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Koh Phangan & koh Samui & Koh Phi Phi

all seasons in one day 27 °C

Beautiful Koh Phangan is best discovered by renting a motorbike (you can get them for less than 3$ a day and a license is usually not required. Does something like this even exist in thailand!?)
A good idea is to always take a map along. Not like me, thinking: "this island is round so I will reach my starting point when I drive long enough!" I ended up in the jungle, with no drop of gas left.
Which turned out to be a very nice experience. I discovered the Phaeng waterfall and decided to climb it. After two hours, I reached the top and as a reward, enjoyed an amazing view and had a bath in the refreshing natural pool. (Another good idea when going trekking for hours: take some shoes along! Not like me...)
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Koh Phangan is also famous for its Half/Full/Black-moon-Parties. Of course we checked it out and it was the craziest party I've ever seen (And I've seen a few!) So if you ever happen to be in Thailand at Whatever-Moon you HAVE to visit Koh Phangan! It was an unbelievable experience and I met incredible people!
Diving, Climbing, clubbing, trekking, going from beach to beach...Days fly on Koh Phangan and you forget about time easily.
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But I didn't. I left Koh Phangan after 4 days (or five? or six? Maybe Seven? ;) and headed to Koh Samui, the biggest and most famous Island in the Gulf of Thailand.
My impression of Koh Samui is that you can easily skip this place. (My oppinion.) Unless you are looking for McDonalds, Starbucks or Tesco, stuffy and spoilt package tourists, overprized beer or sex tourism. If you do, Koh Samui would be Paradise. It is THE island of consumption! Nothing reminded me of Thailand anymore, except the Thai massages of all kind that were offered on the beach.
You see pseudo-adventure attraction everywhere: ride an elephant, hire a jetsky, do a jungle safari...all of them with private guides included of course, so that nothing interesting happens and to make sure that your designer trekking outfit wont get dirty.
But the worst thing was, that Koh Samui the sex tourism scene is very distinctive here. I've seen old, fat and ugly white men with beautiful (too) young thai women (girls) everyday. They can buy these girls for a day, a night or a whole month. I even met someone who bought a thai "housewife" for a year. It is widely accepted in society and no one seemed to pay much attention. But I did, it sickened me and I still can't understand how these beautiful girls can waste themselves like this. It's maybe the only way to escape poverty and misery, which makes it even more disgusting to watch those old, ugly men taking advantage of their situation...
Anyway, I realised that this was not my world and not what I was looking for and so I escaped to Koh Phi Phi.
Or may I say paradise?
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Koh Phi Phi is definitely the most beautiful place I've ever seen! I would have loved to stay longer, for ever, but my time didn't allow it since my next destination is awaiting me: Vietnam.

It was a month full of incredible experience, I got to get to know myself better, made so many new and amazing friends, experienced loads of adventures and finally got used to the allday life and hassle of a backpacker-nomad. Honestly, at the moment I can hardly imagine to get back to a normal life again. I love it so much and I am so looking forward to the following months.

Posted by Louisa31 04:35 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Xin Chào Việt Nam!

Same Same but different

all seasons in one day

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Vietnam is the country i like most so far. Arriving in Ho Chi Minh City reminded me of Bangkok: thousands of backpackers, amazing food and cheap beer on every corner and crazy traffic. (Nothing compared to Delhi though!)
But still, Vietnam is culturewise completely different to Thailand. The mass and package tourism is not as distinctive and you can easily find places where the locals hang out. I drank some beer with them, trying to communicate via sign language and drawings on a napkin...The language barrier didn't stop them from talking for hours! It was so much fun.
Since I'm so interested in Vietnam history I went to a lot of museums, remnants and sights.
I knew what was awaiting me and i was aware of the cruelty this country had to face in the past. But what i experienced overtopped all my expectations and shattered me for days. it's so horrible i hardly find words to describe it.
The War Remnant museum in Saigon exhibits the cruelty and inhumanity of the Vietnam War very detailed, displaying original photographs and videos. I had to skip some places, because this was just too much for me to handle on one day. An old vietnamese woman standing next to me was crying and she was not the only one.
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What i found most shocking is that there are still after-effects visible in this country. The Americans used Agent Orange, a chemical weapon against the Vietcong. But also Cambodia and Laos have been affected. Their actual goal was to destroy the forests and rural land, to minimize the ability of peasants to support themselves in the countryside... But the effects are much worse. Approximately 3 million Vietnamese people have been affected by agent orange and still today many children are born heavily disabled and mutilated, as a result of their parents’ exposure to the chemical. This month, after years of repulsing Vietnamese requests for assistance in help, the United States starts its first major effort to address the consequences of the war. 40 years later!!
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The worst thing is that the horrifying war indicates not much interest in the western world these days. For us, it is just another cruel war in the last century. Even in school, we managed to talk about Hitler's uprising, the Hows, the Whys, the Whens for years but had no time left to focus the Vietnam war properly. And especially in America the war passes out of mind. But in Vietnam, you can still feel and see the misery it caused. You can see the pain in older people's eyes and when talking to locals, they expose horrible stories of their childhood. I'm once again shaken by the barbarity of humans and feel so sorry for all the (present) victims this war caused (on both sides, apparently).
I visited the tunnel network of Cu Chi as well. That was really interesting and unbelievable. The tunnel system stretched from the South Vietnamese capital Saigon up to the Cambodian border! There were more than 250 km of tunnels, several storeys deep. The Vietcong used the tunnel system to hide from the US army, providing surprise attacks and to disappear suddenly into hidden trapdoors without a trace. Yes, the US base camp was directly above the tunnels! There emerged real underground cities with hospitals, schools, weapon factories and kitchens.
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I had difficulties crawling through the claustrophobic tunnels, since they are only 50 cm high and there is no light and no fresh air! (of course.)
I can't believe how the Vietcong managed to live there for years.

Besides all those depressing and shocking impressions, I had loads of nice experiences as well. I did the Mekong tour, visited the floating market and did a Homestay at a local family, cooking delicious something together (forgot what it was. but delicious, i swear!) and drinking a lot of rice wine (also called Happy Water, for obvious reasons ;) and talking about politics and history until late night.
Yes, I love Vietnam and i will definitely come back some time, two weeks are just too little time. I'll spend my last days at the south coast, hoping to catch some sun at the beach. It has been raining a lot the last days but maybe i'll be lucky!

Tạm Biệt and chúc sức khỏe!

Posted by Louisa31 00:53 Archived in Vietnam Comments (0)

Everyone who ever envied my traveling, read this.

The worst journey ever from Vietnam to Bali...

It was meant to be a good day. When I woke up, I knew there were only a few hours left and i would be reunited with Jessica and Iris, my crazy lovely friends from germany. Although i absolutely love traveling alone, i couldn't wait to have some familiar faces around again. And i was so looking forward to our time in bali, lombok and the Gili Islands! I was excited on my way to the airport (in a local hop-on-hop-off bus. Stupid tourists, always taking a cab to the airport... the local bus is so much cheaper! it was a challenge though, since i was THE attraction with my huge backpack. That i finally reached the right stop was luck since no one understood where i intended to go. )
But then the desaster started. The friendly check-in woman explained me politely that I can not get on the plane since i do not have a return fliggt from indonesia which is required to grand a visa on arrival. I had a return flight indeed but not at hand since jessica bought the tickets and never sent them to me ( i defenetely am an organisation talent). So i was not able to proof i had a flight and the attempt to call the girls was in vain since they were already boarding the plane from Germany to denpasar. The only possibility to catch my flight in timr was to buy a new return ticket. So i did and now i am 300€ lighter. This stupid incident of course took its time and when i heard my name called out via loudspeaker (VERY last call for miss Wuuuhlf) I knew i better hurry up. Arriving at the gate, it was of course already closed butrbegging and shouting the staff reopened it for me.. i might have scared them a bit (this is for shierley.)
Finally sitting in the plane, the story wasn't over yet. The flight was delayed (yeah, my own fault probably) and i incidently knew I will have some problems catching my connecting flight in KualaLumpur. Same procedure in KL, I arrived late at the gate and they reopened it for me, this time no shouting but almost crying.
You might have changed you mind already but take this:
After arriving in Bali, I thought the worst journey ever was finally over, but no chance!
I forgot to take some money for the required Indonesian visa with me. I couldn't get money from an ATM since my daily limit was reached due to the flight shopping earlier. And additionally, i realized that my luggage was missing. There i was, no money, no visa, no backpack but loads of friendly indonesian security guys that wanted to help me survive this horror scenario. I almost agreed on selling my new headphones (high quality from Vietnam) to afford the visa but then a security guide accompanied me out of the airport to find an ATM that took my German card. And it worked! i withould myself from kissing the security guy and bought the visa. After saying thanks for the standing ovation by the other airport workers, i started looking for my missing backpack, which turned out to be brought to the airport's own police station since soneone grabbed it from the luggage pick up and left it standing on the ground. (yeah, never leave your luggage unobserved. i had to undergo a teaching lesson by the same workers that gave me standing ovation eaelier...) Finally, Karma and I were friends again. I got my visa, my backpack and my nerves back.
Vietnam airlines confirmed that i would get a refund when not taking the flight I bought at the airport and now I am finally looking forward to an amazing time with jessica and iris in Indonesia!
The hole day taught me on lesson: that i have to inform myself better. Still i never lost my temper today. at some point, I started to see all this as a kind of a challenge and took it with "humour". I even laughed out loud when the guy from the indonesian immigration office told me i wont be able to enter the country. I said to myself "things couldn't get worse" at least three times today. But they could and always can.
Who said traveling was easy!?

Posted by Louisa31 05:40 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Bali and Lombok

sunny 30 °C

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Lombok is what Bali pretends to be: a tropical paradise with deserted white sand beaches and culturally rich. Bali is beautiful and definitely worth the trip but after a week we've had enough of crowded Kuta, parties, touts, Australian drinking teams (sorry mates) and people in general. So we decided to go to Lombok, an island the size of Bali just 30km away. The journey from bali to Lombok was a real adventure. Since we're always traveling lowest budget possible, we ended up on a huge freighter with no seats and no possibility to hide from the blasting sun...The coal remainder on the ground were soon everywhere on us and made the traveler-look perfect. It was fun.
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After 5 hours we arrived in Senggigi and the next day, we rented a motorbike to explore the island. It took us 2 hours to get from the north to the south to a place called Kuta (same name like Kuta Bali!) But the name is all these places have in common! It was incredible, we could count the hotels and tourists on our fingers! At some beaches, there was absolutely NO ONE, except some fishermen and their children. We felt like Leonardo Di Caprio in "The Beach" and where so happy to experience something like this in the 21st century.
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Lombok is an underdeveloped region, long overshadowed by its superstar neighbour Bali. But things are changing.
We might have been lucky to experience this island that looks like Bali 40 years ago, but we also noticed the LAND FOR SALE signs everywhere. Investors from Dubai and the States have long discovered the beautiful secret of Lombok and resorts and hotels are in process of planning. (We couldn't find a proper hostel by the way, we were in a nameless, family run homestay with an amazing atmosphere, local children running around naked and singing and cooking together and so on! it was so nice.)
Just a few years and i'm sure i wont recognize the place i just visited. Its a shame on the one hand but on the other hand, it's a great possibility for the people living on Lombok. Now, they are dependend on agriculture, which leaves many villages poor and underdeveloped since Lombok is the driest region in Indonesia and crops are unpredictable. It's a chance for the villages and especially for the children to have another pillar: Tourism. We can only hope that Kuta Lombok develops in a sustainable way and that it wont transform into its namesake on Bali.
There is actually one disadvantage of a lack of tourism and deserted beaches: they are difficult to reach. We experienced real adventures with our motorbikes, since there are no streets and not even ways to walk. So we rode through the desert, gravel and stones to get there. It might have been fun with a dirtbike, but with our little city scooters...Well, an experience indeed. We made it with only a few scratches though.

Whenever we passed local children on our way, they smiled and waved and high fived us all the way down, sometimes even running as fast as they could to say Hello. They were SO cute! And so beautiful. It was a pleasure.
Some families that might have never seen white people before. They were staring at us and the children hid behind their mother's back.
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For me, Lombok was a wonderful experience, since it is so different to all the other destinations. Its culture is so authentic and it offers so many untouched places and beaches. I recommend to everyone to get here as soon as possible, before the developers start their big project.

Now we are on the Gili Islands. They are beautiful as well! (do i use the word beautiful too often?? haha.) I will write about my diving experiences on the Gilis soon. I have to recover from a cold first...There is loads of tourism again, of course. But now we really don't mind having some partypeople around us again.. ;-)
IN THIS SENSE: CHEERS AND MANY KISSES TO GERMANY!!

Posted by Louisa31 00:03 Archived in Indonesia Comments (1)

Concluding 90 days of south(east)Asia

After 90 days of traveling south(east) Asia, it's time for a résumé: What i hate/love/miss most

sunny 31 °C

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“Tourists went on holidays while travellers did something else. They travelled.”
― Alex Garland, The Beach

I have had No stomach problems at all (even though I stopped taking care long ago), no infectious diseases like Malaria (even though I stopped taking care long ago), no robbery so far (I always take care- and in this case: monkeys don't count), lots of sunburns (I always take care), lots of hangovers (who actually cares?).
During my time in Asia I got lost, scammed, harassed and wasted frequently.

Climbing waterfalls, falling down waterfalls, swimming, scuba diving, free diving, snorkeling, rock climbing, kayaking in a typhoon, cykling in the monsoon.
Eating amazing food, eating disgusting food, sharing rooms with people I didn't know, sharing rooms with insects I didn't know.
Snakes under my bed, spiders, rats and cockroaches in my bed, monkeys on my head, back, shoulder.
Feeding crocodiles, patting tigers, diving with bull sharks, adopting cats and dogs, watching people eat cats and dogs.
Having spent more than 200 hours in busses/trains/cars, spending nights in busses/trains/cars, in the desert, by the beach, the airport and even on the street.
Accidentally being at the wrong airport/boat/bus/taxi, staggering into the wrong hostel, ending up in a wrong city.
Meeting lovely people, meeting insane freaks, making new friends, missing my old friends like crazy.

What i hate most:
Living lowest budget. There are two disadvantages of living lowest budget:
1. You are living lowest budget! IT SUCKS!!
2. You have to be content with everything you get. Since you get what you pay for, the way i live is not for the faint-hearted...you dont want to see the places where i use to sleep, which fleabags i visited. But you can get used to everything! I miss a fancy bathroom with a hairdrier and a real flush.
I miss to eat what I want, not what is cheapest.

What I miss most: My family and friends are of course on top of everything.
I hate not seeing my godchild's first steps, not holding my best friend's hand in difficult times, not having dinner with my family or cuddling with my cat.
I sometimes hate having the time of my life without sharing all the happiness with my beloved ones.
And I miss Gouda and black bread like crazy. I even dream about it at night! And I miss Mustafa's Gemuesedoener and Mamas Lasagne!
And I miss a mirror in the bathroom, a normal flush on the toilet and the German computation of time. Ten minutes delay ARE ten minutes delay. Asian "ten minutes delay" can mean everything, up to ten days, haha.
I hate saying goodbye to fellow travelers i instantly locked in my heart. I hate saying goodbye in general and here i have to go through it almost every three days. I want to meet every single one of you again, no matter what continent you live on, Berlin is waiting for you :)
I hate Asian traffic and the air conditioning on the bus ('High"score: 16 °C). I hate waking up in the middle of the night, in a crazy heated room, sweat everywhere, because there is no air conditioning and sometimes not even a fan.
I hate not being able to sleep sometimes, because fellow people in the dorm room decide to have a spontaneous party.
I love the Asian mentality and hospitality and that they always smile at you. I hate that they mistake me for a walking ATM. I hate all the bargaining (even in an official pharmacy you have to bargain hard to get a good deal.) I hate arguing with scambags.
I love the sun, the beach and the whole backpacker nomad life. I hate the humidity and carrying my bag for hours, uphill, i the blasting sun.

All in all, I can say it was an amazing time in Asia and I had at no point serious troubles and never got into a dangerous situation (and I was traveling alone for 4 weeks and i am, by the way, not the most cautious person on earth) Many people where advising me against traveling Asia for so long, on the lowest budget possible, on my own. I can say: This is bullshit. Just do it, there are no dangers at all.

“If I'd learnt one thing from travelling, it was that the way to get things done was to go ahead and do them. Don't talk about going to Borneo. Book a ticket, get a visa, pack a bag, and it just happens.”
― Alex Garland, The Beach

Posted by Louisa31 21:42 Archived in Indonesia Comments (0)

Australia

sunny 40 °C

Okay so before it gets too dusty here, I better update this place a bit :)
Plus I 'm too lazy to tell the same stories of what we do and where we
are over and over again...Here we go:
When we arrived in Perth from Indonesia, we were a bit disappointed,
because our expectations difffered so much from reality. We literally
expected to bump into kangaroohs at the airport and having trouble
walking down the street because our chucks might be melting. We also
expected interesting venomous animals everywhere or at least outside
the airport building. But we soon realised that the only Kangaroohs
you can spot here in Perth are either made for BBQ or made of steel
and also we learned that not all the insects are poisonous in here and
not everything WANTS to kill you, especially not in Perth city (well
at least we were well prepared for everything). Okay so after
accepting reality, we had something else to complain about: the
weather. It was SO SO cold (less than 20 °C and at night times around
15 °C) and we, coming from Asia, didn 't have anything with us, no
jumper, no jeans and it was FREEZING! (looking back its actually
funny, I'm writing this now and it feels like a completely different
country im talking about, now the temperature hits around 40 °C
everyday and i wish it cooled down again, as in early november...you
see i 'm still truly German, always complaining;)
The first three weeks we stayed at magic mike, magic ollie and magic
patty in their beautiful appartment, which was actually too beautiful
and elegant for a (straight) men's shared house. We had an awesome time
and they helped us out with everything (thanks for the jumpers) and
yeah we had some funny conversations...Thanks for everything:)

After we acclimatized ourselves with the western standards again
(having a washing mashine, a toilet flush, hot and most of all clean
water...) we moved into a shared house with some friends of Magic
Ollie. We've been very succesful avoiding to stay at backpackers, just
because it's so expensive it's almost ridiculous(30$ a night). But when
jess and me moved in here, it turned out to be not as easy as it might
sound. Of course the previous tenant took all her stuff when moving
out and we found ourselves standing in a completely empty room. As
backpackers, we dont own much, especially no furniture. So there we
were, no furniture and no matress to sleep on but very happy to have a
washing mashine and that was everything that counted at that
time. Our roommates helped us out with some blankets and soon after
that we pimped our room with bulk rubbish and Lametta. We found a
matress on the street and bought pink tinsel and now its the most
beautiful place on earth. Sometimes its a bit messi but still
beautiful. At that point, we want to say sorry to our housemates Mich
and Pete for our messi tendency and that we are very grateful for your
patience. We're sorry from the bottom of our hearts. Each day anew.
Our roommates are awesome, even though they drink and smoke too much
but thinking about it, thats maybe why they are awesome. We're very
happy to have met them thaaaank you guys!! :)
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When we have some free time we enjoy jumping off bridges or cliffs,
cause this is what you do in Australia if you get bored, haha.
But we dont have much freetime at the moment, cause we found a job in
the cottesloe beach club which is a nice
bar/restaurant/hotel/beergarden, whatever you want to call it. The
area is quite posh and so are the customers and i am actually sick of
dealing with them. Some people are so stuck-up and sniffy its funny
again.
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For example these +40years old women with fake tits ordering
haloumi pizza without haloumi and bechamel sauce and then complain
about getting a plain margarita pizza and the missing cheese. But we
get our money and that's most important and as long as we dont have to
deal with all these customers every day, its fun to work there as most
of the staff are backpackers and fun to hang out with. The Bar is
directly at the beach and we can go for a swim at midnight after work
or when we are on break.
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What is annoying is when on sundays at the popular sunday session,
everyone gets so drunk and we still have to be friendly to them even
when they are just waisting our time. all the customer always want to
know where we are from, what we are doing, how we like Australia and
so on and so on and so on. When they hear we're from Germany, its
always the same end of the story ''AHHH duitschland!!! ains, zwai,
trei, Wunderbar! are you from the East or from the West?" As soon as
we clarify the fact that the wall came down twentytwo years ago and
there is noe EAST and WEST anymore, they always want to know more.
Where our parents came from and if we like Angela Morkl ore the bloody greeks. It
sucks to always tell everyone the same story, so jess and me invented
that game of making up new identities and the more people believe that
shit you are talking about, the better you are: I am recenetly
Pippilotta from Upsala who is saving up money to be an astronaut. Its
so much fun, because Aussis bevlieve you everything, only because they
can hear you are from Europe. I dont know what exactly they think is
going on in Europe but it most be a very interesting prejudice.

Jess and me are working a lot now but soon we are going to start the
traveling part of our work and travel holiday. Ive spent too much time
at the same place now and i really miss the nomad life. We bought a
van called clyfe who will be our friend, companion, car and home for
that time. We love him and hope he will love us back. He is turquiose
and matches our pink scooter perfectly. I think some people in our
neighbourhood think these german girls are a bit twisted in their
heads but who cares, we are in AUSTRALIA :-)

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Posted by Louisa31 17:14 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Australia Perth-Exmouth

Some road trip fairy tales. And nightmares.

sunny 40 °C

DSC_1235.jpgSo Jess and me bought this 26 years old turquoise Toyota van called Clive as the cheapest option to travel around Australia. With that we finally fulfilled EVERY backpacker cliché you could ever think of (just happenend) and despites everyone's doubts, we were so happy and content that Clive was our mate for the big tour. Were. Was.
A lot happened:

It started harmless with me being sick of work and staying in the same place for months and so Jess (who still wanted to work another week) and me split up for the first time in 4 months(!). My plan was to drive 1500km up north to Exmouth to dive the world famous Ningaloo Reef. I put an ad on Gumtree.com for a rideshare and found two other nice girls that came along with me. It was a long ride along the western Australian coast through remote and lonely areas but with heaps of nice things to discover on the way. So i started the trip with this two girls i never met and without Jess(which was very hard, i missed her so much!!!). Our first stop was Cervantes, then Geraldton. We camped "illegally" on public parking spots and used the public toilets and showers provided on the beach. Sometimes there were even BBQ areas that we could use. Actually it is forbidden to camp in public places, because the government wants you to go to an official camping site and spend your money on the tourism sector. But we were too penny-pinching to pay 10$ a night each. Especially when we got the same facilities everywhere for free. And good old Clive. When we got busted by a ranger one day who told us that we were not supposed to camp here and it would cost us a 500$ fee normally, we just pretended to be dumb and explained in broken English that we cant understand why we were not supposed to camp at this old airport. After a while, he let us go and suggested to hide behind a bush. We did so. This I-dont-speak-English-please-dont-hit-me-expression just always works! :)
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Then we arrived in Monkey Mia (800km away from perth) which was an exceptional experience. There were bottlenose dolphins everywhere and they came so close to the beach we could touch them. And we didn't even have to pay anything for that experience, because it was the dolphin's natural habitat (and they wanted to get some breakfast from the rangers).

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Franzi standing...somewhere
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We continued our way up north, because we still had a long way to cover (another 800km to Exmouth). Western Australia is the complete opposite of how i picture the Eastcoast. Cities dont really exist (except of Perth and Geraldton) and sometimes it took us hours of driving to find some signs of civilization (even petrol stations). There was ABSOLUTELY nothing for hundreds of ks except bush and outback and some dead kangaroohs along the road. It was exhausting to drive the Van, because Clive of course doesnt have any airconditioning. It got SOO hot! (Felt air temperature at least 50 °C) We drove with all the windows open, which wasn't much of a help apparently, because the wind was dry and hot and it just felt like a hairdryer on highest level, pointed at your face. Not to mention all the flies and the bad smell that streamed into the car whenever we passed a dead animal (roughly every 500m). We persuaded ourselves that THIS actually was the "real" Australian experience. That we at least experience the outback with our own senses. (Haha)

I mean, whats the sense of driving your super luxurious campervan with airconditioning across the outback?
...Avoiding nervous breakdowns and heat exhaustion, maybe. At the end of the day we couldnt convince ourselves and had to admit that we envied all those "comfort backpackers" who overtook us on the road. They relaxed and smiled and we were drenched in sweat and exhausted, busy with getting those flies out of our ears...An experience indeed.
Clive was doing well and i took good care of him. I felt so professional, checking the tire pressure everyday, always filling up the oil level when it got low and filling up the radiator with water in the morning to prevent overheating. I gave him so much love. Also we met heaps of mechanics on our way who all checked on him, surprised of his good condition hence his age.
Speaking about nice people we met: it was incredible how nice and friendly and helpful some people are. For example these mine workers we met in Kalbarri who felt sorry for our poor breakfast (instant milk, oats and disgusting salt water coffee) and who then went shopping with us and paid for everything! Cheese, salami, espresso, fresh baked bread...it felt like heaven! And they didn't even...wanted anything in return.
Or this fishermen in Exmouth who felt sorry for our dinner (spaghetti in not-really-boiling water) and who then invited us to eat his fish and chips and sleep in his spare room (Air Condition! Shower! Power!). We must have looked so pitiable to all of them.
Okay reading through these lines it all sounds creepy and weird, like the beginning of a horror movie but it was alright. We're not naive after all. Just hungry.

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In Exmouth we spent literally all the time in the water. It was beautiful, the beaches, wild camping and wild animals everywhere. We went snorkeling for hours and i went diving twice at the Navy Peer in Ningaloo reef and i have to say it's been the best dives i ever had (and the most expensive ones as well.) We saw sharks, sea turtles, sting rays and an amazingly intact reef. I'm excited to dive the Great Barrier Reef but all the instructors there told me that they reckon ill be disappointed, because its been so commercialized over there and too many people on one boat and just not the same atmosphere at Ningaloo Reef. Well. I'll see.
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After a short stopover in coral bay and another few hours spent in the water snorkeling, we started our long way back.
As i mentioned before, clive was so patient and brave all the way. But between Geraldton and Perth (just 400ks left!!) the nightmare started. We couldn't exhilarate anymore and therefore couldn't go faster than 40 on the highway. We all didnt know what was wrong so we decided to pull over and then nothing worked and the car simply broke down. In the middle of nowhere. In the afternoon heat and no people in sight! It was terrible. The car stank and since it happened so abruptly we were a bit overwhelmed with the whole situation and didnt know what to do next except of laughing ( a bit hysterically, admittedly.) I was just about to damn our Karma when two cars pulled over, one was a mechanic and the other two rangers. They towed us away from the highway 50km to the next service station. The mechanic explained us that the clutch was fucked and the breaks and just everything since it was such an old car and we were very lucky that this happened here were there are still people passing daily and not up north between Exmouth and Carnavon, where we probably would have waited for days...He explained politely that to get all that stuff fixed would roughly cost us around 1500$.
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Well and then this other bushman who pulled over earlier felt so sorry for us, because we were stuck in the middle of nothing without wheels and not enough money to get that car fixed and he gave us his car for free. He said he bought a new one anyways and wouldnt need his car called Bobby. We got the paperwork done and now we own a new old car called Bobby. Its old and shit as well but least we have something. Clive is dead. For ever. That's so sad but on the other hand: it could have turned out differently. I mean, it's not normal to get a new car for free straight away when yours is breaking down in the outback. I apologized to Karma for my nasty insults earlier. It all went out well, I'm back in Perth now, back with Jess finally and on sunday we are going to leave for Melbourne. We're not sure yet if we're going to take the car across Australia now, because i definitely don't want to be stuck in the middle of the nullarbor plain, with no friendly bushman offering us another car. We stopped making plans, because it always turns out to be different anyway. We want to end up at the Eastcoast, somehow, at some stage. But after watching Wolf Creek yesterday, we may rethink the option of hitchhiking (for you mum).
We're going to keep you updated! At least we're experiencing some new adventures again, we missed that so much. Although it didnt have to come down at us all at once. But you cant choose, can you;)
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R.I.P Clive old mate.
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Posted by Louisa31 04:42 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Southeast Asia Klappe die Zweite

Bangkok and Cambodia

All I need for 7 weeks in Asia. (Hopefully...)
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Rough beginning:
So i'm sitting on a bench in a rotten back alley hostel in Siem Reap, unable to sleep. It is six AM, good morning insomnia. I can hear Jessica throwing up inside the room, over and over again. It's our fourth night in Siem Reap, Cambodia and we've had a rough time so far. First, there was me being knocked out and sick. And now it's Jess' turn. After Cockroaches in Koh Chang and Ants in Bangkok, I've now been sharing my bed with bedbugs for the last four nights and only found out about it an hour ago, as they were kindly crawling all over my face. This is why i chose the bank over my bed.
(Garden Village Hostel Siem Reap: Full of bedbugs!)
But these are the challenges you have to overcome when backpacking and having the time of your life, I guess...
Also, Our lives are not as miserable as they might appear now.
We've had some amazing days so far. Starting in Bangkok, I was so happy to be back again. I've missed the buzzing streets of Bangkok, the food, cheap drinks and the amazing, distinctive culture surrounding me. We spent the days getting ridiciously cheap Thai massages, pedicure or shopping, drinking, exploring, eating or just hanging around as the locals do.

Then we heard about a beautiful and unspoilt island just 5 hours away from Bangkok and we packed our stuff and off we went, taking a night bus to Koh Chang. This island is unspoilt indeed, very authentic and beautiful. We stayed at Lonely Beach (Sunflower Resort: Euro 2,50 each a night, with a beautiful sea view. Cockroaches included!) and made new friends with pretty much each and every local living on the island. Some Thai girls we met showed us around on their scooters and took us to places "normal" tourist wouldn't be able to see. We spent so much time with them and even had dinner with their families with loadfs of stuff we have never seen before. These people were so nice and gave so much, even though they own so little.
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But After a few days it was time to move on to Cambodia. After a 13hour nail-biting bus journey, we finally arrived in Siem Reap. As soon as we crossed the border, we realised that this is a completely different world. In comparison to Cambodia, Thailand is well organized, highly developped and sparkling clean. Cambodia instantly reminded me of India, but less rotten and overcrowded. Nontheless, i soon fell in love with the country. I love watching the street kids running around bare foot, dancing and smiling, turning absolutely numb and shy the moment they noticed they are being watched. And I love how everyone is smiling at you. The people are pretty much laughing and smiling all day long, as if there was nothing they got to worry about. Yes, we fell in love with the country, even though it's been treating us so badly.

Cambodia in a nutshell (Part1)

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After pulling ourselves together (and stocking up with plastic bags weh had to through-up in puclib) we took a TukTuk to a village close to Siem Reap, where we were supposed to meet Song, a buddhist monk who set up an English school for orphanaged and underpriviliged children. We wanted to stay a few days and teach English. All this was organized via people we met along our travels and without a foreign "aid" development organization. We spent a couple of days in the middle of absolutely nothing and taught English to beautiful and hardworking kids. We absolutely loved it! The kids were so happy, even though they ate plain rice and water for breakfast, lunch, dinner and had nothing but rocks and sand to play with. Western iPhone/iPad-spoilt kids should definitely take a leaf out of this book.
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our bathroom and morning shower.
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The killing Fields in Pnomh Penh

I am really trying to rush through this, but there was so much happening that it is impossible to even come close to all of it now. So after Siem Reap finally let us go, we took (another) 8hour Bus to Pnomh Penh, Cambodias Capital. Stumbling out of the bus, exhausted and sick, we didn't rest (no rest for the wicked!) and took a TukTuk to the killing fields. We didn't have too much time, because we wanted to leave the buzzing city of PnomPenh as soon as possible and head down south to Sihanoukville (BEACH!) . Yep, another 8 hours bus journey, just a couple of hours later. Are we crazy? Maybe!
Anyways, the Killig Fields was one of the most terrible place i have seen so far. We wandered around the place, listening to our Audio guide, crying and almost throwing up again. It was horrible. I wont give any further explanation now, as my blog entry written in passing wont do any justice to Cambodias interesting but heartbreaking history. It would take me several days to write about it properly and I dont have the time to do so and neither the strength to recall my feelings.
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Posted by Louisa31 23:07 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Lila and Lucky from Luxembourg are leaving Australia

The final day arrived!

all seasons in one day 45 °C

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Lila and me are going home and I'm actually sitting alone at the airport, already missing my better half. How am I supposed to sleep alone after 6 months of sharing a bed (or something similar. However you want to call it) with her!? Our last weeks down under were filled with fun as usual. Some people might not find it funny but we do. Hihi.

We took a flight to Cairns to fulfill the mission (diving the Great Barrier Reef) and the reason I came to Australia. We left all our stuff in Brisbane at Gerry and Niklas' place (also called: the German asylum) and started the trip with only a few T-shirts, shorts, bikini and a towel. We realised that it IS actually possible to travel that light (even though it's not guaranteed to always smell like roses) and now we know that our next trip together will reach a higher level: only one small rucksack will have to be enough. We used to tell people we met along our short trip to cairsn that we have been traveling 8 months with only that little luggage. We were treated like a goddess and felt so superior. Haha...

Anyways when we landed in Cairns we decided to walk the way from the Airport to the Hostel, because we thought that Cairns was only a small province. It was. On the map. Compared to the rest 8.600.000 km² Australia has to offer. In fact, it was a veeery long way from the airport to the Hoster. There we walked in the middle of the night along a rural street, telling each other stories about backpacker murderers... Suddenly the police approached and stopped next to us, asking if we went completely nuts. At the same time, I turned around and saw a big sign saying: Achtung Krokodile, dont walk, swim or camp here (yes it was written in GERMAN! WTF...) The police told us that we were actually taking a walk on crocodile territory and should get in the car immediately. They gave us a lift to the highway and we continued walking and laughing about what just happened, until another police car stopped and said we should get in the car immediately. They explained us that someone was following us all the way and they assumed it to be a group of drunk indigenous people. They gave us a lift to the next hostel and Jess' and my laughter got quiet. But still we were content and happy to get a private VIP lift from the airport to our destination. Entering the Hostel, the guy at the reception was confused about the police presence at our arrival and after telling him what has happened he gave us the night for free, because... I don't know. He maybe kind of liked us...Or maybe, he did not expect us to live much longer and felt sorry.
The next days, we did what backpackers do in Cairns, we went to the rainforest, the waterfalls and of course to the Great Barrier Reef. Talking about the letter, it was exceptional and simply the best diving experience I ever had. All the underwater pictures and movies you might have seen are nothing compared to the beauty of the reef in real life. I could continue declaring my love for hours, but I better hurry up. So it's been simply unexplainable and you better find out yourself (sorry that's very short now but I mean it). You should take some seasick pills with you if your going on board (or maybe morphine, because these pills didn't work for the two of us and we ended up throwing up all day.)
We spend all our money on outdoor activities in beautiful Cairns and then realised that we have to get back to Brisbane somehow so i can attend my flight back home. Unfortunately, Brisbane is roughly 2000km away from Cairns. No money. No return ticket. We didn't even hesitate and decided to hitchhike all the way down. Adventure, adventure...
The first person picking us up dropped us off 20ks outside Cairns at a petrol station from where we actually planned to make some new trucker friends, our favorite travel companions. But when we arrived, the police (we slowly got to know every police men in Cairns. :-) was standing there and we decided to talk to them, maybe they could give us a lift again. The police wasn't convinced and actually worried about our plans. Traitors.
They checked our identity, took our details and some pictures as well. So in case anything happens, they at least knew where to search for our bodies. Or its leftovers. And to have pictures for the News around the world. Great motivation, thanks.
But it turned out they were wrong (what else) and we soon met these two long-haired Australian bushmen, who traveled down to Brisbane and took us all the way. Their houses burned down in Cairns and now they had to find a new place to live, why not move to Brisbane?
We had to stop every hour though, so they could drink a beer or smoke a joint for better concentration...
We spent the next two days with them, sleeping under the car and talking about everything and nothing, driving all together for 15 hours. With that we managed to hitchhike almost all the way along the east coast of Australia without being raped or killed, which is good.
In the aftermath, we found out that hitchhiking is illegal in Queensland and charged up to 400$ by offence. Our guardian angels did a brilliant job again!

I've had enough of all of this now. I'm so looking forward to be going home, to be picked up from the airport and have a beautiful bed all for myself. No more being lost in a foreign city again, broke and hungry...
-for now.
And to see all my beaufitul friends and my family and everything that is there to see again.

There is no place like home, i learned, no place at all.

45degrees C difference in temperature, here i come!

Posted by Louisa31 07:56 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Some "Wolf Creek" shit (OR: How to save money in OZ)

all seasons in one day 34 °C

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In fact, we decided against taking Bobby, the rund-down car no. 2, across Australia.
This mature and responsible decision didn't evolve out of our own common senses. (Surprise!) A mechanic, who had a brief look at Bobby laughed out loud and told us that if we actually want to end up at the eastcoast alive, we should get the car crushed...
We tried to sell it on www.gumtree.com.au to get at least some money out of it, but this act proved difficult, because we knew absolutely nothing about the car, except its brand and we didn't have any papers either. (Remember, some friendly bushman gave it to us in the middle of the desert, when our van broke down. Of course we had other problems at that time than caring about papers...)

Anyway, we took a flight to Melbourne and caught up with our favorite rockstar Chris, whom we met in Indonesia. He showed us around the city and took us to some...interesting music gigs. There was for example this heroin addicted (or so) band performing songs about a chair. Or this other song about knives raping a womans body...
Besides we also went to the Great Ocean Road, where we enjoyed spectacular scenic views and beautiful beaches. We also played that game called koala spotting. A whole day and a few koalas later, we concluded that they were ugly, fat and boring and headed back to Melbourne.
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We spent another few days in beautiful, artsy Melbourne, got a tattoo and a piercing and then hitchhiked to Sydney. (I really, really love this sentence.)
We were lucky again, because we met this relaxed trucker called Alex who gave us a lift up to a place called Dubbo, which is roughly 750ks away from Melbourne and only 4 hours before sydney. It took us ages for these 750ks. But then we finally made it to Dubbo in the middle of the night (at that point, we of course had no idea where exactly in Australia Dubbo was placed) and the next day, we had to stand beside the sidewalk again, waving and smiling and hoping for someone to pick us up.
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And we were lucky again. Another trucker called Ian was going to Sydney to deliver some packages and we could get a lift. He was such a nice guy, offering us some beer leftovers from last night straight away and talking a lot about... Trucker stuff. And his family. He has seven kids and showed us a picture of his oldest daughter, who is planning on going to the states to work in a strip club. He was very proud.
We really like truckies and made new awesome friends along the trip.
People are always so sceptical when we tell them that trucks driven by strangers are our means of transport around Australia.
But our theory is that this species of men is not very likely to kill young female backpackers. They just enjoy some company along the long and boring drives across Australia.

Arriving in Sydney in one piece, we kind of started to like this no-budget lifestyle and did some couchsurfing. The first guy we stayed with, was really weird, a lost Hawaiian musician who was a bit too stoned for a monday night and a bit...dodgy in general.
When we woke up in the middle of the night discovering that our door was locked, we kind of panicked. We used the knive (our best friend these days) to open the lock and found out that it was just broken and not locked on purpose. HA!
Next day, we nicked off as quickly as possible and looked for some new hosts on www.couchsurfing.com ( Yeah, I know the experiences from last night didn't really let us grow) and found some other, this time really nice and caring guys.
THANK you! (15 funny people living in a huge hippie house directly next to the beach!)

First days in Sydney, we had absolutely no idea what to do next (déja vu: Perth and Melbourne) and since we don't own a travel guide or something alike, we were kind of lost (again) but happy. (?)

As you may have noticed, we enjoy our spontaneous lifestyle a lot and love to make new plans all the time. But this time we overdid it slightly. We changed our plans for the following weeks almost twice a day.
This is why:
We absolutely love Australia and its people. Traveling around here is ridiciuosly expensive but easy-going and realxing... A bit too easy for our liking though. Everyone speaks your language and there is a whole industry specialised on making your backpacking experience as comfortable and easy as possible.
We tried our best to make it a challenge and to get some adventure out of it, but after a while we kind of longed to return to the nerve-racking challenge in Southeast Asia. It is way more interesting up there (and beer is SO MUCH cheaper) and also the fellow traveler you meet up there are...just next level backpacking.
Down here they are... Kind of average. A bit boring even. (With some precious exceptions).
So our first plan was to go back to Asia. For ever. I mean, one week's expenses in Australia (lowest budget) could cover a month of awesome traveling in Asia!
Then we planned to go back just for a couple of months and leave OZ as soon as possible.
Then we realized that we needed some money for the flight tickets (hitchhiking doesn't work for airplanes unfortunately) and so we decided to look for work (again). And then we didn't want to miss Cairns or Byron Bay, saying we needed at least another month in OZ.
Slowly going crazy, we changed plans twice a day, just because we could. In the end, neither one of us knew what she actually wanted to do and see. Too many options! Too little money!

And then faith took the decision out of our hands: my mother told me that Uni took me in and i had to be back in Germany around mid of march if i wanted to attend the place. I completely forgot that i even applied for a place at uni and i had no clue which subject but after thinking about it, i realized that i wanted to go home soon, that i wanted see my friends and family so badly (i've been a bit homesick since christmas).
Plus I didn't want to desperately try and find a job again (and probably worst of all to finally WORK again) and also i didn't want to lose my mind with all those new plans. SO all the plans about going back to Bangkok or staying longer abroad changed one final time.
Now my flight back home is sorted (after i rescheduled it three times) and jess and me have another few weeks in Australia, where we can spend all the money we earned without worries and have a good time.
What i learned from all this coming-back hassle is NOT -contrary to expectations- stuff like: be more organised, stick to your plans or even to think properly before making them. Its more... How can I say: DONT EVER FUCKING BUY A RETURN TICKET in advance. You will suffer and cry. Better have some money left for a ticket and come back whenever you feel like it.

Aaaanyways. So then we decided to stay another month in OZ before going home, to travel up the eastcoast. There we checked out Byron Bay, met nice people and had a loose night out, but thunderstorms ruined our stay and we had to think about a plan B. (actually it would have been Plan Z by now, but never mind)
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Having fun carrying this shit through the rain.

And coincidentally (or let it be faith) we heard about this peaceful hippie village called Nimbin, just an hour away from Byron Bay. We decided to realx and come down for a few days.

NIMBIN
We caught a ride to nimbin and instantly fell in love with this cute little rainbow village so far away from real life. Its like Amsterdam but more of a secret and people trying to make you happy as soon as you get there with everything imaginable.
Nimbin has a high tolerance for cannabis, with the open buying, selling and consumption of locally grown cannabis on the streets and laneways. Everyone is relaxed, laid-back and happy. Some people were pretty fucked up though. Hardcore-hippies you could smell ten metres away.
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Jess, the desperate housewive, preparing my dinner <3

After a few days we decided it's time to go back to reality and continue our way to Brisbane. But before we left, we went to a pub. (Because this is what you do in Australia, you know.)
Entering the pub, we stood out with our huge backpacks and people started staring at us. This is when we met Greg, an elderly ozzy guy who asked us where we're planning on traveling next. I said we dont really know, because it always depends on where random people can take us with their cars. Then he offered to give us a lift to the Goldcoast (2 hours away from Nimbin). And once again Jess and me got into the car of a complete stranger, all happy and looking forward to the next destination. (It wasn't where we actually intended to go, but Hey Surfers Paradise sounds good, why not check it out?)
Greg turned out to be such a nice guy, who vistis Nimbin frequently and has seen every part of this country and lived in Tahiti for the last ten years. There he met his wife, who, unfortunately just recently left him.
When he offered us to stay at his appartment in Surfers Paradise, we have long decided that he is very unlikely to kill us. Hoping for our insight into human nature to be right once again, we moved into his house directly next to the river.
We enjoyed our stay there, looking at Tahitian photo albums, talking about god, the world and Nimbin. And when we decided to leave a few days later, he was really sad... :-(
But we had to move on, time is running and the weather at the Goldcoast was terrifying, rain and storms 24/7... What's WRONG with this country? Either on fire, flooded or blowing away! High five 21st century.
Now we're on our way to Brisbane to visit some friends and then the journey continues further north! I wont explain any detailed plans, since they've already been changing since i started writing this text.
But one thing is certain: i'm coming home in three weeks! I'm SO looking forward to it. I didn't realized how much I actually missed my old life until now. I miss you all. Lots of Love!

Posted by Louisa31 08:21 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

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