Watergius's Journal

The world as I see it

Churchill – Polar Bear Capital of the World

October 24th – October 28th

***

It was a 16 hours train ride from Thompson, city where I live now, to go to Churchill, which is so far, the farthest north that I’ve been to. It’s not the distance that makes it so long, but the speed of the train that makes you feel that you could bike your bicycle even faster. The rail is not straight, that’s what they said they reason is, and it’s seems legit. Anyway, the train ride was not that bad. The train is clean, has an electrical plug, has a restaurant, plus, I left Thompson around 5 pm which mean I slept almost all the way to Churchill.

There’s an unique thing happen if you’re about to arrive in Churchill Train Station : the train will start move backward. My guess is it has something to do with the way people built this rail in the first time or maybe, they want to flip the locomotive now so that when the train leave, it could leave Churchill without have to do it anymore. Anyway, despite of what the reason is, we arrived in Churchill the next day (Oct 25th) an hour faster, which is something that happened rarely, according to some people.

*

We had breakfast in a place called Seaport while resting and waiting till it’s time for us to check in. Then, after had our stomach full, we headed to our hostel called Polar Bear Bed and Breakfast, where we stayed for two nights.

Polar Bear Bed and Breakfast

The place is clean and neat. The host was also friendly. It’s owned by a man named Don Gould, that lives with his wife and their little daughter, Hana. Little Hana was so funny and active that she will literally try to get your attention everytime you knock on their door, asking for something or simply just want to talk with her mother. The price was decent too, at least for a polar bear season like this I think. Plus, they give you coupon to have breakfast in Gypsy’s Bakery, which is like this famous place to eat in town.

*

Churchill Chamber of Commerce or for short let’s say tourist information center, was the place that we visit after we put all our stuff. There, we were welcomed by a friendly lady that told us quite few things to do in Churchill. Polar Bear tour is number one of course, which was the reason we went there. But beside that, she also mentioned other things, including the best place to eat and drink. And the last thing, she explained a little bit about what to do if we encounter polar bear because polar bear have known roaming around the town. There’s no exact thing to do exactly once you face to face with this animal. But, if you’re quite far, at least you know not to do stupid thing or at least you know that you could get into houses or cars. She told us that here in Churchill there’s an open door policy, which means that Churchill residents never lock their car or door so that when someone encounter polar bear, they can find shelter by getting into a car or house.

guest book in Churchill Chamber of Commerce

*

Eskimo museum is one of the place to see. They have a quite collection over there. If you ever watched Human Planet, you would have known about Narwhal. A legendary whale that has horn, just like unicorn, at least that’s what I thought until the man that work in that museum explained more about it to us. After his explanation, I realized that I was totally wrong all this time. What I thought as a horn is not a horn at all, it’s a tooth. And their position usually a little bit to the left, because it’s usually a left tooth. It’s such a good thing to learn more about this northen animal as they are fascinating and rare.

narwhal tooth and kayak that is used to hunt them

*

Lazy Bear Lodge Cafe was the place that we went to to have a dinner. Why this place? Because they serve moose and one of my friend really want to taste it. So, we came to this place around 7 pm, got seated, and then we had this lady to serve us with our order. As is done in most restaurant, she asked us first what we want to drink. And this was where funny thing happened.

So, earlier after we visited the eskimo museum and another museum in the train station, we came to this restaurant to book our seat. After booked it, we also asked about whether they serve alcohol or not, and they clearly said no. But for some reason, this night when this lady asked my friend what to drink, my friend said beer and this lady wrote something in his note. Since I (or we) knew that they don’t serve alcohol, I said to that lady again that my friend ask for a beer, just in case if she didn’t hear it clearly. She nodded as if she heard it clearly. Okay, they serve alcohol then, that’s what I thought as this lady left our table and prepare our order. Then, not long after that, she came with our drink. Me and the other two of my friends got what we want. But, this friend of mine that order beer got something that he would never imagined : he got a class of milk. Hahaha. It was a funny moment because then he refused it and asked a glass of water instead. Because of this “misunderstanding”, we kind of tease him for a while by saying ‘MILK.”  Lol

Except for that small mistake, over all that lady did her job really good. She’s friendly and smile a lot. And the food there was delicious too. The moose was good. The steak that I ordered was good. We had such a good dinner. A good dinner to face the cold windy weather outside that we have to face in order to go to this famous pub, Tundra Pub.

lazy bear lodge restaurant

**

The next day we left town for Great White Bear Tour’s buggy around 7.45 am. The place where this tour park their buggies is almost an hour drive from the town, quite in the middle of the wild. After boarded the buggy, we then asked to sign a paper that said we all responsible for our own action and none to blame but ourself. Well, it seems this is a serious busineess dealing with this animal Eh. Anyway, after all signed the paper, we left for the wild.

Finding bear in this wide tundra is not an easy job. If you don’t know where to find or if it’s not the right time, you could spend all day and still found nothing. But, this tour that I went with, has a lodge close to Hudson Bay and that’s where we went. And in the surrounding area where this lodge located, we saw three polar bears.

They are cute, funny, and make you wanna pet them, but they are really dangerous. They are huge and they can kill you in an instant. They are fast too despite their big size. They are just fascinating and saw them here, in the wild, was just such an amazing experience.

three polar bears playing

who’s the mightiest ?

**

After spent all day yesterday visited the polar bears, except the night part (for sure) where we went to this Tundra Pub (again) because apparently they have good food too… plus good drink of course, anyway, today we had no clear plan to do. Actually we were thinking of going with this tour to see historic places around Churchill, but the tour was already full booked and we were too late. Then, we tried to rent a car, but none was available too. We were stuck here in the town, waiting for our train which was still in more than ten hours.

After discussing and think it through, we then decided to pay a visit to Cape Merry. Cape Merry is… I don’t know exactly, but according to Lonely Planet Review, Cape Merry is “ A lone cannon behind a crumbling wall is all that’s left of the battery built at Cape Merry, 2km northwest of town. It’s an incredibly beautiful location in its own right and, during summer, belugas can be seen from the shore.”
The reason behind this ignorance of mine is because we didn’t really step our foot on this historic place.

From Churchill to Cape Merry the distance is around 2 km. It’s not that far actually that you could not walk to it. But, since the month were bear’s season, you are forbid to walk there. And moreover, the wind is so strong there that the temperature could drop more than 10 degree of the real temperature. But, we ignored all those facts and we still walked there, at least till a place where we saw a sign written on a rock that said Cape Merry.

We were asked to turn around and should not continue walking by a bear patrol. Not once, but three times. We ignored it twice, until we couldn’t handle the cold anymore, and then decided to walk back. But even so, we still stopped by this deserted houses near shores, which was so cool I think.

one of the deserted house on Hudson Bay shore

**

After more that two hours roamed the shores, we then went to grap all our stuff and headed to Gypsy’s Bakery to spend the rest of our few hours before our train left.

gypsy’s bakery sign

**

Snow, forest, and sunshine are a great combination : it transformed the forest into a beautiful portrait. I couldn’t stop my self from seeing it and captured it.

the view just before we entered Thompson

***
Agus Praditya T

5 responses to “Churchill – Polar Bear Capital of the World

  1. nurul December 6, 2012 at 5:45 am

    what an exciting story!
    It makes me so eager to go there.
    Mr.agus,can u help me to find a job there?
    Reply in my email please: nurulbadiah95@yahoo.com
    fb: Nurul Badiah
    may i have yours?
    Tq!

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