Saturday, May 17, 2014

One night at Sundvollen - Mørkganga

Today's May 17th, Happy Constitution day to Norway.  Wooo.. So I haven't blogged in a while.  But maybe I'll start blogging again.  And since today is one of those days where I feel like blogging, I will.  Maybe it's a promise I can keep or maybe I can't.  Anyway, 2 days ago on the 15th work organised an event called Techzone, which is pretty much a company wide outing to somewhere, with technical talks held throughout the day, but in the end the reason is pretty much to get drunk.  But before that, there's plenty of activities to do.  The last time this event happened was in 2011 when I was still an uninitiated newbie to Norway.  Ever since then there have been plenty of "micro techzone" events held in the comfort and confines of our work canteen, and we were waiting for "nano techzone" events where we would pit toy figures against each other and watch technical talks on youtube, so this was a big surprise.  But anyway, the day kicked off something like this.

15th May

8:30am - The buses arrived, I was one of the first to show up at work.  Usually I'm a late riser.  Today,  I had to get up early.  And believe me that was a hard thing to do.  We caught the bus which departed at 8:55am and then arrived at the hotel, Sundvolden hotel at 9:30 where we were greeted by a marching band and ice cream.  Impressive, as Darth Vader would say.  There were about 360+ of us, but only 200+ of us were going to stay overnight.  The rest had wives, husbands, babies, mistresses, were either mummy's boys or daughters, and had other affairs to look after, and so could not stay overnight.  The day started out in one word, sunny.  Unfortunately it didn't turn out to be that way the rest of the afternoon.

Between 9:30am to 5pm there were technical talks in all the rooms, and plenty of food and drinks in-between.  Here's a photo to summarise the hotel.

Sundvolden hotel

Yeah there's an indoor heated pool and I spent close to two hours in it later that night.  Read on for the best bits.

So, food, the food was great.  I had plenty of scallop-chicken-cherry-tomatoe-prawn skewers, and bacalao.  And soft drink.  I didn't have that much, mainly I pigged out on the skewers. Haha!  Alright.  The real fun started at...

5pm So after 5pm there's all these activities to partake in.  Like games at the lake, unicycling, pole dancing, photography, getting drunk early wine tasting, chess, gym, and my favourite... hiking!  It was raining at this point but the rain sort of subsided a bit later after 5pm.  For hiking we were going to hike up Mørkganga (the "Dark Hallway") which stands 570m above sea level, it's a narrow gorge between cliffs in a mountainous region.  Needless to say, that is why I picked it.  The taxi picked us up and after 10 minutes later we were dropped off at the foot of the mountain ready to risk our lives and limbs.

Between 5pm and 7:30pm...

The hike up Mørkganga.  A crash course in mountaineering, don't try this at home.

The initial 1.34 kilometres in were full of rocks but it was bearable.  This was an ascent of 200 metres.  The challenge was the next 600 metres which we rapidly ascended to an additional 200 metres.  It was quite steep and because it was raining earlier, it was slippery at parts, with mud and falling rocks if you stepped on loose rocks.  At parts I was seriously in "wtf" mode.  The last 100 metres, pictured on the left of the above, is where it really became crazy with no harnesses other than wires attached to the side, you simply grab and pull yourself up and hope nothing breaks.


Here's the view at the top of the gorge when you climb the last 100 metres.  At the top I was sweating and well, relieved.  Where the people are on the left is a cliff overlooking the surrounding area.  The two photos on the right were taken where the group of people were standing.  I climbed it with my SLR all this time on my back just so I can take awesome photos!  By this time it was less cloudy, so we could take better photos.  A real pity we didn't do this in the morning though.

Awesome view at the top with a view of Migartjern lake.

After hanging around for a few minutes taking photos, we took the easy way down, which was scenic.  Along the way we met guys from the running activities group.  They were too chicken to do the climb I guess.

Coming down.... there's a small waterfall running down the side of the lake.  Almost slipped and fell into it earlier.

The other side of the mountain facing Steinsfjorden.

Total time approx 2 hours.

7:20pm Back at the foot of the mountain.  A taxi picked us up soon after and dropped us off at the hotel.  I scuttled off to the spa for my head and neck massage because I was due to start at 7:30pm and was already 5 minutes late!  Well I was sweaty and everything but she massaged me anyway.  And it sure felt good, although I wish she used more strength.  Nice norwegian lady for putting up with my sweaty body haha!

8pm Massage over. :( I hung around in the changing area and talked to Carlo and another guy who I can't remember.  He wanted to get a massage from "beautiful Norwegian ladies".  Haha!!  Anyway... then I went to the waiting area where all the women were waiting for their massages and ate strawberries.  One of them then started talking to me, Anna was her name and she only started 2 years ago, this was her first job.  She came here on exchange.  I told her this is not the real world in terms of working environments (compared to say you know, Asia, Australia and the rest of the world!), which it isn't and she said she might have to stay in Norway forever then haha.  Well she then suggested having a facial, DIY (stop thinking dirty gosh) but it was only in the women's toilet where you could do that, so I went anyway.  Yeah I went into the women's bathroom and had a DIY facial.  It was nice actually.  And women were changing in there but I can't see anyway so it doesn't matter.  That sounded wrong.  But it's not!  After that we checked out the heated swimming pool, then I went back to my room, changed, and scooted off to have dinner.

Hotel sweet hotel

I took the picture as soon as we could check in which was 3pm.  Hence there was still light.  Anyway, big room.  So I changed, went to have dinner and unfortunately spent most of the time eating alone as it was cold outside, everyone had gone into the hotel and already ate. :(  Which kinda sucked but I survived.  Dinner was really good as well.

Top left and top right: My two plates of dinner!
Bottom left: Champagne and strawberries in the spa waiting room :D
Bottom right: My breakfast for the next day!

9:30pm After dinner I talked to Torgeir and I suggested to him we should check out the swimming pool.  So we did, I took him there and we sat there a while.  There was only 1 person in it and then two guys showed up afterwards.  Torgeir didn't have any swimwear but one of the guys told us we could get swimwear at the reception!  So that's what we did.  He managed to get a pair of shorts and I managed to get a pair of swim shorts, they were more like waterproof underwear really but whatever.  And they were open so it meant that someone had used them before, but I didnt care.  Well we went back into the pool thinking it was going to close at 10pm but no one came and kicked us out.  Shortly after Christian and Rema showed up.  Rema is not her real name.  But she was waaaay too drunk to be there.  She started touching herself on the chairs and spreading her legs and asking Christian what's wrong with doing this.  Ha!  Madness!!  Anyway we just stayed and swam in the pool until close to 11pm, talked a bit and just relaxed.  Some woman even came in and asked if we wanted drinks.  Rema drinks way too much during these events.  She and Torgeir were apparently going to get a cigar so they left earlier than Christian and I.  She was supposed to go to the women's showers but apparently couldn't find them so she went back into the men's while Torgeir and Christian were showering and caught them butt naked.  Geez man, this was a woman with 2 kids.  I went back with Christian into the men's showers for a few minutes but for the love of God I can't remember why not.  Anyway...

11pm We were out.  Went to the bar area where the company band was playing.  Unfortunately it lasted only about 10 minutes then there was only drinking left which I'm not fond of.  So Christian and I just ate some popcorn (there was a popcorn machine), talked a bit more then went back to my room and called it a night.

16th May

7am... the next day.  Showered, packed and checked out at 7:30am, had a quick breakfast.  See the above food picture, I also had a crossiant.  And was done in 15 minutes.   Caught the 8am bus and sat to Jorunn who works in documentation on the bus where she was telling me about how she had to handle all the parties at school for her child (who is adopted from some part of Africa) for May 17th and how she didn't like it.  Amongst other things.  Later during the day I learnt that people from work had broken into the bar when it had closed and poured more booze until the early morning hours.  Haha!

So that's my one day in Sundvollen.  Pretty eventful for me and I got to do everything I wanted.  This sure was better than the last techzone!

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