Three nights in Simatai, a small village at the foot of the Great Wall in China.
While the Chinese still prefer to go to Badaling ("Why travel far to see a piece of wall?") we opt for Simatai, a small village at the foot of the wall about three hours drive from Beijing. Our scheduled night at Simatai becomes two nights, then three ... It's hard to say goodbye to such a fantastic place.read more
A few days on the beach in the Chinese metropolis of Qingdao.
"Big city? Not at all!" exclaims the Chinese businessman with a broad smile, "Qingdao by our standards is but a very small place, you know!" Well, we silently and heartily disagree. To call a city with over 2.5 million people small! Qingdao in recent years has been modernized and is now blessed with an amazing speed rail link with Beijing.read more
Report of a visit to Wutai Shan, one of the four sacred mountains of China.
Longing for a place to escape the crowds, the heat, the smog and bustle of Beijing, you're soon on the bus to Wutai Shan. Fresh mountain air, ornate temples, a peaceful and spiritual atmosphere: pretty much the features of this area. But now I am conveniently omitting the seven-hour devil's ride over winding mountain roads, past polluting coal mines, long hours waiting in an endless traffic jam of roaring trucks ... And I am right to do so, because Wutai Shan is still a place well worth visiting.read more
Our three nights stay in a most unusual motel on the coast of Oman.
There’s much action going on in As Suwaiq. Siesta is over, shops have opened up again and everyone seems to have taken to the streets. We drive through the narrow alleys, past a shabby beach and a magnificent fort. It’s time we inquire about directions. “Sir, do you know where we can find Motel As Suwaiq?”. A surprised and mysterious smile and then an outstretched arm pointing inland.read more
An account of a two weeks journey with car and tent through Estonia.
The Baltic States, and especially Estonia, are an excellent alternative to Scandinavia. The same dense woods, crystal clear lakes and lonely roads, but (for the time being) much cheaper and much less visited by tourists. In Estonia you will not only find unspoilt nature, but also remnants of a rich history; besides the numerous romantic castles and medieval towns, also the Soviet barracks have their own tales to tell.read more
Aukstaitija is the first national park of Lithuania with a size of over 400 square kilometers.
Surprised we scan the empty campsite. There is not one tent! What a joke; in the car we had been discussing it: what if the campsite would be fully booked? In Nida, on the Lithuanian coast, it had been packed with tents and campers. After all, this is the high season. Plenty of wasps are buzzing over the grass, they seem to have the place all to themselves. The sun is carefully trying to appear. Fortunately, as during our 110 kilometer ride from Vilnius - the capital of Lithuania - to Paluse it had rained continuously.read more
Story about a two nights stay at Cuc Phuong National Park in Vietnam.
On the way from Ninh Binh to Cuc Phuong National Park the damage caused by typhoon Damrey, that raged over the country one and a half week ago, becomes apparent. A large part of the rice fields is under water, with the tops of little temples barely sticking out, as if crying for help. Even in the park some fifteen percent of the forest seems to have been destroyed by the storm.read more
Visit to the Mam indians of Todos Santos Cuchumatán in the mountains of western Guatemala.
I'm afraid I cannot think of anything nice to say about Huehuetenango (or just “Huehue”). I arrived here yesterday from Mexico and ever since I have seen nothing but rubbish and ugliness. It already started while driving up here by bus: an American girl was reading a book and she crumpled up each page that she had read and threw it out of the window, just like that!read more
Four days at the base of the Erg Chebbi, the Sahara of Morocco.
Along the side of the road we are waiting for a grand-taxi to Tinerhir.It is still early in the morning; for once we have skipped breakfast. The elderly English couple that has also spent the night in our little hotel, is busy stuffing all their belongings in a little car while sighing heavily. Ibrahim sees us standing there and with wild gestures he suggests we better get in the car with them.read more
Visit to the Inca indians of tiny Isla Taquile in the highest lake of South America, Lake Titicaca, in Peru.
From Puno we leave by boat to Taquile, a distance of about 45 km. On the way we stop for a while at “the floating islands” of the Uro indians, and after four hours of sailing we arrive at the small island of Taquile, situated in the Peruvian part of Lake Titicaca (the other half of the lake belongs to Bolivia). Lake Titicaca lies at a height of 3820 meter, and is therefor the highest navigable lake in the world.read more
Travelstory about a trip to Isla Navarino, in the southernmost part of Chili.
Two weeks ago we made the reservation by telephone from Puerto Natales. The freightboat with room for twenty-two passengers leaves about once every fortnight from Punta Arenas to Puerto Williams on the island of Navarino, southernmost place in Chilean Patagonia. It remained uncertain for a while, whether or not, and when, a boat would leave. But as soon as we heard a date was fixed, we booked our passage!read more
Journey through the west of Panama, from Bocas del Toro in the north to Isla Boca Brava in the south.
Slowly we cross the bridge into Panama. Beneath us flows the Rio Sixaola, making up the border with Costa Rica. What a lovely view we have of the river and its lush banks; it is not often that one sees such a beautiful border! From the village of Sixaola in Costa Rica we are on our way to Guabito in Panama, where we eat a little before we hop on the next bus. Our trip of a couple of months through Central America is coming to an end and we only have one week left. Instead of spending this week in Costa Rica (our flight back is from San José), we have decided to visit the west of Panama.read more
A ride on the unique jungle-train of Borneo.
From the two front-chairs in the bus we have a good view of the road and the surroundings. And, at the same moment, of the steep mountain slopes, the precipices, the flooded and washed away asphalt and the cat-and-mouse game between the cars and buses on the road: overtaking, breaking, accelerating, overtaking again. It is a hellish ride of 60 kilometers to Tambunan. We are on the way from Kota Kinabalu to Tenom, in order to return to Kota Kinabalu the next morning by jungle train. The initial thirty kilometers we wind up through the woods to the top of the Crocker Range, a protected mountain range that runs parallel to the west coast of Sabah.read more
A visit to the Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary of Labuk Bay, Sabah.
“Click, click, click” goes my camera, and I look through the lens to focus on that huge proboscis monkey, that is sitting so proud and sturdy on a tree-trunk. Click! Those photos are going to be beautiful. Then all of a sudden, “boom, boom, boom” it goes, the floor beneath me begins to shake, people begin to scream. It all happens so fast. When I turn around to look behind me, he is sitting right there: one of those giant monkeys. He is sitting at the edge of the verandah and is staring at us,read more
Stay at the Vietnamese island of Quan Lan, the last island before the open sea.
Even with the map of Hon Gai in our hands we cannot find our way. The town is spread-out, and our map minimal. No one speaks English and time is running out. To think that we assumed two hours time was more than enough to get from Bai Chay to Hon Gai, on the other side of the water. A gigantic bridge between the two towns is being built. Together they form Halong City; a name little known among the Vietnamese. The more popular though among the tourists that come in hundreds, thousands to stay in touristy Bai Chay.read more
Story about trekking the Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia.
Alongside the road we sit and wait patiently for the bus to be repaired. Just fifteen minutes ago we left Puerto Natales for Torres del Paine National Park. Our backpacks are filled with food for about two weeks survival; there is loads of stuff to buy in the shops of. The bus broke down and for a while it looks like today we are not going to get anywhere - it is today's last bus. But after an hours work we are able to continue our journey and at seven - after a four hour drive - we arrive at the Guardería of Laguna Amarga. There is much wind. Next to the water we put up our tent, on swampy grounds.read more
Story about a climb up the top of the Matterhorn, including an account of the events concerning the first ascent of the Matterhorn.
Through the Mattertal - probably the most visited valley in Switzerland - we drive to Täsch in the southernmost part of the country. Here the road comes to a dead end and we have to leave our car behind on the enormous parking lot. By train we travel the remaining five kilometers to Zermatt. We are near the border with Italy; a border formed by an almost inpenetrable wall of mountains.read more