"Virtual Travels with Bo Nobo" Bonobo2005's Profile
I have not been able to write up new tips for several years now. But I sometimes read my email, if you have any special questions regarding the destinations I've been, pls let me know!
april 2009 till juli 2010
Saying goodbye to Asia was not easy, and so decided to see some more, before heading back to Europe.
...during the almost 4 months on the road, the main destinations were:
* India: Calcutta, Varanasi, Kajuraho, Orchha (THE pleasant discovery), Agra and Delhi;
* Nepal: Kathmandu, Langtang, Annapurna Circuit and Bandipur;
* China: Hong Kong, Xingping (Dali region), Zhangjiajie NP, Luoyang and Beijing;
* Mongolia: Ulan Baatar, Trek to Blue Lake in Tsetserleg area 12 days, 2 week jeep trip through the Wild East;
* Trans Mongolia Express to Moscow;
* Latvia: a week driving around in rental car;
Back in Europe, it was heart of summer and a good time to hang out in Zurich, Switserland, in order to find a new employer and settle a bit. It was a great time for outdoor activities, I enjoyed several breathtaking hiking trips in the Alps (f.e. in Tessin and Binntal), as well as canoing, skating and cycling outings, and visits to France, Germany and Holland. By November however, I signed up with a Dutch employer and moved to Amsterdam, where I live now and have no plans to move any soon!!
from 2006 to april'09 I lived in Singapore, which was a great experience on its own, with lots of interesting things to do, to see and to enjoy, but also an excellent base to explore the region, with all the budget flights available. I had the chance to make many fun trips to places like:
* Thailand: mostly long weekends to Koh Lanta, Koh Phangan, Koh Lanta, Koh Tao, Phuket, Krabi, Bangkok several times, Chiang Mai area, and Kanchanaburi area;
* Hong Kong;
* China: 10 days Yunnan, 10 days Sichuan, Shanghai, Guangzhou
* Phillipines: Bohol, Cebu, Mt Pinatubo, Siquijor;
* Cambodia: Siem Riep area with Angkor Wat
* Vietnam: Saigon;
* Indonesia: Mt Bromo revisited, Riau Islands incl Pulau Lingga, Pulau Bunaken (Sulawesi), 2 times Bali;
* Malaysia: too many to list, but including the islands of Langkawi, Penang, Perhantians and Tioman, Desaru, Cameron Highlands, KL and Sarawak on Borneo.
I was too busy to make any VT pages!!
The year 2005 was travelwise not the most exciting of all. After coming back from Africa, I had another look in my bank account and concluded their would be no way to retire yet. Hence, I took a new job, and worked for almost all year of 2005. As for holidays, there was an enjoyable week business trip extension at the Brasilian coast.
The absolute travel highlight of 2005 however was revisiting Uganda for 2 weeks, where I spent some time (hours) on chimp tracking and not less than 10 days of well deserved relaxation on the out-of-the-world Banda Island in Lake Victoria.
below is a summary of my travels between 2001 and 2004
2001: Central Asia
I quit my job, rented out my appartment and flew one way to Moscow! For more than a year I had planned this dream journey that had no fixed return date. With sufficient money to last for at least 1,5 year, it meant ultimate freedom!
And so I took it easy in and around Moscow, while I managed to buy a train ticket south to Almaty, Kazachstan. The 72 hour ride was an exceptional experience, especially for the travel novice as I was.
From Almaty I crossed the border with Khyrgyzstan and found a country that is one of the most beautiful I've been. With an average altitude of over 3000m, the road trips are marvellous and you can head into the mountains for superb trekking. Possibly the highlight being horseback trekking for days between the yurts of the hospitable Mongolian descendants.
Next country was Uzbekistan, famous for its well preserved ancient Islamic architecture. But before I got to see any of it, I befriended a Uzbek couple during one of those arduous bus journeys. They invited me to come to their rural village and attend the wedding of his brother! I stayed 5 days with them in the family house, a stay that I still rate as the best of local encounters during my travels to date. The remainder of my time in Uzbekistan was well spent in the historical cities of Bukhara and Khiva, and before we crossed the border with Turkmenistan, we travelled to the former Aral Sea port of Moynaq and witnessed the devestation that has been taken place.
Turkmenistan was a completely different piece of cake. A desert country hard to get in, hard to travel over land and hardly visited by western tourists. A country still dictated in Soviet style by one man in an unsurpassed show-off and where government staff have to survive on "presents". Not the easiest circumstances for a backpacker. The cross desert journey in an old Lada was great, but after that I fell ill and had mostly a bad time.
I was glad to be back in Khyrgyzstan where I shared a jeep with some other travellers to get us to one of Asia's most discussed and adventurous border crossings: the Torugart pass. After 2 days we arrived in a totally different world: Kashgar in China's Xinjiang Province.
2001: China, The Himalayas and India
It was never my intention to travel intensively in China, but few days after 9/11, the situation in Pakistan was too unstable to consider heading into there. So I followed other backpackers in their footsteps and discovered the beauty of Xingjiang and Gansu provinces. I even travelled all the way to Beijing which was one of the most interesting and pleasant Capital cities I've been.
While China has a lot on offer, my dream was Tibet, and the road trip to Nepal. I really had a blast! An all time travel highlight. Things seems to have changed however. I realise now Tibet will never be the same since the construction of the Railway. Someone wrote me that there's no room for pilgrimage anymore in the Potala due to congestion of domestic tourists...
After an incredible journey to the Holy Nam Tso Lake, an independant trekking to Everest BC and further hitch hiking our way into Nepal via the dramatic Cross Himalaya Friendship Highway, I experienced a bit of a travel burn out.
I thought had the best part and toughest part behind me and now needed luxury and consumption for a long while, which was available in abundance in Kathmandu! It appeared to be the right prep for the 15 day tea house trek around the 8000+ m high Anapurna's, another major highlight!
Now I didn't even consider to go to neighbouring India and planned for a flight straight to the Thai beaches! But my travel companion - we traveled together already 2 months - convinced me to postpone that for a while. India became a bit if a mixed bag, where wonder and surprise went hand in hand with irritation and exhaustion. In the past six months, local people itselves were country highlights (except for the Han Chinese who were often rude instead of helpful but mostly still honest), but in India I felt being a constant target of manupilation and cheating. I hated that part, but didn't regret to make this 6 weeks unexpected side trip!
2002: Bangladesh to Indonesia in 9 months
Bangladesh was a great relief after India, although it was not the ideal country to suffer from a bad eye infection! But thanks to a series of unlikely local encounters this was all swiftly forgotten and I had a superb time in a beautiful country totally ignored by the backpackers crowds.
I continued my way to the traditional SE Asian pearl that Myanmar is, despite the many travel restrictions. Definate highlight was exploring the ancient Bagan site by bicycle, while trekking in Shan region with some memorable Hill tribes encounters, was a good second!
It was then getting time for some serious relaxing and a bit of partying. I was heading for Thailand, and found myself hanging around Koh Tao and Koh Phangan for 6 weeks! I also visited briefly Malaysia and Singapore, before ending my long, long journey with five months on Indonesia.
Indonesia is a travellers paradise for its great variety of people, landscapes and attractions, and - not unimportant - very low cost. I kicked off on Sumatra, see great places like Berastagi and Lake Toba, and a did 10 day' jungletrek in rain and mud to meet the Mentawai tribes on Pulau Siberut. I ventured further off the beaten track in Aceh, then plagued by outbreaks of violence. I followed the Central route road to Banda Aceh that cut through the rapidly shrinking jungle of Gunung Leuser. In between, I made a stop at a tiny village to organise a 3 day trek to one of the peaks. The East Coast near Banda Aceh had some of the best and untouched Coastal scenery I've ever seen.
Cruising on the gigantic Pelni ferries, Java was the second Island stop. Highlight here was probably the Mount Bromo area for its amazing scenery.
From Java it took over 60 hours on the bus to reach Pulau Flores, which was more than worth it! The coloured volcanic lakes are a stunning sight and the diving I did in Komodo MP was the best to date.
Bali was the last stop. I realised it was enough now and bought a one way ticket back home to Holland....
2003 First time Africa
The first few weeks home after my long Asia journey were definately fun, spending time with friends and family, but I realised that I had not seen anything of Africa yet and with some money savings left, the choice was easy: I booked another flight, this time to Dar-es Salaam (Tanzania), for a 3 months trip starting in January 2003.
It was an amazing trip, and however I loved Asia, it was now the Africans that stole my heart. I spent 6 weeks in Tanzania, hiking to the Top of Africa, enjoying a great wild life safari and indulging myself in the culture through several remoter Community Tourism Projects such as in Katesh, Usangi and Longido.
I loved Rwanda as well, where I concentrated once more on hiking and culture, but left the famous Gorillas unseen. I made a daytrip into DRC Congo to see the volcanic aftermath in border town of Goma. Uganda, was much easier travel - which I deserved now- and more touristy, but the scenery remained simply stunning. Coming from southern Uganda, I ended up staying over a week on Banda Island, an Island in Lake Victoria, where you can do not much more than testing the various hammocks and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere!
2003: West Africa
I lived temporary at my parents house, wrote up a number of VT pages and wondered what to do next in my life. It was not very surprising. My first journey to Africa had been so overwhelming and exciting that there was nothing else I wanted more than getting back.
This time it would be West Africa! I booked a ticket on one of the last flights of Ghana Airways, operating the last passenger DC10 still flying on Europe! Ghana is nick named Africa for beginners for reason that even the less experienced traveller will feel confident and save here. Ghana possibly offers the best and pleasant experiences that you can get in Black Africa, yet it doesn't attract the masses that tend to be more interested in (the East - / Southern African) animals and mountains than people and culture.
After extensive travels in Ghana's Volta Region, I slowly made my way through rainy Togo and Benin , and eventually found myself travelling on the edge of the Sahara, in the country of Niger. Unforgettable road trips to the remote towns of Zinder and Agadez. In Agadez, I employed a guide to explore the rugged AIIR mountains for over a week, travelling by truck, camel and hitch hiking. We returned just in time for the Cure Salee festival, where thousands of nomadic tribes people gathered togehter for their annual celebration.
I returned to the Airport of Accra through Burkina Faso and the very interesting Ghana's Upper East Region. Three most exciting months in Africa were almost over again...
2004: Back to Africa
My savings lasted for 30 months, but now I had to make money. I worked hard for nine months in the Dutch port of Rotterdam, and by mid September I was ready to hop on the plane to Africa, not been able to curb that ongoing desire for the continent.
I travelled this time around Ethiopia, for which 1 month was way too short, then undertook the epic overland journey via Moyale to Kenya, where I hiked on Mt. Kenya, revisited Tanzania, and explored a part of Africa that was totally new to me: Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
Towards the end of the 3 month journey, I took a train back from Zambia to Dar es Salaam and travelled along the Swahili Coast north to what would appear one of my all time favortite destinations: Lamu Island!
Bonobo2005 Proudly Presents: his pages with Honorable Mention!
Three of my pages made it to the ultimate VT pages top 1000! These pages covers journeys that are amongst my all time travel highlights!
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