Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

The Uncle has returned to his Nephew

Friday, October 29th, 2010

I realized I hadn’t told the travel-log that I’ve returned home… ๐Ÿ˜› It’s been eventful:

Went to Kuala Lumpur and had great fun with friends. Also got robbed in my room, and lost my eeePC and my iPhone.

Plane from KL to London got delayed by 3 hours, so my transfer from Stansted to Gatwick through London was in the middle of the night, after the last tube. Molto interessante…

Stayed a few nights in Oslo, first with cousin Gaute, his wife Beate and their son, my Godson, Filip. Next I stayed a couple of nights with Valdis, who visited me in the Perhentians a while ago. I stayed until Sunday, when my cousin Maya had her firstborn, Filippa, baptized.ย  Then I drove to Arendal with my grandparents, and then to Vanse with my father the next day. Visited little sister Johanne in uni in Kristiansand on the way, and saw her appartment.

Stayed a few nights in Vanse, then drove to Sandnes, or rather Johanne drove the car and I instructed. Got to see my nephew, Terje, and his parents Jenny and Tom. Terje now walks and talks. My sister Jenny is about the size of a small house. Technically she sort of IS a small house, to my niece-to-be who is due to leave her snug home in November to join the rest of us out here in the cold of Norwegian winter.

I am currently staying with Odd Helge in Stavanger, looking for an appartment with a couple of friends here, Trine and Annikken.
There. That’s a little update on what I’ve been up to lately.

Patience, Prayer and Penicillin heal all wounds…

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

… even tropical ulcers.

I had a visit from my cousin ages ago, and we had a brilliant time together. It was magnificent to finally be able to show someone from home what I’m always nagging about… Since then, I have also been able to show my sister Anne Malene and her boyfriend ร˜yvin, and two of my classmates from primary school and junior high, Gunn Ragnhild and Valdis. I went scuba diving with all of them,ย  but Anne Malene and ร˜yvin had to wait for my heel to heal before I could teach them to dive.

I got a tiny little scratch on the back of my right heel about a month ago, so small that I didn’t notice it before it started to get red. It soon started hurting, and then my foot swelled up like a balloon. The assumption when I got to the clinic in the fishermen’s village on Perhentian was that I had contracted a tropical ulcer, and I was put on broad spectrum antibiotics. It still took a good week and a half before I was off the crutches and back in the water, and it still has not healed completely, although it looks very nice.

Seeing my friends from way back when was also really cool. We reminisced about the olden days (about 20 to 14 years ago), and caught up on more current events. I got to refresh old diving skills with Gunn Ragnhild, while Valdis got her first taste of scuba diving.

Days of sun, sea and salt water still have not gotten old, I enjoy every bit of it. I even have one more friend lined up to come here soon, to finally finish a diving course, after having started it several times with several people who for one reason or another had to back out. ๐Ÿ˜€ If anyone else wants to come and learn to dive, just give me a holler, and I’ll set you up! ๐Ÿ™‚

In other news, I have crossed over to SDI, and now teach divers through that organization as well as PADI.ย  My SDI certification cards and teaching material arrived today, but my PADI cards that were supposed to be sent to Blue Season Bali, where I finished my course in the beginning of April still haven’t showed up… The course director there is now on the case, and is trying to get PADI to send me the cards here.

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First diving course, lunch in Thailand, visitor from Norway

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

I am currently sitting on a bus on the way to the airport in Kota Bharu. I’ve spent most of the day in buses, going to Thailand for lunch, and then back into Malaysia with another 90 day visa period. My cousin Gaute is arriving soon, and together we will race to Kuala Besut to see if we can make it in time for the last boat to the Perhentians!
In the last few days, I’ve been teaching my first courses, an Open Water course, an Emergency First Responder course, and started a Rescue course. My OW students were two sweet and laidback Danish girls, maybe even a little too laidback, as the course took 5 days to complete instead of 3 and a half… ๐Ÿ˜›
I am currently carrying too much cash for comfort, as I have withdrawn cash from six different cards, to bring back to people on the island. Fingers crossed that I don’t get mugged before I’ve handed off the cash, 7500 RM is a lot of money!
I’ve worked long days and had little sleep for a bit too long now, so today was a nice change, a dry day spent snoozing on various buses. When I say dry, I mean that only in the sense that I haven’t been diving, though, ‘cuz on the boat to Kuala Besut this morning I got so soaked with sea spray that I might as well have been… I dried off soon enough, of course, in this heat that’s just a matter of minutes, but I’ve spent the rest of the day caked with sea salt. ๐Ÿ˜‰
Now I am really psyched to recieve my first visitor from the old country, can’t wait to finally show somebody from home how I live!

(Aargh, why is this bus half an hour late, at this rate we won’t make it in time for the last boat!)

Uncle Travelling Gjerulf to become uncle again!

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

The days roll by here in the Perhentians, and the FIFA World Championship is on. For about a week I’ve been coughing and coughing to empty my lungs of the stubborn phlegm that just won’t go away.ย  was really cold one night, and the resulting chest cold is as stubborn as is to be expected in a tropical climate.

Most of my days are spent sitting around the shop, or out chatting to people to see if I can recruit some divers.ย  It’s quiet here, so I’m not diving quite as much as I’d like to. I guess it’s a combination of the economic recession going on the third year, people’s irrational fear that all of South East Asia is unsafe due to the unrest in Thailand, and perhaps some apprehension about buying expensive air tickets to Asia and then getting stuck in an airport due to volcanic ash from Iceland…ย  Now that the volcano has calmed down, I have high hopes for July and August, the high season here in the Perhentians!

This is an interesting place for watching international football, because there are almost always someone that has someย  connection to one of both of the countries playing. As you probably know, I’m not exactly a big football fan, to put it mildly, but I have actually watched a couple of games, and that says a lot about the mood surrounding the matches! It also makes for some rather bizarre experiences, like one night in the beginning of the group play when I got up in the night to go to the bathroom, and saw two grown men and a lifesize inflatable kangaroo in Australian supporter get-up in front of the TV in the lounge…

In more important news, the oldest of my little sisters is pregnant with her second, and I will get a niece in November!! ๐Ÿ˜€ Congratulations to Jenny and Tom!

I am also really looking forward to my first visitor from home, my cousin Gaute, who I’ll go to meet after my visa run to Thailand on 6 July!

Liftoff

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

When I returned to Norway in October, I stayed for a while on my friend Hallgeir’s couch in the basement, and then on a camping bed in my friend Oddi’s living room. Since then I’ve lived cheaply (for Stavanger) in a loft, paying NOK 3500 per month, wi-fi included.

I temped as a kindergarten assistant for three weeks, until I managed to land a job as administrative director in Varden church in Stavanger. It was demanding and challenging, as I’ve never had the responsibility of being anyone’s boss before, but rewarding as well, when I got things done.

On Wednesday I managed to gather a surprisingly large group of friends at The Irishman to say “screw you guys, I’m outta here.” Thursday I packed the rest of my stuff and headed to my parents’ place in Vanse, and Friday morning we drove to Arendal, where I’ve spent the weekend with them, my two youngest sisters, my grandparents and my aunt, uncle and cousin. My oldest sister took her husband and son to Paris this weekend, and tried to robb us of a 1-year birthday party, which we still celebrated, without the guest of honour! ๐Ÿ™‚

Right now I’m on a bus on my way to Torp airport, where RyanAir is hopefully flying me out to London Stansted at 13:55. I’m supposed to be there at 14:50 local time, and my AirAsia flight to Kuala Lumpur is scheduled for 23:20. I arrive in KL tomorrow night at 20:20 local time, spend the night, and leave again Thursday morning at 10:25. Arrival at my final destination, Bali, will be at 13:25 local time. My Instrucor Development Course (IDC) starts on Friday. Wish me luck!

This is posted from my iPhone, because I’ve managed to mess up my eeePC so it’s stopped working, in my attempt to reinstall XP. ๐Ÿ™ In the desperate attempt to fix it in my sleep deprived state in the wee hours of this morning, I just made matters worse, by fumbling a format of the thumb drive I was trying to install from, and instead accidentally formatting my external hard drive… I saw that I’d entered the wrong drive letter a fraction of a second after I’d pressed OK, and would’ve wept a river if my eyes hadn’t been all dried up after hours of futile labour…

Nevertheless, I greet all those who remain in the frozen, snowy hell that is Norway with a wide grin and a hearty “SO LONG, SUCKERS!” ๐Ÿ˜€

Supplies!

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

October 19

So. Two weeks ago I posted from KL, and later that day I headed to the airport. By 1am I was on a plane from KL to London Stansted, where I had to spend 27 hours, due to a slight brain hiccup in the booking process…

I bought a ticket from Kuala Lumpur to London, leaving in the middle of the night on October 6, and arriving the next morning. So, being slightly retarded, I booked a ticket from London to Oslo on the morning of October 7, not taking into consideration that when I’d arrive in London it would of course STILL be October 6… When it dawned on me, I tried to change my ticket from London, but that was about 10 times as expensive as the original price of the ticket, and a new ticket on the correct date was about 15 times as expensive. So, I organized a couchsurfing host in Bishop’s Stortford, next to Stansted airport, and prepared for a stay-over.

The stay-over was actually a lot of fun, as I got to experience small town England for the first time. ๐Ÿ™‚ My host was working as cabin crew for Ryan Air, and we spent the day exploring Bishop’s Stortford. (He’d moved there 10 days earlier, so he didn’t know the town either) The evening was spent in an old English pub, even though I was dead tired, seeing as my jet lag made midnight in London feel like seven in the morning…

On October 7 I flew to Torp, and hitchhiked to Oslo, where Annikken was waiting for me. She had made me an awesome Tiramisu (my favourite dessert!) and we cooked a nice Norwegian dinner. She was leaving for Stavanger the next morning, so I wrote to my cousin Gaute on msn and asked if he had plans for the evening. ๐Ÿ˜‰ He answered a mildly confused “uuh, no? Why?” and was slightly more than mildly surprised when I invited myself over!

I spent a long weekendย with him, his wife Beate and their three year old son Filip, who is my godson (fadderbarn).

On Monday morning, a week ago, I got on a bus to Arendal, where I dropped in on a surprise visit at my grandparents’ house. When I got there, the door was open, so I walked right in, and when I was on my way up the stairs, my 85 year old grandpa called out for my grandma. I answered “No, it’s not her, it’s a surprise!” Needless to say, he was surprised, as was my grandma when she came home for dinner a few minutes later… ๐Ÿ˜‰ I visited my other grandma as well that evening, and the next morning I headed west again, to surprise my parents. I hitchhiked to Kristiansand with a nice lady who was going to the university, and then through Kristiansand with a guy my age, who had recently been on a long backpacker trip. (!) From there to Vanse I got on a bus, and walked up the drive to my parents house. My father saw me through the window from his office, and opened the window but was too surprised to say anything coherent. The look on my mother’s face could not have been any more surprised if I’d been a green Martian… ๐Ÿ˜€

I stayed with my parents a short week, ordered a new Visa card (the old one was destroyed by mould in the Perhentians) and returned my malfunctioning EeePC901 to the dealer. On Saturday I also went diving with Farsund Undervannsklubb, the local dive club where my parents live. It was a beautiful day, and we were four people who headed out to Ytstesteinen, far out in the archipelago outside Farsund. The water temperature was around 13 degrees, quite different from the 29-30 I’m used to… I had no clue as to how much lead I had to take down, seeing as the last time I did any dry suit diving was a year ago, and I was a complete newb… I took three kilos less than I used before I left home, down from 16 to 13, and was HORRIBLY over weighted. ๐Ÿ˜› I’ll try with nine next time…

This morning I hitchhiked from Vanse to Bogafjell, where I eventually managed to locate my little sister’s house, and rang the door bell. When she opened, she told me later, she was prepared to tell some annoying door-to-door salesperson to bugger off, when I shouted Supplies! for the n’th time this week. ๐Ÿ˜› A short while later my brother-in-law came home, and another surprise was sprung… Itย was REALLY nice to finally meet my little nephew Terje, who is named after my grandpa, his proud great-grandfather! Terje junior was born in February, so he’s almost eight months old. As I write this, my sister and brother-in-law are at a cell group gathering with their congregation, and the proud Uncle Travelling Gjerulf is babysitting his only nephew!

October 22

Yesterday I called up a few friends of mine in Stavanger, and arranged to meet them at The Irishman for our traditional Wednesday night at the pub. ๐Ÿ™‚ A couple that I hadn’t called also showed up, and there were welcome-back-hugs all around. I’ve stayed the night at Hallgeir’s place, and am looking for a job and a place to live until I go back to Malaysia in March. ๐Ÿ˜‰ If you’re around, give me a holler!

Taman Negara, Pulau Tioman and Singapore

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

It’s been an eventful time since my last post, with no access to internet, so this’ll be a short update on lots of things. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I left the Perhentians on my 29th birthday, September 18. The trip to Taman Negara national park turned out to be a long one, due to Hari Raya, the festival marking the end of Ramadan. The most memorable was probably when our bus was driving around the small streets of Jerantut city, looking for an ATM where we could get cash to bring into the chemically ATM-free Taman Negara. I had 69 Ringgit with me, so going without more cash was hardly an option, and I was not the only one in that position. The first ATM was out of cash, since everybody had been stocking up for the Hari Raya bank holiday. The second one wouldn’t accept foreign credit cards. The third one was also empty, but luckily at the forth ATM (the last one in town…) we got our cash.

Several guest houses in Taman Negara were closed because of Hari Raya, but eventually I got myself checked in. The next morning I slept long, before going into the National park itself. I asked about doing the nine day trek to Mount Tahan, the highest mountain in peninsular Malaysia, but all the guides were off for … you guessed it: Hari Raya. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Instead I headed out alone on a short trek, that turned into a long trek, and nearly an involuntary overnight trek… I went on the Canopy Walkway, long bridges high up in the trees, and then I continued on to scale at least a small mountain, Bukit Indah. When I came back down, I was five kilometers from the village I came from, Kuala Tahan, and six from Kuala Terrenggan. I decided to go up to Terrenggan instead of going back the same way I’d come. It was a pretty hard trek, up and down small canyons with a creek to be forded in the bottom of each, and fallen trees across the path every few meters, to be climbed over, crawled under or walked around. A wild boar got as surprised as I did, when we were suddenly staring each other in the face a few meters apart, and I don’t know who jumped higher, me or it… Luckily the startled hog decided to head the other direction, because I barely had time to remember how aggressive these tusked animals can be, and look for a tree to climb to get out of the reach of those sharp things before he was gone in the undergrowth.

In the middle of nowhere I walked into a camp of Orang Asli, the aboriginal nomads inhabiting the national park, and they could tell me I was not too far away from Terrenggan. With lifted spirits I pressed on, anxious for a meal and a boat back down the river to Tahan. Imagine my disappointment when Terrengan turned out to be nothing more than a long-abandoned resort, in the process of being reclaimed by the jungle… I was sitting on the old ramshackle pier by the ghost town resort contemplating what to do if no boats came by. I figured I’d have to head back to the Orang Asli, and ask if I could stay the night with them, and head back in the morning. I had a bit of money with me, so at least I could pay them… When I was about to give up, a group of overnight trekkers came down the path, and met with their pre-arranged transport on the very same pier I was sitting! I managed to get a ride down the river, to a shower and a hot meal. The trek that started out as a 45 minute easy walk, turned out to be a gruelling seven-hour adventure that saw me back in my guest house after dark… ๐Ÿ˜€

I met a nice German girl called Katharina in the dorm I was staying, and we travelled together from Taman Negara furher down the east coast of Malaysia to Pulau Tioman. She left there a few days ago, and I left this morning. Tioman was like a bigger version of the Perhentians, with more monitor lizards, more monkeys, and more people. ๐Ÿ™‚ I dove with Fisherman Divers there, had five dives on three different days. I was only planning to stay there a few days, but it turned into a whole week. ๐Ÿ˜›

This morning saw me leaving on the 7:30 boat to Mersing, and then get the bus at noon to Singapore. When I arrived, I spent almost an hour making my way by the subway to Little India, and it turned out I could have walked here in less than half that time… I then strolled around Little India, which is supposed to be the backpacker area, looking for a guest house and asking people, but nobody seemed to think there were anything else than more or less expensive hotels!ย  Eventually I sat down at an artsy fairtrade restaurant, had an expensive (but organic and fair) meal, and used Singapore’s fantastic free WiFi to find out that there were in fact lots of guesthouses nearby. I chose one that I’d heard of from another traveller on the ferry to Tioman, Ali’s Nest, and so far I am happy about the choice. It’s basically a Chinese family in the middle of the Indian quarter who’ve made a couple of the rooms in their apartment into dorms… The family also lives here, and grandma (looks like she’s at least a hundred years old) is looking over my shoulder as I write this. ๐Ÿ™‚

RP’er LFG in Ktm! WoD, D&D, MERPG, VtM, GURPS, anything!

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

First of all, an important announcement: the title Uncle Travelling Gjerulf is no longer a lie… On February 27 around noon Norwegian time, my little sister Jenny gave birth to my first nephew! This picture is taken the same evening, sent to me by my mother, the proud grandma. ๐Ÿ˜€

Now for the heading… I would very much like to play some roleplaying games again! I’ve been thinking about this game I’d like to run in the World of Darkness setting, but I’d also just love to play any game of RPG… I’ve just posted on the Nepal forum in CouchSurfing.com to see if there are any other gamers around, wasting for a session of dungeon crawling or blood curdling horror gaming, or any gaming at all, really….

Day care centre for mentally handicapped childrenIn the past couple of weeks I’ve been to youth gatherings, organized a Sunday Service and had the sermon in church, read books, had diarrhea again, visited a day care centre for mentally disabled children, said goodbye and hello to Mikhiel a couple more times, gone trekking again, and bought plane tickets Kathmandu-New Delhi-Bangkok-Ho Chi Minh City.

Mikhiel came from Tibet, then went to Chitwan National Park, came back, went to a buddhist retreat, came back, and then eventually left for good, to go to India. we talked a bit about his buddhist retreat, and it seems very close to the Christian retreats I’ve heard of, with teaching, silent contemplation, prayer and meditation. Mikhiel is probably the one person I’ve spoken to most in the past four months. I met him, as you remember, at the CS-meeting in Irkutsk, we went to Lake Baikal together, then we met in Ulan Bator for a few days, and now here in Kathmandu.ย  The other day I met up with another CS’er, Sanna from Finland. She is here for volunteer work, but after a week her coordinator still has to give her anything to do. My volunteer work is also limited, so we spent a day roaming Kathmandu’s Durbar Square (Durbar means Palace) and finished the day with a beer on the rooftop terrace at my house.

Water shortages are a fact of living in Kathmandu. It is most obvious in the fact that there is less and less electricity as the rivers are running dry. It’s been a very dry winter, and the only rainfall since I got here was a couple of weeks ago, and came in the form of a very light drizzle that lasted for about three minutes. The holy garbage dump, (some call it “river”) Bagmati is almost dry, which leaves all the feces, human ashes, and other waste of the city just lying there. Atย  the house where I live, a truck comes in every once in a while and fills a cistern in the yard, from which I pump up water to a smaller cistern on the roof whenever there’s electricity to run the pump. On the roof is also a setup that very effectively heats water using the heat of the sun. Saturday a week and a half ago, the house manager ordered more water, but because there’s so little water to be had, it took ten days to arrive, and then I only got 1500 liters… The last seven of those ten days, there was too little water in the cistern in the yard for the pump to get any up to the roof, so I had no running water. No running water means no filtered water, no showers, and most importantly: No water for flushing toilets… In order to get water for flushing, and also for washing myself, I climbed down into the cistern in the yard, where I sat scooping water into buckets, that I hauledย  in to the bathroom. Impractical you say? Well, I say “At least there WAS water.” If it’d been another couple of days before the water truck arrived, I figure I’d have had to start using a bucket for a toilet, and dig a hole in the yard to empty it…

The service on Sunday was very good. The youth did everything from leading the service and playing to the worship, to preparing and showing the power point presentation and filming the service. I now have about ten gigabytes ofย  video that I need to send back to Vardeneset, but I’m having trouble uploading photos for this journal, and I can’t imagine trying to upload several gigs of video… I’ve also been told not to trust the postal system here, so I don’t want to send the memory cards back from here. The post offices are complaining about rats eating the mail, but people say these “rats” must be very choosy, seeing as it’s only valuable mail that gets “eaten”…

I mentioned my tickets. I wanted to go to South East Asia without going by plane, but my plans have been thwarted by political circumstances. It is not possible to go from India into Burma/Myanmar, and there are no boats heading around. This means that I have to fly. Originally, I was supposed to meet my friend Annikken in Vietnam in March, then she got into law school, and our Vietnam travels were postponed till summer holidays. Now it turns out she didn’t like law school, and we’re on for March again. This means that I’m skipping India for now, going directly to Vietnam when my volunteer period is over here in Kathmandu. On March 19 I am taking a plane to New Delhi. I wait at the airport in New Delhi for almost eight hours, and catch a flight to Bangkok, where I arrive early in the morning on the 20th. After over nine hours at Bangkok airport, I head on to Ho Chi Minh City. I leave Kathmandu at 15:45 Nepal time, and arrive in Ho Chi Minh City at 17:35 Vietnam time, 24 hours and 35 minutes later… To be honest, I would much rather take the train for three days, than hanging around planes and airports for 24 hours…
Annikken arrives about half an hour later, and after we go through immigration, we’re hoping we’ll have a CS host to head off to.

I have spent a long time typing this out while doing other things online at the same time, so now I have almost no battery left. It’s still two hours till electricity comes back, so I can’t just plug in the charger either… Oh well, at least I got the post up! I also posted some pictures, but I haven’t taken many in the time when I haven’t been a tourist here. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hoping to get some pics ofย  tame elephants and wild rhinos, bengal tigers and crocodiles in a couple of weeks… I am going to Royal Chitwan National Park! ๐Ÿ˜€

I miss…

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

Settling down here in Kathmandu for a little while has been great, and it has given me time to miss things. When I’m travelling from place to place every few days, there’s not really any time to miss anything. Now that I’ve been here for over a month, I’ve started to realize that I miss things, and thiss is, believe it or not, not necessarily a bad feeling! ๐Ÿ™‚

I miss friends and family, I miss work, I miss the ocean, I miss ice skating, I miss role playing games and board games, I miss clean air, I miss a good bicycle, I miss round-the-clock electricity and internet access, and the weirdest little things that pop into my mind every once in a while. I also miss travelling, and I am looking forward to moving on again. The funny thing is that not all the things I miss are things I would like to go back to right away. At the international church on Sunday, the headmaster (mistress?) of Kathmandu International Study Centre was doing the sermon. The congregation is, as I’ve mentioned before, made up mostly of expats, and she was talking about missing things back home in our own countries, while at the same time wanting to stay here. The reason she brought it up, was as a comparison to how she felt as a Christian, being drawn between a longing for the perfect existence with God when this world kicks it, and wanting to live life here and now as much as possible, for as long as possible!

I found it a good comparison. I guess I can make the same comparison with my journey. I long for being back home, but I want to make the journey there as long and enjoyable as possible. (Do not take this parable any further. Norway is NOT heaven, and I don’t feel as if my journey is comparable to “walking through the valley of the shadow of death”… ๐Ÿ˜› )

On a more day-to-day update, my week is not very busy. I have choir practice on Monday nights, even though I won’t be here for the concert at the end of the semester. Tuesday afternoons we plan the youth group (Sparx) the coming Sunday, and on Tuesday evening I meet some other Norwegians who have a prayer group. Wednesday to Saturday I fill with socializing, reading, and planning what to do with the youth work, and Sunday sees me at service in the morning and Sparx in the afternoon. When the board here gets it report, I think I will suggest that if they hire a permanent youth worker, they go for part time, two or three days a week. I am meeting a couple of the board members tomorrow night, to evaluate the stay so far. ๐Ÿ™‚

Proposal of marriage

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

It’s turning out to take a bit longer between each time I post, now that I’m not moving around. This is for several reasons. I already mentioned that I don’t have internet access at home, but I’m now at the Higher Ground cafรฉ, which is the only cafรฉ I’ve found that offers free WiFi for the customers. Also I’m a bit more busy, and my activities are a bit more commonplace and thus a little less interesting to write about. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll relate a little from the past week that has been memorable, though.

Early Saturday morning, I took a bus out to Suriya Binayak, whichย  is the place Milan lives, just south of Bhaktapur. I met up with Milan there, and we walked south into the hills. Milan was telling me how he’d been thinking of buying a plot of land up there, and building a small cottage to go to in weekends, and maybe renting out to tourists. We stopped in little villages on the way, for refreshments in the form of small cups of milk tea and barley or rice beer. The “beer” tastes nothing like western beer, it is a cloudy, milky white, and the taste isย  slightly reminiscent of lemonade with just a hint of sugar… Milan spoke to the locals, asking them about distances between villages, directions for where we were going as well as other villages in the area. At one point we met a local school teacher, who knew actual distances in kilometers, instead of in the time it would take them to walk… ๐Ÿ˜‰ At one point a group of mountain bikers zipped past us down the hill at break-neck speed, and I made a mental note that I’m going to HAVE to do that before I leave!

As we went on hiking, we came up through a pass, and as we were heading down into the next valley, a small suzuki 4wd stops on the shoulder of the little road we were walking down. As always, Milan makes a little smalltalk, and quickly realizes that the driver is a friend of a friend, and we’re invited up to their cottage just up the hill next to the parked car. It was a gorgeous place, with a marvellous view of the Himalayas from the Lang Tang to Kangchenjunga and if the weather was clearer we would’ve even seen the Everest. The guy had recently finished building it, and was planning to hire a couple of people to run it as a guest house in the tourist season, and then use it as a private cottage in the off season. He and Milan really hit it off, and even discussed possible furnishing options, publicity, and the like, and before we left, after having been treated to a traditional lunch, they’d exchanged phone numbers and planned to meet up again to continue the talk!

The views of Kathmandu Valley had been gorgeous along the way, and we both agreed it’s weird that not more people come out there for walking! You can get out there on a local bus, for the neat sum of 15 Nepali rupees, and it’s completely quiet, the air is fresh, and the atmosphere is the exact opposite of the busy, traffic-clogged streets of Kathmandu! It was an almost religious experience to walk along the forested ridges and up and down hillsides, here dry and warm in the sun, and there moist, lush andย  green in the shade. After a while we reached another pass, and from there it was all down hill. It fogged up as we descended, and by the time we reached the floor of the valley at Lamatar, it was dark. The goal for the day was Milan’s cousin’s house, but with the horrible cell phone coverage in Nepal, he’d been unable to get through, so we showed up unannounced. Milan told me that over four years ago he’d been acting as stand-in for his cousin’s parents when her marriage to a christian Nepali man was arranged, but he hadn’t had an opportunity to visit her since then, even though it’s not really that far away!

When we’d finally managed to ask our way to the house, it was completely dark, and it turned out the the cousin and her husband weren’t home. Their two children were there, however, with the cousin’s mother in law. We stopped in for a cup of tea, but when we said we’d be taking the bus (about fourty-five minutes) back to Kathmandu, the old lady looked hurt, (I’m not too old to cook, you know!) We were treated to a wonderful baal bhaat, and I played with the children, a two year old boy and a four year old girl.

The next morning we got up at seven, had a cup of tea, and left for Kathmandu. While we were waiting for the bus, a rather wealthy looking couple in a big SUV picked us up, and I was home at eight already, in time to have breakfast and a shower, and prepare a sign-up list for the youth social the following Saturday, which I brought with me to church at eleven. After the service I was invited to lunch at a restaurant by some Norwegians, and then I tagged along to a youth group meeting they have every Sunday afternoon, called “Sparks.” I had dinner with the host and some of the older youths after Sparks, and then headed off back to church, because they were having an evening “contemporary worship service” that Sunday.

Monday and most of Tuesday I was basically locked up at home with a stomach ache, and I don’t think I’ll be going too far today either, at least not to anywhere with no proper toilet… Yesterday I got a phone call from Mikhel, the Dutch buddhist guy I met in Irkutsk, and then spent time with in Mongolia. He’d just arrived in Kathmandu, and I went to meet him. He’s staying with me for a few days, while he’s here. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now, you might be wondering about the heading of this post… When we were in Lamatar, and were sitting around having supper, Milan suddenly started laughing so hard he almost fell over. When he got himself together enough to answer my inquiries, he explained that the four year old girl had just asked him if he could make her father contact my parents, and arrange for our marriage! Milan proceeded to patiently explain to her that she would have to be grown up before she could marry anyone, to which the answer was clear: “I’ll make sure I grow up by Wednesday, when Daddy comes back!”

(EDIT: Pictures from my trek in Panchase outside Pokhara are finally up – captions to come later)