Tag Archives: on the road again

(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!…

Flickr photostream

Instagram photostream

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…

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog

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:

Read on…

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…

Stairway to heaven.

Hi folks!

If you recall, in August I returned from Kamchatka with a broken leg. The fracture was a real pain in the… leg, since I was in plaster for six weeks. But finally, they removed said plaster; hurray!

I’d been advised by the doctor so take it easy with my mended leg – to build up the muscle and strengthen the bone steadily by getting plenty of easy exercise done – especially walking. Well, if it’s walking the doctor ordered, walking it’ll be. So off I (flew and) walked…

To warm up I headed first to Germany – for some steady-paced walking around a museum. The next day I upped the tempo at Oktoberfest. After that came strolling around Rome and another exhibition, followed by more walking (and lots of standing and crouching and leaning over!) on Santorini, Greece.

Despite my efforts, the leg still wasn’t fully recovered: I found I still needed my crutches. So what was I to do? Then I remembered what the doc said: in addition to just plain walking I should add walking up and down stairs. So it was time to stop taking the elevator, and generally to seek out stairs for my rehabilitation exercises. But much better would be steps not up a hotel or office building but up, say, a mountainside surrounded by natural beauty; there’d also be the bonuses of fresh air, pleasant aromas, a contemplative atmosphere and birds merrily singing – if I chose my mountainside carefully. So it was time to choose a mountainside carefully…

Turned out it was mountainsides – plural, which were opted for. I’ll be telling you where they were and details of our walks up and down them in upcoming posts. For now though I just want to give you some pics of what turned out to be an ‘exotic stairway experience’!

Now, I love paths. But I think I prefer steps, as then there are normally mountains involved, which I love too. But here, well, it’s a veritable ‘stairway to heaven’. Just look at these pics! Oh my gradient!

So it was up and down, up and down, up and across, and more up and down for us for days – perfect rehabilitation exercise. And the views – the pics speak for themselves.

Many of the stairways were deceptive – you’d think you were reaching the top, when they turn a corner and there above you opens up another zillion steps! Most of the time the steps were of the appropriate heights and depths, but sometimes they were really low and short, with your foot not being able to fit fully thereupon. On these we sometimes had to get on all fours so as to avoid losing our footing.

In all we were here for 10 days, and some of our smartphones reckoned we’d trekked more than 100 kilometers, and ascended and descended around 5000 meters (along the vertical) while doing so (that’s 300-600 meters up and down per day!).

So we had ourselves some excellent exotic and adventurous active tourism, as you’ll guess from the pics. Oh, and my leg? It’s almost fully recuperated already – doesn’t ache, and I’m walking now practically limp-less. And the crutches? Launched! Hurray!

All righty. Pics time. The steps and stairs:

Read on…

Snow and Yas.

There’s a Kamchatkan saying that goes something like: ‘If snow falls in June, then spring will be long and drawn-out’. Well it’s not quite June yet, but Moscow weather right up until last week sure did seem to resemble Kamchatka’s extreme climate…

The ducks have already arrived at the reservoir next to the KL office. They’re circling up above it, peering down at the water (still!) completely covered over in ice, thinking ‘EH?!’!!

Read on…

31 hours door-to-door.

Hi folks!

Another month – another globe trot…

The suitcase is packed – and probably right now already in the hold of the plane I’m about to board. Physical preparation – check; moral preparation – check; books packed into hand luggage – check (two in fact). All righty. All set. Off we pop on another multi-long-haul. Get ready – it’s gonna be a long one…

It starts out in Tetiaroa, an atoll of French Polynesia in the Pacific. It ends in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. I wonder how many hours this is going to take door to door?…

April 2, 09:30 local time (22:30 Moscow Time): we say goodbye to paradise:

Read on…

A word about jetlag.

Herewith, a few words on the experience known as jetlag, which I am often asked about, and of which I have plenty of experience.

First. When asked if I suffer from jetlag, I sometimes answer no: I travel around the world too fast for it to catch up with me. Alas, that’s a bit of a benign porky pie. Of course I suffer from jetlag – just like everyone else (to differing degrees). However, according to my long-running observations of this phenomenon, I’ve learned how to endure it a little easier than most. As a wise man once said, you can get used to anything – especially if it happens a lot. Well, my decade-plus of practically non-stop globetrotting – that’s a lot of jetlag. I’ve just gotten used to it, I think. And these days my body and mind have no trouble at all getting over any degree of jetlag in just one or two days.

Second. Despite my oft-uttered little white lies, the worst kind of jetlag is in fact the one that can’t catch you up. Wait. Or is it the other way round – you can’t keep up with real time? What I mean is, when you continent-hop non-stop for weeks, spending just two or three days in each place, your body clock gets just completely out of whack as it has no idea whatsoever whether it’s day or night, morning or evening, whether it’s time for breakfast or supper, and on and on.

For example: Sydney – Cyprus – Tokyo – Paris (a segment of a world tour that springs to mind if we’re talking extreme jetlag disorientation). One’s circadian rhythm gets so confused that when you do manage to get some shut-eye (whenever that may be), it’s never a deep sleep, and so when awake one’s eye’s blink out of sync. It’s like – your sleep is only 70% effective, so your waking hours are only 70% effective. That can’t be too healthy. Not recommended!

Another tough scenario: flights east (and this has been scientifically proven. Worst of all: a flight taking you +9 time zones around the world. Like New York – Moscow, or Moscow – Kamchatka. Or my recent Budapest – Melbourne. You sleep poorly on the night flight, you arrive in the morning with a full day’s business ahead of you, and all you want to do is hit the sack for a full night’s kip!

This time though it was a day flight. We arrived in Melbourne (via Dubai) at 10pm local time after flying 13 hours, around six of which I slept, which is more than sufficient. But time for bed again! No worries though – that’s sure doable. A couple of melatonins (must-haves for any frequent long-haul flyer) and I was out like a light again at 2am local time (4pm body-clock time, set in Hungary). Then, at 6am (10pm body-clock time) we were up and at ’em like troopers, zero jetlag!

Plus there’s a bonus getting up so early in Oz:

Note to self: more day-flights – especially when flying east – than red-eyes.

Now, where was I. Oh yes…

Third. The best jetlag, if there ever can be such a thing, is that that comes with flying west: say, the same nine hours but going back in time. What you get is simply a very long day, at the end of which you fall into a coma-resembling deep sleep. You find yourself waking up at four or five in the morning local time, fully refreshed and back at ’em!

PS: Two or three hours’ time difference between Western and Eastern Europe? Please. That’s not jetlag. That’s… a blip, nothing more :). Feeling a bit funny mood-wise? It’s not due to the time change; it’s something else. My prescription for phantom jetlag? Get to Kamchatka or Indonesia, where you set off up volcano treks literally in the middle of the night. That should cure any blypo-chondria!

All righty, my extra early-morning energy here in Melbourne duly expended on this here post during the extra few hours to kill before the business world wakes up in Australia, here we go again – for the third time in this post, back at ’em!…