Diary 2018:

Diary 2019 is available as well. See : 2019

2018 December 8 - December 30

Vacation Thailand: 2018

Six years ago, we booked a vacation to Thailand. But shortly before that vacation, we got other very interesting stuff that kept us busy. We decided to call it off. The Insight Guide was still on our shelf, including some notes from the preparation. Early this year we decided to go for a rerun and booked tickets. We are now 6 years older, and 6 years wiser and 6 years slower....so this is going to be a lot of excitment.

You can continue clicking (left/right key or mouse on right/left side of screen) and at every new day a dia is added to indicated the break.

2018 Dec 08-09

Travel and surviving first day in Bangkok

Today we travelled to Bangkok. We had a good flight but a short night (in the plane). We arrived at 10AM local time and tried to stay awake. After a shower we walked a few 100 meters and came along a first temple: Wat Traimit. Also known for the golden Buddha. We paid a visit and continued walking. It was Sunday and a TukTuk driver indicated there is nothing to do in China Town because of today, so we wanted to bring us to the river. We kindly declined and continued. There was indeed not much to do in China Town. But no problem. We continued and found our first Thai Cuisine Restaurant. A good dinner (a bit early at 4PM) and then we walked back to the hotel. At 7 our lights really went out and we went to bed.

2018 Dec 10 - 10AM: Wat Mahathat

Boat ferry and visit Wat Mahathat

In the morning we travelled by boat from the Ratchawongse Pier to the Tahmaharaj Pier. From there we walked to the Wat Mahathat. We got directly welcomed by a local asking where we came from and where we want to go to. Then he advised to wait till 1:30PM because the temple is closed from 12-1:30. That was odd as no paper guide told us so. We visited Wat Mahathat, which is located at the campus of the Buddhistic University. Still nice. We had a local fruit drink and then continued to the Royal palace.

2018 Dec 10 - 1PM: Wat Phra Kaew and the Royal Palace

Visit Wat Phra Kaew and the Royal Palace

One of the must see things in Bangkok is the Royal Palace, or better the temple belonging to the royal palace: Wat Phra Kaew. We did ask for a privat guide, and we got a good one. We were toured around the complex with many details and names. Among these the explanation why there are different figures acting like guards. More text could be added or not.

2018 Dec 10 - 3PM: Wat Pho

Visit Wat Pho

Wat Pho is known as one of the largest Buddha's with its 46 meters length. This Buddha is also known as the reclining Buddha.

2018 Dec 10 - 5PM: Wat Arum

Visit Wat Arum

Wat Arum is unique in that it is not a temple, but only Stupas. The complex is old, but extended beginning 1900 by the King of Thailand to its current impressive size. Colorfull tiles available from earlier work is been used to decorate it nicely.

2018 Dec 10 - 6PM: Going back

Boat trip back.

Around 6PM we took the boat back to our first starting point. From there we walked through China town, and had dinner.

2018 Dec 11 Shopping

Shopping at MBK center, Siam Center and Siam Paragon

We needed to start booking several things for the next days, so we stayed in the hotel for a few hours. Around 11 we had booked most of it and left to a shopping mall and the "Sealive world" in the basement of the Siam Paragon building. Our first stop was at a Starbucks. Then we went into the mall. Spread over 6 to 8 floors was a lot of stuff. The electronic department was a mini town on its own. We changed a few buildings and started looking for the big aquarium in the Paragon building. We found it but the price was high (that is what we found from the information we got from screens) and decided to go for an early dinner. At a pepper-Thai-place we found the best Thai food so far.

2018 Dec 12 Biking in Bangkok

Biking in Bangkok with ABC

On our wishlist was the biking through Bangkok experience from ABC (Amazing Bangkok Cyclist). We left the hotel at 8.15AM and took the subway to Sirikit and walked 30 minutes through the local suburb. At ABC we were welcomed in Dutch, got some really good coffee and got introduced to our 2 tour guides. Actually 1 is learning and joins us on our trip. First part is through the crowded Bangkok streets. Eddy (that is the guides nick name) does a good job in avoiding busy streets, but every now and then we have no choice. To my surprise he succeeded really well. Soon we are at a local market where everything is sold: fish, meat, vegatables, fruit, and more. We continue and visit Wat Klong Toey Nok which is directly at the Pier Klong Toey. We cross the river in a barge. On the other side is a "semi Island". It is still connected to land, but a canal was dug , which made it in theory an island. The island is special in that it is very low land and is only good for farming (trees: banana, coconut, mango). High buildings are not allowed and the connecting streets are narrow (1 meter wide) and elevated to stay above the water line. This makes it very nice to bike. And we did. We stop for a lunch (Thai food :)) and continue. A second boat trip and then soon we are back at ABC. This was a very nice experience.

2018 Dec 13 Ayutthaya

Visiting Ayutthaya

About 2 hours drive north of Bangkok is Ayutthaya. This is a must see thing, and so we booked a few days ago a private guide including transportation. No regret. Best ever or very close to best ever. History of Thailand and Ayutthaya is old. Ayutthaya was the capital of the Thai people from 1351-1767. Several Kings build the temples and the stupas. A lot of knowledge and of natural resources came from Birma. Birma has/had limestone, which is used with other materials to make cement or stuco. Cement is a combination of lime mixed with molasses (sugar solvent) or animal skin. It is this combination that keeps the cement flexible but sticky. A lot of the pictures show towers and walls with curves or none straight vertical/horizontal lines. Part of that is the cement. The other part is that no foundation was used. That took until the French came. Around 1750 there were many fights between Birma and Ayutthaya (Thailand now). The temples/buildings were destroyed and the once 1.000.000 people big Ayutthaya (bigger than London at that time) was reduced to < 10.000 people. Interestingly detail. Ayutthaya got big because the King concurred neighbour Kingdoms and imported people to Ayutthaya. This made the city big. Having a lot of people was at that time important. The real insteresting part is that also the styles from those people came with them. The temples and stupas found in Ayutthaya are Birmese style. Too bad a lot got lost but meanwhile Unesco made it "world heritage" and started a stabilization/repair program for most of the remains. A lot reminds us of the old Colloseum buildings in Rome.
We had a great day with a lot of history and old buildings with the perfect guide.

A good reference Wikipedia: Ayutthaya Kingdom Pictures are arranged in before visiting Ayutthaya, Ayutthaya, and after visiting Ayutthaya. More fine details on the pictures need some decent study on the exact unpronounceable names.

2018 Dec 14 Muang Boran

Visiting Ancient City

I did visit Muang Boran in 2001 when I was staying the Saterday in Thailand after working 1 week locally. Marjorie now insisted and together we travelled to what is also known as Ancient City. We are again very lucky, as the skytrain just opened 1 week ago an extension with approx 10 stations, bringing us on 1h walking distance from the entrance. We expect a lot of walking today, so we took a taxi and practised our first negotiation skills. The 10 minute drive of 200 Baht was quickly reduced to 100 Baht and soon we started the visit. Muang Boran is founded by a wise man bringing together all ancient history at scale (like Madurodam, but then bigger). Thai history is rich, but recording and taking care of old art did not start until mid 1950-ish. The park is big enough to bike or walk, but with a temparture of 30+ degrees and no clouds, we did both. We had lunch at the floating market, and it felt like we were the only one. Having been at several places (royal palace and Ayutthaya) caused several replicas to be recognized.

2018 Dec 15 Travelling to Khao Yai

Travel day

This morning we checked out from the Bangkok Centre Hotel at 8AM and left by Tuk-Tuk to the main bus station " Mo Chit". We did not book anything, no train nor bus to Pak Chong, thus yesterday evening we concluded we had to go by a minivan or local bus. The express bus did not go, but there was a local one, which stopped at every corner, and also transported 10 boxes with chicken... It took us 5 hours for a 180km drive. From Pak Chong we walked to the train station. No sign of a taxi, so we asked arournd, and the guy pointed to himself. Around 3 we arrived at our destination: "Baan Saranya". Here we have a nice free-standing cottage.

2018 Dec 16 Khao Yai

Day 1 in Khao Yai. Private tour in the jungle

This morning we are picked up at 8AM with an open truck. We have a quick Thai breakfast (rice!) at 7:30AM. Some coffee has to do it for the rest of the day. Bonsai is our tour guide. We have a driver as well. The tour starts by driving to the visitor center and on its way we stop to watch and photograph the Black&White Asean Hornbill. This is a large bird (120cm - 200cm wide depending on the species). We have a short stop at the visitor center and then we start with the hike of about 6km. Initialy a group of 4 tries to hook up with us, but our guide is clear that that is not the plan. We pay and they can only bring distraction and they have no clue we will not come back where we started. The first thing we see is the white hand gibbon. He sits high in the trees and we barely can see him. Luckily Bonsai guides us to the right place and then we can see him more clearly. Soon we continue. Bonsai explains about different plant and lets us smell and sometimes taste. A lot of plants heal/cure illnesses like car sickness, or yellow fever. On our way to the highest waterfall, we spot a wild elephant. We stop and can watch him (it is a male!) eating while slowly continuing on his path. The waterfall is nice. The stairs down are steep, like the 1930 stairs found in a lot of Dutch houses. On the way back we see another elephant. This time much bigger and older. Again male, as the male are on the walk for a female partner. The female alephants are in groups with the younger elephants. We have also a night tour. We don't expect much, as open trucks with big night lamps search the jungle for wild animals. Most impressive was the hurd of female elephants, though it was too dark to clearly see them. Around 8:30PM we were back at the hotel.

2018 Dec 17 Khao Yai

Day 2 in Khao Yai. Private tour in the jungle

The next day we are again picked up at 8AM. This time the driver is the guide and is a she. And she is good. Our first stop is again at the well knwon Black&White Asean Hornbill spot. And we are lucky. Several couples are flying around and eating from the fruits in the high trees. We drove to the visitor center. There we spotted several animals. Actually she spotted them first, and showed us where to find these. A tiny fishing bird (name we forgot), an iguana, a big spider, and some deer. A hiking permit was arranged by our guide and we drove to the start. It took us 1.5 hours to do the first 2km. A lot was explained and many animals were seen. We now saw a white gibbon, but also lots of butterflies (too fast to capture), a turtle, more spiders. Finally we arrived at the waterfall. After a late lunch, we drove to the highest peak and tried to spot more wildlife. And we succeeded. Today no elephants, but lots of other smaller animals. It was another nice day.

2018 Dec 18-19: Travelling to Chiang Mai

Two days travel to Chiang Mai

This is going to be a long day. Or better 2 days. We will travel first back to Bangkok by either train or bus. And then take the night train to Chiang Mai. For the night train we have tickets and we will sleep in the train. For the first part we have to figure it all out. Yesterday evening we decided to leave directly after breakfast and take a blue bus back to Pak Chong. While waiting for the bus, the lady from Baan Saranya came to us and told us that her brother needs to travel to Pak Chong anyhow right now, so we can ride with him. We do and shortly before 9 we are at the train station. As it now appears, we are again very lucky, as there is a train leaving shortly after 10AM, going via a dozen of stops to Bangkok. Ticket costs 36Baht per person and it takes about 4 hours travel. That is just over 1 Euro! That means that train is quicker and cheaper than the bus we took on the way to Pak Chong. Okay. It is 3rd class, no airco, but all windows can go wide open, and local people sell food/drinks in the train. Around 2.30PM we arrive. We decide to drop off our main backpacks at the trainstation and visit Bangkok. Around 7:30PM we are back and wait till we can go on board. Our bed is directly prepared and soon we go to sleep. Later that night other tourists come on board, but they appear to be 1 day too early. Quiet some hazzle and some Germen/Swiss words go back and forth in the group. Next stop they have to leave the train as there is no place for them. Then it became quiet. Around 8AM we are both awake. Our bed is modified into seats and we eat our breakfast we brought with us. We make several more stops and at 12:15 we arrive at Chiang Mai. A 40 minute walk (we need to get some exercise after sitting still soooo long) we arrive downtown at our hotel. We check in, and freshen up. Another stroll through the city and then we head for early food. We found this Vegan place 5 minute walking from the hotel. Excellent food. We directly booked a cooking class for Friday.

2018 Dec 20 Hiking in Doi Suthep

Hiking in Doi Suthup and visiting Wat Doi Suthep

We have a very early breakfast at 6:30AM as we will be picked up at 7. The mini-van is waiting at 6:45, and at 6:50 our guide shows up. We drive to Doi Suthep and the Wat (temple) at that mountain (Doi). Wat Doi Suthep is worth visiting. The 300 steps (stair) can be challenge, but our guide insisted on an elevator ride. We look around, make quite some pictures and then take the stairs down (finally!). From there the mini-van brings us to the nearest Hmong village/tribe. We walk through the village, we buy fresh Mango and baked banana and then start slowly hiking. Our local guide (from the Hmong village) joins us. Having a second guide feels a bit odd, but we have to as we are walking in Hmong area, and it provides income to the Hmong people. Our Hmong guide does not speak English, but when we have detailed questions, he knows the answers. Our own "Green Trails" guide is also very good. He explains a lot on the opium fields and how you can recognize where those fields were. Unfortunately the view is limited as there is fog. We have lunch at the rim (fried rice wrapped in a banana leaf, and soup in a plastic bag). The guides from the villages are swapped. The first Hmong guide goes back to his village, and a new Hmong guide from the village we will be visiting soon takes over. After 9km hiking we arrive at the 2nd Hmong village. Exactly 1 second later the rain starts pooring down. We were so lucky.

2018 Dec 21 Old town & cooking class

Chiang Mai - Old town, Cooking class, Shopping

We booked for this afternoon a cooking class at a Vegan restaurant after eating there. So what do we do for the morning... We visited the old town. I had on the list the Wat Chiang Man. The chedi with Elephants is from the 15th century and unique. We also visited the Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Centre and learned more about Chiang Mai and how it became like it is today. On our way back to the hotel, we left the old city via the 'Tha Phae Gate' where people could sign up for a Marathon or mini-marathon. And so I did. I bought a pair of shorts, and luckily I brought my old running shoes as light weight city shoes. So pretty much ready. In the afternoon we had our cooking class on the 3rd floor of the restaurant. We had preselected 5 dishes and now we are preparing them. We get a lot of details on the vegatables, sauses and spices. I wok the first dishes, and Marjorie the next ones. We learned a lot. Our dishes were: Tom Yum soup, Red curry, Cashew nuts, Chili basil, Pad Thai Noodle. Too much to eat for the 2 of us. Too bad. After having had an early dinner, we walked through the streets and found a nice Thai pair of pants for Marjorie. In the evening we went to the Night Bazaar to complete it with a white shirt. This was quite a relaxed day.

2018 Dec 22 Hiking

Hiking in Cae Son National Park

At 7AM we are picked up and drive almost 2 hours to Mae Kam Pong. A small village that is relative new and a tourist attraction, as from here it is a 10 minute walk to the waterfalls. We will take a 7 hour detour through the jungle and first climb a peak. On our way our guide (Pornchai) explains a lot about plants and lets us taste when possible. A few surprises. We got a snack around 10:30. It was a bamboo stick. By peeling it off, the rice put into it, became accessible. The taste was great. A little bit later our local guide cuts with a big knife a path through the jungle. The bushes are so dense, that our path is blocked. Finally we reach the top and a few big leafs from banana and another plant are collected. A few minutes later a good lunch spot is found and the leafs act as table and seats. The lunch is brought by our local guide and comes from the village. Of course: Rice! After lunch the climbing is pretty much done. We have several nice views (after 600m climbing). Slowly we decline. A last dark part is under the wild banana trees, but then we arrive at the waterfall. Soon we are back in the village and head back to the hotel. In total we hiked 7 hours and 11km. The distance is not a lot. Our route did simply not allow to go any faster.

2018 Dec 23 Mini-Marathon

Running Chiang Mai Mini-Marathon

Two days ago I signed up for the 10km. I was in doubt if I would go for a slow 1/2 marathon or a 10km. When I learned about the startnig time, it was clear. The 10km starts at 4 in the morning. The 1/2 marathon at 2 in the morning. So 10km it is. I did a short 3km 2 days ago to get a bit in shape and get a bit of a feel what is running at this temperature. The reason for the early start is obvious. The coolest temperature is reached early morning around 5AM, shortly before the sun rises. Around 17 deg.C was announced. The actual temperature was 21 deg.C. At 3AM we woke up. I ate a banana and drank some water and then we left for the start line. We just saw the 1/2 marathon women finishing. The atmosphere is excellent. The start was slow and the next 2nd kilometer was fast, slowly I found my pace but around 6km is slowed down further. Clearly I am missing the distance in my legs. A 700m earlier than my GPS watch predicted, the finish arrived. And that put me on a chip time of just under 45 minutes. This was a nice event. After the finish line there was plenty of food and drinks. Well organized. We went back to the hotel. I slept for 45 minutes and then we had breakfast in the hotel. We walked 90 minutes to a Decathlon and buy some new hiking stuff. We took a tuk-tuk back after our first try to walk back (different path, not along the highway) end at a river we can't cross. In the afternoon we relax and had a Thai massage. Around 7:30PM we went to bed.

2018 Dec 24 Hiking Doi Inthanon

Hiking in Doi Inthanon and visiting Wachirathan waterfall

Our 3rd and last hike in Chiang Mai goes to Doi Inthanon. The highest peak is at 2500m. We will not go that high. Around 7AM our guide and our driver pick us up from our hotel. It is a 2 hour drive to the Karen village: Mae Klung Luan. From there a local guide joins us and a 20 minute pick-up truck drive brings us to the start of the trail. We slowly climb and arrive after several hours at Tiger-head-mountain. We have a snack and continue. A short but steep path leads to an even higher place. The view is incredible. From there we follow the rim, slowly going down. Around 12:30 we have lunch in the middle of the jungle. Our guides brought lunch and banana leaves serve as seats/table. After lunch we continue and hear gibbons making noise. From that moment on our local Karen guide is alert. He finds a gibbon high in the trees and starts making some gibbon-like-sounds. We follow the gibbon for a while and it is surprising to see how the Karen guide and the gibbon interact. Another hour decline and we arrive back at the village of our Karen guide. We taste local coffee. Our driver brings us to the nice Wachirathan waterfall. Soon we are on our way back to Chiang Mai. Just after 6PM we are back. This was a great day.

2018 Dec 25 Chiang Mai

Visiting 2 temples in Chiang Mai: Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan and Wat Phra Sing

One highlight of Chiang Mai we still have on our list to visit: It is Wat Phra Sing. On our way to that Wat we stop first Wat Chedi Luang Worawihan. It looks nice so we take some time and buy tickets to visit. The post remembering the erection of the city is located here (in a basement). But also a half restorated Chedi is unique. Not sure if this is the one that stopped restorations because of conflicting data on how it once looked like. Anyhow it was nice walking around and inside the buildings, though 1 building only could be entered by male, (the one with the city remains), related to that bleeding women (period) were bad luck for the city...was once the thought. Time flies, so we had a short lunch stop before we arrived at Wat Phra Sing. Again a very nice Wat. The atmosphere is completely different. There are less people, and it is more quiet and honest.

2018 Dec 26 Travelling

Travelling by express train back to Bangkok

This morning we had another early breakfast (6:30AM) and we checked out at 7:25AM. The train station is a 45 minute walk. Slowly we say goodbye to this city. Half an hour before the train leaves we arrive at the platform. Soon we are on our way. We can enjoy the views from the train while travelling through the country. From jungle to rice plantation to forest back to rice plantation and more. Many stops were made. The train is again an excellent commuting device. Sufficient luggage storage in overhead bins. All chairs are rotated enabling everyone to travel face front and adjustable from study to sleeping position. And there is food/drinks freely distributed like on airplanes. There is airconditioning, and curtains to block out sun when you want. Around 19:30 we expect to arrive. So close to a 11 hour trip.

2018 Dec 27 MBK and ChinaTown

MBK shopping mall and getting dinner in ChinaTown.

This is the only hotel without a breakfast included. As this is the 2nd time in Bangkok we expected to be well known to the area (ChinaTown) and thus know our way around. And that was true. We could have picked a dozen of early morning food places, but selected this one. Rice with a choice of vegetables and meat. We planned to go shopping and walk to the MBK shopping mall. It is the same as we visited a view weeks ago. The walk is about 30-45 minutes and we walk along roads where small businesses are grouped, like car repair or metal shops. Later that day we return to the hotel, and prepare for the evening. We visit Chinatown and specifically the area with all the food places. Advise is to go early to get a good place. And that is true as it was crowded. We also learned that we better don't follow someone dragging us to a place, but follow where the lcoal people have dinner. The food was okay, but we had better in the past weeks.

2018 Dec 28 Museums and dinner cruise

Museum of the Royal Barges, the National Museum and Dinner Cruise at River Phra

Today we actually did 4 things. We walked to the Museum of the Royal Barges, we walked to the National Musuem and we walked to the Dinner cruise pier. The 4th thing was while walking. We walked across a local market with narrow streets and a lot of extremely small businesses. This market is called Sampheng Market. In the morning that was actually easy as it was quiet and not all shops were open, but in the afternoon it was filled with people and also mobile shops were in place, partially blocking almost the walk way. Very nice. The Musuem of the Royal Barges is nice. It is unique for Thai culture. These boats are very flat and not deep in the water (max 1 meter) but can have up to 100 men on board rowing. The boats are all restored or in the process of further restoration. It was nice visiting this musuem. We walked back to the National Museum. The temperature had gone up to above 30 degrees. Most interesting was the first hall with the roots of Thailand. Mainly the older religion and art related to these religions were presented. Also the part on textiles and how to color these was interesting. We had booked an evening dinner cruise and so we headed back in time to our hotel. We freshened up and changed clothes. Our cruise started at 6PM and we got the best spot with great views. The food was diverse and one of the best we had. Very nice. The views in the evening were also very nice. Many historical buidlings are nicely lit.

2018 Dec 29 Floating market

Taling Chan Floating market and rain

We have one must see place we did not visit yet. In the weekends there are floating markets offering local foods. We picked a small one: Taling Chan and used as transportation our legs and the boat. The floating market is a system where food is prepared in small boats and offered to guests sitting at the wooden pier at low tables. We tried to arrange a boat tour along several floating markets but were too late in organizing it. So we probaby have not seen it all, but this was already a unique impression. We walk back the same road. Luckily the sun is less strong as some clouds have slowly appeared. In the 2nd halve of the afternoon we are back at our hotel. Later that evening the rain came down. That was exactly when we arrived at a dinner location. We got the first table inside and can be very happy as 5 minutes later it is raining cats and dogs. To get back to our hotel we wait a bit longer but the rain did not stop. We avoid water pools, go via metro station (underground crossing) and choose the side of the streets with most balconies and arrive relatively dry at our hotel. Time to start packing.

2018 Dec 30 Travel back

Travel back

Alarm is set for 6AM, but we are awake earlier. Soon we have packed everything. We drink a last cup of complementary coffee and head then towards the first floor and check-out. Around 7:45 we leave the hotel and one hour later we are at the airport by using public transportation. (works well!). Our big backpacks are checked in and we stroll along all the duty free shops. Our last Thai money is spent and then we walk to the gate. Wat remains is a 12 hour flight. At 10PM (local time) we are back at home with a lot of good memories.

2018 September 30

Babyshower for Jessica

This American tradition is (in a to Dutch liking adjusted form) being blown over to The Netherlands. So a group of female friends, cousins, aunts and sisters came together to surprise the mother-to-be with snacks, games and presents.

2018 September 08

Camping in Laag Soeren

Last camping weekend of the season Since the forecast is being perfect for camping, we take the opportunity to use the weekend. We found a nice camping in Laag Soeren, not too far a drive for the Friday evening, and set up our tent. On Saturday we hike 20+ kilometers through National Park Veluwezoom, on Sunday we make 15k before we pack up our tent and drive back home.

2018 July 31

Alex, Jessica and Ailyn visiting us

Well, ask Ailyn and she is visiting the pool, not her aunt and uncle. Just a matter of priorities when you are 3 years old!

2018 July 14

Family Day

Trying to pick up un old habit: a family reunion day with chatting, playing and eating.

2018 June 29 - July 13

Vacation North Italie: Val di Rhemes - Again

Last year we also went to Val di Rhemes. We really liked it and came back to do more and other hikes this time.

Highlights: We saw a Bearded Vulture (NL:lammergier), many many Alpine Ibex (NL:Steenbokken), stayed over in Rifugio degli Angeli at 2920m height, saw an Alpinist getting rescued from his death, hiked in one day up to Gran Paradiso and back.
Here a day to day travel/hiking program. The links to the GARMIN tracks are public. In xx hiking days we walked xx, in xx hours and climbed over xxkm.

Date Description Data
June-29 Travel To Italy no recording
June-30 Arrive In Val di Rhemes, easy walk 3km, 125m, 0h54 Garmin Link
July-01 Day hike: Mont Blanc 14km, 1000m, 5h30min Garmin Link
July-02 Day hike: Lac de Chantier 13.3km, 900m , 6h09min Garmin Link
July-03 Short hike: Towards Introd, blocked by trees 6.0km, 110m , 1h44m Garmin Link
July-04 Day hike: Valgrisenche: l'Epee 13.8km, 810m , 5h58m Garmin Link
July-05 Shopping in Aosta, rainy day no recording
July-06 Day hike: Rhemes-Notre-Dam, Marmotte, Le Plan de Feyes, Sort 10.5km, 810m , 4h34m Garmin Link
July-07 Day hike: Valsavarenche: Gran Paradiso 20.1km, 1135m , 7h23m Garmin Link
July-08 Day rest no recording
July-09 Day hike: Valgrisenche Hiking, Stay at Rifugio degli Angeli 6.4km, 1004m , 3h37m Garmin Link
July-10 Day hike: Valgrisenche Hiking, Leave from Rifugio degli Angeli 14.0km, 1240m , 5h53m Garmin Link
July-11 Valgrisenche: Lac du fond, Avise 9.7km, 755m , 4h54m Garmin Link
July-12 Day hike: Valsavarenche: Col Nivolet 17.8km, 594m , 6h57m Garmin Link
July-13 Drive back to Wijchen No recording
--- Total 9 days of hiking 120km, 8270m, 52h

Here a day to day summary of the highlights.

2018 July 01

First Hike to Mont Blanc

Our first hike is one that starts from the campsite. It climbs steadily until we reach a nice view at about 2000m altitude. There are white rocks and that is why this point is also called Mount Blanc. We did this hike last year as well, but now take the short route back to keep our muscles in good shape.

2018 July 02

Day hike to Lac de Changier

An early start to avoid climbing during the hottest time of the day. Soon we arrive at an altitude of 2200m and we have a first long break. I saw already a big bird in the sky, and when we continued, it came in our direction. Luckily it decided to take a different direction at about 6 meters distance. Its face looked like an owl, but with a wingspan of several meters. Later we learned that this bird was a 'lammergier'. We continued our hike and about 1 hour later we spotted up to 15 Alpine Ibex or in Dutch'steenbokken'. That kept us busy taking pictures until we finally went on. Soon we found out that the lake is still frozen and covered by snow. The way back is identical and the views are superb.

2018 July 03

Short hike to Introd

After 2 day hikes, we take a day rest and only go for an easy hike to Introd. Unfortunately the easy path next to the old water canel is blocked by trees from last winter's avalanches. In less then 2 hours we are back at the campsite. We have a drink, take a shower and then I prepare a healthy diner: Eggs, Unions, Patatoes and a lot of garlic.

2018 July 04

Day hike in Valgrisenche to Rifugio de l'Epee

Early morning we leave Val di Rheme and enter the next valley Valgrisenche. We park the car near Bonne and start hiking through the forrest. Our target is Rifugio de l'Epee. Several fallen trees try to block our way, but we manage to climb over these or simply found a bypass. Soon we have a nice view on the big lake in the valley. We continue climbing and the next stage is when we reach the altitude where trees won't grow. The views are great on this hike. Soon we reach the Rifugio. We have a warm soup and continue on our way back via an other route. This route leads us through the shade (forest) back. A small hick-up: We can see the path where we hiked this morning, but the path to get there (last 200 meters) is missing. We take a random route through the fields, and reach the trail. From there the path goes down and we are back at the car. That evening we spoke another couple that did exactly the same trail, and experienced exactly the same issue of a missing path. From the old-white-church there is no path anymore. Their solution was similar. Just go through the meadows until you reach the morning trail.

2018 July 05

Visit Aosta

Today the weather forecast is rain, so we decide to visit Aosta and maybe find something to recharge our cameras and phones. We park our car at the skilift and walk to the old town. The city is nice with a lot of history. We have lunch in the city and finish with Italian Ice. Now I understand why you see everywhere in the Netherlands Ice stores claiming they have Italian Ice. This is the best ever. The rain apparently didn't come and soon we drive back to the campsite. Tomorrow will be a hiking day.

2018 July 06

Le Plan de Feyes

Last year we did this hike also and we really liked it. Soon after the first hour climb, the view gets wide open and nice. Slowly but steadily we climb the mountain and leave the valley behind. One thing that is different is that there are way more flowers. So it was double worth it. We started early (as usual) and by the time the sun started burning, we had already climbed 600m.

2018 July 07

Gran Paradiso

At 6:45 we leave the campsite and drive 35 minutes to Valsavarenche and park the car in Bien. Today we want to hike up to Rifugio Chabod, continue to Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele II and go down to the car. We know this will be a long stretch, so better start early. The path up is well signed (almost a US trail) and after 3 hours we arrive at Rfugio Chabod. We take the time for a coffee/tea. From this hut a lot of alpinist climb the Gran Paradiso. We will not do that, as that is a long trail up to 4200m, with special gear, as you have to go accross snow/ice/glaciers. From the hut we can observe the brave men/women. Soon we continue. We will stay at about 2500m and a trail of several hours leads us to Rifugio Vittorio Emmanuele II. The track is difficult as it is covered with big blocks/stones. So we only make slow progress. Late after lunch (I think around 2) we arrive. This rifugio is crowded. We estimate over 100 people are around. We have some vegetablesoup and tea. Soon we continue on the high way back to the valley. The last part is the least interesting, as the view is quite limited and there are lots of people. We are glad we started going up at the other side. Around 4.30 we are back at the car and look back at a very satisfying day.

2018 July 08

Day rest

Yesterday was a long day with close to 10 hours hiking. Today we take a day off and prepare for tomorrow. The plan is to take my big backpack, fill it, and stay at a hut. We spoke with the campsite manager (Jean-Paul) and he advised Rifugio degli Angeli. A phone call and we have a reservation for tomorrow night. A private room...whatever that means. Now we start packing. Soon we are ready. We have a good evening meal and go to bed early. Tomorrow is a hike to 2920m altitude.

2018 July 09

Hike to Rifugio degli Angeli

We wake up early. A few coffees and a breakfast further, we pack the last things in the car and leave for Valgrisenche. We park the car a few kilometers past Bonne. At 8:45 we leave the car behind and start to climb from 1870m altitude. That means we have to climb just over 1km, which should not be a problem. The new thing is that 2900m is the heighest altitude this vacation. Soon we will experience what that is. After an hour we have left the last trees behind and a valley with many undeep waters appears. It is beautiful. The description warned us to only follow the path on the right, as the others would lead to a rim with an old ruine (visible), but not to the hut. At around 2500m the first snow appears. Soon we are trying to find our way accross the snow. We sometimes miss the track for 10 or 20 meters, but then we find it back. Suprisingly fast we are on the top. After 3 hours and 37 minutes we arrive at Rifugio degli Angeli and get a warm welcome. Outside there is a lot of sun and a lot of wind. After half an hour we go inside to avoid freezing. The hut is managed by 2 volunteer families. Only Italian and a little French with the older kids, and even less English with one adult. Around 4 the alarm goes off. That means. A phone call from another hut that a guest has not arrived, nor is in sight. That guest left this morning this Rifugio. The 2 man pack heavy gears, flash light, food, warm clothes and start running up the mountain to the gletcher. Soon the walkie-talkie sounds that they found the Spanish old guy stuck in the snow trench. Good they came to rescue as this man was already uncooled and not reacting properly. The food is served a little later and the Spanish guy joins as well. Later we found he put his clothes to dry in our room, and he took Marjorie her dirty shirt and started wearing it. Clearly he lost his mind. As he got his own room as well and must have gotten lost. There was some laughter after all the confusion was gone, and soon we said goodnight and went to bed.

2018 July 10

Hike down from Rifugio degli Angeli

After a good night sleep and a good breakfast (even for Marjorie!) we pack and depart. Our way back is a different one. A relative flat but long track. We have to cross a lot of snow, and it takes us 3 hours to decline below 2400 meters. Several times we lost the trail and had to look around for hints where the track is. Our maps helped us a lot. Crossing the snow was interesting as well. Sometimes we avoided it, as we heart water streaming under the snow layer. It took us a lot of energy. On our way down we were lucky to see a "sneeuwhoen" or Rock ptarmigan in English. and young Alpine Ibex or in Dutch "steenbokken". Finally after 3 hours the first people came accross our path up. From that point the path became much easier and we made it back at the car. This decline was way more exhaustive then the way up yesterday. But we are happy we stayed over and experienced this.

2018 July 11

Hike Lac du Fond in Valgrisenche

Yesterday evening we learn that the "Spanish rescued man" took some more clothes. These were found hanging close to the stove in the eating room. Some guests will come down and bring it. We decide to go back to Valgrisenche and hike to Lac de fond. It is supposed to be an easy hike, with great views. Unfortunately the path leads us accross steep hillslopes and Marjorie does not like that. After several hours we arrive at Lac du Fond. We stay there for an hour and decide to slowly walk back. From the Lac you can see nicely another part of the glacier. The way down is rather easy, but don't be afraid of heights. Soon we are back at the car. We drive to Bonne where we will wait for the other guest to bring the clothes. Around 5 the guest arrives and we have our clothes back. We drive back to Val di Rhemes.

2018 July 12

Hike Col Nivolet

Today is our last hiking day. We have many hikes left, but decide not to go for a challange and a late return like last year (7PM at car!). We settled for Col Nivolet. It was in 2007 the first hike of a 7 days hiking tour (see: http://knussel.net/2007/GranParadiso/GranParadiso.html). I did not remember a lot, except that it was easy and not the most exceptional days of that week. As usual we left early. So early that we found cows and sheeps on our road. Later that day, when we returned from the top, both herds reached the top as well. This hike starts going up steep, but after a few hours reaches an alpine meadow. This meadow is completely different then all other hikes we have done. We have to cross a lot of undeep waters. At the end of the meadow is a short climb and then we arrive at Col Nivolet. There are 2 huts. The one I stayed in 11 years ago (Rifugio Citta di Chivasso) is the higher one. We stopped at the first hut. After some drinks and food we return. We noticed 2 bicyclist taking the same path. First we help out with the cows. There is a tiny group of 6 young cows (puberty) that don't want to listen and each time go back. The well trained dogs bring the escaped cows back each time. It takes a long time to make a few meters progress on this wide meadow. Plenty of room to escape. And water is undeep enough to cross. We continue on the way down, and there we meet 1 of the 2 guys with a bike. This one has loaded his bike, and that is very difficult on these steep paths. Marjorie and I help him to decent the last 500 meters. He is very happy. We make a picture and then we return to the car. Another good deed done.

2018 July 13

Driving back to The Netherlands

We left early this morning....that was the intention. But the campsite owners insisted on drinking a cup of coffee with us. We said goodbye and thanked for their hospitality. Around 9 we finally left. Soon we were in Aosta and there we caught up with a bicyclist. We stopped the car and waived. He did to. 'Picolo Mondo' was what he said. Communication yestereday was very limited. But it was clear he wanted to drink a coffee with us as a thank you for yesterday. And there was this bar 10 meters away. We drank an Espresso, said again goodbye and finally were on our way home.

2018 June 4

Alex and Henk in Utrecht

On several ocassions Alex has worked in Utrecht for several weeks. Recently we learned that he and his colleagues are having a project at 50 meters distance to where I work. Just under the traintracks is the Smakkelenburg where Qorvo is located on the 3rd and 5th floor. Monday morning I first went swimming in Den Hommel and already noticed a familiar car. On the way back to work, I saw Alex life, and thus I parked my bike and came back to greet in person and take the opportunity of a picture.

2018 June 3

Buddha arrives

Ever since Marjorie visited the Buddist Monestry in Taiwan, we have been looking around for a nice statue. Recently we came accross this one. It is a warm welcome to everyone.

2018 May 20

Spring arrived and our garden is doing well

Here a collection of how our garding looks like in the spring. If you look carefully you can see some renovations still ongoing. But the colors are overwhelming and mask it a lot. This year is the first year the 'Wisteria' is blossoming. Also the 'vingerhoedskruid' is nicely grouped and showing off. We 'welgelia' was heavly reduced last year but does not show any harm. The 'rodondenderon'is a nice color pallet. The tour starts from the house, left, to the bamboo house, with the new peek through to the right, backing of a bit to the terras, and going into the right side, finally peeking back one more time.

2018 April 29

Alex's birthday and another surprise...

We packed up our tent and before driving back to Wijchen stopped at Alex & Jessica. Another nice surprise was awaiting there. Jessica is pregnant again and Ailyn is spreading the message.

2018 April 27-29

Camping in Wannerperveen and 30 years together

We replaced the extreem big tent by a much more compact version last year (end of season). We tried it out in this three day weekend (Kingsday) to figure out what is too much, what is missing and what needs to be adopted. We had both sunshine and rain and it was cold at night. The tent is perfect as it is small enough to warm up when we both are sleeping at night. Getting out in the morning was the proof as it was much colder outside. Our sleepingbags are warm enough. Overall a perfect tent and a perfect try out. As it was Kingsday we decided to visit Meppel and go to the fireworks show. Our relation started 30 years -3 days ago with fireworks in Meppel. So this is a nice revisit. We had a good spot and enjoyed it a lot.

2018 April 21

Garden Party Groningen, Marriage of Jeroen and Desiree

Last year I learned that Desiree & Jeroen were getting married today. It was a surprise wedding. Marjorie and I decided to take the train to Groningen to use the time effectively in reading and preparing our next vacation. We left early Wijchen (9AM) and arrived in Groningen around lunch time. Groningen has a very nice train station building. We walked 20 minutes to the gardens and arrived pretty much as the first guests. The weather was great. One of the first summer days this year. It took some time till the key guests arrived. I remember my older sister still missing for a long time. But she came. And then there was the official proposal by Jeroen. Desiree said yes. Unfortunately time was running late, so we had to catch the train back. We arrived back home just after 9.

2018 April 15


Another update around the house. We had different forms/shapes/colors for keeping plants. Some of them did not survive the winter. Others from plastic lost their flexibility (too much sun) and started breaking. We invested in fiber clay planters and started filling these in the spring. Here the result.

2018 April

Ben & Truus

The past weeks we have a regular visitor in our garden. Recently we found out that it is a couple. We named them Ben & Truus. Ben and Truus are mostly seen early morning or in the evening. Lately we also see them bathing in the sun, side by side, in our garden. Both rabbits feel at home and save, and Ben might lay down for a nap. We looked if they will eat the unusual bunny-food that the 'non-wild' rabbits get, and yet they do.

2018 March 18

Utrecht running with colleagues

We have a many sporty colleagues and our Zele office organized to run together (Utrecht and Zele) the Utrecht running event. There is a 5km, a 10km, a 21km and a 42km distance. All distances are run, although most of us do either a 10km or a 21km. I ran the 1/2 marathon. Qorvo provided us with T-shirts and a tent close to the start/finish. The last one was good, as the temperature felt like -5degC. Here an impression of that day. And a link to the 1/2 marathon track: Link to my Garmin-track

2018 March 10

Last year we decided we wanted to replace the front door. A couple of reasons made us decide. First the door was bad insulation. In summer the hall is really hot where in winter it is almost freezing with sometimes ice on the inside of the door. It appeared that the white panel is a simple single layer either plastic or metal with a plastic layer. Anyhow. A second reason is that the door opens to the wrong side. It blocks guests from entering the hall. We want the door swinging to the other side. It took 9 months to get the door delivered and installed. First the summer break came, and then it turned out a new frame profile would be introduced blocking new orders. So we are the first one with this new profile and it is the next step in insulation. On Saturday the frame was installed. And we are happy we got it finally. First impression is a good one.

2018 March 03

Ice skating

The last days of February and first days of March, it has been freezing a lot. That means that the lake in front of our house is frozen. Luckily I am in time back from the snowboard break to enjoy the ice. Marjorie and I skate on both Saturday (crowded) and Sunday morning before the ice started melting. Clearly we are not the only one enjoying the ice.

2018 Februari 23- March 2


Last year was a great success. Just to 4 adults. Now the kids want to come as well. So we split up. Marjan and I drive on Friday to Annessey, continue on Saturday to Val Claret (Tignes / Val d'Isere) and pick up the key early Saterday. Cor, Robert, Bas and Danielle drive on Saturday and can expect a warmed apartment with a meal waiting. Snow conditions are excellent and although temperatures go down to -27degC at the top, we can enjoy the bright sun a lot, and have great skiing days. Below a couple of snapshots taken, to get an impression. General impression; Tignes is a quiet area with very long and wide slopes. The map will give the wrong impression on the distance. From one side to the other is 50km skiing/snowboarding. Lifts are hardly crowded, we only experienced this in Tignes 2100 (where we stay) when several lifts are out of service due to snowfall, things can be crowded. Marjan did prepare very well and packed all the food. Robert took care of the cooking. Big thanks to both. What was left was being a nice guest, and helping with cleaning, breakfast, coffee. On Thursday new snow was predicted, and there came new snow. At that morning we stayed home, which must have been anticipated, as at that morning a heating pipe started leaking in the bedroom. Without us being around, we would have had serious trouble in the afternoon. The floor started flooding, and we were in time getting our stuff away. Later that Thursday the pipes were replaced and everything returned to normal. That afternoon the sky cleared up, and Bas, Danielle and I went to the snowpark with snowboard and skies. Friday more snow was predicted, and Cor, Bas, Danielle and I left that morning. Marjan and Robert stayed, and confirmed it kept on snowing. The ride back was long, because of all the snow and cars getting into accidents. Around midnight we arrived in Wijchen. I look back on a nice snowboard break!

2018 Februari 10-18

San Francisco / San Jose

Together with a colleague we visit the ISSCC (international solid state circuit conference) in San Francisco. An early flight on Saturday morning allows us to adjust to the California time scheme. Saturday just around noon, we arrive and public transportation brings us to downtown. We have a littlebit odd lunch/diner in Chinatown but we do well. Apparently the Chinese new year is coming soon as the streets are decorated. It turns out to be the end of this week. The weather is excellent on Sunday and I ran 24k from Chinatown to the port of entry along the bay, including PIER39 and Atticpark to the GoldenGate bridge. On the bridge I decided to return as the same distance needs to be covered to get back to the hotel. As lunch I aim for a good piece of cheesecake at Starbucks, but it turns out it is not on their menu anymore. Too bad. After 24k, some refill of carbohydrates is urgently needed. In the afternoon I follow a tutorial and in the evening my colleague and I have diner at a Japanees restaurant: Sushi! The conference is always great to attend. I met a very old colleague (Peter) and he joins us later for diner. After the conference I travel to the airport and pick up a rental car, and drive to Sunnyvale. Thursday and Friday I visit our office in San Jose. (no pictures) Friday evening I visit an old colleague, how is retired almost for 10 years. Khoi and Tingh do celebrate the 'moon calander' and as their children will come on Saturday, my visit on Friday evening is perfect planned. We share old stories, a laugh and good food. At 9.30 I got tired and plan to go back to the hotel, but first awaits me a surprise. My rental car is towed away. Several hours (4) later I have it back at the cost of 421$. This did not happen to me in the 4 years we lived in the bay area, and now within 2 days the car is towed. Okay, My old colleague did help to get the car towed. I advised me were to park. I learned I should not listen to old retired colleagues, and use my own judgement instead. All in all it was a good ending. Next morning I did not go running in Alum rock park, but stopped shortly at our old house, visited Jamba Juice for lunch, the old Philips site and Fry's electronics. The flight back to Amsterdam was good and Marjorie and I met at the airport.

2018 January 30


An evening walking around the Wijchensmeer. Days are getting longer and tonight we are very lucky. A nice sunset is presented.

Diary 2017 can be visited as well: 2017