Accommodation Options in the Arctic

It has been awhile but if you have been following my other social media channels, you would know that I was in Arctic Europe/Lapland for a week. You can check out my video here in case you have not seen it yet:

I understand that there is a huge fascination and interest to visit the Lapland region particularly for the Northern Lights and so I thought it might be useful to write a mini guide about the region. Partly also because I feel like most people only know about ONE resort in the area when there are so many other options to choose from.

Also if anyone tells you that the Northern lights are “disappearing”, I hope you know that the Northern lights is a natural phenomenon that no one can control although the locals did mention that they have seen some of the best Northern lights in their life this 2016/17 season.

When to visit:

This is possibly the most commonly asked question and because no one really knows when the Northern lights will go on display, you can only try to increase your chances by 1) Going as far north as possible, 2) Staying out in a dark dark place and 3) Pray for a cloudless night.

If you are afraid of the cold and hate snow, the local recommend the autumn season between Aug to Oct where the Northern lights would start to appear as the days get darker and you might have a chance of viewing a “Double Aurora” where the aurora reflects off a lake/river. You would not be able to do winter activities then but if you want to enjoy cheaper prices + fewer tourists and only want to chase the Northern lights then it is a good option.

However the most popular period of travel is between Nov/Dec/Jan where it is the darkest and coldest period. You would have to be okay with paying premium prices, squeezing with other tourists and dealing with the frigid cold (-20 to 30 degrees type of cold).

So personally if you were to ask me, I would recommend March as a good month to go because 1) There is still snow to do winter activities 2) There is more sun and daylight 3) It is not so cold 4) There are less tourists around and 5) You still have a good opportunity to see the Northern lights.

Where to stay

I think that we need to take price out of the consideration here because you have to be prepared to spend should you wish to visit Scandinavia. Instead we should consider what type of experience you would like to go for, other than viewing the Northern lights.

Rovaniemi

The most popular destination is Rovaniemi because it is marketed as the “Home of Santa Claus”. You can get there by plane or an overnight VR train from Helsinki.

There are many hotels to choose from including:

  1. Arctic Snow Hotel – They have a very cool Snow Sauna!
  2. Santa Arctic Circle Glass Igloos

It is a good place to go for an all rounded trip where you can visit Santa Claus, visit the Snowhotel, do winter activities and also pop over to Kemi to do the Ice Breaker that I did in this video:

However it is also the most commercial place to visit and you have to expect a lot of tourists.

Luosto

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If you would like to be near Rovaneimi but slightly further away from the crowd, you can consider Luosto which has these igloos at Santa Aurora Hotel and nearby there are log cabins as well at Lapland Hotel Luostotunturi.

In this area they have an Amethyst mine which I have not personally visited but know that it is quite a popular attraction there.

Nellim/Muotka

For a more homey, cosy experience, I would recommend visiting Nellim or Muotka. It is accessible via flight from Helsinki to Ivalo. These two places are run by a couple and they offer unique accommodation like…

This Aurora Cabin in Muotka:

Muotka Wilderness Lodge

These log cabins in Nellim:

Nellim Wilderness Lodge

And these Aurora Bubbles in Nellim:

Somehow when I was there, I felt very connected with nature and it felt like a very peaceful escapade. I believe that there are also good cross country skiing spots there too.

Kirkenes

It is also possible to combine a visit to Inari (near Muotka/Nellim) with a visit to Kirkenes as well. In Kirkenes they have a Snowhotel which is worth a visit, these cosy Gamme cabins as pictured above and King Crabs!

A fun fact is that you are actually helping the environment eating the King Crabs there because there are so many of them there that they are destroying the seabed and when they run out of food they actually…eat each other.

It was also in Kirkenes that I got to go on a local home visit which made the experience that much more special. It was so cute that the locals were so enthusiastic and excited to have us visit their homes. I believe that this activity can soon be booked through the Snowhotel in Kirkenes.

There are many other options of course but these are a few that I am familiar with and also enjoy working with. Hope this will be useful to anyone planning your next Northern Lights holiday!

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Weekend in London

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It is almost as if I am trying to tick off all the big cities in the world (although I am not). But anyway, I made my way to London two weekends ago to hang out with my hall mates from Singapore.

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I have been to London many times during my exchange days but it is always fun to make new memories with old friends.

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We did a couple of touristy things and ticked off a few of the main London sights.

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And tried free coconut water.

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And had one too many beers.

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And of course, indulged in good food. I finally got to try Burger and Lobster!

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And these scones from the Muffin Man.

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And this random but tasty paella from Portobello market.

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And this Zi Char meal at Gold Mine.

I wish my friends would come to this part of the world more often because it is so nice to be in their company.

Till the next time we meet, here is a video of them reacting to Swedapura videos. How…embarrassing.

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Hokkaido June 2016

I cannot complain about how the first half of the year has unfolded for me. I definitely was not expecting to be travelling this much at the start of the year but I am thankful for many different trips to spend time with friends and family. Yes I traded 1 LDR for many LDRs but I am happy to be able to create memories with my loved ones in different parts of the world.

Last week saw me flying from Stockholm to Hokkaido to meet my parents for a week. It might not have been that many days but it was enough for me to fall in love with Japan (even more than I already do). Before the trip even ended, my parents and I were already briefly discussing about meeting up in a different part of Japan next year.

I did not take a day by day log of what we did but perhaps this jumbled lot of photographs would summarise our trip succinctly.

Left: My first meal at the airport with my parents who so patiently waited for me. And even though my luggage was missing, seeing my parents again and having fresh sashimi and perfectly marinated beef made it all okay.

Right: Sightseeing stopovers while on the road and this was the Oshinkoshin Falls. We were shivering, can you tell?

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And then we eat more again. What else. This was a mixed dinner from a food court.

Left: Stopover to do a quick footbath onsen in acidic water in Kawayu.

Right: Take more touristy pictures and eat loads of Hokkaido soft serves.

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We randomly stopped the car whenever we spotted animals. This trip we saw many horses, a baby fox and deers while on the road.

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Eat again, of course.

This was us feasting on King Crabs which was caught in the morning. It was so fresh and sweet and good. I need to eat this meal again.

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It was nice that other than having fixed destinations, we kept our itinerary relatively free and easy so we could just go with the flow as we travelled around the island and stopped whenever we saw something interesting. While we may not have covered not have covered ALL the tourist attractions (which is impossible in one week), we definitely had a good time just exploring a new place together.

SWEDAPURA RECOMMENDS

My Hokkaido attractions recommendation would be: 1) Visiting Furano Flower Farm when in season 2) Take a boat to the tip of Shiretoko (UNESCO Heritage site) 3) Try an onsen 4) Go hiking in Shiretoko (would go back to do that to be honest).

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If I could fly one airline for the rest of my life, I would say that it would be JAL handsdown. It might be a close call between JAL and Qatar but really, this AirMos burger just took the cake for me.

Maybe I have not flown enough but a burger in the air? I love how I had to assemble my meal myself!

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And oh yes, one can never leave Japan without a stash of snacks. There is no such thing as overkill when it comes to snacks (for me).

Ending this post off with a cute picture of my cute parents and if you click on it, you would head over to our video filmed in a Japanese convenience store!

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See you in a month!

Swedapura in LA Part 2

Just because I really want to note down my memories in LA before it is too late…here is Part 2 of my week in LA.

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A few people asked why I would choose to go to LA for just a week and on hindsight I sure was not expecting to be in a perpetual state of jetlag for so long but family time is really more than anything.

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Was happy to be able to share my 26th birthday with them and it was definitely made more fun because of the kids who enjoy birthdays. I got a special balloon from Caity because it was my birthday. It was a real treat to be able to catch mum on Skype so that she could be part of our little party virtually.

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It was also so nice to see how much the kids have grown and how much closer the Chng family is now through their time in US.

And to have them be my tour guide around some of their favourite hangouts like the Aquarium. “Yee Yee Jan, look! The seal will swim under and come up from there!”

And time to reconnect with this not-so-little one whom I used to spend so much time with back in Singapore. I wish I could be a bigger part of seeing her grow up but seeing her now already makes me feel like such a proud aunt.

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It is a bit ironic that I spent a lot of my meals eating Asian in LA but I have no regrets because the Asian food in LA was just on point. This plate of Spicy Nasi Padang was SO GOOD. Partially because it was exactly what I was craving for. Spicy, comforting Indonesian food.

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We were almost on a food tour, covering places like Din Tai Fung, Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack to name a few.

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But more importantly, it felt like we were recreating our usual outings in Singapore in LA and getting to spend some family time with the Chngs.

Check out our cute little foodie video here!

Looking forward to the next time I see you all again.

Till the next time!

 

Swedapura Goes to Disneyland

So if you have been following me on Instagram, you would have seen that I have been on some sort of a travelling roll. I am now in a constant state of jetlag but I am finally back with updates and I would like to start with my favouritest memory…

A day at Disneyland with my Dajie, Caity and Andrew!

Apparently even before I arrived in LA, it was something the kids talked about a lot and so on a Wednesday morning my sister decided, “Let’s do this! We are going to Disneyland!”

The moment we walked in, we spotted Snow White and it was just perfect that we could get Caity into her costume for a little meet and greet. The day was off to a brilliant start and everything just felt so…magical.

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Once we got into the park proper, we kept running into one Disney character after another and there were some (great) singing guys along Main Street as well.

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What I enjoyed most about the rides was…how happy it made the kids. Just look at their smiling faces! Plus Caity took not just one but TWO rollercoaster rides for the first time in her life. In fact she took them 4 times in total because she went with both Jie and I on each ride.

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Cliche but…necessary to beat the heat.

We also went into the Royal Hall to pay the princesses a visit. I think it freaked the children out a little to see their favourite princesses in person but for the adults it was just a little…awkward because you don’t know if you need to speak to them in a princessy voice too.

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The best way to end of the day was finding a perfect spot for the parade and seeing the two little ones enjoy the spectacle.

Thank you for fulfilling my little childhood dream and sharing this special day with me!

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I feel like the pictures do not do justice to this special day but I hope this vlog does. Hope you guys enjoy this one 🙂

Till the next time!