2011 South East Asia #7 Malaysia – Borneo, week 1, People, rivers and jungle

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The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Borneo went smooth. But not everything in the world went so smooth. While in the air there was a earthquake outside the coast of the Philippines. It had a magnitude of 6.4 on the Richter scale and there was also a tsunami warning issued. Luckily no tsunami came but I remember seeing this on the news when I had landed. After a smaller stray on the airport in search of an ATM I finally was on my way to my hotel. Turned out I had struck a real deal on the hotel. Turned out to be a 5 star hotel, called Sutera Harbor Resort. At first I thought the taxi took me to the wrong place but it turned out to be the right place. I had a small suite with a fantastic view of the golf course, if you are interested in golf that is. That evening I had dinner at the hotel, I kind of regretted that because it was not a good deal for me. I guess getting good deals on expensive hotels has it’s downsides sometimes. After dinner I texted Zera (whom I met in Thailand some weeks ago) telling her that I had arrived.

The next day I spent the morning and mid-day with doing nothing more or less around the hotel pool. Reading the newspaper, drinking a beer and just enjoying life. In the afternoon Zera called and asked if I wanted to join her and some friends on a trip to a nearby island. Sure, why not I thought. She picked me up at the hotel an hour later or so and off we went. Turns out that tourists pay the double fee on the ferry to the island, so we made a temporary arrangement so I became a Malaysian citizen through marriage. We arrived on a small pier and from there it was just a quick walk to a very nice beach. After a couple of hours there we went out for food on a fancy restaurant, it was one of Zeras friends birthday, but she did not tell me that before hand. After dinner we went out for some drinks in a karaoke bar and NAME HERE asked if I wanted a beer. Sure I said, why not. He asked if a beer tower was okay. “What is that?” I asked. I was soon to find out.

A beer tower is a portable beer keg with a tap more or less. Filled with 4.6 liter of beer. I thought it was for all of us, but it turned out it was just for me. I didn’t want to be rude so I drank it all. Well, the others helped a bit, with one glass each or so. Then we went for a “Chinese McDonalds” as Zera called it. Chinese fast food which was very nice.  It was a good night out, the day after I skipped breakfast and tried to stay in bed as long as possible until I really had to go up since I needed to check out from my hotel. Ove was due to arrive in Borneo the next day and we was to change location to something little more affordable. I found a nice hostel called Borneo Gaya Lodge along Jalan Gaya, or Gaya Street. This place, the street that is, was according to various sites on the internet a popular location for backpackers.

That night Zera brought me out to a pier where there was a lot of small restaurants with very much food. Some of the dishes I remember, like “fish fingers” which was some kind of pepper fruit stuffed with minced fish and cooked. Extremely spicy. Then we had some fried chicken, rice of some kind, some satay-like chicken and some more spicy stuff. All in all, very good, but very hot!

When Ove arrived the day after we mostly chilled and had a couple of beers in a nearby pub, playing pool. I still have some of the tokens from the pool table at home. The next day me and Ove went out to explore the town a bit and to find us some adventure. We had heard there was good white water rafting to be had so we sought out an agency that could book us for some the next day. Eventually we found one more or less right next door to our hostel and we booked for the next day!

The following day we had to get up early. First we had a couple of hours of bus trip, then we changed from bus to a clunky old diesel powered train that ran on very thin tracks through Borneo’s jungle. Finally we arrived at the white water rafting site and got our safety instruction, some testing of the raft and some final instructions before our adventure on the river begun. That was a full day of pure fun! We got to know a danish girl called Nathja, who stayed at a hostel next to ours and we decided to meet after the rafting for some beer. Our guide on the river also wanted to join, bragging about how good beer drinker he was. Who are we to resist such a challenge?

During the evening some guy from Brazil turned up with his didgeridoo, that was totally random but it turned in to an unforgettable evening in the end. The day after me and Ove set out on a quest to find some hiking outfit since we had decided to climb Mount Kinabalu. We booked the climbing same day as we booked the white water rafting. We found a store in a shopping mall that had what we needed, and if we joined their customer club we would get some discount on some items, so we gladly signed up. In the end we managed to reach a premium level as customer and was awarded 5 watches. Probably not the best watches in the world. We gave away those watches to people at the hostel.

Next day we left Kota Kinabalu for a place called Sabah Tea Garden, a tea plantation not to far from Mount Kinabalu national park. To get there we took a taxi, it proved to be a quite long journey that took several hours on snaky roads. Finally we arrived at Sabah Tea Garden, or so we thought. Turned out there was a good 2 kilometer of walking before we actually arrived at the actual place. I didn’t mind, the scenery was nice and we could see Mount Kinabalu looming on the horizon. After checking in to our small cottage named Alfred Dent. Nothing much happen that evening, but in the morning we went up early to see the sunrise that was said to be beautiful. Unlucky for us it rained in the morning. After breakfast we went on a guided tour on the tea factory and in the afternoon we took a small jungle trek up on a nearby peak. It was a good opportunity to see if our trekking outfits would do the job. And they did. During the trek we got to see a gigantic caterpillar and the flower Rafflesia, the worlds largest flower.

The following day we decided to relocate to a place called Poring Hot Springs which was a quite odd place to arrive in. The road just abruptly ended (I’ve heard it’s completed now). Then there was some hotels around the hot springs and not so much else. We checked out the hot springs but didn’t bath in them because the place was crowded. Instead we set out on a small trek again to find a cave that we had seen signs about. Turned out the cave was quite hard to access so we abandoned that idea and went back to have dinner. Before we went to Poring Hot Springs we briefly visited the small town of Ranau in search for internet connection to check some flights, but internet was down for the moment, that happens sometimes.

2011 South East Asia #6 Malaysia – Kuala Lumpur

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The flight from Krabi Airport left sometime around lunch and I landed in “KL” a few hours later. I remember the immigration process was smooth and that I read some signs telling arrivals that hippies was not allowed in Malaysia. Getting from the airport into town was easy. I had booked a hotel not too far from Petrona Towers. First day I was a bit tired so I only took a short walk around the neighborhood after checking in to the hotel. I spent the evening researching the Batu Caves which was my grand plan for the next day.

Getting there was easy, from Sentral I took a komuter train on the red line to the station called Batu Caves. Taking the train there cost me about 2 or 3 Malaysian Ringits, which equals 0.4-0.5€. going there with some kind of travel agency would become very expensive I had learned from my research. When I arrived the first thing I saw was this huge green and gold statue, and then I saw more and more of them. I saw temple like structures everywhere. And a set of stairs that looked both long and steep. Suddenly someone bumped into me, turns out to be a Japanese girl trying to catch everything in one picture. We started talking and decided to keep each other company for a while. This place is full of different Hindu temples, and we’re not even inside the “cave area” yet. At one such temple we witnessed what I guess was the end of a ceremony. I always feel uneasy around religious places like this since I don’t want to be disrespectful to the people worshiping or do something that would be disrespectful to the religion but here it seemed like for a small fee the gods and goddesses could would turn a blind eye to tourists false moves.

There is also something called the Batu Garden in this area. We were about to enter when a guy came out telling us not to, it’s just a restaurant to which you pay an admission fee and you get to see some kind of performance and then there is some shops inside as well. We decided not to go in there then. After having walked around the outside for a while I longed to walk up the stairs and into the caves but the Japanese girl was hesitant since she both was afraid of heights and was claustrophobic so we decided we should split up. Right below the stairs the gigantic golden statue of Murugan (a Hindu diety) is standing, reaching over 42 meters above the ground. And so my ascent begun up the giant stairs. It was really hot despite being a bit cloudy, I was happy I had bought a large bottle of water earlier. Reaching the top of the stairs demanded some sweat but I made it. It was way cooler inside the caves. And filled with even more temples, or shrines is maybe a better description.

It’s a pretty impressive place, Batu Caves, and after having walked around and looked at everything I could I decided it was time to leave. So I headed for the train station again, paid the ticket and went on board the train. There I started talking to a guy named Duncan (from New Zealand) and soon another guy joined us, Marcus, from Australia. It’s funny how you meet people all the time when you travel alone. Anyway, we decided to go back to Sentral together and then go to China Town (or Petaling Street) and check it out. It was about lunch time anyway and there was supposed to be very good food available in China Town. I remember the food indeed was very good, I had some kind of chicken curry and a beer. We had a look around and then decided we should meet up again later in the evening and have some beer. Turns out Marcus and Duncan’s hostels were in the Bukit Bintang area, which kind of is a bit like Kuala Lumpurs equivalent to Khaosan Road in Bangkok.

Hours later we meet up, and even more people from the hostel where we meet joins in. We are a merry bunch now and heads out to town to grab something to eat. We end up in some small restaurant somewhere in Bukit Bintang. Nothing special, just a nice place to hang out. Later in the evening some of us decide to go to Petrona Towers to try to catch the light up building on photo. So here I am in a taxi with a guy from New Zealand, one girl from Hungary and another girl from Germany, 4 people that just met. I like how the backpacking culture brings people together. We arrived at Petrona Towers and I managed to get a decent shot of it. It’s at times like this that I wished I had a better camera and was a better photographer. Well, I have a better camera now than I had back then, but I think I’m still as bad as photographer! 😉

When done taking pictures this funny little guy approaches us and wants to sell us “real Rolex watches”. I doubt Rolex does this kind of street business so I declined the offer. When no one wanted watches he picked up iPhones and Android phones out of his pockets. A versatile man no doubt. When he understood we did not want to buy anything he walked away and brought his business to some other tourists who where there doing the same as us. Taking pictures of the towers. When done we started walking back and passed a shopping mall with a Marvel Comics store in it. It was quite nice to look at all the things in there but I didn’t buy anything.

Around midnight I felt I had had enough for one day so I decided to walk back to my hotel. It was not that far away and it was still warm outside. Walking back I started to think maybe I should move on, go to Borneo instead? Borneo was the main goal of my trip to Malaysia. Said and done, back at the hotel I booked my flight and booked a hotel that seemed nice, with it’s own golf course mind you. The next day I checked out and headed for Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2, the AirAsia terminal for my flight to Borneo.

2011 South East Asia #5 Thailand – Back and forth

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Yet another early morning for me, but I had to get to the airport to catch my flight to Phuket, Thailand. The flight went well and at Phuket Airport I got myself a taxi to take me to Ao Nang in Krabi province. Or to be honest, it was more like 10-15 minutes outside of Ao Nang in some kind of sleepy village. I can’t seem to recall the name of the village now, but the hotel was really nice. I was supposed to stay here for a few nights and just relax and wait for my friend Ove to come over. At the moment he was living in Koh Lanta but had got fed up with it and wanted to do something else. Also, Oves friend Michael was supposed to arrive in a few days too in Krabi so the place was ideal for some resting and doing nothing.

At the hotel I met a lot of nice people, two Swedish sisters who didn’t realize I was Swedish also until I asked why we were speaking English. I also met an older couple from Ireland who was there to celebrate their 50 year long marriage and a couple from London who had sold everything they own, quite their day jobs to travel the world. The whole bunch of us took some tuk tuk’s into Ao Nang one evening to have some dinner and try to see if we could find something at the night market. I didn’t buy anything, but it was nice to walk around for a while. Ao Nang is a place where a lot is going on all the time. A busy place. And then one day Ove finally arrived. I think it was 2 days before Michael was supposed to arrive. We traveled to Krabi Town together where we met up with one of Oves friends from Koh Lanta and had a night out. Krabi Town is a quite boring place but there are some nice places to party at. We ended up in the bar where the guy from Job 2 Do use to hang and when we were about to go, he actually came there.

Next day we went to pick Michael up at the airport and brought him back to the hotel. It was Michaels first time in Thailand and he was anxious to get out and do something fun. We ended up in a local bar with only thai people. There was some live band playing and quite loud generally. I remember some guys inviting us to their table and offering us drinks of Johnny Walker and coke, mostly Johnny Walker though. At closing time we discovered there was no taxis available, that discovery two girls next to us also made. Turned out they were staying at the same hotel as us. So we started walking back to our hotel. Turns out the girls was from Kota Kinabalu on Borneo, Malaysian side of Borneo. Borneo was part of my plans, I will go there later on during my trip so I exchanged number with one of the girls, Zera.

The next day it was time for us to leave, we had made plans to go to Koh Samui and then later Koh Phangan. To be honest, I don’t seem to remember how we got to Koh Samui but I’m pretty sure we took a bus to Surat Thani and then the ferry to Koh Samui. It was just a travelling day and so it got lost to me somehow. Anyway, we arrived to Chaweng Beach, Koh Samui in the afternoon and went to look for a place to stay. The year before me and Henrik had stayed at a nice little hotel right across the street from McDonalds but the only room available they wanted an insane amount of money for. So we found us another place to stay right over a bar. Not the most quiet place maybe. We only stayed at Koh Samui for one night before we proceeded to Koh Phangan.

We arrived right in between the full moon so no full moon party for us, but there was a black moon party that we attended. It was in no way as big or fun as the full moon parties are but there were still a lot of partying going on. We stayed at a place called Beer Bungalows (where me and Henrik had stayed the year before). We took a day in Haad Rin and at the Haad Rin beach before we decided that we should go back towards Krabi area again. We took the boat from Koh Phangan to Surat Thani and during the trip over the weather started to get nasty but we arrived safe and sound. Then we had a very boring trip to Ao Nang again. We had booked a hotel online that looked nice but when we arrived the hotel was a real disappointment. There were nasty stains on the sheets and mold in the bathroom. We only stayed the night in that place, first thing in the morning the day after we started a hunt for a better place to stay. Turned out all places were fully booked more or less so we ended up at a Blue Village hotel in the end. That same day we went to the shooting range and tried some guns just for fun. I was growing restless though and Ove and Michael wanted to go climbing on Railey Beach which I didn’t fancy so I decided it was time for me to leave.

2011 South East Asia #4 Singapore – A quick visit!

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I was a bit disappointed with Bali, I didn’t get the experience I wanted there. I think this was mostly because of the failure with the surfing. Maybe I should have tried harder, I don’t know. My next destination was Singapore. I took an early flight from Bali to Singapore and landed around lunch time. Getting out from the airport was quick, I getting a cab was also easy despite that I had read that getting a taxi in Singapore was one of the hardest things you could do. I asked the driver to take me to a internet cafe downtown so I could print my hotel reservation and the address to the hotel. I paid the driver and asked if he could wait for me and he said yes. But when I was done with my printing he was gone. So there I was, somewhere in Singapore and no one to drive me to my hotel. I begun a quest to get a new cab. Although I saw plenty of taxis driving by, none of them seemed interested in stopping and pick me up. Eventually I found one.

After checking in to my hotel I wanted something to eat. I found a small restaurant in a street corned and had some really nice food and a huge beer. After that I decided to go to the only place I really wanted to visit in Singapore. Raffles Hotel. While staying at Raffles Hotel was a bit out of my budget I could at least go there and have a Singapore Sling in the bar. I got myself a taxi after some trial and error, but something went wrong in the communication and the driver said: “Don’t understand! Good bye!” and drove off. I managed to get a new one but he dropped me like 2 blocks away from Raffles Hotel. No biggie, I just walked the last part and it was quite nice actually. When I arrived at the hotel I headed for the bar, but it was closed for the moment. But the outside bar was open. finally I got to order my Singapore Sling. The drink was nice but way to sweet for my taste. I tried some local beers as well. When I was satisfied I went back to the hotel, booked a flight to Phuket and a hotel. My mission in Singapore was done! I had had a Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel.

2011 South East Asia #3 Bali – Sight seeing

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I over slept! I turned off the alarm on the phone! Then some other phone started to ring. The one in the hotel room. It was the lobby calling me to remind me that I had an excursion today. The driver was there too. I grabbed some clothes and more or less got dressed on my way down to the lobby. And there he was, the man I had struck a deal with the day before. Even though I was late he was smiling and very nice, I apologized and explained I had been drinking a bit the day before and he was okay with that. We we’re not that late and besides, he said, some of the places where better to see not to early in the morning anyway. Well, I don’t know, I have nothing to compare with. On the way I grabbed some food and off we went. The driver presented himself as Madée, or Madé, which was a quite common name on Bali obviously. The restaurant owner i  Sanur was also named Madé. I might be wrong on the spelling here.

The first top was a place called Mandala Suci Wenara Wana, maybe more commonly known as Ubud Monkey forest. Madé got me some mini bananas that I could feed to the monkeys which were quite cheeky and rather stole bananas than waited for them to be handed over. The temple it self was pretty cool. Built in lava stone some 1500+ years ago most of it was covered by green moss it was a quite spectacular sight to see. I tried to get some good pictures at some kind of bridge but found a tourist woman trying to sneak into all of my pictures there. Hrmf!

After have spent some time at the temple grounds we continued our trip through Bali. We went to see the famous rice terraces, or some of the famous rice terraces at least. They look more spectacular on the pictures I’ve seen, the same pictures that made me to want to go there. In reality they were not so great. Well, they look cool but not that cool. And the locals around where quite annoying trying to sell souvenirs to me at all costs. We left that place quite quickly. On our way away from the rice terraces we got stuck in one of Balis infamous “police controls”. My driver however managed to convince the officers that there was no point in doing this today, not at least with just one person in the car. And soon enough a large bus came around a corner and the police became very busy and let us go.

We made a stop in some village where there was a silver smith making very small and delicate silver jewelry. This was obvious a place meant for me to do some shopping but I did not really find anything to buy. But I got a nice guided tour of the jewelry shop. Next stop was a coffee & tea plantation which sparked my interest. First a small guided tour of the tea/coffee and spice garden, then some sampling of the various products they had. I think I tried something like 4 different kinds of coffee of which included coffee with chocolate in it. Then some different kinds of tea as well. After that, they took me to a cage where they had a Luwak (or Asian palm civet). Some kind of animal that eats coffee beans and poops them out. Then people collect their poop and makes the worlds most expensive coffee from it, Kopi Luwak. Needless to say, I bought a small jar of Kopi Luwak to impress my family with!

Next stop was not planned. But we passed through a village where there was a funeral going on. It meant that all people in the village followed the deceased to the grave yard in a long procession. Madé told me about their traditions during our wait. When the road was clear we drove towards the huge volcano that lurked in the distance. I don’t remember how long it took to drive there, but when we finally arrived at the so called view point for the volcano I realized it was just one of these places where you have to pay for a good spot to take a picture. What I mean is, there was a lof of restaurants built along the ledge of the mountain we were at and all restaurants had a great view of the volcano from their terraces. Well, I had a coke and enjoyed the view for a while before I decided it was time to leave the place. Obviously it is possible to walk to the volcano and climb to the summit and look down in the crater but that would take a full day and I’ve already spent half day so far.

Madé wanted to show me the Uluwatu temple so we started to go south again. Finally we arrived at the site and before entering I had to get a sarong so I would not offend the people worshiping in the temple. Luckily there was “sarongs-for-rent” just outside. I think I spent about an hour just walking around looking at stuff before Madé told me it was time to go to the amphitheatre for a show. It was not what I was used to, I can honestly say that. It was kind of noisy and a lot of screaming and drumming. A small pamphlet explained the story. During the show it was getting darker and soon it was pitch black. After the show Madé drove me to a beach where there was a lot of restaurants. I have no clue on where this was, but it wasn’t so far away from the hotel I think. Anyway, I had a very nice BBQ’ed seafood dinner there. This day kind of concluded what I wanted from Bali so back at the hotel I booked both a flight and a hotel on the next destination.

2011 South East Asia #2 Bali – I’m not a surfer, obviously!

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After something like 12-13 hours in the air from Amsterdam a technical stop in Singapore was very welcome. Even though we were only let off the plane and into the adjacent building it was nice to stretch my legs for an hour or so. Then we were off for another 2-3 hours in the air before or so until we landed i Bali.

I landed in Denpasar around 9 pm, immigration took about 1 hour or so and then suddenly I was there, in Bali, the place I had dreamed off for some time. I got myself a taxi and hoped I would not be tricked on the price because I was newly arrived and also I was going for quite a bit. I was heading for a place called Sanur and the hotel Swastika Bungalows. Yeah, the name makes you feel skeptic but remember, the swastika has been widely used all over the world for more than just killing other people. Here, on Bali, it’s like a lucky charm, you can read more about swastiskas here! I arrived to the hotel some time around 11 pm or so and I didn’t get so much ripped off by the taxi driver as I had feared (I had checked before hand what it should cost me to get to Sanur from the airport and he only upped the price a bit).

Anyway, the day before my departure I sent them an e-mail telling them I would arrive late, probably around midnight or so, I got their reply when I was somewhere in the air so I had no chance to read it but they said they would wait for me. And there, at the entrance there was two people standing, waiting for me. One with a small tray with refreshments. And I swear to you, it was the best juice I’ve ever tasted! After checking in to the hotel they escorted me to my bungalow, lit some kind of “anti insect wire” that was slowly burning on my night stand. I have seen those before in Thailand and I know they are quite effective on keeping insects away from you when you sleep, if you can stand the smell. Lucky for me, I’m not the kind of person that insects like so much.

My bungalow then, it was a small palace I thought. The main room was spacious, then I opened the door to the bathroom and took a step out, into a small garden. The shower and bath tub was open air, but the toilet was inside a small “shack”. All surrounded by a wall the height of me plus some more for privacy. I went to bed almost directly. The following morning I found my way to the restaurant and have a delicious breakfast, then I explored the hotel area a bit. Found a nice swimming pool, went back to my bungalow and started to read a book on the porch. And suddenly it was evening and I had missed dinner. With several hours.

The guy in the reception told me there was some restaurants on the street that was still open so I went out for a walk. Found a place, simple, but very nice food. Got stuck talking with the owner for a good hour or two and then went back to the hotel to sleep. Second day I went down to the beach, but it was low tide so no swimming in the sea for me. Had a walk for an hour or so and then went back to the hotel. I finished my book and this time I had dinner at the hotel. I decided it was time to leave this place, even though it was nice and beautiful, I wanted to do something more. I had heard Bali was the place to go if you wanted to learn how to surf and Kuta Beach was the perfect place for that.

Once again I found myself inside a taxi and on my way to a new place. I had found a hotel in a place called Legian Beach I think. The hotel I had chosen was in no way as pleasant as Swastika Hotels and to be honest, it was a quite bad hotel. I don’t even remember the name of it. I just remember that the pool looked like it was full of Mountain Dew. But I didn’t go there to spend all my time at the hotel, I went there to learn how to surf so off to the beach I went. Worst mistake ever! As soon as I stepped onto the beach I was approach by probably 10-20 guys offering me surf lessons. Okay, I wanted to learn how to surf but I did not want to get almost molested doing it. So I did the only rational thing to do. I fled!

I walked in a fast pace along the beach constantly drawing the attention of more and more surfing teachers for every step. Finally I had enough, I found a opening in the wall diverting the beach from the city and quickly sneaked away. I’m very good at sneaking, so good that I managed to enter a cafe or restaurant so silently that no one noticed me there until I subtly cleared my throat to call for attention of the nearby waiter. I ordered some nice seafood and had a beer. Bintang. I started to talk to a french girl who came in soon after me. She was also there to learn to surf and had had her first 2 lessons already. I told her about my incident earlier and said that I maybe did not want to learn to surf after all. She lost interest as soon as I said that. Oh well, at least I had someone to talk to during my lunch.

I made a new try at the beach but the surfing teachers was to aggressive in their ways that I got turned off. I can see that it’s their way to support them self and maybe their families but doing it like that must also make them loose customers. I walked towards the town again and ended up at the memorial place for the Bali bombing in 2002. Then I found some bar in the nearby area and started talking to 3 guys from New Zealand I think it was. They asked me if I surfed, I said nay and then they lost interest in me. I guess surfing is the big thing here in Kuta Beach and if you don’t surf you’re not interesting. I guess I could have tried harder but my time on Bali was to precious to spend it on something I now felt maybe not was my thing. I started to walk in the general direction where my hotel was and came upon this small travel agency and thought I should try to see something more of Bali than Sanur and Kuta Beach. I came upon an agreement with the owner that he would take me around Bali during the next day and show me the best parts of Bali for something like 400.000 Indonesian Rupiah (should be something like €27). Now, this is a part where my memory get’s a bit cloudy so it might have been the double.

I went back to my hotel, had something to eat and then went down to a nearby bar for a beer or two. I think I ended up having like 20 beers, or at least it felt like that. I met some guys from Russia who had taken like 3 magic mushroom shots and now the stuff was kicking in. We had some odd discussions about life and other things. Then I guess it was time for me to sleep so I went back to the hotel and got ready for the night. Realized I could not find my phone. The horror I felt! So I went back to the bar and and asked them if they’ve seen my phone, they had not. I went back to my hotel and felt a bit sad because I thought I’ve lost my phone.

At 8 am the alarm clock in my phone went off. I had put it on my night stand. Phew!

2011 South East Asia #1 The Prelude

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Since my wife Sofia is pregnant, 5th month or so, I think travelling is out of the question for now and some time forward. Until then, I guess I’ll have to resort to remembering things I’ve done in the past. And this is one such trip. I had 5 or 6 weeks off in the early 2011 and I choose to spend them in South Eastern Asia. On my own. Below is my travel plan.

I flew out from Gothenburg a cold day (it has to be a cold day, right), had a stop in Amsterdam and then I was on my way. A 16 hour flight to Bali with a technical stop in Singapore. I choose KLM since I’ve flown with them before and liked their service plus they offered fair prices for my “open jaw ticket” to Bali and home from Hong Kong.

I planned this trip as little as possible, the only thing I had in mind was things I wanted to see and do before my time was up. I booked all my flights and hotels, except for the first flight to Bali and the flight home from Hong Kong the day before I was going to fly. Well, I had also booked the 2 first nights in Bali at a hotel, because I did not feel like trying to find some place to stay the same day I arrived.

Disclaimer! Prices in this serie is based on my memory and with the current state of the world economics; I would take them with a pinch of salt. 😉


Roadtrip Sweden: Matfest i Västra Götaland

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Yesterday it was the Matfest i Västra Götaland event, an event that started 3 years ago. We were lucky with the weather, we have actually been lucky with the weather for the whole month so far. Today is the first day when they weather actually start to resemble the fall. Yesterday it was sunny, 20° and just a slight breeze on occasion. I met up with my best friend Marcus and his wife Anna in Kungälv and then we headed off to Tjörn and Orust. Before we went I got this photo below of Bohus Fästning.

Since Tjörn is closest this was the first stop for today. We arrived to Mällby Lantgård where we did a small quiz walk before we did some shopping in their self-service shop. My haul was some lemonade. Next stop was a farm called Johanssons Gård. Here we bought some marmalade and some organic potatoes. We also got a small tour in the garden which was nice. On our way to the south of Tjörn we passed a sour dough bakery  (Alvar and Ivars Surdegsbageri) that this day decided to initiate their cider factory as well. Turned out to be a really nice place with a great view of the ocean. Next up, in the south of Tjörn we went to a sour dough bakery named Lottas Bak & Form. After that we drove to Skärhamn for a late lunch.

After lunch we headed north to Orust instead. Here we had planned to visit just a farm and a beekeper. Our first stop was Håvs Lamm & Delikatess. They had a really nice little shop, a very nice view and some very nice cheeses and a lot of different lamb products to choose from. On our way from the farm we saw another sign, Orust Must. We went there as well, and since we didn’t buy any cider on the last place we decided to buy some here. I got me a nice 3 litre bag-in-box.  Then we were on our way to the beekeeper, Tavlegårds Honungsgård, where we would buy some more stuff. This would also be our last stop since the event would close at 16:00. Since the weather was so nice we decided to find some place to have icecream but luck was not on our side today. All the places were closed so we decided to turn back home again.

Some facts:

Matfest i Västra Götaland ran it’s third year this year. It spans over Västra Götalands län and promotes locally promoted food with over 200 locations to visit.

Below is my haul for the day. Cheese, honey, lemonade, cider in a bag in box, some candy, marmalade and smoked lamb. All pictures from today can be found here!

Diary of a quite bad geocacher

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Dear diary, here are the results of my lazy attempts of geocaching the past weeks.


geomyst– GC6HRAR – A place to meet

This one required some mean skills in Google maps to solve, despite beeing on the actual place to do some reconisance which I thought should be enough. Turned out it was not. However, after solving this one I saw that it was hidden at my old school but the timing to log it was not right due to the school beeing inhibited by hundreds of Gothia Cup kids. A week later the place was empty so me and Sofia could easily walk up and quite quickly find the cache and sign it.



-The Lord of the Rings-The beginning (MMT#24)

This was the first ever WhereIGo I ever tried. This was over a year ago. I didn’t fully understand what to do or how to do it at that time. But, feeling encouraged by the previous success with a WhereIGo I felt I should try a new one. So I kind of took off where I stopped last time and tried to continue but came to a halt. I think that was due to a technical issue with the app. So I restarted. There was a lot of walking back and forth but finally I was on the right track. So I picked up Sofias and we took a nice evening walk for the final stages. Finally at the last spot Sofia found the cache in less than a minute. Well done darling!



-10 lätta pussel





Having spent some days in Karlsborg area I grew restless and wanted to go out and find some geocaches. During the spring/early summer I’ve spent some time solving mystery caches in the area, mostly puzzels and got coordinates for a lot I thought there was some easy pickings. Me, Sofia and her brother got into the car and drove along road 49 doing some quick stops for mystery  logging. Then we also found a quite nice letter box. I think I got a tick there as well.

And as of now, there hasn’t been any progress. I’m starting to think maybe I should abandon this quest for 100 non traditionals in a row, else I probably will continue in this slow pace. It doesn’t help much with having some solutions done when I never get around to log them. Specially not considering that several of them are not even in my home area but some 2-3 hours drive away.

Happy Birthday to me!

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I turned 35 today. At the age of 35 I have had the pleasure to visit 41 countries in the world spread over 3 continents. I have dived in 2 of the Great Oceans, Lake Malawi and the Celebes Sea (east of Borneo). I’ve seen “the Big 5”, mountain gorillas and been to places like Cherobyl and Auschwitz as a contrast. I’ve seen plenty of wonders of nature and met people from all over the world during my travels.

Somewhere along the road I met my wonderfull wife Sofia and now we’re having a baby in January hopefully. I hope the next 35 years will be as wonderfull and that I will have the chance to at least visist another 41 countries during that time!

2 days of rain in Vienna 2014 Central Europe

A walk in the park(s) 2013 Ukraine

Or take a look at the newly revised About page!

My First WhereIGo cache

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Today we had a clear sky and sunny weather finally. Today it felt like summer so we took the car for a ride to the other side of town to buy some food for the cat and then we stopped for a take away coffee. While walking around we also took the liberty to do some geocaching. A small multi at Kaggeledstorget called Våren. It was quickly done, it was only a 2 step multi and didn’t require much work. Although both the GPS and my phone acted a bit funny regarding the direction and coordinates.

Back home again we deiced to make a second try on the WhereIGo cache we had tried the day before but failed. First we searched in the area where we thought the chace was hidden but gave up after some 15 minutes realizing that we better do the WhereIGo game again. Since Sofia is pregnat she got to sit down on a bench while I was running up and down the “Castle Hill” playing the game. And of course, I had made a small error. A small error that put is a good 100 meters in the wrong direction. But after correcting the coordinates it was quite easy to find it.


– geowherigoCASTLEHILL Revival MMT#20


Lilla lilla Syrhåla

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About 1½ year ago me and my colleague Jonas was discussing geocaching since he’s been doing some with his children and I’m a bit of a casual cacher since I don’t do it every day and since I also took upon me this quest to find 100 non traditional in a row; things have slowed down. Anyhow, we started to look at caches around the area where we work and I found this mystery that seemed like a good challenge. After a bit of thinking and trial and error we found the solution for the mystery cache Lillalilla Syrhåla. I was not able to go check it the same day, but the day after I took a de-tour on my way home from work just to check out the area a bit and see if I could find it in the most obvious spots. I could not.

I waited for the weekend and went there again, much less traffic and prying eyes so I could look for it undisturbed. At least until a security guard pulled over and asked what I was doing. I quickexplanation and he was okay with that, he had friends who geocached also so he knew what I was doing. Well, I didn’t find it this time either. I made a couple more tries over the months but could not find it. Seasons came and seasons passed changing the landscape, I even tried looking in the field ofstining-nettles for it (during late fall when they had withered and died) but to no avail. 

I checked back on geocaching.com to see when it was last found it wasn’t found so often. Then someone found it early 2016 and I made a new try. Could not find it. I started to feel a bit frustrated with it. Months later I redid the solution, checked it in the geochecker and I got the same co-ordinates as I did the first time. I studied the logs, the photo logs and decided to give it a new try. I knew it was still there. But I could still not find it. Then on my way back home it suddenly struck me. There was something I had read in one of the logs. I decided to make a new try after work the following day.

Saturday 16/7

After some gruesome hours at work I was finally done and could finally go check for the cache. I parked my car and walked the 50 meters up to the search area. I made some quick searches on the south side of the co-ordinates but that didn’t yield any results, as I had expected. The place was not fit for the kind of cache I suspected it to be. I came to the point where the GPS would zero, no find there either. I continued north and started search for the cache there. I think I passed over the cache 2 times before I realised I had found it. Something just looked odd, and lo and behold, there it was. Finally! I felt victorious! 

To find this one it took me about 1½ year. Moral of the story, never give up!


A geocaching report

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Geocaching this season has been slow, really slow. There’s been a lot of other stuff going on the last months that have taken most of my time. But I have done some geocaching, not much, but some. The premiere was around easter, me, Sofia and her brother went to Karlsborg to try to take one or two of the multis in that area. The first one turned out to be a quite a walk around Karlsborg but eventually we managed to solve it. If my memory serves me right, the finale was quite nice on this one. The second one was a letterbox cache with a really good hiding place!

Karlsborg caches
geomulti– Triss i Karlsborg

geoletter– Kanalholmens Letterbox

Then we proceded to the small old mill community of Forsvik to log both a multi and a mystery in connection to the floodgate there.

Forsvik caches
geomulti– Forsvik

geomyst– Forsvik

And here are some pictures from Forsvik and signs that spring is coming.

And then there was no geocaching done for some time. Next time I picked up my GPS turned out to be in the beginning of July when we took a mini-vacation to Smögen Hafvsbad. On our way home we stopped in Lysekil to have lunch and since the weather was so nice we decided to go for a walk and ended up just right at an earth-cache and since the requirements was quite simple I decided to log it. While walking thich clouds drifted in over our heads and on our way back to the car some heavy rain drops started to fall. Right when we got into the car the rain was pouring down. Had we been just half a minute slower we would have been soaking wet, now we got away with some wet spots.

Lysekil cache
geoearth– Jättegryta i Lysekil

And here’s a nice picture of the giant kettle and an old boat.

Next time geocaching was yesterday. I was looking through my excel-file where I keep all the geocaches that needs some work to be done (mystery/earth/multi) and suddenly I realized that I had been approaching one of the mystery-caches totally wrong. A quick google search confirmed it and then it was just to insert the new co-ordinates into the GPS and go. Before I went to log the mystery I made a quick stop at Biltema to pick up a pool thermometer so I could log an earth cache that I had prepared like 2 years ago but never got around to log. Said and done, I went into town and to be honest I had forgotten how annoying it is to drive downtown. Anyhow, after 10 minutes in the water I was quit sure I had a correct reading on the thermomenter and I could finally log the earth-cache.

Then onwards to Kortedala (a place I have not visited in like 10-15 years) to find that mystery. I managed to find a parkinglot not far from the cache and walked there. It just took me a couple of minutes to find it and log it. On the way back to the car it started to rain. Rain seem to be the only weather we’ll see this summer.

geoearth– Gautelfr

geomyst– The Old Futhark

I took this picture while waiting for the thermometer to do it’s stuff!

Roadtrip Sweden: Smögen/Lysekil

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After getting a small tax refund this year we decided to spend them on something nice and since we both needed some relaxation we thought that going to a spa somewhere in Sweden could be nice. So we called Sofias mother and asked her if she could cat-sit Astrid, our cat. She said yes. We packed our bags and went for Smögen Hafvsbad. A measly 1½ hour drive from Gothenburg is not to shabby, right? We’ll I might have taken a wrong turn in Munkedal so it might have taken some more time.

Anyhow, checking in on our room which must have been the hottest room ever, chaging into swimming trunks and heading down to the spa to discover that there was not so much of a spa really. One swimming pool and one bubble bath plus one normal sauna and one steam sauna. But you could order something to drink so that kind of makes up for it. And then of course there was the treatment room too. We had a body scrub treatment with sea salt, oil and some aromatic herbs.

Dinner at the hotel was really nice. Fish of course, I would not expect anything else from an old fishing village, and it was cooked into perfection. We staywed 2 nights so we had plenty of time to try out the breakfasts too.

On our way home from Smögen we stopped in Lysekil to eat some lunch. After lunch we took a small walk around town. Just as we got back to the car the rain started to fall. I guess that was a signal that it was time for us to get back home again!

Under re-construction

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Finally started to work on the new looks for the site. The site may look a bit wonky for a while, but hopefully it will look good in the end.

I will also try to re-upload the old pictures in a higher resolution to make them bigger and more suited for the new site. That will however be a slow process since I will have to double check every picture. 🙁

So the work has begun!

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Today I took the first trembling steps towards a new look on the site. I installed a new theme, some new plug-ins and so on. There is obviously a lot of tweaking to be done but at least I’ve begun something! I hope the final look will be as awesome as I imagine it to be.

When nothing is happening…

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When nothing is happening it’s when you start making plans. We are in the middle of a move from one home to another so there’s no room for any travelling at the moment. But there are time to make plans, there are time to re-design the site a bit. I also found this page that collects all Swedish travelling blogs where I did register today. Check it out!

Svenska Resebloggar

Regarding re-design of the site, hopefully I can have the new version up and running really soon. I just hope the migration will work. It will also make it possible to have some bigger pictures in the future and a much more nice presentation in every post, given that I have a decent internet connection where I may be at the time!

My first letterbox was found today!

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Sofia went to a birthday brunch with for her friend and I went out geocaching. First I made a try to find a mystery that I solved some time ago but it was quite busy around the place where it was hidden so I decided to stop searching for it for now. I’ll come back later!

I decided to try to find another mystery that I had solved earlier this month with the help of a colleague. On my way there I took a wrong turn ended up in Biskopsgårdens Industriområde. I just happend to remember that there was a letterbox cache in the area and I had never found or logged one before so I thought to myself, why not. So I activated c:geo and found out that I was only about 50 meters from it. Pushing through the swampy terrain and a huge spider web and I was on the spot. Almost. Both my GPS and c:geo threw me off the target about 10 meters but I found it after a short while.

I don’t have a stamp or a book to put stamps in, I think I can do without that since I’m not that dedicated. Anyhow, after signing the book ad putting the stash back I continued towards the other solved mystery cache. Upon arriving to Wieselgrensplatsen and parking the car the hunt begun. It didn’t take long to find it, it was an easy rating on terrain and hiding. The mystery itself I got help with solving by my colleage who is a fan of the football team GAIS.

After logging a soggy logbook I noticed there was a dry one also. Bummer, but it’s okay. I’ll look for a dry one next time. Or not.

Then I went into town and stopped at Ekostore and bought some grousseries and then I went to pick up Sofia and surprised her with a trip to Gunnebo Slott. After having walked around there for a while we sat down and had a coffee in the sun at the cafeteria. Sometimes life is good. Links to the caches below.


Snart är det jul 2014 – 1:a advent

Atleter #1 Rekord


Slow progress on the challenge 100 non traditionals in a row

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I realise the progress on the Challenge #078 100 non Trad in a row is a bit slow. I don’t get around to go out and look for geocaches as much as I want. Lack of time and then bad weather seem to be the biggest reason. I don’t enjoy geocaching in the rain. Anyhow, I do find one every now and then. Like this weekend when I went on a trip with a couple of friends to Halland. We found this one along the road.
Alla hästar hemma I clicked the hint by accident so when we arrived at the spot I also saw the hiding place before we had even parked the car. But to be a good sport we solved the task before signing the log. Then when I got home I took my wife for a stroll in the area where I grew up. We walked towards the sea and found this multi:

Havsutsikt? / Seaview? Quickly solved, but a lovely walk it was. While at it I also used the time to log another kind of cache that I had’t tried before. A virtual cache.

Landskapsblommor, syd My entry was Lonicera periclymenum or honeysuckle which is the province flower of Bohuslän in Sweden. A nice kind of cache in my opionion even though it kind of felt like cheating since there is no physical location. But it was a good experience since I got to try out a new kind of cache which is also why I’m trying to do this challenge cache. To try new things. Not to shabby on a Sunday.

Rena Snurren This one I had tried to solve and log earlier but I was way to tired and didn’t think straight which means I failed to follow the instructions more or less. The day after I could quite easily solve it and get the correct coordinates, the last part was logging it and that would obviously take a while. Like 1½ week more or less but you need to have some business in the area, right? Logged in broad daylight with Sofia on a hectic Monday afternoon.

I have some mystery’s solved, I just need to get around to log them. That should increase my progress from the current 16 of 100. Also, I dunno what’s up with the bad formatting of this post, no matter what I try to do it doesn’t seem to fix it. That’s totally bull.