Rising travel fever and to Syria.

19 Mar

We are back now to Finland for more then 3 years, but believe me the fever of leaving again never goes away.

Helsinki is a great place to live, quiet, peaceful,safe, modern,clean and Finns can be great fun but life remains concentrated on work.

When you backpack, you are free. Yes! You got to worry about where you gonna sleep and the budget and all that but you are free to move on from a place to another.

Working hard here and making a good life surely does not compensate on the love to travel! Sadly, in life it is either or.

We have been dreaming both to travel again since we had a great experience during that year, we got tired, broke, exchausted, dirty but we made so many friends, so many experiences.

One of these experiences that will never leave both our memories is in Syria, a country where we were lucky to visit in Peace time before the regime starts oppressing it’s people and killing them. Syria was the heaven of history!

Syria, has so much historical sites that will impress you for life and they were empty, tourism is not so high in there and that memory when we were visiting Serjilla, one of marvellous places there where we managed to get to that forgotten ghost city via a hitchhike with a local and then on the way back, we ended up riding in a huge truck that stopped in the middle of a highway, the driver was doing trips between Iraq and Syria. The driver stopped in the middle of a highway and gave us a ride back to ur destination.

Syrians are sweet and nice people, generous and loving. We remember them and their beautiful country and wish that peace will come back and they succeed in their long  awaited Arab spring!

As for Helsinki, we had amazing years since we came back, new jobs, experiences, a new home and cats. I leave below few pictures of our winter and our cats with a promise to write again from our home here and incoming trips.

More pictures to be published soon.

Sasi

Borneo-ou

2 Sep

Just wanted to tell that we are glad to present our photos from Borneo in Flickr. Much awaited pictures of Orangutans, nose monkeys and all the rest of the wonders of the jungle.

And also you can enjoy this small piece of backpacking lifestyle here:

Maiku

Artistic snack

17 Aug

Before we will go back to the jungles of Borneo, there is a small snack for you.

Madonna e Bambini

Madonna e Bambini

I have started editing dozens (if not hundreds) of videos we filmed during the trip. So folks, here we go back to Bella Italia. You will find them in our video page, and the new ones are this time first and last on the list. They will appear there in chronological order. First one is more artistic, the last one… well…

Have fun!
Maiku

Walking in the Rain

15 Aug

I had never felt such a fear. Maiku was behind me screaming on me GO, GO, do not be a coward! And the rain was poring so hard! So hard.

I was really terrified, I looked down and I saw a no end of the green! It was not as I expected to climb up there, it was not the safe treck I had thought, the cords were so flexible and the pathway was so small and it was just so high over the jungle! The pathway was so narrow and there were pieces of wood linked with cords to each other and a small net but nothing that makes you feel really safe, certainly if you have height fear.

Canopy walk of Mt. Kinabalu National Park

Canopy walk of Mt. Kinabalu National Park

The funny part of the event is that my fear of height was understandable due to the extreme weather conditions we were in. It was a heavy seasonal rain and you couldn’t see anything in front of you. It was pouring so hard that even an umbrella couldn’t stop it but the water kept percolating TROUGH it. We were carrying bags and tried to protect the cameras and all wet and hot and humid made the walk almost unbearable.

(Actually, the scariest thing wasn’t the canopy walks but the trek itself. The steep path had turned into streams and mud was extremely slippery. There was also mud slides. I kept slipping and fell down a couple of times and got nice bruises for souvenir but luckily, we managed to get back down in one piece. Maiku adds.)

Canopy walks of Mt. Kinabalu National Park

Canopy walks of Mt. Kinabalu National Park

We were on canopy walks of Mount Kinabalu, the famous sacred mountain that rises as high as 4000 m of altitude and is well know for it’s national park, a world heritage site of UNESCO.

After the walk on the 60 meters height canopies looking all over the Borneo rain forests, we were lucky to see the biggest flower in the world, the famous Rafflesia that looked like an alien plant with no roots and just stucked to a tree trunk. Its the biggest flower on Earth and a rare one to find, so rare that locals charge about 5 Euro’s per person just to go to see it after they have spotted one somewhere in the jungle. Ours wasn’t the biggest one but an intriguing discovery nerveless.

Rafflesia

Rafflesia

Rafflesia was all red with yellowish dots and huge. It sucked and attracted all kind of flies with its smell, attracted them to their deadly fate as it seems. The biggest ones can even attract rats and squirrels to their death though it don’t eat them, they just wander there and dont get up anymore and then die. We walked into the jungle for a while until we saw it behind a wooden barrier and we were not allowed to touch it! I was so happy since it has always been Maiku’s dream to see it, and now she was jumping out of joy like a little girl.

Then we headed to the magic or at least we expected it to be magic and relaxing place, the hot springs that come from the heart of sacred mountain Kinabalu.

It wasn’t any geyser-like ponds I had expected but the water was led to big pools, tiled pools filled with hot stinking of sulfate water that is supposed to be healthy for your skin and excellent for your back pain. It was not what we expected after seeing the crows of local tourists in the pools, kids splashing around, and we were then wondering is it the water that is actually hot or wether the kids had peed in there…

The water was really hot and it smelled really on the skin even after the shower. It was relaxing though after the hard walk in the wet, wet jungle and sore muscles. But after, Maiku was really angry since I forgot to pack any change of clothes with us, and we had wear the same wet and muddy clothes and be all wet the whole 3 hours trip back to town in the bus with A/C on. Gosh it was cold!

That’s it folks from Borneo, Kota Kinabalu the city that rains like hell and flood its streets and then shine with colors and dragons every Chinese new year, not to forget that it offers an escape to the rain forests of Borneo and to amazing Sabah!

Sasi, now in Finland and missing cheap Asia!

Year of the Ox

13 Aug

Dear readers, its been a while. A loooong while. We came back from the trip almost 6 months ago, and the life here in Finland has been – well, interesting. More about that later, but we still have some posts about the trip. So I just continue from where we stopped: Chinese New Year.
We both have lived in countries where there is a really small Chinese communities, thus we haven’t seen this kind of celebrations before. We absolutely loved to see all the traditions and colourful festivities, and that’s why we are posting now a video and photos for you to see as well.

Year of the Ox is now in half, and I hope you all have had a good and prosperous year so far. We will keep on posting, there is so many things still to tell – also from Finland! Also, we still have heaps of videos we haven’t been able to post here due to the lousy connections during the trip, so keep on checking the videos page the next weeks. More photos still to come. Next destination will be the jungles of Borneo and the much-waited pictures of Orangutans!

Maiku

In the Finnish Jungle.

22 Mar

A big apology for our delay of posting. Believe us we want to write but life here back home has not been easy at all between the re-integration and moving flats and work and Finnish winter and it’s flu we had no time to write anything. We are just busy all the time!

By our Blog time line we are still in Malaysia and we should be writing soon about that part of the trip. So stay tuned and we promise in the next few days we will post new pictures and new Blog!

Sasi from the flea market!

Gong Xi Fa Cai

23 Feb

Gong xi fa cai, or happy new year in Chinese! Sorry we have been lazy lately to update our blog. As most of you know already, we came back home about 2 weeks ago. Getting home was bit of a culture shock, but more of that later. First, we have still some things to tell you. Sasi starts with Chinese!

In the middle of the exotic Malaysian Borneo jungle, we got acquainted with another Malaysian minority which lives in the area: its the Chinese community of Kota kinabalu, at that time they were celebrating the famous Chinese New Year.

Chinese do follow another calendar than the West, the Lunar calendar, where the date of the Chinese New Year matched the dates of our stay in Malaysia. The two weeks celebrations were in the end of January, the actual New Years Day in 26th of Jan this year.

Kota Kinabalu was a very friendly place where more Chinese inhabitant had businesses than Malays, in fact you can see the difference that East Malaysia (i.e. Borneo) was almost dominated by the Chinese while West Malaysia was more majority of Malay.

The celebrations started with the popular Dragon and Lion dances competition in Padang Merdeka Plaza in central KK. This event takes place every year in Sabah province in Borneo with a competition by more than 50 dancing groups from all over the Sabah region. The dancers will form a team of a single color and will be dressed as a lion or dragon. Believe me it´s a hard job!

The teams competed and danced really well, the loud music and drumming, the kids enjoying and the high VIP guests were all impressed, there was lots of fireworks and it seems that the main part that everybody expected was the arrival of Santa (They have a Chinese version of a man in red coming and spreading golden coins or small red envelopes filled with coins that people usually give to children or unmarried adults during the new year festivals. He is supposedly the personification of the God of Fortune or something in Chinese believes.)

Kota Kinabalu gave us the chance to dip into the Chinese culture, even without making it to China. Chinese culture is mostly based about material life, money and what you own is a very big part of life of a person, the more you have and the more you own puts you in a higher level at the afterlife.

Now, this was mostly it from KK, except the jungle trekking and the jungle walking we had and the rain forest climbing. Kota Kinabalu is close to some lovely islands. Only 20 minutes away on a ferry, and we were on some picturesque beaches with azure waters and snorkeling was available but the visibility was not the best due to the rainy season.

Back from Borneo to Kuala Lumpur, the Petronas city, we decided not to stay there for the Happy New Year of Ox celebrations and we took a 2 hours bus ride to Melaka, to old Portugese colony that is nowadays also heavily inhabited by Chinese. The city has kept it charm of the European-Asian mixture.

Melaka was like Venice of the east, with it´s canals running around the city and lovely bridges and cafes serving a mix of Asian/European food. The church in the center was built by the Portugese and it was to me more like a meeting point through the history for all the expats that lived in Malaysia.

Not so far from all this “European” center, you would find the popular Jonker street, a small China Town were you could fill your bags from toys to plastic items to traditional Chinese decoration and it´s the place to try Chinese food specialties like the chicken rice balls, they were just delicious and the place itself the Famosa restaurant located in the middle of the street, which seemed the place to try such a dish had an extraordinary beautiful interior decoration.

The Chinese experience in Malaysia is nothing to regret, I loved it and it gave me a great inside look on tradition, way of thinking and way of doing things in Asia.

As a conclusion, the Chinese new year is a must do on your next year calendar. a real advice from us, go to Borneo and to the Malaysian one because it’s the place to be and it’s just a heaven on earth.

Sasi (with a small hangover)

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