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Archive for May, 2012

Leaving the Danube, Gersthofen, Munich

May 22, 2012 1 comment

Wow! It has been quite some time since I have updated anything. Here it is really hard to find free connection these days. Even some pension houses don’t offer free internet as one has to subscribe to an hourly hotspot plan, which can be quite a hassle for me since I am so used to being on the need to be connected to the net :p

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Donauworth

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Free camping by a small field next to a farm somewhere from Donauworth

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Gersthofen πŸ™‚

We are now back in Gersthofen,(after a short visit to Munich) an industrial town 8km from Augsburg. Since my father is sponsored by UFL(Universal Fitness & Leisure) the sole distributor of Deuter in Malaysia, we thought that we would pay Deuter a courtesy visit. Moreover it is also on the way towards the direction of Stuttgart which is our next destination. So we didn’t have to detour that far. They were already expecting us as the folks at UFL had already informed them of our pending arrival.Anna from World of MTB also called in to put in a good word for us as she had dealt with them(reviewing their bike bags for the magazine). Upon reaching Deuter we were warmly greeted by Mr Rainer Wenninger & Mr Melvyn Jones It was another wonderful experience as we were one of the very few Malaysians(we are the first Malaysian travelers) that have visited the headquarters. As some of you probably know Deuter is a outdoor bag manufacturer. They have a long history.The company was started by Hans Deuter in Augsburg in the year 1898. The company has been through a lot in history(in times of war) and are still going strong(No.1 bag manufacturer in Germany). They manufacture all sorts of backpacks for daily use to their mountain and cycling backpacks.

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Deuter Showroom

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With Mr Rainer

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Collection of Deuter backpacks from way back

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Getting some insight on their daily operations

We have been using Deuter backpacks for about 12 years now, even before there was an official distributor in Malaysia. To me Deuter backpacks is the best outdoor backpack that I have ever used. I am not saying this just because they gave me free stuff. I have done a lot of mountain trekking and camping when I was a lot younger and have used all sorts of bags and packs from a lot of manufacturers(some of the popular ones during the 90’s were Karrimor, Lafuma) but once my father brought back a Deuter Air Comfort 40( the first Deuter model in the house) I was sold! You could immediately feel the difference with their ‘Air Comfort’ technology. It was of course the most comfortable pack that I have ever used and have been using it ever since. Since then, we have had a few other Deuter models added to the collection πŸ™‚ Ok, now back to our visit, Mr Rainer and Mr Melvyn took us on a small tour of the company. They showed us their repairing workshop(if there any damages to the straps/zippers/buckles you can send it in for repairs) and their showroom where all their models are on display(Bags,Sleeping bags and other accessories.They had a chat with my father and was really impressed with what we were doing, and asked us what we needed for our journey onwards. We gave them a list and they happily obliged to our requests. Thank you Rainner and Melvyn for the short but wonderful tour of Deuter. I am proud to declare that I am Deuter fan for life! πŸ™‚

While we didnt plan on visiting Munich as it was a bit out of the way towards Stuttgart. We were introduced to Dr Winfried, a friend of Sajjad (manager of Lahore backpackers in Pakistan) so we just took the chance to visit Munich and stayed at the Doc’s house. Munich is a wonderful city, but as with all popular cities there will be a lot of tourists and in a big city it is quite hard and tiring to navigate through the traffic and pedestrians with a bike and 30kgs of luggage.

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Angel of peace monument

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150 year old fountain

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MarienPlatz(City Hall)

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Surf in the city

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With Dr Winfried

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With Ado, boss of Radlhaus in Kissing. He changed my chain, replaced my father’s rear rack, gave us each spare tubes & spare brake pads at no charge. We insisted on paying but he refused. Germans are truly generous people. They are very happy to help out and understand what we have to go through. They are generally surprised when they hear we have travelled this far and the time it took to get here. I don’t think shops in KL would be this generous unless you ask or beg for sponsorship.

I am quite sad that after more than a month riding along the Danube we have parted ways and I have started to miss cycling along the river. But it’s now onwards towards Stuttgart and the River Rhine πŸ™‚

Categories: Germany

Great vibes in Bavaria

May 13, 2012 8 comments

We are now in Germany(Bavaria) land of BMW’s and Bayern Munich πŸ™‚ We crossed in to Passau on a hot sunny day. It was probably about 30 degrees. We were quite lost so we stopped at a cafe to ask for directions for cheap accommodation, we were advised by some local students where to go for the cheapest accommodation and after scouting around for the cheapest we could find, was a Zimmer that was 16 euros each. As we were quite tired we took it to just have a shower and get the necessary supplies that we needed to stock up on. Passau is a University town so it was buzzing with a lot of activities with students and tourists walking and cycling around town. It was a mix of both modern and beautiful traditional buildings. As it was too expensive to stay on we decided to cycle out the next day and try to camp. About 25km out of Passau we managed to find a nice quiet spot along the Donau to camp, there were a few camp-fire places around so we assumed it was quite safe.

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Goodbye Austria

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Passau

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Free camping in Bavaria

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View from our tent

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Sundown an der Donau

The following day we cycled in the direction of Regensburg. It was a really hot and dry day and it must have been about 33 degrees cycling along the Donau. After about 40km we were approaching the town of Deggendorf and While cycling along the Donau we were greeted by a young lady cyclist by the name of Anna Weiss. It is normal for people on the bike trails to greet each other. So we exchanged ‘hellos’ and to her surprise our ‘hellos’ didn’t sound like the typical German hello, so she stopped to find out where we were from. Anna was really surprised that we had come all the way by bike from Malaysia. She told us that she works for a mountain-bike magazine(World of Mountain Biking) and it would be cool if we could visit her office. When we got to the office, my jaw literally dropped, when I saw all the bikes that were there for testing. Most of them were top of the line full suspension Downhill bikes(I was in MTB heaven πŸ˜€ ) after meeting the rest of the team, they took really good care of us. They showered us with plenty of drinks and PowerBars as we hadn’t taken our lunch. They also presented us with a pair of pants each, T-shirts and also socks bearing their World of MTB logo πŸ™‚ You have my sincere gratitude WOMB crew. While we were relaxing and trying to recuperate, Johannes the editor in chief was about to head out to the local trail to do a test review of a new bike and he cordially asked me if I would like to tag along.I immediately jumped out of my seat and told him I would love to!(I was dead tired but I was literally jumping up and down and no way I am going to turn down an opportunity like this – hehehe). When I came back from the test ride, Dieter(head honcho of WOMB) invited us to stay at his place and they were having a BBQ with the WOMB crew(Awesome!) Anna’s Mom, Dad and sister also came as they were really excited to hear about our travels and stories.

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Deggendorf

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Mountain biking in Deggendorf

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Thanks for the wonderful memories. We had the ultimate German hospitality

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With the family

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Marveling at the Electric MTB

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Norman trying out the E-MTB

After spending 2 wonderful nights with Dieter and Anna we had to move on and head towards Regensburg. Saying goodbye was really hard as they had been so nice and really took good care of us, They even presented a new helmet to my father as his helmet was really damaged and worn out. We really can’t thank them enough for what they have done for us, they truly are angels. With renewed strength we pedalled our way towards Straubing. As it was getting late and it would be a waste to check into a Zimmer, we thought that we would just camp for the night. We found a spot under a bridge 3km from Straubing. The following afternoon we got to Regensburg quite early and we were starving as we didn’t really have breakfast, only a few bars of Kit Kat :p we found a Doner Kebab shop and was waiting for our turn in line when my father was approached by a young man. As it turned out, he is a Malaysian student(Amin) who recognized my father from TV(when he left in September 2011). He then asked us if we would like to come back to his apartment and meet the rest of the Malaysian students who were in Regensburg. He also told us we could spend the night there. We were really grateful and overjoyed that we were in the company of fellow Malaysians(there are quite a number of Malaysian students in Germany but the chances of bumping into them are really quite slim) so it was a blessing that Amin approached us. After meeting the rest of the ‘Gang’ we just spent the whole evening chatting, exchanging stories and experiences about their lives in Germany. There are 7 people in the apartment and everyday they would take turns to cook dinner and last night it was Faiz’s(Joe’s) turn to cook, and he was going to cook Nasi Lemak for us! Joe’s Nasi Lemak was heavenly! It has been 5 months since I have had Nasi lemak with fried chicken, and to be having it in Germany is really unbelievable – hehehe! We even had second helpings and the boys didn’t mind at all as they understood our severe (craving) situation :p Thank you boys!

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With the Boys in Regensburg

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Thanks Joe for the heavenly Nasi Lemak!!

So that is the update for the week. It has been one happy week for us and I am just really glad that I decided to go on this trip with all the wonderful people that we have met and all the experiences that I have gained. It really is about the journey and not the destination πŸ™‚

Categories: Germany

More Adventures of free camping in Austria

May 7, 2012 5 comments

We woke up quite late the following day as our campsite was well hidden, that even the boats and barges that passed by didn’t notice us so we just took our own time breaking camp. We then proceeded to cycle without knowing which town we would be stopping at as we would try to camp again. All we know we would have to stay along the Danube (EuroVelo Cycling route 6) and head towards Austria’s third largest city, Linz. So after covering about 55 km we were passing by a small town by called Presenbeug. We scouted for a place to camp. We spotted a clear field just at the entrance of the town but we thought that it was too open and we would be in full view of cars passing by,Β  people jogging and cycling along the road. We were approached by a gentleman on a bike by the name of Hans. He was wondering if we were looking for a place to stay and we told him we were looking for a place to pitch our tent. We proceeded to chit- chat for a while and told him what were doing and what our mission was. He then told us we could pitch our tent at the open field that we had seenΒ  earlier and it would be no problem. He later told us that he was a journalist for a local newspaper and would like to interview my father and take a few pictures for his publication. He also told us we should come to his house for breakfast the next morning πŸ™‚

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Monument of Attila the Hun

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A Medieval Castle

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Medieval period church

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More Castles along the way

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Our campsite in Presenbeug

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Camping on an open field with permission πŸ™‚

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View from behind our tent

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Sunset at Presenbeug

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Breakfast at Hans’s place

So after breakfast at Hans’s place, we pedalled our way to Linz and we decided that we would look for a spot to camp a few km from Linz as staying in the city would be too costly πŸ˜› Along the Danube there are lots of forested areas but some are just too dense to set up camp. So to free camp you really need to keep your eyes peeled for the right spot. After about half an hour of searching we found a small trail that was actually for cars but looked like it has not been used for quite a while which was located behind the main cycling trail and it was quite flat, so we sneaked in quietly and while we still had about 2 hours of day light we decided to cook an early dinner and wait it out (sometimes we have to wait before it gets dark before we can set up camp just to make sure nobody comes along)

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Moving forward

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Cooking our dinner while waiting for the coast to be clear before setting up our tent

We woke up to a chilly morning it must have been about 8-9 celcius and all I wanted to do was stay in my comfy sleeping bag, but we just had to force ourselves to wake up and break camp. The only downside about free camping is we cannot linger around waiting to be caught, hehe! Linz was 5 km away and when we got there we proceeded to look for a bicycle shop to get my father’s rim fixed. A spoke broke the day before so the wheel was a bit wobbly. We found a shop after asking some locals for directions. Fixing the broken spoke costs us 10 euro which is quite expensive. 10 euro can buy us food provisions that can last us for 2 days 😦 So after looking around we saw that there was nothing much to see in LinzΒ  (it is quite a modern city and would be quite hard to look for affordable accommodation) we decided to move forward.

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Linz

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Cooking lunch at a bus stop

So we are now in the quaint and serene town of Aschach an der Donau. We managed to find an affordable ‘privat zimmer’ (private pension house) that is run by a nice lady and her son. So after 3 nights of camping it feels really good to be sleeping in a comfy bed again, to have warm showers and also update our blogs and keep in contact with loved ones. So tomorrow we will head towards Passau in Germany and will be out camping again. These are the necessary sacrifices that we have to go through in order to survive Europe and get closer to our destination.

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Aschach on the Danube

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Categories: Austria