Category Archives: Visiting family

Day 324 – Hometown

First thing you see in the morning

First thing you see in the morning

Our stay in Sommerach was lovely and filled with great food. Breakfast with fresh buns and good coffee gave us an excuse to hang around, spending some more time with family.

At noon, we had to go though…another 180km to Frankfurt. Just a short ride but an important one. Finishing the trip. Throughout most of the ride, our mood was pretty triumphant. Close to Frankfurt, we decided to take a detour so that we’ll come in on the A5 which would give us a view of the skyline. Shortly before we could actually see it, the mood turned sombre. We started to realize that these are the last kilometers of our trip. We had actually done it. We were still sitting on the same bike which had left Clifton Terrace in Wellington all those months ago.

Frankfurt, eh?

Frankfurt, eh?

When Frankfurt came into view, I started crying. The mix of emotions was just too much: Happy that we had made it, sad that it was over, proud to have made it, happy to be home, missing Wellington like crazy. Just too freaking much. Also, this way I ended the journey the same way as it began: in tears. I’ve come full circle, haven’t I?

Arriving in the suburb of Okriftel where we would stay with more family, we went on a last little detour to the place where we had bought Rocinante. Unfortunately, no one who has anything to do with bikes was around. So we left again for the last couple of meters to our temporary home.

Arrived at Flo's family's place. Frankfurt needs to be added immediately

Arrived at Flo’s family’s place. Frankfurt needs to be added immediately

Just to be stopped again when we turned into the road where Flo’s family lives. An unconscious figure lay on the footpath next to a bicycle. A man and a woman were standing at the accident site, too, but it must have happened only moments before. Flo stopped and while the woman told us that she already called the ambulance, we could still offer our first aid kit as no one else seemed to have one. There was a lot of blood from a wound on her head. One of the helpers had just started cleaning the wounds and her face when she regained conscience and the ambulance arrived. Having witnessed nothing and being already the third persons to help, we cleared the road and left to finally arrive at our destination just down the road.

We’re home now. In one of our homes.

Complete trip with important city dates

Complete trip with important city dates

 

Day 323 – Lucky peeps

Moment of truth...radiator all fixed up to be welded

Moment of truth…radiator all fixed up to be welded

Overnight, it got cool and our tent was wet in the morning. Either it had rained in the night or much condensation happened. Packing a wet tent isn’t ideal but we didn’t have time to wait around: We had an appointment at 8 am deciding our fate.

We didn’t buy food last night so we didn’t have anything for breakfast. Hoping to find an open bakery, we drove to the mechanic’s place and were half an hour early. Enough time to look around the small town and find something to eat.

Success! This hole has been fixed

Success! This hole has been fixed

The mechanic opened up at 7.50 am and saw us right away. With a long prelude about the risks of welding aluminium, he began to work. The motorbike radiator has small and thin fins so the chance of melting metal accidentally and creating a new hole while closing up the old one is substantial. However, the mechanic managed to close up the visible hole without creating a new one. So much relief. It is hard to tell you just how much relief we felt. To be completely certain that it is closed up now, the radiator was dunked into water and air was blasted through. We all watched out for tiny air bubbles but it was closed. Instead, air bubbles were released from a different location…we had a second hole.

This one was smaller and at the place where it’s fastened to the bike. It might have been created when taking out the radiator but it was still a problem now. Again, he fixed it and the next water bath test didn’t show any bubbles anymore. We could continue! *happy dance*

Happy dance! All packed up and ready to go!

Happy dance! All packed up and ready to go!

The workshop where the rest of Rocinante had spent the night opened at 9am so it was already open when we arrived. Needing help attaching the radiator back to the bike, staff promised us to make it happen between 11am and noon. Thus, we had a couple of hours to spend in Passau and started with a coffee and baked goods in another bakery. We passed some time at the river Danube but returned at 11 am to see how things were going. Rocinante was good to be clad in her plastic parts already! It took us another hour to fix up the bike, pack all our luggage back onto it and return the rental car. But at noon we were off!

Arrived at the restaurant from Flo's dad and Silvia. Achievement unlocked

Arrived at the restaurant from Flo’s dad and Silvia. Achievement unlocked

From here, we had another 300km to go to Würzburg and we did it in one go. No more stopping, no more messing around, just riding. Well, we kept an eye on the engine temperature just to be safe. The bike behaved all the way to Würzburg, or rather Sommerach, and both Flo’s dad and Silvia were over the moon to see us. We had a quick shower, a snack at the restaurant (so good! With fresh chanterelles!) and then watched the football game at their place.

Returning to the restaurant “Beim Zöpfleswirt” after the game, we had dinner together. Flo proved how much he had missed Silvia’s cooking by not only finishing his giant plate but his father’s as well. So lovely to see family again and be spoilt. 🙂

 

Day 270 – Sneak peek into Persian family life

We enjoyed the wildflowers

We enjoyed the wildflowers

It got really cold over night, up in the mountains in a cave. When the alarm went off at 5.30 am, there was simply no way I could get out of bed. No way. Luckily, Flo didn’t insist on getting up so we stayed in the warm bed until the much more reasonable time of 7.30 am. Breakfast was served at 8 am in the restaurant and consisted of flat bread, butter, honey, a cream cheese that is somewhere between Philadelphia and feta cheese, hard boiled eggs and a plate with cucumber slices. Thus, we were ready to face the day.

Reached a nice high point of our hike.

Reached a nice high point of our hike.

Everyone else who wanted to had gone up the mountain hours before but we thought it would be sad if we leave without the slightest bit of hiking. So we put on our boots, packed some water and snacks and left on the dirt track towards the mountain. We had no idea how far we will get as it started to be quite warm in the sun already but there wasn’t much ambition in play anyway. We just wanted to have a nice view. Following the track around four bends, Flo spotted a tree up a hillside that looked like a great resting place. Up the hillside we went and it was definitely nice in the shade. Exploring further, we hiked up to the top of that hill, then spotted another, higher hill behind which we also climbed. Here, after another break and many pictures, we decided to call it and head back into the village.

Our escort to Shahr-e Babak

Our escort to Shahr-e Babak

Once back in the village, we came across Azemeh again. She had invited us yesterday to stay with her family in Shahr-e Babak and now her whole family (husband Mohhamad, three daughters and herself) were here to pick us up and escort us to her home. Such a sweet gesture! We, of course, were unprepared and hurried up to pack all our things so we were good to leave as well. Shahr-e Babak is the closest town to Meymand, maybe about 30 kilometers away. In no time, we arrived at the house where we also met the grandmother and an aunt and uncle who we had seen before yesterday. Being great hosts, they gave us the chance to have a shower and make ourselves comfortable before it was time for many, many questions from both sides.

The eldest daughter Mahdiye speaks English very well and was able to translate for people who didn’t speak much English. Mohadeseh, the middle daughter, also knew enough English to ask questions while little Maedeh only said my name and then relied on translation to get across what she wanted.

Everybody having fun

Everybody having fun

Being a vegetarian, which is not very common in Iran, I made lunch slightly harder for Azemeh. We went out for a tour through the town and to give Azemeh a chance to pick up some ingredients including a kind of bread that Shahr-e Babak is famous for. This is how we ended up in a car, Flo on the front seat next to Azemeh, all the girls on the back seats and Maedeh dancing to Persian pop music on the middle console.

When lunch was served, it turned out that I am the biggest food barbarian when it comes to Persian food. I simply know zero about it which equals knowing zero about what to eat with what. The table sported big bowls of rice which was a good start so I took some. It was clearly meant to go with the chicken which I skipped on. Next to my plate was a bowl with something that looked like sauce so I was about to put it on my rice when I was stopped. It was a yogurt soup that you eat with a spoon or rather you drop chunks of fresh bread in to soak up the soup and then eat the chunks with a spoon. I have never heard of it before but it was delicious. Plus, the Shahr-e Babak bread is delicious, too, and goes well with the cream cheese.

So yummy, so hospitable

So yummy, so hospitable

Next up, I put some salad on my plate next to my rice. This time, no one was quick enough to stop me but it is not what you do. There are special plates for salads and then you pour the dressing over it without it mingling with our other food. Whoops. Tea was served after lunch and I continued my barbarian streak when I asked for milk to put in the tea. One does not do this here but I was allowed to. 🙂 Then Flo dropped a cube of sugar in his cup which you also don’t do. You dip it into the cup, let it soak up some tea then put it in your mouth and drink the tea while it melts away.

During lunch, we also tried to learn Farsi words for the things we were eating but only a couple stuck, mostly the ones for bread and cheese. Tea is also on the list of things so I think I’ll be okay in the future. A little bowl with pistachios was served which was yummy AND an easy word in Farsi. Afterwards, I was really tired so I had a little 30 minute power nap before the day continued.

The rain did not scare all those Persians from their picnics

The rain did not scare all those Persians from their picnics

Since it was Friday and everyone was off school/work, we were good for an excursion to a huge field with rhubarb plants (or something very similar). It’s a very popular spot for the locals to go and have a picnic. We would meet up with more aunts and uncles and cousins there who gathered to be merry and cook a big pot of ash (not quite a soup, not quite a stew) together. The weather seemed to turn on us but we went anyway. Tea was served again and I shared the box of sweets that I had bought in Bandar Abbas so I could contribute something at least. It was great to see so many people and we played some volleyball or a version of dodge ball before having a bowl of ash.

Mohhamad, Azemeh and Maedeh with Charowo

Mohhamad, Azemeh and Maedeh with Charowo

The rain and wind picked up for real now. Packing everything back in the car, we still had many more pictures to take so everyone had their memory shot. Maedeh wanted some with us on the big leaves of the rhubarb plants which was sweet. Strawberries appeared from somewhere so there’s a picture of all of us holding up strawberries and then we all hopped into the car.

On the way back, we stopped at the field with pistachio plants. Flo had asked about it earlier as we both were unsure how the plant looks like and how pistachios are actually “made”. Here, we got a glimpse of tiny pistachios in the making.

The evening passed with more tea, conversation and then a serving of different fruits. Azemeh asked when we would like to have dinner but we had been eating the whole day and really didn’t need more food. Instead, she brought out her home-made baking. Full to the brim, we tried a small piece each and if we liked it, Azemeh packed a whole bag for us to take with us as snacks tomorrow. So, so kind and so, so yummy. I particularly liked small dough balls filled with chopped pistachios and probably dipped in a rosewater-honey blend (maybe).

At 9.30 pm, I nearly fell asleep on the couch so we went to bed which was earlier than any family member was accustomed to go to bed. It was a long day full of new experiences.

 

Day 264 – Coming to an end

Quite literally...

Quite literally…

Our last day. In Sohar. With Lina and Michael. Having spent a week here when we arrived in Oman and now another week before we leave Oman, it feels like the end of an era. It’s the beginning of the end of our journey. /melodramatic

We took it easy. After a long breakfast, we only went out for sweets and hot chocolate in the afternoon. I had to try the Chocolate Room in Sohar Mall one more time. So we did. And picked up nice Indian take-away on the way back.

Lina still had to mark tests and prepare things for the upcoming school week so Michael, Flo and I played a card game together before ending the evening with more episodes of the Big Bang theory.

Day 261 – Tartiflette

Dinner is served: Haloumi in mustard sauce and tartiflette

Dinner is served: Haloumi in mustard sauce and tartiflette

How we have almost longed for these “one event” days – at least when it comes to writing the blog. Having only one big theme a day also helps to stay sane and not feel so overwhelmed.

Today’s theme was cooking. We started out with some more blogging and a bit of entertainment, but before lunch it was time to get cracking and think about the dinner we have promised Michael and Lina to cook. For that, I had to get going to the western supermarket 15 km away. I was still undecided on the recipe when I left. The choice was between a Jamie Oliver 30 minute Gratin Dauphinois or our favorite Tartiflette – depending on what ingredients I could get.

Shopping was a bit of a disaster since I forgot about the side dish and our lunch over getting the right stuff for the gratin. I even struggled with getting through checkout in an orderly fashion. 🙂

Cheesy goodness

Cheesy goodness

Pretty soon after coming back it was already time to get started. I was a bit rusty, but the cooking went well enough. In the end, Lina and Michael even brought the ingredients that I had forgotten and dinner was saved.

It was delicious, not least of all because it has been a good long while since we had some cheesy European tastes. We ate, drank and were merry. Nina had prepared the dessert part of the Jamie Oliver recipe and we all finished off on an opulent affrogato.

The day faded out with all four of us in front of the TV, watching the latest season of the Big Bang theory!

 

Day 156 – The last plane?

5:30 am is very early. But even Klaus and Silvia made it to give us a very warm farewell. Another if….if things go well, we will meet them again in July…in Germany, shortly before hitting Frankfurt. The next thing, we got carried away into the pre-dawn gloom the same way we came, on the back of an old pickup truck.

Checking what to do next ...

Checking what to do next …

To wake up after checking in, we waddled over to the nearest coffee shop at the terminal, just to have our most expensive meal of the entire stay in Thailand. A danish, a croissant, a coffee and a tea for the price of 7 Pad Thai …

The flight was pleasantly uneventful, except for yet another small child within arm’s reach. This one was better behaved but unfortunately kept on absent-mindedly kicking Nina for half of the flight.

I am still pleasantly surprised how smooth everything works in Kuala Lumpur. After picking up a new SIM card, we were good to go on the fancy airport shuttle train. We arrived back at Sonja’s place just to be invited to join for lunch right away. The food at the Ministry of Coffee was great. The place reminded me a lot of good New Zealand Cafes.

The rest of the day was very low key. I finally got to do the Indonesian summary post and we made a long list of To do’s while having such a great hub to work from. Speaking of which, we also got invited to home cooked dinner that night.

Day 155 – Hellos and good-byes

Our last day in Thailand had come. Well, the last day on this special holiday trip to visit Flo’s dad. And it had a bit of a surprise for us: We got to see Celia and Tigg, our lovely hosts from Darwin!

Lunch with Tigg and Celia

Lunch with Tigg and Celia

Those two had started their own trip in December and we missed them in Kuala Lumpur by a day! By now, they had ridden through Malaysia already and stayed in Ao Nang for a couple of days which is close enough to the Discovery Resort to take the scooter out for a visit. So we made a lunch date with a meeting point at the beach and all was well. Not quite. After having driven to Ao Nang on the scooter for about 45min, we couldn’t make any sense of Celia’s description of the location. Searching back and forth at the beach for them, we were about to go home and be very frustrated when Flo suddenly realized that Ao Nang has two beaches. And if you go to the right one, the description actually made sense and we found them!

Reunion photo

Reunion photo

It was really good to catch up with them on their own trip. For now, they are taking it slowly as Celia sprained her ankle on the second day of riding and needs some time to heal before riding a bike again. So we had some yummy lunch and then took some “reunion” photos at the beach. If all goes well, we will meet up again in Thailand to cross Myanmar in a couple of months.

After the short beach walk, Flo and I headed back to the Discovery Resort as it was also our last day with Flo’s dad. Arriving at 4pm, our little lunch date had actually taken us 5 hours: About 1 hour of riding each way and hour of looking at the wrong beach had left us with two hours to catch up. Not such a good quota.

Last dinner with Flo's family also known as the Hubis :)

Last dinner with Flo’s family also known as the Hubis 🙂

Dinner was lovely and I had vegetables with cashew nuts for the last time. Luckily, packing was very quick as we hadn’t taken a lot of things to Thailand. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 8.20am tomorrow from Krabi airport so we needed to get on our airport transport at 6am in the morning…

 

 

 

Day 154 – Action time! (5th Month-i-versary)

Carrying your own paddle

Carrying your own paddle

Two more days in Thailand. When we realized this, we actually got our lazy bums to do some of the activities that are offered here. Klaus and Silvia had already been kayaking and recommended it. Flo was very keen and I was persuaded to actually do some physical activity.

Because of the tide, we started at 2pm which is right in the afternoon heat. Our group consisted of four two-men kayaks and a guide. So in the end, it was a proper tour.

From the Discovery Resort, we walked the 50m to the pier where we all hopped onto our kayaks. The tour would be 6km long and take about 2 1/2 hours. Despite my initial reluctance, I enjoyed it very much and Flo started teasing me about being way too keen to paddle. :p

Passing through there was very cool

Passing through there was very cool

We moved along the limestone coast for a bit before turning into a small passageway which lead us thorough channels into the mangroves. Here, we realized why the tide was important as some of the spots we went through were so shallow that we scrapped over the ground.

On the way back to the pier, one had to move back out into the open on a wide river which has the most beautiful backdrop. One of the other couples was nice enough to take some pictures of us and send them. 🙂

Arriving back at the resort, we hopped into the pool to cool off. Since we still had Klaus’ waterproof camera with us, you also get some pool pictures.

 

Day 153 – Stats 104 Indonesia

That's right, we survived Indonesia :)

That’s right, we survived Indonesia 🙂

By now, we’ve gotten a holiday “rhythm” with a nice long breakfast, some light reading before lunch, lunch and then an afternoon nap to relax from the exhaustion. 😉

Also, there is always the pool if you really need a distraction. We are coming to the end of our special trip to Thailand in a couple of days so Nina, at least, maximized here time with a book.

Which leaves time and space for me to get to the mildly overdue Indonesia summary post.

Country data #4: Indonesia

Full screen version of the map

  • 7324 km traveled (7201 km of GPS tracked)
  • 46 travel days, 55 days total
  • $19.94 Average cost per night (48x room, 1x camping, 6x invitation)
  • 401.99l of standard fuel for $  348.98 (5.4 l / 100km)
  • ~$18.11 for food every day, always eating out with some invitations
  • ~$4.780 in total

All $ values are converted to NZD.

Day 152 – Reflections

Almost five months since we left. It does not feel like that at all. Maybe it is the nature of the Australasia section of this trip, or just our way of doing things. Regardless, we never fell into a mid-term rhythm resembling anything like the baseline “being at home, working”. Don’t get me wrong, we are creatures of habit, and Nina and I in particular are very quick to adopt a particular daily regiment. What defines this trip for me though is that the rhythm we adopt is constantly changed. Three weeks of “doing the same” is pretty much the longest period we had on this trip. Then the music stops, and it starts again with an entirely different beat, sometimes almost a different “genre”.

Does this not look like the perfect place for some deep musings?

Does this not look like the perfect place for some deep musings?

So right now, we are in another one of these slow sections. 11 days of “rest”. We get up, have a shared breakfast around 9, then either an activity or slow time until the afternoon. A coffee break, and dinner at 7.30 pm, pretty much every day. I must say, as exhausting as travelling is, for some reason these times away from the bike are in a way the hardest for us. After a hard three week push through Sumatra, we needed that change of pace. But in every rest period so far, we have gotten restless again, maybe 5 days into it.

So what is it we take away from that? Well, first there is no real feeling for what “the trip” as a whole is at its core. It is in some ways the opposite of a single thing; it is the constant presence and pressure of change. There is a underlying theme, that red line on the map on our pannier. Every section is linked back to this, and they are sometimes linked to each other. But the route is nothing tangible, it is only a remote pressure, an idea beyond the horizon.

On a more tangible level, we have learned something about how we can structure the sections better. The right mix of travel and rest days seems to be 6 to 1 (what an interesting coincidence), at least for us. And three weeks of traveling is really pushing it. If we had full control over it, I would try to aim for no longer than 2 weeks of travel with breaks of 2-3 days in between.

About the initial question, what is the trip about? What is the overarching “feel” of it? The tag line? It might be the wrong question. It might be that it is nothing more than an expression of wanderlust and curiosity, and the question to what it was about is also the answer. To find an answer, to have something to impart with meaning, to chew on, even in the years to come. Finding a good answer to “why do we go?” is a big reason to go in the first place …