Encounters in Finland

Trip Start Feb 02, 2010
Trip End Feb 02, 2011

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Flag of Finland  , Western Finland,
Tuesday, August 10, 2010

After crossing the border into Finland Felix was beginning to feel the characteristic aches in his back and shoulders from sidecar riding on straight roads. We were riding along and thinking about a place to sleep when we went past a rest stop and Felix noticed a heavily loaded scooter parked so he turned around and we went back to the stop. And so we met Kim, a Korean man traveling around the world on his scooter. In eight months (he is already three months into the trip) he plans to ride twenty five thousand kilometres. So far he has ridden from Korea to Japan, through Siberia and across Russia and is now on his way up Finland to Nordcap in Norway then down Europe through Morocco and all the way through Africa to Cape Town then back up and around to India. A very amazing trip. At first he told us he was doing it to gain practical experience so he could open a travel agency back home that caters to the needs of motorcycle travelers, but later we found out that this is only part of the reason. After we spent more time with him we found out that he hadn’t really wanted to travel the world that much - he is doing it in memory of his mother who we think died in a car accident and that she really wanted to see all these places but never had a chance, he takes her photo with him and shows her the world. It is difficult to be sure of specific details as we do not speak any Korean and it is difficult for Kim to fully express himself in English though he speaks it quite well, getting better every day. 

 Once again after having eaten we couldn't’t be bothered getting back on the bike. We spent some time talking with Kim and also met a friendly Finnish man returning from a holiday with his family in a camper-van. Before we went to bed it started raining and rained on and off the rest of the night. And this night we really got flooded. Because we had set up in a car park on asphalt the water didn’t soak into the ground, instead forming puddles which flowed right under our tent. We hadn’t set up our mats, we were just sleeping on our supersuits, so the water was soaked right up though the floor into our suits and into our sleeping bags where they weren’t on the suits. Lesson learned - don’t camp in a puddly car park. By morning the rain was totally pelting down. When we emerged from the tent, Felix taking all the rain, wet bedding and clothing right in his stride, me very close to a rage, on the handlebars of Nina was a little plastic bag containing two little sachets of instant oats and an invitation to visit the Finnish family from the camper-van at their home where we could shower, sauna and wash and dry some clothes. We looked over at Kim, who had also camped in the rest stop and he too had just found a similar package.

 An opportunity too good and kind to miss so we set out on the three to four hundred kilometre ride, thankfully in the right direction for us, but for Kim even though it was in the direction he had just come from, he decided to ride with us anyway. Being offered a shower is a hard thing for a budget traveler to refuse. It was such a long day’s ride and finally when we arrived at the address given to us no one was home. Somehow our slow old Nina had beaten the camper-van.

 So we went into the forest about one kilometre away to camp for the night. We found a very nice spot in a sandy pine forest. It was raining again now and the emotions I had been feeling all day, the wild see-sawing was getting so crazy, I can’t explain it with any depth, the confusion I was feeling and thinking. Sometimes all I want is to be away from where we are but I feel like there is nowhere else to go and then later I realise how lucky I am to be having this experience, the times when the sun is out and we are riding along faultlessly - I love it. Felix always reminds me that in five years or so I’m not going to remember the rain and getting wet, having to wait and wait for repairs and constant breakdowns - well I might remember all that but nowhere near as much as I will remember the beautiful scenery, the good food, how happy we were together, and the kindness of friends and strangers. It’s just so hard in the moment to take myself back to the happy parts, I get so deeply bogged down in the misery of the moment. So  right in that moment, when I saw how wet the tent was, it was still raining and I was so tired and irritated, I cracked it, I had to go for a walk alone to cool off, I wandered through the forest crying and crying.

 Finally when I had gotten myself together, I came back. Felix was drying out the tent and making a lovely bed for me to crawl into. I really can’t believe how he stays so calm and cheery with me, his patience and continuous love and support when I’m in a good mood and when I’m as grumpy as they come is unbelievable. He is always  trying to apologise for bringing me into this and I must remind him I knew what was coming and I chose to come. And not only that, the whole experience has been invaluable. If we had just taken a car and driven from destination to destination sure it would have probably been all happy and cheery and safe and warm but what memories would I have to take home afterwards? A few nice pictures of a pretty lake and some fancy buildings in some dirty, stinking cities? I would have learned very little about myself and Felix - so although it has been such a great struggle at times, from this experience I am and will continue to reap great rewards. And to have a friend like Felix by my side the whole time, loving me and keeping me company couldn't’t be better. So when we crawled into the tent after some really good Korean noodles from Kim for dinner, with the rain still splattering on the roof, we lay their whispering so as to not keep Kim awake in the tent next tot us, trying to sort through some of the thoughts in my head.

 This morning we woke to the sound of rain still pattering on the tent roof. We packed up anyway and headed over to the house of our new Finnish friends with the camper-van, Ari and Mari and their two boys, who had by now returned home. They welcomed us so warmly and in no time at all we were feeling much better - after a long  hot shower, a real Finnish sauna and climbing into clean clothes. Our leathers, supersuits, tent and tarps are hanging out to dry and we have been offered the opportunity to stay a night in their cosy ‘Mökki’ - Finnish for Hytta, which we will gratefully accept.

If you can read Korean, it will be well worth reading Kim’s travel blog at www.adventour.co.kr/
Even when badly translated into English by an online automated translation website it is a pleasure to read as well.
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Mari on

I`m so sorry now that our Ikea-trip took soooooo long! It has been a pleasure to have you all as our guests ...(was that right...) and we wish that the rest of your journey will continue much better!

Arne Hanasand on

We miss you and talk about you every day.
Nice to be a part of the story you can tell further to you granchildren :)
We hope that Nina is still going stronger and stronger and will bring you safe further on your tour.
I have had knee surgery,so i have som reeding on your blog :)
Regards from me and Lena in Aafjord

Julie on

Ah....I get so into your beautiful writing. Such lovely descriptions of moments, scenery, emotions and so on. Thank you so much for sharing. What an amazing trip you are making and what wonderful, WONDERFUL people you two are!!! I have tears running down my cheeks...that's how moved I am ;o)

Virgil on

Thank you Floss and Felix for taking the time to document your journey (physical and emotional) through this blog. Not only have the two of you learned so much about each other, but this opportunity has allowed all of us back at home to learn so much too. You are both amazing people, who we love so much.

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