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Below are the 16 most recent journal entries recorded in Backpacking's LiveJournal:

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Wednesday, November 30th, 2011
4:47 pm
Does any of you know anything about tents?

During the last year I have started hiking a lot more than I used to, and I'm starting to be rather annoyed at the limitations not having a tent is putting on my hikes and where I can spend the night outdoors. So I'm hoping someone here will have some advice about what to buy..

I think I would prefer a tent with room for two persons, since I'm often not on my own and I need it to be light and small enough that I can have it in my backpack. I'm Danish and does most of my hiking in Denmark or southern Sweden so no extreme weather conditions to worry about.

Does anyone have any advice?

Current Mood: Hopefull
Sunday, March 6th, 2011
7:56 am
Portraits of West Java Heritage
Anybody had visited to West Java, Indonesia? Let's learn a bit their cultures and traditions. You can also learn more at Bandung tourism

Tradition and Culture

Wayang GolekPrincipally an oral tradition, the people of West Java developed more than 180 forms of artistic expression within 19 clusters, the oldest of these is supposed to be poetry. Traditional epic poems tell of the history and heroes of the people from time immemorial through the Galuh and Pajajaran kingdoms, and continue today. Haji Hasan Mustapa (1852 - 1930) is a giant in the tradition having produced some 10,000 works.

Today the languages of West Java bear an imprint of the oral tradition and remain popular for daily use. They are complex languages attesting to social roles and caste. Puppet plays were often used to transmit both legend and current events and continue to play a role in ceremonial and festive events. West Java is rich also in batik traditions from Tasikmalaya, Garut, Indramayu, and Cirebon.

Traditions handed down the generations mixed with beliefs (nature based and animistic) and religions (Hindu and Islam) formed the culture of the people. Marriages are the joining of families, and socially, most relationships are family-based. Still today a commercial company will refer to itself as a "big family" and seek quasi-familial relationships in day-to-day operations.

Nature and Plantation

With all its active volcanoes, West Java life has always been influenced by the forces of nature, bringing both momentary catastrophe and enduring fertility to the soil. Coastal peoples depend on the richness of the seas and the rhythms of nature form the core identity and very prosperity of West Java.

Colonial power organized the inherent riches with formal cultivation and institutions, providing great wealth for Europe. Plantations crops include tea, coffee, quinine, rubber, copra, sugar, cocoa, and coconut.

Village and City

Traditionally, geography and land use precluded large concentrations of people in the mountainous areas of West Java, but ports on the coasts bustled with trade and business. Villages remain today the most numerous settlements, but cities have burgeoned with population and economic shifts.

Village structures are made with materials at hand: bamboo, rattan, wood, grass, and rock and bonded together through the centuries as stylized and elegant constructions, and organization. Surrounding these villages are the rice paddies and vegetable farms that dictate the local economy.

Cities developed with industrialization and the western imprint is clear. West Java's strategic location and comparatively more comfortable climate made it a target of leisure and academic activities under colonial rule. The capitol, Bandung, was planned to become the capitol of the colony, and bears witness to its 1930's heyday in elegant streetscapes and outstanding architecture.
Friday, February 4th, 2011
12:29 am
4-day backpacking trip in European Russia

4-day backpacking between Staraya Toropa and Zhizhitsa railroad staitions.

Approximate trail length: 60 km/36 miles.

Date: 01-04 November 2008

Our team (left to right):

- Cap, a kind of spirit of backpacking and great guru

- Helenka, a kind of a daemon of outdoor adventures

- Mazur, a kind of a spirit of a fire with a notebook and Esquire magazine

- Your humble servant, a kind of a leader


 Several waypoints and parts of track are available on google maps, thanks to Helen.

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Sunday, November 28th, 2010
8:34 pm
how to carry 6 liters of water
I'm starting a new job for which I'll be required to carry a minimum of 6 liters of water on backcountry treks. Any suggestions for what to carry it in? I don't want to carry six 1L bottles, and I don't want to use juice or soda bottles because the water always picks up the taste.

Most places I've been, I could get water from the environment and felt safe carrying only 2L at a time.
Thursday, September 30th, 2010
12:09 pm
New Zealand: Paparoa National Park

Paparoa National Park

continued from part two

We continued journeying down the west coast from the top of the South Island and it was our goal to stay at this really awesome looking beach b&b called Breakers Boutique. It was our big splurge for the trip and it just sounded awesome- we had to wiggle timings around a little bit, but we made plans to spend the next night down there. The owner Jan was just fantastic to talk to online and her husband is a photographer as well. Seriously, this lady went out of her way to provide custom directions and sights where us photographers should stop. Amazing!

So it was still a few hours away from our previous hotel in Abel Tasman, well more than a few but that’s what I remember it as and so we had to do some hard core driving through the bush to get back over where we needed to be. The one benefit of the West Coast is it is home to many a Blue Penguin (Eudyptula minor). Next to the elusive Puffin it might be my second favorite bird I’ve never seen so we were holding out hope that we might come across one of those little guys. Sure enough as we’re driving down the ‘highway’, ie: two lane road, we start seeing signs warning us to not run them over. With all this excitement we had to see one right?

On the way down was another park called Paparoa National Park which has these water carved rocks called pancake rocks…essentially it’s a tour bus stop, but not too shabby. I had read all about this special cave in the area so we went and found that, got soaked, and used my special REI shopping spree flashlight to look for penguins [I bought it specifically for this purpose]. Sadly none, but we thought we heard a cave bear.

Not far down there’s also a really amazing small hike called the Truman Track which brings you through all sorts of trees and stuff and into a secluded cove [with tons of 'don't touch the Penguins' signs] and a medium sized waterfall that lands right on the beach! Nice! After all this fun we still weren’t seeing any stupid penguins so we decided to go for the gold and head over to Breakers, home of it’s own small colony! Maybe we’ll see some there…that and I was hungry and felt like I was going to pass out from all this sun. I don’t get out much.

As I mentioned Breakers was fantastic and after a quick little bite we took the path down to the beach to go look for penguins and take pictures and do fun things couples do on their year-too-late honeymoon. After we did a little walking we saw this little midget bird hanging out by himself next to a rock…a blue penguin?! It looked kind of blue if you stretched the imagination and it kind of looked penguin’ish. It even waddled a little bit! So we convinced ourselves it was definitely a Blue Penguin and it didn’t seem to mind us getting in nice and close and staring at it, all while giggling quite loud. Not soon after, we were seeing tons of these little guys just hanging out getting bitten by bugs. Sweet! And they totally didn’t fly so they had to be legit!

We enjoyed a gorgeous sunset by ourselves on the beach and with the knowledge that we just saw the long awaited Blue Penguin. Sure enough, as soon as we got back Jan told us that it wasn’t a penguin, but some other random gray sea bird that can’t fly for a bit when it’s wings got wet….seriously. Our excitement was destroyed, and we came away devoured by sand fleas. The little bastards destroyed our legs and we had bite marks for at least 3 weeks after. True story.

Paparoa National Park

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Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
11:13 pm
New Zealand: Abel Tasman National Park [day two]

Sorry I’m just getting around to posting these now, I have a hard drive full of awesome New Zealand photos that I have to share! We’re actually going on our honeymoon v2.0 in a couple months, so I figured I should get the rest of these out of the way first…makes sense!

continued from part one

Abel Tasman National Park

So basically we chose to go to Abel Tasman National Park [up on the top of the South Island] because Tanya wanted a little R&R which we knew we weren’t really going to get elsewhere…being that we were doing a pretty massive roadtrip with some epic long drives ahead. What better place to chill out than along the beach in the sunniest part of the country! Not that we we actually going to sit on the beach or anything…

New Zealand is known for their intense hikes, and it’s not like maybe in the states where you can just pick up and go out for a couple hours- no, their hikes are MULI-DAY DEATH TREKS. Well to us out of shape folks anyway, but seriously, their famous hikes sound awesome until you realize what a multi-day hike really is. Anyway, we weren’t going to attempt that baloney, but instead walk from our little beachside home through the woods to the next little checkpoint of sorts. We had a day to waste, so why not! It also gave us an excuse to go on a shopping spree at REI.

So with this new found ambition we found out the next checkpoint was…8 miles away. Sounds easy enough, so we got our stuff together and here’s what we saw:

Abel Tasman National Park

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Monday, September 13th, 2010
1:56 pm
My best tips on Stockholm

I've just made a post on my personal LJ on my home-city, sometimes referred to as the ‘Venice of the North'. I thought some of the people in this community might enjoy reading it too. :-)

Now I grew up in the suburbs of Stockholm – so my real know-how didn’t come about until I started work at a once were, tad infamous alternative bar (called ‘Trash Bar’):  a great, but somewhat wacky & mayhemish spell in which I was given the chance to join & merge with the deepest, vibrating roots of my own city. Nowadays I am uprooted, but the really good places have a tendency to live long (& last time I checked they still were!) so my top favorites are still running & heaving on as undauntedly as ever!

 Stockholm is a city with great café culture & curiosa/creative design shops. So to start of, these are the CAFE’s to earmark: 
1. Cafe String - Nytorgsgatan 38 (south part). You can buy anything here: the chairs you sit on & the cups you drink from. It's like sitting in the middle of a curiosa shop, and you can play board games whilst spending time with your friends.
2. Blå Lotus -  Katarina Bangata 21(south part). A haven of brash colours & arabic lanterns. Vegan friendly if I recall correct. :-)
3. There are also a handful of atmospheric old cellar cafes in Gamla Stan (old town) that serve excellent waffles! Cosying up in one of them is especially nice on a winter visit.  If into cakes, try also the green marsipan covered 'Prinsess tarta'.

~ For DINNER (aim for 6 pm as after that the worthwhile places get really busy!) go to:
1.  'Restaurang Peppar' ~ Torsgatan 34. Wonderful cajun food had in classic, simple but curiosa clad surrounding. Do try the spicy bread!
2.  'Koh Phangan' ~ Skånegatan 57. Walk into a different world of bamboo booths & old dusty jeeps to sit in whilst cikadas sing in the background & fairy-lights blink overhead.  A lovely place that never fails! 
3.      I don’t go for Swedish food restaurants when home, but this old classic place comes recommended on the web: Pelikan.
4.      Or just get off at ‘Medborgarplatsen’ tube stop in the south part and browse the area; not only are nearly all the quirky restaurants here, but nearly all the bars too! For those who are familiar with ‘Garlic & Shots’, the original Broderna Olsson restaurant is here.

koh phangan below:
~ CLUBBING : fail, fail, fail… Stockholm just isn’t a clubbing city. Mainly due to a lack of venues (...or that’s my impression). Hence most people stroll from bar to bar in the south part or dip into old town. However, I know a few places for those into alternative goth music:
clubs...Collapse )
~ Lastly where to stay:  well, not in a hotel! Not that they aren’t nice, but don't spend lots of money when Stockholm has the most amazing lovely hostels right in the city, mainly boats – and some also offer private rooms! 
Ships, boats & a prison to rest in...Collapse )

Ship... (af Chapman)                                                                          or  prison...
* sorry if typo looks weird - I cut & pasted it from my LJ and unfortunately don't have time to clean it up!

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
10:27 pm
Iceland in October
Hello out there in travel land!

Kind of a shot in the dark, but I'm putting this out there. My travel partner to Iceland has bailed on me due to a very complicated situation with immigration, but I already have a plane ticket for a short exercusion to Iceland from October 1-10.

Anyone thinking of heading that way during those dates? Maybe want a hiking buddy, a scuba diving buddy, a museum partner, a drinking buddy? Maybe just a buddy for a couple of days?
11:56 am
Cinque Terre
Hi All,

Hoping that you guys can help me.

I'm planning to go to Cinque Terre from Cannes, one weekend in October. I want to get some costings done and packing planning, so would appreciate if you could help me out.

1. I've tried to check out the trenitalia website but they aren't able to give me the cost of the return from Cannes to one of the towns - I read that it goes direct to Riomaggiore?
2. Are there backpacker hostels that you can recommend there, and how much a night? I'm not fussy about how many beds in a room, etc.
3. Is it possible to stay in one town and move around the other towns and return back to the base town in the evening?
4. What is the cost for the trains from each town?

I really hope you guys can help me out, thanks guys!

(x-posted in _backpackers and eurotravel.)

Current Mood: excited
Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
1:15 pm
best pack and Iceland, Faroe Islands, Denmark, Scotland
I've done a lot of cheap/budget traveling, but I'm planning my first "real" backpacking trip for September to Iceland, Faroe Islands, Denmark, and Scotland - about a month total. I'm buying my first pack and would love some advice.

Right now I'm looking at the High Sierra Railpass '26. http://www.amazon.com/High-Sierra-Railpass-Travel-Graphite/dp/B000H87G4I/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=apparel&qid=1280857896&sr=8-3

I think its got everything I want except a built in rain cover I've seen some of them with. But the price is definitely right.

I'm also thinking about the same pack in '29 inches - their they're the same price but I'm not sure what the size difference really is and can't get to the store to look.

I'm 5'9 and broad shouldered for a women, so think a man's pack would fit me best.

Any advice on this or another pack or any of my destinations is most appreciated.

Friday, July 30th, 2010
1:36 pm
Petra, Jordan
I'm not sure if this is allowed but i wanted to link to my photos from my backpacking trip around the Middle East. Namely, Israel, Egypt and Jordan. There were too many to post, so I thought it would be easier for you all to see them in my photo gallery from Facebook.





Monday, July 19th, 2010
11:11 am
Iceland Road Trip – Part Six

The final days of my Iceland roadtrip were spent driving around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula on the Western coastline. For the first time on my trip I had a decent amount of rain which thankfully included really nice dramatic clouds [and not blinding swan-dive off road fog like usual].

Driving Snaefellsnes Peninsula Iceland Photos

Photos by Ian Grant Photography / Facebook

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Saturday, July 17th, 2010
7:25 am
ATTN: backpackers with a .edu email address
Amazon is offering a free 1 year subscription to Amazon Prime (Free 2 day shipping, $3.99 overnight shipping): http://amzn.to/bSH8jP

This is being marketed towards college students but all you need is a valid .edu email address, so teachers and alumni can benefit from this too!

Now is a time that I wish I was still in college. Oh well, what can you do?
Thursday, July 15th, 2010
12:33 pm
Iceland Road Trip – Part Five

Getting to Seyðisfjörður up in the north-east was way too much of a pain in the butt [mostly because I decided to drive too far in one day, per the usual] but this photo below was basically the end of my day. Mountain pass to get down into the valley. I knew something was up when I started getting ice warnings on my car and then suddenly it was white out conditions with snow on either side and some of the thickest fog I’ve seen in a while. Pretty cool though, wouldn’t want to be doing that drive in the winter however…

Iceland Photography Driving on the Ring Road

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Monday, July 12th, 2010
3:06 pm
Iceland Road Trip – Part Four

The one place I wish I spent more time in was the Eastern Fjords of Iceland. It happened to be the day that I was going to pull a 6-7 hour drive [more like 9-10] north from Vik to Seyðisfjörður and I found myself stopping and running around every 2 minutes. There were a lot of dirt roads in this stretch, but nothing too bad…you just had to watch out for baby sheep.

Iceland Photography Eastern Fjords Ring Road

Images by Ian Grant Photography // Facebook

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Friday, July 9th, 2010
10:32 am
Iceland Road Trip – Part Three

This part really centers on the eastern area of Iceland’s ring road which is home to many a roadside glacier. It’s funny because as your driving along you pass a bend and are like ‘wow, that’s the most beautiful glacier I’ve ever seen!’ and then you drive a little further ‘Whoa! That one is even better!’ which goes on for a good couple hours. Flocks of swans flying parallel to your car with icecap mountains in the background helps too.

It’s really pretty amazing and at one point you find yourself driving directly towards the biggest glacier you’ve ever seen [literally the biggest in Europe] while 2 other huge ones are on either side of you. If I had a 4×4 I would’ve been able to get closer, but frankly at this point in my journey I wasn’t going to put my car through too much more. Some of the roads to the glaciers were a little too hard core for my little beast of a car. After my car stuck incident my survival instincts [Tanya's voice in my head saying 'Ian bad! Death!'] was in full swing.

Iceland Photography Eastern Ring Road

Images by Ian Grant Photography // Facebook

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