Tag Archives: Couchsurfing

Into India: On friends, crazy traffic and discoveries by the roadside

February / March 2017

Leaving Myanmar we found ourselves entering Thailand again, for the 4th time on this trip. Not that we were complaining – we both love the ubiquitous and tasty food, the small roads which make cycling so enjoyable and the friendly people.

This time we even managed to see some friends again. Shoot and Pasan had hosted us the last time when we cycled through and we were very happy to have a small break at their oasis like café again.

After that we stayed with our friend Toom in Bangkok for a few days, mostly to get organized and rest for a bit.

And soon we stuffed us and our two giant bike boxes into an oversized taxi on the way to the airport. Arriving in Kolkata two hours later we assembled our bikes and got our first taste of cycling in India. Luckily it was early morning so the traffic wasn’t too bad yet. Still we got the feeling that bicycles are way down on the metaphoric food chain here.

Nevertheless we managed to find a small room to stay in, rested for a bit and ventured out to find some food. Between wandering around, talking to some people on the streets and cycling to a couchsurfing meeting, we both enjoyed being here a lot.

When Pankaj, a fellow couchsurfer, invited us to stay a few days at his place we accepted almost right away and this is when it got really interesting. Having long conversations on his quiet balcony, enjoying one too many drinks, walking around in this colorful neighborhood and cooking together made for a perfect welcome to a new country.

Once more I am convinced that we are able to find friends everywhere. Instead of focusing on our differences we should find the things we do have in common. And we should talk about the things that move us and get inspired. In Pankaj’s case that is movies. His inspiration for them truly impressed us and over six months later we are still in touch, talking about travels and films and such.

This is what matters to us: making connections, finding friends and thus feeling over and over again that the world is a beautiful place indeed.

We also visited the Indian Coffee House in Kolkata, a place long known to be a  meeting point for intellectual discussion. I loved the atmosphere and also the surroundings. Walking around in the neighborhood you can find a million bookstores specializing in everything you could wish for. I was very happy to be back in a culture where books are important.

Tea plays a much bigger role in northern India than coffee though. Everywhere you go you can find a small stall selling sweet milky tea usually in small one time use clay pots.

This would become one of our favorite cycling snacks, especially in combination with a biscuit or two.

Our biggest love affair would soon become the food though. Not only was it especially easy to find vegetarian food, it was also without exception crazy delicious! As we both appreciate spicy food, we were in heaven!

Thank you Pankaj for showing us a slice of your life, for all the long talks, for the tea and food and for the 10 best – erm I mean 80 best – movies! 🙂

After staying in Kolkata for almost a week we cycled out of the huge city towards the border to Nepal. And this was where it got a bit more complicated. You see, Indian traffic was really overwhelming in our experience. In the beginning we stayed on the highway which wasn’t that bad as it usually had two lanes and a shoulder. Apart from that we rode on normal one lane roads and small village roads trying to find something more quiet. Alas, it was not to be.

Apart from very few exceptions the riding was extremely challenging all the time. We navigated broken asphalt, big potholes and bumps on the same time with traffic participants that didn’t give a crap about cyclists. And I really mean that. We were pushed off the road by oncoming overtaking trucks / buses so many times that we lost count. After one and a half year of cycling in many different traffic cultures we are both not easily scared but this was something else. The total disregard for life was new to both of us and kept annoying us more and more.

I could go on and tell more stories about how a driver hit me and made me fall of my bicycle while the traffic was actually at a standstill and I was directly in his field of vision. Or how people on motorcycles rode next to us and made us cycle into potholes all the while trying to talk to us. But to sum it up, it was just not an enjoyable experience. There was just too much traffic, too many inconsiderate drivers and too many things happening all at once.

While many people say that India is an attack on the senses, I did not feel the same in general. I loved getting glimpses of village life, drinking tea in small stalls and wandering around in the busy cities. But I really came to hate the cycling part. I could not deal with having to concentrate 150% for 6 hours daily, it was just too much.

Torsten felt similarly to the point that when we saw these stages of the silk making process lined up next to the road, he didn’t even want to stop. The continuous stream of impressions left us just wanting to continue and get it over with as fast as possible.

But then we did stop and I’m glad about it. This is why we cycle after all. To get insights into peoples lives and what they do from day to day.

These guys were happy to let us watch their work.

We did find some small roads with smooth asphalt, too.

But when we reached Siliguri, just before the border to Nepal, we couldn’t be happier. Especially because Mayank, our couchsurfing host, and his parents lived in a beautiful house with an oasis like garden which gave us some respite after the stressful cycling.

We enjoyed the peace and quiet for a few days, got spoiled with lots of yummy food from Mayank’s mum and marvelled at the family’s gas producing unit! Handy!

Mayank also told us a lot about his business: Together with his French partner they are exporting quality cotton fabrics dyed with natural colors from India to France. You can find them here: FibreBio

On this note we left India for now and cycled to Nepal… More on that next time!

going home overland: Ukraine, Poland, HOME

August / September 2016

Arriving in Kiev, Ukraine after a night train from Moscow we first purchased a Simcard to be able to contact our hosts and then sat down for a coffee. That’s when we started noticing that there are a lot of coffee places around. My kind of place!

After taking a few buses to Lana and Alex’ place we had a bit of trouble finding our way in the big apartment complex but made it eventually. Our fantastic hosts who had just come back from a holiday the day before welcomed us warmly into their flat and left us soon after as they had to go to work. That worked well for us as we could get some more sleep in after the night train.

A bit later we went to the nearby supermarket and were again fascinated with all the wonderful fruits and veggies available.

The next day we ventured out to the city and visited a vegan eatery recommended by Lana. Vegano Hooligano has fantastic food!

Afterwards we were content with wandering around, enjoying the sun and counting the millions of coffee places in the city. There sure is a coffee culture here!

Somehow this particular toilet paper was very big last year:


Memorial for victims of the Ukraine conflict:

Ukraine is another one of those countries I had never really considered going to before. But I am so glad we came here and got to experience late summer in this beautiful city.

On the next day, before leaving for Poland, we took a walk with Lana and she showed us some greenery close by.

We didn’t have our swim suits with us but couldn’t resist the water in this awesome summer weather. Oh well, the clothes will dry eventually :).

Later that day we once more boarded a train towards home. This particular one brought us to Kovel, a smaller city near the border to Poland.

We spent a few hours there, walking through a local market and buying honey and all kinds of tea, before boarding a bus to Warsaw.

I was beyond excited at this point. For one, we were almost in Poland and thus almost in Germany. Secondly, we would get to meet our dear friends Natalja and Piotr again. About one year ago we had all stayed at the Canfield’s house in Cairns, Australia, and for a few days we really felt at home with so many cycle tourers around. Sharing this common interest and a life style, we never ran out of stories to tell or activities to do together. Okay by that I mean eating. 😀 Just kidding, we also went for a hike. Anyway, Natalja and Piotr had finished their world tour a while ago and are now settled in Warsaw and we would get to see them again!

For a few days we were in heaven again. They welcomed us with absolutely tasty food and being in Poland we had some high spirited desserts :). We exchanged lots of stories about cycle touring and more importantly about life, about what’s important. We got to meet a group of their fantastic friends which I immediately felt very comfortable with.

We had some more delicious food and Piotr could not believe just how much coffee we can drink. He promised to buy some in bulk next time we are around :).

And we also went for a wee cycle. As N and P live on the outskirts of Warsaw it was really easy to get out of the city and we absolutely enjoyed being on bicycles again.

In the end we could have stayed and wanted to stay much much longer, but our families were waiting just across the border. And thus we boarded our last bus bringing us swiftly to Berlin. And yes, I did get a bit emotional arriving at Schönefeld airport. Suddenly, most people around me spoke German, everything was distinctly familiar and the people I missed the most were so very very close. More on that next time!

going home overland: Kazakhstan

August 2016

I fell head over heels for Kazakhstan right after crossing the border. It was already quite late and getting dark as we were waiting for our shared taxi to fill up. We were sitting at the taxi stop in this tiny village with nothing to do. And ffter the border ordeal we were actually quite hungry. So we looked around and saw a small store. Surely they would have at least some food? We walked in and were in for a big surprise. They didn’t only have some unhealthy snacks from the likes we were used to from small stores in South East Asia. They had real food! Dark rye bread, cheese, a huge jar of pickles and we were set for the evening. I can’t even begin to describe to you how happy I was in that moment. I had felt homesick for a while now and missing familiar food was a part of that. And to actually find that kind of food in a small village in Kazakhstan – well, I sure had not expected that.

Our taxi did eventually fill up and we arrived in Almaty in the middle of the night. In the next few days we reveled in all the fantastic new 7 old food we found. There were supermarkets which had such a great variety of grains and simple ingredients to cook. Close by you could usually find stores selling fruit and vegetables.

And as it was harvest season we really lucked out. Close to the Russian embassy where we applied for our Transit Visa…

…we found this guy…

selling the absolute best strawberries and rasberries I have ever eaten in my entire life. The intensity of this taste goes beyond anything and we would buy kilos and kilos of fruit and not stop before the bag was empty.

While we were waiting for our Transit Visa we got to appreciate the mountains close to Almaty. The city bus nr. 12 will take you to some fantastic hiking opportunities starting from Medeu in about 30 minutes. We went to Peak Furmanov with our new friends Eva and Leo.

At the peak Torsten suggested to take a different route back. Quite eager to linger a bit longer in these beautiful mountains we agreed. We saw the sun and clouds, glaciers and rocks. We walked along the ridge for a while and scrambled down lots of rocky fields.

As we didn’t want to go over a particular steep rocky ridge we went down a different valley and had our work cut out for us. Getting back down was not easy and very steep most of the time. Add that to my fear of heights and falling from high places and I was beyond exhausted way before the end.

We did make it down eventually. And I couldn’t walk for four days after. My legs felt like jelly and would often just give away while walking.

Luckily we did have some time to hang around and our hostel (Essentai Hostel) was a fantastic place to do just that.

When my legs were a bit better we took a cable car to the city hill and enjoyed the sun setting.

Underground train stations often have beautiful ornaments…

And here are some more impressions from above the ground:

Yes, Torsten went for another hike. Not me, I was busy wobbling around slowly.

After about a week we got our Russian Visa and took a bus to Astana.

We stayed with Sigrid and Ben through Trustroots and loved hearing about their life in Astana. They had just moved to a fancy new appartment- wow! Thanks so much for lending us your bicycles – it was amazing to ride around for a bit. And when we got to this river we just had to go for a swim!

Since starting this overland journey two weeks ago I already felt so much better than before. For once I absolutely enjoyed leaving the tropics after about 12 months. I was overjoyed not constantly being sweaty and feeling the effects of a shower last longer than 5 minutes. For the past year we haven’t been able to sleep without a fan and the few nights we tried to camp were rather miserable. I had completely forgotten how relaxing it is for my body to sleep at 20 degrees Celsius or under.

Also, ffter more than a year of cycling it was fantastic being without the constant physical challenge and give my body a longer break for once. I still loved being outside and go for hikes and walks and cycle around for fun. But all at a slightly slower pace for now.

Cycling and resting in northern Vietnam

July 2016

As mentioned here we were on our way to China. We were going to leave the bicycles in Kunming and go home to Germany for a break. So with Germans being able to get Visa free entrance into Vietnam for 15 days at the moment we took that possibility and cycled from Nam Can to Hanoi.

The extremes were staggering. At first we cycled through small villages and over quiet roads. Had a beer in the evening at one of the many local draft beer shops.

When the Ho Chi Minh Highway began the traffic was starting to get a bit more intense. Many drivers that passed us had a rather intimate relationship with their horns and honked at us and every other vehicle in sight.

We quickly learned a few words for vegetarian food in Vietnamese and after that it was quite easy to find something delicious to eat. We loved the green tea that always came with the food.

What I especially appreciated in those days were the ever present clouds. They clang ominously to the sky without ever unleashing on us. So we had a few relaxed days of cycling without the sun constantly beating down on us.

And then suddenly we arrived in Hanoi. The other side of the extreme. As we drew closer to the city, traffic started to whizz past us from all sides and the honking was like a huge dissonant concert. And suddenly I felt like drowning in the city traffic and noise around me. I didn’t want to continue any more, I just wanted to curl up in a ball and stop. Stop cycle touring, just not move forward any more.

So we stopped for a coffee, had a break and then of course continued. Stopping in the middle of a busy road is not the best of alternatives after all. Torsten took over navigating and I just followed as best as I could. We stopped once more and I waited with the bicycles while he bought some supplies for dinner. Soon after we arrived at Mike’s place, our warmshowers host in Hanoi.

And as much as I hated the traffic at first the more I loved Hanoi from the next morning on. Use the search engine of your choice for some pictures as I was too busy with all the city life around me to take any. But I really loved the millions of coffee places, the fruit vendors walking through the street and the difference between the loud and busy roads and the quiet side alleys where people live.

We also found the perfect place to celebrate Torsten’s birthday: A vegetarian buffet with Yoghurt coffee for dessert. Freakin’ delicious, let me tell you!

Here in Hanoi we also finally found a place to replace Torsten’s broken handlebar. At Lam Velo George was very helpful in finding a used handlebar in good condition and even helped us with some matching brakes.

Our week in Hanoi went by way too fast. We met lots of fantastic people: Mike introduced us to a group of Vietnamese cyclists that had just finished cycling for a few weeks. We also went to a couchsurfing meeting and socialized with lots of the people living in Mike’s house. And we were happy to meet Siria and Nick from Out and Away. We had been in touch with them since Malaysia and it was nice to finally meet in person. So that week was exactly what I needed. Not too much cycling and moving from one place to another but lots of human connection instead. And that always makes everything better anyways.

After camping on the roof of Mike’s house for a week, Torsten got sick in the last two days. As this was the last day on our Visa we took the first bus to get to the border to China quickly. Not our favourite mode of transport but rather comfortable!

Shortly before the border I bought one last bag of Vietnamese coffee and then we entered China. And whatever you heard about Chinese border crossings – we experienced one of our most friendly ones. More on that next time!

Busy, lazy, old and new – Bangkok has it all

April 2016

Bangkok has given me everything that I needed without even knowing what that was. For a while now the city had been the goal we kept moving towards. Our list of errands was higher than ever and we were also looking for a little break from cycling. After being seriously overwhelmed by all the warmshowers and couchsurfing hosts on the two sites we took our friend Anselm’s advice and asked his friend Toom if we could stay with him for a while. I felt a bit nervous about that as we never actually met Anselm himself, let alone Toom. Oh boy was that unnecessary!

Toom’s couchsurfing / warmshowers / friends paradise


Toom has an apartment in the north of Bangkok and there are almost always people staying at his place. For some reasons that are his story to tell he likes having guests and friends around and due to the relaxed and inviting atmosphere most of those people tend to stay a bit longer than planned.


There is not a lot of privacy as everyone shares the available rooms. We slept on beds or mattresses on the floor, as close to the fans as possible to get some relief from the April heat wave. And I absolutely loved it. Usually I need some time to myself and some privacy at that. But somehow at Toom’s place I did not miss it at all. First of all, Toom is an amazing person. Funny, softspoken, interesting to talk to, he is one of these people who manages to include people into the group so that everyone feels welcome. And we met so many more awesome people during our stay and I loved all the talks, the cooking and eating together, the time to just relax and not do much. The feeling of having a home base for a while is something that we don’t have very often during this journey and thus enjoye even more.

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Cycling in Bangkok

We had quite a few errands to run during our time in Bangkok. From finding affordable sunscreen with a high SPF to finally getting our Chinese Visa and repair / replace my waterlogged phone.


At first we tried using public transport which was partly fast (Metro) / fun (boat) / not moving at all (several busses) / not showing up (busses again). So in the end we cycled mostly everywhere. From reading many blogs I had thought that cycling in Bangkok would be a nightmare but it was actually fine. We were usually faster than public transport (excluding the metro maybe) and the traffic didn’t bother me too much. Yes you have to be a 100% alert at all times and listening to your favourite drum n bass band at high volume is probably not the best idea.


But given that traffic was either stuck in gridlock or slow moving most of the time it was actually fine for cycling. We’re not talking fine as in meandering along a quiet country lane, it’s still Bangkok. But you know, fine. Overall traffic here is really just too much in my opinion. Too many cars, too many traffic jams.

High and low, old and new

p1180751 We didn’t really do any sightseeing per se but cycling through the city we still discovered a lot. To me Bangkok seems to have it all. There are the huge skyscrapers but also small wooden houses nestled in between sometimes.

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There are crazy busy 8 lane roads and then you take one or two turns and find yourself in a narrow motorcycle road in old Chinatown. There are touristy areas but it’s not hard to avoid them.

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There are western supermarkets and a myriad of local markets which are absolutely amazing. Lots of parks, gardens, nice cafes, museums and so much more. My tip to stay sane: Don’t try to do it all, it might overwhelm you. Take it slow, get lost in it all and find a thousand big and small surprises.

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In the end we stayed for a full two weeks. When we noticed we were both surprised as the time had passed in an instant seemingly. There was just so much to see and do, people to meet and talk to, coffee and beers to be drunk and food to be eaten.

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For all of that, thanks to everyone of you and especially to you Toom!! Never ever would it have been the same without you and your oasis of friends. Thanks heaps and please do come visit us anytime!

It was also fantastic to meet May, one of Torsten’s friends back from his studies in Bangkok and to see Lily, our friend from Penang again!


On off road touring, planting trees and community based tourism in southern Thailand

April 2016


After a few days of rest in Suratthani it was a bit hard to get going again – the rattan bungalows were just too comfortable. But once on the road we kept enjoying cycling in Thailand. I know I’m repeating myself but look at those roads and all the beautiful nature / rubber plantations around.

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We planned on cycling until Ranong and then staying a few days on Koh Payam. After that we wanted to do a visa run to Myanmar to extend our stay in Thailand.

With the help of GoogleMaps we cycled a two day stretch to our couchsurfing host Weena, some 40k before Ranong. While it had still been quite enjoyable temperature wise in the South around Songkhla it started to get really hot during the day.


So ice cream and pitchers of iced coffee helped :). A lot.


On our way we asked to stay in a temple for the night as there was no accommodation around. We were invited to sleep on a wooden platform and to join the evening meditation. I enjoyed learning a little about meditation and how it works to train the mind. Not an easy thing to do after cycling all day.


The next morning we got up relatively early and set off to do some off road mountain biking. Well actually that wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do at that point but you can’t always completely avoid that. So we pushed a little bit…

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…and found some really rutted and washed out roads to get our mountain biking skills to the next level.

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As I said in the last post my tolerance level for challenges like that is a lot higher now but at some point it still gets plain exhausting. So we took a break, ate all the sugary things we carried and when there was nothing left to do we kept on riding. Eventually it got better (as it always does) and I’ve never quite been so happy about the sweet tarmac road.


Back on the highway one of the screws from Torsten’s rack broke again and this time it was stuck in a way that we couldn’t fix it ourselves. Conveniently this happened right next to a coffee and motorcycle repair shop. So, first things first, a big coffee and then the mechanic welded some piece to the screw to unscrew it. Worked like a charm! In the end he didn’t even accept any payment (neither money nor coffee/food, we really tried!) – how kind!

After some more cycling we came closer to Weena’s place. We had a description and thought it would be easy to find. Unfortunately we asked a lot of people and got confusing directions. We never heard a “no, I don’t know where it is” but people sent us in different directions instead. It took us a while to understand that saying “no” or “I don’t know” is not frequently done here. In the end we cycled up and down a lot more hills and kept on cycling even when it got dark. We kept asking people because there was really nothing else we could do. And after a long time it finally worked! Someone actually knew Weena and brought us to her house.


As exhausting as the day was I still did not totally melt down as I undoubtedly would have at the beginning of our tour. I did start crying of exhaustion at some point but that was more physical than mental. My trust that all the challenges that we encounter will pass at some point is getting bigger.


Weena’s house is an absolutely beautiful place. Out in nature, surrounded by all shades of green, no internet and no phone. We had planned on staying for one night but Weena invited us to relax for a day and that seemed like the right thing to do after the day before.

Weena invites couchsurfers to her home to learn from them and with them including all of her family. So we spoke English, tried to learn a little more Thai and as per request cooked some pancakes on our stove. Weena also made beautiful dishes with ingredients from her garden and fish pond and told us about their initiatives in tree planting. From what I understood they are trying to get the government to help farmers plant trees for wood. That would benefit the farmers financially but also the communities around with better air quality. Very interesting to see local initiatives like that!


A stroll around the property revealed some fruit plants and tiny trees growing. Oh and we saw a lot of betel nuts drying by the side of the road!

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For the next day Weena and her husband were planning to go to an nearby island to check up on their community tourism project. They are building a school for locals to teach interested people how to use traditional longboats. It is mostly supposed to be for local tourists and later maybe also for international ones. The project is aiming at helping with income as fishing is not providing enough for the families. Once again we could not refuse an invitation to stay one more day as this sounded way too interesting to pass.


So we joined Weena and her husband on a boat ride…

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…towards one of the many small islands on the west coast of southern Thailand.

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We had time to wander around the island, have lunch and just hang out for a while.

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Construction for the boating school was in progress:


It was amazing to see Weena and her husband work and get some insight into problems which local communities are facing.

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On our way back Torsten got to try himself at steering a boat which was not as easy as it looks :): p1180230

Thank you so so much Weena and family for letting us stay with you and including us into your projects!! Learning about local initiatives and ideas is a great way of learning about communities and their challenges. Thank you!

Couchsurfing with Brett and Janice in Hokitika

At the moment I’m sitting in the library in Hokitika and trying to capture some of the beautiful moments of our last couchsurfing experience. For those who are not familiar with the concept of couchsurfing: It is basically an online platform where people have profiles (a little bit like facebook). But then the purpose is different from facebook: Mainly with couchsurfing people are  open to meet others – that might include having a coffee together or going out for drinks or when you travel to a place you might write a request to someone to stay with them. That someone may answer yes to your request and then subsequently host you for a couple of days. What your stay looks like is entirely up to both the host and the guest. You could go out hiking together or knit sweaters or just relax in front of the TV. Or you could each do your own thing and just meet up during the evening. Or whatever else works for you. But the important thing is that couchsurfing is not just staying for free at someone’s place but it’s about getting to know one another. And giving something back to the host.

Couchsurfing with Brett and Janice

After having some rainy days out T and I both felt the need to be inside for a bit and spend some time with nice people. So I sent out a request to Brett and Janice to which they responded quickly that we were welcome to their house. A few days later we arrived at their home which is surrounded by peaceful nature and a big dairy farm. So we sat together, had a few drinks and got to know each other. Over the next few days this conversation would continue, sometimes during the day when Brett took a break from carving greenstone or when Janice finished her first shift of milking cows for the day. We usually went to the library at some point during the day to work a little and then came back in the evening.

One of the fascinating things with couchsurfing is to me that you often get to spend time with people you wouldn’t otherwise meet – at least not for that long. Brett and Janice are not – at the moment – travelling or staying at campsites or using internet cafes. But we still got to met them and be part of their lives for a few days. Janice is by the way one of the few women in New Zealand that run a huge dairy farm – because otherwise that is still mainly a male domain. And Brett carves beautiful greenstone jewellery – a business which developed out of a hobby. And the both of them didn’t always do what they do now, quite some time ago they travelled all over New Zealand for several years and had all kinds of jobs. This is a concept which really speaks to me: Why have one job and continue doing that for the rest of your life? Why not try out different things and different concepts of living, different lifestyles to see if they fit you?

Invercargill: Kunst und Engagement

Invercargill liegt ganz im Sueden von Neuseeland. Es ist eine eher kleine Stadt, die vielen nur als Durchreisestation mit den Zielen Stewart Island oder Milford Sound dient. Wir planen, ein paar Tage zu bleiben, um nach unserer Wwoofingzeit in Tuatapere wieder ein bisschen Stadtgefuehl aufkommen zu lassen. Das bedeutet vor allem, Lebensmittel etwas guenstiger einzukaufen als in den kleinen Laeden unterwegs und noch einmal unbeschraenkt Zugang zu Internet und Strom zu haben, bevor es dann nach Stewart Island geht. Ausserdem brauchen wir Wanderschuhe fuer T. Grosse Erwartungen habe ich nicht an die Stadt, es geht eher um praktische Sachen. Da es gemuetliche Campingplaetze nur weit ausserhalb der Stadt gibt und wir auch mal wieder Lust auf andere Menschen haben, schreibe ich bei Couchsurfing zwei Hosts an, ob wir bei ihnen schlafen duerfen. Ganz ueberraschend bekomme ich innerhalb von einer Stunde zwei Zusagen und wir entscheiden uns, bei R zu schlafen.


Als wir ankommen, ist R nicht zuhause und schreibt uns per SMS, dass wir es uns gemuetlich machen sollen und wo wir das Wlan-Passwort finden koennen. Wir kommen an und sind gerade am Ueberlegen, ob wir jetzt wirklich einfach durch die offene Hintertuer reingehen sollen, als auch R mit einem weiteren Couchsurfer ankommt. R wohnt in einer WG, die hinter ihrer Kueche eine kleine abgetrennte Flaeche hat. An der Wand angelehnt befinden sich mehrere Matratzen – hier ist Platz fuer Gaeste! Wir kommen ins Gespraech und ich finde die Atmosphaere sofort sehr gemuetlich und entspannt. T und ich haben vorher schon eingekauft, um fuer alle zu kochen und so gibt es Reis mit scharfem Gemuese. Bei Musik und Gespraechen verbringen wir einen schoenen Abend zusammen und lernen noch einen weiteren Mitbewohner kennen.

Demolition World

Die naechsten Tage drehen sich um Vorbereitungen fuer Stewart Island, wo wir hauptsaechlich wandern wollen. Und trotzdem machen wir auch immer wieder mal Pause, um mit R Mittag zu essen oder kleine Ausfluege zu unternehmen. R empfiehlt uns die Demolition World – eine Ausstellung in den Randbezirken von Invercargill, die von Menschen, die normalerweise Gebaeude abreissen, zusammengestellt wurde. Als wir ankommen, bin ich unglaublich begeistert und inspiriert: Hier stehen Huetten und Haeuschen aus vergangenen Jahrzehnten, die innen drin mit allem moeglichem KrimsKrams ausgestattet sind, der teilweise aus abgerissenen Gebaeuden und teilweise aus Secondhand-Laeden kommt. Wir sehen eine alte Schule, einen alten Tante-Emma-Laden und ein altes Kino mit Kinositzen, in dem sogar ein Film laeuft. In einem verwilderten Garten steht ein Bootsgerippe, alte Baenke und ein Kinderspielplatz mit abgeblaetterten Farben.

Altes Boot


Gemuetliche Bank

In einer der Huetten stehen ganz viele alte Essensbehaelter und auf dem gedeckten Tisch steht noch Essen. Witzig sehen auch die Schaufensterpuppen aus, die zum Beispiel als Krankenschwester oder als Verkaeuferin verkleidet sind. Teilweise mit lila Haaren oder lustiger Schminke.


Und dann muesst ihr euch zu diesem Bild vorstellen, dass ueberall Huehner, Enten und Pfaue herumlaufen. Nebenan gibt es noch ein Gehege fuer Lamas und Ziegen.

Hahn zwischen Koerben 😉

Diese Zusammenstellung aus alten, teils schon vergessenen Dingen findet sich sonst oft in Museen, wo mensch eher leise sein sollte und ich fand es einzigartig toll, dass hier Tiere durchlaufen und den alten Haeusern so wieder ganz neues Leben entgegensteht. Statt andaechtiger Ruhe ist Gackern und Kraehen zu hoeren, was das alles auf eine ganz neue Art faszinierend macht!

Potluck – Veganes Engagement

Am Abend des naechsten Tages laedt uns R noch zu einem veganen Potluck ein. Das heisst uebersetzt, dass jede_r etwas veganes (ohne Fleisch, Milch, Ei und andere tierische Produkte) mitbringt und das dann mit allen geteilt wird. An sich mochte ich dieses Konzept des Mitbringens und Teilens immer schon sehr gerne und es war diesmal auch wieder unglaublich lecker! Mein Apple Crumble verschwand da schnell hinter Torten und Auflaeufen – aber ich glaube ich habe es tatsaechlich geschafft, von allen ca. 30 Gerichten zu probieren! Noch schoener fand ich an diesem Tag aber, dass ich wieder einmal in Kontakt mit engagierten Menschen gekommen bin. Dieser Kontakt, den ich in Rostock so selbstverstaendlich hatte, fehlt mir hier manchmal. An diesem Abend hatte ich aber ein paar tolle Gespraeche und habe wieder einmal gemerkt, dass es ueberall interessante und engagierte Menschen gibt – auch wenn ich es vorher nicht erwarte.

Ein Gespraech drehte sich zum Beispiel um Tierhaltung in Neuseeland. Ich habe bis jetzt nur die unzaehlig vielen Schafs- und Rinderherden auf den gruenen Weiden gesehen und hatte dadurch – ohne gross drueber nachzudenken – ein ziemlich romantisches Bild von Tierhaltung in Neuseeland. Leider gibt es aber auch hier Massentierhaltung, vor allem wohl von Rindern. Die grossen Staelle sind wohl eben nur etwas versteckter, als die Weiden.

Alles in allem, Invercargill und die Menschen dazu waren auf jeden Fall einen Besuch wert – naja eigentlich sogar zwei, wir sind nach Stewart Island nochmal 3 Tage haengen geblieben ;).