Living the Dream - Ben travels around South America - July 2022 until August 2023

In July 2022 - after a two-year, Covid-induced delay - I left on a year-long sabbatical. Starting in Madrid (Spain), my travels will take me all across South America - and possibly further. My plan is to move slowly, taking my time to properly explore and roam, before returning home to Berlin (Germany) in August 2023.

I hope you enjoy my stories as much as I enjoy my journey. Any feedback (public comment on any blog entry or a private message) is very much appreciated and makes the blog special to me and everybody else.

Also have a look at my pictures on Flickr.

Previously on this blog: Living the Dream - Ben travelled around the world - April 2008 until March 2011
In April 2008, I quit my fast-paced corporate job, sold most of my belongings, and left on a world trip - and never looked back. Starting in Berlin (Germany) and heading east, my journey would last for three years and took me across parts of Eastern Europe, Russia, Asia, Oceania, Central America and finally India, before returning home to Germany at the end of March 2011 after 1091 days on the road. It truly was a trip of a life-time, and the memories will stay with me forever. You can find the pictures of this trip on Flickr and my chosen route here.

I have also published a book about this trip - you can find it on Amazon, iTunes or Kobo (and most other online book shops).

Please also take note that I never intend to offend anyone with my blogs but merely want to share my experiences (good and bad). So please don't get all worked up by my entries. Constructive criticism is of course very welcome indeed! Having said that, I was never aiming to write a politically correct blog. My writing is (naturally) highly subjective and expresses my personal opinions.

Finally, if you want to support my travels with a small donation via Bitcoin (bc1p7a23v00vs6szxtk333k04ge5kmzf8cyy7qqr0uc9dh46kzg6hyhssfzp9p) or Ether/ Polygon/ BSC (0x4a33E893edfba89bbEf6A50F8e53D4291Bb05b52), this would be very welcome indeed!

My journey between 2008 and 2011: Germany (home, start) - Turkey (9 days) - Germany, Berlin (2 days) - Lithuania (6 days) - Latvia (4 days) - Estonia (5 days) - Finland (4 days) - Russia (26 days) - Mongolia (17 days) - China (70 days) - Japan (42 days) - South Korea (10 days) - North Korea (10 minutes) - China (8 days) - Vietnam (15 days) - Laos (35 days) - Thailand (3 days) - Myanmar (25 days) - Thailand (9 days) - Malaysia, Peninsular (74 days) - Singapore (7 days) - Indonesia, Sumatra (27 days) - Malaysia, western Borneo (36 days) - Brunei (4 days) - Malaysia, eastern Borneo (42 days) - Indonesia, Java & Bali (28 days) - Singapore (7 days) - Taiwan (17 days) - Philippines (18 days) - Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (2 days) - Indonesia, Lombok & Bali (10 days) - Australia (47 days) - New Zealand (107 days) - Fiji (14 days) - USA, Hawaii & California (31 days) - Mexico (21 days) - Guatemala, Tikal (3 days) - Belize (9 days) - Guatemala, Rio Dulce (5 days) - Honduras, Copan (2 days) - Guatemala (26 days) - El Salvador, western part (9 days) - Honduras (16 days) - El Salvador, eastern part (8 days) - Nicaragua (13 days) - Costa Rica (14 days) - Panama (35 days) - USA, Florida (11 days) - Germany, break at home (55 days) - India (96 days) - Germany (home, the end).


Asia » India » West Bengal » Darjeeling March 31st 2011

(Day 1091 on the road) OK, I know that I have “ended” my trip before and that I have already written the “final” blog of my journey back in October 2010, before returning to the road for a few more months. But I promise that this time it is really over. Safe from a possible Highlight-Blog in a few months' time, this will be my last entry. It is a sentimental feeling to know that this time it really is the end, but there is no way around it really. Three years of travel, albeit with a two-months break in between, have gone by, and I feel this is somehow the right time to end it all. And what better place to look back on nearly 36 months of traveling than at the foot of the ... read more
Woman in traditional Gorkha dress
One of over 80 tea plantations in the Darjeeling area

Asia » India » Andhra Pradesh » Hyderabad March 21st 2011

(Day 1081 on the road)Holi cow! I knew that the ecstatic Indian Holi festival was going to be great, but nobody could have prepared me for what we were about to experience. It was a simply mad, and we had a blast! A little background: Holi is celebrated in India to welcome the spring and say goodbye to winter. Basically people take to the streets and throw bright colour powder called gulal at each other, while bonfires the night before are lit to symbolise the demise of the evil demoness Holika, who gives the festival its name. It is celebrated differently in different parts of India, with the north apparently being wilder than the south. But the celebrations here in Hyderabad proved plenty for us as it turned out, and we were very content. It had ... read more
Coloured Luc and me
Holi cow - celebraters at the Holi festival
Getting directions to the city's Holi hot spots from the colour mechant

Asia » India » Kerala » Kochi March 18th 2011

(Day 1078 on the road)A long time ago, I made a list of 50 places in the world I wanted to try and visit during my life. I have already managed to see a fair bit of these, but not yet the lesser-known backwaters of Kerala. Together with better-known places like the pyramids in Egypt, Angkor Wat in Cambodia or indeed the Taj Mahal here in India, Kerala has always been on that list. Not surprisingly, I was very excited when we were finally entering Kerala on yet another overnight train from Goa – and I was not to be disappointed! Kerala's interior is criss-crossed by a network of 900km or so of canals, rivers and lakes, where often the only means of transport for the people living here is by boat. Thus, the life of ... read more
Fisherman retrieving his net
Local fishermen in Kochin
Young girl with red chilly

Asia » India » Goa » Palolem March 11th 2011

(Day 1071 on the road)And then, things got better. The further south we moved, the less hassle there seemed to be. After we left the northern Indian states behind and headed for the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Ellora Caves, Mumbai and Goa, things turned decidedly more relaxed. Of course there were still the constant "Hello sir, auto rickshaw?" cries from the drivers in the streets, but they seemed less persistent than in the north of the country, and non-rickshaw touts declined noticeably. Ah, niiice. Speaking of auto rickshaws: One of these, painted bright yellow, made of plastic, maybe about 20cm long, and in the possession of naughty Luc, proved to be a near endless source of fun for us all and many passer-bys. Jasmin had bought the toy auto rickshaw for Luc in Udaipur, ... read more
Life guard putting up his flag on Palolem's beach
It wouldn't be an Indian beach without cows on it
University of Mumbai

Asia » India » Rajasthan » Udaipur February 26th 2011

(Day 1058 on the road) "Sir, what is your good name?" When I first heard this question here in India, I was somewhat puzzled. What, indeed, was my good name? Did I have a badone as well? Do Indian people have two names, one good, one bad? Might I in the end have to adopt a second name? Like these little encounters, there are many things that are just that tiny bit different here in India than elsewhere, and which take some getting used to at times. Some are so small that you need delicate antennas to notice them, others (like a few things I mentioned in my previous blog, ie. the hassle and the rubbish), are very much more in-your-face type of things. In total, I feel that they make India a very testing country ... read more
By the lake in Udaipur
Luc covered in sand after rolling down the dunes near Jaisalmer
Camel polo match at the Jaisalmer Desert Festival 2011

Asia » India » Uttar Pradesh » Agra February 13th 2011

(Day 1045 on the road) Let's have a vote. A vote for the dirtiest country on this planet.The rules are simple: 1) You need to have been there yourself and witnessed the situation first-hand, and 2) Air-pollution does not count (sorry, China). After careful consideration and an assessment to all the countries I have been to in the past, my vote goes - whole-heartily - to India. Anybody who seconds that - what do you think, what are your nominations? In any case, the level of pollution in India is nothing short of appalling. Rubbish bins or waste collection services are all but unheard of, so people drop their litter wherever they happen to be. Finished with that plastic bag of milk, this banana, that cup of tea? Into the gutter, down the river, out of ... read more
Corpse being burned at Manikarnika ('Burning') Ghat in Varanasi
Does the horse smile during this Kama Sutra excercise in Kajuraho I wonder?
Old men in a boat in Varanasi

Asia » India » Orissa » Rourkela February 2nd 2011

(Day 1034 on the road) Now, what exactly am I doing here? My last blog entry was supposed to be the final one, marking the end of my 2 1/2 year world trip. But at the end of December, after a short interlude back home in Germany, I decided to move to North-East India (initially for three months for the time being) to join Jasmin and Luc. Jasmin is doing her PhD at the NIT university in the smallish steel-town of Rourkela in Orissa, and Luc is her immensely cute and intelligent nearly 3-year old son. So what can I say? First, as for this blog, I have - after some consideration - decided to keep writing until my (final?) departure home at the end of March - which will incidentally also mark exactly three years ... read more
Boys playing cricket
Women washing and bathing in the river
Luc closeup

North America » United States » Florida » Miami October 31st 2010

(Day 940 on the road)How do you even begin writing the final blog entry after over 2 1/2 years of travelling? I am struggling. Writing my blogs along the way over the last 31 months has always been something I was looking forward to. It gave me the time to pause and reflect, to address issues that have been on my mind, to choose the best and most meaningful pictures, to consider what has been really important to me. Not this time. I have been dreading this entry for a while now, but there is no way around it; I might as well get it over and done with. So here it is, my feeble attempt to hide the sentimentality that has taken hold of me over the last weeks, and which grew stronger the closer ... read more
Oh no! (woman with body-painted bra in Key West)
Great Blue Heron in the Everglades
Vintage car

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Darién October 20th 2010

(Day 929 on the road) My final ten days in Central America after over five months of travelling across the region have also been my wildest and weirdest by far. They left me with beautiful memories that I will never forget in my life, and it was an incredible experience. I am talking about a visit to the wild stretch of jungle in eastern Panama that is the Darién Gap. With Tino gone and me once again being on my own, I was pondering what to do. There were numerous options, as always, but in the end I decided to head down into the infamous Darién province, where the Pan-American (the Inter-Americana) highway suddenly stops without as much as a warning near the town of Yaviza, only to resume some 150km further south in Colombia. The ... read more
Preparing the jagua-juice for my Embera body painting in Mogue
Old man weighing fish with an ancient tool
Embera house on stilts in Mogue

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama Canal October 11th 2010

(Day 920 on the road)Leaving the peaceful island of Boca Brava behind, we once again found ourselves on the Pan-American highway, going east. Our next stop was Isla Cana, off the southern coast of the Azuero peninsular. We had hoped to get here in one day, but a massive and colourful party in the tiny town of Guarare, which we stumbled right into by pure chance along the way, meant we had to spend the night along the way. The party however, the Feria de la Mejorana, was amazing, with folklore groups from all over Panama and other Central American countries descending like a swarm on the otherwise near-dead town. We stopped for a few hours and mingled with the locals, only slightly hindered by our backpacks in the dense crowds, listening to the bands and ... read more
Kuna feet garments
Skyline of Panama City
Tucan at El Valle zoo

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