Status Update (Asia)

Koh Phi Phi


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AUGUST 27 – AUGUST 31

We left the mainland of Krabi, Thailand on 04/09/18. In the night before we just walked up to one of those many small ticket booths you can find pretty much everywhere in touristy locations here and bought two tickets for a ferry the next morning. There are different companies that offer ferries – in fact for every person transportation service there are like 3 or 4 different biggest companies you could choose from. We didn’t inform ourselves before we booked the ferry and maybe we should have done that because the companies vary in terms of pricing, included services and safety. In that particular case everything worked fine but you’ll get an example for a blindfolded booked bus ride that didn’t went so good in a future blog post!

You better inform yourself about bus/taxi/ferry companies before booking tickets. The ticket offices sell different tickets from different companies (because they have different time schedules and the choice of the correct company for you often depends on the time you need the ride) so first ask them which companies are suitable for you, then do a little google research about their quality of service – TripAdvisor may have some comments from former customers – and then decide which you should choose. We mostly don’t have to leave at a certain time, so we are able to choose the company we like the best and don’t have to stick to the only company that fits into our schedule.

But yeah, luckily our ferry was good – not extremely comfortable but safe with overall okay kinda service. Btw if you travel with technical stuff (laptop, camera,…) you definitely want to keep that in a separate bag. On ferries they often stack all the passenger’s bags to one big heap on the outside of the boat, as on the inside there is not enough space. Imagine your camera gear buried under 50kg of luggage! And even worse: what if it suddenly starts to rain? No thanks!

From AoNang Beach to Koh Phi Phi

We booked our airbnb only some days before – like we always do. Plans change all the time and if you booked all your accommodations and tickets for ferries and busses before your journey even starts, you’ll find yourself completely stressed out, trying to stick to deadlines and either not having enough time in some locations or having to much time in others. We actually wanted to stay in Koh Lanta for only four nights but ended up being there for two weeks! But that’s another story for a future blog post! 😉

Quick side info: Koh (or actually correct: Ko) means island on Thai and can be found in front of every name of every single Thai island. So don’t be confused that Google Maps says Phi Phi Islands – that’s just the English name for Koh Phi Phi. 

So when we booked our stay on Koh Phi Phi we asked our contact person if their accommodation offers a free pickup service from the point where you arrive. You should always do that! You’ve to think about the following: You travel to another country. You don’t know sh*t about it’s infrastructure and public transportation. In Germany taking a taxi is very expensive – in Thailand it’s cheap and you use it all the time. So think about how you will get from the airport you’re arriving to your accommodation. As I said, taxis are a great option in Thailand, for example. Or shuttle services you can find at airports. But often hotels offer a free pick-up from airport and you can save a lot of money by asking for that. 

The beach next to the town
Our stay

In this particular case the pick-up service from the harbor was a little bit different. Koh Phi Phi is a quite small island that is not designed for cars. When we got off the ferry we felt like we were in some kind of a fun park because there were only walking streets (that are more like narrow alleys) and everywhere are fancy theme restaurants and souvenir shops. As a german living in western Germany I had to think about the Phantasialand immediately. So in this case our pick-up service wasn’t a taxi or tuk tuk, it was just a guy with a wheelbarrow for our backpacks. On our way up the hill we realized that most of the resorts and hotels on this island would offer a pick-up service because we would have never found the way to our resort by ourselves! Just take a look at Koh Phi Phi on Google Maps. There are barely any streets marked on the map and each resort follows closely after another (often you can’t even see where the bungalows of one resort stop and where the bungalows of another one start). 

Koh Phi Phi from above

I gotta say that Koh Phi Phi wasn’t the right destination for us. Yes, it has beautiful beaches with monkeys on them stealing your stuff if you have it unfixed to your backpack (which you could only access by boat if you don’t want to make your way through the jungle – just take a look at the map above) BUT it’s generally more designed for party-all-night kinda people. First we thought we made a mistake with booking our resort because it was located so far from the main area (about 15 min walk) but we realized the first night that we were in fact lucky to stay there as the town starts to get crowded in the evening and parties last all night. So if you’re looking for something like that, Koh Phi Phi is your place in Thailand! Cheap and strong drinks, sociable people everywhere and a ton of bars and restaurants that are open all night. Of course that was not what we were looking for but we realized that Koh Phi Phi’s beach bars are different. Here you can chill out on beach mats, watch the stars, have a drink and listen to transcendental music until the sun rises again. Quite every single one of them also offer special VERY relaxed experiences on demand… if you know what I mean. Maybe this is rather of your taste?

Party Boat Tour

For our next day we booked a party boat tour. It was quite expensive for us traveling on budget but we thought we should make this experience once in a lifetime. It actually turned out great, although we could possible have booked a cheaper tour. We paid around 40 to 50$. The following was included:

  • 8 hour boat trip with 8 or 9 stops
  • unlimited water, softdrinks and alcohol
  • unlimited watermelon & lunch
  • around 15 to 20 people
  • speedboat with bass-heavy music system

You find offers like this around every corner and you’ll be addressed by people selling those tours every couple of minutes. You could walk around, listen to every offer and decide depending on price and included services but you can never be sure that you’ll get what they promise you so either you look up the reviews of every agency online or you just hope the best and book anything. We booked a tour offered by Black Sails Adventure. We stopped everywhere they said we would, our guide was a really cool guy and we had a lot of fun meeting the people that shared the ride with us. The only downsides were that we didn’t see any sharks (which isn’t the agency’s fault – I’m going to sue the sharks!) and the glowing plankton which we were supposed to see at night was more like a faint glimmer you could notice when you move your hand through the dark water. But as everything else was as expected, they’re passing.

The guide took photos with his GoPro and we got them all for free

Quick tip in between: if you’re going to Monkey Beach make sure not to wear a hat! Also leave yellow things on the boat, the monkeys may mistake them as bananas. As they love investigating your stuff, you maybe want to leave your backpack on the boat as well. If a monkey is willing to climb up your shoulder just let it do so – it’s okay if they are the ones coming to you. You in return should not try to touch them as they’re getting aggressive easily. If your guide knows what he’s doing, he will tell you about all this but just in case you’re unlucky and book a bad tour… I warned you.

These things happen sometimes

That’s pretty much everything I have to say about Koh Phi Phi. It wasn’t the place for us but looking back we had a good short time there and we maybe could have made more of it by trying more of the activities offered around every corner. You could rent a kayak and explore the nearby located small islands, for example. That’s supposed to be really cool and I gotta say the area around Koh Phi Phi has to offer really beautiful beaches. Just expand your stay if you enjoy the island – that’s the best way of backpacking. Don’t plan too much ahead and give yourself the freedom to stay where you want to and to leave places you don’t like. Just take it easy.

Want to see more? Picture series of Thailand is online! Go take a look https://martinklengel.com/portfolio/thailand/

Status Update (Asia)

AoNang Beach


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AUGUST 27 – AUGUST 31

If you read the last blogpost (I hope you did) you know that Bangkok wasn’t the destination we needed when we first came to Thailand. Actually we expected that before and that’s why we wanted to stay only four nights in Bangkok and already booked a flight down to Krabi, which is one of the provinces of Thailand that are known for beautiful beaches and palms. Just type in Krabi in the Google Images search…

From Bangkok to Krabi

We booked an one hour flight from Bangkok Don Mueang Airport. Bangkok has two airports. I’ve actually no idea if they distinguish in any way as they both seem to offer domestic and international flights. When I’m looking for the cheapest possible flight, I use Google Flights. You just type in “Bangkok” as city of departure and google automatically searches for flights from both airports. It doesn’t really matter which one you take. The flight was only 30 bucks! Thanks to airlines like AirAsia or NokAir flying is a faster and sometimes even cheaper way to travel in Asia.

Our airbnb was at AoNang beach. We didn’t know anything about that region! Life is an adventure, so we just booked something that looks good somewhere close to the sea. And living right at a beach sounded great for us! Arriving at the airport – which was btw really small and nearly empty as soon as the passengers of our flight had left – we looked for ways to get to AoNang. We could have walk outside and look for a taxi or a tuk tuk but who wants to carry their luggage longer than needed? Right inside the airport we walked up to one of the bus companies that offers rides in taxis, minivans or busses to pretty much everywhere. We payed – attention – 150 THB (≈ 4.60 US$) for a 40 minutes ride. One thing we noticed about asian passenger transport services is that most of the time you get a free pick-up from your location (e.g. hotel lobby) and also they bring you everywhere you want to. In Germany there’s a bus station you have to go to on your own and a bus station they let you out somewhere in the destination area. Here in Asia busses work a bit more like private taxis. There were around 10 to 12 people in the minivan we took from the airport. Everyone wants to go to AoNang Beach but everyone wants to go to another hotel. Nevermind, the staff asked every passenger for the name of their stay and the driver stopped at every single one of them! Now that’s customer service!

I gotta say, AoNang Beach is cute! You can walk the beach promenade up and down, sit in good restaurants with a nice view and shop in beach boutiques and souvenir shops. Palm trees line the street and there’s a night market only 400m from the promenade away where you can grab some local street food and maybe see a little girl showing off her dance moves on a small stage (It’s in my story highlight for AoNang: @martinklengel). For us backpackers who try to live as cheap as possible (because we have to go back home as soon as we got no money left) the general pricing of the shops at AoNang was a downside. The sellers know that they’re in a very touristy area… and tourists have money! Because of that they don’t really care if you try to negotiate. They may give you a discount of 2 or 3 dollar but nevertheless the prices are way higher than in non-touristy areas! If you are used to the prices of the Tawanna market in Bankok or read too much about ultra low prices in Thailand before your vacation, you may be disappointed. But in comparison with western pricing of course you’ll still have a pretty cheap vacation here as well as in other parts of Thailand or Asia. 

4 Island Boat Tour

From my Instagram Highlights

When you’re at AoNang Beach you will see advertisements for half-day or full-day boat trips, maybe you even can book those over your accommodation. We did a half-day 4 Island Longboat Tour. Starting at around 1 or 2 pm, you’ll be able to see 4 small and beautiful islands that are located not far from the main land. Every boat ride (from one island to another) takes around 15 to 20 minutes and the tour will instruct you how long the boat will stay at every single one of them so you can move freely on the island and just have to be back in time… otherwise the boat will leave without you! So better carry a watch with you. You can choose between longboat (those typical wooden boats you see on 90% of the pictures when you google Thailand) or speedboats which are more expensive of course. But regardless of the price I’d choose the longboat anyway. It way more authentic and I’d rather enjoy a 20 minute boat ride than a 5 minute boat ride.

We however do NOT recommend booking one of those tours! We were highly disappointed and here’s why: You’re on one boat with around 10 to 15 people. That’s ok because booking a private boat is very expensive (if money doesn’t matter for your vacation I’d recommend doing this though, as you can spend more or less time on every island just the way you like). BUT there are like 5 boats like the one you’re on, leaving AoNang Beach at the same time. This results in about 60 to over 100 people that arrive and leave every small island at the same time like you. For us that had nothing to do with peaceful moments and we felt very stressed and like we weren’t able to appreciate what we saw.

The 4 Island Tour was a major disappointment for us. Too many people on the small islands and not enough time on every island to really calm down and take a nap under the palm trees or take some good photos. Maybe take a look at private boat tours or the boat taxi.

Don’t get me wrong, Poda Island and Tub Island were beautiful and I took some nice photos on Phra Nang Island but the fact that there are people everywhere flooding the beaches really took away a lot of fun. As a photographer you really get angry because there’s this BEAST of a scenery – clear blue water, green jungle, giant mountains and cliffs – and EVERYWHERE are people that disturb your perfect shots. I’m even getting mad writing this right now!! Argh! So all in all nothing we would recommend. A better option might be the taxi boats that brings you to an island of your choice for a fraction of the money a half-day tour costs but I don’t know how exactly this works and the boats only leave with at least 7 people on them, so you have to wait and hope for 6 other people showing up in the near future that want to go to the same island. May work in high season but for us, being there in low season, it would have been utopian to hope for that.

Koh Poda

The Beach

If you’re looking for white sand and crystal clear water, AoNang is not the location for you. This may depend on the time of year you visit Thailand though. We choose low season to travel because there are less tourists in Asia. But there’s a reason for that. It’s raining season which means the climate can get very humid and hot and the ocean is stirred up and frothy. I can’t tell how much AoNang changes in high season but when we were there the only time we enjoyed the beach in any way was at sunset. Sunsets are always a big thing in Thailand! I’ve seen some of the most beautiful sunsets of my life here and it’s different every time! In this case, the sun bathed the scenery in a deep golden color and from the promenade we saw the shadows of people dancing in the puddles and wet sands of the lowtide. A picture is worth a thousand words, so here we go:

Quick tip in between: did you try these iced shakes they sell around every corner here? The idea is simple: fruit, crushed ice and maybe some syrup in a blender and you get a fruit iced shake. These things are awesome and so refreshing! We loved tasting all the different flavors.

Noppharat Thara Beach (right next to AoNang Beach)

Motorbikes

…are a great way to explore your surrounding. It’s cheap and makes so much fun! The regular price is 200 THB (≈ 6 US$) for 24 hours! In low season you might get it for 150 THB and if you rent a bike from a very good hotel for example you may have to pay 250 to 300. Negotiating is always an option as there are many places where you can rent scooters. We never saw a connection between the price and the age or condition of the bike but remember that they will eventually charge you gigantic amounts of money if you scratch them. So with an older model that has it’s quirks you have the chance that they won’t notice a scratch you did. The standard procedure includes that you give them your passport as deposit and sign a contract. We never had any problems and no one tried to put us over the barrel with a contract but I definitely recommend reading them before (or pretty much everything you ever sign). A better option is to rent scooters from your accommodation if it offers that service. Most time you won’t have to give them your passport as they have your information anyway and sometimes you don’t even have to sign a contract. If this isn’t an option for you and you don’t feel very comfortable with giving away your passport you could try giving them money as deposit. We never tried this (and never had any problems with our passports) but we spoke to someone who suggested this successfully.

We drove from AoNang Beach to Krabi Town. The ride itself is fun because you drive almost only on rural roads with not much traffic on them so you can pull the throttle. Remember: In Thailand you drive on the left side of the road. That might confuse you in the beginning but as Thais make up their own rules on the streets anyway, nobody will notice if you’re a little uncertain. One thing we learned about traffic in Asia: it looks like pure chaos on the streets! People drive against the stream, motorbikes use every little gap between cars to get to the front of a line and pedestrians hope for luck and just cross the streets everywhere. But Asians are used to this from the day they were born! We never saw a car accident in Asia as everybody drives slow and really pay attention to others. Often cars honked their horns when they overtook us and we thought they wanted to complain that we drove too slow. Took us a while till we realized they wanted to warn us so we don’t suddenly swing out and crash into them. 

Traffic in Asia is not as dangerous as it seems. Everyone pays attention to each other and they’re all used to this kind of traffic. You as someone who is used to western style traffic admittedly, should really pay attention and be careful! There are cities in Asia which even scare the best drivers so do baby steps and try driving on rural streets and small towns first!

Krabi was not really a dream of a city but the Thara Park or the harbor are worth a visit and right in the center there’s a pretty good food marked where we bought a quite big bag of fruits for only around 1 or 1.50$! So if you’re bored anyway just hop on your scooter and look where the streets take you. You really don’t have to worry about using too much gas because refuel is so cheap! We payed around 2$ for a full tank and needed only a third of it in the end. All in all, renting scooters is one of the cheapest ways to get around. 

All in all I gotta say that we were happy to leave AoNang beach after four nights. Once you walked the promenade up and down several times there’s not much to do here. Maybe the inland has more to offer but we were more interested in beaches at this time. As a stop before going to some islands it was a nice location. But we didn’t want to stay longer actually.

Next stop: Koh Phi Phi! Stay tuned…

Want to see more? Picture series of Thailand is online! Go take a look https://martinklengel.com/portfolio/thailand/

Status Update (Asia)

Bangkok


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AUGUST 27 – AUGUST 31

In this post I’ll give you some insights on how I perceived Bangkok and some helpful tips in case you want to visit it yourself. Everything is based on my own opinion!

We started our trip through Asia recently. On 27/08/18 around 8am, we arrived at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport after an 11 hour flight from Munich, Germany. You have to fill out an immigration card to enter Thailand. In our case the staff at our airplane handed them to every passenger but you will find them at the airport as well. Thailand just wants to know some basic information about you and especially how long you plan to stay. After handing the immigration card to the staff of the immigration office at the airport, you’ll get back a part of it with a stamp and the date of immigration on it. You have to hand that piece of paper when you exit the country, so make sure you don’t lose it! That way the government makes sure you don’t stay longer than you said you would. Remember: if you don’t have a visa you are allowed to stay 1 month. Sometimes you read on the internet that they may want to see a proof that you plan to exit the country soon. We can’t confirm that, we had no problems at all!

We were soo hungry we had to stop at a restaurant right inside the airport first. The food was great but also expensive. We were aware of that but we thought after such a long flight we could treat ourself a bit. After that we tried to take a taxi to our airbnb, which was more complicated than we thought. And here’s why…

Taxis in Bangkok

Usually you just stop taxis on the street. At the airport, however, there is no traffic as it’s located just outside the city. If you follow the “taxi” signs inside the airport you get to the outside area where many taxis are waiting for you on the opposite side of the street. Every taxi stands below a sign that displays a number so you can’t just walk up to any taxi you like. First you have to pull a number from one of the touchscreen-terminals you can find on your side of the street.

One thing you have to know about taking taxis in Bangkok: Every taxi has a taximeter that counts the distance you already drove. That’s a good thing because the price displayed is the correct price! Taxi drivers however try to sell you unit prices and justify that by sentences like “Too much traffic today. I make you a better price”. You can assume that this is a lie in almost every case and you will be paying too much. Golden rule: FIRST ask the driver if he uses taximeter and only get in the car if he does! Another interesting fact is that the taxi drivers in Bangkok technically have the duty to drive you through the law. So if a driver pretends that he doesn’t understand you or doesn’t know the location you want to go to, you can assume they just don’t want to drive there or want to call it a day soon. But hey, if they don’t want your money, just look out for another taxi. You’ll have plenty of options in the streets of Bangkok or at the airport. If you have the possibility, ask the hotel, hostel or airbnb you plan to stay in for their address in Thai. Many taxi drivers seem to have problems understanding english.

Where to reside in Bangkok

We stayed in Bang Kapi, one of the 50 districts of Bangkok. It’s located east of the city center but was not less crowded and loud.

For us it was the perfect location because

a) Right in the city center, everything is designed for tourism and so the prices are. In Bang Kapi you’ll have a hard time seeing any western face and the Thais know that which is why the prices of streetfood or clothes are quite low.

b) Our airbnb was right around the corner of The Mall Bangkapi. It’s a giant shopping centerwhich is very much like western malls are. So if you’re looking for a game center, a cinema, a Dunkin’ Donuts, shopping at H&M or western style products from the drugstore or the grocery store, this is the place to be. (Pro tip: While Starbucks, for example, is just as overpriced as it is in western countries, Dunkin’ Donuts is very low priced here. We grabbed an XXL cappuccino and a donut for only around 70 Baht!) Right next to the mall there’s a place called Tawanna Market. It’s like a giant flea market that takes place every day till around 9:30 in the evening. Here you can get all those fake products Asia is so well-known for. Just grab yourself a Nike t-shirt for 80 Baht.

c) We resided next to the canal Khlong Saen Saep which leads right to Bangkok downtown. If you want to visit other parts of Thailand’s capital, you’re looking for options to beat the traffic, because taxis can get very expensive if you’re stuck in traffic for a longer time (and the traffic in Bangkok is horrible!). The canal, however, offers a great opportunity: you can take a boat! A ride from “The Mall Bangkapi” to “Phanfa Bridge” (pretty much from one end to the other) only costs 17 to 19 Baht (depends on the time of day). You just have to allow additional time as the boat ride takes around 40 to 50 minutes. Just get on the boat and someone will walk up to you to collect the fee. You can get more information about the stops and routes on the official website of the Khlong Saen Saep Express Boat.

So for us Bang Kapi was the perfect place to stay while we were in Bangkok but of course we’ve only seen a fraction of the 50 districts. I’m sure there are plenty more options and way more beautiful parts of the city. There were many more things in Bang Kapi that looked interesting enough to visit them but of course we only had 4 nights in Bangkok and spend the first two days to recover from the jet lag. Just look at Google Maps or check reviews on the internet to find really cool stuff! One of the coolest things I ever saw was the airplane graveyard right in the middle of Bang Kapi. Just look at that…

The People

Thai people are really polite and friendly all the time. Well, most time they are because they want to sell you something and you have to be careful not to fall into their trap. One example: When we passed a busy street right in the center of Bangkok (near the great palace) some security officers made sure we can cross the street safely. We talked to them a little and they said they are really big fans of Germany (they actually were able to say “Good day!” in german) and gave us a map of Bangkok for free. How nice of them! As we told them we wanted to go to the great palace, they said it is closed till 1:30 pm and we could do a boat boat trip before. The boat would take us around the city and show us so much. We thought “okay, if the great palace is closed we got the time to do that…”. They said we should buy the tickets at pier no. 7 because the tickets at the other piers would be more expensive. We should tell the guy at the boat ticket office that they send us and we’d get a discount. The officers even called a TukTuk for us and made sure we only pay 40 Baht for the ride to pier no. 7. At the pier a man walked up to our TukTuk and tried to sell us a 1-hour boat trip for 2400 Baht!!! When we didn’t wanted to he dropped the price 50% but even that was too expensive for us. He walked away, visibly upset. We asked the TukTuk driver to take us to the great palace (which was like half the route then the way we came) and he wanted 100 Baht for that! Of course we said no and walked. You see what happed here? The security officers get money for leading tourists to the guy at pier 7. I think they get a part of the money we would have paid there. And why the hell would the great palace, a place that is visited by thousands of tourists every day, only open at 1:30 pm? They just needed a reason for us to first do the boat tour. So scams around every corner in Bangkok (or Thailand in general) because the people here know that tourists have much money and they want a piece of the pie. Understandable though, when you see how some of them live.

But I’d never say the people in Thailand are just nice because they want to sell you something. Thailand is called ‘the land of the thousand smiles’ and I can see why. People are smiling at anytime. Some of them look poor and pitiable but it seems like they’re happy. We bought some watermelon from that lady that had a small fruit stand beside the road and she looked so happy with what she was doing. Maybe they have a different view of life then we do. They live for the moment and enjoy the people surrounding them. And I think western people could learn from that. Just being open and nice with each other and respect everyone could make a huge difference in quality of life and may lead to great new things.

Temples

We actually didn’t visit the great palace after all because it was a very hot day and we just came to Thailand so we weren’t used to the climate, yet. We visited one of the many buddhist temples you find in Bangkok, though. Most of them are definitely worth a look but as it can get quite expensive to visit too many of them (and maybe a bit boring after a while, as well) I suggest to google for pictures of the temples and choose the ones you like the most or check tripAdviser for example. Of course peoples opinions are different but maybe you look for the most recommended ones. I actually was pretty angry about the fact that we had to pay to visit one of those temples because I thought a holy buddhist place that exists like hundreds and thousands of years should not be abused as a way to make money out of tourism. But then I saw a little sign that said that Thai people (who actually come to the temples to pray and practice their religion) can enter it for free and of course the staff that cleans the place or watches after the tourist’s behavior have to get paid, too. So I think that’s quite reasonable. By the way: most temples have strict regulations about women’s clothes. While men can pretty much wear what they want, women should hide their backs for example or wear long pants (which is the reason there are so many sellers outside of temples who sell long pants – they know tourists don’t know the rules and don’t bring a long one with them). So be aware of that.

Conclusion

Did I enjoy my stay in Bangkok? Not really. Would I visit Bangkok again? Yes! And here’s why: I came from Germany with thoughts about vacation, beaches and hammocks. I was exhausted and just wanted to chill and Bangkok as a giant city maybe wasn’t the best destination in that case. I also had like 2 days to explore Bangkok because as I mentioned the jet lag hit us quite hard and you definitely gonna need more time or even more visits to see everything this city has to offer. What we saw was like the everyday life of the underclass and very much rubble and ruins – which is pretty interesting, don’t get me wrong here! But as I said, it wasn’t what I was expecting before or what I wanted to see in the beginning of my chill out vacation. Bangkok is crowded, loud and busy. So my tip for everyone visiting Bangkok is to be aware of what you’re going to experience and prepare your mind for that. Because one word is definitely suitable to discribe Bangkok – diversity.

We left Bangkok on 31/08/18. We took a 1 ½ hour flight to Krabi International Airport that we booked over the Internet some days ago for around 30€ (I had no idea how cheap flying could be!). And so we arrived in Ao Nang, Krabi…

To be continued in the next blogpost!

Destinations

Höllentalklamm (Bavaria, Germany)


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In case you want to see more: I documented most parts of the day in my Instagram Story and saved it to my Highlights: @martinklengel

I recently visited the south of Germany. I stayed in the middle of nature at a campsite which is located only 9 kilometers from the Austrian border. You wake up surrounded by mountains, the chirping of birds and splashing of the Isar, which is the river that comes from the Alps and flows across Bavaria. Living in the western part of Germany, I have never seen such beautiful and untamed nature. It was beautiful!

But one of the best parts of the trip was our visit of the Höllentalklamm. The Höllental (english: Hell Valley) is one of the routes you could possibly take if you want to make it up to the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain. Well, we actually didn’t want to climb the Zugspitze, we were there to visit the Klamm – the best translation for that word would be canyon, I guess. It all starts with a mountain which is high enough to have glaciers on top. The ice is melting and forms a river that flows down the mountain. In many thousands of years the water carries off rock and digs into the mountain. That way you are able to follow the path of the river with the mountain on your left and on your right that towers high in the sky.

Of course you cant just walk through the river. It is so strong that you wouldn’t even be able to stay on your feet, let alone you walk against the flow. Mother nature is incredibly powerful and people die every year because they mess with her. The touristic development of the Höllentalklamm took place from 1902 to 1905. Before 1902 the Höllental was significant because of it’s iron ore deposits. You could learn a lot about the history of the Klamm by visiting the Höllentalklamm museum that is located right before you start to walk the path through.

I didn’t expect the way to be that wet and rough to be honest. I took my DSLR with me but had nothing to cover it from the water splashing from above and a rainproof jacket and waterproof shoes would have been useful as well. The path built from 1902 to 1905 is a mixture of tunnels and stairs that have been hewn into the mountain. The river flows on your left only a few meters below you but water runs down from above as well, as I just said. The ground is slippery and the tunnels are sparsely lit, so you have to pay attention to every step you take.

After a while the path finishes in a beautiful valley. The river is calm there and because you just went through that dark canyon whose bottom the sun can not reach it feels like the calm after a really heavy and dark storm. Awesome feeling! During our stop at this oasis we talked to a man who knew the region quite well. He told us that we could take three different paths from there: the same path we came, a quite long path across the mountain and through the forest or we could cross the river at this point and take the so called Stangensteig. Since we wanted to see something new we didn’t want to go back and the second path wouldn’t have led us to Hammersbach (the place where we parked our car) we decided to choose the third option… and we did not regret!

The path was way more dangerous the the path we came. There were some stairs here and there as well, but no railing and it was very narrow so we had to be way more careful then before. Most time you really only climb over huge boulders and you often think you’ve accidentally left the path and climb through undeveloped areas of the mountain. If you fall on the way we came you maybe hurt yourself a little bit because you’re surrounded by stone. If you trip and fall on your way over the Stangensteig there’s a pretty high chance of falling back down to the bottom of the Klamm on your left and there’s no way anyone could possibly survive that.

After some time we came to a bridge called the Eiserne Brücke (eng.: iron bridge). If you payed attention while reading this, you understood that we entered the Klamm and had the river to our left until we crossed it and took the Stangensteig in the opposite direction. The Eiseren Brücke crosses the river again but way higher above. We stopped in the middle of the bridge and looked down where we saw the path we first came like 20 meters below us and even further down the river. WHAT A VIEW! Standing up there and thinking about how we strained the way down there only like two hours ago was an indescribable feeling.

The path guided us out of the valley and – again – higher up the mountain. From here, the Klamm to our right and Garmisch-Partenkirchen (the closest city to the Höllentalklamm) in front of us, we had an awesome view! No words needed, just look at this.

From there on we walked through a forest down the mountain until we came out where we started. All in all it took us like six or seven hours to came back to where we parked our car and it was an amazing experience. If you ever visit the south of Germany somewhere near ht eZugspitze or cities like Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Mittenwald I definitely recommend visiting the Höllentalklamm or any other Klamm. This natural spectacle should not be missed.

(This map shows our way through the Höllentalklamm.)
Travel Tips

Packing Correctly


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Anika is in Alaska right now.

Yeah, you read correctly. Only a month before we start our trip to Asia she flew to the complete opposite side of the earth. It took her 22 hours, three planes and a 300$ backpack, lost by the airline, that – thank god – reappeared two days later to get there.
“How is she even able to afford this” you ask? Well.. she won the trip! On television! In a TV show! And I’m really jealous right now 😂

Make sure you definitely go check out her personal instagram account CrazyLionHair. She posts pictures and videos of her trip in her story so stay tuned… as well as you stay tuned to this blog of course 😇
  https://www.instagram.com/crazylionhair/

Now let’s move on to today’s topic…

…and of course you already read the title: Packing your backpack correctly for your destination is one of the most important things and one of those things that can go terribly wrong even before you start your trip!

So we have a quite interesting constellation here that you can benefit from. What I mean by that? Anika is very experienced with traveling around the world to very different locations in terms of climate but she also is a person who sometimes just goes for things and doesn’t spend too much time on planning everything. On the other side there’s me. Most of my travel experience comes from going to places relatively close to where I live for vacation with family or friends. Furthermore I know myself good enough to know that I’m a last-minute-packer. And that is my first tip for you: Know yourself and the typical mistakes you make and try to avoid them!

In my case that means I started to write a packing list a whole month before the start of our trip. I have noticed that when I’m on my way I often think “Oh hey, I need this in Asia” but when I’m home I totally forget to write those things down. So I started my list on Google Keep. I used this app for quite a long time and it’s perfect for taking cloud based notes. That way I’m able to put things on my lists whenever and wherever something comes on my mind.


 

This is what your setup may look like. As you can see I splitted up my lists into different categories. If you’re a girl or a very fashion-conscious kind of dude you may create a list for clothings, too. I’m more the “on-top-of-the-pile”-kinda guy 😅 Perhaps you wanna create another list for things you have to buy before you can pack them. This can be a good idea if you’re that type of person that sets important things aside and in the end hasn’t enough time to get them in time. Of course you can use any cloud based app you like but I can definitely recommend Google Keep as it saves every little step you take and no point on your list gets lost if the app crashes or something.

Of course the things you have to pack depend on the destination you travel to. That applies to clothing as well as it applies to the utilities you need. If you go to a cold area you need a thick and warm sleeping bag that warms you up at night. On the downside those are heavy and take much space in your backpack. You don’t have this problem if you travel to the warmer places on earth. Clothes made of less fabric and sleeping bags that weigh 200 grams. So another important thing is to inform yourself about the area you plan to visit. Look it up on the internet, there are guides for almost every single country in the world. What you have to keep in mind for specific reasons, what you should avoid and what you have to bring. In some countries driving around in the city by cab is a great and cheap way to see all the different shades of that city really fast. In some other countries cab drivers try to put you over the barrel. So knowing where you are going to and planning the trip like “I’m not going to do that, but I will have to try this instead…” is a great way to get the most out of your trip!

Those are things you have to keep in mind before you start packing and because there are so many things to keep in mind packing lists you write and extend over weeks are a great way to make sure you don’t forget a single thing. Because you will forget things if you pack last minute, trust me on that. It’s a pain in the ass if you’re on vacation and suddenly notice you forgot to bring your styling product… This scenario gets 100 times worse if you’re not just at the beach for a week but 3 month on a trip through a country and expose your fuzzy hair to the locals. Horror right?

So all in all: plan your packing and start early enough. This prevents frustration and is one more step towards a perfect trip around the world 😊

Status Update (Asia)

The Decision


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Okay, I’ll give you a short excerpt.

I went to design school till October 2017. This is where my journey in Design first startet and I was actually pretty fast learning. In my 2nd course I met soo many new interesting people that were really good with this design stuff and everything but there was that one girl in particular… Hair and passion like fire, as well a great designer and photographer and HELLA cute. We didn’t talk at all that semester but met again in my 3rd course – and thank god for that! Because we startet talking, liking each other and became friends… good friends… and then started dating. We share the same interests and understand each other in a way I can’t even put into words. Relationship goals, huh?

Both our times at the design school we met came to an end. So what’s next? Go to another school to learn more? Start to work on our brand? We made a decision. We wanted to travel and collect those kind of experiences that no school in this world can give you. Collect memories. Collect moments. We are young and should do this as long as we can because the time to do what you want to do is always RIGHT NOW!

That decision was made about 6 month ago from now. And we are actually doing it! At the end of may we are going to Bangkok, Thailand and we are planning to travel Asia… and that’s actually everything we know about our trip till today. We start in Thailand and will see where the wind may carry us. And I invite you to take part on our journey through this Blog. Prepare for status updates, travel tips, awesome photos and experience reports.

I hope you like what you see and if you do it would really mean the world to me if you would visit my Instagram page and just take a look at this website from time to time. Have a great day and always live life to the fullest because you only have that one shot (pun intended) 📸🤗

PS: If you didn’t recognize my girlfriend definitely go check her out:
http://www.anikakasoiz.com