Thursday, December 3, 2015


I bought a hoodie in Hong Kong and just have to share the tag on it. They claim to be a German brand ;D Google Translate for the win!

If you are not a German speaker and don't understand the text, rest assured we neither :D

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hong Kong (14.10.2015 - 01.11.2015)

Having missed out on Hong Kong until now this was the perfect excuse to stay here some nights on our way home. We had a little (ok ok, all apartments are little in Hong Kong) flat rented over AirBnB right in the trendy (read: expensive) neighbourhood of Soho.
From here we ventured all over this crazed island and its peninsula.

I was amazed over how few traffic there is! After reading up on it I also understood why there were so many expensive cars around. Because there are heavy taxes nobody owns a car. Except the super rich which then don’t drive the next best Toyota but a German brand or some super sports car (yes we saw McLaren, Lamborghini & more for hundreds of thousand dollar worth parked in front of rundown Chinese restaurants…). 
Anyway, nobody drives themselves around but takes either the superb metro, the super cheap tramway (okay, not the fastest way but you get there), one of the many busses or one of the abundant and fair priced taxis.

So we headed over to the mainland into Kowloon and Mong Kong to visit the flower market street (street full of flower and plant shops) and the gold fish street (you guessed it, a street full of aquarium fish stores). Especially the fish stores were a crazy sight: the outsides lined with little plastic bags with tiny fishes or huge aquariums bursting with fish...
A thing you shouldn't miss is the horse races on Wednesday evening. Huge crowds gather to drink, chat and maybe have a look at the race ;). Because every other kind of gambling is illegal the locals go crazy about it. The betting shops all over the city are always full...

To relax from all the city troubles we spent an afternoon on the southeastern side of the island. A tiny bay and beach to relax and forget your just around the corner of a giant city. 
Speaking of giant, the shopping malls...! Every luxury brand in the world seems to be here. With shops big as grocery stores at home. And even more so the Apple Store: two huge floors and still long lines at the entrance. Everybody wants an iPhone... On the street we saw vendors selling them by the dozen like they were candy. And not fake or cheap ones, the prices were more or less the same as in Switzerland. All because the mainland Chinese come for shopping to Hong Kong to avoid the huge luxury tax they have at home. 
Generally, the money we saw people throwing around was crazy o_O. 
Luckily (for us ^^) we found stores for "normal" people as well and could indulge in a bit of shopping without going bankrupt!

The time passed way too fast and it was time to leave... :(

Bamboo scaffolding all the way!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Tao company & foundation

To get from El Nido to Coron in style we booked a trip with Tao. They offer different tours from day trips, private tours and the expedition style we did.
All together we where 23 on the fully booked and just recently renovated (overhauled?) ship. Sounds like much but you have to keep in mind that we didn't sleep on the ship itself but on so called base camps on some lonely islands. These camps, scattered all around the route, consist of some huts, an outdoor shower and toilet, a little kitchen and a communal area.

The day before departure we got briefed and had the chance to buy some beers, rum and pineapple juice for the general drinks pool, so we wouldn’t die of thirst on the remote islands ;) This way nobody had to count beers or hide a stash of rum somewhere. 
Also there they warned us beforehand that we all would gain weight, so true! The food the guys cooked in the little kitchen either on the boat or on the islands was just extraordinary! The best food we tasted in our whole trip (yes, shame on you Hong Kong)!

Also worth mentioning is that most of the food came either from their own farm or got supplied by locals from the islands. Tao company has a foundation which it supports to develop, help and support the local islanders by giving them opportunities to earn a buck and help preserve their tiny islands for the next generation. 
We stayed one night on their farm and had a chance to look around. They explained the different plants they grow, the newly build pig pen (the little piggies get distributed around the islands and then bought back once they are fully grown), the duck and the fish pond.
The foundation tries to spread ideas and techniques like using rice wash for doing the laundry or leaving dead plants over the soil and roots instead of burning it, so it would retain moisture. Because one of the main problems for the islanders is the few fresh water they get, so everything which helps to save and reduce is welcome!

This fusion of old and new ideas is best seen in the huts and buildings they are now building. With new plans is mind (to resist the yearly typhoons) these constructions get built by using local resources (mostly bamboo) and local techniques employed by the fisherman since generations to build their boats.

All in all a good cause! So lets go and have a holiday! :D

Mango Tree - Fish Pond - Papay Tree - Duck Pond

Friday, November 6, 2015

Palawan (29.09.2015 - 08.10.2015)

A mini bus took us up north to El Nido. This (once) laid back village is the entrance to the limestone rocks out in the bay and home to dozens of dive shops. Booming but still small and nice enough we spent some pleasant 6 nights here. During the day we were busy out on or under the sea. Enjoying the amazing landscape (waterscape?) and underwater world. The reefs were still mostly intact and literally swarming with fish!

Our next destination was Coron, 200km north on the island of Busuanga. There is also an island called Coron (right next to it), but the town city is on the other one, don’t know why…

Anyway, after reading some horrible stories on TripAdvisor and hearing first hand from my brother about the crossing from El Nido to Coron we were looking for a more respectable way to do this trip. The little boats need 10 hours and upwards for the crossing. Depending on the motor, weather and if the hull doesn’t leak (too much)… o_O

A bit of googling later I stumbled upon Tao which does the trip stretched over 5 day island by hopping from island to island instead!
Luckily they had a boat going north right when we needed it and I immediately applied for it. Yes there is no direct booking, they want to make sure everybody knows what they are getting into. This is not a cruise ship and accommodation is rather basic. So to avoid any negative reviews in hindsight they discourage anybody which is looking for luxuries like air conditioning and power outlets ;) 

But the following days passed like in a blur! 

Great breakfast was followed by some snorkelling by a deserted island - then some killer snacks - some more snorkelling - a bit of lounging in the shadows - stare out on the sea - have an awesome lunch - more snorkelling - do some reading, more snorkelling - have a nap - get a beer - arrive at the basecamp for the night - get set up - have an outdoor shower - get a pineapple rum drink - eat a killer dinner - have some more drinks by the beach fire and go to sleep in the little huts!

Sadly the time passed way to fast. Coron already in view we stopped a last time for a swim in the Barracuda lake on Coron island. This closed off craters upper layers are fresh water and below it is salty. You can’t imagine how hard it is to swim in fresh water after spending days in the ocean!
So it was time to say goodbye to the crew and head into Coron were we spent another 5 nights. 
Close by a Japanese WW2 support fleet, tasked to build airstrips and so forth, was sunk. In a single day two america aircraft carrier destroyed the whole fleet, resulting in a dozen wrecks scattered in the area. This makes Coron the world capital in wreck diving, wohoo! 

As Melanie isn’t into bad visibility, deep and wreck dives ^^ I had to go alone but it was totally worth it! Most of the wrecks were in quite good condition, considering they are now over 70 years old… All in all I visited six of the twelve wrecks, super dives!

Again time was running out and we flew further up north to Manila. We spent a single night in the old walled city, called Entremuros, literally "behind walls”. It was weird to see the same architecture as in our trip through latin america. Also funny is how still many filipino words have their roots in the Spanish language. For example counting is done in spanish (now slowly getting replaced by english) and there are many Spanish words still in use like abuelo (grandfather), etc

Next stop Hong Kong!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Getting to Palawan (26.09.2015 - 28.09.2015)

As our Cathay Pacific flight from Zurich already left with 3/4 of an hour delay we of course missed our connection flight with them from Hong Kong to Manila. After waiting four hours they put us in an Philippines Airlines flight instead. But of course this flight arrived on another terminal in Manila. Doesn't sound like a big deal do you think? Well the different terminals are kind of independent buildings/airports, connected by bus and taxi. To even have a slight chance we jumped into a cab and drove right into the gigantic traffic jam that is Manila. A lot of honking and overtaking later our taxi driver delivered us with probably a new record time for the distance through traffic. Nevertheless it was to late... Cebu Pacific wouldn't let us board and told us we would have to pay a fee for changing our current travel plans or even buy en entire new flight.
So we consulted the Cathay Pacific desk, as it was their "fault" of delivering us four hours late and on the wrong terminal. Luckily the people there where super friendly and helpfully that in the end their airline organized a new ticket for us to Palawan, even making sure our next flight was still valid. A big thank you here to those guys, other airlines we've flown with just stonewalled us when we had a similar problem (but then again that was in Greece, they aren't doing too well now are they....).
Anyway, our Cebu flight of course was delayed as well. At the time we should have been boarding the plane had barely arrived from its previous flight. When we finally were in the air they started some kind of game where we were supposed to take selfies in the plane to win some famous prize. I didn't see a single one taking a picture, not even the locals ;).
So in the end we made it to Puerto Princesa on Palawan with about eight hour delay, exhausted but happy. And because of our long "stopovers" the luggage even made it ;).

Every Juan!!! :D
The following day we didn't do much besides raiding the ATMs to get cash as our next destination wouldn't have any. After this and some shopping (mainly anti mosquito cream, the stuff they sell in Switzerland is a joke and doesn't help at all) we chilled at the pool. So on the next day we jumped on a mini bus for a six hour ride up north to El Nido!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Expo 2015, Milano (18.09.2015 - 20.09.2015)

As a quick getaway before the "real" holidays Melanie and I headed south to visit the expo. This years motto is Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life which especially interested me, with my little aquaponics setup at home ;)

Taking the train we arrived 3.5 hours and some metro ride later in our lovely AirBnB residence.
Earlyish the next morning we ventured to the expo. The many people luckily dispersed themselves among the many pavilions. Nevertheless were there some quite large queues in front of some nations. For example Japan had a sign that the waiting time would be 150 minutes for the 50 minutes tour! But probably the biggest line was in front of the Italian complex, all the narcissistic Italians ;)
We skipped the lines and usually headed to the next exhibition, a wise decision as later on many queues had disappeared. Sadly many nations weren't really showing any theme related exhibition, only propaganda and advertisement. Mostly the banana republics were displaying their great leaders, wealth and countryside. I don't know how this will end up with Kazakhstan presenting the expo 2017 with the theme of Future's Energy. Ridiculous as they have giant reserves of oil, natural gas, coal and uranium... Not exactly what I would call future energy sources... 

So the conclusion, skip the queues and visit the first world nations if you want to see anything food related. Nevertheless I can just encourage everybody to visit, if only for the gigantic choice of food and drink!

The next day we spent strolling through Milano as I've never visited the city before. One thing we wanted to see for sure was the Bosco Verticale (vertical forest). A "skyscraper" with 800 trees planted on its balconies! An awesome sight and makes you wonder how the cities of the future might look like.
Bosco Verticle, this is by the way not an Instagram effect but my camera which is slowly dying :(

Side note, what really astounded me were the amount of Chinese people living in Milano. A wiki excursion later revealed that 2% of the inhabitants are of Chinese decent, almost 20'000 people!

A quick stop at the gigantic cathedral and the market hall later we took the metro further south to the canal district. Here centuries ago all the merchandise got transshipped. Now this is the trendy and tourist place with lots of bars, restaurants and shops.

The last day we spent again strolling from cafe to restaurant before boarding the train back home. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015 Festival (23.06.2015 - 30.06.2015)

As Patrick and Genti where driving to Kiev from Switzerland I decided to join them for the ElectricCastle festival in Romania. Halfway between Budapest and Bucharest, in the middle of Transylvania and (not so) next to Cluj lies the Bánffy Castle.

I flew into Budapest so the three of us had two nights of party before driving to Romania. Up to the border this was all smooth sailing over high ways. In Romania on the other hand only exists a highway from east to west through Bucharest, another one connecting Cluj (the second biggest city in the country) with the capitol is under construction.
Some potholes and overtaken horse carriages later we arrived in Cluj and headed on to the festival. The first night the locals went crazy for Fatboy Slim. More than two kilometers before the entrance cars were parked everywhere. With his better days already long behind him we skipped Norman Cook and headed over to the Staples stage. Situated in one of the buildings this stage presented us with firm and dry ground ;). Because of the rain the whole festival area was a gigantic mud pool. Patrick and I in our Converse weren't well prepared... ^^
After Sirius Modeselektor, DC Breaks and a short visit to Evil Nine we said goodbye and took the shuttle bus home.

The following day we spent shopping, as two of us needed sturdier footwear ;) In the evening the weather was a bit better than the night before so we could enjoy Glitch Mob and Netsky.

On the third day the weather was getting nice and sunny, so we could enjoy even some day light ours on the area. Red Bull had some dudes on bikes doing crazy stunts and also the mini ramp (surrounded in a see of mud) saw some action. The festival ground was actually really nice! With lots of different places to discover. Just bad luck with the weather, as we got told it almost never rains in these days.
Headliner (for us) of the day was Subfocus, the rest we spent more or less wandering around or in the Stapels ;) There some local DJs played some nice classic tunes. I can't remember who they were but one of them was so drunk that he broke the mixer trying to climb up on it ^^.  Afterwards Bass Turbat from Bucharest really picked up the pace, check them out!

The last day was again crazy with people, everybody wanted to see The Prodigy! We made the best of it (each of us having seen them multiple times) and enjoyed the party people. Did I mention we all really liked the Romanians? Friendly people and because it is a latin based language you're not completely lost with a menu ;) The whole festival remembered us a lot of the first few times we visited Exit festival in Serbia. Just a few foreigners and everybody amazed that somebody would travel all the way to Romania for a festival ;)

Sadly this was already the end and we headed for a final time home to our hotel. As mentioned the castle isn't next to Cluj. So depending on the lines in front of the shuttle bus we took the bus or taxi home. On our last night we took the cab, the "wrong" one... Listening to Modern Talking our driver raced his Dacia Logan all the way back to Cluj! The rev counter always in the red, overtaking cars which were overtaking other cars, signalling oncoming cars to go out of the way, etc o_O He managed the distance in half the time... I was sitting in the front with a seatbelt, the two guys in the back weren't that happy ^^

The next morning we had an early start for the massive drive to Bucharest. It was only around 600km, but with almost no highway, the Carpathians and some stops on the way it took us almost 8 hours to reach Bucharest. We did a little detour to drive the fabled Transfăgărășan, rated the greatest road in the world by Top Gear ;) Check it out:

In Bucharest we met up with Vlad and his girlfriend. Patrick and Genti had met him on the Mototaxi Junket in Peru. So we had an evening in the city to wander, drink, eat and sightsee. Especially the gigantic Palace of the Parliament at night was a sight. Some clubs bursting with people later it was time for bed and the next day to fly home for me =/.
Patrick and Genti continued on to Kiev, with Moldavia as next stop!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Solothurner Beerdays by Vespa (24.04.2015 - 25.04.2015)

The beer festival in Solothurn was a good excuse to wake our slumbering Vespas from winter sleep.
Together with three friends, all on old Vespas as well, we drove out into the wild west of Switzerland.

Of course the journey was the destination itself, for that reason we took quite a detour to Delemont and back south again. On the way (or not so on the way) we "did" three mountain passes. None besides the last one over the Weissenstein really taxing or worth mentioning ;). Nevertheless did we managed to drive almost twice the distance Google Maps had calculated directly ^^

The beer festival itself was quite nice. All the little breweries had stalls were you could taste and sample their trade. Definitely the way to discover some hidden and unknown gems (and also some quite horrible tasting concoctions ^^).

For the night we stayed at the nice youth hostel, located in the old town right next to the river Aare. The breakfast was a bit miserable, otherwise a good choice!

After some sightseeing the next day it was already time to mount our steeds and head home, hoping to arrive there before the rain set in.

PS: One of our Vespas broke down and had to be left behind, it wasn't mine! ;)