Monthly Archives: August 2014

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, UshishirNo 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…

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 airportThere 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…