Iceland: White Fire & Purple Ice


The truth is there are many countries much colder than Iceland (like Canada, Russia, Finland…) but the name erroneously solidifies it as subzero white-cold. In reality, Iceland is not 103,000 km square of all ice-sheets, warm summer days can reach 20-25 C, and it has many active volcanoes.

To set the records straight, Icelanders don’t live in igloos, don’t adulate elves, trolls and fairies, nor does everyone have gorgeous blond hair and doesn’t believe in god. The country has buildings, churches, roads, shops, restaurants, and every possible element of modernity. And the government doesn’t pay foreign men to marry Icelandic women like rumors had it either.

Iceland has breathtaking winter and summer sceneries: luminescent glaciers and beautiful fields of purple nootka against a waterfall backdrop. An island of fire and ice: visitors can whale watch, bathe in the iconic geothermal spa of Blue Lagoon, watch the Strokkur Geysir in amazement, see the bursts of energy from the Northern Lights, hike in the rhyolite mountains, Hekla volcano, and lava fields of Landmannalaugar National Park, explore the Skaftafell Ice Cave, or witness the Dettifoss Waterfall draping 45 meters into the canyon below…There are lots of blue and green and fiery orange in Iceland au contraire to perception.

According to an interview (published in 2005 by the Reykjavik Grapevine) featuring a story about a Vietnamese refugee named Halldór Nguyen – who is currently living in Iceland and immigrated there in 1979 – there were around 40 Vietnamese and half eventually moved to Canada. Now, there are about 100 young Vietnamese immigrants living in the capital city. The country has a few funding programs that encourage international students and young immigrants to come and settle. Although Vietnamese culture exploration is limited here, there is a Vietnamese restaurant called Vietnam Restaurant, which has two locations in Reykjavík. If this doesn’t work out, visitors can always try Iceland’s famous dish: fermented shark (100% dead serious!), or the traditional cod, salmon, haddock and lobsters, the freshest out of the sea.

Here are some snapshots from photographer TinTin Tran during his recent trip to Iceland (and he still hates himself for not trying fermented shark!).

“there are about 100 young Vietnamese immigrants living in the capital city.”

~ Vivian Luu