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Thailand (March 2014)
After 9 months of traveling it was a good time to recharge our batteries and Thailand certainly is not the worst place to do that ;-) We were looking forward to spending some relaxing days on the beach, eating delicious food, soaking in the sun and refreshing in the ocean.
We crossed the border between Laos and Thailand in Nong Khai. From Nong Khai we took a night train to Bangkok. There are many different ticket options (first, second and third class, A/C or fan) and we decided to book a second class A/C sleeper ticket - a good choice :-) The beds were really comfortable, we slept really well and arrived well recovered in Bangkok. You just have to be prepared to be sleeping in what feels like a fridge - as usual the A/C was turned on the coldest possible and we were happy to have a sleeping bag and warm clothes to keep us warm in the night.
MBK in Bangkok
MBK in Bangkok
As we had both already been to Bangkok before and as we had to organize our Visa for Iran we basically spent almost all our time in Bangkok running around for our Visa. It was a long and exhausting process but after lots of organizing and lots of waiting time we finally got our Visa for Iran. Lesson learnt: the next time we apply for a Visa in a foreign country we will start applying much earlier for it than we think is necessary. You never know how many unexpected things will happen - for example public holidays.
After three rather hectic days of our first Bangkok visit (we ended up going to Bangkok 3 times in total...) it was finally time for islands and beaches and taking a break from traveling and relax for 2 weeks. Taking holidays from traveling might sound decadent but everyone who was been traveling long-term will understand what we mean ;-)
We decided to go to Koh Lanta which promised tranquility and nice beaches - and we were not disappointed. We had a wonderful time there especially because we met our German friends again who we had already met in 2 other countries. Together we spent the days cruising around on our rented scooters, relaxing on the beach and eating delicious food.
Koh Lanta
on Koh Lanta
After 6 days on beautiful Koh Lanta we continued to Ao Nang together - which in comparison was really crowded and hectic. We basically only stopped there to have a day trip with a longtail boat to (besides other things) see bioluminescence in the ocean again - which we successfully did :-)
Some travelers we met on the road told us that Khao Lak was really nice so we decided to go there as our next stop. There were some beautiful beaches but the town itself was not so nice with a 4 lane road with lots of speeding traffic going through it. We rented a scooter to escape the traffic and drove into the outback / hinterland. For the first time in Thailand the ocean in Khao Lak was too warm to be still refreshing... it felt like entering a bathtub. We know this is a luxury problem but if you are sweating like crazy this is indeed a problem ;-)
sunset near Khao Lak
sunset near Khao Lak
Because the last two stops were more hectic than expected we decided to go somewhere really calm - we went to Koh Chang (the Koh Chang near Ranong - not to be confused with the much bigger Koh Chang east of Bangkok). Electricity is only available in the evening from 6 to 10, where we stayed there was no WIFI within 30 minutes walking distance and it felt really good to be "unplugged". We spent 3 days playing games, reading, riding the bungalow's owners motorbike on narrow dirt roads around the island and kayaking on the ocean.
relaxing on Koh Chang
relaxing on Koh Chang
After successfully relaxing & recharging our batteries it was time to go back to Bangkok. As we had to wait another 10 days for our Iran Visa and as our 30 days permit for Thailand was about to expire we decided to hop on a plane and fly to Singapore :-) Like this the waiting for the Visa really had its positive side :-)
After 3 months in Southeast Asia it was time for us to move on - Iran was waiting for us!
for two months in a row (middle of Vietnam until Koh Lanta in Thailand) we did not have any rain.
massages are very important and deeply integrated into Thai culture. One example: Edgar went to the barber and after the shaving received a three minute massage.
even though you always have temperatures above 32°C you always have to carry a sweatshirt with you. As soon as there is an A/C in a supermarket / bus / train they turn it up the highest possible and it feels like -5°C