Ankor på vift

A freedom-oriented travel blog

Hacker’s Congress 2017, Paralelni Polis

Our visit to Prague this time was for the Hacker’s congress at Paralelni Polis, where we also held a presentation at a bitcoin meet up a few days before the conference started. We had really high expectations, because we visited last years version of Hacker’s congress and we had a really interesting and inspiring time, so we didn’t expect less for this year’s version. Hacker’s congress covers more topics than cryptography and programming – it is about finding freedom in an unfree world and how you can hack your life to become the greater you. A few of the talks are available at World Crypto Network if you are interested.


Vårt besök i Prag den här gången var för den årliga “Hacker’s Congress” vid Paralelni Polis, där vi också höll i ett föredrag på ett bitcoinmöte några dagar innan konferensen startade. Vi hade väldigt stora förväntningar, då vi besökte förra årets version av “Hacker’s Congress” som var otroligt bra och inspirerande, så vi förväntade oss inte mindre för årets version. “Hacker’s Congress” täcker fler ämnen än kryptografi och programmering – det handlar om att hitta frihet i en ofri värld och hur du kan hacka ditt liv för att bli ett större du. Några av föreläsningarna finns tillgängliga på World Crypto Network för dig som är intresserad.

It was time for the 2017 version of Hacker’s Congress and these were the topics covered during the Congress.

The Hacker’s Congress was held at our favorite place in Prague, Paralelni Polis which means parallel city in English.

This year 5% of the attendants were Swedish, and we have met many of them before, so we went out for dinner with a few of the Swedes. One of them brought a really nice cap to the table!

Adam Back was one of the speakers talking about Bicoin and he devoted his talk to the scalability and fungibility problems of bitcoin. His talk is one of the recorded talks uploded to the World Crypto Network hosted by Tone Vays.

Tone Vays was another speaker who mainly focused on talking about the history of the Bitcoin price. We’ve heard this before at Anarchapulco 2016 so it was not so much new things for us.

Pamela Morgan made people start thinking about what will happen with your cryptocurrencies when you die.

Peter Todd was here taking about Proof of Work and what a blockchain and mining are trying to prevent. Really good talk.

Giacomo Zucco had a great talk about the antifragility of bitcoin.

Hacker’s Congress is a three day conference and you can only pay for food and beverages in bitcoin and litecoin. No Fiat-money here!

Julia Tourianski a.k.a brave the world, had a talk about what she’s learned about people after she discovered bitcoin.

Jeffrey Tucker had an interesting talk over Skype about bitcoin and Austrian economics, which is in line with how we see bitcoin.

In the breaks, we tested Paralelni Polis own beer.

Our focus was bitcoin, but other topics was also interesting for us. Pavol Luptak talked about the possibilities with the new technologies available.

Paul Rosenberg talked about bio hacking and the CRISPR-technique.

Juraj Bednar had an inspiring talk about positive libertarianism or how to be free in an unfree world.

And Arto Bendiken had a highly interesting talk about anarchy and tribalism – Ulrika thought that this was one of the best speeches at this year’s Hacker’s Congress.

You could try the new fashion make up at the Hacker’s congress so you can avoid the face recognition algorithms in a public space, It is not for avoiding face detection algorithms, for that you need scarf and sunglasses etc to cover up you face.

Panel discussions on different topics were also on the agenda. Here, Smuggler, Frank Braun, Jim Bell. Paul Rosenberg and Joerg Platzer about the impact of cryptoanarchy and decentralization to our future.

Lastly, the crew of Hacker’s Congress said goodbye and welcomed us to the next year’s version of HCPP.

Life nomadic with Bitcoin and an unschooling family

We got invited to hold a lecture about our nomadic lifestyle and why we want to opt out from the current economic system at the Bitcoin meet up here in Prague. We gladly accepted and below you can watch the whole lecture and the Q&A afterwards. It was really fun to see that so many were interested in hearing about the nomadic lifestyle we have and why we want to opt out from the current economic system.

We have also spent time with the King family that uses unschooling to help their kids learn about the world and life, so we also want to show you a few pictures from inside such a cool family. Caroline is also one of the persons behind the Prague Worldschooling-group, so check out what they are up to.


Vi blev inbjudna att hålla en föreläsning om vår nomadiska livsstil och varför vi vill opta ut från det nuvarande ekonomiska systemet på Paralelni Polis här i Prag under ett Bitcoin meetup. Vi accepterade inbjudan gladligen och nedanför kan du titta på hela föreläsningen, samt frågestunden efteråt. Det var jättekul att se att så många var intresserade av att höra om den nomadiska livsstilen vi har och varför vi vill opta ut från det nuvarande ekonomiska systemet i världen.

Vi har också spenderat tid med Kingfamiljen som använder “unschooling” för att hjälpa sina barn att lära sig om världen och livet, så vi vill också visa dig några bilder från insidan av en sådan cool familj. Caroline är också en av personerna bakom Prags “Worldschooling”-grupp, så kika gärna på vad de gör.

 

 

This is a few of the unschooling books that are used to teach the kids. You won’t find these kind of topics in the Swedish state curriculum.

Winston is using these cards to teach his youngest brother the periodic table, but we think that Edward is a little bit to young for that. Also not a thing you would see in a Swedish classroom for 7-year olds.

We also wanted to help to educate the kids and when Henry and Winston showed interest in climbing we brought them to the boulder bar here in Prague.

They advanced quickly so now they are having rope climbing lessons!

We also introduced them to zombie hide and seek so we had to have som breaks just resting on the mattress.

Take every question you get from a child as a learning opportunity. Here Ulrika talks about how animals have different defense systems during our bouldering session.

Virtual reality is another thing we tried with the King children.

And we showed them how to build your own microscope with your smartphone and a laserpointer.

a wasps eye up close

A close up on a human thumb.

the root of a strand of hair

Close up on brave boys sacrifice for science – learning about the blood system.

Through Atlas Obscura, we found an underground alchemy lab that where only re-discovered after a massive flooding 2002. So we thought that this would be an interesting thing for the boys to look at.

Atlas Obscura is a great website that we use to find interesting things to see and do.

The secret alchemy lab is from the 16th century and they were built for the king Rudolf II for the purpose to try to make gold and to make the legendary philosopher’s stone.

They also made different elixirs to prolong life, make you healthy or become more happy. There was a whole room underground dedicated to dry the “magical” herbs.

From the laboratory, there are long, underground tunnels connecting the laboratory to the castle and other places in Prague.

A sign from King Rudolf II where he gives the scientist the approval to run the alchemy lab.

They sell elixirs that are prepared by a local monastery under strict conditions according to their original recipes. More pictures from the lab can be found below.

 

We also went to the Magical cavern in Prague, a painting gallery by the artist Reon Argondian. He turned his home into the Kingdom of Argondia and he also sells the paintings that are on display.

The paintings shows the magical creatures living in the Kingdom of Argondia.

They also have sculptures, who seems to have an apetite for small children :). More pictures from the Magical cavern can be seen below.

 

Diving around the Gili Islands – throwback to the end of April

Ulrika has finally edited our diving movies from the Gili Islands, so here is a throwback to the end of April when Ulrikas family decided to join our adventure in Indonesia. Gili Air was our first stop and it was also here we where diving. Crystal clear water and a lot of marine life – Gili Islands is a great diving spot according to us! 


Ulrika har äntligen redigerat våra dykfilmer från Giliöarna, så här är en tillbakablick till i slutet av april när Ulrikas familj bestämde sig för att följa med på vårt äventyr i Indonesien. Gili Air var vårt första stopp och det var också här vi ägnade oss åt dykning. Kristallklart vatten och mycket marint liv – Giliöarna är en bra dykplats enligt oss!

This time looking back to the end of April when we visited the Gili Islands, or Gili Air to be precise.

Ulrikas family were with us and it was here Ulrikas sister broke the news that a new family member is coming. That’s why she couldn’t follow us to the dive sites.

Ulrika, Pontus and Mats dived with the 7seas dive center on Gili Air and we can highly recommend them. We had an awesome time together with them 🙂 Below are four dive movies from around the Gili Islands.

On our first dive next to Gil Trawangan we saw our first tiny ribbon eel, also known as the leaf-nosed moray eel or bernis eel!

Mats followed us to our second dive site, called Turtle heaven, and this dive site really lives up to its name!

Our third dive was a wreck dive, but we only got a few minutes around the wreck because of the strong current that suddenly appeared. The dive turned into a drift dive and we realized why when we came to the surface and saw the wall of rain coming from the sky. We got picked up by another boat, because we drifted so far that we were no way near our dive boat.

Fourth and last dive was next to Gili Meno and with much nicer weather than our third dive.

Maja and Mats next to the beach of Gili air with Lombok in the background.
It was nice to snorkle around Gili air, we got to see a white frogfish here that we recorded with our GoPro.

We’re getting closer to be up to date with our blog now when all our dive movies are edited and published. We are back on track again and next will be about saying goodbye to the King family in Prague and unschooling, stay tuned!

Waiting for little brother – the King family

The day Edward Satoshi King decided to come out was getting closer and we kept ourselves busy so the days wouldn’t feel so long. The Czech Republic has stupid laws about medically induced birth, so Caroline did everything she could to start the birth  so that Caroline could get the home birth she wanted and had planned for. You can read more about it on their blog “den andra resan”. In the mean time we were just hanging out with the King boys and their parents.


Dagen då Edward Satoshi King bestämde sig för att komma ut kom allt närmare och vi höll oss sysselsatta så att dagarna inte skulle känna så långa. Tjeckien har idiotiska lagar om medicinsk-inducerad födsel, så Caroline gjorde allt hon kunde för att få förlossningen att börja självmant, så att Caroline kunde få hemfödelsen hon ville ha och hade planerat för. Du kan läsa mer om det på deras blogg den andra resan. Under tiden umgicks vi med King-pojkarna och deras föräldrar.

We got to spend a lot of time with the King family, especially Winston and Henry. We took the boys exploring and we first planned to go to the KGB museum, but we changed our minds and started walking towards the Museum of Communism. We think it is important to educate children about the destructive powers of communism and collectivism, so that’s why our theme of exploration  looks like it does.

We walked over the tourist magnet, the Charles bridge in Prague, and luckily for us it wasn’t so crowded as it could be. It was a bit of a walk so Henry got to sit on Pontus shoulders overlooking the people.

The view from Charles Bridge.

We passed a medieval torture museum and suddenly we were looking at what humans are capable of.

The imagination is the only limit.

The King boys are fascinated by different car models, so the walks often take longer than planned when we are with them.

Exploring more vehicles and this one had participated in the Dakar rally, a race that used to go from Paris (France) to Dakar (Senegal), but now the Dakar rally has moved to South America due to terrorist problems.

Breakfast with the King family, probably watching an interesting Youtube-video at the same time! By this time everyone thought that it was time for the fifth member  of the King family to join us.

The morning of August 18th, we finally got the word that something was happening. We went over to the King family at 7am in the morning and helped filling the birthing pool. Then our mission was to be standby in an adjacent room so we could be ready to take care of Winston and Henry if it was needed. It was an amazing experience to be apart of and the delivery went quite fast according to us :).

A few minutes after Edward Satoshi King was born, we were welcomed to join the family and Ulrika got the precious task of being the photographer. We can recommend everyone to read Carolines birth story linked below.

The birth of Edward Satoshi King 

The whole family captured in one photo.

Pontus holding Edward!

And Ulrika holding him!

Baby sleeping on a table! You have to put up with a lot if you’re born into a nomadic family 😉 We have gathered more pictures of the King boys in a slide show below for those who are interested.

 

 

Paralelni Polis, Cryptocurrencies and Steampunk in Prague

Paralelni Polis is a place where we feel comfortable in and it is the center of Bitcoin-activity here in Prague. We spent our days in Prague with the King family or sitting here in this place with our computers. We just let our pictures speak this time, so enjoy the cryptocurrency world in Prague and our visit to a really cool, steampunk-inspired bar!


Paralelni Polis är en plats där vi känner oss hemma och det är centrum för Bitcoinaktiviteten här i Prag. Vi tillbringade våra dagar i Prag med Kingfamiljen eller så satt vi på PP med våra datorer. Vi låter våra bilder tala denna gång, så njut av kryptovalutavärlden i Prag och vårt besök på en riktigt cool, steampunkinspirerad bar!

Paralelni Polis is another reason why we like Prague so much. Here is where the Institute of Cryptoanarchy is located and where the Hacker’s Congress 2017 will be held in a few weeks. We will  be there, will you :)?

Close up on the sign outside the entrace.

Paralelni Polis accepts only bitcoin and litecoin, so you have to hold some cryptocurrency or change fiat money to real money at the atm inside the cafe when you want to buy any food or drinks here.

Coffee, beer and internet access is all we need 🙂

Paralelni Polis hosts regular Bitcoin meet ups, mostly in Czech. Occasionally there are English-speaking meet ups, like this one where a really cool it-woman, named Gili, talked about traveling the world, how to live of only cryptocurrencies while not having any bank accounts. It was awesome to meet and speak with Gili and hope that we will meet somewhere else in the world.
We will also hold an English-speaking Bitcoin meetup here on October 3rd, so come by and say hello to us if your’e in Prague!

Bitcoin is hot in Czech Republic so we got to appear on Czech national TV, in the background (can you spot us?), when they had a half-hour long programme about Bitcoin. They aired live from Paralelni Polis, so they wanted us to look busy meantime 🙂 Thanks Rebecca for the screenshot!

We also met up with Daniel, a fellow Cor.ax-conference attendee. We introduced him to Paralelni Polis, the King family and Bitcoin, and it was nice to get to know each other here in Prague.

Alza.cz is i huge electronic retailer that has just started to accept bitcoin as payment. They even have a Bitcoin atm, so we took Daniel here so he could get his first bitcoins.

At Alza you can buy everything from kitchenware, mobile phones to Tesla cars. If you buy anything with bitcoin, then be aware that you need to wait for one confirmation for smaller cheaper stuff to six confirmations if you purchase more expensive stuff. We can recommend to either buy online first or go to the Vietnamese market next door to have lunch while your’e waiting.

If you’re not into cars, then perhaps electric motorbikes would interest you. They also have a game room and a VR-corner, so there is no problem to spend a few hours inside this store.

Daniel stayed a few days in Prague and we went out for dinner during his last night in Prague and then we thought that we would check out a cool, steampunk-inspired bar here in Holešovice. From the outside the Cross Club (the name of the bar) looks like a tiny bar with a small outdoor seating area, but we were so wrong.

The cross club just blew us away, with its interior design and lightning. It is spread out like a labyrinth on several floors with different dance floors, a pinball room and bars. This is a DJ-booth on one of the dance floors.

One of the bars at Cross Club. This night club is a really cool experience that we can recommend if you come to Prague!

The outdoor area we first saw is just a tiny part of the night club. There is so much to explore here and you find cozy corners everywhere, so Ulrika thought that this night club was well-suited for introverts, not so much open areas and you can easily find a booth or a corner where you can get away from people 🙂 Daniel took a picture of us together (Thank you Daniel for the picture!). More pictures from Cross Club can be found in the slide show below

 

We hanged out with the King boys so that their parents could prepare for the coming birth, and it was Winston and Henry who showed us the way to another cafe in Prague, where they also accept bitcoin as payment.

The boys were eager to show us all the games the cafe have and the cool interior of the place.

We ordered fika and played Monopoly here, but “A Maze in Tchaiovna”-cafe offers a lot of different things from poetry nights, Ted-talk nights, free Language lessons etc to more adults only activities. Just check out their schedule online!

Absolutely love to see this sign! It is also lovely to see how interested Winston and Henry are in crypto-currencies and how much they understand. Henry created his own bitcoin-wallet necklace with his public and private key printed on the back, of course BIP-38 secured 😉 He was so proud of it so Ulrika had to make a short movie of him with his very own bitcoin-wallet. Then it was time for Edward to meet his family, but more of that in our next blog post.

Here are som links, if you want to take a closer look on anything we written about in this blog post:

Back in Prague hanging out with the Kings

We were back in Prague for a special reason and we came here to stay for an unknown length of time, because we waited for a special person to join us. We love to spend time with our friends the King family, their travel and unschooling blog can be found here, and we realized that we’ve only known each other for two years, but it feels way longer. The first time we met each other was in Bali 2015, after we got in contact through the Swedish Bitcoin community on facebook, and we share the same values and thoughts about moral and ethics, so it is nice to hang out with them.   


Vi var tillbaka i Prag av en särskild anledning och vi kom hit på okänd tid eftersom vi väntade på att en speciell person skulle komma till oss. Vi gillar att tillbringa tid med våra vänner King-familjen, deras rese och unschoolingblogg finns här, och vi insåg att vi endast har känt varandra i två år, men att det känns som att vi känt varandra mycket längre. Första gången vi träffade varandra var i Bali år 2015, efter att vi kom i kontakt med varandra i den svenska Bitcoingruppen på Facebook. Vi delar samma värderingar och tankar om moral och etik, så det är trevligt att umgås med dem.

We were now back in Prague, hanging out and helping these guys! How many pregnant, almost 40-weeks, women do you see climbing around in a park?

We went here to take care of Winston and Henry when their little brother would decide to come out.

And to see cool stuff like the Výstaviště (the industrial palace) in Prague, which is an exhibition ground built in 1891 for the World’s fair exhibition.

Out on a walk in the Park Stromovka in the rain with Caroline and the boys in the first half of August.

Stromovka park!

The Czech Republic is not famous for its natural lakes, so Caroline and the boys took us to a nice outdoor pool during the hottest days in August.

Winston and Henry got hold of our hats and sunglasses!

Pontus is useful when you want to be an airplane.

Henry want to compare his tummy with mom, whose is bigger?

We found a child-size motorbike outside a restaurant, so the kids had to try it out.

Henry a.k.a Daredevil, driving with his eyes closed and hands in the air.

Pontus and I also explored Holešovice and surroundings, and found both a small harbor and an allotment garden. This part of Prague is really nice to explore by foot. More pictures can be found in the slideshow below.

 

We found a floating tiny house, built with a container, along the harbor! It looked really nice!

We also had a local pig walking around in the neighborhood with her owner #thingsyouseeinPrague

There are a lot of local pubs and restaurants here in Holešovice, this one stood out, but we didn’t try it.

The public transportation system in Prague is so easy to use. There are subways, trams, buses etc to get around here. There is even a small boat called P7 that you can take, which goes between Holešovice and Karlín.

The P7 boat that took us over the Vltava river. The island Štvanice can be seen in the background.

The King family had described for us how to find the tunnel under the Vítkov hill, and we found it! Now it was exploration time.

The tunnel goes straight through the hill and we wondered if this was some kind of bomb shelter during the wars.

We found the National Monument on top of Vitkov hill and it was an impressive building built between the world wars in honor of the Czechoslovak legionaries. It was then used to promote and glorify the Communist regime after the second world war ended. Since 2009, the building has been reconstructed to be a National memorial site.

We got a great view over Prague from Vitkov park. Below are more pictures from the park and Holešovice. We walked more than 10 km this day, so we got to see a lot of interesting architecture.

 

You’ll find a Vietnamese market in Holešovice where the Vietnamese community have their businesses. Social engineering during the communist years had Vietnam and Czechoslovakia to send people between each other, like a forced cultural exchange. We heard that most Czech people moved back to this part of the world after the communists were removed here, but the Vietnamese decided to stay, go figure! We love Vietnamese food so we loved going here to eat.

We hanged out and did a lot of things during these weeks, but most of the time we were just patiently waiting for the fifth member of the King family to join us. More about that later!

Gozo – diving around the former Azure Window

Malta and Gozo are known to be good for diving, so we had to descend below the surface here. Our main purpose of our visit to Malta was the Corax conference, but we had one day scheduled for diving and the choice fell on Dive systems Malta and their “Diving around Gozo”- package.  We only had time for two dives, so we went to the “Inland Sea and Tunnel”- and the “Blue hole”-dive sites. The Azure Window is not standing there any longer, but luckily for us, it is now part of the marine life next to the Blue Hole, which was one of our dives here.  If we had more time on Malta, we would have loved to dive around some of the spectacular wrecks from the world wars that are laying around at the bottom of the sea next to Malta or explore more of the fantastic underwater limestone-caves here, but we have to spare them to another time. Going to Gozo was also interesting, we had been to Malta one time before, but we had saved the Northern part of the Maltese archipelago, because we knew that we were coming here for the conference. Below are pictures from our last days on Malta for this time.


Malta och Gozo är kända för bra dykning så vi var tvungna att ta oss en titt under ytan. Vårt huvudsakliga syfte med besöket på Malta var Corax-konferensen, men vi hade en dag planerad för att dyka. Valet föll på “Dive systems Malta” och deras paket “Dykning runt Gozo”. Vi hade bara tid för två dyk, så vi bestämde oss för att dyka vid “the Inland Sea and Tunnel”- och “the Blue hole”. Azurfönstret står inte  längre där, men lyckligtvis för oss är det nu en del av det marina livet bredvid “the Blue Hole”, vilket var ett av våra dyk. Om vi hade haft mer tid på Malta hade vi dykt vid några av de spektakulära vrak från världskrigen som ligger på botten runt Malta eller utforska mer av de fantastiska kalkstensgrottorna, men vi får bara spara dem till en annan gång. Att åka till ön Gozo var också intressant, vi hade varit på Malta en gång tidigare, men vi sparade då den norra delen av den maltesiska skärgården till en annan gång, då vi visste att vi skulle komma hit för konferensen. Nedan finns bilder från våra sista dagar på Malta för den här gången.

We went diving with a fellow conference-attendee during our last days in Malta. We would only have time for two dives, so we choose the smaller island Gozo to be where we would explore the underwater wildlife of the Mediterranean sea. This is the first time diving in this part of the world so we were quite excited about what we would encounter down there.

We had gotten to know our dive-buddy Per during the conference and now we met up with him early in the morning outside our dive center.

We got suited up with dive gear, not this old relic though – it is just a historical piece standing in the dive shop.

We went with Dive Systems Malta and they had nice new sets of dive gear. They also give you bigger tanks in their standard equipment. With a bigger oxygen tank you will be heavier, mind that when you have to walk to the dive site from the parking lot (see the videos further down), but you will have plenty of oxygen. This is good if you’re a heavy breather.

It takes around 2.5 hours to go from Sliema on Malta to the East part of Gozo, where we were going to dive, including taking the ferry between the islands.

We got to see the landscape in Northern Malta while we we’re getting closer to the town Cirkewwa, from where the ferries are departing.

Malta is mainly beige, with a few colorful spots here and there.

They do have a few parks here and there so when we saw a bit of green, we just had to take a picture.

Even an old English phone booth breaks the seemingly endless sandy look of Malta.

The ferry departs frequently, so we didn’t have to wait long for a ferry to take us to Gozo.

Mġarr is where the ferry takes you when anchoring on Gozo. Gozo is the second largest island in the Maltese archipelago and Gozo has long been thought to be Ogygia in Homer’s Odyssey, where the nymph Calypso held Odysseus captive for seven years.

Gozo is more rural than the main island Malta and Gozo has been inhabited at least since 5000 BC.

We arrived at Dwejra around lunch time and suited up for our dives. It was really hot this day, as you can see in our videos below. We were curious what we would see below the surface and we concluded that it was different from diving in Southeast Asia and in Central America. However, we loved the limestone underwater caves and the different corals and fishes here. The parrot fish, a common and really colorful fish in SE Asia, where not colorful at all here. The famous Azure Window, that fell into the sea in early spring of 2017, was also interesting to see. The Azure Window was a main tourist attraction of Gozo, but is now laying in pieces at the bottom of the sea next to the Blue Hole. We had two great dives here, then it was time to head back to the main island Malta.

Peculiar thing seen in Gozo – be aware of the CCTV cameras in the toilets :p

Back to Malta and the sunbathers! If you want sand beaches instead of cliffs, go to Gozo or Comino!

We also had time to participate in the Balluta Parish Our Lady of Mount Carmel – festival, which happened in Balluta bay in the end of July 2017.

The first Carmelite friars went to Balluta bay on the 22nd of May 1890 and first had a small church, but the increasing number of followers made it so that they had to rebuild the church many times since then. This is the current church today, standing in S:t Julians.

Close up on the top windows in the church, looks kinda like a scary movie with this light setting.

“Our Lady of Mount Carmel” or “the Blessed Virgin Mary in her role as patroness of the Carmelite Order” is what is celebrated during this festival. Here, the friars carrying around a statue of her at the festival.

The festival ended with fire works and our time on Malta ended here as well.

We said goodbye to Malta and headed North again, this time to Prague visiting our friends there.  Our hostel had an interesting map of Europe hanging on the wall, picturing the main products of agriculture in different parts of Europe.

Liveaboard – Diving in the Andaman Sea part II: Similan Islands

Part II of our liveaboard adventure begins when we entered the waters of the Similan National Park, a very famous dive area with a lot of dive sites and beautiful Islands. Part I was all about the Surin Islands and Richelieu rock, a more remote location where most boats that come there are dive boats. Now in the Similan islands we would encounter a lot more tourists and people snorkeling near the beaches. We were here in the beginning of March, so the high season for tourists were over so there weren’t to many people here. However, we can imagine crowded beaches here during the peak of the season.  


Del II av vårt liveaboard-äventyr börjar när vi kom in i Similan Nationalpark, ett välkänt dykområde med många dykplatser och med vackra öar. Del I handlade om Surinöarna och Richelieu rock, ett mer avlägset område där de flesta båtar som kom dit är dykbåtar. Nu på Similanöarna skulle vi möta många fler turister och människor som snorklar nära stränderna. Vi var här i början av mars, så högsäsongen för turister var över och då var det inte alltför många människor där, men vi kunde föreställa oss hur trångt det skulle kunna vara på stränderna här under toppen av högsäsongen.

Day 2 of diving we entered the Similan National Park, which consists of 11 islands. Similan means nine (in Yawi) and from the beginning the park consisted of nine islands making up an archipelago, but in 1998 two more islands were included in the National park, Koh Tachai and Koh Bon.

We reached Koh Tachai, the most northern island and latest added to the Similan National park list of islands, around lunch on dive day 2. Some information about Koh Tachai: Original name Koh Bua after the unique Lotus flower that used to grow on the island. The 2004 tsunami wiped away all flowers so the island was renamed after one of the first fishermen who came to the island after the tsunami: Uncle Chai (TaChai).

Our dive number 8 on this trip was scheduled during the sunset so we didn’t bring our gopro for this dive.
More information about Koh Tachai: The island is located between the Surin Islands and the main Similan Archipelago, quite close to the Richelieu rock where we dived previously that day (dive day 2). Whale sharks and Manta rays can be seen here, but luck wasn’t on our side on this trip.

Next day, dive day 3, we had traveled to Koh Bon for dives number 9 and 10. Koh Bon has two main dive areas, the ridge/bay and the Pinnacle, which is deep and prone to currents. The first dive for us here was next to the ridge.

Our tenth dive on this trip was north of the ridge and it was here that we got to see our first Guitarfish, which we first thought was a shark, but it belongs to the family of rays.

Then it was time to travel down to the main Similan archipelago, the original nine islands which have given this part of the world its name. We did our last dive of the day here, before it was barbecue time with our dive companions and the dive crew.

We did only three dives this day, so our barbecue party could start early.

Erica, Vita and Shing while waiting for dinner. We had good times together on the boat.

The sunset on dive day 3. The morning after would be our last dive day with the Sea dragon’s liveaboard.

Dive day 4 and we would have our last two dives on the West side of the archipelago. We also had time to visit Koh Similan, the largest island out of the nine islands in the archipelago.

We headed up on the “mountain” on Koh Similan to get a better view over the island.

It is an easy and short hike up a human-made trail, so shoes are not needed. The white powder on our feet are sand from the beach.

The view over the bay, Ao Kuerk, on Koh Similan. We don’t have a lot of pictures with us together so we took the opportunity to be in the same picture together.

The water is crystal clear so to jump from the rocks was amazing.

We found a strange looking dead creature near the beach. More pictures from Koh Similan can be found in the slide show below. Then it was time for our two last dives on the trip.

 

We had all three dives in the archipelago on the West side, which is known for its huge boulders and swim-throughs. Diving on the East side is said to be different with gently sloping coral reefs and sandy patches.

Then it was time to get back to the mainland and for us that meant to get back to Khao Lak and waiting for our friends to arrive.

Our first time in Berlin

From Dubrovnik to Berlin, in a month we had managed to travel south to north across Europe and our focus was to visit old and new friends. Berlin wasn’t in our plans from the beginning, but a certain sport retailer had us convinced that we wanted to go here. Why not try to see some of the historical grounds here in Berlin while we stayed here, we said to each other, so here are some pictures from Berlin! 


Från Dubrovnik till Berlin, under en månads tid hade vi lyckats resa från söder till norr genom Europa och vårt fokus var att besöka gamla och nya vänner. Berlin var inte i våra planer från början, men en viss sportaffär hade övertygat oss om att vi ville åka hit. Varför inte försöka se några av de historiska platserna här i Berlin under vår vistelse sa vi till varandra, så här är några bilder från Berlin!

Our purpose in Berlin was not to explore the historical sites of the city, but we couldn’t resist to walk around one day and see some of the historical areas and Die Mauer was one of them. More about this day later.

First, it  was time to upgrade our gear and we went to Berlin solely for the purpose of visiting a Decathlon outlet.

They sell everything from outdoor gear and ballet clothes, to scuba equipment, sailing and horse stuff, so this is the biggest sports goods retailer that we have visited.

Pontus shoes needed to be upgraded, so say hell to a new pair of cheap, but qualitative, Kalenji sneakers.

The Decathlon store we went to is located at Alexanderplatz, a large transport hub in Berlin.

You get a good view of the Fernsehturm, a communistic propaganda building constructed between 1965 and 1969. The Ferneshturm was intended to be a symbol of communist power and of Berlin.

Fika-time at Alexanderplatz.

and waffles that got our sugar levels spiking.

There is a construction company in this part of Europe that has an interesting company name Porr (Porn in Swedish) with the Swedish flag colors.

We lived in Friedrichshain, a part of Germany that was severely damaged during the second world war, because of the Allies heavy bombings on industrial buildings that were located in Friedrichshain. After the war, the Stalinallee was built in this neighborhood and  Friedrichshain was the cultural center of East Berlin.

After the Wall fell, a lot of apartments stood suddenly empty here in Friedrichshain and this attracted the attention of squatters, which can still be found here today,

There are a lot of vegan alternatives in this part of Berlin, so it was special to find a non-vegan place.

The last day we had gathered enough energy to spend a day walking around to different historical places and look at the architecture in the city.

We walked past the Berlin Cathedral or the other name for it: Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church. The church standing here today stood finished 1905, but the Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church and its community dates back to 1450’s.

We walked down the historical parade street Unter den Linden, which was constructed by Elector John George of Brandenburg in the 16th century so he could reach his hunting grounds in the Tiergarten.

Unter den Linden starts at the Berlin Palace, a place that dates back to the 1450’s.

Brandenburger Tor, another historical monument that has meant a lot for both monarchs, Napoleon and the Nazi’s.

We visited Tiergarten, the big park in the middle of Berlin. This was the royal families private hunting grounds. In 1742 the fences around the park was torn down by Frederick II and the park was now open for the public.

A short stop looking at the German Reichstag, which was constructed after the unification of Germany in 1871.

We passed the Holocaust Memorial.

Potsdamer Platz, named after the city Potsdamer and the area marks the point where the old road from Potsdamer passed through the city wall of Berlin. This was a No-mans land during the cold war and Potsdamer Platz became one of the earliest points where the Berlin Wall was breached in 1989.

You’ll find Checkpoint Charlie, the most famous of border crossing checkpoints between East and West Berlin, near Potsdamer Platz, The Berlin Wall was built because of the heavy brain drain from East to West, between 1949 and 1961, over 2½ million East Germans fled to the West. This was so damaging to the political credibility and economic viability of East Germany., so they started to construct the Wall in 1961.

A standoff occurred between U.S. and Soviet tanks at Checkpoint Charlie soon after the Berlin Wall was built. The dispute was about if East German guards were authorized to examine the travel documents of a U.S. diplomat. 10 Soviet and 10 American tanks stood 100 yards apart on either side of the checkpoint for more than 24 hours. The standoff ended peacefully.

Love the placement of McDonald’s.

Pontus and Die Mauer – Next to Checkpoint Charlie lies a Wall museum where you can see a piece of the Wall, together with a lot of pictures and historical descriptions surrounding the history of the Wall. From the construction of the Wall and histories about both fatal and successful escape attempts, to the days when the Wall was torn down.

We found beautiful street art about this historical place around checkpoint Charlie, so it was nice just to randomly walk around here. Then it was time for us to leave Germany.

Liveaboard – Diving in the Andaman Sea part I

Finally, Ulrika has taken the time to go through all our movies and photos from our Liveaboard adventure in Thailand so this will be a throwback to the end of February when we went out with Sea dragon, a Khao Lak based dive center that  has its own boats traveling up and down the west coast of Thailand taking divers out for adventures in the Andaman Sea. We choose to do a 4 days/4 nights liveaboard going from the Surin Islands down to the Similan Islands with a total of 13 dives during the days (and nights) out on the sea. The crew and dive masters where awesome and the food served was really good, so we had a great time with the Sea dragons that we will remember forever.


Äntligen har Ulrika tagit sig tid att gå igenom alla våra filmer och bilder från vårt Liveaboard-äventyr i Thailand så detta blir en tillbakablick till slutet av februari när vi åkte ut med Sea Dragon, ett Khao Lak-baserat dykcenter som har sina egna båtar som färdas upp och ner vid Thailands västkust och tar dykare ut på äventyr i Andamansjön. Vi valde att göra en 4 dagars/4 nätters liveaboard som gick från Surinöarna ner till Similanöarna med totalt 13 dyk under dessa dagar (och nätter) ute på havet. Besättningen och dykinstruktörerna var fantastiska och maten som serverades ombord var riktigt bra. Vi hade en underbar upplevelse med Sea Dragons som vi kommer att minnas för alltid.

Our first stop was the Surin Islands where we would do our first four dives. We had traveled to these Islands during the night, so we could do our first dive early in the morning on day 1.

Mu Ko Surin National Park is an archipelago of five islands 60 km from the mainland and only a few kilometers from the Thai-Burmese oceanic border. The ethnic Moken minority, known as “chao lay” or “sea gypsies”, are the only humans living on the Surin islands.

We got a chance to walk on the main Surin Island and explore a small part of the national park. The park is closed during rainy season, 1 May-31 October, so during that time no dive boats go to this part of Thailand.

We brought our masks so we could do some snorkeling, but there wasn’t much to see under the water here. It was more things to see looking out from the beach. We then went out on our second dive before lunch.

We went out with the M/V Andaman boat and it was our Liveaboard-home for a few days. So we could relax on the sun deck reading a book or lay down under the roof listening to a podcast between dives. We have put together a slide show with pictures of the boat if you want to see how a Liveaboard boat could look like.

 

We could also talk with the other Liveaboard people on the boat. Siim and Kajsa were our dive companions, sharing the same dive master, so we did all of our dives together. Siim and Kajsa are working in the Finnish/Estonian film industry and Siim had become a bit famous after his last movie ( Mother, 2016) so some Estonian people on vacation in Thailand had recognized him.

Emil was our Swedish dive master who took us out on the under water adventures! Thanks Emil for our days with the Sea Dragon Liveaboard, you made it an awesome time for us.

It was encouraging to see the number of dives the people on our boat had done. We were one of the least experienced with only 48 dives during this trip, some of the divers had done several thousands of dives up to this point.

Our fourth dive was a night dive around the Surin Islands, so we waited for the sun to set before we jumped into the water. We didn’t film during this dive, but it was a really nice dive.

On dive day 2, the M/V Andaman took us to Richelieu Rock, a famous dive site 18 km east of the Surin Islands. Richelieu Rock is known for its purple corals and the diverse marine life found there. You even have a chance of seeing whale sharks around this underwater rock mountain if you’re lucky (we weren’t that lucky).

The dive master, there were five of them taking care of different dive groups, held a dive briefing before each dive and told us what we could expect to see on different dive sites. We did our dives no 5 and 6 around this dive site. The coral is pink and purple, so Scorpion fishes here have amazing color pattern trying to disguise themselves among the corals.

Richelieu Rock became a dive site when diving pioneer, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, with the help of local fishermen, discovered it. It is a horse-shoe shaped pinnacle that rises 50 meter from the sea bottom and touches the surface during low tide. After our two dives at Richelieu rock, we had lunch on the boat while it took us  south to the island Koh Tachai. More about that in part II.

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