A Great Ocean Road Trip.

G’day!

The Great Ocean Road, Australia. I can now say I’ve been there, traveled that, got the… confirmation: it’s another must-see place in the world. And +1 to my list…

Great Ocean Road

So just what is the Great Ocean Road? Surprisingly, it’s a road. It’s also great, as in both great – super, and great – long; and it mostly hugs the ocean shore. It was built in the early part of the last century along a stretch of the craggy coast of the southeastern Australian state of Victoria. It’s rich in heritage, incredibly curvy, and offers breathtaking views from the road itself and also just off it a little inland – you just need to leave the road a hundred meters or so to get extra special views at the right, marked places.

More: a two-way trip…

A 16-Hour Flight, and a Day that Never Was.

Flight Plan Map

Yesterday I set myself a personal record – my longest plane journey: 8575 miles, in just under 16 hours. The route we took is the third longest in the world at the moment, but bizarrely enough it doesn’t make the top-ten longest in terms of time taken to fly. It’s probably due to the wind over the Pacific Ocean assisting the plane and saving time (and kerosene). Info on the longest air routes in the world is here.

More: From Paradise Island to Surfers Paradise …

Flickr photostream

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The UK’s PR Disaster: Heathrow.

In Geneva we’d been told all sorts of horror stories about London’s Heathrow Airport recently having been turned into a nightmare of delays, huge lines and other horridness you’d normally expect from some backward banana republic, not the UK. Strange, I thought – just last week I was in England and all was OK at its main airport. Now? There’s just one word to describe it: chaos. Lines for both security and passport control were two hours long, and we hear they can get even longer. It’s so bad it resembles the hellhole that is New York’s JFK, or Moscow’s Sheremetevo about ten years back.

We were lucky – we weren’t heading for the UK. We were just connecting there. Thank goodness. Otherwise we’d have had to have joined in the fun. So here’s a warning to anyone going to the UK soon: be prepared. Make sure you’ve plenty to read, listen to, and/or watch on-the-go! I can’t imagine what’s going to happen here later this year when the Olympics start… I think getting to France first might be the best option – and coming through the Channel Tunnel!

More: It’s always sunny in… Geneva

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Twice Around the World in 50 Days.

Bonjour, mes amis!

Over the next two months (a dozen days under, to be more precise), I’ll be on a non-stop ultramarathon-esque “avia-run” that’ll take me twice around the planet. In all it’ll take in around ten countries in four continents. Looking at our flight/event schedule, even I – the experienced on-the-roader that I am – got a bit overwhelmed/fearful for a few brief moments; but this quickly transformed into excitement (I’m like that) about this monster tour. I’ll be in every continent besides Africa, South America and Antarctica (the latter – the biggest shame to miss out; oh how I want to get back there!).

My route is as follows: Russia – Switzerland – Bahamas – Australia – Italy – Israel – UK – USA – China – Germany – Belgium – Russia. The airlines are already rubbing their hands with glee :) And I’m edging closer to my millionth air mile with Sky Team. I need to get there soon though, as T.T. is threatening starting using a private jet for these extended jaunts – and those miles of course wouldn’t go towards my million with the Sky Team :)

The KL guys and/or gals I go with on these lengthy forays understandably have a tough time keeping up with such intensity and tempo, so somewhere along the way I usually switch them round – kind of a support-rotation – so that it’s not too overwhelming and exhausting for them (T.T., peering over my shoulder while I’m writing this, interjects here: “and we need them alert, or not at all!!”).

The first time round the globe I’ll be doing with K.A. (who’s that? It’ll come to light soon). This is her first go at a month of constantly changing time zones, climates, airlines, hotels, and food and drink, plus impression overload. She’ll be fine. She’s a real trooper.

Right now we’re in Geneva – the our first stop on our trip. Here’s the view from the office where we had a very important meeting with some very important folks:

Geneva

More: The nice people around…

Shanghai – Slow Trains, Fast Cars.

Ni hao, all!

Shanghai – what a place. It’s really quite something. I mean in terms of its size (massive), the quantity of skyscrapers (plenty), the size of two of its airports (huge), and the number of stack interchanges and double-decker highways that crisscross the city (it contains probably several hundred miles of eight-lane roads – incredible). Blade Runner-esque Tokyo – move over! But I’m never lucky with the weather when I visit. This time Shanghai was once again covered with a haze so thick I could only see a few miles into the distance.

Tokyo

More: Maglev experience and F1 Shanghai-style

Cherry Blossoms – ver. 2012

Hi everyone!

Time for some catch-up. Been getting behind on my blogging duties. And that’s down to my suffering a bit of late due to an overloaded schedule. Four cities in a week (not including Moscow) – it’s become quite tough. Before I could manage – no worries. What’s with me? Just need some rest and relaxation, I guess.

Anyway – enough moaning, and back to it! Oki-doki…

And so, there we are again – in Tokyo! Japan – a unique country that can be compared with no other; and Tokyo, its capital – a crazy, magical metropolis that just blows the mind. It’s a place you really need to see in the flesh – photos only go so far in giving you an adequate impression. Therefore, to anyone who still hasn’t had the chance of visiting Japan – get there as soon as the opportunity arises! I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Japan

More: Cherry blossoms, business, and Blade Runner …

Oman? – Yeh’ Man! Or – From Moscow Snow to the Arabian Heat.

Salam alaykom, everyone!

Next up on my spring globetrotting tour with T.T. – Muscat, the capital of Oman, for the Cyber Defense Summit. Here under the chandeliers were gathered together ministers and other government representatives, bosses of top corporations, the FBI and other legal enforcement bodies, and so on. The event was a closed one – as in, not open to the press. Ooh – secrecy! All the same I managed to fit in eight interviews.

Cyber Defense SummitA ceiling to be admired – just ask the gent in the orange head dress

More: Now for a few facts about the Sultanate of Oman

A Break Well Deserved – Mayan Style.

With three events (Security Analyst Summit, international press tour, and IT-security industry analysts’ conference) in Cancun over and done with (which completed the last leg of more than three weeks on the road at conferences, etc., etc., etc. all around the world), and the very last guests all having left, a little nostalgia was already setting in for the great times we had in the place… everything was just so very positive, interesting and fun – especially the evenings; extra-specially the Mexican Yucatan nights – yee-ha!

So let me tell you a little about the three ‘best bits’ – what you really must see in Yucatan if you ever get the chance to visit the place.

First – Chichen Itza (the Mayan pyramids); second – Cenote Ik-Kil (for swimming); and third – Rio Secreto (underground caves); not necessarily in that order. All must-visits!

A few pieces of advice: in Rio Secreto it’s better to leave your camera outside the cave – otherwise it’ll just get ruined down there from being submerged in water. But not to worry – every group of visitors to the caves is accompanied by a photographer who knows exactly how to keep his camera dry above water level. There are three different routes in Rio Secreto – all taking approximately 90 minutes to complete – at first by foot, then up to one’s knees in water, then swimming, then… just anyway, anyhow, as best you can :)

Indeed, a massive ‘big up’ to Rio Secreto . And I recommend buying one of the CDs with photos at the exit – the CDs contain great pics of both underground and surface scenes, plus ones of all the wildlife to be found in the caves.

For Chichen Itza you need to take camera equipment, bathing suit, plus towel – that’s about all you need for a great day’s chillage there.

It goes without saying that all the touristy spots are lined with densely packed stalls hawking the inevitable mass consumption tat. “Onnly van dullaar, senyor!”

The pics below show where the Mayas played their ancient version of basketball. Legend has it that one of the teams in the final after the game would be sacrificed for the gods. Which team wound up dead after the match – the winning or losing one – is not known: scholarly opinion is divided on this.

Swimming in Cenote Ik-Kil is one of the most magical swims in the world! The purest water, at the perfect temperature, at the bottom of a kind of deep sinkhole with long dangling plants hanging from high above. I really recommend it. One problem though is that it’s tricky taking good photos there – it’s quite dark below and very light above L.

That’s all folks! And now, for several days I’m going to be in full offline regime, somewhere here:

View from the plane

The rest of the photos are here.