Five nights in Bangkok on the Chao Phraya, the river of Kings. We have lived as such, slept as such and dined as such. “This place has a Michelin star but the food is only so so. That place is much better” is proclaimed on ever street corner. We have eaten in the darkes alley and on the highest tower (?). We have completed the tempel run in less than 12 parsecs. Here is to the start of our NBA.
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.
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.
We have found the end of the rainbow in Gansu. In this arid land, the mountains themselves bring color to the desert. Gansu’s Rainbow Mountains are a beautiful site.
But Gansu is not only the end of the rainbow, but also the end of the Great Wall. At the end of our time in China, we stand at the First Watchtower of the Middle Kingdom.
Hairy Crab season may be the most awaited food season in Shanghai. Everybody, everywhere at any time. The Hairy Crab, a sweat water crab, native to Yanchen Lake and other lakes in the Shanghai region, is, without doubt Shanghais favorite seafood.
As true 上海人 apprentices that we are, we tried to eat the hairy crustaceans many times. However, their meat stayed hidden from our toungs and chopsticks. After 3 years secretly watching us fail, Jamie and Kyle from UnTour finally decided to introduce a Hairy Crab Tour.
Huge doors open in the darkness. A primal scream rips through the air. Fire explodes, as the Hakka sounds all around us. Dinner at Ultraviolet has begun.
“Dinner” is an inappropriate term for this extraordinary journey, which may elude classifications entirely. In the next three hours, we dine by the sea, have picknick on the lawn and eat a cigar butt. It is a surprisingly imersive and emotional experience, which binds together ten strangers for a night in a remote warehouse at Suzhou Creek. This is the UVC menu, Paul Pairets third and latest creation.
Describing the experience is a task similar to Hunter S. Thomsons description of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, albeit lacking the talent. This is my recollection of a dreamlike evening.
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!
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.
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”
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”