torsdag 5. juli 2012

Nine monks walk in to a bar

Sounds like the opening to a joke but no, it’s just a Thursday morning. This morning Sugar had invited a band of monks to the bar, and I witnessed my first blessing of a bar and tattoo shop. There was chanting, different rituals and all in all a lot that was new to me. Luckily I have spent so much time at the Tiger Temple that I am at least familiar with some of the proceedings and how to act respectful in the presence of monks. See, having been a volunteer at TT comes in handy in the most diverse ways. This is only my second full day back, but this place just feels like home the way it always does. The little hut by the river is amazing – we have a view that even a few resorts would envy us! And as to the worry of no longer having a cat.. Well there are seven in residence here, and they don’t exactly leave us alone much. The same can be said for the three dogs. Although a little apprehensive at first they’ve taken to us pretty well. I guess the pork, the white bread and any other scraps of food need to take some of the credit for that. It’s definitely hot though, and it takes some getting used to but it’s not like I wasn’t expecting that. So far I only have a slight sunburn on my shoulders, and with the aircon in the room I really shouldn’t be complaining at all. After all, compared to the girls kuti at TT, this is a real luxury! And if the little hut wasn’t good enough already, we actually have a tiny kitchen corner on our balcony! Just a propane burner, a rice cooker and a wok but what else do you really need? I’m definitely going to explore the culinary possibilities these facilities can serve. Let’s see.. Not much else is new here. After a nap my first night back I was woken up by the grand tiger whisperess herself – Jules! Just chilling on the balcony with great friends was absolutely the best way to spend the first night back. And in a few days, hopefully I should be able to see the rest of the TT gang and (perhaps even better) the tigers! Can’t wait to get a tiger cuddle – two and a half months is just too long to go without. At the moment I am relaxing out on my wonderful aforementioned balcony. Hanson on the speakers, cold water from the fridge and a delicious (?) peanut butter sandwich newly consumed. I really don’t need a whole lot more than this! As there is no internet connection here yet, this will probably not be posted today, but something tells me the next days will bring more of the same anyways… Until next time!

tirsdag 20. desember 2011

Back in Thailand – back at the Tiger Temple

So, four months later and I'm back. And if it's true that home is where the heart is, then I'm definelty not only back, I'm back home.

In some ways not a lot has changed since this summer. The people are the same, the tigers are the same (with a few additions) and the atmosphere is the same. It's like I never left, and it feels just like coming home should feel like. On the other hand, there has been changes and there has been progress. The lions just came out of their cages for the first time, and even though they're still ajusting to their new life and haven't taken full advantage of the enclosure yet, it is amazing to see them outside enjoying the feel of grass beneath their paws. Right now I'm actually sitting on the skywalk above tiger island, monitoring the lions' behaviour. The sun is baking and the lions are about as active as I want to be right now.

Inside tiger island several of the tiger enclosures have also been strengthened and several more of the older tigers get out to play every day. They're let out and left to be big cats by themself. They run around the enclosures, jumping trees, jumping eachother. And wouldn you believe – when it's time to get them back in beofre the afternoon programs start, they run back inside their cages or is led in with little hassle at all. No problem seeing that they're pretty happy with their new arrangement.

My babies from this summer has grown big and strong, but are still very nice babies, and some of them I still hang out with every day at breakfast. Hiccup, or Nua Mek II, has gotten pretty big compared to the little kitten he was four months ago, but is still super cute and very nice to handle. My very favorite, Nua Mek I, doesn't come to the sala every day, but when he does he's a perfect little gentleman and behaves like a star pupil. He just turned a year and will still try to sit in your lap.

Now this is my third time volunteering at the temple, and it seems it just gets better every time. Of course it helps knowing the people who work here, but also the feeling of getting more and more comfortable aroung the cats is really an amazing thing. Remembering how big I though seven month old Saifa was the first time I was here, makes it a little funny how I now feel perfectly at ease around the ones that are a year and older. Still a long way to go before I'm a full blown tiger girl, but I'm pretty happy with my tiger journey so far. Hopefully I'll be back again in not too many months, and I can keep on working on my tiger whisperer skills.

And so, in other news.. The nights have been pretty cold here, and I've been sleeping with a pair of sweat pants, a hoodie and three blankets. Bad viking? I think so! The days on the other hand are pretty hot, and there has been no rain so far. It's definetly a lot more enjoyable than temperatures below zero and snow back in Norway.

Today is Decemeber 18, which means christmas is right around the corner. To no great surprise I haven't really gotten into the right jolly spirit just yet. The heat, the tigers and the general feel of being in Thailand aren't exactly things that scream out christmas to me. I did bring some christmas comics, some chocolate and christmas soda from Norway and I'm sure I will enjoy it in the next few days even it the christmas feeling isn't quite there. We're also going to be having a christmas party with the volunteers ans staff, which I'm sure is going to be pretty amazing. Most fun gang of people to party with ever!

So, finally a little update from this side of the world. Hopefully the internet will let me check my facebook and email from time to time, allthough it hasn't really been working too well so far.

And this was actually posted two days after I wrote it because of that stupid internet.. Tomorrow's my day off though, so hopefully more updates then! :)

tirsdag 22. november 2011

Some times you have to appreciate the little things in life....

Like when you're on a flight to Amsterdam, and spill your apple juice into your lap.. In this situation there is really only one thing to do - be grateful that you didn't spill the hot tea that was sitting right next to the apple juice!

Another good thing about appreciating the little things, is that the bigger things seem even more grand.

This weekend I went to Amsterdam to see Hanson live at the Paradiso. Of course, it's not my first show, but it was my first real concert seeing as the only things I've done before are the 2009 Tulsa MOE and the NYC 5 of 5. And there is a difference. There is a huge difference!

Going to a plain, normal concert is something I've been waiting to do since 1997, so I guess you could say it was way overdue. Luckily, all the little things and all the big things made this first concert a night to remember.

A couple of days before the concert I got an email saying I had gotten one of the 14 meet&greets for Amsterdam, and of course I was completely extatic! Even more nerves on top of what I was allready experiencing, but who cares about that?! Meeting Hanson is worth all the nerves in the world! But we'll get to that..

Getting to Amsterdam was resonably easy - Schiphol is close to the city center, and I manage to find my way to the couchsurf host I was to be staying with without any difficulty. Luckily, he turned out to be as weird (/mental) as me, which made for a very interesting and fun weekend - even outside the concert.

I spent Friday morning walking around Amsterdam, pretty strung up before my M&G and the concert, but still managed to take in some of the sites and even make room for some sushi in between all the butterflies in my stomach. After seeing my share of canals, leaning houses and coffeeshops, I decided it was time to make my was towards Paradiso and my fellow fans. What if I got there and realised the other M&G'ers were completely horrible??

Well... Safe to say that wasn't the case!! After recognizing the line outside Paradiso as fansons, I made my way through he crowd - looking for any familiar faces. Yeah, not easy when you only know people from facebook. So I took a shot, walked up to a girl and asked her if she knew my danish facebook-fanson-friend. As it turned out, she was standing right next to me and we ended up chatting until close to doors.

Even better, hanging out with her and her friends, I also ended up meeting most of the other M&G'ers. And what do you know - they turned out to be some of the coolest girls I've ever come across! I don't care if you're Croatian, Brazilian, Dutch or Marsian for that matter - we stand united in Hanson! We ended up having a great time waiting for our M&G, and of course an even better time when the finally let us in.

We were made to wait in the lobby, and few minutes later Hanson walked in. No screaming, no running - we were all very sivilized. Hanson handed out both hugs and signatures all around, and I even plucked up the courage to show Taylor my tattoo. The feeling of meeting Hanson like that is something I don't think I could ever explain to a non-fanson, so I'm not even gonna bother. The only thing you need to know is that it was completely awesome, and I was over the moon when they led us into the venue for the concert.

Which leads me to the next big thing - the front row. Oh yeah. Getting a M&G doesn't only mean meeting the band, but also getting into the venue before everyone else, and thus getting the absolute best spots in the entire place. I ended up right in front of Taylor, and let me tell you, I wouldn't have traded that spot for anything in the world! Through the entire concert I was all smiles (and screams of course), and I just couldn't have enjoyed it more. Sharing it with the amazing M&G'ers at front row just made it even better.

Since there are pictures and videos posted all over facebook and youtube, I'm not going to describe the concert in detail. It should suffice to say it was the absolute best concert I have ever seen/heard, and that the withdrawals will be strong for months to come!

After he concert I had a chance to meet up with the Norwegian fansons who had also come the oh-so-long way from Norway for Hanson. Waiting for Zac, and then later Taylor was cold and killing my feet, but still so worth it. More pictures, more signatures. More of a Hanson-fix for me.

Will you belive I had trouble sleeping when I got back to the appartment after that experience? Still, I did manage after a while and slept like a contented kitten until the next morning.

I spent Saturday exploring more of Amsterdam by foot, some of the day with the awesome Norwegian fansons. I even managed to do a little shopping, despite a tight budget and an even tighter backpack. Another sushi meal, another few km on foot and several canals later I again met up with my host, and he showed me some of the, well, murkier parts of Amsterdam. There is just no way around it - on your first visit to Amsterdam, you kinda have to experience the red light district. Being a Norwegian, it was definetly somewhat of a culture shock, but hey - that's why I travel!

Sooo.. To sum up. A weekend in Amsterdam brought me some amazing new friends, a wonderful musical experience, and a couple of new impressions that I don't think I could have gotten anywhere else. And the little things? They definetly made the big things even bigger - what a weekend!!

mandag 15. august 2011

There are so many rumours about the temple...

And people seem to do what they can to spread these rumours, whithout really checking how much of it is true.

Luckyly, supervolunteer at the temple, Natalia, has taken on the responsibility of talking back to some of these people and recently got an article published, as a reply to a negative article in GEO Russia.

Yes, it's in russian, but still worth mentioning! :) Great work being done by all the people at the temple now, wish I was there to be a part of it!

fredag 12. august 2011

Once upon a time...

... there was a girl who had too much fun traveling to update her blog.

The End.

.... for now

fredag 15. juli 2011

New place, new country.

After more than six weeks, I'm outside Thailand again!

The last few days in sothern Thailand have been rainy and not at all the beach paradise we'd been hoping for, so now we have high hopes that Malaysia will deliver what Thailand didn't. So far it's been a tiresome journey. From riding on the back of a scooter in the rain, with two backpacks and a bag when going to the hotel in Phuket to the seriously tubulent flight from Phuket to KL. Luckily the flight from KL to Kota Bharu was more pleasant, and we found a taxi and a guest house easily enough.

So far we've only had a little walk around town, some dinner and are planning on taking a walk through the night market a little later. Our taxi to Perenthian leaves at 8.00 in the morning, so no late night tonight.

I was planning on transferring some pictures today as well, but seeing as the computer at the guesthouse sounds like a jet engine taking off I'll be postponing that for later.

Now I think it's time for a stretch on my bed, before checking out some more night market delights! No bugs this time.....

torsdag 14. juli 2011

Bye bye Railey!

And just like that we've left another place...

We got to Railey on Monday, looking forward to some more peace and quiet after the packed conditions of Phi Phi. Turns out Railey is definetly peaceful and quiet during the day, and unless you're interested in doing rock climbing ther really isn't all that much to do in day time. Of course, night time is a whole other story.

We got some flyers advertising a fire show, and decided to check it out, even after having seen the one at Phi Phi several times. Turns out the guys at Raileys Last Bar, allthough not as hunky looking, are even better at juggling fire than the guys at Phi Phi. Very impressive! The youngest guy there is only 16, and put on a crazy show. Pictures and video to come as soon as I get to transfer from my camera again.

At Railey we stayed at the Yaya resort, where we payed 350 baht for a room that was definelty better than the one at Phi Phi. No Gustav either. We spent most of our day time at the beach, all though some heavy rain showers cut our beachtime short some days. Still nice, and still an amazing place to be. Quite sure I'll be going back there one day.

Right now we're back in Phuket, staying in a very nice hotel that even has hot water in the shower! What a splurge! For 500 baht, it is actually almost a splurge, but soo worth it after a long day of travelling from Railey. One longtail boat and three minibuses, and two very uncomfortable stops to wait for the next bus along the way. So glad to be done with that!

Tomorrow we're heading out to the airport early, to catch our 8.15 flight to Kuala Lumpur, where we're transferring to Kota Bharu. Hopefully once we get there we'll be able to catch the last boat out to Perenthian. Crossing fingers for that.

Now it's time to get some sleep, next update; Malaysia!