Ankor på vift

A freedom-oriented travel blog

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An old friend in Kings Landing

Dubrovnik or Kings Landing, depending on if you’re a Game of Thrones-fan or not, was our next destination. We ended up here because one of our old friends has relocated to this place and we decided to pass by and surprise her with a visit. There are direct flights from Istanbul to Dubrovnik, so this time we had an enjoyable flight with only a few hours in the air and no transit. It was Pontus birthday as well, so the flight attendants came and wished him a happy birthday and gave him a small present.
Within half an hour after we stepped on a bus towards Dubrovnik, the Old port of Dubrovnik showed up outside our windows and it was as to see Kings Landing, the only thing we missed was the giant fleets battling in wildfire. We were going to spend a few days here and we really liked what we saw.

Dubrovnik eller Kings Landing, beroende på om du är ett Game of Thrones-fan eller inte, var vår nästa destination. Vi hamnade här för att en av våra gamla vänner har flyttat till denna plats och vi bestämde oss för att komma och överraska henne med ett besök. Det finns direktflyg från Istanbul till Dubrovnik, så den här gången hade vi ett trevligare flyg med bara några timmar i luften och utan byte. Det var Pontus födelsedag också, så flygvärdinnorna kom och önskade honom grattis på födelsedagen och gav honom en liten present.
Inom en halvtimme efter att vi gick på en buss mot Dubrovnik, så uppenbarade sig den gamla hamnen i Dubrovnik utanför vårt bussfönster och det var verkligen som att se Kings Landing. Det enda vi saknade var jätteflottorna som kämpade i “wild fire”. Vi skulle tillbringa några dagar här och vi gillade verkligen vad vi såg.

Next stop for us was Dubrovnik, Croatia!

And we were here for this girl, Linda!

Blurry picture with Linda and her co-workers Amanda and Caroline. Linda has started to work here this season with Solresor. Linda is a fantastic history geek, so that is handy when she’s taking her customers out exploring the historic parts of Dubrovnik (in Swedish).

Linda brought us to Old town and told us about Croatian and Dubrovnik history. This is the Stradun, the main street of Old town Dubrovnik. We also filmed a few parts of our tour with Linda, which you can see below.

The shame-shame steps from where Cersei starts her naked walk through the mob (Game of Throne-reference again). It is much smaller in reality.

The old Port of Dubrovnik and the harbor of Kings Landing (Game of thrones-reference).

The big Onfrio’s fountain, near the Pile gate, is one of two fountains in old town. The fountains were built in 1438 to give people access to the 20 km long water supply system from the mountains. The big Onfrio’s fountain is the only fountain still in use today.

The clock tower in the end of the main gate was built in 1444 and shows both the time and the phases of the moon.

Orlando’s Column near the Clock tower has a sculpture of the famous medieval knight Orlando, or Roland which was his real name. There are famous songs written about knight Roland and the chivalry associated with knights are believed to come from knight Roland.

For a long time the old town used Roland’s underarm as a unit of measurement, 1 L equaled to approximately 51 cm. Merchants that came to Dubrovnik had to convert their goods to the unit before they could enter the market in Dubrovnik. People who bought for example a piece of fabric could go to the column and see that they weren’t fooled. They have carved out 1 L at the bottom of the column so people didn’t have to reach up to use knight Roland’s under arm.

The small alleys are packed with tables. The red flags, which are hanging at the entrance of the alleys, tell you what you can find further in the alley.

The war time photo museum is very interesting to visit, but can be hard on you if your’e sensitive to see the ugly parts of humanity. It was a war photographer that documented the Yugoslav wars, who opened this museum after the war. The main exhibition is photos from the wars on Balkan between 1991 and 1999, but they also have temporary exhibitions on display and a room full with selected pictures from earlier temporary exhibitions.

We headed up to Fort Lovrijenac after our tour in the old town. This place is called Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar and the Fort is built early in the 11th century to keep the Venetians away from Ragusa (the old name of the city). You get an awesome view over old town from the fort!

It was so much fun meeting Linda again and to see where she spends her days now.

Madam Tussauds Turkish style & goodbye Pina

Visiting Madam Tussauds was not in our plan for Istanbul, but we just happened to stumble upon the entrance and there was not so much people there, so we decided to walk inside and see what all the fuzz was about. We have to say that we really enjoyed the visit and it was a lot of characters that you were allowed to interact with. Then it was time to leave Turkey for Croatia and visit a long time friend that has recently relocated to this beautiful country.

Ett besök på Madam Tussauds var inte i vår plan för Istanbul, men vi råkade bara gå förbi entrén och det var inte så mycket människor där, så vi bestämde oss för att gå in och se vad Madam Tussauds handlar om. Vi måste säga att vi verkligen tyckte det var roligt då det var många karaktärer som man kunde interagera med. Sedan var det dags för oss att lämna Turkiet för Kroatien och besöka en gammal vän som nyligen flyttat till detta vackra land.

We got a surprise seeing Madam Tussauds here in Istanbul. There was no queue and the entrance fee was only 50 TRY, so we went inside and got to meet E.T!

There was wax figures of both International stars, like Michael Jackson, and Turkish famous people.

Here is Ulrika with Sabiha Gökçen (born in 1913), who is a Turkish female aviator and the world’s first female fighter pilot. The airport we landed on has been named after her.

Şahika Ercümen (born in 1985) is a Turkish world record holder in free-diving, meaning diving without bringing air supply.

There was also a room for famous scientists and technology innovators

Pontus with Steve Jobs, wearing matching sneakers.

And a setting from World of Warcraft. They also had a number of different actors and singers as wax figures, which you can see in our video from Madam Tussauds below.

The entrance to Madam Tussauds is on the shopping streets near Taksim square, so we found it just by chance, walking down the street.

The shopping street in Istanbul. Not so crowded right now.

We found a number of interesting shops on our walk there.

We also visited the famous Taksim Square, while being in this part of Istanbul.

And went through The Tünel, the world’s second oldest subterranean urban rail line according to Wikipedia. It is 573 meters long connecting Karaköy and Beyoğlu, and it’s a regular fare on the Istanbulkart to go with it.

Then it was time for us to leave Istanbul for this time and say goodbye to our new buddy Pina. She was an abandoned kitten, found in our hotel, when she was really young, she had barely opened her eyes. The Owner at Family Istanbul Hotel, Ayvaz, took care of her and she is now part of his hotel. We loved staying at Family Istanbul Hotel near Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, and we can highly recommend staying there for anyone who comes to visit Istanbul.

Topkaki Palace & Islam Medieval Science Museum

The Topkaki Palace was a place we wanted to visit while in Istanbul and we can highly recommend it. We bought a five day Museum pass, for 85 TRY (approximately 21 Euro) and it covers both Hagia Sofia and Topkaki  Palace (and a number of other museums around Istanbul), but it doesn’t cover the entrance to the Harem inside the Topkaki Palace. The entrance fee to the Harem costs 25 TRY (around 6 Euro), but they were renovating a large part of the Harem, so we didn’t think it was worth paying for a visit there after having been inside.  However, the rest of the Topkaki Palace was very interesting. The Museum pass included the Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam, which we wanted to visit before we said goodbye to Istanbul. Pictures, videos from both the Topkaki Palace and the museum can be found below.

Topkakipalatset var ett ställe som vi ville besöka i Istanbul och vi kan starkt rekommendera att spendera några timmar där. Vi köpte ett fem dagars museumskort för 85 TRY (ca 21 Euro) och det inkluderar både Hagia Sofia och Topkaki Palace, samt ett antal andra museer runt om i Istanbul, men det täcker inte inträde till haremet på insidan av Topkakipalatset. Entréavgiften till haremet kostar 25 TRY (ca 6 Euro), men de var i färd med att renovera stora delar av haremet, så vi anser inte att det var värt att betala extra för att gå in där nu efter att ha sett vad det har att erbjuda. Men resten av Topkakipalatset var mycket intressant . Museumkortet inkluderade också “Museum of History of Science and Technology in Islam”, som vi ville besöka innan vi sade hejdå till Istanbul. Bilder, videoklipp från både Topkakipalatset och museet finns nedan.

The entrance to Topkaki Palace, built in the 15th century. It was the residence for the Ottoman sultans for almost 400 years, and was home for 4000 people during the golden days of the Ottoman Empire.

A 3D-model of the Palace.

The Palace has 4 courtyards with lovely gardens.

And the insides are beautifully decorated.

The tobacco room with mannequins dressed up according to the fashion at that time.

The last courtyard with a beautiful rose garden. We’ve also made a short movie, which can be seen below, showing the different parts of the palace.

Both the Topkaki Palace and the Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam are situated in the Gülhane park.

The world according to the medieval muslim scholars.

Muslim scientist did do a lot of technological and science discoveries involving astronomy, time and navigation.

As well as in Medical technological innovations. Here is devices used by medieval otorhinolaryngologists, or ear-nose-throat doctors.

And these things are for the gynecologists, the bottom ones are specifically used for crushing the fetus head if the fetus was stuck in the birth canal and threatened the woman’s life.

There was also a section about war and defense innovations. This is a battering ram and a illustrated video of how this thing works can be found below.

Gülhane park is also a place to hang out in, so we did what the locals do there laying in the grass and enjoying the sun.

Hagia Sofia, Blue Mosque & Turkish food

We had just landed in Turkey where we last left you and now it’s time to show you some pictures from our stay in Istanbul.  Ulrika was sick most of our time here so the energy to edit movies and pictures was not there, but we managed to see  a lot of Istanbul anyways, probably due to Ulrika’s persistence, and tried a lot of different Turkish food. Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque was also on our to-do list, so here is some pictures and videos from our visits there.  

Vi hade just landat i Turkiet där vi lämnade er senast och nu känner vi att det är dags att visa några bilder från vår vistelse i Istanbul. Ulrika var sjuk mestadels av vår tid i Istanbul, så energin att redigera filmer och bilder fanns inte då, men vi lyckades ändå se mycket av Istanbul, troligtvis beroende på Ulrikas envishet, samt prova mycket turkisk mat. Hagia Sofia och den blå moskén var också på vår att göra-lista, så här är några bilder och videor från våra besök där.

Bosphorus – the waterway that separates Europe from Asia, and this view has been on Ulrika’s bucket list for a long time. We landed at the Sabiha Gökçen-airport on the Asian side of Turkey and took a bus over to the European side.

We had been travelling all night, with a transit in Iran, so seeing how the turks spell the word toilet was funny to us Swedes. It reminded us of a funny tv-sketch “Svenska för nybörjare” or Swedish for beginners 🙂

One of the reasons for our choice of destination was the food, or the craving for Turkish Kebab. Here, we’re eating two of our favorite dishes – Iskander Kebab and Beyti wrap drinking Ayran, a Turkisk sour milk drink which is really good, and ice tea.

The other reason to travel to Istanbul was this- Hagia Sofia. the 1500 year old church that is now a museum.

Hagia Sofia was a church for the first 1000 years, before the Ottoman empire transformed it into a mosque in the 15th century, It was a Mosque until 1935 when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk the first president of Turkey, transformed it into a museum.

The christian mosaic was covered with islamic patterns, because of the “do not portrait the image of god, which humans are”-rule in islam. However, the cover up has now been removed and the old mosaic pictures are being restored.

But you can still see the mix of islam and christianity in the church.

Inside the Hagia Sofia:

And some really old remnants are on display inside Hagia Sofia. Here is the lustration urn from Pergamom, an urn carved in a single marble block.

Hagia Sofia has a second floor from where you get a beautiful overview of the inside of the church, which you can see in the video above. The tunnel to the second flor is also remarkable. Think that here has humans walked up and down for 1500 years.

Here you also find a viking tag from a viking who took work in the guard force of Hagia Sofia approximately 1000 years ago.

When Ulrika was not feeling sick, we also tried to explore Istanbul. Public transportation in Istanbul is really cheap and easy to use. The Istanbulkart is the thing you want when using the trams, metro, buses etc in Istanbul.

Love the trams!

Also love the colors and patterns that are common here. The Shisha can be smoked everywhere here.

Turkish carpets!

We mostly enjoyed eating Turkish food, here is Pontus with an eggplant kebab.

Another favorite was the Turkish ravioli.

And the baklava. Here, together with apple tea another Turkish delight!

The Turkish ice-cream is our new favorite. It is similar to our Swedish favorite brand “Lejonet och björnen”.

We also tried roasted chestnuts, but Ulrika didn’t fancy them.

Turkish people really like their sweets!

We also visited the Blue Mosque while we were in Istanbul.

The Blue Mosque or the Sultan Ahmed Camii, was built under much controversy in the beginning of the 17th century. Sultan Ahmed I was not fortunate with winning wars, so he was not so popular. Then he financed the new mosque from the empires treasure promising a great mosque that ended up looking like the Hagia Sofia church, which just stands a few hundred meters from the blue mosque. However, the hand-painted blue tiles inside the mosque are beautiful to see.

Inside the Blue Mosque:

You have to cover up if you want to visit the church, so here is Ulrika looking like a “Påskkärrring”
Påskkärringar are seen in Sweden during Easter, where children dress up as witches and “travel” to Blåkulla on Maundy Thursday, for meeting with the devil. The children go around as witches, knocking the doors in the neighbourhood requesting treats and sing a song or give you a drawing.

We noticed that the number of tourists coming to Turkey are really low, illustrated by the picture. The prices has gone down because of that, so now you can find cheap accommodation in the old parts of Istanbul and it is not so crowded. We loved Istanbul so much that we decided to extend our stay here.

You’ll find the Hippodrome of Constantinople, today the Sultan Ahmet Square, with the obelisk remnants from the old days, just in front of the blue mosque. The first obelisk was erected during the 18th dynasty by Pharaoh Thutmose III (1479–1425 BC), but was transported to Constantinople in 390. The second obelisk is called the walled obelisk and it was erected in the 10th century by the Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. It was originally covered with gilded bronze plaques. The third obelisk (not shown here) is the serpent column, which was erected to celebrate the victory of the Greeks over the Persians during the Persian Wars in the 5th century BC.

Istanbul is beautiful and we met really nice people and animals here. Unfortunately, Ulrika caught the air-condition sickness just before we left Malaysia, so she’s lagging behind with the blog posts. She is much better now, so we will try to catch up in the coming weeks.

Transit in Tehran – Don’t panic and bring a towel!

We did a transit in Tehran and here is what we and the Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy think you should know:

  • First, if you fly with Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur to Tehran, be sure to bring Euro och US Dollar to show that you can pay for Visa. You don’t have to pay for Visa when doing a transit in Tehran, but you will not be allowed to check-in before you can show Air Asia personnel that you have the cash to cover a Visa. For Swedish and Dutch citizens you need to show that you have 75 Euro (as of May 2017) in cash before getting your boarding pass.
  • Females will not be able leave the aircraft in Iran without covering their heads with something, see picture below.
  • You will not get an Iranian stamp in the passport, even if you have to check in again at the Tehran airport, see picture below.
  • Bring something to eat, especially if you have a long layover in Tehran.
  • Don’t panic and bring a towel!

Vi gjorde ett byte i Teheran och här är vad vi och Liftarens guide till galaxen tycker att du borde veta:

  • Först, om du flyger med Air Asia från Kuala Lumpur till Teheran, var noga med att ta med Euro och US Dollar för att visa att du kan betala för ett iranskt Visa. Du behöver inte betala för Visa när du bara gör ett byte i Teheran, men du får inte checka in innan du kan visa Air Asia-personalen att du har pengar för att täcka kostnaden för ett Visa. För svenska och nederländska medborgare måste du visa att du har 75 Euro kontant (gäller för Maj 2017) innan du får ditt boarding-kort.
  • Kvinnor kommer inte att kunna lämna flygplanet i Iran utan att täcka huvudet med något, se bilden nedan.
  • Du kommer inte få en iransk stämpel i passet, även om du måste checka in igen på Teherans flygplats, se bilden nedan.
  • Ta med dig något att äta, särskilt om du har lång väntetid i Teheran.
  • Ta det lugnt och glöm inte handduken!

So how about the veil? Ulrika will cite the Hictchiker’s guide to the galaxy for this one: “A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”
And you can use your travel towel as a veil for the purpose of changing planes in Iran.  Most Iranian women we saw had a competition on who could wear the veil furthest back on their head before it would fall off their heads, so Ulrika just did what the locals do. Also, you don’t need to have a scarf or towel, a hoodie works just as well.

Except for the compulsory veil-wearing law, the transit in Tehran went quite smooth. The experience is even smoother if you’re flying with only carry-on luggage. It can get less smoother if you also have checked in luggage, but hopefully your luggage will follow you to your next destination.

You will not be the only one doing a transit in Tehran. This is the crowd doing a transit at the same time as us at 1 am in the night. Our flight from Tehran was departing at 4.30 am, so we spent the night at the airport.

We started our journey in Kuala Lumpur, but could not check in all the way to Istanbul, so we thought that we would have to go through immigration in Iran and check in again. Fear not, you don’t have to do that procedure. Instead you walk to the transfer desk and hand over your passport, your luggage ticket (if you have checked in luggage) and tell them your next flight. After this is done, it’s all about waiting. You will not get a receipt, but fear not, the Iranian government doesn’t want you here either, so you will get your passport back together with a boarding pass and a luggage ticket.

You will be waiting here most of the time, so come prepared with powerbanks to charge your computer or phone with and something to eat. You can’t find something to eat here, so bring it with you.

Iranian soil just outside the windows on the right. It would be interesting to visit you someday. Hopefully with no restrictions.

If your lucky, you will be allowed to be on the second floor eventually and it is here where all the duty free shops are located and the gates are also nearby.

Finally the guy in charge comes with your passports and your boarding cards in his pockets. They start to call out the names and you will get your passport in your hand after they check that the picture in the passport matches your face. We got our passport back approximately one hour before our flight was scheduled to depart, but we heard about people who got their passports back 15 minutes before departure and they managed to get on to their flights without any problem. However, the best thing about this procedure is that you don’t get an Iranian stamp in your passport. This means that you will avoid future immigration troubles in other countries by not having an Iranian stamp in your passport.

The veils come off as soon as you enter the aircraft again.
We flied with Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur to Tehran and with Pegasus between Tehran and Istanbul. This is quite a common route to go from Southeast Asia to Europe for a lot of backpackers, so we were approximately 20 people doing the same transit this night.

So now we are in Turkey and we’re loving it :). We chose between Duterte, Əliyev and Erdogan, and we finally decided to head to Turkey, because it was the cheapest and we had kebab cravings.

Singapore – Japanese rice beer, cats and otters

We did a short pit stop in Singapore visiting our friend Stefan who works and live there. We can really recommend Stefan’s Youtube-channel where he compares the way of living in Singapore and Sweden.  We have visited Singapore before so we’ve already seen Gardens by the bay and Haw par villa, so this time we took the chance of walking around the town without having to be surrounded by military. The last time we were here, Singapore celebrated 50 years of independence, hence the military parade. This time we settled for Japanese rice beer, cats and otters before we said goodbye to Southeast Asia for this time.  

Vi gjorde ett kort stopp i Singapore för att besöka vår vän Stefan som jobbar och bor där. Vi kan verkligen rekommendera Stefans Youtube-kanal där han jämför sättet att leva i Singapore och Sverige. Vi har besökt Singapore innan så vi har redan sett “Gardens by the bay” och “Haw par villa”, så den här gången tog vi chansen att gå runt staden utan att behöva vara omringad av militären. Förra gången vi var här så firade Singapore 50 år av självständighet därav militäruppvisningen. Den här gången nöjde vi oss med japansk risöl, katter och uttrar innan vi sa adjö till Sydostasien för den här gången.

This time we recorded more of our visit to Singapore so you will find a few videos hiding between the pictures. First out is a video recorded while we were travelling with the metro:

Visiting Singapore means that you will see a lot of cool buildings. I’ve gathered all the cool buildings we captured on photos in a slide show below.


Also much smaller buildings can be found here.  We also captured a few buildings on video for you to get a sense of how huge buildings are in Singapore.

And even more buildings are to come.

Be sure to carefully read warning signs or else it could go bad.

This is an unusual sight here in Singapore.

The Singaporeans are highly motivated to keep their city clean.

We were here ro visit our friend Stefan, here showing us his vehicle that takes him around the city. Thanks for letting us stay with you and all the interesting conversations we had.

Here is Pontus giving life-hack advice to Stefan (in Swedish):

Singapore is expensive, but you can find cheap places to eat called Hawker centres. Stefan showed us where to find good ones down town. This one is called Amoy street food centre.

We visited Orchard road, the big shopping street in Singapore.

We went to try Japanese crafted beer near Orchard road.

A Japanese red ale rice beer. It was really good!

The Singaporeans know how to place an smoke machine art installation, on the pedestrian street, unlike Swedish politicians, who puts them in traffic roundabouts.

Postnord, the Swedish post office system, should learn from their Singaporean colleagues how to be profitable – combine the post offices with a pub.

We also walked to the Riverside valley.

And looked at Clarke Quay with the colorful buildings. Below is a video showing Clarke Quay by day and by night.

The restaurants in Clarke Quay by night.

Here we also visited Neko No Niwa – The Cat Cafe.

Abandoned cats are taken care of here and you pay a fee to spend time with them that goes to the cat rescue organisation in Singapore. You have to follow specific rules when you’re visiting them, like don’t touch cats who are sleeping or eating. The rules can be found in the video below.

We also saw a big otter family that have settled in the Singapore river. We just caught them feasting on fish and frogs. Video of the otters can be found below.

Then it was time for us to fly to Kuala Lumpur, before we started our journey towards Europe. We didn’t do much sightseeing there, just patiently waiting for the day to say goodbye to Southeast Asia for this time.

Celebrating birthdays and visiting ground zero of the Bali bombings 2002

A lot of birthdays are coming up in the family, so we took the opportunity to celebrate everyone while we stayed in Ubud. However, the days in Bali was coming to and end for Ulrikas family, and we decided to spend the last 24 hours in the busy nightlife of Kuta, the party place in Bali.  Ulrikas family left Bali and a couple of days later we put our few belongings in our back packs and started our journey towards Europe.

Det var flera födelsedagar som närmade sig i familjen, så vi tog tillfället i akt att fira alla medan vi var i Ubud. Därefter började familjens dagar i Bali att närma sig slutet, så vi bestämde oss för att spendera de sista 24 timmarna i det livliga nattlivet i Kuta, partyplatsen på Bali. Ulrikas familj lämnade sedan Bali och några dagar senare packade vi ned våra få tillhörigheter i ryggsäcken och påbörjade vår resa mot Europa.

Our time in Ubud was all about celebrating birthdays and Ulrika’s sister will be 30 this year, so she got special attention and we went to her favorite restaurant in Ubud. Happy birthday little sister!

But first, surprise birthday celebrations for all of us, orchestrated by Ulrikas mother. Niklas turns 26 in May and both Pontus and Ulrikas birthdays are coming up, June and July respectively.

Maja took us to Nur Salon – a traditional Balinese spa and we got massages and facial treatments.

Be prepared to get your massage fully naked, no covering clothes here. As we’ve mentioned before, Balinese people have no problem or tabu with nudity. Women will be taken care of by women and men by men, so no need to be afraid trying it. However, expect to feel like a five-year old getting washed and cleaned by your mother again.

The inside of Nur Salon is beautiful and you will find both a beautiful flower garden and different creative art pieces around the property.

The restaurant we went to in the evening had decorated our table, writing “Happy Birthday” with flowers and lit candle lights for us. It was a really good day celebrating birthdays in Ubud.

Final days before the family was flying home to Sweden, and we spent them in Kuta.

Showing them Kuta beach from where you can watch airplanes coming in for landing.

And we visited “Ground zero” , the Bali bombings in 2002. In October 2002, a suicide bomber walked in and detonated the first bomb inside a pub in the middle of the busy tourist street in Kuta. Twenty seconds later, while people were running out in to the street, a second bomb (car bomb) went off creating a one meter deep hole in the street. 202 people people were killed and 209 people got injured.

Five Swedish citizens and 22 other nationalities were among the victims.

We stayed at the hotel in Kuta that has our favorite pool.

The pool is so clear so it creates funny illusions. Here is Niklas with tiny legs.

Pontus floating around on a duck.

We walked around in Kuta so the family could do some last minute shopping. We also found a really cool “steampunk”-like motorbike.

We had to eat at McDonalds at least once here. The price of a Big Mac menu is half compared to in Sweden.

We also took the family to our favorite restaurant in Kuta, Mamma Warung.

Last night with family before they left Bali.

It was sad to say goodbye, but we’ll see each other again soon!

We spent a few more days in Bali eating and hanging around a lovely little Indian restaurant, before we started our travels that will bring us closer to Europe. First stop is Singapore.

Slowboat to Bali and Ubud Monkey forest

How fun it would be to go with the cheaper slow boat from Lombok to Bali we thought. We will see so much of the western part of Lombok and the islands situated between Lombok and Bali we thought. The first part  by car went relatively smooth while it was bringing us to the ferry terminal in Lembar. The interesting part of the journey started when we arrived at the ferry port. In Lembar, we had to jump on a bus to get on the boat, while the rest of the tourists could walk on the ferry. Why we had to jump on a warm bus to carry us on board can speculated about. Even the locals on the bus had to jump off and walk onboard the ferry.
We had been informed that the slow boat would take approximately 3 hours. However, we can now refute that information. It took more than 4 hours to cross the thirty kilometer water passage and then another 2 hours where we had to wait just outside Padang Bai, the ferry port of Bali, where there was a queue of boats waiting to enter the harbor. The view was fine, but being so close to the goal, yet so far away, really got to us. We arrived to our favorite place in Bali several hours later than we expected, so take the fast boat if you’re not on a tight budget or in a hurry.

We wanted to show our family the small hub in the world called Ubud and one of the things we did in the city was to experience the Monkey Forest. It is an open park where several different groups of macaques live. The monkeys can move freely in and out of the park, but they stay in the area, because they are fed by park managers every day. Our tip is to visit the park in the afternoon, when the monkeys have been fed and are satisfied. Otherwise they can jump on you, which they might do anyway, and search your bag. Yes, they do know how a zipper works, and they will know if you have something edible on you. They also like ice cream so pay attention if you are in the vicinity of the park. The Balinese has a very natural relationship to nudity and you can find statues in the park showing that. You can also visit a spa to experience it, which Ulrika’s family got to experience, but more about that it in our next blog post.

Vad roligt att åka med den billigare långsamma båten från Lombok till Bali tänkte vi. Vi kommer få se så mycket av västra delen av Lombok och öarna mellan Lombok och Bali tänkte vi. Den första delen gick relativt bra med bil som tog oss mot färjan i Lembar. När vi sedan kom till färjehamnen, så började roligheterna. I Lembar var vi tvungna att hoppa på en buss för att överhuvudtaget komma på båten, medan resten kunde promenera på färjan. Varför vi blev inslängd på en varm buss för att ta oss ombord kan man ju spekulera över. Lokalbefolkningen på bussen fick däremot hoppa av och gå ombord på båten.  

Vi hade fått information om att den långsamma båten skulle ta 3 timmar och den informationen kan vi nu dementera. Det tog 4 timmar att tuffa de tre milen över vattenpassagen och sedan ytterligare 2 timmar där vi fick vänta precis utanför Padang Bai, hamnen i Bali, då det var en kö av stora båtar som väntade på att lägga in till hamnen. Utsikten var visserligen fin, men att vara så nära målet, men ändå så långt borta tog verkligen på psyket.  Flera timmar senare än vad vi räknat med kom vi till vår favoritplats i Bali, så ta snabbåtarna om du inte har en liten budget eller inte har så bråttom. 

Vi ville visa familjen den lilla oasen Ubud och en av utflykterna vi gjorde var att uppleva Monkey forest. Det är en öppen park där flera olika grupper av makaker lever. Aporna kan röra sig fritt i och utanför parken, men de stannar kvar i området då de blir matade av parkansvariga varje dag.  Vårt tips är att besöka parken på eftermiddagen då aporna är mätta och belåtna. Annars kan de hoppa på dig, vilket de kan göra ändå, och rota i din väska. Ja, de förstår hur ett blixtlås fungerar, om du bär på något ätbart i väskan. De gillar även glass så var uppmärksam om du är i närheten av parken. Balineser har ett väldigt naturligt förhållande till nakenhet och det är synligt om du ser på statyerna i parken. Du kan också uppleva det om du besöker ett Spa, vilket Ulrikas familj fick erfara, men mer om det i nästa inlägg.

The family got to experience the local way of taking the bus, on plastic chairs!

It was much nicer on the roof of the ferry! Rebecca certainly enjoyed the fresh air.

We did see a number of different islands and an Indonesian military ship. Lombok in the background.

Niklas at the time we still thought that we only would spend approximately 3 hours on the slow boat.

But it would turn out to be more than 5 hours on the slow boat.

Finally in Ubud and resting by the pool after a long day of travel the day before.

The siblings are solving crossword puzzles together.

We brought the family to a vegan restaurant that accepts bitcoin, called the seeds of life, and we think most of the family enjoyed the experience.

We also visited the Monkey forest in Ubud, 50 IDR per visitor and you can buy bananas inside for 20 IDR if you want to interact with the monkeys. There are rules on how you can interact with the monkeys in the park, so be aware of the signs describing them for you.

There are temples inside the park, which you can not enter, but you can see the statues surrounding the temple.

Here is one example of how the Balinese is not afraid of nudity!

And here is another example.

Monkey forest in Ubud. The park is open for the monkeys to walk in and out of.


Exploration time in Ubud.

The Wallace Line – separating Bali and Lombok

It’s not just a cultural difference you notice when you travel to Lombok from Bali, but you have also crossed an evolutionary biological line called The Wallace Line. Just before Darwin published his book “On the origin of species,” the naturalist and explorer Alfred Russel Wallace explored the islands of southeastern Asia. Between 1854 to 1862 he explored the Malay archipelago and took notes on the species of plants and animals that lived on each island he visited. He did so from today’s Malaysia via Borneo down to Bali, and when he planted his feet on Lombok, he discovered something very peculiar. It is only about 30 km of water that separates Bali and Lombok, but animals and plants that were common on the islands he had previously visited was now absent. Instead, he noted several plants and animals that he had seen only in Australia. So he formed a hypothesis that all islands east of Borneo and Java was part of an Australian, or a former Pacific continent, that the eastern islands had separated from. Wallace findings from the Indonesian archipelago gave support to Darwin’s theory of evolution, which was published 1859, and in 1869 the well-known biologist Thomas Huxley named this dividing line between the islands the Wallace Line.

In 2017, it was the family Englund/Mai/Persson/Lindblom’s turn to set their feet on Lombok and for two days explore the island.

När man åker över till Lombok från Bali, så är det inte bara en kulturell skillnad man får se, utan man åker också över en evolutionsbiologisk linje, kallad “The Wallace Line”. Just före det att Darwin publicerade sin bok “om arternas uppkomst”, så utforskade naturalisten och utforskaren Alfred Russel Wallace öarna i sydostasien. Mellan 1854 till 1862 utforskade han den Malajiska arkipelagen och på varje ö han besökte noterade han vilka arter av växter och djur som levde där. Han gjorde så från dagens Malaysia via Borneo ned till Bali, och när han gick i land på ön Lombok upptäckte han något besynnerligt. Det skiljer endast cirka 30 km mellan Bali och Lombok, men djur och växter som var vanliga på öarna han tidigare besökt lyste nu med sin frånvaro. Istället noterade han åtskilliga växter och djur som han endast sett i Australien. Han formade en hypotes om att alla öar öster om Borneo och Java bildade en del av en australiensisk eller Stillahavs-omfattande kontinent, från vilken de senare separerades. Wallace fynd från den indonesiska skärgården gav stöd åt Darwins teori om evolution, vilken publicerades 1859, och 1869 namngav den välkände biologen Thomas Huxley denna skiljelinje mellan öarna till Wallacelinjen.  

2017 var det familjen Englund/Mai/Persson/Lindbloms tur att sätta fötterna på Lombok och under två dygn utforska ön.

The Wallace Line. Separates Southeast Asia from Australia.

Picture taken from here, where you also can read more about Alfred Russel Wallace.

We rented scooters one of the days to drive around and explore Lombok.

Maja and Mats on our first stop just south of Senggigi.

If Bali is called the islands of thousand temples, then Lombok is the island of thousand mosques. That is another thing that differs Bali from Lombok, and most islands in Indonesia, the religion in Bali is Hinduism and in Lombok it is Islam.

The street of Senggigi, a town close to where we stayed in Lombok.

We went to the beach in Sengiggi to see where the locals where swimming.

At least the locals are growing the same thing in both Bali and Lombok.

We had an awesome accommodation in Lombok. The White Rose is situated just 5 kilometers south of Senggigi and is very pleasant, if you don’t want to live in the center of the town.

And it’s quite close to the Cowshed, which is an awesome steakhouse and dart place.

We rented a car (and a driver) for our second day in Lombok and went out exploring the northern part of Lombok.

Lombok is so green!

We found macaques on Lombok, which also must have crossed the Wallace line at some point.

We visited a local market and we learned that our favorite fruit in Bali, the snake fruit, does not grow in Lombok. It is imported from Bali, so we found evidence for the Wallace line right here in the market.

Our goal this day was to hike in the mountains and to see waterfalls.

The Lombok people transports crystal clear water down from the mountain using aqueducts (sorry for terrible exposure in this photo).

An aqueduct that is also a bridge and a waterslide for local children.

First waterfall we visited was Sendanggia and you can see a video from our first part of the hike just below.

Then we walked for 30 minutes more to reach the second waterfall, the Tiu Kelep waterfall.

Ulrika’s brother, Niklas, wading through the cold water.

Tiu Kelep. We could swim here with the locals and it was really cold!

We walked through the water tunnels on our way back to our car.

We went to Malimbu hill to watch the sunset.

But dark clouds and rain came over the mountains, so we had to leave just before the sunset.

Ulrika’s family got to try real local food during our last night in Lombok.

Big Thanks to Bob and Stephanie for your hospitality and amazing bed&breakfast! We loved staying at your place, the White Rose!


Gili Air with Ulrikas family & Swedish Mises-institute article

The Gili Islands was the first stop on our trip with Ulrika’s family. After one night in Kuta, we jumped on a fast boat out to Gili Air for diving and swimming in the ocean. If you follow Ulrika on snapchat, you have probably noticed how much she has been waiting for her family to come to Bali, and now it was time to explore the islands around Bali. It is very easy to move between the islands. Almost every homestay can arrange transportation to different locations on Bali or to other islands nearby. Pictures from Gili Air can be found below.

Ulrika has also translated and modified an episode of one of our favorite podcasts, “The Voluntary Life – episode 274“, into Swedish and had published it at the Swedish Mises-Institute, which is also behind another one of favorite podcasts, Radio Mises, which we highly recommend!

Giliöarna blev det första stoppet som vi tog Ulrikas familj till. Efter en natt i Kuta, så tog vi snabbåtarna ut till Gili Air för att dyka och bada. Ni som följer Ulrika på snapchat har nog märkt hur mycket hon längtat efter att hennes familj ska komma till Bali och nu var det dags att utforska öarna omkring Bali. Det är väldigt lätt att röra sig mellan öarna då nästan varenda homestay också kan ordna transport till olika platser på Bali och andra öar i närheten. Bilder från Gili Air kommer nedan.

Ulrika har även översatt och modifierat ett avsnitt av en av våra favoritpodcasts, “The Voluntary life – avsnitt 274”, till svenska och fått den publicerad på Svenska Mises-institutet, vilka också är grundare till en av våra andra favoritpodcasts, Radio Mises, som vi högt rekommenderar!  

Finally, my family arrived to Bali, but we did not stay long there. Our goal was to take a boat out to the Gili Islands.

The view in Padang Bai, a fishing village from which the fast boats depart to the Gili Islands.

We arrived at Gili Air almost two hours later. There are three Gili islands, which are located near each other. Gili Trawangan, or Gili T, is the party island where a lot of backpackers come to enjoy life and late hours. Gili Meno is the quiet islands, where often honeymooners end up at luxury resorts. Gili Air, is the laid back island, with a relaxed atmosphere and bars.

You can easily travel between the Gili islands with local boats and also get over to the bigger island Lombok.

There are no motor traffic on the islands, so horse and carriage
is the way to get around, together with bicycles and electric scooters.

Our accommodation on the island. The place is called Family Bungalows, which is a set of bungalows with air-conditioning in the middle of the island.

We went to Gili Air for the diving, and we were not disappointed. We chose to dive with 7seas and they were a very customer friendly dive center and they also had good diving gear. Here are we posing with our dive masters Efrin and Francesco, who took us out to incredible dive sites around the three islands.

Gili Air means beach time, and you can snorkel here if you’re not into diving. Ulrika showed Maja how to snorkel here!

Maja and Mats enjoying the warm water. The island is really close to Lombok so you can see the northwest part of Lombok from the beach.

Gili Air has a really relaxed atmosphere in the evenings and interesting bars to hang out in.

Air is really small, only 6.5 kilometers in circumference so it is possible to see the whole island in under an hour. We walked along the coast during low tide and took pictures.

The famous swings in the water at Gili Air.

Hairdresser, snorkeler and mother, Maja has more than one skill.

Evenings were spent talking and laughing.

We had a few lazy days on the beach before we moved on.

We went to an outdoor cinema the last evening on Air, which btw means water in Indonesian, before we took a boat over to Lombok.

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