3rd class trains in Thailand

The charm of 3rd class trains in Thailand Where I come from (Hungary, Central Europe) we find it almost natural that the railway is left to slowly but surely wane. Lines are closed and stations fall into decay. We don’t even have dining cars any more. The railway in Thailand is alive and kicking as it’s still one of the main modes of transport. What’s more, the construction of new lines can be expected in the future thanks to Chinese investment. All this in spite of a busy network of budget airlines and thousands of bus services throughout the country. …

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Luang Prabang – a little Europe in Laos

From a dusty village to a gem of colonial architecture By slow boat down the Mekong – Arriving in Luang Prabang Yes, it takes two whole days and you have to travel without much comfort (unless you charter a whole long boat). Still the two-day slow boat ride down the Mekong river is the best way to enter the country in the north from Thailand. It’s a unique opportunity to get a glimpse of village life and you can meet lots of other travellers. After our fabulous first day we continued our journey to Luang Prabang. One more day on the …

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Slow boat down the Mekong

Slow boat ride on the Mekong from the Thai border to Luang Prabang in Laos Part 1 Compared to its neighbours, Laos is still relatively less visited. However, due to the shape and geography of the country, there is a tourist trail that most visitors follow. It features most of the must-see sights in Laos from Buddhist temples and colonial cities to waterfalls and caves. And you can start your adventures in this beautiful country on a traditional slow boat ride that takes two exciting days.   Many tourists choose to start this route in the north after exploring the …

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Bangkok highlights for 2 days

Two relaxed days in Bangkok Krung Thep as the Thais themselves call it, Bangkok is a beehive of over 8 million people. It is famous for its awe-inspiring shrines and colourful night life, not to mention the bustling markets and other shopping opportunities. We spent only two whole days in the Thai capital this time and it wasn’t easy to choose from the wide array of sights. We don’t like to rush from one place to another so we finally decided to look around the Grand Palace (because our son hasn’t seen it yet) and Chinatown, both in the centre …

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A glimpse of Doha, Qatar

20 hours in sizzling Doha, Qatar   It was just by accident that we spent (nearly) a day in Doha. I was desperately looking for reasonable flight tickets to any exciting destination all April and May and I almost gave it up. Then I found this special offer by Qatar Airlways (no, this is not a paid advertisement) to Thailand. The only drawback was the duration: 32 hours in total from Budapest to Pattaya. This meant arriving in Doha at midnight and get on the next flight 20 hours later. The original plan was to spend a few hours at …

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Two long days in Aceh, Sumatra

Are we there yet? We had our first glimpse of Indonesia on our first trip to the Far East and we started with one of the less popular islands, Sumatra. We only had 12 days, barely enough to make quick stops at four distinct destinations: a volcanic lake, the top of an active volcano, the bustling capital of Aceh and a real tropical paradise, the Island of Weh. More pages from an old travel diary… Tuesday 11th July 2000 It’s Tuesday today, the first day of a long and not the least pleasant journey. The entire trip can be divided …

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Trouble in Sulawesi

Arriving at the land of Torajas. Rantepao, Sulawesi For twenty years I kept diaries of all of our travels before I switched to using a computer. So now I have hundreds of pages full of experienced, good and not so good. I’ll randomly pick a day each time and add a photo or two. And I hope some of you guys will also find it interesting to read… Wednesday 25th July 2001 It was a day we basically spent doing nothing but lazing. Well, OK, we took some breaks when it got really boring. The bus pulls in at Rantepao …

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Day trek to the Zawrat, High Tatras

A challenging day trek crossing the Eagle’s Path in the Polish High Tatras Starting point: Five Lakes Valley Refuge (1673 m) Highest point: Zawrat Pass (2158 m) Destination: Murowaniec Refuge (1500 m) Total distance: ~8 km Net duration: 3 h (highly dependent on the weather and your fitness) Difficulty: medium-hard   Thanks to the network of high mountain refuges in the Polish High Tatras, you can easily make shorter or longer treks between the valleys and ridges. As I mentioned earlier, most of the hiking trails are in use on this side of the border though you definitely need proper …

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A winter trek in the High Tatras

Medium to hard winter hike in the High Tatras Starting point: Palenica Białczańska (car park) Destination: Szpyglasowy Wierch, High Tatras (2172 m) Total distance: ~20 km Net duration: 7-8 h (highly dependent on the weather and your fitness) (The map shows our second day when we hiked up Szpyglasowy Wierch from the mountain refuge and then descended back to the car park) The High Tatras The High Tatras are the highest section of the Carpathian Mountains and the world’s smallest high mountain range. Its full area belongs to national parks on the two sides of the border. Only one third …

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Vintage cars and crusader castles in Syria

After visiting the southern and eastern parts of Syria, let me share with you the experiences we had along the coast and the around the mountains west of Damascus. Vintage cars in active use, hitching a tractor and the depths of Syrian bureaucracy. Plus the photos. The port of Syria As we looked out of the train from Aleppo to Latakia, we noticed how the landscape turned from shades of brown to green. There were farmlands and even forests near the Mediterranean coast. Latakia itself is a sizeable city, the most important port of Syria. We walked a bit by …

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