Archive for October, 2008

Snow in Arendal

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

I am currently sitting with my eee in the public library in Arendal, watching the snow quickly melt away as the sun is shining brightly through the pouring rain(!)

Grandma and me at the opera house in OsloThis weekend I went with my grandparents to Oslo. We visited my cousin Simon, who turned seven on Friday. 🙂 It’s almost a little embarassing, but that was the first time I’ve ever been at my aunt and uncle’s (Anne and Ånen) place… It was really nice seeing them, though. I spent much of the weekend with my cousin, helping him build his new Star Wars lego sets! I also went to see the new opera house in Oslo with my grandma. It’s been hyped a lot, but it is actually a rather architectually fascinating building!

I am staying with my paternal grandparents in Arendal, which is something I haven’t done in ages. Yesterday I bought a Lonely Planet guide to the Trans Siberian Railway. I’ve been browsing it just a little, but it looks like a really useful book. After I’d been to town to buy the guide, I had dinner with my maternal grandmother. It’s good to be able to spend time with my family before I leave!

I am still not entirely sure when I’ll be leaving for St. Petersburg, but most likely it will be late next week. My passport now has a Russian, Mongolian and Chinese visa, and it’s going to the Nepalese consulate tomorrow or the day after. There was a little hickup, because it turned out to be impossible to get a Chinese visa after first getting a Nepalese one, and the Chinese visa does not allow entrance into the Tibet province. I’ll have to apply for entrance into Tibet when I am in China. Also, the Nepalese consulate does not have any set office hours, but Helge from Privjet will try to get hold of the consul tomorrow, so he can give him my passport directly instead of mailing it. This in order to save a couple of days in the mail. I will contact my cousin in Oslo about when I’ll be getting there as soon as I know myself.

This afternoon I’ll be having dinner at my grandparents’ place, with another uncle and aunt, my father and my maternal grandma. (I said goodbye to my mother last Friday, before I left for Oslo. She had to go back to Vanse, but my father is working in and around Arendal this week.)

Relaxing in Vanse

Monday, October 20th, 2008

StipeIt’s been almost a week since I left Stavanger with the first load. I’ve spent the time relaxing after the move, playing with my parents’ dog, Stipe (named after the Croatian president Stjepan “Stipe” Mesić ) and sorting out what I’ll be taking in my backpack…

My eee pc 901 has arrived, and it took me a whole day (and most of the night) to manage to nLite and install xp on it from my usb pen drive, but I finally managed. I am quite satisfied with the end result, both in size and performance, especially compared to the wobbly giant that came pre-installed. It’s taking some getting used to, typing on a keyboard that small, but I think I’ll get there. I’ve never liked touchpads though, so I might pick up a small portable mouse for it. I’ve already tried using Skype from it, with my little sister in England, and I was impressed! The battery life is also decent, so I think I’ll be satisfied with the purchase.

I’ve also bought travel insurance, from the company named Gouda, mentioned in my post of October 3. BOY is travel insurance expensive! It costs a bit over NOK 30,- per day! I guess all it takes is a single mishap before I’ve made up for it, though…

In the days to come, I need to finish my preparations, and then I’m going to Arendal for a few days, to visit my grandparents. The last days before I leave for St.Petersburg will most likely be spent in Oslo, but I’m not entirely sure when that’ll be. I’ll know more when Privjet has had my passport processed for visas in a couple more embassies. Those things take their sweet time, but time is a commodity I have, now. 🙂 That’s a wonderful feeling!

I watched a horror show on TV this evening. It was about what might happen in a worst case scenario if the temperature on the planet rises by 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 degrees. The changes at 2 degrees were drastic, and at 6 degrees they were cataclysmic… If any of them are even close to correct, this is one of the last chances anyone will have to experience some of the things I’m hoping to do on my trip. In as little as ten years, much of it might have changed irreversably. This is partly the reason why I’m choosing to do so little of my travelling by plane. I want to see the world without contributing more than necessary to it’s destruction…

In storage

Thursday, October 16th, 2008
Prestegardsloftet

In Storage

We packed tight, and used every available nook and cranny in the car and trailer to stuff something into, but I wasn’t able to fit all my things in the car and trailer on Monday. As a result I had to return on Tuesday to pick up the rest.

I left from my parents’ place on Tuesday morning, drove back to Stavanger, loaded the rest of my  stuff and returned on Tuesday evening. Having finally put all of it in my parents’ loft feels wonderful! I’m really thankful I don’t have to unpack again for a while…

The newest news is that my old job at Vardeneset has decided to equip me with a camera, so that I can send some footage back to them from my travels! As part of the video-project the congretion of Vardeneset is doing, I am going to make small video clips for them, that they can use in the youth work. The subjects of these clips haven’t been decided as of yet, but I’m thinking I could do little pieces on the everyday lives of Christians in other places on the planet, about the history of important religious sites and the like. For this, I’m being equipped with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5, a compact camera with 10x optical zoom and the ability to record high definition video at 30fps in the 720p format. I am a little worried about audio quality, as there is no option to attach an external microphone, but I hope it’ll work out. I’m planning to buy the underwater housing for it, the Panasonic DMW-MCTZ5E, so that I can use it when diving as well, but it depends on whether I can get it in time for my departure. Pixmania is supposed to get it in storage tomorrow, so I’ll have a look then. It’s a good deal cheaper if I buy it from the UK (hiwayhifi.com), but then there’s the chance that it’ll get stuck in customs too long…

Other than that, today was rather uneventful. I got up, had breakfast, set up my computer and surfed the net for a while, did some laundry that I brought with me from Stavanger, walked my parents’ dog, made dinner, and watched a couple of episodes of Smallville. Oh, and I spent an hour on Skype with my little sister in Brazil!( She hasn’t posted anything on her blog yet, but promised to do so real soon)

The day has arrived

Monday, October 13th, 2008

The day when I leave Stavanger. In about two hours, my father will be here with a car and trailer, and all that’s left to do is try to fit all my crap… I’ve been packing for like two weeks, and finally I’m there. I’ve sold some stuff to my flat mates, some stuff I’ve given away, and some I’ve taken to the recycling facility, but I still have some doubts as to whether it’ll all fit in the car…

The company that’s getting me my visas finally got a move on, so now my passport is at some embassy or other, getting the right stamps and signatures.

I had a great time at the party on Saturday. I got there like five to seven, and Christian was already there. In the next couple of hours people arrived, and I hope all who tried to find us did… 🙂  In any case; thank you to all of you who were there to make my going away party a great night, I’ve already said goodbye to you, and to all you who didn’t make it, sayonara to you too!

Now I need some breakfast, stop by the dive shop to see if my certificates have arrived, return library books, drop off a camera I’ve borrowed, and about a dozen other small things I need to remember. The next time I write, I shall be homeless! 😀

Invitation

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

I'm leaving...

On Saturday October 11 from 7pm, I’m having a going-away-party. The venue will be Kulturlaboratoriet, Ryfylkegata 45, Stavanger. Dress code: Casual.

Kulturlaboratoriet about Kulturlaboratoriet: “Kulturlaboratoriet (K-lab) is a studio for artists of different kinds. In addition to being a creative work place, we often arrange parties and concerts to celebrate what we do.”

Everyone’s invited, I’m hoping to say goodbye to as many people as possible that night. Bring your own drinks and food. Kulturlaboratoriet will also be selling beer at NOK 20 a bottle. (Cash only)

I just sent out a text to a lot of people, and realized seconds after I’d sent it that I’d left out date and time… I’ll be answering questions about that for the next couple of hours, I guess…

Dentist and doctor

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Things are coming to a conclusion here in Stavanger, I’m leaving in a week…

I started off the day with a visit at the dentist’s. I figured it would be a smart thing to make sure my teeth are intact before heading off, and thankfully they are.

To make matters just a tad more complicated, I got an ugly rash around both eyes a couple of weeks ago. Instead of going away, it’s getting worse, and when I woke up this morning my eyes were caked with yellow puss. I called my doctor and got an appointment this afternoon, so after returning the empty air bottle from Saturday and buying a book I’m planning to take with me to read on the train, (Red Seas Under Red Skies, by Scott Lynch) I headed up to the doctor’s office. He looked rather worried, because my eyes have become inflamed in addition to the rash on both upper and lower eyelid on both eyes, so I got eyedrops that I have to use four times a day, and a cream to use at night, in addition to hydrocortisone to treat the rash twice a day. I also got a new appointment on Friday, to check whether it’s getting better. Hopefully, it’ll clear up real quick…

I had dinner with Hallgeir, and got to borrow his car to go to Ikea and get some moving boxes. They were sold out, but the trip wasn’t a total loss. I went to XXL to cash in on a gift certificate I got from work, and bought myself a dive light. At the same mall there’s a grocery store, so I asked them if they had some empty banana boxes. (They’re really sturdy, and good to pack in) They had dozens of them, and I could just help myself to as many as I wanted, so I filled up the car, and managed to jam in twelve: three in the trunk, six in the back seat and three in the passenger seat.

I’ve already filled 9 boxes with books, and I’ll probably fill two more before I start on the other stuff…

Certified Rescue Diver

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

As of today I am a PADI certified Rescue Diver!

This morning I was picked up by Eric at 0845, and we met up with the others at 0900 at the dive store, to pick up some bottled air, and follow the instructor to the dive site. We went to Askje on the Island of Mosterøy, where Jæren Dykkersenter is opening a dive centre in a couple of weeks. First we practiced approaching a panicked diver, and towing a tired diver. The next exercise consisted of searching for a diver missing under water, and retrieving an active panicked diver and then a passive panicked diver from the bottom. The last exercise before lunch break was practicing towing an unconscious diver, while giving mouth-to-mouth and removing equipment from both the victim and ourselves.

During the break, Eric, Morten and me were secretly instructed to sneak off and go in the water behind a shed, then dive out in the bay, where Morten was passively panicked on the bottom, Eric was unconscious face down in the water, and I was actively panicked on the surface, shouting for help. (or rather shouting for pizza, in order not to alarm the locals…) The others then got a sudden end to their lunch break, and had to mount a rescue for us.

The topics are serious, but the training was a LOT of fun, even though I am now absolutely and completely beat!

This was the last diving course I have time for before I leave for Russia, but my hope is that with certification as high up in the PADI system as Rescue Diver I’ll get to dive on some of the more beautiful (and vulnerable) sites in South East Asia when the time comes. The plan for my first dives on my trip, however, are in Lake Baikal, about which I could go on at length, but suffice it to say that it is supposed to be absolutely breathtaking. (speaking figuratively, I hope…)

(PADI stands for “Professional Association of Diving Instructors”, but our instructor told us yesterday that as a joke they used to call it “Pay And Dive Immediately”…)

It’s starting to dawn on me that this is for real…

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

On Tuesday I had my last day of work, so I am now officially unemployed.

Today I got vaccinated with four inoculations against yellow fever, Hep A + Hep B, Meningococcus A-C-W-Y, and Typhoid fever, and an ingested vaccine against cholera and ETEC, and I bougt prophylaxis for malaria. Vaccination makes an effective diet for your travel account. This ordeal set me back NOK 2790,- (EUR 337,-)

Speaking of dieting travel accounts, I also went to my insurance company today, to extend my travel insurance from the normal three months to a year. I almost fell off my chair when the lady, rather apologetically I thought, told me that this would cost me the rather large sum of NOK 20870,-!!! (EUR 2520,-)
I laughed, picked up my things, told her that it was ridiculous and left. I assumed beforehand that 12 months of travel insurance would amount to about four times 3 months of travel insurance. Silly me…
Well, when I got home, just now, I quickly googled backpacker insurance, and the very first hit there was a company called Gouda (!) that sells travel insurance through x-plore.no. Their price for a world-wide 12 months continuous travel insurance ended up at NOK 11515,- (EUR 1390,-).  This is still expensive of course, but at almost half the price of Gjensidige it is the cheapest I’ve been able to find so far. I’ll have to compare their terms, but I suspect I’ll end up with the Gouda insurance, if I don’t get any offers that can beat their price.

For visas to Russia, Mongolia, China and Nepal, I have been in contact with the people at privjet.com. I sent them an email on Aug 18 to see whether they could help me. On Aug 20 they answered positively, so I figured I was all set. On Sept 8 I replied that I was interested in their services for visas to the aforementioned four countries. By Sept 19 I had still not heard from them, so I called and asked how things were going. The guy (Helge) was very sorry that he hadn’t had time to process my request, but promised to get right on it, and suggested I sent a new email so I’d get on the top of his inbox. I then forwarded the message I’d sent 11 days earlier, and waited for a reply. A week later (Sept 26) I had not had any response, so I called again. Helge was in Moscow at a conference, but I was told to resend the email, and he’d get back to me on Monday. (this was a Friday) So I re-re-sent the email, and got an immediate reply from Helge:

Am in Moscow right now, will be back in the office on Monday. Have just gone through the Transsiberian/Transmongolian with our partner, so I can give you some good feedback on Monday. Sorry this took so long. Helge.

That was on Friday a week ago. I called them on Wednesday, since I hadn’t gotten any feedback yet. Helge apologized again, and said I’d get a quote before the day was over. I called him again this morning, Oct 3, and he seemed confused as to why I hadn’t gotten the quote on Wednesday afternoon, and promised to look into it immediately. This is actually on the verge of me having to postpone departure because of these guys, so if I don’t have a quote from them by the end of the weekend, when the travel agencies open, I’ll have to find someone else…

Right now, I’m off to take my PADI Rescue Diver theoretical course and exam, the practical excercises are tomorrow.