瘋狂購物 Crazy chopping

Basically Pazu's sister came for shopping only, we didn't go to any temple or amusement park, not even to the floating market, but to Emporium, Robinson, Central and MBK. As the Thai said, "she come to chopping!" We had a very good Japanese meal in Shintaro Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel (near Chit Lom), good taste and great price, and it's original. A few week ago when Pazu was also in Bangkok, he wanted to get a change of taste so he went to a Japanese ramen shop for some noodles, he couldn't understand the menu so he just chose a spicy one, imagining it would be something like the "hell noodles" (jigoku ramen), it turned out to be a tom-yum soup... Pazu said, "oh it's so good to travel with sister so we can go to all expensive places without paying a nut!" Sister brought her friend Bobo here too. They're going back to Hong Kong on the new year day. (Thailand: Bangkok, 20041230-00070)


踏進大酒店 Big Hotel

Pazu's eldest sister said she missed his brother very much so she came to Bangkok from Hong Kong to visit us. Sister booked a room at the Holiday Inn Silom, oh a five-star hotel, seemed like another world for us. Pazu was reasonably excited by the idea of going to a fancy hotel with a hot bath, but stop, the staff at the entrance and reception weren't very welcoming to see a guy coming on a bicycle (plus trailer) and they kept looking at our sandals (Kong Junior has no shoes yet, he's too young...), mai bpen rai, we had a booking already, so what can you do man? We could even ride the bike inside the hotel. There was a minor but annoying mistake of the staff, Pazu's sister arrived in Bangkok at 11am, but the staff checked her in the other room, Pazu phoned the reception four times and they just told us sister had not come yet, so we were waiting for each other until 6pm. That's a upmarket hotel. Thumbs down. PS: Sister said on 19 Jan, "I would like to clarify here, you should not mislead your reader, I came to Bangkok coz you have begged me so many times before." Pazu wanted to clarify too, "Sister is blowing water!" Bobo said, "I agree with Pazu."(Thailand: Bangkok, 20041229-00069)


我們安全 We're safe

We are safe here in Bangkok, don't worry about us. The Tsunami was terrible, and it's such a shock that we still feel it's so unreal. We are in a tight budget but we have donated some money too, if you're in a richer and lucky part of the world, please help here. (Thailand: Bangkok, 20041227-00068)


老虎頭上 On tiger's head

We started from Nakhon Ratchasima today, kept riding all day, time is running short because Pazu's sister is coming to Bangkok on 29 Dec. At around 5pm we were attracted by this big and funny Buddha and Tiger sculpture, it's like another Tiger Balm Garden appearing from nowhere. The place is Pecharaj (碧差叻) Scout Camp, nobody was there so we just took a photo and left. Can you find out where I am? Click here to zoom in. We arrived at Saraburi (a big town 29km away from the Camp) after 1.5 hour at 7pm. We planned to stay here but it's only 100km away from Bangkok, so why don't we make one more run? With all the LEDs on, we kept going all the way to Bangkok till 7am next morning. This is indeed a crazy ride, 19 hours trip covering 256km from Nakhon Ratchasima to Bangkok. (Thailand: On the way back to Bangkok, 20041226-00067)


碧邁 Phimai

I know what you think, you think this is Angkor Wat in Cambodia? No, this is Phimai Historical Park near Nakhon Ratchasima (aka Korat, 2nd largest city in Thailand). The site was built by a Khmer King in the late 10th century and was restored by the Fine Arts Department. Well... the Dept used the word "restoration" but it was a total rebuilt. Everything looks so impressive but new, without a charm of antique, actually we have seen the same thing in Suanlum Night Bazaar in Bangkok already... it's still quite a pleasant place for a day trip and a favorite destination for school tours (we met three today). So why did a Khmer (Cambodian) King come to rule over this place? Cambodian and Thai actually have some common history and both countries shared some overlapping domains many years ago, while Cambodian people think Angkor Wat is theirs, some Thai have the same thought. In Jan 2003, a Thai TV star claimed that the Angkor Wat "was stolen from Thailand", it developed into a serious diplomatic upset. Angry crowds in Cambodia attacked the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, more than 500 Thai nationals were evacuated by military aircraft. Yes it sounds funny, but just funny for both. (Thailand: On the way back to Bangkok, 20041224-00066)


壞日子 Bad day

If there's always a bad day in a month then today is one though you can see Pazu still smiling in the afternoon. We forgot our flag pole (on the trailer) at the guesthouse after a 20-minute ride, so we went back to the guesthouse in Khon Kaen to get it back, a waste of an hour already. Then the rear inner tube punctured and punctured, we did mean twice. Pazu suspected there was a pin on the wheel but none was found even after extremely careful examination. The last spare tube was used, and amazingly, it was punctured again! At 8pm, Pazu didn't want to repair the tube at the road side, so we basically kept pumping and riding every 20 - 30 minutes, speed was about 8km/h only fearing the rim would be damaged if we rid too fast. Pazu pumped the tube again, tired, and forgot the pump on the floor, so we had to walk back slowly to find it. Do you notice all mistakes except the punctures were actually quite avoidable... Anyway, at about four o'clock in the morning, we finally arrived at Phimai and stayed at the Old Phimai Guesthouse. About the picture, there're usually something strange to sell at the road side, kites (why do you want to stop and buy a kite?), honey (it does make some sense though), and some non-recognizable snacks. (Thailand: On the way back to Bangkok, 20041223-00065)


又見恐龍 Dinosaur again

我們又回到坤敬市,如果你忘記了這個名字,那麼我們又要告訴你,這是泰國第四大城,市內還有個越南及老撾領事館,可想而知它是多麼重要。薯伯伯發感冒,於是我們多留一天。這天除了讓他休息,也沒有做甚麼,薯伯伯聲稱走路也沒力氣,整天活動範圍局限於旅館方圓一公里處。旅館外有兩隻獅子(及一條恐龍),當我們要拍照時,同時被一個路過又多事的farang拍了。 We came back to Khon Kaen again, if you haven't heard of it before, it's the fourth largest city in Thailand, there're even a Vietnamese and Lao Consulates to prove its importance. Pazu caught a minor cold so we're staying for one more day. Nothing is done except waiting for Pazu's recovery, our activity today is confined to the area 1km around our guesthouse because Pazu said he almost couldn't walk, and there're two lions (plus a dinosaur) outside our guesthouse. A farang saw us taking a shot, so he did it for us too as if it was funny. Yes indeed it's quite funny. (Thailand: On the way back to Bangkok, 20041222-00064)


泰老友誼橋 Thai-Lao Frndshp Brdg

Laos was really nice but our time is running short because Pazu's dear sister is coming from Hong Kong to Bangkok four days after Xmas, so good-bye Laos, we'll be back. Here's the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge opened in 1994, the flag is of Laos, if you care to know. (Thailand: On the way back to Bangkok, 20041220-00063)


高僧 High monks

So where are we now? We crossed the border from Nong Khai to Lao PDR (People's Democratic Republic). Do you think it sounds very exotic by telling others, "We've been cycling from Thailand to Laos!" But Vientiane is 30km away from Nong Khai only, so today is a short ride trip. We visited "That Luang", the symbol of Laos, a very beautiful single-colored golden stupa. While we were there a group of monks came, okay there're lots of monks around Thailand and Laos all the time, but what made them impressive was the number of bodyguards around, all Lao people just knelt down immediately when they saw them. One of the guards explained to us that the old monk was Sakalai, the most important monk in Cambodia! "Wow, you're very lucky to see him!" The guard kept telling us, although we know nothing about this very important monk, we still felt really lucky. The very high monk agreed to take a pic with Pazu (and definitely Pazu dared not to take Kong Junior out for fun at that moment...). The guard volunteered to be the photographer, Pazu was standing next to the monk and waiting to be fotoed, nobody moved... "oh what happened?" Pazu thought, then the old monk made a gesture to suggest Pazu to kneel down. This is the custom we have to learn, if you have a chance to take a photo with a high monk, kneel down behind him while he's standing next to you. (Laos: On the way to Laos, 20041218-00062)


廊開埠 Nong Khai

踏車來到了泰老邊界的廊開埠,住在全泰最出色的便宜旅館,基本上看起來就是個「渡假村」,只差個游泳池。照片中是據稱在廊開很有名的混形土佛像公園。 Arrived in Nong Khai, the Thai-Lao border town and stayed at the Mutmee Guesthouse, this is perhaps the best budget guesthouse in Thailand, with a very beautiful garden and dining area (though the food here is somewhere in the medium to top-end range), the hotel is co-owned by a British guy. Nong Khai seems to have receive more casual foreign investments than any other places, just a few steps away there're Danish Bakery, Scandivanian Cafe and other restaurants with funny names. Five kilometers east of here is a big (and famous, as they claimed) Sculpture Park, with many truly-grand-sized Buddha sculptures made of cheap concrete material. It's worth to have a look though, the entrance fee is only 10 baht (US$0.25). And me, Kong Junior the Little Bear is sitting on the entrance of the "Wheel of Life", and this canal is a amplication of vagina. The whole garden was built single-handed by a mystic from Laos, we have a chance to see his 74-year-old follower, this old man showed us everything about the Mystic, his vomited blood, his photos, and even his corpse. The old man said, "no formalin, he died 8 years and 10 months, black hair!" Mao Zedong and Ho Chi Minh have one more friend now. (Thailand: On the way to Laos, 20041216-00061)


恐龍公園 Dinosaur Park

到了坤敬,泰國第四大市,附近有個地方曾發現恐龍化石,市內極多趣緻恐龍佈置。 So after a few days ride on a bicycle, we arrived at Khon Kaen, the 4th largest city of Thailand at last, it's about 160km away from the Laos border. Khon Kaen is quiet enough for us to stay for 3 days, take a rest and do some recharging, nearby the city is a place where two schoolgirls found some dinosaur footprints a few years ago, there was a Dinosaur Park too, we didn't go but perhaps it helps to explain why there are so many funny dinosaurs decoration around town. (Thailand: On the way to Laos, 20041213-00060)


單車小車 Trailer

住在寺裡雖然有趣,但有時候也挺悶,腳癢癢便離開寺廟,踏車去老撾邊境。這是我們的自行車,車前坐的是薯伯伯,車後坐的是小剛剛,那輛車叫BOB Yak trailer,看起來怪怪,但其實用起來挺方便。 Staying at the temple is fun but can be boring sometimes, so we've started our bike trip from Ban Pho to Nong Khai which is a border town next to Laos. Pazu's Thai "no-visa stay" will be expired again on 17 Dec, so nothing we can do but to rush to the border (exit Thailand and come back), strange immigration rule, but Thailand is lovely enough so it may worth the effort. Travelling on a bike is easier than we thought, lugguage was fully packed on a BOB Yak Trailer which is attached at the back of my bike, it's a funny thing to have. Behind us was the Taplan National Park. (Thailand: On the way to Laos, 20041206-00059)