INDOCHINA without visas 1 series Thailand and Cambodia

The WORLD WITHOUT VISAS: Around the world with Valery Shanin The trip across Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, became the next stage of “The World without Visas” project, in which Valery Shanin travels only around the countries, visa-free for Russians On this travel, his fellow travelers became: biophysicist Yury Sprizhitsky, from Zelenograd situated near Moscow, volcanologist Sergey Chernyshyov, from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, muralist Vitaly Melnichuk, from Moscow, restoration architect Liouba Shchelkotunova, from St. Petersburg, professor of physics Victor Lyamichev, from Chicago and economist Katya Klementieva, from the city of Dolinsk on the island of Sakhalin INDOCHINA without visas 1 series Our travel over the countries of Indochina begins in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand Here is the largest airport of the region The first travellers: Liouba Shchelkotunova and Katya Klementieva have arrived — with a difference of just half an hour It is the first time for both of them to go abroad And Bangkok will become the first foreign city for them to visit Russians can now be met in any country of the world Anton Dryanichkin came to Thailand to learn Thai In his free time, he methodically studies Bangkok Not only in the center of tourist attractions, but also the areas of compact residence with a concentration of national minorities The Chinese quarter of Bangkok — China town — the world’s largest Near it, there is the Indian area. It is called “Small India” Among Bangkok Indians there are Muslims, Buddhists and Christians And also a small sikh community -Please use a different road The Sikh Temple — a Gurdvara — is open for all It is necessary to observe a strict dress code: o cover shoulders and knees, it is obligatory to be barefoot and to cover your head with something — both for women, and men The temple – is three stories high. On the first floor — clothes On the second — the lunch hall Sikhs, free of charge, feed not only each other, but everyone — were so bequeathed by the great guru Nanak In the dining room turns on duty, all the members of the Sikh community – regardless of age and social status The entrance to the Prayer Hall is also open for all The situation is democratic A division according to gender Men sit on the floor to the right of the central pass, and the woman — on the left The Sikh Temple can be seen only from the inside Outside, it is surrounded on all sides by shops, stores and markets – Let’s walk upstairs -The most interesting is at the top! There are so much goods and sellers, that there aren’t enough buyers for them all In one place, they sell goods of light industry In another — vegetables and fruits In the third — flowers In the fourth — food, ready-to-eat meals Often quite exotic In Bangkok, an extensive network of bus routes is established Travelling is cheap There are also officially free buses There are dedicated lanes for public transport on the streets And there are traffic jams Especially in the city center, where there is heavy traffic situation But here, the Chao Praia River helps out On it circulates, freights transport, locals and tourists Three days remain before the arrival of the other participants on this journey Valery, Katya and Liouba have preferred not to stay in Bangkok, and make a short trip to the south-western part of Thailand From the railway station of Thonburi, the train goes to station of Salaya There is already close to the town of Nakhon-Patom — the birthplace of Thai Buddhism

Buddhism has appeared in Thailand, long before Thais The first missionaries have come here in the second century B.C Then have also founded a Buddhist Monastery, the first on the Thai ground In the center of it was poured an earth hillock, which buried part of the relics of Buddha Then its construction was repeatedly growing It was laid over with a layer of bricks Filled in with some earth Then one more layer of bricks Covered with tiles And so, several times in a row The result is a gigantic structure similar to the internal structure of a giant Russian doll The stupa is surrounded from all directions with temples, Buddha’s statues, sacred trees and caves Thousands of pilgrims from across the country come here Everything is constructed here on their donations – Thanks to you. My true friend – And I don’t know what I want During World War II, the Japanese undertook to lay a railway from Thailand to Burma This road was the source of provision for the Japanese troops, who were at war with British at the approaches to India Prisoners were working at the construction site: mainly British, Americans and Australians The construction was conducted in hot tropical climate, in the dense jungle, teeming with poisonous insects and snakes Builders were often ill and died, from malnutrition and hard physical work The road constructed on human bones began to be called “The road of death” Now it is among the most famous tourist attractions of Thailand The most famous construction on “The road of death” – the railway bridge in Kanchanaburi Its glory was brought by Pierre Boulle’s book: “The bridge on the River Kway”, and David Lean’s movie shot on its location, which has received 7 “Oscars” at once The wooden bridge built by the prisoners was destroyed during the war It was later restored Not out of wood, but with concrete and metal The western part of Thailand by which”The road of death” passes, is now occupied by national parks The most popular of them — the Eravan Park It is located approximately 100 km from Kanchanaburi The railroad doesn’t reach there – No need to go in the middle. Confidence is not in the middle. Confidence is inside! You can only get there by the highway For example, by hitchhiking Or on a tourist bus Hundreds of species of wild animals and birds are found in the dense evergreen jungle, on a territory of over five hundred square kilometers There are mountains, rivers, valleys and caves But the main attraction — the seven-cascade falls It is called by the same name as the park — Eravan In Thailand it is dangerous to swim in lakes and rivers There are a lot of venomous snakes in them Only falls don’t have them Snakes don’t love noise But it doesn’t frighten fishes at all Fortunately, none of them is neither poisonous, nor predatory The most widespread type of cars on the Thai roads — pickups In hot tropical climate, it is much nicer to sit in the back, than in the cabin with air conditioning – How was your first experience of hitchhiking? – Remarkable – Katya, how was hitchhiking for you? – Alright Hitchhiking in Thailand is remarkable But nevertheless, it is simpler and more convenient to travel at night-time, by train It’s quick, rather comfortable, and it is very cheap In Prachuap Khiri Khan, travelers are caught in the midst of a tropical rain This is not surprising. After all, summer in Thailand is the rainy season The rains come in almost every day But usually at night For those who sleep under a safe roof, it does not create any inconvenience In the morning, it is usually dry and sunny Prachuap Khiri Khan — one of the largest tourist centers of the central part of Thailand But during the rainy season, few tourists come here On the beach, it is only possible to see fishermen Fish hooked by them, dry directly on the embankment At the top of the hill standing at the beach, there is a small Buddhist temple 396 steps lead to it

The monastery Vat Tkhammikarat, is known as “The monkey temple” There is a lot of monkeys. And there are no monks at all As there are no tourists as well It is possible to pray in almost full privacy, to rehearse or just to enjoy a view of the city and the Gulf of Thailand And again hitchhiking Travelers come back to Bangkok to meet with their fellow travelers In Bangkok, four more have joined the company of our travelers Yury Sprizhitsky, Sergey Chernyshyov, Victor Lyamichev and Vitaly Melnichuk, have arrived from Moscow on the same flight – What are your first impressions of Bangkok? – The first impressions, God given, that they wouldn’t be the last ones – Generally it is not really hot, it is very comfortable, we feel like staying here longer and at the same time, we want to leave from here soon – Very hot and for some reason there is no rain. And I am waiting for it – It is an anthill. Platforms everywhere. There is a lot of people and cars. But it is comfortable, cozy and good – As in Moscow, there is only a lot of cyclists From the airport we all left together to the Khaosan Area, near the Royal Palace Backpackers and independent travelers from Europe and America, usually stop there There is a lot of people here in the afternoon And in the evenings, there are so many pedestrians that, formally passable streets become pedestrian ones Massage salons, bars and discos open On the roadway, little tables of cafes and restaurants are placed From windows and open doors, incendiary dance music can be heard – Super! My whole being sings here ! The soul is flying and I am flying together with it – Today is the 2nd day of our travel. Free traveling. We will return in 4 days In Thailand, there are more than 100th national parks The largest of them — the Khao Yai National Park, is located approximately 175 km to the northeast of Bangkok It is one the five largest reserves of the world and in 2005, it was included in the list of world natural heritage of UNESCO Tourists are brought here in organized groups But, if you wish, it is possible to reach the park independently — by several means of transport Trains go from the central railway station of Hualampong There is a bookstore, the Internet, and trays with freshly cooked exotic dishes – I want to experiment on myself. If we return in three days, it will be good fortune In the majority of Thai trains, there are only third class cars Just as in the suburban electric train or the subway There aren’t many people There are minibuses from the Pak Chong Station, to the entrance of the Khao Yai Park In lorries, there is no air conditioner But it is not hot On the way the wind blows It is comfortable enough But it is very noisy It is necessary to outvoice the noise of the motor and the wind, rushing into cracks Minibuses land passengers at the northern entrance of the territory of the Khao Yai National Park The entrance on the territory is forbidden to public transport Further — only on foot Or hitchhiking In Thailand we often meet pickups Even the seven of us can leave together on one passing car – In my opinion, they transport elephant manure here

In the Khao Yai Park, live elephants and tigers, crocodiles and monkeys, venomous snakes and bats In total, 67 species of mammals and about 300 species of birds The most imprudent of them leave to the highway But the most part prefers to hide in the jungle In the park, over 50 hiking trails are laid One of them begins somewhere near the central office, and goes to the Hayeu Suvat Waterfalls – I suggest to pass on this road The trail is marked and it is possible to follow it without a guide It is only necessary to find the beginning And this is not that simple Travelers have no map They are guided according to the scheme of routes printed in the tourist booklet – Valeri, what kind of jungle will be there? Where are they? Many undertook to help with advice But showed us different directions Perhaps to go at random? The method of “by chance” also did not lead to success They say, lost in the woods people walk in circles So it turned out Having wandered in the wood for a couple of hours, travelers came to the same point they were before – That exact point? – Yes, that one -It is another small river. Because it is impossible to pass the same small river twice Any trail, as we know, has two ends The first didn’t manage to be found But it may be possible to find the second It has to be somewhere near the Hayeu Suvat Waterfalls And it is also possible to reach them by the asphalted road We settled for the night in a hotel closed for the rainy season We have put the tents on the platform of the second floor There is a roof But walls in tropics, are not necessary Most of the members of the expedition were in a jungle for the first time There are so many exotic plants I would like to look at them carefully And even taste them – This we can eat. It’s hazelnut, isn’t it? It’s bitter In the national park, live elephants, tigers and crocodiles But usually only monkeys can be seen The presence of elephants is given only by heaps of fresh manure, and crocodiles are presented with the warning plates – Specially, we let tourists know that they have enough food The most real danger trapping travelers in the jungle – leeches It is necessary to be carefully prepared for a meeting with them – I am protected At the Hayeu Suvat Waterfalls, we found the beginning of the trail It will be easier from now on The trail is marked by red marks However, it isn’t always easy to find them in the dense wood During the rainy season, there is a lot of water in the jungle It flows sideways from the wood, squelching beneath the feet and flows from above on the head – How many times you have already been bitten – That’s not the right word for it! These are directly pointed hits – Here is one clung onto me, here’s the second The sky is overcast with dark clouds After sunset, the next rain will begin And it has begun Fortunately, travelers have managed to go to the central office of the park It is better to look at a tropical heavy rain from under a roof In the morning it was time to leave the national park In just the same way, as we have got to it Only in the opposite direction — to the south We returned to civilization

In its most vivid expression Pattaya — Thailand’s main resort The street on the seashore is called in English – Walking Street Traffic is forbidden And the whole street is a long shopping center under the open sky All for tourists Both “usual” Thai snackbars and western fast food, institutions with fresh seafood and ethnic restaurants — from Indian to Russian There are strip-tease bars, pubs, discos, massage salons and gift shops here And there isn’t less inscriptions in Russian, than in English Russian speech is heard from all directions For most of tourists, Pattaya — is Thailand The Ko Samet Island is connected to the mainland by ferry But it can also be reached by boat It’s a bit more expensive, but faster Koh Samet stretches from north to south, and is shaped like a miniature South America The northern part of the island is relatively wide But as we move to the south of the island, it becomes narrower and narrower Along the east coast, the sandy beaches which are built up with hotels and guest houses, extend The western coast is rocky and almost wild Here it is easy to find a place for camping, and a fin for a fire At night, a thunder-storm has begun Tents haven’t passed the test and leaked All things were soaked And it was necessary to gather them in the rain It is time to come back to the continent In the beginning on a pickup, and then on the ferry We have returned to Bangkok But it also rains here Downtown slowly but surely, goes under water Only Vat Arun, the Buddhist temple opposite to the Royal palace remains standing, an island of tranquility and stability Cambodia Cambodia — one of the most mysterious and exotic countries of Asia In ancient times, there was a powerful and advanced civilization – the empire of Khmers At the time of its blossoming in the 9th-13th centuries AD, its territory was composed of present Cambodia and part of the neighboring countries of Indochina The city of Angkor was the capital of the empire of Khmers Now, only ruins are left of the city But they annually attract millions of tourists from around the world Tourists settle in the town of Siem Reap, located just 6 km from the Angkor ruins There are hotels and guest houses, restaurants and cafes, massage parlors and brothels, souvenir shops and bookstores – Madam, beautiful – Madam is already falling – 20 books for one dollar – No Angkor was founded in the 9th century, and existed until the middle of the 15th century During its heyday, more than one million people lived in the area of about one thousand sq. km After another attack from Thais, during which Angkor was heavily damaged, Khmers moved their capital to Phnom Penh And the ruins thrown as superfluous, have been absorbed by the jungle At the end of the last century, Angkor began to be cleared and restore

And now, over two and a half million tourists come here annually Angkor Wat is officially recognized as the world’s largest cult construction It strikes with its huge size and full symmetry — to all four sides of the world Initially it was devoted to the Hindu god Vishnu, the divine patron of the empire of Khmers But later in Cambodia, Buddhism began to expand And Buddha’s statues have replaced the Hindu sculptures During the blossoming of the empire of Khmers, there were over 800 temples in Angkor Part of them have been restored And they are still used for their intended purpose Temples were built of light stones Most often they used the red-brown porous laterite and yellow sandstone Blocks carefully grind together Between them, there was no crack left and it wasn’t necessary to use binding solution Artists decorated walls with ornaments and bas-reliefs, carved stone statues and sculptures In the process of restoration, the temples had to be disassembled and then assembled again Architects have numbered the stone blocks, they have cut the trees growing on the ruins, they have uprooted roots, and then have put the stones back — in the order that they assume they should be Almost all statues and bas-reliefs had to be created anew Restorers didn’t cut out the lost elements from a stone They were stuck together from cement It is simpler and cheaper In the countries of Indochina, for the independent travelers, there is always a temptation to give up their autonomy for a little while, and to use the services of one of the many travel companies n addition to standard tours, these companies always have a huge selection of tickets to all the popular tourist destinations Tourist buses are faster and cheaper Of course, if the bus doesn’t get stuck And it sometimes happens