Iceland: Into the White

Entering Iceland, it’s like we’re flying into a white space. For several moments, I wondered if I was a character in Jose Samarago’s Blindness, where the whiteness is just so all-encompassing and complete, like there’s nothing else that exists. I must admit there was a great sense of anticipation as to what we might see when we finally burst out of this white canvas, or if we would simply land in such conditions.

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Flying in a cloud column

All of a sudden, I saw the deep blue of the Atlantic ocean, and felt a palpable sense of relief knowing there was concrete land to be anticipated. But it wasn’t long before the land mass of Iceland came into view and the now familiar pristine landscape rolled out before us.

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First view of Iceland

There’s usually something about a snowy landscape that’s very calming and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Especially an adulterated blanket of pure, white snow that just neatly and evenly covers everything, from rooftops to cars, and sculptures to tree branches. We were all oohing and aahing at the gorgeous views, and Dexter’s famous last words (before getting off the plane) were, “I hope I see falling snow!”

Well, his wish was granted very quickly as we were greeted with falling snow the moment we stepped out of the airport. At this point, it was still fluttering down from the skies ever so lightly and gracefully, and being snow-deprived Singaporeans, we spun around with outstretched hands in the middle of the airport car-park, catching the flakes wherever we could.

Well, this idyllic state of affairs did not last long. The lightly-falling snow, coupled with the gusty winds, soon transformed menacingly into a veritable snowstorm. We had a 2 hour drive to our cottage near Thingvellir, and visibility on the road was approximately a grand total of 2 metres. It just so happened that the snow was blowing right into the windscreen, so all anyone could really see were what looked like thousands of little snow creatures crashing into the windscreen at every second.

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Things got even more epic when our trailer got stuck in the snow as our guide was trying to do a U-turn. It took all the brave men to drag it out. Apologies for the bad picture – taking a picture in a snowstorm is no easy feat!

I consider it nothing less than a miracle that we found our way to our cottage, given how it was located in the depths of the Thingvellir national park, only accessible via a little bridge and then some offroads. The winds were howling by then and the light dancing snow of 2 hours ago had evolved into a drunken frenzy that slapped everything in its wake.

That night, the wind blew snow onto the windows, creating a continually changing canvas of crystals. I watched, mesmerised, for hours, as they slow danced up and down this transparent stage. I wish I could capture the sound of the wind adequately, even though in the warmth of the cabin it was probably nothing like the reality outside. Yet its strength is undeniable, the way it flings little bits of ice onto the window pane, like a defiant, irate artist with one heck of a paintbrush, trying to inflict as much paint onto the canvas as possible. There are moments of great gushes when the sides of the house groan, as if they are getting tired of holding everything together. And at that moment, I truly understood how the second little pig must have felt.

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A snapshot of the snow dance – frozen in time

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The morning after – we have a new snow door!

The next day the guide told us that had we departed an hour later, we would never have made it. And, that the wind was blowing at a speed of 170km/h.

It is perhaps the most symbolic welcome one could hope to receive from Iceland.

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