Indonesia

Mahi Mahi BBQ in Double Bay, Sydney
Having the chance to visit Australia, I made sure to meet up with a couple of friends there: Paul (first met him in Bukit Lawang’s jungle, watched wild Orang-utans together, and made our way out to paved grounds), Charlotta (a colleague from uni, been studying and partying together in Linköping) and Emelie (met her once at Pablo’s place, and listened to her fascinating year driving, literally, around Australia).

My cousin André (who’s been living in Australia the last year) happened to be more than a thousand kilometres north of my destinations, thus we will catch up back in Sweden instead. And last but not least, my friend and colleague Olov (see last post for picture), who is also part of the graduate progamme that brought us ten time zones from Sweden.

Really nice to meet up with all of you guys!

Picture of Emelie and Byron preparing for a lovely BBQ dinner in their garden, in Double Bay, Sydney.

Remote friends

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Saab APAC Trainees - Erik Winther 2014
Realized that I haven’t posted this picture earlier. I shot this photo in my Bangkok apartment in January, when Frida’s and my adventurous vacation in Thailand and Laos was coming to an end.

So we made our way back to Bangkok, where three of my trainee colleagues had just flown in from Sweden. From left: Johanna (based in Kuala Lumpur during her months abroad), I, Angelica (Bangkok), Cathrine (Jakarta) and my travel companion Frida (Linköping).

Colleagues in Asia

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Sumatran fisherman smiling - Erik Winther 2011
Thailand greets you with a great smile when you arrive, when you leave, when you help and when you misbehave. Thai people smile when they get tip and when they trick you, and when you bust them for it.

In Sweden, the last example would be considered very offensive and some people would loose their temper because of such obvious disrespect. But in Thailand, just as most countries in this region, such smile is the best way for both parties to jointly agree on what happened, that it was wrong, and a way for the busted person to show regret.

However hard and uncomfortable it feels, do yourself and the other party the favour to remind yourself of this next time you find yourself in such situation – regardless if the smile is yours or not!

The happy fisherman in the picture lives in Indonesia, on the south coast of the vivid island in the middle of lake Toba in Sumatra. I met him there during Kyung Hee University’s winter vacation 2011/2012.

Smile through life

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Scooter in Hua Hin - Erik Winther 2014
With the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) that makes the ASEAN countries consider themselves as one single market by 2015 and Thailand being the prevailing car manufacturer; with Thailand’s ‘first time [car] buyer’-promotion for its people; with the recent termination of Australia’s automotive industry; with low labour costs; and lastly with the fact that Thailand still demand 100% import tax on all vehicles manufactured abroad; there is no doubt why all car manufacturers set up production lines in Thailand, each of them with huge capacity. By 2017, the research company HIS expects ASEAN’s annual demand exceed 3.3 million cars.

Yet despite the collision safety arguments and the possibility to turn on the air conditioning when queuing, status is the only reason for the Thai (and ASEAN) people to replace their numerous, reliable two-wheelers. I mean, few things makes one feel as free as jumping on top of one’s bike and leaving the car queues behind on the way to the beach.

Picture of the 125cc-scooter I rented during a weekend trip to Hua Hin; the capital of retired Swedish seniors.

The Automotive Industry

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The picture was shot last January when I just had reached the top of my second mountain in Asia and realized that the visibility was as good as on the first: 5 meters. Behind the fog in the photo you can see the sun rise over the active volcano Bromo on Java, Indonesia; a sight I had travelled 30h straight in an insane tempo to admire, and the 4°C fog that soaked me on the motorbike ride thereto made the feeling last longer…

Kind of the same thing, just opposite, happened today: the travel agency offered us to stay in Masai Mara an extra day with all expenses covered for $60. Now I feel sorry for myself ;)

Oh no ;)

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Just received a call from number 501. Answered sceptically since it is midnight. Heard Johan & John in the other end! A happy surprise from my friends in Stockholm :)

An hour earlier I got a confirmation from Ali (entrepreneur in NYC) that he is well and happened to be in Miami during the storm; good! Too bad everyone wasn’t as lucky; inside US and outside.

Picture showing one of Indonesia’s volcanoes with me and a local travel-mate in eastern Java.

Hello?…!

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An early question that had to be addressed was where we were going to call ‘home’ this semester. The decision wasn’t obvious, considering we have our university and supervisor in Linköping, Swedfund’s central office in Stockholm, our opponents in Geneva and most interview subjects spread out all over Africa.

The solution we chose was to stay in Linköping during the pre-study and the finalization of the report, in-between which we conduct six weeks of field studies in the three most interesting regions; Nairobi in Kenya, Kigali in Rwanda and Accra in Ghana.

The tickets just got booked, and since we are flying with KLM is the transit in Amsterdam enabling me to stop by and say hello to my good-old friend Lisa. Nice!

Picture of the volcano Sundoro-Sumbing, shot from the 9th-century monument of Borobudur, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Location

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KHU main gate at full moon
So, the time has come. After waiving off all the exchange students, one at the time, am I now waiving bye to Korea myself.

This has been a truly amazing year and I am filled with gratefulness to all of you who have shared those experiences with me. The biggest and most important gift of being here is obviously the wealth of perspectives, and the friendships themselves, by spending time with amazing people from allover the world.

A deep, humble and happy thank you to my new friends from
Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ghana, Guatemala, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Rwanda, Sweden, Tunisia, UK, USA, Vietnam…and of course everyone from Korea.

You will always have a place in my heart.

Goodbye

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Outdoor is the weather like any awesome Swedish summer day; 27 degrees and clear blue sky. Having dad here was great, and in just a few days will some friends that I stayed with in Singapore come to Seoul. Sounds great doesn’t it? There is just one problem; their 4 month long summer vacation, has already started while I am still studying for a midterm exam.
Hence, these days are spent indoor – struggling to keep sharp in mind and the focus on how to best implement kernel density gradient estimations, the pros and cons with the generalized Hough transform and how to describe those hidden virtual layers in artificial neural networks.
Now, don’t get me wrong; it is interesting, just not exciting enough to make me feel “Yay!”…

Stay focused

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After yesterday’s two exams am I excited to meet up dad on the airport now! He has been on a business trip in Khabarovsk, east Russia, and scheduled the trip back to Sweden via Seoul. Looking forward to spend the weekend with him :)

Detour

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