Page 2 of Go where the pepper grows Travel Blog Posts

Middle East » Oman » Ash Sharqiya » Sur September 12th 2013

The border guard stamps my passport. I look at him enquiringly, but he just says "Finish", so I thank him and walk off. Why I didn't have to pay the 20€ that I had been quoted, I don't know, but I'm not gonna complain. I take it as a good omen for my sojourn in Oman, which is to be my first real travel experience on the Arabian Peninsula. I wouldn't count the few days of sightseeing I've had in Doha and Dubai as such. I withdraw enough Omani rial to last me for 10-14 days, buy a local sim card and hop back on the bus destined for Muscat, the capital. As per my request, the bus driver drops me off at Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. It's 2pm, certainly not the best time to be ... read more
Beehive tombs of Al-Ayn
Door inscriptions
Desert landscape south of Sur

Via Praha, I make my way northwards, to Trutnov. I arrive after five hours on three different trains, walk to my guesthouse, and learn that the room I booked has been given to someone else. Unfortunately, I don't have any written booking confirmation, as I only called them up and reserved a room using a mixture of English, German and Russian. The lady at the reception nervously makes a lot of phone calls and checks the internet for a place to stay for that sad-looking creature sitting in front of her, who doesn't even understand her language. After maybe half an hour, she finally succeeds in this task and drives me to a place out of town, which actually seems to be closer to the Battlefield, Obscene Extreme's traditional venue. For an acceptable price, I get ... read more
Fuck the Facts
Coldwar singer
Where's the band?

Next up on my journey on the well-trodden path is one of Eastern, um, I mean Central Europe's (sorry, Czechs, my bad) most beloved tourist traps. Český Krumlov is the Czech Republic's second biggest tourist draw, after Prague, of course. Austrians hop over in droves, so do Germans, Russians, French, Italians, and, like with all other European snow globe towns, Chinese and Japanese. Before I get there, however, I stop by at České Budějovice, also known as Budweis. Ungh, one of those things where I think "Do I really have to explain that?": Budweis is the home town of one of the best Czech beers (which makes it one of the world's best beers by default), Budweiser. Apparently, they've been having some copyright issues with a beer of the same name, which is brewed in the ... read more
Eggenberg dark
Český Krumlov in all its glory
Column detail

Europe » Czech Republic » Plzen Region » Plzen July 2nd 2013

After having visited Prague a few times already, but really not that much more in Czech Republic, I decided to branch out a little this time. First stop is Plzeň, the home of Pilsner beer. On the train ride to Prague I find a pretty good conversation partner in Gary, an Australian Indian from Melbourne. We chat about the finer (ha!) details of Australian culture and he provides me with some insight about what kinds of shit he has to take as an Australian with his background. Quite interesting, as so far, I hadn't heard the Australian Indian perspective firsthand. I change trains in Prague and hop on the train to Plzeň, where I arrive one and a half hours later. My host Rufina picks me up from the train station. She's Belarussian and in Plzeň ... read more
Statue of Josef Smetana
Kozel dark
Moorish style ceiling

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Arkhangelsk April 30th 2013

This blog is gonna be slightly different from all my other ones. Usually I travel alone or with my partner in crime, but in this case, I shall be on the road together with PEOPLE. Real people in the real world, can you believe it? Not just random people I picked up at the hostel somewhere either, but people from my Russian group in Halle. The group has been in existence for about nine years already, but I only joined last year. It is a group comprised of students from all kinds of university courses, mostly from Humanities. We have an exchange programme going on with our Russian counterparts in Arkhangelsk, a city in Northern European Russia, located on the shores of the White Sea. Consequently, this town shall be our destination today. Alas, it's a ... read more
House detail
Glorious intoxication
Russian landscape

Asia » Hong Kong » Kowloon April 4th 2013

3am is never a good time to arrive, least of all at a place you've never been to before. Hong Kong's not that bad in that regard: at least there are no touts vying for my tourist dollar, and it feels pretty safe. I take the fast train from the airport to the Central train station on Hong Kong Island. The hard part is trying to orientate myself once I'm out of the station. A maze of barriers, high curbs and stairs awaits me, which is not fun to undertake with too much luggage. As it's the middle of the night, the escalators don't work. Eventually, I manage to cross the very busy street via a pedestrian bridge and find the right bus stop on the other side. When the bus finally arrives, I try to ... read more
Amazing crispy noodles and veggies in black bean sauce
Tram in downtown HK island
Praising the Buddha

Asia » Macau » Macau April 2nd 2013

At China Ferry Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, I buy my ferry ticket to Macau. As the name already suggests, there are quite a few ferries to mainland Chinese cities like Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Dongguan and Gaoming. Thus, the ferry terminal is heaving with mainlanders, all of whom seem to have come to Hong Kong to go on a shopping spree. Their presence doesn't really faze me, though, as I don't have to compete with them for seats. I pass through immigration, where I get stamped out of Hong Kong, then walk to the gate to wait for departure. The ferry itself takes only about an hour to get to Macau. The ride reminds me of the one I took from Ko Tao back to mainland Thailand. The South China Sea is rather choppy that day, making ... read more
Ruins Of Saint Paul's Cathedral
Pasteis de nata
Little Buddhist shrine

Asia » Taiwan » Taipei March 30th 2013

With my internship in full swing, I'm a little too busy, which means I can't embark on as many excursions around Taipei as I would like to. Kind of...unusual for me. I wouldn't have thought that teaching can be that strenuous. No, wait, that was a lie, actually I pretty much expected it to be that way. Tuesday's the worst, where I got three classes with only a short lunch break in between, and afterwards I feel like a bag of dicks. By the way, please spare me the smart arse-comments in the vein of "You think that's a lot? Well, I have five classes each and every day, 365-82, and you don't see me complaining!". For a teaching noob like me it's tough enough standing in front of 40+ students, let alone performing well and ... read more
Me with first year law students
Famous and delicious stinky tofu
Oldtimers singing

Asia » Taiwan » Taipei » Wulai March 22nd 2013

Time do go hiking while I still can. I leave the house a little too late in the morning, take the MRT to Xindian, the last stop on the Green Line, which takes me already a good 45 minutes. Then outside the station to wait for the bus to Wulai with a lot of old Taiwanese people, who seem to be constantly hiking everywhere. When the bus comes, they try to do the idiot Chinese thing of pushing in before everybody gets off, but I stand my ground, hop on and secure the last seat. No point in being overly polite and offering my seat to rude, old people who are still fit enough to hike all over the island anyway. 40 minutes later, I'm in Wulai. Lonely Planet describes it as 'rural, bucolic splendour', a ... read more
Aboriginal mural
2nd level of Xinxian Waterfall
Fried noodles and spicy silken tofu

Asia » Taiwan » Taipei » Danshui March 16th 2013

The historic seaside town of Tamsui, located northwest of Taipei, has been on my list of places to visit ever since I came to Taiwan. Technically a district of the mega-city of New Taipei, Tamsui (also known as Danshui) is easily reached by metro, being the northern terminal station on the red line. Its long and storied history saw several European nations fight for hegemony in the Taiwan Strait and as a result, Tamsui was occupied various times. First the Spanish arrived in 1628, establishing the town and mission of Santo Domingo to secure their interests in the Philippines against the Dutch, the British and the Portuguese. Fort San Domingo was built by the Spanish in the same year as a military, political, trade and missionary base. In 1642, the Dutch expelled the Spanish, took over ... read more
Former British consulate
Depiction of Taiwanese Aboriginals with stretched earlobes
Vegetarian pizza

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