My neighborhood and the blue mountains

Hey ho

i moved to Coogee, 4minute walk to the beach.
It is very beautiful. To bad that it is so cold, and it started raining today… but in the morning you can sit by the beach.
It is wonderful to watch the waves crashing into the rocks and if you are lucky you see whales breaching through the sea.
You can put up your hammock in the trees and just enjoy life.
Last weekend i went sailing again, the boat “Mojo” looks like a spaceship and gets really fast. Our bowsprit broke while flying the kite/spinnaker so we lost the race. Next weekend it will be fixed and we will hopefully win!

This weekend Rose and I went for a trip to the blue mountains. It is the mountain range just 1.5h west of Sydney and it is incredibly beautiful.
It is a place full with steep cliffs and waterfalls everywhere. We slept in our car, but it got soooo cold over night. It is winter here after all, and in the mountains it is even colder.
The next morning was so freezing my hands turned all numb. During the day however the sun came out and it became nice and warm.
We saw the 3 sisters, a rock formation with a special story:

Three sisters, Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo had a father who was a witch doctor.
His name was Tyawan.
Long ago there was a Bunyip who lived in a deep hole who was feared by all. Passing the hole was considered very dangerous, therefore whenever Tyawan had to pass the hole in search for food, he would leave his daughters safely on the cliff behind a rocky wall.
One fateful day, Tyawan waved goodbye to his daughters and descended down the cliff steps into the valley. Meanwhile at the top of the cliff, Meenhi was frightened by a large centipede which suddenly appeared before her. Meenhi took a stone and threw it at the centipede. The stone continued on its journey and rolled over the cliff, crashing into the valley below which angered the Bunyip.
The rocky wall behind Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo then began to split open and the three sisters were left stranded on a thin ledge at the top of the cliff.
All the birds, animals and fairies stopped still as the Bunyip emerged to see the terrified girls. As the Bunyip began to approach the girls, to protect them from harm, their father Tyawan used his magic bone to turn them into stone.
Angered by this, the Bunyip then began to chase Tyawan. Becoming trapped, in order to flee from the Bunyip, Tyawan changed into a magnificent Lyre Bird, yet in the process dropped his magic bone.
Tyawan and his three daughters were now safe from the Bunyip. Once the Bunyip had disappeared, Tyawan returned in search of his magic bone, yet this was never to be found.
The Lyre Bird has been searching for this magic bone ever since. Remaining in rock formation, The Three Sisters stand silently overlooking the valley hoping that one day he’ll find the bone and turn them back to former selves.
When visiting The Three Sisters, if you listen carefully you may be able to hear the Lyre Bird, Tyawan, as he continues his quest for his lost magic bone.

So there is definitely magic in these mountains, and as if planned, we found a magic gate that took us to an enchanted part of the jungle where we got a little lost, found some Ents, heard Dragons and saw a bigfoot on the street 😉

Roses visa is up soon, so she will do a visa run to Fiji and hopefully be back soon.

So long
Ole
p.s. i haven’t seen a single soccer world championship game. But i am happy we won the title 😉

A bestialic beauty: Vanuatu

For everybody who does not understand the title, Vanuatu is beautiful, like a rough untempered diamond.
It is incredible.
I feel like i have been transported to jurassic park or lord of the rings. The rough beauty of this place is breath taking!
We arrived in Espiritu Santo on the 4. of november and visisted the Blue Hole, a lagoon in midst of the mangroves. The ride through the forest, i am afraid my vocabulary of complete awe is limited, was incredible. It looks so untouched, you expect dinosaurs to appear around the corner. At the blue hole, we had loads of fun with a rope swing that was connected to one of the trees from Avatar.
From E. Santo we went to see pentecost, where we anchored next to some dugongs, beautiful creatures. We had a long walk through a paradisical island, little villages, crystal clear streams, coconut trees (i just love them 🙂 ) and lava rocks. (please forgive me, i just list this stuff as if it was nothing, but its just so many cool things that happen here) We picked up some hermit crabs which we raced in the evening.
After that we had a short crossing to the next island, Ambrym with two active volcanos.
We climbed one of them.
The trip that was expected t take 8h took us 12 instead…11h of straight walking. I voluteered to carry the camaera eqippment of our filmmaker…lets just say it was quite a workout 🙂 but the view was unique, we saw plants which should be extinct and a vulcano, sadly it was very foggy while we were up there, so no lava, instead we had “lord of the rings”- atmosphere… but we could see the glow of the boiling rocks from our boat.
We also went to see the Custom Kastom dancing, which turned out to be a tourist trap, but who cares the dancing itself was quite cool. The dancers stomped so heavy the floor was vibrating.
Yesterday we had a short stop in a bay with fantastic coral, the most alive we have seen in a while.
It is quite scary to see all this coral dying everywhere. The whole aquatic ecosystem is based on them. Without corals there are no breeding grounds for fish, without fish there is major trouble.
It is 12o’clock, we now suffer the effects of the global warming made in the 60ies, the worst is still to come. (excuse my pessimistic worldview, i can’t help it)

But enough darkness, i got some colors for you:

Palau, the end of the rainbow

Palau is awesome!
And expensive, but i suppose thats what you get when you have to import everything from the US.

I feel like i have been captured in a travel catalogue.
The sea is crystal clear and bright blue.
Corals are growing everywhere, even in the channel of the capitol.
Parrotfish, pufferfish, sharks, turtles, little Nemos, and basically everything you think they normally make up so the movie looks more colorful.

I started my SCUBA-Course and have been diving to 30m depth, and emerging an element that we are not made for is pretty insane.
Yet amazingly beautiful!
A turtle can look right into you. No wonder every culture considers them wise.
Sharks are like the lions of the sea.
It is like discovering an alien world…well actually it is discovering an alien world.

Although this group of islands has an almost untouched wildlife, one can see coral bleaching, invasive species destoying the reefs.
If you see the masses of fish that are around at some of the sites, and you know 100 years ago it looked like this or even more alive all over the world,
it makes me sad a little. This last fortress of conservation is attacked by global pollution and climate change.
They say in about 20 years there will probably not be any coral left.
I feel like an ambassador, and in a couple of decades i would probably considered to be a eye witness.

 

I love freediving, i like it more than SCUBA.
It is quiet and peaceful, you don’t have all this gear with you and you don’t get headaches from compressed nitrogen 🙂
The air bubbles next to my ears are very annoying when breathing out.
But at the same time both sports have different advantages, with scuba you can actually interact with the animals.
Get the attention of a Napoleon Wrasse that then nibbles your fins and lets you pet its tail.
Look a turtle in the eye, get close to a sleeping shark….


i enjoy every last bit of it.
so long Ole

The Issan Rockets and Glass-Hill forest monastry

After taking a bus from Laos to Thailand i am in Thailand now.
Wait a moment… i don’t know why but something is of with that beginning sentence.

I arrived in Si Sa Ket, a town that apparently has a temple completely made out of recycled bottles…and a town of which i only saw a pretty but pretty expensive hotel for the night where the Internet shut down regularily..

But from there i went to Huay Tap Tan to meet Tony’s friend Noi.
She is an elementary school teacher for handicrafts and taught me how to make a palm leaf hat.
Also she can massage very well.

Then i went to the Monastery her brother leads.
And spent 5 relaxing days there, amazing food in the morning, 2-4 showers, and a little meditation.

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One day we were sent to go to see the Issan Rockets…rockets, but they don’t explode when they are up.
“Fireworks that doesn’t explode…sounds a little boring” i thought to myself, and i won’t judge you if you think the same.
Well we all could not be more wrong!

Did i promise to much? I have never seen something that incredible.
The rocket we carried actually won the event with a height of 370m about 1 213.9 feet…as i said, i don’t want to be there when the rocket comes down!
Tomorrow i will go to Bangkok my definite and last stop in Thailand.
Let’s see how crazy it really is.
So Long (and without a sunset)
OLE

Goodbye Laos – A last road trip (Tha Khaek Loop)

actually its more like 2 roadtrips…but who cares right?
I could tell you i climbed the mount everest post a few pictures of snow and fog and you would believe me.
You know in fact i am sitting in front of a giant green screen in New York, Germany and didn’t move for 8++ month…

I have no idea how this came out of me right now

Hitchhiking from Luang Prabang to Tha Khaek:
We won by one day…and actually hitchhiking
But that doesn’t matter at all, because hitchhiking competitions are like rolling a dice and getting certain number combinations first…what thats a game? Never mind then.
We were extremely lucky…like rolling a Yatzee 5x in a row.
The longest we waited was 10min and nobody ever asked us to pay anything, the opposite we were invited for food twice and i was forced to drink once…well i sacrificed myself for the competition…but to explain to a chinese couple that doesn’t speak 10 words of english, that you don’t eat meat and don’t drink alcohol, when they invite you for food, is both difficult and disrespectful in my set of reality.

Anyhow we got to our goal in 3 Hitchiking and 4 real days.
By the way – if you need an international drivers license GET IT AT HOME!!! At least if you are German…

In ThaKhaek we had to walk about 2km into the city, and then slept in some roadside motel because it was getting stormy…like real stormy (see the pictures)

Hitchhiking works really good though…maybe i will enhance the hitchwiki regarding this topic

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The Day after arriving in our destination, we found Gemma the Italian girl and decided to do the THA KHAEK – Motorcycle Loop.
We rented 2 bikes, the chinese ones are totally enough, even though the modern ones look cooler.
And drove about 500 Km in 3.5 days….a lot of fun! and dirt! and a burned spot on my leg (i totally forgot, that the exhaust is flamin hot after driving and leaned against my bike…stupid Ole!) and Sticky Rice

There is so much i could talk about now
Lets stick with a short version 😉
We went around the loop clock-wise
1) Blue Lagoon – very nice, but the road is quite hard
green/blue milky water that comes fresh from an underwater spring
(5000 LKip)
2) Konglor Cave – Huge…no seriously…this cave is 7.something km long and, i think i start repeating myself, huge. Bring a good flashligh!
(100,000 Lkip/boat for 3 + 5000LKip/person)
3)Sleeping on the other side of the cave in Ban Nathane
Very beautiful home stay, they fixed my machete, we played a lot of cards with the kids, maybe you can teach them a new game when you go there.
But when we got back to the boatplace we had, after about 2h of fighting, to pay again.
We put up a sign that says it now, please look if it is still there (which i strongly doubt)
4)MangKone Cave, free entry (for us)
looks like a sight seeing spot from communist times, beautiful though
bring powerful flashlights and don’t be afraid of mud if you go in the main cave…the side cave has some old buddha statues, it is like in a dream
5) The Terrible road, we were lucky, it was only dirty, and that because i took every pothole i could possibly find to make our bike (and my shoes for that matter) look like a little adventure. Not to bad…
If you reach the Dead Lake, you know it’s almost over…and you reached a very nice picture spot….or if you come counterclock-wise you know its going to become worse
Sleep at Sawatdee guesthouse…ignore what possible commissioners told you 🙂
6)Tha Falang
a place to take a bath yes, but not as nice as you would wish
there are pointy rocks in the middle, on which you can stand (if you find them in the milky water)
7) a small cave on the way about 10km away from ThaKhaek
Xang cave possibly
10000/per person for a guide who is going to show you a very beautiful biiig cave that you won’t expect…a nice place to swim (more beautiful than Tha Falang)

Thats it, if you do the loop, you will probably start at 7 and go to 1, but the other way is nice too.

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Some words concerning freedom:
My mother asked my to realize that i am free.
I tried, but i in fact realized something else.
I am free, you would say. I am touring around where ever i want, going to places that are beautiful. Doing things i like.
But i don’t feel much more free than you…or less.
Everybody is free, it is the limits we set ourselves.
I have an appointment on the 14th of june, which stresses me out a little bit. I have Visas and other deadlines that push me
I have a goal: to travel around the world.
With this this goal there are responsibilities and limitations that arise completely by its self.
You have Goals too:
Finish you bachelor, make a game, build a house, find a partner, finish your education or what ever it is that you want to achieve.
With this goal you yourself put those limitations on yourself.
You are as free as you want to be!
So long Ole

p.s. Laos is a beautiful quiet slowmotion country.
Chinese money is eventually going to “ruin” it from my point of view.
Food: Noodlesoup (Föh)
Sticky rice (Kao niau)
words:hello- Sabaidee
thank you -khop jai
no- bo
go-pai
how much-taorai
no meat – bo sai seen
no have money – bo mee ngoen

Nong Kiaw+Muang Noi – Welcome to the Jungle

After PeeMai (thai: Songkran) I found some travel companions other than my backpack. A Kiwi couple Sanji and Catelyn (People from New Zealand), One Italian girl (Gemma) and one Dutch girl(Roos). So we were a colorful mix 🙂 We made our way by bus to Nong Kiaw. It is a beautiful “city” in midst of huge limestone walls, the Nam Ou river and Jungle where ever you look. We decided to camp near the river, which was a nice thing to do, if it wasn’t for the rain in the night…but my huge backpack includes a big tarp, so we got out dry after all 😉

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After 2 nights we went on to Muang Noi, a serene place that is only reachable by boat and was supposed not to have any electricity…but we arrived one week late.
Chinese money and a mass of seasonal tourists slowly modernize the country.
At least there was no Internet…yet.
One night and two all you can eat buffets later we started a supposedly easy one-day-trek to the next small village Ban HoySien , that really did not have electricity yet (at least only self produced)
On our way there we got to know about a tribal village that was “only” 3h trek after HoySien.
There we asked the guest house owner for the way and got a really confusing description that got us almost killed… am i exagerating? A little maybe. But if we did not have a guardian angel in the form of a local hunter appear to us, we would have walked straight into…..Damn, i almost took away the suspension.
We only saw what was coming after one more hour of walking, but i cannot make you read for one hour, can i?
The Hunter told us with an relieved face (relieved that he found us) , that the Village we were looking for was the other direction.
When we were asking what was in the way we were going he made a motion with his hands and said something like “Fire-fire” and “No-No”
We just trusted his directions and walked back, almost lost our path again and then we saw the other side of the valley lit up in flames.
It was the biggest fire i have ever seen…by far. I think the flames were about 7-8 meters high, and covered a huge area!

After we recovered from this shock, we went on…to find ourselves in the next tricky situation.
You probably know how the Lonly Planet advertises it can get you “off the beaten track” well we were literally looking for it…there was just no pathway anymore. Leeches were everywhere, crawling through the holes made for shoe laces…brrr
but we found a promising path after wading through 50m of creek…and it seemed to be the right.
We were so relieved when a Tribe couple came along this path to tell us we were back on track.
But soon our water reserves, which were not planned for a 5h but for a 3h trek, were exausted. That’s when our second guardian angel appeared, he brought us all the way to the Kamu-village showed us a small creek to refill the water (no i did not get sick from it…and it was better than dying of thirst 😉 )

The Village Ban KiuKaan is a barren, a little bit depressing place.
Everything is done for survival, the men are hunters, the women collect bamboo.
It is self-sufficient, but its not an easy life on top of the mountain.
But the children develop games anyways, with what ever they have, in this case two big flat round seeds…for a game at which i am not very good at 😀
I tried my best.
The next day we walked to Ban Hatsepui, a long but easy trek, we were really relieved after all this walking in the sun with about 39 degrees to see the Nam Ou.
Ban Hatsepui is a much more happy place, the grounds seem to be fertile, the river is directly adjacent and the children have an open smile on their faces. In short it was way easier to get integrated in the children’s activities, then in the Kamu-village. They actually invited us to play their games.
Finding a stone on the rocky riverbed, that is thrown in again and again (wow these kiddies are fabulous swimmers…butterfly, freestyle etc. with 8 years) or shooting slingshots at supposedly impossible targets.
Games i guess, that will help in later life…but so easygoing.
I really enjoyed this village. Teaching them cardgames, juggling, getting shown around in town, painting fingernails, running around etc. just having a lot of fun together.
And the Adults watched happily somebody is finally powering out their children 😀
Then we took the morning boat back to Muang Noi, and relaxed there for a few days.
And the rainy season started….but thats stuff for the next entry 😛
Enjoy:

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Now our group splitt, me and Roos have a hitchhiking competition with the other three. Who can reach Tachek first…bad only that it seems to be raining every day 😕
we will see
So long Ole

Goodbye Pai, tribes and sunsets

I enjoyed easter, made an evil April fools joke with my friends at home and relaxed a lot!
Now it is time to move again.
Next big stop: Nan
then LAOS!!! YEEHAA!! …hrrm…or something like this

I picked up the ukulele and really consider getting one for my big boat journey from the Philippines to Australia.
Ukuleles are just so much more social then a Didgeridoo 😉

Anyhow that was a short post so enjoy the new gallery:

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I can only recommend Pai! it is amazing here!
I love you all 🙂
So long Ole

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