mar 12 2009

Country roads…

Published by at 16:04 under Ukategorisert

I’m back from Svalbard, and for the first time ever since I started frequenting the high north, I didn’t feel like going home. I didn’t mind the cold, or the three quarters of an hour hike home to the student barracks after Uni (through a snowstorm, of course!), or the high living costs, it was THAT good. The lectures were even better this period than the one before Christmas, and meeting up with the guys again was sweet - living together with a bunch of completely different people from all over the world, that still share a common passion is special. We made food together, studied together and danced the Funky Chicken together when we were to tired to do anything else. I’ll miss them. I don’t think trying to describe every amazing experience I had there will do anything good, I’ll just repeat myself and get bored, so I’ll just post some pictures. Since my camera is broken I had to smooch some pictures off the others, thanks to Heather Mariash and Jonas for letting me use their photos and especially thanks to H for letting my borrow her camera on the dog sledging trip. I made Jonas’ pictures into links to his Picasa website.

Dog sledging with my friend Linn, who’s a dog sledging tour guide and a biology student.

Me, the dogs and the glacier...
- This is actually something I could imagine doing everyday, for the rest of my life. Me and Linn shared one sledge with 8 dogs, and the four tourists shared two other sledges. Linn didn’t feel too good, she had the flu, so she let me steer the sledge almost the whole trip  while she was relaxing on the sledge. Later that day I heard that a friend of mine had seen a polar bear at the other side of the valley we had been in – in the whiteout we had that day I don’t think we’d seen it before it was really close, but I guess the dogs would’ve reacted to it..exiting and a bit dissappointing, would’ve been cool to see «The King of the Arctic» again.
Linn and her   Linn and her »little girl» Froya
Big girl This big girl managed to run the whole trip just keeping up with the other dogs, but never pulling the sledge once. Smart one.
Lets go !  – Two exited boys, »Aroouuuuh, let’s go already!!» 
We're both tired - We were both tired at the end of a long day.
- I just love these dogs. They are a somewhat scary looking mix of Alaskan huskies, Greenland dog and wolf, especially when they all start barking and jumping, but they are soo cuddly and sweet and loveable. They get into horrible fights with each other, but they wouldn’t dream of hurting a human. Not the smartest dogs, but loyal and simple souls. I think I fell in love with all of them. Maybe except one big boy who ate the other dogs poop.
Bear Valley Student Cabin - The cabin; real time photo from our visit in the end of February.
Butt sliding down from the plateau

- Butt sliding down the mountain side from the cabin to the sea shore. Such a blast! Not as dangerous as it looks. Check out all that drift ice! Within the next day, almost all of it had dissappeared.

The Arctic light 
This is the beautiful pinkish-pastel blue light that makes the landscape look like one big aquarelle in February/March, just before the return of the sun.
Sunset over Bear Valley 
- Beautiful sunset that accompanied us home from the cabin trip. Well, the sun hadn’t come up above the horizon yet at this point, but it was nearly daylight for several hours per day. Nice change from the darkness in November. At March 8 the whole population of Longyearbyen celebrated the return of the sun, when the first sunrays are supposed to appear above the mountains. The kids had dressed up and sang the Sun Song, the mayor and others held speeches, and the sky was of course covered by a heavy cloud layer.  To minimize the dissappointment for the little ones («I didn’t sing well enough to make the sun come out!») somebody fired a flare gun on top of a nearby mountaintop, the Trollstein/Troll Stone. Then they whipped out the sunbuns (wheat buns filled with vanilla custard and topped with sugar icing) and everybody were happy. Well, except me, I didn’t get one. I’ll learn how to make them and then I’ll eat all of them myself.
Speaking of food, coming home from after spending two weeks in the Arctic, with temperatures down to – 22 ° C, I managed to catch some kind of cold on the flight home. My head and my throat hurts and my cough sounds like the one of a lung cancer patient. So I decided to cure myself with my current favourite food; thai! I made a mild coconut-curry-chicken soup that just took away all of the throat pains and almost completely cleared up my lungs. I didn’t take a picture, or take any measurements, but here’s how I did it (approximately) :
Panang Curry Paste Soup
First I took out 4 chicken fillets from the freezer for defrosting. I boiled up some water (about 1 liter) with 2 chickenstock cubes and let the frozen fillets sit in the hot bouillon until they just were soft enough to be cut into pieces (but not cooked through).
Then I chopped up vegetables:
  • 2 carrots, into nice carrot flower slices
  • 1 big onion into wedges
  • 1 red and 1 yellow capsicum into big bits
  • 1/4 of a small cabbage head

-> Threw all the veggies and the chicken in a big pot with 1 can of coconutmilk, 1/2 – 1 tablespoons of Panang Curry Paste (I wanted a mild flavour this time, normally I go for much more curry paste) and added enough of the chicken stock to cover the vegetables by an inch/couple of centimeters. I let it simmer until the vegetables were through and the chicken done, it could probably have been added at a later time and been even moister but I think it was good enough. I used 1-2 tablespoons of fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and half a lime to season the soup. The next time I might add 2 cans coconut milk instead of one, I just love the flavour of  coconutmilk.

Panang Curry Paste must be one of my absolute favourite food items when it comes to fixing up dinner quickly, and the fact that it’s sooo good is a huge bonus. I buy it at the local turkish supermarket, but you could make the curry paste yourself. The list of  ingredients as it’s written on the box:

  • Dried red chili
  • Shallot
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Lemon grass
  • Galangal
  • Cumin powder
  • Kaffir lime’s skin
  • Coriander seeds 

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