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Once I wanted to show the sidebar on my home page only. Searching offered quite some ways in doing so, like changing sidebar.php or page.php, I chose:

<?php if ( is_front_page() ) { ?>
your sidebar.php
<?php } ?>

However these had still the drawback that pages were still divided in two columns and the respective commands interfered with other settings. As I didn’t find a satisfying solution I had to made one up, which I want to share with you. It’s  independent from all other settings as functions.php, i.e. the modularity_sidebar_class() function is directly modified to:

$options = get_option( ‘modularity_theme_options’ );
if ( is_home() ) {echo “15 colborder home”;}
else {echo “24 last”;}

I just changed the if-condition. Maybe this is what some of you want, too. (According to your settings you might want to change it rather to is_front_page() or whatever.)
















Frei von der Leber

Leben II

Leben I

Zu früh

Jeden Tag



Coming back to Hamburg after nearly four month felt great! But still I was very weak from the infection and it took me another two month to recruit from that. I took a cure at my grannys place, who was very attentive to me. Hannes and ‘Oma’, thank you so much!

flight back

just booked my flight back, will arrive Tuesday morning in Hamburg. Looking forward to finally seeing you guys again!!


Due to my disease my stay in Chandigarh didn’t really turn out as expected. But actually I was really lucky to fall sick there and not elsewhere. I don’t wanna imagine what would happened to me if it wasn’t for Nistara, Guntas and Yasleen, my friends in Chandigarh. They took great care of me, called a doctor, put me in hospital and nursed me back to health thereafter. Thank you so much!!


Hello everybody, sry for not replying to your emails and messages. I have been in hospital and am still very weak. Will probably be transportet back to Germany very soon. Anyway no worries, the worst is over. Looking forward to seeing and talking to all of you very much, fred

I caught an infection in Kolkatta, got dehydrated and my kidneys stopped working… but now I’m better, out of hospital and drips (after five days) and started eating. I’m just waiting for my insurance to sort out how to get me back to Germany….


I felt so bad.

Dhamma Ganga

The place is as good at its name: the Dhamma Ganga Vipassana meditation centre is located directly at the Ganga.  However this turned to be hardly an advantage as the centre is encircled by a big wall anyway and we are not allowed to leave it. On the other hand the mosquitoes had best conditions to send waves of waves of attacks from their breeding places near the water on us. And one of the precepts is actually to not kill any being, so we were quite defenceless… Actually the precepts can summarised quite easily: Anything is allowed unlike we tell you do so. And here’s our daily schedule:

4:00 am Wake-up bell
4:30 am Meditation
6:30 am Breakfast break
8:00 am Group meditation
9:00 am Meditation
11:00 am Lunch break
11:45  pm Rest and interviews with the teacher
1:00  pm Meditation
2:30  pm Group meditation
3:30  pm Meditation
5:00  pm Tea break
6:00  pm Group meditation
7:00  pm Teacher’s Discourse
8:30  pm Group meditation
9:00  pm Question time
9:30 pm Retire to your own room–Lights out

In addition to meditating, eating and resting there is only few activities: washing, cleaning, walking up and down the 300 meters way from the entrance to the back of the centre. Communication is not allowed, in no form, to nothing; be it speaking, touching, eye contact, writing or whatever. That also applies towards animals, diaries and so on. The only exception is the teacher whom one reports his progress and may ask questions towards the technique or on administrative issues. I’m glad I already gained some experience on such strict rules when I did a six weeks ayurvedic treatment in India in 2008 and a For-The-One-Dance in Ireland in 2005.

Only few hours after I arrived at the centre (day 0) I began to feel weaker and weaker till I couldn’t even stand anymore but had to sit. It was as if all strength would leave me and by the evening when we had the first mediation it was so bad I couldn’t concentrate but fell asleep repeatedly. Like this I also missed the biggest part of the introductory teachers discourse and the practical implementation. Luckily the basic technique is very easy so I got the main idea anyway. However my health condition worsened and even attending all the meditations it was very hard for me to work on the technique. On the other hand being in such a delirious state gave me some interesting experiences while meditating. But as I wasn’t able to keep any food I approached the teacher on the second day. I had been hesitating to do so because I expected a lack of understanding and a call for perseverance. Instead he even offered me additional food, discharged me from the morning meditation and agreed on the medication I wanted to take. And indeed, the next day I started to feel  much better, even like newborn. With a lot of enthusiasm I continued and finished the course and it gave me some wonderful results! When I started meditating in the Indian seat I could hardly stand more than 15 minutes but up from the fifth day we were asked to not change our position during the group meditations, it est three times a day for an entire hour. You can not imagine how proud I was when I managed to fulfill this requirement already the next day! Having overcome the pain and keen to do well I couldn’t leave it at this but set myself an ambitious task: to meditate the whole day in Indian style, this is 10.5 hrs plus 1.5 hrs teachers discourse! And believe it or not, already the next day I managed. I’m not going to talk more about the technique here or my progress. I think Vipassana is a very individual process and everybody should just try it himself, without any prejudices or expectations.

I highly recommend everybody to attend a Vipassana course. It will definitely give you a tough time but it’s worth it! And no worries, I was the only one in the course getting sick!


India, incredible India. Even already having spent two month there (two years ago) India shocked me again. Already in the plane the Indian passengers were quite noticeable: My neighbor used his vomit bag to constantly spit out. Just after the landing we were asked to stay sited, but the stewardesses had to literally push back 90% of the passengers… At the Kolkata airport I managed to find a public bus but I didn’t really know were I was going… Entering the city I got reminded how crowded, loud, poor and dirty India is, indeed incredible. Also it took me several hours to cash a traveller’s cheque: handy? My foot! Only thereafter I found the touristy area, where all the money exchangers are… Also my CS-host didn’t response to my messages and calls any more… but in exchange I found a dorm for only 80 Rupees (1.30 Euro) a night (: And on the roof loads of travellers are gathering, playing Carrom (kind of Indian billiard), chatting, drinking, smoking and we even have a Slack line!

The poverty is ineffable, so many beggars and homeless… It’s normal here to sleep on the street… Many shopkeeper just sleep in front of their ‘shops’ (consisting of only half a square meter). While till India I gave to any beggar, here it is hardly possible… And many of them are very pushy, some even aggressive. It’s very difficult to still give if you are yelled and tugged at! And then the mothers with babies and the young children. To the latter I don’t give.

On the other hand I still love India! I met some very helpful and nice people, which I partly even consider friends by now. Also I met with another CS who contacted and then showed me around a little bit, otherwise I would have totally missed a festival going on yesterday! And then I love Indian foot, it’s just the best, definitely my favorite!!

Today I got up at 5:30 am to volunteer in the Mother (Teresa) House. I ended up in Prem Dam were the sisters take care of handicapped persons of all kind. Having made some experience in that field in Germany and France it was quite interesting to see how it works here. But also very intense and harrowing. It’s even more incredible under what circumstances those people are living (and suffering). Still I can only recommend volunteering here! You don’t need to apply, just come by and help! As long as you want and can. Another great project is the Youth With a Mission, where you even live with your colleagues and occasional some of the street children. It’s a shame my meditation is starting tomorrow, I would love to go to Prem Dam again! It’s a good reason to come back to Kolkata though.

Tomorrow I will start my meditation, ten days of silence – also here. I’m totally excited by now and really looking forward to it!

PS: Merry Xmas everyone!! And eat loads of cookies for me (;
And a happy new Year!


Thailand – actually I haven’t really been. Most of the time I spent at the beach, only few in Bangkok. But I got a free sightseeing flight though, when our plane crossed the heart of Bangkok (:

But having camped, hitched and couchsurfed I had some very intense experiences and can tell people in Thailand are amazingly friendly and helpful. It’s somewhat different in the very touristy areas but even there it’s still true. Exemple gratia the people I rented my beach chair from were really cute and when I told them I would go to Bangkok they wanted me coming by and saying goodbye the next morning (just before leaving). Then they even gave me a very nice chain which I’m wearing since. Actually the very same day I got another one from my driver – it’s stunning! Also Thailand is cleaner than the countries around, here one can look into the kitchen without worries ^^


Actually there is something as good as getting a hitch: Jumping into the sea, the pacific (: And that I did quite some times! But still: In Pattaya there is only tourists – half of them even sex-tourists – and no backpackers… and I really don’t know what to think of all these white (mostly old) man with their young Thai girlfriends…

Just the night before I headed to Bangkok (กรุงเทพ) Jane wrote me she could host me and I spent a wonderful time at hers and Mai’s place!! It’s two crazy girls of my age and we had loads of fun wandering around, cooking, chilling and dancing. It was quite an exclusive stay, living in an AC cooled flat, going everywhere by cab (except when I was on my own) and going the most exclusive club I have ever been – it felt as they had as many staff members as guests, ushering us from the cab to the club, to a table and so on…

After that great time in Bangkok it was hard to leave but also I was exited to fly. My first scheduled travel since nearly a month and then I actually love flying. I nearly missed the flight because my bus didn’t show up and I had to get a bike, rushing at full speed (up to 90 km/hr) through the crazy Bangkok traffic, not even wearing a helmet. I made it and I least I hadn’t to wait at the airport. Next I went up 10,000 meters…

ระยอง, สัตหีบ, พัทยา

Again nothing could keep me and so I hitched to Thailand already the next day. Crossing the border I had to queue for two hours… All other borders had been that lonely I could just walk through. But therefore I didn’t need to pay stamp fees and even the visa is for free! Entering Thailand I felt lost again, I didn’t really know where I am – my iTouch had shamefully abandoned me by deleting the GoogleMaps catch and OffMaps is just not of use down her, there was no possibility to exchange money and the first cars stopping asked me for (Thai) money. But then I found a bank, where I could exchange some dollars and an internet café to research my further route. Such invigorated I continued my way and made it even to the coast that very day! (Hitching is working here even at night!)

In Rayong (ระยอง) I found not only a beach but also very kind people. I arrived with a young couple in their impressive four-wheeler and they dropped me in front of a rather posh hotel. I felt quite out of place and rather made my way to finds a cheap guesthouse. On my way I saw a lot of groups, picnicking at the beach and every single invited me to join them for a beer. Once the third party had edged me to chug a beer and the fourth was obviously mixing its beer with schnapps I decided to restrain myself. Unluckily there was no guesthouse in sight so I decided just to camp at the beach. And even better I found a shipwreck which was aground and made myself comfortable. Unluckily I didn’t account for the mosquitoes again and it came only to my mind I had some repellent after one had bitten me in my eye lid so I could hardly open it. Also a (probably very nice and helpful) man woke me up in the middle of the night, trying to convince me to sleep elsewhere, presumable even inviting me to his place. And even after I got finally rid of him I couldn’t rest because the (increasing) tide was throwing waves against my ship, harder and harder (louder and louder) till it indulged and started moving. That was already in the morning and I decided to maybe get some more sleep just at the beach. The next morning I discovered this was really rather less touristy, no chance to find an affordable accommodation. And after the past night I wasn’t really much up to camping any more. Still people were really friendly, I met some other young people and one girl was unbridledly approaching me, admiring and petting my (hairy) arm, then even snuggling up and hugging me up to asking for a kiss on her cheek. WTF??

Again I ended up hitting the road, making my way to Sattahip (สัตหีบ), but again: It’s either not at all or too touristy. So I just went further to Pattaya (พัทยา), and arrived in Jomtien – also very touristy but big enough to find some exceptions. I found a guesthouse for only 200 Baht (5 Euro) – just with the help of locals because the sign is only in Thai. And there is some places where you can get a meal for only 20 Baht (incl water on the rocks). I have to walk ten minutes to the beach and even there prices are reasonable enough to just not move but have everything directly in the beach chair: fruits, ice, beverages, even whole meals (: Here we have 33°C, air AND water temperature!! You can swim every time of the day (and night). But also it’s somehow unsatisfying to lie the whole day at the beach, eating fruits and ice cream – I enjoy much more getting a hitch after two hours of tiring walking… Anyways, this is a good chance to get down and to settle my thoughts after two month of travelling and a preparation for my Vipassana meditation.


Restless as I am I already made it to Siem Reap the very next day. This was also the first day I had contact to the police during my travel. First a journalist, who was canvassing police stations, distributing his news papers picked me up. Later when I got another hitch on a jam-packed pickup an officer nudged me with his baton to then point on a bus with it. Fortunate we were moving that time so I didn’t need to explain myself to him. After five more hitches I ended in my most exclusive ride, a taxi which two Dutch rented to go from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap at 150 km/h which is amazing down here!

Siem Reap itself is a rather small city but because of Angkor Wat very touristy and has therefore some metropolis flair. I rented a bicycle and got up at 4:30 am the next morning to see the sunrise in Ta Prohm. Actually I was unlucky with the sunrise because it was cloudy but Ta Prohm is amazing and had it all for myself – Staff and visitors came only 1.5 hrs later. And there are so many animals and noises because they didn’t restore but just left it as it was. It’s definitely my favourite! Later I went down to see Angkor Thom (incl Bayon etc), Preah Kran and for sure Angkor Wat. Having breakfast near the Bayon I saw some monkeys and went seeing them, and actually they made my day – and not Angkor. They were amazingly cute and so nice, playing with each other but also with me: pricking and biting, but so carefully it wouldn’t hurt! They also climbed me and tried to delouse my hair – they weren’t lucky (; It was great and carefully others (locals and tourists) approached. So I got to know Hester from Holland and we spent the rest of the day together, watching the monkeys and exploring Angkor.

If you wanna go to Angkor Wat: One day is enough to see the most important temples and get an idea of Angkor. But you can also easily spent a week there! Hester and I found the remnants of a circular temple in a forest and it was an impressive atmosphere there! Locals can go for free and they do so, some just for a picnic, others even live in the temple complex. But as far as I know you need the ticket only for some temples. I would therefore advise everybody to first go and get to know the location and those temples you can visit for free and only later buy a one day ticket and then do all the ‘must see’ requiring the pass.

ស្ទឹងត្រែង, ក្រចេះ, ភ្នំពេញ

At the border crossing I met some other hitchers, the first ones in South-East Asia. Four (!) Italian lads who hadn’t enough money for teir visas, but unluckily I hadn’t enough to help them myself… But they found a solution: A taxi driver payed the visas, kept the passports and drove them to Stung Treng (ស្ទឹងត្រែង), where the next ATM was – 80 km away. They gave me a lift, which was a bonanza for them, because the ATM was the only one in town and accepted only Visa and so I helped them out with 100 USD. Also we met again a Cambodian couple, which was very helpful. First, they had been looking for me all the way from the border to Stung Treng to give me a lift, how nice is this?? Second they offered to take us to the next city, Kratie (ក្រចេះ). All five of us plus backpacks in one car. We managed to get all backpacks in the trunk and fixed the lid with some ropes. Then started to fold us in the back of the car, the couple and their newborn in the front. Unfortunate the dampers wouldn’t do it, despite the fact they accept up to ten Asians… There you can see how small they are (: In the end three of us went straight with them and the other two tried to hitch, but had to take the bus the next morning. Us three shared a hotel room for only 2.5 USD each and because Kratie wasn’t anything special to me I just hit the road again. On my way out of the city I met one of the staff members of the Hotel and he was amazing: First he offered me accommodation at his place!! Second he wrote me a nice sign for me saying Phnom Penh in Cambodian. Third he promised me to pick me up in case I didn’t get a lift before he makes his way to a city 60 km away. But just when I left a very taking driver of a wonderful old red truck stopped and took me directly to Phnom Penh (ភ្នំពេញ).

Pnomh Penh is a megapolis and therefore not really for me. Actually it has only about two million inhabitants but it feels so much more!! But the very crowded centre is not very big and outside of it the architecture is very spacious! And impressive, its a really rich city, also those expensive four wheelers are still present anywhere: thousands of Landcruisers, X6, Lexus and even some Hammers. Me, I rather borrowed a bicycle and its an awesome feeling to ride again after quite some abstinence! And its fun to participate in what they call traffic rules here. You have to be very consciousness but that’s probably what’s giving me the kick (: Today I visited the Tuol Sleng Museum, an old school which has been used as prison during the Khmer Rouge. It’s awful and reminds me very much of our KZ’s. It’s as perverse: they surrounded a school with barbwire and rebuild the classrooms to cells. I was lucky enough to meet one of the seven (only!) survivors of S-21 and it was very touching when he told me what they did to him – I can not give account of that here!


Laos is a great country, I love it! The landscape is fantastic and its same for the people. Hitching I was hardly asked for money and people are friendly and open but not too pushy and only looking for your money. I had great conversations with some Lao, but most speak not a word English as Tourism is not yet a big deal here. As far as I can say Laos has all the benefits of Vietnam but is just even better, I will definitely come back and then also explore the north!


After two days of recreation in Savannakhet I took heart and hit road again, in the true sense of the word as I was trying to hitch again. I had to walk two kilometers to get out of the city and another eight till there was some significant space between two houses. And its too hot here for hiking! But then a car stopped and the guys were really nice but didn’t understand a word, so they were help full but not of help… But then a truck picked me up, without asking questions and the lad was really comfy even without speaking a word. He reached his destination already five minutes later but I gained not only some kilometers but primarily quite some courage!! And with all that positive energy the very next car stopped. So I enjoyed myself on the load bed of a truck and enjoyed the sun, refreshed and increased it respectively… It was great and the mates took me to two local markets, which were quite interesting to see. Again my third ride would be the very next car, a truck and this time I shared the load bed with five guys and we shared all our food, which made a real feast! Unluckily one of them had a bottle of Lao Lao and urged me to finish it with him. I arrived already lit in Pakse (ปากเช), where I met again a fellow traveller, who invited me for a beer. The next day was national holiday so there was a lot of partying going on and I awoke with a huge hangover. I had couchsurfed Ross’ hotel room and as he wanted to leave that day I decided to do so, too. We had intended two take the fairy down the Mekong, but it was really expensive so he took a bus and I walked out the city. Again I had to walk about ten kilometers till a car stopped and this very nice guy drove me straight to a bus station… Very helpful but hardly of help. But at least the bus station was in the right direction and I could be sure about the right direction as I just had to follow the road the buses to Dong Khong were taking. Shortly after I found myself picked up by a horde of locals who intended to participate in a big rowing boat race near Dong Khong and the convoy included not only a 30 meter wooden boat, but also a massive loudspeaker, a mobile kitchen and loads of people in party spirit.

Sometime we left the highway made some kilometers till we reached the Mekong, I got of and they left. Hm, but there was nothing but a very small village… which I crossed, finding a tiny fairy boat station to get to the island Muang Khong, on which Dong Khong is situated. But reaching the island there was nothing again, apparently I was in the South, while the city was in the north. So I hiked again, but then literally hitched a bus. (I had had a short conversation with the controller at the landing.) In Dong Khong there was a big (relative for the local standards) fare and I really enjoyed my stay on this island! But as the boat race was only some days later and not as promised the next day, I decided to make me on my way again. But leaving the island was not that easy. Getting there I had only paid 5,000 kip, but here in the North they asked for 20 kk, because I was alone, 10 kk if someone else is going. I refused and the boat went anyway. WTF?? I can understand its more expensive if they do the trip only because of you, but if they are going anyway? Two more boats left and I was wondering whether I’m just stubborn but then some other tourists showed up and I got my ride for 10 kk.

I found the highway to be wasted, hardly cars going, none stopping. At the landing I was offered a ride for 100 kk, ridicules! Also they said the border would close at 2 pm because it was Friday, but I was relatively sure they just wanted to put pressure on me. So I decided to just walk, it was only 30 km distance. And eventually I got some help, all three lifts were only for few kilometers but many a little makes a mickle and so I reached the border even shortly before 2 pm.

แดนสะหวัน, เชโปน, สะหวันนะเขด

Entering Laos I was not only requested the expected 30 USD for a tourist Visa but 40 USD, which forced me to use 10 USD of my reserve funds. Entering Laos there was – nothing. Only some people advertising shuttle buses to Savannakhet (สะหวันนะเขด). And I found a small ATM, but it would accept only Master cards. But at least the sun was shining! I had experienced Vietnam nearly only under clouds and was glad to get out of this. I walked down the road, passing Dansavan (แดนสะหวัน) but already noticed there was no traffic at all. It was only then I noticed it was Sunday so I decided to spend it here in these wonderful surrounding and looked for a nice place to camp. Having loads of time I explored a nearby jungle and pitched up my camp: hammock, tarp, camping cooker, bathroom and enjoyed a noodle soup. It was fantastic, only that there was reams and reams of mosquitoes. So I decided to rather leave my camp and enjoy the sun. I had to wander back to Dansavan anyway to buy some water, I found non near my camp. Water is actually more expensive in Laos than in Vietnam, while everything else is much cheaper. But for me mattered only the water price as I had only 33 Kip (3 Euro). Two bottles of 1.5 liters each are 10 Kip, which left me 23 Kip. I took the chance of having a table to sit down and write my diary and instantly loads of people surrounded me, writing in Latin script is obviously very attractive. You can not imagine my joy when one of them addressed me in English!! I hadn’t really spoken to anyone in three days and felt somewhat lost since I crossed the border. Teyvada invited me to visit some of his friends, but unfortunately they lived on the Vietnamese side of the border and I couldn’t go back without getting a new visa, which I couldn’t afford. But we met in the evening, his mom invited me for dinner and then we went to his brothers place, who has a pool table. Wow, hat a surprisingly nice evening!

I nearly didn’t find my camp in the darkness but had luckily gone the way some times in the afternoon just to better memorize it. I spent an unexpectedly good night in my jungle, but in the morning I rather left and had my breakfast outside. These mosquitoes are awful, I counted more than 100 bites and they are still itching! I think I got none when I was asleep, because I was on my sleeping bag inside the hammock (double layer), but may also be they got through…

Even on working days there is no traffic in that area. So I hitched everything, from a bike via a small ‘tractor’ to a car just to get to the next city, Xepon (เชโปน). Everything, except for buses, Teyvada was on one of them and even wanted to pay my ride… stunning! Somewhat later I got a ride on a private car, actually my first in South-East Asia. Xepon appeared to be hardly a city, missing an ATM not to mention a bank. My 23 Kip wouldn’t even be enough to get to Savannakhet an my few Euros and Dollars I wanted to keep as really last resort. So just tried hitching further towards Savannakhet but advanced only very slowly. When another ‘bus’ (actually it was rather a small pickup with two benches) stopped I told the driver I hadn’t money, only very few respectively I gladly accepted his invitation to get on anyway. At this point I had already finished most of my water, was tired of walking with all my luggage and had got a sunburn. Its summer here (:

In Savannakhet the bus even drove me to an ATM and you can not imagine my relief when it was finally spitting out some money!! Still I didn’t know where I was but met some western people soon and now I have a room, shower, insect repellent and can buy as much water and food as I want, its fantastic! Everything is so cheap and we have more than 30°C. But its somewhat hard to find sun blocker, here they sell only whitener…

Việt Nam

Vietnam is an impressive country. I instantly fall in love with the lush plants dominating the landscapes! People are very friendly and its cheering to have them smiling and waving at you everywhere you go, even when their willingness to help (and to sell their goods) can easily become too much. Considering them not knowing hitching at all its amazing how many people picked me up for free, me an obviously rich western guy! This last fact has actually a really negative connotation for myself. But travelling different I could never ever have made these experience, really getting to know locals, their habits, homes and food. Actually nearly all my drivers not only gave me lifts for free but also invited me for meals in restaurants besides the road, refusing to take any money from me.

Thank you all so much!!
This travel is really changing my definition of hospitality and how one should/could encounter foreigners in his home country.

Diễn Châu, Đông Hà, Lao Bảo

Getting out of Hanoi was a first issue because the outskirts are kind of endless. I finally found the 1A, the big highway down till Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The next issue was to avoid buses as every single of them would stop to pick me up; and there is loads of them on this route. It didn’t take too long till an Ambulance (!), nearly provoking an accident. These guys also wanted money, as nearly everybody here but when I refused they wouldn’t leave but sit in there car, obviously undecided. They asked me again and I agreed to give them some gas allowance, 50.000 Dong (2 Euro) for 300 km. We reached Dien Chau only in the evening and the guys even brought me to a hotel despite all my efforts to explain them I wanna camp. Buts that’s impossible regarding the lack of a mutual language and the ignorance of what camping is. I was somewhat screwed, it was already dark but I found a spot to put up my tent anyway. The next day I got up very early, first of all I didn’t really know where I was and what the owner would think of me camping there; secondly I wanted to start in time to arrive earlier. Anyway I explored Dien Chau a little bit and then I tried to walk outside the city. Again this appeared to be much more difficult as expected. The 1A is more or less populated anywhere, I didn’t really saw a place there two houses where more than one kilometer from each other, especially not near cities. People everywhere were really happy to see me, even coming out of there houses, watching me, mostly smiling and waving inter alia women and children. Some even followed me, others wanted to help me but explaining hitching is as difficult as explaining camping and these people wouldn’t even speak English at all… And it doesn’t make hitching easier when there are people around, talking insistently to you and stopping the buses… Another reason to walk ‘outside’ the cities…

Eventually a truck stopped and I climbed in. It was only when I wanted to put my backpack in the back that I noticed there was another one sleeping there.Once more we didn’t share a language, but when can always introduce one selves, giving name, home country, age, family status and such things. And then there is plenty of time to be stunned of the landscapes, to think, sleep and smoke. When we reached the Pacific (oh yes, I made it to the PACIFIC!!) I thought about getting off and put my tent up right there but I considered it to long and missed that chance… I could also have gone as far as Ho Chi Minh City, that’s where the guys headed to. When we reached Dong Ha it was only six thirty but already dark and again I just set up my somewhere. Getting to the border city Lao Bao meant leaving the 1A and it was much more difficult to hitch here. I ended up in some kind of bus but at least I was driven directly to the border (after delivering loads of pots).

Lào Cai, Việt Trì, Hà Nội

I went by night bus from Kunming to Hekou, but we had a breakdown which was great! Because it happened in the middle of a bridge and the landscape was fantastic!! I would have totally missed that… One more reason to hitch and I needed some pushing because transportation is that cheap down here!! This was my second border crossing by foot and after not hitching in Russia, Mongolia and China I instantly started from the Vietnamese border. Its really uncommon and difficult as people here are very helpful, but they don’t know hitching and always try to get you to the bus or train stations. Also there is no information available on where to start best. I had to walk several kilometers till I found a place where only few people tried to take me back to the city… When people stop they will mostly ask for money so its important to know how much buses and trains are to have a comparison. Because of this I rejected two offers, but then even got a hitch for free; after five hours through. But this was an amazing one! We didn’t share any language but they talked to me anyway and I overheard ‘Germany’ so I told them I was German. Which made them very happy, they called their friend Viet who had been in East Germany in the Eighties and I had to talk to him in German (: Later we left the main road and went further and further into the wild which made me feel somewhat uncomfy… it appeared I hitched a beer truck and I ended up delivering beer to bars in the countryside! And the nature and villages are amazing, I was constantly stunned!! Also I got invited for dinner not only once bit a second time at midnight, I was offered to sleep on a 50 cm plank bed just behind the seats and later when we arrived in Viet Tri even to sleep at their home. When I unpacked my air mat the family laughed at me and I ended up sleeping in the second bed in their seeping room. How hospitable it this? The next morning Viet took me and I joined his parcel tour from Viet Tri to Ha Noi, collecting and delivering packages at all kind of places.

It gave me a hard time to bring myself to hitch again but its paying of so much, thanks!! In Ha Noi I enjoyed a last chai with Viet and then looked for a hostel. I just ran in probably the best hostel here, Hanoi Hostel opened just recently, is totally neat, has wifi, internet computers, home made Passion fruit juice, beer is free from 6-7 pm and breakfast included. And I totally forgot how many travelers one meets in hostels. Its great to talk to people who do more or less the same thing, to exchange and share!

But there is also bad news: My shoes, falling apart since I entered Russia and are about to finally give up, same for my trousers btw. I love both because they are heirlooms. The shoes are my grandpas, who died two years before and I would have loved to make it with them through Asia and back. But I’m proud they made it till here!! And I’m still carrying my family with me, in form of other heirlooms. The shoes have been replaced by Converse for only 10 bugs (:

Tomorrow morning I’m going to hitch further to the south, along the coast!! Then I will go to Laos, down the Mekong to Cambodia and then to Thailand. Maybe. Depends on my hitches and moods (: Anyway, as I dunno, I also can’t say when I will be able to post here again or give other signs of life, so don’t worry till December 16th!!


China is great! You should really go. And people are friendly, but only if you get to now them. Sharing a compartment in a train is mostly enough. But being addressed on the street in English some people would just turn away, others just saying ‘no!’, either in English or Chinese. And even if you get an answer don’t just believe what you hear! A lot of people just tell you anything, I dunno why, maybe just to get rid of you or to even to cheat you. I wanna share two stories (there is loads of those):

When we wanted to go from Beijing to Badaling we totally knew where and when to go with which bus (thanks to my great sister!). But when we were about to enter the bus at 10:05 am people (officials!) told us there would be no buses this day because of problems on the road, we should come back next day before 10 am or take a guided tour. So we went back the next day at 9:30 am, but people told us the last bus left at 9 am. Knowing we got tricked we went further and found another bus (same number) which was going!!

In Kunming Becky and me planned to go to Bamboo monastery and researched how to go. When we entered the bus C63 the driver told us he wouldn’t go that place. At the station a very helpful woman told us how to go, taking a totally other bus. Instead we rechecked online and actually our information had been right. So we entered the next bus C63. The driver was really nice and even asked us later where we go. But again he insisted he is also not going, we should take bus C61 and therefore get off the next station. Bus C61 really went to the monastery, but arriving there we saw that also C63 is going… But apparently two buses in a row didn’t? And then this woman really seemed nice and knowing what shes talking about, but gave us totally wrong information…

Still, China is amazing! The landscape is, people are, its the whole country. And so various! What I find impressive is the simplicity of the living style of most people, even in the big cities. But at the same time everybody is using energy saving bulbs. And then there is all that electric bikes, its obviously working, why not in Europe? One can easily spend a whole life to explore China and I will definitely come back, then leaving through Tibet and Nepal to India (:


After eight fantastic days with my Chinese family in Beijing I took another 36 hours train. It appears Chinese trains are better than Russians, the blankets are like heaven and the staff is incredible: they are even closing the curtains for you and arranging towels and shoes in rank and order…

In Kunming I’m staying with a bunch of crazy US Americans. In general I stay only with natives, but this is working out great so need to regret anything! And I can hardly imagine I would have had that much fun elsewhere. Originally there is only three guys sharing the flat, but there is two others staying temporarily and then even more at the weekend ^^ Had some great fun doing a Train Rail Challenge (its a relay on rails but mostly its about drinking), pillow fights, playing Settlers of Catan and just hanging out in the great living room. Its just that we dont sleep, at least not at night…

Kunming is way smaller than Beijing but still massive! And they just building a metro so half of down town is a construction site. Therefore the traffic is awful, when I wanted to apply for my Vietnamese visa and was somewhat in a hurry I entered five cabs but all refused to drive me in the city. So I had to took a bus and it took ages… But I still arrived in time (and saved some money). On the other hand you can get the Vietnamese visa fast, but its costly. As you see I will do Vietnam, then Laos, Cambodia and Thailand. From there I will have to fly to Kolkata on December 16th, which costs 140 euro. Only after booking I discovered AirAsia.com, which offers flights for apparently only 90 euro… Keep it in mind and do better than me. Its so warm in Southeast Asia, I’m totally looking forward to that! And it allows me to finally use my camping equipment. And camping makes a good team with hitching. That will be great. In Kolkata I’m going to do a Vipassana meditation (ten days of silence).

Why do I fly? Cause its the most reasonable option. Passing Tibet is not only even more expensive but also its obligatory to have your own car, driver and guide. And it makes no sense to me to do 800 km like that just to avoid flying. Then there is Burma and actually its even hard to get in over land. Its perfectly fine to fly in, but everything else is nearly impossible. Even if you get in its going to be even more difficult to get out to India. And then India itself is very sensitive towards illegal immigrants.


Just arrived in Beijing (:

And Mongolian phones are not working here… so I needed to buy another SIM card: +86 1324 120 967
+86 1324 120 9675

Now I spent already one week here – or only one? I live in a Chinese family, which is trying to choke me with food and compliments. And as it isn’t working they now started to try alcohol… Its really remarkable how they are integrating me in the family, caring so much and doing everything so I fell comfy. I have my own two-room apartment in the house and share all the comfort of the family. But that in my apartment there is no heating yet. The house is in the outskirts of Beijing and includes a toilet in the backyard and a shower in the neighbour building. Actually the neighbours are relatives, the wife is mothers sister, the husband fathers brother – how funny is this?

For sure I explored Beijing – downtown, the forbidden city, bird nest, water cube, great wall and so on. Actually I did most with those French guys, Sebastien et Mato. But I enjoyed at least as much the company of my Chinese family, amazing food, playing cards, Chinese chess or just sitting together. Also my pictures were much wanted again. I’m glad I took pictures from Germany, my flat, family and my birth house! Now at the weekend one spents even more time with the family and lunch are real feasts!! Tens of bowls with all kind of vegetables and meet, inter alia chicken hearts and feet. Also they are having loads of garlic and since my arrival I’m waiting to get a whole plant (not a clove) – and indeed today was the day! Unfortunate my father and even more my uncle are keen to drink with me. Yesterday we enjoyed not only Schnaps with 53 per mille but also Beijing beer, which is actually quite good. And as they have no small glasses we drank out of water glasses and up from lunch I was drunken all day. And father wanted to play Chinese chess… it was quite a challenge! Only later I got to know all other men also drinking went to bed shortly after lunch :D Therefore today uncle and me were the only one drinking and I tried to keep it on smaller level!

Next days I wanna go on. I have been told Shanghai is relatively similar to Beijing, just with less historic monuments and even more western. Therefore I decided to go rather to another Chinese city, Kunming. I checked the possibilities to go to Tibet and then via Nepal to India but its just impossible for individual travellers. Its mandatory to hire a guide and a translator ): The only problem is it will most probably not be easier from Burma…

Trans Mongolian Railway (p. 5/5)

Buying a ticket from Ulaanbaatar to Beijing isn’t that easy at it was in Russia. First of all its not possible to buy international tickets via internet. So I had to go to the railway station and luckily a Mongolian friend, B. accompanied me. Otherwise I would have never made it, actually it was still complicated enough. It took us quite some time only to find out  we can not buy the tickets at the cashiers, but have to go to another building ‘across the street’ – actually its one kilometer further down the road! We had already been sent to two cashiers in the first building and arriving the other one they even sent us through the whole building, from ‘International Tickets’ to ‘VIP lounge’ on second floor to room 109. There we were told they don’t know whether and how many free seats/beds they will have. They would get these information themselves only 16 hours (!!) before the departure of the train,because the train was coming from Moscow.

So I came back again, with another friend. Chica and me wanted to go the Opera that day anyway. But 16 hours before departure they still didnt knew and more and more people came to get tickets… It took us another three hours (plus two the first day) before we got the ticket. But it was very interesting to see Mongolian officials at work. I became an idea of bureaucracy in such countries, now I know why I did rather buy an invitation instead of asking my Russian friends to send me one.

At the train station I met a lot of tourists and I’m proud to be the only one who bought the ticket himself. Inter alia I met Sebastien and Mato again, which whom I also arrived in Ulaanbaatar. But my compartment I shared with Asians: a Chinese, a Mongolian and a Korean, nice! Arriving in China we had to wait six hours again… but this time at least for a good reason: They changed the wheels. We drove in a massive hall where every wagon was lifted up at least one meter after the wheels had been taken off. Then new wheels were located underneath and we went back down. And we mustn’t leave the train during the whole procedure!  And China knows how to endear itself, when we entered we became coupons for a free breakfast and lunch. The restaurants are really nod good and (normally) expensive… Better to have your own food, especially as boiling water is provided in every wagon.

I love travelling by train and therefore I also love Trans Siberian/Mongolian Railway! But I must say international trains are unreasonable expensive!! I recommend travelling only Trans Siberian Train. If you wanna go to Beijing my advice is to go by train till Ulan Ude. From there you can take a direct bus to Ulaanbaatar for only ~1000 Rubles, ~25 Euro. From Ulaanbaatar to Beijing you can either take the Trans Mongolian (131,000 Togrog, ~75 Euro) or a national train to Zamyn-Uud (Mongolia), then a shuttle bus to Erenhot (China) and another direct bus to Beijing (all in all ~70,000 Togrog, ~40 Euro).


In the first station I was welcomed by an incredible cute dog/puppy and his herd which reminded me of my entry to Russia!

I arrived already at 6:10 am in Ulaanbaatar and actually my host didn’t respond me… I got accepted trice anyway so I just contacted the other two and they were still up to it. One was Australian and I wanted rather to stay with Mongolians. But the Mongolian one had to go to university so we made an appointment for the evening only. After I waited already the whole day as I couldn’t walk to much with my backpacks he wouldn’t show up. I was damn cold! As Russian mobiles are not at all working in Mongolia I asked someone to use his phone but my host didn’t answer. There I went to a internet café to call the other host but when I gave the first one another try it appeared he just arrived shortly after I left…

No good start in Mongolia so, but people here are very nice, mostly smiling and more open than in Russia. Several people addressed me and one American guy even offered me to use his computer (at his place), his mobile and even asked whether I had enough money.

My Russian SIM card is not working here so I got a Mongolian one: +976 9540 3880
Thanks for the sms, feels good to have backup from home! Hope nobody sent one to my Russian number since I’m in Mongolia, I will probably never get it…

Mongolia turned out to be a wonderful country and the people here are really amazing. I think never before I made so many friends in such a short time, even despite the language barriers we had sometimes to face. When I went to a supermarket three staff surrounded me, keen to help. I asked for Mongolian products, but actually nearly everything is imported, either from Russia or from China – or from Germany. ‘Gut und Günstig’ is a rather expensive brand here! Dalais family was unbelievable, they shared everything with me (just a shame the shower didn’t work well) and we had loads of fun, also with Junior, a only two weeks old kitten which they got the very same day I arrived. Dalai took me to the university and after I already visited a Russian one it was interesting to see a Mongolian one, too. Actually I spent quite some time in university, attending English classes, enjoying the cafeteria and I even ended up giving a German class when the teacher didn’t come. It was very interesting, because it was only beginners and I don’t speak Mongolian but we had fun anyway and actually I learned a lot about Mongolian family life, because that’s what we were talking about. (Ich habe _ Geschwister, _ Brueder und _ Schwestern. Meine Brueder sind _ Jahre alt…) Mongolian families are still quite traditional and later the parents are going to live with the youngest child’s family. In our class of young, modern Mongolians (in the capital) this was still widely agreed.

Ulaanbaatar is really small for a capital, but in the Rush hour one feels the people living here, especially if one tries to get in a public bus (; Its interesting how some things are dead cheap, like the others and on the other hand food is still nearly as expensive as in Germany… (where it’s actually pretty cheap, but still.)

PS: Forgot to tell you one story: When I headed to Beijing I had to be at the train station at 6 am in the morning. As it was Sunday there was no buses and I had to take a taxi. I even found one but there were two people in the front. Another obstacle was my non existent Mongolian and also they would not even know ‘train station’, but only the word ‘hotel’. So I made nice ‘chugga chugga choo choo’ noises, repeating ‘Beijing, China’ and showed them my ticket. Being happy having understood me they hit the road. Having been for quite some time in Ulaanbaatar I luckily knew the way to the train station and only because of this I could say when we went off that one. I first waited whether the driver knew a better way but then started again to explain I wanna go to the train station. Only after some arguing I understood they wanted to drive me to the airport and could resolve the misunderstanding. That was a close shave!

Trans Mongolian Railway (p. 4/5)

Irkutsk-Ulaanbaatar was the most expensive ticket till now, even if it is not at all far compared to Ekatherinburg-Irkutsk (and I’m somewhat afraid of whats Ulaanbaatar-Beijing is going to cost), but the train was anyway much less comfy! Also it took us 8.5 hours only to cross the boarder – I entered Russia (afoot) in only half an hour!! And during the whole time the toilets were closed…
Therefore I can unfortunate not recommend doing this part by train!

In return I had a very nice french couple in my coupé and I slept nearly all the time anyway (;


After two weeks (only? seems rather like two month!) in Russia I just wanna give a short summarise of my experiences:

First I must say I had no problems with the public authorities, neither entering, nor with the police nor quitting the country! But by Railway it takes hours to pass the boarder – even without any complications. I did not get stopped by police once and it was the same for other backpackers. And there are loads of officers, police, security, military, controller and so on. One could think half of the employees is working for the government. Btw I also did not get a single stamp everybody is talking of…

Even if they appeared somewhat rough to me on first sight, all people I met were very kind not mentioning my CouchSurfing hosts, who were just amazing!!!

Russia is quite modern in most respects but at the same time one can find these tiny wooden houses with electric but no water supply. People still have to get there water from outside, partly even from hand pumps. This is even more true for the people in the country side. Most of those living in bigger cities have for sure water supply and central heating but still nearly all buildings seem to be built in Soviet times, massive (and ugly) blocks of flats (largely without house numbers ;) and usually one can not adjust his heating, if at all its possible to turn it off. Also one has to pay the same amount in any case. Therefore heatings normally run all the time, even when people are away for a longer time. Its the same for water, mostly one pays a fixed quantity per month instead per cubic meter… In addition electricity is very cheap and there is hardly any consciousness of possible effects of wasting energy to the environment or global warming. Speaking of waste: there is no separation, Russians would not even fold any boxes.

As already mentioned traffic is just awful in Russia and people are also crazy about their cars. There is myriads of really expensive off-roaders like Porsche cayennes. Russians are in general quite up to German cars, especially BMW.

On the other hand I had also jeopardies to face in Russia, primarily in Siberia, right up to fleeing hordes of Yetis!!

I highly recommend everybody to visit Russia and explore it her- or himself, best by surfing couches!

Да и как ему не любить тебя, такую умницу и красавицу.


I had three unbelievable relaxing days in Irkutsk. I felt so comfy at Nastya’s place that I would have loved to stay! Irkutsk is a rather typical town, that’s at least my expression and so it fells all right to leave Russia now and explore new countries.

But for sure we visited also Baikal and actually this is a place to spend much more time, its amazing! Another highlight was Nastyas Datscha, even with sauna, which we had till midnight. Also it was the first time during my travel I watched a (two resp.) movies and they are so good I wanna share them with you: Match Point by Woody Allen  (based loosely on Crime and Punishment) and Everything is Illuminated by Liev Schreiber (book by Jonathan Safran Foer), about a Jew searching for his roots in Ukraine.  Especially the latter illustrates nicely how one experiences Ukraine (and same for Russia) as foreigner!!


Arriving at 4 am in Ekatherinburg I was glad I accepted Irina’s offer to send me a taxi which was already waiting for me. The next day Irina and her friend Kseniya showed me around. Ekatherinburg is a cute city and reminds me somewhat of Hamburg, mainly because of the big lake in the North-East of the city center (;

Actually I feel quite exhausted at the time, I’m falling asleep at any rest, especially in buses – the so called Marshrutka. Therefore I enjoyed our cosy evening at Irina’s place making Pelmeni, chatting and watching Irina’s home videos, she’s a great figure skater. The next day we explored Nevyansk a small town near Ekatherinburg with its famous Leaning Tower and a small nearby village Bin’gi where I probably saw the first really old Russian church. Nearly all churches in Russia had been destroyed during Communism which one can’t believe admiring the myriads of them. But they are mostly (re-) built only recently…

Visiting the countryside I was also stunned by the simpleness of the way of living here. It differs already in the cities from what I know but all these tiny wooden houses and the people give again totally new impressions. I love the old church, the incident light creates an impressive atmosphere and when we entered people were having breakfast. It seems the church is used as village hall and I think the priest is even living there, I like this idea pretty much! Today I visited another village, respectively the Ganina Yama monastery ad its just amazing. Should you ever be in Ekatherinburg, don’t miss it!

Now I’m about to face even 52 hours by train, but that’s at least a good opportunity to fetch some sleep and at least it’s not a six-days-trip (:

Trans Mongolian Railway (p. 2/5)

Leaving Moscow felt as leaving my home, but anyway I was looking forward to Siberia, Baikal and South-East Asia. As the cheapest ticket was second (and not third) class it appeared to be a very comfy travel! We had even a screen in our compartment (although it had no signal). I travelled with a student, a young engineer and another Russian. The latter wouldn’t speak any word English and have a rather serious face – as most Russians do and have. But actually he is a really nice guy anyway! Also I met a young boy, whose English was perfect and we would play Duraka. Its in my opinion even better than Vodka to make friends here. I even played Duraka with people without exchanging any word (which the other one got), its amazing.

The next day (Moscow – Ekatherinburg is a 26 hrs journey) I met some funny guys from Ireland the Netherlands. It was nice to meet some people who would speak even less Russian than me and who appeared to be less prepared. Therefore they did Moscow – Beijing in one tour which means six days in a train without decent meals, shower, missing Baikal and so on. I’m so glad I decided to do it my way!

One of the lads actually missed the train because he had had to much Vodka that evening but then decided (probably also due to the Vodka) to get a taxi to overtake the train and get on at the next stop… and it worked out, crazy! And good luck for me because thanks to the two of them I could easily stay up till 4 am, when I had to get off.


Moscow is not really welcoming me but I arrive at 5:30 am so what to expect? Trying to find my way to my host (Julia insisted I should come by instantly) I asked some people for help but they weren’t at all interested in me. At least having learned the Cyrillic alphabet paid of. Moscow is amazing, in my view even more impressive than Peter! Starting ‘only’ with the Metro, then Kremlin and all these myriads of (orthodox) churches!! As my host has to work I spent a lot of time on my own. But in the evening she’s showing me the city: inter alia Arbat and a typical Russian restaurant where we enjoy Borscht and Pelmeni – hmm! Visiting the Bolschoi Ballet in the State Kremlin Palace is a nice way of saving the normal admission fee for Kremlin.

As nice as Moscow is, as horrible are its drivers. There is no possibility to cross any street, one has to look for a underground passage and its impossible to to biking here… so no city to live in for me! Which also gave me some difficulties are the missing house numbers. Those exists, but often only theoretically. Visiting a friend in a big block of houses it was hardly feasible to find her house (they all look the same) and not even other residents could help me… In return I had the chance to help a Russian pointing out to her where the metro is, topsy-turvy world!

Tonight I’m going to meet another couchsurfer from Moscow. Since the Baltic there is constantly other CS’ asking me whether I’m still in their town and wanna meet them. Its wonderful to get to know so many terrific people!!


It’s not even 150km from Narva to Peter but the bus took a total of three hours to reach Peter downtown. Dozing in the bus I still wasn’t sure where I’m going, especially when a sign said to turn left for Peter but we went straight. Luckily a young Russian recognized me as foreigner and was keen to practice his English. What a relief when I could finally talk to someone who in addition assured me everything was all right. I asked him to call my host and she offered to pick me up from the bus station, even at that late time (11:30 pm). Uff.

Right now I’m enjoying some wonder- and peaceful days in Peter, having even time to write my blog (;   My host is lying in bed besides me, reading a cookbook and choosing a meal I shall prepare later.  In general I prefer spending time with my hosts, cooking, playing cards and board games, drinking, smoking or just chilling.  It’s so interesting to get to know all that people, their different cultures, interests, habits and styles. And I’m even still in Europe… Getting guided tours, going out or exploring the cities is the icing of the cake. And staying with other young people one goes for sure also partying (:

I was really down entering Russia in Narva but know that I will go by Trans Siberian/Mongolian Railway I’m totally exited again. And actually the trains remind me quite a lot of some good times I had in India. Its mainly the same design and also the same heat… While it’s freezing cold the coaches are overheated. And toilets are locked sometimes… the drawbacks of cheap travelling. Also my hosts here are so wonderful and Couchsurfing pretty much worked out perfectly everywhere. At the same time traveling like that is incredible cheap, way cheaper than living in Hamburg!!

Btw, I bought a Russian SIM card yesterday and unlocked my Polish cellphone – a gift from Kasia. So far I got absolute useful little gifts from nearly every host: two mobiles, a reflecting bracelet fot hitching and an old spatula for my camping kitchen. It’s amazing!!
You can reach me at: +79 81 80 26 21 4 and +49 40 22 81 31 27
The second number is forwarded to my iPod and only of use when I have WiFi.


Enjoying Tallinn and Esters company so much I started rather late but got nearly instantly a hitch towards Narva, which is a small town located on the Estonian-Russian border, having a Estonian and a Russian part. My driver was very nice, a young woman from Tallinn who could hardly stand leaving me alone on plain street. She even came back 20 minutes later offering me to give a lift somewhere further. Thank you so much, Tiia.

It took me two more rides (one of them in a car quit similar to a Audi Q9 !) to reach Narva, where I passed the border by feet. I had to queue and it took quite some time but then I could instantly pass, not even getting a stamp. It was only on the bridge that I realized I had not entered Russia yet, but only left the EU… The city is divided by the Narva River and actually its two cities, Narva on the Estonian and Ivangorod on the Russian side. The checkpoint where I passed is really amazing: There is the Narva fortress, just opposite the Ivangorod fortress and in between the bridge.

So I had to pass the Russian control: queuing, fulfilling forms and showing what I have in my backpack. But it was rather pro forma and no problem at all. But it got nevertheless already dark and whereas Narva is real city, Ivangorod seemed to be wasted. I got welcomed by a herd of wild (and most beautiful) dogs; there were rarely people around and even after I found some they wouldn’t speak English. Also it was cold and started to snow soon. In other words, I felt really lost!

I found a guy who would speak a few word English and he was keen to help me, but also he seemed to me somewhat backward. Also, even when I told him I was going to stop cars he would bring me to a bus station where the busses to St. Petersburg left.  It looked pretty much third world… First I wanted to get some money but when I finally found an ATM it was broken and the next one would give me electric shocks every time I touched it. I really earned that money!

Wandering along the street most probably going to Peter and trying to stop cars this guy would still follow me, trying to take my sign saying ‘St. Petersburg’ in Latin and Cyrillic script to prevent me from hitching. A car stopped and I felt an incredible relief to leave that place but it was only two youngsters, also not speaking English, signaling me they are a taxi and laughing when I signaled ‘no money’. Walking further (it was dark by know) I passed a road block and this guy had nothing better to do then telling the police I was going to hitch-hike. Thank god they didn’t care but they told me to move along.

Finally I decided it was too cold to camp – I had not even seen a hostel or hotel. Also my host was waiting in Peter for me. So I walked back and bought a ticket for the bus which was only 200 Rubles, not even five Euros. I nearly missed the bus because I first wasn’t aware that with Russia I also entered another time zone, loosing another hour.


Again I left quite early and from the bus station I had to walk some kilometers to the point where I wanted to start my travel. But a car stopped even before and the guy was not only driving a Renault Laguna but also directly going to Tallinn center, best hike ever!! Ilze had told me I could not enter Russia by hitch-hiking or it would be quite hard respectively, so I nearly booked a bus. But after that hike I was optimistic again (:

Estonia was two degrees colder and I saw my first snow of this winter. In Tallinn I met one of the most interesting and loveable persons ever, my host Ester. She took me together with her other Couchsurfer Matthieu from France. It appeared he was also on his way to the Far East, not hitch hiking but going by Trans Siberian railway, too. And he showed interest in joining me to hitch-hike to Moscow. (He had already a bus ticket to St. Petersburg for the next day.)

Tallinn is a lovely city, especially I do love the city wall and Ester introduced us very well, inter alia doing a pub crawl that night. The next day I helped Ester to move some last things from her old flat and therefore also got to know her family. Also I had the chance to do some washing, so that I could start totally refreshed to Russia the next day.


Anyway I arrived in Riga already at 5 pm. (Again my driver – meanwhile i rode a car – would ask me for the address and drop of just in front of the door!) Waiting in front of my new hosts apartment door a neighbor welcomed me and invited me even over for a cappuccino and some delicious apple pie. Ilze then welcomed me with soup and tea and afterwards showed me Riga, which is amazing. Its so neat and tiny and there are a lot of old churches, cathedrals and houses!! And from the 26th floor of the highest building of Riga one has a stunning panorama view.

My travel worked out very well so far but much more exhausting than expected. Also I feel like traveling like that for ages, even as if I would never had experienced anything else…

People here around are smiling much less but are mostly friendly anyway as soon as one gets to know them. Hitch hiking for sure sometimes is difficult but up from the point were I got a ride I made no negative experience at all (except one driver asked me for money and when I refused he was somewhat disappointed), even not sharing a common language with most people. Fortunate a lot of people here know at least some words in German. Its my bad not speaking Russian and I’m very grateful people me are welcoming me such warmly anyway!


We took off at 5:30 am, he did respectively as I slept on in my bed and felt like being smuggled when we passed the Lithuanian boarder (and the first time zone – funnily by going north ;). In Kaunas the sun awaited me but it had also frozen and people had to scrape  their car windows. I spent a wonderful Sunday with my host and two other Cs.  Giedrius even had enough bicycles for all of us and we did a very nice tour through the city and the nearby forest. We had dinner in a typical Latvian restaurant where we enjoyed among others soup served in a bread and a very tasty bread drink!

Having learned my lesson I left rather early. Till now I had only to wait up to half an hour to get a ride, this day it took me even two hours, again on plain street and it’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey here. You cant imagine my joy when a finally a truck stopped.


I left Berlin just the next day, heading to Warsaw. Just behind the border nice German Autobahn ends and Polish more or less ordinary road begins, interrupted by parts of wonderful Highways, which are unfortunately rather short. Therefore it took quite long, also I had stopped a truck, which dropped me off 60 km before Warsaw at 11 pm. It was damned cold and dark and I already wanted to put up my tent but decided to give it a try anyway. So I ended up on a plain street, at least there was a street light… Strangely enough I really got a ride, a young Pole who would speak neither English nor German nor French took me not only to Warsaw but even to a nice hostel! (I had a Couch but it was just to late to disturb my host as she had to work the next day.) And I felt like after having be traveling so long a hostel would be perfect to come down. Actually it was only the second night but it felt like the twentieth…

I had the whole Friday to discover Warsaw and the difficulties of buying tickets for public transportation (drivers often don’t want to have extra work selling tickets so they just pretend to have none…) before I met my host Kasia for the night who showed me where to party and and the pleasures of Maly Rusk and Ruska Heroina…

Which is also why I started somewhat late on Saturday towards Kaunas. Hitch hiking worked quite well so far so I was optimistic. also its not really far. But one has to account for the state of the highways and as one can not really choose with whom to ride I ended up in a truck whose motor was in an even worse condition than the streets. But the trucker was extremely friendly and we got ahead (slowly)… Shortly before the border he had to stop and make his mandatory nine hours break. Again it was already dark and as he invited me to stay with him I spent my first night in a truck and it was actually fairly comfy!

What really gets me down

…is the bloody bastard who stole my mobile!!
So please don’t send me any more messages…
(and in case you reach somebody pls be nice and tell I really need my phone and am willing to pay for it ):

Hey folks

just cant believe I’m actually on my way now…
its very mixed feelings: astonished, full of expectation and sad. Fully sad because I have to leave all my family and friends (for five month).
Left Hamburg yesterday and now I am in Berlin preparing to head towards Warsaw. Yesterday some nice guys from Berlin gave me lift (actually directly to the place where I slept) and they were all three from Iraq and Turkey. So this totally felt like a convenient start!!
Looking forward to more…


This is my new blog. Going to Asia for five month up from October I think this might be a useful tool to convince people I’m still alive. And that the trip is actually a good idea.

Dont expect anything to happen here before October.