UPDATE (April 2013)
This site was the blog I kept for my long-term travels, mainly through Asia, in 2009-2010. I'm not maintaining it any more. To read about my more recent travels, mainly through Latin America, in May 2013 - June 2013, please click here: DrinkTheWater: Daniel Gerber Travel blog
For those who're not familiar with blogs, note that this part is only my profile, the blog entries are linked from the bottom of this page (or subscribe, so you'll always know when I have a new one)
Having always dreamed about travel, previously mainly done it as three-week or four-week sorties I finally arranged to take 13 months off from work, Feb 2009 - March 2010, to backpack around Asia, at the age of 36-37. I kept this blog for my friends and family to keep up-to-date with where I was. I've now left it there so that when I meet poeple who say "you should show me your photos one day" I can refer them to this URL so they have no excuse to not look at my photos.
My plan was to see as much of Asia as I could without flying - taking local transport. I'd booked four weeks volunteering on an archaeological survey in the Jordanian desert, not far from Petra, and I hoped to get there all the way overland (except for flying between Darwin and East Timor). For reasons you can read in the entry "Why I stopped at Oral", I didn't make it, but technically I made it overland from East Timor to Europe, so that's something.
There are several weeks missing in the middle, from the end of my time in Jordan, through my time in Egypt, through catching up with relatives in Switzerland, to a few days in London. From there I flew to India and began the blog again. It ends suddenly because my laptop died. After the last blog on Myanmar, I spent another week or so in Myanmar which was really nice, I might get around to putting up the photos one day. I then flew back to Bangkok, and then to Lombok, Indonesia, where I spent nearly three weeks trying to learn Bahasa Indonesian, which now, 18 months later, I've completely forgotten. Anyway, that should fill in the missing bits.
If the code below this doesn't work, click on This external link
to see an approximate map of where I travelled. The map isn't good because it doesn't show how I got around (flying verses train) - e.g. I went overland as far as Oral, but at the end flew a lot - Egypt to Switzerland, Switzerland to India, (India home for a week), India to Thailand, Thailand to Burma, Burma back to Thailand, Thailand to Indonesia (Lombok), Indonesia (Lombok) home.
View Full Size Travel Map at Travellerspoint
February 20th 2010
Some of the details of some of the local characters in this blog and the next two blogs may or may not have been changed to protect their identity. As you'd know, I'm back in Melbourne now, finished travelling. I couldn't keep up my blog because my computer broke down in Myanmar, and then after I got it fixed it broke again in Lombok. Most of this was written during those few days where it was working. I'm going to try to write another three or four but I'm not sure I can remember what actually happened during that time! Most of this blog was written a month ago, but refers to the period January 25 - 31. So we arrived in Myanmar. If you’re very old or not very knowledgeable you might still know this ... read more
February 13th 2010
This blog is late not just because I’m lazy but also because I’ve been unable to get onto Travelblog for nearly three weeks for reasons I’ll explain in the next two or three blogs, and because my computer crashed. This blog covers approximately the period 17-24 January. To some degree I do kind of feel like I didn’t do India as well as I might have done, and maybe I should have come back to SE Asia a bit earlier. Anyway, I flew from Kolkata, India to Bangkok, Thailand. From Hindu temples and cows and a dense blanket of humanity, to Buddhist temples and a less dense blanket of humanity. And nary a cow to be seen. I found this to be a bit of a culture shock, particularly in modern Bangkok itself. How can they ... read more
January 24th 2010
There’s a body lying in the Varanasi Junction train station. A human body. Of course, there are lots of bodies all over the place at train stations, but this one doesn’t have a person in it any more. At least, it was there was when I was there in the wee hours at the beginning of January 7, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it’s still there. I took the train from Varanasi to Kolkata. It was scheduled to leave at 18:10. After a few hours word got around that it was very late, probably going to leave around midnight some time. I figured there wasn’t much point leaving, so I lay down on a quiet bit of platform, with my sleeping mat protecting me from the normal dirt of the platform, and tried ... read more
January 4th 2010
This blog contains adult themes. If you’re under 18, well ... you know ... this’ll probably be too tame for you anyway so get back to sexting or whatever. There are photos of rock carvings of sexual activities, so if two levels of abstraction aren’t enough to keep you from being offended, skip to the next blog which should be ready in a day or two and is better than this one anyway (albeit longer). (Also note that I've "published" two blogs today, the last one was about four hours ago) It was Christmas morning, I got up early and headed down for the 05:30 a.m. boat trip down the Ganges. It was much similar to the one I’d done in the last blog, in the evening, but there wasn’t much happening. Still, it seemed as ... read more
January 2nd 2010
In Varanasi, I visited Manikarnika Ghat, the burning ghat, where dead bodies are burned and their ashes dumped into the Gages. I stood near the top and looked down along all the fires. It was a somewhat eerie scene. The sun sets early in winter so it was dark, with old buildings packed tightly behind me, and in front of me the downward slope to the river where several boats were piled high with firewood. At least seven large fires were visible at various places along the river and further up-hill, with hundreds of people milling around everywhere or squatting around smaller fires. There was no crying or wailing. I thought I could make out a few shrouded bodies lying in the water again, but that was a hundred metres or more downhill from me. An ... read more
January 2nd 2010
The main reason people come to Jaisalmer is to do a Camel Safari. I opted to do one with the guesthouse I was staying with because they didn’t do the hard sell. I didn’t mention in the last blog that on my first day there I stayed in a guesthouse who advertised that they don’t do the hard sell, and a lot of other things that turned out to not be true. It turned out at that place that I couldn’t leave the room nor come back without a half-hour rant by them about why I should do their camel safari. I should have guessed, since the room was good and only Rs 100. So the next day I left and went to this other guesthouse. Anyway. As luck would have it I got food poisoning ... read more
December 24th 2009
The thing that I somehow accidentally left out of my last blog about Amritsar, when I was describing the town, is that despite, or perhaps because of, its slightly more affluent population, it seems at least as superstitious as Delhi. As well as a “homoeopathic hospital” and a “homoeopathic doctor” there were a few others which were spelled correctly. I don’t know what goes on inside a homeopathic hospital but I imagine it’s something like url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0&feature=PlayList&p=8CABC2C1EB733183&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=1 this (external link, may be slow if you’re on a slow connection, not really relevant anyway). Anyway... After arriving back in Delhi I wasted a few more days hanging around. When I remember the beginning of the year where some of the most memorable cities were places I only stayed for one day, I realise... read more
December 16th 2009
As I mentioned in the last blog, it snowed all the last day I was at SECMOL, the NGO near Leh. I eventually got into town and spent the night in a freezing cold little room with no hot water. My flight was scheduled to leave at 09:00 the next morning, and as I tried to leave at about 07:00 I found out that the owner’s wife had apparently not told him that I wanted his taxi services to the airport. Since his car was therefore parked deep under snow he was unable to get it out. I walked up the street to find a taxi that wasn’t buried in snow, and walked past a few Indians (as in, non-Ladakhis) getting into a taxi. I asked if they were going to the airport. “Sure, hop in” ... read more
November 17th 2009
This blog covers the period Nov 8-14,2009. I’m getting to know a few of the students’ names now. Six (four girls and two boys) out of the 38 are called “Stanzin” which should help but doesn’t. Their photos are also all hung up in the kitchen but I only discovered this fact this week, and some aren’t easily recognisable from their photos. There’s a few other first names shared by two or three kids, and two girls have exactly the same name (first name and surname). I guess Ladakhi just doesn’t have enough names to go round. I still don’t know most of their names, but at least I can recognise nearly all the students now, so I bet if I stayed another week or two after this one I’d have most of the names down ... read more
November 14th 2009
I’d been wanting to do some volunteer work for a while, but it’s hard to find places that aren’t dodgy or don’t expect you to pay them a fortune for the privilege of working for them. I’d heard about an NGO/school called SECMOL near Leh, and emailed them before I went to Leh last time (the blogs two and three blogs ago). Their webpage said that they sometimes take a week or two to reply. Just as I was leaving Leh last time, I emailed them again, as by then it was nearly two weeks. They replied that they’d got me mixed up with someone else. Apparently another “Daniel” from Australia turned up just after I emailed and they thought he was me. By the time I discovered this I was back in Delhi. I’d tried ... read more