Countdown to the future

Less than a week to go until Bali. 5 days, in fact. I have successfully (finally) presented my thesis in school, done all my shifts at the restaurant, and said “if I don’t see you anymore, see you next year” countless times. Last weekend we had a joint farewell party with a friend who is also going to the same continent, and it was a blast! I baked a lot, got very good feedback for everything, and got plenty of hugs. Luckily at Sunday brunch I realized I still have one more weekend to go and say more goodbyes. I hate saying goodbye.

Gang of feet.
Gang of feet.

Luckily I won’t be away for too long, and most likely I will be reluctant on coming back! Probably everything will be somewhat the same here, though not quite – I need to find a home sooner or later, yet again.

Studying material.
Studying material with flu curing ointment.

Last week I let my mom buy me tons of different possibly essential medications for the trip, and now I also have a cool head lamp! Who knows when the lights go out and there’s no electricity and there’s dogs with rabies chasing me – I can now protect myself! I still haven’t tested my backpack and I still don’t have booked the flight tickets back, only to Vietnam on Jan 2nd. The plan is to go from Ho Chi Minh to Cambodia via Mekong Delta, and then fly to Germany for Biofach expo. We’ll see how that will all sort out…

Sushi at Fuku in Helsinki. Om nom.
Sushi at Fuku in Helsinki. Om nom.

Quality time and quality food make leaving in style worth all the hassle of trying to remember and foresee all the things I might need and the things I definitely will not need and should leave behind. Hard to tell in advance, but besides the arsenal of (mostly diarrhea) medicine I have packed 4 pairs of shorts, 1 sandals and  flip-flops, one hat and some tops. Maybe 3 long sleeve shirts, put them all on for the plane.

Meanwhile in Finland - just like in May!
Meanwhile in Finland – just like in May! Make sense not war.

I am beyond excited to go and discover what it is I will do on my trip – every time someone asks, I wonder the same question myself. Maybe I’ll work, maybe I’ll surf, I don’t know quite yet. In a few months I’ll tell you!

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Hong Kong Vappu

I have never been a big fan of Vappu, as Labor Day or May Day is known in Finland, so it was not a big deal for me to to be abroad and “miss” the holiday and all the drunkness that annually invades Finland for few days. Here in Hong Kong Labor Day is a public holiday as well, and our Finnish team did the best we could to have some vappu feeling.

 

Munkki, just like at home
Munkki, just like at home

Last Saturday me and my dear roommates cramped into our tiny kitchen to prepare the traditional munkki pastries (donuts, basically deep-fried pulla dough), which apparently turned out just right! Team work at its’ best, one might say.

 

Sugar and syrup, yeast, lemon and raisins make the other staple Vappu treat
Sugar and syrup, yeast, lemon and raisins make the other staple Vappu treat

Last Friday I prepared sima (mead with raisins) to be ready for Vappu. On Tuesday we had few other Finns outside of our office gang to join us for a lovely evening -at the office- of listening to a myriad of 90’s songs and memorize our dear Motherland. The actual Labor Day, vappupäivä, was rather different than the usual picnic in the park – I got to cross another thing on my to-do list: junk boat!

 

Junk Boat with a nice sunny filter
Junk Boat with a nice sunny filter

 

Even though the weather was rather homey (cold, windy and almost rainy), the day on a boat was really nice!
Junk boat trips are usually organized in the warm months; basically you gather about 20-30 people to spend the day on a boat, chilling and doing some water activities. Not bad, unless you burn yourself or jump off the boat in a weird angle.

 

Sunny filter for brave swimmers
Sunny filter for brave swimmers

 

I hope I get to go on a junk boat trip again, and the next time the weather would be warm enough for me to actually get in the water and try wakeboarding! (Okay, I was about the only one not swimming, but it was damn cold.)

Did I miss the Finnish version of Vappu? Not a bit. We shall see where I’ll be next year!

Mui Wo

Calm streets to calm the mind

Another weekend, another destination! This Saturday, I ventured off to Mui Wo, Lantau island.

Many possible directions from Mui Wo
Many possible directions from Mui Wo

Mui Wo is the main destination in Lantau where Star Ferry goes from Central. From there, one can easily go to the main attractions of Lantau, such as Tai O or The Big Buddha (which I still have to go see!). Many hiking trails are also accessible, as well as other nearby islands.

Beach and bbq
Beach and bbq

Besides the beach, I walked along some quiet streets and in a forest – the aim was to find a cave and waterfall, but one wrong turn lead me to a cow and a residential area in stead. Now I have a reason to go there again!

Tai O cows' big brother
Tai O cows’ big brother

It is always great to escape the hassle of the city – I saw banana trees and jackfruit, too! After strolling around for few hours, I decided to sit down by the water and treat myself a nice seafood dinner. One of the most expensive meals I have had turned out to be one of the smallest, and I spent the evening hugging the toilet. I guess you can’t always win. No hard feelings towards Mui Wo, but I won’t be going to the Cooked Food Centre again!

Peaceful water brings peaceful mind
Peaceful water brings peaceful mind

Visa Run

In order to get a much needed stamp to my passport, our FSF Hong Kong team went for a lovely day trip to Macau. I did not quite know what to expect from the biggest casino destination of the world (33 casinos, more revenues than in Las Vegas, and 50% of the economy comes from gambling!).

Welcome to China!
Welcome to China!

We were supposed to go to Macau already a week ago but because it was Easter, we had to postpone. In the morning in HK it was darker than at 7 pm, and when we were leaving it started to pour once again, like almost every day for the past few weeks now. In Macau, the weather was 24C with 96% humidity. Phew. In the casinos, the climate was more pleasant, though unpleasantly smokey. Each casino had their unique scent, mixed with the gamers’ cigarrettes.

Filming for trainee video
Filming for trainee video

The highlight of our voyage was the Macau tower lunch buffet, which had been the daydream since day 1. I was actually considering doing the world’s highest bungee jump from Macau tower, but after that lunch I could barely walk, let alone look down the elevator from the 230m high restaurant. It was pretty cool setting, though I missed most of the scenery since I was concentrating on the food.

Where the money's at
Where the money’s at

After the gluttony we went to have dessert to The Venetian, which is the 6th largest building in the world, and besides the casino and a hotel it also has for example a shopping center and a canal inside it. It was my first time to be in a casino (and I went to at least 5 different ones!), and it was not quite like I’ve seen in dozens of Hollywood films and tv shows. No cocktails, no lucky dice blowing or cheering – just a bunch of Chinese people, most of them smoking. The lights, the sounds, the amount of money – I can’t even imagine it all.

The Venetian
The Venetian

Macau seemed to be a playground for the filthy rich. Everything was shiny and clean, loads of ATM’s everywhere, always signs for the next hotel and casino. Free shuttle buses from casino to another. Free water bottles (yay!) It was definitely worth a visit, and what a visit it was – when the boys left back to Hong Kong, we stayed and wondered around, until we found a very decent wine tasting in Four Seasons hotel. On the ferry back home we got to a big thunderstorm, and it was raining like hell in Hong Kong.

Eat, play and sleep - no need to leave the hotel
Eat, play and sleep – no need to leave the hotel

Oh, I would have tried some game in the casino, but they didn’t accept coins!

Yokohama humahuta

The title of this post will probably seem odd to all non-Finns, sorry about that. (The title is from a bad joke that involves a Japanese name, that’s actually all I can remember about it)

What's a city without a ferris wheel? Minato Mirai
What’s a city without a ferris wheel? Minato Mirai

Yokohama is the 3rd largest city in Japan with the population of 3 million people. It is conveniently located within half an hours train ride from Tokyo, and definitely interesting location to visit.

Skating rink by the red brick houses
Skating rink by the red brick houses

Yokohama is located next to the sea, and it was the first port to be opened to the outer world in the end of the Edo period in the late 1800’s. Originally, the city was divided for foreigners and the Japanese, and in between the Chinese built their own habitation.

A bit of China in Japan
A bit of China in Japan

Nowadays Yokohama is an interesting mix of the Western, Japanese and Chinese style with an area of contemporary and futuristic architecture. In one day you can go from the colonial infrastructure to China and see many interesting high rise buildings as well.

Cool as steel
Cool as steel

One can find various shopping, the tallest building in Japan (296m), Pokemon center, cup noodles museum (was all booked for the day I visited, boo), ramen museum, amusement park and God knows what else! (At least a museum for modern literature) in Yokohama. I also found The Little Mermaid!

Miniature version of the Little Mermaid
Miniature version of the Little Mermaid

I also found glass jars with Finnish words “sokeri” and “suola”, as well as the staple Moomin-stuff.

Sunset in Yokohama
Sunset in Yokohama

For something different than Tokio, or anything else in Japan, you should definitely spend a day in Yokohama.