STRONG WINDs, FAST BULLETS & BIG BANGS

Yonaguni Airport

Yonaguni Airport

So we arrived in Yonaguni early on the Sunday morning, we had entrusted the ‘Gods of diving’ with all aspects of the trip (ie we hadn’t booked anything, just rocked up on a wing and a prayer....but an atheist prayer obviously). It appears the matrix program was happy with this and allowed all bits required to fall into place. At the airport in Yonaguni (very small, with the bloke who cleans the floor also being the guy who checks you in), we asked about accommodations and the lady manning the information desk called a mate,  who collected us and took us to her guest house. It was brilliant, rustic with everything you want, friendly people and a cool vibe.


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We ended up staying the week at the guest house after our original plan to go and do some camping on the island was scuppered when we were informed its not allowed (we shouldn’t of asked!). We had a great weeks diving though and my write up about the Yonaguni Monument can be seen below this blog (scroll down). I was introduced to the delights of ‘Wasabi’, which (being the novice), i chucked a spoonful gleefully into my mouth; bad mistake...firstly it tastes like a mix of battery acid and mustard (i hate mustard), secondly its kind of radioactive...not a pleasant experience & I wont be doing that again thank you very much.

WASABIA!!

WASABIA!!

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After a beautiful week we headed back to Tokyo, or at least that’s what we hoped we were going to do. Typhoon ‘Habibibibibgigig’ was doing its thing in the pacific and was approaching Japan, threatening to arrive with the same kind of greeting as the ‘Enola Gay’. Fortunately for us it didn’t arrive untill  24 hours after we landed ...Yay!. However, typhoon Haggis had the last laugh, when its caused the England v France game to be cancelled, for which we had tickets....booo.

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We booked into a little apartment in the Kawasaki region of Tokyo and waited to see what the Typhoon would bring. The TV was full of impending doom (much like the UK TV if we get 1mm of snow), and the streets were definitely a lot quieter than normal. It was raining heavily and the wind increased during the day, but it wasn’t anything outrageous. We went out for a walk and some shops were open including 7/11, McDonald’s & the local hairdresser. We toured around a bit but didn’t want to push to Yokohama to meet friends who had just arrived in Japan, just in case Yokohama was no longer there.

Typhoon Special…Harf Price!

Typhoon Special…Harf Price!

The day dragged as we waited for death to arrive; another walk saw Maccy D’s was closed (sure sign of disaster), 7/11 was closing but the hairdressers was doing a roaring trade with blond Japanese ‘men’ mincing about and curlers flying everywhere; just goes to show eh!!

About 6;30 as we sat in the apartment with the wind blowing outside when the house shook with an earthquake; this was pretty much my first earthquake, and it was a pretty small one (5 on The Richter scale), however the house was like a piece of paper when you flap it about...you can keep the big quakes...not fo me Ron!!! After a day of boredom waiting, I went to bed about 9, wondering if I’d wake up in a different time zone, but nothing...woke the next morning to a beautiful clear day!!...typhoons..they’re just full of hot air!!

Since then we have taken our first Shinkansen (bullet train), and dam they are quick. We’ve toured Kyoto which is beautiful city with lots to do. We have wandered the park in Nara, in which Deer mingle with the people and just get along...very special! We visited Ground Zero (Hypocentre), at Hiroshima (the exact point below where the Atom Bomb detonated; its a very moving place and the museum is special and important to see if in the city. In there the have the piece of stone where someone’s shadow is burnt into in when they were atomised by the flash,

points that amused me

ON AIMING POINT BRIDGE. USA>>>USA!

ON AIMING POINT BRIDGE. USA>>>USA!

  1. there is now a McDonald’s within 100m of where the bomb exploded.

  2. Whilst crossing the bridge which was the aiming point for the bomb aimer on the Enola Gay (although it dropped about 300m away,,,Maccy D’s got closer), I saw a Japanese guy walking over the bridge in a white jacket with USA in big letters over the back of it....Irony was on overtime.

  3. The Jock’s got stuffed by Japan

  4. Alisha Had a bird shit on her head

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Had a Day visiting the Lovely famous Shrine on the island of Miyajima today, see the amazing pic below.

BLOODY TYPICAL

BLOODY TYPICAL

Head to OITA tomorrow ready for the game against the Aussies.....C’mon England!

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Onwards.

THE YONAGUNI MONUMENT

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Location Of Yonaguni Island.

Location Of Yonaguni Island.

The Yonaguni monument is an underwater rock megalith which is found just offshore, on the Japanese island of Yonaguni. Yonaguni is the western most of the Japanese islands and is only 223Km from Taiwan. To get to Yonaguni from mainland japan, takes roughly a 5 hour flight and you will change aircraft at either Okinawa or Isigaki. Flights can be expensive, but if your interested in diving, or megalithic remains then it is well worth the visit.

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The rock anomalies that are referred to as the “Yonaguni Monument’ were initially found in 1986 by Kihachiro Aratake, who at the time was looking for dive sites around Yonaguni Island, which he could use with, and to attract, customers (I can say unequivocally that he most definitely found one). Whilst we were on the island we dived with Kihachiro’s dive company (now run by his son and close family), and had the pleasure to meet the man himself (see pic).

With THe Man Himself.

With THe Man Himself.

The family Diving Company On Yonaguni

The family Diving Company On Yonaguni

What is the Yonaguni monument?

Plan of the site.

Plan of the site.

The monument is an underwater rock outcrop which has numerous 90 degree edges on it, as well as some possible carvings which it is suggested represent animals (Turtle), and possibly a human face. The fact that makes it even more interesting is that the very top of the ‘Monument’ is at least 7m below the surface (with most parts ranging from 10-20m). It is suggested, that if it is man made / influenced, then it would have to have been above the waters surface to enable those responsible to do so; this would mean a considerable drop in water levels from where they currently are. The time span suggested during which the waters were last at such levels, varies from 10,000-60,000 years ago, depending on opinion; If this was the case it puts the possible intelligent work on the monument into a time frame that current mainstream history does not like at all (just like Gobeklie Tepe).

Difference of Opinion

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As with other such sites, all possible reasons for its existence have been theorised, from a naturally made formation to a feature which supports the earth being visited by extraterrestrial entities in the distant past.

My personal experience & observations.

It is not a straight forward dive to see the monument, the area can develope strong currents which can catch a diver out. As previously mentioned the top of the structure is close to the surface and there are some strong waves breaking over head, which again add to the sites difficulty. On all dives we dropped into the water just south of the location and then approached the monument through the “entrance” which is a collection of boulder type rocks forming a doorway of sorts. Whilst this itself does not mean its intelligently made, there are some recurring and matching angles in its symmetry (see pic). Once through this ‘Door’ you come immediately to one of the locations which, prior to coming to Yonaguni, I considered held a lot of strength as proof of intelligent influence, but I was not ready for what actually presented itself.

The Entrance

The Entrance

You may have seen the pictures of what appears to be 2 pieces of square cut stone which sit at right angles to the rest of the strata and seem to have been ‘placed’ in a slot?  Well these stones are huge, at least 18ft each (see pics). They are square, they are equal in size and dimensions, they are not joined to the surrounding rock, they have supporting stones at their base. They are magnificent. For these stones to have ended up as they are, without intelligent manipulation, would be against very high odds; for these odds to happen next to an area where other such massive odds are being beaten time and time again, for me surpass the possibility of coincidence.


We then moved around to the northern side of the monument, drifting with the current and ascending to roughly 15 meters. This brings the diver to the ‘top part of the site which is just full of 90degree edges, striations and all manner of anomalies which, again when put in such a small area, are difficult to say are natural occurrences. If you are aware of the quarry marks at Olyantaytambo, then a lot of the marks here are strikingly similar (see pics). The whole site is huge and so utterly humbling to actually view with your own eyes. There are circular holes which position and proximity to each other would make it very hard to describe as natural and there are many places which, again to me, show the marks which you see in stone worldwide which has been cut..there are teeth marks with regular spacing and gaps between them (unfortunately my pictures do not do this justice).

On top of the monument is the famous ‘turtle’, which is a cut rock thath is said to represent the creature. It was noticed by my daughter that either side of the head, equidistant from where the head ‘joins’ the body, there is a shelf cut which is the same both sides, in depth and width. Again the possibility of this naturally occurring, next to all the other anomalies, is just a bit to remote for me to take. 


One idea?

One of the family members, who now takes dives on the site, suggested the formation was a quarry which broke off from the island and fell into the sea. There is some logic to this theory, and I can understand why he considered it. The headland is directly behind the monument, and if such an event would occur, it seems that where the monument lies would be roughly correct. However, for the two square rocks at the entrance to have landed perfectly where they are and for the monument itself not to fracture under the force of such an event, for me at least, makes this possibility unrealistic.

Conclusions.

There are to many anomalies in to small an area which go against it being a natural formation. For me there Is obvious signs of intelligent influence and this MAY suggest the quarrying of stone (although no stone from the monument has been found on the island). The site is truly magnificent and has to be seen first hand to truly understand its size and complexity. It quite rightly holds a place as an ancient mystery and anyone who truly believes it is a natural occurrence has probably never been there, or if the have, then they forgot to wear their glasses.

The Dive Team

The Dive Team

Swing Cat, Swing Low, Sing Victor Ombogo

Alisha holding the room together

Alisha holding the room together

Arrived back in Tokyo and found a cracking little Hostel / art gallery on the south side of the city near Haneda airport. It was cheap for a ‘Bunk Bed’ type room, and if you look at the pic you will understand why....swinging the proverbial cat would have left blood stains on the walls......but,,what more did we need??

Carried out the 3 S’s and headed into Town to meet Roz and Lee, who we were buying some tickets from for the England V Argentina game. We met them near the Tokyo Tower and they were a brilliant couple. Lee is Ex Army Air Corps and used to be a door gunner on Lynx...we chatted for a little while and it became obvious that at some point in the early 90’s we were probably on the same Lynx over South Armagh somewhere. Roz is a cracking lady who is a Massive Ipswich Town fan and who really wants to run a strip club somewhere in East Anglia! They had been planning the RWC trip for a while and a slight administrative error meant they ended up with slightly more tickets than required. Obviously this was to our benefit....Yay.

Roz and Lee (middle).

Roz and Lee (middle).

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower

We got on with them so well we decided to have a night out with them and started this by going to the top of the Tokyo Tower, which offers 360 degree views of Tokyo. We arrived at the top at last light and could see Mount Fuji on the red skyline and the whole city spread out around us. It was great to see and we were all busy trying to spot our hotels or hostels.

After that we headed to a bar to watch the South Africa V Italy game, in which Italy eventually realised that they were shite and hadn’t a cat in hells chance of going through to the next round after all!! (Shame but if you end up in a group like that...you have to be realistic.....however...great effort).

Sunset from the Tower, Fuji on the skyline.

Sunset from the Tower, Fuji on the skyline.

Alisha, Lee & Roz all got merrily plastered (despite everyone saying they wouldn’t) and we all had a cracking night. We fell slightly foul of the metro lines which reduce massively at 12:30 and ended up getting a taxi back at 1 ish!

A True Mills

A True Mills

Next day was Matchday and we packed our kit and checked out as we were going to fly to Yonaguni straight after the game. We took a slow tour towards the stadium whilst Alisha got herself back into the land of the living, after the night before. One interesting side note is that Roz was also feelings slightly fragile the next day and was virtually at the stadium before realising she had left the tickets back at the hotel!! A long metro ride back followed by a £100 taxi back to the stadium got them there in time....lee was very happy and could say nothing but kind loving things !! ;0)

The Argies were in fine voice with lots of singing whilst the English were a bit subdued. Alisha (pissed again by this stage), was trying to get everyone singing any song that she could but despite all her effort, the English reserve was maintained. I did tell her that thats the exact difference between Rugby & football.... if you want the mad jumpy around fun its the football you need to go to....there is no comparison.

Attempted Murder.

Attempted Murder.

A decent game in which the Argentines desire to Kill Owen Farrell, became their undoing, when they had a player sent off early doors, which nullified any real threat they posed and slightly took the edge of what could have been a real cracking game. England cruised to victory in roughly third gear, with Farrell missing a load of kicks, probably due to his head being knocked into another postcode.

After the game finished Alisha invested more time in to trying to get everyone singing, including Victor Ombogo, who she accosted as he left the ground with us! We made our way to the airport after saying bye to Roz and Lee who were heading off touring for a few days.

Long night of flying and waiting before we got to Yonaguni in order to Dive the Yonaguni Monument.....more on that to follow!!

That’s me!!!

That’s me!!!

Onwards.....



Lakes, Backache’s & Grass Snakes

Now that Alisha had joined me and we had toured Tokyo for a Day, we had decided that we would head to the Mount Fuji area, which is just south of Tokyo and has five lakes at its base. I had off loaded all the kit I had bought out for Alisha to her (Tent, Roll Mat & doss bag), and was enjoying a bergan which was particularly light…pretty much how I used to like it in the Military.

The elusive ‘Mount Fuji’

The elusive ‘Mount Fuji’

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So we grabbed a bus from the Shijuku bus station for the 2 and a bit hour drive down to the lakes area. We chatted all the way down, still catching up after our 2 yers apart. It’s lovely to hear about all the adventures Alisha has had since we last met, with her living in Thailand, Australia & New Zealand as well as doing the Everest base camp trek in between. The trip down flew by and I was a very proud dad by the end of it, not just because of what Alisha has achieved since we last met but also at the person she has become because of it.


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We had decided o head to Lake Yamanakako initially and on arrival headed towards a campsite we could see on ‘Google Maps’. We hadn’t seen ‘Mount Fuji” at this stage as it was hidden above low cloud, then all of a sudden....’Oi Oi’...there it was, massive and imposing, filling the whole sky just to our south. The campsite was just coming out of season so we had the pick of spots to pitch our tents and also the guy who ran it let us have anything we needed at half price.  I decided to get the BBQ going and went into ‘Man makes fire’ mode, with the only downside being man didn’t make fire and it was eventually Alisha who rescued the effort, thus ensuring we could eat that night.


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After a decent sleep, and brekkie (once again thanks to Alisha resurrecting the BBQ from its previous embers), we headed up one of the local ‘small’ hills which gives a great view of the lake and Mount Fuji. It was during this small jaunt that I re-learnt the art of breathing through my backside and ears; Whilst this supposedly impossible feat was going on, I was listening to Lish tell me about Her trip to Everest Base Camp. All the way to the top she was talking and recounting her trip (apart from when a massive grass snake slithered over her foot), whilst I was trying hard not to pass out! Fuji summit was behind some cloud...... again (see pic).

Personally I dont think my Tatoos were offensive?

Personally I dont think my Tatoos were offensive?

After the walk we had access to the ‘Onsen’ baths at the campsite, which are beautiful and hot and relaxed all my weary muscles. The only reason I was allowed into the Males bath was because I was the only one there....normally I wouldn’t be allowed in as I have tattoos. This is a remnant from when the only people who had Tattoos in japan were CriminalGang members (Triads), and is something which can cause a fair bit of offence in the country still.

Mount Fuji Clear as day Behind us

Mount Fuji Clear as day Behind us

After a more successful fire-lighting episode by myself that night we had another BBQ and also conducted a raid of the campsites wood pile, allowing us to sit and chill and just catch up more about the last 2 years worth of adventures


We moved to Lake Kawaguchiko the following morning and went out for a walk around the local area. We found a beautiful Shinto Temple complex, had some outstanding food and the got lost in the backstreets.....however we knew if we kept the imposing Mount Fuji on our right we would end up roughly were we wanted to be eventually, and this proved to be the case. Whilst in Kawaguchiko we have ate some really REALLY nice food, the different things available are fantastic. The following day  was taken up by another walk to the top of one of ridge lines that climb up and dominate around the lake. It was a good and testing walk (for me at least), and just a lovely day out. Fuji again was popping its summit in and out of the clouds but overall a really good and enjoyable day. The night finished sat in the company of some guys from South Africa, who are out following the ‘Boks’. Great people, who really knew how to tell a story...a fun night was had.


The next day we caught the bus back from the lakes to Tokyo, ready to follow England in their march towards being RWC Champions.. TBC

Onwards….

Tokyo Or Bust

It’s been a busy few days over here in the land of the rising sun.....well mostly.

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So my first full night in Japan went pretty much as you’d expect when suffering jet lag. I was out like a light when my head hit the pillow, then wide awake again at just gone midnight. I thought that would be it for the night so lay reading my book and remember seeing 03;30 trundle past. Next thing I know, BOSH, its 12:30 mid day and I am coming out of a very deep sleep!

Undaunted I head into Tokyo with the intention of going to watch the England v USA Game. Now I don’t know anyone else’s thoughts but them playing us at Rugby, is like us playing them at American football....it shouldn’t happen....get off our pitch. 

Moscow Fanzone 2018

Moscow Fanzone 2018

To give you a quick insight into the ‘Fanzone’ setup here in Tokyo.....Now I am used to football World Cup fan-zones, which are big affaires and cater for everything. Obviously the Rugby World Cup doesn’t attract the numbers football does, but still, the Fanzone in Tokyo is....well...its a bit shit. It’s indoors, in a kind of shopping Mall, they have 3 large TV screens which are all at floor level; so unless your stood at the very front the best you can hope for is a third of a screens worth of view; If you add to this the fact that many Japanese men seem to have massive heads (to which they then extend with massive flowing hair cuts), it can severely dampen your viewing pleasure. (Insider joke, but I wonder If Al Lovett is half Japanese?).

The View in the Tokyo Fanzone

The View in the Tokyo Fanzone

The Italian Captain

The Italian Captain


Watched Italy beat some crap team, and then giggled when I heard someone saying Italy are looking strong, as they have had 2 good wins....yeah against Namibia & Canada....not exactly powerhouses of Rugby?? I did watch them interview 2 Italian players after the game, one with a distinct South African accent and the other from Swaffham, not a word of Italian was heard.


England Fans Letting The Yanks know not to play Rugby Again

England Fans Letting The Yanks know not to play Rugby Again

Eventually England took the stage and immediately the biggest head in the room stood right in front of me! England cruised to a win without getting out of second gear, keeping their powder dry for the games to follow. Those cocky Yankee types did try to kill our star man, for which I feel we should again burn down their Whitehouse. After our crushing victory I headed back to the apartment but again caught the wrong train and spent a good hour trying to figure out where I was and how to correct the error.

The next day was mostly pathetic! Jet lag played its part and I again woke early afternoon. There was a stunningly gorgeous Japanese lunch involved which was beef, noodles, vegetables and Rice (lovely), and then boredom again waiting for Alisha (my daughter), to arrive. I eventually received a call from her to say she had landed and couldn’t get any cash out or get here SIM card to work (she was on WIFI). Those who know Alisha will agree this sounds about right! However the Mills part of her kicked in and she eventually found her way to the station I was waiting at and it was lovely to be able to give her my first hug in 2 years xx

Sitting in the Fanzone

Sitting in the Fanzone

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A good sleep for us both, preceded us heading into Tokyo the next day for a damm good shuftie. We caught the train to that famous Square with all the crossings, which is a little bit smoke and mirrors really. It’s not what it appears to be (you may note all pics are taken from the same side), whilst interesting it wasn’t as it seems on the TV (but nothing is is it?), one side is actually a bit dull. The Mario Kart tour that you can do round the city, did have me laughing though.

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A 8k walk through the city to the Fanzone found it even fuller, leaving even less chance to see the game...even with all the Japanese politely sitting down to watch the game....its not the same...you need atmosphere and the Fanzone currently doesn’t possess any, or, offer a decent place to watch a game.

Great Bar for Japan Ireland Game

Great Bar for Japan Ireland Game

Eventually decided to sack the fanzone and Found a great little bar and watched the Japs spank Ireland...great game, cracking bar and good fun, The bars are definitely the way to go.


OOOPS!

OOOPS!

Some Random Simao Wrestlers

Some Random Simao Wrestlers

As I type this I’m sat in a campsite, with our tents up, BBQ just fading next to me, a big lake off to my left and Mount Fuji just behind me....but more of that in the next blog..


Onwards.

Japan Day 2-3

A Light Brekkie

A Light Brekkie

 Early start at the UJC followed by a mega brekkie in preparation for the flight to Japan which, as it turned out, was a bit of good thinking on my part as it prevented my demise later during the day (more on that to follow).

Me over Russia

Me over Russia

One point I need to mention is that I am at this stage, suffering from a massive cold. My nose is dribbling more than a Geordie in a spelling test and ….you know that person on a plane or train who you hate having to sit next to because they are sneezing everywhere....well thats me!

I hoofed it to Gatwick and boarded the China Eastern flight to Shanghai. Now the plane wasn’t even a quarter full so it was ‘pick your own row of seats, spread yourself out and chill’. Had a quick lunch once in level flight and then it was sleep or watch films to your hearts content (Ifinished off a book on ‘The Battle for Goose Green”, which was a very good read).

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The lunch which we had just after take off and was the only food you got before they lobbed a breakfast at you prior to arrival in Shanghai. I was bloody starving and throwing pleading looks to the stewardess who was throwing ‘you’ll live fatty’ looks back at me!!  Now as the plane started to descend my ears wouldn’t clear due to the bubonic plague I was suffering from, and by they time I exited the aircraft, I couldn’t hear anything just a muffled noise if someone spoke.

Shanghai…I saw none of this!

Shanghai…I saw none of this!

A short stay in shanghai was followed by a flight to Tokyo and more ear pressure, which ensured my head felt like it was going to explode , whilst snot production was at maximum capacity. Thankfully it was only a couple of hours to Tokyo and my arrival at the Rugby World Cup!!

A portrait from my interview

A portrait from my interview

Within 10 minutes of landing at Narita airport I was being interviewed on Japanese TV, which as anyone who saw me at the football World Cup in Russia will know, is mandatory. Not forgetting that I couldn’t hear diddly, I was now being thrown questions in a mix of Japanese and English, that to me sounded like they were chewing a roll of cotton wool. I nodded and smiled a lot and kept saying ‘England’, until it became obvious to the film crew that they had intercepted an idiot. Eventually they looked at each other, smiled and walked off, happy in the knowledge the English were inbred buffoons.

Narita Airport.

Currently being refurbished

Currently being refurbished

Now I’ve heard a lot about Japan and When I landed I was expecting big things. I wanted to be taken from the plane to baggage collection by Imperial Shuttle, if not teleportation, then have my retina scanned for entry rather than show my passport. None off this happened. I walked about 15 miles from the plane to baggage, waited by the baggage carousel which was normal and not a robot who brought your bag to you personally, then queued to give my passport to a grizzled old Japanese lady, who smiled and then dropped it. In fairness the airport is going through refurbishment so I’m assuming they are cleaning the teleporters?

I had booked a place to stay on AirB&B and caught the train to the nearest stop......at least thats what i thought I’d done, but instead got the one before that train and whistled past my stop and into central Tokyo before I realised my mistake. Luckily there were more guards on this train than the ones that used to run to Auschwitz and all the staff were very helpful and got be back on track (ahem..i thank you), and back to my station in no time.

Ill finish with a quick bit about the house I’m in. It’s a private house and the guy had a Winch to get my bergan to the next floor (seriously). Everything is electronic and hi tech and i love it (by pressing one button in my room i tested the whole houses fire alarms at about 03;00 this morning, for which the owner obviously approved of my safety consciousness.

Toilets.

Champion the wonder bog

Champion the wonder bog

Not sure if you’ve heard, but the toilets in japan are AMAZING...fully electronic, they raise the lid as you approach and its all push button stuff. On arrival I pressed a button and got a jet of water in the face, then realised you should be sitting to do that; you can adjust the power of the jet to...I immediately tried full power (as you obviously would), and have been limping slightly for the past 3 hours.


Onwards....


Dave Mills Continental Drift Days 207-220.....Sitrep

 Day 9 of Zero to Hero.!

Firstly my apologies, I posted this blog a week ago but to the wrong page and to get it back to here has taken a small excercise in physics!!!  Not that anyone at all cares! 

Hello one and all and welcome to my life on Koh Tao.

Now I’ve been here a while and I have settled in I will try and bring you all up to date on what has been occurring!

Koh Tao Location  

Koh Tao Location 

 Soooo, I’m currently on the island of Koh Tao which is situated in the Gulf of Thailand and is approximately due south of Bangkok (please see map right).  Tao (I can call it Tao now rather than Koh Tao, as I’ve been here a while and I am now hip & trendy enough to be able to do so), is the northern most island in a chain of islands which are ‘Koh Samui, Phangnan & Tao’. Samui is the southern most island and also the biggest; it is a very popular resort and offers everything that you can expect to experience in Thailand..it’s a beautifull place and very popular with tourists.

Phangnan is very famous worldwide for the ‘FullMoon and Halfmoon’ parties. These take place on the appropriate days each month and it are massive parties that go on all night on the beach and in the jungle (see video below). It’s a short boat ride from Samui over to Phangnan and (depending on which boat company you use), another 45 mins to get to Tao.

 Koh tao is the smallest of the 3 islands and also the furthest north. It is basically a divers island and for this reason, is why I am here. For those who dont know, my daughter came out to Koh Tao a few years ago with the aim of becoming a diving instructor...and having visited the islaland in order to visit her, I developed a massive pang of jealousy and really wanted to come and do it myself. As I started my trip around the world, I had it in my mind that I would pause here and learn to dive properly and maybe go down the instructor route, but my dads illness made me reconsider the imeadiate future and i decided to do it now rather than a bit later.

 I decided to use the same dive resort as my daughter had, as I knew the setup and one or two of the people who worked here. It is the biggest resort on the island and is called ‘Bans’; it produces the most amount of qualified divers per resort, than any other dive school in the world per year. I also sort of knew the guy who runs the ‘Dive Master’ program for Bans and he is an ex Paratrooper from the UK, so has a similarly warped and twisted mind as I do

Bans Beach from...or ‘the office’  

Bans Beach from...or ‘the office’ 

So I have started the route towards becoming a diving instructor, but that point is way off in the distance yet and there is a lot to learn and plenty of experience needs to be gained. I am doing the PADI route to gain qualifications, which stands for ‘Professional Association of Diving Instructor’s’ and has a course structure laid out, in order to take you from novice all the way to cape & speedo’s wearing super hero, who can dive safely and professionally and impart the knowledge of their marvellousness onto others. The course structure is “Open Water Diver”, ‘Advanced Open Water’ ‘Rescue Diver’ and in koh tao these are each a 2 1/2 day course (in the UK and some other parts of the world it can take a long time to do one of these course due to weather conditions and open water locations safe enough to take novice divers into...on koh tao the conditions and environment are perfect all year round..hence why its ‘Dive Island’). Each of the first two course teaches you the basic skills you need to dive and then builds on them allowing you to dive deeper and safer.

 

I had completed my Open water and Advance on previous visits to Tao, so I did a skills review (practice my drills and equipment use) in the pool, then a few fun dives and then went into my Rescue divers course, where you learn how to deal with so emergencies that could occur whilst diving. It was a great couple of days and we were busy dealing with casualties on the boat, on the waters surface and under the waves. It helped that with me on the course were 3 guy from Israel who are all ex military and so once again share all of my mental deficiencies and idiosyncrasies! They are Kyle, Jonas and Bar and are all mid twenties and as fit as you like, so I’m constantly walking round sucking my gut in and trying (but failing miserably), not to be in the ‘fat at the back club’. However 3 better guys to go through the course with I could not have asked for and we do have some good laughs and share the common bond that exists between squaddies everywhere.

 So having completed my rescue course I could now begin the “Dive Master’ program, which takes you from a competent but inexperienced diver and turns you into someone who has mastered the art of diving and is beginning to use their skills to help qualified instructors teach people who are at the start of the process.

Life is great, the island is beautiful, I’m relaxed and happy...I am in paradise and have a tank of air strapped to my back...I’m with people who share a passion and have a similar outlook on life. Also Koh tao is part of the migratory route for whale sharks (bloody big ‘fisheys’) who if your lucky, you may get to see at some of the dive sites around the island....I must be lucky as I saw one within 30 seconds of jumping in the water on my first dive....should have bought a lottery ticket that day!! (See video below)

Onwards...... 

Dave Mills Continental Drift Days 205-207........(Day 1 of Zero to hero!).

Hello, welkomen, Bienvenu, Howdy, now then & Ayup.

My Dad on the day he returned home...loves ya dad x

My Dad on the day he returned home...loves ya dad x

 

If Anyone has been reading this......anyone at all......you may have noticed a slight gap since the last time I wrote in the captains log. In my last writings I had arrived in Beijing and had survived having everyone and their dog trying to rip me off due to the obvious mug handle on the side of my head! 

PUSB!  

PUSB! 

If you had been following my trip you will know my father had taken ill and I had made the decision to return to the UK, in order to assist in my dad coming out of hospital and settling back into life at home after having suffered a stroke. I have been back home for a month exactly and have seen my dad making great progress in his recovery and he is a credit to the human spirit and its ability to bounce back.  Whilst home I also managed to catch up with a lot of friends, watch my beloved Coventry City FC play a number of games in their persuit of world dominance, take a quick trip out to my pad in Portugal which incorporated a memorable night out with my next door neighbors and a birthdaying Irish fella....I also had a really big think about things!

  Portugal Posse..

 Portugal Posse..

 

Whilst I had been journeying across the european and Asian continents, I had made the decision that I wanted to become a diving instructor and basically live a peaceful life on beaches and below the waves. This came about from taking my daughter to Thailand  a few years ago, so she could do exactly that (I’m now following in my daughters footsteps!). I had decided I would do the training as part of this trip, once I’d pushed through China, Laos and Cambodia. However having been home I decided to slightly reverse things and go straight to Thailand...... for two reasons..1) I could get back to the UK quickly if things at home deemed it nessasary and 2) I could bounce to Laos etc when I needed to do border runs for a Visa and see all the ancient locations I have planned. 

SO!!!!! To cut a long story short, 3 days ago I flew back out to Thailand, landed in Bangkok, slept, then flew to island of Koh Tao where I am going to transform from ‘Zero to Hero’ and become a diving instructor, complete with ‘Ray Ban’s’ and sun tan!.

I liken this slight change in plans for my round the world jaunt, similar to what happened to Ted Simon during his around the world trip on a motorbike, as is immortalised in the book ‘Jupiters Travels’ (excellent book..a big influence on my expedition & also the ‘Long way round’ by Ewan Mcgreggor and the tit he went with!). Ted planned his journey to last 2 years then ended up spending 2 years living in a hippie commune in the states before cracking on again, taking 4 years in total!.

Excellent Read!  

Excellent Read! 

Today was my first day back under the water and, as days go, it was a damm fine one. I did a skills review in the morning to brush up on my skills and drills (I’m already an advanced diver....sun tan, no shades!), then a 30 meter dive and a shallower one in the afternoon. In true fashion I excelled at being a biff....on the first dive, as I jumped in, I forgot to hold my weights belt and BCD (dive vest), which was pointed out by the instructor, then as I entered the water my left fin came off and nearly exited stage left!....In an attempt to rectify these mistakes on the second dive, I held my belt, BCD and made a clean entry but forgot my hand over my mask, which meant it was sat at 45 degrees across my face once I surfaced!!...“I may be at the ‘zero’ phase for some considerable time!!”

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However...within 5 minutes of being in the water on the first dive, we encountered a “Whale Shark”, so all thoughts of being a complete muppet vanished as that magnificent beast swam amongst the watching divers and gave everyone a truly amazing experience!!

 

Currently having problems posting pics and video but the link to the video of the whale shark is here  

 https://youtu.be/3bCyC_6Kuo0

 

Onwards.... 

 

Dave Mills Continental Drift. Days 200 - 204

  RIP TILEY!!

 RIP TILEY!!

My stay in Ulaanbaatar was ok but uneventful really. The beauty of Mongolia lies in the vast rolling openness of the country and not, in my humble opinion, the capital or any of its towns / cities. It has pretty much the same shops as most western cities and outside the centre you can find all manner of Branded and non-branded goods. One major downer that I suffered was finding I had lost my Tiley Hat!!! The green Tiley hat I have been wearing is a beautiful thing…it has a lifetime guarantee if damaged etc but this unfortunately does not cover it being left somewhere by a biff like myself. I THINK it may be somewhere in drug dealer blokes car but I’m not 100% sure. A new Tiley hat has gone to the number 1 spot on things to buy on my short return to home (also with that go boots and trousers as both are falling to pieces!).

I caught the night train from the capital out towards the border with china. It travels across the Gobie Desert which is a beauty to behold. It’s rolling plains stretch to the horizon with just some very low grass / vegetation as a slight covering. I watched the desert roll past for an hour until it got dark and then had a reasonable sleep. I did have to laugh at the Chinese guy on the top bunk opposite who was not afraid to let a good rip roaring fart go, even if he was in a packed carriage and I even had an urge to join in but the ‘iffy guts’ situation is still not 100% resolved and I didn’t want to risk it!.

The next morning we crossed the border after another 2 hours check on the Mongolian side before leaving the country; in comparison the checks on the Chinese side went …”passport please…thank you….enjoy your stay In China” an apart from electronic fingerprints, that was it!!

The border town on the Chinese side is Erlian or also known as Ernehot . I presume (but we know what presumption did), that it has grown purely because of the border crossing point and also the fact that it is a major point for palaeontology, with a major fossils location just outside the town. It’s not a big city at all and has been built on a grid system. You could walk one end of the city to the other in less than an hour and less than half our width wise. It is a bit ‘Stepford Wives’ in that its immaculate, the cars do not go above 20-25mph (which is a good job as EVERYONE just pulls out or turns without looking), and it seems everyone owns a shop! (Don’t forget this is in the middle of the Gobie desert).

The fossil area has been turned into ‘Dinosaurs Land’ and I am again presuming that when it opened they had very grand ideas of a themed park type affair that would attract thousands of visitors…unfortunately they may have forgotten that they are in the middle of the Gobie Desert and the only people there the locals and a train passing through every 2-3 days. I visited the park and enjoyed myself wandering the site; it has areas where they have uncovered many fossils and have left the pits open and built structures over them to preserve the finds. I enjoyed the place and would recommend that if you ever find yourself in the middle of the Gobie Desert and have a spare couple of hours on your hands that you need to fill before dying of thirst, then the Dinosaurs wonderland on the Chinese / Mongolian Border could help take your mind of impending doom!

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I looked for accomodation online before I left Mongolia and found a very cheap hotel right on the edge of the city. I wondered what it would be like as it was Uber cheap compared to those in the centre …17 minute walk away!...wen I got there it was fantastic, the hotel was excellent, the staff brilliant and I basically had the place to myself….it was top draw.

I caught the night sleeper bus the Beijing and it took just less than 12 hours; I arrived in the capital this morning whilst still dark and had no idea where I was. I also had no internet as the “great firewall of China’ is basically stopping 99% of every app I have on iPhone – iPad working. Now for those clever sods who are saying ‘well….You need a VPN which will allow you access to everything’……well I bloody well bought one and its still not bloody working.

I took 2 tuc tuc rides which both took me to the same places (which were closed), and had one minor disagreement with one of the drivers who wanted to charge me enough to retire with; luckily enough being fat and ugly sometimes works in your favour and when I told him to go forth and multiply etc, he seemed happy to do so!

I have done some exploring today and will hit the centre tomorrow before pushing onto the airport for an early flight back to Blighty on Saturday.

THIS IS NOT THE END of this trek by any means…family comes first and I have to go back to see my dad and help where I can …BUT it will return to Beijing in the near future and continue….and I ill have a new Tiley Hat!


Onwards.

Dave Mills Continental Drift Days 170-175

From Altai to Baikal…..(Part 1).

Lake Baikal, Eastern Siberia  

Lake Baikal, Eastern Siberia 

After a great experience in Altai, it came to that time where I had  to move on again and it was at this point that the network of people who had colluded to get me to Altai in the first place, came together and started to sort the logistics of getting me back to Novocusnetz in order to push on to Irkutsk.

I have to Thank Natalia and Dimitri for the outstanding present that they gave me, of 2 handmade & painted wooden plaques (made by Natalia) …thank you guys xxx

So on the Sunday at approximately midday, I was collected from right outside the admin building of the camp at Mazherok, for a lift which had be organised for me by Mikail (Crazy mad Russian Driver from Biysk). The car was full but there was a young lad on board who spoke English, and via him I had many questions fired at me about my trip and England etc. Great people and the trip flew past even with the large amount of traffic jams..... which were caused by 2 things

1) The amount of people leaving Altai after the weekend and heading back to the cities.

2) The fact that there are very many crazy mad Russian Drivers on the roads and all of the traffic jams were caused by accidents, with most involving at least 3 or more vehicles….Honestly these mothers are crazy!

It was also strange to see how a lot of the countryside we passed through looked exactly like England!! 

  Siberia???    

 Siberia???

 

When we arrived in Biysk who was waiting for me but Mikail himself. Not only had this excellent bloke (and don’t forget I only met him briefly when he was the driver of a lift arranged for me by Ksenia), organised the first lift to back to Biysk but was also going to host me at his apartment that night, before sending me on my merry way the next morning to Novosibirsk to meet the trans Siberian Express to head towards Irkutsk.

Firstly we went to visit Mikails son who was in hospital with a broken arm….slightly different to the UK where your arm gets put in plaster and off you go. In Russia with kids (he was about 13-14), they keep you in hospital for 3-4 weeks!!! After the visit we went out to buy some food for the meal that Mikail was going to cook that night, and in true Russian styleee it was going to be a feast.

At Mikail’s apartment we had a visit from his mother (who lives in the Block opposite), and came over to see the English bloke her son had stopping in his apartment (she did not believe him). Mikail had bought me a scarf from the company he works for and I promised him I would take it with me and send him pictures from all the places I stayed on my trip.

Mikails Scarf

Mikails Scarf

Mikail made fish for the night as well as a number of other dishes and obviously this was swilled down with beer we had collected from the beer shop (Mikail doesn’t drink vodka, which makes me question if he is actually Russian??). He also made a very good Borsch soup, which during this trip is something I’ve discovered I have a particularly taste for. It was a great meal and a nice evening and Mikail, I thank you very much my friend.

The next day was an early start to meet the next lift Mikail had arranged which took me back to Novosibirsk. Once there had a relaxing 5 hour wait before I met ‘Trans Siberian Express” which would take me to Irkutsk. Now Irkutsk is a name I remember from back in the day, when I was the undisputed ‘Risk’ champion of A company 2RRF!! (If you wanted to take and hold Aisa, you had to be strong in Irkutsk!).

So began a two day train journey. I have taken a number of trains whilst in Russia during the World Cup and you always got a 4 person carriage. On this trip I had booked into the 3rd class sleeping compartment, purely to ‘give it a try’.  Despite being a long trip it was pleasant and I quite enjoyed the company, as people came and went from the bunks around me. I basically spent 2 days lying down though and was more than happy to get off by the time we arrived. One thing about these trips is that you may spend up to an hour in some stations as you pass through; during this time everyone gets off and wanders the platform buying food and drink etc from the vendors there.

After 2 days I arrived fresh and ready to explore Irkutsk (a bit of a lie there as I was knackered). Luckily enough though, to get me out of my lethargy I had to have a root canal filled, due to a previous filling parting company with my tooth....I have to say though, it was the best dentistry I’ve ever had, I literally felt nothing.

During the time I have been writing this I have received some bad news from home. There is every possibility that my journey will have to be suspended / aborted….Gutted in many ways!

 

Onwards....? :0( 

Dave Mills Continental Drift Days 170 - 171....Altai

 Altai Holiday Days 3-6

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Day 3

After a good nights sleep we had a breakfast in our little hut and headed off to do that days activities. Firstly we drove to a small lake that has the most crystal clear water in it and some really beautiful patterns on the bottom that look like eyes (see pictures), we then pushed on again through the rolling tundra to see a place called “red Mountain’, which is a geological formation that is some beautiful shades of red.

It was whirls driving here that Constantine asked me if I still had my key with me from the room the night before. I told him I had and he informed me I should have handed it back before we left (all in broken English). I had left all of my kit in the room which was apparently the wrong decision as we were not supposed to be going back there!!! This was just one of the issues from the communication problem, but hey……if that was the worst to happen, then its not really a problem. The rest of the day we moved between different locations seeing lots of the area and its unique sights.

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We did a circle and passed the location where I had left my stuff so that problem was solved and the late afternoon turned into a bit of a singsong on the wagon, as Sasha and Yulia 1 went through the entire back catalog of Russian classic national songs. It was a mellow and fun day but by the end I was tired and Sasha’s non stop talking and singing slowly moved from ‘quirky and entertaining’ to ‘annoying and deserves a throat punch’. I think I got my revenge later though, as we were all  sleeping in one room and I think I went into full on snore mode, which I’m sure everyone will have found to be as much fun as the 373rd rendition of a Russian nationalistic Ballard.

Day 4

Today was white water rafting day.

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After a mellow breakfast we mover a few kilometres to the point where we were going to Launch the the rafts from. A couple of instructors had driven out in from Mazherok in the early morning and bought the boat and all kit required. The guy who was going to be in charge of our boat was a chap called Ivan and he was built like a brick shitehouse and looked like he could rip your face and arms off without even thinking about it and then use your fingers to pick his teeth with (of which a fair few were missing). He was however an excellent bloke and handled the boat through the rapids with expertise of someone who knows them like the back of his hand. I can say without reservation it was a truly marvellous day and one I will remember until I pop my clogs. The river, rapids, company and overall beauty of the area was mesmerising.

We had no dramas and successfully navigated all the rapids we went through, under Ivan’s instruction….’he would shout “russ”, which I eventually figured out wasn’t him shouting to his mate Russell, but the order to Row!  If we were going through a tricky rapid his shouts would have more of an edge to them…”RUSS!!” And trust me we ‘russed’ for all we were worth, before arms went missing etc.

At the end of a great day we ate a meal on the banks of the river then drove back to Mazerok arriving tired but happy just before midnight.

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Day 5

A well deserved lie in was followed by a light walk into the hills around the Mazherok area which we used a speed boat to get to. A nice and easy day yet still incorporating some beautiful scenery; we also visited a cave system in one of the nearby mountains and then went on a cable car to the top of one of the winters ski slopes. Pleasant and chilled day after the few previous days full on.

Day 6

Another drive today of 200km to get to lake Travisi (I’m saying it how it sounds, the spelling may be incorrect), which is the second biggest fresh water lake in Russia after lake Baikal (which I’m currently heading to as I type this...as i finish this I’m at Baikal lake and trust me Travisi lake is a puddle compared to Baikal!!). Once there we went in fast motor boats out onto the lake to a location on one of the distant shores. Once there we alighted the boats and went for a short walk to a waterfall where we posed for the customary pictures. It was a nice and pleasant afternoon powering around on the lake and was a really nice and relaxing way to end a very enjoyable week.

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Onwards....... 

Dave Mills Continental Drift.....Search for Gornaya Shoria!!

Day 158 – 165 (Part 1)....lots more to come as I’ve been unable to post!!

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Day 159 saw me out and about in Novosibirsk again, generally wandering around and taking in the sights. I did have a late lunch at a Restaurant called ‘Biblioteka’, which is owned by a lady called Natalia. She is a very interesting lady who has worked in the Restaurant trade for a number of year in various locations worldwide, and has now returned to Siberia and started her own place, which is where I was eating. She had organised a nice surprise for me, in that she allowed me to make my own ice cream using liquid nitrogen, which was a great experience (see video), thanks Natalia.

I had organised to move down to a location called ‘Sheregesh’, which was about 700km south of Novosibirsk, and had arranged an overnight bus to get me there. Well that was an experience! It was your normal everyday coach and I was sat next to a guy who should also have paid for half of my seat, because he certainly occupied it along with his own! Most of you will not know this, but I suffer from ‘Disco Leg’ (restless leg syndrome), whenever I try to go to sleep sitting up. It makes long trips on any form of transport a complete pain in the arse, as I normally arrive completely knackered. Basically within about a minute of nodding off to sleep my legs go into spasm and it wakes me up (feels very weird).

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Now I may be wrong but I think the large chap occupying half of my seat, may have suffered from ‘Disco arm’, as he would jerk awake with his left arm shooting up in the air. It seems our strange individual quirks fell into sync with each other, as, when I fell asleep, my leg would go into breakdance mode waking me up which then immediately triggered fat bloke into some ‘Night Fever’ disco moves with his left arm….this must have looked blood strange to anyone sat near us and I know for a fact I heard a few giggles after a couple of our ‘Grease the Musical’ routines!

After 12 hours of dancing, we arrived in Sheregesh, which is a very small town hidden in the depth of Siberia. I had booked a hostel for a couple of days and was very much looking forward to some sleep but, as has happened many times during this trip, the place I had booked was not at the location its shown on its webpage, and no one was answering the phone or replying to texts or e mails. I wandered aimlessly for a while and ended up back at the point the hostel was shown on google maps, just to check if it had materialised in the 15 minutes since I had last been there. I saw a guy stood outside and approached him and showed him the e mail confirmation I had for the booking. He tried to call the hostel for me but also had no joy. Then (again as so often has happened), the guy signalled to follow him, walked inside the building that was supposed to be the hostel, and showed me a double ensuite room that was part of the small hotel he was manager of! He said it would be about £1.20 per night more than the hostel I had booked, so I said “yes thank you very much please thank you please”. I dropped my kit, hit the sack and woke up 8 hours later with a bladder that was pushing my eyes out of my ears.

It turns out that Sergi (the hotel manager), was just a goddam excellent bloke. Not only did he sort me a place to kip, the next day he set about trying to solve the problem of getting me to the Gornaya Shoria Megaliths, which I had basically dragged my arse half way round the world to see.

This proved to be an extremely difficult task, as the information of the exact locations of the megaliths is both sparse and conflicting. However Sergi called Physics professors, archaeologists, local guides and anyone he could think of, in an attempt to get the exact co-ordinates. The trouble is …..is that it’s a massive area and there are very many similar formations all over that particular region, so trying to identify which one was the place I wanted, from the grainy videos on ‘YouTube’ was very difficult.

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Sergie found a local guide called ‘Nikita’ (“oh Nikita is it cold…in your little corner of the world etc”), and he explained that he could take me to a couple of places nearby which maybe what I was looking for, so it was organised for a couple of days trekking to visit these locations.

The next day we set off into the hills, along with a family, in order to check the first location. It was a great days walking and really allowed me to view and get a feeling for the area that is known as ‘Gornaya Shoria’….and it really is huge!!. I could see that there were many hilltop features that had similar characteristics to the location I’m looking for and this obviously leads to the thinking that, purely on the numbers game, they must be natural formations??

The first day was great but the location did not have as many of the ‘straight line, 90 degree angles’ that had made me sit up and take notice in the first place, when seen on YouTube. Nikita was excellent and did some of his own investigative work and felt that the site from a previous expedition could be considerably north of our current site, but could not say definitively?. We made a plan for a second day on the hills and pushed towards a location we could clearly see from atop the first days objective.

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Day 2

The second days walking was equally as enjoyable and bought me to a location that had many similar features of the place I was looking for. It was very interesting to look around and I will write a separate piece about the whole Gornaya Shoria location and megaliths. I will say that I cannot disprove the ‘null hypothesis’, that they are anything other than natural formations, but I do have to say that EVERY time I looked at the structures I could picture them as the ruins of a VERY VERY ancient structure, of which the original shape and purpose has been forever lost to the ravages of time. This fanciful thinking however, has no place in a decision making process based purely on palpable fact.

In Order to try and ascertain if this site, and others within the Gornaya Shoria region, were something other than geological features, would take a sizeable and well equipped expedition which could analyse rock samples, deploy ground penetrating radar, produce detailed and accurate maps and compare data from almost every location in that vast area. And a very basic starter would be knowing the exact location of previously considered locations

It was with this thought in mind and also a question from Nikita that lead to me considering my plans for the week. My original plan was to spend the week in search of the Gornaya Megaliths I had seen on many videos (see YouTube video attached), but with it being such a vast area, the chances of finding it were limited. Nikita was not available every day and he asked my what I was going to do for the 5 days that I would have to kill before heading back to Novosibirsk. This thought combined with my inability to rustle up a well stocked and funded expedition in those 5 days, lead to a radical change of plan!

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Onwards

Dave Mills Continental Drift Day 160

 HOW TO MAKE ICE CREAM, SIBERIAN STYLE

Please see the Videos below of me making Ice cream, in the ‘Bibliotek’ Resturant, in Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia. A massive thanks to the lovely proprietor Natalia x