Ian Bell


Ian Bell

I just finished my PhD at Purdue University and am taking a one-year (or thereabouts) stroll around the world

Asia » Philippines January 22nd 2012

So the Hundred Islands is this range of islands in the Philippines, and it is pretty much as awesome as it sounds.Beautiful white sand beaches, mushroom islands, delicious fish, yadda, yadda, yadda…. To get there, we took a multitude of forms of transportation. From San Juan we took a trike to downtown San Fernando, a local bus to Agoo, a Victory Liner bus to Dagupan, and finally another Victory Liner towards Santa Cruz but we alighted at Alaminos, the terminal bus stop for us. We took a trike from there out to Lucap, the town on the mainland next to the Hundred Islands National Park. We had heard from so many people about how the Victory Liner buses were so much better than the other companies, but they didn’t seem so much better to me. In ... read more
The Islands
Another boat
Funny Shirt

Asia » Philippines » Illocos Region January 18th 2012

So friends, it has been quite some time since this blog has been updated. Much has happened, most of it good. Currently I am sitting in San Juan, Philippines, after a lovely day of surfing lessons and sitting around reading. Really it has been a great day. We (Caroline and I - more on this later) took a one hour surfing lesson in the morning. She had surfed before, so got the hang of it quickly again, but it took me a bit more work. By the end of my time, I caught a wave, stood up and rode the wave all the way into the beach for my last run. I was quite proud of myself. Caroline did a lot better - she got up on almost every run. Our teachers were great, and all ... read more
More crazy geology
About to go for a swim
In the pools

Asia » India » West Bengal » Darjeeling » Sandakphu October 11th 2011

So, I finally got my feet into some trekking. This trek was pretty good, we started in Darjeeling and ended up back in Darjeeling, but with quite a bit of hiking in between. I decided to break the trek up into three blogs since I have so many photos :) On day one we met up at the Trekking place in Darjeeling at 8:30 and met our guide Pemba who spoke quite minimal English, which ultimately turned out to be a problem later on. We began our trek in Maney Bhanjyang, an entry into the Singalila National Park. We got a taxi ride to Maney Bhanjang with a jeep which took about an hour, and had a breakfast of 2 small chapattis, a small omelette, and milk tea. After our (not very filling) breakfast we stopped ... read more
Tibetan script at a Buddhist Gompa
Krys and Prayer wheels
Our intrepid group

Asia » India » West Bengal » Darjeeling » Sandakphu October 10th 2011

The third day of hiking began with waking up early again to get a view of the Himalayas before the clouds rolled in and the visibility was gone. We were able to see the whole Himalayan range which was quite impressive. Kangchenjunga, the sleeping Buddha (actually looks like a supine person in profile) was visible, as were Everest, the three sisters, and a whole lot of others. But it was bitterly cold on the top of the mountain, especially since I didn't have any gloves, and we began to descend the mountain towards breakfast. Our descent in the morning was a 3-hour 10 km (1.4 km vertical) monster which left us all in a pretty sour mood since we left at 6 am and hadn't been given anything to eat at all before we began. As ... read more
Everest and friends
A stupa right before breakfast
Bridge over the river

Asia » India » West Bengal » Darjeeling » Sandakphu October 9th 2011

On day two we were awoken at an ungodly hour to see the sunrise over the Himalayas. It was really quite worth it, and then we went back inside for a lovely breakfast. We had loads of porridge, doughnuty bread with jam, and milk tea. It was a great start to the day. After we got walking we descended about 400 m to the low point of the ridge hike. After reaching the minimum, we began to climb, and the rest of the day was entirely spent going uphill. All in all, we did 18 km in length, 400 m down and then 900 m up if I remember correctly. The ascent was exhausting. There were a couple of points on the hike up to Sandakphu where I was thinking about just giving up, but I ... read more
Sunrise over the Himalayas
Inside the kitchen of our hut
Another view once we got hiking

Asia » India » West Bengal » Darjeeling October 8th 2011

Ok, so perhaps the title is slightly hyperbolic, but even so, it is not too far from the truth. Readers will recollect my previous experience in Darjeeling, and how much I loved it. This time, my feelings are quite a bit more lukewarm. There are so many damn Indian tourists here invading MY city. And yes, I am fully aware of the ridiculousness of my previous statement. Last time I was here five years ago it was so quiet you could wander at leisure and the city didn't get in your way. Now there are so many Bengalis from Kolkata around, all understandably trying to get away from the heat of the plains. Combine that with the Puja holidays and you get a situation where the city is overwhelmed. And where I am overwhelmed. West Bengal ... read more
Fog rolls in
Happy Valley
Happy Valley

Asia » India » West Bengal » Kolkata October 6th 2011

So I spent a few days in Kolkata with a cool couchsurfer, and did basically no sight-seeing at all. We basically had too much fun eating out and exploring the Kolkata scene. I arrived in Kolkata from Dubai via Doha at 3:10am, and we in fact arrived a bit early. The flight turned out pretty awesome since I got an upgrade to first class which was nice since it was a 5 hour flight. I didn't really get a whole huge amount of sleep, but damn it was comfortable. A nice dinner, a glass of wine, and even my own DVD player. When I arrived in Kolkata I took a taxi to my couchsurfers apartment. I got ripped off and paid 800 Rupee ($16.7) since I couldn't use the prepaid taxi booth since I had absolutely ... read more
Ferry across the Hooghly
A house during the Durga Puja
A night scene during the Duga Puja

Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai October 2nd 2011

The Emirates are quite crazy places. I have spent the last 5 days here in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and often I cannot believe that I am in the Middle East. Many parts about this place are very Westernized, for instance all the Western fast-food chains are present in abundance, and when you go into a pharmacy, nearly all the brands are familiar to me. On the other hand, it is not uncommon to see women fully covered in black, being led around by an Arab man dressed fully in white. The population here is formed of an enormous ex-pat population. Something like 20% are Arab citizens, the rest being foreign ex-pats. At times it is hard to believe that I am not in India based on the number of Indian ex-pats here. There are also ... read more
Inside the Mall of the Emirates
Inside the Mall of the Emirates
Store listing - ridiculous

Middle East » Turkey September 23rd 2011

Ok, so these haven't exactly been the most exciting last two days. In fact they have been pretty boring, and if I had known, I would have changed my plans quite significantly. Probably spent more time down South and tried to hook up with two Berliner girls in Kabak. Oh well that's just how the cookie crumbles. I spent a day in Selcuk, the town that neighbors Ephesus, the best-preserved Roman town in Anatolia, but my GOD the place is swarming with tourists. The city of Ephesus itself is in really quite good condition and is impressive to see, but it would be nice to be able to move more than 1 foot without bumping into another person. As a result I spent something like an hour at the site since I was not enjoying it ... read more
In the Ephesus Museum in Selcuk

Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Fethiye September 22nd 2011

Fethiye is a pretty great base for explorations around the the Aegean coast. There are a bunch of things that can be done as day trips or overnights. I stayed at a nice pension Yildirim's in Fethiye and would stay there again. The facilities are not 100% brilliant, but the people that I met there were quite nice and the city of Fethiye itself is quite pleasant, even though there isn't too much to do. It is right on the water, so that adds quite a lot of ambiance to the city. When I arrived there were two other guys in the dorm, and the first night we had a quiet night. We awoke for a Turkish breakfast, after which I took a minibus to Kayakoy. My plan was to hike from Kayakoy over the neighboring ... read more
View from hike to Oludeniz
View from hike to Oludeniz

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