Posts Tagged ‘friends’

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… πŸ˜› 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.Β  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 Øyvin, and two of my classmates from primary school and junior high, Gunn Ragnhild and Valdis. I went scuba diving with all of them,Β  but Anne Malene and Øyvin 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. πŸ˜€ If anyone else wants to come and learn to dive, just give me a holler, and I’ll set you up! πŸ™‚

In other news, I have crossed over to SDI, and now teach divers through that organization as well as PADI.Β  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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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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ˜‰ He answered a mildly confused “uuh, no? Why?” and was slightly more than mildly surprised when I invited myself over!

I spent a long weekendΒ 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… πŸ˜‰ 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… πŸ˜€

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. πŸ˜› 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. πŸ˜› A short while later my brother-in-law came home, and another surprise was sprung… ItΒ 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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ˜‰ If you’re around, give me a holler!

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,Β  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. πŸ™‚ I am also 17 dives short of 100, so I might try to get my 100th dive in on my birthday. πŸ˜‰

Tubing in Vang Vieng

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

On Wednesday night my train left Bangkok a little past eight. I was travelling with Daniel and Joachim, whom I€ met in Pattaya, and in a bunk near us was a Dutch girl who was going to do an internship in the tourist industry in some National Park in Thailand. The girl was nice, and had a deck of cards, so we sat in the cafe carriage playing until they kicked us out. We returned to our own carriage, and probably kept people awake with our talking long into the night.

When we got up the next morning our train soon pulled into the city closest to the Laotian border, where we bought tickets for the final 15 minutes into Laos. We went through the Thai border control before boarding the train, and got our visas with surprising efficiency when we reached the other side. We shared a minibus with some other backpackers the 20 minutes ride into Vientiane, where Daniel, Joachim and I eventually found the bus station where the cheap local buses for Vang Vieng leave from. Apart from a couple of girls from Denmark, we were the only westerners on the bus. It was an old and rickety bus without aircon and with broken fans, but the windows were open, so I wasn’t too hot. One funny incident on the way, was when we passed an overturned pick up truck in the road. The truck lay on it’s side, and it’s load of fruit had been gathered up on the side of the road. The bus pulled over next to the truck and everybody got out. We promptly tipped the truck right side up, got back in our bus again, and continued on our way.

When we reached Vang Vieng I asked the Danes whether they had a guest house booked, because that’s often how I get to the cheap places to sleep, by leeching off of other people’s research, not to mention it’s a great conversation starter when you meet beautiful young women… πŸ˜› They didn’t have a reservation, but we set out together to see if we couldn’t find a decent place anyway. The first one we stopped in had a nice laid-back lounge up front, with lots of DVDs, hot water, free wi-fi, a roof terrace, free drinking water, and basically seemed nicer than most places. Since we arrived at the same time, we were asked if we wanted a room for five people, and after a little deliberation and some overdue introductions, that became the arrangement, so that night we were five Scandinavians heading out to an Indian dinner together.

Vang Vieng is located in beautiful karst scenery, like Halong Bay and Ninh Binh, and this has been developed by the locals, to offer kayaking, climbing, caving and tubing. Seeing as the young crowd these things attract don’t necessarily have a lot of money, the place is set up to cater to backpackers, and the prices follow suit. The small town is packed with backpackers’ guest houses, restaurants-cum-TVroom that show Family Guy, American Dad or Friends non stop, not to mention bars galore. Thus, after dinner, Daniel, Joachim, Simone, Cecilie and I headed across a plank bridge to an island in the middle of the Nam Song river, and a place called Sunset Bar. The place is outdoors, but has platforms with roofs over for those rainy days, and hammocks and pillows strewn all along the platforms. We all really liked the place, and stayed there till it was time to head home to sleep.

Friday morning we all got ready to go tubing, which is the main attraction in Vang Vieng. That meant that we put on our swim suits, rented inner tubes from trucks’ wheels and got driven by Tuk-Tuk three kilometers out of town to a place in the river where we got dumped with our tubes to float our way back down on the river. All along the banks were bars with swings, zip lines, water slides, mud pits and the like, and we had a lot of fun. On the way, when we stopped along the banks, somebody took two of our tubes, though, but we decided to return the next day, and just swim down the river instead. πŸ™‚ The mud pits were at the last place we stopped at, and we didn’t get all the mud off, so our bathroom was literally COVERED in mud by the time we’d showered. After some pizza we headed back to Sunset and the hammocks, but were so exhausted from tubing that we soon went back and to bed.

Saturday morning started with breakfast at one of the places where you lie down on pillows by a low table, and watch Friends. After breakfast we checked out of the Babylon, since the power was gone, the water was gone, internet wasn’t working, and the owner was a psycho who hauled Joachim out after his hair when he asked when the power might beΒ  back… We checked into a much better AND cheaper room in the guest house next door, called Nazim. Like we had planned, we went back to the river without the tubes, and had a great time again, and again rounded off the night at Sunset after dinner.

On Sunday we decided to go explore a cave, after our long Friends-breakfast. We rented three scooters between the five of us, bought a map, and headed out of town. Some 15 kilometers out we turned off from the main road, and followed a gravel road a few hundred meters towards, and across the river. From there it was more of a path than a dirt road… πŸ™‚ We finally reached the cave, where they rent out tubes and torches, and we started swimming into the cave. A tributary to Nam Song River runs out of the cave, and although you can wade in during the dry season, it’s been raining enough lately that we had to swim. The cave is apparently 500 meters long, but we didn’t follow it all the way to the end. It was a really weird experience to be floating around in a tube, deep inside a mountain! On our way back it got dark, and it was time for dinner. After dinner we decided to honour the Scandinavian tradition of a Vorspiel, before-party, in our hotel room, so we bought some beer, and sat around playing games and listening to Kim Larsen… πŸ˜€ Once again, we rounded off the night with our friends in Sunset, since that was THE place to meet people.

Monday morning saw us at the Friendsfast again, and I went tubing with the girls, while Joachim went for a looong ride on a rented scooter, and Daniel was stuck in bed with problems of a digestive nature. At the end of theΒ  day’s playing in the river and dancing at the bars, we didn’t even TRY to rinse off the mud from the mud pit, and instead headed into town covered from head to toe, assaulting other, cleaner specimen of tubers… πŸ˜› I thought the bathroom was dirty the first night after tubing, but after we’d helped each other get rid of all the mud on this day,Β  we had to shovel the mud from the floor! Even though it was still early, the others fell asleep as soon as they’d dried off from the shower, and in one case before, so I just headed out on my own for a baguette for dinner and went to bed myself.

Yesterday the boys headed back to Bangkok to get some clothes made and stuff before going back to Norway, and the three of us that were left moved into a smaller room in the same hotel. A slow day was spent watching Friends, buying bus tickets out of there, getting a massage, playing pool, and as usual rounding off in the hammocks. This morning the bus left at 10am, and we arrived in Vientiane around 2pm. I said goodbye to Simone and Cecilie at the bus station, where they were getting on a bus to Hanoi in Vietnam. I myself took a Tuk-Tuk downtown, and I’m finishing this post in my room here. There’s unfortunately no wifi here, but I’m hoping to get this posted somehow before I go to bed.

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! πŸ™‚

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”… πŸ˜› )

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. πŸ™‚