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February 2017

Touchdown Asia – Philippines, Manila

They are often big, busy, noisy, dirty and smell sewer. On the other hand, they are often funny, cheap and offer amazing food. I’m talking about the big south east Asian cities. The capital of Philippines, Manila, is not an exception. My intention was only to stay here one night before heading to Vietnam, but I decided to stay three nights, which is more than enough. Compared to Singapore, Hong Kong or Bangkok – Manila isn’t very beautiful or has much to offer as a traveler. It’s actually pretty ugly and boring, but for some reason that was totally fine for me now. I treated myself with a hotel night for the 3rd time on this trip and last time was in Colombia in November when I was sick. The reception lady told me it was my lucky day, so I got a room on the 32nd floor of 34 possible. Room with a view, thanks!

When you think of Philippines as a travel destination you probably come to think of beaches and clear blue waters. That was my plan as well, but after a lot of beach time in Australia I changed my mind when arriving here. Instead I just took this as a short city-trip on my way to Vietnam. I found 3 days here more than enough and as many times before on my trip, I have to remind myself how lucky I am living in a city (Oslo) that’s fresh, beautiful, clean, safe and not noisy or hectic. Especially when so extremely many people live in massive dirty and busy cities like this one or other ones in Asia or Latin-America.

So it’s time for a new continent, new adventures and for sure a totally different way of living compared to the last two months in New Zealand and Australia. From now it will be dirty, noisy and not as civilized but I’m so ready for it and looking forward to a more simple (and cheaper) lifestyle for a while. The coming 5-6 weeks will be spent in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. For some reason I’ve never been attracted to these countries, even though everyone says they are so amazing. I really hope they are right.

Great Barrier Reef and wonderful Whitsundays

Like the birds fly to warmer parts of the world in the winter, so did I, but I didn’t go there for the heat – but to explore the ocean and the world’s largest living organism; the Great Barrier Reef. The GBR is probably one of the things people have on the bucket list when going Down Under. Another one might be where I went after the GBR; Whitsundays. One of them I liked – and one of them I loved!

I flew to Cairns, the big city up in the north east of Australia and it was a hot experience. Around 40 degrees, very humid and not very windy even though it’s by the ocean. Speaking of the ocean, you could not really take a swim here due to two very deadly creatures, one big and one small, saltwater crocodiles and the box jelly fish. The later actually has the strongest poison on earth and can kill you within just a few minutes. Luckily enough they have a fantastic pool right by the ocean boardwalk in Cairns where you can cool down.

After a day in Cairns I went on one of those boat trips out to the Great Barrier Reef. Charmed by extremely colorful and idyllic pictures I was really excited – and a little nervous for one of my fears: seasickness. Being a wise-guy, I took a double dose of motion sickness pills and thank God for that. I estimate 75 % of the people on the boat threw up. Not mentioned in the brochure. A lot of people had a really hard day just lying vomiting pretty much the entire trip.

Out on the reef we finally could go snorkeling and I also took a 20 min intro dive. The Great Barrier Reef is nice, but not breathtaking. Perhaps you think I’m negative or weird now, but I would say honest. It was a good experience and I recommend doing it, but don’t expect to experience the pictures in the brochures. In my book this is not one of the best places Australia has to offer. Whitsundays though, is a completely other story.

If the pictures of GBR lie a little bit, the pictures of Whitsundays can’t justify it’s beauty. It’s stunning! And it’s not just extremely comfortable to rest your eyes on, but it’s also fantastic to walk the beaches and swim in the ocean there. They say this is the whitest and also the finest sand on earth, and I actually believe it’s true. I find it nice that there are still places like this untouched and clean from pollution. Since it’s a big tourist attraction there are of course some boats with tourists here, but it’s a pretty big area so you could easily find your own kilometer of paradise beach to chill on. Whitsundays was on my bucket list, but not it’s also on my MUST-DO-LIST when in Australia, you won’t regret going here.

After a month in Australia it’s time to leave this nice country. Compared to South and Central-America, this felt like a holiday. Safe, clean, civilized and just a lot of beaches and summer vibes. I only had two days on one month in Australia where I didn’t go swimming in the ocean. Of course very nice, but I like diversity and am right now a little split. I have a flight booked to Manila tomorrow, the capital of Philippines. There I have the choice to either go to one of it’s many beach destinations – or head straight to my next stop for some more diverse activities; Vietnam. Right now it’s 7.30 PM and I will decide this during today’s dinner.

Anyways, Australia delivered as always and I will definitely come back here. For visiting, it’s a lovely country with plenty of things and places to go – the only problem is probably that it’s so big and that there are so many places to go. Having been here 4 times now I feel I’ve got to taste a lot of it and I suggest you should to.

Cheers Australia, this is not a good bye, it’s a see you again. Hello Asia and new adventures!

Road tripping stunning Sydney to boring Brisbane

They say it’s not the destination but the journey along the way that matters – and it couldn’t be more true than this time, when I drove from Sydney to Brisbane. From one of the world’s most wonderful cities to one of the most boring I’ve visited. Luckily enough, there were many nice stops (and people) along the way.

Imagine you had a MAJOR hungover on Sunday and for me that means I’m still pretty “tired” on Monday morning. To then pick up a rental car at 07.30 AM (traffic rush hour) in the city centre of Sydney (5 million people) and drive on the left side of the road – without a GPS – was a hectic start on a long drive. Anyways, stressing up never helps no matter what you do. I knew one thing: I’m going north! So I just followed my intention and drove across the Sydney Harbor Bridge and from then it was smooth.

First stop was in Newcastle where I met up with a lovely couple I met in El Salvador and then traveled with through Guatemala and Belize. We had some great times then – and now. It was really nice to finally meet som familiar faces again and also to meet up with people from my travels. Often people just talk the talk and doesn’t walk the walk – but both parts did this time, which meant I could finally taste a real Australian barbecue on the beach. Many thanks for having me!

I also stopped in Byron Bay and on the Gold Coast. Having been to both places before it was also like meeting a familiar and likeable “face” again. Great places and beaches both of them, so perfect stops for a surf and a chill pill.

Eventually I ended up in Brisbane, visiting and staying at another friend I met on my travels, Brazil to be precise. Funny to meet yet a familiar face and grateful for having my own bedroom for another night (a luxury for a back-packer). Besides this, Brisbane was not my cup of tea at all. I was apparently lucky when I was there, because it was the coldest days of this year’s summer (29-32 degrees C) and pretty humid. Since Brisbane is located inland you don’t get that nice ocean breeze and can’t cool off in the ocean. Just a big bowl placed in a strange place. I mean, why don’t build a city by the coast when it’s just 40 minutes away?

Anyways,  it’s always interesting to visit big cities and even if the destination was not the best I had a great week road tripping. The quote that “it’s not the destination but the journey that matters” is actually comparable to life as well. I mean, we all face the same tragic destination: death. We will probably even see some of our loved ones pass away before it’s our turn and if we are unlucky maybe we don’t have the health on our side the last years. But our journey towards our destination can be very different. Some work all their lives, waiting to get retired (if you even get that old, no guarantee) and plan to live their lives when they are 65. Some follow their passion and live day to day, just enjoying the ride not thinking of tomorrow. No matter which way you go – it’s our own choice. I’ve been working hard and smart throughout the years, but also been traveling, taking breaks and most important followed my dreams. I would say it’s possible to be both long term and short term – you just have to take an active choice and be a little street smart. My theory is that, since I don’t take tomorrow for granted, I want to take many “mini retirements” in my life. This for two reasons:
1. It’s in NO way a guarantee that I will be alive the day I turn 65.
2. I believe life is supposed to be lived while you are young. They say age doesn’t matter, and I agree to a certain point, but at the same time I do believe things are funnier when you are younger. Especially travel, since you grow as a person and meet other people and they are mostly young.

So, if you are feeling that your journey isn’t funny enough, use the next crossroads to change it! I don’t have to worry about crossroads anymore, now I’m flying up north to the humidity, crocodiles and the Great Barrier Reef.

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