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Ukraine Flyover

Posted on July 19th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

Flying over the Ukraine , then later Afghanistan on Singapore Airlines SQ 25 from Frankfurt to Singapore on March 13, 2014, on ArcticTropic’s voyage to Myanmar. Flying over war zones is usually routine when the fighting units on the ground either do not have access to high altitude missiles or have no need to use them in their local conflicts. Eastern Ukraine is in a busy air corridor from Northern and Central Europe to South Asia. Obviously that has now changed.

British Columbia

Posted on July 14th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

From Europe,to Asia back to North America, British Columbia was the last stop on ArcticTropic’s Round The World Adventure. After a long flight from Tokyo,via Manila , we settled into Vancouver to readjust to North American life, then ventured North of the city.

Fjords begin just out of Vancouver and stretch thousands of miles up into Alaska.

Glaciers overlook the Pacific.

A young Miamian enjoys the summer snow.

Mysterious life forms in the rainforest.

Road signs in First People’s Native Language of Tsihqot’in.

Enjoying the northern sunshine.

Back across the Date Line.

And finally – Home !

Philippine Landing

Posted on July 5th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

In order to save 50% on airfare from Tokyo to Vancouver, ArcticTropic flew on Philippine Airways via Manila. Other than the incessantly crying baby in the background,the first flight was quite pleasant. In the future we will explore those dense jungles in the mountains above Manila. The dense jungles are home to primitive tribes and until the 1980s hid Japanese soldiers who had no idea World War II had ended.

Nagano Yamanouchi

Posted on June 25th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

Yamanouchi is an ancient village in the Japanese Alps, in the Prefecture of Nagano. Snow monkeys live in the forests and bathe in the volcanic hot springs. For a few months the forests are free of snow and the monekys give birth to many offspring.

A protective Mother.

Geysers shoot boiling water up from the volcanic ground.

While melted snow fuels the icy waterfalls.

Mother and Child in the forest.

Yamanouchi is an ancient village built atop thousands of hot springs. Buildings are heated naturally.

Social life revolves around the baths.

Inside a men’s bath. Cold water is mixed with hot to create a bath of 42 C ( 107 F ) .

A Zen Dinner at the Ryokan.

Hiroshima

Posted on June 25th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

No words.

Kyoto on High Speed Shinkansen

Posted on June 24th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

The best way to explore Japan is on the 200 mph , 320 kph High Speed Shinkansen network on Japan Rail. The Japan Rail Pass allows 7 days of unlimited travel for $ 279 – only non-resident foreigners are eligible. Distances in Japan are great – but seem close on these trains that seem to fly along the ground.

In Kyoto, the highest pagoda in Japan.

A Shinto Shrine.

Kyoto has delicious cuisine. Here is some venison sashimi.

Locusts.

And Bee Larvae

Tokyo

Posted on June 24th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

Japan does not normally conjure images of adventure, but ArcticTropic stopped in for several days to be totally immersed in this vibrant modern/ancient culture.

Tokyo is always the City of the Future.

Gundam ! Japan s the world’s merchandising capital.

Food choices not found elsewhere.

In vibrant Shinjuku ,where we stayed.

The best neon anywhere.

Our flight trajectory did not take us over North Korea even though we were in a Chinese plane. We passed about 50 miles south of that path.

Beijing Briefly

Posted on June 17th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

There are only two ways to fly to Japan from Ulaanbataar, either though Seoul or Beijing, Beijing was the cheaper option and one of our travelers had not yet been there.

China has recently instituted a 72 hour visa-free program. One must be flying from one country,though a major city in China with an international airport and then fly on to a third country. One may not leave that city in that time frame.

Unlike last year at his time,Beijing skies were incredibly clear on a beautiful very dry 90 degree day.

Distant mountains were visible ! Third time in Beijing and first time seeing them.

A two hour flight on our Round The World Adventure.

The East is Red. But Capitalist.

Snake For Dinner.

Wild Horse Riding and Exploring Terelj, Mongolia

Posted on June 15th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

With a shorter stay in Mongolia this year, ArcticTropic and company opted for riding semi-wild horses in Terelj National Park, northeast of Ulanbataar. The small,but sturdy horses are adept at rapidly climbing and descending the steep,sometimes wooded terrain.

Mongolia – Land of Peace.

Yaks yakking.

Ancient stones tower.

Climbing to Lord Buddha.

All Encompassing Wisdom.

Wisdom.

A Warning.

Mongolian and Tibetan Buddhism are very close.

After a long hard day on the range, a warm comfortable yurt.

The fires burn through the icy night.

Genghis Khan Rides Again!

Special Thanks To Tour Mongolia for putting together this Great Adventure on short notice !

Ulan Ude to Ulanbataar

Posted on June 15th, 2014 by Blaine Zuver

The bus for Ulanbataar,Mongolia leaves Ulan Ude at 7:30 sharp every morning. The trip is about 12 hours including 3 hours to cross the border and several rest stops.

The landscape is steppe and high desert, with more mountains towards UB.

The border crossing is not an easy one. While Russian customs were very easy coming in by air at Moscow, leaving the Federation by land is a very different experience. About 100km before the border, a soldier boards the bus and inspects all passports. At the actual border there is a two hour wait. No photos are permitted in the border zone. There is a baggage check and individual questioning by a Russian border patrol agent before the exit stamp is issued. The same process is repeated a few minutes later going into Mongolia, minus the interview.

ArcticTropic returns to UB.

UB continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in the world, but monastery life never changes.