Melting Earth

Pretty stupid title, I know, but still, I’m happy to announce that my next submission was voted on interfacelift!

I shot this picture while trekking through the Nepalese Himalayas, actually on a day hike close to the village of Manang, where I stayed for two nights to acclimatize to the respective altitudes I was about to face the next days. The colors of this little lake were simply amazing (no photoshopping here!), it was pond of collected melt water from the glaciers around. We, that was the Russians and myself, found great amusement by throwing big stones into this turquoise tranquility down there. Just for the sound of it.

Again, almost 15,000 (!) downloads within the first two days, and counting. At least I think that’s quite amazing.

Here’s the link to ‘Melting Earth‘. 

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Off The Road

‘What are you going to do with yourself, Ed?’ I asked.
‘I don’t know’, he said, ‘I just go along. I dig life.’
– Jack Kerouac, On The Road

I think it was Alexander Huber who infested my with this idea of viewing ones life as a big book, every single day represented by a blank page that is yet to be filled. Some pages will display only a few words scratched on them, some are more like a whole magnificent book by themselves, featuring coloured illustrations and all. I still like to live and think by and with this analogy, it’s a beautiful one; And accordingly, I’m about to close a big chapter, 206 pages long and a hell of a read.

Flicking through it, one can read of snow-covered peaks, of real-life dragons, of endless road-trips, of those miseries of packing up a wet tent in the morning and putting it up again in the evening, of insightful conversations with total strangers that are about to become respected friends in just a minute’s time, of days filled with the longing for a home, of endless and empty beaches, of the best sunset imaginable, yes, one will even be advised to absolutely never leave the selling of a van to the very day prior to your departure. In short, I’ve done my best to fill each and every of those blank pages as colourful and vivid as I could. That was my mission – I think I did pretty well.

People will continue to ask, ‘So, tell me, what’s your favourite place of all?’ Well, there is no such place. It’s neither A nor B that matter, it’s everything in between. It was proven once again that flexibility is a traveller’s very best friend. In a nutshell, Nepal was a beautiful culture shock, still vivid in my mind. Thailand was a holiday from Nepal, a delight for all senses. Singapore a huge, modern city (yes, and it still is, in face I’m writing those lines whilst patiently waiting for my final connection at Singapore International Airport and, as it turned out, they offer public Internet kiosks free of charge; brilliant). Indonesia an adventure for its own, featuring a paradise of a millions islands and day-long delayed ferry rides. Australia a big and exciting road trip and a lot of deep blue. New Zealand an even bigger road trip (6349 km, in fact), a lot of magnificent rock and even more magnificent people. But you shouldn’t put anything in a nutshell, frankly – go ahead and write a book.

So, even seven month of intense travelling around the globe have to come to an end, eventually. It will be a whole new idea to work through those memories – there were simply too many to be processed instantly. Doubtless to say, those seven month were the most adventurous and exciting of my life. Of course. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. Of course. I would do it again. Of course.
But now, I’m off the road, I’m coming home. And I’m glad to.

If there is one sole conclusion that has to be drawn from my first extended trip around the world, than this is it: It surely hasn’t been my last one.

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My Asia

[warning: this might get a bit poetic.]

My Asia was a bucket shower.
My Asia was a million smiles.
My Asia was the best food I’ve ever had.
My Asia was bitter cold and blazing hot.
My Asia was a scorpion in the bathroom.
My Asia was the ugliest place I’ve ever been to.
My Asia was the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to.
My Asia was a hazardous motorbike ride.
My Asia was a great novel.
My Asia was a shitton of rice.
My Asia was a cheap drug.
My Asia was cruel poverty.
My Asia was a canceled flight.
My Asia was a rooster in the night bus.
My Asia was a real-life dragon.
My Asia was climbing way too high up.
My Asia was one hard bargain.
My Asia was an overcrowded bus ride.
My Asia was a ridiculously hot cilli sauce.
My Asia was an extended love affair.
My Asia was a mosquito bite.
My Asia was everything between -30m and +5450m.
My Asia was a Bintang Shirt.
My Asia was an elephant ride.
My Asia was facing real poverty.
My Asia was the wonderful people I met.
My Asia was 91 days of pure excitement.
My Asia will see me again.

[I just couldn’t help it.]

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Nepal: Facts

I decide to through out some more pictures as eight are just not enough after all; and since pictures without text look stupid, here are some must-know important facts about wonderful Nepal:

  • Driving on a local bus in Nepal boosts you to the same Adrenaline level as B.A.S.E jumping
  • I am too tall for this country
  • Driving on a local bus in Nepal features about the same survival rate as B.A.S.E jumping
  • You can bargain the price of a beer in about any given restaurant
  • By far the most convenient (and adventurous) way to drive on a local Nepali bus is on its top
  • There are a few things that are available everywhere literally everywhere in Nepal: Coca Cola & Sprite (sometimes Fanta), Mars & Snickers (sometimes Twix), and Pringles (mostly greed and red ones). Tabbed water does not count to those things.
  • Left-hand traffic also accounts for people – and donkeys
  • Never try to save a few rupees on toilet paper – the experience is just not worth it

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Nepal in a Nutshell

My journey started the way any decent journey is supposed to start: with a major hangover and some Aspirin trying to fight it. Still digesting the, as I remember, two or three good-bye-Europe-beers I’ve had I was though excited for the trip afar. So to Kathmandu I flew (rhyme!).

And here I am, three weeks later. Each of those days here in Nepal featured such a vast amount of new and exciting impressions and experiences that I could write a blog post five to six pages long every day, still missing details. But because I’ve better things to do than writing blog posts and you with your busy life’s out there got better things to do than reading blog posts, here’s Nepal in a Nutshell.

To begin with, this is simply impossible. Nepal is one of the poorest and at the same time most astonishing and beautiful countries in the world. Everyone will tell you that, I can now approve. To study especially much of the countryside and beloved Nature, I’ve been on a trekking tour circling the Annapurna massive in central Nepal for the last 18 days. Without Internet, without a cell phone, and, sometimes, without electricity after all; utterly enjoyable.

The trek itself was not at all technically challenging, but carrying a 18kg rucksack for 250km and up a 5416m pass is a different story. But on the bright side, my pack got lighter and lighter every day as I kept using more and more toothpaste. I guess I could have packed lighter – so I carried my climbing shoes and chalk all the way for the sake of defining one (in numbers: 1) but world-class boulder problem at 3600m altitude (I propose V5/V6 – details and location on request). Furthermore, I found out the hard way that it actually gets painfully cold above 4000m. Anyway, the trek proved to be the perfect choice since I’ve witnessed a county so diverse that it was hard to believe that I am, somehow, still in Nepal. More, I felt like walking through four exceedingly different countries (with the common denominator that they served Dal Bhat in all of those countries) within just a few days: Starting deep in a rich, sub-tropical jungle, ascending to a desert surrounded by 7000m peaks, followed by a high alpine setting including snow showers, and finally strolling through rough Tibetan highlands with storm-like wind dusts.

Such a diversity is hard to grasp – if possible at all, only with a few days delay. Besides those almost unreal landscapes, the culture and people of Nepal deserve an equal share. To be honest, it takes its time to realize that you are actually trekking through a third-world country – and that that camera you just pointed to picture that cute little Nepali kid is probably worth more than this very kid will earn his or her entire life. I also started with the mission of not taking too many pictures – only the very picturesque moments should be covered. I kept to this mission – and ended up with 700 pictures. Here are some random four of them:

But as everything on this planet, also the Annapurna Circuit has its drawbacks: namely road construction. The plan to connect Manang to the main “highway” system destroys quite some otherwise peaceful trekking hours. So whoever is thinking of doing that trek should do it, well, now.

After all those days of walking and constantly moving on, I am now back to (well, relatively speaking) civilization in Pokhara where I’ll relax my tired feet and stuff my notoriously empty stomach – so if you’d excuse me, I’ll be lounging down at the lake, sipping on a Lassi and trying to delete at least 350 of those pictures. Ah, how peaceful a phenomena a lake.

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