Is it safe? Egypt

Today we start a new theme or series of posts. Not the handprint stories. Nor the usual travel topics. We call it the ‘Is it?’ series. What is the intent? Well for one we are a little tired of fake news and media sensationalization. Wow. That’s a long word and we are not sure if it stands up against spell check.

Anyway. The point of this post is to remind you to focus on accurate information. Or at least getting a stab at obtaining some. So today we are focused with Egypt as an example.

And what prompted us to do this post was something we read in our local newspaper a couple of months ago (here). If one reads the chatter on the web, it would appear there is still a lot of reticence to visiting the country. The tourism numbers illustrates the current plight of the industry, which formerly used to contribute more than 11% of the country’s GDP (at height of 2010). Approximately 12% of the workforce was connected in some ways to this industry. It has shrunked significantly since then.

But is the country as unsafe as the media (mainstream or social) portrays it?

Sure. There are places in the country and sections of cities one should be extremely careful about venturing to. However that is applicable to many places around the world, even in the little red dot! Apply some good sense by observing your surroundings plus doing some of your own research we are sure you’d be fine.

We enjoyed our journey to Egypt (read all about it here). And we are sure you will too!

World’s tiniest country

Yep. It is officially the world’s smallest country. At 0.44km², it beats all the other recognized states in the world. With the nearest competitor Monaco trailing at 2km²… This is the first of our series on micro and small European states as we Segway from the US for a while. We will continue with 4 others that we have touched in the weeks to come.

This is about survival. Its an interesting thing even to this day that international politics still pit small nations at the mercy of large ones. The sovereign equality of all states as equal partners despite size. Hmm… will that work? Our little red dot is perhaps an example of how that can be. But there are also different operating principles elsewhere that works too. Such as in Europe. Perhaps some of the examples that we cite in the coming posts like this one might prompt you to think about it.

For the Vatican was not always this tiny. In fact it was the centre of the Papal states in medieval times. A political power as well back in the day. Today it does not exert hegemony over territory, but instead hold leadership of the world’s Catholic faithful. And by agreement with the Italian government it has remained independent and conducts its own foreign relations (as the Holy See). Obviously this relationship is more complex to be described here but it works!

Yes it is encapsulated within Rome. And it should have been part of the Italian handprint story series. But that will have to wait. We want to show all the micro states of Europe that we’ve touched first! Read all about our little story on the Vatican here.

Yes we know that there are actually quite a few other micro states in Europe and we will also skipped Monaco, but that’s because we’ve not touched it yet. Someday we will.

Look at that flag counter

Sometime last year, we added a free flag counter to our blog. The purpose, as most of you who do the same is to “track” how many people visit our blog and from which parts of the world. If you click the counter you will be brought to the actual counter page.

There are additional attributes that feature details of which state in the US the visitors come from. This feature is free for the US and Canada only, and you will need to pay if you wish to get even more ‘granular’ information about visitors from other large countries.

But today we are not promoting the use of the flag counter.

Rather it is the flags in the counter that we are focused upon. When we look up the flag counter site every now and then, we look at the number of countries that have been captured based on where visitors to our blog came from. And it surprises us to see the names of countries that we don’t even recognize. 196. In case you were wondering how many countries are there in the world. Good as of this year we guess unless we have more secessions…

So by the personal record, we are still around 74 short… heheh. Talk about collecting flags we are also short of 1 state in the US. For some reason we do not have anyone from North Dakota visiting our site. Oh why?

Did not know that there are so many countries in the world? Well, watch out for the handprint stories we are posting on micro states in Europe! Without looking it up, how many of the flags do you recognize and can tell which country it represents?

Pilotless Planes anyone?

Now you’all know about drones and driver-less trucks, even as such cars are coming on the roads near you. Here in our little red dot, we have extensive driverless subway train networks. It’s a matter of time before more transportation assets are turned over to intelligent algorithms.

But what if the plane you fly in is piloted not by a person, but by the same intelligent algorithm? If this development (read here) moves with that quick a pace, we could soon be at the mercy of AI. Don’t know about you, but we sure are nervous too like the author alluded. Well he said the palms are sweating. We on the other hand might have shaky knees.

Because Boeing is certainly adamant on the testing pilotless planes.

One thought that popped into our heads was this; that the most costly component of operating an aircraft (aside from the depreciation on the multi-billion dollar craft) would be the maintenance and… the highly paid pilots? Perhaps if this can be taken away costs will be reduced (read this)? What do you think? Or could it be that the aircraft maker actually believe that human operated flying machines are still less reliable or desired… perhaps we might see an unemployment line of pilots some day…

Will plane fares drop then? Heheh.

Yes, some day. We might all have to surrender ourselves to the mastery of technology. Put your life in the hands codes of artificial “beings”. Wow. Haven’t we seen these in movies before?

A theme park paradise

You might recall we wrote about new theme parks opening (here). Well this one’s not about more of them but the place where quite a few are already operating. Yeah, we are referring to the city of Orlando Florida, where adults can become children again. Or young adults can try to pass off as children… heheh.

Again you will realize that this is a reminisce. Because we have since “graduated” from taking roller coaster rides to cruise rides… heheh. But that is not to say we cannot and do not. Just a preference thing as we gracefully age. One thing was for sure, that is the number of rides in the integrated park (it has grown even more now) will take you literally a week to complete. Of course fast pass would help and back then it was free. Really. We do not jest.

How would you like to be part of the electoral process in the Magic Kingdom? Yup. There was a contest between Winnie the Pooh and Captain Hook. Huh? Both were gunning for the office of Main Street Mayor. Whoever won this prestigious role would mean the difference between visitors being treated sweetly (with honey if he can ever find it) or being rounded up as galley slaves! Aaargh!

However there are no electoral colleges in this case and it’s all by popular vote count. Heheh… And did you think you guessed correctly who won? Did you really thought the honey seeking bear would win against a suave marketeer pirate?

Read all about it here!

Rescuing a cat

As you might know, Mel loves cats (though he’d never live with one). And this story really got to his heart when he read this a few months back. Imagine you spotting what appears to be just a lump of rock in the snow while you are driving. And we are talking about it snowing in Russia… pretty cold we think.

And that ‘lump’ rock it was not, but rather a curled up almost lifeless body of a kitten!


You know, for all intents the poor kitten could have simply perished by the roadside. It was incredible that this man stopped and picked her up. But sometimes you have to wonder what was he looking at while driving… Yeah Mel love cats and he photographs them wherever he can find them. We even wrote about them here. And here is an example of cats Mel that captured on ‘film’:

Anyway, fortunately for Nika she is a well taken care cat today. She might have lost part of her tail, but she is alive and well! That’s such a wonderful happy ever after story don’t you think? Do you like cats?

PS: Did you notice something about their ears?