Back on track.

Time goes fast, our last blog was already from June.

During summer we enjoyed being in the North of the Netherlands. It was really great to be with Lillian sister, Wiranda and Egbert, Nynke & Yenthe. We realised how special it was to be part of their family live. Even do Lillian and Wiranda are sisters, normally we would not be able to see each other’s life this closely. It made our time with them incredible valuable. Morgan played every day with Nynke & Yenthe and it was big fun for them and for us. When Morgan woke up, she went straight outside to play with them on the farm. The last 2 weeks before the summer holiday she was even able to join Yenthe to school and see how life was at school.  After these week’s Morgan told us she realises that she has a very relaxed “school” period with us:-) During the summer months Morgan joined swimming lessons and after a couple of weeks she passed her ” exam” and received an official swim certificate from the Dutch swim association.

In the meantime, we were busy catching up with family and friends, helping out on the farm and making plans for the next coming year. We were still hoping that the world would become a bit more “normal” again in regards of Covid-19. Unfortunately, that did not happen, borders around India are still closed today and the virus is spreading fast. We spoke with people in India and they told us that even do the media is telling different, life is quite normal. But our feeling is and was still that we didn’t wanted to be stuck in India.  We have no regrets we came back home. At the end of June, we shipped Ella (our camper) back towards the Netherlands. It was a hard decision because we knew that the dream we had (Australia) ended right there and then. We will not know what the further will bring but for now it’s not an option. We can’t get into the country and we need to take care of our cash flow as well ;-(

In August we stayed for 2 weeks in Amsterdam, taking care of a cat from our friends Sander & Iris while they were on holiday. It felt great to be in the city! Exploring beautiful Amsterdam and also being surrounded with a diversity of people, shops and cafes. We love Amsterdam, it has such a good vibe even in Corona times. At the end of the 2 weeks we could pick up Ella from the port in Rotterdam. After 2 months being on the ocean, we were so happy to see here again – our house and transportation was back! She has seen a bit more of the world than us. She went from India towards South Korea, stopped in Hong Kong, Djibouti, Egypt and finally arrived in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. She looked ok, but was very mouldy. After cleaning her (which took as a week) we found out we had a leak on the roof. It caused a part of the mould and gave us major electricity problems. We had to replace 2 essential control panels and because the camper is 17 years old it was not an easy fix. We (the garage) could fix one part of the issue. The other part of the issue had to be sent to Italia and we do not know when it’s repaired. Luckily, we still could go and we hope that DHL will bring our fixed panel somewhere in Portugal.

So, we are back on track! Last week we left The Netherlands and drove directly towards Portugal. It’s great to be back in Ella! To have all the freedom to go where and whenever. Our first plan was to take it slow, see a bit of France and Spain. But because of all the negative developments around Covid-19 we just drove directly to Portugal. We were afraid that borders where closing and we would not be able to move around anymore. Portugal will be our hibernate spot. Relax, sport, learn to surf but also to do volunteering work. Our first impression is that people are very nice and a lot of nice places to visit. We are surprised how many other travellers we meet on the road in a van or camper. It’s incredible to see. After being in countries like Iran, Pakistan and India where we were almost alone as campers, here it’s the complete opposite. Every spot we found till now is occupied with other campers. Probably it will be for a reason everybody is in Portugal during winter so we are looking forward to find out why! The only real shame is that with all this massive camper life here there is a lot more rubbish and waste on the grounds. We try to take as much rubbish with us when we leave a spot but it will never be enough. The source needs to change as well.

During the next couple of months, we will keep you posted again about our life in Ella. We hope that everybody stays safe and looks out for each other. What a world we’re living in. Sometimes we just cannot believe what is happening to world. Big changes in health, freedom, happiness and the economy. When we post photos, we try to show our impression of this beautiful world. Because there is still a lot of beauty to share. It distresses us that EVERY day there are 200.000 people more joining this planet… How will it look in 50 years? We are treating this planet as waste. We have to changed our way of living to give this planet the respect it deserves. We, our family of 3, are trying to do our utmost during our travels but we are far from perfect. Properly no human is but we can always try to do better.

Big hug and love from the 3 nomads.

New page

Who would ever thought we would write this next blog on a cough somewhere in the beautiful area of Friesland, one of the provinces of The Netherlands.  It’s a new page in our book of travel and definitely not the last. Luckily, we still feel we are in a foreign country due to the dialect in this part of the country. We still can use google translate on a daily basis so nothing changes so far 🙂 Due to some beautiful photo’s Morgan took with here own (old fashion) camera we still have prove we traveled around in some amazing countries.

Photo’s from Morgan’s camera, from Iran through Pakistan into India

When we left India, we felt pretty said of leaving without even getting to know the country. We heard so many different stories about India and after traveling for one year we knew we just need to find out ourselves. Opinions are incredibly personal but for a lot of people it unfortunately is often the truth. We always look with our own perspective but sometimes it’s hard to do so with so many prejudices. After many discussions to leave or not to leave we finally decided to leave “paradise, Dudshagar plantation” and fly home. We didn’t want to give up but with all the limitations of traveling we really couldn’t decide different. The most important part was to make sure we had an option to ship the camper back to the Netherlands. After mailing and calling for two weeks with different shipping companies we found a really good one who felt trustworthy (Thanks Alex!). Our first intention was to drive back with our camper to Mumbai and put Ella on a boat ourselves. But after the heavy lockdown we were unable to drive between the states. We decided with the owner of the farm (Ashok once again thanks a million!!) that when the car had to go back, he will drive with our camper too Mumbai after the lock down. We also had hope (still have a tiny bit) that we would be able to fly back to India before August and continue our trip.

We called the Embassy to change our city of departure from Mumbai to Goa. We put ourselves on the list for repatriation. They straight away told us there was a new mailing in regarding to a flight that night going from Goa to Brussels. We did not receive anything so they resend the mail…. The plane was leaving at 3AM that night while it was already 1 in the afternoon. It was the last plane leaving from Goa area…… After trying to book for 1,5 hours (fast WIFI is so 2019) we finally reserved both flights (Goa – Rome, Rome – Brussels). We never worked so hard to be ready. We had to clean the complete car, get all of our staff in different compartments, pack our bags and arrange a letter from the government of Goa for allowing us on the road towards the airport. What a surreal day. We were cleaning the car in our bathing suits because of the nice 38 degrees. We finished cleaning and packing at 8.30PM got our last amazing diner at the plantation and had to say goodbye to Ajit, Ashok & all the families working on the farm. With a “see you later” we left. After a 2,5-hour delay and a stopover in Rome we arrived in Brussel on the Friday 7PM Dutch time. With the help of my sister and one of our best friend Sindy we could pick up a rental car at Brussel Airport to drive to Zeeland for our 14 days of quarantine. We drove around 28000 km in 12 months to finally end up in India and flew back in 11 hours. On the one hand we always said to family and friends, we can be back in 24 hours if we have to but it’s still strange to experience it in real life. All those beautiful memories and encounters were created in the year we traveled on the road and they just passed by in an 11 hour flight.

Due to the fact we arrived at the farm before the lockdown in Goa and we did not leave the property during, we were curious how the world would look in “Corona Times”. To see the streets of India, empty with only cows and other animals on the road was already a strange sight. But to see all airline staff completely covered in suits from head to toe was really weird. It looked like a movie. When we arrived in Rome after a long delay, we had to wait for another 3 hours. We took a large coffee (Yihaaa good coffee again ;-)) and called home. During our flight Lillian’s sister arranged a place to stay for our quarantine period. We could stay in a great apartment with the best friend of Lillian sister. The apartment was situated in Eelde which is a 4 minutes drive from the Belgium border. The flight from Goa to Rome was completely fully booked, with a mixture of old Italian hippies and some Dutch and Belgium travelers. They always say Italians are temperament full but in combination with Corona and an Italian Fly company it was crazy. The flight from Rome to Brussel was very relaxed and with not more than 20 people in the plane we arrived at Brussel Airport. Everywhere we had to wear masks and all the airports were almost empty. Such a strange sight.

The 14 days of quarantine went very quickly. The first week we adopted again of being back in Holland. We got so spoiled by all of our family & friends with flowers, cards and presents. We felt incredibly lucky to have such amazing friends. Even do we left everybody to travel the world we still were in their minds and hearts. Because we were in the south part of the Netherlands were, we normally never go, it didn’t feel like being home. We explored the surrounding and enjoyed the beautiful nature in the area. The second week we did a lot of running, reading and video calling (fast internet is something special now). Because of the virus we were not allowed to help out on the farm unfortunately but with 1,5 meters apart we did do a lot of coffees together. Once again thank you Tim & Annemarie to take care of us like that. After our 14 days, Lillian’s sister Wiranda came to pick us up and drove us to Friesland. She lives on a beautiful piece of land in a “woudhuisje”, a farmer’s house with her husband Egbert and her two kids, Nynke & Yenthe. Yenthe is the same age as Morgan and Nynke is 10 years old. It still surprises us how it feels to see family again after such a long time. We skipped the 1,5 meters (sorry but he, we already did two weeks of quarantine) and we could huge everybody for ages! Because of the amount of land on Wiranda’s property they decided we could stay in a place on their property for as long as we wished or was necessary. We cannot describe how grateful we are towards Egbert and Wiranda to have us on their land. The place they had needed some (many) redecoration so we were sanding, painting and decorating a bit for the last weeks. When we left our old house, we sold everything we owned except our bed. We always slept really well in our camper but the first night of sleeping in our “old” bed was like sleeping in heaven 🙂 The complete interieur we got from neighbours, friends & family. No need for new stuff and everything we had to buy we bought second hand. There is already too much stuff in this world so re- using is so much better for this planet we feel.

We also spend a week with Lillian’s parents in the North of the Netherlands, a village called Hippolytushoef. The village lies close the The Wadden Sea and for Dutch understanding we had great weather that week. We still went from 38 degrees to 17 but there was sun so all good. We got extremely spoiled and Morgan loved the time with her grandparents. It’s so funny to see how easy a child adapts to different situations. Yesterday we were in India and today in the Netherlands. She acted like she never left. How hard it was for us to realise we were back how easy it was for Morgan. Sometimes we wished we could look more with children eyes into this world. Just living in the “now” and don’t care about the past or the present. Life would be so much easier.  The village is also close to a lot of flower field so every day we biked through all the beautiful fields. We feel so privileged to be born and raised in the Netherlands. We never “left” the country because we don’t like it. We just left because we feel the world Is too big and beautiful to stay in the Netherlands. To show Morgan the differences in this world.

Not once we felt we made the wrong decision to go “home”. There are so many uncertainties in the world wright now that we do not know what the next page will be. For now, it’s just a new page we to fill with memories. We are enjoying being home and being around family. Due to the corona we aren’t able to see friends but slowly things are getting a little bit more relaxed in The Netherlands. You can meet people again but taking the 1,5 meters into consideration… We don’t want to make a decision yet but we will wait till the end of June to see if fly bans are released. The coming land borders from India were a challenge anyway with all their regulations but with corona in place it makes it much more uncertain to be able to drive through Myanmar, Thailand etc.

We hope everybody is ok and healthy and we’ll update soon. We will not end our blog because we are in a “new” country with still a lot to explore. We just expected the flag to have different colors and some mountains instead of flat land 🙂

Big hug and kiss from the three of us.

365

One year ago we moved out of our beloved house in Utrecht and moved into our new house on wheels.

When we got in our camper and drove off we were speculating “ were would we be next year same time?? “ Would we be already in India, did we got stock somewhere in Europe…. What would we write on our blog. Lists of number of km, number of illnesses, number of beers, number of countries……. All these nitty facts were nobody gives a damn about but so fun for us to put on paper.

Exactly after one year we write this with many tears in our eyes. We are at the airport of Goa waiting to board a plane to Brussel. Our believed Ella ( our camper) is still at the farm waiting on our return or to be shipped to wherever is possible. Prob. The Netherlands 😦 We can not believe for now our travel had to stop, we did not reach Australia but were stopt by a virus in India. We know deep in our hearts it’s is the best thing to do but for now we only can be super sad. We try to stay safe. Big kiss from us.

Dearest friends & family

We are ok. We are still at the farm in Goa – India were we do volunteering work and it’s the best place to be, in this strange situation. 

Every morning we start of with “ we have to go home” but were is home. Our “ house” is here and in the Netherlands there is of course family and friends waiting ( which were are not allowed to see) but nothing else. We are so not finished with traveling yet but we have the feeling the world is finished with all the traveling people for now.  In the afternoon we try to find different solutions for not going back….We really don’t know 😞 

We are closely monitoring everything what is happening in the world but for now with all the lock downs we have to wait till beginning of April to see what to do next. We wished we could predict the future but I think the whole world would like to do that right now.

We keep you posted. Please stay safe 

Big kiss from us

Back to reality

After traveling for almost 11 months (and enjoying every minute of it) last week for the first time we wished we were back home. 

We started off with Morgan who got the famous “Delhi Belly” and within 4 hours she was hospitalized for sincere dehydration. We were shocked how quick it happened. In the morning all was fine but after lunch she got really ill very quickly. At one moment we were not able to reach her for at least two minutes. Unbelievable scary! Later we found out it was a fever convulsion (which we never saw before and hope never to see again) We looked up the best hospital in Jodhpur and went straight away to the emergency. Within an hour we were submitted. The doctors were great and after an “ok” from our insurance company everything was possible 😉 To make sure the fall out was no epileptic seizure they also took an MRI and EEG. Luckily all was good and after 4 days of hospital Morgan was strong enough to go home.  Finally, at home, we got very sad news that a dear friend of us, Leon passed away very suddenly. He died much to young with many “unfinished” wishes. 4 days later Lillian parents called also with the news of losing a very close and dear friend suddenly. Life can be really unfair sometimes. 

Morgan getting better in the hospital

When you are travelling it feels horrible to be on the other side of the world in said times. We realize that you have to follow your dreams…….. but for now, we wished we were home. Being with family and friends, giving them lots of hugs, love and just being there when it matters. Our thoughts are with all of you right now and you are in our minds and hearts. We are unable to be there for you and it that feels very tough.

India was the country where we did not know what to expect. Some countries were high on our” list to see” but with India we always had a bit of mixed feelings. We heard so many negative stories about the country we got a bit scared…. scared about the noise, busyness, no camping spots and all other stuff.  It really depends which route you take but for now India is beautiful and nothing to be scared about. In India it’s all about the money again. We had to get used to that again. In Iran – Pakistan, is was opposite so the first days in India we had quite some discussions. Tuk – Tuk drivers are the worst! We decided after Amritsar, Kapurthala and Jodhpur to directly go to Goa. Just slowing down the travelling and finding a spot to work for a while. We will (unfortunately) skip the bottom of the country and go up again via Rajasthan to Himachal Pradesh. The weather will be very hot in April till June and the monsoon will hit the south first. After receiving negative news about our extension for the carnet (we tried to extent our carnet till October for India) we have to be out of India the beginning of August. In July we will visit Nepal but we have to reenter India again to go to Myanmar for our next destination. 

After watching the boarder closing from the Pakistani side we drove through the same border (which was the coolest border crossing we ever did) and saw the India side. What a difference! For the first time in 1,5 months we saw ladies on the streets again, without any cover, dancing!! We realized what kind of impact it had during the last 1,5 months of our travel. We were so surprised to see women again, driving on scooters, in cars, on the streets and not completely covered. The closing of the Indian side was much more color full and less authoritarian. We also saw tourist again. In the last months there weren’t many tourist but as soon as we crossed into India, we were not the tourist attraction ourselves. 

When we arrived in Amritsar, we had to see the golden temple. The most religious place for the Sikh. A beautiful believe we really felt connected with. Every day 100.000 people will get food in the temple and everybody will help to get the food ready. It so beautiful to see the connection of people in this place. Amritsar was a nice place to get all our stuff arranged. Every time we cross a border, we have to fix a couple of things. SIM cards, insurance for the car, routes and we also always have to adjust to the country. 

After Amritsar we drove to Kapurthala. In this city the family Singh lives. They are the relatives of our friend and tailor Harjit from Utrecht. He was not around but his family welcomed us like we were family. They showed us the beautiful Kapurthala and overwhelmed us with their love. What an amazing couple of days. After two days getting spoiled, we drove to Jodhpur and visit an amazing fort. Despite the fact that Morgan got ill in this city we still enjoyed it very much. The area of Rajasthan has enormous forts and castles. Beautiful buildings with a great architecture. When we go back up north after our volunteering, we will visit this area fur sure. After Jodhpur we went in 2,5 days down to Goa. 1500 km to go to the beach. For us it means driving 2,5 days from 6AM till 7PM. Morgan is getting used to sitting. It sounds silly but after all the cold of Pakistan and the north of India it was so nice to feel the warmth again. We went from 15 to 35 degrees. Maybe a bit too much but he, who’s complaining 🙂

Goa feels like every bounty beach in Asia except for the cows. They are also chilling at the beach which is very weird to see. We first arrived in Arambol in the North of Goa. After one night in this party place (we are getting so old) and meeting our swiss biker friend Matthias again we moved to the south and the more relaxed beaches. We stayed for 5 days in Galgibaga and enjoyed the silence. The last view days we were in Agonda. Not as quite as Galgibaga but a nice little village with some shops and restaurants. It’s still strange to see so many tourists again. In Goa, tourists are very common (off course) and so it gives us also a break of all the selfies. We now get asked by all the western tourists how in the **** we got all the way down to India with our own car J

Yesterday we arrived at Dudhsagar Farmstay & Plantation, Karmane. It’s a beautiful place in the middle of the jungle in Goa. There are 5 beautiful huts which guest can rent and there is a big plantation of 50 hectares of Jungle. Full with all kind of fruits and spices. We will help out with the farm and the guests. Lillian will do a little bit of revenue management and e-commerce and Stephen will help with some Sales structures (back to our roots!!) We are looking forward to stay on one spot for a while and hopefully we can learn Morgan to swim properly. It’s already going well but with a beautiful nature pool it has to work out great. 

Live your dream, don’t dream your life.

Big kiss from us

“To stare or not to stare, that’s the question”

After all the police escorts we got “released” in Multan. We drove to Islamabad on a brand-new Motorway (with nobody on it, super weird). We needed to arrange our visas for India. We understood that this visa could be difficult but to be honest it was very easy. We asked for one year with triple entry and we got it, so nice! We don’t know how long we will stay in India but having the flexibility is great. They only small detail we still have to fix is getting the government of India to agree that our camper is also allowed for a year 🙂 Which is unfortunately almost impossible, 6 months per year is the max normally. At the moment we are planning to stay in India and Nepal for 6 months in total, if we get the extension, we will go further south in India and will do more volunteering work. 

We stayed for one week in Islamabad and this city has in our opinion not really a heart or a soul. Luckily, we could stay in a very relax place and we met with our biker friend Matthias again. We also wanted to see a bit more of the northern part of Pakistan. “They” say the northern part is one of the most beautiful places in the world. There are five mountains above 8.000 meters and the area is huge. Unfortunately, for us we were in the wrong season in Pakistan, too much snow and temperature go’s down from -10 to -25 degrees. We went towards Swat Valley to explore a bit of the mountain area. We stayed on the farm of Niaz and Shujaat, two brothers. Another five families do also live at the farm. They worked on the farm and there were many many kids. We had a warm welcome and Morgan made quickly new friends so we decided to stay for a couple of days. The families where amazing to us and showed us around in the valley. 

Morgan wanted to see some snow so after Swat valley we went up north to look for it… well, we found it… Our goal was to visit Kalam but 10 km before the village we decided to stop driving. The snow chains were in use but the roads were full of snow and the valley expected even more the next day. We made a massive snow man and kicked some asses with a snow fight! The next day we drove 120 km towards Besham, it was our longest 120 km ever and it took us 10 hours … On the top of one of the mountains police was very worried about us so they gave us an escort again because of difficult road conditions, or so they said. We really didn’t want it but looking at the faces we decided just to wait. After two hours we finally could drive again, with our snow chains sliding down a steep mountain. An adventure on its own. The next day, the police wanted to escort us again but they didn’t expect that we drove off at 06:30 in the morning. Due to their laziness (nobody around at that time) we could drive ourselves without any escort. 

Lahore is a city which has huge diversity, we cannot believe it sometimes. We stayed one week in the city and there is so much to explore. The city has 12.5 million inhabitants. It’s a crazy but also mysterious. For example – in Lahore the are a lot of Sufis. Sufism is a liberal stream inside the Islam believe based on spirituality and philosophy. It is also a mystic tradition inside of the Islam. On Thursday evening people join at holy shrines, were important Sufi’s are buried. With a lot of singing and dancing they welcome their weekend. Stephen went to see a gathering and was quite impressed of the ceremony and scenery. In the city itself there is much to see, big mosques and craziness everywhere. There is also a darker side. Many poor people and people with handicaps on the street, begging for some change. We give what we can but it’s never enough for everybody. Morgan has a lot of questions in regards of this and sometimes it’s hard to explain what is wrong and how some people get treated by other human beings.

Stephen always had “some” issue with authority 🙂 but we found out in Pakistan that he really does not like it….. We got stopped so many times by police that it slowly gets irritating. The stops are meanly for curious policemen who want to see our camper. The area where we drove was safe. They don’t know what to do with our passport (they can’t read it) and also are unaware about our visa. They just want to show some authority in their district. After a couple of “clashes” with strange cops we decided that Lillian will do the word.  Sometimes you just have to except.

In the country side there are almost no women on the street. When we see them, they are wearing a burka. We have read that a lot of women in Pakistan have a hard time. In the cities it’s changing with little help of the government but still there is a lot of suffering due to mental or physical violence. We start to see the difference between “classes” and behaviours between people. People are very happy to see us. We feel safe and welcome but with that said the part of the human rights does make it difficult for us to completely enjoy our stay in some areas. Some men intent to have a conversation only to Stephen. They don’t say a word to Lillian and just ignore her. The world is different here and there are things we don’t understand, difference in culture and habits are enormous.  Off course we also meet many nice people with super very friendly faces. The hospitality is great, like Iran everybody wants to help (but first a selfie ;-)) 

We got used to the starring, really…but again we have to get used to this level of starring. The question “to stare or not to stare” has past and people go in all the way… Everywhere we walk people look at us. In Iran they looked and then people would say hello. In Pakistan, people just stare with extreme intensity. On the touristic places (for Pakistani) people ask a lot for a selfie. Sometimes after numerous photos we get so tired and we say no – people here don’t understand, the world is only turning with mobiles nowadays so way don’t make a selfie with tourists … Good practice for India, we heard it’s going to be more extreme.

We fell in love with the Pakistani art on the trucks, tractors and Tuk-tuk’s. After driving around a couple of weeks, we felt that Ella (our home) also needed to get some colours on her “skin”. We found an artist who could make something for us. We asked him to first make a suggestion and after approval he could start making it real life. We didn’t hear anything but after 2 days he told it was ready… Luckily after seeing the result we loved it all the way!! We asked for a Peacock and he created three. In many countries the peacock’s symbol means, beauty, dignity & wakefulness. We describe them as three flying traveling birds with the names: Morgan, Lillian & Stephen.

Tomorrow we will cross the border to India. The border crossing is a special thing between Pakistan & India. The closing of the gate is great to watch from both sides. For the first time in our lives we went to a border (even without our car) and did not cross it. We saw it from the Pakistani side. Tomorrow we will see it from the Indian side. It’s a big show with a lot of testosterone. In the past both countries fought a lot and still there is a lot of anger from both sides. (example is the Kashmir region)  

Would we go back to Pakistan, yes for sure! This country has so much to offer and we really want to see the nature in the north one day!

Love from us.

Next Level

We did it! Yesterday we arrived in Sukkur……. It still feels surreal. Five days ago, we crossed the border of Pakistan and as of than Levi’s (British Police Reinforcement) guarded us. At the beginning of our trip we had a lot of doubts about Pakistan. If you take a look at the travel website of our government, Pakistan is coloured almost completely red with a little bit of orange. Which means, do not travel…. (just to compare, South America and a big part of south-east Asia are already yellow which means, be careful, safety issues). We know red is a different colour and it made us insecure. We were not sure if we wanted to cross Pakistan. We could skip Pakistan and take a boat from Iran to Mumbai but we really wanted to drive as far as possible. We spoke to so many other travellers and they all said GO to Pakistan! The Baluchistan area is not safe but you will be protected by Levi’s and the rest of Pakistan is really safe and great. The country is massive, Pakistan is the size of France and the United Kingdom together and the population is around 220 million people!

Pakistan was often voted as “best place to travel” in many magazines the last couple of years. Especially the North with the start of the Karakoram Highway but still we had to cross Baluchistan. Slowly we gained more confidence due to all the reading and talking. We made the decision and applied for our Visa. We always said to each other, we can do “stupid” things but we have a big responsibility with our daughter and we will never put her at risk. The night before crossing we slept well and drove off early in the morning to cross the border. The crossing was really easy and after 3 hours we arrived in Pakistan. We got picked up by the Levi’s straight away at the border and were brought to the police station to wait on our escort. In Zahedan (Iran) we met Matthias, a Swiss biker who joined us the whole way. We laughed a lot together so it made it all less “heavy”. All the Levi’s were super friendly and curious about who we were. After a night at the police station (sleeping in our camper next to jail including prisoners) we drove the first day 300 KM to Dalbadine. It took us the whole day. We stopped at many checkpoints to give our passports and visa. We felt like celebrities. We had 24-hour guards with big guns and even more than in Iran were watch and starred at. It again felt like a different world. Definitely back in Asia. The roads are worse, houses are made of clay in the small villages. The different is that there are no ladies on the streets. In the last couple of days we say just a handful.

The second day we arrived in Quetta. Only 300 km again but it even took longer. Changes with cars and Levi’s were every 20 – 30 KM. The last 13 KM in Quetta the guards changed at least 6 times. New car, bike in the new car and new Levi’s. We later found out that’s because the police have only authority in their own district. Everybody was very friendly but bloody serious with massive guns and protective vests. It didn’t help it rained the whole day and when we arrived in Quetta it was dark. We never felt unsafe but it felt we were in a (cheap) action movie with us in the main role. Extremely impressive. In Quetta, we needed to get a NOC paper (road clearing document towards Sukkur) and Stephen got it at a different police station. Five different bosses needed to approve it:-).  Six hours later we got the papers. We were camping in the police station again. On Thursday we could drive our last 400 km and, in this part, we understood why all the protection is necessary. In Quetta and surrounding were many soldiers and the look and feel of the people in this area made it a bit scary. It wouldn’t be a place where we would do some wild camping… After 11 hours we arrived in Sukkur. Sukkur lies in a different province and is safe. We had read that some people found the whole escort horrible because you really aren’t able to do anything without a Levi. You are not allowed outside the premises of the police station and are guard 24 hours. They found it not necessary and irritating. We felt the escort is necessary and we feel privileged Pakistan is willing to do this for their tourists so we are able to visit this beautiful country. 

We got so used to all the habits of Iran after almost three months we now have to adopt again in Pakistan. We left Iran on the same day President Trump decided to kill two high military guys of Iran and Iraq. It’s going to be an uncertain time again for our friends in Iran. We wish them lots of love and strength. 

The December month we spend in the South of Iran on the Persian Gulf. True heaven. 26 degrees on the beautiful islands of Qeshm and Hormuz. We spend a lot of time just relaxing at some beaches between the camels. After Qeshm we went to Kerman. We celebrated Xmas with other French travellers and had falafel as Xmas diner. Perfect!.Morgan even could hereself a Xmas present! A new gitar. Iranians are living in a different calendar in the year 1398. They also don’t celebrate Xmas and New Year and their New Year is on the 21st of March. We saw all the Xmas photo’s passing by on social media but it didn’t feel at all like Xmas. Next to Kerman, you can find the Kaluts, Lut desert. Before leaving to Pakistan we wanted to go deep into the desert and find some beautiful sand dunes again. Unfortunately, our car is not able to go deep into the desert (even do we try sometimes :-)) so we decided to go with a guide in his 4×4. What an experience! The Kaluts were fantastic and driving through a dessert is something special. Funny enough we got stuck after 15 minutes but after help, we drove around for 3 hours with perfect steering. On the 30th of December, we drove to Zahedan to prepare for our border crossing. We “celebrated” New Year with Matthias. No fireworks or early mornings this time but it’s all good. We are living our dream so we aren’t complaining.  

After a deserved resting day, (Morgan did amazing with all the driving and waiting) we probably will drive directly to Islamabad tomorrow to get our visa extension. We don’t know how long our visa will be for India so better have a bit longer in Pakistan just in case (for now we “only” have one month) Some say you get 3 months; some say 6 months India Visa. If we get 6 months and we leave within a month out of Pakistan we will hit the rain season in Nepal. If we get only 3 months we will move faster and will be in Thailand when the rain season starts. Which is fine but quick… We just arrived in Pakistan but are already busy with the next countries. Sometimes it feels strange to do so but better plan a bit ahead…. Life of a traveller can be hard sometimes 😉 

Once again, we wish everybody an incredible 2020 and lots of love from Pakistan.

Happy New Year!!

A new year is like a blank book. The pen is in your hands. It is your chance to write a beautiful story. A posibilty to meet up with people from all around the world. There are so many opinions about people, culture and beliefs based on what’s told anywhere. Never believe everything what’s been written.We have seen so much beautiful people during our trip and got overwhelmed by kindness. The world is a wonderful place.

We wish you all the best for 2020! Happy New Year! 

Lots of love from us.

Ta’arof

In our last blog we told about the kindness of Iranian people. Every day it’s still an overwhelming experience. Persian culture is characterised by “Ta’arof”. The art of Ta’arof has its roots in the Persian tradition of treating others better than your own family and have the desire to be the best host. The people here are so warm, that you almost have to get “used” to the kindness. People from the west are used to some “space”. Here it’s different, if we park the camper somewhere for the night, in no time people will make a camp around our camper. They just want to talk to you, know if you like their country, offer you drinks and food, invite us to their home, etc. Sometimes things also can be a bit confusing, for example if you buy something or use a service, they say they don’t want money. It is not polite to ask for money. Of course, you need to pay, but still. In the supermarket sometimes the employee walks with you everywhere. We thought they were checking us because we were maybe steeling something. But NO, think in a positive way. They just want to help us when we have questions. Ta’arof, how beautiful is that! 

We think that the Iranian culture can also be intense from time till time. For many people the Muslim believe is very strict like the Iranian government. That makes it very hard for people who are less religious or not at all. Especially for women, in our opinion they have more strict rules then men. Wearing a hijab is a must, body lines cannot be showed, at the beach women cannot swim in bikini and you never will see women on a bike. If you work for the government, like a school, your private and working life is checked by the government. The power of the government is enormous, with off course a strong Muslim believe. We met so many nice, smart, funny, creative and open-minded people and many just want freedom and make their own choices. For them being a Muslim is a must and not an issue or burden but the restrictions are. Slowly things are changing and the rules are getting more unrestricted, but it’s going slow, for some to slow. A lot of people have a dream to life in the USA, Canada or Europe. For us it was also a surprise that there are many people who “love” Donald Trump just because he is against the regime of Iran. We can really feel and see that people and the economy struggles with the sanctions from the USA and Europe. A lot of people don’t have jobs and the money is little. The value of the Rial is at lowest point… Difficult times for a country with 80 million people…

Two weeks ago, a lot of strikes went on in Iran. The price of petrol went up, from 3 eurocent towards 8 eurocents for 1 liter. For a lot of people here this price increase is massive. The average wage is around 200 euro a month. The government decided to disconnect the internet for 1 week so no news could be shared. Also, ATM machine didn’t work properly. We were in Bushehr (along the coast) when the strikes started and it was relatively calm. In other cities a lot of fires and highway blockades were going on. Around 200 people (amnesty international claims) were killed and many more got injured. When the strikes started, we were with Farshid and Saeideh. Farshid has a sport bar in Burshehr and we could stay and sleep in front of his cafe for one week. He spoiled us with coffees, Ice cream, cookies, food and other lovely things…  Morgan didn’t want to leave; watching movies all day is the best 😉 After this beautiful place with amazing people we went to a villa along the coast. A friend of Farshid told us we could stay as long as we wanted. There was almost nobody around except for some fishermen who brought us fish and crabs every morning. Paradise! 3 days ago, we left this Paradise and now we are at Hormuz Island, in the south of Iran. Still in relaxing mode…. In the beginning of January, we will go towards Pakistan, the next adventure.

For now, we can say that Iran is one of the best countries we have ever been to. The diversity is huge and we feel 100% safe. The country, landscapes, history, art, architecture of buildings, gardens and the people make it very special for us. Media is a bad influencer and for us it isn’t respectful to all the beautiful people who are living here. 

We hope everybody is doing well and enjoy a great December month. 

Love from the 3 of us!

“Welcome to Iraaaaaaaaaaaaan”

Finally, finally Iran. The country we were so looking forward to! Until now we planned our trip (season wise) around this country. The best time to travel into Iran is during spring (March – May) or Autumn (Sept – November). And what an incredible first month it was. Iran is everything we wished for and more. The people, the country it’s overwhelming! It is an amazing country with the kindest people. If we would say yes to every tea and diner, we got offered we still would be in Tabriz (the city we started). The hospitality is unbelievable. Sometimes without even wanting to (it’s part of the culture) but always helpful and friendly. 

We arrived in Tabriz and had to get used to the fact everybody wants to talk and take photos of us. The first question always is “where do you come from”. Then; “Welcome to Iraaaaaan (we think in Farsi a lot of people “sing”) and they all start with HELLO!! Morgan is the biggest attraction. People are queueing to take a photo of here. We always tell everybody just please ask (luckily here they still do). Morgan decides. If she says yes then it’s ok. When she says no, we run away ;-).  She is almost turning into a model. She keeps on posing for everybody. If we ever come back to Holland, she will be so disappointed that nobody finds here interesting anymore… The other big change is wearing a Hijab for Lillian. No more shorts and t-shirts for both of us. Slowly Lillian is getting used to the Hijab but she is very glad it’s not obligated for the rest of her life. Training is also much harder. For Lillian it’s almost impossible to run. Even in parks where nobody is around early in the morning, she gets stared and followed by the guards. Long trousers, shirts, head it doesn’t’ change the looks on their faces. We try to find as many wild camp places as possible with nobody around so she still can do a bit of exercise. 

The history of Iran is incredible. We learn a lot about Zoroastrians, which is the first believe of the world. Of course, we learn about the Muslim religion (we are in the year 1398) and about the Persian empire which conquered the world for a while. Everywhere we go there is so much history that we are constantly ‘googling’ all the different things we hear and see. Political it’s unfortunately a big mess. 50% off the people is liberated and is trying to be as “free” as possible. The other 50% are strong believers and agree with the regime. We met many Iranians who disagree on their government. Especially against the religious part. They tell us they have to have so many different faces. When they are with friends, family, colleagues. They always behave differently. There is a lot of corruption and the value of the money is worthless. In Iran the currency is Rial, but there are so many zero’s they use Tomen. When you see fe. on a menu 25, you have to pay 25.000 Tomen. The money is Rial so again you have to convert this and you will pay 250.000 Rial. Can you imagine how many times we got lost with all the calculations? Apps don’t work (the money is worth 3 times as much) but we have our calculator with us and slowly we get used to the many zero’s

Tourist are still not very common in Iran and all the Iranians are so happy when tourist come and visit. When we are driving everybody waves and honks at us. We are even causing accidents (twice now) due to people staring at us instead of the road………. The highways are fine. The Iranians always think they can go first so if you keep that in mind, it’s perfectly fine. The cities are like big anthills. When we drive through cities we get into the funnel and just go. If you don’t just go, we would be on the same spot the whole day. It is really funny to see everybody ignoring every rule there is. As long as we don’t have any bumps yet were ok driving in Iran! 

Normally we see a lot of nature and we often go into the mountains. In Iran the mountains are brown (also because we came after a very hot summer) but the cities are amazing (which is such a difference way of travelling for us). We started our trip in Tabriz and went to down to Qazvin. From there we went up into the Albortz Mountains and the beautiful scenery of the Alamut Castle. After the mountains we decided to skip Teheran due to the fact we “just” had a visa of one month. We went down to Kashan and into the dessert. Morgan loved to have the biggest playground she could find. And we as well 😉 After the dessert we drove to Isfahan. What a great city!! We stayed in a super hostel, Nargol guesthouse (first time we didn’t sleep in our camper) and got spoiled by fantastic food and people. We still are biking a lot and definitely in cities we take our bikes. We have so much fun to bike through all the crazy traffic. The pollution is unbelievable horrible, but we also see much more of the city with our bikes. Ladies will put their thumbs up for Lillian because ladies on a bike are very rare. 

Between Yazd and Isfahan there was a caravanserai (camel drink – and sleeping place for people), we stayed here for 3 days. We had the place to ourselves and we had our own party and danced till dark. At night we were watching the stars from the rooftop. After the caravanserai we went to Yazd. In Yazd we easily got our extension of our visa and we are allowed to stay till 10thof January 2020! As soon as we got our extension we got in reverse and are taking it slow. We have all the time we need to see the country without hurry. It’s a fantastic feeling. After Yazd we moved to Taft. We got an advice to go to Nartitee Guesthouse to do a coffee, ore tea (there is not a lot of coffee in Iran). We stayed for 4 days. It felt like home. We also had to fix some issues on the car (our expansion vessel was leaking) but we absolutely didn’t mind stayed a bit longer. 

Before we drove to Shiraz, we went to Persepolis and Necropolis. The palace of Darius I and his sons. A magical place with a lot of history. It was destroyed by Alexander the great around 330 v.Chr. Now we are in Shiraz, the city were the official Shiraz wine stocks are coming from. Unfortunately, nobody can use the stocks officially (no alcohol allowed) and so the stocks were sent to France and Australia. We are exploring the city again on our bike but last night someone stool my front wheel L. There is a first time for everything. My bikes have been stolen multiple times in Holland but never have I experienced that someone only steels the front wheel. 

We also got good news today about the visa for Pakistan! The first couple of 100 km are tricky and we will be guided by police escorts all the way to Quetta or Lahore. We hear a lot of different stories but Yahoeee for all the Facebook sites with questions and stories from other travellers. India and the rest are still very vague and we leave it for now. There are so many different parts of our trip where we are unable to get straight answers yet. One step at the time. Pakistan is in the pocket and we can request our visa for India in Islamabad ( or so some people say)

If you haven’t decided yet were to go for your holiday, try Iran! It will blow your mind away. It’s safe, has a great culture, long powerful history and the people are extremely friendly! Media only shows you the political issues and doesn’t show you the daily life and lifestyle.

Goldfish Morgan (our daugther has a memory as a goldfish)

Love from us!