Sri Lanka

A while back I pre posted about my trip to Sri Lanka to the eco village of Ulpotha for 2 weeks of disappearance from the “normal” world. It was a very special time as it is a special place, and a very interesting group. And well. Yoga. From morning till night.

Unbelievable but true the days felt somewhat packed. The day started at 7. Sunrise was a bit before 6 and honestly there is no way to sleep much longer than 6 anyway. First of all it gets light. Then there are the birds giving a huge concerto. Then there was this nasty squirrel that started always at 6 to rummage around in our roof. No idea what was so exciting about it. And it also always stopped about 6:30. And when the squirrel didn’t wake me then it was either the apes doing the ape thing or the constant scraping of a broom. Our caretaker started to clean the pathways always at that time. So here you go. No sleeping it.

Then again there was also no point of staying up late. After sunset – as there is no electricity – you have your flashlight and there are gas lamps all over the place, but well… its not like you want to do much stuff in that kind of lightening. That gave a peaceful rhythm to the days. Though I sometimes felt like a child. Somebody else decided when I get up and when I got to bed.

The whole area was connected by little pathways that are always clean. I practically ran around barefoot for 2 weeks. I felt like Mowgli from the jungle book. Also because you really live basic. You … well … stink a little. Water is rare, so you decide wisely when to shower (also the water is not heated. So you better do it in the afternoon sun.), and you live among the animals. More or less all respecting the other. When I showered I always had two bees, one big yellow and black flying thingie, and a salamander joining in. There is not much water. So of course if you turn some on there are guests. But against my usual panicky behavior I noticed pretty quickly is was definitely just about the water. They didn’t mind me at all. Just to get some water. Ok, maybe except the salamander. He just kept smiling at me. Maybe even winking.

Then there was the disconnectedness from the internet, and mostly cell reception. I have to admit that it gives a lot of peace in the sense of you really disconnect from home, just don’t bother about the stuff you usually bother. I wouldn’t want it for longer than 2 weeks, but for that time it was heaven.

 

My first week in Montevideo

First of all: don’t fly with Iberia. My first flight left an hour late. The second left two hours too late, but nobody bothered to explain why. Noboby even thought about maybe bringing something to drink. Then there is only one monitor for all. Meaning either you like whats running on the screen or you’ve got a really long flight. Finally… the food. Oh boy. It’s simply disgusting.

As for Montevideo. I haven’t seen that much yet, but so far I find it hard to compare it to any other place I’ve been to before. The city still seems to be in a pretty bad condition compared to European standards (I say still because according to my host it was way worse 7 years ago). The houses, the streets and sidewalks. Everything seems to be very badly maintained. Then there is the colonial style, which is fantastic. But usually there a pretty ugly communist buildings right beside it.

The dogs seem to be peturbed. They shit right in the middle of the sidewalk. Every dog in town seems to be unable to shit beside a tree. So don’t walk around without an eye on where you put your feet. The sidewalk is pretty messed up anyway. When it rains, you have to look out for huge puddles.

Weatherwise it’s summer. But one day it can be pretty hot, and the next day it drops 10 degrees and rains like in the rain forest. And when it rained… don’t try to dry your clothes. They won’t dry.

Barbecue is sensational. They grill the meat for two hours on charcoal, which seems to give the meat a great woody flavour. Except salt no other herbs are used to season the meat. The grilled meat is cut into mouth size pieces and everyone gets a fork and pics the pieces from a central plate. Less dishes to clean and more socializing.  And a huge piece of good meat for 4 people is about 10 CHF.

U want massaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasch?

Three weeks of Thailand later…

It was definitely warm. Or rather hot. And sunny.

A bit unexpected was the amount of dirt in combination with the obvious no-bother-mentality of the Thai people about living in it. So while you’re in the Tourist areas its mostly clean. As soon as you get out of it and enter their territory it gets dirty.

What also surprised me was how badly they speak English. Don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to, but since you’re working in tourism, and for example the Bangkok Post and quite a few TV channels are in English, I expect that you maybe speak more than the three sentences you need to know for your work. That also makes it impossible to get in contact with the people, and get some answers for the 2000 questions that come in mind while traveling that mysterious country.

Finally most Thai people we met seemed to be extremly unhappy. Due to the lack of communication possibilities I don’t know if it’s a culture thing, straining work, dislike for the fat tourists, economical situation, or whatever. If somebody knows, please tell me.

Festival of Lights

Left Australia this morning. Actually felt a bit like I could go all the way back home as opposed to making a three day stopover in Singapore. Never mind.

The airport I knew from my way over to Australia. So nothing too fancy there (except the airport carpet… What the f**** were they thinking??? Austin Powers goes mental?). As soon as the airport gates opened I got struck by hot humidity. So the game begins again: outside you’re constantly slightly wet, as soon as you get inside its like 12 degrees and you freeze-dry…

Even though I nearly feel asleep in my teny tiny 12 degrees dorm room thingie without a window I headed into nearby Little India. By the way about the fourth dorm room without a window I slept in during that trip. I guess all the fresh air during the outback experience at the beginning of my trip gets annihilated that way. As the Buddhists say: everything is in balance!

Fifteen minutes later I get into some sort of crisis. It looks like India (ok, maybe a bit more polished), it smells like India, and people behave like in India (mostly due to the fact that there almost only Indians on the street). In that crowd my bare beeing screams tourist like a lamb post. I was so much looking forward to a flashback to India, but all of a sudden I wished I was back home under my blanket.

Struggling somewhat around, I thought I should just focus on getting into a supermarket and get some food. I get directions to a supermarket called Shengsiong (???). From the outside it could also be a slaughterhouse. I end up as the only slightly disoriented tourist in the whole thing. They placed the fish stuff right beside the fruit stuff and luckily to a normal temperature the whole room smelled disgustingly of algae.

Heading into the nuts and dried fruit section I am confronted with an immense choice of Asian nibble thingies. Could also have been the Barbie accessoires section: any kind of color, any kind of texture in any kind of variety. Not even my loved “Be natural” bars could be found.

Ok. Lets get some water then and a soda. Same here in the soda section. Whatever you can mix together, they mix together and put it into a can.

Heading out of that place I decided to leave the Little India part and head into the Business District. Always a save haven. On my way there I pass a Beauty salon and end up endulging myself with a haircut and a facial. Oh well. If I don’t stay in luxurius hotel rooms, I can at least give me a break once in a while.

During the facial I get used to the smell of India again. Totally relaxed and calmed I head again into the Little India part. Now that it has gotten dark, the male Indian population of Singapore seems to be on the main road lovingly decorated with lights. I feel fine.

I’ve landed in Singapore.

Almost done

Today and tomorrow Sydney. Then three days Singapore. On Saturday I leave Singapore at 1am just to find myself in Zurich at 7:30 in the morning. Short trip, mhm? 😉

Climatewise I’m in a comfortable 30 degree zone. Australians call that spring. In Singapore it’s supposed to be incredibly hot and hummid. And my iPhone tells me on Saturday they predicted the incredible heat of 4 degrees in Zurich. I’m feeling quite tired of travelling in the sense of having crappy showers and always someone rummaging in the dorm, but the prospect of deepest autumn makes homecoming somewhat horrifying.

So I take it easy. Enjoy Sydney without much of a plan. Do what I always want to do when I’m back home: sit in a Starbucks, read, and watch people passing by…

Tired

Lying in my dorm room in Airlie Beach. Spent last night in a Greyhound bus. Actually I slept most of the time having two seats for me, but of course it’s a strain for your body to lie 10 hours straight somewhere totally crumpled up.

Airlie is tiny, touristy, but luckily not another Darwin (the worst place I’ve been so far). I’d love to go see a movie. Not possible here. There is no theater. Oh well. Got loads to read anyway and another early start tomorrow.

I’m pretty sure I’ve never been up so early than on this trip. During the outback experience from Broome to Darwin we got up with the sun. Imagine that! Me!

And I seriously could use a hot bath tub. 😉

Sharky Night Diving

Funny how things go: Yesterday I had a total crisis. Today I made 4 Barrier Reef dives and am totally flashed. Not only are my fellow divers exceptionally nice and easy to talk to, but also there is THE Barrier Reef to discover.

New life experiences today:

Got incredibly seasick on the way to the reef. Luckily quite a handful of people sat there with a brown bag around me. But as soon as your in the water…

Saw two sharks. Both on the night dive which is quite a new experience.

Now I’ll be sleeping aboard on top of the Barrier Reef and the sharks.

Crocodile Dundee

Very well. The trekking trip is over. Though you can’t call it hiking. It’s more waddling somewhere in you own sweat trying not to move to hard until you get into a gorge or spring that takes your breath away.

For me there a couple of obstacles to overcome. For one the sleeping outdoors in a swag surrounded by the friendly animal world of the Northern Territories. Strangely enough nobody got killed in his/her sleep by a spider and then vanished with the help of the termites. The only visible marks on me is a polka dot like invisible full body suit. Aeroguard: you suck!!!

We also did some bush camping which basically means no shower. Can be quite relaxing to just linger in your own dirt and smell like Terence Hill always looked like. The beautiful part is you appreciation when you finally get in any kind of shower later.

I’ve met crocodiles, bats, the green tree frog and the black monitor. There were tons of different spiders, crickets, grasshoppers, and ants and termites. And so on. Unfortunately also a lot of roadkill.

Further I could do enhanced studies of different British and Scottish accents as well as Australian mummbling. But when it comes to men the major topics are always the same…

Anyway. A deep thank you for an unforgetable experience to T!!!

Dornenvögel

Landed in Broome today. In the middle of nowhere. From the “airport” it’s a 10 min walk into the backpackers. It’s about a 20 min walk into the “shopping centre” which is about the size of a baby Migros.

It’s a nice tropical climate though. 33 degrees and sun with a slight moist wind.

When I got out of the plane my first thought was that I would have to laugh out aloud if Pater Ralph (Richard Camberlain of the thorn birds ???) would come out around the corner.

Tomorrow my hiking trip starts. I wonder how much hiking is actually involved and how sleeping outdoors will be like.

First Steps

Surived my first night at a horrible backpacker. Moved to another, so far pretty cosy place. First thought that I might push the age average substantially upward, but doesn’t look like it.

Had a look at Perth today. Reminds me a bit of San Francisco. Strange mix between skyscrapers and sort of historical looking buildings.

Australians are friendly, and very helpful people. They do have a nutrition problem though… Or maybe I’m just too used to the skinny Swiss. Shopping for clothes is fun. My size is always available being somewhat on the skinnier side than most girls here.

Tomorrow is my first surfing lesson. It’s about 20 degrees with a chilly wind. Guess I’ll be freezing my a** off. But of course very much looking forward to it.