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Astrid S.'s Posts
Astrid has posted 4 reports and 4 photos.

Existing reports and photos: (Mouseover any camera icon for sample images. Click on any camera icon for all images)

Anatolia (Turkey in Asia) Visit: 2009-9
2009-10-09 - Last n?ght I took the Pamukkale bus for a 12 hour night r?de to Bodrum, on the Southern Aegean coast. After s?tt?ng on the bus for a wh?le, I checked my mob?le ema?l after never look?ng at ?t for days and found that my fr?end ?n Bodrum had let me down. ''I am not here anymore'', ?t sa?d. Now, ?nterest?ngly, ?nstead of feel?ng sad and lonely, I got off the bus when ?t was parked on a car ferry cross?ng some bay ?n the Izm?r area , I suppose, opened my arms, looked up ?nto the dark starry n?ght sky and felt utterly free, a sense of total freedom, be?ng alone and yet, feel?ng totally safe and at ease. So here I was, somewhere ?n the m?ddle of Turkey, alone, and now free to go anywhere I want. Shall I go to Konya and see Rum?'s grave? Or maybe to Cappadok?a to see that fantast?c mounta?nous landscape and those myst?cal caves aga?n? Or cru?se over to Feth?ye to hang out at the beaut?ful yacht harbour? Or maybe even Marmar?s, that notor?ous rock?ng p?cturesque tour?st trap I have never v?s?ted yet? No, not Marmar?s. Anyway, for the f?rst t?me ?n years, I felt l?ke a genu?ne traveller aga?n, except that I am shlepp?ng a r?d?culous amount of overwe?ght luggage around Turkey ?ns?de a fancy su?tcase w?th wheels ?nstead of that backpack I used to carry on my tr?ps around Europe whenI was ?n my teens. So, at 10am I arr?ved ?n Bodrum after a n?ght curled up as small as poss?ble on two bus seats doz?ng ?n and out of sleep. Now I have a l?ttle room (''small?sh'' ?ndeed, just l?ke Lonely planet sa?d) w?th 3 hammocks ?n the yard ?n front of my w?ndow, and a cafe ?n front w?th a roof of green leaves, and all th?s very cheap too. The people are helpful, and ?t took only 10 m?nutes t?l the wa?ter offered to take me to the gyspy bar ton?ght I want to go to.
However, after he bragged about all the languages he speaks, I asked h?m whether he speaks Kurd?sh too and he got upset and told me, he ?s a nat?onal?st, so I have my doubts whether our ''date'' ?s st?ll on, because I would not talk to h?m anymore after that and he not?ced. Oh well, ?t won't take long to f?nd many other fr?ends here, I am sure.
And by the way, yesterday I was wa?t?ng at a bus stop ?n Taks?m wear?ng my gypsy sk?rt and a Turks?h woman and her son told me, these were 'etn?k' clothes and asked me:''Türkmüsünüz?''- Are you a Turk? Aga?n ! Th?s was number 7 now. ; ) No, I am not a Turk but I do seem to look l?ke one to many of them. And I have managed to get by on my l?ttle b?ts of Turk?sh for the last couple of days, I am surpr?sed. Wed, September 3, 2008 - 5:37 AM

Czech Republic Visit: 2009-8
2009-10-09 - I am in Prague, the incomparably beautiful city in the heart of Europe. The Czech republic, a small, green, quaint looking country that is in some ways more German than Germany itself, what with the pork roast and dumplings being offered everywhere and the beer and the grilled pig knuckles with sauerkraut? The food is so heavy I keep feeling stuffed after every meal and am always on the lookout for something slightly more Mediterranean... but on the other hand, Tschechien is simply...Tschechien. A pearl. Praha leaves you breathless, your jaw never gets a chance to close from all thoes jaw dropping sights you get to take in on a city tour, just one fantastic building after another. The municipal house, now we finally know it?s name, is somerthing straight out of a dream. An architect´s dream. Unbelievable. Golden, cream coloured, painted, decorated, with stucco garlands and little towers and gorgeous windows and paintings on the outside walls and altogether simply unbelievably beautiful. Surrounded by gas lanterns and more glorious architecture on the "Namesti Republiky" or whatever that was called, obviously the Square of the Republic.
Now we found out that the Czechs are quite different in temper from the likes of us. Lively, warm or even hot blooded, strong willed, amd in some ways not unlike the Turks...
Tonight we rode the subway home and this band of five labourers descended on the platform, only to squat in a circle and start a game of dice on the platform. When the train rolled in, they all turned their heads and shoulders, picked up their dice, hopped on the train and immediately gathered around their game again. When we got off we could see them sitting on the floor and the benches, inside the train, still playing... I laughed so much!
Sun, August 30, 2009 - 4:42 PM -

Delhi (NCT) Visit: 2009-9
2009-10-09 - The mess, the chaos and the fragrance of Darjeeling
Arrived in Delhi now. Managed to sleep on the plane but when I arrived, the promised sign with my name and the waiting driver were nowhere to be seen. Fortunately my mobile works here too, and i had to call them, explain several times who I am and the man answered:"One ting you can dho, madam, is take a prrepaid tak-si...."
Oh great. Once I was rolling down the road in some rusty old wreck of a taxi what seemed like an unsuitably long time for one night, I started asking myself what on earth I am doing here. We were surrounded by strange looking dilapidated vehicles, huge trucks which looked like they were stapled togerther from pieces of scrap metal, there was no seat belt, and for a while I wondered whether we were even going into the center of the city and not somewhere out into the unknown countryside...
But then a sign "Karol Bagh" appeared and the driver turned off into some dirty looking part of town and started asking for Channa market.
So here I am. The driver apparently left half an hour after my arrival time for the airport, never called them, never returned so far...
They may or may not have discovered my reservation, anyway, I got my room, and they agreed to provide me with a car back to the airport at 7am for my flight to Jodhpur. Had to ask for towels several times, got some room service for an omelet and toast (food considered "safe" in India though my guts are bubbling a bit already) but the taste of the tea made up for it all. Nothing like Indian tea drunk in India.
So, I guess, I am in for another bumpy cross country ride tomorrow, once I land in Jodhpur I have to find a "private bus" to Jaisalmer.
At last Queen Harish has answered my mail and will probably see him soon in Jaisalmer, before he leaves on another tour.
Wondering whether I will be ok without malaria pills, reading all the side effects I just did not feel like spending those 250$ they wanted at the Tokyo hospital for another few weeks of medical aggravation, and did not renew that awful typhoid vaccination either. For now, I am safe from Hep A and B and diphteria and tetanus at least, I got all those shots when I was thinking of going to "Kurdistan" 2 years ago.
So, in for another adventure, I am feeling a bit like Eric Newby on one of his mad travels.
Sat, September 12, 2009 - 12:16 PM —

Rajasthan Visit: 2009-9
2009-10-09 - So I am in Jaisalmer at last.
The wake up call in the Delhi hotel came half an hour late, too. Thank God I have my own alarm in my mobile.
Flew Kingfisher Air to Jodhpur and then got the bus to Jaisalmer, 5 hours through the desert. I was the only foreigner on the bus, surrounded by Rajasthani women in colourful sarees, golden nose rings and necklaces who looked almost like gypsies, their husbands, and a lot of kids, babies, and also a few bigger ones.
I looked out the open window of the bus, and realised that the only way to cope with the sun is to wrap my saree silk scarf around my hair and my face like an Arab. It works, much better than sunscreen alone.
It also makes me feel safer and keeps the men at a distance, now I walk the streets this way all the time, loose jeans, silk blouse and most of my face and hair hidden by a veil.
Unfortunately, Queen Harish had to leave to visit some sick relative just before I came, so we missed each other and I am here all alone. But we talked on the phone and maybe he will send over one of his musicians to see me.
Tomorrow they will take me into the desert and for a 7km camel ride, and to "sleep under the stars".
The interesting part is the feeling of being all alone in th middle of nowhere, (though still not sure what I am doing here) and when I feel into myself, my mind is very quiet, in sort of a suspended state, just being in the moment, and I feel no fear, just silence inside.
I have also noticed that I have become stronger and more dignified during this journey. When someone tries to tease me and put me down a little bit, I just proudly tell them off.
My new Tartar friend in Kapadokya told me, I am like an Indian woman, very strong, and he likes that.
Today, I went into the Desert Boy restaurant for lunch. When the man there started on explaining the existence of gigolos in Jaisalmer, I simply said:"You know what I do?", and I wrapped my scarf around my hair, and he changed the subject immediately. Ha! It works! So simple, actually. You just have to learn their nonverbal language.
Anyway, my hotel is gorgeous, all in sand coloured marble and located o a hill across from Sunset Point which has temple-like pavillons on it where you can sit and watch the sunset. I can lso sit on the roof and watch the Fort.
Also, inside the Fort, I followed Lonely Planet's suggestion for activities, and got an ayurvedic massage, by an Indian woman in a saree who rubbed oil all over my body and did sort of a lymph drainage thing.
Had tea and fruit at the Saffron restaurant again, and a band came and played who looked and sounded a lot like the Maharaja band from the Latcho Drom movie. The best part was the flamboyant maybe 11 year old boy who played the spoons for percussion and made very sexy expressive arm and hand movements with them. The most charming child musician he was, an all male band of boys, youngsters and men. Mon, September 14, 2009 - 10:07 AM -
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