19 Dec - 31 Dec 2012 Bangkok

Kingdom of Thailand aka The Land of Conditional Smiles
Bangkok aka Krung Thep Maha Nakhon aka The Big Mango
Khlong San
58 Soi 1, Sarapee 3, Krungthonburi Road
Aiya Residence & Sport Club +6628621611 info@aiyaresidence.com
Economic double-room studio (no. 603) with kitchenette and air-con for THB 9,000.- or US$ 294.- per month (plus THB 6.85/kWh and THB 21.4/cbm for utilities), including free access to a large, 30m-long swimming pool (big enough to do laps) and a heated out-door Jacuzzi.
Friendly, helpful and very professional staff.
Wifi for THB 550.- or US$ 18.00 per month.
Beer: 640-ml bottles of cold Archa Lager Beer (c. 5.4 % alc./vol.) for THB 38.- or US$ 1.25 per large bottle from any of the 7-Eleven convenience stores in our neighbourhood.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Aiya Residence & Sports Club in Bangkok, which we would highly recommend, and for directions:

Dialling it down a notch, recharging our batteries and enjoying down-time from this year’s intense travels, thus catching up on some long overdue admin work (e.g. answering emails, editing photos, making money), doing laps in the hotel’s sparkling swimming pool twice a day and enjoying life’s simple pleasures in Bangkok, one of Southeast Asia’s most liveable cities: (i) pigging into genuine Thai street food in our non-touristy suburb Khlong San (our newly discovered favourites: Yum Woon Sen Goong [glass-noodle salad with a mix of blanched seafood] and Yum Lap Phla [minced/chopped grilled catfish with mint, lemongrass and chillies, served with sticky rice]), (ii) (window-)shopping at Bangkok’s busy markets and glitzy shopping malls and (iii) socialising and having fun with friends, old and new, from Thailand and from other regions in this world; many thanks for being great buddies and a Happy New Year 2013 to you all!

Celebrating together with our close friend Mandy from England our scheduled arrival in the netherworld (at least according to the Mayan prophecy about the end of the world as we know it) on the evening of the 22nd of December with a few Changs and a delicious pescetarian/vegetarian hot pot aka Thai suki at the nearby MK Restaurant +6624395812.

Exploring Bangkok’s traditional suburbs on the Thonburi side of the serpentine Chao Phraya River thus (i) enjoying the flamboyant colours, sounds and aromas of local markets, (ii) finding serenity and diversion in centuries-old Buddhist temples (“… everything in moderation, including moderation …”) and (iii) meeting the hard-working and hard-partying locals in their everyday life and during their turbulent festivals (e.g. during King Taksin the Great’s enthronement anniversary).

Matt: Coming to grips with my first haemorrhagic stroke, which occurred quickly and like a bolt from the blue, and observing very interesting, but lasting symptoms: (i) disequilibrium, (ii) paralysis on one side of the body and trouble with walking, (iii) cognitive confusion and trouble with understanding plus slurred speaking (even without beer); shit happens.
“What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - It's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies...”
Bidding adieu to the year 2012 CE, a really interesting year with many miles covered and much beer consumed, and planning our upcoming travels for the new year 2013 CE, our thirteenth’s year of life as free and independent PTs: Southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo, South Korea and Japan, Kalimantan and Taiwan.

“Not all those who wander are lost.” 

Click below for more blog posts about our visits to Bangkok
01 Oct - 29 Oct 2014 Bangkok
13 Mar - 18 Apr 2013 Bangkok
01 Jan - 22 Jan 2013 Bangkok
08 Feb - 06 Mar 2012 Bangkok
01 Mar - 01 May 2010 Bangkok

Click below for a summary of this year's travels

Recommended books - click below for your Amazon order from the United Kingdom

For Amazon schnaeppchens from Germany, please click here
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For Amazon deals from Canada, please click here

17 Dec - 18 Dec 2012 Macau

Macau Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China
Rua da Felicidade No. 67
San Va Hospedaria +85328573701 info@sanvahotel.com
Atmospheric and adequate double room (“Grand Room” no. 302) with shared bathroom for MOP (“Macau Pataca”) 170. - or US$ 21.30 per night in an almost 150-year old (“since 1873”) opium-den-turned guesthouse, located in Macau’s once infamous red-light district. Ignorant Chinese staff, zero English.
Beer: 640-ml bottles of cold Haizhou Beer from the mainland (c. 4.1 % alc./vol.) for MOP 5.- or US$ 0.60 per large bottle from any of the eager Portuguese neighbourhood stores.

Click below for an interactive road map of the rugged San Va Hospedaria in Macau and for directions:
N 22° 11.69' E 113° 32.26'



Taking a stroll in Macau’s sanitised old-town district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with cobblestoned streets punctuated with small Chinese temples and proud Portuguese churches (e.g. the Macau Cathedral located near Senado Square and the 17th-century CE Church of St. Dominic with its treasury of sacred art) and exploring the ethereal ruins of the very symbol of Macau at the 1602 CE Church of St. Paul, probably the greatest monument to Christianity in Asia.

Getting historical context for our discoveries and impressions at (i) the excellent Macau Museum aka Museu de Macau +85328357911 (admission: MOP 8.- or US$ 1.- per senior citizen; motto: "...informing, educating and amusing..."), which demonstrates the way of life and cultures of the various communities which have been inhabited Macau for ages, and (ii) the very authentic but somewhat quaint Tak Seng On Pawnshop Museum +85328921811 (admission: MOP 5.- or US$ 0.60 per adult).
“In poetically well built museums, formed from the heart's compulsions, we are consoled not by finding in them old objects that we love, but by losing all sense of Time.”

Climbing Monte Fort aka Fortaleza do Monte, built by the Jesuits in the early 17th century CE, and picturing to ourselves the arrival of Portuguese galleons establishing their first base on Chinese soil and striking out into the East, opening up a new route for reciprocal acquaintance.

"Macau is China's domestic market. Don't care if you are Chinese, Indian, European; you are supposed to go to the buffet."

Taking Macau’s convenient airport bus MT2 to the airport (MOP 4.20 or US$ 0.50 per person), flying uneventfully with  Air Asia (“Now Everyone Can Fly”) in an Airbus A 320-200 from Macau International Airport over the disputed waters of the South China Sea (“…one flew East, one flew West, and one flew over the cuckoo's nest...”) back to Kuala Lumpur’s KLIA-LCCT for only US$ 64.50 per person, one way and all inclusive, and thereafter, again with Air Asia in another signature-red Airbus A 320-200 (they look like giant Coca-Cola cans) from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok’s revitalised Don Mueang International Airport for a rather steep US$ 71.- per person, also one way and all inclusive, setting our watches in mid-air from Malaysia Standard Time (GMT/UTC + 8:00 hours) back to Indochina Time (GMT/UTC + 7:00 hours), and, after arrival, taking Bangkok's city bus 510 from the airport to the BTS Skytrain’s Mochit Station (THB 17.- or US$ 0.55 per person) and from here the BTS Skytrain (THB 40.- or US$ 1.30 per person) straight to our quarters in Khlong San.

Masking Asia
© Konni & Matt

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13 Dec - 17 Dec 2012 Hong Kong

Hong Kong
Southern Kowloon Peninsula
Tsim Sha Tsui
36 - 44 Nathan Road
Chungking Mansions
B7, 10th Floor, Block B
Apple Hostel +85223699802 applehostelhk@yahoo.com.hk
Small but clean and perfectly adequate budget-double room (no. 151) with shared bathroom and wifi, for HKD (“Hong Kong Dollar”) 309.- or US$ 38.70 per night. Friendly and reliable staff.
Beer: 500-ml cans of cold San Miguel’s Blue Ice Beer (5.0 % alc./vol.) for HKD 6.- or US$ 0.80 per large can from any of the small grocery stores on the mansion’s ground floor.

Click below for an interactive road map of the Apple Hostel in Kowloon, which we would recommend, and for directions:


Viewing from Kowloon’s east-meets-west Avenue of Stars, by day and by night, Hong Kong’s magnificent skyline, where high finance meets haute couture, watching the kitschy but impressive star-wars-like laser show Symphony of Lights and trying to remember the names for each one of the countless towering signature high-rises between Sheung Wan and Admiralty on the opposite side of Victoria Harbour, e.g. (i) the spectacular, 70-storey, prism-like 367-m high Bank of China Tower, (ii) the HSBC Main Building, designed by Norman Foster and constructed entirely of structural steel without any reinforced concrete, or (iii) the 415-metre-tall Two International Finance Centre, the highest building on Hong Kong Island.

“It's not rocket science.
Hong Kong has 95 % tax compliance,
because it's code is only four pages long with a 15 % flat tax.”

Exploring Hong Kong’s vibrant living culture by means of (i) the iconic Star Ferry thus crisscrossing Victoria Harbour between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island for only HKD 3.60 or US$ 0.50 per person (more fun and cheaper than the much faster Mass Transit Railway, arguably the best underground railway service on earth), (ii) the century old street cars of Hong Kong Tramways comprising the only all double-decker wooden-sided tram fleet in the world (HKD 2.30 or US$ 0.30 per person) and (iii) the free-to-use but rather trippy, 800-m long and 20 segment Central Mid Levels Escalator; our favourites: the Old Wan Chai neighbourhood and the atmospheric Taoist Man Mo Temple with its resident astrologers, palm readers and geomancers who pay homage to the Taoist gods of literature (Man) and war (Moh).

Catching intriguing glimpses of daily life in Hong Kong with a stroll through time in the island's Western District and discovering a world of wonder where the hustle and bustle of this modern city mingles with the colourful age-old traditions of yesterday, thus (i) seeing traditions of the past that remain vibrant today in the many dried seafood and Chinese herbal medicine shops along Ginseng and Bird’s Nest Street and (ii) browsing the fantastic curio and antiques shops on Hollywood Road aka Antiques Street.

Enjoying a lazy (Advent) Sunday afternoon together with Hong Kong’s truly multicultural community: (i) watching Chinese lion-dance, ceremonial drumming and kung-fu performances at Kowloon Park, (ii) indulging into excellent Indian vegetarian food and (iii) listening to Christmas Carols, sung by domestic workers from the Philippines who had their weekly day off and who partied in Hong Kong’s picture-perfect parks.

Riding the historic Peak Tram +85225220922, a 130-year old funicular railway and arguably the most enduring emblem of Hong Kong’s unique past, up to 396 m above sea level near 552-m high Victoria Peak (c. 15 min, return ticket for senior citizens: HKD 19.- or US$ 2.50 per person) and enjoying spectacular views over Kowloon and Victoria Harbour where the buildings appeared to us as if they were built at a 45-degree angle.

Embarking on a fast ferry (Turbojet +85228593333) between Kowloon’s busy China Pier and Macau’s Outer Harbour (c. 36 nm, 1 hour, HKD 151.- or US$ 19.50 per person) and hopping from Hong Kong, Asia’s world city, to Macau, a once Portuguese-administered backwater-turned-gambling megaresort where eastern and western influences have met: “Bem-vindo a Macau, you Vegas of the East!”

“You can leave Hong Kong, but it will never leave you.” 

Click below for more blog posts about fascinating skylines

Click below for a summary of this year's travels
Recommended books - click below for your Amazon order from Germany:

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08 Dec - 13 Dec 2012 Guangzhou

People’s Republic of China aka Red China
Guangdong Province
Guangzhou City aka Canton
Huanshizhong Road 201
Heng Fu Lai Hotel +862062685988 hengfulai@126.com
Spacious a/c twin room (no. 210) with private bathroom and internet for CNY 140.- or US$ 22.40 per night. English-speaking, professional staff. 40 %  discount for members of the Konni & Matt Travel Blog.
Beer: 600-ml bottles of ice-cold Pearl River Lager Beer (3.4 % alc./vol.) for only CNY 3.50 from any of the small mom-and-pop stores round the corner.

Click below for an interactive satellite view of the Heng Fu Lai Hotel in Guangzhou (Canton), which we would recommend, and for directions:
Note the random 0 - 500 m misalignment between Google's maps and satelltite views of the motherland, courtesy of the paranoid Chinese Communist Party.

Checking out the architectural chronicle of China’s colonisation in the leafy oasis of Shamian Island, which was acquired as a foreign concession after the two Opium Wars, and exploring Beijing Road aka Beijing Lu, a bustling, 500-m long pedestrianized street crammed full of shops big and small selling virtually everything imaginable from clothes and shoes to accessories, general merchandise, jewelry and all kind of street food.

“I could pretend that nothing really meant too much
When I look at my china girl
I stumble into town just like a sacred cow
Visions of swastikas in my head
Plans for everyone
Its in the white of my eyes
My little china girl
You shouldn't mess with me…”

Admiring the curvature of the earth from the 433m-high 108th-floor observation deck (admission: CNY 120.- or US$ 19.- per senior citizen) of Canton Tower, the tallest structure in China and the fourth-tallest freestanding structure in the world, which briefly held the title of tallest tower in the world, replacing the CN Tower, before being surpassed by the Tokyo Skytree in 2011 CE.

Travelling back in time at the somewhat overblown Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King (admission: CNY 15.- or US$ 2.40 per adult) thus (i) gazing in amazement at Zhao Mo’s 2nd century BCE burial suit, made of thousands of tiny jade tiles in order to preserve his royal body, (ii) marvelling at hundreds of outstanding exhibits of 8th century CE Tang Dynasty tri-colour (yellow, green, white) pottery from Luoyang and (iii) feeling drowsy at Mr and Mrs Yeung Wing Tak’s hypnotising collection of 12th century CE ceramic pillows.

Getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city and embarking on a wonderful and relaxing night cruise (2 hours, CNY 58.- or US$ 9.30 per person) on the illuminated Pearl River.

Taking an express bus from Canton’s inter-city bus station to Shenzhen’s busy Lo Wu Bus Terminal (c. 130 km, 2 hours, CNY 68.- or US$ 10.90 per person), reporting the fact to the dismissive Chinese police that Matt’s 6-years old but still perfectly loyal and unboobytrapped Dell laptop computer disappeared mysteriously and without trace from his luggage between Canton and Shenzhen (although in 2011 CE the Chinese regime officially spent more on internal security [US$ 110 billion] than on national defense [US$ 106 billion]), crossing thereafter, fortunately with all our kidneys still inside, the crowded border between Red China and Hong Kong, being issued with a 90-day visit permit for Hong Kong on arrival, free of charge, and, eventually, taking Hong Kong’s efficient Mass Transit Railway (MTR) from the border at Lo Wu straight to Tsim Sha Tsui (for a stiff HKD 38.- or US$ 4.90 per person), located right in the pulsating heart of Kowloon.

Click below for more blog posts about our visits to big celestial cities
13 Dec - 17 Dec 2012 Hong Kong
03 Jul - 31 Jul 2012 Beijing
02 Jun - 01 Jul 2012 Toronto
05 May - 01 Jun 2012 Taipei
10 Apr - 14 Apr 2009 Singapore

Click below for a summary of this year's travels

Visit the Konni & Matt Online Albums and order high-res travel photos

Recommended books - click below for your Amazon order from the United States:
For Amazon schnaeppchens from Germany, please click here 
For Amazon bargains from Canada, please click here 
For Amazon bargains from the United Kingdom, please click here