Downhill from here – The Himalayas

Arriving in Kathmandu from Bangkok it was the first time I had a negative first impression from a country on this trip.

Disastrous weather, annoying people, no roads, no electricity, incredibly polluted and insanely chaotic. Kathmandu was (and still is) the worst shit-hole I have seen so far. From my point of view this place should be burned to the ground and rebuilt! The good thing about the situation was that no matter what it really only could get better! Way to eager to get out of there I was talked into an overpriced hike with a not so great trekking agency. The first attempt to go on the Annapurna Circuit failed miserably after just 5 days, 4 of which were ruined by torrential rain so I didnt actually get to see a single mountain but was soaking wet to my underwear all the time. Gigantic waterfalls, river crossings and landslides were thrown my way to make my life harder for a while. I hated it! I actually hated it so much that as soon as we got back from the trekking I booked my flights out. I left enough time to spend a few days in Pokhara and be able to try and get to Everest Base Camp. Pokhara was a better place then KTM (not hard) but of course the 2nd trek went out the window as well. The plane I was supposed to take on the 29th crashed on the 28th killing everyone on board. To freaked out about getting on any of these planes at that time I decided to cancel that hike as well loosing even more money as the airline didnt want to refund the ticket price. Frustrated and seriously pissed off with the whole situation I decided to sit this one out and scrap Nepal off the list, never to return!

But then my luck changed! Stuck in the Hostel for a few days waiting for my flight to go I got to talk to two people there who recommended a better travel agency then the one I hectically picked. After talking to them and remembering the one good day I had when I went to Pokhara I decided to change my flight and give this one last shot! I was joined by Sam and together we went to do the Langtang track. This time everything went the way it was supposed to. We had a great guide, incredible weather, amazing scenery, got to meet the locals and encountered some Yaks! We forget about the bus ride back to KTM (first of all it was back to KTM, I really do hate that place, and secondly I was ready to smash that speaker on the bus blarring the worst indian music ever written at an insane volume for 8h!) High on that feeling I booked the next hike with the same agency and guide. Poon “Hill” (3,200m) and Annapurna Base Camp. I gave myself 8 days to do these 2 hikes, and boy was I wrong! It turned into the physically most demanding challenge I had decided to undertake! Steep up- and downhill parts for 7-10h on the first 3 days up and down Poon Hill had me in bits before we even reached the actual Base Camp track on which at day 4 I collapsed right before we reached a village called Himalaya. In case you are thinking of doing some of these tracks around here prepare for steep steps on the side of the highest mountains in the world. At some stage I remembered how I complained to my dad when I was a little boy and had to go to the basement to get a case of water. Now we went up stairs equalling crossing the highest mountain in Germany. However if you do come over and do these hikes they will be worth the effort! As soon as the mountains showed themselves for the first time in Langtang almost every hardship before that was forgotten. When we reached Poon Hill for the sunrise over the Annapurna mountains I could hardly have felt any better. But by far the best day was getting to Annapurna Base Camp! As the entrance to the valley overlaps it is not possible to see where you came from once you are in it. That means that as soon as you reach the Base Camp there will be snow-capped mountains all the way around you, completely closing you in. When the first sun-rays hit the highest peaks I just stood there in awe! It was such an overwhelming sight and feeling that only when I walked back into the Guesthouse for breakfast I realised that I actually couldnt feel my toes anymore. Everything was forgotten at that stage, I was truly in love with the place in those moments! The descent was pretty easy and there is some amazing hot springs on the way down. Exactly what my body was looking for after 8 days of hiking. Back in Pokhara I decided to try and go Paragliding, but unfortunately right before we wanted to leave the weather turned so there was no way of going. However that didnt matter anymore as the high from standing at A.B.C., boxed in by mountains well over 7000m high, still was still very present.

Here are the pictures. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

http://s1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff462/Markus-Edin/Nepal/

Cheers

Markus

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3 Month South East Asia

High-Speed Backpacking – 3 month, 4 countries (Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand)

After a strange weekend in Bangkok it was time to pick up the pace and head further east. First country on the list: Cambodia. Crossing the border from Thailand was a piece of cake compared to some other boundaries that needed crossing in the last 22 month. The main reason for me to head into Cambodia was to visit Angkor Wat, aka “The Pyramids of Asia”. Spending 3 days at these impressive temples we discovered them on foot, by tuk-tuk and bike. Well worth having a look and definitely up there with Macchu Picchu and Tikal. Under the impression I had the correct visa for Vietnam I hopped on the bus straight to the border. Unfortunately, there is 2 different visas for Vietnam, an airport and an overland one. Needless to say that I had an airport one and came by bus. Rejected by the 4th country on this trip. Back to Phnom Penh for a couple of nights to sort things out. With a few days to spend I decided to visit the Killing Fields, not knowing what exactly was in store for me. Answer: Humanity at its worst! After listening to the comments I literally felt sick to my stomach due to the things that has been done to these people. What made matters worse was some tourists laughing and getting excited about being able to go onto a shooting range and fire guns right beside the killing fields…dumb people will never extinct by the looks of it! However the people of Cambodia are the most gentle, warm and welcoming individuals I had the pleasure to meet. Even more impressive due to the fact that everyone who is now in their 40s and 50s has experienced this incredibly cruel genocide by their own government. I wish I would have had more time to travel this country in a bit more depth.

But as my visa arrived it was time to move on to Vietnam. Siagon, or Ho Chi Minh, was my first stop there but as Im not a fan of big cities I only stayed there for a couple of days. After doing a cruise on the River dividing the city and enjoying a 7(!) course meal at sunset it was quickly time to move on to Hoi An right in the middle between Saigon and Hanoi. Getting there right on time for the full moon festival we had a truly amazing time there. The full moon festivals in Vietnam have nothing to do with the ones in Thailand. In Hoi An it means that the lights in the city centre will be turned off and only lanterns illuminate the streets. On top of that candles will float down the river in sea roses or just leaves. And if all this wouldnt be cool enough already there is lots of music, little street games and of course and endless amount of food. Food! This seems to be the only reason for the people here to get up in the morning. Booking a food tour which lasted almost 6h and included 40 different kinds of food, starting from visiting the market in the morning to see where the restaurants buy their ingredience it leads you through the different types of vietnamese restaurants, from street food over little food stalls and middle class restaurants to the upper class places I usually only examine from the outside.

Filled up on food and a bit of knowledge about the local food it was time to hit the road, or in this case the rails, again and make my way up north to Hanoi. Only 2 nights there (big city) I was lead to Ha Long Bay, one of the new natural wonders of the world. An all inclusive 2 day cruise introduced a bit of luxury to my travelers-life which I didnt know before. Check out the pics for more. This place ended my way east and its now time to slowly but steady head back into a european direction.

But now…Myanmar. The borders for individual tourists only opened 4-5 month before I got on the plane. Yangon has the only international Airport so this is the easiest way to enter the country. From there you can start your trip to the big 4. Yangon, Bagan, Mandalay and Inle Lake. If you are in the mood you can include a 2-3 day hike through the Jungle in Hsipaw. I couldnt get the motivation together but just being in these places was interesting enough. On the way back a stop in Inle lake is recommended as its a really nice place to go. We rented a bike there rode half way around the lake, took a boat across had lunch in a tiny restaurant and rode back to the village. All in all a great day out.

Back to Yangon on the bus over the only quality road in the whole of Myanmar. Some of the landscapes there reminded me of the area Im from in Germany, 6 month to go ;)

Next and last country on the list in south east Asia was Thailand. After collecting my sis for her 3 week vacation we hung around Bangkok for a few days doing a night bike tour which is definitely recommended! Abandoned temples, markets, loads of amazing food, a quick boat ride and all combined with a bit of exercise. Cant ask for much more.

Oh, actually you can! Chiang Mai! Largest town in the north of Thailand. Quickly grabbing a cheap flight and off to 7 days of relaxation. A great night market, friendly people, elephant riding, thai massage places, yoga classes and I dont have to mention the food. A quick trip up to Pai in the mountains with renting scooters and racing around the area with amazing hot springs and some less amazing waterfalls a nice canyon and more amazing food. Back to Chiang Mai after that for a couple of nights and then taking the train to Bangkok…Do yourself a favor and fly! Nothing to see out the window, ages long and not even that comfortable or that much cheaper than a flight would have been.

A few more days in Bangkok taking part in the food tour there. After the one in Hoi An this one was a bit underwhelming. My sister then flew back to Germany and I was looking forward to the roof of the world, Nepal. See how that turned out…….

http://s1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff462/Markus-Edin/South%20East%20Asia/

Cheers,

Markus

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Intense

You arrive in Singapore at 3am. 85% humidity! “I need more water and less clothes!” you think. Into the bathroom to get changed. The toilet: a hole in the ground…”Oh, yeah…I forgot: Asia.” Looking around to find a place to safely put your backpack. Less clothes. “Ah, thats better.” Into the subway trying to find the hostel. There it is! Pass out on the couch for a few hours. Getting up, checking in, getting out. What now? Wandering around proofs tiring, 32 degrees, 80% humidity. A shopping mall…Air con! You stumble in. Relief. Busy in here. 12.30am, lunch time, FOOD COURT! An hour and 3 plates later you emerge from the other end, happy as a clam! But it soon dawns on you: “There is things left uneaten, I need to do this again!”. Stepping out and being hit by the humidity again. Off to the city centre. Around the corner, the SkyPark comes into view. It looks amazing. Wandering around for 2h. Back to the hostel. Day 1 done!

Off to get to the SkyPark. Looked cooler from down below. Didn’t need to do that. Food court, eating what you couldn’t get in the day before. Movie, so cheap and sweet popcorn. You didn’t know how much you actually missed it. Back to the hostel. Hanging out, chatting to people. As you talk about Australia you remember Kim from the caves. She told you about the Movie Park. Ticket purchased for the next day. Heading straight for the Transformers Ride. INSANE! Over the course of the day you go 12 times. Right beside it, Battle Star Galactica roller coaster. You lost count but when you stagger out dizzy you think “this is enough!” On the way out you discover the Monster Musical, the show is about to start. In! Strong performance. Maybe thats something you would enjoy after you’re done moving from place to place. Directly across, the special effects show. Cant hurt! You watch the stage, which is set up like a boat shack, being torn to pieces right in front of you by a Class 5 Hurricane within 5 minutes. Burning water, little dinghy’s being tossed around and a container ship comes through the door. 3 Minutes later it looks like nothing ever happened. Good to see the technics behind the movies. Back home, the bus leaves early tomorrow.

Off to Melacca, Malaysia. Country number 15 on this trip. You arrive in the town. People everywhere! You lost track of time. Its Friday night, the weekend has begun. Night market on the main road. Where is my hostel? You wrote down directions, in vain! The streets have no names. You squeeze through the narrow lanes. Colourful, smelly, vibrant, no space, useless crap, funny things, odd food, tiny people, flashing lights, endless shops and stalls, music, joss-sticks, stray cats, bars, a gigantic karaoke stage with an elderly person squeeking something and an even older man dancing right by her side. You get distracted. The hostel, where is it? You jump into a rickshaw and tell the guy where you want to go. Its easy to tell, he doesn’t know either. He starts running off. 2 minutes later you spot the hostel! MADE IT! Over the weekend you go to the market every day. Try this, eat that. But you stay away from the deep fried chicken feet and duck tongue. Maybe some other time. On your last day you join some guys from the hostel for a traditional tea ceremony in one of the chinese temples. After the the craziness of the night market it is a nice way to end your stay here.

Kuala Lumpur. Masterly finding the hostel. Passing out, sleeping in. No plans. What now? A movie. You come out, its dark. Rush hour! The Monorail whizzes above you, lights everywhere, cars, trucks, mopeds, people…After taking it in for a moment you decide to join the constant stream of bodies. Amongst all those people you notice a guy taking his monkey for a walk. Your gaze stays with him for second. A scooter honks at you! You accidentally stepped onto the main street! He apologises while racing past you. Back onto the side off the road. You turn around the corner and the empty street your hostel is on turned into a buzzing night market. A truck behind you covers you in diesel fumes. Move! You get out of the haze and battle your way through the people. The smells and colours of the food let you realise you havent eaten today. In you go. “That looks nice.” you say to yourself and order a plate. You dont know what exactly it is but eat it anyway. Tasty! You made it through the market back to the hostel…Peace and quiet. Wrong! Asian travel group. Approx. 15 people at the reception, 4 of them yelling at the poor soul behind the counter. Into the room, quiet! And this is a weekday!!!

Next day. You prepared. Batu Caves just outside KL. You are amazed! Little hindu temples inside the cave, monkeys roaming free within them. After that back to the hostel. Next day, new city.

Taman Negara, the worlds oldest jungle. You are catching a shuttle bus, front seat. He needs to stop for fuel. Hard breaks. The next thing you see is two girls flying across the road. They dont move at first! Within seconds the village is gathered around lifting the moped. One girl is getting up. A few moments later the 2nd one is sitting in the bus…off to the hospital. It’s closed. The little one gets moved into another car, they drive off. We carry on. No details exchanged, no questions asked. Only the blood on the drivers shirt reminds us of what just happened.

Arriving in Taman Negara you check into the hostel. 99% humidity! You are sweating like a pig just sitting there. “This is going to be a short stay!” you decide and wander off into the jungle. On the way you meet a guy from Austria and have a quick chat with him. A few hours later, back at the hostel. Down by the river there is floating restaurants. You watch the children play and serve the guests. You don’t know what to make of this. One of the little ones brings you your food and you hand him a lollipop. Reluctantly he takes it but then runs off screaming and shows it to the others. The food is good, although you are again not sure what it is really. Some sort of chicken. On the next day you catch the boat out of the jungle. Incredible!!! Floating houses, people fishing or just walking through the rivers, wild animals roaming between the trees. Every now and then you see a few people at the river banks, living in the middle of the jungle. “HOW?” you wonder, but the driver doesn’t speak english. A 2h ride and you arrive in Jerantut and decide to stay the night. You are starving. Tired of trying all these different foods you want something you know. KFC. Before you realise it the Austrian is standing in front of you and starts talking. He wanders off to his table, he is not alone. A woman is traveling with him. “The girlfriend” you reckon and pay not further attention. In the morning you catch the shuttle bus to Tanah Rata. On the bus, the Austrian and his partner. “It looks like we are meant to travel together” he says laughing and they take the seats next to you. You get a closer look at the girlfr….hang on! Oh no! Its not a girl as such. Its one of Thailands infamous Ladyboys! Well done, you now have a perv and his toy following you around. “Austrians,” you think, “they always make us Germans look bad!”. This makes you smile. Not for long though as the driver doesn’t seem to be to attached to his life. You want to slap him and drive yourself. After getting to your destination you are trying to think about a way to loose this odd couple as quickly as you can. Not that easy if you are a foot taller then most people around you with a big orange backpack and a bright yellow T-Shirt. You must look like a lighthouse in this sea of people. On top of that the village is tiny. “Do you know where you are staying?” the perv wants to know. “Can I use this somehow to get rid of them?” you ask yourself inside your head. Hmm…Either way they are going to follow you. You tell them where you are staying and of course they decide to have a look as well. As you walk through the village people are staring at you. You are used to this, but this time it feels different. This is weird. You get to the hostel, its overbooked. They will put you on a mattress in the common room. The Austrian is not happy about that as he was looking for a single room. Some “quality” time with the “girlfriend”…Anyhow they decide to go some place else. Thank god! You are still not happy about having to sleep on the ground but there is a festival in town so all the other hotels are booked up. Three more people turn up and are put on the mattress beside yours. The strange duo comes back and wants to check in as they couldn’t get a room. “The hostel is full” says the girl behind the counter. Pheww! The next day you pick a tour and check out what there is to see around the Cameron Highlands. The only 2 things that stick out are the tea plantation and the strawberry farm! Fresh, sweet, juicy strawberries in all sorts of forms and recipes! You love it there! Back at the hostel you need to take a shower…You realise its a combined shower/toilet and the shower head is right above the hole in the ground. Watch your step! Bus to Penang…The Austrian. “Don’t see me, Don’t see me, Don’t see me!” Damn it!!! You are to tall. But you are optimistic, Penang is a big city, you WILL loose them there! After you arrive you vanish into the crowds of people and hope to never see them again. Exploring the surroundings of Penang a bit you end up in the biggest buddhist temple in South East Asia. Awe inspiring!!! Colours, fragrances, monks, statues, little gardens, pagodas, music, joss-sticks, carved doors, amazingly decorated walls, pictures on the ceiling, candles, shrines…”We are closing, Sir. I am afraid you leave now!” How long have you been here? Not sure.

“This is not even that crazy” some people coming from Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam are telling you!

“Lets go!” you think.

=)

http://s1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff462/Markus-Edin/Malaysia%20Singapore/

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Lazy, poor and out of luck…

…but I still enjoyed it!

After returning to Melbourne and making use of Annas couch again all I did in those 3 days was heading into town once to visit the Shrine Of Rememberance and trying to sort out a flight to Perth. As it transpired the car of the guy I was catching a lift to Perth with broke down and it would take to long to fix it. So I had to book a flight short term to make it over there in time to get to see at least a bit of Western Australia. After securing a cheap flight I proudly announced the fact that I, ME! have found something cheap in Australia!

“Oh you are flying with Tiger.” “Yes. They were the cheapest. Why?” I was prepared for an answer in relation to the service as they were the cheapest airline around. But the actual reply was: “They have been grounded for a while…Safety issues. Wheels flying off and that sort of thing.” Although hoping she is exaggerating this still made me a wee bit nervous as my flight to Singapore was also with Tiger. Should I cancel the flight? “No!” I said to myself although not entirely sure on what to base my optimism. After doing a bit of research it turned out to be a training issue for the pilots but everything seemed to be in the clear for a while now.

While boarding the plane I had a quick look into the cockpit to see what the lad is up to. Not that I know anything about planes or have some information about how to fly them but it looked like the guy is in charge of the situation. No frantic reading of the manual or shrugging shoulders, all wheels seemed to be in the right spot and the wings were properly attached. We might make it to Perth in one piece! I was mildly confident. But to do these guys some justice….The start and the landing was smooth and we even got a cookie and a drink during the flight (Are you reading this RyanAir?)

After checking into the Hostel in Perth the European championship was about to kick off. Germany against Portugal and the owner of the Hostel was, you’ve guessed it, portuguese! So he invited all his friends over to watch the game together. After beating them I quietly retreated into my chambers. Thanks to findings of precious metals and that sort of thing and also due to the isolation, Perth is amongst the Top10 of the worlds most expensive cities. This lead me to Albany, further south. The weather wasnt on my side so the first few days I spent in the nicest Hostel yet. After the storm passed I went whale watching and walking around town. All in all worth having a look. And after a few days I made friends with a nice Aussie girl that offered me a couch in pricey Perth (Thanks Shannon!). But before heading back to make use of it I decided to go to Margaret River for a few days. Voted “Western Australias Top Tourist Town” the place itself failed to bring forth conclusive evidence where exactly that title came from. Anyhow after meeting funny little Kim we decided to rent a car and see what the region around MR has to offer. After being picked up by the car rental company and a very open conversation with our driver (I live here for 7 years. Came down because of my girlfriend. We are not together anymore…No love left there) Caves was the answer and also the point where the indian and the australian oceans meet. Three caves are within 60km of Margaret River. Mamouth, Lake and Jewels cave. My personal favorite was Lake cave because, as the name suggests, there is a lake in it. However Jewels cave waits with a special treat for the visitor…The worlds 3rd longest straw! Yes, the 3rd longest! A straw will eventually turn into a stalactite in a flowstone cave. This basically is uninteresting and I just thought the fact that they put this in the ads says a lot. “We need to find something that makes it more attractive for the visitor! C’mon guys anything!!!” Anyway, the cave itself was actually quite cool due to its size.

On the day after I caught the bus back to Perth for my last weekend in Australia. A quick visit at the Zoo with Cave-Kim watching a bunch of strange animals, first of all a weird nocturnal jumping mouse which just went around in circles followed by the odd looking wombat which was surprisingly feisty. After that back on the couch for 3 days of the Shannon and El show ( ;) ). Im not going into much details here, but that weekend was fun and entertaining! My door will always be open for yous twos! It has been my pleasure!

My flight to Singapore with Tiger brought back bad memories when the Pilot cracked a little joke saying “we shall see if we can get you to Singapore in one piece.” Not amused I was. But landing in Singapore was like sinking into a cushion. Stepping out of the airplane however was like entering a sauna.

Asia, it has begun!

http://s1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff462/Markus-Edin/Western%20Australia/

Cheers,

Markus

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Australia – Pt 1

Red earth, Blue mountains and jumping rats

After arriving in Sydney the first task that presented itself was “Getting used to the prices”. This took a week! Thanks to the financial crisis in Europe the Aussie Dollar gained a lot of value, turning the exchange rate into my biggest enemy! Budgeting was the answer to that. That also meant going back from eating out to “Backpackers cuisine”. Pasta and rice will be my constant companion from here on out. Anyhow, we are not in Australia for the lovely food now, are we! That will wait for us in Asia.

So after exploring the city a bit, doing some of the touristy things and catching up with an old friend (Hey Astrid!) the Blue Mountains sounded interesting. The tour I booked was with a local guide who seemed to be in a great mood and was really funny to listen to (strange accent!). Also on the the tour was Chris from Denmark. He is a Journalist back home and, as he gave bit of history leading up to every question he asked, talking to him felt like watching the news. “Why should I care?” you ask…Well, it was Chris’ birthday which encouraged our guide to put a few extras into our tour. First we went along the grand canyon walkway instead of the typical touristy spots. And secondly Jimmy brought us to his “Happy Place” where we enjoyed a few local beers. The spot doesnt have a name really and can only be reached over a dirt road off the main street. After taking in the amazing views, and the tip that the locals hid a mattress behind the rock (I wonder what for? ;) ), we headed back into Sydney. A weekend and a few beers later my journey led me to Yulara, close to Ayers Rock (Uluru) and The Olgas (Kata Tjuta) . So, a piece of advise here. The flights are incredibly expensive and the place itself is not an awful lot cheaper. But in case you get here it is absolutely worth a visit. I think it is save to say that I have seen quite a bit over the last 16 – 17 month but Ayers Rock does stand out still. It blew me away! Also due to the fact that the region received an unusual amount of rain over the last 8-10 month which transformed this barren wasteland into an even stranger place. The red earth, dark blue skies and bright green trees made it hard to believe that we are still on planet Earth! Nothing reminded of anything I have seen before! The sunset is not to be missed when visiting as “The Rock” does change every 2-3 minutes. Kata Tjuta (about 50km away from Ayers Rock) should be on the list of places to visit. Just bring a few days when visiting as your mind need some time to realise what he’s seeing. At both spots you can do 2-3h hikes and I can highly recommend it. Unfortunately I didnt make it to Kings Canyon, but from what I have heard it is a truly amazing spot too.

Anyhow, after this experience I ended up in Melbourne. Hanging out in a Hostel for a night I was on my to meet up with a friend I made in NZ and crash at her place for a few days. Just at that moment when I got off at the train station I get a phone call from a guy who saw my ad on Gumtree.com.au (really helpful site for all sorts of things) looking for a lift from Melbourne to Perth. From what I understood on the phone he wanted to meet up to see how we get along and then head off. So canceling on my friend I headed straight back into town to meet the lad and the other girl who would join us. In the course of the conversation “new shit has come to light” (Movie: The Big Lebowski, in case you dont know it). He didnt want to leave that day but in 2 weeks. Thankfully I was traveling by myself and changing plans in an instant is something I’m quite familiar with by now. The rest of the meeting went well and we agreed to meet again a couple of weeks later to head over to Perth.

However I didnt have a roof over my head as the impression I had was that we would leave town straight away. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Anna for being so flexible and understanding. We met in NZ In September and got along quite well for the 20minutes we spoke. Meeting up with her now I learned that she picked up a job to teach people painting as she is an artist herself. Hang on am I missing something here?!? Oh yes…shes teaching in a maximum security prison!!!

I just gave her a call explaining that I would now be in the need of a place to crash again. Without a moments pause she invited me over again and I was sorted for the next few days.

As great as Melbourne is I felt the urge to have a look around the area. Lakes Entrance was the choice and a nice little town for a few days to hang out and have a look. Arriving at the hostel the owner asked me if I would have any plans for my stay. “No.” was my typical answer as planning is…you know the rest. So he offered me a lift to the Bachan caves as another guest had booked it for the next day. Off to the caves. The caves where pretty cool and surely worth having a look at when here. As there are 2 caves in Bachan both tours would take around 3h. However that “other guest” turned out to be a pain in the arse! It transpired that she had the impression that I would be her personal servant.

“We are not going to do that” she announced and instructed the driver to be back in an hour. Fortunately I made some friends in the cave who gave me a lift back to Lakes Entrance so I got to see both caves. Back at the Hostel I wandered into the communal area where “She” waited and TOLD me to fix the TV as she wanted to watch some. When I started to prepare my dinner first she just stood there looking at me…She then left the room and we fixed up the TV a bit later. Returning and realising that the TV is now working again it was made quite clear to us that she would now like to watch a cooking show. After laughing at her we turned on some sports and waited to see what happens…Visibly annoyed she left, never to be seen again. Some people shouldnt travel I reckon. However the other guy in the Hostel was working as a fisherman in Southern Australia and had a quite funny story. When they were out on the sea but not fishing they would jump in the water when Sharks are around and tease them. In case they would spot a Great White they would leave the water. “Its not TOO save then” he said…Strange people around these latitudes. We shall see who else me meet around here.

Anything else??? Hmmm…Ah yes, Pictures!!!

http://s1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff462/Markus-Edin/Australia%20-%20Pt%201/

Cheers,

Markus

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New Zealand – Hiking Hiking Hiking!

New Zealand – Hiking, hiking and even more hiking

After finishing up at work the end of March I made my way up from the Fiordland National park to Auckland.
After discovering hiking as as new passion 3 bigger trips have been put on the to do list. Greenstone, Routeburn and Heaphy tracks to be exact. What can I say, all three are worth doing. So when you make your way down here pack you hiking boots and get amongst it! From alpine terrain along beaches into rainforests…all can be done withing 3 weeks.
The hut system in N.Z. is genius and you can get a decent meal and a good nights sleep before heading out into the incredible countryside. However do make sure that you plan your trip properly as you might end up sleeping on the floor due to the fact that you picked a date when 2 families ( 10 and 13 people) turn up in a hut equipped for just 20. the first night after almost 30km of hiking along the Greenstone valley turned out to be a rough one. However the Greenstone track can easily combined with the Routeburn by staying in the Glenorchy lodge located right at the end of Lake Wakatipu. It certainly made up for the not so relaxing night in the hut before. Heading onto the Routeburn track which is still amongst my favorites! Its just is to beautiful! Check out the pics! My special thanks I would like to give to Fleur, Siobhan and Alison who made it so much easier to walk that far which I learned on the Heaphy Track, as I set out to do this one on my own. The first 2 days I enjoyed walking by myself the Beaches on the Heaphy track which is again completely different from the first two hikes. However on day 3 I ran into Hiromi and Paul who fortunately went the same direction, which is from west to east. This information doesnt sound terribly interesting but according to the Department of Conservation only about 10% of hikers go that way. So if you are looking for a bit of quiet time this would be the way to go. Ending the last hike on my 30th birthday (Happy Birthday To Me!) I made my way over to Picton to catch the Ferry to Wellington.
And there it happened…a “disaster” of a day. Get ready, its one of those stories again: Having rented a car to drive around the north Island I went from the ferry terminal straight to the airport to collect my car. As I booked the car through an agency I wasnt entirely sure what company it actually was. So wandering form car rental to car rental to find the one with my reservation I learned that none of the ones at the airport has got one. The last guy however advised me that there is car rentals that collect you from the airport and have an office in town…So, finding the phone number proofed difficult but eventually I managed to get it. I pulled out my mobile phone but before I finished dialing the number the battery died…Wandering around trying to find a free phone as my last change went for the bus. Again a while later I found it…Put in the number SO CLOSE TO SUCCESS: “The number you have dialed is not in service”. Back to the internet to double check the number finding out that the number on the webpage is incorrect. What now? Cruising over the webpage for a while I found the link to the reservation details. There I found the actual car rental and a number. Free phone…SUCCESS!!! This time I’ll get my car! Or maybe not…No answer… Waiting for 15 minutes…no answer…another 10…SUCCESS! Someone on the phone. Wrong again as I called in Auckland and she doesnt have the reservation but she can transfer me! THIS TIME… no answer, this time from their office in Wellington…2nd try a bit later this time someone picked up the phone. I already saw myself sitting in the car discovering the North when he told me that the car is booked in 2 days!
Silence on my end!
Anyhow, at least now I knew and FINALLY luck was on my side! Back into the bus to the city centre trying to figure out where to stay as the plan was to collect the car and get going straight away. So I sit there reading the little booklet with all the hostels in it when the guy sitting next to me asks where I would be from and where I just came from. After telling him the little story with the rental car he tells me he JUST came back from a 3 week Hiking Trip in Nepal! He was happy to tell me all about it and giving me some contacts in Katmandu. That made me smile and put me back in a good mood! =)
After 2 not to eventful days in Wellington I hit the road with a few guys I picked up at the Hostel. Off to Napier, which is a fairly boring city. Not much to see there really. On to Taupo which is also a rather dull city a few nights there before heading on to the Tongariro National Park. When I tolt you to pack your Hiking boots, this is the time to get them out again! The Park was used as Mordor in Lord Of The Rings and you have got 2 options to get to see it. The first one is the Tongariro crossing which can easily be done in one day. Of course after all the hiking on the south Island challenged myself to do the Northern Circuit track, which takes between 2-3 days. Check out the pics, thats all Im gonna say. My recommendation would definitely be the Tama lakes and Tongariro Summit. I think its gonne be really, REALLY hard to top this hike!
After that, the rest of the north couldnt really impress I have to admit, but maybe I have already seen to much. However the Luge in Rotorua was great fun, the Coromandel Mountains and Cathedral Cove where quite nice as well.
My trip in NZ ended in Auckland where I visited a friend made in Brazil ( tanks for the nice Dinner Taty). Unfortuantely I didnt make it to Northland and Cape Reinga as the weather looked to bad to go there. I ended up exploring one of the Islands off the coast of Auckland before I made my way to Sydney.

And as usual here are the pics!

http://s1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff462/Markus-Edin/New%20Zealand%20-%20South%20To%20North/

Cheers,
Markus

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5 Month ago…

…  I was tired! Tired of moving around every 3-4 days to a new place. Tired of booking buses, tired of meeting new people. Traveling has sort of become like a job for me.  Like it is normal in an office to get in in the morning start up your PC and checking for new emails, opening the post and call the people that you couldnt get a hold of the day before it became normal for me to go on the internet an look for buses, book hostels and find out what to do next in the new city.  ..And as with any job, I grew tired of it!

BUT! Not anymore! Working in over the last 5 month made me hungry again! So I decided to quit my job, pack my things and move around every 3-4 days again, booking buses, meeting new people! In a few days from now Im on my way home. It will be a long one and there will be a few obstacles waiting I suppose, but Im looking forward to it! The route goes along the west coast of New Zealands South Island and then zig-zaging across the North Island before heading over to Australia for a few weeks. The next stop will be Bali in Indonesia which is also where my plan ends for now.

But first things first. The job fell into my lap without putting much of an afford in. It was a seasonal job as boat host for a cruise company in Milford Sound. It has been a good experience to work here and it was easy money. Although it was not an easy task I managed to keep my sanity! Living in the middle of nowhere for 5 month working and living with the same people does present some new challenges but it has been a great time! Few interesting characters out there, some weird ones too of course. I could go on about random things that happened around the area but that would blow this post out of proportion. However a few things stood out. Like the trip up the Sinbad Gully. As the company I was working for sponsored the project to set traps in the valley to get rid of the Possums, Stouts and Rats to re-release the Kakapo into the valley we can put our name down on a list to assist the Department of Conservation rebaiting all the traps. So you fly into the Vally with a helicopter and walk back out resetting the traps along the way. Also on one of my days off I managed to grab a seat on one of the planes going out to Queenstown. Intense on the small plane getting blown about in the strong winds but also an amazing experience! Last but not least, a fairly strong rainstorm blowing through the Fjord getting all the waterfalls to outstanding sizes. Check out the pics for more.

The area itself provides lots opportunities to go hiking, climbing and kayaking. My main focus would have been on the hiking. A few tracks around there well worth seeing are the Manapouri, Keppler, Lake Marian and Routeburn Track (pretty much in one day…Cat an Carlos, in case you read this FUCK YEAH!!!!!). Besides Lake Marian these ones are multiple day ones, but all of them are stunning demanding trails.

Easier day hikes can be done in Arrowtown, Te Anau and  Queenstown. Latter has become the Worlds Adventure capital. And if you’ve got the money to blow, there is over 600 activities that can be booked here. As I didnt have all that much the only thing worth mentioning was the Skydive. 15,000ft (4.5km). Meaning 60secs free fall!!! Addivtive!!!

Other then that it was mostly hiking or nothing on my days off. But Im back on the road soon in a proper fashion and there soon will be more interesting stories.

However here are a few pics.

Enjoy and see you soon, its the journey home now!

http://s1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff462/Markus-Edin/Fiordland%20and%20NZs%20south/

Cheers,

Markus

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New Zealand – South Island Pt 1

Its been a while!

Here is the first bit from New Zealand.

After arriving in Auckland in the middle of the night I pretty much headed down to Wellington on the same day. Auckland seemed to be an all right city but I cant tell all that much about it.

I ended up crashing on a friends place (Thanks to facebook) in Wellington and stayed there for a long weekend enjoying the Rugby Game Ireland vs. Australia on the big screen. Then meeting my sister at the ferry to the south island and straight on the bus down to Christchurch to collect the car. The drive is quite nice but I showed the first signs of travel fatigue! However after we collected the car it was gone in a second as driving through NZ in your own Camper-van is absolutely incredible. Even we didnt have a luxurious one the Van did his job superbly over the next 11 days, with some minor hick ups when my sis took the wheel. It almost looked like the car and her tried to make each others lives as hard as somehow possible, much to my amusement ;)

Anyway, after stopping in Kaikoura, Hanmer springs, Fox galcier, Lake Matherson, Queenstown, Kinloch, Te Anau, Milford, Gunn Lake, Twizel, Tekapo, Geraldine, Mt. Hutt and Christchurch we had to give the 1 st car back. I kinda rushed through this (and so did we in the car, a lot of driving) as the pics will speak for themselves! There is loads of hiking all over the place and scenery is constantly changing and getting more dramatic around every turn. The countryside is amazing and should be discovered with your own car. So we picked up the 2nd one and headed back up to Wellington for the game of the All Balcks against Canada. I had a little issue with the car as I hit a post on the day the car was supposed to be returned. That of course was a pain in the arse but at that stage I was quite optimistic to land a job in Milford, so I wasnt to worried about it.

After my sister left I went back down to Queenstown to look for a job with a bit more determination. Took about 3 days to get confirmation that I can start to work at Milford. I had 12 days to kill which I did with hiking. The reason for that is Im desperate to go skydiving but they have a fairly strict weight limit of 100kg and Im to heavy at the moment ;)

Other then that there is not much to say really besides NZ is incredible and Im happy to be able to actually talk to people again. I do have a vocabulary of about 35 – 40 words in spanish but it was still a challenge to make people understand what I actually want =)

Its no news to you that the country itself is insanely pretty and that, as long as you are into outdoorsy kinda stuff, there is endless opportunities here.

So for all you outdoor sports and hiking buddies out there, make your way to NZ!

http://s1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff462/Markus-Edin/New%20Zealand%20-%20South%20Island%20pt%201/

Cheers,

Markus

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THANK YOU!

Foz de Iguazu, Rio, Soccer matches in Porto Alegre and Caxias, Bariloche, Calafate and the End of the world…TORRES DEL PAINE, 3 DAY TOUR THROUGH THE ANDES and BOLIVIA (all of it)…Isla del Sol, Crossing the border over Lake Titicaca into Peru, Macchu Picchu at sunrise, Paracas, Huaraz, Panama-Costa Rican Border, Monteverde,  Copan, TIKAL (!), Semuc Shampey, Laquin Cave, Bat Caves, Volcano Boarding, Downhill Mountainbiking, QUADBIKES, Whitewater rafting….Iron Maiden in Buenos Aires and Santiago, Accept in La Paz and Blind Guardian in Santiago again…and those are just the brightest Highlights…8 INCREDIBLE month’ in South/Central America are coming to an end and I would like to THANK all the people who have made these places even more special!

It has been my pleasure and I hope to see you again some time!!!!!

My door will always be open for you!!!

THANK YOU!!!!!!! IT HAS BEEN INCREDIBLE!!!

Here is a collection of my favorite pictures from each country…For those to find out where to go next maybe, for the ones I met there as recollection and for me to say thank you to all who read this blog so far!

http://s1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff462/Markus-Edin/BestOf/

Cheers,

Markus

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From Gutatemala to Chile

Chill out time…Guatemala to Chile

Im not gonna lie to you. The last 4 weeks have been fairly lazy and uneventful (compared to the 4 weeks before).

After staying in Antigua for a few days the opportunity to camp out on an active Volcano presented itself. It have been two amazing days and have been a good way to end my stay in the small city in Guatemala. So hopping on a 41h bus from Antigua in Guatemala down to San Jose in Costa Rica and therefore skipping El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua on my way back. I was hoping for a bit of sleep on the bus but was dead wrong! There were only 2-3h stretches of sleep as we either had to change buses (4 times) or cross borders (4 as well). So when I arrived in S.J. and cached up on the sleep I was missing out and recovering form the long trip I didnt even know what day it was anymore. Could have been worse though as the hostel (Bekuo Hostel) I ended up in proved to be the perfect I-dont-know-what-Im-going-to-do-next-so-Im-just-gonna-stay-here-for-now place. Also, coincidently the Tattoo studio I picked for the next bit of ink I was going to get was right around the corner. Appointment made for a week so I decided to go to La Fortuna in the meantime to see the Arenal Volcano. Pretty nice spot and a very picturesque Volcano provide enough things to do for 3-4 days, including zip lining (850m, the longest zip line in Costa Rica), hiking (Volcano No. 6) and a pretty sweet 5* Hostel (Arenal Backpackers).

Back to S.J. for the tattoo and then planned on going to Manuel Antonio National Park. The national park is the perfect spot to spot to catch a glimpse at the wildlife there. Sloth’, iguanas, monkeys…you name it! Definately worth a look when in Costa Rica. Also recommended from my side is the Mangrove tour where again a lot of animals can be observed a little bit closer and also the stunning rain forest can be discovered! Back to S.J….Bekuo Hostel and the Jazz festival…

But this time I did have time restrictions as my flight to Lima was 3 days later. Cached the bus straight to Panama City and flew out the next day.

Back in Lima I picked up my new passport from the embassy (all hail the efficient Germans!). Just a few more days there and on to Paracas which is considered to be the “poor man Galapagos”. So, I havent been to Galapagos but  this spot is pretty amazing. Millions of birds, penguins and big lizards. On top of that there was an earthquake south of Paracas which sent huge waves towards the little islands and added to the already dramatic views.

Very close to Paracas is the little desert oasis called Huacachina which is famous for its Sandboarding. As I have never done anything like that before (snowboarding or skiing) this was next on my list of outdoor sports. It was a lot of fun and of course there was one spectacular wipe-out at the buttom of one of the bigger dunes. Tip from my end: Dont try to scream when you fall off!!! ;) I was still coughing up sand the next day!

Anyway, after Huacachina I went to Arequipa which is supposed to be Perus nicest city, and I can agree (but for some reason I failed to take pictures, sorry!) It is a really beautiful city located right between a few snow covered mountains and Volcanoes. Hanging out there (again) for three days and enjoying the parade for Arequipa-Day I crossed the border into Chile (which also marks my last border crossing in South America) and went to Arica. Not an awful lot to see here but the Doc that would do my x-ray examination for the NZ visa is located in Arica so I had to stay till the final decision on my visa is made.

Of course the government moved to slow and I went on to Santiago before they contacted me. After trying to locate the NZ embassy and ending up in the one for OZ (the flags look so similar) I got my x-ray done and will soon be on my way to NZ. But not before I attended one last concert in South America. Blind Guardian will be closing my trip here and send me off to NZ.

So, the next time you hear from me will probably be from the other end of the world.

Pictures, as usual

http://s1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff462/Markus-Edin/Central%20America%20-%20The%20way%20back/

Cheers

Markus

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Central America

Border Crossings, Mosquitos, Chicken buses and Tikal – Central America, the way up.

After arriving in Panama I quickly realised, I better get used to being sweaty for the next 2 month. Rainy season in Central America…So, climatising for 2 days in Panama City and then on to Bocas del Torro close to the border of Costa Rica. I was on a fairly tight schedule as I was aiming for Tikal in Guatemala. Bocas del Torro is a hidden gem in Panama and definitely worth a few days to calm down and relax. There are not that many roads on the small islands but most places can be reached by boat. The boat rides  are great fun and the views of the jungle make up for the heat. However be prepared for Sandflies and Mosquitos, who are a constant companion in Central America.

From Bocas I tried to cross the border into Costa Rica, off the beaten track which is the Pan American Highway. If it is quite easy to cross the border on the Highway the little border towns present a challenge that put my Spanish and sign language skills to the test. The standard practice in Central America seems to be that you get dropped off before the border and then you walk through customs and get on the bus afterwards. To complicate matters further you need to present your return flight/bus ticket when entering Costa Rica coming from Panama. On top of that the Panamanian-Spanish is almost impossible to understand.

So here I was in the middle of nowhere, without my flight ticket and not really understanding what the odd looking guy in the booth just said. There was a moment when we just looked at each other realising it is going to be a bitch getting through this situation. So after he made me understand that I need my ticket I tried to make him understand that I dont have it. Then he was signaling me with hand and feet that there is an internet cafe close by with a printer. Problem solved…so I thought. Arriving at the internet cafe I learned that the service is down. I shook with horror thinking about how I would explain that to the border guy. BUT then I remembered that I have the ticket for my flight to New Zealand in my backpack. Problem solved…Wrong again. The backpack was all the way down in the luggage compartment in the bus. Its save to say that the driver was less then impressed after he interpreted my nervous waving and pointing at the back of the bus correctly. I was told to get a move on or he would leave without me. So running back to the odd guy in the booth showing him my ticket getting the stamp into my passport and running back to the bus which was actually already pulling out the parking lot and waiting at the side of the road…My first border-crossing in Central America was an adventurous one and the Costa Rican entry stamp feels like a little trophy now.

Anyway, I learned my lesson there and the next crossings went without a hitch.

Arriving in San Jose I walked around town a bit. Quickly noticing quite a lot of people with “Slayer” T-Shirts I came to learn that the thrash metal Legend is playing San Jose on the same day. Unfortunately there where not Tickets on sale anymore so I had to give it a miss.

Leaving SJ on the day after there was my first encounter with the famous chicken buses. These are the buses where the locals can bring whatever they want, including life animals. As soon as you leave the Pan Am Highway in any direction, its going to be on Chicken Bus. One better gets used to them quickly. They seem to leave randomly and I dont even know anymore how many times I was dropped off in the middle of the Jungle and being advised to wait until some random bus comes along. It worked though and I got to my destination on the same day every time. In this case, I tried to get to Monteverde in the Cloud Forrest. The reason to go there is that they installed suspension bridges in the tree tops which get you much closer and much deeper into the Jungle. Whats truly an amazing sight during the rain season is the few sun rays that are getting through the thick roof of leafs. As it is really misty it creates an amazing effect which is known from the movies.

Again only a few days there and on to Nicaragua…this time masterfully crossing the border with no problems. From the border I chicken bussed my way to Ometepe Island on Lake Nicaragua. This Island was created by two Volcanoes which can both be climbed. The smaller one has a Lake on top and I was determined to swim in a Volcano. Unfortunately this sounds way cooler then it actually was. The hike up the steep side of the Volcano quickly turned into a pain in the arse as it was really slippery. The Volcano itself was completely grown over by lush vegetation so there was nothing to see. The lake shrouded in mist and not impressive at all. I went in anyway.

The climb down was even harder and I was happy to be back on safe ground after 8h of hiking. After that I needed a pick-me-up to raise my spirits and found same in the next city Granada, also on the shore of the lake. Nicaragua is the country of Volcanoes so the tour from Granada brings you to an active one which was really impressive to see. Included in the same tour is a visit to the near by bat cave. The special thing here is that the entrance is quite small and if you sit in front of it at sunset 1000s of bats will literally pass right by your head, without hitting you!

On the day after the tour my way to Tikal led me to Leon which was put on the map for the Volcano boarding one can do there. You can reach speeds up to 70-80km/h but only if you are a lightweight. Therefore I only got up to 31km/h. Still amazing fun and definitely recommended.

Of course there was a “little” fuck up as well, with a tour booked to the old City of Leon which was abandoned after the nearby Volcano erupted. The tour guy promised us a tour bus and an english speaking guide. The “tour bus” was the guys car which had a leaking sunroof! So when we approached the first set of traffic lights there was a waterfall splashing in my back and I was soaking wet. I just looked at the man. The “english speaking” guide was the lad himself telling us to read the signs…I started to get angry at that stage but was sort of willing to let it go. What pushed me over the edge was, HE GOT LOST ON THE WAY BACK! He had to get a local into the car that navigated him back to the main road. When he asked us how the tour was I lost the plot! The two dutch girls where trying to reason with him but he didnt seem willing to help us. We sort of fell into the good guy/bad guy roles, the dutch being the nice ones and I was the angry man, and by the time we were done with him he gave us almost all our money back.

Honduras was on the list next, the Copan Ruins to be exact. Definitely worth doing if you are interested in the old Mayan civilisation. Here you can see clearly the layout the city which is widespread. It is not as impressive as Tikal due to the lack of high temples, but definitely worth checking out when in Central America.

After Copan I decided to go to a little beach community in the north called Omoa. A really nice place to spend a few days on your way from Copan to Tikal which also has a spanish Fort.

The way to Tikal however had a surpise for me in store again. The route I wanted to take would have led me to Livingston and by boat to Rio Dulce. Of course that didnt work. When I finally got to the port where the boat was supposed to be leaving for Livingston I was told that we need 20 people. There was 2 of us…2,5h later we were 5 before dropping back to 2. I gave up at that stage and tried to work my way around the bay to go straight to Rio Dulce. 3 chicken buses and 5h later I arrived in Rio Dulce from where I headed straight on to El Remate close to Tikal the next day.

As you may have notice the main reason I came to Central America was Tikal, and it kept what it promised. The sight is outstanding and is up there with Macchu Picchu. On the day we did our tour it was pouring down which added to the mystical atmosphere of the ancient city. Again, Im not going to go on about how amazing it really was as the pictures hopefully will tell the story.

High on the amazement I left Tikal to head to Lanquin. For some reason, this place does not get the attention it deserves. Close to Lanquin is Semuc Shampey. A gigantic limestone in the middle of the Jungle carved by the river into amazing shapes. There is a total of 7 pools on the rock with the river passing underneath it as well. Im not sure if Im doing a good job explaining it but it has to be seen to be believed. Furthermore, there is a half flooded cave close to Lanquin.  The tour leads you about 500m into the cave with candles and a waterfall inside…….I couldnt take any pics as my cam is not waterproof but if you do get to Central America or Guatemala DO NOT MISS Semuc Shampey. An absolute highlight so far.

Im now in Antigua and taking it easy for a few days before making my way back to Panama.

This was quite a lot now but I hope it wasnt to boring to read, but feel free to leave any comments if I can improve this blog in any way.

And here is something for the eyes.

http://s1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff462/Markus-Edin/Central%20America%20-%20The%20way%20up/

Cheers,

Markus

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Peru

And here we go.

After setting across lake Titicaca we ended up in Cusco, close to Macchu Picchu. As you have to book you tour for the Inka trail month in advance you are not surprised that I had to come up with an alternative. I stayed in the Wild Rover Hostel in Cusco which luckily has a tour desk that offers a 4 day adventure tour to MP. On the first day they bring you to the top of a mountain which you then race down on mountain bikes. Thats pretty easy going as it is a paved road and you can go as fast as you wish. On the same day there is wild water rafting for just over an hour. After that it was nice to have a bed close by. On the next day they lead you on the Inka Trail for an 8h hike. This part is fairly adventurous, as can be seen in the pics. It leads right along steep mountains on a goat pass which at points is hardly wide enough to walk along, over “bridges” which are actually only a tree across a wild river. The 3rd day consists of Zip-Lining across a canyon up to 120m in the air. Although Im not completely free from the fear of hights, that was pretty sweet!!! Another few hours of hiking and then on the last day, after getting up at 3am, the sunrise at Macchu Picchu! IT IS MAGICAL up there. When the sun climbs up from behind the mountains and the first rays hit the houses…indescribable! We hung out all day there and then headed back to Cusco by train/bus. A few days there and then on to Nasca for the famous Nasca lines in the desert. The pictures do the attraction not much justice as the lines are hard to see. However from the tiny plane up in the airthe lines are actually very visible.

After Nasca I had to change plans again (for the x-time) and head on to Lima straight away instead of going through Huacachina and Paracas. Both of these places I will visit after I return from Central America. Hucachina is an Oasis in the desert and Paracas is considered to be the “poor mans Galapagos”. Same wild life, just cheaper. Anyway, the reason I had to change my plan this time is that Copa Air didnt accept my credit card and I had to go to Lima to buy my flights personally in their office. It was a bit of a pain cos I tried to sort it out over the phone…Ended up in a call centre in India. Who knows a bit about me can imagine what I was thinking when I heard the voice of an Indian when I tried to call them. Anyhow, I didnt want to stay in Lima for two weeks so my quest to travel the world lead me to Huaraz 8h north of Lima. It is a non-touristy place in the mountains and quite nice. Most of the activities there evolve around hiking and camping. It is THE hiking Mekka in South America according to the people at the hostel.  I did a 1 day hike to one of the lakes close by and was not disappointed. The scenery is incredible! However, in case you come over here…All hikes start at at least 3500m altitude, which make them harder then one would expect. The “Santa Cruz” hike goes over 4 days and is very scenic but I had no time to do it and I also think Im not fit enough to actually do it. Then there is also the hard core version of it which takes 8-10 days…Im not even going to go into it.

Instead I went to the Chavin temples about 3h away from Huaraz. Unfortunately I didnt pay attention when I booked the tour so it was in spanish and I understood nothing. Therefore I can not give you any information about the Chavin. The temple however was pretty cool as you are allowed to go inside it. After one more day in Huaraz I went back to Lima to wait for my flight to Panama.

That was again not as easy as suspected, as the presidential elections took place on the day I tried to get to Lima. ROADBLOCKS, again! This appears to be some sort of Hobby for the Peruvians! “What are should we do today?”, “I dont know! We could always block a road!”

This time without throwing rocks though. In Lima itself was pretty quiet as on election day public gatherings are forbidden and all off license are closed as well a few days beforehand.

So, my flight to Panama will be tomorrow and I am really excited about it now! After all that happened so far I was not sure if I would be able to make it to Central America at all, but here I go!

Of course I took some pictures along the way and here YOU go.

http://s1237.photobucket.com/albums/ff462/Markus-Edin/Peru/

Cheers

Markus

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