Pioneer of the Month - Pam Chiang

Photo: Pam Chiang

Welcome to our “Pioneer of the Month” series! Every month we will feature individuals that were inspired to take the road less traveled and ventured to Greenland with us to discover the powerful nature, colorful culture and pure beauty of this country in the arctic. Just like the first explorers from centuries past, our “pioneers” experience an adventure of a lifetime on pristine and untouched landscapes.

Pam, a lively and lovely person residing in Singapore, is an avid traveler that shared her epic East Greenland winter experience with us.

What motivated you to visit Greenland?

I was looking at pristine destinations that involved dog sledding, because I got hooked on it when I went to Norway last year.  Of course, the sleds are different in each country. In Norway, it is done with smaller sleds and fewer dogs. That trip was on a set trail and not in the wilderness; however, it was fun to learn to mush.  Unfortunately, I could not spare two extra days in Greenland to learn to mush, so I decided to just enjoy the trip being a passenger.

Did you travel solo or with a group?

I traveled solo, but I joined an expedition group in East Greenland. There was a total of five solo travelers, three mushers, and a guide.  We hit it off very well.

Which tour did you take and why did you choose it?

I chose the Dog Sledding and Northern Lights tour, an eight day excursion where you dog sled for five days.  We did not actually see any Northern Lights because we went to sleep before it was dark.  I never expected it but I slept so well in the sleeping bags.  Everyone in our group had seen Northern Lights before, so no one was disappointed not seeing it in Greenland.

What is one thing you will always remember about your tour?

I have TOO MANY!

The company, the laughs, the silence, and the dogs.  I made new friends on the trip, which is always exciting!  We laughed a lot during our time hanging out in the hut, especially during the first two days of heavy snow.  The trip also brought out the kids in all of us.  We threw snowballs at each other and rolled down the hills in the snow.

One of my group-mates, Kat, is one amazing lady. She is totally young at heart.  She can stand the cold and she would take a cold snow bath every single morning.  On the second morning, I decided to join her. We ran out naked in the cold with only a towel and started to roll around in the snow.  It was fun and freezing!  What an experience, but one time was enough for me.  My toes were hurting when we were back in the hut thawing!  I only did this because I knew there was a warm hut waiting for us after the snow bath!

“For a chatty and city girl like me, it was the total escape. It could not get more zen than that.”

The best moment  was on the second day of sledding. We went to a hut owned by Michael (one of the mushers) to check out the icebergs. At some point, my sled, which I shared with Kat and Enok (our musher who is the dog sledding champion of East Greenland), went first into this valley.  And all of us were in total silence.  It was snowing. All we heard were the dogs breathing and the snow falling.  For a chatty and city girl like me, it was the total escape. It could not get more zen than that.

After five days with the dogs, it was so hard to say goodbye.  There is a little boy who has stolen my heart, “Bamsee” (teddy bear). He was still in training and he would always jump on the sled like he was one of us.  When he could not keep up on a downhill going into Tiniteqilaaq and got under the sled, I thought my heart would stop.  Luckily, he was unharmed.

What is something that you learned about Greenland that surprised you?

When visiting the Ammasalik museum in Tasiilaq, we learned that referring to the indigenous locals as eskimos is derogatory. The politically correct term is Inuit.  I never knew that.  Please pardon my ignorance on that matter.

Unfortunately and sadly, the various issues related to alcoholism do not surprise me much. I think living in such extreme conditions and balancing keeping tradition and embracing progress have contributed greatly to the issues, and I suppose they are hardly atypical to Greenlandic societies.

My days in Greenland were so short, and yet rich in experiences. I have a few personal reflections on the place and the people.  As a matter of fact, my Greenland blog post is the LONGEST one I have ever written. I usually try to break up the posts depending on the topics discussed. However, I wanted to present Greenland in a totally holistic way.  It is a beautiful place with so many complications and potentials underneath it all.

If you had more time in Greenland, what else would you like to see and do?

I would like to visit other areas of Greenland, especially South Greenland in the spring/summer.  I also would like to see the largest icefjord: Ilulissat. I am not very fit, but crossing the ice cap would have been the ultimate adventure and dream.

I would also like to take a boat ride to track down polar bears and see them up-close.

Do you have any tips for people that want to visit Greenland?

Keep an open mind. Be flexible. Spend the time to really be in Greenland.  Day trips from Reykjavik to Kulusuk or stopping by while taking a cruise do not do Greenland justice, neither do they contribute greatly to Greenlandic economy.  

“I have also become addicted to Greenland. I hope I will have the opportunity to come back to different regions of Greenland during the different seasons.”

What adventure are you off to next?

My main travel bucket list is to go to all spanish-speaking countries/territories in the world.  I am just slightly over halfway. I will go back to that mission on my next adventures.  The actual destination picked will depend on how many weeks I can take off from work. If I have three weeks, Ecuador is mostly likely the next destination.  If fewer than that, I will look at countries in Central America, instead.

I have also become addicted to Greenland. I hope I will have the opportunity to come back to different regions of Greenland during the different seasons.

To read more about Pam’s amazing winter adventure in East Greenland, you can check out her blog Roaminjuliet.com.  To keep up with her journeys around the globe, follow her on Instagram.

Have you been to Greenland with us and would like to be featured as a “Pioneer of the Month?” Feel free to email us at jewells@mountainguides.is or call +354-522-4933.

Start planning your unforgettable winter adventure in Greenland by browsing our tours here.

 


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