Episode 33 – The Swedish Number

The Swedish Tourist Association has set up a telephone number which anyone in the world can call which – when dialled – will connect the caller to a random Swede.  (Don’t worry – you’re not interrupting someone like a telemarketer would.  Swedes download an app on to their smartphone in order to take the call.)

The campaign is encouraging people to talk to Swedes about anything – a way to celebrate the country’s 250th anniversary since the abolishment of censorship.

Since the tourist association set up the line, I figured it’d only be natural to talk to Swedes about their own country – and find out why they love where they live.

Ewan is no stranger to Canada.  He lived here for 10 months and worked as a ski bum up in the mountains in British Columbia and Alberta.  He also planted trees in Ontario.  He loves Canada’s wilderness, but has lots of great things to say about where he’s from.

Mattias encouraged us to check out Astrid Lindgren’s World – a park dedicated to the author of Pippi Longstocking.  It is located in Vimmerby, Sweden.

Richard downloaded The Swedish Number app on to his phone, but it was his friend Ahed who answered.  We had a great conversation about not only what’s great about Sweden, but also the importance of expanding our horizons on where we travel.

Finally, Ewacarin talked Swedish food, encouraging us to seek out great Michelin-starred restaurants in her country.

When it comes to selling a destination, the best spokespeople are always the everyday, ordinary folks who live somewhere.  The Swedish Number is a fantastic advertising campaign to connecting the world to the nordic nation.

In an effort to help guests save long distance fees, local dial-in numbers have been established in a number of countries to access the Swedish Tourist Association’s line.

  • United Kingdom : +442038089899
  • Denmark : +4570806160
  • Poland : +48222922333
  • USA : +13012760600
  • Brazil : +556135500700
  • Germany : +4932221096868
  • France : +33974483777
  • Netherlands : +31852085000
  • Finland : +358753266266
  • Norway : +4781511558

Otherwise, the number to call is +46 771 793 336.  Remember that long distance/airtime/all regular charges apply as this is not a toll-free number.

Somewhere Like Home

After a 10 minute hike down the road from my hostel, I arrive at the AEON Shopping Mall in Johor Bahru’s Bukit Indah neighbourhood. I know cabbies will stop along the main roadway to pickup fares, but I didn’t feel like waiting and after four nights here, I know there will always be a throng of red and yellow cars here waiting to pick up visitors to JB who have otherwise given up on the city’s lacklustre public transit system. I need a ride to the airport, and I give thumbs up to the first taxi driver who courts me.

About 20 minutes in to the 40 minute ride to Senai International Airport, a news report comes on the cab radio. There are a lot of local news stories, but Sarah Palin endorsing Donald Trump’s presidential bid also makes the cut on the newscaster’s lineup. There are a bunch of trades in English Premier League football – which is followed in Malaysia like religion. As the report concludes, the music on “Red FM” (one of a number of national English-language radio stations here) starts up.

“Hello, it’s me…”

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Tokyo is Yours

Big (But Different) in Japan

Being a Canadian, I know so much time is spent back home on the national conversation of who we are as a people and what we’re all about.  Defining our culture is so tough because we are an amalgamation of people from so many different places, sitting right next door to an economic and cultural superpower – the United States.

The Japanese – on the other hand – know exactly who they are as a people.  Visit the National Museum in Tokyo, and you don’t have to look far for evidence of a culture which pre-dates current era, with traditions that span thousands, not hundreds or tens of years.

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Getting to “No” in Japan

It’s not a stereotype – we Canadians are a profusely polite bunch. Some of us more than others. And, in some instances, we’re too polite.

I have a terrible habit of apologizing before I even know what I’ve done wrong. If I bump in to a wall and think it’s a person, I’ve blurted out “I’m sorry” before even looking to see what I came in to contact with.

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