Countries i will visit on my journey

Countries i will visit on my journey

Flags of all countries

Flags of all countries

Friday, 18 December 2015

Final stop - Sri Lanka

The last stop on my trip was Sri Lanka which means "resplendent island" in Sanskrit (Indian language) And a shining and glorious island it is indeed. It was the perfect place to finish my journey and I summarised my adventures I made on this beautiful place in the following short stories.

The first 2 days I spent in the capital Colombo. There is not much to say, it was very noisy and dirty and is just a big city you do not want to spend your Sri Lanka holiday in...

After Colombo I took the train to Kandy, the cultural capital located in the heart of Sri Lanka.
This town lies on the Kiri Muhuda lake surrounded by green hills and tropical forest.
There is the famous Buddhist shrine called "temple of the tooth". The legend says that in this
holy building one of Buddha's tooth is stored. And that's the reason why so many pilgrims and tourists are visiting this temple every day.
In the Kandy hostel I met some really nice guys. Had an amazing time in Kandy with them, we partied a lot and even went to see the Rugby final between New Zealand and Australia in a bar.
Me and a girl from New Zealand were dressed totally in black that night to support the "All Blacks", the team from NZ.

One day we did a day trip from Kandy to Sigiriya. To see the famous Sigiriya rock, also often called lions rock. There are basically two huge rocks which stand totally lonely in the hilly and wooded landscape.
Long time ago there were two brothers, the princes of this area. One of them killed his father to become king and moved to his new residence on the 200m high Sigiriya rock. It was a combination of palace and impregnable fortress. But when the other brother arrived with his big army to revenge their father, he was overwhelmed by the sight of the army and killed himself before the battle was fought.
Today there is a steep path with lots of stair steps up to the top of the rock. You pass beautiful
old paintings of the "wind-girls" along the rock walls and the famous mirror wall on the way up. They are very old and the wall is polished in such perfection that you can see almost your own image like in a mirror. But the best thing is the amazing view on top of the surrounding landscape while you are walking through the ruins of this ancient complex.

Train ride through the highland
Me and some guys from the hostel continued travelling together and we became a really nice group, almost like a family! :-)
There were Chen & Ido (Israel), Markus (Canada), Rui (Portugal) and Rohan (Australia).
We took a train from Kandy to Ella and the 7 hour lasting train ride was one of my absolutely highlights on my trip on Lanka.
It was one of the old trains, not faster than 30km/h, where you can sit on the doorway and dangle your feet outside.
Slowly the train made his way through the highland in the centre of the island, which was simply breathtaking!! Such  beautiful green hills and mountains, impressive waterfalls and lots of tea plantations and the hard working tea pickers.

In Ella, the islands most beautiful village, we spent the first night at the home of a very nice and friendly local family. That was really a nice experience!! :-)
On the next day we got lost somewhere in the tea-plantations while trying to hike up Ella rock. Only with the help of a local guide we were able to find the right way. But the view on top was amazing and was worth the 90 minutes hike.

On the way back we met the local guide again and he took us to the base of a big waterfall. There we spent some time swimming and climbing the rocks. I think we were the first human being ever at this place. Because the way down to the fall was very steep and leads through a bean garden. On the last part there was even no path noticeable and we had to made our way through dense undergrowth.
But it was worth it and we took some really cool pictures!! :-)
On the next day Laura (England) joined our group and we hiked up Little Adams peak. A small rock from where we had a nice view of whole Ella, all the tea plantations around and the surrounding landscape.
Rui, Ido, Marcus and me even hiked up the rock again during the night to take some pictures of the very beautiful night sky on that day.

Adams Peak
After the little Adams Peak, we wanted to hike up the real Addams Peak too.
So we went to Nallatanniya, a small village on the foot of the mountain. Our plan was to hike up during the night to see the sunrise on the top.
Unfortunately it was pouring raining at 2am, so we decided to sleep in and check the weather later.
Nobody was very upset with this decision as we had a very long and exhausting day of travelling behind us to get to this remote place.
At around 8am we finally started our way up the more than 5000 stair steps to the peak.
With buttery knees and very tired we finally reached the top. There we could not see anything as it was very cloudy on that day. Also the shrine, where you can see the footprint of Buddah when he first set foot on Sri Lanka was not very spectacular...
It was like Ido said earlier that day: Today reaching the top is not for the view or the shrine. It's for your own proud and Honor. Just to say, yes I have been on the top and I managed the fu^^ing 5000 stair steps up and down again!! :-)
And yeah, going down was really worse for our knees but we finally made it all without any injuries.

After those exhausting last hiking-days we decided that it was time to relax. So we made our way to Mirissa. A small peaceful town on the south shore of Lanka.
There we simply relaxed on the beautiful sandy beach and went for a swim in the beautiful clear and warm ocean. In the evening we always played "Yanif", a very cool and funny card game from Israel.
One day Laura, Rui and me went for a whale watching tour. But it was very disappointing.
After 3 hours of cruising on the ocean we saw one small whale. In fact 7 whale watching boats were chasing this one whale. I felt very sorry about this pour animal and I swear myself never to do such whale watching tours again!!
Because of the rough sea almost everybody on our ship got sick and had to throw out. Rui and me where pretty much the only passengers who were still doing fine, so we had all the prepared lunch snacks for us... :-)

After two really cool weeks together we had to say Goodbye. Chen, Ido and Laura were leaving Sri Lanka and Rui, Marcus and me were heading to the Yala National Park. It was kind of hard to split up because we became a kind of family!! :-) I really hope I will see them one day again...

Yala National Park
Marcus, Rui and me made our way to Tissamaharama (simply called Tissa) by bus, which is next to
the famous Yala National Park. There we took a Jeep-safari through the park.
Yala is said to have the highest population of leopards, but we never saw one on our 7 hour tour through the park. But no wonder, there were about 100 jeeps full of tourists driving on the rough roads scaring all the animals away.
I personally was really disappointed by this safari. For me there were simply to much jeeps and tourists everywhere!!
The only cool thing was when we stopped to watch an elephant. And this boy came really close to our car. I have never been so close to a wild elephant. It was amazing!!
Good they are huge and it looks very funny when they drink water out of a pond with their snout.

I heard there is a smaller park close to Yala called ... . There are not so much tourists it should be cheaper and there is also lots of wildlife (especially birds) to see. Guess I would visit this park the next time I am in Lanka instead of Yala... :-)

My last stop on the island was Negombo. Stayed there the last two days before I had my flight back to Austria.
Did nothing really special in those last days of my trip around the world. Walked along the beach, watched the fishermen in their really cool looking catamarans on the ocean and thought about all the highlights of my trip...

On November 15th 2015 I took my last flight on my journey around the world, to get back to Austria. Arrived there on Monday, 16th and I really surprised my family by showing up 2 days earlier than I had told them.
The expression on their faces when they first saw me and their happy reaction will be forever in my mind...
Now I am back home... time passed so fast... fu^^, I want to continue travelling..., I thought while I was smiling from one ear to ear and entering my home,sweet home to give my family a really big welcome-hug... :-)

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Cycling down Malaysia's east coast

After a few relaxing days on the Perhentians I headed back to Kuala Besut on the east coast of Malaysia. There I stored my new bike I bought in Penang for 70€ in the garage of a friendly local guy.
My goal: Cycle down the east coast all the way down to Singapore
Why? Well, guess I simply wanted to do something, which not every other tourist/backpacker does!!

First I had to attach all my luggage to the bike properly and as cheap as possible.
My friend Willi from Austria gave me some good tips and ideas:
First on the bike rack I fixed two broom sticks as "stabilisers". Then I put the big18kg backpack on the bike rack and tightened it with a belt on the rack and broom sticks. Finally on top I strapped my 5kg day pack. And then I was ready to go!!

Did quiet well the first three days without any issues and so I was able to cycle already 280km.
On the third day I reached the small laid back town Cherating on the east coast.
I got a flat on the front wheel of my bike a few meters before I reached the accommodation. So I pushed it the last meters to the home stay.
Stayed in Cherating for four days in a very cool and cheap bungalow and relaxed my tired legs from cycling.

Well, the first day I did... On the other days I went kite surfing on Cherating's coast.
On the beach Kam and Gabi (Malaysian/Swiss couple) opened a Kite/Surf-school called Kam's Surf Shack, where I rented the material. The two were super friendly and I had a great time there. Although the wind was not really ideal for kite surfing (to less wind!!).

One day I visited also the turtle sanctuary close to town. There injured or small sea turtles are feed to grow up before they are released into the ocean.
I was lucky and could watch a couple of small baby sea turtles being released. The small babies were racing from the beach to the ocean...

After four days I left Cherating to continue cycling down the coast. Cycled on gravel road for hours with my shit-bike without suspension. On the same day the rim of the back wheel broke too.
It was in the middle of nowhere but luckily I found a car mechanic shop on the way. The guys there were super friendly and called a friend of them who brought me the new rim for my bike...

On the next two days there was really strong headwind while I cycled along the coast. It slowed me down very badly and was super exhausting too. There was even a point where I shouted out loud my desperation and cursed the fu^^ing monsoon season in South-East-Asia... ;-)
During this two days I met the only other bicycler on the whole trip. His name was Bob from California but he was heading the other direction from Singapore to Bangkok.
One day some monkeys on the roadside attacked me, while I was passing by with my bike. Luckily I managed to escape these group of freaking bastards. They were not really big at all but very aggressive with sharp claws and fangs. Never saw such apes before and I wonder what they eat normally. Do not seem to me that they are really into eating Bananas... ;-)
After the strong headwind it started raining heavily while I made my way inland through the Malaysian jungle to reach Singapore. My clothes were totally soaked. But rather be wet of the rain than sweating your shirt wet, I said to me.
On the road through the jungle I saw lots of road-signs telling you to be aware of elephants crossing the street. Later I found out that also tigers live in that Jungle. But I never saw one and neither any elephants.
Guess in the end I was lucky with the rain: It was not so hot and humid as usual and I made no unwanted acquaintance with any of these wild jungle animals... ;-)

After 8 days of cycling more than 700km I finally reached Singapore.
No flat wheel, broken rim, heavy headwind, monkey-attacks nor heavy monsoon rain, elephants and tigers or crappy roads could stop me from reaching my goal...
Was a little bit proud of myself on that day and took a few very cool pictures... ;-)

At the hostel I donated my crappy bike and all the bike equipment. After 2 days of just relaxing I went to the airport, said goodbye to South-East-Asia and took the plane to my last destination on my trip around the world: Sri Lanka