Howdy, Saudi!

As experience shows, the brighter the sun shines somewhere – the more photos are taken…

So when in the capital of sunny Saudi Arabia, a great many pics are taken. Even more if you get to the top of a skyscraper here…

And we got up to the top of Kingdom Centre, one of the country’s tallest buildings, which weighs in at more than 300 meters high ->

Read on…

Flickr photostream

  • Jordan / Nov 2022
  • Jordan / Nov 2022
  • Jordan / Nov 2022
  • Jordan / Nov 2022

Instagram photostream

Putorana and Mauritius – could there be a connection, or is it a trap?!

Question: what does the monumentally massive Putorana Plateau have in common with… the Indian Ocean? Rather – some of the islands located in it ->

Yes – for example, Mauritius (been) and Réunion. Well, I have a theory – a hypothesis – about how they may be connected to Putorana…

Under Réunion (a French colony department), there currently happens to be situated a hotspot – a small area under the (Indian) lithospheric (tectonic) plate where the underground magma for some reason comes real close to the surface of the plate. When the hotspot punched through the plate, Réunion came into being (this is millions of years ago, of course). And that’s how plenty of other islands and archipelagos and atolls in the Indian Ocean were created, including Mauritius and Maldives. The plate slowly moved (for millions of years) over the hotspot, and every dozen million years or so – another punch-through and another new island!

Ok. That’s the islands covered. Now for some land-based volcanism to continue the theme…

Read on…

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Monumental, brutal; in places – simply splendid. That’s Putorana folks!…

Norilsk business and places of interest: done. But up here in the Far North, there’s actually another place of interest to the adventurous (and well-heeled) tourist, albeit 300 kilometers to the east, and only accessible by helicopter (told you!), and that is the Putorana Plateau.

Briefly, the Putorana Plateau is simply… a magnificently marvelous mountainous area! It’s not quite Kamchatka, of course, but it still gets a full five Ks as per my (KKKKKaspersky Tourism Awesomeness Categorization System) classification. Oh yes: top marks (there is no KKKKKK). Just to remind: 5K = unique, monumental and complex. Not bad for a region you might think is only good for extreme cold and nickel and copper extraction )…

5K it is, but that doesn’t immunize it from downsides…

Downside one: the weather. It’s practically never good around here. Very much reminiscent of Kamchatka or the Kurils.

Read on…

How copper is made: from the ore to the finished product.

Norilsk walkabout – done. Norilsk borsch – supped, and already yearning for more.

Next up – an inspection of the industrial-technological processes upon which the city of Norilsk grew, and which still produces a broad spectrum of the elements from the periodic table.

Nornickel was kind enough to show us practically the whole process of the production of copper: extraction > fine crushing > preparation > smelting > electrolysis > dispatching. All that, coming up in this post…

First up for us – safety talk, down there on the ground floor (next to that pond in which carp swim!) ->

Read on…

The world’s northernmost city.

Over the last three years I’ve probably visited more cities in Russia than anywhere else. The main reason of course having been the global travel restrictions during covid (which some countries are only just lifting, while others (e.g., China) aren’t even contemplating doing so). Then, this year, international travel for Russians has become a lot more difficult, with multiple connections being now the norm where before there were direct flights. Accordingly, I’ve been doing a lot more domestic travel – for both business trips and adventure-tourism expeditions. And I’ve been visiting plenty of places for the first time too. Just this year I’ve been to the following cities for the first time in my life:

And just the other week I had another +1: Norilsk

Norilsk is no ordinary city, as you either knew before, or now know from the title of this blogpost. Yes, it’s very far north – so, of course, it gets frightfully cold (down to -60°C sometimes!) here in winter. But summer ain’t much better: constant rain. Then there are the strong winds year round. Then there’s the whole ecology… issues – but more on them in a bit…

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Khabarovsk – the city with a bridge fetish.

The city of Khabarovsk, at least in the summer, is a most charming city – perfect for a long stroll. In the winter I imagine it’s not quite as pretty or walkable – all cold and icy and snowy; but then I think back to a wintery (-50°C!) Yakutsk, and realize Khabarovsk might be just as charming in the winter, albeit in a very different way. But we were here in the summer, and, after not having seen much of it over the last few weeks in the Kurils, the sun was out – and staying out ->

Read on-…

Kurils > Shantar Islands > Khabarovsk.

Farewell Kuril Islands, adios Sakhalin, and hasta la vista Kamchatka, where we began this expedition. But we had a worthy, if very… specific post-scriptum itinerary planned, so it wasn’t quite auf wiedersehen expedition just yet. Coming up were: the western shore of the Sea of Okhotsk (in particular, Bukhta Vrangelya, or Wrangel’s Bay) and the Shantar Islands.

// Note – there are two Bukhta Bays! There’s the one we visited – like I say, on the western shore of the Sea of Okhotsk (on the Russian mainland); but there’s also another, not that far away – directly south: Bukhta Vrangelya on the eastern shore of the neighboring Sea of Japan – also on mainland Russia! Confused yet? If not – get this: there’s also Wrangel Island, also in this region of the world – not far off the northeastern coast of Russia!

This place became popular thanks to bowhead whales, which come to party in large pods. Sometimes the small bay is teeming with them all frolicking about. There’s even been a documentary filmed all about their fun and frolics (choose English subtitles in the YouTube settings) ->

Read on…