Raphael Kessler

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South East Asia 1999

  1. Vietnam - February 1999
  2. Thailand - April 1999
  3. Malaysia and Singapore - May 1999
  4. Indonesia - June 1999
Africa to home, the long way
- Africa
  1. South Africa
  2. Namibia and Botswana
  3. Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya
  4. Uganda
  5. Ethiopia
  6. Egypt
- Middle East and Balkans
  1. Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey
  2. Balkans
  3. Turkey
  4. Iran
- Asia
  1. Pakistan
  2. China
  3. Tibet
  4. Nepal
  5. India 1
  6. India 2
  7. India 3
  8. Sri Lanka
  9. Bangladesh
  10. Myanmar
  11. Thailand
  12. Cambodia
  13. Laos
  14. China, Macao and Hong Kong
  15. Mongolia
- North America and Caribbean
  Caribbean, USA, Mexico and Canada
- Scandinavia and Eastern Europe
  1. Russia
  2. Sweden
  3. Baltics
  4. Poland and Czech Republic
South America 2002
  1. Brazil
  2. Argentina
  3. Chile and Easter Island
Central America and Mexico 2002
  1. Panama
  2. Costa Rica
  3. Nicaragua
  4. Honduras
  5. El Salvador
  6. Guatemala
  7. Belize
  8. Mexico
South America 2003-4
  1. Trinidad and Tobago
  2. Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana
  3. Venezuela
  4. Colombia
  5. Ecuador and The Galapagos Islands
  6. Peru
  7. Bolivia
  8. Argentina
  9. Uruguay and Paraguay
  10. Bolivia 2
  11. Peru 2
Specific Pacific
  1. California to Fiji+ French Polynesia & Cook Islands
  2. Samoa, Niue and American Samoa
  3. Tonga and New Zealand
  4. Australia 1
  5. Australia 2



It has been quite some time since I last wrote. It has not been that I have been incredibly busy or anything like that. Far from it, the lethargy has at times been all consuming and that is why I have not written until now.

After I last wrote to you, I crossed the border from Bolivia to Argentina with some new found friends. The border crossing itself was uneventful. We got a bus south and were al getting off in different places. However the bus we were on started to develop problems. When we stopped at a police checkpoint (mostly checking the Bolivians for contraband), it transpired that the other bus doing the same route from the same company had completely broken down, so the passengers from that bus all climbed aboard our already dodgy conveyance. The bus looked to the casual observer to be a very nice one, however it was the intermittent breakdowns that were a bit disconcerting. We all decided to alight at Humahuaca (where I had been planning on going anyway), a pleasant little village with an attractive square and adobe buildings. We had an adequate dinner, not what we should have got considering the usual quality of Argentine culinary skills.

The next day we had another look around town and then headed down to Salta via Jujuy. In Jujuy, where we changed buses, we reluctantly decided to take another "Balut" bus, this being the company we had previously had problems with, putting it down to bad luck. The shortish journey to Salta though was made much more interesting by the bus occasionally breaking down and the roof leaking when it rained. For future reference Balut buses are bad.

Salta is a fair sized city with some nice colonial architecture and also a street filled with bars and restaurants, where Roland (one of my new Dutch friends) and I had a number of drinks and decided to institute a new international holiday - International Empanada Day. We toasted and celebrated it appropriately. Empanadas are very similar to little pasties, or for those who don't know what an empanada or a pasty are, smallish pastries with a filling of anything one wants, most commonly meat. The reason for the creation of the new festival was that all day we had been eating empanadas from different sources and the quality throughout had been impressive.

It was in Salta that we all parted company and I took a bus onward to Cafayete after a trip up the nearby hill on the cable car.

Cafayete is a small town set in a valley in one of the Argentine wine growing areas. I wandered around a bit, ate some god food and went to several vineyards to try the wine, all of which tasted somewhat disappointing. The scenery however was very pleasant and at least I wasn't paying for the drinks.

From Cafayete I took a fairly short trip to Tafi del valle which is also set in nice scenery near to a big reservoir. I went to see the Menhir Park where the obelisks from the surrounding area, carved and erected by a pre-Colombian community, had all been gathered for the easy viewing of the public. Although some of them were nicely carved, most of them were quite plain and because they have been re-sited, their archaeological significance is mostly lost.

Next en route was to Cordoba a pleasant city with some nice buildings and squares and also lots of old English red telephone boxes, which was odd to see. There is an impressive Cathedral and some other nice colonial stuff too.

From Cordoba I took a bus to the capital Buenos Aires, to see my friend Mauro who I had not seen since I was last in Argentina. The buses I had been on most recently had all been working well so lulled me into a false sense of security. The next bus though shook me back to reality when it arrived four hours late in Buenos Aires. I had promised my friend that I would arrive for his birthday, due to the delay, I was only half an hour early. The following Saturday night Mauro had a birthday party which was good fun and gave me the opportunity to meet some of his friends.

In Buenos Aires I had several things to sort out, not least was catching up with Mauro. I also had to embroil myself in the evil of the Argentine banks, which rate in my opinion as the worst on the planet, being staffed with only the most incompetent, illiterate, bitter, twisted, foolish people that could be dredged from the mire of the worst rejects of failed institutions. As you may have gathered, I was unimpressed with them and yes I am still upset.

Whilst in Buenos Aires I also had the opportunity to catch up with my friend Andrew who I had not seen for four years, as when I went to his home town of Toronto a couple of years ago, he decided to go to Japan.

Buenos Aires is one of the most attractive and interesting cities in the Americas. In my opinion it is truly a world class city, I enjoyed just wandering about and getting odd bits I needed doing done. Also the fact that the food in BA is excellent was appreciated, particularly the meat. Argentine women are also famously good looking and so a fair amount of good natured ogling was done whilst ambling about.

After a couple of weeks there, another friend of mine, a Dutch girl called Esther, whom I had met in Peru a couple of months ago came to BA to meet and travel with me. We spent a couple of days looking at different parts of the city, which I had previously seen on my visit a couple of years ago and then left to go to Uruguay. This is where I leave you for the while. I will keep you posted of my further exploits at a later date.



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