Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thailand - Bangkok and Koh Samet

I wanted to get relaxed and have totally personal time in Thailand. When I reached Bangkok I was feeling like my soul was free and I had some time to enjoy my life. I didn't like Bangkok much because its a busy city like other busy cities out there. I needed silence, calmness, relaxation and an atmosphere without depression.

Accommodation In Bangkok

I booked my hostel in Bangkok one day before me arrival. As usual, as a backpacker, I took skytrain or metro from the airport and avoided Tuk Tuk not only this time but during my whole trip. As I already read about the misguidance provided my Tuk Tuk drivers. My hotel cost me almost US$6/day. Again, HELL CHEAP! It was an 8 bed mixed dorm and the hostel was situated in Chrao Krung road which is a clean area unlike Patong or Khaosan road.

Festival in Bangkok

There was a Loy Kratong festival during those days. In the festival people make a beautiful Loy Kratong with banana leaves and tree. People make or buy Loy Kratong and float it in the river with a wish in mind with a believe that their wish will be fulfilled. The CS community arranged a gathering where we all made our own Loy Kratong and then went to float it in the river. We were the largest group of people on the roads and the river.

Making Kratongs

One of the CSer is making mine. I found it boring.

last minutes! Every one was busy.

Beautiful CSers

Thai people were damn good at making Kratongs.

Going beyond Bangkok.

I had planned to go Krabi and Koh Phi Phi, one of the few most beautiful islands in the world. But due to a full moon festival train tickets weren't available and time wasn't in my favor as well. So I decided to go to Pattaya, one of the ugliest,  nudest and crowded beach near Bangkok, which is not my taste. So, after consulting with CSers and tourists offices in Bangkok, I later changed my plan and went to Koh Samet, one of the beautiful islands in Thailand.
It cost 200baht from Bangkok to Ban Phe from where a ferry cost me 50 Baht to the island.

Accommodation in Koh Samet

As a result of little bit misguidance, I booked an expensive hotel in Koh Samet which cost me US$18/day which I immediately changed after only a single day. The next hotel was just like a hostel but my room was private with separate washroom which was quite acceptable for me as it cost me USD7/day.
It was Papa Rogers guest house who was a 75 years old active man from Finland and had many many interesting stories to share.

Coconut trees add much to the beauty of the beach 
The beaches were clean, calm, beautiful and the best thing was that there was traditional Thai massage available right at the beach. It feels very good to have Thai massage after bathing.
Island has 7 beautiful beaches

Plenty of stuff to get involved with on beach which won't let you get bored

Even on streets people walk without shrits. 

Koh Samet is a very small island at a distance of 200 km from Bangkok and then 30 minutes by ferry, with 7 beaches all of which have different taste and beauty due to diamond sand and clean beaches. Some of them are crowded and others are silent and calm. Some have very rough night life while some would just offer light music with light noise waves. It has only one road which leads to different island and make people feel if they are totally separate from outside world. Accommodation range from 250 Bath to 4000 Bath per night. Motor bikes are available for as cheap as 300 Bath per day. Despite being an small island, I didn't want to leave it after 3 days even. Restaurants offer many activities after sunset and it goes on overnight and sometimes some great activities can be enjoyed for absolutely free.
Having dinner at beach like this is a very good experience

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Shanghai - Yixing - Hangzhou,- Shaoxing - Yiwu

 Railway is definitely a better choice when compared to long distance buses. Its not because traveling by bus is uncomfortable or dangerous but railway is cheaper, comfortable, faster and safer. But railway tickets are needed to be booked in advance. Because usually the earliest train is booked and the earliest ticket that we can get is mostly after 2-3 hours.

Booking tickets for train

Buses depart exactly on time.
Inside the train
Waiting area inside bus station

Two hundred kilometers from Shanghai is a small and infamous city of Yixing. It has several tourist sites but normally even Chinese don't know about Yixing. I visited a famous cave in Yixing only and took a two days stay over there. 
Before the cave

Cable car 80 Yuan ticket included four activities.

Statue built in olden days

A very big Buddhist temple. Actually a place with many many temples and one grand temple.


On second day I moved towards Shaoxing and reached Hangzhou which is a big city and very famous among tourists. They call Hangzhou and Suzhou as heaven on earth. While I reached Hangzhou at 8 pm, I came to know that there was no bus to Shaoxing. It was quite a adventurous situation as no one could understand english and there was no guidance at all about where to spend night. I had no accommodation and wasn't wanting to afford an expensive hotel. I called a CSer who was supposed to host me in Shaoxing. Luckily he was on his way to Hangzhou and invited me to surf with him in Hangzhou at that time.

They were bunch of cool guys and I stayed with them that night. We had awesome having street food, watching movie at their home, talking, exchanging knowledge. It literally felt like we had been old friends. 
Having street food

Getting her make halal foof

Having fun at home

Next day me and my host, Nenad, went to west lake which is one of the most famous sites in Hangzhou. It was extremely beautiful place although with some artificial beauty and efforts to make it more beautiful and comfortable for tourist. But still its a must visit place in Hanghzou.
West lake, Hangzhou


West lake, Hangzhou

 West lake, Hangzhou.


In Yiwu, I was received, entertained, hosted and guided by a very nice person named Claude. We had a party with his friends on the night I reached Yiwu. I always wanted to see Yiwu's big and very famous Futian market where shopkeepers mostly don't understand english and still conduct millions of dollars of business everyday. Sometimes people talk business and bargain with the help of calculator only. As there's no verbal communication possible in english. 
With my host in Yiwu


One of the most beautiful cities in China and very close to Shanghai, Suzhou is very famous for its gardens and temples. One of its famous street in Ping Jiang Lu where I stayed with my hosts as well as in hostel for a day. I visited a famous lake and Ping Jiang Lu in Suzhou and couldn't explore more as it was raining all the time with very cold weather. This is, like Hangzhou, is said to be heaven on earth.

For people who like adventure like me, can rent a bicycle from hostel or any where for as cheap as 2 Yuan/hour and go for exploring Suzhou on bicycle. Its fun exploring city and having different kinds of food on streets.
Construction in progress near lake

Suzhou lake
My hosts in Suzhou were a Polish couple who lived on Ping Jiang Lu in a well decorated house and who had a separate room for guests. As their house was on Ping Jiang Lu, there was no point of getting bored.
My hosts in Suzhou - In a Japanese restaurant. 

Bicycles can be rented for cheap money

Ping Jian Lu

Ping Jian Lu