If you want to emerge a whole lot smarter after a tour in Iceland, here’s a good recipe:
1.) Grab a geologist (or better yet, a glaciologist!).
2.) Make him show you around.
Luckily, we stumbled onto GeoIceland Tours, ran by the very witty Javier — a glaciologist-turned-land-surveyor, who eventually found himself creating his own tour-guide business. From the moment we set off from Reykjavik until he dropped us back home, he rattled on facts one after the other — not just about geology, but also about history, folklore and everyday Icelandic life. There was no lull nor dull moment, I kid you not.
I stare hard at the long wall of loose gravel, then shoot a look at our guide, waiting for him to say that he was just kidding and that this isn’t a part of the trail. Except that he wasn’t. And yes, this is the trail. A light kick sends a rain of pebbles tumbling down. Yup, that’s a long slide from here.
Geirmundur, our guide, patiently holds my hand as I shuffle slowly sideways, facing the wall. Deep breath, baby-step. No, don’t look down. Deep breath, baby-step. All my wits are funneled into this delicate dance, until we finally make it to solid soil after what seemed like forever. Lucky me, I live another day! And this was only Day 1.
How Taiwan isn’t rolling off everyone’s tongues when they speak of adventure trips in Asia is a bit baffling. In the brief time I’ve spent overall in this country, I’ve seen stunning landscapes, met inspiring people, and took part in memorable traditions. Hualien County, around 2-3 hours by train from urban Taipei, is one of such little-known places, but one I would urge all my friends to see. Continue reading Wow, Hualien!→
I haven’t actually started on the proper track yet, and I’m already lost. I backtracked to the last sign I chanced upon for the Ben Lomond trail, and saw the shaded path that I’ve missed. The thick canopy of bare-leafed pines looked ominous, as if I were Little Red Riding Hood who should have known better than to wander alone.
Out of the blue, the trail suddenly opened up to a great vastness of sky, sunshine and meadows. The green horizon met the wild blue yonder of the heavens for almost the whole trail. On every spot you stood upon, you can freely admire the range of the Remarkables, glimpse upon the near green and yellow rows of trees, smile at the intense blue-green of Lake Wakatipu. Continue reading Meeting Ben Lomond→
The trip up Europe’s highest railway wasn’t originally in the itinerary, but I took the very pleasant weather as a push from fate. Launching myself into a fury, I cancelled and made last-minute bookings left and right. It almost looked like it wasn’t happening, but then at last, the day trip to Jungfraujoch was a go, and the sights were worth every bit of the trouble.
Word on the backpacker’s grapevine says that Batad is one of those rare glimpses of heaven on earth. A village that used to be a well-kept secret, Batad is neatly tucked away, almost in the shadow of Banaue, its more-familiar neighbor. A few souls have dared call it as the 8th Wonder of the World, but seriously, the title has been thrown around so often, that we can probably come up with a Top 7 ‘8th Wonders of the World’ list.