I’ve been at home for a while now and had time to reflect a bit about the trip and the countries I visited.
Though the region is called Indochina (from the two main cultural influences on the region), it’s much less homogeneous than you might think at first glance. Geographically they are of course very similar with jungles and mountains and very similar climates. The difference lies in the people and culture. In my experience Laos and Cambodia are very similar and Thailand, though more developed, is culturally close to them as well. Vietnam sticks out as very different from the other … Read the rest
I’m back home and I’ve had a fantastic trip! I’ve actually been at home for a few days now but I haven’t posted anything until now because it’s taken a few days to unpack my stuff and sort through all my photos. Now I’m done with all that and it’s time to write the last post.
Before I sum up my trip however, I want to do a little bit of promotion:
The people I stayed with in Mae Hong Son were so nice and so hospitable I think they deserve a special recommendation. If you (or anyone you know) are … Read the rest
I didn’t really have a plan for what to do for new years but I got a few ideas from my guides at the elephant camp. Since new years eve happened to be on a Saturday there was a night market in town, so I went there to start my evening with some street food. It’s a huge market, and it was very crowded but I did find some tasty food.
Someone told me there would be activities at the various temples, and there were, but they seemed to be mostly for worshipers. I skipped that and … Read the rest
The street is filled with people, they mill about among the vendors, buying snacks and souvenirs. The air is filled with didgeridoo music, a deep driving rhythm, almost like hard rock. The sky is filled with floating lanterns, glowing orange lights that drift upwards on the breeze.… Read the rest
Chiang Mai is rife with activities like rock climbing, zip lining, bungee jumping, you name it. I’ve tried all of them at some time or other except one, petting elephants. A lot of the time when people are allowed to get close to some kind of animal it’s kind of exploitative, and dangerous to both man and beast. There are lots of operators that offer tours that include petting and riding elephants or even circus like shows. The problem is that the elephants are often trained using a metal hook that causes pain and even when their not, according to … Read the rest
The grey trunk comes snaking around me from behind, the moist end sniffing out the bananas in the bag on my hip. At the same time, the elephant in front of me also reaches her trunk in my direction, trying to get at the tasty treats. I can barely get the bananas out of the bag fast enough for them. As soon as I do, it only takes a second before one of the elephants has grabbed it and deposited it in its mouth. They are as tall as me and weigh two thousand kilos each but they act like … Read the rest
The road back from Mae Hong Son to Chiang Mai is bit longer than the previous two days so I was planning to get an early start. However, just as I was getting ready to go, my hosts invited me to go sightseeing with them and they were so nice to me I just couldn’t say no. They took me to Su Tong Pae bamboo bridge. It’s pretty similar to the one in Pai but they claim this is the original, the one in Pai a copy. They kept being super nice to me so tried to at least buy … Read the rest
Am I still in Thailand? It sure doesn’t seem like it with these surroundings. On both sides of the road are rolling hills, on the right they are covered in withering, brown corn stalks on the left, the dark green of pine forests, with brown, bare tea bushes in neat rows lower down in the valley. This high up, the sweltering heat of the lowlands is gone, the air is cool and crisp like an autumn day. If I didn’t know better I would think I’m somewhere in Europe.… Read the rest
When I woke up this morning the bike wouldn’t start. Though it seemed fine last night the battery had died during the night. I tried to push start it a couple of times but eventuallyI had to go to a repair shop to get a new battery.
While walking around in the town last night, I took note of a few of the places Near Pai that tour companies bring their clients to. My next goal was only about 100 kilometers away so despite wasting an hour on the broken bike, I figured I still had time.
My first stop … Read the rest
Like I mentioned in my last post a lot of travelers have talked about riding motorbikes from Chiang Mai to Pai. When I studied the map I realized there’s a loop called the Mae HongSon loop that people do in a couple of days. It runs northward from Chiang Mai up to Pai, westward over to Mae Hong Son, then back to Chiang Mai in a big southward semi circle (see the map below for details). This sounded like the perfect plan for me, so in the morning I set of in search for a motorbike.… Read the rest