A Travellerspoint blog

April 2019

Land of pancakes,temples,diarrhea,islands & long tail boats

Ao Nang

sunny 28 °C

We went from home to airport by train. It was first time we tried this new ring track which goes straight to airport and I can tell you, it’s really convenient! Don’t have to think about car parking or how to get from train station to airport because the train station is below the airport! How they have not made this earlier?

We had some time to wait in the airport though. We had downloaded some movies to a tablet so we watched those. And pretty much the same continued when we finally get to the airplane. This was our first long plane ride, over 10 hours. We bought a ear sets and watched movies, I read a book, Toni slept and even I dozed of couple of times. I can’t usually sleep on airplane, train or anything that moves really.

This was also first time we travelled with just our hand luggages for any longer period of time. I have made one long weekend but nothing more. Now we were going to be 2 weeks in Thailand. We didn’t safe any time in the airport tough, because the lines to the customs were long! The custom officer even took a coffee break, just sat there and drank coffee while hall full of people waited for him to let us pass. Strange.

When we arrived to the hotel in Ao nang both of us were so tired from the flight that we had to take little nap before anything else. The clock was only 4PM. We slept good 2 or 3 hours! After that long of a nap you should think that you are fresh and ready for anything but no, I was still weary. We went to find some restaurant and do a little grocerie shopping anyway. Nothing much to tell about that first evening.

I can’t say that I really woke up at all at the next day, my first encounter with jet lag I presume. We had breakfast included at our hotel so I got good food at the morning and that was a bonus. The pancakes was awesome!

The hotel was nice and I really loved our balcony! The view looked nothing like hotel, trees and green everywhere, terrace furniture and railing were all wood. It really gave impression that you were in nature particularly when the birds were singing which was often. We spent a lot of time in there during our stay. One morning we were sitting on our balcony discussing about possible shenanigans for the day when we heard this rustling. We had forgot empty bag of chips in the table previous night and it was moving! We monitored it for a while when this little gekko came out from the bag. NIce visitor but it got spooked when he spotted us.

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First days went pretty much walking around, we tried our hotel pool once (there were pool chair hoggers every day….), and checking the restaurants. And we found out that Ao nang is pretty much made for a tourists, every restaurant have almost identical menus and shops has same merchandises. This one guy tried to sell Toni a suit everytime we went by. At evenings all the restaurants turn the volume at max it seems. Luckily our hotel was quiet even if it is located at the town center. We tried tuk tuk and I can’t say that it were anything special, just another form of getting from point A to point B.

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Of course we looked some other things to do than just roam so we head to Tiger Cave Temple which situated at top of the mountain. We had driver who took us there and waited us while we were climbing the steps. Some of the steps were so steep that I had to really lift my legs to make it and we also made several stops on the way. But the view at top was well worth it! And the weather couldn’t be more perfect! It was little bit cloudy and windy so the heat wasn’t too bad.

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We marvelled how big of a job it must have been to build the temple and this big golden Buddha statue on top of the mountain. And we marvelled also this one grandma who walked to visit the statue like it was nothing. I hope that I will be in as good shape as she when I am in her age.
The temple area at the bottom of the mountain looked interesting too but my legs didn’t feel the same way so we opted to go back to the hotel instead of exploring. Which was a shame but I just couldn’t walk no-more!

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Our friends from back home came to see us next day and that evening we went to eat together and made plans for the following days. The restaurant got chosen for us while we were checking the menu at bottom of the stairs to this one place, we weren’t quite sure yet but the waiters picked our friends daughters strollers and carried them in.

Next day we walked quite far to this quite nice beach bar, it was near Nopparat thara beach and our hotel was maybe 1 kilometer ”inland” from Ao nang beach. And at that bar my stomach started to feel amiss. First I ignored it, my stomach is always little bit upset while abroad but at the end I had to head back to hotel. Boys stayed but our friends girlfriend with their daughter left with me so I had company on the walk back. I did get to the hotel in time but it was close call. Following night I spent with the toilet, not pleasant I can tell you. My stomach had never ached that bad! Following day boys went to pharmacy and got me some medicine. I napped and watched tv that day and the next because I didn’t dare to go far from the toilet.

At the third day (third day after my fight with my tummy) we had booked a private bus to take us to Ko Lanta. My stomach wasn’t feeling quite normal yet so I was nervous about the drive but luckily in vain. We got to the Ko Lanta alright, even if the driver was driving like a maniac! Our friend who sit in the front seat said to him several times that would he go little bit slower. At one point the driver just said that others drive that distance in 3 hours but he drive it in 2! Crazy! I have never scared so much in a car before! We made it to the harbour and after short ferry ride we were in the island where we would spend our next two days.

After some complications we get to our hotel. First they took us to one hotel which tried to find our names in their books and couldn’t. I was sure that they had just lost our booking and no problem, we would make new one, in there or if they are full or expensive then some other but we didn’t have to, they told us that there is another hotel with same name! In there we went and yes, it was our hotel! Apparently taxi drivers are not know-it-alls.

This hotels pool was better than the one in our hotel in Ao nang. I got to do couple of laps before it started to rain. In our room we had tub too but the balcony wasn’t near as nice as our ”own” hotel (our hotel in Ao nang, which name I can’t remember anymore). At that night when I was in the tub the lights went off! I got little bit scared, did that mean that there were tsunami coming? I got out from the water and looked outside, no running people anywhere so this must be normal. I got my self dressed anyway and went with others who were spending time in the other room, just in case.

We found this tree house bar which was awesome! I didn’t dare to eat or drink anything because of my stomach but we played some pool. Yes, there was billiard table up in the tree! Great! It made me feel that I really wasn’t home anymore! Couple of games later boys got hungry so we went to our friends favourite restraurant in Ko Lanta, he has been here before. Mr. Green it was called but sadly I didn’t dare to eat there either in fear of upsetting my stomach again. At the end of the night on the way back to the hotel I bought one chicken skewer which they were making outside this one bar. It was best food I have never tasted. Might be because I haven’t eat real food in days!

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At the while boys stayed at the hotel following night, we girls went to do little bit shopping. The streets were not made of asphalt but dirt, another thing to make you feel that you are away from home. And you can go outside without quilted jacket even after dark! I have been wearing strapless dress almost everyday in this holiday and I love it!
I don’t remember that we actually bought anything but we found this little book store which was absolutely perfect, I could have spend hours in there! In our way back from this shopping trip we bought banana pancakes from this lady who had this trolley with hotplate in the back of an motorcycle. She had her cute little daughter helping her serving food and I think those pancakes were best food I had in that holiday! Even better than that chicken skewer of last night.

We had still two days left of our holiday and we did not want to spend them in sitting a car, bus, airplane etc. So we booked our ride back to Ao nang to pick us up tomorrow. Our friends would be staying in Ko Lanta little while longer. I was actually little jealous of them, I liked Ko Lanta much better than Ao nang!

Morning came but the bus didn’t. We waited half hour or so in front of the hotel we were suppose to but nothing. I went inside reception and the nice woman there promised to call around and ask whats going on. Guess what, they forgot to pick us up! The bus that we were suppose to be on were already in the ferry! They sorted another one to pick us and in the end we get to the bus. This drive was way smoother than the one before! Didn’t have to fear this time. And I got ensurement that not all the thai-drivers drive like they were chased after.

So still 1,5 half day to spend! What to do? That day we went to a beach. We didn’t swim but just looked around and walked some, and watched the long-tail boats. And the idea was forming. Tomorrow we would go island hopping! I would like to see Leonardo DiCaprios Island, Mayan beach it was called. When we came from dinner we looked some of the trips and the Leo’s Island trip was one of the most expensive ones, go figures. There where including 6 or 7 islands in total and we weren’t so interested in the others so we decided thats it’s not worth the money if we are into 1/7 of the trip!

We were quite indecisives still in the next morning but after breakfast we went to the beach again and started looking a trips to go to. In the ticket office was crowding and after peek of the prices we sat down to contemplating our choices.
This western looking guy came to us and asked if we were interested to join him and his girlfriend to rent a boat to split the cost. That was perfect! He said that he would like to still find couple more to get cost even lower but he couldn’t so we headed to the boats just 4 of us. When we were already climbing to the boat the guy spotted two girls looking and went to ask them to join us. And they came! They weren’t looking for a boat ride but were up to it when the opportunity came, how cool is that? The girls were from Sweden and on a two week holiday, same as us. The couple were from Poland and Netherlands if I remember correct and they were on longer trip.

Long tail boats are the typical Thailand form of transportation at the sea, you most certain have seen a picture of them if you have seen a picture from Thailand. There is this car motor attached to a boat so the noise is equivalent of one. Not a quiet boat ride at all. The weather was good, sun was shining and the company was great. First we stopped to take a dip in this lagoon. Our boat driver steer us at ”inside” of the island. Water was warm so it didn’t cool you at all but I love to swim so it was nice! After the lagoon we went to a boat park of this same island and spent some time in the beach. I always think that I should buy a snorkel, here was the same! There were not quite coral but this rock formation under the surface and lots of fish all around which would have been nice to look ”closer”.

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From here our polish friend asked the boat driver that do we still have time to visit some other island, he would have liked to see the James Bond island but apparently it was too war away so the guy took us to Paradise Island. He must have laughed at us farangs (means outsider in thai) to go for a boat drive this time of a day. How we could have known that there was low tide just now? Paradise island must look just like paradise in a high tide but now there was this marshlike sand all around the island so we didn’t go swim from there but just walked around.

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We saw this another boat near by and our polish friend went to ask them where they were and how much their boat cost to hire. The amount was stupid in comparing to ours! We paid if I remember right, less than 10 euros of this half day so somewhere around 30 euros in total from our whole group. They had the boat for a whole day and I admit, theirs was much bigger and faster, it was one of these motorboats and it cost them several hundreds of euros!
After stopping for a little swim on this another little island we head back to Ao nang. This was by the way first day in whole two weeks that I got burned in sun! If you are wondering, it is a good thing! I usually burn my self in very first day and spend my days in agony and hiding from the sun. So it was perfect timing, tomorrow we were heading home and wouldn’t have to worry about the sun in months!

Posted by hennaonthetrek 17:00 Archived in Thailand Tagged thailand krabi kolanta aonang tigercavetemple nopparattharabeach mrgreen paradiseisland Comments (4)

Weekend in Berlin

overcast 6 °C

Friday

Berlin was a positive suprise. I didn’t have any expectations of the city before hand, this trip was a birthday gift for my little brother who wished to visit Germany. This was also first time I travel with my stepmom and little brother but I was happy to discover that we have similar pace to explore places.

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We got early flight to Berlin and had couple of hours before we could check in to our hotel so we went to little excursion.
And get lost trying to find the East Side Gallery and one really friendly old lady spot us in our need and came to ask if she could point us in the right direction. Naturally we had got off from the S-bahn way too early so back we went and this time we manage to find the right stop. And the East Side Gallery. I don’t quite know what to say or what to feel. If I hadn’t read anything about nazis or holocaust before I would say that I liked it, that it were nice to walk outside and look some street art but I had read about them and what the wall represent. Am I totally ignorant if I want to stick to the positive and enjoy the world biggest outdoor gallery?

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After the 1,3 kilometer long piece of history we started to head toward our hotel and took a short cut cross the Görlitzer park. The park would have been really nice if the weather would not be so freezing! I spotted a man practicing a tightrope walking and when he saw me watching I applauded, he was doing a great job. He smiled at me but I think he got little stage fright any way because soon he stopped. We walk to the another end of the park and little bit further before I noticed that we were walking in the wrong direction. Again!

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We decided that now would be a perfect time to go sit in the restaurant for a while. First restaurant we spotted was after the park. I had had the chance to buy some postcards earlier, so no better time than now to write them, right? I always buy and write postcards when I am abroad, there is something in it, nostalgia maybe? But I think that my granny, granpa and mom likes to get some other mail than bills. And of course I bought a card for Toni (to you who don’t already know, he is my boyfriend)! He thinks my postcard habit is silly but I wanted to buy one for him too, though I give it to him when I go home instead of sending it via mail. Yes, I know. It’s silly, But I don’t care.

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Some U-train adventuring (we might not get to the right train at the first attempt) later we got back to the hotel, in our rooms, out of our rooms and to really nice restaurant to meet some good beer and good turkey medallion. Mmmmm. Food….Beer…Yes, I might be really tired at this point. I had had maybe 2 or 3 hours of sleep last night so let me enjoy my food. And my beer.

After dinner I had one of most perfect dates of my life. Think about long day travelling and walking behind, tub full of hot water, riesling and a good book. Oh, and chocolate. Sounds really good, right?

Saturday

Today we all were more awake than yesterday. At breakfast we made our plans for the day, now we took good look at the metro map so that we wouldn’t get lost like yesterday, ahem. Still we managed to do little detour but nothing too bad. We got off the metro in near the tv-tower. We had in mind that we could maybe go up but seeing the price made us think other wise. So little bit shopping, some curry-wurst and beer. I am really relaxing, its good sometime to just be! It is the very best feeling when you know that you don’t have to be anywhere nor you need to do anything.

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We found our selves in Radisson Blu Berlin, where there was this big aquarium in the lobby. At hotel bar we got really bad service, I ordered white whine and the bartender asked where I am sitting and I pointed it to him, he told me the price but went to make drinks for others. They were before me so that was fine, but I found weird that he should tell me the price if he wouldn’t take my money. So I went to visit the toilet and after I came back he had put my wine in front of my step-mom who was waiting at the bar to get some service. The bartender had asked her that what she would like but after she had tried to order a cocktail he had told her that only after six and went a away. Rude. She had to wait quite long while that he came back to her that she could order something else. Not good place to go just for a drink. But the concierge of the hotel was great when I went to ask him about stamps.

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Bad bar lobby experience later we went to Sea life. That was great! I could watch fish swimming around for hours.
We also took a boat drive in river Spree, that would have been more nice in sunny weather but was okay anyway. The statues on that one bridge especially was great! The owl and the eagle. Photo of them would have been great too but I didn’t take any pictures on the boat.

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Somehow the clock was already 6 PM and was time to get something to eat. Food was really good and our waiter was even better in the Andy's Diner & Bar near the Sea life. My little brother choose the restaurant.
Now I have another date with the tub, I just love it!

Sunday

Also today we made our plans at the breakfast, Berlin Dungeon, Berliner Dom and Checkpoint Charlie would be on agenda today,
Berlin Dungeon was first on our list. Is it true that we could get better price buying the ticket outside than inside? Because we met this tourguide at the park outside of the dungeon and bought our tickets from him. He said that they are co-operating with different attractions around the city and they would sell the tickets cheaper. He also show us the website of the Dungeon to show us that he isn’t lying. Nice guy so we took our chances with him. I am almost certain that he was saying the truth.

At the Dungeon we were told that the next act in english is in 1,5 hours so we opted to visit the Berliner Dom while waiting. It situated near so it was an easy choice. The Dom or officially the Berliner Cathedral might be my favourite of this trip. Its magnificent. We walked the observation deck where were great view across Berlin. My stepmother was scared there though she managed to walk around the dom while clutching my brothers arm.

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Inside we got a peek the cathedral. Must sound gorgeous when the organs are played!
Below the Cathedral was a crypt where members of the Hohenzollern family are buried. Hohenzollern family ruled Preuss and Germany in years between 1400-1800.

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The Berlin Dungeon was interesting, interactive storytelling of bits of Berlin history. I especially liked the Jester at the very beginning. He didn’t tell us history but his acting skills were great!

As for the Checkpoint Charlie, I can’t really say I liked it much. There were the opportunity to take photos with US militia which I think was really tacky. We just walked by really, well at least I can say I did see it.

Not anything to do with Berlin in particular but have you noticed how everyone is glued to their smart phones? Only thing my brother complained about on this trip was how the wi-fi wasn’t fast enough in some places. I can’t understand how people travel from thousands of kilometers just to be on the internet.

We spend our last night in Berlin on nice Italian restaurant, absolutely perfect panna cotta!

Next morning sun came to see us off to the airport, it would have been nice to spend one sunny day at Berlin!

Tips

Posted by hennaonthetrek 07:04 Archived in Germany Tagged germany berlin aquarium eastsidegallery checkpointcharlie berlinerdom berlindungeon Comments (5)

I hopped on a bus

Bulgaria

sunny 24 °C

We didn’t have much of a choice about the location so it was what it was. Party place for a young people. Not my scene. And I can’t blame no-one else but me to agreeing to going there. Initially I had in mind that I would write about whole week but that would’t paint so pretty picture of my travel companions nor my writing skills (lots of swearing included) so I decided to write about that one good day.

That day didn’t start so good..We have already spent almost whole week in Sunny Beach. I set alarm early so we would have whole day to do something fun. Then the ”trouble” begin. First it was too early for my boyfriend to wake up and we had a words about it. So we went for breakfast little bit later. But both of my companions had had one too many last night and had a huge hangover. So we had few more words. And everything ended up me leaving alone. I walked straight to a bus station and asked which was first bus to leave and would there be a bus back tonight. There was so I bought a roundtrip ticket to Sozopol which would leave in 15 minutes. I didn’t know anything about the place, I hoped a little that the bus would take me to the mountains but it didn’t. Sozopol was beautiful little town 40 km or so away from Sunny Beach. And away from Sunny Beach was all I needed so I weren’t too disappointed that I didn’t end up in the mountains.

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Later I read that Sozopol is one of the oldest cities onshore of Black Sea and it has around 6 000 inhabitants.
From the bus stop I started to walk towards the old town. I walked around a little before I went to nice looking restauraunt, ordered a white wine and sat down. I drink my wine while reading a book by Colson Whitehead called Underground Railroad. Brutal, harrowing, audacious..Riveting book about severe topic. Not so much of a vacation reading but I would recommend it anyway

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After my wine I went to explore a little and ended up in new side of the town, there weren’t so much to see but I found nice little place to eat. I had shospka salad, really good!
I walked around some more but ended up in old town in a terrace in a another restauraunt, having white wine with a book. I finished Underground railroad and started Warm bodies by Isaac Marion. Different kind of book altogether. I quite liked it, you would never imagine to feel compassion for a zombie. Yes, you read right, it’s a zombie book. Don’t knock it until you tried it.

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It wasn’t all bad, I bought a awesome beach towel, we played cards in our constant beach pub and I got a good shopping experience. I bought shorts from this stall. The shop keeper give me shots while we bargain the price, we even danced with him. And I got a belt for free! Not really but I like to think that, lol. And for the rest of our stay the guy waved and smiled when we walked by. But for most parts it was beach and beer, I need little bit more than that to have a good holiday! So the Sozopol adventure made my trip!

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Posted by hennaonthetrek 03:40 Archived in Bulgaria Tagged bus bulgaria oldtown sosopol mebymyself goodday Comments (9)

Helsinki Ink Tattoo Convention

Little homeland travelling

all seasons in one day 5 °C

Thursday

This seems to be a ranting day..Must be morning shift affecting my mood..I am not an early riser, not in a long shot and in morning shifts I have to wake up at 4:30 AM. Way too early for me..
I can’t understand how I can be from north and still be freezing while I am waiting for my train to come. It’s cold! And I can’t understand how some people could be outside in weather like this (+5C and freezing wind) with their ankles bared! And I can’t understand that how I could have packed more clothes for weekend trip than on a two week holiday! I have Christmas gifts whit me too..Good thing that I don’t have to carry those presents back with me! I know, I am way way too late with Christmas presents! But my dad lives 500 km from me and I work in shifts (meaning that I have work in weekends and holidays too) and haven’t got a time to visit earlier. Hence the Santa Claus-duty in March. My mom joked that next year I could go in mid-summer and buy gifts for last Christmas and for upcoming Christmas too so I will be equally late and early with the gifts!

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I got in the train without freezing my toes off and went straight to the restauraunt car. I bought brand new super duper awesome laptop last week and took it with me! My first very own laptop! Isn’t it handsome?

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I had in my mind that I could write a little and maybe watch some Netflix if I got bored but just after I took that photo some men came in to my table and I needed to put my laptop back to bag. These guys didn’t stay long, they just drinked their beer and went back to their seats but after them came one guy who with I chatted rest of the train ride. It’s curious that we, by we I mean people from Finland, are quiet and might seem even sullen and for example if you sit next to a finn in a bus, you might sit without saying anything to each other for a whole ride. But in train you can chat with total stranger for hours. Odd.
So I am in a train going to Helsinki Ink Tattoo Convention which is this weekend. I am thrilled! We started this big leg piece last October and finally it’s going to be ready. My tattoo artist asked me if I could come to the convention to show it so she could win some prices. We decided to shift last session in there so we will get it finished tomorrow! And of course it’s going to win, it’s awesome!
At the same time I am going to visit my dad and little brothers, so good weekend coming!

Friday

This day has mostly been all about chilling. We have played Cluedo and Falling tower (read, played with Christmas gifts, lol) with my little brothers, I have been writing a little and mostly just hang out.

Helsinki Ink Convention started at this evening and we started to finish my leg piece. The atmosphere was amazing! Little crowded and noisy but great at the same time. Artists working side by side and curious guests looking around drinking beer and cider. I loved it!
There were one or two painful spots in my leg but mostly I just enjoyed the scene around me. We take couple of breaks too and I got to see around. Many of the artists and people looked and compliment my leg too! I was llittle amazed by that, there were lot other tattoos around so I didn’t stand out like I usually do (I am only one in my close circle with big tattoos) and still my leg got praised! It’s looking great but still!
I started to chat with this guy in neighbouring stall getting his arm inked. He like many others I have seen today drinked beer while they sat under the tattoo gun. I opted not to, I think that if I started drinking we wouldn’t never get my leg finished because I would need to visit the toilet all the time, lol. Time just flew by and soon (in total 50+ hours, 3-4 hour today) my leg was ready! Now I got to drink one cider before going home. Luckily my dad would pick me up so I didn’t need to hop on a tram and bus. My sense of direction is awful which is not a problem during a day, you could always ask directions or take a long route if you get lost but in night (clock was 1 AM) the local trasportation stops running at some point.
We got little late night snack at the Subway on a way back home so I went to a bed really happy girl. Awesome day!

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Outlines took 8 hours to make in our first session.
The ready picture is taken in my brothers bedroom so don't blame the backround on me! Lol.

Saturday

I got my dad lured to come to the convention with me today. Athmosphere was the same today. Dad was driving so, some ciders for me, yes! The guy who I chatted with yesterday while we were getting ink asked me (yesterday) that is my leg painful. He was asking becouse apparently I was just sitting there like nothing were going on while my tattooist did her thing. And there were some painful spots, I don’t deny it. But if I looked the same than everybody else, I really didn’t have anything to worry about. We watched around, it was peculiar to watch others get inked. We saw some spots getting ink that has to be painful but mostly nothing more than an little flinch. Mostly lots of smiles if someone saw us watching. And I got some attention to my leg today too, that is still really odd. Some came chatting too and dad said that many take a long look of my new ink while I were walking around.
Tomorrow is the Best Realistic Ink competition. Keep your fingers crossed!

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Sunday

Competition day today. In this category there were 6 of us total, or should have been but one never showed up. So 5 of us got upstage to show our tattoos to the judges, mine was only one with colour. I tought that it’s a good thing, mine will stand out and win but no. No winning. So my opinion is that the judges just didn’t like colour, but who knows. I am still one experience richer and my tattoo is ready after 7 sessions.
And on the train ride home I saw the same guy who with I chatted on Thursday so of course we started chatting again. Good weekend!

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Posted by hennaonthetrek 03:56 Archived in Finland Tagged tattoos ink inked onemorecan'thurt helsinkiink tattooconvention Comments (4)

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