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
20th of January

Memories from India

My 6th visit to incredible India. I spend a little less than a month in India this time – entering via the land border from Bangladesh. You can see the memories here.

The highlight of this trip was the two weeks that I spend with my high school friend Peter, roaming around Rajasthan, We had so incredibly much fun and many adventures that neither words nor pictures can really capture!

Dodgy train travels, journeys on camel in the dessert, moonar eclipses, intense bargaining to just mention a few.

The adventure culminated in Agra, visiting one of the wonders of the world; Taj Mahal.

Thank you Peter for all the fun, and thank you India for never failing in delivering adventure, color and life!

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Categories:  Photography Travel
29th of December

Merry Christmas from Denmark and a Happy New Year From Norway

With flight tickets as cheap as they are – the world is really becoming a small place! So ya… I decided to surprise my family and pop by Denmark for a week – a slight detour from my India adventure πŸ™‚

Also, I think I am becoming a softie on my old days – as there is a very special woman in my life – Michelle from the Philipines, who lives in Norway currently. Being away from her for 4 months made me miss her terribly, so what happened is that I decided to fly home to Europe and spend christmas with her and her sister, who lives here in Denmark.

We spend christmas with her sister and her brother in law, at his familys place. They have never met me before, and it was nice being reminded that it is not only in Asia that hospitality exists. Danes can be extremely hospitable as well – particular once you break the ice with them. Initially danish people can be rather cold on the surface, and typically it is the outsider that has to take the initiative to start conversation and break the ice (however this was not the case with Michelles brother in laws family!). I felt like I had known them for years already! Completely down to earth and very easy going people – who knows how to cook very well πŸ™‚

After christmas I showed up at my fathers doorstep the 27th of December without him having any idea of me being in Denmark – he was quite surprised to see me πŸ™‚ Michelle and I are currently relaxing at my fathers place, enjoying great Danish food (“Stegt flΓ¦sk rocks!”). Tomorrow we head off to Norway to celebrate New Years in Oslo, along with the filipina mafia (a huge bunch of filipina au pairs πŸ™‚ ). I think it will be quite a sight, a giant danish guy – sourounded by tiny filipinas πŸ™‚ After new years, my plan is to spend the month of January in Norway with Michelle, after which I am heading off to Thailand for two months.

Now Thailand is going to be a bit crazy – I will spend two months in a Muay Thai training camp, practising thaiboxing – but I think that is a topic for another post πŸ™‚

So here is a very merry christmas and a happy new years to all of you!

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Categories:  Travel
18th of December

2 Great Weeks in Rajastan with Peter

My good friend Peter came to visit me in India for 2 weeks, and he just left this very morning. Yet another goodbye, but I am getting used to it by now I think πŸ™‚

We had sooo much fun! Peter arrived in Delhi 2 weeks ago, and we had no fixed plans, but quickly agreed that what was going to happen was that we would tour Rajastan for 2 weeks, and trust me – we choose right πŸ™‚

We spend a few days initially visiting New Delhi, sightseeing, planning the Rajastan tour, and basically letting the culture chock sink in for Peter. I have to say I was impressed – he handled everything very well!

After a few days we headed for Jaipur – the pink city, our first destination in Rajastan. We had good fun here, did some textile shopping, rode elefants and enjoyed the city. However the real fun began once we left Jaipur and took the epic overnight bus journey from Jaipur to Jaisalmer – the golden city.

The bus was a sleeper bus – of course sized to accommodate the Indian people – meaning I did not remotely fit in any dimensions: Meaning one very squashed me! It was also extremely cold at night due to the windows constantly sliding open during the trip. However we had so much fun! Never have I laughed so much. To be honnest I don’t remember what we laughed about – we where just talking a lot of bullshit – making jokes about the situation, the indian culture, the terrible bus. The locals must have thought we where retarded!

In the morning when we had to step outside of our sleeper compartment, I wanted to warn Peter that there was a lot of shit luying around on the floor of the bus (I was refering to rubbish), only just before opening my mouth I realised the was actual human shit in rather big quantities on the floor. That is the first time I experienced that in my 6 visits to India πŸ™‚

Jaisalmer was a culture chock to me. It was like someone took the volume button of India and turned it down to 20%. So calm and peacefull. In Jaisalmer we joined my friend Lina Luo fro China, whome I met during the Annapurna trekking in Nepal a few months back. It was great catching up with her again! We enjoyed thourgly doing nothing together the three of us (Lina has tought me the art of being lazzy hehehe).

During our stay in Jaisalmer we spend 2 days in the dessert riding camels. This was a funny – and painfull experience – giving birth to the memorable quote: “My crouch feels like I have been a very naugthy girl”. We shared the camel safari with a very cool danish-irani girl, a hillarious indian dude, a frenchman that looked like Sean Penn, and a very “zen” Russian guy. We where a very funny group indeed!

After Jaisalmer it was time to say goodbye to Lina again for the 2nd time – I am sure we will meet again somewhere on this planet, if nothing else I have it on my todo list to visit China, so I am sure I will bump into her there!

Next destination was Jodphur – the blue city. By now we had learned our lesson and where only travelling by day – no sleeping in tiny confined spaces! Jodphur was good fun, and we mainly chilled out and bought spices. Met some nice people here, enjoyed the views of the fort. However I was a bit disappointed about the food in Jodphur – it was rather bland and boring.

Our initial tought was to go to Udaipur after Jodphur, however it turned out this would be logistically rather tirering, and would involve more overnight travelling. So we decided to go to Pushkar instead.

Now this must be the Goa of Rajastan! Imagine India turned down to 10% volume, add a whole lot of hippies, some weed, and a very relaxed attitude and you have an idea of how Pushkar is like πŸ™‚ We only stayed here for one day as we where running out of time. And headed for Agra next day, to see one of the wonders of the world: Taj Mahal. This was my 2nd visit to the Taj, and it still doesnt fail to impress πŸ™‚

After visiting Taj Mahal, we rushed back to Delhi, packed Peters stuff, had some lovely food and a beer to finish of the trip. And this morning I put Peter on the flight to return back to Europe.

This is the first time I traveled like this in India with a friend. Normally I travel on my own, and meet people on the road. It is a very different way of travelling, and I have to say I really enjoyed it big time! We had so much fun – definitely an experience to repeat again, somewhere on this globe.

Thanks for a great time Peter!

11th of December

Traveling Blues and Hospitality In Kalkata

I have fallen a bit behind with updating this blog, so forgive me but this post should probably have been posted a few weeks back πŸ™‚

The day after I reached Kalkata, high on being back in India, something new happened. I got the blues – the traveling blues. I think the emotional roller coaster of saying goodbye to the very nice Bangladeshi family really got to me.
For my whole stay in Kalkata, I didn’t want to do anything. I tried to push myself to photograph, but gave up after one day, and spend my time mainly reading and studying some IT (which I actually enjoyed quite a lot).

But this was a very new emotion to me, having the traveling blues. I guess I had gotten tired of saying goodbye to people, and I made no effort whatsoever to interact with anyone in Kalkata, as I really didn’t want to meet some more nice people and have to say goodbye all over again.

At the same time something very nice happened. I think Indian hospitality was trying to compete with Bangladeshi hospitality πŸ™‚ I got a phonecall from a Indian family living in Kalkata. Now, I had done nothing to get in touch with this family. What happened was the my Indian ex-wife (living in Germany) got to know that I was in Kalkata.

So what happened was that she apparently called her Indian friend living in Denmark. And this friends sisters lives in Kalkata. So my ex-wifes friends sister called me and said that i HAD to join them for dinner here in Kalkata. Now that is Indian hospitality for you πŸ™‚ That was quite a nice experience to soothe the travel blues I must say!

Anyhow, the blues is now gone, and although not very enjoyable I think it is an important part of traveling. You can not always be on a high. Yin and Yang and all that… This is one thing I enjoy about traveling for an extended time period. You can have rough times, and take them for the experience that they really are – without getting stressed out about it. If I had only been on a three weeks holiday, I think I would have found myself rather stressed out about having the blues.

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Categories:  Thoughts Travel
26th of November

About Farewells and Reunions

The day before Yesterday after 3+ wonderful weeks in Bangladesh it was time to say farewell. I was not prepared for what emotional roller coaster this was going to be. After spending 3 weeks with the Bangladeshi family I was already regarded as a family member, and when I left, some of the woman and children where crying. Boy was that tough… To be honest I was ready to give up. I am getting tired of saying goodbye – this is the tough part of traveling. And when there is crying involved… it does not get any less difficult.

But the family was hospitable to the very last end, and insisted that I should return soon, and they refused to say goodbye and insisted to say see you. I already made my first phone call to them to ensure them I was safe in India πŸ™‚

I took the bus from Dhaka to Kolkata, as I enjoy entering a country by land. It is a nice feeling standing between two physical borders, and seeing the culture change immediately. Airports are a bit generic in that sense I feel. The bus journey was a grueling 16 hours long, lots of bureaucracy involved at the border, and I developed some nasty stomach problems on the way (some bad tea I think). Now when I arrived to India in anything but optimal condition, both emotionally and physically I was thinking – to hell with it all.

Now what always happens when I reach here, didn’t fail to happen again. This is my 6th visit to India, and the moment I stepped out of the bus into the streets of Kolkata I was filled with joy. I simply love India. It is such a crazy place, full of colors and life. I truly felt alive when I stepped out of the bus (5 minutes later I was in the toilet, that was a different version of feeling alive, but I will keep that private). I took myself a 15 hours nap, and now the system is feeling much better, and I am now ready to go exploring Kolkata. It is a very interesting city, and the part I am staying in has a decaying colonial architecture (Kolkota used to be the capital of India when the British where still around).

So here is me saying “see you again soon Bangladesh, and hello again wonderful India”.

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Categories:  Travel