Thailand the 2nd time & the end of our trip in Asia as well....

Thailand, the 2nd time, finally we went CAMPING YES!!!!

What a relief to be in Thailand again!!! Good roads, tasty food, friendly people who give you a safe feeling! On top of that all, some luxury to stop for a tasty cup of whichever hot drink or a choice of some beautiful resorts.

Our first days in Thailand we spent in the same resort to which we've been before. We decided to stock up for some stuff which we would need for camping out. So we did and the next day we were in the jungle. While driving we saw some nice birds, squirrels and a lot of butterflies! When we arrived at the camping, we were alone there, so we had the possibility to chose a nice spot. This camping had everything which a normal camping in Europe has, apart of electricity, oh yeah, it didn't have a restaurant as well. In the evening we got some neighbors :) The next day, it was Saturday, more Thai people were at the camping. As we found out, you are not allowed to drink alcohol and to play (loud) guitar at the camping's in Thailand. No bad regulations at all if your looking for some rest. If you are a foreigner you have to pay 200 Bath entry to the park, locals pay 100 Baht. Also, it's possible almost in every national park to camp out, the fee we payed per 1 night were 60 Bath per person. Also important to know, you need to take ur own camping stuff and food and drinks ( maybe there are campings where they have everything but in that one we had to bring everything with us ) Ok, that was some practical info.
We have met very friendly people at this camping, they were willing to tell us which places we should visit and some more about Thailand.
We also noticed that some Thai people take a lot of food and stuff when they go camping out, but one thing they forget – a tent :). No kidding, poor people had to go a long way back home to pick up a tent and they had to set him up in the dark.....
And moreover, they only where staying for 1 night...
From Sa Kao we were heading to the North, more specific, Chiang Mai area. On our way we passed trough a nice resting area with very clean toilets, shower, tables and a possibility to buy something to drink or to eat. Very nice!

We stayed in a real relaxing resort for 2 days (mainly because GoofY got a bit of a fever all of a sudden in the morning, late afternoon everything was alright again). The resort was a little of the main road, some 800 meters or so and was run by a formal lawyer. She got fed up with all the deadlines etc, and decided to set up here own resort/restaurant.
We had some nice chats with her. The specific resort is Banrai omthong resort. If you are passing through we would definitely recommend this place. Nyt, the name of the owner, she is willing to tell you a lot of interesting facts about Thai culture, the land itself and about Thai food. Moreover she cooks very good meals! Shortly speaking you feel very welcome over there.

For now we've been going on for about 4 days & the scenery isn't that nice, lots a farm ground and a couple of dead snakes which is as about exciting as watching a snail contest :-).
We decided to see if we can get our stuff on the train tomorrow. Should be interesting considering the fact that we don't speak any Thai & they don't understand any English. But so far we managed, so I recon if it's allowed to put the bike & the lorry on the train we'll manage, if not, that'll mean 4 days more driving ;-).

CHAING DAO AREA WELCOMES US!!!

As we always say, plans are there to change. So we ended up driving all the way up to Chiang Dao (Chiang Mai area). We save our plan of going with the train for the next time, maybe ;) But instead of 4 days driving we managed to do it in 2 :) Don't ask us how sore our behind was though... Being saddle-sore just got a whole new meaning haha...

This time the scenery didn't let us down! It was just amazing to drive around. Stunning mountains and valleys, slowly going rivers.....it was just great! We decided to look for a nice, chill resort and stay there for a couple of days. So we did, it turned out to be Chiang Dao Nest resort. Very peace full resort. Though, I was surprised that this particular resort got a reward to be the best restaurant in Thailand in 2006 and 2008. The meals are ok, but definitely nothing special and quite expensive at that....
While being in this resort we have met someone who was friendly enough to tell us about a nice drive up north (on the roads numbered 1178 & the 1249). It's something like 90km one way from Chiang Dao. It turned out to be an amazing drive again. You can check up the photo’s of that drive, clickertheclick, we named the photo’s 'around Chiang Dao'. We were happy we didn't take our lorry with us, otherwise the bike wouldn't manage to go up the mountains. It was astonishing steep.
While driving we also noticed that info signs and even names of the meals in a restaurant were not only in Thai but also in Chinese (maybe because we were close to the Myan Mar border. What a shame, we said to each other, our knowledge in reading these 2 languages equals zero! After an hour of puzzling around with the menu, we decided to take a gamble and just point something out on the menu. And what would u say, it turned out to be a great success! What we ordered was a rice meal with a bit spicy pork with some green leaves and garlic :) mmmmm and that for a stunning amount of 1,5 euro for both of us!
We are planning to stay in Chiang Dao until Friday and then heading for Pai.

FROM CHAING DAO TO KHUM YUAM

Staying in Chiang Dao turned out to be a bit different than we thought it to be.....In Chiang Dao we decided that we gonna leave Asia earlier than the actual plan was. That meant for us that we had to change our return tickets to Holland. We managed to do it in one day and we finally booked tickets to Canada!!!!! :) So we arrive in Amsterdam airport on the 1st of March and we heading the 5th for Toronto. In Holland we gonna see our parents, Iryna's parents are that time in Holland as well, so its great that she can see her parents as well! And of course we gonna see our sis and bro. Further we have to do some 'not fun' things back home :)

It's not that we don't like it here but we are up to a change, like driving in a RV and enjoying some trails. It feels very good here in Thailand and we want to remember that trip this way. We are enjoying a magnificent scenery of the mountains and valleys in the North of Thailand.

For those who are up to driving a motor, we would definitely recommend to visit this area. It has amazing drives, such as for example from Chiang Dao to Fang and than take a back drive to Chiang Dao on the road 1249, 1340 and 1178. If you take these roads you would drive on the roof of the mountain picks. This means that u need a strong motor because of the steep roads! Then we would recommend to go to Pai. If you want some adventure, you can drive through a NP Huai Nam Dang or you take a standard road 1095 (quite busy) to Pai. Further from Pai to Mae Hong Son. These routes have magnificent panoramas, you can't get enough of them. What also is a stunning route, is to drive from Mae Hong Son to Ban Rak Thai (a village where the Chinese people, who moved from the South of China, live) On the way back take a route that leads to a fish cave, driving is amazing!

At the moment we are staying at Khum Yuam. It's nothing really to do in that village but it's good for a base if you want to visit the Mexican Sunflower route. So the coming days we gonna explore this area :). By the way if you are looking for a good hotel in this village the Yoont Khun Yuam hotel is the one. At first we went to a resort not that far from Khun Yuam, but it was so grose!!! So it took us a while to find a proper one.....

FROM KHUN YUAM TO TILOSU WATERFALL

As we are heading back to Central Thailand, it's getting warmer and we enjoy it, to some point ;)
Well, as about the drive in this area, i have to admit that the route from Khun Yuam to 'Mae Sariam' isn't that exciting as we did the last week. We were told that Mae Chaem is a nice place to visit, it should of been as beautiful as Pai, but not that touristic. The last one was true, but we wouldn't say it's worth to pay a visit. On the first place (If u drive from Khun Yuam) the road gets worth if ur getting closer to Mae Chaem. The landscape looks very dry (February) and as for Mae Chaem itself we found it quite dirty and not cozy at all. To some extend we had a feeling that we are back in Cambodia. What we also noticed, just a bit of Chinese influence is still present in the town. It was a drive in the mountains of some 100km one way, as we didn't like the city after a break we were heading back 'home'
By the way, at Khun Yuam, we waved to the ex-wife of the prince. After our dinner we were going back to the hotel and some 100 meter from it, we were stopped by a police who asked us to wait 10 min. Iryna got doggy about it, she thought he wants to earn some money on us. But then we were looking around and everyone was stopped by him and had to wait or go back. Afterwords we saw people waiting on the street, and some had a flag of Thailand. Then we saw quite a few very expensive cars coming by, surrounded by military and police cars and even an ambulance was there. Later on we found out it was an ex- wife of the prince. By the way, she is still in the dynasty.

From Khun Yuam we went to Mae La Noi. On our way to that place we had some adventures with the bike. While driving we heard some noises coming up from the back of the bike and it got worther. So we decided to go back to Khun Yuam (which was some 14km from where we were) Our bike had a check up and it turned out to be a bolt on the back wheel which came a little bit loose. So the problem was solved quickly and we changed the oil as well. So our next spot was Mae La Noi. It a small city which doesn't have a nice atmosphere, the same has the next city Mae Sariam. Its not as clean as in the area around Chiang Mai and in the east of the country. On our way from Mae Sariam to Mae Sod our bike let us down :( The roads were so steep that we had to push the bike and yes, don't laugh, the lorry as well. It was a good work out for us, as we don't do much of an exercises up here :)
Mae Sod, the same story as with the rest of the cities we visited the last days. Gray, a lot of immigrants, refugees...whatever u wonna call them, but it doesn't feel right in this city. So we made sure we are not staying there. We found a special resort, why special, because we assume it was built a couple of hundreds years ago, and not as resort but as a dynasty.....Check out our gallery for the photo's.
The reason why we were heading to Mae Sod, was because we wanted to visit Tilosu waterfall. This waterfall is recently found out and is the most impressive and the biggest in Thailand. So we didn't want to lose the chance of seeing it.
This waterfall is situated close by Umphang. We knew that to go to Umphang with our lorry behind the bike was no option. The mountains are too steep and the drive itself is difficult because of very sharp turns in the mountains. They call this road, the 'Death Road'. So, it was for us a new adventure to cross (back and forth) this particular road. What also was an adventure for us, is the fact that we had to leave our lorry behind, somewhere......At this particular resort, which we mentioned above, no one was able to speak a word English. So as you can imagine we were very enthusiast to explain what we want! But as usual, problem no have, with hand and feet and God bless pan and paper we managed to explain that we want to leave our lorry at the resort for a couple of days. Our light weight bags were packed and we started the engine! Heading for Umphang, the Tilosu waterfall! An amazing but difficult drive, with astonishing mountain views, we were driving very slowly up the hill, beeping when we approached the corner and used the breaks quite often while going down. Because of a long distance, +/- 220km from Mae Sod to the waterfall we divided it in 2 days. At the end of the 1st day, we were pretty tired of driving and the only thing we wanted to see was a resort of just smth where we could sleep. Our navigation system found one, but it was closed, false hope. But not for long, Baan Falang, was a perfect resort for us with good food and friendly owner with his wife. The next day he showed us around his house. It's a beautiful house, inside made of teak.
Here we are, staying in front of the NP with our bike. 'You can go, bike no go'.....we thought we have heard that one before.....Cambodian/Vietnamese border. It doesn't say anywhere (LP or the net) that you are not allowed to drive your own viachle into the NP. Moreover, you have to hire a guide with a 4-wheel drive to take you to the park. I don't know exactly how much (+/- E 50) that coasted us, but it wasn't cheap. It was quite a drive from the NP to the entrance of the wf. As the road is not paved, you jump up and down in the car for some 24km and I can tell you that is not comfortable. Luckily the guide didn't follow us up to the wf. He was waiting at the entrance of the wf. Officially you are not allowed to take a bag with you while hiking to the wf. But we thought we would try our luck and go with our bag. So we smiled very friendly at the officials at the entrance and we were lucky:)
As it was February, the wf was not that astonishing as it's in December/January. But it was definitely worth the drive! This wf consists of a couple of cascades, the size of which (just right after wet season) comes close by 3 football fields wide. You can also go for a swim at some lower parts of the wf, but watch out, the water is cold! We found it a great experience to swim just a few meters away of an amazing wf and watching the water falling down in the pool where we were.
Heading back to the resort went smooth and we found our lorry there in peace :)
As that was the last day in this area in Thailand, we decided to give us a luxury room:) We enjoyed it a lot.

HEADING FOR BANGKOK AND SELLING A BIKE :(

It was a spear of the moment when we decided to push our 1 day drive from Mae Sod up to Nakhon Sawan (265km) with a reason to take a train to BKK and win a couple of days. So we put our bike and the lorry on the train, got ourselves a ticket. The is a story behind it. As thai people don't speak English that good, it was a famous story with hands and feet to explain what we want. Imagine a small chaos at the counter, changing shifts etc....than it comes to paying the bill. On the first place, Goofy wanted to pay the bill off with 2000bath and then he would get a change. But later on he noticed that he can pay without change, what he after all also did. But Iryna, completely missed that part. Goofy was waiting at the station with the bags, bike, lorry.....and Iryna went to the counter for a change (which she thought she should get) Imagine her explaining 'yeah, but we paid 2000bath to your college, which left home already.....and we want our change back!' It took her 30 min to explain what she wants, people at the counter did call that particular college but it took a while.......and the train was already on the platform.....so....Goofy had no clue of what is happening and why Iryna (which had all the tickets) is not at the platform! Luckily Goofy decided to look for Iryna and then.......'Why are you still here, what are you waiting for???.....For a change!......Which change??? I paid without a change!! and I told you that twice!.....ermmm...I missed that part....ooops....sorry people at the counter' Phew, they just had to laugh about it. In a rush we stapped into the train, made sure that our bike and the lorry with bags were putted into the train as well. A couple of hours later we were in crazy BKK. Found a decent hotel near the bike shop. Why near the bike shop, because we were going to sell our bike! Unfortunately but true. Here in Thailand a foreigner needs to have a work permit to sell his car/bike. As we didn't have it, we spent 2 days on selling our bike. We didn't get that much as we wanted for it, but still more then the rest was willing to pay for it. The lorry we just gave for free to someone who could use it.
It felt strange not to have ur own transportation....welcome to the world of taxi’s and tuk-tuks!!!
In BKK we visited a big shopping center, asked to make a suite for Goofy and a jacket for Iryna and of course at sushi....mmmmm. We toasted to the fact that we haven't had any accidents with our bike and for astonishing and unforgettable drives we made with it!!!

WITH A TRAIN TO HAT YAI AND KOH LIPE ISLAND

Taking a train to Hat Yai was a great decision! We took a sleeper, which was good enough for us. The journey lasted 14 hours, it was a night train, so no problem there. The next day we were standing at Hat Yai and a couple of hours later at Pakbara pier. Where Iryna had a delicious mild Indian curry with fish!!! In the afternoon we were at the beautiful Koh Lipe island, which lays in the Andaman sea :) At this small island you can still find some peace and of course amazing white sand beaches and aquamarine blue and clear water!
We didn't book any resort, as we always do, we decided to look what's available on the island. We did have a look on the net, what kind of beaches this island offers and which resorts it has. So we thought to have a look at Andaman resort, which lays at Sunrise beach. This resort was a definite winner! We got a bamboo bungalow with an amazing view at the sea. Early in the morning without getting up from our warm bed, we can watch a sunrise!
With some 2 weeks of relaxing on that island, we think we will relax good enough for the next journey to Holland and then to Toronto.
The first week on Koh Lipe, we didn't do much, just relaxing. Lots of snorkeling, reading, small walks....and what was more tiring: a trip to Koh Adang, where we did some hiking to see the whole Koh Lipe from above and a dive/snorkel trip to the islands near Koh Rawi. There we saw a lot of beautiful fish, the most impressive was: sting ray, trigger fish, marlin, murena eel, paffer fish and nimo fish ermmm and a lot more but unfortunately we forgot the names.....

Smth about sunbathing, what we have seen on Koh Lipe, was that a lot of women were sunbathing topless.....it's really a shame that they visit a country like Thailand and showing disrespect to it. We couldn't figure out if they were doing that because they didn't know it's not appreciated or they just didn't care....Especially in the far South of Thailand where Muslim culture is strongly present our western society showing it's best!

The second week on Koh Lipe, didn't differ that much from the first one haha. We found some good restaurants on the island, like good Italian and of course good fish restaurants. We have also done a big snorkel tour, which was amazing! We especially liked the island Koh Rokroy, so beautiful!!!!! Also we payed a visit to monkey island:) Some other great thing has happened to us: we got married under water! Iryna decided to try diving again and it was on our anniversary. As our diving instructor was a captain (captains are allowed to marry people) he suggested that he can marry us under water if we want:) So we said to each other why not, we gonna marry! It was very romantic, when both of us were standing among hundreds of beautiful fish and write (said) a 'yes' word to each other!
Sadly enough after 2 weeks relaxing on the island we had to leave it! It's a great island, very beautiful and although there are many tourist it's still peaceful! As we couldn't catch a sleeper the same say we decided to take a plan from Hat Yai to BKK.

SAYING 'GOOD BUY' TO THAILAND!!!

Our flight went smoothly and we arrived in BKK late in the evening. We went to the same hotel where we left our bags. Luckily they were still there:) The next day we went for sushi and we catched up with Adam and Sue. It was great to see them again! We had a wonderful time together drinking beer, chit chatting and of course we also visited a night market.
February 29, the last day (in this trip) in Thailand. We have an absolutely satisfied feeling about our trip. It was great to drive a motorcy, talking to locals and visiting astonishing places! Thailand will remain as a great place in Asia in our memory. We have no doubts about visiting it again! Beautiful country, great people, great culture!

THANX for following us.

GRTZ GoofY & Iryna