Looking for Flow

The post title has many meanings. I have spent this week in Helsinki, working as a volunteer for Flow Festival, the biggest(?) urban festival in Finland.

I have visited the festival in 2008, and since I got the opportunity and had nothing better to do, I decided to spend 3 days in the kitchen and catering area for the few hundred workers, preparing around 300 sandwiches for each meal, serving meals, making sure no one is left without coffee and that everyone’s blood sugars don’t drop too much (I wish there was a cool video about that!). As a return for my contribution, I was given a 3 day ticket to the festival and a super cool t-shirt. Today is D-day, when the weekend commences (though the opening gig of The Knife was already on Wednesday).

 

Art getting done
Art getting done

Flow Festival is known as the (worst) Hipster gathering of this country, and I have to admit that I am looking forward to seeing what kind of uber-cool show-offs I can spot. What comes to the line-up…well, I’m not too well educated about the performers. I am looking forward to see Alicia Keys, Of Monsters and Men, Grimes, and Kraftwerk, but that’s about it (other performers include Public Enemy, Kendrick Lamar and Cat Power). Luckily there is more than music; art, design and most importantly, not your typical festival grub but delicious food from quality restaurants! The hardest part is to choose from all the different options. We’ll see what the weekend brings (hopefully not rain)!

 

Suvilahti getting constructed, not your typical festival environment
Suvilahti getting constructed, not your typical festival environment

 

Besides being indoors making coffee and slapping ham on bread, I’ve gone for a walk with my cousin and saw his new puppy, met with a friend and sampled some raw treats in a random hair event, got my wisdom tooth pulled out (I do have a picture of that, but I’ll spare you), and walked around town. Who knows, maybe this will be my city some day sooner or later.

In Helsinki, you can't get more touristic than this
In Helsinki, you can’t get more touristic than this
Meet Sylvi. Smile guaranteed.
Meet Sylvi. Smile guaranteed

Go with the Flow!

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Hipsterin’

In a strange culture, sometimes you just want to escape all the exotic, weird stuff and need the comfort of familiarity. And when rye bread is not an option and Ikea isn’t enough to satisfy the cravings for something other than China life, what to do? In Hong Kong, there’s Sheung Wan (and some random streets in different neighborhoods) to the rescue.

Kapok in Sun Street
Kapok in Sun Street

Luckily there are few nifty places to go in Wan Chai (mainly the small strip of Sun Street and the surroundings), but most of the cool stuff I have found is elsewhere.
 

Creative street art/promotion for Secret Ingredient
Creative street art/promotion for SecretIngredient.com

 

Sheung Wan, west from Central, is a neighborhood filled with art galleries, pop-up stores and cool cafes, where hipsters flock for brunch on the weekends. Ice drip coffee is not unheard of, and most of the coffee places also sell some small designer stuff. All the international restaurants are nearby in Soho, Sheung Wan is more concentrated on some quality cafes/restaurants with quirky interior and fancy menus.

Common Ground, the place to be
Common Ground is the place to be, even for hipster babies

 

What I like about Sheung Wan the most is the cool decors, overall vibe and appreciation for uniqueness. And apparently there’s some kind of launch party/gallery opening/random happening every week – you just have to know where to go when!

Inviting entrance
Inviting entrance

 

The areas near Sheung Wan MTR (subway) station are dedicated to dried seafood, bird’s nests, and other Traditional Chinese medicine shops: my rough and random estimation is, that there’s easily over 100 different shops selling smelly, odd stuff.

This is just a few blocks from the hipster-haven of Hong Kong
This is just a few blocks from the hipster-haven of Hong Kong

 
So, when one wishes to explore the area where one can order made-to order aeropress coffee rather than shark’s fin soup, there are some steps to be climbed. Perhaps the altitude change and stairs are the reason why upper part of Sheung Wan is occupied by young people!

Sweet wheels
Sweet wheels