We all have these things we dream of doing, these things that will not leave our minds until we made them happen. For me a backpacking trip to Asia had been on the list for several years. Suddenly I felt that nothing was stopping me, it was the right time to go. When I booked the ticket to Bangkok my heart was raising and I could taste the adventures laying ahead. This time a year ago I travelled for love, with the hopes of something big but It left me more than empty handed. This time I travelled just for my own sake, for the hunger to explore and for the need to create new memories. It's a wonderful thing not knowing what tomorrow will bring. It was truly an intense month and I remember it vividly. The people I met, the places I saw and the things I experienced. I was lucky to travel the first part of my trip with a dear friend of mine. You will see her pretty face in many of the photos. We met in Bangkok and first went to Koh Chang before heading north to Chiang Mai and finally going into Laos with a slow boat. When she left for India I went to Koh Tao to dive. It made me remember how much fun it is to learn new things and to push yourself into doing things that scares you a bit. I was surprised how natural it felt to dive, how calm it made me feel. It's so peaceful down under, just hearing the sound of your own breathing and being part of a world so different. It was one of the strongest experiences I had on my trip. I had a lot of time to think and reflect on the past, the present and the future. The journal I brought with me is now filled with new plans and ideas. Hopefully I can make some of them happen...
I apologize that my English is not perfect but I believe you will understand what I am writing and also there are so many photos that tells the story about my trip, after all I am a photographer, not a writer. The few photos that I am in are taken by Gerri or someone that I met along the way.
FROM SWEDEN TO BANGKOK TO KOH CHANG
When I left Sweden there had been some warnings about traveling to Bangkok because of the demonstrations. I can confess I was a bit worried but it turned out to have been blown out of proportions. There has been violence, people have been injured but to say that all of Bangkok was effected by this is wrong. I left a cold and rainy Sweden so the heat was a welcoming chock. I took a cab to Rambutri road and there I met my friend Gerri and her friend Steff. I was destroyed from the long trip but decided to ignore that. We spent what was left of the day in a beauty salon and in the evening we went to dinner with Irene and Wouter a nice couple Gerri had met earlier while traveling. The next morning me and Gerri took a bus to the island Koh Chang. We arrived just as the sun went down and it was breathtaking. We stayed in a cheap bungalow close to the beach and spent the first days just catching up with each other’s lives while sipping one fruit shake after another. We only see each other a couple of times each year so our time together is always treasured. We are quite different and we don't always agree on things we discuss but we have the same love and respect for each other. Once again we had the pleasure to meet up with Wouter and Irene. After some slow days we decided to return to Bangkok and plan our trip to the north of Thailand.
BANGKOK AND CHIANG MAI
While waiting for Gerri to get her passport back from the Indian embassy we spent 2 days in Bangkok. I fell in love with the Chatuchak market where I overdosed on cheap second hand clothes. Both me and Gerri love this kind of shopping and we must have spent 6-7 hours just walking around and trying things on. The second day we did more sightseeing, ate some more pad thai and had cheap massages. Even if I really like Bangkok it is very intense so I was happy to take the night train to Chiang Mai. I am a big fan of sleeping while traveling, especially on trains. In our compartment we had the pleasure to find Johan who we liked right away. He used to work as a photographer but is now a chef in Belgium. When we arrived we all checked in at the same hostel, Diva 2 who has such a nice rooftop. Me and Gerri decided that we had time for two activities in Chiang Mai: trekking in the jungle and a cooking class. The next day we went together with a nice group of people towards the Samueng area. First stop was elephant riding and it was horrible. Gerri had warned me but it was something I had so see for myself. The elephants are treated as machines and it's not pretty. I was feeling a bit down and questioning if this trip had been a good idea, but then we started trekking. Walking uphill for hours while the sun is burning you back might not be every ones cup of tea but it is mine. We stopped for a short break by a waterfall and it was refreshing to wash the sweat of your body. Just as the sun set we arrived in the village where we would spend the night. I can't remember the last time supper tasted this good. We had been warned that the nights in the north can get cold but I didn't imagine that they would get that cold. In the beginning of the evening we all gathered around the campfire. There is something primitive and magical about fire, watching the flames and feeling its warmth. At 8 o clock I think our group where the only ones awake, except for one happy (drunk?) man from the village who joined us. When me and Gerri decided to go to bed, or shall I say to floor it had become even colder and I had to spoon her just to be able to fall asleep, later we were told it was around five degrees. It wasn’t until we started trekking the next day that I got warm again. Once again we experienced breathtaking surroundings and bathed in fresh water. The last part of the trip was bamboo rafting which was nice but a bit too crowded.
The next day we took our cooking class and it was a lot of fun. Cooking it not really my strongest thing but thai food is so easy. I learned how to make spring rolls and pad thai. Hopefully I will be able to make it soon at home as well because my pah thai was the best one I had on my trip. That same evening we said goodbye to Chiang Mai and left for the border to Laos.
HUAY XAI, PAK BENG AND LUANG PRABANG
Crossing the border into Laos took forever but when we finally made it I was excited to be in a new country. We took a bus to the Mekong River where we got on a slow boat. The slow boat is a kind of small slim boat with loose bus seats on it. Me and Gerri found ourselves in the company of a nice group of people and we turned our seat so that we all faced each other. We started playing cards and drinking drinks so the slow boat kind of turned into a party boat. I had so much fun and the hours passed by so fast. All the time we were surrounded by these steep hills, it was magical. The boat stopped for one night in Pak being before continuing towards our destination Luang Prabang. The boat used to go all the way into the heart of the city but recently they started dropping the tourists of 1 mile outside, I guess just to make more money. We had no choice but to take a tuk tuk to reach the city. We found a wonderful guest house (Kinnaly) and I was thrilled to stay at such a clean place after spending 2 night in shitholes where you didn't want to take your clothes of while sleeping. (My own bed was one of the things I missed the most while traveling.) I found Luang Prabang to be a charming small city with a great night market. It is not the place to party hard since there is a curfew that makes all the bars close 23.30 sharp. The only place open is a bowling alley a bit outside. Me and Gerri ended up there and even if I suck at bowling I love it. The second evening I started getting ill and when I took the plane back to Bangkok the next day I had a fever. I had to stay and rest in Bangkok before I could continue south to the island Koh Tao. I lost a couple of days that I could travel and I was feeling very sorry for myself, this was the low point of my trip for sure.
After first taking a bumpy night bus from Bangkok and then taking a boat I arrived before noon on Koh Tao. I had already before booked my diving course with Planet scuba. I was still feeling a bit weak from my illness and also very lonely. I spoke with Gerri on the phone and I missed her company, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. I told myself that from here it could only get better, that eventually everything passes. As soon as I started my open water course I began feeling better in every way. I found two new friends In my classmates Kelly and Sarah from Canada, they made me laugh so many times. Once we had watched these boring important videos about scuba diving we went into the water with our instructor Shan. Although diving was a new experience for me it felt like I had done it before. It is so calm and peaceful but also exciting. I have to start learning new things again, I had forgotten how good it feels.
KRABI, SINGAPORE AND HOME AGAIN
The next stop on my trip was Singapore. I left the island with a night ferry and then took a bus to Krabi. I spent a few hours there before taking a plane to Singapore. In Singapore I had the pleasure of meeting up with my friend Kai. He lives in Malmö (my city) but was home visiting his family for two weeks. I got to experience Singapore through his eyes and it was great. His family showed me great hospitality and kindness. When I was there it was the end of Chinese new year and I got to experience a proper dinner with a lot of Kai's relatives.
Singapore is a strange country, in a way it doesn't feel like it's real. It's clean, colorful<, well organized with a low rate of crimes but you can't help to feel like you are being watched. It seems also to be so much about making money and consuming, there are so many shopping malls.
I was in Singapore for three full days and besides from walking around, eating many delicious things and partying until the morning, I also went to the Jurong bird park, which is one of the biggest bird parks in the world (50 acres). I loved some parts of it, like the area where the bird fly freely and comes to you for snacks but there were also parts I hated with big birds in small cages. Places like this leaves me feeling a bit torn.
It took me forever to get back to Sweden because I had to change flights two times and even sleep at the airport in Bangkok for 9 h. When I landed in Copenhagen I felt exited, I love traveling but it I also appreciate my home. It was definitely sunnier in Asia but the people I love are mostly in Sweden. Now I'm looking forward to spring and what it will bring.