Friday, February 28, 2020

Excellent Snorkeling in the Andaman Sea

On our recent trip we flew from Singapore to Phuket, Thailand to go on an exciting 4d/3n snorkel cruise to the Similan and Surin islands in the Andaman Sea.  Here's a short 6 min video showing some of the highlights.



This was an amazing trip on a liveaboard boat with some of the best coral we've seen in the past 20 years of snorkeling throughout the world.  Owner/operator Ralf does a great job of finding hidden snorkel spots with plenty of colourful coral and fish but without masses of people.  Highly recommended - but definitely not for softies (the exercise mats on the bunk beds take a bit of getting used to).  

The Similan and Surin islands are treasures that need to be protected for all time -- we were gratified to learn that Thailand has protected many of these islands and amazing reefs in National Parks - see Similan Islands and Surin Islands.  If you are using the Chrome browser, you can also check out this Google Earth link for a splendid 3D view of the Surin islands from above.

Unfortunately, the islands are suffering from too many tourists. At one point there were up to 7,000 visitors per day.  The problem of overuse has prompted park authorities to limit the number of tourists in the Similan Islands to 3,325 people a day. 

The ideal time to visit these Islands is December to April when it is the dryer with clear waters making it best time for scuba diving and snorkeling.  You can even stay overnight in one of the campsites with tents and bungalows on Surin Nuea Island.

Thanks for visiting and happy travels!
Cheers, George

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Enhance Your Presentations - Google Earth Updates

Wiluna, WA, Australia - Google Earth View
As many of you know, I'm a frequent user of Google Earth to help enrich my presentations.  The folks at Google Earth have added a lot of tools and enhancements over the past few months to make it even easier to add content.  How many times have you watched a travel video wishing they'd included a map to provide context? -- especially in these days of exploding numbers of YouTube travel vloggers! Well, there's no excuse as far as I'm concerned, now that these excellent tools are so readily available.  (These are tools that we could have only dreamed of when I first started giving slide presentations - back then a dissolve unit between two slide projectors was a BIG deal!)

Here's an intro to an excellent series of videos on a simple approach to incorporating satellite images into your own presentations:


Google has also added a new way of producing animated fly-overs using Google Earth Studio, which works directly in the Chrome browser.  Here's a quick video introduction, the first of a series on using Studio.  In my work, I still prefer to use Google Earth Pro which is a stand alone program that I'm more familiar with.  Pro is a free download, so cost is not an issue.


Here's an excellent intro to Studio from Tava, showing some of the more sophisticated Hollywood affects you can add if you really want to have some fun!


For the simple joy of exploration from your easy chair it is hard to beat Google Earth View.  For a quick intro check out this video:


Google Earth View is also an excellent source for wallpaper, with over 2,000 images to choose from.  But not only do these satellite images make great wallpaper for your computer screen, they can make great full frame slides to use in our presentations!  Check it out!
Niagara Falls, Canada - Google Earth View

Thanks for visiting! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Ports of Call: Mumbai, India

Mumbai India -



This is one of the short videos I've prepared for my upcoming lecture series on board the Seabourn Ovation.  I often like to begin my presentations with Google Earth views to give audiences a geographic context to the locations I will be highlighting.  This video is one of my first to introduce the use of Google Earth Studio - an exciting new animation tool for Google Earth’s satellite and 3D imagery.  It is entirely web-based and allows some amazing animations such as the fly-in that I've created to swoop down to the Gateway of India (built to commemorate the visit of King George V and queen Mary to India).

The other resource I've used for this video is www.unsplash.com.  Unsplash is a completely free source of Creative Commons photos from highly skilled photographers around the world.  Many of the excellent high-definition photographs on Unsplash will completely blow you away! And they are available copyright free for any application -- perfect for my destination presentations.

Perhaps we will see you on board the Ovation, or one of my upcoming cruises.  Until then, happy adventures! keep them guessing where to next!

Cheers, George

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Seabourn Ovation - Pearls of Arabia & India

Photo by Kevin Tadema on Unsplash
Greetings!  My next lecture series will be on board the Seabourn Ovation Pearls of Arabia & India



Asian elephants are some of the most iconic creatures on the planet and will play a starring role in my lectures on board the Ovation.

One of the most exciting and hopeful stories that I've come across in my research for our upcoming travels in India involves both elephants and bees.  I don't know if elephants are afraid of mice (as the old wives would have us believe) - but it turns out that they really truly are afraid of bees!!  Which could come in handy when you want to deter elephants from trampling through your village or crossing railway tracks.

The elephants and bees project teaches villagers how to build a fence that incorporates bee hives.


The beehive fence used 15 hives colonized with the Indian bee (Apis cerana indica) at 10 meter intervals and were hung 5 meters off the ground. When the elephants hit the wire attaching the beehives, the angry bees are released which is enough to deter the elephants.


Even more fascinating is the use of buzzing to deter elephants.  Yes, the railway authority in India has learned that broadcasting the sound of buzzing bees is enough to keep them away from railway tracks.  Nearly 50 buzzing amplifiers have been deployed as part of "Plan Bee" at a dozen "elephant corridors" in the vast forests of Assam state, home to nearly 6,000 elephants, 20% of the country's total.