Tag Archives: sunset

Jökulsárlón

Jokulsarlon icebergs

We’d heard a lot about  Jökulsárlón and seen lots of pictures, but nothing I think could have prepared us for coming face to face with hundreds of giant icecubes floating eerily along a lake.

Jokulsarlon

First of all, it was so quiet. Other than the wind breaking the waves against the glacier edge in the distance, there was nothing but the gentle ripple of water. Secondly, it was the size of these bits of glacier. They are massive – the size of small ferries some of them.

A variety of bits of glacier

And third it was the colours – some intense blue (to do with oxygen levels when the ice was formed I’m told), some grey, some white, some striped like a mint humbug.

More bits of glacier

Birds circled and seals quietly swam and dived. Neither Jamie or I could stop staring, it was such an other-worldly sight.

Jamie kitted up

There was one thing Jamie was particularly hoping to catch and that was the sunset over the lagoon. He’s a bit of a sunset hunter anyway but this was something special for him. And for several others judging by the number of tripods that appeared 20 minutes before the sun went.

Tripod Club

So we hung around, messing with bits of nearly-melted glacier (absolutely crystal clear, as if they’d been polished),

Crystal Glacier

chatting with Caroline & Jorge (from the hostel) and Katie, my friend who I went to Iceland last year with and another Airwaves buddy, and noticing odd formations in the clouds and rocks, like these trolls kissing:

Kissing Trolls

And how lovely even the parked tourist boats look next to the cafe & gift shop:

Amphibious boats & the gift shop

Here’s my sunset shot:

Sunset over Jokulsarlon

You’ll have to wait for Jamie’s, but in the meantime I am off to see if I can spot some Northern Lights!

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Tall Stories and the Safari Tourist

Oloololo Village

I think it’s important to mention the impact of reserves and safari tourism on the Maasai people they have displaced (more for conservation reasons rather than tourism, but you can see how they would interpret their government’s treatment of them as pandering to tourist demand). We had the chance on the second evening to look round the nearby Maasai shanty village  of Oloololo, see some traditional dancing, and go on a guided bush walk to see the sunset overlooking the game reserve.

Bush walk

Johnny and I opted not to see the village as we’d been living in one for the last few weeks but as we met the others at the village “marketplace” before the bushwalk, I was saddened by the pushy and surly selling techniques the girls used, small babies strapped to their backs. They obviously hadn’t been to school, had been made to marry young, didn’t speak English, and hadn’t been taught that tourists are more likely to buy their trinkets if they returned their smiles, could answer any questions, and didn’t grab and shove them. I got the distinct impression that these young village wives would be beaten if they didn’t make enough sales, but I felt anger at a society that forces these girls into making money from tourists they obviously resent for the impact on their lifestyle, without giving them the skills to do so successfully.

Maasai Mara from the Oloololo escarpment

I found myself in a dilemma as to whether to buy variable quality junk I didn’t want in an unpleasant environment, in an attempt to make these girls’ lives easier for one day, but I just couldn’t buy into that culture. Things certainly are a far cry from this situation in Kimuka, and it did make me feel more positive about my time there.

Our Maasai guide, with our fellow safari-er Jan (Thanks to Jan’s partner Jana Hrda for the photo)

Even the bushwalk guide had clearly polished his patter to humour tourists, and while he could speak English very well, he was all about sticking to his slick plan, mixing explanations of traditional Maasai bush techniques with tall stories of achievement and proud claims of how much of the local plant and wildlife he had wiped out. It was entertaining if you took him with a pinch of salt!

Sunset over Oloololo

Both these village tours cost a small amount extra which seemed perfectly reasonable initially, but our guide, like most other Kenyans in the same situation, had worked out how to use the tourist situation to his advantage. When you multiply the individual fee we each paid by a busload of 8 tourists, his 2 hours of patter earns him the equivalent of a Kenyan teacher’s monthly wage, and I’d bet that amount again that this wasn’t shared with the village. It’s very easy for Kenyans to charge Westerners inflated prices because they know we’ll pay it, distorting the local market, and pushing up local inflation. I can only hope he was investing his earnings wisely so he could send his children to school but I’m not holding my breath.

One thing I can definitely say I’ve brought home from my trip to Kenya is  that you can never underestimate the importance of education, reading and travel.

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Cool Kenyan stuff (even though it’s quite warm)

A travel blog wouldn’t be complete without amusingly double-entendrified everyday products, and some photos of ace local stuff. Here is my contribution to the cause:

Doing my laundry by hand was Toss

Here I am with my very own bucket of Toss laundry detergent (available in blue or white varieties, I’m not sure why).

Want to know why Kenyans are so good at running? They run marathons for breakfast. Every day. Here are some of the guys that regularly ran past us on our way to the school:

Faster! Faster!

There are giraffes in our backyard. Well, in the next door field. I shall say no more.

No explanation needed

Awesome views. Especially sunsets. And especially sunsets from Savannah’s bar, set high up on the hillside overlooking the Maasai plains. And of course no electricity means no light pollution, so once the sun has set, the night skies are super clear – you can see galaxies! Unfortunately I’ve not managed as yet to capture this on camera, but bear with me and please believe me for now.

The Savannah Sunset resort. Sadly usually closes at sunset unless invaded by Western volunteers wanting to spend money

The Maasai are one of the more colourful Kenyan peoples. Their gorgeously coloured clothes and handmade beadwork brighten up the dingiest rainy day

Pottering along

OH AND I ALMOST FORGOT! Food is not only amazingly fresh and tasty, it is pretty cheap here. I got ALL THIS for 87p!

Yum.

Yum.

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Filed under Africa, Food & Drink, Kenya, Photography, Travel

Metal, Rock, and Wooden Willies. Where am I?

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Yes I know I look like an idiot but stupid poses are compulsory on holiday. Also featured – new hat #2!

On Monday I may have mentioned I was off to see Dimmu Borgir. Whilst I am here in Iceland for a music festival, I’m not there yet, and Dimmu Borgir aren’t playing it anyway. The Icelandic Dimmu Borgir is in fact a lava field containing large and imaginatively shaped lava formations, many of which resemble castles or trolls’ houses (or in fact trolls themselves..). This is where the name comes from (it means Dark City in Icelandic). It was much less noisy than a metal gig, although fear not ear-assault fans, the musical variety of rock and indeed the odd bit of metal will begin later today! Dimmu Borgir is also home to the troll-family of cheeky Yule lads, their troll-parents and their evil Jólakötturinn. They hide in caves here during the summer then appear over the winter and cause mischief in the run up to Christmas. Who needs Santa Claus when you have 13 yule lads?

Dimmu Borgir

I really just wanted to show you some pictures of the rest of yesterday’s explorations around Mývatn. The scenery is utterly stunning, and we were lucky with the weather too. No rain! No fog! No snow! No wind! Ok so no sun either and so much cloud there was absolutely no hope of the Northern Lights later on, but it did mean we didn’t need to wrap up like mummies and that the lake was as still as a mirror:

Mývatn from Höfði

We also found some mud geysers at Hverir. These aren’t really much to look at in a photo but there’s a small plain full of teeny tiny hissing, steaming and bubbling spots in the ground. There’s so many of them that every time you look you see more of them, and the grin gets bigger and the pointing gets more excited. Well it does if you’re me – the ground ain’t supposed to bubble! There’s also a bigger pool of mud, about 2m x 1m, which noticeably (and audibly) bubbles and gloops at you like a mad scientist’s cauldron. Which as you might expect, is enough to keep me enthralled for hours.

Bubbly Mud

You probably don’t want to hear that after seeing these bizarre and uniquely Icelandic sights, we drove to Húsavík where everything was shut, including the pubs and the famous Phallological Museum. Yes, that’s right, a museum of penises. Or is is penii? Anyway, it prides itself in having an example of a penis from every species of mammal that can be found on Iceland, apart from a human one (although if you’re desperate I’m told you can go and find one to take home on any Friday night in downtown Reykjavík). A helpful notice on the door from the curator left a phone number to ring if we were “keen to see the exhibits”, offering to open the museum up if he was in town. We thought about it for about 5 seconds but despite being keen, we reckoned we didn’t really want to admit we were keen, so went to pester the man next door at the Whale museum instead. )Just to clarify we went to look at the whale skeletons, not to ask to see his bits).

The Whale museum was opened up specially too, but remember it’s the winter season in Iceland, and that’s how things work outside of the capital, seeing as there are better things to do than hang around in museums waiting for odd foreign tourists to take pictures of themselves standing next to 10 foot high wooden willies (phallological museum, remember…). With the levels of excitement running this high, we decided we’d best get going back to Mývatn as we didn’t fancy driving on this road in the dark:

Route 87 to Húsavík

On our way to Mývatn Nature Baths (an outdoor, geothermically heated swimming pool and spa, along similar lines to the Blue Lagoon but in a much more stunning setting), we had to drive past the lake itself just before sunset. I’m going to leave you with a couple of pictures of it, because a) I need to get on a plane back to Reykjavík, and b) I don’t think sunsets need words.

I may see some of you at Airwaves, where I have absolutely no idea where I need to be and when. All I have is a schedule with some scribbles on and some beer money, so I’m just going to turn up at a bar and see what happens. I could list all the bands I want to see but I suspect that would just involve showing you the schedule…. So. To Reykjavík!

Sunset at Myvatn

Icelandic horse at Myvatn

Sunset at Myvatn

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