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30 December 2012 – A good day to get married. 31 January, 2013

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Got married for the second time in a year’s time, but this time in the church! We got married first in a civil ceremony in Bergen, Norway 27th July 2012 and had our church wedding at San Agustin Church in Manila, Philippines on 30th December 2012. It was attended by family and friends from all over the world – Canada, US, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and of course Norway! We had our reception at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel after the ceremony.

Bohol, Philippines ! 9 February, 2012

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Went to Bohol for a short holiday from my holiday. =)
Can’t get enough!

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My bro got hitched! 15 Jan 2012. 9 February, 2012

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Rachel visits me in Bergen :) 6 November, 2011

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A year and no post? I’d like to say that my girlfriend got me busy but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Work happened… it’s a tough life. ;P

I didn’t really find anything worthy to blog about, until my girl visited me in Bergen this October. Suffice to say we had an excellent time together albeit only for a few weeks until she have to head home.

See you soon!

Flying half the world 23 October, 2010

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Second holiday trip for 2010 is the journey back to Manila for a 2 weeks holiday (plus some bit of work…).

iPhone charged.  Macbook charged.  Plastic bag of toiletries packed.  Suitcase by the door.  Passport and Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in the hand carry.

Yep – now it’s time to sleep and start the holiday!  =)

Rigmor & Kjetils 100 års dag 10 October, 2010

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Rigmor and Kjetil celebrates their 100 years birthday together this year and we had a blast partying last night, 9th October 2010, at the Sommerhagen, Kilden Senter.

Made this video which is a trip down memory lane for the celebrants. I had fun poring over hundreds of pictures and getting to know my adopted Norwegian family better from the old pictures. But i think the highlight (and what turned out to surprise me as well) was how I just found (what seems like) the perfect soundtracks for the pictures.

And due to popular demand, I’m putting it out into the world wide web! Along with other parts of the evening’s program.

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31 August, 2010

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Top of the world 12 August, 2010

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It’s not really the top of the world, but it sure hell felt like it.

This is Hardangervidda which is a plateau at 1.100 m over sea level.  Passed by this fantastic environment going to Geilo for the cabin trip.  The plateau has all you can ask on nature, nearly anyway.  Glaciers, mountain lakes and wildlife.  I’d definitely want to camp out around this place… perhaps an idea for a trip in fall.

But in the meantime, let’s focus on more cabin trips for some soft-core outdoor adventures.  Heading up to the mountains again this weekend!

Summer Limbo 4 August, 2010

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So – I have decided that having an early summer holiday has 1 disadvantage…  you tend to lose focus when you’re back at work and you envy all your colleagues being out on holiday while you’re stuck in the office.  And you find yourself occasionally day-dreaming amidst your pile of documents and 2 computer monitors…

1 more summer month to go…

Since I am saving up the rest of my holidays for another big trip in autumn, it’s just gonna be weekend trips to the mountains for now.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  In fact, I’ve been wanting to go up to the cottage again since I was last there in winter.  The summer landscape would offer a totally different environment.  Of course with the current weather forecast, you might end up just as wet as in the winter anyway.

Cheerio!

Turkey Summer 2010 19 July, 2010

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A long blog follows the 7 minute video if you still have the patience to go through it… but the video basically sums it all.

After weeks of research and preparation, I embarked on my 2-week backpacking trip around Turkey armed with a few useful Turkish phrases like Merhaba (hi), Cok Guzelzim (very beautiful), Askin (my love) and Tessekur Ederim (thank you).  Flew out on 19th June and came back 4th July… I’d say barely enough time to spend in an amazing country like Turkey.

Highlights of the trip were of course meeting and spending time with all the people I met through couchsurfing at Izmir, the people I sat with on the long bus rides, the extended family and friends I met at Kayseri, the people I met at the hostels and bars, and my old & new friends at Istanbul!  Turkish people are one of the most nicest and hospitable persons I have met.  I often found myself lost in translation however, so arm gestures and simple english words often does the trick.  If all else fails, then we just turn to the tv at 5pm and 9pm for the World Cup.

Weather was wonderful as well in June and I was lucky to just miss the warm temps a few days before my arrival.  Overall we had about 25 to 29 degrees and 2 days of rain which were a welcome respite from the heat.  But that still didn’t prevent me from turning down the hotel air conditioning to 18 degrees the second I entered my room in Istanbul.

The food in Turkey were amazing (another highlight).  And the best part is that… they are all cheap!  At least at Norwegian standards.  The quantity of salads and tomatoes I had in 2 weeks was probably equal to my regular 1 year consumption of the same.  Kabaps, shish kebaps and doners were the daily menu for most of my trip.  But the must try was the Testi Kebap (kebap cooked in a sealed pot).  I still find myself dreaming about that weeks after…  Baclava got a bit too sweet for my taste but other dessert stuff were great.  I had at least a cup Turkish tea (with two scoops of sugar) almost every after meal (didn’t think I was a tea person until then).

Istanbul – 20 June

My trip started in Istanbul where I did a full day sightseeing on the old city Sultanahmet where we find the Aya Sofia (church turned mosque turned museum), the amazing and peaceful Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace.  Walking around these places brought me to a high and I remembered the reason why I started traveling.  At the end of the day, I had to down some headache tablets after hours of tilting my head up to admire the paintings, mosaics and tiles on the ceilings.

Izmir – 22 June

Izmir was next in my itenerary.  Where tourists normally fly to the airport and get out of the city as soon as they arrive, I decided to stay 2 days with my couchsurfing host Fatih.  A very good decision as I was able to experience the city as a local and with special thanks to my private tour guide.  It was great having Fatih around who toured me around Izmir, went up to the hill with great views and the Mevlava (and whirling dervishes) statue.  I was also introduced to this amazing food which is basically mussels with cooked / salty rice inside (tasted something like paella).  We met Okan, a friend of Fatih’s, who has an awesome flat in a condo in what looked like a newly developed and poshy area of Izmir.  After some drinks by the waterfront, we headed up to Okan’s place for more drinks and to catch some sleep.  The next day we did more walking and just chilling in the day and later that night I found myself relaxing with a nargile (water pipe) and studying the complicated art of backgammon… until the rain came.

Selcuk and Ephesus – 24 June

After figuring out how the dolmus (mini bus) worked and searching for the station (useful word ‘Tamam tamam’ – ok ok) I reached Selcuk and Ephesus (where St. John and Mary was said to have spent their last years).  The Ephesus ruins were the biggest roman ruins out of Italy and quite amazing with how some structures and facades were preserved through time.  I stayed in a hostel called Attila’s Getaway, which was ran by a cool Aussie Turk.  The hostel was full of Canadians and Australians who made the oasis a party place.  Also took the opportunity to get a massage from one of the aussie’s working there (another highlight of the trip).   And did I mention that a pint of beer costs 2-3 liras in Turkey (that’s freaking 15 kroners!)  If anything, that just made the Efes beer taste even better!

Pamukkale and Fethiye – 26 June

The next day I reached Pamukkale (‘cotton castle’) after a 4 hour bus ride.  Here we find natural wonders of springs and travertines.  The white cascades shine out from afar and only looked more amazing as we near the site.  These white stuff are basically calcium deposits from the stream that seaps out of the earth.  There is also an ancient ruined city of the Heiropolis on top of the site.  Interesting to see and admire the carvings and sculptures, but quite frankly I think I’ve had enough of ruined cities and tombs at this point.

I had to take another 3 hour bus ride in the afternoon from Denizli to Fethiye to get to my next destination… the southern coast which meant it’s beach time!  I booked myself on a full day boat cruise for the next day which took us to 12 different islands with a few stops to jump out of the boat.  At that point I was feeling amazed at myself for swimming in the Aegean Sea… The boat wasn’t that full but had quite a crowd of English people… and I was surprised to see an English couple trying to get my attention.  It turned out that we stayed in the same hotel at Istanbul.  Small world…

I also met a couple from Toronto who convinced (or tricked) me to try out paragliding at Oludeniz!  Went back to the hostel and booked my paragliding for the next day.  After an hour or so in my room, I began realizing what I have actually done, like ‘what the hell was I thinking’.  My mind though was kept from going crazy by Rachelle, a nice Canadian girl I met in the hostel, who’s studying medicine in Istanbul.  We went out to the local fish market where we got our fresh fish and had it cooked while we wait for dinner.  That was pretty much the only seafood experience I had in Turkey… and was pretty much one of the highlights as well!

Oludeniz – 28 June

The next day was D-Day for paragliding.  We drove for an hour or so up to the highest peak by the pristine beach of Oludeniz.  I’ve always thought that jumping out in thin air above 5 meters from the ground is something I would never do in this lifetime.  But I just went with it as I normally do (think ‘it’s too late to back down now’).  The night before I did call my office to check on insurance coverages and sent text messages to my family… (so at least they now the crazy stuff I was about to do).  We were climbing up the mountain for maybe about 2000 meters where we reach the jump off point.  I was impressed by the jump off facilities which is pretty much a flat paved road that slides down on the face of the mountain.  What also impressed me was how high and windy and beautiful the sea was.  There were quite a crowd of jumpers and straight out in the air you could see chutes of different colors floating around.  We waited a bit for a proper wind and ran off to the cliff without any thought… and suddenly I found myself up in the air.  The jump off and the 20 minutes after that were just a great feeling.  I had a grand time admiring the views which were pretty much mountains, beaches and the sea.  If I could do this everyday I would (ok, not everyday but you get the point).  Near the end of the flight, we did a few sommersaults which felt like falling quite fast and approaching the beach even faster.  I was just relieved that the landing was pretty smooth that I just needed to stand up and walk a few meters…

Goreme (Cappadocia region) – 29 June

13 hours on the bus to Goreme which dropped me off in the middle of the small town at 5am.  I had only a few hours of broken sleep despite the bus being quite good in bus standards.  Turkey invests more in buses than trains for the long travel time over land.  Leg room was excellent and there was a tv in every seat (we watched a World Cup game).  I had a chance to get to know my seatmate Erdem who’s on his way home to Konya (was supposed to stop here but decided to go skip it anyway).  Finally, I found myself in the middle of the town of Goreme before the break of dawn. I had to take a few minutes to reorient myself.  I probably needed more but the desire to get to a bed and a shower forced me to find my hostel as soon as possible.  The good thing is that the town is so small I found my hostel in 3 minutes (thanks to my iPhone’s googlemap).

After 3 hours of ‘decent’ sleep I realized that I was sleeping in a huge dorm cut out of the cave.  It was quite a huge cave which is probably good for 20 people… only thing was that I was the only occupant that night (and the next night).  I tried to convince the receptionist to put me up in a single room instead but to no avail…

After a nice cold shower (freezing actually – 18 degrees in the cave and the hot water cannot really be described as hot), I ventured out to discover the rocky and moon-like terrain of Cappadocia.  The region is basically dotted by caves where earlier people lived.  The landscape of volcanic rock was cut by time and erosion to make out an amazing scenery in the horizon.  Equally impressive were the paintings and fresco’s preserved in the caves used as early churches.

Kayseri – 30 June

I was supposed to stay another day at Goreme but decided to go to Kayseri earlier to meet up with my cousin and her family.  I ended up staying 3 days there which was excellent as I got to spend time with them and the new baby ‘Z’.  We became playmates and bestfriends after the trip I think…  Anyway, I decided to go earlier as they were preparing to do an ‘adak’ which meant sacrificing a goat as a blessing.  Muslims normally do this after Ramadan and also on different celebrations.  Turan (my cousin’s husband) caught a goat named Kadir (probably shouldn’t have named it) and we watched the goat get slaughtered… I was too busy in awe to feel or think anything else.  After catching the last moments of Kadir’s life on video and finally getting butchered, the food was prepared for dinner which turned out amazingly good.  The Adiguzels are great cooks I say!

We hanged out quite a bit with Turan’s family who unfortunately didn’t speak much english… solution – hand gestures, smiling, simple words in english and my turkish vocabulary consisting of a handful of words.  Again, when all else fails, we just enjoy the World Cup on tv.  Thank God for the World Cup which became the most talked about topic if language (or the lack of it) restricted us from communicating.  We could instead debate on which teams would reach the finals – Germany (thumbs up!)  Spain (thumbs up / down) (we were still in the semis at this time) and whether the goal was offside or not!  I learned then that most of the Turkish population are crazy with football and these guys I was with support a big team in Istanbul, Galatasaray.  For some reason however, I ended up favoring Fenerbahce (another team from Istanbul) because of Fatih’s influence from Izmir.

Apart from touring around Kayseri (which was a huge city contrary to a provincial sort in my mind before) which has quite a modern touch with a new metro and huge highway, we also went out back to Cappadocia region again to visit Turan’s old friends.  I also took the opportunity to get in to one of the underground caves where people used to live.  These caves are not ‘just caves’.  The cave I was at was at least up to 7 levels down.  Most of the tunnels entailed me crutching down to go through.

Istanbul – 2 July

I got back to Istanbul via flying Pegasus – a cheap airline with quite decent planes.  The security and safety routine was also quite interesting and funny – although I did question it for child labor in my mind.  It was a video presentation using toddlers… even the captain on the video was a kid… I do hope that was just meant as a joke.

Anyway, was back in Istanbul where I will spend some days with my friend back from my BIMCO seminar in Copenhagen in 2006.  I had some hours to spare before I meet Turhan so I took the chance to look for a Kentucky Friend Chicken resto (I always try to get some KFC abroad as I am just deprived of it in Norway).  Unfortunately didn’t find one at busy Taksim so I just went to some other place which could have been KFC’s brother…  The rest of the afternoon I spent roaming around Sultanahmet, putting more weight in my backpack by getting some Turkish table cloths and souvenirs, getting a fish sandwich under the Galata Bridge by the Bosphorus.  Late afternoon I decided to go to a nearby mosque by the Bosphorus and ended up joining the service.  I thought that was quite an interesting and peaceful experience just sitting at the back and listening to chants that didn’t really mean anything to me… but somehow seemed beautiful… This trip has so far given me so much more to understand Islam and muslim culture.

My friend brought me to the Beverly Hills side of Istanbul where expensive boutiques and everything that comes along with it are located.  Here I spent my few remaining Liras on discounted stuff.  I probably shouldn’t have spent them all as I ended up not having enough money to spend that night.  After a day of visiting my friend’s workplace and visiting a shipyard (where I was reminded that I work in a shipping environment), we ended the night by visiting a really posh club called Reina for a very nice and tasty (read ‘expensive’) turkish dinner.  The resto later on turned into a nightclub where I was surrounded by the nicest people (physically anyway) people of Istanbul.  Where the hell were they hiding during day time??

We didn’t exactly end the night as I had a 6am flight the next day.  So we decided to party til late and drove straight to the airport at around 3am.  Managed to get an hour and a half’s sleep at the airport parking area before heading in to check in only to be met by a long queue of passengers…  Shortly later I realized that there was a much shorter queue of just 1 passenger on another line which read ‘baggage drop only’.  Lucky me, I had the right mind to check in for my flight online.  I felt smug strutting down past the long queue of bad planners thinking ‘haha suckers!’

Had a few hours to relax and got myself bored at Schipol before finally reaching home and straight to bed in the middle of the afternoon.  After 2 weeks of sleeping in a hotel, hostels, buses and couchsurfing you could just imagine how nice it was to finally land in your own bed.  The backpacking trip was totally amazing – experienced a whole deal of culture (would go as far as referring to it as an immersion), adrenalin, discovery and awakening.  Geez… I need another holiday.

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