Friday, August 21, 2009

Darvaz The Door to Hell

This place in Uzbekistan is called by locals “The Door to Hell”. It is situated near the small town of Darvaz. The story of this place lasts already for 35 years. Once the geologists were drilling for gas. Then suddenly during the drilling they have found an underground cavern, it was so big that all the drilling site with all the equipment and camps got deep deep under the ground. None dared to go down there because the cavern was filled with gas. So they ignited it so that no poisonous gas could come out of the hole, and since then, it’s burning, already for 35 years without any pause. Nobody knows how many tons of excellent gas has been burned for all those years but it just seems to be infinite there.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Most Epic Road Trips.

I’ve had some great road trips in my life, and making the film sent me on a few more. The idea that that Last Ride was a ‘road movie’ never really kicked in until I began the long search for locations throughout the deserts of South Australia.

During pre-production I clocked up over 20,000 kms just sitting in the passenger seat watching the most inspiring landscape pass before me. And then of course we approached the making of our ‘road movie’ as a road trip ourselves, taking the cast and crew on an epic 5000 km journey through that same inspiring landscape.

In celebration of the road trip I have made a list of what I reckon could be the 7 MOST EPIC ROAD TRIPS. EVER.

So whether you are planning a road trip, by car, motorcycle, bicycle or hitching, the most important thing to remember, as we all know, is that it’s the journey, not the destination that makes a great road trip.

1. The Alaskan Highway (2,237 KM)

The Alaskan Highway, stretches from Dawson Creek to Delta Junction, Alaska and Yukon. It was built during World Warr 2 and is one of the most well known roads in the world. You can read the full history about the road on wiki . This road trip is epic for two reasons. Wether condition & long distance between each town. Prepare for cold weather and a lot of driving.

So unless you feel like eating road kill you should stock up on some substantial snacks for the long and beautiful drive. Along the trip you can expect a lot of forest views and with a slight detour you can check out Liard Hot Springs and take a quick dip the temperature is around 42°-52°C (107°-126°F). Next up is Sign Forest at Watson Lake with over 45,000 sign posts that you can check out.

You can also expect to see a lot of wildlife like elk, grizzly bears, marmots and moose alongside the road. And if want to see some reindeer then make a quick stop in Yukon.2. Route 66: Chicago to California (3,945 KM)The mother of all roads, Route 66 is not for the faint hearted. It’s a long, long drive so do it in comfort not style. Route 66 was built in 1925 and starts in Chicago and heads through, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California and ends in Las Angeles. This is as epic as it gets.

Although the road was decommissioned in 1985 for the Interstate 40, this road is the ultimate road trip. There’s seriously a lot to see and do in 3945 KM so here’s a summary of some places to stop at.

– Dixie Truckers Home (McClean, Illinios) – The oldest truck stop on Route 66 around 70 years old.

– Devil’s Elbow (Missouri)

– Oklahoma City and a few numerous towns (Oklahoma)

– Cadillac Ranch (Amarillo, Texas)

– Blue Swallow Motel (Tucumcari, New Mexico) – The oldest motel on the Route 66
– Grand Canyon (Flagstaff, Arizona) – It’s the Grand Canyon!
– Sitgreaves Pass (Arizona) – Windy and dangerous roads with magnificent views

– Santa Monica Pier (Santa Monica, California)

3. Drive New Zealand’s South Island (440KM)

Not one of the longest drives but the scenery you get to see is simply amazing. You should take at least 7 days to complete the south island drive, or long enough to soak up its truly magnificent views. The road starts in Milford Sound and takes you south then back north ending at Wanaka. With plenty to see, touch and do from the jagged Fiordland mountains, rugged southern coast and sandy beaches.

There are plenty of rolling green pastures and forestry, including mountain ranges with spectacular views that might remind you of Frodo’s epic journey in Lord of the rings. New Zealand’s has some of the most exotic wild plants and birds in the world along with some of the best national parks, marine life, and natural blowholes.

The best thing about this trip is that you can see almost every scene from inside your. But stop often and get out amongst it.

I did this road trip in a campervan a few years back, but I would love to go back and do it by bike.

4. The Great Ocean Road: Geelong to Warnambool, Australia (300KM)

Possibly one of the world’s most spectacular scenic routes in the world with amazing coastal views, towering rock edges, plenty of surfing hotspots, lush forests and long beaches. The route starts in Torquay and ends at Allansford. You could finish the trip in one day however take a few days to enjoy some of the more notable attractions.

Twlve Apostles – Famous rock formations

– London Arch Port Campbell National Park
– The Great Otway National Park –Bushing walking & wildlife

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lake Baikal One of the Most Beautiful in the World

Lake Baikal is one of the most beautiful, magnificent places in the entire world. Lake Baikal is in the south of East Siberia. In the form of a new moon, Baikal stretches from southwest to north-east between latitudes 55°47' and 51°28' in the northern hemisphere and longitudes 103°43' and 109°58'. The lake is 636 km long, while its width varies from 81 km at its greatest point in central Baikal, to 27 km at its narrowest point, opposite the delta of the river Selenga. Baikal is 455 metres above sea level. Its shoreline measures some 2000 km, more than half of which is protected.

The surface area of the lake, when its water level is 454 m above sea level, is 31470 square kilometres. The maximum depth of the lake is 1637 m and average depth - 730 m. Some sources state that the maximum depth is 1642 m. Which is correct? The answer to this question is somewhat paradoxical - they are both correct. The thing is that the telemetry error for such depths is about 2%, i.e. 30 metres. So really it is correct to say that, at its greatest, Baikal is 1640 m deep, and 336 permanent rivers and streams flow into Baikal.
Origins of the Name

The Evenk name Lamu, or Sea was used for a few years by the first Russian explorers in the 17th century, then they changed to the Buryat - «Baigal», and subsequently «Baikal» by means of a phonetic substitute slightly softening the letter «g». Baikal is quite often called a sea, simply out of respect, because of its turbulent spirit, or because its far shore is often hidden in mists... At the same time, a difference is made between the Maloye Morye (Small Sea) and the Bolshoye Morye (Big Sea). Maloye Morye is the part situated between the northern shore of Olkhon and the mainland, all the rest is the Bolshoye Morye.
Baikal's water

Baikal's water is unique and surprising, as is the lake itself. It is unusually transparent, pure and saturated with oxygen. In not so distant times it was considered to have curative properties, and was used as a remedy. In spring the transparency of the lake's water, as measured by a Sekki disc (a white disc, 30 cm diameter), is 40 metres (for comparison, in the Sargasso Sea, which is considered to be the standard of transparency, there is a transparency of 65 metres). Later, when a mass algal bloom occurs, the water's transparency decreases, but in still weather one can see through to the lake floor to a considerable depth from a boat. This high degree of transparency is explained largely by the fact that Baikal's water has a low mineral content and is close to distilled water, thanks to the activity of the organisms living in it. The volume of the lake's water is some 23 thousand cubic kilometres, which is 20% of the world's and 90% of Russia's freshwater resources. Each year Baikal's ecosystem produces some 60 cubic kilometres of clear, richly oxygenated water.

The climate of East Siberia is acutely continental, but the enormous mass of water in Baikal and its mountainous surroundings create an unusual microclimate. Baikal acts like a large thermo-stabilizer - in winter it's warmer at Baikal, and in summer cooler, for example, than in Irkutsk, some 70 km away from the lake. The difference in temperature is usually around 10 degrees. The forests covering almost the entire coast of Baikal make a considerable contribution to this effect.
Animal life

There are more than 2600 species and varieties of animal and over 1000 species of plants in Baikal. From time to time new species are discovered. There is reason to believe that at present only some 70-80% of Baikal's living organisms are known to science. In former times, when Russian science was not yet in its present state of coma, on average some 10 species were discovered annually.
About 40% of the plants and 85% of animal species inhabiting open Baikal are endemic, that is, they are found only in Baikal. Living organisms are distributed right from the surface of the lake to its very deepest parts. There are 58 species of fish in the lake. The best known being omul, white-fish, grayling, huchen (salmon trout), sturgeon, «golomyanka» - the Baikal oilfish, and «lenok», a fish of the salmon family. Some 2000 species of plant grow on Baikal's shores, and 200 species of bird nest there. A typically marine mammal, the unique Baikal seal or nerpa, is found here. It is suggested that it came here from the Arctic Ocean along the rivers Yenisei and Angara. Its present population numbers a few tens of thousands. It can bee seen quite frequently in summer in the central and northern parts of the lake.


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