1.3.2016, Day 76 Surat Thami to Krabi to Koh Phi Phi
We arrived at 5Am in Surat Thami and started to drive to Krabi which is on the west coast of Thailand. At this point we weren't sure if we want to stay there one night or take a ferry to Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi. On our way we stopped by to have one of these super nutritional, healthy breakfasts (instant coffees, instant noodles and cookies) before we drove on a really beautiful road towards krabi. Palm trees and mountain on both
sites and the morning sun shining down on us. We were pretty much the only people on the road and we really enjoyed the drive.
Once we arrived in krabi we asked for the next ferry that leaves and it turned out that it was the ferry to Koh Phi Phi in 15 minutes. Pushing our spontaneity to the next level we rushed to the pier and bought the tickets just as the boat was about to leave (perfect timing👌🏽)
We sat on the roof of the boat and had beautiful view on the way to Koh Phi Phi.
29.2.2016, Day 75 Koh Tao
Yaaay Tyler got his Open water Diving liscencse today - I'm super happy because now we can go diving together 😊
We both went on two morning dives (he with his group) and I had my personal guide (what a luxury). the dive sites in koh Tao are not that great but we saw a turtle and some other cool stuff. I really enjoyed this dives :)
In the afternoon tyler and I took the motorbike and explored the island. The roads were awful and we crushed 😓 tyler was lucky as he could jump off but I slid on the street. On the positive side, as tyler mentioned, now both of my legs look messed up 😓
Anyway, we had a great evening. I took tyler out for dinner to celebrate his diving liscencse and (congrats to myself) I chose the absolute best seafood restaurant ever. Tyler forbid me to take pictures of our food because he felt awkward for me but it was so delicious! Super yummi! Tuna steak and barracuda filet with a symphony of magic side dishes around 😻😻
29.2.2016, Day 76 Koh Tao to Surat Thami 🚢
We learned it throughout our trip so many times but NEVER EVER TRUST A TRAVEL AGENCY!!
We booked two tickets for the night ferry to leave Koh Tao and the travel agency told us that there are no beds with air conditioning which wasn't a problem at all for us. They promised us beds with fens and we were happy. When we arrived at the pier we found out what they meant by "no beds with air conditioning". Apparently this meant mattresses on the floor outside of the boat (note to myself: never trust a travel agency). It was cold, rainy and super noisy.
But we were so lucky because we found two stinky mattresses inside the boat to sleep on. It was a sleepless night though but worth the experience somehow.
We are far over the point that we expect anything more than a shitty bed and a basket of water as a shower so there is not much that can scare us anymore
25 February 2016
26-28.12.2016, Day 71-73 Koh Tao
Live is good! Tyler is doing a 4-day course to learn how to dive (the price for the course includes 3 night in a bungalow right on the beach 🙏🏼) and I'm either doing some fun dives or relax and explore the island.
I really like Thailand so far :) yes, it is touristic and probably less authentic than 15 years ago but the people are so lovely and the nature is really beautiful. Definitely worth a visit
25.12.2016, Day 70 Pratchup Khiri Khan to Chumphon
Soon after we left Pratchup Khiri Khan and were on the highway down south it started to rain heavily but this couldn't stop our good mood. We waited a bit but then we continued to drive through the rain. In total we made 160 km this day 💪🏽 it is surprisingly easy to ride a motorbike in Thailand though they drive on the left side. The conditions of the road are okay and other cars don't drive too crazy compared to other countries.
We wanted to sleep in Chumphon but once we arrived there we booked an overnight ferry to Koh Tao as Tyler wants to get his diving liscencse and this is one of the cheapest places to get it.
24 February 2016
24.2.2016, Day 69 Hua Hin to Pratchup Khiri Khan
I finally started to feel better again and our idea to do a motorbike tour trough Thailand gave us a second wind for our travel. After we got our motorbike we were so enthusiastic and eager to start our tour. The feeling of freedom and independence when traveling on a motorbike is incredible. We only drove 80km this day because we made a coffee break at a town we fall in love with so we stayed there over night. In Pratchup Khiri Khan was a celebration with lots of street food.
We also visited a buddhistic temple on a hill and once we got there we saw monkeys everywhere.
We were so happy the whole day. So many good things happened just by accident and we were really excited to continue the motorbike tour.
22/23.12.2016, Day 67/68
Kualar Lumpur to Bangkok
Bangkok to Hua Hin
The next morning Xunx drove us to the airport and we flew back to Kualar lumpur. After I felt better the previous days I got really sick again. Our initial plan was to explore Kualar lumpur before taking the plane to Bangkok but I felt so bad that we checked-in at the airport hotel and I spent the whole day in bed, yaaay.
The next day after we arrived in Bangkok we took a bus to Hua Hin - a small town on the east coast of Thailand.
21 February 2016
21.2.2016, Day 66 Penang
National Park Part 2
Actually we wanted to wake up nice and early and book a tour to an island close to Penang o go snorkeling. But we overslept all of the alarms and missed the boat 🙈 but it didn't take too long to decide what else to do as the his a turtle rescue center at the National Park. So we drove again on this beautiful street to the Park and walked for a few hours until we reached the turtles. And we were so lucky because there were baby turtles which were only one day old (cuteness overload 😻🙀). On the evening we met Xunx again and we spent the evening together
20 February 2016
20.2.2016, Day 65 Penang
Chinese New Year
We met Xunx at his apartment and he took us out to a Chinese food court. On the menu were all the things I never wanted even to try like chicken feet but it was really cool that he brought us to this place. Later he drove us to a Chinese temple which was beautifully light up. It was Chinese New Year and the temple was decorated and so nice to visit 😊
20.2.2016 , Day 65 Penang, Malaysia
Xunx not only let us sleep at his apartment he also gave us his motorbike so we could discover the island while he was working (I love couchsurfing!!)
We slept really late so most of the day was already gone when we woke up but we used the remaining time to drive to the national park on the northern tip of the island and walked around. The national park was cool with lots of animals and beautiful beaches. Also the road to the national park was so much fun to drive alongside the ocean on the on side and mountain on the other side.
19 February 2016
19.2.2016, Day 64 Penang, Malaysia
Our first day on Penang was the sleepiest day ever. After a couple of sleepless nights before we were so exhausted and tired. We went directly to a guest house and slept the whole day just to wake up, eat dinner and sleep until the next morning. But catching up all this sleep was really curing and I felt way better the next day.
We spent the day with discovering George Town which is a beautiful artistic district on Penang. Just for fun we rented a Tandem Bike which made us the main attraction in town. So many people just stopped to take pictures of us 🙊
On the afternoon we visited a chocolate museum and tried every single kind of chocolate they offered resulting in painful tummy ache for the next hours (worth it! 😋✌🏽️)
We had a really good impression of Malaysia, the people were so nice and the vibe of the city was great :) later this day we met our couchsurfing friend and ate dinner together before we went to his apartment
18 February 2016
18.2.2016, Day 63 Siem reap to kualar lumpur
We arrived at noon in Kualar Lumpur without a plan what to do and where to go next. We had option a)flying directly to Bangkok, option b) discovering Kualar lumpur, option c) traveling around the main island of Malaysia or option d) flying to one of the smaller islands of Malaysia.
BUT before making an important decision like this we stopped by an American dinner restaurant as tyler wanted to share so of his culinary culture with me (milkshakes and burgers of course).
After eating we started to discuss and google what would be the best option and we changed plans every 15 minutes.
After hours the decision was made. We booked a flight to Penang and found a couchsurfing host that was willing to host us for a few days.
The only drawback was that we had to wait for 20 hours at the airport. But yaaay I slept the first time in my life at an airport
15 February 2016
16/17.2.2016, Day 61/62 Siem Reap
The day after we returned from our jungle trek, we took a bus to Siem reap - our last stop in Cambodia.
I felt really sick so we spent the day with doing nothing and relaxing in our hostel.
The reason why we came to Siem Reap was because we wanted to visit Ankor Wat which is THE attraction in Cambodia.
Ankor Wat are 1000 year old ruins and they look so cool. They should be on the bucket list of everyone!
The next day, we rented a bicycle to ride around between the temples, the weather was good and from time to time we saw some monkeys on the street. It was a great day even though I still felt pretty sick.
After seeing Ankor Wat there was nothing left on our to-do-list for Cambodia so we spent the evening with researching where to go next. Initially we planned to go to Thailand but we had some problems with the Visa so we spontaneously booked a flight to Kualar Lumpur for the next morning.
12 February 2016
12-15.2.2016 Day 58-60, Randulkiri
3-day jungle trip
I can't say much positive about this trek. We were a big group (though the people and the tour guide were really nice) and the nature we saw was neither really impressing nor something we haven't seen before. We slept one night in a hammock next to a waterfall and the other night in a local village. The treks each day were really short and we spent most of the time with taking breaks.
Also I got really sick on this trek (the reason why I didn't update my blog) so all in all it wasn't that great of an experience..
11 February 2016
11.2.2017, Day 57 Kratie to Banlung 🚌
We chose Banlung as next destination because it is supposed to be the most remote area of Cambodia (less frequently visited by tourists).
The bus we took was a local mini van where they squeeze as many people as possible in (plus chicken and huge food bags on the floor) I was sitting next to a really lovely girl (but she couldn't speak English😒) She shared all her food and drinks with me and at some point she started to take a lot of pictures of me from different ankles. It was strange but I let it happen with a smile on my face. Later she gave me a rose which she made out of a straw.
Learning a few Khmer words is definitely on top of my to-do list for today.
10 February 2016
10.2.2016, Day 56 Mondulkiri to Kratie 🚌
It was time to move on. We took a bus to Kratie without really knowing what's there to do. We decided to follow a new travel strategy: not planning at all and let's see what happens.
We arrived in Kratie in the afternoon, checked-in to a crappy guesthouse and rented a motorbike to explore the area. Apparently people come to Kratie to see fresh water Dolphins but dolphin watching from a boat didn't seem really appealing to me and Tyler so we spent the day just biking around. Surprisingly we got a really nice motorbike which was quite strange after all the shitty ass bikes we had before 😃
Kratie is located in the mid-west of Cambodia alongside the Mekong River and the villages looked really different from what we've seen before. However the city didn't seem interesting enough to spend another day there so we booked a bus ticket for the next morning 🙋🏽
I almost forgot to mention the beautiful sunset over the Mekong River 🙀😻
10.2.2016, Day 56 Kratie
Biking through the countryside
As Tyler is the driver my responsibility is to direct us where to go. I was in an adventurous mood so I guided us away from the main roads into the countryside.
Unfortunately our scooter wasn't a motor cross bike and thus not really designed or this kind of road. It was sandy, bumpy and the road got progressively worse. After we kind of got lost and had a little crush we decided to turn around.
On our way back we stopped on the street when we saw a couple of super cute puppies 🐶
Seconds later we were surrounded by Cambodians who were all starring at us as if we were the first white people they've ever seen. It was quite funny though a little bit awkward to be in the center of attention and not speaking even one word Khmer (seriously we tried to remember at least how to say thank you and hello but I just can't remember it🙇)
8.2.2016, Day 54 Mondulkiri
I can't even explain how happy I was to see that it is possible to combine tourism with environmental/animal friendly treatment. We knew from the beginning that we wouldn't be allowed to ride the elephants and if they don't want to come or take a bath we have to accept it. And that's the way how it should be to ensure that the elephants live a happy life. I found much more joy in the fact that the elephant spend some time with us instead of being chained and forced to do whatever the tourists want.
Tyler and I felt so bad after the last "elephant sanctuary" we visited and supported the mistreatment of elephants that it was a blessing to see that it doesn't have to be like this.
9 February 2016
9.2.2015, Day 55 Mondulkiri
This is the other side of our jungle trek experience.. Logging (cutting/burning trees to plant crops)
When we reached the peak of the mountain and looked around we could see that the jungle got shaved at many places. From above, it looked like wholes in the forest. I've never seen logging like this before and it made me really sad.
The Mondulkiri project rents parts of the jungle from the tribe people to make sure that they don't cut the trees and have living space for their elephants.
9.2.2015, Day 55 Mondulkiri
I woke up in my hammock with the view over the jungle. I just laid their and enjoyed the view until I got up and saw Tyler sitting in the hammock behind me with a shining smile in his face.. The best way to start a day ☀️
We started our 19km trek at 8 am and made some stops at (ice cold) waterfalls. For me the hike wasn't too challenging and it was quite a nice feeling that the majority of the group were other girls that had way more struggle to hike than I had (mostly because hiking with Tyler makes me feel like the most unathletic person ever so i enjoyed being not the person that has to be waited for)
We were so lucky with our group. When I heard that we are 11 person I wasn't really happy but it turns out that really all of them were nice people and we had a lot of fun together.
8 February 2016
8.2.2016, Day 54 Mondulkiri
Our group sat down next to the river (tyler and I climbed on a tree for the VIP seats) and waited for the elephants to come. They weren't forced to take a bath instead they were called and one after another came to swim a little bit and the go back into the jungle.
However one elephant, princess, is the laziest elephant on the world. For example, when we fed her she just opened her mouth and waited for us to but the bananas into her mouth instead of taking them with her trunk.. And because of her laziness she really enjoys taking a bath with tourist that clean her.
We were all waiting in the water for her to arrive and when she came she made this noise of joy, walked in the water and let us brush her whole body. After ten minutes she was done, stood up and walked away. I was so happy to see that she enjoyed the time with us and it was her free will to come and then just walked away whenever she wanted.
8.2.2016, Day 54 Mondulkiri
Tyler + elephant
8.2.2016, Day 54 Mondulkiri
Sandy + elephant
8.2.2016, Day 54 Mondulkiri
Elephants and jungle trekking
Picture 1: on the way into the jungle
Picture 2: Mr. Tree, head of the mondulkiri project, tells us about his project
Picture 3: lunch with the group
Picture 4-6: my bed for this night with a view over the jungle and a sky full of stars at night
Picture 7: Tyler napping in his hammock
Picture 8: learning a Cambodian card game with our tour guide
Picture 9: our group
Picture 10: the tree lodge
7 February 2016
If someone out there is wondering where I am ..
Tyler and I booked a Tree Lodge Guesthouse (pictures look promising 😻..) right inside the jungle.
Tomorrow (8.2) we say goodbye to any form of society and comfort and hello to tribe people, hammocks and (hopefully) interesting wildlife.
Don't know when we will have internet again so don't worry if you don't hear from me
See ya 👻
Hello Friends ✌🏽️
I have a few things to say:
1. I'm sorry that my texts got shorter and I almost took no pictures the last week. I just wasn't in a picture taking mood and also a lot what we see/do/eat/experience is repeating so not really interesting to mention it again and again.
2. Currently I really enjoy reading books, thinking about stuff and listening to music so most of my free time is consumed by doing this and unfortunately there is not so much time left for the blog as before
3. For each post there is a picture and word constraint so most of the times I cannot say everything I want to tell you (or sometimes I simply don't have the vocabulary to express my thoughts) but if you are interested in learning more about how I spend my days, check out Tyler's blog:
Tyler is the more philosophical/funny/elaborating part of our dream duo and I always enjoy reading his posts 😋👫
7.2.2016, Day 53 Phnom Penh to Mondulkiri
🚌🚌 another fun day on a bus
Jaja, backpacking is not always enjoying an easy life. It is also a lot of time spent only on traveling mostly on buses with bumpy streets, crazy drivers and seats that are designed for ants 🐜 .. Or maybe just Asian people. Tyler gets most of the times motion sick when we ride a bus and I'm steadily pissed about the fact that there is no space for my feet but who likes complaining people?
Our next destination makes me soo excited! I researched a lot about where to go in Cambodia because Tyler and I want to escape the backpacking route that everyone follows and find a place with authentic flair, cheap prices and locals that are not tired of seeing tourists. Also we've seen so many incredible beautiful things since we are travelling that we got tired of seeing similar landscapes or things that simply don't fit to our standards anymore (Yeea I know.. First world problems)
Can't wait to arrive in Mondulkiri
6 February 2016
6.2.2016, Day 52 Phnom Penh
Phnom Peng is the capital of Cambodia. We just spent there one day as a stop before we headed to our actual destination (I always forget the naaaame 😖)
The city does not have much to offer (palace, markets, national museum, gardens) except the killing fields and the genocide museum. I didn't know anything about Cambodian history and learning about it really hit me.
In a nutshell, the Khmer Rouge (Khmer = largest ethnic group in Cambodia; rouge = communism) started a revolution in 1975 and killed almost one third of the Cambodian people within four years.
I would really recommend to google 'killing fields Phnom Penh" and read about it in more depth.
This visit is comparable to a visit at the working camps in Germany and it leaves you with the same feeling of remorse and frustration about menkind
The tree on the picture shows where the soldiers smashed babies against to kill them and then throw them into the mass graves next to the tree
5 February 2016
3.2. - 4.2. 2016, Day 49/50 Vang Vieng
This picture pretty much sums up our last two days in Vang Vieng.
Vang Vieng is a city known for its excessive parties, drugs and sadly also lots of dead backpackers.
It is best described by a black whole that sucks you in and Tyler and I got infiltrated with it. Actually it's wasn't that bad. We had fun and the tubing (floating on a truck tire on the river) was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for sure. The party started at noon in a bar. After hours of small talk, drinking games and free shots for ladies we moved on and floated on the tubes to the next bar. At the end of the day we floated about two hours back to Vang Vieng.
5.2.2016, Day 51Vang Vieng to Phnom Penh ✈️
It was time to leave Laos. We had a good time but we were also annoyed by overpriced food, and tours and all this hipster backpackers.
Spontaneous as we are we booked a flight to Phnom Pennh (Combodia) hoping to escape the popular tourist trail.
2 February 2016
1.2.2016, Day 47 Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng
It was an unspectacular day.. We left Luang Prabang late in the morning, spent the whole day on the bus and arrived late in Vang Vieng. We ate dinner, walked around a little bit and went to bed 🎉😃
2.2.2016, Day 48 Vang Vieng
Vang Vieng is surrounded by a beautiful landscape: a river, numerous caves, a blue lagoon, mountain in the background and when you drive far enough from the city you will find yourself in the jungle. 🌱🌴🌱🌴
.. And that's exactly what we did. We rented a scooter and drove as far as we could until we reached a muddy jungle trail. Our scooter wasn't at all supposed to drive on a "street" like this but fought our way through. We were completely alone in the jungle and I felt super advantageous (wearing a dress and flip flops -> not prepared at all). We couldn't stay too long as we had to make sure to be back while we have sunlight but I really enjoyed the trip 👌🏽
31 January 2016
I will never forget this moment. It meant a lot to me that the elephant let me be so close to her. The elephants weren't particulary afraid of the humans around them but it was obviously that they got stressed when people came to close.
At first she let me pet her with an arm length distance but the more time we spent together I could stand with almost no distance between us and lay my head on hers. She looked me directly in the eye and pressed her trunk against me. Even now thinking about this moment makes my heart beat a little bit faster.
Elephants are such beautiful and sensible animals and it made me sad to see them being exploited for tourism. It didn't seem like they were mistreated and they were all "rescued" from working in the jungle but still these elephant camps aren't the optimal solution.
I felt bad to financially support treating elephant as tourist attraction but I learned my lesson and I used the time that I had to pet and treat the elephant as much as possible
31.01.2016, Day 46
Kayaking on the Mekong River back to Luang Prabang
30 January 2016
30.01.2016, Day 45
Add pictures from Windows phone
30.01.2016, Day 45
25 km jungle trekking to a tribe village
29 January 2016
29.01.2016, Day 44
Pak Ou Cave with 4000 Buddha Statues
Beautiful Mekong River
29.01.2016, Day 44
25 km bicycle ride to the elephant camp
29.01.2016, Day 44, Elephant camp
Elephant bathing 🐘💦
28 January 2016
28.01.2016, Day 43 Luang Prabang
Motorcycle ride back from the waterfalls
28.01.2016, Day 43, Luang Prabang
Kuang Si waterfalls
27 January 2016
27.01.2016, Day 42
27.01.2016, Day 42
26 January 2016
25/26.01.2016, Day 41 Hanoi to Luang Prabang (Laos) 🚌
Nightmare bus - 30 hours on the road
Tyler decided that we take the bus to Laos instead of the 1.5 hour plane (and save 100€ each). I followed his orders, not really amused though. I read horror stories about the bus ride on the internet but this turned out to be good. I started the trip with the lowest expectations one can possibly imagine.
Yes, it was exhausting and yes, there are numerous things more fun to do but we made the best out of the situation. The tourists (we were 10) got stuffed in the back of the bus (where the shitty seats are) while the locals could enjoy more comfort. Also the bus driver and conductor were really unfriendly mostly yelling and bullying us but it was okay. Soon we grouped up and fought together against the mean men.
I really liked our group.. Nice and fun people and if you spend so much time so close with complete strangers you bond really quickly 👯
Anyway.. No need for repetition
25 January 2016
25.01.2016, Day 40 Hanoi
It was our last day in Vietnam and we had some money left that we wanted to spend so we don't have to exchange it. This day was a blessing for my soul 😻 even though tyler ended up buying way more than I did 🙊
I bought two new pairs of Nikes and a new North Face jacket
Tyler bought Nikes, and North Face hiking boots, a winter jacket, outdoor pants and a ukulele 🎸
It was so unbelievably cheap 👀. And we also deserved to treat ourselves as we had our 30 hour bus ride to Laos that evening.. 😇
24.01.2016, Day 39
Sapa to Hanoi 🚌
(Ignore the picture I just didn't took one of this situation)
We wanted to take the 4pm bus to Hanoi, bought a ticket in advance and called that morning to reserve a seat. Sounds like fixed deal, doesn't it! Not in Sapa though..
Side information: it was snowing, we were wet and frozen again and really just wanted to enter the bus and get into the warm. There was only one problem.. The conductor didn't let us in the bus without giving any reason just moving his hands as if we were insects that he wants to get rid of. We asked around and this was exactly the bus we us to take but non of the people were willing to help us to talk to the man. It was so frustrating (especially when he let other people, locals, go into the bus and still refused is the entry without a reason). Desperate as I was and in my most childish manner i just put my hand and feet in between the door when he wanted to close it to drive away.
24.01.2016, Day 39
Sapa to Hanoi 🚌
(Ignore the picture I just didn't took one of this situation)
Looking back I have to laugh about how stupid it must have looked like.. Me fighting to stay in the bus and he trying to kick me out. I gave up at some point and went back to the ticket office. When I turned around I saw Tyler in front of the bus and I will never forget this picture.
The bus was already about to drive and Tyler stood in front of the driver eye-to-eye, gesturing with a dangerously angry face and the bus driver not caring at all driving towards him. It looked like David against Goliat just that the bad guy won this time.
Anyway, thank you for fighting this hopeless fight for us, Tyler🙏🏼
We got a bus two hours later two Hanoi. Also this time it was not as easy as is hoped to get into the bus and when we finally got, we were a snowman and a snowwoman ⛄️⛄️ but yaay by midnight we arrived in Hanoi 🎉
24 January 2016
24.01.2016, Day 39 Sapa
It was strange to go to bed at 7pm and it was soo cold without the fire. I slept in Tyler's sleeping bag plus the thickest blanket I've ever seen and I was still shaking. Right behind the wooden wall we were sleeping was a pig which started to make a lot of notices when we were laying down. It was such a strange and funny situation sleeping right next to a pig that we had to laugh.
I woke up the next morning, surprisingly i wasn't frozen, and we all sat down at the fire. Sa and her daughter prepared the breakfast (Baguette with omlette and noodlesoup) and then Tyler and May, another homestay mom, went hiking. I stayed home because I still didn't feel good. I sat at the fire with Sa's mother - I was reading and played with the puppy and she did some handcrafting- until Tyler returned and we went to eat lunch at May's place. After, her husband brought us to the bus station and we tried to get into a bus to Hanoi.
23.01.2016, Day 38 Sapa
I lost every feeling for time that day. We arrived around 3pm at Sa's family and then we must have sat at the fire for hours because when she served the dinner I felt like it was still afternoon. We didn't interact much with the family (mostly because of the language barrier) but it was so interesting to just sit there and watch how they spend the day, their family life, the different responsibilities between the family members and how it is to life under this circumstances. It seemed so harmonic and somehow desirable.
Sitting there being just happy about feeling warm and the people around me made me think about how I (or we in the developed countries) live my life with all the unnecessary things around when it actually doesn't even need much to have a good life.. Or maybe even a better life.
The dinner was delicious (rice with tofu and vegetables) and Sa gave us a lot of happy water (rice wine). The family went to sleep when it got dark and so did we.
23.01.2016, Day 38 Sapa
Our home for two days - up in the air
I felt like we lost every connection to the world. The house (or cabin?) was on a mountain over the clouds. On both sites there were little streams flowing down and rice fields as far as you could see. The family (Sa, our host mom and the only one with basic English skill, her four children and her mother) lived in a wooden cabin with only one room and walls that weren't weather protective at all. The center of the house was the fire - also the only source of warmth and light.
My first thought when I entered their home was 'fuck that's not good'. But only because I had fever, my dozen of cloth-layers were wet and the only thing I wanted in this moment was a warm bed to rest.
We all sat down around the fire to dry and height up. I felt better soon and could finally enjoy and appreciate this unique life experience that was waiting for me.
23 January 2016
23.01.2016, Day 38 Sapa
We arrived at noon in Sapa - a mountain village close to the Chinese Border. It was so cold ('cold' doesn't even come close to how it felt to go from summer to freezing winter in Sapa). On top of this it rained a lot and I didn't bring any warm clothes.
The only solution I had was to put on all clothes I had plus a plastic bag as the top layer. I looked ridiculous 😂😂
.. In contrast to tyler who seemed perfectly prepared for this weather conditions.
We organized a homestay at a local family that lived in a small village down in the mountain. The motorcycle ride to their house was really uncomfortable for me because I still felt really sick and was wet and cold. But the view was stunning. Rice fields all over the mountain, small waterfalls and little houses in between. Too bad that I couldn't really enjoy the view but when we arrived Tyler had the brightest smile in his face claiming that this was probably one of the most beautiful things he have ever seen.
22 January 2016
22.01.2016, Day 37 Phong Nha
After visiting the underwater cave we had to hike a little bit to get to the next cave. I didn't like this one as much as the first one and the way to the cave nearly killed me and my sick body. Generally I would say that caves are not the most interesting things for me to visit but still I always get amazed how nature can create wonders like that.
After this we ate lunch with our group and decided to rent bikes and bike around for the rest of the day (more about this in the post below)
Tyler and I had to take a bus at 9pm which was supposed to arrive at 7am in Hanoi and then transfer to another bus for further 7 hours to Sapa. Even though we reserved the bus to Sapa the conductor didn't want to let us in and after getting grumpy he allowed us to sleep on the floor of the bus (what a victory 😅💪🏽). I bought some Valium in Phong Nha because i wasn't willing to go through another sleepless night on the bus so I slept the whole 17 hour bus ride.
22.01.2016, Day 37 Phong Nha
I'm so happy that we stopped in Phong Nha on our way up north. It's a small town that got only recently discovered by tourists. In Phong Nha is the worlds biggest cave (only 3000$ entry fee✌🏽️) but also a lot of other amazing caves. We only had one day there which was way too short for all what we wanted to see but we tried to make the most out of our stay. Unfortunately I got sick (my self-diagnosis is the 'three-day-flu') so even a little bit of walking was exhausting for me 😷😓
We joined a group of backpackers who organized a tour by themselves as the guided tours are really expensive. We had our own little boat and two locals who brought us to a underwater cave. I have seen some cave before in my life but none of these have been as good as this one. The cave was huge, the water turquoise and I could have started at stalactites hanging from the top for hours. We were the only boat and the silence in the cave made this moment even more beautiful.
21 January 2016
Credits to Patrick for this cool picture 😻👏🏽
Tyler and I miss you guys! You are our missing puzzle pieces😔
21.01.2016, Day 37 Hoi An -> Phong Nha 🚌
There is not much to tell about this day.. We ate breakfast (of course at a veggie restaurant), packed our bags and spent the whole day in a bus. We arrived by midnight in Phong Nha, checked in in our hostel and fall asleep. Sounds like a fun day, doesn't it?
The Bus drive was ok because i had wifi that surprisingly worked, updated my blog and I had the best seat of the bus 💪🏽
20 January 2016
Tiger fight 🐯🙈
Each scar tells a story. It seems like the scars on my leg can fill a whole book with stories.
20.01.2016, Day 36 Hoi An
The ruins of My Son
It was another morning that starter way too early 😴 we got up at 5 am and took a bus to the ruins of My Son. We arrived there when the site just opened and we were the first visitors. It was really cool to walk through the temples/ruins without any other tourist but unfortunately our tour guide had such a strong Vietnamese accent that I couldn't understand anything. So I still don't know much about the history of the ruins..
On the way back we recognized that Tyler lost his phone so we went back to search for it (and missed our bus to Phong Nha).
The next bus to Phong Nha was one day later so we had an extra night in Hoi An and this awesome hotel.
We didn't do much this day just riding around on a bike and spending the evening in a small bar next to the water
19 January 2016
19.01.2016, Day 35 Hoi An
On the afternoon we biked to the beach. Of course, after what we've seen on the Philippines we have to lower our expectations but this was a really nice beach. Not too crowded, big waves and mountain in the background. I was home.
When we came back to Hoi An we had an appointment at a Spa. It was my first professional massage and I couldn't be more disappointed. Not professional or relaxing at all but at least my masseuse didn't send messages while massaging as Tyler's masseuse did (wow a lot of M-words in this sentence)🙊😃
19.01.2016, Day 35 Hoi An
Hoi An is a rather small city so we soon left the city center and biked through a rural area.
What we saw was exactly what I imagined when I thought about Vietnam before I came here. Rice fields, farmers with this traditional hat, fisher villages and a beautiful landscape. It was even better in reality!
19.01.2016, Day 35 Hoi An
The old village of Hoi An
After we got some rest we rented two bikes and looked for a veggi restaurant to eat lunch.. And we found heaven🙏🏼
Seriously, Vietnam, you have the best vegetarian food I've ever eaten. Please tell me your secret 😲😻
After, we bikes through the old village of Hoi An - the touristic hotspot of the city but for a reason. It was really beautiful! Lanterns everywhere, cute yellow houses and buddhistic temples (not to mention the 1000 shops for tailored clothes that offered the exact same clothes 😓)
I hold tyler speech about self-control and that I have enough dresses and won't buy one for sure. I was really convincing (i nearly convinced myself) but then I saw the dress of my dreams.. My self control was gone.
Also there were a lot of these bicycles that had a front car where one person could sit. I always wondered who are the lazy people that pay money for this dehumanizing way to get around - the Koreans did
19.01.2016, Day 35 Hoi An
An unexpected surprise
We arrived at 7am in Hoi An after a sleepless night (well, only for me;Tyler slept like a baby).
In front of the bus was already a crowd of locals waiting to offer their services. Normally I just walk by but this morning I was urgently in need of a bed. So I started to talk to the woman that yelled the loudest and asked her for a homestay. She said 'yes, of course' and pointed at the hotel behind her. I answered with my grumpiest face that that's not homestay but before I could finish my sentence she already carried my bag inside the hotel. I followed her to get my bag back but when she said 'private room for 7$' I forgot my anger and looked at Tyler hoping he would agree and he did (finally a bed and some sleep 🙏🏼)
We got a family room with a kingsize bed and rainforest shower plus bikes for 1$ per day. We were so lucky. Also it turned out that the hotel was newly opened and managed by two lovely sister
18 January 2016
18.01.2016, Day 34 Da Lat -> Na Trang; Na Trang -> Hoi An 🚌😓
We started the day right as we ate breakfast at another veggi restaurant and walked a little bit through the city.
Since we are in Vietnam I have the feeling that Tyler and I doing a food trip instead of backpacking. We eat so much (also because the dishes are small and not really filling). There is breakfast, lunch and dinner (of course) but also two coffee breaks, a fresh juice stop and street food snacks 🙈
At noon we had to take a bus to Na Trang and then another bus to Hoi An. It was a 17hours bus ride and again I barely couldn't sleep. I don't think that I will ever become friends with night buses..
17.01.2016, Day 33 Da Lat
The way back was worse than I expected. My legs were already tired of the hike through the jungle but the only option i had (and as Tyler loves to say) was 'get it done, girl'. So I did. I was so slow and it was really exhausting but somehow I made it back home 💪🏽
After we returned our bikes we ate dinner at a vegetarian restaurant. We were so hungry and exhausted. This food was the answer to everything we needed in this moment. We just ate without talking and I could swear I saw a taste-orgasm in Tyler's face. After dinner we went on to a lovely cafe and rewarded our hard work of the day with a self-made strawberry yogurt😍
When we came back to the hostel we started to plan the rest of our trip through Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. There are so many cool things waiting for us 😊
17 January 2016
17.01.2016, Day 33 Da Lat
We drove a few km further down and soon I couldn't see tyler anymore because he was so fast and I pulled my breaks to the limit. He stopped at a small parking lot and asked if we should just hike off-road (what a brillant idea!). There was a trail we could follow down into the jungle. It was so exciting to walk through the jungle completely alone and at the end of the trail we found a waterfall. But that' the end of our adventure. Tyler suggested to climb up the waterfall because we could see another waterfall behind. The next minute I found us climbing up and hell yes what we saw .. I have no words or it.
I fall in love with this waterfall immediately. I don't know for how long we sat down and just starred at the waterfall listening to the sound of the water falling down.
This is definitely one of the highlights of my travel so far.
17.01.2016, Day 33 Da Lat
Tyler has too much energy and recently he didn't get the chance to get rid of all this energy so he forced me to agree to a mountain bike tour through the mountains. Our first stop was a waterfall 5 km from Da Lat. we drove a little bit up-hill and then the rest of the way was really steep down-hill. We were so fast and with every meter I wanted to cry more and more because I could only think about how I have to drive up again. We reached the waterfall and weren't really happy about what we saw.. It was one of these touristic waterfalls where lots of tourist buses stop and everything looks so put on. We walked around a little bit and found a smaller waterfall were we jumped on a rock inside the water and relaxed a little bit. On the way back we bought tickets for the roller coaster which was supposed to drive through the jungle but disappointingly it was more or less an elevator to go up again 👎🏼
16.01.2016, Day 32 Da Lat
It's the way that matters - not the destination
This is not a really new thought but it gets proven over and over again. We rented a motorcycle to drive through the mountain that surround Da Lat. Initially we planned to see a temple and a lake and some other sightseeings people recommend us but we ended up doing the exact opposite.. We were on the road for maybe a half hour when we got hungry so we stopped at a place where really no one spoke English so we played charade to tell them that we would like to eat and we got a fish noodle soup which was quite good. After our power meal we continued our trip as Tyler spotted a lonely house on the top of a mountain. Of course, we had to climb the roof (and of course I added some more scratches on my leg in doing so). It was such a peaceful and quite place. We spent a long time just relaxing and talking. This is what i like most about traveling.. Finding my own lonely places and enjoy the nature.
16 January 2016
15 January 2016
15.01.2016, Day 31 Mekong Delta
After visiting the floating market we visited a rice farm, watermelon farm and so on (nearly a farm for everything that grows or is produced in Vietnam).. It wasn't really interesting but I enjoyed the boat ride to each stop and we got this traditional Vietnamese hat which made me happy 😃
After the tour we returned to our cottage. Our homestay family gave us bikes and showed us a vegetarian restaurant in the town. The food was just amazing I can't describe how much I enjoyed eating this food. After month in Korea and the Philippines where all dishes contain meat it was a blast to eat a 100% vegetarian dish and seriously the way they prepared the tofu must have been magic 😍
After lunch we wanted to take a nap but Tyler was the only one who fall asleep so I sat on the veranda and read a book. We left Can Tho in the evening and took a bus back to Ho Chi Minh City and from there a sleeper bus to Da Lat but couldn't sleep at all 😓
15.01.2016, Day 31 Mekong Delta
We visited Can Tho to see the floating market on the Mekong Delta. We had to get up around five (😓) and took a boot with our Australian friends. We saw a beautiful sunrise and drove through the floating market. It was less exciting and colorful than I expected but it was still cool to see how the boats sell their stuff on the river. As an outsider it seemed really chaotic but I'm sure they had some sort of system though they didn't really care when boats crashed 🙊
I liked most the old ladies on their tiny boats where they grilled meat and paddled between the bigger boats.
14 January 2016
14.01.2016, Day 30 Ho Chi Minh City to Ca Tho 🚌
Ping treated us to breakfast this morning. We couldn't spend so much time together because he had to go to work but I'm still amazed by his hospitality. He treated us as we were friends for a long time and I really enjoyed that he was so eager to share his culture with us (even though it was a bit strange to learn about Taiwan while visiting Vietnam).
Our highlife ended at noon when we had to leave his apartment and take a bus to Can Tho.
But before we went to a cafe to drink coffee. I have to say that Vietnamese coffee taste good and I'm on a mission to get more used to the taste of black coffee.
It was a 5 hour ride and when we arrived we organized a homestay with a Vietnamese family. We slept in a wooden cottage next to the Mekong river, learned how to prepare spring rolls and met two really nice travelers from Australia (not to forget this adorable puppy that got my attention for the whole evening ❤️)
13.01.2016, Day 29 Ho Chi Minh City
Cu Chi Tunnels
First of all, my shoes are broken. This 'whole' keeps getting bigger and bigger and half of my feet falls out when I'm walking.😒
We booked a tour to the Cu Cho Tunnels which were used in the Vietnam war against the U.S.. We were really lucky with our guide and it was interesting to learn about how the Vietnamese fought against the U.S.
After we returned we waited for Ping (our couchsurfer for this night) because he said he wants to pick us up (which is quite unusual for couchsurfing). But soon we learned that everything about him was unusual for couchsurfing. He is a Taiwanese business man working for Asus living in the rich district of the city. When we left the taxi Tyler and I found us in front of a fancy looking apartment complex and I felt ashamed for my dirty self. He cooked dinner for us and talked about Taiwanese culture and his life as assistant of the former Taiwanese president. This night was really unforgettable.
12 January 2016
12.01.2016, Day 28 Ho Chi Minh City
Before Tyler and I flew to Vietnam, Xiao Mi asked me what I know about Vietnam.. awkward silence followed.
To fill our worryingly big knowledge gap we decided to spent our first day in Vietnam with leaning about the country and getting used to this new culture we are in.
We started our day with the traditional Vietnamese noodle soup 'pho' and a fresh mango juice (😍😍😍), then we visited the war remnants museum to learn about the Vietnam war. I think we both weren't mentally prepared for what we will see but the museum was really eye-opening showing all the cruelties of the war.
After this we ate some delicious street food (I definitely fall for Vietnamese food), and went on to the next museum about Vietnamese history and culture. We also drunk traditional Vietnamese coffee, explored the whole city by feet, ate dinner on plastic chairs on the street and ended the night on a nice roof top bar.
12.01.2016, Day 28 Ho Chi Minh City Part 2
The amount of scooters in Ho Chi Minh City is crazy. Crossing a street turns into a real adventure but honestly it is not as bad as I expected it to be. Tyler and I got used to it immediately following the devise 'just go, don't stop' with an inherent trust in humanity. It might seem chaotic from the outside but if you follow the flow of the traffic everything works out well.
11.01.2016, Day 27 Manila to Ho Chi Minh City ✈️
We had the whole day in Manila as our flights departed late at night. However the experiences of our last visit in Manila taught us that we won't get friends with this city so we decided to spent the day in the Mall of Asia - one of the biggest malls in Asia.
We started the day with breakfast at Starbucks, ate lunch at IHOP and dinner at McDonalds (we had to get rid of our Philippine money🙊). In between we walked around or just sat and relaxed. It was a strange day doing nothing useful and eating a lot of fast food.
At the airport I had to say goodbye to Xiao Mi because she had to go back to Shanghai. I hate goodbyes but at least I will see her again in a few month back in Germany.
Tyler and I took the plane to Vietnam - starting our next chapter. We arrived at 1am and took a cap to our hotel. We booked two capsules in a Japanese style hotel. It was on my bucket list and it was a great experience😊
11 January 2016
10.01.2016, Day 26 Coron to Manila ⛵️
It was time to say 'Goodbye' to Patrick. Xiao Mi, Tyler and I took the overnight ferry from Coron to Manila at afternoon so we had enough time for a delicious breakfast. The bagels we got were so yummi that we ordered a second round immediately 😋 after breakfast we went to our hostel and looked at the pictures of our trip. Most of the pictures can destroy careers and are top blackmailing material 🙀
It was nice to go through all the memories together and it is really strange to realize how much time already passed by since we started..
When we were on the ferry we missed Patrick so we shared our favorite Patrick stories with each other and cheered on him.
Around 8pm we went to bed to nap for a few hours but we all fall in a really deep sleep and we woke up 12 hours later in Manila.
9 January 2016
09.01.2016, Day 25 Coron
One last time
It was our last night together so we tried to make the most out of it.
.. Destiny had other plans with us but this is another story🙊
There is not much left to say so I try to summarize our time in a few words..
1) Xiao mi can you turn on your hotspot?
2) where is the next McDonald's and can we go home?
3) what would happen if Patrick is alone with a bottle of coke and why are Xiao Mi's granny panties smelly?
4) what is the difference between gross and super gross?
5) who has the shared wallet?
6) why is Sandy digging around?
7) and when did Jeffrey develop his own personality?
..We had fun once. It was awful.
09.01.2016, Day 25 Coron
Riff hoping and snorkeling Part 2
I'm a child of the ocean that's for sure. No matter if it is walking on the beach, swimming, diving, or being on a boat.. It makes me feel complete. It's been only a few days but I already miss the sea so much.
09.01.2016, Day 25 Coron
Riff hoping and snorkeling 🐠
The Philippines are known for their beautiful diving spots, colorful riffs and special fish species.
We could decide between another island hopping tour or snorkeling and as it is quite impossible to top the beaches we've already seen and we only snorkeled once, it was a an easy decision.
Our first stop was a Japanese wreck from World War II, then we headed to a coral garden which was just stunning. The colors of the corals were so strong and there were plenty of fishes
Oh, and if someone is wondering about this 'third eye' on my forehead.. We baptized him Jeffrey and he was a new member of our group for a couple of days✌🏽️
8 January 2016
08.01.2016, Day 24 El Nido to Coron ⛵️
We all knew that this day would come.. Leaving El Nido 😔
For sure, I left my heart there and I started to miss this place with the first step I took on the ferry to Coron.
But I enjoyed every minute on the ferry..sitting outside, listening to music and watching the beautiful little islands we drove by.
We arrived in Coron at afternoon and walked around searching for a hostel. Luckily we found a cheap, newly opened hostel with a lovely receptionist 😸
The restaurant were we ate dinner gave each of us a dessert for free. Patrick and Tyler ate it immediately but as suspicious as I am with food I spotted plenty of ants inside the sauce of my and Xiao Mi's dessert 🐜😧 pfuii
This experience gave the saying 'the early bird catches the worm' a new meaning 😅
We spent the rest of the day playing Uno and drinking some beers. We pushed this game to the next level and played with money😎 .. Good decision (at least for me🙊)
Yes I'm still live and don't even think about to complain but AUA
Somehow I can't stop hurting myself whatever I do.
At least I don't have any symptoms of mononucleosis anymore and my bruises from the motorcycle accident turned into pink scars but I used the past days efficiently to add more and more injuries.
When we were island hoping I kicked a rock inside the water which broke my big toe nail and I got a deep cut between my toes. Also when Tyler and I swam to the island I touched corals with my legs and my feet and now I have cuts all of my legs.
On our cliff climbing I smashed my feet against a rock when I lost balance and now there is a small bruise and my ankle hurts a lot 😓
And finally on the second kayak tour I cut my feet on a shell two times which makes walking right now really painful.
I really hope the list won't get any longer on my travel..
7 January 2016
El Nido Night Life
We don't get tired of playing Uno🙈 we had some great nights in El Nido. Good food, beers at the beach, unprofessional rounds of pool, a shady reggae bar and a lot of fun. I'm already missing it
07.01.2016, Day 23 El Nido
Kayaking Part 2
We had so much fun the first time that we rented the kayaks a second time. Our goal was to find a hidden lagoon but after none of us had any power in their arms anymore we gave up and paddled to a nice white sand beach.
We played like little kids on this island, climbing trees, catching jelly fishes, fighting with paddles and Patrick pimped his kayak with whatever he found in the jungle.
At some point when my abs hurt from laughing I recognized how truly happy I am. Happy and thankful for all this experiences and the great people I'm with. If I could stop time I would do it
6 January 2016
Day 22 Part 2
After our climb we went back home and slept a couple of hours. When we were alive again we rented two Kayaks and paddled to another island.
It took some time until I figured out how to paddle as i confused it with rowing but even with the right technique I wasn't able to paddle straight.
Lucky me, I have friends who had the patience to share a kayak with me 🙏🏼
Kayaking is really exhausting for the shoulders (of course the part of my body that is trained the most 🙈💪🏽) and it takes some time to get from one point to another but it was a great feeling to be on the sea, paddling around and choosing an island to take a break.
06.01.2016, Day 22 El Nido
We got up at 5 am to see the sun rising. It was a short (45 minutes) but tough climb. The trail was steep and the rocks were sharp but it was so much fun. At first it was completely dark and we only had our phone flash to light us our way. I was lucky that I wear a helmet because I smashed my head a couple of times against a rock.
We arrived on time on the peak of the cliff to see the sunrise. It was an amazing view over the town and the sea and all the small islands in front of it.
5 January 2016
Island hopping part 3
Our last stop was a big lagoon where we could drive through with our boat. I was sitting on this things next to our boat, playing with my feet inside water and enjoying the scenery.
I decided to sit there on the way back. It was far from being comfortable but I had the sunset in my back, the waves under me and a ocean breeze in my face..
Island hopping part 2
Our fourth stop was a small lagoon. We could either choose to rent a kayak or to swim there from our boat. As we are poor students we decided to swim. The distance wasn't the problem rather the sneaky fishes that attacked us. Their bites were small but painful and i cant say what was more fun.. to see my friends scared and ready for the next attack (I've never seen fear like that in Tyler's face) or just swimming through this beautiful crystal blue lagoon surrounded by cliffs
05.01.2016, Day 21 El Nido
El Nido is a small village in the north of Palawan surrounded by mountain on the one side and houndreds of small, lonely, paradise island on the other side. When I planned the trip I already decided that this is gonna be the highlight of our travel and yes, it was.
We booked an island hopping tour which included 2 islands and 3 lagoons.
Immature as we are we decide the night before to get day drunk while we hopped from one island to the other so we bought the cheapest rum we could get (1€ per bottle👌🏽) and started the day right 😺
The scenery we saw was beautiful. On our second stop Tyler and I swam to another island which was a little bit challenging because of the current and the waves but the view we got was totally worth it. We proudly baptized the island Tyler-and-sandy-island.
I tried to breath in the beauty of the moment, took mental pictures to make sure that I will never forget how good life can be..
4 January 2016
03/04.01.2015, 19 and 20 Puerto Princessa
We stayed the night with Nieves and her boyfriend who trains roosters for fights. Also they had a lot of dogs (I couldn't really count them) but surrounded by all the animals I felt like I was on a farm. Her house felt like a bare-boned skeleton, two floors with minimal bamboo to create bedrooms upstairs. It had a nice flair though..
Puerto Princessa doesn't have much to offer for travelers and we only stayed there one night to wait for Patrick who arrived a day later. While waiting for him we relaxed a bit, read and walked on the bay walk.
We didn't really sleep well because the roosters and dogs felt like doing an open air concert with us as an involuntary audience.
We met Patrick the next day at afternoon and finally we felt complete again. We celebrated our reunion with the most awesome hotdogs ever and then we took a van to El Nido where we arrived at midnight.
2 January 2016
02.01.2016, Day 18 Bantayan to Cebu City
It looks like I'm carrying my whole household with me 🙈
I really enjoy the backpacker lifestyle so far - being young, wild and free ✌🏽️
We left Bantayan and headed back to Cebu city where we met Junior. But before we went to his place we visited the restaurant with the holy golden 'M'. It was surprisingly satisfying to eat all the fries and burgers after weeks of rice and fried noodles.
Juniors apartment is small so we slept in his living room/kitchen and celebrated our own small sleepover party.
The next morning our group split up. Tyler and I went for breakfast with Junior. We bought a bag full of baby mangos (heaven) and ate them with sweet sticky rice (and by sweet I mean sugar shock). After, he showed us a cathedral where a spiderman balloon hung upside down from the rafters 🙀
At noon we took a flight to Puerto Princessa where we met Xaio Mi and made our way to the next couchsurfing place
1 January 2016
Motorcycle accident update:
I am starting to believe that deep down inside me hides a little superhero. At least my body shows some super hero powers. My bruises are healing super fast and the scab is already peeling off. I'm really happy about it but not too excited to see the scars that I will probably have for a long time 😕
👫👫 Virgin island
It might seem like i'm obsessed with taking pictures of Tyler but I just can't help myself 🙊
He is always jumping and posing in front of my lens making it hard to resist taking pictures 😇 .. and I'm actually really proud of the pictures
When we were on the boat that took us back we had a beautiful sunset. I can't get tired of it..
We ended the day with yummy burgers and playing pool.
1.1.2015 on the way to Virgin Island
We heard that it's possible to charter a boat for a day that brings you to Virgin island.. So we did (best decision eveeeer 💪🏽)
I think these are more or less insider pictures but we couldn't stop laughing after Xiao Mi caught Tyler doing this face.
You guys have no idea how much fun you can have with sea stars.
The sea was full of these big sea stars and Tyler couldn't resist touching and playing with them..
Later we commandeered a small swimming house where we had a lot of fun, jumped into the water and enjoyed the sun.
01.01.2016, Day 17 Virgin Island 🌴🐚👙
Guess we found the place where all the fancy pictures for calendars and laptop home screens are taken 🙀
New years eve
Did i say we took a nap in the afternoon? Rather it turned into a long and deep coma.
We woke up somewhat after 9pm and I felt so confused/disoriented after sleeping half the day.
We ended up in an Italian restaurant by 10 pm and we were starving. We had two hours left to eat, find a place to celebrate New Years Eve and get into a New Years Eve celebration mood.
The food we got at the restaurant was a tiny little idea of how a normal portion of pasta should look (damn, I've never seen Xiao Mi as grumpy as in this moment)
We couldn't accept to end 2015 with bad food and start 2016 hungry so we went on to a Greek restaurant where we ate Gyros, played some badass rounds of Uno that made me question the friendship of the people I was with and listened to a live Reggae band.
It was the perfect place to celebrate the beginning of the new year.
For me New Years Eve was unspectacular and relaxed but I couldn't have asked for more.
31 December 2015
31.12.2015, Day 16 Bantayan Island
After we found a place to sleep and rested a little bit (meaning I tried to stuff as many mangos inside my stomach as possible) we rented another motorcycle, sadly not as good looking as Patrick's, and explored the island. The woman we rented the scooter from was preoccupied bleeding out a chicken while talking to us (I can't deny that this was a little bit unusual for me 🙎🏽).
Bantayan island is a beautiful island yet quite unexplored by mass tourism and a nice place to spend a few days. We ate lunch on the other side of the island and then tried to find a nice beach to swim at☀️🌊
We came back to our pension in the afternoon to nap as we were all really tired from our sleepless night before 😴
Look, we found a new friend 👫👫
Who could say no to a guy driving around on a pink scooter named 'scoopy'?
So I was more than happy to welcome Patrick into our group.
Tyler had another reason why he was happy to meet him. He said he was deathly in need of new company as Xiao Mi and I start to get boring... I'm not so sure if it was a joke though 😾
Anyway, Cap'n Pat, welcome to the cool kids.
30 December 2015
30.12.2015, Day 15
On the road
We left Cabilao and took a ferry back to Bohol, from where we took a ferry to Cebu City. In Cebu city we went to a mall to get internet and think about the next place we could visit. We spent a few hours at the mall, ate at Pizza Hut and enjoyed a coffee hoping that one of us would have a bright moment and come up with a plan..
..but nothing happened so we took a jeepney to the North Bus Terminal and asked random people where we should go. Soon we were surrounded by a group of men who were super excited to help us out and suggested one city after another. A man pointed at a bus that just arrived and said 'go there'. .. So we did.
We drove four hours in a stinky, overcrowded bus to the port of Hagnaya where we spent the night and took a 4 am ferry to Bantayan.
When we arrived I was exhausted. It was a sleepless 24 hour trip where we experienced the 'joy' of the philippine infrastructure.
29 December 2015
This moment when a pictures isn't even close to capture the beauty of what you see..
While watching the sunset I got lost in the scenery cherishing the moment and being thankful that I was exactly at the right place at the right time.
I wouldn't mind to have such a view every evening..
As much as we were disappointed by the island itself, we were blessed with the food our host mom prepared for us.
I was in my personal Mango heaven (l literally had mango all over me - that's how much i enjoyed eating them). Next to these fresh mango we got home grown Papaya and Bananas, lots of vegetables which we really lacked of since we are traveling and super fresh fish and seafood. YUUUMMI
so even if it was just because of the food but this definitely made our visit at this island worth.
Day 14, 29.12.2015 Cabilao
The first two pictures show the promised blue lagoon. Is it just me or would you also be surprised if this is what you find when going for a blue lagoon 🙊 never mind, we don't need much to be happy. Tyler found a half cut coconut and after he already proved to do a handstand on the beach and a stone at the hot springs we pushed this game to the next level and challenged him to do a one-handed handstand on a coconut. Surprisingly he did it. I'm already thinking about the next challenge where and how he should do a handstand.
Call me 'mom sandy'
I guess my host mom wanted to call me politely mam' Sandra but at some point it turned into 'mom sandy' 😣
Whenever she called me like that I had to stop myself from replying 'I'm not your mom' and it made me feel soo old.
But yaaay, I got a new nickname I guess. At least Tyler and Xiao Mi use every opportunity to remind me of that.
Anyway it could be worse. One of our couch surfing hosts used to talk about Xiao mi as 'the other one' even when she sat next to him (maybe someone has some issues with Chinese people 💁🏽..). Tyler and I thankfully regarded this as invitation to replace 'Xiao Mi' with 'this other one' when talking about/to her 🙏🏼
..It seems like Tyler is the only one who didn't get an unpleasant nickname yet. let's see for how long 😈
29.12.2015, Day 14 Cabilao
We started this day full of hope that we unintentionally discovered a secret island with hidden wonders but reality hit us hard.
Our host mom promised a beautiful lake, white sand beaches and a blue lagoon. Who wouldn't get excited about this?
We first visited the lake which was.. a lake. We continued our exploration a little bit confused though but still with a confidence that paradise is waiting for us.
Well, of course paradise is defined differently across the world but at least I wouldn't want to spend an eternity on a beach full of feet-slicing stones and corrals that hinder you from refreshing inside the water.
At this point we accepted that the island is kind of useless and just enjoyed the moment. It was sunny, we had time to relax and there are million ways to spend a worse Tuesday afternoon.
Tyler and Xiao Mi competed each other in fancy Joga exercises and I read a book and walked along the beach in good old Sandy manner.
28 December 2015
Day 13, 28.12.2015
Initially we planned to stay 5 days on Camiguin island. But the ferry was already fully booked.
As we really wanted to see Camiguin island we tried to hire a fisher boat. After long discussions, we actually found someone who could have brought us-in a tiny boat, without any safety... We really considered this option debating between a great adventure and getting lost on the sea but after I already got mononucleosis and had a motorcycle accident, a wise voice inside my head told me not to push my luck and be responsible for once. So we left without any idea where to go. Adventurous as we are, we pointed to one island on the map and a few hours later we found ourselves on a lonely island without anything but a friendly family that was willing to host us.
There was also a pricy resort on the island but the manager wasn't willing to offer a discount for lost travelers 😓
Our host mom prepared a delicious dinner and we ended the day playing Uno.
Day 12 Part 3/3, 27.12.2015 Bohol
AUA AUA AUA
My thoughts wander between "Dummheit muss bestraft werden" und "ein Indianer kennt keinen Schmerz"
I wish i could tell a badass story about how I fell from a motorcycle rescuing a child while sacrificing myself for the greater good but the truth is not even close.. I sat on the back of Tyler's bike and we just wiped out on some gravel.
At first I wasn't sure if my leg was broken because it swelled up and turned blue but I'm lucky I only got bruises. They hurt a lot though but at least I look a bit shady now 😼
Note to Tyler's mom:
Tyler is perfectly fine (only a few scratches🙏🏼) except he has to live with the guilt of hurting me. Although knowing him he's not even hurting from that either 😓
27 December 2015
Day 12 Part 2/3, 27.12.2015 Chocolate Hills
Bohol is famous for its Chocolate hills so we had to stop by and check them out. I think they look so funny and unique but why are they called chocolate hills? I really don't know. We were fantasizing that the hills are filled with chocolate and we just have to put a spout inside so the chocolate can flow out. Also we definitely regretted not bringing a shovel just for the image of us digging for chocolate in front of the chocolate hills...
Day 12 Part 1/3, 27.12.2015 Tagbilaran:
We were sitting on the street waiting for a bus to Tagbilaran when a man in a car stopped and offered us to go with him. Sitting in the back of his car made me question if we got kidnapped but luckily meeting this man was the best thing that could have happened. He organized a hotel room for us and gave us two motorcycles for a reasonable price.
When he offered us the motorcycles this should have been the moment where we acted as responsible grown-ups but rather what followed was guided by childish nonchalance. None of us had experience with riding a motorcycle so we asked random people on the street for driving lessons. 10 minutes later we felt ready to participate in the city traffic so we started our day trip. We wanted to explore the island, drive around and feel free. It was so much fun and the landscape was beautiful - Rice fields, the jungle, curvy streets and a fresh breeze..
Day 11, 26.12.2015 Alona Beach (Paglao, Bohol)
After the whale shark diving we took the ferry from Oslob to Panglao which is located on Bohol island. Alona Beach is called "one of the worlds most beautiful and secret beaches". I couldn't see that. I mean it was really nice, white sand and clear water but it was soo touristic with lots of resorts and a crowded beach. We found a reeeeeally cheap "hotel" for 3€per person per night but this was also why we only had a small bed and the possibility to make 5 steps inside the room. It was cozy🙊
We spent the rest of the day walking around a bit and sitting in a German bar, playing pool and kicker and watching all these old men which perfectly fit the sex tourism stereotype.
We left this place early the next morning as we all didn't really enjoy being there. It was overpriced and inauthentic.
26 December 2015
Day 11, 26.12.2015 Oslob
Whale shark diving
We woke up at 5 am (sleep is definitely overrated when traveling) and left Moalboal to take the bus to Oslob. Whale shark diving is THE attraction in Cebu so it wasn't surprising that the area was really touristic and full of people. I wasn't sure what to think about this whole whale watching thing and if I should support it but I was surprised that it was more or less animal friendly. The whale sharks get fed between 9-12pm to make sure that they come back every day. We saw about 10 whale sharks and they were soo close. I even got slapped by one's tail. Also i got a feeling for how a shark attack must feel like when one of the animals surfaced right behind me with an open mouth and Xiao Mi just screamed "sandyyyyy turn around". I couldn't have swum any faster to make space for the whale.
I wouldn't do it again because I generally don't like these touristic activities but it was a great once-in-a-lifetime experience 🐳
25 December 2015
Day 9, 24.2.2015 Badian, Christmas Part 3/3
We spent Christmas Eve with Brian's family, had dinner and went to church. They were so welcoming and nice :)
AND they had puppies 🐶 I couldn't ask for more
Day 10, 25.2.2015, Moalboal
Riff hopping and snorkeling
We slept really late this day and after we woke up we got surprised by a huuuge Christmas brunch that Bryan's mom prepare for us yummiii. After we wante to take the bus to Moalboal, a popular diving spot close to Badian, but Bryan's dad offered us to take us there. Once we arrived we booked a 3 hours boat trip to three different diving spots for the three of us (seems like 3 was the magic number this day).
24 December 2015
Day 9, 24.12.2015 Badian, Christmas Part 2/3
Rooster fight and VIP lounge
After the hot springs we met Bryan because he invited us to go to a rooster fight with him. Philippino are really into this kind of "sport" and I would compare it to the German "Sportschau" (THE event of the week).
The roosters get sharp blades on their feet and each fight ends whenever one rooster is dead. The winner gets money and the dead rooster for dinner.
For outsiders this might seem really cruel and I also needed time get used watching this scenery.
Some fights were really bloody and I had several blood spots on my leg as we sat in the first row (baah).
After some fights we felt professional enough to bet and surprisingly we won some money. This whole experience made me feel as if I was sitting in the roman emperor's box during the time of the gladiators, choosing who lives and who dies.. Strange experience but definitely worth it
Day 9 24.2.2015, Badian, Christmas Part 1/3
Is there a better way to start a day than to relax in some hot springs?
I wasn't sure if they are actually hot but damn jumping in a 40,6 degrees pool is quite painful. But anyway it was really chill with a nice view and only a few locals to share the place with
22 December 2015
Day 8, 23.12.2015 Osmea Peak:
"Go to Osmea Peak" they said, "it will be fun" they said.
The Osmea Peak is the highest point in Cebu and is supposed to have a beautiful view.
The guys we are staying with offered us to bring us there to see the sunrise. Of course we agreed and so we had to get up at 4am to see the sun rises. Xiao Mi, Tyler and I sat each on the back of a motorcycle an I was just as awake enough to make sure that I don't fall of the motorcycle. When we arrived it was so foggy that we couldn't see anything. The hike to the peak was really short and once we got there we stood in the middle of the clouds. No amazing view, no reward for our effort only wet hair and three not really happy friends..
BUT our ride back home made up for all the disappointments earlier that morning. It wasn't foggy anymore and we drove on the motorcycles through the mountains. It was so much fun and the nature was just amazing.
Day 7, 22.12.2015 Badian (continued):
After canyoning, we were soo tired. Luckily the sun was shining so we could relax on the beach next to our cottage.
Day 7, 22.12.2015 Badian:
Bryan is working for a business that offers canyoning tours in Badian. As we are staying for free at his place it seemed just fair to book a canyoning tour.
BEST DECISION EVER. Canyoning is more or less hiking that involves several disciplines (jumping, swimming, climbing). The whole tour took 4 hours and it was totally worth it.The place looked like paradise and especially the jumps of the cliffs and waterfalls were super fun but also scary.
21 December 2015
Day 6: 21.12.2015 Badian (continued)
I love couchsurfing!
I love my life!
I love the Philippines!
Badian had a big surprise for us. We came here to visit Bryan, another couchsurfing guy and we had no clue what was waiting for us.
When he showed us the place where we gonna stay for the next days I couldn't believe it. This is definitely all I ever wanted. A cottage on stilts above the water, a stunning sunset and the sound of the waves. This is just amazing.
Bryan invited us for dinner and after we drove to another beach to drink beer and play karaoke with his friend.
On the way home, Tyler and I sat on the back of the motorcycle of his friend. We drove on a lonely street, palm trees on each sites, the stars and a shining moon above us. That feeling of freedom and the beauty of the moment made me speechless.
I titaniced the fuck out of this motorcycle (thank you Tyler for this expression) when I opened my arms and looked up to the sky while we were driving.
Hell yea life is good.
Day 6 21.12.2015, Cebu city to Badian:
I waited 5 month for this day. Today Xiao Mi arrived to join our trip for the coming three weeks. I was so excited and I couldn't be more happy to see her again. I got a cold a few days ago and had to cough a lot. Yesterday my voice was already hoarse but after talking to her the entire bus trip from Cebu city to Badian, my voice was gone (we had a lot to catch up). At least this way I had to be quite and tyler and Xiao mi got some time to get to know each other.
I'm just so happy to travel with these two guys and thankful for all the moments we gonna spend together.
20 December 2015
20.12.2015, Day 5 (continued) Cebu city:
We flew two hours south Cebu. After we arrived we met the guy where we wanted to sleep this night. I liked him from the first moment on and was excited about what the day will bring. There were two other girls who stayed the night at his place and one of them prepared a traditional Japanese dinner for us (Yummi!) After, Tyler and I shared a bottle of Soju, introducing our new friends to Korean drink customs. Later this night we went out to one of Cebu Cities party districts to have some beer. Our group had a good klick and we had interesting conversations about traveling, lady boys and couch surfing experiences. Even though I was really tired after this sleepless night before I ended up in a foreigner club partying around old white men trying to hook up with Philippine girls. I felt sorry for the girls but it was just too funny to see the desperate flirting attempts of these old men who danced as if they were back in the 70ties.
20.12.2015 Day 5: Manila - the gates to hell.
We arrived at 5 am at the bus terminal in Manila and had to walk a few kilometers to the subway station to head to the airport. Walking in the dawn of the morning through the streets of Manila reminded me once more that this could also be Gotham and we are walking on the set of the next batman movie. There were families sleeping in a heap together in the dirt, smoke and waste everywhere, shady looking people on the streets, naked children searching in the waste and a constant smell of urine.
Experiencing first-hand such extreme conditions that normally feel so far away made me pensive.
19 December 2015
19.12.2015 Day 4 Bontoc:
"Tylerrrr, the bridge is swinging" - "I know that's what hanging bridges do"
Bontak has its own really beautiful rice terraces surrounded by a river and a hanging bridge. I would say the view was even more beautiful than the rice terraces in Banaue. It was on my bucket list to cross a hanging bridge because even the thought of it scares me. And honestly it was worse than I expected. It was really windy so the bridge was swinging from one side to the other. It freaked the hell out of me and I really had to keep myself together to not turn around. But I made it (high five to myself) and the way back was way easier for me.
Later this day we took a bus back to Banaue.
It was rainy, so we had to wait for our night bus back to Manila and there's not much to do in Banaue except find the one cafe with wifi, a karaoke machine, and a passionate, yet woefully misguided cross-dressing karaoke singer. At least it was entertaining.
18 December 2015
Day 1 in Manila continued (scroll down for part 1)
When we walked around in Intramuros we met a men who offered a tour on his bike with a sidecar. It was super cheap and he was really nice (read: persuasive) so we agreed. Intramuros has an authentic Spanish flair due to the Spanish architecture. We really enjoyed the company of our guide so we invited him to eat dinner with us and he took us to his favorite restaurant close to his home. We left the touristic streets and I enjoyed being surrounded by locals who were surprisingly happy to see us. The Philippine food was delicious! After dinner we went to the sea and sat down on a wall. Soon after, a little girl who spoke a little bit of English joined us. We had a short chat and she told us about an amusement park not too far away. Spontaneous as we are, we decided to go there and check it out. But we realized that what a 10 year old girl thinks is fun is not exactly a reliable source. Anyway it was a great first day
18.12.2015 Day 3 in Banaue: We left Manila Thursday night and took a night bus to Banaue. I was quite happy to leave Manila. The two days we spent there were a good experience that I didn't want to miss but Manila doesn't have much to offer; rather it's chaotic, dirty and similar too any other big city. We left Manila at 11pm and woke up 10 hours later in Banaue, a small mountain village that is famous for its rice terraces. These rice terraces are more than 2000 years old and cut into the mountain. They are said to be one of the new world wonders so I was really excited to see them. Unfortunately December is one of the worst months to visit them but it was impressive anyway. Also it was so nice to be at a more relaxed place and finally breathe fresh air again. When we arrived at Banaue we organized a tour guide and drove with a group of 5 people to the terraces. We spent the whole day hiking around and enjoying the stunning view.
Day 3 continued:
The paths we walked were really narrow and without handrails. One misplaced step and you could fall terribly far. I didn't know before but when I was walking I recognized I'm afraid of heights which made it challenging to walk any further. Anyway I somehow made it back to Banaue alive but exhausted. We were supposed to take a bus to Bontoc but we missed the last bus. Luckily our tour guide found a man who was willing to take us there. It was a 1.5 hour ride and already dark. We drove on the serpentine road through the clouds and could barely see anything. All we wanted was to sleep and we definitely needed a long shower but our 6€ per night hotel had other plans for us. We first got a room with a shared bathroom and shower (when i say bathroom I mean a bowl and a bucket of water). I'm sure after the woman at the reception saw our faces she felt sorry for us and upgraded our room. I didn't get the long shower I needed but at least I got some sleep..
17 December 2015
17.12.2015 Day 2: There are moments in life that are so special that you already know you will tell your grandchildren about them. On our second day in Manila we decided to visit the district of Manila where the infamous slums "happy land" and "smokey mountain" are. I read about them on travel blogs but all the bloggers did a guided tour which is offered by a local NGO. However we were too late to book this so we went there on our own. It took us hours to get there as none of the tricycle drivers were willing to take us there. We knew from the beginning that it might be dangerous so we left all our belongings at home (except a phone and just enough money to cover the transportation costs) and agreed that we don't want to take pictures. It just doesn't feel right to pretend like a slum is a touristic attraction (the pictures i uploaded are mostly taken outside the slum or i asked for permission).
Day 2 continued 2:When we walked down the streets we shook hands, gave high fives to the children and those who could speak a little bit of English tried to start a conversation. Most of the people we passed said "Hello, Good afternoon. Merry Christmas". Nobody came to ask for money instead they offered us beer and to play basketball. I don't have to mention that this place looks horrible. Smoky mountain is constructed around an old landfill and the only way to make some money for the people is to separate and recycle waste. The people literally live on the waste, it is dirty and smells like burned waste. For me it was so painful to breathe the air. I felt like every minute I spent there was one day less of life. When we left the place we offered the woman who guided us some money but she didn't accept it. This whole experience was so unexpected for me. Even though some would say the people are poor and have nothing, they gave me a lot this day and impressed me in so many ways.
Day 2 continued:
When we arrived at Smokey Mountain we didn't dare to leave the tricycle. People were starring at us and we attracted a lot of attention. While we were asking ourselves if this is what we really want to do, we saw a shirtless men walking by with a huge knife in his pants and a women came to the tricycle asking us why we are there. When we said that we just want to walk around she dragged her finger across her throat as if to tell us 'don't come in here it's too dangerous'. Certainly this would have been the right moment to turn back but we found ourselves leaving the tricycle and walking inside the slum. The woman went with us. I wasn't sure about her intentions and I definitely felt uncomfortable in this whole situation. But the deeper we went I realized that the woman just wanted to show us around. And then something happened I would have never expected. We were walking the streets and the people were so truly happy and excited to see us.
16 December 2015
16.12.2015: Day 1 in Manila. It is super humid and rainy. To describe my first day in Manila I only need two words: culture shock. I've never experienced a cultural shock like this before, neither in Sri Lanka nor in Korea. But the Philippines is so different. Maybe because I wasn't mentally prepared to arrive in a second world country where a lot of things are still very underdeveloped or maybe because the differences to Korea are huge. We slept late this day because we definitely had to catch up on some sleep. Also we didn't really have a plan about what we wanted to do except explore Manila somehow. So we looked up some sightseeing spots and set off. To get to our first stop we took a tricycle which is just a crazy experience. A tricycle is a motorcycle with a sidecar. Sitting in this sidecar you feel every pothole in the street and the driving style makes you pray for your life. Our first stop was Intramuros, a Spanish district that reminded me of a Spanish colony.
20.12.2015 Day 5: Sleepless in Manila. We arrived a 5 am at the bus station and had to walk a few km to the subway station to head to the airport. Walking in the dawn of the morning through the street of Manila reminds me once more that this city equals Gottham city and could be a perfect set for a Batman movie.
16.12.2015: Well, we asked for an adventure and we got one. Getting lost in Manila at 2am is definitely an "interesting" start for our trip. Yesterday, Manila got hit by a typhoon so the whole city was paralyzed and there were barely any transportation possibilities. We walked outside of the airport area to find a cab somewhere on the streets. While we were walking I got the feeling that this is how a zombie apocalypse must look. It took us 45 min to find a cab and our cab driver was one of the really funny ones though he nagged us like a mother for being outside in this district in the middle of the night. When we arrived at our couch surfing house I was kind of surprised. This is my first couch surfing experience and I don't know what I expected but there were people sleeping everywhere on literally everything. Tyler and I are lucky because we got a room for ourselves and we went to bed exhausted but happy - ready for our Philippine experience
15 December 2015
15.12.2015: Let's go! Today Tyler and I submitted our last finals, packed our bags and sent our stuff back home. We had a goodbye lunch at Otsal with Mason, his girlfriend Carly and Jeremie. Now we are on the plane ready for our adventure. According to the weather forecast there will be a typhoon while we are in the Philippines. I hope it won't turn out as bad as it seems.