An Around the World Travel Journal
by Bill Sundstrom

February - June 2003
    From Minnesota to California to New Zealand
        to Australia to Thailand to India to Europe
            and Then Back to Minnesota

   Date    Subject    Date    Subject
18-Feb-03   California 01-May-03   Wat Pho
21-Feb-03   Saturday in Auckland 05-May-03   To the Beach in Pattaya
23-Feb-03   Swedes and a Car 08-May-03   I'm in Chiang Mai
26-Feb-03   From the Middle of the North Island 11-May-03   Chiang Mai 2
02-Mar-03   From Nelson - Sunday, 2 March 2003 13-May-03   Last days in Chiang Mai
03-Feb-03   Two photos 14-May-03   From Chiang Mai to Kolkata
05-Mar-03   6 March 2003 - Greymouth 16-May-03   Last day in Kolkata
09-Mar-03   Wildfoods Festival 19-May-03   From Varanasi to Bollywood
14-Mar-03   Five days to Christchurch 27-May-03   South India - Bombay to Thrissur
19-Mar-03   On my way to the north island 27-May-03   Bangalore
22-Mar-03   Back in Auckland 27-May-03   More photos
24-Mar-03   Last days in Auckland 30-May-03   Greetings from Jaipur
30-Mar-03   From NZ to glorious Sydney 04-Jun-03   In Delhi
30-Mar-03   More photos 08-Jun-03   Prague, day one
03-Apr-03   The second from Sydney 13-Jun-03   More from Czech Republic
06-Apr-03   Last days in Sydney 19-Jun-03   Wuppertal then to Denmark
19-Apr-03   Last days in Melbourne 24-Jun-03   Hjørring, Lønstrup, and north Jutland
20-Apr-03   Here I am in Adelaide 24-Jun-03   More photos
23-Apr-03   Last days in Adelaide 28-Jun-03   Back to Germany and then NYC
26-Apr-03   Last days in Australia 08-Jul-03   My 2003 journey is finally over
01-May-03   Greetings from Thailand


Street Snake Charmer
Snake Charmer

Subject: Prague, day one
Sent: Sunday, June 08, 2003 10:44 AM
From: Bill Sundstrom
To: Betty Cassady
CC: Birgitta June Sundstrom; Dain Sidney Sundstrom

I am sending a picture from India that I took on my last day there.
It's a classic!

The Old Town Square
Old Town Square

After India, Prague seems like paradise. It is a lot more expensive than where I've just come from but still a lot cheaper than the rest of Europe. For example you can buy a beer for as cheap as 50 cents in some bars, but $2 is the normal fare. I paid $17 for a guided walking tour that lasted 4 hours. I saw most of the old city and got a good overview of it, but there was no time for museums. Prague's beauty is stunning: the squares, cathedrals, castles, bridges, buildings and people. The place is loaded with tourists, mostly Germans. The language is slavic. The people are good looking, and the women dress sexy. The food is great. I ate pork stuffed with sauerkraut last night - yummy. I just love it here.

Today, Sunday the 7th:
I visited a decorative arts museum. It was excellent - one of the best I have ever seen. The fabric collection was the best I have ever seen. Some pieces went back 1000 years but most was from the last 500 years. The lace collection was astonishing. They also had very good collections of glass (one piece was 2100 years old), porcelain, wood, bronze, pewter, cast-iron, jewelry, graphic arts. Only the graphic arts section seemed ordinary.

In the Old Town Square there was concerts all day long. I sat and drank a beer, ate a dog, and wrote in my journal. Man to I like it here.



Panoramic View of Prague
Panorama in Prague


Subject: More from Czech Republic
Sent: Friday, June 13, 2003 10:46 AM
From: Bill Sundstrom
To: Betty Cassady
CC: Birgitta June Sundstrom; Dain Sidney Sundstrom

Town Square of Ceske Budejovice
Ceske Budejovice

Monday the 9th:
I took it a bit easier. I got my watch fixed. Explored as many antique shops as I could. I got a beard trim. The best was a two hour boat cruise on the river. The views were great and it was very relaxing. I had got it in m head to go to a smaller town. So I got information on Ceske Budjovice, which is about 2-1/2 hours south of Prague. In the evening I went to a local pub for some local atmosphere.

Tuesday the 10th of June:
I left for Budejovice. I got there about three. I found a very nice pension above a pub on Panska street.. This is the oldest part of the city and it cost only $14 per night including breakfast. I saw some of the town, got some info about restaurants and pubs. It is truly a beautiful little city.

Cesky Krumlov
Cesky Krumlov

I finished checking out the old part of the city. I climbed the 46 meters up the Black Tower. I took a great picture of the square - see attached photo. Then I took yet another side trip to Cesky Krumlov, a smaller village with an ancient castle. The place is like a mini Prague. A small, scenic town that is nestled between some hills. A little but much used river runs though it. Still the dominant feature is the castle. The itself has been cleaned and restored and is in wonderful condition. The tour of it was well worth the effort. I left much of the other sites form my next visit. Back in Budejovice I had a good diner, then a great conversation with two university students.

I was off to Prague early. I tried and failed to recover my camera battery charger. Than goodness Heike has the same kind of camera. Then it was a 12 hour train ride to Köln where my friend Heike picked me up.

I am staying at her and Björn's place for the next few days.

I will call soon,




Subject: Wuppertal then to Denmark
Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2003 10:45 AM
From: Bill Sundstrom
To: Betty Cassady
CC: Birgitta June Sundstrom; Dain Sidney Sundstrom

The Köln Cathederal
Koln Cathederal

Sorry that it has been so long since I last wrote. There is much to write about and I just hope that I have not lost any of the details. I start with last Thursday.

Thursday, the 12th of June 2003:
This was a travel day that began very early in the morning and went until very late in the night. I was up and to the train station by 8 AM. I caught a train to Prague where I had hoped to recover my camera's battery-charger. But this was all to no avail. I just wasted half a day. The hotel, where I had left it, seems to have a theft problem due to their inability or desire to hire good people. So about 2:30 in the afternoon my train started for Nuremberg where I transferred to a train to Köln. I was after midnight before I arrived. Heike was waiting for me at the train station. An hour later we were in Wuppertal.

Friday, the 13th:
Heike and I took the train into Düsseldorf and tramped about the the city. It has few older buildings, but some very interesting modern architecture. Unfortunately it lacks some of the typical European charm because it has mostly new buildings. One great thing though is the Alt bier. The best view of the city was from a tower where we viewed the city from 600 feet above the surrounding landscape.

Saturday, the 14th:
We started off the day much the same as Friday. We travel to Köln and visited the great cathedral there. Then it was off to a special museum that was also a chocolate factory. Having just been in Indian, I had already learned something about the coco production. This place had much more. They were making chocolate candy. The smells of the freshly made chocolate was overpowering. They provided samples too. In another part of the museum we saw all the different packaging and advertising used over the years. I thought it was a really good and very different museum.

We returned to Wuppertal and about 6 PM departed for Bielefeld, Heike's hometown. We were headed for a party where I would meet most of her oldest and dearest friends. Unfortunately, I can only remember the names of Oliver and Mary (not a couple). We ate, drank beer, and talked into the early hours of the next day.

Heike and Her Parents
Heike and Parents

Sunday, the 15th:
We had spent the night in Heike's parents home. The house was built in 1809. It is a fabulous, old farmhouse with an attached barn. And although it has been magnificently maintained and updated, it still has the magnificent character that it had when it was first built. After breakfast, we hiked through the village. One of the places we stopped was the thousand-year old Lutheran church at the center of the village. The church was both simple and elegant. Here we encountered two other of Heike's friends: Ulricka and Jvrren. After the hike and bit of lunch, we drove the hour-and-one-half back to Wuppertal.

Monday, the 16th:
I was on my own most of the day. First I drove into Wuppertal. I arranged to rent a car. I had decided to rent a car, because the cost of trains and planes are very high here. The fare on the train to Erhus was more than 100 euro. Car rental along with everything else in Germany has soared with the introduction of the euro. It seems that they just changed the D-mark price to the euro price. My friend complained bitterly about that, because - of course - the same did not happen with their wages. So car rental have gone from reasonable in Germany to very high. I was able to find one agency who still had a somewhat reasonable price. Of course, it doesn't help matters that the euro has increased in value by 20% in the past year. After arranging for the car, I got a haircut and then explored a bit of the center of Wuppertal. One of the most interesting things in Wuppertal is the 'flying train.' This train is more than 100-years old. It hangs from tracks suspended some 35 feet above the ground. The tracks are supported by steel curved supports that look as if they had once been bridge supports. I rode one. The ride is great and there has only been one accident in 100 years. I bought some wine, bread and cheese.

I spent most of the afternoon listening to a good book. I climbed a ladder up into a cherry tree next to the house. I gorged myself on handfuls of sweet, ripe cherries. In the evening we watched a couple of DVD movies: a German spoof spaghetti westerns and 'The Banger Sisters,' which was better than I thought it would be.

Heike at a Fountain in Leige
Fountain in Leige

Tuesday, the 17th of June:
We drove an hour-and-one-half southwest to Liege in Belgium. After exploring a bit and eating lunch, we drove north 20 minutes to Mastriche in Holland. These were wonderful European cities. Because of the wondering border, we seemed to be passing back and forth from one country to another. Eventually, we made our way back to Wuppertal. I showed them how to make your cheese potatoes. We cooked up a small batch and froze a big one for a party they will through on the weekend. They like potatoes and absolutely loved these cheese potatoes. I also showed them how to make fresh salsa.

Wednesday, Yesterday:
I rented the car and drove about 8 hours (900 km.) north to Hjørring to visit our friends Bette and Niels Simonsen. We ate and talked late into the evening. Lærke is 19 and has one more year in the gymnasium. She is so grown-up it is surprising. Simon is at a boarding school this year, but will return for the summer on Saturday. Mikkel is 15 and into computer gaming.

I helped Niels set up a wagon. Continued chatting. I really love it hear. It is actually cool with puffy clouds in the sky.

The charge came through for the ticket on Singapore Air. I cannot figure out why it is $279 instead of closer to $188. Do you know why?

I will try to write more often.




Subject: Hjørring, Lønstrup, and north Jutland
Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2003 7:52 AM
From: Bill Sundstrom
To: Betty Cassady
CC: Birgitta June Sundstrom; Dain Sidney Sundstrom

The Lighthouse in Hirtshals
Hirtshals Lighthouse

I really have not been up to that much since I left Germany. Rural life is slow and very relaxing. Mostly I have been talking with the family and some the Rasmussen's. The only work I did was to help put a couple of special wagons together that they use for the strawberry picking. Strawberries is the only real change in the farm since we were here nine years ago. They are growing a lot more of them and they are very profitable for them. I will try to sketch out what I have been up to.

Friday, the 20th:
I spent three or four hours just driving around the north of Jutland. The wind was blowing so hard in Hirtshals that it nearly knocked me over, especially by the lighthouse. It is truly a beautiful place. I drove from the west to the east coast in one-half hour. I drove through many small villages. I always remember the rustic scenes in Denmark, but much of that is disappearing. For example, I have only seen one building with a thatched roof where it had once been fairly common. Niels says that the cost is too high not to mention increased insurance costs. One thing for sure is very different, there seems to have been an explosion in the number of windmills. Not only are there thousands more they are much bigger, usually 750 kw per hour. Niels says that they are also putting them off-shore where they are even bigger, three megawatts per hour.

Niels, Bette, her parents, and I traveled to Viborg where Simon has been at boarding school this year. The school specialized in gymnastics training, and we got to see them put on a show. After returning Bette and Niels got ready for a wedding of a friend. Later in the evening, I went into Hjørring to enjoy an evening of live rock music and very good beer. I liked being out both this night and some the next night. The sky was clear. The sun does not set until after 11 PM and it is dusk until midnight. Then the sky never really gets dark. About 2 AM is starts to light up again and by 3 AM you can see blue skies. It is pretty amazing, and I am still no where close to as far north as my grandparents came from. I really should do mid-summer in the north of Sweden. The bar, Ciffy's, was fun other than the huge amounts of cigarette smoke, and I would have liked to go on Sunday too, but I found it closed. Niels told me that the bars would have been surely open in Lønstrup, but he had been wrong about Hjørring - so who knows.


About noon Niels and I went for sildebord, or a herring lunch, in Lønstrup. The herring is so darn good here. They had one that was lightly smoked and excellent tasting. After lunch we took a short walk about the village. Then while Niels saw to some other business, I really explored the village. The number of artisans working and with shops in the village is amazing. It was clear that this would be a great place for someone like Steve Palmer to live. Where he could never really make a decent living from his craft in the US, he could live quite well from glass blowing here. There has been a great increase in the number of tourist to the village since we were last here. They, and especially the German tourists, bring so much money to the village that it has had a real Renaissance in recent years. With a group of local people, Niels and Bette lease a building in the winters and show films to enhance the off-season cultural life. The place is quite nice.

The Burning Witch
Burning Witch

Mid-summer, Monday the 23rd of June:
The clear days gave way to rain. It was very steady most of the day. Bette went to work in the morning; it was here last day before a seven-week holiday. In the afternoon she returned and she and Niels prepared for the evening's party. While they worked, Mikkel and I went into Hjørring. We spent most of our time at the bowling alley playing pool. He is pretty good, but I sill won a few games. We returned about 6 PM and before 8 PM we went over to the neighbors for the party. They barbecues had already been started. So, before too long we had a wide rand of meats available for eating. Tables had been set up in a very clean garage or shed where we ate salads and potato salad and the grilled meats and cakes and all the things that make a summer barbecue fun. And we had all the red wine or beer, that we could desire. The rain came and went. Unfortunately it was coming down when they decided to set the witch ablaze. A huge pile, say 15 feet across by ten feet high, of brush had been gathered and an effigy of the witch duly placed at the center of the pile. The fire just would not take off. The firebugs or boy scout among them finally got a raging blaze going. The witch was burn and she flew away to Bloksbjerg in Germany. (Is that where all the witches go?) Other than getting a bit wet and muddy, I had a delightful time talking with all the folks at the party. Many of them remembered us from our last visit those nine years ago. It was a wonderful evening.

Today will be another slow day.

Tomorrow morning I will head for Erhus. I guess Kurt is still living there and has married Ulla. Unfortunately he is out doing a story somewhere on the west coast for Extrabladet. Still I hope to see him, but I am not sure if I can stay at their place.

I also want to visit Gregers Mørch-Lassen. who I met when I was working for Minneapolis. He is a real estate appraiser working at jobs similar to mine in central Jutland.

I should be home in a week. I verified the ticket. They did cancel everything, but I think I got it put right now. You take care until then.




Subject: More photos
Sent: Tuesday, June 24, 2003 8:05 AM
From: Bill Sundstrom
To: Betty
CC: Dain

Here are a few more photos from the midsommer festen

Bill, Simon, and Hans Pige

Party Goers

More Party Goers

Bette and Friends


Subject: Back to Germany and then NYC
Sent: Saturday, June 28, 2003 4:20 AM
From: Bill Sundstrom
To: Betty Cassady
CC: Birgitta June Sundstrom; Dain Sidney Sundstrom

This will be the last message that I send before getting home at noon on Monday.

Wednesday, the 25th of June:
I left the Simonsens about 10 AM. It was a lovely visit. I hope they can visit us sometime. I drove to Aahus. I got a map and walked around the central part of the city. It really is a beautiful little city. I say little, but it is the second city of Denmark. Most of the buildings were built in the past 200 years, but I saw several that were more than 300 years old. In the late afternoon, I made my way to Skandeborg, just 20 kilometers south of Aarhus. There I visited Gregers Mørch-Lassen. I met Gregers 3 years ago at an assessors meeting in Florida. Since he was coming to the Twin Cities, I asked him to visit my office. When he did, I invited him flying. He has been on my travel email list. When he saw that I was in Denmark, he invited me to drop in. He and his lovely wife, Louise, were very gracious hosts for two days.

Drinking with Gregers on the Patio
Gregers Patio

Gregers and his wife left early for work and were not to return until late. I slept in and tried to get a hold of Gitta but to no avail. I needed info before buying my ticket home. So, I headed out about noon. I revisited an outdoor museum that I had first visited with Dain 12 years ago, called 'Den Gamle By' or 'The Olde Towne.' I spent most of the afternoon there. After that, I drank beers, ate diner, and drank more beer. I returned to Skandeborg about 11 PM.

We went first to Gregers summer cabin in a deep woods near a beautiful lake just 20 kilometers from his home. After this I drove south to Germany. Other than the 80-minute delay going through the tunnel under the Elbe in Hamburg, the drive went pretty well. I arrived in Wuppertal about 8 PM. I had a nice evening with Björn and Heike.

I returned the car. I bought my train ticket to Frankfurt; I leave at 2AM. I leave from Frankfurt at 8:30 tomorrow morning.

Well that it. I will see you on Monday.




Subject: My 2003 journey is finally over
Sent: Tuesday, July 08, 2003 12:12 PM
From: Bill Sundstrom
To: Travel Journal List
Cc: Betty Cassady

It has been a week since I got home. I have not had much rest. Betty has had me doing all kinds of yard work and there is plenty more to do.
Still I have been thinking a bit about my trip around the world. After leaving the USA, I visited four countries in the Pacific and Asia: New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, and India. I stayed three to five weeks in each. Then in just three weeks I visited five European countries: the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands. I stayed just a couple of hours in Belgium and the Netherlands.
I'm glad that I visited all of these places. Each country has positive and negative features that made the journey interesting. In all but Europe cars drove on the left side of the road. I got use to it on when I was traveling, but I may always be in danger of being run over in such countries, since I always automatically looked the wrong way when I crossed the street. Every country would be worth a second visit.

New Zealand

New Zealand is a land of peace and quiet. It has great natural beauty tucked into a very small land area. There is no desert here. All is green. It has mountains and glaciers. It has the sea and beautiful fjords. It has great hiking and camping. Adventure tourism is a huge industry in NZ. When you are eating there, you might think that you are in England - because of the typically English food. For a seafaring country there is far too little seafood in the diet, probably because it is still a bit pricey compared to the beef, lamb, and chicken. The people are fairly friendly. Despite the growing Asian population, most people have roots in Great Briton and Ireland, or are native Maori people. The Mourn were of great interest to me. With their rich in traditions, I found them to be friendly and fun. I spent more time on the south island and I would have liked to stay on the north island more. The only place I missed seeing was a bit of the west coast and the far north of the north island. The airfare from LA to Auckland was about $1000, the highest in my journey. Jeff and Isabella made the trip especially memorable, especially fishing in Auckland's bay.


I have heard it said that Australia is America without the Americans and that is why it is such a great place to visit. In some ways it is an awful lot like the US; I even found Target stores there. It has sunny, temperate weather on the coast and a very hot and dry interior. I missed the northern part of the country where the coast is tropical. Most of the country is like NZ in that it is peaceful and quiet. But it has a least two places where it is not so quiet and where there is a bit of the hustle and bustle of modern life. Those places are the cities of Sydney and Melbourne. I did not think that I would like Australia all that much, but discovered that it was a very enjoyable place for me. Given the opportunity, I would go back in a minute to see the places that I missed and to revisit Sydney and Melbourne. Without a doubt, my friends in Glebe added greatly to the enjoyment of my visit to Australia.


At first I did not like Thailand. For me there was nothing special or great about Bangkok. Even the beach at Pattaya was not all that great. What added to my displeasure was the heat. However northern Thailand was very pleasant. I really liked Chaing Mai with its smaller size, ancient walled city, and Thai decorative components in its architecture. Of course, Jason Dillon also helped me enjoy the place even more. If I were to return to Thailand, I would try to go earlier in the year. I would also try to explore as much of the northern Thailand as possible.


I really have a love-hate relationship with this country. I loved the ordinary people that I met along the way. The people of India are warm and friendly. They are always excited to meet you. They like to have their picture taken with you. And they want to impress you with their country. If it had not been for people like this I would have been totally disappointed in India. The people that I was able to visit were especially wonderful to me. And because of them, I will surely return to India. Atul and Bharti welcomed me into their Kolkata home and made me feel so welcome. And like wise it was the many members of Sebastian Cherayil that welcomed me into their homes and lives in Kerala.
India is no tourist haven and there is that will drive one mad. A few things in particular really got to me. First, it is a filthy with litter and dung. Perhaps what is worse is that most Indians cannot see that it is a problem. Second, it is hard to healthy as you travel here. Lastly, there seems to be a continual battle with the traders, cab drivers, hoteliers, etc. over what is a fair price - that changes the minute they size you up.


I love Europe and I loved being there.

Czech Republic
I only got a little taste of the Czech Republic. It is a lot like Germany only very cheap to visit: from 60 cent beers in many a pub to accommodations as little as $15 a night. The food is excellent and the people are friendly. Betty and I will come here together one day soon.

I really came to visit my friends Heike and Björn. I had met them in Costa Rica a year ago. Like me they travel a lot. One thing we travelers want to do is have people visit us. And when they invited me, I knew I had to go. And I had great fun and I got to see Germany in a totally different light. I made new friends. I hope they will visit me one day.

I have long desired to visit Denmark for the mid-summer festivities. I had heard much about them and finally I was here in the far north on the longest day of the year. I got to renew my friendship with the Simonsens. They are wonderful people. I also really got to know Gregers Mørch-Lassen and his wife Louise.

Until Next Time

That's it for this years travel journal.
I am going to set up a web site in the next couple of months. When it is complete you will be able to review the entire journal and the picture that I sent home. I also plan to publish all the photos that I took during the last two year. There will be some other interesting things at this site for my favorite potato recipes how to listen to some of my favorite books.

So until next time,
your friend,

Bill Sundstrom


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