Monday, 18 August 2014

Travel to Malaysia via Helsinki, Finland

I am going to apologise now for my very, very late post. I have no reasons except that mum has been hogging my laptop every time we have had internet and I have had absolutely no time to write it.  But it is all in the past now, so let us forgive, forget and read.
Day 1, Saturday 19th July 2014:

We are not even in Malaysia yet and things have been going wrong:

1.   We let mum plan the trip;

2.   Dad went for a 3 week birding trip to West Papua and left us to get sorted;

3.   I let mum pack;

4.   A Malaysian Airplane had been shot down 2 days earlier, making our friends and family a little more nervous than usual; and

5.   We were leaving in two hours to get the coach from Bristol to Heathrow, to catch the plane, and mum still needed to pack the bags.

I think I have mentioned before that Mum is always late? Today was no exception.  When my big sister, Ayesha, arrived to give us a lift to the coach station, we were nowhere near packed.  Ayesha helped Mum chuck everything into two large holdalls. 
The following was the result of us leaving 30 minutes later than we were supposed to.  We raced to Bristol being driven by a stressed Ayesha with her children in the back, but then got stuck in traffic. After an agonising 20 minutes of crawling to the bus station, we were way too late to catch the coach.  
Mum went inside and confirmed that there was another coach we could catch to Heathrow. So we waited outside for a while before giving the kids big kisses.  Then, after insisting that the weight in the two bags be redistributed, Ayesha helped us to take all the bags inside and grabbed a seat for me.  Mum then went to get our tickets, but came back 5 minutes later looking “annoyed”.  Apparently the ticket person had told her all about the coach, but had forgotten to mention that it was sold out.
Luckily Ayesha had waited to check everything was OK and so we could get her to drive us over to the train station.  Mum went to get tickets but came back a few minutes later and told us we could get a train that left in 10 minutes. The problem? The platform was on the other side of the station and we couldn’t carry our bags up and down the steps in that time. Also, we would have to carry all our bags across Reading Station.
Then after 5 minutes of debating/time wasting as to whether Ayesha could drive us with the kids in tow, we decided to get a taxi. It was now almost 4 pm and we had to get there by 6pm for our 7.30 pm flight.  The taxi driver knocked a bit off the extortionate station fixed price, if we met him outside the station   He then drove like a mad man to get us to the airport with 10 minutes to spare.  He was worth his weight in gold.  He seemed a lot more worried about us missing our flight than Mum, who was fast asleep the whole journey! 
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig relaxing CLOSE to Departure Gate
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig
As Mum booked our airline tickets really late, we had lots of flights to get to Malaysia. First Stop: Helsinki, Finland - not strictly en-route.

Day 2, Sunday 20th July 2014:

We arrived in Helsinki an hour late at 1 o’clock in the morning. The airport hotel that we booked had said they were going to send us a car.  So we waited, and waited, and waited, until we had enough and got a taxi. When we got to the hotel, we were told that the airport shuttle stopped at 1.00 am, but had not told us.  After all that, it was 2.15 am before I got to bed.

Later we got up at 3.30 am to get ready and meet our bird guide, Juha Lindsey, at 4 am. Or we tried to.  Mum was up until 3.00 am and I just refused to get up. But in the end we managed to get down there for 4.15 am. Mum and I then grabbed a quick breakfast before setting out.  It’s funny, breakfast at 4.15 am was strangely full.

We first drove to a forest close to the city and birded there for several hours. We unfortunately didn’t manage to see much because it was late July and most birds were post breeding and very quiet. We did hear a Black Woodpecker calling for some time, but unfortunately we didn’t see it (a shame as it would have been a new world bird for me). It was a bit weird walking through the forest, as it looks almost like one in the Highlands of Scotland. Also a lot of the birds were the same too, we saw plenty of blue tits, great tits and black birds.
That afternoon Juha took us to a ringing (banding) location near the coast, where we saw lots of birds, including Thrush Nightingale, Nightingale and Blyth’s Reed Warbler all within about 10 minutes of each other. That was really special, even if the birds were not new. Juha had an Icterine Warbler briefly which we didn’t see, which was another blow as it again would have been a lifer. It would be great go back at a better time of year and do some ringing of these fantastic birds.
Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig with Juha Lindsey, Helsinki, Finland
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig
We then had to leave early afternoon, to catch our plane to Thailand. Helsinki Airport was strange as they have a lot of passengers transiting through, but nothing to eat except sandwiches.  Mum finally managed to get me some chips in a sports bar, which was organised of her, as we our promised veggie food did not appear on our remaining flights.


  1. I have met your parents - in Brazil. Your Mum seemed organised then!

    1. Hi Anne and Pam, Mum and Dad said hello. They said that was a great trip in 2009. Mum was a VERY organised highflying lawyer and partner in a law firm in those days...Now that she is retired, she is VERY relaxed, which is probably better for her!

  2. What an adventure. You should know by now that drama runs in our family, that's what keeps life exciting.
    Can't wait to read the next stage of your trip.
    Lol Shabnam khala

    1. Hi Shabnam Khala, Happy Birthday for today. The Ahmed genes definitely run in mum...

  3. Mya-Rose, feel glad to read your blog. Your foot step has been inspired me a lot.
    All the best! :D

    1. Thanks so much Siaw, I'm glad you like my blog and hopefully you feel inspired to get out there and do stuff.

  4. Hi! I'm Thien from Vietnam. I was in Malaysia 2 years ago. Your sharing strongly reminds me of my traveling experiences when in Malay. Thanks greatly for that!
    Would you like to try out some wonderful places in Vietnam? Check out this Things to do in Vietnam for various useful suggestions.
    Do hope that you can visit and explore our country one day.


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