Friday, July 3, 2009

A Conclusion, But Also a Beginning...

For anyone who is still occasionally checking or faithfully reading this blog, your commitment is commendable (and apparently far exceeds that of the blogger). My longest overdue blog posting is also going to be my last, at least for this season of life.

When we last saw our super hero and his heroine, their three-week escapade across the country visiting long lost family and friends, and making some more-than-overdue introductions, was commencing. So three weeks later - oh yeah, plus another month, my bad - these were the highlights:

-a walk down the Vegas strip, highlighted by the Bellagio's famous dancing fountain

-a river rapid ride down the Arkansas River outside of Colorado Springs where we even managed to stay in the boat

-some good, hearty Texas cooking and warm Texan hospitality

-the best of friends, and their four new baby daughters since I left for Sweden, in Kansas City

-an excursion up the Washington Monument, among other sites, in D.C.

-Polo with a prince (Harry), the arrival of a President and his Lady (Obama & Michelle), a bike ride all through Manhattan and a boat cruise around Lady Liberty in New York

And three exciting weeks of places and people came to an end, but not before... engagement in Central Park.

So what started as a simple Swedish blog for family and friends soon became a jätte spännande look at Swedish culture and adventures, then unexpectedly turned into a blog about pursuing love in Thailand and concludes with an engagement after a successful American journey and an even more successful courtship!

Paige and I will start our life together in September.

I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams.

Perhaps one day the blogging will continue, but for now I will conclude with an article I wrote for Transitions Abroad, arguably the top online resource for those of us in the U.S. moving abroad for work and/or life. You Swedes will have one last kick out of my Swedish language attempt:

Pictures above:
1. Soon after our engagement, Paige and I are as radiant as the sun behind us.
2. This diamond was my late Grandmother's. I am bewildered with blessings.
3. The U.S. Capitol building behind us.
4. A baseball game in Kansas City, Missouri.
5. The two most common blog contributors also made the final picture. From left, Sean, Paige, brother Todd, cousin Angela and husband Craig. Todd and Ang's faithful reading and comments, along with so many others, made this blog what it was. Thanks to all of you, family and friends, from Sweden and Europe to Thailand and SE Asia and back home in the States. Hej då, Sa-wa-dee, k'ap and good-bye for now.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A National Tour Commences in the Great Northwest

After five years of living in the Northwestern United States, specifically Seattle, and with family just south in the state capital city of Olympia, we figured that the Great Northwest was a good place to start a trip across the country that will include seven cities in virtually every part of the US of A.
Paige and I both value relationships and have learned to keep in touch very well from afar, which means that, when we are finally back in town, the moments around the table with family and friends are numerous, memorable and savored.
Thanks to everyone up in Seattle and down in Olympia for making our welcome back to this great (some like me might say "the greatest") part of our country.
Check back to the Tuk-Tuk Talker for periodic updates from this cross-country trek over the next few weeks. Some more fun is in store...
1. Paige and I in front of the symbol of Seattle, the Space Needle.
2. With my cousins' kids - how they've grown (and been born) since I left the States in 2006.
3. Paige's brother's 6-month old, Zachariah.
4. With friends enjoying some classic Northwest Clam Chowder and the Olympic Mountain range at sunset. Good ol' Seattle: water, islands and snow-covered mountains all in the same spring scene.
5. Friends who are responsible for Paige and I meeting last summer. Dana, and yes, even Dave, where would we be without you?

Back Home - Southern California Fun

As evidenced by the complete dismissal of my blogging responsibilities the past month, I'm having a blast being back home in Southern California. It's been a plethora of people and places, a frenzy of food and fun, a jobless joy for Paige and I. Truly a unique time of life as we transition back into life in the United States....
....for at least a little while.
Probably a couple more Tuk-Tuk Talker postings before the final conclusion.
Pictures above:
1. Those who've followed the blog the past few years know that the perfect welcome home is a trip back to Dodger Stadium. This one was on my birthday and provided by my friend, Jason Berns, who's been seen numerous times on Linköpinglivin' and the Tuk-Tuk Talker.
2. Catalina Island sits 26 miles off the California coast and is as close to the Mediterranean as we're gonna get in the USA. The iconic building in the main city of Avalon is the Casino, seen in the background of this picture, now no longer used for gambling.
3. This is a truly classic picture as my Dad surprised our family all the way from Prague for our annual extended family trip to Catalina. Here he catches my brother Todd (who only had to fly from New York), just before letting Paige and I in on the fun, too. Stunning - a surprise across the globe. Nice work, Dad.
4. Sean and Paige are still prepared for Bangkok, not Catalina.
5. An action shot of Captain Sean...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Layover in Seoul, South Korea

Rare is the direct flight these days from Bangkok to the United States. My choices of Hong Kong, Seoul and Beijing among others created an interesting choice of where I should layover for 12 hours. Hong Kong is, I have heard, simply a generic mega-city and Beijing would have required a $150 visa for exiting the airport.
Seoul it was.
Plus, I recently read that the Incheon Airport in Seoul was just voted the best airport in the world among people who supposedly know.
1. Cold (Seoul is at the same latitude as San Francisco - much cooler than Bangkok at about 55 degrees Celsius).
2. Clean and organized. Seoul and Korea rank as one of the most advanced Asian cities lacking a lot of the seeming chaos and disorganization found in other parts of Asia.
3. Kimchi, the well-known Korean vegetable dish - also well known for its smell - tastes a lot better than it smells. I had to at least try it in order to criticize it....
4. Korea is one of the few countries in the world that recognizes the wonder of baseball. Way to go, Korea.
5. Seoul would be a great city to spend about 4 - 5 days, then it would be time to get to the more authentic countryside.
Tough to be sandwiched between countries like Japan and China for all of history. Good to see Korea, at least the south, holding its own. North Korea is just a sad, sad story. These two countries should be united. Someday....
Pictures above:
1. In front of Gyeongbokgung Palace in short sleeves and 50 degrees.
2. The changing of the guard at the Palace.
3. Insadong market street - touristy, but fun.
4. Get this! I come around the corner on Insadong and see an auxiliary screen showing the World Baseball Classic taking place from, no kidding, Dodger Stadium. A live baseball game FROM Dodger Stadium while strolling in Korea. Globalization's a funny thing.
5. Cheonggyecheon River, a man-made but aesthetically-pleasing river through the heart of Seoul. Nice touch.
Watch for the conclusion of the Tuk-Tuk Talker coming soon! Home is a nice place to be now.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thailand's Tuk-Tuks

Writing during a layover at another Asian airport to be revealed soon, and while taking one last glance at the various Tuk-Tuks found throughout Thailand, I can share with the Tuk-Tuk Talker readership that my unexpected and enjoyable four months in Thailand has, at least for now, come to an end.
I am currently in Seoul, South Korea, passing the time until my flight to Los Angeles, the city I call home, but a place in which I have not spent much time the past ten years. It will be good to be home after three years of European and Southeast Asian travel in order to revel in family and friends and all that California and the United States have to offer.
After four months of dating abroad, Paige and I will treasure time at home and look to see what the future holds, but don't think that just because we're going home that the travels will conclude. Though we have scheduled trips to Seattle, Las Vegas, Denver, Dallas, Kansas City, Washington D.C. and New York to visit family and friends, the Tuk-Tuk Talker simply isn't valid outside of Southeast Asia. So after a couple more entries, the Tuk-Tuk Talker, and three years of travel blogging, will come to an appropriate conclusion as I return home.
One day soon I will return to Sweden. One day soon I will return to Thailand. I will continue to enjoy travel and enjoy, most of all, the people around the world found along the way.
A little update on Seoul and South Korea coming next week.
See you then.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Tour of Thailand - A Visit From Friends

Towards the end of our time, at least for now, in Thailand, Paige and I hosted friends from Southern California, Jason and Laura.
Hua Hin, Chiang Mai, Bangkok. Beaches, jungles, zip line, elephants, spicy food, fruit drinks. It was a vacation in Thailand, with all the best the wonderful Thai people have to offer. Thanks for a great 10 days, friends.
Just a few more submissions to the Tuk-Tuk Talker, everyone.
See you tomorrow for a special double dose this week and a bit more information about my plans.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Thailand Fun Facts

To any of you paying attention, you know this blog was delayed almost a week. My consistency is starting to fail, perhaps a foreshadowing of what is coming, but for now, thanks for your patience....
Just some fun facts, that never quite fit in any one category, from Thailand that every traveller to Thailand should know:

  • Never touch the top of someone's head - just as the feet are considered a degrading part of the body and you should be conscious of them, the head is considered a sacred part and should not be casually touched.

  • In all of Asia, pedestrians do not, I repeat, DO NOT have the right-of-way on the streets. My advice when wanting to cross a street in Thailand is to wait for Thai people to lead the way and just follow....

  • While the outside roads and some public spaces may not be spic 'n span, the insides of all Thai homes and business are as clean as can be. Always remove those shoes so you don't get the spotless floor dirty. One of the images that will always be in my head from Thailand is the focused sweeping of floors and walkways by Thai people. Inside it's cleaner than anywhere in the Western world, including even Sweden!

  • In Thailand, it's all about the rice. The verb "to eat" in the Thai language even includes the word "rice."

  • Walking around Bangkok, there might not always be the friendly sidewalks you're used to when you're home. Just beware that an easy walk can become riddled with obstacles with only one turn. My advice of course is to take a tuk-tuk. Also highly recommended is the Sky Train above-ground subway. Great air-conditioning on that thing.

  • There's not really a "winter, spring, summer or fall" in Thailand or SE Asia. It's more like "rainy, hot, hotter or hottest." We're in the hotter season right now - April and May are the hottest.

  • Just a couple more entries on the Tuk-tuk talker, then things change...stay tuned.
Pictures above:
1. The Giant Swing, which people actually swung from "Buccaneer Ride-style" in the early 1900s, is one of about three or four iconic symbols of Bangkok.
2. Exotic orchids and lilies are quintessential tropical and always catch one's eye around here.
3. The Royal Barges, an oft-used symbol of royalty and regality in this water-dominated part of the world, are an overrated tourist attraction in Bangkok.
4. Tiki wood is seen everywhere in Thailand, but not always in this dining room table set-up example.
5. In any traffic jam, you wanna be in a tuk-tuk.