Category Archives: General

Good Bye and Good Luck

screenshot_476ListI thought it would be fitting to look back a little before stopping the updates to this blog. Being a bit of a nerd, I checked how many visits the blog actually got while we were away.

During the last 6 months the blog was viewed about 10000 times, or about 55 times per day. You all came from 50 different countries, not suprisingly mostly from Germany and the U.S. But some of you are from more exotic locals, we even got hits from Kazakhstan, Mozambique, Iran or Mongolia.

Meanwhile, our photostream on flickr was viewed 70000 times while we were gone, on average our pictures are viewed 388 times every day.

Currently about twenty people find this blog (via various search terms) every day. The traffic on our blog for the 2009 trip is a bit lighter, but even now, four years afterwards, we get mails from readers asking for tips or recommendations. We did the same when we prepared for our trips, so feel free to contact us via the contact tab above.

Until then, Namskaar, Good-Bye, Sawatdee and Allahaismarladik!

screenshot_478

The Best and Worst of Times

So what were our best experiences and which ones the worst? As we were sitting around the breakfast table on our last day of the trip, each talked about what he liked the best and least. Surprisingly, we all came up with pretty much the same list:

The best of times …:9282326272_e58c8bd653_o

Everest trek – We all agreed on it as the best time during the five months. Of course it was a great accomplishment to reach base camp, but both Finn and I thought that the week the two of us had together (while waiting for the girls to come back down) was very memorable as well. Spectacular scenery, very friendly people, great hiking … I’m sure we’ll be back yet again.

Beaches of Cape Tribulation – We weren’t all that impressed by the beaches we saw in Queensland, with the notable exception of Cape Tribulation. Wild, uncrowded, beautiful … as one of the guide books put it “where the rainforest meets the sea”.

Helicopter flight above Ayers Rock – We didn’t quite know about Uluru … we had heard everything from “once in a lifetime experience” to “just a big rock”. In our opinion, the combination of the rock and its setting is what makes Ayers Rock so spectacular. It’s all by itself in hundreds (thousands) of square miles of nothingness. And for us, the best way to get a sense of it in that setting was to see it from above.

Snorkelling – Maybe our most expensive day of all … but in the end the trip out to the Great Barrier Reef was worth it.

Bangkok – A great city in every respect … extreme, diverse and interesting. And when we had enough, we came home to the spectacular apartment we had rented and went for a swim in the pool high above the city.

The kids realising how lucky they are – Unlike some of our previous trips, we didn’t see a lot of poverty during these five months. But there were a few moments in Nepal, when the kids seemed to realise how lucky they are to live where we do. I remember one particular evening when we were walking through the backstreets of Kathmandu and saw some kids in ragged cloths that were living on the street and sniffing glue as we walked by. They were about Lara’s age and she grabbed my hand and said “daddy, I am really lucky!”. I know, I know, it sounds like a corny movie scene, but during the trip she even changed her “what do you want to be when you grow up” answer from teacher to doctor … who knows. Finn, by the way, is still firmly on the astronaut track.

… and the worst of times:

8932057164_ffed4b6737_o

Finn being sick at altitude – Almost two weeks into our trek, we were in Dingboche, at 4500 meters altitude and it was very very cold. Finn had been complaining about his stomach and, as it was getting dark outside, was beginning to vomit. Not once, not twice, but pretty much all night long. Altitude sickness? A stomach bug? Something he ate? Throughout the night we felt him getting weaker and by morning we were scared. Should we let him rest for a day? Should we walk down with him? Call a helicopter? It turned out to be a virus in the end and he was able to (barely) walk down by himself. But that night Anna and I were wondering whether we had maybe taken it (him) too far.

The tightness of the camper van – We underestimated how cramped the camper vans would feel after eight weeks. They were the size of a VW bus, mostly well thought out …. but in the end it’s just not enough space for four people and their bags. It would have been fine for a week or two, but eight weeks felt like a long long time in such a constrained space. Looking back, we should have rented a larger model and saved ourselves a lot of frustration.

A bus ride in Darwin – After a nice dinner downtown, we took a public bus back to our camp site in the evening. During the next stop, a group of very drunk aboriginals got on the bus and almost immediately became very aggressive towards a completely innocent passenger … they seemed to have an issue with him being Asian and their vocabulary wasn’t exactly child friendly. Within a minute, one of them got off his chair and started hitting his victim, thank God he was too drunk to be very effective at it. The others were cheering him on. As you can imagine, our kids were pretty shocked at what they saw playing out right in front of them. We got off at the next stop, but Finn was very shaken and wanted to talk about it for a long time afterwards. Even now, two months afterwards, he still brings it up once in a while.

And then there is one that that belongs into both, the best and the worst category:

Being so close to each other for so long – With a few short exceptions (maybe an hour or two), we were never more than a few meters away from each other for more than 150 days in a row. Disagreements turn into arguments faster, which in turn seem to more easily escalate into fights. It’s not that we argued more than we usually do, all of us actually got on quite well with each other. It just seemed that the times we did end up in a fight, the close physical proximity made it hard to “walk away” from them (and each other). On the other hand, all four us us (including the kids) where very aware of what a special chance this trip was to see and experience things together and as a family … creating memories that I’m sure will stick with us for a long time.

image7

We’re back!

Image

Back home after five months. A big thank you to our friends and neighbours … who not only picked us up from the airport, but had us over for dinner and stocked our fridge.

EUR 782 for 158 days and the four of us

I just arranged our medical insurance for the trip. It covers everything (even medevacs), has no deductible, and is valid worldwide (except the U.S. and Canada) … all for 1.5 US$ per person per day. Not bad, considering it costs over EUR 600 to insure the family every month here in Germany.

Let’s hope that we’ll never use it.

Note from Lara

_DSC8601 - Version 2I found this Post-It note on the floor in front of our bed room this morning. Looks like Lara is looking forward to the trip 🙂

For the non-German speakers, it roughly translates to: “Hey Mom, Dad and Finn only 55 days until the world trip!”

Unfortunately, she’s off by a few days and we have less than 50 days left to get everything sorted out.

20130122-122124.jpg

Ute will be joining us for a while

2009-02-04 09-58-47 2009-02 PeruGreat news today!

Ute, our good friend and constant “travel buddy”, will be joining the adventure for a few weeks and go trekking with us in Nepal.

We’ve already travelled together in Alaska, throughout the American West, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru and Bali … and have spent many a weekend in the Alps as well.

We used to live in the same town, but she moved away for work and is now living a few hours away from us … and we just don’t see each other much anymore.

So looking forward to us getting together for a bit of travelling again!

This blog … and how to follow us

I think this time around the blog will be quite different than what I did in 2009. Back then, I spent a lot of time (while travelling) to write longish posts and post-process pictures on the laptop. Looking back, I think I obsessed a bit too much about what to write and which pictures to pick.

This time there will be more posts, they will be shorter and the pictures won’t be as processed … more “Facebook and twitter style” instead of a short story.

So why use a blogging platform at all and not just post directly to Facebook? Because I hate the closed nature of Facebook. It’s almost impossible to share posts outside the system (e.g. via e-mail), they have very questionable terms of service when it comes to how content can be used by them … and not all of our friends are even on Facebook (a shocker, I know!)

Using a semi-open platform like WordPress will make it much easier to “suck out” the content after the trip and use it elsewhere (e.g. to create a photo diary at the push of a button).

In an ideal world, everyone would leave Facebook, get on some open platform and we’d all be using RSS to follow each other. Unfortunately not everyone understands RSS, so here are a few options to follow the blog and us:

1. You have no idea what either RSS or Facebook is, and don’t want to know either:

Sign up to get an e-mail every time we post. Just click on the grey “Follow” button on the upper right. Fill in your e-mail address and you will get a mail asking you to confirm the subscription. Last time this option proved surprisingly popular and we had 69 people following us via e-mail updates.

2. You don’t know what RSS is, but you have a Facebook account (and are already a “friend” of mine):

In this case you don’t need to do anything. You’ll see an automatic Facebook update from me every time we post to this blog. Click on the update and it will take you to the referenced post.

3. You’re like me and much prefer getting your news via RSS instead of Facebook:

Just click on the link to the RSS feed for entries on the lower right of this page. Done. You should get my updates in your favourite reader (I personally like to use Reeder on iOS and the Mac, which syncs with Google reader).