Don’t you love aircraft windows?

We all probably know about the dreaded middle seat and we wrote about seats being misaligned to the window (read here). Or the ones where one need the good graces of the other party sitting next to you to give way. So’d you can get out of your cramped seat for a stretch, or join the queue for the water closet (yeah we’d say toilet, but today we speak Queen’s English ok?). Heheh.

Today we are not talking about that.

Rather, the focus is on the views from the window seat. Assuming it is aligned to the window that is. We’ve said countless times how we enjoy the views from the window. Literally staring out for long periods of time until we realize it does hurt the eyes… The Daily Mail actually had pilots share photo images taken from the cockpit some months back. Made for excellent instagram posts… deraming about someday, beyond the sea air…

Obviously they have wider windows. Unfortunately we don’t, but here is a little slide show with some of the views we captured. Did you spot the one that does not seem right? Which one was it?

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Does this convince you to jostle for the window seat each time you get on a flight?

How great is the Great Wall?

In a course on social pyschology many years back, Mel learnt about how humans have this tendency to form groups. And these groups frequently distinguish themselves from other groups or individuals. Some will keep to themselves and exclude other ‘non members’ socially. Others will build a wall.

Literally.

Not walls in one’s mind. Real solid brick stone or mud walls. Perhaps they do that (ie build walls) to keep other non members of their group away physically. Out of sight, out of mind right? Maybe they wanted to cordon off a space to call their own. ‘We dont want to share‘ it seems to call out to us…or perhaps they were scared and wanted to protect themselves. Don’t you wonder what the true considerations were when it came to the grand scale of walls built by the ancient Chinese?

Not built in a day just as Rome weren’t, the walls were built by the many states on the north China plains. It just took a stroke of ‘genius’ to decide that they should be repaired, linked and perhaps extended… building a wall cost money and lives, some modern leader needs to learn.

Today we call them walls ‘Great’. Was it really so? Did the ancient Chinese really tried to build walls to defend themselves as marketed? Or was it building walls to carve out and protect the territories that they snatched from someone else? Historians and experts of antiquities may have a field day debating all of this, so why not ponder over this point as you read of our explorations of the magnificent wall, one that is said (debunked) to be visible from space?

Our climbings are recorded here. Have you been to the wall? Did you climb it and became a ‘good Han’?

Hunting for a meal at cats’ hallows

Literally translated, Maokong (貓空) means Cats hallows. Though you will be really disappointed that there are no sign of cats here. Well, perhaps some stone statues of them. The local dialect name for this place is “ngiow kang” (it’s the Hokkien dialect). When the mainlanders first came, there were indeed many civets (sure, feline too) that roamed the hills. Not anymore…and let’s not go into why…

No, they did not eat the cats. According to whom we ask.

It’s just that the habitat was transformed as the hills were carved into tea plantations, of the 鐵觀音 (romanized: Tier-Guan-Yin) variety is cultivated. Perhaps the cats moved because of this? Even till today, this variety of tea is served in the many small family owned restaurants that dot the landscape. If you think this was like a really isolated place, be prepared to meet lots of folks on the trails, stairs etc.

And indeed we were like cats hunting for a meal. Stalking and gingerly (actually tiredly) advancing onto our target, this pair of hungry felines (one’s a tomcat) finally found our desired restaurant after a lot of asking for directions. Like lions (who are also of the cat family), we ravished lunch while looking the other way at the views of Taipei 101 peeping at us from a distant.

Find out more about our fun day at Maokong here.

So this ends our Taiwan series…next up, Confederation Helvetica!

Night markets Taipei

If you hadn’t read about our Taiwan food coma (here), then you’ve missed out! While Taiwan may have some beautiful vistas, we tend to think that it is the diversity of food on this island that is more of a draw. For us anyway!

Sure there will be night markets all over Asia.

Having beaten the path in Thailand, Hongkong, China and Indonesia, we have to say that the ones in Taiwan is ichiban (一番)! The featured image on this post is the smelly or stinky tofu. Just like durians, it may take a little of acquired taste to enjoy. But once you are over the hurdle, you can’t get enough of it! That’s how Suan felt trying them for the first time…

Not only are there night markets in almost every city in Taiwan, they have specialties too. In the short 3 nights we had the privilege of exploring a separate market every night in Taipei, eating and drinking our way till we could not walk.

Read more here about our adventures into some of Taipei’s night markets and perhaps plan your own “attack” on the food that is on offer…

Large flower domes

This is part of the series we started around sharing beautiful sites of our beloved Singapore. In an earlier post, we introduced the gardens by the bay. Then we sort of got sidetracked. Because there is just so much to share – that even our Holland series took like 2 months to complete. Schizo we are in a way, as we haphazardly post stories from all around.

Well for this post, we focus more on the large domes that are a central feature at the gardens. These large green houses are home to plant species that would not normally thrive in Singapore’s hot and humid climate.


The flower dome in particular houses a great many species from the temperate regions of the world, specifically from California, Italy etc. The cloud dome on the other hand focuses on the tropical plants of the highlands. Yes, the tropics do have mountain ranges too. We recalled that during the 2 years prior to the domes being ready, many of these trees were already stored beneath the highways, behind barbed wire of course!

Sure this part of the gardens is not free. But to complete the entire experience, take some time to explore both domes. Find out more about these domes here if it helps you decide!