Born in 1972 with a whole boat load of healthy interests. As a close friend of mine so cleverly said when I asked him how I could best describe myself, and my life, in just one (very long) sentence:
"A multi-lingual former cruiseship deck officer, a Guest Relations Trainer, an English language teacher, a former Public Relations Manager and finally now a passenger ship Captain with many years living in South East Asia, and with a heartfelt passion for photography and a newfound interest in creating videos."
In the long story below, you can read some of the reasons why I chose to become a seaman. Some parts may have been omitted for various reasons, but I still hope you will enjoy reading about my voyage in life.
MY VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE:
Looking back over my shoulder. It was a Thursday in early 1987 when a Norwegian Captain named Åge Hoddevik called my home. I was in school at the time so the Captain had a long conversation with my mother instead. They had a conversation about me. He was asking her for permission to take me on board a ship that I apparently loved so much.
This young boy apparently loved this ship so much that the Captain himself thought it was best if I would be given the chance to experience it by myself. But let's start with the beginning.
During my teenage years I was probably some kind of an odd person (maybe still until this day), some may even call it a geek in modern terms. But never the less, I had a passion for ships and especially cruise- and passenger ships. In every moment of my free time I wrote letters (yes, this was before the age of e-mail and Internet) to all sorts of cruise lines asking for them to send me brochures and printed materials, which I in most cases also received shortly afterwards. I clearly remember when the big envelopes occasionally would arrive; with names such as Chandris, Royal Cruise Line and Epirotiki Cruise Line printed on them. They came from equally exotic places: Athens, Los Angeles, Italy....
To me, it wasn’t like Christmas Eve every single time, it was just so much better. From these brochures and pictures, I spent many countless hours making pencil drawings of their ships - studying details and dreaming that I would one day sail on them. For a young teenager as I was, it was an amazing experience to receive these large envelopes from all over the world, containing exotic cruise brochures and in some cases souvenirs with cruise-ships on them, from companies such as particularly the famed Epirotiki Lines in Athens and Royal Caribbean in Oslo. By this, my passion got fuel and I started dreaming about the ships, the places they sailed and the people that were on them. I remember how I used to imagine sailing on them to faraway places, places that were listed in their brochures. In the beginning, I didn’t necessarily dream of working on the ships, just sailing on them and learning every detail about the ship. However, there was in particular one ship that always drew my attention more than any other ship, and it was a blue queen of the seas, a national symbol, and the largest passenger ship afloat. It was the S|S Norway.
From the moment the first envelope from (then) Norwegian Caribbean Lines arrived, the SS Norway became my favorite ship instantly. I remember the envelope also contained a leather book-mark from the SS Norway, some logo papers, postcards of their ships, their recent Cruise Atlas and a golden etched picture of the S/S Norway. Norwegian Caribbean Lines had clearly gone out of their way to send me a well-packed envelope with so much stuff. I had sent out letters to cruise lines all over the world, and some only sent their Cruise Atlas but Norwegian Caribbean Lines, Epirotiki Lines and Celebrity really went out of their way to include other promotional items as well.
Well, anyhow, back to the ship which quickly became a favorite in my collection. In the summer of 1984 the S|S Norway came to its home country Norway and a book was later written and published about the voyage around the Norwegian coast and up to North Cape. The book was published in English as well as in Norwegian. The Norwegian version carried the title “SS Norway Langs Norskekysten”, while in English, the book was named “SS Norway A tribute in words and pictures”.
I clearly recall how absolutely amazing it was to open and see this book for the first time, and it still is. The ship was so big, so beautiful and I could feel the emotions building up. Knowing that it would be close to impossible experiencing her or even seeing her for real, I started making detailed drawings of her while dreaming that one day when I had enough money, I would walk up the gangway and experience the giant ship. I could not really imagine what it would be like. But it was nothing else than dreaming. I read the book over and over again; time after time. I studied every single picture over and over again. I studied every single detail in the images; no matter how small. I remember laying down on my bed with an enlargement glass going from page to page over and over again.
I never thought of it in any other way - the ship was by that time safely back in Miami and so unreachable for a young teenager. But it did not stop me from dreaming, and borrowing the book over and over again from the local library. I can not imagine how many hours I studied those pictures - it was many.
Still, to this day, I keep on bringing this book out of its shelf and study the pictures again and again.
Well, let’s go back to the phone call from Hoddevik. It was a Thursday afternoon, early spring and the year was 1987. I came home from the school and my mother had a big smile across her face. She did not reveal anything - her lips were sealed. But she did ask me to call a phone number. I recall that when I saw the number, I immediately knew it was somewhere in Oslo in Norway but had no idea with whom it would contact. “Norwegian Caribbean Cruise Line versegod” the lady in the other end said with a pleasant voice. I became a little perplexed but managed to ask for Åge, as my mother had told me to do. I don't recall much of the following conversation but he was the Captain of the S|S Norway and he was wondering if I would like to come and join him for a cruise on board? Would I? Was this a joke? It took me a while but I suddenly realized that I had been invited to full fill my dream. After the initial shock and scream, he politely informed me that the meeting with the “Norway” was to take place in July the same year and that a Norwegian weekly magazine called “Allers” would like to join and make a story on it, for a later autumn-edition. (Number 41-1987).
My mother had already given the green light to send her son all the way to America in July. I could not wait for the trip to begin. It was so overwhelming. A short while after the phone conversation with Captain Hoddevik, a letter arrived at my home. It was written on paper embossed with the heading S|S Norway and it was signed by Captain Hoddevik, Master of the SS Norway. The letter was a confirmation on our phone conversations and just had to be framed and put on the wall.
It was from "THE CAPTAIN" of the largest passenger ship in the world! I probably read the letter a million times before I went to meet the ship. Captain Hoddevik was next to God in my eyes, he was the Captain of the Norway. I admired him from the very first time I spoke with him. He even sent me a general and friendly hand written letter from his Miami hotel room before my trip stating that he was looking forward to wishing me welcome on board. It was so amazing for a young teenager like me. When I left for America, I think I did not know what I was about to experience and I had absolutely no idea at that time how much this trip would impact my life later.
On the way to meet the ship in Miami, I also had the opportunity to stop by Norwegian Caribbean Lines head office in Oslo and personally meet Captain Åge Hoddevik, which at that time was working on Project Phoenix (a new building project designed to carry around 5400 passengers and weighing in at about 250.000 gross tons; 3 times larger than the Norway). He showed me the technical details, a model of the ship, explained the GA plans, the brochures and the pictures and promised me that I would definitely be hired if completing the maritime academy on time for its launch in June 1992.
I remember asking him, if he would really hire me to which he replied, something like: “If you do well in school and behave when you are on the Norway, you can count yourself in as the first person hired to work on her”. I remember I felt very dizzy during my meeting with Hoddevik in Oslo - to me he was larger than life, a blessing from the skies. He was extremely passionate about his job and I loved talking about the Norway with someone who knew the ship so well. When leaving the office I remember he looked at me and said “This trip will change your life, Jan-Olav”. My expectations were, if possible, now geared up to the very highest level.
The trip to Miami to meet the ship went as far as I remember quite well on board a Pan Am 747. Arriving in Miami on a Friday evening, the night before the cruise, we checked in at Riverpark Hotel. With 'we' I meant me and a reporter from ALLERS that were to be my caretaker and the person to write the story about this 'off-the-wall' and somewhat uncontrollable teenager.
The night at the hotel was a nightmare for me, maybe even more for the young journalist which had to cope with this overly energetic guy about to come face to face with his biggest dream in the world. I could not sleep. How could I be sleeping. It was not like the night before Christmas - it was so much worse. The sun finally rose over Miami. It was Saturday, July 11th 1987. After a quick and tropical breakfast at the hotel we eventually got into a cab and drove the few kilometers down to the cruise terminal on Dodge Island.
I could see her long before we arrived. The first thing I saw was the twin funnels towering high above all other cruise ships in port with her that day. I saw the two funnels, the radar mast and later her immense blue hull. I was ecstatic. I could hardly contain myself in the normally quite large American taxi. I was hanging half out the window during parts of the journey and I’m sure the journalist wondered if she could take care of me if she let me loose or if the cab slowed down. Till this day, I can not imagine the tremendous job the journalist had put herself into by accepting the responsibility of taking care of me in America. It must have been a nightmare for her - even though she got a free cruise as well.
The rest of the week went as fast as a split second; maybe even faster. I ran around the ship for 7 days - not ever wanting to leave even when reaching exotic ports. I was invited to the bridge many times and spent much time up there. It was truly amazing. I couldn't believe what I had been a part of. But it was my future.
“I shall return” I proclaimed loudly during a photo shoot up on the top deck under the giant letters spelling out Norway. I was dressed in a borrowed Captain suit, some numbers too large but who cared? I certainly did not.
After returning home, I was in no doubt what my choice in career would be. I enrolled immediately at the Maritime Academies all over Norway but was accepted at the northern city of Tromsø. I quickly got my things together and then moved to Tromsø to start my studies.
The school and the teachers were all great. Even though I did not enjoy the practical mechanical subjects at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed the navigational sides of the terms. I had no doubt that I did not belong in the engine, but on the bridge. After the first year in Tromsø I continued the second year in Kristiansund on the west coast. I don’t really remember why I didn’t continue with second year in Tromsø but I think it had to do with the application time. I got accepted first to Kristiansund and shortly afterwards to Tromsø.
The second year was all about being confused because now I enjoyed the mechanical and engineering subjects more. The school had a large ship’s diesel engine and some lube oil separators in a large workshop that we were to work on during the school year. Even though we were only doing them each once, I kept on fiddling with the separators and the large main engine far more than required by the school. It was so incredible to be able to understand the complexity of the engine and being able to control it as I wanted. Start and stop, put on load to the engine and all the processes that was needed to run the engine. Was I to become an engineer?
Luckily, Norwegian Caribbean Lines put me on the right path again. 2 years after sailing on the Norway as a guest of honor, in June 1989, I returned to the Norway as a deck boy. I was a crew member and I couldn't believe it! NCL in Oslo kept their promise and gave me the chance to return for work on a cruise ship even though at that time under Bahamian flag, the ship no longer had Scandinavian crew. But I didn't mind working with Filipinos at all, as long as I could work on a cruise ship like the S|S Norway.
I was treated well on board and enjoyed it tremendously. I worked in different fields and really knew that this is what I wanted. It was all so amazing and I was so dedicated to my work. But I also quickly realized that it was the navigation bridge I belonged to. During my first contract on the Norway and the first contract at sea, I worked in the galley as a utility, with the Bosun, with the fire fighters, with the engineers a short while and the best part: with the Navigators on the bridge.
I clearly remember the smells on board, the history, the sounds - the ship had a soul unlike no other I would ever experience in my life again. The smell was a mix of years-old suntan oil, tropical Caribbean and the past. Working on the Norway was like being in a revered place for me. There were traces of her past as the France around every corner - she was strong, elegant and the passion of the people on board was undoubtedly what made me love her even more. Everyone was so immensely proud of working on board.
Third year of Nautical studies took me back to Tromsø again: something I was very happy about. For some reason, I found both this school and the people of Tromsø to be great people to be around. I enjoyed every single minute of my second year in Tromsø.
As time quickly passed, I was in 1990 asked if I would like to try something new, so I was given the chance to work on the Royal Viking Sun of Royal Viking Line. I had no objections; the ship sailed around the world and did world cruises. And Royal Viking Line was the creme-de-creme of the cruise industry. They were the inventors of luxury cruising. When I joined the Royal Viking Sun in Stockholm in the summer of 1991 I joined as an able bodied seaman. I loved Royal Viking so much that I did not sign off before a full 18-month contract was completed. The captain basically forced me off for vacation, because even after that long time on board, I was not yet ready for vacation.
You can read more about the time with Royal Viking Line, on this page dedicated to My Royal Viking Sun - story. After more then two good years on the Royal Viking Sun, Royal Viking Line was being closed down with the ships facing uncertain future or even sold. I was asked where I wanted to go: did I have any preference of ships within the parent company of Royal Viking Line?
I had no hesitation when I said, if it is possible, could I be sent back to the SS Norway again. NCL thought about it and agreed. I was by this time promoted to be a First Officer and then returned to the Norway. I could not believe my luck. I was once again in the perfect place. I stayed on the Norway for many years but got eventually transferred to most of the other NCL-ships of that time.
Being sent from the Norway to another NCL-ship was very hard in the beginning, but it was a good experience to get the feel of a motor ship as well. Norway was a steam ship and demanded careful navigation and planning because of her restricted maneuverability and size. Go here to read more in My S|S Norway - story.
MY LIFE IN THAILAND.
Whilst I was still a very young boy, and after having completed my studies at Maritime Academies in Norway, I started working on cruise-ships for month after month. The time on board was spent on all the seven oceans of the world, in most major and some minor ports around the world and on all 5 continents. My taste for the world was soon developed into a life long passion and quest.
Returning to Norway to visit parents during holidays was a natural part of every vacation, but as soon as the visits had been done, there wasn’t much for me to do in Norway. I didn’t have many friends to hang out with after school and I never really felt comfortable and completely at home in Norway. A strong urge to continue traveling also during my time off made itself clear from the very first vacation.
My first big adventures continued in the Philippines and I felt at home immediately after arriving. I had my long time friends to visit and places to see, I had money in the bank and lots of time on my hand. I spoke the local language fluently and knew much about the customs and traditions. People received me with open arms wherever I went, whether it was in large palaces or in tiny shanties. I made friends with people of all social layers, some of which to this day keep in touch and which I have enjoyed many happy hours with.
After doing some part time working in Manila during vacations, not for the money, but rather for the experiences, I met some very influential people from another country. They spoke warmly of their own country and I was compellingly intrigued. I went to visit them and shortly afterwards, I called Indonesia ‘home’. As soon as I had arrived in Jakarta, I started learning the language and within no time at all, I also now spoke (Bahasa) Indonesian quite fluently. There are many exiting stories from these days and months, some which is not suitable for all audiences here and some which really made good, lasting impressions of a wonderful country filled with many wonderful people.
For many reasons not to be divulged into here, my time in Indonesia did not last long and before a considerable time had passed, I packed up my bags once again and moved northwards to Thailand.
My life on vacation living in Asia and my life working on board cruise ships were vastly different and I met many a ‘colleague’ which for reasons unknown to me, simply could not accept the fact that I had resided in Asia for a very long time and that I therefore had a very good connection with most Asian crew members. I spoke their languages fluently and understood very well where they came from, and that was not an asset in the years I started sailing.
When arriving back in Thailand, I soon picked up on the language again: it soon became an obsession of me, as I quickly realized you would have the potential to get really far when the local languages were absorbed. I used music, I used the newspapers, I used private tutors, I used friends and any other mean I had available learning also the Thai language. It was really difficult, but I always knew I had it in me and I found comfort in telling myself that if a 4 year old Thai child could speak Thai, then I could also do the same: my brain was no less of a machine and should be able to absorb the skills needed. It took however a much longer time than I initially thought, and lots of money was spent on perfecting the language with the help of private tutors. Learning Thai was hard, first you would have to learn how to speak, then once that was mastered more or less efficiently, you would have to learn how to both read and write. But now, I see, that it’s all manageable with a steel will and a burning interest in languages.
Whilst working on cruise ships, all vacations took me back home to a lovely sea-view house on the island of Phuket at first, then later on to Bangkok where I found a new home fascinated by the bright city life and the hectic and bustling world metropolis. I had together with some close friends partaken in several private ‘investment projects’ during my time in Thailand, mostly at Phuket. It was all great fun and a bit of hard work but the benefits and financial gains were rather miniscule at the most. None of my own projects were done for the economics, neither were they done for the sole purpose of learning. I have actually no idea why they came to, and what made me jump onto that band-wagon.
During the year I lived at Phuket, in hindsight often thought of as the absolutely best year of my life, I also worked for Thai Airways doing Guest Service Training in their first class. This perfect job gave me the opportunity to travel almost anywhere in the world where Thai had flights going to, and at times which I for the most part chose myself. Additionally, Phuket was an amazing place to live, and I made some really wonderful friendships there. If I ever look back at my whole life in one, this year, 1999, was truly the best year of my entire life.
Many years later, in 1999, I joined another luxury cruise line - the inheritor of Royal Viking Line's guests and the highest rated cruise line in the world - Crystal Cruises. After a very friendly and inspiring meeting with the management of Crystal Cruises hiring office in Oslo, they assigned me to join the Crystal Symphony in Venice, Italy, in September 1999. Go here to read My Crystal Cruises - story. I do remember how hard it was to resign from my job at Thai Airways, but I also remember that I sought comfort in the fact that I now had the chance to see if the Royal Viking - spirit was still alive.
Talking about landing in lap of luxury - the ship, the crew and the Captain was probably among the most dedicated people I have ever worked with. Whether the cruise-line knew it or not, they had gathered some of the finest people around. And they received awards for it - over and over again.
There are also some events, which normally would have been highlights of any persons life taking place in the beginning of the new millennium, but those later turned out for the worst and have been omitted from this story as I do not want to divulge further into these details. Things that happened, most surely happened for a reason, and some aspects of my life will therefore remain a very private matter.
At the end of 2004 a tsunami ravaged many countries in the Indian Ocean region and life priorities somewhat changed dramatically. I was still sailing on Crystal Symphony, and loved my job as much as it was possible to love a job. New choices in my most personal life were however quickly forced into the front seat, ultimatums had to be made and I had to decide on one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life so far at that point: resigning from Crystal Cruises. This was probably one of the things I regret the most doing in life, but at the time, I had no option. At the end of 2005, my maritime life came to an end - at least for this time.
I had plans and things that I just had to do. Things that could not be postponed any longer and things that could not be done whilst still working at sea. It was undoubtedly one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to do in my whole life. I loved Crystal Cruises from the bottom of my heart and feel very appreciative for everything they did for me, and for the constant friendliness and professionalism they displayed.
But I had no choice.
The first things I had to do was sorting out some personal matters whilst I was working part-time for several different employers in Bangkok, and attending a University college in Bangkok for some additional studies. The first time back home in Thailand was busy and all my commitments took up much of my time the following months.
Then, at the start of 2006 I was offered a new job as a Project Management Coordinator in a daughter company of Thailand’s largest real estate developer, Sansiri and their branch Plus Property. Starting to work in a shore side office environment was extremely exiting at first and my position was soon changed to Expatriate Public Relations Manager. As the only foreigner in Plus Property among about 1500 other staff, all of Thai nationality, it was a lot to learn about Thai ethics, work practices and within development, construction and after sale service. I really had to draw on all my previous experiences but at times, I was overwhelmed of the intricacies and politics of the job. I do not wish to get too much into details on this subject, but it takes a very special kind of person to be able working in such an environment whilst still being committed. Needless to say, I met many different personalities also here: some of which I will forever be grateful for and fond of, and some that I rather not see again. My immediate boss and some of my co-workers were - and still are - as close to family as they could possibly be. They were absolutely wonderful, and I still think of my Thai "boss" as one of the greatest people I have ever met in my life.
I learnt one thing though: that if you look really hard and searched long enough, you could find some very impressively dedicated, honest and trustful personalities. A handful number of persons will forever be remembered for their friendliness and trust, for their guidance and support and for being such great individuals both at work and in personal times.
Life in Thailand did however come to an abrupt and unwanted end, much faster than I had wished. I had long been planning to return to sea, you know, there is a saying: ‘once a seaman, forever a seaman’. But it was always too hard leaving; it was extremely hard making the first step, making the necessary moves.
At the time leading up to these wishes to return to a nautical career again, I was hit hard twice, with the passing of two people in my closest family back home in Norway. Then, shortly after and out of nowhere, I myself got seriously ill and endured many months of running in and out of hospitals. I lost weight, I lost the life force, I lost it all. As time progressed, it all boiled down to a new ultimatum: leaving Thailand and returning to Norway. It was difficult; it was awfully tough. There is no word in the English vocabulary even near to describing how hard this was. Packing up and selling many of my most dear possessions were painful, dreams had been crushed and the world which I loved was no longer spinning. I had no goal to reach for, and had fallen into a bottomless pit.
The end of my days living in Thailand is for me still incredibly hard to put into words, and I therefore end the story of my time in Thailand at that.
There were so many things I could have added and included in this story, but trying not to get too personal, I have just drawn up some of the events as I remember them at this moment. Those that were and still are closest to me, know all these details and their loving and endless support were tested and tried many times over. It is during the darkest of days of someone's life, that true friends stay by your side and will guide you onwards.
I close the story of my life in Thailand by warmly thanking those that have helped me through the best and the darkest days: with no name mentioned you all know exactly who you are.
MY RETURN TO NORWAY.
Leaving behind a long life in Asia and moving to Norway is not as easy as it sounds.
Before we start, I would like to thank all of you that have read my previous stories and 'ramblings' about my life in Thailand, my life on cruise ships and those of you that has e-mailed me back and sent me so many words of encouragement and support. Your appreciation is wonderful reading to me and is a testament that all the hours spent on sharing so many sides of myself, have not been wasted in any way. Thank you all very much.
After living many years abroad in several Asian countries, the strangeness of returning and living in Norway came as a gigantic culture shock to me. First of all, as you all may have already read further up on this page, it was not of my own free will I had returned to Norway, and second of all, I had no idea how difficult it would actually be. Many a time I kept feeling like a complete stranger in my own native country. Even though this was once indeed my home country, I felt - and still feel - at unease with it all. I’m not familiar with so many aspects in Scandinavia and it’s really hard meeting new friends, let alone, getting really in touch with old friends. Those that I had gone to school with and those that I used to hang out with, now had families of their own and their own circle of friends. When occasionally running into them, it’s hard finding the right tone and get in touch and connect (it's true, Norwegians do talk about the weather when they have nothing else to say). Occasionally, I’m thinking if this is how refugees also meet the Norwegians in their daily life.
Having lived in Asia for such a long time, I feel I have totally different norms and very different ideas about almost everything. I had embraced a totally different culture of openness, friendliness and togetherness, not to forget the Thai way of having fun (‘sanook’). Norwegians, I believe, due to their scattered living, cold climate and their awesome wealth (as opposed to people of the Thai country side), has a very different way of seeing things and ways of communicating. I’m undoubtedly seen as an outsider by many. I constantly run into people at the local grocery store, and for the most part, I do not recognize them at all: they however know who I am and say hello before hurrying on. I always try my best at initiating a conversation, but it almost always feels odd and too often superficial. Naturally, the reasons may be quite obvious: they are already settled into their lives, their roles and their circle of friends.
In Bangkok the story would almost always be at the opposite end of the scale, I would meet total strangers at the mall and within the next 60 minutes we would have had our first cup of coffee, maybe even a quick bite to eat at a road side stall and then be heading to the movies together. Thai people are very open, and they are incredibly easy to make good friends with. This difference, I find extremely hard to get used to.
The first months after returning to Norway, for the most part, I hung indoors chatting on MSN and Skype with all friends from Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. Occasionally, I would try venturing outside for shorter periods of time, walking the streets feeling alone passing happy comments to store personnel at the local food store and cafeteria. After several additional months of job searching and "relaxing" at home in front of the computer, I went to take a refresher course in radio communications. During the week back in 'school', it was hard getting in touch with the other people, learning their names: it felt really strange to ask their names and hope that we could, if not be friends, be better acquainted. I soon realized that Norwegians are, as long as you are not a part of any group, hard to 'get in' on, get close to and understand. But as a bottom line, I enjoyed attending the week-long course quite much.
Before I sound way to judgmental, I would however like to state that not all people are like this, and there are a few people who apparently care more than others and really open up themselves. A few that took an equal initiative to create a bond get in touch and become ‘friends’. Most of the time, this was due to a shared interest or a common goal, or common views. It’s always easier to communicate with those that have spent some time abroad themselves. I tend to find myself surrounded by other Thai people and Sout-East Asians that have also moved to Norway.
Another thing might as well be the location at which I spent the first 6 months after returning to Norway: Rørvik is not really known to be a large city by any scale. Things happen over a higher threshold here than in any other larger city. Rørvik holds only about 4.000 people, most of which are either early teenagers or retirees.
I still miss hanging out with my equally aged and sometimes younger friends in Thailand, I miss my personal trainer which to me was a most fascinating training partner and genuine friend, I miss some of my colleagues at work which always had a joke to share, a passion for sanook and a passion for life. I have always been on the hyper active side (bordering to ADHD), maybe a bit too much to be a true Viking from Norway, but more closer to an Asian spirited individual. Thai people and Asians in general also appear to be much less judgmental and doesn’t necessarily have to put people into categories or stereotyped boxes.
On the question of personal wealth, I also have some opinions to share. Currently, there are many programs and reality shows running on the TV screen each day where spoiled teenagers are sent to stricter families and work camps at other locations in the world. I sometimes wonder if also some people in Norway could benefit of such programs: those that are fond of tagging trains and walls, underpasses and buildings and those that trash bus shelters. I think they could potentially have good of some time in the Thai northeastern country side handling stubborn oxen’s, harvesting rice under the burning sun and living sparingly on clothes that would only be used as washing rags in Norway, if that at all. I have seen poverty and I’m sometimes appalled at the spoiled behavior and carelessness of teenagers in the developed part of the world. I often think that these people are being formed by a society’s wealth and the parent’s lack of proper discipline, maybe parents lack of time because they have to acquire more wealth (for the taxman?). I very often miss the Thai country side, the people there are so much more relaxed looking at life and have a stunning simplicity of living: but they are no less happy than us in the rich part of the world. I often feel that I would probably fit better in at a small village in north east Thailand than I would in a rich apartment in a technologically advanced country like Norway. I would probably be more at ease with myself, for better or for worse.
My first real employer after my Norwegian return became Torghatten Nord, a ferry and HSC operator with many fine vessels and several hundred employees in Nordland and Troms county. During the summer of 2009 I was offered a vacant summer-job on a vessel type I long have been dreaming of working at: on board a HSC (high speed craft). During the 4 long summer months, I served on the HSC's named Skogøy, Ofoten and Nordfolda. I met many very fine professionals during this time, and learned a lot about Bodø and the outlying islands, and about navigating a high-speed craft. I must admit though, that in retrospect, I have come to realize that I also encountered people who could not stand my background, my values and my story: people who were not true to themselves. Enough said, I also met and ended up sailing the last couple of weeks in the north with a most professional captain, which I will remember for a very long time for his professionalism, and friendliness. Maybe being a 'trønder' in the north is not such a good idea, especially in Bodø (sarcasm warning... hehehe)?
I would like to close off these ramblings by stating that I do not intend to hang out all Norwegians as boring and hard-to-befriend individuals, but I would like to see people loosening up a little more, trying something new and taking time to get in touch with people a little outside of their own comfortable daily zones. Dare a little, try something new, learn something from eachother and be creative and passionate. Live hard, die fast. Believe me, things may change some day.
In closing, things are looking a little brighter now for me as well and hopefully, many of my first impression would change the next coming months as I finally returned to a new paid job. Having a job is more than just earning a living but also important because it puts you in a group, and you are actually performing a task that might be valuable to a few or many. The importance of belonging somewhere in a society, whether it is in Norway or it is Thailand, is a very important aspect of any person’s life. With a job you belong to a group of workers performing tasks needed for the society to work.
!!! Story coming soon !!!
!!! Story coming soon !!!
!!!!!!!! Story coming soon !!!!!!!
!!!!!!!! The rest of the story coming soon, please check back again! !!!!!!!
For those of you that now have read this whole page from top to bottom, and also My Royal Viking story, My SS Norway story, and about My Crystal Family, you have now followed me a very long way.
Right now, I’m up and going more or less as before, with a job and hopefully a few more good years ahead learning, meeting other people, and developing my own skills within new and old subjects.
I have most certainly learnt that everyone’s life is based on coincidences and like the branches of a tree; our paths are being written and re-written all the time. We have no idea what is ahead of us and we will never know, maybe that is for the best anyway.
All we can do is to wish for the best to happen us all and get out of bed each morning making things happen while we still are strong enough to make a difference.