Svalbard (next to the North Pole)

Svalbard เป็น no man’s land ที่อยู่ใต้การปกครองของ Norway มีประชากรไทยอยู่เยอะมาก เพราะใครก็สามารถไปอยู่ได้ แค่ต้องขอวีซ่า Schengen เพื่อจะผ่านเข้ามาจาก Norway ที่นั้นมีกงศุล Russia ด้วย แต่ไม่แน่ใจว่าบินมาจาก Russia ได้ไหม แต่มาเรือได้ นับถือคนไทยที่ไปอยู่ที่นั้น อากาศหนาวแบบ -20c หลายเดือน แล้วยังจะมืด polar nights อีกเกือบครึ่งปี 
เราชอบที่นี้มาก ทุกอย่างแปลกตาไปหมด อากาศก็สุดๆ เหมาะกับคนที่ชอบเที่ยวลุยๆ ปีนไปใน ice cave นั่งดู aurora ข้างนอกหลายๆ ชม ไหนจะ snow mobile บนแม่น้ำอีก ห้ามขับแตกแถว เพราะอาจจะตกลงไปในน้ำได้ พอไปถึง tent ที่พัก เจ้าหน้าที่ก็ให้เอากุญแจทิ้งไว้ที่รถ แล้วเปิด power switch ไว้ เพราะถ้ามีหมีขาวมา พวกเราต้องพร้อมไปทันที พวก guide เค้าประกบหัว/ท้ายขบวน แล้วมีปืน rifle ด้วย 😂❤️ รักทริปนี้!! 

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Svalbard and Jan Mayen is a Norwegian island territory between Norway and the North Pole. It’s the northern most territory one can visit and the helicopter flight to North Pole leave from here as well. Our winter trip brought us into total darkness – Polar nights. But a good thing is that there’s a higher chance of us seeing the aurora here even with lower activity level since we’re so far above the Arctic Circle.

We’ll be here for three nights and staying at a hostel style accommodation on the outskirt of the city/town. Although its located in an inconvenient location to find food, we can walk less than 100m to the outside of the city and we can see the northern lights from there. And it won’t be too far and dangerous in case there’s any polar bears venturing into the human habituated area.
Did you know that people here carry rifles? Just in case the bears come into town! And they do get one coming in once in awhile. I think the last time the bear came and stole some dog food. The huskies are all kept in a kennel outside of town since they bark too much.
People may think that Svalbard sounds so isolated and difficult to reach, but its actually just a plane ride away from Oslo. We flew into Norway’s capital the night before and flew into Spitsbergen (the largest of the islands) in the morning. There’s no difference which flight you take here, since its all dark all the time in the winter anyway.
First thing to note if you’re planning a trip here…do bring some food! Food is ridiculously expensive here and not so good. They can’t grow anything here so all the vegetables are imported. Even though the fish are of good quality, how they presented it was just not tasty. Our one good meal was at the number 1 rated restaurant on TripAdvisor. We had pizzas there.
Our first night we went on a northern light in the snow cat (military type/tank vehicle). Failed attempt since the sky was totally cloud covered. One night down, two to go. The next day we went on an ice cave tour in the morning and husky sled ride in the evening. With all that done we came back praying that we’ll see the lights tonight. Which we did! The aurora first came out while we were still having dinner at the Radisson. It was so faint because of the city light. So we rushed back to our accommodation, took our cameras and layered up. Its freaking -20c most of the time. And that’s called warm.
We ended up sitting outside on the snow for about three hours. It was probably lower than -20c late at night. But we braved it out because the aurora was giving us a beautiful show. Freezing our asses off was totally worth it.
On our last full day here we went on a snowmobile adventure into the wilderness. We geared up in a bodysuit which will keep us warm up to -30c which was perfect since it was that cold with the wind fiercely coming against us on the snowmobile. We had to be careful and double check each other to see that all our body parts/faces were covered. No one wants frost bites! The scenery here is out of this world! Its spectacular and so different. We drove on the frozen river. We made a stop in the gorge for a snack. We left our keys in the snowmobiles and kept the engine at ready since we have to be able to leave immediately if any polar bears come near the camp. Amazing thrill!
We then got lucky for about 10 seconds on our last night and saw a flash of the aurora while we were walking back to the hostel from dinner. Overall, Svalbard is definitely on top of my list for places to visit. It’s a plus that it counts as an additional country. I’ll try to come back in the summer for the cruise tour along the coast. Hopefully, spotting some bears then.

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