Follow my adventures as I travel through Asia, the sub-continent, Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe for a year or so. I'll be travelling solo, independantly and on a tight budget so it should be interesting.
There's been a little change in my itinerary. I cannot get a Iran visa as a Canadian so I opted to fly to Athens from Mumbai. From there I'll go through the Balkans in about a month before heading south toward Cairo overland.
I welcome any comments or constructive criticism.
December 31st 2006
Arriving on the 23rd in Dahab, I spent the next 8 days there, doing very little. I would spend the day either sitting on the beach sipping banana shake while reading, snorkelling in some world-class coral, chatting it up with other travellers or laid-back locals or lazily surf the internet. The evening were spent drinking and chatting with other people, or watching movies at Tota, the famou boat-bar of Dahab. I did very little and I loved it that way. Philip (the quebecer from Petra) joined me on the 24th and we celebrated Christmas together and some people from the Auski camp. For New Year the fun was a bit broken because I realized only before we were supposed to go out that all the ATMs in town were out of money and I didn't have ... read more
December 23rd 2006
There is only a very early morning bus and a mid-afternoon one going to Amman from Damascus and I missed the early morning one so I had to negotiate a taxi. I found a indian-british guy who was heading the same way so we teamed up and after an hour of waiting managed to get enough people to fill the cab. We made it quite quickly to the border where the driver greased our way through with a little bakhsheesh so we didn't have to wait for the hordes of turks that were ahead of us. Arriving in Amman I managed to get a cab right away to the bus station I wanted to take. As mentioned in my previous blog I didn't want to linger too long in Jordan, not because the country didn't interest ... read more
December 20th 2006
Ah Syria. The mecca of the backpacker and the nemesis of our friend W. Everybody I met who went in the country raved about it so I was excited to finally get in. The day started badly though. In Antakya I was dropped by the bus' station servis (van that takes you the bus station when it is on the outskirts of town) in the middle of nowhere and I had to wait for 2 hours in a disgusting pit without any restaurant, stores or places where I could change my remaining syrian currency. Not a great place to be when you're starving and have too much turkish currency. But anyway a bus eventually did pull up and reached the frontier fairly quickly. The frontier was funny on both sides. On the turkish side I saw ... read more
December 10th 2006
Leaving Konya was as painful as getting in. I was determined to use that tram to get out of town but finding it took a long time even though it was only a few minutes walk away. I was told by the hotel guy that I had to take bus so I went to the bus stop in front of the hotel and tried to ask someone but no one could speak english or understand my broken turk, until one man laughed at me and told me to walk before taking off (but not saying in which direction). Trying again to snatch information from these overly nice turks I ended up finding the 2 women from the hotel (those who mistook me for a turk) who showed me the way. I was just 2 minutes away ... read more
December 5th 2006
The overnight bus from Istanbul was smooth sailing. I had heard of the good reputation of turkish bus companies and they certainly lived up to my expectations. Quality buses, no hassle. I'd even say they're a bit boring. Anyway, I got in Selcuk in early morning and quickly found my way to an ANZ hostel, the first one I stumbled upon. I got a dorm bed for a good price after only a little bargaining and even had a good breakfast. I chatted it up with a retired canadian couple backpacking around who were so friendly and interesting. The man was a career officier and had been stationed in Pakistan before Independance, he had crazy story to tell about those weekends he used to spend in Kandahar and Kabul and the stuff he found in the ... read more
November 30th 2006
We arrived in Istanbul in early morning and were dropped somewhere in the biggest bus station I've ever seen, and the most confusing. There's no central schedule, there are about 180 companies, all with their own offices and schedule and no one share the information. Crazy. We had some general direction to the hostel we wanted to go to but no guidebook. It was too early for money changing but we eventually found a cornerstore guy who was willing to exchange some euros. We eventually found the way through 2 metro ride to Sultanahmet, the tourist district of Istanbul. We found the hostel which we had been told was good but it was full so we opted for the Big Apple, another one just in front. Istanbul, the city at the junction of 2 continent. The ... read more
November 23rd 2006
The train ride from Bucharest to Sofia was a blast. The 3 frenchies who shared the compartment with me had alcohol and a pack of card! They showed me a new card game which was a blast and the night passed really fast. We were woken up at around 5:30AM and got off the train in one of the most confusing and beaten down train station I've seen in a long time. It seems that the train station's designer thought they were building a station for Moscow and forgot that Sofia is not like 15 millions people. It's way too big and not maintained, plus everything is written in cyrillic and the women we tried to ask direction were about as nice as a unionized french employee. I hate to be pessimistic about a whole people ... read more
November 22nd 2006
I had an empty train carriage all the way from Belgrade to Bucharest except at one small moment in the night when I woke up to find 2 Roma men on the bench in front of mine, looking at me sleeping. I try not to believe those stories about gypies but they're a bit too common for me not to belive entirely in them and I know for sure that there are other empty carriages so I know that these men are not in my carriage because they have to. I stared at them for a while but I knew they couldn't steal much, I had my passport and wallet safely inside an inaccessible pocket (I was sleeping on the side and it was on the side I was sleeping on), my camera was in my ... read more
November 17th 2006
The bus driver seemed to be under the wierd impression that we liked to sleep under tropical climate so he made sure that the temperature in the bus wouldn't drop below 35C which made sleep not very comfortable/impossible. Fortunately after a few hours of this treatment someone managed to convince the driver that putting the temperature at "sauna" level was a bit excessive afterwhich, a peaceful night ensued. I was dropped in a bus station in Belgrade slightly before 6AM and it took me quite a while to figure out how the tram system worked. In fact I didn't exactly get it until the next day. I bought a ticket from a stall but when I eventually found the tram stop and got on the one which was supposed to go near the hostel I was ... read more
November 16th 2006
I left Dubrovnik at 8 in the morning on the 12th on the way to Mostar. The granny I had been staying with asked me what were my plans and I foolishly told her what I was truly doing. On the bus I met Mic, a friendly english guy whom had some interesting adventures in Croatia. We followed the coast for a while, which was really amazing, and then went inland. We didn't get stamped in and we never really figured out when we entered the country as you could still see croatian flags well into Bosnia. The landscape was beautiful, rugged and mountaineous. Okay, before I go deeper into the blog I'll try to explain the war in Bosnia as it's such an important part of the live of the people there. But it's a ... read more