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Thailand

Author: Maria Zehentner
Beitrag vom: 30.03.2018

Vacation from our vacation!

Thailand, February, March 2018

 

And that's why there are no exciting photos in the report, but mainly mobile phone snapshots. Leander has actually managed to keep his camera almost the whole time in his backpack for the two weeks. Now, the long-awaited moment came close. Sun, beach and sea, we are ready! We throwed away our winter boots and swoped to thonges. Whenever we said, that we were going to Thailand while sending Akela off to Borneo, we were often asked:” Are you doing nothing else than being on vacation?” We mostly answered with a weary smile on our lips with "Yes". Only someone, who did not even deal with us or our trip could put such an ill-considered question in the room.

After thinking about it for a long time, we decided for the island of Koh Samui. Basically not at all our holiday destination, but the fact, that Chrisi and Hannes, two dear friends from Austria, spent their holidays there with parents and siblings, was the main argument for our decision. Whether it was smart, we did not know, but we planned to crumble their holiday and hoped earnestly, not to make them angry. Every time we had a phone chat, we pretended to spend our vacation on the neighboring island of Koh Phangan. While we were actually sitting on Koh Samui and waiting for them. However, we were not so brazen and checked in at the same hotel as they, we allowed them a little privacy.

In more than 14 years of traveling together, Leander and I had a sure hand for unfavorable travel dates. Sonkran, the water festival in Thailand, Diwali the festival of colors in India or Noruz, the Persian New Year. These celebrations were unique and extraordinary experiences during our travels. But away from the usual tourist trails, these weeks of festivities turned out to be exhausting as well. An entire country seemed to fall into a kind of state emergency in which hardly anything had its normal course. A flood of domestic and foreign tourists overflowed hotels and restaurants, causing very high prices. Offices and shops were only partially open, and sights suffocated in the stream of visitors.
This time, the Chinese New Year put a stop to our calculations. We first felt it in the online hotel search. For simple accommodations, a fortune was required. And no, not because we had decided on the island of Koh Samui, which was described as expensive. For weeks we scoured the Internet for offers. But all of Southeast Asia seemed to be fully booked at this time. On the spot it made just “bang”. Wherever you looked around, Chinese were bustling around, hiding under huge sun hats and making the beaches unsafe with their selfiesticks. Around 500,000 Chinese were on vacation. Basically it resembles a migration of peoples.

Well, the Chinese. I have to admit, that we were not big fans of this people. Our journey took us all the way through Central Asia, giving us a good insight into the economic and political problems of each country, and unfortunately I have to say, that in 9 out of 10 examples, the Chinese were involved as co-causers or co-debtors. We did not like that!
On holiday, they appeared in groups, were incredibly loud, some rude, and their table manners left a lot to be desired. We still resented the complicated and overpriced entry bureaucracy in their country, that kept us away from giving China a chance.
We were very lucky with our hotel in Chaweng Noi. It was small and nice. The city and the environment caused an over-stimulation of all senses in us. It was not our first visit to Thailand, so we could clearly see the increasing change in recent years.

The islands scattered in the turquoise-blue Indian Ocean exert a magical magnetism on many people. Movie classics like “James Bond” or “The Beach” also took advantage of the gorgeous backdrops, adding even more to the popularity of various spots. With dramatic effects on land and people. According to the current example, the responsible governments temporarily shut off Maya Bay in Thailand and some Philippine islands from the flow of tourists, in order to rehabilitate them. Isn`t that sad? What do we humans actually think we are? Does money and power really make us so selfish in thinking and acting, that we slipped nature down so disrespectfully? Did the entire planet first have to be put on the red list, in order to protect it from the so called educated Homo Sapiens? It looked like, because before we humans settled down on earth, there was a healthy balance.
Often Thailand is described in travel catalogs as the land of eternal smiles, but in truth it is a prime example of a misguided tourist policy. Nature, locals and tourists are in no healthy relationship to each other anymore. The ruble has to roll, that's the goal. The decades-long and ongoing popularity of the country meant, that large investors built in the middle of small fishing villages huge hotel blocks. The first tourists followed a steadily growing infrastructure. Restaurants, supermarkets, diving schools, souvenir shops, massage parlors ... were whipped up in no time and pushed local businesses into the background.

In every foreigner is the fast money suspected. You needed to be very patient, not to freak out with all the traders, who wanted to make a bargain. A small example. We paid 15 years ago between three and five euros for a simple bamboo bungalow, today you have to pay at least up to 15 euros, including cleaning up after the guest before you.

But in the midst of the unbearable noise level, the bright neon signs, the horrendous traffic, the many shops and hotels, they still exist. The artisans and fishermen with their families, who have not gotten anything from the cake of money and fell through the rust. Their smile has long passed away, and an occasional grudge against foreigners is understandable. The construction boom was omnipresent, even if the money ran out in between. Semi-finished hotels and construction sites characterized the streetscape. Somewhere hidden in the hinterland, you came across huge garbage dumps, which were repeatedly set on fire to make room for new ones. The garbage issue had assumed a devastating magnitude in Thailand. Which did not mean, that locals or tourists behaved worse than elsewhere. No! The number of people made the measure so overcrowded. Mist bucket overflowed, channels were blocked and private garbage mountains piled up behind houses or shops. In it, cows, goats and chicken scouring for food, and sooner or later they land on our foodplate. Bon appetite!

Partly entire regions stifled in the garbage. The lack of understanding for a well-functioning ecosystem, and the greed of various masterminds of course delayed the process of rethinking enormously. Which is urgently needed.
But not only on solid ground, the sell-off of the country made noticeable, even at the bays and in the sea, you could see the tracks clearly. Plastic bottles lined beach sections after party nights and other rubbish, which was washed ashore by ocean currents every day.
Fishermen who still bothered themselves and drove out with the boats at night, mostly came back with empty nets. The few fish, that had escaped the global overfishing of the seas had gone the distance, which was no wonder in the traffic, that prevailed on the water. Every day, tourists were transported from island to island in minute intervals with long tail boats, ferries or speed boats. Or they were snipped to beautiful snorkeling spots, where they jumped into the sea to get a picture of Nemo & Co. And because it was so beautiful, maybe you also took a piece of coral with you. As a souvenir for home. Where should all this lead?

Fortunately, the arrival of Chrisi and Hannes put us quickly back in vacation mode. Equipped with a welcome banner, we stood at the airport and waited for the them. Impatiently, we stepped from one foot to the other. But, we could not see them! The plane had landed long ago. Did we miss them? After an hour of wasted waiting time we drove disappointed with the scooter back to our hotel. Once there, we sent them a photo of us three at the airport, that we had previously made as proof of being there. Now it should actually make a click to them. But nothing like that happened. Chrisi thanked us for the sweet idea of ​​sending them a welcome photo. Furthermore, she wrote that they were already in the hotel and after the long flight, they only wanted to relax on the beach. Even when Leander texted her, that they should keep to the right of the beach, it did not ring a bell.
In no time we sprinted from our hotel to their beach section, sat there on a transversely growing palm tree, held the selfmade banner in front of our faces and waited. After a felt eternity, we saw them. When they spotted us, they clapped their hands over their heads and could hardly believe it. What a surprise! Chrisi was still thrilled, while Hannes stomped unerringly into the next Seven Eleven store and organized drinks to toast.
Here we were, on the beach of Koh Samui. With a bottle of beer in our hands and a fat grin on our faces. Life could be worse! The rest of the afternoon we spent together on the beach, and gradually rolled up the story of our small white lie.
Instead of meeting for a day trip either on Koh Samui or Koh Pangan, as it was officially agreed, we now had three relaxing days with lots of fun on Koh Samui. Much of the time we spent relaxed on the beach. Lennox visibly enjoyed being swarmed by Chrisi and being animated by her brother Thomas in the pool. Ice, Shakes & Co came very loose these days over the counter. But who cares, we are in holiday mode.

As so often in life, time did not stop when it was most beautiful. My dear friends, meeting you was awesome! It was good to embrace you and press hard. We hope you had a similar experience, and we did not take you by surprise! It was great to be provided with news from home and at the same time to give you a deeper impression of our lives. At this time without a collapsing Internet connection, which was so often the case, when having a phone chat.
Thank you for the great time together and thank you for tearing down our long list of groceries before you left home and carrying about ten kilos of extra baggage. We miss you and look forward to the next time! After a total of five days on Koh Samui, we had to say good bye. We packed our few belongings into our backpack and took a taxi to the harbor, from where we had booked a ferry to Koh Pangan. The remaining time we would spend there in a remote resort on the beach.

As we sat on the pier in the stifling heat and waited for our ferry, I suddenly could not believe my eyes. Did not Chrisi, Hannes, her brother Thomas and his girlfriend approach us? Well camouflaged behind sunglasses, but it was unmistakable them. After a last hug and a few tears in our face, we finally needed to jump on the ferry and waved good buy.

Our hotel was well hidden away with a few other accommodations on the Haad Khuat beach in the north of the island. From the Internet description was unfortunately not clear how well hidden it was. After we docked at the Thong Sala Pier, we were put on a group transfer, which once drove us across the island and finally settled us at a small boat landing stage. From there we went again by boat into our bay. The Bottle Beach Resort made a nice impression at first glance. Although it was a lot bigger than our hotel on Koh Samui, it could come up with direct beach location. The accommodation had three stars and was not cheap, so we were a bit surprised when the receptionist explained the conventions of the area.
Room service was every third day, and toilet paper and included drinking water you had to take care of yourself. I knew similar things from hostels or homestays, but not from star accommodations. But not bad. In the truck we would be glad, we could change our towels and bed sheets every three days. The days on Koh Phangan we spent mostly on the beach. We built sand castles, collected shells, dug us in the sand and romped about in the ocean. Lennox has read out all the new books of the series `The Little Dragon Coconut`, which Chrisi had brought him from Austria. Actually, the reading would have been planned for long driving days, but Lennox's reading zeal was unstoppable.

We also met nice people in Bottle Beach. Including the Vienna family Pia, Bertl and their son Julian, who was a little older than Lennox. While the two boys were playing together, we parents found time for a talk too. It was always interesting for us to experience, how people responded when we told them about our current life. Some were very interested, others envied us, some thought we are crazy, and others shook their heads and called us irresponsible. Who cares? ;-) However, the feedback mostly stayed in positive territory.
At the pool we met other families with children, with whom we spent some time. I was so happy to see our son playing with other kids. Finally he laughed again with all his heart. I haven`t seen that for a very long time. Completely unexpected, I met an old friend in Haad Khuad. Gundi, a longtime acquaintance. Unbelievable, isn`t it? The world sometimes seemed to be so small. It was nice to chat with her. We both had to fly to Thailand to have a coffee together. At home in Austria, where we lived 15 minutes apart, we did not succeed in recent years.

Otherwise, our activities on the island looked rather modest. During a trip by boat to the next larger city, we went to a barber shop, where we all three got a hair cut for € 15. However, we could have invested the money better, because on the way home it rained like crazy, which was deadly for the new look.
We also managed to do some exercises. We hiked along a small jungle trail, that led us to the top of a viewing platform, that offered a sweeping view of the bay and ocean. Cross-legged we sat on a rock and devoutly enjoyed the view. Exactly those were the moments, that reaffirmed us of doing the right thing. Sometimes it helped to breathe properly, to get a glimpse of the essentials again. One thing we have completely screwed up during this trip. We started like stupid tourists. Without sunscreen, in bathing suits and thongs. Man, we returned completely sunburned and bitten by mosquitoes. At least Lennox and me. Leander was smarter, he wore a t-shirt.
In the evening, when Lennox slept, we went back into our daily routine. We did further route planning, visas, budget, all refreshing topics, that evoke a really exuberant holiday mood. But unceasingly. Unfortunately, we forgot to hire a holiday agency, which took our work for this time.
Now and then we were worried about Akela. Hopefully he would survive the passage to Borneo without any damage. A lot could happen on a ship. There was a possibility, that it sank. However, we rejected these thoughts very quickly because it sounded the most unrealistic one.

The truck could be broken up and cleared out. What had happened to our Belgian friends a few weeks earlier. Thankfully, only the cab was cracked, so the damage was limited. Of course, Akela could also be damaged. In addition, we did not have a dime of what we would really expect at the entry and customs of Malaysia. Basically, there were hardly any testimonials from our route, as most of the overlander ran through China and Thailand. To be honest, it was stupid of us, to spend so much time in meaningless thoughts, because it came as it came, and we could not change it. So we tried to stay positive.
As our vacation came to an end, we were not entirely unhappy. We were really looking forward to getting back to Akela, because home is home.

We had booked our return flight to the truck, which should arrive in the port of Kota Kinabalu from Koh Samui. In order not to miss the transfer, we arrived a day earlier and booked the last night in the nice hotel on Koh Samui, which we already knew. The owner was so nice the day after and took us to the airport.

We were a bit cluttered, but the friendly lady at the check in desk closed one eye and gave us the boarding passes. In Bangkok, where we had to change, we were less fortunate. There we were not even checked in. The reason was a missing exit ticket from Malaysia. We talked foolishly and tried to explain to the staff, that we were leaving by land. But in vain, they remained stubborn and refused us access to the plane.
Getting annoyed until turning green in the head did not help and took only time. With the last battery power of the laptop we booked the cheapest flight out of Malaysia, which we could find. And again a few hundred euros spent for nothing. With a valid ticket number, the airline employees were satisfied and let us check in. Now we really needed to hurry, because our flight has already been called.
Exhausted and out of breath, we let ourselves fall into the seats of the plane and hoped to get another cap full of sleep. Our machine should land at 23:00pm local time. Not the best time to travel with a small child. But our boy was relatively painless in this regard.

Only a few hours left and our lives would be back with new experiences in Borneo. I sank back into the chair, closed my eyes and fell relatively quickly into a peaceful sleep relatively .

Documenting our trip in words and pictures is a lot of work. And as you have seen, our website is ad-free. We want to leave it that way and want to avoid annoying you with advertising, but due to that we don't earn anything either with our website. If you like our blog posts and would like to support us, we would be very happy to receive a donation so that we can continue to report. Thanks very much!

Comments (2)

  1. Diana
    Diana at 26.11.2018
    Sawaddee Ka, oder so ähnlich?! Mann ist das schon wieder lange her... Bin gerade durch Zufall auf eure Seite gerutscht und musste erst ein bisschen hin und her klicken, bis ich gespannt habe, um wen es sich bei den Autoren handelt ;) Haben uns diesen Winter tatsächlich dazu entschieden mal "daheim" zu bleiben, um diverse Projekte abzuschließen, sämtliche Reserven wieder aufzufüllen, mal anzuhalten und eine kreative Pause zu machen, um neue Ideen keimen zu lassen... und nicht zuletzt um auch mal rodeln zu gehen. Wunderschöne Bilder und sehr angenehmer Erzählstil laden zum Mitreisen ein! Kompliment für die Seite! Ich hoffe wir treffen uns irgendwann mal wieder, irgendwo da draußen und sehen den Kindern dabei zu wie sie die Freiheit genießen! Ganz liebe Grüße von der Morpheusfamilie
  2. Maria Zehentner
    Maria Zehentner at 17.01.2020
    Hi Diana,
    zuerst sorry für die späte Antwort. Ich weiß nicht warum, aber irgendwie ist deine Nachricht durch den Rost gerutscht.
    Danke für das Kompliment bezüglich der Seite ;-)
    Eine Pause würde uns nach 3 Jahren durchgehend on the road auch gut tun, aber momentan ist nicht der richtige Zeitpunkt dafür.
    Nachdem wir jetzt 1 Jahr in Australien verbracht haben ist unser Truck auf dem Weg nach Los Angeles. Wir verbringen die Wartezeit auf Bali. Leider wie du siehst, verbringen wir hier die Zeit nicht mit Baden, sondern mit Arbeiten...;-) Aber das kennst du sicher auch.
    Wie schauen euere Pläne aus?
    Ein Treffen "irgendwo" wäre toll. Wir treffen leider seeeeehr selten auf andere Overlander mit Kindern.
    Bis dahin ganz liebe Grüße von uns an euch
    Maria und Familie

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