Sivu 32

RUKA iN a NutshEll: Skiseason lasts from October to June, with more than 200 skiing days annually 20liftsand 5 chair lifts including the highspeed RukaExpress 29slopes Altitudevariation 201 metres, peak at 492 metres, longest slope 1300 metres The Changzhou group is made up of entrepreneurial families, whose companies work in sectors ranging from ship turbines to chemicals and construction. The same group has made holiday trips to Australia, Malaysia, Central Europe and the US. Planning for their visit to Finland began half a year ago during an evening event hosted by the Changzhou Chamber of Commerce. The group became enthusiastic about the idea as textile manufacturer Zhou Jinchi and his wife Ma Rongjuan (also known as Mrs. Ma) told them about their summer holiday in Kuusamo, on the border of Finnish Lapland. They decided that they had to experience Ruka's mountainous landscape in winter. SANTA SPEAKS CHINESE The Finnair flight is ready to go. Fortunately, the flight time of just over nine hours passes Visiting Kuusamo is like diving into a fairytale. pleasantly as the group watches movies, listens to music and reads guidebooks. From the start, Mrs. Ma has been the group's unofficial leader. She has arranged visas, flights and activities according to people's desires. On their wish list is crossing the Arctic Circle and meeting Santa Claus; a visit to the icebreaker Sampo; seeing Kemi's Snow Castle; going to a reindeer ranch; taking ski lessons at Ruka; and experiencing dogsled rides, a snowmobile safari and ice fishing. "We found plenty of information on the internet," says Mrs. Ma. "We also got maps and guidebooks to Finland; we definitely wanted to stay in cabins in Kuusamo rather than hotels." They also decided to spend the longest block of their time ­ four days in a row ­ in Kuusamo. Kuusamo was designated in advance as the highlight of the trip, but the most photographs 32 BLUE WINGS NOVEMBER 2009

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