It was the 26th February, the year of 2014.
Like trickles of glacial water, the team members slowly made their way to Terminal 1 at Changi Airport, some looking fresh while others appearing tired from a full day of work. It was characteristic of a Singapore Trekker Photography trip, this red-eye flight arrangement. Seasoned members would be almost unfailingly found gathered at the kopi tiam up on the second floor, patiently waiting for the arrival of the tour leader while sipping a kopi-O.
|Norman & Carren relating their taxi story to Michelle.|
I couldn't remember precisely what happened. I couldn't recollect when and where we agreed to go on a photography trip to Iceland. I never knew I would one day step foot on the famed Land of Ice., even less so for the main purpose of chasing the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). Life was unpredictable, the way it dished you surprises. Somehow when it came to cycling and sporting events and photography trips, I had always been
|Leng Zhai strutted in...|
"We will need high ISO for the aurora borealis," reminded Kai Sing.
Shit. How I wished I could just bring one lens one rangefinder. Reluctantly out from the dry boxes came our Canon DSLRs'.
"Ok, Dar. Each of us will have one DSLR body and a Ultra Wide Ange 16-35mm, and a 70-200mm. We will also bring our extenders. In addition, you will have a point and shoot, and I will bring the Leica with the old Canon 50mm f/1.2."
So it had been decided thus. We needed to bring a minimal of equipment.
|We were very lucky to have gotten the extra legroom seats.|
Eddy took this shot of us.
Fate has been such that Serene and I hadn't touched our trusty DSLR's for the longest time due to our indulgence in sporting activities. Excitement mounted and old fond memories came back as only weeks before the trip, Serene and I ran through the checklist of photographic equipment to bring, and refreshed ourselves on how to shoot with our DSLR's. A week before, Adrian managed to herd the whole gang down to Orient Photo where I bought my Kenko 9-stop screw-on filter and an extra 1DsMkIII battery. We were set for the trip.
Weather & Everything else Icelandic
|"It's so HOT!" exclaimed Carol|
and she started stripping.
|And acted like a very|
pretty Korean baby...
This is one of the kindest men around.
"Bring Euro to change to Icelandic Krona in Rekjavic," reminded the tour leader. "We will be flying a three-sector flight from Singapore-Helsinki, and Helsinki to Oslo after a long 7 hour transit, and then finally from Oslo to Reykjavik. So remember to bring your cold wear on board."
|OOF. But heck lah. It is the moment that counts.|
Naught. Got out of Helsinki airport.
This three sector flight was really quite fun for me at least, being a non-frequent-flyer. In one fell swoop I got to be in Helsinki (Finland), Oslo (Norway) and finally Reykjavic (Iceland). And the 5.90 Euro (S$10.25) all you can eat buffet breakfast in Helsinki airport was also unforgettable.
|Acting cool in Oslo.|
|Adrian struggling to the bus with his|
big bag of groceries from Singapore.
"Hey, it's not that cold let!" I declared, a tad prematurely.
"Yah, it's actually quite alright ah," announced Adrian.
As we walked along the partially covered walkway, the wind began to blow at us.
"Brrrrrrrrr… it's cold!" cried Serene, hastily pulling out her scarf and wrapping it around her face. Here in Iceland, one does everything oneself. We all pushed out own luggage to the tour bus not far in the carpark, and Adrian lifted a huge bag of possibly groceries that will be sustaining us for the next few days. The bus moved off and naturally everyone's attention was drawn to the scene outside.
What I saw upon arriving in the city of Reykjavik was both exciting and disappointing. The former was because I found frozen ice everywhere, in the grasses, on the plains, telling me that there was recent snow. Disappointing was, the buildings were almost all low buildings, all drab and grey. And there was really not much colours. What more, it struck me that there was very few pedestrians walking on the streets of Reykjavic. As I looked towards the distance, all I could see was plains, plains and more plains, dotted afar by snow-covered mountains, which I presumed were mostly volcanoes. There was hardly any trees. The only vegetations that I could find were stunted shrubs to typical of the tundra climate. "My goodness," I secretly thought to myself. "What the hell are we to see here? There is literally nothing."
"Ok, we will head off to the Blue Lagoon first to shoot it in the late afternoon light. But we won't be going into the Blue Lagoon because firstly we don't have time, and secondly we will need to pay. No point. We will have more scenery to photo over the next few days."
We literally hit the ground running. The Blue Lagoon was indeed blue. From the minerals in the water. But as always, the first day presented most with no lingam. And I believed a few of us just shot blanks. I knew I did. And I took away nothing here, not even a decent photo.
Here was a shot by Eddy Chung of that moment there.
|Serene, Lai Peng and Michelle. Photo: Courtesy of Eddy Chung|
|Hannah, Carren, Yilin, Teck Siang & Carol|
runing round & round the tall man.
grab all the food and ingredients we will be needing to cook for the next few days." called out Adrian. Yupe, the usual sense of urgency in his voice.
This Bonus was quite huge. And the cashiers were manned by a few blond-haired young Icelanders. Adrian very quickly delegated the group members to get all the stuffs he had on the list. Before long we all came back to the counter with pasta, sauces, meat, milk, and many more in our trolleys.
We managed to clear the cashiers in time.
|A nice wintry evening view, from the window|
of our room in Arctic Comfort Hotel
Taken with my iPhone.
"Can I sleep for a while?" plead Serene.
"Yah, you can, while I take a shower. Then after that we gotta meet downstairs. Adrian said we will all take a five minutes walk to a nearby restaurant for dinner."
The five minutes walk turned out to be a slightly
|Acrux pointing to the restaurant in Reykjavic.|
"Wow. S$20 for crepes!" I thought to myself.
|Kai Sing & Alex enjoying a cosy Icelandic meal.|
"Hey this one not bad! Lamb steak and salad buffet with free flow of soup!" said Kai Sing. I calculated. About S$40+ per person. Ok lah. Might as well try Icelandic steak and lamb for a welcome meal. And was it a meal! One of the nicest lamb rack, and the softest and tastiest sesame wheat bread I had. The soup was also nice. And almost everything was free-flow.
|Lai Peng & Serene couldn't finish their portions.|
First glimpse of the Aurora Borealis
Suddenly a shadow zoomed past and sat down on the table beside us. It was Adrian. "Hey guys! There is an aurora going on right outside the restaurant!" he announced. "The guys are setting up their tripods and shooting it now."
"Really ah?" we replied. And we stepped out, to see faint green lights dancing in the sky, slowly changing from second to second.
Somehow, the northern lights were of lesser an interest than our dinner, and we chose to continue our meal.
The aurora found us again when we emerged from the restaurant.
"Wah, see that!" shouted Lai Peng. "Wow it's really changing. See there, see there.. another one!"
"Yah, there there.. wah this one very nice!" echoed Alex.
|We just walked & enjoyed the aurora on our|
way back to the hotel after a nice hearty dinner.
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Iceland Day 2 ~ The tour of the Golden Circle