Angkor area

5 02 2010

We bought a three day pass to the Angkor area as there are over 100 temples to look at in the area.  We have been busy all day from early morning to “late” in the evening for two days now and have been loving every minute of it.

We are still as much in love with the Cambodians as on the first day.  The people are just wonderful and extremely happy and they are easy to communicate with since almost all of them speak very good English.  According to where we have traveled, both here and in the past, there seems to be a correlation between how little money people have and how happy they seem.

For tomorrow morning we have saved the crown jewel – Angkor Wat at dawn.  Therefore I’m going to leave this post short and I promise to give a full update with a lot of pictures next time we have a long bus ride :)

There are striking news from ABT were we found the Backgammon board again.  We had kind of agreed to cancel the backgammon series since Elínborg only just learned the game and thought that she didn’t stand a chance, even though she won the first game (with my help).  So we agreed and kind of assumed that I would win the next game and then we could retire the backgammon board.  So we stared playing and Elínborg won not once but twice so she is leading the backgammon part by three victories to null.  Quite impressive ;)

I just updated the map on the right so check that out!
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Island hopping

19 01 2010

Ko Tao is a cozy little island (3×7 km or so), the first of the three islands in the Gulf of Thailand that will be our home for the next couple of weeks or so. We stayed for two nights at Freedom Beach on the south end of Ko Tao in a basic hut with Charlie the Cockroach, a few lizards and mosquitoes that were quite happy to have some fresh Nordic blood while I wrote the last post ;) Even though the hut could have been better everything else at Freedom beach was top-notch and the resort was obviously undergoing a major refurbishment like a lot of places around here. The most impressive at Freedom Beach were the beaches and the coral reefs. We rented us some snorkeling gear and snorkeled for a few hours in the crystal clear turquoise colored sea above beautiful corals and colorful fishes that we have only seen in home fish tanks before. It was absolutely fantastic and started just a few meters from the shore. We had never thought snorkeling could be so much fun!

Though life

Life is tough over here :)

After two days we wanted to rent a scooter and explore the island but made an impulse decision to jump on the boat and go to the next island instead and go on a scooter there. So we took the 1 hour boat to Ko Phangan.

Ko Phangan is a lot bigger island and is mostly famous for the huge Full Moon parties held here …every full moon. Up to 30.000 people come here on the full moon during the high season to drink, smoke, snort and dance the night away. They have stretched the full moon concept a bit so now there are full moon, black moon, blue moon and a few other parties going on so basically you can party no matter where the moon and the sun are positioned at that moment. This all happens on the south side of the island so all the oldies and the nerds head basically anywhere else and we went up the west coast to Hat Yao where we have just been enjoying life, exploring the North-West coast on a scooter, trying out a few hammocks and bathing in the sun.

Two things have bother us quite a bit since we came to the islands. Firstly we have hardly gotten hungry lately. It’s not that we are eating so much, it’s more that our appetite has diminished, which is a great shame because we both love to eat. Maybe it is the Beach God telling us that we need to shed a few pounds to walk his sandy beaches half-naked …who knows. I wouldn’t mind if that would be the case and he is helping us getting there.

Chocholate pancake with chocholate

Chocholate pancake with extra chocholate on top

The other thing that has bothered us greatly is that we haven’t been able to bling our selves up. Any descent backpacker that has been in Thailand more than a week has multiple layers of bracelets and necklaces made of leather, shells, coconuts, fish bones and what not around their necks, wrists and ankles. Somehow we have not been able to follow this trend but are anxious to make up for it and will keep you updated. The next steps in the backpacking transformation are dreadlocks and huge tattoos …we’ll start with the bracelets and necklaces and take it from there.

The ladies with the bling

The ladies with the bling

The action on the ABT has been slow, only 2 games in the last 3 days. Örn won another Scrabble game after Elínborg made an incredible comeback and tried to steal the victory but couldn’t quite get there and Elínborg won a Ludo game, tieing the Ludo mini series, in an exciting Ludo mach on the beach of Hat Yao where nerves were extended and adrenaline ran high.

Exploding with tension over the Ludo game

Exploding with tension over the Ludo game

I’m having problems uploading the pictures so I’ll update this post later and insert them so keep looking :)

Until next time….
– Ö r n and E l í n b o r g –

Out of Bangkok

16 01 2010

We had three good days in Bangkok but at the same time were ready to leave when the time came. We had explored the neighborhood, seen the magnificent Grand Palace, visited Buddha temples, seen Buddha in all his seven positions (laying, standing, kneeling, etc.), gotten out of two scams and gotten friskier with the local food so we felt ready to take on Thailand!

Part of The National Museum

Part of The National Museum

Both scams were quite interesting in a way. One we had heard of from other blogs and travel books. We met a nice guy that wanted to help us to get to where we were going. We didn’t quite know where we were going but that didn’t knock him down. After a while we told him we wanted to see the Royal Palace and also the tourist office across the street. He told us that today the King would be at the Palace and the tourist office would be close until later in the day because they all wanted to salute the King. We should go and see some other Buddha that he knew of. He also told us that today the King was giving out petrol and therefore we shouldn’t pay more than 20 baht (50 cent) for any Tuk Tuk today. Right on cue a Tuk Tuk arrives and the driver carries a map which our friend uses to show us where this Buddha of his is located. They talk a bit and the driver offers to drive us to the Buddha for the 20 baht. We had already realized that something was fishy in this story so we just walked away saying we wanted to check for our selves. We walked across the street to the tourist office and there everything was in full swing and at the Palace it seemed like a normal day, not that we know what a normal day is like there but you know…

The other scam was a school book example as well, we met an old old lady that was attending the pigeons. She wanted us to take small bags of corn from her and give to the birds. When we didn’t want the bags she managed somehow to hang them on me and told me to give the corn to the pigeons which we did. When we had emptied the bags she demanded 150 baht from us (5 USD). After haggling with her a bit I paid her 7 baht and off we went.

I wouldn’t say that the scams were entertaining, well maybe the first one, but at least a bit of an experience and teaches us to be careful and take nothing for granted. At least we got off easy this time.

As I said, we have been getting friskier with the food here. We have tried some street food and snacks and everything has been really tasty. We are not eating insects or some unidentified things yet but who knows, that might come later. We have been tasting the regular Thai food like fried rice, noodles and curries and have had some Indian food as well and as I said, everything has been very good. The price on the street is about one-third of what you pay at a restaurant where you pay about 120 baht ($4) for one of those above mentioned traditional dishes. I have been a bit surprised with the price of beer here. It costs about $2 a bottle, even at seven-eleven-, which is more than in the stores both the US and Switzerland. It seems that the Thai people are on the same boat as Icelanders in breaking the universal code among men to offer cheap beer to the masses.

We left Bangkok in a VIP night bus – no less – heading towards Chumphon in the south. The bus was a nice double-decker, quite comfortable, so we were able to sleep most of the way. When in Chumphon we took a big catamaran that took us to the island of Ko Tao where we are now. Ko Tao is on of three famous islands in the Gulf of Thailand and is mostly sought out by divers. The atmosphere in the boat was quite special. Since the sea was moving a bit, people were puking all over the boat but others didn’t seem too distracted and slept the whole way. We kept somewhere in between the two groups, partly sleeping and somewhat nauseous but without getting too sick.

…and now the sport section. We have started an Asian Board-game Tour (ABT) and at first the tour will include Ludo, Backgammon and a diced Scrabble. A couple of rounds have already been played and the score so far are as follows

Ludo 1 2
Backgammon 1 0
Scrabble 0 1

On Ko Tao we rented a very basic bungalow near the ocean for two nights and headed straight for the beach. We’ll get back in touch when we’ve seen more of the island than just our beach and the coral reefs beyond :)
The view from the bungalows on Ko Tao

The view from the bungalows on Ko Tao

For those of you reading this from facebook – please drop by the blog as well for a few extra features.  We are so interested in who are reading the blog and we can’t see any statistics on facebook :(

Looking forward to hearing from you!
– Ö r n  and  E l í n b o r g –