A Travellerspoint blog

August 2016

From Valley to Mountain to Jungle

My final Mexican experiences

After a round of exams I travelled this route, very typical for Mexico-travellers:
(Pachuca de Soto) - Mexico City - Oaxaca - San Cristóbal de las Casas - Palenque - Tuxtla Gutiérrez - Mexico City
From Mexico City I had planed to go to Teotihuacán as my last, and surely impressive, site to visit, but unfortunately ran out of money and energy on my last 3 days.

I had planned to travel 4 weeks throughout the country with more stops, mainly along the Western, Southwestern and Eastern regions, with Tulum being the furthest point, and perhaps with a stopover in Guatemala. However, I got a mysterious and severe infection of some sort no one could figure out, so I spent about half that time in bed, trying to resist taking antibiotics my German doctor had previously prescribed in case of emergency.
Mexican_re.._with_words.png

1) The City
Despite still being ill, I decided to start my trip to the famous capital of Mexico, with 9 Million city dwellers and 21 Million people within the metropolitan area. Originally called Tenochtitlan by the Aztecs who had built it on an island it is the oldest capital city on the American continent and one of only 2 founded by its native people (besides the Ecuadorian Quito). It was called Ciudad de México during Spanish invasion and occupation, and after gaining independence D.F. for Distrito Federal (head of the federation of the Mexican states). This name is used still today, though it is not called D.F. anymore as of February 2016 due to restructuring of the political landscape of the country.
Due to its many citizens ignoring the traffic lights during the night, police men handle the traffic at strategic points in the city when it gets dark.
large_90_DSCF0917.jpglarge_DSCF0910.jpg
large_DSCF0884.jpgDSCF0894.jpg90_DSCF0902.jpgDSCF0890.jpg90_DSCF0904.jpg
Impressions of Mexico City. Not how I expected it to be. So bright and friendly :D

My friend Alinne's lovely cousin Shantal (ENT specialist - huge plus for me!) took me in for a few days during my first visit with Alinne, before I wanted to start my adventure, and then again shortly before my departure to Europe. She gave me shelter, food, medication, company and friendliness, and didn't ask for anything in return. I couldn't have been luckier than to meet these two fabulous women. Mexico City seemed very chaotic and didn't have this pleasant atmosphere I know from big cities in Asia, mainly China (yes, it is subjective. Very). Feeling safe and unsafe while exploring the city, paying tons and paying very little for food and drinks alternated every few minutes. I discovered Gorditas de Nata, lightly sweet English-muffin type bread; I tried to eat as many as possible, and also bought many other goodies before going home. Studying in Mexico City may have been more fun, but I don't particularly like this city or at least during those 7 days in sickness and poverty I didn't enjoy my time that much. However, I can say its worth a visit and the fresh, cheap juices you can mix to your gusto are to die for. . .

DSCF0906.jpgDSCF0918.jpg
Famous Palacio de Bellas Artes

80A4D21DA1EA12CDF21AC088BEB834C3.jpg80A126D691C40EDABDD0BC1206839163.jpg
Ayozinapa was present in almost all places I went to. The outrage became a beacon of hope people tried to hold on to. For a little while the believe was kept that finally real change was about to come and perhaps Nieto would leave (or would be killed by the cartels if he could not calm his citizens down). But months later oppositional leaders all over the country keep being assassinated.
DSCF0907.jpgDSCF0901.jpgDSCF0899.jpgDSCF0896.jpg
Some protesters remained day and night.

2) The Valley
I took a night bus from Mexico City to Oaxaca de Juarez or Cuidad de Oaxaca, the capital of the state of Oaxaca, and stayed in a nice little hostel somewhere close to the center, in walking distance from the bus station. In the hostel I experienced for the first time how severe the water shortage in Mexico actually is as it was rationed for bathroom and kitchen use. That day it was el Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe and I could experience the procession and the accompanying fair. Also there were numerous (night) markets I enjoyed. What disappointed me was the lack of fresh fruit offered on the streets and in the supermarkets. Overall Oaxaca was a beautiful, comfortable place worth staying several days to discover the surroundings, while the city itself needs only a day or two. I participated in a day trip which was a wonderful experience and I recommend to do at least one of such trips into the nature outside the city! The prices are cheap and you get very good cultural value! I went to Hierve el Agua, Mitla, Tule, Teotilán y una Fábrica de Mezcal. A little overview about the places you can get here. Although this was my tour operator I do not recommend a specific one; so far I only heard good things from travellers about all of their operators.
large_DSCF1070.jpg

large_808ABF50D4D8A6F246F3389B0EFDE22E.jpglarge_80910303D59DFE398D8E919BA69BBA03.jpg
large_DSCF1060.jpglarge_DSCF1058.jpg
Museum

DSCF1052.jpgDSCF1029.jpglarge_DSCF1025.jpglarge_DSCF1011.jpglarge_DSCF0993.jpglarge_DSCF0980.jpglarge_DSCF0973.jpglarge_DSCF0963.jpglarge_90_DSCF0954.jpg

3) The Mountain
I took a ADO Platino to San Cristóbal de las Casas during the night which was the wrong choice. I was not given a snack like in the cheap busses before, the nice comfortable armchair of the first two hours became a nightmare longterm, and the monitors in front of each passenger could not be entirely turned of, so that light became very bothering during my failed attempts to sleep. I remember there were more uncomfortable or negative events but my mind seems to have suppressed this information. Definitely money badly spent. However, San Cristóbal became my favorite Mexican city. I love that place. It is full of lovely little streets, friendly people, cheap and fresh fruit, is relaxing and beautiful with impressive nature. As time was a pressing issue I could only stay 2 whole days and 1 night but I remember the feeling of comfort over there. The hostel was very pretty and flowery, but hard to find and for the first and only time the company of the other travellers not enjoyable (Everyone experienced knows the different kinds of hostels according to their suitability for solo travellers). One moment has stayed very vividly in my mind: putting my backpack into the luggage storage (some sort of wooden living room). Two rows of other backpacks were stored along the wall, so I put down mine in a third one and turned around to look at all of them again. My backpack seemed tiny in comparison to all others. I had chosen a smaller backpack made for women on purpose and knew I was travelling lighter than most others no matter the travel period, but for the first time that was so strongly visualized in front of me that I did ask myself for a minute if I was travelling the wrong way and what I could have possibly forgotten to take with me.
As I have been a bit sick and just enjoyed simply being, I did not take many pictures.

large_CFF1AC21CEEFA3886082EDC3B11439D7.jpglarge_DSCF1088.jpglarge_DSCF1091.jpg
large_80A894ED03363348B3146D7A4E7A9E1C.jpg
Trip I could not do

3) The Jungle
Though the Mayan city of Palenque was astonishing, the biggest impression on me was left by the bus ride. I bought another (normal) ADO ticket for a ride that was supposed to take 5 hours. After about 7 hours we finally stopped and I got off the bus, went out of the station and searched for the respective street along the bus station that would lead me to my hostel. I could not find it, so I asked a group of men who tried to figure out where this street was as they only knew a park by that name, Juarez. As this place looked nothing like I had imagined, with growing suspicion I, embarrassed, ask for the name of the city I was in. I was in Villahermosa! I ran back passed security and got on the same bus, ask the driver if this bus was going to Palenque after all and after he had finished laughing he told me yes, but it would take a while. I was just on time, 1 minute later the bus left and looking at the pathetic, crouched person I was, they decided to ignore the fact that I could not find my ticket to prove my identity during the second ticket check. Instead the driver and the other passengers had a good laugh again when he told the inspector. After a total transportation time of 11 hours the driver turned to me and very slowly and articulated said: Pa-len-que. I got off the bus and considered a taxi to the hostel as I felt completely destroyed and ready to pass out. I had started my bus ride at 5pm after a long and busy day San Cristóbal and had no food or drink on me as I had planed on having dinner on arrival as 5 hours didn't seem that long considering the distances I was already used to travel. On arrival I was hungry but had lost my appetite. I decided to save the money and walk to the hostel which turned out to be very close, closer than it had seemed on the map. All I could do was to reserve a place on the archaeological site Palenque for the next day and fall into bed in the worst hostel I have been to outside of China. It had no furniture, no shower, no walls, no windows, no security, no kitchen, no nothing. It was sleeping on a mattress in a construction side.

large_DSCF1216.jpglarge_DSCF1165.jpglarge_7C5F7E5506F321E59F55F732D165145D.jpglarge_7C63B461B021A9C6C775B97173A41E7A.jpglarge_7C54F31AC3866A4C357FC260B25E6145.jpg
Serene nature
DSCF1248.jpg

To my surprise the booked trip was more than the archaeological site. The Palenque ruins are wonderful to see and the guide an endless source of information. It is incredible to imagine how life must have been there, how colorful the buildings, and the rituals, how different the view of the world, and that 95% is still uncovered. When you see T-shaped holes, windows, statues or signs that place stands for the living, a T on its head refers to places of the dead with whom communication was possible.
We walked through the site feeling so good among the old ruins and the lush green semi-jungle. Splashes of their original colors could be discovered among the ruins, mostly blue and red, the plants sported thousand shades of green as flowers rarely grow in that area. It was serene. I walked out of the archaeological area with an elderly couple among my tour group, who incidentally came from Pachuca. The archeological site of Palenque is by far not the biggest one in Mexico (not in terms of what is excavated, but it shows some of the finest art or works of the Mayans still visible today.
large_DSCF1115.jpg
From the side
large_DSCF1120.jpg
From below
large_DSCF1119.jpg
From above
large_DSCF1134.jpg
toilet hut
large_80B7FE26ABEB9D7839E8DF07434F9D24.jpg
That is what I look like trying to jump
large_6668F4ACB8128812F1CC991C6FEEFB7C.jpglarge_6661A9A0F6182571273EDB28E8B546D8.jpg
Painting of the carvings on the lid of the tomb of K'inich Janaab Pakal I in the Temple of the Inscriptions which was build as his last resting place. For a long time his tomb couldn't be opened because no one could figure out how, after it had already taken years to even discover it inside the temple. His pose on the carving was compared to that of an astronaut, leading some to believe that the Mayans were in contact or influenced by extraterrestrial beings. Others interpreted him as being reborn and/or in contact with celestial beings or items. What many found surprising and interesting is that the middle is widely interpreted as being a World Tree, a symbol found in many believe systems and mythologies around the world, most notably in North and Turkic Asia, Northern Europe and ancient peoples in the Americas. Therefore some scientists and scholars believe the concept of an underworld-earth-heaven connecting tree is in our subconscious collective human memory due to human evolution having started in nature/in trees. Pakal was said to have become a god after is death. He was born in March 603, during a very violent period, and is called Pacal the great or "Sun shield" from the Mayan work Pacal for shield. He reigned 68 years, the longest reign in the Western hemisphere. His features and depictions of his life are all over the Palenque ruins (of what little we can see today) because he constructed and extended inscriptions and buildings, and some of the finest Mayan art has been created under him, including his unique stone sarcophagus.
large_80D4847B9B36312339698F4871DC6D75.jpg
Interesting history about that which I have forgotten
large_816D53A805C8DC238EFAE948F8BFE6A8.jpg
Decoration showing Pacal
large_819A1056F30089896B179C08F7E7F086.jpg
More and more parts cant be visited due to destruction by tourists. 95% of the site is estimated to is still be buried underneath
large_8130D30FD296389EF8A0477B7A6C8385.jpg
You can see some hints of the ancient colors
large_7C8F3B80EF720EF7539EA893EF73C67B.jpg
Museum about the Mayans. Much about Pacal
large_90_DSCF1146.jpg
Cactus and tree symbiosis
large_DSCF1145.jpg
Bʼolon Yej Teʼ Naah (House of the Nine Sharpened Spears) or Templo de las Inscripciones. It is not allowed to be climbed anymore.

Later on we visited the corresponding museum close to the exit. After that we continued to the Cascadas de Agua Azul and the Cascadas de Misol-Ha where we went swimming, had a late lunch and bought some souvenirs. By the end of the trip I made friends with two Mexican sisters and decided to switch to their hostel as mine was so bad. These two lovely ladies let me stay with them for free for two nights and celebrated my birthday with me. Together we discovered the city of Palenque and Mexican lemon tart. We also had a bad experience at a restaurant that brought us closer together. They were happy to spend time with me because in my company all but my poor self were safe from mosquitoes.

large_DSCF1206.jpg
Nature = love

large_90_7C9D55EEBE5B209518196A995DE11C4C.jpglarge_DSCF1220.jpg
large_DSCF1196.jpg
From behind (cascadas, not on the archeological side)
large_DSCF1209.jpglarge_DSCF1213.jpg
DSCF1232.jpg
Birthday cake

I really wanted to visit Guatemale, I even had arranged accommodation with a friend's friend en la Cuidad Guatemala but I did not have any money left to spend in Mexico, so I planned on taking a chicken bus. Crossing the border is nothing like crossing within Europe; it is wild, dangerous, adventurous, needs several modes of transportation, and long story short, I became the chicken and then bussed my ass back to the capital.

4) Last days

The bus ride of almost 1000km was horrid! I wanted to stay in Tuxtla Gutiérrez for a day but when I arrived due to financial and organizational issues could not stay there for long. So I stayed for 5 hours and went on to Mexico City. I assumed to be able to go around town, but the bus station is surrounded by nothing but giant streets and few, tiny food shops. I would have had to walk too far and without a map to reach a residential or otherwise interesting area. With my (for me) heavy backpack. Also the big shopping center beside the bus station was closed as it was too early in the morning. Therefore these 5 hours passed slowly and agonisingly without a comfortable place to rest after the previous bus ride. Until I reached Shantal's place again, who I woke up in the middle of the night, I had been travelling all in all from Palenque for about 50 hours due to various challenges and unforeseen events. Once I arrived in Mexico City taxi drivers refused to take me home as the distance was too short, despite it feeling like a mountain climb to me. I started to feel sick again which continued into the first 2 weeks into Germany. In Mexico City I spent some nice hours with Shantal and her friends but I mostly slept. I was dead tired. I barely made it out of bed for my host. I have been regretting not going to Teotihuacan ever since.
On my departure day Alinne and her friend, who carried my luggage through several vehicles to the airport as I didn't want to pay for a taxi, came from Pachuca to support me and say goodbye which I was so happy about. They waited with me to check-in at the long queue and made these last hours a bliss despite me still feeling a bit nauseous.

large_10422274_1..595626516_n.jpg

5) The Aviation Adventure A Alemania
Due to European Union regulations I had to start and finish my Erasmus Mundus Exchange at my home and host universities' countries - a rule I find to be completely outdated in today's world. Therefore my itinerary looked as follows:
D.F. Mexico - Amsterdam - Tallinn - Amsterdam - Frankfurt
I am too thrifty to buy food at airport, I rather starve, which is exactly what I did. Flying Air France was bad as always and since I had already been awake 24 hours after my first flight I wanted to rest at my next departure gate. Lest I forgot that I transferred from an international to an inner EU flight, meaning I had to go through security again. Knowing my lack of adequate nutrition was coming up in the Netherlands I had packed a big amount of food and different drinks to gain some energy for the next 3 flights. Of course, these couldn't go through security. After passport control the security guy asked me about liquids and suddenly I remembered my stock. I almost started crying and begged the guy to let me return through passport control, so that I could eat and drink something to avoid death. Looking at the mirror later I know I looked like a battered ghost. The police guy told me to think first the next time as security protocol forbids such action but they let me through and I could eat and drink and rest at the nice Schiphol airport. When it was time to go through again I was afraid to meet the same police man again but a new shift had started. Contrary to that I was hoping to meet the nice security guy to thank him for saving my existence as I had just left like in trance last time without a thank you; unfortunately he was gone as well. But wonderful, nice, Dutch security man please know I remember your kindness, you showed compassion where there was only supposed to be regulation. Thank you.
Overall, going home took about 2 days and when I arrived on 24th December around 5pm at home I had 2 hours to shower and rest before the start of Christmas dinner. Thankfully my family let me sleep until the last second to help me recover as much as possible. Still, I wonder how I managed to keep my head out of my plate. Well, barely.
DSCF1277.jpg90_DSCF1278.jpg270_DSCF1276.jpgDSCF1268.jpg

Posted by nerikimmera 11:46 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico backpacking san_cristobal_de_las_casas mexico_city palenque oaxaca study_abroad Comments (0)

Yet another time jump - Indonesia! Driving around Bali

Beach to Beach

30 °C

Music: MKJ X Alora & Senii - Travel (ft. Jimmy Hennessy) &
Just SZA — 04 Time Travel Undone (Prod. Top Notch)

Visiting Bali was my last travel before my "vagabond-life" will come to an end (graduation).
Since having seen the island on TV for the first time many years ago I have been dreaming about visiting Bali; being in Indonesia was also my first time in the Southern hemisphere.

From end of November til mid-December I traveled around Bali. With a left food mysteriously sprained and/or broken it would have been difficult to get around without a driver's license and just generally being a "traffic chicken."

Luckily I had a delicate flower by my side who had the honor of enjoying my splendid company. I met Gary Taylor from Ipthwith, Mediocre Britain, in Bucharest when we stayed in the same hostel and I needed some pepper. For my food. He had some. So he gave me some. I was happy for the taste. He was happy to shed some load. We later met at two other occasions in Turkey and then six months later in Indonesia, first in Jakarta, then in Bali. He is cycling around the world through Eurasia, Australia, New Zealand, and the US to create awareness of and collect money for the charity recycle based in the UK. They recycle old or used bicycles and ship them to a number of African countries to provide cheap mobility and thus improvement of life while also creating local, sustainable employment. If you wanna check out his travel you can go to his blog Gears we never use where you can also get a link to his various social media and the donation page.

large_DSCF2640.jpg
Gary's face

One Saturday afternoon I went to the airport to catch my flight from Jakarta to Bali after a quite wonderful goodbye from my awesome landlord. My flight was delayed and the ground crew kept insisting departure will be on time despite the planed departure time having passed already. This gave me the opportunity to meet the two other foreigners on board confused about what was going on. Luckily for me, one of them, Haitam from Egypt, became a big help. He took pity on me and my broken foot, and carried my luggage, helped me find my way to the hostel and paid the bigger portion of the taxi fee. A good start.

DSCF2593.jpg
Flowers

DSCF2611.jpg
Chilling

large_5D3752EBF45BE42B3430EECD0D67FA34.jpg
Bali Aiport Domestic Arrival Area

Gary arrived late at night, he went by bicycle from Jakarta, after breaking is record for distance cycled in one day. He arrived tired and stinky and hungry and with huge respect from me. Our first day in Kuta, Bali (a place smaller than Aberystwyth) was spent with eating, preparing his bike for the upcoming flight to Australia and being on the computer. My computer became a decisive factor for our travel. First we stayed in Kuta for more days than originally planned because I had a Skype interview with my professor for my thesis, the last before the deadline, and later I depended on it to conduct an online assessment as part of a job application and thus on staying in a hotel with decent internet. Job hunting sucks.

Kuta had the nicest beach among all the places we went to. It was clean, had good sand and wasn't crowded. Though I had heard many complaints about it being super touristy and congested and expensive, I liked the city. I love the small alleyways, the small shops and the many eateries. And if
you are willing to eat at Indonesian places and/or other ones further away from the beach, eating out can be cheap. As can accommodation. It is all your wallet's or priorities' choice. Traffic is terrible for sure, especially when you are inside a car. And the way streets are organised doesn't make it easier. Overall Kuta did have that nice holiday flair I enjoy, but it was during November-December, so not high season. During that time you may wanna avoid Bali's South.
DSCF2582.jpg
Who let the chickens out? Can somebody tell him?

90_DSCF2594.jpg90_DSCF2775.jpg
FOOOD ................................................................................somebody secretly showing affection to the best pets in the world

We rented a motorbike to see the island. To my surprise it was not that difficult to carry a bag with both our items for several days on my back (the heaviest items where inside the trunk) but sitting on a bike hurts the butt! Quickly I began complaining and wiggling my ass around constantly which is a bad idea with a heavy bag on a bike. Later I found out that sitting more towards the back was way more comfortable, but that also required Gary's help who was already taking care of me by being the sole driver. But with that technique and the body's wondrous power to get used to a routine, I made it through our travel without too much pain or my bum becoming flat. Er. But not on the first day. We didn't make it that far and had an early break for my butt and our breakfast.

large_5D39AFAEE110EC41C04FE7B8E66CAF8A.jpg
We keep rolling, rolling, rolling yeah

The first night we stayed somewhere around Soka beach I believe. The waves where too high and strong for my liking, especially without glasses.

We didn't swim in the South except for Kuta. But also in the North it seems Bali is foremost an island for surfing. Out hostel was very nice and cheap, and the way to the beach was full of beautiful plants left and right. Before we left to our next destination we had to take care of an issue: no ATMs for visa cards in and around our place and on the mountains of Bali. Supposedly. We rode a bit back along the way we had taken the previous day to withdraw money and then left for the three lakes (Danaus) on the volcanoes.

large_90_DSCF2579.jpg
Happy about most amazing Frühstück in the world

DSCF2651.jpg
Ein schräger Typ :D

DSCF2597.jpg
Hotel garden in front of beach

We stayed in a hostel around Danau Tamblingan which advertised with things it didn't actually offer: hot water, wifi and breakfast. I liked the city itself, but at 1,200m it was a bit colder and generally moist which is a climate I like as much as the bathroom at that place. The lake view turned out to be a disappointment, especially for Gary, though the scenery did seem a bit mysterious. The next day we went by Danau Buyan on our way to the North coast. The lake view was as non-incredibly impressive as before. Being on our downwards path it started raining. Smart, experienced travellers that we were, we decided against taking rain coats for a travel onto mountains during rain season. Half way we stopped at a tiny mountain road restaurant and had delicious lunch. And waited for the rain to stop. I don't know how long or short a time we waited but I enjoyed that stop up high on the road within a forest and underneath a small rooftop with hot, fresh food and good company. When it paused we went back on the road but it soon started raining again. Gary felt safe enough on the bike to drive under these conditions (typical steep mountain roads with crazy Indonesian drivers around us and rain coming at him while not wearing a helmet with a ventail or a coat). I was shacking in my (flip-flops/Flipflops/thongs/tiny, toes-showing) boots a few times. Traffic-trust is nothing I gift easily but he absolutely did earn it. In retrospect.

All around the volcano strawberry field were plenty and we did not eat a single one throughout the trip. Still crying a bit over this sad little fact.

We arrived in a sunny area after a while where it was hot enough to forget about the cold, windy rain that had just surrounded us. We bought more cookies, Gary looked for fried birdies he couldn't find and I stripped between the cookie shelves to change into dry clothes. We then went on to choose hotels for our stay. By choosing I mean driving passed and choosing the first one that looked good while also sporting a good price.

large_DSCF2794.jpg
Rice terraces

large_DSCF2570.jpg
Gary loving the surroundings of the lake

large_DSCF2576.jpg
Enjoying a different kind of beach

large_DSCF2568.jpg
On the volcano

In Lovina the luxurious part of our holiday began. The beach was pebbly but ok, nice small restaurants where plenty and the weather was lovely. We stayed in two very nice hotels with pools and we remained there for more days than originally planed. I got massages til I stopped enjoying them and Gary did his nomorepeddalinghalfwayupdate.

large_90_DSCF2758.jpg
Lovina is known for dolphin watching. Unfortunately I tend to be unable to open my eyes during sunshine, but my mind remains open even when my eyes are closed.

large_DSCF2690.jpg
Hotel is now known by us for having a very nice pool. Eyes OPEN. And mouth?!

large_DSCF2663.jpg
Crocodile

large_DSCF2790.jpg
Our waiters in a restaurant by Lovina

5DB3134CF1011A74CA204E5A553E3AA9.jpg
English beach boy mesmerizing the viewer with his eyes

Within one day this time, we went all the way from Lovina to the South, spending two more nights outside Kuta before returning to our first hotel. We spent one night in Tabanan where our unsuccessful quest for food eventually ended in 5 portions Nasi Goreng, three portions chicken and rice, one omelette, one portion additional beef, four Saitan cubes and four super yummy cookies. The following night we wanted to go back to the nice hostel on the beginning of our trip but I wanted to see one more new place, so after realizing Tanah Lot was a temple, not a beach area, and way too expensive for our taste, we ended up in a place not as nice. It was fine for one night though. I had English breakfast and tried a new desert. I think it was called Swaffle, but do not look that up on Urban dictionary. It turned out to not be very original or suitably sized. But I did see a squirrel.

large_5DBB166AFC028271E50480411CBEC31F.jpg
Rougarou and his contemporary Kathryn 2.0

90_DSCF2789.jpg90_DSCF2510.jpg
More mesmerizing looks........................................................... Who can resist those kitten eyes?

5DB90498985F401A79A426F91841910A.jpg
Another hostel

5DB5876CE2AF14CD8B37CAE6941EA878.jpg
Food that made me gain weight

We arrived early back to Bali and checked back into POP! Hotel Kuta Beach. We wasted some time trying to find a bike shop to buy a bicycle helmet and then went to the beach with quite some complaining from my side due to so much walking despite everything else already having been catered to me. Our last night ended with swimming, me meeting up again with Uci, a girl I had met at the airport upon arrival, and learning about a Chinese cell phone with two batteries during a dinner with locals and fellow travelers. There was also some fried ice cream involved.
90_C42B2A2ED04F8B35E7A50E874BB9B985.jpg90_DSCF2531.jpg
POP! Hotel Kuta Beach..........................................Organising like a busy bee cause Mr. native speaker thought continuously making fun of my English skills ...............................................................................and refusing to take over communication himself was not contradictory
90_DSCF2787.jpg
I am mesmerizing too!

DSCF2653.jpg
Nope, can't beat that

At the end of our trip we went to the airport together but only upon ordering the taxi did we realize that we can't spend the last hours together as we went to different terminals with a distance one of us couldn't walk and one of us couldn't carry a boxed bike for. I left the taxi first, paid Gary for his services and after a quick goodbye suddenly felt weird being all alone again.

I arrived in Jakarta at midnight and slept one more time in my old room which my landlord had already prepared. I spent the next day searching for a post box for hours and had lunner with my wonderful French friend Danielle which had taken care of me during the first weeks of my injury. Due to the rain which makes the traffic even more unbearable I was very wary, left my home early and had a few hours to spare at the airport.

I was glad to leave Jakarta, but I definitely wanna go back to Indonesia. This vast country requires more time, and healthy feet, to be explored, as does Southeast Asia. I can't wait to come back again to the region.

Posted by nerikimmera 07:13 Archived in Indonesia Tagged bali beach indonesia bike cycling motorcycle kuta southeast_asia recycle lovina butthurts pop! gearsweneveruse Comments (0)

Erasmus photo project

Photography & Expression: fail

During my many times studying abroad I had the chance to participate in lectures within various academic disciplines. But often I also didn't have the chance to take the courses I wanted. In Turkey I finally had the opportunity to take on an arts class. I was excited to learn about photography, cameras, how to see and evaluate an object or scene, how to play with color and light, and much more. Turns out the lecture was shit, the teacher in love with himself but deadly critical of others, attendance was a pain in the ass and I have learned precisely nothing. Like some others I quit the course after a few weeks and went traveling instead of taking my mid-term which automatically kicked me out of the course.

Still, I liked my idea and even though I had to leave Turkey a bit early and couldn't finish the project in time for myself (it should have turned into a real photo book with roughly 15 pages), I wanted to share the project with you. The photos have not been retouched as it was not about creating a book anymore but simply sharing the idea.

In Istanbul I lived in the district Kadıköy (which means Village of the Judge. It was located outside Constantinople, but was put under jurisdiction of its courts), in Duatepe Sokak which crosses with Karakolhane Caddesi. This previously problematic street has turned into a new, young and stylish one with traditional shops and wonderful new eateries. I went out on Karakolhane to interview owners of those old and new little shops and take pictures of their faces surrounded by their passion or source of income.
As I couldn't finish the project I will also show practice shots from other sources afterwards. Since my travel has ended and I have to be a productive, capitalistic member of society for a little while, extending the project throughout the other countries didn't work out. I hope you enjoy those pictures.
Please, keep in mind that I am not a professional photographer, nor am I super into it, nor have I used a very good camera. This is supposed to be a fun project - Erasmus style :)

Unfortunately, I seem to have lost all my notes about the interviews as I have changed countries 5 times in the meantime, so I will try to reconstruct the main points from memory.

Lots of love,
nerimera

The faces of Karakolhane

large_DSCF1765.jpg
The tailor is a lot older than what he looks like. His story was incredible and full of twists. To avoid misrepresenting his life I will only summarize it roughly. He grew up in the Northeast of Turkey as the son of poor farmers. One day he saw a movie about the glamorous, buzzing city of Istanbul. The next day he rode to Istanbul by hiding on train, at approx. 13 years of age. He lived on the streets as a beggar until he could find a job as a helper with a tailor. Since he had seen some in the movie, the man was intrigued by the elegant Western-style suits and colorful, pompous cloths from the Ottoman times wealthy men were wearing in the beginning of the 20th century. Soon the old tailor who had hired the young boy and specialized in male clothing, discovered the talent of his helper who became an apprentice and soon was a successful tailor himself who took over the shop from his old master. The shop and its name has remained the same over the past decades. Once he travelled back to his hometown to meet the family he out of the blue left and tell them about his new successful life, only to find that his parents had died. Nowadays his profession in its traditional form is dying out, but luckily he still has enough work because his name remains known throughout the city and among business men who appreciate his craft and passion. Since starting on this path not one day has passed on which he didn't sew. He told me that he plans on dying with a needle in his hand, the love of his life and the only thing he ever knew how to do.

large_DSCF1767.jpg
The hair dresser has hands which have known hard work. He as well is from the Northeast and has come to Istanbul with his family to find work. There, as a little boy, he began working in a blacksmith. In those times protective gear was not common, so his hands, arms and partly his face has seen pain, scars and burns. At some point he couldn’t go on anymore and found a place as apprentice with a hair dresser. Today he has many customers, (almost) exclusively male, and refused to stop working even for 5 minutes for the interview. He loves his profession.

large_DSCF1760.jpg
This woman is several years younger than me and has opened her own pharmacy only months ago, right out of university. She has been working diligently, and with support of her family she acquired this place to make her dream come true: be self-employed in her academic field. She has chosen to open her pharmacy in Kadıköy because she saw great potential in the growth of this area and loves the feeling to be on Karakolhane.

large_DSCF1762.jpg
This woman is full of joy. She had taken over this little café/bakery and kept the name unchanged due to its popularity, it was the name of the previous owner. She is doing all work herself, but her husband, who is working a full-time day job, helps out in the evenings and weekends. It is a lovely little place with delicious baked goods, most of which are cookies. Her dream came true with this shop and still things are going well, but she is afraid she cannot stay solvent as the café is not hip and young, the direction Kadıköyis changing in.

large_DSCF1758.jpg
The café man has always dreamed of owning a place like this, completely modeled to his vision, and had recently opened this modern café which has a name that expresses his deep feelings for his partner. He feels at home in Kadıköy and foresees a great future in the development of the area, the young people coming in and the international crowd that for the most part does not consist of short-term tourists.

large_DSCF1757.jpg
The Pide man was the one I was frequenting the most. He was the shiest and most quiet interviewee. And the only one who was unhappy with his choice of work. He never wanted to work there but has taken over this shop from his father. Sales are not going as well anymore though his goods are cheap, delicious and of good quality. He didn't know what else to do with his life, what his passions were. He simply followed what life had thrown at him or what was expected of him.

large_DSCF1751.jpg
The baker likes his job but has seen a huge drop in sales with the growth of supermarkets and is thus extremely worried about the future. He built up his shop, experienced the golden age of fresh bread and the problematic years of social unrest. Now the gentrification threatens his business.

large_DSCF1383.jpg
Of the Simit man I took a picture by myself but unfortunately could not talk to him.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

large_270_DSCF1570.jpg
My classmate who is the head of a number of clubs and in the forefront of many events in the university.

large_DSCF1326.jpg
My first Turkish tandem partner who works tirelessly to learn German for his exam so he qualifies for a scholarship. He dreams of starting a new, better life in Germany, starting with a cultural visa and scholarship as a Karate coach, even though he has never been outside Turkey his entire life.

large_DSCF1341.jpg
This was a guy living in the flat beneath mine who has kept his dog sometimes on our big balcony. He is a surfing instructor waiting to start working around the world again while taking English classes in his home country.

large_DSCF1771.jpg
The guy who I met in the hostel after my arrival in Istanbul. He has arranged a flat for me and my friends and became my translator for these interviews. He has become self-employed with a couple of friends who now help others to realize their projects in the fields of social and environmental work through networking, gathering funds and organizational support.

large_DSCF2843.jpg
Waitress in Pärnu. I chose her because she has the most Estonian face ever.

large_DSCF2850.jpg
My Kazakh-Estonian friend. Student. Beautiful on outside and inside.

Posted by nerikimmera 23:44 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey photography faces erasmus kadikoy student_exchange photo_project get_to_know_the_people Comments (0)