Wow! My previous blog was exactly 1 year + 1 day ago. So this blog was totally ignored in 2011. I did little traveling in 2011, and mostly was busy working on my internet projects after I left my job. I already feel itchy about traveling in 2012, and I want to explore Kazakhstan in first place.
So happy new year, folks!
Thanks to all those who showed concerns regarding this blog and wrote me. I'll keep it alive for sure!
After wonderful 3 years and 8 months spent in majestic Prague, I moved to Kyrgyzstan at the end of June.
In Kyrgyzstan things didn't go as I planned and wanted, thus I decided to change the environment and move to Kazakhstan at the end of October. Now I am based in the biggest city of KZ - Almaty. Ex-capital of Kazakhstan has turned into a regional business hub and has a lot of business and career opportunities. It's one of the most expensive cities in the region as well. Here I started for a job in a telecom company and looking forward to spend few more years in this company and country. Kazakh people and culture has lots of similarities with Kyrgyz people, and I've been to Almaty many times before. Thus had no trouble in adapting into this environment. I plan to keep this blog alive and post more interesting posts about this less-known region of Central Asia. For me it is a unique experience of re-exploring the beauties of the home region, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in particular, re-adapting back to the own society and reverse culture shocks, and starting a fresh new life after the tough year I am leaving behind.
You leave old friends and old homes, to find new ones. I hope and believe that this new chapter in my life will bring lots of interesting encounters, people and events along my way. My Prague memories, friends, experience will take its deserved place inside my heart, in the same way as my life spent in Turkey, Singapore and Taiwan. Looking forward.
Only half of the month left till another big step into new life. I missed it actually. Anticipation of a change, new challenge, new adventures, new encounters. This time it is my own home country. Yet it feels like, and in fact, it is a new environment for me. Having never worked there or spent my mature years, in 12 years abroad I became a different person. Thus adaptability is a real question here. What makes it even more challenging is the new responsibilities and expectations that I will be thrown into. There was a big decision and it was made some time ago. Leaving comfortable life and job in Europe, I'll be going to a much challenging one in a real challenging and new environment (take semi-stable political situation in Kyrgyzstan to begin with). People around wonder why take such a risk, why Kyrgyzstan, why now... I guess I'm just following my inner voice.
These days while sleeping in my living room couch, stuff half-packed in the bags and boxes, my mind wonders in between. So much to prepare and study for the new job, yet
Karaoke is probably the most popular entertainment among young people in South East Asia. You can find anything from the several floor buildings of classy K-boxes to small karaoke booths on the streets. One particular example is seen in Bangkok, Thailand. I regret now that I didn't try this one ;)
Who is your favorite scientist or geek? Not a very common question, I know. Well, those who asked me why I use the name Fibonacci as my online nickname know the answer. Leonardo Fibonacci is the scientist that I respect and admire for the sequence of numbers he found, and this sequence reveals the most beautiful number and decodes lots of miracles in nature and beyond.
My admiration of Fibonacci sequence started in high school years, but it was just "mathematically beautiful" back then. The number Phi (ϕ= 1.61803399) was one ugly number that is hard to remember and kept appearing in the exam papers. Later while reading "Code Da Vinci" I got to know about the Golden Ratio, its relation to Fibonacci sequence and the huge meaning behind the number ϕ. Having swept away by this theory, I started to research more about it and wrote a blog post. In my collection of souvenirs I even possess a talisman with Agrippa's pentagram sketched on it.
Anyway, writing another post about it all came to my mind today after watching one short video called "Nature by numbers" made by some Spanish folks.
Here's another video where Golden Ratio is seen in plants and microorganisms.
What is more, this sequence is being used by musicians as well, in a tool called Lateralus. Here's video that explains it.
And Phi/golden ratio was also used by ancient architects in Egypt pyramids in Greek Acropolis, as well as by the artists like Leonardo Da Vinci. Below video is an appetizer before you start digging the internet for more info;
No matter in what God you believe, or be it the evolution, this magic number proves the perfection in the creation. And those who understood it and used it in their works proved to be the greatest of their times and their works are still much appreciated even today. That gives us some food for thought. Why not to find a way to apply the Fibonacci sequence in other areas like finance, business and IT?! Maybe great algorithms, successful business concepts and financial solutions are waiting to be decoded using the Fibonacci sequence?!
Just after 5 years, another revolution. Kurmanbek Bakiev who became the president after the first "revolution" (I don't want to call it revolution anymore) were kicked out in the same way. Massive protests, violent clashes between police and protesters, followed by the attack and takeover of the White House. Like then. But this time it was on much different scale. Last time no single shot was made at the crowd, on the other hand, this time snipers and police were shooting at people that ended with 75 dead and hundreds of injured. No tulips, no banners, no organized protesting this time, it happened very unexpectedly and fast. Although Bakiev's government tried to prevent mass protests by arresting opposition leaders in all regions, the crowd without leaders turned out to be disastrous and uncontrollable. And it provoked them even more when the police and snipers started firing at them. Not only tear gas and rubber bullets were used, but they were using actual lethal bullets. Some protesters seized the guns (Kalashnikov automatic guns, RPGs, grenades, sniper rifles, etc.) from the police (some say they were supplied elsewhere) and were firing back. And the snipers were shooting at them from the roof of the White House... And the looting that happened on the next 2 nights as it happened 5 years ago.
Lots of wrong information has been passed around, and even some of the most well-known western mass media institutions published these rumors as news. Like the death of the minister of internal affairs, or that the country is about to get into a civil war between northern and southern population. In Kyrgyzstan itself, people are continuously updating about the events in their blogs, web forums, Twitter channels, Facebook discussions, and it'd been hard to guess which updates are right or wrong. More or less reliable source of information for many people has been Azattyk (Radio Free Europe Kyrgyz Branch) and, maybe, Ferghana.ru. Also, short and fresh updates were provided by many bloggers from Bishkek itself, and it is possible to find these short updates from Skochilo's blog, popular blogger whose blog provided lots of updates during previous "revolution" in 2005. I spent past 3 days in front of the monitor refreshing the pages every minute and getting updates. It was hard to digest all these, but impossible to ignore as well. I will not get into them too much. Above sources provide enough materials to understand a bit what's really been happening there.
About Bakiev. Now you could write a book about this dude. I was pretty much optimistic and full of hope about him after the government changed in 2005. But the summary would be that he's incompetent almost in everything needed to be a president. Now I wonder how he managed to become a president in the first hand.
Not that he became, and was re-elected, by legitimate ways. But the result of his 5-year work was as follows (I will try not to add my comments);
- unrealized promises of building democratic and economically developing nation (check any indicator about Kyrgyzstan);
- falsified presidential and parliament elections, his party (Ak Jol Party) members forming the majority of the parliament;
- bringing his family and clan to key positions;
- his son, Maksim Bakiev, becoming the head of the newly invented agency responsible for investment, innovation and development of Kyrgyzstan, i.e. responsible for deciding on how to use the investment capital of the country;
- his brother, Janysh Bakiev, becoming head of Government Security Service. This department became much powerful by taking over the ownership of elite army group (National Guard Troops). This agency had a large budget and purchased lots of weapons and equipment to listen to phone conversations from abroad. Majority of people in Kyrgyzstan believe that this agency is behind several killings of politicians and journalists in past few years. Janysh Bakiev was also managing the protesters in the south of the country during Tulip revolution in 2005;
- his brother, Marat Bakiev, is an ambassodor of Kyrgyzstan in Germany. Other brothers also took different role in some ministries and regional government offices;
Over the years we witnessed Bakiev's incompetence in dealing with matters and his greed. Instead of building a competitive nation, he focused on strengthening and securing his power. People led by opposition leaders (some of them are revolution partners of Bakiev in 2005) were continuously reminding him of the wrong path he took, there were continuous protests and small attempts to end his regime. His greed continued as he "legalized" his son to become a "prince" of the country who was already taking over the businesses in the country. Together they privatized country's major companies on their behalf with the help of the consulting firm MGN (whose CEO, American-Jewish Eugene Gourevitch, turned out to be an Italian mafia partner in the mass fraud in Italy). He managed to spoil his reputation in front of US and Russia leaders in army base related issues while trying to keep multi-vectoral political approach. His credibility was long lost in the eyes of his people. Judging from his post-revolution phone interview with Radio Echo Of Moscow, he sounds like he still believes in the illusions he built himself.
Although he still hasn't resigned, he's over for us. I hope he will resign and officially hand over his responsibilities. He won't be accepted back anyway, and it will just lead to more violence and blood and further damage for the country in all its sense. I hope he and his family/clan will be judged by the law and get the punishment they deserve. I hope his mistakes and current situation will be a good lesson for the future leaders, as they clearly understand that they will always face the danger of the angry crowd once they try to cheat them (unfortunately this is turning into a habit for Kyrgyzstan people to overthrow the regime). They should realize that this anger of the crowd comes from major problems of the country and its people, and should be resolved permanently with proper changes and deeper solutions. They shouldn't think that getting some positive figures and numerical indicators will not convince the citizens, it never did, what matters is the basic survival needs that should be provided, especially for those in rural areas who seem to be usually ignored.
Now things are getting stable. But what really matters is that what will happen now? There's a very difficult task in front of this transitional and then new governments. No guarantees for success. Even they will be honest and do their best, there's no guarantee that things will go smooth and well. No guarantee that people will be patient and in solidarity with them. No guarantee that the feeling of greed and love for power will not overthrow their current revolutionary motivations. But it's hard to tell without trying, it's hard to judge without giving them a chance.
p.s. I am preparing for a long-term return back to Kyrgyzstan by the end of the month. Some friends ask if I really want to do this and take a risk after the last events. And now I am even more willing to return. Why? How would I add my own share of value into the future of the country? Can I really contribute something? Or will I be given that chance at all?.. I think no need to worry over such questions, no need to put stress or unreal expectations over myself now. Once there, these questions will come on the right time, and I will have to work over the answers. Well, again, it's hard to tell something without trying.
(Info from www.istanbultravelguide.net) This cistern is thought to have been built after the Nika revolt in 532 AD. It was known as the Basilica Cistern during the Roman period, as there was a Stoa Basilica above the pre-existing one at the time. After the conquest of the city by the Ottoman Turks, it was forgotten of and nobody knew that it existed. Re-discovered in 1545, it was used to water the gardens of Topkapi Palace. Today it has a rather eery and mystical ambiance. Clever spotlighting makes the water shimmer with coloured dancing lights and the water ripples from an occasional fish swishing its tail in exuberance.
Karlovy Vary, also known as "Russian town in Czech Republic" due to Russian tourist invasions and real estate property ownerships, is a popular spa town in Czech Republic. It also hosts one of the oldest international film festivals every year.
How often do you refer to the Wikipedia as a source of truth? As it can be edited by anyone, what you usually get will be the opinion of someone else, or some agreed opinion of a group of people. And no certifications on this topic are needed for them to edit this wiki encyclopedia. As the head of Encyclopedia Britannica says even if the scholars and professors contribute and spend their time in entering and editing entries in Wikipedia, the next day some teenager can easily erase it all and post his own information for that entry. It gives everyone the power to edit the encyclopedia. There is a big risk in the truth of information. But somehow it has been working fine and getting very popular. I think the little magic here is "the wisdom of the crowd". It is the power of mass participation and collaboration. It's the community owning and protecting and monitoring the encyclopedia. All these help the Wikipedia entries to converge closer to the truth over the time. That's the power of Wikipedia. Otherwise it would have failed soon or later. Here's the interesting documentary that shows people both praising and criticizing this popular site.
I myself use it a lot for getting quick knowledge on something. It is also very practical when I am planning a trip to somewhere; short history, main attractions with pictures, important things about that place, etc. The combination of Wikipedia, Google Maps, podcasts and hotel search sites totally replaced the burden to carry Lonely Planet books for me. Just print out what you need and there you go. And nowadays you can carry all these in your smartphone. But that's another topic I am thinking of writing.
Now one thing hit me twice recently. It was very unexpected, yet it was so obvious so possible to happen. And not only me. To any of you. And it might be happening to you right now as well.
Now the privacy issues in Internet is much discussed topic. The main question is that how much of our personal information we shall share to public. Be it the contact information, photos and videos, personal notes and blogs, etc. Most of us think that such worries don't really bother us as we are not celebrities or something. That noone besides our circle of contacts will be interested in seeing this private information. Now I am not a big fan of sharing contact information and my phone number, in particular, on public sites, or even in the restricted sites like Facebook. But I've been sharing lots of photos and videos from my trips or events or some parties both in my blog and in some social network sites. It never seriously crossed my mind that this information could be misused by someone else one day. And to my surprise I was informed by some of my contacts about people using my photos (and many of them) as if their photos in the popular social network sites like Odnoklassniki.ru and MoiMir (by mail.ru). I did check these sites and found them. They were using several of my photos and even the ones with my ex-girlfriend. On top of that, they had been behaving as if real "me" in photos but with different name, and building some contacts in those sites. Can you imagine that someone from your online friends in Facebook, whom you have met in Facebook, asking you which one of these two online persons is real "me"?! Because it seems both of us were that person's contacts and exchanging some messages online with that friend. So I went after these "twins" of mine and sent them a message to remove the photos. One of them was a Kyrgyz guy in Turkey who was using my photos, and he removed all photos the next day and I didn't hear anything from him back. The second one replied me with "supposedly funny jokes" first, but later apologized saying that she (it was a Kyrgyz girl if I believe to what he/she wrote) was using my photos to take revenge on her boyfriend... "WTF?!" was my reaction. I mean what on earth (I prefer to use even more harsh words here) do I have to do with this?! But I have no control on this. My blog is out there, most of my Flickr albums are public, and I have around 600+ friends in Facebook (some of whom I have never met in real life; either friends' friends or random contacts). I do regular cleanup on Facebook. Still I don't want to jeopardize my social networks or reject the pleasure of blogging or Facebooking due to such threats too.
Now when you think of it, whatever we are posting and sharing online can be potentially used against us or for other means than intended by anyone. We are vulnerable for what we share sometimes. And it can be in much bigger levels. So we shall always think twice about what we share and post. Human nature likes to share. Human nature can get emotional. And wants to speak it out. Because our life is not real when not shared (here I rephrase my favorite quote "Happiness is real when shared" from the movie "Into the wild"). Yeah, but we gotta think twice nevertheless.
It's been almost 4 years now since I left this beautiful island where I spent one whole year of unique experience. At that time I left with the big hope to return there after 2 years... the plan was to move to Bangkok for a new job and new adventures, get 2 years of professional experience and then be eligible to apply for long-term Taiwanese work-visa for foreigners... And I ended up in Europe. Some of my friends already know the reasons behind. Anyway, today I just came through some videos about Taiwan and that gave me whole wave of sweet and unforgetable memories about the island Formosa - Taiwan. They have a nice motto actually "Touch your heart". But you gotta live there for some time to understand it and love it. And you gotta leave that place to start to really appreciate it. It's isolated both geographically and in a way culturally and in many other ways, it is unique. It's real China if that would the right term; the culture and lifestyle displayed in its full beauty without any interruption or censoring by the communist regime.
Chinese New Year is coming soon, thus I wish all the prosperity and health and happiness they need to all my Taiwanese and Singaporean and all other Chinese friends. Gong Xi Fa Cai! Xin Nian Kuai Le!
And the rest of you enjoy these amazing intro videos about Formosa! And I tell you, your travels are not complete without seeing and feeling this island.