As foreigner in Istanbul during Quarantine | Karantina İstanbul'da VLOG #54

The first 1000 people who click the link will get 2 free months of Skillshare Premium: https://skl.sh/travelcomic3 

➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸➸

It’s April here in Istanbul and Turkey is at a point where the country has the fastest rising number of COVID-19 infections. In the world. Istiklal street, where usually a million people pass through every single day, is empty.

There is nobody around Galata tower, Kadiköy is empty, the streets of Besiktas empty. The mosques are closed for communal prayer, almost all shops stopped their business, flights, border crossings and travels between cities are suspended. Schools closed. People are ordered to work from home. To stay at home.

Everyone under the age of 20 and over 65 is ordered to stay at home. At all times. All citizens have to wear a facemask when shoppin or visiting crowded places. There are disinfectants, signs that remind of the social distance and the police make sure that there are no crowds outside.

This is a time we can only pass if we all stick together. Well.. together but separately


Traveling to Saudi Arabia for the first time

There are 195 countries in our world and as a traveler there is one country I’ve always dreamed to go to.

And this country is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

It piqued my interest because it seemed so hard, almost impossible, to obtain a visa as a casual traveler back in the days. 

And as I love the unknown and contrasts in general, Saudi Arabia was always high on my list of the countries I wanted to visit at least once in my life.

And out of the blue in September 2019 KSA announced to finally open its doors to foreigners from more than 50 countries. I just had to apply for the evisa online, pay 115 USD and A few minutes later I got my visa inside my email box.

And A few weeks later I found myself inside the country I never thought I would see with my own eyes this soon.

As one of the most conservative countries in the world with a lot of rules and different traditions KSA had quite a bad reputation thanks to the media. Which made everybody think that the kingdom has only 2 things to offer:

Its holy places and oil reserves.

But as we all know the media is only showing a small percentage of reality. So I decided to go there without any judgement and spent 4 weeks there to find out what the kingdom really has to offer to its visitors. And this is what I found out:

1 Different Culture –

Let’s get right into it: There are a lot of rules and customs which don’t always make sense to other people with a different background but those rules still have to be followed and respected. And isn’t it the best thing ever to understand how life looks like in a different part of this world? And KSA is handling a lot of things differently than a lot of other countries do. 

I could have never imagined to enter a restaurant from a different side than my male friends or even let life stop around me for 5 times a day because it’s prayer time. Driving around for hours and only seeing desert and camels or drinking boiled coffee that tastes more fragrant than any other coffee I ever had. People are dressed differently and so are the laws: Different. 

2 Hospitable and helpful people –

When things are different we normally tend to feel insecure or not really knowing what to expect. And for me that was the case with Saudi Arabia. I had no idea about Saudi Arabia’s people. Well, people are really nice and I didn’t expect that people in this country are so so kind that they would invite us to their homes, show us the greatest hospitality, helping us when we didn’t even ask for it and becoming friends in a very short time. A country is best understood through its people and KSA is home to a very diverse and mixed population.

3 Food –

As diverse as the people are so is the food. A lot of yemeni, indian, turkish and persian dishes can be found all over the countrs and it’s very very delicious.

4 Great nature –

Yes, more than half the area of Saudi Arabia is desert, but the other half is not and whatever you prefer- the nature is stunning and can range from mountains, to oceans, from hot and humid to cold weather. There are camels and monkeys. Flowers and coconut trees.

5 Safety –

Yes, the country is safe for travelers. It’s safe for women to travel alone. I am nobody who can fully judge this but I know that I would go back as a solo female traveler, because I never felt really uncomfortable. People are very respectful in general and always try to help. Men can be a little bit more curious than usual and cultural differences can be overwhelming but in general there is no need to worry too much as a female traveler. The most dangerous part about traveling in KSA is the traffic as there seem to be no rules and everybody drives like a mad person.

Visiting KSA was a dream come true and learning about this place and its culture was the true definition of traveling to me. The infrastructure is still bad, tourists can barely get around without renting a car, westernized customs aren’t understood everywhere, there are a lot of undiscovered places, people are curious and friendly. The food is authentic and traditions are still seen on the streets. Yes, KSA is a different world to me and I’ll probably never fully understand this country but that’s why I will never forget my visit and for sure will come back in the future to learn more about KSA.


The internet is watching you | That's why I never travel without VPN (Get Surfshark VPN!)

As you probably know.. I am from Germany. And growing up in a country with free and open internet I never really thought about how it is like to face censorship online.

Well, little did I know that I would move to one of the world’s most restrictive countries for the internet. Welcome to Turkey.

With more than 200,000 websites blocked including Wikipedia and even temporarily YouTube and Twitter living in Turkey makes it a little bit harder when it comes to moving freely around in the www.

But it can get worse. It’s not only Turkey. If you are a traveler, it will affect you at one point without any doubt.

Censorship in other countries

In North Korea: All websites are under government control. And more than 95% of the population has NO access to the internet. At all.

Saudi Arabia: No chance to access any website that are subject to Shia Islam, drug use, LGBT rights, pornography, gambling, circumventing the filter, criticism of the Kingdom, and much more. More than 400,000 websites are blocked.

Iran: Just recently in November, there was a week-long total internet shut down. Internet speed is restricted. 35% of the world’s most visited websites are blocked.

And let’s not forget the king of internet censorship: China. China has the most extensive censorship program in the whole world.The great firewall of china makes it impossible to access websites like Twitter, FB, Youtube, Wikipedia or any google services. The government monitors your individual internet access and watches every step you take.

And there are many many more other countries that regulate the internet. If you are living in one of them or just traveling through, you may still want to get access to the free internet. 

The solution: a VPN

The easiest way to access blocked websites, apps, and services in those countries is to use a VPN. When I traveled to China I had the problem that even most of the VPNs were inaccessible and only a few ones would work.

So you should definitely set yourself up even before you enter such country. One of the few VPNs that worked for me without slowing down my internet connection was for example SurfShark VPN.

A VPN is a must have for me, no matter where I am, because it also protects my own privacy by encrypting my internet connection and my personal data. 

It ensures that nobody can see what I do online and on top of that, they block ads, trackers, malware and phishing attempts. 

So how does it work? It only takes one click and my phone is connected. That’s it and it works on as many devices as I’d like at the same time.

So there are 3 main reasons why I’m using a VPN:

1) It saves mobile data and ensures faster browsing by blocking ads.

2) It protects me from data thieves who seek for my passwords, credit card information and so on while using public Wi-Fi. And I got hacked a lot of times before.

3) And of course because it lets me move around freely in the internet without restrictions.

If you need a VPN or simply wanna try it out go to this website. They offer one of the best VPNs on the market with a great discount.

The internet never forgets

Censorship in the internet is there for a reason. In some cases it protects us from harmful content like child pornography, terrorism or hate speech, but in other cases it just makes our life really difficult by blocking useful information. I believe that everyone should have the right to freedom of expression. We should have the right to have access to a diversity of online news media and the right to express ourselves.

Be aware that circumventing censorship may be illegal in some cases, so do some research on the laws and be always careful what you post on the internet. It’s the only place that does not forget.

Here is the link https://surfshark.deals/travelcomic to get 83% off and one extra month free.

PROMO CODE: “travelcomic”


My Last Pakistan VLOG

It was my last day in Pakistan. Did I ever think that I would spend a whole month in Pakistan? Probably not, but I am so grateful and glad that I did. It was truly a life-changing experience and I will never forget my time in Pakistan.

The last week was spent exploring the Hunza area, traveling to Gulmit, Misgir, Sost and finally crossing to China at the Khunjerab Pass. My time in Pakistan was wild! For sure I will come back to see my new friends again and to tell more stories about this great country.

This was a very personal and emotional video for me and it’s very hard for me to express what I felt with words. It wasn’t my typical travel experience. Every day was different and special.

I crossed Balochestan, took a long night train to Lahore, became friends with a pakistani family on the very first day, explored Pakistans capital and surroundings, dressed up as a pakistani bride in Peshawar (my favorite part hehe) and went on a big roadtrip through Pakistan’s northern area. I hitchhiked and finally crossed the border to China. It was a beautiful and unforgettable time 💛

I hope I can come back and also see the south of Pakistan. 

Drone shots by Adeel! Check out his Instagram. He is an amazing traveler @adeelamer 


The Perfect Roadtrip to Explore Taiwan (2 weeks itinerary)

Taiwan is one of my favorite countries for several reasons. 

One of them is how easy and fun it is to explore the island.

And there is no better way than having an epic road trip in Taiwan – especially because the roads are safe and you can reach the most beautiful parts of the island without rushing.

So that’s what I did. I went on a two week road trip drive round Taiwan.

And that was kind of an epic adventure!

1. How to rent a car in Taiwan as a foreigner (e.g. with Chailease)

Renting a car in Taiwan is quite easy and usually not a big hassle. Keep in mind that it is required to bring your passport, driver’s licence as well as an international driving permit and you’re good to go!

To find a good car for the road trip there are a few local Taiwanese car rental companies. Some of them are:

  • Chailease Auto Rental (中租租車): They are located all around Taiwan and that’s the one I used for my road trip. They were very professional, easy communication and super friendly service.
  • EasyRent (和運租車)
  • CarPlus (格上租車)
  • Formosa Car Rental (九龍租賃)

It’s easy to book the car rental online and availability can be checked via hotlines as well.

I booked the car a week in advance and just went to the pick up location, showed them my documents and I was ready to start my adventure!

Taiwan has a great public transportation system and it is possible to go anywhere. BUT to fully experience the landscapes and enjoying the coast lines and hidden spots – a car makes everything so much easier.

2. The route (2 weeks itinerary)

To fully drive round Taiwan you should plan to stay at least two weeks on the island. Taiwan has so many things to offer! Ranging from tropical forests to beautiful coast lines, hidden waterfalls and vibrant cities.

Taiwan really has it all which makes it difficult to pick the best spots but the good part? A road trip is always spontanoues and gives you the freedom to go wherever it takes you.

Nevertheless, there are some hot spots in Taiwan you definitely shouldn’t miss! So here is my 2-weeks itinerary for a perfect road trip in Taiwan:

Click here to get to the google maps link for a detailed route.

Day 1-2 Taipei:

Taipei is the capital of Taiwan and should definitely not be missed out! It has so many things to offer that you can easily spend weeks there without getting bored and it is the best place to rent your car. My highlights for Taipei are visiting the night markets, seeing the city from above of Taipei 101 tower, strolling around in the endless shopping districts, visitng the National Palace Museum and the national Chiang Kai-Chek Memorial.

Day 3: Taichung (→ 170km, 3 hours drive):

Taichung is definitely one of my favorite cities in Taiwan! it is more laid back and you can eat great sea food here. Make sure to check out the instagrammable Rainbow Village for its colorful street art installation and for adrenaline junkies visit the racing track in the outskirt of Taichung.

Day 4: Qingjing Farm (→ 85km, 2 hours drive):

For an animal lover like me, this farm was the highlight of my road trip! The drive up the mounatin is simply beautiful and rewarding. What awaits you are many cute sheeps, fresh air and a green scenery. The farm is also known as “Foggy Eden” or the Switzerland of Taiwan and it was truly beautiful up there!

Day 5-6: Sun Moon Lake (→ 60km, 2 hours drive):

Taiwan’s largest and probably bluest lake of them all is the Sun Moon Lake. An oasis to relax or to go on a bicycle tour around the lake. Prepare the whole day to circumnavigate the lake as there are many stops to make during the 30km route. If you are not much into riding a bike there is also the possibility to hop on a boat and explore the lake’s surroundings by foot.

Day 7 Alishan National Park (→ 105km, 3 hours drive):

Get up early, because the most scenic moment is during the sunrise when the clouds shine in orange pink colors between the mountains. Wake up early, hop in your car, drive to the park entrance and get a ticket for the Alishan Forest Railway. A journey you will never forget! After the sunrise you will have plenty of time to hike inside the national park.

Day 8-9 Kaohsiung (→ 180km, 5 hours drive):

Drive the scenic roads until you get to Kaohsiung. There are also many places worth stopping by on the way (hot springs, forests, hiking areas etc.). In Kaohsiung itself it’s a must to check out the Lotus Lake with it’s colorful pagodas, the art district, having a gondola ride at the love river and making a day trip to Fo Guang Shan – an impressive Chinese Buddhist Monastery.

Day 10 Kenting National Park (→ 110km, 2,5 hours drive):

Going south means swimming in the ocean! There are plenty of white beaches, caves and coral reeves to explore. It’s also home to the best seafood restaurants of Taiwan, so don’t miss them out.

Day 11 Taitung (→ 160km, 4 hours drive):

While driving up the east coast of Taiwan you will realize how different it is compared to the western coast. Definitely check out Taitung Forest Park, have a massage and relax a little bit! You can drive to Brown Road, Dapo Lake and even get to know the aboriginal tribes of Taiwan.

Day 12-13 Hualien and Taroko (→ 170km, 4 hours drive):

Driving up to Hualien will for sure take your breath away as you will pass by Sanxiantai and drive along the 21km long Qingshui Cliff. It lays 800 meters above sea level and the crystal clear blue water is mesmerizing! Going further west you will encounter the Taroko National Park which is definitely worth a full day. And latest there you will be glad having a car! Taroko Gorge is a 19km long canyon with hidden waterfalls, turquoise rivers and dark caves.

Day 14 Back to Taipei (→ 190km, 5 hours drive):

The road trip is coming to an end and I recommend to avoid the highway going back as you will finish with some epic serpentines and a last scenic drive through coconut tree forests with old beautiful temples.

3. Is it safe to drive in Taiwan?

During the two weeks driving around Taiwan I never encountered a dangerous situation. The roads are well maintained, the traffic out of the big cities is very limited and I found Taiwanese drivers to be very friendly and tolerant. Noone is taligating and in general speed limits are not really high which makes driving safer but more relaxed.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind while driving in Taiwan as not everything is the same like in western countries.

  • A rental car will most likely be automatic rather than manual
  • People drive on the right side of the road
  • There are speed cameras everywhere
  • It’s illegal to use mobile devices while driving
  • At most gas stations there will be attendants to help you fuel up
  • Always watch out for scooters when changing lanes
  • It happened a few times that cars overtook us from the right side (instead of left)

Having these rules in mind I can definitely say that driving in Taiwan in general is really safe and enjoyable. I never felt stressed. Even in the big cities I felt that other drivers would watch out for others and always put safety first. The roads in general are not packed at all.

Driving around Taiwan is a wonderful experience and I would say one of the safest countries to drive worldwide. Do not miss out that opportunity and next time when you come to Taiwan consider renting a car, explore the wild landscapes and have an epic road trip!


This is how Pakistanis treat Tourists in Lahore

I don’t wanna be emotional but I know that when I look back in a few years at this video.. it will make me cry.

Because behind every scene and behind every smile are other people that made this possible. People who showed us around. Locals that made us feel home at their home. Strangers asking for selfies. People who don’t have a lot and still insisting on treating us for lunch. And the list goes on.

And the crazy part?

I didn’t expect this at all.

Actually, I was kinda scared to travel to #Pakistan on my own even though I would consider myself well-traveled and open to other cultures. Still, I was scared that Pakistan would overwhelm me. But as soon as I crossed the border to Pakistan the police officers welcomed us with a big smile and a cup of tea.

And that sums it all up 🙂

ALSOO ->

I will make a movie called “Visa World“. It’s about borders and differences. It’s about a journey to the other side of the world and what it takes to fight global challenges. It’s a one (wo)man production because I believe that it doesn’t need much to tell a great story. I’m doing all this to collect donations for the charity KAUGMAON on the Philippines.

I know their work and it’s coming from their heart to give children a better life. If you are interested in the movie you can register for it on my website (for a small donation which goes to the NGO).

The movie ➸ https://travelcomic.com/change


Fairytale Iran

Iran is a magical country and I’ll never forget it! Whether hitchhiking through the rugged desert or chilling out on the crisp colorful sands of the island of Hormuz, there’s nothing like it!

I met friends for life couchsurfing through Iran during my short four-week stay. Even though I traveled solo there was never a scary moment. I felt safe and nurtured by these wonderful people who embraced me with open arms and open hearts.

I traveled for four weeks as a solo female through Iran and experienced the greatest hospitality ever! Thanks so much. During my time I visited the following places: Qom, Kashan, Abyaneh Village, Isfahan, Shiraz, Bandar Abbas, Hormuz, Qeshm, Hengam Island, Kerman, Bam, Mahan, Rayen, Yazd and of course Tehran 🙂

My favorite places are the islands (I didn’t even know you have any haha). So beautiful and unique!

____________

Music by Max Lurya

Drone Shots by Dariush Bagheri and Tomás Arribas


This is how I dont get my stuff stolen when traveling – My 5 TIPS

Have you ever had your stuff stolen?

WELL, this happened to me!

During my travel in the past years, I’ve learned a lot about staying safe – especially because people actually tried to rob me and I had my stuff stolen a lot of times.

Even in my own home city. The place where I usually feel safe and confident.

But sh*t happens and lessons learned!

In this video and article I show you my 5 tips how I prevent myself from getting stuff stolen while hitchhiking, traveling solo and staying in hostels or doing Couchsurfing.

Especially when traveling with a laptop or filming gear.

1. Get a secure anti-theft backpack (e.g. from RiutBag)

I usually don’t give product recommendations, but I think for this article it’s very useful to mention my favorite things that I really trust when it comes to safety.

And the RiutBag backpack is just the best thing ever. It totally changed my life and made everything just so much easier.

You wonder why? I’ll tell you.

The best thing about this backpack is that it has no outer openings.

It means all the zips are hidden against the back.

So it’s impossible. Impossible. to open it while it’s on your back.

It’s waterproof and It has enough space for my laptop and camera gear.

And the best part: It just makes me feel comfortable wherever I go. Because I know that everything is really safe. Nobody can open it from the outside.

And isn’t it the most frustrating thing when you realize that you got something stolen because someone opened your bag while you were in a crowded place?

This happened to me a lot of times in the past.

I think not only everyone should have a backpack like this one, but every backpack should be designed like this.

So no matter if you’re traveling to a foreign country or if you’re commuting to work every day: Having a secure backpack is the most important thing!

You can find different versions of the RiutBag on their website here.

2. Wear a thin belt bag to store your emergency cash

Another thing that I always use when I’m traveling is a belt bag.

But not a big one, it’s important that it’s small and not visible to other people while you’re wearing it.

There I’m hiding a part of my money, an emergency credit card, my keys or whatever.

The most secure place is our body and we should always make use of it.

This belt bag is so thin that other people won’t even notice it when I’m wearing a dress over it or a T-Shirt.

And I really just use it for the most important things.

When I’m sleeping outside or in a train, it also has space to fit my phone in there.

And this belt bag really makes me feel relaxed while sleeping in a public space or just having it on me all times.

So if you don’t have a belt bag yet – get one!

3. Lock up your valuables with lockers

I learned the importance of locking up my valuables just on my recent trip.

Not only ask a lot of hostels for a separate lock or charge an extra fee for that.

The locks you get in hostels are also not necessarily that secure and can be easily opened by thieves.

So that’s why I usually carry a simple but secure lock with me which is also useful to no only lock up storage, but also doors, your bags, your camera gear, drones and your pacsafes.

There are thousand different kinds of locks available on the market but I think choosing one that is not too heavy but also not too simple to open is a good choice and carrying it around won’t feel like a waste of weight.

I know that people who really wanna open a lock will be able to open the lock. So keep that in mind but most of the thieves usually don’t plan to steal your stuff.

It mostly just happens randomly by strangers who see that your stuff is not secured and easily accessible.

So a lock will definitely prevent people from touching your stuff.

4. Prepare a dummy wallet and take it with you wherever you go

Everybody should carry a dummy wallet while traveling for mainly two reasons.

First: It is never a good idea to keep all your cash in one place.

So having a second wallet makes real sense if you just keep a small amount of cash in there.

So whenever you need change you know that you have this wallet and small notes are available. In some places where corruption is still a thing, it might help you as well to have a dummy wallet.

So if a police officer stops you and wants some money from you for whatever reason, you can show him your wallet and he will maybe leave you with a smaller fine because you have not that much cash on you.

For instance, this happened to me in Vietnam and Turkey and both times the officers didn’t want to make big trouble either and let me go.

Second: The second reason why traveling with a dummy wallet is a good idea is because if someone tries to steal your wallet or even wants to rob you.

You can hand this wallet over and it won’t be that big of a deal.

You won’t lose that much money and it maybe saves your life to cooperate with someone trying to rob you.

5. Secure your laptop in a portable safe

This is something I don’t own yet but it’s definitely on my list.

I was looking for something to lock up my laptop or camera gear while going out at night or when there is no locker available and you don’t wanna carry your laptop with you all the time.

The idea is to have a small bag that is as secure as a safe.

So I stumbled upon this website and I read really good recommendations about their products.

What’s definitely on my list is the Travelsafe which is basically a portable safe but it doesn’t necessarily look like one.

I think this will be very useful when traveling in hostels that do not have safes.

On my last trip, I was a little bit worried about my laptop sometimes because it happened that there was no storage available and I had to hide it under my pillow.

Anyway, this travelsafe is Almost like a small backpack and you can just lock it on the bed, around a tree or wherever and it’s really really hard to open it even with the right tools.

I can imagine that it’s so solid that It will add weight to your bag but I think definitely worth it in my opinion.”

Traveling is fun and life-changing. But it doesn’t mean that travel can’t be frustrating, or that accidents can’t happen.

You always need to be careful when it comes to your safety and your money. Which is exactly why I wrote this article and why I made this video. So I hope your next travel will be safe and see you next time!


A Spontaneous Day in Iran

On January 18, I was on Qeshm Island in the south of Iran and on that day I wanted to find out where I would end up without knowing exactly where to go or where to sleep. so I hit the road with nothing but my clothes on my back and a camera in my pocket.

If there is something I learned during my travel – you will NEVER end up alone and that day proofed it once again! 

To travel means to be free.

And what happened on that day was the definition of freedom for me.

The freedom to trust others, the nature and myself.

Hangem Island is a small island in the south of Iran and the reasons why I chose this place was because it’s 1. Not too far away. 2. There aren’t a lot of people 3. It’s well known for its Beautiful beaches
So all in all a great place to stay for the night even without a place to sleep

But first let me show you how easy it is to hitchhike in Iran:

The most important thing is to explain what hitchhiking is, to make sure that it’s no tarof and to make clear where you want to go, because some drivers just stop out of curiosity.

And I’m telling you the so called “ferry” was already a big adventure. There were 4 other people on the boat and it took only a few minutes  to agree that we will all camp together. Suddenly a few strangers turned into  a team that shared their food, tea and everything with each other. They even insisted to share their tent with me but my mind was already prepared to sleep in the wild.

The beach was our own paradise of freedom. No phone signal, just a few travellers, a bonfire and the ocean. This was a day of appreciation for our lives and the people who are part of it, not the objects. We should all allow ourselves to feel a little free. “Follow your dreams”, as cheesy as it sounds, but do it!

Never ignore the facts, especially the ugly ones. But do understand that it’s your game. You get to write the rules and you decide how you want to to travel.

Sometimes all it takes is to go with the flow. And everything else will come on its own.

Am I naive to travel like that?

Maybe. But for sure I know that I’m free. 


Shiraz and Persepolis: The Ancient Capital of the Kings

Shiraz is a really nice and quite calm city. The old town doesn’t allow cars which makes it easy and relaxed to walk around and explore the old bazaar. In Shiraz I met an Iranian family via Couchsurfing as well as an italian traveller and two spanish friends on their way to India.

It’s really interesting to hear all the different travel stories and how everyone has a different goal in Iran.

Persepolis is an ancient town that is 1 hour drive from Shiraz and a must visit when in Shiraz. To be honest it wasn’t that interesting for me and I’d rather visited the desert (which I still didn’t manage to do!). But for everyone who is interested in history and especially old places it’s definitely worth to go there!

In Shiraz we went to the oldest traditional restaurant where I ate some kebab and of course I visited the pink mosque, the holy shrine and in the evenings we cooked or sat together drinking tea. I had a lovely time in Shiraz, thanks to my Iranian friends 🙂


What I liked most in Isfahan

I was really excited to go to Isfahan – to the “half of the world”, because every book and every website mentions Isfahan as THE to go place in Iran. No traveler should miss that city. Unfortunately I just arrived at night in the hostel and the next day it rained non-stop. So I decided to take it easy, stayed in the hostel and edited some videos.

It is okay to just not go outside and be active the whole time, especially when you are on the road for a few weeks. This made me even more excited to go out and spend the whole day exploring after my short break and rest time.

And I didn’t get disappointed! It was a beautiful day spent in Isfahan and I visited the big square, the mosque, a traditional tea house, the Chehel Sotoun Palace, the bazaar and of course the bridges. Nowadays the river is not flowing anymore and instead, there is only a lot of sand left. Even it looks sad it was still fun to walk on the “river”.

At the big square I got a little bit annoyed by all the Iranian tour guides that talked in German with me and tried to sell me a tour or a “free tea” in their bazaar shop. It also happened that a few youngsters talked to me about Hitler and how much they like him because he was a powerful man. I tried to make them understand that I don’t agree with them but I guess that didn’t change their minds.

However, Isfahan is beautiful and has a lot of attractions, but for the first time during my trip I felt a negative impact of the tourism industry and I’m afraid that it won’t get better but worse.

me in a traditional tea house

 


Kashan and Abyaneh Village: A walk through time

I know there is a lot of desert in Iran and I expected to visit it during my stay in Kashan BUT then I fell in love with the small city itself and the Abyaneh Village which is not too far from Kashan. What I liked most about Kashan was that it is not so crowded like all the other touristic cities and of course that it has its own desert atmosphere.

I always wondered how it is to be alive thousands of years ago. Kashan is a magical city that exactly makes you feel like you are in a different time and offers much more than only the desert.

There are a lot of traditional houses to explore where you can get lost and stroll around for hours. In my head I imagined how the people were living here hundreds of years ago, what kind of discussions they had and how they furnished their houses. These places will definitely play with your fantasy.

And of course there is Kashan’s historical mosque and the traditional bazaar which offers you a perfect spot for an Iranian breakfast.

If you ever wondered how the most beautiful historical garden of the Middle East looks like then you shouldn’t skip going to Fin Garden. It’s a place to relax and not too far from the city.

Although there are so many sites in Kashan that are impressive and just beautiful I didn’t see a lot of travellers and most of the time I was the only person visiting a site. It seems that the city is still quite undiscovered by tourists which makes it a great time to visit right now.

On the other hand there is the abyaneh village which attracts more people due to it’s unique historical charme. This village is one of the oldest in Iran and has been called the window to Iranian history and people also say that it’s a living museum. It’s a really picturesque city and the locals seem like really cool people as well.


Visiting traditional houses in Kashan

After a comfortable 2 hour bus ride from Qom I arrived in Kashan. This small city is known for its traditional houses and trips to the manjabi desert. Kashan is a beautiful small town with some great historical places like a traditional bath house or its over 400 years old mosque in the center of the city.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to visit the desert but I had a lot of fun discovering the town and talking to some local people. What I love about Kashan is that it's really quit and the fact that you won't meet a lot of people in most of the tourist attractions.


Iranians love drinking tea no matter where they are. This picture was taken at 11pm inside a car.


One day in the holy city Qom

Qom is a very important and holy city for most Iranians, not so much for tourists. So when I said that I’m going to Qom I got some confused looks and people asked me why would I go there. I didn’t really know but then I quickly realized that it’s definitely worth a visit!

Qom has some really great architecture and beautiful buildings. The holy shrine is one of the most impressive buildings in Iran and a lot of pilgrims come here from all around the world.

First I was unsure if I could just go there or if my dress code was appropriate, but then locals were really friendly and showed me where to go. Tourists enter on entrance 17. Inside the entrance your bag gets checked and in my case they cave me appropriate clothing.

The women were so nice to me! They gave me chocolate and organized a tour guide for me who showed me around.

After the holy shrine I walked to the mosque nearby and an afghan girl talked to me. We took a picture together and talked a while. It’s heartwarming how friendly everyone is and that they are curious about their visitors.

Qom was definitely a great experience and Im glad I decided to got there.


I arrived in Tehran!

After a really short and sleepless night I arrived at Tehran's International Airport. As soon as we landed all the women took on their head scarf and it was like a different world just opened up in front of the plane.

Luckily I obtained my evisa for Iran before and was able to just pass easy peasy going the immigration. Nevertheless it was really early (4am) and the first metro wouldn't go before 7am.

Exploring the arrival hall was kind of a nerve wrecking thing as taxi drivers didn't leave my side and even followed me to upstairs. There were also a lot of men who tried to exchange my money on the black market but I preferred to use the official money exchange at the airport. I was just really really confused and still didn't figure it out.

Never mind after that I waited until I took the Metro to the city center. I was impressed that the metro had seat heating and a cabin for women only!

In the hostel I just hoped I could directly fall in my bed and as lucky I am a bed was free and I spent my time until 2pm sleeping like a baby 😴

The afternoon I spent exploring the hostels neighborhood and realized that everybody was staring at me. I didn't feel uncomfortable but tomorrow I'll cover my hair completely and hope to be a little bit more undercover :D

My first impression of Tehran is great! There are a lot of similarities to Turkey, like the bazaars, street vendors or the fact that no car cares about the pedestrians :D

Tomorrow afternoon I'll be heading to the most religious city of Iran: Qom!


Iran E-Visa 2019: This is how I got my Tourist Visa via the Consulate in Istanbul

ENGLISH

Step 1: Preparing your documents

Before you start your online application make sure that you have all the necessary information to complete it 100%. Click here to get forwarded to the list of documents and information you will need.
I made sure that I had a flight and hotel (for the first night) booked in advance so that I could provide an Iranian address for my stay as well as a phone number and flight dates.
They also need a digital photo copy of the passport and a personal photo with specific measurements. I made the photo by myself and resized it with a photo editing tool. The personal photo must be in a ratio of 4:6 and equal or less than 500kb in file size.
The passport copy must be in a ratio of 8:6 and equal or less than 500kb in file size.

Do women need to wear a headscarf on their visa photo? 
No, but it will lower the chance of getting rejected. In my case I didn’t cover my hair on the photo (and I’m bright blonde) and got accepted after 2 days, but surely it can depend on the person who is checking your visa application.

Check their photo page for updated information!

DEUTSCH

Schritt 1: Dokumente vorbereiten

Bevor man mit der Online-Bewerbung beginnt, sollte man sicher stellen, dass man für den Visumsantrag alle erforderlichen Informationen verfügt. Klicke hier, um zur Liste der Dokumente und Informationen zu gelangen, die man benötigt.
Ich stellte sicher, dass ich einen Flug und ein Hotel (für die erste Nacht) im Voraus gebucht hatte, sodass ich eine iranische Adresse für meinen Aufenthalt sowie Telefonnummer und Flugdaten angeben konnte.

Außerdem benötigt man eine digitale Fotokopie des Passes und ein persönliches Foto mit spezifischen Maßen. Ich habe das Foto von mir selbst gemacht und mit einem Fotoprogramm angepasst. Das persönliche Foto muss ein Verhältnis von 4:6 und eine Dateigröße von maximal 500 KB haben.
Die Passkopie muss ein Verhältnis von 8: 6 und darf ebenfalls nicht größer als 500 KB sein.

Müssen Frauen auf ihrem Visumfoto ein Kopftuch tragen?
Nein, aber es verringert die Chance, abgelehnt zu werden. In meinem Fall habe ich meine Haare auf dem Foto nicht bedeckt (und ich bin hellblond) und wurde nach 2 Tagen akzeptiert, aber es kann sicherlich von der Person abhängen, die den Visumantrag prüft.

Hier geht’s zu den aktuellen Informationen der MFA Webite.

Step 2: Applying for the E-Visa through the MFA website

Make sure that you have a stable internet connection and preferably fill in the form on a computer and not on your phone as you should print the final page for further process. Click here to get forwarded to the official E-Visa online registration form. 
Filling in the form is easy and takes no longer than 10 minutes.
They ask for your closest Iranian consulate and the length of your stay. For me it was the Irian Consulate in Istanbul and I asked for a stay of 27 days.

After submitting the application it says to go to the nearest Iran consulate as soon as possible to hand in the original documents. In my case I waited a few days and got accepted without showing up beforehand. So I think it will be a waste of time to go there before it got accepted. But if your application is in review for more than a few days I would show up and ask for the status.

Schritt 2: Beantragung des E-Visums über die MFA-Website

Man sollte sicher stellen, dass man über eine stabile Internetverbindung verfügt und das Formular vorzugsweise auf einem Computer und nicht auf einem Telefon ausfüllt, da man die letzte Seite für den weiteren Vorgang ausdrucken sollte. Klicke hier, um zum offiziellen Online-Anmeldeformular für das E-Visa zu gelangen.
Das Ausfüllen des Formulars ist einfach und dauert nicht länger als 10 Minuten.
Es wird nach den nächstgelegenen iranischen Konsulat und nach der Dauer des Aufenthalts gefragt. Für mich war es das iranische Konsulat in Istanbul und ich habe einen Aufenthalt von 27 Tagen angefragt.

Nachdem man das Formular ausgefüllt hat, kommt eine Meldung mit dem Hinweis  zum nächstgelegenen iranischen Konsulat zu gehen und die Originaldokumente einzureichen. In meinem Fall habe ich ein paar Tage gewartet und mein Visum wurde genehmigt, ohne vorher im Konsulat gewesen zu sein. Ich denke, es wäre Zeitverschwendung dorthin zu gehen, bevor man entweder angenommen oder abgelehnt wird. Wenn der Status jedoch nach ein paar Tagen immernoch in Bearbeitung ist, würde ich mich im Konsulat melden und nach dem Status fragen.

Step 3: Going to your nearest Iranian Consulate

After 3 days my visa application got approved. I applied on a Thursday and it got approved on Saturday. So after that I printed my application form and went to the nearest Iranian Consulate (in my case in Istanbul) with my passport.

I can just tell you about my experience with the Iranian Consulate in Istanbul as I made a few mistakes and wish I knew them before I went there.

First of all, the website and the application letter gave wrong information about the opening hours of the consulate. So I went there at 8 am to find out that it opens at 8:30 am and then got rejected because visa issues will only be handled between 2-3:30pm.

I went back at 2pm and got inside the consulate. Phones or bags are not allowed and it’s advised to wear a headscarf. Inside the consulate, there is one waiting room where you can get a waiting number. But don’t get fooled! Nobody cares about what number you have 😀

So after waiting for 1 hour to get called to the visa counter I figured out that they play “first in time, first in line”. So don’t wait. The “visa room” is divided by a glass door and there is one counter where all the people wait to speak with one officer. Just go to the counter and hand over your passport and your approved visa application letter.

After that you will get a piece of paper with an Iban Number and the amount of money you have to pay for the visa. In my case (German citizen) it was 50 EUR. So after the officer gives you this paper he won’t tell you where to pay 😀 After being confused for a while I found out that I have to leave the consulate to go to the nearest bank and pay there. They only accepted cash money, but all in all, it was an easy process. Just confusing to leave the consulate and walk to the bank. After you paid the banker will give you a receipt of your payment.

After that, you go back to the consulate and hand in your passport and the receipt. Then he will give you a piece of paper that tells you when to come back to collect your passport and visa. In my case it was 5 working days later.

Schritt 3: Zum nächsten Iranischen Konsulat gehen

Nach 3 Tagen wurde mein Visumantrag genehmigt. Ich habe mich an einem Donnerstag beworben und am Samstag wurde es genehmigt. Danach habe ich direkt mein Antragsformular ausgedruckt und bin mit meinem Pass zum nächstgelegenen iranischen Konsulat (in meinem Fall in Istanbul) gegangen.

Ich kann also nur von meiner Erfahrung mit dem iranischen Konsulat in Istanbul berichten. Ich habe ein paar Fehler gemacht wünschte, ich hätte davon gewusst, bevor ich ins Konsulat gegangen bin.

Zunächst einmal gab es keine oder falsche Angaben zu den Öffnungszeiten des Konsulats auf der Webseite, sowie auf dem Visa-Antragsformular. Ich bin also um 8 Uhr morgens dorthin gegangen, um herauszufinden, dass es um 8:30 Uhr öffnet und wurde dann wieder nach Hause geschickt, da Visa-Angelegenheiten nur zwischen 14:00 und 15:30 Uhr bearbeitet werden.

Also bin ich um 14 Uhr zurück zum Konsulat gegangen. Handys oder Taschen sind nicht erlaubt und es wird empfohlen, ein Kopftuch zu tragen. Innerhalb des Konsulats gibt es einen Warteraum, in dem man eine Wartemarke ziehen muss. Aber eigentlich ist sie sinnlos, denn niemanden interessiert diese Nummer 😀

Nachdem ich also 1 Stunde gewartet hatte, um mit meiner Wartenummer zum Visumschalter gerufen zu werden, habe ich festgestellt dass es hier nach dem Motto “wer zuerst kommt, mahlt zuerst” abgeht. Also nicht warten, bis man aufgerufen wird. Der “Visumsraum” ist durch eine Glastür getrennt und dort gibt es einen Schalter, an dem alle Leute warten, um mit einem Beamten zu sprechen. Man muss also einfach zum Schalter gehen, sich ein bisschen durchdrängeln und den Pass und das Visaformular durch die Luke geben.

Danach hat mir der Beamte ein Stück Papier mit einer Iban-Nummer und den Betrag, den man für das Visum zahlen muss, gegeben. In meinem Fall (deutscher Staatsbürger) waren es 50 EUR. Nachdem der Beamte also diesen Zettel gibt, sagt er auch nicht wirklich was man damit machen soll 😀 Nachdem ich einige Zeit verwirrt war, habe ich dann herausgefunden, dass man das Konsulat verlassen muss, um zur nächsten Bank zu gehen und dort zu bezahlen. In der Bank akzeptierten sie nur Bargeld, aber alles in allem war es ein einfacher Prozess. Es war nur sehr verwirrend, das man das Konsulat verlassen musste, um zur Bank zu gehen. Nachdem man bezahlt hat, erhält man eine Quittung über die Zahlung.

Danach geht man zurück zum Konsulat und gibt seinen Pass und die Quittung ab. Dann bekommt wieder einen Zettel auf dem steht, wann man zurückkommen soll, um den Pass und das Visum abzuholen. In meinem Fall waren es 5 Arbeitstage später.

Step 4: Picking up your passport and visa

After 5 days I went back to the consulate (they told me to go exactly at 3:30 pm) to collect my passport. That was easy as I just went back to the counter and showed the piece of paper with my passport number which they gave me when I left my passport there. The officer asked about my name and nationality and handed me my passport. I checked the visa and got a visa for the 27 days I applied for! 🙂

Schritt 4: Pass und Visum abholen

Nach 5 Tagen ging ich zurück zum Konsulat (sie forderten mich auf, genau um 15:30 Uhr dort zu sein), um meinen Pass abzuholen. Das ging auch echt einfach. Man muss sich wieder an den Schalter drängeln und den Zettel mit der Passnummer zeigen, den man bekommen hat als man seinen Pass abgegeben hat. Der Beamte hat dann nur nach meinem Namen und meiner Nationalität gefragt und mir mir meinen Pass zurück gegeben. Ich habe dann geprüft, ob das Visum keine Fehler enthält und tadaa ich habe genau die 27 Tage bekommen, auf die ich mich beworben habe! 🙂

Step 5: Traveling to Iran

Now it’s time to finally travel to Iran! At the airport in Iran or at the Iranian border (if you travel over land) you just show your passport and that’s it. You’re in and ready to explore this beautiful country 🙂

Schritt 5: In den Iran reisen

Nun ist es Zeit, endlich in den Iran zu reisen! Am Flughafen im Iran oder an der iranischen Grenze (wenn man über Land reist) legt man einfach seinen Pass vor und das wars. Man ist drin und kann endlich dieses wunderschöne Land erkunden 🙂

FAQ

In my case, I did not wear a headscarf on my photo and got easily approved for the visa. Anyways, I would not take the risk and just put a photo with a headscarf. You never know which officer looks through your application and it may differ from person to person!

It depends from case to case, where you apply and which nationality you have. In my case it took 8 working days from applying to getting the visa in my passport. Make sure to apply around 1 month before your travel to have enough time.

Yes, it’s possible to apply as many times as you want. Sometimes they reject with the reason: please apply through a travel agency. In this case I would go with a travel agency that can organize your visa.

Yes! It’s obligatory to have valid travel insurance while traveling in Iran and it’s definitely advised. It’s possible to buy a travel insurance at the airport of Tehran or just make sure to print your existing travel insurance which states that it’s valid in Iran.

FAQ

In my case, I did not wear a headscarf on my photo and got easily approved for the visa. Anyways, I would not take the risk and just put a photo with a headscarf. You never know which officer looks through your application and it may differ from person to person!

It depends from case to case, where you apply and which nationality you have. In my case it took 8 working days from applying to getting the visa in my passport. Make sure to apply around 1 month before your travel to have enough time.

Yes, it’s possible to apply as many times as you want. Sometimes they reject with the reason: please apply through a travel agency. In this case I would go with a travel agency that can organize your visa.

Yes! It’s obligatory to have valid travel insurance while traveling in Iran and it’s definitely advised. It’s possible to buy a travel insurance at the airport of Tehran or just make sure to print your existing travel insurance which states that it’s valid in Iran.

Click here to find out more about my 4-week travel in Iran as a solo female traveler!


One Day in Istanbul

ENGLISH

The first time I came to Istanbul was back in 2012 and since ever then I love love love this city! It has its very own charm. The Bosphorus, the vibrant nightlife, Turkish traditions and people from all over the world that live here make it to one of my favorite cities. And it’s never getting boring here!

This video shows one day strolling around in different parts of Istanbul: Starting with a Turkish breakfast in Ortaköy, sitting near the seaside in Yeniköy, getting lost in the old town and its colorful bazaars and ending the day on the Asian side with a nice view from Üsküdar and Cengelköy 🙂

DEUTSCH

Das erste Mal, dass ich nach Istanbul gekommen bin, war 2012 und seitdem liebe ich diese Stadt! Sie hat ihren ganz eigenen Charme. Der Bosporus, das pulsierende Nachtleben, die türkischen Traditionen und Menschen aus aller Welt, die hier leben, machen Istanbul zu einer meiner Lieblingsstädte. Und hier wird es nie langweilig!

Dieses Video zeigt einen Tag in verschiedenen Stadtteilen Istanbuls: Angefangen mit einem türkischen Frühstück in Ortaköy, in Yeniköy am Meer sitzen, sich in der Altstadt mit ihren farbenfrohen Basaren verirren und den Tag auf der asiatischen Seite mit einer schönen Aussicht von Üsküdar und Cengelköy endend 🙂


25 Great Reasons to Visit the Philippines

Contrary to the belief of a number of people, the Philippines is not only limited to the traffic jams of Manila. There is so much more to it.

The Philippines has 7,107 islands to choose from. Do you want to experience life by the beach? Do you want to conquer the highest peaks in the country? Do you want to walk the busy streets of the concrete jungle? Name it, and the Philippines has it. And because it is made up of thousands of islands, there are so many options and so many activities that you can do.

If you’re planning to travel around Southeast Asia, you must not ignore the Philippines. Not convinced? Here are 25 things that might change your mind.

1. The Philippines is the perfect tropical getaway

as it maintains an average temperature of 26.6°C all year round. There are no extreme hot or cold temperatures, so your body won’t have to adjust too much. Plus, you can get to enjoy a vacation at the beach any time of the year.

2. The country has a lot of beautiful white sand beaches

that easily resemble the tropical paradise of your dreams. Nothing will beat the feeling of ditching your flip-flops as you sink your toes into the fine white sand. Add in the pristine water and laid-back vibes, you might never want to leave.

These are some of the places with the best white sand beaches that you must visit:

  • Bantayan Island, Cebu
  • Malapascua Island, Cebu
  • Malcapuya Island, Coron
  • Daku Island, Siargao
  • Pacifico Beach, Siargao
  • Mati, Davao Oriental
  • Panglao Island, Bohol

3. Here you can still find untouched nature

While there are beaches that are already known to many, there are even more of unspoiled beaches in the country. Here, you will find serenity and be able to relax without unwanted noise from other tourists.

These are some of the “virgin” beaches in the country:

  • Malamawi Island, Basilan
  • Carnaza Island, Cebu
  • Bonbon Beach, Romblon
  • Balimanok Beach, Pangasinan
  • Vulugan Beach, Batanes
  • Bolobadiangan Island, Iloilo

4. There are pink beaches in the Philippines too!

You don’t need to go to Harbour Island in Bahamas, Balos Bay in Greece, or Spiaggia Rosa in Sardinia, because this tropical country in Southeast Asia is also a home to a few rose-tinted sand beaches. They are a bit harder to find than the white sand beaches, but they will definitely be worth the trip!

These are the known pink beaches in the country:

  • Santa Cruz Island, Zamboanga
  • Sila Island, Northern Samar
  • Subic Beach, Sorsogon
  • Tikling Island, Sorsogon
  • Pundaguitan Beach, Davao Oriental

5. Ever swam with sea turtles?

If the beautiful beaches aren’t enough to convince you to visit the Philippines, you have to know that you can swim with sea turtles, locally known as “pawikan,” as well. It’s not every day that you get to do swim alongside these magnificent animals, so you might as well grab the chance while you can.

Here are some of the spots where you can swim with sea turtles:

  • Apo Island, Negros Oriental
  • Balicasag Island, Bohol
  • Pescador Island, Cebu
  • Turtle Islands, Palawan

6. Swimming with whale sharks

Have you tried swimming with a creature that is as big as a bus? You can do that in the Philippines. Swimming with whale sharks is quite a popular tourist activity in the country. Although it has become quite controversial as these gentle giants are being fed by humans in Oslob, Cebu, which alters their food hunting habits, there are a few other places where they are able to roam and hunt freely.

Here are the places that are known to have whale shark sightings:

  • Donsol Bay, Sorsogon
  • Tubbataha Reef, Palawan
  • Sogod Bay, Southern Leyte

7. Ever heard of a sardine run?

No, sardines don’t run. They swim. And you can swim with millions of them in Moalboal, Cebu. What’s even amazing about it is that you won’t have to swim that far or dive too deep to see them because the sardine run takes places just a few meters off the beach!

8. The Philippines is the Surfer’s Paradise

As the Philippines is surrounded by the Celebes Sea, the Philippine Sea, the South China Sea, and the Pacific Ocean, you are guaranteed to find great surfing spots in various parts of the country.

Here are the known surfing destinations in the country:

  • Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte
  • Lanuza Bay, Surigao del Sur
  • Baler, Aurora
  • San Juan, La Union
  • San Antonio Zambales
  • Calicaoan, Eastern Samar

9. In the Philippines, you can find many breath-taking (literally) diving spots

that boast of rich marine life, such as various species of sea creatures and vibrant beds of corals. Many people from different parts globe visit the country to just to see these for themselves.

Here are some of the world-class diving spots:

  • Apo Island, Negros Oriental
  • Apo Reef, Mindoro Occidental
  • Ticao Pass, Masbate
  • Monad Shoal, Cebu
  • Tubbataha Reef, Palawan
  • Honda Bay, Palawan
  • Blue Hole, Romblon
  • Enchanted River, Surigao del Sur

10. If you want to experience the island nightlife

the Philippines has got you covered. Partying in the club is one thing, but dancing the night away by the beach is a totally different story.

Here are some of the places where you can experience the lively island nightlife:

  • White Beach, Boracay Island
  • Ibiza Beach Club, Mactan, Cebu
  • Alona Beach, Panglao Island

11. There are a lot of hiking destinations

in the Philippines as it has a multitude of mountains, hills, and volcanoes. In some areas, camping is allowed. You can lay under the stars, breathe the fresh air, listen to the sounds of nature, and if you’re lucky, even capture a Milky Way sighting or a shooting star on your camera.

Here are some of the many picturesque hiking destinations:

  • Makiling, Laguna
  • Yangbew, Benguet
  • Pulag, Benguet
  • Pico de Loro, Batangas
  • Apo, Davao del Sur
  • Pinatubo, Zambales
  • Taal Volcano, Batangas

12. This tropical country has plenty of waterfalls

small and big. Even the island of Cebu alone has 90. So, you are bound to find one almost wherever you go.

Here are some of the most popular waterfalls to date:

  • Kawasan Falls, Cebu
  • Asik-Asik Falls, North Cotabato
  • Tinago Falls, Lanao del Norte
  • Maria Cristina Falls, Lanao del Norte
  • Tinuy-An Falls, Surigao del Sur
  • Cambugahay Falls, Siquijor
  • Ditumabo Falls, Aurora
  • Casaroro Falls, Negros Oriental

13. One of the most beautiful natural phenomena is the sea of clouds

and you can witness this in multiple areas in the Philippines. A hike is required, obviously, but all the steps you make will be worth it when you find yourself standing above the clouds. Not directly, of course.

Here are some of the best locations to witness the sea of clouds:

  • Pulag, Benguet
  • Kiltepan, Sagada
  • Danao, Bohol

14. There are many places to watch the sunset by the sea

While there are also many spots in the world where you can get a beautiful view of the sunset, even when you’re just driving along the road, seeing the sun go down into the spotless horizon will give you an entirely different experience.

These are a few of the best spots to watch the sunset by the sea:

  • White Beach, Boracay Island
  • Bantayan Island, Cebu
  • Anawangin Island, Zambales
  • Manila Bay, Manila

15. The Philippines has the longest underground river in the world

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River in Palawan is an 8.2-kilometer navigable river, which flows into the South China Sea. Tours last about 45 minutes to an hour and are usually pre-booked.

16. Marvel at the beauty of the Banaue Rice Terraces

which are just as beautiful, but also different, as the ones in Nepal, China, and Indonesia.

17. There are colorful festivals

in different parts of the country all year round. Locally known as “fiesta,” people gather in their respective towns to witness their annual celebrations. Some festivals are in honor of religious figures and folklore, while others are nature-related.

Here are some of the must-see Philippine festivals:

  • Panagbenga Festiva in Baguio
  • Ati-atihan Festiva in Aklan
  • Sinulog Festiva in Cebu
  • Kadayawan Festival in Davao
  • Dinagyang Festiva in Iloilo
  • Masskara Festival in Bacolod
  • Pintados Festiva in Tacloban
  • Moriones Festiva in Marinduque
  • Pahiyas Festiva in Quezon

18. Historical and beautiful churches

Being a predominantly Catholic nation, the Philippines is a home to a plethora of beautiful churches. A number of these have been standing for hundreds of years, with some housing centuries-old relics.

There are a few of the beautifully constructed churches around the country:

  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Bulacan
  • Church of Saint Augustine, Ilocos Norte
  • Nuestra Señora de la Porteria Church, Albay
  • Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Manila
  • Minor Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours, Batangas
  • Carmel Chapel, Batanes

19. The Philippines has several bird watching spots

Being a home to about 200 endemic birds, the country is also a known migration spot for birds coming from other countries, like Japan and Taiwan, during winter time.

Here are some of the best bird-watching spots:

  • Olango Island, Cebu
  • Rajah Sikatuna National Park, Bohol
  • Angat Dam, Bulacan
  • La Mesa Eco Park, Quezon City
  • Candaba Wetlands and Bird Sanctuary, Pampanga
  • Palay-Palay, Cavite
  • Wawa Dam, Rizal

20. Discover Adventure Sports in the Philippines

For the adrenaline junkies, there are a wide variety of heart-pumping activities that you can do while in the country. One of these is tandem skydiving. Forget about the drones, see the aerial view with your own eyes.

These are the places where you can go skydiving:

  • Bantayan Island, Cebu
  • Clark, Pampanga
  • Vigan, Ilocos Sur
  • Mati, Davao Oriental
  • Subic Bay, Zambales

21. The Philippines is one of the very few places where you can find Tarsiers

which are tiny nocturnal primates that live in dense forests. There are many of them in the island of Bohol. However, these six-inch cuddly-looking creatures are already endangered, so you must not miss the opportunity to see while you still can.

 22. Visiting the Philippines is affordable

When traveling around the Philippines, your money will go a long way. From the food to booze to tour packages, almost everything is affordable in the Philippines. Even a bottle of beer, or a meal, can cost less than 1 USD.

23. The unique Filipino cuisine will surprise you

The Filipino cuisine has Western and Oriental influences, which make it deliciously unique. Each region also has their different specialties. However, what you must not miss out on is the fresh seafood.

24. Everbody speaks English

Another convenient thing about traveling in the Philippines is that the language barrier is less likely to be a problem as a huge percentage of the population can speak and understand English.

25. Filipinos will be nice to you

Last but not least, they say that the Filipino hospitality is incomparable. A lot of foreigners keep coming back to the Philippines, not just because of its natural wonders, but because of the friendly and welcoming people who make everyone feel like family.

So did these 25 reasons to Travel the Philippines convince you to explore this tropical destination? I hope so because it will be worth every minute of your holiday.


The Story Of the Prinkipo Orphanage

Yesterday I went to one of the islands of Istanbul, Büyükada and I found something really interesting. On the top of a hill. Hiding behind some trees: A wooden building that is considered to be the second largest one of the world. So I did some research and to my surprise this building has a really impressive story. But let me start from the beginning:

THE HISTORY

It was constructed in 1898 by a French architect as a luxury hotel and casino with the name Prinkipo Palace. However, the sultan at that time didn’t like the plan and eventually did not give the permission to operate a casino and hotel there. So it was sold in 1903 and bought by the wife of a prominent Greek banker, Eleni Zarifi. She donated the house to the orthodox church which operated it as an orphanage for Greek children.

The house was built entirely using wooden materials and has 206 rooms, a large kitchen, a grand library, a primary school and various vocational schools.
15 people were employed in the orphanage and During the 60 years it catered to the needs of more than 5000 orphans.

In 1964 during the Cyprus issue, the orphanage was forcefully closed and since then it’s decaying and abandoned. There are some legal disputes regarding the building and a lot of money is involved, but the condition of the building is already really really bad and it is to be hoped that the reconstruction will start before it’s too late.

IS THE HOUSE HAUNTED?

People say that there was a fire when the building served as an orphanage, And it is also told that some children burned during the fire. So there was a child that tried to escape and jumped into the well in the garden. In the searches that were made after the fire nobody was thinking about looking into the well and the child had no other choice than dying. Nowadays the people of the island are still telling ghost stories about this place and they even claim that they occasionally hear children scream from the orphanage at night.

HOW TO GET THERE?

It Is possible to visit the building from the outside but not permitted to get inside. However, getting there is quite easy when you are on the island anyway. As it’s located on a hill in the center of the island you can just walk there within 30 minutes from the harbour or take the bike or one of the horse carriages if you are really lazy. Once you’re there, there is a huge barb wire fence. It is not allowed to get inside of the building or the property as it’s falling apart and it’d be really dangerous. Anyway it’s already breathtaking to walk around the fence and look from the outside. I heard that it might be possible to get on the property by asking the people that actually live there and taking care of the building. But I haven’t tried it myself.

It’s a really mystical place and the view of these wooden houses is pretty impressive. It’s a shame that legal disputes and ownership fights are in the way of rebuilding this unique place. It is just to be hoped that there will be a solution before the house will be destroyed forever.


Cats of Istanbul | A purr-fect lovestory!

ENGLISH

Günaydin!

If you are a cat person Then this city is for you! No matter where you are or what you do – in Istanbul you won’t be alone. Because cats are EVERYWHERE!

They are the kings and queens of the streets and everybody loves them! But why are there so many cats in Istanbul? “If you kill a cat, you need to build a mosque to gain God’s forgiveness!” That’s what an Islamic legend says.

And even today the locals are looking after them, feeding them and giving them shelter! No matter their religion.

Most of the cats here seem lucky, but there is still a long way to go. After all the streets are not designed for animals.

Volunteers invest their free time to look after injured cats, initiate spay & neuter programs and even organize fundraising events. To give cats a better life. And this help will never stop.

Istanbul is a great example of people, who selflessly dedicate their time and energy to street cats and an even better example that animals don’t need to be pets to be loved.

DEUTSCH

Guten Morgen!

Wenn du ein Katzenliebhaber bist, dann ist das genau die richtige Stadt für Dich! Egal wo man ist oder was man macht: in Istanbul ist man nie allein, denn Katzen sind ÜBERALL!

Sie sind die Könige der Straße und jeder liebt sie. Aber warum gibt es so viele Katzen in Istanbul? “Wenn du eine Katze tötest, so musst du eine Moschee bauen, um Gotts Vergebung zu erhalten” So lautet eine Legende aus dem Islam.

Und auch heute noch kümmern sich die Menschen hier um ihre Katzen. Sie geben ihnen Futter und Unterschlupf! Ganz egal welche Religion.

Die meisten Katzen hier haben wirklich Glück aber trotzdem gibt es noch eine Menge zu tun. Denn schließlich wurden Straßen nicht für Tiere gebaut.

Freiwillige investieren ihre freie Zeit darin, sich um verletzte Katzen zu kümmern, veranlassen Kastrationsprojekte und organiseren Spendenevents, um Katzen ein besseres Leben zu ermöglichen. Und sie werden nie damit aufhören.

Istanbul ist ein tolles Beispiel dafür, wie Menschen ihre Zeit und Energie Straßenkatzen widmen und ein noch besseres Beispiel dafür, dass Tiere keine Haustiere sein müssen, um geliebt zu werden.