Welcome to our blog

Welcome to our blog. During the coming year we travel (backpack) around the world and will try to regularly post some updates on our whereabouts on this page.

Sonntag, 27. März 2011

Last minute decision: Let's go to Bali, Indonesia!

PART 1 of our Indonesia adventure

The first 2 nights we stayed in Sanur, Bali. Right on the main street. Too many tourists, too many shops, way too touristy, we lived in a busy tourist street in Bangkok already and were now ready for 'a calmer place'.
It did not take long to board a local boat to Nusa Lembongan, or Lembongan Island. An 1-hour direct trip from Sanur to the small town of Jungutbatu.

Around 80% of the people on Lembongan work on / or own seaweed farms in the shallow ocean waters.

Patches in the water are the seaweed farms, every 2 weeks they can be harvested, it takes 3 sunny days to dry it 40%, before it can be sold to a large cooperation.

Seaweed can be found in foods like icecream, it is a natural gelatine, it is also used in cosmetics, soap, and other body care products.

Seaweed farming is hard work.

 Most families have small boats to do the farm work

Carrying the seaweed home.

The people in Bali are very religious, they believe in all kinds of Gods and giving offers is a daily, time consuming routine.
It is quite interesting to watch.

Offers in front of a temple.

The black and white cloth represents good (white) and bad (black). Offers are made to a range of statues.

Ladies on the way to the temple for a special, large offering ceremony. The fruits are blessed and can be taken home after the ceremony.
Offers at the temple.
Over the 9 days we were in Lembongan, we heard a lot about how people live on the island, their work, their religion, and a range of other subjects.

We close this blog with some sunset pictures, taken from our doorstep at the beach.
Lembongan is relaxed and it is a great place to be!

Indonesia Part II follows in a little while :-) 


Samstag, 19. März 2011

All roads run through Thailand...

On our first trip, 9 years ago, we rented a car and drove from Bangkok up to the North of Thailand. We visited various temples, went to Chiang Mai and the Golden Triangle, we learned all about drugs and smuggling in the local museum and we took Thai cooking lessons. We stayed in a local village, where we were invited to attend a traditional wedding. At the end we stayed a week at the beach South of Bangkok.

On our second trip, almost 6 years ago, we took a train from the South of Laos to Bangkok, visited the Royal Palace, National museum and the Red Cross Snake Farm – a place where they milk snakes for the anti-venom.
This time was completely different, after traveling for 7 months; it was time for a longer stay in one place. No more packing and re-packing and moving around for a little while :-)
We decided to stay in Bangkok, in the middle of the tourist-scene. Nice and easy, a guesthouse with airco, tv and internet. Having hot water showers was nice bonus.

Our street

There were plenty hawker shops with delicious food and fantastic fresh fruit. We also had a great sandwich place around the corner.  

Food stand near 'our home'

The bus stop for the city was just some 30 meters away from the house entrance, which was perfect as the kids were going to ‘school’.

Matthew decided to take 2D animation and drawing classes and Robin took Video and Sound editing plus After-effects. All Adobe programs.
In India we checked out the course possibilities, but Matthew’s nomination in Borneo made us change our plans. The Bangkok branch of the Indian school was a perfect solution.

The slow time was nice, sleep, eat, check out the IT stores, go to school, go skateboarding, have some clothes tailor made, watch some tv, watch some movies and chat on the internet, on Skype and hang around with other travelers and tourists at the guesthouse and in the streets around Khao San road, where we stayed.

There are plenty computer, telephone, DVD and accessories stores in Bangkok.

Dr. Fish, a very strange set up. Little fish eat the dead skid off your feet... after looking at it for a couple of weeks, we decided to try it out.
Not sure how healthy it is for the fish!

As we arrived over land, we were granted visas for 2 weeks only, something we found out just some days before the 2 weeks passed. We shifted some classes and took a 6 day trip by bus to Cambodia (see previous blog).

Returning over land again, we received visas for 2 further weeks. Good enough to finish the courses, but not enough to go to the beaches. That will have to wait a little bit...

Bangkok was nice, very touristy though, with all kinds of people. It showed us once again not to judge people on what they look like.

But time came to leave again and we are looking forward to Indonesia!

 … we just realized that we have stayed 4 weeks but have next to no pictures…  :-(
We'll do better in Indonesia :-)

Samstag, 5. März 2011

6 Days in Cambodia

By arriving over land, we were granted a 2 week visa for Thailand only. That was a shame, but an opportunity at the same time. A good opportunity to visit Cambodia for 6 days!

The minibus from Bangkok to the border at Poipet took 4 hours, so far so good. Clearing customs and buying a visa for Cambodia took us a bit longer… the official charges for a visa are USD 20.00 per person, unless you run into the visa-agent trap… that increases the costs to USD 40.00 per person…

After some nasty words to the agent we made it to the border and got through for 20 dollars each.

Our first stop was the capital Phnom Penh, the city is nice, the people are great and the food is really great.
The RECENT history of the city and the whole country is however so sad!

We decided to find out more about it and visited the S-21, before 1975 a school, between 75 and 79 a terrible place where people were tortured and killed. Too intelligent, not agreeing with the Pol Pot regime, or even just wearing glasses, reason enough be killed.

It is quite difficult to explain but standing in a room with just this bed, no knowing what happened exactly but knowing for sure that many victims stayed in this room and were "interrogated" until they admitted whatever they were asked to admit...

A site photograper had to take pictures of all people brought to S-21, the biggest prison of its kind in the whole country.  Any age, even small children!

 Protection, to avoid people would commit suicide...

It is very difficult to describe how we felt, but all the pictures, infos and objects we looked at in the 4 buildings, which now serves as a museum, have given us plenty to think of.

We decided not to visit the killing field. A mass grave "cemetery"
Want to know more, check out YouTube for Pol Pot or Khmer Rouge.

We went to the palace instead. Very pretty buildings in the middle of the city:

Close to the palace and the national museum, a remarkable man started 2 NGOs. Too much money, bad feelings, no trust in big organizations? Check this out. No money, no interest in aid, still have a look and see how creative these people are!

http://www.friends-international.org/ -- a remarkable initiative, too much to explain, just have a look.
http://www.childsafe-international.org/  -- have a look at this if you don't know what to do when you see begging children on the street... Childsafe is part of friends international.

Many people wear the Childsafe shirts. For example our tuk-tuk driver.  

Phnom Penh's people are partly very poor, but partly the ideas and initiatives are great. Sometimes maybe a big too good....  A copied book, published in 2012...  na ja....

Markets are always good to go to, to look at the local life,

 Feel a bit bad looking at the meat hanging in the sun, flies everywhere...
 same for the chicken...
 But the fruit is soooooo delicious...
 At the far end of the market work was done, or maybe only women work.... and men and kids watch tv....

We would have like to stay longer in Phnom Penh, but time was up and we had to move on to Siem Reap, to have a look at the world famous Angkor Wat.

Accomodation is really good (and cheap) in Cambodia. Both in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap we had internet in our room!!  Such a poor country, but people know what is important for visitors...
Coming from Singapore... not so long ago, it was quite different... unacceptable room, no internet, anyway, that is another story.. Chapeau for Cambodia!

The busride was good and after a good rest, we took a tuk-tuk for the day. Our first stop and the HIGHLY popular Angkor Wat was the landmine museum. http://www.cambodialandminemuseum.org/menu.html
Quite a man! Quite a life, once recruited as child soldier... whereby recruited is a big word... forced to join is better. Aki Ra is now a major player in cleaning his country from the very many landmines which are still making the countryside a dangerous place to be.

All mines, bombs and other explosives cleared and brought back by Aki Ra.
The facility houses and teaches children who were hurt by landmines. We saw a few kids missing both legs and learning to build up their lives again. Excellent man that Aki Ra!

And on to a lighter subject, and scene for various movies: the different temples in the huge temple area. Especially the tree overgrown buildings were a lot of fun to look at.

 Kind of unreal to stand there and look at it!

Also here, showing the tree from the top of the door... just don't think of ALL the  tourists standing in front of us... sad really, it would have been so nice to walk through a deserted place, but never mind...
One wonders how these fantastic places were made, and by whom. How did they live. It must have been difficult. For us it was tough already, just to walk around and look at it... it was COOKING HOT!!  

Cambodia, we were there so short, but there is a whole lot more to do and see, so who knows, we might be back. It is really nice there...

We took a bus back to the border, did an easy clearance, got a stamp for another 2 week stay in Thailand.
Look for our update some time soon :-)