A very pleasant 1 week stopover on my way back from the United States… If somewhat cold (and cold it was indeed – it seems it was the coolest and the rainiest summer in 100 years, at least that’s what I was told by Western Islanders, those from the East seemed surprised, the two parts of the island tend to have a totally different kind of weather; and when it’s raining everywhere – seek shelter South of the glacier, it stops all the clouds)…

Iceland has been designed very well as far as tourism industry is concerned – all the main attractions, wonders of nature that is, are located right next to the road called the Golden Circle. Which means there are lots of tourists everywhere (except for night hours… but they are surprisingly bright in summer) so forget about experiencing the nature all by yourself (unless you venture into the interior but then you need appropriate gear which I…

Brace yourself – there is a lot of visual content to go through here… To make things easier though, I grouped the photos (and one video, at the very end) into logical blocks:

In-between – all that happened when hitchhiking; NYC closer – slowing down to see the details of urban landscape; NYC wider – more focusing on architecture; NYC Pride – rainbow people; Central Park – green microcosm in the heart of the city; Chicago and suburbs; Mount Rushmore & Crazy Horse – two important monuments – one for the white Americans and the other for the Native Americans (though started by a Pole – Korczak Ziółkowski); Glacier National Park – at the very border with Canada, a place of sheer beauty, good for a loooong exploration; And North American Indian Days (+video) – American Indian festival in the town of Browning

I won’t waste your and my time writing the trip itself – I guess the photos show…

Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang

(Scroll down for videos and photos:)

My stay in Laos triggered a reflexion on directions and boundaries of tourism industry development, the development that caters for more and more spleen-ed and lazy tourists (did I just say tourists? My bad – I mean, travelers… None of the thousands or millions of youngsters scaling the very same banana pancake trail would ever want to be called a tourist) and brings them the most amazing and authentic experience. Laos is a great place to ponder on it as – compared with neighbouring countries – their tourism awesomeness level is very moderate, nevertheless, the Laotians keep trying to somehow sell their resources to the visitors. And how, you might ask? They wrap the same old product, pimping it with the “adventure” and “authenticity”. I put those terms in inverted commas because oftentimes that “adventure” boils down to just laying back and letting the guide (of varying degree of competence) do the job and…

Intro video: Mongolian Impressions

Intro

Less than a month spent in Mongolia is nowhere near enough to issue a final statement about a country so big and varied. Nevertheles, I feel competent enough to tell you that Mongolia is amazing, awesome and addictive. So addictive that I feel obliged to go back there and see all those things that I didn’t have enough time to see. And I encoutage you to go there as soon as you can, before it gets covered with asphalt, „civilized” and the friendly locals start pursuing the material wealth.

In the meantime – let me share with you some impressions and tips.

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Niecały miesiąc spędzony w Mongolii to zdecydowanie za mało by wydać opinię o kraju tak rozległym i różnorodnym. Niemniej jednak czuję się na tyle kompetentny, by stwierdzić, że Mongolia zadziwia, rządzi, wymiata i uzależnia. Do tego stopnia, że czuję się zobowiązany tam wrócić i doeksplorować wszystko to,…

Thailand is as easy as it gets. No matter what kind of tourist attractions you are looking for – you will find an abundance of them here. Heading for paradise-like beaches and diving locations? The whole coast is filled with beaches, full of boutique resorts, cheap hotels and bungalows, with troops of Western faces around. So you don’t like the sea? How about a “unique” trek through jungle-covered mountains then? Here you have it – every single hostel can offer a 1-, 2-, 3-, x- day trek. And on the way they will teach you how to make palm-leaf bungalow, bamboo pot, coconut slippers. Or would you rather visit some temples? You’ll be exhausted before you see just a small bit of what Thailand has to offer temple-wise. Or are you a culinary traveller? That’s perfect – here is the country of many flavours, varying from one region to the other (but always spicy!). Still not happy? How…

A bus to the outskirts of Delhi, then a minibus with two European sadhu-clowns inside, with their forehead painted and Quechua sleeping backs in their hands… A short quarrel at the entrance to the airport building (I didn’t care to print out the ticket reservation, and it seems to be a problem here; furthermore, my final destination is London… – “On what grounds are you allowed into UK? Do you have the right visa?” – “European Union state citizens don’t need visas to enter UK, and Poland is a member state of EU” – “Please wait, we will check on that…”) and I’m on my way home.

I run through those thousands of kilometres again in my mind… Eight and a half months on the road, so many places, so many people met, so many experiences, so many images I can see before my eyes… There I climbed a glacier wearing sandals, there I bathed in a…

 

Before I get on the train to Agra, on the platform I meet lots of friendly people whom I educate a little about Poland and Europe, and who in exchange teach me something about India and (finally! I’m so ashamed…) some words in hindi.

On the train I meet a delightfully nice family who invite me to their place; unfortunately I have to refuse – I hate booking tickets in advance! The youngest fellow, Krishna, wants to join me in my trip back to Poland, where he is planning to eat chocolate all the time. I promise to meet the guys during the wedding of one of twenty year old brothers – he doesn’t know yet whom he would marry, but the date is already fixed…

I arrive in Agra in the middle of the night and begin my walk towards the most obligatory Indian tourist attraction, Taj Mahal that is. Taxi drivers can’t stop to…

My piece of junk reaches Margao only 4 hours late (on the way the coach staff try to get some extra money from me – luggage handling fee and … handling fee). From hear I head for Palolem beach, recommended by Jankiel, who is already there, waiting. Before I get on the right local bus, I go to the railway station in order to book a ticket to Agra. I’m only 131st on the waiting list. OK, there goes the berth…

And the Palolem beach itself… Well, if you looking for solitude, peace and quiet then you might be disappointed… But on the other hand, the parties that go on here are relatively quiet and not so frequent. And the beach, built up with colourful coco-houses (I lodge in one of them – 200 rupees for a room with a bathroom, just a little dirty) has its special charm…

Jankiel tries to convince me to be the only…

The train from Chennai to Mumbai (25 hours) is cramped but I’m lucky to have my berth for myself. Inside and outside mountains of rubbish are growing – the Hindus never use dustbins. The floor inside the train becomes filled with colours and nobody of the train staff ever cares to clean this mess up. This is sometimes done by “private enterprises” – unbelievably dirty boys who, on their knees, wipe the floor with a dirty rug and then stretch out their palm, waiting for some coins… There are so many beggars crossing the train, they get on at every station and walk all coaches in an endless procession. The old lady has hardly finished moaning about her misery when the singing blind boy walks in; the skinny bearded grandpa is still waving his palmless arm in my face when the legless guy limps holding onto his cane… And others are queuing – gypsies hitting the drums, a…

I take the advice of Kris and skip sightseeing Chennai (formerly known as Madras) and I get on the bus or even two that carry me to Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) – the kind drivers explain to me where to get off. I only notice the noisiness, chaos and crowdedness of Chennai, as well as a corpse in a plastic bag carried by two skinny guys, I can also smell the presence of the river – before I can even see it in her pitch-black elegance, my nostrils get struck with a vile stench…

The buses somehow manage not to fall to pieces before completing the 60 km in just above 2 hours. I am relieved to get out of the hot, sweaty interior and start an intense sightseeing in Mamllapuram – there is an immensity of temples, one more impressive than the other, with all the amazing sculptures… The most famous one is the Shore Temple, picturesquely thrown right…