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Stupidity in Norway

Thought for the day “To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven.”

“The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.”

Thinking back 12 months, my crystal ball never said that the next 12 months were going to be crazy, and that the World would be turned upside down.  But upside down they certainly are.   And in Norway, stupidity seems to be spreading too.   Take for example the bus company VKT which operates buses in Vestfold (one of the counties in Norway).   They proudly advertise on their buses that they have Wifi BUT they advise passengers that they have to log on in order to get the password.   My question to the bus company (sent by email) is how do they expect passengers to get the password to log on because you need internet to get the password in the first place.    So far, the bus company has not admitted their stupidity but whoever thought up this crazy policy deserves to be sacked.   Either he/she is very stupid or they do not want people to use the internet on board their buses.   The same bus company VKT should perhaps use that same internet (assuming that they can log on) to monitor their buses, as all four buses which I travelled on today were late.   But perhaps they do not have the password to log on……….

Today’s photo comes from the South Island town of Pembroke Wanaka in New Zealand, with the mountains of the Southern Alps in the background.   Eely Point, visible in the centre of the photo, is a popular place for bathing and also boat launching, as well as a starting point for water skiers.

and another photo from the archives

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Censorship and Freedom of Speech

Thought for the day….”Turn your face to the sun and the shadow falls behind you.”

“Striving for sucess without hard work is like trying to harvest when you have not planted.”

People often criticize countries such as China for restricting freedom of speech and people’s freedoms.    But now the governments around the World are being just as bad as any dictatorship.   Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are now censoring posts which do not comply with the official government line or which question vaccines or controls.    So even when there is scientific evidence, people are being stopped from publicly questioning governments.   And governments now are using coronavirus as an excuse to introduce all sorts of controls and restrictions on freedom that would never have been accepted before.   People fought two World Wars so that generations could have freedom, yet now those very freedoms for which they fought (and sometimes died) and being taken away by politicians.   Many, many years ago, I was taught in school an important lesson which I have never forgotten….that is to never believe everything that people tell you.   Very good advice.   So now when I see statistics then I am careful.    And when I see the likes of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube removing posts which go against what the politicians are promoting, then I am very, very suspicious.    We are already well down a very slippery slope.

Great light and mood in this photo from Glenorchy in New Zealand, looking towards the Mount Aspiring National Park and both the Dart and the Rees valleys.

and another photo from the archives, Zebras drinking at a waterhole in Namibia –

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As always, two laws, depending on who you are

Thought for the day…”Rough Diamonds may sometimes be mistaken for worthless pebbles.”

“We may pass violets looking for roses. We may pass contentment looking for victory.”

So often in life there are two sets of laws, depending on who you are and who you know.  The New Zealand government is charging NZD 3100 (about 1800 euros)  for the compulsory 2 weeks quarantine but has a quote system to limit the number of international arrivals.   Sounds fair enough to only allow in as many people as can be housed in the isolation hotels BUT, as always, some groups are getting in.    A film crew was allowed into New Zealand to make a sci-fi film as they were considered ‘essential workers’.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/121692713/political-favouritism-for-hollywood-film-crews-says-opposition-mp

This week, the NZ news is reporting that the West Indies cricket team is being allowed into Queenstown, all 28 of them –

https://www.odt.co.nz/regions/queenstown/warm-welcome-windies

Whilst there are stories in the press and on the internet about families UNABLE to get places in the isolation hotels and unable to get one of the limited places to be allowed into NZ.    Families are also being kept apart –

http://www.thesouthafrican.com/lifestyle/south-africans-delays-henco-de-beernew-zealand-quarantine/

So while families and couples are being kept apart due to the quota system for managing isolation and arrivals, a film crew is deemed to be ‘essential workers’   and 28 members of a cricket team are also allowed in.  Now in my mind that is wrong.  Very wrong.  Making a sci-fi film is NOT essential, nor is playing cricket.     But as always, there seem to be two sets of laws…….

Gone but not forgotten, this 747 of Air Pacific takes off from Nadi airport in Fiji.  It was retired from service in 2013.

and another photo from the archives…..a motorist enjoys the early morning view over Lake Wanaka, Pembroke on the South Island of New Zealand.

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South Island beauty, Southern Alps of New Zealand

Thought for the day…”Reach for the stars, even if you have to stand on a cactus”

“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”

The beauty of the South Island of New Zealand with some fantastic weather.   The river here, the Waimakariri, is one of three rivers which cut through the Southern Alps.   The main east-west road and also the trans-alpine railway follow this river for many kilometres.  In just a few km from where this photo was taken, the vegetation changes from dry grasslands and bushes to the rainforest of the (wet) West Coast.  This area was also the area where the extinct moa bird was said to have been seen by two locals in 1993, leading to a mini tourist boom.  The fact that these two locals were about to take over the running of the local pub near where the ‘moa’ had been seen may just have been coincidence !!   Nowadays you are more likely to see fishermen by the river and hunters in the hills after wild boar or deer.

and another photo from the archives…an intense stare from this boy in a market in Sri Lanka

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“Its because of coronavirus”

Thought for the day…..”Too many people miss the silver lining because they’re expecting gold.”

“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”

Far too  many companies are now trying to excuse their own inefficiencies with the excuse that “it is because of coronavirus”.      Airlines in particular seem to be especially bad at the moment, and their excuse is always “coronavirus”.     Same story with a lot of other companies too.  Emails are going unanswered and customer ‘service’ is falling even more.    Given that a lot of people can work online from home for things like refunds and answering emails then the coronavirus excuse is wearing very thin now.

Airlines such as SAS and Norwegian Air Shuttle (both of whom seem to be ignoring emails for months) are not going to see my money for a long time.

But in the long term these companies are going to lose.    Companies (such as airlines) which are now failing to reply promptly are going to lose some or all of my business.  The World is still turning, despite coronavirus, and businesses cannot use coronavirus as an excuse for everything.

And staying in Switzerland, a Piper Cub seaplane on the Brienzersee during a recent seaplane meeting.  The village of Ringgenberg is in the background.

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Lufthansa German Airlines group and Economy class travel

Thought for the day…”Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.”

“A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with, the wind.”

Too many companies are using coronavirus as an excuse now.   Often it is being used to cover up their own failures but the excuse of coronavirus is being overused.   Joining the bandwagon of companies blaming (conveniently) coronavirus is the Lufthans group (LH) airlines.    Now this is why I am getting angry…..according to Lufthansa, they are no longer giving ECONOMY class passengers tea, coffee or food on flights of less than 150 minutes.  This is to protect “your health and the health of our employees”

https://www.lufthansa.com/ch/en/current-onboard-services#short-haul

BUT if you are travelling Business class then you will still get food and drink.   Now would the managers at Lufthansa like to tell me why Business class passengers are not seen as any risk whereas Economy class passengers are seen as a risk?   Or is the real reason that Lufthansa just wants to save money and is conveniently using coronavirus as an excuse to make further cuts to Economy class services?   I know which answer my money is on.   And also why do Lufthansa no longer service food when other airlines ARE still serving food to economy class passengers?

Companies should stop trying to blame coronavirus for everything.  Be honest with customers, and if you are going to cut out meals and drinks for Economy class passenger then BE HONEST and tell us the real reason….to save money.   Do not try and blame it on coronavirus.  We are not stupid.

And another photo from the archives, Ometepe in Nicaragua at sunset….

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RESPECT, CONSIDERATION  &  FAIRNESS

Go Pro Be Gone

Thought for the day    “Too many people miss the silver lining because they’re expecting gold.”

“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”

Go Pro make some good action cameras.   But so do a lot of other companies (such as Garmin, which I own).   My recent experience of GoPro Customer ‘service’ has made me determined that I will never buy a Go Pro product.   Indeed, GoPro and Customer ‘service’ should not be used in the same sentence, as if you have tried to resolve anything with them online then you will know that ‘service’ is probably the opposite of what you will receive.   Can you imagine an international company that REFUSES to accept emails?   This is the 21st century, yet Go Pro will nicely send you an email telling you that they do not accept emails.  How stupid is that?     And if you dare to try their online chat (only available during certain hours), apart from the unhelpful ‘assistants’ (and that is the wrong word for them) then you may find that the conversation conveniently (for Go Pro) gets cut off.   So they refuse to accept emails and their online chat will leave you searching for some (unprintable) words.

So the end result of all this frustration and failed emails…..I will not be buying anymore Go Pro cameras.  Plenty of good alternatives out there (such as InstaOne and Garmin).   If Go Pro will not accept emails then they will not be seeing any of my money.  Bad customer service drives customers away, and it has done.   Go Pro be gone.

Two photos from Stavanger in Western Norway for the pictures today.   The first photo is of the Old Town which is next to the harbour.    Normally these streets would be full of tourists and visitors from cruise ships, but because of coronavirus, are mercifully quiet at the moment.   Add to that Spring sunshine and it is easy to get some great photos.

and staying in Stavanger for another photo, interesting shapes and colours on the waterfront.  Both photos taken with the Fuji X-T30 camera and 18-55mm kit lens.

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Chapter 1 Vanlife begins

Thought for the day…..”If you count all your assets you always show a profit.”

“Life Always offers you a second chance. It’s called tomorrow”.

Chapter 1.    Vanlife begins.    Despite having previously owned a campervan, the urge was always there to try building one for myself.    Buying a ready-made campervan is easy, but it is always a compromise.  Compromises in the long run usually make everybody unhappy.   And given that I have a non-standard lifestyle, then a standard campervan was never going to work…sort of round peg in a square hole type of situation.     So the campervan (a VW Karmann) was sold last year even though it was modern and bright inside and had all the essentials, including a shower.    But it was a compromise.     For use all year, a campervan needs great insulation, and for somebody like me who does a lot of sport then it needs a BIG watertank.   I also need a lot of storage space for the cycle and sports equipment.

Since then I had been looking throughout Scandinavia for a replacement van.   But finding one that would tick all the right boxes and at the right price was near impossible.     On that great online university, YouTube I had become fascinated by the number of people who had bought ordinary delivery vans (Mercedes Sprinters for example)  and had converted the vans themselves.    The results that some of them have achieved are incredible.   That idea about building a van just would not go away.   And the vanlife videos kept appearing on YouTube.

So last week I took the decision to get a van and to begin converting it myself.   Found a VW Crafter van online in Stavanger, Western Norway and purchased it FAST, without seeing it or without even test driving it.   Experience had shown me that the good vans and good campervans disappear almost immediately, and with coronavirus then there were even more people after them.   So I had to act fast, and bought it within a few hours.  Took the risk to transfer the money online to a seller whom I had never met and my only contact had been via the online website.  Big risk, yes.    But there is a saying in English “sometimes you have to jump first, and grow your wings on the way down”.   So the van was purchased and the transfer fees paid.

Now I know that there is a risk of failure, especially as I have never done anything like this before.   The fear of failure should not stop people from trying, and there is one way to find out if I can do it.  That is to try.    It may turn out to be a costly mistake, but at least then I will know.    It may turn out to be a success, but until I try then I will never know.

So I hope to collect the van this Wednesday.   Then the real fun will begin !!  Watch this space for photos and updates and probably a video or two.

To be continued……..

One photo from the archives -matruska dolls from Russia at a market in northern Norway

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The positive side of coronavirus

Thought for the day…”Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.”

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Despite all the doom and gloom at the moment, there are some positive sides to coronavirus.   Staff in shops and cafes have become noticeably better recently, and are happy to serve you now.   Not only that but they have time to help and, with the lack of customers, are actually trying to help out.   Shops and cafes have become more polite, with people waiting patiently in spaced-out queues.    Cafes have started putting most items in plastic to prevent contamination, hand disinfectant is now common and for the time being, people are being very good at using disinfectants.  And another bonus, the enforced free time is giving some of us some a great opportunity to catch up on things that previously we never had time for.   So it is not all negative at the moment !!   Stay safe.

The southbound Oslo to Kiel ferry passing the coast of Norway at Drobak.

and another photo from the archives….sunrise captured with the Fuji X-T30

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Joys of travelling

Thought for the day…”Reach for the stars, even if you have to stand on a cactus”

It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.”

The joys of travelling….exciting new places and destinations.  But it is not always fun.   One of my pet hates (one of many) is that hotels often do not have a list of TV channels.   Given that some hotels can have upwards of 100 channels, why can they not put a list in the room to save endless channel surfing trying to find the 5 or 6 interesting channels??    A simple card or print out listing the channels would be so good.   And linked to this pet hate are hotel TVs that as soon as start them are at maximum volume, hardly ideal for a hotel when guests are trying to sleep.

Next pet hate……Many hotels are no longer giving the small bottles of shampoo and conditioner or individual soap, preferring to have dispensers on the walls instead.   All very well IF the hotel refills them but so often just when you are in the shower you discover that the dispensers are empty.

And staying with hotels and pet hates…..the annoying habit that more and more hotels are only putting in one rubbish bin/trash can in the whole room and bathroom.  Saves them a little money, but is hardly good for the guest experience.

Another hate….modern hotels whose managers have decided that THEY know the temperature that guests want the rooms to be at, and have removed individual temperature controls in the rooms….I am seeing this more and more and it is also not good for the guest experience.

Topping the list of pet hates for hotels…..any hotel that has slow internet or has a poor internet signal in the room deserves to go out of business….no excuse for this in the 21st century.    Excuses such as “it is the number of guests in the hotel” or “it is the rainy weather” just get me irritated.  It is not rocket science to get fast, reliable internet in a hotel, but it seems to be a major problem for some hotels.

The list goes on….to be continued………

Today’s photo is of the lakefront in Pembroke, South Island, New Zealand, on a perfect Summer’s evening.  One man and his dog admire the view….

and another photo from the archives…..driving hazards on the roads of Scandinavia….these are a much bigger problem at night when they tend to freeze in the car headlights.   A male elk can be over 300 kg, so can cause a lot of damage to a car.

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