United States

The third largest country in the world, the US has all of the temperate zones ranging from tropical to the tundra cold. It also has the most time zones aside from the Russian federation. From deserts to wetlands, mountain ranges to marshlands, the US has them all. People live in small rural towns and commute to large metropolises. This is one view of folks looking from the outside into America.

It’s an amazing series of juxtapose which any traveler will feel if one were to dive a little deeper. Outside the major cities, America is best explored on the road though it does not stop anyone from making it across the continent on public modes of transport.

Our handprint over the last two decades have been clustered around a number of “hubs”. These are zones where we both radiated out or circulated like convection currents to the many destinations you will see on this map:

Our US Handprint
The insert illustrates the journey to Alaska

Clearly there is a large gap in middle America which remains untouched.

Just like the contrasts of old film photos from the late 1990s compared with Hi-res digital snaps of today, Mel and Suan had very different aspirations during journeys to the US.

When we were more youthful and fuller (we’re still full) with energy, rafting the Delaware river or seeking out the most heart-stopping theme park rides was the norm. It’s like young kids learning to ski. They don’t seem to have fear and probably did not understand the risks! So like the same invincible younger crowd of today, it seemed like the world is our oyster and we could do anything. Sometimes, we find it satirical to read or watch digital nomads of today tell us that Gen Xers are characterized as a bunch that crave stability, fitting in etc.

But it was not always like this.

The 1990s (the “noughties” as the Brits say) was a time of tumult as this generation came of age. To be sure, it would be wise to compare across geography and cultures since the earth does not spin for one nation alone. Mel and Suan, straddling between East and West at that time could tell the developments from a maturing Singapore, fast rising China and muddle through period in America.

View of Ellis 1997
View of Ellis from Lady liberty Pedestal 1997

Technology was rapidly changing and being adopted at that time just as it is now. In fact, some of the most monumental “turning” or disruptions took place during the epoch that is now the late 90s. Take these two photos of the NY skyline for example. Aside from the differing weather (one’s so cloudy), they were both taken about the same time in June/July (just 19 years apart).

View of Ellis 2016
View of Ellis & Manhattan 2016

Which photo would appeal more to you?

And because of all these troubling times, our journeys to America ceased for a time. This currency exchange graph over the years is shown in relation with the intensity (or lack of) of our journeys to America:

SGD to USD rate
We caught most of the big moves!

Another factor though : this also coincided with career change for Mel, who moved away from working for European multinationals to US-based ones. And so the recently coined term “bleisure” is appropriate to describe some of the latest journeys. We started road tripping America in 2005, though it was infrequent throughout the last decade. It has only accelerated since 2011.

Now that we have covered most of the “important” travel hubs in the US, it is time to fan out. We’ll certainly be adding more pages here.