Tag Archive for: curiosities

Sri Lanka was the place that conquered my heart. Already before we went to this country I felt a special excitement that I haven’t had before for any other new place. After our 6 weeks in the country I understood what triggered the need to explore this small island.

Sri Lanka offers a bit of everything: crowded cities, delicious food, incredibly nice people, never-ending tea plantations, stunning beaches, misty hills and mountain areas, strong traditions, countless cultural experiences and, on top of all, a welcoming atmosphere.

Our 6 weeks were quite intense. We discovered a lot and still haven’t seen it all. “The Tear of India” (because of its shape and location) as it is sometimes called, is home to more than 21 million people, who are the ones that make their country so amazing.

Fact #1 The People of Sri Lanka

We understood that Sri Lanka faced hard times due to the civil war that lasted until present days (May 2009), as well as the fact that they have strongly been marked in the past by the foreign occupation which turned them in a colony. However, we only met nice, friendly, warm and honest (I guess a little lie for the business is tolerated) people and were touched by each individual story we listened to.



The state’s biggest ethnic group is the Sinhalese, followed by the Sri Lankan Tamils (around 11%), therefore the country has two official languages: Sinhala and Tamil. You will find most indications and signs written also in English, that is spoken very well among most locals.

Sri Lanka is the country that had the first female prime minister in 1960.

Fact #2 Bread Car

The song „Für Elise“ von Ludwig van Beethoven got a different meaning for us in Sri Lanka. The song was played by the cars that delivered the bread. We used to consider it a nice song, but after hearing the song all day long at high volume we got a bit annoyed by it, mostly after being woken up several times by it.


Fact #3 No alcohol during the full moon

This was something we never experienced before in other Buddhist countries. During full moon, you are not allowed to drink alcohol and you can also not buy it, at least in local liquor stores (you can not find alcohol in regular supermarkets).

The Poya Day is the day of the Buddhist full moon, in honor of the moon being at its fullest point. Depending on the moon calendar it occurs once a month and on that day also shops, banks etc. might close.

Fact #4 Food in Sri Lanka

We ate a lot and always good food in Sri Lanka. There are a lot of little street food restaurants that serve rice and curry or other delicious things, mostly quite heavy but always good. We found out that certain things, like string hoppers, are mainly served for breakfast and therefore only available in the morning. Instead, Rotis are usually served during the evening.



Some things and habits we found very strange while being in Sri Lanka. For example, they do consider Avocado as a sweet dish and serve it with honey or sugar and tea and coffee. It is always served after breakfast, so if you want to have your coffee together with the breakfast you will most probably have to ask for it. It was like this in all the families we stayed with, but we cannot say for sure if the rule applies also for hotels, as we did not stay in any.

Fact #5 Lotteries

What we immediately realized, almost everywhere, at any time, you can find kiosks or locals on the streets selling lottery cards to people to try their luck and win some money.


Fact #6 National Sport of Sri Lanka

What do you think is the national sport in Sri Lanka? Cricket came immediately in my mind when I was asked this question, but I was wrong. Even if cricket is the most played sport in Sri Lanka, volleyball is the official national sport announced by the ministry of sports in the country.

Did you know about all these facts before? There is so much more to say about this little country but I believe that the most incredible thing is its big variety of landscapes. Check out our gallery for more pictures from Sri Lanka.

Indonesia is a country that surprised us in many ways. I thought I knew how Indonesia was, as I have been in Bali years before, but Bali is very different from the other places we visited.

Indonesia is the 4th biggest country in the world with regards to its people, so it is easy to imagine how much variety it has to offer. We summarized 5 curious facts about Indonesia.

Fact #1 Photographs

In Indonesia, we definitely took more pictures than in other countries, but not with our camera. Many of the locals wanted to have a picture taken with us, much more than in China or in India, which sometimes felt quite funny. Once we’ve been stopped by the police as they wanted a selfie with us. You might think they are so crazy for pictures because they do not see tourists or „white“ people very often, but no no no, they ask tourists for pictures in order to get more likes on Social Media. But while most people asked nicely for a picture, many times pictures of us were taken in a sneaky or pushy way what we did not like. We do not take pictures of other people either without asking them.

Fact #2 Islands

To discover Indonesia takes a lot of time, as the country is the one with the most islands in the world. In total, the country counts more than 18.000 islands and more than 900 of them are inhabited. The biggest ones are Borneo, Papua/New Guinea and Sumatra. The capital Jakarta is located on the island of Java, the most populous island in the world.

Fact #3 Big bigger Indonesia

Indonesia’s biggest Islands are also some of the biggest ones in the world. And not just the islands are big, but also one of the biggest stadiums (Gelora Bung Karno Stadium) in Asia is located in Indonesia. Lake Toba in Sumatra is the biggest volcanic lake in the world and Jakarta is the biggest city in South East Asia and the second biggest conurbation city in the world. Borobudur temple in Central Java is the largest Buddhist temple in the world with more than 500 Buddha statues. Indonesia is also home to the biggest Muslim community in the world. Also, the biggest flower and the biggest snake are found in this country.


Fact #4 Volcanoes

The volcanoes are a magnificent part of the country and of the well-known “ring of fire”, which stretches along the Pacific Ocean’s coast and sum up more than 60% of the active volcanoes in the world. In total, Indonesia counts around 150 active volcanoes.


Fact #5 Durian

Indonesia was the country where we had our first encounter with the Durian fruit. The fruit looks similar to the Jack fruit but has a terrible smell, similar to sulfur. It smells so bad, that in trains and hotels it is forbidden to eat it. I tried it and I cannot say I liked it. However, there are some people that like it very much and I guess it is depending also on the fruit itself if it is ripe enough or not.


Image by truthseeker08 from Pixabay

See more pictures from Indonesia here.

In total, we spent 28 days in Malaysia and we have visited Kuala Lumpur, Borneo (Kuching), Penang (Georgetown) and Langkawi. Our main purpose was to do a „little travel break“, meaning that we wanted to use some time for ourselves, travel slower and take time to understand what we have already experienced during our world tour till that point. This little break felt great, especially in Kuching where we could enjoy moments of a „normal life“.

What we understood in these 4 weeks in the country is that there is too much to discover and therefore we will definitely need to come back. Here are some of the facts that we learned about Malaysia:

Fact #1 Diversity

In Malaysia, you can find a great diversity of landscapes: beaches, jungle, big city life, small city life, islands, mountains and hills etc. Even if we stayed for a short time we got to experience a bit of everything. We got to know the variety of food on the island of Penang and in Borneo, we explored the jungle wildlife of Bako National Park, we enjoyed some time at the beach and hiking in Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur impressed us with big skyscrapers and well organized public transportation – Malaysia really offers everything.

Fact #2 Religion and ethnic groups

It is not only the way nature defines the diverse landscapes, but also the cities are shaped by their population described as a diversity of nationalities with different cultures and beliefs. In Malaysia, you will find many different ethnic groups. The Malays are the biggest community, practicing Malay culture and customs and following Islam. Also, their language (Malay) is the national language of the country. The second-largest group is the Malaysian Chinese (23%) followed by the Indian community that, with 2 million people (7%), is the smallest of the three main ethnic groups.

English is spoken all over the country as Malaysia has been under the British Empire till 31.August 1957. That day was declared as Independence Day and public holiday (Hari Merdeka).


Fact #3 Palm oil

The next fact is a critical one, but we think it is important to be spoken about. Malaysia is after Indonesia the second largest producer of palm oil. Palm oil comes originally from West Africa, but nowadays 80% is produced in Indonesia and Malaysia, which means around 60 million tons of oil per year. The problem with the cheap oil is that is used in many different industries (auto, food, cosmetics, etc.) and the request is permanently increasing, therefore more and more rain forest is burned down, which creates an extremely dangerous threat leading to the extinction of orangutans and other animals.

Fact #4 Petronas Towers

The most known symbol of Malaysia are definitely the Petronas twin towers in Kuala Lumpur. They are the tallest twin towers in the world, and from 1998 to 2004 they were the highest building in the world. With 451.9m high they also feature the highest 2 store bridge in the world in the 41st and 42nd floor.


Fact #5 Modern country Malaysia

We must say that Malaysia has a similar culture and natural environment to the one in Indonesia, but it is much more modern than we thought at the beginning. Not only in Kuala Lumpur, but also in other cities you can find a very good infrastructure and transportation methods, modern buildings, commercial centers and malls.

There is so much more to say about Malaysia and we really hope that soon we will get another chance to not only visiting Kuala Lumpur while changing flights but also have another longer stop in this modern country.

Our 3 weeks journey in Nepal was mainly dedicated to our Workaway project in Kathmandu Valley, so we did not really get to know the country close enough to become aware of many facts and habits. However, there is a lot to say about this incredible country and its amazing people.

Nepal is one of our top destinations to travel for culture, food and the spirit of the people. We really enjoyed our time there. Our special highlights were the stay at the family’s house of the Sunrise Farm and the visit to Chitwan National Park.

Here we listed some curious facts about Nepal.

Fact #1 Streets

We left Tibet, where new modern streets were built, and after reached Nepal, where we had the feeling that proper streets do not exist. What we could call „streets“ were usually roads that turned into mud puddles as soon as it started to rain a bit. Due to the fact that the conditions of the roads is so bad, it can take up to 10 hours for driving just 100 km. No joke! Several times it took us more than 10 hours to reach destinations that were maximum 200 km far.

Not only the streets were responsible for these delays, but also the traffic didn’t help. Sometimes there were strikes or construction work going on, therefore it happened that for several hours streets were closed without any prior notice. So you better don’t plan any flight the same day you are traveling to the airport on these roads.


Fact #2 The Flag of Nepal

Do you know how the flag of Nepal looks like? It consists basically of two triangles placed on top of each other. Nepal is the only country in the world that has this kind of shape which symbolizes the peaks of the Himalayas. The colors are red and blue with the star and half-moon symbols on one half and a sun in the other one. The red is the national color and the blue represents peace.


Fact #3 Mountains

The small country of Nepal, covering a bit less than 150.000 km², is home to 8 of the 10 highest mountains in the world including the highest mountain, Mount Everest. The beautiful landscapes of Nepal are absolutely marked by these massive mountains. Here is a list of all of them:

  • Mt. Everest – 8.848 m
  • Kangchendzönga – 8.586 m
  • Lhotse – 8.516 m
  • Makalu – 8.485 m
  • Cho Oyu – 8.188 m
  • Dhaulagiri – 8.167 m
  • Manaslu – 8.163 m
  • Annapurna – 8.091 m

Photo by Ananya Bilimale on Unsplash

Fact #4 The scooters

Like in many Asian countries the streets of Nepal are full of scooters. Crazy scooters. What is very interesting to see and shocking at the same time is that only the person that drives the scooter is obliged to wear a helmet. But on the same scooter, you can see also children or women without a helmet, as it is usually the man who’s driving.


Fact #5 The time zone

The time zone of Nepal is UTC +5:45 and it is the only one in that zone. In total, there are only 3 areas with an offset of +45min. (Chatham Island UTC +12.45 and the unofficial Australian Central Western Time UTC +08.45).

Did you learn something new from our list of facts? Pictures of Nepal you find here.

When speaking of curious things in China, the first question that comes into my mind is: What is not curious about China? It is one of the largest and most diverse countries in the world.
During our one month in the People’s Republic of China we have seen so much of this beautiful country and experienced so many particular things, but we’ve been also quite surprised by some. Here you will find a list with them.

Fact # 1 Music everywhere

One thing we immediately noticed was that the Chinese like to listen to loud music. No matter where and whether someone feels disturbed by it. For example, during our hike in Zhangjiajie National Park we met several groups, that listened to loud music with their mobile phones. Generally speaking, it is not a big deal, but when you are out in nature and the volume of loud music is covering the chirping of the birds, it is a bit annoying. In trains or in the metro, as well as in many other public places, you might get the feeling that headphones have not been yet discovered in China. Also on long-distance trains, shortly before the train arrives at the destination, loud music will make sure that everyone is awake.
However, it was nice to see that in parks, during the evening, dances or sports exercises were being organized, accompanied by music, and everyone could join.


In China, you also find this kind of karaoke cabins.

Fact # 2 People

Another curious thing in China is the people. Before our trip, we have often heard that the Chinese are rude or that they would misbehave. We can not confirm that. For example, shortly after our arrival, a nice man helped us to find our hotel. He even escorted us to our hotel and assisted us during check-in without accepting any favor in return. And from that day we constantly met nice and helpful people.

Yes, some Chinese do spit, burp and fart, but that’s normal for them and just because we consider it as rude and disgusting, it does not mean that the Chinese do so as well. In the beginning, the hustle and pushing in crowded places bothered us a bit, but we learned quickly that it is often the only possibility to move around. It happened not only once that we missed the Metro because we waited politely until everyone got off the train, but weren’t offered a chance to enter due to the crowds. Travelers in China should be aware that there are different manners and the faster you accept them, the faster you can enjoy the beautiful things.

Fact # 3 Food

Chinese restaurants, which we know in the Western world are different compared to the restaurants in China itself. Despite the different and complicated to understand the alphabet, it is very easy to order food, as the menu usually comes with photos. We ate very often at small local street food restaurants. Here you can choose the ingredients without having to worry about things that you do not want to eat. We usually ate vegetarian food, because we couldn’t always be sure whether the chicken was really chicken or if it used to bark before landing on a plate… you probably know what we mean.

Fact # 4 Language

In China, there are approximately 300 different languages and dialects. The most spoken is Mandarin (70%) followed by Wu, Yue, Min, Jin etc. English is very rarely spoken. Therefore, it is absolutely advisable to use an offline translator (keep in mind that Google apps are blocked in China).

Fact # 5 Payment

Payments in China are done mainly with mobile phones. The online payment system Alipay allows the Chinese people to pay in restaurants, shops and for tickets. Even donations to beggars can be done with Alipay. As a tourist, it is wise to have enough cash as foreign credit cards are mostly not accepted for payments. On the other hand, ATMs are widely available, making it easy to withdraw money when needed.

Fact # 6 Time zones

The People’s Republic of China has a population of about 1,4 billion. It is the country with the highest number of inhabitants and the fourth largest by area, almost as large as Europe. But here comes the interesting fact, there is only a one-time zone. Very practical, don’t you think?
China has the time zone UTC +8, which is the zone in which the capital Beijing lies. Actually, China extends over 5 zones, but since 1949, there is only one time. This rule was established by the Communist party at the end of the civil war. The largest time difference to other countries is at the border with Afghanistan, with 3.5 hours difference.

Fact # 7 Be ready to become a photo model

It is certainly nothing new that the Chinese love taking pictures everywhere. However, it was new for us that we had to be in these photos. We were asked many times if we could pose for a selfie with them. What we found disturbing was that many photos of us were taking secretly, which is typical for China, so you better be prepared to accept it.


Fact # 8 Scams

In large cities like Shanghai or Beijing, we saw a lot of information about scammers. Unfortunately, there are not only nice people in China, but, luckily we weren’t victims of any of these scams, but we find it still important to let you know about it.
The most popular is when tourists are being approached by very friendly, well-looking, English-speaking Chinese and offered free sightseeing or guided tours. After an invitation to a restaurant or tea house will follow. One of these persons will order for everyone without showing the menu to the tourists. You might think a tea does not cost a fortune, but as soon as the bill is presented, tourists might get the shock of their lives. The bill will probably have an amount of several hundred euro and the tourist will be forced to pay that.

Fact # 9 Attention, special content !!!

Have you ever seen the signs in toilets showing a person sitting with the feet on the toilet seat? This is partly indicated for Chinese. It is because in this country, there are almost exclusively squat toilets, partially not even with a door, but with small view protection, that offers zero privacy. It is not only in China like this, but here we found Western toilets to be extremely rare. I personally do not consider it a bad thing, since it is more hygienic. Still, I have to say that China is not the cleanest country that we have traveled in.

It is very surprising how this topic is handled. Some Children, for example, wear pants with slots, so that, when nature calls, they can always and everywhere do their needs. Parents will not bother bringing them behind a bush or a special place. No, sometimes they would even stop right in the middle of the street leave their little “human traces” behind.
An important thing to mention is that there is no toilet paper in most of the toilets, sometimes not even in the hostel or hotel, so make sure you always carry some with you.

The list of unusual things could be longer, but these were the ones that we witnessed. Probably exactly these things and experiences made our stay as memorable and unique as it was.

Have you ever been to China? If yes, how would you describe your experience? Leave a comment or send us a message, we are very excited to hear what you have to tell.

Do you want to see more photos of China? Click here.

Japan, land of the rising sun. In this incredible country, we spent 1 month and sometimes we were really surprised how the world runs over there. We have summarized a few interesting facts. Some things are probably new for you too.

Fact #1

The first thing we noticed at the airport was the Japanese toilets. In Japan, the hygiene aspect is very high, therefore you can always find clean toilets.


The toilets are not only clean, but they also make you “clean”. Most toilet seats have a bidet with various functions and integrated seat heating, which can be controlled via an operating system. Often you will also find a sink above the water cistern.

These systems are Eco-friendly and the water used to wash your hands will be used in the next rinse. These toilets are “Western-style” toilets. There are also the “Japanese style” WCs, which have only a hole in the floor, but they are still clean and always with the instruction to throw the toilet paper in the toilet and not in the bin.

In addition, there is often a “rinse-sound” button, which should provide more privacy. When leaving public toilets, space remains environmental friendly: there is always only cold water for washing your hands, sometimes soap, but never dry towels, from time to time you will find a hand dryer.

Fact #2

Japan, land of technology and progress ?! Not, when it comes to payments. In Japan, mostly everything is paid in cash,  often there is not even the option to pay by credit card. So while in Japan, make sure you always have enough cash and change with you, as in some buses, for example, drivers can not change. But finding an ATM is not difficult. Most convenience stores (Seven Eleven or Lawson) have an ATM. Moreover, Japan is very safe, so with a lot of cash in your purse, it is not very dangerous. But please do not lose the purse.

Fact #3

The third fact remains technical. The train system in Japan is enormous. You can reach everything by train and Japanese trains are hardly late. Japan has the fastest and most modern trains, so-called Bullettrains, but these are not cheap. As a foreign visitor, you can buy a Rail Pass,  which you can use to get cheap train rides. But you should first calculate whether it is worth doing so. In our case it would have been more expensive. We often took buses that took a long time but were a lot cheaper. Bus connections can be found, for example, at japanbuslines.com, hyperdia.com, willerexpress.com, kosokubus.com (under the last page we always found our connections).



Within the cities, we have always been traveling with Metro or JR Line. The train system deserves its own article and we have summarized everything for you. You can find the link here.

Fact #4

Japanese are incredibly polite people. So many times people asked to assist or to help us when we were in need. Many Japanese speak English, but even if they do not, they have done everything they could to help or to guide us. Right on our first evening we were invited by strangers to eat with them (here you can find the article about it) and we only have met nice people. We also learned that hardly any critic is expressed in Japan.

Japanese also know how to line up. Very often you can see long queues in front of restaurants or cafes. This does not necessarily mean there is something special going on, it can be that the restaurant is just full. But the Japanese line up without complaining and they will wait patiently for their call.


Fact #5

“Everything is cute in Japan”. No matter where you look, you will be bombarded by bears, kitties or other “cute” creatures. Advertising, clothing, handbags, mobile phone cases, warnings, food, packaging and much more can be found in bright colors or with some imprints. We even saw a Hello Kitty fire extinguisher.

Fact #6

A special feature in Japanese houses is the tatami. It is a mat made of rice straw, usually used in the sleeping area or in the dining room. These traditional rooms are called Washitsu. I personally like this style very much. It is important to never walk with shoes on a tatami floor because it is very sensitive. Generally, it is very inappropriate to enter a house with shoes and this also applies to some restaurants. When you sleep on these tatami floors, a kind of mattress is rolled out, the so-called futons (the Japanese word for blanket) to provide a comfortable bed. At first we were skeptical, but we slept very well in the hostels with tatami beds and also at our host’s place during our Workaway project where we found the same setup.


Fact #7

This curiosity is about a very serious topic. Japan is hit by more than 400 earthquakes every year. You can find many escape routes leading to a safe zone. Just in the month when we were in Japan, there were 35 earthquakes. We did have the feeling that the earth would shake, but we were never really sure.


Fakt #8

In some areas, especially in the countryside, you can find bottles of water in the corners of many houses, garden entrances or around plants. At first, we thought that maybe the water was being delivered here or is provided for dogs, but after some research we realized we were wrong. These bottles serve as a deterrent to animals. Especially against cats or dogs, the light reflection of the water shall fear them away in order to not urinate on the plants or house walls.

Fact #9

The last fact is probably the oddest thing. Our host Rio told us during our Workaway project that Christmas is usually celebrated with the girlfriend or boyfriend. There is no big party and gifts are rarely being given, not even to kids. The food served for Christmas comes from KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken). Yes, you read it right, it’s so typical that you even have to make reservations at the fast-food chain to get your fried chicken on Christmas Eve.

Do you want to see some pictures from our journey in Japan? Click here.

The Russian Federation is the largest country in the world by area. The 17,125,200 square kilometers wide country is home to more than 144 million people. During our 14-days trip through Russia we have learned many curious facts about this country. 

Fact #1

We took the train from the capital Moscow to Irkutsk, a city close to the famous Baikal Lake. While taking this train we went along the longest railway line in the world. The Trans-Siberian Railway connects Moscow with the other end of the country (Vladivostok) since 1916. The line consists of 9,289 km that is equal to 5,772 miles. There are several other branch lines leading towards Mongolia, China or South Korea. The Railway is not only used to carry passengers, as well as around 200,000 containers per year are brought towards Europe.
It passes a total of 8 time zones, which brings us to fact number two. 



Fact #2

Russia has 11 time zones and is the only one that has 10 of them in one landmass. The zones stretch from UTC +2 to UTC +12. Since 2011 there is no more Daylight Saving Time. Imagine New Year’s Eve there ?. 


Fact #3

Russians are well known for their feeling for fashion. Especially young and elderly women can be found even in extreme winter conditions well dressed and with perfect makeup on.  One thing we were wondering still, how can you wear a short dress or skirt when it is so cold? Really ladies, how do you manage that? Maybe the aspect of fashion is more important than we thought. The next fact is about men fashion.


Fact #4

Already during the first days I was wondering why most of the men were wearing their traditional hat above their ears, instead of using it to keep them warm. So I made some researches. This, especially in winter worn hat is called Ushanka and leads from the Russian word “Ushi”, that means ears. It is said that the ear flaps are worn to crown the hat and they are only pulled down when it gets colder than -20 degrees. And indeed we have seen many men wearing their Ushanka with the flaps ahead, an interesting tradition carried out by young and elderly men.  



Fact #5

Omul, the specialty from Baikal Lake. The Baikal Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the world, by the volume, and the world deepest lake. This area is home to the Omul Fish. It is part of the salmon family and traditionally served with pepper, salt and onion in all kinds of ways: cooked, grilled, dried in form of a soup or a salad.
We stay in the culinary corner with the next fact.  



Fact #6

In Russia and even outside of Russia you will always find them drinking Tea. Next to Vodka the tea plays an important role. The tea culture in Russia is not only about the drink, but it’s also an essential piece of social life. Usually, black tea is served. In small supermarkets you can find most of the time only black or green tea. Other kinds of tea exist in pharmacies or big supermarket chains.  


Fact #7

One thing Russia is very proud of is the world-famous Metro line in Moscow. I personally haven’t seen anywhere else such charming Metro stations. It’s not only known for its beauty but also plays an important role in the daily life of many inhabitants of Moscow. It connects 12 lines with 207 stations.  


Fact #8

The next curious fact is about transportation as well. We have seen several cars with the steering wheel on the right side. First we thought only the older cars have it but with a deeper look you can find almost the equal amount of cars with the steering wheel on the right and the left side, older and newer cars. Especially the more east you come the more you find them. The simple explanation is that many cars are imported from Japan and there they drive on the left side of the street.  



Fact #9

Everything is translated into Russian. And everyone that has ever seen a Russian word knows that they are using a completely different alphabet. This is also the reason why sometimes it was very difficult to orientate ourselves, as even names were translated and due to the different alphabet it’s not even possible to find a connection between words. In some areas as airports or some train stations you could find some English words. What I found weird is that even the names of big brands like McDonalds or BurgerKing were translated. But don’t worry, this should not be a reason not to travel to Russia as we found everywhere some friendly people in case we needed help. And if you want to communicate there is always a way!  



 Would you like to see more pictures of Russia? Click here.