27th of May

Paris Reunion With Lucy Jumper

I met Lucy Jumper first time in my life, way back in 2011 when I was visiting Istanbul. I met her through couch surfing, and we hit it off pretty well. Lucy is one of those people that is very easy to be around. We definitely had a fun time in Istanbul – lots of good memories! So somehow we managed to stay in touch even though she lives far away on the other site of the Atlantic ocean in the big apple, also known as New York city.

Last year I received a message from Lucy on Facebook, asking what I was up to next weekend. I didn’t have any plans really, and much to my surprise Lucy suggested that she purchased a ticket to Copenhagen and popped by!! Actually at the time I had just returned myself from traveling in Asia for half a year, so I was living on the couch with Dorthe and Dennis (bless their souls). So all of the sudden they had an additional visitor πŸ™‚

Now this year, I was going to Paris to visit some libraries, and the Magnum photo office. Again Lucy surprises me by telling me that she was going to pop by Paris for the weekend – on her way to Chile!! Paris is definitely a slight detour to say the least, on the way to Chile, when your starting destination is New York city.

Somehow most Americans I have met on my travels have either been recently graduated students on a gap year, or working professionals between jobs. My impression is that its quite a work centered culture and taking time off for long periods is just not an option (if you want to keep your job that is). Somehow Lucy manages to roam the world still!

It was great catching up with you Lucy! I am sure we will meet in 2014. This time I should really cross the Atlantic ocean πŸ™‚

Also on a site node, this was one of the first outings of my brand new Fuji x100s. A lot of these photographs where shot indoors at iso 6400. I am amazed with the quality of this tiny camera. You practically do not need light any longer. Exciting times!

Reunited with Lucy Jumper in Paris. Last time we met was in 2012 in Copenhagen

Reunited with Lucy Jumper in Paris. Last time we met was in 2012 in Copenhagen.

The kind french family hosting the first nights party. They made an excellent Margarita btw!

The kind french family hosting the first nights party. They made an excellent Margarita by the way!

The funky bar hosting the first night out. Cool place!

The funky bar hosting the first night out. Cool place!

My first mango based cocktail. Have to say it did not disappoint!

My first mango based cocktail. Have to say it did not disappoint!

Lucy Jumper definitely enjoying the party :)

Lucy definitely enjoying the party πŸ™‚

I can see me house from here!!!

I can see me house from here!!! Juvaila enjoying the view!

Very passionate French bartender cooking up some funky drinks!

Very passionate French bartender cooking up some funky drinks!

There is always time for some shopping when in Paris

There is always time for some shopping when in Paris πŸ™‚ Lucy shops for clothes (women!) and Bently has his priorities in order and shops for food.

It is becoming a great tradition for Lucy Jumper and I to enjoy waterpibe whenever we meet up! Nothing beats the waterpibe in Istanbul though ;)

It is becoming a great tradition for Lucy and I to enjoy waterpibe whenever we meet up! Nothing beats the waterpibe in Istanbul though πŸ˜‰

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Categories:  Photography Travel
24th of May

Cambridge Beer Festival 2013

Every year in May the CAMRA organisation organizes the Cambridge beer festival – this year they actually celebrated their 40th anniversary. And it just so happened that I was in Cambridge around this time… (coincidence? careful planning?)

I have to say that I was quite pleased with the beers I ended up tasting. My criteria was to go for the darker beers – with funny names (such as Dark Arts, Negra Como Tu Corazon, Pleasant Nightmare, etc). Also I tried to go for something not too strong, and always half pints – a good strategy to maximise the amount of beers I was able to sample without passing out.

To me there has always been something timeless about Cambridge – an interesting mix of contemporary with classic. It has always been something that attracted me to this city. It just has a certain kind of character that I haven’t managed to find anywhere else. Therefore I think black and white photographs is a nice fit for this event, to celebrate the timelessness of Cambridge. And just as black and white never goes out of fashion I don’t think beer ever will either.

It was great catching up with friends again, it has been far too long since my last visit to Cambridge! As a side note – this was a great occasion to test my new Fuji x100s camera. Very pleased with this little gem!

Health and safety at the Cambridge Beer festival

First things first – no British event without proper care for health and safety!! Warning – you must wear footwear, you must not smoke, you must provide proof of age, etc etc. God bless the health and safety – what would we do without it??

First beer of the day at Cambridge Beer festival

Cheers! First beer of the day – definitely not the last! Personally, I went for the “dark arts” as my first half pint. Good stuff! Smooth, and full of flavour.

The beer hall at Cambridge Beer festival

The beer hall. A mecca for beer lovers!

This is what it is all about at Cambridge Beer festival

This is what it is all about. Beer! (And cider/mead for some).

Everyone is welcome at the Cambridge Beer festival

At the Cambridge beer festival anyone is welcome – four legs, two legs, one legs – it makes no difference. A friendly athmosphere to enjoy beer, cider, mead, food, friendship and life.

Why settle for one beer at the Cambridge Beer festival

Why have one beer, when you can have two at the same time?

Svend Hesselholt Henne Hansen enjoying two beers at Cambridge Beer festival

Some call it greed… other call it dedication! Svend also goes for the two beers at the time approach.

Svend Hesselholt Henne Hansen and Katie Benson enjoying pork scratchings at Cambridge Beer festival

Nothing like a pipe shaped pork scratchings to bring out a smile!

Fish and chips at Cambridge Beer festival

And of course there was plenty of food stands to serve the hungry masses! Fish and chips are still awesome btw – and a great nutritional complement to beer, I am sure!

8th of March

The Little Pink Slot Machine

Walking the streets of Kathmandu capital of Nepal with fellow traveler Gaoness Yang, looking for a nice local restaurant to feed our starving tummies we came across this scene:


Usually when I come across something intriguing I do not hesitate to pick up my camera and shoot – as I know that whatever is causing this moment to be a potential interesting image may only last but a fraction of a second. However I have to admit, in this instance I was completely taken aback. I could not figure out what this pink slot machine was doing in an empty green room with a woman sitting enjoying her fruit in front of a TV.

Having travelled a fair bit in Asia, I am no stranger to unusual settings on the streets, but I have to say this particular setup was a bit more random that what I am used to. Fortunately there was no risk of this scene disappearing anytime soon, and having caught my breath my instinct returned, and I raised the camera to my eye capturing this peculiar moment.

This is what I love about places like Nepal. I don’t get to see places like this back home. This family had some spare space, and decided to turn it into a minute gambling place – I suppose. I don’t figure it is a particular successful business, but it is a business none the less. Actually in hindsight I regret not asking if I could play the slot machine – I would have loved to support her little business. I guess I was just too distracted by my roaring tummy.

Gaoness and I enjoyed the scene for a moment – taking it all in. Then we carried on our search for a nice place to eat.

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Categories:  Nepal Photography Travel
7th of December

You Cannot Hide From Who You Are


I haven’t really posted here for a while – to be honest I have been too caught up in
climbing, and after returning to Kathmandu, hanging out with friends and walking the streets photographing for my little book project “Colors of Kathmandu”

Today I leave Nepal, after almost 40 wonderful days here. There are so many impressions from this trip to Nepal – I hope I will manage to materialize them soon, and share them here!

All I can say for now is that this has been an amazing trip. I prepared for this adventure for a year. I managed to loose 15kgs of body weight finally getting under 100kg as part of the preparations. First time I visited Nepal in 2009 I was 128kg heavy, next time (in 2011) 115kg. Now I am slightly less than 100kg. I think it is safe to say that the quest for the mountains has been good for my health!

Summiting Imjse Tse, 6189m was an amazing experience. Preparing for something for that long, and making the dream become a reality was nothing short of amazing. It is by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and it motivates me and gives me the confidence to prepare for further adventures (next trip to Nepal is already in the making).

When I left for this trip, some part of me was struggling coming to terms with my way of life – maybe it is time to settle down, maybe it is time to live a “normal” life?

I think if it is one thing I have learned from this trip, it is you cannot hide from who you are. There is a reason that I keep coming back to this part of the world.
There is a reason that I keep hitting the streets with my camera. There is a reason that I keep seeking out adventure. It is simply just who I am.

I have realized that when I do what I love, I put out a lot of positive energy, and “good stuff” just happens in return. New opportunities arises. I meet new like-minded people. New projects appear. A fellow nomad and photographer friend Flemming Bo Jensen – who also is a great writer, wrote something on his blog a while back, that I can really relate to. As he said – “I am not running away from something – I am running towards to something”! The last few years has been filled with me running towards my dreams.

I left England after living there for 4 amazing years – even though I was enjoying it immensely there. But I had dreamed for long to try to work for my dream company Miracle A/S in Denmark. After having fulfilled that dream – having a great time, learning a lot, working with some amazing people, I quit my job to pursue my dream of traveling the world, for an undefined period. It was an amazing journey! It ended up with me returning to Denmark to start my own company, which was a new adventure indeed. At the same time the preparation started for Imjse Tse.

Now having fulfilled the dream of Imjse Tse, I realize that stopping with pursuing my dreams, and settling into a life that society calls “normal” would be silly.
I don’t see the point of trying to be something that I am not, and trying to want something that most people want. I realize that living a different lifestyle, is not always a dance on roses – but life will always be a bumpy ride no matter how you live it. I think the best we can do is to go for what we want, and own up to the consequences. And I have never been more ready to do that, than I am right now.

Of course I realize that doing crazy and sometimes dangerous things worries the people that I care about. And for that I am truly sorry – and I appreciate their effort to try and understand me. And thereby on a finishing note – thank you for all the support from my friends and family – it means the world to me!

So long Nepal, and thank you for all the daal bhat. Hope to see you again come May!

4th of November

Safely at Namche Bazaar, 3440m

Safely here at Namche Bazaar after a nice 5 1/2 hour walk from Phakding. The weather is beautiful, and the sun is shining bright (it gets a little too hot even πŸ™‚ )

Clear skies, so we got to stare Mt. Everest into the eyes several times – she is still a beauty!

Head feels good too – today was the day I was a bit worried about, due to the rapid accent (4 days ago I was at 0 meters, Denmark now at 3400+ meters).

Tomorrow we will rest and acclimatize – I think we will try to push for higher altitude to push the body to start producing some more of those red blood cells that we love πŸ™‚

Last night I got to test my new awesome down sleeping bag I purchased – and yeah it rocks! I think the temperature was 5 degrees last night, and it felt waaayy to hot in the sleeping bag (its comfortable temperature is rated 3 to -25 degrees). So yeah.. – down rocks! As do marino wool too – thank you New Zealand for those awesome marino sheep!

Greetings from Nepal where the daal bat is still tasting ever so great!

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Categories:  Nepal Travel
2nd of November

In Kathmandu – off to the Mountains Rock Star Style!!!


Life has been hectic today! I arrived in Kathmandu after a 23 hours tiring flight (12 hours of transit in Doha, is a real killer!!)

Today I metup with the fantastic people from Peak Promotion and I learned that we are leaving for Lukla tomorrow at 6:30 AM – not the 6th of November as I had thought. So everything had to be finalized in one day in sted of 4 days – meaning that today I managed to get a haircut, a nepali phone number, handle all the financial stuff, get copies of documents, purchase a bit of gear, get a one hour massage by a blind person (I am a returning happy customer at seing hand, Kathmandu – can only recommend their massages!!), bought all the medicine, and met up with my guide and planned the equipment. And finished the evening with a nice dinner with a friend here, and of course got to eat a slace of the amazing zuricake!!


Now my guide is such a nice person! (As are pretty much all the Nepalis I’ve met the three times I have been here are). I feel in very safe hands, seing as he has previously climbed Mt. Everest 5 times. Imjse Tse, is just a small speed bump for this guy :p :p

The hospitality I have received from Peak Promotion, the company I employed for this climb, has been amazing! From a nice reception in the airport, to a huuuuge 2×3 meter banner at the guest house with the following writting on it:

“Hearty welcome to Mr. Michael Birkmose, Island Peak Climb 2012”. I was soo overwhelmed!! This is truely Nepal rockstar style! πŸ™‚

Now these Peak Promotion guys are so cool and organized – they are even going to have a online blog with the trek along the way. So yeah – you will be able to follow this silly danish viking online here:


Did I mention that I am kinda super excited??? πŸ™‚

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Categories:  Nepal Travel
30th of October

Back to the Himalayas

More or less one year after leaving Nepal, it is time to return for new adventures.
Last year when I was there – standing on the top of Kala Patthar, 5545m I promised myself that I would return, and attempt to climb Imje Tse, 6189m. And now it is time to keep that promise to myself!

For the past year I have been training intensely for this adventure – including two extreme months in a Muay Thai training camp in Thailand (the thaiboxing was not so much the aim, as where the cardio benefits – the Nepali are very friendly people, and I don’t think any selfdefence skills will be needed during this adventure). Strangely enough the stay in the Muay Thai training camp, introduced me to the crossfit training style (thank you Luke Richmond!!), and I ended up falling completely in love with this way of training – spending all my time in Thailand training Crossfit, and have been doing the same ever since I returned to Denmark in April.

I return to Nepal 15kgs lighter, and defiantly the strongest/fittest ever in my life. I feel blessed for getting this opportunity, and I set out on this journey with great humility. I am very aware of the fact that there are no guarantees in the mountains, but I hope Imjse Tse will be hospitable and bless me with a safe passage to the summit, from where you can stare some of the tallest mountains in the world into the eyes: Lhotse (8,501m), Makalu (8475m) and Nuptse (7,879m) .

Unfortunatly all the people I met during my last stay in Nepal, who had attempted to summit Imjse Tse did not succeed – either due to falling ill, or because the weather did not permit for a safe climb. I am hoping my story will be a different one, but I have set my expectations accordingly. No matter what, the journey towards the return to Nepal has been a great experience on its own. As Edmund Hillary (first person to summit Mt. Everest, together with sherpa Tenzing Norgay) said: β€œIt is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.”. Those many hours spend doing crazy exercises in my local crossfit box has thought me a lot about myself, and pushed my tolerance for pain considerably (and I throw a mean farmers walk now πŸ˜‰ ). I hope this will serve me well in an environment with less than 50% of the oxygen compared to what we are able to breathe here at sea level – and in a slightly colder climate ;).

I think it goes without saying that I am excited to be back in Nepal, a country I am very fond of. To be able to walk in the Himalayas once again, and enjoy the spectacular views, and to enjoy lots of large servings of hearty Daal Bhat! And to be able to meet the Nepali hospitality once again!

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Categories:  Nepal Travel
26th of May

One Adventure Ends Another One Begins

Life has been rather hectic during the past two months – but in the good way πŸ™‚
April 5th I returned to Denmark from Thailand and 7+ months on the road, to embark on a new adventure. Boxing and exercising in Thailand was a great experience, but I will write a seperate post about that πŸ™‚

The day after returning I rushed off to Norway to spend some quality time with the lovely woman Michelle Ortiz!

After a happy reunion and some days packed with fun together with the Filipina mafia (aka the au pair gang), I rushed off back to Denmark to start work for my first client – no time for resting.

Yeah my first client – you heard right πŸ™‚ I started my own company – Pragma IT at your service! My dream is to work focused for periods as an independent IT consultant, put aside some cash and then at other times pursue other adventures in life. The next adventure is definitively going to be climbing Imja Tse, 6189m in Nepal (also known as Island Peak). So besides being busy with work I try to spend a fair bit of time training for this expedition (hoping to be able to go in November this year) πŸ™‚

Plugging back into society has gone rather seamlessly actually. I spend the first month sleeping on Dorthe and Dennise’s sofa – bless their souls and their hospitality. As of May 1st I have been living in a lovely little room in the middle of Copenhagen just a few minutes walk from the Queens palace – I don’t think I will ever get the opportunity to stay this central anywhere in the world again πŸ™‚ The place is perfect for me. We are six people living here – 2 Greeks, 1 Swedish, 1 Polish, 1 Bangladeshi and myself being the only dane here. Very nice people, and it makes everyday life a little more fun when you have interesting people from different cultures around you πŸ™‚

And the best part about my room – it has a bed loft! Sure you might think I am 16 again, but I love it! Sue me πŸ˜‰

Besides being busy getting plugged back into society, working on the business, and training for Nepal – there has still been time for a few adventures – including a few trips to Norway to visit Michelle, and an epic trip to Russia together with Dorthe and Dennis (with a few days being spend in Estonia as well) to see Peter wed the wonderful woman Constanta, from Moldova. That trip involved me falling a sleep at the statue of Lenin at 3 am, but thats a story for another time πŸ˜‰

9th of March

Memories from Bangladesh 2011

In November 2011, I travelled to Bangladesh to visit my friend Zubayer and his family, and to celebrate Eid al-Adha (festival of sacrifice). You can see the memories here.

Never before have I encountered such a hospitable people as the Bangladeshi. I travelled to Bangladesh with no guidebook, no plans and no expectations. And my conclusion is very clear: The Bangladeshi people put hospitality before their own wallets.

Most of the time I lived with my friends family, and they where extremely hospitable, and made me feel as part of their family from day one. At first I thought, perhaps this extreme hospitality where due to the fact that I stayed with a friends family. But I soon learnt it is general for the Bangladeshi people. So many times I have been invited into random peoples houses on the street, to come and live with them for a few days. People that I have only just met have bought me anything ranging from coconuts, to coffee or tea. Random people I have met on the bus, gave me their phone numbers and told me to call them if I needed any kind of help.

Thank you for the hospitality Bangladesh, and hope to see you again soon!

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Categories:  Photography Travel
28th of January

Norway and the Filipino Mafia

I spend a month in Norway with the wonderful Michelle Ortiz. The month was spend relaxing, enjoying the snow, eating great food and in general having a lovely time!

Now don’t get me wrong. Norway is a great country! Very nice people, fantastic nature, a calm and safe place. A nice change in scenery after the craziness of Asia. But this is not what caught my attention during the past month. It was hanging out with the Filipinos that really moved me πŸ™‚

Michelle herself is Filipino, and she has a lot of friends in Norway that are also Filipino (I call them the Filipino mafia πŸ™‚ ). So naturally I got to spend a lot of time with… you guessed it: Filipinos πŸ™‚

And to cut a long story short: They rock! I have yet to see a Filipino that does not smile and laugh all the time. These people has to be the most happy people I have ever met in my life! Always so full of joy and laughter. These guys knows how to enjoy life!

And I don’t think its just me that has been lucky and ended up hanging out with some particular happy Filipinos. During my past 4 months of traveling, naturally I met a lot of other travelers, and we talked about our previous adventures. And I have met several people that all told the same story: When they went to the Philippines they where so surprised about how happy these people are!

And my amazement doesn’t stop here. Not only are they a smiling, laughing, happy bunch of people – also they show so much hospitality πŸ™‚ Let’s just say that I was not very often hungry in Norway πŸ˜‰

So here is me saying thank you to Michelle for a lovely month, thank you to Norway for providing the venue and thank you to the Filipino mafia for all your hospitality, laughter and giggle πŸ™‚ A special thanks to Angel Salinas for her imitation of British accent: Priceless πŸ˜‰

And do notice all the smileys in this blog post – smiling is contagious πŸ˜‰

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Categories:  Travel