Shoemans Trail

The quest for liberation

Tag: Rain

Komodo – Dragon tales

I went for a daytrip to Rinca island to see the Komodo dragons, I also wanted to see the flying bats in the evening and as this is not a typical tourist program I ended up chartering a boat for a day- felt good to be in control of the trip and not depending on the tour operator!
The biggest lizards on earth belong actually to the monitor lizard family and without any natural enemies on the islands in and around the national park they could get that big, as usual in the theory of island gigantism, the largest male measured 3 meters and weighting 70 kg!
The animals are only active during the cooler hours of the day, the other time they lay around pretty lazy, so it’s hard to track them down in the wild after say 10 o’clock, that’s why I only got to see them near the ranger station.
The snorkelling at Tempe island was nice, of course I’ve already seen the marine life during diving but considering it a normal snorkel session without prior experience, it was pretty sweet! The best was the beach walk though, especially along the rocks. Some goats are also living on the island and they were checking me out as I was dancing on a rock when the sun reappeared behind the clouds and kicked the rain away.
The best moment of the day was just after sunset when hundreds of thousands of flying fruit bats return to their sleeping place on Flores and leave Kalor island one after the other, a lovely spectacle. I was climbing on the roof of the boat, laying down and gazing at the sky as batmen were flying right above, whhooohooo!
On our way back I was playing with the light over the waters and plenty of fish jumping looking for the light and trying to catch it.

Komodo Nation Park is just a lovely piece of land, so many thing to do and see, I loved every bit!

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…

North Andaman – further off the beaten track

Directly the first night when we arrived at Kalipur, we could see a turtle nesting, we were so lucky as she was right there, starting the dig when we came to the beach – it’s a long procedure! First a hole needs to be dug, then the 130 eggs need to be laid and then the hole needs to be covered with sand and camouflaged – it was great to watch the creature that seems a bit lost on land.

We had quite some rainy days up north, I was longing for rain since months but as soon as it rained for a couple of hours I felt the negative vibes spreading, also no bikes available in Diglipur, the main town around, to explore the area on our own, we first decided to treat ourselves! Nice mango lassi and falooda (a cold sweet as hell beverage) – with that sugar intake the clouds went away and we embarked the rickshaw to visit the mud volcanos – a natural phenomenon of the area. Probably the best short jungle walk on a small narrow trail on the island and every 10 min a grayish spot with bubbling mud in the form of a volcano, the tallest of them being a meter in height, it’s the gas that makes the trick, you can actually light it and it will go up in a small fireball – I learned that after our visit though 😉

A proper hill, “Saddle Peak” with 732 meter the highest spot in the Andamans is just close by, it’s a good day hike. The first 3 kilometer we went along the beach, the wind was pushing big waves ashore, the roaring sound of the ocean was following us constantly – I never saw the Andaman sea so rough, not even in Thailand. The next 5 km were a steep climb up the hill with lots of roots and man-made steps through thick jungle with an awesome amount of butterflies and other insects, crabs and lovely birds – the forest was very much alive. The weather changed during our ascent – big clouds moving in blocking the view once we made it to the top, we could still see some islands off the coast but also big rain clouds wettening the land and the sea further east. On our way down we went right through the clouds and the nebula around with all the moos covered trees made me feel hiking New Zealand! It was a demanding hike we enjoyed it even with the clouds and the rain.

The other day we went snorkeling around Craegy Island – it took us 30 min to swim across, we properly explored the island and it’s rocky north east facing cliff, snorkeling was good with alive and colorful coral, even though the visibility wasn’t great, the second session the waters were more clear to spot bigger fish, snakes, squid and big ass coral – another sweet day in paradise and Thomas’ last, it’s been a pleasure my friend – see you again this year!

With Fotini and Warren the lovely Greek/American couple who always had a story to tell about almost every topic and Rachel and Sam from the UK two full on happy guys who always had a smile and a joke for everyone around, I went on a day trip to Ross & Smith Island. Two islands joined by a small stretch of sand in between which makes it easy to walk between the two. Smith is the bigger one and I walked along the beach to find a deserted recreation spot, of course I took a rest. Ross Island is rather small and no people linger around – being a wildlife sanctuary, still some good photo opportunities with jungle vines can be found 🙂
And the sandy bank that connects both of the white sandy beauties is screaming for a swim on either side, one more shallow and calm, the other rough and deep – of course I dipped in both – surrounded by ocean and the beach in the middle, just awesome!

With Rachel and Sam I also went diving, we explored the area around the left side of Stoney Island with awesome visibility, directly greeted by a sting ray and big schools of small fish, it was my first exploration dive and we had lots of fun! The second dive was at “Hard Rock Café”, the perfect reef off Craegy where Thomas and me snorkeled before, but this time we had better visibility and the perfect guide. Neil showed us around, he was also the one naming the dive site – now we all know why the name 😉 Beautiful intact coral, the biggest I’ve seen, coral walls reaching from 2 to 10 meter below the surface with active reef life happening all around. Soft coral, anemones with colonies of clown fish, moray with the cleaner shrimp, eel, snails, the smallest fish I’ve ever seen, 2 millimeter black with yellow dots – the macro life a reef has to offer is as splendid as the big stuff that can be seen – swimming with 20 humphead parrotfish measuring 1,5 m in size was just another magical moment.
For the next dives with Daniel and Erez we went to explore the right hand side off Stoney Island, Daniel called the site “Ray Rock” as he was the one to spot the biggest Bloached Fantail Ray ever, with 2 meter wingspan easily – a giant among us! The fish life was exploding all around – such an untouched site, feeling good to be part of the first season the diving has opened at Kalipur. The instructor Hanna and her boyfriend Neil a dive master had very much influence on the great dives we had, easy and relaxed and smiling all the time it was the best and longest dives for me in the Andaman’s! It’s been a sweet ride with all of you divers – cheers for the fun!

The people and the great outdoors made me stay for a longer time. In the end I even met 2 guys from Berlin and we had a German evening with spicy Indian food! And of course there was Alex the all-round talent and resort owner, he could organize everything, he played doctor fixing small wounds, he’s a chef training local guys to cook and in the evening he played the music and else he did what he could do best – entertain everyone! He’s spreading such a good energy and we had deep talks and lots of laughs, when I ever make it back to this lovely piece of land I’ll come to the farm on Smith Island – I’ll take your word for granted Alex 😉

Cheers to all the good people of the two weeks in Pristine Beach Resort, it was a very social time and just the right vibe I needed for my last days in Incredible India, well and not to forget – the fabulous coconut panna cotta @ Pristine did the rest and we ate it all 😉

The next adventure will wait for me in Indonesia, I’m already travelling 4 month now and when looking back it was intense and so diverse. I’ve been to mountains, beaches, so many cities, towns & villages, I was partying quite a bit, spent quality time on my one, let my spirit rise a couple of times and found new friends along the trail – most of the goals I set for myself are reached but I feel there is something waiting ahead I’ll keep my senses alert and my mind sharp, ready to take off!

Long Island – On Robinson’s trail

On the ferry to Long Island I met Thomas from Switzerland, we instantly connected and somehow I was pretty sure we would travel together for the next days – of course that happened 😉

So after a good first chat on deck out in the sea breeze the ferry went to Straight Island, which is off the tourist trail, it’s the home if the Great Andamanes an ancient tribe almost extinct with only 43 members left – just a hand full of people enter – we were not even allowed to take pictures!
The ferry then took us to Long Island. Only 1 guest house for tourists is established, there is not much to do over here, living the Robinson life that’s what the guidebook says, actually there is a small village just by the jetty and it feels good the moment we disembark!
There are just two four wheelers on the island used to transport goods plus a handful of motorbikes, it’s a 20 minutes’ walk to Blue Planet Guest House on concrete trails through the jungle – simple island life with friendly people almost every little wooden house has a proper garden attached, the locals are hiding from the sun but venture out in the evening. The youth is busy at the football field where a couple of hours before the horses had fun with themselves 🙂 We saw a sea snake eating a crab right on the beach at low tide, which must have been a proper sunset feast.

After our visit at the forest department we got the permit for the walk to Lailaji bay, 90 minutes through the jungle with some good old trees – a nice little stroll.
The bay is a lovely stretch of white sand with some huts in the back that give a little shade, but you can find lovely spots underneath some big trees or palms as well, the waters just as splendid as in Havelock – the only difference we’re the only guests on the beach together with the lovely Finnish couple Hanu and Tiana. We tried some snorkelling off the rocks first but were not lucky finding the reef, it was a bit dangerous with the waves crushing at the rocky coast but we managed to get in and out in one piece. Later on we found the reef just the left hand side from the sandy stretch of the beach. In the shallow waters you can see colourful coral and small fish – it’s nice but not superb.
We decided to directly move on to North Andaman and not stay any longer for diving or hanging around, I had a feeling it wouldn’t be better than this and Thomas was running out of time on his trip. Up north the diving supposed to be the best in the Andamans so we went with the 7 a.m. ferry to Rangat, the best ferry ride of my life took us through thick forest of mangroves and lasted 1 hour such a peaceful journey in the early morning it felt like meditation.
From Rangat a rusty bus took us the rest of the way up north, 150 km in 5,5 hours, lots of curves, bad road conditions, lots of passengers squeezing in – a typical Indian bus experience 🙂 The road snaked along the coast and took us through thick mighty jungle, we smelled heavy rains and felt it just a glimpse of an eye later on – the first proper rain since the Nepali snow for me, the air stood thick and tropical this time!

Of course all windows were open in the bus and we had a little rain coming through, as it was one of the old busses, sent away from mainland, good enough to serve its last decades on the islands and lacking all comfort….
We were so done in the evening but if you want to go to the end of the world, where civilization is  scattered and the village becomes random houses along the small bumpy track, hidden in palms and thick bush, you take it as an adventure and the real adventure was just about to begin…

A short ride to Bengas Tal and around

After a brilliant get together with takeshi from japan, whom i met in varanassi the first time, colin from great britain and mat from new zealand who stay also at our lovely gauri shankar guesthouse (cheers for the philosophical evening guys!!!) and hugo, a french guy just coming back from the trek we decided to go by bike to the next lake which is just 15 km away, in the end it was mat and me again riding along and it was fun.

we got the bikes for a whole day, they’ve seen better days but we got a good deal.
mainly we rode all along the highway which is not that busy right now as of the missing petrol. just a couple of buses, vans and taxis crossed our way every now and then, a lot of bicycles though…
ohh yeah ridin’ a bike in nepal, who would have guessed? 🙂

all the way downhill, a couple of turns and 50 min later we arrived in a very tranquil place, children gambling with dice, fishermen scaling a fish and no hassle from the few shops.
we took a very small footpath around the lake and then uphill as it got steep and muddy on the shores, there were a lot of fern and small trees, wildlife fully vibrant swinging to the beating sound of machine like grasshoppers. we met dave who just took a brake from work and also didn’t came here before, once we arrived at the top and investigated the empty and locked house we enjoyed the lookout over the rice fields around the village.

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No way walking further along the path we got back and tried the other way to get around the lake, across the dam following the trail, we discovered a sweet restaurant with a beautiful lookout over the lake and the surrounding hills, that kind of place you don’t wanna leave when arrived. the fish curry was good and the beer quenching 🙂
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After we took our time we rode and pushed our bikes uphill as the road was too steep, soaking wet when arriving atop a local bus just passed, of course locals prefer the bus, rather then the walk
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a few bends further down we saw nothing but brilliant nature, bengas lake and the area could also be somewhere in new zealand, well the big mountains hide behind a thunderstorm…
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we should get back…
along the road multiple tea houses and men building a big swing out of bamboo – 7 meter tall – this is what you do for the festival of dashain to have the children playing with the swing, and i did so too!
there are more things to discover about the most important festival in nepal,
who wants to read more about it, go ahead: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dashain

halfway back on the highway we got rained in heavily, soaking wet after 1 minute riding we just kept on going, it’s just water!
literally 5 cars and 5 cows roaming the highway that time, well 1 truck as well but that one just blocked the way as it was damaged and needed repair, this is what you do directly on the road in nepal, there are no tow trucks!

almost around town the sun made it’s way through a tiny window of clouds, just to give us a last push, some clouds on the mountainside cleared to reveal only the top of a 7000er.
it really ain’t that bad riding a bike in nepal even though it rains heavily!

World Peace Pagoda

I made friends with Matthew a kiwi from new plymouth in lovely aotearoa, we got on quite well and took a hike up the hill to the worlds peace pagoda.
Anyone interested in more info about the stupa, follow the link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanti_Stupa,_Pokhara

First we got a boat to the start of the trail and managed to climb the steep hill in under an hour, taking our time though.shanti stupa

the views from atop were just magnificent, although a thunderstorm was rolling in slowly.
Pokhara is actually widespread but all the touristy part is happening in lakeside so all the 2k stretch along the lake. you’ll see the highest peak on the ridge in front, that will be sarangkot the lookout i went to and also the start for paragliding activities as such. hidden in the mountain the mighty peaks, but from the pagoda came a different deeper vibe. always go around clockwise!
pokhara from shanti stupa

we went further for a small lunch break and enjoyed the view, a dog was chilling just 2 meters away, i called him and he came! he didn’t like our nuts but enjoyed our company 🙂 so when the 2nd big thunder rolled in we decided to head back down, our little friend was following us and the rain just started we found cover and waited a bit. in our little shack were a tourist couple and an older nepali who couldn’t speak english, everyone waited until the rain settled and without any word we all went our separate ways.
further down the stony steps which were all in different shape and texture made out of sliced himalayan boulders, the dog still following we decided to give him a name: stupa, we formed a pack, hell yeah!
So here were we, coming down to town in light summer rain, stupa just guarding our backs checking left and right and after a while in town finally we lost him, too many other, more important things in dog life…

a crazy thing we saw after checking the roaring waterfalls, the buddha robotic museum, it was 30% off so we paid 200 rupies, little less then 2 euro and we got to see the lifestory of siddhartha gautama the buddha, thats the one you might just know as buddha, which means the awakened and in modern culture is often referred as enlightened.
so there were 10 rooms and every room had a different setting, most of the times full sized puppets were standing or sitting at a different scene, you get headphones and the operator starts the show, like a theater without actors, the puppets were robotic instead and every now and then they were moving their arms when speaking or twist their body, the volume of the machines moving was louder than the headphones so that was quite funny but after 10 rooms everything is told and you’re calmed down as it’s recommend closing the eyes and breathing consciously when the show as over in of some of the rooms.

it took us a 40 min walk back to our guesthouse gauri shankar and as we were rolling through damside, cutting through the park at the water and entering lakeside the sun was just about to set, lightening the clouds in a brilliant colorful way.

May we all live in bliss, AUM SHANTI …

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