Friday, July 12, 2013

Sumatra Tips

For West Sumatra suggest Bukittinggi and Lake Maninjau and surrounds-Padang Panjung, Payakumbuh and south of Padang an absolute paradise Painan. Check out my photos on the links on Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Indonesia forum ( pPamela).
North Sumatra- Lake Toba, Brestagi and Bukit Lawang and Tangkahan, which is a paradise and a 2 hr motor bike ride from Bukit Lawang- spent 5 days there in late Sept 2006 at Jungle Lodge.
If you can squeeze it in, Ketembe a 7 hr bus ride from Medan and a magical place to go- stay at either Pak Mus or Sadar Wisata with Iyuni and family.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Мансардни мечти

Тази нощ моята мисъл лети като огнена комета
в междузвездното пространство.
Тази нощ моят копнеж опасва кано Млечен път земята.
О, това възнесение на поета,
това лирическо пиянство,
тази неутоленост на душата!

Защо ми даде това тяло и този безпределен дух, о боже?
Тази жажда за всички морета,
този глад за петте континента,
това сърце за всички раси на земята
- за врага и брата?

Къде и как да избягам от собствената си кожа -
аз весталка, мегера и дева,
аз, бедна дъщеря на Ева?
Вечно ли ще нося като охлюва на гърба си
черупката на ористта си?

Никога ли няма да видя белите северни сияния,
да прелетя над тропиците и Атлантика?
Никога ли няма да стъпи кракът ми по островите на Океания
и да потъне погледът ми в южните съзвездия на Пасифика?

Защо не мога да застана пред гишето на пътническото бюро,
дето пъстрата карта на земята
виси опъната на стената
като кожата на одрана пантера,
да вдигна ръка спокойно и самоуверено,
да опиша една безконечна крива линия с малкото си перо,
да кажа: - Дайте ми билет за този рейс! -
И да потегля с първият експрес...

Но аз не съм американски милиардер, колониален плантатор,
златотърсач, мошеник, фалшификатор.
Не съм англичанин-турист,
моряк или авиатор,
нито знаменит артист,
нито "звезда", нито дори "мис"...

Казват, божа искра в мене тлее,
но, знам, която ме е залюляла, тя ще ме и долюлее:
ще живея като всеки безприютен бохема,
който мечтае да напише гениална поема,
и ще предам богу дух като всеки български поет,
като завещая: на хазайката някой неизплатен наем,
на другарите - някой абонамент и дребен заем
и на поколенията - някой и друг вдъхновен ред,
неутоления си глад и жажда
и философския въпрос: защо човек се ражда?

Вие, които ме разбирате и обичате,
когато умра, недейте да ме оплаквате и кичите.
Сложете ми наместо постеля картата на земното кълбо,
наместо покров - картата на звездното небо
и напишете:
Спи мирно между земята и небето,
бедни поете.

Елисавета Багряна

Monday, October 4, 2010

Epic traveller’s routes

Feel like you have missed out on something? Dust off the trusty backpack and hit the trails that inspire everyone, from the travel novice to the seasoned veteran.

Istanbul to Cairo, Middle East
İstanbul has a foot on two continents, making it an ideal launch pad for the Middle East. This route works its way down through Turkey and into Syria, with an evocative bazaar at Aleppo and the spectacular city of Damascus. Head down to Jordan, pausing to admire the ruins of Petra and to float in the Dead Sea. Regardless of your faith, detouring to Jerusalem makes for a religious experience, then chill out with some Red Sea snorkelling. You will need the relaxation to prepare for crowded Cairo, where a trip out to the pyramids is a requirement.

East Coast Australia
Many travelers kick this trip off in Sydney, with its glammed up beaches and iconic bridge drawing their attention. Some might meander as far south as Melbourne, the so-called Paris of the Southern Hemisphere, with its cosmopolitan culture and European weather (its grey winter is infamous). But the more beaten-track trips north of Sydney, through hippy haven Byron Bay, which has awesome surf breaks. If you are collecting capitals stop off at Brisbane, but most continue to tropical Cairns, a jumping-off point for cruising the Great Barrier Reef, the coral-jewelled necklace that makes the most stunning adornment to this coast.

Banana Pancake Trail
Most Southeast Asia trips start in Bangkok's backpacker epicentre, Khao Sanh Rd, but hordes wander to the beaches of Ko Pha-Ngan or up-market Phuket. Many young travellers head to Cambodia's Siem Reap to gape at the ancient civilisations of Angkor Wat, before heading to Ho Chi Minh City and working their way north along Vietnam's coast to the majestic rock formations of Halong Bay. To get off the trail a little more head inland to Laos' capital, Vientiane, or elephant trek in Khao Yai National Park. Bangkok and Singapore are both hubs for airlines so there are often cheap flights out of these cities to many other places in Asia.

North Island to South Island, New Zealand
The trail begins in Auckland, where plenty of backpackers enjoy the party life, then heads down to Rotorua for the volcanic sights and hangi (traditional Maori feasting and performance). The route winds on through Lake Taupo, a good spot for skydiving and water sports. Then make for windy Wellington with its cafe culture and kooky Beehive (national parliament). From here you can hop across to the South Island for whale-watching in Kaikoura before heading for Queenstown, the base for exploring spectacular Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, or tearing up the scenic waterways in a jet-boat.

Trans-Siberian Railway, Russia
Once the route of the tsars, this 9,289km stretch of track starts on the coast in Vladivostok, rattling along to Moscow by way of the world's deepest lake, Baikal, or stopping at Yekaterinburg, where the Romanov line of tsars came to a bloody end. The railway ends at magnificent Moscow with its gold-domed churches and austere Red Square, though it is possible to go on to St Petersburg. For an alternative route, take the Trans-Mongolian from Beijing and explore the steppes of Mongolia before meeting the mainline just near Lake Baikal - in fact many Western travellers use this route given the awkwardness of reaching Vladivostok from most points. Or, if you are looking for a slightly quieter route to Beijing, there is the Trans-Manchurian line, which turns south east of Mongolia.

Route 66, US
Few roads say Americana like this legendary route. While the name ceased to be used in 1985, young adventurers still pick up its path to see the best of the US. It begins in Chicago, where you can catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field; further on, see legendary blues in St Louis. Put your foot on the gas to hit Kansas, in the heartland of long flat plains. The road cuts through the Lone Star State of Texas, marking the halfway point with an epic junkyard sculpture. There is more cow poking in New Mexico then it is on to Arizona, boasting the longest uninterrupted stretch of the original route. California builds to the oasis of Los Angeles, with Hollywood and Rodeo Drive the climax of the trip.

Cape Town to Cairo
Ewan McGregor rode a motorbike north to south over most of this course to discover it was a Long Way Down, but this intrepid journey can begin or end in Cape Town. If starting at the bottom, head north into Botswana, where you can cruise the rivers to spot elephants in the Chobe National Park. Bear up into Tanzania, known for catch-it-while-you-can snowcapped Mt Kilimanjaro, or listen to the thundering of wildebeest across Serengeti National Park. Enjoy the serenity now - some of Africa's most difficult country lies ahead: Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan are all struggling with conflict. At the journey's end, Cairo promises the pyramids and a bustling city.

Gringo Trail, Peru
This popular loop links the country's biggest attractions. From upbeat capital Lima the trail traces the coast south to Paracas, where an excursion out to Islas Ballestas to spot penguins and sea lions is ideal. Toast Ica, Peru's wine and pisco (grape liquor) capital, then move on to Nazca to fly over the enigmatic Nazca lines. You can ascend to Arequipa, the "white city" of colonial architecture, and continue to Puno, Peru's port on Lake Titicaca. Hop on a bus to Cuzco for the archaeological mecca of South America, then walk the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu - or cheat and catch a train from Cuzco. From late May until early September, Machu Picchu's high season, 2,500 people arrive at the site per day - the maximum number allowed.

Europe by music festival
Do not see Europe, hear it. Travelers soak up the summer sun and sounds by driving a Kombi between their favourite gigs. The granddaddy of them all is the UK's Glastonbury, which has hosted big name rock acts plus comedy, circus and theatre since 1971. Another old-timer is Denmark's Roskilde, with a heavy-rocking slant, or get folked-up at Baltica, the international folk festival held in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Finland's World Air Guitar Championships always stuns. The sweet End of the Road Festival, also in the UK, is a low-key wind down with country-folk featuring strongly.

Silk Road
For centuries merchants have woven roads back and forth between China and Europe, each with their own secret path to transport silk, spices and other goods to markets faster. The modern road usually starts in China's Xi'an, home to the Terracotta Army of the Qin dynasty. It heads on to Urumqi, in China's wild west Xinjiang province, before splitting in two: one branch heading west into Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and another heading south to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. In northwestern China, Dunhuang is an essential stop on the Silk Road and is known for the Mogao Caves, which hold religious artefacts from all along the ancient trading route.

The article ‘Epic traveller’s routes’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

Thailand's unexplored north

Combining mountainous landscapes, cultural treasures and untouristed corners, Thailand’s north is arguably the part of the country most apt for exploration. Yet despite this, most visitors to the region head directly to Chiang Mai, followed by a trek in Chiang Rai or a tour of the ruins at Sukhothai. To inspire you blaze your own trail, we have put together a short list of towns and parks you will not find on any itinerary.

Lakeside living
Not even many Thais are aware of the northern city of Phayao. But tree-lined streets, antique wooden houses and an attractive lakeside setting combine to make it one of the more pleasant municipalities in northern Thailand.

The town's inauspicious highlight is Kwan Phayao, the largest swamp in northern Thailand. Framed by low mountains, the swamp is in fact much more scenic than its designation suggests and is the setting for some of the most beautiful sunsets in the country. It is also a great excuse to eat; Chuechan (Thanon Chai Kwan), a restaurant that looks out over Kwan Phayao, tends to get the most acclaim from locals.

Places to stay include the large and spotless rooms at Phuthong Place (335 Thanon Pratu Khlong) or the Gateway Hotel (7/36 Soi 2, Thanon Pratu Khlong), which offers views of Kwan Phayao.

Salt of the earth
In recent years the remote province of Nan has generated a low-key buzz for its rural setting and historic temples. Yet one destination that is largely remained off the radar is Ban Bo Luang, a picturesque village located more than 100km north of the eponymous provincial capital.

Squeezed between the Lao border and two mountainous national parks, Ban Bo Luang has long been associated with the extraction of salt from local salt wells (the village is colloquially known as Ban Bo Kleua, Salt Well Village). If you have got your own transport, Ban Bo Luang is also a good base for exploring nearby natural areas. Doi Phu Kha National Park is home to the province's highest peak as well as several hill-tribe villages, while Khun Nan National Park boasts an easy trail that culminates in a dramatic lookout over Laos.

Accommodation in Ban Bo Luang is limited to Boklua View (, where a handful of attractive hillside bungalows overlook the village and the Mang River that flows through it.

Diamond wall
Avoid the tour buses and crowds at Sukhothai and head for the lesser-visited ruins at Kamphaeng Phet. A Unesco World Heritage site, the park features the remains of structures dating back to the 14th Century.

The most accessible ruins lie immediately north of the modern city and were formerly surrounded by a wall (Kamphaeng Phet means "Diamond Gate"), while the majority of Kamphaeng Phet's ruins are found a few kilometers outside of the city. A helpful visitor centre at the latter provides context to the more than 40 temple compounds, among them Wat Chang Rob, a chedi surrounded by surprisingly intact elephant statues.

Red dawn
Between 1967 and 1982, Phu Hin Rong Kla, a mountain in remote Phitsanulok Province, served as the strategic headquarters for the Communist Party of Thailand (CPT) and its tactical arm, the People's Liberation Army of Thailand (PLAT). The revolution has long since been abandoned and today the area is a national park spanning 307 sq km of rugged, rocky mountains and forest. Highlights include the remains of CPT infrastructure, waterfalls, hiking trails and an abundance of interesting rock formations.

Thailand's Royal Forest Department ( can arrange accommodation, ranging from comfortable bungalows to tents.

The article ‘Thailand's unexplored north’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.