2nd May,2009 to 26th May,2009
I have divided the blog of backpacking trip to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam into four parts. This is because the blog might become too long for the readers. I know that sometimes, I become too much expressive but this is the way I write my travel diary.
The route that I chose is very popular among the young backpackers and was very enjoyable; especially for a senior citizen like me. It was a treat to talk to the local people, to go to Buddhist Monasteries and sit there for sometime, to walk through the night bazars, to spend days in Hindu Temples of Siem Reap, to watch hundreds of mopeds crossing road junctions at the flick of green light and stop instantly at the red light, to watch huge crowd of people walking in a disciplined way, people doing morning and evening exercises in parks with loud music on directions of the trainer. I enjoyed the food of small shops in the food bazaar. It has become a habit for me to ask for the price or go through the menus of the different stalls and restaurants before choosing the one.
Backpacking in Thailand(North)
I am sitting in the Business Lounge of Thai Airlines. I left home at 9 am. Sudhanshu, Shashi and Pramod came to see me off. Nishi, CEO Talwar, Satish and Vikas came in CEO’s car. We met at Centaur Hotel and then drove together to the airport. There is a lot of improvement in the departure lounge but sitting area was still dirty. I tried to find ICICI Lombard Travel Insurance counter but there was none. Sudhanshu got my travel insurance in the morning. Check-in was fine and my rucksack weighed only 7kg. After I retired as the President IYHF in Cairo Conference and then returned via Dubai, I am travelling abroad almost after a year.
I just finished a cup of black coffee and ate a piece of croissant, which as usual is not of good quality.
I sat in the plane at about 11:15 am and the plane came near the tarmac at 11:30 am. Although we were 15 minutes before the time, due to air traffic we had to wait till 12 o’clock before taking off. Flight is smooth and as usual I took a short nap. Afterwards I watched some programme on Indian Music. I remembered complaining to Thai Airlines, may be some 4 years back, for not playing any Indian Music on Thai flights. They thanked me for the suggestion and even sent me a T-shirt. Listening to some Indian Music made me happy. For the lunch, I opted for Japanese. I had friend prawns(which were too large), Japanese rice and veggies.
I had some sleep, went to bathroom and later asked for a cup of tea. Then I read the book about Bangkok. I decided to go to Hua Lamphong Railway Station from the airport and find a guest house there so that I can take a train to Ayutthaya the next day.
8 pm Indian time/ 9:30 pm Thai time
I am in Room No. 26 now. The flight was on time. We got Suvarnabhumi Airport which is a new airport and started functioning about a year and a half ago. We got down from the plane through chute, took the bus for arrival area, went to first floor and then the immigration counter. They were fast and in no time I was in the baggage claim area. Our baggage came in belt no. 6. After coming out I got 100 US $ exchanged to Thai Bhat(THB).
This is a bigger airport than the previous one but there was no crowd, hence, not much impressive to me. There was a sign for airport bus no. AE4 which would take us to Hua Lamphong Railway Station. I asked some staff for public bus which was quite far from the bus station and everyone advised me to take this bus. This was a high a/c bus and the ticket was for 100B. We were only four passengers in a large bus. Bus was travelling at high speed on freeway, it came to habituated area and then to crowded one. It was 5:30 pm Indian time when we reached railway station which was the last stop.
The station was small but well lighted with an arch design on outside and few restaurants across the road. As I went inside it was full of people sitting on chairs. I went to the luggage counter on the left and asked the counter girl about the guest houses. She knew little English and told me to go outside across the road. I came out, crossed the road and asked a young man about Sri Hualamphong Hotel which was recommended by Lonely Planet book. He gave me the directions and it was near. It was a cheap guest house. At the reception, a man was watching television. He told me the rate as 250B for single and double occupancy. I tried to bargain but it didn’t work and he showed me the written rate card. He showed me two rooms, No.7 and 26, room no.26 was better so I took it.
The room has a double bed with clean linen and pillows, attached bathroom and shower, a fan, some utensils, a table, two plastic stools and a washbasin. The man brought a clean towel and some strips of soap. I took this and paid him the money. I asked for water and he brought 1.5ltr cold water bottle for 20B. I kept everything in the room and went out to explore nearby area.
I saw some young girls wearing jeans and carrying baskets hanged on both sides. Later I found that they were selling homemade liquor and snacks. I took some pictures. Nearby was a metro station. A young girl saluted me and I asked her about metro route and etc. I took her picture. As I was getting tired, so I came to room, drank water, took the medicine and showered. Now that I am finished writing, I am feeling hungry. I have paranthas and karelekisabzi with me which will be my dinner.
I got up at 7:30 am local time and 6 am Indian time. I had a very nice and relaxing sleep. Pillow was comfortably soft and the bed was also good. I think it was worth paying 250B here. I had a shave and shower; and got ready. It was time for re-packing everything that I had opened. I used a knife to open the water bottle seal.
Now I will go to the river side. I have to leave the room at 11 o’clock. There is no electric point where I could recharge the handicam battery.
Yesterday, I had noticed a restaurant on the ground floor so I came down. There was a Chinese man in the restaurant. I asked for tea and two toasts with butter which costed 35B. Restaurant has large hall with some furniture on one side with open kitchen and everything was looking antique. Probably, this hotel belonged to the Chinese, who were having very large house and later converted it to makeshift hotel. I asked for a plug for charging battery and the Chinese showed me a hand written bill that charging will cost 20B so I decided not to do it.
Then I came out to the railway station. Outside was a desk for tourist information and help. A young man told that the train to Ayutthaya will be there at 11:40 am, of course there were many earlier also but I decided to take this one. It was almost 9.
I asked for directions from many who willingly guided me to Wat which was the nearest Buddhist Temple. I walked to reach the Wat. Another Wat was being constructed for the part of celebration of King’s 80th birthday, nearby the old Wat. I went inside and saw a Buddhist monk with shaven head sitting and people were offering him money. I took some pictures and went to another Wat where old Buddhist images were kept. I sat inside for some time; a cat was also sitting there. She came and sat on my lap. I liked it because this was an indication that I like animals.
I came out and went towards the river. I asked many people about the directions just to start a conversation. At a crossing I asked three young girls(probably Chinese) for the direction to river. They did not understand but asked me to come with them. I came to know from a sign board that we were in China Town, since it was morning shops were closed. Two girls stopped at a place and the third one came further to give me directions. She just left me near the river. This was Sheraton Hotel. This side and the other side of the river was Hilton Hotel. I took the ferry in 2b to cross the river and walked through small shops in a row. There must be 200 shops of food plaza and were slowly opening now. I crossed all the shops coming to the main road, sat on a bench for few minutes and returned through the same shopping complex towards the plaza.
Thai people were making food and everything was neat and clean. There were no flies in their shops and each shop made its own variety of food. I took the ferry back. I found a lady packing fresh sugarcane juice in plastic bag with ice. This is something to learn, how clean it was. I always think that India should produce and manufacture Thai style stalls for temporary markets so that it will generate good employment. I asked the lady for the directions and she pleasantly gave one.
I came back to China Town, took some pictures and walking back through the station went to my room. As everything was packed in the morning, I just took my rucksack and checked out from the hotel.
Walking back to the station, I bought the ticket to Ayutthaya for 15b for 11:20 am train. As it was time, I walked quickly went to the platform no. 7. The journey was for an hour and a half. Third class seats were nice and comfortable. The compartments were clean and train stopped at few stations. We reached Ayutthaya at 1:10 pm.
I went to tourist counter at Thai’s station and collected some brochures of guest houses (350b) and also a tourist map. I found a man with ponytail on my way who was offering me a room at 100B. It was a small room with window, a bed , a table on which a table fan was kept, first I refused for the room but after making a quick calculation I realised that it was a good bargain to get a room at 100B compared to the rest at 350B. The room was on third floor while the bathroom at first. I accepted the room, kept my rucksack down and relaxed myself. I came down at 2 pm and asked for rice with chicken which was dry. There was one person who was sitting there and speaking very good English. He asked me to try fried egg as well. He knew much about India. Later I came to know that he was professional interpreter and guide. He asked me if I had Indian coins and I gave him a ten rupee note. He asked for another note and I showed him Rs.500 note. He kept the note in his pocket. After sometime, I asked him to return my note which he reluctantly gave back.
After eating I went to river side and crossed the river by ferry(4B). I met a tall Australian young man who was in the boat and was staying in the same guest house. We walked together for sometime and then I went alone as he had to go to the museum. I asked for directions to Buddhist Temple but came to know that Wat closes at 5 pm and it was late now. While returning back I saw a 7/11 store. These stores are a chain of stores in USA which are run by Gujarati. I went inside and bought some biscuits, croissant and salted nutmeg for 72B.
I returned back to hotel by ferry and as there was nothing to do I went to sleep. I was feeling fresh and after taking a shower I came down at 7:30 pm. I sat in the open restaurant for sometime and the Chinese owner asked me for dinner but I said no to him. I went near the station and saw someone making pancakes. I asked for the one with egg and banana. Everything was neat and clean. Although it was a roadside trolley the lady was cooking like a pro. I went further and saw a lady selling baiganpakora. I purchased pakora for 10B but they were not tasty. I went to the first trolley again and had another pancake, this time without banana for 12B. I was done with the dinner. I came back to the room made myself a cup of tea from electric kettle, listened to some music, attended few call and went to sleep at 10:15 pm. There was no ventilation in other rooms but my room had a window so it was better.
I am sitting near the station where I had rice with fried veg at a nearby restaurant.
I got up at 6 am today. The morning was pleasant and cool. I made myself a cup of tea, relaxed a bit, went down to bathroom and finished all chores. It was 7:30 am when I came to the room. I made a cup of tea and ate two croissants with some nuts. I enquired from motorcycle taxi about the rate for showing one of the old Ayutthaya ruins but they asked for 500 Baht. I came back and asked the Chinese owner, he said 100 Baht for one hour. I thought it will be over in one hour may be 25-20 mts more but I was wrong. 9 am was the time fixed for going to the Chinese owner whose brother was to take me on his motorbike but he asked 50 Baht for gasoline so I refused to pay and instead walked to the station from where I boarded one sort of an open vehicle which had two rows on the back side while one person was sitting with driver. 10-15 people came in and after 30 mts it came to an halt at the last stop. I enjoyed travelling in it. We were in the Suburb of Ayutthaya. The driver did not take any money from me so it was a free ride. I asked many that I want to go to Wat, so one lady conductor of a bus helped me. She knew some English and I sat in a bus no.5. After 25 mts or so, I reached old Ayutthaya town where I could see many ruined Wats but I got down to one Wat which was suggested to me by the conductor. Infact this was the place where I wanted to go. There was a bronze Murti of Buddha, the largest in Thailand. I took some pictures and then went to nearby Archaeological ruins. I did not buy ticket and went inside, as it would have taken a lot of time. Now I was feeling satisfied to come to this town.
I am sitting in the train to Phitsanulok. There were many decorated elephants which are used for tourist rides. Buses came from Bangkok in the morning and left in the evening. I came to the railway station by bus. The bus stopped across the river while I was asking for directions, one young girl came and accompanied me upto 7/11 stand. She was a third year student of medicine. I thanked her and gave my card also. I crossed the river by ferry for 5 B.
Then I came to the hotel where I was staying. I picked up rucksack and went to the railway station. Next ordinary train will go come at 4 pm before that there were some trains that charged 468B for second class a/c and non a/c was about 260 or 270 Baht. I decided to wait at the station and waited for an hour or so. I felt hungry, so walked across the station and found a good restaurant. I asked for fried vegetable rice but she brought boiled rice and fried veg. It is difficult to eat dry rice without any gravy but somehow I ate and then sat there for an hour as I had to pass time till 4 pm. I came back to the station, bought cut watermelon for 10 B each and then went to buy the ticket. They were not willing to give me a ticket in third class and told me it is all standing but I insisted and when I went inside the office they gave me one ticket for 168 B.Later I found out the reason, this train third class is all free for Thais and so it is crowded from Bangkok. Anyhow the train came at 4.30 pm, I kept my rucksack near the door and stood there.There were two other persons, one was a tour guide and so spoke good Englishwhile the other was a Murlin who had worked in Kuwait and knew some German, Arabic and some Hindi also. He was very talkative.The third person (I did not ask his name) was more intelligent and had to get down after 1 hr journey.The train was going with good speed and stopping at every station but stations were nice and clean.The photo of King and queen were nicely decorated on every small or big station.I could see some hills after some time.At one station steam engine was kept as an exhibit.At lobbin there was a temple which was for a god similar to Hanuman.One needs lot of time to study all these aspects.After about 2.30hrs standing I sat on the entrance stairs of the compartment. Men and women of all ages stood inside, and every now and then made way for people with baskets.Everyone was quite and smilinginspite of so much crowd. Green fields were visible on both sides.Then it started to get dark. The station where I had to get down was still far away but the train had great speed.
It was at 9.30 pm when I got down at Phitsanulok railway station.I could not find my Australian friend who had gone inside to sit.He was going to Chiang Mei and invited me to his house.Anyhow this happens with travelling friend.I got down at the station and sat there.First I telephoned Youth Hostel but there was no response even after 2-3 calls. Also the hotel mentioned in the Lovely planet book was not responding so I came out of the station.Small scooter had a display of ‘Youth Hostel’ but was charging 60 B for motorcycle taxi. I saw a hotel nearby, the room was for 210 B with no scope for bargain.One person told me that there is London hotel ahead and they may give room in 100 B.So I decided to walk there. After some walking I found London hotel and they were charging 150B. At a nearby hotel the price was the same. I was tired and so decided to take this room.Shower was inside but toilet facility was out. I kept the rucksack, took out valuables and had a quick shower which made me fresh.
Now I walked down to food market but could not find anything good, mostly pork or beef. Finally, I found a good restaurant with live music at one corner. They had displayed the dishes and I took fried veg rice for 50B. After sometime a foreigner (later I found an Irish Assistant Professor of English) also came.He was very talkative and to me he appeared as eccentric.He sat on my table and asked for a half bottle of whisky. He even offered me a glass and started talking about India and its poverty.I told him the right perspective and how western people see it in a wrong way.He was happy to understand,in the meanwhile my fried veg and rice came but not fried rice.I did not eat it and asked for fried rice only which came after 15mts.The Irish tried to eat my dish when I was away. He was joined by his Thai lady friend and another boy.He was friendly to the Thai lady whom he kissed again and again.The lady asked him to come to 7/11 store as she wanted to buy something.They came back after 10 mts.Now I had finished my dinner and wanted to leave.The Irish came to me and advised me to be careful of my money and valuables as these girls only want your Baht and nothing else.I think he was telling his experience.Anyhow I walked back and bought water from 7/11 store.
I got my diary up to date and feeling relaxed now. I will as soon as I get ready.I should go down for breakfast and then walk to the station. I am thinking to go to Sukhothai but still undecided.
After packing everything, I came down at around 10:15 am and kept my rucksack in a dirty enclosure in front of the reception desk.
At a nearby restaurant I had breakfast for 50 B comprising of two toasts with butter on one two sausages, some cut fruit, tomatoes salad and a fried egg.
After this I started walking towardsWat Yi which is most famous in Phitsanulok. It was very hot and was sapping my energy before I reached Wat Yi. I found another WatRatanbush on my side of the road and went inside.The Wat was old and nice, I further went inside a place which was probably eating place for Monks. Many interesting items were kept there.I chatted with one of the keepers, sat for a few moments and then came out. I crossed the road through an over-bridge and went to Wat Yi. This is a really famousWat. Many Thai people were performing Puja outside and inside the Wat.Budhha image was really beautiful and this Budhha is one of the most beautiful in Thailand.I took some pictures and walked back to the railway station. Due to heat I had to sit for a couple of times in between but finally I reached the guest house, collected my rucksack and came outside.I saw bus no.1, got into it and within 15 min reached city station. Neat and clean people were sitting in a disciplined way.I bought the ticket for 38 B and sat in an a/c modern bus.The bus started at 3 pm and at 4 pm I was at Sukhothai.The route was mostly through cultivated land. A young boy and a girl sitting on the other side of me became friendly.At Sukhothai they hired a vehicle and I also sat with them.I had to give 60 Baht to come to the city of the centre.The vehicle cardmeterwho was a girl told me to see garden guest house whereas I wanted to go to Banthai guest house.I saw the room as it was stuffy I decided not to take it.Then I went to Banthai guest house, it was really good.The room rent here was 180 B while in Garden guest house it was 150 Baht.
At about 5 pm I came to the room, rested and then tries to make some tea.This room had a socket plug point but I think electricity is 120 volt as it took half an hour to boil just one cup of water.I made tea,drank it well and then came out to the market.I saw some people doing aerobic exercises in a park and met some boys and girls who were eating from a side shop there. I sat with them for sometimehereby a boy gave his phone number to me.Then went to night market where food bazaar was set up.While walking back I found one interesting stall where a lady was serving some noodles with a mixture of things grinded in an ‘Imam Dasta’. I liked it and took some. She prepared it well. I also got a chair to sit and another lady put table fan towards me. Later, I came to 7/11 store and bought bread, ketchup some nuts and water for 72 B.Afterwards I came to the reception and started talking to the hostel owner ladies who were having there food. I stepped on a dog accidentally who bit me and some blood came out.The owner’s son took me to the hospital and I got vaccine shot.He paid the bill of 800 B or so, but I have to buy at least 3 injections for myself in next few days.
I made a cup of coffee and ate four bread pieces with tomato ketchup. By mistake I had taken two tripenside tablets (Sugar tablets). I am getting a little disorganized despite of the fact that I am getting more careful.Anyhow I should sleep now and leave at 8 am in the morning or may be earlier.
06 May 2009
11.45 Sukhothai old city
I am sitting under shelter in the old city main monument area i.e Central area.I got up at 6 am but at 7 am finally I got off bed.I saw Heera’s miss call.I made a cup of tea and drank it.This time water took boiled in a few minutes, probably last night voltage was very low.I got ready after taking shower and I changed the clothes also(first time after leaving Delhi).I phoned Heera and asked him to call me back as it would be cheaper that way.When Heera called me, it was a bad news, 2 women participants in sarpass died.First I did not understand what he was saying. It was mountain sickness. Doctor was in the group and Oxygen was used. I gave him all the possible instructions about bringing the bodies back to Delhi and then send to Mumbai and call their relatives.Everything at our cost.Then after some time I called ArunTalwar, he did not know about the accident/tragedy. I checked out keeping my rucksack there in the laundry room.I asked the youngman who took me to hospital yesterday that I need a copy of the prescription.We went to the hospital in motorcycle of this man.At the hospital we met the doctor also.An old man who looked intelligent did not give permission to take photocopy of the prescription but wrote the name of the injection in English.I asked the young man to drive me to the bus stand for Sukhothai old city. One vehicle was waiting there. It was 9.20 am and it would leave at 9.30 am.I forgot helmet of the Banthai guest house.It was still on my head.I kept it at a nearby restaurant to collect it on my way back and then phoned Nishi to find out from the doctor Yadav if it was ok to get the injection after 20 days or so.I paid 20 B for the bus and then came back to Sukhothai old city. There were 3-4 passengers only and they also got down enroute.I was the only one to come to Sukhothai It was getting warm.I went to information centre and then came to the ticket counter and bought 100 Baht ticket.
I saw many important Wats like Mahathaietc and took many pictures.I tried to talk to local boys and girls who had come there.They were from some college. I met a group of 4 American Youth who were wearing coat and tie (Black) and talked to them.They were from Christian missionary,one of them said he had roots from India as his grandfather was from Punjab.I spoke to all four of them about peace and International understanding, gave them 4 stickers and asked them to keep it and not to throw away.
I think I covered the most important Wats on foot; WatMahathai,WatSisunai(which was originally Hindu Temple),WatSasi and WatTrapangThory.All were mentioned in the Lovely planet book.I walked back to the information counter which was 660 mts from the gate. One side were Imli trees and I tried to break one with the help of dry log. It tasted good even the fallen ones were dry and ripe. As soon as I reached the gate I saw one tempo bus. I waved him and he stopped. He was going to the city.I paid 20 B on getting down. There were one or two passengers picked up enroute.
Then I walked to the bus stand from where I boarded tempo in the morning.I had left helmet of Banthai guest house at a nearby restaurant.I picked up the helmet, went to the Banthai guest house, returned the helmet and picked up the rucksack.The owner lady was there. I washed my face and she gave me one bottle of cold water before leaving.All were avoiding me so that I may not claim further damage on them.I had no such intention as I was not responsible for the dog bite.Again I walked back to the bus stop but before that another tempo stopped and offered to take me to city bus station in 20 Baht. I was the only passenger.It was 2.10 pm at the bus stand I went to the ticket counter and was told that be next bus to Chiang Mai is at 3 pm.I bought the ticket for 218 B.Now I was feeling hungry.I looked at the stalls of bus stand which were one or two only and there was no food left.The stall owner showed some stalls outside the bus stand.I found one small shack.A man was preparing fried rice with egg and chicken for 30 B. I took some and it was very tasty, may be because I was hungry too.I returned to the Bus stand and bought coca cola glass with lots of ice for 10 B. Now it was good for me. Bus came around 2.55 pm and left exactly at 3 pm.
I had a good seat in the second row but later changed to another row which was empty.Passenger kept on coming and leaving at various bus stops.Bus seats were neat and clean. I went for bathroom at one stop where the bus stopped for 2-3 mts.Normally bus was stopping for a minute or so.After 2 h drive,I saw hills comingon our way.It was near Chiang Mai (1 hr or so) that we actually drove on the hill road which was quite wide and bus speed was also high.In between I telephoned 5-6 guest house in Chiang Mai from the Lovely planet reference book. One or two were full, some said had double room at 280 B only.Banthai guest house responded that dormitory for 100 B and room for 200 B was available.The person on other side was pleasant in talking.After reaching Chiang Mai bus station which is quite large, I phoned the guest house again but could not hear anything due to noise.After some asking, I took one tuk-tuk for 40 B (another was asking 100 B).The guest house was quite far away from the bus stand and after reaching Chiang Mai thetuk-tuk driver did not know where to goexactly.Finally we reached the place. I saw the dormitory and the room and bargained 150 B for the room.The room is on the ground floor at one corner.It has two windows, quite wide double bed,clean linen (printed) and a blanket, two pillows, a table fan and a stool.I liked it and kept my baggagethere..After settling down I took shower and decided to go for night bazaar of nearby muslim area. I came out of the Guest house to the main road.Tuk-Tuk asked for 65 B and I was willing to pay 40 B or 20 B only but it started drizzling.In fact it was cloudy in the evening while coming to Chiang Mai.I decided to return and went to a restaurant in front of the guest house.I ate fried rice in fact she brought rice and chicken separately,but I asked the cook to mix both and make fried rice.It was good. I walked to a nearby 7/11 store and bought many things some for breakfast, some snacks and also surf powder pouch (small).I found a good food market here . Maybe tomorrow I could come here for food. I came back to the room at 11 pm.At 11.30 Arun Talwar phoned me and gave me updates of the incident about the death at sar pass route.It is really a set back.I slept later 11.30 pm or so.
07 May 2009
There was some noise at 4 am.May be some people were leaving. I got segmented and at 8.30 am I finally got up to make a cup of tea. There are common bathroom and toilets. I went to toilet and had a shower. After coming to the room I ate breakfast of three small buns filled with a small sausage, some nuts and ketchup tomato.After eating I made a cup of coffee.Now I am relaxed and writing.In fact I will go now to see some Wats and get a general feel of the city. I have nothing particular to see.After reading the book I will leave for Chiang Kheng and stay there tomorrow.I have to go to hospital tomorrow morning for anti rabies injection.
I am sitting in the WatPharasingh which is supposed to be main Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai.I asked some direction from the receptionist lady at the guest house and everyone was very helpful. She gave me a map of Chiang Mai in Thai and explained to me how to reach there. I started on foot and after a while found a vegetarian restaurant.There were many foreigners eating there.I took some pictures and thought of coming back later.My clothes which I washed in the morning (with the surf bought yesterday night) were almost dry so I kept them inside.
Now I walked further and found another beautiful Wat. I went inside nut no one was there. I took some pictures.There are two beautiful elephants tusk there and later I found that they were of plastic or wood. I came out of the Wat and moved inside.There was a moat of water with Lotus inside, a bamboo bridge and a chatai shelter. It was looking like a scene from a village may be in N.E India and South East Asia countries. I met a young Monk. He was speaking good English. He belonged to an old school, from the book I came to know that students from this school of Monks are allowed to interact with foreigner for 1 hr everyday.
It was 12.15 pm and so I decided to go back to the veg. restaurant. I had rice and two dishes of mushroom for 25 B. it was good and cold water was available. Now I came out and walked a bit further. It was hot and I was sweating. Then I took a small tempo for 15 B to Wat Phorasingh. I have been sitting here for more than 40 mts and should go.
I came out of the Wat 15 mts back. Outside a lady was eating lunch in her tempo taxi. She asked me to sit in shade in her tempo. She knew a little English and after sometime she brought an album of her daughter who works as nurse police in Bangkok. The lady’s name is Zamruaniand her daughter name is ooeing. After sometime I decided to go to Moon Muangstreet and find out the Indian restaurant mentioned in the book. I got down atSoiq Moon Muangand tried to find the restaurant.It is grace guest house and they serve Indian dishes also. I think it was different than what I was looking for, anyhow I ordered 80 Baht thali and considering that I was eating in Chiang Mai Indian food prepared by Thai lady,it was ok.I exchanged 30 US $ cash from a bank.The rate of 34 B was better than Bangkok.I now walked back this area Soiq to 1 on Moon Muang road is full of guest houses,café’s,Bars and food etc.It was useful to walk through this area.The road for coming and going is divided by the wide moat all along.I reached our guest house without any problem.There was no light in the guest house.So I opened the door and slept for couple of hours.It was 7.30 pm when I got up.Light must have come before that.I made a cup of tea and took a shower.It was relaxing.Suddenly it started raining heavily and within half an hour the road in front was clogged with water but drainage system is good. When the rain stopped within half an hour the water had gone.At 9.30 pm or so I went to the nearby food court.First I ate coconut cookies made like idlis.Then went to another stall and asked for Veg. fried rice and mushroom fried.In the meanwhile I went to buy water and a bottle of beer from 7/11 store.I enjoyed this food sitting on a stool. In the meanwhile I asked for the English Roti from a nearby stall.I returned back to the guest house at about 10.15 pm. I received a number of phone calls and even made few, concerning deaths at Sar Pass.It is 12’0’ clock in the night now and I should go to sleep.Tomorrow I have to go to a hospital for injection for dog bite.
Chang Rai (5.20 pm)
I boarded the bus from Chiang Mai at 2 pm and reached Chiang Rai at 4.45 pm. This bus stop was outside the city from where I took tempo for 10 Baht and reached this bus station.Here a sort of local bus will leave at 5.45 pm and is the last bus to Chiang Khong. I did thisso that I could get direct bus to Chiang Khong and did not want to waste one day just to stay at Chiang Rai where there is nothing else to see. Enroute scenery was very good.We crossed hilly areas where the scenery was like picture post card was wide and very good. The bus was a/c and seats were allotted(first few seats were first class with higher fare). These seats were more comfortable than our second class seats. The bus was running through the hilly area I have to close the windowas it was getting cold.There was some small town enroute.
In Chiang Mai I realised that I had less money than required.So I decided to exchange another 20 US $ as my bus scheduled for 2 pm. It was 12’0’clock. I took a tuk- tuk in 100 Baht to and fro. He took me to downtown exchange (private) as the banks were closed due to National holiday I returned on time.Out of 680 B exchanges I gave 100 Baht to tuk-tuk but it was worth it.Now I was feeling secure and comfortable.
11.40 pm Chiang Khong
When I got down from the boat at Chiang Khong at 8.30 pm, there were 4-5 passengers only. There were two girls from USA and two Thai women.They were teaching Thai medicine in a University and came for couple of days for holiday.They helped me in getting tuk-tuk in which they also came till Bamboo Guest house. At the guest house, I took one room on first floor for 150 B.These women took the other side a/c room facing Mekong river.We came out by a nearby Thai restaurant. I asked for Thai soup Tom(fish) and rice.It was a big bowl of soup for 80 Baht It was good and filling. We enjoyed talking.After dinner I came to my room picked up some gadgets and went to see Mekong river.There I made the first recording in voice recorder.Took pictures and then spoken to Mr.Harsh Maitee whose wife died at sar pass.He was praising YHAI organisation very much and had no complains. He was saying YHAI was his organisation and gave a suggestion to inform the camp leader about the weather conditions in advance. I agreed to do so.
I must get up early to enjoy the Mekong river.
09 May 2009
I got up at 5.45 am. It was cold and I had switched off the fan at night.At 2.30 am more people had come and there was noise again.I went to toilet , shaved,brushed and took shower.I am trying to make a cup of tea but as the voltage is low, it is taking a lot of time for one cup of water to boil.Last night before sleeping I made a cup of coffee and enjoyed it. I am listening to Thai music and enjoying it for the first time in the last few days. I have bought a small Philips FM radio and it catches local FM music channel.
I am sitting in a slow boat to LuangPrabang.I left the guest room at 7.30 am in the morning.Then I walked a bit towards the Thai immigration side.I found a small restaurant where preparations for the day were still going on.I stopped and sawa husband and wife. I showed them the vegetables which were kept in a water tub to prepare.Quickly the man prepared a veg dish and with plenty sticky rice which is a normal dish for Thai. I ate it. So far it was the best meal which I had in Thailand.
I then walked to the Thai border past which was quite easy to get the exit stamp. I took a ferry boat to the other side for 30B.It was just 2 mts run on the other side also it was easy to get the passport stamped. 1 US $ was charged for overtime on Saturday and Sunday work of the immigraton officers.I gave one dollar note there was an exchange bank.He was charging 3 US $ fee for the T.C and at the same rate like notes, I came up to the road and main Bazaar.The Banks were closed as it was Saturday.I came back to the first exchange and got 50 US $ notesexcahnged.Now I walked to the Boat Pier.It was very hot and sticky but I kept on walking, bought a bottle of water and two long buns. I found the boat pier and bought the ticket for 20.0000 kips.The receptionist said that the boat will start at 11am.We have to register at the police port.Till then I came to a shop and bought two cucumber and a tomato for 20 Baht.I will make a good sandwich for lunch although the mornnig breakfast-cum-lunch was very good.Our boat is going in middle of the river. Water is muddy and brownish but otherwise there is no pollution anywhere. Both side different countries land and sometimes houses are there.
I am still in the boat. At 5.45 pm boat stopped and came to the other side of the land.There is no landing pier but rock only.There are few other boats also.It took sometime to get down from the boat, first on the rocks and then to stairs which were going up.Some boys and girls were touting for guest house.