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


View Around The World on manolo84's travel map.

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)

Adventures in Kiwiland


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I feel like a post is now long overdue but I have been quite busy these last weeks or too tired to take the time to upload pictures and write something. So rather than a long post, here is a selection of about 40 pictures taken during my 7 weeks in New Zealand, on both the North and South islands. I have also tried to update the map to show you where these pictures were taken. Finally, I will post a bit more in the next few days to cover some of the big hikes/treks I did and which I think all require separate posts to avoid surcharging the blog with pictures.

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  • North Island

First stop after Auckland was in Hahei and I took the opportunity to explore the sea while kayaking

First stop after Auckland was in Hahei and I took the opportunity to explore the sea while kayaking


Still Hahei, which apparently as an air of Thailand...

Still Hahei, which apparently as an air of Thailand...


Cathedral Cove beach, one of the main spots in Hahei. The rock forms an arch and link the two beaches on each side.

Cathedral Cove beach, one of the main spots in Hahei. The rock forms an arch and link the two beaches on each side.


Next to Hahei was "Hot Water Beach", a beach where streams of really hot water comes from under (almost 80 degrees). So people gather when the tide goes up and try to get a hole in the sand while mixing this hot water with the sea water, to have a nice bath... <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Next to Hahei was "Hot Water Beach", a beach where streams of really hot water comes from under (almost 80 degrees). So people gather when the tide goes up and try to get a hole in the sand while mixing this hot water with the sea water, to have a nice bath... :)


Next stop was Raglan, the most popular surf spot in New Zealand

Next stop was Raglan, the most popular surf spot in New Zealand


And they even named the beach after me! :D

And they even named the beach after me! :D


Learning to do the Haka with some Maoris... I'm definitely missing a few tatoos... <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_wink.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=';)' title='' />

Learning to do the Haka with some Maoris... I'm definitely missing a few tatoos... ;)


Nice water reflections near Rotorua

Nice water reflections near Rotorua


Fishing eels at night in a lake, here is my only catch of the night, but what a catch!

Fishing eels at night in a lake, here is my only catch of the night, but what a catch!


Bridge near Whakahoro

Bridge near Whakahoro


Waterfall, Whakahoro

Waterfall, Whakahoro


Same waterfall, Whakahoro

Same waterfall, Whakahoro


A few days later, here we are in the Tongariro National Park. Here is a view of Ruapehu.

A few days later, here we are in the Tongariro National Park. Here is a view of Ruapehu.


Next to it is mount Ngauruhoe which was used to represent Mount  Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies.

Next to it is mount Ngauruhoe which was used to represent Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies.


And still about the Lord of the Rings trilogy, here is the Tahui falls, used in a scene with Gollum (the second movie of the trilogy)

And still about the Lord of the Rings trilogy, here is the Tahui falls, used in a scene with Gollum (the second movie of the trilogy)


Tahui falls again, different angle.

Tahui falls again, different angle.

  • South Island

Beginning of January, it was time to take the ferry and to cross to the South Island, reputed for its amazing landscapes and home to a lot extreme sports.

First stop was the Abel Tasman National Park, where you can hike or even rent a kayak and explore the surroundings that way.

First stop was the Abel Tasman National Park, where you can hike or even rent a kayak and explore the surroundings that way.


Abel Tasman

Abel Tasman


Seals relaxing on the rocks in Abel Tasman

Seals relaxing on the rocks in Abel Tasman


I call this bird the "day kiwi" for its resemblance with the kiwi which has a longer beak.

I call this bird the "day kiwi" for its resemblance with the kiwi which has a longer beak.


More seals around Punakaiki

More seals around Punakaiki


Here in Punakaiki there is an interesting rock formation called Pancake rocks, because of the shape of the rocks which look like a stack of pancakes one of top of each other

Here in Punakaiki there is an interesting rock formation called Pancake rocks, because of the shape of the rocks which look like a stack of pancakes one of top of each other


Pancake rocks

Pancake rocks


Beach near Punakaiki

Beach near Punakaiki


Punakaiki

Punakaiki


Sunset on Punakaiki

Sunset on Punakaiki


Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier


Waterfalls near Franz Josef Glacier

Waterfalls near Franz Josef Glacier


Thunder Creek Falls

Thunder Creek Falls


And also on our way that day, we made a short stop to Lake Matheson. Splendid...

And also on our way that day, we made a short stop to Lake Matheson. Splendid...


Lake Matheson

Lake Matheson


In Wanaka, I decided to sign up for a course about piloting a stunt plane and doing loops and other stunts... I'm glad my stomach held up until the end!

In Wanaka, I decided to sign up for a course about piloting a stunt plane and doing loops and other stunts... I'm glad my stomach held up until the end!


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Wanaka's team <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Wanaka's team :)


A day later, we arrived in Queenstown, little town set in a amazing location, between mountains and lake.

A day later, we arrived in Queenstown, little town set in a amazing location, between mountains and lake.


Our group in Queenstown

Our group in Queenstown


View from a hike I did near Te Anau, in the Fjordlands

View from a hike I did near Te Anau, in the Fjordlands

Posted by manolo84 21:32 Archived in New Zealand Tagged waterfalls sunsets_and_sunrises lakes beaches birds nature kayaking english Comments (2)

Trip to Cape Reinga


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The first part of my journey in New Zealand, after having taken a deserved rest in Auckland for a few days, was to go North to the most northern point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga, where the Tasman sea meets the Pacific ocean. We decided then with a few friends to rent a car for 3 days and also take the opportunity to visit a few places on the way.

The landscape was indeed really scenic, as we expected, and the first interesting stop was to explore some dark caves and admire the famous glow-worms of New Zealand.

"In New Zealand and Australia, glow-worms are the larvae (maggots) of a special kind of fly known as a fungus gnat. Fungus gnats look rather like mosquitoes, and most feed on mushrooms and other fungi. However, a small group of fungus gnats are carnivores, and the worm-like larvae of these species use their glowing lights to attract small flying insects into a snare of sticky threads."

When switching off all our lights, the cave suddenly turns into an amazing sky filled with millions of stars. Truly spectacular.

Daniela and Ben enjoying climbing in the cave

Daniela and Ben enjoying climbing in the cave


Glowworms in the dark...

Glowworms in the dark...


This time with the reflection of the water running in the cave

This time with the reflection of the water running in the cave

We then carried on to the Bay of Islands, one of the very touristic places in New Zealand and spent the night in Pahia, while admiring the nice bay. The next day, still carrying north and after having picked up other people, we stopped several times along the way to enjoy waterfalls, beaches, sand dunes and to finally reach Cape Reinga and its famous lighthouse at the end of the day (see pictures below).

The way back the next day was less spectacular as we had a lot of road to cover but I could definitely had a first taste of what New Zealand is during those 3 days. And not a bad one!... :)

Reflections on Mataury Bay beach

Reflections on Mataury Bay beach


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The New Zealand fern

The New Zealand fern


Sandboarding on the Te Paki sand dunes, really fun!

Sandboarding on the Te Paki sand dunes, really fun!


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My companions for this short adventure

My companions for this short adventure


Finally, the lighthouse of Cape Reinga!

Finally, the lighthouse of Cape Reinga!


Bay next to Cape Reinga

Bay next to Cape Reinga


Another sunset... <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Another sunset... :)


London... quite far away!

London... quite far away!


The trip wouldn't have been complete without a jump picture! <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_wink.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=';)' title='' />

The trip wouldn't have been complete without a jump picture! ;)


One of the biggest Kauri trees, the native tree in New Zealand

One of the biggest Kauri trees, the native tree in New Zealand


Kiwis ahead...

Kiwis ahead...

Posted by manolo84 15:03 Archived in New Zealand Tagged beaches trees caves english dunes Comments (0)

Short stop in Colombia


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Colombia is definitely a nice country, one where you could get stuck in a few months or even years. There is just too much to see, from the burning Caribbean coast, to the cold mountainous Andes where Bogota is, via the Coffee region or again the huge Amazonian basin. And that is just a quick overview really. So you can understand my frustration when I realised how big South America was and that I wouldn't be able to see everything in Colombia given the amount of time I had, roughly 3 weeks....

  • Cartagena

From the moment we set foot on land, after having sailed from several days from Panama, we got welcomed by the buzzing life and burning sun of Cartagena. Trying to walk around the old city in the afternoon was virtually impossible, you would end up sweating buckets just after a few minutes... So I didn't do a lot of things there, but mainly exploring the city sights which included the old spanish forts, a covent overlooking the whole city, a bath in the mud-volcano nearby (more a tourist trap really), enjoying the night life with my sailing companions and a few days recovering from a bad cold I had caught from the air-conditioning of the hostel I was staying at.

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  • Santa Marta

Same coast, and same story concerning the weather: suffocating... Santa Marta has not much to offer itself but its location makes it a really good starting point for the nice beaches around, for the Lost City trek (which I didn't do) or for the Tayrona national park nearby.

Aidan impassive when a thunderstorm suddenly appeared

Aidan impassive when a thunderstorm suddenly appeared

  • Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park is located on the east side of Santa Marta, and is a wonderland to watch wildlife (mainly birds), enjoy some of the best beaches of the country, even though swimming in some of them is not allowed, due to the very rough seas and under currents. There is no road access there, at least not direct so the way to access these beaches and the few managed camps is to trek for a few hours and rent a hammock or tent (or bring your own) and then relax for a few days with the sound of the waves in the background... When we were there, beginning of the low-season, it was not too much packed. However I can imagine the same camp with hundreds of tents around and I think the place will lose a bit of its charm. Anyway, this was the perfect place to relax after our boat journey, but 2 or 3 days were sufficient as it is easy to get bored after a while...

Just before leaving though, we decided to go for a little "walk" inside the park to an old Indian village. A path made of loose rocks takes you to their ancient ruins. It was designed thus by the Tayrona Indians of old, as a warning sign of outsiders approaching their habitat. The trek to the ruins takes a couple of hours and is pretty arduous as you have to crawl your way through hand-carved tunnels and negotiate huge boulders, the whole thing whilst the sun burns every inch of your skin...

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Monkeys into the wild...

Monkeys into the wild...


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  • Bogotá

I could not have ended this Colombian tour without paying a visit to the capital and therefore after 2 weeks spent along the Caribbean coast, I decided to reach the high and cold Bogotá and take the opportunity to meet again with my friend Lars with whom I had done the El Mirador trek, back in Guatemala a few months ago. As every capital city, Bogotá is big, noisy, some areas are a bit dangerous but it doesn't stop this lively city to offer to the tourists many things, whether you want to visit the museums, the different parks, do some sightseeing, enjoy the night life or explore the neighbouring villages like Zipaquira and its salt cathedral, Guatavita and its quiet atmosphere near the lake...

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The Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira

The Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira


Find the mistake... <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_smile.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':)' title='' />

Find the mistake... :)


Lars and Johanna in Guatavita

Lars and Johanna in Guatavita


The Lourdes church in Bogotá

The Lourdes church in Bogotá

Posted by manolo84 16:03 Archived in Colombia Tagged beaches cathedrals cities nature forts english treks Comments (0)

Meet the turtles

in Tulum


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After Merida, now was the time to head off to the beach but this time to the east coast of Mexico, in the Carribean gulf. After having heard bad reviews about Cancun and Playa del Carmen which are really touristy (mostly people from the States eager to party night and day), I then decided to go to Tulum, a more quiet and cheaper option (and not that touristy compared to the two others town I have just mentioned).

Tulum is little town that have been growing since the last decade and attracts more visitors, especially backpackers avoiding Cancun and who still want to be immersed in the Mexican culture. The other thing that Tulum is famous for is its Mayan ruins, a kind of fort which had been built centuries ago, right on the beach front. So for me all these elements made the choice of Tulum a no-brainer and I took the bus (hanging firmly my camera against me) to arrive a few hours later in Tulum, in one of the several hostel the town hosts.

And then that's when you realise that the world is small and that all the people follow more or less the same route and same hostel recommendations, because when I checked in I could recognise some french people I had met a week before in Merida.

Overall, I stayed in Tulum for about a week, relaxing on the beach, snorkelling with the turtles, visiting mayan ruins and enjoying the night life.
Indeed there are so many activities that it is hard to be bored in Tulum, the only limiting factor being your wallet as some diving tours can be quite expensive, even if they look amazing (like diving in caves or cenotes for example).

Here are a few pictures of Tulum, its beaches and its ruins:

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That one is not my picture (unfortunately) but this was really how I saw it

During that time, I also took the opportunity to visit the nearby ruins of Coba:

Coba is estimated to have had some 50,000 inhabitants (and possibly significantly more) at its peak of civilization, and the built up area extends over some 80 km². The site was occupied by a sizable agricultural population by the 1st century. The bulk of Coba's major construction seems to have been made in the middle and late Classic period, about 500 to 900, with most of the dated hieroglyphic inscriptions from the 7th century. However Coba remained an important site in the Post-Classic era and new temples were built and old ones kept in repair until at least the 14th century, possibly as late as the arrival of the Spanish.
source: wikipedia

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The problem when you don't arrive early at the ruins: a lot of tourists are also there...
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On top of the biggest pyramid

Posted by manolo84 19:08 Archived in Mexico Tagged beaches snorkelling ruins mayas Comments (0)

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