Self-drive in Central Europe/ Alps – I (Intro)

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In the course of our travel, we stayed in a variety of accommodations, including pensions, home-stays , tent (tipi, as it is called locally, located in the midst of Slovak wilderness where Sharmi heard scratching noise on the outside in the middle of night) and an apartment, which was vacated by the occupant for our stay. In many places, we had kitchens to ourselves.

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Ghumakkar Insights – Wandering thoughts (To leave or ‘no’ to leave)

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Some colleagues are well-wishers who try to show him light:

“Where to, this time, G?”

G – “Anjuna.”

“Anything special there?”

G – “Yeah. Great beach and sea food.”

“Didn’t you go to a beach last time and had great sea food as well?”

G – “True. But that was Andaman.”

“ I see. Isn’t a beach, after all, a beach with sand and sea food?”

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Self-Drive trip across Thailand (7 days, 2000 kms) : Part 6 – Chiang Mai

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We also spend some time in a fantastic session called ‘Chat with Monks’. This particular wat, which is also a training facility for the young monks, offers tourists an opportunity to interact informally with the monks. There is a common area where the tourist group is met by one of the waiting monks. You can sit with him and discuss anything related to Monks/ Buddhism/ Thailand or any other topic of interest. Well, to answer the ‘why’ of it – such interactions enable the monks to practise spoken English as also widening their knowledge base and the tourists, of course gather valuable insight.

A good & handy source of drinking water is the vending machines placed at common areas. Though bottled water is available across Thailand costing B15 – B30 or more depending on when and where you buy them; these vending machines (working on coin system) offer you potable water @ B1 (one bhat) for a litre.

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Self-Drive trip across Thailand (7 days, 2000 kms) : Part 5 – Bang Saen to Kampaeng Phet

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We had plans of visiting heritage sites and local night market, but lassitude takes over as soon as we arrive. After strolling around the neighbourhood, spying on local shops and outlets, we are back to the guest house.
There are number of cosy sit-outs within the house. In the evening, guests have gathered here to relax and chat-up. Soon I connect up with Bill, an Austrian from Vienna and Shoo, a Thai traveller. Yes, they tell, they are also travelling across Thailand. While exchanging notes I discover that both of them (though travelling separately) are very special Ghumakkars. Bill (actually Bills, a couple) has arrived here Cycling all the way from AUSTRIA! Well, the story goes like this. They are avid cyclists. They have covered large parts of the globe cycling. Bill roughly cycles for an year in one go! By end of the year long loop, he is back in Vienna to earn his livelihood. After earning for about 6-8 months, he is again out for the next trip. He tells us that he does not own a car and has a very small house in Vienna. He works just to make enough money for the next trip. Same is the story of his partner. She is from the same place and they share the same passion. They are 6 months into the current trip and plan to cycle north to China and then through Kazakhstan and Eastern Europe to Vienna. Their belongings, typical for cyclists, comprise of two rucksacks (strapped to either side of the carrier) and a sleeping bag cum tenting equipment.

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Self Drive Trip across Thailand (7 days, 2000 kms) : Part 4 (Bang Saen)

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Next day we walk down to the beach. Beach has its own share of food stalls and other knick-knacks counters. We come across a lady vending ripe jackfruit flesh. This is an exotic dish in Bengal (Bongs famously say that you either love it or hate it – immensely; primarily because of its strong odour and quaint taste). Sharmi tries the fruit and it tastes good. Jackfruits look quite different here. They are larger in size and pricklier in appearance. We saw them yesterday while entering Bang Saen but did not recognise them for what they are. It’s only today, on coming across the peeled version, does the realisation dawn.

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Self-Drive trip across Thailand (7 days, 2000 kms): Part-2 Preparing for the trip

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Thailand packages are tediously limited to Bangkok and Pattaya (that’s how they are bundled up by travel agents here); and for the more desirous ones, add-ons are Phuket or Krabi. Ditto, while discussing Thailand with colleagues who have visited it, all they had on offer were superficials limited to these destination. And here is what we observed – Bangkok, where we spent maximum time was the most uninspiring despite all its glitzy malls, tourist spots, shopping centers, et al and Pattaya, which we drove across, did not appear much different. Actually, both the places had ‘TOURISTY – NOT AUTHENTIC’ tag imprinted bolder than the fonts here for any discerning traveler to see. Our best memories of the country extend beyond (and almost exclude) these two places.

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