Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Santa Claus Post Office at Arctic Circle

Interesting right!
A post office at the arctic circle.
Not just a post office, a Santa Claus Post Office.

When I first heard about this, my first thought was, I must send a postcard from here. Not all the postcards lah since it is very expensive but at least to 1 (or a few) lucky friends (plus sister). Aren't you excited? I know, I know... what is the big deal right. The big deal is, it is from Arctic Circle and it comes with a special Santa Claus cum Arctic Circle stamps and postmark. Where else in the world can you get it. I am still baffled on why did I not send one to myself?!? Dang Lily!! I can be so daze at times (when I am extremely excited especially, ie like when I was there).

Santa Claus's Main Post Office.

My camera kept getting frozen and jammed up, I warmed it by putting it under my armpit or between my leg. NO! What I did was, use a heatpad/pack and wrap around it, chuck in my bag for few minutes. That should warm it a bit. 

This also shows how cold the weather is, which normally goes as low as -20c while we re in Rovaniemi. My advice for those with an old camera like mine, make sure it is protected and not expose to the cold weather often. Very very the leceh.

Santa Claus Village is a 10 minutes drive from Rovaniemi town and 10 minutes or so from the airport. What we did was we brought our luggage to Santa Claus Village and store it for a few hours while we go wondering around, the storage place which cost EU€10 per bag. It is a better option than us going back to the hotel to get our luggage then head to the airport. 

Luggage storage sign on the door.

For those who find Santa Claus Village is lack in activities or bringing kids for some family fun time, you can also proceed to Santa Claus park which is located 2km from Santa Claus Village; an indoor theme park. We chose to skip the theme park as we were pressing for time and it wasn't our priorities. Having said that, for those theme park lover, you can give it a try and share with us.


The Roosevelt Cottage or Arctic Circle Cottage (Napapiirin Maja)  

The Roosevelt Cottage or Arctic Circle Cottage History

An exhibition related to the history of tourism at the Arctic Circle. Rovaniemi and Lapland were the first recipients of aid provided by Unicef’s predecessor UNRRA in post-war Finland. The aid provided by Unicef also included the construction of the Arctic Circle Cabin and the commencement of tourist services. Known as the “soul” of UNRRA, Eleanor Roosevelt made a surprise visit to Rovaniemi in 1950. The Arctic Circle Cabin was constructed in just two weeks for the reception ceremony.


Sample of letters and postcards sent to Santa Claus.

A letter or postcard from Santa Claus Post Office will bear Santa Clause and Arctic Circle postmark. Special huh *smile*.

Curious now?
Drop by and check-it out yourself. It's cold though *wink*.

Santa Claus Main Post Office
Address : Tähtikuja 1, Arctic Circle, 96930 Rovaniemi, Finland
Email : joulupukinpaaposti@posti.fi
Phone : +35820 45 23120
URL : kampanja.posti.fi / www.posti.fi / www.santaclausvillage.info

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Bagasta - A Modern 'Kampung' Experience in Kuala Lumpur

I am a Kampung City Girl.

When I got Gaya Travel's invitation to attend their 10th year anniversary and Adam's 1 year old birthday at Bagasta, I was thrilled and curious at the same time. Bagasta? Kampung in KL? Hemmm... I just have to check-in out.

Browsing thru their website before starting my journey to Kampung Baru, "Ahhh...." I said to myself, "...that is the perfect 'kampung in the city' location", I won't deny this. Their website also indicated that they have the best view - a rooftop overlooking Petronas Twin tower. This, I need to verify. Ahaks.

Kampung (malay/local language) = village

Gaya Travel and medias.

Being one of the earliest to arrive gives me ample time to survey the surrounding at their rooftop, as you can see... it is overlooking Petronas Twin Tower and the whole Kuala Lumpur city centre!

That's it, I told myself. I am so going to do my family potluck here at the rooftop too. Located at the centre of Kampung Baru and the heart of local delicacies makes it an ideal and suitable place for get-together and obviously a few night stay as well.

Since I am sold on their location as well as the view, I told Puan Intan, the CEO of Bagasta that I would like to take a peep at the rooms and probably blog about it, being the kind and helpful person she is, she said with a smile "Boleh ajer...". I am a happy customer *smile*.

Waiting area.

Quiet spot to rest or reading. 

Superior room.

Kain pelekat and batik.

A local touch for those staying here, kain pelekat and batik (sarong) for guest to get comfortable in. I thought this was a sweet gesture especially for foreigner, able to experience a semi 'kampung' life style. According to Puan Intan, some of them are so excited and hunt for one to bring home. Promoting Malaysia to the world, a simple act from us; Malaysia's small ambassador. 

Despite being a small establishment, Bagasta ensure their guests are well taken care of, nothing fancy, just bare necessity. Enough for travelers or even backpackers.


Cozy corner. 

Gaya Travel team and media friends.

Congratulation Gaya Travel, looking forward for a great 2015 and Happy New Year!

A Modern 'Kampung' Experience in Kuala Lumpur
56, Jalan Raja Alang
Kampung Baru
56000 Kuala Lumpur

Tel : 603 2696 9988
URL : http://www.bagasta.com.my/

Monday, January 19, 2015

Estonia - Dancing in the Rain (UNESCO)

Camera easily jammed up due to cold weather (yeah, I own an old junk but trustworthy camera)
Gloomy and rainy day (Mr. Sun decided to shy away).
What mode should I use?
Nostalgic of course!

Since it is a medieval town, nostalgic mode seems like the best choice. There is so many stories on the hiccups I faced but I think I will share it in my next blog entry, this; I will share what I saw and some tips.

Of all the countries I covered during this trip, Estonia was the only one that rained, by rain I mean, water pouring down like nobodies business (kata orang hujan berkat ia idak?) and wind from all directions, yet, I absolutely love the feel. Earlier on the lady from our hostel said Tallinn old town was covered with snow just 3 days back, simply whimsical I bet. I told her that I'll pray for snow on my last night so that I can experience both special moments. That statement tickled her, weird Asian she might think of us. Ahaks.

After dumping our luggage, we roamed the old town, adding this gem into our UNESCO check-list. This post-Soviet state somehow jerked my thought for a fair bit; safety, cost of living, accessibility, the list goes on. Well guess what, the worries was thrown out the instant I saw this quaint little old town with its range of souvenir choices *eyes gleaming* and the nut seller (medieval much heh). 

We even asked her, what was the recipe and this was her answer.

"14 types of sugar, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves and yes, love." Yeah, so I got myself a pack, how can you not buy when someone cooked you with their heart poured into it *smile* (pandai sangat ambek hati tourist kan).

The Raekoja Plats or Town Hall Square is 5 minutes walk from my hostel.

#TravelTips 1 : Highly advise for travelers to book hostel or guesthouses inside the Tallinn Old Town. You can walk everywhere hence save cost.

#TravelTips 2 : Since it is called old town, please be mindful that most of the buildings doesn't come with escalator or elevator, pack as light as possible as you might need to carry your knapsack 2-3 floors up.

There is no cars in the old town, you can walk anyway you like (meniarap pun boleh asal tak nyusah orang), and everything else is exactly like the pictures I am sharing. 

#TravelTips 3 : If you feel like walking the whole old town, allocate half a day for yourself. 

#TravelTips 4 : If think you'll enjoy visiting a museum or two, or perhaps cehck out their local theater scene, then a full day will be ideal.

One thing I like about this country is that how they are able to integrate modern and old harmoniously, without loosing the feel and depth of their history. Unfortunately no wifi in the McDonald.... yikes!

As the weather changed dramatically when I was there, rain poured heavily at about 3ish or so, stubbornly insisting that it will stop, we pursued our quest to take night photos of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. In the midst or heavy rain and darkness, we walk up the street (agak kerja giler gak sebab licin, basah and sejuk).

Passing by the Raekoja Plats Christmas Market.

Moving up street, into the lonely lane.

Accidentally found Maiden Tower Museum-Cafe inside this defense wall.

Still wondering on hot wine. Hemmm...

We finally found it - Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

#TravelTips 5 : It was abit tiring at first until we found few ways to getting here. The old town is so small, that at the end of 24hrs you'll remember all the lanes and shortcuts. Felt like local.


The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is an orthodox cathedral in the Tallinn Old Town, Estonia. It was built to a design by Mikhail Preobrazhensky in a typical Russian Revival style between 1894 and 1900, during the period when the country was part of the Russian Empire. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is Tallinn's largest and grandest orthodox cupola cathedral. 

From Wikipedia

Another path that leads back to the Old Town Square.


#TravelTips 6 : If you are from either Helsinki in Finland or Stockholm in Sweden, you can easily reach Estonia via ferry or flight. My suggestion will be ferry... more fun *wink*.

#TravelTips 7 : Sweden to Estonia takes approximately 16 hours.

#TravelTips 8 : It takes 2 hours from Finland to Estonia.

That's all for now, will share on the drama I had when sourcing for accommodation in Estonia in my next entry.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Chasing sunset at Skansen Open Air Museum, Stockholm.

Sunset will never fail me.

I remembered very clearly my first trip to Stockholm a couple of years back where my dear friend Elaine hosted me and highly recommended me to visit Skasen, an open air museum, instead I went to check out Vasa Museum a viking ship museum, moi sucker for ships especially viking ship!). Hahhahahaa... and I spent 2-3 hours there, totally missing out Skasen, hence I thought I should give Skasen a chance during this trip *wink*. So, here I am. At Skasen, Stockholm.

Arriving at noon close to sunset doesn't help much. Oh yah! The sunset here is at 2-3ish during winter thus daylight is very valuable to those traveling during this time, one must manage their trips carefully and kiasu-ly.

Skansen is the world's first open-air museum, founded in 1891. Here you can stroll through five centuries of Swedish history, from north to south, with a real sense of the past all around in the histori­cal buildings and dwellings, peop­led by characters in period dress.

#TravelTips 1 : Please take note that the price fluctuates depending on month. Click HERE for 2015 admission fee and opening hours.

#TravelTips 2 : There is also a zoo and a petting zoo inside Skasen aside from demos/shows/activities, kindly allocate half a day here.

#TravelTips 3 : Use the map to plan your route or activity. Click HERE to download the map.

Above was our first showcase houses - glass making or glasswork, unfortunately they don't allow any pictures inside. There are also a souvenir shops here but mahal giler-giler ok. 'Oppet' tuh maknanya 'Open'. Comei kan? Glasbruk tuh I terbaca as gelas buruk. Hehehehehhehehhe....

#TravelTips 4 : There are a few attractions at Djurgården aside from Skasen. You can easily spend a whole day here (or probably 2 days) as well as all your money here. *Wink* Click HERE to see what attractions available in Djurgården.

#TravelTips 5 : Some of the showcase houses doesn't allow any pictures inside. So far, I bumped into one - Glasbruk/glass making or glasswork (above picture).

The Swedish have very nice wood carving motives and I noticed their flower motive are similar to us here in Malaysia. Anyway, looking at their woodcarving showcase house, I am not surprise how Ikea was built. They are a master at this.

There are a guy working quietly making a table at the corner, I was unable to take his picture due to the crowd in this house. Sigh...

Machinery house.

The whole park was covered with snow, as much as it was fun and dreamy, and beautiful, it was super cold and we shivered as we walk. The moment we found a showcase house, we will quickly run inside for some much needed heater. Asian sangat kan, hilang glams. Bluek.

The set-up was made for us for feel as if we were still living in the past, what was interesting was that they wore old traditional clothing and gave elaborate explanation if asked. So ask away... They will be happy to explain to you in great length.

I love the feel.

This house fascinates me, being an old post office in a rural village, a postman has made his home a post office and only works 2-3 days in a week (this was looooooooooooong time ago). A postman is of a higher social class (back then) but with little pay hence a postman need a second job to support his family. And also a postman only sort out letters, they don't go home to home sending all the mails. Obviously the process have evolved now.

I too learnt that a lady during those days must make her hand busy with household work, and if she has completes them, she will knit something, anything.

The post office counter.

The Christmas market area was close when we were there. Huhu...

Sun about to set.

Dalecarlian horse.

A Dalecarlian horse or Dala horse is a traditional carved, painted wooden horse statuette originating in Swedish province Dalarna. In the old days the Dala horse was mostly used as a toy for children; in modern times it has become a symbol of Dalarna, as well as Sweden in general. 

The Dalecarlian horse is said by some to be a model of Odin's horse Sleipnir, but unlike Sleipnir it does not have eight legs. Another apocryphal legend of the Dala horse is that they became the national toy in 1716. According to the legend, soldiers loyal to King Charles XII were quartered in the Dalarna region and carved the toys as gifts for their hosts.

From Wikipedia.

The great thing about Skansen is that it has a small zoo featuring winter animals, yippeee.... Some of the animals were hibernating or sleeping when we were there. Tak apa lah...

Love the sunset hue!

Domestic Reindeer.

Elk Moose.

Beautiful heh. #perasan

#TravelTips 6 : You can either take the tram, bus or walk to Djurgården. It is not that far but not that near either. My suggestion is to walk as the scenery is stunning.

#TravelTips 7 : If you are traveling to Sweden during summer, do bring a picnic basket when planning a trip here. They have nice spots for picnic *smile*. And dapat jimat duit gak *wink*.

Next museum entry will be on ABBA Museum, sure ramai tak tau ABBA nih berasal dari Sweden kan!

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