Around the World Without Visas.
You will not surprise anyone with around-the-world travel in the 21st century. People span the globe by land, water and air, on foot and by bicycles, alone and with their families..
Generally speaking, any around the world travel is, in fact, a journey home with the longest detour..
Nonsense! Thus, around the world travelers are forced to think of new vehicles – from stilts to a children's scooter, or of new conceptual ideas..
Valery Shanin can not complain about lack of ideas. The professional traveler, writer and journalist, began his first circumnavigation back in 1999..
He returned home only in 2002, traveling mostly hitchhiking. On the one hand, he has spent 1080 days for this travel. And on the other – only 280 dollars!.
This way having made one of the most economical circumnavigations..
Five years later, Valery Shanin had another idea. How about trying to circle the Earth as quickly as possible, by saving time instead of money?.
How many days would be necessary for this purpose? 108 – such is Valery's answer. After having returned home from such a high-speed expedition, Shanin decided, that the subject of circumnavigations was settled for him..
But how can the traveler stay still at home? And here, a new idea turned out! It came obviously from the former traveling experience, that was often connected with the burdensome procedure of obtaining visas..
Communication with the embassy and consulate officials, unfortunately, inevitably saddens any most interesting travel..
However, there are countries, visa-free for Russians! So, it is possible to go traveling, without addressing consulates. This is how the project "The World without Visas" was brought to life. Valery decided to begin with no less, than with a circumnavigation. "Around the world without visas!" - Shanin put forward the loud slogan, and left for Europe..
The third around the world trip of Valery Shanin commenced on September 19, this time under the motto "The World without Visas"..
Oleg Semichev, Sasha Bogomolova and Violetta Shanina, joined him as fellow companions..
Croatia became the first country on the long route. The main Town of the Istrian Peninsula, Pula, was founded by the ancient Romans, many evidences of which have remained: the Roman Forum, Augustus' Temple, and Sergius' Arch..
But the visit card of Pula – the amphitheater, that back in its time, was among the five largest constructions of the Roman Empire, and it continues to impress tourists by its resemblance to the Colosseum..
Who ever is familiar with hitchhiking knows, that this way of travel doesn't recognize plans drawn in advance..
Our around the world travelers wanted so much to get to the most beautiful city of the Istrian Coast, Rovin, that, with this purpose in mind, they have gone hitchhiking on a highway in branded orange T-shirts..
- I am learning how to hitchhike. - We'll do just fine. It can't be otherwise. Not at once, but we managed to leave. And not to Rovin, but to the North of the country – to Novigrad..
There are several palaces of medieval patricians and fragments of the city walls that remained in the city..
The rest are the country houses and summer cottages, due to Novigrad's main wealth – the picturesque coast of the Adriatic Sea..
Have you ever spent the night on the beach? Valery Shanin experienced this incomparable feeling – to fall asleep and to wake up to the sound of the sea waves - back in his first circumnavigation..
And he convinced his fellow travelers to put the tent ashore. There is a shower, a socket for teapot, what else do true travelers need! - The first night we spent, was practically all inclusive. There is a sea view..
- The ground was hard. It was comfortable, but a bit cold..
In the morning, we reached Porec on a big tourist bus. The main adornment of this seaside city – the Basilica of Saint Evfraziya. It is impossible to miss it. Both, because it is included in the world heritage list of UNESCO and, because however you wind down the medieval lanes of the center – you will appear at the entrance of the Basilica anyway..
Don't miss the chance to go up its bell tower when you visit, from where opens the breathtaking view of the surroundings..
It is well possible, that Rovin is visible from here in good weather. Young travelers didn't miss any opportunity to learn hitchhiking skills from the experienced hitchhiker Shanin, however, their attempts were not always successful..
- Even motorcycles don't stop. - I will write: Mom, take me back from here. After having snacked on some ripe fig, travelers bought tickets for the bus. As the goal of the circumnavigation is to see as much as possible. And such questions as to, how to move, where to spend the night and what to eat, get resolved in the process, upon demand..
This, and no need for visas, is what give travelers the overwhelming feeling of freedom..
The Old Town of Rovin was once an island. Today it has been connected to the coast, it is washed by the sea from almost all sides..
This hill, crowned on its top with the Cathedral of Saint Eufimiy, is built up so densely, that from the doors of the houses, next to the sea, it is possible to go down a short flight of stairs directly into a boat..
If the space between houses exceeds three meters, it is considered to be a square in Rovin..
They, as well as all of the city, have been chosen by street musicians, artists, all summer long, never-ending festivals and concerts..
After Yugoslavia had been split into separate states, the railroads crossed by new borders, became not really convenient for travel..
- Is this really Hum? And where is the city? - Thanks! It's been a while, that Valery Shanin wanted to see the smallest town of the world with the population of only 20 people..
Looks like, the town has not always been a record braker, at least, the local cathedral was obviously designed for a couple of hundred parishioners..
The train brought the travelers to the main Croatian Port of Rijeka. Here the group of Valery Shanin decided to test one more means of transportation – a ferry..
This way it is possible to get from Rijeka to the Island of Rab, in one and a half hour..
The Island of Rab, has surely confirmed its reputation of the most sunny place in Europe..
After a whole day of examining the uncountable number of temples, bell towers, castles and palaces, the travelers did not see a cloud in the sky..
- Beautiful. I just don't know, why was it called Rab..
Having returned by ferry to the continent, the around-the- world travelers went to one of the main sights of Croatia – the Plitvice Lakes..
We have reached here in… a mobile house, or a camper, as they are called in Europe..
On the territory of Plitvice Lakes National Park, among 92 falls, 16 lakes and multitudes of small rivers, in the thickets of the woods and by heaps of rocks with caves, there are tourist trails laid, allowing to enjoy the full beauty of the park, that is included in the list of nature monuments of world heritage..
- How beautiful. Feelings are overwhelming. Blue lakes..
If you had only one day in Croatia, it would be worth spending it on Plitvice Lakes..
Tourists miss to enjoy the Capital of Croatia, Zagreb, as the city is far from the sea..
Nevertheless, there is something to look at. The Temple of the Rise of Virgin Mary, beautifully highlighted at night,.
The Stone Gate,.
And the Square of San Marco. Or just to take a walk along beautiful narrow lanes, where it's impossible to get lost; to take a peak inside the courtyards similar to Odessa's..
From Zagreb's Railway Station, an intersection of almost all roads, it is possible to travel easily both to visa-free Bosnia, and to visa-free Serbia..
We have decided to begin with Serbia..
Belgrade was the capital of socialist Yugoslavia, and after its disintegration, the capital of the Serbian Republic remained..
The city has severely suffered from NATO's bombardments, and currently is being actively restored..
The Belgrade Fortress has been almost completely repaired. It is a whole complex of museums, to visit all of them, even three days would not be enough. This is why, the group of Valery Shanin limited themselves for external survey only. In the evening, while waiting for the train, we made good use of the free Wi-Fi, available in almost all the parks of Belgrade..
After nightfall, we continued further, to Montenegro..
In the empty building of the Bus Station of Bielo Pole, on the border of the Montenegro Village, we had luck charging our mobile phones and laptops..
Later we agreed to use the service of the, a little too persuasive taxi driver and went to the Tara Canyon – the deepest in Europe and the world's second after the American Grand Canyon..
The rocky banks of the canyon are connected by the Dzhurdzhevich Bridge. It is 366 meters long and almost 40 meters high. From the bridge, the entire Tara Canyon is visible, like on the palm of one hand. There is a camping directly by the bridge, with the owner, whose name is Dragolyub, who not only treated the travelers to a Slivovitsa – the local alcohol drink, but also allowed to put the tent on the territory of his camping..
This way, the travelers could have a pause and spend a Sunday in the picturesque place..
The following day, the Durmitor was waiting for the travelers..
To walk around this national park, two weeks are not enough. We have to choose the most interesting. Should we rise up the highest mountain of Montenegro – Bobotov Kuk?.
We decided to examine a well-known Ice Cave at the Peak of Obla Glava..
But the rise to the peak, took much more time and strength than travelers had assumed..
We have reached the Ice Cave by the evening. We decided to spend the night here We got inside the cave in the morning to walk among this mysteriously flickering ice stalactites..
- It isn't much easier to descend, than it was to climb there. Sometimes it is even more difficult. It is not clear where the path is leading us to, but it should bring us somewhere..
- Super! The Ostrog Monastery — the largest and most well-known Orthodox monastery on the Balkans..
It is stuck to the rock at the height of 1000 meters above sea level. In the monastery, there are rooms for pilgrims, where it is possible to spend a night, have dinner and charge batteries..
Valery Shanin, Oleg Semichev, Sasha Bogomolova and Violetta Shanina have, of course, used the monastic hospitality..
In the morning, awoken by the bell-ringing, we left straight away to Bar..
No, not to a pub, but to the ancient city on the Adriatic Coast..
Here, the travel for our youngest participant of circumnavigation, Violetta Shanina, ended..
She needed to go back home. School … The Citadel in the Old Bar, the three travelers are already examining together..
- Let's dry our sleeping bags now and run to the sea..
Moving on all possible means of transport, having dropped for a while by the Town of Ultsin, the travelers have reached Albania..
- It will last longer. Super! - It is the Albanian City of Shkoder. Equipment is on the verge of a fantasy..
Having passed through several cities and towns, having examined the Amphitheater in ancient Durres and Sanderberg's Castle in Kruye, the travelers closed the Albanian circle and returned to Montenegro..
Along the coast of the Adriatic Sea via Budva, Kotor, Herzog Nowi, the travelers are aiming at a pearl of the Adriatic Sea – the Croatian Memorial City of Dubrovnik..
- Here, please, a natural alarm – bells started ringing..
The main tourist attraction of Dubrovnik, is to bypass the Old City along the fortification wall. Please keep in mind, you will need a spare accumulator for your camera – literally, every step of the way there are new views opening, one more beautiful than the other..
It is possible to travel transit through Bosnia with a Russian passport without visa, for three days..
So, Valery Shanin included this state in "The World without Visas" project's route too..
Transit - so be it. The travelers have crossed the country via the Capital of Bosnia, Sarajevo, and the City of Mostar with its famous bridge..
And Croatia again! What can we do, if this small European country is simply overflown with sights..
The ruins of the Palace of Diokletian in Split, the Trogir Cathedral,.
The Old City of Shibenik..
And Zadar, at last. Here, the European part of the circumnavigation was supposed to come to an end..
There are no more countries, visa-free for Russians. But! It was not for nothing, that Valery Shanin visited the whole world several times. He knew, that there is a possibility to get to London without visa, for 24 transit hours only..
Therefore, from Croatia the group took off for the English capital, from where there were already booked tickets to Marrakech..
The officer can decide not to let tourists out, in the city, but our travelers were lucky..
This way, the Great Britain was also included in the project "The World without Visas"..
To tell about the sights of London, is a job, that does not bring gratitude..
Better if you pack your backpacks and join around-the-world travel of "The World without Visas"..
But hurry, because Valery, Sasha and Oleg are leaving Europe soon and hurrying further..
Africa is awaiting for them. The first European stage of the circumnavigation "The World without Visas" went on for three weeks..
And here, from the London airport, Valery Shanin, Sasha Bogomolova and Oleg Semichev are taking off to another continent, to continue the trip around the world across the visa-free countries..
It is enough to fill a simple questionnaire to enter Morocco, and here you are in Africa..
- And we are in Africa, in hot yellow Africa. We are, in fact, in its northern part. Sasha is sleeping. - It's midnight. We are at the airport of Marrakech. We have no hotel, nothing. - Cool! - We are on foot. - Super!.
There are plenty of hotels in Marrakech – big and absolutely tiny, and the city itself is similar to some infinite market place..
At noon, the travelers took a regular bus to a deserted Eastern part of the country, separated from the green west by the Atlass Mountains..
- We are going on the bus for the 3rd hour. They promised 4. On mountain roads through the Atlass Mountains. It is a comfortable bus by African standards. Air conditioning, cooling wind, blowing through the windows..
We arrived to Quarzazate late at night. Shops and cafes were already closed. But looks like travel agencies work around the clock here..
The travelers don't need a guide, but it is possible to study a detailed large-scale map in the office of the travel agency, to clarify the further route..
The first stop – the Dodes Canyon. - Amazing places! We arrived today and didn't know what to do..
To go to Fes or not to go, but decided to stay..
I don't regret, that we stayed. Beautiful view. - We can sleep right here. - We end up sleeping in warm clothes and still it isn't hot. - Yes, it's not a May month in Africa..
This time it seemed it was the coldest night, that we spent during the whole circumnavigation. You say, Africa! However, you have caught a magnificent mountain dawn..
We had breakfast in the Berber House, a real Moroccan tea with all traditional ceremonies..
- How wonderful! A hospitable owner has shown us a short way to Bulman. We'll have to cross a small river a couple of times. But it is hardly up to the ankle, according to the Moroccan. Soon, the travelers had a chance to check the truthfulness of his words….
- Here is the African river for you. Morocco. In dirt. I am wet up to my waist..
Super! The extreme transition ended safely, and the travelers left on a night bus to the Sacred City of Fes..
Medina, i.e. the Old Town of Fes, is included in the list of the monuments of the world heritage..
In this medieval megalopolis there are, practically, no cars – there would be just no place for them to part in a labyrinth of narrow lanes..
The main sight of Fes – a dye-house of leather – can be seen only from a roof or a balcony..
Valery Shanin's group continues further – to Tangier, a large seaport city, from where the route leads to the following state of Tunisia..
When you speak about Tunisia, it is always important to specify: if you speak about the country or about its capital..
As they are namesakes. It is difficult to get lost in Tunisia (meaning, in the city, in the capital of Tunisia). Which ever way, you will finish at the Great mosque or at the Catholic cathedral..
A train station would be not far from there. The travelers took the train on the advice of locals, to Sousse – a very popular resort with a medieval fortress in its downtown..
There, in Sousse, the travelers celebrated an important date – a month since the beginning of the travel!.
Oleg has shaved his head on such an occasion, almost like a local. - I am bald. I am now bald..
It is easy to get from Sousse to El Djem, known for its amphitheater of enormous size..
It could fit 30 thousand spectators!.
The following City of Sfax, with a Medina being its center, is surrounded by ancient walls..
The Monastery Fortress, favorite of many cinematographers, the travelers have already seen it in night-time lighting..
Tuazar – the real capital of dates, there are about 400 thousand date palm trees growing here..
And on the outside of this oasis, the salt deserts start stretching..
But Valery, Sasha and Oleg, dreamed to get to Carthage and this is why, they returned to the capital, from where it is possible to reach Carthage by a regular tram!.
- How's the tram? - The tram is great. It reminds me of our underground. Half-hobo conditions..
Having spent the night in the white-blue Sidi Bou Said, the suburb of Tunisia, the travelers reached the home of Hannibal in the morning..
Carthage, was once the biggest and strongest city of the Mediterranean..
It was destroyed to the ground by the Romans in the 2nd century B.C. Even today, the ruins of the legendary city occupy a really vast territory..
Here is the next visa-free country on the African continent – Egypt..
In the center of Cairo, we have got acquainted with a local, who worked as a diving instructor and learned his English..
And now lives, according to him, in a tiny village, Giza, in which there are only pyramids and two million inhabitants..
The Pyramids of Giza, of course, are an obligatory point of the program of any tourist coming to Egypt..
Although seen hundreds of times on TV, these mysterious constructions seen live, impress all the same..
To move inside Cairo on any kind of transportation, is long and boring, because of huge round-the-clock traffic jams..
But the travelers, nevertheless, have visited the Old City with its continuous series of mosques, minarets, madrasahs, fountains, and benches..
It is considered, that there are over eight hundred sights in Cairo. You continually come across mosques, each one older and more beautiful than the other. As a separate bulk over the city, the Citadel is towering – a huge fortress, the former residence of the governors of Egypt..
It is now time to move further, to the south of the country, to Aswan. It isn't so easy to move across Egypt, the country is practically under martial law..
Trains are late and there are no tickets in cash desks. And still, travelers managed to catch a train, however, we had to spend half of the way in a dining-car due to the lack of seats..
- It is 35 degrees Celsius behind the window. It is still cold inside the train. We are trying to warm up by available means..
We have met the morning with hot Egyptian tea, karkade, having offered some to other passengers. - We finally arrived in Aswan. We were on the road for 20 hours instead of 13. We already thought that it would never end. Nevertheless, we are here. In Aswan, we met a former fellow countryman, which is always pleasant during distant travelings..
- My name is Alexander. I was born in Kazakhstan and relocated to Germany 20 years ago..
I live in Germany and meet such people like you. Hi, everybody! We had to rise at 3 am. From Aswan to Abu Simbel, to the well-known temple of Ramses II, it is only possible to get there under a military escort, as part of an organized group..
After the construction of the Aswan dam, the Temple would have appeared at the bottom of the man-made sea,.
But with the efforts of an international team of engineers and the financial contributions of several countries, the constructions were lifted to a safe height, having repeated by this fact, the huge work of ancient builders..
- It is all right to film the Temple of Ramses II outside, but it is forbidden to do it inside..
I tried to film something, but I was warned to stop at once..
It is possible to get from Aswan to the north, to Luxor, across the Nile on a cruise ship, similar to a floating hotel..
But there is a more democratic, and also, more romantic way – sailing on a felucca boat..
In the company of Alexander, the native of Kazakhstan residing in Germany and a reticent Canadian, our travelers rented such a felucca – it is nice to test one more means of transportation!.
The scratching sound of tackles, splash of the waves and local tunes accompanied the travelers..
It was the first time in their lives, that they had to spend the night, not in a tent or in a hotel, but on a sailing fellucca!.
The Temples of Edfu and Com-Ombo, are relatively young by Egyptian measures, they were constructed only in the 1st and 3rd century B.C.,.
And therefore have preserved rather well. But, of course, they lose in the competition to the grandiose temple complex in Karnak..
- To circle the scarab three times is for good luck. Five times around the scarab is to have a baby. Seven times - for a marriage..
Luxor is called the biggest museum in the world under the open sky, and not for nothing. Here, it is possible to finish kilometers of photo and video film. The ruins are carefully protected. The persuasive police officers irritate a little, but for a tip, they are ready to forget about their direct duty and qualify for the new profession of guides..
Still, there are some genuine policemen too. - I was just brought there by a police officer, who worked as a guide. He took me to the distant Temple of Osiris. They are blocking the roads. And if they like somebody, they take him along..
He showed me a small temple, told me about 7 doors, described me all the frescos..
Touch three times for good luck. It was very cheerful. He did not take a penny from me. He said, that I was his friend and offered to get married..
From Luxor, the bus takes the travelers to Dahab, in the Sinai Peninsula..
More quiet and peaceful than Sharm-el-Sheikh, well-known to many Russian tourists, Dahab in translation from Bedouin language means "gold"..
The town received such a name thanks to its golden sandy beaches. It was founded by Israelis, when they used to occupy the Sinai Peninsula..
The Egyptian Port of Nuweiba and the Jordanian Port Aqaba, are connected with a ferry route..
One hour only, and you are no longer in Africa, but in Asia. But one hour is only in theory. As all the rest of the transport in Egypt, the ferry goes with huge delays..
However, it still operates and transports Valery Shanin, Sasha Bogomolova and Oleg Semichev, to another part of the world..
The next stage of the circumnavigation "The World without Visas – Asia" begins..
Having been transported by the ferry from the Egyptian coast to the Jordanian coast, the participants of the expedition "Around the World without Visas": Valery Shanin, Sasha Bogomolova and Oleg Semichev, completed the second African part of the circumnavigation and began their travel across the Middle East..
- The Jordanian food is new. There is hummus on the table. Falafel..
We always had a salad and pita bread. Now there is also hummus, because we are near to Israel..
Not staying long in the Jordanian City of Aqaba, the travelers aim for the Desert of Wadi Rum, that became known during World War I,.
Thanks to the feats and adventures of the legendary adventurer and intelligence agent, Thomas Edward Lawrence..
There are several trails laid in the desert for tourists, but our travelers don't seek easy ways, they started moving at random, being guided by the rocks of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom..
- We have kindled a fire in the reserve. It is not allowed to make fire, it's a desert..
- It is not easy to walk on sand, however a true experience of a real desert..
- And muscles are working. Muscles..
It is not surprising, that the Wadi Rum Desert, has been repeatedly becoming a shooting stage for the Hollywood blockbusters, so picturesque and diverse these landscapes are..
Being caught in the moment of such landscape photography, one should not forget, that he is in the most real desert, where it is easy to get lost..
- It is absolutely unclear, where Sasha went. There are traces, but Sasha is no where to be seen. I am shouting: Sasha! There is echo, and there is no answer..
We've been looking for 2,5 hours. - 35 minutes. Of course, Wadi Rum is not the Sahara, and life happens behind each sandy dune here..
- Hospitality all around..
Even if water finished, it would be possible to find a jeep and people, who will help out with getting some..
- We are finishing the last sip..
As much as Valery Shanin loves deserts, it is still time to move ahead..
The main sight of Jordan and of all the Middle East – Petra..
How the city was called by the Nabataeans, who built it, is unknown, we only inherited the Greek name..
Petra means 'a Stone'. Nabataeans cut the enormous temples and tombs out directly in the thickness of red-pink rocks..
The Roman buildings, built around, were almost completely destroyed by the earthquakes, while pink rocky temples strike tourists with amusement to this day..
To the Treasury, chosen by Spielberg as a scenery for Indiana Jones's adventures, the travelers are getting to, through a long and narrow gorge..
And further, begin the city ruins, with an amphitheater, the Palace of Sacrifices and a set of tombs, all cut down in the rocks..
To go up to the Monastery, many rise astride donkeys, but to enjoy Petra's beauty, it is best to go around by foot..
From the Town of Shobat, to the Castle of Mont Realis, it is only several kilometers..
The castle was erected by the crusaders and despite of its inaccessibility, was captured by the Saladdin's army..
- Hallways, rooms. We are in the defense tower. A loophole. Small rooms..
Having wandered in the labyrinths of the castle, the travelers came down from the mountain and met with the local, who not only treated them to some tea,.
But also showed a collection of ancient coins, put together by him, by his own hands, by means of an old metal detector..
The hospitable landlord happened to be not only a fanatical numismatist, but also quite a good musician..
To travel around Jordan and miss a visit to the Dead Sea is, of course, impossible. The Dead Sea is actually, a lake. But an unusual one. Firstly, it is located 408 meters below the global sea level, and, secondly, it is the most salty water reservoir of the planet..
It is impossible to drown here. You can read a newspaper, while lying, literally, on the water..
However, after swimming, despite its healing properties, it is good to take a shower..
The travelers made three friends – Saud, Salam and Mahmud, who at first have brought travelers to the Nebo Mountain, from where the prophet Moses observed the Promised Land..
Today, it is possible to see the sights here, separated by fourteen centuries of history: the Byzantine frescos and modern art cross..
Later, all the company set off to the sources of Main, to wash away the salt of the Dead Sea..
It is good to mention, that without the help of locals, foreigners would not be able to find this place..
Said, Salam and Mahmud have taken the travelers to the city of Al-Salt, from where a regular bus can take us to Syria..
Before the departure of the bus, the travelers have managed to visit the Church of St. George..
Aleppo is called the Northern Capital of Syria. It is one of the most ancient cities in the world. By the legend, there lived the prophet Abraham. Hence, the Old Town part in Aleppo is indeed very, very old..
It is only 300 meters from the Big Mosque of Jami-al-Kabir to the Citadel..
During its centuries-old history, the fortress deserves the glory of an absolutely unapproachable fortification, but in the 19th century it was destroyed by an earthquake..
This is how the terrestrial glory can perish ….
Aleppo was lucky, people stayed living in it, while only the ruins remain from its age-mate – the City of Ebla..
However picturesque they are..
Valery Shanin has even bought a new camera for the sake of it. - Valery has bought a camera. And I have bought a computer mouse. We have 3 occasions today: the camera, the mouse and a fifth of the route completed..
- I suggest to spend the night on ruins. - The idea is excellent. Because Oleg froze in a hotel under a blanket today. - And I always freeze in hotels..
With strong determination to celebrate the accomplished distance of the around-the-world route, by spending the night in the ancient ruins, Valery, Sasha and Oleg have gone to one more historical city – Afamea..
This is how we also got acquainted with Musab Hamadi, a teacher of English language and a novice writer..
Musab has already met one Russian traveler – Anton Krotov, and he has proudly demonstrated us his book with an autograph..
Yet one more new acquaintance on the ruins. An elderly security guard Abdulsaid, as usual, treated the travelers to some tea,.
Offered a shelter and showed us around the ruins in the morning, having taken us to places hidden from the eyes of ordinary tourists – secret passages and frescos covered with earth..
In ancient texts, Afamea is mentioned as Karkar, as well as Farnak, Pella and Apamea..
Alexander The Great, Anthony and Cleopatra visited here, and now our travelers too..
- It is nice in Syria. Everybody is friendly. Everybody is having fun and smiling. You can feel the warmth of the hearts in this country. The hospitality of Syrians knows no limits. Everyone, having caught sight of the travelers, sought to offer their help, treat us to something, give us a ride..
In such a friendly atmosphere, the travelers continued moving across the country..
The Fortress of Masiaf, is famous for the time of the Crusaders, there was a secret school of suicide-bombers terrorists, from the sect of Ismailis..
- We are climbing deep in search of adventures. There is still a long corridor..
- Valery, be careful, here are very abrupt steps. I can't see you at all..
- Can you hear me though?.
In the 11th century, Knights Gospitalyers turned the Castle of Krak des Chevaliers, into the most powerful construction in the Middle East, a fortification model..
Even Saladdin did not succeed taking the fortress. Having risen to the “Daughter of King” Tower, attentively peering at the horizon – what if an enemy comes nearer, it is possible to imagine oneself an ancient defender of the fortress..
And the view opening from the tower is indeed, remarkable..
Moving across Syria from north to south, it seemed logical to turn to Lebanon, visa-free for Russians, and our travelers did it..
Tripoli (Lebanese call it Trabulyus) - the second-largest Lebanese city, the largest port and shopping center of the North of Lebanon..
Despite the destructions caused by a long civil war, the historic center of the city preserved well..
- First breakfast in Lebanon? What's on offer? - A sandwich with different fillings. And pita with cheese..
- To our health. Along the mountain serpentine, the bus is bringing travelers from Tripoli to Bsharri, where there is the house museum of the mystic poet, Khalil Gibran..
The desire to descend into the picturesque Valley of Kadish, has brought the travelers to a power plant, that served as a hotel for the night..
- Good morning, country! A Christian Sect of Maronites, takes its roots in the Valley of Kadish, the set of their rocky churches and cave chapels, were included in the UNESCO list of world heritage..
Nevertheless, the majority of these lands are private and belong to Raimond Junan, who recently returned from Australia to his historical homeland and opened free access to the valley..
- Try. How is it?.
- Tasty! The Monastery of Deir Kannoubin, strikes by its Spartan atmosphere, because it was the residence of the patriarch of Maronites..
From the Kadish Valley to the Valley of Bekaa, the road passes by a grove of well-known Lebanese cedars..
Baalbek used to be called Geliopolis, in the time of the Roman Empire – the City of the Sun..
There was the grandiose Temple of Jupiter. There are only six columns remaining of it. But – they are the biggest in the world! The Temple of Bacchus, in the neighborhood, has preserved much better..
Valery Shanin planned to return to Syria on the same day, but see what happened. In the boundary town of Er-Salt, the travelers were kidnapped by Eastern hospitality..
First, they were shown around the city, having a chance to meet almost every inhabitant, and then were invited to a wedding..
A doctor who studied in Minsk, and his wife from Belorussia, helped us a little in communication with locals..
- How is it, do you like it here? - I got used to it. I know the language very well, I learned it here. I work at the Arab school, I teach drawing..
And Oleg decided to learn at least some Arabic language..
The travelers were brought to the Syrian Hama by Musa – a doctor of religion and archeology,.
Who took the travelers under his guardianship – he treated us to lunch, arranged to spend a night at his friend's place, and then took us almost to Damascus,.
Having shown the 'norias' on the way – the huge wooden wheels, pumping water from the river..
Here we are in Damascus. The capital of Syria – possibly, the oldest of the inhabited cities on Earth..
The Old City,.
The Umayyad Mosque,.
John the Baptist's Tomb, the Mausoleum of Salakh-ad-dine – the city is filled with history of the millennia. But the circumnavigation "The World without Visas", goes on..
- We have got to the Convent of Saint Fekla. They've offered us to lodge in the monastic cells..
Having spent the night in the Convent of Saint Fekla - one of the first christian saints, the travelers continued to the Mar Musa Monastery for men..
However, even locals don't know the road well..
- We are walking at the bottom of the gorge along the goat trails. It is not so simple to reach the Monastery of Mar Musa..
In the monastery, they celebrated the birthday of a Prior – the Italian father, Paolo..
Here live men and women from the most different corners of the world, even from Bashkiria. - I am sending greetings to my beloved wife. I don't know when I return. According to circumstances. Warm hugs and kisses..
A Christian mass is served in Arabic, and in the atmosphere of the monastery itself, there is something from a hippie community and an Indian ashram..
- Our dwelling. We will live here. They were very surprised, that we were only here for one night. They wanted us to stay here for a month or more..
There was indeed a calling to stay here longer, or to return, at least, once again..
In populous Bosra, there are many monuments of the Roman Empire, that remained. A local amphitheater, is unique, due to the fact, that the residents in the 11th century, redone it into a fortress, being afraid of Crusaders' invasions..
This is how the unique, defense slash entertaining construction, has turned out..
From Syria, the travelers moved once again to Jordan, but only in order to leave from the Amman Airport to Bahrain – the last Middle Eastern state on the route of "Around the World without Visas"..
Bahrain is not the most popular place among Russians, very few people know, that this is an island state..
The island is absolutely small, as our travelers began to understand, by studying the map. The state, that once grew rich on pearls, and currently - on oil, on the contrast with the previous countries, struck with the luxury of skyscrapers..
Such as the Double Tower of the World Trade Center..
The only historical construction of the Capital, Manama City – a Portuguese fort, that looks like it's just been constructed..
When touring around the island, you can't miss the 'Tree of Life' – a very old and big Acacia tree, in the middle of the desert..
Additionally, it is worth glancing at the village of potters – just to be sure that pots were not burnt by the Gods..
It is not easy to take a swim on the island – the sea is extremely shallow, besides it teems with venomous snakes..
Before flying away, the travelers managed to wander on the ruins of the Arad Fort. They said goodbye to the Middle East in the evening and took off to the Island of Sri Lanka, having completed the third stage of the expedition "Around the World without Visas"..
Valery Shanin, Sasha Bogomolova and Oleg Semichev, began the fourth stage of their "Around the World without Visas" traveling, from the Island of Sri Lanka..
The seaside Resort of Negombo, has welcomed them with tender climate and hospitable beaches..
The travelers spent several days swimming in the ocean and finishing the articles about the first two stages of the circumnavigation: travel across the countries of Europe and the Middle East, visa-free for Russians..
Having retuned the debt, that accumulated before the readers, the group started moving into the depths of the island..
The bus service in Sri Lanka is convenient and inexpensive..
The Golden Buddha in the City of Dambulla, claims to be the biggest..
Is it true or not, by all means it is worth seeing this 30-meter statue, and also the small Golden Temple nearby..
From Dambulla, again by bus, it is easy to reach Sigiriya – the Lion's Mountain, on top of which a unique palace fortress was built in the 5th century..
The enormous ruins of the fortress, were included in the list of the world heritage of UNESCO..
On the way, a traveler from Italy has joined the group..
- Valery, aren't two cocos too much?.
- I couldn't resist the temptation. So cheap..
One more monument of the world heritage – the Ruins of Polonnaruwa..
Impressive by its size, this complex can only be examined, by moving around on a bicycle or on local transport - tuk-tuk..
For example, the thousand room Palace of King Parakramabahu the First, once had seven floors of 400 meters each..
Simply, a skyscraper! From the remaining ruins, in some places better preserved, in others worse, it is possible to imagine the scale and beauty of the ancient construction..
In such a place, Valey Shanin had the double pleasure of celebrating his birthday..
- Directly on the lake shore. Beautiful place. I have been here a year a half ago and have been repeatedly thinking of it, ever since..
The further route was leading the travelers to the eastern part of the island. The most logical move is to go there by train. By railway, the travelers have gotten to Batticaloa, the city glorified by the legends about certain mysterious singing fishes..
- We arrived to Batticaloa, on the eastern coast of Sri Lanka. We will go see the fountain with mermaids, then we will be listening to fishes..
- What is your impression of the mermaid? - She is beautiful..
In Ampare, it is possible to go up to the top of the rock to a Buddhist monastery..
But Valery, Sasha and Oleg aim further and higher – to the mountainous part of the island..
Seven kilometers from the City of Badulla, there is a waterfall, maybe not the highest, but, perhaps, the most picturesque in Sri Lanka – Duhinda..
Local people believe, that at the bottom of the falls, there are infinite hidden treasures, protected by evil spirits..
Our travelers didn't want to prove the legend right or wrong, and continued forward. Mountain trails, Buddhist temples and the Rock of Ella, are waiting for them..
There are evil spirits here too – bloodsucking parasites, leeches..
- Sport shoes are generally better, than sandals. At least, they prevent some of the leeches from the desire to bite..
There are also treasures here – fantastic picturesque landscapes with footpaths, bridges, falls and rich local fauna..
However, the main treasure of Sri Lanka, undoubtedly, is its green gold – Ceylon tea..
The train is carrying the travelers from Ella to Haputale – one of the centers of the tea industry..
They continue to collect tea, planted by British, a century and a half ago. Tea factories, constructed back then, continue to successfully operate. Sir Thomas Lipton, has glorified his name here. Not only the tea, but from an observation deck, a view over nearly half of the peninsulas, bear the name of Lipton..
Not only tea feeds Sri Lanka. It is impossible to leave the island, without having risen up to the best-known top – Adam's Peak..
The majority of pilgrims go to the top from the Village of Dalhusi and leave at night, to meet the dawn at Adam's Peak..
Our travelers did the same way. The trail is lit up at night, it is possible to stop at platforms to drink tea and even to take a shower..
Having completed about five thousand steps and having risen to the top, it is possible to, at least, admire the rising sun and the opening panorama and, at most, to feel proximity to paradise..
The participants of the expedition "The World without Visas", have flown over to Malaysia by plane..
We have plunged into the concrete jungle of Kuala Lumpur, after the Ceylon jungle, with the underground,.
The Twin Towers Petronas,.
And the colonial architecture of Independence Square,.
And in the evening have departed for Manila – the Capital of the Philippines, to return to Malaysia a bit later..
There are monuments to national heroes in every country, but in Manila's Park, it is a whole history imprinted in stone and bronze, consisting of dozens of sculptures, narrating the last days of the life of the Philippine's hero, Jose Risal..
There are many children here, their Christmas caroling reminded the travelers that it was already December..
It is fairly easy to lose track of time in a long travel..
Time does not allow the participants of the expedition to relax and rushes them to the north of the island Luzon,.
First, by bus, then by taxi, to the Town of Sagado, with its famous caves..
The majority of the caves are ancient burials, filled with wooden coffins and covered with bones,.
But in the biggest – the Great Cave – one can wander along an underground river and feel oneself as a real cave explorer..
- Scary. Not scary, I just can't see nothing. We have bad flash lights. Mice peeping and it is unclear where to go..
The travelers reached the rice plantations in Banaue, by Jeepney – Philippine's unique means of public transportation – the former military jeep with a specially extended salon..
On the way, we got acquainted with Chris, who without stopping for a minute, in classic American style, was stating his only correct vision of geopolitical problems..
Terraces for rice plantations were cut down in rocks using manual labor, two to three thousand years ago and are being operational to this day..
The total length of this truly unique construction is about 20 thousand kilometers!.
The travelers together with Chris and another traveler from Holland, shared the cost of a rented jeep and went to the most beautiful terraces..
Rice terraces in Batad – age-mates of the Egyptian Pyramids and even though not so mysterious, they strike by their scale and achievements of human labour..
It is time to say goodbye to the Philippines and return to Malaysia, however, this time, not to the Capital of Kuala Lumpur, but to the Island of Borneo..
Malaysia has welcomed us this time, not only with Christmas Carols, but also with a real festive fair..
- How much should I play for? Everything?.
I have missed. Let's go from here..
Early in the morning, Valery, Sasha and Oleg, left the City of Kota Kinabalu, to climb to the top of Mount Kinabalu..
The ascension did not go well – the weather failed us. - It is slippery, wet and damp. Rainforest. A real jungle. The path goes there..
- We have reached the top. We are standing now under a roof. It is pouring rain, absolutely wild..
On the opposite side of the mountain, there are the Thermal Sources of Puring. Because of New Year's holidays, there were many people, but the travelers, nevertheless, managed to get warm in mineral bathtubs..
To get to picturesque falls, that only seem close on the map, it is necessary to pass through a real jungle..
- The key is not to stop. Because, when you stop, you begin to hear all the sounds of the forest. And if you keep walking, it is ok..
You see the path before you, everything is normal. Should you stop, everything starts crippling on you, enveloping from head to toe. Something squelches under our feet, everything makes noise: peeps, gnashes, hisses, something falls, water drips from above..
Why are we here, unclear. You wanted jungle – here you go!.
It's true, that impressions are not given for nothing, a real traveler has to be prepared for challenges and complications..
So, on the next day, we made a new attempt to storm the top of Kinabalu..
- It is still more convenient with ropes. I feel like a cool rock climber, rising almost to the Everest..
It is the highest peak of Southeast Asia, 4000 meters..
We'll have to climb in one day. From 2 to 4 to jump like a hare..
The mountain there, is already in fog. So we will continue ahead, into the cloud..
Despite dampness, fog and rain, the second ascension was successful, the top is taken!.
- Last meters, almost. - And here it is. I made it. - I have reached the top..
Using all available vehicles – a ferry, a plane and a bus – the travelers started moving to the south of the island, in the direction of the City of Kuching..
A distinctive feature of the city – the huge number of cats, both alive, and sculptural..
From Kuching, the participants of the expedition "Around the World without Visas", Valery Shanin, Sasha Bogomolova and Oleg Semichev, departed to Indonesia..
- First night in Indonesia. Yesterday, we arrived to Jakarta. Then, straight away, on the bus to Bandung..
From there, by taxi, at once, to a volcano..
Now at the bottom of the volcano, we are setting up for a sleep in a bewitched forest with very tall pine trees..
The Tangkuban Perahu Volcano, was definitely worth the trip to it..
Its lower crater Kavah Domas, is filled with steam and hot springs..
This is how the Earth, probably looked, billions of years ago..
The top crater Kavah Ratu, is full of tourists, generally, but stepping a little deeper on the trail, will get you to a virgin world of rocks and clouds..
The Prambanan Temple Complex, is 17 kilometers away from Yogyakarta..
Constructed in the 9th century, it was destroyed by an earthquake 150 years later..
Hindus, recognizing the will of gods, didn't attempt to restore temples. Restoration works began only in the 20th century. However, 50 years later, another earthquake strongly hit Prambanan again. So, perhaps, it is the largest monument to the vanity of human efforts..
Intending to climb yet to another volcano – Merapi – the travelers returned to the City of Yogyakarta..
- We are choking on the local food. Small grilled chicken pieces with rice..
Yogyakarta is not a simple city. Think for a minute: it is the Capital of Sultanate, which is part of the Republic of Indonesia..
In the evening, Valery, Sasha and Oleg, said their good byes to the rich cultural life of Yogyakarta and left to a volcano..
To make it to Merapi by sunrise, it is necessary to begin ascension at two o'clock in the morning..
This way, unforgettable impressions are guaranteed to you..
- Last meters to the volcano top..
The following island of Indonesia – Bali, inhabited generally by Hindus. Respectively, the main sights here – except for popular beaches, of course, are Hindu temples..
The majority of them are neither monuments, nor museums, but operating temples, therefore, it is necessary to follow certain rules and rituals on their territory..
For example, to enter inside only after a purification ceremony..
- I have washed my face..
- They wish us to be healthy for many years. To carry a flower. This is a procedure, they are undergoing here..
It is, theoretically, more convenient to move around Bali by bicycle. If you can, of course. - I have never ridden a bicycle. I will try now. - You look scared. - Absolutely. - What are you afraid of? - What do you mean, what to be afraid of? I am just starting to get on it. And you are cycling close around. - Let's go in that lane. - The movement is happening. Release it and go..
- If we are lucky with weather..
In the Town of Ubud, live monkeys perfectly get along with their stone fellows..
As well as with other sculptures. Ubud is the Capital of Bali art, the city of artists and sculptors, attracting creative people from around the world..
Russian tourists need a visa to enter Singapore. When transiting, having a return ticket, it is possible to enter the country, visa-free, for a maximum of 72 hours..
Our travelers have chosen this Island-State-City to celebrate New Year's Eve..
- Christmas gifts..
Of course, Chinese – the main population of Singapore – do not celebrate New Year on December 31st, nevertheless, they have arranged decorative illumination and modest fireworks, for European visitors..
In the end, the holiday is inside of us..
- December 31st, the preparation for the New Year has begun. We went to a big Chinese cafe to have some dinner. The choice was huge. We spent 30 minutes picking. As a result, we've selected some very spicy soup, that was impossible to eat..
Singapore is a secular state, however, representatives of almost all world religions get along very well here..
During the first circumnavigation, Valery Shanin found out about the tradition of Sikhs to organize free dining rooms in temples, and has invited the fellow travelers Sasha and Oleg to use Sikh's hospitality..
- Déjà vu. I was in the same Sikh Temple 10 years ago. With a videocamera as well. The menu hasn't changed in 10 years, at all. And people are the same. So in 10 years again, in the Sikh Temple in Singapore..
Sometimes religions mix up in Singapore, directly in the scales of one building. In the Thousands of Lights Buddhist Temple, images of Hindu gods and a wheel of fate can be seen, and its architecture is extremely eclectic..
Buddhists won't concede hospitality to Sikhs at all. Here our travelers have got free lunch. - We can't escape it now. - We will have to eat again. - What can we do? The difficult life has begun. We had breakfast in the sikh temple only an hour ago. We have come to see the Chinese Buddhist Temple, in time for lunch. We will have to have lunch then. Hardships of traveler's life. And so, this is how we suffer..
Forces for circumnavigation are necessary, but the main bread of the traveler – of course, are the impressions..
So, it is time to leave hospitable Singapore and to move further, to Indochina..
Russians can directly issue the visa to Cambodia on the border..
In this country with particular ideas of cleanliness and order, tourist objects are fairly strange..
In the National Park of Bokor, at the top of the mountain, they show to foreigners ruins of a hotel which isn't even a hundred years old..
Together with a group of French, our travelers at first, climbed a mountain track,.
Then went in a pickup and here they are in front of an hotel with the loud name Palace Bokor..
Thanks to the constant fog, the ruins really create a gloomy and mysterious impression..
We stopped by in the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, for only one day and at once, became witnesses to a wedding procession..
The main temple of Phnom Penh, Wat Phnom, was founded by the legendary widow, Pen, who found five figurines of Buddha in the krone of the huge tree, washed on the coast by the river..
Today, they not only worship Buddha here, but also local city spirits, both Hindu gods and the widow Pen..
And the park at the bottom of the temple, is the favourite resting area of city residents..
Russians can enter Vietnam for two weeks without visa. From Cambodia it is quite convenient and very interesting to get to Vietnam down the Mekong River..
- We float to Vietnam by the boat across Mekong. In the best traditions..
Mekong for Indochina, as Mississippi for America, a mother river. It feeds them, it gives them water and serves as a transport route..
On the river, they breed birds, catch fish, compete in rowing and just live directly on boats..
Ho Chi Minh, the former Saigon, is so to speak, the southern capital of Vietnam and the business and shopping center of the country..
There aren't a lot of historical buildings in the city: the Presidential Palace,.
The Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office..
From Ho Chi Minh, the north of the country can be reached by special tourist bus with berths..
It is possible to make stops on the way and then, to go further, the ticket is valid until Hanoi..
Valery, Sasha and Oleg, got off of the bus in Nha Trang..
Nha Trang - a quite luxurious resort on the bank of the South China Sea..
The sea also feeds locals. The sea gives food.
And attracts tourists, with its magnificent beaches..
For spirituality, there is a number of Hindu temples in the city,.
A Catholic Cathedral.
And a Buddhist Temple – the Longshan Pagoda. - And back on the sleeper bus. For the second night in a row, in the sleeper bus..
- I see you like sleeping here. - Everybody knows their places. I stay on this side, Oleg in the middle, Sasha on the other side. It already feels like we live in buses..
The next stop on the way to the north of Vietnam – Hoi An. A main trade port in the Middle Ages, today, Hoi An is the tourist center of Vietnam, with its well-known Old Town
and Marine Museum..
However, trade is still going very well today..
The City of Hue is included in the list of the world heritage by UNESCO..
Directly by the bus station, there is the embankment of the Perfume River, where it is possible to change over to a stylish boat, with a dragon on the front and take a boat ride..
Down the river, we can reach the best-known Vietnamese pagoda, Thien Mu, with the octagonal Fuok Zuyen Tower. Down the river, we can reach the best-known Vietnamese pagoda, Thien Mu, with the octagonal Fuok Zuyen Tower..
It is both an operating temple and a museum complex..
Tombs of emperors were also constructed on the coast of the Perfume River. These are examples of palace and park art, whole town with ponds, pavilions and temples as well as empty sarcophagi..
The emperor's body, by tradition, was hidden elsewhere in a confidential place..
And again to the north, to the capital of the country, Hanoi..
And from there, almost without running late, we go further, to Halong Bay..
Only half of the two thousand islands of the gulf have names..
But how do they sound in translation! Human Head, Two Roosters, Old Fisherman and Dragon Island..
As the islands are of limestone, big caves are not a rarity here..
The stalactites in the Cave of Thien Kung, are reminiscent of exotic birds and animals..
According to the legend, the wedding guests of the beauty and the dragon, have been turned into stone..
The pagoda did not impress the travelers, however, the whimsical Islands of Halong Bay dazzle in any weather..
- Places are remarkable. Weather is cloudy. I wish it was a sunny day, not this kind of weather..
After two days of cruising in the picturesque bay, Sasha, Oleg and Valery, have returned to Hanoi, to continue by night bus to the following visa-free country – Laos..
During the previous circumnavigation, Valery Shanin studied the capital of Laos, Vientiane, astride bicycle..
This time, the team has decided to rent motor scooters, because it is good to test as many means of transport as possible!.
But as soon as it got dark, the travelers lost sight of each other. It was good that Valery told the young fellow travelers, that it is possible to spend the night in any Buddhist monastery..
So they did. And the next day, the three of them gathered in the rental center, handing over their motor scooters..
And further, by bus, classical way, we left for the neighboring Thailand..
The first Thai monastery where travelers called it a night, turned out to be a bit odd..
Monks were smoking and playing music all night long..
After such monastic disco, in the morning, the holiday proceeded already in a more traditional spirit – with prayer and treats..
Local parishioners bring so much food to the monks, that a large part of it has to be consumed right there..
This also didn't go without surprise. Valery Shanin who is well familiar with Buddhist rituals, has witnessed something new for himself – the Ritual of the Tree of Happiness..
The tree in the middle of the temple, gathered from palm leaves and threads, will be dismantled after the service and threads will go on the wrist of parishioners – for good luck..
The City of Phitsanulok, isn't really known among tourists, but for Thais it is the center of pilgrimage..
Exactly here, in the Wat Yai Monastery, there is the Golden Buddha Chinarat, the second main relic of Thailand..
Further, the traveling route of "Around The World Without Visas' expedition", was going through Sukhothai..
The ruins of this ancient city, are included by UNESCO in the list of monuments of world heritage..
They occupy a huge territory. The travelers decided to use the transport which is already tested in Laos – bikes..
Of course, it is quicker and more comfortable on two wheels, than on your own two legs..
And what's important – it is possible to see much more. It is only necessary to drive carefully. It is only necessary to drive carefully..
- I caught my leg. Lift that thing. Gas is leaking..
In Thailand the drivers are so friendly, that hitchhiking is quicker than travelling by bus..
- We are going to Tak. This is how this city is called..
In the City of Tak, the travelers were let inside the temple and were told to make themselves at home – you can spend the night and you can cook rice..
- We have spent the night in the monastery. I spent the night in that same monastery during my first circumnavigation..
- It is the only monastery in which I have spent the night twice. During the first "Around The World" travel, we haven't stayed twice in the same monastery. Later, I haven't traveled to monasteries..
- 10 years ago, I spent the night in this monastery. And now for the second time, we have spent the night here..
Slept in the same temple. Everything remained without changes. Everything is as it was..
And the monks treated us the same as before, we have been lodged and forgotten. That's why we will be living as englishmen, besides, there is no one to say goodbye to..
In the capital of Thailand, Bangkok, there is whole district designated for backpackers – independent travelers – with cheap shops and a good one hundred hotels of economy class..
The group of travelers was divided in Bangkok. Sasha Bogomolova has decided to stay longer in Thailand, and Oleg Semichev and Valery Shanin, have gone to Hong Kong..
- We say goodbye to Thailand. We depart to Hong Kong, to China. From Thais to Chinese..
Formally, Hong Kong belonged to the Chinese Republic, but there are different laws here, particularly no visa is required for Russians..
This is how China, more precisely its small part, was included in the "World without visas project"..
But more importantly, it is possible to take a direct flight from Hong-Kong to Fiji, and this way, without stopping by in the countries requiring visas, get to the following stage of circumnavigation – Oceania..
Oceania – was possibly, the most difficult stage of around-the-world expedition of the "World without visas"..
There are no less than ten countries that are visa-free for Russians here. But what is Oceania? Ocean, correct. And tiny islands states in it..
Many of them are still colonies and a visa is necessary to visit them. How to move between the islands and follow the no consulates principle. We will have to limit ourselves to three states, because one cannot do everything..
So, Valery Shanin and Oleg Semichev arrived to Fiji. They also decided to travel over the island counterclockwise..
We have spent the first night on the oceanic beach, Korolevu. In this amazing place it is possible to see both sunset and sunrise..
Fiji people are open and friendly, just like the nature surrounding them..
Continually, you may hear Bula! It's a greeting!.
Everyone seeks to help the travelers, to offer rides or show the way. But our travelers prefer independence. So they have gone to the falls – climbing rocks along the river at random..
- It's not the fact that we will get through. This is how we travel around Fiji. Looks like we have created adventures for ourselves. It soon became clear, that it is possible to reach the target only by swimming. But what to do with photo and video equipment? Right there, as by request, a Fijian on a bamboo raft appeared..
Such peculiar hitchhiking on the river..
- Hitchhiking on the river works in Fiji. We've proved it with our personal experience. But my bag is dry and Valery is dry too..
So it turned out to be easy to move around the island. The same with lodging for the night. In every village, the first comer always offered his help. So near Suva, the capital of Fiji, we have spent the night in a Protestant church..
- We have spent the last night on the seashore. But the photo and video cameras need to be charged..
That's why we are looking for a socket. We passed by the suburbs of Suva. - Coincidentally, we have met a person who lives in a church and invited us to stay over. Therefore we spend our second night in Fiji, in a church..
And in the Town of Korovou, we got acquainted with doctor James and his family, including his outspoken mother-in-law..
The hospitable doctor has brought travelers to the next village. And so we moved from one hospitable settlement, to another..
In the Village of Rorovuana, the entire population, however small, wanted to communicate with the travelers..
In a public hut, by the light of paraffin stoves, the villagers prepared kava for dear guests – a Fijian ceremonial drink, along with folklore songs and simple treats..
The travelers needed five days to explore the biggest island of Fiji's Archipelago – Vita Levu, and to return to the starting point..
We can continue further now, to the Republic of Vanuatu..
British scientists have made a research on, how happy residents feel in different countries..
And if Russia takes the seventh to last place in this rating, then Vanuatu, turned out to be the happiest country in the world..
In order to be sure, Valery Shanin and Oleg Semichev have arrived to the main island of the country – Efate..
The island is so small that it can be walked across. The virgin nature, dirt roads that are yet to be reached by the asphalt civilization and proximity of the ocean – all of this awakened Robinson Crusoe's spirit in our travelers: spending the night on the beach by the fire and eating wild fruit..
- There is abundance of coconuts here on the beach..
By the sound, there is water in them. Which means they're good. We don't have any tools, so we have to act as primitives..
It's not an incident that the well-known series "Survivor" was filmed in Vanuatu..
Valery and Oleg, of course, have visited the beach where the film crew worked. The place is really remarkable. However, all night long our Robinson's have been attacked by crabs..
- We have been fighting crabs all night long, just like cockroaches..
We smashed so many with our slippers..
The claw is pure protein. The rest of the crab is not edible..
It's hot, let it cool down..
Survivor. However the entire island, is a never-ending beach. The surf rhythm and tender climate, make locals to become philosophers, who are content with what they have..
This is Vanuatu's recipe of happiness..
From Vanuatu, the travelers took off to the Polynesian Archipelago of Samoa, via Fiji..
Having landed on the Island of Upolu, Valery and Oleg at once left to the port and by the ferry, were transported to the Island of Savaii..
Either we caught rush hour or the local ferry is chronically overloaded, but it was impossible to find a free seat..
In Samoa, unlike Vanuatu, the roads are asphalted, there is electricity in villages and you can't really call locals Robinsons..
They prefer canned food to fresh fruits and can't get their head around, why foreigners can't stay at home and have to travel from place to place..
While our travelers were going around the island, getting into tropical showers, spending the night in local lodges without walls, once again confirming that the real traveler doesn't like to sit within four walls..
On the Cape Asui Sui, near the Taga Village, the stiffened volcanic lava created surprising rock formations, which turn into real fountains thanks to the surf..
So our travelers were so astounded by this nature's attraction, that they forgot that they should move along..
And back on a very busy ferry, to the Island of Upolu..
The first thing the travelers did, on the biggest island of Samoa, is to freshen up..
And later went to the Falls of Togitogiga. On the way they got acquainted with a Canadian botanist, who has come to Polynesia in search of rare plants..
The Canadian drove the travelers to the southernmost tip of the island..
Here, on Cape Tapaga, the travelers have got to the opening ceremony of a new public house..
The previous one has been destroyed by the strongest tsunami, and it is only part of the huge damage which was caused to the country by the rage of elements..
The following day the route was going pass the Falefa Falls,.
And in the evening, they were hiding under the arches of a church from almost the same kind of waterfall, but droping from the sky in the form of a tropical rain..
- We have come to church, Catholic by appearance..
We have been allocated such a mansion..
What a school desk, excellent. There is the place to sleep and here we will be working..
It was interesting to get to a Bahai temple, after being in a Christian church. It is a relatively young religion, that is not two centuries old yet. However, five million supporters of Bahai have built their temples, in all parts of the world..
- We spent the night in the Bahai temple. We slept right here. And all evening was spent in a meditative state of mind, examining the temple..
- We got up in the morning and have been drinking tea for an hour, looking at the temple..
We are listening to birds singing. It is a very meditative place and it is difficult to leave..
The road to the Lake of Lanot, was longer than noted on the map, and not so easy..
- We are cutting through the grass thickets. Through the jungle..
The lake itself wasn't worth it. But adventure is adventure!.
We called it a night in one of the villages. There are no hotels in this area whatsoever..
As a sign of gratitude for offering a lodging for the night, we presented the owner's son with a branded expedition t-shirt..
Now the Samoa travelers will have a fan..
During the last days on the island, Oleg and Valery returned to a Robinson's way of life: spending the night on the beach to the sound of the waves, tea cooked on a fire..
Bathing in stone bathtubs and the fruits of a breadfruit tree baked in coals..
- Hot. Hot cannot be crude?.
But it is time to go back to civilization. And travelers flew back to Fiji. They spent the day on the beach, watching fishermen and have been accommodated for the night, by pastor John, from the Assembly of God's Church, having got acquainted with his cheerful parishioners..
The next stage of the circumnavigation after Oceania – the countries of Latin America. But for Russians who are essentially traveling without visas, it is impossible to get there from Fiji – visas are required for transiting through Australia or New Zealand..
We have to make a detour. From the Fiji Islands back to Hong Kong, from there to Kuala Lumpur, and only then to Buenos Aires..
Having stopped in the capital of Malaysia for only one day, the travelers got there in time for the Chinese New Year..
Well, it's remarkable – a new year and a new stage of round-the-world expedition the "World Without Visas"..
A new continent and a new hemisphere. Straight ahead, to South America!.
Having started on September 19 from Moscow, the group of travelers under the leadership of the skilled traveler, writer and journalist, Valery Shanin, methodically explored the countries visa-free for Russians.
In Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and even the Islands of Oceania, proving that anyone can go around the world without visas..
Valery Shanin, Oleg Semichev and Sasha Bogomolova celebrated the Chinese New Year on a plane, flying from Kuala Lumpur to Buenos Aires..
The new stage of the circumnavigation began in South America. - Argentina. America. In the capital of Argentina, the team of travelers has significantly grown. - Now we will be 7 people, starting tomorrow. Ira was the first one to arrive in Argentina. She has opened the "World Without Visas, South America"..
Finally the girls came back, we have been waiting for a very long time. At 4 o'clock in the morning, they take a 3 hours walk around the city..
Founded 400 years ago, Buenos Aires was actively built up at the end of the 19th century, the Golden Age for Argentina..
Walking along the pedestrian streets of Florida and Lavalye, you will end up coming to the main square of Plasa de Mayo, to the Presidential Palace which is also called "The Pink House"..
One more participant of the expedition, Herman Romanov, arrived the next day. - I am so happy to see everybody. I have reached here well and I'm glad to see you all together and in good health to our meeting with the whole group..
Buenos Aires is the largest city of Latin America, which can't be studied in one month. But the principle of circumnavigation is the continuous movement, and the seven brave are moving forward to the south, on a night bus to Patagonia..
The City of Viedma, on the Rio Negro River, will be remembered by travelers for its bad weather and worker's strikes..
And the Sea Resort of Las Grutas, meaning "caves", for its caves of course..
- Huge caves. Up to 10 meters. Argentina..
As well as for its ocean, beach and crowds of tourists..
It is more interesting to travel with a big company. And sometimes, even more appetizing!.
- Oleg, who is going to cook plov today?.
- Shhh... Don't do it. Oleg!.
Oleg, meat should be cut by man. - All right. - As though the knife is sharp. - This is usually burned and gets eaten before the plov is ready..
From the Town of Rio Gallegos, it is possible to get to Tierra del Fuego by bus, but the trouble is that the bus passes across the Chilean territory, and Chile at that time, wasn't visa-free for Russians yet..
Having trusted the employee of the bus company, that they will pass through the Chilean border on transit, travelers bought the tickets..
But they were not let through the border. - What Yulya, they did not let you in Chile? - No, they didn't. But we will find a solution. The main thing is that we have kept the principle of the project – Travelling without visas..
- We have been waiting for three hours at the border, and they didn't let us in. And now they want to deport us. We will be claiming our money back for the tickets..
Having organized a seating protest, followed by a lying protest at the bus station, and having communicated with local police, the travelers from Russia became local celebrities..
The city newspaper has dedicated them the front page. After that, Sasha Bogomolova and Oleg Semichev changed their minds to go to Tierra del Fuego, and each of them went their own way..
- It's either hot or cold, not clear. And I don't know where to go to..
The other travelers have departed to Ushuaia by plane..
Valery Shanin, visiting Argentina already for the third time, has reached, for the first time, the most southern city of the earth – Ushuaia..
The majority of the ships going to Antarctica, leave exactly from here. In the port, the travelers found at once a Russian vessel, "Professor Multanovsky"..
The crew has arranged with pleasure, an excursion on the ship for the fellow countrymen..
- It is my first season in Antarctic. I am usually in the Arctic..
It is an expedition steamship..
- I am third assistant to the captain. Alexander Aleksandrovich Prudnikov..
- Are we in the 3rd class now? Are they divided between man and woman?.
- On passengers' request. - It is one of the restaurants..
Unfortunately, the excursion to Antarctica didn't work out All passenger seats on the vessel were taken, and it is dangerous to transport additional tourists across the ever storming Drake Strait, and is therefore strictly forbidden..
Before returning to the north, on the continent, travelers haven't refused themselves the pleasure to explore the island by car..
Among the virgin nature of the National Park of Terra del Fuego,.
At the breath taking height of the Garibaldi Pass,.
On the picturesque coast of the Beagle Passage,.
An acute feeling comes over you that you are standing at the end of the world..
Perhaps because it is truly so? - Yes, for the sake of this view, it is worth flying over half of the Globe. - When the Antarctic continent with its eternal winter is so close, it is a high time to enroll in "walruses"..
- How is it? - Super. I never swam like that. I can now be officially enrolled in "walruses". - Yes, at the end of the world. Thank you Valery..
Having returned on the continent, the travelers intended to go to the Iguazu Falls,.
But all tickets in the northern direction have been sold out. We decided to spend our time differently. Herman chose to go mountain bicking, Yulya and Irina Shcheglova, have registered in a glacier hike campaign, and Valery and Irina Protasova, went on an independent tracking in the Los Glasires Park..
The entrance here is free, the park is speckled by dozens of tourist tracks, so it is impossible to get lost..
But it is possible to enjoy in privacy and silence, the beauty of the untouched nature and the purity of glacial streams..
- Ice water, but there is a possibility that it is clean..
A spring from under the ground. We shall experiment on ourselves. And from any point to admire the mountain top Fitz Roy, that towers in the center of the national park..
A post with two signs is the most distant point we've reached. From here we turn around and go back to El Chalten. So in one day we haven't advanced far, but received incredible pleasure..
- A remarkable place, everybody should come here. I recommend it! - I woke up late and then rode a bike on the mountains here. - Does it exist this ropeway? We had a ropeway. The mountain river that we were crossing. The conductor has told us, that under such circumstances it is not recommended to move. We need to find a shelter, and there is no place to hide. - For the first time in my life, I got blown off by a hurricane. I was trying to hold on to the stones, I was sticking my foot into rocks but still got blown off..
The legendary Argentinian Highway Ruta 40, goes from the Strait of Magellan to the Bolivian border, it is 5000 kilometers long!.
Tickets for the bus were sold out several days ahead. - What is left to do? Hitchhiking! But the Road No. 40 is known as an "anti-hitchhiking road"..
German preferred to go around by buses. And Valery and the girls decided to take a risk. The first couple was picked up almost straight away, and Valery with Irina remained on the empty road..
- The Road No. 40 in Argentina, is very empty and not asphalted. Cars go seldom and those who pass don't stop. We have to go by foot..
- The Road No. 40 is going there. And this is an unknown route..
And here the travelers are in Perito Moreno, having overcome 500 kilometers of the lifeless desert in a day!.
A town means, Internet. It is an opportunity to find out about other participants of the expedition..
It turns out, they're all moving as we agreed to Iguazu Falls, by all means of transportation and all, using different routes..
But Valery and Irina, are a couple of thousand of kilometers behind. It's time to hit the road!.
- Good morning! We are in a new town. First we need to have breakfast and then, back on the road with new energy..
The travelers are trying to catch up with their companions, using a so called storming technique, moving by regular buses at night and during the day, by hitchhiking..
This method instantly proved its efficiency. - These are the most frequent cars on the highway, they are the most high-speed, on which you can overtake all and travel much quicker..
Even giving a head start to the bus, you will end up ahead of it..
- Such a good driver. In Cordoba, the travelers have met Svetlana Shanina, who had been traveling for a week around Argentina..
The three of us continued together on the way to Puerto Iguazu. - Here we are already in the north, having overcome a few thousands of kilometers, from the most southern point of Argentina..
We are now in Iguazu. In Puerto Iguazu, Irina Shcheglova and Yulya Rybakova have joined the group..
- To our reunion! To our meeting in Iguazu!.
Iguazu is not a fall, but falls. There are several hundreds of them..
The best-known – the Throat of the Devil. The falls are included by UNESCO in the list of natural monuments of world heritage. And this undoubtedly is a wonder of the world!.
Come to visa-free Argentina and see for yourself..
- Super! Water, rainbow and air! In general everything is wonderful!.
Do you know how to dance a quadrille? The participants come nearer, then disperse, divide into couples, come together again and change places….
This is approximately what was happening to the travelers in Argentina. The paths of the participants were crossing in the most peculiar way..
While Herman and Sasha are going towards the water falls, the rest of the group is already leaving it. We met Oleg Semichev on our way out. - I just said that you will see in orange t-shirts. I have been here too. You said that you would be here at 11:30. But you were late..
- We said 11:30, approximately. We've been to the bank..
- Have you swam? - Yes, we are wet. - And I'm not. And already we dispersed in different directions. For some the travel comes to an end. Both Irina and Yulya go to Buenos Aires and from there, return to Russia..
Sasha Bogomolova is also leaving the expedition. She wandered for half a year together with Valery Shanin and Oleg Semichev, across Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and South America..
But urgent matters have called her home. So we believe that Sasha Bogomolova, will have a lot more fascinating travel ahead..
And Valery, Svetlana and Oleg, go to San Ignacio..
After noisy waterfalls it is especially pleasant to wander in silence on the ruins of the Jesuit Mission of San Ignacio..
And the park around the mission impressed us with gigantic spiders spinning huge spiderwebs..
From here, Svetlana Shanina departed to the airport of Buenos Aires and was almost late for the Moscow flight because of a bus delay..
- I'm desperately waiting for the bus to Buenos Aires. It is already an hour late. I want to believe that it won't leave without me and everything will be all right..
- Sveta was seen off. The bus was 1 hour and 10 minutes late. But we are hoping that it will arrive in time at the airport..
- We will still worry how her trip will go. And we are here in Misiones. We will think what to do next..
- The travel of the "World without visas" continues. But with a reduced team. Together with Oleg, we are going to cross all Southern and Central America..
The route of circumnavigation lies through Bolivia, but we still need to reach there. Through Salta, San Salvador and Humahuaka,.
Valery and Oleg persistently move towards the northwest..
- Nice girl..
Abra Pumpa and Bolivia, are not so distant..
The Bolivian visa can be obtained directly on the border. The bus station is also here, from where the travelers departed to Potosi..
There are many ancient grandiose buildings remaining in this very old and mountainous city..
Our travelers were lucky to get to Saint Candelaria's Festival, a true Bolivian provincial carnival!.
Vigorous orchestras, ladies in traditional hats, confetti, fancy costumes, procession and dances..
So perhaps the euphoria experienced by our travelers, was caused not so much by bright costumes and drum rhythms, but by the mountain atmosphere with a lack of oxygen….
Mountain illness is not a joke. So the travelers immediately decided to go further!.
The main sight in the Town of Uyuni – a cemetary of locomotives..
And the top entertainment – a jeep tour. The travelers couldn't resist the temptation and took a three-day trip around the vicinities of the largest salt lake in the world - the Uyuni Lake..
Salt reserves are about 10 billion tons here. Everything is made of salt, the roads, the reservoirs, the barkhans.
And even a whole salt hotel. Even the furniture, clocks and sculptures inside the hotel are made of salt..
The Peskado Island is in the center of a salt desert, completely covered… Not by salt. But by cactuses! It's an absolutely surrealistic picture!.
Of course salt does not affect the car engine in a good way. But while the driver is once again struggling with the died-out jeep, it is possible to observe a flamingo and lamas near by..
Or even to organize an international soccer match with Bolivian soldiers..
During these three days, the participants of the jeep tour got literally covered in salt and became good friends.
Very few people know that the highest statue of Jesus Christ is not in Rio de Janeiro, but in the Bolivian City of Cochabamba..
From the mountain top where it was established, the whole city is like on the palm of a hand..
The following city on Valery and Oleg's way is Copacabana, on the bank of the Titicaca Lake..
It is the highest lake in the world with regular navigation..
The main route of local vessels – Isla del Sol - the Island of the Sun..
Crossing the island by foot, there are no cars here, as though going back to the 19th century: the slow rhythm of typical rural life, peasants with mattocks, the loaded burros, herds of sheep..
The island is considered the cradle of Inca civilization and the main goal of course, is to see ancient ruins..
The Incas differed in their surprising ability to find extremely beautiful places for their settlements..
And even if archaeological antiquities are not impressing you, the landscape will bewitch you..
Maybe because the main criterion of Incas for choosing a place, was the desire to live closer to gods..
And they, seemingly, managed it ….
Having returned to Copacabana, Valery and Oleg are departing to Peru, on the most traditional and most convenient transport in South America – the bus..
Lima – one of the biggest and one of the most beautiful, but unfortunately, also one of the most criminal cities of Latin America..
It is the third time for Valery Shanin here, but he wouldn't like to stay here longer..
- Already for the third time in Lima. The third time on this square. And still, the feeling I get from Lima is that its a gangster city. When you film while walking, you are not paying attention at what you are filming, but at what is happening around you.