TRAVEL!

09/01/2013

Travel!Travel, my friend!

Travel to learn about new places.

Of course, you can do it by reading a lot of books and travel magazines with beautiful pictures in them. But reading about these places while sitting in a comfortable chair at home and actually experiencing them, surviving in them, adapting to them, and finally enjoying them is definitely not the same. You learn much… much more when you go out of your cosy comfort zone and jump right into the foreign environment.

Before my trip to South Africa I thought, like most Europeans, that all Africa is kind of the same: hot, wild and poor. Well, it’s not. Cape Town, which I was lucky to visit in November 2012, is quite developed due to tourist industry. And in Stellenbosch, where I participated in a conference, there are a lot of luxurious wine farms.

2012.11.22 - Cape Town - View from Above2012.11.22 - Cape Town - Flower FieldAnd due to that trip to South Africa I found out that there are squirrels in Africa. Before it I thought that these animals are indigenous only to Eurasia and the Americas. But no, I saw many squirrels in the parks of Cape Town. Yes, I agree, this sounds a bit silly: “What did you see in Africa: giraffes, elephants, lions…?” – “No, just some squirrels”. Still, that was more or less a discovery.

2012.11.22 - Cape Town - SquirrelAnd it looks like not only I was surprised with the presence of squirrels on the African continent.

2012.11.22 - Cape Town - Squirrel and TouristsTravel to admire the diverse beauty of the Nature.

It is true, that you can see different plants in a botanical garden and various exotic animals in a zoo in your city. But again, this is not the same as observing these plants and animals in their natural habitats. Because only there they show their true behaviour and character.

In South Africa I saw not only squirrels. Together with some friends we travelled to Boulders Beach and observed the colony of African penguins relaxing on sandy beach.

2012.11.22 - Boulders - Colony of African Penguins2012.11.22 - Boulders - African PenguinAnd afterwards we visited the Addo Elephant National Park, where ostriches, warthogs, zebras, elephants, lions and other animals were roaming around freely.

2012.11.24 - Addo Elephant National Park - Warthog2012.11.24 - Addo Elephant National Park - Zebra2012.11.24 - Addo Elephant National Park - Elephant2012.11.24 - Addo Elephant National Park - LionOf course, the most exciting moments of our South African safari were observing a family of elephants and a male lion right outside our car without any cage or fence.

2012.11.24 - Addo Elephant National Park - Elephants Outside

Travel to taste exotic food and do unusual activities.

You will never understand what foreign food tastes like and what a certain activity is about until you try them. You can take a cookbook and try preparing the food yourself, but there is a risk you will not find the necessary ingredients, and the meal will not taste like the original one. The same with activities – you can watch bungee jumping or diving with sharks many times on TV, but you will not get the same experience and adrenaline as with the real thing.

The exotic food in Africa for me was the Ethiopian cuisine we stumbled upon in Cape Town. And the most adventurous activity for us became driving across the African wilderness in the night on a gravel road in a car that is not suitable for such motor rally.

2012.11.22 - Cape Town - Ethiopian Cuisine2012.11.22 - Cape Town - Enjoying Ethiopian FoodTravel to meet interesting people with different culture and mindset.

Last but not least, travelling is the most certain way to meet people from foreign countries, from different cultures and with various worldviews. And these meetings can be the foundations of the great and long-lasting friendship that will give you even more travelling opportunities.

During the conference in South Africa I managed to meet many interesting people, both from the African continent and other parts of the World. With some of them we went around the country afterwards and visited Cape Town and Table Mountain, Mossel Bay, Grahamstown and other interesting places. As you can judge by the photos of this blog post, that was a spectacular journey.

By the way, the trip to this country was made possible mostly thanks to Brigitte, whom I met at a conference in Germany a year before and who invited me to the one in South Africa. I am very grateful to her for that, as well as to all friends, who made that trip an amazing and memorable one.

2012.11.22 - New FriendsSo, I advise you to travel, my friend. And I ask you to do it in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. Try not to use greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting means of transport; restrain your consumption of meat; generate as few waste as possible, especially the hazardous one (batteries, chemicals, etc.); do not cause harm to indigenous flora and fauna, particularly to the rare and unique species; and so on.

In August – November 2012 I was a very “bad boy”: I took flights to Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Denmark, Germany and South Africa, in this way contributing to a lot of GHG emissions.

Travelling in August - November 2012Some of it I managed to offset through my contribution to climate change mitigation in the Ungaran region in Indonesia (you can read about it in “INDONESIAN VILLAGES AND CLIMATE CHANGE”). And nowadays I do more research and campaigning aimed at protecting the environment to compensate for my environmental footprint during the travelling.

What else is left to say here? I suppose the best conclusion for all this is the well-known quote:

Travel Makes You RicherHappy travelling!

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THE CITY OF SHARK AND CROCODILE

01/11/2012

In October 2012 during the last weekend of my internship in Indonesia I visited the second largest (after Jakarta) city in this country – Surabaya. I went there together with a friend from Romania, who was also an intern in Indonesia. Due to some transport challenges (transport system in Indonesia is terrible!) I almost missed the bus, but in the end all turned out well, and we departed to our destination.

Surabaya is situated to the east from Semarang, the place of my internship, in the eastern part of the Java island. This is one of the largest cities in Southeast Asia hosting around 2.7 million residents.

The city’s name Surabaya comes from two words – “suro”, which means shark, and “boyo” translated as crocodile. According to a local myth, this is the place, where these two creatures fought for the title “the strongest and most powerful animal”. In the end they both died. One can see the statue of the giant shark and giant crocodile fighting each other near the city zoo. There are also other interpretations of this symbol, such as the battle between two heroes – Sura and Baya – over the status of the king of the city. Some people align the fight of the shark and the crocodile with the Battle of Surabaya between the Indonesian soldiers and the British and Dutch troops in November 1945.

In Surabaya we visited a lot of interesting places. The first one in the plan was the cigarette museum called the House of Sampoerna. However, as it usually happens in Indonesia, the plan went not as expected. We explained to the local people that we want to get to this museum, and they told us how to get there. “Oh, museum!” – they exclaimed and showed us the way. But soon it turned out that we went to a totally opposite direction and arrived at Bonbin Surabaya, the city zoo. “Yes, mister! Museum!” – the last person we had asked about the cigarette museum nodded happily and showed at the entrance to the zoo.

I do not know about the three Polish Ladies accompanying me, but personally I was happy about such turn of events (although generally I do not approve the idea of zoos). In the zoo we saw camels, monkeys, hippopotamuses, elephants, deer, wallabies, and many species of birds.

I also noticed a rabbit wandering freely around the zoo in search for food.

And on one of the trees we observed this cute couple of gibbons (Hylobatidae):

But the most interesting meeting for me was with the Komodo dragons / monitors (Varanus komodoensis). These incredible lizards from the Komodo island reaching the length of 3 meters and weighting up to 70 kg are one of the largest reptiles in the world. They eat invertebrates, birds, mammals, as well as carrion. Occasionally the Komodo dragons attack even Indonesian people, but these are mostly provoked attacks. The Komodo monitor is considered a vulnerable species and is included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Despite the misunderstanding between us and Indonesians, we still managed to visit the House of Sampoerna. This is a relatively small museum and one of the cigarette production factories of the largest Indonesian tobacco company PT HM Sampoerna Tbk. There we were introduced to the history of the company and were shown the inside of the factory, where many Indonesian women make cigarettes for smokers.

Besides the Surabaya zoo and the cigarette museum, we also saw the Submarine Monument (Monumen Kapal Selam), represented by a retired Russian submarine standing in the city centre, the Heroes Monument dedicated to those died during the Battle of Surabaya, and the Dolly district, which is the largest red-light district in Southeast Asia with about 2000 prostitutes working there.

Overall, we spend 3 days in Surabaya – we came on Thursday morning and left on Saturday evening. Three wonderful days in the City of Shark and Crocodile.


EUROPE IN SPACE

02/06/2012

Nowadays the European Union not only covers the European continent, but also stretches into space. Through its European Space Agency (ESA) it develops and launches into orbit satellites that enhance navigation and collect detailed data on the state of the environment. The most recent developments in this area include the programmes Galileo, EGNOS, and GMES.

Galileo (as you may guess, named after the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei) is a high-precision satellite navigation system able to determine horizontal and vertical position of an object on the Earth within one meter precision. Thus it is much better than the existing GPS technologies and has very good potential to be used in plane and ship navigation, mapping, rescue operations, commercial service and other fields. Moreover, it is said that the Galileo signal should be free and open to the public. The first two satellites of this programme were already launched in October 2011 from the Guiana Space Centre. 28 more are expected to follow them.

EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) is another ESA’s bold idea to improve reliability and accuracy of space satellite measurements. It improves the accuracy of the signals of GPS and the above-mentioned Galileo greatly, allowing its usage in very critical and delicate operations, such as navigating large oil tankers through narrow channels. This is achieved through three geostationary satellites and 44 ground stations. The EGNOS service should also be free and open for anyone with a GPS device able to receive the EGNOS signal.

GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) is a bit different initiative that is focused on observing the Earth’s “health status”. By connecting together Earth observation satellites, ground sensors, control stations, etc. it should be able to continuously monitor and report the state of the environment, including air and water pollution, forest cover, land use, global temperature, and appearance of cataclysms. Currently GMES is in the development stage with the launch of its first space satellite Sentinel scheduled to 2013.

The EU and ESA were so excited about their space programmes that they decided to showcase and inform the public about them. Thus the European Space Expo was organized. I managed to visit its first edition in Copenhagen, Denmark. My impression: a bit small for space-wide programmes, but nevertheless quite interesting and interactive with a lot of learning opportunities. Personally I was interested in the mapping application of the programmes, as in the international movement “Let’s Do It!” I am part of we are trying to develop the World Waste Map and gathering and visualisation of statistical data about the waste issue in different countries. So, I definitely recommend you to drop in at this exhibition and spend some time at all its interactive video booths.

The European Space Expo will be in Copenhagen until the 5th of June, 2012 (the Danish Constitution Day, by the way). If you are not able to visit it until then, do not despair. The exhibition has 6 following editions taking place in other countries. You can see the dates and places of these editions at the European Commission’s website.

So, enjoy your exploration of the European space technologies!


BEAUTIFUL, SEXY, FUN, COLORFUL…

29/05/2012

In the post “IT’S SUMMER FESTIVAL TIME!” I have written about the Copenhagen Carnival that takes place at the beginning of the summer season in Copenhagen, Denmark. You can read about its history and watch a video about its 2011 edition there.

The 2012 edition of the Copenhagen Carnival happened on the 25th – 27th of May with colourful parades gone through Strøget and Fælledparken. In my opinion it was a bit more beautiful, a bit more sexy, a bit more fun, and a bit more colorful than last year. Particularly talking about the sexy part, the visitors (especially their male part) of the 2012 edition were pleasantly surprised to see a couple of dancing ladies showing openly their upper beauties. It is hard to tell what was more interesting and fun: looking at the almost naked girls or watching the spectators, from young boys to old ladies, getting very excited about the uncovered beauties and overloading their cameras and iPhones with erotic photos. However, in general this should not be so surprising, as Denmark was the first country in the world that legalized pornography (in 1969, to be precise). So, anything can happen here.

But enough text. As they say, “an image is worth a thousand words”. And video is probably worth two thousand. So, just relax and enjoy energetic music, exciting dances, colorful costumes and sexy girls:

Hope to see you at the next edition of the Copenhagen Carnival!


HAPPY COOKING!

30/12/2011


IT’S SUMMER FESTIVALS TIME!

23/06/2011

The three warm and sunny days of June and of the Whitsun Holiday are the days of the Copenhagen Carnival. The main shopping and touristic street of Copenhagen, Strøget, as well as the park to the north called Fælledparken, become filled with music of various genres, colourful parades, half-naked girls dancing samba and other energetic and exciting dances, photographers scurrying among the crowd to take good shots of the girls’ uncovered body parts, and just citizens enjoying the event. Of course, it is not the mega-grand and mega-shiny Brazilian Carnival, but still is quite fun and entertaining.

Here is a glimpse of the Copenhagen Carnival that took place this year (2011) for you to see for yourself:

The Copenhagen Carnival’s history stretches back to 1982, when it was organized for the first time under the topic “The street is the stage, and you are the entertainer”. The idea to organize this event belongs to the artist John Little, who was inspired by the marvellous carnivals in the Caribbean region. You can read more about its history and development into a yearly festival of world music HERE.But the Carnival is not a single opportunity to have lots of fun in Denmark this summer. Therefore, if you have missed it, do not worry. This is just the beginning of the summer festivals time! Check out the agenda full of various music, fashion shows, tasty delicacies, and lots of partying below.

Roskilde Festival: 26th of June – 4th of July

World music is coming to the Roskilde city once again. One of the six largest annual music festivals in Europe invites you for the 8 days of fun and entertainment. Read more about it HERE and HERE.

Copenhagen Jazz Festival: 1st – 10th of July

Crazy about jazz in particular? Then this music event organized since 1979 is the best place for you this summer. The stars of this year’s festival include Sonny Rollins, Bobby McFerrin, and Keith Jarrett. Get to know more about it HERE.

Copenhagen Fashion Week / Festival: 3rd – 7th of August

This is truly a marvellous gift to all ladies! While your boyfriend or husband revives slowly after unlimited beer-drinking and partying during the previous festivals, you can check out what the designers from all over the world have prepared for you this year. The Copenhagen Fashion Festival starts HERE.

Cultural Harbour: 5th – 7th of August

If your get overexcited from all those trendy and astronomically expensive models, then you can chill out at the annual harbour festival at Havneparken located at the Islands Brygge. Read some more details about it HERE.

SmukFest: 10th – 14th of August

Danes claim that this is the most beautiful festival of the year. They even did not put much creativity into its name and just called it “Beautiful Festival”. You can see if it is really true HERE.

Strøm: 15th – 20th of August

Now it is time for the fans of electronic music to invade the streets of Copenhagen. The one week festival called Strøm is dedicated to this music genre. More information can be found HERE.

Copenhagen Cooking: 19th – 28th of August

After all those festivals you would probably get very hungry. So, why not take “the cherry from the pie” during the last days of summer and visit this food festival with lots of cooking and tasting opportunities spread all over the Denmark’s capital city. See what is on the menu HERE.

And there are many more interesting and exciting opportunities offered by Denmark in summer. Just go and explore the country, and you will surely find them!

So, prepare for much movin’ and groovin’! Show the world your partying might under the silver moonlight! And to end this silly rhyme:

IT’S SUMMER FESTIVALS TIME!