"Friday the 3rd of December turned out to be one of the biggest days so far for me. I was asked to accompany a small delegation (as DSL) from Davis to visit the Indian station being built down the road, then fly on to the Chinese station for a catch up. Well I did a stint in the kitchen 5:30-11:30am took a brief shower, grabbed my camera and a few warm clothes and headed off to the heli hut. Having never been in a helicopter before I was quite excited. I was also excited by the prospect of meeting other people who call Antarctica their home. The flight from Davis took around 40mins. I was still very tired from the field training the day before and managed to squeeze out around 1000 yawns before touching down on a Russian supply ship......... so there you have it, just because you yawn doesn’t mean your neurons aren’t running around as fast as they can.
The chopper flight was awe inspiring, flying over all sorts of rock and ice formations and colours not easily replicated on a paint palate. I finally saw the enormity of my surroundings..................absolutely astounding. Large ice fields as far as the eye can see were dwarfed only by the magnificent Amery Ice shelf in the distance as we made our way closer to the Indians.
|Landing on the Russian Ship|
We chatted amongst ourselves for about half an hour....................as the awkward pauses presented themselves more frequently it was decided to get off the ship and have a look around the Indian station (construction site). The station is set to be operational by the end of next summer. Wow, there is a lot of work to do. The Engineer of the project explained to us his vision and time lines for the base. It all seemed very impressive and looking at the sketch of the finished product, very pleasing on the eye (unlike a lot of buildings around the Antarctic).
From on the ice next to the ship we said our goodbyes and took off in the helis headed for Zhongshan only ten minutes away.
As we landed a couple of the Chinese expeditioners came to greet us and show us to their meeting room. The station leader came in and introduced himself to all of us .................we then sat down at a table ready to go through the motions all over again. A mass of people then entered the dining room across the hall from us. It was a Russian delegation from Prospect station (which is only one kilometre away from the Chinese).
|New Chinese Living Quarters|
Well from then on the mood was lifted and everybody became a little more social. A couple of the Chinese team gave us a tour of their station. There are a lot of new buildings being finished to modern standards......their new LQ (living quarters) is fantastic and very large .....I believe it is able to accommodate up to 150 people. It has a bank of offices up stairs, an extremely large kitchen with dining, wash up and storage all separate and a basket ball court just metres from all this. The kitchen the chef is using at the moment is about the size of my bedroom here...................not very big at all ...............poor bastard. When you watch the movies set in small villages or tight little back ally dwellings in china.............the camera always seems to pan around and into a tight little kitchen with one or maybe two people surrounded by woks, oil, food and 20 years of grime..............well this is the movie set for all those shots.
|Chef, Justin and Chinese DSL|
By the time we flew out I was ready for bed.