It’s Hot in Here

35° celsius.

Just eating, makes me sweat as if i’ve been training for 3 hours. It’s the hottest time of the day, but the nights are not that much easier. For the last few nights we’ve been sleeping the spartan way. Glazed tiles are cooler than a mattress and it doubles up as an all night massage with a side order of ant-acupuncture (Even that can be turned to the positive :D).

In Thailand there are only three seasons. The hot season, the very hot season and the rainy season. By now it’s the middle of the very hot season. Come Songkran, the Thai new year, we reach the pinnacle of the scorching sun and dryness. It is the hottest time of year and how do the Thais celebrate? With an all out water war. They get ready for monsoon time.

Actually we prefer the very hot season instead to the rainy season for the moment. After all we have to drive our Tuk Tuk through Thailand, Myanmar and India and during heavy rain the roads get so muddy and flooded that a canoe would be more suitable for the journey.

The very hot season brings it’s own rhythm. During the day it’s just too hot to do anything. Even sleeping and laying down in the shadows with the fan on full is too much. In the north we are used to work to survive. Here the key to survive this season is to do nothing in vain. When it’s time to work, it’s time to work and when it’s time to rest, it’s time to rest. All with a good conscience.

Photo: Juho Sarno

Photo: Juho Sarno

This certainly doesn’t mean laziness. I’ve seen so many people working in such different ways to make their living that it makes my imagination seem useless. I’ve seen people selling brushes from a cart, fishermen making their own nets and wade them in to one of the dirtiest rivers I’ve ever seen. I’ve even seen people collecting garbage from the byways and patch clothes with old pedal singers on the alleyways. Without money, these people must use their creativity.

In Thailand this is all possible because one part of Buddhism is that everyone is responsible for their own life and happiness. The government can’t and doesn’t want to control everything and some sort of grass root anarchy-capitalism is living strongly.

In contrary to western capitalism it’s not about the money, it’s about the buddhist way of life. Families work together and help each other survive from day to day. They don’t need to be richer tomorrow because they are content today.

Close by there’s a lady who owns a copy machine. She asks 2 baht per copy and probably makes 100 baht a day. Thats about 2,2 €. But it’s ok because with that money she eats 3 times a day and she’s always smiling.

For the last 2 weeks we tried to live off the same amount. We were given a place to sleep for free and in exchange we painted one room. We have been given food because we have become part of the family and we help around as much as we can. Our daily budget for the necessities has been less than that of the copy woman, and we are still smiling and still going strong.

Different climates create different cultures and thats certainly something where we can learn from. I will definitely take the idea of lazying with good conscience with me 😀

Timelessness

There are very few places these days where a void can form into space-time. When someone asks the question, ‘what day is tomorrow?’, and you have absolutely no idea. Possibly when marooned on a deserted island with no boat, in the middle of the desert with a broken tuk tuk, or staying here in a small part of Bangkok called ‘the best soi in Bangkok’.

We have waited for the registration for so long that my beard has taken over my face and delusions are erasing the past and future from the mind. Everything seems to be happening on a day to day basis and it’s difficult to even ask something about the future. Going away party? Later today? Tomorrow? Next week? Nothing is ever planned ahead of time and it’s as if there are no words..

And there isn’t. The Thai language has no past or future tense. They only have the present, it’s the buddhist way. And usually we completely agree, but today we feel quite down and we don’t know what to think.

We’ve been told that the registration papers are all in order and on Friday (Tomorrow), the Tuk Tuk will get tested and we should finally get the registration plate. By wednesday next week we should be on our way. This is a sentence we’ve heard a few too many times.

We so really truly magically hope that THIS time it will be…

Kuva: Juho Sarno

Kuva: Juho Sarno

 

ManMadeMachine

We’ve been stuck here in Bangkok for three weeks due to political unrest. In the older posts we mentioned that we have used our time effectively, but as you can’t fight against bureaucracy, what does this effectively mean?

Our main obstacle has been to get our tuk tuk registered, and of course, it’s not that simple. The bureaucracy that is supposed to make our lives easier and safer does the complete opposite.

First of all foreigners can’t register tuk tuks without special permission. There is even a limited number of licences per year for the locals. We managed to get the special permission for the registration and the head of the Transportation Authority has said he can register our Tuk Tuk for us. So why the delay? Because of the clash between people and machine.

Bureaucracy started off as a simple way of people organising different things. Kind of like a simple computer. After years and years the bureaucratic system has evolved, and it has become a machine that has taken control itself. The Matrix in real life. This can be seen clearly since we have all the people we need to sign all the papers we need, but because of the one database in one office that is closed, nothing can be done. A glitch in the system.

Last week, to our luck, the office opened up because the protests have quieted down after the elections. Hooray, the glitch was fixed! Two hours later the Transportation Authority was surrounded by disabled people protesting against the bad disabled mobility on the public transportation system and it was shut down once again. If someone is effective, it’s the protesters. Got to give them credit for that.

We continued to search for different routes. Yesterday we had an appointment at the Tourism Authority of Thailand, European Division, and now we have the head of the TAT supporting us also. This means we have the head of the Bangkok Transportation Authority, the head of the Tourism Authority and the head of the Finnish Embassy supporting us and giving us some leverage to go all the way to the Transportation Authority of Chiang Mai to register our Tuk Tuk. Effective? Perhaps.

We have been so effective that we even managed to arrange ourselves the permission to pass through Myanmar twice already. Unfortunately we have not been able to leave and all the work has been in vain, though it does soothe the mind to know it is possible.

This all feels like Humanity vs. ManMadeMachine. We have met everyone we can, in person, to try and bring out as much humanity as possible. It seems to be working because all of the people we have met have been absolutely wonderful and have helped us in every possible way. This project has inspired all of them and they all want this to happen, but with six people looking at the windows blue screen of death, what can you do?

To keep ourselves busy, tomorrows blog will be about our ventures within the bureaucratic system, and how we try to bring out the humanity within.

Karnevaalit kaupungilla

Bangkok Shutdown, kolmas päivä menossa ja vähitellen kaupunki alkaa tottua tilanteeseen. Majapaikkamme vieressä on yksi blockade, Rama VIII:n silta. Aamu seitsemältä alkaa kovaäänisistä puheiden pito joka illan tullen muuttuu huudatusten kautta humppajuhliksi. Yhdeltätoista illalla soitetaan kuninkaan hymni ja ihmiset menevät nukkumaan jaksaakseen herätä aamu seitsemältä uusiin hulinoihin.

En tiedä mihin vertaisin protesteja, en ole kokenut mitään vastaavaa elämässäni. Hurmos on kuin suviseuroilla, tanssit kuin tangomarkkinoilla ja ilonpito niin vilpitöntä ja rentoa ettei sitä taida löytyä muualta kuin Thaimaasta. Protestoijilla on festarit käynnissä, Bangkok Shutdown on brändätty, paitoja painetaan, pillejä myydään, löytyy juomakojuja, jätskipisteitä, festaritelttoja ja -screenejä. Iltaisin on isoja hierontapaikkoja joissa kivistävät lihakset saavat hoitoa parhaaseen Thai-tyyliin.

Photo: Pyry Kääriä

Photo: Pyry Kääriä

Protestoijat ovat kokoontuneet 7 eri paikalle tarkoituksenaan sulkea kaupunki ja hallinto. Käytännössä turha yritys, metropolialueella on miltei 15 miljoonaa asukasta, mutta suurin vaikutus shutdownilla onkin psykologinen. Hallituksen painostaminen ja omien rivien tiivistäminen. Lisäksi shutdownilla on positiivinen sivuvaikutus, josta kaikki Bangkokilaiset voivat olla iloisia.

Shutdown on saanut autoilevat ihmiset joko pois kaupungista tai jättämään kulkupelit kotiinsa, joten liikenne on vähentynyt merkittävästi. Täällä vietetään todellisia autottomia päiviä. Bussikuskit nauttivat kun saavat kerrankin paahtaa tyhjillä kaduilla mielensä mukaan. Ei ole smogia peittämässä näkyvyyttä, tiet voi ylittää rauhassa ja ennen kaikkea täällä voi hengittää. Tiesuluista huolimatta logistiikkakin toimii. Yhdysvaltain lähetystö kehotti varastoimaan elintarvikkeita ja lääkkeitä, he eivät tainneet ottaa huomioon että myös protestoijien täytyy syödä. Ruokaa on riittänyt katukeittiöissä entiseen malliin. Joka päivä näkee kuitenkin enemmän ja enemmän autoja kaupungilla. Ei näin isoa kaupunkia voi pysäyttää.

photo: Juho Sarno Tyhjillä kaduilla on tilaa vaikka seistä käsillään.

photo: Juho Sarno
Bangkokin ruuhkaisilla kaduilla on kerrankin tilaa!

Taas lähti humppa soimaan! Puolenpäivän tanssit lähtivät selkeästi käyntiin 🙂

Mistä näissä protesteissa sitten on kyse?

Yritän hieman avata kontekstia. vastakkain ovat keltapaidat, eli protestoijat ja hallitus joiden kannattajia kutsutaan punapaidoiksi. Näiden kahden puolen välinen köydenveto on jatkunut Thaksin Sinawatran päivistä lähtien. Tämä Thaimaan Berlusconi lähti vapaaehtoiseen maanpakoon vuoden 2006 mielenosoituksista lähtien. Nykyiset protestit saivat alkunsa kun Thaksinin sisko nykyinen pääministeri Ms. Yinluck yritti ajaa lävitse armahdusklakia joka mahdollistaisi hänen veljensä paluun.

Keltapaidat ottivat tästä nokkiinsa ja lähtivät kaduille. Joulukuussa he saivat ensin hallituksen perumaan armahduslain ja sen jälkeen saivat painostuksellaan Ms. Yinluckin järjestämään uudet vaalit helmikuun toisena päivänä.

Mutta tämä ei heille suinkaan riitä. Suurin oppositiopuolue, Democratic Party ja protesti organisaatio The People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) eivät suostuneet osallistumaan vaaleihin. Päinvastoin, he masinoivat tiesulkuja niin että useassa maakunnassa ei päästy jättämään ehdokaslistoja.

Tähän on hyvin yksinkertainen syy. He tietävät että he eivät voittaisi vaaleja. Punapaidat koostuvat pääasiassa pohjoisen talonpojista ja köyhästä luokasta joiden äänet Thaksin aikoinaan sai puolelleen. PDRC koostuu lähinnä keskiluokasta. Täällä on menossa keskiluokan kapina.

PDRC haluaa pääministerin eroavan ja ‘kansan komitean’ uudistamaan vaalilainsäädäntöä.  Tähän olisi helppo todeta kyynisesti että he haluavat uudistaa lainsäädäntöä itselleen suosiolliseksi, keltapaidat eivät ole voittaneet vaaleja ikuisuuteen. Hallitusta syytetään etenkin korruptiosta, eikä näitä väitteitä ole kovinkaan vaikea uskoa.

PDRC:n ja protestien johtaja Suthep Thaugsuba on kieltäytynyt kaikista neuvotteluista, hänen sanojensa mukaan “There’s no win-win situation, we either win or lose.”

Kuulostaa vähän Game of Thronesilta, ja siitä tässä oikeastaan onkin kyse. Thaimaassa hallituksia tulee ja menee, mutta kuningas pysyy. Kaikki Thaimaata tuntevat tietävät että kuningas on pyhä, nauttii suurta kansansuosiota eikä välttämättä olisi väärin puhua henkilökultista. Kuninkaalla ei ole virallista valtaa, mutta hänen kabinettinsa on hyvin vaikutusvaltainen. Hänen Majesteettinsa vietti juuri 86 vuotis syntymäpäiväänsä, ja vaikka asiaa ei voi täällä ääneen lausua niin pitkä ikä ei jatku ikuisesti. Kaiken vaalilainsäädännön ja hallituskamppailujen taustavireenä on kahden eri eliitin kamppailu tulevan majesteetin hovin vaikutusvallasta.

Mikäli en vielä tehnyt asiaa riittävän selväksi, tässä poliittisessa kriisissä, kuten miltei kaikissa poliittisissa kriiseissä on kyse vanhan eliitin (keltapaitojen johtajat) ja uuden eliitin (punapaitojen johtajat) kamppailu maailman 25:ksi isoimman talouden rahasta ja vallasta. Panokset ovat johtajien päiden sisällä niin isot, että voi olettaa protestien jatkuvan. Molemmat osapuolet haluavat pidättäytyä väkivallasta, kaikki muistavat v. 2010 verilöylyn jolloin 85 punapaitaa ammuttiin protestien yhteydessä. Molemmat osapuolet tuntuvat tiedostavan että väkivaltaisuuksien aloittaja tulee häviämään pitkällä tähtäimellä.

Näin me ainakin toivomme. Emme ole politiikan puolella, Johtajat kamppailevat päidensä sisällä asettaen omat toiveensa ja halunsa ihmisten yläpuolelle. Me olemme ihmisten puolella, olemme protestoijien toiveikkaan hyvän fiiliksen puolella, olemme punapaitojen itsemääräämisoikeuden puolella, olemme kaikkien puolella, sillä me kaikki olemme yhtä.

Holidays are over

Today was the first steps we took on Myanmar soil. Very exciting! If you need to do a quick visa run from Ranong, here’s a link to a good explanation on how to do it cheap by yourself. Don’t fall on the organised visa runs, they are really expensive and it’s actually quite easy to DIY. Immigration opens daily 8.00 a.m. make sure you are early as the queues get longer and boat rides more expensive the later you go. Things you need with you is a new uncreased 10 dollar bill printed after 2007, your passport and a new copy of your passport.

We spent a total of maybe 45 minutes there, mostly in the immigration office and a quick tea (which was really good). Apparently Myanmar is a big tea-loving country that has no coffee of its own, but lots of great tea. There’s even some wild tea left in this part of the world, which explains the excellent Burmese tea leaf salads we had on Phayam the other day. Apparently they use tea leaves in many recipes intended for eating instead of drinking.

After the visa run we took a bus to Chumporn and now we are sitting on the night bus going towards Bangkok. Holidays are over and the final push before departure is about to begin.

We’ve met some really nice people on our detour down south and had some excellent conversations. One of the most interesting was about an equation between power, responsibility and freedom, and how they work together to form the balance. And why the balance these days is a bit out of whack. It’s amazing what people think of when they have time to think. But lets not go there, at least not yet.

We got some comments from our empowerment blog and we are sorry about offending some people. Please don’t take offence from our thoughts. We want to be open about our thoughts and sometimes it comes out a bit bluntly. Sometimes it’s quite scary to speak your mind and the bluntness comes from trying to spill it out. They are just thoughts and nothing more and our thoughts are no more right or wrong than anyone else’s. Empowerment is about feeling good, so we are truly sorry 🙂

The time is now 22.58 and it feels like a bushel of bananas is hanging from the eyelids. Sleep is calling and we need it.

Two weeks of freshly picked visa, nine hours of bus ride, and a bagful of hope that in the next few days we will finally get our tuk tuk should be a recipe for something great. We will do our best to not under cook it or over do it, because even the best of recipes can end up being a disaster if not done with care.

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