Oh the beauty! it's overwhelming, enjoy these wonderful photos!

Beth Moon, a photographer based in San Francisco, has been searching for the world’s oldest trees for the past 14 years. She has traveled all around the globe to capture the most magnificent trees that grow in remote locations and look as old as the world itself.
“Standing as the earth’s largest and oldest living monuments, I believe these symbolic trees will take on a greater significance, especially at a time when our focus is directed at finding better ways to live with the environment” writes Moon in her artist statement.
Sixty of Beth Moon’s duotone photos were published in a book titled “Ancient Trees: Portraits Of Time”. Here you can have a sneak preview of the book, full of strangest and most magnificent trees ever.
More info: bethmoon.com | abbeville.com (h/t: colossal)


The Daily Mail has a fascinating feature on David Latimer and his soon to be 54-year-old bottle garden that he started on Easter Sunday back in 1960.
Using a ten gallon carboy, Latimer poured in some compost, a quarter pint of water and carefully lowered in a spiderwort seedling (Tradescantia) using a piece of wire. He then placed the bottle garden by a sun-filled window in hishome and let photosynthesis do its thing.
It wasn’t until 1972 (12 years later) that Latimer gave his bottle garden another drink and it has been sealed ever since! How exactly does this work? The Daily Mail explains:
- Bottle gardens work because their sealed space creates an entirely self-sufficient ecosystem in which plants can survive by using photosynthesis to recycle nutrients
- The eco-system also uses cellular respiration to break down decaying material shed by the plant. In this part of the process, bacteria inside the soil of the bottle garden absorbs the plant’s waste oxygen and releasing carbon dioxidewhich the growing plant can reuse
- The water in the bottle gets taken up by plants’ roots, is released into the air during transpiration, condenses down into the potting mixture, where the cycle begins again
For more pictures and information on this story see the full article on the Daily Mail. Video tutorial on how to make your own below:



     After a long adieu with our "second family" from Tbilisi, we decided to fly to Almaty in Kazakhstan. Firstly because even though the idea was attractive, our budget is limited and crossing the caspian sea by cargo (which we could have been waiting for 1 week + in a dodgy place) was too expensive.
Secondly because the Iranian visa was so expensive too and we wanted to know about the Stan countries.
Et voilĂ . We applause for the smooth take off. It's 4am and the golden mountains smile at us...exciting. it's already 23 degrees at 9am.

After a long walk to the centre of Almaty, 2 angels host us for 10 days! Dennis and Adissa. We enjoyed his birthday cake...
Dennis has done very special things like falconry and cycle touring in the US. he deserves his own website:............................

    Would you imagine that in Kazakhstan they talk russian?  Even some young people don't know kazakh! Well I guess we were ignorant about the influence of soviet union till nowadays. In the past Kazakh was'nt even beinwg taught in the schools but now they are trying to change the language.
Although russian gvt does not seem to agree....
Also, you cannot take a photo of some buildings like embassies and official buildings. It really feels to me like a "hidden colonialism" which everybody agrees with! I think about this example of a frog put in cold water and slowly boils without knowing she is dying. Well if it carries on that way I think that the kazakhs (and kyrgyzs) will loose their culture slowly. (Big brother stinks).

Anyway,
Thanks to this long break in Almaty, we chose to buy bicycles. An alternative means of transport when most drivers ask for money while we try to hitch.
We decided to hitch around in search of a good bike. We did not know until too late but we ended up buying shitty but cheap bikes in a place called Zharkent close to the Chinese border. Very kindly a family helped us to fix them. New friends with whom we celebrated sunday mass in their home church! They have a huge house and a huge family. The rooms in kazakh houses are so clear and spacious because the beds are simple mats called Tushuk and during the day they are tidied up in a wardrobe. Time to go.
For a trial we attempt to cycle back to Almaty.
    It's hard but we are invited by Ali's traditional muslim family. The main dish: horse with pasta, is cooked on a stove outside. The bread is cooked in a cob oven. The house is built by the men. The kids play ........... with bull bones. The wise man with a designed white kazakh hat called Kalpak introduced us to his horse and his donkeys. Which one do you think he rides ? The tiny donkey of course ! I feel pity for the donkeys who are around 1m 20 high. The horses are mostly ridden by shepherds. They say in central asia that children learn to ride even before walking. It is strange to see that kazakhs eat them when they are the second means of transport and when they develop a strong relationship, as we would do with our pets. As a vegetarian it is hard enough to see animals being killed. Even more when I think that my dog or my horse could be eaten.
Anyway we did not recover this night as the boy cried a lot and the toilets are outside.... (try to see in the dark without waking up the whole family).

The second day cycling. Failed.

    My bike is a real pile of junk and I can't get very far. I get sunburnt. The wheel burst and it's impossible to repair as we didn't buy a spare innertube! Wesley has a saddle that doesn't fit him and prevents him to go a long distance. Well... we hitch back to Dennis' s thanks to another truck driver's angel. The next day In Almaty, I exchange my bike for a perfect mountain one. Wes can't find a bigger saddle but changes part of his gear system.
Et c'est parti! En avant pour le Kyrgyzstan! After cycling on these looong steppes we are happy to see the charyn canyon which is like a small version of the grand canyon but as we are tired, a driver takes us and we enjoy the canyon's river, eating some walnuts, offert par la maison.

We say goodbye to the cheesy samsa, one of the best vegetarian junk food we could find. The nearby village called close to the border has a market that allows us to get 2 days of vegetables and bread for fairly cheap. Almaty was as expensive as france !

We reach the kyrgyz border by Karkara valley which is a fairly recently opened crossing dotted with horses and yurts and beautiful scenery,  our first taste of Kyrgyzstan. 






























Hello everyone,
I've recently been in Bishkek in order to get a Chinese visa and am happy to share with you some new information. Visa's are'nt something I enjoy having to deal with whilst travelling especially when you're trying to do it on a low budget but here goes...
I wanted to look for somebody besides miss liu to do my visa I did a bit of searching and thanks to a friend I have found a cheaper alternative for all you travellers in Central Asia!! Here's all the information you need....
The cost is $110 for 5 day service and $130 for 3 day service. The registration cost was 500som for 2 people so that must mean 250som each. The visa can be paid for in som or dollars and you can pay when you collect your passport.  All I had to provide on the application day was my passport and 2 of the special size photos, that was it!
She is at 100 Moscovskaya street ( http://goo.gl/maps/55y6C ) just next to a place called 'bereke' and is very friendly and speaks good English. Her number is 0772 577576.
I hope this is useful to you all!

Nino and her 4 daughters hold us... as friends. Or should I say as members of their family! Thanks to them we are living comfortably in Tbilisi for what will be a 2 week pause.
A lot of refugees like her need our help to reestablish the truth and maybe bring action. We have done an interview with them about their situation.  We hope to publish it soon.  Meanwhile we ve had time to think about the next step... which is going to be unfortunately: flying to Kazakhstan!  This decision has been difficult to take but it saves a lot of money, stress and time. We are waiting for our visas to be done. Hopefully on Friday the 23rd. Borders are so ridiculous. ..
But for now more photos !

So 1 month later and we're now in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Apologies for the once a month blog but if you can believe the opportunity did not arise until now.

After a recommendation from a fellow hitch hiker we visited a touristic but beautiful seaside town called Kas. We spent a few lovely days there with our couchsurfing host Zeynep, playing with the street dogs, cooking delicious food and catching glimpses of seals!
After this little break we took Zeynep's recommendation and headed towards a famous climbing spot called 'gayik bayiri' close to the city of Antalya with no equipment and only the motivation and desire to climb!

Autostop was very easy in Turkey and we arrived there easily and discovered that it wasn't possible to rent any equipment so thought that we would just enjoy watching the climbers. But at the next moment a German couple who were leaving back to Germany in a few hours offered to let us climb with them, how cool! We shared exactly the same shoe sizes! of course it was meant to be that we were here.

From Gayik Bayiri we headed to the city of Konya in central turkey, the home of Mevlana Rumi, the famous Sufi poet. We arrived with the intention to discover more about Rumi and perhaps to try or at least watch the whirling dervishes, famed for spinning in circles in a trance like states. In reality we visited the museum which was interesting but lacking in information about Rumi himself and found that the only whirling dervish performances where for tourists in large arenas and not as intimate as we had hoped.

We did however get to meet Julien and Sophie, our friends in Bulgaria had told us about them a while ago and really wanted us all to meet and it just so happened that it was in Konya that everything came together. They are travelling by foot....yes by foot! from France to China and beyond! They have no time frame and no planned route (mostly zig zagging) and had already been in Turkey for 9 months when we met. I will be posting an interview with them soon but for now I can say that it was really interesting to hear their stories and learn about this alternative way of travelling.

From Konya we took the road north east and arrived at the incredibly unique and wonderful landscape that is Cappadocia. This is an awesome place of bizarre rock formations caused by erosion from water. Homes were carved into these rocks and inhabited by troglodytes and many other people throughout their history. We spent 2 or 3 days here hiking, climbing into small secret rooms and sleeping in some very interesting places! 

Looking at our little map we noticed that the north east of  Turkey bordering Georgia was exceptionally green! beyond anything I'd really seen before except perhaps in the tropics.
So we decided before heading to Georgia we should explore the area a little.
We were not disappointed and spent the next few days taking small dirt roads were cars seldom go through a lush wet landscape home to all sorts of trees, flowers and unique almost Swiss like houses.

After nearly 1 month and a half we were sad to leave Turkey, it had been such a surprising country in almost every respect and we have almost nothing but positive memories from our time there. Never the less we were happy that we were advancing east, when we arrived in Georgia we had no kind of idea about the country and absolutely no idea of where to go. One look at a map and we decided on a road...
What a road it was! Mostly dirt or asphalt with huge holes, with small rivers running across, It was a beautifully green lush way, mostly un touched by industry with lots of small scale farms. It took about 2 days or more to go around 200km on this road but it was completely worth it and although we didn't have many interactions with Georgians yet and found that hitch hiking wasn't as easy here it still felt like the right place to be. 

The final thing to tell is about what's happened over the last few days. So we arrived in a place Called Borjomi, famed for it's healing water and beautiful wild national park. Whilst there we approached a small monastery and asked if they might know a place to sleep. We were told to walk up behind the monastery and past the enormous graveyard and we would find a place to camp. We did find a fairly nice spot but I noticed we had no water so we headed back down to get some, I don't really know why I did it other than wanting more contact with the locals of a country when I visit or perhaps testing the compassion or religious people but I asked again if there's any place we could sleep closer...
5 Minutes later and we're invited in for an enormous supper, meeting all the nuns and being serenaded with Georgian polyphonic music. We are told that we would be given our own room in an apartment close by.
WOW! That's a lot more than I expected....Sometimes just pushing a little bit more and asking can change everything.
In the evening we get to know a bit more a lovely woman called Nino who is a Refugee from the disputed region in the north west of Georgia called Abchazia and has 4 daughters who live in Tbilisi, the capital city. She graciously invites us to her home when we arrive in Tbilisi and we happily accept. For now we've spent the last 3 days with them, talking about the problems in Abchazia, getting to know her daughters and deciding on the route east. We're thinking to go to Armenia and then to apply for an Iranian visa, after that we do not know......

Love to you all and we hope that we can blog more often these days!









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