Out of all flying routes from HKG to Manchester, where the nearest “international” airport from Sheffield sits, destiny (so cheesy…) made me chose to fly with Finnair despite a bunch of other Asian or international airlines offering the same service. And I have to say this was not a bad decision at all if you are flying for long hours. Before I get on the plane, I posted this shameless photo:
I made people think I was actually going to Helsinki for holidays or something. In fact, here was my route getting to my exchange university: HKG -> Helsinki -> Manchester -> Sheffield. Therefore technically, I was just stopping over at Helsinki (airport) for 2 hours. I was judging that the stopover was going to be boring. I was WRONG.
It all has to start with the flight itself. Before I fly, I did a bit of research on Finnish culture and language. Despite that Finnish people don’t talk to strangers, I anyway learnt to say “thank you” in Finnish because I wanted to impress whoever is serving on the plane. Even though it turned out the tall, handsome and married Finnish man sitting next to me said not a word about constantly hitting my elbow and feet (his limbs were so long compared to Asians), the Finnish air hostesses were still (acting like they were) impressed by my excellent usage of “Kiitos”. I did it a few times. The first time they did not catch what I say because obviously that was not something you would expect. The second time they were shocked. And the third time they were impressed. (Well at least they looked like they were impressed. Funny.) On the other hand, the Hong Kong Chinese air hostess was very caring, knowing that I am the only Asian young female on the plane flying to Helsinki for another flight…
Other than that, the flight meals were better than I expected. Hong Kong people just know how to complain about the taste of flight meals as if this is a good way to show off (and still be unhappy with) their luxury flight experience. Anyways, I had a “dinner” at GMT+8 2am and a breakfast at GMT+2 4am. I didn’t like the dinner because I already had one at home the night I was flying. But the breakfast was “refreshing” especially after when you pretended you were absolutely fine with keeping all you limbs within that tiny seat for 11 hours. I suppose this was a good start of my day:
Ok now this is really about the stopover. I was amazed by the Finnish artwork exhibitions. I also find the “Finnish toilet experience” rather “eye-opening”. First of all it is absolutely a good thing for the government and the authorities to be aware and proud of their own artists, and decide to put up exhibitions in an international airport. Obviously this is not what the HK government will do. We have all sorts of shops where you can buy anything you could think of, from cheap fast food to really luxurious fashion items (I never get it why people will buy LV handbags from an airport though). I mean the Helsinki airport has the shops too, but they somehow find space to show you what Finland and her culture is really like. I am at my young, “sponge” learning age, so I am quite sensitive to any opportunities where I can get knowledge from.
It also made me sad when everything in Finnish toilets just makes so much more sense than those in my HKG. I know you will be laughing but toilets/washrooms/bathrooms are so important in my life I will probably be spending 2 years in them in my entire life. So it is worth the investment to design, clean and improve it. Really. You will be so grateful to see doors of toilet cubicles pulled but not pushed when you have two 40L baggage and no one to look after them for you when you are away so you don’t have to struggle entering the cubicle with your luggage with you. This is quite personal but if you need a bidet or something, you can always find the substitute – a mini shower head next to the washing basin in the cubicle, to clean whatever needs to be cleaned. And you don’t know how environmentally conscious Finland is only after you have seen and used their hand towel machine which basically just don’t waste any piece of paper on drying things.
So, it was a nice experience flying with Finnair and to Helsinki, even though I looked like an idiot because I find all these little everyday life things interesting. But I guess I will only reinforce this very brilliant idea of my own when I am travelling:
Do I look like a tourist and an idiot? Yes.
Does anybody know you? No.
So why should I care?
SOOOOO, Ciao! And if anyone happened to be really reading my blog, which I know not even my mum reads it, stay tuned for Part 2!
Here is another shameless photo of me “standing on the snow”:
Ok. Really, bye! 😀