The Ski Instructor of Sri Lanka

I’m often asked how it is to travel by myself. If I’m not scared. If I don’t get lonely. If I’m not afraid that the sky may fall on my head tomorrow.

A Ski Instructor by himself in a snowy landscape
No, Sri Lanka looks nothing like this. Definitely not.
(Photo: Sondrekv, Påske, detail, cropped to 2:3, , CC0 1.0)

The answer has always been no – and meeting Sri Lanka’s only ski instructor was clearly another proof that travelling solo is a great chance to come across people that open up to you in a blink of an eye.

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JAPAN for First Timers: An Adjustable Guide

Are you planning on going to Japan for the first time?
Being all excited?
Wondering what to expect?
Having a million questions?
Well, I recently came back from my first big Japan-adventure and let me tell you: It was just overwhelming; in a good way!

Geisha with phone in Kyoto
Beautifully dressed up for Japan.

I had the chance to travel for three weeks. However, I know that not everybody has the opportunity to leave for so long. Therefore, based on my itinerary, I put together a travel guide. You can adjust it individually to your personal trip – for one, two, or three weeks in the Land of the Rising Sun.

日本へようこそ – Nihon e yōkoso – Welcome to Japan!

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TOKYO – introduction to 10 extraordinary neighborhoods

Tokyo – my first encounter with Japanese everyday life and culture – left a good impression and prepared me for more to come.

Students at Tokyo in Japan
A warm and fun welcome to Tokyo by these sweet ambassadors.

Tokyo – the first cut is the deepest. However, this one didn’t hurt at all. So let me introduce you to 10 extraordinary neighborhoods.

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KAWAGUCHIKO – taking a shot at Mount Fuji

I’ve heard that there are people travelling periodically to the region west of Tokyo just to take a good shot of Mount Fuji.

A shot of Mount Fuji seen from Kawaguchiko in Japan
This is the picture I wanted to shoot. I didn’t. The person credited below did. (Photo: Kpravin2, Mount Fuji Japan with Snow, Lakes and Surrounding Mountains, CC BY-SA 4.0)

This majestic, perfectly shaped volcano – that erupted lastly in 1707 – seems to be hiding behind clouds most of the time. Therefore, it can be a challenge – or a hobby – hunting the best view. Or at least a glimpse.

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NAGOYA – enjoy the ordinary

Tourist attraction wise, Nagoya has by far less to offer than Tokyo or let alone Kyoto.

bye:myself at Nagoya Castle in Japan
Shogun for a day.

Brands like Mitsubishi, Toyota, and even Shinkansen are all settled in Nagoya. I assume they sound more familiar than the city’s own name.

I guess that’s the reason why most foreign visitors just skip Japan’s fourth-largest city located on the Pacific coast in favor of the more glamorous metropolis.

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CAMBODIA – a complete travel guide

“…now you can go where people are one
Now you can go where they get things done
What you need my son:
Is a holiday in Cambodia
Where people dress in black
A holiday in Cambodia
Where you’ll kiss ass or crack…”

This is an excerpt from the song “Holiday in Cambodia” by the US band “The Dead Kennedys”. They were a punk band, hence the lyrics are meant to grate on you in their very cynical way.

And as a matter of fact, Cambodia has always been a synonym for murder and destruction and by no means a holiday destination; apart from Angkor, Asia’s most important sanctuary, that has been a World Heritage Cultural site since 1992.

Two monks admiring the model of Angkor Wat at the Preah Vihear Preah Keo Morakot at Phnom Penh
Also, monks were prosecuted during the Khmer Rouge regime.

Only when my friend Philippe told me about his plans of travelling to Cambodia, I took into consideration that it might be an interesting destination and a country worth exploring. I decided following his example.

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PHNOM PENH – a guide to Cambodia’s provincial capital

Phnom Penh hasn’t much to impress. On the other hand, it surprises by being probably the world’s most provincial city with more than two million inhabitants in the metropolitan area.

Street Scene from Phnom Penh
One of the main streets of Phnom Penh – still having a certain provincial flair.

It’s rare to travel a country and not missing much by avoiding its capital. Actually there are tourists who do not make it to Phnom Penh at all. They go from Bangkok to Siem Reap and from there straight to Sihanoukville from where they cross the border to Vietnam via Kampot and Kep; and that’s it.

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SIHANOUKVILLE – Cambodia’s most popular beach town

Sihanoukville is Cambodia’s most popular beach town, however, it has a rather bad reputation – particularly among European tourists and travellers.

Sokha beach in SIHANOUKVILLE - Cambodia's most popular beach town
Tranquil Sokha Beach

But I find that already this picture shows that Sihanoukville absolutely has its nice corners and can be the perfect gateway to various great locations.

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KEP – Cambodia between crabs and rice fields

Kep – probably the most underestimated town in Cambodia – has it all. The rice fields in the backdrop of grand mountains, a crab market with all the exotic treats, a nice little beach where Cambodian families are enjoying food, drinks, and each other’s company right on the sidewalks or in one of the simple cabanas.

Crab Marekt in KEP - Cambodia between crabs and rice fields
One of the numberless fish hawkers on the famous Crab Market in Kep.

After having been in distress when visiting Koh Rong Samloem in unfavorable weather conditions, I sought shelter for one night in Sihanoukville. The next morning, I took off to explore some of Cambodia’s countryside where everything feels just so settling.

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