Shoemans Trail

The quest for liberation

Tag: Monkey

Pulau Weh – Back to island life

I went to Pulau Weh by plane, Pulau is the Indonesian word for island. Flying over Sumatra was just gorgeous, lush green hills and bigger mountains of Gunung Leuser National Park and the northern province of Aceh, so beautiful from above! The half crowded propeller plane touched the tarmac of the country’s most northern island after an hour’s flight. Let the adventures begin!

Despite of relaxing on the beach, snorkeling and scuba diving, there is not that much to do, perfect conditions with 20+ dive sites, just around the corner. I did another 10 dives at Lumba Lumba Dive Center and was directly greeted by the owners Marjon & Ton when checking in. I met more lovely people during my stay, Sanni from Berlin a very relaxed Dive Master – how come I meet so many Berliners the last 2 weeks, something the universe wants to tell me? 🙂 I also dived with Phoebe & Lee and the Pro’s Johan, Sophie, Stefanie & Mike helped me with some diving theory. The diving buddy I got most comfortable with is Jean-Pierre, we spent value time above and below the surface, cheers for the sweet talks with never ending topics and to seeing A LOT OF SHIT down below 😉 great diving, always a pleasure.
Jean-Pierre and Lee were also the ones who joined me on my first beer after 50+ days of cleansing and being straight, perfect to start drinking again with an Irish and a Belgium friend, I felt quite drunk after the first sips; in the end I had three Beer when staggering to my bed 😉

During the dives I saw multiple moray eels – honey comb, zebra, black and spotted ones, banded sea snakes, different sizes of puffer fish, multiple stingrays & octopus, black tip reef sharks, different shrimp, jelly fish, multiple lobster, coddle fish, scorpion fish, stone fish, sea turtles as well as big fan corals, brain corals, multiple soft corals, anemone’s and many more – lovely underwater scenery with big drops and dark blue waters, different as in the Andaman’s, so yeah it’s been great!

If you dig the music, check out my friends soundcloud page: https://soundcloud.com/m-inc-to

My diving is getting better as does my skills on the scooter, when not floating underwater I rode along the rebuilt roads. Almost 8 years after the devastating Boxing Day tsunami, which hit the island pretty badly with lots of damage in infrastructure, it’s slowly improving. Perfect biking conditions now, many curves and hills, the street snakes up and down, left and right. Some sweet beaches on the way and brilliant lookouts were to be found, but still the island is not that developed which adds a unique feel and on top the locals are so friendly, greeting, waving hands as I pass by, especially when leaving the big road and riding the small trails through villages. The monkeys along the road just waiting for food, otherwise they leave. Sometimes I even saw guys with rifles, but no worries, they just go on the animal hunt – for dinner, of course 😉

On the northern tip of Weh I found kilometre 0, the first kilometre of the country, a monument is being built for 2 years already I wonder when they finally finish…

Also the food is great, a lot of seafood, at lunch times the local eateries have some kind of buffet with rice, vegetables, chicken and fish curry – very yummy and good value for the money. Plus finally avocado is growing here, not to be found in India I get my dosage now every day, the juice is so delicious, you can also add chocolate sauce, or get a salad – mhh come and get some!
One more thing, the rain! It’s raining quite a bit, still alright with temperatures round the 30’s – now I see why it’s called rainforest 😉

It’s been a wonderful week with awesome people, sweet diving, surrounded by natural beauty – a perfect start to the land of the many islands, I’ll keep on walking…

Hampi – Golden rock city

After the glorious Hyderabad days I went to Hampi, getting back in the travel rhythm and exploring the old capital Vijayanagar founded by a Telugu prince in the 13 hundreds which became 3 centuries later one of the biggest Indian empires giving home to half a million people, times changed and the surreal landscape with its temples and boulders is a much quieter place now, tourists took over and rock climbers found a perfect playground.
Last time I’ve been here 9 month ago and stayed with Katja on the southern side of the river called Hampi Bazaar, a little busy village close to the temples, we explored the temples for one day and went away, that didn’t do justice to the otherworldly place! This time I wanted to see the other area north of the river called the island or Virupapur Gaddi, it’s more tranquil and close to some very fine bouldering sites with not that much temple tourism.
Siddhu and Chitra who’s wedding I attended in Hyderabad were born and grew up around here, so they know almost everything about the place and being on their honeymoon of course they came for a visit and booked me a small hut at Goan Corner, also Nivy and Lohit the other freshly married couple were there, what a nice surprise! Good times 🙂
When I arrived by bus I was still sleepy. Travelling in a night bus in India is an experience one need to make, it was not the first I took but I still prefer the train, much more calm and not that much disturbances during the night.
After the morning prayers with elephants also going for a wash in the slow currents, the ferry service was working and I could cross the Tungebhadra river to check in and have a rest. Lots of tourists again, I wasn’t used to it, hanging around mostly with Indians the last 3 weeks and now hiding in my room for some hours to adopt 🙂

I took it pretty chilled the first days, just relaxing and exploring the nearby rocks and watching the sunset. The next days I widened my circles, visiting hanuman (the monkey god) temple some 500 steps up on the Anjanadri hill. The temple itself is alright but the real star is the lookout, pretty much a 360 view over the valley with some of the most important temples across the river in sight – a perfect place for sunset, and of course meditation AUM!

Most convenient way to get around is renting a motorbike, first I was a bit afraid, but the automatic scooters are easy to handle, traffic is pretty calm, the drivers are super relaxed and everyone pays attention, so I took the bike to explore the area along the fresh water reservoir checking out random temples and around the river, pretty much every hill is climbable without rope and a bit of technique here, I found myself a nice spot to watch the Anegundi ferry crossing and the mellow lights across the rocks when the sun was about to set. Priceless!
I met a couple of nice people during my stay in Goan corner we even got our ears professionally cleaned by a guy who does it for 35 years, felt a bit strange and hurt just a bit, he operates with small metal tools, oil and cotton wool, some ears were dirtier then others, it’s a bit yukky watching him “digging” but the feeling afterwards was amazing, I could hear much more high sounds than before. With Justin from the states I spend a day driving to Gangavathi and later for a relaxing swim in the splendid waters of the reservoir – no there are no crocodiles! A good day with interesting talks, maybe see you around Dresden one time, the Elbsandsteingebirge is also a mystical place!

There was also a small party at night in the rocks with music, bonfire and a lot of bouldering, half of the group was German and the music felt like back home, travellers always go back to their roots but I want to progress…

The golden rocks were treating me so nice this time and I know there is so much more to explore, so who knows I might be back one day!

Kathmandu – Big city life

the capital is the biggest city in the country. twice the population of berlin although not that green in between, to me it’s a mix of indian, nepali and old european cities.
The city has been hit by april’s earthquake pretty hard, still debris is cleared, cracks in masonry and wodden poles supporting houses, so the structure doesn’t collapse. still a lot can be seen, not all is lost and still it’s amazing and beautiful to wander among the ancient walls – just sometimes you get the feeling it will collapse any second…
just by walking around in thamel – the main tourist hub – you see alot of temples, smaller and big in size, the back alleys are fun to explore, every now and then a stupa will come into sight.
durbar square, a former royal area, with a lot of temples, shrines, statues and stupas from different epochs and donated to various goddesses and gods.
of course the near city of patan has a durbar squar as well, now patan is more a suburb of kathmandu, the city is growing fast. i talked to a monk, he told me 5 years ago his monestary in kathmandu was not surrounded by houses and heavy traffic, gentrification knocking at the door…

public transport is existing but just with fully overloaded buses, mini buses or safa car – electrical vehicles going up to 20, roaring speeeed 😉
Tourist transport will include bike rickshaws taxis or organised tour buses – all of those charge you 10 to 20 times more the local transport, with the cheaper although, it’s harder to get around.
first you need to know where their leaving from, all the signs are in nepali – no english script, the shouters – who are conductors as well – shout directions, easy if you’re at the station, which is just a random spot on the main road, and wanna go to a temple, just say it’s name, he will nod or point you somewhere else, if you’re lucky the bus is almost empty and you can choose a spot, go for the ones in front next to the driver cause in the back, 5 min later, there will be twice the amount of people you think that will fit.
Of course more people are picked up along the road…some don’t want to get in the cuddling van though 😉

Soo many other hindu as well as buddihst temples on the cultural heritage list around the city, a lot of old stones, i took my time to appreciated the main ones for each belief, swayambhunath being a buddhist and pashupatinath being a hindu site. both of them got small forests supporting the energy flow.

enough of the words, let the pictures speak further…

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I got robbed…by a monkey

I wanted to escape the beat of the capital city, being in kathmandu, enjoying the last couple of days in nepal. the streets are dusty, you see a lot of face masks, still some cars and bikes are rolling through the narrow lanes of the old city although the petrol is still not running (big cues at each and every petrol pump), now also the gas delivery has stopped so people get back to wood fires for cooking food – you can imagine how the air feels, so i went to breath deeply in the surrounding forest of the swayambhunath temple, also known as monkey temple – i couldn’t enter the compound, a british film crew was shooting a movie/series and the site was closed off.

so i was sitting between the trees, away from the big stairs sipping my delicious mixed fruit juice i just bought, putting it aside and rolling a cigarette. in the meantime a monkey was coming close in stealth mode – i didn’t notice, just as he got close enough, everything happened in fractions of a second, first i was shocked by surprise, damn a monkey, he used my moment and got even closer, grabbed the pack of juice and went 2 leaps back! i thought to myself what was this just now, i want to drink that juice. getting up, approaching the clever little mamal, of course he escaped just to the next tree, sitting at a secure height, starting to rip open the pack and drinking it’s delicious content, delightful in front of my eyes. i couldn’t do anything, just to watch – a bit angry though…

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in the end i smiled and bought a new juice on my way down, so the monkey is happy and I’m too!

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