Overwater Sulawesi

Since I had to change my plans due to the evacuation of my resort in Bali I had finally decided to just fly directly to Manado in North Sulawesi and spend one week on the mainland before ‚going home‘ to my usual resort in Lembeh. Below you will find some overwater pics from both resorts. As you can see the rainy season had already started. Usually it was just a downpour though and after half an hour it was dry again. Sometimes the sun was back then, sometimes it wasn’t.

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Singapore day 3

Sorry, I know I am late but once I was back ‚home‘ in Sulawesi I became rather lazy… I had intended to get a massage and go on a tour – but it was all too much work. I did two dives in the morning and in the afternoon I just relaxed… so now here is the final day of Singapore. I left my hotel to a rather hot day and walked towards the Marina Bay Sands in order to visit the Gardens by the Bay. It was interesting there but at some point my body was protesting. Walking too much and just too hot. So I returned to my hotel to get some rest. Went back to the Circular Quai in the evening to eat something. Here are the pics from day 3….

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Singapore day 2

Yeah, I know… I am late. But after arriving in Sulawesi I went in total relax mode. I realized only yesterday that I hadn’t even remembered that I have a company phone with me… good sign I guess. 🙂

But let’s continue with Singapore. I started to walk around in the morning but it was so damn hot… after I had walked a bit through the Fort Channing Park I tried to find a stop for the ‚Hop on Hop off‘- but while doing that a thunderstorm came in and I was blocked half an hour as I had left my umbrella in the hotel. So I finally gave up on trying to find the hop on-stop and went back towards my hotel. Had lunch in the food court of a shopping mall and then found a stop of the Hop On Hop Off. They have four lines in Singapore and I wanted to go to Little India… Unfortunately I went on the red bus but it was the yellow line which went in a totally different direction. Since it didn’t really matter I just stayed on the bus and toured Singapore a bit. Orchard Road where most of the shopping centers are had already put out christmas trees and christmas decoration… *eeeek* Went back to the bus stop afterwards and then took the other line only to find that the spot I had been looking for is not in Little India but in Chinatown. So I got off the bus and walked around Chinatown. It was so damn hot there… walked back to the hotel from there but relaxation was difficult because there was a major construction site next to the hotel that I had in front of my window. I switched the room but it was still not entirely separated from the construction site. When it started to get dark I walked over to Circular Quai to take pics in the dark and I can’t say that I was disappointed… 🙂 See for yourself…

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Singapore day 1

I started my trip yesterday with a funny encounter. When I boarded the train a nice young man asked if he could help me with the dive-bag. And then added ‚if someone is travelling with that … travel agency.‘ Since he obviously knew it (it is not in Cologne) we started to talk and it turned out that we have several common friends (not only in Cologne). Small world… 😀

Flight was uneventful but I didn’t sleep much although I was exhausted. After I arrived it took nearly one hour till my transport to the hotel was ready and then another hour till I could get into my room (which was generous as they let me into it at 10 AM which is really early). I wanted to sleep then but that was hard because in front of my room is a big construction site and they were very loud. In the end I used earpluggs. When I woke up 2 h later I went out for a short stroll which was not THAT short in the end. But I am close to a lot of the major sights so that was fine. At 6 PM I fell asleep again but only for one hour. I am trying to get into the rhythm now and keep jetlag to a minimum… 😉 Here are some pics from today. They are displayed in the wrong chronological order but that doesn’t really matter.

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Nearly time to go….

Oh well… time has come to pack my stuff again and leave… although this is not really what I had planned I am really looking forward to it. And I am in dire need of a vacation too as the past weeks in the office have not been easy. I am exhausted. One more day and I will be off… Can’t wait to be on the plane, drink a Singapore Sling and start to relax…

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Some news…

Yes, I know, Prague is still missing… the thing is that my mind was elsewhere over the past weeks. I am going to fly out to Indonesia soon and the first leg of the trip was supposed to be Bali. I had been looking forward to visiting Bali for nearly a year. But then two weeks ago a volcano started to rumble and has been threatening to erupt any minute ever since. The resort I had booked was evacuated and closed. So for the past weeks I didn’t really sleep, always thinking about what to do and waiting what was going to happen. Then this week I couldn’t stand it any more and I cancelled the Bali-part of my trip. I thought that since the resort is closed they would at least show a bit of goodwill towards the customers (who they can not accomodate anyway) but no… as much as I can understand that this is their life at stake I feel a bit ripped off. I know that this is not their fault but neither is it mine. So I am not happy that they made me pay a lot of money for services they are not even able to offer right now. I have learned from that and I have insurance for this kind of thing now (I didn’t know that coverage for natural hazards existed) because I DO have travel-insurance but it doesn’t cover something like this. Suffice to say that this resort will never be part of my travel plans ever again…

So instead I will stay in Singapore for a few days to do some geo-caching and take some night-pics. Maybe I will cross over to Malaysia for a half day tour… will see. Then I will fly on to Sulawesi where I will spend a week on the mainland before I head over to my ‚Lembeh-home‘ three days earlier than I had initially planned. I really do need a vacation now as the past weeks were not good for my health… Can’t wait to be back in Sulawesi… 🙂

EDIT: have to update the situation with the resort in Bali. There was an information that I didn’t know till yesterday: the resort in Bali had offered to postpone the entire vacation to next year so I wouldn’t loose any money. Unfortunately this is not an option with my financials right now. But I appreciate the offer. If I had had the money I would have taken them up on it. As it is I get a 50% of my paid vacation back and the rest is a credit for a vacation next year. So no ripping off. I just didn’t have all the information. 🙂

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Zurich

To continue with the pics of my city-trips Zurich is next. I hadn’t been there in two years so when I saw a flight for 90 Euro I just couldn’t resist. So it was an early saturday and an afternoon sunday flight. This time I went geo-caching a lot and was able to see some parts of Zurich that I had never been to. Here are some pics…

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Belfast

Well… after the underwater pics from last weekend I have to start catching up with my trips. First of all the ‚oldest‘ one: Belfast. I went there over Pentecost, flew over on Friday and came back on Monday. I flew to Dublin and took the bus to Belfast from there. This is easy – unless there is an accident on the highway which closes it entirely to traffic and you have a plane to catch… but since I somehow had a hunch that it would be a good idea to take a very early bus I still had plenty of time to reach my flight – others were less fortunate.

As a short resume of the trip I have to say that I immensely enjoyed my second trip to Ireland although the weather was really irish and I got soaked through to the underwear several times during my day trip to the Giant’s Causeway. But still – that is Ireland and I really like that country. Belfast was nice too and I enjoyed exploring the city. I don’t usually to the ‚hop on hop off‘-thing because you are wasting a lot of time waiting for the next bus. It was the best option for me though although I DID spend a lot of time waiting for the next bus. 😉 Although… at the Titanic Museum I spent a lot more time taking pics before the crowds came in. 🙂

Here are some impressions from the three days…

 

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Underwater photography macro workshop

Yeah, I know, I am way behind with updating this blog… my entries from Belfast in May, Zurich in July and Prague in August are missing. I promise they will come within the next days… but let’s start with some underwater pics. Last weekend I was in a lake not too far from Cologne for the ‚Critters im Rheinland‘ UW-macro workshop. It was really interesting, I had a great buddy for two of the three dives we did in the lake and I learned a lot about how to optimize my equipment. I am going to show some pics but note that I am not really happy with them. I have to adjust the focus-settings of my camera because the focus was mostly not where I thought it would be. While sometimes this makes for interesting effects I prefer that my camera does what I WANT it to do… here are some pics from that weekend.

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Zurich…

Oh sheesh, I haven’t posted any pics from my trip to Ireland over Pentecoste yet… sorry, but this will come. I have been so busy geo-caching over the past weeks that I didn’t really have a lot of time for anything else. Tomorrow I will go back to Zurich to do some geo-caching there too… 🙂 It will be interesting to be there without having to work. 😉

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Last day in Longyearbyen

When we got back to civilisation I had one more day left but due to the fact that had been sick for several days already I didn’t do that much. I went for a walk to find some more geocaches and I wanted to go back to the church as well as I had read that there was a polar bear inside. The first time I went up there I didn’t go inside and didn’t want to repeat that mistake. There actually IS a polar bear inside but the entire church is more like a big living room with coffee and cake waiting for visitors… so here are the last pics from the walk in Longyearbyen (there is a small village close to it that is a 15 minutes walk away and I had wanted to go up there). The last pics are already from the flight home. I was lucky enough to again have 3 seats to myself and since the flight left at 2:30 AM that was nice as I could spread out and sleep a bit.

That memorial is a memory of a local boy who died in the tragic terror attack in Norway in 2011

The old post office (there is a geo-cache hidden below the stairs 😉 ).

Mine 2

Street sign

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Last pics from expedition

Here are the last pics from our days on the boat… glacier, spring and then suddenly snow… several seasons in just one day. Second stay in Barentzburg where lots of vodka was consumed. Not by me since I was sick but by others… Barentzburg is a russian village after all. 😉

Tanja was the most elegant one to jump in… 🙂

Polar fox

And suddenly it was spring….

Those three kept us company the entire time we were on land. Ran away and came back, ran away and came back …. repeat…

Barentsburg again

Our skipper Nick… he was hilarious!

And then suddenly it was snowing…

A humpback whale

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Expedition part 2

So, here are some more pics… part 2 of the expedition (more to come). The first ones are from a coal mining village called Svea where usually tourists are not allowed to go on land. And then some more walruses… 🙂

 

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Expedition part 1

Here are the first pics from our expedition (it was more a scouting tour since instead of going north for the tour we went south). They are mostly from the best day we had there with the walrusses and beluga whales. And I know that there is dirt on the first pics… 😉

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Trip to Barentzburg and Piramiden

These little villages are russian coal mining settlements. While Barentzburg still has an active mine (mostly ucrainians work there), Piramiden is now ghost town. Only 9 people left to live there. On the Piramiden part I met my norvegian friends Thor and Kari (we didn’t know that we would be on that tour together but it was good to spend more time with them).

Am I the only one who sees a face on this snow scooter?

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Pics from day 1 in the Arctic

Since I don’t have a lot of time I am just uploading the pics here and will comment on everything later…

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Way behind with updates…

This June is a very busy month for me and I am already behind with updates. I went back to Ireland over Pentecost. This time I visited Belfast. Even though I got way too wet I still like Ireland very much. Will post pics later on. Tomorrow I will fly out to Norway again to the arctic area Spitzbergen. Really curious how this will turn out. You will find out in a few weeks… 🙂

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Liege day 2

The next morning I took my time because the weather was not as nice as the day before but luckily it was not raining. So I went to do some more geo-caching and take some long-term exposure pics at the most beautiful bridge they have. All in all I have to say that I was not too impressed with the city. I had read that they do a lot of construction but a lot of the new buildings I have seen are just plain UGLY… so I am sure I won’t be back. Dut the train station…..

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Liege day 1

So I went to Liege on a sunday morning. It is just a one hour train ride from Cologne so it is not really far. The train station in Liege is a photographer’s dream… so when I arrived I took some pics and when the room in my hotel was not yet ready I came back for another photo-session… 😀 Afterwards I walked around the city chasing geo-caches and exploring. And taking pics of course since it was really good photoweather. By 5 I was back at the hotel, unable to walk any more after havin walked for 6 hours without sitting down. Here are some impressions.

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Lüttich/Liege

Tomorrow morning I will take the train to go to Lüttich/Liege in Belgium. It is one of the three stops on my way to Paris. And most of the time when we stop there I think that I should take a trip to explore this city. I have been there only once about 25 years ago for a swimming competition (I didn’t swim, I was a referee) but I don’t think I saw a lot of the city and I think the city is not really that nice anyway. But I don’t really remember that trip. I read an article recently though that the city had much improved. When I investigated on foto-pages most of the pics were from the train-station Liege-Guillemins. So it seems to be a given that I have to put in a foto-session there. But I am sure I will find some really nice places too… my list of geocaches to find there is really long and my experience from Iceland (where my friends were doing this) is that most of the times the caches lead you to places that you would never have found without geo-caching. So I am really curious… 🙂

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