Monthly Archives: October 2015

Buddha and the ocean.

If you enter ‘Buddha and’ into Google, guess which five suggestions Google finishes the sentence with…:

Buddha and bonsai

Buddha and ahsok

Buddha and cats

Buddha and mara story

Buddha and the quantum


Curious, I admit. But my topic today is also curious: Buddha and… the ocean!

Never saw a connection, right? Well, did you see one between Buddha… and cats? :)

Anyway, I’ll save the Buddha-and-the-ocean connection until the end of this post (it’s a brainteasing riddle – well worth the wait). First off – text and pics by way of introduction…

In the city of Leshan there’s a giant Buddha statue, by coincidence called the Leshan Giant Buddha, which peers down on the river Min gushing past it. It’s been there for more than a thousand years. That’s a lot of river water that’s flowed past it…


Read on: All mindful and meditated? Ok. The question…

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Sunset in Zhangye.


The below pics haven’t been doctored with Photoshop. Well, the colors were brightened just a little, but that’s not full-on Photoshopping really – more like putting Polaroid sunglasses on. Incidentally, such sunglasses are advised to be worn when looking at these here views in the flesh. Everything’s a little brighter, fuller, sharper and more contrasting. Like so:


Read on: From dusk till dawn in Danxia…

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On the Avatar set – in China.

Believe me – in China there’s plenty to look at. I gave myself  a present for my for 50th B-Day and spent a few days there recently. Get ready to say ‘wow!’ when you see some of the upcoming must-see spots!

As I’ve said before on these here cyberpages, the funny thing is – most of that ‘plenty‘ is practically unknown to non-Chinese folks. The conspicuous historical monuments that were lucky enough to have survived the Cultural Revolution are known about, like those in Beijing and around, like the Great Wall of China, Lhasa and plenty more. But there’s a lot more besides, most of it unheard of outside the country. Just ask around – you’ll be met with blank stares. Maybe a few folks know about, say, Mount Kailash but that will be about it!

Oops. Yes, I’m certain I’m repeating myself somewhat here. I’ve already bemoaned this state of affairs not long ago. Accordingly, without more of ado, let me get on with another bit of Unknown China!…

Today’s bit of Unknown China shouldn’t be referred to as a mere bit. For it could well be one of the Top-20 most beautiful places in the world. It’s Wulingyuan – a ‘scenic are that comprises several national parks, one of which is the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park‘.

From somewhere out of sight waaaaay down below rise up huge rock columns. Jagged, naked sheer sides, with green vegetation on top. Utterly mind-blowing and jaw-dropping, moreover – in any weather: can’t say that for many similar natural installations, especially those in Kamchatka.

In overcast murkiness these stone columns get wrapped in a white fog. The actual scale and distances involved get totally lost, with the brain just giving up attempting to gauge them. They can’t be viewed with the rational mind; only with emotions. Then all of a sudden the sun will come out and the scene is transformed: all the detail and colors come to the fore, but still the brain isn’t able to cognize! Check out these contrasts in some of the pics below…

The heights of these columns are just silly: hundreds of meters tall they are. This one in the next pic is a whopping 1080 meters tall – more than a kilometer! Incidentally, it’s called Avatar Hallelujah Mountain, but more about that later. And the stone arch in the pics – that’s also daft-high: around 1000 meters up. You can walk across it too, if you’re brave enough.


Read on: Gulp!…

Kamchatka-2015: Back home.

All good things must come to an end: that’s it for at least another year. Time to go home.

In all we’ve trekked/climbed/clambered/slipped/tripped around 300 kilometers, been up five volcanoes (though not always quite to the very top), scanned hundreds of square kilometers of phenomenal natural beauty, scared (or maybe just surprised) dozens of bears, and fed a zillion mosquitos. We’ve also used up kilometers of Kodachrome gigabytes of memory cards :).


Read on: Good-bye Kamchatka!…

Terra Incognita. Southern Kamchatkan volcanoes: Koshelyov.

As our An-Kam-2015 inexorably approached its end, we had just one more volcano to check out: Koshelev – actually pronounced Koshelyov (accent on the lyov).

Though the name is in the singular, this isn’t a single volcano – it’s a set of five different volcanoes, each of which erupted at different times, and which together make up a single massive construction of varied volcanism. Since all the volcanoes are old, they’re all partly collapsed. But that’s just what makes them all the more photogenic.

The parts of Koshelyov we checked out (the western peaks) consist of lava stacks (the centers of former craters) colored with multicolored volcanic remains. Various shades of black, white, red and yellow almost glistening in the bright sunlight of the clear day we were lucky enough to be here on.


Read on: It was getting really tough towards the end of the trip…

Kamchatka-2015: Snow caves and tunnels.

I think Kamchatka’s snow caves and tunnels are worthy of a post of their own…

A lot of snow falls in Kamchatka. A heck of a lot. And in some places infinitesimal quantities – dozens of meters deep. Now, all that snow… some a lot of it of course falls onto the many hot streams here (that is, streams with underground heating – very posh:), and what you get is a maze of tunnels under the snowdrifts. And the snow in which the tunnels are made doesn’t have time to melt during the Kamchatkan spring, and sometimes – even during summer (since there’s just so much of it). Enter us! Who dutifully entered said snow tunnels!

Check out the pics…


The water that drips down from the snow-roof – yum!

Read on: Really yum!…

Terra Incognita. Southern Kamchatkan volcanoes: Kambalny.

Though Kamchatka isn’t the most well-known or accessible tourist destination in the world, it still has more than its fair share of ‘touristic meccas’, like the Valley of the Geysers, Tolbachik (especially during an eruption), and the Mutnovsky and Goreliy volcanoes. But it also has less-visited attractions too, for example the Ksudach volcano. Then there are places where a bear‘s paw print in the mud is observed without the slightest increase in heartbeat – as it would be just one among thousands of bear paw prints. And the sight of a human’s boot print similarly calls up zero emotions – as you see humans’ boot prints… never! For no one lives in such places, and only one or two groups of tourists visit… per year! These places are utterly barren, desolate, deserted and silent: Terra Incognita!

Oh, what a shame. For these incognito lands are all must-see! 

Two such must-see spots on Kamchatka’s Terra Incognita are the two volcanoes Kambalny and Koshelev.

Alas, we didn’t climb up to the very top of their crater rims as our schedule wouldn’t permit it. We settled instead for strolling about the area, and in doing so worked out our plan for the next Kambalny/Koshelev visit: to walk from Pauzhetka to Kambalny, then down to Kambalny Lake, and then… we’ll just have to see how much energy is left for onward volcano climbing…

Kambalny is a volcano 2161 meters high, but it also has a volcanic ridge some 15km long, which goes straight from north to south right in the middle of lower Kamchatka – directly between the Sea of Okhotsk and Kurile Lake.




Oh my gorgeous. Fantastical spectacles…

Read on: Black rock, red rock, yellow rock, white rocks…

Kamchatka-2015: white waterfalls and abandoned stone boats.

I first intended starting this post about three places of interest near Pauzhetka with a satellite photo of the vicinity (the area between the Sea of Okhotsk and Kurile Lake). However, I couldn’t find a single one on the net. Search engines could only come up with this detail-free specimen of topographical depiction: you zoom in, and get just a blur! Ok, so it’s a remote spot of the world, but really…

Anyway, first up: the White Waterfalls.

An amazing place! I’ve never seen natural fountains gushing from a cliff face (there are geysers of course, but they gush from the ground).


Read on: Wait! There is more…