+++News Feed+++

+++6th April 2014 – Citizen Media Co-Operative Needs Your Support! (only 4 days left)+++

The Bristol Cable – A People’s Media

organise. create. exchange.

The Bristol Cable is a newly forming citizen media co-operative, created, owned and produced by people in the city of Bristol, UK. They aim to build the tools and platform for people to engage with the city and the wider world, through journalism; creating a multimedia website and a monthly free print edition.

As a democratic collective, The Bristol Cable is an innovative blend of community action and journalism; an essential resource that performs a crucial societal function where the corporate press can not – accountable, independent, quality journalism.

People will be able to report on their own experiences, explore important issues, develop and promote skills and positive ideas, and hold power to account.

This can be the first in a powerful movement of co-operatively owned and independently produced local media. Can you contribute to making it happen?

They depend on your support! Please consider a donation on http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/thebristolcable/
Read more on www.thebristolcable.org and don’t hesitate to contact them at thebristolcable(at)gmail(dot)com.

+++ 20th November ’13 +++

Finally another must see documentary – “Raising Resistance” a film about the mono-cultivation of genetically modified soy in Paraguay and the social and environmental prices that come with it.

Trailer in English:


Full movie freely available on youtube [unfortunately only in German] :


Also very interesting, (unfortunately also only in German) a series of short and highly educational films about the toxic chemical Mercury and how it could be replaced (e.g. in gold mining or the production of energy saving light bulbs) : http://www.3sat.de/mediathek/?mode=play&obj=39641

+++Latest screening of “Cari Hutan – In Search of Forest”+++

Upcoming screening on October 9th at the University for Sustainable Development Eberswalde – further details to be announced.

++++++”Must-See-Documentaries of the Month”++++++
Selected documentaries that guarantee for an educative and entertaining evening at home or screening with friends, students or colleagues. Feel free to suggest or discuss your favorite documentaries via email with me or with others on our facebook group. AugeFilms is currently tied up with the post production of “Saving Papua by not Cycling There” and in the mean time this new feature is meant to give our audience some inspiration and food for thought. Your participation is sincerely appreciated!

+++30th January 2013 – Must See of the Month January 2013 – “The Trail of Genghis Khan” by Tim Cope


One of the few times that I have seen a travel documentary and felt such esteem and speechlessness. AugeFilms spirit taken a dozen steps further. Hardcore. Real.
A one-of-a-kind  journey from Mongolia to Hungary on horseback. Also covering some of the countries that will be portrayed in “Saving Papua by Not Cycling There”. More about Tim Cope and his journeys on www.timcopejourneys.com   ++++

+++27th January - Really important petition a colleague from Exeter is asking us to sign. The petition will decide whether the European Parliament will fully consider opening up the legislative process to end ‘Ecocide’ (i.e. the extensive damage and destruction to ecosystems). This Initiative could be the catalyst to end ecocide globally and give way for “Ecocide” to become the fifth international Crime Against Peace.

Here is a link explaining more in depth about ECI

And this is the vote to the petition

Unfortunately only citizens of the EU can sign.
Please spread the word and participate!+++

+++9th January 2013 - What do forestry students of the University of Sustainable Development Eberswalde and WikiWoods members do during New Years? Tree planting in Tuscany!

We arrived in the middle of the night, while the beauty of the Tuscan landscape was still veiled in darkness. The bigger was the surprise and awe as we woke up in a new world away from the grey winter of Berlin.We bought about 70 trees from a nursery and collected around another 30 more wild seedlings and shoots from surrounding forests. We are planning to reforest this 5 hectare plot of land in Val d’Orcia, Toskana (Italy) within the next three years of our studies and beyond.

+++20th December 2012 - Must see of the Month December 2012: “Crude – The Real Price of Oil”

One of the most impressive and striking documentaries I have seen in a long time. A true journalistic master piece that tells the David-vs-Goliath-like story of an indigenous village in Ecuador and a team of lawyers suing Chevron for toxic petrochemical contamination. Definitely one of the must sees of the year 2012!

+++ 30th November 2012 - Must see of the Month November 2012: “Just Do It – A Tale of Modern-Day Outlaws “

A wonderful, entertaining, inspiring and very impressive instruction on how to plow up the establishment. Now freely available as a Creative Commons License via the Just Do It Website.

+++14. November 2012 – Tree Planting Weekend with Wikiwoods: 5000 trees planted that now reforest an area of one hectare and will store approx. 10t of CO2 per year. An unforgettable weekend and screening venue of “Cari Hutan”! Thank you Wikiwoods and everyone who participated. Find out more about the initiative, future events and how you can get directly involved in reforesting our planet on www.wikiwoods.org +++

+++ 17. October 2012 - Must See of the Month October: ”Voices of Transistion”
Enthusiastic documentary on permaculture, agro-forest and organic farmers- and community-led responses to food insecurity. Very inspiring, very empowering, insightful instruction to action. I must say the film itself is a lot more powerful than the trailer… Visit www.voicesoftransition.org to see how you can watch the film – unfortunately this film does not stand under creative commons license yet, as it has not been fully financed yet. So, support it!+++



+++ 30. September 2012 - Must see of the Month September: “Garbage Warrior” One of the most inspiring and engaging films I’ve ever seen! In fact, potentially the “Must See of the Year”! Watch it. +++


+++16th September 2012 – half of “Team Amabuwa” – now called “Team B” – will reach Shanghai in three days. Planned route: China, Kazakhstan, Caspian Sea, Iran.
Team Guideless has made it to the Kaukasus. Unfortunately all in Polish, but the images are stunning towards the end: Climbing Mount Kazbek in Georgia.+++

+++29th June 2012 – half of “Team Bat Mobile” reached their finish line Stuttgart! Claudia, congratulations for making the 2nd place in the “Eurasian Eco Traveling Marathon”! Steffen, good luck reclaiming the Bat Mobile from Greece! While one journey has come to an end another starts: “Team Guideless” from Poland is ready and about to launch a 2 year trip around the world! Follow Jakub on his own website www.guideless.tv! “Team Guideless” might be meeting up with “Team Backward” in Istanbul, who is still looking for more exciting team members to join and travel towards central asia together!+++

+++ Sunday 17th June – Berlin. I reached!+++

+++ Thursday 14th June – heading out of Odessa tomorrow morning hopefully reaching Berlin by sunday.+++

+++ Wednesday 13th June – Odessa! 4 relaxing and slow days on the ship and a beautiful city to explore. Savoring the last real stop before Berlin. “Team Bat Mobile” arrived in Moscow yesterday by TransSiberian Railway, heading to Kiev tomorrow. “Team Amabuwa” is still stuck in Kathmandu – they are experiencing “German Hospitality at its best having received the second rejection for their Schengen Visa, despite having produced all necessary documents. “Team Peter Rabbit” gave up on Russian Visa in Shanghai and is changing the route to Kazakhstan, Caucasus, Turkey, Europe. And we’ve got a NEW Team looking for more members: Serpil from Istanbul wants to start the “Team Backward” going from Europe to Central Asia and further.+++

+++ Friday 8th June – in Batumi, Black Sea coast of Georgia, a few kilometres away from the Turkish border. I just missed a ferry going from Poti to Ukraine this morning, because it left a day earlier than scheduled. They told me to go to Batumi, as there is supposed to be a ferry leaving tomorrow morning. Unfortunately the ticket office was closed already when I arrived and again hitchhiking onto the ferry with trucks is not possible. So if the ticket counter opens tomorrow morning and I’ll be able to avail a ticket before the ferry leaves, I will take the ship to Odessa tomorrow. If not, I will probably go to the border and talk to some of the many Turkish truck drivers if one of them gives me a ride to Istanbul.+++

+++ Sunday 03rd June – reached Tbilisi, Georgia. Loving the Caucasus!+++

+++Thursday 31st May – Azerbaijan Visa obtained yesterday. Taking the ship to Baku tonight. Hitchhiking onto the ferry with trucks does not work unfortunately. I met some more travelers here in Aktau: Tamara from Switzerland has been traveling in Central Asia the past half year. David from Germany is riding his motorcycle from Holland to Bukhara (Uzbekistan) and now back to Germany. All three of us will be taking the ferry tonight. Europe here we come!+++

+++ Thursday 24th May – in Aqtau, Caspian Sea. I think I just had the hitchhike of my life! I made it from Urumuqi (China) to Aralsk with zero money. 43 Rides in 5 days.  Kazakhstan is a stunning country. Sometimes it oscillates from one extreme of friendliness and hospitality to being utmost screwed up.

In southern Kazakhstan I got invited to one meal after the other, met incredibly warm and friendly people. In a mall in Almaty I made friends with Akhilbek, one of the security guards of the mall. He let me sleep in the mall next to the ATM’s for one night and invited me to his home the next morning, where I got to know his lovely family and was fed delicious food. Every ride I got was amazed by my ‘story’, either insisted on introducing me to their family and having lunch in their village with them or gave me some kind of snack for the way. I am enjoying walking more than ever. Often I didn’t even put my thumb out and people would still stop and give me a ride. Thus I walked down the long and dead straight roads, the mountainous Kirgizstan to my left and the vast open Kazakh steppe to my right, with a full stomach, my pockets full of caramel candy and my backpack filled with bread and fruits.

Akhilbek (left), the security guard of a mall in Almati, was my host for the first night in Kazakhstan.

By the time you approach Shimkent, the atmosphere changes. I was warned by many Kazakhs not to hitchhike onwards from there, because that’s kind of where the screwed up part of Kazakhstan starts. They always did this gesture of flicking their pointer against the side of their neck when they described the people of that area, which is, as far as I understand, the sign language for “being drunk”. The last ride in southern Kazakhstan that brought me to Shimkent almost had a comic foreshadowing to it of what awaited me in the following days. It was a Lada 2016. Almost half of the rides I’ve had were in that car model. I mean, none of them were ever well taken care of, but this one… was different. In fact, the funniest part was, that it had passed me four times that day while I was walking on the side of the road. It was going so slow, however, that the rides that I would eventually get always took over again. It was easy to recognize. A faded red dented car with a broken bicycle tied on its roof rack. The people sitting inside seemed quite nice and were always again amused to see me walking on the road once more. I didnt mind that they never stopped.
Shortly before sunset I got a ride by a Kamaz truck. By the time it dropped me off again, it was dark already. In the village that I then found myself in, I could already feel some of that pointer-flicked-against-side-of-neck-athmosphere. Pubs flanked the lifeless road that I walked down out of the village. I was not expecting to get another ride because of the dark, slightly disappointed that I was still about 140km away from Shimkent. So, I was keeping my eyes open for a good sleeping spot. Then a car pulled over. It was the faded red Lada 2016 with the bicycle on top. The driver got out of the car. He was shaking his head, and we both laughed. It took us about 5 minutes to open the jammed back door and then another few minutes to make space on the rear bench. To be precise, there was no rear bench, really. I was seated on the car body, the road underneath partly visible, next to a giant tea kettle, an angle grinder and a lot of unidentifiable stuff. It turned out that the driver and his 16 year-old son were Kurdish refugees who lived in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. When I told them that I partly cycled through “Kurdistan” last year, they showed pure excitement and joy. I took out my blanket and put it on the steel grid of the car body to add some comfort. I fell asleep, as we swayed through the night, with head wind in my butt crack.
I spent the rest of the night sleeping behind a gas station outsideof Shimkent, right at the intersection of the roads from Almati to Tashkent and Shimkent to Aralsk. I was woken up by a grumpy old guy who worked at the gas station. He only softened his tone a little bit when he realized that I wasn’t just some hobo and let me use water from a hose to brush my teeth.



I gave the road to Aralsk a try. I must say that some of the warnings were not too far fetched. As you enter the vast emptiness of the steppe, heavy petrochemical industry is the only thing that marks the horizon. The roads are the worst I have ever seen – they abruptly turn from a few kilometers of newly built highway into bumpy dirt roads where you can’t go faster than 20km/h. Sometimes there is even no road at all and you have to follow signs that keep you going in the right direction. And then again a little patch of smooth new runway-like asphalt. Nevertheless, this road is marked as an international highway, on which trucks from Kazakhstan, China, Russia, Turkey or even Germany commute. The cities are everything but cozy – Kyzylorda is one of the sketchiest towns I have ever experienced. I was dropped of there by a truck driver in the middle of the night. I got chased by dogs and almost robbed by police men a few minutes later.

Overall, however, I still had incredibly friendly and fun rides. It was after all probably the most adventurous and unforgettable hitchhike of my life. From Aralsk the dirt road continues up north into Russia. If only I had gotten the Russian Visa in Shanghai or Almati I could have stayed on a truck from Belarus that gave me a ride to Aralsk and was on its way all the way to Poland. Instead I had to take the train from Aralsk to Aktau, because there is simply no road marked on the map going to Aktau. Even though there is some sort of road to Aktau, after having experienced what an “International Highway” looks like in Kazakhstan, I decided that taking a train is most probably a better option,especially regarding my tight time schedule.+++

+++ Friday 18th May – at the Kazakh border already. Hitchhiked to Quanqzhou and got on a train directly to Urumuqi (Quangzhou: South East China; Urumqi: North West China). Three nights non-stop train ride with a standing-ticket. Today hitchhiked from Urumuqi to Horgos (646km) – unfortunately the border was closed already, so I’ll spend the night somewhere outside and enter Kazakhstan tomorrow morning.
“Team Bat Mobil” has entered Mongolia and is about to make the big leap to Moscow on the TransSiberian. “Team Peter Rabbit” will enter China tomorrow. And one of the invitations for the Schengen Visas for “Team Amabuwa” has finally arrived. +++

+++Monday 14th May – I got my Chinese visa. I was shitting my pants on the way to the embassy, but then everything went really unspectacularly. I went to the cashier, paid and got my passport with the visa back without any comments. From then on I was so relieved and relaxed, spent the rest of the day at the “Occupy” camp and had an amazing last day. I will leave tomorrow morning with a fresh strart – now I have about 10 000 km ahead of me without having to bother about visas, such a nice feeling. I am on my way home!

The “Eco-Traveling Marathon” is proud to welcome two more participants! Charly, one of the Couchsurfers from Holland staying at the “Occupy” camp has decided to join the adventure! He will travel back home on ground – he will try to apply for the Russian Visa in Shanghai or also follow the same route as I am taking through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Eastern Europe. He can be followed as “Team Peter Rabbit” from now on! At the Kazakh Embassy I met a young Chinese guy who is about to leave on his bicycle from Beijing to Italy – he will form “Team Raphael”. Follow the teams ++++

+++Saturday 12th May – Hong Kong. I spent one night at “Occupy Central”, the Hong Kong version of “Occupy Wallstreet”. Last night we went dumpsterdiving in one of Hong Kong’s most luxurious malls. We were six people, equipped with big bags and shoe cartons. We carried out, I would say, about 150kg of food! And it wasn’t just any kind of food – it was THE most decadent dumpster dive I have ever experienced! After we snuck our way through the basement of the mall, through the car park, past the Porsches and Rolls Royces, we found bags full of Sushi, French camembert, Spanish smoked bacon, fresh fruit juice. Pretty much all the endangered and overfished species of fish were found in those garbage bags, still cold from the fridges of the mall and with a sometimes even a day to go on the expiry date.

We hauled the bags through town and distributed the food to pretty much every homeless or poor-looking person we could find. In the end, even after we stuffed our own stomachs, we still had so much left-overs that we had to put back to where they had come from – the bin. +++

"Occupy Central" - Creating a public space for people of various backgrounds to interact, to initiate, to let their voices be heard at the heart of Hong Kong. These activists have been squatting the HSBC Headquarters (Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation) since October 16th 2011, taking a stand for responsible corporatism!

+++Friday 11th May – got the Kazakh Visa this morning. After all the rejections and bad timings in the past weeks, hearing that at least one application got approved and the visa is ready to be picked up, was such a relieving and motivating feeling. With my clear shaven face and new passport photos I went straight to the Chinese Embassy and submitted another application form. I now hope that they don’t keep my ‘file’ somewhere and will have forgotten about the previous application (as the consul had actually already told me not to apply another time at their office, because “It’s not just your beard, it’s your whole face”). In fact I felt quite confident. They have at least a 100 applicants every day and I don’t believe they keep track of every case. Worst comes to worst, I will have to go to Macau on Monday and apply there.+++

+++Tuesday 8th May 2012 – My Chinese Visa Application got denied! By now I’ve heard a lot of ridiculous things from a lot of douche-bags sitting behind bullet-proof windows of embassy counters – but yesterday that ridiculousness and absurdity of bureaucratic arbitrariness reached its apex. Friday morning I was at the Chinese embassy in Hong Kong to submit my application form etc. and they told me I could come back Monday at 10 am to pick up the visa. So, what I experienced yesterday morning really caught me off guard:”Please get a new passport. Your face looks different than on your passport picture”. Get a new passport. WTF! “What if I shave?” – “No, it’s not just your beard, it’s your whole face. We cannot issue your visa here. You may try in Macau.” Then this fat son of a donkey in a striped buttoned-up shirt called his colleague, as if he wanted to make fun of me, showed him my passport “Do you see any resemblence?”. The other chubby bureaucrat in a suit looked at the passport and then at me, shaking his head. I couldn’t hear what he was saying, because those bullet-proof glas windows are also sound-proof so that you can only hear what the staff behind the desk says into the microphone. “No, we don’t see any resemblance”, came out of the speaker. I was feeling my knies getting shaky. I tried to explain how important that visa is to me. Waste of time. I sat down in the waiting hall and actually started crying. The guy next to me tried to cheer me up. He was from Jordan. Also had a beard. “They think we are terrorists [...] Don’t be sad, you can apply through an agency”.

So that’s what I tried next. I went to an agency, told them my situation. They also rejected me, because their application would have to go through the same office that I had just come from. I could apply through an office in main land China, but they require hotel bookings and flight tickets from China back to Germany before issuing the visa. I sat on the side walk, started crying again and tried to figure out what to do. “Remember when you were in India and you didn’t want to take the gamble of going to Sri Lanka for finding boats?” This time, I thought, I should take the gamble. My plan this morning had been to go to the chinese embassy pick up my passport with the new Chinese visa and go straight to the Kazakh embassy. So I thought I should just stick to that plan. I went to the Kazakh embassy – which was the most relaxed and casual embassy office that I have ever been to. My Kazakh visa will be ready some time this week – hopefully – if there is one thing I’ve learned on this visa-application, or better to say visa-rejection-marathon, then it is not to count my eggs before they hatch.

My ‘plan’ is now to wait for the Kazakh visa until sometime this week, idealy Thursday. By then my case will have hopefully blown over at the chinese embassy. So Thursday I could go back there re-apply for the visa, pick it up on friday afternoon and get out of here. I will shave and get new passport fotos made. I will shave.  The Plan B to this will have to be going to Macau and applying there.+++

Another very cool documentary project worth sharing that I’ve come across:

+++5th May 2012 – Team A in Hong Kong – Dani will have to fly home, because getting back to Germany by end of May has become utmost unlikely. I’ve already applied for a new Chinese Visa, which is ready Monday morning. Going straight to Kazakh consulate from there and trying to get the visa sorted out within next week. I came across this documentary, which is giving me the necessary motivation to stay on the ground right now! Solidarity, buddies!

+++2nd May 2012 – Team A is screwed! 1st May is a major holiday that messed up all our plans. We couldnt get Kazakh Visa on time before our Chinese Visa expires (this Monday). Now on our way to Hong Kong where we will apply for a new Chinese Visa and restart. Team B in Nepal is still preparing for departure – one of the invitations for the Schengen Visas got lost on the mail between Germany and Nepal…+++

+++27th April 2012 – epic train ride from Lhasa to Shanghai. Russian Consulate rejected our Visa application! So, Plan B comes into effect (as we had already figured that the Russians might deny visa in Shanghai). We now change the route to Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine, EU. Some of the following teams will stick to former route hopefully (Mongolia, Russia).+++

+++21st April 2012 – reached Lhasa.+++

+++Friday 13th April 2012 – Happy Nepali New Year 2069! In Nepal they say that the first day in the new year is a forecast of the entire year to come. Now, today I ate goat foreskin, 4 out of 5 people who ate the goat meat – well, least of it was actual meat – have pretty bad diarrhea now and the baby of my Couchsurfing host put a membership card of the “Spanish Club Kathmandu” into the DVD-drive of my laptop. Happy New Year, everyone!

Oh! And we finally got the Tibet Permits!!!  Leaving on Tuesday 17th! Can’t really believe it yet myself, but we are very relieved, happy and excited to finally take the last step out of the subcontinent!+++

+++07. April 2012 – back from Lang Tang! Literally a breathtaking experience! I would have loved to share some of our wonderful and really funny self-timed pictures… but unfortunately Dani’s photo camera got stolen on the bus back to Kathmandu. Hence we lost some very beautiful pictures of precious moments that will nevertheless definitely  remain in our minds for some time to come. So, here are some screenshots of the video footage I took.+++

+++31. March 2012 – got the bicycles sold in Pokhara for almost same value as we bought them in Delhi and had an awesome stay in Pokhara. Now back in Kathmandu, getting the Tibet-Permit for the 14th April hopefully. We have spread the word of the Eco-Travelling Marathon in Pokhara and Kathmandu, by distributing flyers and talking to every random person on the streets. So far we have 3 Nepalis who want to join us for sure! And a bunch of European backpackers who don’t seem too reliable though… so we’ll just see how things work out. One thing for sure though: It’s going to be a very interesting cultural experiment – two Germans traveling from Nepal to home and three Nepalis wanting to travel from home to Europe. While they have no problem traveling through Tibet and China, for them it gets real tricky once we approach the EU.+++

+++21. March 2012 – reached Kathmandu. Fingers crossed for Tibet permit!+++

In Delhi we spontaneously decided to buy two "Atlas Cycles" - the original all-steel indian bicycle, 30€ each - and cycled towards Kathmandu. Once it went uphill we took rides from trucks as the bikes are single-geared and it feels like the cranks are falling off when you pound them too hard. Overall really comfy and sturdy bikes - if something breaks, all youll need is a hammer and a pipe wrench to fix it. Amazingly fun ride and the perfect way of letting go of the initial plan of cycling to Papua. We will now sell the bikes here in Kathmandu, as we cannot take bikes across the border to Tibet - which is also the reason why I left my beloved touring bike in Delhi.

My new travel mate Daniela and I in Kathmandu. So far perfect team work. Hoping for more travelers to join our mission!

+++16. March 2012 – got the bicycle parcelled and ready to be sent home- very weird feeling. Bought a new camera. Leaving for Nepal tomorrow morning. Very excited.+++

+++ 12. March 2012 -Besides celebrating Holi (watch video) and having a good time in Delhi, the past days I’ve been busy accepting the fact that the bicycle trip is over. I will not continue to Papua.

Why I have dropped the Sri Lanka option (Plan A)? The message from the captain (see below) and his link to the blog especially simply gave me the last straw. The ‘quest for ships’ had already been frustrating enough and then all of a sudden I even didn’t feel like getting on a boat anymore. One day after I decided to let go of the idea of looking for ships, I found out that that Italian dude I met in Kerala who is not-flying around the world has somehow made it from Sri Lanka to Thailand. Again, the details of how he managed to do so remain secrets only to be revealed in his book. So that got me all confused again. But I was simply too fed up with it. What I don’t feel like doing, I thought, I shouldn’t do. And I am happy to be going to Nepal now!

Now that I am about to leave for Nepal and look into the possibility to cross borders into China, I realized that things would be a lot more complicated and expensive with the bicycle accompanying me. I really wanted to cycle from Delhi to Kathmandu, as it must be a very beautiful route. But then I would probably have to abandon the bike at the Chinese border. That would risk losing it for good. Here in Delhi I can at least leave it with friends of my family, who could either take it back to Europe or from where I could even pick it up myself one day.

When you enter Tibet you have no freedom of travel. You have to stick to a group of approx. 20 people that is channelled through Tibet by Nepali-Chinese travel agencies – that is the ‘budget tour’ which is already very expensive, if you ask me. If I wanted to take the bike along, I would have to go for a ‘private tour’, which I simply can not afford. Once you get ‘released’ from the agencies in Chengdu you usually have no more than 6 days to get out of China, each day more costs you a 50€ fine. No way I am going to make that by bicycle. Even if I did, by the time I will be out of China, I will have run out of time to cycle all the way to Papua – let alone cycle home. So, as much as I would love to take it with me, I realized that the bicycle would cover way more kilometres on trains and busses, thus giving me a lot of extra expenses and fuss all the time, than actually being cycled. And that’s not the point of travelling by bicycle. It’s been a sad decision, but I feel there is no way around without being stubborn. I really feel that I have done everything to avoid it.

It feels like a failure to me – which is not necessarily a bad thing. No more cycling. I also don’t want to continue to Papua without the bicycle. The whole point of my mission to bring awareness to Papua was by cycling there. Hence, no more Papua. This especially was the hardest to let go of. It had really become a matter of heart to me. I would like to ask everyone who hasn’t seen it yet, to have a look at Cari Hutan and reflect why we had set out for Papua in the first place. Even though this one mission failed, it’s no reason for me to give up completely.

So, I have come up with a new mission: Get as many European backpackers from the Indian Subcontinent back home without flying. To be honest I keep my expectations very low on this one. So far I got one girl from Germany accompanying me and I posted an ad on Couchsurfing entitled as “The Eco-Traveling Marathon – Indian Subcontinent to Europe”. Also I have put a lot of effort in a new page on this site, as you can see to your left.

One more issue that has still been keeping me here in Delhi is my beloved camera. It’s not worth getting it fixed anymore. I will have to buy a new one, if you and I want me to continue documenting the final leg of this journey. The thing is, I will already be broke once I make it out of Tibet. If I buy a new camera, I will be broke even before leaving Delhi. So, this is to all the blog-readers who don’t know me personally and who havn’t donated to AugeFilms before: If you like my films, if you want to see more, any help and support would be deeply appreciated! +++

+++08. March 2012 – it’s my sister’s and a friend’s Birthday today! So my couchsurfing host and I decided to spread the word in town and throw a little party. Surprisingly many showed up…  I’m feeling slightly tempted to just stay here and become a Bollywood music-video director now.

+++05. March 2012 – can’t really believe it myself yet and I am saying this not so confidently: Plan B seems to have ruled out Plan A. Nepal it is. +++

+++03. March 2012 – pretty bad news from the captain in Sri Lanka:

Hi Florian

If I were you, I would fly to Thailand, go overland to Bali and try there. I am in Galle, right where all the yachties stay, but first I do NOT think anyone WOULD take you anywhere, second I would NOT go with anyone from the group here. I dont know if you ever did bluewater cruising, but it is a much more serious undertaking than most beginners imagine.

And then this even more depressing link:

http://www.yachtmollymawk.com/2011/03/hich-hiking-across-the-atlantic +++

+++01. March 2012 – still in Delhi, still no convincing news that make one option rule out the other. I realized that I am not a gambler. I have been making many phone calls to Sri Lanka lately, to port authorities, sailing and yacht clubs. Many of them were even surprisingly helpful, but still no groundbreaking reply from them. Through Couchsurfing I heard about a Cafe in Galle that has a regular customer, a boat owner who is looking for crew, so I called them, told them my ‘story’ and asked them to forward my message to that captain. I was really getting my hopes up when I received an email today from the captain saying “what’s up young man”? Few hours later though I received another reply to my email that he was only going to sail from Sri Lanka to India and then stay around India for at least a year. But, at least now I know a boat owner in the Galle Marina, who has direct interaction with other sailors and asked him to please spread the word about my situation. So that is actually quite a step ahead. Also I finally got through to the harbor master in Galle who was also very friendly, interested and helpful. He promised to forward my message to yacht agents who then talk to the ship owners whether they could still take somebody aboard. What I mean by “I’m not a gambler” is that I decided I dont want to go to Sri Lanka unprepared. Chance favors the prepared mind! I really want to know what the odds are first. So far people that I have talked to did not sound too optimistic, but I have the feeling that I am on the right track, that these inquiries and connections I’ve been threading via phone, couchsurfing and other www-platforms will somehow bear some kind of fruit – in fact it is not much more than what I could do if I were physically in Sri Lanka at the moment – may the fruit even be the realization that the odds are too low to risk the gamble. Right now, I have come to understand, I should rather stick to my intelligence than to my emotions. Patience and concentration is what I need most to now gradually further limit my scope on each of the options I have laid out in front of me. Because if I now optimistically went to Sri Lanka, only to realize there what I could have found out before – the fact that finding a ship is damn hard – and would have to fly home from there, I will most probably tell myself “Man, why didn’t you just switch to Plan B”.

Plan B: Yesterday I went for quite the embassy-marathon on my bicycle, which I really enjoyed actually. I like how embassies often give you a little taste of the the country that they represent. I remember well how my frequent visits to the Iranian embassy in Berlin always got my anticipation up to finally go see that country. First stop was Pakistan. It felt like being in one of the police stations of Baluchistan again. The embassy area is highly fortified with military tents and armed soldiers on each corner of the rough concrete walls fenced with barbed wires. The side walk evokes the image that we might have of a refugee camp. Dozens of fully covered women in burkas and men who… look like me, who pitched their camp on the sidewalk in front of the embassy and actually seem to be living there until they finally get their documents to go back to Pakistan. I really had to laugh for a second when my attention was drawn to a scene just a few meters away from us, as I heard a whistle shriek from across the street. The security guards of the Australian Embassy, located right next to the Paki’s, seemingly annoyed, were  chasing away a group of burka-ed women who were attempting to spread their picnic on Australian territory.
So then I heard it from the official mouth through the bars of a window in the concrete wall of the embassy territory: Obtaining a Pakistani Visa is impossible. I even asked the hypothetical question, if I were to take advantage of the fact that I was born in Chennai and went through the bureaucratic ridicule of applying for an Indian Passport, I would still have to live in India for at least 4 years and would need a permanent residency certificate in order to obtain a Visa in India. So the only place where you get a Paki Visa these days is in your home country, wherever you are registered as a resident.
Next stop Burma! Visa section was still to be closed for the next 5 hours. So I chatted with the guard, a very old and cute guy about half my hight. He already told me, no need to come back, it’s impossible to cross Burmese surface borders. But again, I wanted to hear it from the official mouth.
Next Stop Sri Lanka. I really liked the feel of the embassy, the laid-backness of the guards and staff and immediately felt like going to Sri Lanka. Visa is on arrival, another pro and extendable up to 6 months without any problem. Still, even they couldn’t tell me any way of getting there without flying. No ferries seem to commuting for the time being. But that is not my primary concern. This small gap of sea water should be bridgeable somehow. Everybody pray to Hanuman (the monkey god who built a bridge between India and Sri Lanka, so that Lord Rama could rescue his wife Sita from the greedy, horny king of Sri Lanka … long time ago and fiction, just to keep things straight)
So after a few hours I went back to Burma, this time with a witty question prepared: “I heard that there is the possibility of entering Burma for 24 hours from Nagaland (North East India). So if I got my Burmese Visa now, go to Nagaland and make it to the Yangoon Airport within those 24 hours, would I get arrested?!” Then I had to learn that even this possibility of entering Burma for a day without Visa is reserved to Indian Passport holders only. I looked at all the Indians around me who were picking up their passports from the counter, approvingly checking their newly issued visa with such ease, I again had to think of my friend Sanjay in Kodaikanal. Sanjay looks very much like me. Half Swiss, half Indian. Indian Passport holder. With my beard there really is hardly any way of making out a difference between my face and that photographed in his Indian passport… You get what’s tempting me to do? No, but this is again not too much more than just an amusing play of thoughts.
So, now I can be 100% sure that this country has only to escape routes: Sri Lanka or Nepal->Tibet. So, next I already went to the Russian Embassy. Visa obtainable within 10 working days. I reread those instructions for organizing a Kathmandu-Lhasa trip, this time with the attitude that I really would have to go through all this. That’s where I realized: Plan B would be complicated and most importantly expensive. At the same time, I received some very good news: 1. Two cyclo-travelers that Doz and I met in Iran are planning on pursuing exactly that route in a couple of weeks and they would love me join. That would add some more people to the group that I already had in mind. 2. Family Sievers would allow me to leave the bike here for as long as they are still in Delhi. That would be quite a emotional break up though. It definitely wouldn’t be easy to leave my good old friend here, whom I baptized by the name “Johan von Ismaning II” yesterday by the way. But if Plan B is unavoidable, it would definitely make it less expensive and less complicated.

Still hoping for good news from Sri Lanka.

+++ 29. Feb 2012 – thanks Trutz for cheering me up with this.  

+++ 28. Feb 2012 – back in Delhi, currently staying with a really cool couchsurfer. So far no positive reply from any of the recruitment companies or sailing forums. On my way to my bicycle now, really looking forward to seeing that buddy again! My camera had been broken all the past 4 months, which is why there haven’t been any films recently (also because I really wanted to have a little break from filming and enjoy the moments of travelling). So first thing I’ll do today is get my bicycle and go drop my camera at a service point. Then I have some phone calls to make. I found out phone numbers of several Yacht Clubs in Sri Lanka, Galle Port and a cafe in Galle where I heard rumours that there’s supposed to be some captain hanging around who’s looking for crew for his sailing ship… although I was told that he is heading West, not East. Also, if there is some time left, I want to go to several embassies today.
Then eventually I’ll start fixing up my bicycle. Chain, cassette and chainrings are quite worn down, so I’ll replace them. While spending all this time with my bicycle, I hope I will be able to concentrate more on further planning, get the feel for what I want and what I can best picture myself doing next. From here on it really is decision time. A.) Sri Lanka – the gamble – or B.) Nepal, Tibet, China, Mongolia, Russia, Europe – another very complicated, most importantly expensive, but also beautiful way to avoid flying and reach back home. +++

+++ 19. Feb 2012 - During the weekend I have been sending out online applications for cruise jobs to pretty much every recruitment agency I could find in India. Let’s see if any of these hooks will bear fish. Also I have submitted a “crew position wanted” ad on three different sailing forums, saying that I could be at any port in India, Bangladesh, Lakshwadweep Islands, Andaman Islands or Sri Lanka within 2 weeks if anybody took me as crew.
So, I guess, this was it in India. I have pulled all the strings I could find, now I have to wait once more and see where it takes me. I will wait for signs and replies now, stay a little more in Mumbai, see how long this place keeps me fascinated. Then eventually head to Delhi and get back on my bicycle. In Delhi I will go to the Pakistani as well as the Burmese consulates and tripple-check what I have so far only heard from the travelers’ grapevine: whether it really is impossible to obtain Visas in India and impossible to cross surface borders respectively. I simply want to make sure that these doors, even if shaken and jiggled, are closed for sure. Depending on that, if non of my job applications get accepted by then, if nobody in need for crew has come across my sailing-forum entries, if Burmese surface borders are most deffinitely closed and a Pakistani Visa impossible to get, I will have only two options left.
The first one is simply a thought that I have been vaguely playing with lately: Getting a bunch of backpackers together that I have met in India (I havnt even told them about this idea yet), heading up to Nepal, wait for the Himalayas to defrost and for the Katmandu-Lasah-Season to start (starts in April I believe) and backpack together back to Europe from there (similar route as traveled in Jakarta Berlin). That idea seems quite fun to me and at the same time I would get some more people to boycott airplanes on their way home! But, as I said, this is just a play of thoughts that still involves a lot of uncertainties.
The second option is the more imminent, however also a rather irrevocable one: Making my way down to Sri Lanka. I would  cycle/hitchhike down South, via Chennai, which I feel like doing anyway, say good bye to India, then start to mentally bring this trip to an end, prepare and befriend myself with the idea of having to fly home from Colombo (capital of Sri Lanka). The reason being, leaving India and setting across to Sri Lanka means closing all doors behind me. Although I have a multiple entry Visa for India, it requires a two months gap between re-entries. It means drawing my very last card that could bring me to South East Asia and hence Papua: Finding a sailing ship bound for SE Asia (… or the Mediterranean..) in Galle, the port that most experienced sailors have pointed me to at the southern tip of Sri Lanka. If I succeed, my joy will be even greater. If I fail, it’s time to fly home. In that case I will have to come to accept, after 4 months of searching for a loophole, that the Indian Subcontinent is unescapable without flying. Although, personally, that would be a bitter bitter realization to make, on the other side I could then look forward to an amazing girl in Berlin, fun, friends and uni preperations back ‘home’.
Thinking of Option No. 1 has quite a delightful feeling to it, though it would require again a lot of planning, as I am not even sure if it is really possible, and getting those backpackers I have in mind into it (that should be easily taken care of though ). It was just this tiny little thought until now, however growing as I am writing. It wouldn’t allow me to go to Papua, as waiting until April to get into Tibet and then reaching Papua from there, via SE Asia, before June is simply unrealistic. It would be a neat compromise though, saving a lot of flights.
Option No. 2 is the “all or nothing” type, going the whole hog. In fact that’s what I often feel like doing at the moment. Putting an end to this situation of passive, seemingly endless waiting, looking in such vastly different directions that make my imagination spin without rest. Putting all stakes on this one blow. If it fails, it will hurt very very bad for sure – in which case it’s still remains a highly valuable experience. If it works out, on the other hand, it’s probably the most badass thing I have and will have done in quite some time – which again, I tell myself, shouldn’t be the reason for doing all this. It’s for the sake of ecology and personal experience … whereat, for me, ecology includes personal experience. So: It’s for the sake of ecology.

Again… I could need some feedback, thoughts and ideas on this.

+++ 17. Feb 2012 – …I was told quite a few times to shave today. I set out this morning with three adresses of so called “manning companies” in Mumbai and three envelopes with my job applications, CV and copies of my passport and visa. The first office was in a highrise building in Fort Mumbai, Indus Cruise Ltd., that I approached optimistically, with a motivated smile. I spent no more than 2 minutes in the small, but fancy, air-conditioned office, talking to the receptionist. “We only accept applications for the kitchen department, from applicants who have had at least some experience in 5-star hotels. If you feel yourself applicable, please follow the online application form”. I didnt even get to leave one of my lovingly prepared envelopes. While walking down the six-storied staircase, I was thinking, I shouldn’t have let myself get rejected so quickly, I should have said something like “Believe me, madamme, I am more applicable than any of those who will walk in here today!”. Instead I decided to do better, be more persistent on the next two adresses I had noted down.
Next on my list was Hiren Shipping and Cruise Ltd. I stood in front of a ran down, old building in Mumbai Fort, close to the ports, the staircase dusty and so dark that I had to let my eyes get accustomed for a few seconds. The office was closed, the door saying that they had moved.
Just a few streets down from there was the office of Airborne Recruitment Company, third on my list, so I decided to tick that off before going to the new location of the Hiren office. Again I found myself in front of a rather old building, the office on the first floor, applicants lining up outside, sitting on the old, scraggy wooden stairs, clothed in button-down shirts, looking at me slightly in disbelief. I didn’t get to see the inside of the office actually. I was asked to put my envelop in a mail box. ”We call you, don’t call us”.
So my last stop would be the new Hiren office, which was in fact located right in front of the Mumbai Goethe Institut, from where I had started out this morning, as I am staying with colleagues of my father’s from the Goethe here in Mumbai. The office was a lot fancier than what its previous old ran down building had foreshadowed. At first I thought I had accidentally entered a dentist clinic. Again the receptionist was scanning me skeptically. I told him I would like to apply for a job. Regarding what, he asked. For a cruise ship, position as a steward, dish washer or cleaner or whatever. Eventually he even seemed to be quite approving, asking for the envelop I was holding in my hand. Then I found out though that they only cater cruising companies whose ships sail around the carribean. So if I get the job, I’d be flown to the carribean to work there. I explained, that that’s not really on my plate at the moment and left, again without leaving the envelop. Also it seems that the Airborne Recruitment Company, where I had dropped my application before, does not have many ships that actually depart from India either. As I said, I didn’t expect anything much better. I’ll focus on online applications now for plenty of other manning companies in Mumbai. … overall not the most rewarding or motivating day.
One cool thing happened today though. I got to know to Robat. After I was done with my list, I went back to the Goethe Institut, looked at some exhibitions and stroled around the city looking for some park, where I could lie down and read my book. I gravitated into a side street, saw a park ahead, somehow didn’t feel like lying on the gras anymore, as my clothes had just been washed today (always a celebrated event these days), spotted a concrete stage-like plateau at the edge of the grassed area, where some men where lying or sitting on newspaper and settled down. Seconds later I was greeted by an elderly man, whose skin was even darker than that of an Indian, his stubby, curled hair was grey, almost white. ”Hey man, wherre are you frrom?… I am frrom Afrrica”
“How did you get here?”, was ultimately my first question.
“By ship!”
And so Robat, aged 60, told me his life story, how when he was 20 years old, just like me now, boarded his first ship in Kenya. A British freighter. Back then he had no education. He was taught on board to become an electrician. He learnt by copying what the older electricians did. Sometimes, when they were too drunk to work, he told me, Robat would soon have to take over their jobs for entire shifts. He told me about his short stays in New York, passing the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal, heavy storms in the Atlantic, the best brothels, closest to the ports, vividly giving me detailed directions, in Jakarta, Singapore, Sao Paolo, Cape Town, Rotterdam. Although he still looks surprisingly young, Robat is getting old, he admits. He lacks a couple of teeth. The ones he has are somehow oversized with black streaks. It’s harder to find a ship these days. They ask for certificates, he complains about rising competition from East European countries since the fall of the iron curtain. He has been in Mumbai the past 4 months, living somewhere on the streets, close to the port, somewhere, he says, he has a place with a matress where it’s quite clean and safe, where nobody disturbs him. He seems to be making his daily living by dealing cocain. He advices me to just sneak into the port and talk to the crew or even captains if I can. Find some ship, where ever I want to go.”Go to the gates, wait for them to open for a truck that brings in containers, and just walk in. But don’t dress like this”, he points to my Punjabi long shirt and my black ”Aladin trousers” that Doz and I both bought in Iran. “Dress like a gentleman. Nobody will disturb you. The crew will help you.” Also, I should shave. Together with my clothes, I look too much like the stereotype of a terrorist – like a Pakistani. It’s not so hard to find a ship that way, he says. Illegal however. Illegal to work on a ship without certification, illegal to leave the country without departure stamp, illegal even to enter the port without permission - although Robat assured, that the crew would somehow take care of that. But that just simply scares me. Fortunately I still have enough sensibility left, despite my desperation to leave this country on surface, despite my commitment to environmental travelling, to know that that would simply be too risky.
Although, technically speaking, Robat didn’t really help me find a way out of this country – he brought my awareness to an option that is off my limits – it’s really these kind of acquaintances that make my staying in India and keeping on trying worth while. Even if I “give up” in a couple of weeks and resort to flying, if I hadn’t kept looking for solutions, I wouldn’t have found Robat, Robat wouldn’t have found me. Eventhough I most probably wont ever experience traveling on a cargo ship as crew – never say never – I now can vividly imagine what it must be like.
On my way back to the Goethe Institut, I passed the same market stall selling shirts the second time that day. On my way to the park I had already eyed a black linen button-down shirt that felt quite … right. I didn’t buy it, simply because I dont have anymore space in my small bike-messenger backpack with which I have been traveling around India the past months, because of which I always decide not to buy any souvenirs or clothes. When I saw that shirt again though, touched its stiff collar, its silky material, Robat’s words echoed in my ears. “Dress like a gentleman”+++

+++  16. Feb2012 – in Mumbai, currently writing job application and CV, tomorrow going to some of the cruise ship recruitment centers - very excited and trying to keep my expectations low +++

+++ 14. Feb 2012 – kicked out of NIT, the feather is blown to Mumbai+++

+++ 10. Feb 2012 – NIT Calicut now has a hobo resident! Decided to stay a couple of days  more with Kartik and let him teach me how to take it easy… cause dis guy knows how to take it easy, brothers! And btw, from now on it’s not the “Carbon Footprint” anymore, it’s the “Carbon Karma”! If this term will ever make history, it was said by Andreas Silvio Augustin, my big brother. Off to the punching bag.+++

+++ 09. Feb 2012 – this is how I play badminton these days: “BAAMM this is for you Pakistan! … this is to you, snowy Himalayas, … f*** you Burma, … fuck you Indian Ocean!” That was some good anger relief though… tomorrow it’s gonna be the punching bag+++

+++08. Feb 2012 –  at Kartik’s humble home at the Institute of Technology Calicut College, Kerala, South India, an old friend and classmate from Jakarta … another very interesting experience and quite a bit of a contrast to that at Kodai International School. The passed days I’ve had quite a bit of a crisis. After those wonderful days up in the mountains of Kodai, I really had to get used to being alone again, in Cochin, finding myself in front of this seemingly unsolvable challenge of moving on from here without flying – not only the biggest challenge I’ve faced in my life as a traveler, but also a challenge that seemed to be growing into bigger, more complicated, darker, fierce shapes as I had been looking deeper into it. I’ve been taking good care of myself though, trying to keep my head up in spite of these very desperate moments of fear and paralysis that overcome me, often during night. I’ve been consulting my parents, talking with friends and my girlfriend a lot, who give me a lot of support. I’ve been trying to take it slow despite the nervousness, trying to gather strength, ease, tranquility, straight-mindedness again. And really, everyday I am starting to feel better,things are starting to look less obscure, more tangible, more doable. I’ve regained some of that patience that allows me to wait and bear the suspense until some door opens from here. And this door will most probably have to be a ship. I have given it another try to look into surface borders. In the North we have Pakistan (Northwest), China, Nepal, Bhutan; in the East Bangladesh and Burma (Myanmar). Pakistan: everybody I have talked to says that it’s nearly impossible to get a Visa in India. Even if I happened to get it somehow, I would be reluctant to go back the same route as I had come and (prohibiting myself from taking Afghanistan into consideration): China: All parts of China bordering India is the Tibetan Province, which you can only enter from Nepal. I could enter China from Pakistan via the Karakorum highway – that again would however require to have a Pakistani Visa in the first place and I would have to wait until May 1st, before which the border, that lies at 4800m altitude, is still snow covered and definitely closed. Nepal: No problem to enter Nepal, however from there onward it gets tricky. Kathmandu to Nepal (via the “Friendship Bridge) is the only way to enter the Tibetan Province (China) for tourist. After having searched the lonely planet ‘Thorntree Travel Forum’ for possibilities and being shocked by how it has turned into a site for people to exchange information about the cheapest air-fares from China to India, I eventually found this blog that gives you a very informative picture of how complicated it is: http://snowleopardsandcossacks.blogspot.in/2011/06/arranging-tibet-tour-in-kathmandu-good.html I have pretty much abandoned this option for sure. Too expensive for me at this moment, too complicated, not my preferred way of travelling. There is a road from India into China from Sikkim (and also Kashmir and the Northeastern Provinces of India), but these are all solely open to local traders, also just a few months of the year in summer. Bhutan: Another dead end, supposedly damn beautiful, but also very very difficult to get in – not on my plate for now, but definitely one of my future dream destinations. Bangladesh: Also no problem to get in,but doesn’t get me any further, as I will still find myself running against the closed borders of Burma. Burma (Myanmar): Also one of my dream destinations, however all surface borders closed for tourists. It is supposed to be possible to gain restricted entry from Thailand, but generally the government only allows tourists to enter the country by airplanes, apparently in order to have a centralized overview of who’s is entering where, at which time… it should also be said, that for crossing the Himalayas, it is simply the worst time of the year. Plus I would like to dedicate more time to this very heart of Asia and not just see it as an obstacle that needs to be transited. Last chance: Ships.Right now my plan is to go to Mumbai, look into job applications for cruise ships. I have decided to now only focus on TWO options/directions: Home or Papua. Either getting home without flying. Or making it to Papua, pursuing what I had left home for. Once I reach that goal I might actually allow myself to fly that distance that I had once covered on surface already anyway. Both options would uphold my reason, meaning and very Mantra of traveling: 1; surface traveling! Boycotting those airplanes that increasingly many are resorting to, increasingly carelessly, blindly, selfishly, which I simply don’t want to be part of, whose unnecessity I want to be living proof for! 2. bringing awareness to what’s happening in Papua!

So if I happen to receive an offer to work on a cruiser going from Mumbai to the Mediterranean (which I slightly doubt, as the sea way from the Indian Ocean into the Red Sea, thanks to the pirates off the Somali coast, are the most dangerous waters to be cruising in these days), I am prepared, just to warn everybody in advance, to take that offer and go home! On the other hand I am aware, that there really is a bunch of people standing behind me now and that would love to see me cycling to Papua! – - Well, why don’t you do it then?! Plus, I have become more and more fed up with running against windmills, as it seems. Yesterday I heard from a friend who just got back to Berlin from a three-day skiing trip in the Alps Mountains with her boyfriend – I guess it is not necessary to name the means of transportation involved. – -  Is actually anybody at least hearing what I am trying to bring across here?! I imagine some people being inspired, amazed at what now seems to be possible, but is anybody actually gonna start thinking of what the word sustainable means?! … it’s just all part of this very crisis that I hope to overcome soon. Eco-warrior’s rant over.

After Mumbai, unless I wont find myself on a cruise ship heading west, I will go get my bicycle from Delhi and travel (cycle, thumb (or in Asia its actually the index finger or a basketball-dribbling-like hand waving), train) to Sri Lanka and find my sailing boat to South East Asia. Galle, a port in the south, is were all the sailors have pointed me to – however again this being everything but 100% reliable. And really, this is what’s making me shiver most at the moment: Not having any information or a fact or a ticket or a person that guarantees me to get me out of here. I stand alone now – physically at least. There is plenty of vague directions on all sides of the compass that might work out or might not. What started as a thrilling, adventurous feeling has turned into this tug-of-war in my mind that I am afraid, might tear me apart. So, if this crisis will not level down anytime soon, I know how damn easy it is for a lot of people to just purchase that very ticket home. Accepting that failure may indeed be the mother of success.

In the meantime, a little bit of bad news, the Maldives is now facing a police mutiny and a revolt that has toppled it’s current president (maybe not bad news for the people of the county itself, but for me, as just a few days ago I was told by the sailors in Cochin that the Maldives would be the ideal place to find a ship… two days later, this news hits me) and last but not least some very good news: the Italian dude has made it to Sri Lanka!:http://karl-girovagando.blogspot.in +++

+++ 02. Feb – just got back from the Cochin International Marina – there are four sailing ships and their owners seem to be similarly frustrated as I am at the moment. Those that I have talked to came from California and Australia across the Pacific and South East Asia, planning on heading westwards, through the Red Sea, Mediterranean. The pirates in the Gulf of Aden however are making it way too dangerous to continue their planned route. The only safe route for un-convoyed sailing ships at the moment is via the Maldives all the way down to South Africa. That would take around 2 1/2 months, they say.  Some of them have been staying in Cochin for more than a year already. Two of them want to get their ships shipped back home to California and Australia in a container, which proves to be yet another challenge. The Australian guy is still weighing the expenses of sailing his ship back or getting it onto a container freighter. Sailing back would probably cost him more – if not, although chances are very slim, he will sail back via Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and he will consider me as crew! That’s actually giving me a little bit of hope, which I am quite desperate for at the moment. So: I’m starting to realize that India is not only by land, but also by sea, somewhat a dead end. Disembarking this country on a container ship as a tourist is even prohibited by law, I learnt recently. Sailing ships, as I was told today, are very few and tend to avoid India.  Chances of getting on a sailing ship are higher in Sri Lanka or best on the Maldives., getting there is yet another unanswered question. My next steps will be going to Mumbai, looking into the possibilities of getting a job on a cruiser or on an Arab Dhow. If that fails me, I will most probably go back to Delhi, get my bicycle, go to Sri Lanka and try my luck there… In Alleppey, Kerala, I got to know to an Italian traveller and writer who is currently trying to circle the globe, also without flying. He is now on his way to Sri Lanka, looking for a ship – in a few weeks I will hear from him how the odds are in Sri Lanka. +++

+++ 30. Jan – on my way to Cochin, Kerala – the quest for the ship has begun!+++

+++ 19. Jan 2012 – at Kodai International School, showing films +++

+++  17. Jan 2012 – in Batalagundu (Tamil Nadu) Parasparam Trust Orphanage. Thank you everyone for your kind replies and encouragements! I just had a very touching time in Chennai, my birth town, with some childhood friends, making me realize once more that this country is indeed partly home to me – I will be going back to Mumbai within this week to enquire about, both, the possibilities of getting a job on a boat or a Pakistani Visa. At the same time my father will try to get a permission from the Burmese consulate to cross Burmese surface borders (however I’m not putting too much hope on this option). Which ever door opens in which direction, following my inner voice, I shall find the way+++ A dear friend just sent me this interview that was taken at my former school in Jakarta 2 years ago+++

+++ 03. Jan 2012 -My girlfriend left this morning back to Germany after having joined me here in India for 3 incredibly beautiful and love-replenishing weeks, which leaves me now longing in an internet cafe in Mumbai. The chances that I will continue the route all the way to Papua (via Thailand) are getting lower and lower. I do not want to resort to air traveling. Burmese borders seem to be closed for sure. Getting from India to Thailand by ship doesn’t seem too likely either. If such a possibility emerges however, I would definitely still take it under consideration!

Doz, my travel mate, has quit… he’s booked a flight back home from Delhi for February to pursue his studies of Liberal Arts (which I think is a reasonable decision). Realizing that India seems to be a dead end, I have come to like the idea of turning around, cycling back to Berlin, back to my love, via Central Asia – this however would prove rather tricky, too, regarding a lot of Visa-Application… Getting a Pakistani Visa issued in India is supposed to be nearly impossible. Border crossing between India and China (or Nepal and China) is an exhausting beaurocratic hastle that would most probably drain my budget immediately. So, I am afraid, I am locked up in India … which at the moment I don’t necessarily mind…yet. So the thing is, I have no clue where I am going to be in 2 months from now. On a yacht to Thailand, Malaysia or Banda Aceh, working as crew?  On my bicycle back through Pakistan (having received the Visa), China, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Azerbaidjan, Georgia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany? On some ship, a freighter or cruiser (also working as crew), from Mumbai or Colombo, westwards?… any advice, feedback or encouragement is highly appreciated!+++


+++05. Dec – in Delhi – film is ready! (click link above or scroll down) … sorry for taking so long+++

+++ 26. Nov – still in Delhi – still editing… – for those of you getting bored and who havn’t seen it: have a look at “Cari Hutan – In the Search of Forest”and spread the word! +++

+++ 17. Nov – in New Delhi – editing – happy to be here+++

+++ 11. Nov. – in Amritzar, admiring the golden Temple of the Sikhs and their devotion to their truly inspiring religion – the Golden Temple offers free accommodation and food not only to pilgrims but also to backpackers (voluntary donation based) – the public kitchen is run entirely by volunteer workers and is open 24h, every single day of the year, offering food for thousands of people – I am very very far behind with editing at the moment – hopefully will catch up in Delhi, only around 500km apart from us+++

+++ 10. Nov. – Surprise! We are in Lahore, Pakistan, around 50km away from the Indian border! We hitched a ride on a tuck shortly after Yazd that brought us straight to Zahedan (90km away from Pakistani border) from where we were escorted on police pick-ups into Pakistan – in Pakistan we were handed over to the local police who took very good care of us and escoreted us and our bicycles all the way to Quetta – regarding these friendly efforts that the military makes, Balochistan is  safe to travel - from Quetta we took a 30-hour train all the way to Lahore – spend the  night in a cheap hotel and are now about to leave for Amritza, Mother India!+++

+++01. Nov. – what an amazing day! – more and more falling in love with this country and its people+++

+++01. Nov. – Still in Yazd – yesterday we got to know to a guy who is friends with one of Iran’s top mountainbikers who is now taking us to Taft, 20km outside the city into the mountains! – very excited to see and ride some of his high-end carbon MTBs!+++

+++31. Oct. – While hitchhiking from Esfahan to Persepolis, the ancient capital of the Persian Empire – 2500 years old and very impressive – we got to know to Massud – Massud is also a passionate cyclist and he decided to join us from Esfahan to Yazd – he showed us a short cut through the desert – beautiful landscape and one of the most remote place I have been to – we are now in Yazd staying at Massud’s cousin’s shared student flat – we have around 9 days left until our Iranian Visa expires and less than 1000km to go till the Pakistani border – so it’s going to be quite a relaxed ride regarding that we probably will have to go by truck or bus after Kerman/Bam as we will then enter Balluchistan, where it is supposedly too dangerous to ride our bikes… but we will see and try to catch the feel of the situation once we are in that region and decide how we will continue – we still feel very safe and welcome+++

+++14. Oct. – Iran is awesome! – cracked the 5000km yesterday! – Iranian people incredibly hospitable – right now at Payam’s place, really friendly Iranian guy in Tabriz – got our stomachs filled with delicious food, our dirty bodies showered and even dirtier clothes washed – just realized that my cycling-underwear has not had any water other than my ball-sweat for 2300km now (and I’ve been wearing them every single day)+++

+++09. Oct. – can somebody please put some coins in the wind machine and make it turn by 180°? – after some very tough days of riding only 120km separate us from the Iranian border – i.e. we will not have to resort to taking a bus or train – landscape of East Anatolia is incredibly beautiful – although quite steep at some points, the roads are very well paved – passed three 2000m+ passes already – this was probably the toughest part on our entire route to Indonesia Kurdish people are extremely friendly and welcoming – just got out of a Hamam (Turkish Bath) , havn’t been this clean since…. my last visit to my grandparents maybe – looking forward to Iran – Internet might get even rarer there than it already is here in East Turkey, so the third video might take a while to be uploaded+++

+++30. Sept. – reached Sinop this morning – bike is fully mounted – ready to hit the road tomorrow morning – second video has been uploaded (click link above)++++++29. Sept. – just got back from the customs – WITH THE FRAME! – very very happy – taking the night bus back to Sinop – tomorrow putting the bike back together – then let’s see how far we get before having to take the bus or train into Iran+++

+++28. Sept. – also got kicked out at ‘Yeni Cami’….+++

+++28. Sept. – “Broken Frame Tours” is back in business, now at ‘Yeni Cami’ (‘New Mosque’), which I find much more interesting and historically thrilling than the Blue Mosque – will call the customs again today just to make them know that I am still on their heels, although there is no real hope that the frame is available today already+++

+++26. Sept. – Still in Istanbul – went to the customs today – frame will be available on Thursday the earliest… – just moved to the apartment of friends from Jakarta who I coincidently ran into a couple of days ago – having a good time still – even if we do get the frame within the next days we most probably wont make it to the Iranian border on time (by 16th October our Iranian Visa obliges us to have crossed the border) by bike, so either we will have to get the Visa extended in Van (last major Turkish city before border) or take a bus or the train to the border+++

+++24. Sept. – Just got kicked out of the Blue Mosque for not having a tour-guide-permit – seems like the big age of “Broken Frame Tours” is over+++

+++23. Sept. – Still in Istanbul… and probably will be for quite a while still… – frame can’t be tracked by DHL – apparently is now in the hands of the PTT (Turkish Post) and might not even be in Turkey yet… – will have to get Iranian Visa extended – this really sucks – good things about this: We got to see the Bianale; I get plenty of time for editing + being a tour guide; we might be cycling through snow in the mountains of East Anatolia+++

+++22. Sept. – Still in Istanbul… Doz has taken the bus here, too, now – having a good time+++

+++20. Sept. – Still in Istanbul…+++

+++16. Sept. – In Istanbul for a couple of days already – hitchhiking was one big painful failure – after 24 hours of hitchhiking I ended up in the middle of Ankara instead of Istanbul thinking that it might be easier to get a ride from there – after desperate hours of trying to get out of the busy city
I decided to take bus instead – very first time giving up in my entire hitchhiker’s career – in Istanbul got a new hub spoked, since freewheel is unrepairable – after reading some Wikipedia entries I made a few Euros as a tourist tour guide at Sultan Ahmet Cami (Blue Mosque) – new frame will arrive on Monday, then taking the bus back to Sinop, where Doz is still waiting, then put the bike back together and hit the road as soon as possible+++

+++10. Sept. – worst case scenario has set in way earlier than expected: we’ve got a broken frame! Since we pushed the bikes over the beach my freewheel has been getting blocked all the time, so I’d been riding a fixed gear bike the last 300km – made it up to Sinop, Black Sea Coast – while unsuccesfully trying to fix the freewheel here in Sinop we discovered the crack – very very desperate at first – called FALKENJAGD, they will send us a new frame as soon as possible, since then happy and optimistic again – we are proud to be the very first in the history of FALKENJAGD to have broken one of their frames! – already dismantled the bike down to the frame – tomorrow I will be hitchhiking back to Istanbul with the broken frame and the back wheel to get the freewheel fixed (maybe even spoke a new hub) and send the broken frame back to Germany – new frame will arrive in Sinop within one week hopefully – then we’ll have to speed up a little in order to make it to Iran within the Visa expiration date (16. October)+++

+++31. Aug – Somewhere on the coast of the Black Sea – We haven’t got far since we left Istanbul, as we have to get used to cycling again, very hot very hilly – today the road suddenly stopped and went off our intended route from the coast into the mainlands (our map doesn’t seem to be very accurate) – we were told that we could either follow the road and do a 20km detour or push the bicycles across the beach for 2km – we chose the later, which at first seemed to have turned out as a mistake, after all made it turn into a great day though – after a few hundred meters Doz had a flat, our chains and hubs covered in sand – we got to know to a group of fun Turkish guys and had an extensive ‘Piknik’ – they ended up towing us with their tractor and invited us to their farm house, where we will be spending the night – tomorrow morning I’ve been promised to be able to fulfill one of my lifetime dreams: milking a cow!+++

+++27. Aug - THE FIRST VIDEO IS READY TO BE ENJOYED! - Still in Istanbul, leaving tomorrow morning – Raki-Time!! ++++++19. Aug – Still enjoying Istanbul very much! – planning on staying here for a while – still haven’t found a place to stay really- spent one night at CouchSurfers, last night we slept on a playground right at the Bosporus – this morning I witnessed one the cheesiest sunrises in my life – indeed a fascinating city – will take a swim in the ocean soon, we found a really beautiful spot to dive into the Halic (“Golden Horn” of the Bosporus), right in the city center across the Rüstem Pasha Mosque- video still in progress, taking longer than expected+++

+++14. Aug – in Istanbul!! – since CouchSurfing failed us, we are spending a night in a cheap hotel – first shower since Sibiu, Romania, (almost 2 weeks) hardly felt so refreshed before – very excited to discover this urban jungle tomorrow – currently editing the first video-blog, hopefully to be uploaded by the end of this week+++

+++11. Aug – wind continues, today even joined by  heavy rain – unfortunately still did not make it to the coast, simply to windy to ride on – sincerely hoping for better weather+++

+++10. Aug – in Sliven, Bulgaria, not the prettiest town so far – today experienced the most brutal, stormiest and bitchiest side and head winds in our lives! – realized that head winds are worse than going up hill – reminded us of surfing, getting tossed around by waves in the sea – despite winds and 600m altitude difference made 150km today – tomorrow we will hopefully reach the Black Sea (as planned for today) and hopefully less wind – now sleeping in a concrete hut on a barren field+++ btw: Picture upload failed due to poor internet connection+++

+++08. Aug – spent last night in the garden of a bar owner, fun night with Romania ‘discoteque’ and self-brewed plum liquor – nolw  in Turnu Magurele, border to Bulgaria, we missed the last ferry to bring us across the Danube river as we just had our first flat since Berlin – having a relaxed day in a Park – Romania was great! Now excited to see Bulgaria++++++02. Aug – 1512km –  Deva, Romania – slowly starting to feel Asia coming closer+++

+++29. Jul – 1015km - we think we spent last night in a brothel – now Couchsurfing one night in Budapest  then leaving southwards towards Romania+++

+++26. Jul – Vienna! 6 Days, 740km! One day break, then off eastwards along the Danube to Budapest+++

+++24. Jul – reached Prague – sitting in front of Starbucks, making use of its WiFi, with a sign “Cycling from Berlin to Indonesia – Give us your money, not Starbucks!” – So far earned 2€ – off towards Vienna+++

+++23. Jul 2011 – reched Dresden – heavy rain and front winds – found shelter in a trailer camp – today off to Prague+++

+++21. Jul 2011 – 11:12 am – Off to Papua – the next frontier for a living planet!+++

+++ 20. Jul 2011 – Visa ready to be picked up tomorrow at 8:30, then final preparations, then departure – both of us very excited+++

+++18. Jul 2011 – Iranian Visa on its way – bicycles mounted – departure 20. Jul 2011 if things go well – knock on wood+++

+++14. Jul 2011 – Still waiting for Visa – hopefully able to depart within the next days+++

+++11. Jul 2011 – Planed departure date (10. Jul) postponed – Still waitingfor Iranian Visa and essential bike parts +++

4 Responses

  1. Fusion Flo

    2 September 201114:32

    Wow Jungs! Beim Video schauen hat mein ganzer Körper gekribbelt! Toll Danke Toll!

    Ich versuche mir ein Beispiel zu nehmen und bin letzte Woche von Berlin zu meiner Mutter nach Münster mit dem Rad gefahren… Der Weg mit dem Zug zurück war ein komisches Gefühl wenn wieder ein echtes Gefühl für Zeit und Raum vorhanden ist.

    4 Tage Fahrrad waren wie 3 Wochen Urlaub im Kopf :)

    Bon Voyage meine Lieben!

    Gruss Flo

  2. Replica Designer Handbags

    6 September 201107:20

    Failure is the mother of success. – Thomas Paine

  3. Papabär

    9 October 201115:41

    hey Jungs wo seid ihr. Schon so lange keine Infos mehr von euch. Hoffe, dass es euch gut geht

  4. Niklas

    7 January 201218:20

    Also Mumbai hat die zwei wichtigsten Häfen für Indien und man kann meiner Meinung nach auf JEDEM Schiff als Passargier mitfahren – egal ob Tanker oder Frachtschiff. Du müsstest mal zum Hauptgebäude des jeweiligen Hafens gehen und die können dir dann Auskunft darüber geben wieviel das genau kostet und welche Schiffe wohin fahren. Dann könntest du vielleicht von Mumbai bis nach Singapur. Die Durchreise durch Mynamar über den Landweg ist wohl möglich aber dazu benötigt man Sondergenehmigungen. Vielleicht fragst du mal per Mail beim staatlichen Reisebüro von Myanmar nach. http://www.myanmartravelsandtours.com/