Siam and I - Nathan Winder

Siam and I


27.02.2014


I began my trip in Bangkok six weeks ago, I passed through again between Cambodia and Laos, and now I'm here again at the end. I've had a great time in Thailand. 


When I first arrived I got off the Skytrain from the airport and found myself (and my hostel) smack dab in the middle of one of the large protest zones at Siam Square.

There is a big stage with cameras, lights, and big screens where the protest leaders give speeches and musicians give performances. People are camped out in dome tents in the street in a half-kilometer radius around the central intersection.


I could hear it all from my dorm room. 



Even though there has been sporadic violence associated with the protests, I never felt unsafe. There are security checkpoints and bag-control; it's all very well organized. 


And I figure that if they are selling t-shirts to a protest, it can't be that chaotic...

Of course there is no shortage beautiful Buddhist wats and temples in Bangkok.

The famous reclining Buddha of Wat Pho.

Most temples have their share of resident cats and dogs...

Bangkok is both an ancient city and a modern metropolis...

Sometimes I would take the modern Skytrain to get around...

And other times I would take one of the scruffy taxi boats up and down the canals...

The food in Thailand is amazing, and the street food is the tastiest and cheapest of all...

Thailand is a monarchy and images of the king are all over. A visit to the Grand Palace is a must, it's very impressive...


After leaving Laos I came to the city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. 


Chiang Mai is a pleasant city with more cool temples and a lot of monks. It was also a nice place to relax.

For the temple dogs too...

At one temple they have, "Monk Chat," a little area where you can talk to monks and they can practice their English. I ended chatting with this monk for nearly two hours about a variety of topics. It was great!

I don't normally pet the dogs, but this one was special. Also, I have a Slurpee from 7-11. Can't get that in Munich...

After a few days in Chiang Mai, I flew to Phuket in the far south and took a bus up to the town of Khao Lak. I got to the beach just after the sun set. It was so nice to be at a beach again!

Khao Lak is where the tragic Boxing Day Tsunami hit Thailand hardest in 2004. You wouldn't really know that walking through the town today, though. Other than a stranded police boat left as a memorial, there is almost no evidence of the destruction.



My reason for coming to Khao Lak was to do a PADI Open Water Diving course. I had booked through a dive company referred to me by one of my English students in Munich. 


It turned out that I was the only one doing this course that week so I had a one-on-one training with George, a PADI dive instructor from Switzerland.


The first day was theory and introduction in the swimming pool...

And it was pretty much all in German (with a Swiss accent). 

The next day we took a boat with other divers out to the Similan Islands and there I dived in the azure blue waters for the first time...


I don't have an underwater camera, and the focus was on proper diving technique anyway, so no photos of this. It was amazing, though. There was an endless variety of tropical reef fish, fascinating jellyfish, and we even saw a beautiful green sea turtle buzzing around the underwater rocks. I loved it!


That night, I had dinner at a beach restaurant with another guy from the dive shop and there was a little fire show...

The hermit crabs came out at night...

The next day we went out on the ocean again, passing the colorful Thai fishing ships along the way...

George and I giving the "alles in Ordnung? - alles in Ordnung." signal.

This time we were diving to the Boonsung Wreck, an old tin miner stranded at about 18 meters below the surface. George brought along his camera with underwater housing and snapped a few photos...


There were plenty of gorgeous fish: pillow-sized puffers, leopard-spotted moray eels, angelfish in all their varieties, shrimps, barracuda, spindly lion fish, grotesque stone fish, and all the little ones I cannot name. 


This is a dream come true for me. I have always loved life under the sea. I even wanted to be a marine biologist when I was a lad. What I found surprisingly delightful was how unafraid most of the fish are of divers. They will swim right past your mask giving you a good look in the eye.


I hope I can make it back underwater soon!

It was my last night in Khao Lak and I enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the beach...

Back in Bangkok the protests were still going, though perhaps not as strong as before...

One night I went to a rooftop bar to get some fun city panorama photos. I ended up meeting a couple of nice Brits who treated me to a virgin pina colada. It was a lot of fun...

The bartenders were nice too. They could probably tell I was just up there for the photos (the drinks were expensive!) but they let me stay anyway...

One of my first items of business when I arrived in Bangkok six weeks ago was to get fitted for a suit and some shirts. Six weeks later, everything is ready and I was able to try it all on. These were  Indian tailors and they did a great job!

I got a haircut and shampoo!

I also visited the ruins of Ayutthaya, just north of Bangkok...

There were elephants...

Honestly, it was nice to just rest in Bangkok. I slept in a bit. I went to the movies (Robocop), and just kept things pretty chill. A good cool down before going home to Munich.


I leave tonight and so goodbye Bangkok!

And goobye protest monkey!

And goodbye Asia, until we meet again!


  • Rachel Linton

    on February 27, 2014

    Great entry, Nate. Amazing photos as usual. That suit really was well tailored!

Powered by SmugMug Log In