Happened 2013

Too many things, too little time...

The last evening in Pyongyang was ahead. We visited the big statue which is showing the happy reunion of two divided countries in the future... sooner or later.

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Kaesong, North Korea

Rush hour at Kaesong city...

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Demilitarized zone and the Korean border

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Close to the Kaesong city, we visited one of the world's most guarded border zone - the border line of North Korea and South Korea. This must be one of the very few country borders where you are told to take you camera with you and take as many photos as you like! Also, I was surprised because I didn't see much war material anywhere! Oh boy... if you have ever visited Russian border close to Finland - compared to it this was like walking in the Central Park of NYC! Well, I bought(!) an official Korean map from the international book shop in Pyongyang and there is no border line at all. Only one reunited Korea.
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The day of the deceased ones...

One of the strangest things I experienced in North Korea was to see how seriously locals worship their leaders, especially the deceased ones.

Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is the mausoleum of two previous leaders - Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. You can't take in anything else but clothes you are wearing (the best you have, black suit and tie or similar...) and money (?). Cameras, bags, pens, drugs, papers.... not allowed! The place is impressive. At first you travel through tunnels hundreds of meters standing on moving walks while listening to music in silence. When we finally arrived to the first room, we saw embalmed Kim Il-sung sleeping his eternal sleep in a crystal sarcophagus. We bowed the sarcophagus from three different directions and went to the next rooms where was a never ending exhibition of medals and other gifts Kim Il-sung received during his lifetime. There were also two or three from Finland! One was the 65th anniversary medal of Finnish independence, the other one was some strange thing from a small place called Orimattila - no idea why it was there or what it was. Kim Jong-il's room is similar. Same protocol and watching his awards... Then we saw both leaders cars (MB S-series), train wagons and a luxury yacht.

Kumsusan Palace

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This huge war museum tells the stories what really happened during the Korean war. Of course, there are different stories too. Here we had a chance to leave a bunch of flowers and kinda correct our error we did the day before when we didn't buy flowers! There is a nice collection of captured or destroyed war machines of the imperialist forces - and lots of stories of local heroes! Also, the captured spy ship Pueblo (1968) is there etc. etc...

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Pyongyang, day 3 in DPRK

The third day was scheduled as a city tour day. Pyongyang is the capital city of DPRK. There should be about 2.5 million people in this city. Difficult to imagine because the streets are mostly empty - there are not many cars. People are walking or riding a bicycle. Some trams and trolleybuses... not so many.

At first we visited the great library. It's situated next to Kim Il Sung Square and of course a huge statue of the great leader welcomed us and we bowed again...

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Arirang Show

Arirang, the mass gymnastic and artistic performance in Pyongyang North Korea 14.9.2013.

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DPRK, day 2

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Lucy Liu and the lad, our beloved guides tried to give us useful hints how to behave in this interesting country. We had heard something about having proper clothes when visiting certain places and rules of taking photos were also updated. So, we were not supposed to take photos from the bus, not taking photos of people without asking and some special places (as usual) but till the end we were usually asked to take our cameras with us and shoot photos! I could have taken some nice landscape photos in the countryside because it was really beautiful there. Rice fields, corn fields, people working in the fields, mountains... nothing to be ashamed of!

So, we were going to visit places with our guides and the bus driver. We would not go anywhere on our own. The schedule was so full of program all days that there was really no need to go anywhere after we arrived to the hotel. It was so late that it was already dark and I didn't see any places where I wanted to go alone late in the evening in the darkness. Jet lag (6 hours difference) also took some efforts.
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Going to DPRK...

The adventure to Pyongyang started from Beijing. Brave and skilled North Korean pilots flew Soviet Union made Iljushin airliner to the Beijing International Airport. We - four Finns - and some Chinese and DPRK citizens boarded into the plane. It would take only about one hour to reach our destination.

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Night of the arts, Helsinki 2013

Playing with the new GoPro Hero3 video camera...

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At Seitseminen again

One spring day in Seitseminen National Park... my friend was playing with his new video camera and digital voice recorder.

Night photo session

During the Easter weekend, I visited the island cottage again. I was prepared to stay there overnight or even longer if I could get the cottage warm enough. I walked to the island on ice using snow shoes and pulling a sled behind me (forgot huskies at home!). It took maybe 1.5 hours and it was quite tough job. Nothing was changed since my previous visit. Still a lot of snow everywhere! Inside the cottage was -3°C at first but the stove heated the cabin soon. A nice surprise was, that the smoke went out through the chimney this time!

At some point of the night I decided to go out and check if there were northern lights. The forecast was quite good!

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Birdwatching in Africa

Some bird pics from the Kilimanjaro climb and safari tours in Tanzania and Kenia. I'm going to add the names of species later so that anybody who is interested in can feel the joy of naming the birds themselves!

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Alegria!

I saw Cirque du Soleil's Alegria on Friday! It was AMAZING! This was my third Cirque du Soleil show! I got a last minute cancelled ticket one day before. It happened to be the first row seat! I was so close, saw everything, heard everything...