Sunday, April 28, 2013


The first (and last) not remotely annual Bice's Island Awards. Nominees are taken from islands I've been on: Tasmania, Bruny Island, Isle of the Dead, Singapore, Viti Levu, Zealand, Amager, Île de la Cité, Island of Montreal, Great Britain, Long Island.

Least Seen: Long Island

I was only on Long Island because I was at Laguardia Airport waiting for a connecting flight to Boston, so all I have seen of the place is the airport which was not readily differentiable from any other airport.

Most Melodramatic Name: Isle of the Dead

With a name better suited to a rollicking Fritz Leiber adventure, the Isle of the Dead is in fact a small island just off Port Arthur in Tasmania. It gets its name from the fact it has a cemetery on it rather than from being home to a dread necromancer and/or legions of the undead. I visited the oversold island on a school camp during primary school and had to write a poem about it. The poem is tragically lost to the ravages of time but it's safe to assume that it was an artistic work the world has not seen the likes of since. Failing that, it almost certainly rhymed.

Least Imaginative Name: Three-way tie between Île de la Cité, Pulau Ujong, and Long Island

Long Island would seem to have this category won handily but even a small amount of reading Wikipedia soon reveals that when it comes to naming islands it doesn't matter the era or the culture, people just can't be bothered. Île de la Cité, in Paris, clearly translates to "isle of the city" or less lyrically "city island". The main island of Singapore, Pulau Ujong, is so-called because it's the island at the end of the Malay peninsula and translates as "end island". Maybe some leeway can be given to the namers. European explorers who arrived in what is now New York, exhausted and looking forward to eating something besides hard tack for the first time in months likely felt they had better things to do than think of cool names for islands. It's an island, it's long, it's Long Island, where's the rum?

Hottest: Viti Levu

I'm not sure that Fiji is objectively hotter than Singapore, and to the Tasmanian redhead they both fall easily into the "too damn hot" basket, but far fewer places in Fiji have air conditioning. The airport departure lounge, for example, where we sat during a six hour delay after being moved onto another flight,was not only not air-conditioned but in fact had no air circulation of any sort whatsoever. That was not the most fun I've had at an airport.

Most Didn't-Realise-It-Was-An-Island: Zealand

I knew part of Copenhagen was on an island because I accidentally crossed onto that island, Amager, when trying to find my way to some location or another (safe bet it was Hans Christian Andersen or viking related). What I didn't realise until looking up that island earlier this evening was that the rest of Copenhagen is on Zealand. It's pretty obvious if you look on a map, I guess, but I took the night train there from Munich and as such didn't notice. Ironically I have been to original Zealand but have never been to New Zealand despite the newer model being roughly 14,000km closer and the birthplace of my father.

Biggest: Great Britain

Winner by both physical area and population, Great Britain is pretty good but I wouldn't go so far as to say great, never mind Great. Unrivalled as the most convenient overcast gateway to the rest of Europe, however. When I think about it, it's also going to become Most Visited if I head over some time this year which I vaguely intend to do at some point.

Most Seen: Tasmania

I have seen less of Tasmania than many people who have only visited briefly as tourists. In Tasmania we don't build roads to get places and then call the inconvenience 'eco-tourism'. It's a pretty neat trick. I'm not much of a one for going to places that are hard to get to, so there's probably more places in Tasmania that I haven't seen than those that I have. Even if it's not the island I've seen the most of by percentage of land mass though, it's definitely the one I've spent the most time looking at.

Next week's word will be indifference.

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