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    Archive for December, 2007

    Day 632 – 42C on New Year’s Eve

    Monday, December 31st, 2007

    Working out in sorrento!

    Portsea's Ocean Beach. ..

    Portsea's Ocean Beach. ..

    Nicolai on NYE at Portsea's Ocean Beach. ..

    A lovely way to spend New Year's Eve...Rhod and his Corona on Portsea's Ocean Beach. ..

    Yeah, who's your daddy now...

    The Girls in Sorrento...

    NYE party in Portsea, Mornington Peninsula..

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    A New Year’s coming up…

    Sunday, December 30th, 2007

    It has always been a healthy thing to have a quick look in the rear-view mirror before you change the lanes on the highway. 2008 will undoubtedly lead to a lot of foreign and exciting roads for all of us, both the bitumen, dirt and mental variety.

    There’s been so many beautiful places, wonderful people and unforgettable moments in 2007 and to highlight just a few seems quite unfair because the year really has been a non-stop series of experiences and input. Things that have often made me feel extremely lucky, privileged, and proud as hell.

    When I go through the year 2007 mentally countless faces, places and feelings pop up. I can’t really understand that it’s been a year – or 52 consecutive charter holidays, if you wish – already since I said a tearful goodbye to my mother, father, and sister in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam after to wonderful weeks of reunification.

    At the same time it’s hard to believe that what has happened since that day in early January 2007, that all the sights and experiences that are somewhere up there in my memo attic, happened in just a year. I can’t feel anything but grateful, and yet I feel an insatiable lust for the year to come. Bring it on…

    Thanks for all the WT support and thumbs-up along the road and from back home to all of you. I appreciate it more than you’d ever know.

    Happy New Year 2008 – make it a happy one.

    Nicolai (Sorrento, Victoria – Australia)

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    Day 631 – The Connoisseurs

    Sunday, December 30th, 2007

    Sorrento Tennis Club.

    Happy days on the Mornington Peninsula...

    The Connoisseurs at T'Gallant Winery, Red Hill.

    Ten Minutes by Tractor Winery...

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    Day 630 – The Weather Forecast

    Saturday, December 29th, 2007

    It’s going to be a hothot New Year’s Eve… (it turned out to be 42C and the hottest day of the year in the area!!!)

    NYE weather forecast: 38C. I turned out to be 42C!

    Enjoying good times in Sorrento..

    Evening in Sorrento with Iva and Rhod...

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    Day 629 – Diamond Bay & The Sunset

    Friday, December 28th, 2007

    Wonderful Diamond Bay near Sorrento, Mornington Peninsula.

    Wonderful Diamond Bay near Sorrento, Mornington Peninsula.

    Fantastic sunset at Sorrento's Ocean Beach...

    Fantastic sunset at Sorrento's Ocean Beach...

    Nicolai enjoying a fantastic sunset at Sorrento's Ocean Beach...

    Fantastic sunset at Sorrento's Ocean Beach...

    Fantastic sunset at Sorrento's Ocean Beach...

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    Day 628 – The Tennis Day

    Thursday, December 27th, 2007

    Enjoying the Xmas days 2007

    The Tennis Day...

    Delikatessen

    Flower

    Rhod doing business the cool way...

    BBQ evening at Sorrento Sailing Club..

    Sorrento Sailing Club..

    Barbie night at Sorrento Sailing Club..

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    Day 627 – A Different Boxing Day…

    Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

    Its quite a different Boxing Day.

    A bowl of müsli, at home on Dark Parade and the sun which is shining all day, kick-starts the day. Before noon Kate is acting like a cocktail-guru in the kitchen, while Rhod and I are the guinea-pigs on the sunny terrace. It’s a cool and relaxed beginning of a holiday.

    Together with papa Robert, mama Patricia and grandpa John, the youth walks down to Sorrento’s Front Beach and have a cup of coffee and a yo-yo cake ( and yes, that’s how they look!) with the view over the turquoise-coloured bay. It is some amazing colours and I take lots of snapshots and film.

    In the afternoon, Iva, Kate, Rhod and I drive up to Shelly Beach, which is situated on the Port Philip Bay with Melbourne further up north. The temperature is 30C degrees and the water is 22C degrees. I take a run along the beautiful beach with the iPod and do a little work out in the rocks under the sun.

    The water is nice and unbelievably clear and clean. My thoughts towards Denmark, are incredibly few, on this Boxing Day. I could easily get used to this December-heat.

    Later, Rhod takes us for a little spin in his 1997 Jeep Wrangler (topless today) and we have an ice-cream cone at Little Mermaid, the Danish ice-cream and hotdog shop at the main street.

    Rhod, Robert and I are invited onboard on a boat in Sorrento Sailing Club with some of Rob’s friends for a friendly race around the bay today. The late-afternoon light over the marina, which exudes of international sailor life, is beautiful. Beside the 3 of us, 4 of Robert’s friends are onboard as well. The boat is a Couta, which is developed here in Port Philip Bay, and which because of the low water has a very flat hull. The type of boat is mostly seen only here in the bay and only a few other places. No wonder that World Championship is also being held here in Sorrento. Approximately 15 boats are in the one hour long navigation. Rhod and I are both rookies on the boat and are not really of anybody’s help. It is a lovely experience and my first navigation ever. Back in the sailing club, the girls are waiting with beer and chips and everywhere there are happy sailor people with the ubiquitous stubby in their hand. They really like that one, here in Australia.

    (Kindly translated by A. S. Jensen)

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    Day 626 – Christmas Day in Sorrento…

    Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

    Tune of the Day: Mr. Tough – Yo La Tengo

    The first thing I do today is to call my mum, dad and sister back home in Middelfart. Its 9am here on Christmas day, in Denmark it is 11pm Christmas Eve. It is really nice to talk to them all and sense a little Bangsgaard Christmas spirit, despite the absence of family – 60 minutes goes by so quickly. The living room is packed with 11 people, spread over four generations. There is Rhod, his Croatian/German girlfriend Iva, Rhod’s sister Kate and her five months old Labrador Skuba, Rhod’s brother Jolyon and his Vietnamese girlfriend Dawn, her mother and daughter Linh (whom Dawn has from a former marriage) Rhod’s dad Robert, Rhod’s mum Patricia and her father John.

    The Christmas tree is decorated and the dinning table is filled with presents. I’m excited to see how Chrismas is celebrated here, because it is my first Christmas in a English speaking Commonwealth-country, where the 25th of December is the day to open the presents etc. It is not even 10 am, before I have my first (of many) glass of champagne – the day has begun!

    Opening the present is much more chaotic and confusing than what I’m used to at home. In only half an hour, all the presents have found their owner and the paper is ripped off without concern for the love the wrapping paper is surrounded with. 6-year-old Linh is electric with expectations for her Christmas presents and all her expectations seem to be fulfilled – it’s quite a crazy present-frenzy.

    Tiger prawns and more champagne on the terrace. I have a long talk with granddad John, who is 76 years old. He is quite fresh, bright and a fine proof that is it not necessarily a frightening thing to become old.

    In the afternoon half the group takes a beautiful walk down to Sorrento’s Ocean Beach. The sun is shining, the water is green and the rocky coast is amazing, impressive. The whole of the Mornington Peninsula is a wonderful pearl.

    With a couple of cold beer, Rhod and I have a terrace talk and try to catch up. We meet for the first time in 1998 in Utila, Honduras, and later, by coincidence, in the street in San Jose, Costa Rica and again in Cusco, Peru. Later that year, he came to visit me in Middelfart and we had an unforgettable Midsummer Day on my home island Funen. I’m happy about being here, with his lovely family.

    Christmas dinner consisted of, on the meat side: turkey and deli-sausages, accompanied by a huge amount of vegetables, gravies, stuffing and red wine without limitations. Mum Patricia had been in the kitchen all day and the result was amazing.

    In the evening we visit on of Rhod’s old friends. I loose both my heart and soul to his 7 months old daughter Emily. A lovely, little ray of light, who reminds me that I still have a lot of good things waiting for me in my life.

    (Kindly translated by A. S. Jensen)

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    Day 625 – 24th of December…

    Monday, December 24th, 2007

    Tune of the Day: Hello – The Cat Empire

    I had a long and splendid night in the soft bed in Leopold. Breakfast together with Julie and her daughter Daisy before I go to Queenscliff for the on the 9 o’clock ferry. Another fine, little Australian acquaintance…

    In Queenscliff, I receive a fresh email from mum, dad and sister Julia – and for a brief moment I miss them, seeing their happy faces.

    The ferry from Queensclif to Sorrento (on the Mornington-peninsula) takes about 40 minutes and cost 11 AUD, including the bike. Sorrento is a small holiday village on both the sea-side and the bay-side of the Mornington Peninsula. There are lots of expensive cars and rich people, so I cruise around on my bike and look at the cars of my dreams, people and skin.

    It’s been almost 10 years since I’ve seen Rhod, my Australian friend, who has invited me to Sorrento to spend Christmas with his family. I feel a little over-sensitive about calling him, but the feeling was quite unfounded. As soon as Rhod and his girl friend Iva came to meet me in the city at 7 pm, everything was as it used to be in the old days. It is great to see him again and one cannot tell that we’ve spent so many years apart. Sometimes, it is like this between people. A friendship can seem weak on a time scale, but strong on the mental level, whereas other friendships can have a long history but not matter much.

    At home Rhod’s family is waiting (further introduction will come in tomorrow’s article) with smiles, open arms and an amazing salmon steak dinner. There are 11 people in the house, so to ensure a little privacy for me, Rhod puts up a nice tent for me in the garden – my very own castle.

    Later in the evening, the young parts of the family go to a pub at Sorrento Hotel. Rhod introduces me to the tasty Amber Ale draught beer. It’s Christmas Eve and the moon is full.

    It’s great to be here…

    Photos to come…

    (Kindly translated by A. S. Jensen)

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    Day 624 – Torquay -> Leopold…

    Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

    Distance (km) : 39
    Time on bike : 2h 29m
    Brutto time: 10.00 – 15.00
    Avg : 15.7 km/h
    Max.speed: 46.3
    Total (km) : 25.754

    (Photos to come…)

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    Day 623 – Lorne -> Torquay (cabin)…

    Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

    Distance (km) : 59
    Time on bike : 3h 50m
    Brutto time: 10.00 – 15.00
    Avg : 15.3 km/h
    Max.speed: 61.0
    Total (km) : 25.716

    (Photos to come…)

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    Day 622 – Apollo Bay -> Lorne (Sandridge Hotel)

    Friday, December 21st, 2007

    Distance (km) : 50
    Time on bike : 3h 12m
    Brutto time: 10.45 – 14.00
    Avg : 15.6 km/h
    Max.speed: 42.2
    Total (km) : 25.656

    Foggy Great Ocean Road...

    Steak dinner with Brett (Sydney)

    Apple crumble...

    And a huge thank you to Brett for everything!

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    Day 621 – Rest day in Apollo Bay

    Thursday, December 20th, 2007

    0 km etc.

    Wild camp in a residential area, Apollo Bay.

    Apollo Bay morning light...

    Manfred, Nicolai, and Karin in Apollo Bay.

    Nicolai in Apollo Bay.

    Apollo Bay, Great Ocean Road.

    Apollo Bay's Surfside Backpacker's

    Funky! They looked better on you, Brett!

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    Day 620 – Port Campbell -> Apollo Bay

    Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

    Port Campbell -> Apollo Bay (wild camping)
    Distance (km) : 109
    Time on bike : 6h 48m
    Brutto time: 09.00 – 19.00
    Avg : 16.0 km/h
    Max.speed: 62.4 (!)
    Total (km) : 25.600

    12 Apostles National Park - Great Ocean Road...

    12 Apostles National Park - Great Ocean Road...

    12 Apostles National Park - Great Ocean Road...

    12 Apostles National Park - Great Ocean Road...

    12 Apostles National Park - Great Ocean Road...

    12 Apostles National Park - Great Ocean Road...

    12 Apostles National Park - Great Ocean Road...

    12 Apostles National Park - Great Ocean Road...

    12 Apostles National Park - Great Ocean Road...

    Cool forest cycling along the Great Ocean Road..

    Getting ready for dinner in Apollo Bay

    Surreal sunset light, Apollo Bay.

    Surreal sunset light, Apollo Bay.

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    Day 619 – Warrnambool -> Port Campbell

    Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

    Warrnambool -> Port Campbell (wild camp)
    Distance (km) : 77
    Time on bike : 4h 33m
    Brutto time: 14.00 – 19.30
    Avg : 12.9 km/h
    Max.speed: 40.4
    Total (km) : 25.492

    Bay of Islands...

    Nature

    Nicolai, B&W.

    Bay of Islands. Great Ocean Road.

    12 Apostles National Park - Great Ocean Road...

    Great Ocean Road...

    Reflections...

    Bay of Islands...

    Dinner cooking in Port Campbell...

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    Day 618 – Port Fairy -> Warrnambool

    Monday, December 17th, 2007

    Port Fairy -> Warrnambool (wild camp)
    Distance (km) : 37
    Time on bike : 2h 54m
    Brutto time: 06.47 (!) – 10.00
    Avg : 12.9 km/h
    Max.speed: 48.3
    Total (km) : 25.414

    Wild camping in Port Fairy...

    Lunch in Warrnambool

    Journey to the last volcano...

    Fruit heaven in Warrnambool...

    Warrnambool Beach...

    Wild camping in Warrnambool...

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    Day 617 – Portland -> Port Fairy

    Sunday, December 16th, 2007

    Portland -> Port Fairy (wild camp)
    Distance (km) : 89
    Time on bike : 5h 02m
    Brutto time: 13.45 – 21.00
    Avg : 17.6 km/h
    Max.speed: 49.6
    Total (km) : 25.377

    Wild camping, Portland.

    Church in the country side...

    Australian farmland...

    Port Fairy...

    Port Fairy sunset...

    Port Fairy...

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    Day 616 – Mt. Gambier -> Portland

    Saturday, December 15th, 2007

    Mt. Gambier -> Portland (wild camp)
    Distance (km) : 115
    Time on bike : 6h 41m
    Brutto time: 08.30 – 17.00
    Avg : 17.1 km/h
    Max.speed: 42.2
    Total (km) : 25.288

    Wild camping in Mt. Gambier...

    Mt. Gambier and my bike...

    Mt. Gambier sink hole...

    Plants in Mt. Gambier...

    Julia Street. Portland. Victoria, Australia.

    Exit South Australia, enter Victoria...

    Deforestation...

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    Day 615 – Lake George -> Mt. Gambier

    Friday, December 14th, 2007

    Lake George -> Mt. Gambier (wild camp)
    Distance (km) : 128
    Time on bike : 5h 35m
    Brutto time: 08.00 – 17.30
    Avg : 23.7 km/h
    Max.speed: 46.3
    Total (km) : 25.173

    Beachport, South Australia...

    Beachport, South Australia...

    The Beauty at Beachport, South Australia...

    Beachport, South Australia...

    Flies everywhere!!! Insane...

    Swiss Alain and I.

    Road side encounters in Millicent...

    Water melon!

    1 kg water melon later...

    Smooth cycling through Xmas Tree Land...

    Mt. Gambier's Blue Lake.

    Dinner with The Blue Lake, Mt. Gambier in the background...

    Mt. Gambier's Blue Lake.

    Mt. Gambier Christmas House...

    Possum

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    Day 614 – N of Robe -> Lake George

    Thursday, December 13th, 2007

    N of Robe -> Lake George (w. camp)
    Distance (km) : 57
    Time on bike : 3h 36m
    Brutto time: 09.00 – 19.00
    Avg : 15.8 km/h
    Max.speed: 37.4
    Total (km) : 25.046

    A proud, Danish cyclist...

    Robe Coastal Beauty...

    Robe Coastal Beauty...

    Robe Coastal Beauty...

    Robe Coastal Beauty...

    Robe Coastal Beauty...

    Flue madness, off-road, South Australia.

    Flue madness, off-road, South Australia.

    Sunset near Robe, South Australia.

    Wild camp spot near Robe...

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    Day 613 -Salt Creek -> 18 km N of Robe

    Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

    Salt Creek -> 18 km N of Robe (wild camping)
    Distance (km) : 117
    Time on bike : 6h 17m
    Brutto time: 08.00 – 17.45
    Avg : 18.5 km/h
    Max.speed: 30.0
    Total (km) : 24.988

    Larry the Lobster, 18m tall. Kingston SE.

    Nicolai and the flies...

    Upside down.

    Hanging out with the kids where I stayed for the night in the back yard...Near Robe, South Australia.

    Hanging out with the kids where I stayed for the night in the back yard...Near Robe, South Australia.

    Wine territory near Kingston, Sosuth Australia.

    Torch writing. Cool, ehh?

    Night scenes in the camp...

    WT! Writing with a torch...

    Starry night camp...

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    Day 612 – Wellington -> Salt Creek

    Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

    Day 612 – 11DEC07: Wellington -> Salt Creek (wild camping, swamp)
    Distance (km) : 105
    Time on bike : 5h 52m
    Brutto time: 08.20 – 18.00
    Avg : 17.9 km/h
    Max.speed: 35.8
    Total (km) : 24.872

    Wild camping at the Murray River in Wellington...

    Murray River crossing in Wellington

    Beautiful cycling south of Meningie, South Australia...

    Beautiful cycling south of Meningie, South Australia...

    Me and German cyclist Michael...

    Wild camping south of Meningie...

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    Day 611 – Victor Harbor -> Wellington

    Monday, December 10th, 2007

    Day 611 – 10DEC07: Victor Harbor -> Wellington (wild camping)
    Distance (km) : 113
    Time on bike : 5h 54m
    Brutto time: 11.00 – 18.00
    Avg : 19.1 km/h
    Max.speed: 58.4
    Total (km) : 24.767

    Fine facilities at the Victor Harbor Library Complex...

    Victor Harbor

    Beautiful Port Elliott

    Beautiful Port Elliott

    Beautiful Port Elliott

    Goolwa coastline, South Australia.

    Goolwa, South Australia.

    Goolwa

    Monotony, west of Wellington, South Australia

    West of Wellington, South Australia

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    Day 610 – Adelaide -> Victor Harbor

    Sunday, December 9th, 2007

    Adelaide -> Victor Harbor (wild camping)
    Distance (km) : 98
    Time on bike : 6h 08m
    Brutto time: 10.30 – 17.30
    Avg : 15.8 km/h
    Max.speed: 58.0
    Total (km) : 24.652

    Glenelg

    Glenelg, South Australia...

    On the road again...

    The Koala Sign.

    Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia...

    Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia...

    Wild camping at the beach in downtown Victor Harbor...

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    Day 609 – Pavlova!

    Saturday, December 8th, 2007

    I know I'm cute!

    Wonderful Pavlova dessert...

    Visiting Carolyne's family...

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    Day 608 – Wine tasting in Adelaide

    Friday, December 7th, 2007

    Glenelg, an Adelaide suburb by the sea...

    Glenelg, an Adelaide suburb by the sea...

    Wine tasting night with Carolyne, Adelaide...

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    Day 607 – Glenelg

    Thursday, December 6th, 2007

    Glenelg, South Australia...

    Glenelg, South Australia...

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    Day 606 – Chocolate in Adelaide

    Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

    Haigh's Chocolate. Adelaide.

    Haigh's Chocolate. Adelaide.

    Woven.

    Adelaide main drag...

    Culture in Adelaide...

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    News for the newbies…

    Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

    This is just a piece of news for the late arrivals…

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    Day 605 – The Big Issue

    Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

    Adelaide Botanic Gardens

    The Big Issue. />

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    Day 604 – Ethiopia

    Monday, December 3rd, 2007

    Mama Cook from the Ethiopian Restaurant...

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    New Photos From Australia!

    Monday, December 3rd, 2007

    You should know by now how it all works…

    Photo album #2 from Australia or view as slideshow

    See more photos from Australia…(Photo album #1) or view as slideshow

    Nicolai

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    Day 603 – Cleland

    Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

    Brunch, Adelaide suburb, December 2007.

    Cave + Caro

    Cleland Conservartion Park.

    Pelican at the Cleland Cons. Park.

    Kangaroos. Cleland Cons. Park.

    Red Kangaroo. Cleland Cons. Park.

    Gimme some! Carolyne + Red Kangaroo. Cleland Cons. Park.

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    Day 602 – The Babies

    Saturday, December 1st, 2007

    Curtis, 10 months.

    Nicolai. Adelaide. December 2007.

    Carolyne & the Echo...

    Kayla, 13 months.

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    The Photographer’s Hot Spots

    Saturday, December 1st, 2007

    (UK only)

    Maramures Region, Romania. I got the first glimpse of the wonderful rural Romania in this northern region that boasts some great villages with lots of old faces full of stories of a time long gone…My favourite region in Eastern Europe.

    Sighisoara, Romania. This delightful town was really hard on my Canon EOS. I loved just walking around the old Citadel looking for Romanian portraits. It’s got a great market as well with lots of interesting people of all ages.

    Istanbul, Turkey. It would take a life time to really get to know this fantastic city of some 10 mio. people. It’s position on the Bosphorus Strait is unbeatable. Istanbul has so much culture and history to be proud of. I really liked the little “herbs and medicine market” next to the harbour front in down town Istanbul.

    Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. The capital of Turkmenistan is a funny mix of monumental extravaganza (thanks to the former President Saparmurat Niyazov’s megalomanic tendencies) and human diversities. As usual, go for the local markets to get a feel of the people…

    Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Along with Bukhara, this fabulous Silk Route Town was really one of the highlights of travelling through Central Asia’s “Stan Territory”. Superb mosques, photogenic markets with people from all sorts of places (some Caucasian, some Mongolian, some Russian, some Middle East, some Arabian…You name it, Samarkand’s got it!)

    Bukhara, Uzbekistan. (See above – though the cities are both unique in its own right)

    Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan. Margilan and neighbouring bigbrother Fergana are both relaxed, and socially + culturally interesting town in the hot and fertile Fergana Valley in Eastern Uzbekistan. A visit to the silk factory in Margilan is a great experience…

    Osh, Kyrgyzstan. It’s the people of Osh in the Kyrgyz south western lowlands that make this pleasant city unforgetable. I just couldn’t stop taking shots of the “hat men” at the market which is the largest and most crowded outdoor market in all of Central Asia.

    Kochkor, Kyrgyzstan. To me all of Kyrgyzstan was extremely alluring and interesting, photographically and personally. In this Kyrgyz League of Kings, Kochkor hits the top when it comes to village life, quant Russian cars, “hat men” and other kinds of Canon-goodies. I loved it here.

    Karakol, Kyrgyzstan. Karakol is bigger and hasn’t quite got the village feeling that Kochkor boasts. But it’s weekly animal market is a fantastic event and definitely worth seeing. Lake Issyk-Kul is nearby as is great trekking opportunities in the Tian Shan mountains…

    Kashgar, Western China. I might run out of “this is my famourite city-statements” but Kashgar truly is one of the greatest, most interesting and colourful (demographically) cities, I’ve ever been to. The different faces of the city today easily reflects the turbulent, multicultural history of Kashgar. The Sunday market and – in particular – the livestock market (with the odd camel for sale) is lively and extremely EOS battery consuming. Trigger happy is my name!

    Kathmandu, Nepal. Presentation not needed here. Kathmandu is, always was, and hopefully always will be, the photographer’s Top of the Pops playground. The colours, the scents & smells (not always rose-like), the hustle & bustle, the genuinity of the capital, the food (don’t be too adventurous here, though), the mix of local and foreign traveller faces – Kathmandu is something special to me.

    Battambang, Cambodia. This bigger, yet pretty sleepy town in Western Cambodia was a real surprise to me. Just wandering around the city centre, easily managable on foot, was a big pastime for me while I was there. Heaps of temples and monasteries with novice monks in their orange robes spice up this town that has a very bloody, recent history.

    Dien Bien Phu, NW Vietnam. The North Western corner of Vietnam was by far my favourite part of Vietnam. The scenery, the colourful minority people, the markets (again), the relative isolation really make it worthwhile to venture here. Dien Bien Phu has a fairly big minority population – and most people don’t really mind having their photo taken…That, I like!

    Sa Pa, NW Vietnam. The same thing goes for Sa Pa in the most northern part of Vietnam, right on the Chinese border. Though heavily visited, Sa Pa and the surrounding hill tribe villages among evergreen rice terraces are amazing. Don’t just stick to the beaten path around here.

    Louang Prabang, Laos. There’s a certain feel good-atmosphere in LP that I really like. It’s situated right on the mighty Mekong River and is – compared to it’s popularity with travellers – a very relaxed and chilled place. Photo options galore in the tiny streets and alleys that radiate from the main street in the town centre. A trip to the other side of Mekong is a joyful day trip.

    Xam Nua, NE Laos. I found most of rural Laos a real gem photographically. Xam Nua is situated in the rolling (killer!) hills in the NE corner, close to the Vietnamese border, and has a great mix of hill tribe people scattered around town. The (very) early morning market is a feast, for the eye as well as the stomac (if you fancy a bit of exotic cuisine).

    Northern Thailand. I spent around 6 weeks in this region and I totally fell in love with it. The people are wonderful, the history of the area is interesting, the food super delicious and rediculously cheap, the surrounding mountain areas with waterfalls, minority hill tribes, elephants etc. make an ideal day out on a hired scooter. Chiang Mai is for me one of the greatest cities on earth.

    Georgetown, Malaysia. Asian food markets make a big chapter in my book, and Georgetown (or Penang) in NW Malaysia has its fair share. The food is just as varied as the people’s faces.

    Java, Indonesia . Totally underrated, my month cycling across Java was the South East Asian highlights for me. Outside of the few tourist areas (Mt. Bromo, Yogyakarta, Solo, Bogor, and – to a certain degree – Bandung) it’s virtually just you and 130+ mio Javanese and some of the most fascinating islands I’ve seen. Volcanoes, surreal crater lakes, mud pools, rice terraces, thousands of “Hello, Mr.” (could do without’em) from an always interested and in-your-face-attitude from the locals – Java’s got it all.

    West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. The Islands of Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, and Timor have their own flavour and ambience. Though travelling in this region is slightly rough and not for everyone, I really enjoyed the “Indonesian Wild West” feeling attached to most of these islands. The people are incredibly friendly and welcoming, and you actually don’t need any zoom lens for your camera, ‘cos people love to have their photos taken.

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