Brian Cheung
IMG_9798.jpg

Northbound

Thoughts, photos and anecdotes from my travels through Norway, Scotland and Finland.

Jurmo

Though the majority of my time here has been solid isolation, I haven’t completely ignored the outside world either. On Sunday evening Outi and Miika drove over with Ami the poodle for a few days down in Jurmo. As I might have mentioned earlier, the Finnish archipelago is incredibly huge. There are literally thousands of minuscule islands scattered like glitter from the southern end of the mainland. 

I had been told by more than a few locals that Jurmo was a must see, and Outi seemed totally on board as well. A great thing about Finland is that the ferry service that connects the archipelago is completely free. It makes total sense that the people living here year round shouldn’t feel restricted by ferry fares every time they need to get off their respective islands, though charging passengers is still absolutely logical to keep the boat running if the government has other priorities (looking at you Norway and Shetland). Bridges on the other hand would be expensive, potentially an eyesore, and in my opinion take away that essence of remoteness and safety that comes with living the island life. By not having bridges I think it forces people to look inward more, and not treat the place merely as a casual place to spend a few summer months each year.

Anyway, early the next morning we boarded the ferry bound for Jurmo, which conveniently leaves from the docks right next to the ferry connecting Korpo with neighbouring Nauvo. The trip was cold but calm, and we stayed cosy in a booth inside as the darkness grew to the standard wintery blue-grey. There were a few stops along the way to drop off mail and supplies to other islands, though of course it was all a lot quieter than what I imagine summer would be like. Three hours or so later we landed at Jurmo with horizontal snow blowing in from the sea. 

We walked about a kilometre to our little cabin that sat near the lone cluster of houses on the island. Jurmo isn’t massive, and I think only one family lives full time on the island. Our cabin curiously didn’t have running water or heating, but there was power to run the stove and the lights. Heat came from a central fireplace and there was a drop toilet attached to the nearby barn. Water was fetched in buckets from an old fashioned communal water pump and showers were covered by the sauna, of course. 

The next few days were quiet, cosy and relaxing. We walked from one end of the island to the other, across pebbly beaches and frozen lakes. There wasn’t much to do, but it was nice to just curl up inside with a book or my sketchbook while the snow came down outside. In the off season there aren’t any shops open so we brought all our food with us. The locals also happened to keep a small herd (5) of alpacas in the barn for some reason. It wasn’t as bizarre as camels in Norway, but still unexpected. I think they were more scared of Ami than anything, but one of them did get a bit too cocky with me on the last day when it randomly started hissing, head butting and spitting on me after I tried to feed it a carrot. 

We were obliged to stay for two nights as the ferries only run on certain days, but it felt like the right amount of time. I got back to the apartment late on Wednesday evening feeling ready to take on the last leg of this long winded adventure. 

finlandBrian Cheung