The first visit I’ve received during the recent journey through South-East Asia was by my friend Gerald. While his wife and his daughter stayed on the Philippines, he decided to fly in for a week to spend time together in the north of Thailand, in the city of Chiang Mai and its surrounding areas.
Our Itinerary for this week has been extraordinary precise and concise – having fun, riding bikes, eating delicious food, having a couple of cold beers and – if there was enough time left – doing some sightseeing.
Gerald was a little disappointed at the beginning, because of getting just Honda 125er scooter for our excursions. In the north of Chiang Mai, towards the border with Myanmar, we’ve been riding into the small town of Pai. It’s a total of 250 km to and fro and more than 1,500 bends on a section of about 140 km. After experiencing that proper riding this scooters avoids to be overtaken on this mountainous roads, it means beeing always the fastest – even not by big, heavy motorcycles – he was quite happy again. The only constant traffic obstacles we’d to suffer were the never ending police checks – because of riding without driving license, he had to pay well once – of course without proof.
Our adventure came to an end – our plane arrived at 8 o’clock in the morning exactly in time at Bangkok Airport. My youngest son Maxi and his girlfriend Jacky arrived one hour earlier, though we were able to meet directly at the airport and Gerald could catch his flight back to Manila.
Both were just 20 years old at this time and they have been on their first big journey – it has been really a great honour for me introducing them into their initial far-east experiences.
After a long day sightseeing in Bangkok, we hopped at the following morning on the next bus for a 7 hours ride to Siem Reap. The main attraction there is the world heritage site of Angkor Wat and its surrounding temple complexes – one of the most impressive historical area I ever had seen before.
Both were very interested and enduring, so we spent 3 days there for visiting almost the whole area at temperatures of 40 degrees in the shade, before we took the daily morning boat trip 8 hours down to Phnom Penh.
Our time together ended with several days in Ho Chi Minh City, the former Vietnamese capital Saigon. Sightseeing, shopping and above all the extensive enjoyment of the nightlife were a worthy ending to our shared journeys.
While the two moved on for a week to a Thai island to add some beach and sea holidays, I was already back on the bus on the way to Siem Reap, because the next day the next group was already approaching.
My girlfriend Sabine, her cousin Günter with his wife Brigitte – also friends flew in for 2 weeks. The reception at the airport was befitting in a Tuk Tuk – the first drink in the evening somewhat tedious, because they had a 30-hour journey behind them.
Two days in Angkor Wat were perfectly adequate at temperatures beyond 40 degrees. We have bravely visited the most important temples before headingg south by boat to Phnomh Penh.
After a short stopover in Phnom Penh we went by cab to the south – to Kampot. It is this region in Cambodia where literally the pepper grows. The biketour was quite exhausting due to the heat and the dust – nevertheless, it is a picturesque area, an old French colonial town spreading a special flair.
At the end of our common days, we went to the island of Koh Rong for some time, rented simple beach houses to get at least some beach holiday and rest from the previous hardships, before the three had to return back home. It were really very pleasant and relaxed weeks together – real holiday.
After a last drink at the roof top bar of our hotel, I’d to catch next morning the bus heading north to Siem Reap, while the three were on the way to the airport.
My two mates Günter and Mandi from Graz were approaching on the same day from Graz – this time I came a bit too late and could’t pick them up from the airport. For me, it was the same program again – Angkor Wat. It was now my fourth visit to the temple complexes, the third time within a month – I know definitely every stone by its nick name now. However, the two of them have been also very enduring at almost inhuman temperatures.
This time without any stop in Phnom Penh, it took us an entire day from Siem Reap to Kampot by Taxi. A day trip on our Scooters exploring the outback had to be enough – because the main goal of this stay was recreation. We wanted to get as soon as possible to the island of Koh Rong.
We had 8 nights a private beach house – our living room was 20 m away – the restaurant of the Palm Beach Resort. Actually, I had already reserved accommodation at another beach – but they messed it up. That we had to move to the Palm Beach, was really a lucky conincidence.
The weather was perfect and we had a lot to laugh about. The highlights of this stay were on the one hand a cooking course, therefore we’d to visit a nearby village by kayaks.
The second were our internal billiard championships. Every day between 6 and 8 games ensured enough fun. To the result on our scoreboard I’ve to say the following: I started as a geek into this competition with elite semi-pros and was after a tough fight ultimately excellent third – one of the two favorites was penultimate and the other only two places before me.
Unfortunately also this time passed by. While my mates flew home from Phnom Penh, I once again sat on the bus – now heading for Saigon. It was the first time after seven weeks beeing really alone. This weeks were relaxing and very pleasant, although this program was exhausting too. Will prepare me calmly, sort all the necessary things out for my next travels – there is finally still a lot to do here in South-East Asia.