Travelreport

Travelreport

Tales from around the world

Writing about the Maldives is writing a tale of two countries. One is the Maldives of the tourists, where people lounge on the beach in revealing (western) swimwear, drink alcohol and eat pork. The other is the Maldives of the Maldivians, where people go to the beach and into the sea fully dressed, where alcohol and pork are forbidden and frowned upon. For decades, these two countries coexisted with only limited contact and only a few employees of the tourist resort would straddle the line. Since 2009, the two worlds have started to mix. […]

Read more

It is my fourth visit to India and I have got a fairly good grasp of this complicated country. There are aspects I love and aspects I greatly dislike. I have never been that far south. The state of Kerala is well-known for two reasons, first its natural beauty, especially the backwaters, a series of canals and lakes where tourists visit on houseboats, enjoying and (most of them unfortunately) destroying the environment. Kerala’s other claim to fame is a long history of communist governments. […]

Read more

From Jeddah to Medina I hop on the high-speed train. The Haramain HSR links Mecca and Medina and started to operate in October 2018. A perfect way to quickly transport the millions of pilgrims between their two main destinations. Jeddah airport has a complete second terminal to handle the pious masses for the Hajj. Modernizing a country is often not hassle-free. The Spanish-built Talgo is so far only running at 200 km/h and not at the promised 320 km/h and in September 2019 Jeddah City station was destroyed by a fire, […]

Read more

Passing through the metal detector, I enter the old village of Al Ula. There is not much old about this part of the village, the mosque is, but it has been carefully renovated. The other buildings along the newly-tarmacked street, are only styled as being old. Resembling a market, they contain small shops with clothes, souvenirs, snacks. A man demonstrates the old technique of stamping mud with his feet to produce the raw material to make and repair houses. I approach the small stage, a man in a black thobe, his head covered with a red and white keffiyeh […]

Read more

I had left Wadi Halfa in Sudan early in the morning. My hope was to reach Abu Simbel in early afternoon and to be able to visit this famous temple on the way to Aswan. I had tried to get on the first bus. My hopes were soon dashed as all the five buses left at the same time with mine actually being the latest. We arrived at the Sudanese-Egyptian border and it was still closed. It took three-and-a-half totally ineffective hours to leave Sudan. […]

Read more

The border post is in a small village. The main road is not even tarred, little traffic passes over this border. Ethiopia and Sudan are culturally distinct and there seems to be little interest in the “other”. To my surprise, I am not crossing this border alone. A Japanese guy was on the bus to the border and at the border we meet an Italian who is overlanding with his motorbike. It might surprise you but crossing Sudan is the easiest option of going north-south in Africa. […]

Read more

The famous churches of Lalibela are waiting. To get there from Djibouti most people would have chosen the following approach: Taking a day-long bus from Djibouti Ville to Dire Dawa, another day-long bus to Addis Ababa and another day-long bus from Addis to Lalibela. I chose another option, why not try to get there on the most direct route? Small roads with rare or none public transport promise an eventful journey and will still be faster. […]

Read more

I am a victim of my own faulty planning. Originally, I wanted to head north in Kenya to get to Ethiopia overland through the beautiful region around lake Turkana. I had not properly informed myself about Ethiopian visa rules and while it is very easy to get a visa on arrival when flying into Ethiopia, it is impossible to get one at the border and near impossible to get a visa for Ethiopia in any other African country. I tried in Nairobi but failed. […]

Read more

On arrival at Mombasa Airport, we have to fill out health cards and our temperature is taken. Deadly ebola is raging in parts of West Afrika and Kenya wants to be safe. Another poster asks if you have recently been to the Middle East or China and have respiratory symptoms. Being on the watch for MERS. […]

Read more

I am short on time. I have to be in New York in only four days for my flight back home. In fact, I should not visit Canada at all but I want to have a short peak over the border. Better to get a quick impression than not getting any impression at all. I visit beautiful Toronto (skyscrapers always make me happy) and Niagara Falls (not bad) before heading back to the US. I also have to endure a moment of despair. […]

Read more

The United Nations has its headquarter in New York. It has extraterritoriality status, meaning it is not ruled by the laws of the United States. In a smart move, the famously rich Rockefeller Family had gifted the building site. Proximity is influence. The headquarters is a joint design of a group of architects based on two competing proposals by the French architect Le Corbusier and the Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer. […]

Read more

Because of trouble with the bus crossing from Mexico to the US, I end up crossing the Mexico-US border on foot in the middle of the night in one of the most crime-ridden areas on earth. Two border guards await me. One takes care of my passport and the other one wants to see my bag. I keep my attention with the one with my bag. I get my passport back, welcome to the United States, you are done. I ask if he has stamped my passport, it is more a rhetorical question but the answer is a surprise: […]

Read more

As we leave the boat in Chetumal we are told to put all our bags on the ground in one line. The dog comes and sniffs around, searching for drugs. No results. I spend too much time visiting Valladolid, the Cenotes (sinkhole lakes) of Zaci and X-Canché and the Maya ruins of Ek Balam so I have to cancel my planned visit of the famous Chichén Itzá. Just no time. On to Mérida. […]

Read more