Monday, March 3, 2014

Iceland Day 5 ~ A broken bus, a close encounter with Fjallsarlon, a flirt with Jokulsarlon (Norman) Ice Beach... and Bukit Lim Wee How

Travellogue: One of the most eventful days in Iceland

Life was like that.  There was always calm before the storm, and there was always exuberance before pain.  At 8am on this fateful day, not a single one of us would expect what was to come.  None.  We only knew that our stomachs were growling in anticipation of Adrian's breakfast.



The only house with the single door ~ SgTrekker's designated cookhouse.

Breakfast at Gerdi-fanny...
Serene kao beh kao boo say it was cold.
Yah lor.  Who asked her to wear like
this only...
Adrian: "By buying all the groceries and (sacrificing my sleep) cooking for everyone, I calculated that if we divide up the money spent, it comes up to about S$30 per person for all the few days of breakfast & dinner leh.."
This tour leader thought of everything for us.  I was quite sure although we all gar-jiao-ed him throughout the trip, deep down inside we were very very grateful to him for all the hard work.  Early morning was C-O-L-D at Gerdi.  I decided to sleep in a little longer while some of the girls and Adrian started preparing breakfast.
So, what was for breakfast?
"Spaghetti with Bolognaise and meat ball for meat eaters, and spaghetti with chicken for not meat eaters.  And some abalone soup."

One by one, the members came in at around 9am.  Really luxurious ah, this trip.  Everything slow and steady.  Felt really more like a holiday than a photograph trip.  Coffee, tea, spaghetti, and if I didn't remember wrongly, sausages too.  A hearty breakfast nothing short of hotel standard. 
Adrian was in his usual red base layer, one of the sexiest chef around the glacier area.

I looked at all the sauces, the olive oil, the ingredients on the table, and I marvelled at the way he worked.
"Oi, please come and get your food," barked the Chef. "But please all wash your own dishes hor! Sekali end up I got to wash all 17 sets of dishes and cutlery like that night like that hor..."

Norman happily having his breakfast...
maybe he had some intuition that
somewhere out there, some
geographically strategic location was
soon to be named after him...
So pai seh, this Chef still had to end up being dish washer that night.  Ok Ok, I'd better wake up my idea and help wash.
So much attention paid in preparing the food in accordance to each member's dietary requirement.  Fortunately we didn't have those who needed gluten-free food among us.  Otherwise this Chef might just go bonkers.

What a sleepy morning.
"Eat up guys, please try to finish up all the food.  One sausage per person." the Chef directed.
Not bad at all.  I was quite enjoying my sandwich , and coffee and my ration of sausage. 
Alex & Lai Peng really showing off
their fashion-wear here in Iceland.
And somewhere out there, appeared a bowl of cereals.  Wow, this group of cooks were really thoughtful.  Cereals with milk was one of my staples.

How come Hannah had sandwich ah?
Unfair! I didn't get mine! LOL...
A lot of concentration went into preparing her breakfast, the way I saw
Yan Yan did it.

Ms Korean forever stylo, eating also must close
eyes to eat, like enjoying her mini potato like that...
Within the walls of this small wooden house reverberated a  Korean-sounding voice, the laughter, the snide remarks, the endless demand for egg yolks.. but that added to the fun of dining.

The meals at Gerdi guesthouse were not exactly the cheapest.  Thus our plan was to cook as many meals as possible here at the Cookhouse.

A couple of Ang Mohs walked in, took a look at the whole rowdy gang here, and promptly walked out.
I asked Adrian: "How come this cookhouse seems to be only occupied by us?"
Adrian: "Oh earlier in the morning there were some other Ang Mohs coming in to use it.  But they were very quick in eating and washing up and they left even before you came in."
We all laughed that the other occupants of the Guesthouse must had been frightened by us.

"Ok, please wash your plates.  Then be ready to meet at the lobby at 10am." barked the Chef again.








The First 'Uh-Oh' of the day...
At 10am, we all walked up the bus.  Put our bags onto our usual seats.  Took our places and clipped our seat belts.  And waited.  And then, our driver Porgrimur walked up and announced:
"I am afraid we aren't going anyway.  The bus cannot be driven because the brake is not working."

HUH?! He looked like he was joking.  But in a moment, we realised that he wasn't.  The incident yesterday at the Hofskirkja church with that screeching noise from the dashboard or somewhere, was an indication that the bus was leaking gas from either the brake or the door.  Anyway, it was a no go.
"Do you have another bus?" asked Adrian.
"Well, yes.  But it is going to come from Reykjavik.  And it's going to take about 3 hours to reach here.  They are also getting a mechanic to come over here to take a look."
"Ok, then I suggest that we all de-bus first and take a rest while we see how we can settle this," instructed Adrian, his frown line getting deeper by the minute.
Poor thing,  this Adrian.
Being stranded in Iceland was no fun.  This place was so huge and vehicles were stationed far away in cities.  I could understand how long it would take for a replacement bus to come.  That would put paid to our day's programme.

So here we were, stomached filled, cameras loaded, raring to go... but nowhere could we.
"Let's go walk around and explore this Gerdi place and take some pictures," suggested somebody.  That was a good idea.  And the whole group just dissipated like that ~ POOF! ~ talked about photographers.  Never a moment dull as long as the camera was in hand, and the eyes and brain were actively looking for angles and subjects.


Exploring Gerdi..  A relaxing session of portrait shooting.
A few of the boys and girls had already disappeared out of sight once Adrian announced free and easy.  One could never dampen the spirit of a true blue photographer for even when the unexpected happened, he/she would just grab the unexpected by the neck and go riding it out to the plains.  Precisely like the way a photographer made full use of whatever light condition there were.
So on this morning, at about 10:15am, we all went strolling on the big field outside the Guesthouse.  Imagined, when would you EVER have the opportunity to wander at such a leisurely pace with the mountain behind you and the sea in front of you, with cool breeze gently caressing your face?
We were all literally having fun.
I thought I could see Kai Sing, Teck Siang, Yilin and Yan Yan far far away near the edge of the sea.  But for then, we were contended just looking at the mountains and the haystacks.
"Hey, this looks like the Yin-Liu 银柳 we all usually display for Chinese New Year!" said Lai Peng.  And I thought she was very right in her observation.
Yin-Liu 银柳 at Gerdi Guesthouse.
There, growing along the side of the road were all the Yin-Liu 银柳 we could find.  Don't ask me what was its name in Icelandic.  I didn't even know what was its English name.

"Lai Peng, hey wow.. you look very nice among the Yin-Liu.  Let me take a few shots of you," I said to her.
She must have been very tickled by my suggestion for she smiled like the bloom of the Yin-Liu in Spring. 



"Lai Peng," I said. "Ok I am going to shoot you with my lens wide open ok... The bokeh of the mountains and the shrubs at the back is going to be in the classic strokes, just like a painting."
And she happily posed for me.








The red of Lai Peng's outfit, nestled among the Yin-Liu, brought out the  mood of that very moment.  A leisurely holiday with no rush, no stress, no major surprises.  Everything was going really nice and smooth.  I loved this type of trip.  And I really loved these few shots of Lai Peng, and Lai Peng with Serene.







We walked slowly to the front of the building.  And I wanted to remember the guesthouse by, and the big field in front of the building, over-looking the sea.














"Hey, there is Acrux, Norman and Hannah over at the edge of the fence."
'Let's go see what there are doing."

Not so much 'Pop.
Norman and his Canon 6D.
Slowly we came to Norman.  This man was always very very focussed in his shooting.  Nothing could distract him.  He and his superbly versatile, brand-new Canon 6D.  Coupled that with a set of filters, and the picture of a passionate photographer was complete.

"Norman, let me take a photo of you with my vintage Canon lens.  Guarantee will make the bokeh of the mountains behind so nice that you will love it," I promised him.
"Ok, shoot a nice one for me for my profile picture," replied Norman.
 And I thought the bokeh of the snowy mountain was real nice.


Hannah and Norman's Canon 6D...
... and Acrux Photo-bombed my precious
shot!!!











"Take one for me too, I want something like that!" requested Hannah. 
Wow.. if Hannah requested, I had better quickly comply.  And I did one for her too.  Just that the wind picked up a little at that point in time, and we had to do a few takes to make sure her hair was not in her face.
And wow! The bokeh in this shot of hers was just as lovely!








Portrait, Portrait and more Portrait on the Rangefinder and the vintage Canon LTM 50mm f/1.2...

Since the rangefinder was on a roll, I might as well continue shooting portraiture.
Someone suggested (perhaps it was Eddy?) taking lovely shots of the several couples walking down the aisle of Gerdi.. And gamely they all agreed.
"Ok, I put a twig here and you all pre-focus first and when they walk to the twig you all can start firing away," very clever, this Alex.
So we all practised shooting portraiture.  In a big way, it was really great that our bus broke down, for had it not been for that, we wouldn't have had such a wonderful time.  Serious.  Photography trips oftentimes were very intense and we were pressured to chase after that ideal shot of the scene, of the silky smooth water, the orange sunset... and all.  SgTrekker would always arrange for a model shoot on their photography trips.  But I could only guess here the Icelandic models would have cost an arm and leg.  So we made do with our own model.  And to great effects too.


A softer side of Eddy, as he lovingly watched Michelle put on her gloves, with a gentle smile on his stubbled face.  Michelle was certainly very tickled by all these action scene and I could really sense her joy in being photographed with the man of her life.  I loved their natural expressions.




We took Alex and Lai Peng walking to the twig too.  These two old-husband-old-wife really showed off their lovey-dovey side.  Very natural were their poses.  I loved it.



Eddy was very steady.  He took my M9P + Canon LTM and shot us as Serene and I walked down the aisle.  I was so happy that almost every one of us was rangefinder shooters.  I could always just pass my camera to these experienced guys and girls and they would do a great job.








It was nearing lunch time.  But somehow when we were having so much fun, time stood still, and we weren't exactly ready to be disturbed... by anything short of an order to march towards the nearest restaurant for lunch.  But before we did that, we had to grab a last few shots of our good models.  With the abundant natural props, we all found inspiration to shoot again and again.



The rusted old wagon wheels.. I wondered when was there last a wagon
in old Iceland?
Some Icelander left his beanie there.
And Serene gave it a shot.




















The three 不倒翁? LOL..

The grouchy housewife in Iceland...




























"Ok guys! Let's go for lunch." ordered our Tour Leader, walking towards that Bookshelf restaurant.  Sadly until today I couldn't recall the name of this restaurant. 

 


As we walked, suddenly an inspiration struck Eddy.
"Come, all of you.  Take a shot of me here!" Eddy said.
And we turned to our right to see him comfortably sitting on a stack of hay, with a strand held between his lips.  This Leng Zhai really knew how to look out for photo opportunities and he really knew how to pose!  We all fired away at him.   And here were the end results...
Me on my Leica M9P and the vintage Canon 50mm f/1.2 lens:

Leng zhai farmer on his haystack.  Leica M9P + Canon LTM 50mm f/1.2




















And below was Serene's shot of the same scene on her Canon 1DMkIV with the 16-35mm f/2.8.  I somehow still loved the rangefinder and the vintage lens when it came to portrait shots.  The vintage Canon lens was soft wide open and less contrasty.  It had a nice dreamy look and its bokeh was nothing short of stroke-like.  The modern Canon lens and DSLR gave a much more clinical appearance.  Well, each had its attraction.

Leng zhai shot by Serene, on Canon 1DMkIV with 16-35mm f/2.8.
I remember sometime while we were shooting each other, Michelle asked me:
"How come you all so good huh? The bus is spoilt and everything is delayed but you all never make noise.  I find that very strange."
Well. Michelle had a good point. Perhaps it was the nature of her industry when customers got delayed and things didn't go as planned, they became irate.  But that was the thing - Travelling with good friends who we were familiar with, travelling with a Tour leader who we had so much experience together.  All these took the edge off any form of hiccups.
Historically we had worse problems that what we were facing on this day.  Thus in comparison, this was nothing.  And I guessed the mood of the trip was also set correctly, and there was little rush on the parts of the members, and little anxiety.  Of course, Adrian would be feeling the stress.  But the rest of the members, we were simply enjoying that little bit of time with ourselves.

Lunch at Thurbergur Centre Restaurant!


A quaint little restaurant with its own photo gallery.  Like other days some of us ordered more ABC lamb soup, originally non-refillable as quoted to Adrian, until someone went to ask and the female boss agreed to give one refill per plate of soup.  And as the waiter was really busy, we all went and refill ourselves and topped up the soup dish full with lamb chunks and vegetables and happily walked back to our table and gobbled up our lunch.  Terrible.  That was what hunger and boredom did to people.

"Hey, there are some photos on display in the gallery inside.  Go take a look.  It's free."

We went in and marvelled at how well the photos were photoshopped. Haha...




After lunch...
"Ok, we have a replacement bus that is coming. and it should be here in an hour's time.  Just get ready."
And that replacement bus indeed came.  We all lugged our camera bags and tripods, and dragged our feet up the new bus.  A quick look told us that the seats were smaller, and closer together with lesser leg rooms, and someone found that the new driver didn't know how to speak English that well.. Well, one couldn't ask for too much when one's stranded, right?

"WAIT!" Adrian came up to the new bus. "The mechanic has repaired our bus! We are good to go.  Back to the old bus!"
Vrooooom..! Everyone ran for the old faithful bus that had carried us all the way thus far, leaving to new driver a little stunt.  Thank you, was all I could say to the new guy as I ran down.

Getting intimate with Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon...
As we walked, our breaths were taken away by the lake.

It was unbelievable after all these delays, to to be able to still make it to this magnificent location, another Glacier Lagoon called Fjallsarlon.  In Icelandish, '-arlon' means lake .  And Fjallsarlon was the glacier lake from the Fjallsjokull, a smaller glacier from the bigger Vatnajokull.
This Fjallsarlon was smaller than Jokulsarlon, from the way I saw it.  And being smaller, it made it possible for all of us to get very close to all the icebergs floating on it.  Physically they felt so much closer, and so much bigger.
And my poor left hand could even touch the ice pieces,
this poor little left hand didn't know that in 7 hours' time
it would no longer be the same.
Fjallsarlong bombarded all my senses, with all the ice, big and small.  The day before I was fascinated by Jokulsarlon.  But on this day, I was totally overwhelmed by this.  The proximity of the icebergs and the tightness with which they were packed meant that we could all be very intimate with them.
Beached upon the rock and stone shore were fall-outs from the glacial mouth a distance away.
I looked at the members.  They were all evenly spread out, each examining his or her own piece of ice.  The ice stood still like a silent giant, emitting its blue rays from deep within its entrails.  The only sound I could hear was that of ice cracking against ice as the wave knocked them against each other.
Serene in ice.
"How could ice on dry land remained still as ice?" was my very thought.  To my Tropical mind, this phenomenon was somewhat unfathomable.   My trembling hand reached out and touched my very first iceberg, virgin and fresh from the glacier.



"Dar, take a picture of me in between the ice!" asked Serene.
It was only some time past 3pm.  But there was not a whole lot of bright light, adding on to the mysterious atmosphere.




I couldn't tell how much time we spent at Fjallsarlon.  But time stood still again here.
"Dar, I am going to try shooting very close to the ice, ok?" said Serene.
"Ok, can. Try going really close.  Open your aperture really wide," I suggested.
And we both went totally insane with our cameras.
"Dar, I captured the water droplet from the ice!" happily announced Serene.
There were many ways to capture the ice of Fjallsarlon.  I particularly enjoyed the abstract manner with which Serene took them in.  She had always had an eye for some extra-ordinary angles.  Her creativity shone through on this day.
Serene's rendition of one big piece with Leng Zhai Eddy in the background.

























I had been still trying to re-enact that brilliantly shot photo of that blue and transparent floating icebeg in Adrian's presentation.  But luck didn't favour us, and the best I could do today was still a translucent piece, not pristine and clean.

... and my take of the frozen water.

Up to some Mischief at Fjallsarlon...

Being ourselves, we couldn't help but inject some naughtiness into the sombre excursion.


"Alex, Kai Sing, I am going to pick a piece of ice and throw it into the lake, ok?" I joked.
"Ok, but that piece of ice is too big already lah," said Alex. "I help you break it into a smaller piece"  And the Portrait Master started whacking it with a rock.  It did the job, and I finally held in my hands a manageable piece of ice.

These chaps were positively enjoying themselves.
Iceberg-tasted-funny-ah!








"Ok get ready!" called out the guys.
"We will be here at the side.  When we count to three you start throwing the ice into the lagoon ok?!  Remember, don't block your face with your arms ok?"
"Roger!"
"The Idiot'd Guide to 'How to disturb Icelandic elves sleeping in the Glacier Lagoon'..."
And the icy projectile was launched successfully into the sacred lake, causing a sudden ripple in the water, totally disrupting the peace of this ancient part of the world.
There was a saying: "What was fascinating was that in Iceland, more than 50% of the population believed in elves."
Yes, a medieval belief that was still carried on till this day.  Looking back, there must have had been some of these mythical creatures lurking in the lake under some ice on this day.  My mischief must have had infuriated them.  Only that I didn't realise that there and then.  Haha...

Here was a shot of me by Eddy.  Lovely! I really love this shot!
Me and the Jokulsarlon.  Photo: Courtesy of Eddy Chung.


Serene enjoying the cold wind.


The more serious shooters were all over the lake, each deep in thoughts trying to understand how best to bring out his or her scene.  Being with photographers was very different from being with other travellers.  Their total immersion in the very moment of their existence defied understanding of conventional tour guides and drivers.  But there needed no explanations.  On this day, this very hour, we were all enjoying ourselves in this wonderful palace of ice and water.  And in some parts of our brains, some chemical reactions took place within certain synapses, and etched this scene permanently into our common memories.

All kinds of positions...















Lai Peng going at her icy catch.










Serene's capture of cracked ice slabs and blue berg.

Michelle very very intense.
Carol giving Adrian a hard time...


























"Dar, my Facebook friend Shirly Hamra she stood on ice when she came to Iceland and the picture was soooo nice! I want one like that, can?" plead Serene.
"But it's very slippery leh! Dangerous!" I protested.
"Please... just one shot?"

And the lady got her wish.  A thin slab of ice.  But 'twas good enough for her.


















Fighting the waves at Jokulsarlon Ice Beach...

"Ok, let's go." was Adrian's last instruction as we left Fjallsarlon.  What was to come, I believed many of us were not really aware.  From where the bus stopped, we saw another scene from some mythical land.  I could not begin to even describe my awe as the enormity of the scene began to sink in.
Someone must've had leaped onto the ice to escape the rushing waves...
Walking past a really huge berg of ice.
This was another scene that appeared like out of a movie.  No amount of pre-departure briefing could prepare us for what we were to see.  SgTrekker really kept all the surprises until the last moment this time round.  Again and again Adrian managed to shock our senses.
A moment ago we were awed by ice on lake and rocky shore, and now as we treaded on the pitch black sand beach of Jokulsarlon, we were again presented with blue ice, large and small, scattered along the whole expanse of the black-sand beach as far as our eyes could see.
Waves bombarding the chunks of ice.
The sand was unlike the coarse ones we had at home, but of a very very fine black grain.  Almost powdery in appearance.  The particles would stick onto your soles, your gloves, your tripod, and somehow, the strong wind would find ways of lodging some of these very find dust into the mechanism of our lenses, and the dials of our cameras.


Adrian, the ice, the sand & and Atlantic waves.
The ice were not static, for with every rise and ebb of the tide, the blue-rocks edged closer inland.  Many lay isolated among the black sand, as though they were stranded.  But merely a product of strong waves that brought them to where they lie in slumber.  From the horizon came surfeits of waves high by any Singapore standards, strong and powerful. 
It was coming to 5pm.  The sun was slowly descending.  And the howling wind picked up the surfs and drove them landwards.  We held on to our tripods and made our ways among the ice, outer shells zipped to the top, heads fully covered, and face securely protected from the sharp Atlantic wind.  The bravehearts were already way ahead along the edge of the shore to the far side.  Some of us preferred to slowly explore the scene.  Having Adrian by my side was a great reassurance.

"Dar, how to shoot?" shouted Serene, her voice almost drowned by the wind."Just look for a couple of nice, solid pieces of ice chunks, and use long exposures to render the waves silky smooth." I called back.
Serene standing just at the advancing edge of the waves...
It was easier said, for the ice would almost certainly be floated somewhat and moved, each time the waves advanced.  Many of our LE shots turned out unsuccessful because we didn't anticipate that movement of the ice. 
The Reds at it again!
At this point, I was with Adrian and Serene.  Kai Sing was somewhere to our left some way behind the waveline.  I could make out some reds, some whites, some blues, some beige and black much further to our right.  Probably where Norman, Acrux and the rest of the members were.  But that wasn't the most important thing in my mind right now.  I needed to stablise my tripod against the waves.
It really was a tough job.  Unfortunately my Gitzo wasn't a heavy one.  And the wind and waves made even the sturdiest of set ups tremble. 

Compared with many of the team members, our LE shots here were really way below par.  But what the heck, I was just going to dump them here for our own memories' sake and just for laughs.
I found Serene's LE shots better than mine.

Serene's attempt at LE at the Jokulsarlon Ice Beach... with Ms Korean as the human element.
 I prepared for this shot very carefully, adjusting my angles, my horizontals, composing my foreground elements and tweaking my settings.  But the execution of it was thwarted by a most obvious condition that I totally miscalculated - the movement of the ice, even such huge pieces, when the waves rushed in.

Aiyah. The ice moved!
My another attempt here.  Trying to capture the dramatic sky together with the rib-cage like appearance of the stacks of ice. 


... the making of Jokulsarlon Ice Beach...

Shooting here was both exhilarating and difficult.  Exhilarating for it was the first time we were exposed to a totally wondrous natural phenomenon that required a total re-wiring of our brain circuitry before we could comprehend and appreciate it, followed by letting our creativity flow.  Difficult because the elements of Nature abhorred inexperience photographers like us.  Some of our clever members changed to their long lenses and took shots from behind the wavefront.  Others, like Adrian, Norman and myself, took the more hazardous option of plonking ourselves right at the waterline with our Ultrawide angle lenses.  I was even as crazy (as I eventually found Teck Siang to be so too) to have stood on a piece of ice and set my tripod on another piece of ice, to escape the splashing waves.  Naturally both methods failed miserably.
I was enjoying myself having fun, fumbling with frozen fingers, and trying to avoid being wet by the waves.  Many times, I managed to pluck the tripod and ran before the waves hit me.  But twice, I ran away and from the corner of my eye, saw the tripod tumbling forward as waves swarmed it, and had to jump right back into the shin-deep water to grab the camera before it hit the water.
My trekking shoes were all soaked, and my pants were drenched.  But my camera was safe.
Beside me, the courageous Adrian decided that he would endure the waves and stood fast when the water came swelling in.  I was sure he got much better pictures than me because of that.  But still, there was still once he had to run away from a particularly huge wave, and in the process, dropping his precious filter.  The lucky man managed to locate it half emerged in the black sand.
Serene, with her point and shoot, managed to capture some incredible moments when the waves came and riddled us...

Adrian and I all set up waiting for the waves.
BOOOM! A strong wave hit an iceberg and splashed...
The swell continued to surge forth.  I decided that I needed to escape, and was about to turn at this moment...
The clever Adrian stood on a low piece of ice.  But by then he was already soaked through too.
When I reached safe ground, I turned and laughed and laughed... I repeated this many times, totally enjoy the process.
Adrian laughing his KKJ out as he cleaned his re-found filter: "Heng ah! I found my precious filter in the sand!"

Here at this little corner of the Ice Beach, laughter rang.  Adrian, myself and Serene we were totally immersed in the fun of the moment.

More Acrobatic actions..

Further down on the beach, another set of action was taking place, as Lai Peng took a series of shots of Teck Siang doing his own style of acrobatics on the ice.. [Courtesy of Cheong Lai Peng].









































The  story of The Norman Beach...

A beautiful shot by Eddy Chung of The Norman Beach, most probably moments before the Canon 6D went scuba-diving...
[Photo: Courtesy of Eddy Chung]
Without us knowing, somewhere further down the beach, the waves wrought similar havoc to our fellow team mates' tripods.  But there, there were no laughter.  One Canon 6D was so taken by the sweet waters on-the-rocks of the Atlantic Ocean, and decided to take a dive to taste the pure liquid.  It didn't wake up ever again from the hypothermia.
In remembrance of this brave Canon 6D, this part of the Beach was henceforth christened 'The Norman Beach'.

It was getting so cold...

It was getting dark, cold and wet...
Our driver Porgrimur must have been wondering what on earth was this bunch of crazy photographers doing, standing on the Ice Beach in freezing cold, soaking wet, and chilled to the bones by the sweeping wind.  Indeed, without us knowing, we had spent two hours on this magnificent creation of Nature.  The setting sun on the west started to dye the clouds an orangey-red.







"Dar, I am very cold. My shoes and socks are all soaked, my fingers are numb and I think I really need to go up the bus," I told Serene.
"Ok Ok... Let's go back!" said she.


We walked slowly back where we came from.  We were among the first few to be back up on the bus.  The one whom this Beach was renamed after, was right there at the back seat, looking a little dejected, repeatedly cleaning the lifeless 6D with his microfibre cloth, hoping for a miracle.
"How ah?  Have you turned it on yet?" I asked.
"Nope.  I just clean it first lah.  Not going to turn it on yet.  But it doesn't look good. The sea water will erode the circuit board and parts inside.  The Samyang lens is manual.   Maybe that one can be saved."  said Mr Beach.
My heart sank with his words.  A photography trip with no camera was like a sea without water, like a pencil without lead - pointless.
"But I still have an extra camera lah," said he. "Can still use that for the rest of the trip lah."
Well, yes indeed.  At least a silver lining in the dark clouds.


Dinner back in SgTrekker Cookhouse, Gerdi...

"Ok, let's meet at 7:30pm for dinner at our usual one-door cookhouse," instructed Adrian.
In between another sumptuous home-cook dinner, a sudden black out in the cookhouse, and hungrily gobbling down our dinner, we discussed the chances of seeing the Aurora on this night.
Eddy and Kai Sing kept checking the sky, and reported that there weren't visible stars, which meant that it was a cloudy night.  And cloudy nights and Aurora weren't exactly best friends.

"Let's do this.  We will move out to Jokulsarlon at 9am to try and chase the Aurora," suggested Adrian.  "If there is none, at least we would have tried."
So the decision was made.


Waiting for the Aurora at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.. in almost pitch darkness...

It was around 9:40pm.  We were once again sitting in the bus waiting, at the parking area of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.  We have drove that 15 odd minutes from Gerdi Guesthouse to this location in the dark, hoping to catch a glimpse of the famed green lights.
It was really nice and warm in the bus, albeit a little stuffy because Porgrimur turned off the ventilation.  My feet were clad in my Asics running shoes and a brand new pair of clean and dry socks.  The wet trekking shoes and socks were now being dried just atop the heater in our hotel room.

All waiting in the bus at Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon while outside was cloudy.
Outside the sky remained cloudy and starless.
"So how?" asked Adrian. "Shall we wait or shall we go back?"
"Let's take a walk outside and see lah. It's very gok (stuffy) inside the bus leh," I said.

So, a few of us took a walk outside, Adrian, Yilin, Carol and I.
It was almost pitch darkness out there.  Adrian started walking towards a tiny hill just beside the glacier lagoon.
"Come, Wee How! I race you up the hill!" challenged Adrian.
"No! I am not going to run up the slope... hahaha.." I declined.
The very last shot of our bus from atop the hill before this camera went the way of its famous water-drinking cousin,
the Canon 6D.
Up on top, we scanned the horizon, and looked above us.  There was hardly stars, not to mention any light activity remotely suggestive of Aurora.
We waited.  I looked down at out bus, the only source of light down at the lake side, and snapped a shot of it.  Adrian took a peep at my preview and said: "Nah, slow shutter speed lah.  Cannot make it lah, this picture."  I laughed.   This shot would be the last shot from this camera for the rest of the trip.

... the fall...

Then finally, Adrian said: "Ok lah.  Looks like no choice.  Let's call it a day."  And we started down.
It was really dark and I walked slowly.  Then on my right, I saw Carol running down-slope.  "Wow, this Carol is really a cheongster!" I thought to myself.  But before I could finish thinking, my left foot stepped on what probably was a rock, and the left ankle twisted inward and crumbled beneath me.  I lost my balance totally and fell forward into a roll.  I couldn't remember what happened after that neither could I remember how far I rolled.
I only knew at the last stage, I broke my fall with the dorsum of my left hand with a sickening thud, crashed onto my side, and my camera flew above me on my right to land with a crash on the ground in front of me.
I was really winded.  But I managed to push myself up.  Luckily I could still stand.
Adrian and Yilin came running: "Hey how are you how are you?!?! Tell me you are ok.  You didn't hit your head right? Did you injure any where else?!" Adrian was really worried.
"I'm ok I'm ok." I managed to croak.

That that moment, my left little finger popped back into position with a 'crack'.  Shucks.  I knew that the bone was broken.  I took a breath, and a sharp pain radiated down my left chest.  That felt like a broken rib.  I was still able to limp slowly.  Carol held my camera.  It wasn't working any more and it kept giving an error message until she whipped out the battery and the camera went to sleep.  Looked like that was the last piece of action for this little fellow.

Up in the bus, I was thankful to have Teck Siang check my injuries.  "Let's observe it," he said knowingly.  I agree with him.  Because there was really nothing much we could do here in Iceland.  Even if I were to go to a hospital, they would probably not be able to do anything aside from splinting it up.

The guys and girls were very very concerned and they all kept coming to see me in my room to check on me.  I felt so touched.  But what to do, accidents were like this. Back in our room, Serene buddy splinted up my fingers, and gave me an Arcoxia.
I looked at Serene.  "Dar, I'm sorry, please don't scold me."
"You always want to cheong! Cannot means cannot, you still want to go up the hill!" she reprimanded me.
"Dar, let's see how I am tomorrow lah.  It's the Ice Cave, and we need to walk a bit for the trip.  If I cannot walk, I will just stay in the hotel and rest. OK?"  I was resigned to my fate.  My heart sank.   That wasn't the way a trip should be.
That night I slept with almost no pain, strangely.

Here are the pictures of my injuries. Click here

CLICK HERE BELOW TO CONTINUE TO THE NEXT CHAPER: Iceland Day 6 ~ Racing against time in the Ice Cave, skirting the Svinasfelljokull, revisiting Jokulsarlon & a magnificent BANG! of Aurora!!










To be continued...