed on the tigers than the tourists and that would probably attract even more tourists... Nevertheless, it was exceptional and Kjell enjoyed it!
At night we went to the beautiful Saturday night market and bought some cute souvenirs, drank Sugarcane And Herbal Juices and enjoyed our last night in the North of Thailand! Tomorrow we will get up early and leave for the Airport flying to Bangkok where we will meet up with Jens! I have had a great time with Kjell, even much better and with less annyoing, stressing moments than I thought! Kjell is a perfect travel mate and already suggested we should do this again! But even though we met people during our trip, I am looking forward to my husband very very much! As well as Kjell who spoke about Daddy a lot in the past days!

Freitag, 24. Februar 2012

Chiang Mai, Thilassou, Noi and sore legs from Elephant riding !

20th of Feb and after a quick 3/4 hour flight we are back in Thailand again and ended up in the North in Chiang Mai, Thailand's second biggest city! A driver from Funky Monkey GH picked us up and after a 30 min into the Old Centre of the town we were welcomed at Funky Monkey Guesthouse by Nuy and her British husband David! Kjell felt at home straight away as they have fish as well as two sweet dogs, Mutley and Fat Dog. They all became best friends straight away. David and Nuy are just great hosts. The room is incredibly spacious and hooorray for Kjell: they do have Kid's TV. We just relaxed, discussed a few options on what to do the next days, went out for a nice Dinner at the Tiger Kingdom Restaurant and went to sleep early!

21st of Feb and we just went discovering the Centre of Chiang Mai and went for a swim in one of the Hotels that David recommended to us! After an hour of diving and swimming it came to an aprupt end as Kjell cut his toe really bad. We didn't do much for the rest of the day and just relaxed in the GH, having Dinner there as Nuy is a brilliant cook!

22nd of Feb and this was a very special day... we got up at 6.30, had a big breakfast and were then picked up by a taxi to drive a 45 min trip into the Mountains to the Patara Elephant Farm. I had picked this Elephant experience really cautiously and according to Tripadvisor this was supposed to be really awesome.... It was!! We were introduced to the owner, his philosophy and vision, the staff of several experienced Mahouts and - the Elephants! Patara exists for 10 years now and since then they had no death but 5 births to be announced! The latest elephant girl born was only 2 months old and she was strolling around us all the time and blowing her trunk like an old one when she had lost sight of her mother. So sweet, so funny, so great! I wasn't sure whether Kjell was going to be ready to ride his own Elephant and go along with the Mahout or just share one Elephant with me.... But there wasn't even the question of it! They say at Patara that they try to choose the Elephant according to the person and therefore he got this "small" Girl Elephant Thilassou (meaning Waterfall) and was quickly best friend with her and the Mahout Tip. I only looked after him once or twice and could then completely concentrate on my pregnant Elephant Noi (little) and Mahout Lai. We started by learning the health check of an Elephant including a close examination of the poo...;-) Several times we took Thilassou as example and therefore Kjell was upfront most of the time with the Owner Pat talking to the other guests. He wasn't shy at all and afterall the first to climb on his Elephant! We went to take them for a cleaning bath, scrubbed them and splashed them with water! You could really tell they were enjoying us... The whole time pics and videos were taken of us and we did not have to worry about cameras and good shots. After feeding and getting to know them, health checking and bathing them we went for a ride through the Jungle! I have to admit that at the beginning I really felt incredibly uncomfortable as the Elephant was moving his head pretty often, trying to grab bamboo sticks and leaves... but after a while I got used to it and will never forget this American guy in front of me who really had to struggle hard with his stubborn Elephant and her active baby Elephant! We had excellent food on huge banana leaves and went for bathing together with the Elephants besides the Waterfalls! That was such a fun thing thing as the Elephants kept on splashing us with water.. Kjell was out of his mind for joy! We rode back and could not believe that we had already spent 9 hours at the Farm! We got the chance to say Goodbye to our Elephants and somehow this was a very close and intimate moment! I will never ever forget these sane, clear, interested eyes looking straight into my heart! Kjell told me he had felt the same... On our way back, Kjell fell asleep straight away .... At night he stated that this was the best day in his whole life! Again and again he kept on repeating "Mom, I really rode an Elephant!"...

Montag, 20. Februar 2012

Buddha Caves and Waterfalls ..... how to make my kid happy

...17th of Feb and we finished the day by going to a place I had already planned to go to while being in Germany. We went to visit Big Brother Mouse, an institution that takes care of publishing books in English and Lao language to get the Lao people to learn and to read their language. You can volunteer every day and give English lessons, organize a book party and lots of other interesting stuff to support the Lao people. We actually bought two English/Lao books for ourselves and left three further books with the staff to be distributed in the villages. Kjell couldn't hardly believe that there were kids that won't start going to School at the age of 6 and he was curious to find out more about it and felt proud to have supported this organization.

18th of Feb, and we got up at 5 am to drive uptown with Philipp, the Swiss owner, his son, his wife and some further guests to the so-called Monk's ceremony. This were the most reverent moments of my life and I am very happy that they shared this special moments with tourists like us. Every morning the Monks and Novices from the surrounding neighbourhood Wats line up in groups and rows to ask the people for any kinds of donations, running from sticky rice to sweets and money... we drove to their favorite spot in front of a Wat, went inside for a prayer, then rolled out our blankets, filled the sweets and cookies in bowls and waited for the Monks to arrive. They always walk by in smaller or larger groups with the "Chef" Monk (usually the Oldest one) leading them.We learnt that the "Student" Monks only had one shoulder covered with the robe and that around the age of 18 they would decide whether they'd leave the Wat and go back into a normal life or choose the Monk's life... we learnt so much that I could write a few more pages.... what an impressive way to start a day. Kjell as well was very moved and touched, so many of them smiled at him when receiving the treats.

We stayed uptown and had some French breakfast. At 8.30 we were taken down to the Mekong's pier to catch one of the 6p-speedboats and went off for 1,5 hours trip upstream the Mekong. What a nice trip on the water. We saw Elephants bathing with their Mahouts, we actually saw Monks "tubing" and went for a short stop at some Hmong Village to get some souvenirs and to try the Lao Rice Whiskey. I actually did not get the chance to try any as Kjell fell of the small wooden pier directly into a 20cm deep mud pile. I spent the time cleaning up my kid and laughing at him.. ;-). Next stop was the infamous Pak Ou Cave that is recommended in every guide book and for the first time -probably spoiled after the adventurous caving in VangVieng - we were really disappointed. A small cave filled with hundreds of dirty Buddahs in every size, packed with tourists... Kjell brought his torchlight for nothing. No climbing allowed at all. After 35 minutes we went back... conclusion: For Buddhists this sure is a Must see as their is a holy reason for the Buddahs being placed by hundreds in the cave but for Westener tourists only the Mekong trip itself is a great experience. The cave can be left out.... Kjell fell asleep on my lap on our way back.. ;-)

At night we went out to the famous and beautiful nighmarket to get some small souvenirs from the traditional local vendors and had some awesome Pad Thai (noodles) and Crepes.

19th of Feb and again we woke up early by the Monk's enchanting singing... I wouldn't survive this uninflected singsong in Germany but here it somehow fits so well in daily life and speed. While having breakfast on the porch and looking over the River I asked Kjell whether he senses that I am different or have changed: "You are much more relaxed and calm", he said straight away. LuangPrabang really slows down my heartbeat and breath... I love this place!!
We packed up our bathing stuff and went out with other guests to the KuangSi Waterfalls outside LP. I am so glad we showed up at 9 am already. Therefore we were almost the first ones to arrive and had the place with its several hidden Waterfalls and swimming spots just for ourselves. Wow, I felt like Brooke Shields in the 'Blue Lagoon' except that my Christopher Atkins was 5years old and -well- behaving like a kid. ;-)

We climbed up some crazy natural stairway to the top of the source of the Waterfall, hiked throught the Jungle and all in all had a wonderful last day in Laos! At night we went again uptown, crossed the night market and went out for a fancy byebye dinner!

20th of Feb and Philipp, the owner was so kind to take me with his Jeep to a little shop selling Lao flags for our Hasitanic ship back home! Some hours later we finally left for the Airport. Incredibly enough, the whole family went with us to say Good Bye. We got hugs and kisses and Lai, his wife even tied small bracelets around our wrists to bring us luck. How sweet they were... Chiang Mai will really need to catch up with this beautiful place!!!...