Oulu, I still have no idea how to pronounce it, is an interesting place. A colleague at work who had spent some time in Finland would keep correcting me.
“Oulu?” “Oulu” “Oulu?” “Oulu”
The easiest way to get around Finland in winter is to fly. Unlike more southern airports, Finnish airports don’t close if there is snow, like everything else the infrastructure is built to handle it. I had a short flight from Helsinki to Oulu, and probably spent more time in the taxi and waiting at the gate that I did actually in the air.
It covers a very diverse area, and the people from different areas are very diverse. Even beyond Hong Kong and Taiwan the concept a single unified China is something I struggled to get my head around. Our guides would often reference dynasties from hundreds of years ago and say “they unified all of China.”
We flew with Qantas into Beijing from Sydney. Technically we started in Melbourne, but the international leg departed from Sydney. We had tried to get Qantas to let me join the flight in Sydney, instead of flying down to Melbourne, and then back up to Sydney again. But they said no, at least not without paying $1500 to change my ticket.
I studied Chinese in high school, all the way to year 12, though I barely remember any now. I’ve eaten with chopsticks since I was a kid. I just remember chopsticks being in the cutlery drawer with everything else, like the little cake forks you use to eat cake. They’ve always just been there.
I’ve been to Hong Kong a few times, either as a 3 or 4 day stop over going to or from somewhere else, or for around a week with the school band, I played the bass clarinet. But I had never made it to mainland China.
Dad had been interested in going for years. Dad convinced mum to go by organising the trip through an agent with dedicated guides and drivers each day to take us around.