Hanoi – Bangkok – Udon Thani – Kut Chap

2017-11-19 at 20:13

The last few days in Asia for this trip. Hanoi International or Noi Bai Airport as they call it here. I have a VietJet flight to Bangkok. And a bus ticket a few days later to Kut Chap to see Nong and the girls.

My plane to Bangkok
My plane to Bangkok

VietJet from the inside
VietJet from the inside. I had enough space and was quite happy with VietJet. Booked my 2 flights in 2018 already with them.

Adios Hanoi
Adios Hanoi

Over the clouds - over Laos
Over the clouds – over Laos

Bangkok

Two nights in BKK – visited Melanie and Scott – that was all.

Bangkok Architecture
Bangkok Architecture

Bird of Pray? Not really
Bird of Pray? Not really

Coffee
Coffee

Off to Udon Thani

My VIP bus to Udon Thani
My TCK Rungroj VIP bus to Udon Thani. Left Bangkok at 21:00 for 454 Bath. Quite a good deal. There are snacks and food vouchers included.

Enough space for the night
Enough space for the night

The usual 2-1 seating arrangement
The usual 2-1 seating arrangement

Gave my food to the lady next to me
Gave my food to the lady next to me

Breakfast in Udon
Breakfast in Udon. Had to wait for Nong to pick me up and give me a lift to Kut Chap

Kut Chap

Good to be back but it was bloody hot there. Nong arranged a room at her neighbors place. They build a small house to rent apartments. Mine was not really finished but the bathroom worked and there was WiFi – what more do you need??

My room
My room

At the coffee shop
At the coffee shop

What you do?
What you do?

Evening with the girls
The best part of the day – the evenings with the girls

Evening with the girls

The fish market
The fish market part of the market. The market is behind the bar and there is a public toilet. Way more space to take a leak. I never tried the toilet in the small restaurant.

Breakfast
Breakfast – Nong cooked for me in the morning – great when you wake up and find some fresh food on your doorstep! Thank you Nong!!

Hello Vietnam! Back again in Saigon and off to Long Hai

2017-06-01 at 20:11

8 weeks Thailand – most of it up North in Pai. Meeting old friends and making new ones. It was a very good time – I come back again 😉
The next few days should go down like that: Fly to Saigon, find a motorbike and get out of the city before Tet starts. The goal was to get to Long Hai with my new bike in 5 days from today – the day I left Bangkok. Sure enough that is more time than you need but I had a few friends coming in to Saigon as well and wanted to meet them. And I wanted a 135 cc bike which is a bit more complicated to find than your good old 125cc that you find in every street.
Boarding AirAsia BKK to SGN
Boarding AirAsia BKK to SGN

Quite busy at the old airport
Quite busy at the old airport

Enough space for me - they gave me an emergency exit row seat :-)
Enough space for me – they gave me an emergency exit row seat 🙂

Adios Bangkok
Adios Bangkok

The plane was not too high up so we had clouds above and under the plane for a long time. Nice to look at them – they change all the time – a dream land in the sky.

In the clouds over Vietnam
In the clouds over Vietnam

Over the delta in south Vietnam
Over the delta in south Vietnam

You can almost see the heat down there. And it does look quite humid as well.

Golf course close to Saigon
Golf course close to Saigon

Welcome to Saigon

The flight was smooth as silk – even on AirAsia 🙂 however immigration in Saigon was a big mess. I had my Visa on arrival papers from Vietnam Visa Pro (They are the BEST – use them!). Went to the counter and gave everything to the guys behind the glass. Waiting and waiting. From time to time an angry officer shouted at us: “Do not stand here – sit there” for no reason.
Most of my plane was gone with their passport stamped and my application still somewhere in there.
All the time some guys cut in-between with Fast Track Service. For 15 US$ you get the next slot. And for 30 US$ you get your papers worked on right away. That is worth looking into if you fly into Saigon. No need for it in Hanoi!!
One hour later – more planes arrived, more people waited. Only 3 guys from my plane left. At last I am not the only one. 90 minutes later an immigration office tried to call me with my name – but that was to complicated so he only yelled “Germany”. “I can not find your name!” We talk about 2 pieces of paper – printed only on one side each. With 18 names! And he could not find mine – I could without my glasses! A half hour or so later I got my passport. The 2 guys that had to wait as long as I had got a Uber into town and gave me a lift. The car did stop close to my hostel. So I walked over there and checked in. Time for some food and beer – what a welcoming country!

My 1st Bia Saigon for this trip
My 1st Bia Saigon for this trip

Bánh mì - Vegetarian
Bánh mì – Vegetarian

Day One in Saigon

There is a Vegetarian restaurant under the hostel. It turns into a sleeping room for the staff and parking hall for staff and guest motorbikes at night.
There is a Vegetarian restaurant under the hostel. It turns into a sleeping room for the staff and parking hall for staff and guest motorbikes at night

Morning market in front of the hostel
Morning market in front of the hostel

Distribution centre round the corner
Distribution centre round the corner

I walked to the gold shops at the side of Bến Thành Market. One of them had even a better rate for the € than the rate was for credit card cash!! And they are open the next few days before Tet. If you are in Saigon and want to change money try Dntn Vàng Hà Tâm next to the market! Here is a link to Google Maps.
Tet is the Vietnamese new year. If you ever travel to Vietnam make sure you do not have to move before or after Tet. The roads are full, many accidents, everything gets more expensive and most of the shops and restaurants close. So it might be a good idea to go to a tourist place along the coast. Over there at last the restaurants will be open. But I still had a few days to go. And the plan was to escape to the beach!

A 24/7 Vegan Restaurant! Next to the market!
A 24/7 Vegan Restaurant! Next to the market!

Only a few days to go before Tet. The park is a big flower market
Only a few days to go before Tet. The park is a big flower market

More flowers in the park
More flowers in the park

Waiting for tourists
Waiting for tourists

Ice Coffee
Vietnamese Ice Coffee – well deserved after my stroll to the money changers at the market.

WiFi was not working at my hostel so I did spend quite some time at the $nob Coffee
WiFi was not working at my hostel so I did spend quite some time at the $nob Coffee

And did try a few of their cakes as well
And did try a few of their cakes as well

Friends in Town!

Scott doing another visa run
Scott doing another visa run

Misha at the beginning of his Vietnam trip and Konstantin at the end of his visa run.
Misha at the beginning of his Vietnam trip and Konstantin at the end of his visa run.

Scott at the soup place
Scott at the soup place

My new Ride

My new ride - a Exciter 135 with a 5 speed manual gear box
My new ride – a Exciter 135 with a 5 speed manual gear box

14599 km on the clock
14599 km on the clock

Buying the bike was faster than expected. Took only 5 minutes – most of the time we did count money – 33 Million Dong. Some paperwork later the guy was happy and I only needed some elastic strings to get my bag fixed. Yes – it is the same bag I had last year.

Finally on the Road

There are not to many roads out of the city with the motorbike. You are not allowed on the fast highway so I opted for the ferry from Cat Lai Port to the other side and continue on the DT769 and the HL13 towards the QL51. Looks like the fastest way out of the city to me.
Once on the QL51 I only had to drive down to Long Hai. Since I had no clue how long it would take to get the bike and move from Saigon I booked a room in Long Hai for a night.

This is where rich people will move in soon
Somewhere in suburbia Saigon where rich people will move in soon

Waiting for the ferry
Waiting for the ferry in Cat Lai Port

Crossing the river
Crossing the river

We had about 34 degrees - but the Vietnamese do not want to work on their tan.
We had about 34 degrees – but the Vietnamese do not want to work on their tan

Time to check the phone
Time to check the phone and do all the little things before the race is on again on the other side

New church in Xã Tân Phước
New church in Xã Tân Phước. After all the years before Vietnam did open up again after the war they do construct the churches the same way as they did before the war. In the years after the North won the war the new churches looked nothing like that.

A bit further down the road - a church from the good old communist times
A bit further down the road – a church from the good old communist times

Maria
Maria with her baby boy

And her son
And only a few years later he was a man! Friendly with a big heart and a huge smile he waves at me.

Another minute down the road
Another minute down the road

Further down the QL 51 in Xã Tân Hải
Further down the QL 51 in Xã Tân Hải. The tower is not always on the right!

Happy to have visitors
Happy to have visitors

Giáo Xứ Long Hương Catholic church in Bà Rịa
Giáo Xứ Long Hương Catholic church in Bà Rịa

Salt production close to An Ngãi
Salt production close to An Ngãi

Salt production close to An Ngãi

Cathedral Parish Hailin Nhà thờ Giáo xứ Hải Lâm
Cathedral Parish Hailin Nhà thờ Giáo xứ Hải Lâm

Hello water - close to Ap Bung Rieng
Hello water – clost to Ap Bung Rieng

My ride Yamaha Exciter 135
New and clean – lets take some pictures – just in case…

Yamaha Exciter 135

Looook!

Vung Tau in the back
Time to get to my hotel – coast road with Vung Tau in the back

Hoa Sua Motel in Long Hai

The Hoa Sua Motel in Long Hai was the stop for tonight. It is on the smaller street so not to noisy in the night. Check in was absolutely no sweat. The owner took the passport – showed me the room and a minute later I was in the shower. Great! The room was super clean, the shower as well. WiFi fast and stable, nice table with a chair. A good place. Left the window open at night with a nice breeze coming in from the ocean.
The room was 10 US $ for a night – check it out on booking.com.

The Hoa Sua Motel in Long Hai
Bed, chair, table and a closet – which I never use

The Hoa Sua Motel in Long Hai

The Hoa Sua Motel in Long Hai

The Hoa Sua Motel in Long Hai

Todays Drive

111 km in a bit more than 4 hours with all the picture stops and some gas station time for the bike

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Last Days in Pai – Winter 2016/17

2017-03-31 at 10:05

It does not matter if you stay 6 weeks in Pai or 4 months. If feels to short but with the fires on the way I get out even before February now. Here are a few more pictures from Pailand in Thailand.

Jumping visitors from HongKong
Jumping visitors from HongKong

Twin Hut Family BBQ
Twin Hut Family BBQ

Twin Hut Family BBQ

The little emporer
The little emporer

Twin Hut Family BBQ

The Drummer
The Drummer

Time to bring them to the fire-place
Time to bring them to the fire place

Birthday party at Sapha Muang - The Boys are hungry
Birthday party at Sapha Muang – The Boys are hungry

Birthday party at Sapha Muang

One of the last sunset in Pai for this winter
One of the last sunset in Pai for this winter

Breakfast Papayas in front of my bungalow
Breakfast Papayas in front of my bungalow

Surprise surprise - Strawberries today
Surprise surprise – Strawberries today

A wolf in a sheep skin?
A wolf in a sheep skin?

High 5
High 5

Clouds over the Pai
Clouds over the Pai

Mountains with a hat
Mountains with a hat

View from the bungalow

View from the bungalow

Mark doing his morning routine
Mark doing his morning routine

Full moon and a beer
Full moon and a beer

Walking street Pai in January - never saw it so empty the last 8 years
Walking street Pai in January – never saw it so empty the last 8 years

Miaooo
Miaooo

Another visitor from Stuttgart
Another visitor from Stuttgart

The Dalton's - finally together!
The Dalton’s – finally together in Pai!

Lazy cats
Lazy cats

Cat Hat
Cat Hat

See you next year!
See you next year!

Every time I leave from the bus station in CNX I have dinner here
Every time I leave from the bus station in CNX I have dinner here. Sadly it did not really improve over time.

Compared to my Swiss flight this is a lot of space
Compared to my Swiss flight this is a lot of space

Even has a bigger screen and massage seats
Even has a bigger screen and massage seats

What a mess
What a mess

Tired driver
Tired driver

At Melanies place
At Melanies place

Last night in BKK with the gang
Last night in BKK with the gang

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Back in Thailand – Winter 2016/2017

2017-03-14 at 08:56

Enough of the zigzagging round Europe. Time to see some sunshine and blue sky. Mid November it was – time to fly to BKK. Did book the flight quite early this year after all the cheap offers in my mail box. 528€ with Lufthansa from STR over FRA to BKK. Back BKK over ZHR to STR. Of course the cheapest offer was 430€ with China and I got it after I booked the ticket.
So my Lufthansa flight was Wednesday the 23rd and Monday evening two days before the flight Lufthansa pilots announced they will strike. Starting Wednesday! Great news!
So Lufthansa has a hotline – but only one or two people working that hotline I guess – and after about 10 to 15 minutes the computer tells you to go to the web site and change the flight yourself. So I tried the web site and the phone at the same time. Guess a few more people tried that as well. Nothing worked – every time I had changed the ticket the server gave me an error – so I looked up the Lufthansa number in New York and VOIP them. 6 minutes later I was rebooked to Swiss from STR over ZHR to BKK the same day as the original flight. No sure why Lufthansa can not even deal with a strike that they know is coming? And it was not even the first time. I really have to change back to one of the Golf airlines again.
The first leg was quite nice – small plane and all. The second leg was impossible – I had more leg room in the small propeller plane!! Absolute no space to move – and not only me. That was a quite new Boeing 777-300ER – and do you think you can move the screen? If the person in front of you leans back your movie is over – unless you lean back as well. What a BS! Even the average customer was complaining. To bad I have the same plane on the way back 🙁
The small one to Zürich
The first leg – STR to ZHR.

Adios STR
Adios STR

En route to Zürich
En route to Zürich

Guess which Airport that is
Guess which Airport that is

Swiss No Space Inside Plane
Swiss No Space Inside Plane

No space Swiss Airlines
See the old guy? He was something like 166cm and he did fit into that seat. But you are better not over 170cm! And see the screens – you can not tilt them a millimetre. So comfort in this plane: Zero as in there is none!

Dinner
Had my Vegetarian Meal and two red wines. And after a movie and 2 sleeping pills I was finally sleeping a bit.

Little fluffy clouds
Little fluffy clouds

Breakfast
Breakfast

Over Thailand

Blue sky over Thailand
Blue sky over Thailand

A few seconds before touchdown in Bangkok
A few seconds before touchdown in Bangkok

Airport Transfer
The last few times I took the train down town and a taxi – this time I was lazy and took the good old mini bus again. Takes forever but you save the hassle with finding a taxi that turns on the meter at the place where they know that you are a tourist coming from the airport.

Pad Thai
My good old Noodle Lady in the park was on vacation so I had my first Pad Thai in the evening somewhere on the street.

Booze only from 11-14 and 17-24!
Booze only from 11-14 and 17-24 at 7/11! I know I do not get my beer here – I support the small shops – and they do sell the whole day as well. I was only here to get a new toothbrush – sorry small shops – only seven has it.

Leo at my favourite bar
Leo at my favourite bar: Nom Tung Loaw in the little alley next to Soi Samsen

Andy is the Man
Thank you Andy for coming over to my neck of the woods.

The boss man on the left
The boss man on the left

Possmann
The next day I went to see Scott. Ended up at a Couchsurf meeting at Silom. Later we passed this – ha!

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