(merkit hukassa)

Adventures in Korea

Tag Archives: high in the sky

Wussup, Pillandu?

Hell yeah I’m back in Finland!

Aside from getting my clothes all wet, the typhoon didn’t cause any major discomfort. My plane was an hour late though, but since I had enough time to change planes in Amsterdam, no problems.

Tips for padawans: remember to leave your alien registration card with the immigration personnel in Korea. I did. And EU border formalities with EU passport were lovely. The guy barely glanced at my passport. In Finland I didn’t even see any border personnel.

My trip home took 44 hours altogether. I almost cried, watching the sunset from the plane for the whole flight from ‘dam. Yes, sunsets in northern regions last pretty long. The first thing I tried to do in Finland was to ASK someone at the tourist info if they knew the bus schedules – instead of the Finnish way of just reading the boards and figuring things out by ourselves. Well, there weren’t anybody to ask from and I got confused. Then I bought some snacks from the convenience store and wasn’t sure anymore how to use my credit card – the system in Finland is different, you know, and I had forgotten. And I still have problems using the tap… which way it closes? And I think it’s gonna take a while to start handing and receiving things with one hand.

I had to wait for the bus for 2 hours and, due to Foo Fighter’s gig in Helsinki, it was packed. I had to stand for the first hundred kilometers, but Finnish bus drivers are honestly way better than Koreans, so it was like standing in a train. Except smoother. And I spend it chatting with this cute and polite young guy, not bad right?

After Lahti I got a seat and fell asleep. I woke up a couple of times, saw white people around me and wondered where all these tourists were headed, until I realized I was in Finland and they were locals. I woke up in Kärsämäki and started chatting with a the lady seated behind me and it was great. It never happens normally though, chatting with strangers, in Finland.

I was surprised and happy to have three of my friends welcoming me at Oulu bus station, after the 10 hours bus ride. So happy! The weather was superb, my friends were there and we had interesting stuff to do. Although, when I got home later, there wasn’t anybody to welcome me (even my sister went back to Oulu pretty quickly, she had to work in the morning). My parents are in Norway and they took the dog with them. SO QUIET HERE!

My home

The nights are white. The sun doesn’t set until halfway of July. There are mosquitoes everywhere. I can drink from the tap. The food is salty. Fruits are cheap. And, I have to face the reality, finish my school and start looking for a job. I feel the stress piling up already. I did little for the job finding anyways, since my friend called and I asked him to put a word around for me.

Xiit, this is not June, this is August.

Note: the nights ain’t getting this dark until August, obvious xiit picture.

There is so much to do and so little time! Aaaaaa. Gotta go.

Ps. I lent my camera for a friend, the pictures are old. Only things that have changed since are the cars anyways.

Jeju-do – 제주도, 2.-8.6.2011

Jeju is the Åland of Korea. It’s an autonomous paradise island at the very southern end of Korea. Everybody told us to be sure to go there, so we went – me, Lotta and Anouk. Lotta, as a tourism major and utterly awesome human being, acted as our travel guide, made all the reservations and made sure the trip was a success. It was a success.

We reserved the flight tickets maybe a month ahead and got pretty good prices from Eastarjet– around 80000 won / 50  euros return. There is a direct shuttle bus from Hotel Castle near Ajou to Gimpo airport. Tickets are 6000 won one way and it takes one and half hours to get there – we expected a shorted ride and we got there only ten minutes before Anouk’s check in counter closed. Me and Lotta had a different flight a bit later so we were okay. Both our flights were delayed because of thick fog in Jeju airport. Luckily we were able to land – I heard some planes had to return and some were canceled completely.

From Jeju airport we took a limousine bus 600 to Seogwipo KAL Hotel, close to our first hostel – Doona guesthouse. Our hostel was great and the people there nice. A lot of Scandinavian color there – two dudes from Sweden and one from Finland. The guesthouse is owned by a Korean lady, Doona, and her family. It has very comfy beds and clean facilities and a nice porch to chill at. Close by is a nice Korean restaurant and a small convenience store. Bus number 2 operates to Seogwipo city.

Doona guesthouse

We spend the first day climbing Halla mountain (한라산). (Wouldn’t Hallavuori be a nice surname?) We took the Seongpanak Trail (성판악) – 9.6 km. You can get there by taking bus 5.16 from Seogwipo or Jeju city. Tell the driver you are going to Seongpanak and he’ll drop you off there.  To be able to climb all the way up to the summit you should be at the shelter checkpoint (about 8 km)  no later than 1PM, descending from the summit should start before 2.30PM, so leave early! The bus from Seogwipo takes about 40 minutes.

Seongpanak trail wasn’t as steep as the other ones, but it sure was long. It was good though, we got to see the other crater lake. It was surprisingly quiet – no echo there. My hip started hurting at 1700m, so I didn’t climb all the way to the summit. Lotta did! Well done Lotta. I spent a couple of hours napping in the burning hot sun and headed back to meet Anouk. There were quite a many high school students there, on a field trip. They were happy to practice their English skills with us.

Hallasan

On our second day we joined forces with Canadian Michelle and Finnish Miikka to see the Seogwipo area waterfalls and Jungmun beach. Cheonjiyeon waterfall is in Seogwipo city… easily reached by walking or if you are coming from Doona guesthouse, by bus number 2. Hop off at Napoli hotel or write the waterfall name down and show it to the driver.

Cheonjeyeon Waterfall and Jungmun beach can be reached with bus 600. Catch it from KAL hotel or the hotel I forgot the name for, close to Napoli hotel. Hop off right after the extravagant hotels in Jungmun resort, by Ripley’s believe it or not.

We left for Jeju city (제주시) on our third day. Same bus that took us to Hallasan operates all the way to Jeju city bus terminal. Our second accommodation Yeha guesthouse was conveniently located next to the bus terminal and they had a superb roof terrace!  Rooms were nice and every room had their own shower. Breakfast and one free drink included!

Yeha Guesthouse

We spend the day checking out Jeju city’s sights – Samseonghyeol Shrine (삼성혈), where the three demigods of Jeju popped out of the ground, Jeju Folklore museum (pretty cool place, learned a lot, but the sea creature museum next to it was too much – freaking scary, never gonna swim again) and the seafront. Ate Mexican food near City Hall, at Zapata’s. Very good food and handsome waiters!

Samseonghyeol

Seafront

The next day we took a bus to Seongsan Ilchulbong (성산일출봉), the sunrise peak. We didn’t see the sunrise, but the area was pretty. We also took a ferry to U-do (우도), a small island close to the sunrise peak.  The tour bus organized by the local people is well worth the 5000 won. It stops at the main attractions and you can get on the next bus every half an hour. It was a good idea to take my flipflops with me, since the pretty coral sand beach was, well, sandy. I built a sand castle! And ate seaweed. The island is very rural and the people reminded me of people back home. Oh, the owner lady of the convenience store in U-do ferry terminal is nice and you can get home made kimchi with your cup noodles.

Sunrise peak

We got back early enough to have time to check out the Tea museum. It was great, even though no-one spoke a word of English there. The cafe downstairs was picturesque and had awesome matcha yogurt ice cream. Of course we had to buy some small tea cups, but the real tea sets were too expensive. We also found a nice Indian restaurant near by (can you tell we are getting a bit tired of Korean food).

On our last day we visited the Manjanggul Lava-tube (만장굴). The bus left us 2 kilometers from the entrance, but by foot we were able to see the smaller lava tube entrances. On the way we stopped by the Kimnyeong maze, a huge cedar maze well worth visiting. Our tactic ar first was the famous “first right, then left” but since it failed we switched to “kai-bai-po” (rock paper scissors) and successfully cleared the maze. For dinner we had the best summer food, Japanese cold noodles. From now on I’m not gonna eat anything else but cold noodles in the summer.

A great trip! Yay!

Taiwan!

Like the good exchange students we are, of course we travel! Who would stick to just Korea when you have gone all the trouble to drag your rear to Asia.

First we were thinking of visiting a friend in Beijing, but ignorant as I was, I didn’t pay attention to Chinese visa policies before my departure from Finland – to get Chinese visa in Korea your alien registration card needs to be valid at least six months from the day you apply. So no China.

Next we wanted to do something totally random so we were looking for cheap flights to Okinawa, Mongolia and Hawaii. Turned out there are NO cheap flights to those destinations. Lotta managed to find very good deal from EVA Airlines, from Incheon to Taipei – only 250 euros per person.

In Korea all the guys have to serve in the military and do re-training every year (or every two years or whatever). They invite guys to re-training by university and major, on different dates. My class happened to be on Wednesday 4th May and my classes were canceled. Thursday 5th was Children’s day, a national holiday. I don’t have classes on Tuesdays and Mondays I only have one class. So basically I only missed Friday.

We left for Taiwan on Sunday afternoon. Shuttle bus from Suwon Hotel Castle to Incheon cost 12000 won and took 40 minutes. Normally it takes over an hour.  We had plenty of time to do stuff at the airport – like exchange money (which was a good idea since our cards didn’t always work with Taiwanese ATMs and they don’t take cards in most shops) and visit the Korean culture center. We got to Taipei airport around 10 PM and took a bus (125 tw$) to the main station.

Lotta booked us a hostel (Taiwan Mex) and it was very conveniently located – five minutes walk from the main station and the same from Zongshan station. The area is very cool – full of contemporary art. Very, very cool. On our last night me and Dara found out why, while drinking beer in front of one cool building – it was the Museum of Contemporary Art, right next to our hostel. Too bad we didn’t realize it earlier.

Taipei has a lot to do: endless temples, beaches, hot springs, night markets, and shopping.  We did mainly everything.

Taiwanese temples are amazing – and it amazes me how actively Taiwanese people practice the religion. I saw monks and nuns everywhere (and envied their comfy clothes) and all the temples were full of worshipers, incense, flowers, fruits, cats, music and color.

To be honest, we missed all the “real” beaches, but I’m not a beach person anyways. I saw the sea from the train window, and we spent one night drinking beer on the riverbank in Danshui. Lotta and Anouk went to hot springs, I was too tired and I regret it now. Read more about hot spring visit from Lotta’s blog (in Finnish).

Night markets were certainly worth experiencing. We were very lucky to have Joanne and Christina, two Taiwanese girls, as our guides in Shilin Night Market. It’s known of food, and food there was. Many, many, different kinds of foods and surprisingly large variety of vegetarian stuff too – as in everywhere in Taiwan. Gotta love Buddhism.


(Bubble tea!)

Right from our hostel starts a complex of never ending underground malls, filled with  similar stores with similar products and similar prices. Compared to Korean sales personnel, Taiwanese have the touch in sales – they don’t disturb you and stare you to death, but when you need to buy something, they can actually speak enough English to get things rolling. And their fashion is cool. The thing that bothers me in Korea is that everybody here looks exactly the same. Nobody wants to stand out. I loved the variety of body types, hairstyles, color and fashion in Taipei. Loved it. And I liked how they were open to rainbow people and I saw a lot of androgynous girls and guys, so me neither had to stick with skirts and high heels. And I loved it even more when I was able to find my size everywhere. So obviously I spent like a maniac.

We happened to walk by Mitsukoshi department store at eleven, opening time. Good thing Lotta was with us, since she had experience on Japanese department stores, so she wanted to wait and see what would happen in Taipei when they open. Whoa, creepy, creepy! The doll like women bowed simultaneously, walked like robots and opened the doors for customers, who rushed in to be greeted by all personnel, neatly dressed, bowing and bidding you welcome. Freaked me out.

Wonder what happens in Taipei 101 when they open in the morning – they only have high-high class brand shops there so I guess they have something similar too. Why I went there? Well, to access the Taipei tower you need to walk through the whole shopping mall. The bookstore is worth the visit – a crazy selection of books in English. Taipei 101 is worth a visit of course – for the cute guys working there if nothing else. And it’s a perfect spot to check how they manage traffic in Taipei – they have a lot of cars, I can tell. And scooters!

Me and Lotta didn’t want to stay in the metropolis area, so on Tuesday we took a train to Hualien (3 h), from where we took a bus to Taroko  Tourist Information Center (1h) after waiting for it first for 2 hours… So even though we left Taipei at eight, we were in Taroko at 3 PM. We randomly chose one of the trails to follow, the Shakadang trail. Here, pictures:


(Btw, it’s the local bedrock that makes the water look like that)


(Honestly, everything was like from Ghibli Animation – like the Totoro leaves here)


(Or like here – suddenly, in the middle of the jungle, we have steampunk!)

We got back to the Info Center at 5.30 PM, when the second last bus was supposed to leave. It didn’t show up, nor there were any other people around. The last bus was supposed to leave at  7 PM so we waited. And waited. Took some pictures. Waited. It became dark. Saw fireflies. It became pitch black. Saw Totoro. Heard monkeys going wild. Waited.

The bus never showed up so we started walking towards any light we could see. Luckily we run into a young (cute) guy, and pleaded HAELP! The dude had as good English skills as my Swedish skills are – understand but can’t speak. But he was helpful, and called his friend who was also very cute and very fluent in English, and a cab. With brief changing of contact information we parted ways. They stayed (they work for the National Park) and we went to the nearest station – where we waited another two hours for the last train. But no worries, Family Mart is always open, so we had food and beer and we saw a giraffe. Look:

Oh yeah, one more place we visited. Near Taipei Zoo starts the Maokong gondola, which definitely is worth riding. There are many sights on the way, but we rode all the way to the mountain to taste some tea and eat our bento.

So my advice for Taiwan travellers:

a) Go for it, it’s awesome!

b) Go for it, it’s affordable!

c) Go for it, you get by with English, effortlessly. Easier than in Korea.

d) Take your hiking gear with you, there is a lot of nature worth seeing!

e) For day trips, leave early and check the timetables from locals.

f) Buy the Easy Money card from metro stations. Public transportation is cheap and easy and with Easy Money you can also pay in convenience stores (and get a discount), rent bikes, ride the Maokong gondola and who knows what else.

g) Exchange some money beforehands. Most places don’t take cards, but you can withdraw money in convenience stores.

h) Go to tea shops – they let you taste the tea before you buy it.

i) Go to night markets – they give free samples.

j) Watch out for mosquitoes, I’m still itching!

k) Don’t be surprised by the Jpop and Kpop influence.

l) Honestly, the Traditional Crafts Market or what ever, south from main station, is not worth your visit. Or maybe it is if you want to buy expensive cheap stuff in a clinic, AC’d environment, listening to lounge music. But that was the only place I was able to find a paper umbrella :>

Feelin exhausted, creative, and very, very Finnish

Hi dudes!

Next week is the mid-term week and that means a lot here. Even though 벚꽃, cherry blossom, is awesome and everywhere, people are studying like crazy. It even affected my lazy ass and I’ve been studying too. It feels good, to use my little gray cells for something. I don’t take it as far as Koreans – they spend nights at the uni library and even have study group meetings all weekend – but I do use my spare time in the club room, studying, and often stay there until late night. Or… we might do this:

I was a bit concerned when I decided to study in Korea. I knew they are hard ass math freaks (which I surely am not). I thought I would have hard time trying to catch up. I was partly right – they have way better math skills than I do (which on the other hand is not that hard to achieve, I suck), but I also have skills they don’t. Creative thinking, that is.

My teacher (yeah, Mikko) once told me Finns are appreciated because of their ability to think creatively and outside the box. I didn’t really pay much thoughts on that, until now. I find myself being sometimes the only one in my class who can visualize past and future stages or possible variants. Or even draw flowcharts. Or suggest new things or improvements. And this is all thanks to Finnish education system – we do encourage students to think, not just swallow something that the teachers decide to pour in. But I wish teachers demanded more from us. Me – I only do what I have to do, I would never do more.

So sometimes in class I feel utterly stupid, but the next moment I might be the only one who has something to say. It’s partly because I’m years senior to my classmates and partly because I have been through more than they will in next ten years, but also because of the Finnish background. I do realize how little I know. I should study more. A lot. I’ve been lazing around too long. I’m kinda in the verge of finding my thing. Let’s hope I’ll figure it out soon.

Don’t worry, it’s not like I study all the time. I’ve gone to places. To do stuff. Here’s proof:

Picnic at Teletubby Hill. We made Finnish (universal) pancakes with Lotta. And ordered food – the delivery guys know where to take it if you ask them to bring it to Teletubby Hill.

Had some beers with the girls. These are the “side dishes” to go with the drinks (we already ate the mozzarella sticks). These and 3 l of beer cost us 27000w – 19 e.

Went to see cherry blossoms in Seoul, with a friend. This is from Yeouido Park and the general area around.


Of course my camera battery ran out right before we found the cherry trees. But I got a snap from the campus instead, right in front of the Dpt of Engineering

The weekend before our Current Issues course (from which I dropped out) made a field trip to Seoul. So I managed to see the palace I missed on my first week.

In Chinese horoscope I was born on the year of Pig, so I took a picture with this fellow:

In front of the Tourism Bureau Something we saw these dudes, replicating a traditional Korean wedding. Their hats are very fancy and mesmerizing

And we had a party and went clubbing with the professor… but that part of culture we knew fairly well already. The club, btw, was very crowded and full of guys. Dancing guys. Guys don’t dance in Finland.

YEP. Heippa!

PS. I got a package from a dear friend. Salmiakki <3 But now I miss her and Finland even more.

Julius and different kinds of pools

My Finnish friend who is studying in Japan came to Seoul for vacation and of course we needed to meet. He was very much the same as back in Finland – it was good to see him again. We went venturing Myong-dong and N Seoul Tower. Here’s evidence:



Lately I’ve been horribly busy with studies. I dropped two of my six courses coz I didn’t have enough time to do the homework. Even now I should be working on an ecodesign project. Basically I’ve been relaxing by playing pool with my friends. My skills suck and the old guys try to peek under my skirt, but it’s fun. There are tons of pool places around the campus, but only one has the normal pocket ball table – here they play four-ball.

Another kind of pool that has been very relaxing is in Jimjilbang – Korean public bath. A variety of tubs with fantasy colored water in different temperatures, very hot saunas where you sit on the floor (comfier than in Finland, IMHO), massage tables, a common area where you can take a nap, several different steam rooms and even an ice room. Apparently the fancy jimjilbangs in Busan even have strawberry milk baths… Well, we went to the nearest jimjilbang (6000w, 4,5 e) with Lotta today and boy it was smooth! So relaxing. It’s gonna be our Sunday tradition from now on.

What else? The magnolias are blooming. Soon it’s the cherry blossom season. The weather is awesome (17 degrees), except for the yellow dust.  And we got our university baseball jackets. Cool, eh?

Anyways, ask me questions and I’ll answer. Toodles.

Everland… and the Japan crisis

Yes, by far everything is okay in Korea, even though the earthquake in Japan was devastating and the situation in Fukushima nuclear plant is still extremely unstable. Luckily the wind is blowing towards the Pacific Ocean. I find it rather relevant to keep following the wind situation, but no one here is panicking over it. Finnish Embassy in Seoul asked Finnish citizens to update their contact information, so I let them know my local phone number. That’s all I’ve done.

I joined Friends Club and went to Everland with them last weekend. Everland is a HUGE theme park close to Suwon. HUGE. And so were the lines. The main attraction was this:

T-express

The T-express

On the first day we waited on a line for 70 minutes and on the second day for 90 minutes (because one of the cars was broken and they operated with only one car). But it was worth it… the first fall was almost 90 degrees and the ride was long enough. Everything else felt quite lame afterwards.

The weather was very nice so the place was packed with dating couples and families. The staff managed to hide their deep hatred towards the songs and choreographies  they had to do while operating the devices. Oh, I think this crew actually had fun, although it doesn’t really show on the picture:

We were hanging out with this group:

They are all really sweet and nice and they look especially cute when they try on cutesy merchandise like Tha here:
Tha

or me and Anouk here:

After the dinner we had a house party… they call it member training here. MT equals to lots of beer, soju, music and drinking games. They have a lot of games – most of them really fun. I’ll try to learn them and bring them home.

Here’s what Björn thought of the party:

BIG SHOW… and yeah the school started too

The orientation day at Ajou held in just as many PowerPoint presentations as I expected. Quite a many that is. But the information was useful and very down to earth and the lunch buffet was overwhelming and huge. Lots of vegetarian choices too! The OIA staff seems really nice and helpful and the AGA members are hard working folk. I figured out my course schedule and I have Fridays off! Yay!

Awsome lunch is awesome.
Spot the Finns

Then the main course – BIG SHOW 2011, first one of the three Big Bang concerts. Korean pop – K-pop for short – is a huge thing all over Asia, as well as among freaks particular music diggers all around the world. Big Bang has been one of the most popular groups for years – if not the most popular. It was also my first contact with K-pop so I didn’t think twice when Ryo mentioned Puu had and extra ticket (I didn’t even know it was possible to get the tickets, but Puu’s amazing). Here’s a shining example of their music (with Seagways and a tank) – GD&TOP’s 뻑이가요.

There is a straight bus from Ajou to where I was aiming, but I was too stupid to find it… and I was running late so I just took the route I knew. A long route. And crowded. And sweaty. Quite a lot of staring occurred too. But I got there on time, finally, and managed to spot Puu’s amazing pink hair in midst of thousands of screaming tiny fans. After hours of waiting we finally got to our standing area, which was pretty well located – we managed to see the guys up close, really close.
Big Bang

Every Big Bang fan.
Every Big Bang fan.

The show was big business. Thousands of screaming fans holding up their crown-shaped light sticks and chanting fan chants to every song, laser show, fireworks, Seagways, pink tank, hilarious parody fan service version (which might have been a bit gay) of popular drama Secret Garden, confetti and the amazing charisma those guys ooze. Even my hardened iceberg of a heart fluttered, and not just a little. Oh I just admit it, I was totally into it, in my moderate Finnish way. Not as much as those little ones though, they were a bit scary, but luckily so small that I could hold my place if I wanted. Nothing compared to moshpits of huge drunk neo-nazis back in Finland.

The taxi ride from Olympic Park to Hongdae was scary, but Puu said it was actually pretty good compared to average. IT WAS FREAKING SCARY. I calmed down when I got food. Really spicy tofu soup and those good side dishes they offer at BBQ places. That place’s gotta be my favorite, the staff was lovely. And I almost cried when I got back to the hostel and saw a group of good people I met last week. I was so happy to see them again and it felt like coming home. And I was only away for one night.

So I guess this is the honeymoon period of culture shock? I’ll give you pictures when I get back to dorms tomorrow.

PS. Wives, I would have bought some fan stuff for you but they sold it out hours before I got there.

PPS. For some reason everything I’ve done so far has been a bit gay… and this was supposed to be a conservative country! Or is it just me?

Noraebang and free dinners

I got real home made tteokbokki  – there’s an awesome lady staying at the hostel and she makes delicious food! Tteokbokki is a sort of Korean pasta stew. There is strange, but delicious rice pasta, chili sauce, onions, spring onions and fish cake in it. (I gave my fish cakes away and tried to ignore the possibility of fish sauce in the broth.) The taste was rich and a bit hot. I was afraid it would be more spicy, but it wasn’t too bad.

I tasted Hongdae nightlife yesterday with my new-made friends from the hostel. Of course I didn’t bring my camera, who would want to take pictures of awesome margarita bongs and crazy fashion, smoke bubbles and shabby karaoke rooms?

Hongdae is, I was told, the mecca for cool kids and freaky fashion. The Americans knew how things roll here and lead us through the masses of party people. We started our night in Margarita Splash, which was a funky and colorful little store that served drinks in bong like huge bottles (15000 won). Too bad I didn’t take a picture, but I stole this from Soul Food blog.

margarita splash

Continuing to Cuccoon Noraebang – a karaoke room – to sing and to try some local alcohol beverages was a great idea. Makgeolli was pretty good, it’s milk colored rice beer and it tastes just like kotikalja but goes into your head. Soju is pretty much Koskenkorva, but made of rice. Weak vodka. The local beers, maekju, are mostly lagers and brewed from rice, so they have no bitter aftertaste and the flavor is rather weak. Easy to drink though. Maybe too easy (is what I have been thinking all day). We finalized the tour with this really funky upstairs bar with sisha and soap bubbles. (Noraebang 15000 won/hour, Sisha 18000 won, local draft beer 4000 won)

EDIT: went there next day to take a picture. A crappy picture.

gr8

Today has been almost useless, but we went to see a movie (9000 won / person) with Luce at Lotte Cinema (right next to Hongik Station). The movie, 127 hours, was based on a true story of a trekker who got stuck in a canyon and spent 127 hours trying to collect his guts to cut off his hand and escape. In which he finally succeeded. The camera work was awesome, but the speakers at the theater were really loud. Next time I will bring my earplugs.

Lotte Cinema

Notions:

  • There doesn’t seem to be any legislation controlling the opening/closing times, so you could probably greet the sunrise happily drunk.
  • You can walk with your drink on the streets
  • There seems to be no legislation controlling the amount of alcohol bars are allowed to serve per customer. I got mine with some eight or ten shots of booze.
  • They also sell drinks to-go. In plastic zip lock bags even.
  • The red light sign in the taxis indicates they’re free. That doesn’t mean they’ll take you on if you are going somewhere near.
  • The traffic is crazy.
  • The fashion is crazy too.
  • You can smoke in bars. Sometimes they have smoking cubicles, but usually not. You can also smoke on the streets, which wasn’t always allowed in Japan.
  • Korean students can have a massive drinking party at the hostel and it can dissolve in seconds. They even wash the dishes.

Leaving home

laksiaiset

(some of the farewell presents)

Whoa, dudes! I had the most amazing farewell party on Wednesday. Even the police dropped by (it’s not that anything seriously dramatic happened, the upstairs neighbor just didn’t like our mixed choir). I love my friends, even those bastards who “had something better to do”. Like work. Who works in the middle of the week, I ask ya? Anyways, thank you everybody! Now I feel like I can screw up and ruin my reputation overseas all I want, and come back like nothing happened.

This is my last night home (still a couple of nights in Finland though). I’ve been scanning the remaining documents, writing down addresses and doing things I should have done days ago. Like laundry. And packing. It feels ridiculous to pack thin shirts and sunglasses while the climate here in Yli-Ii is arctic. It’s minus 31 and getting colder. I just burned my hand with a door handle and if you’ve ever experienced minus 30 you understand why I say it burned. A freezing cold metal surface burns the skin just like hot iron. Stupid, stupid me! I wonder how the weather is in Korea right now? Should be some plus 4 degrees.

HOT NEWS:

viisumi2

(My visa arrived on Wednesday!)

Things to ponder:

  1. I’ve lost my mp3 player AND my headphones. Who was stupid enough to steal such crap? Was I wise enough to just lose them somewhere?
  2. I still haven’t made any plans for the first week – I’m thinking about the Korea Rail Pass, Pusan area and stuff, but can’t make any decisions. The least I should do is to get accommodation for the first night. Not a good idea to sleep in the park in wintertime.
  3. Tomi’s farewell party on Saturday and I should wear something red. Is plastic bag okay?
  4. DID I FORGET SOMETHING! I’m sure I did and it’s something crucial and I’m gonna die as soon as I step out of the plane. Yeah right.

Yes, thank you, I’m tired. Happy travels, me!

Wrapping things up: Goodbyes pt. 2

I’ve been doing quite a lot of miscellaneous stuff this weekend.

  • I re-packed my tough-guy backpack – with the travel guides it’s 9,4 kilos. Still alright I’d say.
  • I gave the local registry office my new address in Korea, using Finnish Post’s on-line service. I hope they’ll send me my ballot papers for the election so I can vote in Seoul!
  • I made a travel announcement to the Foreign Ministry – in case of emerging crisis in Korea.
  • I met with Lotta. We’ve only met briefly in blog meeting before – now we had time for lunch.
  • I met couple of my friends in Jyväskylä to say goodbye and enjoy (weird) good music in Lutakko. It was awsum! AWSUM.
  • I went to meet my grandma, aunt and uncle in Ähtäri (to say goodbye – obviously)
  • I also made reservation for travel currency. I’m going to pick my money up from Helsinki central railwaystation’s Forex. Hopefully 500 000 won is enough to get started – that’s about 360 euros. Won bills are so small (50 000 won is the largest bill) I’ll end up looking like a pimp daddy with my money clip. I don’t want to carry too much money with me – I’m not trustworthy! Which brings me to…
  • Got a new credit/debit card. Debit from my account, credit from dad’s. WOHOO! PARTEE! Now I need to learn my PIN. It’s *****
  • Canceled my farewell party as I misread and messed up my schedule.
  • Made plans for new party and my friend’s party. He’s off to Shanghai. Wai cool!
  • Was that all? Hope so… more to come.

Oh, I really hope my Student Visa arrives by Thursday. I need to be in Jyväskylä on Friday at noon. And I really hope I wasn’t too sedated when I sent the papers. I already realized I forgot to sign one paper… I think I need to call them tomorrow to check if everything is as should.

I’m excited and nervous and haven’t got a clue what to do on the first week! Ideas?

PS. If I changed all my money to wons I’d be a multi millionaire. Is that cool or what?

PPS. Don’t go blaming me if you don’t get any postcards! I have received so few addresses from you I start wondering if I have friends at all. Forever alone…