Posts Tagged ‘London’

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.

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! πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™ 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!” πŸ˜€

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!

Temples of Angkor

Friday, May 8th, 2009

I am now travelling alone again. Annikken and I spent our last night together in Vietnam in the company of Karoline, Jake and Bryan at the GO2 in Saigon. I stayed in a cheap dormitory that night, and Bryan saw what it looked like when he followed me over to get money for the bus to Cambodia. They made fun of it the whole night, but when it came down to it, I slept like a baby. πŸ™‚
Early Monday morning I went to the guest house where our three new friends were staying, had breakfast with them, and got on the bus to Phnom Penh. Later the same day, Annikken got on a plane to go to Hong Kong, then London and finally Oslo, but I didn’t see her that day, as I left too early. This goes out to you Annikken: It was really nice to see you again, and to travel with you, even though I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time with anyone in go, ever. The more I think about it, the stranger I find it that we didn’t have more fights!

On the bus, one of the bus company guys collected all our passports, and filled out our Cambodian immigration forms for us. I was going to buy my visa on the border, and the bus guy said he’d fix it for me, the price was seventyfour dollars. I got worried, because I didn’t anticipate such a high price, and told him as much. He kept sticking to his price, but I just didn’t have that much dollars on me, so I couldn’t give it to him. When we got to the border, I fixed the visa myself, for 20 dollars, and it took about five minutes. This is the kind of behavior I’m getting tired of, you ALWAYS have to be worried about getting ripped off.

Before we got to Phnom Penh, we decided to keep going directly to Siem Reap, as the others were flying out of Phnom Penh later, anyway. We arrived there in the evening, really tired, but booked a trip to Angkor the next morning anyway.

The alarm went off at 4:45am on Tuesday, and we were off at 5, in our little Tuk-tuk. The one day ticket cost 20 dollars, and was printed with our photo on it, taken at the counter! Around 5:30 we reached Angkor Wat, the temple city, itself, and together with the crowd of tourists, we watched the sun rise over the thousand year old temple complex. We spent the next couple of hours exploring the huge temple, climbing stairs and photographing bas-reliefs and fascinating architectural details. The only disappointment was that the stairs to the upper level had been closed off, because they’re so steep, and some tourists have fallen down and hurt themselves.

At the end of it we met up at the tuk-tuk, and continued to Angkor Thom, the Great City. Angkor Thom was the capitol of the great Khmer empire, and the area housed about a million people around the turn of the last millennium! Much of it was swallowed by the jungle after the fall of the empire, and some claim that there are still undiscovered structures hidden in the dense growth, even though most of the sites are overrun by tourists. We were among them, as we entered through the South Gate of Angkor Thom, over a bridge where statues of men holding the bodies of two great seven-headed Nagas formed the balustrade on each side. Once inside, the jungle still grows, but is kept at a distance, so it more closely resembles a park. The second stop inside the walls, after breakfast, was the Bayon temple, with a stunning 54 towers, each adorned by a smiling face of Avalokiteshvara, in what they say is a great likeness to the face of the king who had it built, King Jayavarman VII, who ruled from 1181-1219. Inside Angkor Thom is also the Baphuon, which was constructed by King Udayadityavarman II who ruled from 1049-65. In the 15th century parts of it was dismantled, and used to build a seventy meters long reclining Buddha, which is still part of the rear of the structure. We went to the Royal Palace with Phimeanakas, and to the Elephant terrace, where the kings would watch elephant races and acrobat shows and other entertainment. At the opposite side of the racing ground were big towers, between which long wires used to be fastened, for acrobats to “fly” through the air before the eyes of their audience. We had lunch before we left, and then headed out the east gate of Angkor Thom.

The first place we stopped at once outside, was Ta Keo, which is almost devoid of carvings. Lightning struck the temple before it was finished, and this was considered such a bad omen that construction was just left as it was, and to this day the place looks like it’s almost done, and is only lacking decoration.

Our last stop was Ta Prohm. This temple is the only one close to Siem Reap that is still partly overgrown, but even here the growth is kept down, and only the biggest trees with the largest roots are left standing. King Jayavarman VII, who also built Bayon, built this temple dedicated to his mother, and it contained massive treasures. Some of the many Sanskrit inscriptions apparently state that there used to be thousands of pearls and precious stones, and golden dishes weighing more than half a ton each! The one thing that the temple is most known for today, however, is that Angelina Jolie was here as Lara Croft for the filming of a couple of scenes for Tomb Raider… By the time we were done sneaking through dark galleries and climbing over roots and fallen pillars like Indiana Jones, it was getting late, and we headed over to Phnom Bakheng, a temple on top of a hill, where we watched the sunset before heading home for dinner. By the time we got back to our hotel, we’d been walking around for 14 hours, and my feet were sore in my new sneakers.

The last couple of days, I’ve been taking it easy, reading and relaxing. Jake, Bryan and Karol left for Phnom Penh on Wednesday, and went looking for a cheap hotel. I ended up in a place called Sakura Village, where I’m staying in a double room with aircon, my own bathroom, cable TV and minibar for 5 dollars per night. One of the things that are peculiar about Cambodia, is that the ATM machine only dispense US dollars… To change to Riel, the local currency, you need to go to street-side exchange operations or banks! The Riel is used instead of cents, so that one dollar divides into 4000 riel of small change, but price is almost always given in dollars. Across the street from where I stay, is a hotel called Soria Moria. Because of the name, a palace in the clouds from a Norwegian fairy tale, and because it had a Norwegian flag, and promised Scandinavian food, I went there Wednesday night. It was run by a couple from Sandefjord, and I spoke briefly with the wife. It was one dollar night, with tapas at a buck a piece, so I stayed a while, and sampled amongst other things the Swedish meat balls… They also had free Wifi, and when I got online, I found that there was to be a small Couchsurfers’ meeting that night, at a place called… Soria Moria! I kept hanging around, and eventually met up with a group of surfers. After dinner, three of us went to the Bar Street to play pool, and after several rounds eventually ended up playing Wii Sports in a bar until time came to head off to bed. πŸ™‚
Yesterday I sat in a garden restaurant reading all day, just enjoying life, and today I am meeting with a German guy Annikken and I met in Hoi An. First though, I am planning to go see if I can find this place that’s supposed to have some nice miniature landscapes, copies of the Angkor areas, and get some nice bird’s eye view photos. πŸ˜‰

PS: It’s REALLY IS a small world. On my last day in Vietnam, I walked into a restaurant to have an iced coffee, and I started talking to some of the other patrons. Two of them were Swedes, and the third was a Norwegian they’d met and travelled with for a couple of days. His name was Jostein, and he went to school with one of my best friends, Hallgeir…