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Black and White Temple, Chiang Rai, Thailand

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The black temple and white temple in Chiang Rai is the most striking temples we’ve experienced in Thailand. What makes them different from most temples is that they are created by two artists and feels more like a piece of art then a place of worship. White temple is a place for religious beliefs while the black temple feels less geared towards a certain faith. The temples and artists are very different from each other but one of the things that is prominent in both is the theme of life and death. Well atleast of death in the more physical sense.

Sunset in Langkawi

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Sunset at Pentai Tengah and Pentai Cenang, Langkawi, Malaysia. No more, no less…

Teatime in Cameroon Highlands, Malaysia

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The bus was creeping up the mountains trough dense lush rainforest and high green covered mountains. Hairpin curves near deep ravines that would have us grabbing our seat if it wasn’t for the mesmerizing view.

Villagers are building houses out of palm leafs on the side of the streets and stalls selling fresh fruit and juice are setup in front of almost every hut. The highlands feels very rural with tiny settlements scattered all over this big mountain area, roughly the size of Singapore. The exception is the small towns that houses food markets, convenient stores, hostels and hotels, everything you need to get by with your day, no more, no less.

After 5 hours we arrive in the sleepy town of Tanah Rata. Strolling trough town towards our hotel we are met by the scent of pine trees mixed with the scent of moist rainforest and freshly cooked Malay, Chinese and Indian food from the many hawker stalls. The air is fresh and cool and it feels great to be able to breathe again after weeks of heavy pollution in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. The sun is setting over the mountains and we fall asleep almost instantly after arriving at the hotel after a long day on the bus.

The next morning we are picked up by a minibus that is taking us to the Boh tea plantation and other various excursions like a strawberry farm and a buddhist temple. We where later joined by a retired couple from Canada who sold there house to go backpacking around the world. I love to see wanderlust in all forms and ages. Hope that i’m keeping up the traveling at that age.

The chinese driver was handling the hairpins like a pro but i must say that the honking before every turn was a reminder that fellow drivers might not be as cautious. One of the Canadians asked the bus driver what the green bushes by the side of the road was. His response was ”tea plants”, we were getting closer to our destination. Boh, tea plantation.

After the next bend we were met by an amazing  view of rolling green hills of miles and miles of luscious tea plants. From a distance the thick vegetation looks almost like thick green moss.

Although I’ve been enjoying a cup of tea every morning for years now this was my first encounter with an actual tea plant. Arriving at the plantation we went inside the factory to see the full process from plant to finished tea. It was interesting but the real draw-point was the mountainside of endless tea plants.

The factory itself looked like a modern farm and the scent of processed tea was close to that of wet hay, making you think more of a cattle farm then a tea plantation. I guess it was one of those ”you think you know but you have no idea” moments.

All in all it was a great experience which will probably enrich my experience of my daily cup of tea.

Sun Sand Surf, Singapore?

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Feel the imported sand between your toes while you lounge under a newly planted palmtree while watching the sun go down between the freighters. Welcome to sentosa island, Singapore.

Palmtree Sentosa

You can get to Sentosa with monorail but we chose the far more scenic alternative, cable-car. Offering an excellent opportunity to cure Lina’s fear of heights. The view of Singapore harbour and Sentosa was stunning but i think we gotta keep working on curing the heights issue, maybe bungee jumping.

Sentosa Cable car

Sentosa is the place locals go on weekends to kick back by the beach. It’s a conceptual beach resort with zip-lining, rainforest, beaches, surfing and various theme parks. Think, Disneyland but without the plastic, cartoons and magic castle. Sentosa is for the most part man-made but offer a more genuine experience then your average themepark. The wave may be constructed, the sand imported and the palm trees planted, but all in all it feels like your typical beach resort.

Sentosa Rainforest

Sentosa is a strange place. The schizophrenic scenery leave you with very little comprehension of what’s real and what’s made up. Feeling like Alice in wonderland in beach setting and with loud tourists instead of mad hatters.

Can you tell if the waterfall is real?

Sentosa Waterfall

The beaches are beautiful yet bizarre. Perfect white sand, tall palmtrees and the view of endless freighters (!) The azure blue water looks tempting but the pollution is probably massive considering that Sentosa is located near one of the world busiest harbours. But enjoying the view from a deck chair on the beach is truly a one of a kind experience.

Sentosa Sunset

Next to the beaches are surfers hitting the man-made waves and some great bars to whip up a Piña Colada. If I knew how to surf i would definietly have given it a try, but i’ll save that for next time.

Sentosa Surfer

We spent quite a large part of our visit there just walking around in the rainforest. The wildlife isn’t that impressive if you compare it to bigger, more genuine rainforests, but in comparison to sweden it’s quite exotic, plus, if you’re not into hiking it’s a great introduction to the greener parts of Asia. If you’re lucky (or unlucky) you can encounter monkeys, lizards and the occasional cobra.

Sentosa Rainforest

The island feels very fabricated, but putting that aside you can have a lot of fun. Perfect for a getaway from the stressful city, providing a bit of relaxation and adventure. If you can deal with the tourists and the Disneyland feeling, by any means, indulge!

Sentosa Cargo Ships

Smile! You’re in Manila!

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Arriving in Manila after a full day of exploring Dubai on a night flight where I managed to sleep exactly 0 hours. Hungry, thirsty and a severe case of jet lag, the mood could be better. Off to find a bathroom after a surprisingly fast baggage claim, I am greeted by a man excessively waving and smiling as enter the restrooms. Inside I’m greeted with a hearty ”Good morning, Sir” ”Welcome to Manila, Sir” delivered with one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen. The day just got a little bit better.

Minutes later we’re rushing trough traffic on a cab-ride that make you’re stomach feel like you’re on a rollercoaster ride the night after a serious binge. The brightly colored  jeepney’s, tricycles, busses, pedestrians, all try to make it way trough a steaming rush-hour Manila. The driver speaks rapidly about tips on the city like it’s the last day on earth. I try to scribble some tips down on but it’s hard to keep up with the pace of the driver non-stop talking and constant banging on the horn, all while trying to navigate the dense traffic. For an hour we go on and on about traveltips, Tagalog-for-dummies, veganism, while trying my best to keeping my ”hindu-vegan-airplane-breakfast” from coming back up again.

We arrive at the hostel after an hour of driving, all limbs intact. The thick, moist, air of metro Manila hits us like wall. A mixed scent of greenhouses, soil and pollution is ever present. Crossing the street after we get out of the cab seems to be quite an accomplishment in itself. The traffic scene in Manila is far from great, crossing the street is more of the ”keep-your-fingers-crossed” kind since proper road-crossings and traffic light are pretty much non existing.

The hostel in Quezon City was far from glamourous. Located in one of the poorer regions of Manila. With a construction site and rooster farm as our closest neighbors we we’re in for quite an experience. We had booked a room with private bathroom, but I’m not sure if it constitutes as a bathroom. Lacking basics as sink, toiletseat, toiletpaper (not a single sheet available throughout the hostel) but complete with bucket, faucet and a large plastic spoon, it was pretty hardcore.

For obvious reasons we ended up leaving early next morning for Makati, where we found an excellent accommodation for a decent price. Makati felt like paradise compared to the previous hostel.

After been spending a week in a slightly more upscale hostel, the Quezon stay had proven to be an important experience in exposing us to the local differences that makes up Manila. Just when you think you got the city figured out it throws you off guard and you’re back where you started. You may be walking down the streets of downtown Makati with upscale hotels, luxurious malls, fashionable restaurants then turn down a side street and be met by people living on the streets, stray dogs and rooster and street stalls.

Enough writing

Time to get lost in the streets again…

Manila Street Photography

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Tue Nov 21 01:45:37 2017
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