Monthly Archives: January 2012

Recovery report

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My partner in sick, Pete the cutiepie, sleeps like a brick. We’ve had fever and stomach evilness but now getting better. Lovely view with the Andes and a 1400something inca fortress… and as usual we hope to go to Machu Picchu tomorrow!
/sia

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Second Machu Picchu attempt failed due to landslide

This time we made it on to the train (a really cute train with only one wagon). However, about half way from Olllantaytambo to Machu Picchu the the train suddenly stopped due to another landslide ahead.

We had to wait a long time, so we killed the time by exploring the area around the train and the tracks, while gawking at the beautiful mountain cliffs towering over us, playing with a mule, and watching the occasional group of treckers pass by on the Inca Trail. I could think of worse places to be stuck for a couple of hours!

Unfortunately the landslide turned out to be really big – one person said the pile of rocks on the track was 10 meters long and 4 meters high! So the train finally turned around and went back to Ollantaytambo.

Although we are disappointed that we didn’t make it to Machu Picchu, we are happy that the landslide didn’t crush the train! And happy that we could get back to the hotel and weren’t stuck on the other side of the rocks. One of the locals told me that a previous year a bunch of people got stranded at Machu Picchu for several days due to a landslide, and those who were too old or young to hike out finally had to be airlifted.

Anyway, we’re back at our hotel room now. After some deliberation we’ve decided to make one last attempt at getting to Machu Picchu, the day after tomorrow. Hopefully Peru Rail will have cleared the tracks by then. And no more landslides please!

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Exploring the ruins and forts around Ollantaytambo, Peru

Here’s a quick update from Peru.

We are currently in Ollantaytambo, a small town located in the Sacred Valley, between Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Originally we planned to stay in Cuzco but decided in the last minute to live in Ollantaytambo instead, because it is lower height (less risk of altitude sickness) and closer to Machu Picchu (thus allowing a day trip).

It turned out to be a great choice. Ollantaytambo is such a beautiful town it would have been worth a visit on it’s own! This is one of the few towns retaining it’s original Inca houses, town structure, and water channeling system.

During the first few days here we’ve had a great time climbing around and exploring the impressive ruins from Inca forts and storehouses surrounding the town. A good warm-up for Machu Picchu. Walking around the older sections of the town feels like going back 500 years in time, with many of the original Inca streets, walls and doorways still intact and in use today!

During the evenings we’ve been reading “The Last Days of the Incas” and talking about the history of Peru. As we read about how the emperor Manco Inca defended himself against the conquistadors by hurling spears and boulders from a cliff-top fort, and how he re-routed a river to flood the Spaniards in the valley, we look out of our window and see that very fort, and look down from our balcony and see that very river! The next day we climb up and explore the fort, look down upon the old Inca town and discuss Spanish 16th century imperialiism. Can’t think of a more inspiring setting to learn history!

Today we were supposed to visit Machu Picchu, the secret mountain-top city that the Spaniards never found. But the trains were cancelled all day because of an avalanche, and train is the only way to get to Aguas Callientes, the town that provides access to Machu Picchu. So we will go tomorrow instead.

Wish us luck!

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Doing a seminar in Lima

Here’s a bunch of happy software folks at the University of Applied Science in Lima, getting ready to hear me talk about Lean from the Trenches (that was a link to the slides by the way, for those of you who attended).

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The talk was live-streamed on the web, so I figured it was only fair that I get to take a picture of the participants and put them online too :o)

While I was talking, Sia and the kids explored the university campus.

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Afterwards we all joined up with our Peruvian hosts and had a great dinner!

This is what I like combining the BigFamilyTrip with a bit of work
in each country. It gets us in touch with locals, instead of just hanging out with other travellers!

 

 

 

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Strange new gadget: Road Atlas

Sometimes, we found ourselves in a situation with no internet, and no map data on the iPad (because we had forgot to download it before driving). In those situations we resorted to this thing:

Atlas

It is a form of app, but it doesn’t run inside an iPad. Or, actually, it is more like a gadget of it’s own – but with only one app, that is preinstalled and can’t be updated. 

They call it a “Road Atlas”. 

The Road Atlas is a page-based app, so each page has one specific section of New Zealand on it, sometimes small-scale and sometimes large-scale. There is unfortunately no way to zoom in or out, and there is no search function, but it has an index and pretty well-designed table of contents. 

Flipping between pages is surprisingly fast, and has the roughly the same feel as when flipping between pages on the iPad, they’ve obviously pilfered the design from Apple. It also has a primitive bookmarking feature.

Unfortunately there was no charger included, and even if we had one we didn’t know where a charger would be plugged in to the atlas. Hate it when product designers hide essential things like that. We were worried about what to do when the batteries run out. Fortunately, that never happened. The atlas seems to have a very long battery life. We didn’t even find an off button. 

The atlas is surpringly sturdy. We’ve spilled drinks on it, dropped it on the floor, placed it in the sand, and it just keeps working. Wish all gadgets could be that robust! 

Another weird thing: 

The atlas is surprisingly sunshine-friendly. In direct sunlight the iPad screen is difficult to read, due to glare. But the atlas, on the contrary, becomes easier to read under strong sunlight, and harder to read in darkness! 

If only the atlas thing had a decent zoom and search function, a GPS, and some way to download other maps than just new zealand, it would be a killer app!

 

 

 

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How we found our way around New Zealand

So how did we find our way around during our 1 month motorhome trip in New Zealand?

We rented a “Kruze GPS travel guide“, which we thought would be our primary tool for finding our way around.

Kruze

But that turned out to be pretty much useless – mainly because it was reeeally slow, and because you couldn’t easily pan around or zoom in and out. It had some kind of commentary function, where suddenly a voice would start droning on about the history of whatever town we were driving through. We thought that would be fun, but it was really boring, and there was no way to turn that off without turning off all sound (including the more useful driving instructions). An expensive piece of junk.

So we packed that away after a day or so, and ended up using the iPad for the rest of the trip. That was really great! In fact, this is the first time we’ve really made use of the ipad, that is for more than just watching movies and playing games and facebooking and other entertainment-ish stuff. 

In fact, we had the iPad out pretty much all the time while driving around. Our three essential apps were Maps, Rankers, and TripAdvisor.

Maps

Maps (the default one that is on all IOS devices) is a simple but astonishingly well-designed app. 

We used it to find out where we are, to find possible routes from A to B, to find gas stations and supermarkets (just type “gasoline” or “supermarket” in the search field), and to find local points of interest. We used map bookmarks to store the location of everything relevant – the friend we’re going to visit, the route we’re going to hike, the campsite we’re going to stay at, etc. 

Of course, Maps is an online app – it downloads everything from the Internet. 

So one of the first things we did in New Zealand was buy a Vodafone Pocket Wifi with a prepaid 3G simcard.

Wifi

Using that we could get all of our gadgets online while on the road. The 3G coverage was surprisingly good, except for some of the less inhabited areas on South Island (as expected). Really convenient little gadget, highly recommended! There are lots of other ways of getting 3G broadband access, but we did some research and found that Vodafone’s prepaid 2 Gb simcard was by far the cheapest. The fixed traffic quota of 2 Gb bothered us at first, until we noticed that 2 Gb actually lasted *a lot* longer than we expected when just doing usual surfing and emailing and map downloading. It turned out that just about all forms of wifi and 3G internet access options in New Zealand have data quotas attached, so we just had to get used to being a bit more careful about doing big downloads & uploads.

Anyway, back to the Maps app.

The Maps app on the iPad is surprisingly offline-friendly, since it keeps a huge cache. Whenever we were about to enter an area with shaky or uncertain 3G coverage, we just opened the map app and scrolled around in the area that we were planning to visit, causing the app to download all the map data locally. That way it would stay available even when we went offline.

What about figuring out where to stay for the night?

We used Rankers for that.

Rankers

Rankers is a slightly clunky but highly useful app that shows a map with icons for various types of campsites – from free & simple to expensive & luxurious. It also includes contact info and, most importantly, ratings and reviews from other travellers. Kind of like the TripAdvisor app (see below) but geared specifically towards motorhome campers. Not quite as offline-friendly as the Maps app, but definitely the best way to find out whereto sleep. 

And finally, we used TripAdvisor to find out about stuff to do. 

Tripadvisor

The ratings and reviews were especially useful. For example while driving we might see a sign to some attraction, or while visiting a tourist center we might pick up some glossy brochures. Using TripAdvisor we could quickly figure out which things are actually worth doing, such as the Base Camp rock climbing center in Wanaka.

One of the essential gadgets we brought along was a car USB charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter thingie on the car and lets you charge anything that can be charged via USB. So we never had to worry about the iPad running out of batteries while driving.

Charger

Anyway, to make a long story short:

If you plan to do a motorhome tour in New Zealand:

  • Bring an iPad and download Rankers and TripAdvisor (Maps is already on there). Actually, an iPhone would probably be OK too.
  • Buy a Vodofone Pocket Wifi thingie + a prepaid 3G simcard

Oh, and:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Frågor om Nya zeeland

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Nya Zèeland ligger precis på andra sidan Jorden från Sverige.

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Såhär ser flaggan ut.

I Nya Zèeland bor det 4,367,800 människor. Det är mycket mindre än i Sverige.

Nya Zèelands huvud stad hèter Wellington. I Wellington bor det 393,400 människor.  Jag bor i en husbil och där bor det 6 människor.

Språket hèter Engelska.

Where is the toilet betyder: Vart är toaletten!

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$ Dehär tecknet kallas för Dollar. En $ är lika mycket som 5 kr

En läsk eller en kokakola och lite såntdär kostar 2$.

Här i nya zeeland har dom jättemånga kolamaskiner!  

 

_David

 

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Apropå NZ och middle earth

Bloggvärdig formulering från Sia:

“… hela North Island ser ut som the Shire, och South Island dignar av Isengardar, Rivendellar, Rohanvyer och Misty Mountains! Man blir ju nästan trött i ögonen. Och då kommer jag ändå från Dalarna (som ä dä vackraste stället i världen, öm man frågar de söm bor dännä ;)”

 

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Lake Wanaka

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Here’s a nice view of Lake Wanaka. Thanks everyone who recommended Wanaka!

Really glad we bought those bikes, great way to explore the surroundings (and get some exercise). BTW if you know anyone in Christchuch who needs a few bikes let us know. We are leaving New Zealand on Monday and need to get rid of the bikes.

The red mountain bike in the photo is a Malvern Star Vendetta. We bought it new just a few weeks ago, and hope to sell it.

We also have a scooter and 2 used kid bikes of more junkyard-ish quality, but they work. We’d be happy to give those away.

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Mt Cook – what an incredibly beautiful mountain!

While driving from Wanaka toward Christchurch we found a campground at the southern tip of Lake Pukaki with an absolutely breathtaking view of Mt Cook! The photos taken with my simple camera don’t really do justice to the awesomeness of this view. We slept over there and spent the next morning playing on the rocky beach of the lake.

We would have stayed longer if the pollen hadn’t forced us to bail out. Both me & David have hay fever. We haven’t had any problems with this so far during the whole trip, but this area (and all the way to Christchurch) has been terrible. Now we’ve stocked up on some medicines, wish we’d done so earlier though.

Sandflies on one coast, pollen on the other – the things you have to put up with for a great view! Definitely worth it though :o)

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