The Seaman and The Midnight Sun
Bembol was gesturing as four other men were listening at the pergola overlooking the river. Bembol is a seaman and he, at that precise moment, was talking about a place in a faraway land. He had been there before as part of a crew of an oil tanker. The four men were all ears as Bembol talked about a natural phenomenon called The Midnight Sun. And the place he was referring to was Svalbard in Norway.
|Map shows Svalbard in Norway located within the Artic Circle.|
Svalbard is a group of Islands in the Arctic Ocean in Norway which is in Northern Europe. Norway has Sweden, Finland and Russia as neighboring countries. Svalbard is near the North Pole. With an Arctic climate, what one sees are glaciers, fjords and mountains. Polar bears, seabirds, reindeer and foxes are in abundance in Svalbard. The coastline and other parts of the archipelago offer stunning views. In Svalbard, there is this natural phenomenon called Midnight Sun. The sun does not set in summer. It is always above the horizon. You see the sun night and day from April to August. Conversely, there are polar nights during winter. This is when climate is brutally cold. You do not see the sun from October to February. You see the aurora or the northern lights.
|The much-talked about Midnight Sun at Longyearbyen in Svalbard, Norway. (panoramiopic; caption is mine)|
|Polar Night in Svalbard, Norway. You do not see the sun in winter. Temperature can dip below -30 degrees C. (wikipic; caption is mine)|
|Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis as seen in Svalbard, Norway (inmaginepic; caption is mine)|
|Fjord is an inlet between high cliffs. (visitnorwaypic; caption is mine)|
|Fishing is a preferred activity in most parts of Norway.(visitnorwaypic; caption is mine)|
|The midnight sun in a low position as reindeer are seen grazing in Svalbard, Norway.(travelaolpic; caption is mine)|
|Large bodies of ice called glaciers seen in Svalbard, Norway (sophiesworldpic; caption is mine)|
|Polar bears outnumber residents of Spitsbergen, the largest island and the only one populated, of Svalbard in Norway.(solutionsitepic; caption is mine)|
In Svalbard, the incidence of crime is almost zero. It is such a peaceful place that policemen usually do not carry firearms. Svalbard' s population is a little over 2,000. Polar bears outnumber the residents of Svalbard who are mostly employees of mining companies, oil exploration sites, research centers and other firms. The animals are well protected by statutes or ordinances. You are allowed to shoot bears only in self defense.
|Longyearbyen is a town in Svalbard, Norway. When traveling outside the town proper, residents are required to carry firearms to protect them from Polar Bears. It is the northernmost town in the world. (nytimespic; caption is mine)|
|Houses of company employees in Longyearbyen in Svalbard, Norway. They reportedly receive very high salaries. Persons who are unemployed are not allowed to stay in Svalbard. (sophiesworldpic; caption is mine)|
|Berthed at Ny-Alesund is MV Nordsyssel. It is the Governor's official vessel. Ny-Alesund is a research town in Spitsbergen, the only permanently populated island in Svalbard. (wikipic; caption is mine)|
|NASA station at Ny- Alesund in Svalbard (wikipic)|
|Visitors getting near the world-renowned glaciers. (wikipic; caption is mine)|
|About 3 hours past midnight in Longyearbyen. Snowmobiles are popular in Svalbard. (wikipic; caption is mine)|
|University Center in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway (forksningsradetpic; caption is mine)|
|Svalbard Airport (panoramio)|
|Svalbard Global Seed Vault where samples of seeds from around the world are preserved. The vault is dug deep in the mountains of Svalbard. (solutionsitepic; caption is mine)|
|Alcohol is tax-free in Svalbard. (flickrpic; caption is mine)|
Bembol's voice was becoming hoarse. A good story teller, he ended his narration with a bragging statement: Madami akong nakita sa mundo na hindi niyo pa nakikita. He then drew from his pocket a Zippo lighter and a pack of blue seal cigarettes, offering his listeners one stick each. Puffing out smoke after smoke, he said: Sasakay uli ako sa isang buwan. Malayo na naman yun. Masarap nga madami ang napupuntahan. Pero malungkot pag wala ka sa Pilipinas. Wala, eh. Talagang ganyan ang buhay ng seaman." He then mounted his road bike, a pricey one he bought in Italy, en route to the mountains of Antipolo for the challenging ascent.
|Oil tanker (securityworldnewspic)|
|Ship illustration (largestshipspic)|
|Refuelling station in Norway (FPpic)|