On-and-off the tourist track

Sunday morning, Iben and I set out for some exploring of the far north of Thailand. The main purpose of the trip was to reach Chiang Rai and check out the university, Mae Fah Luang, that we had both been looking into as a good place to do our masters degree. Saturday night was spend browsing through Wikitravel, “Exploring Chiang Mai”, by Oliver Hargreave, and a few other guide books. I’d heard that the mountains of Doi Angkhang, right on the border with Myanmar, should be quite amazing, and we both agreed that we would try to reach those as the first stop of the trip. We also found out that apparently it was possible to continue further north to the town of Tha Ton and from there jump on a boat to Chiang Rai. There were only one concern. We had to go by public transportation, and therefore decided that trying to make a plan would not be of any good. We would just go with the flow and figure everything out along the way. Travel as we like it!

On the bus to Fang.
On the bus to Fang.

First stop was the bus station in Chiang Mai, where we invested 80 baht (approx. $2.5) in the bus ticket for the 4 hour drive up to Fang in the north. We were the only farangs on the bus and we didn’t see any other western tourists for the next 24 hours. In Fang, a friendly man in the ticket office, with absolutely no English vocabulary, got us on a songthaew back south again to a T-junction outside of town where the road to Doi Angkhang started. There, we arranged a songthaew driver to take us the 25 km up in the mountains. We had to pay 1400 baht to go up and down again the next day. We asked if we could stay 2 nights but that would be 1900 baht instead, since the driver were actually going to wait up there and couldn’t wait for 2 days…

The drive up to Doi Angkhang was both beautiful and nerve wrecking. The views were just incredible. Our driver took us to a hotel in a small village that I don’t even know the name of. At the hotel, we were greeted by a young man who actually spoke english, and guess what! He had studied at Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai. We checked in to a room with a panoramic view over the mountains on two sides. By far the best view I ever had in a hotel room. 600 baht. Nothing much was going on in that small town, but we really enjoyed just strolling around, enjoying the views and reading our books on the balcony. We had lunch at one of the few restaurants in town and I had a Coca Cola bottle from 1996. I don’t know the age of the actual content, but it tasted fine at least.

The view from our hotel room in Doi Angkhang.
The view from our hotel room in Doi Angkhang.
A nearby village where Burmese people live and work in an agricultural project started by the King of Thailand.
A nearby village where Burmese people live and work within an agricultural project started by the King of Thailand. (As far as I understood)

The next morning our driver took us back to the T-junction, where we had to wait for another songthaew to take us back to Fang. In Fang, we catched yet another songthaew up to Tha Ton. The driver told us the price would be 75 baht, but when we arrived and I tried to hand him 160 baht (75 + 75 + a small tip), he told me “No, no!” and would only accept 50. Apparently it was only 25 baht per person. Tha Ton was very quiet. Except for in the evening, where we had dinner at a karaoke restaurant on the banks of the River Kok where Iben was invited to sing Amazing by Bruno Mars in front of the 8 other Thais who were there. We slept in a quiet hotel, which I think was owned by a Chinese family, and had a small terrace right next to the river. 500 baht.


The view from our terrace in Tha Ton.
The view from our terrace at Tha Ton Riverside Garden.

Tuesday morning began with a hike up to the Wat Tha Ton temple, which had a great view over the river and the mountains. Iben didn’t have anything to cover her legs, so I was kind enough to lend her my palestinian scarf that she wore as a sarong. After a bit of sightseeing and an ice cream at Jack’s Coffee (or “Check’s Coffee” as the girls we met the day before in the songthaew pronounced it), we headed down to the boat pier. Here we had to wait for a lady to call the nearby hotels to see if there were 2 more people who wanted to do the trip. Otherwise we would have to pay for all 4 spots in the boat. One spot was 350 baht and the trip was supposed to take 3-4 hours. Fortunately, two dutch girls at a resort down the river wanted to go to Chiang Rai as well, and off we went. The boat trip down the River Kok was one of the most amazing experiences in my entire life. The scenery was extremely beautiful and changed all the time. The trip ended up taking only 2.5 hours, which I guess was because of the rainy season. After 2 hours of sailing, we stopped at some sort of tourist trap, which was truly anti-climatic. We could pay to pet a giant snake, but we all passed on that one.

Boat trip down the River Kok.
Boat trip down the River Kok.

In Chiang Rai, we checked into Fun-D hostel where we would stay for two nights while exploring what might become, at least for Iben, a future home town. Chiang Rai was really nice. Every night we had dinner at the local night market and in the days we explored the surrounding areas. The first day we took a local bus out to the university, which was really interesting. It was almost surrealistic to finally see the place after all the preparation we had been doing back home. Even though I’m probably not gonna do a masters anymore, it was still fun to see the place. A truly beautiful campus, overlooking the mountains and forests.

Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai.
Mae Fah Luang University in Chiang Rai.

On our second day, we joined a sightseeing trip around the province, which was fun and a good experience. It was super touristy, but who cares. It was the most convenient way for us to check out the area with the limited time we had. The highlights for me were the border town of Mae Sai, where Thailand borders Myanmar, and the Golden Triangle, where the Ruak River meets the mighty Mekong River. From the viewpoint at the Golden Triangle you have a stunning view of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. After the sightseeing, our guide had agreed to drop us off at the bus station in Chiang Rai, so we could catch a bus back to Chiang Mai. Only problem was that the bus was full and the next one didn’t leave until 6.15 AM the next morning. So far, not planning anything had been awesome, but at that time, I think we both regretted not checking the bus timetables ahead of time. We checked into a nearby hostel, had dinner at the night market once again, and left Chiang Rai the next morning. The bus ride was beautiful and a great way to end a great trip on-and-off the tourist track.

The Golden Triangle. Laos, Myanmar and Thailand all in one picture.
The Golden Triangle. Laos, Myanmar and Thailand all in one picture.

Tha Ton, Northern Thailand

We walked into the river-side bungalow resort in Tha Ton at noon with the sun burning our necks, while the women there had lunch in the garden and couldn’t bother less about our presence. Tha Ton, a city that according to my guidebook may have seen it’s “heydays of tourism”, which might be quite an under statement. After 3 weeks in Thailand, we were used to the friendliness of the Thais, and might have expected these women to jump up and welcome us, but no. It was obvious that they didn’t know what to do with two pale Danish backpackers like us. We passed the women and walked to the reception, where a loud “sawadeekaap” was needed to attract the attention of the teenage boy hanging out there. He looked at us, smiling nervously, but very confused about our presence, and we asked him “do you have any rooms?”. He laughed nervously and his eyes showed that he had no clue what we wanted. We asked again, slower, if he had any rooms, apartments or bungalows. “Sorry, no English”. We pointed at the bungalows right next to where we stood and made the international sign for sleeping, head bended sideways and two hands folded together below the cheek. The boy looked more and more confused for every word and finally grabbed a small piece if paper and a pen, as if we had a common written language that we could use to communicate. He realized we didn’t. What service could we possibly want for him?

Hello, Thailand!

Sawadeekaap! I’m in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and I love it here!

Sunday, Sep 7th, me and my friend Iben, landed in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. Bangkok is a huge city. It’s crowded and it’s warm. We we’re supposed to spend a week in Bangkok and then fly way up north to Chiang Rai, to check out a university. But you know what? Plans are made to be changed. After two days of walking (and walking and walking) around in Bangkok, we decided to let plane tickets be plane tickets and jumped on a bus to Chiang Mai instead. After all, that’s where both of us were really excited to go, and we didn’t really see the point in waiting.

The bus trip started at 6 pm and we arrived in Chiang Mai the next morning at 6 am. I was super impressed about the amount of leg room in the bus and there were almost no people onboard, so we had a lot of space. They even screened movies on a big flat screen. Only issue was that with the second film, they accidentally put on the commentary, where the director talks about the movie. No one in the bus were able to explain this to the driver, so he just turned of the TV.

Arriving in Chiang Mai, we both booked us into a hostel, and right after breakfast, we went looking for apartments. I found one quickly, and after Iben saw the swimming pool at my new place, she decided to get herself a studio there as well. Once again, we let bookings be bookings and checked out of the hostel right away. The area I stay in now is called Nimman, and it is extremely cool. The old town of Chiang Mai is sort of like the tourist area, and Nimman is like down town Chiang Mai. The whole area is full of trendy cafés, bars and restaurants, something I didn’t expect at all. Honestly, I don’t really know what I expected, but Thailand is definitely more westernised than I thought. My cousin told me that Thailand was like the Germany of SE Asia, and I see what he means. Everything just seems to work and so many people speak english, point at maps and no one tried to scam me yet.

Chiang Mai feels incredibly save. Every person is friendly and smiling. The other day, after a good night of partying in the old town, I walked all across the city and back home, at 3 am in the morning. I wouldn’t exactly do that in Casablanca, Morocco… I even watched premier league (the time difference from Europe!) and ate chicken at a local restaurant that happened to be open in the middle of the night.

I’m really excited about being here in Chiang Mai and can’t wait to explore the region more. I attached some pictures from the first week. I only have the camera in my phone, so they’re not that great.

Over and out!


Bangkok! A big city, with many cars...
Bangkok! A big city, with many cars…
Iben's friend Sille lived in a 20 story building. This is the view from the roof, where they also had a pool!
Iben’s friend lives in a 20 story building in Bangkok. This is the view from the roof, where they also had a pool!
The pool at my place! I try to go there every morning and evening.
The pool at my place! I try to go there every morning and evening.
I love walking around Chiang Mai. This is on the way to Punspace!
I love walking around Chiang Mai. This is on the way to Punspace!
The old part of the city is surrounded by an old wall.
The old part of the city is surrounded by an old wall.
The view from my building at dawn.
The view from my building at dawn.
This is totally not me climbing to the roof of the 9 story building I live in! ;-)
This is totally not me climbing to the roof of the 9 story building I live in! ;-)
Chiang Mai by night!
Chiang Mai by night!

Thai Tourist Visa With 3 Entries

I just got back after picking up my passport at the Thai embassy in Copenhagen, and guess what! Inside it was my tourist visa with 3 entries! This means that I can enter Thailand 3 times over the course of the next 6 months and stay for 60 days each time. Each of these stays can potentially be extended for 30 days as far as I have understood – I guess I’ll figure that out when/if it becomes relevant.

Status update and what’s to come

It has been a while since I posted anything here. This is mainly because this is a travel blog and not much traveling have been done. I went on a short hiking trip in Sweden last month, which was super awesome. I encourage myself, and anyone else, to do short trips like this – no need to wait for that big trip to arrive one day. So status: I just finished my bachelor’s degree from Copenhagen Business School, I have a lot of work as a freelance web developer and basically I am ready to go see the World! This is in fact very convenient, since I have a lot of awesome traveling lined up in a short while. Let me talk about that.

First of all, I’m going to Mallorca with the family in a week or so. Nothing more than beach and relaxation. Then I have a 2 week trip to Morocco planned out, and I am not able to express in words how excited I am about this. And then finally, that big SE Asia trip starting from September! So all in all, I feel like I am doing pretty good travel wise.

Hiking in Sweden
Hiking in Sweden in order to forget everything about everything related to school or exams.

I am off to Morocco by the end of Ramadan, the holy month where every muslim is fasting from dawn till dusk. For me, it will be about 5 days of fasting before Ramadan ends with the celebration of Eid al Fitr. Expect a lot of pictures of good Moroccan food here! I am planning on blogging while I am there, but we will see, since I will be on a tight schedule, with lots of things to do and see, and friends to visit! The citites I am planning on visiting at the moment are Casablanca, Rabat, Oujda (and Saidia) and Fes. Oujda is a new destination for me, and is located right next to the border of Algeria. I really hope I can manage to get all the way over there – my plan is to be there for Eid with a good friend of mine.

Then of course, there is my trip to SE Asia. I do not really know what to expect from this, since I have almost nothing planned out. I am leaving with a good friend of mine. The plan is to travel around for a while and then probably study out there. I am still not sure if I am going to study more.

So inch’allah, a lot of good things are lined up for me right now! Take care!

Traveling in Arab countries

I was watching this 20 year old travel documentary with the great Danish adventurer Troels Kløvedal (literally Troels Rivendell, like Lord of the Rings). In this particularly episode, he is sailing his famous ship from India to Oman. Arriving in Salalah, he shares some thoughts about traveling in Arab countries that I found interesting. I tried the best I could to translate it into English, so that I could share it here.

In some way, I’ve always liked to travel in Arab countries. I never really understood why people tend to think that Islam is so fatalistic. There are certain rules for how life should be lived, and they are given. That means that you kind of have this freedom within that given frame – it’s the people who are important. They have a different conception of time, there is a calmness all the time. They have time. It is like they go about life in a more beautiful way.

I remember once when I was younger, in the late sixties. There I made some great trips where we docked the ship in different Moroccan ports. We got to know a Moroccan fisherman and we brought him along. We just did not take into account that it was during Ramadan – but we learned that, because he were not allowed to eat anything during Ramadan. But we ate just like we used to. And he sat there and watched, he was hungry. His name was Muhammed, I recall. Then we stopped eating, because we couldn’t bear looking at that. And so we waited, just like him, for the sun to turn red as blood over the Atlantic, and then we ate like crazy all night – and you get high from that.

After spending 5 months in Morocco, I can only confirm the part about time! :-)

Anyways, I found this really interesting, and will myself visit Morocco this summer during Ramadan.

Video: Random shots from Dakhla

This video is nothing but a small collections of clips that I recorded with my phone during my trip to Dakhla.

I need to do better videos for my next trip! Also, this was my first encounter with iMovie – I have no idea what I’m doing!

In the first frame, we are driving behind a military truck. The driver totally saw that I was recording and when we got close, he put down my phone.

The fear-inducing backpack

I recently posted the following tweet from my twitter account:

I bought this backpack. Actually, it’s right next to me on the floor. And it’s freaking me out!

I mean, it’s not really the backpack. It’s more the fact that I’m planning to leave for an unlimited amount of time and don’t bring anything with me that doesn’t fit into this backpack.

Minimalism they call it. Get rid of most of your stuff, fit the rest into a small backpack and go travel the world.

My life in 30 litres.

I’m going to SE Asia – what and why

I’m pretty excited these days. Quite recently, I bought a ticket to Bangkok. A one-way ticket that is!

People I know thinks I’m going crazy, which is kinda old news, so I figured I would write a couple of lines about it here!

So what?

Basically, my plan is to backpack around South East Asia for a couple of months. At the moment, I’m thinking Thailand and Vietnam, but I have yet to figure out a plan. And what about the one-way ticket thing, you might be wondering. First of all, I don’t know for how long I will stay, and second of all, I’m thinking about doing my master’s degree out there.

So, why?

Well, traveling is awesome, so that’s one reason. Being abroad in Morocco taught me how awesome it is to stay somewhere for a long time, and learn about that place, it’s people and it’s culture. Being Danish, I can get my education paid for all over the world, as long as I get an approval from the Danish authorities. It’s a great opportunity to go out there and see the world. I kinda want to take advantage of that. So basically, my plan is to backpack around for a while and see if I like it. If I do, I might be staying for a little while and do school stuff.

That’s basically it.

I’m not leaving until September, but I’m super excited. My intention is to revitalize this blog when I’m out there. I might be writing stuff before that, though. If something comes up.


On going back home

It is, beyond all doubt, the worst part about a great adventure. Going back home. In the beginning, you’re are tired and exhausted from all the traveling and excited about seeing your friends and relatives. But slowly, you realise that the adventure is over and is not coming back. It sucks.


You walk around in your own bubble, trapped between two worlds. You don’t really feel like you belong to either of them now. You constantly compare things at home with how they were abroad, and you conclude that home sucks… You listen to exotic music in your car, you use foreign words all the time (much to your friend’s and family’s annoyance) and, when it gets really tough, you make your mom wear a jellaba and make her prepare couscous for you – on a saturday.

But there is a life after being abroad. You slowly start to realise it. You get on with daily life again and you start to plan your next trip. I’ve been through all this during the last weeks. Here are some of the things that I’ve realised by now:

1. Feelings are magnified (x10) when you’re are abroad

I have yet to understand why, but while you’re abroad, your brain doesn’t function like it normally does. Your feelings are magnified beyond imagination. You get involved faster. Going from “hey-we-just-met” to “hey-you-are-my-best-friend” in no time. This is not how normal Danish people work(!). You are certain that you will keep in touch with all the people you meet. Being home again, slowly you start to realise that it probably won’t happen. Accepting this, is part of the reason why going back home is so difficult.

2. Your brain is lying

For some reason, your brain will only remind you of all the great stuff that happened. It doesn’t help much. You forget about the days where being abroad sucked. The days when you couldn’t stand the thought of meeting a single new person and when all you wanted was time alone.
I realised that this always happens. When I was in Morocco, I kept remembering the good stuff from back home that I missed. Apparently, this is just how my brain works.

3. Same shit, different day

You can’t help but change while being away, but you can very easily go back to pre-departure mode when you get back. You realise the second that you get back home that nothing has changed there. So unless you are really conscious about this, you will soon be transformed back into your old self again.

I’m writing this post while listening to Moroccan music and I’m wearing a Palestinian scarf and my much loved sweatpants from Rabat. I’m still in the process… Safi salina! Yallah!