Self-driving in Thailand 5 – following the Mekong to the east

We followed the route 212 to the east to visit the Navel of the Mekong river in Ban Ahong and then to Wat Phu Tok.

From Nong Khian route 212 is a wide and well kept road that goes smooth until Pak Khat. Then it turns into a narrow road but no difficult at all.

From Ban Ahong to Wat Phu Tok we took the route 222 to go and the 2013 to drive back and we found no trouble.

The visit was very rewarding, specially the impressive Phu Tok and its whole system of wooden bridges, stairs and walkways to the top.

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Self-driving in Thailand 4 – it was not just rain but Sonca tropical storm

This morning we found out that the super heavy rain that hit us last night was in fact a tropical storm as the Typhoon Noru came ashore.
It s said that this tropical storm called Sonca will last for a couple of days at least.
In the meanwhile, some provinces are severely flooded and the country had to open the dams due to the excess of water.
Main roads keep safe to drive, though we found some 25-35 cm water on some parts of Khon Kaen.
Even so, it s better than we expected. Only last night it rained 100 mm and it haven't stopped yet (being 11:30 am)

We drove the 175 km from Khon Kaen to Nong Khai visiting Udon Thani on the way.
It was fast and easy.

Sunset on the Mekong river was both dramatic and splendid.

  • If you are doubting about packing or not that umbrella, please don't hesitate. Just do it. 🙂

Self-driving in Thailand 3 – Nan Rong to Khon Kaen

Today was a combination of big roads and small roads.
Most of them in very good condition.
Though every big tank station has a coffee shop today it was hard to find a decent one.

We visited the Khmer temples of Phnom Rung and Hin Pimai on our way to Khon Kaen. Both are worth to visit. Even if you have been in Angkor before, these ones in Thailand are very beautiful and well restored.

It was hot and raining all day long.
At sunset the clouds in the sky were spectacular. Weather was very stormy and it poured harder and harder as it became dark.

We finally arrived at the hotel and found a fantastic place to have dinner with live music. It’s called Jimphony!

  • By observation we came to the conclusion that for the locals of this area there is no difference between a continuous line or a dotted line at least in what roads are concerned.
  • Verge is consider something in between bike paths, car lanes and parking lots no matter how narrow they are
  • Animals on the roads. Dogs can be suicidal. Chickens too. And mopeds.
  • Personal safety is highly overlooked by thais

Jimphony:

Self-driving in Thailand 2 – Ayutthaya to Nang Rong

We found a way to attach the smart phone to the dashboard combining some plastic lock straps and the bike support.
Most of the roads we took were 4 lanes and in good condition.
Before we left Ayutthaya we bought bottled water enough for a couple of days and some snacks, mostly cereal bars.

On our way to Nang Rong we took some time to visit Yao Khai national park and some of the waterfalls.

  • We figured out that according to the area you are driving, speed limit signs may be only a suggestion of the minimum speed you must drive.
  • 7-Eleven can be life-savers.
  • Big tank stations have decent coffee shops and clean toilets

Self-driving in Thailand 1 – BKK to Ayutthaya

The story on the first day is about the car rental.
Though we booked the car with a GPS to assist us during our driving, the lady at the counter discouraged us from using their navigation system.
-They are not updated – she said- and you certainly will get lost. Everyone in Thailand use their smart phones for that.
Tired as we were after the long flight and having 2 iPads and 2 iPhones and a mifi device with a Thai data SIM card, we decided to follow her advice.

Wrong.

When we started to drive then we realized that we had no way to fix the SMART phone to the dashboard.
Then one of us have to hold it all the way to Ayutthaya. Luckily it was not that far.

About this first short trip:

  • In Thailand people drive on the left side of the road.
  • The 4-lanes roads around Bangkok are well congested.
  • For this 60 km ride we paid 3 tolls, 30 bath each.
  • The traffic is more or less normal and it’s much easier driving here than driving in Naples or India.

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Photo: Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Ayutthaya, Thailand. Author G2nfreeb. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution

a flying visit to Valencia

Valencia is always a pleasant surprise.
One quick trip and just one spare morning. It's time enough to get lost in the streets of the historic district at sunrise.
And that's a magic experience.

You can still enjoy Valencia as it was in the old times, avoiding the eager crowds of tourists, the traffic, the heat.

Get up early and go for a stroll in the ancient streets of El Carmen. Light is magnificent and also the quietness.

Visit the Central Market while the stall holders are still busy filling up the counters with the fresh products and the early sunbeams start showing through the high windows.

If you are hungry, buy your breakfast at one of the many bakeries (hornos) and have it in a terrace as the city awakens.

And enjoy.

Mekong, upstream: About vaccinations

Since our plan was visiting the Mekong area during the monsoon season we checked the vaccinations needed with the local travel clinics in Belgium. According to our experience, you'd better do this some months before your trip. We couldn't find any travel clinic that was not fully booked for the coming 6 weeks. Not even the Tropical disease center in Antwerpen.

In the end someone recommended us to try the travel clinic of the CHU Saint-Pierre in Brussels where we can go early in the morning and get one number and wait for the specialist.
And so we did it.

We went to the same CHU Saint-Pierre on different days and though we were traveling together to the same area on the same dates for the same length (30 days) doctors gave us different recommendations. Very different.

  • My doctor recommended me to take the pills for malaria. My partner was discouraged to do so.
  • My doctor recommended me to take the vaccination against Japanese encephalitis. My partner was told that it was too expensive and the risk was not so high. In fact he had to insist to get vaccinated.
  • I had to come back for the second dose and they explained me that that specific vaccine will not last out of the fridge. My partner had a second dose to take home.
  • I was vaccinated against rabies, my partner was not. In fact his doctor said that the center had run out of it (though I have my final dose the following day).

It's at least curious that two health professionals have such different opinion on the same subject.

For us, when you are traveling to areas under alert it's always better to take one vaccination more than one less. It's called prevention, isn't it?

“Surely, of all the wonders of the world, the horizon is the greatest.”