Recent Trips & Posts

Great Walks of New Zealand: the Greatest Three, Routeburn, Kepler and Milford

Sep 2023

I spent the better part of March (2023) hiking in New Zealand. In addition to some day hikes, I did three of the famous Great Walks of New Zealand - namely Kepler, Routeburn and Milford Tracks. The experience has definitely exceeded my expectations.

Kepler Track of New Zealand: a Walk in the Clouds

Apr 2023

I arrived in Queenstown on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, I did not have anytime to enjoy the town. In all honesty, the town itself is not particularly special but the surrounding scenery dominated by the Remarkables Mountain Range is the dictionary definition of a picture perfect scenery. I had to do food shopping for the Kepler Track, which is located in South Island of New Zealand and considered to be one of the best Great Walks of New Zealand.

Laos: Where the Wild Things Are

Dec 2022

I remember flying from Luang Namtha in Northern Laos to Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, during a work trip in 2020. It was my second trip to the country. Our time in Luang Namtha was limited but still filled with several opportunities to introduce us to the landscape beauty of the region.

Man pouring tea in a tea house in Nakasendo Japan

Travel movies have always been a great source for me both for my travels and my music preferences. Here is a list including some of the travel movies that I watch either when I am not on the road as much as I would like to be or to get myself in the mood before an upcoming trip. Read more.

Svalbard - End of the World

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Svalbard is among the northernmost settlements in the World – it is closer to the North Pole than it is to Norway. Diary of my trip to this isolated island during the 24 hours day light time. Read more.

New Orleans: City of Ghosts and Jazz

Bus in the background of oak alley in Oak Alley Plantation

Notes from my second visit to one of the most remarkable cities in the USA – “This is my second visit to New Orleans. My first trip was barely enough to introduce me to the better known side of New Orleans – the fun party town. I am this time determined to go deeper and dig into the history of this remarkable city.” Read more.

Kerama Blue - Tokashiki & Zamami

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My first encounter with Tokashiki and Zamami Islands dates back to September 2018. I was traveling in Southeast Asia with no definite plans but soon running out of my visa time in Thailand. I found a cheap ticket to Naha, Okinawa from Bangkok (overnight flight for USD 150) and decided to make the island my entry point to Japan for a three months long trip. Read more.

Shirakawa-Go

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Travel notes from a winter trip to Shirakawa-go for the winter illumination – “I sure got excited about the illumination event but soon faced the ugly truth – the tickets for the event were long sold out. You actually do not need a ticket for the entrance to the town but you have to arrange a tour bus unless you have a car. Shirakawa-go is about an hour drive from Takayama and there is no rail link between the two towns. I read that people would travel from every part of Japan only for this event and the tickets launched by the tour companies in October were purchased within minutes, if not seconds”. Read more.

Lofoten Islands Winter Diaries

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My diary of a week long winter trip to Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway. While it has been growing over the years in terms of popularity, it still remains one of the most stimulating nature destinations in the World where the fishing village culture merges with wild mountain landscapes. Read more.

Hokkaido Dreams

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Hokkaido – together with Iceland – is among the most peaceful places I have ever been to in my life. The story of a night at a yakitori place – “I should note that this post is entirely inspired by a new show that I just watched on Netflix – the Samurai Gourmet. The show, which is just recently launched by Netflix, is adopted from a manga and depicts the story of a 60 years old Japanese men Takeshi Kasumi, who has recently retired from his daily job”. Read more.

Nepal

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My notes from a week long trip to Nepal. Land of many gods and kind people – “For me Nepal was many things, a country of spirituality, a country of kids knowing how to genuinely smile, a country where death is worked with such subtlety into the real life and celebrated, a country where the religious tolerance truly exists but more importantly, Nepal was a country full of sorrow for me.” Read more.

Milford Track of New Zealand

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When a hike is as popular as Milford Track and promoted as “the finest walk in the world”, there is always the inevitable question: “is it overrated?”. For me, the answer is a definite no. The four days long trail is worth every praise. Read more.

Thailand

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An early post from Thai islands, a country where I was fortunate to spend months at a later date. It is addictive – not only with its cuisine but the easiness that it has into it – “Like many other island-goers, I first flew into Bangkok and spent around 1,5 days there. Bangkok is an exciting city which combines modernity with that chaotic feeling that you experience in number of other Asian cities as well.” Read more.

Sofitel Legend Hotel in Hanoi Vietnam

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Sofitel Legend Hotel in Hanoi is a hotel with a story – home to a bomb shelter from the American War, which inspired a Joan Baez song. Notes from a short stay – “There is a bomb shelter under the hotel facilities which was used during the Vietnam war and which can now be visited with an appointment. The song “where are you now my son?” by Joan Baez was inspired from her stay at this hotel during the Christmas bombings in Vietnam in 1972. The shelter has been discovered fairly recently in 2011 and has been open to the visitors since 2012.” Read more.

Secret Garden in Yangshuo - China

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Secret Garden in Yangshuo China will give you easier access to the rural wonders of the region than a stay in the town of Yangshuo. Read more.

Women in onsen in Japan

Aoni Onsen in Aomori is a great fall destination especially for solo travelers. They are one of the rare onsen ryokans in Japan who accept a single room booking without charging your for double room. Read more.

Nikko - Hiking Heaven Near Tokyo

Nikko

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I sometimes dream about moving to Nikko so I can be closer to the national park and its wonderful hiking trails. Read more.

Lake Towada and Oirase Stream

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Visiting Lake Towada has been on my list for some time as a fall outing but it was not until this year that I found the opportunity by timing it relatively right. Timing your trip for the peak fall colors is usually a difficult task. Read more.

Enoura Observatory

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Are you familiar with the work of Japanese photographer and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto? If your answer is yes and – obviously – if you enjoy his work, you will love Enoura Observatory. As one of the web reviewers noted, the observatory gives you the feeling of walking inside a Hiroshi Sugimoto photograph. It feels like the boundary between the light and architecture blurs creating almost another dimension. Read more.

Nakahechi Route of Kumano Kodo

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My journey in Kii Peninsula goes back to four days earlier before I arrive at Joki-in in Koyasan and starts at the western leg of Kumano Kodo, the pilgrimage route with a known history of at least 1000 years. I want to at least partially experience the routes walked by pilgrims back in the day under substantially more severe conditions before deserving my stay in Koyasan. Read more.

Iseji Route of Kumano Kodo

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Iseji Route, also known as the Eastern Route or the route for the ordinary people in the olden days (to separate it from the Imperial Route – Nakahechi) starts at Ise-shi and goes all the way down to Shingu – it is a 170km long stretch where you are never too far off from the sea even though you do not get to see it for most part of the trail, which mostly takes you through forests. Read more.

Books About Japan

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Japan is no doubt culturally one of the most fascinating countries but it can be very challenging to get a deeper understanding of its culture and traditions if you have no Japanese skills. During my travels to Japan before making it my permanent home, books about Japan also helped me a lot not only to enjoy my visits even more but also to partially overcome language related challenges and dive a little bit deeper into the Japanese culture. So I thought that it may be a good idea to list some of the books about Japan (or taking place in Japan) that helped me to better understand Japan. Read more.