Friday, 7 August 2009

An Exciting Trip to the Antarctica (South Pole of the Earth)

On Janauary 2008, I got an opportunity to travel Antarctica for a scientific study with a group of Korean Scientists under the organization of Korea Polar Research Institute (KOPRI). I worked in KOPRI for 2 years as a post doctoral researcher. Although it is a long back story, today, I am going to share some of the experiences regarding my Antartic trip with theAdd Image valued readers of this blog.

Our travel was started with the Korean Air from the Incheon International Airport, South Korea. After crossing the largest ocean in the earth, the Pascific ocean, we reached to Los Angelos Airport (LA), USA which was 13 hours long flight. After 4 hours of transit in LA, again the travel was continued with the Latin American Airline (LAN) Chile. With one hour transit in the capital of Peru, Lima, the flight was landed in San Tiago International Airport, Chile after 13 hours long flight. Then, with the domestic LAN, we reached to southern city of Chile, Punta Arenas in three hours.

On the flight, we saw beautufil scenes of live volcanoes and I tried to catch some snaps with my camera. On the airport, the hotel bus was waiting for us and we reached to the hotel. With that hectic 29 hours long flight we were so tired that we just slept for almost 2 days in a hotel. So horrible and unforgettable experiences in my so far journey which I can hardly forget. But, after getting there and taking a full rest I was so excited finding myself in complete another part of earth. To reach the Antarctica from Punta Aranes, we need to cross 1200 km long Antarctic Ocean.The weather of the Antarctic ocean is so unstable that the flight cancellation is very common there. Actually the flight is very rare and cancellation is so often. Luckily, after 3 days of Punta Aranes stay, we got a chance of flight with the Army plane of Chile Airforce. After 2 hours long flight we reached to Antarctic station of Chile. The flight was so terrible that there was no toilet, folding seat and sound proof system in the plane. A plastic bucket was a toilet, all the passengers were tied with a rope so that they will be intact in their plastic belt in a long bench. The situation was similar to army who are deployed for a airforce mission or war. The sound was so loud that no one could listen even we shout near the ear. From the Chile station, by using a moter boat, we reached to Korean station after 30 minutes.
The weather of the Antarctica consists of strong wind, wind speed 200 km per hour is very normal, high UV radiation and so cold even in summer. I remembered that we stayed 96 hours continuously with in a single room because of bad weather. Such horrible times comes very frequently. So, to pass time there is well facility of free telephone to call arround the world, TV
channels, fitness center and DVD vedio library.
Even, we can conduct some experiments, prepare the sample. Some time I watched 4 movies with in a single day just to pass the time. There is no dark in the night during summer.
My mission was to collect Lichens (Jhayou in Nepali) which could be used for several medicinal purposes. During my stay, I could able to collect about 11 species of lichens which later investigated in lab and got several useful compounds among them a compound which we named by ourselves as Ramalin was novel with veriety of medicinal potential.

During that trip I saw some intresting things, a fossile of Whale Fish just lying on the ground. The beautiful birds Penguins, some intresting and strange animals and birds. Especially, i never forget luring glaciers, hills covered with snow, clean and blue sea.
There are several research stations of different developed countries such as Japan, Korea, China, the USA, the UK, Brazil, Chile and others. These countries are investing a lot of money for the scientific research of the Antarctica. Not only in the Antarctica but also in Arctic region (the North Pole of the earth) is also a focal point of scientific research of developed countries. On this back ground, it is also possible that Nepal mountains especially himalaya which is also termed as third pole of the earth, can also be a distination of scientific research. For example, the UK has already started a research lab in the Everest base camp to examine how the body reacts with the low oxygen and low air pressure level in various altitudes. Similarly, investigation of several medicinal plants and their chemical constituents might also be the interesting fields to attract the foreign research investments. Lets hope the day will come sooner or later.
At the end, I would like to acknowlegde Rajendra jee that he insisted me continuously to recall my old memories since long back.

(Photos: 1.writer himself infront of Ice mound, 2. Live Volcano in Chile, 3. & 4. Penguins flocks, 5. the fossil of Whale and 6. the SeaLions)


D. Gautam said...

Very interesting and live experience!!! The sequesnce of the article is also well knitted. This is a amazing opportunity that you directly involved in such a great mission. To my knowldge, you are amongst the very few lucky Nepalese citizen to visit this far and very far horizon from Nepal. Many many congratulations!!!!!!!!!

rajendra said...

It is a really a dream land for all of us. People see the dream only those things what he or she has seen or told about. But, noone has talked to us about the beauty and resources available in this continent. It is so, not many nepalese has visited this place. In fact it is beyond the imagination. To experience the things which many nepalese are not able to dream about, is the true destiny. Until now, I think not more than 20 nepalese (?!) have got opportunities to visit this place. To be one among very few destined people, in itself is the great achievement. And, to be among few researchers, to get opportunity to explore this almost virgin land, is not less than fulfilling dream!
The ways, the writer linked his pleasant trip to the context of Nepalese situation, is wonderful. That shows tremendous possiblity for nepalese scholar! Hopefully, Dr. Bhattarai and all his colleagues from Goettingen and abroad will definitely find ways to work towards in future!
Before, ending the comment, i will like to heartly thank Dr. Bhattarai for providing opportunity to experience the beautiful scenaries of the place.

akunwar said...

Yes its really amazing experience for Hariji. I really enjoyed reading this article. I agree with Devraj ji and Rajendraji that Hariji is "the" lucky person among few Nepalese who got chance to visit the mysterious island,,,the Antarctica. I had read one article in where one of Nepalese described his wonderful experience in Antarctica. So, I guess Hariji might be the second or first among Nepalese who visited there.

By the way just for correction, the airport name in Chili is San Tiago, you might have confused it with San Diego, which is in USA.

Best Regards

Baburam said...

Great Harijee for sharing the adventure. Really great opportunity to be in the 7th continent of the world. I could assume that I will be able to reach and touch lively six continent but not in Antarctica.

Hari Datta Bhatarai said...

Dear all ,
Thank you very much for your valuable comments. Many thanks to Ajaya jee who pointed mis spell in San Tiago airport. It was really exciting experience but made a lot of delay to share with you all in written.

नयां लाउरे said...

Nice travel memory in one of the remote place on the earth Harijee.