August 31, 2004

The exotic side of Leijonakaupunki


We both have been so exhausted and nervous after last week, so on Sunday we decided to forget about everything and just go to Bukit Timah nature reserve. It was pretty amazing as you can see.



They have quite big secrets hiding there in the forest. So, of course, "everything is protected"... I think this is the most clever restrictive statement you could think of. No need to specify what is protected. Everything. How about "everything is restricted"? There should be a board saying that when you arrive to Changi airport... And of course, no feeding monkeys, no no, can you see? - the fine is 10 000 Leijonakaupunki dollars (about 5000 euros). I think they had to put it as some of the monkeys grew so big... :)



The forest was really amazing and it is half an hour away from where we stay now. It is quite popular for local families to go there for a walk or jogging. First we wondered why so many people carry towels there, after half an hour we knew - can you see Kaitsu's forehead? Up and down the track in +30C, pretty tough..


We were just talking with Kaj that during these 2 weeks we haven't had yet "oh, if only I would be in Helsinki, I'd..." or "I wish we've never left..." (apart from missing all dear friends, of course...) We don't miss even Torkkeli. Maybe it will hit us when we settle down a bit more, because up until now its only running and trying to sort things out. And then doing the pleasant things - like this walking in the forest... The "everyday" hasn't started yet...



At night we went to Womad world music festival. As I understand, it is quite famous and there were some really cool artists performing. I myself never heard of Zap Mama, she's from Cameroon and sings songs from all over Africa with the band. The band was playing in a small hall, they were answering questions and improvising/jamming on the stage. It was so amazing! I missed Sateenkaari choir so much! (oh yeah, if only I'd in Helsinki, I'd go to Sateenkaari..." first time slipped off my mouth...:) Kaj also had some Reiki treatment where the guy was balancing his chakras, later he said that he felt some little animal moving inside his belly (like in "Alien"). I hope it will not become a habit...


Otherwise it seems that the freedom of speech is quite an issue here. The speakers corner that I was writing about in another post (place where you can speak up without getting a license to speak publicly) seems to have interesting restrictions - the talk can not be about religion or race, there can not be foreign lecturers, it is not alowed to use banners, megaphones and anything that could escalate into demonstration. There's also something about registering non-governmental societies, they changed the law to make it easier except if the society deals with: religion, race issues, questions position or necessity of any language, deals with sexual minorities, human rights, animal rights, environmental issues, martial arts, etc.. Hmm... Study hard (possibly in Australia), find a job, buy a HDB apartment, get 3 kids, pay your mortgage, shop till you drop, go on weekends to Malaysia or Bali and don't think...

Posted by gkligyte at 09:54 AM | Comments (1)

August 27, 2004

Maybe it will not last...


This tiger I have found last weekend (oh no, it was 2 weeks ago?) in Sentosa island. The whole thing is going kinda to hell, Kaitsu worked 22 hours yesterday (finished at 7 in the morning), slept 6 hours the night before and they are still calling him in at midnight tonight. I don't get it. Seriously. They bring in lunch, so he can not even see the daylight... If it goes like this for longer, I think pretty soon we'll be back exploring more humane horizons... :)

I'm also stressed out about this apartment thing and it is not easy - the agreement that you make is binding for 12 months. You can not leave, if you are fired or break your neck and sit in the wheelchair, you have to pay full 12 months... So you really don't want to make a bad choice of place... So much stress!!!

Posted by gkligyte at 12:09 PM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2004

It has been a week...


...since we started looking for an apartment. I don't know if our standards and requirements are too high, maybe we're not so much aware about the realities here in Leijonakaupunki, but... we can't find anything yet. Some nice places that we've seen are over our budget... You should see me when I'm chatting with agents, by now I'm on quite equal terms with them. I'm very converse about different locations and benefits of living here and there, I'm also really getting the grip of the Singlish: "washing machine? Can. Tomorrow second viewing? Can or not? Can can. ok-lah" Forget the nice sentence structures you learned at school, say the essentials and don't forget the "lah", which I'm still not quite sure what it means (Kaitsu says it is confirming the statement). Singlish is still understandable (when they try speak clear to you), but some claim that it is a separate language (from English). I've read in the paper about a survey that most young Leijonakaupunkilaiset consider Singlish to be one of the core things sustaining their national identity. I've read about Singlish before coming here, but never realized it is so different from English.

We gave already one "letter of intent" (that we want to rent an apartment) for a charming young Indian family, but I'm not quite sure that we'll get the place or even that it is a good deal for us (once again over our budget). Still few more places to see tonight. (Kaitsu has been working like crazy this week, I think he came home around 2am yesterday night and there's some complicated job in the evening shift coming today too...) ..."they never promised us a rose garden..."


Otherwise there's interesting discussions going on in the local media. Just now Leijonakaupunki got a new prime minister who gave his 3.15h long (!!!) speech last Sunday. We came across it on TV and were horrified to see that there was the same guy maybe on 15 channels (for 3.15h !), for me it felt just like in the "good old" soviet times.. Later during the week there wes extensive analysis in the papers of things told by him. Some points show that he's a really clever guy, a lot of attention was given for education and aparently he said: "we should teach our children less so that they could learn more". Great statement, in case of Leijonakaupunki it means that they will cut sylabus by 30% and focus on interdisciplinary projects. I think they are still very much into rote learning here. They will also hire 3000 new teachers by the year 2100 and practice more teaching in pairs. Nice changes! Oh yeah, there's also some kind of division between "normal" and "express" study streams here in school. "Normal" suposedly are underachievers... And they still practice caning (spanking)...

The prime minister also promised to improve some freedom of speech matters here. I'm not quite sure about current regulations, but I think for speaking publicly people need to get a licence or some kind of permission.. So there will be one arena where people can speak without licence, I guess that mostly concerns activists, worker unions and all kinds of leftist organizations. Interesting.

Otherwise it seems (reading/watching media) that Leijonakaupunki is in very similar situation as Finland - small nation desperately seeking new ways to be competitive, they're smart, they plan to invest into education and creativeness...

Posted by gkligyte at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2004

Hungry Ghost month


It is Hungry Ghost month here, when spirits and the dead are walking among us. To please the spirits you need to pray, burn money and incense, this is what the guys in the picture above are doing. Burning that much of money? No, you can buy fake money to burn. If you ask me, these ghosts are pretty easy to trick...

Interesting, because first I heard about that from my brother when he was planning his wedding in China around this time. They could't make it right now, because all the dead people would attend to the wedding and I guess that is a bit too much... Kaitsu also said that people are not willing to do much of business around this time, maybe thats why it was a bit quiet at work for him last week?

Otherwise - a huge disappointment, we didn't get the apartment that we both really liked. By now I have seen maybe 20 different places (that includes at least 1/2hour to get to the place, some 1000 nods and smiles, some 50 "looks very nice, but a bit small and noisy...", a business card from the agent, "we have to talk about it with my husband", desperately trying to think what nice I could say about the place that looks completely horrible, shaking hands, some 50 more nods...), the agents keep calling me every 5 minutes (mind me, I'm paying for receiving calls!!!), they take me here and there, but nothing... nothing that would feel right, like the place that we missed... The stupid thing was that we saw the nice place #4 or so, so it felt that we don't know what could be available. The agent pushed us to decide about it immediately, so we thought that she was playing a trick on us. After we made up our minds that we want it, it was GONE!

I have met one German graphic designer today, she arrived last Friday and today already rushed to a job interview. And I'm wasting my time strugling with the agents. After this disappointment I'm a bit low on my spirits today, so I just called few places, didn't go to see anything...

Posted by gkligyte at 01:58 PM | Comments (1)

August 23, 2004

Apartment hunt


Its been 3 days now since we started seriously looking for a place to stay. Currently in Leijonakaupunki it is "renters market", meaning that the prices have gone down significantly and there's hundreds and thousands of places available. The agents are furiously trying to hook you and you can be really picky, because of that.

However it doesn't make our life easier. We've seen maybe about 12 places by now, but finding idylic green, peaceful place may turn out to be impossible, since most of the places available (and that we saw) looked smth like that one on the left (this one looked very good, by the way).

Also the interior is almost always very strange (there's business potential in interior design, I guess), according to Kaitsu, some "sofas look like vomit". And I agree about that.

our current place

The place where we stay now is difficult to beat - it is in the very center in an old conservation shophouse, we have high ceiling, enough of space and air. Whenever we inquired about possibilities to rent an apartment in an old house, the agents started giggling. The "culture shock in Leijonakaupunki" book says that it probably means that there's something wrong with the request and that they disaprove your idea. They are too polite to say "but you're plain stupid!" They tell us how the roof could leak if there's heavy rainfall, they may be dark, there's no swimming pool (how many of you have one?) and elevator (who needs it if the apartment is in the 2nd floor?) I think we'll still try to look into some of those old houses anyway.

There's not much land in this country and aparently highrise buildings are considered to be "breezy" (which actually is true). So it may as well be that we just have to live in one of the square boxes on 25th floor. It better have a good view then!

Posted by gkligyte at 10:40 AM | Comments (2)

August 19, 2004

I like being here


Here they are shooting some film or tv series in our street (picture taken through our window. The whole street where we live is old colonial style houses and the first floor is restaurants and cafes only. It is really really nice, always full of people, smells and laughter. Food seems to be major attraction here, it is really difficult to think about something else when you walk down the street. As soon as you finish one meal, you start planning the other.


Westerners are so fat... And look very strange - red and sweaty, then they have these strange fashions - almost always too revealing, as if there's something to show off...

Local people are very courteous and friendly here. Yesterday asked for directions on the street, the girl told me to go wrong way first, then she ran after me maybe 500m and said: "sorry, it is the oposite way..." Also the cleaning lady was ready to share her bowl of soup with me when I said that it looked good and asked what it was. So very soon I'll have 'laksa' in the corner restaurant.

I got all the software for my Mac for free. Probably shouldn't be advertised here, Kaj thinks it is illegal and I am afraid that it could be true. I don't really understand why this guy gave it all to me, he wasn't even too interested in chatting with me... he neither persisted on any future "meetings" or "coffees", nor seemingly wanted any financial reward... "it makes me happy if you're happy" thats what he said.. well, I'm extremely happy and it saved me about 5000$. Thanks!!!

And yes, if anyone is interested, soon I should have Internet at home. Will make my life much more colorful and easy here. We also go to see the first apartment tonight. I took the MRT train around the island yesterday, there's everything - Pasila, Pakila, Hertoniemi, Kaunianen here... If now we live in Punavuori, we should find our Kallio and Torkelinmaki here too...

Posted by gkligyte at 11:21 AM | Comments (4)

August 18, 2004

will I be "one of them" some day?


Trying to get rid of "visitor" "tourist" feeling, not easy. Everything that I do is a bit out of place. Sitting on the stairs - "why you not sitting in a cafe?", "Shopping shopping?" Trying to pass people from the right. Taking pictures! This chinese guy who serves tea, said "its hot, good for the body, hot and hot, hot weather, hot tea, good for the body". It was good!

I should really find a way to get engaged with the environment here, first I need Internet. Seems to be difficult to arrange - Starhub, the main (?) provider charges for "installation" and "activation", then every time you move they charge for "closing the account" then new "installation" and "re-activation". And we'll be moving at least twice during the comming month. They also don't approve cable modems brought or bought elsewhere, it needs to be bought from them. 150S$!!! Each modem gets and ID number. I wonder... Why?

Another shock - mobile operators charge for incoming calls!!! they show the incoming call number for free first 3 months.. ha? give the phone for free if you make a 2 year deal, 500$ fine if you quit earlier... It will take time to find out about these things...

Otherwise, if you have a question or a problem, it is extremely easy to figure out the solution. The guy in Apple centre will install me all software for free today (ha?) so he says. "lets make your life easier" he said. Sure, lets make it easier for me, what is the deal for him?

Amazing how little you can do in one day. Buy a stach of CDs, have breakfast and lunch, hopefully get the software for my brand new iBook. walk a few blocks. have dinner, sleep? Should be more than that...

Posted by gkligyte at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2004

why sick again?


Eating seems to be not a good idea. At least in Little India. Today the main ingredient of my lunch was "love", so they claimed. Made me sick though..

Got my 14'' iBook! Proud owner, still no Internet... at home...

Posted by gkligyte at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2004

A woman needs a computer, Internet connection, her own money...


This is the first post from Leijonakaupunki. I really didn't have time to make modifications to this blog software, so it is a bit "faceless"still. Soon (I hope) it will be different. Yeah, I feel uplifted and uprooted.. not because of change of hemisphere, no.. I don't have Internet access!!! A woman should have her own room, computer and Internet connection... It is so true!

So far still quite "turisti meininki", Kaitsu went to work today, me just messing around, looking for Internet basically, the National library has been closed for construction, people don't know if it will open and when or has it been moved to somewhere. I need my own computer!!!

Yesterday had amazing Indian food on banana leaf, felt sick already in the restaurant. Luckily I didn't phuke straight back on to the plate, however while walking home had half an hour of contemplation about the fines for throwing up publicly. If spitting is 500$, how much is for throwing up? What is a good place to throw up in Leijonakaupunki? Oh, I missed Finland then..

The weather is almost chilly sometimes. Most often cloudy and less than +30C. Had a walk in Sentosa island yesterday. Hard to say if it is fully artificial or just partially. The sand apparently is imported from Indonesia. The views to the ocean with tankers and oil refinery platforms in the horizon are not very different from factory pipes in Hietsu.. Just not possible to swim here.. They say..

Wish I would get over jet lag soon and get in touch with the reality. The "turisti meininki" should go.

Posted by gkligyte at 10:45 AM | Comments (2)