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Picture perfect Petra – Jordan

As a coincidence, not planned at all, I’ve visited 3 of the 6 wonders of the world the last month. Taj Mahal in India, the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt and now also The lost city of Petra in Jordan. That means I’ve now visited 6 of the 7 wonders. It’s actually not a big thing, since these places are far from the most impressive places or best experiences I’ve been to. They are often crowded, busy, expensive and time consuming to get to. That being said; they are also fascinating and impressive and I encourage people to visit them.

I did Petra just as a day trip from Eilat in Israel – or actually a long-day-trip. They told me it would take 9-10 hours, which I knew was bullshit – but I didn’t expect 14 hours and I guess 3 of those were spent border crossing between the countries. A lot of bureaucracy especially when you have a passport full of stamps from every continent! Anyways, when in arriving to Petra after 3-4 hours in a bus, the fun began. A 2,5 kilometer canyon hike that got narrower and narrower the closer I got to the lost city. The last meters made me feel like Indiana Jones, for about 5 seconds, then I reached the Chinese crowds and selfie-sticks and felt like one of them walking around with my 3 cameras.

Petra was built around 400 years BC, which is amazing in many ways. First; the architecture and secondly also the location. It’s located in the Jordanian desert mountains around 1400 meters above sea level hidden in the canyons. The way people could live here for more than 700 years was thanks to a sophisticated water system supplying the city with fresh water from the mountains. 700 years is a long time and 3 hours was enough for me.

Don’t mistake coincidence for fate. In one way I could never dream of this lifestyle or these experiences, but on the other hand I’ve always been adventurous wanting to go high, low and beyond that next turn. It feels prewritten. One of the good things traveling on your own is that you have a lot of time to think, and maybe even more important, feel. Think about life, yourself, what matters to you, how you want to live the rest of your life and the list goes on. Some birds are not meant to be caged. Now, after 3/4 of the trip, I’m pretty certain I will never go back to a 9-5 corporate job. I have an idea of how my want to live, at least the coming years, of my life. This trip is an adventure, almost every day. And I like it – or love it. On the other hand I’ve found out that home means a lot to me, so a mix of adventuring around the world and spending quality time at home with the people that matter to me, is hopefully my future. Time will tell.

India – the worst country I’ve been to

Within 2017 I will have visited more than a 100 countries. That means I’m not very far away from that number now. It also means that I’ve seen some fantastic countries – and some less fantastic and that I have a lot to compare with. Far from all countries are amazing, but most have some elements that I like and even if I will never go back, I usually have some good memories and things to say about the country. However, I really struggle to say anything good, what so ever, about India. Let’s start from the back for once; in my book I give India 2 out of 10 points as a destination to visit. The only reasons I give two points instead of zero are easy; it’s always interesting to see a new country no matter how you like it. It gives you perspective – and I must say India really did. For example, I stayed 2 days in New Delhi, one of the world’s biggest cities with around 25 million people living there. To see how people live in such a place makes me feel extremely lucky I live in Scandinavia – or actually I would feel happy living most places than here. The other point I give because of the feeling when leaving the country – it’s such a blessing to board the flight and leave India saying to myself: NEVER again!

As always, it’s not about what you think – but why you think so. So how come my opinion is like this? First of all, as a disclaimer, I was only there for one week and only visited the “heart of India” also called the Golden Triangle which is a road trip between New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. So you might say that I judge a book by it’s cover when I say that India sucks – I can under stand that. On the other hand though; I don’t need to eat a whole pizza in order to tell whether I like it or not – even though the ingredients might not be 100 % equally distributed over the pizza. So, let the shit hit the fan:

  • it’s busy
  • it’s dirty
  • it’s noisy
  • it’s hectic
  • it was unfortunately extremely warm with about 45 degrees mid day every day and no wind or ocean
  • the food is amazing, but when it sends you to the toilet for days, it’s not that amazing anymore
  • besides Taj Mahal, it wasn’t beautiful at all
  • the people were not friendly at all, just rude and asking for money everywhere for no reason. Of course a sad consequence of being a poor country, but I’ve been to many countries even more poor with people behaving a lot better.
  • no beautiful nature, just flat and boring (even though there is in the north of India)
  • nothing really to do, besides some temples etc. but that’s quiet boring after a day or two
  • last but not least; I didn’t like the vibe at all. Really hard to relax and just enjoy being here.

    Yet, as I said, I’m glad I went here since it really enriched my perspective of the world and how lucky I am being from Scandinavia. To see more people living in one single city, than in all of Scandinavia, makes you think you are a part of the so called lucky-sperm. As glad as I am leaving India, equally glad am I for departing for my next destination. Hopefully the straight opposite of India and a real hidden gem. Time will tell, stay tuned.

Everest Basecamp – the adventure

After almost 8 months of traveling, time had finally come for my personal highlight of the entire trip: The Everest Basecamp trek in the Himalayas in Nepal. The name itself, the challenge, the sceneries and the list goes on – what’s not to get excited for here?! I came here with expectations as high as Everest itself. That’s always risky, just as the higher a mountain is the deeper you can fall – and the more disappointed you can get. But my gut feeling was right, this turned out to be like a dream.

I’m not going to go through every part of it, since that’s not very fun either to write or read. It’s more about the feeling of this adventure, the rewarding challenge, the breathtaking nature  and the simple lifestyle that comes with it. To be honest, you don’t do much besides walking, eating, sleeping and of course spending time with other trekkers. For sure a simple life, but that’s also goes for my entire trip and really something I wanted. Being a really  remote area of the world adds up to the simplicity of the life along this trek. No roads, no cars, not even meat as it’s hard to transport and to keep it cool and very limited wifi contributes to the simple lifestyle – and I loved it. Instead of people sitting on their phones the entire time checking things just for the cause of checking, instead people were talking, playing cards and having a good time. It was really relaxing to be offline for such a while. Definitely something I’ll try to continue with.

I also have to rose Nepal with it’s people and the artistic nature that mother earth created here. Let’s start with the easy one; the nature. After a scenic flight from Kathmandu into the Himalayas, you get stunned pretty much after just a few meters. Mighty mountains, roaring rivers, forests, suspension bridges, temples and loads of breathtaking views pretty much along the whole trek. We were blessed with good weather 12 out of 13 days, and that day full of snow was just a beautiful contrast to the blue skies. If these mountains were impressive, I literally have no words for the people working and living along this trek. I’m of course thinking of the sherpas and porters. From young age, I guess around 15, they walk this (and other treks in Nepal) carrying unbelievable loads of packing. To put it in perspective: boys around 1,65 meters and with an own bodyweight of 65-70 kilos were carrying 70-120 kilos – some of them in just flip flops! For you to really understand, it’s not exactly a walk in Central Park in NY. We are talking around 130 kilometers, going from 2500 to 5400 meters above sea level, sometimes rough and cold weather and last but not least; they are probably walking this faster than you would without a single kilo on your back. Maybe you ask why are they doing this? Well, it’s easy. It’s their way of making a living. For a lot of people it’s the only way of earning money to support their families. Keep this in mind next time you sit in your office chair and complain about a tough day. It could be even tougher.

Everest Base camp is a thrilling name. For many people it fills you with respect and it sounds extremely hard. Hard it its, but it’s still just a really long walk and the only real problem I would say can be the altitude. I suffered from some headache and nausea, for half a day really bad, but that wasn’t going to stop me. Winner never quit and quitters never win. The rewarding feeling of reaching the goal was way too tempting! I also think this is something EVERYONE should do. Not feeling fit enough? Well, perfect reason to get in shape. No mountaineering experience? No problem, you are in good hands go the Nepalese guides and fellow trekkers. Not sure this is for you? I’m sure this is for everyone and trust me, you will thank me afterwards.

Last but definitely not least, it’s never about the destination or the activity. That’s of course two contributing things when it comes to enjoy an adventure – but the most important factor is always the people. We were a mixed group of 13 people from the US, Europe, Latin-America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and of course local Nepalese guides. I met some friends on this trek that I hopefully will keep for life and for sure meet later on my trip and I’m super excited to see those familiar and friendly faces again. As cliché as it its, I’ll round of this post from two of the best weeks of my life, with a quote. I guess one of my favorite quotes, because it makes a lot of sense and it’s origin is really inspiring:

Happiness only real when shared” – Christopher McCandless