A Travellerspoint blog

Chiang Mai - Jungle Trekking Adventure


View Around the world ın 8 months on chrisvasil's travel map.

From Chiang Mai we took a 3 day/2 night trekking tour, with 3 others and the guide.

Orchid garden and butterfly farm
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Sweaty Sue and dry me with jungle fruit (cucumber and banana flower) as our guide looks on unimpressedly
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Thai jungle spiral plant
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The first night we stayed in a chicken farming small village of 10 people and a few cats, terrifying Sue. We washed ourselves and our clothes in the brown river, and slept in a bamboo hut with 10 straw mats and mosquito nets.
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The next day started with a trip to the elephant farm, where we rode for close to an hour
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Bamboo rafting is the same as riding on a gondola, only not as high-tech
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The long-neck hill tribe "village", which (before negotiation) costs an extra $10 to visit, is a series of about 20 gift shops staffed by people taken from refugee camps. They got to the camps after fleeing persecution in Myanmar. The "village" we went to had mostly long-neck hill tribe people (all women: they are taken unmarried and get married to locals thereafter). There were also a few long-ear people (who wear the earrings that make holes in the ear lobe). The dress between the two tribes is different, but one thing they have in common is tight metal bands from the middle of the top of their calf muscles. The guide said these are to keep them from running away from their husbands, but I suspect it's to keep them running away from their colony. They are only paid subsistance amounts of rice for working in the village, though the guide said that if they sell stuff they can use profits to buy other things (presumably for inflated prices from the company - there are no stores in the jungle).
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After some more trekking, we stayed in thatched huts in a different village, and it rained the next morning
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The following day we hiked to a summit overlooking the whole area. It was a couple hard hours to get up, but we all made it in good spirits.
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Later in the day was whitewater rafting, which had a few good rapids. Apparently in the dry season it's just rafting rather than the whitewater type on account of the slower currents. The first day when we saw the river water we were really hoping that wouldn't be the whitewater rafting water, but after washing and doing laundry in the same water it didn't matter.
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The price of the whole 3 days, including transport, elephant riding, bamboo rafting, whitewater rafting, 2 nights' sleep, 3 meals a day, a guide shared between 5 people, and a stop at the hill tribe "village" was 1200 THB or about $40, per person (negociated from an initial price of around 2000THB).

The next day we did ziplining, which was great fun. The company we went with - Jungle Flight - is locally owned, advertises much less than the other, and is apparently much better.
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On the way back we stopped by some hot springs. They smelled sulfurous, and were really hot, probably around 80C
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On our last night in Chiang Mai we got locked out of our hotel - unbeknownst to me they lock the building at 11pm, and I didn't bring the hotel keys because our room lock was a padlock so I used one of our padlocks instead. After plotting for awhile, Sue flagged down a motorcycle driver who was delivering something to another hotel in the area. He woke up the manager of our hotel in her room, and she angrily came out to open the door. The next day her arm was in a cast, but she told us it was unrelated.

Posted by chrisvasil 10:59 Archived in Thailand Tagged ecotourism Comments (1)

Bangkok - Life in the year 2552


View Around the world ın 8 months on chrisvasil's travel map.

Going to Asia from Europe was a nice change - everything is so much cheaper: meals for a dollar, double rooms for ten, and the food is so good! This posting describes both our sejourns in Bangkok, totalling 7 days and interupted by the trip to Chiang Mai.

We're staying near the backpacker district of Khao San Rd, which has great shops to buy and sell equipment and books, and surpisingly has some excellent thai food. It is also near a 6-way intersection which is terrible to cross, made me get lost about 10 times, marked by this elephant monument.
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Our first day there was a day of national celebration (an actual one, not the one tuk-tuk drivers make up every day - more on that later), so we saw a show of music and dancing in front of City Hall.
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Half the pics we took were of food, it was all so good and so cheap
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Sue decided to be Buddhist while in Thailand, so she prays at all the shrines and many of the temples we pass.
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It turns out Ronald McDonald is Buddhist too. I was wondering why he hadn't been seen at church, synagogue, or mosque in North America. A statue like this is outside almost every McDonalds we passed by in the country.
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The vast majority of Thai Buddhas are slim, and a few seem to violate the rule of Buddhist statues that says they can't have apparent bones or muscle (one of 32 rules for making images of Buddha). But there are some fat Buddhas.
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Juxtoposition of old and new
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The Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Grand Palace are amazing, so big and ornate. Obviously, before finding the entrance we were told by tuktuk drivers that it is closed today, but another temple is free today, so we should go there with them. We politely declined, before being told by another tuktuk driver a few minutes later that we're underdressed (Sue wearing a tank top) and wouldn't be allowed in. We finally found the entrance, and though Sue had to borrow a blouse from the clothing-borrowing office there were otherwise no problems.
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Me posing as a rat
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Our hotel price was absolutely cheap, and it was pretty good 20091015_036.jpg

There's a massive night market along the sidewalks in the park in front of the Grand Palace, selling everything from used shoes to jewelery to food. Here is a view from there
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Democracy Monument, close to much good food and one of our main landmarks to find our way home
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Posted by chrisvasil 10:56 Archived in Thailand Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Rome - Fountains and ruins


View Around the world ın 8 months on chrisvasil's travel map.

Rome - Fountains and ruins

Like any good conquering empire's capital, Rome brought home some Egyptian Obelisks, like this one in at the top of the Spanish steps.
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Similarly, they have a couple of Jesuses standing on the top of pillars.
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One of the main squares is beautiful by night, with fountains and artists
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The Vatican is technically a seperate country, but with no borders to the tourist parts (St Peters Square and Basilica, and Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel). The rest is inaccessible, guarded by the Swiss Guard (in their colorful costumes).

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It's a bit troubling how many statues and carvings are of small children, especially in St Peters Basilica.
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Me on the Spanish steps, and refilling my water from the fountain in front
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National Antimafia Directorate, on a side street. There were a few officers in front, smiling for the camera as we took this pic, but we didn't take a picture of them.
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Smart cars seem to be the most popular type in Europe, and there are many copycats there, a few of which, like this Auto Pini 2, are even smaller
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The Roman ruins are situated in the middle of the city, and are the reason the transport system is so bad (2 subway lines) -- large parts of the city are above hidden ruins, and they do not want to destroy that without first excavating.
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In front of the Colussium
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At the Triti Fountain, and more small child angels
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Posted by chrisvasil 10:49 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

09/30 Rome, Italy

09/30 Rome, Italy
离旅馆附近有一个大的广场。一个众多裸男雕像组成的喷水池算是揭开了罗马裸体雕像的序幕。仔细看来,几百年来女人对男人的审美并没有改变,这些帅男在如今也是可以引起少女尖叫的对象。
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罗马源自于罗马帝国,那个曾经经历无数辉煌,统治和影响力深达欧洲和亚洲大陆的帝国。在我的印象里,始终不能把罗马于心急气躁的现代意大利人联系在一起。罗马之城与我来说,是自成一体的皇城。所以罗马是我们欧洲之行的最后的一站,也是我们之前最期待的一站。
罗马假日里的西班牙台阶。因为挤满了行人,让人很难把它和浪漫联系在一起,更谈不上所谓的经典了。可是好好的罗马台阶为什么叫西班牙台阶呢?还好中国没有所谓的日本台阶或者韩国台阶,不然我买块豆腐撞死算了。
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台阶下的喷泉,据说流出来的是泉水。
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这个母凭子贵的女人-圣母玛利亚。据说当地的消防局会在每年圣诞的时候架起天梯给圣母带上鲜花花环。在这个上帝之城,上帝的母亲待遇也不错!不过孤零零一个人矗立在城市中央,换做我,我是不会感觉幸福的。
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罗马室内就是不缺喷水池。看,还是裸男当家。
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很多时候那些不知名的小教堂更能扑捉我的视觉。傍晚蔚蓝色的天空和纯白色的教堂让我想起了圣托里尼,却多了一份庄重。
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喷泉周围的艺术家夜市。谁能说这些艺术家和往来的美女们不会演绎更浪漫的“罗马假日”呢?
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没有见过中国版的二十四桥明月夜,但我知道罗马的月夜足以让我沉醉着迷。
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去梵蒂冈,并非为了朝圣。少了教徒们的虔诚,多了一份旁观者的闲情逸致。在中东的时候埋头阅读了“天使与魔鬼”,这本书为整个宗教帝国披上了一层神秘的面纱,让其隐隐欲现,却深不可探。所以还未到达梵蒂冈,我却已经对它有了些许熟悉和期待。
传说中盛装的瑞士护卫。听后来在旅途中碰见的瑞士朋友(他有朋友就是瑞士护卫)说,梵蒂冈所有的护卫都来自瑞士。他们经过及其严格的挑选和训练。可惜不知是由于宗教的影响还是工作的压力,瑞士护卫的自杀率很高,而很多退伍的护卫都患有严重的心理疾病。
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圣彼得广场的柱子群 – 如果你站在广场的正中点看他们,以为就只有一层柱子。但其实换个角度看,就会发现每跟柱子的背后都重叠着另外4跟同样尺寸和设计的柱子。这门雄壮的“牌坊”,在世界上也绝无仅有了。这些柱子把圣彼得教堂包围的严严实实,像极了满嘴的牙齿矫形架。
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天使与魔鬼一书中标有“风”的标志和方向的地标。
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看到地标的我还能用理智控制住尖叫,但抬头看见书中其中一个主教被谋杀的石阶时,我再也控制不了激动,直接“拜倒”了。
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广场正前方的圣彼得教堂。这里是教皇工作和生活,以及主教们集会的场所。很难想象这么一座看似普通的房子曾经是整个欧洲的权力中心,并且在现今社会仍统治着全世界罗马教徒的精神信仰。
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揭开宗教王朝的神秘盖头 - 很雄伟,很精致,很神圣!
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教堂的底层是理解教皇的遗体。
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最受瞩目的当然是前主教。
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从教堂里出来总算又看见了碧蓝的天空和市场里鲜艳的颜色。
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罗马的历史遗迹。走过路过,也是缘分。也许现在看来它们并不如此,可是想像一下几千年前满眼的擎天大理石柱子,牌坊和楼层,那该是怎样的胜景.
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又见裸男
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罗马的凯旋门
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罗马竞技场 – 随着岁月的冲刷,它风韵犹存,美得让我窒息。不知道几千年以后的鸟巢,能不能给世人同样的震撼?
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罗马的美,在于街头巷角,甩开旅游书,我们陶醉于不知名的点点滴滴。
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如果你想犒赏你的视觉,那就请去罗马,它会带你重新回到古罗马帝国曾经的辉煌中,并让你陶醉不已。

Posted by suevasil 23:44 Comments (0)

Cinque Terre - Dramatic seaside villages on cliffs


View Around the world ın 8 months on chrisvasil's travel map.

Cinque Terre is a stunning collection of 5 picturesque villages with farms perched along cliffs and overlooking beaches. Each village is about the same: a few thousand residents, a beach with touristy restaurants nearby, a convenience store somewhere in town, and trails leading into the hills.
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There are trails connecting the 5 villages, accessible for 5 Euros and with a total of 5 hours of hiking. We skipped 2 hours of the trail, going instead by train, to conserve our energy.

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Posted by chrisvasil 10:47 Archived in Italy Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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