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Feature

Direct from Estonia: NTU reporters bring tales from the Nordic city

The Going Overseas for Advanced Reporting (Go-Far) programme places budding journalists in foreign lands to get the scoop from the ground. The latest batch of Go-Far students from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication & Information return from Estonia with stories to tell

PHOTO: CHRISTY YIP

The salaries of teachers in Estonia are among the lowest in the developed world. To supplement their income, many teachers have part-time jobs in other sectors. One of them is Ms Anneli Lonks, 53 (above), who has been working as a city guide for the past 10 summers. She said: “I started because I was short on money. But it’s a good chance to practise my English and learn some history too.” - Gracia Lee


PHOTO: NICOLE LIM

Estonia is a popular destination for medical tourism, especially among patients from neighbouring countries who consider medical treatments in Estonia good value for money. In Fertilitas, a private hospital that caters to foreign patients, Dr Ilmar Kaur, 44 (above), performs gastric sleeve surgery on a patient from Finland. Dr Kaur says about 80 per cent of his patients are female, and that most come from nearby Finland and Scandinavia. - Prisca Ang

PHOTOS: NICHOLAS YEO

Every Saturday, the hipster neighbourhood of Telliskivi comes alive as hundreds of visitors arrive to shop at the city’s largest flea market. The market, which charges a rental fee of €12 each day, attracts vendors from all walks of life. For stay-home mother Ms Kroot (above), the flea market is an avenue to sell unused personal belongings for additional income. - Sean Loo


PHOTO: ESNA ONG

Hunting is big in Estonia, where half of the land is forested. While males dominate the field of 15,000 hunters, the number of females has risen over the decade. Among the huntresses is 34-year-old Triin Roostfeldt (above), who set up the Estonian Women Hunters’ Society in 2015. “Women are equal to men when they stand in a forest,” she said. “They don’t lose their feminine side either,” she added. “We still paint our nails, have red lipstick on and put mascara before we go out.” - Esna Ong & Christy Yip


PHOTOS: NICHOLAS YEO

Unshackled from the austerity of communist rule, Europe’s most wired nation is now at the frontline of a gastronomic revolution, with young chefs leading the way. One of these changemakers is Erik Tammaleht (above), the 21-year-old head chef at Kalamajakas cafe, which has been named one of Estonia’s top restaurants. Chefs are returning to their roots for inspiration, says Erik. “I have a cookbook that my grandma’s grandma gave me. It’s from the 1880s and written in old Estonian, but you can see all the ingredients are the same as what we use right now.” - Nicholas Yeo

PHOTO: ESNA ONG

Estonia is one of the first countries to allow self-driving robots on its pedestrian paths. In Estonia, the robots are used by food delivery service Wolt. Starship delivery robots have also been deployed in pilot programmes in several European countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, where they deliver food to Domino’s Pizza customers. - Sean Loo


PHOTO: ESNA ONG

Estonia’s capital city, Tallinn, remains a popular stop for Finnish tourists in search of cheap booze despite a 70 per cent tax hike on alcohol by the government last July. Suvi Vaaramaki, 24, purchased €80 worth of alcohol for a 30-person graduation party. This would have cost €200 back home in Helsinki, she says. Her 25-year-old boyfriend, Severi Tonttila, has been to Tallinn three times this summer. “It’s very easy to get here, and everything is so cheap,” he said.- Esna Ong


PHOTO: ALVIN HO

A four-woman team hikes past a wheat field during the final leg of the Admiral Pitka Recon Challenge. They had slept only three hours during the military competition, having spent the previous four days avoiding detection by opposing forces. They are from the Naiskodukaitse, or the Women’s Voluntary Defence Organisation, a subunit of the Estonian Defence League. Women are joining the league in response to global events that remind Estonians of their national vulnerability, such as the London terror attacks this year. - Alvin Ho