RSS feed

LIKE THIS WEBSITE?

So send me few $$ I will use toward the hosting of the blog. Thanks! Via Paypal.
GET UPDATES ON
EnglishFrenchGermanItalianPortugueseRussianSpanish

ABOUT THIS BLOG

In the summer of 2009, Nicolas Rapp decided to take a break from his Art Director job at The Associated Press to attempt a one-year overland travel around the world in a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser. He was back in New York in February 2011 after traveling 15 months and 37,000 miles.

Visited countries

Calendar

October 2021
M T W T F S S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

MONTHLY ARCHIVES

THE ROUTE

Click to see the map




 









  • Visiting Thailand ancient capitals and many Buddhas

    Posted on November 26th, 2010 Nicolas No comments
    Leaving after camping in the Sukhothai ruins.

    Leaving after camping in the Sukhothai ruins.

    We leave Phnom Penh and go south-west toward the coast and the Bokor national Park. The hope is to camp up there. The roads are OK, but some portions are still under construction and we have to drive on gravels for long stretches.

    Some kind of ceremony in a town we cross. Giants asking for money.

    Some kind of ceremony in a town we cross. Giants asking for money.

    When we arrive at the entrance of the park, the authorities deny us entry, the road being unfinished. After repairing a puncture due to a sharp rock, we decide to find a place on the coast to stay for the night. We are welcomed by friendly inhabitants of Kep, only 25 miles to the Vietnam border.

    Fixing the tire. As long as it is not raining, we are OK.

    Fixing the tire. As long as it is not raining, we are OK. (Photo: Vikas)

    Vikas cook us some Thai food and we are able to eat before the rain comes. In the morning, we follow the coast due north-west which will eventually bring us back to Thailand in a few days.

    Life is centered on the river in this coastal town.

    Life is centered on the river in this coastal town.

    Bread is delivered to our host in Kep. (Photo: Vikas)

    Bread is delivered to our host in Kep. (Photo: Vikas)

    We make another stop in Sihanoukville where we spend the night in a guest house (Seabreeze Guest house, recommended). The landscape along the road is not as interesting as in the center of the country where we could witness the work of farmers. We try the local food several times during this trip, which is less spicy and sweeter than the Thai food but still quite interesting. One dish I enjoyed was the Loc Lac, stir fried cubed beef with red onions dipped in a sauce consisting of lime juice and black pepper.

    Vehicle of this type we will see a lot in Cambodia. Basically it is an engine on a wooden frame.

    Vehicle of this type we will see a lot in Cambodia. Basically it is an engine on a wooden frame.

    Finally, after crossing some low mountains, we are back at the border with Thailand. Everything goes smoothly there, and after one hour we are on the other side, trying to find a place to stay on the beach.

    Arguing about some paper I don’t think I need. And yes, I do need it. (Photo: Vikas)

    Arguing about some paper I don’t think I need. And yes, I do need it. (Photo: Vikas)

    Somewhere around Laem Klat we find the perfect spot, and we take advantage of the few shacks dotting the beach to have food and enjoy a shower in the morning.

    Camping on the beach. No rain and a good night of sleep. (Photo: Vikas)

    Camping on the beach. No rain and a good night of sleep. (Photo: Vikas)

    A long day of driving brings us back to Bangkok, and the following day Vikas is flying back to Mumbai. The routine continues for me, and I replenish my food reserves in the city. Later in the day, I go pick up Kathryn, who I used to work with in New York few years back. As Vikas, she will spend a week with me while I am travelling in northern Thailand. I go get her at the Bangkok airport, and leave immediately for Ayuthaya, a city one hundred kilometers north of Bangkok.

    Buddha head embedded in roots at Wat Phra Mahathat, Ayuthaya.

    Buddha head embedded in roots at Wat Phra Mahathat, Ayuthaya.

    The former royal capital has many temples and palaces, and even if the place is quite popular among tourists, it does not feel overcrowded when you visit the many sites. The city grew around the ruins, so unlike Angkor Wat, the landscape you experience when walking from location to location is quite urban. The old city enclosing most of the ruins is an island located at the confluence of three rivers.

    The largest temple in Ayuthaya - Wat Phra Si Sanphet – features three towers (chedi) build in the 14 century.

    The largest temple in Ayuthaya - Wat Phra Si Sanphet – features three towers (chedi) build in the 14th century.

    In the last few weeks, I saw a lot of Buddhas, but it was only the beginning, as I was about to discover. In a sanctuary hall, we discovered one of Thailand’s biggest bronze specimens, 56-feet high.

    A giant Buddha in Wihaan Mongkhon Bophit.

    A giant Buddha in Wihaan Mongkhon Bophit.

    What is interesting about the hall housing the Buddha is that the Burmese government donated a huge amount of money in the ‘50s for its restoration. In fact, they were trying to repair the damage caused by the country army when the city was sacked 200 years earlier. Still, you don’t see such gesture frequently.

    A Thai "Chedi" is a kind of pagoda. It has always the form of a lotus which symbolizes the enlightenment.

    A Thai "Chedi" is a kind of pagoda. It has always the form of a lotus which symbolizes the enlightenment.

    Also worth noticing is the Wat Phanan Choeng, a modern temple on the other side of the river. You take a small boat to get there, and can observe people feeding the fishes around the temple.

    Taking the boat to the Wat Phanan Choeng.

    Taking the boat to the Wat Phanan Choeng.

    We stay two nights in town, on the front yard of the Baan Lotus guest house (US$6 a night, recommended). It is nice there, and there are showers. I am sure Kathryn appreciates the comfort…

    Inside the Wat Phanan Choeng.

    Inside the Wat Phanan Choeng.

    We leave the city and I have a long day of driving to reach Sukhothai, another ancient capital of Thailand.

    Kathryn is having food in a riverside restaurant.

    Kathryn is having food in a riverside restaurant.

    Guess what. ANOTHER BUDDHA!

    Guess what. ANOTHER BUDDHA!

    There, we arrive as night falls, and we are lucky enough to camp in the middle of the ruins. It is kind of cool to wake up in the middle of this park filled with old temples (Wat) and statues. An interesting detail differentiates the ruins I see here and the one in Angkor, Cambodia. Here, they used bricks almost everywhere, as in Angkor I remember the structures to be built out of sandstone. Also, Hindu temples in Angkor were altered to display images of the Buddha, but with a Hindu revival later on, Buddha imagery were destroyed. Eventually, Buddhism made its return in the 14th century…

    Buddha in one of the largest temple of Sukhothai.

    Buddha in one of the largest temple of Sukhothai.

    All of that is very nice, but we are ready to change thematic after seeing dozens of “Wats”. So we decide we will go in the Lang San natural park next, where we will be able to get a little bit of nature and a cold night. The park is only seventy kilometers from the Myanmar (Burma) border, so an incursion may be possible…

    Locals feeding fishes at a temple. Very spectacular.

    Locals feeding fishes at a temple. Very spectacular.

  • Following the beaches in Malaysia and Thailand

    Posted on November 12th, 2010 Nicolas No comments
    Spending the night on a beach in south Penang.

    Spending the night on a beach in south Penang.

    After a last promenade in Kuala Lumpur, I leave the city. There is a Chinese and Indian area there, but it is quick to go around. Really nothing more impressive than New York City can offer.

    A mix of modernity and tradition in Kuala Lumpur.

    A mix of modernity and tradition in Kuala Lumpur.

    In the northern suburbs, I do some grocery shopping to make sure I have enough food for the upcoming week, and I later stop few miles outside of the city, in Templer Park, to spend the night in the forest.
    Early in the morning I get on the road and drive toward the Island of Penang. It is still sunny, but I know it is going to change and I probably will get a lot of rain once in Thailand.

    In Kuala Lumpur Little India.

    In Kuala Lumpur Little India.

    As I said earlier, the roads are very good in Malaysia, and effortlessly that I put the 200 miles behind. Highway tolls are somewhat more expensive than the previous countries I have been too. I am surprised to see gasoline is in self-service, which – surprisingly enough – I didn’t see since the U.S.

    The road in northern Malaysia.

    The road in northern Malaysia.

    Also I have GPS maps for Malaysia and Thailand, which will make the next weeks a bit easier on the navigation front. Last time I was able to use the technology was in the Arab Emirates.
    In the south of Penang Island, I find a quiet beach and spend the night there. In the morning, I pass the bridge and go back to the Peninsula, then drive north to the Thailand’s border. Everything there is straight forward, and it takes me only one hour to go through the Malaysia and Thailand customs and immigration procedures. The temporary import of the vehicle in Thailand is very easy, and I don’t even have to use my special document (the Carnet de Passage) to go through.

    Flooded road close to the Thailand border.

    Flooded road close to the Thailand border.

    The area around the border has been recently the theater of floods, and the road is sometimes still under the water. Regardless, it is not as bad as I was expecting, and I can put some miles behind. Late in the afternoon, the rain becomes very strong, and early enough I have to stop for the day.

    Too much rain to continue safely.

    Too much rain to continue safely.

    The rain is too sturdy and I can’t cook out, so I go to a roadside restaurant where I get my first Thai meal, which I was looking forward since a long time. Of course it is delicious. I also spend the night on the parking lot and fall asleep as the rain continues to fall.
    In the morning the sun is back and I can leave what turns out to be the city of Phatthalung.

    The Trans World Expedition made it to Thailand after almost 30,000 miles.

    The Trans World Expedition made it to Thailand after almost 30,000 miles.

    I am now going northwest toward Phuket. There, I will visit David who contacted me few months back to invite me to visit the island. Few years back David was also on the road with his family, and visited a lot of the places I have been to. When he arrived in Thailand, he decided he found his paradise and will stay here.
    I arrive in Phuket after a long day of driving and call him from a public phone.

    I saw people transporting pretty much anything during my trip, but this one is a first.

    I saw people transporting pretty much anything during my trip, but this one is a first.

    It turns out that he rents luxury villas in the paradisiacal island, and having one available in the Surin beach area, he invites me to forget my tent for few days and enjoy the huge west coast mansion. Of course, I accept.

    Close to Phuket.

    Close to Phuket.

    Few days with David and his girlfriend.

    Few days with David and his girlfriend.

    I spend three nights there. David takes me out at night, and in the daytime we visit the island or work on the truck. He has an old Land Cruiser, so he takes me out on off-road trails.

    Hitting the trails of Phuket in David old Land Cruiser.

    Hitting the trails of Phuket in David old Land Cruiser.

    The nightlife is famously crazy there, and it is quite a contrast after all the time I spend in Muslim countries. I am not use to drink that much and can’t say I take too much rest. There is a lot of European around, and they are out of their mind, especially in Patong, the sin capital of the Island.

    Night market scenes in Phuket.

    Night market scenes in Phuket.

    Knowing I have a lot of kids following my adventures, I will not post any nightlife pictures on this website; just know that it is pretty alarming.

    Phuket west coast.

    Phuket west coast.

    In the meantime, I get some news from my friend Vikas who I stayed with in Mumbai. He is able to take some time off, and we decide to meet in Bangkok. From there we will drive to neighboring Cambodia and explore the area. It is time to leave my friend David and go back on the road.

    The last beach before the bridge.

    The last beach before the bridge.

    I leave on Thursday morning and drive north. I cross the small mountains dividing the south of the country and reach the east coast.

    Crossing the central mountains.

    Crossing the central mountains.

    After nightfall, it takes me some times to find a good beach where I can camp for the night. Eventually I find the perfect spot north of Chumphon. The temperatures are lower as I go north it seems, which give me some respite as it is easier to sleep.

    Waking up on the beach close to Chumphon.

    Waking up on the beach close to Chumphon.