Johan

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Johan

Meh... readers beware. I originally started this log to keep my mother up to date during a longer trip, but I quickly realized I wasn't about to waste my precious time off by sitting in some shady Internet café updating a blog nobody will read anyway. Nowadays it is more of a personal nostalgia and ego thing, but by all means, feel free to enjoy the speculations and hybris which will no doubt get reality checked soon enough.

I will add older travel logs as time permits.



Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok April 9th 2012

Monday April 9th 2012. On this day, the cremation and burial ceremony for the late Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda, daughter and only child of former King Vajiravudh (commonly known as Rama VI), was taking place at the Sanam Luang grounds in front of the Grand Palace. She had passed away already in July the previous year, now was the time for the cremation service. The day had been announced a public holiday and many people dressed up in black or white and travelled to the capital for a chance to pay their respects and maybe get a glimpse of the King. I had just got off the plane in the early afternoon and breezed through the near empty immigration area of Suvarnabhumi Int'l airport, which was a relief considering the turmoil and congestion of the last few ... read more
Afternoon service for HRH Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda
Evening service for HRH Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda
Afternoon service for HRH Princess Bejaratana Rajasuda

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Ladakh » Thiksey April 9th 2011

(Continued from previous blog entry) - The journey back from Hemis saw us arrive at Thiksey Goemba in virtually no time. Still, the mind plays tricks on you; the distance often seems shorter than it really is. Gazing toward the destination it felt like all the twists and turns in the road kept creeping out of nowhere to try to disorient and delay our journey for little good reason. The large temple complex at Thiksey sits high atop a narrow hill around which the highway snakes itself. Though much smaller, it has the typical iconic look of the Potala in Lhasa, of which it appears to be a not so distant cousin. A village lies spread out around the higway, typically with people and animals bumbling about on the curb. White stupas in various degrees of ... read more
Thiksey goemba
Zebra
Thiksey goemba

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Ladakh » Hemis April 9th 2011

On our third day in Ladakh it was finally time for our first longer excursion. We were still quite groggy in the morning after yet another exhausting night; it seemed we were not yet fully recovered from the change of altitude. The thought of leaving the warm bed, now a fortress of blankets and jackets layered on top of each other like the Earth's geological strata, and setting foot on what must surely be ice cold tiles in the bathroom felt just as alien and uninviting as trying to walk on the moon without an encounter suit. Then there was the promise of hot water nagging in the back of my head, I just knew I would be in for disappointment on that front. But surely the hotel manager had reassured us that yes hot water ... read more
Kay during a quick photo break
Stakna goemba
Shaking off the winter...

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Ladakh » Leh April 8th 2011

(continued from previous blog entry). Doubling back from Phyang village we had time for a visit to Spituk goemba before lunch. Located on the southwest outskirts of Leh, the monastery sits on a hillock just south of the airport runway, meaning it is a place of dual interest to me. On the way up the hill we drove past a few triple-A emplacements, their crews seeking shelter from the noon sunlight under their camo-nets. Parking the car below the goemba we made our way up a few stairs to the temple proper, a path which is typically lined with prayer wheels. The prayer wheel is an ingenious invention, a low-tech automatic prayer machine. At the heart of each cylinder crowds an immense amount of small rectangular paper sheets, each one covered with a written prayer. Spinning ... read more
Downtown Leh
Spituk goemba, Leh
The road to Spituk goemba

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Ladakh » Phyang April 8th 2011

(continued from previous blog entry) Not far west from Leh lies the village of Phyang, separated from the capital city by one of those seemingly endless ridges of mountains which make Ladakh a land of interconnected valleys. Originally, the provincial government had planned to build a road through Phyang to connect it with the Nubra valley in the north, but the villagers had opposed the idea and eventually the road came to be built near Gangles village instead, across the now famous Khardung La mountain pass. Instead the main reason to visit Phyang is the goempa located here. The highway out of Leh is lined by military camps and several units have their homes here. Bases are swamped with buildings in various state of construction, corrugated steel storage facilities and hordes of the ubiquitous Ashok-Leyland trucks ... read more
The Indus river snakes its way through Ladakh
The Indus river snakes its way through Ladakh
Small house near Phyang

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Ladakh » Leh April 8th 2011

It is early Friday morning and we are awake. The first realization is that it is warm under the thick blankets, the second that it must be pretty cold in the room. Sure enough, the temperature hovers around 12 degrees centigrade, and the cold tiled bathroom which has not been affected by the heater... well I don't really want to think about that. I know that somehow I must move from under the warm blanket area to the cold bathroom area, and I have a feeling there will be no reward in form of hot water. It seems we've all been affected by the change in air pressure. Kay feels a bit like vomiting, I myself feel funny in my stomach, like swollen. All our gels and liquids show signs of their own as well. The ... read more
Mr. Rehn, intrepid adventurer
Kay, ramen noodle-lover
Sonam, our guide

Asia » India » Jammu & Kashmir » Ladakh » Leh April 7th 2011

Groan... waking up from a delirium of weird dreams at one in the morning. I suspect yesterday's cacophony of new impressions and a slight overheating of the brain had something to do with it. At 2.30 we pack our gear and head out to the lobby where a car awaits to take us to the airport. The flight to Leh is scheduled at 4.50 am and we are dropped off at Indira Gandhi Int'l again. To enter the building you have to pass manned checkposts at the doors where armed soldiers inspect passports and tickets. They do take their time in a sort of self-important fashion, playing with reading out or names aloud, tasting the weird syllables, juggling them around. I feel so much safer from terrorism already. Eventually we are let inside the terminal and ... read more
Traditional houses with prayer flags
A great welcoming tea
Namgyal Tsemo goemba in the distant mist

Asia » India » National Capital Territory » Delhi April 6th 2011

How do you write an honest blog about a capital city that will not upset a cadre of its proudest readers? I guess the answer is that you don't... but I am getting ahead of myself. I never really had any specific desire to go to Delhi. But a few years after I had returned from Bhutan in 2006 I stumbled on a rather spectacular photo on a photography site. It showed a white monastic building in the traditional Himalayan style clinging in that unmistakeable way to the side of a rock, next to it a cluster of similar buildings perching below. I was surprised to learn that this building was not located in a typical small mountain kingdom but in northern India. Quite some time later Kay told me about this place in India that ... read more
Pigeons feeding at Jama Masjid
Meet the fockers...
Old Delhi traffic

Asia January 13th 2010

As the end credits of yet another bland (and censored) romantic comedy have long petered out on the overhead screen, the line to the toilet fizzled out and the last unruly passenger has come to rest beside you, hogging the middle armrest and dozing off under his blanket, warmed by the two gin & tonics he had to help wash down that unidentifiable excuse for meat and mashed potatoes (sorry we're out of chicken) from the late night dinner, when the flight attendants have stopped peddling the useless tax free produce and when nothing exudes from the economy class cabin but the stench of 200 uncomfortably sleeping passengers, that is when the world slowly comes back to life. Looking out from my window (by discreetly and gently reopening the blind that was ordered down by the ... read more
Misty fjords, near Bergen, Norway
Unknown settlement, Uzbekistan
Clouds over karsts, Phuket

Asia » China » Beijing December 28th 2008

Kay and I both had some days off work for the new year's holiday and we decided to go visit Joanne in Beijing. Not mainly because we wanted to go to Beijing, but because that's where Joanne happened to be located. Of course, I won't back down from a chance to set foot on the Great Wall, but it is proving hard to convince the ladies. Anyway, I padded my itinerary with one extra day on each side of Kay's flights to give myself some more room to maneuver. After all, one never knows if there is a sudden urge to visit the military museum... December 28th - Adrenalin rush "Welcome to Nässjö. X2000 southbound for Hässleholm, Lund, Malmö departure time 16:50 expected 16:53 will depart from track six. X2000 northbound for Linköping, Norrköping, Stockholm departure ... read more
New Year's buffet
Houhai Lake by night
Masked performer, Beijing Opera




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