It is with great pleasure, our pride to share what should be an enviable travel handprint. In a series of 6 continental/region maps, we present the destinations that we have touched during a period that spans the last 20+ years.
More on that in About us. Click here for the story.
The maps and pins are picked out of our Tripadvisor profile, and they are limited to cities and towns. Specific attractions and sights, if they are not located in the cities cannot be pinned down. Unless we choose the nearest city, which would be misleading and a big no no. We are quite clinical about this.
We start off with our home continent, the expanse of Asia that is home to more than half of the world’s population. Tiny Singapore contributes just over 5 million, but punches well above its weight in size (and we are proud of that!).
In recent years, we seemed to have been “biased” in favor of travel to Japan. Believe it or not the country boasts the best in a balance of fun, leisure and sightseeing. Widely regarded as an expensive country, you need to be reminded that it is the same anywhere depending on what you want. But in Japan, you get what you pay for! And honestly in recent years with the yen’s depreciation, prices are not that far off from other developed economies.
But that is not to say that we have “neglected” the rest of the Asian continent. With job role influence, we do try spending time combing through the region – combining work with leisure in what is known as “bleisure”.
Well, the home turf is not actually our most travelled continent. Believe it or not, it is Europe! Because of its compactness (and being contiguous helps), it makes for easy access from one end to another. When Mel was on assignment in Europe, it was always amazing to tell of how a truck driver can make the trip from Poland in the eastern end to Spain in 3 days’ drive.
And drive we did.
In one trip to France in June of 2005, we drove more than 5,000km all around the “edges” of the most visited country on the planet. In that 18 days we ate mussels cooked with wine while viewing Mont St Michel, sampled fresh Livarot cheese, tasted wine in so many Loire Chateaux (that we lost count), strolled along the aged barrels of Cognac at Remy Martin and walked amongst the Lavender fields in Grignan Provence.
If only we can play back time!
The handprint map for Europe deserves better. And in subsequent postings will probably have “zoomed-in” writings see light of day in the months to come. The story behind the extensive traveling is that we lived in the Netherlands and used it as a base, and with 7 weeks of paid vacation per year (yeah they have it good huh?) it should be easy to imagine how we harnessed every available day.
Have to add that aside from the Balkans, the north that is where aurora borealis can be viewed are definitely bucket list items. Perhaps we can make that landing in Iceland too.. And if we can add to that, perhaps Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily and Cyprus will complete the picture!
And nearer to Europe you have – Africa and the mid east.
Therein is one of the gaps.
Less than the edges have been touched by us and it is with regret that we did not do more in north Africa when there were opportunities. But then we had only 7 weeks of holiday per year! We had planned for Tunisia and even contemplated Algeria and Libya when those strongmen where around. Now, it is just too uncertain. Plus how to get there?
The continent that is supposed to be the origin of our species had yet to be explored in depth (by us). We have literature of the safari in east Africa, the big five in the parks (mostly private) and quite a lot of research. Inertia. Hesitation.
Like the next continent we’d speak about, its too “far away” – ie difficult to reach. And then there is the safety/fear factor. Why? It is in our cliché and stereotyping. We must overcome this.
Only recently have we begun to touch this “remote” part of the world (for us). But was it a excellent introduction! As a fan of history and geography, it was a orgasm to ful-fill the fascination with pre-Columbian civilization.
There is obviously a lot of ground to cover. Our current intent is to do an in-depth Mexico circuit. We want to see all the major pyramidal structures of both the Aztecs and Mayans. Prospects are not bright as most operators “skip” some sites. It looks like it might have to be a “private” tour arrangement again…
There is preference for Columbia and the small central American countries where the sprinkling of significant pre Columbian structures can be found. Then there are the islands where Charles Darwin had his eureka moment.
We had planned for a cruise from Argentina to Chile (or vice versa), but that is limited only the summer months of the year (which means December into Christmas) into February at the most. We had since abandoned the idea due to budgetary constraints. Perhaps we can revive it a few years down the road.
North America has always held a special place for us. Mel’s family (on the father side) have all migrated to the US more than 30 years ago when he was still in elementary school. Grandma who raised him had followed. She has since died and is buried there.
As continental sized countries, the US and Canada are not easy to “do it all”. Over the last 20 years we bit away at some of the choicest morsels from our view.
If there would be an opportunity to be based in the US for a few years as we had in Europe, it will open the floodgates! Aside from Alaska and the northeast, we had mostly driven – as road trips go. We are certainly looking forward to Jasper and Banff in the Canadian rockies, but some would suggest that it’s equally breathtaking in Montana and Wyoming (Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons…). Choices choices…
Finally nearer to home there is the south Pacific and island continent of Australia. Long isolated, we were surprised to find that possums (endangered in Australia) are considered pest in New Zealand (introduced inadvertently) and hunted. So told us the vendor in Christchurch as he sold us possum fur.
Fiji airways has opened up a direct flight to Singapore from Suva. The world is constantly shrinking! It is a 10-hours journey (or ~8,388km, wow nice numbers) from Singapore to Fiji. Options are now available. Now all we need is the money…
The pacific islands have always been a luring destination and we are intent on setting more of our handprints there!
Ok there we have it – handprints on all 6 continents. And not small handprints too we might have to add (well perhaps Africa and South America). Then there is the last one – Antarctica. You know what they say about lucky 7.
And by the way there is a pod hotel set up there every summer. Hmm…
There is not a lot of detail here and the maps are probably too grainy. We could zoom into more detail but it will probably be too much to take in for an easy read. This is good enough for us and hopefully for you too. To be updated as often as we can (when adding pins)!
Here is our bucket list, click here to see what is it that we want!
As part of our continued sharing, we present the travel logs that Mel and Suan keeps for each journey. Having been stored away privately for the longest time, we now share the details of our journey in a stripped down form suitable for the web. Click here to continue reading.
And for journeys made before 2014, look out for little bits and pieces of our sojourns to the many pins on our handprint maps. They come in the form of stories, easily accessible from the drop down menu.