Gangtey valley, Bhutan
I open an eye. Twilight outside. Dawn is slowly giving changing the pitch black outside into a grayish. Getting lighter by the minute.
It’s early morning. My eyes are still adjusting after waking up. But the sounds outside reveal, we are at the country side. Forest close by.
I slept very well on the mattress on the floor in a farmhouse in the Phunaka valley. There is already some activity outside. Time to get up…
Breakfast on the “terrace”
Our guide Tenzin is already helping our host to setup the breakfast tables outside. A bit improvised, but what a view over the valley. Clouds slowly lifted while the sun is coming up.
Continue reading Phunaka valley – hiking along a path our guide did not yet know
The city of Thimphu faded away behind us. We set off to explore the countryside of Bhutan.
Roads are always spectacular in this mountainous country. But today leads us above the Dolchua pass. 108 stupas in the front. The horizon dotted with several 7000+ meter high snow-capped mountains.
Arriving at the highest point of the road, we see the stupas. But where are the mountains?
Continue reading Gangtey valley, farmhouses and a special walk to another festival
While many other cultures are steered along the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as an indicator for the development of the country, Bhutan takes a little bit a different approach.
Of course people in Bhutan are also motivated by and keep an eye on their financial situation, but overall many more factors are taken into account. Both on small scale by everybody individually as well as by the government.
First of all you can really see a feeling of belonging together between people on the streets, much more than in our western cultures. There is only a small number of people in the world speaking Zhongka (the local laguage) making conversations between each other a little different and makes them “special”, but its not only that…
Continue reading Happiness – one-word description of peoples attitude in Bhutan
Easter Island, Chile
Time to refresh our Vision 2009 which got it all started about 10 years ago, when we planned our 6 months travel around the world.
Despite other rumors from people we know, there is still no risk of running out of ideas and motivation to travel. You can rather think about a time constraint we faced over the last years, but we have a mitigation idea…
Let us take you along, inspire you and bring the world out there a little closer to your home *smiley cool*
Continue reading Vision 2019+
5:00am! We will definitely beat the crowds visiting the Moai at sunrise!
Unfortunately the sunrise is on the other side of the island, its pitch dark (no street lamps), the road has quite some pot holes, we have a scooter… and it is raining *smiley annoyed* Don’t ask how, but we made it well before any sun light was hitting the horizon and enjoyed a dramatic looking scenery
Continue reading Rapa Nui by scooter – continued
Quilotoa Loop, Ecuador
Better “late than never” there is some nice experience to share with you from Ecuador…despite us already being some days in Peru by now: We took a train ride along Devils Nose.
Historically a master piece of engineering: The Trans-Andean Railway went from Guayaquil (at the coast) up until Quito (in the middle of the mountains) within Ecuador. Along the track in between both cities there are many of the highest peaks outside the Himalaya. These had to worked around or across to make this project a success.
Well, that’s all history by now. Today not much of Ecuadors’ pride remains. Various “El Nino” years with their torrential rains have damaged the tracks severely. And in the decades of streets and lorries to transport goods nobody saw a need for maintenance. All that remains somewhat functional for touristic reasons is a stretch between the cities Riobamba and Sibambe.
Our guidebook referred to this part nevertheless as a highlight to visit, as you pass along the famous Devils Nose. Sure as hell we also wanted to tip toe on the devils’ nose (6)
Riobamba but no train
There were already some discussions around fellow travelers, that the train currently is not operating. Rumors differed widely from “the track is simply in too bad of a condition” to “some tourists died when standing on the roof to take some pictures”. But nobody knew for sure.
Doesn’t scare us. But when reaching Riobambas train station it was confirmed, currently no train. And the substitute “ferrocaril” is sold out for the coming days. We didn’t understand what type of vehicle this replacement would be, they alternately talked about a “train” and a “bus on the tracks” *smiley surprised*
Thanks to insisting and Iris’ charm, working on the sales lady at the ticket office as well, we nevertheless got some tickets for the replacement vehicle from Alausi to Sibambe. Shorter and more expensive than expected, but at least covering somehow the Devils Nose *smiley smiling*
Continue reading Devils Nose – by train through the Andes
Yes, believe it or not – this question occurs even if you talk to fellow travellers around in Ecuador. It’s obviously not the standard destination, even though it is listed as one of the places to see for Ecuador.
Why it is not that touristy as other places? Easy to explain, if you just reference to the appropriate Lonely Planet section about transportation starting “No busses go all around the loop…” and closing with “Don’t worry – everyone’s confused.”
But that simply couldn’t scare us off!
“Base camp” for the start was easily set up in Latacunga. Anything special about it…? No! It is an easy going town on the Panamericana – South Americas blood stream and everything but touristy.
And it was here, that I had one of the most funny conversations with local people so far: Imagine you enter a bakery and wanna buy some bread… For sure your Spanish is bad, but well enough – at least pointing at pieces – to show what you want and the lady in the bakery manages English well enough to make sure how much it costs. The usual question where you are from and your standard answer “Aleman” is followed by a surprised smile from the bakery lady… “Aleman, Frankfurt, train station” – and she obviously has been there before, because she can describe – or better point out with her hands – how the roof of the train station looks like *smiley smiling*
Continue reading Quilotoa Loop – remote country life and an extinct volcano
We are leaving the boat after 5 packed days. So many impressions of the landscape, the wild animals above and below water.
Our heads are still circling around what we had the chance to see on the Galapagos islands. And we might still need a few days more to fully grasp, what made it so special to us. We just arrived on island of Santa Cruz. There is a small village and it does not belong to the National Park area. We stay another 2 nights here, walking to nearby beaches and looking at the local market. The first time on this trip we have the freedom to just while away a day.
Walking to a local coffee place, we pass by the really small fish market of the town. 6 stalls in a small U-shape directly at the waterfront. More or less stone tables, painted in blue. Locals debating about the prices for the catch of the day.
Behind some stalls on the walls sit a few pelicans. They keep a close eye on the scenery. Sometimes even make an attempt to jump over to the fish tables. But get chased away quickly by the local sellers.
While everybody focuses on the Pelicans, it happens…
Continue reading Galapagos – two more nights in nature’s paradise and what to take away
Sometimes it’s hard to put experiences into words. Galapagos put’s up this challenge. And it’s not about finding the “right” words, but to find words at all.
We are no biologists. Otherwise we would have cared more for the details. The differences Darwin discovered between some birds on the various islands. Tiny differences in their wings and bill.
We pay more attention to the broader scale…
How different wild animals react when being well protected. Not running, swimming or flying away. No fear. But rather curiosity. Unfortunately they can’t talk. Or at least we can’t understand them.
From their looks we read questions “What are you?”, “Why are you here?”. And sometimes even commands to “Play with me!”.
I jump into the water for snorkeling. Ice cold, thanks to the Humboldt stream.
Continue reading Galapagos – sea lions, blue-footed boobies, flamingos and much more wildlife up close
We already had a good feeling when sealing our last minute deal to Galapagos. We booked a luxury upper deck cabin on a small high quality boat. A 1st class nature guide is promised too. And the best: All that at a bargain price *smiley cool*
Are you flexible too and can wait a few days? Perfect. Get left-over or cancellation places on cruises. Just shop around some outfits in Quito and ask for cruises leaving the next days.
And it only gets better with every minute we spend on this “detour” from the mainland. Or to be honest, it gets better “most of the time” for Iris…
Continue reading Galapagos – visiting Darwin’s laboratory