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?

Travel may become trickier

News about potential changes to the US visa waiver program first surfaced 4 months ago (read one of them here). You would also recall the ban on electronic devices larger than a handphone on planes flying in from certain countries to the US and UK that was hoisted on travellers without warning though that’s been scaled back..

Now if programs like visa waiver are suspended, it invites tit-for-tat retaliation because emotions run high. At first we thought requirements like ESTA was only for the fees that governments collect… but quite a few other countries (here) have implemented their own.

In addition, many countries around the world are starting to axe manage temporary work visa approvals as well. Thus it may be that much harder to get into Australia in the future to pick fruits… Suddenly, it’s like globalization going in reverse – being rewound but at 2x or 3x speed.

We think this is a harbinger of even more restrictive travel in the future. In the sense it may not mean less people are allowed to criss cross the earth, but rather that it will be much more onerous than it is now. As if we are not already complaining about it! Some day we might have to board airplanes only after passing through security checks wearing nothing but hospital gowns because it makes checking for illegal stuff easier. LOL… hmm… you heard this prediction first at our blog!

Where do you think the future of traveling is headed? A decline or continued unabated growth? Which do you prefer?

We interrupt this broadcast…

No. We are not trumpeting any flight upgrade or that sort of thing. It’s just that after 7 days of no wordpress, we feel that we ought to summarize how it has been. Both on the road trip and also about being offline. So before we fly off from the city of Angels, we are sending off this post. So how did we feel?

The word to describe it : emancipated.

Yep. That’s really how it felt.

You probably know we schedule our posts ahead. So coming up with posts wasn’t the issue. It was not having the “strain” of thinking about the blog, responding to comments or reading the posts of others, from which we felt a freedom that we did not experience for some time. Incredible to realize this isn’t it?

Sometimes we simply put ourselves through too much pressure to read all the posts out there. And we really shouldn’t. Because if what we said is true : ie that time is but the only commodity that cannot be stored, then we ought to live our lives first and worry about the blog later. Don’t you agree?

Anyway.

The road trip has been more than fabulous. We are already so full of ideas as to what to share with you in the journalog and handprint stories… And Mel was soooo wrong. The Queen of shopping DID find quite some places and not a few things to buy. All utilitarian around the house of course!

And now, back to your regular programme of scheduled posts.

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.

Booking via foreign websites

Does booking from an overseas website get you a better deal? This article suggests it may well be possible to get prices that one might not get from sites in your own home country. Ok the article actually referred to a ‘foreign agent’. No. Not the James Bond kind, but the travel agents in the countries you intend to travel to.

Because the article seems to suggest some online portal will be able to bring together the “best” agents in these destinations around the world and facilitate your engagement with them. Seems like we still can’t cut out the middleman! LOL.

Hah! We hear you. This is nothing new!

What we have found though from our own experience is that there are price “discrimination” in the way your bookings are handled, particularly airlines. No we are not referring to bias. It simply means the pricing is tailored to a particular market conditions such as the relative average price of tickets, consumer preference and willingness to pay, market share etc.

And as for local agents to book directly with, we do spend a little more effort in sussing out the ones to use. In the most recent example, we took to Tripadvisor (no bias here) to search out reviews of day trip tours from Bangkok Ayutthaya. With thousands of reviews, the ratings did helped us zoom in to Pary Happy Tour. It helped us fulfill the intent of using local guides rather than local corporates too! And we have to admit it was a great choice (patting ourselves on the back now).

Do you book through a local agent in your homebase? Or is it all DIY for you? What do you think about booking direct with agents in the destinations? Have you done so?

Walking on broken glass

Okay, not that Mel & Suan will advocate doing this. Recall that we’ve written about glass walks that jut out over empty space (here and here). Many of them are in places of natural beauty, so folks can enjoy a view. Well, a couple of months back we read about this new rage to provide similar experiences in cities too. And it seems to be a competition out there!

Now if the city of Chicago approves, then the owners of this office tower just might get the opportunity to build a glass walkway high in the sky. Read here for the article. If you did not manage to click on the link and read, well let us share with you that the owners of the building intends to provide visitors the opportunity to abseil from the 103rd floor to the 102nd too. No glassway there! Buy your own insurance. Not sure if even any company might want to extend cover…

Ok, our own experiences had not been that dramatic. At least not yet. We have been to quite a few glasswalks though, the most recent one in Busan. For us the Tianmen (天门山) mountain in ZhangJiaJie (张家界) provided one of the most challenging, as the walkway was hugging to a cliff hundreds of meters from the ground. Even holding to the railing was scary to some. They feared the railing might give way… yet not far they actually build a bridge between two mountains! Missed that one because it opened a year after our journey.

We also missed the one at the west rim of the Grand Canyon. So we now have excuses to journey to these sites again. From the looks of it, there will be more glasswalks coming to a place near you.

Do you have a phobia walking on glass floors over great heights? Where have you done that before?