Tuesday 26 November 2013

Against great odds – we made the day successful!

The day started with lots of sunshine and blue sky, but sometimes this is not sufficient. The wind was blowing very strongly and our planned landing site on the “Aitcho” Islands was so exposed that a landing under safe conditions was not possible. Also a second try on a landing site very nearby was impossible. But there was no reason to give up hope for a landing of the day!

In the later afternoon we had planned a stopover in the Chinese Antarctic station “Great Wall”. Especially as we have a Chinese charter at the moment our guests were really looking forward to this event. China established three Antarctic stations and “Great Wall” – built in 1985 – is the biggest. The station can accommodate 80 persons during the summertime and up to 40 in winter. The other two stations are “Zhongshan” – built in 1989 – and the summer station “Kunlun” – opened in 2009.

Our expedition leader Anja asked the station if we could arrive earlier for our “visit” to the “Antarctic China”, and it worked out. Around 13:00h the expedition team went ashore to find a good landing place. It was not possible to reach the station directly with our PolarCircleBboats. We had low tide and between our ship and the station “Great Wall” we found a “small wall” in form of a little underwater gravel ridge that made the sea very shallow, so much so that our boats could not sail over. But again, we are on an expedition cruise, we could handle the situation, we landed on a snow covered beach and – we walked over to the station. “Great Wall” here we come!  It was even nice to stretch our legs on this 40min. hike. Walking on white snow in sunshine under blue sky with small white clouds, what could have been nicer?

During our visit we got a good impression about the “Chinese way of life” down here in Antarctica. Many souvenirs, made in China, have been bought by our Chinese guests at the station.  At the end of our cruise the Chinese passengers will take the souvenirs back to China. You see, even Antarctica is part of the worldwide economic cycle.

The evening ended with MV FRAM’s very well-known fashion show. Officers and expedition-staff gave their best to be at least the best models, not of the world, but of Antarctica!