Thursday, 19 May 2016

Vietnam: The Beauty of Hoi An - Chaotic Hanoi - On the trail of Vietnam War

Our itinerary through Vietnam
(03/04/2016 - 16/04/2016; 2000 km)

Hanoi is a shock. A big one.
Especially after Singapore. After Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore we are back in dusty, noisy, dirty and overcrowded South East Asia and it takes some time to adapt again.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Singapore: World in Melting Pot - Enormous Wealth at one spot - ARTificial Island

Our stop in Singapore
(31/03/2016 - 03/04/2016)
We are ready for a new adventure! With an aching heart we leave Emma behind, put the backpacks on our shoulders and take the next metro to the bus station. We want to catch a bus to Singapore. And our first attempt of living as backpackers almost goes wrong.

We arrive at the place we think is the bus station, half an hour before the bus is about to leave. And we realize that we are at the wrong place, totally at the wrong place. We have no idea how this could happen, after having rechecked three times for the right bus station. But I guess that is what can happen when getting used to a new modus of travelling. We manage to get a taxi and the taxi driver is so friendly to speed the seven kilometer through Kuala Lumpur's south, where we get onto the bus literally in the last second. Our shoulders hurt terrible from running with backpacks and carrying Pauli at the same time. But, we are off and going and it feels good to rely on a driver and not having to drive ourselves.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Malaysia: Colonialism - Rain Forest - Antonias Broken Arm

Our itinerary through (West-) Malaysia
(28/02/2016 - 31/03/2016; 1600 km)
Malaysia welcomes us with easy border procedures and a visa on arrival for 90 days. Very nice. We drive on big highways and on the first parking area with food court we decide to book an AirBnB apartment in Georgetown. Georgetown is an old colonial foundation on the island of Penang on the west coast of Malaysia. British founded the place to enlarge the network of coastal cities for their trade in Southeast Asia. To get there we have to pass a 14 km long bridge with an impressive view on the 100.000-people-city.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Thailand: We made it to the Pacific - Friends visiting - Enjoying beaches

Our itinerary through Thailand
(30/01/2016 - 28/02/2016; 2300km + flight)
We leave Cambodia on a dusty bumpy and small road and enter Thailand on the other side of the border on a modern four lane highway. What a huge difference in development between these two countries, already on first sight.
Crossing borders has lost its stress since we are in Southeast Asia. No detailed car searching anymore, no intimidating, endless discussions or theft. Instead: relaxed officials, friendly faces and for the first time: no entrance or visa fee has to be paid. Just a simple stamp and the mentioning that we can stay 30 days. We are amazed.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Cambodia: Stunning Temples - Cruel Past - Unbearable Heat

Our itinerary through Cambodia
(14/01/2016 - 30/01/2016; 1100km)
First thing I see of Cambodia is a stone copy of a sort watch animal, looking like a dog, that I have seen on pictures of Angkor Wat. This impressive sculpture sits in the middle of the heat at the Cambodian check point. He doesn't move and no one else is moving either, everyone hiding from heat, it is noon. Some sleepy officer in flip flops tells me that we need again our carnet de passage for the car, something we didn't expect, since we actually thought it was only needed for Iran. A little bamboo shed carries a sign saying "Visa". The officer wears a white shirt, his official olive green uniform hangs neatly ironed behind him, that way I can see that I am talking to a three star official... ;-) We literally deal the prize for the visa and I end up paying only ten dollars for the children, but thirty dollars for our visa. The fan is snoring, making funny noises, not sure how long this thing will still do. At the next bamboo shed we get our passports stamped, all very friendly and that's it. Torsten has parked the car in the meantime a little further and I have walked the way between the bamboo houses back and forth for a while now, that one of the officers is so kind to give me a ride on his motorbike, so I don't have to walk all the way again through the heat. A very calm, slow, quiet start into our next adventure. Cambodia is the 17th country in our tour.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Laos: Yulala - Waterfalls - Flying like a bird

Our itinerary through Laos
(03/12/2015 - 14/01/2016; 2700km)
Laos has the shape of a starlet. Or a palm tree. Whatever you see from far, it is absolutely fascinating to come closer and dive into this green, friendly and warm land. We fell in love with Laos. After travelling for four weeks we decided to extend our visa for two more weeks and enjoy some more time. What a strange situation: I did not know anything about this country when we entered Laos and after four weeks we didn't want to leave. This must be love on first sight. :-))
And here is our Lao love story:

Friday, 11 December 2015

China - Part 2: Tibet magic - money rules - hot Sichuan - life is great!

2nd part of our itinerary through China (overview)
2nd part of our itinerary through China (detail)
Our apologies again. China was the second country on our trip to give us a real hard time to access internet. Most of the time it was even worse than Iran. We are not allowed to buy a SIM Card, so we have to rely on WiFi in hotels, where we park for the night. Unfortunately these connections are terribly slow and often interrupted, so sometimes Torsten sits for hours in hotel lobbies trying to get a VPN to work to access our mail. Google is blocked totally, so gmail is off too, blogspot they consider off limit too, though Bing works really quick. Apparently Bing reached a very satisfying agreement with the Chinese government… :( And Chinese officials are even more perfidious than the Iranian ones: they don’t only block sites, but they also slow down any traffic. From what we heard, a lot of people get into the internet via VPN and apparently they don’t want to close that gate but make it as slow as possible. It’s a bit like letting people see the candy and let them taste sometimes, but actually they are far away from the real joy. So, we were five weeks almost without internet access and that is why it took some time to post the last four weeks!

Saturday, 14 November 2015

China: Great Country - Great Wall - Great Food - No People!

Our itinerary so far (overview)

Our itinerary so far (detailed view)
We are in China!!!! Jippiiiiehhh!!!
Pauli repeats: Chiiiiinaaaa, Mama, Chiiinaaaa!!!" :-))))

We have made it across the border. On time.
We pass two Kyrgyz checkpoints and four Chinese checks. The night before we park right in front of the Kyrgyz border controls at 3600 m, together with a lot of other trucks. The night gets freezing cold, must be somewhere around minus 15 degrees, our windows have ice coverage inside and the diesel in the cans is frozen next morning.
The Kyrgyz officials say good bye with some last shows of what they do best: exercising corruption big style. In the morning, long before the borders opens, one policeman walks down the row of trucks to collect money from everyone. Not from us though.
Border control is nasty as usual, but goes on pretty quick, at 10.30 h after driving some 10 km through no mans land across the Turgart pass we stand in front of the gate to China. Finally, how exciting, we have made it until China!!!
Just behind Turgart Pass: First impression of China.
Landscape wise little difference to the last 200 km in Kyrgyzstan ;)
Simply Beautiful!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Kyrgyzstan: Police Robbers - Freezing Diesel - Meeting Belgians in Bishkek - Landscapes beyond Words

Itinerary in Kyrgyzstan
 16/10 - 28/10
We are back in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. We have best memories of our visit three years ago. Back then we used the city's as point of departure for the Pamir mountains to see Peak Lenin. Today we want to rest and do some repairs at our Emma; the to-do-list after 15.000 km became quite extensive.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Uzbekistan: Warm people - Beautiful architecture - Rich history - Searching for the Aral Lake

Ittinary Dashoguz-Osh (side trip to North West to Moynak)
29/09 - 16/10
Look 'round thee now in Samarkand,
Is she not queen of earth? her pride
Above all cities? in her hand
Their destinies?
Edgar Allan Poe, 1849
We pass a little river between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, pass more gates, each opened by a soldier, then we see the Uzbek border. And all starts again, controls, filling in a lot of documents. It all goes well, but takes forever and all the sudden we feel very tired. We have done so much driving in the last weeks, road conditions being not very favorable, the stress that we had to make it through Turkmenistan in five days is gone and the desire to rest somewhere is getting stronger.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Antonia Posts again - forgotten text from Persepolis

Hallo Ik schrijf hoe het met de school gaat en ook over een tempel waar
Ik nu ben 22/09/2015/Iran : ik vind het met school wel heel vermoeiend maar het is
Wel heel leuk Maar het is wel heel. Moeilijk om te schrijven want het wiebelt te haart door het rijden Bij de Tempel Zijn er veel figuren en zoroastrismus
Zoroastrismus is een religie die noch voor het Iran bestond
Want Iran noemde het pärsiche Rijk want het was een heel groot land er was ook
Een museum er waren ook stenen in het museum die waren prachtig de stad noemde persepolis......


Saturday, 10 October 2015

Crossing Turkmenistan: A country which seems to be a big accident.

Crossing Turkmenistan

We enter Turkmenistan through a big gate. First thing I do is taking off the head scarf and the long clothes, back in shirt and shorts, great.
Turkmen officials seem nice and welcoming, they will show us soon that this first impression is wrong. A huge picture of the present Turkmen president greets us from a wall and we have a look at the colourful flag, composed by patterns of carpets from the five big families of the country.
We are almost alone, the last western tourists have passed this border 20 days ago, two young men we had already met in Teheran. We get our passports stamped, pay an entrance fee, exchange money and all we need now is the permission for the car to enter the country. That will take us more than four hours, handwritten notes in five different offices, 170 Dollars for five days of car insurance, controls of every single thing we carry with us and at the end I find myself screaming at one of the officials shaking a cigarette out of his hand... And last but not least a couple of days later we will find out that things from our toolbox were stolen during the controls. What a nightmare.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Exploring Iran: Four awesome weeks! Awesome hospitality - Paulis cheeks getting squeezed - diving into Persian history.

Our itinerary through Iran
from 31/08 'til 25/09
First let me apologise. Many of you have tried to contact us asking how we are doing and why we do not update our blog. Well the reasons are pretty straight forward: Iran is restrictive with usage of the internet, so e.g. is blocked and only via workarounds accessible. Further we did not want to post in Iran, since it probably would not have been a good idea to post the text below, while being in Iran; we just dislike self-censorship. And last ut not least, there were just too many things to write down and that took a while...

Sunday, 30 August 2015

7th week: Yerevan, heading south to Iranian border, Wings of Tatev


[Text by Susanne - Pictures & Subtitles by Torsten]
We have one more day in Armenia before we will travel on to Iran. It is a warm night, after a long drive across high mountains, hundreds of hair pin curves we reached the Armenian-Iranian border.

After leaving Lake Sevan we took a lot of time to visit Yerevan, the capital of Armenia (BTW: Armenia is about as big as Belgium or for the Germans: as big as Brandenburg, but counts only 3 Million people).

Saturday, 22 August 2015

6th week: Surrounding South-Ossetia, Hiking in Caucasus Mountains, Tblisi, Crossing border to Armenia, Enjoying Sewan Lake

[Susanne writing ...]
When we left Borjomi National Park heat had us back and we realized how nice and cool it had been up there.
Borjomi: I hit accidentally a switch, which uncharged the starter battery
Luckily we can jump start with our bord batteries.
Borjomi: sign says 3,5m max height at this bridge - we are 3,6m

Friday, 21 August 2015

Antonia Posts from the Sewan Lake in Armenia

Ik ga maar weinig schrijven zo kan ik Deutsch  schrvijven...    
  Ik was een  beetje geleden  bij een stuwdam we hebben   Een kasteel bekeken  in 
Elke kasteel is een kerk en we hebben bijna altijd een kers aangestoken daarna dat we de kerk 
Hebben bekeken zijn we naar een andere kerk gegaan die iets hoger was we zijn er naar boven 
Gestapt daar haden veel mensen het leek op rokjes ik heb mijn papa ook verkleed     


                                           Ik  schrijv nu Deutsch       

Wir waren Bai ainem schtaudam ,  da haben wir eine Burg   Angekukt ,  In Alen Burgen  ist 
Eine Kirche. wir haben fast in jeder Kirche  einekertze angezündet. nach das wir die
Kirche angekuckt haten Zint  wir zu  einer anderen Kirche gefahren. die etwas höher war,
Wir Zint hoch gelauven, da haten viele Menschen  zo ne Art röke an, ich habe mein  Papa 
Auch verklaidet ...... Tjüs !!!!!!!!!!                             

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Antonia post grom Georgia

 Ik schrijf  over de drie laatste  dagen  , maar ook van een beetje langer
Geleden , dus we hebben een pose gedaan want we  waren 4 dagen
Daar. Op de laatste dag was ik  johann en mijn papa op stap en we gingen 
 Naar een kasteel  en de trappen  waren kapot maar we zijn toch naar
Boven het was prachtig  toen we weer naar beneden waren gingen
We noch zwemmen  want er was DIcht bij ons een rivier  mijn mama
Zij dat er slang gevaar is omdat ik bang ben van  slangen  heeft mijn 
Broer mij  bang gemaakt hij heeft  gestopt . dan heb ik hem 
Late schrikken en toen is hij op een stoel gesprongen  dit was toch 
Van lang geleden nu ga ik stoppen daag    
Antonia Sorie ik heb het een beetje verandert. 

Friday, 7 August 2015

5th week: Beautiful Drive Through East Anatolia to Ruins of Ani, Good Bye Black Sea, Hello Georgia, Paulis Birthday

Last Days in Turkey: Black Sea to Ani Ruis and further to Georgia
(look how vegetation changes)

[Torsten starting …] By now we have left Turkey and went to Georgia. Since we have now only occasionally internet connection our blogs will slightly delay (Currently we are already in Tiblisi, where we got internet access)
About a week ago we left the valley of Çamlıhemşin with the direction of the Ruins of Ani the former Armenian Capital some 1000 years ago. This meant at the same time that we also left the coast of the Black Sea, which was not easy for us. Opposite to the rest of Turkey which becomes more developed from the East to the West, the Black Sea Coast appears more better off when travelling from West to the East. We spent two wonderful weeks discovering all the variety of nature, authentic small villages, very nice people, delicious food and so many hours of playing in the water at lonesome beaches. We saw for the first time in our lives hazelnut covered mountains, rice fields, tobacco farmers and how tea is grown and harvested. All of us fell in love with this beautiful region and it was hard to say ‘good bye’.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

4th week: Beach-Hopping@Black-Sea-Coast, Picked up by police, Antonia learned swimming, watching tea harvest, tasting tree-honey

4th week: from Çakraz to Çamlıhemşin
[Susanne writing ...] Our itinerary takes us from Çakraz along the coast. Our travel books talk about an area “with no guarantee for sunshine”, “cloudy” and “rain certain even in the summer”, but none of this seems true, the heat and endless sun keep us sweating and looking for places to swim wherever we can. The beaches are wild, usually no hotels; nor beach-chairs or sun-umbrellas, usually it is just a bay, surrounded by rocks where we jump in the water. Landscape changes rapidly: different rock formations, sand beaches, stony beaches, HIGH waves, calm water – not all of them where made for vacation leaflets, but most of them had something of paradise. Mostly locals and a few tourists from all over Turkey can be found here, but almost no one from abroad. Though the whole list of German license plates from the Ruhrpott can be found on the streets, GE (Gelsenkirchen!), BO (Bochum), DU (Duisburg) etc, you name a city from the Ruhr-area I am sure we have seen it somewhere on the road: Turkish families coming to Turkey in the summer to visit their families, all of whom we meet very friendly and helpful.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

3rd week: Istanbul, Stuck in the Sand@midnight, Safranbolu, Chilling @ Turkish Coast of the Black Sea

Our ıttınary
[Susanne] Slowly slowly we are getting into the travelers modus. It is a kind of metamorphosis, from “I need a shower every day and a new shirt” to “Wow, 3 liters of semi-warm water are enough to make me feel clean!” J
I am writing this right after sunset while listening to a Turkish traditional band playing for a wedding at Çakrazat the Black Sea.
Since our last post we have been travelling from Bulgaria to Turkey. On the Bulgarian side we passed beautiful bay of Sozopol(staying in yacht harbor; Emma was admired just as the million-dollar-boats ;)) and the Natural Park ‘Strandzha’that used to be the former green line of the Ostblock wıth ıts tragıc past and present (check also our Trip-Story No.2: Crossing the Borders of the former Iron Curtain).