About Goats Giving People a Perspective

In this article I want to tell you about other CCODER projects that were and still are a response to the devastating earthquake in 2015.

The Gorkha district was one of the worst hit areas by the 2015 earthquake and left many villages completely destroyed. In contrast to the capital Kathmandu there was no quick reconstruction and to this day many people live in makeshift tents. The government assured to provide resources to rebuild the area but failed to deliver them so far.

Guest Post: About determination, conflicting emotions and letting go – an outside view?

Guest Post: About determination, conflicting emotions and letting go – an outside view?

“Aren’t you afraid? Can you sleep at night? Don’t you miss Lukas? Is he well? Have you heard from him lately?” Those were the compassionate questions and the worries expressed by friends and relatives here in Europe. Some of them made us feel quite irresponsible and pretty heartless. Are we this inconsiderate? Can't we see that such an adventure is very dangerous? Some other feedback was very supportive and made us even a little bit proud. The challenge involved seems similar to star gazing: You need to see what is behind the obvious to understand how little you know yet. Thus, looking at the preliminary signs of this overland journey project will help to understand our positive attitude towards it. 

About Shree Buddha Shanti Samudayik Vidhya Mandir

About Shree Buddha Shanti Samudayik Vidhya Mandir

“…and we thank you for the food that you provide us! We love you, Mama, Papa and Laxman.”

That was the last line of a prayer screamed out loud by about 100 children seven years ago. Laxman is the nick name they gave me in Nepal because they had problems pronouncing Lukas.

I found it bewildering to hear a group of kids praying for me even though it was only part of their daily routine. This time, they did it again. I tried to keep a straight face and to hide my embarrassment.

Some things, such as this routine, did not change in the last seven years, that is obvious. But some others did. That day I had the chance to visit the school (the one I had supported and helped to improve in 2011 and has this awfully long name: Shree Buddha Shanti Samudayik Vidhya Mandir) and speak with the teachers as well as the village council which is now organized according to the CCODER concept.

About an Egalitarian Religion, Floodings and Statistics

About an Egalitarian Religion, Floodings and Statistics

It took me three days to go from Islamabad to Lahore. It was mainly flat - actually too flat.

Riding in the flatlands may be appealing for many cyclists but there is one problem with it. there are  no descents. If you stop pedalling you stop rolling. In other words you don’t have any break from pedalling.

The same is true for cycling uphill but then you know there is a moment when you can relax again.

So it came that I spent five to six hours a day in two or three gears, on flat roads, with sometimes nerve wrecking traffic and not a lot to see. And on top of that the heat and humidity.

About Police Brutality, Hashish and Osama Bin Laden

About Police Brutality, Hashish and Osama Bin Laden

“HEY STOP! Where are you going?” - A policeman waves me down at a random check point while I am nicely cruising through fields of Marijuana.

“Islamabad!” I answer and confidently head for the barrier but another man jumps in front of me and makes it clear that I must stop.

Most of the checkpoints in Pakistan were a smile and wave kind of thing. Or in other words, I just had to be polite and fast enough for the authorities to realize too late or not at all what this white man was doing. Sadly, in Pakistan this is different. So I slowed down and smiled while greeting all the official looking guys and, to be sure, some of the others as well.

Once I had stopped I felt how hot it was - somewhere in the upper thirties (°C if you wonder) with a relative humidity close to 100%. My bicycle computer showed already a little over one hundred kilometers for the day. I was in no mood for an extended conversation with the police. But at least I would afterwards have to cover only five more kilometers to reach my next destination.

“Your passport and letter, please.” - said one of the man who wore no uniform. I handed him my passport and told him that I wanted to go to Muzaffarabad and the day after directly to Islamabad.

“Your letter, please!” he insisted while flicking through my passport to find the visa.

About Generators, Overstaying Visa and the Story of Dolly the Sheep

About Generators, Overstaying Visa and the Story of Dolly the Sheep

“Mister Swiss you have big problem… very big Problem”

“Ah indeed, so can we solve it?”

“No, no you need to go back. Big problem, big fine you know! ”

I’m standing opposite a border guard two years younger than me and about a head shorter than me. We are smoking Winston cigarettes that I bought for situations like this. Smoking always helps when dealing with officials. I tried to look as casual as possible while inhaling the smoke in this thin air.

The scene is surreal. I was standing on this muddy peace of land on something over 4’000m over sea. The first border guard did not catch that I overstayed my visa by a day. The second one did and saw of course the possibility to earn some dollars.

About Hot Springs, Pre-Islamic Shrines and Privacy

About Hot Springs, Pre-Islamic Shrines and Privacy

“Milk? Butter?” - The guy just looked at me and did not understand a single word even though I tried in what I thought were the right Russian words.

“Ok, so… Muuuhhh” - I was making two horns with my fingers and imitated a cow.

The guy smiled and pointed with his crooked fingers into the direction of the closed bazaar. Language is definitely helpful but sometimes it is just more amusing not to speak a conmen one.

In the closed bazaar it was clear where all the milk products where but I was looking for something special - Yak-butter. I knew it exist here but I did not know what sound a yak makes so I had to ask. Luckily yak is a word that is common in most languages and so I found what I was craving fore.

For about 30 Somoni I got a litter bottle of yellow something with a strong taste. I planed to bring it to the next part of my Pamir trip. Combined with strong black tea, milk and salt the butter becomes a perfect starter into the day.

About Recovering, Beautiful Roads and Destroying Bicycles

About Recovering, Beautiful Roads and Destroying Bicycles

“Hmmm… no not yet… no”

The sound of birds have just woken me up and the sun is already relentlessly hot. I’m lying on the tapchan (sorry no English wiki article) in the garden of my host. My head felt all right which is a wonder concerning all the empty bottles lying around. I vaguely remembered that we danced in the garden until the police came and hammered at the door until we were quiet. Police - party poppers as always.

About Flight KC 252, Samarkand and Biting Dogs

About Flight KC 252, Samarkand and Biting Dogs

When I woke up it was dark! For a moment I had no clue where I was. There was this sour smell of vomit in the air. Then I realised what had woken me. A sweaty hand urgently shook my shoulder.

I sat up and took off the blindfold that had blocked out the light so I could sleep. The Persian guy sitting next to me wanted to go to the toilet. No wonder I thought. He drank more whisky on that flight than is good for most human beings. So I loosened my seat belt and climbed out of my seat. The stewardess looked at me and smiled a sad smile that seemed to say so much.

About Having a Hangover in Tehran, Dealing with Turkmenistan and Getting Arrested - Again

About Having a Hangover in Tehran, Dealing with Turkmenistan and Getting Arrested - Again

After one and a half hour of riding up the hill in Tehran on some crazy roads we arrived at the place of François's friends.

Names don’t matter here but for the sake of simplicity lets call them Sepideh and Babak. They studied for two years in Brittany, France where they met François. So this was probably the reason why we weren’t treated the “Iranian” way but the “European” way… or in other words we got a cold beer when we entered the house and had a relaxed dinner with red wine later...