Local Heart, Global Soul

May 18, 2018

Unfinished Business At The Ryugyong Hotel…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Ryugyong Hotel, (sometimes spelled as Ryu-Gyong Hotel) is an unfinished 105-story, 330-metre-tall (1,080 ft) pyramid-shaped skyscraper in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Its name (“capital of willows”) is also one of the historical names for Pyongyang. The building is also known as the 105 Building, a reference to its number of floors. Planned as a mixed-use development, which would include a hotel, construction began in 1987 but was halted in 1992 as North Korea entered a period of economic crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union.

After 1992 the building stood topped out, but without any windows or interior fittings. In 2008 construction resumed, and the exterior was completed in 2011. It was planned to open the hotel in 2012, the centenary of Kim Il-sung’s birth. A partial opening was announced for 2013, but cancelled. As of 2018, the building remains unopened and has been called the tallest unfinished and unoccupied building in the world.

The building consists of three wings, each measuring 100 metres (330 ft) long, 18 metres (59 ft) wide, and sloped at a 75‑degree angle, which converge at a common point to form a pinnacle. The building is topped by a truncated cone 40 metres (130 ft) wide, consisting of eight floors that are intended to rotate, topped by a further six static floors. The structure was originally intended to house five revolving restaurants, and either 3,000 or 7,665 guest rooms, according to different sources.

The plan for a large hotel was reportedly a Cold War response to the completion of the world’s tallest hotel, the Westin Stamford Hotel in Singapore, in 1986 by the South Korean company SsangYong Group.

Scheduled to open in June 1989 for the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students, problems with building methods and materials delayed completion. Had it opened on schedule, it would have surpassed the Westin Stamford Hotel to become the world’s tallest hotel, and would have been the seventh-tallest building in the world.

Japanese newspapers estimated the cost of construction was $750 million, consuming 2 percent of North Korea’s GDP. For over a decade, the unfinished building sat vacant and without windows, fixtures, or fittings, appearing as a massive concrete shell. According to Marcus Noland, in the late 1990s, the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea inspected the building and concluded that the structure was irreparable. Questions were raised regarding the quality of the building’s concrete and the alignment of its elevator shafts, which some sources said were “crooked”.

The halt in construction, the rumours of problems and the mystery about its future led foreign media sources to dub it “the worst building in the world”Hotel of Doom” and “Phantom Hotel”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In April 2008, after 16 years of inactivity, work on the building was restarted by the Egyptian company Orascom Group.

The firm, which had entered into a US$400 million deal with the North Korean government to build and run a 3G mobile phone network, said that their telecommunications deal was not directly related to the Ryugyong Hotel work.

Officials stated that the hotel would be completed by 2012, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the birth of the “Eternal President”, Kim Il-sung.
In July 2011, it was reported that the exterior work was complete.

Features that Orascom had installed include exterior glass panels and telecommunications antennae. In September 2012, photographs taken by Koryo Tours were released, showing the interior for the first time. There were few fixtures or furnishings.

In November 2012, international hotel operator Kempinski announced it would be running the hotel which was expected to partially open in mid‑2013. In March 2013, plans to open the hotel were suspended.
Kempinski clarified its earlier statements saying that only “initial discussions” had ever occurred, but that no agreement had been signed because “market entry is not currently possible”.

In late 2016 there were indications that work was resuming, and a report that a representative of Orascom had visited North Korea. In 2017 and early 2018, there were signs of work at the site, with access roads being constructed. In April 2018, it was reported that a large LED display featuring the North Korean flag had been added to the top of the building.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

St Mark’s Square…

Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square), is the principal public square of Venice, Italy, where it is generally known just as la Piazza (“the Square”). The Piazzetta (“little Piazza/Square”) is an extension of the Piazza towards the lagoon in its south east corner. The two spaces together form the social, religious and political centre of Venice and are commonly considered together. The Square is dominated at its eastern end by the great church of St Mark.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Car Racing: In this part of the exhibition, visitors could build their own vehicle but also race it against all comers (Watching quietly from a distance, it was almost impossible to determine who was the most competitive; the kids or the adults!)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryugyong_Hotel
Wikipedia / Ryugyong Hotel / North Korea

Wikipedia / Piazza San Marco / St Mark’s Square / Venice / Italy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piazza_San_Marco

December 3, 2015

This Became The “Never Again” Moment In Dutch History…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The next item in the historical series of “events” featured in the Garderen Sand Sculpture Exhibition is one that cuts deep into the living memory of many Dutch people today: the 1953 Flood Disaster.

In this case, (in my humble opinion), the information board that was alongside the sand sculpture was far too vague and full of insubstantial information to do it real justice.

Instead, I found that Wikipedia gave a far better account of an event, that according to my Father, family, husbands family,and friends living in the Netherlands when this disaster happened,the horror of which was indelibly etched into the Dutch physique, and become their “never again” moment in Dutch history. It is this deep wound that has resulted in some of the most innovative technology ever devised in mitigating and controlling nature’s weather and is a continuing battle, with leading edge solutions being found as solutions to problems that continue to evolve and transform the Dutch landscape.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The 1953 North Sea flood(Dutch: “Watersnoodramp” literally “flood disaster”) was a major flood caused by a heavy storm that occurred on the night of Saturday, 31st January 1953 and morning of Sunday, 1st February 1953.

The floods also struck the Netherlands, Belgium, England and Scotland.

A combination of a high spring tide and a severe European windstorm over the North Sea caused a storm surge tide; the combination of wind, high tide, and low pressure led to a water level of more than 5.6 meters (18.4 ft) above mean sea level in some locations.

The flood and waves overwhelmed sea defences and caused extensive flooding.

The Netherlands, a country with 20% of its territory below mean sea level and 50% less than 1 metre (3.3 ft) above sea level and which relies heavily on sea defences, was worst affected, recording 1,836 deaths and widespread property damage. Most of the casualties occurred in the southern province of Zeeland.

Another more than 230 deaths occurred on water craft along Northern European coasts as well as on ships in deeper waters of the North Sea. The ferry MV Princess Victoria was lost at sea in the North Channel east of Belfast with 133 fatalities, and many fishing trawlers sank. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Realising that such events could recur, the Netherlands carried out major studies on strengthening of coastal defences and developed the Delta Works, an extensive system of dams and storm surge barriers.

At the time of the flood, none of the local radio stations broadcast at night, and many of the smaller weather stations operated only during the day. As a result, the warnings of the KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) did not penetrate the flood-threatened area in time.

People were unable to prepare for the impending flood. As the disaster struck on a Saturday night, many government and emergency offices in the affected area were not staffed.

As telephone and telegraph networks were disrupted by flood damage, within hours amateur radio operators went into the affected areas with their equipment to form a voluntary emergency radio network.

These well-organized radio amateurs worked tirelessly, providing radio communications for ten days and nights, and were the only people able to maintain contact from affected areas with the outside world.

An estimated 30,000 animals drowned, and 47,300 buildings were damaged, of which 10,000 were destroyed. Total damage is estimated at 1 billion Dutch guilders.

The Schielands Hoge Zeedijk (nl) (Schielands High Seadyke) along the river Hollandse IJssel was all that protected three million people in the provinces of South and North Holland from flooding.

A section of this dyke, known as the Groenendijk, was not reinforced with stone revetments. The water level was just below the crest and the seaside slope was weak.

Volunteers worked to reinforce this stretch. But, the Groenendijk began to collapse under the pressure around 5:30 am on 1 February. Seawater flooded into the deep polder. In desperation, the mayor of Nieuwerkerk commandeered the river shipde Twee Gebroeders (The Two Brothers) and ordered the owner to plug the hole in the dyke by navigating the ship into it.

Fearing that the ship might break through into the polder, Captain Arie Evegroen took a row boat with him. The mayor’s plan was successful, as the ship was lodged firmly into the dyke, reinforcing it against failure and saving many lives.

The “Afsluitdijk” (lit: “closure dike) across the entrance of the Zuiderzee was said to have paid for its construction cost in that one night, by preventing destructive flooding around the Zuiderzee.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Wikipedia: North Sea flood of 1953

Sand Sculpture Garderen / Zandsculpturen Garderen

January 5, 2014

Heading North In North-East Belgium…

Filed under: BELGIUM,North East Belgium,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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We have a long day driving in this diary entry about our travels and are busy criss-crossing the border between Belgium and Germany. Since pictures are more than a thousand words, I decided that  photographic post would be best…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 26, 2013

Roaming Through The Thiérache…

Another page from my diary as we travelled last year with our Singaporean friend “Velveteen”, squeezing in as many interesting places and adventures as we possibly could during our holiday. We have been seeing as many of the local fortified churches of the Thiérache  region of the  Picardy in north east France as we could in the time we have (not long enough) and now we are heading further east. Basically we are travelling in France eastwards just underneath the Belgium border.  As usual I’m taking photographs out the window of the van as we travel… after all it’s nice to not only see where we end up but also the views we spied as we travel there…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 30, 2012

Are We There Yet?

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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Now we are back on the road heading down New Zealand’s North Island  east coast towards Wellington… some scenic photographs taken from the van at between 80-100 kms per hour to give you an idea of this stage of the  journey… (btw I said they were scenic, I didn’t say they were brilliant  LOL!)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 17, 2012

Beefcake in the Police Department?… it’s NOT a Load of Bull…

Filed under: Funny,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One of the next places we pass though is the small west coast township of Bulls.

It’s not too far from Palmerston North and is deep in beef and dairy farming country so it’s name suits it perfectly.

The place got it’s name after a certain Mr. James Bull who founded the town and opened the first General Store here.

Wikipedia made me chuckle when I did some research and discovered that Bulls is (naturally!!!) twinned (or should that be “coupled”?) with the town of Cowes in The United Kingdom.

The locals put themselves on the map by having a laugh at themselves so invariably the local police station is the place where you will find the  “Const-a-bull”…

… and the mural on the garage door of the police station is hopefully not of  the local “Cow-boy” officers of the Law.  Even the local Sherlock Holmes depicted is rather a beefy chap. Other local establishments also used their imagination so there’s the (Bulls) C.A.L.F  Childcare centre, a shop called “Trash and Treasure-a-bull” etc.

We had a giggle and admired the residents for having a great sense of humour…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 8, 2012

Taranaki… Sits alone, Love Lost and Heartbroken…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Mount Taranaki was given the English name of Mount Egmont when white settlers arrived in New Zealand,  but recently it’s been decided to revert back to the original name,  a decision I wholeheartedly endorse.

I see no reason why indigenous names (anywhere) should be taken over by colonial ones but of course it was done when white skinned human beings were supposedly “discovering”  lands  and arrogantly renaming places after themselves, their ancestors or birthplaces even though these places already had names from the brown skinned human beings that got to these places centuries, and in in the case of some countries, millennia before them.

I think it’s a great step forward for New Zealand to revert back to the original names so am proud to call this mountain Mount Taranaki.

The mountain is actually an extinct volcano and Maori legend has an explanation as to why there are three volcanoes that stand together in the center of the North Island and one that stands alone on the coast in the west. Wikipedia actually tells the story better than I can so here it is:

In Māori legend, Taranaki is a mountain being that lived peacefully for many centuries in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island with three other mountains, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu.
Nearby stood Mount Pihanga. Covered in a cloak of deep green forest she presented a stunning sight and all the mountain gods were in love with her.

Taranaki dared to make advances to Pihanga and was reproached by Tongariro and a mighty battle ensued between them. The earth shook and the sky became dark as the mountains belched forth their anger. When the battle ended the lovely Pihanga stood close by Tongariro’s side.

Taranaki, wild with grief and jealously, angrily wrenched his roots from the ground and left the other mountains.
Weeping, he plunged towards the setting sun, gouging out a deep wide trench. When he reached the sea he turned north and stumbled up the coast. As he slept that night the Pouakai Ranges snared and trapped Taranaki in the place he now rests.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The next day a stream of clear water sprang from the side of Tongariro. It flowed down the deep scar Taranaki had left on his journey to the coast to form the Whanganui River.
There are those who say that Taranaki is silently brooding and will one day try to return inland again to fight Tongariro. Consequently many Māori were wary of living in the area between the mountains.”

There is an inland “short-cut” route south  past the mountain but we choose the scenic coast road that does a wide arc around the mountain and I tried to take photos of it was we went around it.

The volcano is strikingly similar to Japan’s Mount Fuji in shape and whilst impressive in summer it’s becomes a true beauty in winter when it’s covered in snow. Since  it was the height of summer when I took these photos there was only a smudge of snow left and I had to play cat and mouse with clouds that wanted only to hang onto the summit, but eventually I got lucky and managed some shots which where (mostly) cloud free.

Mount Taranaki is a national park but it’s possible to climb the mountain,  things (I think) have to be arranged with the national park authorities and good equipment is needed for the summit but my cousin is a mountaineer who’s been to Everest and worked in Mountain rescue so Himself has added climbing  Mount Taranaki to his bucket list with my cousin as technical expert and climbing companion.

In the meantime we content ourselves with looking at this stunning peak as it dominates the Taranaki landscape.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And finally a postcard to show Taranaki off in it’s beautiful snowy glory…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

August 2, 2012

Hitting the Road again…

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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Yes I know I keep reminding you that these are photos made earlier this year,  Like Tilly said, it’s like M*A*S*H, the TV series that lasted longer than the war it depicted … but I hope that you like the fact the I like to show you around in detail:  after all why tempt you with one beautiful plate of food when I can torture you with ten ? Why skim past some gems without giving them the credit they deserve? Since many of you do return to my blog for a second look I assume you like reading about it all as much as I enjoy writing about it. I just don’t want to deceive anyone who might think that these particular posts are “live” (anyone who tries to blog on the move will tell you just how hard that actually is, and certainly an in depth daily post would be neigh impossible.)

Today’s post is a scenic one as we head down the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island from the area of Waitomo to the area of New Plymouth. Let’s hit the road…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 19, 2012

The Edited and Fast Forwarded Version of the Next Leg of the Trip…

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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This post is a bit of an edited and fast-forward  photographic journey from Paeroa to Auckland… on our way out of town I spy the “other” Lemon and Paeroa oversized landmark bottle, but it’s not a great shot with traffic we are in…  I indulge my habit for taking photos of old barns and love the very traditional wooden villa, which in various sizes once reigned supreme as a typical Kiwi home.  Once again I’m amazed to see a very obviously Dutch connection in New Zealand…clearly the Dutch like to make their mark LOL.

Much later, when we take a toll road out of Auckland, this photo of the telephone number and website address helps us to remember how to pay the toll fee… and a manage to snatch a photo of a Vet’s where the cow depicted on the front is in a wheelchair.  You know I love quirky… this really appeals to my sense of humour.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 13, 2012

Onwards Through the Deluge…

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are still on the road, heading northwards…

Once we branch out onto Provincial State Highway 26 the number of cars on the road reduces dramatically, so when we see a very wet and forlorn looking hitch-hiker  standing on the side of the road in the teeming rain, we pick him up and he’s very appreciative of a warm, dry seat for a while.

Luckily we are going through a small town later that is really close to his destination so he’s delighted  to get most of the way home, especially since his only previous rides were on the busier roads and he had been walking in the rain for over an hour before we came along.

The weather has been patchy, tiny bursts of sunshine here and there but also moments when the windscreen wipers were going at full tilt and we had to slow to a crawl as the visibility all but disappeared.

I’m intrigued to  see lots of semi-circular sheds, and take photos, they are all over the place in the North Island of New Zealand but you hardly will see ones like this in the South Island,  I have no clue why not ….maybe they don’t stand up to South Island winter snows?

If they are barns for hay storage then maybe too they are just too small for the far larger Sheep stations of the South.

Farms in the North Island are seriously smaller in size and stock type tends to be more towards beef cattle and cows for New Zealand’s massive dairy industry rather than the sheep for lamb meat and Marino wool that are better suited to the mountainous south.

Our next destination is just a short distance away, as the rain pours down again in torrents, we drop our hitch-hiker off by a church in a tiny town, wave him goodbye and drive on…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Showing  Kiwi Rugby World Cup support… (held earlier in September and won by the New Zealand All Blacks).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In case you are wondering , 1 New Zealand Dollar is worth roughly half of  1 Euro (but with the on going upheaval the Euro is going currently going through that value probably changes pretty much daily). It does however give you a rough idea of what the prices are on the fruit and veg  stand though. (and btw “Avos” here means avocados).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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