Tag Archives: on the road again

All you wanted to know about Liechtenstein. Well, almost.

Last week, I was in the unusual out-of-the-ordinary European country called Liechtenstein. It’s a tiny nation state – and also a super-successful one. It has a population of just ~40,000, while the working population is… also around 40,000! How that works out is by ~51% of the working population commuting daily from Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Goodness!

Here’s the view from my room. Behind the hotel – the Alps (along the border with Austria); while these mountains in the photo are the Swiss Alps:

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What’s the story – morning glory?!

There’s an extraordinary, rather rare, optical phenomenon that goes by the name of a glory, called so no doubt because of its resemblance to a halo. It’s caused by the shadow of an airplane (or some other object) on some clouds, which shadow becomes encircled by rainbow-esque rings – almost like a rainbow that’s perfectly round (which, actually, does occur, but only in very rare circumstances), but this isn’t a full-circle rainbow, it’s a glory. Confused yet?!

Curiously, the airplane’s shadow in the middle can disappear, leaving just the glory. You can get to see such an effect from a plane (if you’re lucky) coming in to land in cloudy weather if you sit at a window that’s not facing the sun. Which is where we were sitting; and this glory showed itself upon the dense cloud cover below us. I hadn’t seen this mysterious optical phenomenon at such a height for ages. This one was probably due to the air being relatively clean and fresh =>

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  • Japan
  • Japan
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  • Japan

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My 2020 review: despite the pandemic, we still came through!

First, a toast!

Here’s to… successful adaptation throughout last year, and to everyone having… a good sense of smell this year! Hurray!

Sure, the New Year celebrations were weeks ago. But there’s still my traditional yearly review to complete! Well here it is finally – better late than never. And the first thing I can say about it is that the volume of my activities was way down below what it normally is; example: I took a mere 36 flights throughout the year! I haven’t had such a modest total since 2006!

Despite the meager results in terms of numbers of trips, there’s still quite a bit for me to tell you and show you. I added a few long-anticipated +1s to my Top-100 Must-See List, and returned to some of the more marvelous places on earth where I’ve been before; for example: the Altai Mountains – for a totally fantastic summer expedition-vacation. It was so fantastic I want to go back yet again! ->

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Two days in Berlin, twenty hours in Doha.

Goodness me. The only thing being talked about, written about – worried about – of late is… I don’t even have to name it it’s so obvious to everyone except cave-dwellers…

Sure, seasonal viruses are commonplace, but this one sure looks anything but commonplace-or-garden. This ain’t just a kind of flu. But this also ain’t something so pandemically awful as the Spanish flu or the 1968 flu outbreak. I wonder – would today’s medicine have been able to nip those two in the bud early? Well here’s hoping today’s medicine will do so for today’s coronavirus. Btw, curiously, outbreaks like these occur almost exactly every 50 years. Spanish flu – 1918; then there was the 1968 outbreak; now – just over 100 and 50 years later, respectively – corona. Spooky coincidences.

As the world enters panic mode, with quarantines, economic downturns disasters, cruise ship passengers locked-down, frenzied bulk-buying, face-masks, gloves and hazmats… what’s to be done? Get to work, I say. But extremely responsibly: social distancing, working remotely if possible, checking your health regularly, and reporting to the doctors if you suspect anything wrong. Exactly what I’m doing at the moment. But before things got really bad I had a very long business trip. Thus, as per, it was: suitcase > airport > takeoff > …Berlin!

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Corona cancellations, plus my 100th country – Angola!

As you’ll know perfectly well, I love to travel. Far. More often than not I travel for work, but two or three times a year it’s for R&R and tourism. Anyway, toward the end of any year, normally I’ve totted up more than a hundred flights throughout the year or, if not, am not far off. I long ago became accustomed to living like… a rock star on a world stadium tour (the traveling bits, not the rock ‘n’ rolling excess:), or… George Clooney in that film where all he seems to do is live onboard planes up in the air. For me, ‘on tour’ is all about conferences, exhibitions, business meetings, new acquaintances, exchanging ideas, discussions – and all in different towns and cities and countries across the world. In-between there are of course the airports with their inevitable passport controls, security checks, lines, all of which I fairly hate (and you don’t get fast-track lanes everywhere on the planet). Once on the plane I don’t mind it at all: an ideal time for catching up on reading or viewing or emailing. But I digress…

Now, normally come almost-April, I have at least 25 flights under my belt so far in any particular year. But this year, I’ve a mere 17. Which is rather surprising given that I’d gotten in a full nine flights just in January on just one vacation – our Africa-2020 jaunt. So I wanted to get to the bottom of this – why the slow start? After all, this nasty coronavirus can’t have been the reason – its impinging on everyone’s travel plans has only just fully kicked in…

It turns out that, actually, I have been becoming less and less active during the early months of a year. Here’s how…

First: I’ve stopped going to Davos. I used to go every year (since 2012), but no more. Why? Well, it used to be the World Economic Forum. Then, somewhere around 2016–2018, it turned into the World Geopolitical Forum. In a word: cancel. Shame though. It was a rather useful get-together (maybe I should reconsider? I just don’t know).

Second: I’ve stopped going to the yearly winter Munich Security Conference. Sure, it’s a very cool, elite event. But besides useful meetings and acquaintances… there’s a rotten feeling one gets while there. Alas, like with Davos, the inroads politics has made are just too much to bear. Nah. Nyet, spasibo. Not off there again.

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Poles, meridians, tropics, circles – a brief digression.

What with our crossing – on foot – the Tropic of Capricorn in Namibia, which I told you about in yesterday’s post, I got to thinking about the two very important geographical points, seven lines, a pair of meridians, and five parallels that adorn our globe – in all, nine objects:

– The North Pole;
– the South Pole;
– the Greenwich meridian;
– the 180th meridian;
– the equator;
– the Arctic Circle;
– the Tropic of Cancer;
– the Tropic of Capricorn; and
– the Antarctic Circle.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been at both the Poles and I’ve crossed all the meridians and parallels plenty times (mostly not noticing – high up in a plane). But it’s alas only seldom I’ve walked across, along, and photographed these geographical objects like I did recently with the Tropic of Capricorn. Still, let me go over what I have ticked off, and what remains still in my to-do list…

I. The North Pole: been.

All my tales from the northernmost side point are here. Specifically, a highlight for me – taking a dip in a hole cut in the polar ice (at the Barneo ice base) – here!

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I have a bit of a tradition that goes back years. Each time I find myself at the seaside I make sure to get in that sea for a spot of swimming :) It's both healthy living and curiosity. Looking back at 2018 it turns out to be an absolutely fantastic year in terms of year-round bathing for me! The spots across four oceans and seven seas include: North Pole, Caribbean, Sea of Okhotsk, Fiji and Faroe Islands. У нас с друзьями есть давняя традиция. Каждый раз, когда по дороге возникает море или даже океан – мы обязательно должны там искупаться. Хорошая река, красивое озеро, любая подобная достойная купания водная стихия должна быть опробована с полным погружением тела. Считайте это одновременно проявлением ЗОЖ и врождённым любопытством :) Давече оглянулся на 2018й год и понял, что получился весьма разнообразный список. Многочисленные (в том числе экзотические) места купальной славы включают: Северный полюс, Карибское море, Охотское море, Фиджи и даже Фарерские острова. Всего 4 океана и семь морей. Ура!

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And btw: in good weather, the North Pole looks like this:

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The extraordinary things I’ve done and seen – in the year of the Lord of twenty-nineteen!

Hi folks, and – belatedly – Happy New Year!

Trust you all had happy, jolly, merry holidays. I sure did!…

All righty. Let’s get on… by looking back.

So, as per usual on these here blogpages of mine around this time of year, herewith, my round-up of last year: a summary of the facts and figures and countries and flights and tourisms and volcanoes and excursions and monasteries and walkabouts and treks and all the rest; woah – already for the sixth time (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)!

But… why?

Well, over-self-indulgence plays a part, for sure (especially when it comes to things like my total number of flights and other stats:). However, I’m lucky enough to travel to and experience a lot of highly interesting places/stuff, which I’m fairly certain will be of interest to some of you, dear readers. And you might not have read every post of the year (there are a lot of them). Accordingly, surely, a pint-sized review of the ‘greatest hits’ of the year (including ringing in the New Year in the Ecuadorian mountains in a hot-spring swimming-pool some 3600 meters above sea level!) will be worth something? I hope so, anyway. OK, so – ~rationale out the way, let’s get on with this…

The just-mentioned hot springs in Ecuador:

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The Yucatán tales: road trippin’ and accommodation.

To conclude my Yucatán tales, I’ll tell you a bit more about my time on the road and the day-to-day experiences. The roads are actually not bad here, especially the highways heading south from Cancún along the coast and those heading west across the entire peninsula. The north Yucatán route is pretty good, with an excellent toll road (and not that expensive) with almost no exit ramps. There’s also practically no traffic and no filling stations :) The road heading south along the east coast is not bad either, but we hit a few traffic jams along the way. On the upside, it’s free, the road surface is smooth and there are lots of signs, so there’s little chance of getting lost:

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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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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.

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