China – part 2 and the wonderful Thailand

Hi all,

I’m sorry that it took me so long to post a new blog. The past few weeks I’ve traveled through the southern part of China, went to Bangkok, had a blast with my amazing roommates in Koh Tao, and I’m writing about all of this from India.

On September 25, I decided to take a walk through Guilin. The government is very focused on making money on tourism, so you have to pay for literally everything. Not only to enter the Moon & Sun pagoda’s, but also to walk up the hills. I’ve heard that it’s not worth the extra money, so I just walked around them and I even got a nice shot of the Elephant Trunk Hill.

Moon and Sun Pagodas


Elephant Trunk Hill

The Guilin restaurants have (small) buckets and cages outside to let the customers choose the animal they want to eat. Nice.
From the Li river you have a nice view on the Seven Star Park.

The next day I took a bus to Yangshuo. I knew that there were buses going there every 15 to 20 minutes and stepped into a bus with already passengers in it. I waited, and waited, and waited… While watching other buses drive away. After 45 minutes it finally departed and they tried to charge me more money than previously agreed on.
However, the beautiful scenery of Yangshuo was worth all the frustrations. I rented a bicycle at a youth hostel and cycled along the Yulong river. The mountains are gorgeous and I also saw rice paddies.





On September 27, I went to the rice terraces of Dazhaí. The bus ride took three hours and went through a beautiful mountain landscape with little waterfalls. There was an expensive cable car going to the viewpoint at the top, but I decided to walk there. After all, the best view comes after the hardest climb (plus I didn’t have the money 😉 ). But boy was the hike hot and humid! The view on top of the mountain was gorgeous, though.




In the evening, the hostel organized a little party for the mid-autumn festival. The participants got a workshop how to make dumplings.

In the morning, I walked to a nearby market to buy some fruits and nuts. It’s really obvious that the Chinese have not heard of Animal Rights… The animals are packed together in tiny cages, buckets, or nets and buyers drag the animals (alive) home by their legs or ears.



After this bad experience I went to the Reed Flute Cave. The cave is quite large and there are many colorful lights shining on the stalactites, stalagmites and rock formations. They also showed a short video of its history on a flat wall and the guide (only Chinese information) sang a couple of times.



On September 29, I took the fast train from Guilin to Guangzhou. The hostel was really difficult to find. When I finally found the address, I went to the right floor to find a closed door… After I tried to call them a couple of times I went up again. Luckily, someone was just leaving and I could enter the messy hostel. The long search (again) for a vegetarian meal made me realize I didn’t want to be in China anymore. It’s too crowded, too humid, and the people have some disgusting habits. I was really looking forward to the Thai beaches!

The next day, I went to the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King. The king Zhao Mo had a burial suit made of 2000+ pieces of jade and was buried luxuriously with also his four concubines, a musician, a horse, a guard, and some other people. Weird. The museum has a nice display of the artifacts found in the tomb that was accidentally discovered in 1983.


Then, I walked to the Orchid Garden. The garden was really beautiful and I took dozens of photos of the beautiful flowers. Yeah yeah I know, I’m a lot like my grandparents with my love for orchids.



After a nice break in the lovely garden, I went to the Zhènhai Tower and the Memorial Garden to the Martyrs.


National Day has arrived… The day that all the Chinese are on the move, because they all have a week-long holiday… I went to the Chen Clan Academy, where they have a display of both old and new art. They even have (and sell) ivory and have this disturbing sign:



For lunch I went to a nearby vegetarian restaurant, where I had some amazing dumplings. At a bakery I wanted to try a Chinese pastry and I asked whether their pastries contained meat. Her first question: ” Muslim?”. Luckily, they had one vegetarian option. It’s pretty much the same as Pastais de Bélem, which actually makes sense considering the proximity to (Portuguese) Macau.

The next day I took a walk with Maria, a Russian girl working in China as a model. She showed me one of the best places in Guangzhou. It is a park surrounded by skyscrapers and you can also see the most famous building of Guangzhou. A tall skyscraper that has many different colors at night. We went to the Spring Garden, which has a pretty lake. After a stroll through the Spring Garden, I moved on to the Shámiàn Island. In the 19th century, the French and British settled down there and you can still see a lot of European architecture and influences.



The next day I relaxed a bit in the skyscraper park and had a Skype conversation with my mother and brother 🙂

On October 4, I took the bus to Macau. It was raining heavily, so I couldn’t stroll around as much as I wanted. However, I did drop my backpack at the Grand Lisboa Hotel, walked to Largo de Senado and the Ruins of St Paul’s Church. On the way there were a lot of pastry shops that all provided samples ^^ After eating a lot of cookies (freeloading!), I retrieved my backpack and walked to the ferry to go to Hong Kong.


In Hong Kong there is a lot of wealth! Hermès, Cartier, Louis Vuitton,… And expats everywhere you look. I went to Hong Kong Park, which is really pretty. There are butterflies, waterfalls, turtles, and lots of birds. Then I went to the Zoological and Botanical Gardens and took a ferry to see the light and laser show and the Avenue of Stars. I took the ferry back and took the tram to see the Victoria Peak at night. The view was stunning.







On October 6, I met an Australian, middle-aged man (Kurt) in my hostel who is in Asia to find a wife (no joke). He told me to take the world’s longest covered outdoor escalator and I took his advice. The escalator takes you in 20 minutes to the top of the hill and passes a pretty mosque. I walked downhill passing a synagogue and to the Man Mo temple.

The next day I had a look around in the Hard Rock Cafe. The place is really small, but they do have a nice sign telling the history of the Hard Rock Memorabilia. Afterwards, I went to the Central Library.


October 8, the day I would finally leave China and fly to Thailand! When I arrived in Bangkok I wasn’t really sure how to get to my hostel. I went to the bus stop and asked the bus drivers if they went to that part of the city. A very friendly Thai girl helped me. We took the first bus together and she showed me which second bus to take to the hostel. Everyone on the street was also very eager to help me find the hostel.
When I finally arrived, a girl at the reception was in tears because her lost phone was found in the bag of one of the hostel employees… A promising start. I decided to walk to the Railway Station to book a ticket to Koh Tao. The manager tried to convince me that it’s too far and to take a tuktuk (because of commissions…). I insisted on walking there and Samar (India) offered to show me how to get there. Eventually he walked with me the entire way and we had a lot of fun talking about India and vegetarian food. In the evening I joined him, a Japanese guy, and a Thai girl to Khao San Road. The place is fun, but crazy! People who go to Koh Panghan would love it there. A lot of party vibes, tourists getting wasted, and weird street food (fried scorpions).

A little information on Thailand: you should not speak a word about the king (even though the city is filled with pictures of the royal couple), don’t fold banknotes on the king’s head, and don’t put money in your bra. The king does not want to see your breasts 🙂

The next day I met Kato (NL. A looot of Dutchies in Thailand) and Samar taught us a bit of Hindi. The three of us walked to the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and viewed Wat Arun (under construction) from the other side of the river. In a park we stumbled upon a daily dance class (very energetic!) and Samar totally went for it. A (very proud) Thai woman started a conversation with us about the free dance classes, beautiful places in Thailand, and the upcoming festivities.
Kato and I went back to Khao San Road to do some necessary shopping. In a few days I would arrive at a beautiful beach, but I didn’t even have a bikini. The Thai are really small people, so the bikikis are also tiny… And one size only… Tiny, tiny, tiny.
We heard good stories about coconut ice cream. So when we found a vendor, we tried it out. It’s delicious! You get half a coconut, they scrape the “coconut meat”, add vanilla ice cream, and top it off with chocolate sauce and peanuts. Coconut heaven!

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On October 10, I headed out of the hostel and I ran into Samar, a Philipino guy, and an Italian guy. The Philipino guy asked me where I was heading after Bangkok and asked: “So are you a hippie?” XD Funny. Apparently my relaxing beach destination said a lot about me. Funnily enough, I was also heading out to go to a vegetarian/vegan restaurant where I had an amazing vegan meal.
Afterwards, I walked past the Democracy monument, saw a big lizard in a river, walked past the Throne Hall to Wat Benchama Bophit.





On the way back I passed the Golden Mount. Back in the hostel I said goodbye to Samar and walked to the bus stop to catch my sleeper train. No bus seemed to be going to the Railway Station, so I got a bit worried. A nice couple offered to help me. They stopped a taxi, we got in, and they took me to the Railway Station. They paid the taxi driver and would not take my money, so I gave them a piece of fruit I had left. Thai people are so nice!

At 4.30 AM I arrived in Chumphon. The ferry to Koh Tao would leave at 7.00 AM, so I had to wait at the station for my transfer bus to arrive. There was also a Dutch Fox group waiting for their bus and I joined them for coffee. At the ferry pier you actually think you can see the island, but you pass that island and see nothing but water for a few hours.
Koh Tao is absolutely gorgeous! Blue water, palm trees, sandy beaches: everything you look for in a beach holiday. I walked to my hostel in Sairee Beach and met my roommates Britta, Vincent (both NL), Noa, and Inbar (both from Israel). We went to the beach and were living the good life ^^. Back in the hostel we met Jess. She’s from Ireland, loves sports, and wanted to see the France-Ireland rugby match. We joined her and the atmosphere in the sports bar was great!

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I can tell you everything I’ve done the entire week I was in the amazing Koh Tao, but I guess the reading would get quite boring (beach, beach, beach). So I’ll just give you a summary. We formed a nice group together with all of our roommates and a German boy and his sister. We went to the beach every day, went out for dinner together, and visited the fire show a couple of times.



On October 13, Britta, Vincent, and I went on a boat trip around the island. The boat took us to a few good snorkel spots and at Shark Bay we even saw a big turtle. So lucky! We went to Nang Yuan island, which has an amazing viewpoint.


The next day some of my Koh Tao friends rented ATVs to explore the island. When Britta and Jess came back (without the others) they told me how scary it was. Apparently, the ATVs are not made to carry two passengers and the steep hills made the front wheels lift up… Halfway through the ride it also turned out that Vincent did not even have a driver’s license, even though he was riding the ATV with Adrian as a passenger… The girls visited the whale skeleton (because of reconstruction it’s only bones in bags) and went back early. I’m really glad I didn’t join them.

On October 15 we said our goodbyes to Vincent (NL), Inbar (Israel), Steph (Australia), and David (USA). In return we welcomed three travelers from the same countries: Odin (Israel), Claire (Australia), and Jasmin (USA). A nice coincidence.

Unfortunately, I had to leave all these amazing people and this wonderful island on October 18… I really felt sad on the way to the pier. I booked a sleeper train (23.23) back to Bangkok, which was delayed and departed at 03.00.

Back in Bangkok I went to the Hard Rock Cafe (already in Halloween style) and enjoyed the Vegetarian Festival in Chinatown.



On October 20, I went to the airport to catch my flight to the colorful India. Unfortunately, it was already dark outside when I arrived in Kolkata. I asked whether the buses were going in the direction of my hostel, but I only got a head wobble. Not very helpful. A girl tried to help me and I found the train going to the city center. Outside they were celebrating Durga Puja and there were many colorful lights in the city.

I’ve already spent a full week in India (you’ve probably seen my photo of the beautiful Taj Mahal), but I’ll tell you about that later.

Lots of love.

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