Monthly Archives: May 2019

AtW #83: Sim and Nathan

Picture of Nathan, Sim, and Dan.

Sim and Nathan and Dan

Sim and Nathan are Couchsurfers who stayed with Katie and me in Hong Kong. This was their final stop on a journey of more than a year. We had an awesome discussion about a variety of topics, ranging from traveling for free to exploding Pinto gas tanks.

Download this Episode (right-click and choose “save as”)

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Show Notes:

This video shows two guys on a small farm planting potatoes. Now you know.

Picture of potato planters.

Here’s a photo of some local villagers planting potatoes on the Annapurna Circuit. How many tractors do you see in this photo?

Picture of Poon Hill, no people. Picture of Poon Hill, with people.

These are both photos of Poon Hill, one with people, one without. Which one is more accurate?

Here’s an insane video of a wild elephant charging a man.

Here’s a similar video, this time with a gorilla.

Picture of some guy’s ass.

October, 2001. I was in a bar in London and two women asked to borrow my camera because they wanted to photograph a sign in the restroom. A few minutes later they returned, snickering. A couple weeks later when I got the film developed, I saw that this was the photo they had actually taken. Talk about a funny prank that you can’t do anymore!

Here’s a video explaining the concept of a cat cafe.

Sharp Peak, Sai Kung's Most Difficult Hike

Picture of Sim from the summit of Sharp Peak.

Sharp Peak

Sharp Peak (蚺蛇尖) is considered the most challenging hike in Sai Kung. The main reason for this is because of the steepness of the ascent. At times you need to engage all four limbs, so you need to have good footwear and a clear head on your shoulders. On top of that, you’ll spend hours completely exposed to the relentless sun, making dehydration and heat exhaustion real possibilities.

But the hike is also quite rewarding. From the top, you get a great view over the beaches of Tai Long Wan, including Ham Tin Wan, one of the nicest beaches in Hong Kong. I went with my three CouchSurfing guests: Sim, Nathan and Miljana. We hiked all afternoon, and we didn’t arrive at the bus stop to come home until dusk. It took me nine months of living in Sai Kung before I hiked to Sharp Peak the first time; I don’t think I’ll wait so long before heading back.

Here are some of my photos from the hike:

Picture of abandoned village.

We passed this abandoned village early in the hike.

Picture of Miljana taking a picture of feral cows.

If you come to Sai Kung, you’ll almost certainly see feral cows. They’re mostly docile, and quite a popular tourist attraction.

Picture of Sim, Nathan and Dan talking.

A conversation on the way up.

Picture of summit of Sharp Peak.

About two-thirds of the way to the summit, the view started to get really good.

Picture of Miljana.

Despite the heat, Miljana is excited to be hiking.

Picture of view of beaches from near the summit of Sharp Peak.

The view of the trail and Ham Tin Wan beach below.

Picture of Sai Kung peninsula from Sharp Peak.

From the summit of Sharp Peak, we got a good view of the Sai Kung peninsula.

Picture of Dan, Miljana, and Sim from the summit of Sharp Peak.

Me, Miljana and Sim on the summit, 468 meters above sea level. It was so nice, we spent nearly an hour there.

Picture of Miljana and Sim heading down the trail.

On the way down. The steep trail winds all the way down the ridgeline.

Picture of Ham Tin Wan.

Ham Tin Wan has to be one of the nicest beaches in Hong Kong.

Picture of sunset over the river.

Sunset on the way back.

More photos from the Sharp Peak hike

AtW #82: Miljana Zutic, the Serbian Traveler

Picture of Serbian Traveler Miljana Zutic and Dan Pery.

Miljana and Dan

Miljana Zutic, AKA “Serbian Traveler”, has been traveling around the world for the last four years with no money. Seriously, she left her home with two euros and has kept the adventure going for all this time. How, you wonder? Listen to this podcast to find out.

Miljana’s social media can be found at the following links:

If you enjoy this podcast and Miljana’s social media pages, she would really appreciate it if you would kick a few bucks her way on PayPal. Here’s her address:

Download this Episode (right-click and choose “save as”)

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Here’s one of Miljana’s videos, from Wadi Rum, Jordan:

Tulou Country

Picture of Katie and Mom at Tianluokeng.

Katie and my mom at the Tianluokeng tulou cluster.

For our last stop on our trip to China, Katie, my mom, and I visited the Hakka tulou region of Fujian province. Tulou (土楼, literally “earthen building”) are the “castles” of the region, fortified to prevent invasion. They were built as either circles or rectangles, and they contain large central courtyards, with housing for up to 800 people.

This was our favorite destination of our trip. The region has beautiful landscapes, friendly people, and an interesting history. Here are a few of my photos. What do you think?

Picture of mom in front of tulou home.

My mom at our bed and breakfast, the Fuyulou Changdi Inn. We were staying on the top floor.

Picture of papaya tree.

A papaya tree in the village.

Picture of mom and Dan getting dressed up in traditional clothes.

Getting all dressed up.

Picture of man fishing in front of tulou building.

Goin’ fishin’.

Picture of temple gateway.

The gateway to a temple.

Picture of pond in front of temple.

A pond in front of the local temple.

Picture of river, village, and fields.

Main street in the village.

Picture of round house.

One of the round buildings.

Picture of rice wine jars.

Jars of local rice wine.

Picture of Mom and Katie in the tulou village.

Mom and Katie.

Picture of people outside of tulou.

Heading home.

Picture of drying bamboo shoots.

We thought this was fish, but it turned out to be bamboo shoots, laid out to dry.

Picture of sunset on the river, with tulou building.

Sunset on the river.

Picture of Square houses in a round village.

Square houses in a round village.

Picture of hoe.

Hoeing the fields at sunset.

Picture of fireworks girl.

This girl nearly burned down the house with some fireworks she found.

Picture of red lanterns in a Chinese guesthouse.

Our guesthouse was decorated with many, many lanterns.

Picture of Tianluokeng tulou cluster.

This is the Tianluokeng tulou cluster. The buildings represent the five elements of ancient Chinese philosophy (metal, wood, water, fire, earth).

Picture of bamboo forest.

A walk through a bamboo forest.

Picture of man laying out bamboo shoots.

This guy is laying out bamboo shoots and vegetables to dry.

Picture of Katie, low-angle.


Picture of tulou from the inside.

Inside a tulou.

Picture of inside a tulou.

Dozens of families can live inside one of these buildings.

Picture of tulou from the outside.

Outside of the tulou.

Picture of dried loose tea with Chinese sign.

Local wild tea for sale.

Picture of rice fields.

Rice fields.

Picture of piano in a tulou.

The Yuchang tulou is upwards of 1700 years old. They were rolling out a piano for a show that night.

Picture of Deyuan Ancestral Temple.

Outside of the Deyuan Ancestral Temple.

Picture of inside of the Deyuan Ancestral Temple.

Inside the temple.

Picture of Deyuan Ancestral Temple from above.

Above the temple.

Picture of King of tulou.

Inside the King of Tulou, the largest of all earthen buildings.

Picture of King of tulou.

Walking the outer ring of the King of Tulou.

Picture of King of Tulou.

Click here for more of my photos from the area.

Gulang Yu

Gulang Yu: Picture of island with Xiamen in the background.

Gulang Yu view: looking back at Xiamen really gives you an idea for the old and new.

After spending a day and a half exploring Kinmen Island, we took a ferry back to Xiamen. From there, our goal was to head to the island of Gulang Yu (鼓浪嶼 “Drum Wave Islet”) for a few days. This turned out to be far more difficult than we had anticipated.

While not a famous destination internationally, Gulang Yu is quite popular among Chinese tourists, attracting 10 million annually. Because of this, only the locals are allowed to take the short ferry directly to the island’s main port. It wasn’t clear how we tourists could get there, though. We ended up joining a mini tour, which included a round trip ferry ticket. Three hours, two ferries, and four passport checks later, we – along with two hundred of our best Chinese friends – spilled onto Gulang Yu.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Gulang Yu was one of two foreign concessions in China (the other being Shanghai). Because of this, the island is full of European-style mansions and churches. It also has a piano museum and a calligraphic wood carving museum (my personal favorite attraction). Cars and bicycles are banned on the island, so the tourists get to walk around and take it all in.

Though Gulangyu was difficult to reach, especially given its proximity to Xiamen Island, it was still worth the journey. Here are a few of my photos from the island:

Gulang Yu: Picture of the old American consulate.

The old American consulate.

Picture of girl with street sign.

A popular activity here is to pose in front of street signs.

Picture of blooming flowers.

Blooming flowers.

Gulang Yu: Picture of Katie with street sign.

Katie in front of a street sign.

Picture of noodle shop sign.

A sign for a noodle shop.

Gulang Yu: Picture of temple.

The island’s main temple.

Gulang Yu: Picture of graveyard.

An old graveyard.

Gulang Yu: Picture of wood carving at the calligraphic museum.

My favorite place on the island was the calligraphic carving museum.

Picture of Shuzhuang Garden.

The walkway through Shuzhuang Garden.

Picture of Shuzhuang Garden.

Shuzhuang Garden.

Gulang Yu: Picture of arch bridge.

The arch bridge.

Gulang Yu: Picture of Katie in a cave.

Katie is in one of the eight caves.

Picture of temple.

One of the temples.

Gulang Yu: Picture of sunset..

Sunset is over an industrial area.

Picture of beach.

The beach.

More photos from Gulang Yu

A Trip to Kinmen Island

Kinmen: Picture of a row of red lanterns.

A row of Lanterns on Kinmen Island.

A few weeks ago, my mom made the long flight to Hong Kong to visit Katie and me. After spending a couple days around our home, the three of us went on a trip. Our first stop was Kinmen Island, which sits close to the Chinese mainland and is controlled by Taiwan. We had quite a whirlwind day to get there: local bus, subway 1, subway 2, Hong Kong customs and immigration, Chinese customs and immigration, high-speed train to Xiamen, bus across Xiamen Island, Chinese customs and immigration, ferry to Kinmen, Taiwanese customs and immigration, van to our hotel. And we still arrived before dinner!

We were exhausted, but excited to explore. That night we checked out the main town on foot. The following day the three of us rented electric scooters and drove them all over the island. It was a fascinating place, rich with history. The vibe was very laid back and the people were quite friendly.

Here are a few photos from Kinmen Island:

Kinmen: Picture of village.

Shuitou village.

Kinmen: Picture of bed and breakfast.

Our Bed and Breakfast.

Kinmen: Picture of lantern and motorcycle in Shuitou.

Lantern and motorcycle.

Kinmen: Picture of Katie in Shuitou.

Yummy baked goods.

Picture of Jincheng temple.

A temple in Jincheng.

Picture of the main temple in Jincheng.

The main temple of Jincheng.

Picture of gateway.

The gateway to shopping.

Picture of a painting of the battle of Kinmen Island.

The battle of Kinmen.

Picture of beach from the battle of Kinmen.

The actual battle site.

Kinmen: Picture of Jinmen phone booth.

The phone booths have the Chinese characters for Jinmen.

Picture of pond and walkway.

While riding our electric scooters, we found this pond and zigzagging walkway.

Kinmen: Picture of Katie in front of dragon boats.

Katie, wearing her electric scooter helmet, in front of some dragon boats we found.

Picture of Dan and Mom in front of temple.

Me with my mom in front of a temple.

Kinmen: Picture of Zhaishan Tunnel.

The Taiwanese military dynamited the Zhaishan Tunnel as a hideout for the navy.

Kinmen: Silhouette of walking through the Zhaishan tunnel toward the sea.

Walking through the Zhaishan tunnel toward the sea.

Picture of Dan walking over the Zhaishan tunnel.

Walking over the Zhaishan tunnel.

Picture of Zhaishan tunnel entrance.

The entrance to the Zhaishan tunnel.

Picture of Katie at Zhaishan tunnel.

Katie is having fun at the tunnel.

Picture of Katie holding a drink in a temple.

Drinks on!

Picture of lake.

The only natural lake on Kinmen Island.

More Kinmen photos