Category Archives: Sweden

[Hair – Not the Musical] + [Ping Pong]

When I left Thailand for my trip to Burma, I decided it would be fun to find out what would happen if I didn’t shave the entire time. I stopped shaving about ten days before leaving Thailand, and only cleaned up my act on February 27th, the day after landing in Sweden.

Rock Your Hair

Just for fun, you can see what I looked like on February 26th in London, on the 27th partway through cutting my own hair, and several hours later when I had spent enough time making my flatmates laugh and finished the job:

I lived in this apartment in the Luthagens area of Uppsala for several months in 2008, and only found out during my second stay there in the fall of 2008 that there was a ping pong table in a common room elsewhere in the building. At that time, when I went with my flatmate Olov to play, we found they had converted the ping pong room into some kind of chapel.

Luckily, they changed it back to a ping pong room by the time I returned at the end of February, 2009. During my short (one month) stay this time, I made good use of the table.

One of my flatmates, Olov:


Olov’s friend, Martin:

My friend Namiko, who studied with me in New Zealand and came to visit for a few days:

My friend Opiyo, who studied with me in Uppsala a year before, visited me for a few hours after returning from a stint in Afghanistan:

I also took a few photos outside my apartment building, which I’ll post in a couple of days.

Burma to Bangkok to Kuwait to London to Uppsala, Sweden

On February 24th, after almost four weeks in Burma, it was time for me to leave. Having flown from Bagan to Yangon on the evening of the 23rd, I took a friend’s advice to stay at the Gardens Guesthouse in order to take some night photos of the Sule Paya roundabout:

In the morning, I flew to Bangkok and returned to my hostel of choice there, Soi 1 Guesthouse. I picked up my laptop and a bunch of clothes I had left with the owner, grabbed a nice shoewr, and in the afternoon I took off en route to London via Kuwait.

A snapshot of the dorm room in Soi 1 Guesthouse in Bangkok:

Because of the time difference, I landed in Kuwait on the afternoon of February 25th. Here’s a shot taken as we were coming in for landing:

I sat beside a really friendly Scottish girl who, incidentally, knows a couple I met in Mae Sot, Thailand months before. After a number of hours in the Kuwait airport chatting with the Scottish girl and watching the Japanese animated movie, “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,” on my laptop, I caught my onward flight to London.

After I arrived in London, I went for a coffee and some alone time, read a few of Checkhov’s short stories, then headed to my friend Aidan’s house. Aidan wasn’t home, but his flatmates immediately got me involved in a fun activity: filling his room with crumpled newspapers and phone book pages. We spent a fair bit of time doing it, and would have continued if we hadn’t run out of paper and run out of neighbours to ask for more paper. Aidan was slightly overwhelmed when he arrived home. Here he is, enjoying the new decor:

The next day I took a walk through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park:

I sat down on this bench to take a break and eat a sandwich, and after a while noticed the inscription in the wood:

After my long stroll, I walked over to the Museum of Natural History and spent an hour and a half checking out their interesting exhibits. I’ve never before been to a museum with a full dinosaur exhibit, so this place was kind of exciting for me! A few random photos from the museum:

This is the caption for the photo that follows:

That afternoon I headed back to Heathrow once again, boarded an SAS flight to Stockholm Arlanda airport, caught a train to Uppsala, missed my bus even though I was ready to board, standing looking at the driver through the door, walked half an hour on ice to my old apartment, brushed my teeth, and went to sleep.

Videography in Uppsala

Last week I got a vague request to participate in some sort of video project here in Uppsala, without really knowing what I was getting myself into.

The result? Well, you judge for yourself:

(Also viewable at: and

Autumn in Uppsala / Höst i Uppsala

“Höst” means “Autumn” in Swedish. While I’m far from fluent, my Swedish skills are definitely improving. I read the paper most days, though I understand only about 10% of what I’m reading unless I know the context beforehand. Today (the 18th) I spent 2 hours speaking only in Swedish with a friend who speaks very little English, and although it was very challenging, it was also quite fun and a terrific learning experience.

On October 6th, I woke up to a bright and sunny day, blue skies as far as I could see, and bright autumn leaves glowing in the sun. I ate my breakfast as quickly as I could, packed my camera into my backpack, and took off on my bike to take some photos around town and get some fresh air.

This is the front of Carolina Rediviva, the main library at Uppsala University and the oldest of the University’s buildings. It’s not particularly impressive in my opinion, but there’s something nice about it, sitting at the top of a hill overlooking central Uppsala.

Behind Carolina is Engelska Parken (The English Park) which is a small park with big trees, and a handful of buildings where we had most of our lectures last year. I often go there in the middle of the night (I have an after-hours entry pass) when no one is around, to be more productive than if I were to work from home. Looking West:

Right beside Engelska Parken is a neat cemetery with lots of old graves and some new ones too. This is the plot of the Hammarskjöld family. Dag Hammarskjöld was the Swedish second Secretary-General of the United Nations, who was killed in suspicious circumstances in a 1961 plane crash in what is now Zambia.

There’s quite a variety of tombstones in this cemetery:

Uppsala domkyrka (Cathedral of Uppsala) is one of the defining landmarks in the city. The two towers can be seen from kilometres away. It was built from the 13th to 15th centuries and is the largest cathedral in Scandinavia.

Near the cathedral, I’ve always liked walking through this tunnel – basically just a hole through a very old building (17th century I think – the year is on the building but I can’t remember off-hand; might be 1694).

On the other side of the tunnel, just before the river, is a restaurant with a very cool window:

The River Fyris runs through the centre of the city, and quite a long way outside the city as well:

It even goes under this building:

In Stora Torget (The Big Square), there are a few old buildings that I think are neat. Most of them are banks now:

A couple blocks away, the river is lined with big trees and neat buildings:

Uppsala is very much a cyclist city. Everyone has a bike, and almost everyone uses it. There are very good cycle paths in most parts of the city, separated from traffic for extra safety, and on roads the drivers tend to be fairly good about cyclists.

Crossing the river is the bus I used to take, on days/nights when I had to take the bus, to my old apartment 7km outside town in Sunnersta:

I decided it would be nice to cycle a little bit further, to a park just at the perimeter of the city centre, and then I decided I’d go just a little further. I ended up cycling all the way to Sunnersta along the river, as I used to do almost every day last year, when the river path wasn’t covered in snow and ice (then I would cycle along the road with my metal-spiked winter tires).

Cycling along the river path. The river is about 2-3 metres to the left of the row of trees.

The path goes past SLU at a certain point, and they have a little grassy area and football pitch. I never understood this thing though; it’s a big hole in the ground, at which five paths converge, filled with strange-coloured water. It seems to me like a wrongful death lawsuit just waiting to happen:

Lastly, cycling back to town along the road (Dag Hammarskjöldsväg), is one of the few remaining reminders of the Great 1972 Tremor – an earthquake that shook Uppsala so badly that some buildings, in the lowlying farmlands surrounding the city, simply sank. For many farmers, it was too expensive to dig them out and try to salvage the materials, so they simply shored up the dirt around the newly-lowered buildings and kept on farming.