On Working Hard vs. Hardly Working

There was a time when I got barely 2 days of work per week. The last week or few weeks I have been working more than sleeping or doing anything else. Somehow you adapt to the 12 or 14hr workdays and when you actually have free time, there’s this odd emptiness about what you should be doing to be more productive and as effective as possible. Working in Laneway Greens for the past 4 months has taught me a great deal about over the top cleanliness (it must be the cleanest kitchen in the Southern hemisphere!), dealing with extremely busy service, and to handle stress. I think the biggest learning I’ve got is to let go and not stress about work too much. There are only so many things I can affect, and so many things I can do. After making a mistake, it is best to learn from it, and to let it be. No point in dwelling and feeling like a loser. I think realizing not to stress (oh boy did I stress about anything and everything for a good few months) makes you actually work better. It definitely improves your mood.

I needed more hours and, to be honest variety to just whirring the Vitamix, so I snatched a job in the kitchen (looks more like the setup of a food truck) of a non for profit bar just around the corner from my old job. The place is very relaxed, I am basically my own boss since I’m in the kitchen alone most of the time, and I work with a bunch of people who never say no to a staff meeting (aka shots behind the bar meaning in the kitchen). The job is very social since I’m making the food in front of customers who sit outside, and I think having that aspect is good for me. Doesn’t make me feel so bad about spending my nights at work. And after the shift I can sit down, have a drink (yes the times of sobriety ended as I started working a bar) and go see a gig downstairs. So it’s like having a night out, without actually having to go anywhere. Too easy, as they say.

Summer is coming. I’m riding my bike everywhere. Trying to get a tan, started reading books again. Have grown a muscle next to my knee. Have no time to cook or go shopping, so saving money. Have no time to exercise like a maniac, but still do as much as I can. Exciting things coming up next year! And a new computer soon, so pictures again, yaaay!

Stay chill my friends.

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Spring in September

Spring is officially (finally) here and today the weather was very much like Finland in September. This is very confusing, but also a bit amusing. In celebration of the last day of winter (or summer for you Northern hemisphere folks) I wrapped Christmas gifts to send home, and also received a package from Finland – my very first letter and goodies from mom since I left! About time, if you ask me. Not the smartest idea to stuff your face with salmiakki (candy) before intensity workout, but maybe I learned from this experience not to do it again.

Spring and summer things are pretty open, which is both a good thing as well as a cause for losing my hair and finger nails. I do have new work opportunities, but I don’t know which direction to take. I am constantly surrounded by uncertainty, whether it be for work or what to do on my days off, or next February. Deep breaths and small steps, I suppose…

New life.
New life.

I suppose no matter how rainy and gloomy, things are going pretty well and running smooth: I even managed to wiggle my way out from the tram inspector without having a valid ticket. That’s a sign of success like no other! I also should be glad I spent 70 dollars on a doctor who told me I do not have an ear infection. At least now I know! Now I only need to figure out what is wrong with my ear.

St Kilda on a Sunday.
St Kilda on a Sunday.

Summer come at me.

Eastern Easter

I have never celebrated Jesus in Finland (or anywhere else, for that matter), but Easter has had it’s place in my life, mostly in the common egg-shaped, chocolatey form. In Finland, Easter has always been the culmination of spring and everything that’s starting to bloom after the gloomy, harsh winter.

How are things in Hong Kong? Well, there is abundance of chocolate (Western brands leading towards sugar-rush and food coma), and restaurants do offer a variety of Easter brunch, buffets and lambs. My Easter? So far, I’ve gone to pay the rent, and to yoga, sushi buffet (by far the best so far) and a nunnery.

Flashback from Japan, only difference is the skyscrapers
This could be a flashback from Japan, only difference is the skyscrapers

The weather has been rather grey and depressing, lately. Nothing that a Finn hasn’t experienced before, though, so I decided to go out and explore Kowloon city (the rain beat me, Kowloon Walled City Park yet remains to be explored).

Nunnery amidst all the urban infrastructure
Nunnery amidst all the urban infrastructure

From the extremely tranquil and beautiful Nan Lin garden in Diamond Hill, I continued my pilgrimage to Sik Sik Yuen Won Tai Sin temple (yeah, I had to check the name).

Prayers and fortunes, most likely no Jesus involved
Prayers and fortunes, most likely no Jesus involved

What do you do when the rain just won’t stop? Go to have a cup of tea, to the cinema and/or shopping!

Not a bad location for a restaurant
Not a bad location for a (vegetarian) restaurant

Easter is not yet over, and the shops are still filled with bunnies. So far, I am very much pleased with the holidays, even though I haven’t seen the sun, I didn’t get to go to Macau as planned, not to mention Lantau (or finally get to try out my new bikinis!).

PS: I completely forgot that my blog is now 1 year old! Whoa, time flies! I have only 2 months left in Hong Kong…and then, who knows?

Two very happy girls having a very good Easter dinner
Two very happy girls having a very good Easter dinner

Happy holidays, everyone – no matter what, where and how you celebrate!

Setsubun

Setsubun is a traditional Japanese festival for the change of seasons, celebrated on the 3rd of February, one day before Springtime. Like any other decent celebration in Japan, setsubun includes customs, traditions, special foods and rituals to bring good fortune, health and a better future. The rituals are then mixed to suit everyone’s taste. I did a whole bunch of traditions on my last whole day in Japan, plus an extra something: walking on burning coal!

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Setsubun includes mamemaki, throwing soybeans in order to ward off evil spirits. Beans are sold in stores as well as festival stalls. Some shrines have mamemaki events, where priests throw beans to people while yelling “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” (demons out, luck in!). I participated in mamemaki in Nara, where I visited on setsubun. Sake was served, and the spirit for good fortune was all around.

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Amulets and charms are burnt in bonfires to bring luck. I got to participate in the big bonfire burning in Yoshida shrine, Kyoto. Unfortunately I have no pictures of that; Let’s just say it was about 10 times the size of Finnish midsummer fires. The festival stalls in Yoshida shrine were definitely great to experience before leaving Japan.
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It is customary in Kansai area to eat uncut makizushi called eho-maki (恵方巻) (lit. “lucky direction roll”) in silence on Setsubun while facing the year’s lucky compass direction (this year South-East), determined by the zodiac symbol of that year. My eho maki was sitting in a shrine, overlooking Nara.

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with all these evil-repelling activities (and at least a kilo of beans I ate), my Hong Kong time ought to be lucky!

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First times’ charm

Lately there have been many first times, at least firsts for this year.

My dog spent the night at my place (she lives with my mother).

Sophie loves my favorite chair

I spotted flowers in Pyynikki!

The first hepatica of the year

Dandelions have also woken up

The first picnic of the year – due to bad weather we had to have it indoors, which was not so bad!

Few of our indoors picnic treats

The first outdoor picnic was completed with real champagne (which might have been the first time for me to have the real thing)!

The weather on Vappu was perfect for a picnic outdoors

I also got my first sunburn that day. Thanks to sunglasses, I now have a read nose with clear lines separating the area that was covered by my glasses.

First time in the water.

Sophie soaking her paws

Okay, well, I didn’t have my first swim yet, but Sophie did!

I took this year’s first bike ride yesterday. (The bike pictured is not mine)

Some bikes just have more attitude

Still waiting for the following firsts:

Strawberries and peas from the farmer’s market
T-shirt weather
Barbecue
My brother’s graduation
Ice cream outdoors
Mosquito sting
Summer rain
most of all: Moving to another country!

Pyynikki beach