Catalytic Traveler


Catalytic Traveler

Africa » Madagascar » Antsiranana August 8th 2018

After a bone-jarring, sleep-lacking, knee-hurting 31 hour taxi-brousse (think crowded van) from Tana we finally arrived in the evening in Diego-Suarez (Antsiranana). Of course there was a blown tire along the way, but that just provided a break for the excruciating pain in my knees from it being jammed into a metal bar for over a day. The first 4 days were spent in Diego-Suarez with a few excursions to the nearby areas. The first day was mostly just recovery from the horrific 31 hour ride, and some light exploring around town. The second day 3 of us hired a 4x4 and went in the morning to Mount Amber to see chameleons. How he could spot some of them boggles my mind but in total we saw 7 different species, including the smallest in the world ... read more

Africa » Madagascar » Tsiribihina River July 21st 2018

This was a weeklong trip to the western part of Madagascar. I had joined a larger group of solo travelers. Day 1: Taxi-brousse from Antsirabe to Miandrivazao Day 2-3: Canoe down the Tsiribihana river with camping on the river bank. We saw lemurs (white and brown), many crocodiles, bats, and different birds. We also passed by various villages which have no roads and are only connected to the world by this river. On the first day there was also a waterfall with a small shallow pool that you could swim in. The first night of camping had many locals join us for alcohol and singing the latest Malagasy pop tunes. That night the wind was so severe that the tent basically flattened. Day 4: Last part of the canoeing and then a long 4x4 drive to ... read more

Africa » Madagascar July 14th 2018

This was a road trip with a hired car south down the RN7 from Tana to Toliara. Weiwei and I had an English speaking driver who helped out with various logistics and translations. Day 1: Tana - Ranomafana A long 9 hour drive through the highlands and into the rainforest. Day 2: Ranomafana - Ranohira Unfortunately it was pouring rain in the morning so instead of a hike in the Ranomafana National Park, we drove onwards south for another 8 hours to Ranohira. At lunch we found a chameleon on a plant. Day 3-4: Isalo National Park We took a two day hike into Isalo NP with a guide. On the way to the park we saw a chameleon as well as locals making rum from the local sugarcane. Our path first went into a canyon ... read more

Asia » Nepal » Gorak Shep April 22nd 2018

The trek to base camp (EBC) took me 11 days and was during winter (February). The altitude was noticeable, particularly with how easy it was to get out of breath. I didn't get sick but there were a few times I started to really feel the altitude (on the steep ascents). The path went through many small villages, with the biggest being Lukla and Namche. Generally it didn't take too long to get from one village to the next although as it got higher, the villages obviously became less frequent. Most days were about 5-6 hours of hiking, arriving in the late afternoon into a lodge. Lodges were all roughly the same and charged the same amounts and served the same food. Lodges had a large common area with a central heater for night time, with ... read more

Asia » Nepal » Kathmandu » Durbar Square April 20th 2018

These photos were taken over the few days I spent in Kathmandu. The main highlight in terms of location was Durbar Square (which was mostly destroyed by the 2015 quake). The Monkey Temple was also a decent diversion with views of the city. Otherwise it was just mostly just random back-alleys and narrow streets with little temples. The highlight here would be the Holi festival which was a giant colour mess. I tried to wear a rain jacket for protection but still got colours all over.... read more

Asia » Nepal » Pokhara February 8th 2018

Pokhara is a lovely lakeside town with spectacular views of the Annapurna range (in good weather). I wish I had spent more time here. It's definitely a much better alternative to spend time than Kathmandu. I didn't do a lot here except enjoy the restaurants although I did hike to the Peace Pagoda for some nice views of the lake and I did a morning paraglide over the lake.... read more

Asia » Nepal » Chitwan February 6th 2018

It took a long 7 hour bumpy ride from Kathmandu to get to Chitwan. I spent a couple of days in Chitwan, walking along the outside, taking an early morning boat ride, a short guided walk in the park, an elephant safari and finally staying in a rangers tower about 30 minutes into the park. Chitwan park is famous for its one-horned rhinos as well as other large mammals including tigers and sloth bears. I ended up seeing about 8 rhinos, many spotted deer, a few barking deer, two types of crocodiles and many birds. The first rhino was actually outside the park and there were many people around. Rhinos are known to charge when agitated and you can't outrun then so the best solution is to run up a tree (if you can). Another option ... read more

Asia » China » Anhui » Huangshan August 23rd 2017

Before and after going for a hike to Huangshan, I visited a couple of villages around. First village I attempted to go to (via public transportation) was Chengkan. When I arrived, I was refused entry due to lack of ticket, but there was no ticket vendor in site and all "information" desks were empty / non-existent. The locals were quite rude and got angry at me if I tried to venture into the village (even outside the "paid ticket" zone). However they were completely unwilling to help me figure out how to get a ticket so I gave up and left by walking to the highway for a couple of km and hitchhiking back into town. The second and third village I visited on a Chinese tour bus, Hongcun and Xidi. Hongcun was packed with people. ... read more
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Asia » China » Anhui » Huangshan August 23rd 2017

I hiked up Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) for a 2 day trip. I started by taking the 5:30am bus from Tunxi to Tangkou. Tangkou was teeming with Chinese tourists. After a few minutes I figured out I needed to take a second bus to the start of the hike. I chose the Eastern steps. It was a 2.5 hour slog up the steps in the heat, drenched in sweat. The majority of Chinese tourists take one of the cable cars up, but the steps were pretty busy nonetheless. I passed many porters (see picture) carrying heavy loads up the steps on their backs using a stick and good balance (why they don't use the cable cars during the quiet times (or before/after)... I don't know. After getting to the top I dropped my stuff off at my ... read more
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Asia » Philippines » Kalinga August 22nd 2017

Day 1: Getting to Kalinga Getting to Kalinga from Manila was an ordeal. First flight to Tuguerao, then van to Tabuk, jeepney to Tinglayen (and a long wait for the jeepney to fill up). I arrived about 4pm in Tinglayen. There's no restaurant to speak of and the cold pre-cooked food that the hotel served, wasn't appetizing so I went without dinner. Day 2: Tour to Buscalan I joined a tour with Francis, a local guide to Buscalan. It involved a jeepney along the highway until the turnoff to Buscalan village. And then walking up the dirt path for about 45 minutes, which turned into a small trail for about 1.5h until the village. A couple of steep parts but overall not too hard. The village is home to Whang Od, Philippines oldest tattoo artist (a ... read more
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