Heart of Europe – We are back

Staying at home is a no-go. This rule also applies in good old Europe. And what better place to start than in Brussels, the heart of the European Union (spoiler alert: we did not visit the European Quarter).

Brussels is a ca. 2.5h train ride from our new home in Bonn. Home of Belgian Chocolate, Waffels, Fries, Beer and plenty of other things that will eventually force to buy a wheelbarrow to carry your belly around.

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Farewell Tour – Most Beautiful Yunnan

We climb through the narrow passage in the cliff, the whitewater of Jinsha River 100m below. There, on a narrow ledge, the first ladder clings to the vertical cliff. 168 almost vertical steps with no safety and not a soul in sight; but its our best way out.

We are on day 5 of our Yunnan adventure.  Its our last trip before leaving China and moving back to Germany. And maybe it is the most spectacular trip, yet. Yunnan is an amazingly beautiful place with stunning nature and amazing people. We would not have wanted to miss it.

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Diving Weekend in the Philippines – Yes we can

Happiness and melancholy can be found in close together. The former can be found at a parking garage at Manila Airport when arriving at 4:55 on our favorite flight Cebu Pacific 5J679 from Shanghai. The latter can be found in a bathroom stall at the very same airport when changing back sandles into sneakers.

However, this weekend was about something different.  This weekend was about celebrating the awesomeness of being able to hop to the Philippines for a weekend to go diving. Yes, we can!

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Relax weekend in Nanjing

Nanjing greets us with a beautiful sea of morning fog below us (or air pollution but only hardcore rationalists would ponder over the difference). From our room on 69 floor, we have a view on the lake and the hills in which the Sun Yatsen memorial lies.

Nanjing is so close to Shanghai but we never managed to visit. Until last weekend. Patrick gave us a nudge. Well, Nanjing is indeed worth a visit.

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人山人海 on Taishan – the quintesential China

Its 5.45am an pitch black when we step out the door. As out eyes accustom to the light, shapes emerge from the shadows – thousands of them. Dressed in in Army winter coats, they march through the dark streets on Taishan’s mountain top. The sunrise we came to see, becomes marginalized by the spectacle of 人山 (People Mountain) that unfolds before us.

We have climbed the over 6.000 steps of Taishan (Mount Tai). The climb is said to reward not only with a beautiful sunrise but also a life of onehundred years. Lets see.

But most importantly, the climb of Taishan is the essence of China itself: Beautiful nature, tranquil temples, and people, people, people. Continue reading “人山人海 on Taishan – the quintesential China”

Bears and Volcanos of Kamchatka

At sunrise we find a large pile fresh dung, only 5m from our tents. While we pack, we keep an eye out. Then we see it; a Kamchatka brown bear on the opposite river bank. The bear  starts to fish, at the spot where we caught two trouts last night. As if we are not there, the bear crosses to our camp’s shore. As we enter our rafts, the curious bear is less the 5 meters from our camp. Continue reading “Bears and Volcanos of Kamchatka”

PADI Rescue Diver at Malapascua

At 6m depth, I turn around and see her. Michi is drifing on the bottom, not breathing. Three strong kicks, I am with her, grab her and bring her up to the surface. Mask off, regulator off and start rescue breathing.

Luckily, this is just a scenario in the Rescue Diver course and Michi is fine (exept for some bruises and some water in the lungs from my not yet perfect rescue attempts).

We are back at Malapascue for an intense dive training session with Thresher Shark Divers.

Here is the full story.

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One Day in Paris – Tianducheng

The familiar silhouette of the Eiffel Tower is clearly visible against the gray sky. Streets are lines by typical Paris architecture. Only the Seine is about 9,000km away. We are in Skycity in Tianducheng, a suburb of the City of Hangzhou.

The Chinese Eiffel Tower yeas built 9 years before world leaders came to Hangzhou for the G20 summit. For what reason? None apparent, other than for Chinese couples to take wedding pictures. Continue reading “One Day in Paris – Tianducheng”

Zhangjiajie – A visit to the Avatar Mountains

Zhangjiajie – world famous as the Pandora Mountains from the movie Avatar – is a stone forest with needles of quartz sandstone which reach up to over 1.000m. Despite all warnings, we decided that it is the place to go over the May holidays and we – the brave – were rewarded by small crowds, magnificent views and thigh pains worse than almost anything we have ever experienced.

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