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Published: February 23rd 2015
Stunning views over the stormy Errera Channel
Hi to all of our loyal blog followers.
It's always great to learn new words and phrases in different languages and with an all Chinese charter, learning was inevitable! My counting in Mandarin has greatly improved for example. Prior to the trip I could quite confidently count to nothing in Mandarin, now I can count to six... I can even say 'once, twice, sold'.. Eetze, artze, maila! Please and thanks, good morning and seal. Rocks and kettle, cold and look... 春節 I can not read any of it though. The writing is very complicated and has thousands of characters. It's interesting that the Chinese writing system is so complex yet the Chinese eating system, with chopsticks, is simple...
Anyway... The Year of the Cardboard Dragon
I've just spent another three weeks in the Antarctic on board M/V Sea Spirit. One of the highlights was spending the Chinese New Year's Eve at Great Wall Station on King George Island, then returning to the ship to make won-tons. There was a lot of dancing, singing and piano playing in the bar that night too, and for some bizarre reason, the entire show ended abruptly at eleven o'clock
Whaler's Bay inside the active volcanic caldera of Deception Island in the South Shetlands.
and almost everyone disappeared to bed? There was no explanation to this other than that the schedule did not have any more entertainment for the evening... In the entertainment committee's defense, midnight in China (which, oddly, has only one time zone) was at noon Chilean time (the time of Great Wall Station) so midnight had long since passed by...
As expedition staff, we made a ridiculous dragon out of cardboard and party decorations. Draped in bed-sheets, tinsel and an epic dragon head, we crashed through the dining room and had everyone in hysterics! It was fun making the dragon, even though it was not the year of the dragon. The Year of the Goat
The Chinese New Year was on February 19th this year and we celebrated by jumping into the frigid waters of Paradise Harbour and having a barbecue on the deck. Surrounded by stunning mountains, glaciers and ice with breaching humpback whales and squabbling penguins, it was indeed a happy new year... But it would not have been happy if you were a goat!
For me thus far this year it's been 'The Year of the Boat'. I've been on two vessels and
Fur Seal in the Steam
The rising steam from the volcanic beaches of Deception Island.
many, many Zodiacs. I am learning lots about the sea! Spending so many days at sea and observing its mood-swings, I can almost read the water! What was once to me an empty and featureless expanse of shimmering, liquid meadow is now a map and a weather chart. The seabirds that follow us read the sea - they know where the food is - they know where to go. As I look out to the horizon I see our home, our world. Planet Earth is mostly covered with water and I am looking at what most of our amazing planet looks like. Beautiful blue and hauntingly empty...
I am back in Ushuaia now and have ten days off! What shall I do?
Stay tuned and find out!
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Fab photos and adventures as usual!
So, this new year, you were a dragon--better than in a pink outfit I seem to remember you wearing for some party--oh, the sacrifices of a perfect polar life! Good for you for learning some Chinese--you may be taking more of these charters in the future (and only one time zone in that huge country?!!!). Curious that you're now learning the language of the sea. I used to sail a lot and got to reading it pretty well, but perhaps you know more of the mechanical workings of the ship or some cold weather science. What do you do? I loved hikes around Ushuaia--curious to see what you come up with!
D MJ Binkley
Dave and Merry Jo Binkley
Learning new languages
Glad to hear you are nearly fluent in Chinese. Always good to ponder the complexities of a culture- writing vs. chopsticks. Sorry the party ended early it sounds like it was fun. As always utterly fantastic photos. Ten days are going to go by in a blink.