Montag, 3. Dezember 2012

Apo Reef

After our nice stay in Manila we tried to get to Mindoro Island. Mindoro Island is divided in two parts, one is called oriental Mindoro, this is the well developed part, and the other half is called occidental Mindoro, this is where we wanted to go. Somehow we figured out, that there is only one bus company which goes directly from manila to our destination. With good spirit we tried to get a taxi to the “Dimple Star” Bus Station but the first three taxis where not interested in bringing us there or they asked for crazy prices. Finally the fourth one did not complain at all and drove us there, all the way with short cuts, and in a very short time. Wow!

We bought our tickets, waited for the bus and when he arrived we put our luggage on our seats. We had one hour for the scheduled departure and decided to wait outside. Not very smart we realized when the bus was just driving away… No worries, they told us, the bus is just driving to another station to collect more people… I can tell you this was a very long hour of waiting and hoping that all our luggage would still be in the bus and complete. And you might wonder but the bus came, full of people, and all our belongings were where we had left them! What a good feeling!  The rest of the journey was easy but long, and finally at midnight we arrived in Sablayan. The passengers and the bus driver discussed together and decided that it’d be better for us to drop of here and go to a hotel instead of going to our original destination because it was already late and the had some doubts, that we will find the apo reef club in the night and so we ended up in Emily hotel.

The next day we took a jeepney and finally in the middle of nowhere the driver stopped and said: “Here is Apo Reef Club, just walk down this road…” And we did and after a few hundred meters we arrived in the wonderful resort and understood why it was better to stay the night before in Sablayan ;-)

We spent the days with dolce fa niente and because we are always ready for an adventure we took the opportunity to stay 5 days in apo island to fill tanks for a coral garden restoration project.

I think now it’s time to let the pictures speak: PICTURES

Mittwoch, 7. November 2012

Slightly delayed in Manila

Wow, time is passing by so fast. We enjoyed Seoul pretty much. The mixture between modern city and ancient temples is very impressive. What else is there to say? Everything is organized and on the latest technical standart. For example if you want to take a bus without a Smartphone you’re kind of lost but if you’ve got a smart phone you know exactly where your desired bus is at the moment (real-time), how long you have to wait and when you’ll arrive at your destination. In any way I can just recommend visiting this place.

But as the weather was getting worse we decided to skip the excursions to the country side of South Korea and took a direct flight to Manila, not forgetting to update you with the latest gangnam style:

We were in a little hurry for the check in because we didn’t have the necessary return flight which is mandatory for the visa. Somehow we booked it online just in time and stressed to the gate. Unfortunately our flight with CEBU had a slight delay of 5 hours, breathtaking that we were running all the way...
Instead of arriving at 01:00a.m. we arrived at 07:30 this morning and we were pretty happy that we (against our normal habits) had already booked our hotel in advance.

The decent check in and the following view compensated the trouble we had:

Montag, 29. Oktober 2012

First impressions

For those of you waiting desperately for the solution of the big question (last post: guess where we are) here it comes: SEOUL
Well, I think most of you already realized because of some suspicious facebook posts…
Anyway I can tell you it's great here. Especially the food:
Nice BBQ on the table

And even though it’s said that Koreans are withdrawn or shy (Check that video), we did not experience as such. They don’t spy you at all but if they occasionally realize that you need some help: (puzzled look in front of a map with only Korean signs on it) they just come over and ask if they can help you.

As you can see we are enjoying it here. But of course I did not forget what I promised you about gangnam style. By the way it’s very popular at the moment as you can see in a recent article in lonely planet. To prove that it's really like this see what we found this weekend:

To come to an end and for those of you who always wanted to know if Koreans are still eating dogs:

Answer 1: NO, they're just pets!

Answer 2: or maybe…

Mittwoch, 24. Oktober 2012

On the „road“ again!

Well actually we are more on the railway at the moment and later on in the airplane. Anyway we had our thoughts about definitions – Backpacking for example: We travel with a backpack, and hence we basically are backpackers. But we also use a 1st class ticket in the Deutsche Bahn. Real backpackers would hitchhike. Of course we don’t stick to the luxury side of life but if we can get more comfort for a few dollars we are most probably willing to take it even if it might shorten our trip a bit. On the other hand if there are no amenities it’s no big deal. Maybe the term ‘individual travelling’ fits better.
Still our backpacks show us off as backpackers. So how about the hitchhiking? In our next destination is no unique sign for it (At home it’s thumb up, in Ethiopia you show a finger per passenger). Also it’s said that people don’t do it at all. But because criminality is very low it’s no risk to give it a try. Sounds interesting, no? And now the big question: which country are we going to visit? Maybe I can give you a little hint:  we hope that we can tell you everything you ever wanted to know about “gangnam style” very soon…

Samstag, 14. April 2012

Turkana Tour - Trip to the cradle of mankind

To do something different we joined a group of experienced Kenya travelers. One big advantage of this trip was that we got to places we would not have reached by public transport. Another one was that we didn’t have to care about our accommodation and luggage for two weeks. This might sound funny to you but the north of Kenya has not that much decent accommodation to offer and if you share a matatu with 20 people then two big back packs really do a difference. Anyway for the last two weeks this was history.
The group arrived the first of April on Lake Baringo and we celebrated the evening with a sundowner drink, a ceremony we would stick on for the next two weeks. I think I don’t have to explain that Anna and I liked this.
On the next day we travelled from Lake Baringo to Maralal, the place we where one week before and which we did not like at all. This time it was different. We went directly to a very nice Lodge where we saw zebras and some antelopes, we got nice food and cool drinks. The difference could not have been bigger!
Day three - we drove up to South Horr, a small and very nice town within nothing and there is not much to say except we bought some sweets and therefore the local kids where singing for us.
Day for to six, our “Hinterteile” where still painless because of the very nice “Overlander” (Truck redesigned to a bus), we drove up to Loyiangalani. We stayed in the Oasis Lodge and enjoyed the pool. We visited a museum and the el Molo, a Tribe which had only 300 people left some years ago! Nowadays they mix with other tribes and they grow but still they live like they ever did. Unfortunately they wanted an outrageous price to show us their village and we refused to pay that much. Of course they know that they are somehow a “rare species” and they think the “tourists” will pay every price. This time not! And I think the spokesman of the village later on really got big trouble not to accept our price because the kid’s and some women’s followed us to the nearby beach where we stopped to swim and where some of our group bought souvenirs and of course we told them we would have bought so much more if we had come to the village ;-)
Day seven to nine we drove up to east turkana national park, the root of our species! This is the place where they found all the petrified skeletons of all the different homo types and therefore they could conclude the human origin. To give you an idea how remote this area is: There is no Mobile Network, no electricity, it’s dry, windy, full of stones and driving 40 kilometers takes you 2.5 hours. Some (many many) years ago this place must have been a very nice forest with a decent shore, a lot of wildlife and the first homo sapiens sapiens walking around. WOW!
Day ten we drove east to North Horr, laying at the north end of the very quick growing chalbi desert.  It’s a town with 15’000 habitants, the people wear the same clothes as we do, they have Nike shoes and you would not imagine that they have no electricity, no public transport to any other town and water only comes from some drilling holes…
Day eleven we drove to Marsabit, our first stop three weeks ago when we drove down from Moyale (Ethiopian Border). This time it was raining and the whole city was just a mud hole.
Day twelve we drove down to archers post. Last time it took us about 5 hours, this time we had 11 hours because first our truck got stuck in the mud. After pulling it out with a trucker we continued our way but could not pass the road where two other trucks just stuck one beside the other. We also tried to help to get them out but it did not help, they stuck. The only thing we could do was waiting until the muds dried a little bit and try it again. This time it worked out and all the vehicles waiting in both directions also could continue their journey. Late evening we arrived at our very very very nice lodge!
Day thirteen we went for a game drive (Safari) in the nearby Samburu National park and we could not stop taking pictures! Orix, Elephant’s, Lions and even a Leopard! This was a real exceptional game drive and we where more than lucky to see so much game (animals)!
Day fourteen was our last day and we drove (for the others back to, for us towards) Nairobi. The environment got greener every minute, the buildings bigger and bigger and we finally arrived. It was like entering a new world!

Samstag, 31. März 2012

Sleepless because of loud neighbors

Anna and I traveled north to lake Baringo. We now have our “tricks” to avoid the hassle around the bus stations. Normally we walked to bus “terminals” and of course there are always some nasty fellows waiting for you, wanting to carry your luggage and bringing you to the emptiest bus (I think I mentioned it prior that the bus only starts when it’s full and that it’s always a hassle getting the right one…) and finally charging you two to three times more than normal price. Well, that’s history! By now we order a taxi or tuktuk and let our driver ask where the right bus is. With this strategy we just stop in front of the right bus. Instead of just paying directly we now ask the other passengers how much they paid and we tell them that we normally get ripped off (true). Like this we have - within short time - half of the passengers taking care that we get charged the right price, without extra charge for luggage, that we get dropped off where we want and that no one is bothering us in any other way! Now travelling is really relaxing!
Another thing we really enjoy is that Kenya has supermarkets with everything! Well at least everything we need. And almost everyone is speaking English so you can get information from everyone. Except the roads almost everything is quite more developed here, therefore you also pay more for most things but that’s ok.
Ok, now back to the loud neighbors, it’s not only that they are loud, they also stink! After the first sleepless night we decided that it’s enough and we stepped out our tent to tell them what… – and we saw this and silently moved back in our tent, trying not to make any noise:

Montag, 26. März 2012

@ Hell's Gate

No worries, everything is fine, Hell’s Gate is just the name of a national park. But first things first: After our demanding trip to Nakuru we just enjoyed staying in the Graceland hotel without doing anything. We had our laundry done (snobby, isn’t it?), enjoyed the shower and even more that they had cold beverages! And our good luck was not over yet! We met two Dutch people, brother and sister (what’s the English word for “Geschwister”?), and they were full of energy and ready to head to the town. We joined them and spent a very nice evening in town. The next day the four of us went to the nearby crater. We walked up the hill, did some extra D-tours through a burned forest (At the moment Kenya suffers from the dry weather and there are a lot of fires in all the forests). The view was great, the people very nice and to top it all we got a free ride back to town in the back of a police pickup (Imagine the police doing this back home ;-) ) ! Back in town we went to Nakuru National Park. Even at the gate we could spot some buffalos, hippos, zebras and of course baboons. Unfortunately the entry is 80$ pp and the obligatory car additional 50$ - 200$ so we decided to go back to our hotel. The next day the Dutchs where leaving and we did what we like very much: nothing!  After recovering our batteries we were ready to head to Hells’s gate national park. We took public transport, got charged 400 Shilling per person, had big arguments, were waiting for 1 hour, got 300 Schilling back because the official price is 150 and finally started towards Niavasha. Changing the bus to the entrance of the park was easy. We could easily rent two bikes and a guide and then we entered the park. It was really great to cruise right next to zebras, buffalos and all the different kinds of “antelopes”, which names I already forgot. Also the walk through the gorge was very nice! There was only little water but if there is rain the gorge seems to be full and because the material is very soft the gorge gets 30 cm’s deeper every year! We can really recommend this park, the entrance is “only” 20$ and it’s the only park in Kenya where you can go without a car, so you are very quiet and can get very close to all the animals.