27 May 2003 - Kaivopuisto, Helsinki

The train finally got into Helsinki and we made our way to the hotel without much incident, if you don't count me leaving my reporter's jacket and handphone on the train as one. We took a taxi, rode in a Volvo and paid EUR10 for the priveliege. Taxis aren't cheap in Helsinki, but they sure are nice.

Helsinki represents a sort of pitstop for us, followed by another one later in Stockholm. The only reason why I'm zipping through these countries is because of cost. Things are not cheap in Scandanavia, but they sure are nice (just like their taxis).

Their public transport is just the best I've ever seen. It's not that large, especially since Helsinki is such a small place, but they have an intergrated public transportation system. KL City authorities, please take note: Earlier, I talked about a single ticketing system for trains travellling on different lines. Now I shall point out to you that you should actually have a single ticketing system for all forms of transportation.

This is how it works: you buy a ticket, and it lasts for a predetermined amount of time, say, an hour. Within that hour, you can use either the train, metro, bus or tram, and change between them as often as you like. You can travel as many stops as you like. The only thing you can't do is travel outside a pre-determined boundary (you need to pay a supplement to do this).

There are no conducters checking your tickets as you travel. Everything is based on the honour system. If you are caught without a valid ticket, you are fined EUR50 and the cost of the ticket. I haven't travelled the metro here yet, but I assume there are no gates stopping you from geting on or off.

The cost is a little high (EUR2 ~ RM8 for a single ride or EUR4 ~ RM16 for an all day ticket), but it's comparable to, say, the cost of a Big Mac Meal (about EUR5).

Assuming you could get a good job, it would be a nice place to live, if a little staid. However, there must be some sort of adventurous streak in the Finns. Not only have they produced Mika Hakinnen and Kimi Raikonnen, they play ice hockey with a passion, and (just because it must mean something) pornography represents 90% of their film exports. In fact, they just held a world expo on pornography last week.


posted on Friday, May 30, 2003 - permalink
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