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Spontaneous challenges of a passionate traveler exploring a genuine world.

Hello!  My name is Giuseppe Emanuele Giampino and I am a strongly passionate traveler and photographer who wants to discover and record the greatest of the amazing nature offered by our globe.

Since I am fashioned with the sporty philosophy of the journey, I have made the decision of giving my contribution by sharing with you my grown expertise based on my travel background.

So far, I have traveled mostly in Europe and Asia where I have discovered such amazing attractions like the waterfalls shown in the picture below! 

My mission is to gather and organize all of my past and present travel experiences in order to convey you inspiration and enthusiasm in your travels!

Doi Inthanon national park

Hangover Pygmy cave: the 4th largest cave in the world

Dear readers,

during May 2022 I had the chance to explore the 4th largest cave in the world whose the name are Hangover Pygmy.

These caves are in Vietnam and are located in Phong Nha national park which belongs to Dong Hoi province, it is situated in the centre-north of Vietnam.

In order to reach them you need to go for a long strenuous trekking through a muddy and wet jungle, the trail itself is generally recommended for people who have good health conditions because not only are you supposed to watch your steps but also deal with lot’s of uphill with huge stamina, if you don’t have good physical condition then you’d better off!

That being said, if you feel in a shape, then you need to prepare yourself with some equipment and precautions:

  1. Bring long sleeves t-shirts
  2. Bring two pairs of long hiking trousers (you will need for a change the second day of trekking)
  3. Bring two pairs of long warm socks (same as above)
  4. Have a waterproof softshell jacket (better if GORE-TEX) because you may expect rainstorm at anytime
  5. Trekking shoes
  6. 1x vial of hydrogen peroxide (in case you accidentally touch a spiky trunk tree)
  7. 1x vial of iodine tincture

On top of that, there is some additional equipment to be taken in consideration but no worries: the tour guide will provide you with, because you are not allowed to trek to those caves by yourself 🙂

As for the tour guides, there is a choice of two companies: Jungle Boss and Oxalis, each of them proposes different tours since they have the exclusive license for exploring certain caves. Having picked up Pygmy cave I had to go with Jungle Boss. The interesting fact is that both tours have an ECO resort to accommodate the visitors, here below there are few pictures about Jungle Boss homestay:

They provide you with all the needful including the leeches repellent and two bottles of water each day of your stay 🙂

Coming to the tour itself, we were five attendees: four Vietnamese girls and I, of course I am not including the tour guide. We all were keen to start the adventure! The tour guide was very knowledgeable and recommended us to tuck your hiking trousers into your long socks to prevent the leeches from attacking your legs (but even so one attacked me). Be prepared to get dirty more and more, the jungle is wet and therefore muddy, staying clean is a kind of ‘mission impossible’, another thing the tour guide also provide you with waterproof gloves to avoid contact with dangerous bacteria!

After three hours of trekking with all the difficulties, we stop for having a lunch break, I personally slightly fell down twice, so always watch carefully your steps!

After the break we resumed our trekking to get to the entrance of Hangover cave, the scenery was simply amazing and breathtaking, see the pictures below:

The reason why it is named ‘Hangover’ is that this cave was discovered on the 20th century by a local guy who got drunk after discovering it!

We got through the first cave by walking, the shape is very wide, we could observe lot’s of stalactites and stalagmites, after crossing the first cave we got a way out to a short jungle path to enter Pygmy cave which was the main challenge! Here we were provided with helmet and fail-safe equipment because we were supposed to hike through a narrow and slippery trail through the stalagmites, on each passage we were required to attach one-by-one double carabiners to the next via ferrata, it took us forty minutes to get across till arrive to the abseiling point! Yes, we also had the greatest experience of abseiling 10 metres of gap!

Although I thought it is going to be a ‘mission-critical’, I managed to abseil with a good technic and smoothly till the bottom point. Once we passed the abseiling point, the only left experience of sch a riveting day was to swim at lake pool to chill-out ourselves and get ready for the dinner at the campsite by the exit of the cave. Here below there are few pictures about our camp site party 🙂

Finally, the second day we exit the cave and we came back to the outdoor life 😀 by trekking down to the to the valley through a steep and muddy jungle, it took us about five hours to get back to the starting point by a different trail.

In conclusion, it was a deep experience in the wild life, even if it costs some money (300$ approximately), it worth every single $ to give it a try! Just be mentally prepared to be out of the urban civilization and get very dirty and being bitten by one leech at least and all the rest will go swimmingly!

That being said, I will be gladly available to answer you about any concern. Do not hesitate to contact me or leave a comment!

Giuseppe

Chao Lao Beach: the hidden spot surrounded by pink rocks

Dear readers,

back to December 2021, I had the opportunity to come back to Thailand to visit some new secluded areas. My focus was on the eastern coast toward Cambodia, after having visited Pattaya and Rayong, I decided (as always) to get out of the ‘comfort zone’ and I headed to Chao Lao beach which is situated in the province of Chanthaburi, you can see the snapshot of the map below:

Overview map above

Unlike the very popular Pattaya city, this is a village where there are lot’s of affordable SPA resorts and now being the post-pandemic time there are very few foreigners (Thai people call them ‘farangs’) getting to this area. I stayed over three days and I did a deep exploration of the surrounding nature. The beach itself is really quiet, cleaned and like the old days, you can have a coconut juice or a lemonade while enjoying the beach, the surrounding sea is shallow which is ideal for families with kids. It is approximately four hours of driving or riding from Bangkok.

The second day that I was there, I decided to rent a motorbike for a further exploration to the very south of peninsula, I entered a national park by paying 200Baths, I parked the bike and I continued hiking to the Pink Stone spot. (See the map below)

The hiking itself is not so difficult and it takes max. half an hour, just you need to have proper shoes or hiking sandals to be safe, and obviously December falls on the dry season so just be prepared to sweat 🙂

Here below there few pictures of the Pink Stone spot:

The most surprising thing of this attraction is a shelter which is built by green glass bottles, I ventured to visited it inside and it looks weird and perhaps a bit scary if you get there at night! If you wish to learn more about the mysterious shelter, I have made a video-reportage by my action camera in which I lively visited it inside 🙂 Here below I have embedded the YouTube video:

Other than this intriguing shelter, I show you few pictures about the sandy beach of Chao Lao:

Usually, during the morning the sea water laps against part of the beach, however in the afternoon the sea water deflects further out to sea and the beach widens out: the last two pictures were taken in the morning time whereas all the others were taken in the afternoon, the difference is clearly visible 🙂

All in all, Chao Lao is a great compromise between having a rest away from the ‘city-life’ and a good opportunity for a soft-hiking, my guess it is ideal for family with kids and for couples on a romantic gateway. The only cons you may experience is that (if you are picky with the food) here you can’t get more than seafood, and last but not least be careful where you go to eat seafood and what you eat, some BBQ seafood may look tasty but then it might be painy to digest it, that was my case one evening: I got intoxicated by some sea snails which I guess were not properly washed out.

That being said, enjoy your experience in Chao Lao beach!

PLAYA ESCONDIDA: a secluded and almost inaccessible beach of Dominican Republic

Dear readers,

I am just back from having discovered Dominican Republic with its pros and cons: the first approach was very tough especially when it comes to dealing with the public safety and cleanliness. Before starting my tour I decided to rent a vehicle instead (I usually rent a motorbike), however this time nobody in the capital city Santo Domingo rented one due to the high volume of daily road accidents so I gave it up. One of the stops in my itinerary was Playa Escondida which means Hidden beach. This beach is situated approximately 3.4km away from the municipality of Las Terrenas.

There are theoretically three ways to get to Playa Escondida:

  1. By trekking through a wooded jungle trail with a muddy swamp in-between (the hardest and dangerous one)
  2. By trekking around the hilly landscape from a gate (if it’s open)
  3. By a boat from Las Terrenas beach on the other side (the safe way)

On top of that, my recommendation is to get as close as the Sailing Club which I highlighted in the snapshot of the map below. Here you can park your car or motorbike since by the area with limited access is not allowed to park.

Because I am a stubborn I went for the hardest choice and while I was starting to figure out how to get through, I met a Czech guy on the way (Martin) with a female friend, they were trying to figuring out and achieve the same goal as I was, after a short introduction we spontaneously took the challenge together, and here we run in to the first incognita:

After walking up to calle Loma Bonita we end up at VILLA CACIQUE OCEAN VIEW with a closed gate and we asked ourselves: what now?

We thought that the beach was only privately accessible from the villa and therefore we tried to talk to some rangers working at the Villa, they said that there was no access and the only way to get there is to override a boundary wall, hike down through the bushes and get through a muddy swamp. The Czech guy and I were eager to start off whereas the female fiend of his NOT. That said one of the rangers offered to us his help by cutting off some bushes on the way, I started hiking down until we get at the edge of the swamp and here the big fun came: the swamp was like a 10-metres gap between the wonderful beach and the jungle, however we couldn’t hike by any means straight through because we would have dived down at the first badass muddy watered spot.

I happened to put my left foot in such a invisible muddy spot and it was very scary since I had to try hard to release it, fortunately the ranger was nearby and rescued me immediately with his hand.

Here below there is a picture of the high bushes very close to the swamps

Meanwhile the Czech guy came down to the edge of the swamp with my backpack 🙂 We gave him the full awareness of the big danger to overcome in-between, to make it short we managed to find out a convoluted zig-zag path to minimize the big risk of diving down with the legs, it took us nearly one hour but it was truly rewarding! The rangers were with us and let us enjoy the most of it by cutting two coconuts from the palm tree so that we could have more liquids in our roaring stomachs 😀

Here below a stunning scenery of Playa Escondida and myself captured drinking the coconut:

While being on the beach I took the advantage of having some squat exercise to support the leg muscles, this is an exercise which I recommend it to everybody adult like me to do it on daily basis.

To sum it up, when you lie the beach you may be feeling in a small paradise which is the ideal to be there for a romantic and exotic day with a girlfriend 🙂 I strongly recommend of getting there by boat, or if you really have to hike, never go alone, always keep in mind that you can not be the best expert of the local nature :O Hike through the swamps is an hellish experience, let’s be wise with our life, so just have ranger with you who knows how it is the situation. Last but not least, I did it during the beginning of the dry season, during the wet season it would be a sort of mission IMPOSSIBLE to get across. For your reference the dry season in Dominican Republic is usually from November through March.

Having said that, enjoy the trip with precautions!

Giuseppe

ONE YEAR OF COVID-19 PANDEMIA: WHAT CHANGED IN THE HUMAN COMMUNITY?

Dear readers,

today by far a bit more than one year is spent from the COVID-19 outbreak, a deep chance of habits among us human has occurred even we did not want it by any means.

One year ago, myself was just back from my last overseas travel to Asia and yet I was not really aware what such virus pandemia was about and how serious consequences could bring, now I could say that by travelling in that time I take charge of a potential huge risk not only for my personal health and someone’s health but also because the outbreak turned out a sort of ‘worldwide war regime’ since no Country in the world was enough prepared to face up such a worldwide emergency and as a result each Country during March 2020 started to close the borders for the tourism like a domino effect, therefore I risked of not returning back to my living Country, however fortunately I landed at Vienna airport right on the last day before they would have fully-closed it to start arranging all the COVID-19 precautions. I have to admit that at the beginning I underestimated the situation by believing that such a virus would have been faded out like when it happend with SARS in 2003.

If we were to make an objective assessment of the situation, we would say that before the COVID-19 we humans were used too much to the COMFORT zone: we had everything granted, hang-out anytime and anywhere we wanted, have a plenty of choice about What-to-Do and Where-to-Go, all this spoilt us very much, nevertheless we never seemed to be happy because we never took into account that a worldwide health issue could affect us, we were under the illusion of being invulnerable, in fact we are NOT.

I would say that COVID-19 pandemia is like a 4th worldwide war with the only difference that this is not fought with (chemical) weapons, so if before the human was never satisfied suddenly he/she ended up to comply with a sort of regime. For some of us this has been being a great opportunity to discover ourselves from the spiritual point of view (check the past article https://giuseppegiampino.com/2020/04/12/easter-time-over-the-covid-19-outbreak-a-great-opportunity-to-research-and-plan-something-new/), start to plan/rethink our future life including our ambitions, hobbies, etc. in other words this situations still represents for us a clear opportunity for growing.

One spontaneous question we should try to answer is: how our ancestors who experienced the 1st and 2nd worldwide war would react to this situation if they were to be still alive?

I personally gave an answer to this question and I say that I firmly believe that they would be wise enough and responsible. Unfortunately and Fortunately neither are our ancestors alive nor we experienced war time (at least in Europe).

What can the pros and cons of COVID-19 pandemia be?

I have drawn out the following PROS:

  1. Less mobility which means a decrease of the worldwide pollution
  2. Re-discover our spirituality by leaving apart unnecessary distractions
  3. Learn how to behave with one another and try to put aside our being superficial

CONS:

  1. Deterioration of the social relationships since they are permanently being replaced by virtual relationships
  2. Widespread fear of doing any activity

Naturally, more CONS can be identified, however if we focus too much on those we would never overcome the current situation. Let’s try to imagine how people from rural villages e.g. in Indonesia are living this situation, probably they may not be aware of this virus and even if they are they are used to a genuine and simple life-style and they do not psychologically suffer this situation very much.

Last but not the least, most of us as world explorers asks this question: when could we return to explore the globe? 🙂

There is no certainty about this point and beyond the covid-19 issue there are other matters such as the pollution and sustainability, e.g. the intensive air traffic is a big source of pollution for our planet and even barely the worldwide medias seriously talks about it, I firmly believe that in the coming future we will have to get used to a new idea of travelling which does not include fuel-powered means of transport, we all know that the future of the planet is entirely on our hands.

Having said that, I warmly welcome you to comment with your hints and remarks on how to deal with the pandemia as much best as possible for our good human future.

Giuseppe

COLD BATH TRAINING: A ‘HEALTHY’ morning therapy

Dear readers,

This time, I am covering a topic which not everybody might like: as per title above is the COLD BATH. Since March 2020 when the COVID-19 outbreak started, most of sports facilities were closed down during the 1st wave and now again over the 2nd wave, there have been being poor chances to swim on any indoor pool. So a friend of mine and I thought we could try a cold bath as a morning therapy once per week at 7am.

Why cold bath?

Despite some contradictory visions of some scientists and researchers, it is scientifically proven that such a therapy can have four positive impacts as follow:

  1. Less muscle soreness
  2. Faster cooldown if you’re overheated
  3. May boost your immune system
  4. May ease symptoms of depression

To be fair, I am not that expert scientist to meaningfully comment all the four advantages, however, since I believe in the wellness latin philosophy of ‘Mens sana in corpore sano‘ I didn’t think twice to go for it, test those four advantages and finally share my experience here.

In order to accomplish this mission, a friend of mine and I identified a small lake called ‘Kuchajda‘ in the city where we live (Bratislava) which is easily reachable either by public transportation or by bicycle! Moreover, the lake itself is deemed to be safe from the bacteria. The first time we gave a try was in the end of March 2020, the water was rather cold like +8°C, being enthusiastic, the first time I immersed myself in the water and started swimming around straight away without even warming up my muscles, this approach didn’t work out: I got fatigued with breathing and I had to return to the edge.

Later, I figured out that all we need for a smooth achievement of the cold bath is to gradually immerse your body until the water hits your neck, once the water hits it then you can just relax by stretching your arms on the water for three minutes at least, also do not forget to breath slowly with your mouth to optimize your resistance, on the third minute you might realize that your body gets in temperature by having a calorific reaction to the cold water as well as your skin gets more and more reddish with goosebumps 🙂 At that point we could slowly start swimming as a free-style by properly coordinating each single movements of our arms and the feeling would likely be that we are swimming with good stamina.

The stamina may vary from individual to individual, so neither do overestimate your energies nor underestimate them, and for some human subjects the cold bath with swimming might not be suitable at all.

Here below I have embedded a recorded video of my recent cold bath session at Kuchajda city lake:

Cold bath session at Kuchajda city lake – Bratislava SK

Here below, I show you a freshly-taken picture about how reddish the skin colour of my feet was

In conclusion, If I were to provide with a feed-back to those four advantages, I would do as follows:

  1. Less muscle soreness: being an IT worker who works all the time sat on a desk with ergonomic chair, I can proudly say that the muscle soreness on shoulders, shoulder blades and backbones are drastically mitigated!
  2. Faster cooldown if you’re overheated: Yes, I feel like my body temperature is lowered after that and as a benefit I do not perceive much coldness in the outdoor environment after that 🙂
  3. May boost your immune system: Yes, I did notice that every time I practiced the cold bath by deeply breathing I never got a flu after that 🙂
  4. May ease symptoms of depression: to be fair, I am not that expert. However, I noticed on myself that makes me feel in a good mood during the morning time which is important, it could be an effective weapon against the anxiety!

Having said that, more cold bath sessions will follow during the coldest winter months, one of those is expected to happen at icy pond in the mountains, I will keep you posted about the outcomes! Meanwhile I encourage you to try to experience the same!

If you want to learn more about it, you can check out this meaningful reference: https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-water-therapy#weight-loss

Other than that, I strongly recommend you to Do Your Own Research about cold/ice bath. Feel free to comment and share your own experience!

Giuseppe

Sihanoukville: a future coastal paradise or a town in disarray?

Dear readers,

following my last travel experience spent in Cambodia of which three days in the coastal city of Sihanoukville and some latest news about the renovation process of the town, I have gained some insights to deal with such a hot topic.

This town is the landmark to transfer by ferries to the Koh Rong islands and until two years ago used be a lively and ordered town in which most of Cambodians spent some relaxing holidays, however later on 2019 some radical changes started occurring, some Chinese investors had come to the place to finance a huge project to transform the city into a temple of luxury Hotel Casinos, brothels and shopping malls, for not talking about wild yields and clay roads, although my expectations were positive as I just landed at the airport, at first sight I noticed that something was wrong and on the way to city by a taxi cab it was more and more negative impressing, and when I reached my accommodation they delivered me the bad news that there was no water supply in that street since two days ago, nevertheless I didn’t give up and I started taking a look around, it didn’t take me much to realize that town itself is ruled by Chinese people which are more than 50% of the residents, moreover it is under the anarchy of the yields and the bulldozers which suddenly can block the access to the streets or narrow the lanes.

Here below I have embedded an impressive YouTube video about what it is going on Sihanoukville, watch it carefully:

Overview picture of the serious decay in Sihanoukville

Now, we all know that ‘fortunately’ and ‘unfortunately‘ the power of the business leads and rules most of the globe, however the question is how can they have run multiple yields at once throughout the town without a structured organizzative plan and moreover with no control from the state?

As for my short experience of staying in Sihanoukville, I would say that most of streets are land of nobody then especially in the night time, besides that, I was personally advised by the guest house owner of not leaving the motorbike parked outside the guest house hall because of the raised level criminality around town, so I had the feeling I was in the wrong place.

What appeared to be clear is that the Chinese investors corrupted the political representatives and therefore they gave them the power to do whatever they wanted no matter if this causes serious pollution and environmental disruption, they just concern about to speed up multiple constructions such as buildings, renewal of the water supply pipes and canalize the traffic in most of town streets. As a result all this at once turned out a serious mess.

Look below at the emblematic paradox at the landmark picture of the roundabout by the beach:

From this perspective above, we would say that there is apparently nothing wrong with the town, however when turning round the corner the enormous mess will show, here below there are few picture of the dark face of Sihanoukville:

I believe that this is enough impressive to show the huge contradiction between of the landmark symbol of the town and the disaster just few metres away. This photo report was made on the period February 29th to March 2nd. I know that I might have missed some further details, however having rented a motorbike I believe that this scenario is representative of what it is going on.

One side note is that I personally had the feeling to be one of the few daredevil adventurers, but on the other hand to be fair if I had made a deep research of the region itself, I would probably have avoided such a destination, so the learned lesson is ‘Always do your own deep research‘ and do net rely on what Google maps shows you.

The only attraction I feel to recommend (perhaps one day when the order is restored) is gorgeous Buddhist pagoda called ‘Samathi‘ which is about 20km far from the town, here below I have attached two pictures:

Such an attraction is ideal for chilling and meditating 🙂 behind the pagoda there are some walking stairs to a nice Chinese Buddha statue 🙂 and few more shadowed spots around.

Here below you have the google map link: https://goo.gl/maps/JCGW38RENcuw6BAD7

To sum it up, the running of multiple constructions does not work out by any means but instead put into serious healthy risks the living community by raising Luxury Hotel and Casino with gambling, is really that what we want? If the intention of the Cambodian government is to turn the town into a VIP destination ruled by an oligarchy, the question is:

Are we sure that both foreigners and Cambodian will be still willing to travel here?

Here below in this detailed articles we find some answers with some detailed explanations of the wild mafia of investors is dealing with the transformation of Sihanoukville:

https://www.voacambodia.com/a/a-pandemic-and-gambling-ban-has-left-cambodia-new-shenzhen-unfinished/5458750.html

https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/long-reads/article/3051344/sihanoukville-cambodian-magnet-chinese-casinos

Whatever the future of Preah Sihanouk region will be, the huge clutter spreaded all around will not be cleared any time soon and the local community will sadly suffer out of it.

Any remark is welcomed on this HOT topic!

Giuseppe

Patterns of Journey for travelers who likes the ‘sense-of-discovering’

Dear readers,

since the COVID-19 outbreak started off, most of the ordinary businesses for the tourist industry were forced to disrupt its activities, now after three months of such a pandemic outbreak, each Country of the globe is considering to re-open some activities by categorizing it into a number of phases, however so far nobody knows whether the corona virus will be defeated any time soon.

Let’s assume we will get soon over the ‘COVID-19‘ tunnel, for our future travelling challenges we may want to consider a new pattern of exploring journey which puts us out of the so-called ‘comfort-zone’ 🙂 For instance: during one of my past travels I met a Swedish guy “Tariq” who ventured to travel all the way from Sweden to Malaysia by a cross-trail bicycle, it took him approximately nine months to get through by taking several stops in many Countries in-between, even it may sound extreme this is a great example of an ECO-friendly and riveting globe trotting 😉 of course this choice does not fit everybody, it involves us to have a strong mind-set as well as a very-flexible attitude.

In this regard, we can identify three categories of travelers out of the comfort zone:

  1. Temporary traveller
  2. Medium-long term traveller
  3. Permanent traveler

Let’s pick up the first category which is likely the one concerning most of us:

First of all I would classify as a temporary traveller whoever travels for 30 days maximum, here since we perceive the time-pressure, we are supposed to know what we want get from our short ‘adventure’ by excluding any unnecessary thing as much as possible.

In order to achieve this, we need to set up a structure which helps us to decide what it is for and where we can do this and that, e.g. if we are in for the outdoor sports, then we would be focusing on where and when you could get the most of it, we would be neglecting unrelated activities such as nightlife. Short-term travel might look like over-planned because of the narrow time frame, however if we carefully focus our attention on few activities we can still have a room for some creativity, perhaps some of us may be asking, how can we?

In this regard, I am glad to share with you a draft plan that I prepared before travelling to Vietnam earlier on 2019, I used to make such an itinerary plan for 15 days, so it falls under category 1. (use the bottom horizontal scroll bar to display all the other days)

DAY/StagesFri 26th Apr.Saturday 27th AprSunday 28 AprMon 29 Apr.Tue 30 Apr.Wed 1 MayThu 2 MayFri 3 MaySat 4 MaySun 5 MayMon 6 MayTue 7 MayWed 8 MayThu 9 MayFri 10 MaySat 11 MaySun 12 May
1Regiojet bus Bratislava —-> Vienna airportFlight Bangkok —> Ha Noi 7:45am – 9:35am
by Thai Airways
Check-out at the hostel and morning photo-tour (free improvisation)If Sapa, then the challenge will hopefully be: http://sapaochau.org/sapa-trekking-and-homestay/sapa-trek-and-tour/trekking-tours/off-the-beaten-track-2-day/Off-beten trekking tour part 2Morning arrival at Ha Noi: Stay at Ha Noi or further bus to Cat Ba island?Fulld-day Jungle trekking tour in CatBaFull-day of kayaking around Lan Ha Bay by exploring the floating villagesBus back to Ha Noi, transfer to Hai Pong?
Or 1 more day by chilling in CatBa island?
Back in Ha Noi with a booked accommodationBooked plan to visit Hoi An:
VietJet Internal flight Ha Noi – Da Nang
Full-dive tour around Hoi An, and/or visit to the nearby islands?Ck-out from the Hoi An resort and transfer to the Da Nang airportHa Noi city lifeAs previous dayFinal good-bye dayArrival of inbound flight scheduled at 7:35am Vienna airport
2Flight Vienna – Bangkok 2:35pm – 5:35am (+1day)
by Thai Airways
ETA for Ha Noi: around 11:00am2pm: Bus to Sapa? Or to Cat Ba island? http://greensapabus.com
https://catbaexpress.com/bus-hanoi-to-cat-ba.html
1st full day of off-beaten trekking path tourEnding time: 5pmIf CatBa, then estimated arrival after 11am and check for a last-minute accommodation.Ref. https://www.asiaoutdoors.com.vn/kayak.htmlImprovised soft tours/chilling
time prior to the forthcoming planned flight transfer to middle-Vietnam
Ck-in at a booked resort with poolPhoto-walking, small shopping, chilling at the resort and more.Fly back to Ha Noi. Booked accommodation for the next 3 nihtsPhoto-walking, small shopping, wellness, chilling time, etc.As previous dayAs previous day
PS: need to by a suitcase to carry extra new gadgets bought over the last 3days?
3Ck-in at the booked hostelNo accommodation is bookedas aboveNight bus back to Ha NoiAfternoon time in CatBa:
check and book for jungle trekking tour and for a kayaking trip for the two upcoming days Ref. https://www.asiaoutdoors.com.vn
Trekking ends by 5pm.Kayaking ends by 5pmOverview approaching visit at the city centre of Hoi An UNESCO heritage, full of colorful lights, traditional shops and Cafes.Afternoon time: start of grand-finale with pure improvisation what-to-do and where to goIf so, there are still few hours till 5:30pm to do so 🙂
4Ha Noi overview sightseeing*For Sapa accommodation might be provided by the tour agent http://sapaochau.orgas aboveSleep on the busChlling/sleeping time to get back in a shapeEvening time: (Post-)Sunset photoshooting?One more sunset shooting session?Sunset shooting session in
Ha Noi?
Photoshooting session by the sunset as well as at night5:30pm: deadline to transfet to Ha Noi international airport.
5Get to Sapa O’Chau branch to know details about the off-beaten trek in SapaEvening stroll in Sapa to check the poor ppl villagesSleeping at the planned homestay by the tour agent at half-way of the tourIf stay in Ha Noi, then chilling time and decide what and where-to nextTrekking dayKayaking and evening chil-out around CatBa townChill-out/motorbike tour
(if CatBa)
Photo-walking/chill-outThai Airways flight to Bangkok scheduled at 8:45pm
6Evening chill-out
treno 4/g a sett)
Bratislava –> Vienna airportHa NoiHA Noi –> Sapa? Cat Ba island?Sapa O ChauSapa -> Ha NoiHa Noi? -> CatBa island?CatBa islandCatBa IslandCataba//HaI Pong/Ha NoiHa NoiHa Noi -> Hoi AnHoi An/Islands
nearby
Hoi An -> Ha NoiHa NoiHa NoiHa Noi (final day) – departure back to EU
Ha Noi -> Bangkok -> Vienna
Draft itinerary plan for northern and central Vietnam 2019

It might look cumbersome, however it isn’t 🙂

From this practical example, you might notice several activities which are related to the place you want to explore, i.e. Sapa area is mostly for hiking and trekking, alternatively the town of Sapa offers SPA and other chilling activities, in both cases you may want to include the photography as a hobby 🙂 Besides that, you can break each single single day into sateges, maximum 6 stages would be enough for not making it too cumbersome; some of those stage can be left as a ‘jolly’ so that you would be deciding on the spot about what to go for 🙂

When it comes to the ‘medium-long’ term journey the things are different, we do not need for such an accurate itinerary plan, however we still need to know where we want to go and what we want to do as basic, in this regard I would pick up as example the 37-days journey which I experienced in 2018; here, since my core focus was to enjoy the nature, I came to the decision to dedicate a full month travelling around Indonesia, after that I spent the last 7 days in Kuala Lumpur and then in Singapore, yes just seven days were worthy since the city life was the second concern of my journey 🙂

To be fair, this is a kind of journey which requires some time to make our own research and possibly get inspirations by some locals we meet by chance in our living country, it will help us a lot, for instance, before travelling to Indonesia, I had a chance to meet two indonesian women in my living town, I mentioned them about my travel plan and since I wanted to travel first to Java for 14 days and then move to Sumbawa for just 3 days and finally to Flores for 11 days, they nicely managed to persuade me to cut out 3 days for Sumbawa and I spent three more days in Flores instead.

As a result, I got more than enough time to enjoy a motorbike tour across Flores, if you wish to read more just refer to this article: https://pathsunbeaten.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/flores-the-conservative-face-of-indonesia-with-surprising-people-on-the-way/

One hint I want to give you is that if you are travelling in a not-so-developed country, you will benefit a lot from renting a motorbike because you will have more space for the improvisation and more chance to discover some unbeaten spots 🙂 For your convenience I have embedded a screenshot about what was the motorbike tour I did on the way to the east (I could just fit 10 stops on it, in fact I did more)

10 Key-stops in Flores

Finally, the permanent journey is something which we know when we start but we don’t know whether or if ever ends, honestly in this kind of journey I can’t be helpful because so far in my life I haven’t experienced one, however my guess is that all we need is just answer the following questions:

  1. What is your mission?
  2. How do you want to be globetrotting?
  3. How do you want to live?
  4. What are your expectations out of it?

If you are able to answer these questions above, it likely means that you are ready to take the challenge! Based on my personal experience with the temporary and medium-long term travel, I venture to say that such a journey should be experienced as a backpacker (at least as you start on it), secondly you shouldn’t plan anything in advance but you’d rather go on the spur of the moment which mean pure improvisation, it should be journey which often (if not always) put ourselves out of the ‘comfort-zone’.

Perhaps before taking such a challenge, it could be advisable to experience a one or two-months journey, however each of us in the world have a different life attitude, so even the one who never traveled in his/her life and is going for the first time might succeed his/her mission and have something meaningful to teach or share with other humans 🙂

Having said that that, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments on such three patterns of journey as well as feel free to suggest your ideas 🙂

Giuseppe

Easter time over the COVID-19 outbreak: a great opportunity to research and plan something new

Dear readers,

this Easter (fow who celebrates it) is by no doubt different than any other previous Easter we ever experienced so far in our life, the keen travelers like me are now on stand-by and forced to deal with some other activities, let’s say we are just out of the conventional every-day lifestyle we have enjoyed so far, for instance, our social activities are narrowed as well as the sport activities, however the world is not over, we just need to be more flexible than ever in adapting to a pattern of a new life.

One day, after spending few days at a friend’s place by meditating about ‘what next’, we found interesting the aspects of human spirituality by watching the following YoutuBe video that I share here below for you:

No worries! Just the cover is written in Italian and it means: ‘Arise the level of energy by staying sat down at home‘ , the speech of the video is delivered in english, the guy himself is an Indian yogi and author who raised a foundation focused on various fields of spirituality.

Regardless the religious belief that each of us belongs to, the content of the video is instructive, just don’t get discouraged with the beginning of the video which opens up with spiritual meditation of the body, after that he delivers his speech, during that he points out that the spiritual exercise can be very effective and can help us to re-discover our blissful of joy.

I believe that nowadays most us humans struggle in finding the (real) joy and as a result we let our brain to reason what makes us happy, what we believe that makes us joyful in fact is fake (just appearance) however most of us dislike facing the truth and this is how our ordinary life-style works.

Having traveled to India and few more asian countries where Hinduism and Buddhism are the dominant religions, I venture to say that they emphasize the meditation and spirituality a lot as a part of the ordinary the life-style, by this I do not mean that everybody in India, Thailand, Cambodia, etc. strictly follows this as a rule, the frenetic consumerist life-style contaminated everybody who works for a corporation business, and this is a sort of enemy for our spirituality.

Amongst other things, nobody knows whether we will be able to resume our ordinary ‘life-as-usual’ as it used to be until few months ago, therefore if some of us was entirely focused on making profitable business on the individual basis then we should resize our vision of the world, I believe that we all know that money at the end is just an illusion of happiness, for example people regardless their pockets are naturally supposed to actively contribute for a better collective life environment and we can not expect that someone will do it for us, otherwise the principle of human equality will never be applied 😦

To sum it up, I consider myself lucky enough to have explored thirty Countries of the globe, of which 23 in Europe and 7 in Asia, however these numbers would be meaningless if one doesn’t commit oneself to learn something from someone’s else culture, perhaps now for a while we won’t have chance to explore other cultures, so my recommendation is: let’s try use the best of what we learned out of having visited different cultures and see how it works, I believe that everybody is able to do so 🙂

Having said that, enjoy watching the video and feel free to share your thoughts!

Giuseppe

MALANG: not only volcanoes but also waterfalls and hot-springs.

REVISED article about central-east Java of Indonesia

Pathsunbeaten@Blog - Spontaneous travel challenges off the beaten path

Dear explorers,

Malang is the name of the town as well as the region which is situated in the hearth of east Java land, this region like Banyuwangi  offers a variety of nature from volcanoes to plenty of waterfalls as well as hot-springs, most of them are not known by any foreign traveler  (I might have been the first brave guy getting there :-D).

Briefly, I summarize for you three key outdoor attractions which worth trip to this region:

  1. Night-Morning hiking trip to Bromo National park
  2. Waterfalls: Coban Putri , Coban Rais , Coban Talun and Coban Rondo
  3. Cangar (Hot-springs).

I personally made the decision to start the challenge with the touristy night-morning hiking to Bromo volcano, here you have two choices to get there:

  1. Rent a proper off-road motor-cycle
  2. Book a basic package tour through your accommodation provider

I went for the second option since I just…

View original post 639 more words

BEING A WORLD EXPLORER DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC TIME

Dear fellow readers,

most of us are aware of the fact that the pandemic spreading the coronavirus prevented us from travelling around the globe indefinitely 😦

However, few of us were lucky enough to afford to travel and stay safely until a certain point, this was my case and I am glad to share with you some relevant facts about what went on while exploring another part of the world: I traveled for a period of twenty days from 26th of February through 17th of March to South-East Asia, I explored Cambodia and Thailand, being an Italian living abroad but still holding an Italian passport it was not an easy challenge:

I was originally supposed to travel to Cambodia and then to Vietnam, by the time I started travelling all the way from Europe to Cambodia everything was smooth with no hassles, despite the media already on February started getting us warned and scared about the growing cases globally, for instance at Vienna airport nobody checked the temperature of the boarding passenger, only when I approached Bangkok airport they checked my temperature before transferring to another gate to fly to my final destination, in addition, I noticed that at Bangkok airport they provided everywhere spare hand-sanitizer gel.

Generally speaking, after entering Cambodia most of people appeared to be very-relaxed like they did not want to care much about precautions for coronavirus, the clerk of the villa resort where I stayed in Siem Reap told me that there were no (recorded) cases in the region, however if you went to some pharmacies you could buy all the precautions you needed e.g. antibacterial hand gel and masks with filter.

This situation gave me lot’s of motivation to quietly continue on my trip, however this does not mean that we do not have to care about hygiene and so on, we MUST: Roads are usually dusty with red sands aside and badly-surfaced, so when you trip around either by a tour agent or on your own by (motor-)bike you will inevitably get dirty skin, I recall that I treated my hands with the antibacterial six times a day, dry hot weather and dust are terrible, look at the pictures below:

The most extreme scenarios I ever experienced were in Sihanoukville region: the city is completely being rebuilt with constructions, water pipes, road infrastructure and so on all at the same time with no safety rules, here the hygiene was an extreme challenge, I count that I disinfected my hands ten times per day for not talking about that I got to wash urgently my nose masks and even my backpack which became from blue to black colour!! This is just a not-to-go place for the time being.

Other than that, Cambodia has reported only 103 cases so far, it is difficult to argue on it, perhaps many factors like weather might leverage the spreading of the viruses, who knows? In any case you can keep following up the cases on this link: https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

After seven days spent in Cambodia, I got ready and keen to fly to Vietnam, I had a scheduled flight early in the morning from Phnom Penh airport, but here a rocking surprise came out:

Being an Italian traveler with Italian passport I was denied at the check-in counter to fly to Vietnam, the reason for that? Vietnamese government enforced new restrictions for the italians just two days before my flight (3rd of March), no reason was worth to persuade them that I am an italian resident in another European Country, so I had to re-think my travel plans for the other 13 days. I would suggest you the following basic approach

  1. What do we want to do next?
  2. Where do we want to go next?
  3. How to manage it with some improvisation? 🙂

Even if a badass happened, it is a valuable experience to take it with energy to move on! Despite the clerk at the check-in was not so kind they still gave me a hint by suggesting me to stay and enjoy Cambodia longer, so I sat on a bench and picked-up my laptop, I started doing my own research and I gave myself an answer about What and Where, the outcome was Thailand, indeed it turned out to be a wise choice since any other Country few days later started to close the borders for the Italians (Thailand included), at least I could catch the final vector of the returning flight back to Europe, also the travelling life got simplified!

Now you may be asking how I managed it:

Being provided with a laptop and a smartphone with local SIM mobile data, I checked forthcoming departures to Bangkok and I caught an Air Asia flight to Bangkok which was just three hours upfront the current time, I just booked and paid for it, since I had time I could afford to make a research about where to go and what to visit since Thailand was not a new Country for me, this made me to decide to explore the North Thailand which is just a way less touristy than in the south and characterized by some national parks with some jungle trails to go for. Look at the pictures below:

Thailand itself is nowadays a well-developed country, in every public place they always provide you with hand-wash gel, they seemed to me to be more picky than any European country at least in the urbanized areas, when it comes to the life of people in the rural village they feel safe by doing their own life and as opposite they felt scared as they saw some exploring foreigner hiking through, one tour guide said that they think we could spread them COVID-19 , so all we did with some of them not friendly was just keeping some distance as a sign of respect, however nobody of us was not allowed to say them ‘hi‘ or better ‘S̄wạs̄dī‘ in Thai!

All in all, this is a life experience that I strongly suggest go for it, cancel your time off and go back to your ordinary country is the very last thing you should do, in these circumstances would have been a huge mistake which only could get you a way more frustrated, so never give up as long as you have a leeway to adjust your plans but let’s be responsible with the hygiene in this time! Finally, try to improvise some situations when ‘shit happens’ 🙂

Feel free to share your own experience!

Giuseppe