05.11.10 - Shimizu, Hokkaido/Japan
Konnichiwa! It was only the beginning when the thermometer dropped a few degrees. The big cold hit us once we arrived in Japan.
We have been cruising about Hokkaido for the last two weeks and enjoyed the vastness of northern Japan. Considering the fact that this part of the country is situated on the same degree of latitude as Nizza it is considerably colder than we expected. The temperatures dropped well under the freezing point at night and after 4 pm it was already getting dark. Being not exactly early birds, you can surely imagine that our days did not turn out to be particularly long :-) Nonetheless, three things made travelling so far remarkably pleasant, despite the harsh weather conditions. The people here are incredibly courteous and accommodating, itā€™s basically possible to pitch up the tent anywhere (no matter if itā€™s on a parking lot at the roadside, in the city park or on the golf course) and the best, with some luck on our side we sometimes found an Onsen (hot spring) to jump into - Itā€™s a bliss to warm up the fatigued limbs.
We are now heading southwards and hoping that the icy north winds and the tropical typhoons have not blown away the colourful foliage from the trees yet. Have a pleasant autumn every one - sayonara!
16.10.10 - Shanghai, China
Nihao! In Singapore we triaged our lugguage and sent two big boxes ahead to Japan in order to save the horrendous overweight charges at the airport. Meanwhile we took the detour via Shanghai.
It was raining and a freezing twenty degrees ā€“ what a climatic shock after the heat of Singapore. Nevertheless, these were ideal conditions for spending a day at the EXPO. Together with about half a million (mostly domestic) visitors we filed-in at the very long queues - for pavilions and installations which were not always worth the effort. The following three days we met up with friends living in Shanghai and strolled throughout the metropolis with its many fascinating distinctive quarters. And of course we did not miss out on our daily overdose of dumplings :-P We rarely saw our bunks in the youth hostel, too much did we come under Shanghais spell: Asian liveliness, futuristic sky scrapers, European flair, Far Eastern smells and dishes, Chinese order and chaos. We simply loved it!
Tomorrow weā€™ll catch the flight to Sapporo. Two dumplings go sushi ā€“ stay tuned!
26.09.10 - Kuta, Bali/Indonesia
Selamat! One month is undoubtedly not enough time to visit Indonesia thoroughly. Therefore, we decided to leave our Tandem behind and limit ourselves to only a few of all the islands.
We landed in Surabaya were we inhaled a Gudam Garam (sugared clove flavored cigarette) and the fuming smoke of Gunung Bromo (volcano). A bus ride through the night with connection to a ferry brought us to Bali. Next stop Nusa Lembongan by speedboat, then a short stay on Gili Air, Lombok and finally Flores. Our pace was high and thanks to tourism high season we were compelled to stick to a schedule, which dictated exactly when we should be where to do whatever we came for: Sunrise at the volcano, diving at the Marine National Park, exploring the surroundings by motorbike, transfer by boat, bus or plane. There was hardly a break saying: sleeping in, relaxing in a hammock, reading...
We are now back in Bali, full of new impressions but also a bit exhausted. We are looking forward to slowing down our travel pace to normal level, cruising about by tandem and exploring new places as the mood takes us. We are soon leaving the tropics, after having spent ten months here. After a short stopover in Singapore and Shanghai we are finally steering towards Nippon. Banzai!
28.08.10 - Singapore
As we crossed the dam to Singapore we felt almost like coming come. The fortress like border checkpoint, the polished clean streets, the neatly clipped hedges, the well organized traffic, nearly everything forbidden. What a relief!
We were invited to stay with our lovely Filipino friends and were very warmly welcomed. Quick enough did we learn about their credo: never skip a meal! Very soon we found ourselves fattened ;-) Street food, Sushi-Bars, Emmenthaler, sourdough bread and Swiss Chocolate did the rest of the job. We met up with friends and former working colleagues and roamed about the city to see what had changed during the last one and a half years. Temptations to be stuck here were on the rise ...
But, we managed to pull ourselves together, make a plan and continue our travels! Firstly, we will explore Indonesia by island hopping and after that we will be heading to Japan.
30.07.10 - Malacca, Malaysia
Selamat! Our time in Malaysia nears already to the end ā€“ only a few more days to go and we will be ā€˛homeā€¯ again!
As usual, we stayed longer than expected on Koh Tao/Thailand. Once in Malaysia, Georgetown held us instantly in its spell. We strolled around the old town for hours and kept finding loads of pretty alleys to snoop about. It was totally multicultural: british-chinese-indian-malay, which reflected especially in the meals. We couldnā€™t get enough of that Chicken-Tikka Masala with lots of Naan...
After that we headed southwards along the east coast. It was really pleasant, the people distinctively friendly and talkative. We often cycled through big palm groves and most of the time the traffic was bearable whenever we didnā€™t have to cycle along the highway :-S Two minor stops on Perhentian and Tioman Island for the purpose of diving and relaxing eased up our program. The big rain was breathing down our necks and therefore, we stepped on the gas.
In Malacca we are again indulging some culture: meaning architecture and gastronomy. We are now only a stoneā€™s throw away from Singapore, where the similar program will await us ā€“ well, maybe the tendency will be more on the foodie side ;-) We are longing for Chilli Crab, Chicken Rice, but most especially of all, we are so excited to see our friends again!