Helsinki- where dat?

Trip Start Sep 07, 2006
Trip End Sep 17, 2006

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Flag of Finland  ,
Thursday, September 7, 2006

First time in forever that I actually SLEPT on the plane. Must be the exhaustion from hauling you guys (you know who you are!) around traffic-crazy Penang. But I would do it all over having people in Penang although there's not much to do unless you're a cemetery aficionado/exercise freak. Both of which I am. But enuff abt Penang lah. This is a travel blog, after all.

I am ashamed to admit that I was on the lookout for worthy purchases even before I stepped out of Helsinki Airport. Marimekko (Finland's trademark) Bags for 39 Euro?? My just-fresh-off-the-ringgit-boat recoiled at that price: almost 200 ringgit. When did Mr. Euro become so powerful? When I stopped paying attention, I guess. Reindeer pelt for 79 Euro? Is that too much? Normal? Will PETA break into our home?

Anyway, dad dragged me out of the airport shops and we were at the hotel in two ticks. I did not sit on the bed because I already planned to go to the museum. Museum very well-planned, whole museum dedicated to history of Finland and Finns from prehistory (which I skipped, like duh, everyone's prehistory is the same, right? err....bimbo moment there) to modern day. The exhibition flowed naturally from one room to the next and everything was explained in soothing sans-serif text behing plastic placards. Shocked meself by actually being interested in the religious exhibitions consisting of old wooden statues of various Saints and the Virgin (recently found out that she was a virgin her WHOLE life, did u know that?).

Having been colonized by first the Swedes (Finland was originally part of the Swedish Kingdom) and then, for slightly over 100 years by the Russians, its no wonder the Finns have low self-esteem about their country. No, did not surmise this after 2 hours in the country, I read it in the Insight Guide at KLIA. Apparently the Japanese feel that way too (about Japan, not Finland). Now thats a surprise.

What I enjoyed most at the museum was the exhibition of the (now numbering 6000 in Finland) indigenous Sami people of Lappland, in the north of Finland. Lappland is in North Europe, consisting of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. The colorful embroidered costumes of the Lapps (they like red, just like me!) contrasted strikingly with the clean, uncluttered and often monochromatic design ethic seen in modern Scandinavia. Contrary to previously-held belief, the Sami did not originate "from Asia" per se, but were part of a European population that was isolated prior to the ice age bla bla bla. I should be able to tell you more from a genetic perspective (polymorphisms and Founder effect etc), but, sadly, i can't.

Of course, the minute I left the museum, it started to rain. Bottomline, hid in a cafe for 1.5 hours nursing a 30 ringgit Cafe Amaretto which I didn't finish because this suaku had never had one but thought it would be somthing she would like, since, you know, it contains alcohol. Dad turned up almost 9pm and I had Reindeer Stir Fry for dinner at the Lasipalatsi Restaurant, self-described as serving "quality food with City views in a Functional-style building". Before you scoff at their use of the word "functional" however, let me tell you that it describes an architectural/aesthetic movement of the 1920s/30s. Look who paid attention at the museum!

Anyway, reindeer tastes like beef. However, don't repeat this because i didn't have the filet (steak), only the strippy version served over mashed potatoes (heavenly) with dill and cranberry sauce on the side. Dad had minced lamb, which doesn't sound very exciting, but it was. Maybe because he poured 1/2 my cranberry sauce on it. For dessert we had "Baked Apple with Something (not Ice) Cream" which turned out to be a diabetic nightmare. Overall, dinner 3.75/5, dessert initially 3/5 but crashing to 1.5 after, like, the 3rd mouthful. ZZZZZZZZZ!
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