across the arctic circle...
when i woke up from my unstable sleep, i found we're surrounded by trees, and heavy mists. after the 12-hr trip of night train, we arrived at Roveniemi at 8am. it was raining, and cold. i began to worry whether i could survive thru the following 3 days. when i left Helsinki, it's warm and i had no time to check about the weather in Lapland. actually my friend told me about the trip just one day before it. i was fascinated immediately and wanted to go with her. so the next day after my french class, we rushed thru the same road for 3 times for getting a stamp from the university in order to buy a student discount card at the railway station. unfortunately i didnt bring any certificate to prove i'm studying in the university, so i had to get a temporary uni-card by paying 12 euros. and then when i wanted to withdrew some cash from ATM, i couldnt read the instruction in finnish at all. after failed for 4 times, my card was eaten by the machine. i was totally in lost and panic. hopefully later i went to the bank and they told me i seemed to remember the wrong password and my card will be sent to my flat in couple of days. but i began to hesitate whether should i go to Lapland under such impetuous decision and deficient preparation...
anyway, finally i bought the round-trip ticket to Roveniemi and went back to my flat to pack my stuff. i just have a small nike backpack, and compared to others, my baggage was incredibly small. i wonder whether i was too ignorant for travelling... i just brought a small jacket, a sweater, a knitted jersey, two t-shirts, a normal trousers, pajamas, a wool scarf and a silk one. and i wore just a pair of plain shoes. i don't have a big jacket nor boots which could protect me from water, winds and coldness.
so at first it's kind of miserable. and something made us unpleasant... anyway later we took a bus and went north for about 1-hour drive to a hostel Visatupa.
after knowing that i'm from taiwan, the host gave me a warm handshake and smile and told me that i was their first chinese guest! :-)
during the two days we had great sauna in the evening. there is a lake just beside the sauna hut. and yes i did run into the lake when i feel warmed enough or couldnt stand staying in the hot and steaming sauna hut, which is a very traditional smoke sauna, using burning woods and heaten stones, and using a ladle to throw water on the sauna stove, which then gives off more steam and heat. what a pity that i cannot swim... but i still went to the lake four times for the first day and twice the second day. :-) if you've never tried, you'd think it's incredible and impossible to jump into such a freezing lake. yet you'd feel amazingly refreshed if you did jump into the water. it's cold, but fantastic. i think i'm addicted to sauna now.
we had a small hiking the second day. the autumn nature scenery in this northern land was marvellous and stunning. the sunshine was not so shining nor warm as we had in helsinki. the wind and the air was chilling. but i was amazed by the thousand colours of the trees and plains. and felt the fade of the summer and the breezing of winter's coming... and sometimes the lands were as some soft and damp thick carpet. when walking to these areas, it's really not a very nice yet even horrible experience, as walking wrong into some forbidden and mysterious zone...
we left Visatupa on the third day at noon and went to Santa Claus Village, where the offical arctic circle maker is. it's cool and like an unreal a dream to cross the painted line on the ground. and there is a joint of signals directed to different cities of many countries and marked with the kilometers to show how far they are, like London, Armsterdam, Berlin, Tokyo, NYC... and i was so surprised to find Taipei on it!!! and my friends were amazed how far it is: 7804km.
last but not least, what i also enjoyed the most during the trip was to meet some new good friends. there were 21 people in the whole group. most of time i was just with 3 italian girls, one german guy and a scottish boy. the 3 italian girls are the typically italians: very nice, friendly, energetic, funny, and talkative. sometimes i felt they're too noisy though. :P
well i think the weather here do begin to have some influence on me... i felt i became a colder and more quiet person, i don't mind if i'm viewed as cool and unfriendly, i enjoy living in my own little world even when being with others... but thanks to those new friends here, they're really nice and made me feel i'm not alone or blanked as outsider... i do appreciate them whole-heartedly. :-)