A Travellerspoint blog

December 2019

Bangkok's many faces to chilled Railay Beach and Islands

sunny -34 °C

Back in Thailand again!

The bustling pace of Bangkok lured us back on our return through Asia. We started with the "same same" but tried to look through different lenses.

View of Wat Arun Ratchavararam and Sanam Luang from the Chao Phraya river

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Hawker's food market

Ducking in for a brunch after our ferry ride, we met this lovely lady serving the most delicious soup. This started our walk toward Bangkok flower market.

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The intention was to follow the "famous" street art but we got lost and only saw a few pieces.

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Streets on the way all had their explicit roles. "Motor-parts" street left me flabbergasted with each shop in the dim, narrow road, each selling their trade on one part of the car. There was exhaust shop, engine shop, wheel shop - all with piles of metal and often one person working on one part.

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Flower Market

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The people

We walked back to this lady's eatery from our first visit in Krum Kasem Road. We remembered her for the amazing flavours and her lovely smiles.

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This lady just beamed when we passed her. She was working with her sewing machine, on the street, as many vendors do around Bangkok.

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Salt Farm

We escaped the hustle and bustle on a "Withlocals" tour. Hansa our amazing guide took us to a salt farm, fish farm, mangroves and for a lovely meal. Truly the only tourists we saw for the whole day, were us! Magical. It was a completely fascinating day to the south of Bangkok city. We met the farmers and had a glimpse of day to day life for many people, not just our hosts.

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Fish Farm

We travelled up the watery streets on a boat, powered by gas canister. This was the only way to get to the stilted village.

The farm had it's own jetty which led to a path along the bank of one of their lakes (straight off the sea) and to the farm house.
It was a beautiful location with lovely people.

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The Lunch

And the food kept coming! It was a spectacular spread with so much local seafood- straight out of the seawater. Delicious battered prawns, mussels, fish in spices and royalty parcels stuffed with prawn and pork- a foodies heaven.

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Flying south....Ao Nang, Railay Beach and the islands

Ao Nang, famed for being a bit touristy certainly lived up to this but it was a fabulous gateway to explore for a few days.

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Our favourite restaurant- the most amazing battered prawns, but everything was delish!

Railay Beach

Railay Beach is more laid back pace wise. The only way there is on the water, for us by long boat taxi.

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Monkey monkey on the tree...and path...and roof...and balcony...
Not uncommon for these cheeky characters to climb onto your balcony, check the doors, open if they can and steal from the mini-bar.

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The odd human monkeys like to climb the cliffs here too. Railay is a climbing destination.

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Five Island Day Trip

Our day out on the sea was so lovely. Visiting Phi Phi Island and surrounds we soaked in the crystal clear, luke-warm waters, dived off boats in natural steep cliffed lagoons, snorkelled and dined. It was great to see slightly fewer crowds to begin with as we left on an early bird tour- really worth it!

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Path to the Phallic Cave

One unusual (for me anyway) place on Railay Beach is the cave on Pranang Beach - dedicated to the gifting of male penises!

The beach/cliffs are is also a rite of passage for climbers....not the cave that is.

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And after all that hard work, there are many chilled out bars...

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That should put a smile on your face.

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Posted by PhilFhi travels 22:37 Archived in Thailand Tagged food bangkok "ao_nang" Comments (0)

Autumn Fall in Kyoto and Kanazawa- Japan

木漏れ日- Komorebi - Sunlight filtering through the trees

semi-overcast
View Japan- traditional Kyoto to Kanazawa on PhilFhi travels's travel map.

木漏れ日

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Persuaded to visit Japan, we really did not know what to expect. It was not on our radar. It really did not take long for it to surpass our expectations; fresh delicious food, incredibly courteous people and a culture built on respect and pride- not to mention spectacular scenery and trains that leave on time! Autumn fall is a must for you to visit in November in this area. Kyoto has so much to explore in and around the city, whilst you would enjoy Kanazawa as a base to explore- we could have stayed much longer here to hike in the alps.

Kyoto

We travelled to Kyoto by the Thunderbird Express. Our hotel positioned itself in a narrow, dim lit street near the centre. Our first experience was to eat at a Yakitori where we had such a typical warm welcome, small Japanese kebabs. What a find!

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On our first full day, we hired bikes and cycled to Arashiyama where we visited the bamboo forest. Cycling is great around Kyoto as well as being incredibly easy. Everybody was so polite to us as we navigated the rules of the road!

Bamboo Forest

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We visited Tenryu - ji temple - with beautiful gardens, displaying the on set of autumn's red trees peering over the river. Over Togetsukyo bridge we climbed the steep steps to to Monkey Park- the most well behaved monkeys I have ever had the privilege to meet. Better than the tourists!

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Monkeys visiting the tourists in their enclosure- Monkeys free, tourists behind the cage

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"Just get off your phones and look at us will you!"

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Taking a ride in a traditional jinrikisha taxi

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"No-it's my turn!"

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Cycling past small rice paddy fields led us up hill to Ryoan - ji temple - rock garden/ old manor house....

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...and then on to Kinkaku - ji temple (Golden Temple) as the sun started to set. It's final statement was to exhale onto The Golden Temple in a truly magical way. We timed that really well indeed!

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We took the train to Inari - Fushimii nari tiashi shrine - famous for it's orange/ red pillar like structures to the top of the hill. It was a long walk up too! It felt like millions of stairs to the clouds. If you are visiting- arrive very early and the further you climb the fewer the numbers.

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Tofukuji temple.

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On way home we visited the Higashi - honganji temple. Our step count was fantastic on this day.

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After a little rest we walked to the Hyakumanben Chionji Temple in the Gion district and managed to get the last two tickets to Gion Kaikan to watch a Geisha show. This was so fortuitous as it was for locals and not the tourists. It was one of only 10 performances in the whole year where the general public could see Geisha perform.

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Giesha were spotted in the evening rushing around the backstreets as we walked, but respectfully we took no photos at this time.

Japanese pancake followed by more yakatori!

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We walked up to Kiyomizu Temple with it’s beautiful views across the city. The leaves were gorgeous here.

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We were interviewed by children from a local school which was fun.

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After that we walked past Yasaka Pagoda and into the old town part of Kyoto.

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This was lovely but a bit crowded so we rushed through.
As with all of the old districts, couples and friends, from local or afar were dressing up in kimonos.

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Our final stop for this day, was through the market, where we tried Octopus balls. I quite enjoyed it but not to Fhi’s taste.

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In the evening we visited the best Japanese restaurant in town. Effectively we had a private chef who cooked phenomenal seafood and vegetarian dishes.

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The perfect end to our stay in Kyoto

Kanazawa

We travelled on the Thunderbird Express to Kanazawa; a 3 hour train ride past padi fields, the sea towards our left and mountains to our right. The rice fields were always immaculately presented. As we drew closer to Kanazawa, snow capped peaks could be seen in the distance.

In town, our first walk saw us visit Kanazawa Castle. Humongous tree trunks buffered the roof to make the castle gate impenetrable.

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Built in the 1500s and habited by The Samurai until fire partially destroyed the castle, it now stands looking over Kenrokuen Gardens, originally a private gardens to share with guests.

The gardens are stunning. Symmetry between views and water mirroring play a big part.

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Also a rope structure, that we thought was decorative, was being assembled on all of the trees. However, this is preparation for winter. The rope holds up the branches and stops the weight from breaking the trees.

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It was amazing watching the workers construct so precisely and neatly.

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In the evening we ate at an Okonomiyaki. The chef brings the ingredients and cooks the dishes in front of you.

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Takayama

We got up early and caught the bullet train (Hokuriku Shinkansen) to Toyama and then another train to travel up to Takayama.

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After a long winding mountain train ride, we arrived. Takayama has a beautifully kept old town. You could imagine how it would have felt to walk it in days gone by.

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The beef sushi was delicious.

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Signs warned us of bears in the area as we walked closer to the woods.

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The reward, up this quiet and off the beaten track pathway, was the most spectacular leaf display. It blows your mind. And you'd enjoy it pretty much by yourself too.

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Being on a mountains edge, one side was Japanese maple and other deciduous trees. The other side, ruler straight, ancient ever-greens pierced the sky- pure brilliant green. The contrast was amazing.

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The colours were exploding in the forest. Simply breathtaking.

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From here we walked to Hida No Sato. This is Hida Folk Village; an actual village, (historical) reconstructed into a museum. Metre thick thatched roofs looked like tents.

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Shirakawago

It was another early start and a bus journey up to a village called Shirakawago. Shirakawago is a listed world heritage site, protecting the traditional buildings within this mountain town.

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Unlike Hida, people still live here. Padi fields are mixed with the same style traditional vernacular houses. The autumnal fall was like an artist’s palette. Wow!
Breathtaking was an understatement. Shirakawago is surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountain walls. You could see that, despite being picture postcard beautiful, it would surely be brutal in the depths of winter.

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The best udon noddle beef soup was consumed here. Very hearty and tasty indeed.

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Simply walking around the houses and up to the view point was a treasure and well worth a visit.

Samurai

On our final walk around Kanazawa we walked through the Samurai Quarters with it’s walled and moated area. This was the area where the warriors trained.

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Another tempura lunch and one more final exploration of Kanazawa’s old quarter, Daygon entertainment hub, before leaving this amazing city.

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Tucking into Kanazawa's much famed gold leaf ice cream. The most expensive Mr Whippy ever.

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Kanazawa market

Meticulously clean and ordered, Kanazawa is a mecca for snow crab buyers in November. Ranging upwards of $200 NZ / 100 pounds approx for one in good condition, this was quite an experience to see - people were buying them readily at the start of the day.

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If you buy anything delicious to eat in any Japanese market, remember not to walk around eating it- use their little eating rooms to the side if possible.

Posted by PhilFhi travels 21:11 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

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