Tourists on Board

Taking pictures of water.

My parents came over. Woop woop. And when parents come over the low-budget-travelling suddenly changes into tourist-style-hotspot-hopping. Wich is great in a huge country like China that is full of expensive – but worth to pay – entry fees. At least now I had the chance to see everything. And at the same time I’ve spent quality time with my parents. Great succes!

I’m not really used to this kind of travelling, so most pictures I took represent funny ‘Tourististan’. Let me share them with you all.

As true Belgians they needed their beer from time to time
As true Belgians they need their beer from time to time.

 

And yeah. We even found Belgian beers.
Sometimes local beers, sometimes beers they already knew.

 

Mussels and Belgian fries. Oh yeah baby. Mommy and daddy treated me gooood.
Mussels and Belgian fries. Oh yeah baby. Mommy and daddy treated me gooood.

 

We also ate local of course. As one should.
We also ate local of course. As one should.

 

And trying weird black looking gelly-ish candy.
And trying weird black looking gelly-ish candy. Mommy’s abviously very convinced. NOT!

 

Bbq at the Muslim market.
BBQ at the Muslim market.

 

Making fun of random things. This time...dried fishes.
Having fun with random things. This time… dried fishes.

 

Catching up with my friends.
Catching up with my friends.

 

Enjoying a Buddha overdose.
Enjoying a Buddha overdose.

 

Hi five-ing another Buddha.
High five-ing another Buddha.

 

Walking in between Buddha's.
Walking in between Buddhas.

 

Taking very long distance trains. Like 40 hours.
Taking very long distance trains. Like 40 hours.

 

Letting little fish eat our excess skin.
Letting little fish indulge on some excess skin.

 

Walking on water with their TREKKING BACKPACKS (!!!) (I know. My parents are cool.)
Walking on water with their TREKKING BACKPACKS (!!!) (I know. My parents are cool.)

 

Touristic floating on water.
Touristic floating on water.

 

Kissing on water.
Kissing on water.

 

Looking at water.
Looking at water.

 

Taking pictures of water.
Taking pictures of water.

 

Taking more pictures of water.
Taking more pictures of water.

 

Daddy being proud of his picture of water... 'Look at this one!'
Daddy being proud of his picture of water… ‘Look at this one!’

 

Taking pictures of each other.
Taking pictures of each other.

 

Visiting tea-plantations with fancy hats.
Visiting tea plantations with fancy hats.

 

Dfh
Enjoying some very nice views.

 

Some cultural things.
Some cultural things.

 

Taking the longest escalator in the world.
Taking the longest escalator in the world.

 

And another high one.
And another high one.

 

But most of all. Enjoying life as a family!
But most of all. Enjoying life as a family!

 

Thank you mommy. Thank you daddy. It was great having you over. It was great sharing this with you. And this is yet another experience we will never forget!

 

Written by Planeless Traveller ‘ieneke’, ’cause that’s how my parents call me.

 

Travellers on the Road

image

For a long time, we didn’t meet a lot of other travellers on the road since we often stayed with locals and tried to avoid hostels as much as we could. But at some point, especially after Iran, it became much more difficult to find locals on couchsurfing (or via other ways) to host us. We then began to stay at hostels, guesthouses, and B&Bs more often, which made it easier to meet fellow travellers.

They all share the passionate drive to discover this globe. But all of us do it in our own way, and at our own pace.

So, meet some of the people we’ve met so far:

The first buddy we encountered was Nordin, a Parisian history teacher. We met him in Khiva, Uzbekistan, and ended up travelling together for about ten days. Together we discovered ‘1001 nights’ in Khiva, the magic carpets of Buchara and the hometown of Amir Timur (Uzbekistan’s historical national hero).

 

Eating multi-colored ice-cream with Nordin in Samarkand
Eating multi-colored ice-cream with Nordin in Samarkand

 

The real beginning of ‘meeting-tons-of-awesome-travellers’ was in Pamir Lodge, Khorog (Tadjik Pamir). We first got to know three friends: Meiyu (Taiwan – yes this is an independent country!),  Jan (Germany – looking at their beer, they think quantity makes up for quality) and Tom (The Netherlands – hup Holland hup! Tulips.).  A bit later, Thierry, a crazy French solitary biker who barely survived the snowy passes of the Pamir, arrived. This is the kind of guy who blows your mind: he already travelled the whole world, from Pakistan, over Afganistan, through Jemen, … you name it, Thierry knows his way around it. There was also an interesting Dutch dude, a former journalist who became an international truck driver, and who wanted to cross Afghanistan more than anything. Last but not least: Lisa… Oh Lisa, dear Lisa! Of everything you shared about your twenty years of experience in travelling, the stories about Brasil are our favorite 😉

Aaaaah. We almost forgot how much fun it can be to just hang around in a lodge while sharing travel stories over a few beers. Luckily, Meiyu reminded us that “WE MUST DRINK BEER”, at least … every night!

 

Iskashim - Marthe, Thomas, Jan, Meiyu, Ien and Mina
Hanis guesthouse in Iskashim – Marthe, Thomas, Jan, Meiyu, Ien, Charlotte and Mina

 

Later on, we took a shared taxi to go from Khorog to the Wakhan valley. Every single time we mentioned our nationality, people referred us to Hanis Guesthouse in Iskashim. So of we went… and there, we met Elisabeth, a girl from Bruges, Belgium. We talked shit in West-Flemish (a local Belgian dialect) and instantly felt like we already knew each other for years. We obviously spent more days than necessary in Iskashim, just because of Elisabeth’s stories about her local adventures, which where never-ending. And then, there was the Dutch-Swiss pick-up couple, Marthe and Thomas. They had peanut butter, and gave us instant Swiss cheese fondue… Oh my God. This must be love! Daniele and Simona, an Italian bikers couple, arrived the moment Ien decided to cook spaghetti Bolognese (with pickeled tomatoes, gluey pasta, and without minced meat: talking about a challenge) for our new friends. Are you kidding? Timing! But they actually liked it! And when we say ‘bikers’, of course we’re talking about crazy motherfuckers again. This duo is currently biking from Italy to Australia, and they also plan to bike from North America to South America, and from South Africa to Europe… Damn! We were lucky to run into them, since bikers often pitch their tent somewhere in the wild, and don’t tend to come to guesthouses.

 

Vali, the owner of Hanis guesthouse, Charlotte, Daniele, Ien and Simona in Iskashim
Vali, the owner of Hanis guesthouse, Charlotte, Daniele, Ien and Simona in Iskashim

 

Then the time came to drive to Kyrgyzstan, via Khorog and Murgab, taking the famous M41 aka Pamir Highway. Once we arrived in Osh, the first traveller we met in Biy Ordo guesthouse was Shaun (British – accent included). And guess who was there too?! Marthe and Thomas! They shared their delicious coffee again, made with their real Italian mokka pot (please note that it was extremely difficult for Charlotte to leave hers behind in Belgium). During the first night in Osh, we ate the cheese fondue they gave us earlier – amen, and the second night, Ien cooked dinner for the whole group. We had a blast over some beers – yeah beer again. Charlotte tried to hook Shaun up with her single mom. She showed him pictures and gave him her email-address. Let’s see how that goes! The next day, Shaun left for a day trip to a certain lake, and he was expected to return by night, but he never came back, and we were all worried. Was he eaten by a mermaid or did he get lost? Luckily, once we arrived in Bishkek, Lisa e-mailed us that he was just fine… Ooph! Hooray for the travel community and their technology of the 21st century that helps them keeping an eye on one another.

 

Camping with x , Jacky, and the cbt-guys in Arslanbob
Camping with Mina, Jacky, and the cbt-guys in Arslanbob

 

We also spent way too much time in Bishkek (cf. Tehran), but hey, we’ve been travelling for six months already, so we can sure use a little break, haha. Because we arrived rather late at Sakura guesthouse, our idea was to sleep in the next day, but ‘thanks to’ some loud Israeli dudes, that plan fell through. Thanks buddies. They made up for it though, and made us some authentic Israelian coffee for the next eight days.

 

First day we met our Israelian buddies: Breakfast time!
First day we met our Israelian buddies: Breakfast time!

 

Ilan, Manbar and Omri just got dismissed from their army service, so they were planning a hiking trip around the second biggest alpine lake in the world: Issyk Kul. Admiring/observing their ‘topographic-map-reading’ skills, we realized that this was an awesome chance to disappear into the mountains for more than one night: “Can we join??” [Insert puppy eyes] They agreed right away, although they seemed to be a bit sceptic. (You know, two girls… Won’t they just nag and be slow? How could they have known we are in fact HCHC – hard core hiking chicks.) The five of us hiked, cooked in the rain, saw frozen lakes, watched the Milky Way, drank whiskey, made a base camp, made an open fire, slept at the beach, and finished in Cholpon Ata while watching the 9th of May parade. We were a good team! Then it was time for the girls to head back to Bishkek, back to Sakura guesthouse, to welcome our beloved Davy who had just returned, and to celebrate Charlie’s birthday!

 

Hiking around Issyk Kul
Hiking around Issyk Kul

 

So, Charlie’s birthday party… Same story as every year! A while ago, when staying in Pamir lodge, she and Lisa discovered a shared passion: nice ‘n’ tasty beers. The two of them found out that there was a brewery somewhere in Bishkek, so they made a pact determining that they would check it out together. And so they did. And they did it good! Together with Lucas, a Brasilian guy, and Joanny, a Swiss girl, they didn’t just have one pint. No, they had six half liters of strong amber beer. All of them were completely shitfaced, which turned out to be a really funny show for the rest of us – once they eventually found their way back to the guesthouse, that is. At 10pm, we said: “Good night Charlie, and good luck with the usual hangover on your birthday tomorrow!”

 

Enjoying beers in the Steinbrau German Brewery in Bishkek with Lisa, Lucas and ...
Enjoying beers in the Steinbrau German Brewery in Bishkek with Lisa, Lucas and Joanny

 

Bishkek – Sakura guesthouse in short: we spent so much time there, and bumped into old buddies again. Elizabeth, Lisa, Marthe and Thomas, Daniele and Simona, you know them already now. It was great to see them again in Bishkek!!

 

Old and new friends all in one place  - Omri, the Dutchies, Marthe, Thomas, Charlie and Ien
Old and new friends all in one place – Omri, the Dutchies, Marthe, Thomas, Charlie and Ien

 

We also made some really good new friends. Meet the new faces: Scott aka ‘Scotty doesn’t know’ and Igor, doing PhD research in the Pamir, both American, took us with them on a hike. The three Dutchies, Ynte (blond), Daniël (blonder) and Joris (blondest) entertained us by being so incredibly hilariously DUTCH: “Can you pass me the cheese please?” We liked them so much, as good neighbours, that we let them use our tent for their famous road trip by car… Seeing them clean it thoroughly afterwards was pure enjoyment! Playing cards, drinking vodka, and the Belgian-Dutch jokes were present as always. Alex and Anthony, two Frenchies, were die hard as well. Ien and Alex went to the gym together and did some yoga… Yes, do not only party all the time, we also do sports! And last but not least, as always, there were some cyclists: Claudia and Johann, cycling back home to Germany.

 

Hiking in Ala Archa with Davy, Scott, Igor, Lisa and Charlie
Hiking in Ala Archa with Davy, Scott, Igor, Lisa and Charlie

 

To be honest, there have been just too many people to list them all properly, so let us give you a little overview to end this post with:

1) The short term travellers – the most ‘dangerous’ ones, because they are on the road for only a few weeks before they have to go home again to their regular working life. Obviously, they want to get the most out of their trip, which means sightseeing every day, and diehard partying every night. Every. Night! Examples of this species: Alex and Anthony.

2) The long term travellers – sometimes, they go in the same direction as us, sometimes in the opposite direction. The ones going the same direction, we see again at random in embassies, coffee bars with free WiFi, and hostels. The ones going in the opposite direction are valuable for exchanging tons of advise on traveling.

Kaja – Slovenian girl living in Berlin: http://www.ramblingdays.com/
Jan: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Freiluftleben/711452438973117?ref=ts&fref=ts

 

Jan don't forget, Germany goes for big (quantity) but Belgium goes for small (quality)
Jan don’t forget: Germany goes for big (quantity) but Belgium goes for small (quality)

 

3) The cyclists – we all agree they’re the most diehard ones. They sleep in their tent almost every night, wether it is raining, windy, snowing, or in dry deserts, passes of 5000m, … it doesn’t matter, they do it all, and they never complain. They just go for it! Sometimes, we wonder what they have in their drinking bottles. How do they manage to do this shit? One word: RESPECT! And you know what? If they eventually end up in a hostel for the first well-deserved hot shower in eleven days, it’s always lots of fun to hear their stories. Especially because they’re drunk after only one beer 🙂

Check out their blog or website:
Daniele and Simona: Becycling.net

 

Taking bikers to places they can't reach by bike: BeCycling at the end of the valley in Ala Archa
Taking bikers to places they can’t reach by bike: BeCycling at the end of the valley in Ala Archa

 

Claudia and Johann: http://cyclinghome-allgaeu.blogspot.com/?m=1

 

Taking bikers to places they can't reach by bike: Claudia in the Chok Tal hills
Taking bikers to places they can’t reach by bike: Claudia in the Chok Tal hills

 

4) The work and travel guys – they are mostly photographers. Check out their work because it’s great.

 

Scott and Igor talking about Scott's awesome camera at the Ratsek hut during the Ala Archa hike
Scott and Igor talking about Scott’s awesome camera at the Ratsek hut during the Ala Archa hike

 

Scott: http://scotturner.vsco.co/grid/1 and http://www.afar.com/magazine/the-25-unknown-travel-photographers-you-should-be-following-right-now

Kares: karesleroy.com

Elisabeth: followed on Vranckx & de Nomaden: https://www.facebook.com/vranckxendenomaden

 

To all the people we have met and will meet on the road: your stories are great, your advice is brilliant, and you make the beers we drink taste even better! Cheerio mates!

 

Written by Planeless Travellers