24th of November

Hospitable Bangladesh

Since I was 18 I have traveled the world extensively, and it has mostly been very good experiences with very hospitable people indeed. However, I feel like the hospitality of Bangladesh deserves a special mentioning – therefore I decided to dedicate it its own post.

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

Not many westerns goes to Bangladesh in the first place, so everyone here is extremely curious about you. They want to talk to you, to feel your skin, to ask you if you are married, if you enjoy the food, etc etc. So naturally you get a lot of attention (as in many other Asian countries). But I have to say that this is the first country where I have been asked for signatures by people πŸ™‚ I feel like a superstar here.

Most of the time I have lived with my friends family here, and they have been extremely hospitable, and made me feel as part of their family from day one. At first I thought, perhaps this extreme hospitality is due to the fact that I stayed with a friends family. But I soon learned 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, have given me their phone numbers and told me to call them if I need any kind of help.

I spend 5 days on a beautiful Island next to the Burma border. Upon my arrival I met an refugee from Burma, and stayed in his guesthouse. He was very keen to show me around the Island, and I asked him how much money he wanted for that? He replied very simply, no money sir – I just want a chance to practise my English. I was overwhelmed.

On the Island a local Bangladeshi guy heard that I wanted to buy a fresh lobster, so he took me to the fisherman to shop for a good one – only the fisherman was delayed for some hours, so he took me swimming, treated me to coffee. In the afternoon we did some armwrestling, and after that we where best palls πŸ™‚

Yesterday I was roaming around on the streets of old Dhaka photographing. I ended up in an area where there is a lot of steel manufacturers. And randomly one of them invited me in to their shop, showed me around, and treated me to tea and biscuits.

I feel very sad indeed leaving this place, and I am sure that I will return one day indeed…

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Categories:  Travel
21st of November

Delayed Eid Mubārak (Blessed Eid)

I have been in Bangladesh for 3 weeks now, but haven’t had much of a chance to post some updates from here (haven’t had access to internet). So this post is a little outdated, but anyhow just wanted to share with you guys.

So first of all yes a delayed blessed Eid. From 6th to 9th of November we celebrated Eid al-Adha (festival of sacrifice). This is where the family purchases an animal (typical a bull or a goat) and sacrifices it by halal slaughter. It was a very special experience. We went shopping for the bull (lots of bargaining), we walked it for 6 km to take it home, we fed it for some days, we went to the mosque for prayers, and then finally the sacrifice (this is the abridged version of 3 days events :).

Now the sacrifice is NOT for the fainthearted – this is done the halal way and it can be quite gruesome to watch. But there is such a special feeling in the air – a special energy. Some cows you feel have come to terms with their destiny and are very calm, and others are very aggressive. After the prayers at the mosque a bull came crashing through the crowd and we had to jump for our lives. This was one bull that was not going to go down easy.

The bull that we had purchased was very calm though, but of course at the actual sacrifice it was not particular happy – fair deal πŸ™‚

After the sacrifice the bull was slaughtered, and divided into seven portions – for the different family members. From each portion the individual family member would give one third to the poor, and one third to friends and family, and the last part was to keep.

In the following days we ate sooo much beef. Deliciously cooked by experienced Bangladeshi women. I cannot describe the taste – it was simply amazing. And probably the freshest beef I will ever eat. Hours after the sacrifice we had our first meal. One thing that I enjoyed in particular, was the fact everything of the bull was consumed. The beef itself, the brain (sooo tasty!), the tongue, the spare parts, the bone marrow. Everything was used – nothing was wasted.

Eid was a unique experience, and I feel very happy to have had the chance to partake in it. Not many people get this opportunity, and I really appreciate it. As I mentioned, there is such a special energy in the air, and it is really an exciting thing to see the closeness of the family and the community during these days. I think you can probably compare it to the excitement that many of the Christians feel during Christmas, spending time with their family, cooking traditional food etc (and the presents for the children hehehe).

Throughout my whole stay the people here have been amazingly hospitable, but that deserves a post on its own. More on that topic on another day, when I catch up with my blogging πŸ™‚

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Categories:  Travel
3rd of November

So Long and Thank you For All the Daal Bhat Nepal

Two amazing months in Nepal. Two very long and great treks in the Everest and Annapurna regions. Countless memories and a lot of really great new friends.

Once again I have enjoyed my time here in Nepal so very much. The people here are just amazing. They might be tiny in terms of physical appearence, but their hearts are huge. I enjoy life here a lot – particular in the mountains! And who can not love Daal Bhat? I am rather sentimental to leave this place. But I take comfort in the fact that I know that I will return for sure. When I will return is uncertain, but I know that next time I go here I want to climb one of the 6000+ summits. I have already made arrangements with a great trekking company. A very nice Swedish climber recommended this place to me. These people know their stuff, and have arranged several Mt. Everest expeditions, so a 6000+ summit definatly fall within their expertise. All I need to do now, is to figure out when I want to return πŸ™‚

Now I am off to the airport to fly to Dhaka, Bangladesh, where I will spend a month. I have no expectations to Bangladesh – I know nothing about it. No plans. All I know is that my friend Zubayer and I are going to purchase a cow tomorrow, and I know that Sunday is going to be rather bad news for the cow… Other than that no plans.

Last post from the rooftop of the world for now. Thank you Nepal, so long and thank you for all the Daal Bhat πŸ™‚


28th of October

Memories from Annapurna

Memories from Annapurna

Here are some photographs from 2 weeks of trekking around the Annapurna mountain range, and crossing one of the worlds highest mountain passes – Thorong La (5416 m).

Weather was amazing, and the views where breathtaking – truely make you feel small in comparision with the nature. Trekking around the entire mountain range you see so much diversity – both in landscape and in cultures.

People where shy of being photographed, and often they told me not to photograph them, so eventually I stopped and settled for only photographing the mountains.

Once again I met some great people, shared some crazy moments with them and made some new friendships.

Leaving Nepal is going to be emotional hard. So many great memories…

17th of October

Safely passed Thorong La Pass

This morning at 5.30 am, we set out for the Thorong La pass, from high camp.
2 and a half hours later at 8 am we reached it – 5416 meters. The morning was beautiful and we all crossed safely.

Again it was not without dramas – I saw many people having to turn around, throwing up, being carried over by horses, etc. But fortunately the gang of people I had met all managed without major problems.

Now I am at 3800 meters relaxing, high on the experience, a bit sad that I soon have to leave Nepal – and very clear in my mind that I have to return and do a peak next time – I have a 6500 meter peak in mind πŸ™‚

Anyhow, just wanted to let everyone know that I am safe and healthy.

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Categories:  Nepal Travel
23rd of September

Reached the Summit of Kala Patthar 6 am this morning

This morning we got up at 4.30 and immediatly started the climbing of Kala Patthar.

The climb was not without its dramas – after 15 minutes we passed Mory an american girl that was feeling very bad and couldn’t see clearly.
I asked my guide and a nepali guy to take my flashlight and to follow her down into safety. I waited in the darkness, and once my guide came back we carried on with the accent.

After a while I realized that something was not right with my guide – it was clear that he was now suffering from altitude sickness. I kept insisting that he should go down, but he refused – bless his soul – he is like a nepali father to me, never willing to leave me out of his sight, always taking care of me. After a while and a little bit of raising my voice, I convinced him to go down.

On the way up I saw some people had been spitting blood on the ground(!!). A bit later on Clara a german, was luying on the ground completely knocked out by the cold. Some people had given her chocolate, coffee, and some nepali guys and her boyfriend was rubbing her feet to warm her up – I gave her my down jacket to keep her warm.

After she was warm again, we all continued our accent. And around 6:15 we reached the summit – 5545 meters altitude. The weather was extremely cold – the ground had some snow on the summit. But we where extremely fortunate with the weather.

I cannot describe the feeling – I was so high on adrenalin and happiness.

After that we spend the rest of the day on the road to decend as fast as we could. We are currently at 4270 meters altitude.

My body is very tired and exhausted, but my hearth and soul is full of joy!

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Categories:  Nepal Travel
22nd of September

Reached basecamp today

Just a quick update from Nepal. Reached the basecamp today – after 20 days of hard work. The weather has been terrible all along, and I have only managed to get glimplses of Mt. Everest for a few seconds on few occations. But the journey has been amazing, and every day has been worth it.

Sleeping at 5180m altitude tonight, and getting up tomorrow at 4 am to climb a 5500m summit (Kala Patthar). After that – probably around 11ish we will start our decent.

Cheers from the roof of the world, from a very tired but very happy man πŸ™‚

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Categories:  Nepal Travel
18th of July

What Really Matters

During the past few months I have been getting ready for the rather big lifestyle change ahead of me. As part of the preparations one of the major issues have been deciding what to do with my stuff.
Originally I wanted to clear out stuff that I didn’t need any longer and put the rest in storage. But once this process started, I began thinking about what it really was that I wanted to achieve with this change in my life.

I’ve experienced 30 summers so far in my life. I’ve travel to a lot of interesting places. I’ve lived abroad for almost 4 years. I’ve been married – I’ve been divorced. Had the privilege of being able to study at university (it is free here in Denmark – actually you get paid around 700€ a month by the government to study here!!). Many experiences – some good, some bad, some sad, some happy – all contributing to making me who I am today. And I find it the more I experience the more I realize what really matters to me. What makes me happy is experiences. Relationships with people. Eating great food. Climbing mountains. Doing crazy things.
Material goods are not of great importance for me to be happy. The only few things that I really feel that I need is a laptop, my camera, a photo printer and an internet connection. All the other stuff to me is just luxuries. Oh yeah and a bed and some warm dry clothes might also go on the list of essentials πŸ™‚

Therefore I decided to part way with pretty much most of my belongings, cutting down to only possessing a few boxes that will be stored with friends and family. Furniture, electronics – gone. I sold these. Clothes, various household stuff – gone – donated it to charity. Lots of various crap – gone – I fed the container with this. Left are just a few physical memories (postcards, photographs, etc), my favorite books and nothing much else.

Throughout my whole life I have been conditioned by society that in order to be successful you need to get a good education, have a career, make money, build a home, settle down with a family, and once you retire you can enjoy the good life. I know that things are not really this black and white, but often I get the feeling that this is what my culture and society expects of me. A fair amount of times I have been wondering – what does it mean that I only have a few boxes to my name and a couple of coins on my bank account at the age of 30? But I have to say it is at this point in my life that I feel the most free. I am of good health, I have great people in my life and rather importantly I am full of hopes and dreams. And I am doing what makes me happy.

As the departure date gets closer it is not my things that I think about. It is people – the people that I will miss back home in Denmark. The people that I will meet on the road. Of the experiences to come.
Things are and will always just be things…

β€œThere is something perverse about more than enough. When we have more, it is never enough. It is always somewhere out there, just out of reach. The more we acquire, the more elusive enough becomes.”
– Unknown

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Categories:  Thoughts Travel