Georgia is a destination that I extremely wanted to visit.
Before going to Georgia, I read blogs about it everyday, searched for more information whenever I'm free. Let's just say, it's in my head at all time.
I wanted to visit the country that is yet so popular. When I saw the view of this country, I was literally speechless.
I've planed this trip for about 2-3 years.... to wait for friends ready as well as money in my pocket (which probably never be ready.
Well, let's just say whatever a decision is made, we have to make it happen, despite all obstacles like parents complaining. They were asking where is Georgia and I said it's in Asia.
Another obstacle is transportation. This trip, I went to Bangkok by bus because the door of my car could not be opened and it also parked in a way of another car. As it's about time for me to board the bus, the only option left was the old truck. This truck was so cold that normally it can run not over 80 km/hr. But this time, we drove in a speed of 100 km/hr, so we could feel the car was shaking. When the bus running for a while, the tires were leaking so we had to stop to fix it for a while. And thus, I reached Bangkok quite late at night and needed to run so fast in order to exchange money.
Let's firstly get to know more about Georgia.
*** Georgia is the intersection of Asia and Europe. It is the most western of Asia and used to be part of the Soviet Union. The capital is Tbilisi. The north is bordered to Russia, the south is bordering by Armenia and Turkey, and the west is next to Azerbaijan. (There're also Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea, sound familiar? Yes, we used to study it in our middle school.)
Map credit: www.dreamstime.com
*** Georgia is a country where Thai people do not need a visa, just hold a passport and walk nicely, make a spinning turn like a Miss Universe, gently look and smile at the immigration, then we can stay up to 365 days in this country. But my friend just got a new haircut done before traveling. The immigration officer said that the face was not the same as in the passport. Then they asked so many questions that my friend had to show them another passport.)
***Cost of living is similar to Bangkok. We eat full in our every meal.
***It is indeed a boundary between Asia and Europe with such a beautiful architecture.
***It has a history of more than 2,500 years, and is one of the first countries in the world to believe in Orthodox Christian (the first country is Armenia).
***Georgia has her own language.
***If you like cheese like me, you are in the right place, but yeah, we can't eat it too often.
*** Georgia is a country that has cheap alcohol. The wine is in 3 digit Thai Baht. If you love drinking alcohol, you must try. Even though I'm not, but since I'm already here, I also tried.
***Bathroom at the mall or the restaurant is considered clean but out of town, you have to understand about its different condition a bit... quite often, there's something left inside, while some has no door and some has no lock,, I've been through all that.
*** Expenses including room, food, and transportation
We flew with Air Astana, the fare is 20,165 THB. Room, food, and other transportation is 10,240 THB (320 USD) and the travel insurance is 266 THB.
In total, the necessary expenses is 30,ุ671 THB.
*** Together with other miscellaneous souvenirs, I spent less than 35,000 THB. This price comes with worth a million THB view.
*** The exchange rate of 1 GEL (Georgian Lari) is 11.58 THB (for the easy calculation, let's think about it as 12 THB).
***We booked room via booking.com and paid when we stayed.
***For the flight, we checked the price with SkyScanner and directly booked it with the airline official website.
I have to say that this trip is so fun, adventurous, and tough.
Well, let's get it started, shall we?!!!!!!
This trip, I also have 2 senior friends joining. Traveling with friends can help us reduce the cost, like room, food, or transportation. Most importantly, we have someone to talk to and consult with.
Here is our tentative plan and subject to reschedule whenever we feel too tired.
We traveled from 21-29 April and reached Thailand the morning of 30 April.
Day 1 Heading to Tbilisi, sleep at Tbilisi
Day 2 Tbilisi, sleep on train
Day 3 Zugdidi & Mestia, sleep at Mestia
Day 4 Mestia & Ushguli, sleep on train
Day 5 Tbilisi & Kazbegi, sleep at Kazbegi
Day 6 Ananuri & Gudauri, sleep at Tbilisi
Day 7 Mtskheta, Jvari, The Chronicle of Georgia, sleep at Tbilisi (at first, we we planning to visit Armenia but we were too tired, so we adjusted the plan and relaxed a slow life at Tbilisi instead)
Day 8 Tbilisi, sleep at Tbilisi
Day 9 Going back to Thailand
Day 10 Arrive Bangkok
We flew with Air Astana of Kazakhstan and the fare was 20,165 THB. Actually, it could be cheaper than this, perhaps, with different time or longer transit time (if flying with Gulf Air, we will transit in Bahrain, and we also don't need a visa for this country).
At 10.15 am we departed from Suvarnabhumi Airport. The seats were 2-3-2. I have to say this airline had such a great services, with movies, music, and games. They also served drink quite often. There's also a travel kit. The food was quite delicious. Before landing at Kazakhstan, they served drink and hot passion fruit pie again.
Here is the airspace before reaching Almaty, Kazakhstan. With this magnificent view, it made our long flight not boring at all.
The weather was so cold that some small pieces of ice were attached to the plane window.
At 16.25 pm we stopped for the transit at Almalty of Kazakhstan for 3.03 hrs. The airport was quite small with lots of people. This waiting time was so torturing as we couldn't connect to the internet. At the airport, the smell of cigarettes was very pungent. If you want to escape from this small, please go to the second floor where the smell would be lighter.
At 19.30 pm it's time to fly to Georgia. This time was a small aircraft with 2-0-2 seats model but the wings were quite large and flew up quite high. Food and drink were served normally but with no TV screen. Soon, the aircraft was shaking and someone rushed to their seats to quickly fasten the seat belt. At that time, I was so scared and prayed everything I could remember. I was praying to get to travel safely so that I could come back to write review to other people. Was I too exaggerated? Soon, the aircraft was normal and I really wished to arrive Georgia quickly.
Travel kit was available at every seat.
Here came the dinner.
At 21.40 pm, we arrived at Tbilisi, the capital city of Georgia. Once the plane was safely landed, all the passengers clapped their hands. I think this is the similar culture to Russia.
Once we arrived at the airport, we were quickly connected to the internet to inform our family that we were safely landed. Addicted to social life was quite a difficult life. But no one answered anyway as Georgia time is 3 hours behind Thailand time. After getting our luggage, the first thing we did was to exchange money and buy a mobile SIM.
While shopping around, a friendly guy came to recommend that using Magti was better as its from Georgia, Beeline was from Russia. (Magti was indeed fast and good but the internet was used up after 3 days). I bought the SIM card for 32 GEL. In fact, it's cheaper if you buy at at the mall.
After everything was ready, that friendly person invited us to take his taxi.
There are 2 ways to get to the city, either taking bus no. 37 or taxi, which we chose the latter because it was quite late. When we tried to ask for the taxi fee, he said just look at the meter on the taxi. That Benz taxi then drove us to the accommodation, but he then asked for the very high price of 240 GEL, which we only sat for about 20 minutes. While we were arguing for the price, the aunt and grandma, the kind house owner, came out to welcome us at around 11 pm. So then we asked them to talk to the taxi. When they knew the price, they were shocked, judging from her wide eyes open, and tried to help us negotiate the price. Finally, we agreed to pay 80 GEL (which was still considered high as our room was only 90 GEL). Do not trust the taxi. We tried to console each other for 2-3 days that when this fee was divided by three people, each paid only 25 (but still, right?)
Let's say it's safer to take taxi parked in front of the airport like this. Also, please clearly ask for the price and if you don't like it, you can negotiate too.
That night we were quite tired. The room was so nice and clean. It's called Anzori House, the fare was 90 GEL (1,043 THB).
The next morning, we woke up fresh. After showering and dressing, let's take a photo in front of our house.
Oh well... may be it's more than just a photo.
Auntie said she needed to go to work, so only grandma who can't speak English would be home. Auntie said grandma invited us for coffee at home.
Actually, this room price doesn't come with breakfast. But the grandma prepared coffee, apple and peach for us.
Quite a delicate way of making coffee
I am not a coffee lover but the smell of dark coffee was not bitter at all, it's quite delicious actually.
Before leaving for work, the auntie told us that the fare has to be between 10-15 GEL If we were going to the train station by taxi. She's so cute for worrying that we would get cheated.
Today is cold with a drizzle rain to welcome us. Will we see the sun the other day? Let's pray for it.
Cable car crossing over houses
We also booked here for our last day before going back to Thailand. It was so warm staying here, the grandma treated us so well. She also called us to see bedroom in the house.
Once we were full, we were ready to get to know the Tbilisi, capital of Georgia more. Our first destination was trying to buy a sleeper train for tonight to traveling to Mestia.
Before leaving the house, we packed our bag and deposited at the house first.
We stayed on the hill, near to several tourist attractions, so we walked down with the drizzly rain.
Until we reached the Freedom Square.
At the crossing tunnel, the wall was quite artistic.
Seeing a mall, we must also get to know it a bit, right?
Outside, it was still a drizzling rain. Then, we looked for the subway station, the Liberty Square Station, which was located on the left side of the mall.
Then, we bought a subway card for 2 GEL. This card can be used by many people so the ticket staff advised us to buy one card only. We topped up more money into it.
The escalator is very deep, it's so deep that I'm secretly afraid that we could fall.
Inside Liberty Square Station
After that, we headed for Station Square. The metro went really fast. In fact, every vehicle goes really fast here.
Note: Do not walk pass this market because the sellers approach you aggressively. My senior friend almost got insane from it..
Once we reached this station, we asked the police office for the railway station and he pointed to the building on the left.
The ground floor of this mall sells clothes, ticket office is on the second floor, and the third floor is food court.
There's a queuing machine for buying tickets.
Once it's our queue, the staff asked where we wanted to go and asked to see our passport.
We chose to go to Zugdidi at night. The first class was fully booked so we bought a second class train for 23 GEL (276 THB). The first class fare is 24 GE (288 THB).
We also bought a return ticket. At first we wanted to book first class, but each room only has 2 beds. Since we have 3 people, we booked the second class which has 4 beds in each room. The returning ticket is 24 GEL.
Note. In fact, we also can book the ticket online or choose to fly with a (very) small aircraft to Mestia but I'm not that brave. I'm not strong yet ^^ But flying would save so much time as it's only an hour flight.
Once we got the ticket, we felt at ease. The train would leave at 21.45 pm. Now, we have plenty of time so we went to see the platform which we would board tonight. It's just nearby the ticket building.
Then, we ate at the food court on the third floor.
We were so full and it was cheap too.
After that, we took the metro back to Liberty Square Station and simply wander around.
This wooden solider looks so real.
While we were taking photos around the alley wall, there was a man rushing towards us. I was thinking that we were definitely robbed. But when he ran to get close to us.
What he dis was raising his hand to take a selfie with us. We were so stunned. After 3-4 clicks, he again ran away.
Oh my!!! You could have just asked us nicely, I almost had the heart attack... More importantly, the picture he got would be not good as my face would still be in shock..
This corner had a lot of people, it took me a while to get this shot.
Then, we found the Bridge of Peace. We spent quite a quality time at this park.
Crossing the bridge to the other side
Flowers were so beautiful.
I also wanted to be a hipster.
In the evening, we took a cable car up to the Narikala fortress. It was still drizzling and cold.
Each round is 2.5 GEL. We can use the metro card for this too.
It was such a fast driving cable car that got me so thrilled.
Wow, it's such a breathtaking view. With the sun, it'd be much more beautiful. That's alright, let's come back for it another time.
Then, we walked to the statue of Mother of Georgia. On the left, she's holding a glass of wine, meaning if you are a friendly visitor, we are ready to give you wine to drink with friendliness. But if you come like an enemy, the right hand with a sword is also ready to fight back.
We spent quite sometime there to see the view of Tbilisi. The rain was still dazzling and very cold.
This photo was taken by my senior friend. For me, I was too tired and decided to rest below and not climbing up.
After that, we went down to eat. At first, we planned to eat here but there were a lot of people so we walked to the front of the shop.
Then, someone approached and recommended us to eat at another restaurant, I think they probably got some percentage from it too. The restaurant was luxuriously decorated and very quiet. We ordered a chicken kebab, 9 GEL. That we weren't that hungry, one piece already got me full.
Then, we went to the supermarket to buy food for the train ride.
My senior friend got a bit hungry so we stopped at Dunkin donuts which had seats and very cutely decorated, they also served food.
After the food, we looked for the taxi and negotiated the price for 15 GEL to send us back to the house to get our luggage.
Grandma and auntie were so kind, they gave us apples to eat on the train.
Then, we waited to board the train. After a long wait, I got a bit sleepy.
A lot of people were also waiting to travel.
When it's time, we drag our luggage to the train. The staff asked for our passport but they didn't take a look inside.
I wanted to use restroom but it was not open when the train stopped.
The room has pillows and cushion but I didn't use because it looked old and dusty. The blanket was not provided, lucky that my coat was thick enough.
We came prepare with food.
When the train departed, we ate and talked before started to feel sleepy as it was already late night. Therefore, we turned off the light to sleep. I felt that we had slept really long but when looking at the time, it was only midnight. At that time I decided to walk to the bathroom which was next to our room.
When I opened the door, the smell was very strong. I also met with remnants of civilization. I just couldn't do it. Then, I came back to sleep (do not copy me as you could get cystitis).
The time of torture was so long. After falling sleep and waking up, we still yet reached the destination. I only hoped to use the bathroom at the train station as I was hoping that it would be similar to bus station in Thailand.
The train stopped too often. In fact, we were very close to the destination but they stopped to get to the platform on time.
At 6.05 am the train stopped at the platform of the Zugdidi train station.
We three packed and got off from the train.
The building is a small train station. We walked in and there were a lot of dogs coming to welcome us by barking. We were afraid that they would bite. But a kind aunt came to tell us that just walk away (guessing from her body language) and she also tried to chase away the dog for us.
We walked through that and I also looked for restroom. Then we met 2 Asians, one was Thai and the other was from Hong Kong.
We had the same destination at Mestia so we shared taxi together. It was 120 GEL for 5 people so we each paid 24 GEL. After putting luggage on the car, I asked for the restroom immediately.
The restroom was on the right after coming out from the building. I ran with hope....ran and ran....but I was almost fainted when seeing this restroom.
Oh my, it was so unbelievable.
I walked around to think of what to do. I finally decided to use it anyway by turning on a flashlight and looking into every room and chose the room without any poop. I asked my senior friend to look out for me.
This is like a zombie toilet. Soon, my friend yelled out someone was coming. Yeah, my life, with no door.
Next time, I would use a toilet on the train as it at least has a door.
From this incident, I think I must get stronger to accept the restroom condition.
After that, we five headed for Mestia.
Please stay tuned for the Ep.2 Mestia.... with a magnificent view.
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Here are some beautiful videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdGTqJ5IPJc