By Kai Teo
The mystical lands of Vaerøy are situated in the very North of Norway, in other words, North of the entire world. Getting there involves crossing winding mountain passes, cruising through dark tunnels, braving thunderous storms, and crossing icy cold oceans – a journey that only the most committed Rainbow Warriors would undertake.
As for me, I had no plan, no route, no transportation, until a few days before the festival, where I managed to find an Italian globetrotting writer, Carlo Taglia, who offered to let me ride along in his camper van.
Coming from Malmö, Sweden, I’ve never been further north than Stockholm. So as our little convoy trotted along the windy roads along the coast of Sweden, I started to notice distinct differences along the way the closer we came to the festival.
At one pit stop we took for a pee break, this:
Like hey, people in the North are so clean, or so obsessed about cleanliness, that urinals come with lids. That was the first time I’d seen such waste of plastic.
Roads signs changed from “Children crossing” to “Deer crossing” to “Moose crossing”, and to “Snowmobiles crossing”. Yep, that’s when you know it might actually start snowing anytime.
Along the road, we sang along from 60s classics, to 80s disco, 90s eurodance, and even Spice Girls. And we cleverly camped only in mosquito territories, where we were welcomed whole-heartedly by the hordes of bloodsuckers who reveled in the international blood buffet of Italian, Singaporean and Swedish cuisine. Clap your hands and you’ll easily kill five of these motherfuckers. Fucking Nature.
Nevertheless, after battling armies of insects, putting our livers to the test of what Systembolaget (the Swedish state-owned alcohol paradise), and gorging ourselves with homemade Italian pasta, the forested landscape finally opened up to majestic snow-capped mountains that reached up into the misty clouds.
To come from a flat-as-fuck city where the tallest thing is a building, to this all-natural breathtaking beauty, was pretty fucking insane. This is the Sweden that we see in postcards – the mountains, the reindeers, the gigantic lakes. I’d fallen in love once again with the beautiful Nordics.
The high altitude border crossing, though, was hardly dramatic. We’d expected a bunch of Vodka Nazis and alcoholic dogs sniffing our “cheap Swedish beers” out and confiscating them (yes, there’s actually a quota for the amount of alcohol you could bring across to Norway). But what greeted us, were more scenic views, and a small, humble sign that says “Norway”.
Before long, we were on the 5-hour ferry ride towards Vaerøy, with about thousand dreadlocked hippies. Thing is, when you look out into the vast Nordic seas from inside the ferry, the giant rock formations deceptively resembled those of tropical Thailand, with warm, blue-green waters and pineapples and Paad Thai.
But heading out to the deck to have a cigarette in the biting wind quickly reminded us that the equator was half the globe away. And any hopes of snorkelling around the warm seawaters quickly shattered like ice cubes flung violently to the ground.
That was pure torture. It felt kinda like false advertising. “Come to the scenic beaches of Norway for an unforgettable summer! * Conditions apply. Experiences might vary.”
But fuck that. We’re gonna dance anyway. We’ve made it all the way here, what’s a little wind and cold?
The sunny day led us all to think that it was gonna be a warm, naked festival. And you couldn’t blame us, when this was what greeted us as we got off the ferry.
So here, we go. Time for Midnight Sun.