• USA

    Posted on September 29th, 2011

    Written by

    The Mission…

    The Mission…

    Swinedate: September 29, 2011.

    Location: Unknown. Possibly wrapped in a T-shirt.

    The Mission: Reviving this blog – because someone’s got to do it!


    The tools at hand are few, but many a Swine have succeeded where mankind have failed before. Hooves beat scissors beat bag, y’know.  Very soon, I will journey to the city of New York, in America, where I will blog more. Stay tuned.


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  • Don’t Cry Over Cut Ikat

    Don’t Cry Over Cut Ikat

    Posted today on my other project, Daily Beeswax, we’re flashing back to the lovely location of our first Ikat purchase:

    That place looks fake, right?

    Well, fake it is not. It’s a village on the Indonesian island of Flores. We were there in late August 2009, four months into our recent round the world tour. M brought us there to climb an extinct volcano. I appeased him by huffing and puffing my way up and down Inirie, not an easy task – believe me. In exchange, we spent our recuperation day hopping around villages like the one you see above, shopping for ikat. This was the first of many little Indonesian villages we bought ikat from. In retrospect, it was by far the most memorable.

    This is how ikat is sold in this part of the world. The red piece hanging second from the left was my ultimate choice but looking at the lovely work hanging there, I wonder why I didn’t buy it all.

    Nineteen months later, I hold this beautiful hand-woven Indonesian Ikat in my hand in San Francisco. It has traveled across the world, shipped thousands of miles from those cute Indonesian smiles, the picturesque village and that kickass volcano. It’s been living in our lockers, waiting to be put to some use. Looking back at these photos, I kick myself that it’s been living in obscurity for so long. It deserves to be apart of our daily life.

    After much deliberation, I’ve decided to make four pillows from it for the couch in our salon. It will hurt my heart to cut it up, but I can’t find another use of this lovely cloth. So cut I must.

    This weekend’s project: turn our memory of Flores, Indonesia into tactile home decor (and try not to get too weepy when cutting the ikat).

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  • Yogi Singh Revisited

    Yogi Singh Revisited

    It wasn’t until mid-trip that we actually began to see comments in the comments field of our articles (outside of family members gushing over our happy little distractions). Typically, we would get little heads-ups from other travelers and bloggers, commenting on this or that.

    One post totally broke that mold – to today’s date it is the most viewed and commented post on this site. No, it isn’t an article we wrote for CNN Asia’s lifestyle page. Nope, not the ‘a day in London’ thing that spent 24 hours on the front page of It is a post about something that apparently has touched a lot of people, people who have then gone on to search out similar experiences on the net: an encounter with a fortune teller.

    Apparently there exists world-wide, traveling band of fortune tellers, all of them Sikh (or claiming to be), all of them going by the nom-du-guerre of ‘Yogi Singh’ (Teacher Lion), each and all using the same mode of operations on a world-wide scale. I’ve met two of them – one in Mcleod Ganj and one in Delhi’s Connaught Place. They wore identical outfits and they approached me in the same manner. Other travelers have reported the same encounters, all over the world.

    Typically, they will approach you by saying something like ‘You have a lucky face!’ or ‘This day is your lucky day!’ and give you a sunny smile and a compliment. They will then offer to tell your fortune for a very modest price.

    Your incarnation of Yogi Singh will then sit down with you and write down a few notes on a paper that you can’t see. He will then go on to show his ‘powers’ by asking you a few questions: “what are your favorite flowers” and “name a number between one and five” appear to be the most popular ones.

    The Oracle Himself (or one of him)

    Did you pick roses as your flower? The number three? Apparently most people do. I know I did. The fortune teller will then show you a note that says ‘roses’ and the number three. Now, one could argue that he could have a ton of notes stashed in his pockets, each with flower names and numbers, but I’m not here to pass judgment on the efficacy of the Yogi Singh’s of the world. I’m just saying.

    After this dazzling show, the fortune teller will ask you to write down a few other things, like the name of a woman that hurt you, an ex girlfriend, or any fact that he possibly can’t know about beforehand. You are told to roll the note up into a little ball and to hang on to it. The fortune teller will then do some mumbo jumbo, like have you count people on an old picture (“these are my masters at the special college. How many people do you see on the picture”). This is where I guess a deft stage magician could do something to switch out the notes and read them, but again – not passing judgment. Just sayin’.

    To your amazement, Yogi Singh will then write down exactly what you had written in your crumpled up note, and you will very likely feel amazed beyond belief. He will also tell you a few other things, such as your life expectancy, about a curse that lies upon you and of some bad habits that have kept you from your ultimate success. This is when the pitch comes in: for a lot of money, this bona fide master of mysteries can pray for your fortune, 22 days in a row (sacrificing perfume, soap, incense and spices). His prayers would alter destiny, and success for life would presumably be mine. I think I remember him wanting 600 US dollars for this privilege. I politely declined, opting instead to donate a much more modest sum in exchange for a couple of talismans. I think I gave him three bucks for the trinkets and three for the show. It really was quite impressive. We parted as friends, and I spent days thinking about the interchange. How did he know my ex girlfriends name? Did he switch out the notes? Did he have a partner reading over my back somehow?

    Whatever you think or feel about it – if you’re a victim of their exorbitant prices, or if you’re just casually stumbling upon this post – isn’t it pretty extraordinary that this brotherhood of fortune tellers exist? A secret society that follow their own rules and mysteries, traveling the globe while telling people about their supposed fates? I love it. It’s the stuff of legends, and would write a book about them if I had time. Should you be approached by one, don’t hesitate to sit down and have your fortunes told.

    Just don’t give them six hundred bucks and the keys to your car.

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  • One Year Later

    One Year Later

    Today is a good day to remember some of the cool things we did during our trip. Exactly one year ago, we were on our way back from Nagarkot, Nepal. We were pretty roundly hung over, thanks to the scrumptious and thoroughly wet feast our landlord had thrown the night before. All we wanted to do was to get back to our Lazimpat apartment ASAP – a prospect somewhat hindered by the fact that Maoist ex-insurgents had decided to blockade the Kathmandu Valley. The solution was to hang big signs saying ‘TOURIST BUS’ on our vehicles, park our western-looking selves in the front seats and hope that the Maoists were still letting foreigners through. Trying not to look silly by barfing on ourselves was also a priority.

    This new year’s celebration is way different. Of course. We live in Mariposa, still figuring out our lives. We are moving towards a more structured life, slowly. What I do think though, and this is perhaps the greatest lesson of our trip — is that we still live our lives the way we did on that day in Nepal. Anything is possible, if we just put your minds to it.

    And that’s all the ranting we had for you today. If you’ve missed it, Jaime’s running her own show over at the, while I’m trying to write a book.

    Oh and the Maoists did let us back home that day. All it took was bribing a ragtag bunch of 12-year old road-blocking insurgents (at a cost of 3 USD). Good times.

    "Anything is possible, Dude!"

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  • California

    Posted on November 27th, 2010

    Written by

    Giving Thanks for Food

    Giving Thanks for Food

    I’ve started a new side project (btw: this is Jaime). It’s my Daily Beeswax. Check it out…or read my latest post, then check it out:

    I’m going out on a limb to call Thanksgiving what it is: a foodie holiday. Sure, it’s a time to remember why you’re thankful. Yes, it’s a nice break from the work-a-day grind and OK, seeing family is pretty great. But let’s call a spade a spade. Thanksgiving is just a big excuse to eat good food.

    It’s actually not unlike the original reason for the gathering. Following their first successful corn harvest, the Plymouth colonists grabbed their helpful Native American friends and had a feast – for three days (according to So when you think about it, what we’re all reenacting each November 25th is what all good foodies strive for: the most famous dinner party ever thrown.

    It is the unapologetic celebration of food that most appeals to me about this holiday. Stop at any grocery store on November 24th and you’ll find it overflowing with shoppers. People all across the country come together to cook and share a meal that (for most people) have taken an entire day to prepare. In the age of microwavable dinners, meal replacement shakes and fast food, surely we should be thankful that people care to take a full day to cook a meal.

    With that in mind, and in the name of all things slow-food, Martin and I cooked a full-blown meal even though it was just the two of us celebrating. This year’s menu was dubbed American-Swede with a dash of Italian:


    Ramos Fizz (on an empty stomach, as every first-drink-of-the-day should be taken)


    Smoked Salmon with Swedish Crackers (Rokt Lax pa Knackebrod)

    Wine: Hook & Ladder Gewurztraminer 2008


    Caramelized Onions (Cipolline Agrodolce)

    Char-grilled Vegetable Salad

    Swedish Meatballs (Svenska Kottbullar)

    Lingonsylt (Swedish berry preserve that taste like cranberries)

    Stuffed Cornish Game Hens

    Hawaiian Sweet Bread

    Wine: Alexander Valley Sangiovese 2006


    Classic Homemade Pumpkin Pie with Basil Cream

    All in all, the meal was a total success. We ate until we rolled off our seats, we drank until we felt sober and we did the dishes before we felt sober – the perfect combo. The night was topped off with a little dancing in the living room to Mom’s old Kenny Loggins’ vinyl and a ridiculous photo shoot – because really, what do you do at 10pm when you live in the country and have no television?

    My hope is that all of your Thanksgivings were full of amazing food and people you love – because, really, it’s what the holiday all about.

    That and the mystery that is drinking until you feel sober.

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  • How Studying Abroad Allowed me to See the World

    How Studying Abroad Allowed me to See the World

    I didn’t always love to travel. Actually, in the grand scheme of things, I’ve loved it for a just a short time. I would be downright mad as a kid when my parents packed us into their van for weekend adventures. It meant missing my Saturday morning cartoons, a GROSSLY unfair thing to do in my mind. I didn’t like going away for summer camp. In fact, I made it just two days at tennis camp before calling my parents in tears, asking to be picked up. I moved away for college, but just a three hour drive away – just far enough but not too far.

    It’s not that I wasn’t curious about other places. I have memories as a child of standing in my parents garage, staring at a world map that hung there. Splayed across the pastel-colored continents were little red pins, marking my father’s travels. What would it be like to be in those far off places, I wondered, but just as quickly I would turn and run to our backyard to play. Why would I need to travel when all the joy and happiness I knew was found right there at home?

    It’s that sort of mentality, combined with a fair deal of shyness, that kept me close to home for most of my life. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I have a very different philosophy about travel today. So what gives? What happened between the Saturday morning, cartoon missing tantrums and taking a year off to travel the world?

    A rash decision made my final year of college.

    Checking out what I looked like as a study abroad student 11 years ago

    Driven by a foolish desire to impress a worldly boy, I signed up to study abroad for a year. Sadly, the boy remained unimpressed but it was a decision that changed my life.

    As a lifelong lover of old masters (that’s art-speak for guys that painted a long, long time ago), I chose to study in the ground zero of Renaissance Art: Florence, Italy. I shared an apartment with seven – that’s right – seven other girls, just five minutes from the Duomo, Florence’s central cathedral. The location was unreal, the roommates were amazing and the wine flowed like $2 magnum bottles should. Wine aside (sort of), the experience was a once in a lifetime slap in the face. Finally I understood what all the travel hype was about.

    I came home alive, buzzing with the love of travel, thirsty for more. It took that initial step out the door – to Italy, in my case – to see what traveling is about. It’s not just a pin on a wall map (though you can be sure I’m going to have one of those in my future garage). It’s a glimpse of what else is out there: the amazing people, the awful people, the delicious food, the crazy there’s-no-way food stuffs, the foreign culture that feels just like home and the culture that opens your eyes.

    Sharing the study abroad experience with me were seven amazing women – who ten years after our tear-filled good-byes, I was able to meet up with again recently in New York. Many of them are married. Some have children. All of them are just as great as I remembered them. Ladies, if it wasn’t for our time together 11 years ago, I wouldn’t have had the courage to see the world.

    Thank you.

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  • Volcano Eruption in Indonesia!

    Volcano Eruption in Indonesia!

    Just over a year ago we were sitting on the summit of Gunung Sinabung – a docile, extinct volcano in northern Sumatra. It took us three hours to climb from base to summit – not the hardest volcano we’ve climbed, but well worth the work.


    Shrouded in mist we celebrated summiting with a photo session and lunch.


    Lunch was followed by a short tour of the summit’s two craters. Though we’d opted out, many of the westerners who’d been there had written their names in rock on the crater floor. I’m usually up for a challenge, but I guess it just didn’t feel right. I don’t know – something about being near a volcano crater is a bit unnerving. Being next to it, yes fine, but in the crater? Not my thing.


    I write this post because we just received word that Gunung Sinabung, the (theoretically docile and extinct) volcano is now erupting. Local residents are being evacuated, though it’s still too early to tell what is going on.

    Photo: Jakarta post: Antara/Irsan Mulyadi

    For now, our hearts go out to the people affected by the eruption. May life return to normal as soon as possible.

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  • My Dumb Little Protest

    My Dumb Little Protest

    If you’d seen me just one minute ago, you would have caught me in a rather telling position. With one hand covering my eyes and one on my keyboard, I was scrolling through our website, peeking through my fingers at our recent posts. How many days have passed since I’ve last made an appearance? My embarrassing results: I posted something in early August and before then it was early July.


    Such utter lack of attention to our beloved website begs the question: why have I abandoned writing for this project? My simple answer is also a confession. Not posting anything is my one and only form of protest. We’re not traveling anymore and god dammit I’m bummed about it. There, I said it. Not writing was really all I had to use as a protest. I’m an adult so tantrums were out. I’m a relatively responsible person, so running back into the world with our little re-entry savings is out of the question, too. All that was left to do is go on with life. But I could stop writing for our travel blog! Yes, that’s the ticket. I’ll stop writing and that will make me feel better.

    My return to these pages shows you how great a solution that was. The reality is this: I miss travel blogging. I miss the community of fellow travel bloggers. I miss our readers and their comments. Writing for this site was an important part of our life for over a year so why would stopping it suddenly make me feel better? It wouldn’t – it doesn’t – plain as that.

    Sweating it out in Jaipur, India

    No, I’m no longer struggling in an Indian internet café in 110 degree heat with 1,000% humidity, being swarmed by mosquitoes to get a few line post up. We’re not dealing with that caliber of travel, but the adventure hasn’t necessarily ended. We’re currently living in a trailer in a retirement-age mobile home park (seen in the photo above) an hour outside Yosemite National Park. We have most of next month booked for road trips. I’m working on an independent website project (more to come on that later…) No – I’d say the adventure is far from over.

    Consider this post my cure. I’ve stopped my silly no-writing-protest.  In its place are plans for future blog posts here at SeatOfOurPants, updates on our twitter account and the occasional tantrum that (fortunately for you all) only Martin will have to deal with.

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  • Guns ‘n Ammo

    Guns ‘n Ammo

    Growing up in Europe, we had all these ideas about America. You know the usual stereotypes: burgers, cowboy hats, endless opportunities and extreme violence fed by a complete lack of gun regulation. This last bit about the violence was no doubt fed by the hours and hours we’d spent watching cop shows such as Kojak, Hill Street Blues and Hunter.

    Living in Europe, I never really questioned these misconceptions – not out of ignorance (or arrogance), but rather because I never got around to doing it. Now, living here, I often find myself chuckling at how we used to see this country, and at how people back home still probably see it.

    So, back to the guns. Here’s how it’s dealt with here: guns are around, so you might as well enjoy them.

    Hence, we took Mom in law to the trap range the other day. We blasted away at clay pigeons and had an outrageous amount of fun.

    Guns at their best. Truly.

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  • A Sure Sign

    A Sure Sign


    If buying two Iphones isn’t a sign of us being back in the 21st century, I don’t know what is. The other day, Jaime flew up to San Francisco for a bit of business and came back with not one, but two of these bad boys. Needless to say we’ve had our noses pointed into our phones for a couple of days, and I’m just barely beginning to feel that the app feeding frenzy is over. Are 30 apps enough? Am I missing that one vital app that could really change our lives?

    Having problems like these is another sign that we’re no longer on the road. This will not remain the case for much longer though – in a couple of days we’ll be making a move again. This time, we’ll exchange sunny Southern California for Mariposa: an old gold mining town nested in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

    So, stay tuned for some mountain adventures: hikes, climbs and possibly a Mariposa beer review.

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  • Trouble in Ladakh

    Trouble in Ladakh

    It’s been almost a year since we visited Ladakh. Now, news out of Leh is that flash floods have killed hundreds of people in the region. Both locals and foreigners remain unaccounted for, and the whole area is cut off from the rest of the world.

    Normally it never rains in Ladakh. As the above picture shows, the architecture and layout of the towns are simply not made to deal with precipitation. The massive rainfalls devastated the mud-brick houses, washing many of them away.


    We can’t help but think and worry about the people we met there, the friends we made and the places we visited. It’s such a remote and beautiful corner of the world, and its vanishing lifestyle is so fragile and precious that a disaster like this is very likely to send the whole place reeling.

    Get well soon, Ladakh. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

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  • Washington DC

    Posted on August 3rd, 2010

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    A Personal Connection to the Smithsonian

    A Personal Connection to the Smithsonian
    Once upon a time my Dad raced airplanes. Yes, you read the right. There is such things as racing airplanes. For those of you who haven’t been to a race, it’s sort of like NASCAR – a fast race ran around a track. But that’s where the similarities end. The machines racing are airplanes, so the race obviously takes place in the air. A second and more important difference is speed. Air racing is the fastest competitive racing out there, with speeds topping 500 mph.
    Before his ‘moss’ (his affectionate name for his children) came along, my Dad was into racing aircraft. Really into racing them. But not just any aircraft – only highly modified WWII planes would do. By chopping off a good chunk of wing, adding a bunch of horsepower and fabricating a canopy just about the size of his head, he created a number of devilishly fast, winning aircraft. In fact, the planes he modified were so cool one of them sits proudly in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.

    My Dad's old race plane

    Martin and I dropped by the Smithsonian when we were in DC a few months ago to check it out. We brought along my friend Danette and her cute-as-a-button son Blake. Following a potentially awkward misunderstanding about just who was showing up that day (it was just plain ol’ me and not my Dad, as the curator was lead to believe), we toured the exhibits with a real sense of awe. There are some seriously cool planes there. Does the Spirit of St. Louis, Enola Gay, the Concord and the Wright Flyer ring a bell? Yeah, they’re all there. All packed into a huge, beautiful building and all sharing a place on the floor with my Dad’s race plane. How seriously cool.
    Check out the little video we shot that day below.


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  • SOOPics

    Posted on August 3rd, 2010

    Written by

    SOOPICs: Two for One!

    SOOPICs: Two for One!
    We found the above game at a San Diego yard sale. In retrospect I’m shocked I didn’t buy it – after all, who wouldn’t want to play a game of shame? (Note that the phrase ‘The game that WILL make you laugh’ belongs to another board game and is probably copyrighted by Walt Disney).
    We’re also trying to find something witty to say about the name on this laundry receipt. How about “My wife, Mrs Negstrom, has been a bit negative lately”. Nah that’s lame. Suggestions welcome!
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  • USA

    Posted on July 6th, 2010

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    The World Cup from Over Here

    The World Cup from Over Here

    I’ve had the privilege of watching the World Cup from a number of different locations. The most memorable one was in a backpacker hostel in Broome, Australia. The place was packed with people from all over the world, and a whole bunch of us decided that it would be a good idea to hole up for a month and watch as many games as we could stomach. Eight years later, I’m still in touch with several of those guys. That’s the power of idle sports watching for ya.

    Curious cop catches a bit of the action in NYC


    For this cup, we’ve found ourselves touring across the US, staying with friends and squeezing in a game here and there. We were at a sports bar on Manhattan when the home team played England to a draw. We watched Germany cut Australia to shreds together with a Hoboken, NJ family. With sadness, we watched Mexico get outgunned by Argentina at a Mexican restaurant in San Diego’s Old Town.

    How does watching the cup in America stack up against other places? Well, the average sports fan in the US is generally more interested and knowledgeable than I would have guessed. Sometimes, you get the odd cheer for something that’s not traditionally cheerable (an offside by the opposing team, or a nice throw by the goaltender), but that’s just charming. People are interested in the game, they like to criticize tactics and applaud great efforts.

    This is a contrast to many other places – in some locations Football has been the one true source of entertainment for generations – like the other day at the Mexican cantina. People were so fired up that they roared with nervous excitement every time their team took ball possession. It’d be tempting to chalk that up to their passionate Latin heritage, but no. I’ve seen similar behavior in Sweden and Germany.

    Looking forward to 2014


    As for the rest of the cup, well, my team didn’t even make it, and Jaime’s has been eliminated for a week now. Still, the World Cup is just fantastic entertainment. We can’t wait to see the last games. It will be four long years before it comes along again.

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  • Myanmar (Burma) The Big Burma Post [LONG]

    The time has come to sum up our month in ...

  • Nepal Nepali Newspaper Finds

    Our flight from Kathmandu to Bangkok was delayed for three ...

  • Notes From the Road Eight Destinations that Make Us Dreamy-eyed

      We may not be on the road at the moment, ...

  • Sweden Photo Gallery: Stockholm by Ferry

    We wrote a little tip about exploring Stockholm by ferry ...

  • Thailand SeatOfOurPants Thailand Roundup

    Most people come to Thailand for the amazing beaches. While ...

  • Turkey Hagia Sofia

     There are very few buildings and architectural monuments that manage ...

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