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travel

Tanzania Kilimanjaro Road Trip

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Tanzania Kilimanjaro Road Trip

At one weekend in July, my friend and I spontaneously went for a road trip around Kilimanjaro. 

From Moshi to Simba Farm where we camped, it was around 3-4 hours. Engare Nairobi to Moshi was another 7 hours. Can't remember the exact time we spent since we both love photography and stopped pretty often for shooting. 

This was my second time to Simba Farm. Check out my first adventure here. Camping here at night was really nice - way too nice for us tbh. It was also very cold... thanks my friend got a sleeping bag for me or I would not survive....

When we left at the second day, my friend found out we got flat tire. The only spare tire in the car was much smaller than it should be. The worker in Simba Farm helped us to install the spare tire. We were planning driving slowly back to town call it a day. Then we found some workers were welding the rims in Engare Nairobi - where my friend described it as wildwest in 50'.

2USD and my very limited Swahili - we got our tires fixed and well-fed by mama and continued our road trip.

The trip was amazing! Along the way we saw deserted area, prairie, artificial pine forest, Masai people, kids playing soccer... we were waving and greeting to everyone we saw. Most of them happily greeted us with their big smile. Of course sometimes we got "mzungu!!" in greetings too. (mzungu = white people)

Well then we found out no gas in tank. Had no idea when we would reach the next gas station. All we could do was keeping driving and finger crossed. 

Found a dukani (store) selling petro by litters. We added 2L and kept searching for gas station. Luckily we didn't need to push our car in the middle of the road in this journey.

Adventure, unexpected events, beautiful view, glamping, nice local people and great mzungu traveling buddy - couldn't ask for more.

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Tanzania Maasai Tribe

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Tanzania Maasai Tribe

At the end of Jun, a local invited me to a safari trip to Lake Manyara. It was exciting to see wild animals wandering freely in forest and prairie. The lake is breathtakingly beautiful - in my opinion it's more like an attraction than wildlife. If you're interested in migration, you might consider Serengeti or Ngorongoron National Park. 

The next day, we rented bikes and rode to a Masai tribe around Mto Wa Mbu, Arusha. It was a bumpy journey that I felt my full body jiggling the whole time. 

I'm glad he took me to this Maasai family that I was finally able to witness Maasai lifestyle. This was not a tourist trip so no one would wrap me around the Maasai blanket and ask me to jump with them. (I hate tourist scheme- a cheesy and unauthentic play) 

Maasai is one of the few tribes that still keeps their own lifestyle. However, it's gradually changing now- some conservative Maasai live in the inland still insisted their nomadic lifestyle, custom (circumcision- it's still a common practice even though it has been banned by the government), traditional thinking (they don't value the education that much), the way of sustaining (they sell livestocks for money and then purchase commodities); other Maasai are looking for a better life and try to find a job in city (such as Arusha or Dar es Salaam).

This 6-year-old girl was smearing cow dung on the hut to strengthen the wall. He dress was messed up with cow dung. I asked if she used the soap washing her hands afterwards. "Only water" her sister replied. "Are people here educated to use soap?" "Yes but we have no soap." she shrugged.

Most Masaai girls are not considered to be educated- some of them will be arranged getting married around 12 years old so the family can get livestocks as dowry. The 17-year-old girl in the picture was lucky enough to go to secondary school since her father valued education.

They were constructing a toilet - from digging a big hold then will cover a canvas on the top with a small hole. The idea of toilet was probably absurd for traditional Maasai - they usually go pee or poo anywhere. To control the spread of disease, the government has been trying to introduce toilet to Maasai.

**Currently I'm doing volunteer project about design education in Tanzania. For project details, please visit: liatanzania.com

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Tanzania Simba Farm

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Tanzania Simba Farm

Last weekend my host’s friends, an American and Japanese couples who volunteered in my host’s NGO ten years ago and now came back with their kids, mentioned Simba Farm was one of their favorite places in Tanzania. It’s not far from Boma, the town I live so I decided to check it out. 

Based on Google map, I can get there by car in an hour, if I had a car. Since I’m here volunteering, have very low budget on everything and sincerely prefer living in the local way, walking, taking dala-dala and boda-boda was the way to go.

It was an adventure. That day was a movie.

I walked to Boma standy (“station” in Swahili) for about 30 min and took a dala-dala to Sanyajuu which my host, John, suggested. 8AM it was chilly; may be cold in Tanzanian’s pov. Squeezed in dala-dala - not so surprised since it’s how it is in T- 12 people in supposed-to-be-7-seated van. I enjoyed the breeze from the slightly-opened window blowing on my face. My face resembled the facial expression that a dog has when it sticks out of the car window.  The dala-dala slowed down and the sound of turning key and the reluctant crying from engine repeated. People hustled out and kept babbling. Despite knowing nothing about what they were talking, I got the hint that I should move out and wait along the side of the road. Another dala-dala came with full, some people got in and sat at the back of the van. Before that moment I didn’t realise the space was enough for human being. Luckily the waiting was not long- our dala-dala somehow worked again. But the number of passenger somehow remained the same even though some of them were already shipped away. 

Anyway, I got to Sanyajuu. Then another dala-dala.

Second time I got off, I arrived Engare Nairobi, a sandy town.

Negotiated with the rider of boda-boda with gesture, got on the motorcycle and started the bumpy journey. My nose bump on his helmet once. It started to drizzle. I got my raincoat in the courtesy of John’s suggestion. Finally it turned left to the small road where the Simba Farm sign stood. After few minutes of riding uphill, we stopped at a gate. A guy led me into the farm, then another woman led me into the house. 

What the…. This place is not Tanzania!!

Westernized lush garden decorated with numerous different kinds of blossoms created a stark contrast to the places I just went through. Two big dogs welcomed me full-heartedly. I ordered a coffee only because I was shocked by how nice the place was and afraid that I would also be shocked how high the price is. 

Surprisingly, coffee with cookies was only 2000 shilling (1 USD). 

I couldn’t help imagine myself a princess in my own private garden. I was the only visitor since it was Jumanne (Tuesday). That was the only day I could read more than 20 pages of Infinite Jest, a book more than 1000 pages. Lying on the chair, I figured out why this was the American couple’s favorite. This place is perfect for mzungu honeymoon. If your gf was crying, bring her here.

After chilling 3 hours, I had to head back for class. Dogs accompanied me going down the road and happily ran into vegetable farm. A woman called me when I almost arrived at the main road. She just wanted to find the dogs. 

Kept walking down the road, a boda-boda stopped and asked where I was going. “Engare Nairobi.” He gestured 5 (5000 shilling). I shook my head and gestured 3. He insisted and I decided to keep walking. Walked not too long then found a dala-dala going to Engare, 500 shilling. Driver opened the back of the van, there were already three people. I crammed into and pulled my foot when the door was shut. My face was only few centimeters to the door. Breathing the stagnant air, riding on the bumpy road, sweating in the raincoat, seeing the dust blew out at the rear of the car.

Got back to the dusty Engare. Couldn’t see any other dala-dala. People stared at me and a girl laughed and yelled “mzungu!”. 

Feeling extremely hungry, I squatted at the side of the road waiting. Dust kept coming up when boda-boda passing by. 

A big truck was loaded with some people and big bags of vegetables. Some people standing on the ground were asking for something. Somehow I got the hint that the truck probably could take me somewhere. I approached one guy and asked “Sanyajuu? Boma?” “Boma!” 

YES!!! It will go to Boma!

He took me to the front seat of the truck. Based on the German spec and dark green paint, I assumed it was an old German military truck. It was another bumpy and strenuous journey since I had to hold the bar on the door to support half of my weight while half of my butt was out of the seat. 

Truck stopped and some people dropped off. Some people got on from the middle of semi-desert. My right arm got a little relived whenever the truck stopped.

Finally it dropped me at Boma. Jumped down the truck and found myself exhausted. Walked for a while until I found a share tuk-tuk. Got home and went to the neighbour where my host asked to keep the key. They said the kid, who was also my student, had the key and he was gone. 

He was GONE.

I almost fainted by low blood sugar. After calling my host, who promised to come back asap, I desperately looked for food. Directed by some local people, I found a doorway with curtain where they said the food was. It was like part of a family house but also served other people. Rice and beef they asked for 2000 shilling. I felt it was overpriced based on what they served but at that moment I wouldn’t care!! 

7:30pm I finally got home. Long day.

I would love to go back to Simba Farm if I'm ready for an adventure again.

*I'm currently doing volunteer project about design education in Tanzania. For project details: liatanzania.com

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Hogwarts in Scotland - Glasgow

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Hogwarts in Scotland - Glasgow

Before going back to California from Berlin, I went to Glasgow to visit my friend who is studying in the University of Glasgow. It was also Halloween so we went out to some bars and club. While waiting in line, I couldn't understand what people were talking so I turned back and asked a guy "What language are you speaking?". "English." he replied. "Why couldn't I understand at all?" "We use a lot of slangs."
I thought they were talking in Scottish.

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Castle on the hill - Edinburgh

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Castle on the hill - Edinburgh

Nov 1st. Sunday. 2015 One day trip with my friend who is studying in the University of Glasgow

Nov 1st. Sunday. 2015
One day trip with my friend who is studying in the University of Glasgow

I applied different style in every article since blogging is the way I record my life and also improve design skill. But I've tired of spending hours looking up on Pinterest, design inspiration website for the new style, selecting photos and editing them. This one will simply be photo-blogging. 

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Yellow-tinted Autumn @ Copenhagen

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Yellow-tinted Autumn @ Copenhagen

Copenhagen is my favorite city so far (well, I've only been to Amsterdam and Prague...). The tree leaves turned red and yellow falling down on the grass; sunshine projected through the branches and created patterns on the pathway; ran into a nicely-designed cafe where the choice of lighting, pillows and furnitures was just right; hanging out with my friend who is a contemporary dancer I met in Berlin and also the reason why I traveled to Copenhagen.

Night bus is 8 hours ride including getting on the boat for about an hour. I would suggest booking the flight earlier so you can get a good price and it's only an hour. Copenhagen is quite a small city that you can just walk or bike around. 

Walking in this beautiful park is like a dream for me since there's nothing like this in Taiwan neither LA. Everything is just beautiful in Copenhagen. (Some people even complain it's way too beautiful)

Yellow, yellow, yellow.

Christiania is an interesting place that you can buy weed on the street. I didn't know much about it but it seems like an independent municipal. You can bring your sleeping bag there and find a free place to stay.
I would suggest going to Paper island, just at the other side of Nyhavn. There's a building where you can find street food from all over the world. Sitting on the bank while enjoying good food and the view towards Nyhavn is quite enjoyable.

Nyhavn.jpg

My fav cafe so farrrrrrrrrr

Copenhagen is more expensive than Berlin for sure. But it's still acceptable. I've lived in San Francisco for 4 months this summer so I feel the price is reasonable. Paris, Zürich, Oslo are the places that I can't afford to travel right now...

oh ho ho ho.... I love this! It seems not hard to make it by yourself. I'm gonna try to make this for my lunch! (Please let me know if you have a good resource of recipe / ingredient / tips!)

Previous article: Listen to my Berlin diary (my drawing)

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Walk into the fairy tale - Prague

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Walk into the fairy tale - Prague

Prague is definitely beautiful and I really enjoyed this trip. However, my credit card was stolen there and the fraud guy spent 3000 euro online in a day... I already canceled the card but it made me have a mix feeling. 

Kutna Hora is a small town one hour away from Prague by train. I would recommend you to check it out if you have some free time. Bone church is what it's famous for but there are more to be explored. I went there on Saturday and it was relatively quiet since some of the shops were closed. 

Trdelník - This is the Bohemian traditional dessert you can easily find on the street. I LOVE it!! So delicious but it's very sweet (since there's tons of sugar on it). Must try if you travel to Prague. 

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Drinking, Singing and Dancing in Oktoberfest @ Munich

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Drinking, Singing and Dancing in Oktoberfest @ Munich

I'm pretty lucky to get a seat in Oktoberfest @Munich thanks to INSEAD people. A lot of people said it was very touristy (especially German) and yes it was. I still had a lot of fun since this was also INSEAD 15J reunion. (I was an exchange student earlier this year)

I haven't been to any Oktoberfest before so everything was interesting to me: people wearing Dirndl got so drunk (everywhere! U-Bahn! on the street!) ate, drank and danced in the huge tent. Mostly white people there and I was the only (Eastern) Asian girl in that tent...

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Eat Pray Fun @ Bangkok Thailand

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Eat Pray Fun @ Bangkok Thailand

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This trip happened when I was studying in INSEAD, Singapore earlier this year. (It's a 4 month exchange program) The flight from Singapore to Bangkok was dirt cheap and we stayed in hostel which cost like nothing. We tried different sorts of street food and took tuk tuk or public transportation. The trip didn't cost much and the experience was amazing.

Here's the list I would recommend you to try in Bangkok:

I don't recommend transgender show because I'm not into that and I watched it when I was a child. (I've traveled to Thailand several times.) 

I also have to put something straight: there are lots of scams in Bangkok. TONS! Taxi drivers, tuk tuk drivers, random people on the street, travel agency, jewelry store, hospital... That really pissed me off after a rough day of being scammed. Most people are nice and it's safe in general. Just do some research on google (such as *tuk tuk / jewelry / scam*) and you still can have fun in the trip.

Definitely take a train to Ayutthaya! The package offered in travel agency is overpriced and they will tell you it's impossible to rent a motorbike there. (I asked them why and they couldn't answer.....)

I would recommend renting motorbike because it's pretty hot there. I often rode motorbike when I was in Taiwan so it was lots of fun for me!

Cooking class was lots of fun! The teacher was funny and explained every ingredient patiently. I'm not gonna lie: the dishes I made that day were so delicious! But I never try to make it by myself afterwards haha. (They also provided the printed recipe.)

Silom Thai Cooking School @ Bangkok

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Afternoon wandering @ Potsdam

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Afternoon wandering @ Potsdam

After studying German in a cafe, The Barn, near my apartment, I decided to do something to relax myself. (Seriously, German totally fried my brain...). Potsdam is one hour away from my place. I didn't do any research before I went there so everything was surprise. 

It's an adorable town with brick buildings, nice cafe, and also beautiful garden.

It was a very satisfying short trip ending with breathtaking sunset.

Previous article: Happy 27th birthday @ Amsterdam

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