Prepaid GSM

Sarawak, Brunei, Sabah, Kelantan and Terengganu
Part 4

22- 23.8: Munich -> KL
24.8: KL -> Kuching
25.8: Kuching
26.8: Kuching -> Bako NP
27.8: Bako -> Kuching -> Miri
28.8: Miri -> Mulu NP
29.8: Mulu NP -> Miri
30.8: Miri -> Belaga
31.8: Belaga -> Sibu -> Miri
1.9: Miri -> Bario
2.9: Bario
3.9: Bario -> Brunei
4.9: Brunei ->  Mt Kinabalu NP
5.9: Park HQ -> Laban Rata
6.9: Laban Rata  -> Mt Kinabalu  -> Kota Kinabalu
7.9: Kota Kinabalu -> Kota Belud -> Kota Bharu
8.9: Kota Bharu -> Perhentian 
9.9: Perhentian island
10.9: Perhentian island
11.9: Perhentian  -> Redang
12.9: Redang -> Kuala Terengganu -> KL
13.9: KL ->  Ayutthaya
14.9: Ayutthaya ->  Munich

Continues from Part 3

5.9: Mt Kinabalu NP HQ -> Laban Rata resthouse (3300 m)
Accomodation: heated bed in 10-bed room in Laban Rata resthouse, shared (hot) showers and bathrooms, RM 32.60
Weather: sunny in the morning, then there is a mix of blue sky and clouds; weather improves towards the evening; night with stars

I'm ready with my bags in the Mt Kinabalu NP HQ at about 10:15am. By chance I run into a group of (young) people who also will do the climb. We agree to share the guide. This brings down the cost of guide and transportation to RM 14 per person (70 RM for the guide + 40 RM for the minibus to the Timpohon gate divided by eight).

At the Timpohon gate there is a first checkpoint (we are all wearing ID-badges with our names around the neck), where our names are checked with a list. The climb starts then at 11:10am. The group (five guys, three ladies) is quite fast, with the first climber reaching the Laban Rata resthouse after three hours and the last after 4:20 hours. I reach the resthouse after 3:40 minutes. After that I have three meals (noodle soup, fried rice) in the resthouse restaurant. Food here is relatively expensive, as everything is carried up on the back of porters.

In the evening there is a wonderful sunset and the weather improves even further. I go sleeping at 8pm planning to get up at 3:40 am the next day and start the climb at 4am (I'm planning to reach the summit a bit after 6am - last time I did the climb the sunrise happened at about 6:30am). This way I won't arrive too early on the summit and be stuck freezing in the darkness.

6.9: Laban Rata resthouse (3300 m) -> Mt Kinabalu (4100m) -> Kinabalu NP HQ -> Kota Kinabalu (KK)
Ruby hotel, KK, 70 RM for a room with A/C, bath + hot shower, TV, telephone, fridge; I first check in at the Kinabalu hotel (KK) but check out half an hour later when it turns out that the telephone is not direct dial (impossible to download the emails with the computer)
Weather: great sunrise, spotless blue sky on the Mt Kinabalu summit in the morning; sunny with almost no clouds the whole day
GSM coverage: in Kota Kinabalu coverage by Celcom, Maxis, Digi and TMTouch

I'm woken up at 2am by the other climbers who get up and prepare for the climb. I continue lying in the bed until 3:40am then get ready and finally start the climb at 4:05am. On the way to the summit I run into several members of our climbing group - everybody is more or less on his own, with the exception of the three girls who climb together with our guide. There is a second checkpoint at the Sayat-Sayat hut where our names and group-Id are noted down. Looks like they want to make sure that only those who have payed the RM 100 climbing fee make the climb. I reach the Km 8 table at 5:37am - surprisingly early. Since it's still dark and I don't want to freeze on the summit waiting for the sunrise I slow down a bit. I reach the summit at 6:05am - two hours after I started. At the same time the sun rises - earlier than in my previous climbs. Perhaps in August the sun rises earlier in Malaysia.

There is a HUGE crowd on the summit. People are queueing up to take photos. Later I'm being told that there was also a huge crowd at 3am, when the majority of the climbers started. People queueing up along the path to the summit. By the way, a freezing wind is blowing. I didn't experience that last time.

I stay on the summit until 7 something am, then go down and am back at the Laban Rata resthouse at 8:15am. I'm very tired by the way. After a breakfast I pack my things and leave the resthouse a bit after 9am. Going down turns out to be even more difficult than going up, as my leg muscles aren't trained at all. In any case I manage to be down at the Timpohon gate at 11:45am. Brian, the Speedy Gonzales and fitness freak of our team, rushed down from the resthouse to the Timpohon gate in 1:50h.

I then get back by bus to the Kinabalu park HQ, where I have some lunch. After packing my things, at 1:30pm I walk to the road and wait for a bus or minibus to KK. After one hour finally a minibus picks me and two other people up. We arrive in KK before 4pm. Then I look for a hotel (see above), download my 500 emails and have dinner.
7.9: Kota Kinabalu -> Kota Belud -> Tunku Abdul Rahman NP -> Kota Bharu
Hotel: I check out of the Ruby hotel at 5pm and they charge me another full night for that (!). The guy at the reception refused to give me a half day rate. 
In Kota Bharu: Star Hotel; budget hotel, 45 RM for a room with A/C, bath, TV, cold shower.
Weather: sunny the whole day with some small clouds and a very thin high altitude clouds layer
GSM coverage: Kota Kinabalu see above, Kota Bharu: TMTouch (and the other networks also)

I manage to get up at 7:15am and leave the hotel at 8am, heading towards the minibus station. After checking the buses it turns out that there are no buses leaving for Kota Belud and there is just a minibus, which however leaves at 10am, according to the driver. So I look for a taxi and after some price negotiations (we agree on RM 70) we leave for Kota Belud at 8:25am. It takes 1:10h to reach the market in Kota Belud. Along the road to Kota Belud there are some rice paddies.

According to the Lonely Planet the Sunday market in Kota Belud is a very special event with people from all over Sabah meeting for trading goods. And in fact the market is nice and interesting, but not that special - at least not for somebody who has already seen plenty of markets in Malaysia. The Bajau horsemen are missing. There is some horse shit every now and then, so I'd guess that by the time I arrived (9:35am) the show must have already finished. In any case nobody knows anything about Bajaus and horses.

After about one hour I go back or let's say start looking for a way to get back to KK. The trouble is that of all minibuses present at the market none is going to KK (!). Somebody tells me I have to go into Kota Belud city and fetch a minibus there. So I walk into town (already very hot at 11am) and manage to find a minibus. We leave at 11:05am and reach KK at 12:20pm. The ride costs only RM 5.

Surprisingly there is also a Sunday market in KK (could I have stayed in KK and saved myself a lot of time ?). After lunch I walk a bit around KK and take some photos. Then I go to the waterfront and look for a boat to show me around the islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman NP. I find a boat and negotiate a price of RM 100 for a trip to four islands (about one hour). When we leave at 1:45pm, the sea is a bit rough. The islands have nice beaches, with almost white sand and crystal clear water. We are back in KK at 3:15pm.

In a KFC restaurant I cool down a bit after over an hour in the strong sun and have a snack. Then I go back to the hotel, download my emails, take a shower and pack my things. At 5:15pm I take a taxi (RM 15) to the airport. After checking in I enquire at the MAS office about changing the booking of my flight from Kuala Terengganu to KL on Friday (I'd like to get back to KL earlier). Seems like all flights from Kuala Terengganu to KL on Thursday and Friday are fully booked. Then I go to the departure gate.

The flight from KK to KL is not that great. I'm cramped in a tiny seat in the last row of the plane. Next to me a very smelly Indian guy who eats with the open mouth making noises and after that cleans his nose with his fingers. 

All of a sudden a flash fires. Surprise, surprise, the lady in the other row just took a photo of me. Yesterday, while I was waiting in front of the Kinabalu park HQ for the bus, four locals took a photo of me (with them next to me). It's kind of funny - I take photos of locals and locals take photos of me.

When we arrive to KLIA airport I have to go again through immigration. Compare that with the EU, where in the seven countries of the Schengen zone there are no border controls, while within Malaysia there are. At 10:30pm the flight to Kota Bharu (KB) takes off. We arrive at 11:20pm. The taxi into town is RM 17. In Kota Bharu it is again difficult to find a hotel. The school holidays started and many hotels are fully booked. After some searching I find a room in the Star hotel.
8.9: Kota Bharu (KB) -> Perhentian island
Coco Huts, Perhentian Besar island, RM 60 for a bungalow with A/C, fan, bath with cold shower, not much else, but very nice (on the beach); two cockroaches in the room
Weather: partly sunny, partly overcast in KB in the morning, quite hot; overcast in Perhentian
GSM coverage: TMTouch in Kota Bharu (as well as the other major GSM networks); coverage with TMTouch on the road KB - Kuala Besut and on the beach in Perhentian Besar; also coverage with Maxis; Celcom appears on the screen, but I cannot connect through it.

In the morning I wake up at 8 something am, still tired of the Mt Kinabalu climb. I still have difficulties walking. I manage to get out of the hotel at 10:30am and walk into KB downtown. Kota Bharu is the capital of Kelantan, which together with Terengganu, is the most islamic of the Malaysian states. You notice it on the streets, as almost all women follow the Islamic dress code and many men have a beard.

I have some lunch in an AW restaurant, then walk to the taxi station. An A/C taxi to Kuala Besut is 35 RM (without A/C 28 RM). At 11:50am I drive back to the Star hotel with a taxi (huge traffic jam - it takes us 25 minutes to reach the hotel). After getting my bags and checking out of the hotel, we drive to Kuala Besut. It should take only one hour to get to Kuala Besut, but because on this Monday morning there is so much traffic in Kota Bharu we only reach the jetty in Kuala Besut at 1:30pm.

The speedboat to Perhentian (30 min.) costs 60RM (return ticket) and leaves at 2:30pm. From Perhentian the speedboat leaves at 8am, 12pm and 4pm. The slow boat takes about 1:30h and costs 40 RM (return ticket). From the office of the Perhentian Pelangi travel agency (where I bought the boat ticket) I make a booking to Coco Huts (I chose it from a list of places they gave me in the Pelangi travel agency according to location and price).

After a 30 minutes very bumpy boat ride (luckily the harddisk of my notebook survives) we reach Perhentian. There is now kind of a floating jetty on Perhentian Besar island, so that you don't have to walk into the water to reach the beach anymore.

All in all it looks like the beach facing Perhentian Kecil where I'm staying has undergone some development since last time I've been there (in 2000). IBI's no longer exists and at its place there is now a new resort called Tuna Bay with good A/C bungalows for RM 160-250. There is now an imposing - and completely useless and out of place - building called "Perhentian marine park administrative centre". Luckily it's hidden behind the palm trees and doesn't disturb too much. There is a board saying "... all visitors engaging in activities in the marine park must pay a RM 5 fee...". How funny - pay where ?

I take a bungalow at Coco huts for RM 60/night (see above). After settling down I have a walk on the beach. Cozy chalets is now abandoned - a pity, as its bungalows were in a very good location. There are several boats on the beach, suggesting that Perhentian is now more commercialised. Surprisingly there are very few foreign tourists (the rooms of Coco huts are almost all empty). There are several Malaysian tourists however, probably because of the school holiday week (7-14 September).

The sea water seems a bit less clean than last time. When I walk into the sea for a swim I am greated by a swarm of small tiger fish who like Piranhas start biting my legs checking if there is something eatable. It nerves a bit, but it is also cool to be among exotic fish. The coral is very close to the beach, making swimming difficult. Lots of coral pieces lie on the northern part of the beach - probably this coral has been destroyed in the past years.
I'll probably stay on Perhentian for three or four nights and visit Redang and Lang Tengah as a day trip by boat (the boat should cost RM 200 and in any case less than RM 300 according to the Coco Huts manager). I'll skip Kenyir lake.

In the evening I call Shirley. She tells me that... she is pregnant. Now this is GREAT news! It will be our first baby (we got married last year).
9.9: Perhentian island
Coco Huts (see above). In the meantime I found another cockroach in the room.
Weather: sunny, blue sky with a few clouds in the morning and until about 3pm; very heavy shower at 3pm lasting about 20 minutes; lighter (brief) shower afterwards and rain again in the evening
GSM coverage: see above; coverage only on the beach facing the mainland

I basically spend the whole day not doing much. I get up at about 10 something am and have some kind of late breakfast/lunch. Then I shoot some photos of the beach and after that I walk along the coast to the north, towards the Coral View resort. The nice tall palm trees which were lining the beach three years ago are now all gone. It looks like the monsoon grabbed them away in one of the previous winters. A few palm trees have survived and are growing upwards again.

At the Coral View resort (rooms for RM 150 - 280) I have a late lunch at 2:20 pm. Then at about 3pm, when I'd like to take a boat to Long Beach on Perhentian Kecil (the smaller of the two Perhentians), the sky suddenly gets very dark and it starts raining like hell for about 20 minutes. Since the sky is still heavily clouded after that, I realise that basically the day is gone and walk back to the Coco Huts.

I spend the rest of the day swimming in the sea, editing my photos and just hanging around. In the evening the receptionist tells me that no boatsman is willing to do the trip to Redang. I'll probably go by boat to Kuala Besut on Thursday and from there fetch a taxi to Merang and then another boat to Redang.
10.9: Perhentian island
Coco Huts. Tomorrow I'm moving out of here - tired of sharing the room with the cockroaches.
Weather: sunny, blue sky with a few clouds in the morning; more or less overcast in the afternoon but still no rain; in the evening at 6:45pm, very sudden, extremely heavy rain which lasts for about 20 minutes
GSM coverage: as above; on Long Beach (Perhentian Kecil) no network; but on the side of P. Kecil facing the mainland there is coverage - as in 2000.

Day spent not doing much, just walking around the Perhentian Besar and Kecil islands. I get up around 10am and after a late breakfast I start my day at 11 something am. I walk along the beach towards south, shooting a picture every now and then. Later, when looking at the photos on the computer, the pictures look like in those commercials where they show the perfect tropical island. A perfectly blue sky with crystal clear sea water, perfectly green palm trees, wonderful colours etc. The camera makes this island look even better than it is. Or perhaps Perhentian is really that great - and indeed it's Malaysia's most beautiful island, light years ahead of anything you can find on the west coast.

I walk towards Flora bay. At one point it gets impossible to continue along the beach as rocks block the way. There is a small jungle path which leads to Flora bay. It takes about 25 minutes to get to Flora bay, walking across the hot, steamy jungle. Flora bay has a relatively long, white sand beach. There are four or five resorts. It is easier swimming here as there are no corals near the beach. The sea water is a bit less clear here, probably because the bay hinders the water exchange (the beach of Coco Huts faces Perhentian Kecil and in the channel between the two islands there is a moderate current, which kind of flushes away all dirt).
After half an hour in Flora bay I take a taxi boat to Long Beach at 1:35pm (RM 13). Long Beach, as the name says it, is a quite long white sand beach. The sand here is really white-greyish, while the sand on the Coco Huts beach is slightly yellowish. It's a nice beach, but unfortunately overdeveloped and there are too many boats. This beach was more quiet three years ago.

I have some lunch and then start walking across the path which crosses Perhentian Kecil and connects Long Beach with the beach on the opposite side of the island. At one point there is a monitor lizard blocking my way. He is probably heating up in the sun and refuses to run away, no matter how close I get. I take several photos, including a macro shot of the head (!). Finally the monitor lizard has got enough of so much attention and moves away.

The beach on the opposite side of Perhentian Kecil, well... sucks. The sand is yellowish and there is a strong smell of rotting stuff (rotten eggs smell). I then go back to Long Beach and at 4pm I take a boat back to Coco Huts. The rest of the day is spent not doing much - swimming in the sea, having a first look at the pictures I shot, having dinner etc. By the way, my body is red like a tomato. I probably was exposed too long to the sun today. I'll have to avoid the sun tomorrow.

Tomorrow I'm taking the boat to Kuala Besut at 12pm. Then I'm taking a taxi to Merang and from there a boat to Redang. Will have a look at the island.
11.9: Perhentian -> Kuala Besut -> Merang -> Redang
Ayu Mayang Resort, Redang, Pasir Panjang Besar beach, RM 180 for a smallish double room (A/C, two beds with warm blankets, bath + hot shower; breakfast included) in a resort on a large beach: The room is kind of decent but overpriced at RM 180. The toilet needs to be repaired. Again I find cockroaches - this time in the toilet. Good restaurant (but not cheap).
Weather: overcast the whole day, no rain, not so hot. In the evening the clouds cover opens and some blue sky appers. Heavy showers at 11:30pm (just started while I'm writing this).
GSM coverage: very weak signal of Maxis and Celcom on Pasir Panjang beach; TMTouch coverage on the part of the island facing the mainland

In the morning I get up before 10am and am ready with my things packed at 11am. After a brunch at 11am, I wait for the speedboat. This arrives at 12:20pm and reaches Kuala Besut half an hour later.

I check my email in the office of the Perhentian Pelangi travel agency (where I bought the boat ticket to Perhentian). Then I fetch a taxi (A/C, RM 60) to the jetty in Merang. By the time we reach the jetty, 1:20 hours later, it's 2:45pm, too late for the last boat which left at 2pm. The only option is to charter a boat. The boatsman asks for RM 250 (one way), explaining that a ticket to Redang costs RM 40 and a boat usually leaves full. Some discussion, I explain that RM 250 is way too expensive. In the end we settle on RM 100 (one way).

The sea today is surprisingly calm - very few waves and the ride is relatively smooth (compared to the very bumpy boat ride from Kuala Besut to Perhentian). We first go to kind of a harbour in Redang and I wonder if this is Redang. Where are the beautiful beaches ? But it turns out that the boatsman just wants to bring home his friend who is also on the boat. After we continue the boat trip and - voilà - the wonderful beach appears. Actually we pass a series of smaller beaches, all quite nice, on the eastern side of Redang, and finally land on a long and large beach of white coral sand called Pasir Panjang Besar. It's 3:45pm and the boat ride took almost one hour, including the stops.

Pasir Panjang is a beautiful beach, split in two lagoons. There are several resorts, many boats and many tourists. Most tourists here are Asian (probably almost all Malaysian). Finally I have found out where all Malaysians have gone for the school holidays. It's interesting to note that the Lonely Planet I have (Ed. '99) only has one page about Redang, while it as several pages about Perhentian.

It appears to me that Redang has more to offer than Perhentian: nowhere in Perhentian is there a beach nice as Pasir Panjang (even Long Beach is not as nice) and there is a huge number is small islands and rocks near Redang, making it an ideal destination for divers. On the other hand, Perhentian is less developed and more wild, while Redang is more upmarket, expensive and has higher class resorts. I think Shirley would like Redang. A pity I haven't been here before.

There is a resort, the Laguna Redang Island, which looks quite elegant and endowed with several facilities (including a pool). They have all-inclusive 3 days/2 nights packages priced quite attractively, considering what they offer.

After exploring the area I swim in the sea. Near the rocks there is some small jelly fish. In the evening I have a dinner in the Ayu Mayang resort where I'm staying. The nice atmosphere and very good food make up for the mediocre room. A feeling like being in Sanur in Bali.
12.9: Redang -> Kuala Terengganu -> Kuala Lumpur (KL)
Concorde Hotel, KL, 140 RM for a double room with A/C, bath and all extras; at night I freeze as the A/C is too cold and the blankets are too thin
Weather: sunny & hot with clouds layer in the morning; thick cloud layer in the afternoon and rain in Kuala Terengganu at 4pm
GSM coverage: for Redang see above; all major networks in Kuala Terengganu and KL

After getting up at 9:20am and having a breakfast at 10am I pack my things. At 11am I start a walk around the beach which now is less crowded than yesterday. The island now looks a bit less impressive than yesterday - the Pasir Panjang beach is still beautiful, but overall it's a bit too developed. I'm kind of missing the wild beauty of Perhentian.

Almost all tourists are Asian, only very few western. In fact it's surprising to meet Asian people on a beach, as (fair-skinned) Asians such as Chinese and Japanese for instance are very concerned to keep their skin fair and avoid the sun. The Asian ideal of beauty is a fair skin.

At 12:15pm I check out of the room and have lunch in the resort restaurant. I then edit my photos until about 2pm, when the ferry to Merang is leaving. There will be a taxi waiting for me in Merang. The boat to Merang is almost totally filled with (Malaysian?) Chinese tourists - I'm the only western tourist.

The boat leaves the beach at 2:15pm and takes only 30 minutes to reach Merang. After some waiting the taxi arrives and at 3pm we leave for Kuala Terengganu. Since in fact there is not too much time left to see Kuala Terengganu I ask the driver to stop at the airport, which is on the way. I'm planning to check in my luggage so that I have more time in Kuala Terengganu. Unfortunately it's only 3:40pm and the check-in counter won't open before 4pm - and the taxi outside is waiting. So I simply leave the luggage at the information counter (the bag and the ticket - I ask a guy to check in the luggage for me). Then I leave with the taxi and about 15 minutes later we are in Kuala Terengganu at the Zaidin mosque.

The town is pretty much deserted, as it's Friday, the Muslim prayer day, and many shops are closed and very few people are on the streets. To top it all it soon starts raining quite heavily. Luckily, smart me, I brought the umbrella with me and my small backpack has an integrated raincover. In any case there isn't too much to see in Kuala Terengganu - and I can't find the market anyway. I get some take away food at a KFC restaurant and am then in a taxi at 4:50pm, on the way back to the airport (RM 20 for the taxi).

The 17:55 MAS flight to KL is pretty much under Japanese control, as a selection of pupils of the Japanese school in KL is onboard - 105 Japanese children to be precise. They are on their way back to KL from a three days/two nights trip to Kota Bharu, Lake Kenyir and Kuala Terengganu. The flight lands around 6:40pm in KLIA and very speedily I manage to get my luggage and proceed to the exit. I take the 7pm KLIA express to KL. In the evening I have a dinner with Shirley, her sister Sara and her mom in Chinatown (and have to drag all of them there, as they don't want to go to such a touristy place).
13.9: KL -> Bangkok Airport -> Ayutthaya
Krungsri River Hotel, Ayutthaya (Thailand), 1760 Baht for a nice double roomm in a elegant hotel on the river
Weather: sunny in KL in the early morning, then overcast the whole day; almost no rain
GSM coverage: all major networks in KL
I wake up at 8:20am. Didn't sleep well last night as the room was far too cold and the blankets too thin. So I just stay in bed until 9:30am, then manage to get ready for breakfast at 10:15am. Shirley has already had breakfast and is going to see a doctor this morning. I take a taxi to the Citibank in Jalan Ampang and get some cash. Then, with the same taxi I drive back to the hotel (actually I get out at the Monorail station next to the hotel).

The Monorail, whose construction began several years ago and was interrupted for a couple of years, has been completed last year and finally started operating this year on September 1st. It is currently open only between 10am and 3pm. The ticket price is RM 1. The trains run approx. every 10 minutes. When I get into the monorail (at noon) is jam packed with people.

At the Bukit Bintang station I get out and go to the Sungei Wang shopping complex. There I make my way to the consumer electronics / IT section. I find nothing too interesting - just some tablet PCs and some desknotes (mix between desktop PC and notebook computer). I buy some CDs in a shop and then have lunch at the Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant. Then I go to Kimarie's for a haircut. 

When I get out again of the shopping complex it's already 3:30pm. I go to the Delifrance in the Lot 10 shopping complex and have some food. At 4pm I take a taxi back to the Concorde hotel. Time to say good-bye to Sara and Shirley's mom. After checking my email I pack my things - we'll check in our luggage until Munich and spend the night in a hotel in Thailand. Shirley bought a stylish, huge suitcase after I told her that her old ones were not nice. No idea if we'll be above the weight limit. 

At 6pm we check out. Checking out and organising a taxi takes us 20 minutes. We reach KL International Airport at 7:15pm. It's no problem checking in the luggage until Munich. The total weight is 46 Kg - within the tolerances. No need to use the cargo option. Since it's already late we proceed directly to the departure gate. The flight leaves on time. While in the plane I get the idea of spending the night in Ayutthaya and do some sightseeing on Sunday morning before leaving for Munich.

We reach Bangkok at 9:30pm local time. We then check if it is possible to get a boarding pass for Munich already today. It turns out to be impossible. But the lady at the counter tells me that if the flight leaves at 12:40pm it is sufficient that we check in at 12pm since we have no check-in luggage. I then try to make a reservation for some decent seats on the plane, but the Thai airways office is already closed. So I head to the taxi counter and get a voucher for a taxi to Ayutthaya. Quite expensive at 1200 Baht. But hey, we get a Mercedes limo for that.

Ayutthaya lies about 60 km from the airport and the taxi driver needs only half an hour to get there. It's now 11pm and we check in at the Krungsri River Hotel. Tomorrow we'll take a taxi at 9am and do some sightseeing before driving to the airport.
14.9: Ayutthaya -> BKK Intl. Airport -> Munich
Weather: cloudy and hot in Thailand with some rain in the morning; sunny and quite fresh in the evening in Munich
GSM coverage: all major Thai networks in Ayutthaya and BKK intl. airport

After getting up at 8am Thai time and having breakfast I leave the hotel at 9am with the hotel's car and driver. Until about 10:40am we manage to visit seven temples. It's cloudy and in between it starts raining. The weather couldn't be worse for photo taking - well yes, it could be worse: it could rain even heavier and there could be a storm. In any case I manage to shoot about 100 images before getting back to the hotel. By the way, the car + driver for Ayutthaya for the ride back to the airport costs 1900 Baht.

At 10:45am Shirley and I leave finally and drive to BKK international airport. We manage to reach the airport in a relatively short time - just a bit over half an hour later. We immediately check in (I had booked some good seats calling from the hotel before leaving for the temples tour) and proceed to the departure area. There we spend the last Baht on some food (dried fruits, banana-coconut pastries etc.).

The flight leaves on time at 12:40pm Thai time. There is not much to do on the plane, except watching the movies and eating something every now and then. I start editing and sorting my images, but the battery is finally empty after about three hours.

We land in Munich at 6:45pm German time. Then it takes forever to get the luggage (around 40 minutes). Outside it's really cool - it's quite obvious that the hot summer is over. We take the S-Bahn (local train) to downtown Munich. The S-Bahn today only continues until the central station. Then, since it's already after 9pm and we are tired, we just fetch a taxi back to Unterhaching (the suburb of Munich where we live). We are finally at home at 9:40pm. Seems that nothing unexpected happened during our absence. We sleep by 10:40pm.

Copyright (c) 2003 Alfred Molon