“I always say, keep a diary and someday it will keep you.”
– Mae West
Still struggling a bit and it only feels worse when I feel like I’m lagging behind on the blog, because I know how much I’m going to rely on this later when I’ve forgotten the small things.
When Andreas and I went to New Zealand we wrote a blog for the people back home. To me it’s never been about “bragging about how awesome my life is” (which is why I have some posts that are anything but positive), but it IS about sharing my adventures, staying connected with people back home and, perhaps most importantly, staying connected with myself.
When I decided to make a photo album from our trip, nearly a year after we got back, I re-read the whole blog from start to finish. Setting the text in a book together with photos made me feel like I was experiencing the trip all over again, I was so happy to discover this I would immediately sit down after work and work on my little project for hours.
“I re-read the whole blog from start to finish. Setting the text in a book together with photos made me feel like I was experiencing the trip all over again…”
I immediately understood that for any of my future travels I would write a blog. Not for clicks or likes, but because at some point I would sit back down and re-read it and marvel at all the small things I’d forgotten. Things that were funny, sad, hurtful, annoying, joyful. Things that make me feel.
Like that time I tried to find a Christmas bauble in Kathmandu, (I try to collect them from all the places I’ve been). I found a small shop that had many, but none of them said “Nepal”, “Kathmandu” or anything that would identify the country, so I asked if they had any with “Nepal” (or something along those lines) on them and the man said “We can fix that, just pick one”. I thought he meant they would paint “Nepal” on the bauble and picked a beautiful, black one with some tiny golden ornaments. He immediately pulled out a red marked pen and wanted to write “Nepal” on the bauble himself. The only reason it wouldn’t be ugly as hell is you wouldn’t be able to see it…
I still regret not buying the bauble and letting him write on it – it’s a great story and would have been one of the memories I am trying to savour for when I decorate my tree. Just goes to show how hung up I can get on how I -expect- it to look…
I remember the feeling I got when Tino gave me my custom made walking staff at Antelope Park. The guys who worked there would (for a small fee) make a beautiful wooden staff for you, with your name, the name of the lions and some reliefs and small tidbits before varnishing it. Mine was so gorgeous, I was stunned… To this day the best souvenir I have from my trip. I also remember Sif was a bit unhappy with hers and Tino took a look at it and said: “What’s going on here?” – he fixed it up for her, made her so happy. #Tonga #Tamuka #Ruva
And then there’s the 4 ltr bottle of wine that Anita bought herself on our Botswana/Nambia safari trip. When she went on a night safari and left me, Patricia and her boyfriend, Chris, at camp, we proceeded to drink the whole thing “secretly”. We then proceeded to fill the bottle with water, leaves and various plants so “she wouldn’t notice” #PureNature
Of course, we bought her a new one first chance we got, but we bought the wrong one. I have never laughed so hard while simultaneously feeling so bad… ;-D
I remember Patricia putting her shirt on her head to protect from the sun and after seeing the result saying: “I look like Taliban.” #ILoveNature
I remember that trip in the Mokoro… So many spiders and bugs falling into the boat and that spider that manage to start making a web from one of my boots to the other in no time(!) Not to mention when we thought Tonic, our boat dude, fell into the river. Only he didn’t, he jumped in to stop the Mokoro (water’s not that deep so he stood and grabbed the back of the little canoe), because a huge, male elephant had just appeared ahead of us and was getting a bit aggressive. He took a step towards us before deciding the guides’ clapping was too scary so he walked off. I had my phone out videotaping before this happened so I caught the whole thing, not daring to move because I was in front of the Mokoro closest to him. For a second there I wanted to laugh at how stupid it would be if I started my trip around the world by being mauled and drowned by an elephant… #WellDone
And Genevieve, whenever I asked her to take a photo she would, and then she would make a hilarious face and take a bonus selfie.
I remember crawling through the desert in Namibia with Sophie and Nicole and Nicole taking a pic of Sophie pretending to pour water on me while I pretend to die… #HotStuff
And I remember Vincent trying a magic trick Patricia had taught him on Genevieve. I can still remember the way they laughed when he showed her his chosen card and asked “Is this your card?” and she said “No.” #Fail
I also remember Helen and me going on the world’s shittiest “guided tour” ;-D A tour of the Xhosa Village in Coffee Bay… We learned nothing and the guy was on the phone the whole time except when he painted our faces and told us we could tip *lol*
Third night in Drakensberg, I had had the dorm to myself for two nights when two guys walk in. I immediately recognize Julian having travelled with him on the BazBus earlier and I was chuffed. I wasn’t any less enthusiastic when I picked up on his new friends’ accent. Turns out Matthew was from Wolverhampton! And he likes to take pics of himself posing in his underwear at every major site, but that’s a different story 😉
I remember making dinner at the Amphitheatre backpackers in Drakensberg with Nathanael and Matt – Matt was eating Shakkalakka out of a pan and said about Nathanael “He called my Shakkalakka grim!”. Nathanael, who was peeling sweet potatoes for his much posher meal at his point laughed and said “Well, perhaps if you would at least put it on a plate!”
Mozambique is an endless blur of snorkelling and laughs, as well as Antonia climbing up the stairs laughingly threatening me with a pair of scissors (it was funny, I promise). Getting up or a sunrise for the first time, mostly because I didn’t have to go any further than our balcony to see it. And making endless clog-jokes with Leonoor and Roald. I also remember Kerry teaching us the near fatal game of cards that requires everyone to fight for the leftover matches on the table.
I remember staying in a hostel in Lilongwe, meeting Dawn, my Welsh roommate. We had the room to ourselves so we made a makeshift “couch” from the beds’ pillows and propped my laptop up on a chair to watch “John Wick 2”. Our hostel also had that cute, brown lizard that would sunbathe all day outside our door, except when he heard us coming, he would dart under the next door and hide.
The drive from Lilongwe to Monkey Bay was about 3 hours and I heard horror stories of how the minibuses would stop in the middle of nowhere and drop you off if they didn’t have “enough customers” so I hired a guy to drive me in his car. The fare was about what it cost me to get home to Bærum from Oslo after a night out with friends. The “hotel” in Monkey Bay was pretty expensive and really shit. Far away from everywhere with dirty bathrooms and ants everywhere (and when I say that, please bear in mind that I had been in Africa for 5 months at this point, I wasn’t deterred by a FEW ants. They had their hive in there with me. It was too much especially for the price of this “lavish hotel”). Luckily it was for one night, before going to Cape MacLear, where I met Laura and Radek and spent a lovely week at Thumbi. A dorm, cold shower, 1/4 of the price of the hotel in Monkey Bay and 600 times better.
It was also in my room at Thumbi that I finally bought a ticket to the Sting concert in Budapest. I WAS going to Macedonia, (closest country I hadn’t been to yet), but by the time I decided to go for it the tickets where completely sold out. So I panicked and immediately bought one for Budapest.
I remember being disappointed when the guys at reception said they didn’t think there existed “mouse on a stick” in Cape MacLear…
I remember the owner of Thumbi driving me to Monkey Bay in the morning (I think they overcharged me a lot, but I can’t remember the fare of the top of my head), but I had put my dirty clothes in for laundry and the laundry ladies hadn’t gotten it back to me. They promised to leave it at reception or something in the morning, but hadn’t (of course), so we were delayed while he called them all to find the bag of clean clothes. Finally one of the ladies came rnning with a plastic bag with my clothes in it. Africa time, no worries 😉
Back in Monkey Bay I departed on the Ilala Ferry up Lake Malawi, on the definite highlights of my trip. Two days of reading books and people watching on deck during the days and evenings and watching movies while having dinner in my “Owner’s Cabin”. One of the guys on the boat wanted to marry me, but at least he was polite about it, and when I finally got off in Ruarwe he proclaimed “Call me I love you!” – It doesn’t take much, I can tell you that…
Zulunkhuni Lodge – I ended up staying for longer, despite the lack of wifi and internet, and indeed, cellphone reception. This is unusual for me – I’m not a person who craves the “off the grid experience”. Again, sorry to all the “genuine travellers” out there 😛 (Can you tell I’m annoyed with them?)
When I was due to return to the Ilala going back DOWN the guys from Zulunkhuni paddled me out into the lake and since I couldn’t see the boat I asked how long until it would get there. Here is where Africa kicks in. This was a very common type of exchange for me by now:
Me: “When is the ferry coming?”
Limbane: “I don’t know”
Me: “Then why are we paddling into the lake already?”
Limbane asks his friend something… They talk a bit… I get a little exasperated…
Me: “Look, if the ferry is going to be here in 20 minutes or 40 minutes or something then you can drop me off at the beach and I’ll wait, but if it’s like 2 hours away I’d rather go back and hang out at the lodge.”
Me: “Ok… so do we know just -approximately- when the ferry is coming? There has to be a reason they decided we should go now, right?”
Limbane: “Yeah… Eh… So what do we do?”
We started back towards the lodge before they asked a person on shore about the ferry and it turns out it was due in in 20 minutes so we turned around again and continue out to meet it. #TIA 😉
When I finally reached Nkhata Bay and wifi my phone blew up because my friends thought I might have died horribly. Found out my brother called the State Department just to ask “what he should do if he was worried his sister was lost in Malawi?” ❤
I remember meeting Claire in Nkhata Bay and just deciding randomly after 5 min of talking that we would travel together to Mbeya and get on the train from there to Dar Es Salaam. The minibus we were on from Mzuzu to Karonga is the only time I have been genuinly worried while in transit. That driver… The next day we made it to the train terminal determined to get a cabin. We learned, after putting up with another African queueing “system”, that they were all sold out, but we could try to get an upgrade once we got on the train. We tried that the minute we entered, but the conductor said “we’ll fix that later” and then promptly gave the cabin he had to some other Muzungu. It was a t this point Claire declared our new policy was “No more, Mr. Nice Guy!”. (To which we both said “Yeah right”, knowing ourselves pretty well)… It worked out, we managed to get a 2. class sleeper with some other women and has a jolly time until the train broke down.
The whole Tazara train trip is a fantastically disastrous highlight. From waiting 2 hours for dinner only to learn they forgot us so they ran out of rice and I had to eat the maize pap my stomach was so sick of it was screaming, to the train derailing, to Dimitra trying to teach me Greek (unsuccessfully, but I still remember the feeling of realizing where it said the name “Jonathan” when I pronounced it correctly), me trying to teach her Bao (a little more successfully), to being stuck in the middle of nowhere (#Mangula!) for two days. Then realizing “the Germans” where not the group of Greek-Germans, but in fact, a small foursome of OTHER Germans hiding out in their cabin, sticking my head in there and being challenged by Dominik to try and pronounce Panos’ name (Pannoj.. Panogio.. Pannacotta.. whatever), to adopting said Germans because we were all going the same place. I also remember the cab ride in Dar trying to find a hotel, that was fun…*sigh*
I remember stepping out of the cab at the ferry terminal in Dar Es Salaam and not understanding why I felt like I was flying for a split second. My foot didn’t find the ground where my mind was convinced it was. It found it half a meter further down, but unfortunately this twisted my landing and twisted my ankle badly. I also went straight into the wall and fell dramatically to the ground (no worries, I’m giggling as I’m writing this now). I dizzily remember Manuel telling the taxi driver that he “should let people know when he parks right next to a ditch like that” (like I said before though, no one else faceplanted so I think it was just me being exceedingly clumsy, but thanks anyway, Manuel 🙂 ) and I vaguely remember somebody buying me a ticket on the ferry while I was lying on the terminal floor. I also remember Panos carrying my bag when we arrived in Zanzibar and headed to the minibus stop, me resting my ankle on Manuel’s leg the whole trip out to Kiwengwa, and having to do a round trip with the Dalla Dalla because the dude in charge just assumed I was going to wherever the other white people where going (and then tried to drop me off at anywhere called “beach” because that’s what he understood from what I was saying). It took me 5 weeks at Kiwengwa to heal up enough to travel on… But at least I spent them on the beach. Also, I met Sabine there.
I also considered myself so lucky I had not (yet) encountered a virus or food poisoning like whatever it was Liam went through when I “lent him” the extra bed in my accommodation. No one feeling that bad should have to sleep in a tent… Poor guy.
I remember meeting Philly and Amrita the first time, getting none of their names right and thinking they were from the US before I picked up on the Australian accent. I can also clearly recall Amrita’s card game that was perfect for travel, Spot-It. Liam and I had to team up to win over Amrita and Julian… Says more about us, really…
I think none of us will ever forget tour guide Liz’ voice going: “Liam!”
The trip to Egypt had a group that jelled so well we almost had too many in jokes and quotes. I had to message them all to the group after leaving Cairo. And Basil decided to invite us all to Greece for his wedding in June 2018. So far I know that, apart from Basil, 5 of us are going. Almost the whole group will meet up again in what Andreas dubbed “The Big, Fat Wedding Crashers”.
#PTMEgypt #Carpanda #6.30 #AmazingGroup #Stella? #MySisterIsABellyDancer #BroPolyAmory #WaitingForThePidgeonToKickIn #PidgeonWithoutPaul #SpecialMeatBeef #ColorfulTombStuff #JasonPhotoBomb
Budapest… I was gong for one week, stayed for three. Was chuffed when Lina could join Ben, Harsh and me for our second and third Escape Room after she had to pass on the first one.
The nightwalker evening with Ben and Lina where we saw the church, parliament from the other side of the river and started a car alarm… The Russian guy, Andrej (of course), who kept talking about “normal people” (whatever that meant) and Venkat who told us how people kept asking him if “they had buses in India”, to which he usually responded “no, we walk everywhere, that’s why it takes so long.”
The Korean guy, Lucius(?), who showed us how to write our names in Hangul (made no sense) – and saying goodbye to the gang at the hostel when I was moving into my own, little apartment for a week… Only to find it was on the next street down from the hostel so we could all hang out just as much as before.
That Sting concert… ❤
I remember Maya and me laughing so much my stomach hurt… all the time. I remember her treating me to a spa date that was incredible. I remember us going to a fancy wine place so she could carry all that fine wine in my Osprey daypack. I remember her trying to hit the trash can with an empty coke bottle only to miss and for some reason we found this hilarious. “I’m down with the Pa… Having some trouble with the ‘rty’.”
(And the 80’s/90’s vibe at that pub we went to was amazing! They played Vanilla Ice *lol*)
I remember meeting up with Basil and Ben in Jordan and spilling my whole dinner on my white shirt before “Petra by night”. Basil said “it’s so much of it, it looks like a Jackson Pollock painting!” ;-D I managed to get it all off with water and soap though, mostly because the fabric is awesome. I also remember my first trip to Petra where I ended up randomly with a small group getting shown another way out of the place by a local bedouin and his donkey, Shakira. She knew the way. Which was good, cause it was pitch black and hard to find your footing. Why do I have that headlight in my backpack, huh? I NEVER take it out so I never have it when I need it.
I remember watching the fountain show by Burj Khalifa with Hege. The water was majestic, the music not so much… They played “Hero” by “Enrique Iglesias” #LOL
Also, that Indian restaurant we went to… that place was SO loud, omg…
I also remember spending an evening with Tina, enjoying a meal I can’t remember the name of, in Penang, thinking if she had been a guy this would have been a really great date. Those conversations where profound, fabulous and effortless.
And then there’s the time one of my newfound African friends sent me pictures of “her house burning”, wanting me to rally my friends and help them rebuild (ie. send money). She had requested money from me repeatedly at this point, so I got suspicious and googled the images she sent. They were from a blog from 2012 – the exact same photos, posted 5 years before she claimed the incident was happening. (I even checked, thinking she might be talking about a previous event, but she specifically said their house burned down “yesterday”). Again, I am incredibly aware of my privilege, so I don’t mean this as a whining post about how my poor, white, rich self has to endure watching poverty, but this took it a step too far from a woman I had shared experiences with, who I called a new friend (and who, if I’m honest, was much better off than many of her peers). I ended up blocking her after that.
And the time in Malaysia, that is still going on really, where I felt listless and numb… It will pass though, I am certain. Like Tina said, this is not just vacation or travel, this is our life now. There will be good days and bad, and good periods and bad. That’s just the way it is.
I planned on writing a post on random things I did in Kuala Lumpur, but it turned into a long trip down memory lane. I feel better for it, there’s a lot of stuff in here that I don’t want to forget and now I wont. So the TLDR for you guys is: This post is probably only interesting for me. Disregard. 😉