Saturday, September 30, 2006



That's all I can say. Finland is so cool.

For one thing, it is absolutely stunning in the fall. The birch trees are just changing colors - splashes of bright yellow and red against a backdrop of dark green pines. I'm staying in Hyvinkaa, which is not far from Helsinki. Everywhere I look are trees and rolling hills. It doesn't take me long to remember why I loved Finland so much when I lived here. All of a sudden, nine days does not seem like enough to see everything I want to see. Or to enough to do all the shopping I want to do!

We hit the American Embassy party last night. (My dear friend Sirpa works at the British Embassy and was able to snag an invite.) The grounds are situated so that they look right out over the harbor. It was fantastic. Special shout out to Sam, our marine friend who may not remember us once he is sober, but who provided a bright spot in the evening with his lively conversation. :)

There's a new national anthem here in Finland - "Hard Rock Halleluja" from the metal rock group Lordi who, despite all odds, took top honors in the Eurovision music festival last May. This was the first time Finland brought home the honor so Lordi have become heroes here in their homeland. Finns used to say that hell would freeze before Finland wins Eurovision, so it was appropriate that Lordi, a band who dresses in monster costumes to perform, won (amid protests from some that they were devil worshipers.)

I won't get to see them perform, but I will get to go see Roni Tran Binh Trong tonight. He is a Vietnamese musician who has lived in Finland all his life and who finaled in Finland's Idols contest. How cool is that?

And speaking of Idols, you would not believe the latest idol innovation in Finland - Mobile Karaoke (a common man's idol, they call it.) Funny to think of a karaoke venue that originated not in Japan but right here in Finland. Here's how it works - you dial a certain number to join the mobile karaoke. You sing into your phone. People listen to you and vote. I read a report that this mobile idol contest generated even more call activity than the real Finland Idols contest on television. Whoda thought.

Hokay, so that's it for now. I have to go eat some karjalan piirakka and kerma juusto. More later!