Thursday, 19 November 2009

Slowly to the North

Got my Vietnamese visa, one month, whole January. Decided to move slowly, 200km at a time, stay a little and then do a next bit. Saw on a map artificial lake North-West from Bangkok, took a tourist bus to Kanchanaburi, then local bus to the lake. When we reached the first town by the lake, the driver indicated that I should go. I did not like the sight of it and indicated (nobody spoke any English) my wish to go further. Driver: (pointing finger to the window): hotel! (pointing finger to the road ahead): hotel no! I got worried, then remembered I had a hammock and a bottle of water and pointed my finger to the road ahead. During next half-an-hour of driving I could tell driver thought he had a problem on his hands. Couple of stops came and went, and when our bus took a ferry to the other side of a bay - the driver indicated that I should follow him. I did. He brought me to a floating house and spoke to the owner. The guy spoke excellent English (he worked for Americans during Vietnam war) and suggested I stay at his place tonight (it was 5pm, and at 6pm it is dark) and consider my options tomorrow. So we returned to the bus where passengers were patiently waiting, took my things and ended up staying in another floating house, without any walls, just like majority of other houses in the area. Reason - with walls its too hot inside.

He runs a little restaurant, loves animals, breeds fish, not fishing himself and nobody allowed to fish on his property (he buys fish from fishermen when he needs it), and, obviously, fish trust him.

Waiting for a visa

Takes three days. Did some more sightseeing.

Don't know what it is - but Bangkok has plenty of them!

Not very popular.

Very popular.

Was walking on a busy street, noticed locals going through a gate, followed them to a little market, locals were not buying anything and were disappearing through a hole in a fence, followed them - a diner! Notice little sections at the perimeter - these are all different stalls preparing food. The cheapest in town.

To Bangkok

It rains more and more often, off I go to the North. First to Bangkok to get Vietnamese visa.

Bought myself a hammock:

All my things are with me.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Island Koh Tao

Spent a day on a neighbouring island Koh Tao. Much smaller, quieter, and if you are into diving - it is paradise.

It is, actually, a lot of fish...


I was riding motorbike and saw roadworks ahead. A guy was redirecting traffic into, basically, not prepared woods, where everyone was negotiating their way between coconut trees. Thinking how unlikely you see something like that in Europe, I was smiling at the thought and when I was passing him, suddenly realized that he was smiling at me, almost giggling. Caught unaware, I imagined he had read my thoughts, and we parted half- laughing. It took me a couple of minutes to stop smiling, he stopped smiling much sooner, I think. But what I know for sure is that amount of times an average Thai smiles or laughs is at least ten times bigger than us, farangs (Thai word for westerners). Not only they are looking for a funny or pleasant situation - they also create them out of nothing.

And I don't remember a single occasion when in Europe a stressed out worker on a roadside smiled at me anyway... :)

Monday, 2 November 2009

Fruit Du Jour: Noina (Custard Apple)

I saw a small woman trying to pick some strange fruit from a big tree, offered to help, got this as a reward:
This heart-shaped Thai fruit has green, bumpy skin and its creamy flesh inside tastes similar to vanilla ice cream and can be eaten with a spoon. Their peak season is from June through September. The trees need wide areas to flourish (thereby taking up a large expanse of valuable land) and and are very labor intensive as they are extremely prone to disease.