Sunday, 25 March 2007

Counting Down The Final Days in the UK...

Counting Down The Final Days in the UK...

The last weekend in the UK...

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Helsinki's Historical Centre

After a long hiatus from the post about my visit to Finland, this is the continuation of it-Helsinki.

History




Helsinki was founded by King Gustav Vasa of Sweden in 1550 on the mouth of the Vantaa River. In the mid-1600s the centre was moved to its current location on the southern peninsula, where the deeper waters allowed Helsinki to compete better for Baltic Sea trade.

Capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland

In 1748 Sweden built the massive Suomenlinna Maritime Fortress off the coast of Helsinki to counter the growing threat from Russia. Finland eventually became part of Russia in 1809, after which the status of Helsinki was raised to capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1812. A monumental city plan was drawn up to reflect the power of Russia and the Tsar.

Helsinki rapidly grew to become a modern European city in the late 1800s. By the early 20th century, the population of Helsinki exceeded 100,000, helped by its university and growing industry.

Centre of culture and administration

In 1917 Helsinki became capital of the independent Republic of Finland.

As the 20th century progressed, Helsinki earned its place among the world's metropolises. The Summer Olympics in 1952, the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe in 1975, and Finland's membership in the European Union as of 1995 are landmarks on the road to internationalisation.

Helsinki was one of the nine European Cities of Culture in the year 2000. Today, Helsinki is an archetypal 21st century city, enjoying the comforts of an ultramodern infrastructure and the reassurance of its unspoilt nature.

Some of the tourist attraction place in Helsinki:

The Havis Armada Fountain


Senate Square

Uspenski Orthodox Cathedral




The Presidential Palace


The Old Market Hall



The Helsinki Cathedral



Some videos to feast at:





Sunday, 21 January 2007

Cooking Ikan Asam Pedas Is Easy As ABC

Continuing from my last food blog-post, the nasi lemak, here's another instant but sumptuos Malaysian meal while you are far away from home- Ikan Asam Pedas or Spicy Tamarind Fish and Vegetables.

1. Get ready all the ingredients you need- decent amount of fish (chunky type if possible), tomatoes, lady's fingers, aubergine (brinjal), carrots....



...and a packet of Kuah Asam Pedas, courtesy of our premier's brother fast and easy pre-packed sauces.



2. Dump all the vegetables into boiling water and let them to boil.




3. Cut the fish into smaller pieces.




4. Dump the fish and let it boil together with the vegetables.




5. Serve hot with rice. Enjoy!


Saturday, 6 January 2007

VMY 2007: Cooking The Great Ol' Nasi Lemak When You're Far Away From Home

I believe that food is part of travelling also, so let me bring to you here a food post on cooking the great ol' nasi lemak (coconut rice) when you are far away from home. I believe that this has been posted before in the main blog, The Sensintrovert, but this is a more detailed and authentic version. So, here it is!

Nasi Lemak The Sensintravelert.

1. First, get ready the ingredients. You need to have some prawns, some dried anchovies, peanuts, cucumber, coconut milk, eggs and a packet of instant sambal sauce.



2. Bring the eggs to boil in order to get hard-boiled eggs.




3. Mix the coconut milk with washed rice and let it to cook.



4. Fry the peanuts until they are crispy but not too black though.



5. Fry the anchovies also...




6. Cut the cucumber...




7. When the eggs are done, remove the shell and cut into pieces.




8. Fry in the prawns and add in the packet of sambal sauce.




9. Put all individual components separately so that you could take the amount you like.





10. A pretty emsemble for a nasi lemak dish.



YUM!



Try it today! Enjoy!

Thursday, 4 January 2007

Trip To Turku, Finland

Went to Turku on the 28th/29th December 2006 after Tampere, and managed to visit another fellow blogger, Kean Jin. I have blogged about the meeting here.

First things first, here's some info about Turku, from Wikipedia:

Turku (IPA: [ˈturku], Swedish: Åbo (help·info)), founded in the 13th century, is the oldest and fifth largest city in Finland, with a population of 174,868 (as of 2005). Located (60.4515° N 22.2669° E) at the mouth of the Aurajoki in the southwest of the country, it is the capital city of both the region of Finland Proper and the province of Western Finland, as well as being the centre of the country's third largest urban area, with around 270,000 inhabitants. Turku has one of the largest Finland-Swedish populations in the country. The Finnish word for the inhabitants of Turku is turkulaiset (singular: turkulainen). Due to its location, the Port of Turku is one of the busiest seaports in Finland.

Turku has a cultural identity as Finland's historical centre, as it was the largest city in the country. It was also the capital from 1809 to 1812 when Helsinki was made the capital. It will the European City of Culture for Year 2011.

The guidebook published by the Turku TouRing (the website of the tourist organisation Turku) generally has a very good guide for sightseeing on foot; the promenade along River Aurojoki starting from the Cathedral and ends at the Turku Castle. So I will just C&P from the guidebook here.

The walking tour starts from the Cathedral...



Head across Uudenmaankaty to the Old Great Square, where people gather to hear the Christmas Peace declaration.



Above the hill, stands the handsome Vartiovuorenmaki Observatory...



Proceeding towards the river and at the first corner, you will find a wall plaque that depicts the year 1800, which brings us to the Aboa Vetus and Ars Nova museums.



And here's a video:



As you go on, you will reach the Aurasilta Bridge and nearby, you can see the statue of Paavo Nurmi, Turku's legendary athlete.



Now, if you cross to the other side of the river, as you walk along the bridge, you'll see the handsome Turku Art Museum further up the hill.



The route continues along Lantinen Rantakatu. You first arrive at the Pharmacy Museum, which operates in the Quensel House dating back to the year 1700.



At Rantakatu 17 is a handsome granite edifice, which today houses facilities of the city.



You will certainly notice on the opposite side of the riveer, a cutting in the rock covered by a giant spider web, Outi Sarjakoski's "Network".



For more art, enter through the gate of Turku Student's Theatre.



Soon after this you arrive at Teatterisilta Bridge. Overlooking the river, on the opposite side is the Turku City Theatre, and behind it, a goverment office building.



Up on the hill is a windmill,



which forms a spectacular backdrop for the adjoining Samppalinnan Summer Theatre:



Astern m/s Esposito is the pride of Turku-the river ferry Föri, which carried pedestrians and cyclists across the river-for free!



Downriver from the Fori lies the Turku Guest Marina. The huge whale's tail rising from the river is Achim Kuhn's sculpture "Harmony".



Next, you arrive at Varvintori Square. Along the square, in the refurbished rope factory, are facilities of Turku Conservatory and Arts Academy.



The only remaining wooden three-masted barque in the world, the Sigyn, is moored in front of the square.



Now you're approaching the harbour. You see containers, cranes and often also big ships along the opposite bank. Soon you catch a glimpse of your destination, Turku Castle. Before you arrive the Turku Castle, there are a few sights worth visiting: the old sailing ship Suomen Joutsen...



...the minelayer Keihassalmi...



...and the Forum Marimum maritime centre...



And here's a video of what you would expect inside Forum Marinum:



After these you are already in the grounds of Turku Castle.

Trip to Tampere, Finland

Was in Tampere over the Christmas and New Year vacations as the first city stop in Finland, which is also my swan song backpacking European country. Oh, did you know that Finland is the least corrupt nation in the world?

First things first, here's some info about Tampere:

Tampere is the third largest city in Finland and the largest inland centre in the Nordic countries. Currently there are over 200,000 inhabitants in Tampere, and almost 300,000 inhabitants in Tampere Sub-Region, which comprises Tampere and its neighbouring municipalities.

Up next: European City of Culture 2011, Turku.

Tampere’s population density is 390 per square kilometre. Tampere is one of the three most rapidly developing regions in Finland.

In 2004, the City of Tampere came first in an image survey comparing the largest cities in Finland. It was also the most attractive city among Finns who plan on moving.

And here's a map for a clearer picture:



The flights from the UK by Ryanair is dirt-cheap (they are the only budget airline flying to Finland to my knowledge), but I would never expect the airport to be like a bus station:



The aiport is so small that the queue for people checking in actually extended out to the outside of the aiport. It took around 2 hours from the queue at the main entrance, checking in at the counters (there are only 3 of them, all conquered by Ryanair), passport control and customs scanning.

Nevertheless, the lights in the city were impressive:



The Keskustori Central Square where the City Hall, the newspaper reading room of Tampere city Library in the former boiler room of the Frenckell Paper Mill and the Tampereen Theatre Hall are located.



And here's a video of the square during the day:



The banks of Tammerkoski Rapids is a good place to stroll along if the weather permits:





The Finlayson cotton mill area is also a tourist attraction area. The cotton mill started spinning in Tampere early 19th century thanks to James Finlayson, who made Finlayson Finland's first large-scale industrial company soon after his arrival from Scotland.



It is also where the first spy museum in the world, Vakoilumuseo is situated. The price of the entrance ticket is a bit steep, but still worth a go if you're a fan of espionage history. Be prepared to see outdated (which should be very advanced for their time) spying tools and gadgets there.



And if you have the time, why not pay a visit to Nokia, a town just 15km away from Tampere. Yes, Nokia is indeed a town in Finland, besides the infamous mobile phone manufacturer. And no, the origin of the name is not from the Hokkien dialect.

Nokia has been around long enough that its name is obscure even to most Finns. In modern Finnish, noki means soot and nokia would thus seem to mean "soots", although the plural is equally ungrammatical in Finnish. However, the name actually originates from the archaic Finnish word nois (pl. nokia) or nokinäätä ("soot marten"), meaning sable. After sable was hunted to extinction in Finland, the word was applied to any dark-coated fur animal, such as the marten, which are found in the area to this day. The sable is enshrined on the Nokia coat of arms.




More info about Tampere here and from Wikipedia.

Next up: European City of Culture 2011, Turku.