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Showing posts from 2011

A new quarterly newletter

Ao Nang, Krabi, Thailand

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Päivi’s parents came to visit us in Asia. It was their first time outside Europe, so it was easiest for them to select a package tour. We ended up spending two weeks in Ao Nang in Thailand.

Macau: More Portuguese Than Chinese

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If China is a big factory and Hong Kong a huge electronics shop, Macau is an enormous casino. The Chinese come to the city to gamble as gambling is not officially allowed on the mainland.

China today: Abundance and Megalomania

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We visited China for the first time four years ago. Although we had expected some development, we were surprised. Everything was brand new, bigger, higher, and faster, in a word megalomaniac.

How To Make Passwords Safer?

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What makes passwords insecure? The answer is simple: because they are changed too seldom. If passwords were time-dependent and changing constantly, they would become less useful for crackers. Internet abounds with instructions how to select a good password. They tell you do’s and don’ts, but they all have one weakness in common. If the password is stolen, it doesn’t matter whether the password is good or bad, because it will be available for misuse until it has been changed. If part of the password changed for example depending on the time and date, the password would become useless for crackers.

7th Wedding Anniversary

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Images From Hong Kong

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Zen And The Art of Making Money

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We listened to an audio book called Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig (1974). A friend had recommended it. We found the book rather confusing: a lot of fancy words and concepts but fundamentally nothing about nothing. Our MP3-player played the chapters accidentally in a random order making the book more challenging than it was meant to be. It attempted to discuss philosophy using Eastern concepts of Zen Buddhism like Eckhart Tolle in Power of Now (1997), also recommended by a friend, with the exception that Tolle uses mystical language of Indian gurus instead of Pirsig’s kitchen philosophy. Power of Now is pseudo-spiritual new age literature.

Behind the Great Chinese Firewall

We are currently in China and no longer able to access our blogs, Facebook, photo albums and many other Internet services. The censorship is now more advanced and strict than it used to be. We will continue blogging and reply to comments after we leave the country. Meanwhile, please send us e-mail. See you!

Impressions of the Philippines

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Visiting Ajay and Maria, Russian travelivers, draw us to the Philippines. We arrived in Clark, a former US military base, which we found nice and green but as expensive as Botswana. From there we headed to Manila where we enjoyed a typhoon for a few days before continuing to Dumaguete on the island of Negros where our friends currently live. Päivi had visited the Philippines twelve years ago and many things had changed: the country was now more American, English was widely spoken, and the cities looked less undeveloped. We didn’t have to travel muddy roads cars getting stuck and people having to push nor did we experience excessive power outages (which locals call brown-outs) daily as Päivi had feared.

Kampung Life on Borneo, Malaysia

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We spent four months in a farm in the middle of nowhere enjoying immensely peace, quiet, the lack of internet, our own compost, washing with rainwater, and the local laid-back rhythm of life. Our base was in the state of Sabah in Kampung Takuli. Although Sabah is part of Malaysia, people want to distinguish themselves from the West Malaysians (peninsular Malaysians). They are proud of their own slowly disappearing tribal cultures and history.

Fancy Brunei

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Tiny Brunei is extremely friendly for visitors. During our short trip, many people came spontaneously to talk with us, cars stopped politely for us pedestrians, and in the market we got a bunch of bananas as a welcome gift. It is easy to appreciate this wealthy, clean, and organized country. Sadly, it is just a stop-over for many tourists, including us. The capital Bandar Seri Begawan, BSB, has very little to offer. The city is easily walked around in an hour or two, and there is little to do except visit mosques or admire the old stilt houses of Kampong Ayer, the famous Water village. The country reminded us a little bit of Monaco in its wealth and quietness, although it is much less densely packed. It also bears some resemblance to Bhutan, except that Brunei is not arrogant and materialistic like Bhutan which only accepts rich tourists willing to spend a lot of money during their stay.

Built-In Failure

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Have you ever wondered why people buy so much medicines? Or why there are always more problems than solutions in every piece of software? The reason to that and many other glitches in our world is the built-in failure. Think about it. What is the function of medicine manufacturers? To make and sell as much medicines as possible. If their medicines cured customers permanently, they would soon be out of business. They need to make people sick keeping them barely alive to be able to maximise their profits. Therefore it could be customers’ best interest to avoid using medicines. Which other built-in failures do you recognize?

Impressions of Travelling by 3rd Class Train in Thailand

Monkey Temple in Prachuap Khiri Khan

Truth Today: A Red Shirt Demonstration in Bangkok

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Laos: A Vegan's and Sportslover's Paradise

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We spent a month chilling out in Vientiane, the capital of Laos. The place is fabulous if you don´t long for any activities. There is nothing special to do except enjoy the laid-back Lao lifestyle. A visit to Laos doesn’t ruin your budget. You can get nice double rooms with fan or AC and wifi starting from 70 000 kip (6 €). Eating out costs you 1-2 €. We had a rare luxury of finding three all-you-can-eat vegan buffet restaurants 20 000 kip/person (1,7 €) each. Considering how small Vientiane is, the offer was abundant. As Laos is a former French colony, there is also plenty of baguette and red wine available.

Recycling Tricks To Consume More

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Do you sort your trash? Where does it end up? Why? We were waiting for a bus in a bus station in China. While sitting in waiting room we were watching locals performing their duties. In the middle of the hall there was a trash can with two departments: one for recycling materials and the other for mixed trash. At the end of the day a cleaner came and emptied them both to the same trash bag.

True Finns And Fake Finns

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We were reading an old Bangkok Post newspaper and saw news about the recent parliamentary elections in Finland. A nationalist party called Perussuomalaiset was translated in the news as True Finns. The translation is hilarious. More accurate alternatives might have been Simple Finns, Basic Finns, or Elementary Finns (like in elementary school). The logic would follow better the party’s ideology: We don’t want foreigners to live in our refrigerator, steal our food, drink our vodka and seduce our women. Go away evil foreigners!

Malaysian Beach Paradise: Perhentian Islands

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Perhentian Islands are a paradise for swimmers and divers: water like gin and no poisonous jellyfish around. We were practically all the time in the sea swimming. We haven’t had many chances to enjoy jellyfish-free seas during the last years. Penang coast has jellyfish. In Mombasa, one jellyfish found Päivi right away when we went swimming for the first time in Diani Beach. Before that we were staying in the Mediterranean which is unfortunately also infested with the nasty swimming companions. Some days were OK to swim but many times we went to the beach just to see the warning flags.

Living in Penang, Malaysia

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We spent the last couple of months in Penang, Malaysia. The island is interesting with its Malaysian mix of people. There are the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians plus a lot of Western pensioners who are after warmer weather and cheaper living. The island is densely populated and touristy, much more than we expected. Some parts remind Spain’s Costa del Sol with ugly high risers and terrible traffic. It is a pity because the island itself is beautiful. There are only a few unspoilt places left.

Cerebral Malaria in Africa and Big Pharma

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There are many man-eaters dwelling in Africa, but the most dangerous ones are the mosquitoes. We decided to travel without preventive malaria medication and here is how we did it. The next twelve months will show how successful that was. There are many variants of malaria. The most dangerous and common species of malaria parasites is P. falciparum causing cerebral malaria. It is responsible for 80% of all infections and 90% of all deaths. Within 24 hours, it reaches the brain and can cause coma, which reduces the chances of survival significantly. A mosquito gets the malaria parasite by biting someone who has malaria and then transmits it to everyone she bites. The only effective way to not get it is stay out of Africa or avoid mosquito bites. We chose the latter option.

Santeri Is Running For The Finnish Parliament

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Santeri has accepted candidacy and runs for the Finnish parliament in the elections held on the 17th of April 2011. We are organising our haste return to Finland and preparing for the election campaign. Santeri is looking forward to working in the parliament making Finland a better country to live in. The candidacy was announced in the campaign kick-off together with the new electoral web site revealing the party he joined and his political alignment. You can help us and express you support by spreading information about the candidacy, and by donating money for the campaign.

Less Harmful Nuclear Power

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Nuclear power is said to be less harmful than coal. It does not pollute environment and release radiation into atmosphere like burning coal. If the cooling system of a nuclear power plant fails, it’s less harmful to let some steam out than risk overheating the reactor. It is less harmful to convince the public that everything is fine, because otherwise there could be a panic causing more harm than the minor radiation leak.

No Thanks To International Women’s Day

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Yesterday was International Women’s Day. The day has been celebrated since 1909. Why didn’t we participate? For us the celebration is chauvinist. There should also be International Men’s day celebrated with equal intensity. Now the women’s day exists only to promote differences between men and women, not to make them more equal. Equality does not mean creating barriers, but uniting.

La Habanera Got A Face-Lift

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Six years has passed since we published the first edition of La Habanera—a book discussing our escape from the Rat Race. It is the first book we wrote together and our first free e-book. At the time we wrote the book, we made a rough English translation hoping that someone would assist us in revising the language. In the past years several people had offered to do the job, but no one had managed to finish the job.

Happy True Friend’s Day

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Three Reasons To Travel To Africa: Volunteering, Charity & Safari

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We spent two months in Eastern and Southern Africa visiting Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia. Travelling was exciting as always, but all the countries we visited had a serious problem with the services and products—very little value for the money spent—and an attitude problem towards white people, mzungus. We were puzzled: Why so many travellers had recommended the area to us?

Travelling from South Africa to Zambia by Bus

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Zambia is best reached overland from south as roads and buses are considerably better in South Africa than in Tanzania or Malawi. The trip is easily done in two parts. The first leg from South Africa to Botswana is monopolized by Intercape Mainliner. They have daily departures arriving 9 pm to the capital of Botswana, Gaborone. If you have over 20 kg of luggage, prepare to pay a rather ridiculous fee for the overweight. From Gaborone you can take a bus to Zambian side, either in Livingstone or Lusaka.

A Dead-End Called Dar es Salaam

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Travelling to Dar is pretty straightforward but getting away is challenging unless you want to spend a lot of money on flights or ride the potholed roads on crappy buses. Our first option was to take the Tazara train from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia. For that we bought a Zambian visa from the Zambian Consulate and paid 75.000 TSH (40€) each for a single-entry, three-month visa. The Consulate had no lights nor air-con on when we applied for the stamp but the next day when we returned to pick our passports, there was electricity. Did our visas pay their due bill?

Nose-picking in Tanzania

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According to a popular travel guide, there is not much to see in Dar Es Salaam except the outlying island of Zanzibar. This means less hassle and rip-offs in the city itself, which is not necessarily bad, especially if one is coming from Kenya.We took a swing to Tanzania’s capital, Dar Es Salaam, to apply for a six-month visa to India but learned that they only grant three-month visas in the Tanzania embassy. We were kindly advised to apply the visa from Finland. That cryogenic treatment is not really tempting. Was this the famous Indian hospitality or bureaucracy?

Kenya: Surprisingly Expensive For Mzungu

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We are leaving Kenya despite our wishes to stay around a bit longer. Renting a flat didn’t work out the way we expected—instead, we got a mzungu treatment. Mzungu means a white person in Swahili and it is often derogatory. We started our trip from Nairobi and stayed there a week. The city was OK. We didn’t feel unsafe despite the city’s reputation of "nice robbery", Nairobbery. The only downside was the temperature. On daytime, it was a bit above 20°C and during the night 14-15°C. Heading to the coast was more pleasant because the temperature rose on the better side of 30°C.