- Malaysia (public transport) 1 Week
- Indonesia (public transport) 3 Months
- Australia (motorcycle, public transport) 3 Months
- New Zealand (hitch hiking, tramping) 3 Months
- Hong Kong (sightseeing) 2 Weeks
In January my collarbone was sufficiently recovered that I could carry a light backpack and I planned a backpacking trip to Australia. To drive to Australia was no option anymore with the political problems on the way. To fly direct to Australia would be the easiest option but that's not me. So I decided to fly to Singapore and see a little of Asia first! I did the whole journey on one way tickets which suits my way of travel best but these times are gone, no way to enter a plane without a return or onward ticket anymore.
I arrived in Singapore, known as a very expensive and also very clean city. So I booked myself in the YMCA, a dormitory with 30 beds, no window, only artificial light, the whole variety of Asian odours and of course snoring people. When I woke I dressed and went out, surprise it was still dark and the streets were empty, I managed to find a clock with the local time and it was three in the morning. No way for me to go back to the YMCA as I had turned in my key so it came that I had a night visit to Singapore which I really enjoyed. Next day I booked a ticket for an overnight bus to Penang (Malaysia) where I spent one week sightseeing, enjoying the Asian food and culture …. a very pleasant stay.
From Penang I went by plane to Sumatra (Indonesia) where I travelled nearly the whole length of the Indonesian islands to Flores. Indonesia has a lot to offer, volcanos, beaches, Orang Utans, Comodo Dragons and so much more, but best for me were the people. I never before met more genuine people, unforgettable how men care for their little children – very impressive (just my 2 cents worth). I hiked a lot there, went up different volcanos like Bromo, Gunung Rinjani, Kelimutu, had my time with the Orang Utans and walked between the Comodo Dragons like one of them.
From Flores I flew with a twin engine aircraft back to Bali. Shortly after the start the twin engine Aircraft converted to a single engine aircraft, a fact the Pilot didn't bother about. We made it to Bali but knowing all the way that there was no safe landing in the forrest beneath us.
Three days in Bali were enough for me, I hired a motorbike and circumnavigated the island but that was the best I could do, Kuta with the mass tourism is just not my world. The best thing in Kuta is the airport from where I departed to Perth (Australia).
In Perth I bought a motorcycle, the legendary Yamaha XT600 Tenere which I rode south to Wave Rock then the Westcoast up to Broome, Halls Creek and the Bungle Bungle, across the Tanami track to Alice Springs and on to Ayers Rock and the Olgas. Back to Alice Springs and up the Stuart Highway to Darwin.
Australia has many highlights but to be honest Australia on a motorbike is quite boring for a guy who is used to alpine roads and curves, also it was already winter there and I had no motorcycle clothes for these conditions, so I decided to sell the bike in Darwin which surprisingly took only two days. I got AU$300 less than I payed in Perth for it and had ridden 10,000 kilometers with it – not a bad result!
From Darwin I went on by bus and hitchhiking to Mt. Isa, Cairns and basically down the east coast to Sydney and Melbourne.
From Sydney I flew to Auckland (New Zealand), a journey that would later change my life. Hitchhiking was the name of the game, the Kiwis (how the New Zealanders call themselves) are very open and interested in foreigners so it was never really a problem to catch a ride and the invitation to stay overnight followed quite often. While there I also did some tramping, NZ has some of the most scenic tramps in the world, Abel Tasman, Keppler, Caples, Routhebourn and Milford are only a few of them.
I spent two weeks on Stewart Island, went out with a fisherman, had the best blue Cod I have ever eaten, cooked just after the catch, did a few day walks and enjoyed the open hearted locals. In these weeks I meet one other tourist on Stewart Island, fifteen years later when I visited New Zealand again, Invercargill the gateway to Stewart Island was crowded with people on the way to the Island. I decided not to return to the paradise I had visited long ago.
I hitchhiked my way to Auckland again and took a flight to Hong Kong which I wanted to see before the Chinese took it over again.
What a contrast to NZ I loved it, walking through the most expensive streets with all the high price shops and a few steps off the shiny world into the real Hong Kong with bubbling street life, rickshaws, food stalls and small businesses everywhere. I stayed there with a family who rented rooms out, for me a quite cheap way to see the city with the best insider tips for free.
I had never before and haven't since seen more ships waiting in the harbour than in Hong Kong at this time, surely one of the major turntables for the world economy.
A short visit to Macau with it's Portuguese heritage and my time in Hong Kong was over. I walked to the airport which was then only a few blocks from downtown Kowloon, I did that on purpose, aware that in twelve hours I would walk on German streets, what a cultural shock after ten months on the road.