Posts Tagged ‘Travels’
Oh, the fresh breeze from the sea mending with the warm evening air…
The seducing sound of waves, crashing against the shore beneath the cliff’s edge. The swaying palm trees, the pretty hibiscus plants and the smell of cinnamon, ginger, clove and coconut…
It is not until now I have had a chance to sit down and breath it all in. To be honest, in some parts of India I prefered to hold my breath completely.
The last two weeks have been some of the most hectic in my life.
From arriving New Delhi at the celebration of Diwali, risking our limbs for the sake of firecrackers and traffic, getting up at 5 every morning to see the sunrise, the Taj Mahal, catching flights, trains or chanting the morning prayers in an Ashram…
To trying to sleep in stinky crammed forth class train compartments or on local buses, being the only Westerners, being starred at, hassled and hit on.
India really is as crazy, colourful, stinky, frustrating and beautiful as they say.
I already know I will be back for more. That a week spent between New Delhi, Varanasi and Agra and four weeks travelling the state of Kerala and Goa does not do the country justice. But it’s a start.
I am travelling with Mikaela now, another single traveller whom I met in a few different places in South East Asia. Besides being blond and from the North in Sweden, we share a lot of interests and ideas. In fact, travelling together has surpassed all my expectations and I feel really grateful and glad to be in her company.
Happiness is only real when shared, right?
We were physically and mentally exhausted when we arrived to the charming beachside town Varkala. We instantly knew this was the right place to put our heavy backpacks down for a while, settle into a nice little beach hut, pamper ourselves with some ayurvedic massages and delicious fresh seafood.
And meet other travellers!
As great and interesting as India is, a night spent amongst like-minded Westerners, drinking and laughing does miracles to the soul.
It’s just a shame that the drinks seem to multiply with the time and that the energy of the night before always seem so distant in the morning.
So that you say, miss the apparence of the holy Dalai Lama, in Varkala with just ten minutes!!? (big bummer!)
Oh well, gives me a reason to come back.
I didn’t fall instantly in love with India.
It’s been building up inside of me and growing every day since.
Like all everlasting love-stories.
In my sleeping car to Sapa there is a 65 year old Japanese house wife, travelling by herself. She keeps a journal of food she has enjoyed and friends she has made. She is radiant like a sunrise and hopeful like the sky.
On my bus in Thailand there are two girls communicating in sign language and I want to tell them how beautiful and brave they are but all I can do is smile and accept their smiles in return.
At the youth hostel in Hanoi three drunken Australian women offers me a drink and their home addresses.
In a tribal village in North Vietnam, Lily, 18 year old, carries her first born on her back. She giggles when I tell her that I’m single at the age of 30.
A silver-haired American woman on my flight to Phnom Penh also had children when she was 18. Now she is on a mission to work with HIV-positive children in Cambodia.
In my inbox there are messages from my closest girlfriends, asking me for advice on fears and feelings and all I want to do is light their spark and blow air into the flames.
Women will depend on women and the World will depend on us.
My trip to Cambodia was a total whim.
Not to my surprise, I leave in the same kind of unorganized manner…
I have changed my plans so many times in the last two weeks I have forgotten what route I had laid out in the first place.
I was loving the North of Thailand, and I think I would have loved Laos even more, but making the crossing over the rivers, mountains and jungle to Vietnam would have been too time consuming albeit beautiful.
After a few wonderful days trekking the hillsides of Pai, and a wild night pub crawling the bars, I caught a nightmare of a speed bus to Chiang Mai and a way smoother flight down to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
I had been talking to my friend who lives in the Cambodian coastal town of Kampot about either coming to see him in November, or lending his house in October. After all the changes I made to my itinerary I did neither.
Instead my one week experience of Cambodia turns out to be one of my traveller through’s: divided between the two major cities Phnom Penh and Siem Riep.
In Phnom Penh I have been hanging out with the expats, people that have come here from all over the World to teach English or work with one of the hundreds NGO’s. The hotel I’ve stayed at, Sundance Inn & Saloon, run by an old Texan man, seems to be the meeting and melting pot for all these very diverse characters. I don’t blame them, the pool area is great, the beers and burgers are cheap and everyone is welcome. And believe me when I say that there is an interesting bunch of people.
I also had a few nice walks along he river, checked out the amazing Phnom Wat temple, ate undefined but delicious food at the night market, had some of the best ice cream since my last visit to Italy and admired a Nations love for its king, as flocks of people gathered by the Royal Palace to share the loss.
In Siem Riep I met two aussies which I spent some days and nights with, checking out the wonder of Angkor Wat in the sunrise, the bustling night markets and the pub street with it’s surprisingly nice little restaurants.
The time spent on the bus between the cities offered some contemplation, and while we passed through stretches of wet fields and dusty small villages with the cutest children in the world, biking home from school or playing with hens and chickens, I thought about how I would have liked to have gotten more involved.
Cambodia has suffered so much and the wounds from the Khmer Rouge regime, ending no more than 33 years ago, is still fresh in people’s hearts. It is estimated that almost 2,5 million, a forth of the population, were brutally murdered in the genocide that lasted four years. The least I could do was pay my respect with a visit to the Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields, which have now turned into a tranquil memorial site with in-depth raconteurs and photographs.
At the Genocide Museum there was also one of the men that has survived, but only after being brutally tortured and emotionally bruised for life, having lost everything and everyone he cherished. He was probably over 80 years old, his eyes were pale blue, almost sightless. Or it could have been the tears that started blinding my own. I took his hand and bought his book for 5 dollars.
Taken by the day’s event I needed to unwind with some cheerful chats and chew’s. And that’s exactly what the restaurant opposite Sundance is called.
It turned into a night with of interesting conversations over some very dubious wine and the watery blend they call beer.
I was supposed to leave with a bus this morning. Having read everywhere that Scandinavians need not worry about visas to Vietnam, they could get it on arrival, I was assured I could just jump on the bus. But the bus company insisted that I should get it before hand, that there was no such service at the border. Neither the Swedish embassy in Ho Chi Minh or Stockholm could answer my question and my friends only had experience of arriving at the airports.
So I was left with no choice but to apply for a visa for 40 USD, stay the day, and catch the night bus to Ho Chi Minh at midnight.
This could have been a great opportunity to support or volunteer at one of the 40 NGO’s mentioned in the booklet Stay Another Day in Cambodia but in all honesty, I ended up just hanging out by the pool, chit-chatting with the crew, drinking more beer and playing with the dogs.
Often times, plans change for the better.
See you in Vietnam.
It’s the day of departure.
My bag is packed, my boarding pass is printed.
I have booked a place to stay for the first night, a spiritual little retreat in Ubud, right next to where I will go for yoga classes.
I am so excited!
Again, a feeling of gratitude fills my being.
This last couple of days I have received so much love, I feel like my heart is brimming and ready to spill into the World.
I have stayed with Ursula, my grandfather’s wife, and we have enjoyed wonderful little quiet breakfasts with soft classic music playing in the background, talked about life and toasted in Champagne. She showed me photos from when she and my grandpa were in Bali, Pakistan and India, 30 years ago. Priceless!
In 3 days I have managed to have lunch with Anja, cuddled with her newly born and picked up her son Aston from kindergarten, met up with my room-mate Lina from the school years who was in Stockholm for the weekend and got a pretty bracelet for my upcoming 30th, and even seen my best childhood guy friend Fredric for a quick hug at the Central Station.
I have also attended a traditional Swedish crayfish party, with hats, snaps and the whole shebang. It was a surprise party for a girlfriend who is going to New York to study.
And Stockholm offered a wonderful treat as me and a few friends were having a vegetarian dinner buffet at the super cosy Herman’s café on Södermalm on Saturday night; a stunning view with fireworks over Gröna Lund.
My friends joked and said they had organized the fireworks, just for me.
I got a pretty heart and lovely card from my girlfriend Beatrice and a self-made necklace from her Jamaican husband Fabian.
Yesterday I ran around the city for hours and bought smart travel gear and electronic equipment that I needed, but also had time for a last coffee with my best friend Bibi and endless hugs and kisses.
I need to say goodbye to this little Mac for six months, which is a good buddy and one I will miss a lot, but I think this trip is just too long and wild for a computer.
I will try to keep up the blog, but don’t count on much.
Instead, I am going back to my roots with a traditional diary, pen and paper.
Thank you so much for reading!
Love and Light,
Im on the train from Hudiksvall to Stockholm. A route I’ve taken a thousand times.
But with me I’ve got flight tickets to Indonesia, South East Asia and India, trips I’m taking for the first time.
The train is fast and quiet. Outside the grey autumn sky meets green fields and yellow tinted trees. Fall is definitely here. I’m on my way toward 6 months of summer.
Friends and family wish me a good trip and tell me how envious they are of my travels…me, I’m trying to remember why I should leave.
I’ve been too tired to express my gratitude over the last couple of weeks.
But believe me when I say I feel utterly happy and loved.
Showing my family around Oslo was wonderful and Saturday night we had an amazing dinner with my two room mates Charlotte and Maria at Restaurant Fjord which is just next door to Hotel Savoy and therefore good friends of mine. Don’t know if I’ve ever had a 4,5 hours dinner before but we got at least 6 dishes, 5 different glasses of wine, 2 desserts, coffee, delicious macaroons and a constant refill on the champagne. And lots of hugs before we left. There is even a picture of my mom holding a scribbled note with a heart and the restaurant manager’s telephone number, just for fun. We ended the night with a drink at the tallest building’s Sky Bar.
Obviously I took pictures of every dish and some great ones from the day we spent sightseeing, but I just realized now I put them in another computer with the ambition to blog before I left mom’s. Now it turns out I prioritized hanging out with friends, rounds at the pub, biking, visiting grandma and late evening Skype calls with Cape Town.
I found this picture of the sign I gave to mom to thank her for her open heart and doors. It hangs in her kitchen now: “Mom’s Hotel – Always Open” I also gave my brother a pillow with the text: “Happiness is having what you want – and wanting what you have” He smiled a little over my fascination with quotes and deep wonders – my brother is one of those people that just lives and spreads joy naturally, he doesn’t need to be told what happiness is.
I was also grateful because on the way back from Oslo we stopped by my dad’s house where my other grandmother and her husband also lives. Dad had made a big effort and prepared a three course dinner with wine, so again, a lot of eating and lots of photographs that I’m not able to show you.
Just believe me when I say, that the photos are beautiful, but reality is better.
I WILL blog before I go, but first awaits three days in Stockholm and more time with loved ones.
I’m sitting in Malin’s living room, listening to the rain picking on the window pane. I’m alone as she took a train to our home town this morning.
The same town that my mother, brother and his girlfriend left this afternoon. Soon they will rush in here with luggage, loud and lively after their 8 hours road trip.
But now, it’s just me and the rain.
I need this moment to collect my thoughts.
It was my last work day today, which was strange, because even though we had a farewell gathering for me with cake, gifts and hugs, i still can’t believe I won’t set foot there for seven months.
As tired as I am after the last week’s stress and overtime, I will miss walking through the hotel door in the morning, feeling the smell of croissants from the kitchen as I have my first cup of coffee and get ready for the many encounters of the day.
I needed this time in Oslo to remember how great routines are, but now I need to remember something else.
Something that can only come from the challenges of the travels I have ahead of me; moving from place to place, feeling weary, feeling alone amongst hundreds of people but still connected, the locked-up thoughts and emotions that begin to surface.
Am I prepared? Not at all.
But Malin and I sat in this couch together yesterday and had warm scones and tea and talked for hours. And we agreed on this:
Whatever we encounter in life we find a way to deal with.
Please remind me, when I forget.
The last breath of summer came with a steady glow of sunshine.
We had almost lost hope, but that summer feel finally set in and made all the wait worth while.
I’m reminded how much I love this season that is lurking in the trees:
The slow shift of colour on leaves, the fresh breeze.
The changes of nature, inside and outside of myself.
But this year, I won’t be here for my two favourite months of the year; September and October.
I will be in humid and hot South East Asia.
If only I could take this air with me…
It was the perfect temperature on Sunday evening when Maria and I lazed around Grunerlökka and Grönland, hung out in the park with friends, had Campari and ginger beer until the sky turned pink.
If only I could take my friends with me…
With one more week before I go, I am beginning to realize that this is happening. It’s all paid and prepared: the tickets, the insurance, the vaccine and the visas. The only thing that remains is the packing. And the actual trip.
I am staying with Malin for this last week and she has been a life saver. Not only does she keep my nerves in check, she will also lets me store some stuff at her place for the seven months I am away. And when my mom, brother and his girlfriend comes on Friday, we can all borrow the apartment.
I might be able to take Malin with me actually…as she is thinking about coming down to Cape Town in February or March. I’m already thrilled to share it with her.
First though, we will enjoy these last summer days together.
And I will breathe as much air as possible.
August 3d. I leave September 3d.
I know it wouldn’t matter how much I planned, packed or prepared for this trip. I know it will bring about a change.
And change is scary. The present is safe.
2 years ago I longed to get away. Now, I could easily go about the same tracks for another year. But what good would that do?
I had to talk to a certain person, to be reminded again.
Of the wonder, and the meaning of it all;
To keep going, to keep growing.
To keep holding on to love, to keep letting go of fear.
The last couple of days have been sunny, but today the sky is grey.
I don’t mind though.
The sun shone on me and my visiting friends.
Pontus, Patrik and Michael are three friends from Stockholm, that were passing through Norway as a part of a summer road trip. They had hoped to see majestic Norwegian fjords but I recklessly informed them that those fjords they had seen pictures of, are stretched along the west coast of the country, a ten to fifteen hours drive from Oslo. They only had two more days of vacation so they decided to stay and see the city of Oslo instead.
Looking back now, I don’t think they were disappointed.
I had booked them into the hotel I work at, Clarion Collection Hotel Savoy, which has one of the best locations in Oslo. From there we walked Karl Johan, to the beautiful white marble-stoned Opera-house, via Akershus fortress (originally built to protect Oslo from us Swedes – these days they are quite happy that we are here working) down to the Wharf of Aker Brygge and back to the hotel, before we headed to the area of Grunerlökka, to the best tapas place in town, Delicatessen.
We shared a great meal and wine, along with great conversations, before we walked along the river to BLÅ – the only place you should be on a Sunday night.
The Frank Znort Quartet club can not be explained, only experienced, but please check out these videos to get an idea.
It got late, but we were still fit for making the most of Monday.
The guys rented city bikes from the tourist office and I already had mine. We teamed up with my friend and colleague Karoline, and biked out to Bygdöy peninsula.
There are plenty of museums to see there, but we had too little time, so we focused on a great lunch at Lanternen, before me and Karoline caught the ferry back into the city centre and I had to start work. Meanwhile, the guys checked out the awesome Vigelands Sculpture Park and had dinner at the restaurant with the most beautiful view over the city, Ekeberg Restaurant
Tuesday morning we met at the National Gallery and spent the last couple of hours together, meandering the museum with painting spanning from the Antique to early 1900’s. And of course, one of the World’s most famous paintings, the Scream, by Norwegian Edward Munch.
I felt so comfortable having my friends around and I would have loved for them to stay, but they had a long ride home so we hugged goodbye and promised to meet up in Stockholm.
Completely un-expectantly, they gave me gifts: the most beautiful white roses, a box of chocolates, quality Fair Trade fruit-tea and my all-time favourite wine; South African Allesverloren.
I was stunned.
It just seems the sun is always shining on me.