Happy 2018!

Although our little red dot won’t be the first to receive the new year (the Chatham islands of NZ does), we are nonetheless part of the hemisphere that spins into 2018 first. We use this word because this blog’s all about spinning little yarns for your reading pleasure. This is also the beginning of the third year of our blog. So we wish ourselves happy blogging day too.

And to you we wish you did not have too much of a hangover from last night.

Last year at this time we sent a post out from the Phoenix hotel on the outskirts of Beijing airport. So apt. The phoenix symbolizes a new beginning, rising from ashes and eventual ascendency in the skies. And so we store and put away 2017 to look forward to the new year.

This year, we shall continue with our handprint stories and share with you the journalogs of our journeys. The quarterly newsletter will be in its final year of publish and shall be discontinued, since we’ve observed that there is too much duplication with the blog. We shall also be starting up regular posts on the MRT stations of our little island + especially the environs around them. A sort of local tourism, unfortunately we are not commissioned by anyone to do so… they can pay us though because we don’t mind. Don’t argue with money – that’s our motto. And keep it comin

Have you made any resolutions to keep for this year? Or do you think resolutions are passé?

A selfie is all it takes

Imagine you are walking to your airline departure gate. You have only your hand carried luggage with you. Your passport or identification documents are tucked safely inside your bag. No boarding pass. And you get onto the flight.

What! No hassles?

Yep. If the trial that this airline in the US proves viable (read here), we could all just be taking a selfie and get on our way – flying across the friendlier skies… without being beaten up or dragged off the plane heheh…

Yes. Simply take a photo at the boarding gate and you will be waved through when the system signals the all clear. Wow we hear you holler out. Is that possible in today’s security obsessed airport terminals? While it is only a trial between one port pair from Boston to Aruba (hmm… wonder why), this pilot (not the flier) has great potential to be rolled out across all airports and airlines. A wonderful development in our opinion. Because it’s definitely coming, since iPhones can already do that.

One thing though. Because this technology works on image recognition, one might want to ensure that one’s photo records in the passport, immigration and identification documents are closely matching. Perhaps the software is intelligent enough to get through it these days (such s the physical features), but it pays to be diligent. Because our facial features do change as we age (that’s another topic to delve into). Don’t rely on that old photo in your driver’s license!

We’ve been writing about how it gets more onerous to travel these days. So this is definitely one step in the right direction to lessen stress from air travel. Here’s to more seamless travel. One less hassle is always welcome.

Reduce, reuse and recycle

Oh wow. Talk about the 3Rs. Shocking were the words used for this story on the web a few months back. Can you imagine drinking a glass of wine poured from this bottle? True. True that there could have been good reasons for doing so. And perhaps readers who know better can comment. But today our focus is on airline waste. So maybe the attendant was not wrong in doing what she apparently did.

You’ve heard about the amount of waste we (ie humans) have generated. There are many a statistic, and one claims that we purchase a million bottles of plastic every minute! Wow. Can you imagine the volume of trash that is building up. This reminds us of the animated feature “Wall-e”. Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth. The story is that by the year 2805 the planet is contaminated with too much waste.

Think we’ll last that long?

There is a guardian article (here) that suggests that 5.2 million tonnes of airline waste is generated every year. And that some airlines are finally attempting to help reduce this load. A wonderful development in our opinion. Here’s a thought. While we do not support budget airlines with no frills at all such as catering, how about making it mandatory for passengers to choose their meals and drinks ahead?

It may sound draconian, but packaged and marketed appropriately (heheh, occupation hazard) this can become a ‘feature’. That way, airlines can work seamlessly with catering companies to prepare the right meals, reducing the “buffer” stock of meals they need to carry with them on the plane. We probably can’t bring back the use of metal utensils on flights anymore (perhaps except in business and first), but perhaps a move towards bio-degradable ones could help?

Wouldn’t you support efforts to reduce waste from your flying?

Have you seen sleeping whales?

We’ve written about our snorkels and how beautiful the world underneath the seas are. But have you ever wondered, with all the tempestuous sea currents and potential predators – how does a fish sleep? Does it even sleep at all? Perhaps the naturalist or Zoologist within the midst of the readers can tell us more.

But today we are sharing with you a link (here) where you can see more of the photos taken by Franco off the coast of Dominica. Since we’ve just rambled a few days back about not seeing them – Whales, that’s what we’re talking about. It is said they don’t really sleep but snooze (ie nap?), and even then for short stints of between 6 to 25 minutes. Wow.

Sleeping Whales
Lifted from the Daily Mail

They look so majestic even as they sleep, don’t they?

Charging your phone with a stove

Folks who venture hiking for significant periods will know this. That out there in the middle nowhere, your digital devices may not last long. And thus one needs to be sparing in their use. But what if you’re told that you will have a source of power to charge your phone out in the wilderness?

If this product truly works as the article suggests, then one would be truly shooting two birds with one stone – we mean with the stove in more than one way.

For imagine using this stove and plugging it into your phone (and/or camera) to charge, even while it is used to cook your food or boil water. Such a luxury isn’t it? Yes it will require you to chop some wood and fire it up. Some might balk at the idea of potentially damaging the environment that way. Perhaps the use of solid fuels might work too?

Point is – would you go to this length to put some juice into your digital devices when you are out in the wild? Some people go into the woods to get off the grid so to speak. Others simply want to be disconnected because they are so wired into the digital lifestyle when at home or at work. But does the idea of being able to capture beautiful vistas out there and being able to send them out to the world excite you? Think about it for a moment before you respond.

For the hikers and trekkers amongst readers out there, would this be something you’d consider?

It finally happened!

You might remember that we have written quite a few times about the crowds. Finally it has happened. Barcelona has moved to restrict tourism numbers as the strain on the city finally comes to a breaking point. Though we fail to see how the proposed ban on building new hotels would help. And we doubt that they can effectively check and police the AirBnB rental market with 110 inspectors. And it seems if this article is true, more cities are finally jumping in.

One thing’s for sure, if you want to be one of the 32 million visitors to the city of 1.6 million, you will have to pay a higher surcharge if you only do a day trip. How they levy that we don’t know (someone tell us?) especially if you come on your own. Do they ask you as you get off the train, bus or ship? Ok off the cruise ship for sure.

The most interesting thing though is the tax rate on vacation property. Many years back when we live in Holland, we had quite some Dutch friends who bought apartments in Spain for vacation use or as a second home. How will they be affected? Oh dear. This is the pitfall of investing in real estate in a jurisdiction outside your own country. Never know when the laws change… and btw the barbers realtors will never tell you it’s ever a bad time to speculate invest.

When your city gets visited by the equivalent of 20x the local population, infrastructure will surely begin to creak and moan as we mentioned here. Can you as a local imagine having to crowd with the tourists on the trains, shops etc. It is a fantastic compliment to have many folks from around the world clamour to visit your home city. But it is a whole different proposition to have them clog up your streets! Locals in the city support this move. Businesses object (of course?).

How soon before a BTA (Barcelona travel approval)  or TVA (Trevi visit approval) is required?