Monday, December 30, 2013

Material Girl?

A few years ago this guy put all his things, yes every last bit of it, into a storage space. He decided he could take out one item a day. On his first day he chose to take out a winter coat. It was cold. In February 2013 a movie of the project came out. It is called My Stuff (Tavarataivas). One of my friends heard about this project about a year ago and decided to do something similar. Instead of putting away all of her things, she decided that she would get rid of one item every day for a year. In addition she wasn't allowed to buy anything during that whole year, unless it was essential (medicine or food for instance), or replacing something essential that broke down. It has been very interesting following her project. The My Stuff project has undoubtedly inspired many more similar projects.

A scene from My Stuff.

I have taken after my mother. I like to collect a lot of everything, and I have quite the difficult time giving up things. We live in a material world, and I bet a lot of people, especially in the first world, have similar issues. A lot of people work hard so that they can buy more things. A bigger house to put more things in and a bigger car so that they can bring all the bigger things to their even bigger home. Everything has to be new, and even if something still works, people want bigger and better equivalents to replace that something. Not that I'm necessarily any different, but this past year I have thought a lot about consumption of things and buying new stuff. I have come to prefer buying things of better quality, even though the price is higher. Cheap things don't usually last very long... I'm not really into doing radical things though. I wouldn't go on a diet or stop eating sweets for six months. I believe in being reasonable in all things. (Well except for dancing maybe.) Still, it is sometimes hard to be content with what you have, especially when living in a society, where consumption is a virtue.

After thinking a lot about consuming and living in the midst of an overload of bigger and better things I started to feel sick. I want to try to manage with less, which shouldn't be very hard, right? In the last few years I have tried to size down on things. One of my passions is traveling, and I like to travel light, since it is easier not having to carry a lot of things around. So why not applying this to living? Living light? After considering this for quite a while, I decided that it was time to do something about it. But since I believe in being reasonable, I didn't want to do any of these radical things I'd read and heard about.

These past few days I have been going through all the things in my small two-room-flat. The goal was to get rid of one item per day for a year, but instead of doing it for a year I wanted to do it all at once. So 365 items. It took two days to get through (almost) the whole flat. One cupboard is still left, but it is mostly full of papers, so maybe I'll still get through that tonight. My count after two days is 220 items. And it has been really easy so far. But what do I count as an item? I haven't counted each paper or piece of trash. When it comes to papers, I have surely thrown away more than 365 pieces of paper, I didn't really count all of it. As an estimate I would say that all the papers I threw away counted as maybe 20 items. So what else was discarded? Well a big pile of books and magazines, that I was never going to read a second time. A huge amount of decorative things, quite a pile of clothes and jewelry as well as make up and accessories. Then there's all the miscellaneous things, which added up to a lot.

Miscellaneous things and books that I'm discarding. Maybe the Salvation Army is interested?

I have achieved more than half of the goal, and it has been very easy. I still have that one cupboard to go through as well as my storage space in the cellar. I think the things in storage will get me pretty far on the list. As for the count, 365 items is a minimum. I'm not stopping at that count, if I don't get through all my things before that.

I am quite excited to see when it starts to get hard to give up something. To tell you the truth, I did have a bit of a difficult time with one item today. After some contemplation (well quite a lot actually) I decided to throw away my old dance shoes that were totally broken. They were old and the bottom had cracked, but I still held on to them for sentimental reasons. I've had the habit of doing that with many other things as well, like some clothes for instance. "I'm sure that at some point I'll use this old t-shirt that I don't really even like..." or "I need this some day when I'm painting..." Yeah right, like that day is ever coming... Well this time I was quite brutal and actually threw out all clothes that I haven't worn during the past year. I'm quite proud of myself!

I still have almost half of the count to finish up, so we'll see how that goes. Right now I'm feeling very good. Especially when looking at my tidy closets and shelves... Rounding up this post I'd like to announce one of my three New Years resolutions: I promise that before every purchase next year I will think long and hard about whether I need it or not. I dare you to do the same!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Lion City

"You can call me SG, or Lion City. I'm a small country with a big GDP."

Yes, it's Singapore. This small city-state in southeast Asia is actually made up of 63 small islands. It is highly urbanized and there is not much rain forest left. The state had increased the area by reclaiming land since 1975, after which the city has changed big time. The business district has expanded and the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel was built in 2010. The marina also consists of a theater, a high end shopping center, the Gardens by the Bay, a concert arena and several hotels. The marina is but one part of Singapore. There is also Little India, that charmed me at second glance, Chinatown with its great offer of bargains, the shopping frenzy Orchard Street and my personal favorite, Arab Street, with its cozy shisha cafes.

The business district in Singapore houses a lot of skyscrapers.

Singapores' mascot is called the Merlion, it's a mix of a lion and a fish tail. There are different stories of how the Merlion came to be, here's one of them:

"According to an ancient legend, in the eight century, a sea monster appeared. It was half-fish and half-lion and made such an impression on a Malay prince, that he renamed the city to Singapure - meaning Lion City." Source
The Merlion on Sentosa Island.

Upon traveling to Singapore I was quite worried about how I would survive the heat. The reality was worse than I expected. It was hot, hot, hot. The temperature was only around 32 degrees Celcius, but the humidity made it a hundred times worse. But that wasn't the worst thing. In Central and South Europe we're used to high temperatures during the day, but also to the fact that the temperature goes down in the evening and the night. Not in Singapore, no sir! It might have gotten around two degrees cooler, but there was no real change. On my first evening chilling out at a shisha cafe, I felt like I was going to die. That might have had something to do with the fact that I'd been traveling all day though. The second day was quite bad as well, but after that I started to get used to the temperature. Thank God my hostel room had A/C! I think I must have taken three showers every day.

I had chosen a hostel through HostelWorld mostly relying on the reviews, but I knew nothing about the locations in Singapore, so it was somewhat of a random choice. It turned out to be a very lucky one, for my standards at least. The hostel was located at Arab Street, which is not too far away from Changi Airport. At the same time it was also only about a 20 minute walk away from the marina. As I walked from the MRT station towards the hostel I got very excited. I was walking through these small streets with beautiful old houses with cute shops and lots and lots of shisha cafes. Score! The hostel was called the Shophouse Hostel which was a cute boutique hostel on four floors with two huge roof terraces. A few days later I met some local couchsurfers, who were really surprised to hear that my hostel was situated on Arab Street. Apparently the hostels are usually in Little India and Chinatown. Double score! During my stay I was happy to see that there was a food festival going on behind the mosque just one block away from the hostel. The area around Arab Street is really cozy with a middle eastern flair. A lot of fabric shops, shisha cafes and Turkish style restaurants. I really felt at home there!

The Masjid Sultan mosque on Muscat Street just around the corner of my hostel.
The area around Arab Street is full with cute shops and small cozy lanes.

On my first whole day I decided to do something I usually never do. I bought a ticket for a hop-on hop-off tourist bus. Since I only had three days, I wanted to make the most of my stay and getting to see as much as I possibly could. The company was called Duck & Hippo tours, and the ticket I bought was valid for 24 hours (not operating during the night) and it included three bus routes that concentrated on different themes (purple original route, yellow city route and red heritage route). The hostel offered discounted tickets for the tour as well as many other attractions. The tour buses were a great choice. It gave me a great overview of the city and I loved the possibility to hop on and hop off anywhere I wanted to. Another great thing about the bus tours is the audio tour that offers a lot of information on the architecture, structure and history of the city.

Marina Bay Sands with its three towers and the Marina.

Before hopping on the bus I checked out the Bugis shopping center, which was situated close to my hostel. Singapore truly is a paradise for shoppers. You have everything from high-end shopping on Orchard Street to cheap bargains in Chinatown. There is an endless amount of shopping malls and since there isn't really a clear center, shopping has spread out all over the city. Bugis is somewhere in the middle, it is quite big and there are European shops like Esprit, Mango and Body Shop, as well as Asian vendors. After walking around in the (air-conditioned) shopping center I hopped onto the bus and headed to Chinatown. In addition to a Chinese-style bazaar there are several Hindu temples and a Buddhist temple. If you're a bargain hunter, Chinatown is the place to go. I was strolling around at the bazaar for quite a while, because there is just SO much to look at. There are so many amazing things as well as a lot of crap, for very little money. There is also a shopping mall, which I didn't like that much, because didn't intend to do any shopping. I was getting hungry, so I started looking for a place to eat. I wanted to find something authentic, so after checking out a few fancy restaurants with fancy prices I found a street kitchen, where all customers seemed to be locals. I had noodles with chicken and a starter soup for just three dollars (1,80 euros), and it was delicious!

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.

The Sri Mariamman Temple in Chinatown is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore.

After strolling around in Chinatown I hopped on the bus again. The bus took me through the eastern part of the city all the way to Orchard Street. I decided not to hop out there, because my backpack was overfull after all the shopping in Australia and walking around in all the fancy shops would have made it hard to resist not buying anything. I did end up buying a lovely key chain that I had been looking for during the whole trip so far, as well as a pair of lovely purple harem trousers for just six dollars. In the afternoon I ended up in Little India where I was walking around for a few hours. I didn't like it. Maybe I was tired after walking around all day in the heat, but I just couldn't feel it. I headed back to the hostel, took a shower and intended to take a little nap, which turned into a several hours of sleeping. Once I woke up it was almost midnight. After hesitating for a while I decided to take a walk. It was dark, but still very hot and I walked all the way to the marina and around there. There was quite a lot of people around even though it was Wednesday, and even though I was walking around alone in the middle of the night, I never felt unsafe.

My beautiful hand made key ring from Chinatown.

One of the biggest bazaar streets in Chinatown.

In Chinatown I met a British lady from South Africa who was raving about how amazing Singapore Zoo was, so on the next day I decided to head out there. It was a bit far outside of city, in the jungle, and a bit tricky to reach with public transport. It required taking a metro and then a bus, but finally I got there. The zoo wasn't a disappointment, but I wouldn't recommend it. The animals were beautiful and I loved the fact that there weren't really any fences, but most everything was made with natural materials. However I do think my hopes were to high and I expected something sensational. Singapore Zoo has been rated one of the best ones in the world, but I've seen better. Not that I've been to THAT many zoos, but one of my favorites is a really fantastic one in Hanover, Germany. Singapore Zoo is a part of a wildlife reserve with other animal parks as well. There is the Night Safari with night time animals, the River Safari with water animals as well as the Jurong Bird Park. There is a possibility to get a combo ticket for all the animal parks for a cheaper price than the individual price for each park.

This beautiful white tiger was showing off to the audience by walking back and fourth.

In the evening I was invited to a couchsurfing meeting in Little India, and after speaking with one of my friends in Brisbane, I decided to give Little India another chance. That was really the right choice, because this time Little India managed to enchant me! I had dinner at a very authentic restaurant, again with only locals as other customers. As I sat down I had to wait quite long for a menu, and as the waiter came, he asked me if I was waiting for company. He raised his eyebrows as I let him know that I was eating alone. I think they might not be quite that used to seeing women alone. I did get a lot of looks there and in Little India altogether. Being tall and blonde may have had an effect as well. The cultural difference is really massive.

After the meeting in Little India I decided to check out the Gardens by the Bay. I had received a tip that there was going to be a group of people juggling with light thingies underneath the Supertrees.
Gardens by the Bay is a 101 hectare park area behind the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The main attraction in the park are the huge domes with gardens in different styles, and the Supertrees. It is an absolutely beautiful area and I'm sad I didn't get to explore it to the fullest. Next time!

You could just sit and stare at the Supertrees for hours and hours.

Light jugglers by the Supertrees at Gardens by the bay.

At the CS-meeting I met a local couchsurfer who agreed to show me around on Sentosa Island on my last day. Sentosa is a small island just outside of Singapore, and it is filled with amusement parks and resorts. Among them are Universal Studios, S.E.A. Aquarium and Adventure Cove Waterpark. There are also luxury hotels, spas and several beautiful beaches. My plan for Sentosa was just about checking out the beaches. They were surprisingly empty, but still very nice, even though they are not as lovely as the ones I visited in Australia. Mainly because they were very touristic. Everything seems to be about creating a brand and the beaches felt very fake and man-made (which they probably are), but then again Sentosa IS made for tourists. The beaches were however very clean and the water was nice a warm, but at the same time refreshing in comparison to the air temperature.

Siloso Beach at Sentosa Island.

My time in Singapore was coming to an end. But I still had a couple of hours to go, so I decided to meet up with a local couchsurfer. We had dinner at a Turkish restaurant close to Arab Street and then headed out to Changi Airport (which is quite amazing as well). I had mixed feelings about Singapore, and I haven't really come to terms on whether I like the city or not. What I do know, is that I definitely want to go back and see more of it before I give my verdict. I want to explore the Gardens by the Bay, hit the Infinity Pool at Marina Bay Sands Hotel and check out the dancing scene, that my cs-friend told me is quite good, at least when it comes to salsa and WCS. One thing is for certain though, Singapore is a shopper's city and it doesn't really matter what your budget is like, there is shopping available for all price classes. It might not be the budget travelers dream choice, especially when you compare to other surrounding cheaper countries, but it is a special experience and well worth a visit.

As I came back to Finland, one of my friends told me about this video that Mentos made for Singapores National Day celebration on the 9th of August. Since Singapores population is increasing, there will soon be no land for people to live, on so Mentos decided that Singapore should propose to Finland, to "share her land". Enjoy:

Friday, July 12, 2013

Dancing with Koalas

I am an active traveller. What I mean by this is that I don't like to just lie on the beach for a week and do nothing. For me traveling is all about new experiences. My last few vacations have however been very busy. Two years ago I was traveling by train through central and eastern Europe with my best friend. We explored ten countries in 30 days. It goes without saying, that we stayed at one location for a maximum of three nights. Last summer I traveled for three weeks in Sicily, Milan, Hungary and Stockholm. I stayed for a bit longer in Eger, Hungary, but basically I was on the move all the time. So now in Australia, I've really been enjoying having a home base. I am staying with my best friend, Evannette, who is spending six months as an exchange student here, and has a lovely town house in a suburb in Brisbane called Greenslopes. It is a very nice location, about 15-20 minutes with the bus to the centre and a supermarket just a 5-minute-walk away.

Now, I am loving the fact that I have a home base, and don't have to move around all the time. The bedroom looks as such though. All my things are spread around my half of the room... I am doing everything what vacation is about. Sleeping in, long breakfasts and not worrying about time. This doesn't mean that I'm staying put though. No sir! A lot of people back home and here have asked me whether I will travel around Australia. I thought about it for a while, but then I came to the conclusion, that I will just spend the entire month discovering Brisbane and its surroundings. That was a good decision! Brisbane is a lovely city with loads to do, if not directly in the city, but around it.

Brisbane Story Bridge.

I spent my first week discovering Brisbane itself. I went to a few museums and did some shopping. Naturally since my best friend is a dancer, I got to enjoy some great dance parties and lessons as well. Back in Finland I've attended a few west coast swing dance parties, but I've never taken any lessons. The dancing scene in Brisbane is just fantastic! On Tuesday and Thurday evenings we've been taking west coast swing lessons with Raw Connection right here in Greenslopes. The teachers are great and I've been learning heaps. There are two lessons every evening: first a beginner class and then you can choose from an intermediate class or a beginner's intensive class. In between the lessons there is some time to practise your new moves at social dancing. I love it! Now I just have to check up on where I can dance WCS back in Tampere... On Sundays there is a dance party at a bar called Casablanca, where they have salsa and other latin dances downstairs and zouk and kizomba upstairs. They also have karaoke in the next room... At my first Casas party I was happy just looking at people dancing, since latin dances really aren't my thing, zouk even less. Last Sunday however the evening turned out a bit different. Since I had met a few of Evannette's friend during my stay, they naturally knew me and asked me to dance. It didn't help that I claimed not knowing how, I was just told "it's easy, you'll learn". And so I spent a big part of the evening on the dance floor trying out my kizomba moves. And I liked it! I think I'll finally have to start going to the bachata and kizomba parties in
Tampere on Mondays...

The Brisbane Lions against the Gold Coast Suns, AFL.

I have been doing a lot more than just dancing. There is an amazing roller skating track around the Brisbane river and I've also checked out the city from another point of view while kayaking on the river. A few days ago we headed to Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, which is the world's first and largest koala sanctuary. It was established already in 1927 and it houses around 130 koalas. In addition to koalas the animal park houses a variety of Australian wild life, including kangaroos, kookaburras, platypus, emus, wombats, tasmanian devils and much more. I got to cuddle a koala, and it was so soft and sweet as it clinged onto my shirt. We also fed kangaroos and they were so cute! Lone Pine is however not just a park with animals for people to see. It is taking in hurt animals and caring for them so they can be let back in the wild. Also it is an imporant sanctuary for the tasmanian devil. The devil is an endangered species because of something called devil facial tumor disease, which was first discovered in 1995, and it has taken down the devil population to 20 per cent. Lone Pina is housing a few devils in case the population keeps dropping, so that the animal won't turn out being exctinct. I liked Lone Pine because it is not a typical zoo. It only features Australian wild life and has a lot of information about the animals. Also the staff is very friendly and informed.

Kayaking on Brisbane River, divine!

Squeezed in between the branches.

Ready, set, go!

The other day we also drove down to Gold Coast. The weather was quite cloudy and a bit cold, but I still loved walking on the enormous beach with amazingly soft sand. I'm hoping to go back to Gold Coast or to Sunshine Coast on a sunny day before going back to Finland. Yesterday we drove down to Springbrook National Park to do some hiking. It is situated in the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area and it is absolutely beautiful. It was the third time for me hiking in a rainforest, but it was still as amazing as the first time. Surrounded by gigantic trees and lush bushes the mind rests. There were a lot of enormous, white eucalyptus trees, but unfortunately we didn't spot any koalas. We did see some cat-like creatures though, both in the forest as well as crossing the road into the bushes.

Surfer's Paradise at Gold Coast.

Behind a waterfall at Twin Falls Circuit in Springbrook National Park.

View above the rainforest.

Gigantic roots. The researches still don't know why the trees grow these kind of roots.

Lush and fresh rainforest.

Big roots, eh?

One of the many beautiful waterfalls in Springbrook National Park.

Intestine roots. At least it looks like it. Or worms.

I my last post, I was writing about how relieved I am not having to drive here. Well, now I have been driving. I was the one sitting behind the wheel both going down to Gold Coast and to Springbrook National Park. At first it was confusing, but I got over it relatively quickly, and now I am actually enjoying it. I'm not sure how it would go though, if I had to drive to the centre of Brisbane. Maybe I'll find out...

Enjoy the photos!

Friday, July 5, 2013

First Impressions

After nearly a full week here on the other side of the world, I kinda feel that I might not be qualified to talk about first impressions anymore. The first impressions have slightly faded, but I am going to make an attempt to revive them nevertheless. My first week has been quite full of activities and by keeping awake for the whole first day after landing early in the morning, I managed to escape the jet lag. I've done some sightseeing, visited museums and exhibitions, gone dancing, done sports and naturally met new people, which is my favourite thing about traveling.



In Finland we call this the Christmas Star.
When you go to a foreign country, the first things you notice - naturally - are the differences. Actually this really applies to wherever you go, even if you travel within your own country. Even though Australia is on the other side of the world in comparison to Finland, it is surprisingly similar. It is a western country after all. But because of it's immense size, there are naturally differences. I won't go into Australias inner differences - being solely in Brisbane doesn't really qualify me for that. In Brisbane, however, the weather is one thing that really stands out. The climate in the state of Queensland is subtropical, which means that it never really gets cold here. At least from a Finnish point of view. As my plane landed on Saturday morning at about 5, it was already 15 degrees. Before I came, my friend told me to bring thick sweaters and a jacket, and the first few days were actually quite rainy, so they did come in handy. It wasn't really cold, maybe around 18 degrees, but it's always quite windy, since it's quite close to the coast. These last couple of days have been great though, about 24 degrees, sunny and warm.

Thanks to the subtropical climate, flowers are always in bloom in Brisbane, even in the winter!

Public transport

Then there's the traffic. In Australia they drive on the wrong side of the road. Sure some might argue that there are no wrong sides, only right ones. Not here. Thank God I don't need to drive here, because it would be seriously confusing. Even walking across the road is difficult, because I need to remember to look right first and then left, not the other way around, like I'm used to. Another thing about traffic is public transportation. I haven't really noticed this yet myself, but I've been told that schedules are never correct. There are different times online, and even at the bus stop. There they have a display and a printed timetable, but there are different times on them. And the ones on the display do not seem to be actual gps times. Well, luckily where we live, in Greenslopes, the buses come quite often, so it's not too bad.

Look out, trees might attack your car. Wait, what?
Brisbane is quite a large city, a bit over 2 million people live here, so there are several price zones when you travel with public transport. This is quite common in bigger cities, but usually you also have to know which zones you travel in, so that you know which ticket to buy, or which zones to click if you have a travel card. Here the system has been made very easy. You just touch the card to the machine when you step in and out of the bus, and it calculates the price automatically. Very simple! Also I think it's nice that most people shout 'thank you' to the bus drives as they step out of the bus. Something which is not so good however, is that a lot of people go out in the front door, blocking the way of people coming in. The bus driver also always waits for people to sit down before they drive along. Maybe these are some reasons why the buses aren't operating on time. I've also been told that public transport is not very good when it comes to getting somewhere outside of the city. We've been talking about visiting some places outside of Brisbane, but it's hard to get anywhere without having a car. Which everyone here seems to have.

If you don't want to get into all that hectic traffic and just wish to enjoy the river breeze, it is also possible to hop on the city cat. Established in 1975, the city cat basically is a public transportation boat that operates on the Brisbane River. Ir's great! The price is the same as for the bus and you get to enjoy the city from a completely different point of view. It is also quite quick, at least in comparison to those in Venice and Budapest.

People and food

My two favourite parts about traveling - as you know - are meeting new people and eating good food. In addition to the whole bunch of people that I got to know during my flights, I've been lucky enough to meet quite a lot of Australians, thanks to Evannette's big group of dancing friends. The social being that I am, I have naturally also talked to people basically everywhere. Ethnically Australia is very mixed. In addition to travelers from all over the world, there are a lot of foreign people living here, as well as Australians with roots from other countries. There are a lot of Asians, which is not very surprising, since Asia is the closest continent. Anyway, everyone here is really friendly and helpful. People seem genuinely interested in who you are, where you are from and what you do. People can just start speaking to you randomly, which is great, but feels a bit unusual being a Finn. I do love it though! My second evening here was my Evannettes' dance partners' last one before going back to Finland, so a group of dancing friends threw him a farewell dinner, which at the same time turned into a welcome dinner for me. I was overwhelmed! It was amazing to come to a group of people I didn't know and still feel so welcomed. It was just fantastic! 

Good food and amazing people!

And naturally the food was delicious! We went to a thai restaurant where everyone ordered their own meals and then we shared, so you could try different things. Here in Brisbane it is quite common to go out for dinner with a big group of friends, which I think is great! The cost for eating out in a restaurant differs quite a bit, but in general you can say that it is a tad cheaper than in Finland, but not a lot. Just like back home, the prices naturally depend on where you eat. The big city that it is, Brisbane naturally has a lot more variety than any Finnish city. There is a restaurant at every corner, and most of them have terraces, because people love to eat outside. Just like any city, some parts of Brisbane are cheaper and some more expensive, but I haven't quite figured out yet as to where you can get the best food for the best price. West End seems to be quite nice and there are many cozy restaurants and cafés there. Cafés are everywhere though. Lots and lots of small, charming places, with wonderful personal flair, but so far only one place where you can smoke shisha. Coffee (read espresso) is better than in Finland (except for Signora Delizia), but not as good as in Italy. The food scene is very mixed. You can find almost any kind of food, from Japanese to Argentinian and everything in between, just have your pick. Oh, and kangaroo steaks are delicious!

The cutest café in West End!

The Farmer's market is held in the City every Wednesday.

Wild life

The Australasian Darter.
Australia is proud of its' wild animals. I am still looking forward to seeing kangaroos, whales, dolphins and much more, but I have already been lucky enough to spot quite a few wild animals. The other day we went rollerblading and we spotted an opossum. It was sitting in a tree eating leaves, and it froze as it saw us looking straight at it. It is quite unusual to see opossums during the day, so I was naturally very happy! There are also quite a few lizards here. I've mostly seen small ones, but I also managed to spot a huge one by the river yesterday. Then there are birds. Lots and lots of birds. On my first day I saw an Australasian Darter as it was sitting on a tree in the river and drying its' wings. My favourite is a huge white bird called the Australian White with a black tail and a black head. The funny thing about the birds here is that they don't seem to sing. They screech and squall! Another night-being in addition to the opossum are the bats. They are quite unpleasant. They fly around as soon as the sun goes down (at around 6 pm) and they can come quite close, since they fly downwards as they leave the tree, because naturally they hang there up and down. It takes a while to get used to the bats, but luckily the ones here in Queensland are not blood sucking vampire bats...

The Australian White is hanging out at the Bogoda.

More wildlife at the Museum of Brisbane.

All in all my first week here has been quite amazing. My first impressions of Brisbane are very positive and I have had the chance to explore quite a bit, but at the same time not packing my time with activities, so I have also been able to relax and take it easy, what vacation should be all about. I have about two and a half weeks to go, and I will surely keep myself busy. I'm hoping to catch some waves at Surfer's paradise and Byrone Bay, see some whales and dolphins at Fraser Island, go for a hike a bit inland and much more, so stay tuned!

The Queenslander, the typical house in the Queensland area. Why? Stay tuned to find out!

The beautiful Story Bridge connects Kangaroo Point and Fortitude Valley.

South Bank.

Streets Beach at South Bank.

The beautiful auditorium at Brisbane City Hall.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

On the Way to Adventure

My life-long dream is about to come true. As I'm writing this, I am sitting in a Qantas Boeing 747-400 on the way to Brisbane, Australia. Like I said, Australia has been one of my dreams since I was a child. I was fascinated by kangaroos, boomerangs and Crocodile Dundee, that I watched a million times with my mother, when I was little.

So, now the time has finally arrived to head down under. I'll be visiting my best friend Evannette, as she is spending half a year in Brisbane as an exchange student. 

My first flight from Helsinki to Singapore was also with Qantas, but operated by Finnair. The flight was not very pleasant. The space between the seats was timy, the food was bad and the cabin crew only did the most necessary things. Well, at least the company was nice. I was sitting next to this very nice indonesian girl, who was returning back home to Jakarta, after visiting her sister and her sisters Finnish husband. She gave me some great tips for Singapore, where I'll be spending 2,5 days at the end of my trip. Also I now have a reason to visit Jakarta as well as great ideas for Bali! This surely is one of the main reasons to why I love traveling: all the new people you get to meet!

Upon landing in Singapore, I headed straight for the rooftop pool. Changi International airport is an absolutely amazing place. In their three terminals they have for example a butterfly garden, a orchid garden, a cactus garden, a movie theatre, a game centre and a already mentioned swimming pool. It's safe to say that it would be easy to spend even a longer flight change at Changi, because in addition to all the entertainment, there is a vast amount of restaurants and shopping as well. Changi is indeed rated as one of the top airports in the world - and it deserves it!

As mentioned in the beginning, I am sitting in a huge Boeing now. According to schedule, it's supposed to take 7.20 hours from Singapore to Brisbane. I'll be arriving at 5.15 in the morning local time. In Brisbane time is seven hours ahead of Finland, so they'll be heading to bed back home once I land. Well back to the flight. I don't know if it's the pool or the holiday feeling (no, it really isn't), but the flight is amazing so far. The crew is fabulous, the food (and wine) is quite good (not quite as good as with Singapore Airlines, but not too far from it) and the entertainment screen is huge, at least in comparison to Finnair where is was SO tiny. Also it doesn't hurt that I have three whole seats to myself! :)

So, I am on the way to an adventure of a lifetime, and I am so excited. I'll keep posting as often as I can, so stay tuned!