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Asia

Songkran in Chiang Mai

This year we decided to celebrate the Songkran festival, the Thai New Year, in Chiang Mai.
The festival marks the beginning of the new solar year and the begin of summer.
The word “Songkran” comes from the Sanskrit and means transformation, change.

According to tradition, people visit temples during festivities and pour water, enriched and perfumed with flower petals,on the Buddha statues for good luck.
Thai people believe that water is spiritually purifying and that washes away sins and bad luck.

So for three days, all the street in Thailand are filled with people, young and old, pouring water on each other in the world biggest water fight.
Nowhere is safe and you’ll never know, until the very last minute, if the bucket of water that is coming upon you is normal or incredibly frozen!

Everyone participates, everyone is friends, everyone smiles.

Do you want to photograph Songkran? Check those tips to survive Songkran as a photographer!

Asia

Ayutthaya and night train

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From Kanchanaburi lake, Huafu took us up to Si Sawat where we were supposed to take a bus. But as we didn’t want to wait one hour and a half, we decided to continue hitchihiking to Lat Ya where we finally took a bus to Ayutthaya.

We didn’t expect much from that city that is about 80 kilometers north of Bangkok but apparently it’s quite common to go on a daily trip there from Bangkok and it’s an UNESCO World Heritage Site so we decided to give it a try.

Well, maybe it’s good for a day but not more. It’s much dirtier than other cities that we visited (that means, big rats everywhere) and there’s nice temples but that’s pretty much all.
We visited Wat Maha That, that is really beautiful, but we tried to walk around the city and it was too hot and we had to go to the train station to buy a ticket for Chiang mai and there’s a river cutting the city in half and to cross the river there’s only one bridge so at the end we were pretty much tired and didn’t enjoy the city very much (we discover in the end that there’s a boat that cross the river for pedestrian for a couple of bath so if you’re going there don’t make the same mistake as us!)

We spent the evening in the station, our train for Chiang mai was only half an hour late (impressive for thai trains) and everything in the station was clear, there was a blackboard with all the train, timetables and delay.
The night train was really nice, clean and confortable.
Only tip: if you book a ticket, ask for the lower bed: I had the top bed and the AC is very strong in the train and came from the ceiling so it will hit you directly on top. And the light in the corridor is always on, there are curtains but on the top bed they don’t cover up to the top and you’ll have the lamp directly in your face.
I finally ended up sleeping in the lower bed with Pawlo.

We arrived in Chiang Mai pretty on time in the morning, ready for Songkran and for a week of craziness.

Asia

Road trip to Kanchanaburi

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Before heading north, in direction of Chiang Mai to celebrate Sonngkran, we spent some days with Huafu and his family and his van on a road trip in the region of Kanchanaburi and around the Sinakharin lake.

The lake is huge so we were able to go change location almost every day, it’s a little touristic (with nice resorts and everything) but not too expensive and, most of all, with no farangs (foreigners) around!!

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Dawn on Srinakarin Lake

In the west coast of the lake there’s a national park with refreshing waterfalls and wild plants, nature is amazing there, we were able to swim in the lake, among fishes and tree branches, to have amazing meals and to finally use our tent.

There were also caves on the way but the entrance fee was 300 thb for foreigners (and I think 100 for thai) and it was a little bit too much for us just to see a cave.
Who knows, maybe it was the best cave in the world..

South America

Guatapé and Piedra del Peñol

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The “Piedra del Peñol” is a big monolithic rock in the departement of Antioquia that has, after climbing the 740 steps, an amazing view and a lot of tourists taking “selfies” with the beautiful lake El Peñol in the background.

Not far there’s the small city of Guatapé, characterized by buildings with very colorful facade. The atmosphere is very relaxed and laid back, so nice that we really thought about buying a house and a land here.

They’re both reachable with tours from Medellin but we decided to just take a 2 hours ride on a public bus to the rock and from here wait for another public bus to Guatapé, much much cheaper this way!
Just for the record: taking the last picture I’ve fallen in a manhole, badly hurt my leg, had pain for a long time and I have a scar as a lasting memory. But can you see the shape of the shadow that is similar to the shape of the sheep? Totally worth it 😀 (well.. maybe 😉 )

Asia

Phanom Rung Historical Park and Prasat Muang Tam

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It took us three days of travel (an no real nights) to get to Thailand from Paris: a night bus to Milan, some hours in Delhi airport, knowing that my lovely India with smiles and spices and smell is just outside the window, a night on the floor of Bangkok airport and 5 hours on a freezing bus and here we are.
We are staying at a friend place near Nang Rong for more or less a month, doing nothing but relax, work, eat delicious food, drink beers and play pool.

Despite Pawlo has already been several time in this area, he had never been to the temples around Nang Rong, a good occasion for a good day of tourism (and good food!)

Prasat Hin Phanom Rung is a khmer temple dedicated to the God Shiva. It’s builded in Angkor style and it’s the same style as the Angkor Park in Cambodia.

Prasat Muang is only a 10 minute drive away and it’s possible to buy a ticket for both saving 50 baht.

South America

Rincon del mar

Rincon del mar is a sweet caribbean paradise in the north of Colombia.
There’s no buses that arrive directly there; so from Monteria it took us three hours in a freezing bus to San Onofre where we had to ask some local guys to take us with their motorcycles!
And after thirty minutes on a “moto-taxi”, with the road full of water and mud, trying not to fall, trying to avoid baby pigs and chickens, we finally arrived in the little place of this fishermen village.

There are just two dirt roads but we’ve discovered that the village has almost 4000 inhabitants, big family inside the houses and hidden houses reachable only by patios behind the two roads.
People are smiling and greeting all the time and the best meal you can find is the one your neighbour can prepare you for few pesos.
Children are playing in the road with sticks and old tires.
The sea is warm, the place is safe, on weekends people come from the surrounding and there’s music and it’s a little bit more crowded but during the week is calm and peaceful.

We were supposed to spend a week just relaxing and, sometimes, working a little bit but we’ve started with a chain of misfortunes, connection problems, storms and a 48 hours long blackout that “forced” us to sleep, read books, eat, swim and drink beers.