5 Sunny days In Helsinki

Hei Hei!

Greetings from the land of the never-ending sun!

Just sharing some tips, info and photos of my current trip :)

Some basic info first:


Helsinki; Swedish: Helsingfors, is the capital and largest city of Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. Helsinki has a population of 605,523, an urban population of 1,159,211 and a metropolitan population of 1,361,506.

Some links to guides:




The country of Finland is sandwiched between two larger powers, Sweden to the West and Russian to the right, and both nations have strong influences on this country. In fact the official second language here is Swedish, with signs showing both Finnish and Swedish. English is an optional third language, but many younger people are picking up this for commercial reasons.

A basic summary of what’s good here:
If you are here in winter, it’s a fabulous place to see the Northern Lights.
The scenery is ok, but it’s best to combine it with other Scandinavian countries, as it is not the most exciting place to visit.
Food is nice and it is not as expensive as Norway or Sweden (be prepared to spend $50 for two at Macs).
If you like mountains, lakes and outdoors, it’s a nice place.
It’s also a stepping stone to visit St Petersburg, Estonia and other Scandinavian places.

Getting here involves a direct flight with Finnair, or you have to transit, eg from Frankfurt if you take SIA. Not the chpeatest place to visit, but it’s still cheaper than Norway by a large margin. Budget S$30-40 a meal if you do not want to eat Macs all the time. Or bring some cup noodles :)

Some basic travel tips:

You can get a data only card for E7.9 or use roam planning from home.
Food tends to be expensive but not as bad as the Scandinavian countries.
The trams and buses are excellent and the people are very friendly. Most will speak some English .
The city is not too big and a cab ride from the airport takes about 20 minutes and 40 Euros. Their public transportation system is superb, with trams, trains, and the metro. Add cabs and free bicycles in your hotel, it’s fantastic. The terrain is flat and easy to move around. One thing you will notice is how clean their trains are, with no rubbish, or graffiti. In fact you hardly notice any litter, unlike Singapore where despite the proliferation of rubbish bins every ten metres, you still see litter all over. 

Many hotels offer free bicycles for you to ride around:

For such a small city, you have many travel options, and there are these toilets in the metro, where you press the flush system and it will not only flush but spray water out to wash your hands. But it requires some coordination otherwise you might do the wrong thing and end up washing your hands in the water used to flush the toilets!

The trains also go out in to the region, and you buy a pass which covers the city or the regional pass, rather than a strictly by distance kind of system. Furthermore, you can get the Helsinki Card for unlimited travel and visits to the museums and other attractions. (https://www.helsinkicard.com/)

The other thing you notice is that they use Mercedes for their cabs! Typically an E Class but sometimes a C class or B class. Some are station wagons, and many cars here use diesel.

As for cars, you get a variety of auto and manuals, and most use the auto start-stop function. I guess with minimal jams, and long distances, it’s ok, compared to the harsh traffic we have locally.

You do get a large variety of Conti makes here, and the odd Jap / Korean car, but you do get some pretty nice cars here, probably because they are still cheaper than our prices by far despite the high tax rates (close to 50%) and VAT of 25%.

Fuel costs around the same here, due to high taxation.

Hatchbacks and station wagons outnumber sedans by far.

I had some time to explore the surrounding region, and I went to the Nuuksio National Park, and there was a SUV proving ground :

The days are long here, and the skies never really get dark; this is what it looks like at 11pm:

Of course when you visit a new place, you look out for the local food and it's not all fermented herring here..

This white perch is really awesome!

The restaurant is floating on a lake:

It also does nice desserts:

For good oysters and seafood at the Kamppi Centre (which also has funky toilets):

This makes your regular fish and chip shop weep… and it wasn’t too expensive - < S$20

And we won’t miss talking about their coffee too:

Their Old Market Hall has some nice seafood too:

Looks like a curry puff, but it’s perch in a dough..

And more seafood at their harbor:

With a carnival atmosphere:

The salmon was really good

How about some reindeer:

And good bread:

And more cars:

And that's what I look like when it was time to go home:

Looks like a good year for Toyota and Borneo

A few months back, if someone asked me what the top ten sellers' list will look like, I might have said that it was going to be pretty similar to the last year's one, some Toyotas, Hondas, plus a Merc or two and some Koreans..

Well since then, the VES now looms, and the models available have also changed. But more importantly, the prices of newly introduced ones threaten to shake up the establishment. Well one big one anyway: The Toyota Harrier.

The mid range SUV choices were going to be either Conti ones from VW, Jap and Thai ones, plus some Koreans, and if you like the Marque, the smaller GLA too.

If you like the Harrier, you had to bring it in yourself, or choose another model. And you only get the 2l NA version, which is by no means fast. Economical perhaps, but it won't give you that spirited drive. For that, you needed to go for the VFM FXT from Subaru. That is one reliable, albeit utilitarian SUV, with a true AWD, and a FC to match. But it was truly cheap, for what it offered, and you will need to be careful of your speed for it can really go.

Now with one fell swop, at 150k or so, the Harrier will make the incoming CRV and CX5 look expensive, and may even be worth a look for those who don't want a Chinese or Malaysian made Volvo XC60. It is also a close relation of the Lexus models, so it does carry some snob appeal and will take sales from the GLA or even X3.

I can't imagine a happier Borneo manager. It now has two sedans: the Corolla and Camry which can take the top ten ranks, And a SUV. Add on sales for the still popular Wish, this is a good year for Toyota. 

Just months back, it was retrenching and despite the good sales volumes, people wondered if the ultra conservative designs and the more wild but expensive CHR could sell. Now you have the answer. People who want conservative cars which are simple to run, even if they do not have all the latest gadgets can buy two sedans. The Camry actually looks decent, in an American kind of way. It won't appeal to me with the long nose and low slung body, but it may persuade the non-towkays to give it a shot.

For the family man, the Corolla still reigns supreme and as the sole sedan with no tax burden after the introduction of the VES, it may be Hobson's choice for many, especially since it will now feature more airbags and safety features.

If you have a bit more cash and aspire to a non-sedan form factor, the Harrier is a sweet ride. It won't make the true petrol heads happy perhaps, but it has that bit of dash, panache and feature set to make you part with your money.

If that still doesn't work, there's always Lexus or the electric car options.

What about the rest?
Well with the VES tax looming, there are stocks to be cleared, new models to come in, and the menu of choices will be dramatically different in the coming year. Some models will exit and yet perhaps, some companies with no cars that fit the new emission standards will also fall by the wayside.

But I for one, and betting on a top five finish for Toyota cars, and the top volume retailer for 2017. 

All in all, the latter half of 2017 is looking pretty fine for Toyota and Borneo. 


 I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

Mercedes Stockists

Gallop Autoparts
3 Pemimpin Drive #02-05, Lip Hing Industrial Building Singapore 576147
Tel : (65) 6258 7203 Fax : (65) 6258 7395
Email : gallop@pacific.net.sg web: http://www.gallopaut.../contactus.aspx
Monday - Friday : 9am - 6pm Saturday : 9am - 1pm (Shop Open Sat but they don’t sell parts as Sat is their days stock take etc) Sunday & Public Holidays : Closed
Min Ghee Auto Pte Ltd
8, Jalan Lembah Kallang, #01-01 Min Ghee Building, S339564
Tel: (65) 6298 3888 (15 Lines) • Fax:(65) 6297 0863 •
Email: info@minghee.com web: http://www.minghee.com
Mercedes Benz Department
Mr Ong Hai Choon
Tel No.: (65) 6298 9627 Fax No.: (65) 6294 1450
Goldenlink Auto Oversea enquiries Email : enquiry@goldenlink.com.sg
Kaki Bukit Branch 1 Kaki Bukit Road 1 01-43 Enterprise One S(415394)
Tel: 6749 9323
Waterloo Street Branch
Blk 261 Waterloo Street #01-30 Singapore 180261
Tel:6337 1133 6337 1134
Sin Min Autocare Branch Block 176 Sin Ming Drive #02-19 Sin Ming Autocare Singapore 575721
Tel:6553 1101 6553 1201
Surpass Auto Parts Supplies Pte Ltd
Mr Lim
KB Industrial Building #01-33 10 Kaki Bukit Road 1 (S)416175
Tel: 67476016
Hup Soon Tat Auto Trading 
Blk 685 RACE COURSE ROAD #01-334 S(210-685) 
Tel:62947100 / 62947600
Email: hupsoontat@pacific.net.sg 

Premier Auto Parts Pte Ltd
Blk 32 Sin Ming Drive #01-335 Singapore 575706
Tel: 6458 7833
Tye Soon Limited
3C Toh Guan Road East Tye Soon Building S608832
Tel : (65) 6567 8101 (Sales)
Email : tyesoon1@singnet.com.sg
Another Town Office branch at: (Majority Merc Original Parts, not so much OEM parts)
Blk 261, Waterloo Street #01-31/37 Waterloo Centre, Singapore 180261
Tel: 6336 6439
Chua Auto Supply
138 Owen Road
Tel: 63920758
Eng Soon Auto Pte Ltd (Only sell OEM parts)
1090,1092,1094 Serangoon Road, Spore 328192
Tel: 6291 7775
Website: www.engsoon.com.sg

Min Hoe Auto Supply Co at 

572 Serangoon Road 
Singapore 218187

Tel:+65 62922857

Fax:+65 62956625


Wonder Woman - movie review

Wonder Woman - movie review


When you compare the fortunes of the studios that base their movies on Marvel versus DC comics, you see a rather different series of outcomes.

Barring a couple of less than sterling box office outings by the Wolverine / X Men series, the Marvel Universe has been consistently making good money, and they have been garnering some good reviews in the process.

However, on the other side, in the DC Universe, the last movie that had good reviews was the Dark Knight, and that was a long time back in the movie making world.

You would think that Superman and Batman are sure bets, given their popularity with comic readers. So it was a surprise that the movies based on these superheroes fared rather poorly, especially the newer Batman vs Superman outing. The common theme is Zack Snyder. He made 300 and Watchmen, and that made him famous enough for the studios to handle the responsibility of bringing Batman and Superman to life. However his directing has been dark, onerous and it does not help that Ben Affleck is a bulky but slow Batman, and the angst filled stories have been difficult hard to digest.

So it was with a great relief when I read that the studios were going with a different director for Wonder Woman (WW). Patty Jenkins did Monster, and that effort garnered Charlize Theron an Oscar. So we know she can do complex shows with lots of emotion. But can she handle one of the most iconic superheroes, and probably the most popular woman in pop culture?

Firstly the casting has been perfect. Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman. As much as Christopher Reeve was the definitive Superman, Gal has done something which many women could not: she has managed to persuade us that someone other than Lynda Carter could step into that outfit and make us believe a princess of the Amazonian tribe lives amongst us. No doubt, her experiences as an instructor in the Israeli Army made her quite believable as a soldier. She wields the sword and shield with great aplomb, and the physical training has paid off.

Now make no mistake, we do not have a MMA champ trying to look lady-like. Here is a Miss Universe, who can kick ass, whilst looking fabulous in an evening gown, even one with a sword sticking out of the back.

She is at once tough, caring and yet vulnerable and innocent. You can see the guys all watching with great interest as she first steps onto the WWI battlefield and fends off the Krauts, inspiring the Allied forces to win on a battlefield which has been at a stalemate for a year, costing millions of lives. Yet in the final scene, she can look vulnerable, and I am sure there was a tear or two amongst both men and women in the audience during the final farewell.

Not often will a female superstar, who looks good, and fights well, will appeal to both members of the sex in the viewing public.

But a great Wonder Woman also needs a man who can match her on screen. Honestly I thought George Clooney in his younger days or a Gregory Peck might have made a good match, and I wonder if Chris 'Star Trek' Pine could do the same. But he surprised me and did well as the romantic interest, who only locked lips with Miss Israel, but added a certain dimension to the show, making us think about what we think of war and mankind. Not bad for a superhero flick.

As for the plot, well it could have been tighter, and the 141 minute runtime was a tad long if you ask me. There is plenty of action, with humor interspersed in between, giving a certain lightness missing from the past DC outings. The leads have excellent chemistry and the setting helps.

Are there things I didn't like? YES! Firstly the CGI was disappointing for such an expensive production. Come one, the CGI from the 1996 Jurassic Park looked better. It didn't help that there was a trailer from the latest Transformer just before the show began. That movie franchise showcases how good CGI can make the interaction between humans and CGI objects look seamless, even in daylight. Here, in the fight sequences, especially those at night at the airport, look really fake, especially the movements of Wonder Woman. Certain scenes felt forced, like the attempt at her cuddling a baby, the woman's rights parts and the fish out of water stuff.

Surround and action fans will be pleased. The surrounds and bass are active throughout the movie and this should be a solid demo disc when the Blu Ray comes out.

But all in all, a solid outing and I hope this effort persuades DC to ditch Zack.


Food joy kitchen

Simple decor but the prices are reasonable and the food isn't bad. Parking is easy and the place is kid friendly too.