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- Some Notes From the Writer -



When I started this home page, I had a clearly defined purpose for doing it, - an exact idea of what I wanted to obtain.
However,- very soon it became more and more obvious, that the original idea slowly but surely became more and more secondary, and when looking at this home page today, it is impossible to figure out what the original purpose was.
Now my web site is full of stuff covering such diversity of subject like the Cultural Revolution in China,  diving in the oceans, old sailing ships, art, historical things, traveling,- and more  , - all things and subjects I personally find interesting - - -
My web site has simply been growing like a wildfire and apparently without any control by me,- who even call myself Web Master!  :-)
It is like if it has developed a mind of its own, and now controls ME,- the almighty web master -, instead of ME controlling the web site!
Therefore I have strongly considered simply to delete it all, and start all over again, and this time doing it right!

But soon my in-box started to overflow with e-mails from people, who had comments, questions, asked for advice, or simply just liked what I was doing!
Also the home page "Guest book" received several positive responses.
(Thank you everybody!)  :-)
When it comes to myself, I slowly started to change my own negative attitude towards it.
I got more curious and interested, because where would it take me??? Where would it end????
And it was fun too, because after all it was a creative thing, and everything creative I consider good!
Therefore,- at least for the time being I have decided just to let it grow uncontrolled in order to see where it might take me, and what it might lead to!
When having said that, I actually do not expect much more growth!  I simply have very little memory space left, and will NOT buy more, because if I do, - it will NEVER stop!
I KNOW that!  :-)
Hopefully that explanation will act as an excuse, and take some of the "mystery" out of this mess of a home page, but now at least you know why it has become such an uncontrolled mess!  :-)

But what was the original purpose of this web site?
Maybe it would be a good idea to use this opportunity to clarify that?

It all started like this - - - - -
Over the years I have been approached many, many times by people who have expressed their "envy" with my somewhat exotic life style!
A conversation could typically go like this:

Person says:
"Karsten,- you are so lucky and privileged!  I really wish that I could go all over the world like you,- visit exiting and beautiful places, - and one day climb a mountain,- and the next day dive to the bottom of the sea,- but unfortunately I cannot do that!"

I say:
"Wrong!!!!  Of course you can!  I am NOT more lucky or privileged than you or anybody else!  My background is indeed very modest, and I was absolutely not born with a silver spoon in my mouth.  Everybody who are reasonable strong and healthy can do exactly the same things that I do!
You too can travel all over the world and do all the exiting things you want!
You CAN!"

Person says:
"Noooooooooooooo!!!!!  Of course I cannot!!!   How can I do that?????"

I say:
"You CAN!  Because nobody,- NOBODY-, stops you!!!!   If somebody stops you,- it is yourself!!!!
And only yourself!"

At this point I always see a special "funny" expression in the persons face!
He does not object or reply to my last remark, but obviously starts to think about what I just said:  "Nobody stops you! Only yourself!"
I guess that this is the point where people start to understand what I mean,- and they see that I am obviously right!
YOU,- and only YOU -,  are responsible for your own life!
YOU plan and decide exactly how you want to play your cards!
YOU decide what your priorities are!

Having gone through such a conversation so many times, I decided to put some stuff on the internet, in order to inspire and to show people how to get most out of traveling, by doing it the right way,- and to show them, that they CAN do it,- and that NOBODY stops them from doing it,- except possibly themselves!
Also I have a very strong skepticism against the tourist industry, which in many cases , -  I believe - , spoils many very wonderful places on earth, and give their "victims" a completely wrong impression of what it is all about.
But now very little such stuff remains in my home page, although it certainly has served as an  inspiration to several people who would like to give it a try!

But how to do then?
I have chosen simply to try inspire people to follow their dreams, because this is what they very often do not do!
For example, - in my home page I have told the story of how I saw an old painting in the Hong Kong art museum, and got VERY interested in the history behind it!
It showed the view from an island called Dane's Island in the Pearl River in China!
There were ships and pagodas and islands, - and an out of place Western style cemetery!
A fantastic scenery that immediately got my fantasy in top gear and stimulated my curiosity!
What was the story behind that old painting?????
I bought a cleverly made copy of the painting, and I decided to investigate exactly what it was the Chinese artist had painted there on an unknown island at the China coast for about 150 years ago!
So off I went!
Even two times, because after the first trip I realized that there were more "secrets" to be revealed!  So off I went again in order to get the full story!
Click  HERE  for a quick link to that story!

In another case I got very fascinated by some dairy notes written by a member of the first european expedition, who traveled the Grand Canal in China!
He described a fantastic bridge showing up, - almost ghostlike in the dim light of dusk-, and he did it so well, that I decided on the spot to go and see for myself if that ancient and obviously very impressive bridge was still there!
It was indeed , - untouched and completely free of tourists -, and still it could impress, exactly like it impressed those Englishmen who first saw it for more than 200 years ago!
Click  HERE  for a quick link to that story!

Of course I have plenty more of such wonderful stories and exiting experiences from my trips around on planet Earth.
To get inspired by something,- like in these examples by an old painting and by a book -, is something that sooner or later will happen to EVERYBODY!
I am sure of that! It is unavoidable!
So why not go a little bit further, and try to get beyond the inspiration, which is actually only a "starter" for something much bigger and much more exiting than the inspiration itself, because you NEVER know what you will find, and what will happen?
It was something like that I had in mind, when starting to make this home page.
The idea was to "teach" people NOT to stop at the inspiration stage, but to go all the way!  '
Live your dreams!  Just DO it!
This kind of experiences you cannot get via the "millions" of offers from the tourist industry!
The package tours of the tourist companies cannot give you the real thing, because you know exactly to the date and to the minute where you will be on any given day, and you know exactly what you will see and do, and you know exactly what time you will have breakfast, lunch and dinner, because it is all preplanned. And after the days trip, you know exactly where the next hotel is, and what you will "see" the next day!

When saying that, I do of course know, that I cannot teach people the noble art of traveling in a web site like this!
After all, - to be a traveler,- opposed to being a tourist-, is not something you can learn from a book or from reading a web site like this!
The art of traveling can only be learned by "doing"!
In other words: Practice, practice, practice, - and more practice!
What a web site can do in this respect is to inspire people to do this practice!
And if I succeed in doing that, I have fulfilled my original purpose with this web site!

Something in my web site that has to do with this "inspiration", are the many pictures from very scenic and wonderful places, - very often places that also have a high historical and cultural value, - pictures from places not normally visited by tourists!
A good example is the Korea section!
How many times have you seen advertisements for tourist trips to for example Korea???
Never,- right? ( At least not here in Denmark!)
Of that very reason you SHOULD go to such a place,- and you will be handsomely rewarded, because you have EVERYTHING to yourself!
And it is fantastic!
Totally unspoiled and far better than the most famous tourist destination you can think of!
Guaranteed!

As earlier mentioned, a great part of the idea was to tell people that "they CAN", - so why waste time and money with tour operators who arrange package tours to crowded places where everybody else go, and where you know exactly what you will see?
Much better and much more fun to go to exiting places where nobody goes, and where you will have no ideas of what experiences you will get!
Therefore the purpose of this web site is also to show how beautiful and wonderful our planet really is, - especially if you bring your curiosity and sense of adventure along -, and go to places where other people normally do not go.

And absolutely NOBODY have to envy me, just because I do it, because EVERYBODY can do it!
When this is said,- then of course there are great places which definitely are tourist places-, but of such magnificence and importance, that also serious travelers and adventurers should go and have a look!
Places like the the Eiffel tower, the Pyramids, or the Imperial Palace in Beijing, where tourist group after tourist group pass through like if it was an assembly line in a car factory!
Of course you MUST see those places!
Just don't go with a tourist group!
At the Imperial Palace in Beijing, it is sad to see how the tourists get off their busses at one palace gate , and then after one, - or one and a half hour -,they are picked up by the bus again at the opposite gate!
Please try to understand, that you CANNOT just walk into the "Forbidden City" through one gate and out of another one in only one and a half hour, and think that now you have seen the Imperial Palace and "The Forbidden City", because you have NOT!
You have BEEN there,- but you have certainly NOT seen it!
If you want to see it, it takes considerably more than one and a half hour, -  more likely one and a half DAY!
And even that is NOT enough!  You can easily double that to 3 days if you want to have just a fairly good impression of this massive complex of buildings and walls with their "millions" of wonderful details.
But that is not how the tourist industry works!
Like any other big industry, - mass production is the key to success!
The idea is simply to get as many people as possible on the assembly line, and to get them off again in the shortest possible time for the highest possible fee - - - -

Another typical example of how tourists are "cheated" goes back to the early seventies, when I stayed in Hong Kong.
I had heard something about those strange ancient, walled villages that Chinese families or clans built in order to protect themselves from the hostile world around them.
That sounded very interesting and of course, I simply had to go and explore such a walled village!
However,- I was encouraged NOT to do it. Others had tried and came out of it with a bad experience!
The inhabitants were not used to foreigners, and might be hostile to uninvited, adventurous travelers like myself. And they HATED cameras!
That was sad news, and it looked as if I had to give up my great desire to see a real walled village.
But shortly after I saw a tourist agency advertising bus trips to the countryside, which included a visit to a walled village!
Great!
For the first time in my life I joined a tourist group,- and it was horrible-, but I HAD to see a walled village, and if the tour operator could open the doors to such an experience, it would be worth the embarrassment!
But what a disappointment!  We DID see a walled village as promised, but from a distance, from a bus window as we passed on the main road far away.  We did NOT take the small dirt road down towards the village so that we could get a closer look!  Just passing it on the main road with some words from the tour guide: "And here to the left of the bus,- behind the fields-,  you can see a traditional walled village!"
As far as i remember, the tour cost me 30 or 35 HK $, - and what a waste of time and money!
However,- I had not given up my desire to see a real walled village, and the next day I was back again!
This time my transportation was the local busses, which, - as usual -, was great fun!
I got off the bus near the walled village and walked as close as I could, but since I did not want to risk any problems with the villagers, I did not attempt to get inside, but instead I struggled my way through the dense vegetation on a small mountain behind the village.
From this mountain I had a wonderful view of the village,- and most important-, I could see over the wall and got a rare glimpse into the village itself!
The local bus tickets cost me 2 HK $, and I had a truly fantastic time, which unfortunately cannot be said about the tourist trip which was basically a total waste of time, that even cost me 15 times more!

Therefore,- the intended message in my home page should also be: Keep away from the tourist industry!  They just want your money!
Go alone!
Sometimes the tourist industry itself does not know what it is all about!
It is not so long time ago I read an advert about a brand new tourist hotel somewhere in South East Asia, which is a wonderful place to explore.
But nothing about that in the advert!
Nothing about the people, the county, the culture, the nature, the history!
NOTHING!
Only an endless list of how many first class air-conditioned rooms they had, - how many restaurants,- how many coffee shops,- how many souvenir shops, - how many indoor and outdoor swimming pools, - how many tennis courts and golf courses,- and so on - - - -
Then came the final remark: "Actually,- when you stay at our hotel, it is NOT even necessary to leave the hotel compound, because we have absolutely everything you need here!"
I think that no further comments is necessary, because it shows so well what a waste of time the tourist industry is!
So again:
Stay away from the tourist industry! Your own life and the whole world is far too valuable to waste time and money on this sort of business!

About traveling alone:
Many people do not believe me, when I say that it is much more rewarding and much more fun to go alone!
Usually people think, that it must be very boring to go alone!
No!  It isn't! Absolutely NOT!  On the contrary - - - -
When on your own, you really see and experience much more, and you get much closer to the local people!
Actually you are FORCED to get much closer to ANYTHING when you are on your own!

Are there no disadvantages by traveling "the right way"????
Well,- if you have been on the road for long time, there is quite a good chance that you run out of money.
In fact you will!
I am sure that all serious travelers have experienced that, and that is quite normal!
And you can be so hungry, that the only possibility you have to fill your empty stomach is to ask for help by the local prostitutes! (And they WILL help you! They understand - - -)
Also you can be so tired from struggling with a mountain that you can virtually stand up and sleep!
And you can be freezing so badly, that you cannot use your fingers, and cannot move your mouth to speak!
Finally it can be VERY depressing to be kicked out from a bus,- very late at night-, and there are no tourist village around, with a warm bed and restaurants and coffee shops. You are VERY hungry and VERY tired, and you just sit there on your rucksack,- in the darkness,- in the middle of a road to nowhere, - and see the tail lights of the bus disappear in the darkness, - and you think:  "What am I doing here???? Why- why- why?????"
But you ALWAYS find the next meal! And the next bed!
There is ALWAYS sunshine after rain!
Also it is unavoidable that you will be exposed to dangers you do not know about.
For some years ago, I myself got quite a surprise after such an experience, because I had absolutely no idea that what I had done was dangerous.
In fact,- I was very lucky to come out of it alive, but I did not know until I read a very small and very short notice in my newspaper about a group of local people who had been exposed to poisonous fumes when trying to cross an area with a lot of volcanic activity, with steam, smoke and fumes pouring out from the ground!
The place was the Dieng plateau in Indonesia, and just a few years earlier I happened to have explored the same Dieng plateau, that had now killed several local people because they went too close!
When I happened to pass that area, I was spellbound and extremely fascinated by this strange landscape surrounded at all sides by towering and very live volcanoes!
The plateau itself is a swampy, flat area studded with partly collapsed temples from an ancient, long gone civilization.
Clouds and fog drifted between the old temple ruins, and made it all appear very ghost like, - like from another world. This was for sure a place where spirits obviously was turned loose!
More interesting were the many holes in the ground, from where clouds of steam, smoke and yellow fumes hissed up from the underworld and mixed with the fog and clouds, and made the landscape look unreal and dreamlike.
And the air smelled strange from sulfur and steam and whatever came out from those gates to Hell!
Of course I HAD to explore that place, and with my cameras ready for some spectacular adventure,- I went into the fumes without knowing that the fumes could be poisonous!
Well,- I got out of it alive, but might have been very close to death without even knowing it!
At other opportunities I have of course been fully aware of obvious dangers, but danger should not stop anybody, because danger is a part of life!
I dare to say, that if the most dangerous thing you have ever done in your life is to go to the bakery on a Sunday afternoon to buy cakes for your coffee,- then you have NOT lived!

It has been said, that those people who like to do such dangerous and exiting things, are only poor dreamers that actually try to escape the reality of the real World, by putting themselves into an unreal fantasy world of their own!
Dead wrong!
It IS the real World, when you look into a sharks eyes just in front of you!
It IS the real World when you explore a live volcano with smoke and fumes around you!
It IS the real World when you penetrate a snake infested jungle or cross a desert!
It IS the real World when you swim in the ocean, surrounded by happy dolphins!
It IS the real World to fight with arctic ice and tropical typhoons!
It IS the real World to get into your diving gear and explore the oceans!
But it is NOT the real World if you do NOT do it, because you loose life itself!

Guess that the best secret of being a good traveler is to have a sort of Buddhist mind, where you are fearless and trained to convert negative things to become positive.
To be able to "see" all things and situations around you as exiting and wonderful, just because they can happen, is  a great thing for everybody, but I guess that a traveler needs this ability more than others.
Therefore it is a good idea to learn to control your own mind, so that "disturbing feelings" do not take you by surprise and eventually take control over you, and takes  you for a ride that you do not really want!

But to get back to my wild growing web site again:
It was travel stories and experiences like the above described stories and pictures which should be the backbone of my web site, but it did not quite turn out that way!
Suddenly an idea of something else popped up,- and then another one,- and another, - and another - - - -
And now it is actually my maritime pages that score highest, which was absolutely not the idea from the beginning!
But this is perfectly fine with me!
I LOVE the maritime world too, and feel very attached to the ocean, - its secrets, and ships of all ages!
The maritime world is wonderful and full of stories, tall tales, legends, excitement, beauty, horror and extreme adventures, - - - - and it has been a vital part of my life for 37 years!

Finally some words about the lay-out of my web site:
I am NOT a computer wizard!  Absolutely not! (On the contrary I would say!)
Therefore I had a problem when I decided to make a home page, because I had NO clue of how to do it!
In deep wonder I have seen other home pages with moving objects flying around,- letters jumping up and down,- things suddenly bursting into flames,- and things suddenly changing form and colour,- and many more fancy things!
First later I found out, that there are special programs for that, so actually it was not really necessary to be a computer wizard in order to make those fancy home pages.
But all this I did not know in the beginning. Therefore, the only thing I could think of was to use Netscape Composer, where I can just write and insert pictures, like if writing something on a normal piece of paper!
Nothing fancy! Absolutely NO gimmicks!  Just some words and some of pictures! (Well,- actually a lot!)
And this is how I like it!
I simply get "head ache" when seeing all those fancy effects, that actually serves no purpose at all! Therefore, - if I come across a home page which is too colourful and too fancy, then I immediately skip it, because it is quite obvious that the idea in those cases was NOT to tell a story or something, but just to play, which is certainly OK, if that is what you want!
But this is not what I want, and therefore my home page is so incredible simple.
I have got very good responses about that too,- and I am happy to say that I am certainly NOT alone!
There are many, many people out there, who also get "head ache" from the advanced, fancy pages.

Hope that this little chapter with notes from the writer,- ME -, has been excuse enough for my messy home page!  Please understand - - - -    :-)
 

Karsten (Web Master)
 

Updated:  Oct. 17th. 2004