Alternate travel experiences

You might have played this before at some corporate event. You know – being trapped in a room where you have to search for clues leading you to the numbers that open a lock or a door to escape. But this seems to be getting to a new level. Would you go for being trapped in a real basement? The article suggests that Hungary is the where you can experience this intensity of the game.

The point of our post is, does each journey you embark on build you memories? Because sometimes alternate travel experiences do. But do you need that?

We’ve been writing about journeys with a purpose (here & here). What we referred to were journeys in which you built memories. You know, something you can recall. Not the ones where you’ve been and its like “wow what did we do there?”… and in some cases, alternate travel experiences might hold the key to keeping those journeys memorable. But that’s for one to decide upon.

Have you ever wondered, as you looked through the photos you’ve taken that they seem similar? That sandy white beach could have been on the Maldives, Mauritius or the Philippines (or Caribbean, list goes on). If you hadn’t sorted them out, how’d you know? What would be the spark that helps you recall that journey?

We aim to put a story or a topic of discussion in our postings. And we try utmost to do the same in our handprint stories to help us remember (heheh getting old perhaps). And of course the game we referred to does not have to be a claustophic one. One could try ‘escaping’ from the city. Justine did exactly that (read here). Would you play an escape game in every city you get to?

Brings new meaning to getting away on an ‘escape’ doesn’t it?

Off to Hua Hin!

Yaay! We are going on our road trip to this coastal resort town approximately 200km south of the city of Angels. Even as you read this we would have touched down in Bangkok and picked up the rental car to make the drive to the timeshare apartment. Yesterday… Yep this is a scheduled post so note the past tense.

Well, not quite.

For first we spent the first night not far from the airport, as we stock up on necessities and made a stab at Rod Fai night market. Heard of this one? Well look out for the journalog where more will be shared.

Only after that in the following morning (like now) will it will be a 200km+ drive. And we expect to take more than the 3 hours Google suggested since we will most likely sidetrack:

What will we be doing? For one thing when one have their own set of wheels, the road is open! Can you hear the music or our bad singing? Heheh… Suan has crafted out the following that we must do:

  • Vineyards (huh? Yep there are quite a few)
  • Royal retreats (Definitely see the rail station)
  • Night markets (For the food only)

No shopping? Yep. In this parts, there is nothing for even the Queen of shopping to identify for a browse. But mostly in between we shall be taking it easy. So no wordpress for a whole week. We’re suppose to be on vacation right? Hence our advanced apologies if it seemed we’ve ditched reading your posts… we are busy… heheh

Wish you are here! A journalog cometh. Watch this space and TTYL.

Food tour of 张家界

Since we are on a roll here with food posts, here’s one that also happens to be a handprint story.

Perhaps you’ve not read our journalogs (two parts) on the journeys we made to the “avatar” inspiring landscape of Zhang Jia Jie (张家界) here. And so we tell you, you’ve missed out! LOL. But today’s post is not about the beautiful landscapes that you missed because misty days made us miss some too.

Rather, we want to share with you the incredible food journey we experienced while journeying through the misty lands that seem to be forever (at least when we went) shrouded in mystery…

Really you ask? What can there be in them mountains?

From strange looking edible fungi to tuber that is medicinally sought after, such are the wonders that nature produces. Could this be the reason that the sages of yore went to the mountains to seek out the meaning elixir of life? Perhaps. But more important is that the loss of such habitats is irreversible. Which is why we are advocates of conservation and a limit to development. Through land use intensification coupled with adequate infrastructure for living and playing, we can save these bastions of natural pharmacies alive!

Such were some of the meals that infused these local ingredients into both a feast to the eyes and the stomach. Because eventhough there were only two of us, we still got the usual many course meals. It was hearty indeed for every day we are surprised.

Take a read here and whet your appetite to make the same food journey. Wouldn’t you like to visit the land of the avatars?

Celebrating festivals

As a tourist, seeing festivals around the world is fascinating. Afterall they are different from our own customs, exotic to most outsiders (here). From wife carrying competition in Finland to La Tomatina in Spain just last month, travelers flock to these events to join in the fun.

Many years back we recalled Mel’s boss in Holland reminiscing how as a young man in the 1970s he had climbed up high on temples in Bali watching the proceedings of ceremonies and festivals. Those were the days when western travellers were few and far between and when places like Bali were truly exotic, sometimes bordering on risky to put it mildly.

In all of our journeys so far, we’ve not had the fortune of being in the midst of important festivals or celebrations. And being part of the drinking party during Oktoberfest or on St Patrick’s day don’t count in our view. Except that one time in Malta (here) when we arrived just in time to watch the carnival processions. Not as outlandish perhaps compared to the one in Venice, it was nonetheless an experience to participate along with the locals in the revelry, though in Malta it was a little more “subdued” in our opinion. Perhaps that has evolved now over the years – will someone correct us?

And finally there is the bizarre. Did you know there is a cat food festival near Lima every September? No. They don’t feed the cats, the cats are the food. Yikes! On the other hand the festival of the horns is rather sobering. Look it up!

Have you joined in any unique festival before and where was that?

Cuisine that gives you a high

We say that gastronomy is one of the important aspects of any journey. To us anyway. As you might have read in our posts and journalogs, we make it a point to test out the local food scene wherever it is possible. While we are no connoisseurs, we do give our reviews of dining establishments. So we wonder if we would be too “high” to remember anything should we dine in some of the restaurants in LA if this article is really true.

So Amsterdam wake up! Los Angeles is catching up with you in legalizing “soft” drugs. And they are putting it into food too!

There has always been approved medicinal use for marijuana in the US. But what we refer to is how it has been sneakily upping the game with “weed” resturants! If you did not read the article, be assured that it is all rather fancy and pricey too. No back of the alley kind of thing. At least for now. More affordable “finger” food events are available for those who seek an introduction to such dining experiences. Intrigued?

While we are not proponents of loosening the stance against the misuse of drugs, we are also cognizant that abuse can happen in a host of other substances too. Just as consuming too much sugar can also be detrimental to one’s health, one cannot blame the substance alone. It cannot defend itself against your arguments! We should focus instead on ensuring people are educated about its use.

Like DUI, don’t drive after you’ve had a meal in such a restaurant. The author described how the “high” he felt. Being behind the wheels feeling this way would be risky for both driver and everyone else in the car and on the road too.

Come January 2018, will you flock to LA like how neighbouring Europeans go to the Netherlands for an opiod fix?

Enjoy the caves of 九乡

You might recall in an earlier post we shared our handprint story of struggling with rarefied air in the highlands near the Tibetan border. If you had read the story, you would also know that we ‘evacuated’ back to lower altitudes as soon as we could to avoid worsening our bout of altitude sickness. Talk about cutting losses…

What was one to do now that we are back at a more comfortable altitude?

Why we set out exploring of course! Because we only had two days remaining, it was not possible to go far. In fact, we only had the hotel nights in Kunming city itself, thus leaving for another city such as Lijiang was not possible without paying more and changing the flights home. Hey you’ve still gotta stick with budget right? Afterall one can still save for a return in the future. So where did we go?

The caves are alive with the sound of (Yunnan tribal) music… Yeah. That was sure fun.

But that was not all. We also visited a tea institute where the senior students host visitors and provide an appreciation of the prized tea of the highlands – Pu’er (普洱) tea. Not only are they aged for long long time, they are said to have wellness effects too. We bought a couple of ‘cakes’ of tea home and are still drinking them.

Yunnan is a fascinating mix of different ethnic cultures and natural beauty. Find out more about our cave exploration here and tell us if you’d do the same!