tisdag 7 augusti 2012

Way home throught Russia

After a few days in Omsk I headed west, were lucky the first day, caught a truck going 900 km to Chelyabinsk. It wasnt really my plan to go there at that time but I changed my plan. Spending some days in Chelyabinsk with musicians, streetperformers. I made some busking. Didnt make much. Compared to China atleast. From there my luck ran out and hitchhiking went slow, perhaps first time of the trip I got tired holding my arm up trying to stop cars. waited atleast one hour between every ride, sometimes two. I remembered Russia as an easy country for hitchhiking but this was not the case for me this time. Slowly I made my progress towards Kazan and arrived one evening to this beautiful city where I stayed with couchsurfers for two days. Last bit to Moscow also went slow but made it finally. Fewer days than I planned there, decided to make it fast back to Sweden. I was just to close to home, couldnt stay anywhere more than a day or two..

A friend joined me for the Moscow St. Petersburg hitch and as a girl and a guy we made it alot faster than me alone. Also in St petersburg i didnt stay long. Went one rainy morning for the border of Finland and finally made it across after getting slow short rides the whole day. As i crossed the border it had stopped raining and the sun even peaked out for a bit. Border crossing very smooth. Got an ride to Helsinki that evening, catching cars of the highway, no problem. Got hosted by an friendly couple in Helsinki and made it to Turku the next day. There I were checking out the circus school for a bit and bought some juggling clubs from a friend.

Then the ferry. The last bit to Sweden. The ferry was full of drunken party people ofcourse and I couldnt sleep on my bench, got perhaps 1.5 h sleep and tiredly I entered a sunny Sweden in the early morning hours. Payed an totally insane price of 44kr of the subway of Stockholm and reached the hitchhiking spot close to Hallunda station. Took me an hour to get a 350km+ ride to Skara. Hitched fast some cars to my mothers house outside Ulricehamn. There i surprised my family, them not knowing im coming. Now back in my home in Västra bodarna, close to Gothenburg city.

Some statistics of the trip..(more accurate and more might come later)

Distance and lenght
Lenght: 12 November 2009 - 5 August 2012, (2 years and ~9 months)
Distance travelled: ~70 000 km
Hitchhiking: 41 000 km
Sailing: 25 000 km (13700 NM)
Trains & Buses: ~2500 km
Ferries: 2000 km
Airplane: 2000 km
Cycling: 1300 km
Walking: ??+ km

Longest time on the sea: 28 days (San fransisco- Marquesas), 26 days (Cape verde - Martinique)

Photos and videos taken: 7000
Diaries finished: 5

Countries passed throught: ~30
Most time spent: Australia, Indonesia, China
Least time spent: Brunei, Kazakstan
Smallest country: Niue(260 km²)
Biggest country: Russia (17 075 200 km²)

Attempted robberys: 1
Successed robberys: 0
Petty theft: less than 5
Lost items: Flashlight, Small knife, Mobile phone
Country of most food poisioning: China
Worst food poisioning: Vietnam

Many nights in tents, many in peoples homes, many in Couchsurfers places. A few few in hotels which were not payed by me.

Tents bought, exchanged or found: 6

Inside my bag

1 Tshirts: 4
2 Long pants: 1
3 Shorts: 2
4 Shirts: 2
5 Juggling balls made with balloons and rice(from sweden)
6 Rain protection (used maybe 5 times in 1 year)
7 sleeping bag cover(used as sleeping bag most of the time)
8 Towel given by indonesian family
9 Bag with art stuff(brushes, sketches, photos, pens)
10 Bag with stuff( strings, screwdriver, screws, stuff)
11 socks
12 books, dictionaries, maps (bought or given in various countries)
13 winter gear (from sweden)
14 diaries
15 chargers and electronic stuff
16 hiking shoes (bought in malaysia)
17 sleeping bag (from sweden, cover from france)
18 tent rolled up in sleeping mat(tent exchanged with friends in china, sleeping mat given by friend)
19 small loudspeaker (china, 10 euros)
20 juggling torches made in china, kerosene
21 juggling clubs bought in finland, balls given in finland, contact ball gift from russia.

To theese things comes also a small bag with cameras, money, passport and so on.

First and last day of the trip.

And now what.

lördag 14 juli 2012

Waiting for cars. Pavlodar, Kazakstan - Russian border
Bishekek to Omsk

So I managed get the Russian visa. Seemed almost impossible for a moment but turned out to be not that difficult in the end. I got a original Letter of Invitation from Stantours, costed me 85$ to get it shipped to Bishkek, took no more than 1 day. With this i went to the embassy and somehow managed to convince the lady to accept my visa application without having an kyrgyz visa that would be valid 1 month after my arrival to Russia(this seem to be the new rules) applied on Thursday and picked up visa on tuesday(52$)

Wanted to make it fast to Omsk and make the most out of my 29 day russian visa that would start the day after I picked it up. I've decided to describe the hitch Bishkek-Omsk in boring statistics this time, here we go:

Kazakstan south to north

Distance: 1 809 km
Time: 51 hours
Number of vehicles: 15
     Cars: 13
     Old Kamaz truck: 1
     Milk truck: 1

Longest ride: 432 km (Karaganda-Pavlodar)
Shortest ride: 1 km ( in city of Karaganda)
Longest wait: ~1 hour (North of Pavlodar towards the border)
Shortest wait: 5 minutes
Average wait: 10 -15 minutes

Number of times police helped me get a ride: 2
Number of rides given by police: 1 (100 km Jambyl province)
Number of nights spent in Police road post: 1 (Pavlodar)
Number of nights spent in abandoned Police road post: 1 (Balkash)

Money spent: 325 Tenge (1.6 EUR)
Money earned: 170 Tenge (0.9 EUR)

Number of times asked if im married: 9
Number of times asked when i'll get married: 6
Number of times asked if i'd like to marry Kazak girl: 4
Number of hours looking out over a flat steppe: Too many

And thats it. Im in Omsk, in few days heading west west west. some cities on the way, dont know which yet, Moskva st petersburg and finland before 9th when my visa ends. Then almost home.
Friendly driver pouring Kymyz, fermented mares milk
This man stopped a truck for me
Henry throught the looking glass


fredag 29 juni 2012

Urumqi to the border and Kyrgyzstan

I had luck leaving urumqi in the afternoon, got a 1.5 day long ride all the way south of Taklamakan desert, to Hetian. From there i made it to Kashgar and finally the last 150 km to the border. The road was terrible the last bit and it took a day. At the border in the morning the border guards checked my passport and claimed I was lacking a exit stamp(so make it please!) The explained this was not longer the border post, the imigration has moved to Ulugqat. ULUGQAT? Thats 120 km back, on the worst road. There was no way i had to go back. Another 6 hours in a truck. In Ulugqat i was told to come back on monday(this was friday) The border is closed on the weekend.. I wanted nothing else than to cross into Kyrgyzstan but there was no way. Finally i went back to Kashgar, had dinner with some Uiguyr people i met, got a mild food poisoning, slept on the roof of an artifical cave, tried to do busking cause i was almost out of money having changed my cash earned in china to euros. Made 10 Yuan(1 euro) in 20 minutes(great huh). Hitched back towards the border, got a cold, spent some time next to a river, was given loads of nan bread and tea by the people in the villages as i was walking to make the time pass. Monday morning, caught another truck went 7 hours to the border, slept in an abandoned shop on the border. crossed finally into Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday morning. I was worried they Kyrgyz guards would make some long and uneccesary search of all my bags but nothing, the first guard greeted me with a handshake and said 'welcome!'.

Caught a Kyrgyz truck to Osh, beautiful road, so nice throught mountains and rain. Lots of yurts along the way and the horses and sheeps ofcourse. My driver invited me to his house outside Osh and i was treated with the most delicious food and then a well earned rest, having slept badly for some days. In Osh i stayed a few days with a couchsurfer. Mostly walking around and juggling in the parks ofcourse.

City of Osh seen from the sky
Next i headed northeast, taking the small road from Jalal-abad to Kazarman, the road was narrow and steep, heading up up up, into fog and rain, lots of animals on the road. Stayed one night in Kazarman with the driver and family. The onto the emty road to Ak-tal, bought some supplies and started trekking to Song kolm an lake on 3000 m. Before the evening i was offered a ride(which i later had to pay for) Another mountain pass with narrow dangerous curvs. Only this time it was in the night with a car from soviet times. So, the battery was crap i suppose, had to push it to start, sometimes overheated and we had to fill up with water, then push it downhills(backwards) for the driver to start in reverse. Doing this on the narrow road with the cliff closeby i was happy to be pushing, not driving. Rain came and ofcourse the windshield wipers occasionally stoped working making visibility hard or non existing. As a grand finale up on the pass the headlight ocassionally stopped working, leaving a pitch black narrow road in front. Scary.

Hardcore vodka drinkers of Song kol and old car
Two nights in Song kol with mixed feelings for this place i left walking.. Until a car offered to take me down the pass, some more walking and finally reached Kochkor in the evening. There happend a weird story, a little bit funny but quite sad involving 4 drunk men fighting eachother somewhat over me and then hugging crying fighting again, ah the story requires explanation however lets for now leave it to one simple explanation, Men drinking to much vodka.

Finally made it to Bishkek where im staying with Couchsurfers and making a Kazak visa. The there is two routes and i have to choose. Russia or Caucasus. I prefer russia but visa is difficult atm..

Henry managed to hitchhike a horse a few km

onsdag 6 juni 2012


Almost 3 months ago since i wrote anything in this blog, partly because china has an internet block on certain websites, partly cause internet is hard to find unless you have a computer and partly cause i've been busy doing other things. Well im still in china, in Urumqi, a city of almost 3 million people and the city in the world furthest away from any sea.

North of Lijiang

Entering china in March from the border of Vietnam was a huge contrast, no more muddy small roads but big highway systems. I made it to Nanning as first city where i just stayed a few days with a couchsurfer at the university campus. Then heading for Kunming, Yunnan, a province in the very south west bordering Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. I stayed for some time, what was meant to be one two months across china became two months in Yunnan, mostly concentrated on busking, making juggling and acrobatic shows. The time divided between the cities of Kunming, Dali and Lijiang. Met up with friends and got a short job juggling at a festival outside of Lijiang. For one month working together with an Argentinian girl making a clown-acrobatic-juggling show which we performed on the streets of Dali and Kunming. Busking in China works well, a few places the police tells you you have to move but always in a very polite way. One visit to the police station in Lijiang i had to promise never to do busking in the ancient city of Lijiang again, IF i would do so i would be forced to pay 1000 Yuan(125Euro) in penalty, letter signed and nicely sealed with around 15 fingerprints. All  accompanied with lots of tea and a relaxed atmosphere in the police station.
Painting in Fabrizios house in Dali, 40 random words
Debora and Henrik in the mirror, Kunming

Practicing for the evening fireshow in Dali
Another Painting in Dali

Yeah time went fast in Yunnan with lots of friends and projects.. Made my second extension(and last possible for tourist visa) in Kunming, then helped my Argentinian friend who had injured her foot to the airport in Chongqing where she flew back to south america. From there, the airport of the huge city of Chongqing i started the nonstop hitch to the north. First day i didn't make it far, too many highways in every directions slowed my progress north, got hosted by the staff of a highway toll station that night, next day i made it further, still having problems explaining what im doing to most Chinese drivers thought, some times i were left in the very south of a city and ending up walking for half a day through the whole city south to north, to get on the right road again. Standing on a gas station somewhere outside Tianshui, just west of Xian, the friendly staff at the gas station offered me to sleep in the generator room and helped me catch the best ride the morning after. Two trucks carrying 19 cars each heading for Urumqi. I went with them for 50 hours, sitting in one of the cars they were carrying. Sleeping comfortably at night and in the day seeing the mostly flat landscape of northern Gansu province and east Xinjiang pass by.

I arrived in Urumqi 2 days ago and now waiting for my Kyrgyzstan visa, the cost was a hard 455 Yuan(60 euro) for the slowest process time 5 days. On Monday i pick it up and head straight for the border. Another 1500 to go in China..

Henry, Urumqi
50 hours throught Gansu and Xinjiang provinces, Western china

torsdag 22 mars 2012


Im right at the border Vietnam-China. Entering China in about one hour. Down in the center Vietnam i continued cycling, made it up to Tuy Hoa where i decided to head into the mountains for a bit. Getting of the main AH1 highway(im sure it cannot be called a highway). The road was quieter and everything was more relaxed, until one afternoon when i must have been peddaling to hard in thoose mountains, I started getting pain in my right knee. The day after it was even worse. I could not continue anymore, I was cycling with only my left leg and still the pain in my right knee got worse. Well, i cannot continue all the way to china anyway. I've been staying to long in good people homes and the time of my visa is not enough to reach the far north. Getting a bit tired of this anyways. Yes china was calling me. The knee was a great reason to give my bike away and make nonstop hitch towards China. The last evening i ended up stuck in a small mountain pass, a missunderstanding forced me to cycle the last10 km in pitchblack darkness, so black i could hardly see the road even less the possible holes in the road, my flashlight was stolen a few days before but thats another story. It was raining and everything felt pretty miserable for a while. However i reached the city of Chuse. I never thought iwould make it with the knee, forcing me to slow down and take it so easy. In Chuse the road 25 connects with a bigger road north so would be a great place start hitchhiking.New owner of bicycle

I was hosted in a restaurant that night and traded mybicycle for two slices of watermelon with a young man who worked as an mechanic. Then i caught a few rides towards the Ah1 mainroad again. Slow hitchhiking, missunderstandings, understandings. Finally managing to make it to Quang Ngai and the AH1 road again. Hosted in an internetcafe full of mosquitos i slept badly and were tired in the morning, caught a ride with a guy heading for Hoi An, he had driven nonstop from Muine, 14 hours, and i was complaining i was tired! Outside Hoi an i planned to continue directly but met some great people who offered to host me for the night, decided to take one day to rest. Next morning i was walking along what seemed to be an never ending narrow road with construction work on both sides, not the best place to hitch a ride, however in this place where i walked and occasionally hitched i caught a truck, a man and his son heading north. And a great ride it was, we were driving nonstop for 30 hours until we reached, guess where, Lang Son, border with china. A good 1000 km+

So here iam now, ready to cross over to china. My original plan was to go to Kunming, but with the ride i had ichanged my plans and now heading for Nanning, the Kunming. And it looks like it might be a wet hitch looking at the dark clouds making this morning look like a late evening. I'll wear a raincoat.Vietnam

torsdag 15 mars 2012

Roadside painting close to Phan Rang,Vietnam
+ kid that wanted a tattoo
Desert and sky

Still cycling.. I dont know where iam, but around 40 km south of Nha Trang, on road AH1 in Vietnam.. I started of cycling down to Phnom penh, that feels like some time ago now.. Stayed a few days in this city. Then headed for the vietnamese border. Teamed up with a cyclist from Catalunya for two days across to Vietnam and to Ho chi minh city. Cycling into this city was crazy and crowded. Never seen that amount of motorbikes before. Food made me sick, took me a week to fully recover. The 200 km to Phan Thiet was the hardest cause i weren't feeling all that great. A few days of relaxing in Phan Thiet. Cycled the small coastal road which in some places looked more like the top of a sand dune than a road. Desert. The bumpy road made a puncture in back tire, luckily i was close to a village and got it fixed, then it broke again cause of bad fix at the same place on the road, i walked back once more.

I stayed a couple of days with a family in Phan Ri an quite amazing small city. Planned stay no more than one night but ended up staying four. Heading north the wind headed south and made my progress slow, constant in my face. There were times when even i had to fight going downhills.. This morning i decided to give my bike away, had another puncture in the back tire and there were no inner tube in the village. A reason for me to give up cycling with this terrible wind going against me all the time. Just when i started unpack the bike someone showed up with a inner tube and i decided to continue a bit further. Less wind today and i have new energy. I'll go on for few more days. 1000 km so far from Battambang..

Note to self, never again go long distance cycling without tools to repair bike.Bike and the south china sea

Camouflaged sleeping next to AH1

lördag 25 februari 2012

Now on 2 wheels for a while!
Arriving with few hours left on my visa for Thailand to the border of Cambodia where they tried to scam me on both sides and failed. Spent a terribly sketchy night in Poipet, this dodgy border town, in a alley using my tent as a mosquito net, which failed pretty badly.. The 100 km hitch to Battambang was long due to all the private taxi's i had to say no to. Started thinking of a new way to travel for a change. Cycling.

Got a second hand bike in Battambang for 40 dollars. Spent almost a week there, its a great place with lots of things happening! Then i left for Phnom penh, took me 3.5 days to do the 290 km, I was hosted here and there, slept in tent some nights, one night in a temple, another in a garden. Enjoying this for me new way of traveling, full speed down the road, making many breaks for fresh coconuts and noodles. Now in Phnom penh i might do a small mural project. Leaving in a few days to Vietnam.

I'll go on the bike until it breaks.. 150 km to the border of Vietnam, another 60 to Ho chi minh city then over 1700 km to the chinese border.. :)

måndag 13 februari 2012

Mural made for Toom before leaving Bangkok..
Im just about to leave Bangkok for Cambodia.. The last couple of months since i last wrote has been great, arriving in Malaysia after that long nonstop hitch from Jakarta. I spent few days in Melaka with couchsurfers, hitched down for few days to Singapore, more couchsurfing and busking, a few sessions of juggling and acrobatics on the street paid well. North again up to Kuala lumpur, organized a CS-juggling event which gathered not many but a few people. Some busking over there aswell which gladly paid for some birthday supplies for my host. Left for Thailand, some rides with trucks some with cars, managed to get out of KL easy, waited few minutes on the motorway paystation until a truck brought me to Ipoh. Restarea hitching just like in europe. A couple stopped and brought the 300+ km to their house and then next morning the remaining 40 km to the border to Thailand.
Ailee spinning the poi in KL

Thailand, suddently a new language, after thoose months spent in Malaysia and Indonesia, my bahasa melayu and bahasa indonesia were quite allrite for easy conversations with driver. In thai i couldnt even introduce myself or say thanks. Hitchhiking went ok though, got some rides with cars, some with motorbikes. Next day ive made it to the island of Koh samui where i met my father after not seeing him for over 2 years. We spent one week walking around the island on the beaches.. After a bit over 2 weeks on theese island i hitched towards Bangkok, had a ride with a driver going..fast.. and overtaking in the most breathtaking ways. Arrived in the evening to Bangkok where i met up with Tiphaine in the CS house of Toom. We spent few days before heading north. Hitchhiking was easy, we spent a few days, Ayuthaya, Sukothai looking at ancient temples, museums. Mostly staying in tent but sometimes were hosted in families. After Sukothai, west to Mae sod, next to Burmese border, scruffy border town i think Lonely planet would describe it as but we had interesting time there meeting people helping refugees from Burma in different ways.. North of Mae sod is the biggest refugee camp of South-east-asia, we pass an checkpoint driving a while along the camp, some barbed wire fences, lots of people walking along the road, little kid trying to hitch a ride with our driver then checkpoint again and forest, villages. Beautiful road along the river dividing Burma and Thailand.
Temples and Hitching

One night we were hosted by a police in a kind of police station, he opened the room, moved a few things, put a rifle that was leaning against the wall under the bed instead and welcomed us to sleep in the room. We made it up to Mae hng son, cold night up in the mountains, down to Chiang mai, some couchsurfing over there, few days relaxing after many nights in tent. Easy hitching to Chiang Rai, further to the border of Laos, which we entered on the 24th january.

Laos was harder for hitchhiking, our first day we got a ride with a Thai truck driver heading for the border of China. Stopping half the way we slept in a tent and had our coldest night up in the mountains. In the morning we were freezing and were invited to heat ourselves around the fires the kids had started to get some morning heat. COntinued with another truckdriver we made it to the junction of the north-south "highway". Not many cars, most of them Chinese. Finally a Chinese did stop and we went for hours throught mountain passes. In Muang Xai we were hosted in a classroom in a temple, got a rideto Luang Prabang with a Lao-english couple. Luang Prabang was full of tourists but we enjoyed sleeping well on the sandy riverbanks of Mekong river.. We had to wait few hours to get out of Luang prabang, finally a Lao man with his children offered to take us to Vientiane. He was not the greatest driver in the world and the roads were small, curvy and full of motorbikes on the wrong side of the road. We made it thought. Skipped Vang Vieng and its river full of drunken westerners in tractor tubes. We had not found a couchsurfing host in Vientiane so set up a tent in a park. Three soldiers came just when the tent was up told us we could not sleep there. After some gentle arguing they said we could move 30 m out of their responsibility. Woke up with 30+ Lao people around us doing their morning workout. Next night we set up a tent in a temple garden instead which was better.

Went a bit further in Laos and crossed into Thailand in Thakaek. Just one week in Laos. But somehow it did feel enough for this time. Further some days in flat but amazing eastern Thailand. Mukdahan, Ubon Ratchatani, Nang Rong. Temples, great people and park-camping.. Finally we get a ride the last 400km to Bangkok on the back of a pickup truck(and had a storm so we sat under a tarp) Back to Bangkok, back to the amazing CS house of Toom! Tiphaine went back to Indonesia a few days ago. Now im off to Cambodia in about one hour. Hoping to make it to the border before 8:30 pm not to overstay my visa. I already got my Chinese Visa here in Bangkok. but first Cambodia, Vietnam. Not sure about what to do there but have a few ideas!

Wish me luck!!
Tiphaine and friends in Mukdahan