[Wanderlust Tips December 2019] With the theme “Wintry Walks”, Share the love section in December 2019 will take you to an amazing variety of famous wintry destinations around the world. Every story will bring an extremely thrilling experience to help readers have a better understanding of the extraordinarily wintry charm in various countries.
ARCHITECT, HANOI | PAKISTAN – FULL OF CHARM AND SURPRISES
Like so many other Vietnamese people, my first thoughts about Pakistan are not entirely positive as I have read and heard a lot about the effects of war and the instability in the country. However, when I arrived in Gilgit Baltistan, Northern Pakistan, I was extremely surprised by the serenity and tranquillity of this place. Arriving in Phandar, Kerimabad and Hunza, I was overwhelmed by the friendliness and kindness of the locals. All differences in language, religion and culture are erased by their warm smiles and hospitality. The local people here have a peaceful life without much pressure, so during my time in Pakistan, I never saw anybody get angry or get into an argument.
Pakistan is also home to a variety of breathtaking landscapes. I visited Hunza on the last days of autumn, the weather was pleasant with brilliant sunshine and a gentle breeze. However, when night fell, it was extremely cold and the temperature dropped to -2oC. Khunjarab Pass and the border between Pakistan and Xinjiang are much colder than Hunza Valley. When my family arrived, the temperature dropped to -15oC. It was as if the icy temperatures penetrated every cell in my body, so I did not dare expose any part of me. After this trip, I concluded that Pakistan is completely different to how I imagined and boasts an extremely exotic beauty.
ASSISTANT AT WHO, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND | EXPLORE GREENLAND – THE LAND OF ICEBERGS
I opted to travel to Nuuk – Greenland’s capital which is covered in thick ice and is home to fantastic unparalleled scenery all year round. The place is usually crowded for about three months. The sailing tour that I participated in exploring the Scoresby Sund Fjord on East Greenland in the second week of September, was the last of the tourist season. In late September, the autumnal weather is diverse bringing sunshine, hail and snow. However, it is generally not too cold, the lowest temperature is about to -4oC. When travelling to Ittoqqortoormiit village, my first impressions were good. The village is only 800km away from the South Pole and seems completely separate from the outside world.
In Greenland, tourist services are quite expensive because almost all the essentials are imported. Visitors here will the opportunity to witness hundreds of villagers rushing to the street to welcome the freight trains, creating an extremely fantastic atmosphere. A highlight of my Greenland trip was when I left the boat to the mainland for a trek to reach the top of the mountain and admire the immense icebergs. The most special day was the day before the end of the tour. I never forgot the spectacular moment when day changed to night in Greenland. One side of the boat was lit by the moonlight whilst the other side was bathed in the warm glow of the setting sun. At the end of the boat, green aurora rays dazzled before my eyes.
PHOTOGRAPHER, HCMC | AN ICY -35OC AND MOVIE-ESQUE SCENES
Two years ago, I took a trip to visit tribes near the Mongolian border – the chilly land. I really experienced travelling in winter when the temperature dropped to -35oC. Even now I feel the trip was like something out of a movie with many interesting surprises, dangers and even difficulties. During my days in Mongolia, I was immersed in wildlife during extreme weather. Every morning, we had to melt ice for water to wash and always had bread, peanut butter or jam for breakfast. Our lunch was a heartier meal of boiled lamb and our dinner was always served with instant noodles.
As night fell, the temperature continued to drop. Despite wearing three layers of clothes and wrapping myself up in my sleeping bag, the icy coldness made me shudder. To try and keep warm, each member of the group took it in turns to fetch firewood to keep the fire going. Apart from the cold weather, Mongolia was an exhilarating and memorable trip. It was the first time that I have had to deal with unexpected incidents. For instance, my foot slipped into a hole and I lost momentum at one point whilst climbing snow. It was also the first time I have ridden reindeer or organised a party and campfire. I will never forget the time I spent in Mongolia. Especially, the glowing embers of the dazzling fire against the snowy forest.
OVERSEAS STUDENT, ENGLAND | SNOWMEN ARE DISPLAYED WIDELY AT UNIVERSITY
I arrived in Brighton, a south coastal city in England three years ago. Even though the coastal city is typically cold in winter, it is said that snow rarely falls here. Therefore, I was a little bit surprised to see snowflakes falling on a wintry day after two years studying in the country. My campus is wide and flat so it is estimated that about 10cm of snow had covered the ground. Everyone was extremely excited about playing in the snow together. Taking a stroll around the campus, I was surprised and overwhelmed to see an amazing variety of snowmen everywhere.
Baby snowmen were displayed on the balconies and giant snowmen were placed in front of the library. In spite of the cold weather and snowfall, the rays of gentle sunshine shone through the white cloud, making the white surroundings even more magical. Brighton is known for its steep roads and streets. If people forgot to spread salt before the snow falls, then the slopes can become a treacherous skating rink. Even if I was late for class, I would not run as I did not want to fall down on the main street. By the end of 2019, I will finish my studies in England and return to Vietnam. The snowy days will definitely be the most unforgettable and emotional moments during my time living and studying in Brighton.