Godan daginn, Elskan minn! (Good day, my love!) This is Jason. I’ve been to about 30 countries around Asia, Europe, and North America. So far, Iceland is my favorite. Maybe I’m a bit biased because I had the opportunity to live there for sex (six) months last 2015. Takk, Island! (Thanks, Iceland!)
I was hoping that I could stay longer. Man, Iceland was lit! It’s like you’re on a different planet. I’d definitely go back someday. The following are the 10 reasons why Iceland is my favorite country:
1. CLEANEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD
According to CNN, Iceland is the cleanest country in the world (Martin, 2014). Pollution is very minimal. I think the small population (~330k) plays a big role in the environment. Props to Iceland on keeping it clean! There’s not even a single mosquito on the island. Leave a piece of cake at home in the Philippines, the ants would be swarming in no time. Leave a piece in Iceland over a week, lo and behold… Still no ants! What sorcery is this? That’s how awesome Iceland is!
They promote the use of clean and renewable energy, especially geothermal (GEO means earth, THERMAL means heat so it’s the heat from deep down below). Approximately 90% of their heating and hot water requirement came from the direct use of geothermal resource. And when there’s geothermal around, it means there’s hot springs, lagoons, spas, and heated pools nearby. A perfect way to relax in a cold country like Iceland, besides cuddling a person, is to dip in that warm oozing water. Get comfy and bath away!
2. LESS STRESS
As compared to the Philippines, Iceland is a lot less stressful. In what way? Let’s start with the population. The Philippines has over a hundred million people while Iceland has over three hundred thousand. Fewer people means less chaos, less traffic, and less crime. I know it doesn’t necessarily translate to that, but in this case, I think it does. Perhaps the resources of a smaller-sized country are more manageable than a larger one. Traffic is defined by just waiting for a few minutes. And when I say few, I mean 10 to 15 minutes max. Iceland’s murder rate is also very low – the third lowest rate in the world. It is around 1.8 per year (Pakes and Helgi, 2017).
The gap between the rich and the poor, the men and the women, and the superior to the subordinates are almost non-existent. Everyone is treated equally, at least from my perspective. A kitchen staff in Iceland will be able to sustain his/her needs while spending on the wants AKA traveling abroad. A person with the same job in my home country finds it difficult to even afford going out of town. You can also address everyone by their first name: your teacher, your boss or even the President of the country. No sirs and no ma’ams, how cool is that?
3. THERE’S A BIG FILIPINO COMMUNITY
I’m surprised that there are a lot of Filipinos in Iceland. Filipinos are indeed everywhere, even on a remote island between the US and the UK. I don’t have the numbers but a large percentage of them came from Cebu and Leyte. I learned a bit of Bisaya while living there. And it’s funny how the “Tagalog” and “Bisaya” spoken kids can’t even understand each other by using their own dialect. They communicate using the Icelandic language, of course. It’s also cute to see and to hear half-Icelandic kids talking in the Filipino language.
When you’re surrounded by your countrymen, you’d feel at home. You’d be invited to several parties. Parties would mean food + beer + karaoke nights + take away bags. Hurray for free food!!! The Filipino hospitality would definitely make you warm in Iceland. <3
4. AURORA BOREALIS
We’re being invaded by aliens! Hmm… wait a minute, it’s the northern lights! I believe everyone has this on their bucket list. Oh, don’t deny it. Everyone wants a glimpse of that dazzling green lights above the sky. You’d like to thank the solar storms and magnetic fields for this. The first time will make you cry, I swear. :’)
It’s the Asian dream to experience a snowfall first-hand, to make an angel form on the ground, and to wear those thick, designer jackets. For the locals? Snow is a pain in the @ss. You have to shovel every now and then especially in the winter where the snow gets very thick. For the tourists? Fun! Fun! Fun! We’re talking about snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling, snowball fight, hiking, and a lot more. Iceland is a winter wonderland. If you look at the car seat window while traveling on the main road, you would just see white – a vast land of snow as white as your soul.
Jason’s hot tip: Rent a car in Reykjavik and drive to Westfjord for awesome snow scenery
Ice, ice, baby! Had to put that song in. Anyways, in this post, snow refers to the white thing you use to build a snowman while ice refers to the bluish thing you see on the glacial lagoons. Or in other words, the ice bergs. I’d let the pictures do the talking…
Chasing waterfalls is one of the best things to do in this country. There’s a lot of waterfalls to see. My favorites are Svartifoss, Seljalandfoss, and Dettifoss.
8. THE COOLEST DIVING SPOT
Fancy a dive or a snorkel between the North American and Eurasian plates? Sounds cool right? ‘Cause it is, figuratively and literally! You’d be needing a dry suit for a 1°C dive, wouldn’t you? The water is crystal clear and refreshing. You could actually take a sip of the water. Don’t worry. It’s clean and perfectly safe. Just enjoy it and be amazed. It’s an experience you’d never forget!
9. PARTIES AND FESTIVALS
Icelandic people do know how to party. They’re hardcore party goers. The clubs at the downtown are open ’till the break of dawn. Try one of the clubs with your dashing outfit. Drink a beer and dance your heart out!
I even experienced a mini concert held on top of a mountain (Mt. Esja). I think they used helicopters to set up the equipment. But the best music festival I’ve been to was the festival celebrated once a year in Westmann Island. There were a lot of drunken people, happily singing and dancing. Locals, tourists, and strangers just drinking booze and hanging out while several bands play their songs. It was a night to remember with fireworks, food stalls, tents, and everything else needed for an awesome festival.
10. TONS OF HIKING SPOTS
The nature in Iceland is second to none. You’d see landscapes you thought you’d only see on post cards. It’s very pleasing to the eyes. If you’re a hiker, you’d love Iceland more. However, some would argue that Iceland is very boring, very calm, quiet and laid back – just mountains and rocks, no skyscrapers and tall buildings. Well…this is what I’d say to them: “there’s no boring place, they’re just boring people.” 😀
Bonus info: Thu Ert Falleg (pronounced Thu Errh Fatleg) is the Icelandic for “You’re beautiful” and Eg Elska Thig (pronounced Yeg Elska Thig) is for “I love you.”
So there you have it. Cancel your plans and book a ticket to Iceland now! You won’t regret it!
“Top 10 cleanest countries of the world.” – from CNN
“How a rare murder in Iceland has chilled a nation” – There was a recent murder case. Everyone, including me, mourned and followed the case.
Want to learn how these amazing lights were formed? Watch it here.
Rent a car at citycarrental.is
Check out the events at visitwestmanislands.com
Include Iceland on your Euro trip, see sample itinerary here.