Saturday, February 16, 2013

Extremophile


Massively misleading boundary map


I consider myself a citizen of the Earth, rather than from a section of that globe distinguished by violent history and chance. Living in the UK for 25 years (22 in England, 3 in Scotland) obviously had a lasting influence, but even when travelling to the far reaches of the planet, I don't feel like an outsider who doesn't belong there. Especially in Australia, which is pretty much the same but warmer, more expensive and with more colourful birds.

But I'm happy to disregard all that if it means I can have fun with pointless statistics, and when I got to Australia's easternmost point at Cape Byron I was delighted to realise I was standing in the eastest place I'd been in the world ever, a few weeks after being the southest I'd ever been.



Wait a minute, I see slightly more land down there on the jagged rocks - liars!


I've seen a lot in the last two years of travelling, but it really is the trivial stuff that gets me the most excited. I am a moron.


Northest


Aberdeen, Scotland (57.1500° N)



Image: CBBC


While I'm critising myself, I'll repeat that I was a fool for never venturing very far in Scotland in all the time I lived there. I only went to the Highlands a couple of times during wild ghost chases with SSPIA, but those trips were to the relative lowlands of Inverary and Loch Lomond, almost a full degree souther than Aberdeen, which I chose to visit at random on a day trip in 2010, shortly before I decided to leave the country.

I'm not saying Aberdeen was the final straw that put me off the United Kingdom for good, but let's just say I really should have chosen any other place in Scotland. I can't remember everywhere I wandered, but looking at Google Maps, the docks are slightly norther than the train station, so let's go with that for the northest I've been so far.

Norther?: I'm really drawn to the freezing climes of Scandinavia and Iceland, and I'd also like to visit the colder parts of Canada some time, so I certainly plan on breaking this rather easily breakable record in the next couple of years.


Eastest


Cape Byron, Australia (153.6389° E)




I've patched up things with the lighthouse community now, after one caused slight pain to my ankle for a day. I can forgive, but I can't forget.


Easter?: I'm sure I'll come back to Australasia before too long, pushing my east barrier over to New Zealand.


Southest


Morton National Park, Australia (34.6500° S)




I've been a lot more conscious of my southward motions since leaving Scotland, due to the rising temperatures (in the northern hemisphere anyway). I was excited to cross the equator for the first time in 2011, often reminding myself in Indonesia that I was currently souther than I'd ever been, and these thoughts returned when my flight to Sydney drew ever closer.

When I took a day trip to the Southern Highlands and my train passed the international airport terminal I had the feeling again, knowing that every second was taking me further south than I'd ever been, but getting bizarrely colder in this zany reverse hemisphere.

You could correctly point out that a two-hour train journey traversing just 0.78° latitude isn't far enough to result in a noticeable drop in temperature, and that it just happened to be cloudy that day, but I'm not interested in your scepticism. I headed south from Bundanoon station until I reached a cliff.

Souther?: New Zealand is souther too, and Antarctica is a little tempting in a really unpleasantly cold and ludicrously expensive but prestigious kind of way.


Westest


Tenerife, Canary Islands (16.5667° W)



Image: Pairody


We're going back a long way here, but I'm pretty sure I have memories of visiting Tenerife when I was really young (two or three?), before my parents had to stretch their income to three children and we limited our holiday horizons to England's rainy coast. I probably had a better time there, I wasn't such a fan of the heat.

I remember high temperatures and the stereotypical trappings of a holiday resort, which makes me think these memories can't be later ones from England, and I've always believed that my earliest vivid memory is of a children's entertainer at the Little T Club (think Butlins redcoat) jumping into a swimming pool with his clothes on. At the time, that was the most hilarious thing I'd ever seen, and was probably wholly responsible for developing my taste in anti-establishment comedy.

Wester? That wouldn't exactly be a challenge, considering I've travelled exclusively east of the Prime Meridian since leaving Edinburgh. North and South America are on the cards, and I'd also love to visit Easter Island some day, which I've just found out is in the west too, not in the extreme east like I'd assumed from its name.


North-Eastest


Nishi-Kawaguchi, Japan (35.8158° N, 139.7044° E)




I used my non-mathematical mind to judge this subway station to the north of the Tokyo megatropoplex as being more north-east than the Korean Demilitarized Zone, which runs along the 38th parallel but is only 127° east. I don't know or care if this is correct. My hostel was slightly south of the station, but I wandered around on both sides a bit.

North-easter?: I plan on going to Hokkaido some time, then it's just Russia the rest of the way, which I haven't really thought about.


South-Eastest


Newcastle, Australia (32.9167° S, 151.7500° E)




It's still probably Bundanoon really, or possibly Byron Bay if east trumps south. But for the sake of variety, let's say my most south-easterly point was somewhere in between.

South-easter?: I think there's just New Zealand.


South-Westest


Bloody Tenerife again (28.3167° N, 16.5667° W)



Image: Swimsuit 2009 (is she even wearing one?)


Annoyingly for these results, I haven't travelled south-west at all, and the only destination that comes close to being a runner-up is Abu Simbel in south-west Egypt. It's certainly souther at 22° N, compared to Tenerife's 28° N, but it loses out massively in the longitude stakes, at an absurd 31.6256° in the wrong direction. After that, my southward boundary line gets progressively easterly all the way through Galle, Sri Lanka (6.0500° N, 80.2167° E), Sentosa, Singapore (1.3667° N, 103.7500° E) and Malang, Indonesia (7.9756° S, 112.6294° E) before hitting Australia.

South-wester?: South America, with Madagascar and Africa on the way.


North-Westest


Inveraray, Scotland (56.2308° N, 5.0732° W)




One of those rare forays to the west coast, SSPIA's overnight vigil at Inveraray Jail was a lot of fun. If you took the potential ghosts out of the equation (which I did, as they don't exist, clearly), it was five friends hanging out after-hours in a creepy old prison with wax dummies, and you know how much I love those places.

North-wester? The entire North American continent probably counts as more north-west than this, just five degrees west of Greenwich, and Iceland is very teasingly floating in-between.


Highest


In the aeroplane over the sea (about 9,150 metres above sea level)




I was ready to compare the respective heights above sea level of mountains and skyscrapers I've scaled (inside a bus or lift, admittedly), but then I remembered planes. So whichever flight went the highest out of these.

Higher?: Space.


Lowest


Channel Tunnel (75 metres below sea level)




That's a bit pathetic really, but no other places come to mind where I've been below sea level without a snorkel attached. I regret not visiting the Dead Sea while in Israel, which would have been a clear winner as the lowest point on the Earth's surface (-423 metres at the shore).

I've descended underground briefly, beneath the Korean DMZ and in various caves, but those were mostly in mountainous countries, so I was probably still higher above sea level than I was in coastal cities.

Lower?: If I'm going to hell, there's plenty of time to enjoy that.


How are your own boundaries coming along? If you know more about my own travels than me, please correct any mistakes I've made. I might have forgotten about that trip down a mine or something.

7 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Not sure what it was about this site that makes you think I'd be interested in following an evangelical Christian blog, but thanks for stopping by anyway!

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  2. Do you anything special to make your maps? They always look so pretty.

    I beat you in the south/south east/east corner (Hobart/Queenstown/Christchurch) but you destroy me for north east (Chiang Mai?). I lived slightly norther than Aberdeen for most my life and I went to the Isle of Skye once with my parents, does that count? If so I win NW. (If not, I guess my next best is Inverness which is norther than Inverary but less west. Not sure how to decide on things like this.)

    I'll answer west and south-west in about six months.

    Hi, Steve.

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    Replies
    1. It's the Travel Map feature from TravBuddy.com, but instead of using the html they provide to insert it into my blog easily, I mess around on Photoshop to cut off the extraneous bits of planet, which includes the link to 'Create your own travel map - TravBuddy.'

      That's not really on, is it? Didn't some hypocrite write an overlong blog criticising people for stealing his images without giving credit a while back?

      It should look like this: http://www.travbuddy.com/maps/5968407

      I think you beat me in every direction, except maybe west and south-west? (For a bit). Unless Morocco works out better. You've also been the lowest you can be on the Earth with your trip to the Dead Sea, but not sure who wins on the plane altitude.

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    2. Oh yeah, you're right about my east destroying yours, I didn't know what you meant about Chiang Mai and then I remembered that direction exists. I'm probably going back Korea/Japanwards in a couple of months, so I might try to extend it to Sapporo.

      Though you've seen me say "I'm probably going to..." enough times over the last two years to know that I'll just end up in Malaysia or something.

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  3. I just did one of those maps and got 12% to your 14%, but that was including all the countries I went to as a kid and I'm not really sure if they count.

    You've definitely got me beat for west/south west (I can see all of Morocco in your red... shape. I thought maybe some of my islands might sneak round the other side of the map, but apparently not. For pure west, it's two and a half months 'til Vancouver. Wait! It's less than that until Hawaii and that's right on the edge of the map. That's the ultimate winner of all time. American Samoa is the third splodge from the right as well, you'll need Cook Islands or French Polynesia (according to that map, I thought the Line Islands or Marshall was more that way) to claim east.

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    Replies
    1. I like how you get really into my stat blogs. There's just a load of boring travel stuff coming up, sorry, but it can't be too long before I have a day when I can't be bothered to get out of bed and compare some numbers.

      Cross the Bering Strait from Alaska to Russia and you'll officially be king of the world.

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