Thank you New Zealand, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, East Timor and Australia for the people we met, the friendly welcome everywhere, the roads we rode, the food we could taste, the adventures we could master, the experiences we made and finally thank you for all the dust in our faces ;) All the best Kerstin and Sascha, www.RTWbyBIKE.com
We really enjoyed the time spending in our “temporary home” on Phuket meeting old and new friends… Kisses and hugs to ALL of you!!! But finally the time came we had to say good bye and to continue our journey. At one junction on Phuket we stopped beside a car; the guys inside were smiling at us and passing a little fish snack towards us through the window: Now we were sure doing right –back on road again!!!
Due to Kerstin`s ear inflammation which is much better already we had to skip the planned diving course on Ko Tao. No rush is needed so we decided to make a loop over the north mountain area. We chose little streets and just enjoyed the landscapes while passing jungle valleys and small non touristic villages.
When a thunderstorm came close we started to look for a place for the night and get invited to put the tent in front of a ranger station next to a dam allowed to use the bathroom facilities. It was a hot night without rain but nevertheless a good feeling to be back in the nature… and the next morning after a coffee together with the rangers we continued on the road which looked nice. We passed fruit plantations and lovely valleys – slowly direction south. Close to a big lake we found a friendly place to stay in a little hut just before it started to rain.
We were impressed by the open minded and friendly people all over this area as it is not touristic at all and we had to communicate with our little vocabulary, hands and feet. This is what makes traveling so exciting and what it is all about…!
Leaving the mountains we could escape a thunderstorm and once more we crossed the country to the west coast. South of Trang we stopped in a National Park planning to put up our tent at the beach. Suddenly the sky turned black and a strong wind came up from the open sea… even though it was late already we took our things and left to find a more sheltered place. (It was a bit sad and scary that you can still clearly see the impact from the Tsunami of 2004. We saw a lot of broken houses, some of them some hundred meters from the actual coast line.) Finally when it turned dark we reached a little fishing village surrounded by rocks where we got a hut before the rain started. It looks like we have to get used to the “afternoon thunder-showers”…
Finally it was time getting closer to the Malaysian border. Yesterday we arrived in Hat Yai which is about 100 km north of the border. The plan was to stay just for one night, shopping some things… but: 1st we recognized the next day (1. May) will be a holiday in Malaysia and partially as well here in Thailand 2nd we lost a part of our left handle bar. We decided spontaneous in the morning to stay one more day. As most of the shops are closed today it was not easy to find a replacement, but we did! In a small shop and in our spare screws we found what we needed to fix the handlebar for the time being. Kerstin found Henna and was happy to cover her greyish hair – they had hazelnut brown but the result is a deep black! Hmm, first time such dark hair, so do not wonder on the upcoming pictures: it is still Kerstin ;-)
The rest of the day we will research about Malaysia and the border crossing possibilities to Indonesia which seems to be a little bit problematic currently. Anyhow it is still time for us to gather information about that and for the first: Tomorrow we will enter Malaysia!
… After the sun comes rain… after the rain comes sun…
The Thai New Year, Songkran we spend going around on Phuket… Everybody is laughing while throwing water on everybody! The New Year is celebrated for three or sometimes four days here. This we recognized when we went on Monday to the customs office to Phuket Town to get the Bike papers prolonged: it was still closed J they were still celebrating. So we had to go again on Tuesday. At the same time Kerstin had the chance to get her last vaccination – which knocked her off a bit today with feeling dizzy and having a headache. This will be better hopefully tomorrow.
All in all we spend quite a long time here in Phuket… reading, planning, meeting friends, relaxing and swimming in the pool and at the beach. And “thanks” to our friend we could practice to cook delicious Thai food. The weather shows some strange caprioles currently. Every evening we have strong thunderstorms with heavy rains and during the last three days it started already early at the day… We really enjoyed having a “home” for a time being but slowly we are getting nervous – time for us to go on the road again. And hopefully the weather is on our site when we start to ride the bike again!
We hope you all had a good Easter time and that we will hear from you!
… along the coasts – Phuket with a warm welcome but unexpected interruption caused by an earthquake
As soon as we picked up our Visa for Indonesia we packed our things, ready to leave Bangkok early morning on Tuesday. I took us a while getting out of Bangkok and we had a short stop in Cha-am. We said “Hello” to our room neighbor of our Guesthouse in Bangkok, Tony, but as the place was fully touristic and the beaches were packed with people and umbrellas we decided to continue direction south – hoping to find a more remote place for the night.
South of Hua Hin we turned on loop along the coast through a National Park where we found a lovely place under pines at the beach site to park our bike a build up the tent. A bit worried we were in the beginning about the monkeys which were playing around and watching us very interested… do they will take apart probably our bike over night??? But it seemed they were just going asleep when it turned dark and everything was fine the next morning when we crawled out of our tent for a swim. On the way out of the valley we passed several Shrimp Farms and in one of the coast villages we had a stop for our breakfast: Pad Thai with fresh shrimps. Honestly, it was the best and the cheapest (25 THB =0,60 €) one we ever had!!! (Pad Thai is a traditional meal, shortly fried in a pan: noodles, eggs, sprouts, spring onions, peanuts with tofu, chicken or shrimps served with a separated plate full of fresh sprouts, chili and spring onions). We enjoyed the small streets along the coast and suddenly more and more Resorts appeared… not really an area where it is easy to find a cheap place to stay or even to put up the tent. Having some tries we ended up in a small village asking in a guest house for a room… after talking a while the owner asked us if we have a tent with us when he realized we are travelling long and “low budget”. Saying it short: we put up our tent in his garden allowed to use his bathroom facilities for free, perfect!!! We really enjoyed the afternoon, swimming, watching the fishermen…
Next morning after a quick swim in the sea and a shower, we decided to cross the land over the mountains and went from the east to the west coast. Once more we reached the border to Burma (Myanmar) – this time going south along it. Reaching Ranong we had a short chat with an Italian guy who was riding his bike round the world as well but some years ago. Suddenly it went completely dark and he was telling us that there are heavy rain showers since a couple of days always late in the afternoon.. We decided shortly to drive into a canyon nearby to find a place for the night, even though this was the part which looked darkest. Driving through the heavy rain we saw a little wooden sign and followed the direction. Finally we reached a lovely little and remote place: A jungle valley with a little stream and a green ground where Tun, the owner, build up a three huts and his bamboo bar-kitchen. When we arrived the rain stopped and he was sitting with his friends drinking beer and listening to: Country Music! It was a little bit bizarre this scenery, especially the were speaking just a little bit English ;-) Anyhow, we found our place to stay for the next two nights in the middle of the nature: Joining Tun and his friends, watching and listening the animals around, the sunrise on one side and the sunset on the other site of the valley, at night the full moon… and making some trips around the canyon and to some hot springs nearby.
Now it was time to get closer to Phuket and to get in touch with our old friend who settled there. Unfortunately we found out that he had to leave to Bangkok for a couple of days. Never mind we were invited to use his flat where a part of his family and his girlfriend were staying at the moment. Warmly welcomed we arrived last Saturday and enjoying since then the luxury of having something like a “home” for a couple of days! Living in our own AC room with a huge bed ;-) and having a kitchen where we can cook, having good friends around us all the time. We spend an incredible lovely time together and were invited to a boat trip around the Phi Phi Islands as well. At the same time we found a home we are doing vacation! What a great combination. A big THANK YOU once again to everybody! Tell the little one that there is still a game of Yenga open! He just led by one point!
At Phuket we meet again another RTW pilot on his Ténéré whom we saw the last time about 6 weeks ago in Central Laos… We will see what we do; if we meet in Malaysia again to cross to Indonesia; if we share a container (if necessary)… The information we are receiving at the moment are changing on an hourly basis… But lucky us there are quite some drivers who want to cross to Indonesia…
Unfortunately we had an unexpected interruption yesterday: The earthquake which happened close to Sumatra and we could feel here quite intensive in Phuket. Because we were sitting in the fourth floor we felt quite save regarding the probably upcoming reaction of the ocean; the Tsunami. Of course we were worried for a while and following the news to take any action immediately if necessary and we packed the most important things together. Luckily it was relatively fast clear that we do not have to expect anything really bad here – nevertheless we spend the evening home with a spooky silence outside, but we were more worrying about the people who are closer to the epic center. Fortunately today is clear nothing happened to anybody really bad!!!
Today In the morning we brought the family of our friend to the airport. Now we are alone in this big flat… As we have the Thai New Year tomorrow we will not drive with our motorbike for sure and it is a good time to work at the pool! Waiting for our friend who will hopefully manage to come over tomorrow or after tomorrow, we try to get organized whatever we need for our further trip… having the luxury of the beaches, the pool and a “home”.
To all our friends which are traveling; and in general to all people in the area of INDONESIA / INDIA / SRI LANKA / AUSTRALIA / MYANMAR / THAILAND / MALDIVES / UNITED KINGDOM / MALAYSIA / MAURITIUS / REUNION / SEYCHELLES / PAKISTAN / SOMALIA / OMAN / MADAGASCAR / IRAN / UAE / YEMEN / COMORES / BANGLADESH / TANZANIA / MOZAMBIQUE / KENYA / CROZET ISLANDS / KERGUELEN ISLANDS / SOUTH AFRICA / SINGAPORE all around the Indian Ocean and actually all over the world.
We hope each and every one of you is in a safe place and/or took preparations.
And we really hope nothing serious is coming after this earthquake which took place today in the Indian Ocean. We felt it strongly in Phuket today. Two times the earth was shaking a lot here. Watching news, getting information and waiting (we are in a safe place, just to let you know). Still the earth is shaking from time to time…
Greetings from Phuket and a safe journey and good hope to everyone!
Sascha and Kerstin