Back in Sheffield from Finland

I’m back in Sheffield.

The trip to Finland was one of the best trip ever. Finnish hospitality was awesome and their food is absolutely fabulous. I’ll briefly summarize my trip here.

Meatballs & Mash potatoes

Day 1
Here I am, sitting on a table, with a Finnish family, who I have never met. I had no problem blending in as attention was diverted to me. Aki’s mother entertained me throughout the dinner, asking me loads questions. Her English isn’t that good but I could understand her. However, they had problem understanding me. I had to speak slowly and repeat it for few times.

Day 2
-20 degrees is cruelly cold. My ear hurts and my chin and cheek were numb. Breathing in that climate is pretty hard too. Everything inside my nose froze as in try to breath with it. It was as if there is ice inside.

There was so much snow that it was treated like rubbish. Trucks pile them up on the streets.

Aki, Matti and Juho brought me on a tour of the city. The city seems very modern with huge shopping centers and crowded with people. Instead of showing me the places of interest or a place to shop, they brought me to some shopping center, to ogle at Finnish girls. I must confess, Finnish girls are absolutely gorgeous, blonde hair and green eyes. ahh.

I tried walking barefoot on snow today. The first few seconds was nothing. All I feel is just a little bit cold. However, seconds late, my feet started to sore.

And soon, my feet begin the feel the sensational soreness. It felt like bonded in a tight shoe that squeezes my feet tightly. I ran and jumped in pain after that. Nevertheless, It was fun though.

We had spaghetti for dinner. The way the cooked it was funny though. They threw the minced meat on the pan, and then after it was cooked, they took the pan and filled it with water. Lastly, they add some canned sauce.

There were always pastries (white and wholemeal bread, rye and rieska) on the table. A routine is involved when eating them. First we spread butter on it, then slice some cheese on it and lastly put meat on it. My personal favorite is salmon.

Daily Meal

One thing I noticed about Finnish people is when I ask them how far is it, they will reply in Kilometers. When I first met Juho, I asked him how far is the car, he answered 50 meters. I was totally bluffed. I was expecting him to answer in minutes or seconds or even the word ‘nearby’. I told the Keskinen about this during dinner. They were surprised too. They never notice this before until I told them. Soon they started giving me answers in minutes.

Every Finnish house has a sauna. Even if they are poor. Aki’s dad is a builder. He built the home they’re staying now (he did a very good job). And obviously, he even built the sauna located at the back of the house. It could fit about 3 people in it.

Aki handed me a towel as we were walking into the sauna. He said “Finnish people goes to the sauna naked and since it might be different in your culture, you can use the tower”. And here I am in a sauna, on my second day in Finland, wrapped with a towel with 2 naked Finnish men. This is Finland!
I felt so embarrassed in the beginning but got used to it in a while.

When Juho and Aki were small, they used to roll on the snow once they finish their sauna session. Juho ran out from the sauna naked and walked into the backyard, which was covered with knee length snow. Suddenly, while walking, he tripped and fell down. He screamed in pain and ran back to the sauna room. It was damn funny.

I got out from the sauna, at that time 80degrees Celsius wooden room, laid my back on the snow and rolled left and right. The after taste of rolling on snow is funny. I think my body felt numb. We repeated the same process for few times, rolling on snow and running back into the sauna room. On our last attempt, where Aki got his father to take a picture for us, Aki got snow on his balls. It was damn funny too.

Barely 2 hours after dinner, we went out for Pizza with Matti, Juho and Aki. It was so big. Probably about 10 inches and we had one each. Obviously, I couldn’t finish mine. Juho ended up eating my share. Juho eats non-stop!

Even the water is frozen. We were there for just minutes as the weather was too cold, probably about –20 degrees.

I’ve always wanted to ski. I wanted to ski when I was in Melbourne but it was too expensive. And now, it’s free in Finland.
There are 2 types of skiing, downhill skiing and cross-country skiing. The former is just skiing down a hill and the latter is a track around the forest (or maybe a park). The track is open 24 hours and brightly lighted.
Aki drove to a track nearby to ski. It’s a path around the forest with sunken ski track on the left and right of the track. There’s a huge gap in the middle of the track. It’s for people who ski free style.
We had to wear a special shoe in order to ski. It has a hook that connects to the ski.
Skiing isn’t easy as I thought. I fell down many times. Skiing on a flat track is easy but doing downhill and uphill is the hardest. I could barely balance myself.
Our skiing session lasted 30 minutes. It was too cold.

Day 3
We had meatballs and mash potatoes for breakfast. It was delicious. The meatball gravy and mash potatoes were my favourite.

Aki’s dad, Aki and I went ice fishing after breakfast. It’s about half an hour drive from Maikula. We ended up in a frozen lake surrounded by a forest and covered with snow. We had to clear up the snow before we could drill a hole on it.
Pilkki is the Finnish word for ice fishing. It might sound interesting but it wasn’t very fun. Drilling a hole is a tiring job. I spent more than 15 minutes drilling a hole using a large drill to puncture a fist-sized hole.
After drilling the hole, we had to scoop the ice out with a scoop.
The fishing rod is a small and short one, probably about 40 cm long and it’s made of plastic. Aki hooked the worm we bought from a fishing shop in the city. We bought red maggots as well but we were too disgusted to hook it.
I’ve always wonder if our piss would freeze on our dick when we expose it to a below zero temperature. I tried it on the lake. It didn’t freeze and in fact I successfully wrote the word ‘fuck’ on snow.
The wind was chilling cold and it was snowing heavily. Even Aki’s dad couldn’t stand it. It’s been an hour and we still did not get anything. We packed our bags and left the place.
There were other people on the lake too. One of them spoke to Aki’s dad. Apparently, someone caught couple of fishes in the lake and we came on the wrong time. The fishes were not active. According to him, 7am to 8am is the best time to fish. Screw them, I’ll freeze to death!

Winter swimming. Aah, I’ve always wanted to do this. I forced Aki and Juho to accompany me. They We went to a river nearby. The ground was frozen with snow but the water was warm, about 2 degrees Celsius. We had to wear socks (otherwise our feet would stick on the ground) and wear a beanie (no idea why but probably in order to prevent our hair from freezing). Aki’s parents advised us not to dive our head into the river. I have no idea why.

Matti came with 6 of his friends to witness our stupidity. They were assigned to take pictures for us.
I took the honour of swimming first. I walked down the steps and step-by-step I fell like my entire body being bonded tightly. Few seconds later, I jumped up and down and screamed. It was so, so cold. However, it felt warmer once I started to swim.

Aki was next. He came in for few seconds and retreated back to the changing room quickly. Chicken!
Juho was next. He too did the same thing as me, screaming and jumping. He retreated back to the changing room within seconds too. I swam for a while before running back to the changing room.
As I was heading to the changing room, Juho popped out naked from the changing room. He jumped into the water and swam. Matti and another fellow kept on snapping pictures like paparazzi. We laughed like mad. I guess his swimming trunks were too cold for him. Oh yeah, we had it on video too. Hehe
Aki’s mother called me “kapa sing”, it means hero in Finnish. Ah my reward for winter swimming.

Day 4
I’ve always wanted to build a snowman. However, the snow in Sheffield wasn’t enough to build a thing. Since snow is abundant in Finland, Eeva and Aki taught me how to make a snowman.
It was pretty hard at the beginning as the snow was frozen due to rain last night. The top layer of the snow melted, creating a hard crust. We had to crack the ice in order to scoop out the snow. Furthermore, if the weather were too cold, the snow wouldn’t stick. It would only stick if its about 0 degrees.
I rolled a snowball slowly and it grew larger and larger. Eeva and Aki rolled 2 large snowballs. We then piled them up together and Eeva made hands for the snowman with snow and water. We smoothen the snowman by rubbing off the excessive snows. And lastly, coal for the eyes and buttons, a carrot for the nose, Aki’s dad’s scarf and a hat.
Aki’s dad took a picture of the snowman and us for memories sake.

For the first time, Eeva followed Aki and I out. We packed our equipments for sledging and cross-country skiing.
We had to walk up a hill to sledge. There were couple of tracks to sledge, the difficult one and the easy one. Aki demonstrated with the difficult one. He landed on his ass and rolled on the snow for few rounds. It was sadistically funny.

Without further ado, we played on the easy route. We had to sit down on plastic sledge and use our hands to control it. Aki tried to ride it like a skateboard and he fell on his ass and rolled down the hill. It was sadistically funny again.

We went cross-country skiing after that. It was difficult, as I couldn’t balance myself properly. I fell on my knees many times. I was literally cracking ice with my knee. It was even more painful that my Muay Thai training. Eeva and Aki skied like a professional. I couldn’t catch up with them and on couple of occasions I fell down like humpty dumpty.
Going uphill requires loads of energy while going downhill might be fun but it surely made me fall on my knees.
We skied about 1 kilometer. I was dead tired. We contemplated whether to continue skiing or turn back. We turned back as soon as we found out that the remaining track is about 3KM long.

I went to the sauna for the last time with Aki and Juho. This time the temperature soured to 120 degrees. It was so hot that Juho couldn’t stand it. He ran out from the sauna.
Once again, we tried rolling on the snow again. But this time, we lay on a table covered with snow and took couple of pictures.

Day 5
Left Oulu for Helsinki. The trip back to Sheffield lasted 10 hours.

Finland’s Criminal system is apparently it isn’t that good. Criminals get loads of protection and privileges. A policeman cannot shoot a criminal unless he was shot first. If he wounds a criminal, he would be charged.
There is no death sentence in Finland. Murderers get about 10 to 12 years of imprisonment. Furthermore, prisoners get paid more than armies serving for the national service. Sometimes it could be said that prisoners has better privileges than normal citizens.

On the other hand, Finland’s law protects every class of people in the society, for example, supermarkets. Big supermarkets are required by law to close on Sunday. The main reason for this is to protect the smaller supermarkets such as local groceries.

Christianity is the main religion in Finland. However, there are some glitches. Every Christian family belongs to a church and the church sets out the rules for them to follow (note that there are many churches in Finland). There are some churches that disallow couples to use condoms or any anti pregnancy instruments. This is quite common in Finland. Furthermore, sometimes the rules clash between 2 churches. This could be seen in matters concerning marriage especially when a person

Goodbye Finland, we shall meet again!