Trip Start Mar 01, 2006
551Trip End Dec 01, 2007
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Encounters form the heart of travel, and knowing who we are and who whe are linked to forms the backbone for these encounters.
Some I bring in my mind and carry in my heart, for they give me inspiration and insight:
- My familly: mum, brothers, dad, and grand parents who are with me all along.
- The participants to the chaotic goodbye weekend in Pau: I won't put names or stories here, hehehe...
- In Faye: Jacques, Vero, Gaby, Guillaume, Claude, plus all the horses, cats, dogs, snails, fleas, and many others
- In Paris... a preparatory RTW with Marco, and then Yannick, Marie, Laurence, Yoyo and Sophie, Elsa, Guillaume and Chino, Anais and Nico, for my last day in Paris
Others I will meet on the move, sharing discovery, friendship, adventure
I owe to Mark, my provodnik between Tayshet and Zima, for getting me back into my train after 400km partying out of it. Thank you Sucha for being there and speaking russian and a little bit of english, otherwise I would have been helplessly lost in siberia !!!
- In my preparation for horse-treking in Mongolia, I went with stepperiders.com.
It is run by Mendee(Mongolian) and Jennie (British), and they aim at proposing fair price horse treks to independant travellers. Jennie gave me information on mongolian horseriding, horseriding equipment, behaviour in the mongolian countryside, and much more. Thanks also to Ulzii for showing me how to handle the horses, and to Toloo for driving me from and back to UB.
Check out www.stepperiders.com
- When it came to finding a horse to buy... after an unsuccessful (but time costly) try, I turned to Pujee at the Crown Cafe in Kharkorin... and he was the man, simply because in addition to his skills, to his knowledge of both western and Mongolian cultures, to his being in the horse business, he is one of the kindest persons I came to meet, in the country of the kindest People I came to know.
- I met Pujee through Xavier, who answered all my questions on horse travel and helped to
choose the horses, before himself leaving for his third solo horseriding journey in Mongolia. Xavier has a truly inspiring way of telling you about his experiences, which he does on demand an until your curiosity is satisfied.
- For this independant horsetrip, I paired up with Amandine, who had had the same idea as me in mind, but without a plan to achieve it. I helped her get ready, we set off together after having bought a horse each, and we completed our objective: coming back in one piece with a unique experience... which I intend to renew as soon as possible!
- In addition to the vast landscapes and unfenced grasslands that I had been looking for in
Mongolia, the encounter with the nomads is in itself a reason to go, to be, and to go back again to Mongolia.
- Last but not least, I owe to my horse a few hundred kilometers in the Orkhon valley, a few escapes a night, lots of shouting, and a sore ass... Or maybe he owes me all that, poor him! In the end I found it very difficult to get separated from him, as for the whole trip I had to be constantly thiking about one thing: the horse being ok. A bit difficult to explain, but I can try
anytime around a nostalgic beer.
Check out Pujee, Xavier and Olivier: mongolie-horse-trails.com
- In my last week in Mongolia, I hitch-hiked north to Terghin Tsagann Nuur, the Great White Lake. There I was hosted by Badar-Ugan and his familly. I still have to write about that!!!
- On my way back to Ulan Bator, I met Ekhbaatar, who invited me for a delightful dinner at his home, wher we had plenty of time talking about travel, Mongolia, the World, and silversmithing...
- Our unknown host, whose wedding party we attended near Ninh Binh
Thanks to Fred, Isa, Chloe and Lea, who hosted me for a few days in their humble house in Jakarta. I forgot to take pictures while I was there, so they sent me some later... except for Chloe, who as a normal healthy teenager does not like to be photographed by her parents!
I had met Lisa in Sapa, Vietnam... and rendez-vous was taken in Melbourne, her home town. Not only did Lisa invite me to stay at her place (with her roommate Mia), she also took me out in Melbourne and with her friends. Great moments, to be renewed in december!
- Melbourne - Again, sweet moments shared together with Lisa and Mia and their friends, which by that time also included a couple of mine: the infamous brits Sam and Tomo
- Sydney - As I had sent my seasons greetings email to everyone, I got an answer from Cameron, who I had met in Vietnam too. He was supposed to be travelling in Europe and possibly visiting my brothers, but in fact he was back for work in his hometown of Sydney: He showed me around, and being driven around a city by a local architect is a very interesting and pleasant experience. He also took me out for a half day sailing on his familly boat, that was the cherry on the cake as we say.
- I was also invited to meet distant relatives of my familly in Melbourne, it was a pleasant afternoon with Eric, Kim and Joel and their three kids.
I went to see freshly retired Bob and Freda, who are relatives of my grandparents, in Auckland. They hosted me and proved me that New Zealand was a very eligible place to stay foodwise (for the wine we knew already). I had lots of kind attention, and they helped me retrieve my Xmas parcel (sent by my Mum)
Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Thanks to Maria for hosting me, and taking me out with her friends
- Thanks also to the staff at the HispanAires school, and especially Sofia who invited all the student to her birthday party!
April - May 2007
Plaza Huincul - Thanks to Laura and her mum Lalig for hosting me (and spanish Jessica was there too), taking me to see the dinosaurs, to a wedding and a birthday party, to a huge asado with horseriding day, out to the local boliche, and above all for all the good moments
I met Lucas on a trek around Bariloche. Then he invited me and the three other hikers to an asado at his house. And a few days later, he drove me back from Bariloche to Buenos Aires, a ride shared also with black beauty Juana.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
I stayed most of the time with Guada. Thanks for your welcome, the chating, the cooking and wining, a few nights out, and just for being roomates for a while!
- In Santiago I met up again with French Benedicte and Dutch Jessica, met previously on the Island of Chiloe. A goodbye party to meet local students, a few good places to have a drink and a snack, without forgetting the homemade appel pie at Casey's. Thanks for taking me
- I also spent tme with French Marc, met in Puerto Natales. He introduced me to his German friends in Santiago, and we had a couple nice dinners, with a lot of wine. Marc took me horseriding with Nina, who invited me to go again a second time, on the mountains above Santiago.
- Through couchsurfing I ended up staying with American Rachel in La Serena. The weather was shit so I coud not benefit fully from her astronomy knowledge, but we had a great day out in the Pisco Valley. Good food, good wine, and fine discussions, thanks for all!
I was supposed to stay a month... it turned into 2, and I had to force myself out of the country! What happened? I was sent to meet Roberto, while I was already falling in love with the country... So I stayed with Roberto, Carmena and Wayra....
And then we met Carmena's brother El Nino and their cousin Johny... Off we went on the goldidgger's trail in the Yungas, where we stayed with their familly, visited the gold mining cooperatives...
And off to Santa Ana, in the Alto Beni, to visit the Mosetenes community. I was there with Riccardo and Marco, from the NGO MLAL
Later, I stayed more in Cochambamba with Roberto and his familly, and once they left on holiday (to Santa Ana), they dropped me at Riccardo's house... There I spent another 2 weeks.
Canīt summarize these encounters, they are just deeply rooted in my heart
I had contacted Mauricio via couchsurfing... I went to his house with Amit, Mauricio and his familly received us in their apartment. We shared the cooking and the food and the views, it was good to meet them!
After the Galapagos trip we went back there as well, but then we missed the opportunity to travel together... next time, I hope!
In Puerto Ayora, Galapagos, our naturalist guide, Juan, gave us the keys of his house while he was working on another cruise... I stayed there a few days for diving.
I had figured out that I should try see if my couchsurfing profile was attractive enough for unsuspecting young women to host me... Christina, in Quito, fell for the comment left by Mauricio: "he will prepare you mousse au chocolat".
Christina hosted me much longer than planned in her appartment, where I had the pleasure of meeting also Ethan from US and Kirsten from Germany, the three of them carrying out medical studies.