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!

Oulu Beach & Finnish lady

Our initial plan of downhill skiing was cancelled because i was too lazy to travel 2 hours to the ski resort. We ended up driving around the city to take pictures.

We went to the beach. It was completely frozen! The beach was covered with snow (everything was white). The water was completely frozen and there was even a person windsurfing there.

Frozen Beach

We climbed up a tower and took pictures there. The ice was so vast that it was as far as we could see.

Aki, Juho and I walked up the tower and took some pictures. Walking up to tower was hard as the stairs were covered with ice and hence slippery. It took us a while to reach the top. Walking down was even harder, we were literally sliding down the stairs.

View from the tower

The wind was awfully cold. Even Juho and Aki couldnt stand it. pfft, Finnish boys.

Juho, Me & Aki

A fat middle-aged Finnish lady harassed me. I was at Hesburger, having supper with Aki, Juho and his friend. Suddenly, a woman approached me and spoke Finnish to me and grabbed my arm. I thought she was a prostitute offering sex for money. I ran towards Aki and screamed, “Help me!” She spoke to Aki and then she started repeating the word “miksi miksi”. It’s Finnish for why.

She was asking why did reject her offer. Apparently, she offered to treat me pizza and Aki and gang were saying she was offering me pizza for sex. EUW. NO WAY. NOT WITH A FINNISH MIDDLE AGED LADY!

After rejecting her, she offered Aki and Aki’s friend the same thing (just pizza but maybe there might be sex involved).

However, it seems that this doesn’t happen often. It’s the first time they experience such a thing. This is Finland..oh boy..

snow mobile and ice fishing

Snow mobile is the hardest thing i´ve ever driven. It´s easy if the snow isnt thick but it´s extremely hard when the snow it´s thick. I was stuck on snow occasionally. Aki and his other 2 relatives had to push the snow mobile out from the thick snow (about knee lenght).

Handling a snow mobile requires a lot energy. It has no power steering hence a lot of energy is involved in order to turn the vehicle.

One of Aki´s relatives offered me a ride on his snow mobile. My god, it was damn exciting. He went up and down hills at high speed (about 60 – 120KM/H). It was great but i was worried that i might be throw out from the snow mobile. And during the last ride back to the warehouse, he went about 100km/h, it was so fast that i could barely breath.

I thanked and shook Aki´s relative´s hand as we left. It was a good experience!

I’m stuck

Aki and I

The gang

Finland day 1

Su Ween, Jon and Mindy stood behind me, shouting farewell and reminders, as i walk out from 16 Watson Road.

While on my way to Manchester Airport, i befriended 2 people. We didnt talk much, the guy was heading to Spain and the girl was heading to Tobago. Eventhough we seldom chat, we somehow made an implied pack, 3 of us would stick together throughout the trip to Manchester Airport. We shared the same carriage and sat nearby to each other in the bus. We departed without saying good bye.

Amsterdam – 9:30AM
Ah, Amsterdam, It’s been 1 year and 1 day since i left Amsterdam. I love Amsterdam.

My trip around Amsterdam Airport was a short one but it surely brought back the memories i had in Amsterdam last year.
Everything seems like yesterday (this proves that the amount of weed i smoked in amsterdam did no affect my memory).

I had a slight problem in the immigration department. The handsome young African Dutch officer was scrutinising my passport for a long time. He showed it to his collegues and started discussing with them in Dutch. I had no idea what they wanted. Probably he was suspicious of my passport. I have a temporary British residency and an Australian visa attached on my Malaysian passport. A terrorist with with 3 residency? Thats what he probably suspected. Fortunately, he did not give me any trouble. He gave me the passport back but in rude way.

I regretted that my transit was a short one. Getting into Holland from anoter European country is easy and fast. If only my transit was few hours. I would be taking the two storey high train to Amsterdam.

Flying over Scandanavia is an interesting sight. The clouds are white and the whole continent is white, covered with snow!

Helsinki Airport

After 14 hours, which includes a train ride, 2 bus rides and 3 flights, I’m finally in Oulu. I was suprised that there wasnt any immigration check in Helsinki. I wanted to get them to stamp a mark indicating that I’ve been to Finland!

Oulu Airport

I bought a standy ticket to Oulu for 65e. Standby ticket is much cheaper than normal ticket (200e) as it involves a risk. With a standby ticket, a seat is only guaranteed 10 minutes before departure and if there arent any vacant seats, I am not entitled to a seat. However, a refund will be given.
I made a mistake as i was wating for my flight to Oulu. I check-in the counter 10 minutes before departure.

I was instantly screwed by the pretty lady attendant. In her Finnish accented English. she kept on scolding me for not checking in early. Apparently the bus to the plane has already left and hence I’m the only one left. I told her that i thought that standby tickets would only allow me to check in 10 minutes before departure. She dismissed it and kept on screaming at me in her hostile finnish accent. I never threw my temper at her nor apologize to her, all i said was just okay okay and okay. I was too tired to retaliate. It’s been more than 24 hours since i slept (well not exactly 24 hours,. i dozed off for few minutes couple of times)


Pre-Finland trip

What a weird dream. I dreamt that someone broke into my room and stole my comic books and my stamp album (!!). Mum was comforting me, asking me not to worry. I reached for the phone and called the police. I was diverted to a voice message saying, “Sorry, the police is on leave today due to Hari Raya”. WTF.

Ok about the Finland trip. I’ll be leaving on the 6th of February, which is 2 days after my exam. I’ll be staying at Aki’s place for 5 days in Oulu, Finland. Oulu is located in the north of Finland, which is also about 600KM to 800KM from the capital of Finland, Helsinki. The climate of that place is reported cruelly cold, at an average of –20 degrees. Aki and I planned to go skiing, ice fishing and probably winter swimming! This is also a chance for me to experience Finish culture, as I will be staying with Aki’s family.

Another thing that is worth mentioning is that, I’ve never met Aki before! I knew him online though. However, I knew him for few years and there is no doubt he’s a sane person. hehe