Week 7 : It’s New Year again

We only have 1 more sampling day in the final week here, it sounds achievable but it is actually quite tricky considering this is the Lunar New Year’s week, which means 2 days off for preparation and celebration. And yes, of course the weather always a major factor.

So, in this week we actually managed to have 1 day of sampling on Tuesday (just before things turned busy with the New Year things). As usual, benthic samples collection was the main work that we did. Things went okay until one of the divers, Hye-Won experienced decompression sickness after the first dive. We had no choice than to abandon the remaining works as there was only one dive left and he was not allowed to work underwater alone.

 Whale-watching while waiting the divers to turn up
 A visit from Brazilian researchers

Dr Shin, the station’s medical doctor diagnosed Hye-Won and recommended her to stay away from any underwater activities for at least one month.  So, that was it really. We could not finish our work. But luckily as it was towards the very end of our sampling, we still able to improvise things so that all works done could be used entirely.

The next day, Hye-Won was sent to the Jubany Station (an Argentinian station) which is about 30 minutes away by boat from King Sejong. She got a further treatment there, which is using a decompression chamber to normalise her body to a normal pressure.  Everything went fine.

Actually Hye-Won had another 3 weeks in King Sejong to do her other works. But, since she was not allowed to dive within a month time, she decided to leave Antarctica on the same date with me. So, final week was also a busy time for us packing all the samples and some lab consumables to be brought with us to Punta Arenas (before being sent to Korea by ship)

In spite of those unexpected problems, we still had something to cheer us up.

This week, once again, we celebrated the New Year after the first one on January 1st. This Lunar New Year is considered as a bigger than the January New Year for people in Korea. So did in King Sejong. The celebration, including all the build-ups was so happening. For me, this was like Hari Raya in Malaysia. On the day before, everyone was busy with foods preparation for the big day; and most of us stayed up late.

Everyone involves in food preparations

The New Year’s day started with prayer to their ancestors and prayers for everyone’s safety, especially for the overwintering members. After that, we had all-traditional Korean foods for breakfast. The day was filled with several traditional games, a table-tennis competition and some other activities until late night

Penguins also seem to be knackered after a long day on the New Year

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