A Travellerspoint blog

May 2014

Diving in Thailand


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Before leaving Bangkok, I could borrow the underwater camera of my friend (Go Pro) and here is a selection of the shots I took during the 10 dives or so that I did in Thailand. For those who want to know a bit more, I have also listed the dive spots which I visited:

  • Ko Ha (Andaman sea, near Ko Lanta)
  • Hin Daeng and Hin Muang (Andaman see, off Ko Lanta)
  • HTMS Sattakut wreck (Ko Tao, Gulf of Thailand)
  • White Rock (Ko Tao, Gulf of Thailand)
  • Shark island (Ko Tao, Gulf of Thailand)
  • Chumphon Pinnacle (Ko Tao, Gulf of Thailand)
  • South West Rock (Ko Tao, Gulf of Thailand)

Before jumping into the water

Before jumping into the water


Boxfish

Boxfish


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Cave in the Ko Ha islands

Cave in the Ko Ha islands


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Some of the dive sites can actually be really crowded...

Some of the dive sites can actually be really crowded...


Encounter with a Manta Ray... impressive!

Encounter with a Manta Ray... impressive!


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Diving near a military ship wreck

Diving near a military ship wreck


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Be careful not to step on the sea urchins!

Be careful not to step on the sea urchins!

Posted by manolo84 04:39 Archived in Thailand Tagged diving english seas Comments (0)

De Ko Lanta à Ko Tao, petite visite des îles Thaïlandaises


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Et un article en français de plus!
Je voulais à l'origine combiner ma visite des îles avec mes photos et aventures odysséennes sous la mer mais je pense que j'ai assez de contenu et surtout trop de photos pour ne faire qu'un seul article...

De Bangkok donc, je pris donc le bus de nuit qui me fit arriver au petit matin, après environ 14h de bus, 3h d'attente et 30 min de ferry, sur Ko Lanta, l'île dont forcément tout le monde a entendu parler en France, du fait du jeu télévisé. Mais Ko Lanta est en fait composé de plusieurs îles, certaines plus grandes que d'autres et l'île principale sur laquelle je me suis trouvé est en fait appelée Ko Lanta Yai et j’eus bon chercher mais je ne vis point de caméras de TF1 nul part dans l'île ou aux alentours...

La raison principale qui me faisait venir sur Ko Lanta était donc comme mentionné plus haut, de pouvoir faire de la plongée dans l'un des meilleurs endroits au monde (pas le moins cher non plus par contre). En effet même si le golfe de Thaïlande (Sud-Est de la Thaïlande, voire la carte) est réputé pour ses certifications de plongées à prix très abordables, le côté Ouest de la Thaïlande, coté mer d'Andaman, possède les plus beaux spots de plongée et il n'est pas rare de croiser raies-manta et autres requins-baleine...

Mais entre deux plongées, je pris donc le temps de visiter ces îles que je ne qualifierai pas de paradisiaques car le développement du tourisme de masse en Thaïlande (avec tous ses bons et mauvais côtés) a fait un peu perdre le charme et caractère unique de ces îles je pense, mais c'est quand même bien sympa: le soleil est au rendez-vous, les plages de sable blanc aussi pour peu que l'on s'éloigne quelque peu des sentiers battus et surtout la mer est chaude, atteignant facilement les 30 degrés.

De plus certaines de ces îles sont aussi connues pour leurs apparitions dans des films tels que La Plage (avec Di Caprio) ou encore un des anciens James Bond (L'Homme au pistolet d'or) et même si les excursions vers ces îles étaient vraiment trop touristiques à mon gout, cela n’empêche pas moins que ces sites sont de toute beauté et ont été choisis pour de bonnes raisons.

Bref, je conclurai en vous disant que sur les îles de Thaïlande, il y en a vraiment pour tous les goûts, que vous soyez à la recherche d'un coin isolé pour pouvoir vous reposer à l'ombre des cocotiers, que vous ayez envie de visiter toutes les îles dont vous avez entendu parler à la télé ou dans les magazines, que vous soyez ici pour faire la fête non-stop avec la Full Moon party par exemple ou encore que vous désiriez cocher de votre liste de plongée la Thaïlande et ses eaux turquoises, le choix est vôtre!

Bateau de plongée près de  Ko Ha

Bateau de plongée près de Ko Ha


Drapeau Thaïlandais avec l'archipel de Ko Ha en fond

Drapeau Thaïlandais avec l'archipel de Ko Ha en fond


Un bébé éléphant sur Ko Lanta, ici en Thaïlande les éléphants sont souvent maltraités pour des fins touristiques donc une certaine éthique recommande de ne pas faire d'excursions à dos d'éléphant

Un bébé éléphant sur Ko Lanta, ici en Thaïlande les éléphants sont souvent maltraités pour des fins touristiques donc une certaine éthique recommande de ne pas faire d'excursions à dos d'éléphant


Le phare de Ko Lanta

Le phare de Ko Lanta


Coucher de soleil sur la jungle, Ko Lanta

Coucher de soleil sur la jungle, Ko Lanta


Toujours Ko Lanta

Toujours Ko Lanta


Ko Lanta

Ko Lanta


Ile au large de Ko Phi Phi

Ile au large de Ko Phi Phi


Ko Phi Phi Leh, qui a servi pour le tournage de "La Plage"

Ko Phi Phi Leh, qui a servi pour le tournage de "La Plage"


Ko Phi Phi Leh

Ko Phi Phi Leh


Maya bay, où "La Plage" fut tourné. On réalise alors que l'équipe de tournage avait bien fait en sorte de ne choisir que certains angles de vue car la baie est beaucoup moins "enfermée" en vrai qu'elle ne le paraît dans le film.

Maya bay, où "La Plage" fut tourné. On réalise alors que l'équipe de tournage avait bien fait en sorte de ne choisir que certains angles de vue car la baie est beaucoup moins "enfermée" en vrai qu'elle ne le paraît dans le film.


Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi Leh

Maya Bay, Ko Phi Phi Leh


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Ko Phi Phi

Ko Phi Phi


Coucher de soleil sur Ko Phi Phi

Coucher de soleil sur Ko Phi Phi


Les îles de Phan Nga Bay

Les îles de Phan Nga Bay


Phan Nga Bay

Phan Nga Bay


La fameuse îles de James Bond à Phan Nga Bay

La fameuse îles de James Bond à Phan Nga Bay


Coucher de soleil sur Phuket

Coucher de soleil sur Phuket


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Le Bouddha géant sur Phuket

Le Bouddha géant sur Phuket


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Coucher de soleil sur Ko Tao, golfe de Thaïlande

Coucher de soleil sur Ko Tao, golfe de Thaïlande

Posted by manolo84 03:59 Archived in Thailand Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches boats islands diving jungle french Comments (0)

Warming up in Bangkok

sunny 38 °C
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After Cambodia, I made my way directly to the Thai capital, Bangkok. In view of the recent political events in Thailand, I am telling myself that I was lucky to visit this country a month ago and not presently. Though I am being told that except for the curfew (10pm - 5am), almost nothing has an impact for the tourists in Thailand at the moment.

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When I was in Peru in Arequipa, 8 months ago, I had met with a Thai guy briefly who was thinking at the time to maybe open a café, restaurant or hostel somewhere in the world. We had kept in touch and I was pleased to learn that he had finally decided on opening an hostel in Bangkok. And the timing was more than perfect as he had only opened the day before I arrived and therefore I got the privilege of being his first guest! And I am not saying that because the owners are now my friend but the hostel and welcome were fantastic so I highly recommend the Three of a Kind hostel if you are looking for a place to stay in Bangkok, you won't be disappointed!

My main goal in visiting Thailand this time was to explore the South islands and do some scuba diving but I took the opportunity of staying in Bangkok to visit a little bit the main Buddhist temples and royal places, but also to relax as the previous weeks in Cambodia had been quite hectic. Beside the thermometer was reaching almost the 40 degrees so that makes you even more lazy...

My friend Angkrit, the owner of Three of a Kind, and myself exploring the flower marker in Bangkok

My friend Angkrit, the owner of Three of a Kind, and myself exploring the flower marker in Bangkok


Lots of traffic in Bangkok and drivers start here very early!

Lots of traffic in Bangkok and drivers start here very early!


The ex-mansion of the Thai kings

The ex-mansion of the Thai kings


The royal hall used for welcoming foreign officials and other ceremonies. Unfortunately it was not permitted to take pictures inside...

The royal hall used for welcoming foreign officials and other ceremonies. Unfortunately it was not permitted to take pictures inside...


Wat Arun

Wat Arun


China town

China town


The Emerald Buddha, from the Grand Palace. One of the symbols dear to Thailand

The Emerald Buddha, from the Grand Palace. One of the symbols dear to Thailand


Grand Palace

Grand Palace


The huge reclining Buddha in Wat Pho

The huge reclining Buddha in Wat Pho


Another prayer room in Wat Pho

Another prayer room in Wat Pho

Posted by manolo84 09:24 Archived in Thailand Tagged temples hostels towns palaces english Comments (0)

The Magnificent Angkor Temples


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This is probably one of the moments I was expecting the most in South-East Asia, the visit of the temples of Angkor, in Cambodia...

My first surprise was to realise that there was actually more than the famous Angkor Wat, as indeed in those times, every king of the Khmer empire (9th to 15th centuries) wanted to build (well not him personally I presume but his slaves) his own temple to "his" glory. So instead of building a big temple and increasing its size year after year, Cambodia is now left with about a thousand temples close to each other, some now not bigger than a pile of stones but others being able to contain up to a million of people back in those times, the most famous being indeed Angkor Wat as it is one of the only one which has never been abandoned to the nature (but which is also not the biggest of all temples, by far).

When deciding what and when to visit, the most interesting entry pass is the 3 days one for about 40$. And I can guaranty you, by the end of the third day, you will definitely have enough of seeing stones everywhere, no matter if those are nice stones belonging to nice temples, by the end of the third day, a stone is a stone! And the other inconvenient is when trying to take pictures, it is very very hard not to have another tourist on it. If one wants to take amazing pictures of Angkor, one must learn patience... :-)

And I could write a lot about the temples of Angkor but the best is probably to show you this selection of pictures I took, with a bit of explanation underneath. If you want to have more information about Angkor, I could refer you to the wikipedia article (in English) or this one (in French).

Map of the main Angkor temples

Map of the main Angkor temples


The first thing that each tourist does is to witness the sun rising behind Angkor Wat, which was first a Hindu, then subsequently a Buddhist, temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world

The first thing that each tourist does is to witness the sun rising behind Angkor Wat, which was first a Hindu, then subsequently a Buddhist, temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world


Unfortunately it can become quite crowded.... <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_sad.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':(' title='' />

Unfortunately it can become quite crowded.... :(


Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat


A little prayer to Buddha inside Angkor Wat

A little prayer to Buddha inside Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat is also decorated with thousands of "Devatas" which have now been nicely restored

Angkor Wat is also decorated with thousands of "Devatas" which have now been nicely restored


Angkor Wat surrounded by the dense forest

Angkor Wat surrounded by the dense forest


the pathway leading to Angkor Wat

the pathway leading to Angkor Wat


Angkor Wat with the sunset light

Angkor Wat with the sunset light


Monks visiting Angkor Wat

Monks visiting Angkor Wat


No idea who is this woman but the picture looks nice, inside the corridors of Angkor Wat

No idea who is this woman but the picture looks nice, inside the corridors of Angkor Wat


A lion and myself... <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

A lion and myself... :)


The Bayon is a well-known and richly decorated Khmer temple at Angkor in Cambodia. Built in the late 12th or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII, the Bayon stands at the centre of Jayavarman's capital, Angkor Thom.

The Bayon is a well-known and richly decorated Khmer temple at Angkor in Cambodia. Built in the late 12th or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII, the Bayon stands at the centre of Jayavarman's capital, Angkor Thom.


That temple has also been decorated with at least 216 faces of the former king himself...

That temple has also been decorated with at least 216 faces of the former king himself...


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East Mebon temple

East Mebon temple


The Ta Prohm temple, among the trees, like most of the other temples were found before being restored

The Ta Prohm temple, among the trees, like most of the other temples were found before being restored


Still Ta Prohm and you can actually see how the trees are so tightly integrated to the structures now

Still Ta Prohm and you can actually see how the trees are so tightly integrated to the structures now


Ta Prohm was also used in the movie Tomb Raider and unlike some scenes taken from other temples, the scenes of Ta Prohm were quite faithful to the temple's actual appearance

Ta Prohm was also used in the movie Tomb Raider and unlike some scenes taken from other temples, the scenes of Ta Prohm were quite faithful to the temple's actual appearance


large_Ta_Prohm__41_.jpgThe Ta Som temple

The Ta Som temple


The third eastern gopura, with strangler fig, still in Ta Som

The third eastern gopura, with strangler fig, still in Ta Som

Posted by manolo84 10:42 Archived in Cambodia Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises temples english Comments (0)

Greetings from the smiling Cambodia


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Following Laos and the 4000 islands, I decided to carry down south into Cambodia and its capital Phnom Penh. The bus journey was actually one of the worse I have experienced during my travelling year. First there is the matter of crossing the border and getting your visa. Whilst a Cambodian visa usually costs 20$, you also "must" pay 5$ for the guy who is going to bring your passport into the immigration office and 5$ for the police chief who is going to stamp it. Everyone seems to get a little bit in their pocket or so it seems. Unfortunately there is not much you can do about it if you don't want to take the risk of being left behind by the bus, in the middle of nowhere...

After this then it is a long 14 hours journey through bumpy and dusty roads, in a 40 degrees bus where the A/C doesn't work, not the most pleasant experience ever. But then the bus finally made it to Phnom Penh and I could get some well deserved sleep in a hostel near the tourist area.

The next days were spent visiting the noisy capital with the royal temple, the killing fields and the famous S21 prison where Pol Pot and his subordinates killed around 3 millions Cambodian people during the 70's (almost 1/4th of the total Cambodian population!). To be honest I knew very little about this dark period of Cambodia, the Red Khmer period, and the more I got to know, the more I was losing faith in humanity. Where were all our western countries during this period? Maybe then spreading the "democracy" wasn't that important in those troubled times or maybe was it because Cambodia doesn't have as many natural resources as other countries in the Middle East? But I am probably becoming now too cynical, I'm sure they had a very good reason not to intervene... And the worst thing is when Vietnam decided to invade Cambodia to put an end to this madness, Pol Pot and a good number of his friends migrated to Thailand, where they lived happily until the age of almost 90 years old... For sure this world is definitely not fair and I doubt will ever be.

But what stroke me the most is the ever lasting smile on all the Cambodian faces, these people have faced really dark times and yet they are probably the most vibrant and nicest people I have met during my trip. Always ready to help and joke, this definitely forces my respect...

So after a few days in the capital, I headed down south to the small Cambodia coast and the towns of Kep and Sihanoukville and its island, Koh Rong. Not much to say about those places other than it was nice to chill out on the beach or do a bit of sea kayaking after my time in the noisy capital. But one could get bored quickly about those places as there is not much else to do and I decided to go back up towards Thailand, making first a stop in Battambang, an old French colonial town, the second largest town of the country but also very quiet compared to the capital. But I didn't really get any time really to spend there so after some visits to some old temples nearby, I carried on to Siem Reap, in the west of Cambodia, also known for its close location to the Angkor temples... but this will be the object of another post, especially since I don't want to flood you with tons of pictures...

So here is a first selection of my Cambodian pictures, just for your pleasure... :-)

The Royal Palace

The Royal Palace


Memorial of the Killing Fields

Memorial of the Killing Fields


Sign in the Killing Fields

Sign in the Killing Fields


Bracelets in memory of the people who died in this grave

Bracelets in memory of the people who died in this grave


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Memorial monument gathering all skulls found in the killing fields, Phnom Penh

Memorial monument gathering all skulls found in the killing fields, Phnom Penh


A bed used for torturing prisonners in the S21 prison - Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

A bed used for torturing prisonners in the S21 prison - Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum


Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum - S21 Prison

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum - S21 Prison


Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum - S21 Prison

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum - S21 Prison


Relaxing in Koh Rong island

Relaxing in Koh Rong island


Stairs leading to an old temple, near Battambang

Stairs leading to an old temple, near Battambang


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Monkey near Battambang

Monkey near Battambang


Buddhist temple near Battambang

Buddhist temple near Battambang


Around 5pm each day, millions of bats fly out of their cave to feed

Around 5pm each day, millions of bats fly out of their cave to feed


A crazy sight of bats

A crazy sight of bats


Fisherman in Kampong Phluk aka the flooded forest

Fisherman in Kampong Phluk aka the flooded forest

Posted by manolo84 09:04 Archived in Cambodia Tagged towns english Comments (0)

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