Friday, March 28, 2008


It's always nice to come back to the place you visited before. You feel like you know the place and this is the time to kick back and relax and explore things at an easy pace. This is how I feel when I arrived to Longyearbyen this afternoon. This is my second time here. Last was 3 years ago when I came to check out the town and any North pole operator and the possibility of last minute deal just like the one I had in Punta Arenas for the Antarctica. The town is still the same, only more snow and brighter. The sun was out brilliantly. The pilot announced that it was -17C but it felt warmer, probbaly about -10C or so. Picked me up at the airport was Mikhail, an employee of Vicaar, the outfitter for the expedition. We introduced ourselves and the next question I asked was how many people are on this trip. He wasn't so sure but so far it is about 12. That is crowded! However, he said there are some unconfirmed so they only the count early next week. And if needed they will split us into two groups. I am one of the earlier people to show up in Longyearbyen for this trip. Mikhail also said Victor, the guy who runs the company are not around. He's in the base camp. He will be back tonight and hopefully I will get to meet him tomorrow.
I was starving when I arrived. In fact I was hungry since last night. My stomach was bothering me that I couldn't sleep at all (plus the jet lag and the long sleep in the business cabin of the previous flight - damn business class to screw up my sleep :)). I was hungry that this morning at the hostel I shoveled three big slices of bread, lots of meat and an egg plus fruit for breakfast. I almost missed my flight. By the time I got to the airport, the checkin was closed. I had to beg the airline ground staff at the check in counter to let me check in. At first they wouln't but then they found out the flight was delayed for 20 mins. Lucky me. So as soon as I checked in the hostel in Longyearbyen, I went to the grocery store right away to grap some protein and something for a hot dish. I ended up buying beef, pasta and pasta souce. A quick meal but healthy and loads of carb which I need.

Food prices in Norway are outrageous. I paid 27 kroners (approx $5.5) for a hal a litter of Pepsi bottle. And guess what? Water is not free in flight! I don't know if they expect people to dehydrate themselves to dead on a 4 hour flight. I had to pay 4 bucks for a bottle of water. And I remember to pay $16 for a McD's meal 3 years ago in Oslo.

Food is not the only thing that is expensive. Last night I arrived at Oslo late and I did not want to walk around finding the hostel. I jumped on a taxi. I know the distance is very short from the Sentralstajon (Central Station) to the Perminalen Hotel, and expect to pay maybe $10 at most. Soon as I got inside the cab, the meter showed 55 kroners ($11). When I got to the hotel, I paid 127 kroners (~$25) for 1.1 km of taxi ride. Gotta be the most expensive 1.1 km I ever paid.

The following are the newest photos of Longyearbyen. I snapped them on the way to the grocery store. Enjoy.

My bed for the next several days

A school (not sure what - could be elementary)
One of the main transportation

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