A Travellerspoint blog

About Being Back

semi-overcast 22 °C
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And I'm back. Hmmm, how is it to be back, I am being asked a lot these days. Most of the time with pity in the persons voice. Welllllll….let me start from the beginning. When I landed in Frankfurt and I saw the Taunus (mountain range where I'm from) and my very familiar Frankfurt skyscrapers (the Frankfurt fair tower being my favorite), I was flooded with a bunch of feelings and all of them were positive: Overwhelmed that I TRAVELLED AROUND THE WORLD AND OMG ON MY OWN THIS IS SO AWESOME, excited about what's next (you've kinda trained yourself to feel that way when you travel long-term and arrive at a new destination, even if it's home, clear sign that I had no idea what was going on at that point) and looking forward to being picked up by my parents. That's an advice I'd like to give you: Make sure someone picks you up. Also if it's the parents picking you up and if your parents are somewhat like mine, you can be sure that you immediately will find yourself in a funny, eye-roling, but loving situation. I for instance was not allowed to hug my Mum until my Dad had sorted his camera, so he could take a picture of the hugging. Typical…still makes me laugh *lol*.

Arriving at home was cool too. I had sent 2 parcels from along the way and of course had forgotten what I had sent. My parents and I spent a wonderful evening chatting, unpacking, and I got to show off all my souvenirs; it felt like my own little Christmas. That evening was mine, I had the full attention and that was nice. Advice to the people welcoming a wanderer: Let them talk. Please, just let us talk and share. And rather ask too many questions than not enough. It's hard coming back and we need this. Once we're done, we'll get to you and ask how you are eventually, but be patient;)

For a second reason it was good that I didn't fly into Munich (where I live) directly: My parents house is home too, but it is not where my daily life happens, so I think that gave me an easier step-by-step re-entry into my culture.

And a third reason was that just two days later my friends Maura & Adam from Luxembourg arrived to visit me for the weekend WHICH WAS THE BEST THE ABSOLUTE BEST YAAAAY! Besides just being there with & for me, those two did me a huge favor by insisting on looking at every single picture I had taken during the trip. I didn't know I needed that, but it was very important to do this right after my arrival because since I'm in Germany the whole trip seems like a dream. This feeling was a surprise…and makes me unhappy to be honest. How can it feel like a dream? Can it feel more real, please? Why is it so normal to be back? I don't get it. Maybe it is this way because it was just a hell of a lot. A lot of people have told me to relax and take my time and I think they are right. I'm so happy I still gave myself 2.5 weeks from getting back to having to start work again.

Which HOWEVER did not stop me from booking another 5 days at Lake Garda in Italy next week! I've had a week in Munich to organize my stuff, see my friends, spend a day in my Alpes, ride my bike, but now I want to get out there just one more time, on my own again, meet new people and kite surf :))) And after that, I'm ready to get back to work life. I guess. Damnit!

The good news is that if you have enjoyed reading my travel blog, I decided to keep writing. Check out my new blog http://hanglooseworld.wordpress.com.
My sabbatical might be over, but be sure that Andrea the Travel Bunny will be somewhere else rather sooner than later and I'll try to keep it entertaining!

Maura & I at my hometown festival, the Laternenfest
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La Mama is happy to have me back
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My first trip to the Alpes: On top of the Karwendel, the white mountain in the back is Germany's highest mountain, the Zugspitze
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Posted by AndreaLed 10:19 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Helpful Travel Apps (for iPhone)

Hey there,

just a quick post to share my list of favorite apps which I used on my around the world tour. I couldn't have travelled without my phone (well, I could, but…). That said, leave your tablet and laptop at home. All you need nowadays is a phone!

Tripadvisor (the world is all about reviews nowadays!)
Booking, Trivago (discovered trivago at the end and prefer it to booking.com now)
Hostelworld, AirBnB, Couchsurfing
Skyscanner (I also tried kajak, but didn't really see a big difference)
Flightstats (to check my next flight status, bit of a gimmick, but helpful for paranoid people)
Cashtrails (to track my expenses, has an easy UI, love how easily you can switch between currencies and track which credit card you use)
Convertbob (converts basically everything: pounds, miles, fahrenheit…)
MyWährung (simple currency converter only, which I used for fast look-up during bargaining)
ADAC Mietwagen (app of the German automotive club, members get a better deal on car rentals all around the world)
Evernote (to store my flight & emergency contact infos and write my blog posts while on the go)
Dropbox (to store & back-up my pictures)

And of course Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype & iMessage, FaceTime to stay in touch with friends & family. I didn't buy any new SIM cards (I met people who had though!), but opted for purchasing a bit of Skype credit and every now and again bought a day internet package of my provider (Telekom, 2.95€/day, even in Bolivia).

I'm back in Munich since yesterday and will let you know how that is in a few days ;) I intend to keep on blogging by the way as I rediscovered how much I love to write. As I'm not traveling the world anymore (for now) I obviously still need to put some more thought into all of this, but thanks to all of you who have been so encouraging and eager to get my updates so far. Stay tuned.

Posted by AndreaLed 12:35 Archived in Germany Tagged apps Comments (0)

A couple thoughts at the "end"

sunny 33 °C
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Hey everyone,
today is the last evening of my amazing around the world adventure and I'd like to share a few thoughts about long-term travelling and things I've learnt about myself on this journey of a lifetime. I feel it's just an unorganized fraction of what I want to share with you, but I still intend to post a couple more thoughts and travel tipps, so bear with me. Anyway, here you go for now:

You always here that travels like this one make you learn more about yourself. So what did I learn?
I think I learnt more about my limits, and I learnt to anticipate certain emotions of mine, especially in extreme situations. Understanding that it's normal & typical for me to react that way, often took the edge out and helped me calm down and realize that "it's not so bad after all".

At the same time I learnt that I am so much stronger than I thought (mentally + physically). We all are able to take a lot more than we think (it's true!). I slept in the Uyuni desert at 0 degrees, I hiked the Inka Trail wearing the same clothes, not showering and hardly sleeping for 4 days. And I biked down Bolivias famous Death Road for 5 hours straight (my arms hurt so much, I couldn't sleep that night). I almost had a panic attack in Tokyos underground and while kayaking in the water forest of Siem Reap (sooo many spiders!!!) and hell, did I ever have the worst upset stomach & diarrhea in La Paz...but hey, I survived. I also stayed calm on the bus from Peru to Bolivia when the ride took 11 instead of 7 hours and they told us to get off the bus twice without any further information. And I'm a little proud how I made my way from & to Nikko in the pouring rain.

I highly encourage you to take the cheap (& uncomfortable) way of transportation from time to time even if you could afford more. If you have the time, it's often the more adventurous and fun option. I took the canal boat when I switched accomodation in Bangkok and almost fell into the water while climbing aboard with my backpack on plus it took 15min walking in 35degrees to get to the pier, but I'll never forget the 2 Thai ladys who shared their fried bananas with me on the ride. Priceless. I still laugh when I think of the bumpy overnight bus ride from La Paz to Uyuni and how frozen the window was while I was I sleeping (well, trying to sleep) barefoot because of the crazy hot heating right underneath my seat (no wonder I got sick after Uyuni...). And the bloody dog that almost bit me while I was searching for the mini van bus stop in a back alley of Juliaca, Peru...

Same goes for accomodations. I did it all: 2-5star hotels, hostels (single rooms & dorms) guesthouses, AirBnB, Couchsurfing and camping. Every experience was different and enriched my whole travel experience. Do it all, folks!

Another thing to keep in mind is that we all are "ambassadors of our country" (read that in one of my guide books). In these books they tend to use that phrase to remind us to behave, but I interpretate it a bit differently. I wish I would have brought more pictures & little country-specific gifts to show and share with the locals. Travelling is not only about learning from other cultures, but also about sharing in my opinion. I cannot tell you how often my 3 Oktoberfest phone pictures made people from the Amazon and Cambodian villages excited. Bring fotos of your home, your family, your friends, your dog.

More to come.

Andrea

Posted by AndreaLed 06:57 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Asian Country Hopping

semi-overcast 35 °C
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Aaaaand before you know it, I'm in Cambodia! Feeling a bit like a Japanese tourist, but it's giving this whole adventure a nice little spin at the end;)

Luang Prabang came right on time for me. After 9 weeks of action I was in desperate need for some peace and quiet. Right after my last post about how easy it is to talk to people I went into isolution and hardly spoke to anyone for the next 2 days. It wasn't a conscious decision, I just somehow lost all will to meet people. But don't worry, I'm happy: I read like crazy, rented a scooter and had a whale of a time riding through the countryside to the Kuang Si waterfalls (beautiful!), had massages, did my souvenir shopping at the night market and enjoyed original pain au chocolat at a great little French-Laotian bakery. 

And after recharging my batteries in Laos I arrived in Cambodia this afternoon and went through the most inefficient, unorganized visa on arrival procedure EVER!!! Wow. But I'm in now.

Very very excited to see Ankor Wat tomorrow. Going with a reco from an Australian girl I met yesterday evening (yes, I started talking again!) I'm going to do the whole shabang per organized bike tour. Considering it's going to be 35 degrees celsius again and we need to wear clothing covering knees and shoulders, I think it's going to be an innnnnteresting day!

Wish me luck!

P.S. Some Laos snapshots, the best ones are still on my camera.
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Posted by AndreaLed 06:59 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

From Laos with Love

all seasons in one day 34 °C
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IMG_7349.jpg Greetings from "It's so hot I want to die"-Luang Prabang! 

I arrived yesterday morning via mini plane from Bangkok and was greated by jungly mountains, a brown Mekong river and a smiling officer demanding 35$ from me for the visa on arrival. It's melting hot and humid out here, at 2pm when it's the hottest anyway, it rained and immidiately after that the sun came out. Ej caramba!

It's great to be back in a backpackers environment. The restaurant yesterday evening was filled with single travellers. I remember from my first single journey 7 years ago that after a while you lose all shyness. At the beginning you're always searching for some excuse to start talking to someone, now it's a simple matter of establishing eye contact, nodding to each other and a "And where are you from?". Had a really cool chat with a Swiss guy and an Australian girl (both in their Forties and also travelling for 2-3 months) about their experiences and how travel habits change after 4-5 weeks. They also had already been to Cambodia, so got lots of travel advice. The Australian then showed me how to bargain on the night market and gave me a lift back to my guesthouse on her scooter. We cheerfully said good-bye without exchanging contact details, not every friendly encounter ends up being a facebook friend.

I've completely lost any kind of feel for how much things are supposed to cost. The price differences between countries is amazing and the difference in value of all the currencies adds to the confusion. E.g. I paid 50,000 Kip (4€) for my airport taxi ride into town. In Hawaii I paid 30$ for a dorm bed without AC, in Peru I stayed in a modern 3 star hotel with heating and warm water (yep, not necessarily a given) for that money. Oh well, just trying to keep things reasonable over here, even though I am noticing a minor f*** it attitude given it's the last 2 weeks and I'm increasingly getting travel-tired and want to relax. But Laos & Cambodia luckily seem to be just the right place, there are tons of morning things to do, in the afternoon it's siesta time due to the heat, the night market & restaurant scene is huge and a massage costs 5€/hour.

Funny-Money
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This morning I'm waiting to being picked up for a day of kayaking and elephant riding (cheesy I know!). I'm looking forward to being guided through the day and of not having to think what I want to do myself. This trip takes a lot of organizing, I've been surfing the web nearly every day researching on tripadvisor, booking, skyscanner etc. Still doesn't mean that I have everything all planned out when I arrive, e. g. I booked today's tour yesterday evening via the guesthouse.

Ok, there's my pick-up, happy weekend everyone!

P.S.: It's early evening and kajaking on the Mekong was great!! It's off season here, so it was only me with the guide and besides a few fishing boats we were the only ones on the entire river! But it also rained quite heavily on us for a little bit;)

Not 'all templed out' yet
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A fruit juice a day keeps the doctor away
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Was das Herz begehrt...beautiful crafts & textiles on the night market
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Posted by AndreaLed 05:46 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

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