XXII Badi Asha School – Brown Bread Bakery (Special social project)

For me it was destiny that I had chosen the great Stops Hostel to stay at. Cause the Stops was a partner of the Brown Bread Bakery (selling food from the bakery and making advertising for them). So it happened that I went to the Brown Bread Bakery for dinner and I went there again and again and again….for the rooftop, for the live music, for the great food and the great people. While I was there I read about Micha’s (the owner of the Brown Bread Bakery) social project „Learn for Life“ (non-profit organization) and that they are running a school at Varanasi. Curious as I am I asked Micha straight ahead, if I could visit the school to see what kind of social work he is doing and I got invited. Micha gave me a look around and I was able to help to serve lunch to the pupils. When I visited the school in 2015 there were 110 students (30 kindergarden kids and 80 school kids) – kids were between 4 and 14 years old. We are talking about the kids of the most poorest families. Besides being taught at the Badi Asha School in the afternoons the kids have the possibility to play there. In between they are getting a lunch. And also the health insurance is covered by the school. Teachers were either indian ones or  foreigners that worked as volunteers. Some more things to mention which fascinated me about this project:  At the Badi Asha School every one is equal and the kids are being taught that from the beginning. This might be normal in our civilization, but we are talking about a country with a great variety of religions (Hinduism – with it’s castes system, Buddhism, Moslems, Catholics, Protestants….). AlsoMicha tries to employ disabled or older people that won’t have any chance to finding any job and also giving poor or punished or raped women who might have been kicked out by their families and were now on their ones with the kids a chance to get involved at the school. Either within the stitching project or supporting the brown bread bakery (packaging, etc.) or to help with gardening. There are so many who are in the need of help and getting some hope for life, so I am very happy that I was able to Meet Micha and Nicole and the rest of the people who have such great hearts and are running this school project. To find out more about this wonderful project feel free to visit: http://blog.learn-for-life.net/ or check them out on Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/Learn-for-Life-School-Official-Page-VARANASI-261154148628/ .  Here now some impressions of my visit at the school…

IMG_3486 IMG_3484 IMG_3488 IMG_3492 IMG_3494 IMG_3498 IMG_3499 IMG_3503 IMG_3512 IMG_3514IMG_3521IMG_3524 IMG_3519 IMG_3525 IMG_3530 IMG_3533IMG_3544 IMG_3537 IMG_3539 IMG_3541 IMG_3545 IMG_3547 IMG_3549 IMG_3550 IMG_3553 IMG_3554 IMG_3561

Und hier nun die besagte Brown Bread Bakery, wo alles begann…

(And that’s where all began for me….the already mentioned Brown Bread Bakery…)

IMG_3586IMG_3682 IMG_3589 IMG_3591 IMG_3685 IMG_3688 IMG_3658 IMG_3663

XXI Heiko goes Varanasi (Benares)

Discovering India by train – always exciting, always challenging!

Leaving Allahabad towards Varanasi.

IMG_2309 IMG_2311 IMG_2302

Didn’t have your shower today – just go to the train station.

IMG_2327 IMG_2361 IMG_2376

Toilets – indian style.

IMG_2395 IMG_2420

Taking a tuktuk to my hostel….getting first time in touch with the crazy traffic on the streets of Varanasi….either you will hate the hole place or you will love it! I for myself did love it and so I extended, and extended and extended my stay 😉

IMG_2434 IMG_2440 IMG_2447

The Stops Hostel – best place ever! Great people! Lovely rooms and food. And the best tours (thanks to Mr. India).

003stopshostel (2) IMG_2458 IMG_2464 IMG_2466

First walk around…along the ghats….I will just let the pictures speak to take you with me on this journey through Varanasi.

IMG_2472 IMG_2474 IMG_2478 IMG_2486 IMG_2488 IMG_2491 IMG_2498 IMG_2502 IMG_2506 IMG_2510 IMG_2516 IMG_2520 IMG_2521 IMG_2524 IMG_2529 IMG_2531 IMG_2534 IMG_2538 IMG_2539 IMG_2548 IMG_2550 IMG_2553 IMG_2557 IMG_2558 IMG_2565 IMG_2572 IMG_2575 IMG_2608 IMG_2614 IMG_2622IMG_2630 IMG_2633 IMG_2645 IMG_2650 IMG_2656 IMG_2658 IMG_2667 IMG_2683 IMG_2686 IMG_2695 IMG_2702 IMG_2709 IMG_2712 IMG_2716 IMG_2717 IMG_2720 IMG_2722 IMG_2724 IMG_2725 IMG_2728 IMG_2730 IMG_2735 IMG_2737 IMG_2739 IMG_2743  IMG_2799

The evening ceremony at the main ghat…..be ready to expect hundreds or even thousands of people.

IMG_2843 IMG_2853

Back to the Stops  – some yoga session to start the next day.

IMG_2873IMG_2877 IMG_2878

Hop on a tuktuk for a half day trip to Sarnath, a holy place for all that believe in Buddha. And definately worth the ride, as in comparison to Varanasi it felt so green and so much fresher air. Probably besides the normal dust in Varanasi it is also related to the 24 hours of burning bodies along the river Ganga, as Varanasi is the place to die at for every Hindu believing person.

IMG_2885 IMG_2909 IMG_2911 IMG_2913 IMG_2915 IMG_2926 IMG_2936 IMG_2941 IMG_2943 IMG_2954 IMG_2980 IMG_2985 IMG_2998 IMG_2999 IMG_3006 IMG_3034 IMG_3046 IMG_3073

Back to Varanasi – back to the magical ghats.

IMG_3093 IMG_3115 IMG_3136 IMG_3142

Probably one of the best walking tours I took part….the market tour.

Impressive street life…

IMG_3148IMG_3149 IMG_3153 IMG_3154

And what lovely group we were! – was such a pleasure to meeting each of you guys!

IMG_3156 IMG_3157 IMG_3161 IMG_3180 IMG_3181 IMG_3190 IMG_3207 IMG_3209 IMG_3211 IMG_3212 IMG_3216 IMG_3217 IMG_3221

Narrow alleys – no problem! Just share it with the cows and scooters. Once you want to move on and a cow stops and you can’t pass anymore  just hit her on the bu..  and you should be fine.

IMG_3226 IMG_3232 IMG_3238 IMG_3243IMG_3244 IMG_3245 IMG_3253

Market tour finished……but with Anil you could do tours all around the clock…so the Ghat tour was next…

IMG_3272 IMG_3295

This is something you better don’t do. As probably even the quality of europe’s dirtiest rivers is 100times better than the one of the holy river Ganga at Varanasi.

IMG_3312 IMG_3327 IMG_3329 IMG_3332 IMG_3345 IMG_3386 IMG_3388 IMG_3395 IMG_3406 IMG_3413 IMG_3421

A little trip to visit the Badi Asha School, a social project which I got to know about at the Brown Break Bakery…..pictures and story in a separate post.

IMG_3476IMG_3569 IMG_3570 IMG_3574 IMG_3578

Back to Varanasi centre…some more street impressions…

IMG_3607 IMG_3626 IMG_3631 IMG_3633 IMG_3635 IMG_3637 IMG_3639 IMG_3642 IMG_3644 IMG_3645 IMG_3649 IMG_3650 IMG_3651 IMG_3653

Sometimes it can be good when you are carrying some bananas or other fruit with you around…..never saw any happier face of a chikd or mother afterwards.

IMG_3656

Enjoying some delicious food on the rooftop of the Brown Bread Bakery.

IMG_3658 IMG_3663 IMG_3668 IMG_3676 IMG_3695 IMG_3699 IMG_3703 IMG_3706 IMG_3708 IMG_3715 IMG_3716 IMG_3718 IMG_3728IMG_3731 IMG_3760 IMG_3765 IMG_3768

Time to say goodbye Stops Hostel – goodbye crazy , magical, beautiful Varanasi!

IMG_3770 IMG_3786 IMG_3822

XX Heiko goes Allahabad I

Oh well flight no 18  from delhi to Allahabd should become exciting…the airplane was quite small and having that special side motors…..arriving safely on kind of a ilitary base airport.

IMG_1703 IMG_1705 IMG_1715

Sitting next to me Anadi, a very mysterious lady which I should visit later on.

IMG_1707

Leaving one friend in Delhi behind, meeting the next friend from our studying times in the UK…..my lovely room…

IMG_1727

First trip with Summit & Shanaya…..visiting the Ghandi museum…

IMG_1729 IMG_1731 IMG_1734 IMG_1737

And then making our way towards the first holy place which I should see in India…….“Triveni Sangram“….where the river Ganges meets the Yamuna river as well as the invisible Saraswati river…..thousands of people around….me being the only foreigner there.

IMG_1761 IMG_1756 IMG_1770IMG_1773 IMG_1777 IMG_1784 IMG_1790 IMG_1798 IMG_1801 IMG_1809 IMG_1813 IMG_1816 IMG_1817 IMG_1820 IMG_1826

Making a little boat ride towards the place where the 3 rivers are meeting up together.

IMG_1829 IMG_1832 IMG_1834IMG_1851 IMG_1905 IMG_1908 IMG_1912 IMG_1922

Back on land…strolling around a little bit  before leaving that holy place.

IMG_1926 IMG_1941 IMG_1948 IMG_1952 IMG_1957 IMG_1967 IMG_1971 IMG_1973 IMG_1977

Stop over – chicken place – probably not the best place for any vegetarian people or for people focusing too much on hygiene.

IMG_1980IMG_1981

IMG_1986

Appetizer = street food

IMG_1996

Main dish = one of the lovely dinner’s at Summit’s place. Yumyum.

IMG_1989

We proudly present „Scamper – the dog“…..short story about that cutie……once he is very excited about visitors he jumps up on them; but not only that he jumps…..if you are an unlucky one then he also might pee on you as he is so happy to see you.  What a lovely way to welcome a guest….but as far as I remember I was quite lucky and didn’t get any wet.

IMG_2003

Visiting Summit’s mom…

IMG_2006 IMG_2007 IMG_2010 IMG_2012

Barbecue time….chef Summit made a great job!

IMG_2033 IMG_2035 IMG_2058 IMG_2059

I loved that nice little bar!  That’s the place where I got to know „Old Monk“…..don’t miss out on trying it once you are in India.

IMG_2068IMG_2073 IMG_2084 IMG_2094

Discovering the environement…..walking around Allahabad….

IMG_2100 IMG_2101 IMG_2104 IMG_2106 IMG_2107 IMG_2112

Right before left?  Left before right ? – Nevermind….cow goes first and the pedestrians, scooters, cars, Tuk Tuk’s, Riksha’s are finding their way through.

IMG_2130

Yummy yummy again.

IMG_2125 IMG_2127

My very first time teaching…..German lesson at the IPEM…it was a great and unique experience.

05 teaching (1)05 teaching (2)05 teaching (3)05 teaching (4)05 teaching (5)

My very first indian wedding…..for now a catholic one….but more to follow…

IMG_2169 IMG_2172IMG_2227 IMG_2239 IMG_2252 IMG_2265

Sun was setting down – time to dress for the evening ceremony of the wedding.

IMG_2266 IMG_2272 IMG_2276IMG_2286 IMG_2279

Oh well, poor bridal couple…..while everyone was having dinner and talking together   those two had to stand for hours in the spotlight receiving presents, being photographed and filmed and were supposed to smile most of the time.

IMG_2281 IMG_2289 IMG_2293

A little goodbye present from Shaniya….so sweet….I still have it and it got a nice little space.

IMG_2138

XIX Heiko goes Delhi I

Stopover in Bangkok – before flying out to Delhi – Crazy India I am coming.

Sometimes it is very wisely not to buy a simple burger for 6$ (!) at Burger King at the airport or to eat for nearly the same price lunch at the hotel; but just to walk 500metres and find an authentic street food place with only Thai writing on the menue and very friendly + wonderful people (Thx at Nattha + Poy).

IMG_1167 IMG_1160 IMG_1170 IMG_1183

Here I am….getting a airport pick-up from my lovely friend Yatan.

IMG_1208 IMG_1224 IMG_1229

Yatan’s lovely family and my very first accomodation while in India.

IMG_1231 IMG_1234

First night – Indian Dance event…

IMG_1251 IMG_1330 IMG_1339

Oh well…..public transport…..talking about Delhi’s metro…..yes it’s true….not pretty much space, so you shouldn’t have any problems to feel the breath of others in your neck…..and also  it’s men, and men and men again…didn’t see any single woman in the hole train….later on I found out that there even exist separate wagon’s for women only.

IMG_1349 IMG_1361

My destination for day 1: Salaam Balaak Trust – Street walking tour…very interesting, as former street kids are showing tourists around the streets  talking about the life as a street kid and what Salaam Baalak trust does offer to get kids off the street.

IMG_1381 IMG_1387 IMG_1393 IMG_1395

Only bad touch of the story…..he didn’t even know his exact birthdate/age…no identity card…no trace of his parents……he was a small kid when he left home to go to Delhi. Definately worth to try out this walking tour yourself.

IMG_1400

A lil bit of street life…colourful…

IMG_1401IMG_1441 IMG_1445 IMG_1461 IMG_1464 IMG_1470

If everyone ever questions why you do find pictures of the god’s on the walls here and there. The answer is quite simple….Indian people, whatever religion they belong  to, are very strong in believe to their gods. So a picture of their gods should avoid them from peeing on the walls.

IMG_1355

Visiting Qutab Minar together with Yatan.

IMG_1477 IMG_1480 IMG_1490 IMG_1510 IMG_1512 IMG_1524 IMG_1534 IMG_1536 IMG_1538IMG_1540

Yatan wanted to show me the new Delhi, I insisted on seeing the old Delhi first ;-)….so here are some street impressions of the old part.

IMG_1543 IMG_1547 IMG_1549 IMG_1551

Western media say:  Be careful…..Indian streetfood…..severe stomach problems. I did prove them wrong…..if so many indian people are standing in queue to get some food than it can’t be that bad…just probably dont take something too spicy which might be too untypical for our stomachs and you will be fine.

IMG_1553 IMG_1554 IMG_1555 IMG_1558 IMG_1561 IMG_1562

Friendliness

IMG_1575 IMG_1576 IMG_1597

Indian way of transporting things…..just be creative and do it!

IMG_1609IMG_1626

Time to say goodbye to delhi for now! Thank you so much for hosting me and it was a pleasure to got to know your lovely family. But I should be back….also to see the New Delhi 😉

IMG_1660 IMG_1663 IMG_1666

On the way to the airport…..cows, crazy traffic….daily life.

IMG_1668 IMG_1679

The holy cow – eating rubbish from the streets….typical India.

IMG_1681

Me at the aiport again….flight number….hm?….18 !?

IMG_1701

XVIII Heiko goes Hoi An

Time to say goodbye to Hanoi and hopping on the train for my 2nd ride.

01nachtzug (1) 01nachtzug (3) 01nachtzug (4) 01nachtzug (5)

My two room mates for the night. They didn’t speak any english – I didn’t speak any vietnamese. But hey, we smiled at each other, talked by using the hands and at least could exchange our names and our travel destinations.

01nachtzug (2)

Some train ride impressions – on our way to DaNang.

01nachtzug (6) 01nachtzug (7) 01nachtzug (8) 01nachtzug2 (1) 01nachtzug2 (2) 01nachtzug2 (3) 01nachtzug2 (5)01nachtzug2 (6) 01nachtzug2 (8)

After arriving in DaNang I arranged a taxi ride towards Hoi An….destination for the first day/night was the „Under the coconut tree Homestay“….nearby the beach, 18-bed-dorm without aircon, but with Ven & Moscito nets for every single bed plus open air toilet and shower…..plus lots of lovely people – simply great!02 beach hostel (1) 02 beach hostel (2) 02 beach hostel (3) 02 beach hostel (4)

A first little walk towards the ocean, which was very nearby.

02 beach hostel (5) 02 beach hostel (6) 02 beach hostel (7) 02 beach hostel (8) 02 beach hostel (9) 02 beach hostel (10) 02 beach hostel (11) 02 beach hostel (12)02 beach hostel (13) 02 beach hostel (14) 02 beach hostel (15) 02 beach hostel (16) 02 beach hostel (17) 02 beach hostel (18) 02 beach hostel (19) 02 beach hostel (20) 02 beach hostel (21) 02 beach hostel (22) 02 beach hostel (23) 02 beach hostel (24) 02 beach hostel (25) 02 beach hostel (26) 02 beach hostel (27) 02 beach hostel (28) 02 beach hostel (29) 02 beach hostel (30) 02 beach hostel (31)

Time to find some food…

02 beach hostel (32) 02 beach hostel (33) 02 beach hostel (34)

Usually I don’t book accomodation in advance, and if I hadn’t done it I would have probably extended my stay at the Under the Coconut Tree Homestay…..but the move towards the city centre should be worth it.

04hoianbyday2 (11) 04guesthousehoian (1) 04guesthousehoian (2)04guesthousehoian (3)

The father of the family owned guesthouse is a long-year tailor. So I decided to get myself some nice new clothes.

04guesthousehoian2 (1) 04guesthousehoian2 (2) 04guesthousehoian2 (3) 04guesthousehoian2 (4)

And the mother of the family was a great cook; and she was so lovely to allow me to join her in the kitchen to see how she is cooking and also to join their lunch. The children were studying english in evening classes, as many young vietnamese people are doing, to better being able to deal with the increasing tourism.

04guesthousehoian3 (1) 04guesthousehoian3 (3) 04guesthousehoian3 (4) 04guesthousehoian3 (5) 04guesthousehoian3 (6) 04guesthousehoian3 (7) 04guesthousehoian3 (8) 04guesthousehoian3 (9) 04guesthousehoian3 (11)

Hoi An is a great and lovely city in which you can easily walk and bike. Some first street impressions…

04hoianbyday1 (1)04hoianbyday1 (2) 04hoianbyday1 (3) 04hoianbyday1 (4) 04hoianbyday1 (5) 04hoianbyday1 (6) 04hoianbyday2 (1) 04hoianbyday2 (2) 04hoianbyday2 (3) 04hoianbyday2 (4) 04hoianbyday2 (5)

The local market.

04hoianbyday2 (6) 04hoianbyday2 (7) 04hoianbyday2 (8) 04hoianbyday2 (9) 04hoianbyday2 (10)06hoianbynight1 (27)

Spontaneoulsy arranged a Yoga session a little bit outside of the centre…going there by bike trhough rise fields….if only the bikes were not that small, or better said: If only my legs were not that long – but well, I made it.

05yoga (2) 05yoga (3) 05yoga (4)

Hoi An by night…the city of lanterns…

06hoianbynight1 (1) 06hoianbynight1 (2) 06hoianbynight1 (3) 06hoianbynight1 (4) 06hoianbynight1 (5) 06hoianbynight1 (6) 06hoianbynight1 (7) 06hoianbynight1 (8) 06hoianbynight1 (9) 06hoianbynight1 (10) 06hoianbynight1 (11)06hoianbynight1 (12) 06hoianbynight1 (13) 06hoianbynight1 (14) 06hoianbynight1 (15) 06hoianbynight1 (16) 06hoianbynight1 (17) 06hoianbynight1 (18) 06hoianbynight1 (19) 06hoianbynight1 (20) 06hoianbynight1 (21) 06hoianbynight1 (22) 06hoianbynight1 (23) 06hoianbynight1 (24) 06hoianbynight1 (25) 06hoianbynight1 (26)

A big recommendation goes to…

Bike tour with Hoianfreetour….local students offering tours for free to improve their english skills…..we were a nice little group and saw lots of amazing things all around the city.

07daytripfreehoiantours2 (18) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (1) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (2) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (3) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (4) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (5) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (6) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (7) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (8) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (9) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (10) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (11) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (12) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (13) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (14)07 daytrip freehoiantours (15) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (16) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (17) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (18) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (19) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (20) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (21) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (22) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (23) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (24) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (25) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (26) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (27) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (28) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (29)07 daytrip freehoiantours (30) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (31) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (32) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (33) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (34) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (35) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (36) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (37) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (38) 07 daytrip freehoiantours (39) 07daytripfreehoiantours2 (1) 07daytripfreehoiantours2 (2) 07daytripfreehoiantours2 (3) 07daytripfreehoiantours2 (4) 07daytripfreehoiantours2 (5)07daytripfreehoiantours2 (6) 07daytripfreehoiantours2 (7) 07daytripfreehoiantours2 (8) 07daytripfreehoiantours2 (9) 07daytripfreehoiantours2 (10) 07daytripfreehoiantours2 (11) 07daytripfreehoiantours2 (12) 07daytripfreehoiantours2 (13) 07daytripfreehoiantours2 (14) 07daytripfreehoiantours2 (15) 07daytripfreehoiantours2 (16) 07daytripfreehoiantours2 (17)

Back in town…and some more street impressions….including the old Japanese Bridge…

08hoianday3 (1) 08hoianday3 (2)08hoianday3 (3) 08hoianday3 (4) 08hoianday3 (5) 08hoianday3 (6) 08hoianday3 (7) 08hoianday3 (8) 08hoianday3 (9) 08hoianday3 (10)

Doing a little boat ride.

08hoianday3 (11) 08hoianday3 (12) 08hoianday3 (13) 08hoianday3 (14)

Crazy or just Gaga ?

08hoianday3 (15) 08hoianday3 (16) 08hoianday3 (17)

And even more lanterns…..it was the night when they switched off all the lightning in the hole city for something like 30 – 40 minutes as a sign of saving energy for the world.

08hoianday3 (18) 08hoianday3 (19) 08hoianday3 (20) 08hoianday3 (21) 08hoianday3 (22) 08hoianday3 (23) 08hoianday3 (24) 08hoianday3 (25) 08hoianday3 (26) 08hoianday3 (27) 08hoianday3 (28) 08hoianday4 (1)

Hair cut – Vietnamese style – why not.

08hoianday4 (2) 08hoianday4 (3) 08hoianday4 (4)08hoianday4 (5) 08hoianday4 (6) 08hoianday4 (7)

There we go…..remember ?….yep…the 2 lovely ladies from the trek in Sapa, originally from Down Under…..I was just riding the bike along the streets in suddenly   someone shouted at me „Heyyyyy….“  (can’t remember actually the originally saying)…..but it ended up having a lovely dinner together and also meeting the Oops-Girl along the river.

08hoianday4 (8) 08hoianday4 (9) 08hoianday4 (10) 08hoianday4 (11) 08hoianday4 (12) 08hoianday4 (13) 08hoianday4 (14) 08hoianday4 (15)

Final market shopping and cooking and lunch time with the lovely hosting family of my guesthouse ebfore saying goodbye to Hoi An.

09final shoppinglunch (1)09finalshopping2 09final shoppinglunch (2)  10goodbyehoian

XVII – Heiko goes Sapa

Arriving in Sapa early in the morning, after taking the night train from Hanoi (quite comfy – I was positively surprised).

IMG_8381 IMG_8383 IMG_8384 IMG_8396 IMG_8420 IMG_8421IMG_8424 IMG_8425

Probably my very best experience in Vietnam so far and it should stay one of the top highlights of my trip. 2 days trekking tour with local Hmong women – staying over night with a Hmong family. This tour was so impressive and definately worth to do it!

IMG_8432 IMG_8430 IMG_8434 IMG_8439 IMG_8440 IMG_8444 IMG_8447IMG_8448 IMG_8451 IMG_8453 IMG_8457 IMG_8460 IMG_8464

Where are all the tourists everyone was talking about ? We saw a fantastic landscape & lots of children & various animals…..but on the 2nd day of our trek not one single other foreigner! Woohoo.

IMG_8467 IMG_8470 IMG_8471 IMG_8473 IMG_8476 IMG_8478 IMG_8480 IMG_8481 IMG_8483IMG_8489 IMG_8490 IMG_8491 IMG_8495 IMG_8498 IMG_8506

Lunch time & some creative art work…

IMG_8502 IMG_8509 IMG_8517 IMG_8521 IMG_8527 IMG_8524 IMG_8532 IMG_8534 IMG_8536IMG_8540 IMG_8544 IMG_8547 IMG_8548 IMG_8552 IMG_8557 IMG_8559 IMG_8562 IMG_8563 IMG_8566 IMG_8569 IMG_8574 IMG_8576 IMG_8582 IMG_8590IMG_8593 IMG_8594 IMG_8596 IMG_8603 IMG_8604 IMG_8607 IMG_8608 IMG_8611 IMG_8617

Sunset – and we arrived at our accomodation right in time to have a fantastic herbal bath right before dinner….btw at Sorrel, if you ever read this…..still waiting for you to sending me the herbal bath pic….I will leave an empty space here in the blog to add it 😛

IMG_8618 IMG_8620 IMG_8621 IMG_8623 IMG_8625

Starting into the 2nd day…..with our lovely little group…

IMG_8630IMG_8636 IMG_8647 IMG_8661 IMG_8668 IMG_8671 IMG_8674 IMG_8686 IMG_8687 IMG_8697 IMG_8699 IMG_8702 IMG_8714 IMG_8715 IMG_8716 IMG_8723IMG_8732 IMG_8735 IMG_8738 IMG_8741 IMG_8745

I somehow tried to draw in the trek we made onto a map.

IMG_8836

Sapa – Street impressions

IMG_8754 IMG_8756 IMG_8758 IMG_8766 IMG_8770 IMG_8773 IMG_8779 IMG_8789

IMG_8855 IMG_8856

Very interesting architecture. A lot of houses in Sapa have only made their „faces“; it seems like the rest will be forever under construction.

IMG_8857 IMG_8860 IMG_8861 IMG_8863 IMG_8864IMG_8868

Still on my walk to find the local new market…

IMG_8866 IMG_8871 IMG_8873 IMG_8877 IMG_8878

Sapa – New Market
Hidden, but i found it…..lots of locals there, nearly no tourists.

IMG_8879 IMG_8880 IMG_8884 IMG_8887IMG_8891 IMG_8889 IMG_8892 IMG_8894IMG_8895 IMG_8897 IMG_8901 IMG_8902 IMG_8904 IMG_8907

Street impressions – Hmong women.

IMG_8916 IMG_8917 IMG_8918 IMG_8922

Sapa train station, Leaving Sapa – I should meet those lovely ladies by luck later again 😉

IMG_8933

Sapa O’Chau – Ein bemerkenswertes soziales Projekt / a remarkable social project

Sapa O’Chau – Ein interessanter Blick hinter die Kulissen:
Nachdem ich diesen fantastischen Trek mit Sapa O’Chau erlebt habe, hatte ich mich spontan gegen einen Besuch des Cat Cat Dorfes entschieden (in welchem Touristen wohl von Verkäufern durch die Gegend gejagt werden) und anstatt dessen einen tieferen Einblick in die gemeinnützige Organisation Sapa O’Chau genossen. Dank Shu’s (Gründerin) Ehemann ‚Melson‘ durfte ich mir das Sapa O’Chau Centre anschauen; und so sah ich die beiden Gebäude, in welchen sowohl die aktuell 35 Schüler, als auch die 6 Voluntäre unterkommen, als auch den Computer-Raum, den Handwerksraum, die Küche, den Gemeinschaftsraum, sowie die beiden Klassenräume und die Mini-Bibliothek. Da ich selbst durch die einzelnen Bergdörfer der ethnischen Minderheiten gewandert bin, weiß ich wie viele Kinder dort leben. Auch wenn die Regierung die lokalen Grundschulen in den Dörfern sponsort, so können sich die meisten Familien im Anschluss keine weitere Schulbildung (High School Sapa oder anschließend Universität) für ihre Kinder leisten. So gab es auch hunderte von Anträgen die bei Sapa O’Chau eingingen; doch mit 35 Plätzen ist die Kapazität bereits ausgeschöpft.
Anstatt daß der aktuelle Vermieter der Gebäude die Mietraten stabil hält oder das soziale Projekt durch niedrigere Mieten unterstützt, erhöht er diese aktuell, da er höhere Einnahmen erzielen möchte. Darum plant Sapa O’Chau mittelfristig den Kauf eines eigenen Grundstücks, um darauf eigene Gebäude errichten zu können, welche dann weitaus mehr Schülern Unterkunft bieten sollten. Ich sprach auch mit der Schüler-Koordinatorin und Sie zeigte mir unter anderem die mit Büchergeschenken gut gefüllte Bibliothek. Allerdings sagte Sie mir, daß auch immer wieder kleinere Sachgeschenke wie Kleidung oder Schreibhefte sehr willkommen sind. Ich sagte ihr was die Schreibhefte angeht meine Unterstützung zu, und werde sehen, was ich dann wieder zurück in Deutschland organisieren kann. Wenn also jemand von Euch alljährlich um die Weihnachtszeit seine Geldspenden entrichtet, hier wäre eine Alternative, die ich mit eigenen Augen gesehen habe, und wo man weiß wo das Geld landet. Bei Interesse könnt ihr mir jederzeit eine Nachricht schicken.

(Sapa O’Chau – Interesting view behind the scenes:
After having done that amazing trekking tour with Sapa O‘Chau, instead of visiting Cat Cat Village (where I was told that you get hunted around by local sellers), I decided to take a deeper look into the non-profit organization Sapa O’Chau, which is reliant to volunteer work and donations. I am so happy that Shu’s ( the founder’s) husband ‚Melson‘ took his time to lead me up to the Sapa O’Chau Centre. There I had the chance to see the 2 buildings they are using to give accomodation to the currently 35 students + 6 volunteers, a computer room, two in house teaching rooms and 1 craft room. As I was trekking through the villages myself I saw how many children are living in the villages. Even though the government is sponsoring the local grammar schools in the villages afterwards most families cannot effort to send their children to high school in Sapa or to college/university. So there were hundreds of applications coming in to Sapa O’Chau, but they have only space for 35 students (aged between 15 and 18) so far. Also the land lord is currently increasing the rent for the building they are using instead of supporting the social work; that’s why Sapa O’Chau midterm plans of buying own land and to construct bigger buildings on that land to support even more local sudents of ethnic minority families. I also talked to the student coordinator. She showed me that their library with donated books is currently quite full; but there are always little things (donations) which are always welcome – like clothes or just paper notebooks for school. So in case anyone is doing yearly donations around christmas time – this here is a project I could experience with my own eyes; and myself will definately go for the paper notebooks and organizse sending a parcel once I am back in Germany. So if you are interested in supporting this project as well just drop me a note and I will find out what else is of need for the students and what we could send them from Europe.)

IMG_8840 IMG_8841 IMG_8932 IMG_8931 IMG_8930 IMG_8928 IMG_8927 IMG_8926 IMG_8925 IMG_8924 IMG_8923

IMG_8843 IMG_8845 IMG_8846 IMG_8848 IMG_8850 IMG_8851 IMG_8853

Autogramme-Spenden / sale of autograph collection for a good purpose

Autogramme-Spenden (www.autogramme-spenden.de). Heute startet meine wohl umfangreichste private Aktion, um 2 Schulprojekte in Indien + Vietnam nachhaltig zu unterstützen. Schweren Herzens aber für den guten Zweck trenne ich mich in Form von einer Auktion von mehr als 4.000 Originalautogrammen aus allen Bereichen, welche ich in den 80er und 90er Jahren sammelte. Ich möchte Euch von Herzen bitten und wäre Euch allen wirklich sehr dankbar, wenn ihr die Aktion so publik wie nur irgendwie möglich machen würdet (egal ob nun durch teilen, Mundpropaganda oder in einer anderen Form darauf aufmerksam zu machen), damit am Ende ein toller Erfolg dabei herauskommt. Ob ihr nun ein Autogramm für Euch selbst ersteigern möchtet, oder als Geschenk für einen Freund/eine Freundin oder unabhängig von den Autogrammen, einfach nur zur Unterstützung der guten Sache (bei vielen größeren Organisationen kommen 50% oder mehr des Geldes gar nicht bei den eigentlichen Projekten an, und werden zuvor von Marketingkosten und sonstigen Kosten der Organisation aufgefressen; ich plane 2018 selbst als Flugpate das Schulprojekt erneut zu besuchen, und werde neben den Geldspenden dann auch Mitbringsel direkt vor Ort abgeben und alles entsprechend online zur Nachverfolgung dokumentieren). Alle weiteren Informationen zum Projekt findet ihr auf der oben genannten Website. Vielen lieben Dank für Eure Unterstützung!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Autogramme-Spenden (www.autogramme-spenden.de). Today I am going live with the probably biggest thing I have done so far to support two social school projects in India and Vietnam. For this good purpose I decided to sell my autograph collection which I collected mainly in the 80s and 90s (4000+ original signed autographs from different areas). It’s a heartfelt wish of mine to bring it to a maximum success and would kindly ask everyone of you to somehow make this project as public as possible (either by just sharing it with family&friends, by word-of-mouth recomendation or in any other way). You might be even  interested in gaining an autograph for yourself or to give it away to a friend as a birthday/christmas present or you might not care about the autographs  at all but just wanting to support the social project (in most of the bigger organizsations big amounts oft he donated money which are urgently needed by the projects themself are wasted on advertising or get partly lost by a huge organziation structure – my project is little, but I plan to visit the school project myself in 2018 and besides making amoney transfer also to bring in gifts to the students in person). You will find all detailed information on the link I gave you above. A hole description on how it works can be found in english and I would ship the autographs all over the world. Thank you very much for your support!

Me & the stars:

Samples of the collection:

The 2 supported projects (details see website – link above):

Junges Staatstheater Karlsruhe

Wer hat ihn nicht schon einmal gehört, den Spruch ‘‘Och Mensch Kinder, nun macht hier doch bitte nicht so ein Theater!‘‘? Doch das nunmehr bereits in der 6. Spielzeit als eigene Sparte bestehende Junge Staatstheater Karlsruhe tut exakt dies, erstklassiges Kinder- und Jugendtheater spielen. Beginnend mit ‘‘Farbenfroh & Schwarzgeärgert‘‘, ein Stück bereits für die Allerkleinsten (2+) in welchem der Zusammenhang von Gefühlen und Farben in sehr unterhaltsamer Art und Weise dargestellt wird, über einen Kinderklassiker wie ‘‘Karlsson vom Dach‘‘, bis hin zu Jugendstücken wie ‘‘Odyssee‘‘ und sehr bald dann auch ‘‘Romeo & Julia‘‘  ist für alle Alterststufen etwas geboten. Begegnungsstätte für Jung & Alt –  Klein & Groß ist  die ‘Insel‘. Doch keine Sorge, man muss entgegen der Namensgebung nicht befürchten Wasser überqueren zu müssen, um dann nassfüssig durch die unterschiedlichen Produktionen in den Bann gezogen zu werden, sondern man erreicht sein Ziel von der Karlstrasse aus kommend dann doch recht einfach und zügig durch einen kurzen Fußmarsch über den Pausenhof der Gartenschule…… Weiterlesen ….. JuSt-Bericht

XVI – Heiko goes Halong Bay

Meinen 2-Tages-Trip in die Halong-Bucht hatte ich letztendlich dann doch über mein Hotel gebucht. Dazu muß man sagen, daß es in Hanoi eine Unzahl von sogenannten Reiseagenturen gibt. Alles was man dazu braucht ist ein kleiner offener Raum, dann noch ein paar Werbeplakate angebracht, ein Telefon und schon kann der Alltags-Vietnamese sich auf Provisionsbasis ein Extra-Taschengeld verdienen. Also Achtung! Oftmals werden hier wohl Prospekte von wunderschönen Schiffen und Kabinen gezeigt und am Ende landet man wo ganz anders. Doch leider ging es auch mir nicht anders, obwohl ich über mein Hotel buchte, doch dazu später mehr. Beim vietnamesischen Kachelmann waren wohl irgendwie die Brillengläser gesprungen, oder seine Kristallkugel war eingenebelt, als er in diese blickte, um die Wettervorhersage der kommenden Tage abzugeben. 20 – 23 Grad, Mix aus Sonne und Wolken – klang jedenfalls alles gar nicht so übel für eine nette Schiffahrt durch die Halong-Bucht.

[After comparing offers from the various so-called travel agencies in Hanoi, I finally did book my 2-days-trip to the Halong Bay through my hotel. Actually it doesn’t need much to run your own ‚travel agency‘ for such tours…a small open room, a mobile phone, and some advertising posters, that’s it….and you are ready to earn some easy extra money on provision basis. But be careful!….Lots of those places are showing you flyers with really great looking boats, which seem to be in a good state, but you might end up being disappointed or even end up on a totally different boat. Anyway, the same could even happen when booking through your hotel; more to come on that. Somehow the vietnamese weather frog must have been somehow dizzy or out of sense when looking into his crystal ball set the weather forecast for the upcoming days. I mean 20 – 23 degrees celsius – partly sunny, partly cloudy –  didn’t sound that bad for a nice boat trip in the famous Halong Bay.]

weater halongIMG_7965

Anstatt dessen war das Wetter eher gepenstisch. Doch das Ganze gab der Bootsfahrt einen speziellen Touch. Man hatte so das Gefühl King Kong Island zu umschippern. Ich wäre wohl auch gut als Capitano der Eclipse durchgegangen. Die von mir hier geposteten Bilder mögen tatsächlich den Eindruck vermitteln, daß man hier in totaler Idylle (wie man es eben so gedanklich im Kopf hat: Fischerboote, die einsam in der Halong-Bucht liegen, wunderschöner Sonnenuntergang und beeindruckende Landschaft) durch die Bucht fährt, doch die realität sah dann doch ganz anders aus….Massen-Tourismus….ein Boot nach dem anderen….wir hatten wahrscheinlich lediglich das Glück, daß wir deutlich verspätet starteten und daher die ganzen anderen Massen erst bei den Haltestops zu sehen bekamen.

[Through the hole trip the weather was very spooky. Which often gave us the feeling of riding around King Kong Island. I didn’t look that bad being the captain of the Eclipse. My selected photos might be a bit misleading, as it really seems to be like in the books, with you boating idyllic though the bay, maybe meeting a fisherboat from time to time. But the reality looked quite different. Be prepared of finding a mass tourism with one boat following the other. In the end we were actually quite lucky starting late due to some engine problems, so we partly had a ride on our own, but did meet all the other visitors from the other tours on the several stops.]

IMG_8299 IMG_8229 IMG_8233IMG_8334IMG_7971IMG_7973IMG_7990

  1. Halt: Die Sung Sot Höhle [1st stop: Sung Sot Cave]

IMG_8079IMG_8074IMG_8030

Ratter, ratter…..Erdkunde-Unterricht….frühe Schulzeit…wie war das nochmal mit den Stalagmiten und den Stalaktit(t)en…ach ja, Eselsbrücke, letztere = von oben herab hängend. Gibt sicherlich auch andere Möglichkeiten sich das zu merken, ist aber irgendwie doch recht einprägsam.

[Hmm…trying to remember how that was what we learned back ages ago at school in the geography classes about stalagmites and stalactit(e)s…using a memory hook like magic reminded me that the st…tit(e)s were the hanging ones. There might be other ways to memorise the difference, but who cares.]

IMG_8021

Und wo wir gerade beim Erdkundeunterricht waren; der rot leuchtende Stalagmit hier, der erinnert dann doch eher deutlich an etwas anderes; Biounterricht eben.

[And after refreshing geography class knowledge of the early ages, that very special red light stalagmite did catch the attention of many visitors and was a quite famous photo spot ; biology class this time.]

IMG_8043

Ein Männer-gefrässiger Feuerdrache.  [A man eating fire dragon.]

IMG_8095IMG_8091

2. Stop…hier konnte man entweder den kleinen Berg erklimmen oder ne Runde an den Strand und Schwimmen gehen…..das Wetter entschied für uns…99% von uns kraxelten. Ach ja, und hier sieht man dann doch ein paar der anderen Boote 😉

[2nd stop……our guide gave us the opportunitys to either climb up that baby mountain or to relax at the beach and go swimming….the weather / the rain did make the decision for us….99% of our group did climb up. And from the top of the hill you could see some of those many other boats ;-)]

IMG_8118IMG_8121IMG_8124IMG_8137

Vor dem gemeinsamen Abendessen noch eine kurze Lektion im vietnamesischen Rollen – Zubereitung einer Vorspeise.

[A short introduction into the vietnamese rolling – preparing an appetizer – before dinner.]

IMG_8187

Wie schon anfangs erwähnt waren wir zeitlich ein wenig in der Bredouille. Doch keiner von unserer Gruppe wollte weder auf die Runde Kanufahren noch auf den besuch der Austernfarm verzichten. So wurde einstimmig nach dem Abendessen entschieden, am nächsten Tag sehr früh aufzustehen, um noch beides im Zeitplan unterzubringen. Und as Paddeln war traumhaft schön!

[As I mentioned already th the beginning our boat was quite late in time. But none of our tour group would have liked to miss out the canoeing or the visit of the oyster farm. So it was an unanimous vote to get up very early the next morning so that we would be able to do both of these action points before riding back. And it was totally worth it!]

IMG_8190IMG_8194IMG_819720150317_072900

IMG_8347IMG_8324IMG_8328IMG_8326IMG_8343

Bereits auf dem Rückweg….ein letzter Zwischenstop und dann ab zurück nach Hanoi.

[On our way back. One last stop over and then back to Hanoi.]

IMG_8363IMG_8376

Fazit: Vielleicht war es die Tatsache, daß unser Boot vermutlich 1-2 Klassen unter dem war, was Einige von uns bezahlt hatten – inklusive mir -; es stellte sich nämlich heraus, daß wir unterschiedliche Preise zahlten. Und eventuell war es auch das dauerhaft neblige und regenerische Wetter; daß die Halong-Bucht-Tour von mir nicht als besonderes Highlight bewertet wird. Doch da ich später von anderen reisenden hörte daß Sie eine Tour mit 2 Übernachtungen buchten, wovon eine in einem Resort auf einer schönen Insel war, sie ein super Schiff hatten und auch Sonne, ist es jedenfalls legitim, daß die Halong-Bucht auf jeden Fall mit auf die To Do-Liste eines Vietnam-Touristen gehört; man sollte sich nur bewußt sein, was auf einen zukommen kann. Aufgrund der negativen Erfahrung mit der anderen Bootsklasse erhielt ich später über das Hotel 50% zurückerstattet, was dann letzendlich mehr als in Ordnung war. Denn der Tourguide war sehr bemüht und wir hatten eine wirklich super nette bunt gemischte internationale Truppe an Bord. Ein letzter Tipp: Buchen über einen renomierten Anbieter (bspw. Vietnam Awesome Travel) und lieber ein paar Dollar mehr bezahlen, und dafür eine tolle Erfahrung haben.

[Conclusion:  Maybe due to the fact that I got another boat class as I initially booked and also the spooky and rainy weather did lead to the point that for me the Halong Bay was not a special highlight of my trip. As I also heard from other travellers later on that they booked a 3 days tour and had a great boat and good weather, so experiences can’t be any more different. After raising a claim on the tour my hotel later on refunded me 50% of the prize I paid for the tour so in the end all was on a more than fair value. Our our guide was okay. And especially the international and nice mix of our group was a definite plus.  My final advise: Book over a licensed operator (such as Vietnam Awesome Travel) and invest a few bucks more to a higher class boat and have a wonderful experience.

Eine weitere Weltreise…