Jan
13

Snaps from the Shwedagon Pagoda

The little monks sit completely still. People walk past, move, but the little monks are like little red-clad statues, immovable. I take some pictures of them, long shutter, it’s starting to get dark. Other people looks like ghosts, blurry streaks of color, see-through, but the monks are sharp, and they look exactly the same in all, they haven’t moved an inch.

We are at the Shwedagon Paya, the Great Dagon Pagoda, the Golden Pagoda, the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese. 99 meters of gold in the middle of Yangon.

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Jan
12

First impressions from Yangon

Myanmar is like no other place I’ve ever been. I realize that as soon as we exit the doors at the small international airport in Yangon, into the hot, humid air that I’ve started to get used to after four months in South-East Asia. It’s intense, it’s bustling, it’s smiling, it’s different.
Longyi-clad guys, young and old, approach us, asking if we need a taxi to the center, as we walk through the sliding doors, but we dismiss them, and seat ourselves on the ground – our backs against the facade windows of the terminal building. We’re not leaving quite yet.

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Jan
2

The rice terraces of Batad and Banaue

The dog has already followed us for a long time when we reach the motorbike. Running ahead of us, chasing shadows, always on the move at a crazy pace, but still always within reach, and always coming back to us. I met him at the top of the hill, where the trail to the little village of Batad – surrounded by magnificent rice terraces – start. I gave him a little friendly pet before we started our descent back down – that was all it took for him to follow us loyally.

My guide Jody jumps on to the motorbike and makes sure that all the plastic of his makeshift tent, protecting the driver against the elements, are properly fastened, while I climb into the rusty little side-wagon, decorated with some plastic flowers and a map of the world.

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Jan
2

Snaps from the roof of Singapore

“I didn’t know the skybridge was open for the public” the young American lady in the elevator tells me after she’s learned where I’m heading. “I’ve lived here for four months, but I haven’t been up there myself yet, I guess I have to check it one day” The lift takes us rapidly up the numerous floors in the huge apartment complex near Outram Park in Singapore. After some thirty floors the American lady leaves me and I ride the last twenty by myself. As I walk through the corridor, trying to find the turnstile that will lead me out the skybridge I almost feel like a trespasser. This is no well-visited tourist attraction. People live behind all the doors in this corridor, and all the other corridors of this fifty storey building.

I stumbled upon some info on the Pinnacle@Duxton-complex while researching various rooftop bars and viewpoints in Singapore. I really wanted to get high up, see the city from above, and I wanted it to be the right place – and preferably cheap. When I learned about the Pinnacle skybridge, and the fact that there would be no dress code, no need to buy expensive drinks, plenty of tumble place, great views, and best of all – it would only cost me 5 dollars – I knew it was the place.

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Dec
31

The consequences of ice cream – or how I almost missed my plane to the Philippines

Do you like ice cream? Sure you do! Well I do at least. I absolutely love it. All kinds of ice cream, almost, but especially Italian, gelato. Soft and creamy – without being on the rim of melting. Give me two scoops, one with dark, heavy and bold chocolate, rich and flavorful, the other a light lime, fruity and sour – and I’m in heaven. Ice cream heaven. Or Norwegian cream-based vanilla ice cream with fresh, ridiculously sweet and delicious strawberries – I’ll eat until there’s no ice cream or strawberries left.

 I could go on and on and on about ice cream, but I won’t. Because this post is not really about how delicious ice cream is or how no “boil it cook it peel it or forget it”-rule would ever make me stop eating it around the world (until this day it has never made me sick, knock on wood), or how chocolate and lime is the best combination that ever was and ever will be. No, this is all about how two innocent little scoops – served from a nice little ice cream stand at the bottom floor of a big shopping mall in Singapore – almost made me miss my flight to the Philippines.

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Dec
6

Snaps from Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur. I remember as a kid I heard the name and thought it sounded like a made up place, somewhere funny.  It could easily have been the faraway country the Oompa-Loompas in Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” came from. But it’s not, it’s “just” another big metropolitan city, the capital of Malyasia, the place that houses the Petronas towers – what was once the tallest buildings in the world.

Kuala Lumpur, KL for short. I manage to get lost in a shopping mall (a big shining mall, with chain shops and price tags). Finding your way from a metro station to the office selling tickets to the sky bridge is not meant to be easy.  But the price has risen from zero to 85 ringgit since my Lonely Planet got published. It’s more than half of my daily budget. It’s more than what we pay for our slightly crappy, three-bed room in Chinatown. I’m a cheapskate, so I drop it – no city views for me, not from above at least. But just walking around is nice, who need sky bridges? Read More

Nov
20

Where the wild things are

A fairytale forest with moss-covered trees, stretching and growing into each other, creating openings that looks like portals leading into other worlds and dimensions. A place were your fantasy easily can run wild and every other tree stump looks like an ent or a troll. Yes, even in overcrowded and overdeveloped Cameron Highland, it’s possible to find a little bit of real adventure, and the best of all: It’s free, and you’ll probably have it all to yourself.

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Nov
14

Snaps from Cameron Highlands

Welcome to Cameron Highlands, to rolling hills covered with green tea plants as far as the eyes can see. Fresh air, cool refreshing temperatures (almost cold, now why did I send my thin fleece jacket back home to Norway again?), fog and rain (maybe, if you are lucky, the sun will shine upon you). Small towns scattered with ugly high rise apartment blocks and hotels, small restaurants with delicious Indian food and Chinese ones with hot pots. Old English colonial buildings (would you like a scone perhaps?), sweet strawberry freezies sold at the roadside and fresh local strawberries at the market (at almost the same price as in Norway. With average income in Norway being way higher than in Malaysia, can someone please explain to me why we Norwegians complain about the strawberry prices every damn summer?)

Yes, welcome to Cameron Highlands, the Malaysians get-away from the heat and chaos of the lowlands and cities. Here you can choose between wide arrays of tours, all including a visit to the butterfly farm – at extra cost of course, or maybe you would like to purchase a strawberry umbrella? Unregulated urban development – eating at the forests, making space for ridiculously huge and ugly resorts and condos – have made the small towns into ugly eyesores. It’s the Disneyland of tea plantations, the Mallorca of hill stations.

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