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Island No. 16: Simushir.

Here we are with more adventures on the Kuril Islands

Our expedition went like this: new day – new island. In all there were 18 days, and 12 islands (if we include Sakhalin). Each day it was a new route, new outstanding views, new fantastic experiences.

The day would normally start with our motorboats landing on a new, unknown shore. Sometimes that was easy, other times it was Saving-Private-Ryan-opening-scenes; almost. The sea got choppy, the weather got rainy and windy, and the adrenalin got pumping – as did the cortisol. On those days just making it to shore resembled no less than a hugely heroic deed, so we ended such days with similarly hugely heroic festivities once camp had been struck.

But on the clear days – the landings plus the ensuing day spent onshore were easy and unforced. The day on Simushir was one such day.

Simushir, Kuril Islands

Read on: running away from a typhoon…

Island No. 14: Ushishir.

Just a month ago I was unaware of one of the most amazing, enchanting and photogenic places on the planet. Now I know. The place I’m talking about is Ushishir.

“Ushishir?” you ask. What’s that? A distant relative of Yorkshir? A cousin of Middle-earth’s Shir?

No, silly. It’s an old volcano with a caldera that’s collapsed down to sea level. A volcano bay.

The best place here for visual meditation is up on the top of the edge of the caldera. The bay itself inside the island is pure eye candy. Then there are waves coming in off both the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Okhotsk on the outer sides. It’s a place where you can just sit and stare at the surroundings for hours, and the higher you get up the sides the better – it’s sure worth the climb.

Kuril islands, Ushishir

No Photoshop enhancements needed. Well, just a bit maybe

Read on: An extraordinary place. Unique. Totally recommended…

Brainteasers – August 26, 2014.

In July, KL turned 17! The occasion was marked in typical fanfare style, and gave us the chance to see in the last full year of our adolescence – by playing to our hearts’ content.

There were many high points throughout the all-dayer, but one that stood out for me was a KL-customized version of famed Russian TV intellectual quiz show ‘What? Where? When’, with the show’s very own presenter, renowned quiz-whizz Maxim Potashyov. Some of the questions were so darn hard even Wikipedia would have trouble coming up with the answers.

Yep, it was a real good bit of exercise for the brain.

BTW, we’ve just launched our Global Think Test. Its Brain Training Zone contains dozens of verbal, numerical and logic challenges, which were created together with Mensa, the world’s oldest high IQ society.

So get on over there and put your calculation and reasoning skills to the test!

So let’s see how you fare with some of Mr. Potashyov’s questions…. Here are 10 toughies. Answers will come later…

Maxim Potashyov's brainteaser

1. In a New York restaurant a diner is offered a ‘Russian cocktail’. The barman mixes it from three ingredients. First he takes 75 grams of vodka, then he adds 25 grams of the second ingredient and 50 grams of the third, and then he gives the concoction a thorough shake. What are the second and third ingredients of the cocktail?

Read on: 9 more brainteasers…

Super fly guy.

Just recently I was flying over Baghdad, accompanied by my traveling companion, A.Sh. We were on Etihad EY53 from Abu Dhabi to Geneva. A.Sh. slept; I didn’t – and took some pics:

Super fly guy

Read on: 230 hours in the air…

Mumbairport.

Continuing the airport theme

Holy moly! This is one ultra-modern, cavernous travel hub. It resembles more a museum than an airport. All polished and shiny too. However, not all that glitters is gold. It’s also a very slow moving, uncomfortable airport. Although I’m sure they’re trying their darndest, they’ve still a long way to go in terms of service. “They rebuilt the airport, but didn’t think about the passengers who’ll be using it!” A.Sh. commented verily.

Back to the plusses (alas, briefly) – it’s got a real nice and spacious business lounge, and the food they serve there is out of this world; much better than the usual sandwiches and cakes. And lots of proper drinks too :). But can they provide Wi-Fi that’s fast and easy like in most other international airports around the world? NO!

The Wi-Fi here is slooooow, and insists on a text message to your cell phone “for confirmation and security”. Er, no thank you, I don’t need that kinda Wi-Fi. So we decided to dine properly instead. Oh, what a delight… If they served up such choice cuisine in every business lounge, I’d not bother with the Internet at all – ever, anywhere! I’d also not fit into my jeans.

Mumbai airport

There will always be jaywalkers no matter where you are. No matter if there’s a zebra crossing two meters away!

Read on: beware the Indian customs rules…

Chek Lap Kok: No quick walk.

Flying round the globe as I do, I get to see all sorts of different destinations, a lot of different airports too. Which got me thinking – I should make up a list of the world’s best airports. Incidentally, that also got me thinking about perhaps making up another list – of the world’s worst airports!

And yes, what is now the ‘old’ terminal of Sheremetevo (‘F’) will be top of that list for certain! But today’s theme is great airports. And it just so happens that I recently flew from what I think is my favorite on the planet: Hong Kong International Airport, aka Chek Lap Kok.

Hong Kong airport

Read on: So what’s so great about it? …

Bowled over by the best batsman.

I once wondered why golf isn’t popular in Russia. Or rugby or cricket, for that matter. Why are these sports – played by millions and watched by billions – hardly noticeable in Russia?

After mulling it over a short while I think I came up with the answer, and it’s simple! Russia’s got winter going on for half the year. It would be daft looking for small white balls in the (white) snow. I remember playing ice hockey when I was young and very often the puck would end up in a snowdrift. We spent more time looking for errant pucks than playing the game. But that’s ice hockey. How can you have ice hockey with no ice/snow? As for other small-ball sports you can generally play in the street of yard – no. They just don’t suit Russia, so they never really took off.

Meanwhile in India!…

Snow to many an Indian is pretty exotic – only seen on the TV in a news report or film. It’s just something that isn’t thought about, like golf in Russia. So snow there doesn’t hinder ball games much, so ball games are mega popular. But you rarely see lads getting together for a kick-about of soccer in India like you do practically the world over. No, instead they all play the exotic (and not only to Russians) game of cricket. Yep, for cricket here is a lot more popular than football! Which has to be a fairly unique state of affairs for any country… So it’s only logical that the very best and most popular (ever!) Indian professional cricket player – Sachin Tendulkar – is referred to as the ‘God of Cricket’ here.

Everywhere the man goes there are cries of “Sachin! Sachin!”, with folks clapping and jumping about and taking as many pics as poss with their gadgets.

I saw the commotion he causes last week in the flesh while in Mumbai. Sachin is a long-time KL friend and partner, and he’s also been our ‘brand ambassador’ in India and nearby countries for several years already.

I was in India for the launch of the new version of KIS 2015, and also of our new education program to protect children from cybercrime in Indian schools. Of course there was much of the usual – presentations, interviews, solo and group photos… only this time things were just a little different due to the larger-than-life presence of the country’s No. 1 megastar showstopper! It was a lot of fun though. Don’t know how he manages it on a daily basis with all that frenzied attention.

Despite working with him for several years already it was the first time I’d met him in person, and the honor and pleasure were all mine. I particularly liked the bit when we kicked back and enjoyed a wonderful meal.

Sachin Tendulkar launching Kaspersky Kids program in India

Read on: pix, pix, pix…

Having a ball in Nepal.

How many timezones does the world have?

On being asked that question many will come up with the perfectly logical answer of 24. After all, that’s the number of hours in a day. But they’d be wrong! Yep, in all there are quite a few more than 24… There are actually 39 time zones! In a handful of countries the local time differs from the respective ‘geographical time zone’ (of which there are 24) – by half an hour (like in India, Iran and a few others) or even by 45 minutes – like, for example, in Nepal. Here the time difference from London is +4 hours and 45 minutes! These offsets are the reason for there being 39, not 24 time zones.

Last week, I was here in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal!

Nepal, Katmandu

Read on: the country of the Buddha, the Himalayas and Everest…

Cybernews from the dark side – July 26, 2014.

Remote controlled car – your car, while you’re driving it…

News about new hacks, targeted attacks and malware outbreaks is beginning to bore the general public. It’s becoming an incessant stream after all. What isn’t boring the life out of the general public is something a bit more unusual: stuff you wouldn’t dream could be hacked… getting hacked.

A report from China told how hackers broke into the Tesla motor car’s gadgetry – as part of a contest during a hacker conference. So, why Tesla? What’s so good about Tesla? Well, that’ll be its being an electric car, and its being crammed with so much ‘smart’ electronics that it hardly resembles an automobile than a mobile supercomputer. Still, what was Tesla expecting? Any new functionality – especially that developed without the involvement of IT security experts – will inevitably bring with it new threats via vulnerabilities, which is just what the hackers at the conference in China found.

Cybernews from the darkside

Read on: malware getting closer to industrial systems…

You can’t go wrong with Hong Kong.

It had been what seems like eons since I’d checked into a hotel which I simply had to tell you about separately due to its specialness. I get to stay in some real nice hotels on my travels, it has to be said, but only once a blue moon do I come across one that’s just… exceptionally and extraordinarily exquisite :).

So I must show you a few pics of where we were last week. We were in Hong Kong, having our APAC Partner Conference – in the HK InterContinental on the shore of Kowloon. And, oh, by the hammer of Thor, what views it offered of the skyscrapers across the bay. I won’t come up with OTT adjectives, I’ll just let you have a look for yourselves…

One thing I will say is that these views never fail to impress no matter if it’s day or night, or clear and sunny, or during a typhoon! It’ll be here we’re staying at next time, that’s for sure…

DSC01833

Hong Kong by night

Read on: More skyscrapers, close shot…