Exploring the world in the Beechcraft Bonanza

Beautiful topic Sven, are you gonna do Western Hemisphere tour as well ? US+South América ?

Yep. I’m pretty taxed out gaming this week lol. I’m currently racing on the N24 in my Ghibli themed Lexus, while updating my route from last night in between races.

I also enjoyed Elite Dangerous at the time and did a tour of the Galaxy there

Summary

This tour is much longer though. It ‘only’ took 64 days to explore the Galaxy. Earth is a lot more varied!

Yes, eventually. After completing Asia and Oceania including the pacific islands and Hawaii. From South America I’ll see if I have any options to visit Antarctica as well. I might have to land on an airport that’s not (yet) listed in the game like at Svalbard. Anyway that’s all still months away.

I switched to flying in the evening and night, already feeling some jet lag lol. Shifting my routine 6 hours ahead, instead of getting up at 3 AM, going to bed at 5 AM.

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Leg 132, Orsk, Russia, via Kazakhstan to Kantubek, Vozrozhdeniya Island, Uzbekistan

DAY01_01.PLN (4.9 KB)

New year, new routine. Sunrises instead of sunsets for the next few months.

12-31 Orsk UWOR 10:30 PM
12-31 Martuk UAMT 10:56 PM
12-31 Aktyubinsk UATT 11:08 PM
12-31 Temir UATQ 11:31 PM
01-01 Gurvey Northeast UAAU 12:53 AM
01-01 Atyrau UATG 1:01 AM
01-01 Qaraton UAQT 1:32 AM
01-01 Buzachi UATU 2:10 AM
01-01 Aktau UATE 2:43 AM
01-01 Beyneu UABY 3:51 AM
01-01 Ostrov Vozrozhdeniya Southwest UTMY 4:54 AM
01-01 Ostrov Vozrozhdeniya UTMO 4:59 AM

Flight time 6:29 11 stops

Kazakhstan is lacking detail in many area in the sim. The country is also mostly flat, low population density, not all that much to see. Long distances between locations as well which came out rather well with the new years programs on. The Caspian sea continues to show cracks. Perhaps the different height levels are because the Sea is shrinking and coastal area have more recent height data than the middle.

Osk Departure half an hour before dawn

First flight is to Martuk

Cold, frigid morning with plenty ice fog in the air

Aktyubinsk (aka Aktobe) on the Ilek River

Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church with Nurgasyr Regional Central Mosque behind on the left

Abul Khair Khan monument on the right. Abul Khair Khan (1693–1748) was leader of the Kazakh Little jüz and helped the country against Dzungar forces.

Sunrise over Kazakhstan

The moon is still out as well

I can see the moon here locally as well, same moon, different position

Bayganin, I’m leaving the now behind

Near Makat, some kind mining, oil or gas I guess

Atyrau, known until 1991 as Guryev on the Ural river at the edge of the Caspian Sea

Atyrau is a transcontinental city in Eurasia, straddling both sides of the Ural river

Flying over the Caspian Sea

It is only about 16 ft deep here and is estimated to fall dry in 75 years

Aktau on the Eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, formerly known as Shevchenko (until 1991)

The current name means White mountain, likely referring to the exposed cliffs

Finally some color in the landscape on the way to Beyneu

Near Shetpe

And close to Ondy

Arm of the Caspian Sea that has fallen dry already

Beyneu, oil town in Western Kazakhstan

The Aral Sea further East

Which is quickly disappearing after the Amu Darya river in the south and the Syr Darya river in the east were diverted from feeding the Aral Sea to irrigate the desert

Vozrozhdeniya Island, one of the deadliest places on Earth

Kantubek, ghost town since 1991 when it was quickly abandoned after the USSR collapsed

Until 1991 biological weapons tests were conducted here

Leg 133, Vozrozhdeniya Island, Uzbekistan, via Kazakhstan to Omsk, Russia

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Kazakhstan is big and mostly flat and empty. Not a whole lot to see from the air, not many places to visit either with 6 people per sq km. I still found one interesting place before heading back into Russia for a bit and the capital of Kazakhstan is awesome.

01-01 Ostrov Vozrozhdeniya UTMO 10:00 PM
01-01 Krainiy UATJ 10:56 PM
01-01 Zhosaly UAZO 11:10 PM Faded runway
01-02 Zhezkazgan UAKD 12:18 AM
01-02 50°01’19.23"N 66°59’28.88"E 1:01 AM CTD
CTD over snowy terrain, too long in drone camera? Cockpit was not rendering anymore, restart
01-02 Last known position 1:08 AM
01-02 Arkaylyk South UAAL 1:13 AM Unclear runway, not sure what I landed on
01-02 Arkalyk North UAUR 1:17 AM
01-02 Shortandy UASJ 2:06 AM Unclear runway, might be a road
01-02 Astana UACC 2:28 AM Nur-Sultan Capital
01-02 Maryanovka Airfield ULYY 3:49 AM
01-02 Tsentralny UNOO 4:02 AM
01-02 Omsk East Z25X 4:07 AM

Flight time 6:07 10 stops

This was about the most interesting sight for the first 2 hours

And some mining / drilling sites. Flat and brown is the running theme

Heading North-East the snow is starting to come back

A canyon below with an unnamed river, no info to be found

Bauxite mining around Arkalyk

Arkalyk, was the center of Torgay Region, which was abolished in 1997

Describes as a city of miners, however the bauxite mines are almost depleted

Historically Arkalyk was a center for the Soviet space program

Cosmonauts would land on the huge central Kazakh steppe and come back to Arkalyk before heading to the Baikonur

Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan on the Ishim river

Lots of amazing sights here, including the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, pyramid

Nur Astana Mosque on the right

The Sphere, museum of the future

Expo 2017 Astana

Khan Satyr Entertainment center, largest tent in the world

Baiterek tower on the right

Departing from Astana aiport, icy runways

Ice does have an effect, full throttle will make the plane slide with the parking brake on. It doesn’t do that on clear runways.

Low hanging clouds appear on the way to Maryanovka

Maryanovka below

Approaching Omsk, the cloud cover thickens with more snow on the ground

It’s still a bit odd that all the roads get snow first / longest

Omsk on the Irtysh river

Back in Russia

Railway monument on the Trans Siberian railway

9,289 kilometers long, from Moscow to Vladivostok, the longest railway-line in the world.

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Leg 134, Omsk, Russia, via Kazakhstan to Barnaul, Russia

DAY01_03.PLN (6.1 KB)

Last night’s flight was a magical winter wonderland tour. Lovely mountains with multiple layers of clouds in the low Northern sun. It was cold, -36F ground temperature!

01-02 Omsk East Z25X 9:25 PM
01-02 Tatarsk ZEG5 9:56 PM
01-02 Chany XNOR 10:12 PM
01-02 Kupino UKUP 10:26 PM
01-02 Slavgorod Severniy Air Base USLL 11:01 PM
01-02 Pavlodar UASP 11:27 PM
01-03 Kurchatov Airfield UAKC 12:07 AM Semipaltinsk, nuclear test site
01-03 Semipalatinsk UASS 12:46 AM
01-03 Ust-Kamenogorsk UASK 1:23 AM
01-03 Zubovsk UAMA 1:55 AM
01-03 Ust-Koksa UNBU 2:24 AM
01-03 Elekmona UNCX 3:07 AM Runway?
01-03 Gorno-Altaisk UNBG 3:15 AM
01-03 Biysk UNBI 3:30 AM
01-03 Lesnoy Airfield USAN 3:56 AM
01-03 Barnaul UNBB 4:05 AM

Flight time 6:40 15 stops

Cold early morning at Tatarsk, a little East from Omsk

On the way to Slavgorod, clouds appear on the horizon. They will be trouble later

Slavgorod Severniy Air Base in Altai Krai, Russia

Altai is a Russian republic in southern Siberia around the Altai Mountains

Reaching the clouds on the way to Pavlodar

The moon is getting smaller, still very visible

Pavlodar, Kazakhstan, along the Irtysh river. Note the ground temperature

At 3,000 ft it warms up to -18F

To Kurchatov, still some icing despite it being far below zero. Just on the windows though

Kurchatov, named after Soviet nuclear physicist Igor Kurchatov

The town was once the center of operations for the adjoining Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site

Lake Chagan, created by nuclear tests. Hard to find, eerie place in the fog.

Semipalatinsk test site

Landing in Semey, until 2007 known as Semipalatinsk and in 1917–1920 as Alash-kala

I decide to get above the cloud cover on the way to Ust-Kamenogorsk

Only a few small glimpses of the ground below

Until it cleared up close to Ust-Kamenogorsk

Magical winter scenes ensued

Breathtaking to fly through

Ust-Kamenogorsk, warming up, a balmy -25F / -32c

Cold weather makes beautiful scenes

Near Targusun

Zubovsk, ‘warmer’ up higher, still in the clouds, more icing as a result

On to Ust-Koksa

Near Marolovodka

Ust’-Koksa where the Kosa river joins the Katun river

Elekmona in a nice little valley further down the Katun river. Ice on the river!

Tough climbing out of the valley with all this ice on my plane

Gorno-Altaisk, a break in the clouds over the airpot

Leaving the mountains behind on the way North to Biysk

Biysk on the Biya river, not far from the confluence with the Katun river to then become the Ob river

Final stop today, Barnaul, Russia, along a partly frozen Ob river

Great job on the winter scenes Asobo, looks really good

Leg 135, Barnaul, Alta Krai to Kyzyl, Tuva Republic, Russia

DAY01_04.PLN (8.1 KB)

Awesome sunrise today, more winter wonderland before ending up in clouds from ground level to 12K ft or higher. There were still a few breaks in the clouds yet the mountains remained mostly invisible.

01-03 Barnaul UNBB 8:27 PM
01-03 Berdsk Airfield UBED 8:56 PM
01-03 ObGES Airfield UKRN 9:02 PM Runway?
01-03 Tolmachevo UNNT 9:10 PM
01-03 Novosibirsk North UNCC 9:16 PM
01-03 Mochische Airfield UMOC 9:22 PM
01-03 Kedrovka ZCT5 9:58 PM
01-03 Kemerovo Severny UKEM 10:07 PM
01-03 Kemerovo UNEE 10:12 PM
01-03 Prokopyevsk Southeast UNWW 10:42 PM
01-03 Sharypovo UNKO 11:26 PM
01-03 Nazarovo UNAZ 11:45 PM
01-04 Yemelyanovo UNKL 12:09 AM
01-04 Cheremshanka UNKM 12:12 AM
01-04 Solnechniy Airfield USOO 12:19 AM
01-04 Kuznetsovo Airfield UBER 12:29 AM Runway?
01-04 Novoselovo UBOA 1:09 AM
01-04 Anash UBOD 1:20 AM Runway??
01-04 Krasnoturansk UKRK 1:36 AM
01-04 Abakan UNAA 1:53 AM
01-04 Shushenskoye UNAU 2:07 AM
01-04 Kyzyl UNKY 3:12 AM

Flight time 6:45 21 stops

Starting early, already at Berdsk before dawn, where the Berd river flows into the Ob river

Novosibirsk, just North on the Ob river.

Sunrise on the way to Kedrovka

Kedrovka in between pink fluffy clouds

Kedrovka Airport, chilly foggy morning

Kamerovo on the frozen river Tom

Kamerovo Severny ‘Airport’ or rather frozen field

A proper airport on the South side of the city

On the way to Prokopyevsk, only an occasional glimpse of the terrain below

The snow covered ground seems to glow in the low Northern sun

Pomortsevo

Prokopyevsk, about as clear as it got today

Ust’-Naryk, a glimpse of the forest below

Belogorsk on the eastern spurs of the Kuznetsk Alatau mountain range

The large open pit mine at Belogorsk remains hidden

Crossing the Beresh river

Nazarovo airport, it’s getting darker

Krasnoyarsk on the Yenisei river in Siberia

Without the snow it would be really dark here, so cloudy

Winter and summer at Krasnoyarsk

Krasnoyarsk seems to be a very laid back city

Home to the Vasily Surikov Estate

Vasily Ivanovich Surikov (1848-1916) was a Russian Realist history painter. He is well known nowadays through the use of many of his works as illustrations.

A world traveler, illustrating what he sees along the way, I like him


I’ve actually seen his work before on this trip. In 1877 he was commissioned to paint murals for the Catherdral of ■■■■■■ the Savior in Moscow.

A glimpse of the Yenisei river, so wide I can’t even see both sides at the same time in this fog

Abakan, at the confluence of the Yenisei and Abakan Rivers

Two wide sprawling rivers, catching a glimpse of one of them

Gora Lyubvi, meaning Mountain of love

Memorial complex dedicated to the wars of different eras with great views of the city

ГАУК РХ Khakass National Museum of Local Lore named after LR Kyzlasov

Abakan also features a monument to Ivan Yarygan (1948-1997), the famous heavyweight freestyle wrestler

Golden Grand Prix Ivan Yarygin 2020, a United World Wrestling rankings freestyle wrestling international tournament, which was held in Krasnoyarsk between the 23rd and 26th of January 2020. A month before the pandemic shut everything down.

Mostly cloudy the rest of the way, couple breaks near Khrebet Baldyrgannyg mountain peak

The peak remains hidden, yet some snowy mountain tops were visible

Looking back to the mountains over the Turan river

Kyzyl, the capital of the Tuva Republic, Russia on the Yenisei river

The name means red or crimson in Tuvan

Kyzyl was previously known as Belotsarsk (until 1918), Khem-Beldyr (until 1926)

Some amazing art works on the river bank

Part of Obelisk Tsentr Azii

Marking the (once thought) geographical center of Asia

Hopefully the weather will be a bit better tomorrow (or rather today) to see a bit more of the mountains while heading into Mongolia on the way to Kyrgyzstan

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Leg 136, Kyzyl, Tuva Republic, Russia via Mongolia and Kazakhstan to Ürümqi, Xinjiang, China

DAY01_05.PLN (5.4 KB)

I made an unscheduled stop today. Frozen lake Kanas looked to inviting to pass up landing on it. It was broken up in the middle yet completely flat and solid more to the ends. Easy fun landing.

01-04 Kyzyl UNKY 8:10 PM
01-04 Ulaangom ZMUG 8:57 PM
01-04 Ulgii ZMUL 9:38 PM video
01-04 Khovd ZMKD 10:13 PM
01-04 Bulgan Sum ZMBS 11:02 PM
01-04 Altay Air Base ZAWW 11:59 PM
01-05 Kanas ZWKN 12:18 AM
CTD not long after departure, restart
01-05 Kanas ZWKN 12:30 AM
01-05 48°52’48.11"N 87°7’45.96"E 12:59 AM Landed on frozen lake Kanas
01-05 Zaysan UASE 1:47 AM
01-05 Karamay ZWKM 2:36 AM Water from Hinge reservoir 204 miles away
01-05 Shihezi Airfield ZSHI 3:05 AM
01-05 Wulumuqi Air Base ZYUS 3:23 AM
01-05 Diwopu ZWWW 3:30 AM
01-05 Urumqi South Air Base ZYAG 3:41 AM

Flight time 7:39 13 stops

Flying out at dawn over Tandy-Uula Ridge

The sunrise was blocked by distant clouds, over lake Uvs

Ulaangom, the capital of Uvs Province in Mongolia, located on the slopes of the Kharkhiraa mountain

They have some very cute cattle here

Harhiraa Uul mountain peak, 9,715 ft high

Quite the view in the early morning

Stunning place to visit

Ulgii, the capital of the Bayan-Ölgii Aimag of Mongolia

This area is home to the eagle hunters

Wide open terrain near Dund-Us, perfect for eagle hunting

Khovd on the Buyant river

Tradidtional Mongolian yurts in the background, aka Ger, portable, circular dwellings

Wide screen angle to get both sun and moon in the same shot

Munkhkhairkhan National Park

Near Bulgan Gol National Park, back over the plains

Qinghezhen, Qinggil County, Altay Prefecture, Xinjiang, China

Xi Lekaren, Ertix Hi river

Taiga Corridor feeding lake Kanas

Laka Kanas and Taiga Corridor in summer

Currently it looks more like this

Perfect surface to land on

Just make sure to lift off before the edge

Very nice place to visit

The canyon on the way out

Via Xinjiang Kanas National Geopark

Zaysan, Kazakhstan

A good look at how the game handles snow transitions

Karamay, a prefecture-level city in the north of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

Jiulongton (九龙潭) water arriving in the city from the Hinge reservoir over 200 miles away

Jiulongton on the left, the end of a 200+ mile long aquaduct through the mountains

This city seems to be a tourist destination, featuring Word Devil City (世界魔鬼城) amusement park

Heiyoushan Park (黑油山公园) monument to the oil found here, right on the surface

Radical change in scenery over Dengjiaqucun, Shawan County

I imagine it’s not really that green there right now

Shihezi Airport, landing in icy fog

Ürümqi, or Urumchi, abbreviated Wushi, formerly known as Tihwa, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

Ürümqi Diwopu International Airport

View of the city and Xinjiang Ancient Ecological Park on the right

Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Museum, featuring the local history and culture

There is so much more to see of China, but I’m just nicking the North-West corner for now. Back West tomorrow to Kyrgyzstan.

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Leg 137, Ürümqi, Xinjiang, China, via Kazakhstan to Kazarman, Kyrgyzstan

DAY01_06.PLN (5.9 KB)

Some steep mountain flying in this leg. I’m very glad the Bonanza got the power boost last update, this leg would have been two legs without it. Awesome mountains in this region.

01-05 Urumqi South Air Base ZYAG 8:00 PM
01-05 Xinyuan Nalati ZWNL 9:04 PM
01-05 Yining ZWYN 9:37 PM Building at end of runway
01-05 Sarkand UASR 10:16 PM
01-05 Balkhash UAAH 11:26 PM
01-05 Cambala UASI 11:52 PM
01-06 Jeppesen Avia Club UABN 12:49 AM
01-06 Iliysk North UAKP 1:07 AM
01-06 Zhetygen UAKS 1:16 AM
01-06 Almaty UAAA 1:35 AM
01-06 Tyup UATY 2:15 AM
01-06 Karakol UCFP 2:24 AM
01-06 Tamga UAKA 2:48 AM
01-06 Naryn UANA 3:29 AM
01-06 Kazarman UAFZ 4:03 AM

Flight time 8:03 14 stops

Starting before dawn again, with a steep climb to 16,000 ft over Taipuqi Kewuzeng river

Topping out at 16,500 ft to get over the mountain range

The sun is starting to light up the mountain tops at Ke Erdala

Ka’er A’erhan Bulakesi river below

Kax river flowing out the mountains crossing the Duku Highway nearby

Near A Susayi over the Duku Highway (G217) crossing the Tianshan Mountains

Considered China’s most beautiful highway following the route of the Wusu Ancient Road

Over the Basile Gensayi river

Near Keqike Bulakesi

Near Dunmazhazhen, Ghulja, Ili, Xinjiang

Yining county, also transliterated from Uyghur as Gulja County, along the Ili river

Lake Sayram, high up in the mountains

Wenquan county, also transliterated from Mongolian as Arixang County, on the border with Kazakhstan

Flying into Sarkand district, Kazakhstan

Priozersk, closed city on lake Balkhash

It serves as the administrative center of Sary Shagan anti-ballistic missile testing site

Lake Balkhash, huge lake in South Western Kazakhstan.

Time flies, half the moon gone again already

The South East shore of lake Balkhash has forests

The Ile river delta provides plenty fertile ground

Jappesen Avia Club along the Ile river

Iliysk, Ile river canyon near Kapchagay

Chertov palets along the canyon and a view of the Kazakh steppe in bloom

Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest metropolis, set in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains

It served as the country’s capital until 1997 and remains Kazakhstan’s trading and cultural hub

Zenkov’s cathedral, wooden Ukrainian-baroque Russian Orthodox cathedral

Central State Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan

You can walk through the museum in Google street view

Almaty Airport, ready to take on the next mountain range

Straight up the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains

Over Ile-Alatau National Park

Flying towards Pik Talgar, 16,335 ft, highest peak of the Trans-Ili Alatau

Shymbulak ski resort, with over 7 miles of trails, in the other direction

More of Pik Talgar

Spectacular crossing into Kyrgyzstan

Tuyup, Kyrgyzstan, on the East end of lake Issyk Kul, North side

The lake and Karakol’s Holy Trinity Cathedral, a little South of Tuyup

Tamga, about halfway along lake Issyk Kul

Across the next mountain range to Naryn

Khrebet Kuylyutau mountain peak in the distance, 17,326 ft

Kakshaal-Too ridge

Naryn river

Ak-Tal

Looking back on approach to Kazarman

Kazarman, village and capital of Toguz-Toro District, Jalal-Abad Region

One source says that “this poor dust-blown settlement in northern Jalal-Abad Region has something of the sinister reputation of a tough mining town down on its luck”

The Makmal open-pit gold mine just to the south no longer provides employment opportunities. The town is largely cut off in winter when the roads are closed by snow.

They have an airport at least! Further West tomorrow via the capital of Kyrgyzstan

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Leg 138, Kazarman, Kyrgyzstan, via Tajikistan to Shakristabz, Uzbekistan

DAY01_07.PLN (11.6 KB)

I’ll probably have to make 2 posts for this leg considering I have 65 screenshots from last night, oops. The mountain ranges of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, under last nights weather conditions were simply incredible. I had laid out a very difficult route as well, icing was a given, but I could have toned down a bit on all the stops at small airstrips. It was great fun, each landing with the continuous beeping of the stall warning due to icing requiring a rather higher landing speed than the short air strips demanded. Some were also shrouded in heavy fog or low hanging clouds.

Luckily the wind was nice to me and I only needed to circle for one crossing to gain enough altitude. The Bonanza still flies pretty well iced up but has its limits. I’m hoping the weather cooperates when I get to Mount Everest as my desired crossing requires 20K ft altitude, backup crossing 18K ft. Anyway that’s still a month away after India.

01-06 Kazarman UAFZ 8:18 PM
01-06 Sosnovka UASV 8:40 PM
01-06 Verkhnyaya Alaarcha UABH 9:02 PM Virtual vision landing, short runway, 2 attempts
01-06 Frunze Northwest UABS 9:13 PM short runway, 2 attempts, my sleeve pushes the throttle open again doh
01-06 Manas UCFM (Bishkek) 9:17 PM
01-06 Lugovoy UA36 9:49 PM
01-06 Talas UATL 10:15 PM Hard to climb mountains with icing…
01-06 Toktogul UATO 10:39 PM
01-06 Kerben UAKR 11:04 PM Heavy fog, icing
01-06 Namangan UTFN 11:17 PM
01-06 Pap East UTPB 11:26 PM Unclear runway
01-06 Pap UTPP 11:29 PM
01-07 Tashkent Vostochny UT63 12:12 AM
01-07 Yuzhny UTTT 12:15 AM Tashkent capital
01-07 Tashkent Sergeli UTTS 12:19 AM
01-07 Kalinovka / Angren UTTY 12:25 AM Runway? Nearly ran into the building
01-07 Chartak UTAI 12:29 AM
01-07 Ak Kurgan UTZA 12:32 AM
01-07 Soldatskiy Southeast UTZF 12:35 AM
01-07 Ina Chkalova UTGS 12:42 AM
01-07 Gulistan North UTGI 12:46 AM
01-07 Dustlik East UTDI 12:59 AM
01-07 Pakhtakor UT1Q 1:06 AM
01-07 Ayni UTAY 1:40 AM Virtual vision landing, too foggy
01-07 Garm UTRA 2:20 AM Virtual vision landing, heavy fog
01-07 Khovaling UTKV 2:46 AM Virtual vision landing, heavy fog
01-07 Dushanbe UTDD 3:11 AM
01-07 Gissar UT45 3:15 AM
01-07 Galyabita East UTTU 3:27 AM
01-07 Sariasiya UT72 3:32 AM
01-07 Zar Chob UTDN 3:41 AM short ‘runway’ on a hill
01-07 Shakristabz Southwest UTSZ 4:09 AM

Flight time 7:51 31 stops

Early morning climb over Gory Dzhamantau / Jamauntau mountain range, highest peak 13,520 ft

Karamoinok Chokusu Nature Preserve

Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan against Central Asia’s Tian Shan range

Ala too square with a statue of Manas

The epic of Manas is an important part of Kyrgizstan history

History and cultural values transferred from one generation to the next in the form of an epic poem

There are also exotic bazaars to be found in Bishkek, Dordoy bazaar and Osh bazaar below

Departure from Manas airport, still before sunrise

I could use some sunshine to ‘clean’ the windows

Near Oytal, popping into a corner of Kazakhstan for a little bit

On the way to Lugovoy

And further on to Talas, back into Kyrgyzstan

Mountain ranges are perfect as borders

The sun is up, yet no sighting yet

Entering the Talas River Valley

Mountain range on the North side of the valley

Maybe a local knows the name of the mountain range, not on digital maps

The view at Talas and another Manas monument

Flying over the It Agar river

Chychkan river and Route M41 below, more commonly known as the Pamir Highway

The M41 connects Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan through the Pamir mountains

Toktogul Reservoir

Naryn River, flowing out of the reservoir to Toktogul’skaya Ges, hydro electric power plant

As seen from the other direction. The dam remains hidden in the coulds.

Approach to Kerben

Gora Boboiob Mountain Peak, 12,369 ft

Akhangaran Reservoir below, mostly frozen over

Open pit coal mine at Angren

Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan

Known for its many museums and its mix of modern and Soviet-era architecture

Tashkent Vestochny airport in the distance

Amir Timur (also spelled as Taimer and Temur) museum and statue

Amir Timur (1336-1405) was a Turco-Mongol conqueror who founded the Timurid Empire in and around modern-day Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia, becoming the first ruler of the Timurid dynasty.

State museum of history of Uzbekistan

There are many many museums in Tashkent, big and small.

Memorial and Museum of victims of repressions on the left.
Muzey Tykvy, small family museum on the right.

My poor ‘drivers’ don’t get to see much at all on this trip, so much ice

Window defrost is still in/op as well, I wonder if they have heat at least…

Near Pishag’ar

Coming up on Zaamin National Park

Another tough climb

I had to circle for a bit to finally skim over the top of a ridge into Tajikistan

Wee, down the other side

Approaching Ayni

Over the Zeravshan river

Ayni, one of the places where I had to use the virtual display to land

Named after the Tajik national poet Sadriddin Ayni

On to Garm

Through a spectacle of light

Along the Zarafshan Range

The windows cleared up, my lucky pilots get to see something as well

Sky and mountains competing who can look the best

It’s clearing up a bit closer to Garm

Rasht Valley where Garm is located

What are the odds Garm is inside that cloud…

Looking away from Garm, which is behind me, inside the cloud

Leaving Garm after another virtual vision landing

Seri Khosor National Park

Asobo, you are amazing

Kyzulsu or Vakhsh River in that little blue spot in the clouds

Most rivers have no names, this one has two on the map

Getting ready to land in Dushanbe, approaching over the Varzob River

Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan

Navruz palace / Palace of nations / The White house, the official residence of the president of Tajikistan

Flag pole park and Rudaki park and monument

Abū 'Abd Allāh Ja’far ibn Muḥammad al-Rūdhakī (858-951) better known as Rudaki and as “Adam of Poets”, was a Persian poet regarded as the first great literary genius of the Modern Persian language.

National museum of Tajikistan with instruments from Gurminj’s Musical Instruments Museum on the left

Tupolangdar’ya River and Tupalang Ges power station

Shirkent National Park

Tupolangdar’ya River near Chash

Crossing the border into Uzbekistan

My final stop was at Shakristabz where you can visit the remains of Ak Sary Palace

Amir Temur ruled here as well, this was his 14th century summer palace

What an amazing and demanding flight. Now I’m kinda looking forward to a more ‘boring’ trek over the plains of Kazakhstan (in an hour or so from now). First more of Uzbekistan before making my way back to the Caspian Sea and Turkmenistan.

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Leg 139, Shakristabz, Uzbekistan, via Kazakhstan to Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan

DAY01_08.PLN (7.2 KB)

Big contrast to yesterday’s flight, long flights over the Kazakh steppe. Just what I needed, some time to catch up on other things and then relax with an inflight movie. The scale of Kazakhstan keeps surprising me. The country is over half the width of Europe.

01-07 Shakhristabz Southwest UTSZ 8:40 PM
01-07 Samarkand UTSS 8:57 PM
01-07 Kumushkent UTDA 9:05 PM Drone cam landing, unclear runway, 2 attempts
01-07 Kattaming UTPS 9:18 PM Drone cam landing
01-07 Navoi UTSA 9:35 PM
01-07 Muruntau Souteast UTTM 10:05 PM
01-07 Tandy Bulak UTSM 10:13 PM
01-07 Zhangaqorghan UAZN 11:08 PM
01-07 Kzyl-Orda UABK 11:47 PM
01-07 Kyzylorda UAOO 11:53 PM
01-08 Nukus UTNN 1:28 AM
01-08 Oqmang’it UTOQ 1:38 AM Faded runway
01-08 Kungrad UT77 1:54 AM
01-08 Tomar Ozek UTMN 2:08 AM Short landing strip
01-08 Muynak UT1R 2:20 AM
01-08 Muynoq UTMQ 2:34 AM
01-08 Beleuli North UT1O 2:46 AM
01-08 Bekdash TM0I 4:16 AM
01-08 Turkmenbashi UTAK 4:49 AM

Flight time 8:29 18 stops

Departure from Shakhristabz to fly to Samarkand. Still dark out

Since I’ve been flying West again it’s taking longer and longer for the sun to come up

The moon is also providing less and less light each day

Samarkand, the city provides plenty light to light up the sky

Samarkand is on the Silk Road, the ancient trade route linking China to the Mediterranean

There any many mosques and mausoleums to be found here.

Gur-e Amir Complex on the left, 15th-century mausoleum of Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur

Observatory of Ulugbek Samarkand, middle, 15th century Islamic observatory, featuring a celestial measuring stone and nowadays a museum.
Tillya-Kori Madrasah, right, completed in 1660. One of the three madrasahs part of the Registan, public square and the heart of the ancient city of Samarkand

Navoi, he turned onto the runway as I was landing, good time to ask for directions

The sun is finally making an appearance just before Tandy Bulak

There is a whole lot of terrain just like this, near Ugiz

It goes on and on, just entered Kazakhstan on the way to Kyzylorda

A break in the terrain, it’s one of the irrigation canals diverting water away from the Aral Sea

Nukus where the canal goes back in Uzbekistan, desert is turned into farm land for the cotton industry

Muynak in northern Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic in Uzbekistan

Muynak used to be a port on the Aral Sea, now 150 km from the water

Muynak Aral Sea monument

Nowadays it’s a disaster tourism destination

And also the location for the biggest electronic music festival in Central Asia

After a couple more quick stops along the former South shore of the Aral Sea I settled in for a long flight straight to the Caspian Sea. To Bekdash over the seemingly endless Kazakh steppe.

I had my in flight movie, showing the terrain below, enhanced by the sense of scale of flying over it

Bekdash approach, located between the Garabogazköl Basin and the Caspian Sea

Bekdash, aka Garabogaz since 2002. For good measure, it’s in a cloud.

Last stop today, Turkmenbashi, formerly known as Krasnovodsk and Kyzyl-Su

A port city in the Balkan Region in Turkmenistan, on the Krasnovodsk Gulf of the Caspian Sea

Tomorrow I’ll be heading South. Sun rise in Turkmenbashi is 9:50 PM my time, I guess I’ll be flying the first bit in the dark again. Enjoying the stars over the desert.

Leg 140, Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan to Khash, Iran

DAY01_09.PLN (7.7 KB)

South towards the Gulf of Oman through Eastern Iran

01-08 Turkmenbashi UTAK 8:41 PM
01-08 Cheleken East UT1J 8:56 PM Virtual vision landing
01-08 Nebit Dag UT1H 9:15 PM Virtual vision landing
01-08 Kizyl Arvat UT55 9:49 PM Virtual vision landing
01-08 Arcabil UTAJ 10:22 PM
01-08 Ashkhabad Bezmein UT1G 10:28 PM
01-08 Ashgabat UTAA 10:34 PM
01-08 Gyaurs Airfield UTAN 10:48 PM
01-08 Mary North UT52 11:42 PM
01-08 Mary UTAM 11:45 PM
01-09 Serakhs Southeast UT50 12:11 AM
01-09 Sarakhs OIMC 12:16 AM
01-09 Sarakhs South Z14H 12:18 AM
01-09 Shahid Hashemi Nejad Intl OIMM 12:44 AM
01-09 Nishabur OIMY 1:07 AM
01-09 Sabzevar OIMS 1:31 AM
01-09 Ferdows OIFR 2:17 AM
01-09 Birjand OIMB 2:54 AM
01-09 Zabol OIZB 3:44 AM
01-09 Zahedan Intl OIZH 3:45 AM
01-09 Vasht OI0G 4:47 AM

Flight time 8:06 20 stops

Some night flying to start out with, Kizyl Arvat glowing below

Not that much to see until approaching Ashgabat

Ashgabat International Airport at sunrise

Perfect timing

Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan

Known for its white marble buildings and grandiose national monuments

The National Museum of Turkmenistan is at the end of that 4 lane road

Bitaraplyk binasy, Monument of Neutrality, the tower sticking out in the desert

Monument of Neutrality left, Monument of independence in the middle

On the right a statue of the memorial complex “People’s memory”

Turkmenistan Carpet Museum

Alem center, amusement center with an indoor ferris wheel

This complex is not on Bing yet, Google has it but as it seems the city is growing fast, who knows what else is there now.

The terrain between Ashgabat and Mary, a lot of desert

Highlight of this part, crossing an unnamed road, which also goes missing on Bing

I wonder if they have sand ploughs?

This a a highway into Dubai since the pandemic hit


No traffic, sand builds up, now what…

Climbing over a wall to get into Iran to Mashad

A big ripple effect, tectonic plate action

Mashad, another important place of pilgrimage in Iran

Centered on the vast Holy Shrine of Imam Reza

That horizontal stripe standing out is Bazaar Reza

Goharshad courtyard, one of the courtyards part of the Imam Reza Holy Shrine complex

A look inside

There are also several tombs to be found, for example the tomb of Nadar Shah

One of the most powerful Iranian rulers in Iranian history ruling as Shah of Iran from 1736 to 1747

Nishabur approach

Farakhk, village next to Nishabur Airport

Those are indeed tree lines, interesting design

Near Torosk

Ferdows Airport, looks very lost

On approach to Birjand

Birjand, capital of the Iranian province of South Khorasan

Home of Birjand castle, well restored

Kolah Farangi Citadel on the left and Pahlavani heritage museum on the right

Pahlavani wrestling, one of the world’s longest running forms of sport

Near Murufan, more rugged terrain

Near Chaderaz

And Zebrud

Zehedan, capital of Sistan and Baluchestan Province

Flying on to Khash (Vasht according to the game) near Kuri

Climbing past Taftan mountain peak 12,930 ft

Taftan is an active stratovolcano, most recent eruption in 1993

As it is the highest mountain in south-eastern Iran, a popular place to hike

Tomorrow, further on to the Arabian sea and Pakistan

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Leg 141, Khash, Iran to Bahawalpur, Pakistan

DAY01_10.PLN (9.3 KB)

Good flight, although terrain quality in Pakistan is below average. There is also the general problem of over and under exposure of the aerial images. Farm land always looks very dark against the very bright desert terrain. I assume most of the aerial data is pretty old and not captured in HDR.

01-09 Vasht OI0G 8:37 PM
01-09 Iran Shahr OIZI 8:59 PM
01-09 Konarak OIZC 9:38 PM
01-09 Konarak OIKO 9:43 PM
01-09 Jiwani OPJI 10:11 PM
01-09 Gwadar Intl OPGD 10:24 PM
01-09 Pasni OPPI 10:47 PM
01-09 Ormara OPOR 11:18 PM
01-09 Masroor AB OPMR 11:56 PM
01-10 Sharea Faisal OPSF 12:05 AM
01-10 Jinnah Intl OPKC 12:07 AM
01-10 Wateji OP1F 12:14 AM
01-10 Gharo OPKF 12:22 AM
01-10 Hyderabad OPKD 12:39 AM
01-10 Talhar OPTH 12:57 AM
01-10 Mirpur Khas OPMK 1:19 AM
01-10 Kadanwari OPKW 1:54 AM
01-10 Sukkur OPSK 2:12 AM
01-10 Jacobabad Mil OPJA 2:30 AM
Continuous very bad stuttering, restart
01-10 Jacobabad Mil OPJA 2:37 AM
01-10 Sui OPSU 2:52 AM
01-10 Kashmor OP31 3:03 AM
01-10 Sheikh Zayed OPRK 3:17 AM
01-10 Kot Samaba OPKS 3:25 AM
01-10 Mad Juma OP13 3:29 AM
01-10 Khanpur OPKP 3:43 AM
01-10 Bahawalpur OPBW 4:08 AM

Flight time 7:38 25 stops

Chasing the moon before dawn, the moon pointing to where the sun will be coming up

Coming up on Gwadar, located on the shores of the Arabian Sea opposite Oman

Gwadar was an overseas possession of Oman from 1783 to 1958

Currently a fast growing port city

Odd terrain, duplicated at Ormara a bit further on

Gwadar in 10 minutes

Along the coast to Ormara

Ormara ahead, another hammer head sticking out the landscape

Ormara turtle beach is along the coast here

Green sea turtles come here to lay their eggs along the Balochistan coast

The pandemic has been very beneficial for the green sea turtles and other marine life

(However plastic pollution is up from the pandemic, benefits might be short lived)

Odd terrain, a giant wave breaker

Hingol National Park along the coast

Hingol river making its way to the Arabia Sea

Stunning cliffs in Hingol National Park

Karachi, capital of the Pakistani province of Sindh and the largest city in Pakistan

Good place to check out some of the culture in the National Museum of Pakistan

Mazar E Quaid, Jinnah Mausoleum, honoring the founder of Pakistan

Muhammad Ali Jinnah (1876-1948) became Pakistan’s first Governer-General when Pakistan gained independence on August 14th 1947, following the end of the British Raj.

Hyderabad, Sindh, Pakistan not to be confused with Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Norai Sharif, transition from desert to farmland

Following one of the many irrigation canals

Chotiary wetlands complex

Makhi Forest, named after the small bees which make their honeycombs in the trees inside the forest

Sukkur along the western bank of the Indus River

Lansdowne Bridge from the screenshot above, designed by Sir Alexander Meadows Rendel

When completed in 1889, the bridge was the largest cantilever bridge in the world. It’s purpose was to replace the steam ferry crossing to complete the railway link between Lahore and the major port of Karachi on the Arabian Sea. The large arch of the 1962 Ayub Bridge can be seen behind the Lansdowne Bridge.

I flew on to Bahawalpur, mostly over flat terrain, farm land with irrigation canals. Terrain quality degraded with the underexposure effect turning all farm land into dark brown patches while the sand parts looked bleached out. Tomorrow back into the mountains, Afghanistan next.

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Leg 142, Bhawalpur, Pakistan to Kabul, Afghanistan

DAY01_11.PLN (7.0 KB)

Some really great views of the mountains in Afghanistan mixed with some really bad views. The South is generally fine, North of Kabul is very bad. However plenty good places to make a great trip.

01-10 Bahawalpur OPBW 8:21 PM
01-10 Multan Intl OPMT 8:44 PM
01-10 Kot Addu OP18 8:56 PM
01-10 Belab OP14 9:06 PM
01-10 Ouzkani OP15 9:16 PM
01-10 Loralai OPLL 9:48 PM
01-10 Samungli OPQT 10:22 PM
01-10 Kandahar OAKN 10:55 PM
01-10 Qalat OAQA 11:22 PM
01-10 Tereen OATN 11:47 PM
01-11 Farah OAFR 12:49 AM
01-11 Shindand OASD 1:17 AM
01-11 Herat OAHR 1:37 AM
01-11 Qala-I-Naw OAQN 2:05 AM
01-11 Maimana OAMN 2:42 AM
01-11 Dehdadi OADE 3:25 AM
01-11 Mazar OAMS 3:33 AM
01-11 Bagram OAIX 4:31 AM
01-11 Kabul Intl OAKB 4:45 AM

Flight time 8:24 18 stops

Multan, Pakistan, located on the bank of the Chenab River

Multan’s history stretches deep into antiquity, the old center below

Chowk Ganta Ghar, the roundabout above, meaning “Clock Tower Town Square” in Urdu

Referred to as the heart of Multan

Bustling old inner city, Bohar gate on the left, Delhi gate on the right

Several tombs can be found around Multan including the Tomb of Shah Rukn e Alam (Bahauddin Zakaria)

The mausoleum of the Sufi saint Sheikh Rukn-ud-Din Abul Fateh (1251-1335) The shrine is considered to be the earliest example of Tughluq architecture.

Getting into the mountain ridges between Balad and Ouzkani

Speed bumps in the terrain

Sunrise near Ouzkani

Ouzkani

Ranrkan

Near Haibat Kili

On the way to Loralai

Khwara river

Near Dirgi

Near Loe Nekan Mountain

Quetta approach

Quetta, largest city of the Province of Balochistan in Pakistan

It was largely destroyed in the 1935 Quetta earthquake, rebuild.

Khodaydadkhan Kalay

Found Dori, Dori river below

Kandahar International Airport, Afghanistan

Shaheedan Chowk (square), center of Kandahar province

Karqa Sharif (The Shrine of Cloak) on the right. Aka Kirka Sharif. The shrine is believed to house the mantle or cloak of Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam.

Tarin Kot Multi National Base

August 2020, military aid efforts still ongoing

On the way to Farah

View from Farah

Farah, main city is a bit further ahead (bad texture area)

The citadel below is visible on the map, however on a 3-way split between different detailed textures

Citadel of Farah (Shar-e-Farahdun) aka Citadel of Alexander

When Alexander the Great invaded the area 330 BC it was known as Prophthasia in Drangiana

Near Shindand

Herat, situated in the fertile valley of the Hari River in the western part of the country

Herat has a fully restored citadel, also dating to Alexander the Great era

Goharshad (Gawhar Shad) Mausoleum, ak Tomb of Baysunghur on the right. Built in the 15th century, the structure served as a royal tomb for members of the Timurid dynasty.

Bahador Khani

Qala-I-Naw, capital of Badghis Province, North-West Afghanistan

On the way to Maimana

Getting into the desert at Khowtar Khan

Near Darzab

Dehdadi, Balkh Province in northern Afghanistan

Mazari Sharif, also called Mazār-e Sharīf, or just Mazar

The terrain quality got really bad from here to Kabul, cleared up at Jabal-os-Sarāj

Valley just North of Bagram, 40km North of Kabul

Kabul International Airport

Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan

Afghanistan has a long history of invasions. Some of the invaders in the history of Afghanistan include the Maurya Empire, the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great 330 BC, Rashidun Caliphate 7th to 9th century, the Mongol Empire led by Genghis Khan 1219-1221, the Timurid Empire of Timur 1383-1385, the Mughal Empire, various Persian Empires, the Sikh Empire 1837-1838, the British Empire 19th and early 20th century, the Soviet Union 1929-1930, 1979, and most recently a coalition force of NATO troops in 2001.

Qale’H-Ye-Balahissar, 5th century fortress located in the south of the old city of Kabul

View from Maranjan Hill on the right

The Afghanistan National Museum

The museum still seems to be in a state of disrepair, but it is currently getting restored and a major expansion added. The Taliban destroyed a lot of artifacts and many more were looted during past and recent invasions.

Tomorrow, back to Pakistan then on to India. India will take a while to explore, with a break to the Maldives and Sri Lanka planned in between.

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Leg 143, Kabul, Afghanistan, via Pakistan and India to Ngari Gunsa, Tibet

DAY01_12.PLN (7.5 KB)

This leg I took on the Western part of the Himalayas, pushing the Bonanza to its limits. I had to get up to 21K ft get through in between the mountain peaks, with a landing at an airstrip at 16,700ft. It shows in the average speed for this leg, 117 knots, down from 151 knots avg over the previous leg. Following valleys to climb high enough takes time and cruising speed is also lower at 20K ft. Fun challenging flight!

01-11 Kabul Intl OAKB 8:00 PM
01-11 Muhammad Aghah Wuluswali OAMU 8:10 PM Virtual vision landing
01-11 Parachinar OPPC 8:31 PM Virtual vision landing
01-11 Jalalabad OAJL 8:52 PM Virtual vision landing
Terrible morse code like stuttering is back, clears up as soon as the wheels touch the ground, restart
01-11 Jalalabad OAJL 9:01 PM Taking longer than usual to load
01-11 Peshawar Intl OPPS 9:24 PM
More weird stuttering, no clue why, smooth again on the ground, restart, reboot, windows update pending
01-11 Peshawar Intl OPPS 9:36 PM
01-11 Shabqadar OPSH 9:40 PM Building at end of ‘runway’
01-11 Risalpur OPRS 9:48 PM Weird stuttering again, area is cursed
Fine on the ground, clears up as soon as the wheels are on the ground
Stuttering came back after take off, then cleared up a minute later, smooth again instead of half sec pauses
01-11 Minhas OP20 9:57 PM
01-11 Tarbela Dam OPTA 10:07 PM Back to stuttering on the ground, smooth in the air
01-11 Sanjwal OPSA 10:16 PM
01-11 Islamabad Intl OPIS 10:20 PM Faisal Mosque next
01-11 Muzaffarabad OPMF 10:49 PM
01-11 Chilas OPCL 11:12 PM
01-11 Gilgit OPGT 11:38 PM
01-12 Skardu OPSD 12:08 AM
01-12 Daulat Beg Oldi Advanced Landing Ground VATH 1:12 AM 16,700ft
01-12 Thoise VITE 1:44 AM
01-12 Leh VILH 2:08 AM
01-12 Fukche VI66 3:06 AM
01-12 Ngari Gunsa ZUAL 3:52 AM 14,022ft

Flight time 7:31 19 stops

As you see from the notes, some weird issues at the start. It seems to be localized to that area / latitude. Odd half sec pauses, stop, go, stop, go behavior. GPU and CPU were far below 100%, no clue what’s causing the terrible hick-ups. Memory, network and disk usage didn’t look out of the ordinary either. Strange, I’ll try that area again when I have time.

Update: The problem is reproduce-able, happened again while approaching Peshawar OPPS. FS2020 has 28 GB committed according to the resource monitor (8GB working set) The fps counters shows 500ms to 700ms spikes in CoherentGTDraw while moving. It resolves when paused and rolling on the ground, while moving in the air the spikes resulting in half second stutters occur.

Setting out before dawn again, on the way to Parachinar

Nights are very dark now without the moon

Getting close to Peshawar at sunrise

Peshawar, in between the Bara river and Budhni Pull

While the aerial data is correct, the roads are inside the water polygons, weird effect

Passing over Shabqadar, correct use of sunglasses

Terbala Dam Airport next to Ghazi Brotha Canal

Terbala Dam

Dam feeding the Indus river and Haripur on the right

Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan

Pakistan monument and museum with wax statues telling the history of Pakistan

Feisal mosque against the mountains in Islamabad

Nicely detailed in the game

Build in 1987, designed to resemble a Bedouin tent

Into the mountains, crossing over the Haro river

On the way to Muzaffarabad

Muzaffarabad at the confluence of the Jhelum and Neelum rivers

Chilās, long runway on the lower left along the Indus river

Another beautiful valley

Following the Indus river a bit to Gilgit

Paden Das below

Gilgit at the confluence of the Gilgit (pictured) and Hunza rivers, which join the Indus river not far down

On to Skardu

Snow cover from here on out

Skardu Airport in sight on the partly frozen Indus river

Stunning place to land

Skardu, in Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan

Skardu valley with Kharpocho fort on the hills on the lower left

Katpana desert now hidden under the snow and Kharpocho fort

Shigar river joining the Indus river in Skardu Valley

Saltoro Gangri Mountain peak in the distance, 25,400ft

Dansam mountain peak ahead, 21,870ft

Crusing at FL210 to get through the Himalayas

K12 second highest peak in the Saltoro mountains 24,370ft

Crossing over the Nubra river

In between Rimo Kangri I and III, 24,229ft and 23,730ft

Chip Chap River

Daulat Beg Oldi, maybe, it’s the name of a road around here

The other road in the area is called “Road between DBO & TACHQ”

16,700ft, the engine shut off immediately after coming to a halt, need more throttle to ‘idle’ up here

After climbing back up, Shahi Kangri Mountain peak ahead, 22,749 ft

Saser Kangri I the highest peak in the Saser Muztagh, 25,171 ft

As good as it looks in the sim, it pales in comparison to real life shots

Heading down the Nubra river, here near Panamik

Thoise airbase along the Shyok river, occupying the only large piece of flat land in the area

Still 10,000ft high

Lakzung where the Nubra river joins the Shyok river

Leh, the historical capital of the Himalayan Kingdom of Ladakh

Many monasteries can be found in this valley

Thiksay monastery (15th century) on the left, Shey palace (17th century) on the right

Hemis coming up, also spelled Hamis

Yaye Tso volcanic lake at 16,365 ft

Fukche airport, next to the Indus river and Senge Zanbu

At the edge of a disputed area between India and China

Shiquanhe, Tibet autonomous region, China, on the confluence of Sênggê Zangbo and Gar River

Traditionally known as Sênggêkanbab or Sênggêzangbo, administrative seat of Ngari Prefecture

Ngari Kunsha Airport, 14,022ft

The ruins of the ancient Guge Kingdom can be found in Zanda county near Zhaburang

I’ll explore the rest of the Himalayas and Mount Everest after a deep dive into India. Heading South next.

Leg 144, Ngari Gunsa, Tibet, via Pakistan to Ahmedabad, India

DAY01_13.PLN (7.4 KB)

Sunrise over the Himalayas then on to New Delhi and the Taj Mahal in Agra

01-12 Ngari Gunsa ZUAL 8:02 PM Climb to 18.5Kft FLC 90 to 21Kft to avoid peaks
01-12 Kullu Manali VIBR 9:07 PM Sunrise 8:58 PM
01-12 Jallowal VI88 9:39 PM Golden temple next 31°37’12"N 74°52’37"
01-12 Amritsar VIAR 9:54 PM
01-12 Allama Iqbal Intl OPLA 10:07 PM Entered the bad stutter zone again CoherentGTDraw spikes to 600ms
01-12 Faisalabad Intl OPFA 10:39 PM Bad stuttering again until touch down
01-12 Okara OPOK 10:55 PM
01-12 Lallgarh VI1P 11:17 PM
01-12 Sirsa VISX 11:36 PM
01-12 Hissar VIHR 11:53 PM
01-13 Bhiwani VIBW 12:04 AM
01-13 Indira Gandi Intl VIDP 12:23 AM
01-13 Safdarjung VIDD 12:30 AM Lotus temple
01-13 Dhanipur Airstrip VIAH 12:54 AM
01-13 Agra AB VIAG Taj Mahal 1:09 AM
01-13 Jaipur VIJP 1:51 AM
01-13 Vanasthali VANI 2:05 AM
01-13 Ondwa VA1H 2:40 AM
01-13 Udaipur VAUD 3:01 AM
01-13 Ahmedabad VAAH 3:49 AM

Flight time 7:47 19 stops

Departing from Nagru Gunsa, climbing to 18,500ft to cross the ridge

Qusum town before dawn, climbing on to 21,000ft

Over Dundui

The sun is starts to hit the mountain peaks at Giu Thach

Lari still in the dark below

Sunrise over the Spiti river

That’s enough lens flare for today

Mikan and Mikkan on the Pin river

Pin Valley National Park

Thunda Bhuj Parvaty Valley

Kullu Manali Airport on the Baes river

Shamshi in the same valley

Jalpa Forest

Following the Baes river out of the mountains

Sutley river below, Baes river reservoir in the distance, created by Pong dam

Amritsar, Punjab, home of the gilded Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib)

Harmandir Sahib is the holiest gurdwara (religious complex) of the Sikh religion

Partition museum on the right, chronicling the 1947 partition of India & Pakistan

Faisalabad, formerly known as Lyallpur, historically one of the first planned cities within British India

The Clock Tower, center of the city, on the lower left in the screenshot above

Aka “Ghanta Ghar” گھنٹہ گھر in Urdu which translates into “Hour House”

Durjanpur, indicative of 90% of the landscape in Northern India

Indira Gandi International Airport

New Delhi, the capital of India, central park down in the circle below

Rashtrapati Bhavan, official residence plus Mughal and herbal gardens of the President of India

Baha’i Lotus Temple, opened in 1986 and open to those of all religions

So much to see in New Delhi. Qutab Minar on the left, 73m tapering tower built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak after defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom

Humayun’s tomb of Mughal Emperor Humayun, built in 1572 in the middle

Shri Laxmi Narayan Temple (Birla Mandir) on the right. 7.5 acre Hindu temple complex, up to a large extent dedicated to Laxminarayan. The side temples are dedicated to Shiva, Krishna and Buddha. I could be completely wrong, the picture looks like to be a side temple dedicated to Krishna, the god of compassion. The swastika at the top of the temple symbolizes surya (“sun”), prosperity and good luck. The mirror (left facing) variant 卍 is called sauvastika, symbolizing night or tantric aspects of Kali.

Some images from India’s rich culture, found at the National museum

Agrasan Ki Baoli, step-well from the 10th century

Isa Khan’s tomb, built in 1547–1548 during the reign of Sher Shah Suri

Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Humayun’s tomb complex

Sri Bangla Sahib Gurudwara, one of the most prominent Sikh gurdwara, or Sikh house of worship

Features a holy river inside its complex with healing properties, known as the “Sarovar.”

There is much more to see in New Delhi, meanwhile my plane is already at Agra Air Base

Agra is where the Taj Mahal is located

17th-century, Mughal-style, marble mausoleum, one of the great wonders of the modern world

A view of the interior

Heading South, more cultivated land, mostly flat with some hills appearing at Sankarwada

Udaipur, Rajasthan, formerly the capital of the Mewar Kingdom

Founded by Maharana Udai Singh II in 1559, also know as the city of lakes

Home to plenty lavish royal residences, and below Nethru Garden, island garden in Fateh Sagar Lake

Memorial of the Rajput hero Maharana Pratap (1540-1597) on the left, the 13th king of Mewar

Jagmandir in the middle and Jagdish Hindu temple on the right

City Palace on lake Pichola, monumental 16th century complex of 11 palaces, courtyards and gardens

Ahar museum, containing sculptures & artifacts dating to the 10th century, plus cenotaphs of royal rulers

Over the years I’ve been conditioned to immediately associate this with a water level puzzle. The Longshot must be in a chamber underneath.

Last stop for today, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, on the Sabarmati River

Hutheesing Jain Temple, 19th-century marble Jain temple

And the Calico Museum of Textiles, devoted to 5 centuries of Indian fabrics & weaving techniques

No lack of visual splendor in India, so much to see. I’ll be heading further South tomorrow.

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Leg 145, Ahmedabad, Gujarat to Sholapur, Maharashtra, India

DAY01_14.PLN (8.4 KB)

A lot more India, mostly the cities. Most of the area I flew over is all cultivated with lots of cities. 1.4 billion people, 382 per sq km, it shows. And so much to see in cities, I might have more external screenshots this leg than views from the game.

01-13 Ahmedabad VAAH 7:19 PM
01-13 Rajkot VARK 8:00 PM
01-13 Amereli Airstrip VAAM 8:17 PM Virtual vision landing
01-13 Bhavnagar VABV 8:37 PM
01-13 Surat VASU 8:55 PM
01-13 Vadodara VABO 9:22 PM
01-13 Khargo Govt. Airstrip VAKH 10:08 PM
01-13 Devi Ahilyabai Holkar VAID Indore 10:29 PM
01-13 Bentaya VE85 10:43 PM
01-13 Bhopal VABP 11:16 PM massive input lag, fine after touch down
Bad stutter is back, CoherentGTDraw spiking again, flat terrain, nothing out of the ordinary, fine after landing
01-13 Amla VA1L 11:54 PM
01-14 Nagpur VANP 12:20 AM
01-14 Chanda VA1B 12:44 AM
01-14 Adilabad VAAD 1:02 AM Massive stuttering on the ground, fine in the air
01-14 Basanth Nagar VORG 1:35 AM
01-14 Warangal VOWA 1:52 AM
01-14 Hakimpet VOHK 2:21 AM
01-14 Hyderabad VOHY 2:28 AM
01-14 Nadirgul VALA 2:36 AM
01-14 Rajiv Gandhi Intl VOHS 2:47 AM
01-14 Bidar VOBR 3:15 AM
01-14 Gulbarga VAGU 3:33 AM
01-14 Sholapur VASL 3:59 AM

Flight time 8:40 22 stops

Rajkot in the western Indian state of Gujarat

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) spent part of his childhood here in Kaba Gandhi No Delo

Who hasn’t heard of Gandhi, considered the father of India, best known for his nonviolent resistance, leading the successful campaign for India’s independence from British rule. (He used nukes just as readily as everyone else in Sid Meier’s 1991 Civilization though :p)

And of course known for many inspiring quotes like
“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

Sadly Gandhi was assassinated for his efforts to calm religious tensions in a recently split-up India. He inspired many others around the world to continue non violent resistance, for example Martin Luther King jr adapted Gandhi’s idea of civil disobedience. Martin Luther King was assassinated as well…

Surat, on the Tapi river close to the Arabian Sea, once known for silk weaving

Dutch and Armenian cemetery on the left with colonial era tombs

On the right a view of the restored Surat Castle, build in the 16th century by Sultan Mahmood III to defend the city against Portuguese colonists.

Flying over the confluence of the Namada and Hathni rivers

One of the few rugged places on this leg

Indore in west-central India on the Saraswati river

Home of the 18th century 7-story Rajwada Palace from the Holkar dynasty

In total contrast, the 19th century Lal Bagh Palace, also from the Holkar dynasty

Bhopal in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh

At the edge of the city, Van Vihar National Park Bhopal

Between the city and the park, Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya

Anthropology museum depicting the history of mankind with outdoor reproductions of villages

The State Museum here has fossils, paintings and rare Jain sculptures

The Tawa reservoir, dam and hydro plant on the Tawa river

A bit of forest near Amla

Nagpur in the central Indian state of Maharashtra

Sitabuldi Fort, hilltop fort & site of the Battle of Sitabuldi, next to the train station

Currently housing the 118th infantry battalion

The Zero Mile Stone, geographical center of India under British Raj

All distances in India were measured from here during colonial rule

Deekshabhoomi, sacred monument of Navayana Buddhism and pilgrimage site

Maha Bodhi Tree on the right, grown from three branches of the Bodhi Tree at Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka). The saplings were taken from the same Bodhi Tree planted by Sanghamitra, daughter of the Great Emperor Asoka, during her monkhood (253 BC). The Bodhi Tree in Sri Lanka was originally a sapling from the bodhivriksha under which the Buddha became enlightened.

The typical landscape around Dodanda

Hills coming in at Lingapur

Cement factory at Basanth Nagar Airport, Ramagundam Airport on the map

Warangal in the south Indian state of Telangana, here looking at Fort Warangal in the center

Warangal was the capital of the Kakatiya dynasty from the 12th to 14th century

Many intricately carved monuments from this period still stand among the 13th century ruins of Warangal Fort

As well as the Thousand pillar temple build in 1163

Hyderabad Begumpet Airport

Hyderabad is the capital of southern India’s Telangana state and a major center for the technology industry

Situated around Hussain Sagar lake, housing a giant Budha Statue on a small island

Sanjeevaiah Park with Flag monument, the target above the maze garden

Chilkur Balaji Temple, known as ‘Visa’ Balaji, drawing devotees who wish for visas abroad

“popularly know as Visa God among IT people. If you are facing any difficulties in getting Visa, just go to temple, have a wish for it and then make 11 round of temple. Once the wish fulfilled, again have darshan and make 108 round of main temple.”

Birla Mandir, large Hindu temple built on a 280 feet high hillock called Naubath Pahad

The Budha statue on its own island in lake Hussain Sagar on the left

And one of the Qutb Shabi tombs built by the various kings of the Qutb Shahi dynasty

At the edge of Bidar

Sholapur Airport, in the south-western region of Maharashtra

Solapur Bhuikot Fort, strong Dark souls vibes

Further South tomorrow to the tip of India.

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Leg 146, Sholapur, Maharashtra to Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India

DAY01_15.PLN (9.7 KB)

Another full leg of India, wonderful country. More varied landscape this time with some great sights.

01-14 Sholapur VASL 7:28 PM
01-14 Osmanabad OMN 7:42 PM Virtual vision landing
01-14 Aurangabad VAAU 8:22 PM
01-14 Shirdi VASD 8:39 PM Bad stutter time, maybe it’s early morning related, gone after take off
01-14 Ozar VAOZ 8:56 PM
01-14 Vijay Nagar VADE 9:05 PM
01-14 Juhu VAJJ 9:33 PM
01-14 Chhatrapati Shivaji Intl VABB 9:36 PM Mumbai, formerly Bombay, Bollywood
01-14 Aamby Valley VALO 9:51 PM Bugged terrain, random spikes
01-14 Pune AB VAPO 10:05 PM
01-14 Pune VAPN 10:10 PM
01-14 Karad VA1M 10:38 PM
01-14 Ratnagiri VARG 11:03 PM
01-14 Kolhapur VAKP 11:25 PM
01-15 Dabolim VOGO Vasco da Gama 12:01 AM
01-15 Hubli VOHB 12:37 AM
01-15 Baldota Koppal Aerodrame VAKA 1:02 AM
01-15 Vijayanagar Aerodrome VASA 1:13 AM
01-15 Bellary VO17 1:23 AM
01-15 Sri Sathya Sai VOPN 1:56 AM
01-15 Kempegowda Intl VOBL 2:21 AM
01-15 Yelahanka AB VOYK 2:28 AM
01-15 Bangalore VOBG 2:41 AM
01-15 Hosur VO95 2:51 AM
01-15 Salem VOSM 3:17 AM
01-15 Sulur VOSX 3:43 AM
01-15 Coimbatore VOCB 3:50 AM

Flight time 8:22 26 stops

Arriving at Aurangabad at dawn, located in Maharashtra state

The hills at the North side of the city house some amazing caves

A complex of 12 6th to 8th century caves with Buddhist shrines, stupas & statues carved into basalt rock

Shirdi, small town in the state of Maharashtra, in western India

Known as the former home of revered spiritual leader Sai Baba and has become a major pilgrimage site

Sai temple, Sai Baba mandir (mandir meaning spiritual place)

Ozar, aka Ojhar

Here you can find the HAL museum (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)

Flying over the Dama river

Ghoti Budruk where there is a fort on top of the hill

and the Stargazing Mumbai Observation Site is located at the foot of the hills

Mumbai on the Arabian sea, known as Bombay until 1995

The name was changed since Bombay was seen as a legacy of British colonialism. The regional political party wanted the city’s name to reflect its Maratha heritage, hence renaming it to pay tribute to the goddess Mumbadevi.

More ancient cave temples can be found here on Elephanta island up ahead

Many other great sights, yet Mumbai is most famous as the heart of the Bollywood film industry

Not just great movies, Bollywood also inspired many flash mobs around the world

I need to watch more Bollywood, always a great spectacle

Flying back inland, quick stop over in Aamby Valley

Mulshi Lake

Created by Mulshi dam

Pune on the Mula Mutha river

Once the base of the Peshwas (prime ministers) of the Maratha Empire (1674-1818)

Aga Khan Palace built in 1892 and now a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi

Also the site of Gandhi’s 2-year imprisonment in the 1940s

Pataleshwar caves, Hindu temple from the 8th century carved from basalt rock, still in use

Fort Vajragad on the hill, find a hill, find a fort on top

Near Karad

Koyna river

Lots of windmills around Matrewadi

Chandoli dam backing up the Warana river

Gadgadi river

Ratnagiri, port town on the Arabia sea

Home to Thiba Palace which was the residence of the exiled king of Burma (Myanmar nowadays)

Kolhapur on the banks of the Panchaganga River

Known for Shree Mhalaxmi Ambabai Temple, 12th century Hindu temple and pilgrimage site

And for my collection of video games inspired by India, Myst/Riven added to the list

Lake Kalamba with half sunken Sandhya Math on the left

Lake Phatakwadi hidden in the forests

Near Udeli

Stand off at Vasco da Gama

First time I’ve seen these ship models, it looks like they are surprised to see each other as well

Vasco da Gama on the Mormugao peninsula in Goa, western India

Vazara waterfalls

Feeding the Supa Dam reservoir

Supa Dam and the Kali river

More windmills at Atmakur

Sri Sathya Sai Airport

Near Harobande

Yelehanka Air Base at Bangalore, aka Bengaluru

Bengaluru is the capital of India’s southern Karnataka state. The center of India’s high-tech industry.

Bengaluru has many lakes, including lake Rachenahali

And Ulsoor lake park / Halasuru Lake in the center

Bengalore Airport

Bengalore is known for its vibrant night life

And stand up comedy

The weather is getting worse, near Salem

One more shot before disappearing in the clouds, near Dadapuram

Tomorrow I’ll set sail for the Maldives, then back to India via Sri Lanka.

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Leg 147, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India via Maldives to Koggala, Sri Lanka

DAY01_16.PLN (5.7 KB)

Great day, I solved the terrible stuttering problem I kept getting! It turned out it was from turning the ATC voices off… Every time my co pilot wanted to talk to ATC I got up to a 700ms stutter. Since at low visibility (night / early morning) ATC often denies landing requests, the game enters in a loop where my co-pilot keeps asking for landing clearance. Which result in getting up to 700ms stutters every 2 seconds from 11nm out to the next runway. Bizarre combination of bugs.

ATC voice is back on, co-pilot is no longer allowed to touch the radio. I now either switch frequency or wait until ATC gives up, no answer, no stuttering.

01-15 Coimbatore VOCB 7:03 PM
Bad stuttering already, not even close to dawn, CoherentGTDraw spiking again up to 700ms
Reducing terrain detail has no effect, game is missing many key presses as well, nearly unplayable
01-15 Calicut VOCL 7:30 PM
Cleared up again after touch down, stays gone. Next time just land on a field to solve it…
Stutters re-appear 4 minutes from the airport, like it hates approaches
EUREKA!!! I turned ATC voices off a while ago, after turning them back on, problem solved!
01-15 Cochin Intl VOCI 7:59 PM
01-15 Cochin VOCC 8:05 PM
01-15 9°52’43.45"N 77°21’13.89"E 8:34 PM CTD in heavy storm no visuals, was editing pictures

01-15 Last known coordinates 8:41 PM
01-15 Madurai VOMD 9:01 PM
01-15 Ramnad Naval Air VORM 9:26 PM
01-15 Dhanushkodi Point 9°8’59.41"N 79°26’57.98"E 9:40 PM
01-15 Tuticorin Southwest VOTK 10:10 PM
01-15 Thiruvananthapuram VOTV 10:39 PM
01-16 Hanimaadhoo VRMH 12:05 AM
01-16 Male Intl VRMM 1:03 AM
01-16 Thimarafushi VRNT 1:45 AM Runway missing, just a concrete base for airport
01-16 Kadhdhoo VRMK 1:59 AM
01-16 Gan VRMG 3:00 AM

01-16 Gan VRMG 12:34 PM 587nm to next stop (fly high or lean mixture)
01-16 Koggala VCCK 3:47 PM 20 knot tailwind 196 GS at FL700, slowed down to 178 GS 2 knot headwind
11:03 14 2835 1,792nm 139,510nm

Calicut, coastal city in the south Indian state of Kerala

Which is close to Kappad beach where Vasco da Gama (1460s - 1524) landed in 1498

Cochin International Airport

Cochin aka Kochi on the Arabian sea close to Lakshadweep tropical archipelago

A port since 1341, when a flood carved out its harbor and opened it to Arab, Chinese and European merchants.

Vasco house in Kochi and his original tomb in St Francis CSI church

St Francis is India’s first European church, built in the 15th century. Vasco da Gama’s remains were later moved back to Portugal and buried in 1880 at Jerónimos Monastery near Lisbon.

Chinese cantilever fishing nets near Fort Kochi on the left

Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica Fort Kochi on the right, reconstructed 1880s Catholic church originally built by the Portuguese in the 1500s.

Dawn approaching on the way to Madurai

Near Palkulam Medu

Kottakkalli hills

Sunrise over the Kottakkalli hills

And then I got swallowed by the clouds

Lots of windmills near Thappukundu

Madurai, ancient city on the Vaigai River in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu

Meenakshi Amman Temple, a major Hindu pilgrimage site

Madurai’s skyline is dominated by the 14 colorful gopurams (gateway towers)

A peek inside Meenakshi Amman Temple

Ramnad, aka Ramanathapuram on the Palk straight

Rameswaram on Pamban Island, looking towards Sri Lanka

Dhanuskodi, abandoned town at the south-eastern tip of Pamban Island

The town was destroyed during the 1964 Rameswaram cyclone and remains uninhabited

Dhanuskodi point, I could not resist landing there

On the left the remains of a church in Dhanuskodi

48km the other way is Sri Lanka over Adam’s bridge, now a chain of limestone shoals. It was reportedly passable on foot until the 15th century when storms deepened the channel. The sea still rarely exceeds 3ft in depth along the former land bridge. I’m heading to the Maldives first.

Thoothukudi, formerly known as Tuticorin in the Coromandel Coast of Bay of Bengal

Climbing over the mountain range near Agasthyamalai mountain peak (6,129ft)

Neyyar dam ahead

38% of India’s installed electricity generation capacity is from renewable sources

Thiruvananthapuram, capital of the southern Indian state of Kerala

Sreevaraham temple pond with Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple a bit further ahead

Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple

1729 temple complex with shrine to Padmanabha reclining on a serpent

On to the Maldives, spotted a couple of the 1190 islands in the distance

Hanimaadhoo, just like with the Seychelles, coverage is very spotty. The good half of the island

Unfortunately, not a palm tree anywhere

So many little islands, most of which can be gone by 2100

Hinnavaru, it’s about twice the size in aerial view on Google and Bing, high tide simulator

Kaashidhoo

Palm trees, they are there. I guess no palm tree models yet

Malé, the densely populated capital of the Maldives

(aerial imagery is a mess to the left and right)

Very pretty place with an uncertain future

Rising water isn’t the only problem, safe drinking water another

Coming in for a landing at Kadhdhoo

Hulhumeedhoo part of the Addu Atoll, the southernmost atoll of the archipelago

Gan Airport, Addu City, small island marking the southernmost point of the Maldives

Still expanding despite rising water levels

As with the Seychelles, my impressions of the Maldives were largely formed by Survivor

Back in the days the show still showed some of the history of the places they visited

I made the flight to Sri Lanka today, night time over the Laccadive sea

Arrival at Koggala, Sri Lanka

No lights at the runway however it was in the G1000 and is located in between two lit streets, the black strip ahead, relatively easy landing.

Pretty place with another way of fishing

Tonight I’ll be exploring Sri Lanka, 7:56 PM sunrise.

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Leg 148, Koggala, Sri Lanka to Visakhapatnam, Bay of Bengal, India

DAY01_17.PLN (8.4 KB)

Sri Lanka is very nice, would love to visit for real some time

01-16 Koggala VCCK 7:22 PM
01-16 Katukurunda AB VCCN 7:38 PM
01-16 Colombo VCCC 7:46 PM
01-16 Bandaranaike Intl Colombo VCBI 7:57 PM Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte Capital inside Colombo
01-16 Amparai VCCG 8:40 PM
01-16 Batticaloa AB VCCB 8:49 PM
01-16 Minneriya VCCH 9:10 PM
01-16 Sigiriya VCCS landmark 9:25 PM
01-16 Anuradhapura AB VCCA 9:39 PM Ruwanwelisaya Stupa, Bodhi Tree, sapling to Nagpur, India
01-16 Vavuniya VCCV 9:53 PM
01-16 Iranamuda VCKI 10:08 PM Dirt road street view, palm leaves stuck on the camera
01-16 Tanjore VOTJ 10:52 PM
01-16 Tiruchirappalli VOTR 11:11 PM
01-16 Puduchery VOPC 11:47 PM
01-17 Tambaram VOTX 12:12 AM
01-17 Chennai Intl VOMM 12:19 AM
01-17 Arkonam VOAR 12:34 AM
01-17 Tirupati VOTP 12:49 AM
01-17 Nagarjuna Sagar VONS 1:59 AM
01-17 Vijayawada VOBZ 2:37 AM
01-17 Tadepallegudem VATA 2:54 AM
01-17 Rajahmundry VORY 3:08 AM
01-17 Vishakhapatnam VOVZ 3:47 AM

Flight time 8:22 1,138nm 22 stops

Early early dawn at Kutukurunda on the West coast, Laccadive Sea

Colombo, the commercial capital and largest city of Sri Lanka

Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, aka Kotte, the official administrative capital of Sri Lanka

A satellite city and located within the urban area of Colombo

It looks like Colombo is losing beach front as well

Independence square on the left. Sri Lanka gained independence from British rule in 1948

Lotus Tower on the right, 365 meters, great place to view the city from

Also plenty religious sites around the city, 1909 Jami Ul Alfar Mosque mosque on the left

Gangaramaya temple and Seema Malakaya to the right

A selection from the national museum of Sri Lanka

The weather was unruly early morning, thunderstorms on the way to Amparai

Heavy rain near Adhikarigama

Clearing up a bit, sun spotted

Crossing the Ganga river

Crossing the maha Oya (Oya river) near Rambukkana

Minneriya, near Minneriya lake which was built by King Mahasena of Anuradhapura (ruled 277 to 304 AD)

Minneriya wewa (tank, reservoir) and Minneriya National Park, hot spot for safari lovers

Manihira (Minneriya) is the largest of the 16 tanks build by King Mahasen

Sigiriya or Sinhagiri, ancient rock fortress near the town of Dambulla

King Kashyapa (477-495 AD) built his palace on the top of this rock

Abandoned after the King’s death, it was used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century

The path to the top and lion gate on the right

Sigiriya today is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site as one of the best preserved examples of ancient urban planning

View of Sigiriya from Pidurangala, best place to view Sigiriya, popular place for hiking

Pidurangala is also home to a 48ft long sleeping Buddha

Anaradhapura Air Base

Ruwanwelisaya stupa, 140 BC sacred Buddhist site, 338ft high stupa

Nearby is Jetavanaramaya, the world largest stupa, build by King Mahasen (273-301 AD)

One of the tallest structures in the ancient world, 400ft high, and the largest brick building ever built

Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi Tree Court, a sacred fig tree in the Mahamewna Gardens, Anuradhapura

It is said to be the southern branch from the historical Sri Maha Bodhi at Buddha Gaya in India under which Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment. Planted in 288 BC, it is the oldest living human-planted tree with a known planting date. Today it is one of the most sacred relics of the Buddhists in Sri Lanka and respected by Buddhists all over the world.

Leaving Sri Lanka behind already, on the way to Thuraikkuda, India

Thambikkottai, Tamil Nadu, India

Tanjore in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu

Brihadeeswara temple on the left, 11th century Chola dynasty–era complex

Maratha palace middle and right, 16th century fortress

Tiruchirappalli, also called Tiruchi or Trichy

The Kaveri (center) and Kollidam (right) rivers flow around Srirangam Island

Home to the ancient Rock Fort Temple complex towering over the city

Thayumanaswami Temple, Rockfort, build in the 6th century

Chennai International Airport

Chennai on the bay of Bengal at the end of the Adyar river

Home to fort St George, first British fortress built in India, established in 1644

Edword Elliot’s beach with the Karl Schmidt memorial, commemorating a European sailor who drowned in 1930 while saving the life of a girl. The English girl attended a party the following evening as though nothing had happened. The then governor, who was apparently angry with her, built the memorial to mark Schmidt’s gallant act.

And Santhome Cathedral Basilica, rebuilt in 1896 at the site of St. Thomas Apostle’s tomb.

Near the Kailasakona Waterfalls

Sri Venkateswara Swamy Vaari Temple, Tirumala

Venkatagiri Hills Nature Preserve

Passing Narrawada

Near Gajjalakonda

Vijayawada on the Krishna River in the southeast Indian state of Andhra Pradesh

The Paraksam Barrage across the Krishna river

Paraksam barage and the missing train bridges in the screenshot above

Sri Durga Malleswara Swamy Varla, pilgrimage destination dedicated to the goddess Kanaka Durga

Undavalli caves, carved-stone temple from the 4th century on the South-West side of the river

The sacred Godavari river at Rajamundry

Rajamundry, on the eastern banks of the Godavari River

Along the river, Hindu devotees bathe in the Godavari from Saraswati and Pushkar ghats (bathing steps)

Briefly climbed above the low hanging clouds over Yerravaram

Last stop today, Visakhapatnam, port city on the Bay of Bengal

Next up, further North towards the Himalayas

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