Thailand II – Falang, ting ting!

Km 10430 – Gerik, Malaysia

RANONG
Back to Thailand – here you can find it again: good value accommodation, public washing and water machines, supermarkets with air-con – but something is missing as well: the modern world and comfort go along with materialism and the danger of superficiality. Maybe the people here are distracted by less essential things? Does outwardness push aside the ability to see what is inside of humans? All of the sudden, we see fashionably dressed people again and have the feeling, that this doesn’t happen in favour of naturalness and authenticy. Maybe the reality in Myanmar is less rouged? Maybe people don’t put on a mask, because the country surely has different problems? Either way, we definitely notice the contrast to Myanmar and we need a couple days to get used to Thailand again.

PRACHUA KHIRI KHAN
We head to Bangkok to run some errands. We leave the bikes in the hostel in Ranong and start hitchhiking. We never have to wait long until a nice Thai person gives us a ride and within a short time we have already covered half of the distance (300 km). That is enough for us and we get off in a city with a beach.
We face a funny town with a monkey colony in the city – fascinating animals, a enthousiastic Thai: „like humans!“. They swim, dive (in a fountain), quarrel, steal, walk around. We climb up the temple above the „monkey mountain“ and enjoy the view.

Prachua

BANGKOK
The next morning we take the slow train to Bangkok. The ticket is quite cheap (1,50 € for 8 hours), but on the contrary it is pretty slow. And that is how we arrive with a delay of 2 hours in the capital. To get to our host Toom’s house, it takes us another three hours! Gridlock! The illusion of individual transport. The illusion the everyone will be reaching the destination faster with one’s own car – to then watch the buffer bar of the car in front for hours and hours.
Bangkok is enormeous and with boat and bus it takes us almost one whole day to exchange Alex’s air mattress. After many other trails and errors we do manage to buy new t-shirts and new waterproof bags for our bikes (although each mission takes a whole day). The best thing is that we receive our working holiday visa for New Zealand.
Among others we meet Joss (U.K.) who has some smart sentences for us: „Being a little mad is very sane.“ and „Adventures keep you young.“ One of his role models: the „yes-men“, who say yes to everything, to each invitation, each crazy idea, now matter how tired you are in that moment – the rule is: always accept, always say yes and that’s how you make incredible experiences.

RANONG – KRABI
We never wanted to go to Bangkok and still we stayed for almost three weeks – although we did have a really cute guesthouse and a great breakfast place. An overnight bus helps us to escape and go back to Ranong.
Cycling again, South again. The highway becomes smaller and smaller with less and less traffic. Spontaneously, we take a side road to the beach and enjoy Pra Pat Beach. There is no one here, no hut, just nothing. Just nature and a couple locals.
The South of Thailand is mostly Muslim (in comparison to the Buddhist North). That’s how that night we sleep behind a mosque unter a huge roof – after so many Muslim countries this is actually our first mosque to spend the night.
We spend the next night in a temple. A heart-warming, caring police officer takes care of us. His job is to animate visitors to drive slowly, because there are many puppies and kittens around who could easily be run over (people often bring them to the temples). He shows us the toilet and the shower, gives us the wifi-code (!) and a Durian fruit and later upgrades us to the VIP room, since the boss (abbot) said so.
Since we won’t make it (over the pass) to the next village before it gets dark, we ask at a house next to the street, if we can put our tent under their porch. We prefer a roof during the rainy season. The old couple’s grand daughter speaks English quite well and is pleased. We prepare pancakes, let everyone try the German dish and the 15 year old „White“ (that’s her English nick name) seems excited. This seemingly didn’t happen before. She is talking to a friend on the phone and says several times: „Falang, ting ting!“ – ask we ask about the meaning, she translates: „Foreigners, really, really!“ The next morning as we say good bye we have to promise to never forget her!
KRABI – HAT YAO
We leave Krabi and hitchhike 55 km to avoid cycling on a busy road for one whole day. After 30 seconds (!) Geng stops with his wife Joy and their daughter Fasay. Wonderful! When we cycle afterwards, we are so happy about the cool weather. It is rather rainy, but very pleasant. Finally, this close heat is over – the clouds keep the sun away!
We still manage to reach the beach and find a little Buddhist altar where we can put up our tent underneath the porch. Here we make French Toast – so delicous and a finally a change as well (wheat instead of rice). With a full belly we lie in the tent and listen to the sea, how the waves are pushed resoundingly towards the beach.

Sikao

HAT YAO
The next day we can sleep in, because it is still cool and we cycle 25 kilometers along a wonderfully calm and beautiful stretch next to the sea (Sikao to Hat Yao). A shady pine forest in front of the ocean gives us shade. In Hat Yao we stay in an old, but cheap bungalow. It is low season and no one is there besides us. The bungalows come with a little beach, just for us – right next to one of the huge lime mountains – we immediately jump into the water. After 30 minutes Alex yelps and just after that I get frightened as well, because I feel a strong burning pain on my lower leg. Lion’s mane jellyfish! We swim and run out of the water and look at our irritated skin. The owner of the bungalows prepares us a paste out of sugar and water which is supposed to calm down and ease the skin.
Later we use a free wifi spot at the public school. One of the many projects of the king to help the people. He has an unbelievably good reputation among the Thai people. That’s why in Bangkok Toom was enthousiastically telling us about all the good deeds of the royal family and therefore immediately showed us the 15-minute daily royal news – we had to listen until the end although we didn’t understand a single word 😉

KO LIBONG
At the peer we have to wait until enough people show up to fill the boat and some time later we cycle on the very calm island. All day, we only see one car and besides that only a couple motorbikes. We buy a pineapple, fried rice with seafood and do small time around the island (approx. 12 km). At a lonely beach we watch the small cancers who (like snales) are carrying around their little shell houses in many different colours and shapes – and how they leave small traces in the sand. No one there. Everything peaceful. On purpose, we chose not to visit one of the popular islands – although the tourism seems to develop here as well.
We treat ourselves with a clean, big wooden bungalow and enjoy to sit on the huge bed and watch the sea from there. As a tempest starts outside, we are relieved that we didn’t decide to camp! We stay here for a while, just relaxing and not doing much at all. We take time for ourselves – a good place for a timeout.
Out Swedish neighbour Hakan (pronounced: Howcan) is outgoing and was cycling a lot himself. He is well-read and tries to understand the world. Hakan gives us literature and films with critical perspectives to the world and the people. He talks about the alienation of the (European) people who lost their contact with life (Erich Fromm). About the sickness of the system in general, but especially of the education system which exists to produce the best worker, but not to form good people (Mc Loan). About the economy system and the wealth that only few people can access and how he got enthousiastic about the idea of micro credits (Yunus) and how the invisible hand of the market (Adam Smith) only works in total anarchy (meaning without big companies, without the government, etc.). Then he speaks about creativity: that the school’s corset is too tight and that it destroys the creativity and the talents of the children.
Here is a very good video (20 minutes) that he recommended us regarding this subject:
http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity
Creativity often only arises out of contrast. If you change your environment, you may produce ideas. All of the sudden, differences become clear and the brain starts to work. That’s why migrants are often more creative. They combine newly or differently. An unbelievable potential.
The fascinating Hakan: he stays (mostly) compatible and smooth – he is no know-it-all, doesn’t talk down on others.

KO LIBONG – SATUN
Back on the mainland we cycle for a little bit, until we camp near a temple. A kitty sleeps in front of our tent (on Alex’s trousers). The kids of the neighbourhood are curious and shout „Good morning teacher“ despite of it being already evening.
In Trang we meet Wirasak, our Warmshowers host. At the meeting point Alex has the first puncture on the whole trip. The tires did not break. It is a small hole at the outlet.
Wirasak and his friend Prayoon take a lot of time for us. Both of them are retired and wish to travel now – each year, for about two months. Their dream (of this summer): to cycle from the Netherlands to the north cape (Norway). Thus they want to know how we travel and how we keep on going with little money. We explain our strategies (camping, hospitality-networks, ask people, cook for yourself, etc.). Before we say goodbye, they treat us with regional Thai specialities – they really kill us with kindness!
In Satun we take the ferry to Langkawi (Malaysia) – Good bye Thailand!

Here you find recent PICTURES and the ROUTE we took (just click on the respective word)!

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