Mauna Kea – "world's tallest mountain"

Mauna kea means “white mountain” in the Hawaiian language, a reference to its summit being regularly covered by snow in winter. The peak of Mauna Kea is 4,207 m above sea level but 10,203 m above its base on the floor of the Pacific Ocean. It is the world’s tallest mountain by this measure, taller than Mount Everest, which is the highest mountain above sea level.

Mauna Kea is in the post-shield stage of volcanic evolution, having made the transition from the shield stage about 200,000 to 250,000 years ago. At that time, its appearance was probably quite similar to that of its neighbor Mauna Loa today, a smooth shield volcano with a large summit caldera. Following the transition, eruptions became more explosive in character, resulting in the formation of numerous overlapping cinder cones which eventually filled and completely obscured the caldera. These cinder cones now form the peaks at the summit of Mauna Kea, with several of them exceeding 13,500 feet (4,100 m) in elevation. After several hundred thousand years of slowly building itself up by volcanic activity, the mountain’s height is slowly decreasing now as its massive weight depresses the Pacific seafloor beneath it.

Snowfall often occurs at elevations above 3,400 m during the period from November through March. During particularly cold and wet winters, which are usually linked to La Niña, a snowpack several feet (1 m) deep may remain in the summit region above 4,000 m for weeks or months. This permits skiing and other snow-play activities on the slopes of the cinder cones.

The summit of Mauna Kea has been a celestial observatory since ancient times and is considered to be one of the best astronomical sites in the world. For this reason it is home to many of the world’s leading astronomical observatories. The summit is above approximately 40% of Earth’s atmosphere and 90% of the water vapor, allowing for exceptionally clear images of the night sky. Additionally, the peak is well above the inversion layer, which leads to approximately 300 clear nights per year. (Source: Wikipedia)

The thing that fascinated me the most was that you can go swimming in the Pacific and about 2 hours later you are standing on top of Mauna Kea about 4207 m higher with temperatures well below freezing and yea if you have brought your skis along you could go skiing.










Colorado, USA

If you are not sure where to go skiing next year…here is a thought, why not go to Colorado USA. Vast expanses of ski areas, huge amounts of powder each year…these are just some of the things you might expect while skiing in Colorado. It was my second time in Vail and I must say, that there is no better place for skiing (so far :D). And did I mention that the snow in Colorado is so much different from the snow here in Europe. “There is no substitute for altitude!”


Taking off at Frankfurt




Forests of Colorado (Breckenridge in the background)



Colorado-09-USA-692At 3970m, Breckenridge

Verbier, Switzerland

After one month of “summer” in southeast Asia, I was on my way to Verbier, Switzerland. I arrived in Ljubljana on 18th of December and on the 20th I was already on my way to Verbier. It was quite a change from tropical forests to glaciers and snow. I’ve also packed all my photo material from Asia, so I was able to edit it in my free time. I spend 14 days skiing with my family and friends in Verbier and it was great.


Tropical Cambodia

Cambodia has an area of 181,035 square kilometers, sharing an 800 kilometer border with Thailand in the north and west, a 541 kilometer (336 mi) border with Laos in the northeast, and a 1,228 kilometer border with Vietnam in the east and southeast. It has 443 kilometers of coastline along the Gulf of Thailand.

The most distinctive geographical feature is the lacustrine plain, formed by the inundations of the Tonle Sap (Great Lake), measuring about 2,590 square kilometers during the dry season and expanding to about 24,605 square kilometers during the rainy season. This densely populated plain, which is devoted to wet rice cultivation, is the heartland of Cambodia. Much of this area has been designated as a biosphere reserve.

Cambodia’s temperatures range from 21° to 35°C and experiences tropical monsoons. Southwest monsoons blow inland bringing moisture-laden winds from the Gulf of Thailand and Indian Ocean from May to October. It has two distinct seasons. The rainy season, which runs from May to October, can see temperatures drop to 22 °C and is generally accompanied with high humidity. The dry season lasts from November to April when temperatures can raise up to 40 °C around April.


…near Kampot…

Cambodia-1443…”rabbit island” also known as Koh Tonsay…

Cambodia-1372…Koh Tonsay…

Cambodia-1818…national park near Sihanoukville…

Cambodia-1820…beach near Sihanoukville… 
Cambodia-1190Cambodia-788…channels near Batambang…


Bokor hill station was built by the French in the 1920s to be used as a retreat from the heat of the plains, a pre-air conditionning strategy familiar in all of Asia. You can see ruins of  Church, and Bokor Palace Hotel and Casino. There are some warnings that there are still some mines so it is best to stay on tracks and not wander around too much. On our way down we walked through jungle for about 3 hours to get down, it was really cool :)


Cambodia-1560…Casino entrance…

Cambodia-1624…Casino from the front side…

Cambodia-1602…take the other stairs…
Cambodia-1461…road to Bokor hill station…

Cambodia-1688…amazing jungle at Bokor…

Cambodia-1744…fantastic landscape (Bokor)…

Cambodia-1727…perfect lighting in the jungle :) (Bokor)…

Kingdom of Cambodia

Very few people know where Cambodia is and where it lies on a map. Those who know, probably know only one thing about Cambodia and that’s Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is not the only temple, but is the most recognizable. There is also the famous Angkor Thom (ancient city), Ta Prohm (aka. jungle temple, where Tomb Rider was shot) and others.The country borders Thailand to its west and northwest, Laos to its northeast, and Vietnam to its east and southeast. In the south it faces the Gulf of Thailand. The geography of Cambodia is dominated by the Mekong river. Cambodia is a very poor country. The United Nations Development Program’s 2005 Human Development Index ranks Cambodia 131 out of 177 countries in terms of quality of life. There are still a lot of people that are living for less than 1$ USD a day. GDP in Cambodia is $592 per capita and that’s low! Cambodia has a population of around 14 million people.

The dominant religion, a form of Theravada Buddhism (95%), was suppressed by the Khmer Rouge but has since experienced a revival. Islam (3%) and Christianity (2%) are also practiced.The median age is 20.6 years, with more than 50% of the population younger than 25. UNICEF has designated Cambodia the third most mined country in the world, attributing over 60,000 civilian deaths and thousands more maimed or injured since 1970 to the unexploded land mines left behind in rural areas. The majority of the victims are children herding animals or playing in the fields. Adults that survive landmines often require amputation of one or more limbs and have to resort to begging for survival. In 2006, the number of landmine casualties in Cambodia took a sharp decrease of more than 50% compared to 2005, with the number of landmine victims down from 800 in 2005 to less than 400 in 2006.

A few quick facts:
Index of Economic Freedom: 100 out of 157
Worldwide Press Freedom Index: 126 out of 173
Corruption Perceptions Index: 162 out of 179
Human Development Index: 131 out of 177
Global Competitiveness Report: 110 out of 131

I must say that people were very friendly, and that is was a really nice traveling around Cambodia. The country has some nice beaches in the South that are not so tourist crowded. It has nice national parks and of course a lot of temples. It certainly is an interesting country to visit. It is also interesting fact that the deadliest thing in Cambodia is transport :) so watch out.


Not so well known amongst tourists, I was practically alone inside.



Probably the most known temple in Cambodia. Angkor Wat was built for the king Suryavarman II in early 12th century. It is the best preserved temple at the site and is also on the national flag. Everything in Cambodia is connected to Angkor (Angkor beer, Anchor (beer) etc…).



Ancient city of Angkor Thom. It was established by the king Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century. It was probably the most populated city of its time with population around 2 million people around 13th century AD.

Cambodia-281…gate to the city…

Cambodia-286Cambodia-303…main temple in Angkor Thom – Bayon…


TA PROHM (aka Jungle temple)

Ta Prohm was built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries and originally called Rajavihara. It was founded by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university.

The temple of Ta Prohm was used as a location in the film Tomb Raider. Although the film took visual liberties with other Angkorian temples, its scenes of Ta Prohm were quite faithful to the temple’s actual appearance, and made use of its eerie qualities.


So much about Cambodia and the temples in this post. In the following posts I will post some more photos of landscapes, people and places in Cambodia.