Krampuslauf 2018! (Salzburg, Austria)

Krampus, if you're unaware, is a wonderful Christmas tradition in the Bavarian region of Germany and parts of Austria. While Santa is a jolly fat old man who rewards good children with toys and goodies, Krampus is like his evil sidekick. He's a horned, cloven-hooved demon who kidnaps bad children, tortures them with switches and [...]


April 25-26 1986 saw the worst nuclear disaster to date: the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine. For nearly 3 days, the USSR managed to keep the disaster a secret from the world. During that period, the people living in the immediate vicinity continued their lives, unaware of the danger and radiation they [...]

Transnistria (and Moldova)

Oh, Transnistria, you're so cute. You want so desperately to be a real country, but nobody will actually take you seriously. Transnistria (aka Pridnestrovia) is a strip of land along the eastern border of Moldova, Europe's poorest country. A remnant of the USSR, it claimed sovereignty during the 1990s and actually had armed conflict with [...]

From Russia with ❤️

What comes to mind when you picture Siberia? Lots of snow? Dogsleds? Big furry hats? As part of my journey along the Trans-Siberian/Trans-Mongolian Railway, I spent some time in Irkutsk, Siberia, Russia. Back in its heyday, Irkutsk was a major trading city and the regional capital. Although it has waned in importance, it's still a [...]

Homestay with the Mongolian nomads

The best and the worst part of my time in Mongolia was the three nights/four days I stayed in the gers of nomadic families out in the countryside. I had arranged the stays through Ger-to-Ger, a community-centered ecotourism company I had read about on another blog. (If you're planning a trip to Mongolia, I recommend [...]

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia, is not a pretty city. It does hold the record for being the World's Coldest Capital, though, so at least it has that going for it? My first impression upon arriving and making my way to my AirBnB flat was that the traffic is surprisingly bad. Most everywhere reeks of [...]

Do you come from a land Down Under?

Australia is not the most exotic of locations for a westerner like myself to visit. Barring the Outback and whatnot, it felt a bit like the USA more than once. Cairns, especially, reminded me of South Carolina specifically: palm trees, wide lanes for traffic, hot and humid weather, wooden fences around some houses with front [...]