Staying at the airport control tower

No. It is not that the airport terminal or the local airport hotels have run out of space. In July of last year the Arlanda airport folks held a competition where winners can spend some time living in the former airport control tower (here).

Fancy being in the control tower where folks once directed aircrafts?

Today though our post is not about staying in what we’d consider a quirky location. You can easily do that with AirBnB by looking up exotic locations on offer. What we want to talk about today is about airports. You know, the places where you take a plane.

As you might have read (here), our little red dot just opened a fourth terminal at our international airport (we have 5 others airports/strips btw). Now that’s nothing if one’s been to the large hubs in the US (O’Hare, McCarran, JFK etc) or in Europe (Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle etc). And it is not a boast about size.

It’s about the fact that airports are ‘putting on weight’. From a size 8 to a size 12 so to speak. Finding sufficient land to “fit” the expanding waistlines of airports can be a challenge. Getting from one side of it to the other a chore. They’ve become miniature cities in themselves such that some are sited well out and away from the cities they serve. Someday, we predict that they will become tourist attractions in themselves too. Just like the abandoned Arlanda control tower in the above link or the one at former Kallang airport in our little red dot.

Have you explore airports before? Or do you simply transit through them?

Alternate travel experiences

You might have played this before at some corporate event. You know – being trapped in a room where you have to search for clues leading you to the numbers that open a lock or a door to escape. But this seems to be getting to a new level. Would you go for being trapped in a real basement? The article suggests that Hungary is the where you can experience this intensity of the game.

The point of our post is, does each journey you embark on build you memories? Because sometimes alternate travel experiences do. But do you need that?

We’ve been writing about journeys with a purpose (here & here). What we referred to were journeys in which you built memories. You know, something you can recall. Not the ones where you’ve been and its like “wow what did we do there?”… and in some cases, alternate travel experiences might hold the key to keeping those journeys memorable. But that’s for one to decide upon.

Have you ever wondered, as you looked through the photos you’ve taken that they seem similar? That sandy white beach could have been on the Maldives, Mauritius or the Philippines (or Caribbean, list goes on). If you hadn’t sorted them out, how’d you know? What would be the spark that helps you recall that journey?

We aim to put a story or a topic of discussion in our postings. And we try utmost to do the same in our handprint stories to help us remember (heheh getting old perhaps). And of course the game we referred to does not have to be a claustophic one. One could try ‘escaping’ from the city. Justine did exactly that (read here). Would you play an escape game in every city you get to?

Brings new meaning to getting away on an ‘escape’ doesn’t it?

Unusual Hotels

Have you stayed in an unusual hotel before? Some of the pictures in this article make one wonder how is it like to stay in one. Did you see the picture of the hotel in the link? That one’s along the southern edges of Taihu (太湖), a freshwater lake about 100km from Shanghai. We wrote about traipsing about the lake recently (here).

It was strange for us to observe that of the polled millenials, ‘only’ 42% have stayed in house or apartment rentals (the equivalent AirBnBs of the world), which would imply a large segment. And it appears to be in the west. Because it also seems such unusual hotels seem to be the rage more in Asia. At least this is what the article seems to be driving at. No details, so can’t dissect it… the trouble with statistics. Depends on who the ‘barber’ is presenting it.

The theme though of this post is : innovation.

In a competitive world vying for a share of the hearts and minds of consumers, it is key to stand out from your competition. It is also critical to have brand / value proposition that appeals to a targeted segment, group, whatever. Sure we said AirBnB is revolutionizing travel (here), but there probably will be limits to where they can reach. And hotel chains around the world are attempting to respond, sometimes in ways that amazes. So nothing remains static.

And it is not only in Asia that one finds such innovative and bold attempts to offer differntiated travel experience. One will find them all over the world. Indeed, as we hurtle towards the 2020s, we may yet witness even more innovation when it comes to having a night’s stay while on your journey(s).

We might not be staying in these unusual hotels, but we sure would like to see them. Wouldn’t you?

Dance your way to your next journey

There are so many ways to live up your travel journey experiences. Some opt for the opulent and overtly luxurious, while other revel in the joy of being “one of the locals”. Some might consider cultural and artistic pursuits to be paramount yet others yearn to have a taste of the places they journey to.

How about adding dancing at a formal ball to your journeying experience? One where you will be waltzing away in an ornate ballroom. One where you can be combining culture (the dance) with a tour (the location of the ball). Unlike sitting passively listening to an orchestra, here you would have some liberty to express yourself and enjoy it. Try swaying too much on your seat the next time you attend a symphony and you’ll see how the people around you respond. LOL.

Of course you can also tap dance your way across town, if without the taps on the heels of your shoes… Singing (in the rain?), ok humming as you traipse along the streets taking photos and saying hi to the folks. Absorbing the sun shine (on a rainy day?), makes my soul, makes my soul trip trip away…. so an old song from the 90s went.

Seriously, does music and dance figure in your mind when you are exploring a new destination? We think it is one element that should not be missing when you travel. Just like missing out on Jazz when you are in NOLA, it would be truly the sound of silence if one ignores the iconic music each city/town or even rural countryside brings.

Will you take a dance to the street or in the ballroom in your next journey?

Forgotten Memories from an almost forgotten journey

Earlier this week I posted that : it still pays to do a little planning for your journeys, and that being totally spontaneous can be an extreme. In other words, don’t just get lost on purpose, as opposed to the article I read. See post here.

I take it back. Well, partially at least.

Was just leafing through various reading sources and came up to this article by Andeep Singh about what vacation memories are. Her post was written last September.

Hmm…I must say the article made a lot of sense and injected a fresh paradigm into me. Imagine what you might have recalled (memories) from your last trip. Now compare that with someone who shared the same journey. Make a list of the memories you each recalled to be the defining experience(s).

As a little experiment, Mel and Suan sat down separately and wrote down what were the hallmarks of our journey to Japan in February. The results :

His Hers
Driving in the winter. So exciting after many years! The view of Mount Fuji from Lake Yamanaka is so beautiful.
Watching with throngs of Japanese ladies buying Valentine’s day gift. Amazed with the intricate confectionery! Standing on the rooftop of Maruei Ryokan with Mount Fuji in full view in the morning and my photos taken.
Taking Suan’s photo at Lake Yamanaka with Fuji and a swan in the background. Waiting for sunset at the Natural living center at lake Yamaguchi.
Waiting at the pre-own stores while Suan goes wild looking! I was trying hard to browse… All the shopping still fresh in the mind from all the walk in Tokyo. Parco where I bought many clothes!
The dinner on Valentine’s day on the 53rd floor, with the night lights of the city and we having a nice cosy corner to dine. Remembering in quite detail the meals we had in Tokyo. I planned to eat at those places! (PS: she actually CAN recall them all…)

I must say there are quite some contrasting views of the same journey we made together. I mean, its supposed to be shared memories right? But how come we seem to recall them from such different angles? Can this be explained with just how our neural synapes connect differently in each one of us? We really seem to remember moments, differently! Its now proven with an experiment! Sheesh, amateurs. It would only be logical to see things differently right?

Consolation : at least we are agreed on the beautiful modelling at Lake Yamanaka. And photography too…

So, Andeep’s article gives credence to the view that we sometimes overlook the often thought ‘insignificant’ experiences within experiences of our journey. She mentioned events (or perhaps activities). I think she meant from the point of another person. What is an inconsequential occurrence to one can be a defining moment for others. Though you could be there, you tend to ‘forget’ some of these moments. After all, one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

But then its not bad at all! And perhaps that’s the whole point. We share our own moments from the same journeys, and with lots of photos taken these days, have the opportunity to enjoy a meatier conversation about it down the road. And photos form an important part of triggering our recollection. Remember the baby photo albums that your parents kept?

For those with children, take note. We recommend you ask your kids what they really remembered about the vacations you have taken together.

You just might be surprised!

Journey with a purpose

A recent article in Singapore reminded us about the adequacy of retirement planning. While we do not comment on financial or investment issues, our focus is on what people intend to do when they DO retire.

Not surprisingly, ‘traveling to see the world’ is one of those activities. And we are talking more on this one activity. Seems this could be one thing that is common across aspiring retires across the world?

Like any economic exchange, traveling is an act of a traveller spending his/her monetary asset in exchange for an experience (via services rendered). The providers of the service(s) which produces the experience expend time and effort to deliver this. From the traveller’s perspective, this was a consumption of his/her capital asset. Many people expect to have sufficient retirement funds to meet this aspiration. Never mind that it is not clear why they want to travel a lot in their golden years if they hadn’t done so earlier in their lives.

Clueless traveler

Is it just for leisure and then forget? To shop, eat and don’t remember anything? Sometimes we can be clueless as to why we travel in the first place besides the “I wanna go see the world”. For what?!


Since we are on a roll here with NatGeo from my last posts, I will share with you an article written last November on getting lost with a purpose. While I do agree with Heather that creating a checklist to meet is potentially stifling and could lead you to “miss the tree for the forest”, most people inherently do some planning because of finite resources be it time or money. Perhaps youth is an asset where time is seemingly infinite.

Her tips on how to ‘get lost’ seems innocent. But be wary that the neighbours and strangers that you seek advise from may live around checklists too…just that the items on theirs is not on yours…Being open is what I agree on. But most of all, see what you want and not wander aimlessly. It’s still good to do some planning.


Back to traveling with a purpose.

So I posed to Suan this question : why do we (ie Mel and Suan) travel so much?

Her answer was : so that we gain a shared experience as a couple.

So here you go, memories. Since we decided not to have children, our memories will not be of changing diapers, the child’s first words etc. Our purpose is not just ‘to see the world’, but to go on journeys together and gain a shared memory, something that will tide us over in the most trying of times. As we mentioned time and again on this blog, memories are all you have when you lie down expiring.

Traveling. What is your purpose?