African and other wildlife in the Japanese provinces.

It’s already the school holidays in Russia, which means my kids were kicking about the apartment and starting to get a little bored already. So when I saw that Japan was on my business-trip schedule for June, I figured I could take them with me for some pre-business tourism – taking in both Tokyo and Mount Fuji. When I suggested this they jumped at the chance; but of course they did, for look what awaited them:

However, when planning the trip, I forgot to consider the seasonal climatic conditions for June in Japan. And it wasn’t as if it was the first time I was heading to the land of the rising sun in June either – and those times were always murky and damp. Btw – the first pic above was taken in November (of 2013) – one of the best times of the year to see Mount Fuji; unlike June, grrr ->

Still, the kids didn’t seem to mind; and I’d seen Fuji quite a few times already – including from up above it ->

Read on…

The Shuto Expressway – a pioneering road project from back in the day.

Hi everyone, from… ->

Having delved into my archives, I discovered that this trip to Japan is my 31st! Yes, I love Japan – with all its… uniqueness, about which I’ve written plenty. But it was only on this visit that I realized I haven’t touched upon Tokyo’s road transportation system – particularly its special highway network. And it really does deserve touching upon since it’s one of the most striking features of the Japanese capital…

Read on…

Flickr photostream

  • Japan / Jun 2024
  • Japan / Jun 2024
  • Japan / Jun 2024
  • Japan / Jun 2024

Instagram photostream

Tiksi expedition 2024 – Kolyma Highway, then the “Arctic” winter road to Sasyr.

All these business trips of mine and the corresponding blogposts of late have kept me from continuing my tales from the ultra-frozen side – from our Yakutsk-Tiksi-Yakutsk winter/ice-road expedition. That all stops here!…

So, where was I?…

Ah yes. Our original plan of heading north along the frozen Indigirka river had been scuppered since the Indigirka Tube had flooded. It was therefore decided by the more experienced among us to take the Arctica winter road instead. So, leaving the village of Ust-Nera, we did just that. Straight away – wonderfully wintery Siberian scenes ->

Our expedition leader – former long-distance trucker Alexander Elikov – had done the full length of this winter road plenty of times in both a trucks and Toyotas. His comments to us about it both soothed and instilled some worry at the same time: “It’s a fairly straightforward winter road; the only issue is that it’s so long and monotonous that by the end of it you’re bored silly”. Oof.

Early on, however, we were anything but bored – so enthralled were we by the passing scenery ->

Read on…

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The cherry on the icing on the cake: ballet. (A fine finish to a mad May!)

Looking back over my travels during the month of May, I’m rather pleased: not bad at all for one calendar month. I visited three countries visited – Thailand, the Philippines (for the first time – country No. 105), and the Dominican Republic, and several cities therein-among: here’s my route in full:

Moscow > Thailand (Phuket) > the Philippines (El Nido, Mayon, Manila) > Moscow > Nizhny Novgorod > Moscow > the Dominican Republic (Punta Cana) > Moscow.

Fourteen flights, and 67 hours up in the air in planes and seven in a helicopter.

Along the way – four conferences/exhibitions of varying scale; talks at universities; interviews; and assorted other business. But the cherry on the cake for this super-busy May came on its last day back in Moscow – to see a ballet at the Bolshoi Theater…

Once a year, we get to bring together a small group of representatives of our dearest clients for a backstage buffet reception, followed by seeing a performance. And the seats we get come in different places – including in the Central Box! These photos were taken from there:

The ballet was La Bayadère:

Read on…

Beach-walking – Dominican style.

I’ve a great many different hobbies and favorite activities – just like anyone. But one of the more unorthodox is long-distance beach-walking. What that?! Easy: Take any sandy beach – and stomp along it barefoot for as long as possible…

Does that include walking back all the way barefoot too? It does indeed. And I’ve never needed alternative options, which are, btw: (i) take a cab; (ii) take a taxi-boat by sea; and 3) be carried in/on some kinda carriage by porters (no WAY!)!

As regards some of the folks who may want to join me on such a barefoot beach-hike, I often have to feel sorry for them! Like I did recently in the Dominican Republic where we had our regional (North, Central and South America) partner conference: in-between work some colleagues joined me…

So we headed on down to the beach, looked left – not much happening down there, and then right – and decided that was the better option. The main reason: there was a tangible destination > that far end of the beach (with the trees behind it) where it seems to just end. Endpoint decided, off we popped…

Read on…

The contrasts of Manila.

As already mentioned, Manila is a motley city in terms of its buildings. There’s the full range – from favelas to neatly manicured well-to-do districts. When sitting in a restaurant in the latter, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in Singapore (especially if you take no notice of passing Jeepneys and tuk-tuks). Here for example is the view out of my hotel window:

And here are some street views in the old town:

Read on…

Jeepneys, red-hot-chili ice cream, and Philippine roadside scenes.

In the last few posts we’ve seen plenty of Philippine natural beauty. Now we turn our attention to the anthropology of the country: time to walk take a ride around the streets of the small city of Legazpi, which sits at the foot of Mayon volcano…

The first thing that really grabs the attention is the jeepney – the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines and the calling card for Philippine culture and art (they’re often gaudily painted/decorated) ->

Read on…

On quad-bikes around Mayon Mount: but up to its peak – on no account!

Next up on our short tour of paradisiacal Philippine islands – the Mount Mayon volcano.

Getting there from El Nido on a scheduled flight would have taken us ages, and since we didn’t have ages, we took a chopper again instead ->

From the get-go – oh my grandiose greenness! But yet again my photos were spoiled by the reflections on the windows of the helicopter. I wonder if there’s already some AI ML technology these days that can filter them out? I hope so: it’d really help on my summer holiday in Kamchatka this year…

Read on…

El Nido, the Philippines: islands, lagoons, caves, white beaches, turquoise sea. AKA paradise!

I keep a tally of the countries and cities I have the pleasure of visiting (for the first time), and just the other week I had an interesting +1 in Southeast Asia – the Philippines: my 105th country. And Manila was, oh – I’ve lost count; it was around my 320th city in the world I’ve now been to.

We were lucky this time: we had a long weekend there before the business part of the trip, so we decided to check out the beautiful islands of El Nido and also the Mount Mayon volcano. And since island hopping in the Philippines takes quite a while on scheduled commercial flights, we opted for the much quicker option: helicopter! ->

Read on…

A digitalization conference in Nizhny. I’m hardly not gonna be there…

With conference season still in full-swing, I’ve been busier than a bee of late. Just recently I only had two days at home and it was back on the road again. This time though it was a domestic business trip – albeit it a thoroughly important one …

It was for CIPR in the city of Nizhny Novgorod. CIPR?…

CIPR is a transliteration from the Russian ЦИПР, which stands for “Digital Industry of Industrial Russia”. That was a direct translation that came out clumsy in English (curiously due to the fact that there are two words for industry/industrial in Russian; only one in English:), but it’s now taken on the more modern and pertinent (in terms of content), and appropriate (in terms of English language sense) name of “Digitalization of Industrial Russia”.

CIPR: conference, exhibition, presentations, speeches, agreement signings, meets, greets, handshakes, chats. Never dull, and always a pleasure (it takes place yearly in Nizhny Novgorod – Russia’s sixth-largest city, 500km east of Moscow) ->

That fine historical building is where the talks and panel discussions take place, while the exhibition – needing a bit more room – is in the large, modern hangar-like building next door. That’s where we head first…

Read on…