Tag Archives: Travel

What are your travel plans?

For the first time in years it is January and I have no idea, where I will spend my vacation. Maybe it is time to start planning? Do you already know, where you plan to go? I hope it will be a dream location and a dream vacation!

when planning vacation there is of course always the question whether I would like to revisit a place I have been already or venture into a new place. For a photographer, it is at least an easy thing to decide where we would like to be once again. After all, we have our vast photo library and it is of course well organized. So is yours, isn’t it? (If not, why not spend a few rainy days doing that?)

Maybe a short trip to Provence, France? It is a lovely place, very mediterranean, sunny, friendly people, good food and as you can see in the photo, also very nice to take pictures. Or maybe a bit further south, to the Isle of Corsica? It has been a while since I’ve been there.

There won’t be a big motorbike tour with my buddies this year, as I simply don’t have the time to go with them on the tour they will be doing. Island… It is for sure a place on my travel list, but I just can’t afford to take three weeks in a row this year. Too bad. But there will be other occasions.

So it will be Europe, that much is sure. And as the weather is quite miserable lately, it will most likely be a place in the sun 🙂

But enough about my plans. What are yours? Anybody having inspiring ideas, maybe coupled with some photos?

It’s time to go south

It’s been a long winter, a winter with a nice amount of snow. And although the days are sunny now, it is still below freezing in the morning and it somehow feels as if Spring is just teasing.

The clouds yesterday promised a change in the weather and I think I’m gonna travel with them. I’ll go south, where the air is warmer, Spring has arrived and people speak french.

I feel like I deserve a nice glass of red wine, some baguette, fine french food and the smells and windy streets of La Provence.

So, stay tuned for a few pictures and impressions of southern France, captured in black and white as you know, 2015 is the year of black and white photography for me 🙂

Lake Zürich, Leica Monochrom, 24mm and red filter
Lake Zürich, Leica Monochrom, 24mm and red filter

Traveling Kyrgyzstan with Muztoo

There is more than one way to travel in a country you don’t know, where you don’t speak the language and can’t even read writings on the walls. You can go on your own and read books, surf the net and spend months preparing it. It’s the way of the real adventurer, the way deserts and the highest mountains have been conquered (well, except consulting Google) and it is probably the most satisfying way to travel, specially if you can spend months traveling.

if you don’t have that much time for preparation or if you don’t feel that adventurous, you can use a local company to organize the travel and hire a guide to show you around. Of course you’re taking a bit a gamble here if you don’t know the company. It might be a total let down or worth every penny.

We decided to make use of a guide and I’m happy to tell that by using Muztoo, we had a great journey. Although there were still some risks, one could get seriously ill or fall off the bike and get hurt seriously, we quickly realized we were in good hands. Let’s call it an adventure with safety net. Sounds decadent, I know, but trust me, if it is the first time you do such a thing and you have to be back home in time, it is probably the wise thing to do.

Muztoo is a Swiss company that is in Kyrgyzstan for many years now, organizing trekking, bike and jeep tours. They handled our trip flawlessly and with Peter we had the best guide one can imagine. They know the country like the back of their hand and are known well beyond the borders of Kyrgyzstan for being the go to company in Kyrgyzstan if you have trouble with your bike or just want to service it on your trip east. And they are incredibly helpful and skilled. For example, when a biker damaged the cooler on his BMW in Mongolia, he was sent to Osh which is a few hundred miles away and told to hook up with Muztoo. He arrived a day before we left and Muztoo got in touch with us, asking if we could organize the spare part and bring it with us and one day later he was in their shop fixing his bike.

So if you ever consider a trip to Kyrgyzstan, I can really recommend Muztoo

let me illustrate what makes a good tour guide 🙂

Meet Peter Scheich, the best guide you can imagine
Meet Peter Scheich, the best guide you can imagine
He knows how to fix a flat tire while being on the road. Having a spare wheel on the jeep of course helps big time too :)
He knows how to fix a flat tire while being on the road. Having a spare wheel on the jeep of course helps big time too 🙂
Dinner
He knows a family that will welcome you with great hospitality, even if you arrive well after night fall.
He knows the one place in the desert where a tree grows that lets you have lunch in the shade
He knows the one place in the desert where a tree grows that lets you have lunch in the shade
He arrives at the right time at a gorgeous spot to make a couple feel like being on their second honeymoon
He arrives at the right time at a gorgeous spot to make a couple feel like being on their second honeymoon
He takes care of little details. Like fresh coffee. Every day. :)
He takes care of little details. Like fresh coffee. Every day. 🙂
He knows how to treat pain. Although I admit it is spooky to have him press a few points on the arm and have the pain in the shoulder vanish...
He knows how to treat pain. Although I admit it is spooky to have him press a few points on the arm and have the pain in the shoulder vanish…

Landscape of Kyrgyzstan

I won’t write much about it. I’m not a poet and therefore, I decided to let the pictures speak. (as always, click on the picture to get it full screen)

Enjoy 🙂

Last Pass. It's with a sad heart we look back at the last mountain pass of the tour we just crossed.
Last Pass.
It’s with a sad heart we look back at the last mountain pass of the tour we just crossed.
Oasis
Oasis
Clouds over Son Kul this lake is probably my favorite spot of the tour.  (Sorry but you can't see the lake in this shot :)
Clouds over Son Kul
this lake is probably my favorite spot of the tour. (Sorry but you can’t see the lake in this shot 🙂
Scars Kyrgyzstan is a place rich of natural resources. And as always, men started to dig up earth and hunt for treasures
Scars
Kyrgyzstan is a place rich of natural resources. And as always, men started to dig up earth and hunt for treasures
Unknown River
Unknown River
Moon over Yssik Kul
Moon over Yssik Kul
Tall mountains We're at 3000m above sea level here on our way to the Tosor Pass.  I don't know how high the mountains are, but definitely higher than 4000m
Tall mountains
We’re at 3000m above sea level here on our way to the Tosor Pass. I don’t know how high the mountains are, but definitely higher than 4000m
Beat me... I again forgot to ask how this place is named...
Beat me… I again forgot to ask how this place is named…

At the bazar

Ah the bazar…

It reminds us of the tales of 1001 nights, a place where you can find wonders like Aladdin’s lamp or a flying carpet, if you only know where to look and are not afraid to barter. People from all over the world, all these colors, the smells – let’s face it, a bazar is simply a wonder of the orient.

Our guide told us that they always take their guest to the bazar twice, once on the first day of the journey and once on the last, as most people are simply overwhelmed with all the impressions. And so we did one visit to have a look, enjoy the sensation and a second one two weeks later for shopping.

Speaking of shopping, the bazar is essentially organized like a mall. You enter at the section with cloths, then comes the shoe section, then everything for the baby, further in the carpenters and then the blacksmith. I guess the biggest difference to a mall is, that there is no air condition 🙂

The moment when Anita discovered that this woman was selling pigments for making colors. Once they were done doing business, there were two very happy women :)
The moment when Anita discovered that this woman was selling pigments for making colors.
Once they were done doing business, there were two very happy women 🙂
The bazar, the place where oriental dreams come true.
The clothing department. The place to get your t-shit, skirt, scarfs and things you didn’t know you had been looking for

Kirgistan Philipp-189

He was having a coffee with his friends and kindly ask to take a picture of him.  Who am I to refuse? (Just a shame I can't send him the picture as i have no clue who he is...
He was having a coffee with his friends and kindly ask to take a picture of him.
Who am I to refuse?
(Just a shame I can’t send him the picture as i have no clue who he is…

Delivery Service. Yes your shopping gets home delivery... if you have time :) Photo by Toni Schnydrig

The Blacksmiths - finally a department for us men :)
The Blacksmiths – finally a department for us men 🙂 It was quite amazing to watch them. Just a few strokes with the hammer… it would have taken me ages to do the same work!
Delivery Service. Yes your shopping gets home delivery... if you have time :) Photo by Toni Schnydrig
Delivery Service. Yes your shopping gets home delivery… if you have time 🙂
Photo by Toni Schnydrig

People of Kyrtyzstan

It’s not only the landscape or food that defines a country. It’s the culture, and for culture you need people. If they are friendly, the country is friendly, if they are busy and cold, you will have a hard time feeling at home.

The people we met in Kyrgyzstan are some of the most friendly, but also proud people I met in a long time. We spent most time on the countryside and it wasn’t uncommon that a farmer, seeing us stop from a distance, got on his horse and came over, just to ask who we are, where we are going, the conversation with our driver and the guide riddled with laughter. It’s not only curiosity that made them come to us, it was also to find out if we need help.

One day we stopped by a little farm only to be welcomed by a bowl with mare milk for each of us and later some fresh cream with bread. But it’s not all nostalgia and horse riding, the farmer showed our guide a video of him self riding a bike and then was given the keys and gave it a spin.

We only wanted to ask for the way... and got treated with mare milk and fresh cream Photo by Toni Schnydrig
We only wanted to ask for the way… and got treated with mare milk and fresh cream
Photo by Toni Schnydrig

There are kids everywhere, and they are, like most kids curious. Unlike children at home, most of them were not shy at all to approach us, specially when they realized our guide was able to chat with them in their language. Although the questions usually were the same, it never got old to watch the scene 🙂

it isn't easy to do street photography when you stick out like a sore thumb :)
it isn’t easy to do street photography when you stick out like a sore thumb 🙂
Seen at Son Kul, a small lake in the heart of Kyrgyzstan.
Seen at Son Kul, a small lake in the heart of Kyrgyzstan.

It might not be a rich country and after the fall of the UDSSR, much went downhill. But talking with them, watching them, I never had the impression they felt like being looked down upon. They were proud we visited their country, open and by all means not shy at all.

I guess it takes years of practice to look up from your work while you continue to hammer the metal without hitting your tumb :)
I guess it takes years of practice to look up from your work while you continue to hammer the metal without hitting your tumb 🙂

Dust of Kyrgyzstan

When we met our guide, he told us on the first day “Kyrgyzstan is quite a dusty place right now. We didn’t have rain for months” We looked around and yes, the cars in the city were a bit dusty but not that much.

The first day we got out of town and on the dirt roads, we understood. Just look at the picture below. It’s not a big truck or the Land Cruiser creating the dust cloud. It’s just a bike.

It's just incredible, how much dust one single motorbike can create!
It’s just incredible, how much dust one single motorbike can create!

Dust was simply everywhere. On the visor of the helmet, camera lenses, cloths, in the mouth, nose, and by the end of the day all over our faces. There simply isn’t a way avoiding it. God was I glad to have decided to take the Olympus EM-5 with a zoom lens with me and not a system where I would have been forced to swap lenses!

But I also discovered that dust is perfect at hiding grey hair. I mean, I haven’t looked this young in years! And aren’t my eyebrows pretty!

Dust, just ideal to cover grey hair
Dust, just ideal to cover grey hair

When covering the road in a 5 cm thick layer, dust however is hell, specially when driving downhill, much worse than sand as it makes you loose grip very easily. A slight bend with the road, banking to the wrong side can be enough to make you kiss the ground, as I learned on the last day of the trip.

And of course it fills the bike’s air filter, reducing the horse power of the YamahaXT even more (it only has about 40 to start with). I was the first one running into the problem and as the problem only occured around 3000m above sea level we were not sure whether I have a problem with the carburator or the filter. And so we removed the filter completly and I had the honor to lead the pack up the pass. Weeeee!!!! 🙂

This pretty much made clear where the problem was. Every other day, we removed the filter and washed it with gazoline and later Diesel, which was actually the better solution (but takes longer for the filter to dry and then built in again).

Lovely routine - cleaning the air filter
Lovely routine – cleaning the air filter

Biggest advantage of the dust you ask? The clogged nose, when you have to visit a toilet 🙂