mumbai train station

“From Cape Town, South-Africa” I say to probably the thousandth guy that asks me. With his head doing the Indian wobble he proclaims: “ AB De Villiers! Yes it is undeniable, from the top of your good head to the bottom of your brilliant toes; you absolutely look like AB my good sir. Totally true without a doubt in my mind.” I burst out laughing but feel honored nonetheless.

The skinny-legged Indian mans lenses, on his thick reading glasses, magnifies his eyes rationally way out of proportion to the rest of his face. You wont find those glasses in any shop – it has definitely been handed down by many a generation. “What is your good name my kind sir?” When I tell him he doesn’t seem to hear because he refers to me as AB for the duration of our conversation. I learn many things in India, first being that cricket, truly, is a religion here.

If you are open minded enough you have a whole country waiting to befriend you. Literally, every one of the odd billion or so folk is ready to step into a friendship, even if it lasts only for a minute or two. I have never made so many friends so quick in my life as on the streets of India. And it is not the fake kind of friendship where they befriend you to sell you something. I’ve had deeper conversations, with total strangers, about topics ranging from the caste system to the cautiously optimistic possibility of world peace than anywhere else in our travels.

Everything happens on the non-existing side pavements of the broken streets in India. The bustling activities situated around makeshift shops and stalls transports the mind farther than the Beatles’ Magical Mystery bus can on the way to Lucy in the Sky. I see a man on a stationary bicycle pedaling to make a grinder spin as he sharpens knives while a man with a red turban cleans wax out of a passer byes ear. A cow stops all traffic in the center of Mumbai and takes a steamy dump while a man scoops it up to add to a growing pile of manure fermenting on a sidewalk. The weird and eccentric is made so very normal here. I love it.

However, there is no way to sugar coat the fact that India – in some places – is pretty filthy. Delhi has one of the worlds highest air pollution rates and the Ganges has seen more corpses floating on it than fish swimming in it. With each step I take on her dirty, smelly, sticky wacky roads, I become immune to the millions of germs India has on offer. That said though, you see bright-eyed children in crisp school uniforms clutching books under arms, smiling and proud. You see woman in beautiful colorful saris selling vegetables and men riding tuk-tuks, waving, weaving traffic and nodding.

I see sad things too. Life passes by a beggar who’s given up on begging, today possibly his last, gauging by the amount of skin left on his thin rickety bones. Disabled men and woman with decades worth of dirt on their hard creased faces hold out empty hands. Most upsetting are the children begging in rags, smiling little by-products of a world that seemingly don’t care. The holy cows I see mowing on grass sprigs growing through cracked walls that rise out of littered roads, lead more fortunate lives than most people here. If ever there is a place where you want to count your blessings, then India is your go to place.

It is a mystical land where people walk around in loose fitting cloth and have third eyes painted on their foreheads. Pictures of Shiva and Ganesh adorn anything that has wheels and monkeys are considered Gods. It is loud and it is busy. It is by no means for everyone, but anyone is welcome.

The people – like with most other places we go to, is what makes this place special to me. The majority has so little, but they seem so content. Here, more than anywhere else in the world, I feel that people honestly don’t care what your skin color is or what your clothes look like. Humble is too noble a word to describe some of the folk here. Shanti Shanti is the pace. Namaste is the vibe. At one of the busiest train stations in the world I stand and watch how people come and go. To some of the passers by I am just a foreigner doing strange things with his camera, but to most I am a different face in the crowd to say a quick hello – where – are – you – from to.

We haven’t been all over the country, but we have seen more than some can say they have seen of India. Therefor I think it is fair to say that:

You don’t need to go to the Taj Mahal to experience the marvel that India both is and is not. You just need to get into a tuk-tuk and count how many near death experiences you encounter every kilometer to be reminded of the beauty of life.

You don’t need to go to some expensive yoga retreat in Jaipur to improve your flexibility, just catch an overcrowded train and see if you have enough space to stand on both legs.

India has many faces and facets and if you go with a candid heart and an unlatched mind
You will find it to be truly


lady in pink 2

cookies and tea 2


watermarked woman 2

worker colors


Lifou – Nouvelle Caledonie

Jetlag. What a bastard. Depending on the direction you fly into, this annoying concept can really mess with your core. I have found that flying back in time is less intense than flying forward in time. It might be the other way around for some people but after discussing the topic of jetlag with friends and strangers alike, we all agree on one thing – routinely waking up at 3am is no fun. It should generally only take a few days to get over it but this depends on how many time zones you have crossed.

I have tried multiple strategies to avoid lag. One being to ‘live’ in the time zone of the country or city I am about to fly to for a few days prior to a trip. I have also tried to gradually adjust my watch to different time zones as I count down days before leaving a place.  However, the only thing I have found that takes the edge off of jetlag is to choose your destination carefully, because no matter how dilly-dally you feel when you arrive in a place such as Lifou in The Loyalty Islands, the beauty of the place wipes away all smudges of jetlag from your essence.


Ave Maris 1886

The only thing that bothered me in this tropical paradise is the fact that I don’t understand French. One can only say bonjour and merci so many times in a conversation before the locals switch to English. In some ways I’d rather them carry on in French so that I can save some face while I eat my fromage and frog leg filled baguette.

Even though The Loyalty Islands are located just off the east coast of New Caledonia, it may take a while to find on a world map. It wont take you long however to find yourself completely breathless and awestruck by its beautiful people and equally pristine waters.



Parlez vous Francaise?


Coconut crab

After getting off the tender boat I walk away from all the tourists busy getting their hair braided. It amazes me how easily people can become sheep. I walk alone along a deserted path while beautiful butterflies of all colors and sizes dance around me. As I watch them flitter around the dense forest pathway, I have no idea that they are ushering me towards discovering an underwater paradise.  When I see the coral reef stretched out before me I cant help but think of it as a 24- carat diamond necklace sparkling off the bosom of a beautiful woman, luring me in for a closer look. It is no wonder that I have no balance when I exit the water after spending two solid hours snorkeling among the shoals of colorful reef fish. For a while I was weightlessly transient, feeling carefree, almost as if I had just won the lottery but chose to be homeless.


Untouched reef in Lifou

I find a very small-secluded beach far from the maddening crowd, with only a rusty old gas bottle stuck in the sand at the waters edge. At the end of the day not even this beautiful place has any power over my jetlag, so I fall asleep under a tree only to be woken up by the incoming tide lapping at my feet. From my confusion filled eyes I notice the rusty old bottle being rolled and shunted by the waves. It has no control over where it is being swept. It makes me think of an analogy. We all start out brand new, rust free and filled with the natural elements that makes us human, but over time we become empty, tarnished and deficient. I slip on my sandals and freely walk away, only, and really only, because I still can.





Sleeping under the sway of an island tree – the best remedy for jetlag


Food and water and a bit of beauty is all I need


Of all the fantastic and beautiful places we have traveled to, Indonesia is the one destination that lies very close to my heart. I remember as a kid having posters on my bedroom wall of perfect waves breaking in perfect scenery, daydreaming of shady palm trees and ragged beach huts being the place I lay my head for a rest. I always knew that at some point in my life I would find myself in those tropical blue waters. I think the power of day dreams should never be underestimated because this dream became a reality for me, perhaps not at the time I thought I needed it most, but at a time in my life nonetheless.


Nusa Penida reef

The tropical sun welcomed me as I stepped off the plane in Denpasar after a 24-hour layover in Taiwan.  A short taxi ride and I find myself in a familiar place, Kuta beach Bali. Kuta is a busy place so I decide to stay here only for the night to catch up on some sleep and then ultimately make my way down to Balangan beach. Once I get to Balangan I don’t leave for 7 days. The waves are cooking for 6 days straight and the coconut water after long sessions in the surf rehydrates my body and soul. The accommodation suits me well. The rustic Indah warung is so close to the water that its almost impossible to fall asleep at night, with waves crashing under my bedroom on the high tide, very few people on this beach and long endless waves I feel like I’m in paradise. The Indonesian sun drenches my body and my mood relaxes into a state of complete calmness. It is only when I remember that I need to fetch my wife from the airport that I decide to rent a car to do so.


My heavenly home for 7 days under the palm trees

Travelling alone can be good for the mind. It propels you toward meeting new people and discovering things that can often be hard when you travel with a companion. I enjoy discovering places on my own, but I have learned on many occasions by now that it is when we share the memories that they end up meaning a whole lot more. To share anything in life for that matter makes the experience of being alive so much more enjoyable. To share the view of the magnificent sunset over Balangan with my wife that first night means so much more to me than when I looked at it alone. To share the car ride back from the airport with her means that I have someone to share a tale about the chaotic traffic with in years to come.

seaweed farmer at dusk

Sunset in Nusa Lembongan

We don’t have any plans on this trip. We have learnt from the previous trip to Indonesia that one can really just arrive and then make some decisions. We stay at Balangan beach for two more nights and then we start our adventure of driving around the island of Bali. An adventure with a mix of stress and clove flavored cigarettes, this was one of the best things we could have done to experience what Bali is really all about.  We start by driving up the west coast and the first stop is at Medewi beach to look for some surf. Not looking too great we carried on and found ourselves on a long windy road through the tropical scenery, stopping at a temple that is practically in the ocean. Unlike Tanah Lot temple,          temple is very quiet with no foreigners other than us. The monkeys have claimed it as their home and the local kids use the many stairs to practice their fitness. I cant imagine running up and down the stairs in this heat like they do, smiling all they way. Balinese people are very friendly but can come across as intimidating when they are in large numbers. We decide to carry on with our drive and it takes us a few more hours to get to the town of Gilimanuk.  In the morning we carry on driving to the town of Lovina and after being there for an hour we realize that we will be doing this drive a whole lot faster than planned. We initially thought we will spend seven days to drive around the island but knowing what the beaches are like down south, we decide to push on.

indo kids

The scenery on the drive through the middle of Bali is mind blowing. With the spectacular views of Mt Angun at any given point and the loud song of cicadas, we feel like we have stepped back in time and it is almost as if you can expect a prehistoric dinosaur to jump out of the dense forest at any time. We take the windy mountainous pass all the way down to Ubud. After we check into a place for the night we walk the streets in search for a place to eat. Ubud is renowned for its food and we end up at a quaint little restaurant overlooking a paddy field. As usual I order a Bintang and Nasi goreng and this has been one of my missions on this trip; to find the best Nasi goreng in Bali. I can truthfully say that after eating this traditional dish in many towns and warungs in Bali that the one I loved most was in Ubud. As we eat I watch a lady offer prayers and her reflection in the paddy field is as intriguing and picturesque as the fiery sky above. I sigh a sigh of absolute inner peace, and I realize that at some point this holiday will end and that I must take in as much as I can. We finish our meals and head off to a bar to listen to a Bob Marley cover band.

offerings in ubud

The small island of Nusa Lembongan lies to the south east of Bali. A thirty-minute boat ride gets you to a place where there are no worries and plenty of time for relaxing. This was the only place where we knew that booking accommodation is essential so it was with great relief when we get dropped off at Tarci Bungalows knowing that we have a place to stay for however long we wished. We are in absolute paradise at this spot, our bungalow is 20 seconds from the beach and one of the best reef breaks is only a 10-minute paddle away. I don’t hesitate and grab my board and head out for a surf. As the slogan goes, “Only a surfer knows the feeling”, this can sometimes be more evident in certain places. When I sit out at the back at Shipwrecks and watch these perfect waves break over the reef I think back to when all of this was just a dream. I pinch myself. The tropical fish swim up to the surface and at times it seems as if I am peering into their lives through a crystal clear glass window. The water is unbelievably clear and warm; my t-shirt is the only thing that keeps me cool in the water. I get my share of the shifting wave and catch a boat ride back to shore. When we sit and watch the sun change the sky into what appears to be a massive lava lamp, I give thanks to the forces out there that brought me to this beautiful place. I struggle to find words that can give justice to the beauty of a sunset on Nusa Lembongan. We watch the seaweed farmers tending to their crops at a pace that is similar to that of the breathing pattern of a sleeping island dog.


We end up spending eleven days on Lembongan and eight of those days are filled with endless surf sessions. On our last day on the island we experience the amazing power of the ocean. It is a super moon and the tidal difference is even bigger than what we saw before, throw in some solid swell and the peaceful reef I swam over a day before now turns into a death trap. That feeling you get when a 10ft plus wave appears out of nowhere and you know there is no ways you going to get under it, that feeling you get when you see the locals paddling for their lives, that feeling you get when you see the only girl in the line up crying… The water can change in an instant and before you know it you’re out of the blue and into the black.

Bali grows on you like the moss grows on most statues over there. The longer you stay, the deeper it creeps into your soul. I choose window seats because whenever I fly out of a country I want to get a last glimpse, a last quick view, and give a kind of salute to whatever I did not get to see, or a thank you wave to whatever I did get to experience. In this case however, just a last view of the waves breaking down below, one last mind surf. Just my luck when I get stuck in an aisle seat so no surprise when I act like a child when I struggle to see past the guy’s big head sitting next to me. The lady sitting by the window reads her magazine, not looking out of the window. Even though the seatbelt sign is on I jump up to get a better view and I saw the right hander breaking over the reef, palm trees hiding the location. I find it particularly hard to say goodbye this time, saying goodbye is too permanent, so all I say is “terimahkasi”, and see you in some time when the reef cuts have healed into memorable scars.

seaweed farmer 3beach wall?????????????


I saw the island rise from the cold ocean like a gigantic arrow dipped in white poison, but at the same time also like a big chocolate cone capped with whiter than white ice cream. It was so overwhelmingly beautiful that I had tears in my eyes, but that could also have been from the icy cold wind cutting through my clothes. The Aleutian Islands lay before me and the desolated scene makes me wonder about all the other places of isolation in the world. We are making a detour via the Aleutian Islands because of a medical emergency and a more isolated place to fall ill will be hard to find. Our final destination after the eight- day crossing from Osaka will probably look very similar I thought, and after experiencing two Monday the 13th s in a row (crossing the international date line) all I want to do is walk on solid land.

Alaskan sunrise 1

Usually the ships decks are filled with people drinking, tanning or chilling. Today, however, it is filled with people slipping, sliding and freezing. The snow is pelting down sideways and the small village of Whittier is in a complete whiteout. I watch a fishing trawler navigate its way into the small harbour. The captain has a massive beard and he reminds me of some hipsters I’ve seen. As soon as I go through immigration and try on my new snow gear, I set foot on American soil for the first time in my life. I feel fortunate, and somewhat proud, that it is not in some major city such as LA or New York, but rather in a place where freedom stretches well beyond the horizon and deep into the glacial wilderness. Alaska, I have made it.

I overhear what could only be a local fisherman say: “It is not supposed to be snowing like this you know, for all I know the Yukon is closed so I might as well have me a few Ambers”.  I ask him what is the Yukon and how Amber is related to it. He just points me in the direction of the only bar in town. “ Go on in, you will find Amber there”.

After the third one I am hooked. The full-bodied, somewhat sweet- with- gentle hints -of –mischief- and- adventure beer, is a beautiful Amber colour, hence the name Alaskan Amber. The quaint little pub has fires going and beers flowing. I immediately like the place not only because Mumford and Sons is playing on the radio, but also because of the view from inside. I watch the snow change the landscape with each flake that falls. A good friend asked me to please listen to Eddie Vedder when I walk around in Alaska, so when I exit the pub I turned up the volume to a song that had me gazing into the wild. The natural beauty of the place is unlike anywhere else. I don’t even think of the cold, my senses are overwhelmed.

college fjords

I have been fortunate to visit the towns of Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan and Whittier. On a normal day in some of these towns there are no more than 2000 people, but when the cruise ships dock it can escalate to well over 15 000 people walking the streets. I am not a big fan of so many people all doing the same thing, so the first chance I have I escape the madness. I found myself walking along a dense forest with snow all around, no one in sight. When I stopped to take in the silence, I noticed bear droppings. My heart started racing and I wondered what would I do if I got hassled by a bear out here. I quickly make my way back to civilisation and decide to rather jump on a bus to go visit a Native American village. After learning all about totem poles and their significance to the Tlingit people, I have some tasty Halibut, Alaskan style.

saxman hall

One of the highlights on this trip was by far the helicopter ride to the top of a glacier. We had the chance to go on dog sleds up there too, which was absolutely amazing. The mixed bred dogs anticipation to get going was about 6 decibels loud while the height of the snow covered mountain range sored well above what I ever thought existed. The pure rush from being on top of the glacier had me feeling all inspired and somewhat brave, until I learnt about the life of the owners of these dogs. They live up there with the animals year round in these camps that look similar to Igloos, tending to their needs and taking the odd traveller on a sled ride. They have to watch out for avalanches all the time and brave the icy conditions on a daily basis. If something goes wrong up here you are far from any help, so no wonder I get a ‘ that’s- a –silly- question- look’ when I ask about snowboarding one of the slopes facing the camp.



From the comfort of the deck, wrapped in my warm clothing clutching a cup of coffee I watch one of nature’s impressive events unfold. Before this however, on our approach to one of the glaciers I notice icebergs scattered about the surface of the water in a beautifully unorganised manner. Some as big as a double decker bus, some as invisible as a thought. The glaciers are constantly moving, and you can hear it loud and clear. The sound of the glacier moving and crunching its way toward the inevitable drop into the water is like listening to a lion cracking through the bones of a fresh kill. It is eerie, yet spectacular. When the weight of the tightly compacted icebergs become too much for the glacier to hold, it plummets into the water with a thundering sound, equal to that of a gigantic wave breaking over a shallow reef. This is nature at work, and a more immediate observation of geomorphology would be hard to find.

iceberg calving

Alaska is a wild place. It is a beautiful place, but the soft snow should not be misinterpreted, for it is a hard place too. The winters are harsh and I feel fortunate to have been here at the start of summer.

Like with all the places we visit, there is always more to be seen. On the last day before we sail back to Whittier to catch our connecting flights somewhere warmer, I meet an elderly gent in a typical Alaskan bar in Ketchikan. When I order my beer from the bar lady, my accent blows my camouflage and thus the question come up, “ Where ya from?” I love this question. It can lead to many endless conversations and this time around is no different. After introducing myself, I become Ken the retired crab fisherman’s new friend. He shares stories of high seas and near death experiences out in the Bay of Yakutat. When I ask him about the surfing possibilities around Alaska, he draws me a map on a Budweiser napkin. Without hesitance he draws from his memory a neatly detailed map of supposedly epic long waves. Because I am sentimental about small things, I fold the napkin and put it away safely. I have always wanted to be given a secret treasure map, and this one I sense, may have some adventures of epic proportions involved. For now, the map is in a safe place, but I cant wait to pull it out one day when I came back to Alaska, the last frontier.

whittier day1

glacier bay icebergs