My App, Q, is now avaliable for download

As many of you know I´ve been working on an App while travelling. It´s now avaliable in AppStore. It´s a quiz game based on the famous show ´20 questions´. I appreciate downloads 😉 You can play against me by sending a request to username: funkytravel

This is the paid, ad free version:

Q – Ad free version

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/q-ad-free-version/id598238786?ls=1&mt=8

This is the free version, containing ads

Q – free version

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/q-free-version/id601281257?ls=1&mt=8 

Enjoy 🙂

Farvel mormor

kors

Boken lukkes
Siste punktum satt
Lyset slukkes
Dag blir til natt

Et hjerte stort
Har stemplet ut
Jobben gjort
Et langt liv slutt

Du gav oss liv
Og ledet vei
Så langt det gikk
Du ofret deg

Kjære mormor
Du ledet an
Du gav oss mot
Kjærlighet bare du kan

Et liv tapt
En sjel forløst
Minnenes makt
Vår felles trøst

Savnet stort
På livets sti
Glemt
Vil du aldri bli

En varm vind
I livets jag
For alltid der ute
På en regnfull dag

Hvil i fred kjære beste bestemor Ruth

South East Asia in and out, with a dash of curry and ladyboys

Woman smoking cigar bagan

Forgive me father for I have sinned. It´s been three months since my last confession. Last  time we spoke we said 2012, now we write 2013. I finished up my business in Bali and got my backpack ready for new adventures, first stop Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Again I´ve waited too long to update my blog, so in this post I´ll cover no more than seven countries. I´ve done the ´tour de Asia´, the same as everyone else does. Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and the Philippines. Then again, there´s a reason why it´s so popular. These are my tales from the Amazing Race through South East Asia.

Cliffjump

Kuala Lumpur is an interesting city, with something to offer. Still, you can cover most in a day or two. First up was of course the petronia towers. Looking up the walls picturing Catherine Zeta Jones in a cat suit. Alone worth the trip 😉 Also the menara tower is worth a visit. 300 meters high. Can’t beat that view, not even from the towers. The nightlife is pumping as well, and the shopping is great. A developed capital that I enjoyed, but only for a short time.

petronas towers

When I went to the Menara tower, I was queued with some local kids to take the elevator up. And they are all giggling and pointing. Then when we reach the top they came over, one-by-one, to take a picture of me. Apparently they don´t have a lot of gingers on close to 190cm down here. Not sure what I felt more, being a celeb or being a freak show. It was fun anyway.

After two days in KL I got on a plane to Kota Bahru. The hub for trips to the Perhentian islands. I caught a taxi from the airport, and an hour later I was on a boat. A magnificent view cruising out. Green sea, tiny islands, cliffs, deserted beaches. Plain beauty! After travelling for a few hours I arrived at one of the beaches. Jumped off and started walking around to find accomodation. Easier said than done. Because it was monsoon season, most places were closed. After straddling around for an hour, back and forth, I found a place. Finally. My body temperature was closing in on 40, and I was dehydrated, with the sweat running like rivers down my body. I just wanted to get changed and jump in the water. I checked in, got the key, put my board shorts on, and was about to head out when the guy that offered me the room came back. ´Sorry, sorry, no can stay.´ ´What?? I just got the key, I´m in the room, I even paid, there are people in the next room, why can´t I stay?´. ´Sorry, sorry, we closed.´. ´You closed? Wtf, you can´t be closed because I´m talking to you, and you checked me in, and I´m in my room, what do you mean closed?`. ´Sorry, sorry, the boss go home, no can stay. We close´. ´Men i hælve……., for fxxx sake?`. ´Sorry, sorry. So sorry, ok?. So sorry, ok.´ So he wasn´t allowed to handle money or something, and as the boss had left home, this was at four pm, I couldn´t keep the room. First and last time I experience that, hopefully. Anyway, it ended up being a blessing in disguise as I found a much better room at the resort for less money. Weird experience anyway.

The Perhentian islands are a jewel off the north east coast in Malaysia. I chose to go here in the monsoon season, so I could have the island by my self. It´s risky, but it has its perks. This is the long beach at 1pm: As chilled as it comes. Me on a magic island, a white sand beach and no one else:

long beach perhentian

My own beach perhentian

The area is incredible. Great white beaches, amazing snorkelling, perfect weather and quiet. Peace of mind. It had been raining 24/7 for two weeks before I came, and then I had five days of sun. I got some good karma going now apparently 🙂 After checking in, and having a swim, I went to the restaurant to eat. Suddenly I saw an ant on my table. I tried to squash it with my ketchup botle, but I only hurt it significantly. It couldn’t move from the spot, but kept crawling around. I was about to finish it off when I vitnessed a truly amazing thing. Another ant came across, and started investigating the injured one. It tried to straighten his legs so it could get up, but it didn’t help. He tried for a while, and when he realized his mate couldn’t walk by himself, he lifted him up and carried him away. This was an ant. With a brain the size of tiny freckle, and still it´s able to show more humanity than a lot of us. Incredible!

A OK reef perhentian

After relaxing on the beach in Malaysia for a few days, I was tranquil and mellow, ready to take on the city of angels, No, not Los Angeles, but Bangkok. Bangkok is a special place, in all ways. Colorful, noisy, vibrant, fascinating, dirty, fun, more or less anything but relaxed. As I was fully charged and ready to rumble, I left my bag at the hotel and went straight out. I needed to see what this city was all about. I found my place just down the street. A pavement restaurant. Lights in all colors framing the streets, signs and buildings, everything in none matching colors. Love it! People everywhere, tuktuks and motos. I ordered a penang curry and a Singha. A lot of tourists every where, from every where. The guys at the next table were Asian, but I couldn’t make out from where. They kept burping loudly during the meal though. I know it’s a cultural thing, but it’s hard getting used to. I tried myself, loud, and then all people looked at me weird. It’s apparently a difference here I didn’t get! After a few hours by myself my ex-girlfriend, and good friend, Henriette joined me. She´d been in Myanmar for work, and had a few days to spare at the end. Lovely to see a familiar face again, and to be able to talk about other things than travel and digestion for a change. Instead of staying in Bangkok we jumped on a plane for Koh Samui on the South East coast. We spent a week on the beach doing nothing, and it was great. That said, Koh Samui is a good spot for the next season of ´Charterfeber´. Can someone give the energy bomb from Fredrikstad, with the 80´s haircut a ring? People everywhere, bars trying to outplay each other, and drunk people standing with water to their waist, drinking. Like being back on Mallorca. For a few days relaxing on the beach, and you can find more quiet spots, it was fine. The company was better than the beach though. It was a good week with a lot of sun, shopping, massages and great Thai Food. If nothing else, Thailand has excellent food. And Henriette introduced me to Mango Stickyrice. It´s so tasty, highly addictive. You better give it a try if you´re in the area.

Henriette eating mango stickyrice

Streetfood Bangkok style

Streetfood Bangkok

And then there´s the ladyboys.

What´s up with that? Honestly, how big can that market be? Extremely strange, or are just the rest of the world surpressed by tabus? My theory is that the fysical differences between guys and girls are smaller here, because of the size and shapes of people, which might trigger something. Or it’s a cultural thing. Or maybe that’s just ignorant of me, but I find it very weird. Are ladyboys attracted to other ladyboys? Or is it guys? Or girls? I just can’t understand it. They apparently want to look like girls, for the most part that is. Is it because that’s what they like? Also as they keep their manhood, I guess it’s because they want to use it. Or is it because they want to attract straight guys, because they try to copy what girls do? But what happens when the light is out and suddenly there’s an unknown passenger, a blind passenger if you will, onboard? What happens then? Or say they want to attract gay men. But are gay men attracted to well hung girls? Wouldn’t think so, but then again what do I know. I think that they only attract other shemales, and then a few unconventional males and females, that has a bi attraction, and are confused, or are just extremely alternative. At least they won’t have to make up their mind. The conclusion is in any effect, they are limiting the field for a possible match, and making it hard for themselves. They are also doomed to get in to a lot of uncomfortable situations, as long as they don’t carry a big sign with a penis and an arrow pointing to the formentioned area. The well know phenomen of drunk guys with beer goggles would lead to a few misunderstandings I reckon. I see myself as a business savy person, but I just can’t understand neither the supply or the demand, or why it’s so big here in South East Asia compared to the rest of the world. Maybe I’m just narrow minded. In the end everyone have to choose their own destiny, so I’m not hating. I’ll just stay ignorant, and realize that some things are not ment to be understood by everyone.

Back in Bangkok I had to plan my next step. I would either start in Cambodia and end up in in Myanmar, or do the other way around. Because I´m bad at planning my travels I figured that I would start in Cambodia, and then see how much time I had left for Myanmar when I returned. Planning concerned, at least I´m not the worst. I overheard someone at the next table in a restaurant, and they said, quote: ´we are going to see the Angkor Wat, and THEN travel to Cambodia´. By the way, they spoke with a danish accent 😉

You probably have a love or hate relationship with Bangkok. It´s dirty, busy, noisy, crowded, some parts really run down, but it´s got a lot of soul. It´s facinating, and I love it! The diversity in the city is big. On one side of the road it´s only run down buildings with extremely interesting electrical systems, wires going everywhere. And then on the other side of the road you have a massage business, which are massage chairs on the sidewalk, promoting free wifi during your massage. That´s Internet penetration for you! Gotta love it! 🙂

Bangkok skyline

The silence that surround a temple is like no other silences. I don’t know what it is, but it’s like a pressure on your ears/temples, but with no sound. It’s a great experience, and does something to your mind, buddhist or not.

So I said my farewells to Bangkok, and booked my train ticket to Cambodia, and Siem Reap. Getting there was quite the test. First I had to get up at 4am. Get my ass to the train station to get my ticket, and find the train. I was going to Aranya Prathet, and from there with tuktuk to the border. I read up on all the scams at the border, and there have been a few to say the least, but I also noticed that it was supposed to have improved. It´s known as ´scam city´, as the boarder has been run over by Visa scams, and everything else they could husle the tourists with. After 6 hours in the train, in about 35 degrees with nothing but a fan, I had finished 3 liters of water and arrived at my first destination. There were a lot of suitors as we exited the train, and I was prepared for a batle. Surprisingly a tourist police officer met us, and helped us get a tuktuk at the right price. Great. So they actually have changed their ways here. We drove off, and soon arrived at the border. Not at the immigration, but at the scam office. Visa here, visa there, stamp before entering cambodia crutial, you won’t get in, money, money, money. When I refused, loudly, and said that it was no sense in getting my cambodian visa in a random office in Thailand, and asked where they had put the immigration, I was literally thrown out. He didn’t like me telling all the people in the joint that this was a scam. Everyone followed as I left. So then after walking a bit and arriving at the real immigration, everything went smooth. Yes, I did have to pay 100 baht extra for the visa, but I had already calculated that they would take a few bucks for themself. I could have made a riot and challenged the extra ‘tax’, but sometimes you just got to suck it up and pay. A denial of visa, because of 100 baht, just isn’t worth the risk. We took a governmment bus, which is free, to the bus station, and paid 10 us to go to Siem Ream in a minibus. Everything worked perfectly on the Cambodian side, it’s on the Thai side there are issues. I did think I had lost my passport on the bus though, panick stricken after five minutes of desperate search, I found out that I had put it in my stomach belt. That´s what it´s for, but sometimes you just can´t think straight. Not a good feeling, but such a relief when I found it.

Siem Reap is a nice little city, but the reason for travelling there is the Angkor Wat. Massive area of ancient temples. Unbelievable scenerie. Here´s a few pics:

Angkor Wat

Jungle temple Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

A spider just waiting for his moment as the butterfly has landed

Spider attacking butterfly

It was good parties in Siem Reap as well. I met up with a mate from my travels there, and me and Ron had a blast. Mao, our driver, took us around the temples. Great few days spent. Suddenly I was on the bus to Phnom Pehn and the killing fields. So in the seventys, 1975 to be exact, the red khmer took power over Cambodia. Pol Pot led the military rebels, that had ideals along side the communists, and Mao in specific. What they did was kill between two and three million of their own people, in five years, of a total population of about eight million. That´s more than a quarter of the population. They went after the schooled and the wealthy, as they were seen as a treath to the regime, and also because they didn´t have the same communist view on how to run a society. They killed them by using tools, like a shovel or something similar, and cracked them on the heads. Bullets were too expensive. The plan was to give the power to the people from the countryside, and kill everyone else. Crazy has no limits, and this is such a tragedy that set it´s mark as one of the worst regimes of all times. Pol Pot actually had a seat in the UN during this time, talking about peace and all the good they did. Hard to phantom today as we know what was going on. Look at the crack on the head of the sculls, which show how they were killed. They were put on lines and knocked on the head one by one, and dropped in to the mass graves. They played very loud music while the executions took place, so the rest of the camp wouldn´t hear the screams, and hence know what was going on.

sculls the killing field

cracked sculls

I went to the shooting range before the killing fields. It was the right move, because I don´t think I could have done it after seeing and hearing about the genocide. Anyway, since I went before, I had fun. A lot of fun.

Ak47

Vietnam and Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh which is the official name, was next on my list. More war history. I wanted to go to the tunnels from the war, and that was about it. I got there, booked my trip, and early next morning I was on my way to the tunnels. I´m not a big fan of tight spaces, so I wasn´t exactly looking forward to going down in to the tunnels. Ok, so it was tight, way too tight!

war tunnels vietnam

At one point I could feel the walls on both my shoulders, while creeping on my knees. It was so dark I couldn´t see anything in front of me. I just had to keep going and hope it didn´t shrink any more further down. I did it, but didn´t like it. Check, and it´s off the list.

war tunnels

After a long day in and around the tunnels we took the boat back to Saigon. Ten minutes down the river a military boat pulled us over. As the guys driving the boat seemed nervous, we all got a bit anxious. Turned out they had a military operation in the river, so we were sent back. Back to the bus. And now this guy with earphones in his ears starts to sing along with the music. That was two long hours back to the city.

The rest of my Vietnam trip was spent in and around Hanoi, one of the noisiest and busiest cities I´ve visited. But still in a charming way. Here are some pictures from Halong Bay and Sapa.

Sapa view

ricefields sapa

Ha Long Bay

floating village halong bay

sunset halong bay

I knew they ate dogs in China, but apparently they do in Vietnam as well. I walked through the market, and suddenly I saw a dead dog chopped to pieces, with the head in the front, eyes open and tounge out, and a for sale sign. I felt bad, but in theory it´s nothing different from the other animals we kill for meat. Just our culture that´s made it different. Anyways, I met this woman while on my a hike. Great choice of clothing. Skirt, long leather jacket, big purse, and lets not forget the high heels. Jeeeezes, people and their ways.

hiking outfit

It was weird coming to Laos and Vientiane after Hanoi. It´s a neighboring country, but it´s so quiet. Not much traffic, not a lot of people in the streets, just quiet. On the plane over a munk was taking a photo of the other munks with his ipad. Technology is reaching all layers of society. And here you can see a munk showing a kid how to operate his iPad 🙂

munk and ipad

I joined the Stray bus in Vientiane, and was travelling with a group for a week. It was good fun, and luckily my group was amazing. We camped in the ´jungle´, had a homestay where we fed monkeys, swam in rivers, and went to see some big waterfalls and caves. We also celebrated the full moon by sending up hot air balloons/lanterns. And yes, lets not forget the floating disco. Haha, that was very funny. We were five people from the bus, and then there were a hundred locals, on the floating, yepp, floating disco. Good night out that was. Me and Bill finished the Laos trip by riding around on motorbikes for three days on the plateaus near Pakse. Laos is different from it´s neighbors. It´s more rural, quiet, scenic in it´s own way. After rushing around in the busy Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, it was really nice relaxing and feeling the calmness of the places and the people.

homestay laos

Jumping

waterfall laos

Monkey eating banana

Rushing through the countries now, and Burma, or Myanmar which is the official name, awaited me after Laos. I didn´t know what to expect, as it´s still a military regime, even though they´ve now been ´elected´. I did find some beautiful places, met some welcoming people, and had some terrible bus rides. When I came to Yangon I went to the hotel restaurant to get some food. I got two tables in front of me, one with five loud drunk local men in their fifties. On the other two young girls in their twenties. After a while I see one of the guys waving over one of the waitors, and talking to him briskly, while gesticulating and pointing to one of the girls. The waitor walks over and talks to the girls, and then walks back. The man sends the guy over again, and he seem to get the number to one of the girls. Now he´s smiling, looking very cocky, and laughing and talking to his friends. Mind you, it´s like two meters between the tables. Finally the man has received the number, and he starts ringing. She´s trying to ignore the calls, but the guy won´t stop. He actually sends the waitor over to ask why she´s not answering. And keeps going. It´s so embarrassing that I just wanted to look away, but still couldn´t. This went on for a while until the girls paid and left. I wanted to laugh and point, but then again I wouldn´t want to spend a night in a Burmese prison. For all I knew they were politicians, which in Myanmar still means rulers of the world. When I paid, I actually got chocolate money in stead of real money, for the coins. First time, and a strange experience. But the chocolate was good at least 😉

chocolate money

My first night, or should I say morning in Yangon was a bit special. I woke up with water in my bed, and all around the room. I actually enjoyed waterbeds when I was little, but I have to have outgrown it. Did not appreciate it as I remember… When I told the reception their answer was ´yes we know, we had a leak last night´. Ok, but you didn´t think about waking me up and tell me water was running all over my room??? Very weird. After putting my stuff to dry I went sightseeing. First up the Shwedagong paya. It was a nice day, so I figured I´d just walk. Not a great move as I didn´t know in which direction it was. I was lost and stopped a taxi to get him to take me there. For the first time in history, asking a taxi driver for direction, he just pointed the direction and said it was 400 meters, with no hassle about taking me. He could have driven me all around town, and I wouldn´t have known he was hassling me. It´s a descriptive image of my experience with the burmese people. Friendly, helpful, respectful and very religious. I met a guy at the pagoda who took me around, showing me what allthe tourists miss. I put holy water on my head, made a praire with him, not knowing what my words/sounds ment, hitting a big bell three times, threw a bill to a Buddha. Supposedly that gave me very good luck. Watch out dublin, the norwegian Buddah is coming to take all your money. He also told me that I was born on a Monday, in the sign of the tiger. One of the Buddahs was also born on a Monday, more good luck. So now I know all this, and today it struck me, I don’t know my blood type. Mom, can you help me out?

pagoda

Poor guys below: 

ringing the bell

pagoda view

A fun fact about Burma is that they´ve been driving on the left early on, influenced by the brits. Suddenly the government decided that from one day to the next, they changed it to driving on the right side. At least now people stick to the right side, for most of the time at least. Just think about the confusion and the problems that would create. It also means that you have cars that are built to drive on the left side, and you have cars built to drive on the right side. Taking a taxi, you never know which side to enter.

You see a lot of people around town having smeared something yellow in their face. Like a thick layer of make up that haven’t been rubbed in yet. I thought it was some religiouse thing, what else could it be? My ignorance was yet again proven. I asked my taxi driver, he said sunscreen. How could I miss that, ehh? The bus station in yangon is one of the craziest places this far on my travels. It’s not a normal bus station, in the terms we are used to, but a village within a compound, where everything evolves around the buses. You have hundreds of buses spread out on several streets. No signs, with hundreds of bus companies as well, everything very confusing. You have shops, restaurants, car washes, mechanics, part shops, street sellers, food carts, people playing football, small shacks and houses, and thousands of people. Some travelling, others working and living. Strange but very interesting place. Of course at 6pm the gong-gong goes nuts, and all, I mean ALL buses is leaving at the same time. So you have hundreds of buses trying to get on the same two lane road, and what do you get? Yes, correct, the mother of all traffic jams. It took an hour and a half on the 2k-ish long road to get out of the area to the main road north. It was just to be the beginning. That feeling, when you’ve just started your 15 hour bus ride, and realize that the guy next to you have eaten nothing but cabbage the last week. And then the air con breaks down, and a kid starts screaming…. What happened to my luck dear Buddah?? So what do you do? You start walking. Johhnie walker #thankgodforwhiskey. The bus was freezing, and a monk was saying a praire, loud, for 15 hours. Interesting concept! By far the worst bus ride so far, and Jambles, the shuttles in Central was a first class ticket compared to this one.

´Once in a while,

along the way,

love’s been good to me.

Even though she has gone away,

you won’t hear me complain´

Johnny cash, what a legend.

´If heartake brought fame

In love’s crazy game

I’d be a legend in my time

If they gave gold statuettes

For Tears and regrets

I’d be a legend in my time´

It was a sidetrack, but listening to Johnnie while writing, so I just had to put it in. A true legend.

The financial capital of Burma is Yangon, but it’s actually not the political and official capital. It’s Naypyidaw. The burmese government decided to do like the old kings, build their own city. In 2005 they decided to build a new capital, a new city, from scratch. And so they did. Not a lot of people live there, almost no one, but it has a massive royal palace, six lane roads, and all new houses. Which is empty. This is being built up while the people of Burma is struggling in poverty. It’s like a sick joke, spending that money on a monument which only purpose is to satisfy the leaders, while people are starving. Just an example that the regime of Burma, might be loosening up, but it still is a totalitarian state.

After Yangon I came to Bagan with the bus. A holy place with thousands of small and big temples scattered all over a massive field. We rented a horsecart and he took us around to the best spots. Some incredible views.

horse carridge

temle bagan

Sunset Bagan

I didn´t want to spend to much time in Bagan. I was kind of templed out, so I jumped on the bus to Inle Lake the next day. Just before I got on the bus, I touched the exhaust pipe of a moto. Not very nice I tell you

exhaust pipe wound

I spent some days in and around the lake, and had a great time. I walked all around town to find a spot where they showed the Man utd – Man city game. After a long stroll I found the ´tea shop´. The only place in town the match was on. It was me and about forty locals, drinking tea and watching the game. They just looked at me and laughed when I burst out in pure ecstasy, dancing and shouting, as the game progressed to an unbelievable finish, and United victory. A great night, even thoug I wasn´t dressed for the temperature. I, wearing shorts and a t-shirt, they wearing pants and winter coats. It was cold, but the football, and the tea, kept me warm. Inle lake is beautiful, and I find it hard to believe that you´ll find the same kind of scenerie combined with all the small communities and floating villages, anywhere else.

Fisherman at Inle lake

floating village inle lake

kids playing inle lake

After Inle I bused back to Yangon, freezing for eight hours, but at least not as bad as the last one. My Burma trip was short, but long enough I felt. I saw some great places, but wouldn´t want to spend longer at either of them. I heard the beach area in the south is good, so I might have spent some days there time permitting. Glad I travelled, as this country might develop a lot in the years to come.

munk running

So you want to be a backpacker? Here’s the recepy: first you need to get the correct uniform. if you’re not wearing it, you’re not getting in. So what’s the tricks for being accepted as a true traveller in hostels worldwide? First, as a guy you need to let all body hair grow out of control. They’re like the rastafaris in that sense. By the way, that seem to apply for the girls as well, enough said. Second you need to wear a singlet/tube top with a local beer ad. Which one isn’t that important, but if you show up with one with a fancy european brand you’re in trouble before you’ve even started. Nothing but board shorts are accepted, daaah! If it’s a famous brand, it need to be fake. If you’ve got a real one, lie. If you, God forbid, would have to wear pants, wide beige or very colorful linen pants are the only acceptable attire. The only acceptable footwear is of course flip flops, that’s thongs if you’re oz, and jandals if you´re kiwi, but they are only to be used when desperate. Most of the time you should walk around barefoot. That, and take the bible in your hand (That´s backpacking for Lonelyplanet), and you´re off to a golden start. You need to be on a strict budget, and spend a lot of time finding the cheapest accomodation and food. If you find a new spot to save a buck, you’re suddenly the hero of the group, and a proven backpacker. You can’t be seen eating or drinking at a furnished place, sleeping at a place with no rats or bugbeds or shopping anything, except the local beer singlets that is. If you fall for the temptations, you’d be put out in the cold like a howling dog with fleas. No one likes a flashpacker, a fake, a wannabe, he needs to be excluded to protect the identity of the tribe. If you choose a private room, when there are dorm options avaliable, you’re considered borderline, and would have to prove yourself with other sacrifices. Maybe find a place where you can get a meal and a beer for less than a buck. That might be enough to remove any suspicion. You need at least five bracelets on your left arm. They need to look worn and dirty. What they mean is less important. The apperance of supporting a few causes is enough. If you wear a watch you’re queer. In a conversation with your tribesmen there’s a few important pointers. Always talk about where you’ve been and for how long you’ve been out and about, but not about what you’ve seen or experienced. It’s not what you see and experience that matters, only the travelling and the places/countries you go to, and most important the length of your travels. If you can afford to actually do stuff, not only travel, you’re put in the flashpacker category with a snap. Travels and information about the cheapest accomodation and food stalls are the only acceptable topics of conversation, and of course stories about how drunk that $3 bucket of local breewed spirits made you. Follow these guidelines, and you´ll be fine. Word:

Quote from Burma

Top three things you don’t want to hear while waiting to board your flight: (which one do you think I experienced in Bangkok?) 3. We’re sorry, but your flight is delayed, and we don’t know when we’ll be able to give you a new departure time (while you of course have a tight connection) 2. The flight is delayed because of technical problems with the plane. We’re looking into it (then suddenly boarding the same plane with no more explanation) 1. Your flight is delayed because of yesterdays russian national celebration, which caused the crew to arrive very late. But we’ll shortly be ready for take off. I had the opportunity to have all my ladyboy questions answered at the airport while waiting btw. I saw a western guy, not feminin at all, just a normal guy from the looks of it, cuddling with an asian girl, which clearly was in posession of a little TLC, Tits, Lies and Cock, but I chickened out. So I’m still in total darkness. It was number 2 btw.

I flew down to Phuket to meet Rune, a friend from back home that came down for christmas. Since I arrived a few days early I checked in to Artha Guesthouse, and was greeted by Mally. A superb host, and a full-blooded Manchester united supporter. This just couldn´t go wrong, and it didn´t. Spent a few days there, and had a blast. If you want cheap accomodation with great value while in Phuket, check out Artha. From Phuket we took the ferry to Koh Phi Phi. Party central apparently. Wild nightlife, mediocre beaches, nice little spot, did I say a pumping nightlife? I´d say that would be the main reason to go here, as you´d find better options for other needs elsewhere. We had a great time, and I signed Rune up for a fight at the Reggae bar. Yes, he did win. And yes, I chickened out, ´didn´t feel good´ was my excuse 😉

Rune in action

The rest of the christmas was spent on Koh Lanta, which was a very quiet place. Nice beach and clear water, with lots of couples and families. So we jumped on the speedboat to Koh Lipe, looking for some action. If Lanta was quiet, then Lipe was dead and buried. A very nice little island, with some amazing spots, but very very quiet. We had good fun anyway, Jenga!

So we packed our bags, left the islands, and spent the last couple of days in Bangkok. It was a blessing after a quiet week on the islands, because if it´s something Bangkok isn´t, it´s quiet! I had a great christmas and new-years celebration, even though it was strange being so far away from home, and I missed my family. Thanks Rune for coming down to join my travels, we had a blast! The playboy bell means 100 shots. Big night as you can imagine:

Playboy bell

From Thailand, I had a pit stop in the Philippines before changing continent again, and travelling to Australia. My plan was to scuba with the whalesharks, but as the weather was bad down south for my entire stay, I just spent a week on the beach in Boracay. There are worse things to do in life than that I can promise you. It´s touristy, and crowded, but it´s an amazing island, with the best beach I´ve seen so far in Asia, and a lot of things to do. I met some people and enjoyed my stay.

Sunset Boracay

Boracay

When the week ended I was extremely ready to travel down under. I´ve always wanted to visit Australia, maybe because it´s on the other side of the world, or because of the kengaroos, I don´t know. At least now I will get to find out. I loved Asia, even though the beaches were disappointing, with a few exceptions. The months has just flown by, and suddenly I´m closing in on my due date, the return to reality. At least I´ve got a few weeks of fun ahead of me before I have to go back. When I get back I need to shape up, as my workout routine the last ten months has been to do Diddly-Squats 😉

Diddly squats

Off to Oz mate. I like being down under, so this should be good, ba-dong-dong-dysscch!  Australian open is next up on the itiniary. Frode, a friend from back home is meeting me in Melbourne. Brewing up to be a fun couple of weeks 😉 Looking forward to seeing Djoko, Federer, Murray, Williams, hearing Sharapova and enjoying Melbourne. And maybe some surfing?

surfing dog

Aussie aussie aussie, oi oi oi!

Take care and have fun, remember, you only live once. And today is the oldest you´ve ever been, and the youngest you`ll ever be. Carpe Diem

Chat soon

I´m in love

I´m not sure it´s mutual, but I can´t help it. I´m in love! Who would have thought? Compared to my earlier flings, this is different. This is for life. The one that has caught my eye, the most beautiful you can imagine, incredibly interesting, diverse and colorful, intellectual and fun, challenging and some times a mystery, warm and welcoming – my Africa! What a continent. I have more experiences here in my about two months-ish time, then in my first thirty years of living. And I´ve only seen a small piece of it. For all of you that haven´t visited this great continent, you´ve missed out. Pack your backpacks and get going. I am truly amazed, and already looking forward to my next visit.

So it´s been a while since my last blog. I think it´s the mental state you get when you travel. Everything is in this moment, no yesterday, no tomorrow, no stress, just the feeling of now. It´s what we all chase, and is why we need to escape from time to time. It´s about time I tell you about my last endevours though, there´s been a few. Put your straps on, this will be a long one. Africa is, as I said, the most fascinating continent, with flavours to satisfy anyones taste. It can be tough, it can be hard, it can be challenging, and even dangerous at times, but it´s worth it. It´s a complete mix of everything that makes your feelings tingle. If it´s out of relaxation, fear, excitement, joy, anxiety, love, pain, relief, anger, happiness, frustration or pure satisfaction. These are the feelings that makes us feel alive, that defines us being alive, that makes us different from everything else. If you like feelings, and a bouquet of it, then Africa is the continent for you.

After my last blog I had the last few days on Zanzibar, before I headed to Dar Es Salaam. The last night I went to dinner at this fancy restaurant at the resort. In the middle of the dinner I see this couple finishing up and walking towards the exit where a golf cart has just pulled up. They get on and drive away. When I’m 50 and need to be picked up at the restaurant, AT the hotel, and driven back to my hotel room, because I got the biggest bear belly in history, knock me over the head with an ebony club and put me to permanent sleep.

Another sidestep. It’s funny how you sometimes manages to keep cool even in a desperate situation. I’m not talking about being in a plane and suddenly hearing over the speaker “buckle up, we’re going down”, but not that far from. Scenario: you are at a nice restaurant. It’s packed, and you have just finished your main course. Out of the blue your stomach turns, big time, and you need a bathroom asap. Do you run? Scream? Panic and make a scene? No, you gently walk over to a waitress and ask, “could you tell me the way to the restroom pleeeeease?” while you see your life pass in front of you. It works out, every time, but it feels like a frickin´ plane going down!! #travelstomach

One of the last days I woke up, and I had a feeling that I would climb Kili instead of going to Mosambique, so I went to the wifi sone and started searching. Don’t know why, but I was suddenly certain I would do it. Then I met these swedish girls. Their golden words were “why climb it, it’s so expensive, it’s a lot cheaper to drink it” *sponsored by kili beer*. So now I’m going to Maputo after all 😉 What I found out when doing research was that my timing was a few days off. So the next trips would take longer than what I had to spare, as I had to be in Joburg on a certain date. It probably wouldn´t be the smartest thing anyway, climbing Kilimanjaro on impulse. Anyway, it´s still on my bucket list, so maybe next year?

Reda, one of the executives on melia, took me out several nights in Zanzibar, and showed me that the island has great parties if you know where to go. Waikiki on fridays, Kendwa rocks on saturdays, and gabi beach when they have the superparties. And lets not forget abot obama, a good spot any night, even when the other places close. If you´re ever there, go check out the bathroom. It´s terrible, What I found out, suprisingly, was that they had a toothbrush in the bathroom, but no toiletpaper. Interesting concept.

Last night at the resort, and a local band was playing it up. Only europeans here. Hey, it’s true. White man can’t dance, rofl 😀

After spending more than two weeks on Zanzibar, laaaazing, I was done and packed my bag, and was on my way.

I say my goodbyes to Zanzibar:

Jambo,

jambo huana,

Abari gandi,

in suri sana,

Hakuna-ma-ta-ta (or something in that area)

Then I was on my way to Dar es Salaam. The capital in Tanzania in everything but name.

Taking the boat from zanzibar to Dar is one of the most stressful situations so far. I didn’t have a ticket, and the old “it’s full” card was played on me. Some guys on the street could of course fix it for me. No problemo. It was a big hussle. Rushing through traffic and people, an imigration office, which I skipped, and what not. Payed in cash, too much, no controll, no ticket. People were trying to stop me going on board, the boat was leaving. Back, and then a new attempt. They tried to stop me again, a big argument, the boat was leaving, the ramp was being removed, me in the midle of it, people staring, tourists on the boat wondering what was going on, and then suddenly, I was more or less thrown on. Now I had no ticket, no clue on which boat I was or company I had just “chosen”. Not sure what would happen as I skipped imigration, is this boat going to Dar Es Salaam? Honestly, I didn´t know. As I tried to walk in to the air conditioned lounge, a girl stopped me and asked for my ticket, which I didn´t have. Would they make me walk the plank? In a desperate last move I pointed to the guys on the shore and pleaded. “They sent me on, but didn´t give me a ticket”. As I said, it´s all a hussle. And everyone knows about it. So she opened the door and welcomed me in. After a few hours I arrived to Dar, and found my bed. A long and stressful day was over, and I got there, in the end.

I spent only the day in Dar, and didn´t do anything. I walked around a bit in the area I stayed in, but it wasn´t a good area apparently, so I quickly went back to my hotel and ordered room service. Next day I flew to Maputo, the capital of Mosambique.

I didn’t do much in maputo either. I walked around a bit. The rain was pouring down, so I wasn’t too keen on doing a lot of sightseeing. Strange suddenly being in a country where they speak portugese again. I thought my experience from Brazil would help me out, but then I remembered, I didn’t understand shit there either. Obrigado and bom dia is about my vocabulary. I know more swahili now than portugese. Anyway, I did book my trip to Tofo, a beach village 6 hours drive north east of Maputo, which was my main target.

At 5.30 the next morning I was standing outside Fatimas place, where the shuttle was picking me up. It was raining cats and dogs, and the shuttle was laaaate. Or the car that would take us to the shuttle that is. When he finally showed up he drove us to the ‘chapa’ central. Where all the local shuttle buses start from. What a circus. Hundreds of cars, not much structure, horns honking, a mass of people walking around selling anything from coke, water and bread to toothbrushes, phone cards, shampoo, and least but not last, machetes!! Yes, first time I’ve been offered a machete while sitting in a bus waiting for take off. Interesting experience just to sit and people-watch. Especially being the only gringo, or should I say Muzungu, around!

The shuttle started ok. The bus wasn’t full, so I had my own seat. That wouldn’t last. Where ever there were people by the road the shuttle stopped, and tried to push lifts. It quickly filled up, and then filled up some more. The people in the bus kept buying stuff the entire way, and people were standing all around. My ass was sore, my legs cramped up, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t sleep, and suddenly I found my self jammed between a chicken and a goat. I’d pay good money to swap back to the ones in Guatemala, which suddenly didn’t feel so bad at all. I never thought we would get there, but we did, after 11 hours!!! 5 hours more than announced. At least I got there in one piece. we saw a lot of car wrecks on the way. They were just lying there as a testiment of the dangers on the road. Dirt road almost all the way, pot holes, and speed limits that didn´t match, and wasn´t followed. Interesting ride I´d say.

I had a great view from my beach hut on Tofo beach. One day, lazing in my hammock with a book, I suddenly saw smoke just off the beach. In the middel of the waves a tube of smoke went straight up, like a water fonten. Then again just to the right. What the hell is that? Smoke or water? Then I knew. Whales. Massive humpback whales. Really cool. I didn’t know they came so close to the beach.

The rest of the time at Tofo was spent tanning, relaxing and having fun. The feel to the place is very relaxed. There are no streetlights, not a lot of cars, dirt roads, remote houses, a long beach that´s not developed and not a lot of people. A small village by the sea. It´s a place where you´ll find peace of mind, and still can have fun. There´s a lot of options for things to do. I met a lot of cool people, and had escpecially one experience that I won´t forget. We were walking home after a night out. In the middle of the dirt road, pitch dark, we hear a women crying. No screaming. After walking a few more meters we see a local man and woman at the side of the road. She desperately screaming, pleading for help, and he, now, just standing beside her, looking at us. We were five from South-Africa, and me. I was shocked, and didn´t react at first, and the others whispered to me to just keep walking. In these situations there are a few options. It can be a scam, so when you help you´ll be robbed or robbed and killed. It can also be real, but if you try to help, you´ll be shot or stabbed. Or it can be real, and you can actually make a big difference. All the scenarios was running through my head, and we kept walking for twenty meters or so. Then it all started again, and we could hear the punches hitting her, and she was screaming desperately. Maybe it´s not the smartest thing to do, but it´s the right thing to do, so me and Tom walked back. We didn´t have a plan, but we just couldn´t keep walking. When we got there we split the woman and the man, and I tried to talk to the guy while Tom started escorting the woman away. He told me she had flirted with another man, that she was his wife, and we didn´t have anything to do with this, and so on. She was screaming, but I couldn´t see any marks on her face. It was dark, and he could have directed the shots to her body, as a proper wife beater. I don´t know. I told the guy that they could talk later, sort things out, bla bla bla, but that we couldn´t just walk passed, and would escort her to town. After a while the guy stopped, and walked the other way. Maybe because we were heading to the police station, who knows. Another problem in Mosambique is the corrupt police. So you don´t want to get involved there either. We walked the woman to the police station, saw that she entered the door with people inside, then got away from there as quickly as possible. We got home without any problems, and that was that. I hope I never get into a situation like that again, but if I do, I hope I´ll be able to do the right thing again. Even though you put yourself at risk, you need to help. If we wouldn´t have helped, who would?

Enough of the scary stories, the rest of my stay was lovely. I had fun, made new friends and experienced a lot. That´s what it´s all about.

After the shuttle here I never thought I would even consider doing it again. But the options are limited, and I don’t want to fly with a tiny aircraft inlands in Mosambique, so I had to just suck it up, and buy another ticket for the same shuttle. I won´t bother you with another shuttle story. Maybe because this was a good one. The trip back was faster, smoother, and no chickens or goats. 🙂

You don’t see a lot of very old people in Mosambique, and the African countries I´ve visited. With average age of life being 38!!! in Mos, that´s not so strange… Huge problems with hiv, malaria and tuberculosis are the main reasons for it. Sad, but the hard realities.

From Maputo I was finally going to visit my friends in South-Africa. First up was Paul and Warren in Joburg, before my travels would take me to Jambles in Cape Town. A funny thing happened at the airport in Maputo @ the taxfree shop: me: “excuse me, do you have sunscreen?” The girl in the store: “no, only cream for women here, but we do have fresh shrimps!” Pointing to a freezer by the boose. So wrong in so many ways, but truly an epic moment! 🙂

I was so lucky to have Warren pick me up at the airport in Joburg. First stop, the apartheid museum. It´s an important part of our history, and especially for South-Africa. My first museum this far on my travels, good to get the culture quota filled before going in to a big weekend in Johannesburg. The rest of the weekend contained eating at the Rockets, drinks at Byron, boosy lunch at espresso, before drinks somewhere on Greenside. On Sunday we went to Arts on Main, before Pauls housemate fixed up a lambleg for supper. It was a great weekend, only too short. I´ll stay longer next time. Thanks again for the hospitality Paul, Warren and Kelly.

Before I went to Joburg I was told this was the most dangerous city in the world. “Why would you go there?”. “It´s nothing to see or do”. “Get out of there as soon as you can”. I ended up having a fantastic time there, and will definately go back. Where ever you go it´s all about what you do and the people you meet. It´s of course easier to get a good impression of a place if you have people there who can show you around. But I have also been alone in big cities, and met random people, that have made the difference. So if you don´t know anyone, get to know someone.

From Joburg I took a plane down to Port Elisabeth, on the south-west coast, and rented a car. My plan was to do the sunshine route and the garden route down to Cape town. And trust me when I say, this is an incredible drive, with a lot of nice places on the way, and exotic things to do. You have whales, lions, elephants, great surf, mountains, reefs, green fields, oustriches, meerkats, bungy, sharks, great shopping, oh did I say bungy?

superman

Sickest thing I ever did, and probably will do. INCREDIBLE!!! The worlds highest bungy from a bridge, 216 m high. Can´t describe it, have to be experienced!

I also had a vision. It happened in the city known as Knysna. Something out of the bible. It was the day of the 17th. A Sunday. A man appeared. I think he was reaching out to me. He had to be the son of God, because I´ve never heard of anyone else walking on water

After being by the sea for a long time, except Joburg, it was nice to travel over a mountain pass and arriving to Odterhoorn. My first close encounter with the vicious oustriches. This is what it resulted in.

I wanted to ride one, but the limit was 70kg, so I juuuust didn’t make the cut. I stayed at a farm guesthouse outside town which was brilliant.

While in Odterhoorn I also went to see the freaky and shy Meerkats. Great experience. Funny animals, and one of the shy six of Africa. Looks like something out of a Pixar movie 🙂

I had a nice experience inland. Endless fields, mountains, and the sounds of animals and birds all around you. Thanks colleen, loved it. Your tip what brilliant. At the farm I was served oustrich carpaccio and oustrich fillet. It is surprisingly really good. The looks are strange, even the smell of the steak is weird, and then it just tastes deliciouse. Not even close to chicken, this is red meat as good as (almost) any.

After the oustrich experience I headed towards Hermanus. I was meeting up with Jambles and his family there, and it was also going to be our harbour for the dive with the great white shark. I received a warm welcome, which also included a delicious warm meal. Lamb roast and roasted potatoes. Jackpot! Hermanus is a beatiful little town, known as the whale capitol of the world. Walk down to the shore, and you can spot a lot of southern right whales. Massive ones. They get up to 30 tonns. 30!! And they also have a lot of great whites. An exciting place for aquatic experiences. On the Monday it was the official heritage day of South Africa, or the Braai day, as it´s also known as. After a weekend with a lot of great food and good company, we got on a boat, and got ready for the cage. Ready to meet the most feared predator in the world. Mytical, frightening, mysterious, scary, the most fascinating of the bullies at sea, the alpha of the alphas, The Great White! A shark like no other shark. Here´s a few snapshots from our trip. Don´t need to say that this is something I´ll never forget.

One got a bit too eager

When talking to people about Africa while travelling, everyone has said I have to visit Cape Town. One of the greatest citys in the world. The bar had been set high before I found my way to the city bowl and got settled in.

Apparently long street is a party central for the city. It´s never ending. Every day there´s a party going on. I met this guy from Namibia where I stayed my first night. He had been in the city for two weeks, and now he had to go home. His body couldn´t handle more. I didn´t participate too much in the long street scene, but I made it out a few times with Jambles and Tom. Enough to get a feel of the vibe. And they told me, it´s not even summer yet.

I have to say right away, Cape Town didn´t dissapoint. It´s an incredible city with so much to offer. Jambles was kind enough to take me around. We went around the cape, to Cape point, but there are so many magical spots around the cape, do not only go to the point if you´re ever there. The views are unbelivable. Massive cliffs going down in the beautiful ocean. The brown, mixed with the green and blue, and with the sun shining, hard to beat! I also took the cable car up to Table mountain. Just beautiful. I´m running out of vocabulary here. We also went wine tasting, had a big braai, saw a rugby match, touring the city, and I went to Robben Island. I also tried Skydiving. What a feeling freefalling for half a minute. My God! You can´t explain it with words. You just want to do it again. It wasn´t as scary, and didn´t have the same adrenalin kick as the bungy, but it lasted longer, and I enjoyed it more. Incredible view, long freefall, and then just sailing in on the drop zone. I even got to stear the parachute. It was truly awsome!!!

The last thing we did before I left was going to Rocking the Daisies. A big rock festival an hour out of town. Me and Jambles drove out, with no tent or sleeping bags, and winged it. To sum up the highlights: Starting drinking at noon, of course. Hard liquor by 4. A guy in a borat outfit (of course nr2). A rugby match on tv. Lost each other. Met some Norwegians. A concert, with a famous band I didn´t know. Some kids put light sticks around my wrists (they didn´t know my age, apparently). Talked to some people from Ireland, Botswana and Zimbawe. Some more drinks. Another concert. Couldn´t find Jambles. Car locked. Sleeping under a party tent outside for an hour in the middle of the camp. Too cold. Found my way to the electronica tent. Walked up to the crowd to keep warm. A guy in a fur and a big hat trying to catch the light from the stage in his hand and put it in his pocket (of course nr 3). Music off, tent closing. Still haven´t found a tent to crash. A long walk back to the car. Put my head by the window and scared the living shit out of Jambles. Four hours sleep in the car. The end. Interesting experience. Had fun, except the hour I tried to sleep outside. 10 years ago I went to the Roskilde festival. The scene hasn´t changed much, but my age has. We did one day, not sure I had another one in me.

I tried to give Cape Town as much of me as I could, and she gave me back the full amount,  and some change. Thanks to Jambles for taking time out of his tight schedule to show me around. Bro, I had a blast. Wouldn´t have been the same on my own. Thanks Tom, for showing me a propper braai 🙂 Cape town will satify your needs, no matter what your flavour is. And before I forget, South-Africa is, as Jambles says, cheap as chips. Surprisingly cheap. And we looove cheap! So after travelling for six months, the first country I could actually see my self living in, is South Africa. And the city of preference, Cape Town. Thank you SF, thank you CT, I´ll be back before you know it! 🙂

After Jambles dropped me off at the airport, I checked in on my flight to Dubai. I had a few days there, and a few days in Singapore, as a start of ´Tour of Asia 2012/13´. Dubai is a crazy place. A built up skyline in the middle of the desert. Did you know that the official motto of Dubai is ´go big or go home´. You can´t find anything in the place, that´s not bigger than whatever you´ve seen before. Did I say that Burj Khalifa is almost 1k high, 1k??? Sick sick sick. And the entire city is the same way. Like a massive pissing contest between people with too much money. Scary, but fascinating. And I got to ski this year after all. When travelling after the sun, Dubai fix you up. Indoor skiing in a mall. You can shop your whatever, have a meal, play with the penguins, and do a slope. From 35 degrees sweathing my ass off in a shorts, I´m suddenly in minus 4, going up a chair lift. So when do the massive mall close you say? Never. 24 hour mall. The nightlife is also very interesting. It kind of rubb off from a city of gold. The guy/girl ratio is very different then anywhere else I´ve seen. More girls than guys, and a lot more. Beautiful girls as well. And they all carry huge purses. But that´s not so strange. They need room for their big and sharp shovel!

After enjoying the crazyness of the city, the last thing on the agenda was desert safari. I´ve never really been to the desert, so I looked forward to it. We cruised around in these big four by fours, sliding on the sand dunes. It was great fun, but my jinx with motorised vehicles doesn´t seem to stop. We had a flat. Not once, but twice! I spent the breaks enjoying the incredible view, as the sun was setting in the sand. Great experience. After this, belly dancers and a barbeque waited, in the desert some where. Everything was pitch black, and the dinner was started when we arrived. But I still got to ride the camel, so I didn´t complain.

A side story. I actually managed to check out of the wrong room in Dubai. I stayed in room 810 in Cape town, and in room 2110 in Dubai. When I checked out I said 810. She said a name, that sounded close enough to mine, if you add my name to her accent, so I said yes. I signed the receipt, and left. That´s an achievement!

After brushing the desert sand off my undies, I embrased the ac in the departure hall, enroute Singapore. My first meeting with with this metropol was my taxi driver. His car was speced full of all these gadgets. He had 6 sigarette outlets extra, connecting a dvd, a gps, a satelite phone (why??), a normal phone, and a few other things I couldn’t make out. And last but not least, an electronic coffee heater. Absolutely brilliant. If a nuclear war broke out tomorrow, this guy would be well off! He dropped me off a the hotel, and I went out to get some food. I didn´t check the time zones, and actually thought it was the same as in Dubai, but it was evening when I got there. I thought it was afternoon. I skipped lunch, and now we were talking dinner. A quick search on tripadvisor sent me to Dim Tai Fung. A dumpling joint in a mall. I was kind of sceptical arriving, and seeing it was in a mall, but I was pleasantly surprised. The dumplings were excellent. The sesamee bun was terrible, but I didn´t know what I ordered. From what I hear, it´s supposed to be that way. Anyway, the rest of the food was brilliant. This is one of the big things about Singapore, the great cuisine.

After the meal I went looking for a bar. What I found was a cellar that had a disco on at 10 pm. They had a dance crew going, yes, a dance crew. And no, it wasn´t a strip joint. It was so local that it felt like the music stopped when I entered. When the team finished dancing, the dancers walked around the place and thanked everyone for watching, by shaking everyone´s hand, one by one. Weird experience. After the first show, a band entered the stage, and then another one. A drink and a show for a few bucks. Good value 🙂 I also checked out Zouk. The most famous nightclub in town. It was good fun, and packed, like any other club, in any other big city. Some things are more or less the same no matter where you are in the world.

As a good traveller I had to check out what the city had to offer. I went to the botanical garden, which is amazing. I found peace and tranquility there, and walked around for hours. Mom, you would have loved it! I also did a hop-on hop-off bus, and got a good look around. The last night I went to the casino. And would you believe it, the house won! It was a massive casino, bigger than most in Vegas I´d say. They didn´t have any poker going, so I tried some other games, which just confirmed the saying, the house always win.

After trawling the big citys for a few days, I finally had some island vibe coming my way. Bali, the island of the elements. Wind, fire, sand, and water. And apparently drunk Australian youngsters. The party scene is bigger than the surf scene. That was basically it. I surfed, or tried to surf, burning in the sun, and went out at night. If all you want to do is party and surf, go to Kuta and stay there. If not, spend a day or two in Kuta, and then travel north. The beach was mediocre, and I just couldn´t get the feel of the place. I travelled away kind of dissapointed, but then again I didn´t see the entire island. Since I had booked my stay, with no refund, I didn´t get to go some where else. What I did enjoy was a special at one of the restaurants. A beer was $5. As much as you could drink for two hours for $10. Hohoho, I think they had to apply for chapter 11 that Monday.

I´ve heard that two hours with boat will take you to Gili islands, which is fantastic. Will definately check it out next time. The people on Bali is amazing though. Some a bit pushy, but smiling and greating you. I´m packing my bag, without having seen enough of Indonesia, and moving my ass to Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur and the Perhentian Islands. Since I was a kid I always wanted to visit Malaysia. Don´t know why, but now I´ll find out.

Life on the road is rewarding, challenging, fascinating, a fairytail being written. You experience so much every day, all these impression that you don´t have time to digest. You feel like your roots are losing track of you. It´s a bit scary, but satisfying at the same time. I´m in a resurrected Metallica period now, and they put it so well

“And the road becomes my bride

I am stripped of all but pride

So in her I do confy

And she keeps me satisfied

Gives-me-all-I-need

And with dust in throath I crave

Only knowledge will I save

To the game you stay a slave

Roamer-vanderer-nomad-vagabond

Call-me-what-you-will

But I’ll take my time anywhere

Free to Speak my mind anywhere

And I’ll redefine anywhere

Anywhere I roam

Where I lay my head is home

Wherever I may roam…”

Tonight Bali is my home, for the last night, and tomorrow a new city and new country will host me. I´ve always dreamed about Malaysia, and tomorrow I get to meet her. Very much looking forward to that.

Until next time. Stay classy people 😉

Kenyan game and Tanzanian beach

After an incredible week home in Norway, it was time to continue the journey. Destination Kenya, and the great Masai Mara. My carrier was Qatar airways, and my transit was in Doha, Qatar. Only flying in to Qatar airport you see that this country is different than many others. Huge houses with pools lined up, great roads and everything seem so organized. It’s one of the richest countries in the world, and it shows. I left Norway in 14 degrees and rain. Walking out of the plane in Doha, at midnight, it was 35 degrees and about a thousand percent humidity. It was crazy! At least when we got to Nairobi it was around 20 degrees and comfortable.

Arriving at Nairobi International the Visa queue was as expected, long. I picked a line and hoped for the best. After about 20 minutes I saw the other queue move a lot faster. It was longer, and growing, so I didn’t want to switch, but in the end I gave up and switched to the bigger line. When I was finished people who were originally in front of me was still in the queue. Satisfaction!!

Note to self: it’s never too late to switch queue.

We were driven to our hotell i Nairobi, Pride Inn Westlands, checked in and had breakfast. It was a sunny day, so we figuered we´d have a look around. The first stop, a shopping mall. It was a new one, and just like home. Nairobi is like most third world countries, full of diversity. On our way to the mall we drove through a really poor neighborhood, and the differences were enormouse. Straight from a street were people lived in tiny squares, made of tin, and the local shop/garage was a side of the road and some mechanics, with what looked like a minimum of tools, and then straight to a luxury mall where you could buy anything you want, if you have money. It always seem to affect me, even though I see this every day. Life is not fair, that´s just the way it is.. After the mall we took a cab downtown, to have a look around. We walked for a while, but there wasn´t too much to see. At least it didn´t feel very touristy, as we didn´t see anyone except us. After talking to others people seem afraid to travel in Nairobi, and stay at the hotels, or always travel with a guide. I think that´s to push it far, but I can understand that people feel unsafe. At least I didn´t think about it, and didn´t feel unsafe at all.

At 0700, the next morning, our guide francis picked us up at our hotel pride inn. It had been raining heavily, so our 5 hour drive to Masai Mara was now 6, at least. We received our safari hats and were on our way. Me an marius were the only ones, and had our own van. Everything was set for an unforgettable trip. Francis tells us that we’re in the middle of the migration, when all the animals move from Tanzania to Kenya. Millions of gnus and zebras. It’s christmas for the lions and the crocs, and «the hunger game» for the gaselles and the antilopes. The weekest link loses.

The masai tribe still live in the traditional way, like they have for centuries. They’ve hold on to their culture, for good and for bad. They circumcise girls, which isn’t right, but they refuse to change just because we change. They want to live as their ancestors, and hold their heritage close to heart. If a chief dies, the new chief is elected by who first kills a lion and bring back the tail. Not exactly a normal election day. They can´t do it now, because killing lions are banned, but it´s still a game of strength, skills and status.

It´s weird when you pass these small remote villages on the way to Mara. A gathering of tiny stone houses with something that might look like a shop in between. Everything is very worn down and simple. People are wearing traditional clotes and it looks like time has stood still for decades. Then you see that a lot of them are holding something in their hand. What is it? Let me give you a hint. It´s small, you can easily hold it in your hand. It´s black, and it says Nokia on it. Mobile phones! Everywhere. And no Apple, Samsung or HTC, all Nokia. No mattet where you are, people are connected. Communication and avaliability is crutial for the lives of most people, and Kenya is no exception. At least they know which football team is the greatest in the world

Just before mara we suddenly had to stop. A woman was killed in the park by an elephant, and the tribe want compensation from the government since they blame them, so they blocked the road. Tourists, and locals, were blocked on both sides of the bridge. Luckily we were going out, so we didn’t have a plane to catch. It’s the third roadblock so far on my trip. Or maybe I should say bridge block. I´m not complaining. The worst concequence I´ve had is missing lunch. Looking at my present workout regime, I probably benefitted from it 😉 Here are some kids from the village very interested in our sunglasses and the binoculars 

Forget what I said about central america. Don’t bother about south-america. Driving in a Toyota hiace, with no suspension, to Masai Mara, with a serious delay, on a terrible dirtroad, racing against hundreds of other safari cars, blowing dust on our windshield, causing no visibility, in speeds that would have given you a ticket on the Autobahn, THAT is the definition of crazy! CRAZY I tell you. Add that I had to pee, and you have the perfect storm! Luckily the driver announced bush toilet before the content of my bladder was presented to the car seat.

Making our way to the gate of the great Mara, we spotted a lot of campsites and run down accomodation. Not suprised, because this is what we expected for our trip. Tents and not a lot of ammendities. We passed the gate, and drove for half an hour ish, before arriving to our tent, Sarova lodge. It was an oasis in the middle of the savannah. It was just beautiful. Not as we expected at all. We did indeed stay in a tent, but a tent with wooden floor and a tiled bathroom. They even snuck a heating pad under our sheets every night when we were at dinner. Not too shabby.

Since we got delayed because of the strike, we would go out early morning and stay out the entire day. The itiniary said morning game, back for breakfast, and then afternoon game. Luckily we got delayed, because the all day thing was a lot better. Words will come short, so I start with some photos.  

It´s really hard to describe the view, the feeling, the adventure, the pulse, the endless savannah, the reminder of how the nature works, the close encounter with animals I´d only seen on tv. It was an experience I will remember for the rest of my life, even if I get a serious attack of the old Altzheimer. It was hard to take it all in, but looking on the pictures now makes me smile. It was just amazing, and something I would reccomend to anyone who wants a different and unforgettable travel experience.

A few highlights:

  • A Cheetah and her four kids had killed a Thompson Gaselle and was feeding right in front of us
  • Our first meeting with the lions, adrenalin moment
  • The vultures feeding from a dead gnu. Just like my friend Geirr says, «like a vulture circling over a woonded gnu», these had scored the jackpot.
  • The crocs lurking in the river, just waiting for one of the antilopes to give it a go
  • Endless savannah with millions of animals
  • The animal facts from our driver. Did you know that a lion sleeps for eightteen hours a day? And that the Thompson Gaselle is the second fastest animal in the world, after the cheetah, and that the Gaselle is their favourite food? You have an Antilope named Elan, which is the biggest one and can jump over a big van?
  • The rawwrrrr from the male lion, which provoked an instafold from the safari cars that was too close, who quickly drove away. Lions have attacked cars when provoked, especially when they mate.
  • Seeing the big five, and heeps more. We didn´t see the leopard, but I think the Cheetah is «bigger», so I´ve switched them, and therefore concludes my big five!
  • Two baboons going at it after their breakfast
  • Another baboon attacking a guide that took out something from his pocket to feed them. If you´re a guide: You should know better! He freaked and ran away, throwing the food, at last. I couldn´t help laughing, neither could Francis.

The baboons… 🙂 (morning gymastics)

One of the days we were out we suddenly got a desperate call on the intercom. One of the safari cars had tried to cross the Mara river, and was now stuck in the middle, with crocs and hippos not far away. They couldn´t leave the car, and they didn´t know exactly where they were. So we sacrificed two hours of our safari to look for them. It was actually quite exciting, and definitely something different to spice up the experience. We drove around and couldn´t find them for about an hour and a half. Suddenly we had a women on the intercom, one of the tourists, she pleaded for help and sounded a bit desperate. The driver had taken his chance and left the car, and was now on land trying to find a car, while they were still stuck in the car. After several times back-and-forth we saw the driver down by the river. We drove over, and emediately spotted the car in the middle of the river. They were extremely happy to see us, and Francis and another car, a Range rover, prepared a tabs to drag them up. I didn´t have much faith in the road and the gear to be able to get them up, but apparently it wasn´t their first rodeo. After a few minutes preparing the line, and then put the pedal to the metal, and up they went. The car started after a few adjustments, and we were all out looking for lions again. So we can actually say that we took part in a search and rescue operation in Masai Mara.

Later that day we visited a Masai Village just by our camp. More than 300 people live here, and even though they´ve adapted a bit to the modern society, they still live in huts made of sticks, sand and cow dirt! Yes, cow dirt. Every morning the ladies of the village takes the dirt and smear it on the house. It´s for isolation and for keeping the rain out. Now a days they have plastic under the dirt, to keep dry. But other than that it´s not much to show for the twnty first century in the village. It looks peaceful, but I recon it´s a hard life. The boys go to school, or at least a few of them. As a Masai you ears will be pearced when you reach puberty. That´s why they have massive holes in their earlobes. If you go to school you don´t have to pearce your ear, insted they remove the teeth in the middle of lower jaw. Why? Who knows, I think it´s a sign of manhood, the pain and the sacrifice. Anyways, you can spot who´s studying at least…..

We were met by a welcoming commitee, of course, as we paid to get in. Kind of touristy, but still an experience. You get quite close to their lives, and their culture, even though you know that they get paid. We arranged a jumping contest, and I won. I could pick two wives from the village. It was revoked when they heard that I didn´t have a job 😉 After the visit they told us that after this, we could come visit them any time, and have free accomodation with them in the village.

After a few days in Masai Mara we drove to lake Nakuru. On our way we stopped at a lake where we could walk with animals. It was a lot of birds, hippos, one giraffe and a few gnus. We were hard to impress after Mara, so we were not satisfied after paying $50 for it. We got a picture with a giraffe, but that was it. The animal seemed quite tame as well, so we put it on the tourist trap quota, and moved on. Nakuru was also really beautiful, but so different then Mara. This is a national park, while you felt that you were in the wilderness in MM, Nakuru felt more like a park, a zoo. The animals were indeed wild, and you couldn´t pet them, but everything was different. It was nice to see both, as it enforced the massive experience of the Mara, which I preffered. Suddenly our safari came to an end, and we drove back to Nairobi and prepared for sun, sea and sunburns in Zanzibar.  

On our flight with fly540 from Nairobi to Zanzibar I experienced, for the first time, someone answering their cellphone while in mid air. Weird! And noone told him to hang up, not even the stewardess.

We arrived at Zanzibar around noon. The sun was shining, and we went to our hotel in Stone Town. What´s to say about Stone Town? Extremely quiet under Ramadan (bad timing), and not much to do or see. You have the markets, the architecture and streets of the actual Stone Town, the slave market, and a cathedral. We saw the town and the markets, and then we laid on the small beach by our hotel chillin´. After a quiet week on Safari we wanted to have a few drinks at night, but the town was dead. We hit a bar anyway, and met the local gringo drunk Nichelle. He´s dutch, but have been living on Zanzibar for ten years. He offered to take us around town the next day. At 10 sharp we met up outside the hotel. I could smell him coming before I saw him, Konyagi, the local gin, is very popular. And you can get it in small bags that Nichelle carried around in his pocket. He did take us around, but he was wasted. Even though it was ramadan, he downed a few of the bags on the street when people weren´t looking. We saw the fish and meat market (was a veggie for two days after this), before we had a break and Nichelle wanted to try a snus. He had one, and that was the end of him. He passed out on the bench, and then disappeared when we looked at some street art while waiting. So he could do crazy amounts of gin, but one snus and he was out 🙂

After two days in Stone Town we headed for Nungwi. We read that this place had the best party vibe on the island, so we had our hopes high, just to have them adjusted, a lot, the first few days. It was not as dead as in Stone Town, but not far from. The ramadan is not a good time to travel here if you don´t want to go to bed at 10 every night. Few people, mostly families and couples, and no action of the hotels or bars. We did meet to locals, Julio and Marco Polo, or Hamza and Abdullah, which were their real names. They took us to a few parties, which was ok, and to a local reggae bar. Or should I say a shed with a fridge. We were the only tourists there, but felt welcome. People talked to us, but didn´t ask for money or stuff. People were there to drink and have fun, so we did. After this the full-moon party at Kendwa was up. A lot of people, relatively set (we hadn´t seen people in days), so it was a good party. The rest of the stay was spent on the beach, and nothing more basically. It was nice to relax, but I would have liked more upbeat nightlife. Anyway, Marius had to pack his bag while I wan wondering what to do next. So instead of going to the mainland, I figured I´d travel to the other side of the island, and stay a week or so. I booked a room at Melia in Kiwengwa, and have now been lazing around here for a few days. It´s even more quiet here, but they have some beach parties on hotels around here. Now I´m preparing to go to Mosambique, and then South-Africa. It´s a bit of a hassle getting there, as Tanzania and Mosambique apparently hate each other. So I will have to travel through Jo´burg. Have about six weeks left in Africa before I start my Asia travels. Have to do the most of it.  

There are a lot of Italians in Zanzibar. They even call it little Italy. 60 % of all tourists are Italian. It´s a bit funny because many of them travel around with a Masai. They are booking them as accessories, kind of stating that they are concerned with culture and are hanging out with locals. What they don´t know, as they call them Masais, is that they are fake Masais, They are brought in from the mainland in Tanzania, and dressed up, and then rented to tourists. When I talked to the locals that told me this, I laughed my heart out. Crazy Italians 😉 I think it´s a tick-box on the order form. «Plane, check, hotel, check, car to and from the airport, check, do you want a Masai?, check». I´m not sure how the internal hierarchy is down here, but we were at a restaurant eating, and Marius asked the waitor if they sold sigarettes. The local woman said no, so we asked for direction to a shop to buy some. Then she replied «lets send a Masai», and she did. Very strange experience.

Melia Kiwengwa looks like a paradise. Green ocean all the way to the horizon, clean cool pools, private beach, a good place to chill out and do some work. I´m currently working on an application for iPhone, and had to finish up some stuff. This was the perfect place to do that. They have a restaurant out on a pier here, in incredible surroundings. I went for dinner one night, and it was amazing.  

Suddenly I find myself on a pier, at 11 pm, sitting 100 meters from land, in a chair, staring into the Indian ocean with a cold Tusker in my hand and coldplay playing clocks in the background. The air is warm but not too hot, a small breeze from the ocean feels cool on my body. When you look at the ocean, green and blue at first, then darker and darker the further you look. Small waves breaking over the reef sending white impulses towards your eyes through the big deep black. You can see the sea all the way, darker and darker, until it hits the horizon. The stars light up just as much so you can spot where the sea become the sky. You follow the sky and suddenly an eternity of stars stares right at you. Some blinking, some strong, and some barely holds the distance from one of those galaxies far far away. You smell the sea, feel the wind, hear the waves breaking, while your eyes consume everything. All senses working together and creating the most beautiful symphony of impressions. It’s like the world is talking to your soul. In that moment you realize how small you are. How you are just a small fraction in it all. An atom in a huge building. A drop in the sea. And at the same time it strikes you how big life is. All you can see, all you can feel, all you can do. How important you can make the world for you, and how important you are in that world. In that moment everything is so clear. No stress, no history, no tomorrow, just now. Nothing but now…

I have a few days left here at Melia, before I go to Dar es Salaam, and then to Mosambique and South-Africa. That will be my last stop in Africa before I start the tour of Asia 2012/13.

Now I´ll go have some Afri Ko-Ko after spending way too long on this blog 😉

Catch you on the flip side

No place like home

After spending three months on the road in the Americas, it was time for a brief stop back home. I desperately needed to wash my boxers, so I travelled home to mommy.

Bilde

My brother was getting married, and I was the best man, so this was something I couldn’t miss. I was really looking forward to seeing my family and friends again, and my beloved Vesterålen. Especially my nephew Noah and my niece Mie. The sweetest things in the entire world.

After travelling for 30 hours I finally reached my destination. Melbu, one of the forgotten pearls of the world. Recovering from the shock of Norwegian prices, with a serious jetlag brewing, I hit the sack and went into a light coma. The next day was the day of the bachelor party, so I needed my rest and fule up for the big cahoo.

Bilde

I won’t say much about the actual party, as it’s classified information. What I can say is that we went to bed at about half past three, after a cardgame with some unusual consequences for the loser (read:the groom) , a late night soccer game, an alcohol consumption that by the book would advice us to seek help, and a search rescue, that ended up being just the search. And an unecessary one. Everyone had a blast, and Aleksander was drunk three times that day and fell asleep on a speaker in a club. A successful day indeed.

Bilde

My good friend Frode, who was travelling north for the wedding, came a week early, and we went sightseeing for a few days. In adition to the incredible Vesterålen, we have the amazing islands of Lofoten just a ferry away. As both my parents grew up there, we put on our lifewests and hit the sea. For all you travellers that haven’t paid Norway a visit, here’s a snap shot.

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As we’re guys, we had to break up the sightseeing with an activity. I’ve played football forever, and enjoy a round of golf. What do we get if we combine those sports? Footballgolf!

Bilde

We played a tourney and were competing with the children and the girls at the bottom half of the score card, but the keyword was fun. And we had fun. Not our last round. As the good host I am I let Frode win the internal competition…

After a week relaxing and enjoying the scenerie, it was time for the reason why I went back home. The wedding of Aleksander and Eva.

Bilde

We´re not spoiled with too much sun and warm weather up north, not even in the summer. The folks back home said it had been a nice day or two during the summer, so our hopes for the wedding wasn´t very high. After sketchy weather for several weeks, the sun blessed us with her presence on that one day it counted. It was a beautiful summer day, and everything went perfect. I had my best man speech, and sang a song with my brother and father. It was a perfect day! My only commitment that day, was the rings, check, and then to keep the party going until the morning. This is the proof of my sacrifice @6am

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After spending a week with Noah and Mie , I wish I had some of their energy. It´s incredible! They really managed to give uncle a workout or two 🙂 It was amazing to be back home for a week. Homemade food, family and friends, people speaking my language… but now I´m ready for new adventures. I´ve just started, and have a few continents left.

Africa next 😀

The fabulous Rio De Janeiro, and the extraordinary Buenos Aires

It´s been a quick ride through South-America, so now I´m sitting by the pavement on Copacabana. After two months I´m in Brazil, the sun is shining, and I´m waiting for my brother Jonas to arrive. Really looking forward to see what Rio has to offer.

Sitting here people-watching, you realize how many styles of running exists. You have the “laidback runner”, so laidback he almost fall backwards while running. Feet forward and upper body way back. So scared of falling forward so he´s over compensating.

You see a lot more: The “jello” style, soft knees and shaking, looks like a breakdown bound to happen. The waggler, with his head going from side to side in a strict manner. The skeleton, stiff with empty eyes; can´t believe why they chose to go for a run. The confident, with his chest a meter in front of the rest of the body. The wheel, knees straight out, too many k’s. Should I take a taxi? The walker, so slow you’d walk past them. Every movement looks like in slow motion. How is it possible to run that slow? The imaginary athlete. Run fast, shout at people to move, headset and heartrate monitor, new nike outfit and running shoes, but only last for 2k. You´ll spot them from the real athletes going back. When they´ve got it, hard, stiff legs and no more energy. They´ll change from imaginary athlete to skeleton, waggler or the wheel on their way back.

After a day in the sun we wanted to go out, check out the nightlife. Melt, in Leblon, on a sunday turned out to be a real hoot. We were the only tourists (it seemed like), and the Brazilian vibe almost shook the roof off. It was live music until midnight, and then club. Everyone was dancing, singing, just having fun. And then you had two guys at the bar, doing the head shake, if totally crazy, stamping one foot with the music, drinking and watching. Have to be Norwegian. But not for long. After one spiky Caipirinha we joined the crowd and introduced Rio to some Norwegian rythms. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a lot of fun 🙂

One of the tips I got before I went to Brazil was to visit a Brazilian steakhouse, a Churrascaria. We picked Churrascaria Palace and hoped for the best. The most frustrating thing about eating at a churrascaria, I learned, is getting full. And with all the meat flying by, it doesn’t take that long. The concept is that the waiters bring different meats around the restaurant, and offer you some. And they don´t stop. Spareribs, all kinds of beef, lambchops, lamblegs, chicken, pork, you name it. Priceless for meatlovers. What do you think was the side dish? Sushi, as much as you could eat. I just died and woke up in heaven. Put some gravy in there and you have my ultimate dream. Add great Caipirinhas and you have your night set. And i had an oyster. Not that it’s so good, but when it’s there you have to try, with a lot of tabasco that is. Everyone who knows me know that I have big problems stopping if the food is great. To say the least, been sweating for hours now.. The mother of my ex was a great cook, and an even greater food pusher. I’m like a woonded gnu in those scenarios. So full as I was after the Churrascaria, I haven’t been since her easter dinner. 🙂

After checking the nightlife- and restaurant scene, we started on our sightseeing route. First off was a visit to a favela, Rochina, the biggest one in Rio with 70.000 people. There are 950 favelas in Rio, and 20 % of the people live in one. Slaves were used in the war for the republic, and they were promised land and houses when won. History repeats it self, and they got nothing. So they built their homes from what they had, where they could, and it was the beginning of the favelas. What strikes you is that there are no east and west when it comes to favelas, they are everywhere, where ever there are room. We were driving through the rich areas and suddenly you have a favela. We were passing private schools (grade schools) that costs close to 3000 bucks a month, and on the other corner you have a favela, with an average income of 300 bucks a month. That´s diversity for you, within 100m! Earlier the favelas was run by the mafia, but now the government are taking over the territories. Was a part of the deal when they got the Olympics and the World Cup I heard. Even though the government has police in the favela, it´s still an internal justice system in the favela. You have to be on the right side with the people to move there, or build there, not the government. If a neighbor says ok, you can build another floor on top of his house. If he says no, you won´t. Not exactly building permits and inspections. No matter how tough it is to live in a favela, the community inspired me. They really do as best as they can, from what they have, and they are working hard with the electricity, garbage system and the sewer system. it´s not easy as the favela is built up, with no streets, but they find their ways.

After the favela tour we went to one of the most famous landmarks in the world. Corcovado, Cristo Redentor. It was a beatiful ride up, even though we missed the train. A spectacular view of the city. Definately a must-do when in Rio. The fog was chasing us on our way up, so we feared the worst. Luckily we just made it, and it was a special feeling reaching the foot of the statue. The view of the city, with the massive statue, it´s hard to describe how beautiful that was. One of those moments.

With Christ Redeemer out of the way we headed for the sugar loaf. Another Brazilian landmark. We had to take a cable car to get there. First you arrive on one top, before the last lap to the top of the loaf. The view is amazing, and you can see most of the city, ocean, beaches and mountains from there. You can see the most of the same from Corcovado, so if you´re not a sucker for cable cars, or just have to do all the sights, it might be enough to do the statue. Anyway, it was a beautiful view on a nice and sunny day.

After a long day of sightseeing we wanted something else, to experience the passion for football. One night at a club, suddenly they pulled out a tv at 1pm and showed a UFC match. Apparently it was a big match between a brazilian and an american, but still. What happened was that everyone was watching. And I mean everyone! The girls, the guys, the bartenders, the guards, everyone. It says something about the importance of sports in this country, so we really looked forward to our match after buying tickets to a local derby, Botafogo – Fluminese.

The match itself was not extremely entertainming, but the atmosphere was electric. I´ve been to Old Trafford, Anfield, White heart lane, and several other big stadiums, but the sound and atmosphere the relatively set few people made, was extraordinary. It was constant, and you could feel the vibrations in your body. Great fun, and an amazing experience. On our way to the stadium we also stopped by the famouse, and massive Maracana stadium. It was being prepared for the Olympics so we couldn´t see the field, but it was strange to think about that this arena, at the peak, took 199.000 people! That´s got to be some kind of a record, and it is 🙂 For us Norwegians we need to add that Aha played for more than 100.000 people here.

Not many I know have ever been to a favela. Noone I know have lived in a favela. We have. The last 5 days in rio, after stating at fancy hotels on Copacabana, we wanted to try something different. So we rented a room in Vidigal favela. It’s a hostel, but our private room was placed a block away from the hostel, in the middle of the favela. All our neighbours were locals living there. You hear a lot of the problems in the favelas. “It’s dangerous, dont’t go there. You’d be robbed and killed”. My 2 cent is that the favela isn’t more dangerous than Copacabana. I didn’t feel unsafe once, and people were friendly. You have to use common sense, as anywhere you go, but it’s a misconception that the favelas are dangerous in itself. The people that live there are normal workers that can’t afford to live in fancy appartments. They are proud of their neighborhoods, and as long as you are respectful, they will let you be a part of it. Most of the problems, not all, but most, are drug and mob related. As long as you keep away from that you should be fine. That said we only went to three favelas, and lived in one. So I can´t speak for all, but the ones we went to, we felt safe and I think we got a good look at the life in a favela.

Our appartment @ Vidigal

We had plans on going to Ilha Grande and Florianopolis, but as the weather wasn´t anything to write home about, we decided to stay in Rio. Have to come back to see more of the country later.

After close to two weeks in Rio, we checked out and set the compass for another famous South-American city. The “European” capitol of South-America, Buenos Aires. The first impression wasn´t great. The worst passport queue in the history of airports. No kidding, hundreds of meters with queue. But that first impression didn´t last for long. What a city!

We arrived at the hotel late, around 11pm. So we checked in at L´hotel in Palermo (a superb one), put our bags in our room, and asked where to go for a great steak. Argentina is known for beautiful women, and amazing steaks, and Maradona of course. La Cabrera was our arena, after the strong recommendation from Manuel, the general manager. For you that have seen Fawlty towers, it was a fun experience, as he spoke spanglish with the strong spanish accent. He even had a mustache. With his mustache he actually looked a bit like the famous Manuel. 🙂 La Cabrera did not disappoint. The meat was perfectly seasoned, the side dishes was to my taste, that means many, and teeth were unnecessary. It´s hard to say who has the best steaks, USA or Argentina. I think it´s a tie. I guess you understand, we had a lot of red meat the coming days. 😉

From the Favela in Rio to L´hotel in Palermo

After great meals you want to enjoy a great night out. So is that possible in BA? The nightlife in BA is crazy! Crazy!!! To explain it in not too many words. We went to an irish pub to have dinner at 9pm on a sunday. As it turns out, sunday IS funday. After hitting 3 clubs with some new local friends, we walked out of the last one at 10.47 am. It was a door with no signs, looked like an appartment, but behind the door was a nightclub. A secret one. Indeed a crazy experience. You can party 24 hours in BA, no problemas. The 24 hour bar next to our hotel is a witness of the true city that never sleeps. Yes, I know what you think, aren´t you too old for that? Didn´t you just turn thirty? Apparently not, or yes, but noooo 🙂

The power of people.

Why is it still people that don´t understand the power of people? It’s amazing how people can make a good place with great food bad, and how a mediocre place can be great because of the people that work there. That businesses still don’t get it, seem to amaze me every day. Luckily there’s a lot of exceptions. #someonehadaroughnightoutyesterdayorarejustsimplyinthewrongprofession

Apparently you can’t go to Buenos Aires and don’t see tango. We found two options. Either a tango club, a milonga, or a tango show.  At the milonga you’d participate, so you that have seen me dance understand that we chose the show. Cafe de los angelitos was the scene, after recommendations at the hotel and tripadvisor. And what a show! I´m not a big sucker for watching dance, but this was a spectacular performance. I need to learn tango one of these days. I don´t got any pictures, but trust me, it was great!

The night progressed to an alternativ electro concert before we hit a club. And it was like it was saturday. “Monday are the day for rest, nothing´s going on anyway”. Not in Buenos Aires. It just never stops here!

Being Norwegians, if it´s sunny, we put on our shorts. While the Argentinians had their winter and was wearing their duffel coats, we refused to wear anything with long legs. We saw two others with shorts, and hundreds with winter jackets. That´s how we roll 🙂

For our last day in BA we wanted to do something cool, something different. When in Rome…

So Polo turns out to be huge down here. Why not we thought? I tell you why not, Ørjan: You don´t know how to ride and horses don´t like you!! Anyways, we headed for the ranch outside the city. When we were driving up to the ranch you got this feeling of being a part of an American cliche. “The horse whisperer, the sequel”. Gorgeous surroundings, and hundred of horses. Our riding experience is less than nothing, and Fernando didn´t have a lot of confidence in us, even though he tried to hide it 😉 We put on the gear and got to it. As it turns out, I´m not like Lin in Shantaram, though I did rip my pants getting on the horse. Less than elegant I can say, but I got on. I actually managed to stear the horse, and was hitting the balls. I wanted to go faster and felt like I got in to it. Then suddenly the horse got enough of me, and just took off. He wouldn´t take any commands, and started to kick with his feet when I tried to stop him, and performed some small jumps. At least I managed to stay on the horse, but it couldn´t last for long. Fernando luckily got to us, but the horse still wouldn´t calm down. He held the laces, and then I jumped off. Within seconds the horse was calm again. Yep, I´m not cut out for riding, either. At least travelling educates me on all the things I can´t do 😉 After this me and my brother switched on riding the other horse, and it was easier. We got along a lot better, and I was in control again. The entire experience was extremely fun and different, though I will never be a Polo player. Recommended if you want to do something off the sightseeing-, eating- and drinking route in Buenos Aires.

After three weeks in Rio and BA, keeping the pace of my 22 year old brother, I say as my good friend Jambles. Put a fork in me, I’m done!

Mama I’m coming home

But only for a week though, Africa is up next 😉

From Central to South, the sequel

From a 16 bed dorm to a Penthouse appartment. After staying at mainly hostels and dorms for 2 months, I wanted to treath my self with a little 30th present, and checked in @ the Michael Jackson penthouse suite @ Celebrities Suites, Bogota. It´s in the north part of the city, the more posh and exclusive part. And with that, the safer part, but then also maybe the more boring part.

I had three nights in Bogota. Those days were filled with shopping and relaxation. I ate good, slept well, and didn´t stress with the tourist route. Bogota seem like a cosmopolitan city, with big diversity. Even though I´ve heard a lot about the crime and dangers in Colombia, as the cocain center of the world, I felt safe all the time, and just enjoyed the city. Still you could get a feeling of the challenges the city has. I lived in the financial district, and the security was massive around the banks. Swat teams all over the place, but maybe they also feel a bit safer now than 10 years ago 😉

siesta @parking lot outside my hotel

It gives me relief to walk around in north bogota. All these younger gorgouse girls, with the elderly gentlemen. Being 30 and single doesn’t stress me that much 😉

To and from Bogota I flew with Aviancha airlines, and it is muy bien. New planes, your own tv even on short flights, friendly personell, good food. They even picked me, and the lima passengers, out of the normal line and pushed us through check-in. Not because it was critical with time, but so we wouldn’t have to stress all the way to boarding. Full control.

Just a fyi in case anyone thinks about driving in central or south america; lanes are optional! So if you use them, and follow other rules and regulations as they were intended, you will probably get honked and yelled at. People have no patience for safe driving, it’s an insult and considered the worst kind! So be aware. Driving in bogota or lima is scarier than Nascar racing.  Take a taxi, and be sure to be on the good side with the man upstairs 😉

Entering Lima I was offered a cab before exiting to the exit hall, from one of these official taxi agencies. They wanted 42$ to take me to my hotel. I said no, walkes 20 meters and was offered a taxi for 22. I said 20, and we were on our way. #officialisalwaysascam

The girl who checked me in at my hotel was a peruvian, so I staggered along on my great, and newly aquired, spanglish. When I gave her my passport she suddenly started to talk swedish to me. To say the least I was flabbergasted. I’ve spotted 7 out of 7 swedes on my trip so far, and a few fins. Their look and english accent give them away, but I didn’t see this coming. Turns out she was studying for 1 year in sweden. Anyway, I was more than impressed with her pronunciation.

After checkin, and a quick Internet run, I had a date with Astrid, @astrid y gaston. I checked Tripadvisor, and this restaurant was just down the street, and had great reviews. Actually it´s known to be one of the best in the world, without knowing what kind of number we talk about when we say “one of the best”. Still, I was excited and very much looking forward to this meal. Only having one evening in Lima I swore to make it count. When I got to the restaurant, I looked at the menu and found the “tasting menu”. 21 courses accompanied with wine. Kinda got stuck on that, while scimming through the rest of the courses, and went for the full shebang!

The courses are divided up in five main headings. ´The ocean´, ´Lima´, ´Sustainability´, The Andes´ and ´the sweet return´. I was given a book that explained the different parts, and all the dishes. After looking in the book I realized that it was actually 23 dishes.

After just the first few dishes I understood that this would be a magical experience. The taste buds were having a fiest, and I was invited. Thaaaam!! The dishes contained everything from guinea pig and alpakka, to ceviche and shrimp claws. The sea was strongly represented, everything with a sustainable theme. This was high level art. Two notes from the experience:

Chili is underestimated in fine dining. Jeeez the peruvians know how to use it!

Strawberry sauce, orange sorbet and black pepper is a winner.

I had a three hour gastronomical orgasm, divided on 23 teasing courses, accompanied with suiting wines. Top level fine dining! I feel so satisfied! 🙂 After the meal my waiter invited me to the kitchen to meet the head chef and his crew.

I know they probably hate to have all these tourists coming back in their zone, but it was fun for me anyway. I did say how much I enjoyed their work, and it seemed like he appreciated that.

Anyway, this was part of my 30th celebration. I know that the hotell in bogota and this dinner could have fed me for two months in Nicaragua, but who cares? This is living, and tomorrow it’s back to the hostell. I love both ways of travelling. It’s all about experiences and having fun. Chelc-check 😉

After dinner I wanted to have a drink and went to 109, which seemed like a posh place. It was packed, and with red velvet everywhere. I entered, and what were they playing? Foo fighters!! This is my kind of place. After a while I met a group of peruvians, and joined them. It ended up with a big night out! Lots of fun.

Everyone I´ve met has said, stay away from lima. Nothing to do, nothing to see, only a lot of crime. I spent 10 hours there and i loved it #miraflores

Entering Cusco the next day I saw a lot of flags, reminding me of the gay flag. What is this, the gayparade? They were everywhere.

No, this is the Cusco/Inka flag. And it says something about how high the peruvians hold their Inka culture and history. After spoiling myself for a few days, it was back to the dorm. Checked in at the point hostel, which was located close to the main plaza, plaza de armas.

The first you notice when getting to cusco are all the tourist caughing. That’s becuase it’s freezing here, or people don’t know how to dress properly, you choose. My problem is I got 7 shorts and 1 pair of pants. And you can’t wear shorts here. Guess my jeans can stand 1 week without being cleaned. They haven´t been worn much until now.

Cusco is a beautiful little mountain city. It´s was the last Inka capital, and is full of culture and history. Surprisingly it´s also the party central in Peru, with a never ending nightlife. I guess that comes with it being a must-do for all backpackers in the region. Backpackers and party seem to go hand in hand.

First night in cusco i wanted to try some traditional peruvian food. I went to the inka grill, and the pan pipes were already rocking. I felt a bit of culture creep up on me while I ordered a classic shrimpdish and a pisco sour. After the night in lima, pisco sour is my new favourite drink, D-lish! As they say in Vancouver 😉

I saw an ad on the hostel for a live music club that had an alternative rock night. They flashed names like foo fightters, audioslave and u2. All of my favourites, so I made a note of the address and after dinner I was on my way. I spent a good hour finding the place. Not sure if it´s my built in GPS that´s out of service, or if it´s the Cusco layout that stinks, but I got there in the end. A local band covering top alternative rock bands, my expectations weren´t that high. The band was good, but it was not until they covered System of a down I realized they were GREAT! The night progressed to a club with a Dutch couple I met. Note: Cusco’s nightlife is not overrated, it’s really very good!

The next morning I stressed up to see the euro 2012 finale at a pub. The place was packed with people from all over the world. Great atmosphere. In the end I have to say it´s impressive of Spain, back-to-back champions, and well deserved. At the pub I met  Jordan, Valesska, and Victoria. Great peepz, and they invited me to a concert on Thursday. Jordan’s girlfriend, Valesska, is singing. Might be brewing for another big night as it´s my last in Cusco.

When you travel to Cusco there´s a lot of things to do, and numerouse beautiful spots to go to. Hikes, paintball, bungijumping, cathedral, ruins, cultural landmarks, lakes, nightlife, museums and so on. No matter what, there is one place you have to go, one trip you have to take, Machu Picchu. You can do the Inca Trail, but since my planning is less than mediocre, and I haven´t got until mid November here, I took a daytrip up. It was a long day from pickup at 6 am, until I was back at 11 pm-ish. But what a trip!

On the train I met two American ladies. Kelly and Catherine. They were in their late fifties, and Cath was living in Bolivia and Kelly just visiting her. Cath had actually been to Norway. She was backpacking through Europe in the seventies, with a total budget of $300 for six months. That´s an achievement! She paid for three nights accomodation in three months. The rest of the nights was spent in peoples homes. Travelling around mostly by hitch hiking. I could never do that, but have respect for those who can. Two very interesting women, so the train ride was done in a jiff. Spectacular views surrounding us on our way through the mountains helped as well. Incredible two hours, and a worthy warm-up for what was to come.

Pictures say more than words. I´ve been to many ruins, but the placement and quality of Machu Picchu is spectacular. On a mountain, surrounded by valleys and rivers, and even bigger mountains. It was breathtaking. Even better than I thought. After seeing a lot of ruins you get like, yes, another ruin, og another church, indeed, another rock, but this was different. If you haven´t been there, put in on your bucket list, and start planning.

The Machu Picchu watchtower

Here you see the main gate to Machu Picchu to the right, Machu Picchu Mountain in the middle, and the watchtower to the left

After walking around for a while I found out how they finance the excavation. The have a hidden cocain factory. This is a coca plant @MachuPicchu, and they are not even trying to hide it??

My last night in Cusco was spent on the concert. Valesska and her guitarist was amazing, covering Kings of Leon and a lot of great songs. After the concert we hit the city for one last night out. A lot of drinks, and two burgers, later, my stay in Cusco was over. I had a great night, and probably a better morning than these guys @InkaTeam

The peruvians are very proud of their Cusco. Everyone I talk to hold Cusco close to their heart. It’s nice to see that the history and culture is so important for an entire people. My stay in Cusco, and Peru, has now come to an end. The country and the people has surprised me, in a positive way. Hope to be back some day, to see more of this beautiful country. Thanks to all the amazing people I´ve met. You made the stay brilliant!

Next stop is Rio. I´m looking forward to putting my jeans at the bottom of my backpack, and don´t have to give them a single thoght for a while. I also hook up with my brother, Jonas, which will be great. We´ll be travelling in Brazil and Argentina for three weeks. It´s going to be a blast, and I look forward to all the funky stuff we´ll experience.

Until then, hasta luego 🙂

Pura Vida!

It´s not just me, no one can pull off zip-lining gear! 🙂

After a great time in Nicaragua we crossed the boarder to Costa Rica and headed for Monteverde. The zip-lining there is supposed to be amazing. After yet another challenging bus and shuttle ride, we arrived at Hostel Tranquilo. Our host Jesus set up our Extrema zip-lining tour, and fixed our travels the next day. We got a good rate on our rooms, and we all needed to spend the night in bed chilling after the big nights we had in San Juan. That we did! I even watched tv, for the first time since I started my travels! 🙂

We woke up the next day without knowing exactly what to expect. All we knew was that something called the Tarzan and the Superman was included. Many of the zip-lines was nice, but not too big. Suddenly that changed. Two on 550m and 600m sent us over a massive ravine. Incredible view, and a crazy experience!

Then came the tarzan. You walk up to a platform maybe 15m from the ground, and then you are sent on a sling over the ground and up to the treetops, after a little freedrop from the platform. It gave me a kick like few experienced. You´re scared and extremely excited at the same time. Great feeling!

So to the last one. A 1km long zip, where we would be strapped with our back and our feet to the line, facing down, and sent in 60-70km/h over the massive ravine. Doing the superman pose of course. One of the top 10 things I´ve done in my life! It´s a must do if you go to Costa Rica.

After the zip-lining we jumped straight on to a shuttle and left for La Fortuna, and the volcano Arenal. We arrived in La Fortuna and checked in to “the only 5-star hostel in Costa Rica”, Arenal backpacker´s. It´s really good, but it´s more expensive, so it´s more like a cheap hotel. Since they didn´t have any private rooms, or dorms, we checked in to the upscale backpacker refugee camp 🙂

It was like a sauna in the morning, but other than that it worked fine. We didn´t do much in La Fortuna, as it was a stop on the way to Panama, but we went to this great clean river, a local hangout for swimming and diving. I took a backflip from a swing, about 5m up, and didn´t land very well. At least it entertained the locals who where laughing so hard. Guess they´ve never seen a gringo do stuff he doesn´t know! 🙂

The next morning we set off for our last stop in Costa Rica, Puerto Viejo. It was a 6 hour drive, so we booked a tour with exploradores. They picked us up in La Fortuna, we went white water rafting in a river called Pequeri river (or something close to that), and then they drove us to Puerto Viejo. Brilliant way of breaking up a long bus ride. The rafting was amazing (especially for a nube like me). The river is know to be one of the top rafting experiences in the world, mostly because of the scenery, but when the river is big you get massive rafting. As we´re only starting the wet season the river was not very big, but I had a great time anyway. We rafted more than 30km, about 3 hours. Jambles, me and Paul made a bet. If anyone fell off the raft, they would have to take two rum shots when we got to PV. We were celebrating Pauls birthday, so it was a fair bet. It was Jambles idea, and 3 min after we agreed on the bet we caught a massive wave in one of the breaks, and Paul went for a swim. So two up for the birthdayboy! 😉

We arrived around 6pm in Puerto Viejo, checked in, bought some rum, and started the celebration. We met up with two friends of the south-africans from back home, Donna and Warren, and we all had a big night out, worthy of a birthday celebration. Puerto Viejo has a cool chilled vibe. Very similar to most of the smaller towns of the caribbean. A lot of rastafaris, you are asked if you want to buy weed at least every 50m you walk, it´s extremely hot and has a good nightlife. So a place you would stay a few days, but not too long 🙂

Costa-rican money is starting to irritate me. First they price hotels and stuff in usd, and give you a crap rate if you want to use local currency. All reason says that it would be the other way around, you would get a crappy rate for using foreign currency, but no. The other thing is the colonas. You get coins up to 500 colonas, which is 1 usd. This means I’m walking around like a piggy bank! You can hear me around every corner when I walk, klirr-klirr. After 24 hours I have 3 kg of coins. I’ll be thinking of starting up a scrapyard soon 🙂

Any given Tuesday in Puerto Viejo

Woke up about 9-ish. It was hot in the room, but the fan kept sending waves of heaven towards me. I grabbed my computer and checked my Internet for news and updates. Around 10-ish I felt a hunger rising, and figured I´d go out for some breakkie. A smoothie place caught my eye, and before I could say “tham I´m hungry”, a big omelette, freshly brewed coffee, and a strawberry smoothie dressed up my table. I was sitting in the shade, full and content, but still felt a bit hot. Why not go for a swim? Couldn´t find any reason why not, so I walked 50m down to the beach and dove in. The water was a bit hot for my taste, but still nice and cooling from the even hotert air. After wobbling around in the water for an hour I figured I´d walk around town and see what´s cooking. On the menu was new flip-flops, an agua grande and lunch. The food was pleasing, muy rico as they say over here. As I´m not wearing a clock anymore I asked the waiter about the time. It was a quarter to two. What does that mean? England-Ukraine on the telli. I walked over to the spotsbar, ordered una cerveza por favor, and took a seat in front of the good ol´ CRT screen. A few cervezas and some lucky english guys later, England had won their group and qualified for the QF. The sun was still shining so I grabbed my new flopps and took a stroll on the beach. The white sand on my feet felt great, the view spectacular with the endless carribbean and palm trees. I walked for an hour or so, reflecting over everything and anything, and before I knew it I was back at the place where I started. The sun started to set, so I pulled up a chair at the bar and watched the sun being swallowed by the sea.

Therapy! The next thing on my menu was a shower, and then dinner. I know I have left Mexico, but anytime is a good time for some nachos. And there was a lot of nachos!

The day started to come to an end, so I left the restaurant satisfied, and walked the short way back to the hostel. After having another update online, my eyelids were heavy, and the eyes didn´t want to be open anymore. I slowly fell into a deep sleep thinking, you´re one lucky Norwegian, and indeed I am.

Next day we headed for Panama and Bocas Del Toro. Another pearl by the caribbean sea. After throwing our backpack in our hotel room, we needed some lunch asap. No food = critical blood sugar level = one irritating not patient Norwegian. We found Johns Bakery. As it was more than 32 degrees, our prioritization was 1. Air-Con 2. quality of food. John surprisingly had both. A roast beef sandwitch and an ice tea later the bloodsugar was under control, and life was smiling again. At John´s we met two norwegian girls, Caroline and Siri. They´d been around for a few days, and told us that the place to go on this particular wednesday was aqualounge. So we did, and it was yet another a great night out. The only thing is that they should re-think the ´no shirts allowed´ policy at aqualounge

Johns bakery, a roast beef sandwitch, an ice tea and a cafe´ negro became our morning rituale. Brilliant! Just the felling of the AC hitting you in the face when you walk in every morning is worth the visit.

The view from our deck in Bocas

Bocas is not a very big island, so there are bike rentals everywhere. Me and Paul rented one each and cyckled to the other side of the island, to Playa Bluff. As with the atv I needed a mechanic after a short while. What´s up we me and these chains??

Anywho, a good portion of swearing later, greased up hands and a good 7k biking on beach sand, we arrived to an increadible beach. We were among the only ones there, and it truly felt remote and as real as it gets

Sadly we had to say goodbye to Jambles as his flight back home was a few days before ours. Me and Paul had one more day in Bocas before we left for Panama City, and our flights. The last day was spent diving. We had two dives, one with a wreck. No, not an old pirate ship, or something medival, but a ferry wreck that had sunk 15 years ago. That said it was fun, and my first wreck dive. The next one was in the playground, with a lot of colourful reef and fish. It wasn´t like Mexico, but it was a good experience none the less.

The next morning we got on the plane, and checked in at a hostel named Magnolia. Great place, with AC dorms, great beds, clean and the best restrooms so far. Beautiful AC! That´s definately needed when its over 35 degrees outside.

What are all these people looking at? is it a car race? A footall game? A parade?

No, it´s a boat passing by. @thepanamacanal

The canal was impressive, with these monsters of ships passing by with only a few feet clearence, but the ruins in panama viejo isn’t worth the visit unless you are obsessed with ruins that is.

I read an article about happiness the other day. Many think happiness is too close connected to materalistic desires, which of course is wrong. It´s quite simple. Happiness is the appreciation of what you have, while unhappiness is the frustration of everything you don´t have. If the frustration is bigger than the appreciation, you will be unhappy, and the other way around. So if you manage to be grateful for what you have, you will be happy. That´s why we have the saying ´everyone creates their own happiness´. I´m on a journey creating mine, and are enjoying every minute of it 🙂

My mother once said, ´life is not for amateurs´. There are definately some truth in that, but we all have the ability to be professionals. It just requires a fair amount of training 🙂

In Bocas we were having dinner outside and I spotted this dog sitting and staring at the ocean. He sat there for a long time, without moving, just a dog and his thoughts, and I´m sure he was reflecting over life and enjoying the calmness of the sea. Looked so peaceful

After being on the road for about a month with Jambles and Paul, I´m sad to have to say my goodbyes to them, and to central America. It´s been a blast, and I hope to see you guys in South-Africa in September. And for you Central-America, Hasta Luego, I´ll be back before you know it.

The next destination is Bogota Colombia, before Lima and Cusco, Peru is up. It´s also just two weeks until I´m meeting my brother in Rio. Very much looking forward to that.

Until next time, Pura Vida

Volcanos, surfing and birthday celebration

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The ride down to El Salvador was great. Big comfy car with legroom. Everytime we book a shuttle it´s like playing russian roulette. This time we were all-in on red and won :). As we were going to El Tunco, and not through San Salvador, we took the western scenic route. The endless pacific on one side, with large cliffs and green vegetation on shore. Beautiful! Our driver was great as well, drove safe, and was smiling the entire way. A good day for travelling!

We didn´t have any reservation, but got a room at Papaya. Known for it´s surfbums, and a surf legend, which I have no clue who is. It was a nice place, and we got $20 off each night because of our language barriers. They thought we were leaving, when we were actually just picking up our luggage and Jambles at the bus stop, and they cut the rate. First time I have ever made money on my bad spanish ;). Anyway, we came to El Tunco to learn how to surf, so we got a board and headed for the waves. A rookie mistake we did was starting off on the beach, as it´s a lot harder to surf there than on the bigger waves on the other side. Also the rip current doesn´t help, especially with a big rock in the middle of it. To sum up:

Surfing day 1: Can´t surf, do know how to swim, especially with a rip sending me to the rocks!

Surfing day 2: Bad knee, still can´t surf

I didn´t give up, so we´re planning on trying again in Costa Rica or Panama.

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After a few days of surfing and chilling in El Tunco we booked our bus ride to Leon in Nicaragua. We reserved the tickets through a travelling agent, and he said that he couldn´t give us the tickets because they were out, but he had fixed it so we could pick them up at the bus station in San Salvador when we got there. As we didn´t pay anything, that was ok. So we arrived at 2.30 am, tired and ready to sleep our way to Leon, when we realized that or tickets were sold and the bus was full, and the next one leaving in 24 hours. Because there only was a reservation, and we hadn´t paid, the tickets got sold. I felt a small rage building up and called our agent. We were in San Salvador, not the safest place in the world, in the middle of the night, with no bus and no place to stay. It says a lot about people, how they react when everything turns to shit. So this could go both ways. The same goes for how people treat others when they don´t have to be nice. The driver didn´t understand what has happened, and said the tickets had been sold. He then sent back his driver to pick us up, and take us to a different bus company, Tica. We got the option to take that bus, if they had open seats, or he would pay for our hotel and we could take the King Quality line the next day. We chose the first option, and was on a bus within 3 hours. We basically lost 5 hours, and had a hassle with the route change. Still I respect that he did what he could to help us out when we got fu…., he could have chosen to go back to sleep.

Note to self 2: if you haven’t paid for your ticket, you do not have a ticket!

The main purpose of going to Leon was to try the famouse Volcano boarding on the active volcano Zerro Negro. You hike the Volcano, takes about an hour, and then you get on a wooden board, about 1,2m x 0,4m, and board down in 30 seconds. They measure your speed, and the highest speed measured is 90km/t!!! That is SICK!

Up we went

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And down we came. So who do you think lost?

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Next round on me. I won´t even bother sharing my speed, it was truly embarressing! It was hard to keep the feet off the ground, which is kind of key! 🙂 We stayed at the Bigfoot hostel, which has a great Vibe, and the tours to the volcanos is the best there is. Or so I´ve heard. 🙂

After our big blunder with the King Quality bus we rented a private jeep for our trip from Leon to Ometepe. It was that or 4 different buses, which would decrease the margin of error quite substancially. Not willing to roule the dice we paid up and got on our way. Chris, a friend of Pauls and Jambles, from back home, joined us in Leon and are travelling with us for a week. Splitting everything 4 ways is making the comfort cheaper 🙂 Ometepe is an island made up of two huge volcanos, Madera and Conception.  The big goal of this visit was climbing yet another volcano, Madera. It´s has a lake in the crater on the top, and you can swim in it. It is a hike of 7 hours, so that would make it a great workout as well. Which is desperately needed at this point!! 🙂 Day 1 we wanted to chill and explore the island. No better way than renting an atv. It took about 200m before I needed a mechanic.

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I heard a massive bang, and thought I had broken the thing. Luckily it was only the chain lock that had broken, and it was fixed in 10 minutes, with a little ´watch-your-speed-and-drive-slower´ speech attached!

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We drove close to 2 hours on a terrible dirt road to get to a waterfall we´ve heard about. That was hard, but fun. We got there, after losing the feeling in our bum on the road, and a guy said it was a 1k hike up. We started, and if that was 1k, I´m the president of Nicaragua. It was closer to 3, and it was a steep hike. My shirt was dripping when we finally got there to see that the waterfall was more of a drissle.

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It was really beautiful,and the swim was priceless at that point, but to call it a waterfall is at best bragging.

Day 2 consisted of a Volcano hike. It´s a 7 hour hike. We had a great guide which knew more about the volcanos, the animals, the flora and the Salvadorian mafia than anyone I´ve ever met. So we got educated in rainforests, frogs, beedles, howler monkeys and the MS13, the roughest of the roughest mafia in the world, which his cousins was a part of. It was facinating to say the least. After five hours we reached the top, in the rain, wet and muddy, but we got there. It was foggy, windy and wet, so we didn´t see much, but it was a special experience.

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Coming down we got a great view of the other volcano on the island, and finally, after 9 hours, we got down and was picked up. I was dead tired, but we were satisfied!

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Our next destination was San Juan Del Sur, where we would meet up with 3 Canadian girls we met at Ometepe, Jenae, Kristen and Lyndsay. It was a short ride, and we arrived at Pacha Mama at midday. A great hostel in the middle of the city, I recomend it to everyone visiting. Great place, great staff, great travellers! This was also going to be the place where I celebrated my big 3-0, Yaiks!

Us guys kickstarted the day with a fishingtrip. An amazing experience. Our capitan Enrique, with the co-pilot Thomas, showed us around, and we hauled in a great catch. And I finally got my Norwegian fisherman instinc confirmed after a few swings and misses! 🙂

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I kept getting Black Tuna, which is fun, but they´re not that big. Then finally a big Jack wanted my hook, and that was the end of him! We got maybe 50kg of fish, with the biggest ones being about 7-8kg (based on my very own estimations) 🙂 Dolphins were jumping by the boat, and it turned out to be the perfect start of my birthday.

When we got back, Enrique made som fillets out of a Jack and a Tuna, and we went to a restaurant and got a deal where they would cook it for us later that night. The girls joined us and we had a great meal. I got the birthsay song in english and spanish, and I got a cake! The Canadian girls whipped together an amazing cake with limited kitchen supplies at the hostel. Impressive!! I got a shot from the guys. It was a Jegerbumb, but they had switched the red bull with beer, and the jeger with rum. Easily on of the top 3 worst shots ever! 🙂 Suddenly a big group of Americans came to the restaurant, and joined the party. We kept going until early morning. A perfect marking of the end of my youth, with great friends. Thanks to everyone. I appreciated that very much!! 🙂

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I´ve heard about this show that was going on in town. An underground scene with world class acts. A special treat if you want some class A entertainment. The perfect late night performance. After scanning the bars all around town we found it, and it was, to use the too well exploited American expression, awsome! 😉

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Featuring Jambles “You can call me Al” Charton, and Joe the (norwegian) plumber! 😉

The next day I met this guy on the sidewalk. A local street artist named Arez. You have all these people selling glasses, necklesses, cloth, and so on, everyone sell the same stuff, probably from the same manufactor. They all just try to make a living, and I respect that, but you can’t buy from everyone. Especially when you´re travelling with very limited space. Arez though had a speach about his art, ceramic paintings. He had a painting of the Ometepe volcanos, and the surroundings. You can see an eruption with the tears falling for the people that died. He had a story, and he sold it good. He put an effort into it, and walk the streets to sell it, so i bought my first ceramic painting ever. That said, I don´t have room for it so I donated it to the hostel.

This is from the wall on one of the toilets in the Bigfoot hostel in Leon

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Be the change!

Now we are heading for Costa Rica, and say our Hasta Luegos to Nicaragua. We had a great time, and I hope to be back one day. Next stop is Monteverde to do the zip-lining there. Heard it is worth the bumpy travel.

Pura Vida 🙂