Dietmar Temps, photography - Blog http://dietmartemps.com Dietmar Temps, photography - RSS en Dietmar Temps, photography - Blog The remote villages of the Mursi tribe, Ethiopia http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-remote-villages-of-the-mursi-tribe-ethiopia_639/ Dietmar Temps The Mursi are seminomadic pastoralist located on the eastern side of the Omo River near the Mago National Park in South Ethiopia. Sadly, the Mursi have a bad reputation among travelers and tourists. On the one hand for many visitors the Mursi tribe is one of the main attractions in Southern Ethiopia, especially the women with the huge lip plates. But often tourists are disappointed when they meet the Mursi people on a typical day trip because of their sometimes aggressive behavior. I experienced it myself being part of a group on a day trip to the Mursi in 2008. At that time I was wondering, if it would be possible to stay a couple of weeks in a remote Mursi village to witness the authentic and real life of the Mursi tribe. Over the last 2 years I spent 6 weeks in Suri villages and more than 3 weeks in remote Mursi villages, and I confidently can say: The Mursi as well as their related Suri neighbors are not only fascinating, they are also absolutely likeable, friendly and open-hearted.

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There is a lot to learn about the Mursi, starting with the language, which is fortunately almost identical to the language of the Suri tribe on the western side of the Omo River. They are eager to teach the Mursi language to their visitors, but they are also happy to learn a few words English. On the website Mursi Online even a dictionary exists in Mursi-Amharic-English which is quite helpful for the communication. The dictionary was published by David Turton, Moges Yigezu and Olisarali Olibui in cooperation with the Culture and Art Society of Ethiopia in 2008.

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10/05/2014 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-remote-villages-of-the-mursi-tribe-ethiopia_639/
The Akha hill tribe people in Laos http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-akha-hill-tribe-people-in-laos_629/ Dietmar Temps The Akha people of Laos are an indigenous hill tribe who live mainly in the mountains of the province Phongsaly. The ethnical group of the Akha people originally settled in the Kuaichao and Yunan province of China, from there they moved also to Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. The population of the Akha in southwest China, eastern Myanmar, western Laos, northwestern Vietnam and northern Thailand is estimated about roughly 400,000 people. In all these countries the Akha people are an ethnic minority.

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The best way to visit the Akha hill tribe people of Laos is doing a several days trek to the villages in the mountains. One possibility is to start the trek in Phongsaly. A guide is mandatory for the trek, because the Akha people don't speak English, and the accommodation or the food could be a huge problem without guide. Guided tours are offered in Phongsaly from the tourist office or a small local tour operator. There are not many tourists in Phongsaly, but it isn't a problem to find a guide, or if needed, other foreigners to join the guided trek.

The other possibility is to go by bus to Boun Tai and start a 3- or 4-days trek from there to Akha Loma, Akha Mouchi (Mochi) and Akha Eupa (Eurpa) people. Boun Tai is a small town on the way from Oudomxay to Phongsaly. The trek from Boun Tai is lesser known than the treks around Phongsaly and it starts by a songthaew to reach the first Akha Mouchi village. From there a hiking trail, sometimes pretty steep, leads from village to village and ends at the main road, where it is possible to catch a bus either back to Phongsaly or to Oudomxay.

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07/10/2014 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-akha-hill-tribe-people-in-laos_629/
Novice for one week: Novice hood initiation in Bagan, Myanmar http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/novice-for-one-week-novice-hood-initiation-in-bagan-myanmar_612/ Dietmar Temps For a boy in Myanmar it is customary to enter a monastery between the age 10 and 20 as a Buddhist novice for at least one week. Sometimes the boys are even younger, and in rare cases they are only 5 or 6 years old. For Burmese people, the novice hood initiation is a very important ceremony and a big event as a family. The novitiation ceremony is called "Shinbyu" in Burmese language. Shinbyu ceremonies are held throughout the whole country, in villages as well as in big cities. Often families send their sons at the same time to the monastery and celebrate the Shinbyu ceremony together. Celebrating together saves costs, because the event with music and traditional dresses is expensive. But it is also a wonderful opportunity for the families to organize a procession through the village as a kind of village festival.

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Money doesn't matter for a Buddhist monastery, so they take every boy, regardless of the wealth of the parents. Poor boys or orphans are also welcome to join the monastery for one week. But there is a difference. Although the Shinbyu is without doubt a religious Buddhist ceremony, it is not organized from the monasteries. Of course the monks support the Shinbyu, and they open the monasteries for the families to come and pray. But the ceremony itself is more a secular event, with loud music, a procession on horses through the village, a lot of food, many flowers, wonderful clothes and a big colorful ceremony tent, where the celebration, the dinner and many speeches take place. Sometimes rich families or families who are not blessed with a male child support poor families who cannot afford the ceremony. The boys of the supported families and also orphans are invited to join the ceremony as well.

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06/13/2014 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/novice-for-one-week-novice-hood-initiation-in-bagan-myanmar_612/
Muay Lao: the Kick Boxing Scene in Vientiane, Laos http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/muay-lao-the-kick-boxing-scene-in-vientiane-laos_582/ Dietmar Temps Ask a European about Asian kick boxing, he for sure will answer: "yes, Thai boxing!". Ask Thai people about kick boxing, you most likely get the answer: "Of course, it's Muay Thai, we invented it, and we are the best!". But Laos’s people will probably explain, that "Muay is a Southeast Asian traditional martial arts with its roots in Cambodia, the Thai people call it Muay Thai, and here in Laos the name is Muay Lao." 

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In Southeast Asian sport events the term "Muay" often acts as an umbrella for all traditional kick boxing styles mainly from the Indochinese countries like Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The word "Muay" comes from the Sanskrit term mavya and means "boxing". Unarmed martial arts have always been a constant part of Southeast Asia since ancient times. Evidence shows that a style similar to kick boxing was practiced by the Khmers in the Angkor era. Since the kingdom of Angkor at that time dominated and controlled most parts of Indochina, it is highly probable that Muay started with the early Khmer people. In this context the often used label for Muay Laos as "the little brother of Thai Kickboxing" seems to be wrong, but there are also historians who claim that Muay Lao originated in Northern Thailand.

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07/10/2014 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/muay-lao-the-kick-boxing-scene-in-vientiane-laos_582/
The nomad people in Changtang, Ladakh http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-nomad-people-in-changtang-ladakh_569/ Dietmar Temps The region of Changtang is a high altitude plateau (average elevation 4500 meters) mainly located in western and northern Tibet, but a small part of Changtang crosses also the border into Ladakh. Changtang in Ladakh is the home of the Changpa nomads, a semi-nomadic Tibetan ethnic group. The Changpa speak a dialect of Tibetan and practice Tibetan Buddhism. There are also more than 7000 Tibetan refugees residing in the region whose settlements are scattered across the plateau.

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The vast majority of Changtang is uninhabited and inhospitable for farming. The nomads are pastoralists and raising mainly yaks and goats. Pashmina goats grow a thick, warm fleece and they are able to survive the harsh winter in the region, where the temperatures plunge to as low as -35 °C. These goats provide the wool for Kashmir's famous Pashmina shawls. The nomads sell the Pashmina wool to buy rice and grain.

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11/16/2013 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-nomad-people-in-changtang-ladakh_569/
Faces of Myanmar in Black & White http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/faces-of-myanmar-in-black-white_560/ Dietmar Temps Myanmar, formerly Burma, is recognized by the world as the Golden Land. Many pagodas in Myanmar are covered with gold leaf. According to a legendary tale, over 4 million pagodas were built in Bagan (which is certainly not true, because archaeologists today can find only the traces of over 5000 pagodas). But it's not the pagodas which makes Mynamar unique, it's the wonderful and amazing people. Take a look at the Black & White portraits and enjoy the wonderful faces of Myanmar.

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08/24/2013 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/faces-of-myanmar-in-black-white_560/
The Bashagi Goldmines, Suri Tribe, Ethiopia http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-bashagi-goldmines-suri-tribe-ethiopia_547/ Dietmar Temps The Bashagi goldmines are located near Kibish. After a 40km drive on an unpaved small field road from Kibish to the south there is a small police station where it is possible to stay overnight. Basically the 'police station' consists of two small houses and a ranger with a Kalashnikov in the middle of nowhere. The goldmines are very popular amongst young Suri teenagers between 12 and 17 years. They go in groups of a about 9 or 10 people, and after a 1,5 or 2 days hike from Kibish they finally reach the police station where they sleep and eat. 

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Usually they stay up to 10 days at the goldmines, and they work every day very hard. If they are lucky they can earn around 400 Birr in 8 or 10 days, which is something like 20 USD. The money is very important for them. Either it is used for the family to buy seed. Especially the young men also save the money for a new cow, which is important for later when they marry, because they have to pay for the bride, and the family of the bride only accepts cattle for the payment.

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06/22/2013 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-bashagi-goldmines-suri-tribe-ethiopia_547/
Monks and novices in Myanmar - the Buddhism way of life http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/monks-and-novices-in-myanmar-the-buddhism-way-of-life_512/ Dietmar Temps Myanmar is one of the most devout Buddhist countries in the world. About 89% of the people in Myanmar are Buddhist. People in Myanmar practice the Theravada Buddhism, which is more austere and ascetic, but also harder to practice than the Mahayana Buddhism, the other main branch of the Buddhism. Theravada Buddhism is also followed in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Laos and Thailand. No one really knows, but experts estimates that in Myanmar live about half a million monks. It's customary for a male in Myanmar to enter a monastery twice in his life. Once as a samanera, a novice monk, between the age of 10 and 20, and again as a hpongyi, a fully ordained monk, sometime at the age of 20. Some might remain a monk for just a few days, while others stay for life.

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Monks hold the highest status in the society of Myanmar. The overwhelming majority of the monks and novives in Myanmar wear maroon-colored robes. Monks receive two meals per day, breakfast and lunch and they are not allowed to eat after 12:00 noon. Early in the morning the monks and novices go out carrying a bowl to get offerings like rice, curry or other food. Usually a monk has his own family where he goes every day. It is not begging, since the family invited the monk to come to their house. It is a ritual that expresses a profound bond between the monks and the ordinary Buddhist and gives the locals the chance of doing the deed of dhana and to acquire merit.

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03/24/2013 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/monks-and-novices-in-myanmar-the-buddhism-way-of-life_512/
Suri people under pressure: The Malaysian Plantation in Koka, Ethiopia http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/suri-people-under-pressure-the-malaysian-plantation-in-koka-ethiopia_500/ Dietmar Temps There are serious changes in the south-western part of Ethiopia, which hosts some of Africa's most fascinating and colorful ethnic groups. Things are changing very fast and not everything is for the better for the people there, like for example the Suri people around Kibish, Tulgit and Koka. The Ethiopian Agriculture and Rural Development State Minister Aberra Deressa once claimed: " ... at the end of the day we [do] not really appreciate pastoralists remaining in the forest like this ... pastoralism is not sustainable ... we must bring commercial farming, mechanized agriculture, to create job opportunities to change the environment." In 2011 the Ethiopian government started a 5 years development plan for the region around the Omo River. It covers among others state-run sugar plantations and factories in South Omo, the Gibe III dam, a resettlement program and the Malaysian plantation in Koka.

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In October 2012 I visited the Koka plantation which is operated by the Malaysian company Lim Siow Jin Estate. The plantation was founded almost 2 years ago. Right now around 140 people are working on the farm, among them also a few Suri people. The manager of the plantation explained me the master plan of the 55-year leasing contract between the Malaysian owner and the Ethiopian government, which is quite impressive. The plantation has a size of about 31.000 ha, which is half the size of Singapore. The plantation grows palm oil, sesame and rubber trees. For 2013 an airport is planned, and in the near future a number of factories. The plantation is far away from the harbor (Djibouti), so transportation will be a problem. Since the target of the plantation is the world market, the plantation is planning to process the raw material in new factories directly on the farm, and the transport will be managed by airplane. At the end of the leasing time over 40.000 people should work on the plantation and in the nearby factories.

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01/29/2013 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/suri-people-under-pressure-the-malaysian-plantation-in-koka-ethiopia_500/
A few travel tips for Myanmar (Burma) http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/a-few-travel-tips-for-myanmar-burma_497/ Dietmar Temps Many travelers like Myanmar because of the wonderful and amazing people. And I think they are absolutely right. Especially in areas away from the popular tourist destinations. And it is still very simple to explore the authentic way of life in Myanmar. Visit a big market in the outskirts of Yangon for example, or stay a couple of nights in Sagaing, take enough time to visit the monasteries there and get in touch with the monks and the Buddhism way of life. In a monastery in Sagaing I asked the monks if they receive a lot of visitors, they answered that I am the second tourist since a couple of years!

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Here a few practical tips if you like to visit Myanmar any time soon. The travel guides like for example the Lonely Planet from 2011 are already partly outdated. Things are changing too quickly in Myanmar right now.

Changing money: Don't listen to the travel guides like Lonely Planet! You get by far the best rates at the airport. You should change money directly when you arrive in Yangon. Or you go to Bogyoke Aung San Market, leave all the black market moneychangers behind and go to a small bank at the far end of the market to change money with a very good rate. They also accept smaller banknotes for the same rate, which the black market moneychangers don't do.

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01/18/2013 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/a-few-travel-tips-for-myanmar-burma_497/
Trip report: 4 weeks Suri tribe, Ethiopia http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/trip-report-4-weeks-suri-tribe-ethiopia_452/ Dietmar Temps I just returned from a one month magnificent trip to the Suri tribe in the South Western part of Ethiopia. To reach Kibish it is still a 3 days drive from Addis over Jimma, Bonga and Mizan. There are two roads from Mizan to Kibish: the old road via Bebeka Coffee Plantation and Dima, or the new Waji-Maji road via Tum and Koka. From time to time the roads are blocked because of rain, so you should better ask in advance which road is open. Drivers usually prefer the new road, although the new road is a detour and the old road is well maintained and the scenery is by far more beautiful. But there are security issues between Dizi and Suri people around Dima and sometimes government cars are attacked, but for tourists it should be safe. Beginning of October only the old road was passable so we had no choice.

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The countryside in October after the raining season is lush and green, and more diversified than the more commonly travelled South Omo. In four weeks I only met a handful of tourists. The area around Kibish, Tulgit and Koka is still quite untouched, and there are plenty of opportunities to see and experience the traditional life of the Suri tribe.

The Suri people love to sing and dance. First day on the trip we had car trouble, the leaf spring was broken, so we spent the afternoon in Tulgit where a Suri mechanic repaired the spring. Luckily there was a big dance in Tulgit this afternoon. But suddenly a fight between young men started during the dance, and from one moment to another I was in the middle of a pretty violent stick fight. The stick fights are called Donga, and the government banned the Donga for Suri people. But a Donga is still a very important tradition for young Suri men, so the Suri keep on fighting secretly. October is Donga season, so almost every day there is a Donga somewhere around Kibish, Tulgit or Koka. And obviously the young men on the dance still had to settle an outstanding score of the last Donga. Lucky for me to get at least an impression of a real stick fight, since I'm not allowed to join and watch a Donga as a tourist.

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11/13/2012 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/trip-report-4-weeks-suri-tribe-ethiopia_452/
Namibia: Sossusvlei and Etosha http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/namibia-sossusvlei-and-etosha_386/ Dietmar Temps The coastal desert "Namib" in Southern Africa is often referred to as the world's oldest desert and it stretches for more than 2,000 kilometers along the Atlantic coasts of Angola, Namibia and South Africa. In the heart of the Namib the Namib-Naukluft National Park is located, the largest game park in Africa and the fourth largest park in the world. The most famous and scenic attractions of the park are the red sand dunes at Sossusvlei, which are the tallest sand dunes in the world with an altitude up to 300 meters. "Sossus" is from Bushman and Nama origin for "gathering place of water", while "Vlei" is the Afrikaans word for a shallow depression filled with water. Basically "Sossusvlei" is only the name of the huge clay pan covered in a crust of salt-rich sand. But the name is also commonly used in an extended meaning to refer to the surrounding area of the high red dunes and the famous neighboring Dead Vlei. The clay pan itself is only filled with water after a heavy rainfall, which is a rare event in this area, in average every ten years.

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The best time to visit Sossusvlei and the sand dunes is early in the morning at sunrise, the red color of the sand is very strong and bright, allowing wonderful photographic opportunities. The sand dunes of Sossusvlei are about 66km past the gate, which is located in the small settlement Sesriem, a main access point to the Namib-Naukluft National Park. The gate to Sossusvlei opens at 5:00 in the morning. Since there are no accommodation facilities directly at the dunes, you have to stay in one of the lodges or camps around Sesriem. From the gate the drive to the sand dunes takes about an hour. You are certainly not the only visitor, so be sure to expect other cars or trucks waiting at the gate, especially in the high season around July to October. 45 km past the gate the Dune 45 is situated, also known as one of the most photographed dunes in the world. The dune is 80 meters high and it is not very steep, so that it can easily be climbed. If you start at 5:00 at the gate, you have all the time to reach the dune and climb up the dune before sunrise.

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08/17/2012 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/namibia-sossusvlei-and-etosha_386/
The White Elephant: The Trouble with Foreign Aid in Africa http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-white-elephant-the-trouble-with-foreign-aid-in-africa_384/ Dietmar Temps When you are travelling off the beaten track there is no guarantee to only see the wonderful things of the world. In fact, sometimes you also have to face very sad situations like for example begging children. You shouldn't give them anything, because they supposed to go to school, but they learned that is simpler asking tourists for sweets or money instead of walking a long distance to school and study. Sometimes it breaks your heart, but that is also part of travelling, especially in Africa.

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08/02/2012 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-white-elephant-the-trouble-with-foreign-aid-in-africa_384/
New feature on the travel blog: the photostream http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/new-feature-on-the-travel-blog-the-photostream_349/ Dietmar Temps Last week I published a new feature on my travel blog: the photostream. The photostream shows all public photos in a stream, independently from galleries or blog posts. On the right side of the stream it is possible to filter the images depending on different categories, for example 'Africa', 'Black & White' or 'Landscape'. From time to time I will update the photostream with new images. In the next couple of weeks pictures from Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Ethiopia are following. 

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The fullsize view of the stream opens the pictures in the size of the browser window. The photostream will not replace the galleries. However, I work on an update of the galleries as well. But this will still take several weeks.

Stay tuned!

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04/13/2013 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/new-feature-on-the-travel-blog-the-photostream_349/
Cape Town: Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch and Langa http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/cape-town-table-mountain-kirstenbosch-and-langa_331/ Dietmar Temps Cape Town offers a wide range of attractions, sights and activities. One blog post is certainly not enough to describe all attractions, so I limit it to three spots I liked best: Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch and Langa.

Table Mountain is Cape Town's most prominent attraction and a world famous landmark. The top of Table Mountain offers breathtaking views in all directions. The mountain is often cloaked in magical mist and surealistic cloud formations, which have become famous as the 'tablecloth'. Sometimes it seems that the clouds are pouring or streaming like a viscous fluid over the ridge of the mountain. In November 2011 Table Mountain was nominated and announced as one of the 'New 7 Wonders of Nature', which is a campaign to promote the cultural and natural heritage of the earth. For the nomination billions of votes are selected through an international poll.

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Hiking on Table Mountain is very popular, you can reach the top of the mountain either by cableway or by foot. The summit can be reached by foot in a time between 2.5 and 4 hours, depending on the chosen route. The best photo spot to get the typical famous silhouette of the Table Mountain is from Bloubergstrand which is located about 25 km to the north of Cape Town city centre.

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04/03/2012 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/cape-town-table-mountain-kirstenbosch-and-langa_331/
Surma: The Suri people in the southwestern part of Ethiopia http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/surma-the-suri-people-in-the-southwestern-part-of-ethiopia_319/ Dietmar Temps Surma is the official Ethiopian umbrella term for three ethnic groups in South Ethiopia: the Suri people, the Mursi people and the Mekan people. Very often the name 'Surma' is used for the Suri people as well, but this is wrong, a Suri would never call himself a 'Surma'. The Suri people are semi-nomadic cattle herders and live on the west side of the Omo River in the southwestern part of Ethiopia. This area is still much undeveloped, only an unpaved road leads to the heart of the Suri settlements: Kibish.

Suri people have a cattle-centered culture, the wealth of a family is measured by the number of animals owned. Usually the animals are not eaten unless a big ceremony takes place. The animals are used for milk and blood which they both drink. Sometimes Suri warriors are preparing a mixture of cattle blood and milk for a ceremonial rite called 'cow bleeding'.

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Like the Mursi people the Suri women are wearing lip plates. The girl's lower lip is cut when she reaches the age 15 or 16. The girl's lip is pierced by her mother or another woman of her settlement and a simple wooden plug is inserted. The cut is held open by the wooden plug until the wound heals. After that the plug is replaced by a bigger one. The stretching of the lip continues by inserting progressively larger plugs over a period of several months. At a diameter of about 4 cm the first lip plate made of clay can be inserted, the final diameter ranges from about 8 cm to over 20 cm. Nowadays the girls in some Surma settlements decide for themselves whether to wear a lip plate or not. However, wearing a lip plate is still an expression of social adulthood and self-esteem for a Suri woman and demonstrates respect for the men.

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04/13/2013 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/surma-the-suri-people-in-the-southwestern-part-of-ethiopia_319/
The cattle currency of the Suri people in Ethiopia http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-cattle-currency-of-the-suri-people-in-ethiopia_317/ Dietmar Temps For the Suri people in Ethiopia it seems that everything centers around their cattle. Except of their Kalashnikovs of course. But that is another story. For a Suri the cattle is a very important status symbol. And it all starts for a boy at the age of about 14 or 15. At that time a boy gets cattle from his family, usually between 10 or 15 cows, depending on the prosperty of the parents. From now on the boy is responsible for his own cattle, and if possible he should try to increase somehow the amount of his cattle. And that for a good reason: when a young man wants to marry he has to pay for the bride, and there is only one currency: his cattle.

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08/20/2012 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-cattle-currency-of-the-suri-people-in-ethiopia_317/
The Future of South Omo Valley http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-future-of-south-omo-valley_311/ Dietmar Temps The South Omo Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a unique and spectacular place, located in the south western part of Ethiopia. The Omo Valley hosts some of Africa's most fascinating and colorful nomadic and semi-nomadic ethnic groups like the Mursi, Kara, Hamer or Bodi tribe.

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Many of the tribes, mostly small in size, are pastoralists and they practice flood-retreat agriculture along the Omo River. Until now the indigenous ethnic groups of the Omo Valley are some of the most traditional in Africa. But this can soon be over. The Ethiopian Agriculture and Rural Development State Minister Aberra Deressa claims: " .. at the end of the day we [do] not really appreciate pastoralists remaining in the forest like this ... pastoralism is not sustainable ... we must bring commercial farming, mechanized agriculture, to create job opportunities to change the environment."

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02/02/2012 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-future-of-south-omo-valley_311/
Full Moon in White Desert, Egypt http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/full-moon-in-white-desert-egypt_279/ Dietmar Temps An utterly beautiful but still almost undiscovered place is the White Desert in Egypt, also known as Sahara el Beyda. If you ever have the chance to spend the night there under a full moon you probably will count this spot to the most beautiful places in the world.

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Shining white limestone and surreal chalk rock formations cover the surface of the desert and gave the place the name "White Desert". Over a time period of millions of years the erosion gradually carved fantastical shapes into the limestone layers. The more solid parts of the rock became sculpted and appear in alien contours like giant mushrooms, pillars or even in bizarre silhouettes of animals like hawks, camels or ostriches.

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08/17/2012 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/full-moon-in-white-desert-egypt_279/
The Voodoo Trail: Togo and Benin http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-voodoo-trail-togo-and-benin_280/ Dietmar Temps Who doesn't know the Voodoo dolls with magic dark power from horror movies? Well, if you ever get an opportunity to visit the region of West Africa, especially Togo or Benin, then you might experience the real Voodoo, which is quite different from the picture we get from these movies. Voodoo is a traditional animistic religion and has its roots in West Africa, mainly Benin. The Voodoo was also spread around the world (mostly in slave ships), you can find Voodoo, sometimes as a syncretic religion combined with Roman Catholicism, for example on Haiti, Brazil, Louisiana or Puerto Rico. Vodun, Vodon, Vodoun or Voudou are all equivalent terms for Voodoo, which means 'spirit' in the Fon language.

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Although the 'Voodoo dolls' somehow exist, the correct term is 'Voodoo fetish' in form of a talisman. The word 'fetish' derives from the Portuguese word 'feitiço'. A fetish is a creature, an object, a talisman or an amulet, believed to have supernatural or divine powers. It can be a doll like the well known Voodoo doll; however the fetish object can be virtually anything: for instance a crocodile, a snake, a tree, a flower or simply a rock.

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06/17/2012 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-voodoo-trail-togo-and-benin_280/
The apple pie trek: Annapurna Circuit, Nepal http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-apple-pie-trek-annapurna-circuit-nepal_277/ Dietmar Temps The Annapurna Circuit is still considered as one of the best treks in the world. The scenery is outstanding: this trek takes you through breathtaking sceneries of rivers, flora and fauna circling the Annapurna massif. The trek goes usually counter-clockwise from Khudi to Pokhara and reaches its highest point at the pass Thorung La (5416m). Three eight-thousander can be seen on this trek: Manaslu (8156 m), Annapurna 1 (8091 m) and Dhaulagiri (8167 m). The trek goes through Buddhist villages and Hindu holy sites, most notably the village of Muktinath, a holy site for both Buddhists and Hindus.

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The best time for the trek is in October and November, right after the raining season. Beginning of October there is still a chance of rainy days, but from middle of October to end of November you have always blue sky and almost no rain. In December/January it can be very cold and the pass Thorung La can be blocked because of snow. We had rain the first 4 days of the trek (beginning of October) and the path was blocked on the third day because of a landslide. We lost almost one day which we tried to catch up the fourth day, and we reached a small simple teahouse very late in darkness and heavy rain. As a 'welcome present' we got a bucket of hot water for a shower, a place at the huge tiled stove to dry the clothes, a simple but tasty Nepalese dinner and a place to sleep. Luckily the next day all the rain was gone and since then we had beautiful weather every day.

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01/27/2013 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-apple-pie-trek-annapurna-circuit-nepal_277/
Wild Patagonia: Torres del Paine http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/wild-patagonia-torres-del-paine_266/ Dietmar Temps End of December 2006 I visited the national park "Torres del Paine" in Chile/Patagonia. The trip started in Buenos Aires and was a round trip in Patagonia. We visited all the beautiful places in Patagonia, like the Glacier Petito Moreno, the Fitz Roy area (Argentina) and Tierra del Fuego. This was an exciting trip, but I still remember the national park "Torres Del Paine" as the absolute highlight.

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End of 2006 the roads to the national park were still unpaved and the area was not very crowded although the park is famous and the main refugios on the east side are well developed for tourism. At the same time many roads in Patagonia were under construction for a better accessibility of the main tourist attractions. The question I had in mind whether Torres Del Paine will change to a place of mass tourism or hopefully would remain a quiet gem under the national parks. I'm not sure, but it is a matter of fact, that Chile is an extremely expensive spot to travel and the park itself is well known for rough weather conditions. So at least there is a good chance that the park stays fairly unattractive for mass tourism.

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10/02/2011 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/wild-patagonia-torres-del-paine_266/
Working for an NGO, Livingstone, Zambia http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/working-for-an-ngo-livingstone-zambia_259/ Dietmar Temps In December last year I worked for a NGO in Livingstone, Zambia. My intention was to get an impression how the time of a volunteer would be and so I decided to add a whole week working for a community after a three week trip starting in Cape Town, then to Namibia, Botswana and finally to Zambia.

The Scottish missionary explorer David Livingstone was the first European who explored the Zambezi river and the Victoria Falls in the year 1855. After 1900, as a nearby settlement grew into a town, it was named 'Livingstone' in honour of the explorer. Livingstone is also known by a second, but more informal name, 'Maramba'. Actually Maramba is the name of the river flowing on the eastern outskirts of Livingstone, and a large township next to it. But the name is also used for a number of places in Livingstone and has even been proposed as a new official name for the city as a whole.

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My job as a volunteer took place mainly in the township Maramba. I worked in community schools as well as on small community farms. Whenever our small white bus with the volunteer team entered the township, the kids followed the bus singing and shouting 'Mozungo, Mozungo'. 'Mozungo' means 'white man' in the language Nyanja, which is spoken of the tribes in the south of Zambia.

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09/30/2011 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/working-for-an-ngo-livingstone-zambia_259/
Santorini in Black & White http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/santorini-in-black-white_256/ Dietmar Temps The Greek island Santorini located in the southern Aegean Sea is famous for the beautiful small villages, the white buildings and the blue roofs of the countless churches and chapels. The colors are simply marvellous, and it is great to discover the strong geometry of the houses, roofs or architectural details. First I thought it is impossible to take pictures from the island in Black & White, without the typical blue color, but meanwhile I think Santorini in Black & White works very well:   

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Usually I like the long light best for taking pictures, this is the time one hour before the actual sunset. And I heard about the famous sunset in Oia, the beautiful small village in the north of the island. In Oia one or two hours before sunset it works like that: thousands of tourists are walking to the sunset point, which is the area around the Oia Castle. At that time every available seat, wall, step or patch of the ground is occupied. Everybody would like to watch the famous sunset, which is considered by many as one of the most beautiful in the world.

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04/13/2013 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/santorini-in-black-white_256/
The new travel blog is online http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-new-travel-blog-is-online_247/ Dietmar Temps My new travel blog is now available. My intention is to write from time to time about beautiful spots which I visited in recent years. I travelled in Africa, South America and as well in Asia. Hopefully I can visit a lot more places in the future, so that this travel blog will have a good overview about lovely places, friendly people and beautiful landscapes.

It probably will never be complete or finished, but if you are lucky you perhaps can find a post about a place where you intend to go and maybe it helps a bit for your travel preparations. Or you already visited the same spot and you compare your own impressions with the experience I made when I visited that place. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it.

Here some pictures from my travels in a photo gallery:

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08/17/2012 http://dietmartemps.com/travel-blog/the-new-travel-blog-is-online_247/