Sunday, April 13, 2008


Yesterday I went shopping despite of the storm. It was not the kind of shopping I usually do while travelling. It was souvenir shopping. To me, this activity is for tourists (okay, I know that sounds cocky but I would love to be considered as traveller rather than a tourist). As expected, lots of polar bears, mooses, and the famous polar crossing sign. I got a few key chains, some tiny stuffed animals and magnets, all resemble or printed the white bears. When I brought to the checkout, I was stunned at the cost. Norway is notorious for being expensive.

I then went talk to Victoria, a Vicaar staff about the gear purchasing idea that I had asked her about since I got back from the pole. I was told she is in charge of acquiring the equipments so she would be the best person to discuss. I want to buy the skis and the ski poles I used in the expedition as souvenirs. This is first time and maybe the only time I thought of buying the stuffs I rent for a trip. After many times, she said she would think about it, and she finally let me know. The skis and the ski poles would cost 300 euros together, and 50 euros for just the poles. Good Lord, prices in Vicaar are even higher than Norwegian counterpart. But I was seriously considering it since this is probably the only time I can get these. I went back to the hostel and searched my wallet. Not much left, only $300 with a few one dollar bills mixed with some receipts. Our dollars feel just like other paper, no value at all. I decided to just get the poles. I checked for the exchange rate, USD has dropped even further than when I started two weeks ago. Ouch. I called Victoria to tell her I can only afford the poles and tell her I would pay in US dollar. It is $80 for the pair of ski poles that were beaten up even before I got to use them. Damn expensive. But they have some sentimental value.

And the expedition itself, freaking expensive. But the experience and memory are priceless.

And Vicaar knows it and charges people accordingly.


Metreom said...

$80 for a pair of pole is indeed expensive.

But I'm sure when you look at it, it will remind you of trekking through the terrain to reach the North Pole.

So I guess for $80 for a pair of "North POLE" isn't all that expensive afterall!


Christoph Hoebenreich said...

Hi Khai,
I am back in Longyear for a few days before I'm heading back to the ice for more. It was a very good experience to have you in the team, raising the spirit any times and bringing in a lot of good humour and fun! Although a ski-trip to the North Pole is not a walk in the Park and the conditions were not easy (low temperatures, drift, open water etc.), we experienced the highest Arctic at its best. It was a pleasure to see how you were growing into this icy world and feel more and more "at home" in the Arctic day by day. And what is most important: You tried and managed what most people do not even dare to do: To get out, take the risk and expose yourself to the harsh wilderness and dangers of the Pole and live and travel there independently. It was a big pleasure to see your smile on 90N waving the flags. Thanks for your incredible teamspirit, which I felt from the first day. I wish you all the best for your future goals and expeditions and remember: The world for polar explorers is huge, but the world of polar explorers is small. Hope to see you again.
Best greetings

Khai Nguyen said...

Hi Christoph
Hope you are all recovered and well now. Thanks for the kind words. We could not have done it without you. I am extremely glad and honored to have you guide me in the harsh environemnt of the Arctic and take care of us.

Have fun on the ice again :) I really do miss it. Say hi to George for me too.

Thanks again