Monthly Archives: April 2021

The 12 most beautiful places in the world. Nos. 2–3: the queens of water.

An old nugget of wisdom states that ‘one can look forever at three things: fire, water, and other people working’. We had ~fire yesterday, with volcanoes that occasionally breathe fire. So logically, today, it’s water’s turn…

No. 2: Victoria Falls, on the ZambiaZimbabwe border.

Aka Mosi-oa-Tunya, these are the most wonderful waterfalls in the world; also the largest by area of falling water. Length – 1.8km; height – over 100m. A spectacle you can stare at forever, just like in the wise old saying ).

The falls are even better when there are rainbows:

You can stroll up and down the full length of the falls; in some places you can walk up right to the edge of the cliffs.

Viewing the falls from both sides of the border is highly recommended, which takes up a full day as crossing the Zambia–Zimbabwe border takes some time. The day after, if one’s purse permits it – getting an aerial view from up in a helicopter can’t be beat:

Insider tip! If you do go for a helicopter flight, make sure to arrange it in Zambia. In Zimbabwe the choppers fly real high, with no acrobatics. In Zambia – just the opposite: super low and in Star Wars mode!

Apparently you can swim in the river up top real close to the edge of the cliff the water falls from! You’re attached to a safety rope, just in case, but still. Or if that doesn’t float your boat you can… float in a boat on same river up top near the edge. Alas, though I’ve visited the falls twice already, we never got round to this clearly mandatory undertaking. As I often say: next time.

Another important thing: choosing the right season to visit. The best time of all is in the dry season, when the water level isn’t so high – this is around fall and winter. In spring and summer – rain season – the Zambezi is too high and fast-moving, meaning you might not be able to see much at all of the waterfalls for all the spray/mist in the air:

In wet season you need to walk off to the sides to catch a proper glimpse:

So what about runner-up waterfalls? There are two worthy of mention – the Niagara Falls and the Iguazu Falls: both similarly fabulous falls, but not quite as large and magnificent as Victoria. Remarkably, I’ve never been up close to the former. As to the latter – I’ve been a full three times, and viewed them from probably every single angle possible, and at different times of the year:

I have seen the Niagara Falls from a plane. I’ve even been near them (on the ground) before, but for some completely unacceptable reason we didn’t drive over to this completely must-see natural phenomenon. The photos I’ve found on the internet though do testify to their being significantly smaller in scale and grandiosity than Victoria Falls.

If you do ever make it to Iguazu, don’t miss its unique attraction: going on a motor boat behind the waterfalls. No, really! The world’s most invigorating shower you could ever wish to take :) ->

Continuing the water theme, here’s water of an altogether different kind: not wild and white, but calm and… turquoise…

No. 3: Bora Bora, French Polynesia, South Pacific Ocean.

If ever there were an instruction manual on ‘How to Create Paradise’ for the gods or whatever else creates life in the universe, photos of this place would run the whole way through it. Anomalously beautiful atolls with volcanic cliffs in the center, surrounded by ’50 Shades of Blue’:

Pristine ocean, exotic marine life, perhaps the most ideal climate possible (tropical but temperate), friendly locals. Like I say: paradise.

Come on, corona, hurry up, darn it, and be off with you – for good. Then we can have the world open up again and get back to places such as Bora Bora. Ooh. Can’t wait…

Turquoise water runner-up? Exuma in the Bahamas. I’ll let the photos do the talking. But be careful – you might be blinded by their brightness! Another 50 Shades of Blue, but not of a volcanic kind – it’s a long archipelago surrounded by sandbanks:

Another runner-up: the limestone terraces of Huanglong in China. A bit like Turkey’s Pamukkale, but painted bright turquoise, and much larger in scale:

And not far from Huanglong is the Jiuzhaigou nature reserve and national park. Cascades of lakes and waterfalls, crystal clear – yet somehow turquoise! – water in lakes, and a freakish forest of horizontally growing trees under that same crazy-colored water, and all that set in the most picturesque of mountainous landscapes:

And that completes this H2O-themed portion of my Top-12 Ultimate Natural Beauties of the World. Next theme – also H2O, but of a very different kind: ice!…

The 12 most beautiful places in the world. No. 1: the king of the volcanoes.

Hi folks!

Things do seem to be getting better generally around the world on the covid front (with exceptions), but there’s still plenty of lockdown and quarantine and travel restrictions – so much so I’m still pretty much grounded: none of my usual globetrotting (be it work or non-work-related) to new, interesting, far-flung places, and my blogpost-reports thereon a short while after. But never mind: I’m sure things will be back up and running shortly. And in the meantime?…

In the meantime: archive digging – into some of the most beautiful places on the planet I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, most of which feature on my Top-100 List of Must-See Places on the Planet.

But how do I whittle that 100-strong list down to a mere dozen of the very best, most must-see, totally OMG places? Actually, it’s rather simple.

It’s all about… time: how much time you spend at a place, how much time you’d want to spend there ideally, and how many times you’d want to go back there for more.

Even among the ‘elite members’ of the best places on earth, there are some many you don’t spend a great deal of time at – nor would you want to. You arrive, you are bowled over, you stroll around the place for an hour or two, you purchase the proverbial (or real) t-shirt, you place the proverbial (or real) check on your list of ‘beens’, and that’s it: all done in no time at all, and you’ll never go back, because – why would you?

But then there are the places – in particular, the views – you just want to get back to, sometimes over and over, and once you are there you want to stay there, gawping, forever. The paysages that hypnotize, take the breath away, blow the mind; and sometimes there’s a bonus: those paysages change over time. And it is these ever-so-special places that make up this mini-series on the best of the best of the best places on the planet…

So I’ve shaved and sheared and pruned my Top-100 and been left with some 20 best-evers: the world’s most magical mountains and volcanoes, the most delightful deserts, the most wonderful waterfalls, and so on in that vein. Yes, and by ‘that vein’ I mean: natural wonders of the world – nothing man-made (maybe a Top-20 of those comes later?!).

And I won’t be ordering the 20 by snaking round the planet as I’ve done in the past. The ordering this time will be a little different. And I’ll start off with nothing less than… the most fabulous, most fantastic, most grandiose natural object on the planet!

Of course, it’s the most fabulous, most fantastic, most grandiose object on the planet – in my opinion, for there can be never be full objectivity here. All the same, it is the most beautiful natural landscape I have beheld personally in my life ever. And here it is…

Krenitsyn volcano, Onekotan, Kuril Islands, Russia.

A monumental spectacle. A ‘live’ picture constantly changed by the unbelievably unstable weather conditions of the Kurils. A colossal volcanic caldera with a lake inside it, out of which rises the cone of a new volcano:

Read on…

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The year that was 2020 – and the money side of things.

Hi folks!

It’s been a little over a year since this darn biological contagion swept the world and hit businesses hard – especially small and medium-sized businesses. Almost immediately it was clear some companies weren’t going to fare well. But I also wondered how the cybercriminals would behave. And what would happen to our company during this potentially long period of quarantine?

On the whole of course it was obvious that cybercrime wouldn’t suffer that much. The bad guys carried on ‘working from home’ as usual. Nothing much changed for them, apart from potential victims spending more time online due to quarantine measures and lockdowns. And, of course, the internet didn’t lose any bandwidth because of this biological virus.

But what about our business, which takes the fight to those very same cybercriminals?

A year ago, I expressed my belief that our company would be affected by two vectors: one negative and one positive. On the one hand, some of our customers would face difficulties, and some, alas, would go bankrupt. We’ll obviously lose those revenues. But on the other hand, there would be companies that started investing more resources in cybersecurity because their employees were working remotely and the cybercriminal world would most likely become more active. How we’d manage these two vectors would directly determine our own results.

So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I’m pleased to tell you that we’ve just announced our financial results for the past year. ‘Why in April?’ you may ask. Because we wanted to do a financial audit first.

And so…*drum roll*…

It’s time to tally the numbers and sum up the results of the past year. We even held a press conference to mark the occasion, informing journalists of our financial achievements.

Despite the now notorious bio-virus pandemic, the global economic crisis, and all kinds of geopolitical instability and uncertainties, our results weren’t only not bad, but were actually very good! After a year of covid, we not only survived but also grew! And that was despite an almost complete relocation of our K-folks from the office to remote working with all the associated costs and restructuring, mass provision of our products to the needy, and all sorts of other various unforeseen things.

All righty. I’ll start off with the biggie: the company’s global revenue for 2020 reached $704 million – an increase of 2.8% on 2019.

Read on…

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The gateway to cyber-immunity.

Hi folks!

Herewith – a brief interlude to my ongoing meandering Tales from the Permafrost Side. And what better interlude could there be than an update on a momentous new K-product launch?!

Drum roll, cymbal!…

We’re launching and officially presenting to the world our first fully ‘cyber-immune’ solution for processing industrial data – the death knell for traditional cybersecurity heralding in a new era of ‘cyber immunity’ – at least (for now) for industrial systems and the Internet of Things (IoT)!

So, where is this cyber-immune solution? Actually – in my pocket! ->

Read on…

Irkutsk to Taishet: 700km – in the net.

After Irkutsk, our next main stop was the large Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. But since it’s a long way – 1100km – we broke the journey up, staying overnight in the town of Taishet, whose main claim to fame is that the Baikal-Amur Mainline (railroad) (BAM) starts out there.

In Irkutsk we were up early, and off – in a pea-souper reminiscent of the one in Yakutsk. No doubt the steam emitted by the cooling towers of the Irkutsk power plant had something to do with it. Ouch: that must mean it’s like this all the time in winter. Still, at least the road was a good one: traditionally fresh (recently repaired/re-laid), smooth, and with two lanes going each way. Ouch: but those four lanes only lasted around 30km, and after that it was down to just two lanes – for the next thousand kilometers! More ouch: the fog remained. More ouch: we were stuck in the slow-moving traffic practically the whole day – zero chances of safe overtaking. OUCH OVERDOSE.

Mercifully, toward the end of the day’s driving, the fog did abate and rays of sunshine started to appear; accordingly, up went our mood.

// Btw: Below and in future posts, the photos you see are a mix of mine, DZ’s, and travel-blogger Sergey Anashkevich‘s.

Read on…

Lake Baikal: halfway to Moscow from Magadan.

Onward we drove. And drove, and drove… on our Magadan–Moscow road trip. Today’s stretch – further along the Baikal Highway, heading for Irkutsk (not Yakutsk, though I’m sure they get mixed up a lot:).

The road is smooth and mostly straight (like most highways in this part of the world), the views all around – outstanding, and the drifting snow on the road – spookily stunning:

Read on…

The other side of Mosfilm.

Brief intermission in among the Tales from the Permafrost Side!…

Moscow for the tourist: there’s plenty to do and see. But after several days filled with Red Square, St. Basil’s, the Kremlin, the Arbat, Tverskaya, the Park of Victory, the Tretyakov Gallery and the Pushkin Museum… what else is there? Well here’s one worthy suggestion, which I can now share with you after visiting the place myself for the first time the other day – the Mosfilm studio! ->

This legendary film studio complex was founded in 1923 – so in two years’ time it’ll be its 100th jubilee!

Mosfilm today is also a museum dedicated to itself and the movies made there. In we popped…

Read on…

700km Chita to Ulan-Ude on the Baikal Highway.

After yesterday’s 900km to Chita, we were up early for another 700 to Ulan Ude, with a brief stop at Ivolginsky Datsan along the Baikal Highway:

But before setting off we needed to make a few changes: First – to the cars we were driving. As per the plan, we said goodbye to the hardy Renaults from Avtorazum, and hello to some Mercedes. Second – our group of road-trippers were joined by some extra K-folks from our HQ, since from here on in the road trip became somewhat more businessy, for we’d be dropping in on some of our cherished clients and partners.

Read on…