Self Indulged Online Travel Magazine
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  • March31st

    Torresdelpaine sandra herd

    We’ve just returned from 10 days camping in the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia and this is one of my favourite captures from the trip…ironically it was taken on the first day. We initially intended to just do the popular ‘W’ trek but somewhere along the line Dave convinced me that we should do the ‘O’. It was certainly a challenge on the ‘O’ circuit lugging our gear around…camera equipment, tent, sleeping bags and food (Dave did most of the lugging – bless him) but we made it around and finally got to the ‘W’ section which was pretty busy in comparison to the deserted back section – I’m not sure if it has occurred to anyone else but the ‘O’ trail combined with the ‘W’ trail produces the ‘OW’ trek…yep, my blisters had blisters and I think Dave could possibly need a knee reconstruction from the downhill pounding. We came away with a stack load of images and a wonderful sense of achievement. 

    We’ve been hanging out at the Erratic Rock for the past few days for a period of recovery, taking our cue from Bonnie & Clyde, the lazy resident cats.

    At this stage I anticipate the next issue of the mag to be out around the 14th of April as we’re going to be offline again for a while when we head over to Argentina for more trekking at El Calafate and then to El Chalten in search of more spectacular granite spires.

    I’ve called this image ‘After the Flames’ in commemoration of the fire that swept through the park in December last year.  For those who have been enquiring, prints will be available for sale when we return to Australia…I intend to put an exhibition together on our return, if you’d like to be on the mailing list then SUBSCRIBE here for free. Also, there have been a number of emails about the one day course…again, when I return to Perth,  I will update the schedules and resume the courses.

  • March16th

    Feng Huang

    - ARCHIVE: Extracted from Issue 4 of Self Indulged. Check out Issue 4 HERE

    When I told friends at home I would be travelling through China as a backpacker, staying in hostels and yes, carrying a backpack, the most common response was something between horror and pity.

    Backpacking? At your age? Really? Can’t you afford to stay in hotels?

    The truth is, here in China, I wouldn’t want to.

    The hostel network has grown here immensely over the past six years. I was in Beijing in 2005 in a double room with a leaky ‘s’ bend. When we complained about the fact the toilet was leaking all over the floor, the manager kindly fixed it with a plastic bag and a roll of tape….but things have changed a lot and not just in Beijing.

    I’ve now graduated to a ‘flashpacker’(a term I don’t often use but one I seem to have been labelled with) and the hostels in China (as a general rule) have grown to meet the needs of backpackers and flashpackers alike.

    The difference?

    According to the reliable backpacker’s fountain of knowledge, Wikipedia;

    “Flashpacking is a neologism used to refer to an affluent backpacker. Whereas backpacking is traditionally associated with budget travel and destinations that are relatively cheap, flashpacking has an association of more disposable income while traveling and has been defined simply as backpacking with a bigger budget.”

    Flashpackers also tend to be older (in my mid-thirties I definitely fall into that category), carry lots of electrical stuff and lots of chargers to go with that stuff. iPods, iPads, Cameras, laptops the whole kit and caboodle. I carry my camera gear and lots of chargers too. I check into a private room with an ensuite (with the added luxury of a Western toilet – there are some sacrifices I just won’t make), pay between 80 to 200 Yuan for a double room (about $10- $30 Aussie dollars, depending on the province) and spend the money I’m saving on accommodation on all the other great experiences that China has to offer.

    But it’s more than just the savings.

    It’s about meeting other travellers, swapping stories at the bar and learning the best way of getting to a destination/which train to catch/how to get a visa quickly/which restaurant has the best hotpot/how to pronounce Zhangjiajie (ok – I haven’t actually mastered that one yet), all this information is imparted freely and without the bias of a hotel concierge. What’s more, in China, there’s no guarantee that the hotel concierge even speaks English.

    So here in China, luxury may be craved – a hot bath, a roast dinner – but for the next 2 months the benefits of the hostel environment win out over the luxuries I’ve left behind everytime. Besides…the beers are cheaper in the hostels :-)

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