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Mike's Around-The-World Trip Update #10 - 9.9.2004
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i said goodbye to mikko kivisto. mikko equals michael in finland so i
said goodbye to myself. been trying to meet him for 3 years, and i
did, finally, here in helsinki about one hour ago. we chatted over a
beer and made plans to meet in singapore where he now lives and works
for nokia. we were driving to the beer place in his saab when a bus with
"KIVISTO" written on the side passed in front of us. been wanting to
see that but never did until i was riding next to him. his grandpa's
brother's cousin's first grade teacher's school principal's
babysitter's next-door-neighbor owns the long distance bus company.

i said goodbye to the nomad, that faithful servant of mine who carried
me over 3100 miles (5000 kilometers) across western and northern
europe. together we crossed entire countries, including portugal,
sweden, denmark, ireland, wales, and northern ireland. we also cycled
across large hilly chunks of morocco, france, spain, and england. i
kissed her seat, rubbed her handlebars, and bid her farewell - i had a
lump in my throat as i did it.

where is she? she'll be waiting for me in the bicycle storage garage of
peter sinko, a finnish man who i said hello to two wednesdays ago and
said goodbye to yesterday. what a favor he is doing for me; i couldn't
bear to sell my bicycle, the thorn nomad touring bike i purchased 5
months ago in bridgwater, england, so i had to store it somewhere. my
boy sinko, the tank-destroying finn, stepped up and offered his home to
her. he's on this e-mail: wherever you are reading this, please say
aloud: thanks peter. his last name is also the name of an anti-tank
weapon, a gun he learned to use during his compulsory tour of duty in
the finnish military. peter destroys tanks.

tomorrow morning i will say goodbye to the excellent staff here at the
erottajanpuisto hostel in helsinki, finland, my home for the past 2.5
weeks. they are the nicest staff i have ever met in my traveling days.
they apologize when the noise of their vacuum cleaner covers up your
guitar playing in the hallway. most people don't care - they do.

not only the staff, but i will be saying goodbye to finland, the land
that supplied 50% of the blood keepin' me keepin' on. the country of
my father has been an absolute joy; the people are the nicest people i
have met in my travels, and people are what make a country. i said
hello 2.5 weeks ago, happy to be a finn, not knowing that when i would
say goodbye i would do so with the overwhelming swell of pride in my
heart. thank you mikko kivisto, mikko semiola, anu saaranen, and,
especially, peter sinko for making my time here some of the best of my
entire life. sisu always.

sisu?

a finnish word my dad taught me at a young age. i wore a shirt
that said "finn power" on the back and "sisu" on the front when i was 8
years old. "sisu means courage," said my dad when i asked about it. i
hollered it at peter when i first met him, happy to know at least one
word in the difficult finnish language. "it means more than courage,"
he said. "it means you'll go through a brick f*ckin' wall if you have
to." sisu once allowed the severely out-numbered finns to hold off the
mighty russian army for a long time. sisu keeps me charging ahead on
this amazing journey. sisu means i am ready for the next stage.

what is the next stage? the next "hello"?

with my new backpack on my back i will board a train to russia tomorrow
morning. i will be saying hello st. petersburg, hello moscow. hello
new adventure. it all changes from here on out, dear readers. i will
ride a train for 7 days and cross 1/3 of the earth's surface and 8 time
zones when i do so. goodbye moscow, hello mongolia. goodbye mongolia,
hello beijing, china. and then one of the biggest hellos of my trip, one i've
dreamt of saying for many years:

hello great wall of china.

this life is such a gift. i unwrap it everyday and smile with great
wonder and excitement at what's inside. i am so lucky, and so
grateful. i am completely happy exploring the world as i am. i hope
you feel the love of what you are doing as much as i do. i say thanks
whenever i wander into a church. i am enjoying this life of mine.

i even enjoyed getting assaulted at 3:00 in the morning while in my bed
on the boat from stockholm, sweden to helsinki, finland. i enjoyed
running the subway tracks with an aussie and irish guy in stockholm at
4:30 in the morning. i also enjoyed an extremely drunk dane falling
into my lap at a park in helsingor, denmark. i enjoyed my hello to
tallinn, estonia for a weekend and then the hello again to helsinki
when i returned. i enjoy it all, and i welcome the new adventure of
russia, of mongolia, of china. and then????? who knows?

read my random thoughts: they give you the individual stories that are
too long to fit into these updates....and those stories i just hinted
at above will shortly be in random thoughts #5.

so hello my friends, my family, my fellow travelers from helsinki,
finland. and goodbye again, because i must pack up my backpack and
shake some hands here in the hostel...i'll say hello as soon as i can
from russia.

cover me: i'm going in.

"hello, hello. i don't know why you say goodbye, i say hello."

sisu, love your life, keep on keepin' on,
michael arvid kivisto

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