Mesmerizing Bangkok

Sorry it took me a while to write about my stay in Bangkok but my week in Finland has been quite busy so I haven’t really found a place or time to write anything. I arrived to Finland on Friday 13th of March and have been already in three different cities. First weekend I spent in Helsinki at my friend’s house and then I came to Noormarkku and Pori to visit my family and during the week I also went to Tampere to meet my thesis supervisor. Yep, back to reality! Shortly, the first week in Finland has been great! The weather has been perfect so far (cool and sunny), I’ve met few familiar faces and I have slept a lot.

But let’s talk about Bangkok which was an amazing city!! I’ve heard different opinions about it; some say it is smelly and not nice, and some had said that it is a very cool city. I spent there only 2,5 days but still I can say that it is so interesting and fascinating and I could definitely go back there. Yes, it was a bit smelly but it wasn’t so bad and the city is full of places worth of visiting.

I didn’t want to be running through the city so I chose few places where I decided to go and I’d say all of them were worth of visiting. I visited Wat Pho (the Reclining Buddha), Wat Arun, Golden mountain, Forensic museum, MBK shopping mall and Lumpini Park. I also went to the beloved and dreadful Khao San road which is more like a touristic hell. It is a shopping and restaurant street occupied by tourists. I tried to spent my last bahts there but in the end I did a poor job in shopping. I bought couple of things, had a foot massage, ate a lot and drank few beers and even still I had some bahts left.

Moving around in Bangkok was really easy and it was so nice to have different transportation options because especially in Vietnam and Cambodia and in the islands of Thailand there aren’t many different options for moving around the city. In Bangkok one can choose from a ferry, subway, skytrain, bus, taxi, motorcycle taxi and tuk tuks. I tried almost all of the different transportations and I’d say that if possible avoid motorcycle taxis and tuk tuks if you are travelling alone because they are quite expensive. And if you decide to use a taxi, use only meter-taxis because if the taxi drivers try to set the price in advance, you end up paying a lot more than you should. I noticed that moving taxis are most likely meter-taxis and taxis that are parked are most likely the “bad deal taxis”. I also heard that the pink taxis are the best but also green + yellow taxis are reliable too.

Also one advice with any of the drivers in Bangkok is that make sure that your driver knows your destination! I mean you really have to test him whether he really knows where to drive. So you should study a bit the map and explain to the taxi driver where you want to go because otherwise they might start driving and then later be lost because the driver never really knew where to go.. I also learned to just skip the drivers that had no clue where to take me. I noticed that it can save your time, money and nerves…

I can’t really say why I liked Bangkok so much. Maybe it was so nice to see a big city after Vietnam and Cambodia because Bangkok truly is a big city. It has lots of skyscrapers and other interesting buildings, many places for tourists and I just liked the vibe of the city. I also had a chance to meet up with a Thai friend who I met in Japan. That was just a perfect ending for my trip in Asia.

I stayed at Old Town Hostel:

  • a bit far from the touristic areas
  • close to one pier where one can hop on a ferry
  • very big and neat hostel
  • good beds and facilities
  • very nice and helpful staff
  • one can store their bags for free for up to 30 days
  • I paid 290 bahts (a bit over 7 euros) per night in a 6 bed mixed dorm
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Island edition: Koh Lanta and Koh Mook

I just arrived back to Bangkok from the islands near Trang. I spent 8 days at beaches of Koh Lanta and Koh Mook. I really didn’t know what to expect because I’ve never been before at islands and I don’t even remember the last time I had a beach holiday. I was afraid that I would get bored and miss action. The truth is that I relaxed 110% and I’ve never been as lazy as I was in Koh Mook and Koh Lanta. I got lazier every day and basically my 8 days consisted of this: eating, sleeping, sunbathing, swimming in the sea and one day I rented a scooter and one I day I walked around the island for couple of hours (and that wore me down hehe). In the last few days I have been sleeping quite well and long but still I’ve been very tired all the time. In conclusion I enjoyed the islands a lot!

I travelled with a friend who came from Finland. We met in Bangkok and flew together to Trang Town. As I mentioned above we decided to visit Koh Lanta and Ko Mook. Our aim was to find peaceful beaches that aren’t too touristic, if that is possible here anymore. So no full moon parties this time.

We stayed the first night in Trang Town because we arrived so late so we couldn’t take a ferry or a minibus to Koh Lanta anymore. Trang seems to be very small and sympathetic town but not very interesting. We went twice to the night market which surprisingly was one of the best I’ve visited so far. It doesn’t have much stuff that I want to buy but it was full of food that I wanted to taste.

After Trang we took a minibus to Koh Lanta which was quite affordable, only 280 bahts (7 eur). We stayed there around 3,5 days which was quite enough. The island is nice and quite quiet but it was full of Swedes, Finns and Germans. In Lanta we rented scooters and cruised around the island to see the other beaches. I have never driven a scooter before but I definitely wanted to do it because the traffic was relaxed compared to the other cities’ traffic where I‘ve been. Also the left-hand traffic didn’t feel bad because I got used to it in Japan. I wonder how the Finnish right-hand traffic will feel like when I return.

In Lanta we found very nice restaurant right next to our hotel. I don’t know the name of it because it had only one sign that said “Drink and foods” :-D. The food was really tasty and quite cheap! Also one of my favorite things on the island was a pancake that one lady made on the street from her “moped street kitchen”. I went there twice to have a banana & pineapple pancake with vanilla/chocolate sauce. It was only 30 bahts (0,75 eur) which was just ridiculous!! It was soooo good..

Also what was a bit surprising is that majority of the people living in Koh Lanta are Muslims. They also had Muslim women driving the tuk tuks which was great but when you are not used to the view it can seem a bit strange. I’ve seen nowhere else women driving a tuk tuk and here the women drove it with the Muslim scarf. Which is great!! I hope every woman all over the world can do what the men do if they want to.

After Koh Lanta we headed to Koh Mook which blew my mind right from the beginning. The Had Farang beach looks amazing! Very peaceful and quiet, amazing scenery, crystal clear water, affordable food and only few restaurants. I am amazed how untouched the island seems to be. One thing though probably scarred me for life. Our bungalow was quite near to the jungle and I saw twice monkeys eat anything they found from the yards. But on the second time the monkeys weren’t so nice because the assholes tried to attack me. They were stalking under our bungalow and in the bushes. I thought that I could still pass them and go to MY bungalow because I had passed them earlier but this time all of the monkeys went nuts and one of them almost assaulted me. It made awful noises and ran a bit after me aggressively. I screamed like crazy and I can just remember the teeth that looked surprisingly sharp and big. I will forever hate monkeys. I had also other encounters with fauna of the islands. One small gecko was sitting on my shoulder blade, a small jellyfish burnt my skin and a bird pooped on my back. I was waiting that a snake would also bite me but luckily at least that didn’t happen.

Few words about the accommodation:

Guest House in Trang: Yamawa

  • not far from the Railway Station
  • very basic facilities but it was ok
  • very sweet and helpful owners
  • free towel and water
  • nice and hard beds (good for your back) but a bit shaky
  • no breakfast
  • 13 eur per night in a twin room

Hotel in Koh Lanta: Lemonade Inn

  • very good location, very near to the Klong Dao beach
  • nice and helpful staff
  • new looking rooms and facilities
  • free towel and water
  • no breakfast
  • 950 bahts (about 24 eur) per night in a double room

Bungalow in Koh Mook: Had Farang

  • very basic bungalow (washroom, twin bed, a chair and small table, a terrace with two chairs)
  • like a children’s playhouse :-D
  • the beds were ok but not great
  • internet only in the “lobby”/restaurant
  • near to the best beach of the island
  • small monkey problem
  • One night around 14 euros per night

Trang Hotel in Trang Town

  • I don’t really recommend this. Yamawa was better experience.
  • Breakfast should had been included but it was hard to get an answer that what part of the breakfast is free because I didn’t have a common language with the waiters
  • Internet worked only in the lobby
  • Gloomy rooms even though the whole building was very colourful.
  • Looked like it was stuck in the 60’s
  • I think it was around 14 euros per night

PS: I would recommend the Nok Air airline company! We flew with it from Bangkok to Trang Town and back to Bangkok, and everything went smoothly. We paid around 55 euros per tickets, and a small snack (a pastry and a small cup of water) on a flight was included. The Nok Air has airplanes that look pretty new and they are branded in an interesting way. Lots of colours and the planes look like birds haha! They look so cute!

Tomorrow will be my last day abroad. My flight will leave in midnight so this will be also my last post abroad.. I will still write few posts but here is my last greeting physically from overseas. I can tell already that I’ve had an amazing trip!

Yello!

Found my favorite destination so far: Battambang

Before entering Cambodia I had heard so many travelers say that Cambodia is their favourite place in South East Asia. My expectations were high but I couldn’t find “the magic” from Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked those places but something was missing.. until I came to Battambang! As soon as I stepped out of the bus I knew that this place would be special. And it was! I had no setbacks except when I tried to leave from Battambang. I will tell you about that in another post..

Even though Battambang is the second largest city of Cambodia it seems like a cute little town. Everything was almost perfect. The people, even the tuk tuk drivers, were very nice, my guesthouse was great, the city was compact but had things to do and to see, the food and drinks were affordable and tasty. I really have no complaints except that it was extremely hot in the middle of the day and the mosquitoes were meaner than in other places where I’ve been. But really, the people were really friendly and they treated you like you are one of them or their friend. I didn’t feel like “a walking money machine”. The people seemed to be interested in you and specially the children were so adorable. I heard and saw so many cute “hello” greetings and waves. My heart melted!

I spent a bit over two days in Battambang. On first day I explored the city randomly and visited some temples. I also went to see a bat cave which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. Everyday thousands of bats fly out of their cave to get food and hundreds of tourists go to see this. I have to admit though that it was a very cool view! On the second day I did a half day bicycle tour with Soksabike. I had a really great guide and I was the only one doing the tour on that day so that was great. We went to the countryside and visited some local families and I was able to see e.g. how they make rice wine, rice paper, dried banana chips and rice cake cooked inside a bamboo. That trip was the best tour that I have ever made! I thought at first that it is a bit pricy, 27 USD, but after the trip I think it was totally worth it. I had a chance to try the delicacies, practice some Cambodian sentences and cycle which was so nice. I have really missed actually doing something active. I think we cycled 20km in the end. I could have cycled more because it was so much fun.

From the snacks that I ate during the tour, I liked the rice cake the most. It was so good and I think it is better than sticky rice. You peel the bamboo and eat the “cake” with your fingers. The crust is a bit harder than the inside and the texture is little dry but not too dry. My rice cake was made of coconut milk, rice and red beans. Yummy! Even though I really enjoyed the tour it was a bit sad to hear the reality of the families. They work so hard and the profit from their hard work is not big. All these experiences make me think the times when I complained that my paycheck is not big enough. Of course everything is relative and Finland really isn’t a cheap country to live in but I guess most important thing is to whine less and appreciate more what one has.

On the last evening in Battambang and in Cambodia, I got a chance to go to an open-air concert that was sponsored by Ganzberg beer brand. I went to the concert with my bicycle tour guide and his friends. I was very happy to be there because it was full of Cambodians and it was just the perfect ending for my time in Cambodia. I heard Cambodian pop and saw interesting performances. One thing that I have noticed from all the Cambodian music videos and what I was told about the songs is that Cambodians have lots of love songs! I mean a lot. :-D

Funny thing is that I got also an invitation to a wedding party but I declined the invitation because I think it wasn’t a good and a safe idea. The person who invited me to the wedding was the tuk tuk driver who took me to the bat cave. I hardly knew him and I would had been dependent on him because the wedding party was held like 5km outside the city. If only the party would had been inside the city I could had considered going..

Comments about the Ganesha Guesthouse:

  • Very nice, friendly and helpful staff
    • I even got a needle and a thread to fix couple of holes and they would had given me the whole thread if I would had wanted to take it.
  • They have a movie room and they show The Killing fields movie every night and the ticket is only one dollar
    • Very well-made movie but also really sad. I recommend watching it but the subject is very heavy.
  • Mosquito net and a personal fan
    • A con is that you can’t use both at the same time because they just don’t work together. Either you are free from the mosquitoes or free from the heat.
  • Free pool and free towel
  • Good food in the restaurant
  • Only 4.5 USD per night in a mixed dorm

Yesterday I arrived to Bangkok and I noticed that I was missing Cambodia a bit. Overall I really liked Cambodia and Battambang was the crucial part to make me fall in love with the country. I really would like to visit Battambang again and also go to Kep and to Kampot for which I didn’t have time this time. Cambodia, until we meet again ♥

PS: I hate mosquitoes!!!!!

PPS: Has anyone ever heard about a Ganzberg beer??