Book Recommendation: Dark Lands

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If you are like me and thoroughly enjoy traveling off the beaten path, and is interested in the ‘dark corners’ of the world with their rich and complicated history, then you should definitely read Tony Wheeler’s book called ‘Dark Lands’!

In the book you follow his journey through Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Israel, Palestine, Nauru, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Zimbabwe. All countries have their troubles, Tony Wheeler explores these particular countries and how they have landed themselves in the mess they are currently in.

For me this book is very interesting as I am very fascinated by a number of countries people do not usually see as a suitable travel destination. I’m just so curious about how everyday life is in places where a Norwegian girl like me cannot really imagine one. Take Palestine for example, which Tony Wheeler has dedicated a whole chapter in the book to, I travelled there myself exactly because it was so different, scary and fascinating. Of course my reason for traveling there was also because I am very passionate about the Palestinians people’s struggles. Anyhow, it was so funny to read about some of the authors’ experiences, which were quite similar to mine. There was for example an incident in which some children threw stones at him, in a case of mistaken identity – which also happened to me, only with a butter knife instead of a stone, and the culprit being probably around 4 years old and standing on the top of a roof. This is something that must seem very strange and peculiar to most people, but I laughed while reading it as it was just so recognizable. The children in the refugee camps are not always so welcoming towards outsiders, as they are living in such a polarized and oppressive situation – and they can sometimes mistake you for a settler.

The other chapters on the different countries were also very engaging. For example, I did not know anything about Nauru before reading this book, and I was absolutely perplexed at their history and current state. Did you know they used to have one of the highest standards of living in the world? And that now there is a 90% unemployment rate there? I mean how is it even possible. The story of Nauru’s rise and fall is really an intriguing and absolutely absurd story!

Bottom line, I really enjoyed this book! If you have some of the same fascinations as me, chances are you will too!

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US West Coast Roadtrip!

My best friend Caroline and I met up in LA, hired a car, and drove around visiting amazing places in California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah! Here’s a little travel montage with highlights from our trip!

The Old Family Cabin!

​No electricity, no water and no road in. That about sums this place up in terms of convenience. It’s a proper Norwegian cabin. Up here, in the mountains surrounding my home town of Rjukan, life is simple. Well, simple in some ways and other ways not so much – there’s a great deal of work that comes with it. 

Today has consisted of boating over the lake, carrying backpacks, groceries and a -heavy- battery up a steep hill, making a makeshift refrigerator, fixing our solar panel by installing the new battery and cooking dinner on our gas stove. Puhhh. 

In other words it’s been a great day! 

​​Smiiile! Our husky found an old animal bone to gnaw on. Pretty much made her day!
My sister enjoying some red wine after we were done with carrying everything up.
Our makeshift refrigerator, because our top priority is of course that the beer keeps cold!
My grandfather and his brother built this cabin with their own hands. First they had to cut down all the timber they needed, then float it down the lake and flat out the area with picks. Only then they could actually start building. 

Love this place. ❤️

Guro Engell xx 

A Little Trip To Middle-Earth! (UK Roadtrip)

Introducing Puzzlewood Forest!

The place where Kylo Ren and Rey had their epic lightsaber fight at the end of Star Wars – The Force Awakens. The place where Doctor Who encounters the Weeping Angels, the crack in the wall and River Song all at once. The place that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien’s descriptions of Middle-Earth in The Lord of the Rings.

And that’s not even all – I could also namedrop the TV Show Merlin, for instance. But I think the forest speaks for itself, it’s truly magical.

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Here’s the vlog I made from that day!

Exploring a Ruin Castle (UK Roadtrip)

Day 4 of me and my friend Caroline’s UK Roadtrip was spent in Wales, with a brief 5 minute pop over to England (we drove over the wrong bridge while looking for parking in the town of Chepstow).

The itinerary for the day included an abandoned castle from the 11th Century and the enchanted forest that inspired J.R.R Tolkien when he wrote about Middle-earth in The Lord Of The Rings! (I’ve written a post about the enchanted forest here!).

Chepstow Castle

Or in Welsh: Castell Cas-gwen, is a Norman Castle built by the river Wye. The castle was built by the Norman Lord William fitzOsbern, so even as we were sightseeing around Great Britain we unconsciously sought out Norwegian history, as the true northerners we like to think we are!

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As you can see we found a princessy photo-op, and we both had to have a turn at playing a princess waiting for her prince to come!

The place was so beautiful in a dark and dramatic way. We visited during working hours in the middle of the week, so we had the entire (gigantic) place for ourselves – except for one elderly couple.

We kept losing track of each other, though. We both have a tendency to wander off whenever something catches our eyes! Haha, we were walking around all mesmerized, and only when we snapped out of it we discovered neither of us had a clue where the other was. As you can clearly see in my vlog from our little castle-visit! Subtitles added.

All in all, Chepstow Castle was a beautifully conserved castle. We spent hours there, and I would visit again!