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, 20. Februar 2011

A short stay in Singapore

Air Asia took flew us safely from Kota Kinabalu to Singapore.
Matthew and Robin went to a "meeting" and a city tour organized by some of Matthew's YEP friends in Singapore.
The main reason to come to Singapore was to walk all the way from the far North to the far South of the country. Good that the country is not that big.
Still to manage 35 km in one day, walking through cutting grass and stones with sharp edges on the railwaytrack was quite an accomplishment!

They had a lot of fun and reason to be proud of themselves!

Here some pictures:

We discovered the city, checked out the national museum, had some good food. Singapore is a safe place, good metro system and all that, but if it made a real impression on us; not really. The walk was the reason to go and was accomplished :-)

We took a metro to the border, crossed to Malaysia and made us on the way to Thailand... over land as all trains and planes were booked in due to the upcoming Chinese New Year...

Montag, 14. Februar 2011

On a mission in Sabah, on Borneo, in Malaysia

Our arrival in Sabah started with a small hick-up. 2 Out of 3 bags did not arrive. Malaysian Airlines, who had already mishandled our bags on our first trip, 9 years ago as well (!!), was very professional and within a short time, the located the bags and brought them to Kota Kinabalu.

Backtracking to the East was not planned, but Matthew was selected for a project with Mike Horn, a South African adventurer who runs a 4 year environment-awareness project for and with teenagers, and due to Indian immigration laws, we all left for Borneo.

Before seeing off Matthew to his assignment, we checked out the Sunday market in Kota Kinabalu and the 3 of us went on a small trip to Mount Kinabalu:

On the Sunday market
On the Sunday market

The way up onto the mountain was quite hard. Loads of stairs. We did the 5 km to the starting point, which was the easy part, then we 'climbed' 3.5 km on the stairs.
Going down was the easy part :-)

With Matthew away for 13 days, Robin and Sonja stayed a bit in town before taking a bus to the Eastern part of Sabah, we stayed in Sepilok for a few nights:

Visit to the Orang Utan rehabilitation center

Visit to the botanical garden and nature center in Sepilok.


The fishmarket in Sandakan town.

Some history: the Japanese memorial park for the 2nd world war.  Terrible!

We received a ‘golden tip’ from some backpackers in Kota Kinabalu, which turned out to be really good! A 2 hour bus ride took us from Sepilok to Sukau, at the Kinabatangan river.

We stayed with a family of 8, father Osman is the ‘jungle man’, and took us around on his boat on the river.

Osman's garden, after some rain...  all houses are build on poles, for a good reason!!

Picture:  COPYRIGHT by Robin! Cool isn't it! 

Picture:  COPYRIGHT by Robin!

Together with us, a family from Denmark visited Osman.

Tell Osman what you want to see and there is a good chance he finds it! We were very close to the pigmy elephants.

Kinabatangan river

Monkeys on the Monkey-Bridge, just before the sun went under.

We returned to Kota Kinabalu, did the laundry, the homework, the planning for our trip to Singapore and stuff like that. It was raining a lot, but the hostel was nice and we enjoyed hanging out a bit. 

After Matthew returned we went for a dentist check up (we were so lucky to find a really good dentist), and just 2 days later our AirAsia flight took off for Singapore. 

Borneo was really nice. Would certainly recommend to go! 

Mittwoch, 2. Februar 2011

Bombay, now called Mumbai

Backpacking in India is hard work. A constant awareness of where we find a hygienic place to sleep and to eat. Which transport modes are good and which are to be avoided.

We ended up in the hospital with travelers diarrhea and only anti-biotic could get rid of that nasty happening. Constant vomiting plus diarrhea at the same time is BAD news!
Just a little later, in a dirty train with head-scratching kids, we had lice in our hair too... at such moments nothing is fun anymore... !!!!!

Not to put you all off from going to India, Indians have a good sense of doing business, and because of the really low salaries, huge opportunities are there for the population.
Large international companies move whole production lines to India and airline (and other company) call centers, IT and accounting service centers are widely spread in India.
Maybe that works, but on small scale, on the streets, it doesn’t work out for the non-package tourists who are discovering India, as they discover so many other countries.

The English language skills of many Indians are not all that great. The Indian smiles are there, and are honest, but are certainly not coming from those who need to make a living and DEPEND on the tourist’s rupees. On large scale cheating and ripping-off people is going on.

Things are done ‘half’ only, buy a t-shirt or other garment and see if fall apart after washing it a couple of times. Colours don’t stick, thread is coming out etc.

It is sad, we expected way more from the country that advertises with ‘INCREDIBLE INDIA’. In that same advertising campaign, they accidently used an African instead of an Asian elephant, but who cares... elephant = elephant.

Do we want to return? Maybe for a project, or on an organized tour (whereby we are bad package tour tourists...). Returning as backpackers... at least not for a while 

Strange enough, we do keep this experience as a memorable one. The country has surprised us a lot, there are so many things we have seen which were so unusual. Nothing seems impossible. And of course, there are very nice people in this country too!

Our last week in India was in Bombay, Mumbai as it is called nowadays.

Here are some impressions:

Markets everywhere.

Caves on Elephant Island, a boat ride away from the city.


People are making money with anything and everything, here are some more jobs performed on the street:

Selling art work

Open-Air office ??

Quick shave :-)

Sharpening knifes with the power of riding a bicycle.

Religion always sells.

Talking about INCREDIBLE INDIA. This is the largest "laudramat" in the city. Quite amazing, men are working really hard to wash hotel towels and bedsheets, as well as tourist clothes and whatever else needs a wash. Everything is done by hand, with some help from the sun to get it nice and dry again.

From the top of the bridge next to the train station people, and not only tourists, have a great view at this rather unusual 'spectacle'.

Food is sold everywhere. Sometimes it looks tasty but the question always remains: is if safe for a tourist stomach or not....

We are careful, but there where loads of people buy and the people look clean, we go for it :-)
Here a really delicious sandwich, made of a roll filled with a vegetable mixture, spices and sauce. So nice!!

Following text is copied from:  popupcity.net :

Dabbawalla is the Hindi term for someone who’s job it is to deliver a hot lunch (dabba) from a worker’s house to his working spot. The dabbawalla is a more than 125 years old cooperative network of more than 5,000 largely illiterate rural workers who use the metropolitan transportation system to bring lunch bags from home to the office. 200,000 Fresh meals carefully prepared by wife’s and mothers in the suburbs are being delivered downtown at men’s work, every day. The empty dabbas are returned home. Dabbawallas use nothing more than 3-4 symbols crudely painted on their ‘dabbas’ to create an unparalleled food supply chain by using their remarkable intuition and teamwork.


The picture above was taken by us. We did not expect to encounter this INCREDIBLE system, but we did, which was great. Talking about AMAZING. This is amazing, especially as it runs like clockwork!
A real issue is the poverty in Bangkok, especially women and children, but also older men are begging for money and food. Eating on the street is almost impossible without feeling bad.

We limit this subject to just one picture, see above. People sleep on the street all the time and often you have to watch that you don't step on them, especially when it is dark. The image of this man stays in our minds though. Carefully check the picture and you see his artificial leg placed on the curb. 

And one last picture... what do Indians think about tourists?  The above Tuk-Tuk has "Capacity for 3 Idiots".  Not sure if that is a statement....

Bye India. We are leaving with mixed feelings....

Goa, the 'Mallorca' of India

Soon it will be New Year, Goa reacts on that with severely overprices hostels. Anyway,  there is not much we can do about that so we take it as it is and check out this very unusual part of India.
Goa is located on the West side of the country, just at the beach. Low cost carriers from Europe fly on and off, bringing mainly British and German package tourists. THEIR beach is kind of clean, people are nice and chase off the local Indians. The part of the beach the LOCALS are going is terrible. Burning garbage on the beach, eating big meals and leaving the rests, half filled plates and all that for the rats and cockroaches. 
Peeing on the beach is normal too.   

Nice time at the beach...

Interesting: drying fish on the beach

Shark on the menu is normal here.

We moved around on busses and tuk-tuks. Here a ferry service we took.

What is good about so many tourists? The lovely food! After over 2 weeks in India we were ready for some 'non-curry' meals :-)
And Goa does everything for the tourist money. Even the Holy Cow is chopped up here and served and steaks!!

We checked out Goa's past, a Portugese fort,    

and a Portugese lighthouse.

Some people have got it all in Goa, here a HUGE luxurious house just at the ocean side.

On our way direction Mumbai  (Bombay), the views were more like the above...

Watching the passing trains was interesting, the doors stay open and people are standing in the door openings.  

Also on the quai, people are sitting around with their 'luggage'.

Wherever they go and whatever they are doing, there are SOOOO many people in this country.

Some days in Goa was ok, it has little to do with India though, but it gave us a chance to hang out a bit. Our room was big and comfortable and also here the fruits are delicious. We checked out an animation design course, which we might come back for.... maybe....

Bombay, here we come....