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By Asmodeane in Posts

Here I am, as the title says, in the heat of the tropical night. It’s been a wild ride so far, and I still suffer from a bit of a cognitive dissonance. Am I really here? Is it really me, holding a beer, looking along a 5km stretch of white beach on the coast of the Andaman Sea? The answer is, of course, no. It is not. It is never really “me”. I am always somewhere else. And therein lies the tragedy.

The Khlong Boat rocks

The Khlong Boat rocks

Our last couple of days in Bangkok were nothing if not event rich. We started off our day with a trip down the Khlongs (the narrow channels running through Bangkok) on one of those predatory looking passenger boats, full of busy local people on their way to their busy local lives. It was awesome! The motor was screaming, the passengers were quietly suffering, the fetid water lapped over the board and sprayed its parasite-laden waters in their faces, and we, the only two tourists on board, were busily recording every second through our two wide eyes. We got off in town, went up the “golden mountain” temple, caught our breath, and went down again. Temples, yay. Enough temples. I tried making girly touch a monk (thereby cursing him to a lengthy ceremony of cleansing) but she didn’t want to. I then cajoled her to touch one on the sly (imagine his face when he ends up in hell after his pious life devoted to worship!) but she didn’t want to hear of it.

Pretty lame.

Pretty lame.

We then went towards the noise, which turned out to be the anti-government protest. The protesters were pretty apathetic, some of them were apparently allowed to camp out on temple territory, too. We went by the street leading up to the Democracy Monument, which was covered in tents and tarps, and apparently we were the only westerners to have done that in a while, cos we were met with incredulity and open stares, my girlies red hair getting most of the attention (as I am fairly dark both of hair and skin). There were a couple of displays of hostility, too, nothing major, just some cursing and evil-eyes. So we walked about and about, had lunch at a supposedly very popular (Lonely Planet’s TOP CHOICE) restaurant called… Shit. Wait. Yes! Krua Apsorn. It was ok, but it’s superlative claims to fame, such as being a favorite to the Royal Family (what, that place with all the atmosphere of a school cafeteria?), seemed a bit too grandiose to be true. Still, the mushrooms were good and the service quick. Also, speaking of The King, we were walking along a road near the river somewhere when suddenly there were four mounted cops in full regalia blocking the path. We edged closer, and lo! Soon there was a cavalcade of red Mercedes Benzes and BMW’s, along with an ancient beige Rolls-Royce with a character dressed in a white uniform seated in the back. The powers that be lined up small children in school uniforms along the street and shot them made them bow as the cavalcade processed. Very nice. Some people cried, some clapped their hands with their faces split in huge smiles, we just gaped and took pictures. It’s good to be king.

Elvis has been hiding out in Bangkokg all these years

Elvis has been hiding out in Bangkokg all these years

Anyway, after ambling about a forlorn Chinatown (it was deserted, maybe because 10pm on a Wednesday night is too late?), and eating at a shitty Chinese diner that was none the less recommended in one of our travel guides, we took a cab to the hotel and went to bed. Or tried to. We still had terrible jet lag problems. No sleep came before 5am, so we woke up at 13:00, with just enough time to exchange some cash and eat along the Sukhumvit. We were off to the New Southern Bus Station with almost two hours to spare, thinking that it should be more than plenty. Boy were we wrong. We spent an hour and a half in the terrible traffic jams, bursting bladders adding to the torture (we shared a last beer at the hotel, naturally), every painful block cheered, every minute spent honking the horn in impotent fury lamented and cursed in many a language. We made it in time, partly thanks to our taxi driver who was willing to risk his license to get us there in time by breaking too many traffic rules to mention. He got a princely tip of 20 Bhat.

Our bus was a kingly, two storied affair with business-class seats (minus the screens and free WiFi). We even got a croissant and some water to eat right before “take-off”. We chilled in our seats, stretching out limbs and marveling at all the lebensraum, but come night we couldn’t sleep no matter how hard we tried. And here I am, almost 28 hours since I’ve last slept, trying to fucking finish writing this bloody blog up. Good night, ladies and gentlemen, have pity on your humble servant and let him go to sleep.

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Fairly Flighty

December 10, 2013
By Asmodeane in Posts

Farewell freezing Finland

Farewell freezing Finland

First night in Bangkok (makes a hard man humble). After 17 hours up in the air (and about six at various airports). On non-reclining “single-shell” seats. Whoever thought those were a good idea on long haul flights ought to be strapped into one for twelve hours. But all in all I was surprised at how well all that flying went. I didn’t have a single panic attack, no fears, just zen-like cow calm throughout the trip, with just a beer or two backing me up. Strange thing is, I liked the whole hoopla of taking three different planes, I liked seeing Heathrow and Hong-Kong airports, and it was all fairly easy and hassle-free. I guess everything is easy after buying train tickets at the Delhi railway station… I even slept for three hours on the Heathrow - HK stretch. But needless to say we were dead tired after all that travel, so after checking into our hotel we took a “short nap” - only 7 hours long.

Our 1989 vintage 747-400.

Our 1989 vintage 747-400.

So yeah, life is good. We even managed to “upgrade” our seats on the long-haul portion of our flights, from the terrible middle isle to the deluxe two-abreast seats waaaay at the back, there’s only 12 seats like that on a 4-class configuration 747-400. Too bad they didn’t recline, and I forgot my brand new neck pillow on the seat of the first flight. It didn’t matter much though, since we got nice pillows and blankeys on all the subsequent flights. I even managed to get three or four hours of in-flight sleep. Your own power outlet and free in-flight entertainment is nothing to sneeze at either, we had tons of shows and movies to chose from. I played BG:EE and watched the 3rd season of Idiot Abroad and a season of Deadliest catch. I am a man of exquisite tastes and I don’t regret anything.

Cheap and Cheerful

Cheap and Cheerful

As for Bangkok, our first few hours of night-life were awesome. Bangkok is full of life and color, it is like India without the horrors and shit everywhere. The city (at least the Sukhumvit part we walked about) is surprisingly clean, and you see clean up crews everywhere, so municipal services appear to be working. There are street vendors everywhere, whores, beggars, and 7-Elevens. Quite a few McD’s and Starbucks, too. We picked a nice street kitchen and had late dinner, I had flat noodles in black sauce (tried asking what that is but didn’t understand the answer) and chicken, girly had eye-wateringly spicy bean sprout tofu mix with rice. The price? 1.10€ for my meal and 1.50€ for hers. The beers ended up costing more than the food at 100 Bhat each.

Now we’re back at the hotel, enjoying the AC and the speedy internet, and it is time to try and fall asleep, and at least make an attempt at getting some sleep, so as to get the sleep cycles in order. Yawn.

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Bullet dodging 101

December 8, 2013
By Asmodeane in Posts

It’s almost time to board a flying death tube again. Three in a row, to be precise. Tomorrow at 8am an A320 will take us to Heathrow, then a B747-400 will take us to Hong Kong, from where a B777 will fly us to our final destination, mutinous Bangkok. All in a short, short time span of 26 hours! I am going to die, aren’t I? At least it’s Cathay Pacific, so should have decent in-flight entertainment and service…

Tallinn Maritime Museum is well worth a visit

Tallinn Maritime Museum is well worth a visit

As for bullet dodging, well, first there were the Thai protests that threatened to get really really ugly until people calmed down for the birthday of his majesty the king of Siam. Ok, so the protests are still ongoing, but some sort of resolution is in the air, what with the acquiescence of the PM to hold elections or even to resign.Then there was the storm that shut the bridge between Denmark and Sweden, and grounded planes all over northern Europe. And lastly, but not leastly by far, there was the ridiculous ATC glitch that threw a wrench in the works for the UK airspace on Friday - Saturday. That came really close to ruining our schedules, and in fact might still have a knock-on effect.

So where are we going? So far the itinerary is as follows: Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Thailand. First a few days in Bangkok to get our shit together after all the lovely flights, then down to Koh Lanta - Krabi area for a week, then back to Bangkok and onward to Hanoi, where we’ll celebrate Christmas and explore Ha long bay. From there we’ll probably take a 24 hour bus to Vientiane, jumping off at Vang Vieng. It’s a terrible place, with terrible people, but we still wanna see it. After that it’s on to the capital, Vientiane, and then, probably, Bangkok again for a day or two. From there we’ll head to Cambodia, reaching Siem Reap and Angkor Wat for an overdose of temples. If it looks like we have the time we’ll probably then head to the shores, to see the gorgeous islands and enjoy the turquoise sea on the (relatively) unspoiled coast of Cambodia. And finally we’ll head to Bangkok for our long trip back home. Phew. That looks hard enough on screen, it’ll probably be too much for the 6 weeks we have allocated to the project. I’ll probably need a week of rest and relaxation, as well as parasite treatments, just to recuperate from that colossal trip. And it is colossal, for me. The longest trip I did before was four weeks, that was the rail journey from Helsinki to Shanghai.

Anyway, time to finish my packing and try to relax a little, charge up my electronics and maybe even get some sleep. Cheerio!

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Spa time for the elderly

December 5, 2013
By Asmodeane in Posts, Travel

I am a raisin. And so is my girly darling. We are elderly raisins, bobbing along in uncomfortable proximity to other elderly and flatulent raisins. But that is what you get if you take a cut rate spa vacation in Tallinn, Estonia. We, or rather she, found a Groupon deal for Kalev Spa, that included massage and a couple of weird treatments as well as unlimited access to the waterpark, gyms and saunas.

Fast ferry across the seas

This wasn’t my idea. Obviously. Not that I have anything against spas in particular, but going on a spa vacation less than a week before embarking on a six week Indochina “expedition” seems a little overindulgent. Oh and I am unemployed now. Or wait, not yet, officially my unemployment commences at the end of January. Until then I am a gentleman of leisure, getting a regular pay check free of any obligation, not to mention guilt. That was the deal I “negotiated” for myself. Then I went to the unemployment office and negotiated another deal, making my semi-private unemployment insurance pay for my bachelors degree for two years, during which time I should be able to graduate. I am just rolling in bliss, I am going to get paid over 70% of my old salary just to study, and I’ll have the summer free to sail and frolick… I’ll even get to go abroad as a 33 year old exchange student! Gosh.

But back to matters at hand. I am waiting for my one and only to finish slapping on her make up and come down to the lobby bar, so that we can go have a modest feast at Rataskaevu 16, a great little restaurant. We don’t have reservations, but what we do have is a back-up plan, a place that ought to have a Michelin star according to most of the reviews, called Lusikas.

*Edit

Managed to eat at Rataskaevu after a little wait, then had drinks at a drinks bar and went back to the hotel full, tired and tipsy. Today was spent at the awesome new Estonian maritime museum and dining at Restaurant Moon, a very popular new venue. Soon it’s time to go back to the ferry, a different one this time, going to be my first trip on the Eckerö Line’s Finlandia. God I hate editing posts on this iPad.

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In the land of potato

July 15, 2013
By Asmodeane in Posts, Road trips

Obligatory picture of Köln cathedral

Obligatory picture of the Köln cathedral

And once again I am at another airport, waiting for another boarding to begin. This time I am going home, thankfully. As for my trip, well, Germany was bad, Latvia was good. Germany had blood-sucking relatives in various stages of obesity and retardation, Latvia had a delightful old friend of mine who once again dazzled me with the quality of his company and erudition. Hanging out with mediocrities and plain old dullards is fine and dandy up to a point, requiring minimum of commitment and effort, but tends to be quite depressing when every once in a while you crawl from your dank place under some rock and are blinded by the bright shining stars that are some people, giving rise to feelings of profound inadequacy and general regret. Ah, but such is life. Mine is, at any rate, but that is an unfortunate choice I made.

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I don’t really want to talk about Germany. It was depressing. I’ve already seen what there was to see in Cologne, and besides, was only there for two full days so didn’t want to range far afield in search of things to do, concentrating on spending time with my ailing, elderly grandmother instead. This might, after all, be the last time I ever see her alive again. Or then she might hang on for another ten years or so, but it’s doubtful, since people who live that long tend to still have a goal in life, something to look forward to, be it a calling or a hobby, or at least a strong social structure in form of good friends and family to support them, and my poor grandmother has neither. To end my trip on a final depressing note, I booked my flight to Riga with Ryanair. It departed from an old military airport in Weeze, 70km from Dusseldorf, and required a two hour long bus shuttle connection. It was my first Ryanair experience, and I can promise you it will also remain my last Ryanair experience.

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MD-82, Cockpit

MD-82, Cockpit

But Riga was good. Riga was fun. Not even Riga, actually, but Saulkrasti, where my friend moved after separation from his wife. A brilliant place about 45km east from Riga, along the coast, a small town with all the amenities and more sandy beach than you can shake a stick at. He has a condo in a large block of flats, so all the comforts of city living are at his disposal, complete with high speed internet and hot water, but the sea is only a few hundred meters away, and the river even closer, and the view is fairly pastoral. We spent a few days beaching and fishing, and even caught two tiny perches. The water was almost warm, at 19c, so swam plenty as well. And now I am waiting from my Bombardier Dash 8 q400 to Helsinki. Oh, my flight from Copenhagen to Cologne was for some reason switched from the scheduled A320 to a venerable MD-82, one of the few still flying with SAS, and in Europe in general. It wasn’t quite as old as I first thought, delivered in 1991, but still an interesting plane that I haven’t flown in for at least ten years. But that is it for now, I think. I can’t be arsed uploading and editing photos from my DSLR, so boring photos from my S3 is what you’ll get for illustrations.

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By Asmodeane in Posts, Travel

Airport views...

Airport views...

The Greek experience is over. Seven days of bad food and hot weather are finally over. Now I am not dissin’ Greek cuisine, mind you. I am dissin’ the tourist version of it dished out in touristy spots all over Rhodes. All in all, if I were to give a report card grade to the trip, I’d give it a 7 on the Finnish 4 to 10 school scale. After all, my last trip was to Cuba, the trip before that was to India, and the one before that a month long journey on the Trans Siberian train into the yellow heart of China and beyond. So yes, I kind of expected a packaged trip to Greece to feel bland after that.

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Just a tranquil sailing pic from yesterday.

Just a tranquil sailing pic from yesterday.

So let’s recap. We had a car for five days, visited the  tip, ruins of Monilithos, the town of Lindos (no touristing, just beach bumming for a few hours and then getting the hell out of there cos grew too hot), the old town, archaeological museum, and then lastly (but not leastly) the water park at Faliraki. I liked the water park the most, to be honest. I guess the main problem with the trip was that we were a little bored most of the time, the critical mass just wasn’t there with two people. Another unforgettable experience was getting asked out for a date by a blond Swedish barbie. I turned her down because as soon as she asked me out I have fulfilled three objectives with one fell stroke: namely the ego boost, seeing Bonuses jaw fall to the floor in slow motion, and the incredulous expression on the girl’s face when I turned her offer down. And were I to go out with her, what then? I don’t fancy cheating on my gf, nor do I think our conversation would have been all that interesting, so why suffer through a tedious exercise with no reward whatsoever in sight?

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Kaunissaari beach panorama

Kaunissaari beach panorama

In the end I overdid it with the beer while there. Drinking like a fish for 7 days and 7 nights didn’t leave me unscathed. Nor did the merciless Greek sun. On the last day of my stay I succumbed to the deadly trifecta of food poisoning, alcohol withdrawal and sun stroke. My legs barely carried me to the nearby restaurant and back, and I could hardly swallow a tomato with a sliver of feta cheese. I felt like going to the doc’s for a bit of electrolyte balancing, but didn’t wanna miss my flight. After a couple of gatoraids and mineral water mixed with table salt I was ambulatory enough to make it to the airport, thankfully.

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My troubles weren’t over though, I came home, barely slept, and sailed off into the wide blue yonder with my gf come morning. The plan was to go to Estonia, but the winds were adverse so we went to Kaunissaari instead. Where I proceeded to have a bit of a breakdown, being utterly fatigued and still somewhat dehydrated. And what’s worse, I got my old anxiety and depersonalization back again as well. We sailed back last Wednesday, I went to the doc’s who confirmed my suspicions of saline imbalance and told me that the rest of the symptoms were basically manifestations of my anxiety.  So gonna be taking it easy for a while now…

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But here I am, sitting with a beer in my hand, looking at planes. There is a KLM 737 in front of me, I can see the co-pilot going through his paperwork, elbow hanging out of the window… Soon I’ll be up in the air, on the way to Copenhagen on a Blue1 Boeing 717, and then hop on a SAS A320 to Düsseldorf, where I’ll catch a train to Cologne, and then, finally, a cab to Granny’s place. So wish me luck. No, not for the flight, but for me to endure the emotional hell house that is my dad’s side of the family.

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By Asmodeane in Posts, Travel

Monolithos

Monolithos

Well, it’s been three days since I came to Rodos, or rather three nights. And what can I say… It’s been fairly dull. I had no real expectations when I came here, or at least no particuarily positive expecations. I knew I was coming to a tourist trap, filled with hawkers, hustlers and drunk brits. I submitted myself to this willingly, lured by the promise of a “boys week out” and just a chance to unwind with no pressure to perform feats of time-distortion by being in three historical locations at once.

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A really shitty shot of Prasonisi

A really shitty shot of Prasonisi

So yeah, we rented a car for five days and set ourselves a goal to see a local landmark every day. We got a fairly ok deal, not too good not too bad, 160€ for a red Fiat Panda with only 25k on the odometer. Pretty good when split two ways, only coming to 16€ per person per day, we’d waste at least that much on buses and public transportation (beaten up buses with barely any suspension and no air conditioning? Just shoot me.) every day… Plus getting a rental car gives you a certain freedom to see places on your own schedule. Anyway, bored myself to tears writing this banal crap, gonna go have a dip in the pool.

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Ah yes, where were we. Anyway, we managed a few local sights now, the castle at Monolithos and the beach at Prasonisi on our first day, Rodos old town on the second, and now the valley of the butterflies and an abortive attempt at the acropolis of Iyalysos (couldn’t find the road to the bloody thing). Fairly interesting places all, if a little overcrowded. Prasonisi was terribly windy, plus we both got sunburned to hell and back, Monolithos had good views but fuck all else. Rodos old town was nice in a generic way, the archeological museum was fairly large and predictably dull. The valley of the butterflies was a good workout, three kilometers of climbing topped with a monastery with some fairly nice views, the butterflies were being boring though, mainly clustering on trees and boulders. They are probably more active in the evening or something.

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So yeah, so far no proper adventures or accidents bigger than getting somewhat sunburned. This evening will probably prove no different, with nothing more exotic than a dinner at a local tavern to look forward to.

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By Asmodeane in Posts, Travel

At least the flight weather looks good.

At least the flight weather looks good.

And once again this blog finds me at the airport. On a perfectly banal trip, to a holiday hell-hole. I could have whipped out my iPad with its handy keyboard cover on my trip to Cuba, five months ago, or on my trip to India in August 2012, but no. I have to make a post about a painfully mundane trip to bloody Rodos. Or, more precisely, a holiday town of Ialyssos. Who knows what kind of hell will I be subjecting myself to… Will there be drunk (insert nationality here)? Is it going to be dull as hell? Stay tuned.

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I was supposed to spend my summer vacation circumnavigating the north Baltic sea, but the project proved to be a little too challenging when it came to crewing schedules and general timetables. Girly only had two weeks, and another crew member (looking at you, Bonus) bailed at practically the last moment, so instead of juggling probabilities and narrow weather windows I opted for a more relaxed approach, threw in the towel and booked a “burning” flight to Rodos, where Bonus already eloped a week before me. I will hunt the treacherous bastard down and kill him. I think this is the first time I ever go south on a holiday trip with someone other than my parents or girlfriend. About time, I think, at 33…

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Anyway, this upcoming flight (AY1709, boarding in an hour) is giving me the creeps, so will now self medicate and listen to calming music. I really don’t feel like rocketing into the wide blue yonder. Maybe I’ll feel like it after a couple of whiskeys but I doubt it. Looks like I’m stuck with this aerophobic bullshit for life…

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By Asmodeane in Posts, Rants, Road trips

Phew.

She's finally up!

She's finally up!

After zooming about Finland for a week I have finally been able to stop for a while and take a breather. The encroaching winter has been giving me two causes for a major headache: boat and car. Boat because one tends to hoist the boat onto dry land for the winter in northern latitudes (provided one wants to keep on having a boat, or at least a buoyant boat) and the time for that has come a long time ago, and car because I have not been able to change my tires to the winterized variety, and with a gig to Rovaniemi, a town situated right on top of the polar circle, I was justifiably nervous. But, as attested by the poor quality photos provided, I have now done both! A huge boulder of worry has rolled off my sallow chest…

Of course, me being me, I didn’t quite take the tasks to their completion. My car is still screaming for service, now about 4000km overdue, and my boat is uncovered and her engine is still waiting for that oil change. I’m the king of half-assed measures, I am…

My girl, bottomless...

My girl, bottomless...

Anyway, I am writing this from the corner table of the “Classic Pizza Restaurant” at the Holiday Club Spa in Tampere. Yes, that’s right, I have another week-long photogig, criss-crossing Finland in my trusty black vulva. I came here from Kemi after having spent another night at the stinky murder hotel (this time my room stank of pickles, apparently there is an individual stink for every room), screaming through a blizzard with nary a thought for personal safety, about 600km of delightful zero-visibility driving. My back is shot and I have so far spent 968€ on gas this month, plus my car has started to sound funny. To add insult to injury, I managed to thoroughly embarrass myself at the shooting location today. I was supposed to take pics of a bunch of execs after they had some super important meeting, at a conference space on the sixth floor of a certain factory building. Well, I went there in time, set my studio up, and noticed that they had a very nice balcony overlooking the factory and the Bay of Bothnia beyond that. So I grab my recently-purchased D5100 and step outside, ready to capture that morning light… And the balcony door closes behind me. Closes shut, you see. And there I am, my photoshoot still about an hour away, and me dressed in a collared shirt and jeans, trapped on the sixth floor, whipped by the snow. Yay! I luckily had my phone with me, so called the state-wide phone inquiry number, and after numerous hops and connections managed to raise the gate warden of the factory, making him send someone to free me from my lofty prison… I ended up freezing my ass off for half an hour. At least I got some decent pics of the factory, and as far as I know the execs didn’t notice a thing.

Visibility - Nil

Visibility - Nil

After that gig it was time to brave the blizzard and drive 600km to Tampere. That was a shit deal, let me tell you. Zero-visibility driving is never fun, but what makes it worse is other drivers. I was roaring along at about 90km/h, well under the 100km/h limit, when suddenly I see tail-lights ahead, and barely have the time to simultaneously brake and swerve, near-missing a white Opel Insignia doing about 30 - 40km/h. I just about had the time to give him a proper honk before he dissapeared into the blizzard behind me. I instantly regretted that though, since I noticed he had some manner of foreign plates, might have even been Ukrainean. Which means no winter tires… I’d have been crawling along as well were I in his place. Whoever you were, my scaredy Opel man, I am sorry.

Anyway, I guess it’s time to test that pizza. This place was supposedly voted best pizza restaurant in Finland by some women’s mags, but what do women know about pizza, eh?

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Wheels keep on turning

October 24, 2012
By Asmodeane in Posts, Road trips

Still wouldn't want his job.

Still wouldn't want his job.

Ugh. Just plain Ugh. With a big U. I came from Kemi last night, drove 733km practically non-stop, just to wake up at 6:30 this morning to drive to Kotka. Girly tossing and turning through the night, had to evacuate myself to the couch in order to get a few hours of shut-eye in, so I figure I must have gotten about 4 hours of uninterupted slumber all in all. At least the 130km drive to Kotka didn’t feel like much after driving back and forth along the Helsinki - Kemi stretch for the past couple of months. 130km? Pah! Like popping down to the local grocer for a kit-kat. But grumble one mustn’t. Stiff upper lip and a puritan work ethic have never been my forte, but it seems that life gradually changes a man, and I seem to have grown some extra cartilage in said lip, as well as experienced a thorough ossification of the vertebral column. What next, I wonder? Giving up drinking? A flat in the suburbs? Marriage? A half-score of grubby little crotchfruits? Shudder.

But I digress. What I actually wanted to write about was my last night at Kemi. I stayed at the low-budget, three-stars-is-a-squeeze, hotel called Palomestari ( “The Firechief” ). It was not a pretty sight. Hemmed in on both sides by pubs and disreputable-looking eating establishments, it did not inspire confidence. A dingy front door that looked designed not to attract undue attention and a neon sign that, if perched atop a classier establishment, could be interpreted to be ironic, just served to deepen that depressing first impression.

The events took a turn from depressing to surreal once I entered the hotel. As I walked in to the dingy reception hall, my senses assailed with a gut-wrenching 70’s color scheme, I was acosted by a seemingly senile hunchback. The man was old, by the looks of him he could be in anything from his early 60s to late 70s, and mumbling constantly under his breath, occasionally craning his head to shoot me dirty look from under his greasy white hair. It apparently displeased him that I so brazenly invaded his favorite haunt. I stood and stared, bags in hand and mouth most probably open, abashed, sense of speech and propriety taking leave of me, until the receptionist, utterly ignoring the malevolent hunchback, cleared his throat and tapped his glasses against the counter to snap me out of my confusion.

I got a room on the fourth floor, with a suitably depressing view over the parking lot, a 21″ CRT television bolted to the wall, and a shower that smelled overpoweringly of sewage. The TV didn’t understand the concept of the colour white, preferring yellow instead, and buzzed annoyingly when switched on, compensating for that by ticking soothingly when switched off. At least they had free wifi and plenty of electric sockets.

The following day I met my liason at the factory I was supposed to photograph the staff at, and, as he inquired as to how I liked the hotel, related my experience to him over a cup of coffee. He smirked, shook his head, and said: “Well yeah, I shouldn’t think that they have refurbished, or indeed repaired, the hotel since 1989.” “Why 1989?” I asked. “Ah, well, see, that’s when the young couple that owned the hotel were brutally murdered there.”

Yes, that’s right. On the 7th of March, 1989, at 3:30am, the young owners of Hotel Palomestari, Tiina, 22, and Juha, 30 years of age, having only a year and a half ago opened their new hotel to great fanfare and much attention from the local press, were brutally murdered at the hotel, where they lived and worked. Their murderer’s name was Jesse, and he knew the couple well, and was rumored to be insanely jealous of Juha, reputedly having had an affair with Tiina, her then leaving him and marrying Juha instead. There were also dark rumors of debts unpaid and a contract killing, but those were never substantiated by the police. At any rate, the murderer demanded to be let in “for a talk”, and the exasperated husband unwittingly obliged, perhaps thinking of putting an end to the ongoing harassment. But the day before, Jesse had gone and obtained a shotgun from somewhere, sawing the barrels off, clearly premeditating the bloody deeds to come. And, after arguing with the couple for less than half an hour, proceeded to splatter their brains all over the walls of their new hotel. He then calmly called the cops and surrendered without offering resistance.

Oh, and the best thing is that I am returning to that hotel on Halloween come next week.

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