FSF Expedition – the People’s Republic of China
In 2002, influenced by the Finnish travel documentary series Madventures, I made the following pledge; someday I’ll take one year off to travel the world. It took 10 long years to get to the situation when I can call the vague “someday” on “today”. On May 2012 I left my job in Paris to become a full-time employee of FSF. This transition enabled both teleworking and flexible hours. Broadly speaking, the hardest part was deciding to go. The rest was just details.
19th of May, I stepped outside the Hong Kong International Airport. In a split second I felt the warm and humid breeze in my breath – I was definitely in Asia. I was overwhelmed with the most mind-boggling feeling of gratitude and pride. I was proud of myself for being here, and I knew that there will be much more out there.
On a plane I drafted three key fundamentals of my journey:
- A balanced mix between work and travel – Maintain an active work life while changing locations monthly.
- Travel without expectations – Accept reality as it is and people as they are. Live a life where one doesn’t need to be disappointed or frustrated.
- Be a journalist – Create interviews, reportages and travel videos. Have a mindset that will encourage me to dig deeper in local cultures.
The People’s Republic of China
A fuzzy stray along the streets of Hong Kong led me to Mikko’s deluxe flat (frankly, smaller than the bathroom at my previous apartment). Even though, we’d spent numerous hours on Skype, nothing tops meeting someone in person.
We hit the local juice bar, mapped out a vague plan and booked the first flight. We had three and half weeks, yet China has immense diversity of terrain, climate and especially people. It was time to compromise.
My must-to-see list consisted of following:
- - See a glimpse of Shanghai’s futuristic skyscrapers
- - Walk through the ancient hutong neighborhoods of Beijing
- - Hike a remote part of the Great Wall
- - Run up the Heavenly Capital Peak in Yellow Mountains, Huangshan
- - Learn more about the Chinese traditional herbal medicine
- - Grasp the inherent cultivation processes of reishi fungi
- - Workout with groups of elderly people in each city
Six-month-old reishi fungi. Reishi cultivation is cultured by grafting reishi fungi onto dried wood log, then grown in greenhouses under controlled conditions (right temperature, humidity, sunlight etc), no chemicals needed. This cultivation method takes about one year.
There’s no way to squeeze 25 days in less than five minutes, and actually there even shouldn’t be one. Like Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia Outdoor Clothing, stated “I met a lot of young people who asked what books to read or films to watch. I think it’s a good way to start, but there’s no substitute for just going there.” Hopefully our video will work as an entrée.
Ps. A special thanks to Miika, who persistently took care of my FSF Gizmo in Beijing, while we were figuring out how to ship it to us in Vietnam. Sadly, we couldn’t change the Chinese laws on this matter overnight and had to go with plan B. Thanks Miika!