Paradise on Earth, Phi Phi Island
Sunday, 15 May 2011 12:02
DSC_0612The day comes, I go away,

By the smell of the fishing nets just came out from the sea.
That island is yours, this island is mine,
Following the shearwaters.

There are worlds, that you can not imagine;
Flowers bloom noisily;
Fume comes out noisily from the ground.

Above all seagulls, above all seagulls,
On every feathers' there is another haste!...

The day comes, blue up to my head;
The day comes, sun up to my head;
The day comes, like insane...

Orhan VELİ


DSC_0625We had to come back to Bangkok after our Vietnamese visa application in Cambodia was rejected. We wanted to spend the night in Bangkok and head to Malaysia. However there was a point on the Thailand map that we used to see the photos but we didn't have the chance to see, Phi Phi Island, with its other name Koh Phi Phi. We thought that this island can be conisdered to be on the way to Malaysia and we headed there. After an 18 hours of bus and ferry journey we got to this tropical island. In fact this island consists of two main islands which are Phi Phi Don and Phi Phi Lee also including more smaller islands around. We understood what kind of place we were traveling while we were on the ferry from Krabi to Phi Phi. The islands covered with jungle had white sand beaches as they meet with the Andaman Sea's water they created a scenery that I used to see on the paintings before.

DSC_0535The island didn't used to be popular before, since the movie produced in 2000, "the Beach" which Leonardo DiCaprio casted made it famous and commercial so on. On the other hand after this movie the discussions had satrted about environment damages made by the film company. It is not certain if the company had destroyed something but it is for sure the tsunami in 2004 made the most damage on the island including the structures and the people. After this natural disaster one of the highest point in the island was prepared as evacuation site in case of a tsunami. For normal days this area is used as viewpoint where there is a very nice view of the island and its beaches. There are several beaches on the island and the width of the beaches vary so much in the day and night time. As we saw the beach where we swam in the day we thought we were in a different place but we realized this was a result of ebb and tide. I would not expect the sea get that further because of this event. Even the boats inside the sea stuck on the sand and people got chance to have a walk on the place where they swam in the morning.

DSC_0515We spent our one day by traveling the islands around the main islands. Among these Phi Phi Ley island and its Maya Bay is the most beautiful one. I always thought these kind of places can be available only on postcards but not in real. Apparently I failed. This bay has a stunning view and it is real. Unfortunately we reached to this bay by swimming from our boat so we couldn't take photos. There are much more islands around and all day we traveled between them. Between these islands there are plenty of diving points as we don't have a diving experience we could only have snorkelling. After the scenery in these places we immediately decided to have a diving education. We asked for the courses but it would crash our budget so we decided to have it as we go back to Istanbul.
We could stay for a long time in this island where I can define as a paradise on earth but there are more islands, countries even continents that needs to traveled on the planet. After 3 nights on the island we ended our Thailand trip and headed to Penang city of Malaysia. We came into a different culture again. Let's see what is waiting for us in Malaysia...


The world is a tale, Chiang Mai
Sunday, 10 April 2011 17:41
IMG_7494"The only thing that people are afraid was to learn in this world. They were sleepless getting afraid of learning pain, thirst, hunger and sadness, that's why they were seeking for more comfortable beds, more tasty foods and more cheerful friends. This regardness was so high that they built a kingdom of gold and silver, joy and party, taste and desire and didn't let sadness and misery get into their hearts. Whereas Uzun İhsan Efendi frequently used to tell being a witness to the world was a real worship. Everyone in the world should have read the world in a way. Qur'an was an example how the prophet read the world and everyone following him should read the world as he did, record their witnesses and pass these information to others. The only way to witness the world was not else than adventure itself. The things that are leaved, seen and learnt might have been sad but the adventure was a blessing for human being. Because the biggest happiness in world was to witness the world."

IMG_7581I had a look at the corridor raising my head up from the bed, everyone in the train already slept. Instead I was reading İhsan Oktay Anar's famous novel which is translated into more than 20 languages, got lost in the lines above and forgot where I was. I got out of my dreams, the old stone streets of Istanbul and came back to north Thailand, to the train I was traveling with. The train we got on in Bangkok arrived Chiang Mai around 11 AM. Chiang Mai was established 700 years ago. It includes more than 300 temples and known as the base of north Thailand which is full of forests. Many travelers or tourists come here to attend meditation classes, Thai cooking classes or trekking groups. We found a peaceful and much more cheaper life than the well-known south coasts of Thailand. Is this also a reason for the western guys who left their cities far far away, came here, settled down after marrying Thai women and started a brand new life here ?

IMG_7459We decided to spend our time around the city since we already spent time with elephant tours and trekking in the forests before in south China and Nepal. The old city which is the middle of the city and surrounded by little made-up lakes hosts many temples. It is ordinary to see the well-known items of Thai Buddhism and monks with their orange clothings. One evening, We witnessed an interesting rituel while wandering among these temples while the sun was about to set. We were walking in the garden of Wat Phra Singh which is one of most famous temples in the city when we saw hundreds of young monks stepping into the main building of the temple. They were getting into the temple in a long line and staring at us curiously like the way we stare at them. We decided to join them and headed into the temple. The rituel was about to start in the temple. Young monks with the age between 8 to 16 (or monkies, as we call them) sat down line by line and prayed. We left the temple right before them and the curious eyes were still staring at us...
IMG_7490The most known temple of Chiang Mai is located on a hill in the outskirts of the city and is known as Doi Suthep. In order to reach the temple, we had to climb long stairs with long dragon figures in each side. At the end of climbing little Thai girls met us dancing. We had to close our eyes when we got into the actual complex at the end of the courtyard because it was impossible to keep them open while looking at the bright yellow figures of Buddha and other structures. In the courtyard, there were many people praying in front of the Buddha images or circumbulating around the tower in the middle of the courtyard with flowers in their hands. There were many different Buddha images around. We learnt the reason for this afterwards. There was a different Buddha figure for each day of the week and monks were meditating according to the
image of that day.

P1020528It is possible to say that we had a positive opinion about Chiang Mai. We enjoyed Bangkok a lot especially after India. We also liked Chiang Mai with its peaceful life with helpful locals, narrow streets where travelers wander with scooters like us and night life full of guitar melodies that can be heard in many little bars. We even think that it is a nice city to live. The German and Chinese friends of ours who joined us in Chiang Mai also have similar thoughts so it is possible to say that most people visiting the city feels the same. Similarly Pai, the little laid-back city which is 135 kilometers away and on the northwest of Chiang Mai is also nice. Pai is especially popular among the westerners who are seeking a peaceful life and a colorful night life but it is not easy to reach this little city. There are many bends to pass in the middle of forests and these bends may kill your all good feelings. Hence Pai may not be a good place to live. It is better to live in Chiang Mai.

IMG_7564Our actual plan after leaving Chiang Mai was to move northeast and cross the Mekong River to reach Laos but after some research we learnt that an entry visa is not provided to Turkish citizens in the border although most other nations are provided. That's why we had to change our plans and we returned to Bangkok to visit the Laos embassy. There were no security checks or questions while we enter the embassy building. We directly went to the visa counter and obtained a visa in a few hours. Cambodia embassy was just next to Laos one so we decided to apply for Cambodian visa as well. In fact we could get a visa in the border but no need to risk it. Our Cambodian visa was ready in 15 minutes. After obtaining two visas same day, we visited Vietnam embassy in the afternoon but the third visa application was not accepted. Obtaining Vietnam visa seems to be more complex. We decided to retry it in the capital of Laos, Vientiane and we hit on the road again to go to Nong Khai which is the last Thai city before the border. We will be crossing the Mekong river which defines most part of the border between Thailand and Laos. Our train journeys in Thailand were much more comfortable before but this one is highly uncomfortable. The windows are open but the heat is still effective. Some people are sitting on the floor which makes us feel like in India but this train is much cleaner. We plan to arrive Nong Khai early in the morning and then cross the border through the Thai-Lao friendship bridge to reach Vientaine, the capital city of Laos.

"Uzun İhsan Efendi was thinking about the thoughts on dreams and about to end up in classical but always new result when the door was nearly broken by the janizaries : The world is a dream. Yes, world... Ah! Yes, the world is a tale."
PS : There was a fire in our train after a few hours I wrote these words, around 4 AM in the morning. We woke up in a panic and couldn't understand anything. Then a Thai guy has came by us and said "Fire! Fire !" and we left the train. Was that also a part of the tale ? Fortunately it was a little fire, so we got on the train again and went back to our sleep and dreams.
"The only thing that people are afraid was to learn in this world. They were sleepless getting afraid of learning pain,

thirst, hunger and sadness, that's why they were seeking for more comfortable beds, more tasty foods and more cheerful

friends. This regardness was so high that they built a kingdom of gold and silver, joy and party, taste and desire and

didn't let sadness and misery get into their hearts. Whereas Uzun İhsan Efendi frequently used to tell being a witness to

the world was a real worship. Everyone in the world should have read the world in a way. Qur'an was an example how the

prophet read the world and everyone following him should read the world as he did, record their witnesses and pass these

information to others. The only way to witness the world was not else than adventure itself. The things that are leaved,

seen and learnt might have been sad but the adventure was a blessing for human being. Because the biggest happiness in

world was to witness the world."
City of Angels, Bangkok
Thursday, 07 April 2011 10:37
* By the Head Doctor...
The rain drops were striking on my hand grabbing the pickup's iron bar. I was holding İsmail's nape with my other hand to protect him from the rain. And he was trying to do the same to Özcan as much as he can. The sky was completely dark, only light source was the cars on the road and the lightnings. As I could open my eyes barely I attended on the eternal darkness through coconut trees. We were mumbling Kazım Koyuncu's emotional song "Gelevera Deresi". The songs for finishing but the road was not. We were trying to catch the Bangkok train on the back side of a Thai family's pickup although we knew there were no available tickets for the train. There was something occasionally I realized and made me smile. Aren't I supposed to be at my clinic in İstanbul?

IMG_7053I realized that the first time I was in abroad as I saw the officials around at Abu-Dhabi where I had a connection flight. After 6 hours at Abu-Dhabi international airport where I mostly spend time by sleeping another 6 hours of flight took me to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport. It was really such a big airport. A new country, different culture, a language that I hear the first time in my life and me. We were tete a tete. I passed the border without any problem and I headed to the exit B as we agreed before with İsmail and Özcan to meet. My plane was landed 15 minutes than expected and my buddies were not around. I walked around for a while among curious Thai people glances. There were tour guides trying to help !, the airport officials staring at me and many people holding names on piece of papers but İsmail and Özcan was not there. After 15 minutes of nervous waiting our team appeared with Indian style clothes, bracelets on the arms as well as ear rings on the ears. They were looking around hurried way. After I warned them with my sound, at last we had reached each other. I missed them so much. After we hugged each other for long time immediately we started our common conversations. Their eyes were watching the food bag that I brought from Turkey. The patty of 1 kg survived in few minutes, it could only see the airport. But the baklava (dessert) could stay until we get to hostel. We left from the airport, got the train and the journey of tuk-tuk which is a open taxi was my first step to magical world of Bangkok, "the city of angels".

IMG_7326Bangkok means "City of Angels" in Thai language. In fact it has a very long name (Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Yuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit). This city, the capital of Thai Kingdom which used to be Siam Kingdom really deserve its name. It is possible to see the blue-red Thai flag and the yellow royal flag which has dynasty's signs on it. And the siam cats are running around in the streets which are sold from high prices at pet shops in Turkey.

IMG_7318King 9. Rama with his real name Bhumibol Adulyadej had came to the throne at the age of 19 and still there although 65 years has passed. It is impossible not to see the king's and his family's pictures in every corner of the city. At the first day of my arrival to Bangkok I witnessed to the reds protests against royal who also rebelled last year. It has just been a year that this group made a chaos and they were having meeting in such a free way, I was so surprised with this. There were neither polices with their big shields nor panzers. The event was going on like festival. It was kind of a scene that we miss in my democratic country. And we became the part of this meeting for a moment and we arrived in Khao San Road where we can call it İstiklal Street in İstanbul. There is life in this street where there are foreigners more than Thais. The first day it was difficult to get used to the spicy smell of street food but after some days this smell became the part of my Thailand travel. But anyway they couldn't make me eat from local foods. Khaosan's difference, crowd, colours and musics were so attractive to me that even it would be enough to walk on this street with my fellows to satisfy me. Apperantly, we haven't only been in this street.

IMG_7027The next day after a good slepp we left from our hostel which was well protected from architectural side. It was my first stay at a hostel but it was not much for a person who spent his years in the school and university dorms. We were going to famous open market Chatuchak. We got one of the Cabs which were in pink, green, purple, blue and red colours and all Toyota Corolla brand. Chatuchak is quite big market that you can find anything in. It is possible to get lost and you can see both foreigners and local people. You will not be able to see this interesting place's pictures as we forgot to take the camera's battery with us that day. We were not interested that much because we all don't like shopping. But I am sure if we could take our mothers here they would spend hours and fill their bags.Grand Palace was our other point in our Bangkok trip. This palace which is by the Chao Phraya river hosted the dynasty for many years. Although the actual king is not living here many official ceremonies are held in this marvelous palace. As we approached to the palace an old man with smiling face told us that the queen was at the palace that is why visitors could not get in the palace. He also told that he could provide us other sightseeings and even he gave many sincere tips about the city. But we were almost sure this was a common cheating method in Bangkok after we learned it was called as "gem scam". We kindly refused this old man's offer in Turkish style and we started our Grand palace trip.
The palace has many Buddhism related buildings where mostly golden material is used. The palace also owns a temple which has an "emerald buddha" inside. Apart from these there are many structures including magnificent and nervous looking palace guard statues, domes from the golden and half human half bird Kinorn statue. Before our Koh Samui journey we also had a glance to Bangkok's famous night life which is mostly told as not experienced by many visitors but somehow everbody has knowledge about. The scenery was disturbing more than entertaining. Although the limits of freedom deserve an appreciate we have also have limits.
Storm in Paradise, Koh Samui

IMG_7101The first journey would start by a night train to Surat Thani and would be followed by Koh Samui journey. We managed to get rid of from several cheatings while reaching to the train and got our places in the air conditioned and sleeper carrier. After a 11 hour train journey and 45 minutes of bus and catamaran journeys we were in natural beauty of Koh Samui island. It was time to see the gorgeous beaches after settling in a stylish hostel at Lamai Beach. This long and golden sand beach was surrounded by coconut trees. We were thinking that we came in high season but the beach was not crowded indeed. Particularly comparing to Konyaaltı Beach in Turkey where we are familiar, it was not crowded. Due to the sandy base the sea was not clear but so clean. The funny day we had in the first day was our only day it didn't rain. Our first night was at the strange streets of Lamai (I believe it would be weird to explain the situation) and the following day there was storm in Koh Samui. As I had limited days the storm and the big waves would not be an obstacle for us for getting in the sea. Sometimes I felt like breakwater and sometimes a whale came to the cost, we had a lot fun with İsmail and Özcan under the rain between the big waves. Freedom was inside my bones. Any problem any worries were away from my mind. Anyway, aren't I supposed to be at the clinic at this hour of the day?
IMG_7169We spent the second night at Chaweng beach by suggestion of our Malaysian friends we met at the hostel. In the beginning we didn't prefer to stay in this beach but after I have seen its night life I regreted honestly. The number of places to eat and drink, quality of entertainment places, and crowded made us here more fancy than Lamai. The island's biggest and most famous open air night club "Green Mango" was a a nice place. All people were getting fun including us by help of Thai beers Chang and Singha. Unfortunately at the end of the night most of the middle aged European men were holding a Thai's hand and leaving the club which is so common in Thailand. The final of these fun was should be ended with food as usual. We ended up in front of a Turkish Kebap restaurant where there is a Turkish flag on it. Among other local people a Turkish guy welcomed us very kindly. During our conversation Mehmet put some words in his phrases reminding us he is from Turkey. He told us he couldn't leave from the island last three years and he was happy there. Although he was missing and asking about the Turkey before he was hitting on Thai prostitute on the street.

The rain became a problem for attractions in Koh Samui but we managed to had fun anyway. We were devoid of saphari with elephants, waterfall trips and Anthong natural park trip but we couldn't skip something, Thai massage. We were in Thailand and we had to experience this so we had a massage by three old woman who are locals of the island. They made us lie alongside and they stepped on us that we couldn't stop laughing as we saw each of us situation during this hurting massage. During my Thailand trip my physical appearance and belly was noticed by many Thai people who are not familiar with this. Even sometimes they used to touched my belly and laugh. Once a young seller compared me with "big buddha". I am lucky that I didn't have to hurt anybody because of this.

IMG_7198The storm didn't pause in Koh Samui and we wanted to go back to Bangkok. All the travel agents and the information office in train station had the same answer; there were no tickets available. There were no tickets for bus and even planes. But başkatürlübirşey spirit made us urge our faith. There were no taxi, tuk-tuk or bus when our ferry arrived to Don Sak pier. We were just under the huge storm and rain with our bags. After Özcan tried to hitchike for a few times, a pickup with a Thai family stopped to pick us up. But there was a little problem, we had to go all the 60 kilometres way on the back side of the pickup which was open and the rain was still going on. İsmail and Özcan had a look at me thinking that I would reject but they were wrong. I jumped on the back side of the pickup, ok no no, they helped me get on because of my huge body. I had an unforgettable trip on the back of the pickup for 40 minutes under the huge rain and in the dark roads. Songs and memories were not enough to complete the trip. But I was not complaining. The driver with the huge heart took us to Surat Thani train station. Moreover he misunderstood us and wanted to give us some money when we offered to pay him some money. We could only thank him in Thai style, by putting our palms together and bend. I went to the counter and asked for tickets while Özcan and İsmail were still thanking the driver. All the fields were full with 0 except the bottom one on the screen which is totally in Thai. And the only non-zero field was the one we were looking for. The train would take off at midnight but it was fine for us. Finally we got on the train after eating something in Family Mart and spending time watching people in the train station. This was the final of our Koh Samui trip, we were back to beautiful Bangkok in the morning.

IMG_7255My Thailand trip was coming to an end and I was feeling bad that it was ending. We spent the last days in Bangkok by having river cruises by longtail boats, wandering around Khao San and shopping in the electronical market. I noticed my childish happiness especially during the rides on the tuk-tuks. We met the old and actual side of Bangkok during the river cruise. The lives in the houses on the water which look like to be abandoned any second and the ladies trying to earn money on floating market were more than photographic instances for us anymore. Seeing the both faces of the city was a way to notice  the realities.

Before the end my words, I would like to add a few more. These words are for İsmail and Özcan's families. Both are fine, they are in good health. I had a checkup on them as well as providing some more medicine. When they are back, you will notice that they didn't change a lot. Of course they have some changes in their minds but they are same in general. There isn't so much time left for their return so let's be patient some more.
İsmail and Özcan, thousands of thanks for encouraging me for this trip which I won't forget forever, helping me forget all my troubles during the days we spent together and most important being my friend. And from now on, I know that there is something very important that really makes us so happy, being on the roads...
Aycan Sencer

PS by Başka Türlü Bir Şey :  Spending time together again on the otherside of the world was nicer and more meaningful then traveling in Thailand dear Aycan. Hope to see you soon in another part of the world. As you know, the important is to eat...well, we mean to be on the road...