Category Archives: Asia

Food and places I’ll never forget My Lonely Planet of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan had been sitting on my shelf for a few years. During the pandemic I’d traveled, but only within Europe, staying close to home. Although Europe has so many amazing places to explore, I wanted something different. Something that would feel truly foreign. A place I didn’t know anything about. When I bought the Lonely Planet, I’d thought I may visit Georgia, or Azerbaijan. I have no idea why, but I ended up planning a visit to Armenia. It was the best decision! My trip wasn’t without glitches. My airline decided to cancel the flight and put me on a flight the next day. A minor detail they forgot to tell me about! Luckily I tried checking in online, got confused and found out about the canceled flight on the phone. The lady sitting next to me…

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It’s not a popular thing to say, but my first visit to Istanbul didn’t leave me raving about the city like many other people do. I finished a tour there, with 1,5 days to explore the main sights. Although Hagia Sophia and the Blue mosque were impressive, I had felt uneasy and confused for most of my time is this gigantic city. But now, when my manager suggested to go meet the team in Istanbul, my first business trip in this job, I gladly took the offer. Arrangements needed to be made fairly last minute and once again I was uneasy and confused, but this time in the process of corporate travel. The feeling disappeared when I landed, got through passport control and found my way to the Havaist bus to the city. The bus was 1 minute away from departing, so I was glad I caught it and could…

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At 6.30AM I walked through the empty streets of Yerevan on a Sunday morning. There were only a few joggers and the odd cyclist. Everyone else was still asleep. But today I had plans: a group hiking trip to the Dilijan National Park. When I reached the meeting point I was surprised to see a big bus waiting for all of us. We were hiking with 50-ish people! As we drove north we picked up a few people on the highway until the bus was pretty much full. I had the idea that everyone was Armenian. Everyone seemed to understand each other apart from me. After catching a glimpse of lake Sevan we stopped at a huge rest area, with supermarket, petrol station, restaurant and café. It appeared to be the must-do stop on the way north. When we left the bus drove through a small town and up the…

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I loved spending some time in the Dilijan National Park. The views were just incredible, whether it was from the town of Dilijan, from the drives around there or from the hikes I did. Although there are many day trips from Yerevan, this place deserves a bit more time, especially if you like to hike. I read a few too many warnings about shepherd dogs in the mountains. After being bitten twice already on my travels, I’ve developed a fear of dogs I can’t seem to shake. So I decided to stick to some short trails because I was alone. Medieval monasteries trail – 3,5 km loop About 6 km from the bus station in Dilijan is the start of the Medieval monasteries trail. As the name suggests, the path leads you to the 13th century monasteries of Jukhtakvank and Matosavank. When I arrived at the start, a local man…

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When I take out travel insurance, I always assume “I won’t need it anyway”, but buy it “just in case”. Luckily I haven’t been in any major accidents that racked up hospital bills, but I do have some interesting doctor experiences abroad. I once spent a night in a hospital in Australia, got experience with Laotian, Cambodian and Peruvian doctors when I got bitten by dogs and I discovered Burmese health care. In this last case I am still unsure of what was actually wrong with me, although I have a feeling it had to do with exposure to the sun. Although the Burmese are wonderful people, my doctor visits were well, interesting… Merry Christmas? For my Christmas in Myanmar I decided to go on a 3 day trekking from Kalaw to Inle Lake. It was the most amazing experience and my hiking group became a little family. But when…

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Venturing into the Khao Sok national park My boat sped up on the big lake of Khao Sok national park in Thailand. Water splashed in my face since I was at the very edge of the boat. I tried to protect my camera and bag, while looking around me mesmerized by the landscape. Massive yellow blocks of limestone rose from the water, covered in the green of the jungle. Above them thick, grey clouds loomed, threatening to ruin our adventure. I was on my way to an idyllic place in the middle of the lake, where small bungalows connected through wooden walkways floated on the water. It would have been spectacular on a clear day. After an hour the boat dropped me and the other travellers off at the bungalows. The small huts floated on big logs. They were simple, but I felt like I was in a luxurious resort.…

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Even on my way to Phonsavan I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the trip. But that’s the thing about traveling, if you take a chance, at times you’re rewarded with unique experiences you never expected to have. Phonsavan is the capital of the most bombarded province in the world! Not just Laos, but the world! Still thousands of bombs are scattered around the landscape. In Laos, people still get hurt by unexploded ordnance on a daily basis. So why on earth was I heading this way? It took me over 6 hours to get here from the popular Van Vieng. At the North bus station I boarded a big family car. What!? Yeah, this was my bus. My bag ends up on the roof and I sit on a fold-out seat next to the window. There are 3 rows of people and 2 people squeeze in next to…

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Our guide Lo started awkwardly introducing himself on the ride to Paksong. He sounded a bit like a robot, coming through in pieces, as if I had a bad Skype connection. As it turned out, this was just his style of talking and had nothing to do with nerves. He explained a bit about the great adventure we were embarking on. When we arrived in the small town where our journey would start, harnesses were already spread out on the ground. Around the property lay loads of big tarps on which coffee beans were drying. The harnesses looked strange in this setting. But we needed them for our ziplinging jungle adventure. Our group consisted of myself and 2 other solo female travelers, an Italian family and some Korean men. Some carabiners and a pulley were attached to our harnesses, we got a helmet and were ready to go. We had…

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In Europe we are quite used to history being intertwined with our present and future. We shop in heritage buildings, visit towns with ancient city walls and don’t always take the time to appreciate it. It isn’t until we visit a place that’s missing this history that we realise what we’ve got. Yet when we are abroad tend to seek out the history of foreign places. Rarely have I experienced history, as in Zein-O-Din caravanserai. Until the 1500s the silk road was a major network of trading route running from East to West, or China to Europe. People travelled in caravans and traded goods along the way. But they also exchanged their cultures, like art, religion and language, and unfortunately also disease. A caravan travelled on a familiar path and would pass on their goods at certain transfer points and then pick up things to take the other way. Along…

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After a beautiful morning exploring the ruins of Persepolis, we were filling our bellies and processing all the beauty at local buffet restaurant. We had just finished our after-lunch tea when our tour leader said it was time to go. Whereas we were usually pretty relaxed since we had a small group, our leader was now a bit agitated when some people browsed at the book shop a bit too long. He urged us to make our purchases and get on the bus. Something was up. Once we were on our way back to the city of Shiraz, our tour leader explained what was happening. The Iranian government had increased the petrol prices by 200% overnight and the people were not happy. All over the country people had taken to the streets to protest and we weren’t sure if we could reach Shiraz. As we drove in the direction of…

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