Kazahkstan

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The world is based on discrepancy, we talk about man world’s. while we travel by trucks  through this endless deserts, we see the signs of the road in cyrillic alphabet which was probably a discrepancy on the greek and latin alphabet. we see the mosques and we think that Islam was a disagreement with judaism and cristianism , each new religion renounces from the old ones and in the same way the nationalism make its own justification, that’s the price for diversity: dissent.

The Kazakhs are neither a cannibal tribe nor  the bullshit of “Borat”, instead they are people halfway between russians and chineses living in the eighth biggest country in the world enjoying the benefits of gas and petrol on the steepes of Central Asia, in fact they are the most prosperous country of the “Stans”

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the flag at the checkpoint, that is how they write it.

We got in through the back door after camp in the border checkpoint at the Kyrgyz side in the Karkara valley. As we got in , the landscape showed us a different skin comparing with what we used to see the last couple of months. here there are only dry low hills less spectacular, comparison target is too high and Kazakhstan suffer it in its own flesh.

We got to Almaty tired about travel through 4000 meters, where rain, wind and extreme hot and cold could happen within 10 minutes of difference and the continues deja vu of find a russified city after another.

In our weakness we took any sing of comfort as hard as we could like scared cats, just a sin to the eyes of who dictate travelers values against wi-fi and fast food. we still keep vices and sedentary needs rooted in us, perhaps that’s why we did not go out from the hotel despite Almaty being a pleasant city without chaos, clean and with mountains at the backyard. poor little girl, we treated her like a occasional lover, without care.

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one of the drivers who took us through the Kazakh desert.

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the Karashyk river was our home for one night.

We left hitch hike instead we took a train for get out from the city on te way to Turkestan where we saw a small Samarkand and the same day we walked out the city to the west where we decided to start to hitch hike again .

A muslim guy stopped with his car for drive us 5 kilometers until the small river where we camped that night, he offered us money 5 times and we rejected it, the last one he literally throw us the money and ran away so we could not give him back. it was the end of ramadan.

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Really ? are you from Argentina??? (Turkistan, press conference at the supermarket)

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this family saw us passing by and wanted to give us this watermelon, unfortunately was too heavy for our backpacks.

we understand we are part of a chain and the money went to someone who really need it more than us.

That night we camped behind a truck parking.

We felt it again, if there is such a situation to see a lady with no face holding a torch , that is taking a shower at the desert with  only a plastic bottle as a shower. Liberty is not at the indepence of a country, is in the simple things, a coffee sitting on the backpack beside the road , to decide each night if would be better to sleep by the river or by the tree, such things seems to the nothing face of liberty.

Subimos en Kyzylorda, acampamos en Aral y fuimos juntos hasta Aktobe en la frontera con Rusia donde nos reaprovisionamos antes de cruzar.

Mihail and Timur, an Ukranian and a georgian, drove us through more than 1000 km in 2 days across the country and we only saw a desert similar to Patagonia and we remembered our working days in Argentina when we travelled every week from Buenos Aires to the south with the small difference that here there was camels and horses running around. we are on the way to Russia, our plans have changed in five minutes after someone told us the ferry from Kazakhstan to Baku, Azerbaijan, is very erratic and only god knows when departs.

We jumped in at Kyzylorda and we camped in Aral, then we went together to Aktobe just 70 km away from the border with Russia where we got some food for the next days.

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Timur, the faithful spirit of the georgian people. his belly is big as his heart.

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la pequeña Samarkanda en Turkestan a 500 km de Almaty. este lugar formo parte del imperio de Tamerlan.

The next day we went out from our tent to breathe the air of the russian morning and the only truck in the parking area was the Timur’s truck, the georgian. Someone said that when you travel you represent in some ways your country, your people, your culture. Perhaps the only parameter available in thousands of kilometres to see and got the idea about how a southamerican looks like would be you. Timur was just right the georgians are, we know it well. we hope Ukrainians will not be as the ukranian truck driver.

Anyways we enjoyed and suffered one more time of the truckers world between perfums, old fashion pop music, messy schedules and loneliness as always we climb the three steps from beside the road, it does not matter the flags, they are a universal stereotype that join the same characteristic independently of their beliefs or culture and thanks to them we go far …very far away.

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and on the way was Jordan…

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we had to change our itinerary of way out from Egypt if we really wanted to go to Iran afterwards. that is because the bureaucracy says nobody who has an Israeli stamp in his passport can not enter to the country, that is why we change our mind and in the way we found Jordan
the Hachemit kingdom of Jordan is a constitutional monarchy a peace oasis between Syria,Iraq,Palestine, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. despite being surrounded by mess it manage enough to keep besides all the violence on middle east.

we took an eternal ferry from nuweiba from egyptian soil and we skipped Israel for a while just to get to the Jordanian port city of Aqaba, where the ambient and the air is quite different from that in Egypt.

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the best friend of a man in the desert. ( Wadi Rum)

We realizad about that as we walked looking for a place to camp near the beach, women sitting among men smoking nargile, tidy traffic and gazes of curiosity and welcoming. Salaj was calling us, a palestinian man that came as a refugee long time ago , invited us to sit down with his friends, we asked him where we can find a place for set up our tent and he kindly said: right here ! pointing at his orchard 30 meters away from the sea in the middle of the city.
He was living at Wadi Rum around 50 km from there right at the desert, he gave us his telephone number in case we pass through there, a real gentleman giving us the official welcome to Jordan.
the next day we tried to walk away from the city center on the way to the dead sea. the first car stop in no more then 15 minutes.
Khalil drove us 7 km just outside the city but with enough time to updating us about the latest news, the king of Jordan was in Aqaba and there was a snow storm coming up to Petra the next days.

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praying in the desert, always in direction to Mecca. (Wadi Musa)

The second car took us to the police check point, the young guy work there. we asked what he think about the king of Jordan and we had the same answer as the guy before: we love the king ! we knew afterwards that make any offense against the image of the monarchy is punished for the law with jail. Abdullah’s II photo is all over the country.

An electronic engineer drove us 200 km until the dead sea where that night we planned to camp. during the trip we talked about the king, politics and above all, Islam. The man was very sure on his faith and despite that we were not agree in all the aspects, he gave us back the trust in people but no in religion.
we camped by the dead sea during the coldest wave in years, something rare for these neighborhoods. the next day rain, wind and goodbye to our plans to float on the dead sea.
we continued hitch hiking until the border with Palestine, a beduin drove us in his truck.
We crossed some days to palestine , we gonna tell about that on a later post, and we came back to Jordan to go deeper in it.

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Beduin woman at Petra coming for sell souvenirs.

A day in the life:
We woke up beside the road in our little yellow house a few kilometres after Madaba. The sunshine remembered us that we forgot to float on the dead sea and experiment the physics in it, the first time we could not do it because the deadly trident: rain,cold and wind.
this was our chance.
we came back to Madaba where it says that god showed the promise land to Moses with a forty something years old guy. in 10 minutes we were at the church that remember that story with byzantines mosaics but we continue our way down because the church was close, Jesus don’t want us for a sunbeam.

two beduins took us in their truck on the back side, the best place for see the mountains, the sheeps and the beduin tents by the road.
we jumped into the water and we floated at the dead sea, photo and coming back to Maqaba while the shopkeepers nearby were watching Barbara coming out from the water.
On the way back we did not even rose our arms and Salem, the man with 2 wives and mahmoud with only one gave us a ride. According to the word of Allah is allow to have until 4 wives. Salem is jordanian, Jordan is an arab muslim country, the arabs muslims are under the islamics laws therefore Salem is on his own right. Mahmoud also but he said that he has no enough money for that.

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Salem, the guy trucker with two wives.

he stopped at the center of the town and he gifted us water, soft drinks, chocolates and falafel sandwiches and took us to a cafe beside the road just outside the town for say goodbye with our picture of Iguazu waterfalls of Argentina in his pocket, that was our way to say thanks for to much.

5 minutes later the owner of the shop invited us to spend the night at his house. the second invitation in less than 10 minutes after Salem.
But the third one came from father and son when they gave us a ride to the next town. the destiny is weird and after all we ended up sleeping at our tent that night near the Karak castle, made by the crusaders 1000 years ago.

Next day we continue to Wadi Musa, the town that has one of the seven man made wonders of the world, la Nabatean city of Petra totally sculpted on the rocks with almost 2000 years old.

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Yoma, our beduin friend.

that day we travelled with at least 10 different cars. one of the most remembered for us was “Yoma” a beduin who live between the mountains in his tent, he invited us for a tea and after he dropped us off at the police check point.

Kaldon was a delivery guy who was on the way to Wadi Musa, he had our same age. we made the last part of the job with him, he was so tired and he managed to smoke 4 packs of cigarettes per day as he confessed , is the way to stay wake up, he said. his lungs could be destroyed but his heart was in very good conditions.

when we got to Wadi Musa and he called to his brother who was english teacher. he translated us what Kaldon said: you are welcome here in our house in Amman at any time. we said thank you but was the place where we were coming. we gave him a picture of Argentina and he went down to rest. he deserved it.

Soon we found a place to put our little yellow house and we went to sleep with ours bellies empty and our hearts full.

we putted our heads waiting for the axe coming down and the 70 dollars that we had to pay for the ticket fee to Petra a Unesco world heritage with prices from another world.
The place itself is incredible even when you think about it, a lost city made of rock in the middle of the desert of a lost civilization seems that came out from a movie. probably that’s why the people remember more “Indiana Jones” than the nabatean civilization itself. anyway we did not know anything neither about even 5 minutes before pay the ticket but we know who is harrison Ford for sure.

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that street was made by the romans, the camels step on more than 2000 years history.

we read that the scholars do not know much about this civilization neither, only that they worshipped a god called “Diushara” and that most of the big buildings are tombs but they know Harrison Ford for sure.

We left Petra and we went finally 105 km to Wadi Rum, besides its beauty is also famous for be the place where “Lawrence of Arabia”the british that joined and fought in favor of the arabs in the early 20 century, near the border with Saudi Arabia. We got there at the sunset just on time for put our tent by a 2000 years old Nabatean temple.

The next day we went deep into the desert and we found some tents made from wool that belongs to a beduin family. Merbarak came out to find us and invited us to stay.

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Merbarak’s mosque pointing the Mecca.

His family belongs to a beduin tribe from Arabia, when there was no limits they went and came all over the area, until the 20 century someone created the borders and a small part of the tribe remained at Jordan and the other one in Saudi Arabia.
We got into the tent and was incredibly fresh, divided into sections for man and woman. the female section is called “Haram” that means “no allowed”, from there the word “Harem”
the mother of Merbarak brought some tea and after her the two daughters showed up. when we tried to appoint the names for remember, Merbarak said kindly: sorry but is not allowed to take photos nor write the names of the woman in our culture.BAR_1323
He was 17 years old and was a smart young guy with great capacity and keen to learn english. While we shared the tea we saw ourselves explaining the problematic of the argentinian politics to a beduin family in the middle of the jordan desert with a great synthesis :
“Politician, take the money away, people poor” a minimalistic concept well applicated we guess.
after we did show them where we are from on the map, Merbarak’s mother asked us if we have rain in Argentina, a serious subject for people who live in the desert and hardly see some drops during months.
we came out for a walk in the desert and when we came back Merbarak’s father was at home with all the goats and they were waiting for us for dinner. we sat on the floor around the fire and after the dinner the chief of the family started to smoke on a pipe made from stone and wood meanwhile they stood up and gathered in front the TV for the ritual of 8 pm.

Women crying, love stories, tears at beduin camps in the middle of the desert with advertisement every 10 minutes with the same kind of propaganda that you could see in every part of the world but adapted for semi nomads.

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the view from our tent. better than that one in our aparment in Buenos Aires.

it does not matter where you are , you always will get the soap advertisement with the smiley guy making an interview to ecxited house wives, in this case with hijab

Our days at the desert were finish. Ali and his friend drove us until the Aqaba port where we had to take a ferry back to Egypt, but first we stopped on the way at the university where his friend study for drink the last coffee with cardamom.
The University is public in Jordan is public but cost u$700 per month. it was not that public taking into account that not many Jordanians can afford it.
I study because i got a big farm. Ali does not study because he has a small farm and his father passed away so he must work for support his 4 brothers, his friend says.

Ali was the last Jordanian that we met in his land. hi said goodbye at the port before we take the ferry. we crossed our ways and when we though in him once again we already left Jordan.

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Leaving las Vegas, nah, Wadi Musa. the red stuff on the backpack is our blanket.

 

Hitchhicking rules

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The game consists in reach to destiny without use any public transport.

The player must be located besides the road or highway. must extend one arm with the thumb also extended , the other fingers refolded and smile kindly. ( consider that extend the thumb in some countries it means something like fuck you so the player must search for another alternative)

The player will must wait patiently until an eventually future friend will stop and will invite to him to share the journey.

The driver will ask things such where is the player coming from, how is that place, where we want to go and if he likes the place he is traveling through.

The top brands cars such as Ferraris, Mercedes Benz, lamborghini, porsche, etc, are considered with  low probabilities to enter in the game in opposite situation comparing with vehicles more crumbled that has more possibilities to stop.

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Smile Kindly, important rule for the game of life. Osaka Japan.

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A player at an adverse field, all the cars go on another direction. be patient. georgian-turkish border.

The drivers of crumble cars and trucks are, according to the surveys, suffer from excellent heart health. unfortunately , we don’t have data from the high end cars drivers.

In case of bad weather, is important to find a suitable place to carry on with the practice . the most suitable is the indoor mode with its take place at service or petrol stations, tolls or shelters.

Like at football and different of what one can suppose, the muddy field makes the things more difficult.

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No cars? relax. Mongolia.

The rain is not propitious for make new friends. A mathematic survey from the ancient Greece says that the probabilities that a player has to be lifted for a new friend on a rainy day are inversely proportional to the quantity of water that is falling at that moment.

The romans, more subjectives held that depended on how wet the player is.

The break of preconcerts add a very important mark in the game. for example:

We believe that a Mercedes Benz will never stop and stop, or a muslim takes the player near his destiny and to win the game, adding many points , breaking the concept of muslim=terrorist.

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Fancy car, broken preconcept. South Korea.

It is strictly prohibited any monetary transaction either get or give money away. the player who infringes this rule would be penalized by the god of the highway soon or later .

In case of idiomatic barrier,  all possible means are allowed for an optimal communication  such as signs, dictionaries, mobiles phones, apps, body language etc.

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any feature is allow to get out from the siberian cold. Russia.

In exchange, the player must offer a genuine cultural exchange experience through words, new ideas, information even material objects that could represent his culture or not and give to the driver the possibility to meet people from very far away countries and tell in first person avoiding the information that comes through satellite.

The player must be interested and try to inquire into the costumes, how is life there and maintain attentive the senses to music, smells and flavors that could appear at any time during the way.

The idiomatic barrier , the fatigue and mood could be cause of a silent trip. sometimes even when there is silence and no verbal communication, there is some kind of complicity and will be totally valid. Just the simple companionship will be enough and both sides have won a new friend in this game where everybody wins.

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The postman is a good friend of hitch hike players in Taiwan. Taroko, Taiwan.

And the winners are…

 

Jordan in 19 images

Could be 20 but we like the number 19.

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view from our tent. Wadi Rum desert, south Jordan.

Jordan is a kingdom of peace between places in conflict,we travel all the way hitch hicking and doing free camping without any problem. we were invited to spend the night at the house of the 80% of the people who picked us up.

the photo before was taken by a Nabatean temple of 2000 years, near where we set up our tent, in Wadi rum. the Nabateans were the civilization that left the heritage of the modern arabic writing but despite this there is no much information about them.

 

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Roman amphitheater of Amman. was created on 2nd century a.c. and has 6000 seats when the name of the city was Philadelphia under the roman empire.

 

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Going out from Wadi Rum, we started to walk from the small village within the reserve area and 20 minutes later a car stopped for us and took us to Aqaba where we had to take the boat back to Egypt. the red stuff on the backpack is our blanket.

 

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floating on the dead sea. is actually a salt lake that is in the lowest place of the world comparing with the sea level. due it high density because its salt, is possible floating easily without effort. we had to do it…

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Vandalism in petra. is sad to pay the high price of the ticket entry to petra  (50 dinars something like u$ 70) and find this graffitis on a 2000 years facade, a world heritage.

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the beduins in Wadi Rum are nomads that has different tribes. when the borders were set, the tribes were divided between Jordan and saudi Arabia. some of them live on tourism some other still on their live cattle and camels.

 

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the monastery in Petra, one of the 7 wonders of the world made by the man. is an entire city made on the rocks although some archeologist says that most of the great facades are tombs.

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Temple of Hercules in Amman. the capital of jordan is one of the oldest cities in the world  and you can realize easily as you will see roman, byzantine and umayyad remains.

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Red sand red baby, at Wadi rum, just 50 km away from the Saudi Arabian- Jordan border.

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Beduin forces officers in Petra, they are considered the heirs of this place that’s why you can see a strong beduin presence all over the place. some of them still use the traditional wearing some others not.

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Our beduin friend Yoma picked us up on the way to Wadi Musa, where Petra is, and invited us for a tea despite he did not speak any english at all. he lived in a tent at the mountains taking care of his cattle. this is a good example about that sometimes does not matter which language you speak if you have something to say.

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To put a picture of a camel is a must if you been in the middle east. this one was in Wadi Musa.

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You can see the marks of the bullets of the treasures hunters of early 20 century on the facades at Petra. there was a myth that said there was a treasure inside the facades somewhere in the pink city.

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The hand of hercules, Amman.

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A beduin woman comes to work every day for sell souvenirs to tourist from the village near Petra. the impact of Siria conflict is visible in the few tourists you can see here today and is affecting its economy.

 

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Despite they are in the picture, the main transport at Petra are donkeys and horses, nowadays camels are sold for eat its meat. sad.

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On the way to…

 

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These are not just stones on the ground,there is the mosque of the beduin family where we spend one night. always pointing to Mecca, on that way 50 km from here Saudi Arabia.

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Our friend Salem was a truck driver who was out of duty and drove us from the dead sea to Madaba. He has 2 wives , yes 2. even the islamics laws allow until 4 but he said that 2 is enough.

 

Our top 5 countries in almost 4 year traveling.

we were on debt, after 3 years and 4 months of travel around the world, it came to us to make a blog and we just decided to do it in the worst conditions as possible, here in Egypt where internet seems made by pharaohs not because its majestity but  for it crappy condition.

That leaded us to take this terrible decision was the felling that we are loosing many things, places, people and experienceces we don not want to fall into oblivion. Facebook got small for us to tell and explain stories and we realize that people lost time to play candy crush if they read something big size, therefore if you are reading this for sure you are not among those who are playing candy crush.

  

This is our top 5 of countries choosen by finger and heart*

1- India:

A Color, smells and taste chaos. the best and the worst of the human being you can find it in 10 mts. any definition is meaningless. either you love it or you hate it, or just both at the same time.

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Allahabad, India, january 2013. the Sadhus of all over India gather at this celebration of the hinduism during the Rhumba Mela, the biggest religious celebration in the world. all in India is multitudinary.

2-New Zealand:

the most beautiful country we saw with one of the most civilized populations. All works good and its aboriginal culture is one of the most authentic of the world.

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A metaphor about how is New Zealand, a little boat called Liberty.

A metaphor of how is New Zealand, a little boat called liberty.

3-Indonesia:

Nice people,nice beaches, every island is a different culture under the same flag.

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Bromo volcano, Java. Indonesia has an intense volcanic activity because its location over the fire ring of the pacific.

4- Taiwan:

The devil never pass through Taiwan, its people don’t know evilness. we never saw a single taiwanese angry but only when we crashed the acrylic of a motorbike that was on the pathway by mistake and the owner try to make us pay for it.

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Taiwan east coast, the easiest country to hitch hike for far, we never wait more than 10 minutes, that talks about taiwanese hospitality.

5- Georgia:

the inventors of the wine must be in this top 5. humble and well educated people, generous , mountains, valleys, tasty food and cheap and above all too much history all comprised on a country of only 700 km wide.

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the mountains of Caucasus and its valleys.

Bonus Track:

Mongolia:

In the middle of the nowhere always there is a white rounded shape tent smoking, that’s Mongolia. and why so special ? is authentic , despite the progress is coming and maybe in the next generations will eat it up the 50 % of nomads that still lives on the steppes, plus they are buddhist, with all their color.

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the ger and the nothing, that is the typical postcard of Mongolia despite more families are moving to the big cities and the nomad tradition is losing away.

golden boot for Japan

the nippons are an example in matter of social order based on mutual respect, something that is losing its significance in western culture although this has a cost that is reflected on the social pressure that they suffer for don’t be out of tune. anyway is a little, pretty, clean, safe country.

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A japanese bride showing her dress at Ise, where the most sacred shintoist temple is.

*Este ranking esta sujeto a modificaciones

these ranking is subject to changes…

If we had a good internet connection, we would put more photos and fix some mistakes but computing is winning the race against us.

better times will come and more posts with it…

cheers ! Barbara and Dario.