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Colorful Building in Amsterdam

Colorful Building in Amsterdam

I don’t know what is inside this awesome building that I randomly saw in Amsterdam, but it I just love how it looks ๐Ÿ™‚

Monkey day

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As it turns out, there is a huge monkey park in the Netherlands, only about an hours drive from where we live, called De Apenheul. The zoo started in 1971 and is completely dedicated to monkeys. They have large groups of gorilla, orang-gutan, chimpanzee and last but not least over 200 squirrel monkeys running freely within the park just to mention a few good reasons to visit. I just knew I had to see this place once I heard of it and made Rob and my friend Marleen tag along even if it was sunday and odds were the park would be really busy.ย  As we entered the park we were asked to put our personal belongings in special monkeyproof bags, to avoid harming the squirrel monkeys – I think the bags looked kind of cool so that was no problem at all ^^

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We kept on going and after just a few meters we saw a squirel monkey with a little baby holding on to her back climbing on eager visitors. I stretched out my arm and just like that she moved on to me ๐Ÿ™‚ I managed to give her to Marleen as well before she jumped on to the next person. This all went very quickly so it was hard for us to get good photos. We were really happy to experience this though and amazed to have done so within 5 minutes of entering the park.

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We moved on to watch the orang-utans that were in a really large area consisting of several islands. I was really impressed with just how large the group of animals was and I got quite a few nice shots of them climbing around.

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There was even a really cute baby ๐Ÿ™‚Image

We moved on to watch the keepers feed the gorillas. Again I was amazed with just how large the family was, not to mention how big the leader of the group, Jambo is: Image

After walking around watching all the different kinds of monkeys in the park, we decided to go back to the start of the trail and see if we could manage to have one of the squirrel monkeys climb on us again. We were in luck, and one of the slightly bigger ones decided to play with us for a while. After trying to steal Marleens earring without sucess (we managed to steal it back just before his friend ran off with it) he tried to get into my monkeyproof bag. This also didn’t work out so he settled for climbing on me for a little while instead ๐Ÿ™‚

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This park is definitely worth a visit, but I do reccomend to try and avoid sundays – it was a bit too crowded when we went there.

Is is still called homesick when you long for 3 different places all at the same time?

After living abroad for over 2 years now, it is not just my home country that I miss anymore. I miss China and Japan almost every day, allthough I miss Norway the most and I also enjoy living here in the Netherlands. I guess it’s the downside of being lucky enough to have lived in multiple countries.

Japan was my first meeting with Eastern Asia, and my frist time living abroad. I was fresh out of highschool and living out my dream together with about 20 other Norwegian exchange students.

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Japan surprised me in many ways. There are parts of Japan that are actually not crowded, not overly modern and still really awesome. You most likely never even heard of the town I lived in, Togane. I still loved living there every day, and I learned so much from my stay there – about Japan, growing up and about myself. I have traveled back to Japan a few times already,and even met a few of the many friends I made there.I will never be able to recreate my time in Togane though, because most of the friends I made while living there are long gone by now. The Japanese students moved on to other parts of Japan, and the international students have either moved home or to somewhere else as well. There is actually absolutely no way to go back to the life I had there for a brief 5 months.

China was my second time living abroad, and the second country in Asia I ever went to. (it has pretty much been either nothing or everything for me in that part of the world hehe) At this stage I was a bit more grown up and a bit more used to traveling without my family.

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I realised right away that we would be a lot more left to ourselves in China than I ever was in Japan.ย  We arranged more or less everything except school on our own, something that I also learned a lot from.ย The people I went here with were awesome in a completely different way than the people I went to Japan with. It was all a little bit less organized, for better for worse.ย  I fell in love with Shanghai, a city almost as diverse as its country, China. Wether you want to go shopping, relax in the park, experience old Chinese buildings or extremly modern skyscrapers – Shanghai is the place to go. For those of you that followed my blog for a while, you know that my stay there was also the reason I started to blog in the first place, and I did over a hundred posts on Shanghai and China in general.

After only 3 weeks home in Oslo, I started on my next adventure – life in the Netherlands with my boyfriend Rob. We were sick of doing long distance after a whole year on opposite sides of the world, and I decided that I might as well see how I liked it in his home country. I have started to build a new life for myself here with a fulltime job, new friends, Rob of course and my first pet ever, Morgan the hamster. Moving to the Netherlands almost felt like moving back home, as I am now in Europe again and not in the far east.

I am really happy to be here of course, but I also miss the places that I left behind every now and then. My home country, Norway is still the place that I miss the most though. My friends and family in Oslo are truly amazing for still being there for me, even after I moved away from them not once, but 3 times now. I miss them all the time, and wish there was a way to experience the whole world and still stay in touch with all the people I care about. Hopefully I will be able to find a good way to do this in the future, but it is becoming hard as some of the people I care about obviously is on the other side of the world by now.

Nairobi National Park

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As our flight back to Amsterdam didn’t leave until the evening – we decided to go on one last game drive our final day in Kenya, in Nairobi National Park. As this park is only 7 km from the city centre, you can see Nairobi’s skyline from several areas within the park and with a little luck you can capture some really cool shots of animals in front of it.

We stayed for about 7 hours looking for animals and saw a few gazelles, lots of giraffes and a few ostriches. Compared to the other parks we went to I have to admit this didn’t feel like much. It was still a good way to kill some time while waiting on our flight back though, and Im sure it is a great getaway for people staying in Nairobi ๐Ÿ™‚

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We left the park when we got tired of looking for animals, and after a short stop at a shoppingmall by the highway we headed to the airport, and eventually back towards Amsterdam.

I am sure I will remember some of the highlights from this trip for the rest of my life, it really was one of the best vacations I have ever been on and I have decided that I really have to go on another African Safari some day! ๐Ÿ™‚

Best Moment Award, Thank you Dear Kitty. Some Blog!

Kitty of the blog Dear Kitty. Some Blog has nominated this blog for the Best Moment Award.

RULES of the Best Moment Award:

Winners re-post this completely with their acceptance speech. This could be written or video. Winners have the privilege of awarding the next awards! The re-post should include a NEW set of people/blogs worthy of the award; and, winners, notify them the great news!

Best-Moment-Award

  • What makes a good acceptance speech?
    • Gratitude. Thank the people who helped you along the way
    • Humour. Keep us entertained and smiling
    • Inspiration. Make your story touch our lives
  • Get an idea from the great acceptance speeches, compiled in MomentMatters.com/Speech
  • Display the awardโ€™s badge on your blog/website, downloadable in MomentMatters.com/Award

ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

First of all I would like to thank Kitty for nominating my blog – I just recently discovered her blog, and Im really happy to see that she likes my blog as much as I like hers! Thank you so much, it means a lot to me!

I actually stopped blogging for a while, but decided to start again for a little bit, to do a few posts sharing my experiences from a trip I made to Kenya. Winning something like this really motivates me to keep on blogging not only about this trip, but also about future trips I make, life experiences and random things that I like! Perfect timing ๐Ÿ™‚

My nominees are:.

1. Bucket List Publications

2. Thirdeyemom

3. Traveler’s Log

4. The Vibe 101

5. Wanderlustress

6. Carolinne’s World

7. ThrivingPurpose

8. The Politics of Thought, South Africa

9. Equatours

10. Everywhere Once

Lake Oloiden – Flamingos at last! :)

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After hoping to see flamingos at both Lake Nakuru and Lake Naivasha with no luck, I eventually asked our guide Filip where we would be able to find these beautiful pink birds. Filip took us to Lake Oloiden, which is a slightly smaller salt water lake close to Lake Naivasha. As we reached the lake we saw more or less right away that we had finally found the flamingos and we were taken out by boat to get a closer look.

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Watching flamingos in the wild really was very diferent from seeing them in a zoo, mainly because we were able to watch them flying and taking off from the water.ย  As flamingos take off they appear to be running on the water, it looks really awesome! You can really see how beautiful the wings are when they are spread as well. We followed the flamingos around for a while, taking pictures and watching them. Weย  ran into insane amounts of hippos in the process of doing this, appearently they really like this lake as well.

IMG_0660IMG_0669As hippos are known to kill humans for fun I actually got a little nervous a few times. Hippos that were really closeby dived into the water and we appeared to be driving right over the place where we had seen the animals only a few minutes before.ย  Another animal that seem to enjoy the lake is the pelikan and we saw quite a few of them sitting in a tree.

IMG_0685I really enjoyed this little safari by boat, and Im very happy that I finally got to see some flamingos. If you ever want to do a boat safari in Kenya this is definietly the place to go! And now some more pictures of the pinkest birds around! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Exploring Hells Gate National Park

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As the animals living in Hells Gate National park are all more or less harmless, it is possible to explore the area both by bike and on foot. Rob and I were happy to try a more active way to visit a national park, and we went on a gamedrive by bike followed by a hike in Hells Gate Gorge. The bicycle ride was pretty nice, and we saw a lot of zebras, gazelles, buffalos and warthogs.

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For me the highlight of our visit was definitely the hiking part though. After about 40 minutes on bike we reached the rangers post, where we left the bikes and had a cold drink before heading into the gorge.

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The hike, as it turned out, was a pretty challenging one. We climbed almost as much as we walked and we also had to wade through water. It is safe to say the clothes we wore this day were not usable for the rest of our vacation and I was extremely happy that I brought my good walking shoes.

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The awesome scenery more than made up for the hard climbs and the water though, and our guide Simon was really good at helping us out with the hardest climbs. The gorge was absolutely beautiful, and it was really nice to be out hiking after all those days sitting in a car ๐Ÿ™‚

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As we ventured deeper into the gorge we saw some water flowing down from the walls. Simon told us that due to volcanic activity in the area this water is actually really warm, he then went over and took a shower in it, just like that. As we were both really warm and getting a bit tired from all the climbing, this didn’t seem like a half bad idea at the time though,and we decided to give it a go as well ๐Ÿ™‚Image

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The water was, indeed, quite warm – more or less the same as you normaly aim for when taking a shower. I really needed to cool down as well, so the shower was very welcome. At this point, we were told, the hike would become harder, with more climbs and more wading through water. The scenery was supposedly even nicer further into the gorge though, and we would get to see the so called hells shower. How could we possibly say no? We kept on climbing and the gorge did, indeed become even more beautiful.

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After a little while we got the the part called hells shower. It was pretty easy to see how they came up with the name – in this part the showering in warm water wasn’t optional anymore.

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We took a different route back to the rangers post, exiting the gorge itself by this viewing point:

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By the time we reached the rangers station again, we were really warm and pretty exhausted. We were running out of water, and we were really not looking forward to riding our bikes for another 40 mins back to the car. It was, as we suspected, pretty tough making it back again, especially on Rob. He was so warm and thirsty that I suspect he actually got dehydrated and as we didn’t have any water left there was no way to help him until we reached the car. When we finally made it back we found some leftover water that Rob drank up and Filip (our guide/driver) stopped and bought us two big bottles of water at the first possibility. I have to say water rarely taste quite as good as it did then! Rob looked a little bit better after we got water in him, but he didn’t completely recover until the next day. Learn from our mistake and bring enough water when hiking in the sun guys, this one could have ended really badly for us. We still really loved this park and it was one of the highlights of our whole trip to Kenya – definitely worth the trip if you’re ever in the area ๐Ÿ™‚

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Lake Naivasha

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After doing traditional game drives by car for a good 5 days it was time for something new. We headed for a boat safari on Lake Naivasha. I had really high hopes for this trip, which is probably why I got pretty let down by it once we were there. We agreed with our guide that we would do both a game drive by boat, and a walk on the so called “crescent island” where we were told we could walk with animals like giraffes, zebras and gazelles. In my own stupidity I somehow though that maybe on this lake we would see some flamingos at last, but then I learned that flamingos live in salt water lakes, and Lake Naivasha is a fresh water lake. We did see a lot of Hippos though, and pelicans.

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The biggest let down for me was the crescent island. When we got out of the boat, we were shown two giraffes behind a fence, that were pretty far away – and that wasn’t the worst part, our guide offered to have somebody make them come closer using a stick.. obviously we didn’t want that. Just as when we went to Lake Nakuru, we were told that most of the animals left due to higher water levels – they even blamed having put up fences on this. We were talked into paying extra for this stop that turned out to be nothing but sad, and were left with a feeling that we got ripped off. Back on the water the boat guide tried to make a bird come closer using some food – he failed pretty miserably though, as he dropped the food in the water. I honestly have to say that our visit to Lake Naivasha wasnt worth the trouble. Sure, the lake is beautiful, but the way we were tricked into thinking crescent island was something it clearly wasn’t kind of ruined the experience for me.

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If you ever decide to go on a boat safari in Kenya I would recomend going to Lake Oloidien instead. While it is a smaller and less known lake, it is easily just as beautiful as Lake Naivasha and there are more animals living there – I will do a seperate post about it later on ๐Ÿ™‚

By the Waterhole (Kilaguni Serena Lodge)

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Our hotel in Tsavo West National Park, Kilaguni Serena Lodge, takes the whole staying inside of a national park thing to a whole new level – they have built two waterholes right next to the hotel.

This was the hotel I had looked forward to visiting the most, and I was very excited as we arrived. I was hoping to see some animals from the hotel restaurant, that I knew was overlooking both waterholes. When the staff was showing us our room I soon realized that I didn’t have to wait until dinner though, we could see one of the waterholes from right outside our window, where there was a small balcony. As they opened the curtains we saw a large group of elephants passing by! ๐Ÿ™‚ I really felt like we were living right in the middle of the wildlife, hehe.

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(sorry about the poor quality of the picture – I had to take it with my phone as my camera was out of power at the time)

We headed for dinner pretty much right away (after charging my camera), as we arrived pretty late. During dinner we saw a few hyenas by the waterholes, however I didn’t get any good photos, as there was another table blocking our view ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

After an awesome three course dinner we decided to stay and watch from a viewing platform for a while, hoping to spot some more animals. After a little while a huge group of elephants approached. I think there must have been at least 25 of them in total, and it was really awesome to see them play with each other and drink. I got a few photos as well, allthough they turned out pretty dark:

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It really was quite an experience. After the first group left, a second almost as large group came to drink as well, and I also saw a few buffalos and zebras. I stayed for about 2-3 hours just watching the animals.

As we just had one night in Tsavo West, we had to say goodbye to the amazing view already the next morning – I dragged Rob out of bed half an hour early so that we could have a long breakfast and after a pretty silly discussion with the waiter, (that said all the tables closest to the waterhole were taken allthough we were the only people there this early at all) I managed to get us a good table, closest to the view:Image

I really enjoyed the food, the view and our room at this hotel ๐Ÿ™‚ I was a little annoyed with the waiters though – I guess they didn’t realize how important it was to us getting to see the animals. Or maybe they just tried to be nice to some other guests, I don’t know. The rest of the experience definitely made up for this though – if Im ever in Kenya again I am going back, and Im staying longer than just one night!

Mzima Springs

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The Mzima Springs is a series of natural springs located in Tsavo West. With a little luck it is possible to spot both hippos and crocodiles in the springs, so obviously Rob and I had to go have a look. As we arrived, we were met by a park ranger holding a pretty big gun. He was also wearing army clothes, so we felt a little bit intimidated.

The ranger turned out to be a really nice guy though, and he reassured us that the gun was notย  for us – it was a security measure because of the wild animals living in the area. He took us to the first pool which seemed pretty empty, but still quite beautiful:

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We walked over to the little hut, that turned out to be partialy under water. We went inside and were able to see a lot of fish living in the spring – not quite hippos or crocodiles, but still pretty nice. The water really is very clear, so it is easy to see the animals.

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As I got out of the hut I managed to grab a photo of the ranger as well, hehe ๐Ÿ™‚

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We moved on to the next spring, where we found a couple of crocodiles – unlike the ones I have seen at various zoos growing up, these were actually moving around (at least every now and then) and I got a couple of cool pictures of them:

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I really enjoyed my visit to Mzima Springs, and I was very happy to see some crocodiles as we didn’t find them in any of the other parks ๐Ÿ™‚