Chiang Mai - Mae Hong Son

I woke up in my hostel and went down for breakfast. I stumbled over an American bloke called Chris who was going bungee jumping. Two hours later we were in the car on our way to the site. The 50 meters tall lift seemed pretty scary, but brave as we were, we jumped and survived to tell the tale. It tickled alot in the belly and the feeling the first two seconds is hard to describe. Well back at the hostel we enjoyed some beers and called it a night. The next day we went mountain biking with a brit called James. The three of us went up in the hills and had loads of fun. In the evening Chris and I needed some food. Thinking we walked into a restaurant, we accidently joined a big family dinner. They fed us and taught us Thai checkers. Sitting there, losing all the time, we finally got our victory when we played together against an eight year old kid. We were in ecstacy. The next couple of days we spent playing chess and biking around the town on the hostel's bikes. Needless to say, I got the pink one.

Amir, a friend of James, showed up from India and we had an awesome biking trip in the hills again. The sceneary up here in the north is great, and the temperature is like a great Norwegian summer. Finishing the day with some thai boxing matches was nice. The days in Chiang Mai passed with biking, eating and playing chess. James, Amir and I flew to Mae Hong Son and checked into a dodgy guesthouse with an odd host. After reading some reviews on tripadvisor and speaking to some locals, it turned out that he's an English pervert that likes young boys. Apparently he got dumped by his 17 year old thai boyfriend and after that his guest house has been in decline. After a night in this creepy place, Darlene and Chris arrived on their scooters from Chiang Mai. The five of us, now a steady group that is also going to Laos together, found a lady to take us trekking in the jungle.

Early in the morning we got up and packed our stuff after yet another creepy night at pedoclive's place. We got to store our stuff in a room which reeked from catpiss. The trekking woman, named Shan, picked us up and in her car she had also brought a German looking for some more "space". The whole group sat up in the car and went off to the border of the jungle. We took a boat over the river to get to the start of the trek. The guide's brother and dog also joined us and together we formed an excellent team that would traverse this area next to Burma. We walked through thick jungle and the guide chopped the way through with her machete. Big spiders and rivercrossings were daily parts of our journey. The first day we had lunch and swam in a waterfall which was loads of fun. In the evening the guide prepared a meal for us. We waited five hours... but it tasted delicously. She made sticky rice in bamboo and mugs and spoons, candle light holders and plates, everything was made out of bamboo. It was very cool. Also, small, black, poisonous scorpions walked around us, but Shan threw them away with her chopsticks. In the night I had to walk maybe 15 meters alone up a small creek to get palm leaves to sleep on. It was quite scary beeing in the pitch black with a headlight there. We crawled up a steep cliff and went into a cave to cave in for the night. There was a wasp nest there, but it seemed empty. Nobody slept well, but in the morning everybody was ready for a new go.

With wet shoes and dirty clothes we kept on trekking parallell to the Burmese border. We had loads of fun and we were climbing a big hill. At one point the bushes had grown so thick, Shan stopped and cut a way through. Meanwhile, massive hornets started buzzing around us and we got scared. Amir screaming loudly and starting fighting them, resulted in James being stung in the head and charging forward like a wild pig with a mental look in his eyes. We couldn't stop laughing but also felt a bit sorry for him. At the end of the day we were all safe and sound at a small village hut. It was cosy there and we waited a long time for the food again. This night we slept really well, and we could have a cold shower if we wanted to. Believe it or not, I took one. The last trekking day was nice and not so long. On the way we saw tarantula holes and the Steve Irwin in me decided to lure one out. I used a stick instead of a finger, and I screamed like a girl, but nevertheless I got a spider out and it was really cool. The German, Anne, was taping me. Our dog was always with us and protected us. It started growing on me and its name was Pet. Pretty clever. At the end of the trek we reached a Karen village and saw the long necks. Refugees from Burma that have rings around the necks. Not very unlike the invisible ones I see many guys at home use, although they are attached to a leash. On the way back to Mae Hong Son, the dog was supposed to stay with her husband at the village, but Pet tried all he  could to jump into the car to stay with us. It started howling and the husband had to hold it down. When the car started driving, it got loose and ran after us for kilometers on the road. Made us feel like the ending of "Platoon" except the dog didn't get shot.

Back at Mae Hong Son we all enjoyed a couple of relaxing days at a new guest house. Chris lent me his scooter and Darlene and I went to see the blooming flowers a couple of hours drive south. It was beautiful, the whole hills were coloured with different flowers. Apparently it's blooming season now so we were really lucky. After a week at this place we headed back to Chiang Mai and started preparing ourselves for the conquest of Laos!







Bangkok-Chiang Mai

It was warm in Hong Kong. It was hot in Bangkok. Luckily all cabs have air condition and one of them got me to a nice hostel in the middle of Khao San. My first evening in Bangkok was spent walking a couple of hours and then taking a tuk tuk tour around the city with a funny driver. A tuk tuk is a three-wheeled motor bike with room for passengers in the back. It was great fun. I wasted one more day in a similar way and then I met up with my new tour group at the hotel. Because of flooding, one third of the group had cancelled the trip, so we are only nine plus the guide. There's one couple from Toronto, one from Boston/Peru and one from Ireland. Complemented by a Kiwi girl, a south-african girl and me, the group was ready to go up north with our guide Chai. He's a funny Thai that has a contageus laughter and he laughs alot. The first night together, we all went for supper except for the Americans, they would arrive during the night. The dinner was alot of fun, and the group is full of fun people. Names will become clearer later but for now, let's call the Irish man pirate, south african girl half-breed, Irish girl elephant rider and the kiwi kiwi. With these people I went out after dinner in the search of a pingpong show. We couldn't find anything we found remotly close to safe, so we just strolled the streets instead, looking at junk and into the doors of strip clubs. The kiwi and I had fish clean our feet. That was hilarious! A million small fish ate the dead skin off our feet. Next to us sat two asians speaking broken german with eachother. They were vietnamese and thai and had met eachother while working in Switzerland. Funny situation.

The next day we had a 12 hour bus ride to Sukhotai. That was too long, but due to the flooding, we had to make a detour. Finally arriving at the hotel, the canadian couple and I went for a swim in the pool. The others were all too tired and went to bed. The canadians are really funny and they love animals. Everywhere they go they end up rolling around with the stray dogs and almost bringing them on the bus with us. In Sukhotai we biked around and looked at ruins at the former thai capital. It was great fun and I had my very first coconut. It was good. In the evening we all went for food and drinks. It was great, with live music in a restaurant next to the water. Thailand is a very pretty place. The pirate, who lost his eye in an Irish pub fight in which he won his wife, and I wanted some beers. Together with the canadians, half-breed, kiwi and the elephant rider we crossed the street at our hotel and went into the most random bar I've ever seen. This was something of a residential street and the owner of the bar was a 30 year old tiny thai woman. The guests were 3 local guys and us. As staff she had one other girl and a ladyboy. The owner loved getting drunk with us and when I went for the toilet a kid's head poped out from some curtains. A fourteen year old boy was running around there and it turned out it was the owner's son. Later that night he drove around on a scooter with his mother holding on to him. Happy parenting! Did I mention that they also had a strip pole here? The kiwi and Irish loved that one. On the way back the Irish were eager to ride the white elephant outside our hotel, so we got some great shots. The pirate fell off, but only because the elephant started moving. Good times!

After a tough little morning we had two rigshaws driving us around in a local town, letting us have a look at rice fields, teak factory and locals making different traps. The one driver was quite a character, and having only one tooth did not prevent him from talking alot. He had some awesome sound effects when he was explaining how everything from eals to mice were captured in different bamboo traps. Every trap resulting in "No come back!" for the victim. The elephant rider had a tough day in the heat but from noon and onwards things were better. After this very cool experience we took a second class public bus for 6 hours. That was horrible, but when we finally got there I dragged my sweaty ass to bed and slept well until the next day.

This day we woke up early because it was elephant day! We went to an elephant park and it was really cool, and sometimes slightly sad. Riding elephants and feeding them was very cool. Looking at elephants with blown off feet was not so nice. Chang means elephant and is my thai name. It's also a famous brand of beer here. I got some crap, saving the elephants with my donations, and we headed off to Chiang Rai. From this time on we had private vans which was really great. I tried to teach the half breed, being half German and half English I thought she had the genes in order, chess. It was exhausting and I called it a draw and fell to sleep. We arrived in the evening at the hotel. Our awesome guide, who uses dragon feet crocs, had prepared us for this night. It was cultural exchange night and everyone had to have a show for the others. It was really, really funny and some put alot into it. The Irish took us dancing an Irish wedding dance. The Kiwi danced a mauri dance, with facepainting and all. The canadians had a canadian quiz. I had the toilet-paper game from our annual Xmas parties. Drew was singing a song they always sing in the stadium in Boston. Miss Peru was unfortunately sick after getting milk in her elephant coffee. Not fortunate when you are lactose intolerant. She owes us a show. The half breed had a mimicing show of african animals and at the end we had Chai. He showed us two really funny songs with dances and we all sang and danced to a thai chicken song and a thai elephant song. Shitloads of fun!

The next day we went to the Mekong river and took a speed boat up to Laos. That was cool and some of us got some more things to fill up their suitcases with. We then went to the burmese border and had a peak over to that side. Up here is called the golden triangle between these three countries. It's called so because of all the gold the opium production in area brought in. We went to the opium museum to learn a bit more about this stuff and then it was shopping time. I slept on a bench. In the evening we went to a local restaurant by the river and had food while looking at people sending up lanterns lighting up rockets. It was really cosy.It was the first day of a great festival in Thailand. We went to bed early, because the next day we were going to Chiang Mai and it would be full moon and the main night of the festival!

I woke up in the van on top of a hill. It was time to have a look at Chiang Mai from above. The city didn't look special. After check-in at the hotel we went to take a cooking class. Since I want to eat asian food when I get back, I'm paying alot attention to these courses. The food tasted great and it was time to go for the highlight of the evening: the festival. We went to a temple and started lighting up our lanterns. It was loads of fun and the sky was magnificent with full moon, stars and hundreds of red lanterns flying in the air. I liked it alot. But the fun wasn't over yet. Next stop was the river and we all got ourself a floating lotus flower with a candle inside. Going out on a small bridge-thingy with people shooting rockets arund (and at) us, made it feel like a war zone around us. When the ladyboys on the bridge tried to flirt with us, the war didn't seem so scary anymore. We survived and sent our flowers down the river. It was a brilliant night and the Irish and I wanted to walk home. After 15 minutes we decided to take a tuktuk because there was nothing to see on the way. Elephant rider was pleased with the decision, 3 minutes we passed all the clubs with pretty girls outside and she was worried that we would never have gotten home if we were walking.

Trekking was our plan for our last day together. We walked up in the hills and stopped to have some swims in the waterfalls and rivers on the way. It was great fun sliding down a natural water slide, but slightly painful. I would guess someone smacks themselves pretty badly from time to time there. After a nice lunch at the top, we bamboo rafted down the stream to the vans again. We were three on each raft and had loads of fun. Our captain liked to poke Matt in the balls with his stick, and the two captains did what they could to get him in the water. They weren't able to though, cause this guy has Zapp Brannigan's cat-like reflexes and jumped between the rafts. Safely at the end of our little voyage, the guides threw slices of rubber tires on the girls while screaming "snake!". The girls freaked out, we laughed and went home. After a last dinner together, we split up and the group was no more. The pirate cried with his one eye when I left them. I had an excellent time and invited them all to Norway. Who will show up? Probably none...

Next up: enjoying life in Chiang Mai! Includes bungee jumping!



Hong Kong

Hong Kong is a cool city. We started our stay with a tour to the harbour. Afterwards we ferried over to Hong Kong island and took the cable car up to victoria peak. Sitting at the top, enjoying a beer in the sunset and looking at the view was a good way of ending the China tour. A group of us went out and had a massive party in the streets of Hong Kong. More specifically Lan Kwai Fong for those who know the place. Some videos from that night are hilarious. Once again Marco was there and he is a very good camera man:). The next morning most of the group was gone and I was stuck with myself again. Derek was still in town and together with a couple of Chinese I had met, we went for an all you can eat hot pot night! And we ate a lot! Cause we were hungry pandas! But still some 40 kilo Chinese girl ate more than us and it made me think of a Norwegian fairytale called "Askeladden som kappåt med trollet", foreigners can read the story here:

I got myself a new panasonic camera, TS3, and went out to Macau island to check out asian Vegas and visit Derek who was out there winning poker games. I also played and ended up winning 1000€!!! Just kidding. I lost 1500 HK dollars and was pissed at myself for playing a shitty hand. Except for that, the island was cool. Kind of a mix of mediterranean culture and China. It used to be a portuguese colony. I've enjoyed seeing China mixed with so many other cultures. Back in Hong Kong, I moved to a new hostel that was really nice, but on the ninth floor and without an elevator. I was sleep deprived and loaded with all my luggage when I finally arrived at the top. Sweating and half in a coma I mumbled something and fell to sleep in my bunk bed and slept till five o'clock in the afternoon. I checked in properly after my nap at Tingtong hostel. If you're going to HK, this is the hostel I recommend! :)

At the hostel I met some nice people from all over the world. An Indian girl fed me chili squid and some british had beers with me on the roof. I got contacts in Malaysia and Thailand as well. In HK there isn't that much to really see, which was perfect for me. I just wanted to chill abit. I went to see a temple, stumbling over a small snoopy land on the way. I didn't dare to go in, since there's something sinister about a single male, going into a playground full of kids, with a camera. The main thing in HK was the nightlife. And this weekend was Halloween! We had no idea, but Halloween is massive in HK. And it was celebrated over five days, having it's peak on Saturday. We had an awesome time, dressing up as pandas. The panda hats were even warmer to wear down here in HK. Our belgian friend Johan said something we believe has never been said before: "I'm sweating like a pig! And I'm not even wearing a panda hat!". There were so many excellent costumes, and we were standing there laughing our asses off. -funniest one being a catholic priest. Every now and again the police started pushing the crowd to make sure the whole street party moved in a loop around the block, kind of like a May 17 parade. To avoid being swept away, we hid in a building everytime the cops came. Those were some funny nights.

My last day in Hong Kong I spent on Lantau Island. I took a cool cable car with glass bottom so you coul see down. I had a guided tour through a fishing village and met a nice English lad. We found some hiking trails and I wish I knew about these, cause then I would've checked out this island earlier. Later that night we met up with the belgian friend of mine and had dinner. My last meal in China was a delicious hot pot. I ended the evening in a football stadium, having a beer and watching a strange girl kick a plastic bottle.

China was fantastic and if I would recommend anyone doing one thing before they die, do China!
In China I have
- eaten more vegetables than I've done my entire life
- walked more stairs then I have my entire life
- learned to eat with chop sticks
- learned to count to ten with one hand
- learned to squat
- seen more massive constructions than I've ever seen
- realized I'm pretty tall
- realized Norway might not be the center of the world
- gotten a new favourite cousine

From a massive, nice airport with trains inside and soothing music, I left for Bangkok!

2011-10-25 yangshuo-Hong Kong