From Maldives to… Magadan!

One of the most pressing problems facing the world today is global warming. Its effects can be witnessed all over the globe – from the Americas to… Zambia. Whether man-made pollution has much of an overall effect on specifically global warming is open to question, and question that postulate I did some months back (but before you scream ‘climate change denier!’, no one’s denying climate change. Click the link first:). But global warming is for real, whatever its causes, and it’s serious and should concern us all. Ok, but what’s any of this to do with Maldives or Magadan in the title? Well…

It turns out both locations may become more perceptibly vulnerable to global warming – and quicker – than most. Maldives: the sea level goes up due to melting ice caps… and it could be curtains. Magadan: if the permafrost there thaws – it might not be full curtains, but the changes to the flora and fauna could be significant. Ok, but what’s the connection between the two – Maldives and Magadan? Well…

There is nothing really that connects Maldives and Magadan. Two places on the planet couldn’t be more different. It was us who made the connection: flying from Maldives to Magadan! Not directly (no flights: shame; would have shaved off hours up in the air).

Now – why Maldives? Why not?!

And why Magadan? Well, we reckoned it might just be the last opportunity to ever really experience the true OMG-crazy-cold of northeastern Siberia!

All righty: back to the Maldives where we began…

Read on…

Island-hopping with ease – in paradisical Maldives!

And the first place in yesterday’s post – the tropical one with the novel Christmas trees – is (as title of this blogpost has somewhat given away)…


Did you guess right? Or did you spot the clue in the very last of the tropical snaps – Devarana – a nice spa on one of the islands, which is as Google-able as just about anything.

This paradisical place is made up of 26 atolls, which in turn are made up of more than a thousand islands! Some are inhabited – many are resort islands – but most of them have never been settled upon. There are a zillion pics of the picture-perfect archipelago on the internet, be they having been taken on land, underwater or from the air, but here are some of my own aerial pics too:

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Flickr photostream

  • K Christmas Party 2020
  • K Christmas Party 2020
  • K Christmas Party 2020
  • K Christmas Party 2020

Instagram photostream

What, no Christmas tree?!

Welcome back folks!

Ok, 2020-review: done.

Next up, my first 2021 blogpost proper – on how we met the New Year.

And we happened to have met it in an exotic location somewhere far away – hurray! (Who’d have thought it? Actually – me! It’s 2021 already!) The suitcases (more than usual) were all packed, and it was time to get going…

Not that seeing in the New Year in some distant place is new to me: I’ve done it… on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, near the peak of a volcano in Indonesia, next to high-altitude hot springs in Ecuador, and even at the South Pole. But on those and other New Year’s Eves > New Year’s Days, there was always a Christmas tree. If not a real one, at least a plastic – green! – one. This year, the Christmas tree situation was… strange. There were… surrogates: tropical installations doing their best fir-tree impression, but which were decidedly not even green. Strange – yes; but also clearly creatively constructed with care, and suitably festively decorated. Like! ->

Read on…

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My 2020 review: despite the pandemic, we still came through!

First, a toast!

Here’s to… successful adaptation throughout last year, and to everyone having… a good sense of smell this year! Hurray!

Sure, the New Year celebrations were weeks ago. But there’s still my traditional yearly review to complete! Well here it is finally – better late than never. And the first thing I can say about it is that the volume of my activities was way down below what it normally is; example: I took a mere 36 flights throughout the year! I haven’t had such a modest total since 2006!

Despite the meager results in terms of numbers of trips, there’s still quite a bit for me to tell you and show you. I added a few long-anticipated +1s to my Top-100 Must-See List, and returned to some of the more marvelous places on earth where I’ve been before; for example: the Altai Mountains – for a totally fantastic summer expedition-vacation. It was so fantastic I want to go back yet again! ->

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Off we go – to see a manor house in the snow.

Hi folks!

Here’s an interesting topic: old country manors of nobles and merchants past. There happen to be a great many of them around Russia. For example, just in the Moscow Region, or Óblast, which surrounds the capital, there are several hundred of them. Studying and then publishing details of the histories of these places is a most curiously interesting pastime. And there are folks who devote much of their lives to such a pursuit: they check out the country piles themselves and run excursions for curious tourists. One such keen studier of mansions is Vadim Razumov, who, in 15 years studying them as a hobby, has visited a full several thousand (!) of them all around the country. For all about his findings, including some mind-blowing historical tales, check out his fascinating blog.

Last weekend, a group of friends and I were taken on a short ethnographical expedition led by him to one of the prerevolutionary Moscow Oblast mansions. It’s situated some 80km from Moscow in the direction of Minsk (i.e., westward), and it goes by the name of Usadba Lyubvino (Lyubvino country estate) ->

Alas, many of the prerevolutionary mansions of Russia long ago fell into states of disrepair, this one included, as you can see. Doesn’t make them or their stories any less interesting!…

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Altai-2020 – greatest photographic hits.

First, the bad news: Altai-2020 is over!

Now for the good news: There’s a Very Big Altai Video in the pipeline! And it promises to be full of super-duper material, and also to be professionally produced and edited. In a word or four – it’s gonna be awesome!

In the meantime, today in this post – a few photographic ‘greatest hits’ my fellow expeditioners have sent me for your viewing pleasure: for those who’ve not been to Altai – as enticers, teasers, to get yourselves there; and for those who’ve been – as nostalgizers. Because – remember – it’s good to have been somewhere and enjoyed it, but better to have been somewhere and enjoyed it and then… to revisit it through photos as it might make you realize you should go back again :0)!

Pheeeew. What a trip! Simply remarkably marvelously fantastic. I think a wait of three or four years, and we’ll be heading back – if the magical Altai energy doesn’t pull us back before ). Perhaps we’ll do the trekking part a bit differently, but as for the Katun bit: that can stay exactly the same!

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Anomalous Altai, and a hotel to decompress-ify.

Here we are with another installment from our expedition across Altai’s… extraordinary countryside. Wait! Extraordinary – that’s accurate, but… it’s a bit banal, no? Thing is, in describing Altai’s natural beauty, I seem to be forever repeating the handful of adjectives I normally use! So, before I started this post, I thought I’d find at least one new epithet (not the disparaging kind) that describes accurately (maybe I’ll try add one more new one with each post?) the Altai Mountains. So I did. And I came up with… anomalous! Well, why not? The effect of Altai’s mountainous scenery has had a deeply anomalous effect on me – more so than any other mountainous-volcanic place in the world. And then there’s the fact that the mountains and rivers are anomalous; there’s also the anomalous natural energy here that permeates everything – the air, the water, the mountains, your soul (!) – unlike anywhere else on the planet! But I digress. Meanwhile on the River Katun…

Where we were along the Katun on this day, more than 60 smaller rivers and streams – tributaries – had flown into it. As a result – it had become powerful, wide, and high:

A quick look at the map tells me that here the width of the Katun is 150 meters. While in 20+km all that water will be forced to squeeze through a narrow rocky canyon of a width of just 30 meters. So it doesn’t take a mathematician to work out that the rapids in that canyon are going to be pretty darn fast and anomalous! And those same rapids have an anomalously unique name too: Teldekpen!

Here they come! ->

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Many a splash – on Kadrin and Shabash.

After our night on the beach, we woke to yet another gloriously warm and sunny day – hooray! If only the river were a bit warmer too; it felt like it was around 10-12 degrees centigrade, no more. Quick dips were doable but it was a bit too cold for swimming.

We had an interesting day ahead of us. Just to the left of that mountain down there the Kadrin Rapids begin, which was to be our first bit of action of the day…

Read on…