Could you imagine a cave so big, so high – or – deep, a skyscraper could fit in. Hang Son Doong is considered the biggest cave in the world with a height of 250 meters and a length of 9 kilometers. This cave is located in Phong Nha-K Bàng national park, Quang Binh province, Vietnam. Next to the facts that the cave has big halls and a fast-flowing river, it has also a tropical rain forest growing 400 meters deep. This giant has been around for millions of years but has been discovered by a local jungle man in 1991 and was recently discovered by British cavers in 2009.
The world still has hidden treasures, be kind to it (:. Bucket list material!
Watch this amazing video of the cave with its hidden forest and strange creatures. (Video of BBC)
And if you’re excited now, watch an episode of National Geographic.
My second job is in home care, most of the time it´s for the elderly. I don´t have fixed addresses or working hours. I just contact the planner and tell her when she can use me. Lately I´ve set my self available a lot. Trying to scrape some extra money before our trip (just 48 days left!!). It’s tiring but I do meet a lot of people doing this.
This time I’ve met another old lady, 93 years old to be specific. She lives in a small village nearby where I live. It’s a 30 minute ride with my bike, since I have no car. Either way, I didn’t mind that day because the sun was shining and it’s finally getting warmer in the Netherlands. After a sunshine filled trip through the middle of nowhere I arrived at her floor level apartment. She welcomed me inside and told me to sit down. She asked me how I was doing and she was just so enthusiastic. We talked for a bit and then I asked her what she wanted me to do in the 1,5 hour I had at her home. ‘Just clean the windows outside and we’ll see if we have time left to vacuum. When do you want to drink some coffee?’ she answered. I told her we’d drink some coffee after I cleaned the windows. So I did. It took me 15 to 20 minutes. After I cleaned all the windows, I made us some coffee and grabbed some cookies to eat. She wanted to sit outside because the weather was so good. There we were, sitting in the sun looking at the road and drinking coffee. I had no idea that time of how old she was. She just told me that she can’t see a lot with 1 eye and that she has problems with balance.
‘You’re still able to do a lot of things, I guess you always took good care for your body right?’ It was my first ‘interview’ question for her
‘Oh yes.’ she said. ‘I lived on a farm, my eldest brother died young and that was when I became the ‘chief’. I was the one taking care of a lot of things around our farm.’
‘On a farm, did you also eat a lot of the food you had on your land?’
‘YES!’ A big yes came out of her mouth. Like it was weird if I thought different. She told me that they had never been to the bakery or any butcher’s shop. Always their own food. She went on and said: ‘We only got water to drink. And sometimes if we had visitors we could drink some lemonade. We had no candy and stuff. The culture was different. It was no trend to eat stuff like that, besides we didn’t have that much sweet stuff.’
Our conversation went on and we agreed that you can set a big question mark at a looot of products these days. ‘I don’t really trust those companies, neither the quality marks. People are corrupt and lazy these days’ she said. Corruption and laziness have always been around but she means that it has transformed in modern ways. That even food isn’t ‘pure’ anymore, all the artificial ingredients they add.
A final tip from this lady: ‘Don’t contaminate yourself with this crap, try to eat healthy. I always ate the Dutch farmer food. And meat. Everyday a slice of meat. I have taken care of my body by hard work and good food.’ That was pretty much where I found out how old she was. 93, still walking good, cooking, cleaning.. wauw.
’93 Years old.. Do you remember a lot of World War II?’
‘My dear, I remember it as if it was yesterday. Black pages in history.. Bad times.’
‘What exactly do you remember if I may ask? Horrible things like shootings and murder?’
‘Sad enough I did. I lived on a farm as you already know. I was washing something when I heard it was war. A lot of people had a bomb shelter, so did we and that’s where we spent most of the time.
And yes, I have seen horrible things. I remember our neighbor. He went out of his bomb shelter to get some food inside. He got shot trying to do that..’
I asked her: ‘By who? By the German?’ She answered: ‘I think so, but to be honest it could have been anyone with a gun. In a wild shooting like that, partner and enemy didn’t care who they shot.’ ‘The German of that time were merciless. They burnt a school and a lot of houses. Just because they could, or maybe because there were people in those houses fighting them. They went through all bombing shelters, looking for the enemy. I don’t like fights, all these fights going on in the world… And for what? Probably money and power. It’s sad.’
A half hour further I did some quick cleaning in the house because she wanted to show me her photo books. She showed me where she had been. Traveled to Japan, Egypt and she even went on a bike trip through The Netherlands two times at the age of 60+. No surprise she’s still this fit.
After browsing through her photo books, I realised that I had to leave so I grabbed my bag and showed her my bag. I told her it was a present from friends, they just got back from Ghana. It’s a handmade backpack made of different kinds of colorful fabric. She just loved it and wanted one for her granddaughter.
The story behind this backpack: A sister of a friend of mine had a relationship with a really nice and honest man from Ghana. They broke up a few years ago but the whole family is still in contact with him. He makes wonderful bags, instruments, sculptures and a lot more of unused items. He uses car tires for example. Ghana doesn’t really get a lot of tourists so his incomes are minimal. But the wonderful part is that he’s trying to build a polyclinic for kids. He buys 1 brick if he can from his profits for this clinic and for a own house!
I’m planning on making a feature about his products or even an Ebay/Etsy account to help him with this. I have always doubted charities. Not because they’re bad, but just because you have no idea where your money is going. Now I know where it’s going, I’ve met him a couple of times when he was in The Netherlands and besides.. you get really cool stuff in return!
This was another inspiring day. I was touched by her stories, how she lost her husband, how she nursed him for 10 years, how she lost a son, how her vision in life is and her enthusiasm.
Think about what’s in the products you buy, are they good for you? Cherish your family. Stay active and eat healthy. Last but not least, enjoy the things you CAN do!
Let me tell you about this series of stories I’m going to share with you. As you know – or may not know – Vincent and I are going on a Asia-trip this summer and we want a professional camera (to treat you to some eye candy). I’m currently working a lot and Vincent is keeping his school grades high. These are the main reasons why we aren’t that active anymore. So, this new concept ‘Interesting people I meet’ is to share the stories that people tell to me. I have met a lot of people this year- especially because I have been working 4 jobs!
Meet ‘travelling grandma’ a kind woman trying on some pants and a blouse. After a few minutes the conversation went to Madrid. She told me she just got back and how much she loved Madrid. A good place to shop and the food is good and cheap in the centre of the city. So I told her how much I loved to travel and that I am planning to go to Asia. The conversation turned global after that. The travelling grandma started to tell me she has seen the whole continent, and China. The travelling grandma said: ‘You must visit the 3 big cities Hongkong, Shanghai and Beijing júst to see the differences between them. Oh and I LOVED Vietnam. It has so much history and the food is so good.’
If you love the sweet-sour flavour, it’s the country for you!
‘Where else have you been?’
After she told me about her Asian and Chinese adventures I asked her about other continents. I was curious, has she been there? She told me she has seen it all. All continents and almost all countries. The travelling grandma said: ‘Venezuela is really pretty too by the way and the food is good, I just love food I guess’.
‘Did you travel alone and if you did, how did you manage all of that?’
‘You know, back in the days it was a lot easier to travel. The traditions were different, the people were different. And yes, I have always travelled on my own. With a backpack’ she told me. ‘I just asked people some questions, started a conversation and most of them were like: Ahh do you already have some place to eat? Come, come, come meet my family. So, that’s basically how I found a place to sleep. Plain simple just like that, the old way. No fancy internet stuff.’
‘The people you have met, have you ever seen them or spoken to them again?’
‘Well, some of them. It’s impossible to stay in contact with all those people, especially without internet and cellphones. But there is 1 special girl. I have met her in an African country, she had been abused and hit by several men on the streets. I have financially supported her, she’s in university now’.
That.. is just amazing.
The travelling grandma advised me to travel soon: ‘I’m afraid that it won’t be that easy to travel in the future. There is so much war and negativity going on these days’. ‘Oh and just go and talk to people, don’t be afraid. There are a lot of good people in this world. Spread your word. I mean, don’t seek for the bad people of course.Those exist too.’ The travelling grandma told me that she has her own foundation in South America to help young people to go to school. Sad enough I forgot the name of her foundation.
Last but not last I asked her how old she was. First she told me I had to guess, I had no idea of course. ‘Maybe 55?’ I guessed. She started laughing ‘NOO, I am 70 years old!!’ I was stunned. She didn’t look 70 at all. When I thought she outstunned me, she told me that there was 1 thing that she wanted to do before she wanted to stop travelling. ‘My final adventure is going to be an expedition in Antarctica’.
A 70 year old travelling grandma wanting to explore the extreme arctic continent. She made me think of a Dutch 69 year old man, featured in the April issue of Salt magazine. A die-hard when it comes to extreme travelling. His next adventure was also going to be an arctic expedition, but with a sparkle of extreme: during the arctic winter.
I hope I´ve inspired you to get more out of life than ´this dull society´ offers you, explore nature. Smile about the little things, travel more and travel green.
A friend of mine asked me to help him with a schoolproject. The project was to make a video with a background music and the rest was up to the students. My part in the video was to act in it. But we still needed a second and male actor who was going to play my boyfriend in the video. Who’s a better boyfriend than my own? So Vincent agreed to play with me in the video. That’s how it all started.
Let me tell you the short story of the video.
A girl and a boy are very happy together, but you see flashes of the girl crying. You don’t know why she’s crying until the end. You’d think that she’s crying because her boyfriend has been shot by a man. But in reality, she’s the one that’s been shot.
The shots where the girl is in a creepy attic are shot in a ghosttown called Doel. Doel is in Belgium and next to a nuclear power station. The small town has been threatened by industrial growth such as the nuclear power station, it isn’t a great backyard view either. These are one of the reasons why a lot of people moved to other places. Doel had 359 inhabitans in 2007 and now it’s probably around 80-100. The die-hards that refuse to leave this town. And despite of all the die-hards, more than half of the houses are uninhabited. This is the perfect place for graffiti artists, junkies, gangs and drug dealers.
It is is prohibited to enter a house, you can get arrested for that. We entered several houses though… But now we found or spot. The door was already broken..sort of, we just walked in.
There in the attic, where it was REALLY cold (-3 Celsius , I sat for about 2 hours on a chair. Now -3 Celsius is not extremely cold, but believe me it is pretty cold when you’re only wearing blouse.. So we were filming there for about 2 hours, some photographers even came in to check it out, when suddenly we heard a women’s voice: “HERE THEY ARE! HEY YOU, GET OUT OF HERE! THE POLICE ARE COMING”. And we immediately grabbed all our stuff and I was like, CRAP I have to put on some warm clothes first. I couldn’t go running around the street with only a white blouse.
After we grabbed our stuff we went outside where we saw 2 photographers, 2 other men and the woman who screamed at us. The woman was definitely angry. We found out that she and her husband were responsible for the buildings. They still lived in Doel and if they see that a door is open they call the police. The woman was furious but her husband was pretty cool. He saw we weren’t bad people. Besides, we understand why they had to do it. He told us stories about Polish gangs shooting each other in the ghost town, about junkies etc.
The police arrived, we showed our ID’s and it was all fine. We told the police that we didn’t open the door. Which we kind of did open. But we had the 2 photographers who told that the door was wide open while we were inside. The woman wasn’t that amused as I told you before, she kept screaming things like “THANKS FOR RUINING OUR SUNDAY!!‘, ”DON’T TALK TO THEM (HUSBANDS NAME) THEY ARE IDIOT PEOPLE”.
We still had to do 1 more shot… We weren’t aloud to get in anymore.. But the man told us that we could get in anywhere if we’d let them know first. There is also a site for that if you’re interested: www.Doel2020.org
Back to the point. The police incident was nothing special and we were free to go again. A few days later we went back to ask if we could shoot the last things. It was no problem so he opened the door and we finished the job.
Enjoy the video made by second year students of Grafisch Lyceum Rotterdam and Dutch Motion Design (www.dutchmotiondesign.nl).
- Johanna & Vincent
OAT shoes – The green kicks of the future? OAT shoes are sneakers made of biodegradable materials. OAT shoes wants you to choose green and still be stylish. Two words that can be hard to combine for a lot of people. That’s why they choose to take the first step.
Make sure to check it out for that green friend of yours, or a gift from you to you?
Tony´s Chocolonely still contains delicious Fairtrade chocolate from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. But have you ever noticed the shape of their chocolate bars? There isn’t anything unusual if you look at a wrapped Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate bar. It reveals itself when you unwrap it. You will see that the chocolate bar is divided in uneven pieces.
Have you ever wondered why? Well, Tony’s wants to make clear to all chocolate-lovers that the incomes in the chocolate world are still unevenly divided. The cocoa farmer only receives 5% of the sales price. This inequality results in poverty, child labor and slavery. Tony’s Chocolonely has a mission, to raise awareness for this issue and 100% slave-free chocolate in the business.
From my notebook
“… Today isn’t really about valentines day, it’s about something I truly realized today. I pretty much realized that all I see, all my experiences are big gifts. This ‘gap year’ I’m having is giving me so much to learn from. To learn, to enjoy.
It takes a simple couple, married for 52 years, to make me smile and enjoy life with its roads. There are so many people out there and they all have different stories.
And I love to listen to those stories.
How they’re made.
How life made them.
How they made life.
What in life, their lives, makes them sparkle while they talk about it?
What makes you sparkle?
I never wanted an ordinary ‘normal’ life. But what is an ordinary life?
Isn’t life as ordinary as you want life to feel?
It perfectly fits my thoughts.
p.s. No love – real love – is ordinary
2nd day of Christmas? Yes it does exist! Well.. Here in The Netherlands it does.
Quickly sharing the result of our creative hour. We wrapped candy bars in different colors of crepe paper, in different layers. With this DIY we managed to make a pikachu and a ‘Chinese man’.
Our little gifts to Vincent his brother and sister.
We haven’t been updating our blog very often because we’re busy realizing our goals for the new year. Still we’d like to wish you all happy holidays and especially to spread your smile around.
We’re thinking out loud:
See the invisible people, especially now
Spread your smile, it can make someone’s day!
New goals for 2013?
And at last, happy holidays! Enjoy it all
- Vincent & Johanna
Just surfing around and I found this picture I like. Think out loud.
Ever heard of Anjali Appadurai? If you haven’t heard of her yet, let me introduce her. Anjali Appadurai is a student at The College of the Atlantic and a spokesperson of the youth.
She’s pretty awesome, she managed to address all the senior delegates at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change and speech in front of the world. In her speech she mentioned the reality, facts about global issues like poverty and climate change. The reality that is happening in front of our eyes.
‘The window to avoid irreversible climate change is closing in 5 years’
But sad enough, some of the influential members didn’t want to hear these facts and see the reality. This is why Anjali was kicked out at this year’s conference in Doha, Qatar.
Stay tuned, spread the word and be the change.
Here is a fresh and new blog about young people changing the world!
THIRD UPDATE: December 1, 2012 Doha, Qatar. Anjali Appadurai, leading spokesperson for youth is readmitted to COP18. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), today intervened on behalf of Ms. Appadauri and reissued her credentials to allow her full participation in the conference. The UN Climate Change Conference now going on in Doha, Qatar was the scene of considerable tension because of her ejection. She is considered by many the youth voice for civil society following her dramatic speech at the previous conference which received world-wide attention and acclaim. Ms. Appadurai was relieved to be able to rejoin the other delegates to work on behalf of the issues she and so many other youth, who she represents, feel so deeply. Throughout the intense pressure she remained calm, marshaling her support so that top UN officials would agree to the youth pleas. Much more will surely be heard from this courageous and passionate young person.
SECOND UPDATE: Doha, Qatar 11/29/2012. Following her ejection from the UN Climate Change Conference COP18, Anjali Appadurai, known by many as the youth voice of civil society, has remained cool and poised even amidst intimidation attempts by security officials. A polite letter has been sent to top UN officials demanding her re-admittance by Friday. The widespread anger among youth over her ouster, both at the conference and around the globe, indicate that if she is not readmitted with all rights that further actions can be expected. CB
UPDATE: Doha, Qatar November 27, 2012 As this year’s United Nations Conference on Climate Change opens, Anjali Appaduria, the student who got world-wide acclaim for her forceful speech to the delegates, has been ejected from the conference.
The speech that started it all…
Adding to the irony of this action, following her speech in South Africa at last year’s session, the presiding officer asked the question why was her speech representing half of the world’s population (the youth) given the last slot to speak and not the first. In a conference where most observers predict that the major powers will not permit meaningful cuts, today’s ejection of a key youth speaker reinforces the likelihood of a dismal outcome. How youth will respond to this effort to quiet their voice, cannot yet be predicted, but may prove interesting. Stay tuned. CB
Few students could imagine speaking at a United Nations Conference on Climate Change with thousands of delegates from all over the world, but that is exactly what Anjali Appadurai, a student from a small college in Maine did. And her
Anjali Appadurai, “Deep cuts now. Get it done!”
speech bluntly called out the failures of the adult delegates to agree on meaningful solutions saying, “You have been negotiating all of my life.” Speaking for half the world population who are young, she admonished, “Deep cuts now. Get it done.”
At the conclusion of her powerful address, the presiding officer said that her speech should have been scheduled earlier in the conference. Listen to her short but forceful speech and then click on an interview TakingOnTheGiant.com had with Anjali about how she got there and what is next for her. And she adds, “One of the great gifts of participating in the UN forum you meet a wonderful network of young people who are passionate, energetic, real go-getters.”(Please excuse the lip sync problems. We’ll get better.) There are also links below for the complete in depth interview and other related links. TOTG would like to hear your comments.
Click below for our interview with Anjali
If you are interested in seeing the complete in depth interview click the two links below:
Following the interview, Anjali emailed this note: I have followed up with other youth in the climate realm and they have confirmed that youth who are interested in getting involved with this process may join this Google group: http://groups.google.com/group/UNFCCC_youth
The group that launched Anjali is: Earth in Brackets – College of the Atlantic
The blog for Earth in Brackets is: http://www.earthinbrackets.org/blog
- Vincent & Johanna
Could you ever imagine that you never had a single gift in your entire life?
Well, this happens daily to a number of kids that you can’t imagine. Kids that don’t even have pen and paper, kids that can’t brush their teeth, kids…that can’t…and so on…
In our younger years when we were still in elementary school we had these projects once a year. The project was about filling and decorating a shoe box, sent to kids all over the world that never had a gift before.
So along the years, we forgot about this, but a few weeks ago Johanna noticed a article in our local newspaper about that same project. It turned out that it was not a must to be in elementary school for entering. After imagining how happy we would be with a gift we decided to make one ourselves.
This was the content of our shoebox for a girl between 10-14:
- hair pins
- toothpaste and a toothbrush
- a towel
- lots of stuffed animals
- some toys
- school supplies
After wrapping everything up we went our way to the collecting point. Here we discovered a huge amount of other shoeboxes. This made us feel a little more useful.
We hope that we made you wonder about doing this yourself. You can search about projects like this in your area or maybe start one yourself! The only thing you have to do is, make some time, search for some stuff and pay something like 5 euro for shipping-costs.
A small action that creates lots of happiness
Don’t be afraid to share some of your wealth
Johanna & Vincent
All this is happening before our eyes, and yet we act as if we have all the time we want and all the solutions
Just watch and think for a moment. She’ll make you wonder (:
- Vincent & Johanna
Hey guys! Just a reminder to vote for Good & Green guides. Last chance to vote! (:
Please help my uncle winning an important sustainability award, he founded good & green guides and It is currently nominated for a local sustainability prize. (http://www.goodandgreenguides.com/ , Good & Green Guides are sustainable travelguides that show inhabitants and tourists how to enjoy a city and at the same time taking care for people and the environment.)
Please support this awesome initiative by doing the following
1. go to:
2. Like “yes we care”
3. vote for “good & green guides”
- Vincent & Johanna
The End (& some random pictures from the whole trip)
August 11 & 12 – The last day for some of us. Some participants had to leave early or had an early flight. Today we enjoyed the last moments together and made plans to see each other again some day. Gifts and phone numbers were exchanged and some wrote messages for each other on shirts etc.
Anna was the first to leave and some shed tears. A new friendship felt so old and trusted.
Last pictures were made and we helped Anna with her luggage to the other side of the bridge. The exit of our island, our camp..
After a sad ‘see you soon’ – and not a ‘goodbye’- we continued packing and reminiscing our adventures together. Before we even noticed it was already evening and that meant: Time for the BBQ! We heard something vague that our host parents would be coming too. That made us even more excited but when it was time for the BBQ we were very disappointed again in the organisation. Because not all host parents knew they could come. So only some host parents came…
On the bright side, Urban came! You know Urban, the man who was with us when we went camping.
Staying up all night
Knowing that some of us had to leave in the middle of the night, we stayed up to say goodbye. At least some of us did. I was one of them.
When I said goodbye to Ioana, going back to Romania, I couldn’t sleep anymore. Did I even sleep? I can’t even remember because I was wandering through rooms, looking who’s still up.
Now I couldn’t sleep I just went to the water and had a zen-moment. A moment of peace. Everything was so quiet and I enjoyed the last bits of Swedish fresh air I could breath. I walked around our small island again, for the last time.
Checked everything for the last time and my bags were full and packed. It was time for breakfast.
The remaining group was devided in 3 shifts. The first shift left at 7, the second at 9 and the last shift at 11. I was part of the last shift, so I could wave everyone goodbye. But it felt pretty .. sad I guess. Like you’re one of the last humans alive hahaha. All the vibrant energy has left the island.
We arrived at Gävle, the town where I stayed with my host family. Now our last shift-group was split up in two because we all had different train tickets with different times.
In Sweden you have to reserve your train ticket and you have a seat number.
Just like in airplanes and I have to admit, their trains are super clean and modern. It’s probably working. But now I was alone with Carl and he had a different seat number so we gave our seat away to a mother with 3 children who wanted to sit next to each other.
We just sat in the hallway with our luggage.
At the airport we bumped in to some of our camp friends! They hadn’t left yet. PLUS Hakan was flying to Istanbul but he had a stop in Amsterdam first, so he was in our flight!
And guess what, he had the seat next to me in the plane.
His plan was to discover Amsterdam before his other plane left to Istanbul. When I looked at his tickets I told him he had exactly a half hour before his second plane started boarding.
His reaction was: “Whaaaat?” ‘Nooooo’.
I already suggested Vincent and I could tour him around Amsterdam because Vincent was picking me up anyway with the car. Now it would be impossible.
Carl, Hakan and I stepped out of the arrival gates after we gathered our luggage.
All I saw was a busy crowd of people waiting for someone. I couldn’t see Vincent. So we walked through the crowd when suddenly Vincent jumped behind me, he gave me a big hug and just didn’t let go.
Carl left with his father and Vincent and I decided to give Hakan the half our Dutch tour, through the airport yes. He bought some souvenirs and we dropped him off at his gate and went home.
As you can see new friendships were born. I discovered that all participants are different, from other countries and cultures, but we are all the same in a certain way. Peace.
Personally that was the best part of this whole experience.
‘We’re all different but we’re all the same’
August 10 – YARRRR off to the train museum lads! Oh wait.. that’s for pirates right? Well, pirates are kind of cool though… okay now back to the subject.
Our last activity organized by the camp was a visit to the train museum. We really didn’t know what to expect from it, just a museum with trains and stuff.
The group started walking to the museum with no idea how long it was going to be. We first walked through less-middle-of-nowhere-area but then we started to walk through bushes and small paths. Next to the paths were some train rails so we figured we’d be near the museum.
After a 5 km walk we finally arrived at a small building. A building like that couldn’t be a train museum. Behind the small building were some other smaller buildings, old and neglected. Now we were wondering: what are we doing here? There were some pick-nick tables in front of the building, next to the train rails, where we sat down and looked at the small train on the rails.
A man suddenly appeared and he told us to split the group in two and that we had to hop on his ride, his little train. So a few of us hopped on the train and we went for a small ride through the Swedish greenery. It was like a 10 minute ride and when we got back it was the turn of group 2.
We waited, threw some rocks in the water next to the house. The sun was shining bright and it was warm. With this lovely weather we had a small fika when the group was complete again, we got some lemonade and kanelbulle (cinnamon rolls).
Is this it?
Some of us got pretty frustrated because a lot of activities were so short or not even activities. No time for nagging though, we only had 2 days to go so we quickly started fun conversations and made funny videos.
We enjoyed the rest of the day in the sun but unfortunately they didn’t tell us that we were staying at the ‘museum’ till 4 in the afternoon. Really? From 10 to 4? Bummer…
The ‘museum’ wasn’t a museum as I already told you. It was more like an ancient highway restaurant. But we did get some pancakes for lunch though.. everybody likes pancakes. It’s international love.
After a day of doing nothing, exploring the area and sitting by the water we finally walked back 5 km to our base camp. We were lucky it was still a bit warm so some went swimming at the base camp.
The following evening and night was hilarious. Katarina, Nazlican, Anna-sara and I asked if we could do some groceries for the night. Our camp chief her husband agreed to drive us to the nearest village/town. Böllnas was the name of the town. We did some groceries for the group and some groceries for ourselves for the trip back to our own country again. The group didn’t really know about this.
After some hours we started gathering everyone in the attic for a party. We had some coke, popcorn and more sweets. But of course it wasn’t enough for the whole evening/night.
The music worked and we had a kind of party, but after a while the sweets were all eaten and the coke bottles were empty. Party over? Nahh… let’s just fake shots and alcohol. Hilarious for a moment, this just shows how funny and crazy the group was. We went to sleep afterwards though, with a few exceptions that kept on chilling through the night.
August 9 – It was now just a matter of time, we headed towards the end of this trip. With no more activities planned for the following days we got bored after a while. Of course all the people were great, but after a while you want something to do. Some new action, you know. By now we’ve had tons of swimming trips and trips in the canoe. Even if it was cold we still went in the water.
This day wasn’t that interesting. We got pretty bored so some of the girls decided to have some girl time. You know, make-up and dresses. So some of us showed up really dressed up at dinner. We even got an applause hahaha..
The sun started to set and it was the perfect time for photos. A small photo shoot started with Katarina and me, when suddenly everybody was all dressed up and everyone was taking pictures of everyone. It ended as a fun night and afterwards we went to the attic to listen to ridiculously loud music.
A few minutes ago we signed up for a GoPro contest. It’s about winning $10.000 dollar , 2 GoPro cameras and some other stuff. They want you to send in what you would do with all of this. Next up, the idea we had worked out in exactly 100 words, because that was the limit… ):
‘The seven roads to the Tree of Life’ a movie about the roads Johanna and I will walk in different countries. Seven because of our life quote “Go Be Share Smile Feel Love Do”. We would travel as cheap as possible to save money, invest in others to have and give experiences to whom that can’t afford it. DO 1 extreme thing in each area. SHARE and learn from cultures, SMILE for happiness. FEEL for what you live and LOVE what this world offers. BE GOpro: nothing will stop us; a film through Air, Sea, Land. Simply through every element.
Now we have to pray until the 9th of November. That’s the date they will announce the winner.
Hoping, wishing, waiting (:
August 8 – After an evening of music and a night of not trying to sleep, ghost stories and everyone wandering around, we woke up early in the morning, stil thinking about our pretend-club-party in the woods with Rihanna on the background, to clean the tents and to pack. But before the cleaning, we first ate some breakfast. We longed for the return now but I guess we all learned a lot and had fun.
A hot shower would be great instead of the cold river water. With cold I mean, COLD. Especially in the morning when it’s like winter when you should wear a thick sweater, socks, pants instead of bathing in your swim suit. Glad that it wasn’t that cold during the day though.
With upcoming colds we started to clean and pack the tents. We succeeded this in a small amount of time with the help of everybody. After all of the cleaning, we had to help to get refrigerators (in the cabin of Urban) and other heavy stuff on the hill. The bus arrived and Johannes and I rushed down the hill to thank Urban and his kids for the last time on behalf of the whole group. Goodbye camping, goodbye Vinströmmarna.
Back at our base camp, most of us went straight to their room after the luggage chaos waiting for the showers to be free. After some rest, a good shower and food we slowly started to gather outside. We were back pretty early and it was free time for the rest of the day, no activities planned. Sitting on the deck, not really doing something made us bored. It was clear we needed something to express ourselves, loose some energy and have fun. Being adventerous – and bored – as we were, we started walking to the ‘supermarket’ nearby. It’s was a 2/3 km walk for a 2 meter shop… well not really but it was really small.
On our way to the supermarket I picked some small strawberries and blueberries from the bushes together with Nazlican (Turkey), Anna-Sara (Sweden), Katarina (Slovenia) and Pete (Germany). Soon it started to get too girly for Pete, imagine the conversations and his face haha.
Food, photos, walking & and enjoying the fresh air.
We came back at the camp and suddenly everyone wanted to go to the supermarket. So we went again, having fun and picking small strawberries again …. until someone told me: ‘Don’t eat that here on the side of the road, people do their toilet times on the side of roads here in Sweden’.
Wait… What did I just hear? Aaand I dropped all of my strawberries and told myself nobody did their toilet times on my – already eaten – strawberries.
August 7 - After 17 hours of spotting bears, we finally returned to our camp around 9.00 in the morning. We just missed the rest of the group, we drove by the river and we saw them just climbing in their canoes, a canoe trip in duo teams. Our group had some time to rest till 15.00. That was also the time when the other groups were done with their activity. They didn’t had as much luck as we did during the canoe trip because it was raining the whole day.
Dinner was at 17.00 and the group was almost complete. The last group (Lodjur/Lynx) left earlier for the bear safari, good luck to them! They were a bit unlucky because the next day the camping adventure would be over and everything had to be cleaned.
Anyway, in the evening the björn (bear) group went beaver spotting, Varg (wolf) group had music entertainment and our group was going for a trip with a Tornparn.
A Torparn is actually a man that rides a horse with a kind-of-cabin behind it, you know like in medieval times. It was an old man, telling stories about how it was some years ago, about the first train in the neighborhood.
He didn’t speak English but our teammate Anna-Sara was Swedish so she translated everything.
The man told us about politics and about the wolves in the north, that the wolves are terrorizing the farmers and that the farmers are aloud to shoot them. This is a political issue in Sweden. The government and most of the people in the south don’t want wolves, bears etc. to be killed by farmers because they are worried that some species will be in danger. But the man from the north said that the people in the south didn’t know where they were talking about. They live in bigger cities and don’t know how it is, that he’s living from his herd and his farm. Kind of a Swedish discussion between north and south, young and old.
We even went on the ‘big road’, but there was no car to see. It was so weird for some of us. Some highways in Sweden are just 2 roads, 1 for each way! And almost no cars… at least in the middle of Sweden. Not sure about the south, it’s more crowded down there. Another thing that was quite remarkable was the horse of the Torparn. It listened so good. Every time the man said ‘Hej da’ the horse started to walk. Hej da means bye in Swedish, by the way.
The horse was obviously smart and listened well to the man. They were buddies since the horse was young. He told us nice stories, not so nice stories (like he had cancer) and old Swedish memories. Inspiring man, especially because he is so old and still does a lot around his farm.
The end of the trip was near, but we stopped somewhere for some typical Swedish food. It actually looked like a Dutch thing, we call it: wentelteefjes. It’s bread dipped in eggs, milk, baked and sprayed with sugar on top. His wife was the one who made it all, and we also got some tea.
Suddenly, a man appeared on the top of the hill. He started to make music from a horn, can’t remember the animal but something like a male goat. He showed us later his instrument and he made it all himself.
How nice was that!
August 6 - Today it was time for the bear safari (Björnsafari in Swedish). It was our turn to be locked up for 17 hours. First, I’ll explain what the bear safari exactly means.
The bear safari is simply said just spotting bears for 17 hours in a small spotting cabin.
Every group was divided (girls/boys) and 1 staff member.
But the bear safari wasn’t untill 16.00 and the day already started at 6.00 in the morning for us. We started the day with fishing (Fiske in Swedish) at 10.00 and around 12 we ate some lunch. After lunch we started fishing again for another 2,5 hours. It was getting kind of boring now. We fished at a big lake, at walking distance from our camp. At the lake, we explored its surroundings and we started the fishing by looking for the best spot. That meant walking around the lake untill there was a nice spot.
My first spot caused some funny moments. Of course it was my fishing rod that got caught in some branches, that led to some hilarious attempts to get it out of the water. Eventually, Mert (Istanbul) got in the water and saved the day. His pants were all wet though, but he didn’t mind! Thanks again Mert.
It was all fun and well, but after a few hours we got bored. I guess the fish didn’t like us. So we just enjoyed the sun and had a nice day.
After the fishing, it was time for dinner again. At least, for my group because we were going on the bear safari. Dinner 3 hours after lunch.. pff. But we had to eat because we weren’t going to eat a decent meal for at least 17 hours. When we finished dinner it was time to leave. We packed our stuff, brought some cards, our sleeping bags and water. The van was full and we left for the safari. It was a 1 hour drive and suddenly our van stopped. The man who organized these safaris was there to pick us (the girls) up. He told us to go in his car because we were staying at a different spot than the boys. Urban’s wife was going to be our babysitter. After a short drive and a walk, we arrived at our 17-hour home. It was really small and painted in army colours.
There was no normal toilet, talking loud wasn’t aloud ánd no going out. This is going to be fun I thought, especially the no-toilet part. Our ‘small home’ had a big wooden ‘bed’ with some mats on them, to ease the pain for your behind probably. Furthermore, some small closets, books, pictures and some more junk. Short said, it was too small for four people. You couldn’t really stand, except if you’re short like me…hehe.
The bear spotting cabin is also used by nature & animal photographers.Because of that, there were photograph holes under the 4 small windows. The holes were round and you could close them. These holes are ment for long photo lenses, so that the photographers can get the perfect shots.
The windows were specially made for cabins like this and suitable for pictures. By the way, there are holes in these cabins for the cameras, BUT it was like 30 degrees (celcius) in there. So you can imagine how hot it was and it the night it was pretty cold.
How to get those bears to the cabin
This was an important question to ask. We were told not to talk loud etc. because the Swedish bears are mostly scared of humans. So if they hear a slight movement or noise, they run. The bears know that humans can kill them.
One way to attract the bears is to put honey on the trees in front of the cabin. Another way is to leave meat near the cabin.
What did we do for 17 hours? I think I can speak for everyone: sleep. The first few hours we stared outside, played some cards and we whispered a bit. Slowly it started to get dark and there was less to see. I fell asleep around 12 and woke up at 3, stared at the window for a while and fell asleep again. After that I woke up again around 6 and all the others also woke up slowly. It was 8.00 - August 7 - when we returned to our camp again.
Watch a short video of how I looked like….: No-sound just silence bear safari
No bears were spotted… too bad. For some it was awful, being stuck like that for so long. But I thought it was a special experience.
By the way, it wasn’t that weird that we didn’t get to see any bears. We found out that some of the previous groups did their ‘toilet-times’ outside. That’s like a dog making clear to other animals its his area.
And I already told you guys, these bears are afraid of humans. They won’t come if they know you’re there, especially not when they smell human-pee.
August 5 - Wake up call at 6! Urban woke us with the music of pots and pans. How nice of him.
Frukost (breakfast in Swedish) was from 8 – 9.30. SO, why, why this lovely music early in the morning.. That was what we first thought but no time for nagging.
Björn (bear) came back from their bear-safari and went to sleep, Varg (wolf) went fishing + the bear safari and my group (järv/wolverine) and the Lodjur (lynx) went on a canoe trip again. This time the canoes were for two persons. I was in a canoe with Karl, from Sweden. He was a volunteer for Lions international and helped with the camp.
Paddle, paddle, paddle
It was fun to be in a canoe again, but it was so much harder than in a group. Teamwork was a must, must, MUST. We paddled for 2 hours. It was beautiful and so silent. Karl and I were in ‘second place’, Aurore (France) & Urban’s son (much stronger and older) were in front of us and Anna (Sweden) and Sjoerd (Netherlands) were behind us.
The rest of the group was far, far, faaaar away. I guess some had struggles with their teammate and/or canoe. In the beginning we could still see them. It was quite funny because the teamwork wasn’t that good in some teams. They went from zig-zag, turning around to almost falling in the water.
After a while, when the group was far behind us, we stumbled upon a rocky area and we had to find a way through it, fast.
I decided that we had to go left because the rocks were deeper in the water there. So we could pass more easily. It was a good decision but we still got stuck because of a rock we didn’t see.
After some yelling, pushing and pulling we could paddle again. AND we almost fell in the water. Thank you nature gods for not having a laugh. Anyway, I could really feel it in my arms now after 2 hours of paddling. Just how it should be.
The trip was from 10.00 till 15.00! Around 12 we stopped on a beach and waited for the rest of the group. We were happy when Urban arrived because he had the food! We only had the BBQ with us. The sun was shining, we were sitting in the sand where we ate, drank, laughed and slept for an hour before we started paddling again.
Another 2 hours in the canoe and we finally arrived at our final destination, Karl and I ‘finished’ second and we were quite tired now.
Dinner at 5.30 and my group got some information about the bear safari. In the evening, a guitar player and singer came to our camp and entertained us with music. A campfire, a guitar, music and classic songs.
What a tiring day full of fun!
Exactly a week ago, 4 October, was my (Johanna) birthday.
As sweet as Vincent was, he made a pact with my mother and he waited untill I woke up.
I went dowstairs around 7.30 , finding my living room decorated and a selfmade, awesome cake on the table! Sweet surprise.
Cake (some ingredients: blueberries, melted white chocolate, pancake with nutella)
In the evening we invited my friends to come over for dinner. Vincent and I were the chefs. Well, I was more a co-chef. After some stress and hurry, we started cooking. This stress was caused because Vincent was in school till 17.30 in the afternoon ánd he had to give breakdance lessons to little kids.
I did the groceries while he was teaching. And when he finally got home, he also started doing things in the kitchen. Our friends were coming around 20.30. Guess what, we finally ate at 22.00 But it was well worth it .
Just wanted to share this happy day(&some good food) and I would like to thank everyone, especially Vincent!
August 4 - With packed bags we left our base camp by bus to Vinströmmarna. Vinströmmarna is in the middle of Sweden and about 1/1,5 hour from our base camp. We were excited to go camping!
The group was divided in 4 groups: Björn (bear), Varg (wolf), Järv (wolverine) and Lodjur (lynx). Each group has his own activities, sometimes with another group.
First thing we did was explore the area, our tents and after that we ate lunch. After lunch we settled down in the 5 big tents with our sleeping bags and our bagage. Each group had a tent.
The camp in Vinströmmarna was organized by a man named Urban and his two children helped him.
In the evening the Björn-group went away for the bear safari and all the other groups were going to spot beavers. We were picked up by a mini-bus and dropped in the middle of nowhere next to the river. We were actually cargo, 5 people in the back of the car, without seats. It was actually quite funny.
As we waited for the rest of the group to come, we slowly carried 2 big canoes down to the river. It was really steep and sandy. With us were Urban his two kids to guide us and two young guides for the canoes. Each guide had a canoe and when everyone arrived, we stepped into the canoe with our lifevests.
Everyone had to paddle, and we had to paddle synchronicly! It was funny in the beginning because some of us had to get use to the paddelling.
Our canoe started out right…. yeah not. We immediatly paddled into large branches, hanging over the water. We, in the front, yelled that everyone had to lie down. “LIE DOWN!!, LIE DOWN NOW!”. So we did, well I went down like I was participating in a limbo-dancing contest and because of that I got all the branches scratching my face. We were all wet and we had leaves in our hairs but it was so funny. What a fail haha.
The rest of the trip went smoothly and we became better than the other boat. We were in front the whole time and if they were approaching, someone yelled: ‘winter is coming!!’. You know, like in the game of thrones. We found out that it was an internationally loved show.
Johannes from Denmark sat next to me and he tried to teach me to make sounds with hands. I had to close my hands together, expect my thumbs, and blow into the whole between my thumbs. Well that was funny. I really sucked at it, so I closed my hands and held them against my mouth and I started making monkey noises and so on.
In the far end of the beaver-spotting trip we saw a beaver swimming. You could only hear the nature her silence and we didn’t make a move. As we got closer, the beaver kept on swimming and ‘FLATS’ it was gone. The beaver went under water and used his tail to ‘clap’ the water. It was a sign for the other beavers that danger was approaching.
That was the only beaver we really saw, after that we only saw the tales of two beavers who made the same move. What we did see was a small dam they built, a deer and five white birds that followed us.
Overall, spotting beavers was a fun experience with a lot of singing, silence and nature.
August 3 – Quick-post: A day for our own activities.
Well.. no not really. Do you know the movie: ‘The girl with the dragon tattoo’? It was shot nearby our base camp. We walked with the whole group around the neighborhood, a small town called Segersta. We walked over an old bridge to the place where the girl with the dragon tattoo was filmed. There we walked by a house that was specially made for the movie. Aaaand that was it…
There was nothing more to see, and our camp leader really wanted us to see all of this. It was fun for 15 minutes. Now we went to look for a supermarket. After a while we finally found one! Well the supermarket was not really a supermarket. It was too small to be a real supermarket. Ah well, we found food. So everybody bought some food and after a while we walked back to our base camp.
There was something I missed in Sweden, it was my bike. As an inhabitant of The Netherlands, I MUST have a bike, like everyone else. It’s normal that everyone (most of the people) has a bike to go to school, work etc. It’s just easy… Sjoerd, another Dutch guy, agreed with me. It’s fast, easy, greener than a car and better for long distances.
It was still early, so what did we do the rest of the day? Nothing much. Swim, explore the water some more with the canoe and talk.
We went to the woods nearby our base camp. It was just a 5 minute walk and there were small beaches all around. As we arrived, we saw three guys with their pots, pans, bags and other gear. I thought we were going to cook some plants or something like that. The man, Tomas, introduced himself and the others. He didn’t speak 1 single English word, so another man translated him the whole time. He started with showing us 10 plants. These plants could all be found in the woods and he used them himself. He told us about the plants, where they were good for, why you can use them etc.
Tomas is the kind of man that went on vacation to the woods every year since he was a child. He spent a lot of his life in the woods, so he knew a lot about the plants and the woods.
After he explained us all kinds of things about the plants, we were supposed to remember how they look and seek for them in the woods. Most of us did a pretty good job. We handed them our bags with plants and they were going to make lunch for us, using the plants.
In the mean time, we were making bread. Flour, water, salt and yeast is what we used. But I thought that was too boring. So Anna-Sara (from Sweden) and I, went to look for some blueberries and small strawberries. I smashed all my berries and mixed it with all the bread ingredients.
The result was….. purple. Because my bread was purple, my branch looked like a huge swirly lollipop. The smell was good anyway.
In order to bake the bread, we needed long branches. We sharpened our branches with sharp knives and we were ready to bake! After making the bread, sharpening our branches it was time for a fire. The fire was already made by all the boys, being all manly and stuff.. hilarious.
Using the nature
Fire ants. You know, the ants with the painful sting. The name ‘fire ant’ comes from the fact that their sting feels like you’re burned by fire. Tomas told us that the nest of ants are often near water, moist areas. So you always know there is water around when you see the nest. Quite handy if you’re thirsty and if you’re hungry, you can try to eat the ants too.
‘Lunch is ready!’, three words that made a few run to the fire. The lunch they made us was ready, it was quite good. I only can’t remember what it was. All I know is that they used the plants in it, some as ‘spices’. There was some kind of meat in it and potatoes. That’s all.. yeah the food was in my stomach before I could study it.
When lunch was over, we played a trust/memory game. 2 People, 1 blindfolded. The blindfolded person had to walk for a while, touch something and walk again. Of course the blindfolded person was guided. In the end, the blindfolded person had to guess how he walked and what he touched. Quite fun for 10 minutes! But please no longer… Especially a horror if your teammate is trying to be funny. Like letting you walk down a steep hill, totally blindfolded.
August 1 – The day started with breakfast at 8 and we left with the bus for a new activity. We went to Orbaden, a place near our base camp. We were divided in two groups, in two church boats. It’s called a church boat because in the past, inhabitants of villages rowed church boats to weddings or other services. They used the church boats because there are many lakes in Sweden and small islands. Some of those places are harder to reach and that’s when the church boats came in handy. Even further back in time, the church boats were already used by the vikings. Well.. not as church boats, more like, travel-adventurer-looking for food-to get somewhere-boats.
With teamwork to Orbaden
In order to function, teamwork is a must. Or else you will not be able to get far with a big boat like that. First of all, we had to learn how to work together and move like 1 person. After a while we managed to control the boat pretty well. So the guides on each boat (the guys from a club that made this all possible) wanted to race. It was kind of a tradition. The Flying Dutchman (my team) against the Black Pearl… Yeah we had to give the boat a name. As soon as it all started, everyone got competitive but it stayed fun. The Black Pearl sung pirate songs and we sung Christmas songs.. haha yeah this was on pretty crazy group.
We were not the only ones that started to sing. The guide of the Black Pearl, got his accordion and started singing (I guess) a Swedish song.
We started the race and the Black Pearl won, the second time they lost. Now we rowed for about half an hour and you could really feel it in your arms. Those paddles were huge and the wood made sure your hands knew with what kind of wood they were dealing with. My black pants also started to turn white from all the moving back-and-forth to paddle. All these things weren’t my biggest concerns while rowing, my biggest concern was not to hit the paddle in front of me and not to splash all the water in the boat. Luckily, I had a good relationship with my paddle and it all went good.
Now we almost arrived at the beach but we had to maneuver well through the last part as the sand beneath the water started to ‘rise’. We followed the instructions of our guide. If left had to paddle they did, if right had to paddle, they did. We had all kind of code words for paddling right, left or for words like stop. Feeling like a real viking!
However, we arrived at the small dock of the beach and now it was time to rest. We thanked the guides for the fun (about an hour of paddling). Remarkable was that the guide of the Black Pearl rowed the big boat by himself, back to where we started. Wow.. Strong man.
At the beach we played beach volleyball with almost everyone, we swum, made fun and waited for lunch.
After the call for lunch, we left the beach and walked up one big steep stair. When we finally arrived upstairs, we saw that someone was making pancakes. Swedish pancakes and kind of cheesecake. A Swedish lunch it was! The pancakes were very thick and filled with meat, bacon-ish. It was good but very heavy for the stomach. I had enough with one, a pancake with some home made jam of berries. YUM!
The cheesecake… ehm. Our staff leader, Margaretha made it but nobody liked it.
We had lunch in a wooden cabin. The door wasn’t that big, inside it was very dark but nice. These cabins were already used a long time ago. This made me think of the vikings again. It looked like a viking-cabin.
July 31 - Fishing from land and boat, yeah it sounds fun. Not really if it’s raining aaand yes it was raining ánd it was cold. Nevertheless, we went fishing on our base camp, our little island. The Bollnäs fishing club made sure we got all the fishing equipment we needed. Including the living bait… It didn’t take a long time before the first girl screamed looking at the bait. Now it was time to catch those sharks!! Moving around the island with my fishing gear, I caught 8! Not really shark-ish but it didn’t matter. It was fun.
But the fun didn’t last long after lunch. The weather was still bad and some of us sneaked inside, to a room, and got all cozy.
Going for a boat ride
There was this boat that took 3 people each time to fish. The boat went far, across small pretty islands. But because of the weather, the boat stopped its ‘fish-excursions’.
But it didn’t really matter because almost everyone already went on the boat. Except for me and 5 other people. I was already inside for a while when a man came to us and asked if there were people that hadn’t fished on the boat yet. Well, yes I said. So I asked all the others and some wanted to go and some didn’t. I said yes in the end and guess what, the sun started to shine again!
Aurore from France, Ioana from Romenia and me went on the boat. It was so nice with the sun! I loved the feeling, the sun, a boat and a beautiful view! I’m going to try to describe my view. Do you know the movie scenes where the camera is on a (speed) boat and going really fast towards land or open sea etc.
Imagine that, with a lot of Swedish nature. We went towards mountains, passing small islands and red houses on land. All of this with great speed. I had this titanic feeling, probably because I was in front and saw the whole view. It was so peaceful and quiet. It was a lot of fun, especially because the nose of the boat can ‘jump’ in the air sometimes. We had a lot of luck with that! Oh and I ALMOST caught something. Three time in a row, I guess they were on to me and my fake, colorful, bait.
So far my fishing adventures and this easy, cold, windy day. This fish mama is out.
July 30 -The first ‘real’ day of the camp arrived. We received a schedule for breakfast, lunch, dinner, activities etc. Breakfast was at 8 every single day, so no time for sleep. No exceptions made, breakfast at 8, even the first day. Kungsholmen, our base camp, is also a restaurant so there were enough tables and good food. Swedish (kind of) yogurt, which I really didn’t like that much… haha. We also had normal yogurt with its toppings, cornflakes, knäckebröd of course, Swedish bread, cheese, ham, cucumber, boiled egg and tomato. That’s basically what we got for breakfast and it was a buffet so you could choose and refill your plate! It doesn’t differ that much with a Dutch breakfast. OH! I almost forgot, Swedish caviar on knäckebröd is a must try. It’s really good. Especially my dear friend Katarina loved it.
After breakfast and some more discovering first conversations we went to Järvzoo. The specialty of Järvzoo is ‘the big five’ of Sweden. The big five contains the five biggest carnivores in Sweden: the wolf, lynx, wolverine, bear and last but not least the humans. The zoo has a wide variety of Nordic animals and provides a 3 km long trail through the zoo with the knowledge of a guide.
Most of these animals live in the north of Sweden, but some of them are in danger. Hunters want fur, flesh and a lot of farmers protect their herd of sheep’s (example), which they make money on. From this you may conclude that these animals are threatened with extinction. We were told that this is not only a problem stuck in the north, but it’s also widely spoken about in Swedish politics. Enough about that, before I will annoy you all with politics.
However, if you are ever in the neighborhood and if you’re interested in these animals, then you should do this walking trail. You’ll get enough information about the animals and how they survive, how you could survive in front of a bear etc. (By the way, Swedish bears are generally scared of humans). This zoo is actually a connection of bridges. Most of the time you will be walking ‘higher’ than the animals. There is no road, it’s only for walking. Because of this, the zoo is very green and there is a lot of pure nature and most of the animals have a big area to maneuver.
For me, a half day would be just fine in the zoo. Oh, you can also choose to walk around by yourself. You don’t have to get a guide if you don’t want. Entrance for adults costs about 160 Swedish kronor (crowns), that’s about 19 Euros.
If you’re curious about our first Swedish dinner on the camp, I can’t remember…. I was probably too hungry to observe my food. Cheerios!
July 29 – Goodbye Gävle and Hello Kilafors!
Early in the morning our alarm woke us up and a few minutes later our second alarm, our host mother. It was time to leave the Gunder family. We were brought up north to Kilafors, Segersta where our base camp was. Our base camp was on Kungsholmen, a beautifull little island with 1 single wooden red building on it. It was surrounded with black water and woods. The only way to go to the island was to walk over the long red bridge or by cano if you had one.
Here we met the other camp contestants. A small fika and a opening followed. Now it was time to say goodbye to our hostfamily. Katarina and I were excited to meet all the others but we were also sad because we had a lot of fun at the Gunder family. We said goodbye with mixed feelings. On the other hand, it was time for something new.
The first conversations started and I reunited with Carl and Mert, which I met on the first day in the train to my host family. Surprisingly I saw someone else I recognized. It was Sjoerd, a boy I already knew. He lives in the same city as I do and we already met a few years ago. This shows that it’s a small world. The conversations continued, rooms were distributed and roommates were made by the staff. My roommate was Julia from Belarus. Time for the camp!
Update: I remembered something, a trip with the canoe. There were 2 yellow canoes available and the dutch guys Carl and Sjoerd wanted to go for a trip on the water. So did Ron from Israel. But it take two to get full power, so they asked me if I wanted to come and I said yes.
I shared a canoe with Ron, we hadn’t really talked one on one yet. This wasn’t hard on the water with nobody around. We talked about our countries and asked some questions. He told me how things are in Israel and about the country its problems. It was nice to have a conversation like that with someone who has truly seen it and lived it. We started talking about school and what to do after high school. He told me that a lot of Israelians have to join the army after high school to fight for their country. I guess it was 3 years (for boys) and 2 years (for girls).
After a while we arrived at the first small island we saw. We took the ropes and tied our boats on some rocks. I had to be carefull not to fall into the water because I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. They we’re all wearing swimming trunks. When they asked me, I just jumped in like that.
The island was so small, it had a small bbq/fire place in the center of the island. Of course the boys started about a new place to poop on.. International poop.
Please help my uncle winning an important sustainability award, he founded good & green guides and It is currently nominated for a local sustainability prize. (http://www.goodandgreenguides.com/ , Good & Green Guides are sustainable travelguides that show inhabitants and tourists how to enjoy a city and at the same time taking care for people and the environment.)
Please support this awesome initiative by doing the following
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- Vincent & Johanna
It was a Friday evening, pretty late and my stomach was in need of some good Indonesian food. Well, this was easy for me. Because most Indonesian people, or people with Indonesian roots, know that there is one typical Indonesian recipe that is easy to make, ready if you blink twice and the taste,.that is so ….No, I am not going to tell you about that haha, for that I say: read on and try it yourself!
To begin with Nasi Goreng means literally ‘fried rice’. It looks kinda like the Chinese-style fried rice, but there is so much difference between their taste. Nasi Goreng is also known as the national dish of Indonesia and the people across the country eat it regularly. For many people the reason to eat nasi goreng is because the dish is easy to prepare and very cheap.
I don’t know how it’s with the nasi goreng in your countries, but in the Netherlands it’s also quite common. This because Indonesia used to be a colony of the Netherlands, so when the Indonesian people arrived here, they brought some culture, including nasi goreng.
Enough about the background of nasi goreng, I think it’s time to talk about the preparation! So, I will guide through some different steps and I won’t tell you exactly what to do and to add this or that. I will give you the basic ingredients and what I used, besides I tell you things you can add. I want you to make the nasi goreng yours. Use the ingredients you like, because eventually, you are the one that’ll eat it!
Step 1 – Ingredients
There are many different sorts of rice. Just notice that you need rice that is not too sticky. I learned from my father that if you add 2 cups (no matter what size) of rice, you have to add 3 cups (that same size) of water. so the ratio is 1 : 1,5 . It’s also better if you prepare your rice the day before you will make nasi goreng.
Leek is a common vegetable in nasi goreng but not required. Just add the vegetables you like. Instead of the ones that I use, you can also use courgette, cabbage, broccoli, paprika, peas, etc. Onion is pretty typical for the tase, but if you don’t like, don’t add. (quantity: depends on the number of people you are cooking for)
I used egg but you can also use it instead/with something like chicken, shrimps, ham, etc.
Not basic, but I like the sharp taste of ginger.
In my opinion you must add sambal. No matter what kind of sambal, but you have to add it for the taste. The sambal I used is more sweet than hot, even though I like hot. But..you can also you Sambal Ajam, Sambal Badjak, Sambal Bawang, Sambal goreng, Sambal trassi, Sambal Pedis, and you can go on for ages haha.. just find out wich one you like.
Also spelled like terasie or trassi. This is shrimp paste and a basic ingredient for the dish. No nasi goreng without terasi. (by the way you pronounce it as [tràsee] )
Basic ingredient. There are many kinds of peppers, but use the ones you like. The ones I use are called ‘Lomboks’, it’s the same as the Spanish pepper/red pepper/Chili pepper.
You’ll need this if you don’t want any burned food.
Beside the ingredients for the nasi goreng:
Step 2 – preparation
Now your dish should look something like this
I hope that all of you will try it and if so, enjoy the Indonesian flavour!
First of all, all the readers, ‘likers’ and followers: Thank you so much for your time, interest and likes. We barely started this blog and already so many people are reading the first posts! It was really a surprise for us. I remember when Johanna finished her first post and like a few minutes later I received an email with the first like. We were like, Huh….? How can they find our posts..? How.. because, we didn’t share it on our Facebook page, besides, that one isn’t even published yet.
Eventually it was quite simple since we’ve added categories…pretty stupid…haha.. but hey, things we’re new for us!
Well, we’re pretty excited for sharing our next posts because we got some new stuff. First Johanna is going to finish her Sweden story (next week), then we are going to post about our trip to Italy and after that Johanna has got some more (you will know about that after reading this one!). By the way, our Facebook page will also be published next week and we are planning on writing the ‘Idea page’ because the title of our page ‘Tree of Life’, the quote ‘Go Be Share Smile Feel Love Do’ and our domain name ‘The seven roads’ are all in connection.
So, you’re probably wondering why that title up there? ‘Waving the Netherlands goodbye while saying Hello to North Africa!’ What has that to do with what I was just reading… No worries, just keep on reading:
September 19 – At seven o’clock this morning my alarm started making a lot of noise but with with one tap it was quiet again..nice, even though it was useless… I had to get out because today Johanna would leave the Netherlands for one week. This time her destination would be Egypt, North Africa. For me it was a No Go because I had to study. But like I say, that is not a reason to not be excited, at least one off us was heading abroad! And I am here to receive her stories afterwards (and you of course)!
09:30 – the cab arrived. Now it was time to say goodbye and time for a big hug (: after some more hugging (hehe) and a last wave they left.
19:36 - I received a text message from Johanna that she had a safe trip and everything went well. She was now on the bus that was heading to the cruise ship. Oh!, I forgot to tell, this trip is a cruise travel along the coast of Egypt. They will make some different stops with different types of excursions and things to see.
Well this is it for today. For the next post we have to wait until next week when Johanna is back. This because we first want to finish the Sweden stories!
I wish my love a safe trip, one with some beautiful experiences and of course one with fun!
Sweden 2012 – How I loved my stay in this house, the end was near. My last day was a day for nothing but photos. Photos and enjoying the last moments that were left. Katarina and I decided to go for a short walk through the neighborhood. Although we’ve been here for almost a week, we never really observed the neighborhood.
Something you should do right away, observe. Observe, learn and remember. Enjoy the things you see and remember it. Joy-full memories bring a smile and a brain made photo appears.
Therefore, we walked through the quiet streets with almost no cars. Observing, laughing, photographing with brains ánd camera. Just breathing the fresh Swedish air.
Simple as that.
July 28 – Quick post
Today Olle took us to flee markets. So what about the fleemarkets in Sweden? They really are e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. Swedish people like to go to flee markets (Loppis in Swedish) and it’s something typically Swedish, but it depends on the type of person of course. For some people it’s like stopping by at the supermarket.
Gävle, the city where we stayed, has 80.000 inhabitants and 8+ fleemarkets. Not just small ones, no also huge ones! Just follow the ‘loppis’ signs on the road and you’ll get there.
Today was also the last day at our host family. SO we took some photos of the house and gave presents from our country to our host parents.
I brought a basket with me, filled with typical Dutch things, from erwtensoep (pea soup) to stroopwafels (caramel waffels). My basket was packed with all kinds of stuff and it weighed like 4 kilos! That’s why my luggage was so heavy.
Well, they really liked it and I was glad they were happy.
Time to pack my bags again..
July 27 – Free time for us! A day to the center of Gävle to do whatever we wanted. So Katarina and I went shopping like girls do and we found this funny little deco shop. This shop was full of funny retro stuff, the past-comeback!
In the afternoon we went to the water to take a swim and to have a fika. We were very hesitant to go in the water. It was too cold, but our host parents really wanted us to get in the dark black water. So we went in and yes, as we expected, it was COLD. But after a while it was okay. Just…. keep moving.
Some places (lakes etc.) in Sweden have very dark water. It’s not because it’s dirty, it’s because of the soil. Actually, the (lake) water in Sweden is really clean and you can almost drink it everywhere.
July 26 – A peaceful day to the woods. We went to the woods to look for blueberries and orange-ish mushrooms with our host parents and their grandson. We walked, talked and picked some blueberries. We were going to make blueberry pie of the blueberries and we were going to use the mushrooms for dinner.
A lot of Swedish people, that live near nature, get their berries from the woods. All natural!
But our host parents told us that it was a bad blueberry season. Normally, the bushes are all filled with the blue colored berries, but this year it wasn’t the case.
Olle (host-father) told us a lot about plants. Olle used to be a doctor and was very interested in plants and that’s why he knew so much about it. They made lemonade and other tasteful stuff of the plants with medical benefits. I know what you’re thinking right now: ‘Lemonade? Plants? Plant lemonade?? To be honest it tasted… kind of good!
The rest of the day wasn’t that active. I guess being with a 2 year old is exhausting enough.
We relaxed and visited friends of Lena and had a fika (coffee-time) there.
July 25 – Rise and shine at 7 for a trip to Stockholm!
Joel was going to Barcelona with his friends so he was supposed to accompany us till 2 and then leave to the airport with his friends.
The first thing we did when we arrived in Stockholm, after 1,5 hour with the train from Gävle, was………coffee. Surprisingly!
This city is amazing! Seriously, Stockholm is surrounded with water and is full of beautifull buildings. This city is built on 14 islands and these islands are all connected by bridges.You can walk through Stockholm by foot or you can take a boat. There really is a lot to see in this green city. Stockholm has a long history and offers a lot of museums and attractions to visit. Besides that, Stockholm also offers a lot of malls and shopping streets. These streets can be filled with the large companies like ZARA , but some streets are full of little original shops. The street I really liked was Götgatan, soo… I would recommend to stop by Götgatan!
July 24 – Wake up call at 9 o’clock. Healthy breakfast, a shower and ready to go!
The plan was to go hiking. We went for a 40 minute drive and left the car at a parking spot. We walked to the woods and we hiked for about 3 hours in total.
We had lunch in the woods at a BBQ place. The BBQ places in Swedish woods are everywhere! Erik and Joel brought some coco, coffee, hotdogs and we made a fire.
The hiking course showed us a lot of Swedish nature and a lot of mosquitos. Really a lot! Oh, the mosquitos were going to be fun in Sweden.
Erik and Joel went for a swim in the water, they asked us to come too. I don’t know if they noticed, but the water was pretty cold. I think they noticed..
This day full of hiking ended with coffee. Katarina and me found out that Swedish people really drink coffee a lot. I mean A LOT. At least 6 times a day.
And Erik told me that some ‘coffee-addicts’ sometimes drink 20 cups of coffee a day.
People also drink coffee at fika’s. Fika is actually a kind of coffee/tea-time. It’s for example in the evening after dinner or in the afternoon.
You drink coffee or sometimes tea with kanelbulle (cinnamon roll) or other sweets. This fika can be with your family at home, outside or at friends. This is typically Swedish and it’s fun, and delicious, to do!
This evening Johanna gave her presentation about her trip to Sweden. But we didn’t know where the location was. Johanna sent lots of e-mails, but nobody answered them. So she e-mailed another girl that was coming too.
5.15 She got a message that the presentation was at 6.30 but we had to be there at 6.00
So the presentation was in a place called Bosschenhoofd, 8 km from where we live and…. We had no car!
Johanna called our friend Sam and he picked us up at our houses and he dropped us off! Thanks again!!
We thanked Sam and Johanna gave him a necklace from the Philippines that she forgot to give, 6 months ago!
After the presentation, we had this problem.. We still didn’t have a car.
So we ‘practiced’ for our future travels and tried to get a ride.
Eerhmm.. So it didn’t really work out. But then again we’re in The Netherlands ánd in a village. People usually don’t do things like this.
After an hour we called my dad…… And he finally picked us up!
- Vincent & Johanna
July 23 – Our host parents definitely liked getting up early and we had to get up at 9. Katarina and I ate a typical Swedish breakfast.
Knäckebrod with kaviar and other things like cheese. I had this… errhm promise. A promise from me to me. I was going to eat healthy the whole trip. A good thing that my host parents really liked pure food. Berries and plants from the woods (not that hard to find in Sweden).
So besides the knäckebrod, I ate yogurt with fruits, raisins and dried dades. (veerry interesting)
After our breakfast we went for a city tour by foot with Joel & Erik as tourguides. Gävle has some old parts with old houses and really modern and new buildings.
They told us about the history of Gävle and after a long walk we went to Erik his house to eat his carrotcake (delicious!!). Then we went home after a full day of walking, now it was time for relaxing, exploring the house some more and dinner.
Yes, i like food.
July 22 – The day I left The Netherlands and stepped on a plane to Sweden.
Vincent brought me to Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport. The first thing we did: search for a belt for my suitcase, that was obviously too full.
After that, I dropped my suitcase off. We still had an hour or something before I had to board. So we went for a walk at the airport and we drank something at Starbucks.
But then…. 9.45 already?! Oh no, they were boarding and I had to go upstairs, to the other side of the airport. Good job…
So we stepped up and I still had time. Now it was time for goodbye. Tight hug, kisses and see you in 20 days my love!
With 15 minutes before departure, I went through customs and walked to my gate, a LONG walk.
As I arrived, the ground steward was already announcing names for a last call. The good thing was, I made it. Now I had to find my seat. All the people were staring at me, probably for being late. What made it worse was my attempt to put my huge backpack into the cabin. I’m not that big, so use your imagination.
After the flight I arrived at Arlanda Airport, I was picked up by some Lionsmembers from Lions International, Karin and her husband. She was holding this big sign with my name on it. I couldn’t miss that.
There I met Carl, a Dutch guy living in the north of The Netherlands. He was going to the same camp. After some talking and waiting for a french girl that was late, we went to the trainstation. We were on the same train to the place called Gävle, hooray!
At the trainstation we met Mert, by accident when he asked us something about the train. He was going to the camp too. In the train we talked about each others country. We also met a backpacker, he was from Italy. He told us some stories about his travels. For 1,5 hour we talked, slept and laughed. When we arrived in Gävle, I was directly picked up by Joel. He was going to be my host brother, a student in his young twenties.
Joel took me to his house where I met his mother and father. They told me that my compagnon for the week, Katarina, had some serious delays with her flights. Katarina is from Slovenia, Ljubljana. I was very curious to meet her. I already had some e-mail contact with her and we got along so I wanted to meet her.
In the mean time Joel brought me to one of his favourite places in Gävle. He told me some history and typical Swedish things.
After dinner I met his friend Erik. While we were talking, Katarina came in and we clicked directly. We went to explore the huge house and our rooms.
We talked, laughed, watched tv and nothing more than that because we were tired of the day.
So, this is our first post
We are Vincent & Johanna and this is the beginning of our blog. To be honest… the world of blogging is quite new to us. But this is just one more reason for us to explore this new world, one full of inspiration.
With our blog we want to share our ideas, daily adventures and not to forget, the big travels! We hope that our ideas, stories and everything else will be fun and interesting for all of you.
Let this be the start of a new road, a challenge, but most of all a new experience.
Don’t be shy to follow us and leave a comment if you like!
Vincent & Johanna