I walked – nearly cycled right into, to be more precise – the Banker Han Hotel looking rather scruffy, dirty and disheveled (my usual self since converting to bicycle touring really!), half worried that I was going to get the “eye” for showing up all hobo-like in this very trendy new hotel in Istanbul. Instead of that, the staff came right outside to welcome me and it wasn’t ten seconds before I was handed a cup of tea and offered a seat at the reception with the staff who kindly asked about my travel. Some places are just so cool and hip and welcoming and perfect, and Banker Han by the Sofa is absolutely one of those gems.
2015 was a year of great changes for me: in the span of just a few short months, I lost a family member as well as my long-term relationship, amongst other things. Traveling became something that I both dreaded to do by myself and needed to do all at the same time, and I fortunately came to the simple realization that what I needed above all was to change how I traveled. So I swapped my backpack for a bicycle and everything suddenly clicked into place.
– Teşekkür Ederim, he says to me.
– … Techek ….huh? I reply with a foggy mind, having not slept for the greater part of the last two days as I commuted between Bangkok and Istanbul via Oslo.
– Just remember this: tea, sugar and a dream. Teşekkür Ederim. That’s “thank you” in Turkish.
Istanbul is a wonderful but hectic city and I arrived straight from Bangkok after a 40 hour commute, already frazzled by the pulse of the Big Mango. I was looking for a bit of a retreat on my first few days, a place where I could lay my head in peace while curing my jetlag. I found just that and much more at the beautiful Sumahan on the Water, a boutique hotel located on the greener, maybe less visited Anatolian side of the Bosphorus, the less harried and quieter Asian shore of Istanbul. It truly was the perfect introduction to this vibrant city.
Back with another video update! Some people have been telling me recently they enjoyed the way I didn’t sugarcoat anything, so I guess this one goes out to you my dear friends! Watch me lose my mojo just a little bit as I cut my bicycle tour short in order to arrive in Bangkok on time for some business. I’m also getting ready to leave South East Asia after nearly two years and not getting a whole lot of sleep in the process. I was mostly very tired, and potentially a little hormonal, hence the tears.
I’m sitting in the departure lounge with tears rolling down my face, staring blankly at my telephone screen, knowing he is also online, right there at the other end. Part of me would like a few last comforting words, but I can’t seem to think of anything to write that won’t make me look like the desperate mess that I am. What is there to say anyway? We’ve said hello and goodbye briefly a few weeks ago – and perhaps that was all a huge mistake – but this really should not be what the magic of the journey of self-discovery I have been on those past months amounts to, in the wake of a 20-month South East Asian whirlwind adventure. Yet, here I am, balling my eyes out and feeling like I’m back to square one.
I am back with a cycling video again today, and picking things up where I last left them. Please come with me as I cycle from Koh Phangan to Bangkok and encounter a few technical difficulties! Things were not as exciting as I would have hoped as the landscape quickly got boring – palm oil plantations lining most of the road and no wildlife whatsoever… I still made the best of it though and had a blast! You can watch part one here, part two right over here, and my whole YouTube channel right here. Make sure you subscribe not to miss an update! 🙂
Photo courtesy of Wat Kow Tahm
If someone had told me a few months ago that I would be voluntarily enrolling myself to sit cross-legged on the floor, without moving, 10 hours a day for 7 days in a Buddhist monastery – in complete silence – I would have chuckled in your face and told you that you were mistaking me for someone else.
Making a swift exit from Koh Phangan’s full moon party via longtail boat made me feel a little bit like the James Bond of all party pooper. And I liked it. #noregret
1. THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS IS TOUCHING ME BEYOND WORDS AND HAS 100% RESTORED MY FAITH IN HUMANITY