RAINS JOURNAL ISSUE FIVE : "ICELAND"

May 11, 2015

Four friends from the city, striving to be self-sufficient, decided to go to Iceland where they could fish, eat and sleep in the wild. Defying the climate of Iceland, they brought a great deal of RAINS products with them, kept a diary and shot an editorial showing their getaway.
Story: Baixiang Chen
Photographer: Baixiang Chen

The idea of going to see Iceland and enjoy the beautiful scenery came to us over a cup of coffee in November last year. I’ve always wanted to check Iceland off my bucket-list and Thomas wanted to go back. Thomas had completed the same trip two years prior; they drove all the way around the island. We decided quickly, that the only way to truly experience the beauty was to drive as well, but also to sleep under the open sky, and if possible, try to provide some food for ourselves by fishing.

Next up, we had to assemble a team. We managed to convince two of our friends to join us. Adam, who would bring the outdoor and fishing equipment and Kenneth, who was going to drive us around, since none of us have a driver’s license. We only had seven days to complete the trip, so we had to get on the road immediately after picking up our rental car. Getting around was quite easy, since there is only one main road that connects the country. We chose to start on the west side and worked our way around from there.

The first day’s goal was to reach a city called Olafsvik, which is a couple of hours driving from Reykjavik. During this first day on the road, we could see a theme that would be reoccurring on the west side: the landscape is pretty much the same for the entire stretch, covered in moss as long as the eyes could see, only to be interrupted by some brownish mountains. Luckily, we did find a spot that was suited for staying the night. A moss field with a tiny lake and a cliff with waterfalls right next to it. We tried to catch some fish for dinner, however, there weren’t many to catch in the lake. So we ended up starting a fire and cooking some of the food we had bought, in case we couldn’t catch any fish. This should soon repeat itself for the next couple of days, as it was impossible to find any fish in the lakes or the seas. Only on the last day, we managed to catch a tiny trout.

For the remainder of the trip, spirits were high, even though we did not catch as many fish as we had hoped for, or bathed in as many hot springs as we thought we would. The landscape had started to change drastically towards Northeast. That was where the true beauty presented itself. One day we would wake up in a valley, drive a couple of hours and then see beaches, deserts and in the evening drive through mountains covered in snow. It was magical to see the constant changes in the landscapes, and the feeling of being able to stumble upon uncharted territory anytime was exciting. We made a lot of stops that were not planned, and yet those were the ones that paid the most dividends in the end. One day we found a hidden waterfall we could have for ourselves the entire day.

 On one of the last days, finally on our way back to Reykjavik, we had to stop by the oldest swimming pool on Iceland, Seljavallalaug. The pool was situated a little hike from the main road, so we parked our car and walked inwards the country. After climbing some small hills and crossing a stream, we could finally see the valley where the pool was, but we were not alone. The other guys were faster than me, as I had to carry a little extra equipment, but I could see them standing by the entrance and not moving. Something wasn’t right. When I finally caught up to them, I asked what was wrong, and they just pointed in the direction of the pool. I walked around the corner, so I could see the entire valley and saw that we were definitely not alone: There was a couple having sex in the swimming pool. We laughed it off and walked down to the pool and jumped in. Had it been any one of us with our girlfriends, we would probably have done the same.

The last stop before heading home was Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, the best-known hotdog stand in the country. And, as a picture with Bill Clinton stuffing his face on the wall would indicate, probably also a world-famous hotdog stand. We had to see what the hype was about. With four hotdogs with godly brown sauce and soft buns in our stomachs, we headed home and were already planning our next trip.