World Tourer - Travelogue
After not travelling for more than two months I am looking forward to my trip to Vietnam in March. I am flying from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City on the 1st of March, spending two days in Ho Chi Minh City and then flying on to Nha Trang where I am staying for four weeks. I will be working whilst in Nha Trang but still plan to visit the Nha Trang Beach daily.
After the Vietnam trip I will be coming back to Jomtien until I go t Bali (Indonesia) for a week in early May.
I have also arranged a three day trip to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) towards the end of May to renew my Thai visa.
Took a trip up to Bangkok yesterday to apply for a new passport (I have run out of empty pages). I don't like going to Bangkok and back in one day as it can involve more than five hours of travel (bus and train). On this trip the bus to Bangkok took two and half hours which is slower than normal (and the bus only goes to Ekamai which is still a fair way out of central Bangkok). Luckily the British Embassy is located close to a Skytrain station so it was easy to get to. The cost of a new passport was almost 9,000 Baht which is exactly double the cost if you do it in England. At least I don't have to make another trip to pick it up as they are going to post it back to me in Jomtien.
Apart from my month long trip to Vietnam in March I have arranged to go to Bali for a week early in May. I had also planned to go to Laos again via Chiang Rai (Thailand) and then across the border into Laos and down the Mekong by boat. I have cancelled that idea for now as the boats only have bench seats and travel for six to eight hours each day. I don't think my back could take that.
I was also in the planning stages of a trip to Europe (to use my frequent flyer points) but I am not sure if that will happen this year now as I have been spending too much money.
I have decided to stay in Jomtien for Christmas and not travel anywhere until I visit Visit Vietnam again in March.
I may go on a day trip to Koh Samet but otherwise stay at home (and work).
My trip to Vientiane, Laos, to renew my Thai visa was good. I only spent three days there but I think I will return some time and probably travel around Laos a bit.
Vientiane is the capital of Laos and has a population of around 500,000 which are obviously spread around as the city itself appears quite small. The people are like a mix of the other South East Asian countries which is not surprising when you consider that Laos is a land locked country and has borders with Myanmar, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. Vientiane is on the bank of the Mekong River and Thailand starts on the opposite bank. The border crossing is via the Friendship Bridge opened in 1994 (funded and built by Australia).
The process of getting to and from Vientiane to renew my Thai visa was not as easy as I had been led to believe. I had to catch a minibus from the airport at Udon Thani (Thailand) to the border at the Friendship Bridge. That was followed by the exit procedure on the Thai side. Then another bus to cross the bridge and the immigration and visa process on the Laos side. Then another minibus into Vientiane. The return trip was even more complicated as I could not find any organised transport places and had to find my own way (baht bus from Vientiane to the border , bus across the bridge, Tuk Tuk into Nong Khai, local bus to Udon Thani and another Tuk Tuk to the airport. I think that next time I will find a way to fly into Vientiane.
Back in Jomtien, Thailand, after a cold and wet trip to China. All in al I was disappointed in China as I had expected there to be a lot of history, culture and old architecture but what I found was modern cities with little character.
The weather for most of the trip was cold and wet plus all of my flights on this trip were late from a minimum of one hour to a maximum of two and a half hours. This meant that on three occasions I arrived at my hotel in the early hours of the morning. The main reason for the flight delays in China was the heavy snow in Beijing (the heaviest for more than 20 years) I had originally planned to visit Beijing but changed my plans and I am glad.
I spent two days in Shanghai, Two days in Qingdao and two days in Guangzhou.
I went on a full day tour of Shanghai which was OK with the highlight being a visit to the Shanghai museum which had an amazing collection of old coins dating back to 300 BC. To get to Pudong airport from Shanghai I caught the Maglev train which travels at 430 KPH.
When I arrived in Qingdao it was minus 3 degrees, luckily the forecast heavy snow did not arrive. My hotel was not where I thought it was and was 10 or more kilometres out of town. I spent the first day walking along the coast and around the city. Qingdao is much larger than I had expected with a population of around two and a half million. It is very modern and most of the buildings look quite new. Qingdao was the site of the sailing events for last years Olympic Games.
Guangzhou is a large city of 20 plus million but lacking any interesting features.
I was planning to return to China next year and visit Beijing and also the World Expo in Shanghai but I am not sure if I will go now.
More Photographs of China
8th November 2009
I am now in Shanghai for two days after an overnight stop in Guangzhou. My first impression of Shanghai is that it is a typical sprawling city with little special appeal. I was surprised that there is virtually no information available locally in English - especially when you consider that Shanghai is hosting the World Expo next year.
I have booked an all day city tour for tomorrow so I should have a more accurate opinion of Shanghai after that.