The Karen People

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Yesterday we went for an adventure. We got fed up just lying around in Mae Moei resting, and we had finished all the unfinished work that we needed to do. So we hopped on our little monster truck and decided to do some off-roading.

Everyone says the roads in Myanmar are really bad, and the new super snazzy highway that connects Yangon to Mandalay, is a four laned, overpriced airstrip that has nothing. It goes through nowhere, has no traffic, and apparently is completely useless. We’re better off breaking down on the old road, because at least there, we might run into someone that can help.

So as a warmup we took on the mud and the holes, and our baby bird flew like an angel. She tackled everything that was thrown in her way, except Pyry’s muscles. Sometimes he can be a bit rough while screwing around.

After the breaking in, our angel had started whining a little, so we decided to tighten her up before getting wet again after Songkran. We gave a good yank on every nut and bolt we could find, and the last one, one of the four bolts that keep the front wheel connected, snapped under Pyry’s humungous strength…

Luckily we had decided to do this in front of a shop that just happened to have nice people, with the right tools. In a jiffy they took out the old bolt and gave us a new one, slightly shorter, but seemed a bit harder, so I really hope size doesn’t matter. I think that as long as it’s hard and doesn’t break, it should work fine.

After tightening our nuts, we headed off into the mystery roads that even google maps have never heard of. In the end we found what didn’t know we were looking for, a beautiful valley between two luscious mounds. Every mans dream.

We asked if we could stay the night, and like usually, we were very welcomed. Suddenly there were dozens of kids running around, some throwing our knives around and others playing karate kid with our juggling clubs. Everyone was having a blast.

Once finished, we were so hungry that we bought some of the local eggs and made a Khai Jiao, Thai style omelette on our heavenly kitchen. I think the eggs came from the chicken that was continuously watching me cook, or then from one of the other hundreds that were freely running around. These village people let all life join in the fun, and by doing that, they stay healthy, with nutritious, natural, fresh, free food at all times.

Then we went to wash up in the mountain stream and were greeted by the only man who spoke english. He asked what we were doing, and instead of camping, he asked us to his home. This is when we found out that we had stumbled into a village that has been inhabited by the Karen Tribe for over a millennium.

He showed us to his home, and we chatted for hours. We asked about the Karen people, and they asked us about Finnish people. We laughed a lot and shared very similar views of many things, including the fact that they pride themselves on helping each other, without accepting money.

In the end Juho and Santin found their deepest connection, a true love they share together, Football. It goes to show, that we’re all basically the same.

Then we had dinner. I don’t know what it was, but it was kind of like a crab and fish stew with rice. They were amazed that in Finland we have to pay for our crabs, while they just pick them up from the river. Even the water tasted like proper water, because it came straight from the mountain stream with only a little filtering, though in Finland, the ground water doesn’t even need to be filtered.

Then we found out that the Karen food, compared to Thai food, uses no fish sauce, no sugar, and unlike in Finland, the small crabs are meant to be eaten with the shell on. That way they are much more nutritious, and taste really nice. It was like eating chips.

After our tummies looked like they were about to burst, we jumped on the pick up and went to look for the Songkran after party. This time we got so lost that even the locals didn’t know where we were.

We ended up coming back to the village, where they had pitched up a tivoli at the temple grounds, and enjoyed the old school film projector, and Pyry shot some stuffed rabbits for his godson.

Then it was time to sleep.

We woke up at the third call of the roosters, i.e. 5 am, the natural wake up time. It’s amazing how one rooster starts, then the next one joins in, then the next, then a dog, and soon the whole valley is echoing with life. It is simply the most natural wake up call, and it feels good.

We packed up, checked the oil, checked the water, and rolled off towards the sunrise. It was a wonderful experience.

Ta blu dòh mä, my brothers! You shall always be in our hearts.

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Motor Vehicle Merry-go-Round

When travelling around the globe on a motor vehicle, there are a few things that all motorists should know. First and foremost, and the most obvious, is to be prepared for anything.

The real world is full of potholes, gravel roads, no roads, steep climbs, steep downward slopes that overheat the breaks, rocks that hit and break things, twigs that jam and scratch, rainfall that makes some roads into huge mud cakes etc. etc. etc. It takes just a moment for the wrong thing to happen at the wrong time and suddenly you can feel all your hopes and dreams slipping away as your motor vehicle comes to a stop, or refuses to move.

Prepare as much as you can for everything, and then let it all go. Don’t be stupid and take a truckload of stuff just in case. Take tools that can do many things, get a good understanding of physics, try fixing something before you go, think of many situations that might happen, use your imagination, and trust yourself to find a way to keep going.

The fact is, If you thought of it, it probably won’t happen. Life doesn’t want to do things the way someone thought it would go. Life is full of surprises, and thats the best part. And when it comes to breaking down in the middle of nowhere, there’s a 99.9% chance that there is at least one person around willing to help. It’s human nature, it’s life.

But then there’s bureaucracy. It’s not the real world, it’s the world on paper. If per chance you are driving your motor vehicle from New Zealand to Europe, around Africa or along the west coast of South America, it is mandatory to have a piece of paper called Carnet de Passages.

The Carnet allows you to temporarily import your vehicle without having to leave a cash deposit at the border. It is, in essence, an international guarantee for payment of customs, duties and taxes to a government should the vehicle not be re-exported from that country.

In other words you give around a few thousand € (depending on the price of the vehicle) as a deposit and you get it back when you import the vehicle into the final destination.

The Carnet de Passages en Douane can be obtained from the national automobile association or touring club of where ever you might be.

For more info visit the wiki @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnet_de_Passages

Other bureaucratic papers are of course Visas. There are a few options for this. Transit Visa, Tourist Visa and for those filming something you might need a Press Visa.

A transit visa is usually quite easy to get, but it’s for a very limited time. Iran gives 5 day transit visas, Azerbaijan gives 72 hour transit visas etc. It depend’s on the size of the country and your route. A transit visa cannot be renewed or lengthened.

A tourist visa can be obtained for a much longer time and thus you can enjoy the country a little better while driving around. In both cases Point of Entry and Point of Exit must be given and some countries want the whole route with all the names of the places you want to visit. If you stick to the plan you should be alright.

Usually the Carnet and Visas will suffice, but some countries have places called restricted areas. For example north eastern India is mostly restricted area. If you want to pass through these, you must obtain a special Restricted Area Permit.

This can be obtained along with the visa, if they see you fit for going through. Restricted Area Permits in India are for a maximum of 2 weeks, even though the tourist visa is for six months. You MUST have the Permit with you at all times while in the restricted area, and you MUST leave before it expires.

Then there’s of course the international driving licence. This is just a passport photo and filling in a piece of paper. It’s as easy as frying an egg.

Bureaucracy is a bunch of obstacles designed to milk money from your nipples. Its annoying, but if you comply and go with it, it’s easy. Try and fight it or lose your nerve and the bureaucratic cow kicks you in the face.

Apart from these you should be alright. So if you prepare and get the paperwork you’re all set.

And the rest is up to you.

 

PS. If you have more good tips, give us a comment.

Two one way tickets to Bangkok, please.

Three weeks to departure.

Katse kaukaisuuteen

Photo: Vanessa Riki

In March 2013 we decided that the time was ripe to make this madcap adventure-dream come true. Five years the idea of driving a tuk tuk from Bangkok to Helsinki had been brewing. Pyry lived in Bangkok for his teenage years and Juho had just come back from there. Both of us found ourselves in circus school and began to understand the importance of well-being and a healthy diet.

We had began to wonder how it was possible that so many restaurants make such bad food for such an outrageous price. Good food is food made with love, not from the desire to make money from people’s necessity to eat. Then the lightbulb sparked.

What if we actually do go to Bangkok and buy the tuk tuk? We could tune it up into a lean mean street cooking machine and drive it to Finland. Then we can start our own street food stall and make food with love for a reasonable price! And to fund the whole thing we can film the adventure into a TV-series and sell it all around the world!!!

So now we are here. There might be easier dreams to follow, but this one is ours. Dreams are rarely realised because they are not taken seriously. Reality is a scary place and many think their dreams are not important enough, or worth the effort to fight for their existence. This dream is important to us. This is our way to share some goodness around.

After a little trepidation we decided to get up and do something about it. We went to the tavern, ordered a few beers and stuck our heads together. How can two broke circus artists get a tuk tuk all the way to Finland?

Of course this scared the hell out of us! People naturally avoid responsibility because of fear of failure. Both of us learned from circus that failure is actually the first step towards success. Fear of failure leads to evasion of responsibility, but when you carry responsibility for your own life, you need not carry anything else. Everything is in our own hands.

We are confident that every experience along our adventure can be handled, every setback will be taken as a new possibility, and everything unexpected will be enjoyed along the way. It’s up to us to make it what it is. A lot of responsibility, a lot of freedom.

This was the first big realisation moment. Understanding that if we have the will, we’ll find the way. No one else is going to make this happen for us. Our dreams and our lives are in our own hands.

Okay, so we drive the tuk tuk to Finland and make it into a TV-series, simple as that. Eight months to learn all that needs to be learned and do all that needs to be done. Except we didn’t know what we needed to learn or do.

So we wrote a couple of emails about the concept to production companies to see if they would be interested. Not one replied, and no wonder. We were standing on a solid dream that no one else could see.

We felt that if we wait too long, this will never happen. So we started our own production company and got our second realisation. We agreed never to wait for something to happen, but instead, we would always come up with ways to make the tuk tuk dream take shape. As a consequence, we have done almost everything ​​possible by ourself but we have also learned an unimaginable amount of thing in the process.

The next step forward was finance. It was hopeless to apply for a bank loan or attract sponsors. With nothing to show we were going in circles. Then it happened. A whale shark snatched and told Juho about crowdfunding. Straight away it felt like our own thing. It would give us start-up capital, it would work as advertising, we’d get something to show the sponsors and distributors and it would give many people the opportunity to be involved. Above all, it will make us to do instead of wait.

The third awakening. We have received a tremendous amount of support and help from friends and strangers. We have learned to ask for help and we have learned to accept help. It feels like we are doing the right thing at the right time and it’s as if we are working together as a team. A team full of friends, relatives and strangers. This has already been an inspiration to many people, including ourselves, and it will be in the future as well.

Three weeks before departure. We have been working hard for 8 months. We have sponsors and partners and distribution to four countries (as soon as we learn to write a Distribution Agreement). We still have our heads in the clouds, but we have grown our legs to the ground. We have done all that we can, as well as we can and the tuk tuk is speeding forward. There’s a vast emptiness ahead. We have planned and prepared all that we can, but an adventure is always an adventure. Emptiness makes everything possible.

Welcome aboard,

TTBoys