“I got this photograph in an email and it is one of those pictures that you wonder where in god’s name is that…”

This is the opening line in a video made by Robin Esrock. He was hiking in Mount Hua 华山 in a quest to reach a lofty teahouse located on one of the southern peaks.

Previously, the only association I had with Mount Hua was the fictional Huashan Sect 华山派. I grew up watching Chinese martial arts films, often trying to re-enact some of the kicks and punches in front of the TV. I always thought it was a shame that my mum refused to let me enroll in taekwondo or karate.

F1100009c

I digressed.

A few months ago, I read an article about a teahouse in Mount Hua that can only be reached by climbing a steep flight of steps and a narrow plank walkway nailed into the side of the mountain. Your only lifesavers are your harness and the metal chain that you can hold onto while shuffling against the mountain face.

The photos and the videos of this perilous section of the hike are enough to deter me from considering a visit to the teahouse in Huashan. While there are no official statistics, fatalities (i.e. people plummeting to their deaths) happen from time to time.

I’ll pass.

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I do not have a bucket list of things I want to do or experience. There are too many things that pique my interest, so there’s no point making a list. I rather just enjoy every moment as they come and not have to be bothered with checking things off a list.

When I was working for Banyan Tree, I would receive travel magazines from media agencies hoping to convince me to advertise in these publications. One of the perks of my former job: Free quality magazines like Condé Nast Traveler, Monocle and Travel+Leisure!

One day, in 2007, I read an article on the Picos de Europa in now defunct Gourmet magazine. In it was a picture that immediately captivated and mesmerised me. This was, and still is, a rare occurrence.

I cut out the article and put it into a folder of travel articles that I found interesting or inspiring.

While the file collected dust over time, this image of a tiny village nestled in the shadows of rocky mountains and dense, mysterious clouds remained vividly stuck in my mind.

Every now and then, I would see something that would remind me of it and I would remind myself to flip through my folder to recall where in the world is that mountain village. I kept procrastinating.

Last year, this memory was triggered by something I was reading. This time, I immediately said to AB that we should go to Asturias in summer. And we did.

The Picos de Europa was more than what I expected with its impressive, never-ending peaks.

Did I see what I saw in the Gourmet magazine article? Yes. It was like a dream come true. Breathtaking (and it was not because of the altitude).

I have not processed most of the photos that I took on this trip. But here’s a picture taken with my Blackberry of the village of Sotres while we were walking in the mountains:

Monte Camba25

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There are many things that inspire my travels. For instance, photographs, films, books, personal accounts by people I know, and the list goes on…

What about you? What inspires you to travel or to visit a certain place?

It’s late and time for bed.

Before I end this post, I want to share a photo that I took in the Annapurna mountain range in Nepal in 1998. Enjoy and happy dreaming.

Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal @ 4130 metres above sea level

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20 replies on “Going Places

  1. I recognized the photo! We cycled the breath taking Picos de Europa two years ago. Breath taking in the sense of scenery and climbs up the mountains:) so glad you got to experience the beauty of it as well.

    1. I remember us passing cyclists in our car. Phew, must have been quite an upward push! When I was writing this post, I took out the Gourmet magazine article and compared it with the photo I took to see if it was the same village – it wasn’t but close enough. Would love to return to Asturias and do more hiking!

  2. Not surprisingly it is the wildlife that attracts me to places – Galapagos, Antarctica, PNG and yes, Nepal. You pick some glorious places. Never too late to do martial arts. Go for it.

    1. I wasn’t aware that Nepal has a diverse wildlife. Now I do 😉 We spent most of the time in the mountains and most of the animals we encountered were yaks (though more often, their massive chunks of poop that were left in their wake) and goats. The website of the Japanese embassy in Belgium lists several martial arts schools… hmmm, tempting.

      1. Nepal has the benefit of a wide range of altitudes so each habitat holds different sorts of wildlife – much of it birdlife of course. But you can see rhinoceros and tigers, elephants and monkeys in the terai. I have not done high altitude stuff but I went to Kosi twice, Pulchowki (about 10k’), Chitwan, Royal Bardia and a few smaller places. I’d like to go to Suklaphanta and then higher up but I think the knees are against the climbing.

        1. Sounds very interesting! My 18-year-old knees suffered for about a year (e.g. they used to ache slightly on cold days and made a lot of creaking noises) about that hiking trip with all of its ups and downs.

  3. I definitely get inspiration through photos, and particularly through blogs. For me, a place can be beautiful but it’s the stories that go along with the place that make it so interesting.

  4. I can imagine the other Angelina( of Lara Croft fame) getting all misty eyed seeing your karate chops!! 😀 The village of Sotres looks really really awesome!

  5. Love the opening photo…and for the tea in Mount Hua I do not know what to say…hmm probably it taste very good but I prefer a coffee behind the corner!
    Or in the places you mentioned in a post times ago 🙂
    Not sure what inspire in selecting where to go, probably a mix from movies, a few lines in a book, or the idea to find something I’m looking there. What is “something”? it depends…
    robert

    1. Thanks Robert! Like you, I also prefer to go to a more ‘conventional’ place for coffee/tea. Not sure how my brain would deal with caffeine + adrenalin all at the same time!

      Agree, there’s lots around us that could inspire our travels. Maybe I’ll try to write other posts about other sources of travel inspirations 🙂

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