Marcin Konkel

#transsib2014 - life on rails pt1

TRANSSIB | Moscow - Ulan-Bator - Beijing international express passing through Gobi desert.

The trains in Russia run very smoothly - nobody is going to wait for you if you're late. Better synchronize your watch with the rail and always remember that each station's time of arrival and departure is presented in Moscow Time (that is MSK or GMT+4). Two times we we're on the verge of being late due to either a train crossing the rails we used to get to the city (kind of a shortcut) or.. bad timing. The recommended time to be aboard is max 5 min prior leaving as all doors tend to be closed then and the train is waiting for departure.

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Aviation - the invisible highway

When we were flying the new Boeing Dreamliner 787 from Beijing at the end of #transsib2014 we could discover new standard of comfort but mostly the beautiful sights from above - especially the mountains after taking off in China's capital.

"Aviation - the invisible highway" is a documentary that is a tribute to aviation and all things connected. Narrated by Harrison Ford with music from James Horner is scheduled for a 2015 release. It "(...) is a story about how the airplane has changed the world. Filmed in 18 countries across all 7 continents, it renews our appreciation for one of the most extraordinary and awe-inspiring aspects of the modern world.". 

#transsib2014 - from Moscow with love

Having landed on Moscow Domodedovo International Airport around midnight we took a cab to Apple Hostel in Kitay-Gorod located at Maroseyka 13 street ( ул. Маросейка, 13) where we were to stay two nights. During the ride we've learned quite a bit about how should proper driving in Moscow look like. Lot's of adrenaline guaranteed. The hostel was great with friendly staff and good amenities. It is located in a bit posh district of Moscow near Red Square, GUM and others. Many shops around to choose from. It's worth to visit Dixy supermarket located at Pokrovka 17 street (ул.Покровка, д.17 стр.1)  which is 10-15 minutes walk to get prices cheaper by around 10-20% from those in direct neighborhood.

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#transsib2014 - off to Kaliningrad and Moscow

5:30 Gdańsk. The only stop at the back of the PKS station. Four men are waiting for the bus that will take them to Kaliningrad. Few jokes, quick baggage check, few selfies for publicity. More people are gathering, some with loads of bags like for a week's journey. Probably due to embargo on some goods that Russian government has announced recently due to political tensions and situation on Ukraine. Others with a small shopping bag or nothing at all.

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Transsib 2014 - we're back

Photographs and stories coming soon..

OLKHON ISLAND | Sunrise at Olkhon Island with Shaman's Rock in Khuzhir village (Остров Ольхон, Озеро Байкал).

Transsib - here we go !

All things packed and re-packed few times to make sure it all fits. Lot's of good humor, excitement and curiosity included. Tomorrow, in the small hours, we're starting our Trans-Siberian journey through Siberia and Mongolia to Beijing, China. It will take us 19 days to complete with several stops along the way which you can read about by searching through #transsib2014 tag on this site or clicking the tag below this essay.

You can keep track of our journey on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and maybe some other) by using same #transsib2014 hash tag - here you can view the aggregated results from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more. Internet access in many places will surely be scarce but we'll try to post things as we go using wi-fi access in public places or hostels.

See you in some time !

Moscow - Beijing train (Nauschki 05). Copyright (C) Ben Beiske ( Photograph used without modifications under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 licence.

Red Bull Air Race 2014

Another side act performed by Breitling Jet Team which is the largest civilian aerobatic display team in Europe based in Dijon, France and flying seven Aero L-39 Albatros jets.

Red Bull Air Race (RBAR) is a world-wide event that takes place in such locations as Abu Dhabi, Ascot, Dallas or Las Vegas where pilots compete with each other going through the track with speeds up to 370 km/h and massive 10G load on their bodies. In Gdynia, RBAR has gathered 855 000 spectators throughout 3 days of air races and side acts. Few of the latter were Bretling Team air show (photo above) and Boeing 787 Dreamliner low pass in Gdynia's marina. I had the pleasure of being one of team leads in Gdynia's organization committee and to work together with really great people with open minds, huge loads of energy, commitment and big smiles. Guys, if you are reading this - thanks a lot !

In between work I managed to do some photo shooting - the outcome can be seen on the slides below. Next stop for the event is Ascot Racecourse in United Kingdom on 16–17 Aug 2014. Click on the photos for a better viewing experience.


Also check out a GoPro video of Kirby Chambliss training on the track in Gdynia on Jul 25th in his Edge 540 plane as well as a recap from the whole event in Poland.

Change of route and conflict on Ukraine

It's a tough period in Europe due to the tensions on Ukraine. Our carrier (Air China) has announced some changes on the route Beijing - Warsaw so it will avoid flying through Ukraine territory. All because of recent Malaysian air plane being shot down by Pro-Russian separatists. Air China has issued a note informing that:

"According to China Airlines, its current flight route from Europe is through Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan before entering Indian air space." - reports China Post. This will probably increase our flight time by around 20 minutes (with the overall time close to 10h).

This is surely re-assuring. Although we are not planning to cross Ukraine territory, tensions can be seen between Russia and Central / Western Europe with possible economic restrictions from the EU and already applied sanctions and export restrictions from the US. We are keeping track of the events on the East but remain distanced to what is happening and will be using nothing else but common sense during the journey. Two of my colleagues who were recently in Moscow did not report any negative or nationalistic behavior towards western tourists. On the other hand, the topic is hitting the headlines in Russian TV. As someone said recently: "Putin is not Russia, Russia is not Putin" meaning that politics is a separate thing and contrary towards ordinary people's attitude towards you. 

Koh Yao Noi

I am fascinated how technology and constantly cheaper solutions are enabling people to create professional images and movies. Earlier on the technology and experience was available only to few or only in few locations. To achieve great results you often had to use bulky equipment that cost a small fortune. Today so have abundance of possibilities, tutorials, DIY guides and, of course, low cost (when compared) equipment. One of my favorite director Philip Bloom proves this right by shooting the below movie with a GoPro Hero 3+ camera (in Protune flat 25p mode) and a DJI Phantom drone during his holidays in Thailand. The film was originally shoot in 2.7k and is available on Vimeo in hi-resoultion. You can read a bit more on specs and used equipment under here. Enjoy.

The class of 40-70s

They say that back in the 50s, 60s or 70s people had more class then nowadays. Might be. When you look at Frank Sinatra getting out of the helicopter with a glass of whiskey what do you think ?

Frank Sinatra getting our of a helicopter with a glass of whiskey. Copyright (C) unknown.

Would you say: "Darn. This guy knew how to roll !" or rather "A bit pretentious isn't he ?" or just plain "What a douche !". Anyway, being one of the guys from the Rat Pack was something that you had to deserve and such behavior was nothing new. Anyway, people back then had a different style, a bit more formal I would say. I especially enjoy the photographs from the 60s and 70s from New York City, Chicago or San Francisco. Just look at these gents from Chicago back in the days.

Negro boys on Easter morning. Southside, Chicago, Illinois. April 1941. Copyright (C) by Russell Lee / Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information.

Pulptastic has done some research on the subject and gathered 47 images from 40s-70s and titled it "47 Photos That Prove People Had More Class In The Past". Check them out and, if you have any thoughts, feel free to comment below. You can also visit American Photo Archive to view photos from the mid-twentieth century (and not only).