24.06.10 - Koh Tao, Thailand
Back to Thailand â€“ back to the beach!
Leaving Saigon behind we headed straight for the coast and within a couple of stages we reached the north of Vietnam. We stuck to a lesser or greater degree to the main tourist paths â€“ Nha Trang, Hoi An, HuĂ©. A lovely route and after seeing the Mekong-Delta and the massive City of Saigon it felt definitively quieter along the coast â€“ Hoi Anâ€™s old town was even traffic-free! After visiting Hanoi we left for a short trip into Vietnamâ€™s mountains â€“ which, after being a big disappointment wheaterwise (cold, foggy and torrential rain), helped us deciding about further travel plans. The rainy season has obviously caught up with us. Instead of cycling through Laos into northern Thailand we opted for the short cut via AirAsia and landed for the third time this year in Bangkok. The comfy night train and a quick ride by ferry brought us to the island of Koh Tao where we finally met again with our fellow cyclist friends from Holland and England â€“ what a joyful reunion! And here we are still lingering. Now and then we do some bubbles underwater, enjoy the life at the beach side, the yummylicious Thai food and the great company. It feels very good to catch up with some kindred spirits.
From our hotel terrace we oversee parts of the wide ocean â€“ ideal to process the past travel experiences and to get inspired about the future of journey.
19.05.10 - Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam
â€śGood morning Vietnaaamâ€ť! We have reached Saigon, the 6 million metropolis in the south of the country which is also an absolute motorbike El Dorado. But obviously, less of a paradise for pedestrians and cyclists...
Cambodia was really grand and has blasted our personal hit list for Southeast Asia. We happily cruised and scrambled around the ruins of Angkor and then stayed for another couple of days in the bustling city of Siem Reap where we enjoyed some of the local comfort. Ever tried a foot massage performed by small fishes in an aquarium? A highly enjoyable experience â€“ and what a hell of a tickle! Thereafter, we cycled through tiny villages and townships towards Phnom Penh. Once more, we have been delighted by the cheerful and sincere openheartedness of the Khmer people. A real enjoyment.
The moment we crossed the border to Vietnam the pleasure decreased slightly, as the Mekong delta on this stretch is anything but idyllic. This route appears to be one huge town. There is hardly a spot to take a quick rest which is unpopulated or without buzzing traffic. Well, never mind â€“ we stopped at some of the innumerable tiny restaurants instead of crouching under a shady tree. Swinging a hammock and slurping iced Vietnamese coffee and tea isnâ€™t bad either!
Sending an enormous amount of warmth and sunshine to you folks (especially to Switzerland). It seems as if weâ€™ve got too much of what you guys have not enough...!
24.04.10 - Siem Reap, Cambodia
Sua sâ€™dei! It was indescribably hot for cycling and we started seriously asking ourselves what on earth can possibly be so cool about physical exercise in such a humid environment and with such excessive temperatures. Thailand a cycling destination? Probably not quite. We did, what we always do in such situations: Going for a dip. One more time we felt compelled to face the somewhat weird pinkskin-beerbelly-packagetour-crowd around Krabi before we finally found a relaxed and cozy beach resort on Koh Lanta. For once we would enjoy the sunsets without the annoying sand all over the swimming trunks â€“ totally mellow from our infinity-pool of course ;-)
Having had enough of the Thai-tourists-island-hopping-thing we took a bus straight to Bangkok - but as not being really a place to linger at the moment we immediately cycled further towards Ayutthaya - mind you, along a horrible eight-lane highway. And, believe it or not, besides the stunning temple ruins of the former Thai capital we even finally got to experience a touch of the so much praised â€śLand of Smilesâ€ť. Even if it might have been only because of the three days New Year festivities going on, which people celebrated with splashing around tons of water and partying till late.
We eventually managed to reach the border to Cambodia just on the day of expiration of our visas. The moment we crossed into Cambodia we felt mesmerized by all the friendly welcoming smiles. Itâ€™s fantastic here! The Khmer are super kind and the temples of Angkor are truly captivating. Why the heck didnâ€™t we come here earlier?
01.04.10 - Khao Lak, Thailand
Sawatdee! After our friends left for Switzerland we enjoyed some days of rest in the sun-loungers at the beach ;-) In Donsol we went snorkeling with whale sharks; an absolutely thrilling experience. We were swimming quasi eyeball to eyeball with the seven meter long fishes. We could get so close to those huge animals that we had to pull ourselves together not to grab their dorsal fin and glide along the waters with them. That was really super unique â€“ absolutely brilliant!
The last days in the Philippines we stayed in Manila and flew then to Thailand. We eventually managed to cycle a few kilometers in this hot and humid climate before we soaked ourselves again in the refreshing sea. 6 days of exciting non-stop diving followed. We cruised around the Andaman Sea on board of the M/V Mariner and got to see everything we could have wished for. From the tiny colourful nudibranches to the impressive leopard sharks â€“ only the mantas we had so badly wished for went into hiding... Nonetheless, it was a thoroughly joy! The tranquility of the ocean was a welcoming treat after the jam-packed beaches around Phuket, where we felt totally out of place after experiencing the beauty of secluded beaches in the Philippines.
Now, we are ready to hop back on the saddle. We are heading southwards to Krabi and most probably we will find some more beautiful islands here and there... ;-)
Lots of love to all of you and happy Easter everyone! P&B
25.02.10 - Sandugan, Philippines
Mabuhay! After cycling in Palawan we carried on to Manila only to store our tandem in a safe place for the rest of our tour through the Philippines. We were soon expecting our friends from Switzerland to come for a visit. Island hopping without the â€śburdenâ€ť of a tandem is simply more fun and a little less complicated. Before they arrived though, we stopped at the touristic hot-spot Boracay with its absolutely beautiful white sandy beach, dozens of hotels, restaurants and bars with happy-hours from lunchtime till midnight... What a fantastic holiday feeling! We enjoyed it that much that we even postponed our flight and only made it just in time to Cebu to greet our friends at the airport!
Together we are now exploring the Visaya islands by ferry boats, buses, tricycles and motor bikes. Eating good food, enjoying stunning sunsets and philosophize about the world happenings over a cool San Miguel beer or a Coke with Tanuday rum. We are spending our days (sun-)bathing, snorkeling and diving â€“ at least the ones of our quartet who currently donâ€™t have any ear infection and flood their ear channels with antibiotic drops instead of salt water. Isnâ€™t it nice to share the good and the bad with your best friends? ;-)
We send to all of you lots of warm sunshine from the paradise island Siquijor!