This year came with several changes. The blog changed it's name to "Go further" which reflects how I view travelling and it got itself an own domain blog.marcinkonkel.com. I also started working with The Travel Stories where I shed new light on the Trans-Siberian railway journey from 2014 in reportages from Mongolia and Russia. I also started promoting #kamchatka2016 project together with the team. Below you can see highlights from the places I've been to this year. Click on the photograph to go to the full gallery. Hope you like them!
The Trans-Siberian Expedition has come to an end last year but the story continues. This Sunday (13.12.) you will be able to read my new article on The Travel Stories on the part of the route from Moscow to Irkutsk - a 3,5 days long train journey in the lowest class called platskart. Although many things have been written on this blog, this story is re-told in a different way with facts never told and some photos never published before.
During this project we got to learn that Russia is a vast country with great and hospitable people. Some of them drink a lot, some are nationalist, the administration don't give much interest in you, some want to get to know you better. Whatever you experience, you probably notice that Russia is "a state of mind" as explained two builders we met on the train. Read more on The Travel Stories this Sunday.
Recently, I started collaborating with The Travel Stories - a travel blog for the best English-language travel stories on the internet. I am really happy to be part of this collective. Kudos go to Chris Dabiri for making this happen. Since now you will be able to read about my travels and places I've visited on The Travel Stories blog. Those need not to be same as you can read here. There will some specials as well. I also encourage you to read stories by other authors such as Michał Huniewicz, Lukas Sommer, Albert González Farran and Chris himself. You can expect beautiful photographs, enchanting stories and lots of inspiration for travelling. See for yourself. You can expect to read my first story (on Mongolia) this Wednesday, Sep 16th.
After over 200 years of history one does not feel the terror that happened in early XX century in a place in the middle of nowhere that does not bother anyone apart from the believers. It was 1809 when the first wooden datsan was erected. Around 30 years later a "Great Place of Complete Joy" temple was built. Another decades have passed when the 13th Dalai Lama stayed in the residence. Gandantegchinlen Monastery was a special place on the map of Ulan-Bator. Today, probably not many remember the drama that lamas living here were facing in 1930s.
Chloé Baudens known also as Klava is a traveller and an artist. She is passionate about the Slavic culture and open to what the world has to show. On daily basis she lives in Toulouse, France but most of the time she spends on travelling and sketching. I've asked Chloé few questions about how did she start drawing and what are her traveling plans. In between you can find her artwork - more of it you can view on Etsy (and buy some of her works) or access the portfolio on Flickr.
The last day of our stay in China has come. Well, technically last but one as the next day we were flying at around 8 in the morning to Warsaw. The day prior we've booked the trip to the Great Wall of China (ch. 万里长城) together with a traditional Chinese lunch in a nearby restaurant. The thing about the wall is that there are various locations where you can see it available for tourists. Among them there are three places in close proximity to the capital of China - Jinshanling (most remote), Badaling (closest to the city with public transport but often overcrowded) and Mutianyu (somewhere in the middle). Bus tours start from 150-180 CNY / 85 PLN / 20 EUR up (as of Sep 2014) .
Beijing that we've encountered was hectic. People and traffic everywhere. Our plan was also hectic although we were rather not in a hurry. Arriving on Monday and departing on Wednesday morning - that was a challenge for such a vast city with so many things to see that one can get a headache. Our Lucky Family Hostel where we were to stay was in Dongcheng District somewhere among Beijing's hutongs (ch. 胡同).
The last section of Trans-Mongolian train journey was ahead of us with some exciting sights awaiting - the Gobi desert, changing of the chassis in Erlian and going through Chinese countryside with great number of tunnels and surrounding hills. The international express Moscow - Beijing was waiting on the platform during the sunrise. Chinese staff was waiting for the passengers. After checking the tickets we were in our kupe compartment with four berths. We have also received free vouchers for breakfast (around 8-9 local time) and lunch (around 10-11 local time) the next day. Soon after we were off in the Mongolian steppe.
After taking a power nap in our hostel on the sofas - our room was ready (as we came early in the morning we had to wait). Having repacked we wen't strolling around through the city. Mongolia is a large country in terms of square meters but has roughly 3 million citizens with half of them living in the capital city Ulan Bator. Most of the city, especially the area near the main railroad station, is in poor state - rundown buildings, not much driving regulations (it's a dare to cross the road), dodgy looking neighborhood. People are friendly though and, not knowing much in English, they always say "hello" even if they want to say goodbye.
Our stay at Olkhon Island was for sure too short. Three days is not much and a week seems now like a must. Having waited for the bus to Irkutsk we packed our stuff. When the marshrutka came our baggage was put on the roof secured with a net. The bus was going from guesthouse to guesthouse in search for anyone wanting to go to Irkutsk. In the end, it was packed full. The road was the same but the time passed somehow faster. In the capital of Siberia we did some shopping and pulled an all-nighter - some of us in the hostel while others at the 130 kvartal. Somewhere in the middle of all this we ordered a taxi to pick us up the next day in the early morning as we were to catch a train to Ulan-Ude. The record sleep time that night was 12 minutes so needless to say that we were catching-up on the train. The route is said to be one of the most iconic of all Trans-Siberian as it's going right next to Baikal through a set of tunnels. It surely was picturesque and breathtaking but I would also count in some other sights we've seen along the whole trip as equal.