Eastern Island

President Klaus climbs the country's highest mountain, a Czech firm finally braves the Austrian market and, the governor of Easter Island visits the home town of the Czech who made the Maoi statues "walk". Find out more in Magazine with Daniela Lazarova.

Vaclav Klaus climbs Snezka mountain,  photo: CTK
President Klaus this week joined hundreds of people in the traditional St. Vavrinec Day pilgrimage to the top of the Czech Republic's highest mountain Snezka. The annual climb takes place on St. Vavrinec Day - i.e. on August 10th - since St. Vavrinec is the patron saint of the Czech Republic's highest mountain. Right there -on its highest peak - you will find the St. Vavrinec Chapel. Several hundred people from the Czech Republic and Poland undertook the climb this year and the President repeatedly stopped to chat with fans and give autographs along the way. The 1, 600 metre climb to the top of Snezka took him three and a half hours. Once there, he and hundreds of others attended a mass served by Bishop Dominik Duk. The president's entourage included members of the local mountain rescue team, the director of the Krkonose National Park and the mayors of several mountain villages. 84 year old Bishop Karel Otcenasek who also attended the mass on Snezka was taken up by car.

Czechs heading for Easter Island may be sure of a fine reception. On Easter Island everyone knows where the Czech Republic lies and they know well the name of one man - no, not President Klaus - nor the former president Vaclav Havel - but Pavel Pavel from the south Bohemian town of Strakonice. Pavel Pavel, whose first and second names happen to be identical, solved the mystery of how the Maoi statues were moved around the island. Each of the stone statues weighs several tons and Pavel Pavel figured out a way in which it can easily be moved by three or four people. He experimented with wooden planks and ropes near his home town of Strakonice with a few friends -until he hit on the solution. He joined the Thor Heyerdahl expedition to the island soon after to prove his point - and it worked. Today there are plaques in English, Czech, Rapa Nui and Spanish next to the Maoi statues telling tourists about the Czech man who made the Maoi staues "walk".

Pavel Pavel and the governor of Easter Island Enrique Pakarati,  photo: CTK
So it was no surprise when last week, the governor of Easter Island Enrique Pakarati, arrived in the Czech Republic and headed straight for Strakonice - Pavel Pavel's home town. "Yes, we know about your country," the governor told reporters, "I even know that the Czech Republic has the biggest number of Maoi statue replicas in the world" he added. Each year many Czechs travel to see the Maoi statues for themselves and in many ways Pavel Pavel has brought Easter Island and the Czech Republic closer. The only brewery on the island is Czech and now there are new business deals being discussed. The governor of Easter Island said he recently played a match against a Czech team back home - and then sat on the playing field with some Czech tourists drinking beer. Asked what he liked most about the Czech Republic Mr. Pakarati said : your breathtaking architecture and your fantastic beer!

Three months after the Czech Republic's entry to the EU, a Czech firm has opened shop in neighbouring Austria - a shop selling flowers, ceramics and gardening tools. Although Austrian and German businesses are no exception on the Czech market, the arrival of the first Czech firm in the town of Gmund drew plenty of media attention. The first Czech courageous enough to give it a try told the local media "expenditures are much higher than they are back home - on the other hand Austrian customers appreciate good service and are willing to pay a higher price for quality goods". The firm now employs two Austrian employees and is hoping to expand if business proves to be good. Economists predict that it will take a while for others to follow. At present many Czechs are put off by the high expenditures and more expensive labour as compared to the Czech Republic - but in time they will surely come to appreciate the potential - and the profits.

The oath of professional soldiers,  photo: CTK
The first three hundred professional soldiers of the modernized and streamlined Czech Armed forces took their oath at a public ceremony in the town of Prerov this week. Among them were 85 women. Following several months of training they will be assigned to serve in different parts of the country. Unlike so many others before them these soldiers will not be counting the days until they can leave barracks. They have ideals, hopes of an exciting and well-paid career and a desire to do something worthwhile. "These young people can be proud of themselves" an army official told the press "the selection process was tough and they are the cream of the crop."

Latest statistics show that the number of active mobile phones in the Czech Republic went up by one million, year on year, to 10. 8 million at the end of June. For a country with 10. 2 million inhabitants that's quite an achievement and experts say the market is practically satiated. However with the Czech mobile mania and people's desire to own the latest gadgets on the market they are not overly concerned about future sales...

Many people living in the country or on the outskirts of town occasionally save a wild animal in distress - a bird, hedgehog or even a deer. And sometimes it means making a friend for life. Five years ago 72 year old Jaroslav Zdrha got a little fawn from a local hunter who had found it abandoned on the outskirts of the forest. Its mother had been killed by a passing car. Jaroslav and his wife took it in and cared for it like a baby for the first year of its life. Betty soon became a member of the family and made friends with both her hosts and all the farm animals - in particular the two farm dogs. When Betty was fully reared - a year later - she was returned to the wild. But much to the family's surprise and joy she makes daily visits to the farm and accompanies the old man on every trip to the forest. "I have no idea how she knows I'm there, but whenever I go to the forest she's at my side in minutes," Jaroslav says. Naturally Betty gets a pat and a small treat every time she turns up and the family dogs never miss a chance to frolic with her. She's been living in the wild for four years now - but she's never forgotten to pay us a daily visit and she even brings her own young to show off- Jaroslav says with pride. His only concern is for her safety when the hunting season starts. The locals all know about Betty - and with her sides liberally sprayed with paint during the hunting season to help identify her - she has so far been spared by all the local hunters. Hopefully her luck will hold...