How far will you go?

In recent years, newly wedded couples in Singapore have been yearning to seek out locations for that ‘special moment’. It used to be locations in Singapore that exude old rural or colonial charm. Then it became holiday shoots where couples enjoy a vacation while taking their wedding shoot at the same time; to countries such as Taiwan and Korea. Some are making their way to even more exotic locales!

It seems that our younger compatriots are willing fork out great sums and go to great lengths out of their way for the moment of a lifetime!

Just how far will you go for a wedding photo of your dreams? Would you drive more than 6,200 miles for it? Well this couple did. While they reported that only 30 photos out of the 580 that they took they loved tremendously (a 5.2% hit rate), it was the memories (see we told you!) that mattered ultimately more than the photos themselves.

Now they have bragging rights : “most dramatic wedding picture” etc. Which we think they thoroughly deserve. Because, lest you think it was just glamour, the couple did not hesitate to remind that to get well off the beaten track, you have to walk (work) for it. Hiking or trekking is not the kind of thing Mel and Suan subscribe to. And carrying 25+ kilos of gear, that reminds Mel of military service days. He’ll take a rain check on doing that…heheh.

We are not sure how many will this appeal to. Perhaps you can tell us if this would be something you’d do for your dream photo?

What is the dirtiest item in a hotel room?

Hey travelers, what is most important to you when it comes to travel accommodations? Did we hear you say : a clean hotel/hostel room? And does that come with expectations of a clean bathroom and towels too?

Whatever the form of accommodation, be it a hotels, hostels, dormitories or apartments, we believe you look for a constant (high) level of hygiene standards. The last thing you want is to fall ill while you are on holiday because the room you are staying is crawling with bugs, big (bed bugs…) or small (bacteria and viruses).

So where do you think is the dirtiest part of your room?

This may seem alarmist, but if this article is to be believed it is the remote control. Although this may seem to apply only to hotels and apartments, come to think about it that’s logical to apply this to dormitories and hostels too. We cannot believe that the cleaning of the room will include the remote in the case of hotels. Besides with the large number of rooms, the cleaning is more than likely focused on the prominent things. And do you think your AirBnB host routinely clean the remote too? How about the remote in the common lounge of the dorm or hostel? Seriously?

It may not be the fairest of assessment, from reading around and just putting our thinking caps on, perhaps there is a list of top 3 worst things to touch or use without being careful:

  • TV remote control
  • Bathroom sink and toilet seat
  • Switches – be it for the lights, power etc

For us we believe if you do not habitually touch your mouth or eyes, than most of this don’t matter if you wash your hands regularly with soap (not just rinse in water). Some authors recommend you prepare sanitation wipes to take preventive measures.

What would you do?

Are you overworked?

If one reads history like Mel does, then it did surprise him that despite the improvement of labour rights over the last 150 years, we are all working harder than the serfs of the middle ages ever did!

Really you ask?

Well if you believe this report, you’d think that these poor serfs had it much better than the average office stiff/drone today! To think these near slaves have 150 days off in a year? And some of us work weekends these days? Because the article cited sources, it was the ever inquisitive Mel that did some researching into the history of the supposedly dreary lives of peasants 5-600 years ago. In the western European context (his favorite).

The findings:

  • Farming, as it still is today is intense, but usually only at field rotating, planting and harvesting. In between its like watching grass grow (literally). Yes this is simplifying it, but like herders the serfs watch their farms – to keep away pests etc. It is not back breaking planting throughout the whole year. Many a time it was spent drinking ale…Statistics are hard to get, but Mel found out that some monastery in England was giving their serfs a gallon of ale per day in the late 1300s according to historical records.Ok, shortage of clean drinking water was another reason…but still, ale?
  • Serfs probably spent more time on other things such as maintaining their tools, homes etc. Which is actually not so far off from what farmers do today. And for the womenfolk, working on fabrics, housework etc while minding children. We know of some folks in the US (ladies) who quilt in the fallow months today (not medieval times).
  • Sundays were definitely a day off – as serfs file off to church. If you look up the feast days of medieval England you will find 45 of them. Not sure if each and every one of those are days of revelry or rest. But they are days off the farm.
  • Serfs had to work for their lords as part of the feudal contract (yep there’s one) and this could be 2-3 days in a week. But at the same time they also participated in the manorial lord’s activities such as feastings, joustings, hunting etc. Yes it would be callous to compare that to work vacations, but hey that’s a comparison!
  • And serfs did also have rights – such as help from the lords during crop failures, a medieval sort of social security. Just like unemployment benefits. Who foots the bill? The manorial lord of course!

It is not a totally fair comparison, because today we have mostly 5-day work week. Which means 104 days of weekends + the paid vacations and public holidays.

medieval-feasts
45 days of this every year? Wow.

Conclusions

With many now working long hours in the weekdays (12+ in many cases that we know of) and some hours over the weekend, we can safely say we might not have it that much better. Ignoring the threat of plagues and wars, materially yes but socially and leisurely perhaps not.

Would this convince  you to be teleported back to medieval times as a serf?

Do luxury toting folks get better service?

Do you sometimes feel that you get treated better if you dressed well? Or when you tote luxury bags and watches, spot expensive jewellery? There seems to be some finding that verify to some extent that this is all well true.

This experiment tested the “attribution effect”. Ok, social psychologists out there will definitely be correcting us. It’s officially coined as “fundamental attribution error“. Will be first to admit that Mel cannot recall this from his days doing that one semestral course on social psychology…Besides it was more than 20++ years ago. So be gentle…

simple-luxury
Brand names seem to matter

Now we are not sure if a mere $4000 watch will get you a hit, but the examples that Matt referred to certainly happened to us. Well, at least to one half of us – ie Suan. You see, she makes a point to dress well AND put on a dash of jewellery (and luxury watch) but that is not in your face. She has had her fair share of being treated “differently” at restaurants, boutiques, even the local supermarket. Getting warmer huh?

Bvlgari boutique2
Retailers are keen to keep this up!

It all seems as if this cheap way of impressing actually works. Or perhaps it is the confidence that one exudes when you wear a watch that costs someone’s monthly wage? You see the article is right in quite many ways. When you are traveling, nobody can fathom that you live in a palatial mansion or drive a Porsche for leisure. And today a wallet full of banknotes is not likely to impress a lot either, unless you face is on it. Well, it depends on who.

So it boils down to other symbols that our pyschological state use to “size up” other folks. And none other is more obvious that the visual cues that exude from watches, jewellery and finally the clothes and shoes you wear. Surething, some of us laugh off such behavior perhaps as being crass, materialistic etc. But somehow we get the feeling that this is far more pervasive than we care to admit.

Of course demeanour plays a critical role too. Which service person would like a sour faced customer? I guess if you play nice, others mostly will too.

We shall not care what the article revealed about the 1%, since we are unlikely to ever rub shoulders with them in any shape, size or form. However we emphasize that the global luxury brands are keen to keep this game going. Just pick out a watch magazine at the bookstore near you. Will you be able to tease out the “levels” of prestige?

There you have it. Empirical evidence that you are what you wear. Perhaps this is confirmation bias but there we have a lot of personal experiences about this too. Perhaps try it out at the Eleven James (or equivalent) near you and let us know about it!

Will mobile devices be restricted on planes?

Hmm…not so good publicity for Samsung in the last few months. Batteries self combusting, exchange delays etc. While all this is being sorted out, the bigger question remains : how much risk does mobile devices pose as a fire hazard onboard aircrafts?

It will be best to know if devices, when switched off completely still pose any risk?

We have all read in a number of articles such as this that the lithium-ion battery of mobile phones ignited when crushed. It has been suggested that these batteries (which packs a lot of power) are volatile. It is said to burn at a temperature of ~1000°F. Enough to melt most material that you sit on in a plane we’d think. Fortunately we are told that what we sit on are fire retardent, so it means that an out of control fire is unlikely.

And it isn’t restricted to mobile device, remember hover boards? Airlines banned them too.

While statistics are hard to gather reliably, it does appear that incidents involving the ignition of such battery operated devices is quite frequent if we ask the aircraft crew. Though taken in the context of the sheer number of flights that run each and every day, perhaps the occurrence is still not as prevalent as it is hyped up to be.

Perhaps some preventive actions we can consider as travelers:

  • Don’t use our computing devices while onboard. Yes this is hard for some we know.
  • Keep our mobile devices in the carry-on bags. Not in your pocket, not seat pockets…
  • Switch off the device(s) completely if not using. Not just on airplane mode.

In a world where travel is proletariatized, it will indeed be impossible to fully police the use of electronic devices onboard flights. It seems be to be an inherent human nature to defy rules. Let’s just hope there will be safer ways to use the litium-ion batteries.

At this time, authorities are not empowered to ban the use of any device unless there is a recall. But that has not stopped airlines from taking preemptive actions. That is a good thing, but hopefully we will not end up with restrictions instead.

Do you think airlines will restrict and perhaps even charge (no pun intended) you for bringing mobile devices aboard?

Why blog when you can instagram?

When we first decided to start this blog slightly over a year ago, we had been skeptics. In the sense that we find social media to be rather superfluous, to use a better word than fumbling with terms like “information overload”.

Truth is there is just so, so much information out there.

Instagram.jpgInformation from the standpoint of photos, pictures and even more pictures! Real ones, photoshopped ones, rendered ones etc. Sometimes you can’t tell real from fake. Everyone’s sharing something, anything or everything… Then it was videos, yet more videos and so much more that we think this paragraph is beginning to bore even us! Guess you get the point. No?

So why do so many of us join in this “rat race” called blogging? Why blog when you can simply upload photos (like the lobsters as featured image in this post) into Instagram, link it with you facebook and twitter accounts. Type in catchy captions and let it go?

We chimed in partly because if you can’t beat them, you join them. Besides, writing is fun and we like it!

How about you?