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