East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Finding a good bad guy

Ungern-sternberg_rThe gentleman you see portrayed here on th eright is Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg.
And the word “gentleman” is probably not the right one.

Also known as “the Mad Baron”, Ungern-Sternberg is one of the blatant proofs that history can best pulp fiction any day of the week, and without trying.
There is no Bond villain, no dime novel Yellow Peril, no fictional bad guy that can go head-to-head with the Baron in terms of madness and cruelty, and hope to win.

And all this is just fine because, you see, I’m doing the final draft of my novel, and I need to make my bad guy… worse.
The eating-babies-alive sort of worse. Continue reading

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Writing with Google Maps

Isn’t technology great.
I was doing some map research yesterday, and the trip advisor utility on Google Maps caught my eye.

So I calculated – better, I had the software calculate and draw the route from Castelnuovo Belbo, Italy, and Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia.

And the software planned my trip – mentioning passingly that it does include some roads that might be interrupted, and it will require me to cross a few national borders.
My very own, on-demand Silk Road, if you will. Continue reading

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Roy Chapman Andrews and the Dinosaurs of Mongolia

It’s Sunday, let’s go back in time.
Here’s some footage from the Roy Chapman Andrews expeditions in Mongolia and the Taklamakan/Gobi desert in 1913.


My (failed) Trans-Siberian Journey

In 1999 I was on the verge of taking my belated degree in geology, and I was working as quality control manager in a call center – doing nights.
To most, this mix may mean sleep deprivation, caffeine overdose and increasing hatred for our fellow humans.
But to me it also meant a small but steady income, and – soon – reason to celebrate.

And what’s the best way to celebrate the finalliberation from the increasingly oppressive University of Turin, but to plan and execute a long trip?

At the time, I had a good friend living in Hong Kong with the family.
So, what about saving money and taking a trip to that city?
After all, it had been one of my dream cities since I was ten or thereabouts.
And what about taking the trip by train? Continue reading