Saturday, 25 February 2012

For a small island, Railey has a lot to offer, and over the past 9 days we've done our best to do more than laze by the pool and stroll from restaurant to restaurant. Being a top tourist destination, Railey reminded us sometimes of Dubrovnik or Santorini: great views and climate but often poor service and unfriendly staff. Nevertheless, we made the most of our tropical destination and kayaked, snorkelled, had a thai massage and went for a thai cooking class where we learnt how to make spring rolls, chicken and coconut soup, penang curry, pad thai (fried noodles with prawns) and sweet pumpkin and coconut milk dessert.

Wim also went rock climbing and enjoyed the physical challenge as well as the view of Railey from high on the cliffs. It's been great, but we are both a bit saturated and so moving on to Khao Lak the day after tomorrow!

Its spider man!

Whisper your wish into the night air with a balloon..

Thai cooking class

Phad Thai

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Compared to India, Bangkok is a clean, well oiled machine. We arrived in Bangkok and within 2.5 hrs we had checked through customs, stored our baggage, taken 2 sky trains to the centre of the city to the academic hospital, opened files, seen the doctor and the nurse, paid, got vaccinated for japanese encephalitis and returned to the airport just in time to catch our flight to Krabi. (I don't think this would have happened in Cape Town as patriotic as I the nurses were all these tiny Thai girls with these cute white uniforms and little nurses hats...friendly and helpful)

So after a plane, a bus and a boat we are now on Railay Beach. Idyllic, lush beach set among huge mangrove trees and shearing cliffs. Good weather, awesome food (noodles, coconuts, fresh fruit like mangoes, pineapple and papaya, seafood, stirfy with seaweed, fried banana with pancakes and lots more!!)

We have been taking it easy, but the next 2 weeks will be spent here lazing by the pool or on the beach, enjoying water activities, etc

Until next time!
S and W

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Waaw! We had an amazing 5 days in the Singalila National Park. In a nutshell: We climbed from 2100 meter to 3600 meter and back to 1600 meter in 4 days and covered 55km of paths in the mountains. Highlights were the amazing views of some of the highest mountains in the world, including Mount Everest and Kanchenjunga (both more than 8500 meter high), meeting interesting/funny people in the lodges we stayed and all the yummy noodle and rice dishes for lunch and supper.

 On the flipside, we were freezing cold at least a few hours a day and the Indian toilets and showers, i.e. holes in the ground and buckets of water, were challenging to say the least. Most special about this trek which made it different from previous hikes in Europe was that we were so close to the local people and nature. At night we would sit in the kitchen of the lodge next to the wood fire where the food is being cooked around a little pot of burning coals to get warm while still wearing 3 tops and a winter jacket, wondering how the locals can endure this. Some locals were just wearing slippers without socks.

Yay! We made it to Sandakpu. Little morning walk at 6am before breakfast to see Everest in all its glory.

Lots of children and young people in the villages on the way.

Very happy, exhausted and trying not to be cold. Temp 4 degrees inside.

Sunrise in Sandakpu. Spectacular but oh so cold at 5.30am.

Market in Rimbick, the last village of the trek.

During the day we saw so many cats, dogs, cows and baby goats in the villages we passed through. In one lodge, the baby goats were sleeping in a cardboard box inside, and in the morning both the village cow and the mother goat came inside the kitchen looking for the little goats. We are now officially ready for Macchu Picchu, but even more ready to leave the cold and soak up the sun in Thailand.

Photo left: Wangchuck and Doinka, the friendly couple with whom we had a great homestay while in Darjeeling. Wangchuck was also the organisator of the trek.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Day 4-6 of 112: Mirik, West Bengal province, India

After taking 2 flights and a 42 km trek along a winding mountain road (during which I said more prayers than I care to remember) we arrived in Mirik. Well Mirik must have once been a beautiful village along a lake, but now its a bit of a shit hole, more like a shanty town. Nice people, good food, lovely tea and very cheap, but freezing cold and we were more than happy to leave the next day after a quick visit to the local monastery (during which the monks refused to acknowledge us and I noted the one was wearing pink crocs!)

We left Mirik in a private taxi, only to crash into another taxi 20 km further along the mountain. (picture a steep, narrow road 2000m high, with mist and rain, a long line of traffic blocked by us and 2 drivers and half the Nepalese village arguing with each other (we crashed very close to the Nepal border post). So after 2 hours of this (and a pee in the tea plantation cos there were no toilets at the border post), we returned to Mirik, had to explain to half the village that it was not our driver's fault, and then caught another taxi to Darjeeling.

So here we are....a bigger version of Mirik, with views of the Himalayas which we are still waiting to see because of the mist...but tomorrow we go trekking in the Sandakpu mountains (we are near Nepal and thus somewhere close to Everest) for 5 days....more cold, hours of walking, but worth it to see Wim happy...wish us to follow)

S and W

Monday, 6 February 2012


Day 1-3 of 112: Mumbai, India
The gateway to India indeed!

Entering this city felt like we had stepped into a book or a tintin movie: tuk-tuks rushing everywhere, thousands of people everywhere, at any given moment of any given day. Women in multi-coloured sari's, the smell of spices all around, its like one constant , vibrant bazaar!
And of course the food! We have died and found ourselves in heaven! curries and dahl, papodoums, roti's, naan, lassi's, barfi of different flavours and colours, hhmmmm...(wim has already had gastro....)

We have visited Gateway of India and the (in)famous Taj hotel, taken hair-raising tuk-tuk drives, strolled along Juhu beach sipping coconuts at night and tonight I have had my hand and palm painted with mendi (henna).

We have had an awesome time in Mumbai, and tomorrow we move to the north...Darjeeling here we come!