Thursday, January 29, 2009

Far North: Northern Lights in Abisko

1400km north of Stockholm, 17 hours train ride, I was anxious, but nonetheless felt excited about the coming body freezing experience. Where we got the negative of our equator temperature, meaning we have a negative sign, for instance, -24 deg C...

Layers and layers of winter clothing... just to prevent us dying in the cold.

What we saw there? What was it that we were dying to see? I never realize the phenomenon is actually one of Nature's Seven Wonders! Dancers in the northern night sky, but the one we saw was rather calm...

It's entirely up to your luck, whether the dancers in the dark are in the good mood to show you the wonder.

Another memorable experience, getting lost in national park? In this kinda temperature? To add salt to the wound, the sun set at 2.30pm here in the north. BS and me just lost the sight of the sign that should guide us back, and using only my phone's torch light to lit the footprints which was hardly visible in the snow. No sign of life at all was around us in the wilderness, not in this frozen forest...

Battery was running out soon, the torch would die out, and the light would fade away soon. Where were the others? Did they inform the turistation that we could not make it back? I thought it was impossible for us, to get lost here. My heart started to beat faster, using the dim torch, following the trails of ski or snow mobile, believing that they must lead us to the main trail. Soon I heard voice, calling my name, but no, it wasn't BS, it was surreal. Never mind and I got no mood to be bothered by it.

About 5 minutes later, we saw sources of light from 200m away. Promptly, I waved my last bit of handphone torch, but I forgot how to use SOS. 2 Spanish came to our rescue, so that we wouldn't have to starve inside the forest, wouldn't have to freeze, and wouldn't have to die.

Thank god we found you guys!!!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Far North: Ice Hotel

Artic light, aurora borealis, Mother of Pearl, so lucky to see them all.

Got a few requests, about Ice Hotel. Ice Hotel was one of the reasons Kiruna visitors must take a day off their dog-sledging, skiing, aurora-hunting, and take a bus to nearby town of Jukkasjärvi. Beautiful small town, or should I call it a village?

Built from ground every year from the ice of Torne River of Jukkasjärvi. Yea, this is the river where they got you the Ice Glass in the infamous Absolut Ice Bar! Yea, Absolut, the alcohol of Swedes plus the world-famous art piece Ice Hotel!

Refill a few times and it'll melt away. Smart strategy and heard from the guide that the glasses are being produced in the count of millions here from Torne River and distribute to the Ice Bars of the whole world.

Entrance fee was 150 SEK, or RM75 or SGD 30. Expensive but definitely worth the price. The hotel opens phase by phase, when we were there half of the ice hotel was already completed. The art suites(too beautiful to sleep inside) like the one I posted above are gems to the eye but not all are completed. Therefore the best time to visit Ice Hotel should be around March to May where there are more sunlight and more complete structure.

To elaborate more on the art suites, every year they invite or rather, the artists apply to come and after some selection process, the selected artists gather around and start working, carving on the ice and let their imagination and creativity run wild. Each art suite bears a title and theme by a single artist. For example, the heading picture of the art suite is "Hoshi to Tsuki", or "Stars and Moon" by a Japanese artist.

Lost Paradise

Apple Tree (I forgot the exact name)

The Queen

Exploding Sun

Untitled (I can't remember the name of this one)

Time for prayer? Get closer to God in this ephemeral Ice Hotel Church which is a disjointed structure from the Ice Hotel here. Many people crowd over here to have their eternal vows heard by the god. Cold it is, but the warmth of the prayers shall keep them warm. Imagine, having a marriage here in the temperature of minus 20 to minus 0.

Some art pieces of Ice Hotel art suites, taken by my humble little 400D and kit lens.

Feed your curiousity on how they build the Ice Hotel from scratch every year, go to How Stuff Works - Ice Hotel!

So, before concluding our one short day enjoying the views of Ice Hotel, we were actually surprised by another natural phenomenon when we came out of Ice Hotel... The Mother of Pearl! Min must have hated me very much because she couldn't see Northern Lights when she came and she thought seeing this Mother of Pearl was great enough but we had both... ha ha.

Mother of Pearl - Not just beautiful sunset! Too bad my skill and lens not so good. Notice the colour of pearl, the pink bordering the whites and purple... I don't know how to describe...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I wish I am a Swede

Haven't bid a proper goodbye to Sweden here. 10 hours flight from Stockholm Arlanda, the weather was so good, as usual, golden sun rays and evening directional light poured over the beautiful city.

Below, photos dedicated to the nice, but introvert(?according to other Europeans?) Swedes. Although I did not get to know many of them but they are definitely those that give me the best impression among Europeans.

Definitely, will go back again, if there is any chance.

Yea, I wish I am a Swede, but still, it's good to be Asian, a Malaysian too!

P/S: I have learnt some valuable lessons here, be appreciative, I am already very lucky, very lucky indeed.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chapter New, Reluctant

Yea... the new chapter in my life, began on 12th January, or 10th?

Internship in Agilent (welcome to ask me what it is).

Luckily the weather is not so hot and I did not feel like I am in an oven despite staying in a fridge for a long time.

Bye bye Sweden.