Brian Cheung
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Northbound

Thoughts, photos and anecdotes from my travels through Norway, Scotland and Finland.

Backtracking

Apologies for the lack of updates. One thing I didn’t anticipate up here was how terrible the general phone connectivity and wifi signals would be. I suppose Norway is a well connected country - I really took it for granted after a while there that every airport would offer up guaranteed free-flowing wifi at every terminal. Here things have been a bit slower. Despite buying mine and Jake’s Vodafone SIM cards in Edinburgh, there’s been next to zero reception between most towns and typically not much more in small towns either. It’s a mystery to me how locals up here get around it.

I’m writing this now from the confines of a ‘glamping' (I HATE that word) pod in the tiny town of John O’Groats in the furthest northeast corner of the mainland. The labels around town suggest that it’s the end of the 500, which doesn’t make sense to me as the route is circular. Anyway, Jake and I are bunking in a cute timber pod tonight that apart from the lack of pillows and bed linen looks like any other cheap/novel sort of accommodation. 

I’ll get into the specifics of today in a later post, because right now I’m just trying to play catch up. On Friday we drove the winding seaside route from Shieldaig to Ullapool that constantly weaved in and out of the many jagged peninsulas that make up the western side of the north end. 

We stopped at a cheerful roadside cafe in Kinlochewe to tuck into some giant scones and coffee. Continuing on we stopped at a roadside waterfall at Achnasheen, and a few more photo ops in Gairloch and Loch Tollaidh. All the while I kept up my terrible habit for constantly pulling over to take photos of the stunning scenery. I really don’t think I’m doing this place justice in my photos. Sometimes I just don’t bother; to me the landscape overall is breathtaking without there being specific landmarks worth gushing over, and that’s a bit more difficult to convey in photos as opposed to just being here and driving through it. 

We arrived in Ullapool early enough for a late lunch at a delicatessen. It was a happy accident that I stumbled on a gallery currently exhibiting a group show involving Ellis O’Connor. We met in Iceland where our residencies overlapped by three months and we got on like a house on fire. I really admire her work and her motives behind it, so it was lovely to randomly bump into it. Later this month I’ll be seeing her in Skye so stay tuned for that. 

After a bit of wandering we did a round of grocery shopping and settled in for an early night at our BnB with dinner consisting of charcuterie in bed - going out every night can be tiring too. 

scotlandBrian Cheung