Exciting World

Seek out the extraordinary

I'm the left bar, and I haven't found my purpose yet. Maybe I'll be gone quite soon. It was nice to know you

This is where I'll keep you posted!

A week and a half in Thailand

Hi there everybody. It has been a while, but I finally got another break from uni, which allowed me to go on vacation again. And it's a rather big trip that I had been looking forward to for a long time. And not only was I finally able to pay a visit to Thailand, but I also got the opportunity to do it with my brother, just before he left for Australia. Since the dates of my last exam and his departure happened to be at roughly the same time, the two of us decided to have some fun time together. So, on the best date which you could possibly pick for a flight - the 11th of September - the two of us left Germany for Bangkok. But since he needed a one-way and I a return-ticket, we could not get on the same plane, which sucked a lot. But in the end, we made it and met each other at our hostel (Everyday Bangkok Hostel).

A lot of traffic in Bangkok
Bangkok is a very busy city filled with a lot of smog
A view over Bangkok
A bit of the skyline from a temple
One of the many shrines of Buddhas
A typical shrine, full of golden Buddha statues
Okay, our Bangkok experience wasn't so great. We're both not exactly big city people, so after we had gotten a first impression of the city and seen most of its sitting, standing and sleeping Buddhas, as well as a few temples, we decided to move on. And that happened as follows:

After we had decided that we would leave Bangkok but had not made any more detailed plans, we were just walking around the "old town" having a look at everything, when a guy started talking to us. Obviously, that happens all the time, but in that instant we did listen to him since he did seem to have a lot of good advice. Anyway, he ended up doing what appeared to be stopping a "Tuk Tuk" (a sort of motorbike, but for two passengers to sit on) for us and instructed the driver to stop at a couple of sights for us. Well, it all went pretty smooth, but one of these stops was called "TAT" and basically was a tourist agency. OK we thought, since we're here we might as well go in and have a look, maybe get a firmer grasp on what to do next. The guy at the counter was super friendly and seemed quite professional, starting out by showing us a number of letters from many countries in Europe that former customers had sent him, proving that he was the best tourist agent in the world.

Yeah, so we got into talking, explained to him what we wanted to see and do, and he knew how to do it. And so we actually ended up booking trips for the following two weeks with him, for a total of 27200 Baht, which amounts to 715€ or 840 US$. All we got in return was an envelope containing two pieces of paper that looked like authentic train tickets and a lot of loose papers on which he had written what they were for and how to get there, plus a stamp saying "PAID" and his signature "Joe".

We did save the location of that bureau and took a picture of all the paperwork including the sum we paid him, but we got no receipt or anything else to prove that a transaction of a lot of money had taken place. "Maybe that's the way things are done here", I thought. So we completed our sightseeing tour, another stop of which was a taylor's shop that wanted to sell us shirts and suits, but here we stayed strong and walked right out of it again. Interestingly, at the "sitting Buddha", we met a guy who happened to have a brother who worked in Frankfurt and lived in Bad Soden, which is the town in which I was born. What a coincidence, or was it? That travel agent had seen my passport after all. What was going on here?

So, me and my brother got a worse and worse feeling about what had happened to us by the hour, since it is well known that the local police is not exactly helpful to tourists. My brother ended up spending a lot of the night making plans on how to get our money back and I didn't have a good night either. All the more surprised we were when we did get picked up at the appointed hour from our hostel, by a van with tainted windows...

After that van had picked up a number of other people from different locations, our doubts and mistrust towards the poor driver slowly subsided and we realized that at least the first step of our tour would actually come to a positive conclusion. And so it did!

Our accomodation on the river
There was no luxury, but staying on the "Kitti Raft" was very enjoyable
That first stop was called "Kitti Raft", a floating houseboat on a river in the middle of the jungle, in relative proximity to the Erawan National Park. It was an amazing place, mosquitoes were bearable during daylight, food was included and we did all sorts of activities during our three day two night stay.

Vegetation at the Hellfire Pass
When your not a prisoner of war, hiking the Hellfire Pass is actually nice
The first stop, which was still on the way to the raft, was a museum that was all about World War II. From there we took a "scenic" train ride over the "River Kwai Bridge" for part of the way. Then we got back into the van and had lunch at the raft. Afterwards we took a hike at "Hellfire Pass", a location where prisoners of war had been forced to try to drive a train track through the jungle and its solid rock. That had happened under the worst of conditions, cost many lifes and was never completed. Nowadays, the area is rather pleasant, but learning what had happened there (we had an audio guide) and seeing the evidence of it right there was harsh.

Mangrove like trees in the stream
Lush vegetation in the National Park
One of the seven steps of the waterfall
One of the seven steps at the Erawan waterfalls
And more trees
Another pic to give you an impression of what the National Park looks like
The next day we visited Erawan National Park with its seven waterfalls. It's a magnificient area, the hike starts out very easy and gradually becomes harder, until the last bit of it is actually challenging. You can swim at many of its steps, an experience that is definetly recommendable! We did not have too much time though and only went into the water at the very top, where there are fish that will give you peeling if you put your feet into the shallow water. You won't be able to stand it if you're ticklish! On the way back we were surprised by extremely heavy rainfall. Very authentic in a rainforest, and so strong that it soaked through my backpack and killed my high-end powerbank :/. Then we went back to the raft for lunch and headed out again. Originally, we were supposed to visit a cave, but the rain made that impossible, so we visited another waterfall and took a swim and a heavy shower.

On our final day, we went elephant riding, which is cool but nothing to remember for the rest of your life, and "bamboo rafting" on that overflowing river we stayed on. That was very nice, but also gave us a sunburn even though it was a cloudy day.

Riding a motorbike on Koh Tao
You don't need a licence to drive a motorbike on Koh Tao (inofficially). Be aware of scammers though, it can get extremely expensive
Scenic view over Koh Tao
You usually have to pay a small fee to visit Koh Tao's many lookout points
On the dive boat
Chillin' out on the way back from one of the dive sites
Afterwards we were brought back into the civilized world, visited a big temple and a local night market in a town that didn't seem used to foreigners, since many people stared, smiled or waved at us, with some being even bold enough to say hi, and then be super happy when we replied. From there we took a night train to Chumpon and then a boat to Koh Tao, were we stayed at the Carabao Dive Resort. My brother got his Open Water SSI (a dive certification) and I went for a total of ten fun dives. Diving on Koh Tao is good and cheap, but there is better. So don't expect too much if you've been diving in other famous places already, but it might just be perfect to get your Open Water licence, since most of the dive sites are not challenging at all while still featuring a lot of interesting marine life. Unfortunately I don't have a camera that takes decent underwater pictures, but I got heaps of excellent videos, which I'm hoping to somehow include here eventually. Other than that the island is super small and you can drive all over it in probably less than two hours on a motorbike. In the right places, you get excellent Thai food for 80 to 120 Baht, so in between 2 and 3 Euros.

And now we are on Koh Phangan, the island that has the all famous full-moon parties, and are just figuring out whether we should or should not attend tonights fairly expensive "waterfall party"...

Edit 23rd of September 2018


If you want to check out the video directly in Youtube, for example from within the app, use this link: Crossing the River Kwai Bridge

 

Hiking to the Boyana waterfall

A picture of the track
This is what the track looked like when it was not covered in snow
Alright, let me tell you what I've been doing yesterday. So, I had intended to study my stuff further, but then the weather was so good - and the forecast for today was not - that I decided to rather go hiking to the Boyana waterfall with two guys from the hostel. One of them was the Australian who had been with me on the tour to the monastry. His bed's right next to mine and also we've been exploring the Bulgarian cuisine together for a bit, so we got to know each other fairly well during this time. The other guy was born in Australia as well but moved as a kid and is now living in Canada. So the three of us started out walking from the hostel towards Vitosha Mountain. At the foot of it is the small Boyana Church, nothing very special though. To get there took us probably a bit more than an hour. From there a number of tracks led into the woods and up the mountain.

A picture of the waterfall
A picture of the waterfall
Another picture of the waterfall
The waterfall from down below
As I said, we were headed to the waterfall, which was supposed to take 1.45 hours. In the beginning everything was fine and we made good way, but as we ascended further the temperature dropped a little (it was still warm) and the first few dots of remaining snow appeared. After a while, passages of the path were fully covered in hard trampeled snow. But since it was melting it was extremely slippery, and especially steep passages became quite challenging! Also, a lot of water from the melting snow was flowing over the path, at some places in quite strong streams that had to be crossed very carefully. So that took us a while. The trip from the hostel to the waterfall took a good three hours in total. But then we made it and got to see the waterfall, which is not quite as impressive as some others I've seen, but the hike is still really nice. Probably even more when the track is not covered in snow and mud. So we had a break there, took pictures, of course, and then headed back.

A picture of Boyana lake
This is Boyana lake
A picture of the three toads
Threeway toadstyle
We took a little detour though, that would also allow us to see Boyana lake. The lake is rather small, but we got to see something quite unusual. We seemed to have picked exactly the right time for the frog and toad mating season! The first thing we saw were three toads, supposedly two males and a female, hanging on to each other and motionlessly floating at the surface, presumably for hours! And just a couple of meters from there was a lot of vegetation in the water, and that was the mating spot for the frogs. A good twenty of them were just sitting there in their own spawn, croaking and occasionally staggering to another spot. So that was quite interesting and sort of funny to watch.

And that was pretty much it. From therse it took us just about 15 mins back to the first houses from where we took Bus no. 64 back to the city.

After getting some dinner, taking a shower and chillin' for while a few of us decided to go out for a drink together. Sofia seems to be really quiet on Saturdays though, not too many people out on the streets, but we still got to enjoy ourselves for a while, although we spent the most part of the evening just walking about the city center

 

A trip to the holiest monastery in Bulgaria
Rila Monastery and hiking with the moreto & caffeto hostel

A picture of the monastery
A picture of the chapel
A picture of the monastery
Living quarters?
A picture of the monastery
One of the frescos at the chapel
A picture of the monastery
The monastery from the outside
So yesterday, the owner of the hostel I'm staying at right now, which is a different one than before, asked me if I was interested in going on this tour to a monastery. Since I had done hardly anything but studying since I came to Sofia, I didn't ask many questions and just agreed to be in the common area by 9 am this morning. So then me, the owner, who is a super friendly girl from Ukraine, and three other guests got into a car and drove to the monastery, which is an eastern orthodox one. For more info about the place click the link in the heading. The monastery itself is surrounded by high walls and covered in religios frescos, which are quite impressive. Unfortunately, one is not allowed to take pictures of the inside. As soon as we had seen everything we went to get some Bulgarian Donuts and then followed a smaller path down to a secluded cemetary that we had a look at.

A picture of the the holy spring
The holy spring that cleans your body
Once we had seen everything around there we took a short drive to another place, from where we hiked to a cave where Saint Ivan of Rila had lived as a hermit. There was a small chapel there as well, and next to it the entrance to the cave. It was very narrow and there was hardly enough light to take pictures. The place where that man spent his days had the size of a small room. The second exit, which went up, was again so narrow that one could just fit through. According to the common belief, when you enter that cave your soul will be puriefied and you will leave all your bad traits behind once you leave. So I guess I can count myself lucky and pure now :D. From there, another five minute walk took us to a spring of holy water, which did the same to our body that the cave had done to our souls. Also, we left a small note with a wish behind, and we shall see if it comes true...

The path up the hill
The way up the hill we took
The strange soil formations
The strange soil formations
The view over the town
The view over the town
Since everybody agreed that we should do even more hiking, we then drove to another place that had the strangest formations of earth and rocks around it. Basically, you would get columns of earth that would be held together by a rock sitting on top of them. Wind and water would wash away the soil around the rock, but by some mechanism that I don't know the rock would keep the soil underneath in its place, until it sat on a multiple meters high column. We walked around there for a while, taking pictures and enjoying the sun.

And now we are back, having a beer, sitting in the common area and just chillin'. Tomorrow I'll have a look at javascript, which almost completes my webdesign crashcourse. After having a closer look at PHP I should then be able to go deeper into a more stable, useful and sofisticated design of this site

Cheers and see ya later

 

A picture of myself

Hi there! My name is Matthias vom Bruch. My long-term plan is to get whatever is required to live the life of a digital nomad. In short, that means to travel a lot. I am from Germany, which is why you will probably find quite a few clumsy expressions in my writing. Sorry about that

One thing I like best about traveling is to meet other people, who can tell great stories about their lifes, that really get you to think about the possibilities waiting out there! Before I travelled, I thought so many things were not possible, that I now have seen people do!

Also, I like sharing my own stories and seeing how they affect other people's lifes, hopefully and most likely to the better!

So this site will be my storytelling homebase, my hord of exciting facts and tales about this world. And I want as many people out there to participate, to join in and share what gets (or got) their hearts racing! From their best (special) day-trips to the most uncommon and genious life-plan they might have come up with. Join me in revealing the unexplored life-paths out there! We are people of one world, not of many countries