Page 5 of Susurros somnolientos Travel Blog Posts

Asia » China » Jiangsu » Suzhou March 17th 2012

Ah, Suzhou, pleasant little town, easy to navigate. I wish I could say that, but I don't wanna lie. In fact, though, most Chinese people would think of Suzhou as a small town, as it has only around four million inhabitants. Referring to the 2010 Census, that means there are still 20 (!) cities in China that are bigger than Suzhou. Probably only the Top 6-8 would be considered 'big cities' by most. This time I arrive by train, catch a local bus, which unfortunately again takes almost an hour to near my host's place. Slowly but surely I'm getting fed up by the time wasted using local transport. The sheer size of Chinese cities really takes it out of me. Once again I start pondering whether it wouldn't be easier to just stay in a ... read more
Master of the Nets
Small old ladies heading into the temple
There's something comforting about those canals...

Asia » China » Jiangsu » Nanjing March 14th 2012

In Nanjing, for the first time on this trip, I get the opportunity to stay with a Chinese family at their home. Getting there proves to be a bit tough, though. The bus ride from Jiangyin to Nanjing is a breeze, but then finding the right local bus isn't. There are several bus stops outside the main building of the bus station, but still inside the gated area. On the street outside, there are several more, so which one do I go to? And which direction? I see what I take to be my bus, no. 327, arriving at the stop outside, so I hop on and show the driver the slip of paper with the characters of the bus stop where I'm supposed to get off. He studies it for a moment, then nods almost ... read more
Prayer flags detail
Vegetarian temple food
Nanjing skyline from City Walls

Asia » China » Jiangsu » Jiangyin March 8th 2012

Catching a bus from Shanghai to Jiangyin turns out to be easier than I thought. They leave every 30 minutes from Shanghai's Long-Distance Bus Terminal, which is located within walking distance from the Shanghai Railway Station metro station. I copy the Chinese characters for 'Jiangyin' onto a piece of paper, show it to the lady selling the bus tickets, nod and smile when she asks me a question in Chinese, which prompts her to shoot me a weird look, but I just keep nodding and smiling bravely until she gives me a ticket. I have enough time to grab a bite before my bus leaves, so I check out a baozi stall to see if they have vegetarian ones. My standing around awkwardly, shifting from one foot to the other gets me some attention from the ... read more
Nice countryside around Jiangyin
Mapo doufu, Sichuan-style

Asia » China » Shanghai March 4th 2012

Shanghai and I did not get off to a good start. First thing I do is buy a bottle of water at an airport shop, as I'm rather dehydrated and dizzy from the long flight. I ask the shopgirl if she can point me to the metro, but then I realize I'm in China now, and English doesn't get me very far. She calls another shopgirl, and I repeat what I said, but they just look at each other confusedly and then start discussing the finer aspects of my outward appearance, I'm guessing. A person at Shanghai Pudong International Airport who doesn't speak Chinese? Impossibru! Whoa, whoa, hold on a sec! Don't worry, you can continue reading. This is not gonna turn into a blog where I bitch about how nobody in China speaks English. I ... read more
Coloured pottery camel
Guardian lion seal
Greens in wok

Middle East » Qatar » Doha February 29th 2012

I'd already been to the Gulf a handful of times - but only for a few hours each time on a stopover to Australia or Southeast Asia, never leaving the airport. Since I'm a naturally curious guy, I couldn't let that slide. Hence I booked a three-day stopover in Doha before my onwards flight to Shanghai. I really needed to know what these small, rich countries are all about. Qatar has become somewhat of a regional global player, or at least, that's how it sees itself. In 2006, it hosted the Asian Games, in 2011 the Arab Games. Last year the FIFA shocked the world when they announced that Qatar will host the football World Cup in 2022. On the political side, Qatar has become synonymous with the TV-channel Al-Jazeera, "the world's best known - and ... read more
Star tile
Finally some decent hummus again
Pretty Persian cat with 'lion-shave'

Europe » Russia » Northwest » Moscow December 31st 2011

I'm very happy to say that on the second try, I finally made it to Russia. My ill-fated first attempt in 2008 was aborted after a desultory stay in Ukraine and a depressing few days in Belarus. Long story short, I think I wasn't quite ready yet. It's easy enough to buy a plane or train or bus ticket and travel to a foreign country, but to be adequately prepared for the experience and the almost inevitable culture shock continues to be a different story altogether. Of course, it also depends on the approach at travelling you take, but let's not go there now. This time everything was to be different. I get off the plane at Moscow's Domodedovo (a word with four o's, none of which are pronounced like /o/) Airport and set foot on ... read more
Gilded domes
Pirog filled with berries

Europe » Germany » Baden-Württemberg » Heidelberg September 6th 2011

What do I want? What will make me happy? Nothing, nothing, nothing Nothing! Hüsker Dü Heidelberg has something to offer for everyone: If you're a Chinese tourist, you don't have to go out of your way to experience the town's gorgeous two sights. Just stay in line, follow the group and listen to the tour guide's elaborate explanations. Try to take at least 700 photos in two hours. Locals are just there for decorative purposes, so stare and point at the ones that are either very tall or very hairy and shove your oversized lens in their faces. When the guide recommends a certain type of chocolate, you better buy lots to give him or her some face. To wrap up the visit, join the group at the town's best Chinese restaurant, where the owner will ... read more
View on the Old Town from the Castle
O sushi et al.
Minerva's shield

Europe » Germany » Rhineland-Palatinate » Worms August 21st 2011

Worms (pronounced as /voormz/, the -oo- in which being pronounced as in door) is one of those towns in the Southwest of Germany, which, despite having a colourful, troubled history and a rich cultural heritage, suffer from a lack of attention by tourists domestic and foreign. A cynic would probably argue that it only appeals to tour groups comprised of elderly Germans or those showing a keen interest in the ecclesiastical, which might not even be too far from the truth. Indeed, the town feels rather antiquated, almost as if an invisible layer of dust clings on to everything, including the silver-haired locals. Churches abound wherever you look, there are seven in the historical centre alone. There is a half-arsed war memorial at the end of a pretty little park lane lined with flowers and bushes. ... read more
War memorial

Middle East » Cyprus » Nicosia May 12th 2011

After spending the night in Kyrenia, we take the local bus to Lefkoşa. Furtunately, this time we have about half a day to explore the historic Old City, its northern part, that is. We get off the bus just outside Kyrenia Gate, the most frequently used access point to the Old City. Inside, it doesn't take us long to stop at one of the many cafés/pastry shops. Realising we won't be getting this in a while, we gorge ourselves on yummy Turkish sweets, custards and puddings, and wash it all down with tea and fresh ayran. Further down the road, we pass yet another Atatürk statue and a couple of small, appealing mosques, before entering the famous Büyük Han. A rare surviving example of a medieval caravanserai (which is probably the coolest word ever), the Büyük ... read more
Anglers in Kyrenia

Towards the exit of Yenirerenköy, we pick up a hitchhiker, an old, traditional-looking man with moustache and hat. He looks a bit confused first upon seeing who has stopped for him, but when he asks "Dipkarpaz?", and we nod assertively, he gets in anyway. He says he's a "Kurdi", and that he speaks "no English, Türkçe, Türkçe!". Upon hearing I'm from Almanya, he oohs and aahs a bit and says: "Deutschland gut! Arbeit! Arbeit!" which I find kind of ironic, for I have my fair share of troubles with work in my home country. Seeing that we can't keep on saying "tamam, tamam", "evet" and "teşekkür ederim", the conversation sort of stops after that. We offer him some of our roasted chickpeas, but he just takes the open packet, looks at it for a while, says ... read more
Mosaics detail
Starred Agama lizard at Kantara Castle
Agios Filon church

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