25 years ago, we embarked on our first great adventure together. We moved to Oslo in 1996 after having met in London in 1995. We both got jobs, Tanja at a property developer office and Ørjan eventually landed a job as a travel consultant in the hippest of youth and student travel agencies, Kilroy Travels. It was at the height of the youth and student travel craze, before internet took over, you had to go to a travel agency to book your tickets. And thousands got their first taste of the big wide world via Kilroy Travels.
We are not sure exactly what prompted our first around the world trip. The short explanation was that Ørjan was quite good at selling air fares, bus passes and adventure treks without having been to any of the places he was talking so enthusiastically about at the travel office. We think that this trip was suggested as a kind of study trip to some of the more popular destinations on the around the world circuit. As far as we can remember the airfare for Ørjan was sponsored by Kilroy Travels, and along the way there were free bus passes, some hotels and other useful things. In return Ørjan signed an agreement to work for at least 1 year after returning, schedule weekly calls to an Oslo radio station and make a presentation of photos and stories that could be shown at travellers’ evenings in the different Kilroy offices around Norway. No problem!
We borrowed money from the bank (30 000,- NOK) to finance the rest of our expected expenses, maybe not the soundest financial advice to pass on but for us it made sense then and it enabled us to do this adventure on relative short notice. Tanja got a leave of absence from her work for 3 months, and Ørjan the same, our flat was short time leased to a friend of a friend. Our budget was tight, no doubt about that. It was classic backpacking, with actual backpacks, our home was carried with us on our backs. No hotels, just dorm rooms and cheap accommodation. And we must mention the travel bible, pre internet, the mighty Lonely Planet! The best source of information to be had for all intrepid travellers in the 90s. We had all the books for all the regions we were going to visit, vaccines were taken, visas applied for, and plans were made for our first big travel adventure.
We booked plane tickets to go from Oslo to Bangkok, planned to travel overland down to Singapore and then fly to Bali. From Bali to Darwin in Australia, Oz Experience bus pass to Alice Springs, fly to Cairns and Oz Experience buss pass down the coast to Sydney. Fly to New Zealand and do Kiwi Experience bus passes on the South and North Island before heading to Tonga and Fiji in the Pacific Ocean. Time did not permit more exploration of the western parts of USA, so we booked from Fiji via a long stopover at LAX in Los Angeles back to Oslo.
We both wrote travel diaries, and we have never read them after our trip. We still can remember the good and some of the bad experiences along the way. Including forest fires, stomach amoeba, epic sunsets, the red centre, the great barrier reef, seeing kangaroos for the first time, the epicness of New Zealand and countless dorms with fellow backpackers.
We thought it would be a fun idea to find those diaries, and transcribe them verbatim, and see how our experience was, what two people see and feel differently while having the exact same vantage point to the world passing by. We are sure that many things we will not recall at all, and some things are etched in our communal memory bank. We also took plenty of slide’s pictures, this was before digital photo, so the only way to show pictures on a big screen was to photo positives and show them on a slide projector. All millennials, go ahead and google! Ørjan also called Radio Oslofjord once a week to talk about our trip and what it was like, we still have those tapes given to us after we came home.
This was our first time outside of Europe, and our first big trip together as a couple, we were both excited. We hope you will enjoy this little quarter of a century old school travel diary thing. We will for sure, and since this was written before we started to read and transcribe the diaries, we have some small butterflies of anticipation ourselves.
Even before we started our planned journey, we had some unforeseen trouble. At the time of our departure in the fall of 1997 there were some huge man-made forest fires in both Sumatra and Borneo that devastated large areas of rainforest, and the ensuing smoke cloud laid thick over large areas that we were supposed to cross from Bangkok to Singapore. We were recommended to avoid those areas due to high pollution levels. Read more about this catastrophe here.
We had to ditch our plans to go overland and rebook our tickets to go from Bangkok via Hong Kong and Singapore to Bali and stay longer here than what we had originally planned. We ended up staying for a short while in Bangkok, staying in Bali, Lombok and the Gilli Islands of Indonesia. Going overland from Darwin to Alice Springs and Australias red centre. From Cairns we visited the Daintree rainforest and took the OZ Experience bus all the way down the coast to Sydney via Magnetic Island, Whitsunday Islands, Frasier Island and Byron Bay. In New Zealand we travelled both the North and South Island with Kiwi Experience. Having an awesome time Blackwater rafting in Waitomo. From New Zealand we travelled to the Pacific islands of Tonga and Fiji, and from there back to Norway via Los Angeles.
We had great fun digitizing old photos we had not seen for years and years, and not least reading an transcribing our own diaries and comparing what we had written about experiencing the same things in different ways. It is easy to see that Ørjan is a man, and on a trip to gather information, a bit more cold facts and costs for different services and quality of accomodations and transport. Tanja shows more emotions and gives more depth to our experiences, the good and the bad.
We will put in some comments along the way, just to clarify and maybe explain some of the entries done along the way but this is non edited and non censored straight from our diaries written in 1997. The images have varying quality, some of the negatives had deteriorated through the years but we hope the photos that made it will give a good impression of our journey.
Part 1, “Jetlagged in Bangkok” will be published soon!