Monday, 27 August 2012

Thermo 2012 - mid conference fieldtrip

One of the nice things with the Thermo conferences is the mid conference field trip. It provides an excellent opportunity to meet and get to know other participants of the conference in a very different setting. During this field trip we got to see some of the beautiful karst landscape during a boat trip on the Li river from Xingping village and we visited one of the many spectacular caves in the area, the Silver Cave near Yanshuo.

Boat trip on Li river.

At one point during the boat trip a local woman comes on board with a bamboo rod with 2 cormorants. For a few yuan one can pose and be photographed with the cormorants balanced on one's shoulder. With the hundreds of tourist boats passing through per day, this is of course much more lucrative than the traditional fishing with cormorants. So I wonder if the old man in the photo below gets paid to fish in this part of the river, close to where the boat stops for the cormorant photo shoot.

An old fisherman fishing with cormorants.

At times there was more or less a boat traffic jam......

..... but the scenery is beautiful.

Water buffalos.

Tourist boats waiting in Xingping.

Waiting at the entrance to the Silver Cave, near Yanshuo. It was so busy here that we had to wait at least half an hour before we were allowed to enter the cave. The cave is spectacular, but the track through the cave is basically one long queue of people.

Mirror lake is the center piece of the Silver Cave, with perfect reflections of the cave formations in the lake. 

I prefer natural lighting in caves, but Chinese tourists clearly prefer coloured lights.

This photo is taken with flash light, which overpowers the coloured lighting in the cave and gives (part of) the structures a more natural colour.

Many of the chambers and formations were enormous.

Thermo 2012 conference - Guilin

The Thermo 2012 conference has been very good both scientifically and socially, with interesting talks, posters and a fieldtrip. Here a few photos from in and around the conference venue, the Lijiang Waterfall Hotel in Guilin, China.

One side of the conference venue and hotel turns into a giant waterfall for 15 minutes every night.

View over Guilin and the surrounding karst landscape, from the hotel.

One evening there was a wedding banquet in the main square inside the hotel. You can see some of our posters on the left.

Elephant hill, a few blocks from the hotel.

One of the streets near the hotel. Bicycles have largely been replaced by scooters.

Lots of street sellers selling local fruit.

Next to the hotel is a pretty park with a lake, popular with locals and tourists.

Pagodas in the lake, with the conference hotel in the background.

Local dancers performing at one of the conference dinners.

Thursday, 23 August 2012


The Thermo conference this year is in Guilin in southern China. I decided to travel one day earlier, to have a bit of time to look around and get used to the time difference. Last time we were in China was about 15 years ago and one of the places we went to was Yanshuo, a town about 65 km south of Guilin and in the middle of the karst landscape. I remember Yanshuo as a quiet village in beautiful surroundings and popular with backpackers. Today, I took the bus to Yanshuo and walked around. It has metamorphosed into a buzzling mass tourism town. Not quite what I had in mind, but I still saw some of the nice landscape and had a very good meal in Yanshuo.

Li river

Wooden rafts waiting for tourists

Li river in Yanshuo

Just outside Yanshuo, rice paddies and vegetable fields

Water buffalo in someone's backyard

Yanshuo from a small hill in town

Yanshuo near the bus station with the small hill I walked up

Lots of good fruit

Busy shopping streets, mostly catering for tourists

Monday, 20 August 2012

Post #100! "Tropical" weekend in The Netherlands

A brief stop-over in The Netherlands on my way to a conference in China. It turned out to be the warmest weekend since 1994 with temperatures over 30 C. And yes, it was hot. On Saturday, Freek and I went for a forest walk from Baarn to Lage Vuursche, with a visit to the former royal palace Paleis Soestdijk, which had an exposition on Escher's travels and his amazing drawings. Escher used to live in the area and apparently got inspiration for his drawings during his daily walk through the local forests. 

Paleis Soestdijk - former royal palace

Pretty beech forest

Blooming heather

We took the train to Zandvoort aan zee in the evening, just when many people were leaving the beach (it must have been incredibly crowded during the day both on Saturday and Sunday), for a nice dinner at a beach restaurant and to watch a beautiful sunset.

Evening on the beach near Zandvoort aan zee - still lots of people on the beach

Patterns in the sea

And a beautiful sunset

On Sunday, Hayfaa and I had a relaxed picnic in Park Oosterbeek watching a kingfischer fly by and fish. He didn't want to stop and pose for the camera, so no photos, unfortunately. And in the evening we went for a swim in the North Sea to round off a very nice weekend.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Treriksrøysa - Goldahytte

Treriksrøysa is the point where Norway, Sweden and Finland meet in a triple point. It is a beautiful location at the edge of a lake with the distinctive Parastinden in the background. Last year we walked to Treriksrøysa as a side trip from Goldahytte; this year we took the ferry from Kilpisjärvi across the lake. From the ferry landing it is 3 km to Treriksrøysa and another 3 km to Goldahytte where we stayed overnight.

Dark thunder clouds threatened to soak us on the way in, but fortunately they never reached us and we had a beautiful walk to the hut. Perfect weather the next day and a very pleasant walk back to the ferry landing.


Treriksrøysa, with Parastinden in the background to the right.

Amazingly still water. The MS Malla is waiting to ferry us back to Kilpisjärvi.

On the way back from Kilpisjärvi, we stopped in Skibotndalen to check for mushrooms and berries. No luck with cantarelles or porcini mushrooms, but we did pick and eat lots of sweet blueberries and saw a couple of squirrels along the way.

Cute baby squirrel

Friday, 10 August 2012

Evening cycle trip to Nonsbu

Quick mountain bike trip from Tønsvika to Nonsbu on a beautiful evening, on one of the few sunny days this summer in Tromsø. Lots of roots in the forest, but relaxed cycling on the top. Beautiful and fast downhill ride back to the car.

Nice track cycling. Long shadows, it is about 21:00h in the evening.


Tony cycling into the sunset.

Sunset behind Ringvassøya.