Posts tagged ‘trekking’

Abandoned hotel in Spitak, Armenia

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

About a week ago I was passing by Spitak in Armenia while hitchhiking. Spitak is a small town surrounded by beautiful mountains. One hour outside of town, in the foot of the mountains, there is also an old abandoned Russian hotel. This old hotel complex is huge and include a bar, swimming pool and bowling hall.

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Part of the hotel complex

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Indoor swimming pool and bowling hall

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Animal cages

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Bar area with ice stalactites and an unknown big bird

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Independent luxery villas

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From above

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The hotel is perfectly located to continue into a mountain trek after exploring it

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Still in some areas the houses are ruined or replaced with metal houses after the 1988 earthquake, with no support in sight.

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Superb live fish dinner after a nice walk

Pirin Mountains, Bulgaria

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

In early August while trekking in the Pirin Mountains I was taking these pictures which I later on forgot to post, so here they are. Pirin Mountains are located around 2 hours drive away from Sofia with the highest peak at 2914 meter. There are several huts in this Bulgarian mountain range but camping is also possible as always. If you camp be prepared with warm clothes as the nights are getting really cold even in the summer.

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains river

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains lake

Pirin Mountains lake

Pirin Mountains coffee

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains flower

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains

Pirin Mountains cow

Pirin Mountains calf

Pirin Mountains tree shadow

Pirin Mountains empty hotel
Abandoned construction sites can make a good last-minute sleeping place inside a city, for example when hitchhiking and getting stuck.

Manila, Philippines

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

To prolong my Thai visa with a month I had to go out of the country and then fly in again, because by land the visa extension is limited to 2 weeks. This was lucky because even though I always wanted to visit Philippines I didn’t have any plans to go there during this Asia trip. But now I found a cheap return ticket (one way is not allowed anyway) and the next day I found myself being in Manila, the capital of Philippines.

Arriving at 4 am in the beginning of the week I was surprised to see that the city was still alive and moving. There are no public transport at this time besides taxi and the area I arrived to is a bit expensive, so I get a cheap taxi to another area which some helpful local recommended to me 5 minutes earlier. The area I arrive to is the party area of Manila. Everywhere lady-boys and taxi-men are yelling after me, dark alleys with people hanging around and strip clubs (“Gentlemen clubs”). But people are really helpful and about half an hour later (around 5 am) I am checked into a hotel and laying in my bed, starting to realize that I am in the Philippines.

The next morning I force myself up at 9 am to get the complementary double breakfast. Double because I have a double room, although its pretty small. Next to me for breakfast sits one foreigner and his lady-boy. They are really friendly people and when the lady-boy leaves the guy tells me his wife is luckily coming firstly next week.

Back in my bed, which covers almost the whole room, I am thinking I can not wait to explore Manila. Just one more hour of sleep…

Philippines, Manila - street

Philippines, Manila - barrio

Philippines, Manila - homeless people
An enormous amount of homeless people in Manila

Philippines, Manila - apartment spider
Huge harmless apartment spider

Philippines, Manila - happy people

Philippines, Manila - jeepney bus
Local buses are called “Jeepneys” and cost about 20 cent USD

Philippines, Manila - chicken legs
Chicken legs

Philippines, Manila - one day chicken food
One day chicken and chicken balls

Philippines, Manila - dog for sale
Buy me

Philippines, Manila - chinatown street sellers

Philippines, Manila - Chinese water snake NYE
Chinese New Year (year of the Water Snake)

Philippines, Manila - la vida room
La Vida Room for 3 hour “naps”

Philippines, Manila - maintenance
Manila maintenance

Philippines, Manila - naked girls sells newspaper
We all know that naked girls sell magazines, and now also newspapers

Philippines, Manila - mountain
 Beautiful mountain Batulao (only 800 meters) with it’s 10 peaks

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Looking back half way

Philippines, Manila - mountain guide
Mountain guide who should have been in school instead

Philippines, Manila - mt Batulao camp
Mt Batulao camp “Don’t change the mountain, let the mountain change you”

Philippines, Manila - chicken fight planning
Chicken fight – trying to decide which chickens will fight each others depending on their size

Philippines, Manila - chicken fight planning
More chicken owners coming into the ring of smiling discussion

Philippines, Manila - chicken fight preparing
Preparing the chickens. The fight is until death.

Philippines, Manila - chicken fight starting

Philippines, Manila - chicken fight
The fight is going to start

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And about 2 minutes later it’s over

Philippines, Manila - refreshing drink
Sweet drink

Philippines, Manila - night buses

Philippines, Manila - electrician

Philippines, Manila - penthouse

Philippines, Manila - people

Philippines, Manila - smiley

Philippines, Manila - street art

Philippines, Manila - Tagaytay
Tagaytay view over Taal Volcano Island

Philippines, Manila - taxi driver asleep
Taxi driver asleep

Philippines, Manila - traffic
Pollution

Philippines, Manila - karaoke
Last night in Manila with new friends and karaoke

Sri Lanka – a travel story

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Part 2 – enjoy the road, not the goal

The next day i go up early but take it easy as somebody told me what time the last bus goes, already at 9:30 am, don’t ask me why. My first step to go to Adam’s Peak will be to pass by the small town of Ella. When i get to the bus station i ask two different people working there but they both tell me i need to go to Matara to take the bus from there. I do what they say, thinking that I will miss the last bus but instead I arrive just in time. One and a half hour later I am back in Dickwella, not surprised at all and just smiling.

The bus continues and after a while 3 young monks enter the bus. Usually people here are very polite and stand up for elder people, but this time the old people sitting most near the door where the monks enter stand up immediately, giving their seats away (later on I understood that those seats are reserved for monks). I also realize that the monks pay for the bus trip, something I have been curious about earlier as I have seen monks before on the bus stations here.

Finally we arrive and i jump out of the bus, after verifying both with the bus driver and a passenger that this is the right city. But after a tuk-tuk driver wants 1000 rupees to drive me to Ella I quickly realize that I jumped off in the wrong city, Wellawaya. This is obviously not my bus day. The tuk-tuk drivers tell me there is no more bus to Ella today, but of course 30 minutes later I am sitting on a bus on the way, once again, to Ella.

The road to Ella turns out to be beautiful with a great mountain view and even one waterfall. Probably there was just mis-communication again, and I needed to change bus to go here. Anyway, when arriving to Ella I see a really touristic small town but still nice in its own way. I get a double room (there are no smaller) with warm water and WIFI for 1200 rupees and manage to publish my first blog post about Sri Lanka. The next morning I need to go up early again, around 5:30, so I make it an easy evening with some food (curries and lassi) and finishing off with a beer. In the restaurant I hear some travelers complaining about how expensive Sri Lanka is. Again I see how different people think about one and the same place, and why you need to know a person well first to understand what you should make out of the persons travel tips. I would recommend to follow local peoples advice, and from people not working with transportation or similar tourist occupations. However, I am glad people have different interests and think in different ways, in other case we would all end up in the same place.

The next day I am standing at the train station in Ella at 6:30 in the morning.

– “Have you got any money? Yes, a little.” the English learning program on the radio teaches me, while playing children music in the background. While I stand warming myself with the sun in the face people are starting to show up, walking on the rail track like it was a normal pathway.

Sri Lanka travel - Ella train/railway station
Ella railway station in the sunrise

From Ella I take a train at 6:40 in the morning to Hutton. Because the last days travel was a bit tiring I choose to sit in 1st class. Usually I like to travel like the majority of the locals and even though there are Sri Lankans also in 1st class I feel a bit weird being there in the beginning, but after a while I fall back into the comfortability and just enjoy it. Here I have a booked seat, a waiter, food and drinks to buy, a TV and even WIFI that works sometimes, mostly when the train stops at a train station  Next to me sits a guy from Amsterdam that I met on the street the day before and was surprised to see again on the train platform in the morning, us being the only two foreigners there waiting for the train. We have a nice talk and combined with the interesting view, the 4+ hours my train trip takes passes almost to fast. When arriving, I get out of the train and thinks that now it will only be 10 minutes walk to a guesthouse near the trail to Adam’s Peak. Again, thanks to a tuk-tuk driver I realize that I should have read up a bit more about the destination. There are actually 2 more bus rides that takes one hour each before I reach my destination. I double check the information online this time and then jump into the first bus. Two hours later I arrive and find a guesthouse with a good location quickly thanks to a Swedish guy I ask in the bus. We even decide to share a room and spend the evening talking. We also decide to check out the start of the trail and end up taking a dip in a lagoon we find. Later that night we play some games with two Austrian girls before going to sleep somewhat early.

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People riding in the doors of the train

Sri Lanka travel - Ella to Hutton
View from the train to Hutton

Sri Lanka travel - Train crowd
A lot of people pressed into the train, most of them have to stand for several hours. The buses and trains in Sri Lanka is a service from the government and are kept at a low price which the other private companies have to follow.

Sri Lanka travel - Hutton bus view
View from the bus to Adam’s Peak

In the morning we wake up late because of problem with the alarm clock and start our walk at 3:20. The idea is to be at the peak at sunrise. People have told us that the walk will take around 2,5 hours but we manages in 1,5 so the late wake up turned out to be no problem at all. Clouds. The sunrise is not visible but I enjoyed the walk so much that the sunrise feels unimportant. I instead find some guys that lives up here selling tea to the tourists, and we get invited to their home for a while to warm up before the walk down again.

Finally arriving back to the guesthouse a superb breakfast awaits us, before taking the two buses back to Hutton again where we depart from each other.

Sri Lanka travel - Adam's peak
Arriving to Adam’s Peak in the afternoon, after a long trip from Ella

Sri Lanka travel - Adam's peak lagoon
Lagoon perfect for a quick dip in the evening

Sri Lanka travel - Adam's peak sunrise
View from Adam’s Peak just before the sunrise

Sri Lanka travel - Adam's peak bells
Bells at Adam’s Peak which you are supposed to ring (one time for each visit you have done to the peak) and then make a wish which you want to become true

Sri Lanka travel - Adam's peak hut
The hut at the top of Adam’s Peak where we got invited for tea

Sri Lanka travel - Adam's peak stairs
The path down from Adam’s Peak. There are steps the whole way, so the path is easy to find.

Sri Lanka travel - Adam's peak tea lady

While I am sitting alone waiting for the train from Hutton to Kandy a group of school girls surrounds me. At first I think they are around 12 years old, but when I ask the girl flirting with me she tells me she is 18. She tries her best to use her very limited English to speak to me, while being really shy and hiding her face in her hands several times. Her classmates help her the best they can, and we can at least understand a few sentences both ways. This time I have chosen 2nd class and when the train arrives everybody pushes into the carriages. I realize quickly that there is almost even no standing place in the normal carriages so I take a place in the restaurant carriage. Here there are no chairs so the lucky people sit on the tables, while the less lucky sit or lay down on the dirty floor, or stand up like me. Luckily I only have somewhere between 2-3 hours train ride, and although I only slept a few hours last night I feel somewhat ok. Hopefully I can stay 2 nights in candy to get some rest, and then head over to the capital, Colombo, the last night before my flight to Australia.

That’s my 10 day transit in Sri Lanka. Next time i will stay for at least
2 months!

Sri Lanka travel - Hutton to Kandy
Train from Hutton to Kandy, 2nd class wagon

Did you miss part 1?
Sri Lanka – a travel story

Ometepe, Nicaragua

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Wow I can not believe it’s already been a week here on the island of Ometepe. There are so much outdoor activities to do here and the nature is just amazing. Although there are almost no tourists on Ometepe at the moment (probably due to low season) I have spent a lot of time with the few travelers that I met here, as well as with some locals. So what did I end up doing during this week?

  • Bicycling around on the island. This is really nice but a bit slow in the southern parts because of really bad roads. The price to rent a bicycle is US $5 for one day.
  • Watching bull rodeo. Some locals told me there are bull rodeos every Saturday and Sunday, but at the same time other people told me that this was a special event sponsored by an upcoming politician on Ometepe. Well, if you miss the bull rodeo you can visit a cock fight instead which is organized frequently on the island.
  • Trekking up the active volcano Concepción. This is one of the two volcanoes that are the base of the island. Concepción is the oldest and tallest with it’s 1610 meters and takes about 7-8 hours to trek to the top and back, or about 2-3 hours one way to the 1000 meter plateau that has a nice view. The volcano peak is usually covered with clouds so you have to be lucky to see anything from there. The other volcano, Maderas is a bit smaller and with a lake inside the volcano that is possible to visit. Because a few tourists have died trekking up both of the volcanoes, the government decided that you nowadays need a local guide to trek on them. Although there is no control of this, it’s still recommended because the paths are not well marked. Cost of a guide is US $20-25.
  • Canoeing along the amazingly beautiful coast. I didn’t see the crocodiles that the local fishermen told me should be around, but I was mostly happy about that. The lake also have Bull sharks but both the crocodiles and Bull sharks should be concentrated on the east coast of Ometepe, and I can not see any locals that seem to care about them.

Besides the list above you can rent a motorbike for US $20 per day to explore the island. There are also a natural spring and a water fall to visit, as well as a ton of small charming villages. All in all, Ometepe left me with a really positive impression and I really recommend it as a travel destination for people who likes spending time in the nature.

Ometepe, Nicaragua. View from 1000 meter plateau of volcano Concepción.
View from the 1000 meter plateau of volcano Concepción

Ometepe, Nicaragua. On the way walking up to the top of volcano Concepción, surrounded by clouds.
On the way walking up to the peak of volcano Concepción,
surrounded by clouds

Ometepe, Nicaragua. Peak of volcano Concepción in wet clouds.
Peak of volcano Concepción in wet clouds

Ometepe, Nicaragua. On the way down from volcano Concepción, with local guide.
On the way down from volcano Concepción, with local guide

Ometepe, Nicaragua. Huge tree that now has the first 30 meters below ground because of the last eruption.
Huge tree that now has the first 30 meters below ground
because of the last volcano eruption

Vitosha peak

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Yesterday I spend the day with some friends walking up to the peak of Vitosha mountain, just outside of Sofia. The weather was perfect and during the day we experienced everything from walking in t-shirt to light freezing with several layers of clothes. Although the weather was great there was not so many people up in the mountain, and because there are several trails up to the peak of Vitosha we mostly met people at the top. There, at 2290 meters elevation, we got warm lunch (lentil soup and kofta with lutenitsa) from a hut while enjoying the beautiful view of Bulgaria’s mountains around us.

Vitosha mountain

Vitosha

Mountains in clouds

The white mountains

Vitosha peak

Naked guy

Snowy peaks

Mountain in the clouds

Cloud mountain

Mountain forest

Foggy mountain

Mount vitosha

Lonely tree

Mountain trees

Mountain village

Mount Sinai, Egypt

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

About a week ago I was up on top of Mount Sinai to look at the sunrise over Egypt’s mountains. This is a common thing to do here in Sinai, and although you will not be alone on the top it’s still recommended to go. The sunrise is nice, but even more beautiful is the dark night sky with all the stars visible and a clear view of the Milky Way Galaxy.

To go up to Mount Sinai, take a 2 hour transport from Dahab to Saint Catherine’s Monastery (total price 6-8 euro for two ways) and then walk up the mountain for 1-3 hours depending on how used you are to trekking. If you are lazy it is even possible to ride a camel up half the way. The monastery is around 1500 meter over sea level and the mountain top from where people use to view the sunrise is on 2300 meter. Bring some warm clothes and a lot of water, but there are also cafés on the way up where you even have possibilities to rent a warm blanket from the Bedouins that live in the area.

Remember, if you are scuba diving you need to wait at least 12 hours from your last dive before going up to the mountain, to protect yourself against decompression sickness!

Mount Sinai, Egypt

Mount Sinai mountain

Mount Sinai sunrise

Mount Sinai (Egypt)

Picture of Mount Sinai

Mount Sinai tour

Saint Catherine's monastery camel

Gran Canaria to Tenerife

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

I am just back in Gran Canaria after spending a weekend in Tenerife. I had a great time and really enjoyed Tenerife which is more green than Gran Canaria, both in the main city Santa Cruz de Tenerife and in the nature.

One of the interesting things that happened to me was when trekking with a friend in the north west part of the island. The plan was to only trek for one day, but the first afternoon we met a couple we started to talk to on one of the trails. The man told us he is a doctor and that he comes from a small village where he was visiting a patient of him, a kind of hippie. He also tells us that we probably can stay the night with Juan, as the man in the village is called. We continue our walk and ends up in the small village, which a man at the pub later that night tells us only have 10 inhabitants.

After some searching in the village we find Juan and his friends who are visiting him for the weekend. We end up staying at his place and head out the next morning for a walk to a bigger village where the car road starts, managing to hitch hike back to Santa Cruz de Tenerife with only some hour to spare before our ferry back to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria departs.

The most strange thing about this is the story a friend of mine told me when returning to Santa Cruz de Tenerife after the trek. She told me that her parents actually met on the beach in this small village of only 10 people which I had just returned back from. On top of this my friend and her parents lived before in a hippie community in exactly the house where I had spent the night, and her brother was also born there in that house.


There are two ferries from Gran Canaria to Tenerife and the most cheap of them are Armas which takes a little bit more time (2½ hours). For a timetable and prices, visit this web site:

http://www.navieraarmas.com/index.php?id_pagina=1&idioma=en

Standard price for the Armas ferry is about 50 euro for a return ticket, or half the price if you have the Canary Islands residency (NIE), which is very easy to get and costs only 20 euro. The NIE you can use for the rest of your life, or as long as you stay on the Canary Islands.


Finally, here are some pictures from Tenerife:

Tenerife travel with ferry

Tenerife weather by night

Tenerife meat market

Tenerife fish market

Tenerife market with fish

Man reading while sitting on ground bradying- Tenerife

Barefeet guy in tenerife

Tenerife nature

Tenerife waterfall and lagoon

Tenerife rock

Tenerife bar

Tenerife flowers and trees

Teide volcano, Tenerife

Tenerife coastline

Tenerife village

Villa in Tenerife

Tenerife balcony

Tenerife bird

Tenerife beach

Unknown island (peninsula) Tenerife

El Faro sign, Tenerife

Las Palmas de Anaga, Tenerife

Tenerife coast

Tenerife climate

Picture of cloud in Tenerife

Near Taganana, Tenerife

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria by night with ferry

5 days of improvisational travel

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

I just arrived back to Las Palmas after travelling for five days without a plan. It all started with packing my backpack with a borrowed tent, my computer (for work) and some other things, adding up to a total of 14 kg. Five days later I have learned that hitch hiking on Gran Canaria is easy, I have camped under orange trees & at the hippie festival Rainbow Gathering but most of all walked up and down a lot of mountains.

The trekking here is nice with some small villages that does not feel too touristic, some empty trails and a lot of beautiful views. Following the trails is tricky though, as the markings are really bad if even existing, and the markings look the same all over the island which means that you can easily mix up the trails and end up somewhere else than planned. Also the maps are not 100% correct and some trails or even roads are not existing on the maps. The good thing is that you usually end up near a road anyway and can hitch hike to your goal instead, which is also the bad thing here that the roads are everywhere. So don’t expect to be alone after a full day of trekking to a top, instead you will find a big car park and a lot of tourists, with the street sellers that come along with tourism in an area.

I post some pictures below from a borrowed camera as my own camera is in repair at the moment. Also you will find the map I used to trace where I have been these days, although it may not be totally correct or easy to see.

Gran Canaria mapa

Canary trekking

Gran Canaria canary trekking

Gran Canaria trekking

Gui gui beach trekking

GuiGui beach trek

Hippie juice :) with view (+ pepsi)

Doghouse with a view

Almond tree picture

Pot plant, Gran Canaria, Spain

Trapped plants, Gran Canaria, Spain

Rainbow gathering @ Guigui in Gran Canaria, Spain

Roque Nublo, Gran Canaria Spain

Roque Nublo stone

Senderismo Canarias

Senderismo en Gran Canaria

Senderismo Gran Canaria Spain

Tasartico Gran Canaria trekking

Tejeda & Culata, Gran Canaria (Spain)

Travel Grand Canary

Trekking Gran Canaria

Top 5 travel mobile phone applications

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Free Android mobile phone applications for travel - top 5I have during the last year found some interesting and useful applications that I use in my mobile. Some of these are good when travelling and I thought to share them with you. All the applications are for free, but keep in mind that they are for mobile phones with the Android operating system. You can probably find similar programs for your mobile phone if you have another OS.

1) MapDroyd
This program gives you an offline map for whatever countries you choose, with street names and interesting points like gas- train- and bus stations, hospitals and more. Every country usually takes between 1-100 mb of space to download, and when you have it you don’t need an internet connection like Google Maps and similar map applications do. The only negative thing with MapDroyd is that it does not have navigation built in yet, which means you can only use it as a map instead of getting directions from point A to B.

2) Compass
It’s self explanatory that it is sometimes good to have a compass. The thing with this application is that you also can save positions and later on you will see in which direction the saved position is in and how many meters away it is. I prefer to find the way by myself or even getting lost, which makes you learn the neighborhood faster, but this application is a good backup when you are tired or in a hurry.

3) SlovoEd Compact dictionaries
I use different dictionaries for different  languages but keep coming back to SlovoEd’s compact dictionary which I think works fine and have a lot of languages to choose from. It also have speech built in to hear pronunciations. On top of this I use Advanced English & Thesaurus to improve my English. This dictionary have more than 1.4 million words, synonyms, antonyms, related words and explanations.

4) GPSTracker Lite
This program is good for a lot of different things. The main idea is to track your movement and then get statistics over your speed and altitude and even to see on a map or satellite picture where you have been. This is for example good when working out (bicycling, running etc) or trekking.

5) AK Notepad
Ok most people use TripIt to save their travel information, but I think the service is not user friendly and usually doesn’t work with the airlines I travel with. That’s why I use AK Notepad instead to write down important travel information and other things that I have to remember. The program even have an optional setting to back up your notes online.

The applications above are all downloadable from the Android Market. On top of these applications I also use some of the already built-in applications in the Android OS, like the calendar (with Google Calendar synchronization), the email application, the web browser, alarm clock, WIFI analyzers and security programs.