Dream destination Russia

Like every working couple, we have a limited budget to travel.

Depending on your own economic circumstances (pay, expense, lifestyle etc), there is always a finite limit to how much we can spend on discretionary activities such as travel.

I love to read the Straits Times Sunday edition (a Singapore newspaper publication for those not in the know), when the editors devote quite a number of pages describing places where their correspondent(s) or guest writers had travelled to.

Over this weekend, it was the segment on Russia that captured our eye.

It has always been one of the countries (not a specific destination) to spend time in, with the onion shaped domes of the massive Orthodox cathedrals in the skyline. Red Square, I am trying to imagine standing there…

Well, Russia is large. At 17 million km², it is immense and spans 10 (or is it 11?) time zones. It can take longer to travel across this enormous landmass than for us in Singapore to fly to New York.

The article cited a Russophile who made a train trip across the country. Wow. Nice! For those who can read the newspaper, there is a wonder photo of the train chugging along lake Baikal. You will be happy that this can be done within the comforts of the train:

tsars_gold_intro_cabins_images

Courtesy of: The Trans-Siberian Travel Company

Ok, back to our own plans.

At this time we are evaluating:

  1. Group tour with one of the travel agencies here in Singapore.
  2. Joining one of those Trafalgar/Insight kind of tour groups from Europe.
  3. Getting our own visas and booking our trip to Moscow and St Petersburg.

Let’s see how this turns out. Comments and suggestion welcome.

 

The Long Journey Q1-16

Wow it is now 2016. How time flies!

The past year seemed to have rushed by. I have changed jobs and started this blog finally. Many fateful events have occurred…

Well, it is time to share the latest newsletter. We are really looking forward to an exciting 2016 and hopefully get to our next dream destination.

The Long Journey Q1-2016

There has been so many articles written on our past trips over the last 20 years, and some of the photos do appear aged…for 2016 the intent is to have both a mix of “throw back” articles and updates on our latest travel destinations.

The latest issue kicks that off by mixing a description of our trip to visit the tribal folks of Northern Thailand, with the faraway and very different world of French liquor making.

Comments welcome!

Onward to the Annual Japan trip

We have an annual “ritual” of visiting the land of the rising sun.

A key component of the trip is usually a visit to the famed outlet mall of Gotemba, an hour’s drive outside of the metropolis of Tokyo.

Our planned next trip will take place in February over the lunar new year holidays. It will be a 10 day trip and we will be in both Tokyo and the Fuji five lakes.

It will also be a driving trip in the Fuji lakes, in winter with snow tires…Quite some adventure to look forward to.

The Long Journey Q4-15

This is a retrospective post of our quarterly newsletter for the last quarter of 2015.

In each newsletter, we talk a little about the main travel activities we had in the preceding quarter. This quarterly thingy is so corporate, but you see I have little time to really write and usually lump all of them together at one go.

Click The Long Journey Q4-2015 to view the PDF.

Between July – September of last year, we used up quite some miles in our timeshare. We have 1700 points per year – enough for a week’s worth of stay at any of the 6 resorts across Thailand and Indonesia. However, in between traveling to more distant places and my business trips (which we combine with leisure = “bleisure”), we had not used our timeshare points such that had accumulated – some close to expire!

Never one to lose anything lest alone travel miles, we redeemed two separate stays – one in Chiang Mai and the other on the Indonesian island of Bintan. All this just to use some of the points and run the total down to a manageable level that expires only in Dec 2016. Now the same challenge awaits us in the 2nd half of the year…

For those who contemplate buying timeshare, don’t. Many years ago when we bought this, it was worthwhile. Today, you can take a flight like taking a bus (except the boarding takes longer…). Plethora of “advisers” out there to tell you where to go, what to do, eat, shop blah… In other words, timeshare is so passé. But we are stuck with it and not having it easy to sell away, thus will continue to make the best of it.

The Long Journey Q3-15

Another retrospective post of our newsletter. Intent to backdate till Q1-15 – aka January 2015, as if we begun blog posting then… hee

This issue is one with an example of how we find ways and means to catch up and meet with travel companions and friends made from many years ago. Val is still leading tours all over even at her advanced age. What a gal! We met in the summer (northern hemisphere one) of 1996 when taking the Trafalgar tour of Scandinavia. Her camera went kaput and fortunately we had a spare which we lent her. And those where the days of the film camera!

All these years we had kept in constant contact and exchanged greeting cards (Suan did the work of course). Whenever Val has a stopover in Singapore on her way to any of her long journeys, we will try to meet up for a meal, coffee etc. Anyhow, for this occasion, Val did not have much of a stopover and we only had some morning coffee before she headed to the airport.

Click The Long Journey Q3-2015 to view PDF

For our own selves, we were in “avatar” land, the famous Zhang-Jia-Jie (张家界). Supposedly the landscape that inspires the movie, we spent a full 3 days in the area but were thwarted by the mist! It seems that this is the norm more than exception…

Natural Great wall21
View of the Natural Great Wall – well what we could see anyway.

I guess this gives us the reason to visit again, hopefully when the skies are clearer!

The Long Journey Q2-15

In this pre-dated post, we have dulled the colour of the newsletter (not the photos though) to commemorate the passing of one of Singapore’s founding father. He passed away in March, and there was an emotional send off by many folks in the small island nation.

Click The Long Journey Q2-2015 for the PDF.

We had an eventful Jan-March, as the usual “pilgrimage” to Japan took place over the lunar new year holidays. While it was not a long holiday, it was filled with many activities ranging from getting to an outlet mall an hour’s coach outside of Tokyo, to exploring the many new malls that still seem to be springing up in Tokyo! And we are suppose to believe Japan is in an prolonged economic slump!