Tag Archives: traveling

The magic of travelling

After three weeks of travelling in Japan and Hong Kong I came back to Taipei. I felt a bit dissapointed when I looked out of the bus window and felt nothing special. No special feelings, no excitement of awe of new things. Well there was no new things here so I guess it shouldn’t be surprise. Still, it was a bit of a surprise for me. I watched my familiar surroundings with a bit of a dull feeling until I got clores the university. Then I suddenly started feeling like coming back to home. That was odd and I wasn’t really expecting that. But when I saw the the golden light of setting sun on buildings down hill when I pushed my luggage uphill and bumped to some familiar faces waiting for my room key. It was like I never left. Okay, it was only for 3 weeks that I was gone, but it felt like a lifetime.

In Japan everything is so organized, clean and almost peacefull all the time and in Hong Kong I felt like being in a comletly different universe with all those high high buildings and amazing views.. Before I had a thought that all the places in Asia were similar to each other somehow, but as I spend more time here I notice how stupid idea that has been. Every place has their own athmosphere and specialities. Those things that make you even like it or hate it or both. In Japan I love gardens but I don’t like how people can’t communicate in English. I love how easy it is to find new things in a big city and feel that nature is close even though all those millons of people. I love how I start to recognize places in anime and notice familiarity where there was oddity before. In Hong Kong I love the tall buildings and light at night. I don’t like how people don’t act considerate in MTR.

In Taiwan I love so many things and I feel that all the time those things multiply. There is some things I don’t like here, for example that people can’t use public toilets properly and there is always a huge mess or that every time there is a map they have turned it to other way around than in the place I saw the same map before.

Now I have my room organized and I am feeling positive about my summer school. Only four weeks left and then I have to get back to the reality called Finland.

Home sweet home

I have to admit that sometimes I miss Finland. I don’t feel too stressed or sad here though and I think that my ordinary life here is really similar to my life in Finland. I study and then I come back home (tired) and try to do some school stuff and keep in contact with my friends. Not that much difference there. Weekends still get my adventure-and-holiday mode up, but not that easily than before. Last weekend I noticed that even though being on high mountain was really nice and relaxing, it didn’t give me those special kind of feelings like at first when I travelled in Taiwan. Taiwan specialities start to feel like everyday normal stuff. It is kind of fun, but kind of sad too.

wulai

Not that special amazing place at Wulai.

Most I miss my kitchen. The possibility to cook and being able to decide what to eat. Taiwanese food is really good! But it is still a bit gluten stuffed, so I need to be careful with what I eat. That is something that really gets me tired. Last week I bought a cup and it made me really happy. Now I have a small opportunity to “cook” meaning I can decide if I want tea or hot chocolate and if I want tea do I want honey with it. That really makes a world of difference! I have some control here now. 😀

kuppi

My precious..!

Other thing I miss back home is the sunlight. Believe or not, I feel almost like in Finnish winter here sometimes. Well, when I go to hospital there is light and when I get there is light, but only for about 1 hour. That really confuses me sometimes. This time of year sun sets after 10 PM in Finland. Couple weeks ago I almost got some winter crumpy feelings when I felt that it is always dark here. Oh, how I miss that amount of light!

I have always been good calling different places home. Home is where I have my pillow! If I’m travelling and I live in hotel you can hear me say “lets go back home” when I mean my room at hotel. Couple days ago I bought tickets to Tokyo. I decided the day I will leave here and it made me feel weird. I realized that somehow I feel that this is my home now.. It is always a bit sad to leave from home. It was a bit strange to notice this feeling of mine. I didn’t expect to feel at home here. Not in a dorm and with different language. And here I am, two months abroad and I already feel like home.

Crazy crazy traffic

My local friends warned me that I need to be more careful while walking in Taipei than I am in Finland. Really soon I noticed that it is true. Even thought this is not the worst traffic I have seen there is some differences I should keep in mind.

1. Scooters!

In JyvĂ€skylĂ€ people use bicycles to go everywhere. Here people use scooters. There is so many of those kamikaze-like drivers with their scooters here that I really need to keep my eyes (and ears) open every time I cross roads. With a scooter it is not that serious if you drive in orderly fashion or not. Scooters are small and they DO use it to their advantage. Too small for a car? No problem, scooter can go through. Not enought space to have two cars besides each other? No worreis, with scooter you can have three! I have seen whole familys on one scooter: Best this far is parents and two kids. On one scooter. Usually parents have helmets but kids don’t always have those. I have seen babyseat on scooter (you know the space where you would usually put your feet? It was there). I have seen people riding with their dogs ar with their work equipment. One day I saw a man riding a scooter with a ladder and some painting equipment. I don’t know how they do that.. 😀

skootteri

Some scooters waiting for their turn.

2. Busses..

Okay. You might think that it is scary if someone offers you a ride with a scooter. I have mainly declined from those, but I tried once and actually it felt a lot safer than some bussrides I have had. There is quite a many people living in here, so when you take a buss usually somebody else is taking it too. There is some seats so if you are lucky you can get one. Of course trying to be polite and offer the seats for the older people. After that there is some hook thingies coming from the roof that you can hold on to. And after the bus is full you really don’t need to hold on to anything because there is so many people that you wouldn’t move anyways. Yeah, well it is not that nice to have some sweaty fat old man leaning to you even when it is not neccessary. And prepare yourself for lining up on the buss stop. Even though the first buss might not have enough room for you.

3. Trains.

Everybody in Finland always says bad things about VR (our railwaycompany). It is true that trains are too costly and thay are sometimes late. Before this trip I never thought that being late could be from something good. For example here, if you have lined up fot train and you haven’t even got to the train yet but train needs to leave. Then you just need to wait for the next train. In Finland trains wait for people. No wonder they are sometimes late.. With seats trains are the same as busses. You can get a seat if you pay more or are fast enough. Othervise you will stand. There are some trains that you need to buy the seat ticket, but for the slower ones you don’t need to.

juna

Insides of a moving train.

junakartta

Trainroute map.

4. MRT!

Mass rapid transit aka metro or subway or whatever. Really convenient! Goes almost everywhere and you don’t need to wait for long tome to get one. Just remember that it is not allowed to eat, drink or chew gum in the MRT. I will really mis this one when I get back to Finland.

portti

Don’t jump under the train gate and waiting line. Oh yes, you need to line up!

kielto

Don’t do this!

All this is quite easy, because there is EasyCard. It is kind of travel card where you can load money on it and use it to pay for MRT, train (some of them), busses and Ubikes (rent a bike).

Bu the way. I have noticed that people think you are strange if you want to walk somewhere. Or climb stairs.

Cha Cha Cha!

Cha is mandarin chinese and means tea. Yesterday we two physiotherapists and one Finnish nurse (my roommate) went to Maokong hill. The trip there was simply amazing. First we took a gondola elevator which went quite fast. First it felt like being in a rollercoaster but after while I got used to it. The view was great. We could see part of the Taipei city and surrounding “hills” (Finn would call them mountains).

gondola

The view from the gondola. Maokong hill stop was about 300 m high.

After we got up there we were a bit hungry so we decided to find a teahouse, since the area is known for its tea. We picked one place at random because it seemed to have a nice terrace facing the cityview. It was just perfect! First we were a bit hesitating because we didn’t need to pay only for tea and snacks but also for the seats at the terrace. I glad we decided that it was worth it because it totally was. And in the end it was only about 370 NTD (about 9 €) per person.

parvekenÀkymÀ

A set to prepare tea and some snacks at the terrace.

Our waitress showed us how to prepare tea properly and after that we just sat there for 3 hours drinking tea. We must have made at least 15 teapotfulls of that tea. We decided to stay to see sunset, because the view was just too great and we left after the citylights went on only to find out that there was a full moon at the other side of the gongola station. The expression on my travel companions face was great when he saw the moon: “wait a minute.. One shining ball just went down there, what is that?!?”

On our way down we admired the citylights on the other side and the fullmoon on the other riding the cabin in almost complete darkness just listening the silent hurring sound of the elevator and chirping (?) of the insects and birds from the forest we were crossing over. Just perfect I tell you!

How to prepare cha: (My tealoving friends, you must not judge me if I don’t remember everything correctly)

huuhtelu

Pour boilig water to the pot and over it to warm the pot.

kuppihuuht

Pour that same water to the teacups to warm them up.

kaato

Pour that water out using wooden pinching thingy so that you don’t burn your fingers.

teentÀyttö

Add tealeaves to the pot filling it to 1/4 and add water. Leave it be for about 15-20 s.

kannuun kaato

Pour this first set of tea to another pot through a strainer.

1haudutus

Pour the tea to the cups and then pour it away since you don’t drink the first brewing.

kuppi

Fill the pot again and wait for 20 s. Pour the tea as explained before and then you have your first cup of tea you can actually drink according to all fine rules of tea brewing.

tyhjennys

You can use the same tealeaves for about 6-7 brewing. Then just take out used leaves and start from the beginning.

First week accomplished!

I left from Finland about a week ago. How I feel? Confused.. I have been having this vacation feeling because we don’t have that many classes at the moment. We have had time to see stuff, hike, walk, eat, adventure.. You know, the basic holiday stuff. Today I realized that after couple of weeks this feeling will probably go away. When the real deal starts. It is a bit scary.. It means that I have to accept that I’ll have my boring weekday routine, just like home. Actually I don’t know.. This is all just a bit confusing at the moment. I feel like I don’t want to have a routine and basic weekday stuff, but having everyday adventure for 3 monts will be a hard task to accomplish.

panda

Chiang Kai-Shek Memoriall Hall entrygate.

Am I energetic enought to change my daily routine from what I have at home? I hope so. I’m boring at home. But maybe I’m demanding a bit too much from myself. If I continue this, I will just stress about having fun. Sounds reasonable right? 😀 Well, that is me. Usually I have one or two things I stress about, without any real reason.

maisema

“the Battleship” rock from Mt. Junjianyan.

It will be interesting to see what happens!

Thoughts about leaving

This going to abroad for 4 months thing is really not my  kind of thing at all. I am a person who always wants to know everything beforehand. How things are done and what is the right way to do things. I’m terribly afraid of failure and I don’t like to try new things if I don’t know what is expected of me. I like rules and structure and boring stuff. It makes me feel safe and in control of the situation. Why on earth am I going to Taiwan?

I already pity my travel companion, since he is the one who will see the worst part. I like travelling alone because then it doesn’t matter how many times I check the timetable or my tickets or the flight gate or time or what ever. Once in Amsterdam I checked five times that I was going to the right platform while waiting for the train. In worst cases I check something and walk couple of steps just to turn around and check it just one more time to be sure. Luckily my travel companion is maybe the most relaxed guy I have ever met.

All in all.. Even though this is not something I usually do or maybe just because that is the case, I’m really excited. I trust that I will learn a lot. Not just about school stuff but about life and myself. Sometimes you just have to go to places and situations you are not comfortable with. Otherwise evolving doesn’t happen. What is the point of being the same all the time if there is a chance to be better?

kalenteri

8 days!

Almost ready to go!

I have been feeling unreal about this trip to Taiwan. There has been so much school work to do that I have had no time even to think about leaving Finland. I’m happy that we have a weeks holiday! That usually means more time to prepare for exams etc.. Now I had to get a grip and do something useful about upcoming trip too.

So today I took some painkillers (I’m recovering from a wisdom tooth suddenly disappearing from my mouth with some help of a doctor) and headed to town. I have had permanent travel insuranse that covers trips up to 45 days, but it is not enough now. To increase my insured days to almost 4 months I have to pay 160 e. This is sad day for my wallet, but I think my mom will be happy now.  I also did some other things my mom would be proud. This includes making notification of traveling to Finland’s Ministery of Foreing Affairs. Now I can rest asured that if there is an earthquake and my house falls, somebody comes to find me. Maybe.

Adding to these brave things I went to shopping. Disapointingly I didn’t find what I was looking for. I was trying to find a nice adapter, one that you can use everywhere you go. Gigantti only had different kinds of adapters. Well, maybe I will find it somewhere else. Still, my bravery didn’t fail me! I continued my adventure on the wonderful world of internet. I know I have said this before, but thank god we have so many helpfull staff at school to push us through all the paperwork and things related to that. We have this list of things you should do before the trip and when I checked it today I had done it all! What a relief!

9 days…