Uncharted Backpacker

Category - Asia

Hiking Ganden to Samye Monastery – Tibet

Ganden and Samye Monastery, Tibet

The high altitude mountain trails bend and twist their way above the clouds. From one vast starkly beautiful valley to another, the trail takes you by frigid glacial lakes and impossibly high mountain peaks. Sometimes the valleys are dotted with yaks and their owners who live in primitive black tents made of yak wool, but for the most part its just you and raw nature. With its deeply spiritual, and intensely alluring culture; this is Tibet at its most authentic. Hiking between these two monasteries is one of Tibet’s greatest passages, a journey that has been preformed for centuries. Prepare to connect deeply with Tibet and its history as you follow in the footsteps of countless Tibetan pilgrims and explorers before you! Read More

A Photographers Journey into North Korea – Remote Coasts, Buddhist Temples and the DMZ

North Korea

One week into my North Korean journey I have explored Pyongyang’s vibrant districts and small mountain villages in the nation’s interior. Next on our schedule is to drive to Hamhung, Majon, and Wonsan to photograph the remote coastal regions of North Korea. These regions are famed for their deserted white sand beaches, and small fishing communities. From the Coast, my journey took me into the controversial DMZ, and finally back into the mountains to hike to Buddhist temples at Mt Myohyangsan. North Korea is quite the epic adventure!
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North Korea Photos You’ve Probably Never Seen – Pyongyang and the Country Side

North Korea

Landing into Pyongyang airport after all of the hype and nervous tension you abruptly realise where you are, the nation that is constantly flashed in the media, talked about in political debates, and known as the most secretive nation on earth. It’s quite overwhelming finally being in North Korea, but I can quite honestly say, it was one of the most exciting moments in my entire travel career. My goal for the next twelve days was to photograph as much of the people, history, architecture, and culture of North Korea as possible. This post is dedicated to the more unseen sides of North Korea, no not missile testing and dubious media jaunts, this post is for those who seek to see the real and authentic side of North Korea. Read More

The Road to Everest – Everest Base Camp, Tibet

Tsang Region, Tibet

Left breathless from the altitude you open your eyes to a surreal scene of rolling sand dunes, pristine blue lakes, and seemingly impossible mountains. As your heart struggles and labours after each beat, and the sky turns black you believe you’ve made it to Shangri La itself. When you come to, and everything becomes clear again its apparent that your still on the road, the long, bumpy, high altitude, and incredibly beautiful road to Everest. A journey to Tibet’s Everest Region is not to be taken lightly however, it’s a rugged exhibition, but those who endure it are rewarded with the riches that Tibet has to offer! Read More

A Look into the Real North Korea – Travel North Korea Guide

Pyongyang, North Korea

From the minute I decided to travel to North Korea, to the moment I returned from it, people have looked at me with concern. Before I left, my sanity was questioned by many, people believed I had a death wish, or I was looking for my next big thrill. Now that I have returned they think I may have been brainwashed or manipulated by the nation.

After two weeks in North Korea I can tell you this, it is indeed an incredible place to visit. Everything from the interesting people, stunning nature, and glorious monuments make it simply awe-inspiring. Obviously travel to North Korea has its concerns, and I will cover these stereo types and issues in this post. I will also show you a side of North Korea that most have never seen before, as I traveled overland to the north-east coast from Pyongyang. Read More

Gunung Bromo and Kawah Ijen Travel Guide – Java, Indonesia

Gunung Bromo, Kawah Ijen, Java

In the far eastern regions of Java lie two extraordinary sites. The first is the massive volcano named Gunung Bromo. The second is the sulphuric crater lake of Ijen. These are two of the most impressive sites in Java, not to mention the whole of Indonesia. Sounds amazing, right? Well like most amazing places it comes with a catch. Bromo and Ijen and very remote places, making accessing here quite difficult and tedious. Transport from Yogyakarta can take up to twelve hours to Bromo and eight or nine from Bali to Ijen. The weather is also a major factor here, as clouds often cover up Bromo and heavy rains make Ijen hazardous. Apart from all these factors, witnessing sunrise at Bromo and the miners of Ijen will be an experience you are unlikely to ever forget.

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Where Tigers Fly and Dragons Thunder – Paro, Bhutan

Paro, Bhutan

As you climb higher, past the ancient weeping cypress trees, across the bubbling stream that powers the giant prayer wheels, ascending into the clouds, you realize why this place is so sacred. Getting to Bhutan is a journey unto itself, but to take the trek up to Taktsang Gompa transports you to another world. Maybe all the talk about finding “enlightenment” or “oneself” has some credibility after all. This place would seem to indicate just so. Taktsang Gompa is an incredibly special location. As I climb through the clouds to a mystical Buddhist temple, I can’t help but thinking: This is Bhutan, at its most glorious.

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Dance of Demons and Saints, Thimphu Tsechu – Bhutan

Thimphu, Bhutan    

Monks of black hat cults subdue demons with a spinning dance; the demons lash back with an equally grand performance. The battle of colour and music rages on. Horns of monks from the temple ring hypnotically throughout the valley. The constant beat of the drum releases the parading demons and saints into their spinning trance. The colours, sounds, and anticipation of what will come next from the Royal Dzong gates adds to serene beauty of this spectacle. The Thimphu Tsechu is an event unlike any other, one you will likely not forget.

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In the Valley of the Yeti – Merak, Bhutan

Merak, Bhutan  འབྲུག་ཡུལ་      

The early morning breeze carries fog down the slopes of the mountains. Dew sparkles in beams of brilliant sunlight. Nomads usher their yaks onward, grunting as they carry their master’s earthly possessions past me. Here I am, in the Valley of the Yeti, situated in Bhutan’s Far East. So remote, beautiful, and serene. This is what a traveller dreams of finding.

What defines a traveler? Is it the destinations they travel to? Is it how far they are willing to go to find the adventure they have been longing for? Or is it their ability to discover places so incredible that, in that moment, they realise that they are exactly where they are supposed to be. Maybe it’s all of the above. For me, this very moment makes me reflect all the experiences, all the trials and tribulations I have endured. Finding a place so far removed from the rest of the world can change much in a person, for the better. That is what traveling is all about.

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The Sultanate of Brunei – Borneo

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

The Islamic Call to Prayer fills the air with its beautiful tones from the many surrounding mosques. Locals adorning brightly coloured Hijabs and purple long shirts walk from the malls to pray at the mosque. The stifling heat almost suffocates you with its soup like humidity.

This is Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei’s capital city. Everything from the golden domed mosques, the thick surroundings of uncharted jungle, the traditionally dressed locals, and poster plastered everywhere of the current sultan resonates of this empires past glory. Brunei is something different, an unfamiliar face you should get to know.

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