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geschrieben von Katharina (8. September 2009)
Kategorie: ... von Katharina, in English
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it is already one week that we are home from our one year-trip, but I still owe you the last 2 month in southamerica. here they are:
after we arrived in antofagasta and figuered out that there was no possibility to get the camera fixed, we immediately took the next bus to santiago. Another 1500km or 18 hours one way. But we were lucky because Bernhard again offered us a place to stay and we had some really nice days with him. We even went to skiresort close to santiago to make a walk, a snowballfight and some angels in the snow. Well, we had a long weekend because Monday was a holiday so finally Johannes was able to get his camera fixed at one store in Chile and when it was done we again had 1500km and 18 hours to calama. There we have rented a car for some days to discover the area flexibel. In the following days we went to see the termas puritama where we again had some nice hours in the warm water and salar de tara one of the deserts of the atacama with some stone erosions made by the wind.
here in san pedro, 2400m above sealevel the days are warm when the sun is shining but during the night it cools down to minus 6 degrees. Of course without heating so Johannes and I zipped our sleeping bags together to have it warmer. Much better :-)
while in san pedro we booked our tour to bolivias famous salar de uyuni and because we would stay over 4000m we needed some more warm clothes. We started our 4 day tour with 2 french girls and 2 british guys and our driver josé from bolivia. We have been a very nice group and got along very good.
We headed with the bus to the chilean/bolivian boarder where the tour with a 4wd jeep started. The first day we saw a lot of different lagoons (laguna blanca, laguna verde, laguna colorada) with a lot of flamingos. Then we could admire an area with a lot of geysiers, but I have to admit that I liked the geysiers close to san pedro de atacama better.
Our overnightstay was a house at 4300m high with 2 bedrooms - each for 6 people with beds made of concrete and a thin matrace on top of it. We got our dinner and afterwards when there was no more heating material left we all decided to go to bed. I was wearing all my clothes, even my hat and my gloves within my sleepingbag. It was so f&%#ing freezing and less oxygen that I could hear my heart beat when I was lying down. I had a hard time sleeping and was awake often that night and glad when it became morning and the next day started. Our guide told us that we had minus 36 degrees that night. We still do not know if we should believe this but it definitely had less than minus 20 whats still verrrrry cold.. Of course again without heating - I mentioned that? Right?
Well after breakfast we started our second day where we saw some stoneformations like the stonetree also called “arbol de piedra”, some more lagunas and took pictures of the one active vulcano in that area. This night we slept only at 3800m and it was already much warmer than the night before. We had to get up early to see the sunrise and the moonset from the “isla incahuasi”. This island has over 3000 giant cactus on it and is in the middle of the salt flats of uyuni. Unbelievable amazing to see the white of the salt everywhere, definitely one of the highlights in Southamerica. Then we made a lot of pictures playing with the perspective and the endless white of the saltflat. We visited a salt hotel and saw how salt is produced in Bolivia before we had lunch at Josés family in Uyuni, where the tour ended.
We organized a bus back to Chile for the same night because there is nothing to do and to see in Uyuni.
Well we went to the Internet to meet an austrian couple by accident and the world is so small - they were friends with Johannes sister and they knew that we were travelling around the world and even have been on our homepage bevore! :-) With them we spent a really nice evening and decided to meet up again some days later in Peru.
So off we went and arrived 18 hours later in Iquique. These busrides were one of the most exhausting during this whole trip. In Iquique we had 3 days just to relax and enjoy. On the third day we rented a car and went to see the “giant of atacama desert”, with more than 90m the biggest portrait of a human body that exists. Afterwards we visited the former Nitratemine of Humberstone that became a ghosttown since its closing.

Then we had to say good bye to Chile and after a day of travelling we arrived in Peru, Arequipa where we met Andreas and Agnes again. With them we travelled for the next week before they had to go home. In Arequipa we saw the monastery Santa Catalina, the cathedral and the inka museum where you can find Juanita a body of a girl which was sacrificed for the gods. The 2days Colca tour into the deepest canyon of the world was fun. We saw all the vulcanos and a lot of lamas, alpacas and vicunas on the way, we again passed 4900m and after a walk in the afternoon we went to the termas in the evening. The second day we woke up early and drove to the “cruz del condor” where we saw the condors fly. Amazing and Johannes took over 200 pictures. Then on the way back we visited 2 villages, ate fruits of cactus and drank cactusfruitjuice.
Coming back from our tour we left Arequipa for Nasca where they flew over the Lines while I was waiting in the sun at the pool. Afterwards another bus and we arrived in Ica - from where we took a taxi to Huacachina - it is a Laguna surrounded by sanddunes. There we chilled and sandboarded before we left for Lima and stopped again on the way. Close to Pisco we made a boattrip to the islas Ballestas where we could see a lot of birds, seals and some pinguins. On this trip we met a nice couple from Canada and Jordan revealed that he has a grandmother who immigrated from Austria, (exactly from Seitenstetten - the village where Johannes is from) to Canada. The world again is so small.

In Lima we had to say good bye to Agnes and Andreas and said welcome to Julia and Peter our friends from Vienna and the reason why we traveled so weird through Southamerica. In Lima we walked around downtown and the district Miraflores, ate a lot of good food and had a good time beeing with together.
Our next stop on the way to Cusco was Nasca again, where we had to stay 3 days before we got tickets for a bus to Cusco. We had fun, discovered Nascas nightlife, played cards and saw two nasca signs up close from an outlook and the cementary of the inka.
We knew we would have to drive through the andes for around 14 hours, but we did not know that there was snow to expect, trucks on the street not able to move on and so the journey grew to 22 hours. But we made it - alive.

Cusco is a beautiful city with a beautiful center and cathedral, little streets, shops and goood restaurant and here again, we met Jordan and Adele our canadians. From there and with them we planned our trip to Machu Piccu. We started with 30km on the bikes on the first day, 18km by foot on the second and 10km by foot on the third day again before we came to Aqua Calientes. I was exhausted and so Johannes and I decided to take the bus the next day up to Machu Piccu while the others where walking and we met them for the guided tour at Machu Piccu. They also got tickets for Wayna Piccu from where you have a nice view of the whole scene. The rest of the day we had for ourselfs and enjoyed the time to discover this wonderful place. That evening we had a nice dinner before we went to bed very tired.
On the next day we went back to cusco by train and had to say good bye to Adele and Jordan. We had so much fun. BEMBOOS!!! We also left but to Puno where we made a two day tour to the islands Amantani and Taquile on lake Titicaca where we stayed overnight with a local family. The lake is huge and sometimes you even think it is the ocean. It has a very dark blue colour and on it you still have people who live at the floating islands. After these two days Peter and Julia left for Arequipa and we headed to La Paz.
Great that you guys came to see us.

La Paz is an interesting city even though it has not that much sightseeing potential but its position makes it uniqe. It was exhausting between 3100 and 4100m to walk along the steep streets but I liked the people, the markets and the colours there. We stayed for three days and also found the best and fastest way to Rio de Janeiro.
So we took the bus on saturday late afternoon and arrived in Sanata Cruz next day at 10:00 in the morning.(18 hours) We did not sleep well because we were driving through the mountains again. We started with cold weather around 4000m and arrived at 415m with warm and humid weather.
In Santa Cruz we had to wait until the ticket office started to sell the train tickets and when they finally opened they told us “sold out”. There is only one chance for us if someone would not show up or if tickets at an agency were not sold. We had to wait - so thats what we did. Suddenly the station policeman came and asked if we wanted to leave today with the train and that he maybe has “a friend” who has tickets left for a little extra money. After talking to Johannes we offered him 20 Bolivianos (4 USD) first, he smiled, then we said “per ticket”, he said he has to reconfirm, so we waited again. In the end he wanted 30 Bolivianos per ticket but we said no, so he took 40 Bolivianos altogether extra and we had to wait 2 more hours until we could finally hold the tickets in our hands. We entered the airconditioned train and fell asleep very quickly.
Monday morning (13 hours later) we arrived in Puerto Suarez took a taxi to the bolivian boarder, checked out and took another taxi to the busstation in Corumba where we checked into Brasil and bought our bustickets to Rio. We left at 11:30 and arrived the following afternoon in Rio, after another 30 hours. So it took us 3 days and 3 nights to get from La Paz to Rio.

After 1 night in a real bed again we took another bus but this time for only 3 hours to the beach in Buzios where we spent the next 8 days. The bad thing was we did not have good weather so we slept, read, played games and spent time in the internet and lots of time in our “holiday prison”, as we called our hostel room these days.
Buzios is a nice little village with restaurants, shops and some nice beaches. The perfect spot when the wheather is nice. On the last day we were happy to leave to Rio and moved into a little appartment which we rented for our final 4 days. We also did some sightseeing including the famous sugar loaf, the christ statue, the urban forrest and the district of Santa Teresa.
Our 2 very last days we spent on the beach, one at Ipanema and one at Copacabana until our final flights left torwards home.

Thank you all for travelling with us …

geschrieben von Katharina (23. August 2009)
Kategorie: ... von Katharina, in English
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After a long flight from Auckland we arrived in Santiago de Chile with Ursula and Klaus. Bernhard (Johannes’ brother) picked us up at the airport. He has a very nice appartment close to Santiagos city center and there he gave us a home to stay. Right at the first night we had an awesome BBQ on his terrace and a lot of beer and wine. While Ursula and Klaus went to see Santiago, Johannes and I used the time to chill, watch some movies and write some emails because we already knew the city from our earlier SA-trip.

After these lazy days we took a plane to easter island, originally called “Rapa Nui”, located about 3700 KMs west of Chiles mainland in the middle of the pacific ocean.
Teresa, the lady of our hostal picked us up and welcomed us with some flowers around our necks.
Our hostal was beautiful and had a nice garden with a lots of different flowers, fruits and animals. The room was big and we’ve got a very good breakfast every morning.
As we had 5 full days on this Island we used the 1st to walk through Hanga Roa, the main village to get some info about the island and to check out what and how to do. In the afternoon we started with a taxi up to the crater of the vulcano “rano kau” which is a national park today. Here we walked around, admired the beautiful landscape and visited the old ceremonial village “orongo”. After walking back down to Hanga Roa we enjoyed the beautiful sunset at “ahu tahai”, where we also took our first pictures of some “Moais”, the mystic stone figures this island is famous for.
After a good dinner we decided to book a tour with Patrizio (the hostel-owners brother in law) for the following day, it was a little more expensive but a very private tour.
The exploration started at a place called “ahu vinapu” - two altars built with such a perfection, that there must be some connection to the inkas in peru. And that ist also one of many theories that exist. You can find a lot of Moais all around the island, lying around and all in different stades of destruction and eroded by wind and rain.
A theory says that during a conflict on the island everyone stopped working and left everything behind at the same moment and thats what it definitely looks like.
“Ahu Akahanga” was another place we visited, with a destroyed altar and some moais.
“Rano Raraku”, was the stonequarry where all the Moais from the whole island where made, actually the 2nd of 3 not active vulcanos. They carved all these monolithic sculptures out of grey vulcanic stone in one piece and their hats where made of a different, red stone, made at another place. One single moai weighs up to or even more than 80 tons and there are many theories how people where able to move them around the island - but still only theories.
Close to Rano Raraku there is “Ahu Tongariki” an altar where a japanese crane-company restored and replaced 15 moais next to each other on their original spot. Very fascinating to see and imagine how the whole island must or could have looked like some centuries ago.
The so called navel of the world - a stone with magnetic features was the next and last sight of the day because we had a flat tire and a flat sparetire. But Patrizio found some friends who took us all home.
It was a great day and he told us a lot about the history and life of Rapa Nui. Next morning we rented a quad to discover the island by ourselves - a lot of fun with Johannes as my personal and very ambitioned driver. At the end of another fantastic day where we saw more of the island, it started to rain and we were soaking wet when we arrived at our hostel in Hanga Roa.
On Sunday we got up early to go to church, it was something special because the service was held in Rapa Nui, the original langage with a lot of traditional songs. It was a great experience - the whole visit.

Back in Santiago, we kept our promise to go to southern Chile to visit Andreas and Karina and their newborn son Andreas jun. in Gorbea (we met them last Oktober in Nepal at the beginning of our trip), but first we had to say good bye to Ursula and Klaus who left us and continued their trip to Quito/Equador after travelling almost 1,5 months (on/off) together.

In Gorbea we spent a very comfortable time with our frieds and also Bernhard had time for the weekend to join us. We went for walks together, they showed us their home and their workplaces, we had very interesting conversations and of course good food and chilean wine. Thanks for your friendship and hospitality. These days did not feel like backpacking!

Neither did our lazy time in Santiago with Bernhard, staying with him meant having a home far far away from home.
But these days were counted and we had to leave Chile torwards Argentina. On our last evening in Santiago we were invited for dinner to our friends Cathy and Sergio, a chilean couple we met 3 years ago on our first trip to Chile. They prepared a wonderful dinner and it was nice to meet them again. Thanks a lot for this special evening.

For the following 4 day long weekend Bernhard took us to Mendoza. It started with a boring traffic jam at the argentinian boarder, but later we had a lot of fun, listening to cologne karneval- and austrian folkmusic, drinking some beer and making friends with the people in the cars around us. After about 7 hours of waiting some people became very unpatient and started some kind of a concert with their horns that we conducted, standing on Bernhards pick-up truck.
When we finally made it to Mendoza we found a hostel, went to eat and then to bed very quickly. The whole time in Mendoza was only a little sightseeing and lot of partying. One day we made a tour to the wineregion including a visit of two wineries and a little family business where they make licores, chocolate and much more.
After this exhausting weekend we had to say good bye to Bernhard and took a bus to San Luis our next station in Argentina. After arriving we checked in at the (probably only one) hostel of the city with it’s only one doubleroom that had the charme of a prison cell with bunkbed. The small town itself was discovered quite quick and so we made a day-tour to the national park “sierras de las quijadas” close to San Luis. Argentinian seem not to learn english so we had to deal with a spanish speaking guide the whole day in the national park, that reminded me a ittle of the australian outback.
In the evening in our hostal we met Tracey (OZ) and Chris (UK) a very nice, funny and interesting couple that we made new friends with. After spending nearly 2 days in San Luis together we decided to meet again in Buenos Aires later this week. In the meanwhile Johannes and I went to see Cordoba, where we kind of had to go because austrian football history was written there 31 years ago (Aut03 : Ger02 at WC 1978). The city itself did not impress me much, it has a lot of universities but despite that nothing special.
Well, we took the bus out of the city to 1st, visit the “Che Guevara museum” in the village Alta Garcia and 2nd, to see the football stadion and of course to make some pictures of this austrian sacred lawn !!! ;-)
Our next stop was Rosario and because of our plans with Tracey and Chris we only had one night there. Compared to Cordoba I really liked Rosario with its colonial houses and the beautiful old stock exchange building “Bolsa de Comercio de Rosario” which we were also able visit from the inside.

Then we left for Buenos Aires (B.A.), the federal capital of Argentina, where we met Tracey and Chris again and spent another 4 days together including drinking, dancing, looking for a Tangoshow, going to the sunday market and a football match (famous La Boca vs. San Martin) together. Thanks guys - we had so much fun.
After they left us, we had 2 more days to discover B.A. before we took the ferryboat for 3 hours to Uruguay’s capital Montevideo. Uruguay was not on our tavellist when we started, but we got it recommend a couple of times and so we went. I liked Montevideo, escpecially because we stayed in a newly opened hostal of 3 really nice young people. We also made a citytour to see the main sights. I really liked the bears on the plaza indepencia, a expedition of about 140 bears, each designed by a different artist, representing his own country.

Then we left for Colonia del Sacramento, a small city 3,5 hours west of Montevideo. With it’s little streets, cute buildings, the lighthouse, everything directly at Rio de la Plata’s huge mouth to the atlantic ocean, it could have been somewhere in Italy or Portugal, especially the city center. According to the fancy restaurants and shops, there must be a lot of rich argentinian tourists during the summer months. Our plan to go further north fit perfectly with the new idea to stay a little bit longer in Uruguay and so we took another bus, another 8 hours to Salto, in the middle of Uruguays thermal region where we spent 1,5 days in 11 different pools with different temperatures but all abover 35degC.
It was a public spa and really a lot better and cleaner then we expected. The sun was shining the whole time and after this bath we were really clean again :-)
Time has come to leave Uruguay torwards Argentina again and with a one-day-stop in Posadaswe went to Puerto Igazu.
When we arrived it was pouring but rain stoppet the following day and so we started to discover the famous igazu falls. It was still cloudy but we made it to the biggest fall - so called devils throat - first. Impressive, breath taking, no fitting words that could describe the scenery. The unbelievable amount of water, the spray when you come closer and the power you can feel when it falls towards the ground. We spent at least an hour right there, made pictures and tried to soak in the atmospehre you can only feel when you are there and so close.
After that we had to visit the brasilian side of the falls as well and as lucky as we were, we had great sunshine. The brasilian side is not as impressive because you do not come as close, but it is also very beautiful and you get a much better overview of the whole scenery with its 280 different sized falls in total and a lot of them accompanied with rainbows through the sun that shines into the spray of the waterfalls.
The 3rd day of our stay we spent at the falls on the argentinian side again and made a lot of pictures with sunshine this time and discovered some more views and falls. Definitive one of my personal highlights on this trip.
But our time was up and so we left for Salta. Another two long and boring overnight buses with one “overday-stop” in Corrientes to see somthing during de day und use the nights for driving. So we save on time and on nights in hostels.

Our last stop in Argentina was Salta, where we rented a car for 2 days. The first day we have been 5 people, a german, a swiss, an american and us and we drove along the tracks of the “tren de las nubes” to San Antonio de los Cobres. I really liked the landscape - dry, red an lots of cactus. It reminded me a little of the comic “Lucky Luke”. The highest point was 4100 and the village itself is at 3800, thats when your heart begins to beat quicker when you walk and breathing becomes harder.
On our second day we went to cafayate. Again a beautiful way through a canyon with interesting rockformations. Cafayate is a nice little village where we rested a bit before we had to drive back.
On our last evening in Salta, the hostal organised an asado (=BBQ) where we had a lot of very good food and 3 young guys who played some gaucho music until everyone danced.
Too bad we had to catch our bus to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile the next day. Again our way lead us through the beautiful altiplano landscape between 3500 und 4000m above sealevel. And on this busride Johannes discovered that his slr-camera had a major technical problem that has to be fixed. So we stayed on the bus and went on to antofagsta (another 4 hours) and hoped, that we would find someone there who is able to help us with this problem.
But thats another story …

geschrieben von Katharina (3. Juli 2009)
Kategorie: ... von Katharina, in English
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I am sorry that it took so long to finish my Newzealand report, but here it is and I hope you enjoy reading it.

We arrived late in Christchurch, but still we had Ursula and Klaus, our friends from Vienna, picking us up from the airport. On the way we bought something to eat and then sat down and talked and talked and talked and talked …
They are also travelling around the world and started 2 months after us (klick here to see their blog ).
We used the next day to walk around the city and to get information about renting a car because our next Spaceship was not available until almost a week later. In the afternoon we went for a little walk in Littelton, Christchurch’s harbour before we went back to the campground where we slept in Ursula and Klaus’ tent. My first night in a tent ever. Well, it was OK but nothing I have to get used too. The next day we went towards Mount Cook, on the way we stopped at lake Tekapo and lake Pukaki. The colour of these lakes were amazing. When we reached the camp for the night it was raining and cold and we really hoped for better weather. It was not really better but after breakfast it stopped raining for a little bit and so we managed to do a little walk until we saw the beautiful glacier of Mt. Cook. Then we moved on and reached the southislands eastcoast at Oamaru in the evening.
On that way we found a salmon farm and bought delicious and fresh salmon for our dinner.
After some sightseeing in the historic part of Oamaru we had the oportunity to see some yellow eyed pinguins. And we were lucky that we found some and could take really good pictures of them. They were very cute and we have never seen pinguins that close before, not even in Australia or in the zoo.
Our next stop was at the so called Mouraki boulders. 50 round stones, from footballsize up to a diameter of 2 meter, washed out by waves and placed at the beach. Why there? We don’t know, it is nature and kind of a miracle.
After the following night we had to say good bye to Ursula and Klaus to drive back to Christchurch and pick up our “Spaceship”. - Finally! The 4th after Australia.
For the way back we took the scenic “route 72″ through Geraldine, Mt. Somers, Rakaia river gorge and Darfield. Definitely a scenic route.
Before leaving Christchurch again we filled up our car with grocery shopping for the next 3 weeks and went to Banks Peninsula. Driving along little streets, we had stunning views on little bays in the north, east and south of this peninsula. It is autum here, the wind is blowing and the leaves are falling off the trees. It feels a little bit like home in autum.
Akaroa is the main village on banks peninsula and has a french touch. On a nice sunny day we walked around this area and later that day we left for Timaru a nice little town further south where we walked though the center the next day, before stopping again for some more pictures of the Mouraki bolders.

Next destination: Middlemarch.
I would say it is New Zealands outback, just a lot of landscape and sheep. But every 2nd year there is a special event called single ball and we were right there to join this party. As I said it happens only every 2nd year on saturday before easter. It is organized for the (single-)farmers. There is a train - the love train - leaving from Dunedin and when it arrives roughly 2 hours later, with all the ladies in Middlemarch, the party starts. Everyone is dressed up and most of the girls already quite drunk when they arrive. But not only the girls. On a big trailer used as a catwalk, the show starts and the young farmers (also girls) get the chance to present themselves. After that the party starts in a big tent with music, some more drinking and dancing.
We had a blast and it was a lot of fun. The day after, especially I had a bad hangover, should not have drunk that much of the sweet vodkalemon.
So we left Middlemarch towards Dunedin where we visited the most important sights like the presbyterian first church, the old really beautiful railwaystation and “baldwin street”, with 38% known as the worlds steepest street.
Close to Dunedin on Ortago peninsula we spent an other whole great day. At sandflybay we saw one of the very rare white seals, enjoyed driving through beautiful landscape with blue sky and sunshine and in the afternoon we reached the peninsulas head. There is a colony of the big royal albatross, with a visitors center where we have got some interesting information about this amazing animals. We saw some flying in the air, their wingspan can be up to 3m.
South of Dunedin we went to a hidden place called Tunnelbeach. It is a little beach surrounded by high cliffs, where rich New Zealanders built a tunnel through the rocks to reach their private beach. Then we drove along the coast, along the so called southern scenic route to Invercargill. On the way we stopped at Nugget Point lighthouse with a fantastic view over the scenery. Invercargill with its 50000 inhabitants, has some nice buildings and a watertower but nothing really special to see, so we left to Bluff point a peninsula south of the city and the nearly southernmost point of NZ mainland. Next we drove towards Queenstown (the place best known for it’s sport and adrenalin activities) and passed lake Wakatipu. Here we met Ursula and klaus again and spent a very nice day in Queenstown, watched people bungee jumping from a bridge, saw jetboats speeding through a narrow canyon and walked through Arrowtown. From there we took another scenic route to Wanaka with its lake where Johannes went for a swim even though it was cold and windy. The next way lead us over Haast pass where we stopped again for a couple of short walks to some lookouts and waterfalls. At Haast we decided to continue and went on to Fox glacier, where we walked around lake Matheson and as close as we could to the glacier. Next we moved on to Franz Josef, another glacier named after the austrian emperor. After arriving we walked to the tongue of the glacier. I have never seen something like this before and it was cool even though it was a little bit cloudy. We took a lot of pictures and I was sad when we had to leave. Definitely one of my highlights in NZ.
On the way to Punakaiki, along the southislands westcoast, we looked at some jadeshops and saw our one and only real kiwi (the bird) in a sanctuary.
At high tide we visited the pancakerocks with its blowholes and afterwards Ursula and Klaus left us again.
We stayed another day because an austrian couple we met in Australia recommended a one day workshop of knifemaking. So that’s what Johannes did and of course he made the best, biggest and most beautiful knife ever ;-) and the most important thing, he had a lot of fun.
I took a “day off” and had time to read, write some emails and went for a walk on the beach.
Another highlight for us was Kaikoura, where we went whale watching. After some saftey instructions a boat took us about 30km offshore. And we were lucky and saw a male sperm whale, 19 meters in length. He stayed some minutes on the surface and when he finally submerged he showed us his big fluke. It was amazing and an unbelievable feeling beeing so close (15 meter) to this creature.
During our dinner at the campsite we met a really nice family with seven kids between 6 and 19 years old. We also discovered that they will take the same ferry as we do to the Northisland of NZ on the following day. So we drove to Picton checked in ourselves and our spaceship and spent a long time on deck to have our last view on the southisland before we met the family again. We had a very nice chat and finally they invited us for dinner right before we leave NZ.
After disembarking in Wellington we went straight to the Te Papa museum which we can really recommend. A very interactive museum with a lot of interesting things (history, flora, fauna, sea …) to see. After 2,5 hours we were hungry and decided to get something to eat before we went to bed. The next morning we drove to Mt. Victoria lookout to get an overview and discovered the city a little bit more before leaving to Wanganui.
Here we rented canoos and paddled 11km on the river, I have to admit after 3km I’ve had already seen enough of the scenery and knew I would be sore the next day because I used muscles I usually don’t use :-). After almost three hours we were back returned the canoos and strolled around a little market until it started to rain. So we left and arrived later at Tongario Nationalpark where we wanted to walk the famous Tongario crossing, the scenery is supposed to look like a landscape on the moon. But on the next day the wheater was too bad and foggy so we only did a short walk to a waterfall and skipped the crossing. At least we had a really nice and interesting and funny evening with two germans, father and son.
Then we left for Taupo where we met Ursula and Klaus again and organized tickets for a Maori show and discovered the thermal wonderland together. The lady Knox geysier explodes every day at 10:15. Why ? Because that is the time when they put a handful soap into the geysier, so it errupts. Then we walked around the thermal wonderland and looked at the vulcanic and thermal activities. E.g hot mudpools. In the evening we went to Rotorua, dressed up and went to this very interesting Maori show which included an excellent dinner. The next 2 days we spent at Coromandel peninsula. On our first day we have been two hours at Hotwaterbeach. We were lucky the sun was shining and we were sitting in kind of hot tubs on the beach looking at the ocean. It was fascinating but it is easy to explain. On this beach you have two hot springs where you can dig sandholes 2 hours before or after low tide and enjoy the very special spa experience. On the second day we walked through Coromandel and took a little train called driving creek railway to a lookout called eye-full-tower and left for our dinner invitation. We arrived at 6 o clock and spent a wonderful evening with excellent dinner and interesting conversations.
Thanks again to Andy, Vinnie, Hannah, Mary, Chris, Freddy, Franky, Gabby and Michael. Our last three days in NZ we spent in Auckland. They also have a ferry and a little harbour bridge (what reminded us of sydney). Only the opera was missing ;-) We had a nice view over the city from Mt. Eden, we took the bus to get an impression of the city and walked a lot through different districts of Auckland. I really liked the city and I think it would be a nice place to live. This was our last stop on our second third of our trip.
Now we have 4 months left in Southamerica. – At least 4 month to report about …

geschrieben von Katharina (4. Mai 2009)
Kategorie: ... von Katharina, in English
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Eastcoast back to Sydney - Melbourne - Adelaide - Coober Pedy - the red Center - back to Sydney - Tasmania

Sorry to all our English speaking friends for this long break, but now finally i´ve made it to summarize our last 2 month in Australia.
After we left Bundaburg our next stop was Tin Can Bay where we could feed a wild dolphin in the morning. Since 50 years almost every morning the dolphins show up at the harbour because once there was an injured dolphin rescued by the community. Now they (between one and a group of them) show up to get a snack from tourists who feed them. Dolphins need up to 30kg fish every day and they feed them maximum 3kg there. I don’t know what the fascination is about this animals but it was fantastic standing in the kneedeep water and feed fish to this wild animal. Then we headed over to Rainbow beach, this little village was the starting point of our fraser island experience. After we sorted out all the possibilties of tours or renting a 4wd, we decided to book a tour for 2 days with a group of only 14 people.
The tour started on monday and we arrived on saturday, so we had still 1,5 days left to relax at the beach and to enjoy the view from the carlo sandblow, a 120m high dune on the hill overlooking the scenery. Monday 9am we met our tour guide Neil and 9 other people who spent the following 2 days with us. After arriving on fraser island with the ferry, they told us some facts about: it is a gigantic sandbar 120km by 15km and it is said, that there is more sand than in the desert sahara. You find rainforest and more than 100 freshwater lakes, sanddunes and of course the famous 75 mile beach.
It is a pity that you are not allowed to swim in the ocean because of the jelly fish and sharks in that area.
Within the two days we saw lake mckenzie, eli creek where we could swim downstream in cold and really refreshing water, indian head - the best viewing point of the island, we stopped at the maheno ship wreck, at cental station - the middle of the island, we did one of the walks through the rainforest and johannes flew with a little plane holding up to 8 persons over the island spotting sharks and big turtels, starting and landing on the beach.
I really liked Fraser Island a lot, especially because we had really good weather. The same evening we made it to a little village called Eumundi and celabrated johannes birthday there. We went out to dinner and had a really nice evening. Next morning there was the famous market and we strolled around for about three hours.
Later that day we arrived in mount tamborine just 45km northwest of gold coast, its a 552m high plateau, where we visited an artificial glowwormcave, wich only excist here and newzealand.
We found a very nice lookout and decided to stay there for the night, I was cooking as suddenly a car showed up and the guy said something I did not understand so Johannes walked over and told me that he asked if we wanted to be introduced to one of the locals and then he showed us the 2,5 m python he just catched at one of the houses in the village. Yes it was the snake handler and he told us he had not seen a venemous snake here for a long time, something about 3 weeks. Even though i am so afraid of snakes we stayed there but we watched our steps especially carefully.
Next day after a nice walk in the national park we drove to the wet’n'wild waterpark. That was a lot of fun, loads of slippery rides and swimming pools . We spent the whole day there and had a really good time.
On the same day we arrived at lamington nationalpark where we went to bed very early and when we woke up we saw a lot of wild wallabies and parrots sitting around our car and having breakfast. Even though it was raining we still did the so called tree top walk and walked on a series of rope and plank suspension bridges in the edge of trees around 30 meters high. Afterwards we decided to leave again because of the rain and visited again Paul and Lea in byron bay for another two days. Also thanks to adam, pauls brother and his wife louisa who also invited us for a bbq on valentines day. On the way to sydney we stopped in coffs harbour at the big banana, visited the prison and the lighthouse at southwest rocks and went to the movies in newcastle (he is just not that into you).
Back in sydney we could stay with fliss again and we met alain and verena (friends from Austria). With them we spent two really awesome days on the beach, had great conversations, dinner and some drinks while going out at the rocks. It was great to see them during their 3 week trip to Oz and i am really happy it worked out. With fliss i went to the movies again and watched “slumdog millionaire” - a movie i can really recommend, especiallly after having been in india recently. We had a nice dinner with her friends and went out for breakfast twice.
On sunday afternoon we went to the blue mountains. The blue haze which gave the mountains their name results of the ultra fine oily mist given off by eucalyptus trees. In glenbroke where we cooked dinner we met a couple from belgium (josephine and frederic) they travel for a year within australia. We also spent the next day with them exploring the elisabeth lookout in glenbrook,wenthworth falls, gordon lookout in leura and then we drove the scenic road to katoomba where we had a good view at the rock formation three sisters.
At scenic world which includes a railway, skyway and flyway with breathtaking views we decided to watch the movie “the edge” a ducumentary film about the blue mountains at the Imax theatre, to end the day.
After finding a place to cook and to sleep we met Danie and Michael, another couple from austria.
So we decided (the six of us) to drive to blackheath the next day and walk through the grand canyon there. It was a beautiful and interesting walk and in the evening we had another nice dinner together. The next day we all headed in different directions to continue our journey. We drove down south stopped in Wollongong at Nan Tien, the biggest buddhist tempel of the southern hemisphere, saw our first fascinating blowhole in Kiama, Johannes visited the Fleet air arm museum in nowra and we bought cheese in the Bega cheese factory.
Since in Victoria the landscape was much dryer than in queensland or new south wales and it looked like it has not been raining for a while.
In Geelong, not far from Melbourne we met our friend Tegan again and visited the international cultural festival with her. Different nations presented themselves with selling traditional food in their cultural dresses. It was a very nice day and a lot of fun seeing Tegan again.
Next day in Melbourne we met Aglae and Phillip with their newborn daughter Isabelle. Again we had another home far away from home for some days. We used these days to discover melbourne, wandered around queen victoria market, took the city circle tram to get an impression of the city, took the lift up to the top fo eureka tower and got a good overview.
We also met Tegan again for a very good dinner. It was so good to see you again and hopefully you come to visit us soon in Austria. One of these days we spent on Philipp Island where we had two awesome experiences. The first was a boat tour to a seal colony with thousands of seals. The closer we came the better we saw and smelled them. They were everywhere in the water around the boat, on the rocks where they slept or in the rock pools where they young played. It was fantastic to watch them in their natur surrounding.
The second thing was the pinguine parade in the evening. As soon as the sun went down there were hundreds of pinguins coming out of the water. They were so cute and little and walked with their full tummies (full from fishing) back to their places in the dunes. After hours of waiting and watching we finally had to go. It was awesome.
I wish we would have had two or three more days in and around Melbourne but we had to go on and took the Great Ocean Road torwards Adelaide. The wheather was not the best, but when we saw koalas in the wild sitting in the trees, wet from the rain, that was totally forgotten. We discovered at least 10 to 20 koalas and made some really cool pictures. Then of course we drove along this scenic route and enjoyed the wonderful scenery, stopped at the twelve apostel rocks where Johannes even made a helicopter flight to see them from above. Along the way we saw the so called petrified forest (a stone formation) in cape bridgewater were impressed by the massive waves that hit the cliffs and another blowhole.
Entering South Australia we stopped in Mt. Gambier with its two lakes. One of them is the well known blue lake that is really a beautiful blue colour even when it is cloudy.
The weekend we came to Adelaide, there were two festivals and we spent the evening looking at street artists (some of them were really good and funny) at the FRINGE festival. The next day we used for sightseeing, relaxing, shopping and Internet.
Near the beach, where we stayed overnight with our car, we met a swiss and a belgian couple and had fun drinking and talking about traveling. The next stop after Adelaide was already in the outback. After two days driving we arrived in coober pedy. It was really cool, we stayed at a camp ground where you sleep with your tent in a dougout underneath the ground. Because of the hot temperatures up to 50 degree Celcius most homes, hotels, museums, churches and even the bookshops are underneath the ground.
The reason why people came to coober pedy was searching for opal. Of course only a few of them were really successful but still people are trying their luck. When we heard about an austrian living there as well we had to visit him of course to ask him about his live. He even showed us his home and it was a really interesting conversation.
After another 761 km we arrived at Kings canyon in the late afternoon. In the morning we did the Kings canyon walk and it was beautiful, despite thousands of flies (we where happy that we already bought our fly nets) and pretty hot sun. Arround midday we left and saw ayers rock/uluru for the first time.
It is faszinating although you know the rock from so many pictures and of course it is one of the main attractions in australia … but in the end for me it is only a rock. We decided to walk around uluru, it is a 10km walk but because of the heat I only managed to walk half way and johannes had to walk the 2nd other half alone. Then of course we watched sunset and the sunrise and Johannes made a lot of pictures. After sunrise we went on to the Olgas, another big rock formation where we did another walk, before leaving the red center torwards alice springs.
In the camp ground we met two really nice couples from denmark and the netherlands. In alice springs we visited the school of the air, the royal flying doctor service, desert park, walked and drove around the city. we were both very impressed by the school of the air, how they teach 130 children (age 4 - 12) between 700 and 2000 km away over the internet (in earlier days over radio) and how it works out. Really amazing.
I also felt the same way about the flying doctors, they provide the medical help for the people in the outback. For me it is very hard to imagine living in the outback, in de middle of nowhwere and nothing where your closest neigbour is probably hundreds of kilometres away.

Our plan to leave alice spings torwards sydney so early that we still have enough time to see some things on the way didn’t work out because on saturday afternoon just before we wanted to leave, johannes discovered that the inside of our front tyres where completely driven down to the wire. Of course we couldn’t find anyone who makes a wheel aliment and change 2 tyres on saturday afternoon. So we had to spent 2 extra nights in alice springs. On monday morning we have got everything fixed and had 3 days and about 3000 km left to get back to sydney.
Everone can imagine what it feels like … getting up early, breakfast in the car while driving and stops only for refueling or the toilet.
But at least we made these three days safe and alive. But everything hurt from sitting in the car.
In sydney fliss and her parents again offered us a home away from home and we had a really good time (went to the sydney opera, partyed with fliss and her friends, went to the beach, saw a movie, brought back our spaceship …)
And then we had to say good bye, what always is the hard part but we know that we will see some of these people again. So we left for our last 12 days to tasmania, where we picked up our 3rd spaceship named thunder bolt and left hobart, the capital city of tasmania.
First we stopped at the shot tower where they used to make bullets in earlier days. From the top of the tower we had a nice view over hobart and its landscape. Then we drove near Hartz mountains Nationalpark where we made a tree tolp walk (40 meters above the ground), walked over swinging bridges and I even did the eagle hang gliding over the huon river. That was a lot of fun. In the afternoon we did the walk up to hartz peak which was recommend by fliss’ mum. We enjoyed it very much, walking up to 1250m and despite the autumn temperature johannes jumped into a cold lake on the way back. For me the water was way to cold and the sun was not shining either. The next day we drove through southpoint and ida bay and reached the southern most point in australia and tassy of course.
A really beautiful spot and i would love to come back and spend more time there. But we had to leave and took the ferry from kettering to bruny island. There we tried to see pinguins but they did not show up and it was too windy, cold and dark to wait longer. During the day we discovered the island and in the afternoon we headed back to mainland tassy and drove all the way to port arthur where we booked a boat tour around the tasman peninsula. We had perfect wheather, the best seats on the boat and saw seals, birds, dolphins, fisherman with their prey and the amazing landscape from the water, all the cliffs and stone formations. Afterwards we visited the former prison at port athur. It gave us a good view of the life of the people whether they were convicts, police officers or settlers. It was closed 1877 and today everyone can visit the remaining parts of the buildings.
At the tasman devil conservation park we saw some little tasman devils. These animals look like something between dog, cat and little bears. They only exist in tassy.
Later that day we arrived at freycinet nationalpark and on the next morning we did a beautiful walk, saw dolphins swiming at wineglassbay and had amazing views at the scenery.
On the way back to hobart we saw some litte towns like ross, campbell, oatland and richmond where we walked through, made some pictures of the oldest bridge of tassy or some cute churches. On the day we had to return our spaceship we drove to hobart and stopped at mount wellington, had a look over the city and made a short walk before we checked in at our hostel. The same night we met josephine and frederik again, the couple we have already met in the blue mountains and also Ellen one of-the girls we got stuck in queenslands outback in january. We spent a nice evening with them and did some sightseeing together before we had to leave tasmania and australia for good.

Final thoughts: the infrastructure for travellers with or without campervan all over Australia is really good. You will find clean public toilets sometimes showers, free bbq facilities with tables everywhere in the whole country. In every village there is a libary where they provide internet and most of the times it is for free.
We really want to come back and see the rest of this beautiful and amazing country.

geschrieben von Katharina (8. März 2009)
Kategorie: ... von Katharina, in English
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After leaving Bali in the evening of december 30 we arrived in Kuala Lumpur and decided to stay at Mc Donald’s at the airport until the first bus at 04:30 brought us to the city center. From there we took the monorail and then a taxi to catch our bus to Singapore, leaving at 8 a.m. There we met christina and her husband - the newly weds (the journalist of the newspaper we write for once a week) and we a had a Singapore Sling Cocktail at the Ruffles Hotel. After only three hours in SIN we headed already to the airport again and left for Sydney where we arrived on january 1st at 6.30 a.m.
I can tell you, when we arrived we felt like having a hangover without drinking bevore. Well but we made it and there was even someone who picked us up at that early morning.
A big THANKS to Fliss.
The first thing we did was driving over Sydney harbour bridge and taking some pictures of the opera house and the harbour. The rest of the day we spent at the beach and relaxed. At least we stayed for 12 days with Fliss’ family and they really gave us a very warm welcome. We did a lot of sightseeing (Taronga Zoo, Sydney tower, Paddington market, different districts from SYD like Bondi beach, Balmoral, Malmaine, Manly beach …). My favorite thing was taking the ferry and enjoy the scenery of Sydney harbour. We also met my friend Daniella who I met 8 years ago in Barcelona when I was working there. So we catched up with her and her husband Shane and had a really nice evening at a japanese restaurant and they even invited us to stay with them overnight.
Because I wanted to go dancing they organized the opening of the Sydney festival at on of these evenings. ;-) Again we met Daniella and Fliss and some of their friends (only girls). Lucky Johannes!!! After we have seen Grace Jones live in concert we went dancing. I had such a good time.
The day after Fliss’ Dad invited us to go sailing around Sydney harbour for a day. I was excited because I have never been sailing before and it was a great day we started at nood and again we had another beautiful view at the opera house and the bridge. We stopped in a little bay near Manly and had late lunch on the boat before we sailed back.
Thanks for the great opportunity to go sailing, we had an amazing time.
Next we flew to brisbane where we got our car (in which we live since then for 2,5 months until mid of March). After discouvering Brissie we visited Paul and Lea (who we met in Lao and Bali while their 3 months Asia trip) in Byron Bay and spent some really fun days with them.
When you are in byron bay and you see everyone surfing, you have to try it yourself and so we took our first surf lesson. Even though it was raining we really had a good time and even managed to stand on the surf board as we were promised. Who would have thought …

Our original plan for Australia was driving through the outback to Alice Springs, see Ayers Rock/Uluru and traveling down the westcoast to Perth than Adelaide Melbourne and back again to Sydney.
So we started and drove three days through Queenslands Outback which was not that dusty and dry as we expected. It was very green and wet as well because it was raining. No actually it was pooring and it has not rained like this for the last 20 years. We should have known that its still rainy season in the tropics. Because of that we had to stop at McKinlay, a village with 30 inhabitants, a pub (the Walkabout Creek Hotel & Pub from the Film “Crocodile Dundee”), a small caravan park, a fuelstation and a police office with exactly 1 single officer!!! We had to stop because the little creek behind the village flooded the street. This should happen a couple of times during the following days and we were told that we probally would have to wait for another 3 days till the water goes down again and we could move on.
Our luck, overnight the water went down and we went on to Mount Isa. But after we discovered in Mt. Isa that there was no possibility to go any further west probably for days and that the schockers of our car had to be changed, we decided to turn around forget about the westcoast. Actually it took as another 5 days to reach the eastcoast, a distance that usually needs only one and a half day to drive, when you are not hit by flooded roads again and again and again … But one good thing about beeing stuck was meeting really awesome people, all with the same Problem: Ellen and Petra from Germany, Tegan from Australia, Sas and Debby from Holland and Fabian and Wiebke also german. We spent most of these days together and we all were happy to have met each other, to play cards, prepare meals and eat together, check in as a group at camping sites and we even spent Australia Day together.
Our stations of this odyssee were Cloncurry, Julia Creek, Winton, Hughenden, Charterstowers, who do not know all this places in the Outback? We do ;-)

After the civilisation had us back we stayed in Townsville for three days. Said good bye to everyone, went to the internet, supermarket, made our laundry and got our car changed. Next destination Airley beach and Whitsunday islands. On our way we stopped at a wildlife sancturay even though it rained and met wombats, koalas and crocodiles. We also saw our first crocodile feeding there. Arriving in airlie beach we booked a boattrip to the whitsundays but due to the wheather we had to wait for 2 days. So we spent these days in shopping malls, internet cafes … etc. and waited for the time to pass. During a break from the rain we went to dingo beach for a walk where we collected shells. It is really hard if it rains all the time because australia definitly an outdoor country. They have a lot of nature (landscape and animals) and outdoor activities but sitting in a car the whole day and watching the rain was not that much fun. Unfortunately the wheather did not change and we decided to move on after we were informed that our boat trip was cancelled. So we drove to Eungella National Park where we hoped to see the very shy platypus. We could not even see one at Taronga Zoo in Sydney. It still rained when we arrived but anyway we had to get out and did a very nice walk and then waited to spot a platypus and yes we did. It was so cool and we even managed to make some pictures. The next days we passed Rockhampton with the Capricorn caves and a Crocodile farm where we could learn about and saw a lot of these huge and scary animals. They also sell crocodile meat and so johannes tried crocodile.
Next we visited Town of 1770/Agnes Water where we had the first nice and sunny day after a long time so we decided to stay and spent the day at the beach. we also bought a body bord and especially johannes loves it. Bundaberg, the next city where we stopped to see the beach of Mon Repos where sea turtels lay their eggs and 8 weeks later the baby turtles hatch and you can be part of it and watch this wonder of nature. It was amazing, I mean we had to wait for some hours in the dark but it was definitley worth it to see the cute little creatures hatching and finding their way over the beach into the big big ocean from where one out of 1000 will be back at the same beach in 30 years to lay eggs themselves …
We also visited the Bundaberg rum distillery but I can not recommend it, it was not really worth the entrance fee.

That was my first australian review and the next one will follow …

geschrieben von Katharina (3. Februar 2009)
Kategorie: ... von Katharina, in English
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again we had to say good bye, this time to the 5 foxes in Bangkok and also to my friend martina who flew back to Austria. Of course a good bye needs farewell party, so that’s what we did the night before we left. I  can tell you the combination between playing jackpot (drinking game) and the next day flying was not that great. But if you can drink, you can …

Well after we survived that and arrived in Singapore we checked in, in our max. 5 square meter big room without a window but with plastic bedsheets. We did not care and slept for 13 hours. We really needed that portion of sleep. ;-)
The next day we went with a hopp on hopp off bus and tried to get a good overview of the city. At lunch time we were at a chinese restaurant and had a kind of “fondue” there. Strange but interesting. Then we have got our bustickets to go to Kuala Lumpur.
After we arrived there and found our hotel we discovered that we had a bigger and nicer room this time. Again we took a hopp on hopp off bus for the first overview of Kuala Lumpur. The petronas twin towers and the KL tower helped us to give us a better view “over” the city.
I have to admit that we have only got a superficial impression of both cities because we only had one day in each of them, after extending our stay in  Bangkok. But anyway, we have to come back then I guess.

Next day, departure to Bali, Indonesia where we were supposed to meet my mum and peter (my mums husband), to spend christmas together. We have been in the metro almost on the way to the airport when we received a short message from peter with the following info: ” got stuck in Bangkok because my mums passport is only valid less than 6 months anymore” I can tell you - I was devastated. I am glad Johannes always stays calm and despite that we headed off to the airport. There we went to the air asia counter and right before we booked a flight back to Bangkok, peter called and told us they will get “an emergency passport, visa for Indonesia and a flight to Bali” within the next 4 days. So we flew to Bali and waited in our hotel (this time the place we stayed in is definiteley worth beeing called hotel). It is a very nice place located directly at a golden sandbeach, with beautiful rooms, in a very green garden and good food. When they finally made it, we had great dinner, ate very good fish, enjoyed massages on the beach and spent a great mother-daughter time together. Christmas was very special but also a little bit weird being at the beach and having it warm. To do some sightseeing as well, we spent the last 5 days of our stay in ubud, a village in the countryside where we stayed with Marina (she is austrian) and Yan (her balinese husband) in their beautiful guesthouse. It is a place I can definiteley recommend, because it is like a home away from home. If anyone needs their contact please let me know. They invited us for dinner on christmasday with original austrian food (fritattensuppe, knödel and schweinsbraten). Who of you ever had that before - in Bali?  ;-)
We walked through the ricefields, saw the original balinese house of our guide Kung (really interesting), had fresh coconutmilk from a coconut picked from the tree right in front of us and saw the traditional kecak dance. Of course we saw some important tempels as well. One day before new yearseve our time with my mum and peter was over and we had to say good bye again what was really hard. Thanks for the nice time and fun we had with you.

2 days, 4 countries and 2 continents later, we reached the next destination - Australia.

geschrieben von Katharina (31. Januar 2009)
Kategorie: ... von Katharina, in English
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It was hard to leave hongkong especially because we had such a good time with maureen and julian. There is still a lot we didn’t see and hongkong is definitely a city where we would like to come back and spend some more days.
Still in hongkong we got an e-mail from mark and lara (friends of friends of us) that we are more than welcome to stay with them in bangkok. After we arrived we took a taxi for 6 € to their place and they gave us a very warm welcome. At our first stay at the 5 Foxes (mark, lara and their 3 children - thomas, philippa and felix) we almost stayed a week, went to the dentist, grocery shopping, sleep in, met cecily and steffi (also friends from austria) and picked up steffi and leonie from the airport, could watch the historical moment when barack obama became us-president elect live at tv and of course did some sightseeing. It almost felt like home, we had a big room with own shower and a toilet. Didn’t feel like backpacking for a while.
When we finally left we went to the north of thailand, chiang mai, chiang rai und chiang saeng. My personal highlight there, was next to the loy kratong festival,that we met annette und thorsten in chiang mai again. After pokhara and kathmandu (in nepal) we spent another two really nice evenings with them. Also great was my rash on my whole body for 2 days, because of that I know now, how a hospital looks from the inside in thailand. After registration and a first check up I saw the doctor. One hour later and only 10 € poorer but some pills richer, he told me that it was an allergic reaction and later that day it was already gone. Chiang Rai is a lot smaller than bangkok and i was really fascinated by the white tempel wat ron khun, because it was so different to the other tempels by the way it looked. It actually is a really new tempel and that may be the reason why it is not mentioned in any travelguides so far. Then we went to chiang saen, this village has 2 guesthouses and there is defintely nothing to see but the food they served at the little foodcounters next to the main streets was the best we had in thailand. For 2 sensationell meals we paid aprox. 1 €. Also the thai- and foot- massages for 2,50€ for an hour with view to the mekong river at sunset  were unbelievable good. We also made excursions to see the golden triangel. (thailand, lao, myanmar) and we spent half a day in  tachilek myanmar.

Then we went to lao and all in all we spent ten days there, we have not seen everything yet, such a beautiful country. Definitely I want to go there again.
We also met some really nice people (adrienne and mathias from aachen, living in the netherlands, martina a girl from munich but living in vienna, paul und lea from byron bay/australia, lisa a dutch girl and diethart und dita from the tirol - austria…….) Most of them we met on our 2 days tour on the mekong river, at least 18 hours on a boat. First day there were two boats with 160 people and at our first stop pak beng everyone got hectic because there were not enough rooms for all of the people. we decided not to get the shitty rooms, so johannes stayed at the boats and tried to get all our luggage and martina and I ran and looked for rooms. Even if we were not the first ones with this brilliant idea and after asking at the first couple of places we finally got two rooms. In the evening we went out for dinner and were very international. We have been 6 nationalities and we had a lot of fun. After day two in the boat we arrived in luang prabang where we stayed 4 days and cancelled our plan to go and see ankor wat in cambodia, because we did not have enough time to do all that without stress. I really loved luang prabang and it was the bonus for the hours we spent on the boat. One of these days, it was a sunday  we went sightseeing und suddenly we came to a village where we started to talk, drink, eat and dance with the people. Because their english was really little we used hands and feet, smiling and laughing to communicate. This was an amazing experience for us without them wanting anyhing from us in the end, as we had these bad experiences sometimes in other countries.

My next highlight was tubing  (including drinking and dancing) in vang vieng. It was a lot of fun especially because we were still with all the people we met on the boat. So we started after breakfast and at lunchtime we had the first drink in our hands and around midnight the last one :-)). Inbetween water, sliding, dancing, laughing and having fun. Have a look at the lao pictures, than you know what I am writing about. Going out partying after three month :-)))

Then back in thailand, we still hoped that even though the protesters had caused a closure of the airport, martina (my friend from austria) would arrive. But it did not look good. It was so cool, that austrian airlines as the only european airline landed at the military airport in utapao during these days. Thanks austrian airlines. Martina was almost alone on the plane but I hope she did not regret coming. We had a lot to catch up, went shopping  and spent 10 days on the beach. We took the bus to ranong and then the boat for 2,5 hours to the first island koh chang. It was a little island with some bungalows and not much more. The food at our “resort” was excellent. After 4 days we left and went the other half of our stay to koh phayam the next remote island.
Even though we got a lot of bites - no not from mosquitos but from sandflies, we enjoyed our stay at the beach. Being back in bangkok we could again stay with our friends “1402″.  I really had a lot of fun with Martina - Thanks for coming and seeing us. That is it about my highlights from thailand and lao.  Soon I will tell you about Singapur, Kuala Lumpur and Christmas in Bali …

geschrieben von Katharina (21. November 2008)
Kategorie: in English
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Our first stop in nepal was sonauli at the indian border on the way to pokhara. It is funny it reminds me a little bit of pucon a little town in soutern chile where we have been 2 years ago. We stayed in pokhara almost two weeks. It is located in a valley directly at a beautiful lake. There we first met karina and andreas, they are from chile and are friends from bernhard. (johannes’ brother) They organized a room for us at the same place where they stayed at. It was a very nice hotel called nanohana lodge. We had a very good time with them, talking, discussing, exchanging travel information and doing little excursions. For example we hired a boat including boatman who rowed us across the lake and we went up the hill about 45 minutes before we reached the world peace pagoda. Then we walked down on the other side and 2,5 hours and 5-6km later we came back to the hotel.
The next day i decided to have a massage. In our rooms we found flyers  of a massage center where you get massaged by blind people. It is supported by a british organisation who send massage therapists to educate blind nepali people and after around 2 years they start to work. The massage took 1,5 hours for about 10 euro and it was worth it every cent. I was massaged by anita and she told me a little bit about the project. From the 10 euro, half of it goes to the training of other blind people and the rest ist splitted for material, rent and for them. The institute is called “seeing hands
Then karina and andreas left for varanasi and we will hopefully see them again in may in southamerica. The next days we slept, went out to dinner in nice restaurants, i bought some used german books and we made friends with karma she is a refuggee from tibet and owns a shop together with her uncle in pokhara where she sells necklaces, rings, statues … of course we bought something. We also rented a motorbike twice. The first time we went to Sarankot, a hill near Pokhara, from where we could see the panoramic annapurna himalaya peaks, from dhaulagiri in the west (8167m) to machapuchre (6997m) and the rounded  peak of annapurna II (7937m) in the east. Afterwards we drove about 15km southeast of pokhara to begnas lake, where we hired a boat and went for a swim.
On the next day we met sylvia from switzerland and she told us about the trekk she had done - alone for 13 days and she was really describing everything so wonderful that we decided to go trekking as well but only for 4 days - the so called poon hill trekk. Next day, we met our guide bharat, we got our trekking permit and packed our backpacks for the next days. I have to say it was exhausting but i did better than i thought. And i have done my first 3210 m :-))) and about 45-50 km far. During these days we also met some really nice people on the way (koshio kei & mai from japan, annette und torsten from germany, nirmala chettri from nepal) The next days after the trekk i could feel my legs and feet and blisters.
These days it was also festival time in Nepal, the festival called Dasain. We were invited by karma to come to visit her at the tibetian refugee camp because there was a special lama who came to speak there. Before that we were invited to come to her house where we had some tibetian tee with butter and salt before we visited the monastery. On the following day we rented a motorbike again and met Tsering (Karma’s son) to visit the other refugeecamp. We also went to a school where young monks are teached. When we saw this place from outside, we thought that it has to be a monastery as well. Afterwards we visited old pokhara, devis fall and the belonging caves.
Because we left to kathmandu on the next day, we had to pack our bags. After another 7hrs busride, we checked in at an hotel in thamel (the touristy part of kathmandu) and then we walked around a bit and whom do we meet? - Torsten and Annette! Again we spent some nice evenings with them in kathmandu. On the rooftop of our hotel we had a really nice terasse, so we always made our own breakfast and had it up there. It almost felt like home ;-) In the following days we did a lot of sightseeing, at durbar (means palace) square, saw amazing architectural monuments, the swayambhunath stupa a unesco world hertigae site and a famous buddhist tempel for kathmandu and nepal. This stupa is also called the monkey tempel.
Bhaktapur meaning city of rice is the third major town in the valley. We took the local bus for about an hour and then walked through the traditional intact town free of traffic. The cultural life, rice laid out in the sun to dry, people collecting water or washing their laundry in communal tubs were very interesting to watch. It is like 50 to 100 years ago in europe. I liked it a lot to walk around and see this little town. Thanks to burak for this wonderful tipp. Then we also visited pashupatinath - nepals most important hindu tempel. It is located on the banks of the holy river bagmati and non hindus are not allowed inside the main tempel but at the river it is a popular place to be cremated. You can see the burning ghats and at the same time people are swimming in the river. It was strange to see people at a funeral with the dead body being laid on the wood and burned. It is hard to understand that they do it in public even though the place was very peaceful.
In Bodhnath (or Boudha) on the north-eastern side of kathmandu - we visited one of the world largest stupas and it is the religious center for tibetian exiles in Nepal. It is one of the few places in the world where tibetian culture is still accessible. So we could watch monks at their ceremonies and i found it very interesting. Seeing these people, makes the tibet issue even more hard to understand for us. On our last day we went to patan, a small city, seperated from kathmandu by the bagmati river and it is the second largest town in the valley. Patans durbar square is full of temples, more than 600  stupas are scattered throughout the fascinating backstreets.
During one of these days we were in a shopping mall in kathmandu to find shoes for johannes, but biggest size for men in nepal is size 43 equals size 11 - much to small for him. But in the mall a young moderator of a nepali radiostation talked to us and interviewed us about nepal, the festival, austria and ourselves. At least we had the possibility to make a wish for a song. I wanted to hear “estelle - american boy” but they did not know it so i wished “shakira - hips don’t lie” because i knew they could play it. It was a funny experience and worth writing about.
The last stop on our trip through nepal was chitwan nationalpark. We booked a package from lagoon safari lodge including meals and activities. The lodge was ok so far, but when i saw a 4-5 cm big spider on my bed I was glad we brought a moskito net we could install to be safe. Thanks to sandra for letting it to us. Royal chitwan national park is nepal’s third attraction. It is a huge and beautiful nature reserve with 932 sq km of sal forest, water marshes and grassland. It has onehorned asian rhinos, tigers, leopards, elephants and dolphins in the park. On the day of arrival after we had lunch and rested we walked to the near by village called sauraha to see the park office and visitors center. Afterwards we went to the sunsetpoint at the rapti river and then we headed back for dinner. The lodge had a fantastic cook and for this it was also worth to stay there.
Next day we went with a horse cart to a tharu village 7 km away from our lodge. The Tharu people are a big ethnic group in Nepal and live in the Chitwan area. This area is green and people were harvesting rice. It was very interesting to see all this on our way. School kids stopped and greeted or waived. After we arrived at the village our guide asked for the oldest man and we sat down in front of his house. Almost the whole village gathered to watch us. It was very nice even though we could not communicate on our own, only our guide translated for us. We made pictures with them, and after 2,5 hours we had to leave again.
In the afternoon we went to the elephant breeding centre where we watched the cute baby elephants playing, eating and drinking.
The boat safari and jungle walk on the next day did not start so good. We got up at 6 a.m. but then we had to wait for a long time for breakfast afterwards we left the lodge to the point where we were supposed to get our boat. But what a suprise there was only one more boat left but no boatmen. So after a while of waiting our guide decided that he will be the boatmen. So we got in and started … I swear, I have never felt that uncomfortable bevor. The boat was not stable and the water was only 1 cm away to  come into the boat, at the same time our guide showed us the nice crocodiles he saw on the river banks. I was terrified. Even johannes did not make one picture (caring more about his camera equipment than about the “lacoste live savers”) … after we had survived that, we walked through the jungle, the green grass was more then 2 m high and sometimes it looked like the forest at home. We did not see a rhino but at least we scared a snake away.
Adventure enough ;-))  2,5 hours later we had to get one more time another boat to cross the river. I have had it by then, wake up early, the boatride, snake in the jungle … enough. So next we went to see the elephants bath and we could also swim with them and get showered by them. Johannes did not wait another minute and he loved it like a child on the playground. I have a lot of respect of elephants because they are huge and you will never know what happens next even though they are trained and so I decided to do the wash on the next day. Back at the lodge we had a quiet rest of the day.
So I did the elephant wash the day after as well and it was great fun to sit on, touch and get washed by the elephant, afterwards we rented a motorbike and went to see the crocodile breeding farm. It took us hours to get there because of course we had another flat tire. The crocodiles where held in different cages seperated by their different age. Then one of the guides showed us a tiger which was found when he was little and brought up by hand. This cat is now 5 years old, quite huge and looked very hungry :-))
For the reason that it was almost dark we headed home and we were glad that we had the GPS with us which brought us home safe after it got dark and of course johannes - my hero. After a really great dinner, at this lodge they really had the best cook, we went to see the tharu dance show.
First we were not sure if it would be a stupid touristic thing to watch, but by surprise it was not and we had a really nice evening. I was tired and glad to go to bed.
Next day we had to leave chitwan and so took the bus back to the indian border, where we decided to stay in a place - I really do not want to call it hotel - in sonauli. Again not such a great place to stay, so we found a restaurant where we spent the time playing poker, reading, watching tv and eating until we went to bed in the bevore mentioned place. We went to bed early and I was glad when the night was over. So we left Nepal and immigrated back to india. It is really funny people are so different as soon as we had crossed the border we have immediately been back in the indian way of life. But this time we have been prepared. So we took the bus to ghorakpur and from there we had the train back to dehli. We shared the compartment with two buddhist nunns from europe and had a nice time talking to them. During the night the indian guy next to us snored like crazy, much worse than johannes that we both had a hard time sleeping. Thanks to our I-Pod we survived the night and arrived in dehli next day in the morning. Someone of the gouvernemental travelagency picked us up and brought us to the hotel. Thanks to them because everything we have done with them before and after nepal worked out really great and they helped us having a great time staying in india.
After some hours of sleep and breakfast we went to the market because we still needed nice shoes for johannes for the evening because we had an invitation of the austrian embassador to a reception on the occasion of the austrian national day. And guess what, not only that johannes had found a pair of nice shoes for this evening, I have also found a really nice dress for only 4€. Later that day we were picked up by a driver and were brought to the residence of our embassador. It was huge with a big garden, red carpet, lights everywhere, the austrian and indian flag in front of the house. We really met very nice people that evening and enjoyed the good typical AUSTRIAN food and had some white wine. :-)))))) Really great after two month.
The next two days we explored the city again by car and again with Anil who was our driver before. It was nice to see him again.
We visited Hanumans Tomb the so called “small taj mahal”, the red fort, the biggest mosque of india - it can host about 20.000 pilgrims, some more tempel, and I was again amazed by the big sikh tempel and the lotus tempel.
The second day was a festival called “Diwali”, it is a little bit like christmas because they buy presents for the family and the streets are decorated. On the other hand it was like new years eve because they fired crackers and fireworks the whole day and night.
This was  our good bye from nepal and india and we left around 1030 p.m. to the airport and our flight left at 4 o’clock in the morning to hongkong. But about hongkong, thailand, laos and probably cambodia i will write next time.

geschrieben von Katharina (2. Oktober 2008)
Kategorie: in English
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We travel now for more than three weeks within india. I worked till the end of august, Johannes some days less and we had to move everything out of the appartment, exept the furniture. We had some “good bye evenings” with friends at my mums house at the terasse and some friends we met elsewhere what was really better than one big party, because we had some quality time with all of them. The good bye at the airport was hard, some of our friends where there and my mum and peter. My friend dieter brought champagne and my mum too. I did not have breakfast and so i was drunk when we went to the gate. First we flew to london and there we stayed 4 hours and then we flew to dehli. After the arrival we took a prepaid taxi to the hotel. Our driver couldn’t find the place for two hours. Indian traffic is crazy. You find cars, motorcycle, tuctucs, bikes, rikschas, cows, dogs and people mixed together and what you don’t believe: it works.

After we arrived we went to the New Delhi railwaystation because we wanted to go to nepal - kathmandu first. There we bought the tickets afterwords we walked through the market and then took a tuctuc to Connaught place. The tuctuc driver said something about floods in nepal so we went to the govermental travel agency there and they recommended us to stay in india the first 4 weeks and then go to kathmandu. So that’s what we did. We booked a tour for 24 days including car, driver, hotels and a camel safari. That was perfect for us because like this we will see much more of india as we would if we would organize it all by ourselfs with train, buses and so on … After the booking we met our driver - his name is Anil and he brought us to a nice restaurant in dehli first and then we went to india gate, on which other side you can see a big palace. Then we went back to the hotel and Anil said he will pick us up the next day at seven. Next day we left for Chandigarh, when we arrived there we went to see the so called “Nek Chand rock garden” and then there was an artificial lake as well. Imagine, this whole city was planned and built by the architect Le Corbusier in the 1950s. After we had left the lake it suddenly started raining and it was our first monsoon rain experience. We got back to the hotel and had dinner there. What brings me to the food.

Most of it is vegetarian, so good for me and even johannes is full afterwards. You have a lot of curry with vegetables and lentils. Also rice, potatoes and bread. Really delicious. Next day we went to Dharamsala, it is the exile of the dalai lama and therefore you have more people from tibet than indians there. This place has a very peacefull atmosphere. After discovering the tempel and the tibetian museum we also walked to the nearby village Bhagsu. After two nights there we left and went to Amritsar, where we visited the golden tempel the most holy place of the Sikh. You have every day about 30.000 pilgrims there.

In the evening we went to the peacefull boarder closing ceremony between india and pakistan. You have a lot of indian visitors there and there is dancing, singing and it is a huge and bizarr event. We enjoyed it very much. Then we left for bikaner. Where we saw the huge fort and we visited the karni-mata-tempel, it is a tempel where they admire rats. You have as much doves as rats there and of course, like every other tempel you have to take off your shoes !!!!!! Then we drove close to jaisalmer, and had a beautiful night on a sand dune at the desert were went to on a camel. We headed off from a place were we stored our luggage, packed our little backpack and went with another couple from london we just met before and decided to go together. Because it is nice to meet other people and not only talk to eachother ;-))) their names are hariett and max. They will stay in india, down in the south in kerala working for a volunteer project of an indian association that builds houses. We had a really great time with them. So around 4:30 pm we went with 3 camels and 3 guides, the so called cameldrivers to the desert. There we watched the sunset and afterwards helped cooking. The food was great, we even made our own bread and it was not sandy. Because it was almost full moon the night was really clear and it was really light. It was hard to sleep because all the sounds you are not familiar with like about 60 or70 camels around us that chose to stay that night on the same dune near our place. When the moon starts to go down it got colder in the desert. Between 6 and 7 the sun rises and after we tried fresh camel milk we headed back to the place we started and left again by car to jaisalmer to the hotel were we had a shower and two more hours of sleep. Afterwards we discovered the city and looked at some old buildings called haveli. The fort and the old city there is made out of sandstone and also famous for it. But it was also really dirty. This evening our driver told us that 5 bombs blasted in dehli. We were shocked, we have just been there at exactly the same places not even 10 days before. We discussed a lot this evening and came to the decision not to change our trip because then the terrorist have achieved their goal. Next day we left for jodhpur. First we checked our mails and stayed a long time then we made our laundry. In the evening we went to a really nice restaurant. It was called rock garden. It also had a little dancefloor and a cocktailbar. The food was also good and we did not pay more than usual. We stayed in the city center right underneath the fort. Next day we visited the clocktower, the spice market and the fort. In the evening we stayed again in the hotel because of some hard rain. At next we went to ranakpur and saw the tempel there, exept for the tempel there was not much to see. So we went back to the hotel and played some games and cards. In the same hotel we met a couple we saw in the desert camp too and started to talk to them. They come from mexico, are named gala and ivan and we spent a nice evening talking to them. They will stay 7 weeks in india and will head down towards the south and go to the beach. But before that we met them again and again during the time of our

tour through Rajasthan. We had a great time with them at the next places like pushkar, jaipur and in agra were we visited the taj mahal one of the most beautiful buildings. A very peaceful place, despite you have 1000’s of visitors every day. From Agra we took the train overnight to Varanasi sleeping on and off. So we slept again a couple of hours in the hotel after arrival. Varanasi again is a loud and typical indian dirty city, but also very interesting with its historical and mostly religious background. We made a one hour boat tour at dawn along the ghats were people pray, take a bath, wash their clothes ond burn their dead relatives. After 2 nights there we took a 2 days bus ride to pokhara in nepal where it is very different compared to india. Starting from the border it is cleaner, more green and the people are much more friendly. They talk to you and help you, just because they are friendly and not because they want to sell you something just want money.

Here we met some friends of johannes’ brother who lives in chile. They are german but live and work in chile too. We had a great time with them and still we enjoy our time in nepal doing nearly nothing.