Monthly Archives: March 2013

Dreams, turtles and mango

 

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I’ve been travelling all over the world, almost and every trip was somehow meant to fulfill a dream. To see the world was just a small part of it. The final destination is never the goal of my travels, it’s just a way to find next destination. And next, and next. Why? Just because I have this opportunity to see the world, I can breathe, I’m not hungry and I have somewhere to stay. Well, and I am curious.

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First 20 seconds of the first dive, that’s the time it took to meet this guy

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Happy diver, that’s me!

One of those trips few years ago took me to Philippines and the island of Cebu. It was planned as diving trip, so we packed our gear, the expectations were high and we said good bye to Swedish winter. Half a day later it was time to say hello to Asian sunshine. And I discovered that my bag was lost in Amsterdam, where we changes planes. Now imagine the picture: when everyone was changing to shorts, t-shirts, sandals and sunglasses I was standing like a fool in my winter jacket, thick shirt made of wool, jeans and winter boots. Dressed like I was going on a polar expedition.

My tip number one is now: pack your toothbrush, sunglasses and a set of clothes suitable for your final destination. Tip number two: if you are travelling with someone: let that person take half your baggage and take half of his or hers. If you lose one bag, the second one usually will not be lost. The bag often arrives to your destination one or two days delayed. That way you will not be sorry.

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And there is a turtle again

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And one more

Now over to diving in Cebu. We travelled across the island to a village called Moalboal. Beautiful picturesque place with friendly people, good food and fantastic mangos. Of course we went out diving the first thing we did. How about my lost gear? I got to borrow a full set, so I wouldn’t sit on the boat feeling sorry for myself or swearing about lost bags.

We were told that if, and only if we were lucky, we could see a turtle during our two weeks here. And guess if we were lucky. We saw no less than four. On our first dive. Four! The rest was not so important. We saw flute fish, and mandarin fish, and butterfly fish, and barracudas, and lion fish, and moray eels. And the most memorable were turtles, beautiful, gracious and huge. It’s hard to top the sea turtles with anything else.

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Lion fish, beautiful and poisonous

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One, two, many

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Razor fish

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We found Nemo!

We ate and drank good, fresh food. Mango shakes every morning, sea food and more sea food. We had to wait for hours when we ordered the food, but it was just the way it was and it didn’t stress us a bit. And we learned how to cut mango, to get out every last piece of it. Secrets of sunny countries. One evening we went out for drinks and we ordered rum and coke. We got a drink, that was quite light and pale, so we asked what that was. “You know, coke is expensive here.”, the bartender replied with a smile.

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Palm tree with coconuts

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Cruel cock fights

When you dive, you have to take a day off once in a while. It’s for safety reasons, so your body can actually get rid of all the nitrogen . So we did take a day off once or twice. One day we were taken to a local gathering. It turned out to be cockfights. Cruel, mean and terrible tradition and it’s said to be over 6000 years old, which makes it oldest betting competion in the world. The roosters hate each other and want to fight, but are also equiped with razors, which makes it very cruel. We were told, that the looser was killed and served for dinner. I still think it’s cruel and people should make other aware of why and what the alternatives can be.

A really scary thing happened when we were out in the jungle: a coconut fell down next to a little girl. I think it touched her, because she fell and started to cry. People were in panic not knowing what to do. Apparently that happens once in a while and it also happens that it can kill, if it hits you in the head. The coconuts are heavy after all and it is a high fall..

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Hungry fellow

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Hungry fellow?

Evening time we were sitting by the sea, in our place and listened to the sea and stories about life around Moalboal, and the volcanic island across the bay, the monsun seasons. We told dive stories and listened to others and their experience, we dreamt of seeing whale sharks and more turtles. The time passed by pretty pleasent.

Daytime, of course there was more diving. We never saw whale shark, but more turtles. We dived at a airokane wreck and saw garden eels and several cleaning shrimps and a octopus. Of course we saw more lion fish, dragon fish and a very strange frog fish. It didn’t swim, but crawled around the corals. At one time we even saw a tiny sea horse.

One of the last dives we went to an underwater island with pretty strong streams, where there is a memory plate after a diver who died there. I’m not surprised, since it was a difficult dive. Difficult and very rewarding. We saw murray eels, large lion fish and barracudas. The fish here were larger and maybe not as many as in other places, but definetly more interesting. It was a good last place to dive at.

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River climb was a wet adventure

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Up waterfalls and other cool places

At the end of our stay we went for river-climbing. It was fun, we got wet and it was a great challenge. The rocks in the river were slippery, the waterfalls high and quite a few, and when you fell down into the water you have to start the last moment one more time. But I made it! Were it was too dangerous too climb up the waterfalls we climb at the “dry” path on the side. Or drier, but still quite wet and slippery. It happened once or twice or more times that the person climbing fell down into the water below and had to start over again. And it happened that we fell down on purpose, having fun. The water was warm and pleasant, so it was pretty nice.

At the end of the river climb adventure we had a very nice lunch with the local people, and yes, we were hungry Wouldn’t you after a climb like that?

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Well, the parts of Philippines that we visited are not on UNESCO’s world heritage list. Still it was a great trip. And yes,  I got my bag on the second day. Would I like to go back? Sure!

//Monika

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I met a rhino in Ngorongoro, is that possible?

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I have always said that nothing is impossible, just slightly improbable. But when you least expect it it might happen, just like that. And you don’t know it beforehand, but if you just say that it’s impossible, you might not notice it and miss the opportunity. So let’s say less probable from now on.

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Impossible to see rhino

Before going to Serengeti and Ngorongoro I was said that it’s almost impossible to see a rhino. There are so few of them, so you have to be lucky, very lucky. Impossible? Neh, maybe less probable. But we saw them, not one, but four then and there. Impossible?

I met a rhino in Ngorongoro and it made my day. Few other places as well, but that first time in Ngorongoro was extra special. I was on my first safari trip, first visit to Africa ever. Another post is here. I want to return to this spectaular place, yes, I do. The initial thought was that we were not going to see so much and that the nature films must be a photographer waiting for hours, days, and weeks. And there were animals everywhere. And we saw rhinos as well.

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Coming down to Ngorongoro crater we hoped to see Rhino as well. But we were not sure, you know, impossible, or almost. And we saw it! First one, very close, it just walked behind our truck like nothing happened. A while later we saw a whole family, one large and three small ones. Wow! I was speechless.

After that we saw one at Nairobi National Park and two more by lake Naukuru, but the first time in Ngorongoro was the most special one.

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Family, one more young was just behind

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In Ngorongoro

Faith of rhinos

Rhinos are very much endangered. That’s sad. Some people seem to think that their horns are ultimate medicine. And some others just kill them to steel the horns and sell for lots of money. Greed, that’s very much human. Can this be stopped? I’m sad to say, but as long as someone is willing to buy the horns the answer is no. People cannot be nice to each other, simply by greed, then they cannot be nice to animals either. Not everyone of course, but as long as there is one doing it, it’s one too many.

Many would say that it’s impossible for rhinos to survive human greed, pocher’s hunt for horns, no matter the price. But it’s not impossible to save the rhinos, it might take an effort, but it’s not impossible.

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A smaller inhabitant of the area

Impossible to win

“It’s impossible to win, let’s not waste our time.” We went to an travel and adventure fair and visited an African travel agent. If you don’t compete I would use word impossible this time, but if you do it is possible. So I did compete. And today I’ve got a mail anout first price. Being doubtful I checked their webpage and there was my name. Impossible? Not really.

So now I’m planning to use my prize and go on another trip to Africa to see those impossible, I mean less probable to see animals, like rhinos or leopards.

Links and globes

Ngorongoro Conservation Area has been a world heritage site since 1979.

Some links:

My grade to Ngorongoro is still five globes.

GlobeGlobeGlobeGlobeGlobe

//Monika

Daily Prompt: Impossibility.

via Daily Prompt: Impossibility.

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Planning is half the fun, skipping plans the other half

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I love planning my next trip. To put all the details in place, to plan routes, hotels, times, trains, even food, that’s a great joy. We can go there in the morning and stay here and there and look at the stars at night and eat at this great restaurant. Ok?

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Beautiful Bled in the morning sun

While planning we often sit and discuss world problems and sip a glass of wine. When the morning sunshine should arrive we usually go to bed having a great plan. The plan is also a starting point to buy flight tickets, that’s somehow important. And the planning part ends here.

My boyfriend hates plans. He doesn’t see the use of them, he thinks that it’s more fun to be spontaneous. Are we so very different? Not really. I love spontanity as well, not knowing what tomorrow brings, come up with a new idea, that’s not part of the plan and realze it the very next second.

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Happy

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The castle

And the trip finally arrives. The previously planned in every detail trip. Very usefull from the plan is flight there. Everything else is a guideline, an option that can be altered or skipped. Even the trip home, if the cat feeding person is aware of that.

Lets take a look at a trip we made few years ago to Bled in Slovenia. Just before the trip we decided to visit some friends in southern Sweden, so we almost missed the flight. Being there was planned and for how long, but that changed too. One day I realized that we could visit my friends in Ljubjana, they had some time to meet us, so we went to visit them. We did some other things not really according to the plan, like visiting Skocjan Caves, he coast and mountains. It was a fun trip, beautiful views, like a postcard.

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Enjoying Bled

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Old houses

Bled is a wonderful little town with slow pace, lots of tourists and the Alps surrounding it. Being in Bled is like just beeing, just existing. Eating typical Bled cakes or the best ice cream in the world (from several places). I’ve had better, but it’s just a feeling, right there and then.We went up to the castle (I don’t like stairs) and took the boat to the island with old church on it (I like boatrides more than stairs if there are no waves), we swam in the lake (it was fun, but cold water is really not my thing) and then we left for more adventure, according to the non-existing plan.

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Out in the field

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Castle

Bled is by the way another place that is not a UNESCO’s world heritage site, but in my eyes it sure could be.

When we got bored with Bled we took a train and went to Cracow, but that’s another story.

//Monika

Daily Prompt: Comfort Zone.

via Comfort Zone – planning is half the adventure, changing plans the other half.

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I would erase it, if I could

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This was one of the best trips of my life. This was one of the worst trips of my life. This was a goal, as vague as the thick  morning mist on the way to the top and as clear as the air above the clouds. This was a goal that was never reached. And the question is do I want to erase it? No way, but I want to erase a meeting with the travel agent who recomended one day less, then we wished to have on the way to the top of Kilimanjaro.

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What a beauty!

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On the way, still believing we are going to make it

The travel agent told us we would make it, no problem. We started out and we walked, for hours and hours. Day after day. We passed jungle, bushes with “beard”, smaller plants and we arrived in hostile environment and yet, so beautiful. It was hard, but it worked. Step after step. One breath of air at a time. More and more beautiful. More and more will to make it. Until the last day. The last day we were supposed to walk two day-trips in one day. Something like eight hours up, up, up to 4600 meters. The view up there was great and we just fell down sleeping.

The guide woke us up after maybe an hour: “You have to eat!”Sure, we ate a lot, but still like in a dream. And fell asleep again. Sleep! The whole body was screaming. Sleep!

After a few more hours at midnight the guide woke us up again. “Time to go”. One is our trio decided to stay, we went. Step after step, eyelids fell down, we were trying to keep awake. Step after step. Were the first snow started to cover the ground my friend turned back. I continued for one more hour, maybe two. Step after step, trying not to sleep while walking. Step after step. Finally I gave up. I felt if I ever make it to the top, I’ll have to go back too and I’ll never make it in one piece.

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The last stop

Yes, if I’d to delete anything it would be that meeting. I would prefer to meet some other agent who would plan this trip differently. One more day.

Kilimanjaro is a UNESCO’s world heritage site since 1987. Link to the site: Kilimanjaro.

And Kilimanjaro still gets five globes.

 

GlobeGlobeGlobeGlobeGlobe

//Monika

Daily Prompt: Erasure.

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The faith of elephants in Serengeti

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I know I wrote about Serengeti once before. I often go back there in my thoughts and remember the wonderful nature there. So I decided to go back there in our blog as well. This time I will focus on elephants, so this post is more about the grey, gracious, smart animals and Serengetti. Let’s go!

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Elephant walking grasiously around

 

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An elephant starring at passer-bys.

Elephants are endangered, we know it all. And the people who maybe can turn around this problem and make it better simply count their money today more then lives of elephants. Am I surprised? Not really. How can people care about animals, when they don’t care about each other? How can someone who don’t care about his neighbor care about future generations and their ability to experience the same wonderful nature, as we get to experience?

Thailand’s prime minister promised recently that the country will ban trade with ivory. It’s a small step forward. But how about China? They don’t see the need? Come on! The need is huge! And banning the trade is just a small step, we need many steps.

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In the afternoon sun.

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Mother with a kid

WWF is fighting every day to wake awareness in this field. In many more as well. I was thinking if I wanted to sponsor elephants and rhinos or orangutangs in Borneo or gorillas in Uganda or maybe polar bears or Baltic sea? I chose elephants and rhinos. This time.

Did you know that elephants in Tanzania are on the edge to extinction? Did you know that elephants are smart and they know that in the National Parks, likes Serengetti they are much more safe, they are much more like to survive? They hide there and there are no fences to keep them inside the parks. They choose to stay there. Isn’t that amazing?

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Far away

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Pretty close

When we visited Serengeti we saw elephants several times. First time they were just next to the road, many big and small and tiny elephants walking in peace by the road. We stopped and watched. Another time was on the edge of the Ngorongoro crater. It was a large male elephant waving his ears. I guess he wasn’t too happy with our presence.

Did you know that African elephants are larger than Indian ones? Did you know that their ears look almost like the map of Africa? Did you know that they are, just as humans, either right or left-handed? Most of them are left “handed” You can see that on their tasks, the one that is shorter is the one that they use more often, so it’s more woren down. Did you know that they live in couples and are monogamous? Did you know that they can cry? When their partner or a child or a friend die they actually mourn and cry and are sad for a long time.

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Gathering

And these wonderful animals some people see as merely chop sticks, ash trays or ivory statues. I have no idea why. But that’s stupid, heartkess and irresponsible.

I could write much more, but this is enough. Serengetti National Park became World Heritage site in 1981, let’s preserve it, lets’s save the elephants and all the other creatures.

Some links:

My grade for Serengeti is still five globes.

GlobeGlobeGlobeGlobeGlobe

//Monika

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