In our recent trip i was debating whether i should take my full blown camera gear with me. Im no fan of carrying excessive weight when travelling for pleasure. My dissatisfaction is more amplified when the added weight is costly making me worrisome that it may get lost, destroyed or stolen. Add to this the fact that a big part of the trip involves a lot of walking around and almost a full day of trekking and the decision to “gear up” becomes much more difficult. However, armed with good health and decent strength, a new smaller carry bag and a hundred euros one-time specialised travel insurance the gear became less of a burden. More importantly however, the deciding factor was the prospect of taking amazing photos at one of the most amazing regions on earth. Armed with excitement and curiosity we set wings for Thailand, Laos, Cambodia
Thailand is a beautiful and diverse country. It combines modern with traditional, rich with poor, peace with violence. A commonality however is happiness and politeness. People were always smiley and tried their best to help you; whether you asked for instructions or a ride from our camp to Bangkok. We did indeed live at a Muay Thai training camp. Part of the whole Thailand experience was to train Muay Thai in Thailand. The trip was after all organised by our Muay Thai Kru (teacher) here in Cyprus. Considering how kind and polite people are in Thailand, its kind of hard to associate them with a violent sport like Muay Thai. Being a traditional martial art however, we learned that Muay Thai was more than a sport. Its a way of living since its a good way to earn some cash to support one’s self and family. So it was only natural to go see Muay Thai fights at the most legendary fighting arena; the Lumpinee stadium.
Ayutthaya is an old city in Thailand. It was funded in 1350 before being destroyed in 1700 by the Burmese army. Today, the ruins are recognised internationally as a UNESCO World heritage site.
During the days we traveled around the area and during the night we relaxed in Bangkok. Funny city, Bangkok is. It offers everything to everyone. Literally everything; from ready to eat scorpions-on-a-stick to liquor on the go, anything one may ask is to be found.
While the rest of the group stayed in Thailand, myself and my wife Despina opted to travel around the area. After all, how many times in our life would we have the chance to travel to this part of the world. So after a good four days in Thailand, we left for Laos and the city of Luang Prabang. The city was the former capital of the kingdom and is today proclaimed a UNESCO world heritage site. It is intersected by the Mekong river and has a total population of just fifty thousand people. During the night, the main road is transformed to a night market with locals selling food, souvenirs and clothes while early in the morning, before sunrise, it is crowded by locals offering alms to the monks. Having three days to spend in Laos, we also chose to do a cultural, seven hour trekking around the mountains and through villages, which included a home stay at one of the villages for the night, and visitation to the Kuang Si waterfalls with an optional elephant ride around them. The return trip involved four hour canoeing back to Luang Prabang.
Following Laos, we headed to Cambodia and Siem Reap, a popular resort town in northwest Cambodia and getaway to bayon Angkor region. Having just a day and a half, we spent it visiting the most popular temples in Angkor like Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Baphuon and Bayon temples. The day begun early at 4 AM in order to be at the temples early. After a lot of walking around the temples and being drenched by the pouring rain, around 3 PM we left the temples and drove 1,5 hours away to visit the floating villages, which as the name implies are flooded villages built around the Tonle Sap lave which overflows and floods the area around it with waters as high as 10 meters in height.
Our trip concluded back in Thailand. We traveled straight back from Cambodia, to Phuket where we spent the remaining two days visiting the scenic area and the small islands around it during the day and relaxing during the night while recovering from the crazy days in Laos and Cambodia.