The Return of Leatherback Turtles in Phuket

Even though the pandemic has brought the stop the world, it has also allowed the nature to revive and heal itself.  In Phuket, we had witnessed many leatherback turtles have returned to lay their eggs after a long time of absence since 2017. These ancient leatherback turtles are the largest turtle in the world both for fresh water and sea water. What make them so unique is their leather shells and the pattern that look like starfruit. Since they rely fully on nature for their well-being, fertile nature become most impact factor of their distinction. Phuket and Phang Nga are the ideal places for them to lay eggs especially when the tourists were away.   On the morning of new year 2021, one of the leatherback mothers came ashore to lay her eggs on Kata Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Phuket. The number of nests continue to grow from 13 nests last year to 18 nests altogether this year. This phenomenon is one of the evident that nature have return to fertility.  

After the world return to its normal stage, Thailand will continue to work on green tourism and welcome all the travelers close to the nature and the beauty that Thailand has to offer.


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Bangkok on a bike
A sightseeing tour around Bangkok on a bicycle? Are you mad? Text & Photo : Stefan Christensen No, I don’t have a death wish and my name is not Evil Knievel but taking a tour on a bike around Bangkok is actually really fun – and safe! We are 6 Scandinavians that gathers in the morning at the office of ”Bangkok By Bike” located on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya river. Arne Wilhelmsson is a retired Swedish postal worker who moved to Thailand and needed something to do and in the end it became a company where you explore Bangkok from a bicycle. Safety first First we all have a safety drill, getting our bikes fitted to our different sizes and we also get fitted with a helmet and other means of protection. And off we go! After getting to know our bikes a little bit in the calmer traffic on the Thonburi side of Bangkok we load them onto a river ferry that will take us to Rattanakosin Island where we first will head up to the Khao San Road area. Since its still morning, it’s about 10:am now most of the backpackers is still sleeping and the normally very busy and crowded street shows us a complete different picture compared to what we are used to. The life on the street is very different compared to the nightlife there that is dominated by tourists – at this time a day its dominated by Thai people. Well, when we are done with that we head on to the next sight, passing by both the Royal palace, Wat Phra Khiew and Wat Pho on the way to our next goal. Pak Klong Talat. The flower market. This is a place of so many colours and scents from a vast variety of flowers, plants, incense and other peculiar farm products. This is a feast for both your eyes and your nostrils. Let’s have a coffee break. The other side Now it’s time to head back to ”the other side” and that is the Thonburi side of the river. For that we use the Memorial bridge that was built in 1932 and was one of the first to span the Chao Phraya river. The Thonburi side of the river offers us a close look into ordinary Thai people’s daily life, the tour mainly takes place on smaller footbridges passing very close to peoples home. It’s a different world over here, people smile and laugh and are curious of you and where you come from. Few people here speak English and that is actually a good sign, we are definitely heading out of the tourist attractions. We have our guide with us to translate if we need it, we do pass a few temples along the way like the famous Wat Arun that is on every tourists list and some less famous like Wat Kalayanamit where we can observe ordinary life around a temple. When we need to cross any major road we do it very safely with a flag guard and the fact that traffic here actually is much more calmer and slower compared to the other side of Bangkok – it’s almost like a whole different world. Care about the locals Arne says they never take the exact same route every day, just to avoid disturbing the people living there too much. We stop for a lunch at a typical thai lunch place along the canal and eat a typical Thai lunch consisting of many different dishes to share among us on the table. After the lunch break the tour continues further into what can only be described as the greener parts of Bangkok, close to the klongs or canals as they would be called in the west we get a glimpse of a rural Thai lifestyle almost in the middle of Bangkok. In the end of the tour we load our bikes on a longtail boat and head back through canals and khlongs to the starting point. We are tired but have full of memories of a Bangkok we hardly knew existed. Destination Asien
Taking the Train in Thailand
Text & Photo : Stefan Christensen Train travel…one mode of transportation that has gone from obsolete to chic in only a few years. Five years ago no one wanted to travel by train.  Now, at least the environmentally conscious travelers and those wishing to avoid the hassles and time consumption of airport security, are seeking travel solutions and trains have much to offer. Railways came to Thailand during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (reign: 1868-1910).  Many railway lines were soon stretching out from Bangkok in several directions.  Today, there are basically four directions one can travel by train from Bangkok. The main task for the railways in the early days was hauling freight as opposed to passengers. This remains true today. Many Choices Today, all rail lines in Thailand are run by the State Railway of Thailand. They provide transportation in first, second and third class. There are also options of Special Express, Express, Special DRC Express, Ordinary, Local and more. Unfortunately, none of the different train options is especially fast. In first and second class there is the further option of air-conditioned or not. The air-conditioned option usually means no possibility of opening a window for better photographs or just because the air-conditioning is extremely chilly. This traveller usually opts for a second class seat with a fan. In third class, air-conditioning is not available and adding to the discomfort of the heat, some of the carriages still have wooden seats. So you might end up with a sore bum and a sweat soaked shirt after a few hours ride. The upside is, it is dirt cheap. Ticketing Buying tickets presents its own challenges. Not quite yet in the 21st Century, one cannot buy train tickets online. The only options are to head down to the station and buy them there or go through a travel agent. Added to this challenge is the fact that third class tickets cannot be purchased in advance. Train schedules are generally published online, but again if you want to buy a ticket you need a travel agent to help or you head down to the station yourself. The homepage of the State Railway of Thailand is not exactly user friendly and is more focused on procurement – all in the Thai language. So best to skip that. There is a plethora of supplemental charges, so beware.  However, the base prices start at merely 31 THB for a third class trip to Pattaya and up to 1,683 THB for a first class sleeper trip to Chiang Mai. Food Along the Way Trains in Thailand generally do not have restaurant carriages. But food is rarely far away in the Land of Smiles. There is usually a lady walking up and down the train aisles with food, drinks and snacks to sell. Another food option is to wait until the train reaches a station; Thai trains still stop at most stations and with a wait at each stop. This is an occasion for a swarm of food vendors to enter the train or simply to sell you some delicious “Khao Pad Gai” through the train window. You won’t be starving when traveling on a Thai train. Going North Chiang Mai is the obvious end destination on this line that also services interesting places like Lampang, Ayutthaya and Phitsanulok. The overnight train on the northern line is one of the most modern in Thailand. The Bangkok to Chiang Mai journey takes from 13 to 16 hours, depending on the train type. Going Northeast The northeastern line branches off in the middle of nowhere at the Khaeng Khoi junction. From there, one line heads to Ubon Ratchathani passing places like Surin, Buri Ram and Si Sa Ket. The second branch continues north through Khon Kaen, Udon Thani and ending up in Nong Khai by the mighty Mekong. Ends up is not really true, since a few years ago the line was continued into Laos and its capital Vientiane. The Eastern Line This line used to connect Bangkok with the capitol of Cambodia. In recent years, this line has been closed on the Cambodian side; thus, the journey ends at the border town of Aranyaprathet. The Cambodian section is planned to be reopened for traffic again soon, so train travel will resume between the two capitals. There is an additional rail line that branches off heading south, but it basically is used for transporting freight to and from the big ports. Going West The West line will eventually end up in Nam Tok close to the Myanmar/Burma border, passing through the amazing scenery on what is commonly known as the Death Railway and over the River Khwai. For this route, the train originates at the small Bangkok Noi Station. It is a flat fare of 100 THB in the third class all the way to Nam Tok. Trains leave twice each day from Bangkok Noi Station, hauling 10 – 12 carriages total but with passengers enough for only one. This mystery is resolved at Kanchanaburi Station where day-trip tourists climb onboard for the trip over the famous bridge. Heading South The southern line connects Bangkok with Singapore passing through Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Between the two end points are many interesting places in Thailand worth exploring. The most obvious is Hua Hin, but from south of Hua Hin to Chumphon is home to many small stations where there are nice beaches and small resorts on the coast. This is ideal for those wishing to escape the large masses of tourists. There are four branch lines heading further south – one that heads to Butterworth and destinations further south, one that goes to Sungai Kolok on the eastern part of the Malaysian Peninsula, one that ends up in Nakhon Si Thammarat and one that ends at the Andaman seaside town of Trang. The thing I enjoy most about train travel in Thailand is the opportunity to meet Thai people outside the big city. Don’t hesitate to engage with these...