Looking for tickets or info for the Get Happy Tour 2018 featuring Bowling for Soup, Army of Freshmen and The Aquabats?

This domain name was used for the Get Happy Tour back in its original run around 10 years ago, when I used to do work for BFS and AOF. However, for the past 5 years it has been used for my travel blog as I never thought we would have another Get Happy Tour and I didn't want it to go to waste.

But as a favour to two bands who have done a lot for me over the years, and so you don't miss out, ticket info is:
O2 Presale: 10am on 25 September
General Onsale: 10am on 27 September.

Tickets available from ticketmaster.co.uk and bowlingforsoup.com
 


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Posts Tagged ‘Canyon’

Karakol, my final night with the group

June 4th, 2015 No comments

I had such a good nights sleep last night. I was warned that Andy was a snorer but the yurt was so luxurious and comfortable, even though I had to sleep on a traditional bed on the floor, that I slept right the way through for the first time all trip and only woke up when Andy left the yurt in order to get the truck ready for the drive ahead. I needed that!

The ride down from the camp showed us some more of the beautiful scenery of Jeti-Oguz. I would personally recommend two nights here if you are travelling on your own, so that you can have a full day walking around the mountains and along the river. Or you could just sit back and relax. If you do visit then keep your fingers crossed that they have replaced the dangerous looking bridge on the way up by the time you get there. I loved the area so much but crossing the bridge made me nervous!

Getting the truck ready

Getting ready to leave Jeti-Oguz

Scenery

Scenery on the way down

Jeti-Oguz

You could easily spend 2 nights at this place

Crossing the river

Crossing the river

Old bridge

Vicki didn’t trust the bridge so got out and walked

New bridge

The new bridge being built

After surviving the dangerous bridge we made a brief stop at the viewpoint overlooking some well-known rocks called Seven Bulls Rocks. The name derives from the rock formation’s resemblance to seven bulls and a legend about a Khan’s unfaithful wife, according to Wikipedia, but I can’t remember the exact legend that Begaim told us. If you’re in the area, or visiting Jeti-Oguz, then definitely head to the top of the hill to take a look at the views. You can also get a view of a town that was built around a hot spring, and the resort that was built as a retreat for Soviet Army Officers. When we were there a boy tried to get us to have photos taken with his Falcon, and was very persistent, so keep an eye out and be prepared to say no if you’re in the area.

Seven Bulls Rocks

Seven Bulls Rocks

Kyrgyz scenery

Looking back towards Jeti-Oguz

From the rocks it was a short drive to Karakol so we arrived too early to be able to check in to our hotel and I took this opportunity to head to a place called “Karakol Coffee” which had high-speed Wi-Fi in order to check about return flights. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts I have decided to try to come back a couple of days early as I have some personal things I need to take care of, and today was the day when I could work out whether it was possible.

I was in luck and there are some cheap flights leaving Bishkek with Aeroflot which are at convenient times and have seats available but I decided not to book straight away. First I wanted to ask Begaim how easy it would be to get back to Bishkek and she confirmed what was in my guide book, that Karakol is a transport hub for the area and that if I wanted to go back to Bishkek early then this would be a good place to leave the trip. There are a few different options depending on when I want to leave, what price I want to pay, and how quickly I need to get there which she explained to me. I decided to give all of the options some thought and then book from the hotel, which also has free Wi-Fi. There was time for a bit of shopping before the hotel would be ready for us so I stocked up on supplies for my journey to Bishkek and also on souvenirs for myself and others (including a felt minion).

Karakol

Helena parked in Karakol while we wait for the hotel to be ready

Karakol

Karakol town

Karakol

Another view of Karakol Town

The Hotel Amir is really nice. It has comfortable beds, isn’t too far from the town centre, is clean, has a restaurant which you are able to eat in and most important for me today has high speed wireless intenet which I planned to use to book my new flight home. Unfortunately it stopped working just as I was about to click “book” on Expedia so I had to go back to Karakol Coffee to use theirs. This was a little inconvenient, and when I got there the price had gone up by £20, but I was going to go back into town anyway. The main thing is that everything is now booked and I will be leaving tomorrow morning. This is a day earlier than I had originally intended but it was the day that worked out best due to being in Karakol and also due to the prices of flights. By coincidence Begaim was in Karakol Coffee when I made the booking so she was able to talk me through the whole process for getting to Bishkek, where to get off the bus and also calm any concerns that I had. She’s a really great guide and I will miss her once I leave the group.

Tonight I will be dining with the Germans and Austrians as they were in Karakol Coffee when I made my booking and we all expressed a wish to go out for Shashlik. The place we chose, in the centre of Karakol, was really nice. I didn’t get the name of it but it’s right opposite their park and next to their shopping arcade. It was a little on the expensive side for this part of the world but was worth every penny and it was nice to have a proper sit down meal to ease myself back into normality.

Don't ask

Trying to escape a dragon

Karakol Coffee

Karakol Coffee, my life line today!

Meat!

Shashlik with the Germans and Austrians

We parted ways after dinner as I needed to get some money out of the ATM before heading back to the hotel to ensure that I had enough for my journey to Bishkek tomorrow. Karakol is a little scary after dark,as there isn’t much in the way of street lighting and beggars hang around near banks, but I didn’t stay in town on my own for very long and I’m now back safely at the hotel.

I have to admit that I’m extremely nervous about my journey tomorrow. I will be voluntarily pulling out of a trip in a country where I can’t speak the language, don’t understand the alphabet, and where I have to travel half way across the country on my own but it’s something I have to do. Although I do have a little bit of excitement too as I will really be getting under the skin of Kyrgyzstan and after all that’s what travelling is all about. The Dragoman crew knew I was thinking about leaving early, as I asked what the procedure would be, but Begaim is the only person in the group who knows I have actually decided to leave in the morning. I’m just glad that I have seen everything that I came here to see – all that I will be missing is a night at a hot spring resort and a night of wild camping which aren’t important to me. I will also be spending more time in Bishkek than if I had kept my original flights and stayed with the group until the end which is a bonus.

Due to spending a few hours booking flights and hotels, thanks to the Wi-Fi at Karakol Coffee, I didn’t get much of a chance to look around Karakol but it seems from what I’ve seen that there isn’t much to do in the town itself. There are some nice churches, a statue of Lenin, and some nice places to eat or drink (seriously – check out Karakol Coffee if you come here), but other than that from a travel point of view it’s mainly a base for visiting the surrounding areas. If you plan to explore this part of Kyrgyzstan on your own then definitely come here for a couple of days first to stock up on supplies, stay in a nice hotel and visit the agencies that offer tours or transportation.

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Jeti-Oguz Gorge

June 3rd, 2015 No comments

Three years ago I bought a Polaroid Pogo printer as I thought it would be useful when travelling, so that I could give kids a copy of photos they ask me to take, but I have never had a chance to use it. This is partly as when I last went to Africa I took the wrong connector cable and partly as my other trips have been ones where we didn’t spend too much time interacting with local kids. This all changed today and I was able to use it for the first time.

After breakfast I spent some time sitting and interacting with the kids who live at the camp with their family. They kept asking to pose for photos and as we had some time before we had to leave, and as we had a working power supply, I thought this was a perfect chance to bring the printer out. You should have seen the face of the first kid I gave the photo to – his eyes lit up, he had a huge smile and he ran away to grab the other kid to show him. I spent about 15 minutes taking and printing photos for both kids before I ran out of paper for the printer and it was nice to see something so simple make them happy. They showed their mother, who asked them to say thank you to me in Russian, before running around the campsite showing everybody. I think I’ve used the phrase “take things for granted” a lot in this blog, especially the entries from this trip, but when you travel to the sort of places I do, get immersed in the culture, and see kids as happy as this over something so simple it really puts things into perspective.

Kids in Kyrgyzstan

This is the kid who was watching the suspicious video last night

Kyrgyz kids

This one wasn’t

Cowboy in Kyrgyzstan

They liked dressing up for photos

Posing for photos

The kids here were adorable

Me and Kyrgyz kids

Me and the kids at the camp

Yurt Camp

Saying goodbye to the camp. Notice the kid still looking at the photos I gave him.

Scenery

Scenery as we left the camp

Lunch was a little later than normal today as we stopped to do some walking at a spectacular area near the town of Jeti Oguz. I can’t remember the name in Kyrgyz but it translates to “Fairy Tale Canyon”. If you happen to be passing along the south shore of Lake Issyk-Kul definitely stop here as you will not be disappointed. The rocks have such a deep red colouring that they remind me of the red centre of Australia, just closer to civilisation. They have been sand and wind blasted over tens of thousands of years and are just so beautiful. When we first arrived I wasn’t sure where we were walking to as the trail to get to it seemed to go on for ages through the baking heat – smaller vehicles can drive all the way up but our one couldn’t. However when we arrived we were presented with sights like these.

Fairy Tale Canyon

Fairy Tale Canyon

Fairy Tale short cut

Some people decided to take a short cut down

Fairy Tales do come true :)

Fairy Tale Canyon was beautiful

Fairy Tale Canyon

The scenery here was just breathtaking

We spent some time looking around the area, taking photos and climbing up to various view points. Some of them can be very high and up steep slopes so be sure to take care if you visit, but it’s worth the effort. There wasn’t a set time limit but most of us looked around for about an hour before heading back to the truck for the short journey to Jeti-Oguz town. Here we had a chance to grab some lunch at a small local cafe and stock up on supplies before heading up into the mountains.

Jeti Oguz Town

Jeti Oguz Town

Jeti Oguz Town

The cafe we ate at was in the parade to the left

Tonight we are staying in the mountainous area near Jeti-Oguz and I can’t believe how different the scenery is. I think today the scenery has been more diverse than any other day on this trip so far – this morning we woke up on the shores of a lake, then a few hours later we were surrounded by red rock canyons and now it looks like we are in the Alps in Europe. The journey up was a bit treacherous as we had to pass over a lot of wooden bridges, some of which looked less than safe, and the roads were nothing more than dirt tracks but I’m glad we made the trip. We had the option of Yurts or camping again and after seeing the brand new Yurts that were available I immediately chose to pay for the upgrade. I love getting off of the beaten path and visiting remote places but whenever an upgrade from camping is available I generally take it just to improve my enjoyment of the trip as I’m a tall person and find tents uncomfortable to sleep in.

Jeti-Oguz Gorge

Ascending up to Jeti-Oguz Gorge.

Jeti-Oguz

This is only a couple of hours from Fairy Tale Canyon but looks like another world.

Jeti-Oguz Gorge

Almost at the camp for tonight

Yurt and Tent camp

This is where we stopped tonight in Jeti-Oguz Gorge

Helena rests

Helena at Jeti-Oguz Gorge

Washing up time

Getting water for washing up

I spent some time walking in the Gorge on my own before dinner. There weren’t any view points to speak of but it was great to walk through the woods listening to the river and taking photos. I planned to have a shower after returning but the motor which pumped water from the river to the heating unit wasn’t working which meant one thing – washing my hair in the river. The water was freezing so I was definitely glad of the heat from the bonfire that we made this evening. The smoke from the bonfire was a little powerful, and my eyes felt like they did after being exposed to volcanic fumes in Nicaragua a few years ago by the time I called it a night, but it was a great evening chilling with the group in a lovely setting.

Jeti-Oguz Walking

Going for my walk

Jeti-Oguz Gorge

A photo from my walk

Bonfire time

Bonfire time

Andy, one of the Dragoman crew, is sharing the Yurt with me tonight as the only other guy who wanted to pay for an upgrade but it’s a huge Yurt so I have loads of space to myself. Tomorrow we make the short trip to Karakol where I can jump on Wi-Fi and work out whether or not I’ll be finishing the trip with the group. I’m getting nervous now as I think I’ve definitely decided I will be travelling back early so I just want to get there and book the flights if I can find any.

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Sunrise over the dunes

August 10th, 2002 No comments

We’re currently on our way from Sesreim to Namib-Naukluft National Park and I’m in rotation as team leader again which means I get to ride in the front of the truck with Rod. It’s great to get away from the others to tell you the truth as it has been a bit of a fuss over the last few days – mainly involving Dan and alcohol again.

After Rod arrived at Hardap on the morning of the 8th and announced his presence with something that sounded like “Hi I’m Rod. I’m your truck driver. This is my truck – it’s not a bus… so don’t call me Rod the bus driver” we made our way out of Hardap and past Gibeon along the main road to Sesreim. The campsite we set up camp in is a lot different to the last one and we’ve definitely found the desert now! We hastily set up camp in a nice open area of the campsite before cooking food and having an early night ready to head off early to see the sunrise. Unfortunately before we had a chance to get to sleep our tent and another tent managed to dislodge themselves from the sand and go rolling off into the distance but they got stuck against a perimeter fence so we set them back up again. As a result a decision was made that the next day would involve moving the tents to a sheltered area that had become available in the other section of the campsite.

The original section

The original section

The next day was definitely one of the highlights of the trip so far. We got up an hour before sunrise and headed straight out into the National Park. We arrived at the base of Dune 45 as there was just starting to be light in the sky and started trekking. Dune 45 isn’t the tallest dune in the world, that one is just down the road, so while steep we managed to climb it with ease. We got to the top just before sunrise and as soon as the sun came up we were treated with some really memorable views.

Trekking up Dune 45

Trekking up Dune 45

The sun starting to rise

The sun starting to rise

The view from the top

The view from the top

We stayed there for a while to enjoy the amazing scenery that had appeared in front of us before deciding to head off. We decided to walk down the face of the dune instead of the ridge like we did on the way up. Sam was one of the first to start on his way down when somebody, I think Jim, decided to push him over to see what happened. He rolled…. a LONG way. I decided this didn’t seem like a very good idea so put my bag over my shoulders and ran all the way down. Luckily I managed to stop at the bottom but I ended up with sand in places that I didn’t even know existed! We had a breakfast that consisted of some weird chocolate-flavoured porridge looking thing before taking one of my favourite photos of the trip – the group photo of us all at the base of Dune 45.

Our group at Dune 45

Our group at Dune 45

Base of Dune 45

Base of Dune 45

After breakfast we headed off to Sossusvlei which is one of several oases in the area. We parked at a parking area a mile or so from the oasis and made use of the facilities (a wooden shack with a drop toilet) before starting the walk to Sossusvlei. On the way we were met by the taxi service of the area – a few dune buggies who said for a small fee they would take us there then pick us up a couple of hours later. We decided this was a sensible idea so accepted the offer. On the way they showed us the tallest sand dune in the world and I can see why everybody climbs Dune 45 as this one would definitely take a long time to climb! After arriving we explored the area, chatted, took photos and relaxed in the shade over lunch for some time before the dune buggies arrived to take us back to the truck right at the time we had arranged.

Tallest sand dune in the world

Tallest sand dune in the world

The final thing we did yesterday that was actually productive was a visit to Sesreim Canyon. It’s a fairly small canyon but a good trek. A couple of people fell over and cut themselves so Jon used his St John Ambulance training to fix them. We trekked into the canyon and took plenty of photos before getting as far as a pool which we couldn’t get across before returning back to the truck to watch the sunset.

Trekking in Sesreim Canyon

Trekking in Sesreim Canyon

A few of us, myself included, in the canyon

A few of us, myself included, in the canyon

When we returned to the campsite two of our tents were missing. It seems there was another World Challenge group at the campsite from a school in Durham. They moved a couple of tents to the other side of the campsite behind a wall so we retaliated by swapping anything we had that was broken with any nice shiny new ones that they had. It all belonged to World Challenge, and would be returned to the same place, so there was nothing wrong with doing it.

That evening was also Dan Robertson’s birthday. A few people, Dan included, decided to get drunk and cause chaos. Dan decided it would be funny to kick me in the ribs through the tent. I went chasing off after him and then returned to my tent to go to sleep but what I didn’t know is that at some point when I was away my travel log went missing – the reason I’m having to re-write this from basic notes and the reason some of the details may seem very vague.

It wasn’t all bad at Sesreim as at some point we enjoyed some time by the pool in the campsite with the Durham group and Dominic found somebody that looked like his twin. Crazy! But I said we’re now on our way to Namib Naukluft and I’m in the front with Rod. He’s been showing me some great things along the way including weird trees and rock formations which I would have missed if I was in the back with everybody else. We also got chatting and I learnt a lot more about him. He played me a song on cassette that was his best friend’s favourite song and when his friend died at a fairly young age they played it at his funeral. I can’t remember the group but the song was called “African Dream”. If anybody knows what it’s likely to be let me know – I’ll owe you big time!

A bird at Sesreim Campsite

A bird at Sesreim Campsite

Some great scenery on the way to Namib Naukluft

Some great scenery on the way to Namib Naukluft

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