It’s another Thursday in Finland so it has been a week since I shaved my chin hairs in an effort to grow a beard. Last week I wrote about Thorsday and the bearded people of Hyvinkää. I have been growing out my beard to better blend in with the Finnish Giants of the North. I had to shave my moustache to be presentable to meet a Mummi (Finnish for grandmother) but overall I feel like my beard has given me some Sisu.
Biggest tip for growing a beard: Don’t be Asian.
My beard is part of a continued effort to become more masculine. Finnish Lapland seems to be a great place to do that as the Swedish Lapland has been chopped down to produce the 2014 Ikea catalogue. The bedroom event is happening at Ikea now until September 9th so if ever there was a time to start sleeping more, now would be it.
I have been in 5 different cars over 1000km since arriving in Finland. Apparently everyone in Finland is a rally car driver and people have no problem speeding down narrow unpaved roads filled with reindeer and other wildlife. The Finns tell me as long as you don’t crash with a moose you won’t die. I witnessed a rabbit commit suicide and several attempted suicides from the reindeer that Santa Clause rejected. The Finnish health care system ranks among the best in the world, so I figured I would learn to drive a manual car while I was here.
Prognosis: I need more practice. Apparently even the best education system in the world can’t help an Asian driver. The good news is Finland is all about second chances and the giant named Antti of Rovaniemi previously of Posio, was convinced I could handle an ATV. I discovered that an ALL Terrain Vehicle is automatic. You just click a button and it will get you wherever you need to go. Trees, mud, not even the speed limit can stop you.
Apparently I have been eating reindeer since I arrived in Posio: land of the summer cottages. There is no way to know for sure just how many reindeer I have eaten as the meat was not labeled and could have been moose. Either way, I figured I was close enough to the Arctic Circle to apologize to Santa Clause for possibly ruining Christmas. I got into the passenger seat of the manual car I just drove and headed to Rovaniemi: birthplace of Santa Clause. Hohoho. I met up with the Ihana mummi of the north who was going to take me to the Arctic Circle to meet Santa.
Let me tell you a story about Santa Clause. The man is a giant. He was 2 meters tall and when he shook my hand it felt like he was hugging me. He was literally twice my size. Elves are not actually small people hoping to work at a sweatshop, they are regular sized people who work at a sweatshop and just look small next to the giant. Ho Ho Ho. Santa never said that to me. I was starting to feel my Spidersense tingling. This Santa said Genki Desu ka (Japanese for how are you doing) and ni hao (Chinese for how are you doing) and hello (English for how are you doing) and so on until he found out where I was from. It’s a trick, pretend you are deaf! His next question is have you been naughty? You can’t really answer that because if you tell the truth you won’t get presents and if you tell the other truth you would be lying. On top of all this craziness the giant man with the huge beard and the red suit wasn’t even Santa Clause. According to the gift shop in Rovaniemi there are two Santa Clauses. This giant version of Santa Clause was Father Christmas. Was he an imposter?
According to all vampire legends, except for twilight the movie, the only way to tell if something is a vampire is to get it to bite you. Not wanting to turn into the Asian Santa Clause I figured I would use the lesser known method of determining a mythical creature by taking a picture of it and seeing if it shows up. This plan failed as a picture with Father Time costs 20€ and I decided it was time to leave before one of the elves caught me stroking the reindeer.
You know what I mean.
The do not touch sign…
By the way. On the way out of Rovaniemi there is a gigantic bridge that looks like a candle. It is called jätkänkynttilä bridge, pronounced “yat-kan-cunt-tila” which roughly translates to lumberjack’s candle. It represents being a real man and I drove over it. Guess who just reached masculine maturity?