Pandatime

Some years ago, I decided to do a short period as a volunteer at the Bifengxia Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in China. It’s indeed hard to describe the feeling, to get the chance to observe these beautiful animals up close.

 

© Cecilia Hallström Photography

Ski waypoints with a crazy touch

Some crazy good, some crazy fun, and some just crazy, simply for the heck of it

  1. Gulmarg, Kashmir, India (3979 m, with the highest ski lift in the world) This was crazy good (great snow conditions), a bit scary (experienced both an earthquake and a snow storm while there), as well as crazy fun (the ability of being hauled to the lift on a sled). Hotel Highlands Park is worth mentioning, complete with the mix of really good service, beautiful views, coziness and lovely food.
  2. Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (5895 m) This one was just for the heck of it, having reached the summit carrying mini skis “just in case”, of course I couldn’t resist taking a few turns.
  3. Chacaltaya, Bolivia (5420 m) Feeling nostalgic since there is no skiing here anymore – the glacier melted away in 2009. Climate change is happening now!
  4. Yabuli, China (1374 m) Crazy cold, at – 38 °C – my coldest ski experience. I suppose the resort has changed since I celebrated one New Year there, admiring one of the world’s longest toboggan runs parallel to the slope and hoping for an alternative to the “Deer penis soup” on the menu. Happy New Year! Lots of fluffy snow though.
  5. Tiffindell, South Africa (2900 m) I was warned by so many, not to go travelling on my own in South Africa, but had an amazing time. Great fun in the African snow!
  6. Oukaimeden, Morocco (3258 m) How bizarre! Some used donkeys instead of the ski lift, and standing on top of the mountain with snow under your boots, looking out over the desert sand, is a weird experience.
  7. Thredbo, Australia (2037 m) Snow gums with oil rich leaves made the air filled with eucalyptus smell that could have fooled you to believe your were inside a cough drop, and the crimson rosellas (red and blue parrots) close to the slopes were such an exotic sight.
  8. Yong Pyong (Dragon Valley), South Korea (1458 m) No powder, but hard snow on well-groomed slopes and efficient service. It’s a wonder I reached the place though, because of so many language difficulties, and even a bigger wonder I managed to find my way back to Seoul!
  9. Mt Olympus, Cyprus (1951 m) Crazy fun waypoint on a road trip around Cyprus, combining sunbathing with skiing.
  10. Nevis Range, Scotland (655 m) Crazy bad snow conditions – unfortunate timing, however worth the trip because of the good company and new acquaintances.

And…here are some photos:

Playlist for some waypoints

I thought to myself the other day, isn’t it funny how music can forever become connected to a certain place! Going through some of the songs that got stuck in my head, I noticed how quite a few were also connected to funny stories, not a few in connection with serpentine roads…

This is my playlist for some of the waypoints (and the stories behind it all):

  1. “Cecilia” by Simon & Garfunkel
  2. “Fly Away” by Lenny Kravitz
  3. “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole
  4. “Popcorn” by Gershon Kingsley
  5. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams
  6. “Moves like Jagger” by Maroon 5
  7. “I Feel Good” by James Brown
  8. “Illit minillutit” by Stinne Jacobsen
  9. “Tu Quieres Volver” by Gipsy Kings
  1. In 1995 I went to Italy together with my dear friend, Joanna, and as it were I ended up in hospital – though not because of a skiing accident, but because I suffered from pulmonary embolism. I was sent to two different hospitals and was taken care of in an excellent way. During one of the ambulance rides (on winding roads at high speed) a very cute guy held my hand and sang the song “Cecilia” to me. I was in great pain, so it was a great distraction even if also somewhat surreal.
  2. Lenny Kravitz’s “Fly away” was the background music played by the taxi driver, Rocky, who brought us into the Moroccan desert, when Joanna and I went on a walkabout which involved everything from sleeping in the Saharan desert next to a camel to skiing in Oukaimeden at an altitude of 3200 metres (again reached on winding roads at high speed).
  3. “Unforgettable” is my favourite request at any Japanese karaoke bar.
  4. “Popcorn”: to me, this song means revisiting my childhood winter holidays in Norway. In order to reach Dalseter, one has to drive on winding roads.
  5. “Happy” was the preferred choice of song for the serpentine roads of Liguria when on holiday in Cinque Terre together with my boyfriend, Michael.
  6. During my stay in China, to work as a volunteer with pandas, I went with some friends into the city of Ya’an. I think that we were all in a state of delight mingled with terror when the driver who took us there seemed to think he was in some kind of race against time. He was equally intent on managing the sharp curves as handling the back scratcher.
  7. In Nikko, Japan, in company with fellow exchange students, I remember waking up and feeling in a very good mood. So, I couldn’t help but singing James Brown’s “I feel good” out loud – waking up the others to a not so fantastically good mood because of it.
  8. Stinne Jacobsen’s song in Greenlandic is simply the perfect match to the fantastic holiday I had in Apussuit Adventure Camp – a story well worth telling separately…
  9. I end this playlist with Gipsy Kings just because it reminds me of my 30th birthday, celebrated in Tokyo, together with great friends. Thanks Marleen, Mia, Jon and Örjan!