Latest posts from our trip around the world

RTW trip conclusions

The most important lessons from our rtw trip

Movies always finish with some kind of happy milestone, like a romantic wedding or the good news that the Earth has been saved by the chosen superhero, but real life - unlike movies - never freezes at this vague "ever after". And that's how I feel about the end of our rtw trip. It's been wonderful and wonderfully long, but since life doesn't stop like a movie we naturally entered the new period of our lives which will be dedicated to creating a lifestyle of our dreams...  [Read more]

Belarus birds

Belarus - the second unexpected detour from our rtw route, a wonderful month in the life of Atuk, and frustrating paperwork

While all roads lead to Rome, our rtw itinerary in some invisible dimension seems to be magnetized to my home country Belarus. And while it's always great to see my family, I wish there was at least one time that I was going to visit them without having to arrange some documents. Just like the first time during this rtw trip...  [Read more]

Santa Marianita

How an Ecuadorian pickpocket put a sudden end to our rtw trip

One of the most important things we learnt on this rtw trip is that it's worthwhile to always at least try to maintain a philosophical attitude to life no matter what happens to us, irregardless of whether it looks good or bad, because such good/bad labels are only the result of how near-sighted we can be in seeing our real destiny. In short, the universe knows best, so it's best not to argue with it...  [Read more]

Season's Greetings 2013

Season's Greetings for 2013

And once again - for the third time during this rtw trip - we are greeting the new year. The spirit of celebration goes perfectly well with all the daunting prophecies of Armageddon, as seeing the bigger picture of life always makes the human-being appreciate the little things it's made of. So amid all of these disturbing predictions...  [Read more]

Ecuador part II

Ecuador - cloud forests, volcanoes and colonial cities, part II

The next day we left Mindo very early in order to arrive by midday in Otavalo, after an unwelcome but inevitable transfer in Quito. We arrived in Quito at about 9am but had a half-expected surprise - due to a national holiday the bus terminal was packed with locals heading for all sorts of destinations to benefit from a long weekend. Naturally, with shopping being one of the most favourite local "fiesta" pastimes, Otavalo was the top weekend destination...  [Read more]

Ecuador part I

Ecuador - cloud forests, volcanoes and colonial cities, part I

Having got our puppy just a few days before leaving Peru for Ecuador, we were still in a state of figuring out the most optimized routine for travelling with this little creature. Like all puppies, he needed his regular meals, naps, walks and play sessions, all of which had to fit into the travelling routine, so our task was to combine the two routines - puppy and travel - into a manageable process. In the first week we still didn't know exactly how it all would go, so we made some blunders from time to time...  [Read more]


Atuk - our new travel companion, or how we got a puppy in Peru during our rtw trip

We have big news and even bigger news. We'll postpone revealing the bigger news till later and the big news is that WE GOT A DOG! We've already written about the heartbreaking parting with the sweet puppy in Peru, and how we were torn whether to keep it or not. But since the universe sent us a huge sign in the form of a wonderful girl who volunteered to adopt the puppy, we felt it belonged with her. However, the couple of weeks we spent with that dog, keeping it in the roof of our hotel and taking it to various places like eateries and markets, opened our eyes to the fact that travelling with a pet was possible...  [Read more]

Peru jungle

Peru - the Amazon jungle tour

While an internal flight would have been a much faster option for about the same money, ever since watching the "Motorcycle Diaries" we've wanted to experience a journey through the Amazon on board of one of those big old ferries where you can pass a few days peacefully swinging in your hammock and looking at the muddy river and the endless jungle along its shores. The overland itinerary to get from Trujillo to Iquitos (our destination in the Amazon region) is pretty long...  [Read more]

Peru treks

Peru - Salkantay and Santa Cruz treks

This post is dedicated to two of the most popular treks in Peru - Salkantay (an alternative to the overpriced Inca Trail) and Santa Cruz (a gorgeous range in the Cordillera Blanca). We trekked both trails independently (as we always do)...  [Read more]


Peru - Inca ruins, mountains, the Amazon jungle and foreigner discrimination

Like I mentioned in the previous post, the first two weeks we spent in Peru were dedicated mostly to rehabilitating a puppy with a broken paw we found in Arequipa. During that time we made two short trips (to Cobanaconda and Puno) and the normal travelling routine started only after the puppy's paw healed and it was adopted by a wonderful Peruvian family. This post is about the cities and natural, cultural and historical wonders we visited in Peru.  [Read more]

Street puppy

Two weeks in the life of a street puppy

When it was about one month old it was separated from the mum and put in a cage with the rest of the brothers and sisters. From its cage it could smell and see other weird creatures in the neighbouring cages (it wouldn't be able to name them but we know that they were guinea pigs, rabbits, chicken, ducklings, kittens etc.). Everyday a lot of people would pass by the cage, pat it on the head, some would even hold and stroke it (that felt good!). Many days passed...  [Read more]


Chile - mountains, hitchhiking, coastal desert cities and pelicans

Chile greeted us by a spectacular snowfall with huge snowflakes swirling around the giant shrubs with fancy "haircuts" (a signature plant of Punta Arenas) and roads so icy we had to be careful with every step. Punta Arenas was a sweet little town and we saw almost the whole of it just looking for a hotel...  [Read more]


Argentina - amazing animals, glaciers and strikes

Places we travelled in Argentina: Buenos Aires, Mendoza vineyards, Bariloche lake views, whales and sealions in Puerto Madryn, all roads leading to Rio Gallegos, and Glacier Perito Moreno in El Calafate. Things we observed about this country: Evita, "Las Malvinas son Argentinas", mate, fine-dining, queues, dog-lovers, tango, Chinese supermarkets, per-kilo prices, absence of change money to pay the bus, strikes a-la Argentina and more...  [Read more]


The quiet and simple beauty of Paraguay

Very few travellers come to Paraguay and, reciprocating this attitude, Paraguay doesn't expect any travellers. (So far it's been the only country where we couldn't find a single postcard so had to make one). That's because it's not a country of stunning landscapes and striking culture: the lush but monotonous green pastures could be the foreground to dramatic mountains but in Paraguay are the essence of the scenery, and hedonistic consumption ("bread and circuses") is the axis of this heavily americanized culture...  [Read more]


Bolivia - amazing landscapes and proud mountain folk, part III (Oruro, La Paz, Lake Titicaca, Tiwanaku, El Choro and Huayna Potosi)

Our last couple of weeks in Bolivia - a quick stop in Oruro, a much longer one in La Paz, a day trek through Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca - the birthplace of Inca civilization, a trip to the ruins of Tiwanaku - the epicentre of a much older civilization, a 3-day El Choro trek in the Andes and an unforgettable climb to the 6088m summit of Huayna Potosi...  [Read more]


Bolivia - amazing landscapes and proud mountain folk, part II (Tupiza and Uyuni)

With another month at our disposal, we could continue the planned route. Our next stop was in Tupiza - a much more arid region of Bolivia on the border with Argentina, which is pitched by LP as a place where you just want to jump into the saddle and ride your horse through the bright red canyons and dry mountain valleys. What we felt like doing was definitely not joining all the tourists in their horse-riding spree...  [Read more]


Bolivia - amazing landscapes and proud mountain folk, part I (Arroyo Concepcion, Perto Suarez, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Sucre, Potosi and Tarija)

Chronicles of our first month in Bolivia - illegal one-day immigration at Arroyo Concepcion, learning the sad story of the Bolivian Pantanal in Puerto Suarez, International Baroque music festival at the Jesuitic mission of San Jose de Chiquitos, buzy Santa Cruz, white-washed Sucre and colourful Tarabuco, miner's dream according to the Potosi miners, trekking the inca trails in the mountains around Tarija and the vicissitudes of a Bolivian visa extension.  [Read more]

RTW route

Our route around the world and in all the countries

We created the maps of the countries we travelled during this rtw trip and our routes in every one of them. It's often challenging to decide which places to include in the 1-month itinerary, especially for the really big countries. Here you can see the choices we made...  [Check the routes]


Brazil - legendary cities, incredible nature and horrible food

With 26 empty visa pages in my new passport, we were ready to travel South and Central America. Compared to Asia where we spent almost 2 years, this will be a much shorter trip - at most 6 months. The first things we had to do on disembarking our super comfortable TAM plane was put our jackets back into the bags (as the autumn in Brazil felt warmer than the spring in Belarus), change some money and take a bus to Botafogo - the area of Rio where we booked our dorm beds in the Rio Nature Hostel. Now there are legendary cities in this world - simple hearing of their name will stir some kind of emotion in almost everybody...  [Read more]


Belarus - Easter buns and bureaucrats

"Where are you from?" - "I am from Belarus". - "Where? Belgium? Brazil?" These are the most typical comments I get from people when I tell them where I am from. They tend to think I pronounced it wrong and keep trying to give me suggestions of all the countries they know that start with a "b". I surrender and say "Byelorussia" instead of "Belarus". This always results in the inevitable "Ahh, Russia". Only a few people so far have surprised me with having heard of or even been to Belarus, a country which is not an administrative part or even autonomous region of Russia, but an independent state...  [Read more]


Chernobyl - thoughts and facts

Chernobyl used to be the name of a city in Ukraine on the border with Belarus - now it's a name of the most horrifying nuclear disaster the human race has ever known. It entered the lives of Ukranian and Belarusian people on a peaceful sunny April day, right around Easter and before the May 1st yearly parade. Because the Soviet government wouldn't admit to the degree of the disaster and therefore wouldn't even broadcast that it happened until 2 days after the explosion (with a 20 second TV announcement), people didn't take a single prevention measure against radiation exposure to lessen the degree of impact...  [Read more]


Kiev - walking tour and practical tips

During our stay in Belarus we took a 4-day trip to Kiev. I've always loved this city and at some stage even lived there for a couple of months. It definitely has a very special look compared to any ex-Soviet capital, first, due to the distinctive charm all the hilly cities on a river bank have and second, because it doesn't look Soviet. Although the best time to visit Kiev is definitely summer, April is not so bad either, mainly because it's so much easier to rent a flat (the best and cheapest accommodation option in any ex-Soviet capital)...  [Read more]

China IV

Last months in China - living, travelling and applying for visas

This post is a really hurried update about the last three out of the six months we spent in China. Time flew, but in a good direction: we learnt enough kungfu forms to be able to continue independent practice, grew quite comfortable with Chinese (can have various dialogues, and even started reading books with a dictionary and watching movies). In fact, this half a year in China gave us so much inspiration for learning that we added even more things into our happy routine, for instance doing splits and playing erhu (two-stringed Chinese violin)...  [Read more]

kungfu videos

Videos of kungfu forms we learnt at Ren Gongfu in China

This is a video post of forms we learnt from our Master Ren Qiang during our stay in China. The forms might look like a weird dance but in reality consist of multiple combat movements combined into sequences for training purposes. Each of the movements inside the forms can have several combat applications which are studied as part of the form learning process, are perfected through regular form practice (fighting an imaginary opponent) and at a later stage through sparring (with a real opponent)...  [Watch the videos]

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year - a brief instruction manual to greeting it

First of all, if you are picturing dragons and lions marching through the streets at the energetic rhythm of drums and cymbals, the whole city drowning in red, delicious smells, deafening sounds and happy vibrations, your picture of the Chinese New Year is probably based on same movies as mine :-) The truth is, in a small provincial city of China and the rural area around it, at the time around the Chinese New Year it feels even quieter than usual, there are no spectacular public processions and all the delicious smells are confined to the borders of people's apartments... [Read more]

South Korea

South Korea - temples, love motels, snow and gimbap

Things we did: staying at love motels, couchsurfing, eating a lot of gimbap, drinking a lot of coffees from FamilyMarts, visiting temples, markets, saw lots and lots of snow, beautiful mountains of Seoraksan National park, Tripitaka Koreana, singing karaoke, taking pictures of seagulls at Haeundae beach in Busan, night ride around Seoul, waiting for the plane at a Korean sauna and more. Things we learnt about South Korea: people's loyalty to traditions combined with highly progressive lifestyle, the relationship of cross-legged sitting and taekwondo kicks, Pentagon channel for American soldiers and more... [Read more]


Season's Greetings from China

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year - С Рождеством и Новым Годом! - Bon Nadal i Bon Any Nou! - Prettige Kerstdagen en Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! - 圣诞节快乐! Whether you celebrate Western or Eastern Christmas, New Year according to Gregorian or Julian calendar or both, Three Kings, Sinterklaas, Hanukkah, Boxing Day, Epiphany, Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa or some other winter festival that's missing in this list, we wish you a lot of fun during all the celebrations and all the best for the 2012 year!.. [Read more]


Living in China - part II: apples, visas, mountains, cooking and more

We are in Korea now and just a short stretch of the Yellow Sea away from Qingdao in China. Time in China has passed really fast. It always does when you are happy. Now we are back to travelling and again each day is different, so a month accomodates so many unique experiences, it's like a short lifetime. China has been our first real stretch of settled life since May 2010, in the sense that we got our own place, made our own food and our alarm would go off at 6 am. I must admit, in the three months that we lived there we did grow a few roots. Oh, the sweet charm of routine living after months and months on the road :-)!.. [Read more]


Why we decided to learn kungfu

Why do people count the span of a lifetime in years, and not in days? Wouldn't we be more aware of the value of a day if we knew we had only, let's say, 30000 days - in this specific lifetime - to accomplish whatever it is we are meant to accomplish or to at least figure out that life does have a meaning?.. One thing that a long trip makes you realize is that every day counts. Now that we've been travelling for over a year, we realized that we remember every day of the trip, very much unlike back home when we could sweep through the entire year with general descriptions of what we'd been doing and only a few real highlights... [Read more]

VIDEOS: Taiji Single Sword and Taiji Meihua Praying Mantis


Living in China - first steps and first impressions

This post is about things that happened and things we learnt about China since we arrived in this country. Things that happened include: police welcome, hutong, kungfu, kids, eating, moving and my birthday. Things we learnt are about: one-child policy, fireworks, internet, information, fixing stuff, driving, TV, social activities, family, calenders, laundry, music stuff, chinese tones, white weddings, shower, chocolate, horoscope, confucianist respect, prices and hospitality... [Read more]

money, money, money

How much does it cost to travel Asia for an extended period of time?

Money, money, money... this post is all about it. Here we summarized all our travel expenses for the period from May 2010 till September 2011. The dry statistics is followed by an explanation of our travel philosophy and the tables with the actual numbers... [Read more]

Vipassana course in Malaysia

10-day Vipassana course in Gambang, Malaysia

Here is a quick update on what's been happening in the last month. After Thailand we spent a week in our beloved KL, in the same hotel and same room that we always book here. Funnily enough, after so many times every arrival in KL gives us a feeling that's very similar to the one which you experience on coming home after a vacation, but of course a much subtler shade of it :-). In KL there was as always more Chinese and a little bit more work on some projects. Soon it was time to leave for our real destination in Malaysia - the picturesque location of the Vipassana retreat in Gambang... [Read more]

Vipassana and Matrix

Vipassana - welcome to the real world

Vipassana is "insight into the true nature of things". (Remember: "Do not try to bend the spoon — that's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth: there is no spoon.") Most realizations that you acquire as you keep practising Vipassana are of precisely this nature: there is no spoon, as matter is just extremely high vibrations, but our minds have never been trained to a degree (or vibrational range) necessary to experience it... [Read more]


A taste of "island life" in Koh Tao, Thailand

Dreams do come true. I remember before this trip we had a bit of a dilemma: I wanted to go live in China for a while and travel, and Jordi wanted to travel. Since it was two of us 'pro' and nobody really 'con', traveling it was. As it turns out, it was only an illusion that we had to choose. We visited China in the very beginning of our trip and left it with a feeling that it would be great to go back and finally get behind the facade exposed to tourists. That feeling kept lingering on in our subconscious mind, until we started talking about it and gradually shaped it into a plan... [Read more]


Our Chinese week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and why the China town of KL is the best place in the world to study Chinese

I remember that when we were leaving for this trip, every time we were asked how long we were planning to travel for, we would give a vague answer in the style "one year, maybe a little more, or as long as the money lasts"... Well, it turns out money is lasting surprisingly well so far, probably because Asia turned out to be as cheap as we expected it to be, but also because of AirAsia and our doing it wherever and whenever possible "the local way"... [Read more]


Philippines - beach paradise and how we almost sank in a kayak

Philippines appeared on our itinerary somewhat mysteriously, in the sense that I wouldn't be able to tell when we first thought about going there and when we finally decided to, but at some stage we just bought the cheapest AirAsia combination and went there without any particular expectations. What we found in this country was quite in line with what we had heard (that people are nice, the beach is beautiful and it's not expensive) but even better. People were great, the beach was in the style "postcards come to life" and money-wise it was fine. One thing that can illustrate what Philippines is about is this poster we saw... [Read more]


Indonesia - volcanoes, nicotine and surf

As we stepped out of Medan airport and started walking towards the city centre, we couldn't help thinking that quite contrary to our expectations Indonesia at the very first glance gave us a very peaceful feeling. Curiously this feeling never left during the next month and we felt exactly the same way in every single place we visited in Indonesia, including its two Javanese capitals – Jakarta and Jogjakarta, both labelled by LP as "chaotic, busy, congested" etc. etc. Yes, there was all the traffic, and the fumes, and the busy look, but somehow the vibe of all the cities we visited was very peaceful, as if the whole country had some kind of happy quiet heartbeat beneath the surface of all the usual city action... [Read more]


Vietnam - rain, family and hats

Vietnam for us was really special but not because of the country – it was because of the family. After almost a year of traveling we were able to spend almost a month with Jordi's father Jaume and his life partner Antonia, and Jordi's brother Albert. With Hanoi as the meeting point, we all planned our individual itineraries up till there: Jaume and Antonia came to Vietnam all the way from Viladecavalls in Spain, Albert - from Hoi An in Vietnam and we – from the rainy Phonsavan in the neighbouring Laos. (With Internet and mobile phones what would have been an incredible logistics feat a decade ago required no more planning effort than getting together for a family dinner :)... [Read more]