Archive for the 'Islands' Category

Jan 21st
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On August 3rd I drove 400 miles from Couer d’Alene Idaho to Portland, Oregon, transversing eastern Washington State ,then along the Columbia river as the desert emerges into green forest. Portland is home to my Son, his Fiancée and soon, my Grandson.

Crater Lake National Park

I stayed in beautiful downtown Portland in an AirBnb very close to my son’s. The Rose City was on war footing as nightly street battles erupted between extreme left and extreme right factions along with police and federal agents.

The Apple Store destroyed, with the senseless destruction uploaded via Apple devices. However Fox News dogwhistles on “Antifa ” were largely to spread panic and give undercover law enforcement free rein . TotalAdventure does best to stay neutral in these extremist political times. We are about bringing the world together, not ripping it apart.

Burned and Bashed – The Federal Courthouse.

Hawthorne Bridge Over the Williamette River.
Portland – The Rose City

In a three week break from the road ( TotalAdventure and family business) we managed to take beautiful trips within the state.

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake was created in one day 7000 years ago when the mountain blew its’ top. Thousands of years of precipitation, mainly melted snow, have filled the crater with water almost 2000 feet deep. There is one swimming area, reachable by a path that descends 800 feet from the rim.. . See the video where we jump off a 35 foot cliff.

Pirate Ship Island

Portland is two hours from the Pacific Ocean. The X2 had finally made it coast to coast !

Tillamook

In Portland it was 96 degrees, in Tillamook the air was 74 and the ocean ,an icy low 50s. If TotalAdventure is unable to swim, that means the water is only swimmable in a wetsuit.

X2 By The Pacific.

In Montana the X2 had reached 10000 miles, at the tender age of 3 months on the road. In Portland BMW performed the first free maintenance and took care of a few very minor repairs, as well changing oil.

On August 19th, it was time to explore California !

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On July 2 at 7 AM we left our host’s house in Bodrum to board a catamaran ferry to the Greek island of Kos, only 20 km across the channel. We looked back at  beautiful vibrant  Turkey, hoping  to return in the near future – to explore from Istanbul to the eastern provinces.

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We arrived in port 20 minutes later. We spent nearly 40 minutes to get passports stamped, as we were re-entering the EU and Shengen. Afterwards a 50 km taxi ride to Kefalos .

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In Kefalos , we found a beachside Taverna where we ate excellent grilled squid, stored our stuff and went snorkeling.

The water was as clear as an aquarium.

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There were ruins right by the sea !

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Soon it was time to leave for the airport. We took a turboprop to Athens, flying over hundreds of Aegean Islands. In Athens – once again passport control , as we were leaving Schengen. 4 hours later – another 1.5 hours in customs entering the UK.

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Just before midnight we arrived at our hotel, after a long Tube ride. We were right by the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.

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Our final day before returning Stateside was a whirlwind tour of some of the major sights.

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Iconic, but we opted for Indian instead.

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GMT + 1. The Trans European Adventure comes to an end.       7pp15pp9pp   6pp

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2014 was an incredible travel year for ArcticTropic. We explored Myanmar ( Burma), European Russia,Siberia,Mongolia,China,Japan,British Colombia,Canada,Singapore,Philippines and Panama. Here’s 184 clips in 11 minutes. This version is natural sound,a musical version will be uploaded soon.

Jun 13th
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Deep in the Heart of Siberia, Lake Baikal is one of the most pristine regions in the world. The 636 km long lake holds 20% of the world’s fresh water that is not permanently frozen. ArcticTropic only got to explore a small portion ,as it was early in the season and the full boat network is not yet operational.

From Irkutsk we took a two hour hydrofoil ride down the Angara River into Lake Baikal to the tiny village of Bolshie Koty.

Bolshie Koty has no roads, except an Ice road for a few months in the winter. There are only two or three operational motor vehicles in the village.

On this early June day, heavy snow had fallen on the mountains across the lake ,which had iced out only two weeks before. Swimming would only be possible after a hot banya.

Naturalists from around the world are working to create a hiking trail going around the whole lake.

Bolshie Koty began as a gold rush town int he 1850s. There was not much gold and today it is a place to escape the cares of the world.

Unless you bring your own food , you will likely be eating Omul soup. Omul is a great tasting fish,related to salmon.

ArcticTropic searches far and wide for untouched spots on the globe and Lake Baikal is certainly one of them. The cold climate and remote Siberian location ensures there will never be casinos and fancy marinas here.

 

For adventures in Russia, CLICK HERE

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ArcticTropic recently came across a cache of slides from 1988 and scanned them. South Thailand is now Asia’s jetset playground , but 25 years ago was still a sleepy paradise. However fishing boats still bring in fresh ingredients for delicious seafood curry.

Ko Phi Phi Lae, the uninhabited Phi Phi islet,great for diving.

Beach on Ko Phi Phi Don – the bungalows were 50 Baht ( US $ 2 ) per night. Electricity was available from a generator for a couple hours each night, just enough to recharge my video camera batteries. When I returned in 1995, the same beach had been paved over with a multistory modern hotel – which was in turn swept away by the 2004 Tsunami. Apparently everything has been rebuilt since then.

A winding road though the limestone mountains near Krabi. Southern Burma is just now opening up to the outside world and will offer scenes similar to these.

Fisherman with the morning’s catch.

Lord Buddha gazes into the jungle.

 

FOR ADVENTURES IN THAI LAND, CLICK HERE

Mar 6th
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Venezuela will be in the news a lot over the foreseeable future, as the geopolitical power player decides its’ new direction. Caracas is only 2 hours from Miami. There used to be 15 very cheap flights every day, but with political tensions, the flights became few and expensive. ArcticTropic last visited there in late 2003,several years before the site launched. Above is the aerial approach to the Littoral – the incredible Caribbean coastline.

Even the common people have an ocean view.

We stayed at the Circulo Militar – a military hotel on an officer’s base. Upon entry I saw Comrade Hugo himself !

A 45 minute flight from CCS to Margarita Island brings one to the cheapest island in the Caribbean. One resort is $ 50 a day – including a nice room, beach,tennis,windsurfing,unlimited food ( lots of meat and fish ) and unlimited Venezuelan Rum and Beer.

A lonely lighthouse on the empty island.

Margarita Island has a total desert climate, so it has the most sunshine in the Caribbean – 350 days a year.

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An ideal sailing trip to visit all the Atlantic Islands would take about 12 to 18 months, leaving Iceland in the late spring ,witha first stop in the Azores. By the beginning of the Antarctic summer, the boat would be in the far South Atlantic , visting Tristan da Cunha,South Georgia and the Malvinas ( known as the Falklands by the British), before turning back north to visit the Brazilian islands, on to Bermuda, St. Pierre and back to Iceland.

Mar 7th
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A word from a sponsor …………

All Points East has been offering exciting small group and family adventure holidays to South East Asia for over 10 years.  Whilst we recognise there are ‘must see places,’ we also realise that the modern day traveller has a desire to uncover each country’s best kept secrets – off the beaten track.

With exciting itineraries to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Yunnan, Malaysia, Borneo and Sri Lanka, All Points East has a proven philosophy – to provide small group tours that ensure genuine interaction with local people.

Winners of the 2010 Tourism Authority of Thailand Green Award, we have a commitment to local communities and to ensuring that our tours have respect for the people and places we visit.

As much as possible we stay in smaller, locally run hotels and guest houses, eat in local restaurants and use local style transport.  Guides and agencies used are considered friends rather than business contacts.  In keeping with our commitment to the communities we visit, our group sizes are usually a maximum of 10, very occasionally 12.

If this style of travel is for you and you want to get to know the real South East Asia, we would love to show it to you.

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In 1988 the Phi Phi Islands in the Thailand’s Andaman Sea were an almost untouched paradise. I was lucky enough to visit, as a backpacker, before rampant development began in the 90’s.

The Bungalow Beach where I spent several days.

I began my journey from Krabi, a fishing port that did not yet have an airport or any hotel over two stars. About three hours later we arrived in Phi Phi. The largest structure on the island was a beautiful open-air mosque made of wood and palm fronds.

The village had no central electricity, though several bungalow settlements, the only accommodation available, ran generators from 6 to 10 PM. The bungalows were made of straw and wood.

Snorkeling the pristine reefs was amazing. Lazy lemon sharks mixed with millions of psychedelic fish and plants.

Nightlife was a trek to the village to gather around a roaring fire to eat fresh grilled fish washed down with Kloster beer, fresh from the ice pit. Later the traveler’s tales would begin, fueled by the passing around  of some Mekong Whiskey.

When I returned in 1995, the environment had been destroyed by greedy developers. An ugly concrete hotel stood where the mosque had been. The coral walls around the swimming pool had been dynamited from the reefs. The water was cloudy and devoid of fish. Jet skis drowned out the sound of the wind and swaying palms.

The 2004 tidal wave temporarily returned Phi Phi to its original look, but apparently the developers have returned with a vengeance.

Buddha in Krabi.

Krabi Beaches.

One must now go further and further in Thailand to find Paradise. However, nearby Burma offers thousands of untouched Andaman Islands. ArcticTropic will research those islands and report shortly. If anyone is headed there soon, please let us know.

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The Philippines offer extreme adventure and incredible vistas . The island nation is easily accessible from Hong Kong for shorter getaways and is well worth the trip from Europe and North America for longer expeditions.  Above is a volcanic lake not far from Mt.Pinatubo.

Palawan, Northeast of Borneo in the South China Sea is excellent for mountaineering and diving . The Coral Reefs are pristine and mostly undisturbed.

ArcticTropic will be adding several new providers in the Philippines today. Reminder to current providers : Keep your websites up to date, or you lose your opportunity to reach our adventurers !