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travel

Paradise in Puerto Rico

After almost a year as a nomad, I was more than ready for a some vacation. No more frequent, long and uncomfortable bus rides. No tours, no touristing or stress at all. I just wanted to stay in one and same place for a week. So after probably the quickest research ever in my life, I found this place called Rincon which seemed nice. However, to choose and prepay for one place for a week can be risky – because you don’t know whether you will like it or not. But as they say; high risk – high reward. I was lucky and was rewarded with one of the best stops so far on my trip!

Nice long beaches, crystal clear blue water, amazing sunsets and a very relaxed vibe. That’s how I would describe it. It was low season when I was there, but also the 4th of July a lot of American people were there and once again I met some really good people, that I will stay in touch with. Most of the people that I’ve met that I still keep in touch with on this trip, and will visit later, are either Americans or Australians. Which I don’t mind at all since that’s my two favorite destinations and I will visit them many times in the future. It also makes sense I get most friends from these countries, because are lives are somewhat comparable and we can relate to each other lives and there is of course no language barrier. Perhaps poor people in poor countries have even more interesting stories to tell and live lives that can be both good and interesting to follow, it’s not the same when there is a language barrier and also not much understanding for each other lives. I probably can’t understand how poor they are actually living and they for sure can’t imagine the luxurious lives we are living in the western world, even though my life is pretty average.

Puerto Rico is an own country, but it’s also American territory and you can easily see how it’s influenced by the US but also by the Latin American culture. A perfect mix in my opinion! Starbucks, Wahlgreens and other typical American chains every where (in the capital San Juan, that is). Some might find this not very charming, but I really love the United States so I couldn’t be more happy than having the vibe of the states and looking like a tropical paradise at the same time. It also clearly had Spanish influence when it came to architecture and of course, the language, Espanyol! I was actually stoked to be back in a Spanish speaking country, since my trip started in one and I spent 4 months in Spanish speaking countries in the beginning. I was positively surprised how good my Spanish skills were now and it was really funny to be able to have conversations with the locals in their language.

The Spanish speaking people, and Latinos in general, are for sure different from us vikings from Northern Europe. They are louder, speak faster, have more energy, charisma and take more place – at least compared to where I come from. I’ve actually been told a joke about Scandinavia a couple of times on this trip, and it goes like this: “There is no reason to learn a Scandinavian language – because they never speak!”. Of course a big exaggeration but I do think they have a point – we are in general more quiet than most other kinds of people. I’m not saying that is bad, because sometimes I miss quiet surroundings. Especially the fact that all over Latin America they play LOUD music everywhere and all the time.

Speaking of music, my next stop is known for being home of a specific type of music; reggae! With this, I shouldn’t have to tell where I’m actually going, but if you still haven’t got it, I’m going to the home country of Bob Marley.

Sleepless in South Korea – Seoul

When people ask me what I miss most from home, not that I’m homesick at all, I usually say friends & family, making my own food and also sleeping in my own bed. The last one I really could feel in Seoul, where I spent 4 nights sleeping (or trying to) in a kind of “capsule” in approximately 30 degrees Celsius and no air condition. But I really can’t blame Seoul for that, only my own greed trying to find as a cheap accommodation as possible. Actually I can’t blame Seoul for anything, since it’s a really nice city and I liked it a lot.

In many ways Korea reminds me of Japan, another very likable place. Just as Tokyo Seoul is very big, populated, busy, modern and has both a lot of skyscrapers but also cosy narrow streets and back alleys with local restaurants. If you ever have been to either one of them you know what I’m talking about. There are two things I find impressive in these cities: the infrastructure and the safety. 25 million people live in the metropolitan area of Seoul, and that’s A LOT. Yet everything flows and the infrastructure when it comes to public transport is just world class! The metros are so fast, accurate, smooth and easy to take that it will probably feel like going 20 years back in time when I get back to Scandinavia. On the other hand, the need for such efficient public transport isn’t as big in Scandinavia where we are less than 25 million on the whole big area. The other thing I find impressive is how safe Seoul (and Tokyo) is. I always ask local people, preferably somewhat young women, if they can go anywhere in their city at anytime of the day and feel safe – and in Seoul all of them said yes. Must be fantastic to live in a city like that, considering how it is many places in Europe and America.

Asian food is by far the best I would say and here in Korea you really had all of them and they were all amazing. I had probably my best sushi ever, some awesome thai food and of course the local Korean cuisine. Korea is the second best country when it comes to obesity, only beaten by Japan. And trust me, that has nothing with lifestyle to do, since people work there ass off for 10-14 hours. It’s all about the food – you become what you eat. Eat healthy, become healthy – eat shit, yeah.. you got it.

Since streaming music online and via your mobile became easy and popular, I would say music is a normal part of most young people – including me. Especially when traveling. I actually try to listen to podcasts instead of music, as I like to educate myself, learn new things and perhaps get a tiny bit smarter every day. However, sometimes you are not focused enough or not in the mood for podcast so then music is perfect. As a surprise, to people that don’t know me very well, I listen to metal – or what you probably call screaming and drums, which by the way is totally wrong but that’s another story. When you travel you have a lot of time to kill, often when you relax and I’ve come across a few really nice relaxing songs that I thought that I could share here. As mentioned, this is not my usual music, but sometimes these chill songs are perfect. For example when you are a bit tired on a bus or; when you are sleepless in Seoul.

Sunset Lover by Petit Biscuit which you can listen to here

Miles Away by Years Around the Sun which you can listen to here

The Orchid (Kyte Remix) by Brighton which you can listen to here

World Spins Madly On by The Weepies which you can listen to here

Breathe by Jacoo which you can listen to here

 

Hanging around in Hong Kong

Weather is a big part of traveling. It definitely can make the difference between good and bad experiences of a country or city. Everything is funnier, more relaxed, easier and more beautiful in good weather or at least not rain. I’ve planned the entire trip after the weather to be honest, trying to be in the different parts of the world when the weather is good and dry and so far I’ve been extremely lucky with only a few rainy afternoons in Colombia, besides that pretty much only excellent weather. However, there was one stop that was impossible to time with the weather; Hong Kong.

The big cities in Asia are usually good stops for a few days, and now I will raid three of them in two weeks starting with Hong Kong. I had pretty high expectations on Hong Kong before going here. A big modern international city, surrounded by ocean and small mountains or hills – sounds like I can like it! And liked it I did, but I was very unlucky with the weather. June is the start of the monsoon and typhoon season, so it can be perfect weather – or the straight opposite which I had pretty much for 3,5 days except from one afternoon that was dry. So I couldn’t really do all the things I wanted to do like going to the beach and hiking in the hills. I could not do much at all besides work out and sit in cafés and restaurants, really depressing to be honest, but  since I’ve been lucky so far on the trip I try not to think of it too much. And also, it could have been worse: a few days before I arrived there was a big typhoon hitting Hong Kong, so this was just the “afterparty” of the weather Gods.

So I can’t really give a good justified sentence of this city, but I for sure can see it’s potential. The fact that it’s a very international city is also something I like, you meet people from all over the world but mainly from China. But this is not the real China, it’s more western in many ways for example when it comes to the English skills. It’s clean, modern, safe, big and I would say beautiful even though it’s mostly a concrete jungle but the water and hills add contrast to it all. One more thing, almost 8 million people are living here so the density is really high, but it’s impressive how smooth the city flows and the infrastructure is amazing with the metro. Despite all this, the weather could not really justify a very good stay here.

What also ruined the stay here a little bit was the accommodation. It was by far the worst on the entire trip so far. Hong Kong has the highest real estate prices in the world, which means expensive hotels and in my case a SHITTY hostel. But what doesn’t kills you makes you stronger. After this I decided to spend a little more on accommodation at my next destination, which is also a big city – very big.