Rainy Day Bliss

The clouds are thick and dark, all you can hear are the rumbling sound of the thunder and the heavy rain falling hard on the concrete roads. Every now and then someone on a scooter completely drenched rush by.

I’ts Monday and the weather is shit. The streets are practically empty, giving me the feeling of a ghost town. But it doesn’t matter, because I’m in Thailand. I’m in Koh Tao drinking coffee, and I’m the luckiest girl in the world.

I’ve been ‘on the road’ for almost 3 and a half month now, and it’s crazy to think of how much I’ve experienced so far, all the memories that’s been created. And most importantly – all the people I’ve gotten to know.

In Bali I continued to meet people supporting me while I was dealing with the loss of my friend, everyone being warm and kind. I went to the Philippines for a whole month, and saw the most stunning nature and beaches I have ever seen, and I was never alone (unless I chose it myself). People treated me like family and cooked me dinner and took me on boat trips. Great conversations were had, and friendships were made. And then I made it back to my dear Thailand, where I feel like I belong. To everyone I met, you know who you are. Thank you for the memories, the conversations, the drinks, the jungle dancing, the drumming and the laughs.

After a week in lovely Koh Chang, and a quick weekend in Bangkok, I’m now in Koh Tao. The rain is pouring down cleaning any slate that needs cleaning.

And I am grateful.

Love, Charlotte

 

Next stop on the road will be Koh Phangan, and then back to Tonsai, where I will set up camp for a little while. See you when you see me.

DSC01875IMG_5866IMG_5887IMG_5907DSC01919LRG_DSC01928LRG_DSC01927DSC01934IMG_5954

Advertisements

First stop – Bali

So this was me just a few days ago:

21150091_10159335860285038_8698806347927981073_n.jpg

This was 5 am in Norway and I’m waiting for my bus ride to the airport. Nervous, excited, a bit sad and a bit happy at the same time, and with a one way ticket to South East Asia in hand.

It took me about 20 hours to get from there to here, Seminyak, Bali. And with absolutely no sleep the entire trip, I quickly crashed in my hotel room.

Since then my days have pretty much consisted of lounging by the pool, writing, reading, and walking around eating delicious food and drinking Bintang. I’ve also tried motorbike taxi for the first time, as I realized that after visiting this part of the world a few times now, I really had no excuse for not using their most normal and cheapest taxi option any more. I was shit scared for the 20 minutes (4 kilometers) it took from Seminyak to Kuta on the back on a scooter, but for less than 1USD i need to just get used to this.

If you ever come to Bali, i recommend you download the app GoJEK. It’s like UBER, where you can order taxi though the app and see the price and distance before ordering. Ordering through that is a lot cheaper than getting a scooter taxi out on the street, even though they are more available (you will be offered transport every 5 meters or so). Sometimes there might be some waiting time for an available GoJEK driver. But I suggest you stay clear of Kuta, though.

Today I’ve booked my boat ticket to Gili Air, where I’ll be staying for a couple of weeks. I’m really  looking forward to small island vibes and no traffic. So I’m headed there this friday. The Gili islands belong to the island group Lombok, and I might check out the main island Lombok after Gili, as it’s supposed to be a lot less touristy than Bali, but I’ll figure that out when the time comes.

Here are some pictures of my days so far in Bali. DSC01478DSC01484DSC01487DSC01490DSC01495DSC01499DSC01500DSC01509DSC01521DSC01524DSC01528DSC01537DSC01543DSC01546

 

…Tomorrow I’ll be gone.

All my belongings for my time ahead of me.

It’s been a month since I had my last day at work and moved out of my little studio apartment in Grünerløkka, Oslo.

I have been at my parents house since, working, saving up money and relaxing. Thinking. Mentally preparing. At 5am tomorrow I’m on the bus taking me to the airport where my flight will take me to my first stop, Bali, Indonesia.

 Goodbyes have been said to friends and family, since I have no idea how long this trip will last, or where it will take me in the end. Just writing that feels insane, I have no idea how this will turn out. But I need to do this, and the time is now.

I’m scared. But in a good way. And I’m ready. 

Here we go!

..Leaving on a jet plane, I don’t know when I’ll be back again..

Back to reality

I’m back in Oslo, the city I call home. Right now it feels a bit strange, rather than home, though. 

Soundtrack of the day: Bob Marley – Redemption Song.

After arriving in Saigon I forgot to blog, and got more focused on taking in as much as I could for my last week of traveling before headed home.

I stayed two nights in Saigon, but unfortunately I wasn’t feeling well while there. So I mostly spent time near my hostel, which was in a side street of Bui Vien, the main party street of Saigon. I did some shopping over at Saigon Square, got my hair cut and my nails done for a total of about six dollars, and I caught som live music at Universal bar. The guys who work there are super friendly by the way. 

Dried jellyfish, anyone?

Then I hopped on a flight back to Thailand to visit Tonsai one last time, at least for now. 

After checking in I walked over to Chill Out bar & Bungalows where me and my friend Kim stayed only five weeks earlier. I was immediately recognized and greeted with a “welcome back” from Bee/B, one of the nice guys working at Chill Out. Once again I felt at home in Tonsai. 

Bon getting some new ink at Chill Out bar.

I then caught the sunset from the beach as I always do. Later it was time to go over to my regular Tonsai hang out, the Sunset Bar. It was really nice to see Toffi, Pon and Wat again, it allways is. These guys are the best. 
The day after I went exploring a bit. From Tonsai there are three ways to reach the other parts of Railay. One is a short 10 minute climb through the steep path going from the south end of Tonsai beach, getting you right on the north end of Railay west beach. I’ve done this a few times. Another one is going around the same cliff when it’s low tide, you just walk on the slippery rocks around. But this means you have to wait until low tide just before sunset, so you might not make it back before dark. The last one is the jungle path, which takes about 30 minutes. I decided to try this one out to do something new. 30 sweaty, mosquito filled, creepy crawlies dodging walks in and between jungle and electrical wires minutes later, I got to Railay East, the more laid back part of Railay other than Tonsai.

Welcome to the jungle
Please don’t let there be snakes
 

I walked around a bit and then over to the beautiful but overcrowded Phra Nang beach, the one I kayaked to five weeks ago. Yeah, the one with the penis cave. 

Later that day I got the honor of being asked by Toffi to help out behind the bar at Sunset Bar that night and the next. I had so much fun doing that, so Toffi, if you read this, send me a word, I’d love to come back and do it again. See how happy  I am 😀

Welcome, welcome!
 

I timed my return to Tonsai perfectly for their yearly clean up day-festival. Two days of cleaning the beach, wolleyball, live music and great food, drinks and fire shows. The entire Tonsai community and guests down at the beach for one big party. Pretty much amazing.

​ ​​

Bon and Bee keeping up the party
 

I left the morning after. I hate leaving Tonsai. But I had to go to Bangkok to catch my flight back to Norway, my journey was over for this time. 

I’m at a coffee shop in my town, Oslo. It’s freezing outside, and I just want to get on a flight back to Thailand. Time to save up again, and hopefully I’ll be back on that beach for New Years 2017/2018. 
Dear Tonsai, I’ll see you when you see me. Why not?

Peace and love, Charlotte. 

17 hours on the Reunification Express

I knew this was going to be a long leg, so I chose to splurge on first glass tickets. What happened on departure I did not see coming, though. 

The Reunification Express is the train route that connects Vietnam from Sapa in the north, to Saigon in the south. When flying wherever you miss a lot of the country while traveling, and I heard only great things about the route, so I decided to go by train from Danang, which is in the middle of Vietnam, to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh city.

You can choose between soft 4 bed sleeper cart, hard 6 bed sleeper cart, soft upright seats, and hard seats. Since this was an overnight train, I chose the soft 4 bed sleeper for most comfort, I also chose to book it through Violette, who offers extra luxury service in addition, so that I wold be certain that the 17 hours in a train would be as comfortable as possible.

Upon departure I was ready, I had bought plenty of food or the trip as I doubted there were any vegetarian options on the train. About 40 minutes late, the train rolls into the platform, and that’s when I realized something was up.

I had trouble finding my cart as it wasn’t marked as it said it would be on my Violette ticket. The train staff just looked at me confused when I showed them my ticket, and as everyone else had gotten on and the train was blowing it’s horns, I was afraid I wouldn’t get on. Then comes this angry looking man in a railway uniform and takes my ticket out of my hands, and starts walking off. I follow, he’s not saying one word in English, I have no idea what’s going on. He discusses with the ticket lady, and then they gesticulate for me to board the train, which by now had started rolling. What else was I supposed to do?

Finally on the train, this same angry looking man, from now on known as Mr. Angry, points for me to follow him, but is not interested in actually waiting for me as I try to keep up with my 20kg backpack, which by the way was way to wide for the narrow hallway on the train. Finally Mr. Angry points for me to sit in a cart, which is of the same kind I had booked, so I thought at least that’s settled.  Meanwhile he’s calling Violette, and all I hear is alot of discussion in Vietnamese. I start to pack out and make my bed while he’s making several different calls, sitting in my cart, still angry looking. And he watches me as I does this, not saying anything to stop me. After about 15 minutes when I’m all packed out, Mr. Angry hangs up and says. “Come”, and gesticulates for me to bring my stuff. So this asshole had been watching me for 15 minutes getting settled in without stopping me, and now tells me to hurry and follow him with my stuff. I hated him by now.

Mr. Angry then points me into another room where there was an angry looking lady as well, this was allso a soft 4 bed sleeper cart but without the extra service soI thought “fine, I just wanna relax and settle in for my trip now”. Then he calls the booking company I used and hand his phone to me, and a booking consultant tells me in English that Violette had booked me for the wrong date, and they didn’t have any available soft sleepers for this train, but that they could offer me a bed in a hard 6 bed sleeper cart, which is in no way larger than the 4 bed carts, and far dirtier. So once again I was in the wrong cart, and was asked by Mr. Angry to gather my stuff and follow him once again.

I ended up in an even smaller, hard (as in almost laying on hardwood) 3 bed sleeper cart shared with a Vietnamese family of four sharing two of the beds. I got the third, top bed to my self. So we were 5 people in about four square meters for 17 hours, with complimental cockroaches in the cracks of the room. And the window was so dirty I had no view. No food carts ever came to us at “lower class” tickets, so I’m glad I stocked up on food before departure.

But the family I was roomies with were very friendly, we could not understand each other, but alot can be said with smiles and body language. I also got to finish my book and start another, and the view could be enjoyed from out in the hallway.  At least until sundown. Every now and then Mr. Angry passed by, looking at me angrily.

So all in all it ended up OK, and Violette will refund my ticket. I just need to spend the rest of the day recovering from the mostly sleepless night. It’s days like this I realize that I’m not in my twenties any more!

I have chosen to follow my gut feelings, so I’ve changed my flight tickets. I’ll be gong back to Tonsai the day after tomorrow. It feels right, rounding up my trip where I’ve had the most fun.

Peace! – Charlotte

Loving Laos

My four days in Luang Prabang were mostly spent walking around in different streets and alleys just taking in the impressions. All the colorfully ornated temples and the small, golden roadside shrines. The constant smell of incense in the air. The group of bright orange robed monks turning the corner. 

We went to the Kuang Si waterfalls, wich with it’s cold, turquoise waters were really refreshing after a steap, sweaty climb to the top level of the falls. You can either go up on the left side or the right side of the main waterfall to get to the top, but the left side is easiest. They both takes you to the same spot. My friend learned that the hard way climbing both in hope to find the “secret” halfway pool. We didn’t find the path there. The falls were really crowded, but they still are beautiful, so it’s worth the trip. It takes about an hour getting there by van or tuktuk. 

Right in the center of town is mount Phou Si, with a temple on top, and beautiful Buddha statues on the way up. You will see this lit up at night. It’s quite a lot of stairs, but it only takes about 15 minutes to the top, and you walk down on the other side. And you get a panoramic view of Luang Prabang.


Another thing we did a lot was lounging in the garden of Utopia bar with great views of the Khan river. This is the spot to unwind during the day. And their veggie burgers are delicious. 

Luang Prabang is a perfect example of tourism gone well. The small town is friendly, easy and absolutely beautiful. Being a huge tourist magnet, it manages to combine tourism with old traditions not losing it’s culture or flavor, and not turning itself into a neon colored music blasting tourist ghetto, like many other places in southeast Asia unfortunately have become. 

My travel companion has now gone back to Norway, so I’m on my own. Fortunately traveling alone is not a problem in Southeast Asia. There’s so easy to get in touch with other people, so if you want company, you’ll find it. 

I’m currently in Vang Vieng, and I started yesterday with the famous river tubing. I did it early in the day, so I was mostly alone in the river, every now and then passed by groups of Koreans kayaking. It was quite meditating drifting down the Nam Song river by my self, but being dry season the water was really low and slow, so it took me about three hours. I admit it became a bit boring at the end. But the view was absolutely spectacular! 

Tomorrow I’m going to the capital town Vientiane, before heading in to Vietnam. Stick around!

Love, Charlotte

Slow life on the Mekong

After doing the border crossing from Thailand to Laos a few days ago, it was time for the infamous two day-slow boat down the mighty Mekong river. 

After arriving in the Lao border town of Huay Xai, where I was booked in for the night, I got my tickets for the slow boat to Luang Prabang from the hotel I was staying at, leaving the morning after. It set me back about 220 000 kip and included pick up at the hotel, but not the accommodation half way.

They picked me up at 9.30 am even though the boat wasn’t supposed to leave before 11.30. And since the seats already were prebooked I felt that was a bit overkill, to wait at the boat for two hours. In addition it took another 45 minutes before it actually left. Oh well. 

I was a bit nervous before this trip since there’s a lot of horror stories on the internet, and two days is a long journey on a not particularly large or comfortable boat. The boat we got had old car seats to sit on, which was ok, as other boats have hard wooden seats. Those however have seats facing each other with tables between, which is far more social. Ours were all facing forward and no tables. 

So what do you do when you have two days on a boat with strangers? Drink beer. And socialize a lot. And drink some more beer. 

We’re all literally in the same boat here

Before you know it, you’ve gotten a lot of new friends, and the boat docks up at the halfway stop, an erie little town called Pakbeng. The boat man sold me a room while on the boat, so I had that covered for the night, and since this also was my 32nd birthday (yay!) we headed to the only bar in town after dinner, and met a few people from the boat over drinks. 

Good times in Pakbeng

The morning after it was time for the second leg. Every morning the street is packed with food stalls where you can buy whatever you need for the boat trip before going down to the docks where the boat leaves as about 9.30 am. Then there’s another 6-7 hours on the boat again, before arriving Luang Prabang. The mood was a bit more mellow on this boat, so I mostly just listened to music, getting a good soundtrack to the spectacular view of the banks of Mekong and the mountains surrounding it.


If you are uncertain about wether you wanna do this leingthy trip or not, my advice is: Do it. It’s so rewarding, you meet new people and the scenic nature along the river is amazing.