Finnished with lights from above

As an alternative of complicating issues, the plan was easy – go to Finland on the final days of autumn, after we’d nonetheless get to see the putting shiny pink and burnt orange leaves within the forests, after which greet the primary snowfall of winter.

Though the temperature cools significantly, I nonetheless needed to see the aurora borealis (northern lights) earlier than the snow might change into an issue.

Autumn, or fall in American English, is among the 4 temperate seasons marking the transition from summer time to winter, and for Finland, that occurs from September to March.

I arrived at Saariselka, within the north of the little nation, after a drive not in contrast to going from Petaling Jaya to KLIA on a great site visitors day, say 40 minutes or so. The journey took us from Ivalo airport to a near-empty lodge. What a curve ball!

There was simply the receptionist, who doubled up as a prepare dinner, and was taking go away earlier than peak season begins in December. The plain one-meal soup supper made no try in getting issues began with a bang.

But, friends roamed the flooring, individuals who had been additionally benefiting from the low season package deal.

Forest around Saariselka, Finland. — WONG CHUN WAIForest round Saariselka, Finland. — WONG CHUN WAI

Most travellers go to Finland for one in all watching snowstorm, witnessing the northern lights or indulging in snow actions, or all of them.

Casting apart conference, my plan was clear, although. I needed to take the twists and turns by the forest of the Urho Kekkonen Nationwide Park within the northern Boreal Forest Zone, an space lined by huge, wild forests.

So enormous is that this land, that the park boundary extends all the best way to the Russian border, the place a lot of the forest includes old-growth dry pine.

Protecting over 2,550sq miles (6,604sq km), it’s one in all Finland’s largest protected areas. Traditionally vital is the park that it’s named after its late president and prime minister.

The Suomujoki river flows by the northern areas of the park and gives a picturesque view of the world. Even with the visible distraction, monitoring by the park remains to be simple.

There are marked paths within the western half, and it takes only some hours’ stroll to achieve most elements of the park, the place the reward is invariably image alternatives.

For individuals who have trekked by tropical jungles and the African savannah, the place wildlife is considerable, this park could appear barren and unattractive.

However one solely must look nearer. The fantastic thing about the forest floor is its thick layers of fern moss – or blueberry and redberry, to Malaysians.

It was a deal with to pluck them from the bottom and eat them similar to that, like how the animals on the mountain do.

   Red berries at Urho Kekkonen National Park. — WONG CHUN WAI/The StarPink berries at Urho Kekkonen Nationwide Park. — WONG CHUN WAI/The Star

“A number of the most typical crops on fell tops are the Black Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum subs. hermaphroditum) and the Black Bearberry (Arctostaphylos alpina).

“The world’s fell slopes are additionally colored by blooming Blue Heath (Phyllodoce caerulea), Alpine Azalea (Loiseleuria procumbens) and Diapensia (Diapensia lapponica). When leaves flip stunning colors in autumn, the arctic bearberry glows a vivid pink on the fellsides, ” reads an internet site on the nationwide park.

I spent 4 days strolling to numerous spots within the park in addition to the forest areas close to the lodge. Actually, I even went on an evening stroll.

Having seen the northern lights in one of many nation’s most remoted areas, Utsjoki, a few years in the past, my spouse and I didn’t have excessive expectations for a repeat efficiency. If Mom Nature handled us to a lightweight present, it will simply have been a bonus.

On the flight from London to Ivalo, the airplane was stuffed with mainland Chinese language and Japanese vacationers. This appeared puzzling as a result of snow is unquestionably one thing they’ve of their homelands, however I ultimately realized that these two nationalities shared the identical perception – chancing of the lights would deliver a substantial amount of luck!

I had no such superstitious cravings and remained resolute with my plan to easily stroll into the forest throughout autumn and catch the sunshine snow of winter.

Urho Kekkonen National Park. — WONG CHUN WAI/The StarUrho Kekkonen Nationwide Park. — WONG CHUN WAI/The Star

On the primary morning, we woke as much as see a snow-covered floor, whereas we took within the in a single day transition.

With the forgettable soup firmly consigned to the historical past books of misadventure, this sight was a sign of higher issues to return. If the snow had bowled us over, the reindeer strolling alongside the roads left us gob smacked. Them hooked up to the tip of Santa’s sleigh is one factor, however seeing them milling round like domesticated animals is a wholly completely different proposition.

By that time, we had checked autumn leaves, snow and reindeer on our checklist, however the northern lights had eluded us, virtually till the tip, proper earlier than fortune stepped in. On the final night time of our keep, a employees member got here knocking at our door simply earlier than 9pm, urging us to shortly come out as a result of the sky was stuffed with aurora lights!

Though we had been in our pyjamas, we shortly turned into our winter clothes. I rapidly tried to arrange my digicam and tripod, however fearing we’d miss the principle occasion, my spouse resorted to the comfort of a cell phone as a substitute.

   Aurora borealis, better known as northern lights in Finland. — WONG CHUN WAI/The StarAurora borealis, higher often called northern lights in Finland. — WONG CHUN WAI/The Star

Extremely, the images got here out razor sharp, capturing all of the sensible, beautiful and luminous lights. I’m unsure if my digicam would have carried out a greater job, actually.

There it was up within the clear sky, the magical shiny inexperienced colors dancing away, as if to indicate off to us mere mortals God’s may.

The unimaginable pure gentle spectacle lasted for nearly an hour, and there I used to be considering earlier than the journey how I stood a slim probability of catching a mesmerising show once more.

However as thrilling because it all was, we knew when to retreat for the night time. There’s a purpose we had been in our jammies within the first place. Belief me, if you’re already curled up in mattress in wintertime in a spot like that, only a few issues will get you out and about, however that’s the northern lights for you.

It’s actually an enigma. With out science explaining the way it occurs, this might simply be seen as some extra-terrestrial, or divine creation. However then once more, possibly it’s…

It was an exhilarating journey to have the ability to witness the solar, ice and clear sky, together with the sunshine, multi functional place. My Indian mates inform me luck, good and dangerous, is available in threes. I should have been very lucky then.

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