Bustling Hanoi

How would you like to take a photo of a local rock star having a meal on the streets of your city? Well, that was one of the things that Mel did when he was in Hanoi. You see, it was part of a business trip and when there was free time to roam the city, he took up the challenge. But then we also came by the city on the way to the countryside too in a separate journey.

So here’s the thing. Hanoi is a city that is transforming fast.

But it still have a lot of the old mixed in with the new. Which can sometimes make for a confusing melange. You know it is all amazing with the traffic in the sense it is both chaotic while yet flowing endlessly it seems. Which makes it a challenge to get around on your own, on foot that is when you have to cross roads…

Despite all of this, we are determined that we come back again. Because aside from having quite a few unchecked items on the list, we also found the food to be extremely attractive. For not only did we have Vietnamese, but we also had French – yes French! So much has been retained when it comes to culinary influence that you have to come to savor it for yourselves.

Find out what we did in Hanoi here and why we want to come back. What did you like about Hanoi?

Surprising Manila

Heard about the Manila galleon trade? How about the fact that Manila having one of the best preserved colonial structures in Asia? Our stays in Manila was very memorable (here). In fact, the city actually surprised us.

Being in the city for business meant that it was the airport, taxi, office, hotel, restaurant… and then in reverse.

From the window of one’s taxi, one might view the seeming unending traffic of the city to be challenging for tourists to explore the metropolis. And it is. But that did not stop us from visiting friends to stay for a couple of days each time. For how can one turn away an offer of free lodging? We didn’t.

But free lodging shouldn’t be the decision criteria for one. Because the city’s absolute contrasts is one of its draws. We explored the city walls and fort that the colonial Spaniards left behind. Think about its history, as a site where the independence struggle of a nation took place.

And more importantly, use it as a base from which you can explore any one of the country’s other 7,107 islands… Guess the travel authorities in the country need to pay us if we keep mentioning this… heheh.

Have you been to Manila?

The wrong geography

Can you imagine being taught the wrong geography?

In this link, you will find out which famous geographical markers are wrongly positioned. Guess it will be rather hard to move them huh? Imagine standing at the equator, or at least the location that says so anyway… only to find out it was totally wrong! No wonder the water did not circle the opposite way in the WC when you flushed! LOL. We hope you know what we are referring to…

But today our post is not about being in the wrong place.

It is more about how navigation can sometimes be skewed. Did you know that the magnetic pole of the earth has been shifting? Your mechanical compasses that tracks the magnetic pole will thus be affected, making “north” not truly north. You follow? Perhaps that’s why we cannot find Santa’s real home… (maybe it’s here).

Fortunately today we have plenty of satellites up there in geo-stationary orbit. It is these networks of satellites that provide us more accurate positions on our phones and navigation devices. So the magnetic poles’ movement might not be that apparent to you. But think of the migratory fauna. They don’t have GPS devices nor mobile devices and rely on a combination of senses that probably include magnetic fields.

Would that explain why whales beach themselves not knowing it is land that is ahead? Lots of things to ponder over today. Yeah we know it might give you a headache thinking about them all. Perhaps this might inspire you to write something about this too.

Have you been to any wrongly positioned place(s)?

Party away in San Francisco!

Pier 39 seal colony8
They smell and makes lots of noise

A full day in downtown San Francisco is definitely spent jammed with fellow tourists from all over the world. We met folks from the UK who had just finished a tour of the southwest (Las Vegas was said to be 41°C) and thronged the carnivals of the city on a Sunday at Union Square and later at Stockton.

One tip for ourselves is to get to pier 39 early in the day. There were hardly anyone on the boardwalk and the views to the seal colony were unobstructed (ie no photo bombing). The sun is low and the seals are busy sunning themselves.

Also recommended is to take a walk along pier 41 all the way to Forbes island. Great views of Alcatraz and the gate bridge.

Tram ride to Union St 6
Why is Alcatraz so large?

Yet another tip is to board the cable tram at the Powell-Hyde turnaound. Yes it took us 45 minutes to get on the tram with the long snaking queue, but once onboard you can stand on back end of the tram (smile and strike a conversation with the conductor) and view the city as the tram ascends.

See how Alcatraz seems to become rather large in proportion to its size compared to where you see it from the pier? Have you wondered why?

You can probably get the same views walking up Hyde street, but the feeling is definitely different! And next time, take the Powell-Hyde line to get to the top of Lombard street. The other line (Powell-Mason) stops at the bottom and it’s a long and arduous walk up!

Look out for our journalog in July!

Demise of the Red Phone Box

As far as I can recall, in all of my trips to the UK, I had seriously not taken much attention to this often-said iconic red booths that you are suppose to make phone calls from. Sounds archaic now, but that was the most innovative thing in the early 20th century.

You see, here in Singapore, the phone booths are open. They might be red too, but obviously not in the boxy way the British have them. Them UK ones are probably designed for privacy (?) and perhaps the cold rain that never fails to ruin your day.

Click here for the article at the Huffington post.

With wireless technologies making leaps and bounds (I know, I studied electronics and communications), and the days of the land telephone line is not just numbered, it is a surprise that it still exists! How many of you still have a “land line”?

So these structures are expected to become monuments, if they last.

On any opportunity to journey to the UK, it will definitely be on our other bucket list to take a selfie (or wefie) of the red icon.