This summer is not over yet here in Nagoya, but it feels like it's winding down a bit as the temperature seems to hover just below 30 degrees in Celsius lately. I'm not a winter-person and a little stickiness in the air is always a vital source of my energy.
For the past couple of months I've been writing about the best places, best foods, etc on this blog. Now it's time for me to reveal things that you might wanna avoid if you ever travel to some of the following countries:

The Hottest Place I've ever been to (or recorded)
Where: Asuncion, Paraguay
Difficulty to Reach: Fairly Difficult (unless you are in South America)
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Comment: I always had a thermometer in my backpack just to measure my body temperature in case of having a flu or some nasty diseases, but never had one to check air-temperature while on the road; Well, I hardly needed it anyway.
This summer in Nagoya experienced 38.4 degrees in Celsius on August 1st as the season's highest. But this could still be a piece of cake when comparing it with 42.0 degrees or possibly higher later in the day while I was in Asuncion, Paraguay back in December 2010. I know that there are other places in the world where the air-temperature can go higher than 42 degrees. Yet it wasn't only the actual temperature that was killing me, but also the discomfort made up of high humidity in the air, tons of rubbish on the streets and the unattractive downtown of Asuncion.... This boiling day for me was so unbearable and my sympathies went out for the first time in my life to those boiled eggs on our breakfast table the next morning. Hot!

The Coldest Place I've ever been to
Where: Luzern, Switzerland
Difficulty to Reach: Easy
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Comment: You might have thought that I would pick up Antarctica for this, but No! Antarctica is certainly one of the most freezing places I've even been to. However, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, I could never precisely measure the air-temperature while in Antarctica simply because I didn't have proper equipment with me down there.
Meanwhile, Luzern in Switzerland isn't famous for freezing your balls off at all and I was there back in September 2012, which was only the beginning of lovely European autumn then. My Swiss friend Luzia, an all-time sport enthusiast, somehow came up with this crazy idea of taking me to a chamber with temperature as low as -110 degrees in Celsius. Yes, MINUS 110 ! And we were supposed to endure in the chamber for three minutes, but I couldn't. I tell you why: it wasn't freezing inside the chamber, it was just painful. Luzia calmly completed the full three-minute session though.

The Dumbest Heritage Site I've ever visited
Where: Ile de Goree in Dakar, Senegal
Difficulty to Reach: Relatively Easy
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Comment: Back in December 2011 many things didn't go well for me in Senegal, my very first country in Africa, as my flight SA208 from Washington DC to Dakar was delayed for two days and I had to use crutches to walk for a week after stepping onto nasty sea-urchins during one of my maiden surf-sessions in Dakar. Yes, I was dumb then, but nothing was dumber than Ile de Goree, aka Goree Island, registered as a cultural heritage site by UNESCO.
I was hoping to educate myself a little bit about the history of the New World slave trade - the Europeans shipping slaves across the Atlantic, but this tiny island turned out to be inhabited by local Senegalese people, most of whom (or all of whom?) were simply lured into the island because they could make money out of us - dumb tourists. I saw nothing outstanding or historical on the island other than kids playing around, men hanging around and women busy washing or preparing for dinner. Don't get me wrong. I love Senegal, but this island just didn't click for me. No wonder I never mentioned my visit to this island anywhere on Air Esky for the whole category of "32. Senegal".

The Ugliest Heritage Site I've ever visited
Where: La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain
Difficulty to Reach: Easy
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Comment: With all due respect to Spanish people, most of the buildings designed by Antonio Gaudi in Barcelona are very remarkable but a little too decorative and hardly marvellous in my opinion. Furthermore, La Sagrada Familia is no exception and simply ugly, especially the western side so-called Passion Facade which indeed has seemed to put too much passion into its face for cosmetic surgeries.
What sort of criteria did UNESCO apply to have this Roman Catholic church registered as a world heritage site? Yes, it's overwhelming because of its scale, yet oddly elegant due to its excessive exterior design. As many cranes are still hanging on top and more and more tourists as well as construction workers are flocking to it every day, it only helps deteriorate this Spanish granny.... Instead of the status of the world heritage site I would rather honour her with a Guinness world record - the longest ongoing construction work ever conducted by mankind.
Let's face it! This cathedral is definitely overrated. If I had been a devout Catholic, without a single doubt I would prefer to donate my money for street kids and homeless people.

The Scariest Experience I've ever had
Where: J-Bay, South Africa
Difficulty to Reach: Don't reach for it!
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Comment: Surprisingly, even after spending nearly five years on the road I only have a handful of stories for "live to tell the tale": Well, if I ever had several, I wouldn't be here now anyway :-)
Happy and funny stories are of course always good to tell and will probably be forever remembered whereas bad stories tend to fade away semi-permanently, yet they still pop up in the back of my head every now and then.
No cheating death during my entire journey except for one encounter in September 2013 in South Africa and a subsequent incident afterwards are by far the scariest experience I've ever had. I say "one encounter" because it occurred to me while I was surfing in J-Bay. And to cut a long story short: I was out there surfing with a couple of locals when all of us spotted a big shadow in the water which never ever looked like a dolphin; quite possibly a Great White of 2.5 ~ 3m long at least. Then my instinct was funny: As soon as I recognized it as a shark, both of my hands and legs naturally came up in the air and the only connection between the water and my body was my belly which was lying on my board; I must have looked like sky-diving on a surfboard. Hahaha! Nothing happened then and we all continued surfing on that day. Nonetheless, a couple of weeks later a local open-water swimmer was mauled in half in the same bay.... The whole town was in a state of shock for quite some time and it was extremely difficult for us to judge when it'd be safe enough for us to go back out there. Mick Fanning was sooooooo lucky by the way.


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