• Thailand

    Chiang Khan – the new Luang Prabang

    If there was a dictionary entry for “cute” in regard to towns, there would surely be a couple of photos of Chiang Khan filed under it. Over the past 10 years or so some smart investors turned the formerly sleepy Mekong crossroads into a beautifully renovated showcase of traditional Thai small town architecture. It is so perfectly manicured that it has a bit of a doll’s house appeal. It is lovely! Really. Being so neat and pleasant it automatically makes you think about staying longer. Just to dust off this little bit more from the road-trip you are on, or kick back a liiittle longer in the artsy…

  • Thailand,  Human Encounters

    In Search for the Maple Leaf

    He came all the way by bus from Bangkok to see the dark red maple leaf in Phu Kradueng Nationalpark. “When I was a student, a boy”, he says with deep sincerity, “I was playing this computer game called ‘Maple Leaf’. That’s about ten years ago and ever since I wanted to see one for real.” He is 23 now and sweetly deliberate in all his explanations. Phu Kradueng is indeed famous for having maple trees to start with, but then also for the maple tree losing its leaves at this time of the year, is what I learn. The red maple leaf being nothing less than the…

  • Thailand,  Human Encounters

    Instant tailoring

    The other day the backside of my hiking trousers exploded. It started off with a small tear, potentially caused by a stubborn struggle of mine with a group of rattan and other spiky jungle greenery. The signpost insisted I need to turn right. So why would I give up my plan to finish hike #5, just because the path was overgrown wildly? After bush bashing my way through the thicket I come out rather scratched on the other side. Only to discover that a bit further down the “wrong” way (aka hike #4) people had already created a little bypass. A detour, but nice and easy. Well, I’ve…

  • Thailand

    That Quality of Life in Khon Kaen

    Khon Kaen has everything I like in my city: an attractive body of water alongside which one can stroll or cycle or run, huge forests and mountains close enough to ease the mind of the nature addict during a day trip or a weekend adventure, even a rock-climbing community! On top of that the popular university makes for cozy coffee shops and a vibrant music and art scene. It’s like Mainz in the tropics! Khon Kaen is one of four major cities in the North-East of Thailand. But unlike Udon Thani and Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat), which count for two more of the “big four of Isan” there is rather…

  • Thailand,  Kambodscha

    Angkor is everywhere

    The evening sun is bathing the ancient ruins in a captivating gold-orange light. I wander through the chambers of one of the many 12th century Khmer temples in Thailand and admire quietly the excellent state of the original stone carvings on lintels and pediments. It’s serene. It’s me and maybe two dozen other visitors – local tourists geared up in their best outfits on a selfie spree. They do in fact add to the beauty of the scene. “Khon diao?” I get asked over and over again by the Thai families and groups of friends. “Only one person?” Inconceivable that one would travel by themselves! “Mai sanuk!” “No…

  • Thailand

    Khao Yai Photo Safari

    Honestly, this National Park is nothing short of a zoo! A drive-by zoo, where all the inmates are having permission to roam freely in an area of 2,168 km². How many times have I dried the tears of guests coming on my tours in Asia, when there was no wildlife to be seen on days and days of hiking through the jungle? Growing a little bit weary of the latent disappointment I one day purposefully designed a trip with an overnight stay in a hide somewhere in Malaysia. Together with a 77-year old recreational hunter we were sitting on watch all night in front of a beautiful clearing…

  • Thailand,  Giggles

    Dancing Deers and Bulls

    There is a sense of humour in a lot of the street signs and stickers you’ll find while travelling around Thailand. Khao Yai authorities did not fall behind expectations when designing some of the advice for the popular national park. They have quite the dynamic appeal about them.

  • Thailand

    “It Only Stings When it Really Wants”

    Did you know that scorpions perform some kind of dance when they mate? Well, to be precise, the male arthropod places his sperm somewhere safe on the ground and then guides the female over it by grasping her at her claws and then tugging her in the desired direction. Since they don’t go in a straight line during this process, it’s called a dance. I’m happy to learn about this and many other details from the life of a scorpion while our guide Lek places a non-dancing but nonetheless very living blackish green specimen on my hand. I finally made it to Khao Yai National Park and we…

  • Thailand

    Back to Backpacking Thailand

    I’m deeply mesmerized by the refinement and warmth of Bali. I have a thing for the rough and raw of Cambodia. And I’m in breathless awe for the humble and sincere practice of the Burmese. But with Thailand and me it is something else. It’s a vibrational thing. It’s my heart expanding the moment the wheels of the airplane touch ground. It’s this upwelling of tears when I cross any land border coming from Laos or Cambodia (no kidding!). It’s crazy. It’s irrational. And it’s unconditional. I smile when they smile their famous smile, but from deep deep within. I do the “khaaa” thing with such a profound…

  • Bali

    Leaving the Womb of Mama Bali

    Velvet night. The monsoon rain has stopped for a moment. His eyes are wide and shining, much like those of a Legong dancer. His smile is warm and animated. It warms my heart. Nyoman, the motorbike guy, is one of those humans who make life in Ubud so very easy. “You call again, when you come back, yeah?” he confirms our connection before he takes off with my Scoopy. I enjoy the simplicity and flow in all our interactions. And this particular Balinese flavour of caring warmth. I feel it again at 4:45 in the morning of that same night when I hobble past the house of my…