Koh Yao Noi "Small long island"
Phi Phi Island
Where the film "The Beach" was filmed.
Ton Sai beach and Railey Beach in Krabi province
Myanmar -- Arika had to do a border run because she was using her US passport. A big mistake, since the regulations had changed and US citizens were only granted 15 days after a one month visa. Brazilians, on the other hand, get three months each time!
Hot springs-- one of the few hot springs in the world that doesn't have any sulphur in the water. It was considered a place for healing and we tested its healing properties by laying on a concrete "healing" floor that was heated by the water. And soaking in the spas.
Nice lunch by the river.
Boat to Koh Tao. Everyone was horribly sick because the ocean was very rough. We survived without vomiting, but barely.
Koh Tao-- "Turtle Island"
Don't be fooled by the name. There are hardly any turtles left since there are many tourists and development here. Its a place that is famous for diving. So we gave it a try.
Since everything close to the beach is more expensive here, we found it more worthwhile to rent a motorbike and stay at a charming guesthouse on top of a mountain. This ended up being the best guesthouse that we staying in in Thailand. (It had wireless too!)
Our guesthouse-- there was also a whale skeleton on the deck.
This is Cao-- the lovely guesthouse dog (on the right :).
The roads were the worst that I ever saw in Thailand. But we still managed to explore the island-- even though I had to walk through some of the worst parts while Mario got the motorbike through.
Fried bugs on the street.
Chiang Rai, Northern Thailand
In the Doi Tung Mountain area.
Jade Buddha that was made as a sister to the famous Emerald Buddha that is in the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The Emerald Buddha used to reside in this temple in Chiang Rai.
Flower festival in Chiang Rai city.
All of the local ethnic groups were represented.
Mario's dream: An elephant ride. Actually, his dream was to ride an elephant into the jungle to discover a forgotten temple covered with vegetation. This was the closest that we could get.
Nossa estratégia para viajar redonda a Tailandia: pega onibus entre as cidades e aluga uma motocicleta quando chegar.
The hilltribe groups of Thailand often rely on ecotourism to make money. This Lahu village (far off the main road) was dedicated to preserving and educating the public about their culture. Their cultural center was well organized with an educational film in different languages, a museum with traditional household items that were donated by members of the village, a small gallery of photos, and homestays for tourists.
View point to the west of Chiang Rai city.
View of Chiang Rai landscape.
Barbeque rats from the rice field that we saw at the market close to our guesthouse.
Hilltribe groups had organized to showcase their cultural diversity for tourists. There are five different groups represented here. Mario was very interested to see the long neck Karen.
Akha statue at the front of the gate into the community.
Another hill tribe group.
A different hill tribe group.
Long-neck Karen women and children. I bought a beautiful scarf from one of them.
Flowers from Doi Tung gardens. A famous destination for Thai tourists since one of the King's official homes is located here.
Temple close to Doi Tung. On top of the mountain and famous for holding a piece of Buddha's bone inside one of the stupas.
Temple outside of Chiang Rai. Made by a famous Thai religious artist. There are beautiful paintings inside, including a model of a monk inside that looks so real that Mario and I sat in front of it and had a whispered discussion: "He's in trance!" "No, he's not. He's fake!"
On the bus ride from Chiang Mai to Pai. My movie star photo :)
PAI, MAE HONG SON PROVINCE
We didn't know this when we arrived, but Pai is the most popular New Year's Eve destination in Thailand for young and hip Bangkok-ians. It was FULL of people. We had to fight to get a motorbike to rent. And later we found out that there are over 500 motorbikes for rent in the town (!). During the rest of the year, Pai is quiet, peaceful, bohemian, liberal, friendly and artistic.
Traditional northern Thai cigar. We borrowed it from a street vendor to try it out.
River and bungalows close to the town center.
New Year's Eve in Pai. There is a tradition to release a balloon into the sky as you make a wish so that your wishes will come true in the future. There were about a thousand of these balloons in the sky during this night. And it was breathtakingly amazing. Like a new solar system of stars.
Chinese village: well-preserved to promote eco-tourism. This area is also famous for their coffee.
Pai canyon. Very cool. These skinny tall trails went off far in the forest and we followed a few of them but never arrived at the end.
Historic bridge outside of Pai
Sunset drink at a resort. The beautiful hand painted umbrellas are one famous local handicraft of the region.