Galle, Mirissa, Sri Lanka, Unawatuna

Going ALL the Way

My travels are coming to an end. Slowly slowly coming back to what people generally call reality.

It is August 2017. Soon i will be going back to Europe. I have about one week left in Sri Lanka. One week. Why not check out some beaches and temples? Take some rest before heading back to Colombo and Negombo 😀

 

A local bus with a funky interior design brings me south to Wellawaya. From there, I take another bus due south, to Mirissa.

 

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Once in Mirissa I take a tour on a scooter to Galle and Unawatuna

 

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I am surprised to find a Japanese Peace Pagoda which has an astonishing resemblance to the one in Vienna at the Danube. Same goes for the interior arrangement of the temple.

 

 

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Jungle Beach. Five minutes from the Peace Pagoda. I just had a dip in the ocean. Cut my feet and knees on the corals. Taking rest now. Enjoying the heat. Get lunch. Some locals invite me to celebrate their friend’s upcoming marriage. A lot of food. A lot of booze.

 

Along the coast I ride for about an hour until I reach Galle. I walk about aimlessly. There are quite a lot of tourists here. Most of them Dutch. Which makes sense as this is a Portuguese Fort built in 16C fortified and extended by the Dutch in 17C. I feel as if I have seen enough of Galle after about two hours. There are old churches and antique stores, the beach is not far and the view is terrific.

All of this, though, as interesting as it may be for someone interested in it – for someone who’s really into it, seems to be not much more than entertainment for the many. An opportunity to take a selfie and another, and another. Some proof to show to others: “Look at us, we have been here.”

 

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Before and after Galle I chill out at the beach. Driving or walking around aimlessly is what I like most these days. Nowhere to go in particular feels great. Of course, there is also a certain restlessness in the mix. As soon as I sit down somewhere I feel like I wanna explore what is behind the next hill or what the next bay has to offer. On my offline map it only says “blowhole”…

 

 

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Sand and Sea before sunset

 

 

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Chiang Mai, Thailand

Two days on two wheels in Chiang Mai

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If you meet a buddha put him behind bars

Bus from Nan arrives in Chiang Mai at 3.30 in the morning. Without much ado, I declare the bus station my resting place. Then walk to the city centre. Takes about one hour. It’s 6 a.m. Everybody sleeping. Roads empty. Stroll around. Check in at Julie Guesthouse. Rent a bicycle. It’s old skool. Steering handles pointing downwards. Soft pedals. Single speed. Slow by definition. Suits me well.

Here are some impressions.

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Lawnmower Man @ Wat Chiang Mun, Chiang Mai

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Forgot-the-name Wat, Chiang Mai

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Artists and slackliners and akroyogis in Buak Had Park, Chiang Mai

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Flower Festival Chiang Mai 2015

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There is a school for everything

The next day I rented a scooter and went west of Cchiang Mai towards Doing Suthep National Park.

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Wat Suan Dok at noon (yes it’s hot!)

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Gold gold gold gold gold and emeralds… my eyes are starting to hurt, they can only take so much glamour… why yes, of course it’s biutiful. With sunshades B-)

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Offering incense, fruits and money… and a positive attitude

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Children drawing details of Doi Suthep viharn & chedi

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Unknown Artist

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I can only share so much with you, you know… If you wanna see the campground in the hills, the amazingly big night market in Chiang Mai, and the myriad tours and courses that are offered here… get a plane ticket asap. Beware, it might be slightly addictive, and the ubiquitous signs telling you not to miss out on this and imploring you must see that… can be quite unnerving after a couple of days… or you don’t see them anymore. Always a good strategy, right?!

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Sharing, Sukhothai, Thailand

On the road again

When I rent the motorcycle I ask the lady if she needs a copy of my passport…

– ‘Will keep it here,’ she states.
– ‘oh … so I can’t leave the country!’ I exclaim playfully.
She smilingly responds: ‘Do you like Thailand?

Before I leave, she recommends Wat Tawet. It’s on the way and well worth a visit.

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I decide to keep the scooter for another day. It’s so sweet just to drive. Oh how sweet it is! This time, I go north to Si Satchanalai. There is another historical park there as well as a national park. When I go there, I see a sign indicating that the latter is another fifty km away. So I skip it. At that very moment I am sure to miss out on some majestic waterfall. Or at least a cool refreshing freshwater pool surrounded by fantastic rock formations. Nah, all these temple ruins again. I’ve had it already!

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I can’t get noo-hoo satisfaction… and at once i feel it is somehow only sweet to drive for a while. After that it becomes bitter-sweet symphony. It is getting kinda uncomfortable on that seat, you know. Yep, after an hour or so it can be quite uncomfy. And who wants that, right?! Right. I I I have the right to be comfy at all times. [‘Body, obey. Mind, shuddup. Both’o’ya, geddagrip!]

On my way to Si Satchanalai I take rest at Wat Tawet. There are many statues recounting the Buddhist legends and lore. I meet one man in robes listening to loud music – wai to him – and several painters re-goldening the wat. There are some women as well. I ask for a watermelon (tengmo) and it is cut up and offered to me in a nylon bag. 25 baht. I gobble it up right there. So stuffed afterwards. I feel like Homer in the episode he invents a bird-like device to press ‘Y’ for him. But anyway, after yet another marriage proposal somehow I manage to heave this fathom-long body on the scooter and drive off.

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Some more kilometres to go to the historical park. Check out the album to see more pictures.

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In the afternoon I go back along route 1113 and enjoy the green fields and sunset. When I come to the old part of Sukhothai I go straight to Wat Si Chum. During the day everybody goes there. Tourist guides and food stalls and regulations and whatnot. Now it is dusk. All empty now. Just the Buddha and me.

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Sharing, Sukhothai

Sukhothai mueang gòw

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In Bangkok, I came across this car on my way to the bus station Mo Chit 2. It reminded me of how obsolete police is at some places. (The mind being what it is and dialectics working like it does, the mind re-minds itself immediately of all the places where police is much needed.)

One good thing about Phitsanulok: there are almost no tourists. In a café on the riverside, I meet Nils from Sweden, a travel veteran in his seventies. In the evening I have a delicious meal at the night bazaar and a foot massage in the park at the riverside.

Here are some impressions of Phitsanulok…

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Nan River

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It’s possible to stay in huts on the riverbank. If you’re into that… be prepared to deal without comfort and amenities.

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Wat Sriratthana Mahathat

Today morning I take a bus to Sukhothai. One hour drive, maybe two, dont check, dont care. I am cruising along outside of time and space. I listen to my bus neighbour he tells me to stay on cuz this bus from Phitsanulok, it goes straight to the old city – Ban Mueang Kao.

I stay on the bus and get off after I have spotted the wall encircling the old city. Try to find a place to stay. Two unfriendly/angry Thai hosts and one very helpful hotel lady later I find myself without backpack (but also, alas, without a place to sleep) on a solo bicycle tour around the ruins. I figure it’s afternoon, so whatmeworry now about a place to stay when I am here at the old city on a bike equipped with a pair of eyes to enjoy the sight of the wats at Sukhothai? A place to stay will come. No diggity.

At Wat Chedi Ngam I meet Regis, a French man living in Brazil. He is a professional photographer and shaman guiding ayahuasca sessions. We ride bikes and breathe in the wonderful nature. Take pictures of the amazing man-made structures. Enjoy the sun rays shining through the treetops and making the green of the grass fields around us appear so much brighter. Luminous green. Fluorescent even. Can’t photo that!

And we talk. Among other things, he tells me there are three points to pay entrance fee. Somehow, I don’t know how, I had dodged them… and went to all the uninteresting ruins and statues?! We split again, checking out different sights and meet again at the main entrance (a place I see for the first time when leaving)…

We take one of the last busses back to Sukhothai and I check in at Garden House. It is a far better place to be than those in the old city, with homely ambience, a smiling receptionist, as well as a vegetarian joint and motorcycle rental 100m away. What more do I need, right?!

If you are interested in how the ancient capital with buildings and sculptures from the 13th century looks like today, check out the photos I have taken. You find them here. It’s worth it. Here are 3 of them:

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Wat Si Sawai

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Wat Chedi Ngam

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Wat Mahathat

More photos on hakimomatata.imgur.com

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Malaysia, Sharing

It’s good to go

Arrangements are made to meet Linda at the hotel in the morning. We plan to go to Buddhist hermitage Lunas. It so happens that we go everywhere but that place. Instead, we find another place called Bodhi Heart Sanctuary next to a cemetery. We talk to Hor and Leonard and they both say I am welcome to live and work here for as long as I wish.

We also go to a Chinese market where on one side you get raw food, fruits, fish while on the other side you get prepared meals viz. noodles and ‘Chinese buns’, as Wong aka CJ (ChinaJapan), a physics professor at the Malaysian university, smirkingly calls them.

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Farang-free fried food hall

We agree to go to Luna’s tomorrow morning. It is already 4 p.m. but anyway i take a bus to Teluk Bahang, the region where a national park is located. And who do I meet at the bus station after walking for a few kilometres? My friends with whom in stay at Georgetown. They had intended to go to Monkey beach and I knew they where around but ten minutes later and they would have gone past, sitting in the bus back to Komtar (a shopping mall area in Georgetown). Like this, I left the visit to the national park for another day and accompanied them to Red Garden, a food court on Penang Road.

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…red, indeed, somebody in for a curry fish head?…

After that we spend the evening without rain, but lightning in the distance, on the roof of Chulia mansion, a hotel where a newly wedded Australian/Indian couple were staying at.

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Chulia Street at night, a backpacker’s delight

What a wonderfully weird day… tomorrow I leave Georgetown and go east to Butterworth. There, I will spend a week or so at Buddhist Hermitage Lunas. Here I am now. Writing this while the other monks, nuns, samaneras and yogis are doing formal walking meditation in the rain… that just started pouring down 🙂 I arrived today and will join the group in mind training tomorrow morning.

The daily schedule is hardcore. Do not ask me why I am doing this, please. I can only tell afterwards. And there is one thing i know for sure: Ever since, it has always been worth the effort.

May peace prevail on earth.
May we live happily in peace.

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Malaysia

C’mon and smile… you’re in Malaysia now ;-)

The previous week has gone by with so many good things happening. I was simply unable to put it into words. Rendered speechless by the incredible friendliness and cheerfulness I encountered wherever I went.

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Armenian Street, famous for its mural paintings

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Mural art on Armenian Street

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Meddah, a storyteller

Sitting in the minivan going to Georgetown, I meet a Norwegian dive master in spe and a girl from Rostock. We share a room and explore the town together.

The first day in Georgetown we go on foot, just to orientate and enjoy food in Little India. Get a feel of the place. Meet Helga from Graz, she has been staying here for a couple of weeks and kindly introduces us to some locations.

The next day we rent bicycles. Traffic is noisy and dangerous at times. Bicycles are not given much room and we feel vulnerable and exposed on the main roads. Besides, the bikes are too small for us. We decide to take small side streets. Riding along. In the afternoon it gets really hot and humid. Late lunch on the side of Burma Road. The Lady chef estimates the prices on the spot. We visit Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple (more pix here).

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Big Burmese Temple

We go along the coast and have a coffee at Purrrfect Cat Café. This is a café with cats hanging around to be petted.

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Purrrfect Cat Café. Great idea, and a ripoff.

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Philosophy at its best

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