Archive for the 'Pacific' Category

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In the Summer Of 1993 when Perestroika was in full bloom , with Russia and the United States in full economic cooperation, most attention was focused on the traditional Moscow St. Petersburg realm, with some forays into oil-rich ,newly independent Kazakhstan.

The above video, “Russia’s Wild East “ focuses on business opportunities in the Russian Far East. Alaska Airlines was the bridge for US investors and explorer to travel there. At the time, Russia, emerging from the breakup of the Soviet Union needed to make an immediate move into a market economy . Americans were there to help. The Peace Corps , normally sending young people to Africa, recruited older ,experienced businesspeople as advisors to Russian companies. We interview some of them here, along with younger entrepreneurs , lawyers and other pioneers. We even visit the nascent Vladivostok Stock Exchange.

The video, produced in the analog age, was formatted for television, so there is a few seconds of black before the program starts .

Pipes carry hot water from the hot water plant to apartment blocks. A true vestige of Central Planning.

11 time zones to the East – the diplomatically long frozen Bering Strait crossing had thawed. Alaska Airlines began twice weekly flights to Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Yakutsk, with first stops in Magadan.

In 1993 Digital Maps On Seatbacks Did Not Exist.

The focus of the trip was to explore the Russian Far East for cross strait opportunities for American business who were opening up the market economy on Russia. Rehabilitating old Soviet companies and factories, bringing in new products and services for sale and train the former communists in the nuances of a market -for-profit economy.  In addition, we were to discover the incredible natural wonderland, especially in Kamchatka.

My coproducer Yuriko Gamo and I met in Seattle. She flew in from San Francisco and I from New York. We spent a day there interviewing the Alaska Airlines marketing team at their headquarters. It was a big investment for them to open up the Russian Far East. We then boarded our four-hour flight up to Anchorage. Alaska Airlines paid for our flights from Seattle to Anchorage and on to Vladivostok round trip. In Russia we took two internal flights on Aeroflot on its ancient Soviet fleet.

We landed at 10 PM on a sunny Alaska night in early July. It never got completely dark there, some twilight around 2 AM. We had 2 days until our Russia departure so went down to Homer where we swam in the far North Pacific and visited villages where Russian was still spoken from times before “Seward’s Folly.
 

At 1 PM on Saturday July 10th We departed ANC for a beautiful flight, first seeing Mt.McKinley in the distance, then swampy Tundra. The Bering sea, Chukotka, in Russia and then leading at the Arctic port of Magadan. On landing, our pilot said welcome to Magadan Russia – where it is 1 PM – tomorrow. While we had a 4-hour flight, with a four-hour time change backwards, we crossed the International Date Line. It was 1 PM Sunday, July 11. In Magadan we entered a primitive Soviet cinderblock terminal to have our visa booklets and passports stamped – then back on the plane to Vladivostok – 4 hours to the south.

Arriving in Vladivostok , my co-producer and I were greeted by Dimitry Motovilov. We stayed at his sunny, comfortable apartment in a pleasant Soviet flatblock. He was our guide for our several days there .

A journalist by background he went on to teach journalism at the local university and is currently the Media Assistant of the US Consulate in Vladivostok.

The US Consulate ( not pictured above) was invaluable in setting up the Peace Corps program, and along with Dmitry, set up interviews with businesspeople, factory supervisors, shipyard owners, and the stock exchange. They are the go-to for American businesses in the region, including the US oil companies drilling in Sakhalin. In an uninformed ,shortsighted move, outgoing Secretary of State Pompeo temporarily ceased operations at the Consulate. It is hoped that newly appointed Secretary of State Blinken can quickly restore the very important American outpost – rather than having to rely on Moscow embassy ,6000 miles away.

Eastern Terminus Of The Trans-Siberian Railroad – 6000 Miles From Moscow.
Family On Tram
Vegetable Shop – “Produce”
On The Funicular

From Vladivostok station we took an overnight train ride on the Trans Siberian to Khabarovsk. A sleeper compartment was about 1000 rubles – $ 5.

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Khabarovsk is the main gateway to Northeast China. Chinese markets sprang up all over the outskirts of the city for Russians to buy much needed consumer goods. The main currency in the markets was dollars- not rubles or yuan.

In The Office Board Room
Factory Propaganda
Work Together Hammer & Sicklle

We visited ancient, dusty factories to try to determine how they could be converted to a modern day business model. Please view the video “Russia’s Wild East ” above.

Happy For Not Having A Communist Future
Stalinist Country Housing
Enjoying A Warm Summer Afternoon. Born Around The Time OF The Revolution Or Before, These Women Endured Incredible Hardship In Their Lifetimes .
Along The Amur River – Manchuria In The Distance.
Market Trader From Across The Border
Здравствуйте ? It’s 1939 Calling.

In our rare calls to the US we did not use this phone. We had to speak on satellite pay phones at $ 12 a minute. Needless to say , we did not engage in idle chat about the weather.

The Khabarovsk weather by the way, was beautiful – hot and dry, nearly 100 degrees along the Amur River, a nice contrast to cool foggy Vladivostok. Khabarovsk, on the edge of Siberia sees -50 in winter.

Socialist Workers Paradise

From Khabarovsk, we flew on an ancient Aeroflot TU-34 to Petropavlovsk, only city on the California sized Kamchatka Peninsula. Kamchatka is the most volcanically active area in the world, with 16 active volcanoes.

Geothermal Plant – Providing Unlimited Heat & Hot Water To Petropavlovsk
In The Caldera, Sulphur Fumes On The Ring of Fire

We drove the full 80 miles on Kamchatka’s only road to a geothermal plant high in the mountains. We slept in dormitories there. After a long hike to the volcanoes, it was great to have a hot shower from the unlimited supply of hot water pumped up from the earth. One could take a shower lasting millions of years and the hot water would never run out.

Volcanoes Everywhere
Holkam
Hot Gases From Inside Planet Earth

Kamchatka is one of the most adventurous and hard to get to places in the world. This coming summer of 2021 , Yakutia Air plans to start weekly (return ) flights from Anchorage to Petropavlovsk. TotalAdventure welcomes Kamchatka providers to upload trips immediately. We welcome providers from all over the Russian Far East and Siberia.

Soviet Rubles In Volcanic Sand. Almost Worthless.
World’s Tallest Lenin Statue – Petropavlovsk.
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Vietnam Voyage Is A 23 minute excursion from Saigon to DaNang  by air, from DaNang to Hue by train and then from Hue to Hanoi by air. TotalAdventure explores the main sites of the 4 historic cities with culinary adventures ,such as cobra snake in Hanoi.

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In Part 2 of our USA series, TotalAdventure explores Southern California, though we did foray for a short while into Mexico.

 

A younger member of the TotalAdventure Team will be starting college in 2019 and had come West to explore some college campuses in Southern California. Spectacular beaches are always nearby. Pictured above is Swami’s  – a world famous surf break in Encinitas.

In the High Desert of the Mojave Desert – Joshua Tree National Park.

Somewhere East of Indio – I-10.

Korean Dinner in Koreatown – Los Angeles.Kimchi, Pork and Beef, Along With Soju – a Korean Firewater.

Black Pacific Pelicans, Soon Learning To Fly.

The Lazy Can Now Be Lazier – LOL.

CA 94 runs along the southern border of California. Note the border fence about 3/4 the way up the mountain. Now imagine installing a 25 foot high cement wall to replace it. Many geographically challenged people in favor of the wall  think that the border is a flat desert for 2000 miles. Not the case. The mountains are much higher in New Mexico and West Texas. Note the power lines crossing the border as much of the Southwest USA and Northwest Mexico share a power grid.

Running parallel to 1-10 and 1-8 on the other side of the border is Highway 2, rolling 3400 km from Tijuana to Matamoros.

 

USC Film School – in Los Angeles – Modeled after Paramount Studios.

A California Cultural and Culinary Icon.

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On Friday , September 16 we boarded the 6:45 Coastal Classic Train at the Anchorage train station. The three hour jouney follows the coastline south of Anchorage, with occasional sightings of Beluga whales out the window ! The train then traverses the mountains of Chugach National Forest before arriving at Seward. At Seward it was a short walk to the dock.

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We boarded the Coastal Explorer , a sturdy sightseeing craft operated by Kenai Fjords Tours. For the next six hours we explored the northernmost points of the Pacific Ocean, at 60 Degrees North.

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Looks like Hawaii, but with snow. Last winter’s snow still on upper slopes with new snow starting soon.

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American Bald Eagle in Seward Harbor.

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Otter playing and hunting for fish.

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Seals relaxing on a warm ( for them ) 40 degree day.

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Blue ice from Glacier to Ocean.

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Incredible Oceanic Geology.

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Glacial Closeup.

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Fishing village near Seward.

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On February 15th ArcticTropic rented a car – a Holden Barina and headed south to Jervis Bay, about 250 km from the city. Once beyond the metro areas, Australia is a beautiful and nearly empty land. Kangaroos are a common part of the landscape and while looking friendly they can give intruders quite a stomping.

Prince’s Highway stretches 1250 km from Sydney to Melbourne.

Beautiful beachfront property near Jervis Bay Territory. No hurricanes in this part of the world.

Isolated beaches everywhere.

In the Snowy Mountains ( where is snows from June to September ) near Mt. Kosciuszko, highest mountain in Australia. The Eucalyptus forest smells wonderful.

Crossing from New South Wales into Victoria State.

Kangaroo – It’s What’s For Dinner. Very healthy lean meat. Delicious too !

 

For Adventures in Austalia, CLICK HERE

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The legendary Bondi Icebergs Pool, over 80 years old, is carved into rocks by the roaring South Pacific. At 50 meters long, ArcticTropic recuperated from the 15.5 hour flight in United’s tiny seats with a 40 lap – 2 km swim. Upload speeds here in Australia have been rather slow, but more videos are coming soon.

 

For adventures in Australia, CLICK HERE

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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.

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On October 9th ArcticTropic awoke on the shores of the Pacific, swam, then drove 3 hours to the Caribbean ( Atlantic ) and swam there. Actually the drive is 45 minutes along the highway near the Canal, and 28 minutes to see both. However the beaches near the canal are not swimmable.

 

For adventures in Panama, CLICK HERE

Oct 8th
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Today ArcticTropic accompanied the delegation from Enterprise Florida on a tour of the Panama Canal. The Canal, which just celebrated its’ 100th Anniversary is undergoing a major expansion -PANAMAX – which will triple capacity and allow much larger container ships to traverse between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Ships enter from the Atlantic ( Caribbean ) side at Colon.

PANAMAX construction. Estimated to be finished by late 2015.

Gatun Lake. The total route is 50 miles ( 80 km ) and takes 8 to 10 hours. Only 32 ships a day can pass through – 16 from either side. Reservations are required 547 days in advance, but expedited service is available.

Entering Miraflores Locks.

Clearance of the ;Miraflores completed, the ship sails into the Pacific, about 5 miles away, then on to China.

 

For adventures in Panama, CLICK HERE