Tag Archives: hiking

90 Second Travel in Nepal: Guest Video

The picture Ben sketched in writing of our 4 day Poon Hill trek is certainly vivid (strangely-dressed fellow travelers included), so it barely needs any accompaniment.  But to h0ld up my end of the guest posting deal, my 90 Second Travel video of the Poon Hill trek is here!

Check out Ben’s other 90 Second videos from the past 6 months…they are entertaining and perfect for those with short attention spans and love of traveling vicariously.

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Filed under Nepal, Pokhara

Urban Jungle

Many people think Hong Kong is just a city.  Until very recently, I was one of those people, and didn’t realize that in fact there is more to Hong Kong than just the urban sprawl of Hong Kong Island.  And even on that island, just away from the skyscrapers, there is an expanse of preserved parkland, which is where I ventured today, with some of the other PiA-ers who had the day off for Mid-Autumn.  HK countryside?!From the suburban edges of the city we took a walking path that led up into the mountains.  Our leader was a PiA alum now living in Hong Kong, who took us through a stream and to hilly hiking trails, which alternated between red dirt and concrete staircases that climbed up and down the small mountains overlooking the city and past the Tai Tam reservoir that serves the city.  The hike was a 3.5 hour excursion and after two days spent on planes and in the polluted city, the fresh air, exercise, and sweat all felt incredibly refreshing.  We ended on the other side of the mountains at a beach, where we were able to spend a little time before the sun set.

HK countryside, near the Tai Tam reservoir

Back in the city, I finally had the dinner version of dim sum, a Chinese family-style meal almost like tapas, which is a specialty in Hong Kong because of the major Cantonese population.  Before we even got seated, the restaurant boasted its legitimacy with a giant dried shark fin in a display case as well as live tanks of giant spider crabs, eels, and huge fish (grouper, perhaps).  Our round table had a large lazy susan in the middle, to easily share the food amongst us.  The meal started with tea all around (we picked jasmine) and then a lot of pointing at the menu to select our dishes.  I have no idea what any of them were actually called, but in rough descriptions: sweet barbecue pork, mixed mushrooms, green beans with diced pork, beef with noodles, mixed spicy vegetables, and chicken (with the head on the plate too, of course).  Absolutely incredible.

deeelish

dumpling noodle soup

Afterward, with just barely enough room for dessert, we went to a Chinese dessert shop specializing in mango, where I enjoyed mango sorbet in thick mango juice with chopped mango and sticky rice balls.  Here too, we discovered the existence of a dessert we wished we hadn’t…harsmar.  This was offered as a jelly-like topping for desserts, and none of us knew what is was.  Naturally this questioned was settled, as most are these days, by people pulling out iPhones and finding out.  The answer?  Harsmar, a Chinese dessert ingredient, is in fact dried frogs’ fallopian tubes, which are powdered and then rehydrated to make a gel.  Harsmar sundae, or hot fudge?  Tough choice.  But luckily, all the foods that I’ve had here have been phenomenal and have totally changed my perception of Chinese food from that of takeout chow mein and sweet and sour chicken.

mmmm.

Tastes like chicken...I spy a beak.

Final Hong Kong trivia: today I rode one of the trams, which are the oldest wooden-sided double-decker trams in the world.  I hear there’s a lot of competition for that title…  Tomorrow morning, back to the airport and then two more flights will bring me to Laos!

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Filed under Hong Kong

Vizzavona

And so I make my first detour. My original plan had been to leave Corte and spend two nights in Ajaccio, the modern capital of Corsica. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the warnings in my guidebook to reserve rooms early very seriously, and discovered that I was only able to get a room in Ajaccio on Sunday, unless I wanted to spend over 200 euros for Saturday night…which I didn’t, so I found a guesthouse in a town that lies between Corte and Ajaccio on the train line (there are only 2 train lines on the whole island, so there aren’t a whole lot of transportation options for those without cars) and reserved it for Saturday night. And thus I ended up in Vizzavona. The town wasn’t in my guidebook and a brief search online brought up “a town in Corsica” (thanks a lot, Wikitravel), so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

I called the hotel again to tell them what time I was arriving and asked for directions. They seemed confused and didn’t give me any. How about an address? There is no address, the guy laughed. It’s I Laricci (the name of the house). And as I got off the train, I realized why he was so amused. Two restaurants flanked the train station, and behind the station on a hill, I Laricci. And that’s the town of Vizzavona. So I get an unplanned break from sightseeing and research. I’m staying in a dorm style hostel room in a large guest complex, surrounded by mountains, and roses, and silence, except for the birds and the sounds of the old French hikers who are sharing the guest house washing their boots. This town is just off the trail of GR20, which is supposed to be sort of like the Corsican Appalachian trail (although much shorter than the US trail, it only takes 2 weeks to complete), and quite difficult, so basically the only other people in town are hoards of old retirees who have just come off the trail.

mountains--view from the backyard

mountains--view from the backyard

The guesthouse is a lovely a relaxing place, a big red-shuttered building in the midst of the Vizzavona forest. Looking out from the dormitory (the cheaper bunk-style rooms behind the main inn, where I’m staying), I can see a mountain that still has some patches of snow, and several minute waterfalls from the melting snow. I took a short walk in the nearby woods during the afternoon of my stay, something easy enough for my footwear, which is only sandals, since I didn’t anticipate leaving the beaten path. A full three-course dinner was also included with the price of the bed, so I went to bed with a very full stomach after my relaxing day in the country.

guesthouse, I Laricci

guesthouse, I Laricci

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Filed under France, Vizzavona

Albemarle County Adventures

view from the top

view from the top

Midweek, Josh and I decided to hike Humpback Rock, a few miles west of Charlottesville on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I had done the hike years before, and the 40 minute ascent didn’t sound so bad, but as the trail immediately rose sharply, I realized that it wasn’t quite as easy as it had seemed the last time…when I was 10…  Nevertheless, we made it to the top, which was completely worth the sweat for the incredible view.  Had a picnic on the rocks and headed back down, which of course took less then half as long as the climb.

accomplishment!

accomplishment!

Naturally, to relax after the hike, we decided to stop at some of the many wineries we’d passed on the drive there.  It was my first time on the local Monticello Wine Trail and I was pleasantly surprised (not that I’m an expert).  We stopped at Afton Mountain Vineyards, Veritas, and Pollak…our favorite being Veritas, pictured below, which had an incredible complex and view of the countryside.

view from the Veritas porch

view from the Veritas porch

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Filed under Charlottesville, Virginia