Air Milers’ headache

Yeah. Miles, the sort you accumulate as you spend your way in today’s consumerist world. Today our post is drawing from an article we read some months back (heheh told you we schedule forward right?).

You earn them for many possible reasons, but chief amongst them might be the opportunity to swap the miles for a flight or stay at your dream vacation. Well, one of the columnists in our local news publication set out to debate that air-mile owners may find it extremely hard to get use their miles to redeem the flight of your dreams. Well, it depends…

For us, we consider other risks to how you may not be able to fully utilize your hard earned miles. We wrote about air mile mergers (here and here). But that’s not all. We found out a couple of months back that our favorite accumulation programme had changed. Since the end of March, the discount for redeeming online (it was 15%) ceased. In addition, the miles required for redemption of certain sectors were increased…

Maybe redeeming this would be better?

A clear double whammy! No prizes for guessing that the most popular routes had the mileage requirement increased. Sigh. See, this is one more subtle hurdle that has been thrown our way. Raising the bar seems the right thing to do for the airlines or other mile awarding programmes, for if too many can attain the requisite miles then they’d be handing out free flights and hotel stays ‘left and right’, as an expression we use here in the little red dot says…

Perhaps the writer is correct in her observation that it will not be in our favor to get that redemption seat on a very sought after flight – like one or two days before Christmas. Airlines will prioritize revenue generating passengers right? Can we expect them not to?

Do you think its better to just revert to accumulating points and redeem a free ice cream instead? Are you an Air Miler?

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?

Unusual Hotels

Have you stayed in an unusual hotel before? Some of the pictures in this article make one wonder how is it like to stay in one. Did you see the picture of the hotel in the link? That one’s along the southern edges of Taihu (太湖), a freshwater lake about 100km from Shanghai. We wrote about traipsing about the lake recently (here).

It was strange for us to observe that of the polled millenials, ‘only’ 42% have stayed in house or apartment rentals (the equivalent AirBnBs of the world), which would imply a large segment. And it appears to be in the west. Because it also seems such unusual hotels seem to be the rage more in Asia. At least this is what the article seems to be driving at. No details, so can’t dissect it… the trouble with statistics. Depends on who the ‘barber’ is presenting it.

The theme though of this post is : innovation.

In a competitive world vying for a share of the hearts and minds of consumers, it is key to stand out from your competition. It is also critical to have brand / value proposition that appeals to a targeted segment, group, whatever. Sure we said AirBnB is revolutionizing travel (here), but there probably will be limits to where they can reach. And hotel chains around the world are attempting to respond, sometimes in ways that amazes. So nothing remains static.

And it is not only in Asia that one finds such innovative and bold attempts to offer differntiated travel experience. One will find them all over the world. Indeed, as we hurtle towards the 2020s, we may yet witness even more innovation when it comes to having a night’s stay while on your journey(s).

We might not be staying in these unusual hotels, but we sure would like to see them. Wouldn’t you?

Durian Party, part deux

One year ago, we posted about how we in the little red dot have Durian parties. Today’s post sets out to explain what this fruit is about and where it stands in the culture of our little red dot. Well it’s that time of the year again. For those aspiring travellers who wish to be immersed into local culture, well this is it.

The mighty Durian. Ok the King. Not Elvis.

No. Not the funny looking theatre that you can see along Marina Bay in our little red dot. We are referring to this lime greenish fruit with a lot of thorns. And one that for some – smells. BAD. Woah!

Did you know

  • Though Thailand is not supposedly where the fruit is native (it’s mainly Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei), but produces the bulk of commercially traded fruit?
  • The fruit does offer nutrition other than the perceived sugar only (because it’s sweet), such as potassium, iron, vitamins B and C in reasonable dosages?
  • Even Elephants and Tigers are said to eat the fruit (to be verified). Probably the ones that have ripened and fallen to the forest floor.
  • There are varieties of the fruit that have very little odour. In fact there are so many of them for different taste, aroma and even shape.

Heheh. Does not matter how many facts one list. You either love it or hate it. And for travelers who want to blend in and be ‘like the locals’, this would be your challenge. You are not a local in southeast Asia if you hadn’t ate this fruit. Come on lah. If the Kings of the animal kingdom enjoy this fruit, why not you?

Doesn’t this goad you to pluck up the courage and try out the ‘King’ of Fruits?

What is your travel personality?

We’ve written about this before as a satire (here). And this is a follow up. If one reads up various posts and articles (such as this one for example), you might be tempted to simply find a box which you think you fit. That’s because we all have some form of confirmation bias and perform a kind of self service on ourselves. Very often we apply extremes on ourselves more than we should though exceptions apply.

This is almost like a lesson in behavioral science, and essentially many elements of it are. But of course we are only interested in one of the outcomes – how one approaches traveling.

We recall a song. And it goes like this ‘people are people so why should it be? You and I should get along so awfully’…oops anyone know Depeche Mode? Our point is this – that for all the studies in the world, there are so many characteristics of each individual that will not fit exactly into any “box” crafted out in a study. Especially not one that is pre-cast in a specific mould. Why people continue to say: ‘I’m a traveler as opposed being a tourist’ when there is so much of a blur between the two when compared holistically? Why tease out just the differences and not the similarities?

Does anyone really care how someone claims to be a traveler and not a tourist? Maybe this will set you off on your own philosophical journey. But this ends our take on this topic.

Heheh. We challenged you to consider signing up as part of the WTI’s certification programme in this post. Perhaps we need to repackage our business proposal?

History through food?

Can one relate to the historical elements of a place from the food scene it has? This article set us to think. Do we think about how the cuisine we take for granted today came about?

We recall a story about how pig trotters soup became popular in Chinese cuisine.

It was said that during the period of the northern and southern dynasties in China (~AD 317-589), there was an emperor whose army had been anniliated during battle. This emperor fled from defeat seeking to return to his capital and had to find shelter while disguising himself as a beggar. He came upon a farmer’s hut and sought refuge. And the poor farmer despite having nothing, offered to share some pig trotters soup with the fallen emperor. It was said that since that time this soup has gained popularity, because the emperor put it on the imperial menu…heheh. We cannot seem to verify this story on the web (perhaps it is only in Chinese), so take this with a pinch of salt…as seasoning lol.

Perhaps the article we cited (in the link above) was not suggesting about how food is intertwined with history. But the point of our post is about how we as travelers may appreciate more the food of a place we travel to, if we were to know a little about how it came to be. Wouldn’t that be part of the experience just as much as knowing about the sights we see?

Like the time we read Ken’s article about Bologna, isn’t it intriguing to know that the origin of the term Spaghetti Bolognese was a mis-interpretation? Btw, it’s always a pleasure to read Ken’s posts. Check his blog out at Journeys of Len.

And we are sure that many such stories abound in other cultures and countries about why certain foods are to be prepared and eaten in a specific way. Do you have any juicy stories from your travels to share?