Sunday, 27 June 2010

Visiting waterfalls in Trang

I had been sitting at home or been doing errands when we then decided to go and see some waterfalls in Trang province for a change.

N. Toen  N. Min

Said and done we packed kids and family members in the pickup and off we went towards Nam Tok Ton Tae and Ton Tok (Nam Tok = waterfall). The drive was not too long and roads were in good condition despite the rainy season, we also had good luck and avoided all showers too.

Fallen forest giant

At Nam Tok Ton Tae was a big parking lot and the entrance to the nature reserve. Surprisingly they did not charge anything for entry, even for a foreigner like me. The waterfall was quite slow and low as well. Excellent place for kids to play around. I saw a sign pointing for a nature trail and I started following it in tow with N.Fon, N. Toen and N. Min. After awhile I realized the trail was not there and we were walking in a rubber plantation or the locals had encroached on the nature reserve.

N. Fon, Toen & Min

Eventually we came to forested area that was not rubber trees and saw some really big ones still standing a also fallen down. The terrain got really steep so we then headed back as I did not want the kids get hurt, never mind myself. I always manage to get myself in odd places. After some time we were near the waterfall and emerged from the jungle a bit above it.

Hypno toad

After the hot & humid trek it was nice to take a dip in the cool water and just relax. I even spotted a huge toad that according to N. Thuen was edible. We left him there to enjoy his existence.

Local Dugong, N. Thuen

Once people had had enough of water games we packed ourselves in the truck and went for Nam Tok Ton Tok. It was barely half an hour away and during the drive we could see Ton Tae upper region that was falling straight down the mountain cliff.

Entrance to Ton Tok

The Ton Tok waterfall really looked like a waterfall but even here the water was low. Still there was an ample amount coming down the mountain side in a 5m fall. It was so strong that even I was not that stupid to go and try it out. We did not linger long as the kids could not play in this waterfall so we left for home.

Ton Tok waterfall

Ton Tae from a distance

On the way we stopped in Palian to get some beers and then in Trang and bought me a dry shirt and then we had dinner at Huai Yod. Wonderful seafood accompanied with Karaoke singing from other customers...

Getting beer

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Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Return to India

After the morning rituals it was time to stuff my luggage in the back of the car and head for the Helsinki-Vantaa airport. I was flying back to India with same Turkish airlines flight I had arrived with. Jari dropped me off at the terminal and we wished to see soon again and not 6 years later on as it had now happened. Well, only time will tell. 

Early morning in front of the Taj

The visit was pleasant but then again, I had not come to stay and therein lies the difference. I met a lot of old acquaintances that had worked hard, saved and made their homes for their future. I could have been one of them, instead I have chosen to roam the seas in foreign employ without the 1:1 relieving systems, social security and pension tied in as in the deeply regulated Finnish (or even European) work culture as I would not have been able to see what I have seen during the years. This can be called my karma.
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Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Last dinner

This morning we had time with Mia to open up the attic of the old barn and explore the contents. Everything as covered in dust worth years. There was some really old stuff that some people would pay a fair amount of money to get their hands on. Just to mention there was some old hand blown glass bottles, one officially stamped 100+ year old potato measure, old furniture and so on...

Me in front of the old barn
Then it was time to get back to Åbo and report home. It was time for farewell dinner and Jari from Espoo was coming to pick me up as I was flying back to India the next day. Mia went home to St. Karins to pack remaining stuff she had and I went to town to buy Mom a pack of cream and to check out some book shops. The center of Åbo had changed drastically and one of the main streets was now only for pedestrians. 

Mom & Dad

At the same time I met one old friend Soile and we walked from one bookshop to another checking for bargains but I had no time to tarry as my Mom had her cooking pending so I got a few books and headed for home. I could tell I had been a long time away as I felt driving on the right side of the road felt really odd as well as I was fumbling for the indicator on the right side of the steering wheel.

Shopping street in Turku (Åbo)

Finally we had dinner and Mia joined us with Jessica and a few hours afterwards Jari came by and picked me up on his way to Espoo and so I left for the road again.

Turku skyline from the railway bridge

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Monday, 7 June 2010


Next day all picked themselves up and spent the morning perusing the empty chicken farms that could house 100.000 free range chicks. There were many other outhouses as well used for various purposes not known to us but nevertheless Mia and Marko had their own plans already for them. Soon enough Niklas and Elina made their way towards Helsinki and Mom for Åbo. 

I was left as the only guest and Marko was driving me around his native town showing different highlights in this chicken growing community. In the morning I got dropped off at another chicken farmers estate where Mia was keeping her horse, Doli, and I got to follow Jessica, my niece, taking a Finnish horse for his daily exercise. Later on I also got to take him for a ride (or rather I was taken for a ride) too and boy was he feisty, he just wanted to go. After 10minutes I was already feeling sore in my thighs so I let him get further exercised by Jessica while Mia was exercising Doli at the end of a girdle.

Riding Simo
I was also introduced to Ro-Pe racecar builders and before arriving to the yard Marko told me he is an amateur compared to these guys. Once we ot out of the car I thought they got a fairly average workshop with all the necessary implements. It was only later that even my jaw dropped when I saw the field behind the house was littered with about 100+ car wrecks waiting to be made into a race car. 

Marko bought a test bench from the guys and we drove it back to his mansion. Then we manhandled the whole thing onto his workshop floor, 3 guys for some 350kg's or more. Later on Marko's father came by on his tractor to sow the grass field for Mia's horse and so Marko got me to take a spin on the tractor too as Mia had advertised that I had never driven one. Well, now I have.
Tractor driving

The evening went quietly doing some grilling on the porch and emptying a few remaining beer cans while warming up the sauna to proper temperatures. Marko turned in early while I was chating with Mia and she also gave up. I sat a few minutes more wondering about the daylight at nearly midnight and also got down for some shuteye.
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Sunday, 6 June 2010


Today was time for my sister to move to her estate in Laitila with 7 hectares of land. I was enlisted to the moving troupe. We left with my Mom and drove through Turku towards St.karins where my sister Mia lived. On the way we picked up my brother Niklas and his girlfriend Elina who were also chipping in the fun. We arrived soon enough and in the yard there was a big truck already, so all was set to go. Inside was Mia and her recalcitrant kids who had difficulties to understand which part of packing she meant. Nevertheless, the show went on the road and big and heavy items went out the window into the truck. Then smaller things followed and finally Jessica got her stuff packed and that was too loaded into the truck. Mias hubby Marko then loaded as the piece-the-resistance an engine, a grasscutting tractor and a moped and then the truck was full. Doors closed and off it went towards Laitila.

The happy new mistress of Sonkkila estate
The kids were left behind with their Grandma to come later which raised a few objections which were quickly downvoted as they did not join in the loading and were not planning to participate in the offloading as well. I went onto Mia's Volvo stationwagon with Niklas and Elina. We stopped enroute at the Laitila city center to get essentials like beer, beer and beer. After the provisioning we headed for the Sonkkila estate that now in effect was going to change name after more than 300 years. The truck had already arrived and Marko said he had burned al the carbon out of the exhaust system. Oh well. doors open and on with the job, it took us abt 30minutes to empty the truck when we had used the best of the morning to fill it up. Mom was thrilled about the enormous rhubarb plants in the garden and was immediately cutting off material for a pie.

Anyway, Marko still got some surprises up his sleeve and we got to take into pieces a small log playhouse to be transported elsewhere. First we lifted the ceiling and then the walls, I can assure you, it was heavy, with 6 guys and 2 gals pitching in. Finally we got the thing on the trailer and off we went to deliver it. At the destination we had same project ahead of us to lift the thing off and put it together in its former glory. It was worth it as the look of the small kids in the yard were beaming for the new playhouse. Then it was off driving back to the estate and warm up the sauna, feed and refreshments for stretched limbs and ligaments. During the delivery my Mom had prepared all the food for the moving party and upon arrival we manned the sauna. It proved a tight fit to squeeze five grownup men on the benches eventhough I don't know if anyone was using Rexona. Luckily, soon enough the younger generation could not take it anymore and escaped to cool off so the older guys could start throwing some real baths on the stones. Once we had enough it was time for feeding and enjoying the evening.
Mia & Marko (note the vintage redneck cap)

Mia had full job of finding places to sleep as she had 4 kids to put to sleep and furthermore another 4 adults, eventually she managed to piece together 8 cribs and she had her lot done for the time being. In the course of the evening I think Mom got a bit tipsy and the rest got a bit more. Sleep came easily.

Mias horse Doli who eventually will get housed at the estate

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Saturday, 5 June 2010

Kustavi and Nousiainen

Next day came and me and Mom headed for Kustavi (Gustavs)  to see the summer house there, while Mom was doing shopping in the new Grocery store in the main village I wandered to the church and checked inside. Furthermore, the village had gotten itself an Alko store so there was no need to cook moonshine or drive to Taivassalo to buy booze. In the church there was still the same miniature ships sailing above the congregation heads, nobody was on the premises except a caretaker. 

Church ship

Kustavi Church

The day was quite cold as the wind was northerly and Kustavi is quite exposed for northerly cold winds. At the villa, also incredibly overgrown, the wind was hitting straight on as usual because it is located on a nort facing shore. I walked around and found everything as before, as a kid we spent also our summer holidays here and those days we had no electricity so we bathed in the sea or rainwater and sauna days were the best when you got warm water. 

Villa Kustavi Kivimaa

Now the villa has already been connected to the national grid. Mom rooted around and planted some saplings she had brought with her on her recent trip to Estonia and once done we had a light lunch on the south side of the house and then we decided to head back to Turku.

The beach
On the way I got off in Nousiainen to go and meet my old esteemed colleague, Captain Granqvist, with whom I had worked for several years on Columbus Caravelle. He was also on vacation from his current job and we had met last time in 2006 in Hamburg when I was working for NSB shipping. 

M/v Columbus Caravelle

We kicked off with chilled Lapin Kulta beer and hauled anchors. Then it was through current affairs and plans to reminiscing Hong Kong typhoons and Singapore slings as well as other marine stuff. Reijo got the grill going and Agnes, his wife, sorted the provisioning while we then prepared it now to the power of G&T's. As he had an appointment the next day I could not stay longer, so he followed me while Agnes drove me home the same evening.

Reijo & Agnes

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Friday, 4 June 2010

To Åbo

I was up again early morning and went take up the fish net, as it happened I got 3 fishes which I removed and cleaned up the net and then the fishes. Then it was time for breakfast and once finished my Mom drove up to the house to join us for a cup of coffee. After some chatting it was off to Tallberga for lunch and then we started for Åbo.

Uncle Bengt

Before getting to the main village of Nagu we stopped at a "maiden's dance" (jungfru dans/ Jatulintarha). It is a leftover from the heathen times thought to have been set up by waiting fishermens wives standing perched up on a mountain looking for their husbands to return from the sea. The dance is thought to have been constructed to while away the time. It is a circular maze that when one enters and goes around it one is also extricated on the same way forward without walking on the inward path. The concentric in and out circles goes between each other. On the path to the hill we passed a defunct windmill that used to be in operation when my Mom was a child.

Maidens Dance

The old windmill

The trip back was uneventful and soon enough I was back at my childhood home where I also met my Father. The town lot was quite overgrown and Father calls it the "natural beauty without interfering" and Mom was somewhat fed up in asking permission to cut a grass straw. After some time it was again time for dinner and rest later in the evening. 

My childhood home



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Thursday, 3 June 2010

Going to Nagu

Next morning went we got up and Bengt headed for the health station to get some of his old age problems tended to and once back we went for some shopping and bought the necessary ingredients to make my Thai dish for lunch. After shopping Bengt drove my around the shores of Helsinki and showed some places of interest. Lunch became so much we got a lunchbox saved for my aunt Elisabeth that was going to accompany us to Nagu. In the afternoon we packed us into my Bengt's SUV and off we went westwards. In Klippsta we picked up Elisabeth and we continued our journey. My aunt I hadn't also met in 12years but she looked the same as before except a few more wrinkles. She ate the lunchbox with gusto but I could see the jalapenos was making her mouth burn. The new motorway to Åbo was really smooth and soon enough we found ourselves in Pargas where we stopped to buy some food for the evening. Then the next stop was at the inter-Island ferry (along the now named "archipelagic ring road") and we made the short seavoyage across to Nagu.

Canada geese in Helsinki
The main village of Nagu had not changed much since my childhood although there was now a hotel and a new marina on the south side. The marina looked really good. The road to my Aunt's villa Tallberga (that used to be my Grandma's) was still the same dirt road and Tallberga (Pinehill) looked somewhat the same. The paint scheme had been changed and a sauna had been added as well as the notoriously dangerous staircase to the second floor inside the house had been removed and been rebuilt at another place in a much less steeper inclination. Tallberga looked really good and now that there was running water it made life much easier. Compared to the time when my grandma was still alive and stayed there all summer and at times could have 10 grand children living there with the parents coming and going. We all washed in the lake so there was not much choice for hot or cold water. Elisabeth treated us to some white wine and we chatted for a time but time was again working against us so we had to load us into the car and drive to Bengt's villa Missvik.
The ferry to Nagu

We drove the old main road of Nagu to Missvik that was now relegated to a back road that not many knew about nowadays. At about halfway used to be the municipal garbage dump where we as kids used to go and shoot rats with air rifles. The dump has now been closed for several years and I assume the rats have moved on as well. The rest of the road was still the same and maintained in a fairly good condition as well. Then it was 100m on the current main road and a turn to the dirt road leading to Missvik. After awhile we passed the Uttis mansion that used to be the property of my Grandma's sister. The mansion was under repair and now under Ownership of my little cousin that resides in France. The estate grounds had also been developed to a homestay country resort for tourists. Not a really appealing development but I guess that is called progress. Anyway, at the end of the road was Missvik and we got to offload ourselves from the car. In my childhood we used to come by boat over from Tallberga to Missvik for sauna nights.

Aunt Elisabeth

I started cleaning up the herring we had bought in Pargas and Bengt set to warm the sauna. As a welcome drink he offered some Famous Grouse that went down well, washing away the dust from the days travel. Once the herring was cleaned up Bengt broiled it in the sauna while I cleaned the new potatoes. Then we set about putting out the fishing net in the hopes that we would get some fresh fish for the next day. I rowed as per instructions from Bengt and he lowered the net. Once we were back it was time for sauna and get cleaned up. After that it was time for dinner and while waiting for the potatoes to boil we had some German beer to cool down. Once finished dinner & cleanup I discovered it was already over midnight, having stayed so long in Far East where I'm accustomed that darkness comes between 6-7pm, this long time of daylight was a bit difficult to realize but sleep was not a problem.

Villa Tallberga

Villa Missvik

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Wednesday, 2 June 2010

In Munksnäs

Next day more or less the same, breakfast and so on. I found out my bro has a Wii game so I got to try out this gadget as well. I packed my stuff and started orientating myself to Munkkiniemi where my uncle Bengt lives. 

Helsingfors Domkyrka/ Helsingin Tuomiokirkko (church)

It was fairly easy with the help of and my handheld GPS. Once off the tram I had though a bit of complications getting a decent heading of where to go but after a 360 degrees loop I was on the right track. 

After a few hundred meters towing my luggage I was at my Uncle's apartment and rang the door. I was met by my Uncle Bengt and he offered me a bottle of Karjala beer, one of the best in my opinion. In fact I had not met Bengt in over 12 years or more as I had been away working so much. It was not difficult to find subjects to talk about. 

In the course of the afternoon Bengt suggested I ride with him to Nagu the next day and from there make my way to Åbo, my home town where my parents still stay. I agreed and so the discussion went on. 

Cherry blossoms in Munksnäs

At some time Niklas also came by but only stayed a short while as he had a house board meeting to attend to in the evening. For dinner Bengt treated me at the Munksnäs Grill which was rather a fancy restaurant. After dinner we headed back to the apartment and after some more talk we hit the sack. 
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Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Getting Indian visa

Next morning went as usual and after the morning feed we went off on foot towards Katajanokka where the Indian embassy is located. I found that my phone with in built GPS and maps very helpful in orientating in Helsinki as I have never had to do that. Mostly having visited Helsinki with ships it was easiest to find the way around with taxi as is customary by sailors on evening leave. 

The Havis Amanda fountain

Having said goodbye to Niklas at Havis Amanda we parted ways, him towards his office and me towards the embassy. Katajanokka was hustle and bustle with open air market and coffee shops. Very quaint but still far away from the Far Eastern markets I'm used to.
The Indian embassy is located in an old stone building that was built in 1897 by Gustaf Nyström, their premises are located on the top floor. Then of course in the embassy was the usual bureaucrat with the usual zeal for paper shuffling. Eventually it turned out I did not have all the rquired documents with me so I had to race back to Niklas's apartment and then on to his work to get some copies done there. I walked to his apartment but then I saw time was drawing high so I resorted to a taxi. 

Anyway, I managed to file all papers on time and money changed hands. I went back to NIklas apartment to wait for him to come back from work. Once back I cooked him some Thai chicken in basil to reminisce some memories from times gone by. Rest of evening went in a relaxed state accompanied with Sandels. I had called my uncle to go and meet him as he is also living in Helsinki but he only due back the next day, so we agreed on meeting then.  
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