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Every dive comes to an end, so we had to get our stuff back into the rucksack and head on.

01. August, 14.00 - our pickup service carries us to the pier at Mae Had, the ferry departure jetty for Chumphon

01. August 15:00 - with some delay the Catamaran leaves the divers island, with course back to mainland.

01. August 17:10 - arrived at the Chumphon pier, bus shuttle takes us the 30min ride to the city center, where we enjoy some (last) Thai Curry

01. August 20:21 - our train with destination Bangkok arrives in time.. just off the railway station, big treck of backpackers is running along the platform to get into the train at the very end. A somewhat undefined bad feeling grows.. Troubles with the brakes?

01. August 20:32 - the train rolls on. In time. But veeery slow. We manage to lock our luggages and climb the upper berths, our "home" for the upcoming hours. No windows there, nevertheless, it doesn't really feel like we're on the move already.

01. August 22:23 - preparing for the night; with toothbrush between the teeth I manage to get a look out of an opened window; wow, our train indeed made about 300 m off the railway station and is now on a standstill. But no worries from the conductors, everything runs "business as usual". As we anyway can't change situations, we settle for the night's rest.

02. August 06:30 - train passes through Bangkoks suburbs. Busy morning life goes on just 30cms off our windows. Rails are used as market place, coffee shop, walkway and place to be for getting latest news. A monk is standing in the middle of some 20 train rails, surrounded by 5 policemen. 4 of them standing in a respectful distance, one kneels right in front of the monk.. And prays. A strange but hearty scenery...

02. August 07:50 - with some 2,5hrs delay we arrive at Bangkoks Hualompong Railway Station. Our connecting train to Arayapratheh left 05:55, so plan B is required. But first: lets have a coffee and some croissants (or the thai version: sweet baked roll with beans *mjam*)

02. August 08:30 - 10 min ride with the Metro for Skytrain 08:50 - 30 min ride with the Skytrain, should bring us right to the Northwestern Bus Terminal

02. August 09:20 - arrived at MoChit, somewhere here the bus terminal should be.. Orientation please!

02. August 10:07 - arrived at the bus terminal. After a 45min walk (detoured by about 1km by a helpful policemen, who - unfortunately - seemed to know just the driving direction by car and not the more appreciated footpath for 20-kg-loaded backpackers ;-) but so, we've seen (and passed) the Central Market, we've seen (and of pased twice) the BusTerminalMarket.. Not that easy to find your way, when you're walking through narrow gangways of foodstalls, mobile shops and clothes stores, watch your head for tons of plastic handbags and child's stuff, watch your steps for smaller Thais.. ;-)

02. August 10:21 - incredible! We found the Bus! Tickets for the 10:30 bus in hands, we're just in time at the platform

02. August 10:35 - on the way to Arayaprathet, an upcoming 5 hrs bus trip. Fortunately it's an AIrcon Bus, that helps somewhat to bear the 3rd class discomusic, combined with horrible videoshow during the upcoming hours.. 2 passport controls during the last 60km drive helps you to ensure your documents are still with you...

02. August 15:30 - arrived at the boarder market of Aranyapratheh. Bustling life! Busy "visa vendors", tuktuk drivers and hell of people allover. Hooked up with 2 american girls and an English backpacker to make our procession for the 2km to official boarder by feet.. And fighting against the tuktuk driver and (potential) scams we've so much read about.

02. August 15:50 - first some hundred meters already done, clothes already sweat through, temperature is about 34 Celsius, when a loud horn Signal forces us to stop. I turn around and am confronted with the cooler grille of a bus. Right 40cm behind me. It's our bus driver wo's stopped and offers us an "out of schedule" drive to the boarder! Yess, that's Thailand, that's the increadible pleasureness of Thai People!

02. August 16:40 - passed the boarder! Welcome to Cambodia! Welcome in the middle of Nowhere! 5 newbies, that made their way through all the scams, and (I must say) not that bad! We've already earlier the day decided to share a taxi to SiemReap, so we hooked onto the "free shuttle service" to the "tourist info centre". Yepp, not the best choice, as this indeed has the smell of a "we'll get ripped off", but due to late hour and no other opportunity in sight, we accepted. With hope to find an official taxi or bus terminal.

02. August 17:00 - arrived at the "Tourist Info Centre"; " oh, the last bus for the day left 5 mins ago.." well, thanks, guys.. So we're 5 for the Taxi... (we've decided not to split and have the English guy beeing confronted with an unfamous night at the centre); but in the end some further 2 stranded tourists found their way to that Info Centre, had the same eyeopening moment, so 2 taxi groups were found this way.

02. August 17:10 - 12 crispy blank dollars per person enables now the 157km ride to SiemReap. The street is quite good, and after a 2 hrs drive, passing bright green rice fields and very small rural villages, we arreach SiemReap. Saying goodby to the Americans we change our vehicle and get onboard a "remork"(kind of a motorbike with trailer) for the last 10min drive to our hotel. Fortunately we can convince the driver to "not make an appointment with us for tomorrows sightseeing tour", we're really finished with travel now ;-)

02. August 19:45 - checkin at the Center Boutique Angkor Hotel, a really nice gem of accomodation, surrounded by tropical garden, amazing friendly and clean rooms and...: a HOT shower! Wow! Only issue we have now is to decide, whether we have Dinner and a beer now OR take a bath in the pleasant and soo welcoming pool. We quickly decided for the first opp ;-)

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We can give you a couple of excuses why we were lazy the last days in keeping you updated, e.g. that internet connection here on Koh Tao is kind of random and such.

Yet to be honest, the most important reason is another one - we're diving all day :) Or better, starting from night (meeting 6:30 in the morning - ouch!) into the day. We already did 9 dives, 2 more are supposed to come. And guess what, diving gets better each day.

We were quit lucky to find the right dive shop - Big Blue Diving at Hat Sairee - and we were able to accomplish the so desired day trip to Sail Rock, a famous dive site between Koh Pangan and Koh Tao. Not only this is a great dive, it's also the place where we did our very first dives a couple of years ago, when doing our Discover Scuba (yes - before our actual certification) with Caloklum Divers. A few hundred dives later, we were thinking of this site still very often. So it was great for us to get back again :)

There are much more things to say on our stay and the dives in Koh Tao, and we are preparing both blog posts, pictures and hopefully even a feature article on Big Blue Divers, since they are really doing great and have deserved it. So stay tuned, as soon as time and connection permits, there will be more to come.

That said, cheers guys - now having our first beers for today, but probably not the last ;)

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Das Traveler-Leben hatte es ja zuletzt nicht ganz so gut mit uns gemeint - erst hatte ich mit Erkältung und Kali's Rache zu kämpfen, dann hatte zu allem Überfluss Natty dasselbe, nur noch ein bisschen nachhaltiger. Außer dem Portier kennt wohl niemand unser aktuelles Hotel besser als sie, leider.

Irgendeiner Hindu-Gottheit schienen wir nachhaltig auf die Füsse getreten zu haben - blöde Sache das. Da sich  aber heute morgen andeutete, dass wir an diesem Tag unseren Radius um die sanitären Einrichtungen deutlich würden erweitern können, sahen wir uns in der Pflicht, etwas für unser Karma zu tun und die bösen Geister aus Indien mit dem freundlichen Lächeln Buddhas zu verjagen.

Damit da auch ja nichts schief läuft, nahmen wir gleich mal den größten liegenden Buddha der Welt mit ins Boot, seines Zeichens es sich auf 40 Metern bequem machend im Wat Pho,  gleich neben dem Chao Phraya River. Ein wunderbarer Ausflug, der sich bestens mit einer Bootsfahrt auf dem selbigen kombinieren lässt.

Am Tempel angekommen, durften wir feststellen, dass

  1. Man den liegenden Buddha unbedingt gesehen haben sollte. Vergesst Fotos, der ist riesig, wunderschön und einfach nur beeindruckend
  2. Die Wat Pho Anlage der Wat Phra Kaeo Anlage beim Königspalast nur wenig nachsteht, dafür aber viel entspannter ist

Alles in allem war es unglaublich entspannt und entspannend, um nicht zu sagen - ganz schön Zen! Und unser Karma verbesserte sich minütlich...

Todesmutig, da schon mehrere Stunden von unseren bisher so selten verlassenen Örtlichkeiten entfernt, beschlossen wir, Chinatown unsere Ehre zu erweisen - auch das war uns bisher noch nicht gelungen. Mit einem mühsam erhandelten Tuktuk ließen wir uns in das Herz des Chinesenviertels bringen, in dem richtig viel los war - alle waren beim Aufräumen, man hatte ja schließlich für den Zeitpunkt unserer Ankunft punktgenau die Geschäfte und Märkte geschlossen. Typisch, sowas passiert uns irgendwie immer...

Dennoch war Chinatown ein Erlebnis - einerseits ließ sich noch sehr gut erahnen, was hier los ist, wenn hier wirklich was los ist, und ehrlich gesagt waren da auch jetzt nicht die Bürgersteige hochgeklappt. Andererseits war es ein fast schon gespenstisches Erlebnis, durch schmalste Gassen und verlassene Strassen zu irren, die sonst nur durch die aneinandergereihten Läden (bei denen jetzt allesamt die Läden runter waren) zum Leben erweckt werden.

Leider blieb es uns auch nicht erspart, durch die Anwesenheit dutzender Haifischflossen-servierender Restaurants angewidert zu werden. Beim ersten noch verwegene Guerilla-Aktionen im Greenpeace-Stil ersinnend, wurde uns schnell klar, dass wir gegen diese schiere Masse ohnmächtig sein würden. Wir wünschten jedenfalls den Konsumenten und den Besitzern ein paar fiese Fischgräten in den Hals und begaben uns auf den Weg zum geplanten krönenden Abschluss des Wandertages - Scoozi!

Ebendieses ist ein - festhalten - italienisches Restaurant. Genauer gesagt eine Pizzeria. Noch genauer gesagt, einer der besten Pizzaläden von ganz Asien (wir wissen, wovon wir reden!). Die Pizza ist nur im Asien-Maßstab spitze, nein - sie ist einfach richtig gut. Warum aber gehen wir Cretins italienisch essen, wo um uns herum eine einzige fantastische thailändische Küche brodelt? Nun, die wird uns in den nächsten Wochen eh begleiten, also keine Hast. Und außerdem - Kali's Rache fordert noch ihren Blutzoll, in Form des Verzichtenmüssens auf "chön charf" - Chilies sind nicht zuträglich, die gibts erst wieder wenn alles nachhaltig im Lot ist.

Ich hoffe morgen :)

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Fortuna isn't that generous to us this time. Had to extend for 2 additional nights in Bangkok.

Seems like we've managed quite brilliant and have chosen the absolute "peak season" for our travel time (besides the Monsoon, that's another experience anyway ;-) So Rene is out now hunting for tickets for the tomorrow's night train (let's cross fingers, that he's able to manage anything better than nonAC, nonSleeper for that 9 hrs ride!), while I'm stuck for the 2nd day now in the hotel - close to my beloved and well known "great white ceramic facility" ;-)

So, the beach needs to wait for some more days :-( But as one says: everything could be worse..

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