Archive for the ‘Memories’ 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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Return to Paradise

Friday, April 16th, 2010

I’ve been nagging about this in my last three posts, but just to confirm it: I’m back in the PERHENTIANS! I came on the first boat this morning, and I’ve settled in above the dive shop, in one of the three rooms upstairs. Three of the people who were here with Sunlight last year were already living there when I arrived, Wan, his brother and another fellow I haven’t met before are sharing one room, Emma and Bob are sharing another.

On my way here from Bali, I had two nightsย  (or rather one and a half) in Kuala Lumpur. My plane landed at twenty past midnight, and by the time I found a guest house, Reggae, it was 2 am. On the first floor of Reggae Guest House was Reggae night club, but luckily they turned off the music by the time I turned in a little before 3. It was a little expensive (and a lot loud…) so I moved the next morning, down the street and out of earshot, to Wheelers guest house. The price was about half, but it was definately not worth it, as it turned out the place had bed bugs. ๐Ÿ™ My suggestion: never ever stay in Wheelers guest house in KL.ย  I had a nice day before, though, as I met up with Ali and Sundar again, same as last time I was in KL. We spent the day around Bukit Bintang where Ali lives, and went out to eat at an Irish pub.ย  (the Beef and Guinness Pie at Finnegan’s is brilliant!)

Yesterday my flight from KL to Kota Bharu was delayed, so I didn’t make it to Kuala Besut in time for the last boat and had to spend the night.

I went over to Panorama today, where Emma is working as a divemaster this season. She was out diving, so I was just hangin’ around until she came back. When she arrived, I was sitting with my back turned, behind a one of the pillars supporting the deck above, and one of the other Swedish girls there told Emma in a serious voice that some very weird guy had been asking for her. Her expression of utter bewilderment turning to recognition as I peeked around the pillar was priceless!

There seems to be a little challenge to overcome before I can get started in setting up here, but I hope it’s nothing big. Sunlight has three years left on the lease of the place, but there are some details of the agreement we need to go over with the owners of Moonlight and the owners of Sunlight divers, and then the real work sets in. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am itching to get started, so I hope it won’t take too long. I’m waiting to hear from Richard before I start contacting the people that need to be involved, don’t want to step on any toes and blow up possible deals in my first days here… ๐Ÿ˜‰ It feels good to be back, though, and I do hope the good feeling about working out a nice deal here will prove to be right!

Bye bye Bali

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Since I finished my diving specialties, I haven’t really been doing much… My days have been spent on the beach, walking around Sanur, surfing the net and watching movies and tv series.

I’ve had excellent company in my days of laziness, though. I managed to get in touch with Leonid, a couchsurfer I met in Irkutsk in Siberia, november 2008! He was hitchhiking back then, and his goal was Bali. A year ago, five months after I last saw him, he reached Bali, and he’s since set himself up with a job in a real estate office right here in Sanur! This week he had two couchsurfers staying at his place, Gosia from Poland and Houda from Morocco, and I spent a lot of time with them. Gosia is a backpacker who came here from New Zealand and Australia, heading up north, basically going back to Europe overland, the same way I came here a year ago. Houda lives in Malaysia, and was here on a visa run, to get another 90 days’ stay.

Yesterday my copy of winXP refused to start up, saying it needed activation. I couldn’t activate it, because it was an oem version from another machine, so I headed off to Denpasar to find a place where I could get hold of an external DVD-player to run the recovery DVD off of. I was told there was an electronics mall called Rimo, where I could get a good deal. The deal I got when I found the place was indeed good. I had a good time talking to a young Indonesian guy, while I borrowed the store’s external DVD-player, and it was completely free! The only drawback is that it just ghosted the standard installation, and that one is full of Microsoft’s crappy little programs that take up storage space and processing power for no intelligent reason…

I have now checked out of Little Pond, where I’ve been staying since got here. My luggage is stored in Blue Season, and in about an hour I head up north to Tulamben with Jon, my course director, for the Night Diving Specialy Instructor course dive that was postponed. We’re staying in Tulamben tonight, and head back here tomorrow. My last night in Bali, I couchsurf with Leo, and late Tuesday night I have a flight to Kuala Lumpur.

God pรฅske, Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

Today is Easter Sunday and I googled church in Sanur, and foundย  the Gateway Community Church, where they celebrate Sunday Service at 10am every Sunday.ย  I hailed a bemo and got there at 9:35, and was perplexed that there were no cars outside. When I came up to the door, it said that the congregation celebrated Easter Sunday at another church at 7am this morning…

As some of you will remember, I did my Divemaster course in the Perhentian Islands last year, and one of my friends down there, Richard, headed out to the Philippines to build a boat. The boat is now as good as done, and he’ll be sailing it down to the Perhentians.ย  I’ll be meeting him there, and I’ll be one of three instructors working with him and his sister in their new company South Sea Nomads. Those interested can read about the build and the people on the Lonely Planet Travel Blog, and follow them on twitter.

I am hanging around Bali for another week, then on the 11th I’ll do the night dive for my Night Diving Specialty Instructor course. We were supposed to do that dive a couple of days ago, but when we got down to Sanur beach around sunset, the boat we were supposed to go out on was beached like 150 meters from the sea, because somebody had forgotten to bring it out to deeper water before the tide went out… Jonathan Cross, the instructor trainer, then went on his easter holiday, so we’ll be doing the dive when he returns.

On April 13 I fly out to Kuala Lumpur, where I’ll arrive after midnight. Rich will be sending me some info by email tomorrow, so then I’ll know more about the logistics of starting up the business in the Perhentians. I’ll be there before the boat gets there, to prepare things, but that’s about as much as I know right now, so I guess this post will be a “to be continued” type cliffhanger…

Farewell Perhentians and Sunlight Divers

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Uncle Travelling Gjerulf will travel once again! I have lived in Moonlight Chalets on Long Beach on Perhentian Kecil for two months and ten days, but tomorrow morning I head out to Taman Negara. The boat leaves the island at eight, and my bus from Kuala Besut to Taman Negara leaves at ten, and if we keep to the schedule I’ll arrive around four pm. That means that most of my birthday will be spent travelling, but that is only fitting. ๐Ÿ™‚ I haven’t decided how long I’ll be staying in Taman Negara, but I’d like to do a proper jungle trek, so possibly a week. After that I head out to Kuala Lumpur.

As for the the snorkel test, I survived, although my rib came out the other end a little worse for wear… The first thing we had to do was get dressed up in clothes that were supplied by the instructors. We then had a quiz about obscure diving knowledge, where for every question not answered, or answered wrong, we’d have a shot of monkey juice. (Orang Utan, a local fortified wine) Then came some charades where the three of us were miming different fish, and competing against everyone else, with the punishment for us if the others guessed it first being another shot of the monkey. This was followed by an obstacle course on the beach, and finally the snorkelling itself. The mix was evil, but Rich spared us his home brew, so we all survived. The rib, which I’ve kept bruising when it’s just about healed, bruised up in the end of the obstacle course, where we had to wrestle our way past the instructors to get to the finish line… ๐Ÿ˜›

I love the island, and the crew here, so I’ll be back!

Mr. Noddeland, Divemaster

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

So. I have finished my Divemaster training. Paperwork is the only thing separating me from a certification, but there is still one unofficial test to come: The snorkel test… For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, I’ll give a brief description.

There are variations over a theme, with quizzes, obstacle courses, competitions and various embarrassing performances, but the central feature of a snorkel test is the snorkel. (of course) With a large audience in a bar on the beach, the budding Divemaster (read: victim) has to put on a mask and snorkel. The snorkel has a funnel attached to the top, and the victim has to drink whatever comes through the snorkel. The “drink” depends on the experiences of the instructors and divemaster friends organizing the event, i.e. how horrible was the concoctions poured down their own throats when they were going through this rite of passage. Some places I know it is pure alcohol, other places it’s just pure evil… Beer, soup, wine, milk, liquor, HP sauce,ย  syrup, etc. Since the victim is wearing a mask, he cannot breathe through his nose, and with the evil mix being rushed through the snorkel by the weight of what’s in the big funnel, the only to options are to swallow, or spit out the snorkel.

Tonight we are three Divemaster Trainees going through this at the same time, Emma from Sweden, Jukka from Finland and myself. I know that Richard, an assistant instructor, has been brewing some crap on his balcony, made from coconuts, watermelons, sugar and yeast, so I suspect that will feature strongly in the snorkels tonight, probably along with both beer and the infamous Monkey Juice, which is the nickname the local Orang Utan brew has received from the foreigners here.

On a more sober note, I am happy to be done, but a little sad to be leaving soon. I’ve made some good friends here on Pulau Perhentian Kecil, and I’m quite sure I’ll be returning in the future. I might stay around here for a couple of weeks still, in order to get to celebrate my birthday with friends instead of strangers. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am also 17 dives short of 100, so I might try to get my 100th dive in on my birthday. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Full Moon Party in Koh Pha Ngan

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Friday night I took the night bus from Bangkok to Chumporn, and the boat from there to Koh Pha Ngan. I walked around for a bit, looking for a guest house, but all I could find was way too expensive, so I was preparing to find a place to store my luggage and just sleep on the beach, when I found a place that had bungalows at a price that wasn’t blood curdling… I had just checked in, when another traveller in the same situation came walking up. He was a bit put off by the price, and I suggested we share a bungalow, seeing ass they all had two beds anyway. His name is Lucas, he’s from Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, but has been living the last seven years in London. He’s a fun guy, friendly and outgoing and flamboyantly gay. ๐Ÿ˜›

The atmosphere here is a little like Vang Vieng, with lots of people out to party, but it’s both a bit less laid back and has a bit older crowd, i.e. more people my age… The reason why I came here was the full moon party last night, and it was a lot of fun. ๐Ÿ™‚ All the guest houses and restaurants along the beach rig up with bars and music and lights on the beach itself, and the whole beach is crammed with people dancing, eating, drinking or just sitting around talking. I met Helena again, that I went sightseeing in Vientiane with, Lucas attracted both girls and gay guys, and we ended up being a big group of people having fun together. I’ve also seen a few other people that I’ve met around South East Asia, but not as many as expected. The party was even bigger than I’d expected, apparently tens of thousands of people, and the chances of meeting people again in such a throng are not very great.

This morning we watched the sunrise on the beach, and then went to bed for a few hours before we had to check out. We found an even cheaper place to stay, at an Israeli guest house, and have moved there now. Lucas is really happy that it has aircon, but I’m afraid I’ll get a cold again… Today has been spent like the last two days, lounging on the beach, and my nose is peeling from too much sun. I am generally good at remembering the spf, but on the boat out here it was packed in my big backpack, and I spent all three hours of the crossing on deck, which was a thoroughly stupid thing to do. The water is so warm here that it doesn’t really cool you down very much, so people spend hours on end in the sea. It feels nice, but it’s not helping my sunburn, seeing as there’s no shade out there… ๐Ÿ˜›

Tonight I am planning to head to bed early, and tomorrow I might rent a moped and drive around the island. There are supposed to be some nice beaches away from the crowds out on the east side of the island, so I’ll try to find one of them and relax with my new book. I couldn’t find any of the books I was looking for in the book exchange store I went to, so I decided on a classic, Anna Karenina. I am looking into doing an internship for my Dive Master course, but I’m not sure where I’ll end up. I hope to find something out on Koh Similian or Koh Phi Phi, because those islands have the best dive sites in Thailand, but I’m also trying to find out about diving in Malaysia.

Bangkok stopover

Friday, June 5th, 2009

On Tuesday Hannah and I rented bicycles and headed south on Don Det, to the old railway bridge connecting it with the larger island of Don Khon. We rode past the remains of a small, old French locomotive, and west out to the Tat Somphamit waterfalls. The part of the Mekong that runs west of the islands comes crashing down through rocky canyons, and the mighty river, that has turned brown with the tons of silt washed out by the rains now in the rainy season, roars with a deep bass that resonates with something deep inside the stomach. It was a truly breathtaking experience! From there we cycled south, to a much lauded beach that turned out to be a smelly stretch of dirty, brown sand, where we stopped for a soda in the heat. We turned our bikes east on a small dirt path, until we reached the course of the old railroad again. The French built the little stretch of rails to transport goods from boats downstream of the waterfalls to the boats waiting to take them further upstream to Vientiane and beyond, but now the rails are gone, and we bumped south on the coarse gravel on which the tracks used to lie. My travel guide informs me that the government is talking about restoring the little railroad, but warns me not to hold my breath waiting…

We reached the tiny village of Ban Hang Khon at the south tip of the island, and across the river was Cambodia. It is possible to rent a boat to go out and try to spot the rare Irrawaddy fresh water dolphins, but like in Lake Baikal it was both too expensive and also the wrong season to go fresh water dolphin spotting… Instead we turned back north, and followed the eastern edge of Don Khon up to Don Khon Village. We stopped for a late lunch, and while we were sitting there, a mighty rainshower turned the road to mud, which the scorching hot sun turned dry again before long. Back in our guest house on Don Det, Mama Tan Orn’s Rasta Cafe and Guest House, the rest of the day was spent in exactly the way we came to the four thousand islands for to begin with: In hammocks with our respective books. ๐Ÿ™‚

On Wednesday Hannah had to catch the boat and bus back to Vientiane to pick up her new passport from the Australian Embassy. She left at eleven, and shortly after I went to enquire about tickets to go to southern Thailand. I found that the best way would be to just buy a bus ticket to Ubon Ratchatani, and find my own way to the railway station and buy a ticket on the night train to Bangkok from there. For lunch I went to a bakery run jointly by a Laotian family and a man from Australia that has some amazing cinnamon rolls for next to nothing. I sat there for hours, reading, until an incredibly fierce rainshower crashed down over us, while the sun was still shiningย  just as strongly as always. After about three minutes it stopped as abruptly as it had started, and it was difficult to comprehend how much it had rained just seconds earlier! The only other customer and I looked unbelievingly at each other, and simultaneously exclaimed “That was unreal!”

We got to talking, and discussed what was worth doing on the islands. Her name was Lisa, she was from Germany, and she’d rented a bicycle that morning, but hadn’t found the waterfalls. I told her where they were, and that they were worth an extra trip out there. We figured that there was just enough time to go out there and back again before it would get dark, so off we went in a hurry. While we were out at the waterfalls it started raining so hard that when we found shelter after a couple of minutes I could wring several deciliters of water out of my T-shirt… The only other traveller out there so late was Kaye from England, who was hoping to get some video shots of the sunset over the waterfalls. She wants to be a TV announcer, and was using her travels as an opportunity to compile a show-reel to send with her applications when she returns home, and I remembered seeing her filming herself buying a donut in the bakery earlier that day. We all waited out the rain, but there was no sunset to film. The three of us headed back to Don Det together as it was getting dark, and then went out for dinner together. Kaye was tired, and went to bed early, and Lisa was leaving for Cambodia early the next morning, but we stayed on the back porch of my guest house until almost midnight anyway, because she wanted to see some photos from Nepal, as she was thinking of going there later.

Yesterday morning I bought the bus ticket I’d forgotten all about the night before, and had breakfast with Kaye in the bakery before I went to the pier to take the boat to the mainland. From there I went to Pakse in a minibus, and from Pakse across the border on a VIP bus. We arrived at the border just too late to change our Laotian Kip into Thai Baht, and the bus driver offered a totally unacceptable rate, so I got in a sawngthaew, a pick-up truck with two benches along the sides in the back, to go to the train station, hoping to be able to exchange there. I got to talking to a Lao man who spoke incredibly good English on the truck, and he told me there were no places that would accept Lao Kip anywhere outside of Laos and it’s borders. I almost considered going back to the bus station to make the change with the greedy bus driver, even though that would mean missing my train, because I had way to much Kip left to let it slide, when the guy offered to buy the Kip from me! We looked up the going rate online on his palmtop, and I insisted on giving him a slightly more favorable rate, seeing as he had just saved me from a much greater loss. I find that the people around south east Asia are extremely friendly and helpful, it’s just too bad that communication is so difficult when I don’t speak their language, and very few of them can speak enough English to communicate properly!

The train ticket was cheap, and I bought the cheapest option with a bed, second class with fan, upper bunk, but I couldn’t buy a ticket all the way to Suratani, where the boat to Koh Pha-Ngan leaves from, I would have to buy the Bangkok-Suratani ticket in Bangkok. I spent some time in the restaurant car, and had several “conversations” with Thai people who spoke no more than five words of English between them, but insisted I sit down and share their food and have a glass of Thai beer with ice. ๐Ÿ™‚ When the restaurant car closed at 22hrs, I went to bed, watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica on my laptop, and slept like a baby until the conductor woke me up at 7:25, five minutes before we rolled into Bangkok station.

When I got to the ticket counter there, it turned out that because of the upcoming full moon party, all the trains were fully booked… I went instead to a travel agency, that managed to find an available seat on a night bus, with the boat ticket included. The bus doesn’t leave Bangkok till seven pm, which meant I had over ten hours to kill in Bangkok. I used the facilities in the train station to brush my teeth and have a shave, before I caught the subway out to Lumpini park, where I had breakfast at the food court. A very outgoing lady there wanted to serve me a Herbalife shake for breakfast, but laughed with me when I broke out in laughter at the thought of ME drinking a weight-loss shake when what I really needed was something that would put some meat back on my rather lanky frame… ๐Ÿ˜› It’s funny how when I travel, I loose weight even when I feel I do nothing but eat!

The lady showed me where the best food in the food court was, and pointed out her favorites, all the while talking about her friend in Bergen, and her involvment in CISV, Children’s International Summer Villages. I got her card, and she urged me to try volunteering for CISV when I return to Norway. After breakfast, I walked around the park for a while, looking at the wealthy and bored Bangkokians working out, or just enjoying a morning stroll in the painstakingly trimmed green lung in the middle of this smoggy metropolis. It is weird to think that only a few hundred meters away, people are struggling to eke out a living in the squallor of Bangkok’s slums…
When I came out of the park, a Tuk-Tuk driver immediately pulled up, as I was rifling through my Lonely Planet guide to come up with something else to pass the time. He asked me where I wanted to go, and looked a little confused when I said I didn’t know… A little explanation later, he understood my situation, and suggested to give me a tour of the main sights. I lied and said that I’d seen them all, and was just looking for a way to while away eight more hours. For some reason, Bangkok is not a city where I feel the need to see the temples, pagodas and museums, but I didn’t think I would be able to make him understand, seeing as I don’t really understand it myself. It’s just something about the city that tells me to observe the things that I accidentally come across, instead of seeking out the sights. The driver pointed out a couple of things within walking distance, wished me luck and a good journey, and drove off in search of people with a little more specific goals for the day…

I walked aimlessly up wide boulevards with noisy, polluting traffic and down narrow alleys with exotic, but by now familiar smells coming from the food stalls lining them, until I happened upon a Starbucks… I haven’t been to Starbucks since Xian in China around Christmas time, so I decided to treat myself to a Grande of Today’s special coffee, and surf the net. It turned out I have to pay for the web access, but the Columbian blend was completely worth it, although it cost twice as much as my entire breakfast in the park… I have gotten to actually enjoy the ice coffee with sweet condensed milk that’s served in street stalls and small side walk cafes, but a nice, hot cup o’ joe, black as sin and bitter as an old widower, consumed sitting feet-up on a soft leather couch in an airconditioned Starbucks is a luxury I’m thoroughly enjoying, and charging my laptop while I’m at it is an added bonus. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s hoping there’re rooms available in Koh Pha-Ngan tomorrow, so I don’t have to sleep on the beach. ๐Ÿ˜›

Hoi An

Friday, April 10th, 2009

The week before we got to Hoi An was spent in Nha Trang. Due to heavy rain, Annikken thought she deserved a day at the SPA where a body scrub, hot stone massage, manicure and pedicure was on the menu. She was pampered and cuddled and returned to Gjerulf a happier more energetic woman. Meanwhile, Gjerulf took a boat trip around the islands outside Nha Trang in the rain… He enjoyed it, but Annikken did the same trip three years ago in beautiful sunshine, and felt it couldn’t be topped.

The week also contained a refreshing trip to Thap Ba hot springs, with mud bath, mineral baths and mineral showers. After having spent a good week in Nha Trang, we took the sleeper bus to Hoi An, of which Gjerulf has heard a lot lately. In 2006 Annikken spent three months studying here, and this visit is a trip down memory lane, and at the same time rediscovering Hoi An. In the first two days here she has shown Gjerulf her favorite Breakfast Noodle Soup place, her favorite dinner restaurant, her favorite bar, her favorite French Bakery, her favorite beach, and her old study centre, where she also had time to go every once in a while… After the first night, in the first hotel we happened to drop in at after a sleepless night on the bus, we also went to see the hotel where she used to stay. Due to Annikken’s old contacts (who still remembered her name!), her charm, and the fact we’re here off season, we’re now staying in a 45 dollar room for 15 dollars, with air con, a balcony, a bath tub, and breakfast included. We met some nice people at her favorite bar, and headed with them out to Cam Nam Island, to a bar called King Kong, where we put our names on the wall, where hundreds of other travellers had done the same.

Hoi An is known for the food, the laid back atmosphere, the Unesco World Heritage listed old town, and last but not least the numerous tailors crowding every street of the city! They are known for their low prices and good workmanship, and we spent the main part of our second day here shopping for clothes. Annikken was getting some dresses and tops made for her and her friend, and Gjerulf was getting a couple of kaftans. In the evening, we headed out to King Kong again, to meet some guys we’d met the night before.

Our third day was spent at the stunningly beautiful beach, where the beach hawkers also recognized Annikken! ๐Ÿ™‚ That evening the moon was full, and Hoi An celebrated it’s full moon festival. There were lanterns lit and put on the river, cultural shows on boats and improvised stages around the old town, and even a martial arts show, and we met up with our friends from King Kong bar.

Both of us got quite sunburned on the beach that day, so on our forth day rented a motorbike went to Marble Mountain, an extraordinary piece of geography (or is it geology?) about 20 kilometers from Hoi An, named for the amazing marble extracted from it and the surrounding hills. The steep sides of the hill had steps going up to temples, pagodas, caves and view points, and in the village surrounding it, more than half the shops were stone cutters! On the way there on our rented moped, a vietnamese woman drove up beside us and started chatting. It turned out she lived just next to Marble Mountain, and ran a stone cutting business there with her family. She let us park our moped there for free, and Annikken struck a good deal with her on a marble mortar and pestle when we were done sightseeing. Next to Marble Mountain is China Beach, where we went to “Hoas Place” for dinner. Hoa himself was playing poker with a Canadian and an Australian, and was very drunk, even though it was only 4.30. He kept telling us to take it easy, and gave us lots of hugs when he realized Annikken had been there in 2006… The food was great, especially the spring rolls, but we forgot to sign the guestbook before we left, even though we had planned to find Annikken’s last entry in the back log of over 20 books!

Today we are headed to Hanoi, to renew Gjerulf’s visa. At the airport in Saigon he was given a 15 day visa, instead of the 30 day one he was supposed to get, and we found this out only after it’d run out, so he’s hoping fervently it won’t cost a fortune in fines… Although we had not planned to go to Hanoi quite yet, we’re not all that sad to leave, considering the weather forecast has predicted rain all of next week! We’ll rather come back later and get some sunshine. ๐Ÿ™‚