Best of 2017

my top 16

I took inspiration from Martin Bailey’s annual “top ten” process to go through all my 2017 pictures and choose the best ones. I decided to select a total of 16, eight in black an white and eight in colour.

selection process

I organize all photos and videos in Adobe Lightroom for a number of years already. So it is the easiest was to do this journey in Lightroom.

  1. choose all pictures taken in 2017. Total # of frames 1340. The total count in LR was 1500, the difference is made up by pictures taken by other people that I store with permission (eg a purchase)
  2. exclude all “holiday snap shots”, selfies and the like. This reduced the selection to about 200
  3. remove photos which are “nice to look at” (whatever that means…), but have some other flaws. For instance, disturbing elements that I didn’t want or cannot remove.. This got me down to app 55 frames.These are the 55 chosen ones at step 3:
  4. Then it got difficult. First, I removed either the BW or the Color pictures for those where I kept both in the 55 list above. That got me down to about 30.
  5. Then I removed photos where the initial “yes” turned out to be more of a “wow that was a great filter effect”. Down to about 24.
  6. Then it got really, really difficult. I removed those which I thought just don’t have any “umpf” for me. Down to 18.
  7. Then I asked my two trusted in-house experts for their choice, i.e. they helped me to eliminate two more.
    AND HERE WE ARE – THE FINAL 16

oooofff, that was really, really, really difficult and such a pleasure to do!

I will go through each image in detail in a few separate blog posts, providing some thoughts about each image and some technical considerations (camera, settings, post processing)



 

Sharp Peak, Hong Kong – what a hike!

Chapter 1 – November 2000

Walking and scrambling up Sharp Peak is one of the most beautiful and adventurous hikes in Hong Kong! 

An ascent from Tse Uk over the northern ridge,  that I did in November 2000 (yes, it was in the year 2000!!!!) still is fresh in my memory. A longish, demanding walk, was rewarded with fantastic views over the Sai Kung peninsula and the South China sea, and good food at Ham Tin beach.

Two memories from 2000:

 

Chapter 2 – November 2017

Fast forward to November 2017. I was in Hong Kong for a business trip and nagged “my” hiking gang for a weekend hike. I almost dropped my phone when I read “Sharp Peak” on our WhatsApp group! So Sharp Peak it will be again after 17 years!

We climbed Sharp Peak from Pak Tam Au via the Western ascent – views spectacular and myself elated like a baby once on the peak. A bit of show off time here: no problem whatsoever to ascend Sharp Peak.

The compulsory lunch stop at Ham Tin beach, a quick walk back to Check Keng, from where a fast boat took us to the bus terminus at Wong Shek. Excellent crowd management by the local masters – thank you 🙂

So 17 years later, that’s how I look:

The view from Sharp Peak over Ham Tin beach (yeah,,, its a little over-filtered….)

Thanks to the Hong Kong hiking gang, who made this memory-refresh possible! The fingers point at Sharp Peak, btw..

….and in 2017 we take the selfies with a drone:

some pics courtesy of HC



 

Megrow Consulting is Going for Year 3!

and now… for a little advertisement:

I keep business and pleasure separate on the web and social media. However,  the 2nd birthday of my consulting company, Megrow Pte Ltd, deserves a mention here!

Have a look at the company website by clicking on the company logo:

megrow-logo


achtung – unterbrecherwerbung!

Ich trenne Beruf und Privatleben ziemlich strikt, wenn’s um soziale Medien und Web-Präsenz geht.

Eine Ausnahme: meine Beratungsfirma Megrow Pte Ltd ist zwei Jahre alt geworden!

Ein Klick aufs Logo bringt Dich zur Megrow Homepage:

megrow-logo

 

 

 

 



 

Pisa ohne Pizza

Three days in Tuscany – everything goes, except pizza and insalata caprese! Why that? Those two dishes are omnipresent where we live, so really really no point coming all the way to Italy and then eat that standard fare…

PISA and Luca

The towns are pleasantly small, have plenty of sights and yes, we did that “I hold the leaning tower selfie”.

After visitor’s rush hour, Pisa calms down quite a bit, the streets are not that crowded anymore, one can hear people speaking local dialect and order a tramezzino and a glass of wine and just chill for a moment under the shades of the shopping arcades. And a proper café for one Euro is a constant seduction.

Livorno

..barely 20 mins by train from Pisa, is a different world: the sea, some canals, a lot of strict and straight 60ies and 70ies architecture, the HQ of Italy’s communist party and the even tramezzini have a special local name. And the café @ EUR 1.- remains the constant.

Firenze

Oh dear, but then Florence… Waves of profusely sweaty people make their ways from the train station via the Duomo, the Uffizi to the Ponte Vecchio and back. No reservation for the Dome’s cupola, then you can stare at it from outside! We decide for a work-out and climb the campanile; no surprise the narrow staircase isn’t that crowed and the views from the top are super worth the effort!! I’ll do that again any moment. We continue with the flow, pay respect to the God of selfies, lots of sweat, some snacks (and a café… just in case I haven’t mentioned that before) and a pay visit to the barbiere for a clean, professional shave. I don’t think I heard a single word Italian during the few hours we spent in Florence…

Food Porn

No post is complete without it:



 

adding to the list …. show-off time

A plan is a plan is a plan.

Walked up the highest mountains of two Swiss Kantons (“province”) Basel-Land and Jura in 2016. July 2017 brought an opportunity to scale the highest mountain of Kanton Solothurn.

The “Hasenmatt” (loosely translated as “rabbit’s meadow”) is 1445 meters above sea level at the south eastern ridges of the Jura mountain range.

The hike starts in Gaensbrunnen, a hamlet at 734 meters above sea level, and climbs gently and steadily on a well trotten path. About half of the ascent is through forest, great aircon and shade for a hot day! Early morning, hardly anybody is around, the peace and quietness is interrupted only by the sound of our steps, the chatters and the occasional sound of a cow bell.

Walking at a good, but not rushed pace, it took us 1 hour and 45

minutes to reach the top.

 

On a clear day one should see the Swiss Alps as well, the luck wasn’t ours, though.

Over lush Jura meadows we continued for another hour+ to reach Weissenstein. The closer we got to Weissenstein, the more hikers we encountered. The place is so popular, that if you plan to do a BBQ at one of the official sites, you need to be there very early and occupy a place. Reminds me of traveler’s reports about reserving a spot on the beach with your towel early morning!

The “greens” and “yellows” are simply amazing, so much beauty in nature!

No post is complete without a few eery black and white pictures, so here you go:

 

So, another “tick” on the 26 summits list. A few easy ones remain (Zuerich, Zug, Schaffhausen, Geneva, Sankt Gallen and Zug), afterwards we get into mountaineering territory to complete the list.



 

Another Volcano ?? – YES YES Mount Pinatubo…

the plan

ohhh lucky me… whilst taking a lunch break during work, I casually asked a friend whether “doing Pinatubo” over the weekend is an option and yes – a decision was taken quickly. What is so special about Pinatubo? Simply put, the 1991 eruption was the Earth’ second largest volcanic eruption recorded in the 20th century – background reading is here.

Two hours drive to the North of Manila is Santa Juliana, the base camp for any Mount Pinatubo excursion. The normal “climbing” route is to sit on a 4×4, being shaken and not stirred, from the village to the actual starting point of the hike. Then walk 3km uphill to the crater, take a few pictures and waddle back down. 

We stayed here, highly recommended, rooms are spacious and clean, nice garden to chill out in, and Alvin got everything organised for us!

the hike

The actual hike is a moderate uphill, 3 kilometres walk each way and about 200 meters of altitude difference, so not a very big deal. The dark, worm-like line in the pic below shows the route from the 4×4 parking lot up to the crater.

the starting point

the challenge

This sign board indicates the expected hiking time for the last kilometre of the climb. Of course, I had to have a go at it just to proof something to myself…. 

I managed to speed walk the stretch in 12 mins 35 seconds, which age category do I belong to (yes yes I know, its a show-off…)

the crater

beautiful, isn’t it? Click on the images to show larger versions.

the selfies

Click on the images to show larger versions.

the food

After burning that many calories (actually not really that many at all….), we deserved some good local food.

day 2

After that strenuous walk, we definitely needed to take it easier on day two. Going off-road on an ATV is really easy; these things seem to go everywhere without any problems. Was it fun? Actually it was, but not something I would like to do regularly: these things are rather noisy, the engine got rather hot and likely it also isn’t very eco-friendly to plough through a riverbed…

Click on the images to show larger versions.

back at the hotel, taking care of a mountain of smelly cloth, relaxing a bit and enjoying a cold San Mig light with a freshly bbq-ed, succulent chicken. Life is beautiful, isn’t it ?

Great trip, definitely recommended and VERY doable as a one day excursion from Manila …… provided you are game to leave Manila around 0400 AM.

The 7 Summits

new aspirations

Climbing Sigunyam Mountain (5025 meters above sea level) didn’t quite work out, climbing Haba Snow Mountain (5396 meters above sea level) didn’t quite work either.

Hence, I thought it is time to adjust goals and go for more ambitious targets: the SEVEN SUMMITS. (Note: this is an entirely separate initiative from the 26 summit plans described in an earlier post.)

Such an endeavor needs a lot of preparation and training; and which place is better suited than Singapore?

I’m not a man of many words, but a man of action. Barely back from high altitude training in Yunnan, I shamelessly made use of my elevated EPO-count and scaled the highest mountain in town. I’m very proud to report that we scaled Bukit Tima “on sight” and without the aid of bottled oxygen, Sherpas and/or Yaks.

Surely that is a good start to the journey!

 

 

Adding Colour to the Yunnan Trip

The previous post about the excursion to Yunnan had a few artsy fartsy black and white picture in the gallery.

To bring balance to the universe, here are some colour pics – enjoy

Hiking and Sightseeing in Northern Yunnan, China

the plan for the 2017 adventure

After a prolonged to-and-fro, we decided to climb a rather tall-ish mountain in Yunnan. The plan was simple (at least on paper…): fly to Lijiang in Yunnan province, drive to Haba village, acclimatize for one day, walk up to the base camp (4100 meters above sea level), acclimatize for one day, summit Haba Snow Mountain (5400 meters above sea level), then back to the village, drive through the Tiger Leaping George back to Lijiang for sightseeing, hot pot and shopping.

what happened

“rain, rain go away, please come another day”…

we reached base camp, strong winds made it impossible to even have a realistic chance to summit, so we turned around a few days earlier. This summit appears to be within reach, ie no technical difficulties. We should try again in the not too distant future….

A two minutes video of our hike from Haba village up to the basecamp of Haba Snow Mountain (that is a literal translation of its Chinese name) on my YouTube channel:  HERE


The shortened trekking trip meant more time for sight-seeing and good food! Not the plan, but very enjoyable, indeed!! One of the many sites we visited, is an array of lime-stone terraces not far from Haba village. I wanted to visit this place 15 years ago when I came to Lijiang for the first time. Back then we couldn’t reach it, because our Volkswagen Passat couldn’t master the gravel road through the gorge. The place is called “White Water Terraces” (Bai Shui Tai in Chinese). This time it worked very well – have a look HERE.

the black and white gallery