Chao Lao Beach: the hidden spot surrounded by pink rocks

Dear readers,

back to December 2021, I had the opportunity to come back to Thailand to visit some new secluded areas. My focus was on the eastern coast toward Cambodia, after having visited Pattaya and Rayong, I decided (as always) to get out of the ‘comfort zone’ and I headed to Chao Lao beach which is situated in the province of Chanthaburi, you can see the snapshot of the map below:

Overview map above

Unlike the very popular Pattaya city, this is a village where there are lot’s of affordable SPA resorts and now being the post-pandemic time there are very few foreigners (Thai people call them ‘farangs’) getting to this area. I stayed over three days and I did a deep exploration of the surrounding nature. The beach itself is really quiet, cleaned and like the old days, you can have a coconut juice or a lemonade while enjoying the beach, the surrounding sea is shallow which is ideal for families with kids. It is approximately four hours of driving or riding from Bangkok.

The second day that I was there, I decided to rent a motorbike for a further exploration to the very south of peninsula, I entered a national park by paying 200Baths, I parked the bike and I continued hiking to the Pink Stone spot. (See the map below)

The hiking itself is not so difficult and it takes max. half an hour, just you need to have proper shoes or hiking sandals to be safe, and obviously December falls on the dry season so just be prepared to sweat 🙂

Here below there few pictures of the Pink Stone spot:

The most surprising thing of this attraction is a shelter which is built by green glass bottles, I ventured to visited it inside and it looks weird and perhaps a bit scary if you get there at night! If you wish to learn more about the mysterious shelter, I have made a video-reportage by my action camera in which I lively visited it inside 🙂 Here below I have embedded the YouTube video:

Other than this intriguing shelter, I show you few pictures about the sandy beach of Chao Lao:

Usually, during the morning the sea water laps against part of the beach, however in the afternoon the sea water deflects further out to sea and the beach widens out: the last two pictures were taken in the morning time whereas all the others were taken in the afternoon, the difference is clearly visible 🙂

All in all, Chao Lao is a great compromise between having a rest away from the ‘city-life’ and a good opportunity for a soft-hiking, my guess it is ideal for family with kids and for couples on a romantic gateway. The only cons you may experience is that (if you are picky with the food) here you can’t get more than seafood, and last but not least be careful where you go to eat seafood and what you eat, some BBQ seafood may look tasty but then it might be painy to digest it, that was my case one evening: I got intoxicated by some sea snails which I guess were not properly washed out.

That being said, enjoy your experience in Chao Lao beach!

PLAYA ESCONDIDA: a secluded and almost inaccessible beach of Dominican Republic

Dear readers,

I am just back from having discovered Dominican Republic with its pros and cons: the first approach was very tough especially when it comes to dealing with the public safety and cleanliness. Before starting my tour I decided to rent a vehicle instead (I usually rent a motorbike), however this time nobody in the capital city Santo Domingo rented one due to the high volume of daily road accidents so I gave it up. One of the stops in my itinerary was Playa Escondida which means Hidden beach. This beach is situated approximately 3.4km away from the municipality of Las Terrenas.

There are theoretically three ways to get to Playa Escondida:

  1. By trekking through a wooded jungle trail with a muddy swamp in-between (the hardest and dangerous one)
  2. By trekking around the hilly landscape from a gate (if it’s open)
  3. By a boat from Las Terrenas beach on the other side (the safe way)

On top of that, my recommendation is to get as close as the Sailing Club which I highlighted in the snapshot of the map below. Here you can park your car or motorbike since by the area with limited access is not allowed to park.

Because I am a stubborn I went for the hardest choice and while I was starting to figure out how to get through, I met a Czech guy on the way (Martin) with a female friend, they were trying to figuring out and achieve the same goal as I was, after a short introduction we spontaneously took the challenge together, and here we run in to the first incognita:

After walking up to calle Loma Bonita we end up at VILLA CACIQUE OCEAN VIEW with a closed gate and we asked ourselves: what now?

We thought that the beach was only privately accessible from the villa and therefore we tried to talk to some rangers working at the Villa, they said that there was no access and the only way to get there is to override a boundary wall, hike down through the bushes and get through a muddy swamp. The Czech guy and I were eager to start off whereas the female fiend of his NOT. That said one of the rangers offered to us his help by cutting off some bushes on the way, I started hiking down until we get at the edge of the swamp and here the big fun came: the swamp was like a 10-metres gap between the wonderful beach and the jungle, however we couldn’t hike by any means straight through because we would have dived down at the first badass muddy watered spot.

I happened to put my left foot in such a invisible muddy spot and it was very scary since I had to try hard to release it, fortunately the ranger was nearby and rescued me immediately with his hand.

Here below there is a picture of the high bushes very close to the swamps

Meanwhile the Czech guy came down to the edge of the swamp with my backpack 🙂 We gave him the full awareness of the big danger to overcome in-between, to make it short we managed to find out a convoluted zig-zag path to minimize the big risk of diving down with the legs, it took us nearly one hour but it was truly rewarding! The rangers were with us and let us enjoy the most of it by cutting two coconuts from the palm tree so that we could have more liquids in our roaring stomachs 😀

Here below a stunning scenery of Playa Escondida and myself captured drinking the coconut:

While being on the beach I took the advantage of having some squat exercise to support the leg muscles, this is an exercise which I recommend it to everybody adult like me to do it on daily basis.

To sum it up, when you lie the beach you may be feeling in a small paradise which is the ideal to be there for a romantic and exotic day with a girlfriend 🙂 I strongly recommend of getting there by boat, or if you really have to hike, never go alone, always keep in mind that you can not be the best expert of the local nature :O Hike through the swamps is an hellish experience, let’s be wise with our life, so just have ranger with you who knows how it is the situation. Last but not least, I did it during the beginning of the dry season, during the wet season it would be a sort of mission IMPOSSIBLE to get across. For your reference the dry season in Dominican Republic is usually from November through March.

Having said that, enjoy the trip with precautions!

Giuseppe

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

BEING A WORLD EXPLORER DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC TIME

Dear fellow readers,

most of us are aware of the fact that the pandemic spreading the coronavirus prevented us from travelling around the globe indefinitely 😦

However, few of us were lucky enough to afford to travel and stay safely until a certain point, this was my case and I am glad to share with you some relevant facts about what went on while exploring another part of the world: I traveled for a period of twenty days from 26th of February through 17th of March to South-East Asia, I explored Cambodia and Thailand, being an Italian living abroad but still holding an Italian passport it was not an easy challenge:

I was originally supposed to travel to Cambodia and then to Vietnam, by the time I started travelling all the way from Europe to Cambodia everything was smooth with no hassles, despite the media already on February started getting us warned and scared about the growing cases globally, for instance at Vienna airport nobody checked the temperature of the boarding passenger, only when I approached Bangkok airport they checked my temperature before transferring to another gate to fly to my final destination, in addition, I noticed that at Bangkok airport they provided everywhere spare hand-sanitizer gel.

Generally speaking, after entering Cambodia most of people appeared to be very-relaxed like they did not want to care much about precautions for coronavirus, the clerk of the villa resort where I stayed in Siem Reap told me that there were no (recorded) cases in the region, however if you went to some pharmacies you could buy all the precautions you needed e.g. antibacterial hand gel and masks with filter.

This situation gave me lot’s of motivation to quietly continue on my trip, however this does not mean that we do not have to care about hygiene and so on, we MUST: Roads are usually dusty with red sands aside and badly-surfaced, so when you trip around either by a tour agent or on your own by (motor-)bike you will inevitably get dirty skin, I recall that I treated my hands with the antibacterial six times a day, dry hot weather and dust are terrible, look at the pictures below:

The most extreme scenarios I ever experienced were in Sihanoukville region: the city is completely being rebuilt with constructions, water pipes, road infrastructure and so on all at the same time with no safety rules, here the hygiene was an extreme challenge, I count that I disinfected my hands ten times per day for not talking about that I got to wash urgently my nose masks and even my backpack which became from blue to black colour!! This is just a not-to-go place for the time being.

Other than that, Cambodia has reported only 103 cases so far, it is difficult to argue on it, perhaps many factors like weather might leverage the spreading of the viruses, who knows? In any case you can keep following up the cases on this link: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

After seven days spent in Cambodia, I got ready and keen to fly to Vietnam, I had a scheduled flight early in the morning from Phnom Penh airport, but here a rocking surprise came out:

Being an Italian traveler with Italian passport I was denied at the check-in counter to fly to Vietnam, the reason for that? Vietnamese government enforced new restrictions for the italians just two days before my flight (3rd of March), no reason was worth to persuade them that I am an italian resident in another European Country, so I had to re-think my travel plans for the other 13 days. I would suggest you the following basic approach

  1. What do we want to do next?
  2. Where do we want to go next?
  3. How to manage it with some improvisation? 🙂

Even if a badass happened, it is a valuable experience to take it with energy to move on! Despite the clerk at the check-in was not so kind they still gave me a hint by suggesting me to stay and enjoy Cambodia longer, so I sat on a bench and picked-up my laptop, I started doing my own research and I gave myself an answer about What and Where, the outcome was Thailand, indeed it turned out to be a wise choice since any other Country few days later started to close the borders for the Italians (Thailand included), at least I could catch the final vector of the returning flight back to Europe, also the travelling life got simplified!

Now you may be asking how I managed it:

Being provided with a laptop and a smartphone with local SIM mobile data, I checked forthcoming departures to Bangkok and I caught an Air Asia flight to Bangkok which was just three hours upfront the current time, I just booked and paid for it, since I had time I could afford to make a research about where to go and what to visit since Thailand was not a new Country for me, this made me to decide to explore the North Thailand which is just a way less touristy than in the south and characterized by some national parks with some jungle trails to go for. Look at the pictures below:

Thailand itself is nowadays a well-developed country, in every public place they always provide you with hand-wash gel, they seemed to me to be more picky than any European country at least in the urbanized areas, when it comes to the life of people in the rural village they feel safe by doing their own life and as opposite they felt scared as they saw some exploring foreigner hiking through, one tour guide said that they think we could spread them COVID-19 , so all we did with some of them not friendly was just keeping some distance as a sign of respect, however nobody of us was not allowed to say them ‘hi‘ or better ‘S̄wạs̄dī‘ in Thai!

All in all, this is a life experience that I strongly suggest go for it, cancel your time off and go back to your ordinary country is the very last thing you should do, in these circumstances would have been a huge mistake which only could get you a way more frustrated, so never give up as long as you have a leeway to adjust your plans but let’s be responsible with the hygiene in this time! Finally, try to improvise some situations when ‘shit happens’ 🙂

Feel free to share your own experience!

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 😉

20171120_215045

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

ICELAND: Golden circle vs wild nature of the long Icelandic perimeter

It was the year 2011 when I and my Italian friend Walter made the decision to go for the amazing wild nature challenge in Iceland, even though my friend had in mind to travel somewhere in Asia, I felt I wanted to complete my geographical overview of the Scandinavian Europe, so as soon as I proposed him such an amazing Country he got soon convinced and excited without thinking twice since neither him nor me had never explored Iceland.

After doing some research, we first figured out that the most comfortable as well as not-so-touristy month would have been June, so we didn’t hesitate to book our flight tickets; as a second thing, we decided to rent a car with which we benefited a lot since we wanted to explore the nature along all the entire perimeter of Iceland by starting from Reykjavik and by heading first through the south and then to the north like a counterclockwise. When our journey time came close we found by a Couchsurfing group that an Indian traveler was by coincidence flying by the same air-line from Oslo as we did, so we met with him at Oslo airport and we all gave the chance to share our Icelandic experience all together, Yes, three is better than two!

Although the Golden Circle is well-known for its tourist attendance, it is still 100% worthy to be checked as a first approach to the wild Icelandic nature, it basically consists of six key-spots:

1. Thingvellir 2. Laugarvatn 3. Geysir 4. Gullfoss (waterfall) 5. Secret lagoon 6. Selfoss

Tengd mynd

As most of us know, Iceland is famous for the Geysers, Waterfalls, Lagoon and Hot Springs, like many people we couldn’t resist to the emotion of lively enjoy the eruption of a geyser, it was told us that these HOT spots regularly erupt approximately every four minutes: (a live video is available below)

Further to that, we hiked to the Gullfoss waterfalls: the scenery itself is breathtaking, just be aware that it is often hellish windy so be equipped with a proper wind-jacket or even better with a waterproof one (with cap), the wind is such strong that you’ll get pretty watered soon by the huge splashes of the waterfalls hitting the hiking path. Apart from that, all the way through was a great scenario just a pity that on that time I wasn’t yet provided with a proper camera, next time definitely it will!

 

Moving on the next day, here the greatest of Iceland comes: we planned out the route along all the perimeter by driving through the south first, we weren’t sure how far we’d have been able to go at the end of the day, however we managed to arrive in Egillstadir around 10pm so we decided to sleep out overnight and the day after drive further through the north side. Here below there’s a summary of the key-stops we took through the south way:

  1. Selfoss
  2. Skogafoss (waterfalls)
  3. Anonymous spot with cliffs and high-waves sea with grey sand
  4. Vik
  5. Jökulsárlón (Icebergs)
  6. Egillstadir  

We started our trip at 10am, considering that the 3rd spot is pretty hidden and so we had to look for it, I’d say we had checked enough spots over the day 🙂

I will be focused from the 3rd place on: the purpose behind such an anonymous place was that we wanted to record some Puffins as we were told that there are many of them on the part of the coast which faces the small Vestmannaeyjar island, unfortunately we had no luck in catching one, probably wrong spot or wrong moment, who knows? 🙂 The only sure thing was that the wind was  such overwhelming that we had to open the car doors by strongly holding those by hand! We did struggle a lot in hiking through a cobbled path to the cliffs but we made it and we survived!

 

Of course we weren’t enough satisfied so we kept driving further to Jökulsárlón by stopping in Vik for a re-cognitive pause, the first signs of tiredness were coming up but nevertheless I kept the lead of the steering wheel and even slowly we arrived at our 4th stop 🙂 If the average temperature in the Icelandic country-side is +12°C over June, at Jökulsárlón is +2°C or less, so don’t be surprised!

 

After that, despite getting more and more tired we could never resist to stop by at some particular spots and moreover the roads in Iceland have narrow lanes and any wandering wild animal can suddenly cross the road at any moment, as a result of that, we didn’t manage to make more than 70km per hour, here the explanation why we arrived at Egillstadir around 10:30pm which actually was the worst time since every food bazar even the ones at the petrol stations were closed but still we had some food and drinks and we could re-fill the tank of the car by self-service. Our questionable point was: where to sleep?  Here our possible choices:

  1. Just in the car
  2. Outside with the sleeping bags
  3. By randomly asking somebody to be accommodated

Apart from us, nobody was around, so we felt like all we could do was either to ring some bells at the Icelandic people houses or just sleep in the car which we actually did! Our next day started very early, since we could not sleep properly we took up driving at 2:00am and we checked out the following itineraries of the Northern Iceland:

1. Myvatn

2. Akureyri

3. Glaumbauer museum

4. Kattarhryggur                                                                                                                                    

I can say that Myvatn is the least touched natural attraction, it was just a pity that by the time we checked it we were still not recovered by our tiredness but instead we had to stop again and keep sleeping what actually we did.

Finally, after three more hours of sleeping we were in a shape to enjoy the next, we drove to Akureyri where we stop for having a pleasant coffee with some sweets and walk around. I’m not going to drill down into many details about this small nice town, all I recommend you is to have a chilling visit at the Botanic park which is worthy.

 

At the final stage of our perimeter tour on the way to the North-west we realized a farm house with turf houses in which there is the Glaumbauer museum, the main characteristic of this place is that over the summer you can sleep in one these houses and as for the museum itself it is just representation about the rusty style how the farm houses are equipped, just visit it!

Before getting close to Reykjavik our attention get caught by Kattarhryggur, here there’s hiking path to the crater a volcano, yes that’s right Iceland is a volcanic island, don’t forget that! Of course we hiked till the top of the crater which was impressing the contrasting panorama between it and the rest of fabulous surrounding nature!

 

In conclusion, the total perimeter of the Iceland is about 1300km assuming you mostly follow the road no.1, but of course you can make it even longer and juicier! So unless you are in a rush with the time and you have the freedom to escape for a while from the ordinary city-life, I’d strongly recommend to plan your journey to Iceland much longer than just one week (as we did), two weeks at least, but ideally one month! Both Southern and Northern Iceland are  very demanding,  we just regretted of not having had much time to be dedicated.

Naturally, if you’re going there for a travel expedition then that’s another brilliant story!

Enjoy your future Icelandic trip!

Every comment and remark is warmly welcomed!

Bali: a day spent exploring the wild nature with a local traveler

One day during my stay in Bali of my 2017-Journey, I had a chance to meet with a local Indonesian traveler who she was willing to share a trip to some amazing waterfalls as well as not touristy, soon she identified three waterfalls situated in three different locations: Gitgit , Alang-alang and Tukad Cepung.

Considering the trip distance to reach those waterfalls, we chose to go for Tukad Cepung as the most feasible to reach by riding a motorbike from Ubud.

Despite early in the morning there were some rain-spots we managed to start the trip just after 10 o’clock, the weather was kind of humid but still not that bad. The more we were getting closer to the waterfalls the more I had the feeling that nobody was around which made me feel like in a paradise, indeed, the local female traveler had a good insight in choosing that!

As we arrived at the waterfall site, like in many other sites of Bali, there was a small Hindu temple, even it was not a touristy-appealing site still we got to pay for an entrance fee which if compared to any other touristy attraction was far less cheaper (about 0.70€), moreover, here unlike many other (touristy) sites the price was equal for everybody since normally in Indonesia if you are a foreign visitor you’re supposed to pay more for the entrance ticket, so at Tukad Cepung such a rule did not apply, no matter if you are Indonesian or foreign 🙂

Once we passed the entrance point, I could straightaway notice all the surrounding breath-taking landscape with such vivid vegetation as shown in the pictures slide below:

 

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The weather even cloudy was great enough to give us a gorgeous panorama and practice in taking plenty of proper pictures, the hiking path at some points was a bit steep but still Okay as long as you’re a bit experienced. When we came close to the waterfall spot at the bottom it was like we got in to a semi-gloomy jungle as shown below, there were some big stones spreaded everywhere and the water was flowing through, obviously as a picky European traveler I was equipped with GORE-TEX hiking shoes in order to avoid any issue but still the level of the water was high enough to get the water inside the shoes 😀 But it was okay, just a minor issue 🙂 That’s the wild nature! As opposite, my trip mate just wore a pair of flick-flock sandals for her feet like many Indonesian people do.

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At the bottom level we walked a bit further and after turning round a corner we finally arrived at the waterfall. I couldn’t wait to practice my photo-shooting skills by carefully recording the water falling down so that was a great chance to do so!

 

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You might have the feeling of being inside a cave but instead you are just inside a wetty and gloomy jungle 😉 When we took all the way around back to the top point, I observed that there was a proper canalized water stream, we all know that the water is precious good for all the living beings so we don’t want to waste it pointlessly even Bali is well-known for its hard rainy season.

 

In conclusion, the trip to Tukad Cepung is 100% worthy if you are sick and tired of checking Hindu temples, Balinese coffee makers and so on; it is really an alternative to any seaside or mountain landscape if you want to stand out of the touristy crowd as well as practicing your hiking and photo-shooting skills!

Naturally, it is only up to us to decide what is suitable for, however I venture to say that life is nice only if we know how to enjoy it!

I hope to have impressed you all with a proper idea on what great you may find out when travelling to Bali.

Every comment is welcomed!

A volunteering day among eastern Malaysia poor villages

One day during my journey spent in Malaysia, a local friend who I had just met one day before proposed me to join him for a volunteering activity which consisted of distributing boxes of freshly-prepared food to the poor families residing in Batu Rakit village, which is situated in the region of Terengganu.

I didn’t think twice about joining him, and give my contribution rather than just behaving as a standard European traveler. Just I firmly believed that would surely have been a meaningful experience which would have helped me in closely understanding how those families conduct a simple lifestyle.

As we approached the village, the very first thing I was surprised about was that even the poorest family could afford a motorbike or a car at least.

I asked my friend Abdullah “Is that possible that such poor families own a car?” His answer was: “Don’t be surprised, here even the poorest family has a car because Malaysian cars are pretty inexpensive to be maintained, they just struggle a lot in getting proper food and drinks.”

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The more we were approaching their poor houses the more I realized that in fact their own houses were not well-maintained at all, hygienic conditions were rather poor as well as the inside equipment. However, I could notice that most of families had two or more children who were always smile-looking, what I understood was that their spontaneous smile represented the main hope for each family, they smile because they live outdoor with few gadgets and they are being raised with the idea that happiness is not given by any belongings, but instead small things make them happy which actually was the case whenever I gave them few boxes of food, YES, by volunteering I was supporting their hope as well as the children’s smile.

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To sum it up, the outcome was that I felt I did not waste my time at all but instead I discovered that still exists a genuine society which is not contaminated by any spreaded self-centeredness; it is only up to us decide what kind of person we want to be then especially when we act as travelers, the only questionable point is: are we really sure that our over-developed society is giving us all what we need?

Now it is up to us to figure out what on our society we can improve, nothing in the Earth is impossible, there’s always room for improvement!

PS: if you wish to look more pictures about the poor villages, check out my Flickr photo-album at the link below:

https://flic.kr/s/aHskZS71sa

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Spontaneous challenges of a passionate traveler exploring a genuine world.

Hello!  My name is Giuseppe Emanuele Giampino and I am a strongly passionate traveler and photographer who wants to discover and record the greatest of the amazing nature offered by our globe.

Since I am fashioned with the sporty philosophy of the journey, I have made the decision of giving my contribution by sharing with you my grown expertise based on my travel background.

So far, I have traveled mostly in Europe and Asia where I have discovered such amazing attractions like the waterfalls shown in the picture below! 

My mission is to gather and organize all of my past and present travel experiences in order to convey you inspiration and enthusiasm in your travels!

Doi Inthanon national park