Bangkok, Thailand (2014-09-25 14:41)
I’m sitting in Bangkok, suffering from a little bit of culture shock and trying to adapt to new circumstances. Everything is a bit different here and, although it is a change, it feels exciting and fresh. Well, fresh is maybe not a word I would use to describe Bangkok but you get the idea!
Other things have changed as well. I am here on my own…
I have been considering walking Asia with just a backpack for a while, without the Mule, and that is what I finally decided to do. The Mule is resting, the alu-box on its way to Sweden and I bought an Osprey 48-litre backpack in San Diego. I’m going very minimalist and have cut down my pack list to the bare minimum, after all, I’m going to have to carry it all myself!
Here it is:
1 thin fleece jumper
1 long sleeve shirt
1 short sleeve shirt
1 pr shorts
1 pr thin long pants
1 pr thin training shorts (used as extra shorts and bathing shorts)
4 pr underpants
4 pr socks
Light weight GoreTex type jacket
Teva sandals (almost worn out and ready for the bin)
Merrell barefoot shoes
Small basic toiletries kit
Small basic first aid kit
Sleeping bag liner (no sleeping bag)
Foam sleeping pad
Water filter (sort of like a thick straw)
Thin cord (tent guy line to use for everything from washing to fixing stuff)
Emergency food (power bars) Thanks Alena!
Macbook Air 11” (+ charger)
Xperia Z Compact phone
Extra battery (13000 ma)
Richo GR camera with extra battery
SD memory cards in shock and waterproof case
Osprey Kestrel 48 backpack
Small extra courier bag to organise valuables and use as carry-on luggage
That’s it. The list might look like a lot but that really is not much stuff. It even all fits into the 48-litre backpack, including the sleeping pad, which, although very light, takes up a lot of space.
All loaded up it weighs 14 kilos, which I think is very respectable considering that I have both a lot of electronics and a tent with me.
I need to try to find a multi-tool, leatherman or similar. Or maybe just a knife. Will be having a look around the markets in Bangkok to see what I can find.
The flight to Bangkok was long. First, a 1 hour 40 min flight to San Francisco, followed by a 4 hour stop over.
Then a 13-hour flight to Taipei with a quick transfer to a 3 hour 40 min flight to Bangkok that arrived at 1.45 in the morning. I was not well-rested by the time we landed in Bangkok…
After passing through immigration and customs I spent some time hanging around the airport, waiting for the sun to rise. I had booked a room on Silom Rd and planned to walk into town but did not want to start in the dark. Anyway, I would not be able to check-in before 3 pm. Spent the time getting a prepaid Thai sim card for my phone, eating and wandering around looking at all the travellers and backpackers that were sleeping on any free surface.
There was a definite backpacker, budget traveller feel to the airport and it felt nice. Sort of welcoming!
As the sun started rising I started my first walking day in Asia. Yet another continent to add to the list!
Like most airports in the world, it was difficult to find a good walkway. They always seem to be organised for motor transport, there never seems to be provisions for walkers. But once I left the vicinity of the airport it got a lot easier. Interesting to walk in Bangkok, so different from the USA or Europe.
I took my time, walking slowly and having lots of breaks. I was tired after not getting much sleep for the last 24 hours and was not used to carrying the backpack. I hope most of my tiredness was due to lack of sleep and not the extra weight. Funny thing is, that my total weight, including the backpack, is less than just my own weight when I started from Stockholm.
It was warm but cloudy and after what felt like a long day I arrived at my hotel on Silom Rd. I pretty much crashed that evening and any thoughts of exploring were lost in a dim wariness. Even forgot to get something to eat…
I’ve now spent a few days exploring Bangkok, mostly on foot, and am ready to move on. There seem to be 3 big areas of entertainment in Bangkok. Shopping, eating and sex. The shopping is divided into shopping centres and street vendors. The shopping centres are no longer cheap the way they once were and a lot of stuff is more expensive than in the USA. Camping equipment is much more expensive, glad I bought my backpack before leaving America. The street-shopping can be very cheap but then that is often reflected in the quality of the goods. How much stuff do you need anyway? Truth is that I am rather put off by the unbridled commercialism on show everywhere. Looks like I am becoming a true minimalist!
All that said, I did buy a pair of Oakley sunglasses for 200 bath. Guaranteed to be original, original copies that is.
I need a new pair as my Police sunglasses, bought in Cypress for 10 Euro, have taken a bit of a beating and are looking decidedly secondhand.
Eating is great here, especially if you like Thai food. Again, there is a great range of prices, from expensive western chains like Starbucks charging 140 bath for a latte, to a serving of Thai curry with chicken and rice costing 40 bath at a street-side cafe. I had the curry for breakfast one day and it was brilliant. Such a change from the rather bland fast food I had been eating in the USA.
I’m being a good boy and am staying away from the sex trade. It’s pretty widespread and obvious around the tourist areas and it is impossible to walk down the street during the evening without being constantly propositioned.
I intend to start walking south tomorrow starting with a good 42 km day. It will be very interesting to see what that feels like now that I am a bit better rested. Hopefully, I will survive even if it becomes a long day. Looks like I will have 2 or 3 longer days before I get closer to the resort areas on the easter coast of the Thai peninsula. Once I get there I am looking forward to spending a few days on or near a beach and there are plenty of them.
Until then the only thing I need to do is to keep walking!
Hua Hin, Thailand (2014-10-07 12:16)
Well, I’ve now done a bit of walking in Thailand and am enjoying it. Despite having to carry all my stuff myself in the heat and humidity. Have had a little bit of a setback in the last couple of days though, I have a case of Bali-belly and have been forced to take a few rest days in Hua Hin.
When I started out from Bangkok I was feeling a bit apprehensive. I had a long walk ahead of me and the walk from the airport into the city had been tiring. Luckily it was as I previously suspected and it was the lack of sleep that was the reason for my tiredness and I felt a lot better as I headed southwest out of Bangkok.
It is a very different experience walking here as opposed to in the south-western USA. Here it is hot and humid and there is lush greenery everywhere. It was probably hotter in the USA but because it was much drier, it felt cooler. Once you get walking here in Thailand, you are soaked in sweat. It runs off you all day and your shirt is never dry. Fortunately, there is always a small store/restaurant close by where you can get water. In fact, it is surprising the number of small stores, or stalls would be more descriptive, that abound. They are almost everywhere. As soon as there are a small collection of shacks, there is bound to be at least two stores/restaurants. Makes it easy when you are walking as it is possible to stock up on water often, which means that you don’t have to carry much. I’m not sure if the stores will be as plentiful as I move further from Bangkok but I suspect they will, especially in the more touristy areas.
Another big difference is the food. It is so easy to get good tasting food and it’s reasonably cheap. Feels a bit strange writing that as I sit here suffering from an upset stomach, but I suppose that was just to be expected sooner or later.
I have walked as far as 49 km in a day with the backpack and it is working well. After the first few days, I was feeling a bit of soreness in my hips from the load of the pack but that disappeared quickly and the walking is now going well. I get more tired than I did walking with the Mule, but it is completely doable. That said, I will be needing the Mule again in Australia to enable me to carry enough water. There are not a lot of small stores along the road between Darwin and Townsville!
The guesthouses have been of varied quality so far. Both as to price and quality. One of my favourites, the 2N guesthouse in Petchaburi was both cheap, clean and served a brilliant breakfast. Another favourite was the Baan Thai Damnoen Canal House, where the owner made me a gift of a sketch of me, on my way from Bangkok to Bali. Not all have been that great though…
I arrived in Hua Hin 3 days ago, planning to have a couple of rest days but have not done much more than spent the last 2 days in bed. In between running to the toilet that is…
I really hope to be able to continue walking tomorrow and everything was looking good up until just recently when I tried to eat some solid food.
Still hoping that I will feel better tomorrow though so that I will be able to keep walking!
Melaka, Malaysia (2014-10-23 05:23)
I left Hua Hin on Wednesday morning, even though I was not really feeling completely ok yet. But the thought of another day doing nothing was a bit too much. Strange isn’t it, after 18 months on the road you would think that stopping for a while would be just what I wanted to do. That’s true to a certain extent, but not too long!
I defied fate and had a cup of coffee with my breakfast (some dry toast) which I sipped slowly and thoroughly enjoyed. Then I headed south. Again, slowly. I felt good walking and trundled along at my own pace and checked out the sights.
After about 10 km it started raining, heavily at first but then it settled into a steady drizzle. I was ready for a break anyway and did not feel like testing the backpack’s rain protector just yet so I found a bus stop beside the road and sat down to see if I could wait it out. I’ve been complaining that I don’t find enough time to write during the-walk so I broke out the computer and sat down to the background sounds of traffic and rain to see if I could find some inspiration.
I did find some but the rain stopped pretty quickly and I packed away the computer and kept walking. Managed to keep going and it was not until later in the afternoon that I again had to seek shelter from the rain. This time in a restaurant (shack) and I decided to try some fried rice. Hopefully, my stomach should be able to handle that. The rain once again stopped and I headed out. I was getting tired by this stage and intended to stop at the first suitable place. That place did not materialise for quite a while. It was dark and had been for hours before I found a place that was both open and not too expensive. It’s offseason and a lot of places are only open “sometimes”, no matter what their posted opening hours are.
That night was spent alternating between the toilet and the bed again. I suppose that I should have known that a 33 km day might have been a bit much to start with, but it did feel good to walk!
I spent another 3 days taking it easy, walking along the beach and trying to do as little as possible to conserve strength. I hoped to do some serious writing now that I had the time but I didn’t. There was just no inspiration.
On the fourth day, I walked back up the beach 5 km and moved to another hotel for another 4 nights. I was getting better but very slowly and it was time to do some serious thinking about how I wanted to plan the coming months.
I plan to celebrate X-mas and new year in Krabi where I am going to meet up with Anna-Maria and she is going to walk with me for about 3 weeks or so. But I am a bit early and need to get an extended visa for Thailand anyway. I had originally planned to make it to Surat Thani and then fly to Kuala Lumpur and walk to Singapore. I could get a new visa there and fly back To Surat Thani to continue to Krabi in time for X-mas. Anna-Maria and I could then continue south towards Kuala Lumpur and hopefully reach it in time for Anna-Maria to fly home.
But from where I was, it was actually easier to get back to Bangkok and fly from there. Said and done. I started looking for flights and booked one for the 16th. Some more rest and then it was time for a long hot ride back to Bangkok to catch the flight to Kuala Lumpur.
Just a short 2-hour hop and I was in Malaysia. Stayed at a hotel near the airport the first night and then set out on some serious walking at last. Another long first day where I started off by walking past the Sepang International Race Circuit.
Worse was that in a week they would be hosting the Malaysian MotoGP race. Motorcycles used to be a huge part of my life and tickets to the race were available and not very expensive. But after much deliberation, I decided to give it a miss. I did not want to wait around and I have been to a MotoGP race before so I made do with a look around and a walk through the museum.
I had taken my time at the circuit and was late setting out. To make matters worse I got caught in a mother of a thunderstorm in the evening and had to seek shelter in bus stop for several hours while the sky opened up and just let everything go. When it finally stopped it was dark and I still had 15 km to go to where I had planed to stay. Not much to do but set off and walk in the dark in the grass alongside the road, keeping an eye on the traffic and hoping not to step on any snakes or anything else that might be hiding in the grass.
I arrived at Grandpa Hotel late and it turned out to be both dirty and smelly. But I was tired and did not really care, it was a place to sleep.
The next day I took it easy and only walked about 10 km down to the seaside at Port Dickson and had a lazy day trying to find a travel adaptor for my chargers.
Sunday morning I headed out and made my way to the Eagle Ranch Resort and got accommodation in a tepee! A bit out of place here in Malaysia, but fun.
I headed out from Eagle Ranch and continued south, as always. Reached Tanjung Bidara in time for a nice rest but when it was time to move out again the next morning I had a bit of a problem. The road continued south, but for some reason, it went straight through a military camp (not marked on google maps) and I was not allowed to walk through it. The cars could apparently continue through but no walking. There was not much else to do, I had to head back and inland to walk around the camp. A lot longer than I anticipated but I wasn’t in any particular hurry so I quickly settled down and just kept walking.
It turned out to be a long wet day and I was happy to arrive at the outskirts of Melaka and find a place to stay.
On Wednesday I took a short walk into Chinatown in Melaka and found a hotel to stay in for 2 nights. I was planning to do a little bit of sightseeing in Melaka and have a look around the markets. Seeing as I was early arriving, I had plenty of time to walk around in the afternoon and early evening. My photography has been a bit lacking for a while (a long while) and I took out the GR and set out to see if I could find something that would inspire me to press the shutter. The results are here:
It was fun walking around playing street photographer but I realised how much photography is a skill that needs to be constantly practised, and I have not been doing enough of it lately.
Johor Bahru, Malaysia (2014-11-01 11:43)
Last time I wrote, I was just about to leave Melaka after a rest day but I actually ended up staying a day extra. Magnus and his girlfriend Olya, who have been following the-walk online got in touch with me and were catching a bus to Melaka the next day. So I stayed.
Not only was it great fun to meet them, it also meant that I got to have a walk around the proper nighttime Jankers Market which is only open Thursday to Sunday.
There is so much happening on a market night. Food to eat, stuff to buy (or not if you have to carry it), and plenty of people to observe.
But the next morning it was time to head south again. One thing that I have been seeing along the road here in Malaysia is lizards. Huge lizards. Luckily they seem to be more scared of me than they think I am of them. Which is just as well, some of them are more than large enough to scare me!
It’s always interesting to observe the differences between countries when you travel and because I have spent a lot of time in different motorcycle workshops throughout my life, I always look a little bit closer at those.
This one was actually quite orderly compared to many I have seen…
It’s very green here and I have managed to walk along some smaller paths in the last couple of days. Great variety and I don’t miss the traffic!
But it has been very hot and humid. Not as hot as it was in parts of Texas, but the humidity here is close to 100 % and it feels way hotter. I took this selfie during a break one hot and humid day, you can see the sweat-drop hanging off the tip of my nose.
This brings me to the subject of portraits. I was challenged by my friend Robert to post 5 photos in 5 days on Facebook and he also gave me the theme portraits. That meant that I spent a bit more time concentrating on close-ups of people and it was actually a lot of fun. People are very friendly and easy to approach here in Malaysia and more than just once they stopped me to take a photo themselves.
I have been caught in a lot of afternoon thunderstorms, it is sort of unavoidable this time of year. Most of the time I find shelter in a bus stop or under a tree but, because there are so many of them, I can usually find a small restaurant to get a coffee in while I wait.
Sometimes it turns out to be a 2 coffee storm, but there are usually interesting people to talk to.
Yesterday, just outside Senai, I ran into a long-distance cyclist. It was the wonderfully crazy Frenchman Olivier who is out on around the world trip, alternating cycling and sailing. He has been at it for 6 years so far! Impressive…
On my way into Johor Bahru I walked past Danga Bay which at the moment is a big construction zone. There are thousands of luxury apartments and shops planed in the area which is being built to compliment (or possibly compete with) Singapore. Be interesting to see what it looks like when it is finished.
Anyone who has been to Asia knows that the whole economy is carried by thousands and thousands of small motor-scooters that zip by all over the place. So it’s not all that strange that some owners have started customising their ride…
So, here I am, on the southern tip of Malaysia, and my plan all along has been to cross the causeway into Singapore. But today I decided not to but to take the train back to Kuala Lumpur without entering Singapore. By not doing that now I will save both money and time and as Singapore is going to be the starting point for my continued southern journey when I am finished in Thailand, I will be returning there anyway. Just later.
That said, it was a difficult decision. Standing looking out at the causeway and seeing Singapore just a stone’s throw away made turning my back and heading to the train station to buy a ticket very confusing. But not to worry, as somebody famous once said, “I’ll be back!”
Video update from Malaysia (2014-11-12 13:15)
Ipoh, Malaysia (2014-11-15 15:02)
I’ve reached Ipoh, north of Kuala Lumpur and although it feels like I have not done all that much walking, a lot has happened.
I spent a few days in KL in order to have time to get a longer visa for Thailand. It was easy to get, just involved standing in line, paying RM 110 and waiting 24 hours. There were a lot of people applying for visas so I can only surmise that tourist season is getting nearer…
Walking around in KL was interesting, I found this guy having a shave using the mirror on a scooter. Maybe not all that strange but it was not his scooter and it was in front of a busy restaurant, on a highly trafficked street.
There is a lot of construction going on and there were several fences made out of a reflective, plated steel sheet. Great for strange selfies but would have been even better for some real portraits. Unfortunately, I was too lazy and on my way to the Thailand Embassy to do something with it.
There are some great graffiti-style paintings around town, but I believe they are commissioned, not “real” graffiti.
In the never-ending struggle of trying to become a minimalist, I packed some stuff into a parcel that I sent to Stockholm. Not the first time I have sent something back and I am going to have to do some serious sorting and thinking about what I need when I have my little work break in Stockholm. A lot of stuff I have discarded is warm weather equipment, so I will need that in the future. That’s one of the great things about the warm climate here in Asia, at least where I am, you need only a minimum of clothing.
I stayed at the Submarine Hostel in KL, recommended by Magnus, and this is Max, the very helpful manager. I then headed back south a little bit to spend 2 days at The Basikal, a warm showers/bicycle shop run by Akmal. I went there to meet up with Olivier, the french cyclist that I met on the way to “Singapore”. We got in touch by email and he wanted me to come to visit for a couple of reasons. Firstly, we had a lot to talk about and secondly, he said that there was a surprise waiting for me.
The surprise turned out to be Terje, the Norwegian long distance cyclist that I had met in Spain 10 months ago! I had told Olivier about that when we met on the road and by the strangest of circumstances, when Olivier turned up at The Basikal, there was Terje. As you may recall, when I met Terje in Spain, he had been travelling on his bike for 16 years, so now it is closer to
17. But that is not the whole story, he has been travelling for closer to 23 years, just the last 17 on a bike! I spent some time talking to Terje, over lunch and coffee, and the stories that he tells are amazing. It seems that he has been everywhere and done almost everything.
Both Olivier and Terje had to do some work on their bikes and although I sometimes feel a bit envious when long-distance cyclists whiz past me on the road, it was great to just relax and watch other people working. My new backpack did not need any fixing!
On the first day I was there, Terje and I went to the local “Chinese” for lunch and we had only just managed to arrive when it started raining. It did not look too bad from inside the restaurant but when we headed back we quickly discovered that it had been a major thunderstorm and had caused some serious damage. Trees and signposts felled, roofs blown off and big party tents blown away.
On my last evening at The Basikal, both Olivier and I gave small talks to a group of cyclists about our projects. It was very interesting to listen to Olivier’s talk. He is trying to cycle, sail (and paraglide) around the world, all on the surface and without using any motorised transport. Check out his website:
After leaving KL and finally starting north again I reached Batu Caves on my first day of walking. I decided to play tourist and visited the temple, looked at the monkeys and even took a tour through the limestone caves.
The tour was through the Dark Cave, and it’s not called the Dark Cave for nothing…
At the end of the tour, the guide offered to take group photos with our cameras and although I was there on my own a group of Australian girls were quick to offer to be part of my group.
Since then I have slowly made my way north, walking past markets and enjoying the slow pace. It’s necessary to take it easy because of the heat and humidity. Although it is nowhere near as hot as it was in Texas, because of the humidity, it actually feels hotter.
A “noodle bar” at the 7-11!
I ran into another very interesting guy the other day as well. His name is Hamza and he has been travelling for 6 years. He was working with security in France before he left, and if I understood correctly, he just finally had enough of all the violence and decided to do something more constructive. If you read french, then you can find out more here:
We talked about all sorts of stuff and eventually started talking about where we sleep. I mentioned that Terje had recommended using a hammock and that I was thinking of trying to find one. Hamza quickly started digging through his trailer and gave me a “Ticket To The Moon” hammock that he did not use. Great name! I’m looking forward to trying it and finding out if it is a viable way to camp out. One of the things I sent to Stockholm was my tent, so the hammock is a great addition.
I also finally had a haircut. I’ve been thinking about it for a while but just never got around to it. Then, the other day I noticed that I was walking past a small and ancient barbershop and thought, “What the heck”. The barber was just as ancient and spoke no English but he did a good job. Cheap too, RM 8 or about 18 SKR (USD 2.40).
I even got to try out the hammock a couple of times. There is usually a rainstorm during the afternoon and I often find that I have to seek shelter at a bus stop or one of the many rain/sun shelters that line the road. A very comfortable way to wait out the rain.
It’s not always easy to decide what to eat and especially in the smaller towns, the only way to communicate is through sign language, but it always works out in the end.
Something that happens to me at least twice a day is that somebody stops to offer me a ride. They are just not used to a middle-aged white guy walking along the road here (it was the same in Thailand). It’s not always easy to explain that I want to walk, but people are friendly and helpful and it is an opportunity to meet locals. Like this very friendly man who stopped and said that he was on his way to his farm but he would be happy to give me a ride to town first if I wanted.
Tomorrow, Sunday, I intend to continue on my way north. My next goal is Georgetown and I hope to get there in 5 to 6 days. Once there I will take a few rest days and see if I can get both some photography and writing done.
Until then, I need to keep walking!
Georgetown, Malaysia (2014-11-28 15:41)
I’ve made it to Georgetown, the hard part of Malaysia is now more or less done. From here I will be cheating a little bit, taking some ferries between the islands.
Heading north from Ipoh, I walked past a lot of temples in the limestone caves scattered through the hills. Spent a fair bit of time stopping and looking at all the artwork. Intricate and interesting.
The rest of the walk to Georgetown was easy and almost a bit boring, but I did meet some very friendly people along the way.
This is Carol and Law, just 2 of the many friendly people who stop and wonder if they can help me in any way. But Carol and Law were extra friendly! 🙂
Once I reached Georgetown I spent a fair bit of time walking around town and getting a feel for it. Talking to the rickshaw drivers and looking at the workshops that line the roads.
In many ways, they fascinate me. They are often just a hole in the wall, with no special equipment and often no furniture. All the work seems to be done on the ground.
Let’s just say that none of my workshops, even when they were at their worst, were quite this disorganised. At least I like to think so…
Still, they somehow manage to put out some very good work. Like this, only slightly modified Honda C70.
Spent a lot of time walking through markets, there are a lot of them, like everywhere here in Asia. The trick is to not buy anything.
After all that walking what I needed was some food and there are lots of places to eat.
I found a place that I really liked and before I knew it, I was a regular! 🙂 Yeap Noodles, best noodles in Georgetown (not that I managed to try them all).
And after a good lunch, I am not the only one who appreciates a good siesta.
Apart from the sightseeing, I have been doing a lot of thinking about photography. Mine and in general. I’m sure that some of you have noticed some changes in my photography in the last month or so and there have been some changes. Both good and bad. But I think I have been headed in very much the wrong direction and I need to think a lot more about future directions. I am not going to write too much more about it here and now but expect some serious writing during my “work” holiday in Stockholm next year. Suffice to say that I am experiencing some existential angst.
But enough about that, more photos…
You are never too old for a good comic book.
There are a lot of tourists around and I have noticed that they are getting more and more plentiful as high season approaches and I get closer to the tourist islands.
I got some new flip-flops, nice and colourful. They were 2 for the price of 1 so I got one pair of blue ones and another red pair.
I’m off to Langkawi tomorrow and will spend a whole week staying at the one and same hostel. It will feel strange but don’t worry, I intend to do some serious walking during the week anyway!
Video from Sarasota (2014-12-03 02:54)
Just found this video clip online from when I was starting my walk across the USA. Don’t remember sharing it then so thought I would put it up now:
IFRAME: http://eplayer.clipsyndicate.com/embed/iframe?pf _id=1 &show _title=0 &va
Langkawi Cable Car video (2014-12-04 08:59)
Langkawi, Malaysia (2014-12-05 11:49)
I have now spent almost a week on Langkawi, staying at the same guesthouse all the time. Now, a week might not sound all that long to stay in one place, but it sure feels like it for me. Restlessness has definitely started to set in and I am looking forward to moving on tomorrow. Intend to take the ferry to Ko Lipe first thing and return to Thailand. It’s only a 1.5-hour trip and I will have all day to spend there.
Not that Langkawi has been a bad place to rest up a bit on and do some touristy stuff. It is a beautiful place and there is a whole lot of stuff to do. I have walked a fair bit across the island but I did rent a scooter for a day as well so that I could get a chance to see all of Langkawi.
Have had time to do some more touristy stuff than I have been doing at most places. From riding the cable car,
to trying the fish n chips restaurant that several people recommended. That proved to a bit of a flop though, the local food is just so much better. Cheaper to.
But mostly I have just had time to wander around, absorb the atmosphere and relax (and wear in my new flip-flops).
I did have a bit of an adventure on the scooter I hired. I was following a bus through a twisty section of the island when the bus snagged a low hanging powerline!
Before it could stop, it had pulled a pole down across the road and the power line came down on my head. Nothing much happened apart from me getting a bit of a smack on the head. Either there was no power in the line or it was well insulated. Just goes to show how much safer it is to walk!
I’ve been staying at the Seaview Guesthouse, a nice place that was reasonably cheap. Simple rooms, but then, what more do you need?
I’ve met a lot of people passing through the guesthouse during the week. Both locals and travellers. From Jane,
to “uncle” Johnny,
and Denise and Daniel from Gotland. Plus many, many more
But tomorrow I will be back on the ferry and on my way to Ko Lipe in Thailand. Malaysia will finally be finished and I will have only Thailand to go before it is time to head back to Stockholm for 2 months for a lot of work. Have to make some money before I continue on the last part of the Asian section, Indonesia. Then only Australia will remain…
It feels like it’s getting closer all the time and I am really starting to feel confident that I will be able to finish the-walk as planned.
I just have to do a bit more walking…
The Mule, Instagram video (2014-12-07 04:27)
As you all know I am walking in Asia without the Mule. All in all a good decision considering the state of roads, sidewalks and the ferry-hopping I am doing. I don’t need the carrying capacity here as I am staying in guesthouses and there is plenty of water available. If nothing else, it rains every day!
Which doesn’t mean that I don’t miss the Mule…
So I made a slideshow with the images of the Mule from the Instagram feed.
Enjoy the trials and tribulations as the Mule and I walk from Stockholm to San Diego…
Ko Lanta, Thailand (2014-12-14 11:34)
I have to admit that it feels like I have been having a holiday since the last time I wrote…
After leaving Langkawi, I have been spending days lazing around the tropical islands of Thailand. Not a bad life at all!
I arrived in Ko Lipe and transferred to the island from the ferry by longtail boat. There is no proper pier here, everybody is landed on the beach, and there is always a welcoming committee waiting for the new tourists.
Ko Lipe is very touristy, but I have to admit I enjoyed it. Warm weather, a nice beach and a walking street to wander down (and not buy anything).
Then when the evening approaches, the restaurants move out onto the beach and you can relax and watch the sunset.
Or, for slightly cheaper food, you can take a stroll down the walking street and watch as the food is grilled next to the sidewalk.
As I said, nice and enjoyable. But I had to move on in order to reach Krabi in time for Christmas, so I booked a trip on the speed ferry to Ko Mook. I was offered the same price for the speed ferry as the “slow” boat and thought it would be a nice change. The speed ferry backs right up onto the beach and you just have to hop on…
As we moved north, there were more and more small islands, some of them very strange looking. Basically, just cliffs towering out of the sea. I would love to take a few months with a boat of my own and have a chance to explore some of them.
Ko Mook proved to be a fair bit quieter than Ko Lipe, not always a bad thing but there wasn’t even an ATM on the island and I was almost out of cash. Only just managed to scrape together enough cash to pay for one night in a cheap bungalow and pay for the ferry to Ko Lanta. At least I knew there would be plenty of cash machines there!
I was far from the only backpacker on Ko Mook, there were thousands of hermit crabs running around on the beach.
After another transfer onto the ferry, it was nice to know that Bob was looking out for my backpack.
When I arrived in Ko Lanta, I managed to get hold of Magnus and Olya. It was nice to meet up again and always good to be able to discuss travel plans with people who have a bit of experience of the area.
The days have been spent walking along the beach, swimming and even taking an Mtb bike trip down the west coast.
In the evening you can sit and watch the sunset…
or take a leisurely stroll along the beach…
or maybe even try to photograph the sunset…
After the sun sets, and it sets quickly, you can take a slow walk to the night market (if it is open, not always) and find some cheap tasty food!
Ko Lanta is a nice place if you understand that it is both touristy and very much a backpacker destination. There are more expensive, upmarket areas as well as cheaper, very basic bungalows for the backpackers. Food prices vary accordingly and it is possible to eat Phad Thai, with chicken, for anything from 49 Bath to 200. A tip, the cheaper ones have proven to be the best!
Petrol stations here on Ko Lanta are nothing more than a few bottles of petrol, displayed by the side of the road. For some reason I find the bottles to be visually intriguing. Hard to explain why…
At least, if there is ever a violent revolution here in Thailand, there will be plenty of Molotov Cocktails available.
In the next day or so I intend to head ever northwards, this time to Ko Phi Phi. I will probably spend 3-4 days there and then it will be time to find my friends in Krabi and celebrate Christmas.
As you can tell, life is good, but don’t worry, I’m still doing a lot of walking…
Ko Phi Phi, Thailand (2014-12-19 14:59)
I’m on Ko Phi Phi and the island has proven to be a little bit too much of a party place for me. At least at the moment. I’m just not in the right frame of mind for the endless, all-night partying that is going on here.
Just as well that I will be heading out to Krabi tomorrow to find Anna-Maria and the others that I will be celebrating Christmas with.
There are a lot of Swedes here in Thailand at the moment, no doubt all escaping the Swedish winter, and just before I left Ko Lanta, I managed to have lunch with Julia, a retouch and image editor I know from Stockholm. Check out her work at:
Julia was not the only person that I ran into…
On the ferry to Phi Phi, I met my niece Rebecca and her family. It was not totally surprising as I knew they were in the area, but still!
This is Oliver, who just finished explaining to me that he doesn’t like vegetables. He is looking perplexed because he just tasted my mango shake, which he liked a lot, and I told him a little white lie. That mango is a vegetable…
I’ve spent the days walking around the island and it’s not difficult to see that it once was a very beautiful place. It’s one of those places you should have visited 15 years ago.
The evenings have been spent finding cheap places to eat and not buying any cocktail buckets ( I will admit to having one or two beers though!)
Because I am trying to be economical, I haven’t gone on any diving, climbing or sunset watching trips, and have even managed to avoid getting a tattoo…
I have been up to the viewpoint a couple of times to watch the sunset, but it was not until tonight that it was any good. This is the view that greeted me and what felt like a thousand other tourists a few hours ago.
I am not at all sorry to be leaving tomorrow and I suspect that one of the reasons is that I am feeling a bit restless. I want to be walking more!
Can’t wait for Christmas to be over so that Anna-Maria and I can start walking across Thailand towards Surat Thani.
Just want to keep walking…
Merry Christmas! (2014-12-23 03:01)
This time last year I was in Barcelona and preparing to celebrate the season with new friends.
Since then I have finished the European part of my walk, crossed the USA, am well on my way through Asia and am yet again preparing to celebrate Christmas, this time with both new and old friends.
Along my travels during the past year, I have met so many wonderful, helpful people and experienced the very best that humankind has to offer. It has been an experience that makes me so much more positive about our future than reading or listening to the news ever could.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all, new friends, old friends and friends yet to be discovered, a very merry Christmas and many continued happy New years ahead!
Surat Thani, Thailand and a New Year! (2015-01-01 15:33)
2014 has turned into 2015 and I would like to wish all of you out there that are following my little walk the very best year to come!
A fair bit has happened since I posted last. I left Ko Phi Phi on a ferry loaded with backpackers and headed towards Karabi, where I was supposed to meet my friend Anna-Maria. She is going to be walking with me for most of January. If you have been following the-walk since I was in France you will remember that she walked with me from Bourdeaux to Biarritz. That made her the person that has walked the longest part of the-walk with me and I think she was a bit put off when Charlie suddenly turned up and walked with me for three weeks in Texas…
So to reclaim her “longest walker” title, she joined me in Krabi and is going to walk with me to Hua Hin.
We had planned to meet in Krabi and to get in touch when we both arrived. So I took a bus into the city centre, hopped off and went to the nearest corner to set down my backpack and try to call her. Just as I put the pack down, I looked up and there was Anna-Maria, arriving at the same corner in order to try to get in touch with me!
While in Krabi we stayed with friends of A-M (and now me), Göran and Noi. They picked us up in town and drove us to their house outside Krabi.
To make up for the bus rides and the car ride home to Göran and Noi, I had to do some walking and A-M walked with me. Naturally, we got caught in a thunderstorm on the first day…
The area around Krabi is spectacular with perpendicular cliffs rising out of the countryside. The harshness of the cliffsides contrasts with the lush greenery and makes a very compelling landscape. Add to that the beaches and it is gorgeous.
Göran and Noi showed us some of the local sights and we spent Christmas Eve, first relaxing in a hot spring…
and then trying to decide what to eat from our “Christmas food” menu!
That was followed by trying to guess what the different prohibition signs were trying to convey at the entrance to the national park…
How many can you get right?
We then rounded off the afternoon with a dip in the emerald pool. I am not missing a white Christmas!
Christmas day was more of the same, but this time we went to Railay Beach. Great swimming, scenery and lots of cliffs to climb.
I could see myself spending a lot more time there, off-season, to relax, write and learn to climb…
On Boxing Day it was time for A-M and me to set of across Thailand with our sights set on Surat Thani and Ko Samui. A-M found the going very hot the first few days and managed to scare the local kids with her new fashion, a buff with large chunks of ice inserted in it. Her head looked lumpy and distorted and there was a constant stream of water running down her face and neck. Poor kid will probably never recover…
Apart from that, we have made good time even though we are taking it easy and trying to find time to put up the hammock at least once a day.
The best experience about walking through Thailand is the people. They are incredibly friendly, helpful and generous. More than once we have been invited in for a coconut or a cup of coffee.
The markets are another attraction, everything from ready-made salad to stuff that could put you of dinner all together.
And as always, friendly people!
The “service stations” can be a bit basic, but some are fully equipped, like this one.
We have managed to find some wonderful places to rest, especially on the days when we can stay away from the larger roads.
We have even seen a bit of the wildlife, but nowhere near as much as might be expected. No live snakes yet, to A-M’s great delight.
What we have seen a lot of are rubber tree plantations. Lots and lots!
Along with rubber mats hanging out to dry.
Take-away coffee is purchased in plastic bags, not exactly Starbucks but coffee is coffee!
A lot of the local hotels we have been staying in have a, for us, strange appearance. They look more like do-it-yourself garages rather than hotels. Strange but functional. They also all tend to have condoms provided in the rooms, along with large mirrors beside the beds. We have taken to calling them “condom hotels”, the one time we have stayed in a more “normal-looking hotel there were no condoms and no mirrors…
It’s not uncommon to meet oxen on the road, on the way to be placed at a new area to graze.
Also not uncommon are three-wheeled “restaurants”. They run around all over the place and you can just flag them down and buy some food. They all have their own specialities, from dumplings to grilled chicken or maybe noodle soup.
A-M is fascinated by the “wild-life” and her camera is busy capturing all the oxen, cows and dogs we pass.
All our meals are often consumed in small local food stalls. They are often simple affairs but the food is both great and cheap. Seldom more than 100 bath for the both of us.
Everywhere we pass by, people call out to us “Hello, where you going?” and try to make sure that we are all right and know where we are going. As I wrote earlier, people are very friendly, always making sure we are ok and asking if they can help. It feels very strange, but there are often so many people trying to help us through the day that we have to try to remember not to get annoyed… Isn’t wonderful that it is possible to travel through a country that almost feels too friendly!
We were even invited to the Police Station and given a cup of coffee, some biscuits and a yoghurt drink. They were not very good at English and we had some difficulty communicating but A-M managed to become Facebook friends with a woman officer anyway.
Food is abundantly available and there are even one or two ice-cream scooters running around. Even on the smaller roads!
I don’t think I can explain just how friendly and helpful people are to us as we walk by. Thailand is now officially the friendliest place I have ever travelled in!
It has been a great start to the new year and I hope it continues along the same lines. I don’t need to make any New Years resolutions, I already know what I need to do in the coming year. Walk.
The plan is hopefully to reach Sydney before the next new year and maybe then I will need to decide what I will continue with during 2017. Continue walking maybe..?
This time last year I was in Palma de Mallorca and since then I have finished the European part of the-walk, crossed the USA and made good headway into the Asian part of the-walk. So much has happened and I have met so many wonderful people that it is difficult to comprehend that only one year has passed. Yet at the same time, it feels like only yesterday that I left my apartment in Stockholm, dropped the keys through the mail slot and started walking towards Sydney. It has already been a great adventure and I hope the coming year will continue in the same way.
I wish you all a wonderful New Year and hope that it is as great as my past year has been!
I’ll leave you with some photos of an Austin 4wd we walked past today, for no other reason than that I like old, rusted cars (to photograph, not to own).
Chumphon, Thailand (2015-01-08 14:35)
Just a quick little update.
Anna-Maria and I are now about 15 km north of Chumphon and have started our final bit of walking along the coast to Hua Hin. We are counting on it taking around two weeks to get there and hope to be able to spend at least a little bit of time on the beaches along the way.
It ended up taking us nine days to cross Thailand from Krabi to Surat Thani and it was at times hot, sticky work. Especially Anna-Maria deserved a break after that and we spent 3 days out on Ko Tao, enjoying the scenery, eating well and trying to rest.
My feet getting a well deserved soak in the salt water at Ko Tao!
When we arrived at Ko Tao, we were immediately attacked by the taxi and taxi boat drivers, as were all the newly arrived tourists. Our explanation that we were walking was difficult to accept!
There was even a lady waiting for Captain Nemo. She was looking a bit bored, spending most of her time playing with her smartphone. Wonder if he ever arrived…
All in all, we had a great time on Ko Tao and Anna-Maria even got to try some snorkelling. We stayed at a great little “resort” with bamboo huts spaced out on the coastline and clinging precariously to the cliffs. The toilet and showers were outdoors and that would have been very quaint if not for the fact that the balcony of the neighbouring hut had a great view of our shower…
We just tried to make sure the neighbours were out when we cleaned up. Luckily the toilet was a little bit more secluded.
But it was a great place. Good, cheap food and nice and secluded. Friendly staff and excellent views out over the ocean.
One morning, just before breakfast, I met Frank. He has a map of the world tattooed on his back. When I asked him about it, he said that he had been working on a boat that was supposed to sail around the world. Unfortunately, it was sold before the trip started, and not just once but twice…
But he had now got a new job on another boat due to sail around the world, so his map is going to get some use after all!
We are now well rested and it feels great to be back on the road. I’m starting to wonder how I am going to be able to cope with the two months of work in Stockholm that are ahead of me. Two months in one place when all I really want to be doing is walking…
Khao Sam Roi Yot, Thailand (2015-01-21 04:59)
Well, it’s been an interesting period since I posted something last. We have been walking slowly up the coast and the scenery has been varied. A lot of the time we have been able to walk along roads that follow the ocean and at times we have even been walking along the beach itself. One of the few benefits of not having the Mule along! 🙂
But we have also been forced to walk along some major roads as well and that is not always as enlightening…
The plantations have slowly changed character as well. Further south it was mostly rubber and palm oil plantations but as we have moved further and further north, they are being replaced by coconut palms, banana trees and pineapple plantations. Most coconut plantations are just that but we have seen a few that use the ground beneath the palm trees to grow other crops. In fact, we have seen some that have both coconut palms and pineapples, making them essentially Pina-Colada plantations!
We have been lucky to find reasonable accommodation without too many problems and the one night we did have some troubles it all worked out well anyway. We were heading north from Prachuap Khiri Khan and had our sights set on a hotel that Google Maps claimed was about 25 km out of town but when we arrived there it did not exist. There was a much more expensive resort nearby and we were forced to try our luck there, but they were fully booked. Instead, we headed towards the small, very small, train station and sat down to try to figure out what we should do. Head towards the highway and hope that there was a hotel there? Or maybe even just take it easy and sleep at the train station? By this stage, we had walked a bit more than 30 km and A-M was starting to get sore feet.
As we sat in our thoughts, a friendly Thai gentleman that spoke good English came up and wondered if we were waiting for the train. Turns out that there was a train back to Prachuap Khiri Khan in just 90 minutes! And there were plenty of cheap hotels to choose from there. Even better, there was a train back to Thung Mamao, where we were, from Prachuap Khiri Khan at 5 am. Ok, I was not too keen on taking that train but A-M was persistent….
That all meant that we could relax and wait for the train. It proved to be an expensive trip, costing all of 4 Bath, that’s less than 1 Skr!
Once we arrived back in Prachuap Khiri Khan we easily found a cheap and clean hotel not at all far from the station. We dumped our stuff and headed out to the Saturday night market to get some food and then stocked up on stuff for our early start the next day.
The alarm went of at 4 am and we got our gear together and tried to leave the hotel. We were not very successful… Turns out that we were locked in. Every door to the hotel was shut and locked. There was no way out! We tried calling the hotel on the phone but got no answer. Even the fire escape was locked with a large padlock… No wonder a lot of people tend to die if there is ever a fire in a hotel in Asia.
I was extremely pissed off but there was nothing we could do, we had already missed the train. Back to bed to try to get some sleep and get back up in order to catch the next train which we hoped would leave at 10 am.
That train did eventually leave, only 1 hour late, with us on it and we were able to start walking again from where we had left off.
When we had walked through Prachuap Khiri Khan, the day before, we walked past the fountain near the Temple and it was packed with monkeys. We stopped for a while to watch them at play, jumping and swimming in the fountain. It was the first time I have ever seen a monkey swim underwater. It was obvious that they were enjoying themselves. Not all of them were super friendly though. One started snarling at me when I went to photograph him but the local guy selling food for the monkeys just indicated to me that I should just kick him if he persisted!
All in all, it’s been a great week with lots of helpful people stopping to ask if we need help. Not only the Thais, but even a fair few ex-pats have been extra helpful. There was the Norwegian who was out on a “short” 90 km bike ride who gave us some tips about which road to choose and then even turned up later in the day to make sure we were ok and walking on the right side of the road.
At one stage we were walking along a smaller road and a gentleman came out and asked where we were headed. It turned out that the road dead-ended up ahead and we would be better off turning around and trying to get back to the main road. He also turned out to be Norwegian and said that he had lived on this road for 7 years and never seen any “farangs” walking along it.
There are a lot of Scandinavians along this part of the coast, in Huai Yang all the Real Estate Agents advertised the price of their properties in Swedish kroner!
As usual, all the Thai people we have come into contact with have been extremely friendly and helpful. It is not always easy to communicate but their good intent always shines through in any encounter.
The only negative thing I can say is that it is very depressing to notice how most Thais just throw away their rubbish where ever they can. You can see heaps of rubbish almost everywhere, the places that are the cleanest are the tourist areas. When we were walking along the coast it was always easy to spot the beaches where there are many tourist resorts, they had been cleaned up. We actually started referring to the beaches where there was a lot of rubbish as “Thai beaches”…
One other fun thing that has happened is that I have once again met some long-distance cyclists for the second time during the-walk. Just the other day we were walking along a main road when a couple on bikes passed us by. They were obviously long-distance travellers and we said “Hi” as they passed. I sort of got the feeling that I had met them before, but was unsure of when and where. I kept looking over my shoulder at them and noticed that the guy was doing the same. All of a sudden it came to me. They were the couple I had met in Mont Saint-Michel, France, more than 16 months ago! I waved at them to stop and come back.
Sure enough, it was Dino and Suzy, on their way from the UK to New Zealand. Since meeting them last, they had continued their journey east, while I went west. Now, 16 months later we arrived at the same place having gone in different directions around the world. Sort of proves that the earth is round!
For the first time in Asia, we also ran (walked) into another hiker. As we were walking along the road in Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park we were suddenly surprised by another walker that caught up to us. It turned out to be Mario, who was spending some time trying to find some places to do some hiking in Thailand. When we asked him how long he had been travelling he said it was a bit hard to say, depends on how you want to define travelling. Turns out that he has been away from Germany for 4 years but has spent long periods of time at different places (Asia, South America amongst others), and was not sure that qualified him as “travelling”!
Not many walking days to go now before I have managed to complete stage one of my Asian journey, Bangkok to Singapore. It’s been a bit of a puzzle making everything work in order to be able to celebrate Christmas with friends and meet up with A-M and have her walk with me for a month but has all worked out well. I think A-M is pleased to have regained the crown as being the person who has walked both longest time and distance with me on the-walk.
It will soon be time to head to Stockholm for 2 months of work, something that I am very ambivalent about. On one hand, it is always very inspiring to work with the students at Fotoskolan Stockholm and it will be great to catch up with friends, family and colleagues, but…
I don’t like having to take such a long break in my walking! Nevertheless, it needs to be done, I need the money to continue. It will be a perfect time to organise the visas for Indonesia and Australia as well and I intend to try to improve some of my equipment as well.
I have been thinking a lot about photography, specifically my photography, lately and how it fits in with my take on minimalism. Not sure where it will all lead but I am sure that there will be some major changes made while I am in Sweden, but more about that later.
For now I am just content that there is at least a little bit more walking to be done!
Stockholm to Singapore: Done! (2015-01-26 03:50)
Almost 21 months ago I dropped the keys to my rented apartment back into the mail slot after having locked the door for the last time, stepped behind the Mule and started pushing. Heading south, towards Sydney…
I was finally on my way!
Since then I have walked quite a bit (possibly the understatement of the year).
I’ve met a lot of wonderful people, seen places I have never visited before and parked the Mule in some weird situations.
But, all in all, it’s been great. I hesitate to write this but in many ways, it has almost been too easy!
That’s not to say there haven’t been some problems, but nothing that was in any way insurmountable.
I have not tallied the total distance walked yet, I don’t find it as important as I did in the beginning. After the first 5,000 km, it becomes just another number that doesn’t manage to reflect what is behind it or what has happened to me while walking it. Suffice to say that I have walked a lot of miles!
I still have a long way to go and, hopefully, many more wonderful people to meet. I’m looking forward to it!
Next week I leave Thailand and fly to Stockholm to work for 2 months. It will be an intense 2 months as I intend to work as much as possible and yet still try to update the blog, my equipment and maybe even get some work published in other media.
Even though I like working with the students at Fotoskolan Stockholm, it feels like a strange break and I am already looking forward to starting out from Singapore again. Not only that, after 10 months of summer and walking through deserts and tropical jungle, it’s going to be very cold in Stockholm!
Thank you all for following me this far and stay tuned, there is a lot more to come!
Bangkok, Thailand (2015-02-01 04:50)
I’m sitting in a cheap hotel room in Bangkok trying to be a little bit creative and get some writing done. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I am being very successful, but that’s ok. If nothing else I am committing some of my thoughts and experiences to “paper” and I’m sure that it will come in handy when I eventually reach Sydney and sit down to write “the-book”!
I will be flying back to a wintry, cold Stockholm early tomorrow morning, something I am both looking forward to and dreading…
One of the reasons that I am in Bangkok already is that I got the opportunity to meet up with a very interesting person the other day. His name is Lars Bengtsson and he is a long-distance cyclist and traveller that has cycled 87,000 km in 88 different countries! You can read all about his exploits, which are not limited to cycling, at his site www.lostcyclist.com ( in Swedish).
We have been Facebook friends for a little while but had never met in person and when I read on Facebook that he was coming to Bangkok just before I was due to fly out, I decided I had to take the opportunity to meet. He turned out to be just as interesting as could be expected from following his adventures online and we had a great conversation. About (lack of) sponsorship, travels, money, blond girls, lifestyle, minimalism, walking, cycling and almost everything else.
It was also very interesting that we met on Khaosan Road. When I walked there and turned the corner onto Khaosan Road, it totally amazed me… I know that it is probably the most well know “backpacker” street in the world and I have been there a couple of times during my travels but the last time was a while ago. Now it’s just a huge tourist trap and is full of western bars, restaurants and travel agencies. It more or less completely encompasses everything that I find disturbing about the tourist industry.
Probably a great place to party and meet westerners, but there is nothing authentic Thai there.
Anyway, I hope to get a lot done while I am in Stockholm so expect some changes and updates to the site, possibly some other news and a lot more thoughts about my travels so far.
As always, much, much more to come…
Stockholm, Sweden.…. (2015-02-13 19:30)
“ I tend to think of the act of photographing, generally speaking, as an adventure. My favourite thing is to go where I’ve never been.”
– Diane Arbus
When I stepped onto the aeroplane in Bangkok, the temperature was 31 degrees celsius. When I stepped off, 12 hours later in Stockholm, it was -4! That’s not all that cold, if you are dressed in nice, warm winter clothing, but I had thin, flimsy summer pants and a thin fleece jumper. Again, probably not a problem if somebody had been there to meet me, but I had to make my way across town using public transport…
The difference in temperature from Bangkok was extreme, but thankfully, the public transport system in Stockholm is outstanding and I arrived at my destination without any serious frostbite.
I’ve been here for a while now and the change from walking in the tropics to working in the arctic (well almost), is difficult to quantify. Let’s just say that it is different…
I’ve been very busy, organising some photography courses, teaching, meeting friends and relatives and washing all of my travelling gear. I have a long, long list of things I want to accomplish while I am in Stockholm and I am starting to realise that I might not get everything done. I will try though so expect some news in the coming weeks!
I am reading a lot of photographic texts and at the same time trying to decide how to continue documenting the-walk. There will be changes before I head back to Singapore, it’s just that I am not sure what those changes will be yet!
So make sure you stay tuned as I try to sort out where I am heading.
Maybe that was the wrong expression, we all know where I am heading, walking to Sydney..
Slussen, Stockholm (2015-03-01 18:55)
I’ve been back in Stockholm for almost one month. In fact, it will be exactly 4 weeks tomorrow. It’s been an intense period with a lot of work, catching up with friends and relatives and trying to reorganise and improve my equipment.
Although I have been working a lot with photography and photographers I have not had much if any, time to do any serious work myself, but this afternoon I took about 30 minutes to walk around Slussen with my friend Dennis.
Not nearly enough time, but it is a very interesting place at the moment. Sort of a living, urban-exploring landscape.
I’m trying some new, at least for me, photographic equipment and would love to be able to spend a lot more time doing some sort of photographic exploration of Slussen before I leave to fly back to Asia. I sort of doubt that I am going to have the time though…
Newsletter! Sign up now! (2015-04-09 08:23)
Subscribe to the-walks newsletter!
I am back in Asia and back on the road! (Well soon anyway.. )
The big news is, as some of you have already discovered, that I am starting a newsletter for the-walk.
There are a number of reasons that I believe a newsletter is a great idea, and I’ll mention just a few.
First up, I have noticed that a lot of people that I know are very interested in following my walk turn out to not have any idea about what is going on. When I went back to Stockholm to work for 2 months, I ran into friends that had no idea that I was back. Despite the fact that I know they would like to follow the walk and keep track of what is happening to me. The problem is that they don’t have the time, or just forget, to check the blog for updates. That combined with the way that Facebook works (not always showing posts and updates) combines to leave them in the dark about the-walks many adventures!
I could recommend that they get a RSS feed reader but somehow I think it will be better to create a newsletter and get everyone that is truly interested in the-walk to sign up.
The newsletter is not going to replace the blog, or the Instagram feed, which will continue as usual. It is meant to provide an update and a reminder of what is happening and what my future plans are. It will contain slightly different content from the blog and I hope they will complement each other.
Don’t worry! I will not spam you or try to sell any useless “stuff”. It is intended for information about the-walk and me. Nor will I fill your inbox with thousands of newsletters. The plan is to send one every 1 to 2 months, with updates about my plans, where I am and some sort of summary of what has happened on the blog.
So take the time to sign up now! The first newsletter is planned to be sent when I leave Hua Hin on my way towards Singapore, around the 20th of April. Don’t just sign up, help me spread the word about the walk and tell your friends about the newsletter…
One thing that I made sure to have time to do when I visited Stockholm was to check up on both of my grandmothers. Both of them are into their nineties and healthy and lucid. What do they both have in common?
They both like to go for a long walk every day! So remember to keep walking.
Hua Hin highlights (2015-04-21 05:53)
I am now at the end of my 2-week stay in Hua Hin and, although it has been a work period, it has been a great time. Maybe the best was participating in Songkran, the Thai new year and water festival. Having a waterproof Xperia mobile phone proved to be great, I was able to capture the fun of the party without having to worry about my camera all the time.
Lots of other experiences as well, even got my feet cleaned by fish! You don’t want to be too ticklish if you try this…
The last week has been spent working with Filip, filming material for 2 photography courses that will eventually be available on Moderskeppet. Fun, creative and intense.
I am now finally ready to hit the road again and make my way down to Singapore to continue my walk to Sydney. But rather than taking the train down, I will be cycling. I have bought an ex-rental bike that looks like it has spent the last 3 years in a swamp. That, and the fact that it is a Trek has led to me nick-naming it Shreck. Shreck will be pulling my new mini-mule, a Burley Travoy trailer that can also be used as a hand cart.
I really do miss the Mule, but we won’t be reunited until I reach Darwin and start to prepare to cross the outback…
I am really looking forward to getting back on the road again and as always, there is much, much more to come!
Subscribe to the-walk’s newsletter!
Ko Samui, Thailand (on bike) (2015-04-28 06:51)
Just a quick update after my first week back, finally, on the road. Even though it is on a bicycle and not yet on foot.
I’m travelling along almost the same route that Anna-Maria and I walked, just in the opposite direction and it’s both wonderful and strange how much I remember. It actually sometimes gets down to the individual bushes!
Even though cycling feels much faster, it is still a bit more difficult in the heat, or rather the humidity, than I was expecting. But I remember my first few days walking in Malaysia as well and the humidity is far worse than the heat. 44 degrees in Texas is easier than 34 with close to 100 % humidity in Asia…
It’s nice to know where I’m headed and I’m revisiting some places as well. Even spent a night at the infamous hotel where we were locked in one early morning and missed our train. Apart from that, it’s a clean. cheap hotel!
I’m averaging between 50-60 km a day, not much, but much more than walking. Even at this slow pace, my arse has gotten sorer and sorer with each day. It takes a while to get used to sitting on a saddle for hours at a time.
The weather had been everything from sunny and very hot, to tropical thunderstorms. I’m glad I have my Alu-Box to keep everything dry.
Equipment-wise, it all started a little bit inauspiciously when the mini-mule tipped over after the first kilometre after hitting a small pothole, then one of the pedals cracked and finally, the rear wheel went well out of true. That was all before breakfast on the first day….
Since then everything has been running smoothly. I fixed the rear wheel, the pedal seems to be holding up as long as I pedal on the whole side, and the mini-mule just tags along nicely. I’ll report more about how the cart works after I’ve covered some more miles, so far I am very pleased.
Today, I’m enjoying a rest day on Ko Samui. I think I need a rest day if I am going to adapt quickly to longer cycling days, so I took the ferry from Chumphon and will continue to Surat Thani from here. It was the only way I could work a rest day into the route and still have a chance of getting out of Thailand before my visa expires. Still not 100 % sure I will make it, might have to end up doing a “visa run”.
Anyway, everything is great, sore backside and all, and I am sitting in the shade enjoying a mango shake, looking out over the beach as I write this!
Life is wonderful so keep walking (or cycling)…
Oh, I almost forgot! The very first newsletter went out to subscribers last week. If you haven’t signed up yet do so now so that you won’t miss the next one!
Georgetown, Malaysia (2015-05-09 03:55)
A few days ago, the-walk turned 2!
On May the 6th it was 2 years ago that I locked the front door to my rented apartment in Stockholm, dropped the keys down the mail slot and started walking south.
A lot has happened since then and I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I am doing.
After leaving Ko Samui, I was in a bit of a hurry as my Thai visa was running out. I hadn’t been managing a lot of miles every day and I was hoping to visit Terje and his family in Hat Yai before I was forced to leave the country. You remember Terje, I first met him in Spain almost 18 months ago and then again in Kuala Lumpur 6 months ago.
I arrived in Hat Yai with one day to spare and Terje, his wife and his 5-month-old son spent a day with me sightseeing around the area.
One thing we went to have a look at was a mural painted on one of the walls in the old city of Songkhla, and we were not the only ones. Apparently quite the attraction and in the short while we were there, lots of different groups and couples passed through. Even a group of cyclists stopped to have their bikes photographed in front of the wall.
All the time we were there, there was an older lady sitting quietly on a bench, enjoying the spectacle. I could not help thinking that she was enjoying her own reality show, who needs TV?
But the next day I had to get going, it was the last day of my visa and the border was 60 km away. Terje followed me part of the way and even helped me get some pictures I needed of somebody repairing a puncture. He did not get one but went through the whole procedure anyway, all the while giving me small tips, as I photographed away.
I am now in Georgetown, having a rest day to enable me to get this post done, get the last of the photos needed for the photography course finished and sent off to Sweden and service the bike.
The bike needs a service and I have already bought a new saddle and some new pedals. I really did not want to spend any money on the bike but Terje gave me some tips on good mountain roads to try in the highlands and I decided that I had to fix at least the most important issues before heading up into the mountains.
I hope the new saddle is going to suit me better than the old one, am really tired of having a sore arse!
Deciding to cycle between Hua Hin and Singapore has been a great idea. I have been having some conflicting emotions about doing it as I feel that I should be concentrating on the bigger project, the-walk. But at the same time, it is just this type of little adventure I want to make a part of my life and is one of the ways I want the-walk to influence my future life. My only concern now is that I might miss the coolest time in the Australian desert…
Some people have asked me about the differences between cycling and walking and I will try to write some sort of comparison, but I will wait until I reach Singapore and have a few more cycling miles under my belt.
That’s it for now. Remember to keep walking (ok, or cycling) and if you have not done so yet, sign up for the newsletter. The next issue probably due out when I reach Singapore!
Sepang, Malaysia (2015-05-25 05:31)
I really like Georgetown, it’s a busy, crowded place with lots to see and great food. I think the rest day (two actually) was sorely needed as well and I got some important service done on Shreck (the bike).
Georgetown is famous for the murals painted on the walls in the old city and there are a lot of them. Everything from bicycles to ballerinas and even Bruce Lee!
Then there are all the temples and other old buildings, lots to see.
Plenty of great places to eat and relax as well. As I said, I like Georgetown!
But it was soon time to move on. I need to get to Singapore and start walking if I am going to reach the Australian outback before it gets too hot to walk!
The plan was to head into the mountains and get a change of scenery. It certainly was a change and a lot more work than cycling along the coast! The route took me to Baling and then down to Gerik.
The first puncture on the bike! It is actually the second puncture I have suffered, had one on the mini-mule just after crossing into Malaysia as well. Both easily and quickly fixed, so no major hassle.
I was thinking about heading into the Cameron Highlands as well but decided not to. I really do have to make it to Singapore and start walking.
The next longer stop was Kuala Lumpur where I visited Akmal at the Bisikal. There were lots of long-distance cyclists hanging about, getting their gear serviced and picking up tips from each other and Akmal. Amongst them were Priit and Ülvi Paris, Estonians out on an around the world adventure.
I was very lucky to be able to stay with a great warm showers host, Mish. I was able to help her get her trishaw working in return. It felt good to be able to contribute something after receiving such great hospitality.
I wasn’t the only cyclist staying with Mish. A Korean couple were there organising their flight back to Korea after some bad luck. The guy had had his passport stolen and they had to shorten their cycle trip in order to go home and get a new one. I have been very fortunate so far to have been spared any such hassles and I just hope my luck continues…
As I was cycling out of Kuala Lumpur, I was stopped by David, a local cycling enthusiast. He wanted to know where I was headed and asked some questions about the trailer. But most importantly, he informed me that the Sepang F1 circuit would be open for cyclists the next morning!
When I walked past here last year I tried to get permission to have a closer look at the circuit but it was closed so I was definitely going to take the chance to have a ride around it this time. It meant having a shorter day than planned, but I found a cheap hotel, got up early and by 6 am I was at the circuit and ready to do some fast laps!
From here I am heading down towards Malaka where I intend to spend a day and then it’s on towards Singapore to finally get started on the-walk again. I am actually really looking forward to it!
Minimalist Travel Photography (2015-05-28 12:24)
The travel photography course I was busy working on with Filip in Hua Hin is now available online! http://guld.moderskeppet.se/kurser/kurs/minimalistiskt-resefoto/
Unfortunately, it is only available in Swedish and Moderskeppet is a subscription site so only a few of the videos are available for free. But have a look, you might become inspired and don’t forget that there is a whole lot of photo information online at Moderskeppet.
Cycle or walk? (2015-05-31 10:07)
I’m in Singapore and have now officially finished my first, longer cycling tour. I’ve done a lot of cycling earlier but no touring so this was a very new experience for me. A pleasant one (well, most of the time).
More than one person has asked me to compare walking to cycling and how they stack up against each other, so here goes…
You would think that they would be very similar and, although they are, there are quite a lot of differences.
The biggest one is speed. Cycling is just so much quicker! You not only cover about 3 times the distance per day, but you also arrive earlier and have more time to sightsee at your destination. If you still have the energy that is!
If I had chosen to cycle instead of walking to Sydney, then I would have been there a long time ago. In fact, that is one of the major reasons I decided to walk, I wanted it to take time.
The speed has a few effects, both positive and negative. Because you spend a lot more time travelling through the scenery while walking, you will see more and experience it in a much more elemental way. You are more a part of the landscape. Walking tends to demand, at least a little bit, less concentration and that also lets you observe the surroundings more acutely. I found that when I cycled along stretches of road that I had previously walked, I had a very good recollection of my earlier trip. I even remembered individual bushes along the way! I doubt that the same can be said about cycling, even though cycling naturally gives you a more intense experience than riding a train or bus.
One of the positives with the extra speed is that it is much easier to decide to take small side excursions and do some extra sightseeing. A 2 or 3 km side trip when you are walking takes an extra hour, but on the bike, it feels like it just takes a few minutes. It makes side trips much more appealing.
Unless you need to cover large distances every day, you also tend to arrive at your destination earlier and have more time to explore the surroundings. On top of that, you have the bike to help you get around, that store that is just a little bit too far to walk to is now suddenly within easy cycling reach.
Baggage is also very similar, especially if you walk with a cart. I cycled with a Burley Travoy trailer and had no problems at all. It gets heavy on the uphills if you pack too much stuff, but so does pushing a heavy cart while walking. One really big plus for the bike is the downhills! Where walking with a cart can be hard work, especially on steep downhills, cycling downhill is great. You get back all the effort you put into pedalling up!
In the same way that you need to get used to walking long distances in the shoes (or flip-flops) that you are going to use, you also need to get used to sitting on a bike for hours at a time. I had great problems during the first 2 weeks and ended up having to buy a new saddle to get my backside to stop complaining too much. Make sure you have a saddle that suits you and you have some time using it before you set off.
Another problem area was my wrists and elbows. Not at all used to supporting my upper body for a whole day, I developed aches and pains that had me shifting around, trying to find a comfortable position. Nothing that would stop your tour, but it would have been a lot more comfortable if I had a bike and seating position I was used to. You can solve these problems in 2 different ways. Either you have the equipment you are used to and spend time on before your tour or you start out slow and adapt as you go. Both methods work but adapting on the go takes more time and is therefore better suited to a longer trip.
The cycling community is huge as well. I have not met many walkers but long-distance cyclists abound and there are groups and people that are more than willing to help out a cyclist. Warm Showers is just one example and there are plenty of Guest Houses and hostels that offer special deals to cyclists. I’m staying at one right now in Singapore, The Tree In Lodge, a great little place that offers a 50 % discount to long-distance cyclists!
I have really enjoyed cycling and am glad that I decided to have a little bit of an extra adventure and not just take the train from Hua Hin. In fact, I am sure that I will be doing some more cycling in Asia when I have finished the-walk, after all, I have to do something and just hopping on a plane back to Europe feels a bit lame.
There are already advanced plans to pick up a new bike in Kuala Lumpur in March or April next year.
All that said, I am glad to be walking again, or I will be as soon as I get going from Singapore. Really looking forward to it. Indonesia next!
Singapore (2015-06-02 12:11)
The trip down from Sepang to Singapore was relatively easy and did not offer any surprises. I kept more or less to the same route that I walked last year, I was really more interested in finally getting to Singapore and being able to continue the-walk for real.
But I stopped for a day in Melaka, I like Melaka and it is always fun to get out on the streets and take a few photos there.
Just outside of Melaka I had my third, and thankfully the last puncture. I have had a total of one on the trailer and 2 on the rear wheel of the bike. Easy to fix and no real problem but pumping up the tire in the heat made the sweat run in streams off my body. Hot work!
Schreck making friends while I hide from a tropical downpour.
I finally made it to Singapore and made my way to the Tree In Lodge, a place recommended to me by several different long-distance cyclists and I have to say it was a good recommendation. Great place!
That’s the crew outside the Lodge with Shreck. Schrek has found a new home here, I am donating it to the guest house and I am sure it is going to have it great here where everybody loves bikes!
Singapore is full of a mix of the old and the new, with extreme architecture and old cultural buildings existing side by side. Most of it is pretty new though and there seems to be constant construction going on everywhere.
One thing I managed to cross off “the traveller’s bucket list”, is to have a Singapore sling at Raffles. Singapore is expensive and Raffles is not the cheapest place in Singapore, but at least now it is done!
I was lucky that there was a free concert at the Botanical Gardens on the weekend. The Singapore Symphony Orchestra performed and it was a nice outing. Lots of people picnicked on the grass and relaxed with a glass of their favourite refreshment.
Tomorrow morning, Wednesday, I start my journey with the ferry towards Jakarta and then finally, finally, it will be time to get some real walking done again. Feels like it’s been ages since I did some proper walking and I am looking forward to it at the same time that I wonder how it is going to be in the extreme humidity.
I changed some money today in preparation for Indonesia and have for the first time become a multi-millionaire! Three hundred Singapore dollars converted to 2,4 million Indonesian Rupiah. Hopefully, they should last a little while at least, can’t be as expensive as here in Singapore.
So that’s it, I’m going to have dinner with 2 English cyclists who just arrived. They have been cycling from Bejing and I want to pick their brains about what route they chose and how it was. All in preparation for next year, after the-walk…
After that, it will be time to hit the sack and prepare for what will hopefully be some serious walking in the coming months!
Pemalang, Indonesia (2015-06-16 08:58)
The-walk has finally reached the southern hemisphere!
I took a ferry from Singapore to Bantam and then another to Jakarta. It was a very “local” ferry and amongst all the passengers there were only 4 westerners. We naturally soon started talking and they turned out to be David and Elena from Germany and Mattia from Italy. And guess what, it turns out that Mattia is a long-distance walker. He started a bit more than 1 year ago from Italy and intends to walk around the world!
It was great to meet another walker and the first one that was going the same way. We are both heading through Indonesia towards Bali and it looks like we will be able to walk together for a while.
The accommodation was very basic, but then the trip was very cheap, so what can you expect.
To my surprise, meals were included. They were basic, mainly rice and you had to go pick up your meal before they ran out, but it was food. I half expected to spend the 30 hours on the ferry surviving on raisins and water so for me it was a big bonus.
Mattia (check out his site here) has a lot more gear than me, and his chariot cart is well loaded.
We managed to convince Elena and David to walk the 14 km from the port to central Jakarta with us and strapped their backpacks onto our carts and set off.
I think David was a bit impressed by the mini-mule and took charge of it for part of the journey.
We stopped close to halfway and had a brilliant breakfast. The best noodles I have had so far in Asia!
The traffic was incredibly intense. People and vehicles everywhere. Noisy and dirty. Reminded me very much of my first visit to Bangkok in 1988. It was a lot noisier and dirtier back then than it is now…
We spent a day walking around, organising prepaid sim cards and then finally going out to celebrate my birthday. Not much to celebrate anymore, but it was nice with good food and great company.
The next day Mattia and I set off on our walk to Bali and even though I had been warned about the traffic and congestion on Java, it was worse than I ever expected. Mattia said it was like India, just a little bit cleaner. Don’t know if I want to go to India after hearing that…
The one thing that makes a trip to Java worthwhile is the people. Everybody is friendly and smiling. They try to be helpful, even though a lot of them speak very limited English, if at all.
“Hej, Mister, where you from?” is constantly being called in your direction as you walk through the streets.
And it is mainly streets, so far the countryside has been very much missing. I hope it will get a little bit greener as we move east and get closer to Bali.
Mattia had a puncture but discovered it while we were still in our hotel room. It is much easier to fix in the air-conditioned comfort of a hotel room rather than out in the burning sun.
The days have been hot and humid, ranging from 30 to 32 degrees celsius and with very high humidity. You need to drink lots of fluids to keep going and thankfully there are plenty of places to stop and buy cold water or drinks.
Today (the 16 June) is our first rest day and it is welcome. After 9 days of walking, the mileage adds up and you start to feel it, not only in the feet but also as accumulated fatigue in your leg muscles. My long rest from walking is making itself felt and I will probably need a few weeks to get up to speed again. That said, we are still almost averaging just under 40 km a day so we aren’t taking it too slowly.
I have already booked my flight to Darwin from Bali and will be arriving in Australia on the 30th of July. Something I am really looking forward to!
But I have to cross Java and reach Bali first, so I need to keep walking!
Rembang, Indonesia (2015-06-24 15:39)
Mattia and I have reached Rembang, which means that we are now almost exactly halfway between Jakarta and Kuta Beach in Bali. Our pace has slowed considerably as we don’t need to reach Kuta before the 15th of July. Even then, I will have 2 weeks to spend there before my flight leaves for Darwin. Looking forward to exploring Bali even though I also need to spend at least a week in front of the computer doing some work that should really have been done several months ago…
Yesterday we were stopped by a reporter for the local paper and she spent some time asking us about our journeys. Then, today, we were stopped by a couple of truck drivers who wanted to show us a story in the paper!
Can’t say that we were able to check if everything was correct though, my Indonesian is still terrible.
Not really all that much more to tell at the moment. The traffic is still terrible even though the scenery has gotten a little bit more green. I hope it will get even more so as we move even closer to Bali.
I have not been inspired to take a lot of photographs but earlier today we walked past a shipyard where they were building large wooden fishing (my guess) ships.
We were welcome to look around and it was very interesting. Old fashioned craft and very much manual labour.
I’ll leave you with some pictures from the shipyard as I continue walking east, towards Bali.
Pulukan, Bali Indonesia (2015-07-12 16:02)
Java is done and we have reached Bali. Feels really great! For several reasons…
One is that I did not enjoy Java anywhere as much as I expected. It was great to be walking again and slowly making my way towards Sydney, but even though I had been warned about the traffic and crowds on Java, it was worse than I expected… The one saving grace is how happy and welcoming the people are. No matter where we went, we were always greeted with a smile and a never-ending curiosity.
The road we choose (and I do realise that other roads would potentially have shown Java in a much more positive light) was busy, noisy and at times rather dirty. Most of the places we stayed in were good value for what we had to pay, but we did manage to find a few dumps as well. When you are walking it is sometimes not possible to be too choosy, after walking 50 km there is no way you are interested in walking just another 10-15 km to see if the next hotel might be better!
As in many other Asian countries, it was very disheartening to see all the rubbish just dumped along the roadside. That there were goats foraging amongst it for food did not make it any easier…
Nevertheless, everything has not been bad, far from it! Indonesia is the first country where I have seen a road sign forbidding hand-drawn carts to enter a section of the road. I have seen signs forbidding pedestrians, cyclists or even mopeds, but this was the first hand-cart sign!
At one lunch stop, I even managed to find a motorcycle that I had never heard of before, a Nirwana. 4 cylinders, transverse 90 degree v4 with shaft drive. Sort of an oversized Moto Guzzi.
There was a lot of harvesting going on as we walked through the landscape and what was very interesting was how much of the harvest (in fact of anything that needed to be transported) was moved by bicycle. We were continually passed by bicycles loaded to ridiculous extremes with crops.
Java also turned out to be the first time I had to camp out in Asia. Up until now, I had always been able to find some cheap accommodation along the road, but as we walked through a state forest in the northeast of Java, we realised that we were not going to make it to the closest town. Not a problem as we both had camping equipment with us and at least I felt that it would be great to use at least some of it after having carried it through most of south-east Asia.
I decided to try to sleep in my hammock, the first time I tried to sleep in it for a full night rather than just having a few hours rest. As we had not had any rain at all in the whole month we have been walking, I was not too worried about not having a roof. But I really, truly, hate mosquitoes and there was no way I was going to sleep in the open. It wasn’t too hard to McGiever my mozzie net to work with the hammock and I spent a comfortable night enjoying the breeze through the trees and watching the stars above. It was more comfortable than I expected even though I move around a lot when I sleep, which was much harder in the hammock and did cause me some concerns. Someone who lies still a bit more than me will probably be even more comfortable. I will not pass judgement just yet, I think I need to spend a few more nights in the hammock to discover if it really is something for me. I have to say though, that I had no pains or aches the next day and felt rested.
When we reached the ferry to Bali, we were able to see the volcano that is erupting for the first time. We hadn’t heard a lot about it and were surprised to find volcanic ash almost everywhere we went. Mt Raung is still venting ash I write this and the airport in Bali has been closed, then opened and then closed again. I hope it settles down before the end of the month so I don’t miss my flight to Darwin!
Mattia is even more concerned as his girlfriend is meant to be flying to Bali to meet him, he is checking the updates continually…
We are now only 3 days from Kuta Beach, 3 days of easy walking. I’m looking forward to some non-walking days in Kuta to do some swimming, organising and planning before I tackle the outback of Australia. Even though I am really looking forward to it, I am also very much aware that it will be the most arduous and secluded part of the-walk.
It will mark the start of some very serious walking!
Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia (2015-07-26 09:54)
Sorry about the audio quality…