Category: East Asia

I fell in love with Hong Kong on my first visit in 2002. I love condensed megacities that grow into the air as ground to build on is scarce. I was taken by Hong Kong’s scenery. Hong Kong is mountainous; the peaks of Hong Kong Island reach up to 552 metres surpassing even the highest skyscrapers. And it is by no means all city, planning authorities have made sure that a clear distinction between the city and nature is upheld. […]

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The plane is late, I have to take a taxi to get to the train station and catch one of the last trains of the day. I enter the train armed with a sushi box, let myself fall into the comfy seat and soon we head south at 300 km/h. It feels so good after months of slow and uncomfortable transport. Outside, only the lights of cities and towns are visible. My plane had landed in the north of Taiwan but two-and-a-half hours later, I am already in Tainan in the south of the country. […]

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I have exactly the same feeling as last time. Again, I am coming to Taiwan from a poorer country and again I am in awe. Getting a SIM card takes 45 seconds from giving them my passport to getting my phone back with the card in it and the whole thing fully working. Shortly later, I browse through a convenience store looking for nice delicacies to try out, one of those lovely onigiris, something else? Hmm, maybe a box of sushi. I buy a digital payment card (no registration, no nothing) to conveniently pay for transport and anything else, I take the metro and soon thereafter I am sitting in the high-speed train heading south. […]

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I had visited China for the first time the previous year. Whereas I was very happy about returning to Hong Kong I felt conflicted about China. On one hand a very interesting place, on the other hand I found it complicated, difficult and annoying. Because of this, I decided to spend little time there and cross quickly to get to Central Asia. I spend six days in Hong Kong and planned to spend the same amount of time to cross China to Kyrgyzstan, a distance, as the crow flies, of more than 4000km. Crazy idea but I was young and inexperienced. […]

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I am flashed by Hong Kong. I feel so much more at home here than in mainland China. People speak and understand English and I like these dense cities where everything is compressed in a small space. The bathroom in the hostel has less than one square meter, it is not very convenient but everything you need is there. And the setting is beautiful, it reminds me a bit back to Vladivostok on the same trip but Hong Kong is more dramatic, by far. […]

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I’m intrigued by China, a country so big and unknown. I listened to an interesting conversation at the guesthouse in Ulaanbaatar. One guy had worked in China for two years, the other had travelled there for six months. They seemed to complain all the time about it and every sentence seemed to be graced with the word “fu**ing”. After some time, I asked why they spent so much time in this obviously annoying place, the travelling guy was first to answer, “because it’s fu**cking interesting”. I got what he meant. […]

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I started reading about Mongolia on the long train ride west from Vladivostok. So far, I had considered it as just another country but now I realize how different it is. I’m a bit shocked and don’t have a concept yet. The guidebook contains information like “how to drive a jeep”, “how to repair a jeep”, and “how to buy a jeep”. It was written by a representative of Mercedes Benz in Mongolia but he recommends the Russian jeeps, they are easy to repair and spare parts readily available. I give you an excerpt about how to traverse deep rivers: “it is better to face the inevitable and open all the doors of the car as you enter the water. This allows the flow of the river to easily pass the car. In this the front-seat passenger also has to fulfil an important duty.” Well, I was expecting something more normal, […]

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