Friday, November 14, 2008

Culture Splish Splash

After writing my post on Bandung, Singapore, and Sodankylä, one of the comments reminded me of something else that I've experienced on my trip to Indo and Singapore last October.

First of all, let me tell you our flight schedule:

Rovaniemi - Helsinki - Hong Kong - Jakarta

Jakarta - Singapore - Jakarta

Jakarta - Bangkok - Helsinki - Rovaniemi

Well, on the first leg of journey, once we landed in Hong Kong, we only had about 1,5 hours there, so we didn't have much time to browse around the stores. The minute we arrived at the airport, it felt surreal to see SO MANY Asians and especially to hear Indonesian language being spoken by many passengers boarding to Jakarta. Why? Because I was so used to hearing Finnish all the time during the 1,5 years of my life in Lapland. Arttu kept on joking, "Look, YOUR people!" LOL LOL LOL!!!

Oh yeah, I also felt the pace of the life changing so drastically when we arrived in Hong Kong. As usual, we had to go through baggage check before we could find the boarding gate to board the plane to Jakarta. There were two baggage check points, but the aisle to queue was so narrow. I stood behind R2 and I noticed that on the other baggage check point there were two people in line already. However, the woman right behind me just couldn't wait to go there, so she said "excuse me" and bumped me a little bit to queue there.

I think I must've been so used to the Finnish mentality (or Lappish mentality?) 'coz right then and there I thought to myself, "Hello? It's not like somebody else is going to STEAL that spot, you know? Especially since the aisle is so narrow. If I were in Finland, those people queuing behind me wouldn't have done such a thing. They would've waited patiently."

Funny thing was that I think if I hadn't lived in Finland, I would've thought that it was a normal thing to do. Why? Because in Indonesia, for example, if you want to go to the toilet in one of the malls, you don't really queue according to who comes first. You just stand in front of one toilet booth and if you're lucky, you'll get in quickly. If not (maybe if the person inside the toilet in front of you is busy making "bananas"), then somebody else who comes later might be able to get in the toilet right in front of her more quickly than you do. And sometimes some people might try to steal your toilet booth, even though they come later than you do!

In Finland, NOTHING like that ever happens! If there are so many people who want to go to the toilet, you'll find a very neat line of people, so whichever toilet booth door is open first, the first person on the queue will go there. So you don't have to "fight for your toilet booth" like in Indo.

Another thing that I had to remind myself and R2 before we landed in Jakarta was TO BE ALERT. We were so used to walking around feeling safe in Lapland and we CAN'T do it in Jakarta or Bandung. We really have to remind ourselves that there are pickpockets out there and some of them are SOOOOO good at what they do that you won't even feel it.

When R2 and I were in Singapore, I found that plenty Chinese there talked to me in Chinese. And I always replied in English, whether or not they would respond in English ha ha ha ha ha...

And on our way back to Finland, when we board the flight to Helsinki, the Thai flight attendant spoke to me in THAI!!! I think she offered me Thai newspaper to read during the flight. I was flabbergasted and speechless for a while until I could finally spoke to her in English, "I don't understand."

This experience reminds me of when I was doing the training at the local tourist info office. It was sometimes DIFFICULT to find out whether or not the tourists were Finnish or not. Sometimes I made the mistake of speaking to them in the wrong language (either Finnish or English).

Funny thing was that my brain was still in "Indonesian language mode" when we were stranded for 10 hours in Bangkok airport. There were a few times when I ALMOST blurted out something in Indonesian. The thing is that Thai people resemble Indonesian people in appearance. PLUS remember that we were still SO sleepy back then, so my brain wasn't working properly.

When we were on board the plane to Helsinki, I was again transported to "Finnish land" as most of the passengers were definitely Finnish. The first and second time I flew to Finland, I didn't experience this kind of thing, since I was still in "Indonesian language and culture mode" all the time, I guess. But it's changed ever since I've lived in Lapland.

Okay, I think that's all about culture splish splash for now. It's been VERY interesting indeed he he he he he...


  1. After years living in finland, i think you will think according finnish culture than indonesian... I realize it too after years lived in netherlands. Sometimes if i chat to my friends in indo, we have some different opinions because we think differently hehehe....

  2. You have such a colourful life... My elder sis did think Italian sometimes.

  3. I like that - culture splish splash.

    My culture is purely English. I'm quite ignorant like that I'm afraid to say.

    Happy weekend from England!

  4. Jeanne: You're RIGHT!!! ;-D It's hard to explain the shift to people who haven't experienced it...

    CMG: Ahhhh...interesting to know! I guess living in a place for a long time does that to your brain he he he...

    The World According to Me: LOL!!! The words just came to my mind when I was typing the title hi hi hi...glad you liked it! ;-D

    Nah, you're not ignoranttttt. You're a very interesting gorgeous girl! ;-D

    THANKSSSSS for the well-wishes!!! I'd LOVE to make another snowman tomorrow HUE HE HE HE HE...

  5. Amel
    I found so many similarities between your experiences and mine with going to Scotland and then rturning to South Africa (with me from my first holiday there and then returning). It feels weird, doesn't it?

    The weirdest language things for me is that in South Africa I mostly spoke English. Although I learnt Afrikaans (a colonial mix of lower Belgian type Dutch) at school I never spoke it - (just used it to watch Afrikaans TV! :-D

    But for some reason here in Scotland I find Afrikaans words pop into my head and in the first year here I often found myself speaking Afrikaans, which confused people terribly. It has eased offnow, but my dad arrived here and the first year or two... he kept saying things in Afrikaans! We have no idea why! Very funny/weird.

    What was really funny was when Sandy was in Africa we were in a shop and got talking to three local builders. Sandy wanted to ask them about the floor tiles they were laying in the shop, but two of the men spoke only Afrikaans and although the third spoke English he couldn't understand Sandy's Scottish accent version of English... so they all used me as a translator! I was stuck in the middle trying to describe building and flooring terms in two languages to four people, pls the two Afrikaans men started arguing over the best type of tile adhesive. It was insane and so funny!

    Oh, one other funny stoy. Not really funny and shows you how foeign tourists can get into trouble. We were on honeymoon at buying some food at a supermarket. As we were going to leave the parking area a car came up too fast and hit us from behind. Not too bad, thank goodness, as it was my parents' car we had borrowed, but enough to make a small dent in us and break the light of the man behind us. We all got out our cars and the man tried speaking Afrikaans and Sandy told him he didn't understand. Before I could say I understood a
    policeman, who was also there shopping, came over. He asked what had happened and the man who hit us said, in Afrikaans, that it was all the tourist's fault (Sandy) who had hit him!! I quickly added that wasn't true, in Afrikaans. The man's face went all shocked and then he quickly started retelling the story properly. If I hadn't been there what would have happened? :-(

  6. The cultural differences between Indo and Finland are very interesting, amazing how population density has such an effect on people's behaviors!

  7. Amazing! I think I take my life for granted. Some of this stuff is just wild and eye openning.


  8. Haha, I think being in so many places within a short time must be shocking to your body, brain and your tongue!

  9. I am just popping in to say thank you for dropping by and wishing Tammy a happy birthday.

    Oh and my goodness even us rude Americans...LOL..i can say that as I am American, always wait nicely in line for public toilets.

    It's nice to find out that at least we are polite about a few things!!

    Happy Saturday:-)))

  10. Michelle: Ohhh...I didn't know that Afrikaans = a colonial mix of Dutch! THANKS for sharing your experiences. VERY interesting!!! :-)))

    I remember clearly that while I was on a full-time Finnish course, sometimes my brain remembered the meanings of the words in Indonesian instead of English and things became crazy when I had to translate the words into English HA HA HA HA...I knew what they were, but I just "forgot" the English terms. It happens every once in a while he he he...

    About being a translator...I can imagine how crazy it is he he...the brain works slowly when it comes to translating and having to think in different languages he he he...

    About the not-really-funny-story...OH DEAR!!! THANK GOODNESS you were there and you understood what he was saying!!!!! Phewwww!!!

    Vince: Oh yes, population density can really change a people's attitude he he...

    Lori: GLAD you enjoyed this post, Lori! ;-D

    Blur Ting: Yeah, that's true. Plus in Indonesia I had to translate many things to Arttu ha ha ha ha ha...overload!!!

    Nice Zhoe: Well, if we have so much money, we'd love to visit MANY places he he he he...

    Shinade: You're VERY's GREAT to hear that Americans always wait nicely in line for public toilets he he he he...