Category Archives: Thailand

Hugging Chiang Mai Tigers

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!!!

Bangkok Army

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!

The Full Moon Party

The Full Moon Party, a once in a lifetime experience they say. Every month during full moon it is held at the beach of Haad Rin on the Thai island Koh Phangan. The trip from Singapore to Koh Phangan was exhausting. At 22:10 I flew from Singapore to the old Bangkok International Airport “Don Mueang”. I arrived at 23:25, but my next flight would departure the next day at 6:50. I waited for hours and slept maybe two. The plane I took at 6:50 arrived at Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport at 8:00 in the south of Thailand. From there I had to take a two and an half hour bus ride up to the Donsak Pier. Arriving at the Donsak Pier at 10:30 I had to wait for another two and an half hours for the ferry to Koh Phangan. There was a long line to get on to the very. I was already exhausted, waiting with my backpack in the hot, fiercely shining sun. I got on the ferry at 13:00. I was so tired I couldn’t even get any sleep on the ferry. Then I finally arrived at Haad Rin,  Koh Phangan Island at 15:00. From the pier I took a little bus to the center. I was dropped of in the middle of a road, which should be near to my hostel. I walked around for half an hour to ask people for directions, but nobody seemed to know the hostel. I sat down at this cafe where a man and two women, one of which worked there, had a lively conversation. I asked them about the hostel. They also didn’t know it, however the man offered to call the hostel. They were coming to pick me up, he said after he hung up the phone. Thank God! Haha. A woman on a scooter arrived shortly. The reason no one knew about the hostel, was because it was a really new hostel. However it was just behind the main street where we were. I could finally lay down in bed and take some rest. That is what a normal person would do after such a Spartan trip. Guess I’m not that normal ;-) Hahaha. Instead of going to sleep, I put my stuff in the hostel, rented a scooter and toured the island. #crazy!

I didn’t notice anything of the restlessness in the country, but then again the curfew for Koh Phangan and the rest of the touristic spots had been lifted already. It was the 11th and I thought the Full Moon party was going to be on the 13th so I had some time to take rest. But noooo!!! The party was scheduled for the 12th the next day!! Guess I hadn’t been looking at the right agenda. I ate shark that night. Just because it was possible Hahaha. Then went to sleep. The next day, still feeling a bit exhausted, everyone was getting ready for the Full Moon party. There was a muggy atmosphere on the island. Across the whole island you could buy the famous buckets. A bucket filled with little bottles of strong liquor, soda and red bull, which you have to mix your self. I met a group of people at the hostel and we naturally formed a group to hang out at the Full Moon party. Three guys from Dubai, a girl and a Chinese Guy from England, called Lilian and Alan and another guy from England called Peter. At the streets we bought some UV color body paint. This special paint glows brightly under blacklight and UV light. We painted our own and each others bodies with all sorts of creative figures that came to mind. Besides the normal buckets there were also the Giant buckets, which were just the size of buckets people use to put the mop in for cleaning their house. The Egyptian guy from Dubai lost a bet and had to go for the big bucket. I decided to join him. Why? Because it was possible ;-). The big bucket contained a bottle of vodka, a bottle of sprite, 8 energy drinks and a lot of ice cubes. These were accompanied by a pack of long straws. I mixed it all up and put the straws in the brewage. The giant buckets drew a lot of attention. People pointed at them, spontaneously came up to us to take a zip from one of the straws, people taking pictures with us. It was just straight up silly. We joked about drinking the whole bucket. Of course we weren’t gonna drink it all, it was just for fun. After only a few minutes sand from the beach and paint from your body gets in to the bucket, so we quickly abandoned them. The party was amazing! Loud music, beach, fire, happy, crazy people, UV body paint. The whole scene was like a dream. However I cut my too on some glass at the beach. Nothing serious really, but luckily an English guy and his wife helped me to put some bandage on it. The next evening I went to eat something. I had to get my ferry that night. In the restaurant I met James and James from England as well. They were funny. We had a good click, talked about our travels and bet on a song that was playing in the restaurant. Was it the Spice Girls or not? Me and James lost to James. Lol! We ended up singing along to the song, all three of us! Hahaha. Crazy! Holand was plaing its’ first World Cup match against Spain. I checked the current match status. 1-0 for Spain. “Hmm is the Netherlands going to loose their first match”, I thought. and then I checked out at the Hostel. It was night time and I took a motorcycle taxi to the Thong Sala Pier where my ferry would departure. But before that I decided to go to a small hospital to have my too checked. Nothing serious luckily. Only some dead skin. I had to have it checked daily at the hospital. While sitting at the back of the motorcycle going up and down hill in the night past some astonishing scenery I realized, that I haven’t even looked up to see the Full Moon during the party. However I guess it is safe to assume it was there :-) Lol! Hahaha.