Balancing between love, work and life.

Time Passes By

It has been exactly two years now when my flight from Finland was. The trip that was extraordinary for me, my life in a weird, new country was about to start. Living in new culture, knowing nothing of surroundings…

It is weird to think that it really has already been two years from that. Remembering how I ate scrambled eggs before leaving for the airport. Started to feel nervous as realised that I really was about to leave country. Going to the country which language I didn’t even knew or understood.

Looking my time back can easily say that my decision to leave for exchange, leaving safe comfortable life in Finland behind me and going to somewhere new was definitely a right thing to do. What I got from my trip was not only what I hoped for but just so much more. To put simply, I felt in love with Seoul. Loved the feeling of big metropolitan city which almost always had everything I needed. Got hungry in the middle of night - there was always a grocery shop open at the next corner. Or some food sold at the street. And as being hopeless coffee addict and lover, Seoul - well it’s a place full of coffee shops. From my university to the metro station I wouldn’t lie much if I say that there was at least fifty coffee shops on the road…

It feels like I left long time ago, but then it is only two years ago. In two years I have lived in another country, in another culture. Travelled around China. Experienced the fastest commercial operating trains in the world (China, Guangzhou - Wuhan). Flighted many times more in one month that in my life before that all together. Flighted in first class.

In two years I also had to came back to Finland, for my summer job, and since then I have started my own company. Thinking of this two years time period lots has changed indeed but this all is just a beginning. I have some great plans for the future but one thing is sure: I will be back in Seoul sooner or later… But for a short or long period, that remains to be seen… =)

Shanghai (2011)

Better late than ever, they say. After a long time, I finally found enough inspiration, motivation and blogging software to make posting photos easy. So here it is, sequel to my traveling stories.

Shanghai at 2011

This was my second visit to Shanghai. My first ever visit to the city was when I visited World Expo 2010. But only couple months later I visited city again for few days as purely as tourist.

While in the city, I wasn’t visiting too many places, as for me it was more about just a stop-over on my trip to Guangzhou, and as well seeing an old friend. But was interesting to see the city starting to prepare for Spring Festival, mostly meaning people leaving the city for their parent’s homes.

One thing I have always found fascinating in China are the parks. Not just the amazing look of them as everything is usually just perfect, but the people who are spending their times there. Sure, nowadays most of them are retired elder people, but that’s something I cannot see or imagine seeing in Finland. People gathering together, flying kites, dancing, playing chess, badminton. They are always so full of life which is always interesting to follow and watch.

As always, wherever there is a park, there will be pigeons :). And it is far from uncommon to have little girls feeding pigeons.


Overall it feels little weird to write of my winter vacation trip now, over a year later. Brings back some great memories for sure though. Well, still few cities left from that trip, going to post short stories of those sooner (or later)…

Spring Festival Trip

For this year’s Spring Festival I had opportunity to spent it where it should be, in Asia - in my case it was once again in China. This was now my second time in a row being able to be in the China when it is Spring Festival. Interestingly these two times has been in some parts quite different but also quite similar. Which is exactly the same is that in both times I had chance to eat excellent Chinese food ^^. But for this year I was taking couple small day trips around the area I was staying.

Shaolin Monastery (少林寺)

Shaolin Monastery is a beautiful monastery area which is famous of being important Kung Fu centre. As to me, the monasteries are all looking little bit same, but always have so peaceful and beautiful feeling inside them. Unfortunately this was during Spring Festival and therefore basically full of other people visiting as well, so not so much of peace around there. Would love to visit the place though when there are no others.

Inside monastery there are many statues which most of them are looking tortoises and lions. I still can’t stop admiring the details that are carved in to the stone and statues.

Longmen Grottoes (龙门石窟)

Longmen Grottoes are very interesting place. It is a huge area with thousands of caves carved in to the stone. In every cave there is one or several Buddha statues. From miniature statues to huge big ones.

The photos really doesn’t give the right impression about the site. Even when you see all the Buddha statues in the photo, it is still difficult to understand that the place really is full of them. Anywhere you look, nothing but statues. You can’t help to stop thinking how long it has took to carve all those statues over all the years.

Photoyear From Past

Long time ago I got great idea of taking one photo every day. It has been a long time already but lately remembered it again and while started to think redoing it again, I realised that currently I have lost my earlier project somewhere. Switching blogs, website hosting and what more has made it disappearing to the big black hole of unknown.

But great news, as I dug deep and found all the photos I used to have there. And the project is back, better than ever. So to see all great photos, please visit photoyear.mikian.com.

Noodles

This is one of the videos that has been waiting for uploading. Taken in January in China, one nice hot pot restaurant has interesting way of making noodles.

New Look

In the spring I got tired of Wordpress and how tools were getting in my way to write new content for this blog. Well - more like they were giving me excuses. I wrote back then of my experiences and thought to switch over Octopress.

Well, things looked great back then but as it turned out, it wasn’t. While Octopress was better platform for blogging, it had many great ideas and new way of thinking (partially thanks to jekyll behind it), in the end - as I soon noticed - it was just bringing more complexity for my blogging workflow. Wanted to insert photo? Well, convert photos by hand to correct sizes and insert them to post. Want to use fancy lightbox scripts? Add writing proper HTML code by hand (sure, I could always wrote custom plugin for that etc. etc.). It just was so close to something ideal for me but still far from anything nice. And not to mention just amazingly compex theming system - luckily default theme was very nice so didn’t had need to start changing it.

And all this lead to the point where I noticed that I wasn’t actually writing any new content. At all. And while my brother Miikka started to talk about ideal blogging platform, sooner than you can say Yay, I noticed I was writing my own blogging software. Something that would take all the stupid routine things away from me and let computers do what they are the best - fixing my problems.

And so Alula was born. For real this time. This has been a long project (it actually started as Rails project in 2011 summer), but I am very glad that finally I have something ready and that actually works. My blog is second blog switching over Alula and let’s see if this manages to gather any more users…

And for my (few) readers, now that I have finally a great blogging software that does exactly what it needs to do, I just lost all my excuses not to write. And as this is my showcase for what Alula can do, well, expect lots of great photos and videos coming soon :-)

New Appearance

Lately I have been very lazy to update my blog at all. Partially cause nothing too interesting has happened, partially cause I have not been too happy with Wordpress. Not that it has anything big problems, it just starts to feel little bit old for me. In the past year I have learned Rails programming and have been starting couple own projects using Rails and with that knowledge I have started to enjoy simplicity. To create a new blog post has meaning starting up browser, logging in to Wordpress, creating a new post, actually write it, save it, check that everything looks good and so on. Uploading photos, attaching them to post. Just having feeling that just too many other steps that has nothing to do with actual writing process.

And of course, with Wordpress you have huge problem of web stack, setting up MySQL, PHP, tuning parameters to work properly and if you would like to benefit of CDN, you’re pretty much out of luck with Wordpress without lots of 3rd party plugins.

What I came up is that I have get rid of all the complexity of the blog and migrated my blog to what it actually is, static HTML pages. Everything here is now just plain old good HTML files that can be served anywhere at all, with any CDN without any problems. But to keep blogging easy, what I do is that I manage my blog locally on my laptop using Octopress and then just generate my site and upload it to the live server. Simple. Easy. Fast.

Currently this is using quite basic Octopress classic theme but let’s see if I have enough time at some point to modify this to look more like me.

Year Ago

Year ago I was waking up on the plane, on my way to Seoul. One of my best years, life changing someone could even say, started exactly year ago. And it feels weird as somehow it feels like it was so long time ago, and still time has passed so fast.

During this summer I have noticed that I have been comparing my home city to Seoul and life back there and here. One thing I miss every day is all those lovely coffee shops, It is weird that in Finland we drink lots and lots of coffee but still we miss completely proper coffee culture.

Another funny thing I kinda miss is street view. There is just something magical when you cannot see anything else expect beautiful girls who all looks like models in the streets. The people in Finland definitely looks different. Although have to admit that I am more than happy that after coming back haven’t seen anyone doing her makeup in the next table in the coffee shop, or in the lecture class, or doing manicure at the next table either.

Thinking of that I have been staying in three different cities, living in two cities. I liked Amman when I stayed there for a month, but something in the culture was not for me just. But for Seoul, even I like living in Finland and definitely like Finnish nature, I think I still felt in love with Seoul and will miss that cute little city from time to time. Well, I will return, one day, that’s for sure.

Flying

Finally I’m here, at incheon airport nearby my gate just sitting and waiting for boarding for my flight to start. I will have eleven hours in ahead simple fun in the plane. Have been missing long-haul flights, although so far I only had one before. But that was enough, I simply just felt in love with flying. Guessing it has to be in the family…

Last couple days has been busy and sad. Have been meeting with few friends in last days and it is always just hard to say goodbye to them. Even when I know that I am going to see them again later, but it’s just sad to leave them behind knowing that it is not going to be same to communicate with them online. I am going to miss sitting in Starbucks chatting, or smaller and nicer cafe drawing with iPad.

But it is also nice to just sit and relax in the airport, knowing that I have nothing to worry about anymore, specially as my packaging went late as always. I ended up putting last thing to my backpack just before I left and posting huge package of winter clothes in the morning. But it’s was so nice to get rid of them for now as otherwise, I would have been in big problems at airport to check-in my luggage…

Well it is going to be around 16hrs before I am back in Finland and couple hours more before I’m at home. This has been great year and full of experiences and I will post my experiences later. As well as missing posting from my winter vacation. I haven’t forgotten you my few readers, just been busy and lazy :)

Leaving...

Opening my closet and starting to categorize my clothes and other stuff for the part that I can send back home b mail and which I want to put in my luggage makes me really realize that I am leaving soon. Too soon. It is weird that somehow leaving is just something abstract, something distant thing for me until I start packing. Same thing happened when I prepared my trip to here, I knew when I am going to fly, I had all ready, flight ticket bought, insurance, everything expect packing. And while I was enjoying my last week at work, even then I didn’t thought so much that I’m really leaving. I started to get feeling of that when on last Friday, last thing I did was returning my office keys. And then went to home and started first time to think about packing.

And same thing happened again. I knew couple months ago when I am going back to home. I knew it exactly after I changed my ticket’s date to last day of May. Still it was some distant thing until I really opened my closet and started packing. It feels weird after nine months to leave. Somehow I got used to live here, being one of the Seoul members, one of the foreign citizen’s around here. This city has been so friendly for me, starting from the immigration (which managed to get me in to the country faster than Finland), to the nearby Family Mart whose seller greets me happily every time I go there to buy night snack, to the Starbucks seller who always greets me happily when she sees me sitting there.

And today I had dinner with my buddy, who I saw last time for some period. I have always hated good byes, specially these kind that I don’t know when we are going to see again. We are sure that we will see each other again, but when and where… It was much easier to leave Finland, leaving friends and family behind as I knew that most of them are probably still around there when I get back. Some of them has switched city and some of them has escaped Finland back to their home countries, but most of them are still around there, waiting for me. But the people I have to say good byes here, they are going to stay here and I am leaving. And although I hope that I can meet them all again, I don’t know it for sure.

Last time I was in the same situation, leaving new friend behind and going back to home was in 2009 summer when I left Jordan after one month. I hated good byes already then, but spending only one month there make it easier, I didn’t get used to live there, being around. I didn’t liked leaving so much as everything was still fun and new for me, one month somewhere was just too short time. But nine months here, calling this city as home, feeling this place as home for nine months, it is all different. When I returned from my winter vacation, I was happy to land to Incheon, hearing familiar language and subway signals. I felt like I was returning to home, which I was doing. But now it is time for me to stop thinking this place as home and returning back to real home. And it feels just weird, and little scary. I feel that I am too used to see all the people around, all the noise on the street. Being happy as I don’t understand all the stupid conversations that people behind me on the bus are talking. And even that all the noise on the street drives me crazy sometimes, I know that I am going to miss it, I am definitely going to miss crazy and living city which has life even at night.