Where can I repair dreadlocks in Bangkok
Good afternoon everyone and one thing in advance. Yes, this picture is from Thailand, and no, not taken now, but a year and a half ago. I'll hand in the others when I'm back, the texts come live from the internet cafe - which I'm not even sitting in yet because I'm writing these few lines before my departure. Somehow very strange to mess up reality in its flow of time! So. If you look at this page after January 23, 2009, then I am really in Bangkok.
January 25, 2009
When you get on a plane in Munich, you are firmly convinced that you still have everything under control. Five hours later, three hours later, it is seven o'clock in the morning in Dubai and home in the middle of the night. You notice how something sticks in your soul like a little chicken with a rotten tooth in your calf. And another six hours later (another three hours time difference later) it is probably only noon in Bangkok in the evening and at home it is probably only noon, but you do not know that exactly anymore because the timelessness has changed has already spread in your body.
Khao San Road, loud and full of people, and the time that can no longer be fixed flies by. At Donna Guesthouse, the cleanest tip in all of Banglampoo, there are no more rooms available. The lady from another guesthouse mediates and so you walk at nine o'clock in the evening - at home it may be afternoon if the time hasn't gone on vacation or even completely gone - behind a Thai through the noisy crowds and end up in a mold-smelling one , damp, dark storage room on Kao San Road. And it doesn't matter, because once the time is lost, a lot becomes irrelevant.
Anyway - today I'm moving to Donnas. In exactly an hour or so. I will put my aching jetlag head on a clean pouch and be very, very satisfied ...
In the search for happiness this would be a point of reference: a place where you can sleep well.
January 26, 2009
Chris was so nice and sent me a few umlauts as well as a sharp ß and a question mark - THANK YOU! I keep forgetting something like that at home, it just doesn't want to get into my head! I got the room at Donna's, cozy and familiar.
Wake up at seven o'clock this morning, the course starts at eight-thirty and I'm not sure if I'll be as fast in the morning as during the day. And: much faster. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that Khao San Road is almost deserted at this time and you can move INCREDIBLY quickly due to the lack of heat. For the first time I see which shops there are here when the many stalls (man, I'm proud of my umlauts !!!) have not yet been set up and block the view of the house front.
The only disadvantage: there are still no coffee stands. I manage 150 meters before I fall into a 7/11 with almost zero caffeine in my blood and drag myself to the machine with the last of my strength. An American, who is equally grumpy in the morning, explains to me that the bag with the coffee is ready to be poured and I believe this madness, sleepy as I am. With the help of a plastic spoon, I then try to slit open the bag, which is now floating helplessly in the hot water, and finally get my coffee.
The beach pirates at the pier are still missing, so I pay the same amount for my boat ticket as the locals and not five more bhat than usual. On board: school children, business people and monks. Incidentally, they don't have coffee for breakfast, like I do, but preferably a meat soup with rice and spicy things in it, VERY spicy things, to be precise, or just rice with meat fried in what for me seems strange crumbs.
Incidentally, from today I am for the continuous shipping of the Salzach from Oberndorf to Elsbethen, with a transfer point at the Solstufe Lehen.
At least three lines, one of them express, from Oberndorf to the city center in 30 minutes. Well, ok, the local train can do that too. Nearly. Due to the wonderful transport connections, I'm half an hour early in the Wat Po Massage School and I have a thousand years to fill out my registration form.
Our group is very diverse and, as usual in my life, I remember the stories more than the names. So there is a masseuse from England, a marketing guy from Canada who has a torso like a quarterback but doesn't play football, a Thai boxer from Brazil, two French women, two Japanese women, one of them with an extremely bright toddler, a man who looks like an Englishman, but lives in India, a guy from San Francisco, and yeah, I sure have forgotten who now, but it was a bit much today!
After the theoretical introduction (in which I constantly understand T-shirt instead of teacher and all kinds of misunderstandings arise) we are instructed in part one of the Thai yoga massage. Watch, do, lie down, play victim. In the afternoon, after an incredibly spicy lunch with lots of meat, I lie half asleep on my mat, a two-year-old Japanese woman is dancing on my thighs and an incredibly strong Brazilian is pressing on my arms and is terrified of hurting me.
The following prejudices could be confirmed today: French women only appear in pairs, Brazilians are much more afraid of hurting women than is commonly assumed, Japanese children are poorly brought up and Thai women do not get wrinkles when they get older only if they are worried (and teach Thai yoga massage).
The following could also be determined: everything is completely different anyway and increasingly difficult to distinguish where the foreign begins and thus perhaps the authenticity of it. And that was now especially for you, dear Stefan, and the realization of this matter is another step towards happiness. And yes, happiness for me also means having certain parts of my language available, thanks again, Chris !!!
Today I realized several things. First: it's not January 28th, but January 27th. Second: if you believe that you can outsmart jetlag through hyperactivity, you were wrong, because it will come sooner or later. Third, if you're awake at one in the morning and don't go back to sleep until four, you'll be muddy the next day.
At seven o'clock the alarm clock rings and I fall out of the clouds of a deep, eerie dream. The air conditioning is off, it must have already been 28 degrees in the room and I feel completely overwhelmed. Two coffees from the Burgerking - sorry, sorry, and that for me as an opponent of globalization! - don't help. You can drink coffee here, by the way, but please don't expect any Viennese or Trieste coffee house culture. But it's always better than in Alaska! And here I speak from bitter experience ...
At nine we gather in the large classroom and pray to a God I don't know. Or maybe to my God in a language I don't understand? Maybe just to the big guy out there who does weird and wonderful things to us. However, the massaging just works better if you've prayed beforehand. And the day turns out to be extremely intense. I realize that I am probably the only one who has kept to the clothing instructions from kneeling and without a neckline and shoulders covered and sweating like in the sauna. The quarterback arrived today with a skin-tight T-shirt with wings on it, the little Indian looking Indian in a babydoll-like short panties and white shirt and one of the French women in white linen with a breathtaking neckline. I'm sweating in my specially bought long-sleeved shirt.
Nevertheless, the day is more than insightful and after six massages I feel like poor, little Uma Thurmann in Kill Bill 2, although of course I am neither buried alive nor have anyone's eyes open, but somehow I can no longer feel my knees , above all that operated, and on the way to the boat I think about whether I should just drive to the final stop and see what is there, the main thing is not have to go more.
Findings, part two, after an ice-cold shower and a great Singha, which of course only serves to combat pain: Appreciate the things that you have mastered, respect the things that you have not yet mastered and allow yourself to learn everything that makes you happy. So, people, grab the instruments, learn to sing, make music, skydive and / or dance, because otherwise the angels in heaven won't know what to do with you!
Day three, step 5 of the course.
My knees crack when I get up.
Tomorrow we still have time to practice, the exam is on Friday.
Realization of yesterday evening: even if you speak a foreign language very, very well, the exactness of the terms is usually lacking. A fruitful, in-depth conversation is exactly dependent on it.
Realization number two: even if you speak the same mother tongue as the other person, there is no guarantee that such a conversation will occur. OK. I admit it: I already knew that 🙂
In Bangkok the sky is sparkling blue at seven in the morning and within half an hour everything turns gray and cloudy. And muggy!
I heard that it was snowing at home and I am so sad that I am not there.
It is shortly after five in the afternoon and the day's work is done: a six-hour course, with the ship back to Banglampoo, buy water, shower, wash my clothes (in the massage course I always sweat so that it is a pleasure). I don't understand how others have been wearing the same t-shirt for the fourth day. My laundry always needs a day to dry.
Every day I watch with joy how the traffic on the river, which by the way is called Mae Nam Chao Phraya and is NOT shown in this picture, works. There are express boats for which you pay 13 bhat per trip, regional boats that dock everywhere (9 bhat), ferries that go from one bank to the other, tourist boats, taxi boats, large cargo ships, tugs with small cargo ships in tow and all kinds of small boats . And everything criss-cross! And somehow it always works out and somehow you always get where you want to go. At the moorings the captain is told how to moor, then people get on and off and the journey continues. The whistler jumps on the boat last, usually damn late for me. For days I've been wondering what it looks like at Pier 30, I always get off at 15. Tomorrow I'll just stay seated and drive to the final stop.
The temporal confusion has still not subsided. There is also massive financial confusion. I have picked up 8500 Bhat since I've been here, which seems to be an AMAZING amount to me. It's just under 200 euros. With this money I drove from the airport to Banglampoo, paid for my room for eight days, ate and drank, spent over an hour on the Internet every day, bought two summer pants and two LONG SLEEVE T-shirts, and in between I eat fruit and go by boat. Somehow not much then. But you get confused. At some point there comes a point where you don't want to spend more than 100 bhat on a t-shirt. 450 bhat are around ten euros. It's very, very strange.
The language is also very strange. And also the English that the Thai speak. For example, if you're too quick to massage, they'll say s-H-low. Like the Italians, they sometimes add letters to make it easier for them to act and we find that incredibly cute.
Did you know that the most common special character in German is ü followed by ä? I just noticed because I take every umlaut from Chrissen's list with copy and paste. A trifle in the face of eternity! Speaking of language and such: the supposed Indian, I must have misunderstood something during the introductory round, his English is so bad ... he is GERMAN! Well And that's what you discover after four days. We were both interviewed in the course today, for Spiegel online. With photos. And then I noticed that he is not an Indian * giggle *
Massaging Paola from Italy is great, she is very small and delicate. Jack from Ireland is not that easy again, the man has a good 120 kilos and is only called ninja jack because he sweats like a donkey and for this reason wears a headband. The Japanese child always talks to me and I then speak back in my language because they don't understand me one way or the other, neither in German, nor in English, nor in Austrian. And it's incredibly good to hear your own language.
Today's findings: Experiencing a lot of new things or learning a lot new sets the brain in motion and that means that you have to talk about it.
The terrible fifth day (yesterday) was the most horrific day I have seen in a long time while traveling, with terrible homesickness and an insatiable desire for finely chopped bacon, black bread and Stiegl beer, but the fifth days are generally horrific, no matter where and with whom you are located.
Not all people are happy, even though they come from Europe and have every reason to finance such a trip. Apparently I'm blessed with this joy, day five or not, but most of the time I don't notice it anymore. Thanx for the happiness, I can only say. It's a gift.
Today is Friday, you can tell by the even larger number of market vendors who gather along Khao San Road in the early hours of the morning. On the way to the pier I pass a school every day and today, like the whole week, around 400 schoolchildren - dark blue pleated skirts or shorts - gather in the schoolyard at eight in the morning and do morning sports there. To an extremely strange sounding pling-pling music under the direction of an elderly teacher, who speaks into a microphone and who can't get by with a grin. It reminds me a little of the Brusseliese on Pippi Longstocking. Today it is already cloudy in the morning and incredibly humid.
The morning is spent again practicing with the participants of the course that started on Tuesday. All of them are Thai and find it hilarious to be massaged by us. I panic about crushing the very small woman I was assigned, she weighs about forty kilos and is very, very small. When I look for the second of the two massage lines on the back, there is already the shoulder blade - how can it be any different with someone whose back is just two hands wide ?????
After lunch the examiner comes and he reminds me of the teacher in the school yard, no grin either. I almost collapse from fear of exams and I'm so happy that Bob from Taiwan has been assigned to me, because I've already massaged him and that somehow gives me confidence. Besides, the non-quarterback is next to me and he seems to know everything. Which turns out to be wrong, but what the heck, I think I am convincing in the theory part, because when I say down all the does and don’ts, the examiner raises his eyebrows. Or maybe my English is so bad ... However: DONE.
But now I am happy. Thousands of photos are taken, email addresses are exchanged, I get an invitation to paraglide in Brazil and one to have a coffee in Trieste and then fate will scatter us in all directions. With our chic blue shoulder bags that we got from school with the gold certificates in them. At least they look golden to us! I have to show mine to the nice guesthouse man and he thinks it's really great.
And because the wind of fate is often not quite so strong that it can blow everyone, everyone in all directions, a few who cannot leave each other meet now, at Ranee’s and I will stop now so that I am not too late ...
I did NOT go to the terminus today! That follows! I need to know what's there. For today a little insight that is somehow big: do not be afraid.
We are celebrating our graduation at Ranee's and there new linguistic monstrosities emerge: after translating back and forth a story told by Leonardo, who speaks Portuguese and Thai English, of two French women who speak moderate English, but one of them speaks Polish is powerful, which did not help at all in this context, the following insight emerged. Leonardo is a Thai boxer from Brazil (that's right) and his best friend is a tiger, whom he feeds ladyboys, while Cathie and her friend's favorite pastime is going to ping-pong shows. After the three of them look at each other as if a train had passed through the guest garden, I don't add anything to this matter, firstly because it would have caused even more confusion, secondly because I almost fall from my armchair laughing.
Oh well.I ask myself whether the world language Esperanto would not make sense after all, does someone speak that here? On the other hand, I haven't had as much fun with linguistic confusion as yesterday ... with Esperanto I would have missed that 😉
Finally: Leonardo is a little Supers-a-tar in the eyes of the Thai (an a is inserted here ...) and there is also a fansite - I don't want to withhold that!
February 1, 2009, Bangkok, 30 degrees
The Thai find it pleasantly cool and say that it gets REALLY hot in March and April. Yesterday we, Sabina (my dear cousin, who is in Bangkok for a few days before continuing to Bali) and I, went by boat all afternoon. First to the end of the world, where it looks very different from what I imagined. So: the last stop in the Bangkok area is untouristic, there is a medical clinic and the many small scheduled boats that are decorated with flowers as well as tuk tuks, trucks or buses dock there. It is the coach house, so to speak, but without a roof. The boat just turns around in the middle of the river and if it kept going we would eventually arrive at the sea. Between Banglampoo and the End of the World, housing estates, industrial areas, countless beautiful little temples and stilt houses are lined up. The small houses on the wooden piles are built in an adventurous way, with electricity pylons in between that stand in the water. From Banglampoo in the other direction you get to Wat Po temple after five stops and after a few more to the city center with gigantic skyscrapers, the Skytrain and an incredible number of people. We get off in Chinatown and I walk to the train station to buy my ticket to Chaing Mai. Walking tourists are something unacceptable to the myriad of enterprising tuk tuk drivers and if I had accepted all the requests to take a tuk tuk on my way to the train station, then I could probably drive tuk tuk to the end of the world. And there I was already today.
On the drive home from the train station, I look at my ticket for the sixth time with joy and discover that the sleepy ticket seller has put me in a men's compartment. Great. Tomorrow there again and clarify that. Tomorrow away from today, because today I was at Chatachan Market all day, however I get it right. About a million people push another million people down the narrow aisles of the market, there is EVERYTHING. Jewelry, jeans, clothing, incense, dishes, plants, everything, everything, everything. After a few hours the human mind is probably no longer receptive, at least not mine and I don't even want to act anymore. What nobody understands in Thailand. When I buy an anklet, the retailer lets me down a little because he can't believe that I wanted to pay the full price (39 Bhat) without contradiction. So do things again tomorrow. On Tuesday by night train to Chiang Mai. I'm curious. It's supposed to be so terribly cold up there, the lady who I'm having my dreads repaired with told me yesterday. 15 degrees at night, you have to dress very warmly! I will take the very nice lady's warnings seriously and take my winter sweater with me!
My nightmares usually come true in Thailand. When I drove a taxi during my studies, the following nightmare haunted me: I get a radio order, drive to the inn, go in and say that the taxi is there. Four people go out with me and instead of my taxi, only my motorcycle is parked there. This is how it is done in Thailand. Mother and father on the scooter, in between two children of elementary school age, at the front of the day a two year old. Twenty tourists with luggage on the back of a small truck. Two hitchhikers with large rucksacks on a scooter, with the driver of course. And yesterday my paramedic nightmare came true. Emergency on Khao San Road. Before the ambulance, a converted Nissan panel van, arrives, the ambulance and paramedics rush to the MOFA. Emergency bag slung over his shoulder. I sit with my mouth open in a cocktail bar and watch the action, while a pale Belgian woman who is looking for contact keeps telling me that 'my husband is with the paramedics', 'my husband was living in Thailand for two years' and that 'my husband' and I will come back to Thailand next year to live here '.
Yes, that's nice for all of us anyway.
At the end of the world there is a clock tower and a clinic.
A train ticket is carefully checked right at the train station.
As long as you deal exclusively with traffic in nightmares, these are harmless.
If you want to buy a tuk tuk, you should look around on this page:
It's deepest night in Europe and you will probably all be listening to the thoughts of your upholstery. Everyday life rages here at full speed. It's cloudy and very, very humid.
Yesterday evening: Visiting the hairdresser, reworking the dreads neatly and working on the extensions well again, the few that are left that have not fallen into the landscape while skydiving or riding a motorcycle ...
The hairdresser puts his customers on a very small chair (I'll just say Mammut, dear Alexandra !!!) on the street and starts to work. The Khao San Road from the height of a two-year-old, protected behind stands with examples of what you can do here (pigtails, dreads, hair extensions in all colors), looks much less hectic than from the perspective of a tall person. I see what unsuitable footwear people wear, how much their feet hurt as a result, I see a thousand lower leg sunburns and am greeted warmly by the toddlers who are not numb from the heat asleep in their prams. One of them offers me french fries. In addition, I have now been immortalized in a number of vacation photos and vacation videos and for the first time I can feel firsthand how great it is when you are simply photographed without being asked if you mind.
If you ask very politely if you can take a picture, you are a student who wants to do an interview. On the subject of what Thailand can improve in tourism. Unfortunately, he doesn't understand what I was trying to say. He wrote his questions on a piece of paper, apparently translated by someone else, and tried to read them correctly and seriously. I also like to study again !!!
No knowledge yet for today, the day is still too young. Now train station, then little India, buy the fabric for mom, then discoveries.
Little India, Soi 1, everything is here !!! And even more than at the Chatachack Market, in an even smaller space. Sugar items in all colors and shapes, fabrics, from Indian to Chinese, food, drink, fake gold jewelry, real gold jewelry, fish, plastic jewelry, all mixed up on a covered market area the size of an airport. I almost despair of people and things and tight and hot and my only consolation is, as so often, that I am at least taller than everyone else. After a good two and a half hours, the market spits me out in a completely different place than the one I entered, and I have serious difficulties orienting myself. At some point I end up in an air-conditioned shopping center and eat Thai fast food with Thaikids hanging out. Thank god, at least it's cold.
Hours later, I'm back at the boat and realize that although I have the feeling that I've been turned through a meat grinder of thought, at least I've done everything I wanted. Train ticket clear, fabric bought, been to a tower that inspired my fear of heights but gave me a wonderful view of Wat Po, bought massage utensils, done.
Now I want the same band to play in the bar across the street as yesterday, an ACDC blend in Thai, the singer would have done Bon Scott all credit, and if that doesn't work I would like to play a little guitar with Silvia, for example Creedance Clearwater Revival.
OK. Then it's not possible.
You can't always have what you want.
Sometimes it helps on the path to development if you don't always get what you want.
Ever tried to get a corkscrew in Thailand?
Well then good luck!
But, preferably everything from the beginning: After a very peaceful day in Bangkok, I board the train to Chiang Mai at 7.30 p.m. from Bangkok. Since the first class was full, I brought a bottle of wine and a corkscrew was not easy to get! I looked for it in Bangkok for four days.
The train leaves a good hour late, I still can't quite imagine how sleeping will work. But after about half an hour's journey, a smart uniformed man arrives (EVERYONE is uniformed on the train. A ticket uniformed man comes in a blue uniform, a man who notes who goes how far, uniform with lots of gold and a brown uniformed man with a gun) , unlocks the oversized overhead lockers above our heads, folds them down and lo and behold: here is my bed. The man covers the mattress, the head cushion and lays out a wrapped blanket. I watch him with my mouth open, to the amusement of the Thai people present.
Then everyone slips into their fresh bed, a curtain is hung and there I am now, watching a cockroach flee out of the corner of my eye and want to open my wine bottle. If not first class, cockroachless. And the corkscrew breaks off when you turn it for the first time!
Nevertheless, I slept well in my Thai-sized bed, with my head and toes firmly jammed, and was so tired from shaking the train that at some point I didn't care about the cockroach that kept popping up on my curtain ...
The train is like this ... I am lucky that there is a flower festival in Chiang Mai on the weekend, the world-famous flower festival !!! And that's why all trains are fully booked. So there is no first class back either ... and I'll try again, with my bottle 😉
I explore Chiang Mai by bike. Driving on the left with my luck is not compatible with motorized vehicles, and I've forgotten my driver's license at home anyway. A force from above knew what was good for me. So today already four hours on the road, visited the very famous temples Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Sing and drove around the city center once, which is very easy because you only have to must drive along the old moat. The traffic is breathtaking, lots of one-way street. Cycling is absolutely hip, at least among the tourists and tours are offered on every street corner. The only problem is that the tours that interest me out of town are of no interest to anyone else and they don't do it with just one person. So tomorrow I'll go alone, the only question is in which direction?
Kneeling in the temple for twenty minutes is as painful as a whole Thai massage. This keyboard enables research into the hitchhiking food culture in Chiang Mai over the past six years. If you can't find your way home from Fulpmes, you become so cautious that you like to plan your way out of Chiang Mai beforehand.
February 5th, Chiang Mai
Doi Suthep is a 1676 meter high mountain 16 kilometers northwest of Chiang Mai. Almost at the summit is the incredibly famous Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and even faster at the summit is the Royal Palace.
Contrary to the opinion of the author, the distance from the outskirts of Chiang Mai to the temple cannot be covered with a one-speed rental bike and contrary to the opinion of insiders who advised the author, it is a little more than 15 minutes to go uphill are driving. But better: everything in sequence. After leaving the hotel, checking in at the Smile Guesthouse (WITH POOL) and organizing a new rental bike, it was late morning. I plunge into Chiang Mai's city traffic, imagine a city with the same number of inhabitants as Salzburg and NO public transport, which means that EVERYONE is driving a car or moped. Everyone, except me, because I am the only cyclist far and wide who moves on the six-lane arterial road towards the end of the city.
After a little over an hour of heavy city traffic, I arrive at the Chiang Mai Zoo and from there it's uphill. Switchbacks. One, two, three, eight hundred? I cycle and cycle and cycle, sitting or standing, sometimes the route is so steep that I have to push. After about two hours there is a sign saying that there are still eight kilometers to the temple and that I have only driven four and I am a little desperate. My water reserves, one and a half liters, I believe that it is not far anyway (insider tip) and so I push red-cheeked my bike bravely on.
An elderly Dane who is afraid for my health stops with his moped and asks if I want to go with him! He's never seen someone lock his bike to a tree so quickly and I'm already sitting on the moped. And off. From the perspective of a moped driver, eight kilometers are a breeze and the remaining four kilometers to the Royal Palace are not worth mentioning! The royal palace is wonderful, or rather, the park of the palace is wonderful, you are not allowed into the palace because there is still a king who always seems to be here.
The temple is apparently one of the most sacred because there are tons of people there to pray. 306 steps lead up from the parking lot, then you have to take off your shoes to enter the temple area. Hendrik, the Dane, who is a golf professional, has been coming to Thailand for over 30 years and has not seen anything but golf courses, is stopped and a little lady forces him into long trousers. Nix shorts in Temple!
I do a few laps around the sanctuary, with flowers, incense sticks and candles. I don't know what the others are praying, I pray the rosary, that certainly fits well. Then, curious about who I am, I go into a dark room. A very strict monk sits in it and indicates that I have to get on my knees. Then he begins to bless everyone present, he sprinkles us with tons of holy water and prays to it. Then he throws white ribbons at the ends of his knees, which he ties while praying. I have to look so confused that he asks where I'm from and then explains to me that this bond will bring me happiness for the rest of my life. That's great!
Now it's late afternoon and we're looking for my bike. That is actually still there, on its tree, between kilometers seven and eight. When cycling back I stop at a waterfall, there are countless along the road, all of which belong to Doi Suthep National Park. And when I'm down at the zoo, I realize that it has only been uphill before, because I roll back to the beginning of Chiang Mai without a single pedal.
Incredibly tired now.
A wonderful day.
The Huay Teung Thao Reservoir is a reservoir about ten kilometers outside of Chiang Mai. Contrary to the first statements of the travel guide, the journey does not take place on a tranquil cycle path along a canal, but on the three-lane arterial road. The bike path is probably only just being built ... maybe the copy of the Lonely Planet got into my hands due to adverse circumstances from the future. Or, what would be much worse, in the end, it's really true that many of the Lonely Planet writers haven't been to the countries they write about. As we heard in the Luger lecture on January 15th. Which brings me back to the initial question, which also arose from this lecture, the question of authenticity. If you are the only cyclist among at least eight million moped riders, do you change what is happening around you so much that it is no longer authentic, or do you change what is happening in a direction that has to go anyway, sooner or later?
The reservoir comes and does not come and the cars roar around me. Finally I discover a small dirt road that goes away from the road and turn into it. Dusty but much more convenient than the main road. The reservoir is very far from Chiang Mai and probably a very well-known local recreation area, only that nobody comes here at this time of the year. I am almost all alone. A couple of fishermen are sitting on the bank, a couple of people, long-sleeved and with long pants (anyway, it's only twenty degrees, it felt like forty for me) sit in the shade and eat. I circle the lake, on the north-western bank it goes out into the landscape, flat and cultivated with rice, in the north is the big mountain. I think to myself how cool it would be to ride out into the countryside, on and on, but that's probably not a good idea with the one-way bike.
Everything around the lake is full and green, rice, bananas and vegetables that I don't know. The air is clear. And like yesterday, the way back - after a long rest at the lake - is only downhill and it is much easier than the journey there. In addition, I pass a wonderful cafe on the way, where the Thai laugh once again, that someone comes by bike.But there is world class cappuccino and passion fruit soda.
I had breakfast in a cafe run by an overweight Australian called Pirats Cove. The only person who looks like a pirate within a radius of 20 kilometers is me.
The world is very, very small.
In the evening I meet Paola from the massage course at the world-famous flower festival. Paola, who comes from Trieste, the only city for which I could become a monarchist. Why did we give Trieste and keep VIENNA? This terrible, huge Vienna, in which everyone is addicted and one understands a Tyrolean as little as in Barcelona? Trieste would have been an option. And Vienna? Leave the Hungarian? Or the Slovaks?
No matter. At the flower festival in Chiang Mai I meet Paola, who comes from my favorite city besides Salzburg and that's reason enough to sit in a rock'n'roll bar until they have played everything we wanted ...
Hotel California. I love Passion Fruit Juice. I love to travel by rail. I think it's okay that Thai don't understand me on the phone. I look forward to going home. Heaven, something happened.
Getting up early is the order of the day, because the Flower Festival parade starts at 8 a.m. Thousands of people line the street, all armed with cameras and video cameras. The flower festival has only been around for 33 years, every year a flower queen is elected and the highlight of the festival is the parade, on which both the different districts of Chiang Mai and the villages of the province present themselves. A colorful mix of brass bands from the various colleges, who play pretty much everything from Abba to Deep Purple that you ever wanted to hear about brass music ...
A lot of space is always left between the individual parade participants so that the music does not overlap and so the parade stretches from the train station along the entire main street to the city park - a distance that took me about an hour on foot!
In four hours - if everything goes well - my train will leave for Bangkok. Paola said that she was eight hours late on the drive to Chiang Mai ... I will probably stock up on a little snack ...
The traditional Thai house is a pile building, because earlier, until the 19th century, in Thailand was built principally on the water, on rivers or their side canals. The ground floor was at water level - there were boat docks in most of the houses - and consisted only of a reception room. Here you had to take off your shoes, as is still the case in traditional households today, and only then were you allowed to go up to the living area. A traditional Thai house is sparsely furnished, people ate on the floor and sat in a circle. That is why so much emphasis was placed on extreme cleanliness and taking off your shoes.
How do I know all this?
Well I went to Jim Thompson's house today!
Jim Thompson was an American architect, born in 1906, who ended up in Asia during World War II. He fell in love with Thailand (the country!), Decided to live here and soon discovered the quality of Thai silk.
Thailand probably owes it to Jim Thompson that his silk became famous all over the world, because he brought the export of the valuable fabrics, some with his own designs, to flourish. The man, who is very interested in art and culture, acquired a large collection of objects of value and objets d'art and had a house built in Bangkok that is in the classic Thai style on the outside, but on the inside is a mixture of several Asian and European cultures. The house was actually made up of five old houses. And because there are art objects from ten centuries (!) There and this was very much appreciated by the Bangkok art scene, Thompson opened his house to the public while he was still alive. Because the poor man disappeared without a trace on a trip to Malaysia in 1967 while walking.
A great story, I think, and I am now in the Israeli connection that connects the backyards (with the Muay Thai boxing ring and the tailoring) with Khao San Road. You can either just take it as an abbreviation or have a beer here, eat Israeli food or free internet ...
My room at Donna's was free for me despite a reservation by telephone and the luggage I left behind is still there, what a wonderful day! That is certainly due to the blessed white bracelet that I hold like the apple of my eye.
February 9, Bangkok, eight o'clock in the morning
Ever tried to get a pair of firm-sole sneakers, size 40, in Bangkok? Well then good luck!
Outside in front of the internet cafe a little boy burns golden paper boats in a metal barrel and they play Elton John and I get the blues. Not that Elton John regularly tears my heart out of my body, only the ricochets can do that, but they play this song that then became Lady Diana's song and I have to remember that it was MY FIRST JOURNEY ALONE, in the year where Prince Charles and Lady Diana got married. It was 1981, I was thirteen and with a host family in England and at home I still have the mug with Lady Diana and Prince Charles as the wedding couple on it. And now I have been traveling alone for so many years and I think with a lot of sorrow that I am probably the only person who can keep a cup longer than my travel companions!
Today must be a very high Buddhist holiday, because when I arrive at Wat Po Massage School, the crowds are piling up in front of the temple. I have to pick up my orange Wat Po t-shirt, it was off last time. And then to the City Wat across from Wat Po. It was very, very quiet there last year and we were almost alone there. But today: Buddhist holiday. I buy the classic small offering, consisting of a yellow and a white flower, three incense sticks and a small, yellow candle. It is absolutely a mystery to me who makes great sacrifices, when and why, because there are people who only come with such a small gift, while others bring whole plates full of flowers, wreaths of flowers or baskets full of flowers and food and incense. Since so many people are there this time, there seems to be a certain order (probably there always is, but I haven't checked it yet!) Where and when you give your gifts, pray, light the incense sticks and deal with what is apparently consecrated Water sprinkled the head. I very much hope that the water is not out of the river ...
So find me a slow woman and follow her inconspicuously so that I do everything in the right order. First take off your shoes, then go to the shrine, kneel down, open the container, hand in the flowers separately, light the incense sticks and put them in a vessel with sand, light the candle and put it on a metal grate, then pray, only then go to the main temple . That's how it works!
Then, to escape the crowds, I take the ship to the end of the world one more time. Because today is a major holiday, at the end of the world there is no longer just an ancient tower, but also a huge market that is not here on weekdays. Or didn't I see him the last time? Here it is called Nonthaburi and that is no longer in the travel guide. From here you can take a three hour boat tour to a village outside Bangkok for just 100 bhat. And the market has some of the strangest foods I've ever seen. Grilled chicken that's as flat as if a car had driven over it, raw fish in a bamboo basket, sun-dried and then grilled fish (ok, that's also available in Khao San) and sweets in the brightest colors.
On the way back I sit at the bow next to the driver and let the wind blow in my face. Have I already told you that I am a pirate?
Tomorrow at this time I'll be in Bali! A relatively spontaneous decision, Sabina is there and says it is so beautiful and I think to myself, when will I come back to this corner of the world, so why not! For now I say goodbye Bangkok, goodbye for now, dear friends, because I think Internet cafes don't look as good there as it does here! If so - reports will follow. Because the sneakers, I need them to climb the Batur, an active volcano in Bali. I hope that it works!!! And now, dear Monika & Elisabeth, I need my socks for the first time. For the flight.
February 14, Bangkok
Bali is not a country for internet rats unless they have their own notebook with them. Arrived in Bali on February 10th, Denpasar, although, actually, the airport is outside of Denpasar. At the airport, background music is booming from hidden loudspeakers, which we would understand as listening to classical music on the side, but the inexperienced European ear only hears a completely wacky Pling-Plang as he wanders through replica temple fragments in the middle of the glass airport terminal in the direction of the immigration authorities. There you will be relieved by ten euros, that's how much a visa for a week costs. Those who stay longer must expect a $ 200 fine. However, the officials are so convincingly nice that you are happy to give the money for the visa 😉
The traffic in Bali is such that Thailand can be described as decent in comparison. The streets are much narrower, which makes the number of moped riders and the speed at which they move as grueling.
By the time we escaped from the traffic in the little jeep that Sabine rented, we were both wet with sweat from the exertion. The small road to Ubud, which is so lonely on the map, is actually lined with houses, shops and handicraft shops and since signage in the traditional sense is not common here, you usually firstly do not know where you are, secondly where you are going you drive and, thirdly, whether you have already arrived there.
There is a temple on the way to Ubud that is well worth seeing. I have to wear a sarong over my sweaty jeans, because here, in contrast to the temples in Thailand, it doesn't matter that you wear spaghetti straps, but it can't be pants. Men also have to wear sarongs, i.e. long scarves. People are preparing for a feast in the temple - cloths and jewelry on the buildings, women preparing huge amounts of sacrificial baskets. These cups are part of everyday life in Bali. They are about the size of the palm of my hand, consist of a single folded banana leaf and are filled with flowers and biscuits and placed in front of the door every day. And everywhere. In front of every temple, in front of every front door, in front of every shop, in front of every hotel room.
After I packed my Christmas biscuits in origami boxes last year, the banana leaf folding technique interests me enormously and I can sit down and be instructed in banana leaf folding. It's a lot harder than I thought !!!!! And even if I would have liked to have stayed here forever because it is so quiet and so beautiful, we have to move on at some point because I think that it is relatively presumptuous to drive here even in the dark ...
But at some point, Ubud. Thousands of shops, many brand labels, most of them run by Europeans, Australians and Americans, with craftsmen, temples and restaurants in between. At the moment it is quiet in Bali, monsoon season and very few tourists, many hotels in less frequented areas (everything except for the south and east coast) are selling their rooms at ridiculous prices.
I look back on February 11th, we drive from Ubud to Tampaksiring, where we visit a bone carver. In Tampaksiring there are many bone and wood carvers who create incredibly delicate, delicate things from these materials, feather-light earrings, necklaces and bracelets, incredibly beautiful.
Ubud is on this map at the southern end of the mountain range, Tampaksiring about half an hour further north, i.e. about twenty kilometers. It takes forever for the shortest stretches here, but you are rewarded with breathtaking scenery.
On the way to Tampaksiring we get lost about eighty times and experience incredible views of tiny villages, rice fields and children who are going home from school, out in the middle of nowhere, like we were sixty years ago. In Tampaksiring alone, we wander around for a good half an hour, because simply no place-name sign indicated that we are already there ...
Then it's on to Mount Batur, an active volcano in the middle of the island. Since a couple of years ago a young couple died while climbing a volcano because they had overlooked a small eruption, you can only climb the volcano with a guide. It costs 30 euros for one person, and 20 euros per person for two. Since it is currently the rainy season in Bali, nobody can know whether the ascent is even possible and I negotiate that I can decide for myself at four in the morning whether we go or not (good time for decisions of this kind, if you know me :-))
There is dinner in a modest hut, the only one of three restaurants that is open in the off-season in this village of thirty souls. The landlady would like to talk to us and thanks us for doing so, because firstly she wants to practice English and secondly she wants to learn something from the distant world, for example from the country we come from. I tell everything about Austria that moves me at the moment, that it can get brutally cold, that the mountains are simply magical, especially in winter, that it is so nice to walk in the snow, that the people in the valleys talk strangely, but are of good heart. We tell each other about our grandmothers and their closeness to nature and I get so badly homesick that I have to drink a lot of Arrack, a schnapps made from fermented fruits, wheat, sugar cane or coconut, as Wikipedia teaches me. At the time of drinking I wasn't aware of the ingredients, I suppose that knowledge wouldn't have done anything either.
In the midst of the wet and happy conversation, she shows us pictures that, she says, her husband made, wonderful, naive art of the foot of the volcano. Amazing. What is it like to live by the volcano? You have to know when you have to start walking, she says. But the last time this village was affected was in 1963, she was not born then. Then there was a big eruption in the seventies, then every five years there were smaller eruptions that never directly affected the village. Still, you have to be vigilant, she says.
And she is happy that the country's development has now also penetrated the mountains. After all, her children no longer have to walk ten kilometers to school, as she still had to. After all, there is a moped today. Not everyone can afford a car here, at least they can't.
I have no words for the insights of the day. I knew that this was the case here, but that there was someone here, a single person who is as inquisitive as it is anywhere else, who throws you back on what a traveler actually was in the past - someone who talks about elsewhere, from where he comes from, from foreign countries, customs and traditions and not someone who hides behind the walls of four-star hotels and measures the alleged authenticity of a country in the price and quality of its cocktails - that touched me deeply.
By the way, I didn't go to Mount Batur. At four o'clock in the morning, it was cloudy (eighth for all weather professionals) and it was drizzling (the guide said "it doesn't rain, it's just the wind and look over there you can see the moon") I decided that it wasn't it is very smart to climb a sloppy beaten path to a summit at 1700 meters with poorly soled sneakers. So. It will be Stromboli after all. If there is someone in this world who wants to make me happy: yes, I want to go to Stromboli with you.
What also influences my decision is the fact that I hardly slept all night, first did not fall asleep, then wild dreams, outside the door howling and barking half-feral dogs. In the morning as if by the wind, on the volcano a clearly visible plume of smoke on the side of the main crater. Was that it ??? The area around the volcano is very peculiar, the large lava areas from the 1970s are well overgrown and very fertile. Wine, tomatoes, cabbage and all kinds of different types of trees that have been planted by a Save-the-Earth group thrive here. And yet it's a very, very strange area.
The drive to the north coast leads over the highest pass of Bali, from here you have a wonderful view of the Batur, the Agung, a very difficult to climb volcano on the other side of the Batur Lake, and the sea on cloudless days. Today you can't see anything because the clouds are sticking to the pass and it's cold. Well, not really cold. I just need a long-sleeved shirt while the Balinese walk around in thick anoraks and woolen hoods. They are really cold! Down by the sea it is cloudless, the wind pushes the clouds against the mountain.The stream of tourists in Bali has decreased a lot since the attacks a few years ago and people feel it most here in the off-season away from the diving resorts. We get a wonderful room with flowers by the freshly made bed, pool, breakfast and parking space for ten euros per person.
In the evening a small band, the Dolphin Band, plays in the bar across the street, everything from Elvis to Nirvana, and I'm invited to sing along. Anyone who knows the story of the horse in the hotel bar now knows whether I did it 😉
February 13th takes us from the north to the south coast, to the water temples. Pura Tanah Lot is the name of the main temple that you can see in the picture, which means “land in the middle of the sea”. According to legend, the priest Nirartha came here in the 15th century and rested on a rock. Fishermen who saw him brought him gifts and Nirartha told them to build a temple on the rock and worship the gods of the sea there. This also happened and since then people have made pilgrimages to the temple to make their offerings there. At low tide there is only a small trickle between the mainland and the rocks and it is very easy to walk across. Tourists are not allowed to enter the temple itself, but a small cave below, where they drink from the holy water and put money in a basket as an offering. In return there is a blessing from the monk who is present and a flower is put in his hair.
Almost again on the other bank, I realize that my sunglasses are gone and go back again. My glasses fell from the well with the holy water, from which the monk fishes them out again. Can I look into the depths of souls with these glasses ?????
In Seminyak, which is not very far away, about 20 kilometers, but also a world trip away, the last day of this trip in Bali comes to an end. Restaurant by the sea, the noise, the wind ...
February 16, Bangkok
What's new from Bangkok? The girls in the massage / cosmetic studio call me “Som”, which means orange. The orange fruits, ie oranges, mandarins and clementines, are also called “Som”. The girls say that they are doing very little business this year because so many tourists have decided not to go to Thailand after the problems in November. Or maybe not spending so much time in Bangkok. They ask me if I am rich and unfortunately their English and Thai are not good enough to explain that I feel very rich to myself, rich in experience, rich in knowledge, but also not rich financially at home. For Tip, the podiatrist, I'm rich because I'm here. A flight to Europe is not affordable for them and probably never will be.
May Kaidee, where I did the cooking class last time, has a bigger restaurant now and has a dinner buffet every Saturday. In addition, her cookbook is now available in color. The recipes are printed in both Thai and English.
The crazy rickshaw driver with the flashy sunglasses is still on the Khao San and since he greets me personally, I have been in Bangkok a little too long 😉
I dug socks, sweaters and jackets out of the depths of my backpack and made everything ready for departure. My flight will be in eight hours. As always, I'm a little sad to leave the stranger and don't even think about how bad it is to be homesick. As always, the strange has changed the familiar and I probably also changed the strange and, as always, a little something comes home with me. And yes, sure. I will come back.
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