Backpacking through Myanmar [part 3 of 3]

In the same way part 2 ended, part 3 will begin; fishermen (at display). One in colour, and one silhouette.

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Inle Lake is one of the many must-sees of Myanmar; a great lake with magnificent “floating” settlements (on bamboo poles). Beautiful, really.

Small boats are the essential tool for the locals to get around here, as witnessed in the coming pictures.

Inle Lake

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Our first stop for the day was an open-spaced culture/festival/pseudo-temple place, whose entrance can be seen above. We sat down and our guide taught us about a special festival dish called “sticky rice”, which we also got to taste. Beside us, a drowsy cat enjoyed the warm sunlight that shone down at it through some cracks in the ceiling.

The multi-purpose temple was connected to a small, (but long) market by a tunnel of sorts, which we traversed to get to our transport, waiting on the other side. It made for a cool photo at least.

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Here is a picture of our guide and skipper for the day. Being a tour guide seemed to be a a high-status occupation here. She spoke understandable English, which made her stand out from the other guides we had (yeah, lol).

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While the houses are on poles, the wide-stretching gardens are certainly not. They float and can carry the weight of roughly a person per 5-10 meters (especially when they are small..). Below, three girls can be seen harvesting (not quite sure what exactly), while chatting and smiling happily.

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The roads are obviously water-ways:

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Nest stop was the Phaung Daw Oo Pagoda, a temple known for its “five small gilded images of Buddha, which have been covered in gold leaf to the point that their original forms cannot be seen“. Popular attraction. NB: males only as witnessed by the sign below! A fun aspect of the Burmese written language, is that it does not need spaces between words.

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Time had come to find some food, and we left for Grandma’s Kitchen. Maybe it’s her in the window, – who knows? The only thing we know for sure is that we got severe food poisoning, which kept us in bed the entire next day. Maybe grandma didn’t like us 😛

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The final stop for the day was the house where the guide lived. She first showed us the cigarette-making facility next-door, where several older woman (with extraordinary fingerspitzengefĂŒhl) cut, filled and rolled cigarettes at an insane pace! Then we got to try out the highly traditional facial make-up. “Now you become pretty, haha”, she told me after painting me with Thanaka. I am not so sure I would call it an improvement though haha..

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On our way home, the (morning?) fog were mostly gone and the slightly warmer afternoon light made for new photographic opportunities of the fishermen.

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As previously mentioned, the next day came and went without us ever leaving the hotel room out of fear of vomiting and/or something worse. A painful day. Moving on. The next morning, we had plans to explore the area by ourselves, and we started out carefully in the city centre.

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Later, we visited a vineyard where we ordered well-cooked food and drank “Aha” and “Power Peace” water. Very watery water. The best water.

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That was the last of the images from Inle Lake. The same evening, we travelled by bus down to Yangon; our final city to visit on this trip. It is a large city, and the most “city-like” city we had seen to date in Myanmar.

The first day were spent exploring by foot – and JĂžrgen got to know a local taxi driver quite well (transcription from video):
– [JĂžrgen] Do you have a wife?
– [SjĂ„fĂžr ] Yes
– [JĂžrgen] What is her name?
– [SjĂ„fĂžr ] Yes
– [JĂžrgen ]Do you have a kid?
– [SjĂ„fĂžr ] Yes
– [JĂžrgen] What is his name?
– [SjĂ„fĂžr ] Yes
– [HĂ„kon] Jeg tror ikke du nĂ„r helt igjennom til ham xD (ENG: I don’t think you quite get through to him xD)

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The next day, we were again ready for an excursion – this time to the Golden Rock! On our way there we came across a small village focused solely around (the many ways of)  preparing Cobra Head Fish for eating.

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To get to the Golden Rock, you get “loaded” on repurposed trucks that can drive “vertically” up the mountain side. This is really, really fun, and an experience you should not leave Myanmar without!

We unfortunately arrived at a time of reconstruction, and so the rock were covered up. Not quite sure why an actual rock would need cosmetic treatment, but hey, we got to drive the trucks!

Another bonus with the trip was the deeply interesting items for sale at the top of the mountain. Like a toy replica of RPG-7. I can almost hear the commercial “…spend some quality time with your kid, with this ultra-realistic rocket-propelled grenade launcher!!”. 

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We stayed the night in a bungalow near the foot of the mountain. The next morning, we got to see how rubber is made from a sticky white liquid that is harvested from trees. Then we drove off to get a fresh watermelon before entering some of  the largest pagodas in the country.

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Because we like trains just as much as Sheldon, we decided to try out the Burmese railways on our way back. That was a slow, but bumpy ride I can tell you. Glorious!

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In the evening we celebrated (and mourned) that the epic journey was coming to an end. The next day consisted mainly of transportation, so I leave you with one last image from a book store in Yangon – try to spot the easter egg!

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We had one day in Bangkok before departing separate ways. The most memorable image from this day is this mugshot taken at an escape-room establishment.

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….and this, this is a hotel. Not our hotel, but the hotel: Sky Bar at Lebua, State Tower (maybe known to some from Hangover 2).

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Martin & JĂžrgen, – thanks for a great journey; exploration of unknown territory (*cough*) with many intense moments, sunsets and stomach pain. Where to next??

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Backpacking through Myanmar [part 2 of 3]

Allow me to quickly pick up where I left off:

We rented bikes the following morning, and went out at the crack of dawn.

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After the marked, we headed out of the inner city and cruised by at least 5-10 (plus/minus 50) temples. (We even set foot in some of them – surprise, surprise!). Soon, we departed from our luxurious asphalt and let a dirt road show us the way to the countryside and the people living out their (calm?) lives there.

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As always (well, maybe), I asked for her permission to take a shot. She looked up, tilted her head to the side and it was clear she did not understand why on earth I would approach her, let alone talk to her while she did the laundry. So I pointed at my camera, we exchanged a smile and I called it an agreement.

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This little boy lived right across the slow-paced river and I guess he tried to figure out what we all where doing there. I cracked a smile, he didn’t, we left. Notice to self: I have to stop smiling awkwardly to everyone we meet. However, JĂžrgen clearly knows more than me about how to get people to smile back at him. To support this claim, I have a ton of evidence, like this one (and the next):

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All in all, we biked for nearly 20 kilometres that day. That called for taking the rest of the day off (you know, having a mini-vacation while busy “vacation-ing”). To accommodate this need, we found a splendid restaurant with a fantastic view of the river Irrawaddy. As the sun set, the sky went through a broad spectrum of warm colors, – and we, a broad spectrum of food. Delicious food.

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From Mandalay, we went south to Bagan by bus. The driver was, to put it mildly, an aggressive man when it came to honking, overtaking – AND – honking while overtaking (and, I kid you not, overtaking while honking). More times than I could count, vehicles in the opposite lane had to come to a complete stop because WE SURE AS HELL WASN’T GOING TO! His horn conveyed an important message, I’M BIGGER THAN YOU; HERE I COME, AND – THERE IS NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT. Jeez. BEEEP-de-BAAP-dii-BOOOP. No sleep for you, mister.

Our hotel was really nice, situated close to “Old Bagan”. It was not the first (nor the last) to proclaim free wifi access. However, as it turned out, the router, was not in any way connected to the internet (as a rule of thumb, this is always the case in Myanmar). A-okey though; we weren’t there to browse the web, but to explore, climb and wander through the semi-dessert, which was filled-to-the-brim with temples of all sizes.

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With (the superbly manly) means of transportation – an electrical scooter (that maxed out at 15-20 km/h), we tumbled into the wilderness head first. Among the many (monstrously) dangerous challenges we faced, perhaps JĂžrgen getting his front wheel stuck, spinning erratic in the sand, stood out as the most perilous. Or maybe when his battery pack started to decay… and we barely made it out alive… (#Picturesbelowunrelated #notreally)

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We came across a vantage point, a tower (kinda easy to spot). After 2000 steps or so, (just kidding, elevator #privilege) we experienced an amazing view. As can be seen in numerous pictures below, the landscape was mesmerizing, especially the way it slowly faded into the all-surrounding white haze.

We found some 10-20 Buddhist monks sleeping / relaxing at the top of the tower, in the shade. They found us interesting to look at, but not quite interesting enough to talk to 😛 

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Temples are excellent places to take a nap during the hottest part of the day. The 1-4 meter thick stone walls makes it nice and cool inside.

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After 3 days in Bagan, we returned to the road with destination Inle Lake. Time estimate: ~9-10 hours. It took 8 hours. How? They had calculated an average of at least one tire change. Real analysis folks.

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The mandatory suicide of one of the tires – to keep us on schedule – happened in the middle of absolutely nowhere. However, we had no problem with taking a break from the bus, and went out for a short stroll to stretch our legs and more importantly, empty our fluid containers.

3 Burmese men, patiently waiting:

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The next morning, we had a date with the at-most-3-meters-deep Inle Lake, a nice wooden boat – and a lovely, yet way to fancy dressed tour guide. She had by far the best English accent to date.

The morning mist made the first few hours on the lake magical. The water seemed to continue on and on, infinitely far in all directions. The two images below bring back some of that floaty feeling for me. Ah, what is better than a state-funded, culture-preserving fisherman-actor, showing off “the old ways” to the tourists, so that you, i.e. me, can snap a picture of him and his ancient, ineffective fish catching technique? Absolutely love it!

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Especially this one:

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Until next time, so long and thanks for all the fish!

Backpacking through Myanmar [part 1 of 3]

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I’ll give you 5 seconds to answer: What is the very first thing that comes to mind when you think about Myanmar? Let me guess – Aung San Suu Kyi, right? At least for me it was. When I got around to think about what I actually knew about this nation before travelling there, “not much” sums it up, I’m afraid..

Now, let’s take this from the beginning. My two childhood friends, JĂžrgen & Martin has got two parents (as one commonly does) with a slight taste (read: huge appetite) for the Pacific Ocean and all of its remote, tropical islands. So, last winter they left Oslo to spend a couple of months in paradise (look up Rarotonga – no, not on a physical map, …yes, use Google image search, … and yes, that is actually the place, …no, that is not photoshopped (you get the point now, I figure)). Accompanied in part by their children; these two young boys wanted to do a sweep across Asia, before returning home. A part of that exciting quest was exploration of Myanmar. I was invited along – and gladly accepted!

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Flight DY7205 from Oslo through Stockholm to Bangkok. Appropriately named “BANG-kok!”, a complete opposite to “The sound of Silence”. However, it felt strangely familiar, having been to some of the great, busy cities of India. A picture of traffic in two-three elevated “channels” feels appropriate:

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Flying to and from Myanmar is restricted to some chosen destinations, and for that reason, we used Thailand as a springboard to its neighbour in the west.

Here’s a portrait of Martin before we move on!

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We spent two days exploring, and amongst other things, joined in on a trip into the backwaters of the city; a web of interconnected canals – with “swarming” wildlife… at least a couple of laid-back lizards or two… (pictures to come!).

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I’d like to call the next picture “The river captain, and his wife”. Strangely, he is not the one doing the dishes at this one instance in time.
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There are no longer predators around that hunt the water monitors. Thus, with a steady supply of food available around-the-clock, they have become lazy and “fearless” of humans, and human activities. We could almost touch it, – that’s how close we could come.

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According to our guide, a lot of the traditional way of “slow(-er)” living is vanishing at an accelerating rate. This can perhaps be seen by the brand new buildings that are mixed in with the old canal-side houses.

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One thing you don’t escape (in Asia in general), are temples. Literally everywhere, and with an astonishing amount of gold and glitter. However, the golden tan doesn’t come naturally, someone has to paint them shiny…

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Back to the backwaters again!

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…where we found an orchid farm:

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…and an insane amount of fish (carp, I think), that was used to being fed white bread lol. When we started to feed them, the water literally turned into fish. H-Fish-O2. The battle was ON!

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Back in the city, this stray dog caught my attention between two parked, colourful buses.

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The air quality is plain awful, no surprise here. The drivers try to be cautious, and most use a facial mask.

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The next day, we swapped out Bangkok with Mandalay. It’s situated on the banks of Irrawaddy, in the heart of Myanmar. (This is a good time to hit play on Hans Zimmer’s masterpiece “Waters of Irrawaddy”, to really set the mood!). We got a small bungalow all to ourselves, – left our belongings there, and went outside. Our first impression of the people of Myanmar was that they were very friendly, polite – and by no means accustomed to tourists. This is of course a big plus, as it means not getting ripped off in taxis, restaurants and most stores.

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JÞrgen and Martin posing in front of our accommodation. Award for being the easiest to recognise person, goes to JÞrgen, for his exemplary orange shirt.

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The first image of this blogpost, was taken just outside our hotel at night time. Same night, some sort of festival were held in the streets, with loads of exotic food and fun activities, mostly for children.

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We got in touch with some locals – or more correctly, JĂžrgen spotted a guitar. They were nice, and we sang along. No english though. But guitar. Fun!

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We rented bikes the following morning, and went out at the crack of dawn. First stop was the local marked, were we got to try out a few tasty sweets and meet some of the people that worked there; which to our surprise was (almost) women only! Here are some of them:

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I leave you with the following image from the marked entrance, which I really like – may even go as far and say that I think it’s the best picture of this blogpost! Until next time (part 2), cheerio!

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The Windy City – Chicago!

Alexander, Sverre, Gergo, Hannah and I decided to pay Chicago a visit some weeks ago. We borrowed a car and bought doughnuts & coffee for the road trip! The drive was 3-4 hours and certainly different from what I’m used to in boring AF Scandinavia. Large billboards literally follow you the entire way; half of them tell you to put your faith in God and the rest appeals to the hungry traveller. Somehow the best steak in the state is always located at the next food exit. Yes, food exit, that is what (some of) the highway exits are called.. lulz.. The typical food exit consists of a cluster of different fast-food chains and the like. A spot on the map of extreme caloric density with an event horizon i.e. the point of no return, where/when you spot that juicy, delicious burger on a billboard.. lolol, here’s a picture of us (three backseat physicists):

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The designated driver for the occasion was Alex, given that flat terrain is one of his Danish specialities lololol. Sverre and his phone can be seen also to the right, making sure we are on the right track. #NeverTrustAWindowsPhoneEverAgainLOL

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For those of you wondering how far – or perhaps, where the third most populous city in U.S. is situated, here, have a look at the map:

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HVT_5521The nickname “The Windy City” is certainly a good fit, for a lot of reasons, mainly – its so damned windy. Luckily for us, the temperature was also freezing! The place we stayed at was somewhat cheap, but more importantly, right in the hearth of Gotham, I mean the metropolis.

After arriving quite late, we decided to grab a beer – and if it hadn’t been for mr. Treider here, almost ruining it by “oh man we gotta go check this out” and “must.. photograph… over… there..” we would have had more than 14 seconds to pick a “flavour”. It turned out the store was “right around the corner” all along. However, neither me nor Alex will acknowledge that someone went around the entire block. Because, that would be… absurd.

Due to the coffee (singular), I couldn’t sleep all night. So, next morning I decided to step up my game, and get that caffeine tolerance up up UP. This has proven more difficult than imagined.

After breakfast, we went out to find Cloud Gate, i.e. The Bean the perhaps most well known tourist attraction in the city(?) – at least the most photographed one. It is best described as a mirror, bent in three dimensions to look like a bean, hence the nickname. We first had to walk there – and here are some shots taken on the way:

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(Sorry, no points for recognizing Lincoln).

Finally, zeh Bean: (click here for a version in color)

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As you probably noticed earlier; Chicago is located by Lake Michigan, down south. The fresh water has a special green/turquoise tint to it.

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The city is also known for the excellent Field Museum, the home of SUE; the largest, best-preserved, and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex ever found.  That’s “her” below:

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I also found these absolutely hysterical statuettes, which I decided to caption appropriately (you must know your internetz):

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We continued our expedition towards the planetarium. (Don’t mind the pointing, it’s the complete opposite direction)

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We found it (and decided to come back later) along with a gorgeous view of the city skyline and the lake. We also found our dark caped guardian – not the hero we deserve, but the hero we need. *Sigh*, I need to stop with these quotes.

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Me, appreciating a little sun for a change:

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After having some food, we joined Alex in his quest of finding Saint Mary of the Angels. If you got he reference of him holding a doughnut and a cup of coffee in front of SUE, you probably get this one too (I most certainly don’t lol). Since we live in 2016, finding the church took about 1.5 seconds + whatever time it took to google it. We grabbed an ĂŒber and arrived shortly after.

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Signs. Weird ones. Blue ones. Chicago hosts a diverse collection… Remember to keep a ruler in your car so that you can check if parking is legal or not during winter times. Will there be more snow? Will the magical 2 inches be reached? Playing with fire, are we? Or how about a 500 dollar fine for feeding the pigeons?

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Pizza, delicious and fat. One metric tonne of cheese. Very yummy, much taste, such wow. Sverre looks ecstatic at the sheer sight of food after a long day (as we all were, of course).

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I wanted to go back to the pier for a long exposure shot of the city in the dark, over the water. Somehow I managed to convince the others to accompany me! Safe to say, we were not alone out there. There were a certain very recognizable smell in the air.

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This blog post would be incomplete without a photo of the famous Chicago “L” (short for elevated) that transports people into, around and out of the city.

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…and here is a cute little turtle from Shedd Aquarium:

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To this day, I don’t know why it says “A BEST”. GAWD, IT MAKES NO SENSE. Anyway, this is the entrance of the Art Institute of Chicago. A place definitely worth a visit.

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This exhibition appealed to me of course! /physicslessonstart/ What we’ve got here is the classic potato battery, taken to the extreme. After some googling, I found out that you can get a little over 1 V per potato. A rough estimate of 500 potatoes gives us something like 500 V to play around with. Wait. Am I sure that they are all connected in series? Nope. Could you do anything fun with it? Not really, the current is probably too low bad. Is it still awesome? YES! /physicslessonend/

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Also, we got this intensely interesting triple-square thingy going on. If that doesn’t get your hearth pumping, I don’t know what will.

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The last great adventure was climbing up the 92-or-so floors of the John Hancock Center. There we got to try out Tilt, which is best described with some photos. This evening was the night of the Super Bowl, so we had the entire floor to ourselves; 360 degree of pure panoramic view. What followed was quite a spectacular sunset, I must say.

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Here is a timelapse from my phone of the sunset. Due to “bad” auto-exposure there is some flickering… Anyways.

Then, after some food from a great kind-of-market-place-but-not-really, we found the car and started driving home. Since Chicago/Illinois is an hour behind Michigan, we got back a little later than anticipated. But, who cares? Awesome trip!

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Tilbakeblikk, Lofoten! [Arkivbilder, del 2 av 3]

Da var del 2 klar, – og den er en noe mer fargerik fortsettelse av del 1.

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I lĂžpet av Ă„ret i Lofoten, var et av hĂžydepunktene turen til Nyksund. Der videreutviklet vi blant annet teknikken “sette-fyr-pĂ„-stĂ„lull-og-snurre-rundt”. Av en eller annen grunn, hadde jeg ikke redigert alle disse bildene fĂžr nĂ„ – og forresten, fler enn meg som ser et ansikt i steinen til hĂžyre?

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Det skulle vise seg at flere Ă„r mĂ„tte gĂ„, fĂžr de gamle teknikker ble tatt opp igjen og denne gang perfeksjonert: <<Ring of Fire>>. Men, tilbake til Nyksund! .. og det med et sitat fra en av fotolĂŠrerne pĂ„ skolen: “Aldri la linjer gĂ„ gjennom hodet pĂ„ folk”. Ser ut til at jeg glemte det rĂ„det.

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SĂ„ skal vi hoppe litt i tid, til den store havĂžrn-utflukten vi hadde i slutten av oktober 2010 – milde himmel, er det gĂ„tt 5 Ă„r?! Det skulle nemlig vise seg at jeg har oversett en god del bilder fra denne turen, da antageligvis alle Ăžrnene som sprutet omkring, stjal oppmerksomheten min.. hĂ„hĂ„, ganske fornĂžyd med dette her:

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I det bÄten vÄr kjÞrte forbi staken, endret perspektivet seg gradvis, sÄ jeg har flere bilder herfra:

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Kystlandskap med fiskebÄt gÄr ogsÄ an:

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SURPRISE, klart det skulle med en Ăžrn til! (Kan rĂžpe at det er maaaange i vente i del 3…)

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SURPRISE 2, klart det skulle vĂŠre med litt nordlys!

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De neste 6-7 bildene er ikke helt sammenhengende i tid/sted/rom, men de fÄr da lov til Ä vÊre med her allikevel! Noen gir iallfall meg #LofotFÞlelsen

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Takk og pÄ gjensyn!

FjorĂ„ret oppsummert med 5 bilder

Det er ingen hemmelighet at denne bloggen har hatt bedre tider hva gjelder hurtige oppdateringer. Her kommer et lite plaster pĂ„ sĂ„ret i form av 5 bilder – utvalgte – fra Ă„ret som nĂ„ (forlengst) er over… I tillegg har jeg spyttet inn ett arkivbilde fra Lofoten!

Stjernehimmel over hytta

Bildet er tatt pĂ„ hytta til kamerat Anders som ligger i nĂŠrheten av RisĂžr. Neste bilde ut er tatt pĂ„ Lambertseter, i “skogen” som ligger ned mot hovedveien, etter fĂžrste skikkelige snĂžfall i vinter.

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PÄ vei hjem fra Geilo og en meget awesome hyttetur, fant jeg denne godbiten av en tÄkekladd.

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En tur til Bergen har jeg ogsĂ„ hatt – i regi av et bryllup – de bildene kommer forhĂ„pentligvis hit en gang fĂžr dette millenniet er over – og pĂ„ vei dit kom jeg og Marit over denne fine fjorden.

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Vann er fint – ogsĂ„ nĂ„r det fosser. Her, Tvindefossen utenfor Voss:

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Til slutt, som lovet, et arkivbilde fra Lofoten – en Ăžrn!!!!

The Eagle Show

Tur til Roma, andre del

I Vatikanet, der del én sluttet, gjennoptar vi Roma-trÄden. Sagaen fortsetter. I farger. Iallfall de fleste bildene.

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Her har vi utsikt fra toppen av Peterskirken. BĂ„de den ene og den andre veien.

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Kirken er overdÄdig utsmykket, spesielt innvendig. Ingen tegn Ä spore etter nÞysomhet her nei. HÄhÄ. NÄlÞye til himmelen ser ut til Ä ha fetet seg opp litt siden Jesu tid. HÄhÄ. Slik ser for eksempel taket ut:

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Tilbake igjen pÄ utsiden sto vi, med lange varme bukser (synlige knÊr var nemlig ulovlig). StÄr du midt pÄ Petersplassen kan du ikke se at det er tre(?) ringer med sÞyler, da de er plassert radielt rett bak hverandre. Ser du derimot fra et hvilket som helst annet sted, ser det omtrent slikt ut:

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Jeg har fremdeles ikke gÄtt lei vidvinkelen min (som er brukt i 4 av 6 bilder sÄ langt..) og knaller pÄ med iallfall ett til.

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Det blir fort lunsjtid etter den evidelige trappetraskingen pÄ vei opp (og ned!) til/(fra) toppen av kirken. Vi kastet terning (du vet en sÄnn en med to sider, der det stÄr pizza og pasta) og det ble pasta til lunsj. FornÞyde vandret vi videre i retning Piazza Navona.

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Dit kom vi aldri! ..men vi fant tilslutt veien til Borghese-parken.

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Der stÞtte vi pÄ denne litt overraskende karen:

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…og denne overraskende bjĂžrnen som ikke var helt klar/konsekvent nĂ„r det gjaldt rĂžykebestemmelsene:

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…og nĂ„r vi fĂžrst er inne pĂ„ temaet rĂžyk:

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Vel hjemme pĂ„ hotellet og rett fĂžr kĂžyetid, fant jeg det fram en ukjent “kreativ” side av meg selv:

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Morgenen etter skulle vi mÞte Meyer og Fredrik som ogsÄ tilfeldigvis befant seg i Roma samtidig som oss. Etter en litt treg start pÄ dagen, med en del vanskeligheter for Ä komme oss framover i denne byen (fotgjengeroverganger = parkeringsplass), fant vi tilslutt fram til Forum Romanum & Colosseum, der vi skulle mÞtes.

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Hva gjelder Colosseum, den ubestridt mest kjente severdigheten i byen (for ikke Ă„ si landet), sĂ„ synes jeg den gjĂžr seg godt pĂ„ bilder – fra utsiden vel og merke. Hadde ikke like mye hell fra innsiden.

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Ingen skikkelig bloggpost uten minst én mÄke:

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Og som alltid her pÄ bloggen, bilde ut av flyvinduet pÄ vei hjem!

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