Norwegian Art

As promised, I’ve eventually put together a couple of pages showing the street art I found during my recent trip to Norway, they are just a couple of clicks away.

[Arctic Art]  –  [Urban Art in Bergen]

I have been informed that some people are finding it difficult to navigate through my website, so over the coming weeks, I’m going to redesign it to make things easier. I would welcome your comments and thoughts on what improvements you would like to see.

I would also like to update the Glasgow Street Art section of the site to make it more prominent, again I would welcome your thoughts.

North Norway – Completed

Since Jim & I returned from Norway, I have been busy volunteering at the LEN European Short Course Championships at Tollcross so I haven’t been able to devote much time to the blog, now that it’s over I have eventually worked my way through the many photographs we took during our time there.  Rather than starting a new page, I have appended them to the page for the first half of the voyage, the completed page can be seen here.

I took many photographs of the Northern Lights and the street art I found whilst we were away, I will add further pages at a later date.

Our Nordic Adventure

Many of you will know that my mate, Jim Lewars, and I have been on a Nordic Adventure cruising up the Norwegian coast on one of Hurtigruten’s postal boats, the MV Finnmarken.  This is a 12-day voyage along the Norwegian coast, spending 6 days travelling North, reaching Kirkenes before turning South for the return voyage to Bergen.

I have completed the journal, with photographs for the first stage of the trip, which can be seen here, the journal will be added to on completion of the return leg.

Journey Finished

For those who like to follow my travels and those who travelled with me recently in Southeast Asia, I have now completed my journal for my time there.  I have tried to remember everything we did during our time together and I have included many photographs, I’m sure I missed out many things and memories and I’m willing to add anything that my fellow travellers remind me of.

You can read all about our travels here.

As usual, during my trip I also took some street art photographs, I will add them to a separate page at a later date.

 

Homeward Bound

Well, that’s me at the end of my trip to South East Asia, I’m currently in Bangkok airport waiting to board my flight home. I think the city wanted to say goodbye to me in a fitting manner, I drove to the airport during a massive thunderstorm and torrential rain.

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I’m sure I’ve said it before, but I’ve enjoyed myself immensely, more than I thought I would, however, it’s time to come home and spend a bit of time recharging my batteries before my next trip.

While I’m at home, I will update my site with all my stories and photographs of the trip, there have been many requests from my fellow travellers to see it, and too bring back so many memories.  During the last couple of days wandering the city, I did manage to find some street art, these are just off the top of the pile, there are much better pieces to follow.

Leaving Cambodia

I last posted when I arrived in Siem Reap, this final post from Cambodia is also coming from Siem Reap, as this is where I get my bus back to Bangkok tomorrow morning.  Since my last post, I’ve visited many places, we left Siem Reap for Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, I didn’t think much of the city, too busy and very messy, I did a 16 km trek searching for some non-existent street art, which gave me a new set of blisters!

Before leaving Phnom Penh, we visited the infamous Khmer Rouge prison, S21 and the nearby Killing Fields, which seemed strange to find it in a peaceful lakeside location, both of them were very sobering visits and gave me an insight into the terrible events of the Khmer Rouge regime. This certainly was a different part of Cambodian history that should be remembered and never repeated.

We then made our way South to Kampot, a sleepy little riverside town, we arrived in time to board a riverboat for a sunset cruise,  as usual we didn’t get to see a sunset but the cruise was very nice and relaxing.  Fortunately the next day was a free day, which gave me the chance to have a bit of a lie in before a leisurely breakfast.  Kampot is not too large, I wandered about to see what sights it had to offer. I eventually found some paint on walls in the town, most of it pretty basic , but there was a couple of really good pieces.Our final visit in the Kampot area was to the Kep Gardens on the outskirts of Kampot,  this was a great visit, it was to a community education project, set up and run by an elderly Australian couple, we were shown round by Janiine and we then spent the next few hours teaching English to 6 and 7 year old kids, it really was great fun, I don’t know who enjoyed it most, the kids or us, I was blown away by how clever some of the kids were and how well they responded to us.

Following our visit to Kampot, we returned Phnom Penh, as we had a bit of a late night, there were a few sore heads first thing, mine included, I had a wee wander around the area in the afternoon as I didn’t really like the city much, my second visit didn’t change my mind.  As I was leaving the group in the morning,  we all gathered for our final dinner together,  we chose Friends the Restaurant, a collective project restaurant where all the profits are returned to the community, it was a nice way to finish off our trip together.

As I said, I did however discover little pockets of good street art, only one or two in each place, but it was good to see that some are trying, despite the local government crackdown.

I was picked up in the morning and taken to the bus station, where Tra Tra and I boarded our Mekong Express Limousine coach to Siem Reap,  my final destination in Cambodia.  I’ve enjoyed my time here, it’s a country full of happy friendly people, despite the visible poverty, the only time we felt threatened was in Phnom Penh as we had been told there were bag snatchers about.  The countryside and history is fascinating, it really good to spend some time amongst the villagers and normal expletive not jus the ones in the tourist pots.

Welcome to Cambodia

We said goodbye to Laos, by getting back on a boa to the mainland then taking a relatively short bus run to the border post to leave Laos,  we all then trudged across no-mans-land to the Cambodian version to pass through immigration.  A new bus then took us to a border town where we had a brunch before the long bus run to Siem Reap.

On arrival, we checked into our hotel, the Lub.d, which is by far the best hotel on our trip, the rooms are very modern and well fitted, a great shower all with a swimming pool and bar facilities. That night La took us to Pub Street, a sort of mini Kaosan Road, where we had dinner in a nice restaurant with live music played by local musicians, we managed to convince Adam, one of our group,  to join them in a rendition of Oasis’s Wonderwall, it was great fun.  We then tried out a few other bars but they were too noisy for many of us so we retuned to the hotel to finish off the night and to bid farewell to Oggy who was returning home the next day.

The following morning, we went to Angkor Wat, it really is a special place, we toured two of the temples, guided by Marri, a local guide who was very knowledgable about the temples and their surroundings.  We had lunch before being taken to Angkor Wat itself, again it was a place that gave you good vibes, we went for a Buddhist Blessing, which really enlightened us.

We finished off the day by visiting a Cambodian community circus, it was really more of an acrobatic performance but it was very good and entertaining

The next morning we met Tra Tra,  our new Cambodian Guide, and we boarded to bus to take us to Battenberg for our Homestay. We travelled to the city, and had lunch before visiting the local fish market and whiskey distillers and, possibly the strangest visit of all, was to a stall selling barbequed rat, snake and stingray amongst the delicacies on offer.

We then went to the village where we were to spend the night, after meeting our hosts, we took a stroll around the village,  again the locals were very friendly and welcoming, especially the children.  As it was nearly night time, we ventured out to one of the paddy fields to see the sunset before returning to the house for a lesson on how to make spring rolls and our evening meal.  Our bed for the night was in the long house upstairs, and it was a little strange at first until everyone settled down. The cockerels of the village made sure we didn’t stay in bed too long, so we had a reasonably early start back to Siem Reap, stopping again in Battenberg to visit the market, I even managed to take a photograph of a nice Chinese mural.   We then had a great time on the bamboo railway,  this was great fun, the trucks were essentially little bamboo pallets on wheels with a little petrol engine driving the wheels by a vee belt and a stick.  We then returned to Siem Reap, where we had a free day ahead and time to recharge my batteries.

Been there – Don Det

I last posted while in Vien Vieng, and I heard that as the Mekong was running low and slow, the tubing trip down it would be a little boring, I therefore decided to give it a miss.  Instead, I climbed a hill, which felt like a mountain and endured a massive thunderstorm at the top, making the descent difficult to say the least. Continuing South, I then visited Vietviane, the capitol of Laos which is pretty much like any large city, we went to visit the Great Sacred Stupa (Pa That Luang), a large gold covered Buddhist monument in the centre of the city, built in 1560, which is regarded as the most important national monument in Laos, we then visited Patuxai, Lao’s answer to Paris’s L’Arc de Triumph before checking in to the hotel. What stood out for me there, was the Discovery Laos meal I had, it was a true taste of Lao food according our guide, Khamla (La).

 

I then went from the large city to stay in a  village of 500 families in Kong Lor, staying in small traditional built bungalows, while there, I took a boat trip through a 7 km  river in a cave under another mountain, after our return through the mountain it was great to swim in the pool at the base of the cliffs, the setting was like something out of a movie set. Unfortunately Oggy cut his foot on the rocks at the pool and had to visit the medical centre in the village.

 

After another long day travelling over pretty poor roads to Savannakhet, a new stop on the Stray route, we arrived there and our first stop after checking in to the hotel, was to take Oggy to the local hospital,  the cut on his foot wasn’t healing so he ended up with a few stiches, a tetanus jab and some antibiotics,  I doubt I will ever complain about the NHS again, however the level of care and attention he received was excellent and could not be faulted, but the facilities were dreadful.

 

After dinner we all went down to the riverfront to see the End of Lent festival, as it was a bigger city, the crowds were massive and we found it difficult to move through them, we eventually gave up and returned to the hotel, getting back was great fun,  we all managed to get onto one tuk-tuk,  15 of us, including the driver, speeding through the night to the delight of the locals who saw us.

The next morning we took a long drive to Pakse, we stopped for lunch then booked into the hotel,  before heading to the stunning Tad Ngeuang waterfall, another place of beauty with a nice pool to swim in. We then headed into the Bolaven Plateau, where Laos’ main export of coffee is grown, the landscape was very different to the other areas we had visited.

We then returned  to Pakse and our hotel for a quick freshing up before going out for dinner, we all then went to a rooftop bar for views of the city at the end of the day.

A fairy early start this morning, for a fairly short drive to the port for the boat trip to Don Set, one of the islands in the area know as 4000 islands.

We checked into the Le Petit guesthouse and had a look at the village before having lunch. 

In the afternoon six of us, Cairan and Emma, Simon, Shane, Carl and I decided to go on a kayaking trip down the Mekong. It was great fun, especially shooting the rapid sections and trying to avoid the many bushes blocking our way.  There were also few mishaps along the way, a couple of capsizes, but we all got home safely if not a wee bit wet. We all agreed that this was one of the highlights of our trip so far, in addition to the kayaking, we took a boat trip to an area where we saw some rare Irawdy dolphins,  visited a nice waterfall and had a 45 minute bumpy tuk-tuk trip back to the village. 

A quick shower and a wee rest set me up for the evening, where we all had dinner and a few drinks as we said farewell to the 7 hopping off to spend more time on the islands on what was our last night in Laos.

Into Laos

I’ve had a great few days here in Laos, it really is a beautiful country and the people are so friendly. Since leaving Chiang Mai, I have visited the strange but beautiful white temple, crossed the border into Laos, taken a 2-day slow boat voyage down the Mekong River, visited and stayed in Ban Thanoune, a traditional Lao village, we were greeted by the village elders, who performed a welcoming ceremony with chants and songs,  all of the elders then tied a cotton cord around our wrists and gave us gifts and a couple of shots of their homemade spirit, typical firewater to say the least! We then spent the night sleeping in a villagers rather spartan home, which was very interesting and something to remember.

We then continued South to Luang Prabang where we stayed for 2 days, which gave me the chance to visit an organic farm where they taught us how to cultivate and use traditional ‘sticky rice’, it was great fun messing around in the paddy fields. We then visited the spectacular Kuang Si waterfall to have a swim in the beautiful blue lakes and to visit the bear rescue sanctuary in the park.

I am currently in Vang Vieng, supposedly the Lao party town, I’m using my time here to rest a bit and recharge my batteries for the next stage of the trip.

Chiang Mai

20191003_142015Chiang Mai was a great place to visit, and I did loads during the time we were there. We ate some great food, went to a Thai boxing contest, saw a Lady Boy cabaret show and had a day in an elephant sanctuary, where we fed, bathed and washed the elephants and rolled around in the mud with them. There was also some good street art on display in the city.