Joel David SternD.O.B:
15/05/1982 (That makes me 24 right?)Place of Birth:
Newcastle upon TyneLikes:
The Arctic Monkeys, The Beatles, Biographies, Celtic Music, Che Guevarra, Chicken, Cinema, Conversations with new people, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dire Straits, Dreams, Drinking, Extras, Folk Music, Football, Friends, Guiness, Honesty, Humour, Indie music, Kaiser Chiefs, Kasabian, The Kinks, The levellers, Life, Lion King, Mates, Maximo Park, The Music, Neighbours, Nick Harper, Newcastle, Oasis, Rev Hammer, The Pogues, The Royle Family, Seinfeld, Shameless, Skiing, The Smiths, Sonovagun, South park, The Stone Roses, Talking Politics, Tea, The Office, Travel, WWE Wrestling.Dislikes:
Apathy, Arrogance, Coffee, Dishonesty, Extremism, People who don't give 100%, Religion. Previous travel experiences:
1998 - 2 weeks in Malaysia.
2000 - 10 months in Israel.
2002 - 6 weeks in South America (Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Brasil).
2004 - 6 weeks in Indochina (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia).
2004 - 2 weeks in Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia).
2005 - 2 weeks in Cuba.Visited Countries Map
August 20th 2006
Wow! Thats really all I can say. Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! I can't believe we made it. We have seen and done so much over the past 20 weeks. We have had some amazing experiences and some very trying ones. We have come through some excellent times and some difficult times. We have always been there for each other. Some words about Adam (I know he won't bother reading this so I can say what I want). Its always a test travelling with someone else. During our time in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan we spent about 2 months together, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without seeing any other backpackers. We got through it. Adam has always been good company. He has helped me through the difficult periods of this trip, as I hope ... read more
August 19th 2006
Last stop - Shanghai. We made it! After arriving at 22:30, we took a taxi from the central station, this time avoiding getting ripped off (there's a first) and arrived at the Astor House Hotel, mentioned in the guidebook. We walked in the doors of the hotel and were shocked. How on earth could this be a budget hotel? WIth marble floors and bell-boys I have never seen a hostel like this before. I went to the reception desk to make sure we had the right place and despite the fact that the Astor House is a 4-star hotel, I was informed that they do have a "dormitory" whith beds going for 5 pounds a night. We paid up front and, as ever in China, had to go through numerous bureaucratic processes, filling in forms and ... read more
August 15th 2006
We arrived into Xi'An at 08:00 with runny noses and dry throats from the air-con in the train compartment. On exiting the station we were suprised at the sheer number of people who had turned out to welcome us - we wanted this to be a quiet affair! We managed to spot the guy who had a board with our names on it and he escorted us to a waiting car while saying "Show me the money" continuously and laughing about it. Strange! We got to the Shuyuan Hostel and checked in before relaxing in our deliciously cold air-conditioned room for a few hours. Some time after noon, we headed out into the hairdryer and purchased our onward train tickets for sunday before having a stroll around Xi'An's modern city centre. Xi'An is the oldest and ... read more
August 10th 2006
Beijing - China's capital. With a municipality the size of Beligiumm, over 15million inhabitants, numerous cars, bicycles and construction sites, it is an absolute immensity of heat, humid and heavy pollution. We arrived into Beijing at 05:00 and jumped into the first taxi we found. Stupidly. Once again, you can spend all your time trying to prevent yourself from pickpockets and other scammers but the taxi drivers always get you. We paid well over the odds for our taxi, but arrived at the Far East International Youth Hostel fairly quickly, checked into our dorm room and went straight to sleep. By the time we woke up in the late afternoon and had sorted ourselves out, there was just about time for us to grab a few beers before it was time to go to bed. Having ... read more
August 2nd 2006
Having arrived back from Khatgal, after a torturous 24 hour journey, the first thing I did was shower. Having not had the opportunity to ablute for 6 days, this was a welcome relief and made me feel almost human again. In the evening we went out for a few beers with the new recruits from the hostel. The follwoing day I was up again at 06:00 to call home and then spent the morning laying on the super-comfy sofas in the Golden Gobi. the staff here have all made us feel so welcome and when we found out that, due to our visas expiring, we could either leave today or extend them which would mean another 7 days in UB, the decision was an easy one. Uugi's brother Bob treated us to lunch and I went ... read more
July 25th 2006
Adam, Debbie and I met up first thing on saturday morning and went down to the train station to buy our tickets for the night train north to Erdenet, after which, Adam sorted out tent and equipment hire while Debbie and I went food shopping to buy supplies for the next 7 days. We returned laden with bags of rice, pasta, instant noodles and Haribo, which we sorted out and packed up with the tents and other camping equipment organised by Adam before we took a taxi to the station and boarded our 20:55 train for Erdenet. Having spent many, many hours on these trains previously, the 12 hour ride north was a complete sinch, and before we knew it, we were being woken up by the carriage supervisor and asked to get off the train ... read more
July 16th 2006
The highlight of the Mongolian year is the Naadam Festival held anually between the 11-13th July. It consists of the 3 'manly' sports; Archery, Wrestling and Horse racing, although the popular Ankle-Boning has been added to the roster in recent years. Although we had never actually planned to be in Mongolia for this event, it just so happened that we were and what a bit of luck that turned out to be! Having arrived back from the Gobi the previous evening, I managed about 4 hours sleep before waking up at 05:00 to call home and let everyone know that I was safe and well and up to this point, have not yest decided to jack in my job and become a nomadic herdsman on the Mongolian steppe. We had pre-booked a day-tour from the hostel ... read more
July 11th 2006
An early start at 07:00 and some mongolian cornflakes soaked in yak's milk before our guide Baysaa came to pick us up from the hostel. we went by car to the Golden Gobi to meet Jason, Madeleine, Morritz and our driver Dugreh before heading off in our fully-packed furgon (old russian van). After about 30 minutes of driving we came off the tarmac and onto a dirt track and that would be the last we would see of civilisation for the next 8 days. We continued for about 5 hours until we came to a tiny village consisting of a few gers. A ger is a traditional mongolian home which looks a little bit like a Native American teepee but is round and covered with felt with a small wood-burning stove in the centre. We stopped ... read more
July 3rd 2006
We pulled into Ulaan Baatar, fondly known as UB at 8:00 and walked a couple of kilometres to Zaya's Guesthouse, where we were told to leave our bags and come back at 13:00. We left our packs and went out to find somewhere for breakfast. We found a Mongolian fast-food eaterie close to the hostel, where I had sausage stir-fry which actually wasn't too bad. We spent the next few hours checking out a number of tour operators trying to find a reasonable price for a tour to the Gobi desert and eventually stumbled accross the Golden Gobi Guesthouse, who if we book through them, can also offer us a bed for the Naadam Festival which starts when we return. Beds for this period are scarce and already mostly booked out, so this effectively sealed the ... read more