A Day Trip to Teriberka

42 Kilos to Teriberka

After a short cold walk around the hotel in the morning, the first full day in Murmansk was a drive to Teriberka (Териберка) to see Arctic Ocean. That wasn’t just long but also plain white and full of snow. And it was worth the ride.

The trip was almost scrapped because of the weather. The snow could block the road and we would waste three hour of driving there for nothing. The guide gave us a choice to Snow Village instead. However, we decided to stick with it and took the risk. We were glad for that decision.

View outside the Van

Along the road, we hardly see anything clearly outside the van even the sun. However, the sight of tundra landscape in the snow just kept us excited. There were shrubs on the side, hills behind, and some manmade cabins every now and then. They were all gray contrasting with the pale white snow. Other than that, the only colorful things on the road were the reflective sticks to mark the edges of the road.

More importantly, it didn’t feel we were in danger being in the van driven in the condition. We made two stops for photos: the road sign and somewhere with a snow wall. There, when we got out of the van, I grabbed the DSLR camera and got some shots of the spots to fulfill my photographic need.

It was still snowing in Teriberka when we arrived. At first glance, what stroke my attention were abandoned houses. According to the guide, the population was 500 because they had moved to Murmansk. Somehow, there weren’t as many abandoned houses in snowy town as we’d seen in urban or desert area. I wanted to take photos more of those houses but we had to move on.

We got on a sleigh with a snowmobile (not reindeers, unfortunately) to get to Arctic Ocean. The ride wasn’t far but rough with the wind and snow. But once we reached the shore, what we saw made it all the ride we’d done, long and rough, worth it. It was a slight feeling of being on top of the world. When I was done with photos, the guide told me that was warm for them at 0-1°c. I could only imagine when it was really cold.

Arctic Ocean

When we took a sleigh back, I was starving, so were the others. We had to walk to the only restaurant in Teriberka for the late lunch. That gave me a good chance to explore the town along the walk. What I found were more than abandoned houses. There were more of lively buildings along the walk including a new one.

To wrap up the day trip, the van dropped us off at the entrance to Aurora Village, where we would stay a night. It was halfway back to Murmansk. The snow finally stopped. While we were waiting for a FWD to pick us up to the cabin, the sky was cleared up. And we had time to just hang around on the road. Sunrays showed up for the first time in the day. And it summed it all.

 

One Cold Morning in Murmansk

The first day I arrived in Russia, my first impression of Murmansk was the apartment buildings or Khrushchyovka (хрущёвка). What I see was patterns that seemed to be the same but each block was different either by age of the buildings  or residents decorating them. That, to me, created some vibrants to the city even though it looked straight hard on the surface. This Russia trip got me excited already.

The next morning, I  wander out to see the city. It was pretty cold and snowy. I could only walk around for 30 minutes when fingers and toes started to get numb. But it was enough to get a quick sense of lives of the locals through the morning commutes.

On the same day, we would be on the road to Teriberka. It was something to remember. That’s on next post.

Beers in LA

One of some few things I liked about living and working in the States  was beer. I was curious to see what east coast had to offer when I got to LA last November. And it wasn’t a disappointment at all. On top of that, there was a good guide to take me for a pub-crawl—my nephew.

Angel City IPA, Angel City Brewery

The first taste of the local, Angel City IPA, was a brief introduction at a pub next to Egyptian Theatre before the movie. Unfortunately, the only choice I prefer at that same night at the Thai pub was Blue Moon. So, it didn’t count.

The day after we had a big yum cha lunch with my cousin and his family. And his son offered me to be a guide to the local breweries in Art District. We got to Angel City Brewery, Wurstküche, and Art District Brewing Co. That was one of the best things in the trip for having good drinks and chat with a right person. Moreover, what made it so special was that the person was your own relative you hadn’t met since we were little kid.

Somehow, it wasn’t enough. After parted with the family, it was still early in the night (with three hours time different from DC). I got down to the Brickyard pub to get some more beer. There, no beers on taps, no worries. It was a chance to explore from bottles. And I got some journal written and digested my thoughts on the trip so far. I had been full on. By the end of the night, I was pretty smashed.  Well, there were nine different beers I had that day.

The morning after, the plan to get out somewhere, like a cool café by Venice beach to write something, was scrapped. I stayed in the room for the whole last day of the trip. However, it really didn’t feel like I needed to do anything more. Considered missions accomplished.

A Glimpse of Thai Town in LA vs Sydney

I’ve always been curious about Thai Town in LA. So, another key thing, apart from visiting my cousin and his family, was to check it out. With a short time I had, I was looking for fragments that could tell some similarities and differences from Thai Town in Sydney. Not many established Thai overseas communities in this planet: LA and Sydney.

There wasn’t much time in the city. The plan was to see it in the day and night. By day was to walk along Hollywood Boulevard get glimpse of the Thai Town strip. Then, I needed to find out where Thais go out at night. And I would do those with my latest experience of Sydney in 2016 in my mind.

Obviously, the area stretched wider along the road than Sydney. Still, the two Thai Towns had similar shops: restaurants and grocers. I was pretty sure that I could find anything from Thailand in LA as much as I did in Sydney.

What I could observe, they looked they’d passed their peak. Lots of signs were decade old and some were broken, deserted, and frozen in time. It was Thanksgiving Holiday but the area was quite quiet, to my surprise. Sydney Thai Town would be busy on the long weekend like this.

I was able to find out from a Thai staff where to go at night. And apparently, the place where Thais went was just in the same block as where I had lunch.

After a movie, (2001: The Space Odyssey screening at Egyptian Theatre was such a fortunate timing to be there.) I got to Darabar Secret Thai Cuisine. It was just the right place. The bar was full with three birthday parties. All the patrons were Thais. T-pop live music was on stage. And you could get a bottle of Black Label for the table. What could be more Thai than that?

Back in In Sydney in 2016, I was taken to C-Bar, in Thai Town more than once by different peeps. It was good to see pubs for Thais to hang out even though the crowd was mixed. Thai community had come a long way. Those things weren’t there when I left Sydney in late 2010. And I was glad to see them.

It was impossible to get a deep picture of the community in LA as I could in Sydney, where I spent my life almost a decade. However, something told me that Thai identity was rooted deeper in LA than Sydney. Whereas Sydney had been catching up with more contemporary Thai pop culture than LA.

Ultimately, you could be able to tell that there was something about being Thai—whatever it is— wherever in the world. What an embrace!

Side note: the weather was a bugger. Coming from the cold in DC and hitting warm in LA was a challenge. It was steamy walking to Thai Town and then foggy and chilly at night when getting back there for a Thai pub. It reminded me a lot of autumn time in Sydney.

At The Royal Crematorium

One thing I couldn’t afford to miss when in Bangkok is the Royal Crematorium. The royal cremation ceremony was held in October 2017. The Royal Crematorium was still on display as an exhibition until December. I had an observation of people paying the last homage of the late King Bhumipol in December 2016. I was eager to see how they transformed Sanam Luang to glorify the monarch. They have done a very good job.

I don’t use a DSLR camera for a photo shoot much these days. But the day I visited Sanam Luang to take picture of it, I had so much fun. Because it was spectacular.

I arrived the place in late afternoon and the weather was perfect with overcast cloud to diffuse sunlight. It was not so busy that we needed to queue up. That gave me some rooms to take photos without bumping with the crowd.

Then, I realised that it was impossible to get deep down in details of the crematorium while photographing because of each element was created through the royal tradition with ancient Buddhist and Brahma believes. From the Funeral pyre to the surrounding pavilions converted into exhibition halls. And I didn’t do any homework on any of them what so ever.

So, yes, I was in awe and overwhelmed.

It wasn’t just the structures and the decorations that amazed me, but also the people. As the day went into dusk, the magic started to emerge—the golden hour of sunset. That was when the crowd started to form. There were some top spots for photographers stationed. But most visitors used their mobile phones or tablets to take picture considering it was a one-off event in their lifetime.

This was one of the most fun photo sessions I had for a long time. The last one I had real fun could be sunrise in Sydney I took in 2016. It reminded how much I could engage with photo shooting when the subject was astounding like this.

A freak who enjoys discovering and sharing a simple beauty of life even in a strange place

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