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Old 08-29-2013, 08:09 AM   #241
slide
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I' d say it was beyond weird. I guess Islam has a good deal of variety about itself from place to place. Try putting a statue like that girl in Saudi Arabia and see what happens.
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Old 09-13-2013, 06:20 AM   #242
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September 13, 2013 - We headed for Makassar and shared a cab with a British couple on the way to the hotel. He was severely handicapped, using crutches, which seemed to cause him a lot of grief. Surprisingly, they were on a trip around the world for a year, handicap be damned.


We arrived in Makassar and after we had a look around town for a or two day, we slowly started to realize that towns in Indonesia are not too appealing. Even the things that are touted in tourist guides are kind of "meh.." when you see them. At the hotel, we met a German couple and the woman was ill to the point of needing a hospital. Lo and behold, the next day we came down with the same thing and we were confined to our hotel in Makassar for the next week. Some days, we shuffled to a few nearby restaurants, but more often than not, we made due with some pastries and bread products from a chain called "Holland Bakery", right next to the hotel. After about six days of this, we decided to take a plane to Manado, in the north of Sulawesi, to do some snorkeling and diving and rest up a bit. Christina wanted to get a refresher course for her PADI as well.

Still half sick, we rented a motorcycle and rode around the Manado area for a few days, going inland and along the coast to discover what it was like. We went to a volcanic lake, which was mildly interesting.



Inland, we found a few drab towns, although one small place seemed to have an unnatural number of flower shops, I think we counted at least twenty.

Gas stations for motorcycles are everywhere. You can line up at the "real" gas station or buy it for a slight premium from the roadside vendors.



Manado in turn failed to impress, although we found a decent shopping mall where they served good coffee. But it's not the picture we had of Sulawesi, a mysterious place somewhere in Indonesia.

With Manado behind us, we arrived at Raja Laut, a medium fancy dive resort an hour's boat ride away on Bunaken island.



Our view from the huge wooden deck, either from the hammock or the comfy chairs, put a smile on our face.



Our plan was to stay here for a week, do some snorkeling, eat some really good food and move on to Sumatra to go see the orangutans. The snorkeling here is just amazing. Underwater pictures courtesy of Anniek Luijten.



Everywhere you look, there is something new.



Bunaken is a fairly challenging place. There are no real stores, but you can buy cigarettes, Coca Cola and chips, some soap and toothpaste from a number of people who have a "store". Everything else comes by boat from Manado. There is no police, doctor, hospital or pharmacy for a place with five thousand inhabitants.



Our plan to stay here for a week suffered from "scope creep", and on more than one occasion, we had the following conversation with our host at breakfast:

K: “Amedeo ..”
A: “Yes, Kevin?”
K: “If it’s ok with you, I think we’ll stay another day?”
A: “Of course”
K: “Where are we going diving today?”
A: “The dome reef, then the wreck … you can choose for the afternoon”

After our eleventh day here, Christina and I had a two minute conversation in which we basically voiced the same desires and concluded we were going to stay here till they kicked us out, fly to Kathmandu from Jakarta and forget about taking pictures of Orangutans.

And as I post this, I am laying in the hammock, listening to crickets and waiting for our call to dinner.
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Old 09-13-2013, 06:50 AM   #243
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Looks great. Nice b&w shot too.
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Old 09-13-2013, 12:50 PM   #244
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Sounds fantastic.
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Old 10-10-2013, 10:39 AM   #245
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October 10, 2013 - Our time had come at Raja Laut and after two weeks, we decided to peel ourselves out of our hammocks and pursue some different adventures. Since we'd decided the rest of Indonesia was out, we booked flights to Nepal. Christina is flying back home from Kathmandu after six months on the road and it's an easy hop over to Europe with Etihad Airlines, so I decided to move up my visit to my sister and my dad.

From Manado, we flew to Jakarta and onwards to Kathmandu. It's the third time for me here and Christina's first, so it was a lot of fun for me to show her around. We spent a good ten days in Kathmandu seeing a lot of the sites, really taking our time and going to back to places we liked and getting lost in various backstreets. I even had two pairs of jeans tailored made. What could go wrong, for $11 each?

One of my favorite places in Kathmandu is Boudhanath, a stupa surrounded by old buildings and small shops.



You can only appreciate the sheer size of the stupa and surrounding areas by walking around the lot for a few hours and ducking into the many side streets to observe the local goings on.



The next stop was Durbar Square in Kathmandu. It's so vast and diverse that countless books have been written on the interpretation of each temple and building. All you have to do is sit somewhere and watch the world go by here, it's the best way to enjoy this place.



We took position on one of the temples to enjoy the view.



Nothing speaks to the imagination more than burning bodies, so we paid a visit to Pashupatinath.



In earlier days, women who outlived their husbands were expected to commit suicide, or at least that's what we were told. It seems drifting downriver for a bit now suffices.





A shot from Patan's Durbar square.



Nepal is the ultimate hiking country. We'd planned to be here for a while and do a few hikes. The first hike was Langtang, nearby Kathmandu, although it took a good seven hours to get to the trailhead with a jeep which we shared with two other hikers from our hotel.

As far as hikes go, this trip was a bit of a bust. We spent seven days on the trail, in dense fog, and never saw a single peak, let alone some sunshine, except in the first few hours of day one. Before we even got there, we got stuck behind the public bus, which we were all too happy we didn't take. We heard lots of horror stories from other hikers, how the locals start screaming in fear on certain sections, with the bus swaying back and forth as it lumbers up impossibly narrow mountain passes. In the picture below, passengers are getting ready to pull the bus over a hill, which worked remarkably well.



One highlight from hiking up to Kanjin Gompa is that you come through Langtang, where they have an excellent cheese factory, bake their own bread and serve good coffee.



Aside from shooting a few locals and prayer flags in the fog, there was not much else to aim the camera at.





After this somewhat damp adventure we decided to decamp to Pokhara to see what sort of mischief we could get into there. Unfortunately, Christina injured her knee on the way down from Langtang, so we are laid up a bit in Pokhara for the moment. It's a good place to slow down.

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Old 10-10-2013, 01:39 PM   #246
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Old 11-04-2013, 09:25 PM   #247
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October 25, 2013 - Pokhara was unseasonably cold and wet, with barely any views during the days and showers in the afternoons. A lot of locals commented on the fact they could not recall worse weather during this time of the year.

We made the best of a rainy Pokhara, helped by the fact we found a fantastic hotel, all decorated in the old Newari style. We got a room upgrade and had a wonderful view towards Machapuchare when it showed it's face. This was the view from our window.



Similar to our time in Indonesia, we rented a moped and poked around all the back roads, remote fields and rice paddies and bumped into all sorts of new places that were not yet on the map or had simply escaped the various travel guides altogether. With the weather being what it was, Christina's knee still a question mark and both with a stubborn cold, we really kicked back and decided to not do anything more than walk around and play tourist.

We spent a good bit of time at Manang Monastery after an invite from a local monk. He invited us to sit in during the Durga Puja celebration. Even cameras were not an issue, so we sat quietly in a corner of the main hall and took pictures.





Stopping in the back country, we were invariably surrounded by local children. Although the area around Pokhara is quite touristy, few Westerners seem to venture into the remote areas. People were startled to see us and waved and smiled as we rode by.



There were a surprising number of vulture-like birds in the air around Pokhara, much more so than I remembered from previous visits.



Given that it was Dashain, a two week festival, impromptu swings were being constructed everywhere.



Our trip together was coming to an end and Christina and I went to Europe, saying our temporary goodbyes in Abu Dhabi.
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Old 11-04-2013, 09:28 PM   #248
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November 4, 2013 - After not having seen my dad for about two years and my sister for a bit longer than that, it was time to test the waters and see if my niece and nephews still had a vague clue as to who I was.

Even though my niece needed to be shown a picture to remind her of who I was, she quickly cottoned on to the idea that I was more than happy to shoot pictures of her all day long.



I spent a wonderful ten days with my dad and my sister's family and visited countless friends during that time. Every time we had dinner at my sister's house, my brother in law prepared something out of the ordinary and exquisitely delicious. Two of the three kids were more than happy to pose for the camera.



One was a bit more reluctant.



After ten days I returned to Thailand to collect my bike which I had abandoned at my friend Marc's place back in August. First order of business is to figure out where and when the best photographic opportunities are to take full advantage of Loy Krathong, the festival of lights.
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Old 11-04-2013, 09:49 PM   #249
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I love this ride report for the stunning photos of people and places. It's always a pleasant surprise to see a new post from you.
And that looks more like an eagle than a vulture.
Keep up the good work, mate!
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Old 11-04-2013, 10:07 PM   #250
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Stumbled across this report by accident but so glad I have.

Brilliant writing, photography and most important of all, amazing ride.

Subscribed and reading !
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Old 11-24-2013, 11:33 AM   #251
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November 24, 2013 - An escape from the European cold was very welcome. After an excellent family visit, I was more than happy to be back in Thailand. I decided to bypass Bangkok altogether this time and flew from Bangkok directly to Chiang Mai.

First order of business was to rescue my bike from Marc's wood factory. Aside from a liberal sprinkling of sawdust, it was untouched. I was convinced I'd washed it before I parked it, but I was clearly wrong. It took me hours spread over two days to get the thing clean.



November 2013 is the month during which the Loy Krathong and Yi Peng festivals are celebrated all over Thailand. There are events all over the place during the space of a week or ten days, depending on where you are. The main event is the release of paper hot air balloons at the Mae Jo meditation center near Chiang Mai, part of the Yi Peng celebration. Thousands of people gather to take part in a meditation practice (all of ten minutes) and write their wishes on a paper hot air balloon which is then set free. I was there four hours before the main event started, and it wasn't a moment too soon.



One of the most amazing experiences was the silence. During the meditation session, no one stirred or talked, no cell phones were heard and my camera shutter clattered with such deafening noise I refrained from taking pictures.

After a demonstration on how to fill your balloon without setting it alight, people got ready. Lots of balloons left early and throughout the night, the sky was filled with burning dots, as can be seen below.



At the signal, balloons are released and it creates a truly amazing sight. Pictures don't do it justice. Of all the things I've seen in the last two years, this event ranks in the top five.



Since it is a lantern festival after all, there is no shortage of colorful decoration throughout Chiang Mai.





There are also a number of parades throughout the city during the week.



The Loy Krathong festival focusing on releasing past sins and bad events down the river, literally, using banana leaf floats. Most contain flowers, incense, some cash and often strands of hair and fingernail clippings. All part of the "new beginning" idea for a new year.





Speaking of new beginnings...

This picture will be familiar to some of you and it means the motorcycle part of your trip is over.



Riding around the world has ceased to be more fun than other alternatives, at which point you change tack. I'd noticed that since I started riding, fourteen years ago, the longest ever stretch of no recorded monthly kilometers was from August till November of this year. Clearly riding around the world was not as much fun as traveling around with Christina the last few months. On top of that, I had been playing with the idea of returning to Vancouver and when I heard my previous place was vacant again, I jumped at the chance. Since I've been renting that apartment as of October, I figured it was about time to put some furniture in it and make use of it again. Not for long though, as I am leaving for Germany in January to be reunited with Christina. We'll see from there, but spending time in Bonn, Vancouver and Chiang Mai in equal parts throughout the year sounds pretty good to us.

As to this ride report:



Thanks for reading folks. If you have any questions, fire away ....
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Old 11-24-2013, 03:25 PM   #252
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Originally Posted by Malindi View Post
Riding around the world has ceased to be more fun than other alternatives, at which point you change tack. I'd noticed that since I started riding, fourteen years ago, the longest ever stretch of no recorded monthly kilometers was from August till November of this year. Clearly riding around the world was not as much fun as traveling around with Christina the last few months. On top of that, I had been playing with the idea of returning to Vancouver and when I heard my previous place was vacant again, I jumped at the chance. Since I've been renting that apartment as of October, I figured it was about time to put some furniture in it and make use of it again. Not for long though, as I am leaving for Germany in January to be reunited with Christina. We'll see from there, but spending time in Bonn, Vancouver and Chiang Mai in equal parts throughout the year sounds pretty good to us.
Still a great read. I'm leaving my moto in Yokohama today to ship to Thailand. Its to bad you won't still be there, but I understand. After SEA I think a break is probably in order for me also. Again, great pictures and great report. Thank you. I wish you all the happiness life has to offer in your continued adventures.
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Old 11-24-2013, 06:09 PM   #253
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Hi Kevin,

Such a great ride report! Thanks so much for taking the time. I can't believe I have been following your airhead travels for so long (before ADVrider existed) and have yet to meet you.

It brings back such fond memories of long ago travels to see your excellent pics of Thailand and Nepal. (I gave it 5 stars). Best luck in your future endeavours.

Kindest regards,
John Downs
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Old 11-24-2013, 06:50 PM   #254
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Still a great read. I'm leaving my moto in Yokohama today to ship to Thailand. Its to bad you won't still be there, but I understand. After SEA I think a break is probably in order for me also. Again, great pictures and great report. Thank you. I wish you all the happiness life has to offer in your continued adventures.
Thanks Ronin. If you want some pointers for SEA, drop me a PM or email. Also, my page here http://www.nohorizons.net/2012/countries.html has all the GDB files in case you are using Garmin Mapsource or Basecamp. All the roads taken and loads of new waypoints added. Might be of use. If you can, start your trip in the north before fire season starts here mid Jan to early Feb. It lasts till monsoon starts and it'll make it difficult to breathe.
Happy Travels!
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Old 11-24-2013, 06:54 PM   #255
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Hi Kevin,

Such a great ride report! Thanks so much for taking the time. I can't believe I have been following your airhead travels for so long (before ADVrider existed) and have yet to meet you.

It brings back such fond memories of long ago travels to see your excellent pics of Thailand and Nepal. (I gave it 5 stars). Best luck in your future endeavours.

Kindest regards,
John Downs
Hi John

Thanks for the 5 stars. Yeah, not doing much anymore around ABC membership or Airmail, so I'm a tad off the radar there. Hope to run into you someday though.

Cheers,
Kevin
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