In this journal:
I fish through a hole on a river;
I barbeque in the frozen forest;
I got scammed by the real Santa Claus.
If you have not read the crucial background information about this trip, please go to the Introduction page of this series of journals, linked above.
This particular journal is Class P category, a hybrid between a trip report a frequent flyer would do, and a normal travel journal I typically write. For later ones in this series, it will be leaning towards more towards the destinations than flights. If you just want to see the non-aviation related parts, skip to Santiago and Rovaniemi sections.
Here We Go!
As I stepped into the brand new Incheon Terminal 2, I was shocked. Last time I was here during C.A.T.17/18, I used the old one, and this new terminal opened just days prior to my visit. Man was this a beautiful, airy, well-lit facility! I checked in, and then checked out the stunning decor in this enormous glass building. I bet it would look gorgeous on a sunny day, but sadly, for all 4 times that I visited, it was never sunny, blame the smog from China!
terminal 2 decor
I boarded my Korean Air flight to Madrid. 13 hours and a half was starting to get painful in economy. After my LATAM business experience to Easter Island, or the Qatari Hop all the way to Argentina, or the Japan Airlines free upgrade, I had been spoiled by all the great business classes around the world, so this trip, exclusively done in economy, is gonna be a tough one on my spine. In fact, I would probably be so badly out of shape by the end of this, I would probably be spherical. Wait, I already am!?
Interestingly, it was just my second time taking a longhaul Korean Air flight, and they surely did not disappoint with the stellar food. Not only was every passenger offered 3 choices of meals, but also there were difficult options to execute on a flight such as bibimbap, the Korean mixed rice even hard to pull off well on the ground. They also have the special soup bowls that have freeze-dried seaweed, so the hostesses could easily serve a bowl of classic seaweed soup by just pouring hot water in.
Iberia lounge, Madrid Barajas T4S
After a few naps and movies, I finally reached Madrid’s Barajas airport. One thing I love and hate about this beautiful facility is that it is soooo big and so airy, which makes nice transit viewing experience but long, long transfer times. To get from Terminal 1 where I landed to Terminal 4S where my LATAM flight would depart was 1 solid hour. First I had to wait in a hallway with no seats for a bus that may or may not come, and the first time I did this in C.A.T.17/18 the lady just told me to clear immigration and take the ground transport instead because she did not want to call a bus. Then after the half an hour wait was a long bus ride, since all terminals are kilometers apart. Security and formalities later was another train ride to the satellite terminal, just great.
food in the lounge
Great thing about this experience, however, was that I could be rewarded with a nice lounge in the end. Iberia has a nice space offering higher end amenities from shower to napping areas, which was perfect after a 13 hour flight, and before another one. Sure, this is not Cathay Pacific’s the Wing or Qatar’s Al Safwa, but there is no denying that it sufficed as their major hub lounge. I picked up numerous sushi, paella, pasta and salad, chugged a huge glass of wine, took a shower, and passed out on the day bed.
horrible design of LATAM’s 767 seat
By midnight, it was time for my flight to Lima. I had no choice, to maximize the miles I get, I have to fly into Lima and then transit somewhere far, like Guayaquil, Bogota, or Sao Paolo, and continue to Santiago. I would prefer the 787 to Santiago directly, but tis the life I live in now. For the first time in my life, I experienced how bad these old birds were first hand. Seats were old, very, old. The thick seats robbed most of my leg room, and I could not even extend my legs because of the thick support underneath, along with a giant entertainment box. The touchscreen almost never worked for all 8 times I flew this kind of plane, and god do not get me started with the horrendous entertainment controller. Who the fuck came up with the idea to put it on the SIDE of the handle??? I am not clinically obese, but sometimes just moving my hips so I would not become one with the filthy seating would bump into the buttons, causing the movie to immediately exit, and guess what? The system was apparently from early 1990s, so I had to manually hit “down” 100+ times so I could reach the movie again, fast forward for half an hour to reach the part I had, and then pray to god this tragedy does not happen again, if it had not happened already. Oh and did I mention that it took almost a full second for each click to register? The armrests also cannot be fully raised, so there is no poor man’s business class here either.
1 plate meal
Then let’s talk about soft product. The single plate meals LATAM serve have been really controversial. I love the higher quality of food on these flights, but the amount is truly pathetic. Who would have thought 6 slices of potatoes and 2 slices of beef would not sufficiently feed a grown Latino man over 6 feet tall? And the packaged sweet just looks like an inadequate correction to a moronic oversight. Not to mention, none of the 8 times I had flown this route had the cold plate advertised on the menu. In fact, for 2 of them, none of the meals were on the menu… Then why do you even bother handing it out? What a joke. The crew also were hit and miss. For some times they were alright, but for some others they were incredibly rude and bad at their jobs. I asked for a plate written on the menu, and the hostess rudely replied:”I said many times I do not have this meal, do you want to eat or not?” Also once I needed a blanket because I did not get one, and the cabin was freezing cold (oh yeah that is an issue too, sometimes it felt like AC was turned to max for no reason, you could see people shuddering with two winter coats on!), and nobody ever came. I turned it off and back on, 7 times in an hour, still nobody came. It was definitely one of the worst long haul experiences I have had.
Santiago de Chile
It was funny that I thought I would not return to Chile for a while after my first time there during the Voyage South. Let’s see… I came back during the Easter Island portion of Round’aWorld 2017, then mere months later back again during C.A.T.17/18. Now, I would have to swing by every other week! As a result, if you want to see more about the city, I would not divulge too much space here, but please do check out the previous 3 times that I was here.
After settling down in my hostel, I finally had a bit of time to visit Bellas Artes, the beautiful museum that was closed the first time I came by the city. It housed mostly replica sculptures and physical arts, and the interior itself was definitely more of an attraction than the items on display. The grand 1910 building built for the celebration of the centennial of Chile Independence, this building is in an overtly beaux-arts style, unlike Mexico City’s Bellas Artes.
full, healthy and balanced meal for 4 dollars!
still waiting for player 2
I took a long walk along the city center afterwards, as I had nothing else to do on this fine autumn day. Eventually I reached Plaza de Armas, where I had seen so much last time almost a year and half ago. I sat down by a few empty tables labelled “Santiago Chess Club”, and wondered: what does it mean to have traveled the world, when I could not even fathom what it is like to have a little world of my own, to be loved, to be hated, to have a bit of time that I can share with people that would not leave me in 5 minutes? I waited, and waited, for a second player to join me, yet just like me on the bench of love, yet nobody came. I felt like an invisible pawn, on the chessboard of life.
inside Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago
I also got a chance to finally visit the magnificent Metropolitan Cathedral, which was closed last time I attempted to enter. The building had been here for centuries, but this version was completed after 5 decades of hard work in 1800. All previous versions had been destroyed in a myriad of earthquakes that this region had basically become so familiar with.
LATAM premium passenger check in
After a few days just chilling on top of the buildings and sipping mote con huesillo, I began my trip “back” to Europe. Nothing big, just one of the many times that I would get to Europe from Asia via South America. A quick bus ride took me back to the airport, and I finally found the premium check in line at Santiago airport, despite the fact that last time the employees told Christine and me there was no such thing while we were on our way to Easter Island. After the premium check in, I held my 5 boarding passes, went through a special immigration stall just for premium passengers, and entered the beautiful lounge LATAM has for Oneworld members, right after the dedicated premium security. Now that was a streamlined service!
Food quality was pretty good, and the decor was brilliant. Lots of natural light, and the view of tarmac was not bad either, especially from the second floor. However, the construction going on in Santiago indeed soured the mood a little bit. The food had a bit of local flair, which I appreciated. For example, the fruit salad had prickly pears (fruit of cactus) and nice cold dishes always involved some quinoa, as here is the true home of this grain, not overpriced on top of some shelf in a Whole Foods.
Guayaquil, Lima, Madrid, Helsinki…
The flight to Guayaquil was rather eventless, as the 4 hour ride on the small 737 had no detail to tell. I had never been in Guayaquil before, as my last time in Ecuador only brought me as far as Alausi. I also was just in transit, so I simply walked out of the airport, walked towards my hostel just right next to the airport. Great thing about airports like this is that no transportation is necessary!
Next day was an easy walk back to the airport after a night sweating in the non-air-conditioned room. The kois in the enormous pond in front of the airport is a very nice touch by the designers, as it made me feel more Asian than some modernist airports in Asia working so hard to be “western”. I boarded my flight to Lima and then tried to find a lounge to go.
“Wait. What do you mean there is no lounge in Lima!?”
Yes, LATAM’s hub airport Lima has no lounge, like, period. As someone who would later pass here many, many times, it was devastating news. How am I supposed to survive on free lounge food then, huh? Limited internet, horrible lounge scene, and shockingly expensive, well, everything just sucks. Lima Airport does not need a renovation; it needs a demolition.
flying over Andes
Then 13 hours of equally frustrating flight brought me back to Madrid, when I got to go out of airport, took the metro, and slept for a good 14 hours in a homestay, cheapest I could find. It was run by a nice Dominican Republican (no, it does not mean he is a Republican named Dominic), and he picked this plaza called Santo Domingo for his homestay because it is named the same as his country… Welp, not gonna complain about nice cheap housing!
Madrd’s Santo Domingo square
Then I hurried back to the airport after some paella and salad for breakfast. Ahhh, the strange mileage run life, when you tell people you were in Madrid, but did not do anything but catching up on sleep. Yet before they raise an eyebrow, you smuggishly point out that you are gonna be there for another few dozen times…
food in the lounge
The intra-EU lounge was surprisingly good, offering a full range of packaged food. Salads, fruit cups, yogurt, wraps apparently bought from Costco… I did not care, and started munching. Even though everything was cold, I would say it was a decent spread.
Finnair lounge Helsinki
4 hours of Finnair flight brought me from the southern part of west Europe to the northern part of East Europe. Finnair is gonna be one of the three major carrier in this whole series of trips, so do not be surprised as I come by very often. One thing I love about Helsinki’s intra-EU lounge was the magnificent Nordic design. Who came up with the idea to put in a beautiful tail livery at the reception? He or she deserves a cookie!
beautiful tail design as a divider
Food was good for a lounge mostly intended for shorter flights, but given that Helsinki is in one corner of EU, there are some flights to the Canaries that can easily exceed 6 hours: that is the same time as flying to Delhi! The only little complain was the lack of variability, for the dozens of times I passed by, the food was mostly the same. Other than that: killer tarmac view, slight crowding issues, good beverage choices, and warm Finnish servers!
hahaha I am so Finnished
Finally, it was time, time to really enjoy this trip. Having 12 flights in a day for shits and giggles is great, but do you know what is even greater? Going to the Lapland for some snow, in April!!! Yes, time to head north again, and I can finally say I have visited all 5 Nordic countries in Europe: Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland.
The tiny A320 skidded on the frozen runway, slid onto the snow-covered apron, and stopped before rummaging through the terminal building, blessed by some miraculous deity. I could not believe what was in front of me. Snow, ice, frozen rivers… I had to double check the date to make sure it did not take me 8 months to fly from Helsinki here.
baggage carousel, delivered by Santa!
The moment I exited the tiny terminal in Rovaniemi, I was shocked. Yeah, I read the weather report, since I am kind of a meteorologist myself, but having just come from Ecuador 25 hours ago when it was over 38 degrees hot, I ran back into the terminal screaming in agony. It was literally freezing temperature, subzero, zilch. 40 degrees difference, in one day! I dug out everything I had, four shirts, 3 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of pants, and put them on, and waited for the public bus that was supposed to come in 15 minutes.
my plane departing
I waited, and waited, and waited. The bus arrival time had come and gone. Even my plane had turned around and gone back to Helsinki, yet no bus was in sight. I asked around the terminal, but most of the employees were just clueless. Finally, it took a servicing member to tell me that today was a national holiday, and there was no bus at all.
I was not ready to walk the 10km of frozen road into the city, so I had to hail a cab, which cost over 35 Euros, for the 15 minute ride. I could have gone earlier with a group transport bus for 8 Euros, but in order to save 5 Euros, I ended up coughing up 20 more. I am a walking nincompoop, no wonder nobody would ever like me.
on the way to town
I got off the cab, and ran straight for cover from the harsh Arctic elements in my hostel, which costs about the same price as a 5 star hotel in Bolivia. I went in the Finnish sauna, and forgot about all these tears and suffering. AHHHHHH~! In a country where there are more saunas than cats, and more cats than cars, this is the best thing one can do after a long day of shuddering in the cold. Oh, and don’t forget to beat yourself up with birch branches. Why? You gotta.
Rovaniemi’s prominent Jätkänkynttilä, with 2 skiers
Welcome, to the Finnish Lapland, the northernmost part of this frigid nation, so cold that it is more common to have motorskis than car, snowboards than bicycles, and a reindeer than a dog. Ok maybe the last one was a bit of an overstatement. However, hailed as the home of the real Santa Claus, besides the real Santa Claus homes in Russia, Alaska and Canada, Rovaniemi is also the most touristy, perfect for my first time in Finland. I originally planned to go to Ivalo or Kittilä, since for me they cost as much as I paid for Rovaniemi: free, but I decided to familiarize with me being in super cold situations like here first, because everyone said it is different than the cold I normally encountered in the Norwegian Arctic, Iceland, or Antarctica. Indeed, when I walked around in the city on the sunny morning next day, it felt, somewhat different. As I looked down the frozen river with the bridge Jätkänkynttilä (doesn’t it just rolls right off the tongue~!) , nicknamed as Lumberjack’s Candle Bridge (seriously what is it about Finnish people’s imagination?), I felt warm, yet my toes were being frozen off.
No other place that I had been to had this kind of coldness. Layers and layers of snow piled onto everything, making every corner of the city foolishly white, giving a bright feeling while in fact, your foot and face crack open like a chestnut in a roast pan due to the dry winds. As my lips bled down my throat, I walked onto the frozen riverbed. Yes. This is traveling. Walking on a river frozen over in April, life is truly a strange thing for me. I encountered a local Finnish family, with the younger kids and the father coming from Helsinki. I stood by and watched them drilling holes on the ice, thinking that they were just having fun doing exercise.
selfie with the Finnish family!
“Oh come, come!” the grandma waved me in, asked me to inspect closer. A hole was dug in the ground (ice), and she handed me a tiny fishing rod. Oh, ice fishing, neat! It completely skipped my mind that it was my first time doing anything close to fishing other than eating one. Only thing I knew was that according to brochures I read in town, this activity apparently costs 90EUR when you go on a tour, and I just saved myself from donating my only kidney left.
happy Young is a nice Young~!
I always had known the warm hospitality of the Finnish people, once you get through their timid facade, that is. I never expected to be welcomed with open arms and fresh holes, though. (Editing Young’s note: Oh god this sounds so wrong when taken out of context.) I even tried drilling a few just to see how deep the ice was at the time. It turned out to be over 1.5 meters thick, like northern Canada in the dead of winter. But this is Finland, and let me remind you the 100th time: IT WAS BLOODY APRIL!!!
OMG CAUGHT ONE CAUGHT ONE~!!!
As I chatted on, I suddenly felt a tugging sensation in my hand. Quickly reeling in, I caught my first fish, in, like, ever! In winter, the size of the catches were not the biggest, so the one I got was a fairly typical size. Quickly, the grandma approached me and started processing it: it was gonna be their dinner for the day!
fish was already freezing half way
What a brilliant day! I simply took a walk that nobody did, and had an awesome experience fishing on a frozen river with a Finnish family, all for free! Thank you so much, Petri and your family, as I would probably have a rather neutral, or even negative experience about northern Finland if I had never got the chance to interact with you! You showed me how Finnish people enjoyed nature, something that the entire country and every single citizen tried their hardest to preserve for the next generation. Seriously, I had never seen a country so focused on the preservation of its land, even comparing to other Nordic countries. This is why Finland is 70% covered by forest, and everyone got to explore the beautiful heritage left for their children, and children’s children, summer and winter, day and night… I am truly honored to be able to enjoy it as a temporary member of this great country.
I continued to walk along the river, before a sign stopped me: I was leaving city boundaries, and beyond that, it would be better to go with a ski, motorski, or a pack of dogs. The fluffy white river surface was just too inviting that I forgot I was the only person stupid enough to actually WALK around! Turning back, the beautiful museum Arktikum presented itself in front of me. Half buried in snow, the glass dome just invited me to visit. I gladly obliged.
This beautiful museum used local inspirations and materials: the entrance is tucked underground to mimic animals’ methods of evading the harsh winter; the dead heading towards north symbolizes the city’s status as Finland’s gateway to the north; additionally, all seats inside are made of local birch wood and reindeer skin. Museum mostly introduced me to the region, geography and climate, as well as human history. Most interestingly, there was a special segment detailing how the part that includes now Kirkeness was lost to Norway during the 20th century, cutting Finland from the ever-so-precious access to the Arctic Ocean.
former northernmost McDonald’s in the world!
I passed by the McDonald’s that held the title of “the northernmost” until recently, when one in Murmansk, Russia, took over the mantle. Continuing down south, I went for a sauna in the hostel. It was then I met Kate, an energetic girl from UK but now living in Copenhagen, coming here for a frigid weekend getaway. She knew what was up, as she traveled around using a pair of skis, unlike someone (cough, me, cough) who had no idea how to even cross-country ski, let alone traveling efficiently in the Arctic. She suggested we go for a forest barbeque, traditional to the Finnish culture. Why not? One rule I learned on the road all these years is that always follow the person who knew what is up. So we packed up some food, along with a large load of reindeer sausages, dragged Nele, a Dutch girl, and set off to the frozen forest, just 10 minutes walk across the Jätkänkynttilä bridge.
a tiny cabin
After 2 hours, we were deep in the middle of the nowhere. The enormous amount of trees surrounding us, and all the snow piled up during the past half a year, dampened every noise from civilization. Just the crunchy sound of our shoes hitting against the surface, and silly breathing sounds coming out of my nostrils. Oh yeah, do not forget there was also me complaining about the cold. The sun was setting, and light was escaping from the horizons fast. We had no idea where we were going… All was lost. We would be forever trapped here… Before I gave in and decided this is where I die alone and girlfriend-less, I saw a tiny bit of fire light coming. Our destination was in sight: a small wooden cabin and a small fire.
yay, barbeque~! :3
The fire had melted the snow surrounding the pit, creating a nice area to sit around, albeit a bit chilly to the buttocks. An amicable local had started the fire, and decided to leave us with it, while a small wooden shed in the middle of the forest had firewood piled mountain-high, all for free use by anyone who wished to enjoy a quiet night. We quickly pulled out all kinds of food candidates from our backpacks, and voila~! One of the best nights was set in motion.
warmth of life
It was a beautiful night. We sat around in a little circle, warming our hands around the crackling firewood. There was nothing much else going on. Just the sound of little bits of snow falling off from the branches of pine trees nearby, creating a tiny “splat!” sound, without even a trace of echoing. The night was so tender that I could almost hear the moon moving around, as if it was a prop being dragged around the curtain of the dark sky by a little lever. We exchanged stories; we exchanged jokes; my horrible puns sent shivers down Nele’s spine, and laughters from Kate throughout the woods.
night with a full moon
Unfortunately, the auroras did not come as we waited later, and later into the night. It was alright though, as I had seen them in Iceland earlier, and we got a full moon! As the lunar shards of light peeked through the woods, casting a myriad of shadows on the snow, carving out a special kind of dunes on the landscape, it was time for us to go back. Another 2 hours of walking in the darkness, with a bit of music, and a bit hope, I knew: tomorrow is going to be better. Another cloud wafted into the drowsy city, slowly releasing another night of snow, covering Rovaniemi with a thin layer of white blanket. Good night, hyvää yötä, Lapland.
Santa Claus Village
After bidding Kate farewell the next morning, I headed towards the Santa Claus village, probably the biggest tourist trap Finland could offer: a tiny group of buildings made especially for tourists who are willing to spend money. Since I have never been the sharpest tool in the shed, I thought I could still get something out of it by not paying anything. The answer, as you may expect, is a big, Finnish nö. Literally every activity here costs an arm and leg, because the hundreds of tourists flooding in from China completely vitalized the capitalism in this rural city.
emperor president’s picture with Santa
Of course, I had to visit the Santa when I was there, and while I was sitting on his lap, I had the strong urge to ask him why he never gave me any present when I was young, and then I realized I had no money and not much of a family growing up, so why would him ever bless me with anything? Santa is a capitalist after all! Afterwards, I had to cough up 40 Euros for a set of pictures with Santa. Even though I wanted to say no, everyone around me said yes and my crippling social anxiety screamed in my head:”You gotta!”
on the Arctic Circle!
No, I will not show that embarrassing photo. It was my biggest shame, falling into touristy pitfalls like that should never happen to a veteran backpacker like me. I refuse! What I thought was a great deal, however, was a cafe offering reindeer burger for just 8 euros. Yes, it was more than what a burger would normally cost, but who would refuse to try the fancy reindeer meat which I enjoyed last time I was in Sweden~? However, to call it a burger was a bit of a stretch, since the meat fell apart like my life easily, so I had to use a spoon.
reindeer “burger” with reindeer soup
And before I leave, I had to visit the reindeer farm, where tourists pay their daughters’ dowry to ride a reindeer sled around a small track. I had absolutely no intention to ride the reindeer sled, but those cute little upper lips these chubby floofers had always made me happy. It would also likely be my only time seeing a reindeer on this trip too!
For the last day, I decided to go museum hopping before my flight. However, the snow just kept piling on, and on, and on, making me, the only pedestrian in the whole Lapland probably, walk like a penguin that was about to fall off any minute. As a self-proclaimed Canadian, I suddenly started to feel guilt and embarrassment creeping on me… I yelled towards the sky:”Why? Why though? It is already April!!!”
Rovaniemi during a snowstorm, 6 months in
inside of Kurundi Museum
I first took a look in the beautifully arranged Kurundi Museum, which was featuring a photography tour of the outback Australia. It was so magnificent, and more importantly, it looked so, so warm… On the second floor, they had contemporary arts made by students and artists around Lapland. For Finland, this region has been a place that tucks everyone’s heartstrings, because here represents true Finnish determination, and where the only aboriginal people, the Saami nation, live. Now these people amount to less than 0.2% of the total population, and some still herd reindeer here up north. Rovaniemi is also the capital of the region, thus all higher educations are limited to this tiny city, making it at least somewhat vibrant during the long, cold polar nights. By vibrant, I meant there is at least one Irish bar!
Pilke Science Center
Then it was Pilke Science Center, where a bunch of scientific and industrial information booths were exhibited in an interactive manner. It was a great place for knowing the region better, as forestry is one of the key economic components of Finland, and here is the heart of the industry. There are also a lot of fun exhibits, such as learning how to shoot a reindeer in the wild. I found out that you can toggle the target to “bear” and went for it. The fact that I got killed 13 times in a row in front of 4 children was definitely something I would not mention in the blog.
landing in Helsinki
I finally decided it was time to go, after spending 5 freezing days in the Finnish north. Just the first 5 days of trip cost me almost 20% of my total Euro reserve, and that was all because of this prohibiting area. My flight quietly landed at Helsinki, with a heartwarming -1°C, and I grabbed my boarding pass towards the next destination.
Onwards, to Japan!
meal in Helsinki Finnair lounge
I grabbed myself a dinner enough for 12 people, because I had been eating yogurt and salads about to expire in the north for the past few meals. How could I resist free food, and real cakes that I could bite? A comfortable A330 rocketed me down to Bangkok, and I had to wait in the transit area for 3 hours to get my Korean Air boarding passes. I would love to visit Bangkok just for one tiny slice of warm sunshine, but my passports were running out of space, so I had to conserve the pages. Unfortunately, my Korean Air flight was delayed for 2 hours, and the agent apologized profusely, offering me a meal voucher that meant great news: THAI FOOD.
food at Bangkok International Airport
Bangkok International Airport decor
I had to say Korean Air really deserve the 5 star Skytrax award. Great seats, good food, awesome service, what can I not love? Then I found out that my ride would be an old 747-400, and I was overjoyed: I had not taken these majestic birds in a decade! I selected a seat at the end of the plane, where the fuselage curves just enough to block one seat near the window but not enough to take up all the space, so I had a window seat that was also an aisle~! An easy red-eye and a quick transit later, I was approaching Osaka.
Ahhh, the queen of the air’s wings are still majestic
I looked outside, there was no snow, no storm, no frozen river; instead, there were green mountains, blossoming cherries, bustling sea-faring cargo ships: I just teleported from winter to spring. Finland was a magical kingdom. The crazy “winter” I spent there, during a spring month, was undoubtedly a strange mark that would forever be a funny story I can talk about. Ice-fishing on a river frozen over with Petri and his family was probably one of the key experiences in my life, and don’t forget getting practically scammed over by Santa Claus. That barbeque under the Nordic sky… ahhhh, I would love to do that again, and again, bring a few nice friends like Kate, grab a full dozen reindeer sausage and a half dozen beer, bury the former in the grill, the latter ones in the snow, and wait for the magical dance of Aurora Borealis unfold… What would I give to live in Finland!
on the road, to the center of the maze
However, as a wanderer, I had to continue, and I have to sadly say goodbye to one of the warmest cold countries I have ever visited. Finnish love is like Finnish people, a bit hard to familiarize first, but once you get in the sauna with them and hit off with a few topics, and also a few birch tree branches, you guys would never split since. I can say I was properly Finnished, in the fairy tale north: Lapland.
As my plane touched down in Kansai, I prepared my tiny backpack: I had shed everything for winter back in Seoul. Now it is time for cherry blossoms, okonomiyaki, ancient castles, and insane markets. Japan, for the 6th time, why can’t I just love you enough?