Tuesday, December 31, 2002
when i was 18...
on Dec 31 i went out with yuu, my best friend at that time. we went to the cityhall square. we decided not to wait the countdown but instead to go to her home. i called home and told my father that i wouldn't go back coz it's too late and my home is quite far from the centre. he hanged up angrily... and i was upset about that...
when i was 19...
i went out with MACY, my best friend at that time. i had a crush on a guy and all the night i was thinking where he was and with whom. MACY and i planned to go to cityhall square, but there were so many people at the metro stations. dunno what to do, we failed to call others, as the mobile network were all blocked. quite an insane world. at last we went to boys' dorm and found a friend was still there. after countdown at his room, we two went to her home in Muja. next afternoon we had hot pot with her sis and friend. the first meal of 1999, hot and spicy...
when i was 20...
we some classmates had hot pot at Amadis' room at boys' dorm. at that time i had crush on another guy. he came to Ama's room before he went out for countdown. i don't know why i didnt follow him... 10 minutes before 12am, i went out with Ama, his roommate Odin and another girl to the presidential building square. realised it would be too late for the countdown, we ran on the wide Ketagelan Boulevard...
when i was 21...
after 4 years of staying outside on the new year's eve, i decided to stay at home this year. my parents were surprised for that...
Karen is going back to Taiwan on Jan 1. yesterday we went to Nokia head office to look for some souvenir at its giftshop. later we went to David's place and i cooked the Turkish meatball for them. too much meat this time... fortunately they all liked it. today we gonna go to some jazz performance first and see the firework at the Senate Square. not sure how long we will/can stay outside under the -20C. but we gonna all stay at David's place for Karen's last night in Finland...

Monday, December 30, 2002
morning insanity
i hope my finnish neighbours won't hate me for listening to
Almora, a turkish gothic heavy metal band, in the early morning... after a sleepless night, (apparently the family-with-kids lifestyle didnt work on me thoroughly), dunno why i was suddenly so desperate to listen to their music.

Huomenta, Helsinki!!

moonlight dream
humming this song over and over again after watching the film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Tiger" this afternoon. reminiscing the last scene that Jen jumped from the mountain. hopeless love... sad...

burnt tortilla
this evening i happened to check the fridge and surprisingly found many of what i bought yesterday will expire soon. so i decided to cook tortilla which Yin and LaiYee taught me. running out of paprika yesterday, only lettuce for the vegetable part. everything went well (fortunately there's some instruction on the bag of seasoning mix), but the meat still tasted not so good as the one Yin cooked... :(

anyway when i finally prepared everything ready and began to eat, got a phone call from a friend who asked me to help him check some bus info. so i put dowm my tortilla to check for him. when it finished i came back to my dining table, the one on the plate was already cooled down, and the other one in the oven was totally burnt and looked like a chocolate...

this noon got a call from Karen. she suggested us not to go to Cafe Engel but to have some taiwanese noodle and watch "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" at Mai's flat. just during the 2-minute walk to the tram stop, i felt my face, my nose, my lips, even my hands under the gloves and my thighs under the double trousers were gonna frozen. the streets were so empty. only the snowstorm blowed wildly yet so quietly in the winds... next week i probably will suffer from experience the legendary -20C of Helsinki. cool, getting excited to see how we gonna celebrating the coming of 2003!! *wink*

Sunday, December 29, 2002
the meatball
>>click here to see the pic

put too much rice. anyway not bad. i think you girls can try red one next time. it tasted better than green one ;-)

i may be used to the dutch lifestyle. feel quite sleepy now...

Saturday, December 28, 2002
a day in the life
weather: -13蚓 (feels like -21蚓) mostly cloudy
dawn: 9:27
sunset: 15:17

event: after-christmas sale; got the travel card for transport; did some shopping for my empty fridge (for my empty stomach as well...); miss the "white cheese" i had in turkey and mozzarella bread with edam i had on the airplane (that'd be the reason why i like KLM...)

listening to: thanks to Ayda and Selmin, had a nice morning with "the winner takes it all" by Abba, the Carpenters' "Yesterday once more" and "Rainy days and Mondays" (dunno why i thought of them after listening to Abba's), Alice Cooper's "You and me" and various versions of "Somewhere over the Rainbow" (can't find Robin the frog though...)

dinner: trying to cook the turkish meatball that selmin taught me, while listening to Brad Mehldau. an evening of quietude. just put them into pot and boiled them. so far everything seemed to go well (hopefully). but cooking for oneself is somehow difficult. at first i just wanted to cook one paprika. i used one medium-size tomato and onion, 6 spoons of minced meat and half measure-cup of rice. at last i had to use 3 paprika to fill in all these mixture. anyway, i'm hungry now...

come away with me
listening to this cd of Norah Jones i just bought in schipol (also bought the dvd of "Apocalypse Now" and "in the mood for love"), drinking the turkish coffee brought from istanbul, thinking of my trips and my friends, no matter where you are, best wishes to you... gonna write some travelogues, although not knowing how to start, i'm sure, since i start, i'll find my way...

btw, thanks a lot to Yin, finally i saw Wong Kar-wai's "Ashes of Time" which i always wanted to watch since i knew Lokman. ;-) also Wong's "Happy Together," Ang Lee's "Eat, Drink, Men, Women" and Kurosawa Akira's last film "Madadayo." waiting to see the 7-up documentary of HonKwan. i can't imagine if next time i see her, she'd be already a teenager, and i'd approach my 30s then. (jesus...) would we have some great time again as those days we played and laughed together? maybe then we can talk with each other in some language... ahh i miss her. and seeing those pictures she made for me makes me so sad now. i really hope to see her brilliant cunning smile again!!

Friday, December 27, 2002
so cold, Helsinki!!
back from Amsterdam to Helsinki, which is still a white world with snow flying in the air. had never thought that i would miss it a lot like this! weird complicated feeling: i really feel as i'm coming back "home"...

thanks a lot to Selmin and Yin, and your friends and family. i'm really happy to meet you all. hope to see you soon in taiwan :-)

Wednesday, December 25, 2002
from Amsterdam...
speak some voice for whom may wonder what the hell i'm doing now. arrived in amsterdam last friday evening and met Yin and his family. (thanks a lot for instructing them to call me "jie-jie" [elder sister] *wink* to the lok uncles :P) went to Cologne the next day to see the christmas market next to the cathedral. also visited the roman historical musuem. maybe due to the six-hr drive, Yin was very ill on sunday, so i went with Yin's wife LaiYee's to her brother YongChun's house to see his new-born son. then YongChun drove me to Zhanse Schans to see those traditional dutch houses and windmills, then to Amsterdam center to take a look at the chinese area. on monday went to Van Hogh Museum in the morning, then met lok brothers and emmy. today went to Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank house and did some shopping at chinese supermarket. tomorrow we're going to Kroller-muller museum to see those 300+ paintings of Van Gogh. ok later... (pfff)

Monday, December 16, 2002
from Istanbul...
Having been staying in istanbul for one week. Probably due to this amazing city and all those amazing people i've met here, too amazed to put my thoughts and feelings into words. Anyway just wanted to make some sounds to break the frozen silence here.
Last but not least, have to thanks my wonderful friend Selmin, thanks a lot, you know, girl! :-)

Monday, December 09, 2002
Leaving on a Jet Plane
" All my bags are packed. I'm ready to go.
I'm standing here outside your door,
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye.
But the dawn is breaking, it's early morn."
in less than 12 hours, i'm leaving this hibernant country for a while, first flying to Amsterdam, (yes KLM again...), this time only stop for 50 minutes, then to the unique city which across Europe and Asia, to taste the fantastic food (gonna be a salvation to my indigesting stomach after these 3 months of finnish food session), to watch the whirling dervishes (hopefully...), to buy my carpets, and of course to see Selmin and her friends. :-)

all my bags haven't been packed ready though... and i got a return date to my lovely Helsinki for sure. some wistful feeling and queer thoughts came to me this afternoon when fooling around in the centre, like some unexpected destined encounter in the last few hours before my departure...

"I don't believe in destiny. I don't believe in love. I don't believe that anything will ever be enough... I don't believe in miracles. I don't believe in truth. I don't believe that anything can recreate your youth..."

inhale...exhale... i'd better go back my packing!! any tips? (of course i know not to bring too many clothes!!)

Saturday, December 07, 2002
Fire and Ice
"Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I�ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice."

me and michiko were so lucky that we joined the Finns to celebrate their country's 85th birthday. we found the graveyard by chance, and witnessed the thousands of candles flaming on the snow. quite a solemn and surreal scene. then we joined the torchlight procession, also with a torch. the stick was amazingly cold, as frozen. we had to hold it alternately so that our hands wouldn't get hurt. don't laugh us too weak for that. we walked along with the procession, from the graveyard thru the centre and passed by Presential Palace to say hello to the President then arrived at the Senate Square, totally about 2 hours under the -10C with the freezing wind which made the tamperature feel like -20C!!! but it's really a nice atmosphere and unforgettable experience and some kind of personal record, huh?

after that we went to cafe for warm-up and watched the president shake hands with her 3000 guests on TV. after 2 hours till we finished our dinner at Hesburger, she was still shaking hands with the neverending-like guests!!

these days i appreciate life here more and more. some problems and hard time are still there. but when i come to think that not everyone has the opportunity to have such more real understanding about this country, i feel glad that i didn't choose other "popular" countries but Finland.

Friday, December 06, 2002
the outsider
"The rich and high positioned fill the Capital,
while you, alone, are careworn and dejected."

just came back from a party and self-re-confirmed again that it's not my cup of tea. puff... at last i just sat at my friend's room and began to _read_ Baudelaire's "Les Fleurs du Mal," in French and Italian! i got the chance to flee away when my italina flatmate wanna come back to pick up her wine.

weird... can you imagine S.E.N.S' "Moonlight Dream," the Cranberries' "Hollywood" and the Beatles' "I am the Walrus" echo in one's head simultaneously?

Thursday, December 05, 2002
about the three previous entries
just got them from Foreign Student Mailing List. i always enjoy reading mails from Outi, chairperson of
ESN-HYY/Helsinki, very nice and energetic person. what a pity i gonna miss the chance to experience the Finnish December... anyway i still have four days to see around, and hopefully we have quite a long winter here! ;-)

listening to "Here Comes the Sun" - here comes the sun. here comes the sun. and I say it's all right...

Winter sports and snow fun
This year winter came earlier as in the previous years and we have more snow to enjoy than before. Now when your exams are soon done and you have a couple of weeks before you leave for your Winter holidays (or leave Finland totally, sniif), you can maybe try some of these suggestions. Let愀 hope the snow won愒 melt before March/April!

1. Walking is a good way to enjoy the snow. The whole landscape is transformed with this white coat and places that normally might seem ugly, can be look lovely with a snow cover. Try especially forests, parks, seaside, islands (Suomenlinna) and Seurasaari.

2. When the sea is frozen, walking on the ice is a great past-time. But remember, it is NOT safe to walk on the ice before January. And anyway, see what the locals do. It is often windy out there, so have enough clothes on. Especially on a sunny Sunday in February, the ices surronding the centre of Helsinki are dotted with people.

3. Have you ever tried fishing through a small hole in the ice? Why not give it a try! Again, you will see many people on ice here in Helsinki, mostly men, trying to catch some fish. But the main reason is not to get something, it is also a sort of meditation. Some people even fish with nets, but that might be a bit too much for you.

4. To be a bit sporty, try at least ice-skating (or ice-hockey), cross country skiing (Palohein� is good place in Helsinki, because you can rent skis there. You can go there with the bus number 66 A), slalom, snow-boarding and sledging (again I would advice you to try Palohein�). If you want something more exreme, there is always the chance to do ice-climbing, swimming in the icy water (avanto) and husky-sledgies. In these pages
http://www.hel.fi/liv/lajit/jaa.html you have a nice list of all the ice rinks in Helsinki. Only two of them (Kallio and Lassila) are regularely maintained, and you can rent skates there. The other ones have ice, if the city of Helsinki has time, money etc.

5. The snow is a great material to build and play with. You can make anything from plain angels to great snow castles. There is every year some competition in snow building around Helsinki. And two years ago they even built a real church from snow on Senaatintori. And of course the more northbound you get, the more snow you have - in Kemi there has been traditionally a HUGE snow castle.

6. Nothing beats Lapland. The winter sport centres have been open for a month already, and in some places you can ski until May. Rent a cabin with friends and stay one week - a weekend is not enough. The tourist offices at Esplandi know all this and a lot more, so ask them.

7. If you think it is too cold outside, you can always stay in you room, drinking hot chocolate and reading a good book in a candle light. Or invite your friend for "pikkujoulu", eat well and have a good time. And think about the storm outside and be happy.

About the coldness - do dress warmly. Helsinki is a windy town and if the temperature is -10 C, but it愀 windy, it feels like -20 C or more in your skin. Most of the warmth is lost in your head, so have a good woollen hat (don愒 follow my style, I go hatless and loose soon my brain cells). Double mittens and woollen socks are good as well.

I want to end this message with quoting freely the lyrics of one of my favourite bands, Ultra Bra: "Snow covered all our bad sides, greed, selfishness..." At least I become always happy, when the snow arrives. I hope that you too.

Have fun, Outi

Christmas fairs in Helsinki
Christmas fairs are typical for December. They are organised by all possible groups and normally you can find delicious home-made food and hand-made crafts in them. I list here some of the biggest and most popular markets, so you know where to shop all your Christmas presents:

Womens� Christmas Fair (Naisten Joulumessut) 4.-8.12. One of my favourites, held in Wanha Satama, Katajanokka (Pikku Satamakatu 3-5, easily reachable by trams 2 and 4). All the goods should be done by women, and you can find e.g. jewellery, knitwear, carpets, pottery, leather and woodwork, clothes, bakings and other delicasies, Christmas decorations... If I remember correctly, this fair is open from 10 to 18 daily. There is a tiny entrance fee, but when you are in, you won愒 regret!

Thomas� Fair (Tuomaan markkinat) 9.-22.12. The whole Esplanadi is full of food, marmalede, socks, crafts, whatever you can imagine. If it gets too cold, you can also buy warm sausages and coffee.

Christmas Fair at Vanha 12.-23.12. Open mon-fri 10-20, weekends 10-18, this place is again a must. A bit more design than in the other markets, but I惴 sure you can find the present you are looking for. Candles, biodynamic herbs, hats, clothes, pottery... name it, they have it.

Christmas basar at Caisa 13.-14.12. Tired of Finnish design? Here you can find exotic crafts, art from all over the world, tasty food. Open fri 12 - 18, sat 10-18. And the place -cultural centre Caisa, Kaisaniemenkatu 6 B (near Mets酹alo).

Still not seen enough? Well, then visit all the indoor market halls, which have been decorated for the Christmas season. I can recommend you three (well, there are no more...):

-In Hakaniemi you have this red brick house (Hakaniemen kauppahalli, just next to the outdoor market place), where you have in the first floor food and in the second floor all kind of other things. Wonderful atmosphere, sit in one of the cafeterias and meet some real Finns.

-In the harbour, near all the big ships on Etel酺anta you have the old market hall. A bit more touristic than the Hakaniemi hall, but still a nice place to visit.

-In Hietaniemi (where the tram number 6 ends) you have the third market hall. Recently renovated, this market hall is specialised on organic food. A bit far away from the beaten track, but worth a visit. Has a splendid collection of cheese (for all you French out there).

Almost forgot the Kiseleff basar, which right now is like a dream to all chilren and alike. The prices could be a bit expensive for us studnets, but maybe you find a bargain. This building is in the corner of Unioninkatu and Aleksanterinkatu and has many small crafts shops.

All the best, Outi

What is happening in December
I guess you wonder what we Finns are doing around Christmas time. I hope that you have some idea about it after having read these lines.

Preparing for Christmas (joulu in Finnish) starts already in late November. Kids write their letters to Santa (joulupukki), there are lots of pre-Christmas parties, first decorations appear in the streets etc. You might have noticed that a little bit of light does no harm in our darkness, and that might be the reason for all the colurful stars and candles in the windows.

December in Finland is a real Christmas month - that愀 what December in Finnish (joulukuu) literally means. Everythig starts in the first Advent (adventti). Advent lasts four weeks and is celebrated every Sunday by lightning first one, then two etc candles. People start to decorate their houses with christmassy things. We do have a lot of international stuff, but the traditional decorations include "himmeli" made of straw (a complex 3D thing hanging from the ceiling), wooden cross and wreahths in the doors. Kids have their calendars with funny pictures and chocolate.

Churches are full of people singing together Christmas songs. A typical song to start the season is Hoosianna-hymn. My favourite is "Varpunen jouluaamuna" (sparrow on the Christmas morning) - so beautiful and so melancolic. Another popular thing before Christmas are the different markets. I think that every organisation arranges one. In Helsinki there are every year three or four bir markets selling good food and handicrafts. Starboys (tiernapojat) sing their old story that comes originally from Germany. Herodes, King of the Moors, Knight and Starboy are still popular, especially among children and in Oulu (and us ESNers).

Two celebrations before Christmas are the Independence day (itsen鄜syysp鄜v�) 6.12. and St.Lucia day (Lucian p鄜v�) 13.12. This year Finland will be 85 years old. We celebrate the day quite solemnly. Students leave wreaths in the graves of the soldiers (at 16.00) and have a torchlight procession through the centre (at 17.00). If you want to join this, go to the corner of streets Hietaniemenkatu and Arkadiankatu (near the graveyard) at 16.30. You will get your torch and walk with hundreds of other students. Good atmosphere! There are celebrations all over the country. Meritious people get medals of honours. In the evening half of the country watches the television as the presindent shakes hands with her 3000 quests at the traditional Independent day ball (starts around 18.00). And of course there is flagging.

St.Lucia day is more a Swedish tradition, and it is best celebrated by the Swedish speaking people. The most important thing is the choosing of the Lucia maid. She is always a young blond girl. In the evening the new Lucia comes down the steps of the chruch at the Senate Square bringing the light to the people. There is always a parade afterwards. Lucia visits hospitals, old peoples� homes, schools, kindergartens etc and this way spreads her light all over Finland. This year the Lucia maid will be crowned in Tuomikirkko at 17.00 and at 18.00 she comes down the stairs. Prepare to have a big crowd.

In Finland the most important Chistmas day is the Christmas Eve, 24th of December. The days before everybody has been cleaning the house, buying the last presents, preparing the food, decorating the Christmas tree or travelling somewhere (counryside, relatives or Canary Islands). Everything should be ready at 12.00 on 24.12., when Turku declares the Christmas peace. Shops close and Chrismas starts. In Finland almost everybody does the same things and eats the same food around Christmas, and so at noon we have a bowl full of rice porridge with cinnamon & sugar, or dried fruit soup. The one who finds the hidden almond in the poridge, will be lucky for the next year.

After the porridge & declaration of the Christmas peace people go to the graves, leaving candles for the dead relatives. Then follows often Christmas sauna and church. The big buffet dinner is eaten around 16-19. The ham dominates the table, and is accompanied with casseroles, pickled herrings, raw salmon, beetroot salad etc... and not to forget chocolate, nuts, raisins, gingerbread and hristmas stars. Santa brings the presents after the dinner. Then people just enjoy their presents and eat more.

The real Christmas day is spent mostly with the family, eating and relaxing. Some marks of life appear on the Boxing day, when people get outside, and might go to theatre and sledging. But the eating continues still. Usually there is so much food that it lasts about four days.

New Year愀 eve is celebrated with fireworks, by melting tin and predicting the future, partying and eating some snacks (like sausages and potato salad). Epiphany (loppiainen) 6.1. ends the Christmas season. By then the Christmas tree should be thrown out from the house.

Enjoy December. Outi

Fazer trip
today i visited the factory of Fazer, the biggest chocolate maker of Finland (and they said also in Scandinavia). first they showed us a short film, in Finnish, funny and not so boring though. then we walked around the factory, with haircover, lab coat, and shoecover. (i should have taken a pic of myself... should be quite cool!) to see how the chocolate is produced. of course we had chance to taste many sorts of candies. now i'm so sick of chocolate. *duh* i also did some xmas shopping there. hope you guys will like Finnish chocolates ;-)

Wednesday, December 04, 2002
bad luck...
- huge bruise on the knee
- indigestion for weeks
- sleeplessness again
- knuckle scalded by the oven
- germ infection on the eye
- hopeless lethargy during the day
- lamp broken... (hopefully the desklamp still works)

drink like a fish...
"two weak persons don't necessarily make both strong..."
tonight on my way home, a drunk finnish man kept mumbling on the tram. very annoying and horrible. however, no one came to shout him quiet, but just endured in silence, ignored, or squinted at him. i was so scared coz there were fewer and fewer passengers, and he kept changing his seat, getting close to me. i'm not so impetuous as Jeon Ji Hyun in "My Sassy Girl," i just looked outside or down, or rather say, tried to keep a stiff face, while weighing up which stop to get off. finally, he got off before me (i was so worried what if he follows me... but, wow, he seemed to still remember which stop to get off), and i was so relieved.

i can't help thinking of the Finnish movie "Min� ja Morrison" (I and Morrison). quite shocked and stunned after watching it, and since then i can't erase the line "drink like a fish" from my mind. i can say it's the worst problem of Finland. really rediculous and sad that many Finns go to Estonia or Russia just for getting drunk. also interesting that with another Finnish film "Kuutamolla" (Lovers and Leavers) "they both star a young woman lost in her own life, in search of herself, struggling and getting disappointed in the process, and thinking that their happiness depends on finding the right man." (
excerpt from this introduction) while i think, in real life, finnish women are much more independent than in film...

so i decided to cook something to cheer myself up. hopefully they were surprisingly successful:

1) stir-fly green pepper and sausage, with sweet thai chilli sauce. amazingly fantastic taste. thanks to Chi, now i know the difference between sausage and hotdog. in taiwan, sausage is sausage, hotdog is hotdog. the name doesn't change whether you eat it with bread or not...
2) tuna salad, with potato, carrot, onion, green pepper, flavoured by black pepper. the potato was supposed to be smashed, but i didnt make it soft enough, so just remained as big cubes. anyway it tasted not bad.

i must be also a bit insane that i should post something like this... horrible, the coldness of the winter.

Tuesday, December 03, 2002
Spirited Away
just went to see this japanese anime. actually, i've seen it once in taiwan (with only 1/8 price...) this time, of course there are only finnish and swedish subtitles. and i've to admit that my japanese is still not so good enough to comprehend a movie. but i enjoyed a lot. (well, i didn't cry at the pigs scene ;p)

there's a scene that Haku gave Chihiro some riceballs and told her to be independent and brave, thus she could survive and save her parents. i couldnt control my tears when Chihiro began to cry, thinking of those hard time during the past three months. it's tougher than i had expected. well, c'est la vie, and hopefully i'll be doing better and better!!

Monday, December 02, 2002
just went to the finnish film evening held by
ESN. after the first movie, i saw a friend off and left to find some snacks for my empty stomach. but i got another kind of emptiness afterwards. at first i planned to spend 1 hour in the cafe, then go back to watch the 3rd movie. but i couldnt focus on my book, neither my eyes nor my mind. soon later i rushed back to my flat. maybe i was still stunned by the first movie, or due to some indescribable mood, that keeps hitting me like the wave, or just surrounds me like the air, and i was lost, in the middle of nowhere, aware that i'm alone again.

I'm always very happy to hear from this friend that he's coming to visit Helsinki again to spend the weekend. i'm not that kind of talkative or sociable person, who could get along with people easily. but somehow i can talk almost everything with him without any scruples. and i like to hear his stories about living in the countryside of finland. or talk about family, friends, school, taiwan, books, whatever... i cherish to have a friend as him.

this time i felt sorry to him, however, that i didnt have any special plan for this weekend, and i'm really tired recently. most of time i just let him stay at my flat, using my laptop, while i read my "Norwegian Wood." maybe he would feel a bit bored...

when he visits me, i'm also trying to learn how to be a good host and guest, and thinking about my upcoming trip... these days feel quite confused and uneasy that whether my visit would disturb my 'hosts' too much?...

wordsworth's garden
for oft when on my couch I lie
in vacant or in pensive mood,
they flash upon that inward eye
which is the bliss of solitude;
and then my heart with pleasure fills,
and dances with the daffodils.

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