Oh how times have changed!

One of the challenge of trying to travel around the world is that you never really do. With 510 million km², that’s surely a lot of ground to cover. Granted much of it you cannot really travel to, or rather not want to, or better yet not practical to. You get the picture no?

Ok surely by this point you would be a little frazzled by the first paragraph.

Yep, this style of writing is called “frazzlegraphing”. The intent is to either: get you to roll your eyes, OR make you curious. LOL. If you came to this point, guess you are the second lot. Thanks.

So what’s up? Comparing photos of the places we took from the same spot years apart. And we are not talking about how much we have changed, because we surely did. Plus we don’t mean a gap of just a few years… here we cite the following exhibits.

Changed? Wow…

What do’ya think? On the right is the photo first taken in May of 2000 when we visited Japan for the first time. Yes that’s the streets of Ginza and it was already a pedestrian-only street during the weekends 17 years ago (and well before that). Ok not exactly at the same spot but the point was to convey : Tokyo’s landscape is ever changing even as we speak!

NO change? Hmmm…

Yeah. And this is a decades’ gap. But there we were at 461 Fifth Avenue just opposite the New York City public library. Almost a month’s difference and 20 years to the day, Suan was checking out the shops along the busy shopping belt at that time. But she’s gone a long way, having since ‘graduated’ to forensics examination of premium outlet malls…

Where in the world have you been more than once? Your hometown does not count.  Ok it does. Does this touch of nostalgia bring back any memories for you?

The Love island

Lake Erie.

For sure not eerie. This is a short story about our little cruise on the lake where there are said to be a thousand islands. Well, it depends on your definition. If the little outcrops of a few square feet are included, perhaps it would be a few thousand. So begins our North American reminisces.

You might come across another such story in a future post by us, but we’ll start with this one.

And it is a story about love and devotion. While not quite the Taj Mahal, it nevertheless is a similar testament of a man’s love for his wife. He was a successful man of his time. And he loved his wife so dearly; that the summer home they had on an island they owned in lake Erie was to be turned into a castle as a present. Wow.

But the wife died before construction were complete. And the lovelorn man ceased construction. Left for many years abandoned and derelict, the partially completed structure faced the elements of harsh Canadian winters, deteriorating to a pitiable state.

Fortunately the country came to the rescue and purchased the property, commencing restoration works. So today it is available to visit for a fee, but if one comes over from Canada the US customs and border protection post will check for identification. The island is US territory…

We were coming from Canada in this journey and thus did not make a landing. But find out where this island of love is (here). Who knows, you might get to land on the island on our behalf instead! Have you been there? Tell us!

The Long Journey Q4-17

It would be cliché to say yet again how time flies, but then it really did. Heheh. And now we are into the last months of the year. Oh what a year it had been so far! Having just come back from Hua Hin on our road trip, we have to report that it was a wonderful adventure making that drive. A journalog cometh soon…

And it has been a little more quiet in this last three months. Time to let Bankie recover a little! But that might have to wait. You may recall we’ve been longing to get to Jordan for the longest time right? Well guess what? The group has formed!! Yaaay! It means sometime in the middle of December we shall be waltzing to the airport on the way to another of our bucket list destinations. Woohoo!

But of course that would still be some months away.

We hope you too had a fun filled three months. Even if not traveling a lot, there can still be fun in our own backyard too! Sometime towards the end of the year, we shall make an announcement. It has a lot to do with having fun in your own neighbourhood(s). Look out for it!

Here’s our latest newsletter: The Long Journey Q4-2017. Enjoy!

 

 

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…

chill-out-ice-cream3
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?

Dive deeper into Beijing

The city is such a juxtapose. As it hurtles towards modernity, it had lost quite some of its original charms. Or so it may seem. Scratch a little deeper and perhaps you might find a gem or two that remains.

In this post, we share the links to two short essays.

  • Food. Yes in any major city or culture one needs to see, smell and taste the way food is prepared. Remember we wrote that there is history coming from food too? Well, this short essay shares what can be found in Beijing. Read more about it here!
  • Now aside from the Great wall or the wonderful sites in the city itself, you should know that there is much more just surrounding the city. And nowhere is it more intriguing as the Sacred way (here) which leads to the tombs of the Ming Emperors.

There you have it. Honestly even a full week in Beijing is not sufficient. Just like spending a few days in NY City wouldn’t really ‘count’…

And so ends our series on Cathay – ahem, China. The middle Kingdom was home for 4 years and there are much more memories than possible to pen on this little blog. Believe us when we say what we put in this blog is but a mere fraction of what we’ve seen and done. We spent a chapter of our lives exploring this giant continental sized country. It is full of juxtapose, even till today and we hope this inspires your curiosity to go put your handprints there.

Next up, time to rotate to North America and we shall share some reminisces about Canada and the Caribbean. Heheh, beautiful memories those journeys were too. There is just so much to share and such a limited time to write and publish. That’s coming soon!

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?