: 6–12
: 7–12
: 1–6
Mon 29.05.2006 Tampere, Finland. One full week in Tampere behind. There seem to be too many things that need my attention and so many people I want to see, but more than anything I want to be at my home, cook my own food, surf on my computer, read my daily newspaper, and just enjoy my life in my home. I missed this so bad!!!
Mon 22.05.2006 Tampere, Finland. Home. Home. Home. The trip was unbelievably wonderful but nothing beats home. :)
138 days, 15 countries (+ Hong Kong & Easter Island), 9 languages, 28 flights, 107 nights in a hotel, 19 nights at friends', 5 nights on a train, 4 nights on an airplane, 3 nights on a bus. No more buying water, no more pickpockets, no more scams, no more being too hot, no more diarrhea... But of course: no more adventure, no more excitement, no more new culture/people/languages/music/anything. Well, I believe I will be ready for more in a few months! ;) The best part: Riksu and I are still speaking to each other. :D
And thank you of course Tero&Jonna and their wonderful Aventura!
Sun 21.05.2006 Madrid, Spain. It was quite unbelievable to land on Madrid Barajas, switch on my mobile phone, and start receiving dozens of text messages declaring the same thing: our Finnish Lordi has wond the Eurovision Song Contest! I thought I'd never see this day. Finland winning "euroviisut" can happen only once in my lifetime and now I had to be on a plane flying over the Atlantic and miss it... Well, we celebrated the occasion with our friends Lotta and Teemu (who live in Madrid) over the most wonderful breakfast they had made for us. In the afternoon, we got back to the airport and began the best journey of all: we are finally going home! :)
Fri 19.05.2006 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rio de Janeiro is possibly the most beautiful city in the world, at least compared to other cities I've seen so far. We arrived on Monday 14th and got to spend 5 days in this heaven. Everybody should once go up on Corcovado and take a good look from 710 metres (2330 ft).
This is the last stop in Brazil. This country has been everything and more I have been wanting to see for so many years. I must come back. O Brasil é maravilhoso! Vou ter saudades deste país, desta cultura, da música e dos brasileiros. VIDEO
Sat 13.05.2006 Salvador, Brazil. On Monday night (1st of May) we landed in Salvador, the capital of Bahia. Juha, who's a Finn, owns his own travel agency Tripbrasil, and who's been living in Salvador for ages, picked us up on the airport and drove us to our lovely appartment he had rented for us in Rio Vermelho. We had the appartment for two weeks during which I took a language course at Diálogo language school. I can warmly recommend this school and expecially my teacher Jamilly!!!
Salvador is the capital of good music (at least in my opinion!). I bought tons of cds and actually managed to get Riksu excited about Bahian music as well, at least about Axé and Ivete Sangalo. :) It must be mentioned that the historic centre of Salvador, Pelourinho, is also a World Heritage Site. (See Unesco description.) VIDEO
Mon 01.05.2006 Itacaré, Brazil. Itacaré is paradise!!! 6 days of nothing else than relaxing, swimming, sunbathing, Bahian food, and sleeping. You need to make a little effort to get here but it's all worth it! (Our route was: Foz do IguaçuSão Paulo CongonhasIlhéusItacaré.) On the beaches you get to see some of the last bits of Atlantic Rainforest left (World Heritage Site, see Unesco description). The only tourists seemed to be Brazilian, and everybody but us were there for surfing. We had booked (through internet) a room in a lovely pousada i.e. B&B called Coqueiro Verde. We can highly recommend it! VIDEO
Tue 25.04.2006 Itaipu, Brazil. We had a flight on Tuesday afternoon, so we still had time in the morning to visit Itaipu, which is the largest operational hydroelectric power plant in the world. 14 GW cover 95 % of energy consumed in Paraguay and 25 % consumed in Brazil. Although I never studied energy or power plants, I am still on engineer and excited about visiting places like this. Riksu was not equially excited... :D VIDEO
Mon 24.04.2006 Iguazú, Argentina. On Monday we were back to Argentina as we wanted to see the falls from the other side, too. (See Unesco description.) And I must say, you don't really get the full picture without visiting both sides. Check out the photos, words do not do justice. VIDEO
Sun 23.04.2006 Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. I am in Brazil!!! I've been wanting to visit this country as long as I remember and finally I made it! Foz do Iguaçu is not really a town one needs to visit but the point was to see Iguazu Falls that are a World Heritage Site. (See Unesco description.) We arrived in Foz do Iguaçu on Saturday evening and on Sunday morning hopped on a bus that took us to the falls. VIDEO
Sat 22.04.2006 Ciudad del Este, Paraguay. I can hardly say I've been to Paraguay. Because of the rules of our TAM - South American AirPass, we had to fly to Ciudad del Este instead of flying straight to Brazil. From the airport we took a taxi and drove right to the border. Next time we need to spend more than 45 minutes in the country... :D
Fri 21.04.2006 Buenos Aires, Argentina. On Saturday 8th in the afternoon we FINALLY made it to Buenos Aires. Because of us missing busses, busses being broken and replaced by even worse busses, the planned luxury night bus experience turned into a never-ending (about 21 hours all together) journey. But the prize was worth it: Buenos Aires is just wonderful! And it was sooooooo nice to be able to stand still for 2 weeks and enjoy living in super nice appartment we had rented. We had a flight on Saturday 22nd but it feld we really did not want to leave.
Thu 06.04.2006 Mendoza, Argentina. Argentina is great! In Mendoza we realized how extremely nice our euro/peso exchange rate is and got the first taste of wonderful Argentinian wines. And now that we where there where the wine's made, we wanted to visit a vineyard and ended up in Bodega La Rural. We got to see all the equipment and got a little taste too. (There's also a nice and very informative little wine museum there!)
Mon 03.04.2006 Valparaiso, Chile. On Friday 31st we spent just about 2 hours on a bus and arrived in Valparaiso. It's a nice seaside town with absolutely delicious fish served everywhere. The historic quarter is also a World Heritage Site. (See Unesco description.) After a relaxing weekend, we climbed on a bus on Monday morning and crossed the Andes.
Thu 30.03.2006 Santiago, Chile. On Tuesday night we were back in continental Chile. Santiago is "an OK city": nothing special but quite OK anyway. We went to movies and enjoyed taking unplanned walks in the city. It was pretty nice not do too much of exploring for a change. One remark: the air here is really polluted and hard to breath. :( VIDEO
Sun 26.03.2006 Easter Island, Chile. On Saturday 25h, after 4 flights (HAVCUNMIASCLIPC) and 33 hours, we landed on Rapa Nui = Isla de Pascua = Easter Island. It feels quite extraordinary to be 3600 km away from Chilean coast and 2000 km away from the closest island. We rented a car and drove around Rapa Nui for 2 days and got to see the unbelievable moai statues. This was a total once-in-a-lifetime-experience! No wonder it is also a World Heritage Site. (See Unesco description.) VIDEO
Thu 23.03.2006 Havana, Cuba. On Saturday morning the 18th we arrived in Cancun. It was a brief stop since we had a flight the same night to Havana, Cuba. We wanted to see Havana now that it still is a "live museum" of 1959. That will probably change after a certain Fidel is gone, although no-one knows if it will still take another 20 years... We stayed in a hotel for 2 days and then 4 in 2 different casa particulars. What comes to quality of rooms, food, and atmosphere AND price too, casa particulars are a way better choice than hotels! We found ours with help of our guidebook. You need to speak a little bit of Spanish though, when you start knocking on people's doors.
La Habana Vieja is by the way a World Heritage Site (see Unesco description), but we liked Vedado best because of it's beautiful 50's architecture. VIDEO
Thu 16.03.2006 Palenque, Mexico. The warm and very humid air blowed over us right when we stepped off the bus in Palenque. (Also a huuuuge cockroach greeted us by landing on Riksu's chest.....yaurghlgh!!) On Thursday we visited the wonderful Maya sight, which is also a World Heritage Site (See Unesco description.) And so far the worst diarrhea hit me in Palenque... We actually had to postpone our next bus on Friday night (to Cancun), as I had to make a run for it every now and then... VIDEO
Wed 15.03.2006 On the bus, Mexico. On the bus again! We left the nice and cool San Cristóbal de las Casas and in about 5 hours arrived in the hot and sweaty Palenque.
Mon 13.03.2006 San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mexico. On Sunday night we hopped on a night bus to San Cristóbal de las Casas. We spent two really nice and relaxing days in this beautiful little town. It was sooo nice the weather was cool (around 20 Celsius). We also took half a day to visit Reserva del Huitepec which is just a 20-minute bus drive away from the centre.
Sat 11.03.2006 Oaxaca, Mexico. Buying bus tickets was the first real test of my extremely broken Spanish. :) We got the tickets and travelled to Oaxaca on Friday 10th. Mexican busses are really nice, spacy, and airconditioned. (You need a jacket so you don't freeze on the bus!) Oaxaca, the chocolate capital of Mexico, was a beautiful little town. And the chocolate of course yummy. And AGAIN, we were at a UNESCO World Heritage Site! (See Unesco description.) VIDEO
Thu 09.03.2006 Mexico City, Mexico. On Wednesday morning we left Eagle-Vail behind and flew to Mexico City (changed planes in DFW). I have never ever seen so many buildings and houses! Literally, as far as you could see from the plane, you saw only buildings and more buildings and more buildings. It was impressive but also a bit scary. Our hotel was right in the heart of D.F., just a couple of blocks away from the historic centre, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (See Unesco description.)
Mon 06.03.2006 Eagle-Vail/Leadville/Vail/Avon, CO, USA. On Friday 3rd we flew to Eagle-Vail to meet our friends Katja and Ara. It was just wonderful to stay with them for 5 nights, chill, do laundry, watch tv, chill, eat home-made food, chill... :) On Saturday we drove to Leadville just for the fun of it, and on Monday I got to go skiing in Vail, which was totally wonderful. On Tuesday I got my first haircut on the road in Avon. It sure was time, as it had been 2 months since we departed! Did I already mention that we enjoyed just chilling at home? :D VIDEO
Fri 03.03.2006 New York City, NY, USA. On February 28th we took off from Narita airport at 17.40 and arrived EARLIER at JFK! It fealt strange to sleep for a long time, land, and then continue life as the flight never took place! :) My friend Brent was superkind and let us stay with him for 3 nights. New York was cold but it was nice to be there for the first time at winter time. For me it was the fourth time in NY (see November 2005) but it was Riksu's first.
Mon 27.02.2006 Tokyo, Japan. We spent 5 days visiting my brother Juho in Tokyo. I absolutely love Tokyo and want to go back as soon as I have money to travel again. Riksu prefers Kyoto. We definitely need to go back to Japan and see more. VIDEO
Thu 23.02.2006 Kyoto/Tokyo, Japan. On the 23rd we finally got to ride the famous high-speed train Shinkansen when we left Kyoto for Tokyo. What a ride! VIDEO
Tue 21.02.2006 Kyoto, Japan. On Monday 20th we flew from Beijing to Osaka and then took the Haruka train to Kyoto. We loooooove Kyoto! Strange but true: coming to Japan feels A LOT like coming home. It's like second Finland! :) The temples are by the way a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (See Unesco description.)
Sat 18.02.2006 Taiyuan, China. For our way back to Beijing we did not have tickets for a direct train from Pingyao but we had to take a bus first to Taiyuan and then a night train back to Beijing.
Fri 17.02.2006 Pingyao, China. On Thursday night we hopped on a night train to Pingyao. It is a beautiful small town that dates back to Ming Dynasty era and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (See Unesco description.)
Wed 15.02.2006 Beijing, China. We arrived in Beijing early in the morning on Tuesday 14th. We got to stay with Tarja and Riku who are friends of my brother Juho. They were a huuuuuge help since it is practically impossible to get around (and book train tickets or hotels) independently without speaking Mandarin. We of course went to see the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Forbidden City (See Unesco description.), Summer Palace (See Unesco description.), Great Wall of China (See Unesco description.), and also the famous Tiananmen Square. Tarja and Riku also took us to wonderful restaurants that a regular tourist would never find.
Mon 13.02.2006 Hong Kong, China. Two more nights in Bangkok and then a quick stop in Hong Kong. HK was nice but a little chilly. We must go back sometime and stay longer.
Fri 10.02.2006 Koh Mak, Thailand. After spending a few days (again) in Bangkok we started our "beach holiday". We flew to Trat, took a taxi to the coast, and then travelled about one hour on a speed boat until we got to Koh Mak. It is a small island with not too many tourists and practically nothing else to do than relax. That's exactly what we wanted so we were very happy. It was nice to spend some time on a "real" holiday after all that endless exploring in Vietnam and Cambodia.
Wed 01.02.2006 Siem Reap, Cambodia. On the 1st of February we flew back to Bangkok, Thailand.
Mon 30.01.2006 Angkor, Cambodia. We started our Monday morning in Siem Reap very early: our motorbike-taxi driver picked us up at 5.20 in order to catch the sunrise in Angkor Wat. And boy was it worth it!! You can't really have an idea of the beauty of Angkor until you see it for yourself. Seeing Angkor Wat appear from the darkness truly was a once-in-a-lifetime ecperience. Angkor is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (See Unesco description.)
Sun 29.1.2006 Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Our bus from Saigon arrived in Phnom Penh on the 27th in the afternoon (about 6 hours on the bus and 2 on the border). It was here when the poverty really hit us. It is hard to stay calm and eat your dinner in a restaurant when there are hungry and dirty children staring at your meal just a couple of metres away from you... We found Cambodians to be very kind and helpful and the atmosphere in general much calmer and more peaceful than in Vietnam. We left Phnom Penh on Sunday 29th when we took a morning bus to Siem Reap. VIDEO
Thu 26.1.2006 Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. Our night train arrived in Saigon on Wednesday 25th early in the morning. We stayed there until Friday 27th when we took the bus to Phnom Penh Cambodia. This visit to Ho Chi Minh City will probably be the only time I'll ever be there: it was dirty, hot, and the traffic was crazy. There is no comparison to the beautiful Hanoi where we started our Trans-Indochina route 10 days ago.
Mon 23.01.2006 Nha Trang, Vietnam. On Sunday 22nd we hopped on a train from Da Nang to Nha Trang, which is the beach capital of Vietnam. Too bad we did not catch any beach weather. On Tuesday 24th late in the evening we started the last part of the 1750-kilometre-long Trans-Indochina route when our train departed for Ho Chi Minh City.
Sat 21.01.2006 Hoi An, Vietnam. We arrived by train in Da Nang and then took a taxi (unofficial taxi, had to negociate the price) for the 45-minute ride to Hoi An. The old town of Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and definitely worth visiting. (See Unesco description.) Hoi An is also the "tailor capital" of Vietnam, where you can have anything tailor-made for an extremely cheap price (a smart shirt for 7 dollars, for example). The quality varies a lot depending which shop you choose, so you'd better try several.
Thu 19.01.2006 Hue, Vietnam. On Wednesday 18th we woke up in Hue which is the former capital of Vietnam. There's not much there, but we wanted to see the old Citadel so we stayed for a day and a half. The Citadel in fact is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (See Unesco description.) On the 19th we took a day train (for a change) to Da Nang, which was by the most beautiful train trip I've ever taken! VIDEO
Tue 17.01.2006 Hanoi, Vietnam. On Sunday 15th we flew from Bangkok to Hanoi, Vietnam. Hanoi is a wonderful city full of beautiful old architecture and unbelievably delicious food with French influence. On Wednesday 18th we hopped on a night train to the former capital city Hue.
Sat 14.01.2006 Bangkok, Thailand. Bangkok is a very nice city! Thanks to Skytrain, Metro, and cheap cabs & tuk-tuks getting around is very easy. The weather can be HOT but you can always cool off in shopping malls. Bangkok is a nice combination of East and West and GREAT for shopping! :) VIDEO
Tue 10.01.2006 Hat Yai, Thailand. After a one-hour stop on the border, we arrived in Hat Yai in the morning. The plan was to change trains after a brief stop, but surprise surprise, there were no tickets to Bangkok... It's a fact that Hat Yai is not a town you want to spend more time in than what is absolutely necessary. (Finnish comparison would be Riihimäki.) Luckily we were able to secure cheap AirAsia plane tickets for the same night.
Mon 09.01.2006 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. On Saturday we took the train from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. On Monday 9th we continued our journey and hopped on a night train to Hat Yai, Thailand.
Fri 06.01.2006 Singapore, Singapore. First stop Singapore! We stayed at my ex's i.e. Michele's for 3 nights, although he was at the time travelling around Philippines.
Tue 03.01.2006 Tampere, Finland. It's hard to believe I'm actually going to take off in a few hours...