Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Visitors 4: "ratatouille"!

Last week we had visitors again. Actually, it was only one… and it came without permision, so we kicked it away.

This is what happened. One day, when we woke up, we found a half bitten biscuit on the marble of our kitchen. Its box had been opened really badly, but the rest of our apartment was exactly as we left it the night before, so we just forgot about it… until the next morning; then we found another biscuit, this time behind the toilet and sourrounded by thousands of small pieces of toilet paper. We started thinking of ghosts, so we decided to throw all the biscuits away and never buy them again; whatever it was what came over, it liked our biscuits (which were extremely sweet, by the way).

But the story went on one more day. Now our “friend” had chosen the chocolate powder. So, we had enough. We called the owner of our apartment, who thought we had gone mad because it was impossible to have a mouse on such a high floor, but anyway he brought us some poison and a tray covered with glue; we had to put some food on it and wait until the animal was hungry. Using his words, if we had an animal at home, our probabilities of catching it with that were of a thousand per cent.

So, we did so: a bit scared, we put the tray on the floor, with some sugar and chocolate on it, and we went to sleep. After one hour, a metallic noise woke us up. And we saw it: stuck to the trap, there was a twenty centimetres long rat!!

Both Gerard and I are excessively “respectful” to some animals, so we were just staring at it, trying to decide what to do. And we only could find one solution: calling the security guy. He came and killed the rat for us. Then we all felt calmer; we, for having found and eliminated the rat that came over every night, and the guard… for having got a tip which provided him a good life until the end of the month!

Visitors 3: my parents are coming!

Last week my parents came over. It was a short but intense visit: Gerard and I had prepared a route arround Thailand and part of Cambodia, which left all of us exhausted and fascinated alike.

We started sleeping in Bangkok on a Friday night, so on Saturday at dusk we could already start to drive to Kanchanaburi. Once there, we took some pictures of the famous bridge over the Kwai River and we went to Hellfire Pass, a railway cutting built by allied prisoners of war at the hands of the Japanese. We had lunch at a Natural Park nearby, in front of a nice waterfall: Papaya salad (too spicy for my parents), noodles soup and “pad thai” (fried noodles with vegetables and shrimps).

On Sunday, on the way back to Pattaya, we stopped at the Damnoen Sadueak Floating Market. Since 20 years ago, it’s nothing but a tourist attraction, although it is still cute and charming. We hired an organised boat trip along thousands of souvenir stalls and floating fruit vendors who were asking for our attention. We weren’t such good costumers as they would have liked, but we bought some Thai sweets and a couple of those tipical hats made of bamboo and palm leaves.

During the weekdays, while Gerard kept on working, my parents and I went to Cambodia. They were really willing to see the temples of Angkor and, eventhough we only had 2 days, it definetly worthed the trip. We visited all the famous temples (Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm and Banteay Srei) and then we went to the Great Lake; this gave us a nice opportunity to get into the most authentic Cambodia, much poor but as charming as Siem Reap.

Picture: my parents in front of Angkor Wat.

We spent the other days in Pattaya. We took a “sawngthaew” (also known as baht bus) to Pattaya downtown; we bargained for a couple of fake watches, we visited a buddhist temple, we relaxed sitting at a great viewpoint on the beach and we even took a Thai massage. We also had time to visit the Sanctuary of Truth, a wooden construction covered thousands of carved sculptures that symbolises the Ancient vision of Earth according to Eastern philosophy.
Picture: going to Pattaya downtown by “sawngthaew”.
Picture: buying some fruit at a local market.
Picture: my parents in front of the Sanctuary of Truth.
We spent their last weekend here sightseeing in Bangkok: the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Jim Thompson’s House and Chatuchak Market. Picture: Gerard and Erika in front of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho).

Picture: Esteve and Fina at Chao Praya River, in Bangkok, with Wat Arun behind.

As far as we know, my parents are showing loads of pictures to all their friends and family, and telling them thousands of stories about how their daughter and her boyfriend spend their dayly life in a country where traffic is chaotic (almost suicidal) and the language incomprehensible.

We would like to take advantage of this page to thank everyone who, through my parents, send us some pictures, clothes and food (we already fed up of Thai rice).

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Kuala Lumpur

As the proverb says, an image is worth more than a thousand words. Known as KL, Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia, an Islamic country with only 50 years of history, result of the union among some British colonies.

The most important, and the only KL’s tourist attraction, are the gorgeous Petronas Twin Towers (Petronas is the state oil company). Besides that, there’s nothing else; it’s a quite new city which sometimes may remind you of its neighbour Singapore, but without its charm.

Petronas Twin Towers were the tallest building in the world until 2004, until the Taipei 101 was built; however, as twin towers they remain as the tallest ones.

Having said that, you already know everything we could tell you about KL. So now , we invite you to enjoy the following pictures, as much as we enjoyed being there. Picture: Petronas Twin Towers at night

Picture: Reflection of the Towers from KLCC Park.
Picture: The strongest man in the world

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Birthday in Koh Chang

While everyone in Catalonia was preparing Sant Joan’s party, we were travelling to an island in the south-east of Thailand, Koh Chang, to celebrate Gerard’s 31st birthday.

To take advantage of the weekend, we left Pattaya on Friday afternoon and slept at a nice guest house in Trat (we were willing to have dinner at the night market again!). From there, on Saturday early morning we took the ferry (with our car as well). In front of us we could see a dense piece of jungle right in the middle of the sea, surrounded by long white sand beaches and with some fog on the top of its mountains. Pretty wonderful.

Kacha Resort was as paradisiacal as the island itself: luxurious bungalows (even with jackuzzi!) and a swimming pool on the sea shore.

After a while of sunshine, we decided to drive around looking for less touristic places; we went to the North and we drove along the east coast till de south of the island. Then we tried to go into the jungle, but a tropical thunderstorm made us go back to our resort.

On Sunday we woke up with an adventurous feeling. According to Lonely Planet, there are so many snakes in the “elephant’s island” as in the biblic garden, but I didn’t want to go home without having seen anything but Had Sai Khao (“white sand beach”). So, I chose the less scaring way to get into the jungle: elephant trekking! I expected that I wouldn’t be afraid of the snakes if I was on an elephant, but anyway I didn’t have to worry about it: when we were in the middle of the trip, it started to rain like cats and dogs, so we got soaking wet and snakes hided themselves.

And after the rain, the sun shined again (this is the best thing about monzons!): we had our last bath in the sea… and took the ferry back home.

On Monday, already at home, we finished to celebrate Gerard’s birthday. As we went out for dinner at an American restaurant (that means too much food), we decided to blow the candles in a more exotic way.

The gift, a frammed picture of Koh Chang.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Going backwards in time: Cambodia

We started this June in Cambodia. We had a 4 days long weekend, so we decided to visit the temples of Angkor.

As we expected, Angkor Wat and the others wonders truly fascinated us. Each temple is a great work itself, from gorgeous Angkor to the meticulous carving of Banteay Srei, or the engimatic faces of Bayon, Pre Rup pyramid and the five hundred year-old trees that cover Ta Prohm temple (famous for the film Tomb Raider). But looking at these beauties for the sunrise and/or the sunset, was breathtaking.

Apart from that, Cambodian people and the tiny part of the country that we could see went straight into our hearts. It really was like going backwards in time: sandy streets, bycicles and motorbikes (without mirrors!) instead of cars and a basically rural population. We couldn’t help being surprised by seeing ten year-old girls riding the firewood home and very young boys leading the cows along the fields (if we were in war, this children will easily survive!).

We stayed at a luxurious but not expensive hotel in Siem Reap downtown. So, after walking for hours and hours under the sunshine, we could take a bath at the swimming pool, have a shower and sleep for the whole night.

About the city itself, we will only say that it’s young and vibrating. Maybe we’re lucky and we can go back some time!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Documents for everyone

I've just recieved my work permit, I'm legal!!! Now we can stay in the land of pineapples until the 31st of January of 2551 (2008 according to our calendar; don't worry, we'll come back!).

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Islands

The best season to go to the beach is from November till February, 'cause the weather is good but the sun doesn't burn too much yet. So, we're getting advantage of this month to sunbath almost every weekend.
Not far away from home there are two main islands (and a thousand of smaller ones). The first one, Koh Land ("Coral Island") is 40 minutes away from Pattaya by ferry. Perhaps it is not the most beautiful island we've seen, but it has crystalline beaches anyway and it's the closest one from where we live, so it's perfect to spend a morning there.

The other one, Koh Samet, is located a bit more to the South, 1 hour away by car plus 1 hour by ferry. Although there are several beaches with bungalows where to spend the whole weekend, we've only been there on one-day trips.
The first time, we booked a tourist package with taxi, transportation to the island and food, but the truth is that we found it a little bit expensive; so, the second time we decided to go there on our own: a Purac's driver took us to the pier and, once in Koh Samet, we took a pickup to a beautiful isolated beach. Everything was going fine until we started to discuss about the price of the ride. We knew that the driver wanted to charge us more than the standard price and we weren't willing to pay that amount of money. He didn't have any chance but taking us to the beach but, as a good Thai man, he got angry and made his best to scare us by driving in a very madly way. We had such a bad time! Obviously, in that afternoon we called another taxi driver to pick us up and we didn’t dare to negociate the price. We even tipped him!

By the way, that beach in Koh Samet was wonderful and, the food, delicious!!