25 June 2013

Please visit my new blog location

From this point forward, I will no longer be updating this blogspot version of Global Goebel.  To continue reading about my travel adventures, please visit my new self-hosted site:

20 May 2013

Beeing Attacked In Bagan

Temples of Bagan

Bagan is an ancient city in Burma (also known as Myanmar).  There are literally thousands of temples and pagodas that dot the Burmese countryside in the area.  While some of these temples are popular tourist attractions, many of the smaller ones are rarely visited just because there are other more impressive temples nearby.

Everything about Bagan resonates with beauty, tradition, and peacefulness..... until you get attacked by a swarm of bees, and it becomes the setting for one of the scariest moments of your life.  This is what nightmares are made of.

15 May 2013

Through My Lens: Mongolia

Ger in the Grassland
Ger near Kharkhorin.
To view larger version:  Click Here

A couple years ago, I decided to take a last minute trip (only two weeks notice) to Mongolia to see the Naadam festival and to experience the vast openness of this primarily nomadic nation.  It was a trip where I felt I grew a lot as a photographer.  When I returned home after the trip, I was happy that I had captured my best photo set ever up to that point in time.  Looking back, there are definitely some good photos in the set, but it's pretty obvious to me that my post-processing skills were still fairly amateur (and have come a long way since).  However, like most things in life, practice makes perfect.

These are some of the photos I took during my trip to Mongolia.

10 May 2013

My Adventure With Indiana At Petra

When I found a creative and cheap way to add Bahrain and Petra onto my Kenya and Tanzania trip, I jumped at it.  The ancient city of Petra had been on my travel bucket list pretty much ever since I learned that the place where Indiana Jones finds the holy grail in "The Last Crusade" is actually a real place. 

05 May 2013

Through My Lens: Brasilia

A view of Brasilia from the TV Tower observatory.
To view larger version:  Click Here
Last year, I took a trip to Brazil with my dad and my uncle.  One of the places we visited was the capital city of Brasilia.  I had read in various blogs, articles, and guidebooks that this city is written off by a lot of travelers as being too boring.  However, as a fan of architecture and photography, Brasilia quickly become one of my favorite cities in South America.

These are some of the photos I took during our day in Brasilia.

29 April 2013

My Top 10 Experiences In North Korea

Giant Arirang Pig (20081008_0294)
Yes, this photo was really taken in North Korea.

Although it's been nearly five years since I went to North Korea as a tourist, it's one of the countries that I get asked about the most.  It's also one of the most unique and interesting places that I've ever visited.

Since I haven't written a "Top 10" list on my blog yet and they seem to be popular on most other travel blogs, I'm going to give you "My Top 10 Experiences From North Korea".

24 April 2013

Mount Kenya: The Descent

The Mt. Kenya Crew
Front row, left to right:  Harrison (porter), Peter (our guide), Steven (porter).
Middle row, left to right:  Charles (porter), David (porter), Craig.
Back row, left to right:  Me, George (assistant guide), David (cook), Dave, Samuel (porter)

After successfully reaching the summit of Lenana Peak this morning, we enjoy a celebratory cup of hot coffee and some breakfast while taking in the beautiful views from Shipton's Camp.  Yesterday when we arrived at camp we couldn't see much due to the clouds, and then this morning we couldn't see much because it was still dark.

We lounge around camp, taking naps, resting our feet, and repack our gear before leaving camp again at 12:30pm for what we think will be a slow, easy hike.

20 April 2013

Mount Kenya - Day 4: Lenana Peak, Reaching The Summit

It's A Beautiful Morning
The view from Lenana Peak

Today is the day that I either will make it to Mount Kenya's Lenana Peak, or I will have to admit defeat in a high-altitude trekking endeavor for the first time in my life.

I peel myself out of my sleeping bag at 2:30am after barely sleeping last night.  Before leaving, I manage to drink one cup of tea, but can't bring myself to force any of the biscuits down that our crew has laid out for us.  I'm having a hard time distinguishing between the symptoms of not sleeping much, not eating enough over the last couple days, being congested from a cold, and general altitude sickness.  I know that Craig has been struggling with altitude also, and I find myself thinking that if he were to back out this morning and not make an attempt at the summit, then I might back out too.

We had planned to leave Shipton's Camp at 3am, but don't actually leave until 3:30.  It's dark and cold outside, and I'm not feeling very confident about making it to the top of Lenana Peak (4985m / 16,355ft).

16 April 2013

Mount Kenya - Day 3, Burguret Route

Are We There Yet?

When I wake up at Mount Kenya's Highland Castle camp on Day 3 of our trek, I have a bit of a headache.  It isn't too severe and is gone by the time I finish my coffee at breakfast, but it is an omen for how my day is going to go.

Our hike today involves 5-6 hours of walking to the point where the Burguret Route joins the Summit Circuit.  Then, we will have to cross the Hausberg Col (4600m / 15,091ft) before descending to Shipton's Camp, which serves as the base camp for Lenana Peak on this side of the mountain.

11 April 2013

Local Guides: Burma - Bagan

Htay Win - Burmese Photographer and Guide
Htay Win poses next to some of his photographs.
"Local Guides" will be a recurring theme here at Global Goebel Travels, where I recommend local guides from the various locations that I visit around the world.

Burma, and especially Bagan, was a destination to which I wanted to travel since soon after I began traveling internationally in 2001.  Like many travelers to Burma, I spent my time seeing the "Big Four" destinations of Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, and Inle Lake when I was there.  While researching the trip online, I came across some webpages advertising photography tours of Bagan.  With my interests in old temples and in photography, I thought this sounded like a great way to spend a day or two of my trip.  The dates mentioned online didn't fit into my travel schedule.  Nevertheless, after sending a few emails, I was referred to a licensed Bagan guide named Htay Win, who happened to also be a photography enthusiast.

07 April 2013

The Story Behind The Photo: The Heart of Darkness - Nyiragongo Volcano

The Heart of Darkness [Explored] 

"The Story Behind The Photo" is a recurring theme here at Global Goebel Travels, where I chose one of my favorite travel photos and tell the story behind shooting it.

* * * * * * *

In my last "The Story Behind The Photo" post, I featured the Darvaza Gas Crater in Turkmenistan.  Now, I'm going to feature another photo of a large burning hole in the ground.  However, this one is created by Mother Earth instead of by a Soviet industrial accident.

31 March 2013

Mount Kenya - Day 2, Burguret Route

Approaching Highland Castle

I’m half awake and lying in my tent at the Giant Bamboo Camp, which is our first campsite of the Burguret Route on Mount Kenya. I’ve had the urge to pee for at least a few hours now, but haven’t been able to muster up the energy or overcome my fear to leave the tent.

Fear?... What fear?

29 March 2013

Local Guides: Indonesia - Krakatau

Me and our guide, Gimon
Gimon and me on Anak Krakatau, Dec 2012.
"Local Guides" will be a recurring theme here at Global Goebel Travels, where I recommend local guides from the various locations that I visit around the world.
In December, I visited Anak Krakatau, or "Child of Krakatau", as a weekend getaway from Jakarta.  After contacting a few different companies, I eventually settled on a company called Ndeso Adventure.  After settling all the details, they hooked me up with a guide named Gimon.  Oddly enough, after working in Indonesia for seven years, he's the first person I've ever met named Gimon.

27 March 2013

Mount Kenya - Day 1, Burguret Route

These Trees Can Talk

It’s February 18, the day after my 36th birthday. Where have all my years gone? I’m starting another trek today, on another trip, to yet another country. Is this really only my 51st country? Wait… this is my 51st country. Although I haven’t made it to every country in the world as some bloggers my age have, nor have I even joined the travelers’ century club, 51 countries is no small achievement. By the time I finish this 25-day trip, I will have increased my total to 54 countries. At that point, I will have been to more countries than I have been to Pearl Jam concerts! (Anyone who knows me personally can attest to the fact that is a shocking statistic).

My 51st country is Kenya, and I’m here to climb Mount Kenya, the second tallest mountain in Africa, as a warm-up for my climb of Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa. It should be noted, though, that my group was only climbing to the top of Lenana Point, the third highest peak on Mount Kenya and the highest one that you can reach without any technical climbing skills or equipment. At 4985m (16355 ft), however, making it to the summit of Lenana Point is no small feat.

22 March 2013

One Day In Bahrain

Do you think this grass will clean my teeth?

As the "Arab Spring" spread through the Middle East, Bahraini citizens began their own uprising in February of 2011 with hope of gaining more political freedom and more respect for human rights from the monarchy. These protests and riots are still breaking out on a regular basis in this small island country in the Persian Gulf. More than 80 people have died in Bahrain during two years of political unrest. However, during my recent trip to Bahrain, everything was quiet.

As you may have guessed, Bahrain was not in the original plans for my Kilimanjaro-climbing trip. When booking my flights to/from Nairobi using frequent flyer miles, I ended up with a three-day stopover in Dubai. At the time, I was thrilled since I had never been to Dubai and was curious about seeing Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, as well as some of the other architectural gems of the gulf city-state. Little did I know that two months after confirming my Nairobi flights, I would end up on a flight for work that included a 19-hour Dubai layover that was more than enough time for me to get a taste of the overdone Middle Eastern excess of the city. Immediately, I began to brainstorm other alternatives for my Dubai stopover.

12 March 2013

Conquering Kilimanjaro

We made it!

I’m at the top of Africa.  This is the highest point on the earth between the Himalayas and the Andes.  This is Uhuru Peak on Mount Kilimanjaro.  The sun is rising over the horizon, which looks endless from this elevation on the highest freestanding mountain in the world.  Taking my camera out of my bag requires extra concentration from my oxygen-deprived brain and extra effort from my fingers that have been numbed by the bitterly cold wind.  I’m nearly overcome by emotion as Aloyce, my guide, hugs me and says “Congratulations!”  I made it!

* * * * * * *

Aminieli, one of our porters, shakes my tent at 10:35pm.  I’d barely slept in the last four hours after dinner; my mind was filled with anxious thoughts about making it to Kili’s summit.  After all, yesterday when we arrived at the Barafu base camp, we watched as several dazed-looking people, barely able to walk on their own, were being led down with arms over the shoulders of their guides and assistants.  One relatively fit-looking guy in his 20s or 30s was even being led down with an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth.

01 March 2013

Travel Tip: Currency Exchange in Burma

Kyat Attack
© Ryan Goebel
The currency in Burma is known as the Kyat, which when pronounced sounds more like "chat".

Pretty much every guidebook, travel blog, or message board post will tell you not to exchange money at any official currency exchange location (airports, banks, hotels, etc.).  Rather, they'll tell you to exchange your money on the black market, which involves approaching some shady characters on street corners, in public parks, or in traditional markets.

Let me tell you, Burma is a country that is changing at a very rapid pace, and this "common" travel advice is now outdated and irrelevant.

23 February 2013

Success! Lenana Peak, Mt. Kenya

Lenana Peak, Mt. Kenya
© Ryan Goebel, 2013

On Thursday, 21 February 2013, at around 7am (Kenya time), I successfully made it to the top of Lenana Peak on Mount Kenya.

15 February 2013

The Story Behind The Photo: "Door to Hell" -- The Darvaza Gas Crater

"Door to Hell" -- The Darvaza Gas Crater
© Ryan Goebel, 2010

"The Story Behind The Photo" will be a recurring theme here at Global Goebel Travels, where I choose one of my favorite travel photos and tell the story behind shooting it.

One of the most popular photos over at my Flickr site, is "Door to Hell" -- The Darvaza Gas Crater.  I took this photo on a trip to Turkmenistan in May 2010.

The Darvaza Gas Crater is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Turkmenistan and probably one of the most bizarre attractions in the world.  This huge burning crater, often referred to by locals as the "The Door To Hell", is located in the middle of the Karakum desert about 260km (160 miles) north of Ashgabat.

12 February 2013

My Words About Their Words: Kilimanjaro

At 19,341ft (5895m) above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain on the African continent and the tallest freestanding mountain in the world.  Kilimanjaro is actually a dormant volcano consisting of three volcanic cones: Shira, Mawenzi, and Kibo.  Uhuru Peak is the highest point on the rim of Kibo and thus the highest point on the mountain and in Africa.  Conveniently, Uhuru Peak can be summitted without any climbing equipment or technical mountain climbing skills.  You just have to be able to withstand the effects of an altitude where there's half the amount of oxygen in the air as at sea level, bear the subzero temperatures, and walk to the top.  It sounds so simple, but my past experience with high altitude trekking in the Himalayas and written accounts of Kilimanjaro "climbs" tell me otherwise.

Kilimandjaro by Jeremy V on Flickr (used with permission)

In preparation for my upcoming "climb" of Kilimanjaro,

09 February 2013

Travel Tip: How to get a Burmese visa in Bangkok

Back in October, I traveled to Burma (also known as Myanmar).  I am often asked about the process required for getting a visa to this beautiful and rapidly changing Southeast Asian nation.  Although I plan on writing more posts about Burma, I'd like to share with you my experience getting my Burmese visa in Bangkok (often considered the easiest place to get the Burmese visa and a common gateway to Burma).

The Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in Bangkok is located at 132, Sathorn Nua Rd in Silom. It’s a relatively short walk from the Surasak BTS Skytrain station.  Use Exit 3 from the Surasak station and walk down to street level.  Turn right at the bottom of the stairs so that you are walking along the sidewalk underneath the Skytrain station and past the Skytrain’s escalator entrance.  Continue walking along Sathorn Road past Bangkok Christian School.  The Myanmar Embassy is at the corner of Sathorn Road and Thanon Pan (see map).

How to get a Myanmar (Burma) visa in Bangkok
© Ryan Goebel

The following items are required to obtain a visa:

Selamat Datang!

In Bahasa Indonesia, "selamat datang" means "welcome".  This blog entry is a short introduction to me and my new blog "Global Goebel Travels".


The entire world....  I'm from a small town in southern Illinois and currently work in Indonesia.


My last name.....  My family's ancestors were German farmers that immigrated to the American Midwest in the mid-1800's.


It's what I do....  In 2001, I used frequent flyer miles to get to Thailand on my first trip outside of North America.  I've been in love with travel since about my second day on that trip and have been to 50 countries (and counting) since.

The Sisophan fruit girls and me
Here's a photo of me from that first international trip with 
some girls selling fruit in Sisophan, Cambodia.
© Ryan Goebel

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