Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Yesterday I cashed in on my Christmas present from Isa, a trip to Osaka Aquarium. One of the largest aquariums in the World, we spent 5 hours just walking through it.

Yesterday I cashed in on my Christmas present from Isa, a trip to Osaka Aquarium. One of the largest aquariums in the World, we spent 5 hours just walking through it. That’s when I noticed some funny things about the place. E.g. For every 30m there was a sign on the floor telling you 740m (to the exit), and a sign on the wall telling you 50m to next toilet. You wold never have to do more than turn your head to know exactly how far you were from basic necessities. And by basic necessities I mean a heated toilet seat with build in bidet and music and a sink with integrated soap dispenser and hand dryer.

The aquarium was structured with habitats from the Ring of Fire going around the Pacific Ocean. With a huge 9 m deep tank in the middle, containing a whale shark and manta rays. You go down in a spiral around the tank and see all climates ranging from the Antarctic with pinguins to tropical with Sloths.

The acrylic glass panes in the big Pacific Ocean Tank is 30 cm thick and weighs 314 tons in total.

Some of the deep sea creatures were quite scary. I wouldn’t want to meet one of these craps in a dark alley.

Most of the animals looked like they were fine, but off cause it’s hard not to feel a bit sad when you see the penguins which look like they were taken straight from the zoo scene in Happy Feet.

These guys didn’t look too pleased either…

The otters looked like they were having a ball though. Sprinting around, jumping through the water and cuddling on a rock.

At the end of the day I must admit even though the whale shark was much smaller than expected (Quote: Isa) the Osaka Aquarium did kick Kattegatcentrets butt. (or at least it’s a lot bigger 🙂

 

Jonas

Konichiwa Japan!

We made it! After a pleasant 24h trip we touched down in Kansai International airport in Osaka just in time to pick up our portable wifi! #BestMoneyEverSpentEver

We made it! After a pleasant 24h trip we touched down in Kansai International airport in Osaka just in time to pick up our portable wifi! #BestMoneyEverSpentEver

We found Osaka to be almost hauntingly quite on a Wednesday night. The train and a few cars was all you could hear and even those seemed muted somehow. Other than that things seem strangely familiar and as I noted to Jonas yesterday, we might as well have landed in Copenhagen. They do have funny cat signs though.

But as you can tell from the picture below, so far everything is basically business as usual.

Getting Our Ducks In a Row

The past two weeks have been all about the goodbyes and the see-you-not-so-soons. We’re all packed up (a little more than I would have liked – 15kg in stead of 9. But everything can not be 100% as Jonas so wisely reminded me, and I guess you can’t learn from your overpacking mistakes if you never make them) and now we have touched down in Brande with Jonas’ parents where we will be ’till we fly out of Billund early Tuesday morning.

The past two weeks have been all about the goodbyes and the see-you-not-so-soons. We’re all packed up (a little more than I would have liked – 15kg in stead of 9. But everything can not be 100% as Jonas so wisely reminded me, and I guess you can’t learn from your overpacking mistakes if you never make them) and now we have touched down in Brande with Jonas’ parents where we will be ’till we fly out of Billund early Tuesday morning. 

Update: we now also have travel insurance! And in case you were wondering, yes 3 days prior to departure is definataly the ideal time to buy such things.

Here’s a little peak at what we have been up to when we weren’t partying with our friends:

We put our savings in the bank. All the money from everything we have sold was in that pink pig, and we smashed it with a sledgehammer. It was exactly as awesome as it sounds, and when I tried to film it my iPhone stopped working. Obviously. 

We had last-days-at-work, and a bought a little something for my “side job” at Mindjuice. It took me by surprise how moved I was that day. I couldn’t stop sobbing whilst writing that letter.

Jonas insisted that he make the chocolate cake for his colleagues himself. So I made most of it and decorated it too. But you totally can’t tell when he’s the one in the picture right? Unfortunately we used some fancy RAW cocoa powder and it didn’t really taste good – but hey, on the bright side, it was super expensive…

The cake I made for my colleagues of course requires an entire slideshow. (I used the cheap cocoa powder btw. and it was delicious)

I got these flowers from my contact person at the firm that brings my firm lunch. Seriously. Needless to say I almost cried.

That was until I remembered I could now forever turn off this alarm from hell, which put me right back into my happy place.

But alas, the joy was only brief ’cause way too soon we had to pack up and leave our loving home in Harlev. Brian, Dorthe, Freja and Emma have become like a second family to us over the past couple of months and we felt so sad to leave but also really grateful for everything they have given us.
We made them fresh, Vietnamese spring rolls and brownie on our last night and then we all went and saw Wreck-it Ralph in their basement cinema. It was great.

One last group selfie for the road. I cried for an hour after this.

And then, yesterday, came the final pack-down. We managed to get everything we own into 5 boxes and 2 backpacks. 

Please note: Encircled is my clothes for an entire year!!! #Proud #ThisMeansICanGoShoppingInJapanRight? 

More later. /Isa

First “tech” post

I thought I might add a little nerdiness to the blog. As this is my first post, I will start off light. I have been meddling around with the site. Trying to tidy it up a bit, with links to our different social media sites.

Happy Buddha
Happy Buddha

I thought I might add a little nerdiness to the blog. As this is my first post, I will start off light. I have been meddling around with the site. Trying to tidy it up a bit, with links to our different social media sites. I ended up with 3 standard links in the bottom. It was quite fun to google the different brand’s brand assets and guidelines. It turns out that twitter for instance doesn’t allow speech bubbles with their bird and it is never shown in black (which was the template standard). I ended up removing the Facebook icon but did learn that you should capitalize it, and shouldn’t use the Facebook logo instead of the word in a sentence.

Back to the site. Isa brought me this tiny happy Buddha after our trip to Vietnam. He is really cute and I’m still considering, if he should go with us. I never really liked the Squarespace standard, so now you might recognize him from the sites favicon. 

He will also help you if you get lost. (Try loading it multiple times) This way he will be with us in the spiritual form, watching over the site and us, which makes me happy. As we are big fans of Black Books it was obvios that we needed quotes from The Little Book of Calm, and Isa helped picking out a bunch of relaxing quotes. Like the one below witch seems fitting at the moment.

Take alle the time in the world.

Contrary to what you may tell yourself, you have all the time in the world to do whatever you choose.

What cannot be fitted in to your day, cannot be done – forget about it.

— The Little Book of Calm

Though I guess my favorite must be:

Pretend it is Saturday

— The Little Book of Calm

With a Little Help From Our Friends

Just wanted to say a quick thank you and share some pictures from our going-away party this weekend. You all made us feel extremely loved, coming from far and near like you did, bringing presents and surprise guests. We feel so grateful to have you all as our friends and you will all be greatly missed. 

Just wanted to say a quick thank you and share some pictures from our going-away party this weekend. You all made us feel extremely loved, coming from far and near like you did, bringing presents and surprise guests. We feel so grateful to have you all as our friends and you will all be greatly missed. 

With love

Jonas and Isa

How we almost went to Africa

Do you know that feeling? That feeling of extreme exitement. That feeling where your mind goes numb and your chest swallows up to the point where you almost hyperventilate. Where you’re pretty sure your heart might burst out of your ears and all you can think is: “I have got to do this”. That feeling that tells you everything is just right.

Do you know that feeling? That feeling of extreme exitement. That feeling where your mind goes numb and your chest swallows up to the point where you almost hyperventilate. Where you’re pretty sure your heart might burst out of your ears and all you can think is: “I have got to do this”. That feeling that tells you everything is just right.

It’s that moment right before your ego kicks in. But then, when it does, it hits you hard. For me it usually goes something along the lines of:

“But what if…?” “That sounds dangerous” “You better not” “This is unsafe” “You can’t do that” “You’re not qualified” “you’re not ready” “This is going too fast” “Hold on, wait a minute – STOOOP!”

Sound familiar?

I don’t like not doing something out of fear. And when it comes to egos I have found that besides telling you what you are really afraid of doing they are also a very good indicator of what you should be doing. In my experience it goes like this: The louder my ego the higher the gain. So whenever I feel my ego racing into overdrive I start to wonder what wonderful chance I’m about to miss out on. After all it is just fear and fear should be met head on, am I right?

So, where does Africa fit into all of this?

About a month ago I got an email from Danish ICYE, an organization I have been volunteering at for 4 years since I travelled with them to Costa Rica in 2010.
ICYE (apart from being the least pronounceable name in history) stands for International Cultural Youth Exchange and was originally a Christian organization founded just after WWII with the purpose of regaining trust between Germany and the US. The idea was to let young Germans study abroad for one year in America hereby establishing new friendships and respect between the two cultures. ICYE has since developed to a multinational organization with more than 40 countries involved and hundreds of volunteers going abroad every year.

Anyways back to the email. It read that 9 EVS Overseas projects were available with short notice (ei. The application had to be sent within 2 weeks) EVS is the European Voluntary Service and basically they will pay for EVERYTHING if you get elected for one of their projects. One of said projects were in Ecuador working with disabled children teaching them music and dance. And that’s when I started getting That Feeling. And That Fear. And I reasoned with myself that at least I should try and write an application. There was no guarantee that I would get in (after all, only 3 applicants from 9 countries would be chosen and sent to Berlin to be elected for the 9 projects) but at least I would know that I tried.

“It’s yours if you want it”

The project coordinator from ICYE on the phone. Not the project in Ecuador – someone else had been more qualified for that – but the one in Africa. More specifically the Kenya Deaf Agenda Self-Help Group (KDA), a non-profit learning center for children with special needs located in Nairobi-Kenya. The children at the center have disabilities related to hearing, autism and cerebral palsy and are orphaned or the parents are from very disadvantaged backgrounds.

“It’s yours if you want it”, and I did want it. The only reason not to do this would be fear. Right? Except it wasn’t.

We tried everything to work this into our plans, we even almost found an apartment in Nairobi. But the project was free for one person – not for two and it just didn’t make financial sense to be bound to a project for 7 months where we would have to pay to live together. What I first saw as a way for us to prolong the trip ended up being a way to shorten it (in the sense that we would see less and still spend money on rent)

In the end it wasn’t just right. And, come to think of it, nothing really is, is it? There is always an upside and a downside to everything and I feel really fortunate that I got to choose between two such exciting options to begin with. But I digress and I realize this makes for a very poor blog post, especially since I initially planned the ending to be something like “We’re going to Kenya. How wonderfully random this life can be.” And now that just feels really stupid, since as it turns out, we are not.

But to select one thing is to deselect another. And by deselecting Kenya we selected the freedom and spontaneity that comes with not knowing. My initial hold-back for turning it down was that I didn’t want to say no out of fear. And I haven’t. I said no out of want for something else. And that I’m okay with.

“But … what will you do?”

We’ve been getting this question a lot lately. And I realize it’s a totally fair question to ask – even though we are certainly not the first nor the last people to do this, it is still rather unusual to sell all your stuff and go into the World without as much as a hint of a plan.

We’ve been getting this question a lot lately. And I realize it is a completely fair question to ask – even though we are certainly not the first nor the last people to do this, it is still rather unusual to sell all your stuff and go into the World without as much as a hint of a plan.

The thing is, though, that I often can’t seem to find an answer that would justify this craziness to them. And even if I do they’ll follow it up with an “oh … so what are you going to do afterwards?” 

Seriously, we haven’t even left yet. How would I know? Nobody knows what will happen ten minutes from now (no, you don’t) let alone a year.

I understand these are questions of love. People ask because they care and of course I have thought about this a lot too. And so, I have decided that my answer is this:

I don’t know yet. But I imagine we’re going to laugh and smile and fight and cry (out of stress and out of relief because not being able to communicate with anything but your hands and animal sounds (don’t ask) will do that to you). We are going to eat and get lost and watch movies in quirky movie theaters. Hopefully we’ll do yoga and read and write and take lots and lots of picture and I’ll draw and Jonas will become even more of a PowerShell ninja (nerd alert if you click on that link!).

We will see, hear, smell, taste and feel new things, broaden our horizons so to speak, and hopefully we’ll learn a thing or two along the way as well; About ourselves, about other people and cultures, about food and languages and foreign customs. And, I just realized, we are going to make complete fools of ourselves… But most of all?:

We’re going to live.

I hate to brake it to you guys, but you kinda only get this one chance to do it. I know this venture of ours is not everyone’s idea of a good time and at the risk of sounding hippy-dippy – that’s okay, you just go and do whatever makes you happy then. But for Christ’s sake do it. Do that thing that you’ve always dreamt of doing. Do it just for the sake of doing it. What better reason is there, really?

Happy New Year

2014 has been kind of weird year for me.

Last winter (at the end of 2013/beginning of 2014) I was really down. I was stressed out over how out-of-control I felt in my life. I was in a rot – unable to see a way out, I felt stuck in a life I didn’t want and didn’t feel I could change. But I had also just started my Master coach program and slowly things started to shift.

2014 has been kind of weird year for me.

Last winter (at the end of 2013/beginning of 2014) I was really down. I was stressed out over how out-of-control I felt in my life. I was in a rot – unable to see a way out, I felt stuck in a life I didn’t want and didn’t feel I could change. But I had also just started my Master coach program and slowly things started to shift.

Let me assure you – becoming a Master coach is no easy task, in fact it is the single hardest thing I have done in my life. But also the most rewarding.

As winter turned into spring, I slowly began to see that I alone was the one keeping me from what I wanted. This sounds like such a cliche, and it probably is, but as is with most cliches they have a truth in them. I realized that all these ideas I had about what I should be doing, about right and wrong – well, they weren’t really very useful. They certainly didn’t make me feel better and they kept away from the life that was happening right now.

I wouldn’t say I regained control of my life – it was more like the other way around. I started to let go. This made room for some new opportunities. It started with a trip to Vietnam, but as you probably know by now, it ended up with something I could have only dreamed of one year ago (and often did, by the way)

One thing I would like to state very clearly, and something that might have been The Lesson for me this year, is that I could not have and did not accomplish any of the things I have this year alone. I have been overwhelmed with the love and kindness from friends and family I and we have been shown this year. It might sound stupid but just one year ago I didn’t know that 1. I can not do everything by myself and 2. What I do alone will never be half as good as what I do with others.

So thank you to everyone who has been kind, helpful, thoughtful, pushy, annoyingly right, understanding and everything in between. It made a difference. Jonas of course is the person who deserves most of the credit. I have not been an easy girlfriend to have this year, but I believe I have become a better one.

I can’t even begin to imagine what 2015 will be like for us, but I am pretty sure it will be a year to remember.

Happy New year!

Slowly getting ready for Japan

A list of useful and interesting Japan reading/watching/listening

Our trip is slowly creeping up on us and I can’t believe there’s little more than 2 months till we fly out for Osaka. It’s surreal really, and as much as we are excited we are also not really comprehending what’s ahead of us. And how could we really? We are going away for an undecided amount of time (when people ask us, how long we are going away for the answer is usually anywhere between 8months or a year – or until we don’t have more money. Or till we tire of it – which I doubt is going to happen, but who knows?…) And we have no real plans yet except for a conference in North Carolina at the end of April.

I recently emailed a friend of mine who’s in Greenland and we discussed the importance of preparation. She made the point that it is a very important part of a trip, and I of course agree with this completely. But, as I explained to her, I also feel like I have prepared for this trip for the last ten years. I have read every possible opinion on what to pack, what to see and what to do (and what absolutely not to pack, see and do) And I sometimes feel like all of these opinions can get in the way of my own gut feeling. I think that is also part of the reason why I didn’t enjoy Vietnam as much as I could have.

That being said, Japan is a completely new territory and even if I wanted to I couldn’t not do some prior research. (This of course includes eating as much sushi as possible to get used to the taste)

I have made this list of useful and interesting Japan reading/watching/listening and I plan to update it up until we leave.

Books:

  • Unfortunately Will Ferguson’s lovely book Hitching rides with Buddha doesn’t come in a Kindle version, so we bought a used paperback version from Germany. That being said it is an amazing book, so funny it’s had me laughing out loud on the bus on more than one occasion. Will Ferguson gets deep under the skin of Japan (or at least as deep as a gaijin is ever allowed), and I feel I’ve learned more about the Japanese culture from this book than I ever could from a LP guide book.

Useful webpages:

Podcasts:

I’m more of a reader than a listener, but Jonas is really into podcasts and have found a few about Japan:

  • GaijinPot with expat Anthony Joh is a podcast about traveling, working and living in Japan.
  • Audible have a Japanese language guide by Innovative Language Learning with tons of printable extra material. They come in many different levels – we have the Ultimate Getting Started

Movies:

Welcome to Future World Traveller!

So, about 9 months ago I wrote a post on how I sometimes felt like selling all my junk, stuffing the rest into a backpack and take off.

So, about 9 months ago I wrote a post on how I sometimes felt like selling all my junk, stuffing the rest into a backpack and take off. In the mean time I’ve been in Vietnam for 5 weeks, which was certainly an adventure, but to be honest left me in a state of unfulfillment. A big part of that was my own unrealistic expectations – to the country and to myself.

Before we went I’d expected beautiful scenery, authentic and delicious street food and most of all I’d expected myself to trout along with a joyous, spontaneous attitude and a constant smile on my face. That’s not quite what happened.

I found Vietnam to be very rough and dirty and I was completely overwhelmed by the constant noise and turmoil. I felt like I was constantly being ripped of (which I probably was) and found it hard to get “off the beaten track” and see something other that the designated tourist route. Also I got sick – a lot…

But worst of all, I didn’t enjoy myself. I found myself acting suspicious rather than being open and spontaneous and I was unable to let go and just go with the flow. I couldn’t help it and I constantly blamed myself for this, which obviously didn’t make it any better. Goddammit I knew that it was all a matter of perspective … and yet I couldn’t seem to find the right one.

I realized (with a little help) along the way that I was so afraid of being “just a stupid tourist” that I ended up being even more of one. I was so attached to that self image of me being in control and I was unwilling to accept the fact that I was really inexperienced when it came to travel in Asia and so of course I would make “mistakes” – and that was okay.

As I said to someone recently “I am so afraid of ending up in that exact same situation again – that I’m already in it”

My point is that there is nothing wrong with Vietnam. And there is nothing wrong with me. But my ego got in the way.

When I left I was so afraid that I would never feel like traveling again. And that really scared me because it had been all I’d thought about for as long as I could remember.

That feeling stayed with me for about … two weeks. Then I was ready to jet off again. The old urge to get rid of all my stuff and set of for an unknown adventure once more began to surface and I felt like doing it “right” this time.


Fast forward about 1,5 month to me exclaiming “OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE WE DONE?!” as me and Jonas simultaneously hit send on the email that terminated the lease to our apartment. We didn’t really have a plan as much as an idea that we wanted to leave in the beginning of 2015 and probably stay on the road for a year, which wouldn’t be possible did we continue to pay 6500+ DKK in rent every month. So we hit send – the rest would have to work itself out.

And boy did it. I’m typing this from our new home – a spare room that two of Jonas’s friends have agreed to lend us for 2,5 months until December. The bathroom is 4 times the size of our old one and they have a cinema in the basement. That’s right – a friggin’ cinema! But the best part is that they are such great and hospitable people. Right from the start they have gone out of their way to make us feel at home and we are both beyond grateful for this.

I can’t help but smile when I think about what my mother-in-law said to us just a few days ago: “When you show the universe you are ready to let go it will bring you something new”.

Well, take off is February 10th – and I’m SO ready to be a Future World Traveller!