Travel Anti-blogging

They say that sensational news sells. And in a world where beauty and perfection are relentless pursued, it is not surprising that only the ‘sexy’ travel blogs attract attention. Think about it. Would you rather not post a photo of yourself well manicured, poised and dressed in the finest possible in an exotic locale? Or would you be okay with the unshaven and worn look?

Anti-blogging appears to be a rising trend.

If you read Nikki’s essay, she will convince you that there is a better way of sharing. One that does not embellish nor focus solely on the individual in us at the expense of the wider environment we live in. In many ways she has pointed out something that seems to afflict all of us : we only present the good news when it comes to traveling. Or worse, we selectively share only the good bits and string it together as if the entirety of the journey was as wonderful as those posted moments.

It’s about responsible writing.

And we pledge at this blog to do this, ie share good and poor photos as is. Grainy old film scans as they were and not photoshopped. Tell it as it is and not overly intent on glorifying any particular moment.As we have remarked in the past, it is better to travel with a purpose.

What kind of writer do you prefer to be?

Do they really delay flights because of this?

Sometimes you wonder if there is something that is wrong with the plane when there is a delay of the flight. But did you know that it is not always a technical issue? If this article is to be believed, airlines actually consider the coffee machine critical; ie to be in working order before the plane can fly??? Better yet, recently a Lufthansa flight turned back hours after it was on the way because a coffee machine could not be turned off.


You really learn something new everyday.

Ok scroll to the part that says : “I don’t drink the coffee unless I know the water’s coming from a bottle”. Err, things that make you go hmm? Now this article really made me think about asking for cofee on a flight. In fact, I am likely to get paranoid about even the hot water that is used to make tea…

Being a reasonably frequent flyer, I am beginning to suspect that each time I get a little under the weather after a business or leisure trip, it could have been caused by the water I drank on the flight? Sure, jet lag + work or the food may have contributed but water is surely one of the bigger cause?

Not to sound alarming, but now that you know this does it induce you to think again?

It’s like flowers are free in Holland

Buying flowers is one of Suan’s bugbears. They are so expensive here in Singapore. But then how can you complain? Most if not all fresh produce are imported to our little red dot.

You can imagine that she was in high heaven while living in Holland.Imagine being able to buy a bunch of 30 tulips for just €5. And different flowers too…Narcissus, Roses, Iris, Amaryllis, Peony and even Orchids! Not exactly gratis, but really close.

Yeah those were the days.

Why is this the case? That’s because the Dutch were cultivating for the bulbs, not the flowers. The flowers, were simply ‘by-products’…

But did you know that Holland is the major flower trading center of the world? Or that in Holland the cultivation of flowers come in “waves”, different species blooming over the months from early spring till early summer? And driving amongst the fields where they are grown watching them grow, flower and eventually bloom.

Enjoy flowers? Read more here.

Adding Iran to the list

The land that is today Iran was Persia, one that evokes images of grandeur, of magnificent palaces and flying carpets. Huh? Flying carpets? Sorry for the mix up. The carpet salesmen were from the Arabian nights.

But then Persian carpets are really valuable. And we digressed as usual.

Greatest extent of Persian Empire
At its greatest extent, Persia straddled Europe and Asia

Yes it is true that the Medes, those ancient Iranians had already migrated and dominated the present day borders by 1000BC. However, it was established first as an enduring, united and vast empire by Cyrus the Great in 550BC.

Persia has lived through two millennia of falling and rising dynasties like China. It has outlasted its contemporaries in the form of the Romans, Byzantines and the Ottomans. Well, not quite the Ottomans whom the Turks lay heritage claim to.

In 2017, Mel intend to commence collecting and reading of Persian history books having completed East and Central Asia. What a coincidence.

Being labelled a pariah state is not a compliment. For years the country felt the harsh hand of sanctions and exclusion from the world stage. Thus it is a good thing that this country is slowly being re-welcomed back into the family of nations.

With the country opening up rapidly for tourism as this article suggests, it is definitely time to make the journey before it loses its exotic allure just like Cuba is likely to. With even BA resuming flights 6 times a week (London to Tehran), what excuse do we have for not planning? Aargh…so many places opening up at the same time and we have limited time and money to journey there!

Bringing a piece of the journey home

Bad tourists leave things behind – we mean the negatives such as scribbling “xxx was here” on some thousand-year old artefact. Bad tourists also take things away from where they should stay – example smuggling out artefacts. Latest one being the defacing of corals in Bali apparently by Chinese tourists.

But it is also true that you want to bring something from that journey you make back with you. In this article, there are 15 Huffington editors who shared some of the most treasured items they brought home with them from their journeys.

Let’s see, what are the most outrageous items Mel and Suan bring home?

  • two 5’x3′ oil paintings from  Bali
  • a pair of 15-pound cut agate from Colorado
  • beaver gloves and hide from Alaska
  • acorns that had dispersed their seeds. The largest one from France.
  • reindeer rug from Finland

Yes we know it’s kids stuff. But hey! We are compliant Singaporeans who follows the rules and the laws of the land, wherever we are…

There is however a shadier side though to bringing things homes from your journeys. Surprisingly, many people do not know that selfies and photos with exotic animals are usually traumatic – for the animals we mean! In a recent article at the DailyMail, examples of how these “pets” are managed/prepared for their photography sessions sickens the heart. Think about it before you pay fora selfie.

What will you bring home?

Wonen in den Nederland?

Suan and ik woont in Nederland voor drie jaren. Het reden? Een Baan. Mel had verhuisd van Shanghai naar Amsterdam na het fabriek gesloten was. Onze blijf nam ons rond Europa, maar ook den Nederland. Ja, Mel had nederlands geleerd via een basiscursus en oefening met collegas. Hopelijk deze klanken niet vreemd voor nederlanders…LOL

And in 2005, we came back home to Singapore. There is an interesting story behind this move too, but that would be another day. Today the story is on our move TO Holland and the 3-years we spent there. Not a long diatribe, but excepts that open the doors a little to the many more stories to come describing the ‘trials and tribulations’ of living and traveling in a country that is mostly underwater.

How time flies. Pack your bags, go to Holland

That was what Mel heard from his boss one day when he was stationed in Shanghai. Huh? But why? If you were told such a thing, what would your response be? You’d guess it, he said sure thing! And this decision was made without the input of the wife…anyway she agreed. Within 6 months and a few flights to Amsterdam, we were there!

Your impressions of Amsterdam, what would they be? Would it be one of soft druggies on the streets? Do you think the red light district is what it is hyped to be? Dutch culture and lives – well they can get some getting used to.

It has been 11 years since we made the return journey from Holland. And so it goes. This is the start of a new series of stories, this time from our days living in Holland. There are in total 9 of them, to commemorate the years we have been back home since that stint. Look out for them over the next 2 months.

When we first arrived in Amsterdam, Mel was given a book to introduce him and Suan to the culture of the Dutch. The book “The Undutchables” gave some insights into the unique characteristics that appear to reasonate in everyday life of a Dutch person. We were moving to a European country. How did we manage this move? Read on here.