ONE YEAR OF COVID-19 PANDEMIA: WHAT CHANGED IN THE HUMAN COMMUNITY?

Dear readers,

today by far a bit more than one year is spent from the COVID-19 outbreak, a deep chance of habits among us human has occurred even we did not want it by any means.

One year ago, myself was just back from my last overseas travel to Asia and yet I was not really aware what such virus pandemia was about and how serious consequences could bring, now I could say that by travelling in that time I take charge of a potential huge risk not only for my personal health and someone’s health but also because the outbreak turned out a sort of ‘worldwide war regime’ since no Country in the world was enough prepared to face up such a worldwide emergency and as a result each Country during March 2020 started to close the borders for the tourism like a domino effect, therefore I risked of not returning back to my living Country, however fortunately I landed at Vienna airport right on the last day before they would have fully-closed it to start arranging all the COVID-19 precautions. I have to admit that at the beginning I underestimated the situation by believing that such a virus would have been faded out like when it happend with SARS in 2003.

If we were to make an objective assessment of the situation, we would say that before the COVID-19 we humans were used too much to the COMFORT zone: we had everything granted, hang-out anytime and anywhere we wanted, have a plenty of choice about What-to-Do and Where-to-Go, all this spoilt us very much, nevertheless we never seemed to be happy because we never took into account that a worldwide health issue could affect us, we were under the illusion of being invulnerable, in fact we are NOT.

I would say that COVID-19 pandemia is like a 4th worldwide war with the only difference that this is not fought with (chemical) weapons, so if before the human was never satisfied suddenly he/she ended up to comply with a sort of regime. For some of us this has been being a great opportunity to discover ourselves from the spiritual point of view (check the past article https://giuseppegiampino.com/2020/04/12/easter-time-over-the-covid-19-outbreak-a-great-opportunity-to-research-and-plan-something-new/), start to plan/rethink our future life including our ambitions, hobbies, etc. in other words this situations still represents for us a clear opportunity for growing.

One spontaneous question we should try to answer is: how our ancestors who experienced the 1st and 2nd worldwide war would react to this situation if they were to be still alive?

I personally gave an answer to this question and I say that I firmly believe that they would be wise enough and responsible. Unfortunately and Fortunately neither are our ancestors alive nor we experienced war time (at least in Europe).

What can the pros and cons of COVID-19 pandemia be?

I have drawn out the following PROS:

  1. Less mobility which means a decrease of the worldwide pollution
  2. Re-discover our spirituality by leaving apart unnecessary distractions
  3. Learn how to behave with one another and try to put aside our being superficial

CONS:

  1. Deterioration of the social relationships since they are permanently being replaced by virtual relationships
  2. Widespread fear of doing any activity

Naturally, more CONS can be identified, however if we focus too much on those we would never overcome the current situation. Let’s try to imagine how people from rural villages e.g. in Indonesia are living this situation, probably they may not be aware of this virus and even if they are they are used to a genuine and simple life-style and they do not psychologically suffer this situation very much.

Last but not the least, most of us as world explorers asks this question: when could we return to explore the globe? 🙂

There is no certainty about this point and beyond the covid-19 issue there are other matters such as the pollution and sustainability, e.g. the intensive air traffic is a big source of pollution for our planet and even barely the worldwide medias seriously talks about it, I firmly believe that in the coming future we will have to get used to a new idea of travelling which does not include fuel-powered means of transport, we all know that the future of the planet is entirely on our hands.

Having said that, I warmly welcome you to comment with your hints and remarks on how to deal with the pandemia as much best as possible for our good human future.

Giuseppe

Sihanoukville: a future coastal paradise or a town in disarray?

Dear readers,

following my last travel experience spent in Cambodia of which three days in the coastal city of Sihanoukville and some latest news about the renovation process of the town, I have gained some insights to deal with such a hot topic.

This town is the landmark to transfer by ferries to the Koh Rong islands and until two years ago used be a lively and ordered town in which most of Cambodians spent some relaxing holidays, however later on 2019 some radical changes started occurring, some Chinese investors had come to the place to finance a huge project to transform the city into a temple of luxury Hotel Casinos, brothels and shopping malls, for not talking about wild yields and clay roads, although my expectations were positive as I just landed at the airport, at first sight I noticed that something was wrong and on the way to city by a taxi cab it was more and more negative impressing, and when I reached my accommodation they delivered me the bad news that there was no water supply in that street since two days ago, nevertheless I didn’t give up and I started taking a look around, it didn’t take me much to realize that town itself is ruled by Chinese people which are more than 50% of the residents, moreover it is under the anarchy of the yields and the bulldozers which suddenly can block the access to the streets or narrow the lanes.

Here below I have embedded an impressive YouTube video about what it is going on Sihanoukville, watch it carefully:

Overview picture of the serious decay in Sihanoukville

Now, we all know that ‘fortunately’ and ‘unfortunately‘ the power of the business leads and rules most of the globe, however the question is how can they have run multiple yields at once throughout the town without a structured organizzative plan and moreover with no control from the state?

As for my short experience of staying in Sihanoukville, I would say that most of streets are land of nobody then especially in the night time, besides that, I was personally advised by the guest house owner of not leaving the motorbike parked outside the guest house hall because of the raised level criminality around town, so I had the feeling I was in the wrong place.

What appeared to be clear is that the Chinese investors corrupted the political representatives and therefore they gave them the power to do whatever they wanted no matter if this causes serious pollution and environmental disruption, they just concern about to speed up multiple constructions such as buildings, renewal of the water supply pipes and canalize the traffic in most of town streets. As a result all this at once turned out a serious mess.

Look below at the emblematic paradox at the landmark picture of the roundabout by the beach:

From this perspective above, we would say that there is apparently nothing wrong with the town, however when turning round the corner the enormous mess will show, here below there are few picture of the dark face of Sihanoukville:

I believe that this is enough impressive to show the huge contradiction between of the landmark symbol of the town and the disaster just few metres away. This photo report was made on the period February 29th to March 2nd. I know that I might have missed some further details, however having rented a motorbike I believe that this scenario is representative of what it is going on.

One side note is that I personally had the feeling to be one of the few daredevil adventurers, but on the other hand to be fair if I had made a deep research of the region itself, I would probably have avoided such a destination, so the learned lesson is ‘Always do your own deep research‘ and do net rely on what Google maps shows you.

The only attraction I feel to recommend (perhaps one day when the order is restored) is gorgeous Buddhist pagoda called ‘Samathi‘ which is about 20km far from the town, here below I have attached two pictures:

Such an attraction is ideal for chilling and meditating 🙂 behind the pagoda there are some walking stairs to a nice Chinese Buddha statue 🙂 and few more shadowed spots around.

Here below you have the google map link: https://goo.gl/maps/JCGW38RENcuw6BAD7

To sum it up, the running of multiple constructions does not work out by any means but instead put into serious healthy risks the living community by raising Luxury Hotel and Casino with gambling, is really that what we want? If the intention of the Cambodian government is to turn the town into a VIP destination ruled by an oligarchy, the question is:

Are we sure that both foreigners and Cambodian will be still willing to travel here?

Here below in this detailed articles we find some answers with some detailed explanations of the wild mafia of investors is dealing with the transformation of Sihanoukville:

https://www.voacambodia.com/a/a-pandemic-and-gambling-ban-has-left-cambodia-new-shenzhen-unfinished/5458750.html

https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/long-reads/article/3051344/sihanoukville-cambodian-magnet-chinese-casinos

Whatever the future of Preah Sihanouk region will be, the huge clutter spreaded all around will not be cleared any time soon and the local community will sadly suffer out of it.

Any remark is welcomed on this HOT topic!

Giuseppe

Easter time over the COVID-19 outbreak: a great opportunity to research and plan something new

Dear readers,

this Easter (fow who celebrates it) is by no doubt different than any other previous Easter we ever experienced so far in our life, the keen travelers like me are now on stand-by and forced to deal with some other activities, let’s say we are just out of the conventional every-day lifestyle we have enjoyed so far, for instance, our social activities are narrowed as well as the sport activities, however the world is not over, we just need to be more flexible than ever in adapting to a pattern of a new life.

One day, after spending few days at a friend’s place by meditating about ‘what next’, we found interesting the aspects of human spirituality by watching the following YoutuBe video that I share here below for you:

No worries! Just the cover is written in Italian and it means: ‘Arise the level of energy by staying sat down at home‘ , the speech of the video is delivered in english, the guy himself is an Indian yogi and author who raised a foundation focused on various fields of spirituality.

Regardless the religious belief that each of us belongs to, the content of the video is instructive, just don’t get discouraged with the beginning of the video which opens up with spiritual meditation of the body, after that he delivers his speech, during that he points out that the spiritual exercise can be very effective and can help us to re-discover our blissful of joy.

I believe that nowadays most us humans struggle in finding the (real) joy and as a result we let our brain to reason what makes us happy, what we believe that makes us joyful in fact is fake (just appearance) however most of us dislike facing the truth and this is how our ordinary life-style works.

Having traveled to India and few more asian countries where Hinduism and Buddhism are the dominant religions, I venture to say that they emphasize the meditation and spirituality a lot as a part of the ordinary the life-style, by this I do not mean that everybody in India, Thailand, Cambodia, etc. strictly follows this as a rule, the frenetic consumerist life-style contaminated everybody who works for a corporation business, and this is a sort of enemy for our spirituality.

Amongst other things, nobody knows whether we will be able to resume our ordinary ‘life-as-usual’ as it used to be until few months ago, therefore if some of us was entirely focused on making profitable business on the individual basis then we should resize our vision of the world, I believe that we all know that money at the end is just an illusion of happiness, for example people regardless their pockets are naturally supposed to actively contribute for a better collective life environment and we can not expect that someone will do it for us, otherwise the principle of human equality will never be applied 😦

To sum it up, I consider myself lucky enough to have explored thirty Countries of the globe, of which 23 in Europe and 7 in Asia, however these numbers would be meaningless if one doesn’t commit oneself to learn something from someone’s else culture, perhaps now for a while we won’t have chance to explore other cultures, so my recommendation is: let’s try use the best of what we learned out of having visited different cultures and see how it works, I believe that everybody is able to do so 🙂

Having said that, enjoy watching the video and feel free to share your thoughts!

Giuseppe

SAPA: second day OFF the beaten tracks among the remote villages

Following my previous post for the first day of trekking, for completion I dedicate this post for the second day of SaPa adventure 🙂

First of all, the home-stay where we slept was nicely arranged for us foreigners and I was surprised since they even had a western toilet with shower (my guess is that they would not have the same toilet in other houses/shelters in the village), the reason behind that is that they cooperate with Sapa O’ Chau tour which is one of the most reliable and best rated tour agent in SaPa and besides that, Sapa has become a popular destination nowadays. However, be sure that if you ever end up sleeping at a casual house in such villages you could never expect a western toilet! The experience in Indonesia (Flores) taught me something.

Secondly, like in every village the morning starts very soon, at 5am you can already observe ‘women at work’ taking care of the chickens, goats and cows already awoken, and myself I caught the chance to get up to record the scenery during the sun-raising , after that I just returned to the bed to sleep a bit more. Finally we all got up around 7:30am to enjoy the offered breakfast and get ready to set off.

Not until we started off, we had to trek further up to a steep hill on a muddy trail, despite the conditions of the trails local people ventures to get through by scooter, I could imagine how often they break the suspensions 😀

When we arrived at the top-point of Soi Thau village there were two kids playing with each other and smiling to us like to say ‘Welcome aliens!’

Once we reached the top point, the trail upfront looked at our eyes long and well-distributed throughout the immense landscape, compared to what we had to trek the day before this was a way easier, after one hour of trekking we got to pass through a weak water-stream originated by a small waterfall see the picture below:

Water pool in-between the trail

it was nothing impressive, we stop by to record some scenery around, then when we continued, we finally got to trek gradually upper and upper, the trail itself had been carved along the perimeter of the hills and it was wide enough so that we were fully-safe 🙂

at one point we end up passing one more farm house, as aliens we said ‘xin chao‘ to the local guy outside the house, however he did not react: our tour guide Su explained us that most of them are rather shy with the aliens and therefore they will barely react, in addition there is the title of the tour itself ‘OFF the beaten track’ 🙂 During the first day of the tour I made an estimation that we met max. three more foreigners who probably were with another tour guide, other than that no one more was around. See below the surrounding scenery 🙂

At one point we arrived at the top point of the last hill, and after that we only experienced downhill, the more we were getting down and more we started observing more and more houses which was the sign we were slowly approaching the semi-rural life, at one house in the outdoor space there were five kids who were fighting to drink from a bottle of water, it was just funny to observe them how cute as well as ‘naughty’, see below:

Here at this point our trekking turned into a walking down to the village of Ta Giang Phing, because we end up being on concrete narrow road which meant the beginning of the conventional civilization had taken over 😦 all the second day trekking lasted about four and half hours.

We stop at a typical open-air Vietnamese tavern to enjoy a pork noodle soup spice with lime, chili and mint!

All in all, this is an experience I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to get away from the agitation of the conventional civilization, it is worthy for the money, moreover if personally I were to travel back to SaPa, I would surely go for a motorbike tour off the beaten track.

As for the tour agent trips, check out their website here below:
http://sapaochau.org/sapa-trekking-and-homestay/

Any remark is welcomed!

Giuseppe

SAPA: first day OFF the beaten tracks in the rice fields terraces and rural villages

Dear explorers, I have finally completed out my 6th journey mission in South-East Asia, this time I dedicated my attention to Vietnam.

Unlike my previous deep experience with Indonesia, here I had less time to spend and so I had to draw a narrowed draft plan out of a total of fifteen days, perhaps here some might argue by saying that it is enough time, however unfortunately it is not enough for all Vietnam 😦

Because the time frame of my exploratory holiday was just fifteen days, I decided to divide it in two parts: the challenging part and the soft part.

Why that?

The reason behind is simple: if you first challenge yourself with a hard task then you will be able to appreciate the chilling part, on the contrary it would not work out much.

After making some research, I decided it was worthy to visit the SaPa area with its breathtaking nature characterized by rice fields terraces, because I always like to get off the beaten tracks (suitable for the lazy ones), I booked the following two-days tour by Sapa O’Chau tour:

http://sapaochau.org/sapa-trekking-and-homestay/sapa-trek-and-tour/trekking-tours/off-the-beaten-track-2-day/

Overview map of SaPa

Despite the attendance for the tour was only myself with the tour guide ‘Laju Su’, as soon as I arrived at the Sapa O’Chau office I found out that one more attendee signed up at last minute which was a pleasant news for my pockets since the actual price was decreased of almost 50%, in addition to that, as a nice coincidence the other participant was an Italian compatriot woman called ‘Elena’, I never imagined to be trekking with a woman solo traveler as a companion however we all know that at this world there are also brave women up for such an amazing trekking 🙂

As first, we were brought by car to the starting point of our trekking which was the Ta Phin village, while starting the hike in the village some local ladies approached us by asking to buy their hand-made hats, however since we were keen to enjoy the nature we did not buy any, perhaps on a next time!

As we approached the first uphill we enjoyed the first amazing landscape view with rice field terraces and a village nearby as shown above, and soon we had to deal with a broken path, probably caused by a natural disaster, fortunately there were two bulldozers in action which tried to pave and clear the broken path in front of us, however we had to carefully watch our steps, see image below:

Blocked trail

the more we trekked uphill the more we got into the a secluded valley, on the way we met few women as farmers who were carrying vegetables and few locals riding a motorbike through the path.

After three and half hour of trekking we reached the first remote village named Phin Ho, we stopped at a farm house where our clever tour guide managed to prepare for us two maxi-sandwiches (just look at it below), in addition to that, we noticed that the owner of the house was chilling out by smoking some herbs by using a big bamboo pipe which was really funny for me as a non-smoker guy 😀

After our lunch break, we resumed our trekking by getting a bit to the bottom of the deep valley, the scenery on the way down was more and more breathtaking and at one peak viewpoint we decided to take one more break with a short nap. Here, I caught the chance to record such a video of such amazing surrounding scenery, just watch it below!

Deep valley on the way to Suoi Thau village

After our chilling break we continued on the trail to Ta Giang Phing village (final destination on the second day) and here we approached the deepest point of the green valley:

We got to cross two bridges, the first one was a bit challenging because rope-less, only one person at once could traverse it to avoid the risk of collapsing, moreover the frame was made by bamboo pipes not fixed but shaking instead! Having had similar challenges in the past in the first moment I believed I could make it with hassle-free, however my first approach was not such good one: I approached it by putting down my feet almost straight in-line on the pipes, as a result my body balance was getting compromised, the tour guide realized it and invited me to reverse myself and step back, the spring of nervousness tripped out :-O although the guide wanted to convince me to get down by the small channel and then up, I stayed focused on the bridge challenge by letting the Italian girl to go first, I just observed her relaxed approach and as she crossed it, I acted accordingly by counterbalancing the second half of my body and angling my feed to keep safe my balance on the shaking bamboo pipes, even slow, the challenge was accomplished with no need to get down by the channel 🙂 Safety is never enough when dealing with the wild nature ;-D

After that, we got to hike farther until we end up crossing a proper safe pedestrian bridge.

After one more hours, we approached our target destination of the first day
Soi Thau village. Here we observed such an amazing rural life of the local people taking care of their goats and buffaloes as well as people who were building up a brand-new house.

That was the beginning of the destination village of Suoi Thau, we had to trek up farther over a hill to reach our home stay, the trail was aggressively steep up to the hill with some spread-ed mud around, I started feeling a bit powerless, nevertheless we achieved our day target by arriving there around 4:30pm, where we chilled-out at the home stay and we were provided with such a proper delicious Vietnamese BIO-food 🙂

Our first trekking day was nicely over, all we needed was just a good dinner and a sound sleep what we got.

A new post will follow soon by covering the 2nd day of trekking. GoPro movie session is now available at the video section of my blog: https://theblogofeggiamp.com/video-posts/

Flickr images powered by Sony alpha 6000 are availabe at my Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/giuseppegiampino/

Any remark is warmly welcomed 😉

Giuseppe

Banská Štiavnica: UNESCO world heritage in the hearth of Slovakia.

Dear explorers,

after such a long time spent finally I am here to talk about something new and different!

One week me and my girlfriend, despite being very warm, made the decision of driving from Bratislava to the central region of Slovakia denominated Banskobystrický kraj  for a cultural summer weekend, we stayed over Friday and Saturday nights since our research came to tell us that it was 100% worthy to do so!

For such a purpose we chose to stay at a holiday apartment  with garden on a small hill, the panorama view was simply nice because we could see by distance the scenery of the hilly landscape as shown below:

We drew two separated plans, one for Saturday and one for Sunday because having the considered the type of attractions and the locations they involved us a different mind-set, therefore on Saturday we went for visiting the outdoor attractions as followed:

  1. Kalvaria chapel
  2. Banská Štiavnica downtown
  3. Banská Štiavnica in miniature exposition
  4. Banská Štiavnica castle with city walls

The first attraction is a recently restored baroque-style chapel which before ten years ago was abandoned,  it is situated on the top of a small hill and the restoration works took place from 2008 and were completed on 2016, it was supported by some private funds issued by the VUB Bank institution, it looks like a small architectural jewel which must really be visited to realize how nicely they made it, moreover, if you are with a girlfriend here you have a great chance to enjoy a romantic morning hiking 🙂 you just need max. 90 minutes, therefore you can’t miss it out!

Some pictures below could be impressive to figure out how the spot it is:

The second one is the historical town of Banská Štiavnica which nowadays has become very popular and crowded, you can even find two Italian fashion boutiques!

Having visited it earlier on 2008 I can compare the difference and I can say that at that time was a peaceful town, however long time is spent since then and everything, like everywhere in Europe, is to be properly arranged for the ‘visitors’. If you like to have  some small shopping then the market will not disappoint you.

Here below, few pictures are shown:

The third one is purely an indoor exposition of Banská Štiavnica and the nearby villages in miniature, it is something quite recent, it is worthy to be visited for 1.50€ of entrance fee, here below you there are two pictures:

The fourth one is the city castle with high walls, this castle even not that impressive has an outdoor courtyard and some sub-levels indoor rooms arranged for punishing some war prisoners, perhaps it might look scary at your eyes, however that was how it worked in our ancient world. Overall, it is worthy to visit if you are in Banská Štiavnica for the 1st time and it takes maximum one hour for visiting it.

Finally, the only Sunday plan was to visit a manor house situated in Svätý Antonin Slovak is commonly defined as Kaštieľ  that’s to say a huge noble palace which was built under the Austro-Hungaric empire and numerous rich family members lived in there over the past centuries. My personal feeling was to visit a Schönbrunn Palace in miniature,  and I am not much in for visiting such palaces in which the luxuriousness is emphasized, however it is a part of the European history and we can not ignore it. Just I am not going to mention details on it but instead I will show you some pictures of it:

In conclusion, the summer trip itself had a good achievement as a combination of cultural enrichment with some soft hiking activity, it was useful to re-visit what the history was and what fabulous left over the past centuries, therefore if over the summer you are a bit bored of dealing always with just swimming or just hiking through the nature you may find a great compromise with such a trip, just go for it!

If any advice do not hesitate to contact me or just leave a comment!

Giuseppe

MALANG: not only volcanoes but also waterfalls and hot-springs.

Dear explorers,

Malang is the name of the town as well as the region which is situated in the hearth of east Java land, this region like Banyuwangi  offers a variety of nature from volcanoes to plenty of waterfalls as well as hot-springs, most of them are not known by any foreign traveler  (I might have been the first brave guy getting there :-D).

Briefly, I summarize for you three key outdoor attractions which worth trip to this region:

  1. Night-Morning hiking trip to Bromo National park
  2. Waterfalls: Coban Putri , Coban Rais , Coban Talun and Coban Rondo
  3. Cangar (Hot-springs).

I personally made the decision to start the challenge with the touristy night-morning hiking to Bromo volcano, here you have two choices to get there:

  1. Rent a proper off-road motor-cycle
  2. Book a basic package tour through your accommodation provider

I went for the second option since I just arrived in Malang exhausted after a not-sleeping night spent on the train I found no time to look straightaway for a motorbike. What I could recommend is that if you want to ride a motorbike to Bromo, get a motorbike with off-road tires and be with a travel companion; secondly, ride very carefully especially at night-time since you will get to ride through a steep and hilly narrow road, moreover you will be passing through a Savanna,  the scenery will look like a desert at your eyes, once you arrive at the top viewpoint it will be very tricky to park your motorbike because of thousands of visitor will be getting there!

Even Bromo is very popular, it is worthy to go for it and practice your photo-shooting skills!  Look at the pictures and a video below:

After the night-morning challenge at Bromo national park, I was back in Malang and I just hang around some noodles restaurant and cafeterias to chill-out and get ready for the next adventures.

The following day as a first thing I decided to rent a motorbike from a rental point which was recommended by a local CS guy Makki, here below you have the google-link:            https://g.co/kgs/iCHqQV

The name of the lady owner is Ibu Larasati  and her whatsapp contact is +62 822-4040-1929 , she was kind as well as funny, since I ran a bit late with the time she came to my accommodation to deliver the motorbike, she greeted me with a warm hand-shake and then asked me for a picture with her (as usual in Indonesia) to cunningly promote her local business whose the link is mentioned below:

(for more details just check out https://wuzz-rental-motor-malang.business.site/ )

The motorbike itself was a brand-new Yamaha Aerox 150cc which was comfortable and powerful powerful to deal with the hills.

When I was all set, I started off the waterfalls mission which I listed before, in my opinion the most challenging one was Coban Rais because the path was really wild with rocks and flowing water streams in-between, so because all of that, a good practice would be to hike through the path with bare feet as most of Indonesian people do otherwise if you are picky with the waterproof shoes then you will get water inside and the result for your feet will be a way worse! So if you are not picky like me, just go by bare feet 🙂

The second thing was that in here I was just the only European alien, all the others were either locals or few guys from Singapore, when I reached the bottom of the waterfalls to record the scenery, some members of a numerous family approached me for few group-photos, YES, still here the alien is a news for them!

Finally, I dedicated the last half-day to Coban Talun and the Cangar hot-springs, none of those places were touristically touched, apparently only Bromo attracts the burden of foreigners and locals from Jakarta who come there for the weekend only for that purpose. I am not going to drill down into many details on those attractions, just you need to experience it personally, however here below you can check out few pictures taken by my Sony alpha 6000 camera:

In conclusion, spending in Malang three and half days is the minimum you could stay, it would be worthy to spend there even five days because I hadn’t much time to check for some spots in the town of Malang suggested by Ibu Larasati such as Kampung Warna which is a kind of street artist.

A special thank to Ibu, Makki and Iik who assisted me as local advisers and I wish I will travel there back soon in the future!

Feel free to comment and/or just ask for informations!

Giuseppe

FLORES motorbike tour: the conservative face of Indonesia with surprising people on the way.

Dear travelers,
after being back from quite some time spent in Indonesia, now it is time to provide you with an overview of my motorbike tour on East Nusa Tenggara commonly known as Flores. So far, Having explored in Indonesia Java, Bali and Flores, I venture to say that Flores compared to the others two is still conservative:

There is not yet a properly-developed tourist infrastructure, apart from Labuan Bajo, over the entire land, out of twelve spots checked out I found only two touristy-appealing sites: Bajawa and Moni (which is the town close to the Kelimutu crater). All the rest are mostly old-fashion villages or just not-westernized small town.

As an organized European traveler, before my journey came I drew a daft itinerary plan of the places I would have explored by riding a motorbike:

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Yamaha N-max scooter by FloresMotorbike

When in Flores, the rental of a (proper) motorbike is a MUST because of the following reasons:

  1. There is no public transportation network (only some mini-van by tour agents)
  2. If you like to challenge yourself with the sense-of-discovering then you have no other way then just getting a motorbike.

As you noticed above my drawn plan consisted of eleven days and I nicely fit it by including even an extra stop at Mbay, naturally depending on your time you can plan it longer and juicier, however generally speaking I would say that eleven days is a proper time to discover what great Flores offers to the motor bikers.

I am not going to drill down into many details because those are countless then especially when considering every single happening day after day, however every day was a discover of something new, as first when in the early morning (around 7:30am) I started riding the motorbike I felt very keen to say a warm ‘Hello!’ by raising the hand to almost everybody as I crossed on the road either on the feet or just riding on the opposite way, their common spontaneous reaction was a loud ‘Hello Misteeer!!!’, yes ‘Mister’ as a sign of a respectful welcome to the alien in Flores 🙂 I would say roughly the 90% of locals, even the kids, had such an energetic reaction (imagine yourselves doing the same warm salutation in Europe…) and in some cases they were even intimating me to stop for chatting with them and perhaps be offered with a baked green banana and a Kopi (coffee) as shown below:

One day being curious of a uphill concrete surface road I decided to ride up there to see what I would have discovered and well guess what?

It was a primary school building, moreover the pupils at that moment were doing some outdoor activities, they all came close to me as I was on the motorbike and naturally asked me for pictures “Photo photooo“, then also the teachers and the headmaster realized me and also they want photos with me, look at below picture to get impressed with an idea:

Naturally as usual in here I was offered with a coffee and then one lady wanted to get my Facebook contact, even the purpose was not clear to me I had nothing against that, once I left the school I thought that I could even be hosted by her so I didn’t think twice to talk to her and ask for hospitality, then she agreed with her husband to host me for one night as I was on my long way back to Labuan Bajo.

It was a great chance, even better than staying at a known traditional village, to get deeply involved on their rural village life out the ‘comfort zone’. Both wife and husband work as teachers part-time, so the 2nd half of the day they just enjoy their simple life characterized by social meetings with their neighbours which most of them don’t even have a conventional job, instead their profession is to take care of their cultivation of coffee, green vegetables and their chickens, one of their neighbors they also produce a strong alcoholic drink which I personally tried and it was even stronger than a shot of whisky!!!

Just a social consideration, the couple who hosted me told that everyone in the village was staring me because of my height above the (Indonesian) average, my long-pointing nose and the colour of my skin which sounded funny to me since most of us Europeans consider the South-east Asian people to be exotic 😀

Here below I have attached few pictures of my stay at a ordinary Flores village:

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In conclusion, If I had not been enough curious I would have never get into such a situation, however life itself means a lot, we can’t always just be focused on itineraries advertised by Google maps and similars. I can proudly affirm that I got a very meaningful life lesson from the motorbike tour in Flores, especially when I consider that they don’t care at all about how many belongings they live with, the consumerism is still a way far from their habits, moreover they are truly tolerant and humble regardless the skin and the religion.

Having said that, I would encourage anybody of you to try such a life experience, if you believe that a simple lifestyle is possible at this world!

Any remarks and concerns are warmly welcomed!

PS: special thank to Enu and Chen for the generous Coffee bag roasted on your village!

Eggiamp

JAKARTA: the 50 shades of a chaotic megalopolis

Hello to everybody!

After so long time of non-posting finally I am here back to bring a real-time post about the beginning approach of my long journey being spent in Indonesia.

Since last time was only focused on Bali which is not that meaningful this time will likely be a proper challenging Mission Indonesia.

Being here one day, I can not judge much, however I will draw your attention on the fact that the maximum length as a tourist in the Country is of 30 days, if have planned to stay longer just be aware of the fact that you will have to require the extension of your visa, perhaps this reference may be helpful for your future reference:

https://stingynomads.com/indonesian-visa-on-arrival/http://balifloatingleaf.com/extend-visa-bali/

That was my case, I knew I would have stayed longer than thirty days, however I was not aware that the limit was of only 30 days so I got to pay the fee of about 35$.

Coming to Jakarta, the first impression is that the city itself appears to be a mixture of poverty and richness which are twisted with each other, e.g. cab drivers sleeping in their own cabs, homeless people everywhere sleeping on the benches and modern shopping centers spread-ed everywhere, perhaps I could notice by far similar things in Bangkok.

 

Ans yes here like in Thailand here there are electric pylons everywhere!

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What is enjoyable is the fact that here you have the choice to get a ride by scooter by using the GO-JEK application, just ensure to get an Indonesian card in order to set it up: you will benefit a lot out of it then especially if you are a backpacker! Just 0.5 € for a 3km-ride.

So after sorting out some hassle with my general journey plan then it was easy for me to hop from one attraction to another one and so on.

If you like to record great scenery I warmly recommend you to get to the ‘Monas’, which is the national monument with a huge wideness of green area all around, just pity that today as Easter there were hordes of people getting there so I gave it up to get to the top of the tower, it was too appealing 🙂

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Then I decided to jump into two more attractions which were:

  1. Jin De Yuan Buddhist temple
  2. Taman Suropati park

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Having said that, I am done with the short visit in Jakarta, and I will get ready to head to the next stop(s) for which I will soon post a new real-time article!

Every comment is welcomed!

Giuseppe

Koh Lipe: explorers, local residents and Thai gypsies community.

Once again I am here to talk about a South-East Asian society which is the Thai one, just this time it isn’t related to a volunteering action: after three years since last time, I decided to visit a new Thai island which is close to the border line with Malaysia. The island is Koh Lipe which is part of the Tarutato National Park:

Koh Lipe

The aim was to explore new breathtaking landscapes by hiking and snorkeling dive; for such a challenge I planned to stay on Koh Lipe for just two days and after that I would have kept travelling to Malaysia which is by far less touristy than Thailand is.

My approach to Koh Lipe was nothing like surprising as I previously traveled to other gorgeous Thai islands, however as I arrived on Koh Lipe, I was keen to start exploring around the walking streets, as first and usual thing I needed to withdraw some Thai-Bath money by catching a cash dispenser, I asked one Thai guy what the way to the “centre” was, then he offered me to give me a ride there by motorbike as a warm welcome, as first I thought that he’d have expected a tip from me, in fact he didn’t but still I found nice to provide him with a 50-฿ tip.

As a second thing, I needed to find an accommodation with modest claims since I don’t like to have everything super-planned: in the worst case scenario I’d have slept one night on the sand by sleeping bag which wouldn’t have been the end of the world 😉 However I succeeded in finding one, that took me less than an hour 🙂 It was SHANTI hostel with air-conditioned for 400฿ per night which was reasonable.

 

The walking streets on Koh Lipe are full  of restaurants, cafe, shops and some diving schools like in any other well-developed Thai island with the only difference that this island is much smaller and quiet if compared it to Koh Tao and Koh Phi Phi.

In addition to that, if you walk further to the sunrise beach you you’ll discover an area which is populated by local Thai nomads, these people typically live in rustily-furnished shelters and conducts a simple and cheerful life-style, obviously as a curios photographer I didn’t renounce in stumbling into their village, I know they wouldn’t have ripped me off  by any means 😀 but instead they appeared to be pleased by my photo-visit, moreover they started to play some random folklore music which made everyone in a cheerful mood as shown in the short movie below:

As I kept walking through their village I noticed they were even provided with a small bazar for food and beverages which was owned by themselves, and not far from their village there were the shelter of most of Thai and non-Thai residents of the island, not only do the gypsies live in such a simple conditions but also all the rest of residents do, including the Italian owner of SHANTI hostel, since the island life doesn’t involve them to live with any formal clothes.

 

Further to that, on Koh Lipe unlike other Thai islands, only residents are provided with motorbikes, I mean that nobody rents motorbike to the visitors since the roads are narrow and with no asfalt which makes pretty much sense because it is part of the Tarutato National Marine park; basically they want to protect the natural park from the any source of pollution.

To sum it up, although I expected Koh Lipe to be busy like Koh Phi Phi is, in fact it wasn’t like that, at least on November, besides that, here there no disco-clubs attracting bunches of youngsters who are willing to get drunk and that’s all 😀 Here the environment is chilling and relaxing which conveys the right harmony in the evening, then especially when you you want to enjoy a tasty sea-food dinner and a chill-out just after that, perhaps with a healthy hot herbal tea with butterfly pea as shown below 😉

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One questionable point is: having considered how the Thai gypsies and all the local residents live, are we Europeans really sure that our happiness and fulfillment depends on how many gadgets and belongings we have on our hands?

Or are there any other key-factors which determine our fulfillment and joy of life?

Having said that, I will leave it up to you to figure out what make you feel happy, and base on that we can identify our room for improvement for our life-style.

I wish you all a Happy and Joyful Christmas day! 🙂

Everybody is warmly welcomed to comment and make suggestions on it!

Giuseppe