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.

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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.

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