On Lovushki – scenes surreal: a paradise for the seal!

Hi folks!

The topic of today’s post – these cute little charmers:

But first, some intro….

Read on…

Dinosaurs, temples, and one too many a car – in Ulaanbaatar.

Farewell Gobi. Time for us to wrap up Mongolia – so we headed to its capital…

The whole population of Mongolia clocks in at around three million folks. Around half of those all live in the capital – Ulaanbaatar – which means, incidentally, ‘Red Hero’. Yes, a big city it is, and there’s plenty to see here too. We started, perhaps logically, with a Buddhist temple of worship – the Gandantegchinlen Monastery.

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For the remoteness connoisseur: an overnight stay in a Mongolian yurt – a ger.

I anticipate a few logical questions re our lodgings during our few days in Mongolia: what kind of yurts (in Mongolian a yurt is a ger, btw) did we stay in while in the Gobi Desert? Were they comfortable? Were they cozy? Were they warm? Were the beds comfy? Was the home-made bread tasty? Were your hosts hospitable?…

Ok; herewith, what I found out about yurts ->

First off – perhaps the most striking thing about yurts: the fact that you must enter or leave one with the right leg first! The same goes for hands, as in – you must give something to or take something from someone inside a yurt with the right hand – never the left. Such are the nomadic customs round here. I’m sure there are plenty of others, but we only got to find out about the main ones.

The second most striking thing: what you’re served to drink in a yurt – camel kefir! Tasty it is too. Goes down real well with freshly baked pita bread.

Generally, your nighttime experience in the Gobi Desert may be comfortable – or not. For example there are cozy nomad’s yurts with camels and goats tethered next to them; staying in one of these is comfortable. You may, instead, find yourself lost in the steppe with no map, compass or sat-nav; such an experience at night is the uncomfortable, scary variant ). The third variant is staying at the equivalent of a five-star hotel in the Gobi Desert, for example at Three Camel Lodge. As you can see – this is another comfortable variant.

Here it is!

Oh my Gobi: you can’t get more ‘middle of nowhere than this. I wonder, is this the world’s most remote hotel?! Certainly one of them!

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The extraordinary story of Kharimkotan glass floats.

The islands of Atlasov, Paramushir, and Onekotan – already inspected. So what was next on our southward trajectory along the Kurils? Well, there was plenty to go on: there were another 50+ islands left! However, not all of them are interesting. For example, just south of Onekotan (with its Krenitsyna) there’s the island of Kharimkotan. Here it is in fine weather:

And here it is on Google Maps.

source

Read on…

Gobi: lazy afternoon – treading barkhan dune.

Cайн уу folks!

Herewith, another installment from the one and only Gobi Desert, southern Mongolia (btw, did you know it also stretches into northern China?). Flat, vast, middle-of-nowhere, bewitchingly beautiful, in places – marvelously magical. Steppe, mountains, valleys, dunes… and barkhans. What, Hans?! Barkhans! These are a particular type of dune – crescent-shaped ones. Here they are – the magnificent Moltsog dunes.

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Backward-flying seagulls; whales, trout, cod, turquoise sea… and the Death Star prototype.

Hi folks,

Onward I narrate about our expedition round the Kurils this summer…

The weather on the Kurils is unpredictable, for sure. For most of the previous two days, up on the caldera of the King of the Volcanoes, the weather couldn’t have been pleasanter. This day, on the other hand – just the opposite: the wind was blowing a gale, and the rain was pouring down in torrents. Still, I won’t go over the wicked Kurilian weather again; I’ve mentioned it plenty before, including here. Nothing to add – apart from the fact that nothing has changed ).

Anyway, on this day of hurricanes-and-raining-cats-and-dogs, we had planned an inspection of Onekotan‘s Nemo Peak, and possibly even a climb to the top of it, since it’s not so tall (a little over 1000 meters). However, the weather failed to grant us permission (.

Read on…

Alpbach – Davos’ younger brother.

Guten Tag folks!

As my case > event > micro-tourism > hotel > case > airport > next place status enters its third week, after Malaysia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, I find myself in… Austria!

Why? Well, I just couldn’t pass up on the invite I received to speak at the Alpbach Forum now could I? What’s Alpbach? Well, I’d say it’s a bit like Davos (where the World Economic Forum holds its yearly bash), but with more of a European focus, less a whole-world one like at Davos. Put another way, Alpbach is Davos’ ‘younger brother’. I say ‘younger’ as it’s smaller; however, in one important way it’s better: there’s no whiff of geopolitical distortions and other interference whatsoever. There are also the fresh alpine air and luscious landscapes to be enjoyed too – just like at Davos but at a different time of the year. Nice.

Read on…

King Krenitsyna: to climb it you need to be a bit thinner.

It’s hard to believe, but in the northern Kurils there are only two or three days of sunshine – per year! No, really! Therefore, if ever you find yourself sat on the edge of the outer caldera of Krenitsyna Volcano, and the sun is shining – savor every single second, as we’re doing here in this pic – because you could be weeks waiting for the next short-lived installment of fine weather.

Read on…

15 years in Kazakhstan!

Selem folks!

I’ve still plenty more to tell and show you about our Kurils-2019 expedition, and also about my recent trip to Mongolia and its Gobi Desert, but in the meantime I’ve been visiting yet further countries less-visited – including… Kazakhstan! Now, I know I’m behind on my Kuril-and-Gobi catch-up, but I don’t want that tardiness to cross over into other trips. Accordingly, herewith, a brief side excursion – to Almaty!

I was in Kazakhstan’s largest city to celebrate a jubilee – the 15th anniversary of our presence in the region, and that covers the whole of Central Asia, including Mongolia!

(The photos are official ones – taken by a professional photographer)

First there was the day’s work, which was non-stop: press conference, Q&A, presentations for partners and clients, and preparations for the evening’s celebrations.

Next – the evening’s celebrations!…

Which were just how we liKe them: fun, friendly, singing-and-dancing, and with assorted attractions.

The boss down there – Evgeny Pitolin. Been with us at K now, oooh – lost count: many, many years ).

Crikey! Now that’s some birthday cake!

So… how do you go about cutting that. Where do you start?! Such a shame to destroy it!

Ok, here goes!…

Time to party – and rock!

(Of late – over the last few years, I mean – we’ve had quite a few local-office anniversaries: Italy, Poland, Spain, but I digress).

So, 15 years in Kazakhstan, eh? Now, if it were, say, five years in Kazakhstan, I’d no doubt dig up blogposts, FB posts, Instagrams and the like from five years ago for a little nostalgic retrospective from back when the office was founded. However, 15 years ago – no blogs, no FB, no Insta – not even our Fan Club! So let me give you a roundup of the status of K back then – manually, as it were…

️ 2004-1: our antivirus engine – yes, it was the best in the world (really; and it’s stayed the best:);

️ 2004-2: Sure, the Anti-Virus with my surname on it – it was a little wonky; this is where the ‘Kaspersky slows things down too much’ thing came from; however, that’s long since a thing of the past;

️ 2004-3: We made some timid, uncertain steps toward making a for-business product. Our competitors laughed – hard. But those were important first baby steps. Fast-forward to today and no one’s laughing anymore – we’re ahead of everyone );

️ 2004-main things: (i) it was this year when, due to performance issues, we turned our whole approach to antivirus upside-down – including a complete overhaul of our engine; (ii) it was from around this year when we started expanding our presence across the whole world.

In 2004, besides Kazakhstan, we opened rep offices in the U.S., France, Germany and Japan, and a subsidiary in China. Later, after a brief breather – we were at it again and soon had offices everywhere.

Other figures from 2004:

✔️ Earnings = US$27m;

✔️ 380 employees.

15 years later we were earning 25 times more and employing 11 times more staff. Our product range also went through the roof ). Plus: assorted services, education, this, that, universities, schools, Security Analyst Summit (SAS). And the icing on the cake: KasperskyOS and secure online voting using blockchain.

How we’ve come on in 15 years!

Ok – back to Kazakhstan after that nostalgic digression…

After the work – and the play – it was time for a spot of tourism. So off we popped to Big Almaty Lake, naturally ).

Unfortunately you can’t swim in the lake; if you do you can end up in prison, apparently! Shame!

What a beauty!

Next – over to Shymbulak. I remember it from decades ago. But there were no glass bottoms back then like there are now…

No snow! So it was a quick up and down, then back to Almaty. Next day it was back to Moscow. And from the plane:

That’s all for today folks!