Prespa, Elbasan

After returning to Ohrid (btw, the road between Skopje and Ohrid provides quite some views!) I hop back on my bike and cycle in the direction of Greece. I make a little stop on the way at Prespa lake, so peaceful and calm this time of the year… And I pick up a few apples from local gardens…

I reach Elbasan through snow (only a short part of the route, luckily for me), which makes me dream of warm Greece even more. The town is a short walk and it’s the mountains around that make it a worthy place to visit. I do try to enjoy the architecture but it’s quite depressing how it is left to rot…

Po powrocie do Ohrid (a trasa między Skopje a Ohrid jest miejscami bardzo malownicza!), wsiadam z powrotem na rower i ruszam w kierunku Grecji. Po drodze warto zrobić sobie przystanek nad jeziorem…

Kotor, Montenegro

(and Herceg Novi on the way, with its lovely compact old town, just the right place for a short break)

The Bay of Kotor makes your jaw drop when you ride/drive in… And this is only the beginning. You have to check out the old town (as well as nearby small towns!), where you can find old Italian villas, cats, churches, winding little roads, cats, countless restaurant and pubs, cats, cats… And the Ladder of Kotor, the trekking trail leading above the town… Each bend of the Ladder is a beautiful view of the city and the bay, each step is a new goat jumping around. The wind is blowing, the clouds are running across the sky… Nest to the tiny church up the hill lays a donkey, waiting for you to take photos… Against the fortress wall stands a ladder and next to it it says you aren’t allowed to climb…

Sarajevo I have heard so much about the strange magnetism of the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I got off the bus and started looking for that Sarajevo magic… First the hostel disappeared in mysterious ways… I was going up and down the streets, receiving conflicting responses from random people. They were all kind nevertheless, always ready to offer a drink… I made it. Inside the hostel I met Charles, the king of hitch-hiking (and a bunch of other colourful characters, including Korean busking guitarist and Venezuelan stone dealer). And it would have been a neat place but: 1. no alcohol allowed 2. a single toilet for the whole hostel (=apartment turned into hostel) + one Kiwi backpacker with constant gastric problems. Changing the hostel. Along with Charles and a different Charles not from France we knock the door of Eternal Flame Hostel… And we are firstestest guests. New owners, Ben and Eda are still finishing up paperwork, still…

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,…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZEVgfKzkvg

 Chiang Rai

A tip for those travelling from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai: use Arcade coach station (North East of the moat), not any other.

The town itself might be nothing special but it offers nice temperatures (around 20 degrees in the evening, everybody puts on sweaters and coats). Plus all that surrounds the Chiang Rai makes it an important starting point for all sorts of treks and trips.

I am lucky again – I arrive in the midst of flower festival (festival might be too big a word – it’s just an excuse to party a bit). I join the crowd in dancing and taste the deliciacies offered by nearby stalls.

Uwaga praktyczna dla wybierających się do Chiang Rai z Chiang Mai: należy wybrać się na dworzec autobusowy Arcade (północny wschód względem fosy), a nie żaden inny!

Miasto samo z siebie może nie porywa ale za to oferuje…

Having left Lopburi, I reach Chiang Mai after 17 hours train ride (13 hours travel; 2 hours waiting in the station; 2 hours delay on the way, including switching the trains in the middle of the jungle due to engine breakdown). Luckily the train was half empty and I could sleep quite comfortably.

Chiang Mai (“New City”) was officially founded in 1296 by king Mengrai, though before there already existed a town called Wiang Nopburi. Chiang Mai replaced Chiang Rai as Lanna kingdom capital. The city is located amidst picturesque mountains that make the biggest highlight for travellers (plus the all-night party centre and over 300 temples to see). Chiang Mai can really be addictive – you can ask those many individuals who only stopped here for a couple of days and have been living here for years already.

Do Chiang Mai docieram z Lopburi po ok,…