Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The vacation playground for all ages: Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort Pattaya

Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort Pattaya (I’m just sweating from all that) or in short Centara is located in the south end of Pattaya in the Naklua area. Centara is very much a five star hotel as it is rated. The whole hotel has a unique marine theme; all 165 rooms are furnished in Italian styled furniture. The hotel itself features pools, beach, Jacuzzis, and waterpark for the kids, conference rooms, tennis courts, multiple restaurants and award winning spa and so much more. The real hotspot for the hotel itself is the pool area, which resembles a jungle with a river and waterfalls, pathways that lead you to the Wong Amat beach in Naklua.  Room prices start off from about 2,500 Thai baht in the low season; prices of course vary depending on the season. I recommend anyone with extra cash traveling to Pattaya to book a room here as it is alone stands out from the skyscraper skyline that is Pattaya now a days. The superb facilities and services offer everything to all ages!

Monday, September 21, 2015


 It’s hard to imagine such a peaceful and ever so green place located in the middle of one of Asia’s largest and most busy cities, Bangkok. Right in the heart of the city in a sense brings to mind to that what Central Park in Manhattan is to the city of New York City. Tranquility and calmness is what you get when you are there, unless you happened to go there during sundown when it turns in the activity place for what seems like the whole of Bangkok’s population. Lumpihini Park is located in the center of Bangkok city on the North side Rama 4 road.

Describing Lumpihin has to be done in two parts, because it is literally like day and night. During the day it’s a peaceful park and on a sunny day you can do a plethora of activities ranging from biking, paddle boating in the swan shaped paddleboats on the large lake, have picnics on the never ending grass areas of just enjoy the view of the surrounding skyscrapers that almost seem to bend over the park. During the day time if you dare in the Bangkok’s scorthing hot sunny weather it’s the perfect get away from the noisy city even though you are still in the middle of the city. The greenery and surrounding vegetation makes you forget that, take a beloved one or a group of friends and enjoy the day out doing activities or just enjoying the warm weather over some cooled drinks and a picnic basket. However during sundown Lumpihin becomes a spectacle as people of all corners flock in to complete their daily or weekly exercise and hobbies. From the hundreds of runners running around the 2.5km run track around the park, to aerobics enthusiast you can see an assortment of what seems like hundreds of different sports and activities practiced here. What’s more impressive to me personally is that these same people who flock in around sundown (5pm-6pm)  manage to evacuate by nine o’clock as the park shuts its doors for the night all so it can re-open them again 4.30am for the early rising runners and walkers. 

The park was built back in the 1920’s by King Rama VI on what was then royal property. Originally it was a museum where many of the products and natural resources were shown however after World War 1 it was re-built as the first park in Bangkok. A statue of the king sits at the southwestern entrance. Lumbini is the birthplace of Buddha in Nepal which it was named after and now days there are numerous things in Thailand named after it such as a series of condo buildings. The park doesn’t allow smoking or dogs in to the park in hopes to keep it clean, between 10am and 3pm the 2.5km jogging track is mainly reserved for bikers and after three until closing it is reserved for joggers. Besides the daily activities for the everyday person Lumphini has numerous other attractions such as bird watching. There is more than 30 species of birds and there are courses offered on birdwatching for the interested parties. Also numerous clubs come to the park to enjoy weekly activities, such as the disabled, Bangkok Elder Citizens club, Home of hope (homeless children), BMA apprentice school, and the Buddhist Dharma activities. The park also has a library, indoor & outdoor gym, food center, basketball court and a swimming pool.

If you feel the need to exercise come and join the crowd, I personally love the sight of seeing others run around me; it gets my competitive juices flowing every time. Or if you just simply want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Bangkok life go for a day time stroll in the park. Lumphini is also a great way to help out and take part in charity as I mentioned numerous organizations and clubs come together there weekly to part take in activities. Located closest to the MRT Lumphini station and BTS Sala Daeng Lumphini Park offers something every big city should have, enclosed greenery and an easy get away for a few hours from the cities traffics, crowds and noise. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015


In the spring semester of 2015 I completed my mandatory exchange studies in Bangkok, Thailand at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University. The oldest and arguably the most known university in Thailand is located in the heart of Bangkok city, and when I mean heart I really mean the center of the city. Located within an arm’s reach of MBK, and Siam Paragon shopping malls, the campus is massive and beautiful at the same time. In a way it blends in to the city because even long time Bangkok residents are not always familiar where exactly the campus is even though they have surely passed it on numerous occasions. The school was founded back in 1917 (ironically same year as my home country Finland gained independence), by King Vajiravudh (Rama VI) who named it after his father King Chulalongkorn,  and features nineteen faculties and institutes. In the past the tradition was that the King would hand diplomas to the graduates however currently it is so that the current king’s daughter Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn handles that role. Thailand is a country that values traditions and this is no exception when it comes to its most prestigious University.

I spent one semester at the University yet never really explored the campus, I had no idea it was so vast and full of life until one day when I drove around exploring all the different features it boasts. The campus life is booming, Thai students love spending time on their beloved campus and it shows. You can spot students easily as they wear the traditional white button up shirt with men wearing black straight pants and girls either wearing a long or short skirt. On any given day you can see traditional Thai cheerleaders practicing choreograph in the outdoor weather, or when you near the sports facilities there is non-stop commotion. It’s just like any other modern university campus with an Asian twist of traditions that shows. The campus buildings are built in the traditional Thai styling featuring pointy roofs with vibrant colors; however once inside the building they are indeed state of the art classrooms made to accommodate and assist students with their studies. The school’s alumnus features a long list of well-known figures ranging from royalty, politicians to actors.

I really want to show everyone the campus itself not necessarily talk about the school and its studies, however I can in brief tell you that the school follows the American curriculum system and grading. All the professors are highly educated and accredited graduates of such universities as Yale, Oxford, Columbia, Harvard, Cambridge, and so many more. Also majority of the teachers have side businesses that they had already established before becoming full-time teachers meaning that they have real experience in the field that they teach and best of all contacts that students can surely utilize. Chula is known to have some of the more famous and rich students within Thailand and while this may be true there is plenty of others as well. Around 38,000 students currently are enrolled at Chula so it is not only a university for rich and the privileged as many see in fact it is the mixture of students that makes it so terrific, everyone can blend in and find their spot no matter what their supposed social status is.  This is also with the help of the numerous clubs arranged by either the school or students themselves, currently there is around fourty clubs that students can pick and choose from ranging from Buddhism and tradition clubs to the cheer club that has been arranging the traditional Chulalongkorn-Thammasat football match since 1934!

As an exchange student in the sea of Thai students it is quite easy to be overwhelmed by everything that’s going on or lack of knowing, however I can through first-hand experience tell you that whatever your hobby is or that you are interested in go and find out if they offer or practice it. I myself wanted to pick up basketball again and all I did was ask around and next thing I know was that I was slated to play in the BBA faculties’ annual basketball game versus Thammasat and found myself couple times a week in the extremely hot indoor gym playing pickup ball with local students. This is my message to anyone and especially exchange students, GO OUT AND TALK TO THE THAI STUDENTS, DON’T WAIT FOR THEM TO APPROACH YOU! Thai students and people in general are very inviting and generous, get out your comfort zone and see what they like to do or if you have anything in common with them. I guarantee the experience will be better than you could have expected. Now that saying, Thai students are very shy and group-minded, it is hard to approach girls and boys outside of class as they like to stick to groups but once you do approach them they will surely be just as interested in you as you are in them.  Thailand is after all the land of smiles.

The campus itself is endowed in a leafy park like closure; the buildings are not only Thai traditional but a mixture of Italian revival. For the plant nerds the campus has tons of different plants and trees planted within the campus from tropical to less tropical ones. The centerpiece of the whole campus is the sitting statue of King Chulalongkorn which is surrounded by pink flowers that represent the color of the school. Of all the trees surrounding the campus the most noticeable is the rain tree which happens to be the mascot of Chulalongkorn University which is very traditional in Thailand. Daily you can spot tourists and others wandering the campus greens snapping photos and marveling at the site of it, as I mentioned the campus is located in the center of Bangkok city and I recommend anyone who walks by to take a visit as it is a nice change from the bustling and sometimes hectic city life. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015



As part of my journey to show my good friend South East Asia and Thailand we headed towards the island of Koh Tao right after our Singapore trip. Koh Tao is a small island about 25km long in the southern east part of Thailand right next to the more famous Koh Samui island and full moon party island Koh Phagnan.  This was actually my first time visiting the island as well and I had one main agenda on my list what I wanted to do and that was snorkeling. Koh Tao is best known for having great snorkeling and scuba diving waters with vast corals and marine life.

To travel to Koh Tao the most convenient way I have found to be taking the bus first to Chumporn and then the high speed ferry to Koh Tao as it is the most northern of the three islands and therefore closest to Chumporn. The company I recommend is Lomprayah, they have high quality buses and ferries and the service works unlike many other services in Thailand, rarely is there any delays in departures.   The ferry ride will last around an hour and half to two hours depending on the conditions usually. The buses leave next to Khoa San road twice a day, one bus leaving at 8.45am and another one 14.45. The total travel time to the port is about six hours with one pit stop at a facility where you can get food and buy snacks, granted they do raise the prices there a tad but it’s nothing unreasonable. The total cost of traveling one way is 1,100b which is more than reasonable considering the bus ride is in a good air-con bus and they even give you blankets for comfort. The other choice would be take the train which is a 11 hour ride and you can always buy a sleeper cart spot however it is just not worth it going all the way to Surat Thani (which is way more south) and then taking the ferry through Samui, Phagnan islands and finally arriving at Koh Tao, I believe the price of that is around 1,600b.

Once we arrived on Koh Tao we made our way straight to a motorbike rental shop, all the rental shops are next to the main pier so it is very convenient. As a caution you might want to check beforehand for example from the scuba diving companies or hotels what motorbike rental shops are reliable as I know many places the visitors get ripped off for having scratches or dings on the bike that were already there.  Our hotel the Montalay beach resort was on the other side of the island, Tanote bay which is a quiet place which we looked for on purpose. The standard daily rate for renting motorbike is 150-250thb in the low season, in the high season it can be couple hundred baht more per day. As we got on to our motorbikes we headed for the other side of the island, funny enough it took us a long time to find the our hotel, this is because my 3g wasn’t working as it was so remote and there isn’t any road signs where we headed. On top of this roads leading up to the resort was half paved and the other half dirt bumpy roads that a normal car could not drive over. After a good hour or so struggle we did finally find it, unloaded some of our stuff and took a long nap.

As the second day rolled around we headed towards the Sairee beach section for some lunch. We also stopped by the Koh Tao diver’s headquarters on the Sairee beach. They are a Finnish diving company that has been there since 1987, which takes people who want to try their hand at diving. They also provide snorkeling, and diving courses so you can actually complete your diver’s lessons there and become a certified firs level diver. After confirming that the following day we would try our hand at diving we headed on with our motorbikes to explore Koh Tao and its numerous vie points. Koht Tao is a very mountainous island or maybe I’d prefer to say hills. Anyhow we didn’t want to visit the touristiest spot which is the world famous Koh Nangyuan View Point; instead we opted for maybe the second or third most known viewpoint on the island the Sairee view point. This is totally accessible by motorbike (granted you aren’t very heavy and the motorbike you have doesn’t have enough power for the massive hills you have to drive up). Needless to say the view was breathtaking and more than worth it, also you have to pay a 50thb charge to enter the view point, this is to be paid for some local man who sits under a hut next to the dirt road leading up to the view point.

For the rest of the day we headed back to our hotel to do some pooling and enjoying the sun, however on my part I was way too excited about getting a change to go scuba diving for the first time ever, so naturally I had to go and rent some fins and a snorkel from our resort for a very modest 100thb for the whole day and head on into the ocean. Our hotel was located directly on the beach so all I had to do was put on the snorkel and fins and go out and swim, the Tanote bay is known to have some of the better diving spots and you could even witness some sharks there if you were lucky. So, naturally me with my GoPro camera in hand I headed off in to the depths. Ironically I hadn’t done any snorkeling for almost ten years prior to that which is in a way very sad as I have lived so many years in South East Asia and been on numerous beach holidays. The great thing about was that all I could think to myself was that ‘’why haven’t I done this more and often?!’’. Unfortunately I didn’t see sharks, or anything remotely that big either, but the sea life was still vast and lively with small bright colored fish all around and the coral as well. Later on in the evening we headed off into town for dinner near the Sairee beach and we didn’t want to stay too long out as we had an early wake up to go try our hand at scuba diving.

During the day my friend Juho apparently was too exposed to the sun and didn’t feel too good the next morning, he decided to skip out on the scuba diving and stay in bed for the day. This is a good reminder for anyone (especially if you aren’t used to these temperatures or are visiting for the first time) to use sunscreen all day even if you feel like you don’t need it. Anyhow, I made my way on my own to the Koh Tao diver’s headquarters, where I was met by Antti Karinen one of the diving insturctors. He showed me a short introduction video to scuba diving and what is good to know, avoid and so on. We also just talked in general about the different things you have to know when it comes to diving and what we will be doing when we go out into the ocean, then we proceeded to find me some fins, mask, and the vest that holds all the equipment. On our dive I had some other people join as well who were completing their diver’s courses, two girls from California, a Finnish girl from Lapland and a Japanese man who seemed very experienced. All of these people were accompanied by other diving instructors, so it’s safe to say that anyone can join in on the fun and it doesn’t matter where you come from the professionals clearly knew what they were doing and spoke excellent English. As well the Koh Tao divers had invited along Charlie an underwater camera expert who works for Fatfish movies if you are interested in checking it out, naturally he brought his camera with him and all the photos from the dive trip I have are courtesy of him As we arrived on our dive point, Antti made sure that he was continuously giving me instructions what to remember and what we would be doing and even possibly seeing under the surface. I was allowed to ask questions and he gave answers to everything to his best ability.

Once we arrived at our first destination I put on my vest, weight belt, fins and mask according to Antti’s instructions and literally jumped in to the deep end (the vest contains a floating vest that you control, I wasn’t going to sink so no worries), from there we swam towards the shore into about meter deep water where we went through different phases that needed to be learned. Things such as learning to clear your clear your regulator of water, for example I had no idea you could blow water through it even when it was in your mouth, funny enough Antti told me a story about how he had food poisoning while going on a dive and, well you can maybe imagine the rest. Also I learned how to clear my mask of water under water, and how to switch or find your regulator under water while holding your breath, again funny enough you don’t actually hold your breath instead you blow out slowly because it is easier. I also learned some basic hand signs such as everything is ok and how to get the other divers attention when you something is wrong.  While we did this Antti always told me first what we do , then we went under water he did it first and then I did it after him, every time being very encouraging even I failed (for example clearing the mask), I tend to be very competitive and hard on myself. I treat it like a sport and I want to be the best straight away.  

After learning the basics of all the essentials that you would need to know when under water we headed in to deeper waters, about 3-4meteres where learned to float buy adjusting the air in your vest so you could basically float in mid water and swim without having to worry if you will either come up on your own or slowly sink to the bottom. From then on we just headed in to the depths, Antti pointed the way and we swam off, he did hold me the whole time though just as safety precaution as it was my first dive and had to be done. The feeling when we went in to the depths of suddenly 6-8meteres was surreal, I can’t really explain it better than what Antti told me, he said for example business men and people who work under lots of pressure end up taking scuba diving as a hobby for the reason that once you are under you forget everything on top as to say. You are just in the water calmly swimming and looking around at all the different life and colors around you. I actually caught myself experiencing this, for some reason I would start thinking about what if water gets into my mouth and I swallow it and how I would maybe choke on it and so on, but immediately these ideas would go away as if I was in mid thought saying to myself in my head ‘’so now if I swallow water and ch..uuu look at that big colorful fish!’’ . It was fantastic, I literally haven’t experienced anything like it and I was loving it. Also the comradery that you have with your fellow dive partner is great, you aren’t talking but you continuously find yourself interacting or pointing at something and just laughing in your head how great it was.

As I came up from my first dive we were swimming to the dive boat, Antti told me how it went very well except for the fact that I was swimming very quick (maybe it’s my competitive spirit doing its old tricks again) and that my usage of air was very rapid.  On the boat finally heading for the second spot all of us who were on the boat sat together eating fruits, talking about diving and life in itself was great, I mean how it cannot be? You live and work on an island only majority people see on movies and the diving and the feeling you get from it is just amazing. As we arrived at our second spot, it was almost business as usual already for me, just strapped on the gear and jumped in. We went straight under in the deep, no more lessons. Also I noticed Antti didn’t hold me the whole time anymore (although staying within touching contact always); I could see he enjoyed it much more as well. This time around also we stopped around to float and stare at different fish and coral, we even posed for some pictures underwater, it was all so surreal. As we again came up and swam toward the dive boat Antti told me that we basically completed the maximum dive depth you can on a trial dive, which was 12meters! When I heard this I couldn’t believe it, it really doesn’t feel like it, I don’t know if the water is so clear or what, I do remember looking up at one point during my dive and thinking ‘’now I’m deep’’ He also said we were under for a good solid 50minutes, which again doesn’t sound believable, the time just goes so fast when you are under.  As we boarded back on the boat and headed back to camp on the shore we again had some good talks and laughs with these new found friends. Antti made it very clear he would be more than happy to take me out if I ever decide to come complete my diving courses, and to be honest I am strongly considering it.  

The day had come to an end the sun was going down, I had great memories, you can only go once in a lifetime scuba diving for the first time and have it be that amazing. I just want to thank all the staff at Koh Tao divers for making it so memorable, and Antti, Kim, Tom and our cameraman Charlie especially. I couldn’t think of a better ending for my trip. Lastly I went to see if my friend Juho was alive and well (which he was for the most part), had some dinner and sleep. The next day we packed up, hopped on our motorbikes for the last time to return them and got on the ferry back to shore and on to the long bus ride back home.  All in all I have to say this, I was waiting to come to Koh Tao for several months now, and it has been more than what I could have expected.  In comparison Koh Phagnan is a large island and has its own appeals but Koh Tao was simply brilliant and beautiful. 

Monday, August 3, 2015


Summing up Singapore in one word can’t be done, there so much going on at the same time it’s just impossible. I mean look at the place, it doesn’t have one center, it doesn’t have one main street, it doesn’t have one main language, it doesn’t have one main culture and I can keep going on with this and that’s what makes it very special.

Singapore is a fusion of cultures, languages and everything else. If I had to describe it to someone I would say Singapore is the West of the East. By this I mean it is the one plot of land here in South East Asia that just does not fit in and is more reminiscent of a Western country. Once you step in to the country first thing you realize is that everyone speaks English and this is really bizarre as it is, the English is not your typical perfect English but rather the perfect English if an Asian person spoke it and that’s exactly what it is. They don’t make mistakes but you also don’t get the sense that it would be their first language but it is!  Second thing you notice is there is the diversity of the population it’s fantastic, you don’t get the feeling that ‘’yep, I’m the tourist and I stick out like a sore thumb’’ well besides my huge travel backpack of course and last if not actually first the overall cleanness of the whole place. It’s outstanding, being used to the streets of Bangkok (which by the way has been cleaned up in the recent years) I was so surprised how it has stayed so clean. But there’s a logical explanation for it all and that is the people actually care to obey rules and laws, again this is something different from all the neighboring countries, I mean live ten years in South East Asia and then go to a place and you see its clean and people actually care about rules, it really is something different.

Once we had arrived and made our way through the extensive and impressive metro system to our hotel we immediately left for town and of course the Marina Bay. Funny story time; so once we get to the Marina Bay we started to ponder where the infamous Marina Bay Sands Hotel building was, there was plenty of signs inside the metro tunnels pointing different directions where it would be, and once on the escalator out of the tunnels I look straight up and was awe struck, I told my friend Juho ‘’Look up!’’, we were literally inside one of the columns of it heading out of, it was amazing! I couldn’t get my eyes of the building itself, it really is captivating and stunning. My whole entire time there in I just couldn’t stop staring at the intricacies of the architectural marvel of it all. The Marina Bay itself is full of life all around it, there’s restaurants, bars, people and music. I can understand that locals would want to come there every day and spend quality time with friends. It has such a hip and swanky feel to it as well, plus you don’t even notice tourists because you can’t separate them from the locals. The fusion of culture once again proves its worth.

We stopped off at the foot of the Marina Bay Sands to eat some pizza and drink quality beer in an Australian street bar. All the people seemed to be enjoying their after work beverages with light snacks inside the bar and outside of it you had the stunning view of the bay and watching all the people go by you really don’t get the feeling that you are in Asia besides the tropical hot weather. The Marina Bay itself has a lights and water show every day at 8pm and 9.30pm, this show has lots of smoke, lights and music but honestly not too much action, it worth seeing once and then you kind of realize it’s something perhaps to captivate the tourists who walk by. After the dinner we made our way around the marina just taking in the massive buildings opposite of the Marina Bay Sands, this is where you realize Singapore is truly an architect’s dream place, I personally don’t know anything about architecture because I can’t even draw a square or circle. All the massive buildings hold some of the world’s largest company’s logos, Bank of America, HSBC, UBS and so many more. As our tour of the bay was coming to an end and the day itself huge fireworks went off opposite of us at the very opposite side of the bay, this is when we came to realize that it was the official opening of the 28th South East Asia games, these are essentially the Olympics for the countries in the region.

So day two and we had the whole day ahead of us, we went in for some brunch at a quality little house just couple blocks from our hotel next to the little India district. Ironically this turned out to be one of the more popular brunch spots after asking around and it definitely was just that, people queued in large number and the food itself was amazing for the life of me I can’t remember the name of the place (bad blogger Aleksi!). Once again I found myself pondering and watching as there was an even mix different ethnicities of people, I just couldn’t help being stunned by this my whole time in Singapore. All I could think was ‘’who are the people of Singapore!’’. To open up a bit about this you have to realize Singapore is tiny and small however it has little India district and China town and then a large expat community all intertwined into one population. We didn’t have a clue where to go besides looking at the map, like in typical me fashion I didn’t do any research where to go and what to see. I just pointed to a map and thought that place seems like there’s going to be something there, this place was called Orchard road, full of shopping malls and people, so naturally we did some shopping. The one main thing I notice about the shopping malls and building of Singapore is that they blend in perfectly with the city outlook. Majority of the time you wouldn’t even know there a mall inside some of the buildings wall, and honestly I had mixed feelings about it. I just didn’t like the idea of not knowing where I can go and shop and eat; a mall should look like a mall!

As shopping was done we once again had the task of finding a place to go eat dinner, we could have gone to China town or any other district but we just came to the easy conclusion again that Marina bay it is, it’s just too good of a place not to go twice in one weekend. As I said before the building and its surroundings is just too captivating, I personally didn’t even feel the need to go up on top of it to get the view in (or pay the 25$ cover charge), the Marina itself holds tons of rooftop bars to get in views and you could go to anyone of them as I asked around and they would all be worth it. Singapore was a delight and the perfect get away, if you happened to have some extra cash lying around I’m all for it and I urge anyone who has not been to at least visit.

There’s also one other thing I always think to myself being a traveling former expat child, would I live here? The answer in Singapore’s case is a,no. It’s just too safe, too clean, just too much somehow. I don’t like rules or at least following them always, no one j-walk’s (hell we even do that in Finland!), and no one litter’s, yes littering is bad but I’m making a point here. I felt that if there was an empty street and I crossed in the middle of it someone would yell from their window ‘’hey! you can’t do that go back!’’, this is just the feeling I get. I guess I’m used to Bangkok, Jakarta and all the other less developed areas, they have raised me in a different way from Singapore. Singapore is my mind from what I saw meant for the business savvy people, working there in the business world seems like the optimal thing to do, the business district is so diverse and developed. Living there as something else I just don’t see it myself, I couldn’t. Not because I don’t want to but because I wouldn’t know how to, now you can say I’m biased which is most likely true and I don’t know until first hand experiencing it but this is my opinion and how I see it, hopefully someday I can be proven wrong or otherwise. But in my book Singapore gets a huge gold star, and I will definitely be back! 

Saturday, August 1, 2015


I made this text as an explanation of my background and why Southest Asia is so close to my heart. Having grown up as an expat child our world views are molded into something very different that we carry with us for the rest of our lives and I have finally began to realize that. I have learned to embrace and cherish it and this is why I wish to share it.

Growing up being an expat child I have developed an unquenchable thirst for travel and meeting new people while seeking out locations that make you never want to leave. Now 25 years old and being back in the land where this thirst began, Southeast Asia is again at the palm of my hand and I wish to discover every corner of it and what it has to offer. Currently I have made my way back to Bangkok, Thailand where my fondest memories are to be found due to the fact that I have lived here on two different occasions, however now it is all different, no parents of course; no family and I have finished my mandatory exchange semester at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University. Now I’m looking to tap into passion of traveling and being the ultimate travelling tourist.

What you have to understand that this is my journey, this is my background in a nutshell. I am not special in any way and don’t see myself as that. Being an expat child or person if you will you have the privilege of living a unique life, but we have our problems and issues as well. We are normal people but our problems might not be the same as others, and you can talk with anyone who has lived their life abroad they will tell you some of their stories and it will be different from mine. But what is great about our problems is that we can relate to each other in a way that others can’t, our problems are literally OUR problems and that’s what makes them so unique. Having the school bus break-down on the highway on your way back home, missing your weekend after school activity game because your dad over slept or not finding your favourite shirt because your maid cleaned your room and re-placed everything that was in a organized mess. They sound bizarre to you but so does not having enough money to get home on a bus from school to me or mom forgetting to buy you food that you can make once you get home from school, they sounded just as odd to me because we take things for granted that others don’t and vice versa, It’s just how it goes.

Where has it all begun then you might ask, the story goes something like this; back in 1995 I moved to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia as a little kid out of Eastern Finland, without any experience of travel or the world outside. I was put into an English speaking kindergarten where I was for a year before starting first grade of school at the age of six in an American private school called International School of Kuala Lumpur (known as ISKL), from then on the rollercoaster ride just took off on its own, after two years in Kuala Lumpur we were off to Jakarta Indonesia where I managed within a year attend two different private schools and flee the country itself all together in under a day, this means we were yanked out of school mid-lesson, told to pack our bags with only essential things and head to the embassy from where we were taken straight to the airport. Jakarta had become a war zone of sorts due to the brewing civil war.

After Jakarta we all thought Finland was our next destination for the foreseeable future but it turned out to be Bangkok, Thailand. Again I was put into an American private school (ISB), and this is where I finally started feeling the sense of belonging. I had also started understanding that this is the normal life for me now; changing locations would always be a part of my life. Bangkok gave me great memories and friends but it was finally time to head home to Finland after three years. By far my biggest struggle was adapting to Finland as a sort of foreign kid with very little Finnish language and culture knowledge (even though I would spend all my summers in Finland), I didn’t have the privilege of having friends there and I couldn’t talk about school or anything that had to do with daily normal life because no one understood what I was doing and I didn’t understand what they were. It was all a big blur, and suddenly Thailand had become an option again. I didn’t want to leave, to be fair I never wanted to leave any location I was at, that was just me. I had learned to adapt quickly, I had to, and there was no other choice so naturally I didn’t want to leave.

This time it wasn’t Bangkok Thailand we were moving to, it was Chon Buri, a half hour drive from Thailand’s notorious sex capital Pattaya. This location seemed odd and I knew it would take time to understand it, we lived in the middle of nowhere in a country club where people came only to golf. Our backyard was the fifth hole fairway of one of the two courses and our school was located about 200meters from our driveway. Coming in from Finland I was just so different as a person again, I wasn’t this young na├»ve kid anymore, I had grown up (mind you I was only fourteen going on fifteen). But the culture was so different this time again, yes I knew the Thai culture but I was different so everything else seemed different.  Compared to majority of the other kids I was just, older. In Finland you have to learn to be independent from a very young age onwards. You don’t have the school bus or drivers taking you to school and back, you don’t have the food ready on the plate as soon as you get home, and you don’t have the room ready and cleaned for you every day (not that I really cleaned my room anyways) and I was used to this all. To me it was normal, so for a good year almost I stuck it out just focusing on my then budding football career (I was playing with some of the very best expats in Thailand against others in South East Asia and prior to that in Finland I had intentions of moving to a very highly regarded clubs youth system before departure came to intervene) as I didn’t know what else to do. When I finally hit high school it all changed, my older sister was a grade above me and we were very close, so naturally her friends became my friends. I stuck it out with older kids from then on; I had finally found my place.

For the next three years my life took a very unexpected but fortunate change, I had found loyal friends who I can depend on still till this day. I was moving away from that stereotypical Western mentality and had become just a diverse individual and this I can only thank my friends for and the environment they put me in. Now mind you some things were hard to change, for example I never learned to eat with chopsticks (what can I say, I’m stubborn), I didn’t touch sushi or any remotely odd looking Asian or foreign dishes however instead I can proudly say just like almost any expat child that I can swear in about ten different languages which is an achievement in itself, trust me it is.

As the years rolled by and high school was nearing its end I was given the information from my parents that it was time to pack up and leave back to Finland at the end of the year, I was just starting my 11th year of school meaning I was a Junior and had one year after that and I would graduate high school.  As the year started to wind down we had agreed with my parents that I would stay in Thailand for a year with a host family and graduate, however a host family was not to be found and I was forced to return to Finland a year from graduation.  ‘’All this again, oh man!’’, that was my thought once again returning to Finland, but this time it was easier. I had grown from the past experience and the transition was easy, I had pretty much come into the same situation as prior however I was older and so were my classmates and friends. Majority of my friends from round 1 in Finland ended up in the same high school as me, the expat community lives on even after you leave the country just so if you ever were wondering.

Anyways, high school, family moved abroad, living alone for the first time, getting a job, military service, new job, and applying to school was all next on my plate in somewhat that order. I don’t want to bore you with any more details but yes I am currently a student at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences and on the verge of graduating (hopefully), and I finally learned to eat with chopsticks and sushi is one of my favorite dishes. So there you have it, that was a so-so accurate description of my life abroad thus far and my beginnings.

Through travel I wish to experience the obvious things, see new places, meet new faces and simply just see what wealth this part of the world has and share it with others through blogging. Why do I choose blogging to share this? I believe to have an upper-hand in blogging due to the fact that my family already boasts two full-time bloggers; I have myself kept a blog, and I can be insightful and portray what I see into diligent words while providing spectacular pictures of everything I witness. Blogging can also hold endless sources of information in the modern age and that is something I will utilize such as social media which can provide information in a heartbeat for interested parties, through Instagram, snapchat you can get the first sightings of my voyage as I keep it all updated. I’m on my way, join me!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


All the pictures are from Pattaya, it was way too hectic in the locations that I went to to carry a camera around. Also i'm kicking myself for realizing that I don't have any quality video of this great week, oh well, maybe I just have to come back again.

This past Songkran I had the privilege to celebrate my seventh Songkran in Thailand, three of them I’ve celebrated in Bangkok and the rest in Pattaya. This year I actually managed to do both Bangkok and Pattaya for the first time, I celebrated two nights in Bangkok and one in Pattaya. Bangkok being so big it is only celebrated in certain locations that are worth going to (if you want the ultimate water fight experience) such as Khao San road, Silom, and RCA. Other individual spots also arrange pool parties and foam parties such as the club Narsisist that has a foam party for every day of Songkran. This year also RCA arranged a massive concert with world class artists such as Afrojack and Deadmou5e to name a few.  For those who don’t know what Songkran is, it is the traditional Thai New Year and mainly celebrated in Thailand and is some other areas of South East Asia. The reason it is the New Year because it follows the Buddhist/Hindu solar calendar and the purpose of throwing water is because it’s a way of washing away the sins and bad luck. Often when locals come pour (or spray) water on you, they say Happy New Year or vice versa you can go pour (or again, spray) it on the locals and often they will acknowledge you with a smile and Wai (putting the hands together and bowing the head).

Me personally I was at Khao San twice and club narsisist once and the first thing you realize is that once you get to Khao San road is that it is packed, very packed with people. It takes a good solid hour to walk through from one end to the other end. The atmosphere is great, people are soaking wet and shooting water at each other in all directions and everyone seems to be dancing as soon as they hear music, the mood is very festive to say the least. Sonkgran is a great way to connect with the locals as they rarely go out in such a fashion as they do on Songkran. If you are at Khao San I suggest you pick wisely a street bar to park at with your friends, order a bucket or drinks and just stand there shooting at by walkers while listening to good music. This is always the best way because you avoid being in the crowds and have space while still part taking in the water fighting. 

As Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday rolled past and Bangkok sonkgran was celebrated once again, I left for Pattaya on Friday, where Songkran is celebrated on Sunday which I was sure not to miss.  Having celebrated some of my most memorable Songkran’s there I was really looking forward to it. My friends and I have a tradition of getting a pick-up truck and a driver to drive us around the town from noon onwards. From the back of this pick-up we shoot and throw water stopping in front of people who have water fights on the streets and honestly it is the best way to do it. In Pattaya the streets are everywhere flooded with people within the immediate area, the cars are all packed with people throwing water and the whole city is in a festive mood.  Beach road (the main road) is closed for water fighters; think of Khao San road but twice as long and twice as wide and everyone throwing water. It’s amazing how fast a good solid six hours can go by when you have so much fun, and if you are hungry, need water or anything it is all within an arm’s reach on the side of the streets as people sell all of the above mentioned items next to the street at every short interval. When Songkraning you let your inner kid out, you have to. You throw and splash water at everyone and everyone does it back to you, and everyone does it with a constant smile on their face. You notice yourself just dancing to the loud music blaring from the people who party and splash water on the side of the street even stopping and jumping around with them, pulling people into your truck and so on. There is no feeling like it and honestly anyone who is in Thailand during this time period I dare you to leave Bangkok and try out other locations for Songkran such as Chiang Mai (heard it is one of the premier places), the North East (Isan) or even the islands down South.

After it gets dark we leave the car and head up to beach road by foot where the non-stop water fighting continues, Beach road is so wide so they manage to set up DJ sets and stages for people to party in front of, also the street vendors are in full mode selling everything from food to water guns, if you are one of the lucky ones who can keep going for a solid 12 plus hours then you definitely will end up at the walking street which is at the very end of beach road and has all the clubs and bars, some clubs even allow people to water fight indoors so don’t even consider yourself being safe from the water at any point . For me personally I wasn’t up to it this year, I called it quits way before midnight and headed for a well-deserved rest. Five days out of a seven day Songkran week isn’t a bad achievement in my books. Till next year, or the next time.