Backpacking

Finnish Sauna Experience

The people of the North are no ordinary folk.

Their idea of relaxation: dipping in freezing water after heats in a steaming-hot sauna.

This is truly something else than a trip to the nearby spa! Sauna is the essence of Finnish tradition and culture. 

 

In Finland, most houses and apartments have a sauna and it's used many times a week. When a family or group of friends go to sauna together; everyone is naked. But this is not a rule; you can always wear a bathing suit or towel and this also applies when men and women go to sauna together. 

There is no set time to staying in sauna: the only rule is that stay as long as it feels good. Between the heats you can go cool off outside; go swimming or rolling in the snow. You can always return back to the sauna. And you can repeat this cycle as many time as you want! And always remember to throw water on the stove, also the electric heated one.

The steam, called "löyly" is the spirit of the Finnish sauna.

Sauna also has great health benefits: it is a relaxing and rejuvenating experience for the body and mind. It cleanses skin pores, alleviates aches and pains and helps you sleep more soundly. Sauna is suitable for everyone, from small children to grandparents!  

For travellers, a great first Finnish sauna experience is waiting in Ruka-Kuusamo area in Lapland. There you can experience true Wellbeing in Wilderness. Part of the programme is the unique SAUNATOUR with nine different sauna experiences to choose from. For example a Finnish smoke sauna, traditional lakeside sauna, Ice Sauna, Ski-In Sauna, Saunayoga or sauna with Sauna Therapy Treatments. Unlike any other spa around the world, these treatments are a social event. Together in the sauna we make scrubs and mask from the Lappish wild herbds and traditional Finnish remedies, like peat and tar. 

The key idea of SAUNATOUR is that it's always guided! Your Sauna Guide welcomes you to the sauna and tells you about Finnish sauna culture and why it is so important to Finns. Sauna Guide also shows what to do in the sauna.

By experiencing what Finnish sauna is all about; you will understand this peculiar nation much better, too!

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Activities You Weren’t Expecting to Do in Hainaut, Belgium

In this article we are exploring the activities available in the province of Hainaut, the Westernmost province of Wallonia.

Belgium is a country known well for its culture, tradition, food and beer. At least for me it is anyway. We’ll be covering all of these in other articles and videos, so watch out for those.

But first, we start with the...

 

Activities in Hainaut, Belgium:

Getting There

From the UK, Hainaut is easiest reached by plane to Brussels, or overland by car from the neighbouring countries. Most of the cities and towns in Hainaut, such as Mons, Charleroi and Chimay are connected by regular trains running direct from Brussels Airport. For this trip, we were based in Mons, which is the most central town for exploring Hainaut, and we hired a car.

 

Getting Active

It certainly wasn’t something I had associated with Belgium, but I was overwhelmed by the amount of activities on offer in this region, and we weren’t even exploring in summer! I’ve focused on just a few, all of which are featured in the video above.

 

Indoor Skiing

We headed to the Ice Mountain Adventure Park, where the first activity we tried was Indoor Skiing, on real snow! Yes, that’s right, I thought you could only find that in the mountains.

The snow is made from the process of water being sprayed and cooled at lightning speeds, meaning there’s always a thick layer of snow. You don’t have to travel over to the mountains to ski on real snow, brilliant.

Ice Mountain has two slopes to chose from, one for beginners and one for the more experienced, with the beginner’s slope having an easy roll carpet to get you to the top. There’s even small jumps and a rail grind to try on the more advanced slope.

Prices for adults start from €17 for an hour or €42 for the day, and there are monthly subscriptions and weekend offers (such as 2 hours for €25 plus spaghetti Bolognese) available too. Lessons are available from €55 and you have the choice of private or group lessons, with all the equipment available to hire too.

For me, I love to ski so to have this available for a quick stint of skiing is brilliant, and after you can enjoy a Belgian beer and a bite to eat in the restaurant, which overlooks the slopes.

 

Indoor Skydiving

I’ve never tried indoor skydiving, and if I’m completely honest it’s never been high on my list. That’s because on paper, it doesn’t look like that much of a thrill, and I’m a real adrenaline junkie! I was so wrong.

As I casually sat in the briefing listening to the safety precautions, I realised that this is pretty crazy, and I had to pay attention. Don’t get me wrong, the instructor is always there to make sure you don’t get blown away, and there is a second person controlling the fan speed.

I watched the others before me, and honestly my heart was racing. Especially after you see a couple of people struggling to keep their balance, and let’s face it, mine was being filmed for our video! It was then my turn and before I knew it, I was flying! Now I guess a weightless hovering is a more accurate description, but it was brilliant.

I found you really must focus on only making subtle movements otherwise your balance is off, and you’ll crash into the side. So, once you master the skill it’s a real buzz to be effectively floating in the air whilst people watch on with a coffee in their hand! Then the most fun part is when the instructor grips you and whizzes you around and up and down. Far more of an adrenaline rush than I expected.

Prices start at €59 for two flights (children €49) and up to €119 for 5. This price includes all the safety equipment and your detailed lesson before you head to the wind tunnel.

 

Battle Karting

Battle Karting can only be described as a cross between regular go-karting and the video game Super Mario Kart! It all takes place in electric karts controlled by sensors linked to the game, you race around a track that’s projected onto the floor from above. Your position on the track, in the race and in respect to other karts is determined by the software behind the game. It should prevent you from crashing! Sounds intriguing right? Well it is, and it’s also a lot of fun.

After a briefing and introduction to the different games and rules, you jump in the karts and away you go. Our first race was a typical circuit format, where you race each other around the track, but with a twist! There are several bonuses to pick up along the way, such as turbo boosts, rockets to shoot down opponents, and even a bonus to leave a puddle of oil to slow down your opponents.

My next favourite game was Battle Snake, where you pick up fruits to lengthen your tail, a bit like the old game of snake on your phone. You can’t cross anyone else’s snake and the winner is the person with the longest tail! Other games involve a virtual football pitch where you hit the ball in the oppositions net and covering the grid in your teams’ colour.

Each game has points allocated to the winner, and an overall winner is crowned. I can honestly say, as a keen go-karter, I wasn’t expecting this to be such great fun! Prices start at €6 for 5 minutes up to €36 for 30 minutes, it’s located close to the town of Mouscron and only 20 minutes from Lille.

 

Walking

We passed a lot of open countryside and beautiful forest begging to be explored. But from the village of Ellezelle, you can walk the inviting 6km starting at the Maison du Pays des Colline. “Le Sentier de l’Etrange” is a really enjoyable and not challenging walk, which passes art sculptures by the artist Watkyne, all in the breathtaking surroundings of the green Hainaut countryside. These sculptures make for a great photo and add a new element of enjoyment, ensuring you take in each one.

Apparently, every year there are more added, meaning it’s worth coming back to find the new ones.

 

PASS Science Park

Our next activity was exploring PASS Science Park, which has a number of interactive exhibitions for old and young to discover science and learn something new. It’s located in Wallonia, just a short journey from Mons. Interestingly, PASS is also a regeneration project built in an area of Hainaut known for its coal mines, in fact there used to be hundreds of coal mines here. Some of the coal mining history is recognised inside, and it still represents the shape of the old coal mining building.

You’ll also find several special exhibitions and workshops, mostly put on for education or art purposes. I was impressed with the outside, you can learn about how the landscape was formed from the “slag heap”, which has now been colonised by plants! Finally, there’s a network of tracks and studded paths to explore by bike, with a variety of interesting artwork along the way.

You can buy tickets to PASS online, and they are a reasonable €15 for adults, €10 for 6-18 year olds and free for children under 5 years.

 

Triobalade Tour of Mons

For a unique way to explore the city of Mons, I really recommend you try the Triobalade. It’s basically a tour for 1, 2 or 3 people on a three wheeling Tuk Tuk! You can choose a tour length from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Our driver Ludo gave us a fantastic tour which included the Grande Place, information about the Legend of the DouDou, and myths about the city, including why you should rub the bald monkey’s head with your left hand. For more information about the culture of Hainaut, make sure you watch our other video and article.

 

So tell me, were you expecting that there was this much to do in Hainaut? I know I certainly wasn’t.

It was a pleasant surprise, that on top of the things I was expecting, such as the amazing culture and beer, there was something more. Something to please us adrenaline junkies, somewhere to escape to go skiing, on real snow, some beautiful nature and a place to let out the inner child in you (on the Battle Kart field!).

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Beautiful Attractions in Bali You Should Not Miss

Bali is one of the most beautiful tropical destinations in the world.

Hence, it comes as no surprise that the nation also happens to be one of the planet’s most sought-after tourist destinations. 

There are several reasons why you should visit Bali and we list them here.

 

Here are Several Beautiful Places That You Should Not Miss Visiting in Bali:

Tanah Lot 

This is quite an enigmatic place to visit, and will definitely prove to be a most peculiar yet fascinating sight. It is a natural rock formation that has been modified to be used as a temple.

It is believed that the temple was built in Bali, sometime during the 16th century by a mystical religious figure in local Hindu mythology called Dang Hyang Nirartha.

He discovered the rock formation while travelling the southern coast, and after being amazed at its beauty decided to settle there and eventually construct a temple which remains to this very day.

It is now a prominent tourist attraction. 

 

Mount Batur

This active volcano is iconic of Bali, and is situated towards the north-west of Mount Agung. It can be found at the centre of two craters.

One of the most remarkable aspects of this locale would be the spectacular lake that is situated within one of the calderas on the south-eastern side.

The volcano last erupted in the year 2000, and instead of being a place to avoid, it amazingly transformed into one of the island’s most prominent tourist destinations.

There are many villages to be found around the volcano as well, where you can explore the culture of the Balinese. 

 

Garuda Wisnu Kencana 

This beautiful cultural park is a hallmark of Bali and is situated just a few kilometres away from the Ngurah Rai International Airport. The entire park is devoted to Vishnu, the Hindu god, and his mount Garuda as well.

One of the main attractions of the park is the massive statue of the mystical bird, Garuda, that has been measured to be almost 30m taller than the Statue of Liberty.

There are many things to do in this park as well.

By visiting the Wisnu plaza you can check out some Balinese theatre, or explore a range of shops and restaurants by walking along the Street Theater. 

 

Bali Safari and Marine Park 

A visit to the legendary Bali Safari and Marine Park is absolutely essential if you find yourself here.

This is bound to be an unforgettable experience for the entire family, as it combines elements of a theme park as well as a zoo.

In addition to being able to see a range of exotic animals in their natural surroundings, you can also explore the on-site water-park, or check out some traditional Balinese performances. 

 

Uluwatu

If you’re a fan of exotic beaches you would have definitely heard about Uluwatu.

Situated along the western tip of the Bukit Peninsula, Uluwatu is widely believed to be one of the world’s finest surfing destinations.

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Top Salads to Try in Ly Son, Vietnam

Garlic salad, seaweed salad and jellyfish salad are delicious and nutritious foods that you can easily find in the restaurants on Ly Son Island.

Ly Son has fresh raw materials with a cheap price for processing so salads are suitable for eating in summer.

 

Three Salads you Should Try in Ly Son

Garlic salad

This salad surprises visitors by not only having shrimp but also with the garlic being the main ingredient. Picking up a thick piece of pancake and adding a pinch of garlic salad on it to dip in chilli sauce will bring you the unique taste that you cannot find in other foods.

Garlic which is used for processing is the male garlic without stalks, only the elongated tubers.

You need to skip roots and tops, and just use the stem of the garlic to soak and clean. Boil it and then, take it out and let it really cool. This part of the garlic is then mixed with herbs, roasted peanuts and some sugar. When eating, prepare a bowl of spicy sauce.

 

Seaweed salad

This is not only an idyllic dish in the meals of Ly Son people, but also a specialty that tourists should try when traveling to the island. With the coral belt surrounding the island, there are numerous seaweeds around. This marine plant species have many different colors and salty and slightly fishy tastes, but are rich in nutrition.

Seaweed with small stems are said to have a higher nutritional value.

Fresh seaweed just picked up from the ocean should be soaked in water several times. Cut the seaweed into pieces and mix with basil, chilli garlic sauce, lemon juice and spices. Mix well, then sprinkle with roasted peanuts on top.

You can mix with the dried beef or shrimp for a more attractive look, however only seaweed is enough to become "one piece for long-lasting memory" for diners from afar. A handful of fresh seaweed dipped in the salty braised fish sauce is the right way to enjoy this dish.

 

Jellyfish salad

Clear, soft and tough jelly fish combined with sour and crunchy green mango slices, with flavors of basil and roasted peanuts is a simple but strangely tasty salad.

Jellyfish salad is not the specialty in Ly Son but is still cheap, so you should try one while visiting the island.

Because fresh jellyfish are soaked in acrid green banana water, it is not watery. Moreover, this salad does not require a complicated cooking method so you still keep the jellyfish naturally sweet. 

The sauce to add into the salad is a mixture of fish sauce, chilli and fried onions.

 

This idyllic dish makes the summer heat seem to disappear, especially for those who enjoy both the salad and the sea breeze in Ly Son.

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Nitecore NU32 Rechargeable Headlamp Review

The Nitecore NU32 is a high powered (max 550 lumens) rechargeable headlamp with white and red lightning modes. It has two control buttons and fairly straightforward control logic, that cycles through its different options so you can actually remember how to use it in the field. But the feature I like the best about this …

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When Do You Need to Carry Snowshoes for Winter Hikes?

Snowshoes are heavy, weighing between four and five pounds a pair, so most winter hikers are happy when they don’t have to carry them on a winter hike. But how can you tell when they won’t be needed? This is a question that vexes many winter hikers. When you add up all the gear, clothing, hot …

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It’s Going to be My Dream Come Thru

Over the past few months, I have started sharing my plans to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (the AT) with friends, family, coworkers, and basically anyone who will listen to me talk. The more I share, the more questions I’m asked. “How long is the trail?” About 2,190 miles. “How long will it take you?” If I do it all, four to seven months. “Are you taking a gun?” No. “Will you smell really bad?” Yes.
I tend to get similar questions over and over, ...

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Pilgrimage: The PCT as a Spiritual Journey

Pilgrim: a person who journeys to a sacred place for religious reasons.
This concept has been floating around in my head for about a year. After doing some pretty transformative work with a life coach, one of the major things he mentioned was going on pilgrimage. He went on and on about how important a pilgrimage is in a person’s spiritual journey and whatnot.
I nodded, not necessarily unconvinced, but unmoved. I didn’t feel inclined to any particular direction. ...

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