I would fly to Nairobi via Doha. I had joked about my missed flights a lot, but I almost missed this one as well. Half an hour before final checkin I found out I was at the wrong terminal. Even worse, the right terminal was far away from where I was an all the usual transportation to this terminal was down, because it was nighttime. I ended up taking a taxi to the next terminal. Of course the taxi driver charged me double, because he saw I was in a hurry and he seemed to be the only one. At the front desk there also was a discussion about my visa, but that luckily cleared quickly. I was in! Phieuw!
The flight from KL to Doha was almost empty. I could sit and lay down wherever I wanted. I fell asleep with my earphones in, but woke up to M.I.A’s Stepping Up song, which suddenly started playing. I must have accidently touched the play button. Even the airport was quiet. I had to buy a Visum for 60 dollar and there was no ATM. This could have been a sticky situation, if I hadn’t been prepared by taking US dollars with me.
Nairobi was a warm welcome, even though it was officially winter and the temperature was 15 degrees. After being the outcast all over the world I was finally the norm. Hahaha. I recognized my mother, brother, aunties and uncles in all the people I saw on the streets, at the airport, in the cab, even the policemen. Amazing! I was often addressed in Swahili, because they thought I was a local Hahaha.
I took a cab to the city. When we were driving on the road we saw a car with a burning engine standing alongside the road with people surrounding it trying to kill the fire. The taxi-driver parked the car on the side of the road and asked me: “Shall we help?” I nodded. Without hesitation and danger for our own life we started helping the people by taking red sand from a small hill and throwing it on the engine. Each time I got close to the car I covered my face, afraid that the car could explode at any time now. People from passing cars provided us with little fire extinguishers. What a great sociaty!
I arrived at the stop over hostel. A very low budget, little bit depressing place. The people were nice though. The nearest ATM was far from this place and I needed money, so I had to take a cab to get some money. On arrival I stepped out of the cab and bumped my right toe! Seriously!? My left toe had just healed! :-(
I came to Africa for the safari. I was lucky that I was here during the great migration. The migration follows the rainy season, because it has water and green plants. I wanted to the big five (they are the most aggresive and will attack you for no reason when you are around them. They dont want anything around them!), sleep in the park, camp fire, chill with the masai etc.
I almost arranged this from Kenya with the hostel owner, but I told her that I wanted to look in Arusha in Tanzania as well and that I would let her know.
I would take the bus from Nairobi, Kenya to Arusha, Tanzania. There is no real busstop. You just have to signal the bus to stop, but to do that you have to know which bus it is. A friendly girl from the hostel accompanied. We stood there for a while and suddenly she paniced. Oooh, there was your bus. It will probably stop further down the road. I ran with all the power I had in me to catch it. My backpack and frontpack were weighing heavy and I was sweating as hell. Seemed to be the wrong bus. Hahaha. We waited and waited, I got dubious if the bus was still going to arrive and then suddenly my bus was there!! Jeej!
The bus ride was really relaxing. We passed beautiful landscapes and at night zebra’s crossed the road. We arrived at the Tanzanian border. It looked like no mans’ land. A crowded village with all sorts of people. We first had to do our departure at a ticket window on the Kenyan side, then the bus would wait for us on the Tanzanian side. He advised us not to talk to anyone, just walk across the border after you are finished and meet me up at the bus. I was a bit nervous, waited in line. Some guys just passed by waving their passport. Diplomats. I finally did my departure and walked across the border. Off course I was addressed by a lot of people which can be somewhat intimidating but I just ignored it. I arrived at the bus on the Tanzanian side. There I had to do my arrival. I needed 50 dollars. I had just payed most of my dollars at my arrival in Kenya. The bus driver arranged a boy on a motorbike to take me back to Kenya to withdraw some money from an ATM. Well I can tell you. Withdrawing money from an ATM in no man’s land feeling every eye is watching you is not nice! Hahaha. We eventually managed. I got the money, we drove back to the bus, I got my visa and we were in Tanzania!
How to waste three flights in 24 hours. I decided to go to the Perhentian Islands. I booked a flight for the next day, but after I tried to find accomodation I found out that at that period the island was fully booked. Only eye bulking, expensive resorts were available. I decided to cancel the flight and go for Langkawi. This was the first flight I wasted, because there was no refund. The get to Langkawi you have to go through Kuala Lumpur. I booked a flight from Kota Kinabalu to KL in the morning and a flight from KL to Langkawi which would departurein the afternoon. Somehow the departure time of the last flight stuck in my head. I got up the next morning to get my flight in the afternoon… darnit! This flight was in the morning. There you go, wasted to other flights. I had to rebook the two flights at the airport and wait there for a while! Pfffff And my flight from Kota Kinabalu to KL was the fastest flight ever. One hour!
I decided to chill out at Langkawi. I have been running these past couple of months, which was really nice, but now it was time to do just nothing. I managed pretty well and because of the Ramadan there wasn’t really much going on. I stayed at a hostel founded by an ex real estate guy from Dubai who fled the country during the recession. The hostel had free drinks all day and delicious food. The organized diners for the guest where I had inspirational conversations with the owner himself and a guy from Syria who lives in China. Wow! I drove around the island on my scooter and just relaxed. I did an island hopping tour. On the first island monkeys snatched the bags of tourist. One tourist thought his bag was save, because it was zipped and monkeys couldn’t open zippers. Well was he wrong! Haha we also saw some white colored, dust like elements blowing over the sand. These were actually crabs. Funny!
The people in Malaysia point with their thumb, because it is rude to point with your finger!
Each morning at 6 I woke up to the muezzin calling the prayer from the minaret. One morningI realized that this wasn’t a tape playing, but actually live singing. The muezzin got a caugh and had to repack himself. Also each evening at 21 and 23 o’clock the prayer was called.
I enjoyed the sunset from the beach, sitting in a plastic chair, with a beer, beautiful music on my earphones and just thinking… This is the life!
The next day I also went to Cenang beach and saw people parasailing. I decided to do this. The guy at the counter told me that it would almost be too late, but if I was quick I could still go. I ended up in the air while the sun was setting. I was there up in the air with my flatcap and flip flops still on. The view was astonishing!! The beach, the people, the sun setting… At one point the speedboat made a turn, having me lowering. As I came down I almost landed on some people who were swimming in the water. As I approached them from the sky we both jokingly wooooowed!! Lol! Then it was time to land. I was going for the perfect landing. Stretched my legs and was ready for a quick run. Then my feet touched the sand and I wallowed all the way on the beach, fell on my side and got pulled a few meters further by the parachute that was pulled by the wind. No elegance in this one! Lol!
I went all the way to the Durian Perangin Waterfall. I had to climb to the waterfall over slippery, wet boulders. At the top sat an old man. He greeted me: “AsSalaam alaikum.” I greeted back: “Wa aleikum salaam” With hand gestures he offered me to watch my stuff as I go for a dive at the foot of the waterfall. I trusted him and did just that without thinking. The water was cold, but the experience was warm. I swam towards the waterfall and stood under it for a little while. Then went back, took my stuff and thanked the old man. I had no towel with me, but you dry quick on the scooter ;-)
Kota Kinabalu, the gateway to Sabah bearing the same name as the big Mount Kinabalu which I would optionally want to climb. I booked an accommodation in Kota Kinabalu and took a plane from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu. From the airport I took a taxi to the place. It was raining and the clouds were grey. We arrived at a compound with a series of beige, brown flat complexes. It looked like a normal residential area in the middle of town. This had nothing to do with a hotel, an apartment or even any form of tourism. “Here it is”, the driver said. I was sure this could not be the place. We got out, I looked around. There was just this flat with a porch. It was actually the right address. I asked the driver to wait for me as I would go up and see if there was something going on at that house number. As I took the elevator I met some people who were living there, but none of them knew of any apartment or hotel. I saw a door with the number on my address, protected by a gate, but no sign of life. I went back down stairs and asked the driver if we could call the owner. We did. A happy girl picked up. “Oh, you are already there. Great! I’m on my way. If you want to go in, the code is 1211. I’ll be there in a sec!” I hung up, thinking: “This is the right place!?” The driver left and there I was in Kota Kinabalu, in a residential area in the middle of nowhere. I didn’t know where to use to code I had just been given, and since I don’t have a phone of my own I decided to wait. Within 5 minutes Precilla arrived. She let me in the appartment and to be honest it was awesome. Nice, clean and shiny. Then I got the explanation. She and her boyfriend used to live in this apartment and now they rented it to pay off the mortgage. I got it!!! The apartment had three rooms. One for each guest. I was the only guest, so I had the whole place to myself. Hahaha Not for long though, because a Dutch couple would arrive later on. I went out to do some grocery at the supermarket nearby. I was seriously the only tourist and for a second I really felt like a local. Going back to my apartment, in some neighborhood, in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia.
I wanted to do a serious Jungle trekking and may be climb the mount Kinabalu. Through Precilla I quickly found out that the mountain climbing wasn’t going to happen. You had to book that one way in advance. However the Jungle trekking was possible.
I did the Jungle trek together with a Dutch couple, who also arrived at the apartment later on. They had rented a car, so we drove to the spot with the three of us. The only difference is that they would return the same day and I was going to stay the night.
The way to the place took us more than two hours. At one point we were driving up hill, our ears started to pop because of the altitude and the car struggled to get up the hill because of the steepness of the hill. After some searching and calling the owner back and forth, we finally arrived. What a view!! Jungle, jungle, jungle. The owner had a base camp situated in the midst of the jungle. The owner’s name was Inas. A small, cheerful guy, that looked like mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid and claimed to be chief of over a 100 villages. We were now looking at the oldest rainforest in Borneo, covering 96966 Km2, twice the size of Singapore.
The Jungle trekking was awesome! We drunk water from a liana and learnt a lot from Inas about survival in the jungle. The lianas of rubber trees for example are poisonous. So is everything that has bright colors or glows in the dark. Yeah, really some things here do. He showed us glowing mushrooms on a stump. He also told us that when they hunt, they made sure that the wind is not blowing towards their prey, otherwise the prey will smell them. Another tip he gave us is about getting lost. If you get lost in the jungle look for broken twigs, this is a sign of a beaten path, regularly walked by humans which could also bring you back to safety. Another tip is to follow the stream to the river, which mostly lead to a village. Most villages are built alongside a river. I loved it! Even the bloodsucker on my leg, which made my blood flood like hell. It seemed these little creatures have a substance in their saliva that dilute your blood so it keeps on flowing. This substance is also used for blood thinners.
We got back just before rainfall. When we returned we saw a big rhino beetle, and played around with it. We also tried to burn the Kamayan stone we found during our trekking. It smells like church incent. We ended up at a local pub eating wild hog, drinking local rice wine and singing karaoke on Una Paloma Blanca, the Bee Gees and the Beatles. Inas did not want to leave! Hahaha. Because it was a local custom that you can’t leave before the bottle is empty, they even gave us the bottle to take with us. Hahaha.
The evening was filled with all sorts of jungle sounds. I slept alone in my tent and was the only visitor, because the Dutch couple had left that evening. The next day Inas asked me to join him to a local wedding. Before we got to the wedding we went on to feed some Koi Cup of Palain. The pond was full of these fish. He gave me a fist full of food and as soon as I stuck my fist in to the water the all aggressively crowded around my hand to eat the food. Hundreds of them! A unique experience! It was an honor for the bride to have an international guest, so they were really pleased with me signing the guestbook. Everybody seemed to know Inas. He really was the chief. We drank to the wedding screeming “Aramaiti” which means: “let’s party and cheers!”
When we got back I wanted to do another Jungle trekking. Inas was convinced I could do it on my own. “Just go down until you reach the river, we passed yesterday. Don’t pass the river and walk back. It will take you like half an hour. If you don’t come back in an hour I will come and find you” It now seems pretty dangerous, but somehow at that moment it sounded like a good plan. I walked the pad down with a stick I found along the way, feeling like Rambo. I quickly reach the river and was in such a nice modus that I decided to cross the river. Wrong decision! After a while everything started to look the same and I realized I was lost. Even the way back was impossible to find. I tried several routes but ended up coming back to he river crossing. Now and then a big fly flew by that makes a growling noise like animal. So each time it flew by, I thought a jaguar or another large animal was near. Damnz!! Panic! I even realized I didn’t have a mobile phone with me. Then I remembered Inas’ lessons. I sat down. Calmed myself and looked for broken twigs. This helped. I soon discovered my way back to the camp. What a relief!! I was all sweaty and out of breath. I told Inas what happened and saw a shimmer in his eyes.
I took the bus back to Kota Kinabalu where I arrived at the apartment in the night. I was tired, wanted a warm shower and something to eat. I found out the door of my room was locked. I called Precilla and soon discovered she had given away the room because of a miscommunication. She thought I only wanted to leave my backpack behind and would pick it up after the Jungle trekking. I had to find a place to stay now! Damn! I repacked myself, quickly found another place to stay and she arranged me a taxi. It is funny how your mind set can easily adjust during a trip around the world. I arrived in a real nice hotel.
In many countries I get compared with someone, but in Malaysia I got the most unique comparison of all. Michael Jordan! A guy stepped up to me, saying: “Wow! You really look like Michael Jordan” Really!?
Before I left Kota Kinabalu I wanted to post a letter. I tried to explain the cabdriver, who did not speak any English that I wanted to go to a post office to sent my letter. I made a gesture of a stamp on the envelope, then made a gesture of a flying plane to indicate that I would like to sent the letter. He understood and started driving. Underway I started seeing signs of an airport. Luckily I intervened on time. He almost drove me to the airport :( Hahaha
I arrived in Kuala Lumpur, or K.L. as the locals call it, in the evening. I hadn’t had the time to do the research on this country and its culture. I only knew that the language is similar to Indonesian. Or actually the other way around. The Malay language has a funny way to deal with plural. You just say the same word twice. So to say boys, you just say: “boy boy”. Genius! Lol!
People were talking about the missing Malaysian airlines airplane. I didn’t catch the news, but now was surely aware of it.
I quickly found out that it’s an Islamic country. The airport staff wearing headscarfs, prayerrooms, mosques. Instead of a taxi I took a local bus to my hostel. The bus drivers where really rude, but I could laugh about it, because they were real rude, but their actions were really nice. For example the bus dropped us of in the center and then he would ask each one of us: “Where you go!?” When it was my turn I said the name of my hostel. Then he took his phone, called someone and arranged a friend of him to come pick us up and bring us to our hostels. No charge. I still don’t understand, but it was really nice… or maybe just part of the deal! ;-)
In the hostel I met Can, a Turkish guy. We both wanted to see the Petronas towers, so we decided to hang out the next day. But first I was going to the revolving restaurant and we would meet up after that. Revolving restaurant!? Yeaah bway!! ;-) Hahaha. In KL there is the KL tower and at the top of this tower there seemed to be a restaurant that revolves 360 degrees in the timespan of one hour and a half, giving you a ultimate panoramic view of Kuala Lumpur. It is called: “360 Atmosphere revolving Restaurant”. Because it was afternoon, I did a high tea. I was really hungry so all the sweets, mini-sandwiches and cake tasted delicious. From the restaurant you are able to see the famous Petronas towers, but only sideways. However contrary to what I expected not the whole restaurant was revolving. The windows and the center were stationary. Only a circulair plateau with the chairs and tables on it were rotating. Ah, well, at least I could scrape this of one of my bucket list ;-) Hahaha
During my stay in Malaysia it was Ramadan, so all the restaurants were quite empty during the day, except for a few Chinese tourists and Frans. I felt a bit guilty when I was hungry and ordered some food, knowing the man or woman serving the food is equally as hungry, but doesn’t get to eat until sunset. I also felt a little envy when they handed me the plate. I could hear them thinking: “Here is your food, I hope you enjoy it @$$hole!!” Hahaha. Sorry!
After the 360 Atmosphere I met up with Can. We went to a local market where we were told to try a famous local desert, consisting of a squid, filled with coconut and dipped in syrup. I tried it! Only one bite, but the best way to describe it is eating a piece of tire that has a real good taste but impossible to chew. After that I bought some satay. Satay Kamben which I remembered from Indonesia, but this had nothing to do with it. It was cold, though and tasteless. We didn’t finish it, and because we were still hungry we decided to go for a hamburger. Well… this one comes in the top 3 of worst hamburgers ever! I gave up after that. Hahaha. Can did try some Roti Chania which seemed to be pretty ok. It was getting a bit rainy. We went to the Petronas towers and made some pictures. Because there was not much more to do in that area, we made some more pictures. And because it became dark and the lights on the towers were now on, we made some more pictures. I think I have over a hundred pictures of me standing in front of the Petronas towers Lol! Haha A guy tipped us about the light show that would be starting at the back of the towers. We went there and watched it. Pretty amazing! But one of the main reasons for visiting Malaysia was it’s beautiful rainforest. And to see that I had to go to Sabah, Borneo, the eastern part of Malaysia on the other side of the China sea!
I took the bus to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City is the name given to Saigon, after 1976. However the Vietnamese still call it Saigon.
The bus to Saigon stopped in Nha Trang, where we had to wait for two hours to change busses. I decided to go for a little straw. I saw people drinking thee and coffee at these little parlour shops along the street. I started to crave for some hot cup of sweet morning tea. I went to one of the parlours and asked for a tea. They explained me that it was only possible to have tea AND coffee. Strange! Ah well, I thought I could always leave the coffee and only drink the tea. Haha. I ordered. Already fantasizing about my hot cup of tea, I got served an ice coffee and an ice tea. Really!? I decided to drink it all up and leave this quest behind. And when I drank up the ice tea the parlour owner poured me some more, because he thought I really liked it. Hahaha.
After a 26 hour bus trip I arrived in Saigon by evening. Saigon is the true metropole of Vietnam. Crowded streets, billboards, more neon lights. I hadn’t booked a ho(s)tel yet. Together with a guy from Germany and 5 girls from Argentina we searched for a place to stay. They settled with the first place we came across. I decided to search further. I had an address of a Capsule hostel scribbled down. I would try that one, but as I was walking through the crowded streets of Saigon with all my belongings it suddenly started to rain heavily. I was tired, didn’t had no proper sleep for two days. Luckily the capsule hostel was just a few 100 meters away. I decided to go and stay there! Because I had only two full days in Saigon I booked two tours. The Mekong Delta tour with the floating Markets and the Cu Chi tunnel tour. I mostly stressed the importance of the floating markets, which I really wanted to see.
The next day I was picked up by a tour guide really early. A mid-aged Vietnamese man who introduced himself with the words: “My name is Dong! Easy to remember, because it is the sound that you hear when you beat the drums..” and subsequently did a loud impression of this sound: “Dong!! Dong!! Dong!!!” One thing for sure, I won’t forget his name. Hahaha. I was on a bus with predominantly Vietnamese people. The guide would tell a long story about a sight in Vietnamese and then give a short translation in English. And believe me when the guide says: “And right from you, you see a beautiful rice field” after a 5 minute long monolog in Vietnamese, that can’t be the full translation. That’s the really, really short version Hahaha.
Watching at the scenery passing by, I noticed the main building style in Vietnam. They are normal buildings, just like every other city. The only difference is that they are really narrow. Like you squeeze two street lengths to fit in to one. Also I noticed that many rice fields had graves in the middle. Later on I found out that it was normal for Vietnamese to bury their ancestors in the midst of the family owned rice field.
I got in a conversation with the only English speaking people on the bus, a couple from England. A fireman and policewoman. They told me that they did so many tours already, that they decided to do this tour without the Floating Markets. Huh!? I thought this was the one with the floating markets? I checked it with the guide and indeed. This tour didn’t include the floating markets. I regretted really, because that was my sole reason to go on this tour. The guide called with the hotel back and forth. Came out that I was put on the wrong tour, through an error at the reception. Damn!! I still tried to enjoy the tour, but was far from happy. However we sailed the Mekong Delta and rode horse and carriage. A lot of the Vietnamese people wanted to go on the picture with me. And a little Vietnamese boy functioned as translater between me and his family. Turned out that he had learned some English at school. His family members would talk to him in Vietnamese and then push him to translate it to me. “Do you like it here?”, he asked. “Yes, I do”, I replied. “My mom and sister, say they want to sit in the same boat as you.” “O… Kay…”, I replied. Hahaha. It was funny though. The whole boat trip the little guy kept asking me questions. “What is your favorite color?” “What is your favorite music?” “What is your favorite food?” and just when I thought he was finished he asked “Ok and now ask me?” Hahaha! We fed alligators, holding a piece of meat as bate on a wooden fishing rod. To get there we had to walk over a provisionally constructed bridge made out of bamboo. I went cycling through an native village. I learned about water coconuts. I even bought a little bottle of snake wine. Yes, there is an actual snake in the bottle. I had to taste it. It has a real strong taste to it.
Even though the tour was pretty nice, it was a real disappointment that I didn’t get to see the floating markets. Even though I know there is not much to see, it was one I really wanted to see. Even when I had the chance to see the most famous floating market from Bangkok, I declined it, because I was going to see them in Vietnam. Not! The guide made an effort to explain me in words, what I would have seen at the floating market. He also down talked the experience. It was really nice of him, but it didn’t really help Hahaha. Back at the hotel I explained my disappointment. They apologized and I got refunded. They even offered me to go again on the tour with Floating Market tomorrow, free of charge. This unfortunately was a no go, because I had only one more day, and was going to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Guess I still have a good reason to revisit Thailand or Vietnam now ;-) Hahaha
That evening Holland was playing against Mexico. 11 pm local time. I went to a bar to see the match. There I bumped in to Tom, the German guy again. The bar was full with orange shirts. Me not being a great soccer fan, I realized this was my first time watching a game in a bar, ever! I really liked it! But after Holland reached an disadvantage of 1-0, we really went bonkers when the 1-1 was scored. I liked the tension in the bar and the relieve when the 2-1 was scored out of a penalty. I won a bet against Tom. After the 1-0 he was sure Holland would hit the plane back home. Man was he wrong! Hahaha. Một hai ba, yo (one, two, three, yo)! The Vietnamese way of saying Cheers! It literally means 1, 2, 3, Cheers!
Today I had a tour to go and visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. One of the most famous tunnels used in the war against the Americans. The Viet cong had a super sophisticated tunnel network, consisting of three levels 3m, 6m and 10 meter deep. It was one of their main advantages during the war. The entrances of the tunnels were hidden. They could pop up out of nowhere and disappear out of nowhere.
I got picked up at the hostel by a guide and put on the bus in the main street. As the bus started driving the guide started talking on the microphone. “Welcome people, today we are on a tour to the Mekong Delta, and the floating market…” What!!? On the wrong tour!!? Every inch in my body said, not again!! And that’s exactly what I yelled out interrupting the guide. The whole bus stopped and starred. I explained my story for everyone to hear: “I have booked a tour for the Cu Chi tunnels, not for the Mekong Delta. Yesterday I got put on the wrong tour, and today again!? I can have one mistake, but this is really too funny for words!” I wasn’t even mad, more in disbelieve and I could still laugh about the incident. The guide stopped the bus, made a phone call. He then asked me to wait on a certain place in the middle of a busy crossing and told me I would be picked up. The people in the bus supported me fully, giving me thumbs up and wishing me good luck as the bus drove off. There I was, in the middle of nowhere, waiting for a.. bus. After ten minutes, still no one came. I asked a passer-by to use his phone to call the hotel. Luckily he agreed. The hotel wanted to send a taxi to come and pick me up. I explained them, that I don’t want to go back, I wanted to go on this tour… and at that moment a guy on a scooter arrived. He took me to the bus and I was on the right tour now. Wow!
The tour started with a polygon 50s documentary of the Vietnam war. After the documentary the guide made a joke: “You felt a sleep already!” He also knew the documentary was lame Haha. After that we visited a hidden tunnel entrance and even got the change to go in to the tunnel entrance and hide. By means of being funny, the guide made sexy noises while people dipped themselves in to the tunnel hole. Like really!!? Especially the woman looked at him like: Is he actually doing this? Pretty awkward. Hahaha
We walked past a B52 bomb crater and also saw a real tank that had been active during the war. The site was full of jungle and in the background you heard constant war noised of shooting guns and explosions. It really gave you a feel of the background sounds during the war.
The guide seemed to have a deeply rooted hate for Americans. He asked if there were any Americans on the tour. No one replied. “Good!”, he said. When we got to the boobytrap section the guide explained the working of a number of real life used booby traps. He sadistically seemed to enjoy telling us the detailed inflictions the boobytraps made to American soldiers. This one, would cut away all the flesh in your legs and then it takes three hours for you to die slowly and painfully. Looking at the mechanics of all these traps and imagining what the spikes and knifes could do to a human body, shivers ran over my back! Horrible!! Some had the sarcastic nick name: “Hotel California. Check-in oly, no check-out.”
Later on I found out there was actually an American guy on the tour. Guess he was too afraid to come out. Haha.
Then I noticed the war sounds becoming louder and louder. It seemed that these war sounds were real! There was a shooting base where you could fire an actual M16, AK47 or bazooka. Even though I am not a gun lover, I saw this as a once in a lifetime experience I had to experience. I choose the AK47. I got to fire 10 bullets. The sound and the kickback are super intense. But if you imagine the killing potential of this gun it is also a bit creepy!
After the shooting we went to the final part. The actual Cu Chi tunnel. The tunnel was 140 meters long, with an exit every 20 meters. I’m truly not a fan of small spaces. We entered the tunnel and came in to a small space. This wasn’t that bad, until I noticed a small black hole in the corner of the room. That was the actual entrance to the tunnel. What!? My heart started pounding as I got in to the tunnel squat. It was warm, I started sweating and slightly hyperventilating. I felt the ground pushing on me and felt really, really cramped. After 40 meters I decided it was enough. Not my cup of tea. And then to imagine they made the tunnel 50% larger for tourists to be able to go through them. Respect for the Vietnamese those days! The American soldiers didn’t dare to enter those tunnels to fight those days. They had a special unit with their own rules and values. These guys must have been insane!!
After the tour some of us asked to be dropped off at the War Museum. So did I! Not knowing what an effect this Museum would have on me. The entrance was only 15000 Dong, which is like 60 euro cent. The first impressive thing about the museum is that the museum terrain was full with war vehicles used during the war. Tanks, helicopters, artillery and the most impressive the Chinook, which I knew from movies like Platoon and Television series like Tour of Duty. What an experience to stand next to it and even be able to look inside. The war still feels like it happened recently, so you get a real feel of what it must have been like. You think about the young soldiers, getting in to this vehicle having no clue what kind of atrocities the future had in store for them.
Inside the museum you learn a lot about the history, about the protests against the war and also about Agent Orange. Agent Orange and how the Vietnamese people still feel the effects of it. One gallery is full of second an third generation victims of the Agent orange. People born without eyes, legs, twins stuck together… horrible. And then you see a concrete well standing there, surrounded with stories and pictures. At first it looks like a normal well, but then you discover that it was a hiding place for the three grandchildren of Mr. Bui van Vat who got massacred.
As if this wasn’t enough I then went outside to the section about the imprisonment, conditions during the war. You can see the real life prisons used. Even the infamous Tiger cage. You read about the torture methods which were inhuman. People having to roll over a cooking iron plate, until their skin was completely pealed of and bleeding. One prison had a peephole. Already excited I looked through the peephole not expecting to see anything. Then I suddenly saw and old neglected man sitting on the bench in the dark. I scared up and soon discovered it was just a doll. Wow!! Quelle horreur!
Heavily disillusioned I left the museum. I must admit this had been the museum with the deepest impact on me ever!!
I took the bus from Hue to Hoi An, which is only a 6 hour bus ride. Nothing compared to my previous bus ride. But then when the bus stopped and we got a chance to have something to eat guess who seemed to be on the same bus as me? Alan!, the Chinese guy from England I met in Koh Phangan. We went to the Full Moon party together and parted ways not knowing about each others’ upcoming travel plans. How big are the odds that our paths would cross again! Later on, Peter another guy from our Full Moon party group also arrived in Hoi An. Crazy!!! #unreal
Hoi An, the culinary capital of Vietnam and also famous for its tailor shops and couture clothing is a lovely peaceful city. The traffic is minimal, so you can easily travel the city by bicycle. It is even prohibited to enter the Old Town, an ancient part of the city, by motorized vehicle between 3 pm and 9.30 pm.
Because it was my fourth day of heavy loose stool, I decided to go to the hospital. Just to check if it was more than just bad luck with food. I ended up 2,5 hour at an infuse and got an antibiotic cure. Wow! And I’m still not sure if it was really necessary or that they used a bazooka to shoot at a mosquito just to make some money of my insurance. However, every possible inflammation I might have had in my body will now be killed. :-) And the good news was, that my toes were almost healed. Hahaha ;-)
It was becoming dark now, the lights were going on all around town. The streets were full of beautiful neon lights in every color imaginable, from green to orange. It almost looked like a Christmas circus. I got hungry from waiting at the hospital. I drove around town and then suddenly I smelt a BBQ. My nose followed the aroma like a cartoon character and before I knew it, I was sitting in a downtown restaurant between local people. There was no menu. Everyone got the same plate. BBQ meat with vegetables and steamed rice. It was delicious. So delicious I ordered a few pieces of meat just for take away. I later on stored it in the fridge I had in my room.
Then my eye cought a tourist couple. They woman came to talk with me, showing me all the exact restaurants, places, shops I need to go, because they were lovely. I was more like, I want to find out myself Hahaha. but she was just being nice. She concluded with the sentence: “I like it here, because I hate tourists!”
Even though the cities really differ, I constantly mistake Hoi An for Hanoi. They don’t even look similar, but they got some strange similarity to them. Because Hoi An is the culinary capital I had to try all it’s delicious dishes. I tried Cao Lau, which is the most famous local dish of ‘m all. It is a regional Vietnamese dish made with noodles, pork and local greens, which is only found in the town of Hoi An.
The toilets are also somewhat funny. I sometimes ended up in the woman toilet because some of them only say: Nam and Nu. Which one am I!!??? Lol! Nam is man. Just reminded it by spelling man backwards ;-)
I stayed in a guest house with a nice family. The grandma sometimes scared up when she saw me, but each time greeted me with a big smile afterwards. Hahaha Here I finally solved the mystery of the flower-texture hoodies on the scooters. I asked the daughter and she explained me that they do it for sun protection. It is way cheaper than buying sun cream each time. Ok! Guess the flower-texture is just the fashion-statement. ;-)
I went to the Old town which is entered by the Japanese covered bridge. After that I went to the Quan Cong Temple and the History and Culture museum. Next to these buildings was a market. At the market I was approached by several woman, who all used the exact same script, identical to the letter. It went like: “Where you from sir?” “When you arrive in Hoi An?” “How long you stay in Hoi An?” “Come have a look in my shop with beautiful shoes, custom-made suit. Only watch!” After three times, it really started to become unreal. They must have been following the same course or something. One woman however was inventive. She saw that I was looking for a place to park, because I wanted to visit the Quan Cong Temple. She waved me over. Free parking sir, free parking here. I parked there and then she came to chat with me normally. And just when I put my guard down she also started about her shop. I politely excused, but when I came back from the temple and the museum to pick up my scooter she was still sitting there next to my scooter. With a straight face she said, “50 dollars sir”. I was completely surprised. She kept looking at me with a straight face and now raised her hand to receive the money. “50 dollars sir for the parking”. I was clearly flabbergasted and just before I repacked myself and was getting ready to start an argument with the sentence: “But you just said..” she helt her belly and almost fell to the ground, laughing! “Just joking sir, just joking! Hahaha” She had fun, and she got me. I had just been pranked by this Vietnamese woman. Lol! Hahaha.
In the old city I spontaneously decided to buy a kite. I wanted to go kiting at the beach. That seemed like a fun, silly thing to do and also it would cater to my child within ;-). Full of excitement I drove to the beach. Took the kite out of the package, constructed it and let it up in the air!!! Only to find out that the string was only 1 meter long. :-( The wind was pretty good though, so if I had had a longer string. However, I can officially say I kited on the beaches of Hoi An ;-)
The next day I got up and wanted to eat the BBQ meat I saved in the fridge… it already had a rotten smell to it. I skipped this one, because I didn’t like the Vietnamese hospitals that much hahaha. I rented a bicycle instead of a scooter. I realized it had been a while since I’ve ridden a bycicle. It was real nice. I went to the beach to relax and swim and after that it was almost time to catch my bus to Ho Chi Minh City!
At the exit of the Mausoleum in Hanoi I got in to a conversation with a guy from Israel. He had just returned from a trip from HCMC all the way up to Hanoi by manual motorcycle. He had never driven a manual motorcycle before, but learned it in a few minutes, he stated. He made it seem soooo easy, however when I looked at his arms and legs, they were full of injuries and flesh wounds. Still I was thinking about doing the trip from the North to the South by motorbike. I could buy one here in Hanoi or in Hue and then sell it in HCMC. It is pretty easy! I even did a test drive on a manual motorbike and learnt it pretty quick. A nice lady of the hotel let me drive hers up and down the street. I even arranged an address where I could buy the motorbike for only 250 USD. I would be able to sell it for at least 150 USD in HCMC. However eventually I made the wise decision not to do it. Most of all because I don’t like driving that much and I would spend more than 24 hours on the bike to get all the way to HCMC. That is not my view of relaxation. Secondly I’m a bad driver Hahaha and currently a lot of road construction work was going on in the south. Last but not least bikes do break down and I’m not a good mechanic as well. Hahaha. Noo, I stick to my bus.
But the Open Bus…. that is a whole other story. The busses are so called sleeping busses. Meaning the seats are almost horizontal, layed out behind each other in a train-like position where your feet are in a cabin under the back of the person in front of you. The front of the bus is reserved for local people. A litlle woman dictator stayed in one seat at the front of the bus and any tourist who dared to go and lay in one of the seats in the front of the bus was screamed to the back of the bus. “No! No! No! V.I.P. go back! Go back!” Some tourist still had the nerve to ask for an explanation: “Why can’t I lay here. I have a ticket, I…” “NO! Back! Go! Go!”, she would reply politely ;-) Mad woman! Lol! Hahaha. And believe me every bus had a person like that. I guess they got hired on unsocial behavior. No footwear is allowed in the bus, so you have to put your shoes or flip flops in a bag before entering the bus. The foot cabin was just a little too small for me to fully stretch my legs. The inside and outside of the bus featured bright neon and Christmas lights. In the bus there were two Tv’s with Vietnamese dubbed Hollywood movies. And the Vietnamese dubbing is the most basic I have ever heard. One woman’s voice impersonates all the character in a monotone voice. Imagine Tom Cruise in an action scene screaming out “Watch out for the bullets!!!” followed by the emotionless, dry translation of the woman’s voice. Funny! Hahaha. Also the volume of the Tv’s was so loud that you could feel your stomach vibrate with the sound. And each time we arrived at a stop, the driver played corny Vietnamese ballads on an even louder volume! The bus had Wifi though! :-) Hahaha.
The ride to Hue was a 20 hour ride, and the day before, I started suffering from an immense loose stool. I have travelled India for a month, with hardly any problems, but now Vietnam got me!!?? Wow! I would spare you the details, but a 20 hour ride with loose stool and your aching toes in a just too small foot cabin is… not your relaxing bus ride. But I managed!
In Hue I had a wonderful hotel and the staff was real nice. The city was also warm and full of good energy. And again I saw a lot of woman on scooters all wrapped up in flower-texture, hoodies.
I visited the Dong Ba Market, which is huge!! There I bought a whole Durian, the famous stink fruit. I had to taste it. It was ok, but not really my cup of tea. I put the remainder of the fruit in the coach luggage compartment of my scooter. “How bad could the smell be?”, I thought. I also went to the Imperial City, Old city or Citadel as people call it. It is a huge site with palaces, tombs and also the forbidden city where the emperor housed his many mistresses. Eventually I went to the evening market under the Truong Tien Bridge. After 7 pm the bridge is completely covered in all sorts of lights, which is loved in Vietnam.
I read about the Vietnames history and found out that the Vietcong was only a small part of their history. Vietnam knows a long history of oppression by different countries like the Chinese and even the French. The Americans just happened to be the last ones. And the way the Vietnamese people see it, is that many countries tried to oppress the free founded Vietnam, but no one succeeded, because each time Vietnam produces a hero that saves them from oppression. That’s a proud vision! I immediately looked different at the Vietnamese people.
Also, to realize that anyone older than 50 has experienced the war is unthinkable. It is soo fresh, but still you don’t see any real signs of it. When I see older people, in a restaurant, or have a small talk with people on the streets I wanted to ask them about their experiences in the war, out of pure curiosity, inquisitiveness and involvement. But I feels inappropriate to do. Mostly I think, because I am afraid it would open chambers they haven’t opened themselves yet. I guess the trauma’s are suffered in silence.
After driving around for a while I opened up the coach luggage compartment of the scooter and a penetrating smell beat up my nostrils. The Durian!!
When I think of Vietnam, I think of Platoon and Tour of Duty… the Vietnam War. Images of American soldiers, Chinooks and Apaches fighting people in rice fields with conical Asian hats. Of course these images are way to limited to depict modern day Vietnam.
My plan was to start in Hanoi in the North and then move through Hue and Hoi An all the way down south to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), former Saigon. I bought an open bus ticket for only 40 Dollars. You can travel a lot of cities with it and can decide when you want to move from one city to the other. The only rule is that you have to travel in one direction. Fair enough!
As soon as I arrived in Hanoi, I didn’t feel none of the heavy energy of it’s relatively recent war. Instead, the streets were crowded with people and the atmosphere had a sugar sweet feel to it. The street view was filled with these conical Asian hats, called nón lá (leaf hat). Later I found out that they dip these hats in water to wear it as an evaporative-cooling device while working the land for example. You also see a lot of people walking with ??Stengel met weegschaal?? holding their fresh products they want to sell. And just like in India, the overloaded bikes are a common part of the street view. They literally transport anything on their bike from dozens of boxes, TV’s to dead pigs. The streets had actual clear street signs and all the houses were numbered, which I can’t say for each country. The traffic lights show the number of seconds until they will jump to another color. Which I think is handy ;-) And just like in Costa Rica you can pay with Dollars as well as the local currency: Vietnamese Dong. Everywhere, from the airport staff to the streets you see the Ao dai, Authentic Vietnamese silk dresses. I loved the design of it! Real nice! There are also a lot of art stores here, selling Vietnamese art. One particular design I liked was the one with the pink flowers on a silver silk background. One thing I didn’t understand were the thick hoodies with flower textures, which Vietnamese woman wore on their scooters. They were completely wrapped around in it. It must be freakin’ hot!
When I arrived at the Hotel, I got to meet the slightly darker side of Vietnam. The first thing I noticed was that Facebook was blocked. The government says that it is an error in their networks they have to fix, but the truth is that it is probably done on purpose. However with a little effort it is easy to get past the block.
In Hanoi I just walked around a lot. At night Vietnam is covered in Christmas-like lights in all sorts of colors, green, orange, red… they love it here! I love it! Hahaha. Also in the streets, you had these street food restaurants, with colored, tiny, plastic stools where you could get delicious, street food.
The next day I did a day trip to the famous Ha Long Bay which was one of the main things I wanted to see in Vietnam. On the bus I met an Indonesian couple who travel the world a lot. The guy was saying that he travelled almost the whole world etc. etc. I have an iPad app that let’s you fill in the countries you have been through and calculate the percentage of the world you have travelled. I invited him to fill in his countries. He was shocked to find out that he had only travelled 14% (which is still a lot). After that the conversation changed to more real life personal subjects. Hahaha After a two hour bus ride we finally arrived at Ha Long. There we took the boot. On the boot we had a great lunch. I sat at the table with the couple and three girls from Singapore we had just met. We talked about both the countries and also my experiences there. The woman of the couple had a conversation with one of the girls in their mother language. This seemed pretty normal, until I realized that the girl was from Singapore and the woman from Indonesia. Curiously I asked how they could understand each other. They explained me that they speak Malay in Singapore and that the Indonesian language originated from Malay, so the two languages are so similar that they can understand each other for 80% or so. Amazing! But the thing I found even more Amazing were the rocks that were suddenly entering my view. We were there Ha Long Bay!!!
The sight was just as in the pictures and I can tell you it is a real unreal feeling to suddenly stand in one of the pictures you were admiring on your computer at home. Lovely! We took a bamboo boat to sail under the caves. Breathtaking! The boats were floating lightly and we had to get on them one by one. They were really small boats actually. When I got on to the boat I was supposed to put my foot in the middle. However I stepped slightly on the left. My weight almost made the boat tilt counter clockwise and me fall in to the water. Hahaha Lucky me! We sailed past the water villages. People who made houses on the water, out of their boats, because they were not able to afford land. The village even featured a school for the children.
The guide also took us to a cave, that was enhanced by red and blue ambient light. Instead of telling us about the history, he pointed at seeming figures you could see in the rocks. “Look there, if you look closely you can see a kissing couple, and there the same kissing couple when they are older” “Look… there you can see an elephant” etc. etc. Super lame!! Lol! Hahaha. I eventually started to play along searching for figures. I discovered a heart! Even the guide was surprised. He hadn’t seen that one during all his tours. Nice!
On our way we drove on the Long Biên bridge passing the red river. Left and right we saw many couples who stopped on the bridge sitting on their scooter, looking romantically at the water or kissing in an intimate hug. This seemed to be THE place for a romantic getaway. It had a nice view over the river and it featured a cool breeze.
My toes were bettering, but I still had to go to the hospital to change the bandages. This time it was free, but they did it so bad, that the bandage just fell off my toes the moment I left the hospital Really the just fell on the street. Hahaha. I decided to use my own medikit and fix it in a makeshift way. Haha. That would be the last time I would go to a hospital to get my bandage changed.
The next day there was no power in the hotel. Here in Vietnam power outs are quite normal. I brushed my teeth in the dark and went down stairs to the reception. “Yeah, power down between 9.30 am and 3 pm”, they said. Wow! The government can just do that. I went to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum there was literally a line of at least one kilometer, but it moved real quick. The tempo was the same as a normal walk, so before I knew it I was there. The closer I get to the Mausoleum the stricter it got. Soldiers were walking around, fiercely telling people to keep silence. Then the line entered this big building and in to the room where he lies. You see him laying in a glass coffin in an heavily air cooled space. Impressive! but also kind of sad if you think about the fact that he really wanted to be cremated. However the government decided else. In the same walking pace, the line passed the glass coffin and before you knew it, you had left the building. However with a sight on your retina that was there to stay for a while
From Bangkok I took the train to Chiang Mai. Having been on trains in India I thought I knew a bit what to expect, but then again I should have known better. On this trip nothing is comparable thus far. The train to Chiang Mai looked like a normal sleeping train with two lower and two upper beds/benches in each compartment. That is until you get to the restaurant train-unit. This train-unit had tables and chairs, a bar, neon lights and really loud ancient, cheesy pop hits. The disco unit!! Like wow!! Hahaha. And strangely enough the windows of this unit where open and people were allowed to smoke there as well.
During the trip we suddenly heard a loud hammering sound, like the train crashed in to an iron wall. This actually was the train splitting in two or more pieces. They do that when the track has some significant curves ahead. The separate units are more flexible. As a whole the train is not able to take all the curves on the track. After the curves the train-units click back together. Almost sounds like a scene from the Transformers. Hahaha
I was in a compartment with a Swiss guy and his Thai fiance. They met in Thailand two months ago and were going to get married in Switzerland. They were now on their way to her village to meet her parents and to get some paperwork done. All I heard was: Two months!? Wow! Hahaha
I arrived at Chiang Mai, a relaxed, easy going authentic town. The guesthouse was run by a really tall, bold Thai guy, with the appearance and charisma of a monk. I actually think he is or had been one. His voice was so calm, that when he tried to explain me how to get to the Doj Suthep, I thought he was trying to put me in to a deep meditation. Hahaha The guest house had a real serene feel to it. A swimming pool in the middle surrounded by the cottages. A lot of green, plants and trees. Under a wooden on roof, a big army jeep was parked. The owner told me that only it’s exterior was old. The inside of the car was completely new. It was his hobby old timer.
I rented a scooter at the guesthouse to drive around town. The town is easy to get around. The city center is surrounded by one big road. So whenever I got lost on my scooter I just drove out of the city until I reached the big road and reorientate again. :-) One evening however it was raining. I waited until the rain was finished and then decided to take the scooter and go for something to eat, and may be watch a World Cup match. I sat on the scooter and even before I could turn on the engine I slipped on to the ground with the scooter. The ground at the guesthouse was that slippery. Luckily the scooter stayed unscathed. I wisely decided to leave the scooter at the guesthouse that evening. Besides the scooter, it is easy to take a Tuk Tuk or a Songthaew, a red pick up truck where you share the price with fellow travelers. This makes them the cheapest. I found out the hard way, taking the Songthaew all by myself and wondering why the driver was so happy. Hahaha.
The next day I went to Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, which is a buddhist temple on top of a mountain. It was really special. I went there by Songthaew and after arrival I had walked the huge 309 step stairs up hill. When you finally arrive there you see one huge gold Chedi and people were walking around a special white flower in there hand. I joined them. After one round I left the path around the Chedi, only to find out that it is common to walk three rounds. I went back in there and I did the three times. :-)
After that I went to the Tiger Kingdom. It is said that you can hug tigers here. I had to go and see that. You could choose to hug a baby tiger, a junior or a really big one. Of course I went for the latter and of course I had to sign a disclaimer form. ;-) You arrive at the tiger area where you can see them from behind a fence. You wait until it is your turn and then you are allowed to step in to the arena. There were some rumors about the tigers being drugged, because people saw them sleep a lot. So I was a bit skeptic. However, these guys were active as hell. Jumping in and out of the water and playing with each other. There was no suspicion of them being drugged at all. I found out that these tigers were trained by humans from birth, so they are used to human touch. And it is normal for tigers to sleep during the day and hunt during the night. So of course some of them are sleeping. Hahaha. It was my turn! I was explicitly told not to touch their head, neck or front paws. I only thought by my self, what if I did? For example accidently?
I went in! One fence goes up, you step in and the fence closes behind you. Then a fence in front of you opens… and you… are… in… the… arena!!!
I now realized I was between one of, if not the greatest predators in the world. These guys were huge! One just walked past me over the edge of the pool, with an intimidating swagger walk. ;-) The keeper was looking for one tiger I could take a picture with. Some were still playing, some were just about to go in to the pool… “Come here, sir”, the keeper said. One tiger at the back was just lying down. I got close to the tiger “No, not from the front!”, the keeper whispered “Approach him from the back.” I understood, I should by no means form any threat or whatsoever to the tiger. So I approached from behind and sat down behind the tiger. The pictures were taken, but then the tiger noticed me. He turned his head to me. Shivers went down my spine, but I kept on smiling. He then turned his head back. I gently put my hand on its stomach and could feel it breathe. This is awesome!! I’m here! I’m doing this! We found another tiger to take a picture with and also two tigers who were just relaxing. It was over before I knew it. Amazing experience! #epic Luckily I read about the multiple tiger attacks and accidents at these type of parks afterwards. Hahaha #angelonmyshoulder
Also in Chiang Mai I had to get my toe bandage changed. However on my way there I burned my ankle to the exhaust of my scooter. Really!?? Hahaha, Yeah really! Luckily I was already on my way to the hospital ;-)
My toes were still really hurting. After all the sightseeing and walking I wanted to go for some dinner two streets away. But I overused my toes so much that day, that I had to get a Tuk Tuk. The guy was like were you want to go. I was like: “There!” I could almost point at it! Haha
And I don’t know what it is, but in Thailand everyone wants to stand on my little or my big toe. In the airplane to Bangkok for example. I had my foot in the aisle for one minute and a guy past by, BAM!, stepping on my too. In Bangkok I asked for directions, the guy turned around to point the direction, BAM!, stepping on my too. It started to look like a real bad slapstick cartoon! Haha. I only needed my too to become ten times as big and beating like a pounding heart. Lol! But as I learned in Thailand… “Sabai, sabai” which means, no worry!!!
One day before I arrived in Bangkok the curfew was completely lifted all around Thailand. I arrived at this beautiful hostel. Nicely designed, with a pond in the lobby and a huge dartboard on the second floor. I put down my backpack and connected to the internet to get the result of the Netherlands vs Spain match. My last update was “0-1” for Spain, so when I saw the score of “5 – 1” I couldn’t help but make a loud sound Jeeej! Hahaha. How on earth was this possible!!!?? I quickly checked the match highlights. Unheard! During my world trip, I’ve been asked a thousand times, which country I live in. When I replied the Netherlands, the subject normally immediately switched to Amsterdam. After this day, the subject switched immediately to the 5-1 match. I only had to put my two hands in the air, 5-1 when people didn’t quite understand where I was from and they would say: “Ohh, Hollaaanda? Great match!!” Hahaha
I stayed in Bangkok for two days and I must say it rained pretty often. I took a taxi to the center, because I wanted to eat some insects. It was on my bucket list. But it was hard to explain the driver to bring me to a place where they sell insects. I asked for a pen and a piece of paper and even drew some bugs for him and made eating gestures. He looked at me like I was explaining politics to a five year old. Then eventually I drew a comic for him. It took me some time, but he looked at it fiercely and than he smiled, he understood. Jeej!! ;-) He brought me to this market at Khao San Road. There I saw a woman with a stand full of deep fried bugs, spiders and scorpions. “You want to try” she asked me as soon as I looked at the horrible things in front of me. My mind said: “Nooooo”, but somehow my mouth said: “Yes!” There I ate a maggot. People who know me, also know how much I like insects hahaha #beingsarcastic. So shivers went all over my back. The taste was quite ok and it was just crunchy, but still… it was a freaking maggot! All the way I kept on tasting the maggot in my mouth and I just couldn’t get rid of the taste.
My photo camera still had a little bit of fog in it, because it got wet at the Full Moon Party. This explains the fogginess in some pictures. Hahaha. The water will evaporate in time I guess. :-)
I decided to go and eat something at a terrace to get the taste away. At the restaurant there was an older man sitting with a woman. He looked at me and greeted me warmly. He invited me to their table. “Come and sit with us my brother”, he said. The woman seemed to be a local and was knitting wrist bandages. He was drinking beer and seemed to be having a good time. I ordered some soup. Then someone with a whole bunch of scorpions came at our table. If I would like to try one? Why not, I already ate a maggot. Suddenly I felt all the eyes at the terrace focusing on me, while I was trying to muster all the courage I could, to eat the scorpion. I looked at the black scorpion on the stick in front of me. It was real, it was black with a red glow to it. It was horrible. Then I cleared my mind and put the whole scorpion in my mouth. The only thing I knew I had to do was chew as if my life was depending on it. I chewed like there was no tomorrow. It was crunchy and it had almost no flavor. I swallowed and tears came out of my eyes. I freakin’ did it!! I ate a freakin’ scorpion. Everyone applauded and then I started to act though. Hahaha, pushing the guys at the other tables to also try it. Hahaha. Yes, like they say courage comes afterwards. I had a little chat with the brother. I asked them how he and the woman knew each other. Seemed that they didn’t know each other. He just sat down at her table a while ago. He then bought a bracelet from her and she excused us and left the table. Then the story started to get even stranger. He started to tell me that he was a teacher without work here and that he needed money for his hotel only to stay one more night, otherwise he had to sleep on the streets. All my alarm bells started ringing fiercely! And then he started to get emotional, tears coming out of his eyes. So please brother, will you help me. The only thing I was thinking about, was: What if! What if this was really a man in need? But as soon as I placed my self in his position I knew this story stank. I looked at his gold watch. I said: “Is that a real gold watch on your arm?” Surprised by my sudden question, he answered: “Yes it is” and then continued his moaning. “So please brother, can you…” “Well, if I was you and was really that deep in trouble, I would first switch from a hotel to a hostel, because its cheaper and secondly I would also try to sell that watch. “Listen brother”, I said “I ain’t stupid! You get a beer from me, but that’s it.” I paid for my food and his beer and left.” I saw a slight grin on his face, saying: “You got me, brother”. His cover was blown. What was he thinking!? Hahaha
I also visited Wat Pho, the Lying Buddha. This immense gold, lying Buddha was really impressive. Also on the sole of it’s feet, there are ancient scriptures. All this time my big and my little toe where far from perfect. I had to go and replace the bondage now and then at a local hospital, but still, these two guys were not going to stop me from exploring hahaha.
Some drivers are funny though. They will ask you if you want to see a ping-pong show. Well… no.. sorry! Hahaha. People at the hostel already prepared me for this. If you don’t know what a ping-pong show is, google it, or better yet just leave this one. Hahaha
In Thailand people greet with a wai, which consist of a slight bow, with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion. Even the “Ronald Mc Donalds” clown in front of the shop is making a wai. They really adjust to each culture.. Hahaha.
One evening I took a Tuk Tuk back to the hostel, because the vending machine at the hostel wasn’t working. I decided to go at the supermarket across the street nearby. But when I left the hostel I saw that the street was completely put off by heavily armed soldiers and no smiles. I was allowed to walk to the supermarket. A thought of making a picture came rapidly in to my mind, but left my mind with that same speed. These guys were no joke, this situation was no joke. No time for funny things. I walked past them, while they clearly were keeping an eye on me. In principle I could be anyone, even a possible threat. I bought my water and neatly returned to the hostel. Wow!
“Sometimes you have to travel a long way to find what is near” ― Paulo Coelho, Aleph