Monthly Archives: January 2016

Ho, ho, ho: Kilimanjaro!

At Christmastime (“ho, ho, ho”), what better to do than… climb a volcano in Africa? That’s what I asked myself in November of last year… 

…Wind forward six weeks, and there I was, at the summit of Kilimanjaro!

“The first stage of altitude sickness is euphoria: the individual becomes animated, excited, amiable, chatty… almost ecstatic. The second stage is lethargy: the person becomes despondent, sad, bored, subdued and sluggish, with no wish to converse and no appetite.”

Those are the notes I wrote based on the talk our guide in Tanzania, O.R., gave us not long after our arrival in the country. But I think she left the next stage out (she didn’t want to frighten us, after all); so let me add it: The third stage is fatal: a swift worsening of one’s physical and mental state and… hmmm, like O.R., I’d prefer not to go into it. Let me just mention what you’d need if approaching this third stage: oxygen mask, injected medicine, and a call to an SOS medical helicopter service – all ASAP.

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Read on: Oh my Google Maps! What an adventure we had…

Top-100 Series: Asia.

What’s interesting and recommendable in my Top-100 in the rest of Asia, apart from China and the Middle East? Here’s what…

62. Taj Mahal, India.

A mighty mausoleum made of white marble – the tomb of the favorite wife of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. If you look closely on Google Maps, here, on the other side of the river opposite the Taj Mahal you can see traces of the preparations for a second Taj-Mahal. Those traces are as far as plans went for a mirror image of the mausoleum – which was to be made out of black marble instead of white. Legend has it that the Mughal Empire simply didn’t have the funds needed to finance such lavish expenditure on an oversized grave, so its padishah (emperor) was deposed by his attendants, which brought his Taj-2 project to an abrupt halt too.

A magical place, especially the contrast between it and its somewhat less regal, rural surroundings. I really recommend taking an individual tour with a personal guide and mini-van so as not to be shaken about violently on a regular tour bus. Details here (pics; text in Russian).

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Read on: mountains, pagodas and volcanoes…

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Instagram photostream

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Going bananas.

I always believed bananas fell into one of three categories: ripe, unripe, and, well… fried :) Of course, there are also normal size bananas and mini ones (much tastier).

A visit to Tanzania literally opened my eyes – it turns out that the whole banana theme is far bigger, convoluted and diverse than I imagined.

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This is the view we got of the roadside “fruit and veg” stalls:

Read on: Truly amazing berry!…

New Year on Kili

Hello to everyone in this new year!

I hope the holidays went off well, without too much collateral damage, and that the winter break has proved useful for the mind, body and cultural development. All the usual stuff. But now it’s time to return to my tales, travel notes, reports and photos.

Starting the year as I mean to carry on – quietly… Yeah, right!

You need to start the year with a bang! Like this:

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No matter who I talk to about Kilimanjaro, they’ve either been to the summit (the majority) or intend to go there in the near future (the minority). A few days ago I joined the majority – on 31 December 2015, to be precise, I stood at the highest point of this volcano. And saw in the new year on Kili!

Due to Internet and time constraints here, the details will have to wait. For now, all I can do is have a little moan about the fact that for this kind of expedition you need to prepare well in advance and very thoroughly. It wasn’t easy.