Welcome to our travel blog....   as you may know, reading these lines, we have moved away from Virginia back to Czech Republic before the last Christmas (December 2017) We have spent past 2,5 month enjoying out families and friends at home, but decided, that Czech is not our place to stay (yet) and bought one way tickets....   March 2nd 2018, Dubai   On early Friday morning, , while Czech was in deep freezing week, of temps around -13C during nights, Jerry, my father and I got into a car and drove 2 hrs to the Ostrava airport. All went well, the snow was not coming down too hard,and after a tea and coffee at he almost empty airport, we said our good byes with my dad and were off to our adventure....  The flight was pretty uneventful, which is not a bad thing, I do love flying.....and we landed in Dubai on time,around 6 pm. After getting our luggage, big backpacks with our favorite stuff,we had to make a decision, on how to make our journey to the Air B&B almost 30 miles away. It was dark,everywhere were people of different nationalities and most of them in ninja outfits ( as one of our friends calls them)......burkas, and it started to drizzle....so you start to make friends and kindly begin to ask people, how to get to the bus and metro station. Taxi was always an option, but the prices were not that appealing and we came for an adventure, not for a taxi ride. So found out how to get a metro/bus card and made our way. The only thing I would do differently next time....I would get a phone card at the airport. Thinking we were going to be here only for 2 days, we passed on that opportunity and with that decision, made our travels a bit harder. Well lets face it, we rely so much on it for everything these days.......

Welcome to our travel blog....

as you may know, reading these lines, we have moved away from Virginia back to Czech Republic before the last Christmas (December 2017) We have spent past 2,5 month enjoying out families and friends at home, but decided, that Czech is not our place to stay (yet) and bought one way tickets....

March 2nd 2018, Dubai

On early Friday morning, , while Czech was in deep freezing week, of temps around -13C during nights, Jerry, my father and I got into a car and drove 2 hrs to the Ostrava airport. All went well, the snow was not coming down too hard,and after a tea and coffee at he almost empty airport, we said our good byes with my dad and were off to our adventure....

The flight was pretty uneventful, which is not a bad thing, I do love flying.....and we landed in Dubai on time,around 6 pm. After getting our luggage, big backpacks with our favorite stuff,we had to make a decision, on how to make our journey to the Air B&B almost 30 miles away. It was dark,everywhere were people of different nationalities and most of them in ninja outfits ( as one of our friends calls them)......burkas, and it started to drizzle....so you start to make friends and kindly begin to ask people, how to get to the bus and metro station. Taxi was always an option, but the prices were not that appealing and we came for an adventure, not for a taxi ride. So found out how to get a metro/bus card and made our way. The only thing I would do differently next time....I would get a phone card at the airport. Thinking we were going to be here only for 2 days, we passed on that opportunity and with that decision, made our travels a bit harder. Well lets face it, we rely so much on it for everything these days.......

Dubai at night....

Dubai at night....

Anyway, after a few learning curves we have made our way to one of the many skyscrapers and found the doors to our apartment on the 12th floor unlocked at 9 pm.....met our host, took a shower and went for a late dinner, starving by then. Had some tasty veggie dish with amazing hummus and walked the night street and touched the water on the closest beach. What a beginning to our long journey.....

Dubai during the day....

Dubai during the day....

March 3rd, Dubai

......woke up at 10am (in my case) and decided to visit the Old Souk Market, which Jerry researched while I was asleep.....:) Thankfully one of us is good with that kind of stuff.....the searching I mean....:)  Got our day pack packed, walked out to the sunny and warm city, hopped on the metro, which by now we felt we have learned yesterday and after first 3 stops realized, that we are heading the wrong way....so got out, changed the trains and were really heading where needed. The metro is really easy to use and it is so well done, you barely feel like you are moving. It truly is very comfortable, amazingly clean and spacious. It is great way to move around the city and gives you a glimpse of  local people and the neighborhoods. Upon arrival to the right part of the Old City, we found the Souk and did get swallowed by the art of selling......our senses went into a constant overload.....the colors, the smells, the constantly inviting sellers asking you to come into their shop, because they have the right stuff for you....the amounts of herbs, spices, shawls, gold, clothes was a bit overwhelming.....so after walking through for a while, we took a traditional wooden abra boat ride across the creek to the old part of the city. It was getting hot and we got to snoop through some really small streets and even found a pigeon loft!! For those who know, my dad is a big pigeon racer, so we have a lots of pigeons at home.....:)

The spice market.....

The spice market.....

Abra boats

Abra boats

From the market we headed back towards the city center, but found online about local market, kind of more out of the way, but decided to try it. Had to walk a bit, but made our way through one of the huge shopping malls and this one had the "famous" ski area. The idea of snow in the desert just kind of rubs me the wrong way.....But, we made it to the market in the park.....and it was much smaller then advertised.....so we had a coconut and walked back to metro. From there we decided to go to see the fountain show at Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in Dubai, and the most known I think (160 stories tall, 2722ft,829m). And to get to the show, they make you walk through the biggest mall of them all....Dubai Mall, which is 50 football fields, 5.9 million square feet in size!!!!! Absolutely enormous and filled with stuff to buy and people to want all of the stuff.....pretty heart breaking to see the materialistic part of the city.... as far as the show, it was beautiful, composed to music. It is free, running in the evening every half hour. On our way home we walked through Dubai Marina, which was all lid up and beautiful.

Burj Khalifa......160 stories high

Burj Khalifa......160 stories high

Dubai Mall.....50 football fields in size

Dubai Mall.....50 football fields in size

The water fountain show.....

The water fountain show.....

March 4th Muscat, Oman

.....Sitting at the Muscat airport in Oman, on our way to Sri Lanka.Our flight is leaving in an hour and we will spend the night flying and hoping to get some sleep. That is the hardest thing for me…. sleeping on the plane somewhat eludes me….

But back to our second day in Dubai (today)….. I did wake up a bit earlier, around 8ish, made plan for the day and begun with a bit of yoga  practice. Or more like a yoga stretches, since our muscles were a bit sore from all the walking we did day before….

Upon a recommendation from our host, we went to see the so famous Atlantis hotel at the Palm resort…..and let me tell you…..just more shopping and tourist attractions…nothing that interests us much…so when we have seen enough, we went back to our place and headed to the beach near by. The water was s bit cooler then expected and the amount of people a bit higher than expected, so we lasted about 2 hrs. But now we can say, that we did swim in Dubai…..:)))

The Palm

The Palm

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 Then we bought a tickets out of Sri Lanka before headed to the airport, since they do not let you enter the country without a return ticket. We packed our bags, yet again and headed to the airport. By now we had the metro mastered and had perfectly enough credit left for the hour lasting journey. As predicted, before they let you fly to Sri Lanka, you have to prove your visa and return tickets. Luckily we had it all covered (mostly thanks to Jerry) and were hopping through all the check points pretty good.....and believe me, a lot of loops!!!! Again, unlike the easy travel through the states we were used to....constant checks (although no taking off your shoes anywhere) and controls. Oh and one more observation.....90% of the travelers in this part of the world were man.....very few ladies  (looking back on some ladies solo travelers- I am very impressed by your bravery).

Universal sign

Universal sign

March 5th, Colombo, Sri Lanka

The actual flight to Colombo was not my favorite. Unfortunately we were sitting at the very last row and my seat did not reclined at all (was broken), so I had to stay in pretty straight sitting position and to add to it, the pillow on the back was pushing my head into "The Impala neck" position. That is an expression we came up with Jerry long time ago on our travels, when we rented Chevy Impala and it had this unfortunate seat position, where your head is pushed forward. After a while of sitting like this, it can get quite painful.....

But back to our flight....Jerry was gentleman enough to switch the seat with me after a while, but we got very little sleep regardless. Arriving to Colombo at 8 am local time this morning, we hoped into a taxi, which to our amazement did manage to find our place of stay. The amount of cars, people and chaos is... well.... undescribable ......they call it "organized chaos" and it is mesmerizing to watch and to be part of. But can't imagine to be driving in it......all the drivers have some unwritten laws and they do it all well....in cars, buses, tuck tucks, motorcycles, mopeds....all together in this craze. We did manage to walk through the city, went to the beach, saw few temples and a man playing flute to a cobra. Found a train station and bought a train tickets for tomorrow, when we head to Kandy, about 3 hrs away to see our local friend Nisa and her family. It has been many years since we have seen each other in Virginia, so we are really looking forward to it. Oh and back at our rented rooftop we got to watch the huge fruit bats! And they are soooo big ( maybe about 30 cm wing span)! Like cats with wings flying and hanging on a tree right in front of our terase. So wonderful to watch them as the sun was setting down......

Organized chaos....

Organized chaos....

Budhist temple in Colombo

Budhist temple in Colombo

Tuk Tuk

Tuk Tuk

March 6th,Colombo

Woke up to children's singing in the park outside of our house. Packed and repacked our stuff, since now we will not use our colder weather gear and were trying to pack better and smaller, since we will be taking  public transport and will carry our stuff around. We have already figured out that we could have brought fewer things....but lets see how we feel about that in a week or so. We actually have succeeded with the task at hand and managed to make our bags smaller a bit, but not lighter....Around lunch time we have decided to walk into nearby streets to find something to eat and managed to find a small local place with rice and veggies. Took it back to our rental place, ate in a company of 2 dogs, sleeping cat and turtle running around in and out of the house....just perfect! After relaxing a bit we called Uber and headed to the train station through the amazing chaos in the streets. There we waited for our train arrive and found our seats easily. The train looked like the very old ones we used to have in Czech, but these are apparently imported from Canada....

Waiting for the train....

Waiting for the train....

Ready to go....

Ready to go....

Just like at home....:))

Just like at home....:))

The train left the station on time and we were headed to Kandy. In the first half an hour, as we were leaving the capital, the scenery was changing from the very poor shacks, reminding us of old, run down horse or animal sheds, with colorful clothing drying outside, to real houses and then fields and greenery.....we occasionally drove through a small town, without stopping and got to see the surrounding neighborhoods.

Just a few options....:)

Just a few options....:)

Further we got out of the city, more green and beautiful it become. Our journey to Kendy was supposed to take about 2,5 hrs but as we got into the hills, we got into pretty heavy rain and the train started to slip on the wet train tracks. We first did not understand what was happening, since the train was moving slower than walking speed, but after talking to a man sitting in a seat next to us, we have learned that that is quite usual. Normally they have one engine up front and one at the back pushing, but for some reason we only had the front one and it had trouble pulling. Our only concern were our friends waiting for us at the station in Kendy. The one time we were hoping to be somewhere in time, it was not happening.....but have to say, that we got to enjoy the beautiful scenery for that much longer. And the rain made it even more green and special.

Temple by the train tracks....

Temple by the train tracks....

The best view from the train....:)

The best view from the train....:)

Unknowing to us, we were heading into a city of unrest. My good friend from Switzerland send us a text asking about our whereabouts and situation, since apparently he heard in the news about some trouble in Sri Lanka and the government declaring a state of emergency  and putting a curfew on the town of Kandy. We knew nothing and from the peaceful people around us we had no idea if something was really happening.

We made it to the city 75 minutes later than scheduled and met our friends who took us to their house and cooked a wonderful meal for us. It was great day......

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March 7th, Kandy

We woke up to a day curfew for the whole town, so we stayed with the friends, watched the local life, saw few monkeys to go by, spent time with the kids,and dared to drive to the city at the afternoon for a lunch, just for the change of the scenery. We saw almost empty streets, which does not ever happen here and on almost every corner a police or military guard with automatic weapons standing by. It was quite interesting feeling to be there and being with local friends made it very much safer for us. On the way back we stopped at Budhist temple. The neighbors came over for dinner, so we got to meet more local people.The school has been cancelled for the rest of the week, so we will be heading out of the city tomorrow a bit more south, into the mountains. Still staying with Nisa and her family. Oh and the government shot down access to any social media, so we have not been able to post on FB, Instagram or communicate through messenger.

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March 9th, Nuwara Elyia

 

Woke up (in my case) at 5 am, Jerry did not sleep at all after 2 servings of tea yesterday, got up and got ready for our 5:30 pickup to head to Horton Plains National Park. The ride felt like being in a race, while we were speeding in dark, trying to make it to the top of 1900meters as fast as possible…. not sure who gave our driver such instructions, but we were flying on the poorly maintained roads like crazy…. until we made it to the entrance, where we had to go stand in a line for about an hour for the tickets…..the line was never ending and the ONE open ticket window was less then insufficient ……some things are just mind boggling in this country…. when we made it to the parking lot another 5 km later, it was full of cars and vans.Got our backpacks and headed on the trail. Just few hundred meters into the trail, we came upon a group of young Chinese tourists, mostly girls, and one of them was attempting to feed a big male deer with huge antlers a banana. Someone screamed at her not to do it, so she angrily through the banana into trash and the whole group started taking selfies with the deer, right in front of it!!!! It was like a scene from a stupid movie or clip that ends bad. It was very sad to see what this culture came to…..

 

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The hike itself was nice and we got some breathtaking views of valleys and mountains. The classic views of Sri Lanka one knows from pictures.

The ride back was a bit smoother and after figuring out our plan for tomorrow, we headed to Pedro Tea Factory where we had a tour of tea making and walked in the fields.

Wanted to walk to a near by waterfall, but it started to rain, so we hoped on Tuk Tuk and went back.

For dinner had again great local food with the amazing company of our new friends Martin and Jackelin from last night.

Fields of tea.....

Fields of tea.....

March 10, Ella

After an amazing breakfast had a last minute change of planes and were going to try to get on the presumably most beautiful train ride of the whole Sri Lanka, which was sold out. Being it a bit risky, spending time to get to the station (can’t buy tickets online here) and just wing it from there. Well as it turned out, the sold out train had tickets not only for us, but also for few more guests from our hotel, who decided to ride there as well and get theirs after hearing about our success….:)

This train was full of tourists and we have met a group from Czech! Jerry spent most of the ride standing in the door and talking to them and taking pictures.

The best seat in the First Class.....:)

The best seat in the First Class.....:)

Heading into the tunnel....

Heading into the tunnel....

As we got to Ella, it was pouring rain, but luckily the lady of the house we were staying came to get us in Tuk Tuk.

We were way up on the hill, away from the town about 1,5 km and the living situation was a ‘bit” different then described online….so we were a bit disappointed…..and decided to walk down into the town. Right of the bet we have met 2 English ladies, lovely and friendly as can be and walked the way with them. They also knew some shortcuts, which made the whole way more fun. Had a little taste of local food and tea in town, snooped around. The town of Ella is becoming a bit more 'western" looking with the pubs and coffee shops that are being build up. And there is also so many turists, that you feel like in a western city. This is first city we see this happening.

We headed up the big hill and had a lovely dinner at our place and Then rested the evening in.

Heading down to town through the neighborhood.....

Heading down to town through the neighborhood.....

March 11, Ella

After a lovely breakfast  we packed our day backpacks and headed to climb up the Ella Rock Mountain. We initially missed our turn and made it a bit longer, but had a chance to see a children in front of their school very happy to wave and talk to us and had a fresh coconut brake as well…..

Day is always better with coconut in hand....

Day is always better with coconut in hand....

The hiking around here is not so easy, since they do not have signs for anything!! Makes it a bit frustrating, since one has to first research the internet and then kind off guess the way. And even the locals kind of send you wrong way….but we found it, mostly thanks to Jerry’s great orientation skills.

The views....

The views....

We made it to the top right in time to peak at the breathtaking views and seek cover as the storm just rolled in. But we were yet again in a great company or our English friends, who made it to the top a bit ahead of us. Reunited we enjoyed the top for a bit longer after the rain and headed down together. At the bottom of the mountain the trail ends and you have to walk on the train tracks back to the village, which is quite fun and the locals walk on them all the time. And along the way we came upon very welcoming looking place to have food and drink, so we did and it was delicious and had a train go by us as well…..

The top of Ella Rock with storm behind us.....

The top of Ella Rock with storm behind us.....

As we came to the village, we have decided to go and see the beautiful Nine Arch Bridge. The girls stayed behind in town, so just us. The way was long, since no one told us about the shortcut and it was not signed, but it was worth it.

Then we were in need of pot of tea with our friends since it started to rain again and it was a long day…..

The chat on the bridge....

The chat on the bridge....

What can you find along the train tracks.....:)

What can you find along the train tracks.....:)

Pit stop along the train tracks.....:))

Pit stop along the train tracks.....:))

March 12, Udawalawe

We packed our things while it was poring down outside and were dreading a bit the bus travel ahead of us.

But to our great surprise, the other guests were leaving as well and hired a bus and offered to give us a ride to the next town where we would catch a bus. It was soooo welcomed!! It meant not standing in a down pore and made some more friends, from Kazachstan. As they dropped us about an hour later at a bus station, we met Turken, a guy from Finland and quickly figured out that we are heading the same way. The bus we were all suppose to get on came totally full and did not take us. So we opted out for a taxi ride together. A bit more expensive, but under the circumstances worth it….and made it comfortably to our hut for next 2 days. We love our quiet place with palms surrounding it and a view of a rice field with a little pond with few lotus flowers in it…..really peaceful…..

Our home for 3 days....:)

Our home for 3 days....:)

Lilys.....blooms at night, closes during the day

Lilys.....blooms at night, closes during the day

After settling down took a walk through the neighborhood, met some locals and saw beautiful king fisher birds hunting along the creek, few cows laying on the road and dogs running around. I have to say, that there are many free roaming dogs around Sri Lanka. Most of them seem in ok shape, but also have seen quite few who were not looking well and it is very sad. Most of them do not come to you and in some cases you want them to stay away. Have seen some hostility too, mainly in the city.

At the evening had a wonderful meal of rice noodles with veggies prepared by our host’s mother. We relaxed on the porch and enjoyed the evening.

My favorite view from the porch.....

My favorite view from the porch.....

March 13, Udawalawe

Alarm went off at 5 am, we got up and ready for our safari pick up and headed to the Udawalawe National Park for elephants. We were a bit dreading the same fate we had at the Horton Plains, but to out surprise this was very smooth and fast procedure, so we were in the park in no time. Right of the gate we had the luck to see a young male elephant standing right on the road and saw him up close…..he was beautiful and graceful. Further ahead we watched the whole family to graze and then few more through the park. Have to say, that we had very knowledgeable guide, Pancha, and he knew all about any animal, bird, lizard we came up on to. We have seen many kind of beautiful and colorful birds, big and small lizards, crocodiles, water buffalo, jackal and of course many elephants. It really was wonderful to see them in their habitat.

Then back at our hut we have been resting, relaxing and writing all day…..just had an amazing dinner here on the porch again and are ready for the next adventures…..heading south to the beaches tomorrow….

Young male....

Young male....

Family time....

Family time....

In the bush......

In the bush......

March 14, Matara

 

Our 10 am Tuk tuk pick up came up on us fast, as we packed and said good byes to the wonderful Cottage.

Ahead of us was the unknown travel plan/no plan. We were suppose to get to our next destination, about 100 km far, but the only thing that we had scheduled was the TukTuk. So from there it was all a mystery…since you can’t buy bus tickets ahead, So as the driver dropped us in the village of Udalawale, we hoped right then on the first bus that was waiting there… local bus, stopping every few hundred meters for locals to hop on and off, with loud music blasting and numerous Shivas and Hindu gods with flashing lights around them, guarding our drive.

This bus dropped us at Embilipitiya, where we were pointed, by our driver, to another bus. There we found seats and had time to buy a little lunch for the ride. Before we have left the station, few people walked through the bus begging or selling stuff. And then we were off…..loud music blasting, few Buddhas and various Gods blessing our drive and were happy to be moving in the right direction. About half of the more than 3 hours of drive we were joyously looking out of the windows and enjoying the breeze moving through all the open windows and doors…..

The moment we reached the road following the beach, something happened, unknown to us, and our driver started racing…. probably with time. Closer to our destination, more people were getting on and faster the bus was moving.  When it came to the point, where people were standing in the isle, we had to hold on for our dear lives with both hands!!! We have never been in such fast and crazy bus…. and the music was still blasting…. and we were laughing like crazy, like two kids in a speed chase….:)

But, made it to the city of Matara in one peace, got a Tuk Tuk to take us to our next place to call “home” and went to a beech…. so wonderful to be by the water…..went for a clod beer and not local Coke and enjoyed the rest of the day walking and relaxing, talking to our hosts and such….

The local bus......

The local bus......

Polhena Beach

Polhena Beach

We got woken up by the local school next door pretty early. More and more kids voices became the sound of chaos and laughter and jelling….and lasted from 6:30 to 1:30 afternoon!

We had a bit of a breakfast breakfast ( avocado toast and coconut, which felt so good!), grabbed our snorkeling gear and headed out of the door to find some sea life and turtles at near by beach. And so we did!

Lots of colorful fish and turtles! I have only seen one, a big one, as Jerry scouted it for me and it was beautiful and amazing to watch her smoothly glide through the water and munch on seaweed.  The beaches here are as beautiful as they get and there are not many tourists. Maybe because of the trouble last week in Kandy?Who knows…

Around lunch time we walked to the busier street to find some food and had the local meal of rice, veggies and cury. Man, everything here is hot!! Even the avocado toast in the morning! But we have discovered the secret….you have to have a bit of ice cream after the meal to even it out….:))) And yes, we have learned this from the locals!!

Beach life of dogs.......

Beach life of dogs.......

On our way back I got some really awesome bananas from local store and meanwhile Jerry got haircut and shave from barber across the street. Now he feels like starting again, just like new….:))

For the rest of the day we hang out between our place and beach….it was very hot! About 90F and baking sun…..really did not miss Czech Republic today…))

And tomorrow we have planed yet another adventure….scooter…

That will be fun, since driving on the “wrong side of the road”, on the left side is something neither of us has done yet. But lucky for me, I will have a professional driver from Middleburg Concierge…..:)))))))

The new hairdo.....:)

The new hairdo.....:)

March 16 - 18, Matara

Scooooter Day!

Our scooter was delivered to us in super early morning hours….about 6:45 am….

After a bit of morning food hopped on it and went along the coast north. Have to say, that Jerry has mastered the scooter without any problems and even the wrong side of the road did not bothered him much…we drove trough small villages, saw and stopped at some amazing beaches.

And also had a chance to see a rescue place for turtles, where we got to see their operation and some turtles, who have been injured and have to stay there as educational ambassadors and a lot of only few days old, freshly hatched youngsters, which they are releasing every few days, after their shells harden a bit, giving them better chance of survival in the few first days. It was hot and beautiful day and we made a point of signing for surfing lessons for the next morning. So we decided to keep the scooter one more day and drove into the town of Matara at night, just to see it. It was busy and full of opened shops and people.

Our transport vehicle of choice....loved it!

Our transport vehicle of choice....loved it!

Handsome fisherman on a beach....:)))

Handsome fisherman on a beach....:)))

Rescued......

Rescued......

This morning we got up early and drove to Weligama for our surf lesson. Have to say, it is pretty intense and when the waves get big, they definitely role you around a bit, with no problem. I think I got my fare share of that….but it was fun to try and play for a bit. Definitely admire all those, that make it look so effortless…..

After the lesson we went to rest and swim on one of the beaches we have discovered the day before, had lunch and went home. There we went to the local market, that sounded promising, but was very tinny….

As we liked our great house with wonderful hosts and interesting people from around the world sharing the house with, we ended up staying 4 days instead our planed 2….

And we have enjoyed every moment of being there! Such a relaxed atmosphere and laid back life style….

So far our favorite…..

Even more beaches........

Even more beaches........

March 18th, Unawatuna

First thing in the morning we went to snorkel one more time with hopes of finding some more turtles…..and we did….:)) They are so graceful in the water, even though being so big.

Once again, pacekd our stuff, said good byes to the great hosts and space and headed to catch a bus to our next place, about 35 miles north, Unawatuna, another coastal city.

We got there in very full bus again, met a group of Czechs about one minute before leaving the bus and stopped to have lunch at vegetarian place that was very disappointing….no good and no cheap either….

Well, we have very soon learned, that this was not such a nice quiet place as our previous. Here it was buzzing with music, lot of people in the streets and numerous shops and caffees…..very busy and crowded.

Our place where we were staying was pretty nice and quiet with view of coconut trees.

We headed to the beach in hopes of some water time as well, but this beach was again full of people, with big waves and boats parked by the shore….so after Jerry did go in for a bit, we sat down for a drink and a bit of people watching …… and decided, that this is not the right place to spend our time in and decided to leave the next day. Booked our train tickets for the next day and enjoyed some time on our balcony in the company of some monkeys in a tree close to us…….

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March 19, Kandy

Packed again , Tuk Tuk took us to the next town of Galle, where we have left our bags at the train station, went to visit the fort right next to the station and were ready to load the train an hour later with about half of the Sri Lankan population!!!!! It was so crowded, we had to stand the whole way of 3 hours in a doorway with another 3 people…..now this looked like the travel I have always imagined ….:)

It was quite an experience….no space to move much and the sales people were still making their way walking around trying to sell stuff from water, fruit and various food items….

not enough seats for all of us.....

not enough seats for all of us.....

"The magazine" shot from the train......

"The magazine" shot from the train......

"the real life" shot from the train....

"the real life" shot from the train....

In Colombo we had about 2 hrs before the next train and since we have booked our tickets over the phone, we just collected them and luckily did not have to stand in the huge line there was. As we have learned on our first time here, we have left our bags again at the station and went to find some local food, curry, veggies and rice ( and cold Cola of course) and walked through the market. There are usually markets right by bus or train stations. And everyone wants you to buy from them of course….it can get quite overwhelming ….

Hindu temple offerings....

Hindu temple offerings....

On our ride to Kandy we were sitting with a very nice French couple and had also a doorway to stand in, so it was pleasant ride and this time on time…J

In town we got Tuktuk and went to Nisa and Dill’s house again. Their full names are Nisansala and Dilruksha….I find it beautiful….and they are like our family away from home. They took us in like theirs.

We had tea and a little dinner and talked  all evening….

The city of Kandy, second largest after Colombo

The city of Kandy, second largest after Colombo

March 20, Kandy

Woke up at 6 am, had breakfast with the whole family and at 6:45 headed into town to drop off the kids to school and to stay in town. Nisa took us to the biggest Budhist temple. The Temple of Tooth. In the centre of the temple is hidden Budha’s tooth, which was secretly transported here from India many years ago and has been here since. It is beautiful and extravagant temple surrounded by gardens and small prayer temples.

Since it was so early in the morning and it felt a bit fresher, before the sun comes out and heats up the city, we have spent few hours walking and sitting around with Jerry and watched the place to slowly get crowded. On our way out we have watched few monkeys steel the flowers and bowls of rice which were offered to the Buddha. They were so cute…..

Morning view of The Lake of Kandy

Morning view of The Lake of Kandy

Gardens of the Temple of the Tooth

Gardens of the Temple of the Tooth

Inside of the temple.....

Inside of the temple.....

Right outside of the temple grounds we found a little coffee shop and found out that they had a TV, which we have not seen since leaving home and they had Moto GP ( motorcycle racing which I have been following for many yearsnow). So naturally we had coffee and sandwich and watched the race. And that was a great treat!!!

Anyway, for the rest of the day we walked around the hot city, visited numerous view points, since it has some nice hills and found our way back to Nisa’s house where we rested the evening…..

View from a big statue of Buddha seen from every corner of the city......too big to fit on a photograph..

View from a big statue of Buddha seen from every corner of the city......too big to fit on a photograph..

Monkey enjoying the offerings...:)

Monkey enjoying the offerings...:)

Street shot....

Street shot....

March 21, Sigiriya

In the morning had again breakfast with everyone and said good byes. They all headed to school meet of Sineja (their daughter) and we waited for our laundry to dry on the sun, packed everything back into our bags ( sometimes it feels that this trip is all about packing ) and caught a Tuktuk to the post office, since we have decided to send few of our things back home. After 3 weeks of carrying everything on our backs, we wanted to get rid of stuff we did not rally needed. So few things went and we will see who will be back home first…We were promised about 2 months delivery from here to Czech….:)

From there found a bus for our again crazy full and sweaty 3 hr ride, then another bus and Tuktuk to our destination …..

Jerry and Rex enjoying the sunset view of Sigiriya

Jerry and Rex enjoying the sunset view of Sigiriya

On our travel days, we really end up just traveling. The roads are so curvy and narrow, that the travel speed is not great. Compare to USA, where you cover great distances in short time, here it takes a long time to cover short distances. For example, today from Kandy to Dambulla 109 Km took us over 2,5 hrs.

As it turned out, we came to our place for the next 2 nights and we had no power in the whole village. But the good news was, that we still had running water, so shower was possible!! After a long day on the streets and roads that feels amazing! And you don’t even mind that cold water….:)……we have not had a warm shower (not that you would really want to) in over a week, or even longer…..you kind of learn to love the cold refreshing shower here…..:))) most of the places and houses just simply do not have a water heater….

Life in here is really simple….

You can choose your color....

You can choose your color....

We have a great view of the famous Sigiriya rock from our place and heading there first thing in the morning. We have contemplated for a while if we want to do it, since the entry fee for foreigners is quite steep and the crowds are huge there daily.

What happens here is that locals have almost free or very minimal fees to temples and sights, but foreigners are charged very high prices. And as you obviously are standing out in crowds everyone is trying to make some more money off of you and they have no shame to keep asking for more or to straight give you higher price for everything….it feels a bit strange after a while when you see through that……kind of becomes annoying and you have to start defending yourself…..but since we don’t speak sinhala and can’t read it either, it is not easy thing to do.

Measuring the rock for tomorrow......

Measuring the rock for tomorrow......

March 22,Sigiriya

Early morning rise at 5:45 am, went to see the sunrise with Rex and set off to our 500m walk to the Sigiriya Rock. We were staying really close ….

As the ticket counters opened at 7 am, we were right second in the line and actually were the first ones to go up!! Which meant that we had a wonderful view of the rock and almost all the way up for ourselves and without any other people …. which was truly amazing!!

The hike was not that strenuous as we thought it was going to be and did not took long. And also the early start had also the advantage of cooler weather.

All the way up it was beautiful to see the last bits of long time gone palace, which was used as monastery some years later as well. And the view around was stunning.

Sigiriya Rock

Sigiriya Rock

Lion paws at the entrance

Lion paws at the entrance

One of many beautiful views.......

One of many beautiful views.......

But I have to admit, that I was quite disturbed being up there and seeing few dogs and little puppies to live up there. The adult dogs were able to get up and down the mountain, but the little puppies were defenseless against the sun, had no water to drink and not to say had terrible case of mange ……just heartbreaking!!!!

If I was ever close to taking a dog or two with me, it was then up on the mountain…..

The whole situation with dogs is pretty bad here. They don’t seem to be fed, have to fend for themselves in most cases and really a big percentage of them have mange and/or some kind of injury…. It is so hard to see!! Very sad…..

Heartbreak .......

Heartbreak .......

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On our way down the rock a lot of people were just coming up and the crowds were forming in places….it paid off to go early.

Down from the mountain we headed for lunch to the little village right next and had some more of local, small mom and pop place. Rice and curry ( 6 kinds) and vegetable kotu.

And right before we sat down, an elephant walked by with 2 people on the top of him and a “trainer” walking next to him with a big bull hook in his hand. You could see the chain cuts on the elephants legs and hear all those around his neck…..such a big beautiful animal in such state. After seeing them live free in the National Park, this was very sad…..and hard to imagine his way of living…..

After the lunch, walking back to our place, I came to a message for the Sri Lankan people:

“ Free your elephants, feed your dogs and clean your s...t up”

Lunch

Lunch

It may sound harsh, but after what we have seen in 3 weeks here, that pretty much summons it up….

Don’t get me wrong, this country is very beautiful and people are nice, but there is a lot of suffering…. human, animal and nature suffering, mostly by human hand…..

For the rest of the day we have rested, since it got so hot and have made a plan with our Czech friends, who are also traveling, to meet in Bangkok on Saturday…..:)

So flying away in 2 days….

Monks

Monks

March 23, Negombo

After morning pack we set off for our day of travel again…..Tuktuk ride, slow local bus ride, a bit longer local bus ride and then another bus ride, this time with AC ( that was first for us) and made it to our destination in Negombo  in record time of 5 hrs….:))

Since we are close to the airport, this is not the nicest part of city, but managed to find some place for lunch and had a drink in a nearby upscale hotel resort.Then took Uber to the beach, to see the water one more time here. Well, to our surprise, the beach smelled very fishy ( not good) and water was dirty….so walked around, got some snacks and headed back to our place.

The moon is beautiful, there is nice breeze, temperature is getting a bit more comfortable…..

Tomorrow morning we leave Sri Lanka and head to Thailand.

Our journey continues….

Thank you Sri Lanka!!!!

In transit....

In transit....

If anyone is reading this blog regularly, you may have noticed, that I have not been posting for almost a week now, because I have decided to take a little break and just to enjoy the time with our friends.  So here we have some catching up to do…..

March 24th, Bangkok

Our last night in Sri Lanka was a bit unfortunate, because the place we were staying was right next to a little creek, not very clean, but have seen worse and it meant a lot of mosquitoes  …..  but I mean a LOT of them and in pretty big size too. And since it was such hot day and our place did not have an AC unit, we had to keep the windows open not so suffocate or to have a heat stroke ….so, you can imagine what kind of night we had….

In the morning, we run from there for a last Sri Lankan breakfast to a near buy place and packed our stuff and headed to the airport even though it was 4 hours before our flight.. Pretty much wanted to be anywhere but that house….

Lilly in front of our apartment

Lilly in front of our apartment

Our flight was really nice, we had a good seats with extra leg room sitting in the emergency exit row and had a great selection of latest movies…J What a great perk. We have both watched The Three Billboards outside of Missouri  …..what a great film!!!!!

Since our flight was a later one, we got to Bangkok around 8 pm and by the time we got sorted out there ( the immigration line was incredible long, spent one hour there), got our local sim card (never travel without it) and took a metro ride, or actually they call it Sky Line, since it is elevated over the city, we got to our place around 10pm. Our friends were already there. It was wonderful to meet up again, as we have celebrated a New Year with them this year in Czech.

It was a very long day of traveling. It seems that each time we are relocating, it takes the whole day to do so.

Good morning Bangkok

Good morning Bangkok

March 24 – 26th, Bangkok

I have to say, I have always imagined Bangkok as a very different city…not really sure in what way, but not as I have seen it now.

First of all, it was sooooo hot!! Since the very early morning, about 35-40C and since today was Sunday, it felt like very slow and sleepy city. We have walked around early in the morning looking for Starbuck, since that is our friends favorite place to go and so it was a first one for us outside of USA…and yes, it did kind of feel like being back in US.

As our friends have 3 kids and had a play date with some local friends in a Mall (pretty big and beautiful), we headed back to the apartment, since Jerry did not feel well….

Girl time with the fish

Girl time with the fish

But after a short nap and rest time, he felt better enough to go and explore the city a bit, so we headed to Chinatown…..not really sure how did we came up with that one, but it was actually pretty interesting. The amount of people, smells ,colors , food, stuff for sale was overwhelming…. We have walked around for few hours, bought some fruit, cashews and chestnuts (my favorite, but these were a lot smaller then I know from Europe and USA) and went to see a beautiful temple  Wat Traimmit near by.  The temples are everywhere here as well.

And the we reunited with friends at the evening  …..

Chinatown

Chinatown

Would you like a taste??

Would you like a taste??

VEGGIES!!!! This is my kind of cart....;)

VEGGIES!!!! This is my kind of cart....;)

Wat Traimmit Temple

Wat Traimmit Temple

The next morning, after the kids did their school and homework, as they are being home schooled around the world and the adults have made a plan for the next transition, we have all headed to the Grand Palace and Temple. We took Sky Line, boat ride and walked the rest. It was so hot, that by the time we got to the second palace, I have almost fainted from the heat and the amount of people there was astonishing. And so we have opted out and decided to not go in to the grounds …..we can only handle so much of crowds….

Morning school time.....

Morning school time.....

Bangkok boat ride

Bangkok boat ride

At the top of The Golden Mountain Temple

At the top of The Golden Mountain Temple

Beautiful bells everywhere at the Golden Mountain Temple

Beautiful bells everywhere at the Golden Mountain Temple

We headed back towards home, paused in a little corner bar for a cold beer and Cola, took the boat ride and metro again and were looking for a place to eat…..well, I have to say, that we were soooo looking forward to the Curys and Pad Thais from Sri Lanka, but very quickly have realized, that being a vegetarian in Bangkok in not an easy thing. There are so many different places to eat and street food, but most of it offers only dishes with meat. So we ended up walking a miles and peaking into uncounted numbers of menus each day, just to find some vegetarian food. And I found it very sad and surprising.

The Grand Palace

The Grand Palace

Temples wherever you look....

Temples wherever you look....

The following morning we all got up briskly early before 5 am and headed to the airport in the rain, since we had a nice thunderstorm! We have actually not seen rain since Nuwara Elyia in Sri Lanka. As it was so many of us, we traveled separately, but Uber works here pretty well, as it did in Sri Lanka too. Most time even cheaper than Tuktuk…..)

We again had all day of travel ahead of us, since we were heading to Koh Samui island in a Gulf of Thailand. The flight was short, about an hour, then we took a bus ride to the ferry, which was about 1,5hr long, then got of the ferry for about 1,5hr and then got a van to drive us to the rental house for about 40 min. Total time does not seem that much, but wit waiting between each of the legs and the transitions from one to another, it took us all day……but, our place is amazing with a pool right out of the kitchen door ….modern, beautiful, airy, relaxing and on the quiet side of the island…..love it!!

And it even has 2 bikes and a scooters!! Very lovely!!Jerry especially is very happy about that…J

The only thing any of us wanted to do was a bit of pool time, walked together to the closest beach for a dinner and watched the sun set…..perfect ending to another long day of travel…..

Our first sunset at Koh Samui

Our first sunset at Koh Samui

March 26-30th Koh Samui

If anyone is reading this blog regularly, you may have noticed, that I have not been posting for almost a week now, because I have decided to take a little break and just to enjoy the time with our friends.

I think we are getting used to the island life….:)

It is very relaxing, we got to just do what feels like we want to and mostly hang out together with our friends, play with the kids in the pool, visit beaches, drink a lot of coconut juice, spend all days in shorts and swim suits.

Jerry is happy to have a scooter to hop on any time, we ride it to the beaches, shops and today even to his first kite boarding lesson….:)

Have to say, that there is a lot of nice big resorts and fancy places and it is really just about how much money do you want to throw on it, like anywhere else, but it is much cleaner than Sri Lanka.

You still find plastic on the beaches surrounding areas, but much less.

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So many beautiful temples everywhere.....

So many beautiful temples everywhere.....

Amazing details

Amazing details

Since it is so many of us now, 4 adults and 3 kids, we have rented beautiful big fancy modern house with a pool right out of the kitchen and outdoor shower in each room…..oh it feels so nice to be spoiled…J))

Having the scooter gives us freedom to drive around, look for beaches and good food....and yes, it is much easier to find wonderful vegetarian dishes here.

Driving still happens on the left side here, but unlike in Sri Lanka, it is very civilized and one does not need to have a helmet. But have to say for myself, going over 60km/hr feels a bit reckless. But when you look around, you can see whole families on one scooter (2 adults with 2 kids), or a teenagers heading to party all 3 on one bike or  2 man with about a hundred of coconuts…..pretty much anything goes here…

Along the road you have fruit and veggie stands, houses, fields, shops and also water buffalo grazing along the roads. Most of them are tethered to the ground with a long rope and stick. That is pretty sad to me coming from Virginia, where all animals have green lush fields to roam on. Some of the bufalos are soooo big and beautiful! Have even seen few horses as well. Dogs are still present her, but in much smaller numbers than SL.

Beutifull flowers everywhere....

Beutifull flowers everywhere....

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First kiting experience....

First kiting experience....

The Big Friday will go into my diary as a day I have decided to test my iPhone.

Unwillingly of course….:)

Long story short, I took it for a swim in to the ocean……left it in my pocket of boy short swimming suite and found out as I came out of the water about 10 min later….whoooow….luckily we had some tap water, I did rince it off and was hoping for the best!!!!!

After all the iPhone 8 has been advertised as waterproof, right!!

And as it turned out, IT IS!!!!!

Have to say, I was very surprised and soooooo happy!!! It seems to be working just fine….PHEW….!!!!!!

Lots of beautiful art here

Lots of beautiful art here

Thai Massage studio

Thai Massage studio

After that morning swim we went for our first Thai Massage…..and it was perfect!! It reminded me of taking the course in Virginia and I got to refresh some of the moves I know. It felt so nice….

Then we headed for lunch, this time Jerry had wonderful Coconut soup but my fried noodles did not reach the expectations at all, but that is the trade of off street local cooking…hit or miss…

After we drove almost around the whole island, just to see and went through some jungle in the center and drove up some seriously steep driveways!!! If someone knows, what kind of driveway we had in Delaplane, thinking that that was steep, it was nothing compare to this!!! I was absolutely surprised that our scooter did make it up with both of us on it and I was fearing my life coming down!!! So steep!!!! Would definitely  not want to live up there, although the view was stunning of course…….

Full moon fire celebrations

Full moon fire celebrations

Yesterday we headed to find some nice beaches again, some what succeeded, had very good lunch of curry and fried rice, but great taste and filled with veggies and tofu….yummy….

Then we got a phone call, that there is enough wind for Jerry to continue his kite boarding lessons, so he headed to the beach and I went for a foot massage this time. And I have decided to take the foot massage course at the school in Chaing Mai, which is associated with my primary massage school in Virginia.

 

And since it was a full moon day, which gets to be greatly celebrated here in Thailand and also in Sri Lanka, there were parties going on the north side of the island. We all went out to dinner together with the friends and after we have planed our next day with Jerry back at home, we went for a full moon walk at the beach. And as expected it was magical….the moon, the waves, the warmth, the company….and we got to crush a fire party!! That was so cool to watch! It was fire poi and sticks and they were no amateurs!!

Perfect ending to our last night here….

Some amazing food one can find here.....:)

Some amazing food one can find here.....:)

April 1st, Koh Samui…..Fools Day!! And Easter!

As it is Easter today, we woke up to a start of an Easter hunt….:))

Katka and David prepared a little hunt for their kids, and they were properly excited!!So fun to watch them run around with big smiles on their faces…and then to eat  (and share) their findings.

We have packed our bags again and as they were headed to the Church, dropped us off by the Ferry port and we are waiting for our transport to the next island.

Have said our good byes to the friends ( for now) and to the beautiful island of Koh Samui….

Easter on the islands....

Easter on the islands....

As we got on board of pretty fast looking catamaran ferry, we saw some dark clouds ahead.

And of course, about a half way the heavens opened up…..and it was pouring down with some winds and the boat started to rock a little bit more. It was so dark, one could not see the islands we were passing. It was a bit scary, but as we came to our port, it was not raining so heavily, so we got our packs, wet from being stored outside during the passage and headed to a scooter rental place. But have to say, the vibe of this island of Ko Tao, was very different from the start. More relaxed….. so got the scooter and did load both of us and both of our big bags with a small backpack on it…..Have to say, I wish we had a picture of ourselves all on the tiny scooter!!!! I admit, that it was a bit scary, since I was sitting all the way at the back. There was nothing to hold on to, but Jerrys backpack which was between us like a third person and I had mine on my back behind me…..quite an adventure, especially in the rain and wet roads.

We did stop to have a lunch along the road and saw someone fell down on a scooter right in front of the place we were sitting. Everyone looked ok, few scrapes and probably bruises. But looked and sounded scary……unknown to us at that time, that we will be 2x in pretty scary almost accidents ourselves, but thanks to Jerrys fast reflexes and previous years of motorcycle riding, all ended up ok…

Those who know me, know the significance of this number.......:))))))

Those who know me, know the significance of this number.......:))))))

As we found our place of stay, headed to explore the island a bit more. There are just small, some places only dirt roads and they don’t even rent cars here, so mostly scooters everywhere. The beaches and the views are breathtaking! This island is hilly, so lots of steep driving here, but so worth it!!

We ended up extending our stay from planed 2 to 4 nights and enjoyed the time to relax and soak up the salt and sun.

Jerry did get sick for few days, did go scooba diving one day, I took very nice yoga class at a local studio, kept eating great veggie meals and relaxing.

There is a lot to see under the water here, so many beautiful, colorful fish,corals and also sharks!! That was pretty cool… one came a bit closer to me than I would choose, but so thrilling….:) to see them free….

It is amazing to see how much life there is under the surface, that one normally does not see just swimming around. And the water was so clear…..beautiful light blue color.

The pictures can never really show how beautiful it was there, but here is a few…..

Sai Daeng beech resort

Sai Daeng beech resort

Shark Beach

Shark Beach

Jerry contemplating life......or the snorkeling....:)

Jerry contemplating life......or the snorkeling....:)

Great food with great view

Great food with great view

Even the Buddha is relaxing here....:)

Even the Buddha is relaxing here....:)

Our last sunset at Sairee Beach

Our last sunset at Sairee Beach

April 6th, on the road

Packing and traveling day.

After long time of deliberations we made a plan of traveling by ferry, and bus today to Bangkok.

So morning pack, scooty drive to the ferry, pretty cool ferry ride on the top level with great view, little refreshment pit stop before loading the bus. And then 8 hours in the bus…….it was the 2 level one and sitting atop was comfortable enough. We made one pit stop for food and to stretch legs and few podcasts later we were in Bangkok, around 8:30PM as scheduled.

As we kind of knew the city a bit already, it felt good and safe to move around. Found the dodgy neighborhood we were staying, dropped off our stuff and headed to look for some dinner. We found a family cooking on a small street and they made us great tasting Padthai and Fried rice.

Bangkok is definitely a night city.

Our dinner being prepared.....Bangkok night around 10 pm

Our dinner being prepared.....Bangkok night around 10 pm

Our dodgy neighborhood in Bangkok

Our dodgy neighborhood in Bangkok

April 7th, Chiang Mai

Morning pack, Uber trip to metro, then half hour metro ride to the Airport and about an hour long flight…..we are getting so good about the traveling….:)))

I actually love to travel, it makes me feel like my life is changing in some way…..always felt like this…from my time living in France I guess…..

And in Chiang Mai we walked from the airport to our accommodation! That was a FIRST for both of us. Normally you take a taxi or metro, but this time we live about 20 min walk from the Airport, so we did just that…..:)) It was a bit hot, but we made it!!

We rested the rest of the afternoon, Jerry did not feel well from the flight and found a great organic market with restaurant very close and had beautiful meal there. It had an urban feel, kind of like in usa.......modern and really wonderful food, vegan.

Walk from the airport

Walk from the airport

April 8th and 9th, Chiang Mai

These both days were like Groundhog Day.

I was signed up for the Foot Massage course, so starting 9 am till 4 pm I walked to the school and Jerry walked around the city exploring.

It felt so wonderful to be a student again and to be learning something new! We had fun local teacher and great international group of 7…..and to my great surprise, 4 of us from the 7 were Czech….:)))

I have met great young couple and their friend from Brno there and we had a lot of fun all together.

Our other students were from China, Morocco and Greace, so pretty international group.

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When we met with Jerry at the afternoons on both days we rested a bit, shared our day with each other and headed to a night market. And these were a lot of fun and exactly how I imagined a big market would look like! The Saturday one was on a street 1 km long filled with vendor tents on both sides and adjacent streets as well….filled with clothing, jewelry, bags, shawls, nick nacks, pottery, pillows, carvings, soups….really anything you can imagine in amazing colors and motives. All Thai clothing is very colorful and they use patterns a lot. Everything is very happy and I have to say, the Saturday Market was much quieter and peaceful than the Sunday one (which was also much bigger) although there were a lot of people.

And of course the food…..so much of it and very good. We ended up walking through both of the nights well into late hours…getting home around 11 pm both nights…..and that made for very long days.

I think Jerry ended up walking around 20 km a day on both days.

The Night Market

The Night Market

Prayer fountain

Prayer fountain

March 9th, Chiang Mai

It is laundry Monday.

Lucky for us, our building has a washing machine on the roof…..literally….so we have decided to wash our clothes. Well, as we could not read the instructions well and the way it was set up to run…..long story short….it ended up taking  about 3 hours to finish the cycle and could not been changed.

So all morning we were checking on it until finished and we could hang it dry on the lines (no dryers off course). The warm breeze blowing on the roof made it dry by the time we came back from our city walk in the afternoon.

We walked to the town, had an amazing Thai Massage, where I was massaged by tiny lady who absolutely and wonderfully brutally massaged my body into awesome release…..Jerry had similar experience. It felt so good and there are massage salons on every corner!!Any time you think of having massage, you have no problem finding a place.

Best way to relax after a long day of walking....

Best way to relax after a long day of walking....

Just chilling.....

Just chilling.....

Chipotle thai style.....:)

Chipotle thai style.....:)

March 10th, Chiang Mai

To be more mobile and to be able to go wherever whenever we want to, we have decided to rent a scooter and drive north of the Chiang Mai.

That meant packing again, but since we have so much stuff and would not fit with it all onto one scooter, we have packed both into my bag and left Jerry's bag with most of our stuff at the rental place. We were lucky we could do that! But as we have left the rental place, have realized very quickly, that we still have brought too much stuff. The bag, which I had on my back, was so heavy, that it was pulling me back. It took us about a hundred miles to figure out a way how to deal with the whole situation. We had to pack and repack twice and had to redistribute stuff through the bikes compartment, big and small bag we had. But have to say, now it is down to comfortable situation.

So we headed out of city and went to visit Jerry’s friend Tessa, who he knows from his yoga Teacher Training and have not seen her since.

From there we headed north to a city of Pai. The drive was beautiful and felt like driving up to Shennandoah NP in Virginia…..one turn after another…and it comes to a total count of 762 curves!!!Jerry was wishing to be on a real bike, instead of a scooter….:)) Boys and their toys….:)

This was also our first time heading out somewhere without booking a night ahead. So we drove in as the sun was about to set behind the mountains and saw a nice looking coffee place with sign of rooms for rent. Went in, saw available room, saw that there was pool as well and stayed.Watched the breathtaking sunset, drove the 3 miles to the city, walked the street with market and a lot of places to eat and mostly western people. Had a lovely meal and coconut ice cream….so good…

The days are rather hot here, reaching 106F (around 40C)  during the day. So anything to cool you off a bit is very welcomed here….

Amazing sunset.....

Amazing sunset.....

March 11th, Pai

Jerry went early in the morning to a local viewing spot for a sunrise while I have enjoyed time for my practice.

Last night we have learned very sad news from Virginia so we walked up to the Buddha statue overlooking the whole city and made a little offering. It was our way of saying good byes to wonderful people and to ask for strength and blessings for our friends……

In these past few sad days I have realized, that when people you love are hurting, no matter where in the world you are, you are hurting with them.

Buddha overlooking the town of Pai

Buddha overlooking the town of Pai

Sometimes looking through the destruction reveals the beauty

Sometimes looking through the destruction reveals the beauty

March 12th on the road

Hoped on the scooter in the early AM hours and were on our way to Mae Hong Son, province capital.

Made a coffee stop at a small, cute coffee shop with rooms and few cute porches overlooking a river. And there the owner, originally from Richmond, gave us a tip to visit a village Jabo along our way.

So we did and loved it! Right 3 miles of the main road a small village with the most amazing mountains we have seen so far….kind of like in Avatar movie….and you can have a lunch there with your feet dangling in the air off the edge of the building with the mountain view in front of you…..pretty cool, really!!

Big smiles....

Big smiles....

The View.....

The View.....

The ride itself was just continuum of serpentine after serpentine and was getting long.

But we made it into town almost dry….as the Sokran was beginning, we got our first bucket of water hose down right before the city.

Well, found the cute hotel with really nice room, AC (very important since the temps were reaching over 41C/106F) and a pool….another treat….

In the evening we have walked through the town and around the pond, where we have expected some New Year celebrations preparations going on, but to our surprise not much was happening. Enjoyed quiet evening and dinner instead.

On the road.......

On the road.......

April 13th, Mae Hong Son

 

Slept great in very comfortable sheets with beautiful view of the faraway mountains, first thing we went to visit the WAT (temple) we had close to our hotel, overlooking the city. It was very hot already around 9 am and so we leisurely made our way up the hill, luckily through wooded area. Below the big main fancy temple was an older one. One of those that are just build from concrete, just white and weathered looking, those are my favorite. And above it was the big one. The whole way up we have thought (well I thought), that we were the only ones going up, since there were no other people around. And to my surprise, we were just the only ones walking up, as the rest of the people drove up from behind….:))

One of my favorites....

One of my favorites....

We have spent some time up there, sitting in the shade, talking and enjoying the view….and also, since it was the last day of the year (in Thailand) and that meant Sokran was beginning , the three day celebrations were beginning….and one way to celebrate is to visit a temple and pore water on Buddha statue. So we did…..

At the late afternoon we went again into the town and today the water hosing really started. The kids and teenagers had stations set up on the streets with barrels of water and hoses, spraying you as you walk or drive by….so few stations and you are completely soaked…..and that goes on all day, every village and town…..

Sunset over the rice fields....

Sunset over the rice fields....

April 14th, Mae Hong Son

 

We have decided to move on and ride to our next destination. On a recommendation of the three new Czech friends, we were heading to a village across the mountain.  And it was the highest mountain in the whole Thailand, Doi Inthanon. As we slowly made our way up, it was getting a bit cooler and felt wonderful to have a long sleeve. At the top there are two WATs dedicated to King and Queen with breathtaking gardens of flowers around and between them. Really the most beautiful colors we have seen the whole trip so far. So we have stayed for some time, soaking in the beauty and freshness.

Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon

At the top

At the top

Well, everyone was discouraging us from the drive, since Sokran was in full swing and the water hosing really did get into full swing. We have decided to proceed anyway …. well, not the best decision after all ….. It became apparent pretty soon that this was going to be some hell of a ride. Each village we came to had multiple stations of locals with full barrels of water and hoses ready to get you as you drive by. Yes, it was fun at first, when we, thanks to Jerrys awesome driving skills, avoided full hose downs on few occasions, but then there were full buckets of ice cold water thrown at us and there was no escaping it by any means!! Not pleading, not driving fast, not stopping, not showing them that we had in our backpacks all of our belongings … none of that helped us from being completely drenched, water flying off of us as we drove….they were pretty ruthless.

It kind of sounds fun, but when you are driving and the air moves, it was a bit cold, even in 40C weather. And the fact that you are sitting in wet pants all day was just no fun after a while. And the moment the air did dry our clothes a bit, we came to another village….

And that went on till we have reached our destination, very happy we could get off the scooter and change into dry set of clothes…..well, for now…..:)

Water buffalo along the road

Water buffalo along the road

At the evening, the celebrations truly started with all people from the village going to the main street and joining in with the water hosing and celebrating. As the dawn set in, the celebrating intensified and wagons with live music rolled in….loud rock n’ roll, metal and so on….street full of soaked people, dancing, drinking, eating, celebrating the New Year, there was no escaping it….this time it had fun energy, lots of young people and we were almost the only foreigners.  I think I caught a glimpse of one or two another ones, but that was it. Pretty cool actually.

Water celebrations....:)

Water celebrations....:)

Night celebrating Happy New Year!!

Night celebrating Happy New Year!!

April 15th Chiang Mai

 

In the morning hoped on our scooty and went to Chiang Mai. Driving along the major highway in, we stopped in Outlet Mall, just to see what is being sold here, but did not buy anything. Few same brands as in America and some which we did not know. Nothing exciting and we of course do not need anything. What we have we have to be dragging with us everywhere, so we try not to buy stuff.

We made it to our previous private hotel after lunch and went out to eat and relaxed in a familiar neighborhood of Chiang Mai.

Went to the night market and Jerry did try the salted grilled fish he wanted for so long and I had my favorite mango sticky rice and I also had a hair cut….:)

Jerry's fish dinner....

Jerry's fish dinner....

The next day we have said good buy to our scooty and bought bus tickets to a little town on the borders with Laos and got slow boat tickets from there. And we were ready for the next adventure….

The 6 hour long bus ride was ok, it was not as comfortable as the one to Bangkok by no means, but we went through some beautiful green mountains and little local villages. We came to Chiang Khong around 4:30 pm, walked to our first hostel we were staying and to our surprise were the only people staying there….so no new friends for us….The hostel was newer and had kind of western modern look. After a dinner we walked the main street and had an awesome big rain shower coming through at the evening. Very nice downpour. It felt great!!

The town is situated on the bank of the Mekong River, which we walked to as our first thing after settling in. It is plenty big, flowing fast and kind of brown color…..

And we were to spend our next 2 days on this river. Whoa……

Hostel

Hostel

Mekong river with Laos on the other side....

Mekong river with Laos on the other side....

April19th, Mekong river

 

In the morning we got picked up by our tansport across the river to Laos side, but first we had to get our departing stamp into our passport on the Thailand side. Then ride the bus over the river to Laos, where you fill up paperwork, present 2 passport pictures and pay, in our case 30$ fee, and wait for your passport to get the visa to enter Laos. The whole thing took maybe about 15 – 20 min. Then we walked through the customs and were ushered into a van with another 12 people and were driven to the boat location.

Well, it looked a bit different, more old and funky, than we have expected perhaps. There were about 120 car seats and we were almost full. All of us travelers and few locals. We have made friends with Sjoerd from Nederland and Caelan from Texas right away. And we had very good time together through the 2 days of travel!!

Our boat

Our boat

The view

The view

Slow boat gangsters.......;)))))

Slow boat gangsters.......;)))))

Where else then on a boat would you like to be asked a question: “ Did you two meet through a fax machine??”……referring to our age…..:))))))

The river has a brown color, kind of muddy and is surrounded by hills mostly on both sides with some big rocks and sand. The current is quite fast and some places you can see even some rapids and whirlpools.I would definitely not like to fall in.

Late afternoon we stopped in a village where everyone was waiting for us. We did not have a room booked, but there were so many places to stay with rooms available, that we had no problem finding one we likedSet our packs in and went for stroll of main street, which was short and had amazingly good Indian food right across the street from where we were staying.  But to our surprise, in Laos they have a lot of French influence, which means….bread!!!! And pastries …..jupiiiii!!So I we had some in the morning for breakfast of course…..:))

Breakfast with the view

Breakfast with the view

The next day on the boat was a bit tighter, since this boat was a bit smaller and we had more locals joining in, so a bit different feel, but fun still.

When we reached Luang Prabang, loaded into a Tuk Tuk ( a bigger version than Sri Lanka or Thailand) and got dropped off in the center of the city with all of our friends and some new ones, who we kept running into the next few days….:)

Found our place to stay and headed out for dinner with Sjoerd and Caelan and met the young couple (Americans) from TukTuk as well. Went for a drink in very cool place called Utopia, hang out and enjoyed the evening.

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Texting and driving happens everywhere....

Texting and driving happens everywhere....

And for the next 4 days just hang out around the town, rented a scooter and went to see Kuang Si waterfalls, which are one of the most beautiful we have ever seen with crystal blue water and pools you can swim in. We have met some young kids in their twenties from Czech and France, who again reminded us of our age…..and I have realized, that to these “kids” we are kind of old to be doing this…..And we were thinking, that we are so young!!!.....:))) But honestly, looking around us, we mostly see people much younger to be traveling and backpacking here everywhere and we are old farts to them……..just a realization….ha ha But our spirits did not get damped by that…..

Scooter time....

Scooter time....

Would love to know what the writing says....

Would love to know what the writing says....

The city is beautiful, kind of has slow pace, feels very peaceful. The rivers Mekong and Nam Khan come together here and they are a central aspect of this city. Each morning you can see locals to come in from the other side of the river to buy fresh produce. It is surrounded by hills on all sides, has 33 temples, lots of beautiful old houses and streets with French influence. There are few very fancy and beautiful resorts and hotels, which fit right in and enhance the calm and beauty of this place. Every night there is big market with so much beautiful crafts being offered. The colors and craft are really special. The beginning of each day dominates the morning food market, which is a must see as well. The beauty of numbers of vegetables, fruit and other is culinary’s dream. And of course a lot of meat and animal products as well. This cuisine runs on meat. The prices here are quite much higher than the rest of Laos. But there is a lot to enjoy……

Maarket time

Maarket time

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One day, as we were enjoying our breakfast in Zurrich Bakery, our favorite place for fresh multigrain bread and pot of tea, a man begun to talk to us and asked us to join a Library talk with monks and young boys. It was for them to practice English and to learn about other countries and such. I had a group of about 8 boys of teenage years and 2 young monks. Some were shy and some had no problem to talk to me. Jerry had older boys. The 2 hours we were with them went by pretty fast. It was fun.

Even some yoga time.....

Even some yoga time.....

Our next plan was to fly to Vietnam, but we have changed it on last minute and decided to fly to Kuala Lumpur instead. And the last night we have met Craig from USA and he recommended and with that supported Jerry’s idea to go to Sumatra….so the deal was sealed and we were actually on the same plane together and have to say that was the scariest and the most beautiful flight we have EVER been on!!! We flu through a storm with lightning striking around us and at one moment it felt like we were falling down…..quite frightening……but on the other hand, as we came out of the storm, we had the most amazing  show of the clouds….really beautiful….so it evens out at the end…J)))

Through the storm.....

Through the storm.....

Night life......

Night life......

As we landed in Kuala Lumpur we got on the bus to the city, since the airport is about 50Km away. Made it to our accommodation and went out for food. Well, I am not sure how early the city wakes up for work hours, but around 10pm seemed like the whole city was out eating and having fun…..loud music, lights and food…

It never seems to work out for us with our plan to go to bed early. Never seem to make it to bed before 11-midnight.

April 26th Kuala Lumpur

Woke up in a big city in 19rd floor…..and headed in to the jungle outside…..

The city itself seems very wide and does not seem to have a much character, but we did not give it fair enough time. We walked the Golden Triangle, went through China Town, Little India and ended up by the Petronas Towers, which has a huge shopping mall, maybe even bigger then Dubai. So we have enjoyed some time in AC….:), hung outside in the park in front of the towers and went to check out a home improvement fare they had going on at a pavilion across the park. And there Jerry spotted the perfect place for the sunset….Sky Bar!!!! Right across the Towers….perfection….:))Went up to 33rd floor to a bar with huge pool and lounges around it. Have to say, that was pretty fun. We enjoyed a drink with the best view….no complains…JThen walked back home through the night market, had a dinner there and bought a fly tickets to Sumatra for the next day…..

Window framing....

Window framing....

Petronas Towers

Petronas Towers

And if you came to this point, you may be wandering, why there are no photos......and that is, because I am sitting on the island inside of the Toba Lake in Sumatra and the internet connection is so slow, I would be here all night to get the photos in.....so for now, until I find a faster internet, this will be it.....Thank you!!

Our next destination was Indonesia.

We flew to Medan, capital of Sumatra, where we have spent about 10 days. First few days on Toba Lake,then moved to Batang Serangan, where we did 2 day treck into the jungle and have met semi-wild orangutans.

From there we flew to Bali and stayed about 2 weeks. Part of the time in Ubud and mostly on the north shore in Amed. There we took Free Diving course and Jerry has found is big passion for the challenges of the deep sea freediving.

On 27th May we flew from Denpasar, Bali to Perth, Australia and spent 2 weeks on the west coast. It was slowly getting into the winter and was raining a lot, but we still got to see Australia for the first time and met with our wonderful friends we have made along the way.And some kangaroos of course….:)

After beautiful 2 weeks I have decided to fly back home, to enjoy the summer and Jerry went back to Indonesia on his own for another 3 weeks.

We had an amazing time on our travels and after the summer spent in Europe, we are heading for next adventure in few days. I am not sure if I will keep posting on this blog, since it takes a lot of time for me to do so and takes me away from enjoying the moments.But perhaps check accossionally, I will do my best to post some news.

For now have a wonderful day and keep enjoying the life your way….:))

Love and Namaste