Traveling is magic

We never made trips longer than 4 weeks. After that time you are emotionally full, and it is good to go home and back to work again. My motto has always been: work hard, play hard. 

Today everybody travels, and the internet is overloaded with pictures and travel stories. Travelling has become into 'visiting what you have already seen during the planning'. In our early times, there was no internet (!), we had paper maps, no Rome2Rio yet, only a few Lonely Planet guides to plan the trip, and we asked around everywhere. Having a rough travel plan, it was easy to bend if something needed a detour or a longer stay, as a local festival, a minority wedding or funeral ceremony, or a special theatrical event. It is best described with discoveries and marvels.

We virtually always traveled with our backpacks, always with public transport, staying in local hostels. When we arrived somewhere, I usually set down at a local terrace with a beer to guard our backpacks, and as Hetty was much more picky than me on the cleanness of the hostels, she went looking for a nice place, asking the locals or some taxi drivers. She always came back with: “Bart, I found paradise again!’

Entering the Schwedagon, Yangon, Myanmar

Chongqin, China: Wanzhou Grand Waterfall, July 2006

Too many pictures

The amount of adventures is too much to describe, so we leave it to a selection of pictures, with sometimes a story. Today many many people have such stories. 

We started our discoveries early, before the masses, and so many times we were lucky: whether it is a romantic dinner at the base of one of the gigantic temples in Bagan, Myanmar, sitting on the roof of a train between the hippies descending 2.5 km the Andes from Quito to Guayaquil in Ecuador, walking in amazement in empty Petra, as well as in an empty Machu Picchu or a hot pool in Pamukkale, or celebrating the beginning of the 21th century high on Felix Rooftop Bar in Hong Kong: luck is an attitude. Of course we had occasional setbacks, but we always stayed positive: ‘maybe we sleep in a barn tonight!’

Curacao, Jan 1996

Yangshuo-Guilin, China, Jul 2011

Cuchicara, Ecuador, Jan 1995


Most travels were safe, and we hardly encountered problems. Of course there was the occasional pickpocketing: in La Paz old ladies bumped on me, and one cut open my pocket with a Stanley knife, in Barcelona a guy on the electric stairway out of the metro made fuss that he lost his glasses, and pushed me to find it, and rolled my wallet. And one time in Guayaqil we ended up in completely the wrong place as we miscommunicated with the taxi driver. When people made a throat cutting signal to us, we immediately took another cab to get out …. In the night trains in India we tied up our backpacks to our body with long velcron strips, as we heard that backpacks were stolen in these dark trains overcrowded with poor people. And always tie up your backpack on the roof of the bus yourself. But normally everything was safe.

We were early

In those days (the eighties) there was no mass tourism yet.

Can you believe that we had the warm baths of Pamukkale in Turkey virtually for us alone? That we walked alone on the ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru, or were exploring Petra in Jordan with only a few Bedouin shepherds with their sheep?


We are now experts in haggling, it’s fun. And sometimes you need to help the process a little: the stamps were finished at the post office in central Cairo, but when I shoved a single dollar into the booth, he suddenly found some overlooked ones in a drawer. We have always eaten at local food stalls, small local restaurants, and only in the first 2 years or so we had some one-day stomach inconveniences. The best places to eat are restaurants that are crowded, often the cheapest and best. In the expensive ones the steak may be waiting there already for three days.  We have our vaccinations for the serious diseases, and importantly, we are not extremely picky on hygiene, as most people are. I guess we developed a wide range of resistances as it was meant to be by nature: we eat local delicacies everywhere without any fear.

Street food in Kolkata, India, Nov. 2012