Descend into the 18 levels of hell

Been to hell and back before? And if we told you that it is possible would you believe us? Yeah sure we’ve all been through “hell” before. Those who performed time in the armed services might tell you of ‘hell week’. Those going through their finals (exams) will share with you their weeks of ‘hell’ swoting for it. And then there are those at work who might swear that the week they just had was like ‘hell on earth’…

But today we are not talking about these metaphorical forms of hell.

We are referring to a place in our little red dot where you can get a good preview of what it would be like to be a soul that has been banished to this supposed pit of eternal suffering in the afterlife. At least from the view of the ancient Chinese…

And none other than at the Haw Par Villa will you find the portal to this surreal world. One where you will be fortunately just an observer. And hopefully you will come out all wiser about the virtues of being a good person. Aside from avoiding being put through eons of torture… there are true moral lessons to be learnt too.

And so we continue finally onto this next instalment of our introductions to the sights of Singapore. Interested to know more? Well click on the above link and be hyperlooped there. You’d wish this was not an escape game if you were ever to be stuck there… the only upside? It’s free.

Have you experience anything like this anywhere else in the world?

A childhood dream

One of the things as children we were obsessed with was building stuff. And with what? Lego bricks and Play Mobil! We recall how costly it was to buy a set each time from the departmental store. And we saved our pennies in order to buy the coolest one. Do you remember constructing a jet out of these little bricks? Yeah, those were the days… today you might 3D print one. Heheh…

Over time Lego bricks had been “constructed” into various sculptures, some so elaborate that can only be said as works of art. When you trough the web you will discover it is a industry world in itself.

Today it appears Lego isn’t doing that well in terms of the sales of this traditional toy (they’ve been shedding jobs last year). And while they’ve been diversifying into other areas (parks, movies and cartoons for example), it seems like today’s children might not be as enamoured to this mode of play as we were. Yeah, sounds like we are dinosaurs huh? Did you enjoy playing with Lego bricks?

So we will watch closely and observe how this latest attraction (read here) will perform. Ok, so the house itself is not made of Lego bricks though it looks like it. There is actually a Legoland park in Johore Bahru across the causeway from our little red dot. We’ve not visited it yet before.

Did you collect lego play sets when you were growing up? Will you visit this new Lego house in Denmark?

Biting pieces of the Apple

There are many blogs and essays on the web about New York City. Plus the instagram photos, snapchat etc. We’ve been privileged to have been to the city quite a number of times over the last many years. But like they say, sometimes you don’t cherish what you have around you, that you see everyday…

Our story on the big Apple is really about some of the differences between when we first visited and recent years. This piece here shares that with you. And since there are so many places and things to describe, we thought we’d separate them into “bite sized” chunks for your to chew on.

What is there to see in each part of town? Well here’s our take:

  • Down Town is so busy! Aside from the finance district, it is also a jump-off point to liberty island, read all about it here.
  • Mid Town is all about skyscrapers it seems. So it should not be surprising to know that our take here on this section of the city would focus on them!
  • Up Town for us has largely been central park. But it is not the only attraction, though today for us it still is. Read all about our exploration of the largest green corridor of the city here.

We are sure you’ve got your own NYC stories to share. What would it be?

A fort in Singapore?

If one is asked about the little red dot – ie Singapore, one might envision a modern city full of skyscrapers and shopping malls… glitzy gardens etc. Sure. And for those who dig a little you might know that Singapore was ‘founded’ in 1819 by a British gentlemen whose name grace places, hotels, road names all over our little red dot.

But did you know that this was just the modern founding of the island?

For did you know that the trading of exotic goods was already a booming business for this little island well over 600 years ago? Heheh… betcha that you did not know that! To the point that the island was already an entrepot like its modern founder envision it today, except waaaay back.

So today our post is about a hill. Or more importantly, a fort on a hill. Simply because when you have a good thing going, it might invite envy. Someone might want to either take over your turf or destroy it… that is was the way that nation states handled it back then. The age of mercantilism, talk about business empires…

Thus coveted real estate have to be defended right? How else but from a vantage point. That’s why the word is used – vantage. Good to have an ad-vantage over your potential adversaries right? (Ok the word count for this post is achieved… phew). You might know that Singapore was the most fortified asset of the British empire in its heyday. So you can expect quite a few forts and pillboxes all over the island.

We shall not dive too much into history and leave you to find out more on your own. Take a peek here at how you can enjoy a walk on this monumental hill of our little red dot! Have you been here before? If so, what struck you the most?

Tour Boeing’s factory

This is incredible. And the post (here) really piqued our interest in visiting Everett. Where’s this place you ask? Well, it’s near Seattle and if you had read the link, you’d know that this town is home to Boeing. Yep, we’re talking about the folks who make a lot of the aircrafts we fly on.

We are sure you agree it is incredibly complex to build an aircraft. And enormous ones too. They have to be not only sturdy and safe but also efficient to operate too. That’s a fine balance to achieve and an incredible feat + amount of engineering effort is expended in the design and manufacture of each airliner. Noticed we said ‘liner’. Because today the airplane is no longer just a craft. It has evolved to be not only large to accomodate a lot of passengers, but it has also tacked on much more in amenities too. It all started with the flat beds in business class and we have ‘graduated’ to having showers and little apartments on board too…

Unlike mass market software, mass market passenger aircrafts cannot fail and reboot. That’s the difference between Microsoft and Boeing in our opinion. Hence a greater interest in getting there to see how these giants of transportation are put together.

One day. Perhaps we can visit the shipyards where the giant cruise ships are constructed too. You know, they are like little cities these days! But for now, it costs a mere US$16 to visit the Boeing plant. Would you go if you are ever in Everett?

Celebrating festivals

As a tourist, seeing festivals around the world is fascinating. Afterall they are different from our own customs, exotic to most outsiders (here). From wife carrying competition in Finland to La Tomatina in Spain just last month, travelers flock to these events to join in the fun.

Many years back we recalled Mel’s boss in Holland reminiscing how as a young man in the 1970s he had climbed up high on temples in Bali watching the proceedings of ceremonies and festivals. Those were the days when western travellers were few and far between and when places like Bali were truly exotic, sometimes bordering on risky to put it mildly.

In all of our journeys so far, we’ve not had the fortune of being in the midst of important festivals or celebrations. And being part of the drinking party during Oktoberfest or on St Patrick’s day don’t count in our view. Except that one time in Malta (here) when we arrived just in time to watch the carnival processions. Not as outlandish perhaps compared to the one in Venice, it was nonetheless an experience to participate along with the locals in the revelry, though in Malta it was a little more “subdued” in our opinion. Perhaps that has evolved now over the years – will someone correct us?

And finally there is the bizarre. Did you know there is a cat food festival near Lima every September? No. They don’t feed the cats, the cats are the food. Yikes! On the other hand the festival of the horns is rather sobering. Look it up!

Have you joined in any unique festival before and where was that?