Monthly Archives: August 2023

African vacation – ver. 2023: Nairobi.

Should you ever head to Kenya for a vacation, you’d most probably fly into the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, the nation’s capital. Nice airport: good level of service – and extraordinarily light on lines for both passport-control and customs. I wonder – were we just lucky, or is it always like that?

Nairobi itself looks like… pretty much what I expected: the capital of a country that’s successfully developing toward a brighter future. There’s poverty – plenty; but there are also plenty of districts that are positively salubrious…

Read on…

African vacation – ver. 2023: why, where, how.

As you can work out from the title to this post, this year’s trip to Africa wasn’t my first lengthy vacation on the African continent. In early 2016 I was in Tanzania, where I scaled Kilimanjaro, went on a safari around the country’s savanna, and wunderbarred in Zanzibar. And details and pics of that African adventure were later all compiled into a hardback illustrated travelogue book – Awesome Africa.

Fast-forward to 2023, and here I am again – this time in Kenya!…

Africa: jaw-dropping landscapes, vast swarms of roaming wild animals, and the ultimate in stark continent-specific daily-life-with-a-difference! In short: all the ingredients for an amazing vacation!…

Read on…

Flickr photostream

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

Instagram photostream

Shenzhen in a day – to drop in on Huawei.

Next up – we fly southeast from Guiyang to Shenzhen. Sure, the center of the city is radically urbanized, but we saw none of that; for we spent all our time in the city in… its parks! Yes, you read that right. See, we were in Shenzhen to pay a visit to our friends at Huawei, which is headquartered in the city, and it just so happens that the road between the airport and said HQ is lined with nothing but parks!…

Everywhere you look – greenery and lakes. It resembled more Singapore than the stereotyped image of a large Chinese metropolis…

Read on…

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China’s province of Guizhou: where if there are no tunnels – they bore some through!

From Beijing we flew into Guiyang (here), the capital of the Guizhou province (here). Though they call Guizhou a “third level” city, it still plays a key role for China’s economy – since here are located large logistical centers, plenty of other businesses and industries, plus… the largest data centers in the country. Which is why we paid a visit. Our annual Chinese partner conference also takes place here. But about that later. Today – tourism!…

Since Guizhou is mostly mountainous, the topography-geology of the province is off-the-scale beautiful, with the tourism built up around it correspondingly enormous in scale. It also holds records for the number of bridges and tunnels in the country.

For our portion of tourism while in the province, we were told we should get ourselves to Tianhetan for its waterfalls and caves (here), since it’s the one of the province’s most unusual places. Which turned out to be entirely true – with a twist…

Read on…

How to kill time in Beijing if your flight’s delayed.

Hi folks!

Been a while – yes; but I’ve been busy. More on that…

So, you know how business trips for me are pretty much always intense, hi-tempo, tight-schedule, action-packed affairs? Well, guess what? This summer that “template” transferred over to my summer holidays. And I couldn’t be happier for it!…

In almost three weeks – first with colleagues and then with family – I visited a full 10 locations, staying in hotels, villas – even tents! Put another way, for 18 days we stayed in one place on average 1.8 days. More specifically: Beijing; Shenzhen; Guiyang; Nairobi, plus another six overnight stays across Kenya (the final one being next to Diani Beach, where we decompressed for a few days after all the tourism-till-you-drop:).

I said above I couldn’t have been happier; however, not everything went smoothly. Luggage went missing, and there were flight delays of several hours. Fortunately, the first such delay we found out about in advance of setting off for the airport, so we killed time whiled away the time leisurely at Lake Houhai (situated near the center of Beijing, some two kilometers north of the Forbidden City)…

Read on…

And finally – adventurous unusualnesses, pt. 7: going cosmic (zero-gravity).

First – a review of the series:

Part 1: Ocean-going adventures

Part 2: South Pole & North Pole adventures

Part 3: Land-based (road and rail) adventures

Part 4: Chartered… train adventure

Part 5: Beijing Bird-Nest Stadium adventure

Part 6: Volcanic, cockpit & air-pocket adventures

And finally, closing the series – an aerial weightlessness adventure!…

Ten 25-second bursts of complete weightlessness – zero-gravity: just like what astronauts endure when in a space ship or station in outer space! And we experienced it in this here special Roscosmos astronaut-training airplane ->

Oh my gravity-less! A simply cosmic experience!

Read on:…

Atypical adventures – pt. 6: VIP volcanoes, cockpit cruising, and an airborne anomaly.

Sea-based, then (low-land) land-based extraordinary experiences – done.

Next up – time to go higher…

First – proviso: I’m no serious mountaineer into tricky climbs requiring special equipment and training. I take my mountains volcanoes seriously, of course, but I’m always one to take the paths up an incline (if there are any paths), preferring to take a meditative-contemplative approach to volcano climbing/trekking…

I’ve scaled some of the more famous volcanoes around the world, but most of them – like Kilimanjaro – have almost become mainstream these days. So let me tell you about some of the more exclusive/exotic ones I’ve either climbed – or just visited and beheld (entranced!)…

First up – Krenitsyn volcano on the Kuril island of Onekotan, which I mentioned in the first post in this series ->

Read on:…

Adventure tales of the unexpected – pt. 5: filling Beijing’s Bird-Nest Stadium + Akrotiri Excavations.

Hi folks!

Onward – with more of my extraordinary terrestrial greatest hits…

Bizarre tale of the unique/unusual kind No. 8

Here’s an extraordinary, extraordinarily-large tale from way back in 2009…

The previously-mentioned Harry Cheung (formerly the director of our Chinese office) just so happened to be friends with none other than Jackie Chan! And together the two of them pooled their power-clout and managed to convince the Beijing authorities to sanction a huge pop concert in the Chinese capital’s main stadium – yes: the (Olympic) Bird’s Nest! The undertaking turned out to cost an arm-and-a-leg, but still we managed to recoup costs from ticket sales (the surplus went to charity) – after all, Jackie himself was to appear (and sing – and not a bad singing voice he has either!), as did other top pop artists from both China and Korea. The event turned out to be massive. Chinese style…

Here’s the scene just before the start, with the stands still-only half-full ->

Btw – this truly was “our” event – organized by us, sponsored by us. Look – only our banners are to be seen around the stands (in both English and Chinese) ->

Read on:…

Astonishing adventures – pt. 4: railroad bonus track.

Er… oops. In my previous post in this series, I forgot all about Uryupinsk! Accordingly, here’s adventure-tourism story of the unique/unusual kind No. 7…

In the fall of the year 2008, we took a business trip to Volgograd to sign official agreements on friendship and cooperation with the Governor of the Volgograd region. After the official part of the proceedings there was a short and friendly meeting, during which I noticed a map on the wall – a map of the region. And since I’m a big fan of examining geographical details on maps, I proceeded to duly scan it. And straight away I noticed the “legendary” (see below) Uryupinsk on it:

I say “legendary”, since, in Russia, the town of Uryupinsk has traditionally been used as a synonym for a bland, provincial backwater; and now, in the digital-era, it’s long been an internet meme for much the same thing. I’m not sure I even knew where it was (though, like every other Russian, I knew what it stood for), but here, in the governor’s office on the big wall-map, there it was – as large as life!

So, I pipe up with: “Is Uryupinsk yours?”, addressing the governor. “Yes, it is ours,” he answered. And then, contrary to both common sense and official etiquette, I made a joke. I said that, since Uryupinsk is a well-known internet meme, and we should hold an internet conference there!

Read on:…

Time-off – adventure tourism style: pt. 3 – land-based travel.

Ocean-based adventure vacations – done.

Both Poles – done.

In today’s post – land-based travels from the unusual and adventurous side…

So what can I boast of in this category? Well, there were the road-trips across Namibia, Tasmania (this one – just as corona was kicking in, and we only just made it back home before full-on quarantine!), the Andes, and both islands of New Zealand, plus assorted other high-speed, hi-octane drives. But – they’re hardly “special”; anyone can rent a car and undertake similar road-trips. Thus, there’s actually nothing to boast of here.

So what is there I can actually boast of – in terms of unusual, exclusive if not unique, tailor-made, VIP, land-based motorized journeys of the extreme-kind?…

Adventure-tourism story of the unique/unusual kind No. 5: Magadan-to-Moscow road trip

In January 2021 (in only slightly “tuned” – albeit brand-new – small Renaults), we decided a road-trip across practically the full length of the world’s largest country – with temperatures sometimes sinking below -50°C – would be an adventure-and-a-half that just had to be taken. Route: Magadan > Oymyakon > Yakutsk > and further west on to Moscow (after switching our tired Renaults in Chita for some Mercedes). Dropping in on customers and partners along the way, the road-trip took us a full month to complete. We were expecting dull monotony. What we got was a wholly unusual, at times surreal, winter-wonderland fairytale auto-expedition. It affected me so much it took me a full two weeks to decompress and recover once we’d gotten home! Each day brought something special and thoroughly uncommonly remarkable; however, two particular instances stand out for me most of all…

Astonishment No. 1: just how beautiful everything is out there in the winter!

We somehow weren’t expecting much besides the extreme cold; we simply couldn’t imagine the extraordinarily beautiful white scenes all around for thousands of kilometers that awaited us ->

Read on: Time-off – adventure tourism style: pt. 3 – land-based travel.