Showing posts with label Iceland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iceland. Show all posts

Monday, September 22, 2014

Iceland: Part 4


So now where were we...? Oooo.... Okay, right after Skeftafell we chose to spend a night in Hofn since the next destination was still hours away from us. Surprisingly, the room that we booked in Hofn was actually a small cabin with two cozy bunk beds, a kitchen, equipped with a heater and an ensuite bathroom and toilet for a price of €70 per night so it cost us around RM 70. The reception counter was inside a restaurant and I remember the waiters and waitresses were very friendly and cheerful and each of them greeted us with a broad grin.

The next morning we head to The Golden Circle route and started with Gullfoss. The scenery on the way there was utterly stunning. Similar to our journey in the southeast,  the landscape keeps on changing over this side of the country too. The difference is just that there are more greenery, and we crossed some gorge and at times the land become so barren with only black rocks and sand surrounding us.

When we reached the parking lot, it was full with tourist buses but still the area is huge enough that it didn't look crowded at all. It was so windy and we fought our way towards the lookout for a better view of the mighty waterfall. The force is so incredible that you can feel water spray from all directions. Gullfoss is the largest waterfall that I've ever seen so far.

In the past, it was once threatened when some party wanted to turn it into a power plant to generate hydro electrical power. But then it was saved by a woman who had fought against it. So thanks to this woman that we are still able to witness this nature wonder to this day :)

I still remember the very friendly boy who worked at the cashier that afternoon at the gift shop. He must be around 14 or 15 and worked there for the summer. He thought I was chinese because the shop was actually crammed with tourists from China at that time and they didn't speak a word of English. So when it was my turn to pay and he heard me speak English he said,

"Phew! Finally a Chinese who speaks English.."
"But I'm not a Chinese... I'm a Malaysian..."
And we had a short conversation at the counter. He said he never met a Malaysian before and have mistaken me for a Chinese..

After Gullfoss, we drove towards Geysir to see the famous geysers. Unfortunately, the great Geysir has been inactive and have not sprayed water for quite some time.. So we waited for Strokkur to be in action. The area was actually chained to a few metres from the spring to ensure that visitors are at safe distance when the water shoot into the air because the temperature could be markedly high.

Strokkur from the parking lot when we arrive

Geyser is considered a rare phenomenon and can only be found in certain areas with volcanic activity. The spring actually extend to a few hundred or thousand metres below the ground where the water become in contact with hot rocks. And when the highly pressurized water reaches the boiling point, it causes the geyser effect and the water and steam shoots into the air

What I called 'Short Swell'

According to the signage there, Strokkur is supposed to produce a spray every 8-10 minutes but sometimes the eruption could be small and unsatisfactory hahaha when we arrived at the parking lot, Strokkur was producing a very high spray but we were too far to record it. And 10 minutes after that Strokkur only produce a short swell and and didn't produce a spray (^^") So I continue to hold my camera faithfully so that I could capture the best of this rare phenomenon. And when the water start to swell and rise I heard whispers saying "Cmon... Cmon.." and when the water spouts upward, everybody cheered and that includes us! \(^^)/ like some football team just scored a winning gooooaaaalll!!!!! We waited some more until Strokkur produce two more sprays before leaving to Thingvellir.

We were in a hurry because we need to return the rental car by 5 pm and we are still far from Reykjavik. If I ever have the chance to go to Iceland again, I most likely go to Thingvellir first because it is such a beautiful place and we only spend so little time there. It is another place in Iceland with a magical vibe where the surrounding look so.. hurm.. nothing on earth... I was driving so I didn't took pictures of the surrounding.. But really it was so different..

We stopped to walk on the trail up to one of the waterfall. The path was built in between huge boulders so I felt as if I was walking in some enchanted kingdom belonging to the.. hurm trolls perhaps hahaha

Anyway, we didn't spend much time at all.. Macam touch and go.. And to think of it, I really really going to go there first if I ever go to Iceland again. Actually, that evening, we ran out of gas and was slightly bewildered when the GPS showed that the next gas station was quite far from the park. We rolled down the windows and drove slowly towards the gas station.. Syukor lah cukop minyak itu \\(",)

We returned the car that evening and walked to a seafood restaurant whose owner is married to a Philipino. We enjoyed our time at the restaurant because the owner is so bubbly and he even explained to us how to eat each of the dishes on the buffet; like in which sauce to dip them in etc.

We spent the rest of the evening walking around Reykjavik before leaving the next morning.

Our visit to Iceland is so memorable because there are just too many things that we saw there and have not yet seen in any other places that we went to. We learned a lot about geology for sure hahaha

So for the coming post, I might just combine Netherlands and Brussels in one post because it was really a short visit..

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Iceland: Part 3


To be honest it is really hard to precisely recollect everything that occured during our trip which is now dated more than a year ago.... But I will try my best to write everything during my break from travelling... Pastilah annual leave aku suda habis kan..

Anyway this time I'll try to finish about Iceland... So on our first day we stopped at Jokulsarlon. We didn't do much since the cruise have ended for the day and decided to come again in the morning. We met a father and son of Indian descendent who flew all the way from America just to see the icebergs. That evening we drove further east to the only youth hostel in that area.

In this leg of our journey, there was only one gas station where you can refill your tank so make sure to check that the tank has enough fuel until the next stop. We stopped to have fish and chips at the gas station restaurant and was surprised by the fact that the guy at the counter knew some Malay words. He later told us he's been to Malaysia and traveled for a couple of months there in 2011 and still remember a few words.

As for the youth hostel, it was very basic however with excellent internet connection! The kitchen was neat and clean and the room was spacious enough that we had a comfortable space for prayer.

The funny thing was we had to share bathroom with the other guests and unfortunately one of us witnessed a sore sight of an unclothed old man. And we talked about it during dinner while this particular man was sitting next to me! And my friend was like,

"Gg, tadi mase aku kuar dari bilik mandi... Pakcik sebelah ko ni lap badan kat luar... tak pakai baju..."

He has no idea that we were talking about him heeeeee

So we head off to Jokulsarlon first thing in the morning to catch the earliest cruise. There were already a lot of tourists there so we queued for the ticket. There are two types of tours; one uses a smaller boat which will enable you to get closer to the icebergs and it will even take you to the glacier from where the icebergs originate. We opted the amphibian boat which on first glance reminds me of Sponge Bob's boat car. It was quite packed per tour but for the amount we paid (which was much cheaper than the small boat price), I actually enjoyed the tour very much and the tour guide did an excellent job in explaining to us about the geological process involved; from the formation of the glacier to the formation of the lagoon and facts about the icebergs itself.

The magical thing about Jokuksarlon is how the luminous blue, white and black of the whole landscape blend in perfect symphony. It took my breath away and by far one of the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life. I learnt that the blue icebergs are the older ones.  They underwent years  and years (perhaps hundreds??) of compression process that when the sun rays hit, it reflects the blue colour. The white icebergs are the younger ones and of course the guide also mentioned about how the bottom of the iceberg is actually significantly massive than what we saw afloat.

The guide also explained that at times the icebergs do flip over. But I don't remember how to tell which iceberg have just flipped over although I'm pretty sure he did point that out during the tour... (^^")

After Jokulsarlon we drove to Skaftafell National Park.. Unfortunately, the weather gotten worse and it start to drizzle. We forced ourselves to walk in the gnawing frigid air just to get a closer look at the glacier. Actually there are many walking trails in this national park; some lead to famous waterfalls and caves and you can actually hire a guide to take you for a walk on the glacier. But due to the weather and our very limited time, we took the short walk which I think is still interesting.

Along the path, there are sign boards that explain about the history and geological processes that occurred in a particular vicinity.
I remember one sign board saying that we were standing on a spot where the glacier used to extend 40 years ago. The glacier had somehow shrunk due to global warming. And at one point, there were so many rocks with cracks on them

I later learn that the cracks are actually caused by water moisture that are trapped within the fine pores of these rocks. The water alternately froze and thawed and during this continuous cycle, the expansion of frozen water caused the rock to crack.. Okay that's how I understand it.. I don't know how to correctly describe it though..

And then we went over to see the pool and walked on the charcoal colour volcanic sand and stones to see the glacier. It was my first time ever to see a glacier before my eyes so I was completely blown away. We didn't get to see any glacier in France nor Swiss so I was quite excited. Even from afar, the vibrant blue colour of the glacier was vivid to the naked eyes and we could also see streaks of black soot in contrast which are the result from volcanic eruption debris...

Okay... Wow! That's a lot of geological thingy, isn't it?

This is what travelling is to me.. Travelling, in my definion, is not just walking nonchalantly in a foreign land.. Not just having another background in a selfie.. Not just another fridge magnet on the fridge door..

It's about connecting ourselves with the unfamiliar; meeting new people, witnessing other cultures and seeking knowledge of the formations and phenomenon that are unprecedented in my own land..

It's a humbling experience, you know... Because every time I buckle up my seat belt on an airplane bound to the place I call home, I would inhale deeply and tilt my head back and start thinking how I'm just an insignificant speck in this world and how vast the knowledge of the Almighty...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Iceland: Part 2


Waaaa... It took me so long to finally continue with part II.. Penuh kisah jiwa jiwa seja... It has been quite confusing in my position, you know hahaha

Nway... Aku hutang Tasmania-NZ-Indochina-Africa...

Kalo mau tanya apa2 feel free to email ye... kalo tunggu blog ku ni memang nda membantu la hahaha

So.... on our first day, the journey was like this

Reykjavik - Skogafoss - Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon - Overnight in Vagnsstadir

Not much, right? These are the main attractions that we aimed for but actually you can make a lot of random stops. The ethereal beauty of the diversity of this piace of land will never cease to amaze you. We were driving for hours surrounded by nothing but the yellowish tundra that looks ironically solemn yet the bright colour mosses captivated me throughout the journey...

And there were countless numbers of waterfalls that didn't make it to the attraction list but left us dazed anyway. They made us ran out of the car and resign to the frigid temperature just for some nice shots of the surreal landscape.

And we were also allured to stop at this waterfall on the roadside. And after we got back to Malaysia, we got really excited to find lots of pictures of this waterfall taken by professional travelers and photographers. We had this, "OMG! I saw that with my own eyes.. And stood right in front of it!" feeling haha

Dan akhirnya sampai juga kami di Skogafoss..

You can actually climb up the hill to see the stream on top..  And stop in the middle to take a picture like below hahaha. There's actually a path that leads closer to the waterfall mid-climb. So close that you can actually feel the water spray and that's why the background there looks so misty.

Or a picture like this

We had our lunch here because the car park was very convenient and they have a public toilet nearby. And after that we head to Glacier Lagoon which I think about 1-2 hours drive from here..

Ok sekali lagi gambar aku sedang buat Milo...

On our way, we stopped at this place out of curiosity. It's just weird to see those formations on the ground. Well, actually, long long time ago there was a farm in this area which was destroyed by which was believed to be the first eruption of the volcano Katla. So this is what's left of the farm to this day. 

Speaking about volcanic eruption.. Below are the pictures of some part of  Route 1, the highway we are using.

Okay, nothing much to see hahaha Well actually, back in 2010, there was still a long bridge as part of this route. In fact, it was the longest in Iceland. However, there was a glacial outburst flood that year. In layman term, as I understand it, there was a volcanic eruption beneath the icy glacier that cause the glacier to break and melt and caused a huge flood that destroyed the bridge. There are still small bridges around but I don't know whether they are part of the former or a newly built ones. And you can also see some crooked steels along the road which are the remains of the old bridge.

I was very intrigued by that fact, you know. I watched the video shown in Skeftafell twice just to see how huge the flood was.

Dan kami pon sampai di Jokulsarlon~

 Ngantok ok.. promise.. Aku post pasal attractions in Part 3 (^^)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Iceland Part 1


Iceland has been in my wishlist since my undergraduate.. I don't remember how that came to be but I always thought it would be cool to go to the farthest land from home. The hardest part of this leg of the trip was to decide which part of Iceland that we would like to visit. The attractions are abundant and they're scattered all over Iceland. We finally decided to go for the East side since it's quite variety over that side; Waterfalls, Icebergs and Glaciers...

I say, Reykjavik airport is one of the most unique that I've ever seen. Impressive architecture and you can see art displays like these statues below. And I remember there were Viking proverbs written on the walls as we walk towards the arrival exit.

So like I said, all the way from the airport to Reykjavik, the scenery were volcanic rocks and moss that made me think, "So where are all the beautiful landscape shown on the internet!!!!!!!!!???"

It looks like as if there are no other living creatures other than those on the bus. And when the view of Reykjavik town looms from afar.. phew~ What a relief! It's very small for a capital but considering Iceland's population, the size is just nice to accommodate all the essentials. The first building that I saw was a huge IKEA outlet and I was like "HOLLA SCANDINAVIA!!!" (nda apalah blom sampai pon kan... sudah dekat..) and later found out that almost every single furniture in Iceland is IKEA's! We even developed a habit of checking for IKEA logo on every item we encounter; the bed in our room, the closets, the make up table, the utensils at the restaurants...

I had a bad gastritis when we arrived. I had a bad headache and was nauseous... Percayalah, baru aku tau tablet MMT tu sadap masa di Iceland because I never taste it before (^^")

We arrived in the evening and I still remember how torturous it was for me who was ill to wait for Maghrib which was at 11 pm.. And I've to wait for Isya' which was at 12.30 pm and Subuh at 2 am.. Of course lah aku tertidur dan lambat sket~ Aku x bole imagine orang yang puasa masa ni!!!!! 21 hours man!!!!

And malam macam dusk jak... Nampak lagi tu Matahari ok!

We booked our rental car with Thrifty. I went for the pick up because they needed my international driving licence. Gagah kan aku x pakai sweater... Nampak gumok sebab horizontal stripes and thick long john inside *perlukah explain??*

Masa ni lah aku nampak, muka Icelanders semua sepattern, macam Chad Micheal Murray hahaha

So about the car rental; we used the Car Trawler to get the best deal. Actually, we booked a compact car, Chevy Spark but we were offered an upgrade to Chevy Cruze for an additional 5 Euros per day.. So, why not?? (^^)

We also took the weather protection to be on the safe side.. Well, the roads are well paved, yes, but there are some attractions that have gravel roads and the weather could suddenly change so we prepared ourselves with all the protections needed. We don't want to pay thousands for scratches, do we??

Like what the CMM look-alike said, "Better be safe than sorry,"

I didn't drive of course.. I was too weak.. So I sat at the back, and just stare out the window and literally jumped out of my seat when the rocky scenery slowly turned into yellowish hilly area with waterfalls cascading down from the top!

Maaf lah kamera kampung...

It was like the landscape evolved from rocks to all these...
Notice those purple plant?? Oho do not be deceived by it's vibrant colour. That's lupine. Although, from my opinion, the lupine is one of the contributorto Iceland's rare beauty, it is considered an invasive plant and is endangering other plant species that is native to Iceland...

Our first destination, Skogafoss

Bha nanti la aku sambung....

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Goodbye Swiss and Hola Iceland!!!


We spent 2 nights in Geneva and booked at the Geneva Youth Hostel. It was under a massive renovation so we didn't get any internet connection at the room. So I actually sat at the lobby that night to do some habitual massive photo upload on Facebook.

There was a group of school kids at the sitting area who I presumed were also there for the internet. Suddenly one of the boys who were sitting next to me asked "Apol?? *Apple* while his index finger pointing at my laptop.. "No, it's Lenovo"

Budak: Ne vous parle français?
GG: Sorry, I don't understand French...
Budak: Parli Italiano?
GG: Nope.. Not Italian either...
Budak: O que dizer de Português?
GG: Sorry.. No, I don't understand (^^")
Budak: Habla usted español?
GG: Sorry.. I only speak English
*Dalam hati.. Demit banyaknya bahasa ko pandai!!!!!!!! Ko show off ka ini?? hahaha*

Serius bingung aku sekejap.. Aku rasa dia actually mau tanya pasal charger laptop (^^") And then the boy who spoke to me and one of his friend went off and ran up the stairs. Heard a loud thud right after that followed by a loud cry. And I only discovered what happened the next morning when I saw the boy's friend berbalut POP di sebelah tangan and bandaged di sebelah lagi.. o0o0o0 rupanya kau jatuh tangga semalam...

We didn't do much in Geneva. We were too tired from the long road trip. We stroll around. Saw a Jewish Rabbi and I felt like I wanna say hi and ask him what he thinks about Islam because he's the first one I've ever seen in my entire life. But I refrained myself from doing so hehe Watch people returning to their homes from work; some were on trams, some were on roller blades, bicycles and skateboards... We don't see that in Malaysia, do we.

Took pictures of the popular places dan wajib the famous fountain...

O ya! When it comes to Geneva, there's one particular guy that I won't miss out in my story..
We met him when we were on our way to the train station. I actually noticed him walking beside us. He was wearing a red sweatshirt with hoodie, his ears were full of earrings and even his face was pierced. He was blonde and he has the dreadlock style. Kalau di Malaysia samseng habes suda neh!

And when we stopped at a junction waiting for the traffic light to turn red, he said 
"Hi! Where are you from?"
"We're from Malaysia"
"Ah! Really? Welcome to Geneva. How do you like it  here?"

Dan mulalah kami berborak sambil berjalan beriringan.. Terus jadi hensem!

And guess what, when we told him that we're trying to find the train station, he walked us there!!!
He wasn't sure about the new entrance and helped us ask around. Although he didn't walk us all the way to the entrance, macam macik Isabel n Bruce Willis look alike did, still it was very kind of him to be very helpful..

Ayuhlah kita instill sifat begini dengan strangers rather than being prejudice all da way!

At the airport, we did something cliche.. We got ourselves some Swiss wrist watch! My first choice was out of stock so out of dismay I end up buying two! (^^")

Where were we heading??? Our flight was bound to Luton, London in which SJ have waited for us for several hours and after that we took a flight to.... wait for it.. wait for it.. ICELAND!!!!!!!

We haven't eaten any proper meal until we reached London.. Aku pon gastrik lah.. Luckily there were lots of Vege food in Costa so I ate quite a lot to compensate the meals I missed... Namun aku pening juga sampai ke Iceland because it was too late~

It was a Friday, and to my surprise there was an announcement telling the venue for Jumaah prayer in the airport that day. Kagum seyh! That's what I call TOLERANCE!! The flight to Iceland from London took about 3 hours. We checked in at our hotel and was immediately very pleased with the service. O ya, there's a shuttle bus service that sends you straight to your hotel and it is the cheapest option. I remember it was Greyline and they even have WiFi on the bus. Since we'll be travelling to the east for two days, we only wanted to bring necessary items and leave our bags at the hotel. Luckily they allow us to do that and they also have this free phone for you to call your car rental company and the company will then pick you up to collect the car at the office~

Apa2 pon.. Sampai2 airport, ini saja yang aku nampak sampai Reykjavik... All black and barren.. And we didn't see any single plant! Except the yellowish moss..

"Aik? Indah Kabar dari rupa kah???" *Dalam hati*
"Uish!! Kite kat planet Nameck ke ape ni?" *Yang diluah*

So... When I saw greenery in the last scene of the movie Non-Stop (Yes, the plane hijacking movie starring Liam Neeson), I was like, "No! That's not Iceland airport!!!!!"

For a moment I do thought I'd picked a wrong destination for our Eurotrip.. But then I recalled the many articles that I read before the trip.. How often they use the word RARE...

So that's Iceland... It's RARE.. It's out of this world.. Jeng jeng jeng! Bersambung~