Tag Archives: on the road again

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…

Okey-dokey – let’s chopper over the Gobi.

And now for more Gobi desert.

The Gobi is a huge desert consisting of several regions. It occupies Mongolia’s southern and south-western territory and a considerable part of central northern China. We only saw a small portion of it in southern Mongolia, but that was more than enough for our first visit. I can’t stress it enough: the Gobi is absolutely magical in gentle summer weather, and I highly recommend that everyone sees it with their own eyes. There are vast, infinite spaces. I want to say it’s where the horizon goes beyond the line of horizon’!

Read on…

Flickr photostream

Instagram photostream

Full-on Gobi experience!

My summer schedule has whirled into a frantic tornado. It’s only likely to ease up … at the end of October :) It was only 16 days ago that I returned from my trip to the Kurils, Sakhalin, Komandorski and Kamchatka, and since then I’ve been on a round trip to Malaysia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. And now my suitcase is packed and I’m ready to fly again…

There are still about 5,000 photos “in the pipeline”. It’s scary to think when that backlog may get cleared up, especially considering the very interesting places in my upcoming world travel plans. They’re the kind of places that leave a lingering imprint in your memory – and photos on the internet. However, it’s now time to catch up on some old stuff.

There was one place on the planet that I had long been dreaming of visiting – the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. I’ll add some stories later. For now, I just want to post a selection of some of the very best photos. Here you go!

Endless wilderness…

Read on…

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Going the extra miles – to the Kuril Isles (via Kamchatka).

Privet comrades!

Oh my ginormous! As I behold the full five and a half thousand (!) pics and vids (mine and others’) from our recent hundreds of nautical miles around the Kuril Isles, I begin to wonder just where I should start. But start I must. Ok, let’s do this simply and logically: I’ll just start from the beginning…

It all started with our flight from Moscow to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, from where our expedition began – and finished a month later!

As you know, I’m very partial to a spot of long-hauling. You sit by the window, you get through your backlog of emails that you just never can get through fully in the office, you get through most of an interesting new novel or non-fiction book, you watch a good movie from long ago (since there are hardly any good movies made today, or so it seems to me), and sometimes you get to see some wonderful aerial scenes out of said window, which you of course take a few pics of…

This time I was snapping away right from the get-go: the weather was clement and I got in a good clear shot of the suburbs of Moscow:

Woah – and there’s our office. I’ll be seeing you, office – in more than a month’s time!

Read on…

Ah – the Azores.

Been a while, I know…

Too busy traversing the planet to put fingers to keyboard. But in the meantime much has happened that needs reporting on and pics shown of – so it’s time for some catch-up…

First up – a few posts about the Azores, where I ended up unexpectedly on business the other week.

The Azores: another amazing place on the planet: green volcanic isles at the place where three of the largest tectonic plates (North American, Eurasian and African) meet amid a vast ocean – they’re bound to be something special. And they are. Especially their… flowers!

Now, any regular reader of these here blog pages will know I often mention and present pics of various plants and trees, but very rarely of flowers. Well that all changes here. This post is mostly all about flowers; in particular – the hydrangea.

Why? Because flowering hydrangea plants are literally everywhere. This was first pointed out to us by the driver of the taxi from the airport – kind of as a warning, so we wouldn’t be too shocked. These white, blue and purple flowers line roads and parking lots. They even act as hedges between fields (to keep cows from straying into neighboring fields), and they blanket-cover parks and botanical gardens – everywhere:


Read on…

(Motoring through) marble marvels in Taiwan, pt. 3.

Hi folks!

Herewith, my next dispatch from Taiwan…

I’ve already told you about the footpaths that run through the tunnels here. Well there’s a road too – the Central Cross-Island Highway. Built – and in some places chiseled – in 1956–1960, back then it was quite the pioneering engineering feat. Still today they’re renovating and improving it. And they’ve got their work cut out: there are frequent earthquakes, and typhoons cause flooding and mudslides. They dig out new sections for the cars, and the old ones get passed over to tourism.

Read on…

Rubik-therapeutic in the Pacific.

Over the New Year holidays a group of friends and I headed down to Ecuador for our traditional festive portion of unusual/active/exotic trekking/volcanism/photography. As usual, it was ‘active tourism until you drop’, cramming in as much we possibly could. Anyway, I’ll be writing blogposts on the trip – coming up shortly, but in the meantime I’d like to share with you a personal achievement I’m rather proud of – one completing a certain puzzle…

First: rewind…

Games/puzzles/toys. They come; they go. Some come and then disappear very quickly. Remember Tamagotchis? They were the biggest toy fad of the 1990s – early 2000s. Kids got so attached to their ‘digital pets’ that some were even driven to suicide when they suddenly broke. No, really.

More recently there was Pokémon. Once all the rage; now – all but disappeared. But there is another category of games that come – and stay. These are the timeless games that are just so darn good they’re not going anywhere. Chess, cards, dominoes… – been around centuries if not millennia, and will be around for millennia to come. Some modern-day games fall into this category of ‘stayers’ too. Not many, but some. Tetris, for example. It came, it became a fad-craze, interest died down a bit, but it didn’t go away. (I remember playing for hours on end on one… until one day I saw ‘blocks’ falling down in front of me in the street; that was when I realized it was time to quit:). The same thing happened with the Rubik’s Cube

I used to complete this cube-riddle using the standard cross method. Then I mislaid my Rubik’s Cube and mostly forgot about it (like many others did) – for 35 years! Then, just recently, while isle-hopping around the Galápagos – as you do – I recalled I’d packed some Rubik’s Cubes after recently finding them in a store somewhere and purchasing them, so one evening on the boat with not much to do I had a trip down memory lane and solved them. And not just the standard 3×3 model; also the 4×4 and the 5×5:

Really glad I packed them. I got at least five other fellow adventurers hooked on the 3×3, while a Rubik’s expert among us told me of a ‘secret’ method for solving the 3×3. Meanwhile, I learned how to do the 4×4 and 5×5. An engrossing, enthralling, entrancing exercise. Highly recommended! Especially in Ecuador!…

Two thousand eighteen: so much done, so much seen.

Ladies and gents, boys and girls!

Another year, another… oh dear. Where did that go? Again!

Indeed the end of 2018 is upon us, with our planet just a few hurdles short of its full circle around the Sun. Up here in wintery Moscow it’s snowy and freezing (-14°C today); down in the summery southern hemisphere it’s sunny and warm; but no matter where you are on the planet there’s one thing that’s the same: we’ll soon be seeing in the New Year of 2019…

Almost as inevitable as a +1 being added to the number of years since the year dot – before the presents, the fireworks displays, the champagne, the parties… – there also simply has to be my round-up of the year!

However, the round-up of the business year of Me Lab… that will come later on. Here will be a summary of my personal achievements of 2018. There was an abundance of interesting/amazing throughout the year, so I’ll have to somehow organize it all into different categories. But first off, let’s get things rolling with some pics of highlights of the year:

Next, my year – in cities/countries. The ones inside square brackets were places I was visiting purely for tourism; the rest – on business.

Read on…

Gulf to Geneva – wonderful weather.

During a recent flight I was overcome by some aviational-contemplative-meditative mega-good vibes. They were brought on by the super weather outside my window for almost the whole flight.

Said wonderful weather caused me to peer out of my window for most of the journey. Curiously, during the short time we were flying over the Persian Gulf, I saw not one plane flying nearby (a rarity), but two! I realize the airspace around these parts is fairly chokka with planes, but I wasn’t expecting… this:

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Four oceans and seven seas in 2018.

My friends and I have a bit of a tradition that goes back years.

Each time we find ourselves at the seaside – or ocean side – we make sure we get in that sea/ocean for a spot of bathing/paddling/swimming. But it’s not just seas and oceans; also a river or a lake… in fact, any body of water must be entered and our bodies fully submerged in.

A stream? In we go! Waterfalls – under we go! A hole in the ice? In we go! Natural – preferably hot – springs? In! (The only bodies of water we refrain from entering are the bubbling-volcanic-sulfuric ones which are extremely harmful to human health.) The best natural bathing places are even entered into a hit-parade (part one; part two). And because the bodies of water can be literally anywhere around the world, there’s no real start or end of the bathing season for us globetrotting H₂O lovers.

For example, we once found ourselves in the New Zealand seaside town of Raglan on New Year’s Eve. After seeing in the New Year (based on local time) we went for a night-dip in the local river, which flows into the Tasman Sea. But New Year was still several hours off back in Moscow. So whether that night-swim signaled the start or the end of the bathing season for us is far from clear.

Fast-forward to this year, however, and things seem a lot clearer cut: looking over my travel itinerary up until the end of the year, it looks like I’ve already ended the bathing season for 2018. ‘Eh? But it’s only October!’ Indeed, but all my appointments are in places where there’s no sea or ocean lakes, or whatever. Oh well. Still, I ended the season with a real bang splash…

At the weekend I was in Dubai, having joined the family there (they’d been there a week already (school holidays and all)). The air temperature hovered around 30°C in the shade, and the sea temperature was about the same too (though it felt cooler)!

Dubai is an undeniably unique place, having risen up out of the desert literally from nothing. It’s what you get when you have plentiful resources and wise management. I’ve written and length about the place before, so I won’t duplicate things here. But though I’ve already hundreds of photos of Dubai and I really don’t need any more, I find I still can’t resist taking a few extra each visit:

Read on…