A winter’s tale on North island

If you were to read the essay of our journey to North Island New Zealand, you would know that it is as far from our little red dot as it would be to the UK. This piece of geographical fact was lost on us when we first made this journey.

First, it is good to know that this was a piece of godsend. Mel had dined in a local chain restaurant and entered into a lucky dip. Of all of his colleagues who were with him, it was only he who won a free pair of air tickets to – you guessed it – New Zealand!

With this auspicious start, it made budgeting for this journey more palatable financially, given that Mel was still progressing to complete his part-time degree studies. Yup, it was work and study! So like younger folks today who yearn to get out there even with limited budget, Mel & Suan scrimped and saved for this…

And soon, we were in New Zealand. On the first of a lifetime of travels together.

It was the island of ice and fire that we had journeyed to. The steaming ground reminds us that the earth is still active beneath us. Very. In fact hot springs were quite common, which in hindsight now, we are surprised there aren’t more “Onsen” like places on the North Island then. Perhaps folks were not eager to have hot naked baths, though we did see a few nudists at one of them hot springs…What did Mel & Suan see and do on their maiden voyage together? Read here to find out!

Have you been to New Zealand’s north island?

Flying like taking a bus?

Have you ever been on a flight that seems or is overbooked? What if one were told that the only way to fly was to stand, like in taking a bus? Would you take the flight? If this story is to be believed, there were potentially 7 passengers who stood for 3½hours while they flew to their destination.

Ok ok, today we are not naming or shaming any airline.

The point to get your attention is how we have seemingly made flying a central means of transport when it comes to leisure travel. Statistics are hard to believe on this subject area. They are fraught with assumptions, presumptions and guess work all thrown into a melange. So let’s just use them as a guide and apply some common sense.

If one is to believe this article, half the world flew in 2015.

Actually if you think about it, and the article does point that out – is that you would count more than once if you had a connecting flight. And we’d add that if you are a frequent flyer, you’d add to the ‘number of people who flew’ statistic too. Many times! You might recall that we had written too about the number of people traveling (here and here).

So, a little correction is due. It is NOT the equivalent of the world’s population that will be flying by 2035. Rather, there will be 7 billion flights taken by that time. Just like there are many millions of commuters on trains and buses in a year, it appears flying will indeed become just like taking the bus.

Ok, time to go take the bus flight.

A Floating cruise Gym

Yeah you read that right. The new things that people come up with. All of you fit bods out there take notice. You can be a passenger aboard a boat and power it. No, not rowing it but you can literally be using the cross trainers or spinning bikes and move a boat along the Seine river.

Talk about enjoying a view while you work out!

If this concept gets beyond the designers’ table, you and 44 other passengers could soon be spinning wheels in a gym fitted onto a leisure boat cruising along Paris’s old dame of a river. Or any river where enterprising business folks detect sufficient demand. They say that an order for the boat can be ready in 18 months!

Ok, not all the power for the boat will come from you. For there are also solar panels in case you need to take a break…besides, not everyone will pedal at the same speed…

Heheh, we are sure many of you who use gyms will experience this. When one runs on a threadmill or cycles on a spin bike in a gym, one’s stationary. Perhaps you will have earphones plugged into your ears to listen to music and/or watch the TV screen while you work out. But imagine the feeling of getting somewhere as you work out.

This is one of the latest ideas that is being bandied about. Will you pay for a river cruise while working out?

Delightful Sydney

Ah yes Sydney…when one thinks about the city, what springs to mind would be the iconic images of the opera house and harbor bridge. Especially when they are lighted up for an festive explosion of lights and colors.

This post brings us back. Quite some time back. It harks back to a time when Mel & Suan had just gotten hitched (officially) and were busy enjoying the marital bliss, which by the way is still ongoing (we wrote about this).

Now you need to know that when we made this journey, there was little in the way of information available on the web, which was at its nascent stage. Thus the majority of planning for the journey was performed “offline” (hard to imagine now huh?), searching what we could from travel booths at travel fairs, or dropping in at the tourist office of the country one intended to visit – if one existed. Remember doing this?

Of course we had help. In the form of folks who lived in Australia. They gave lots of advise too and we gratefully lapped it up. But still, we have to say that we arrived in Sydney relatively unprepared for the details though big on ideas of what we wanted to see and do… being young and invincible… eager to just hit the city and make the itinerary up as we got along. Quite unlike how we are now inaundated with information on what to do/see/eat don’t you think?

There are certainly many reasons to keep returning to Sydney. Our reminisce (here) would tell you so. Have you been to Sydney? What did you like about it?

Well, this wraps up our Australian series. Next up, the land of the Kiwis…

Let’s go to Oymyakon…

Coming from us you’d think Oymyakon is a place in Japan. Well it sort of is…close, about 2200km north of Hokkaido across a stretch of ocean….heheh

So where the hell in the world is Oymyakon? If you Google it, you will see that it is located in the eastern reaches of the Russian far east. So you thought that -27°C is cold? How about -90? Fahrenheit!! For those who remember how to convert this to Celsius – thats approximately -68°C… enough for cars to be useless there, or so we read.

Incredible as it sounds, there are actually 500 souls (give and take a few) living in this village according to the Huffington article.

Such a cool pic.jpg
Lifted from the article. Cool or what?

It is reported that this is the coldest permanently inhabited town/village in the world. And the pictures in this article come from an Amos Chapple who visited this remote and cold (lol – understatement) place of inhabitation. Why of all places he, and apparently a female partner (who models in the photos) visited such a location is beyond us. Wait…why do we tropical folks went to the slightly less cold Harbin is a wonder too! Btw if you look at the photos it’s sure damn cool – no pun intended.

Can you hear Suan in the background going all excited about how awesome this photo looks? For the backdrop and fashionable model that is…

Hmmm, for that matter why do we (humankind) climb the highest mountains, dive the deepest oceans and trek the driest deserts? Because there is an insatiable thirst in our species to get out there and explore the ‘unknown’. We wrote about (here) how NatGeo is sponsoring Paul Salopek in his trek to the ends of the world.

Alright, so this place is not exactly unknown. But it is the novelty of the experience and the memories of “roughing” it out that was probably what went on in Amos’s head. We think.

Shall we make a journey to Oymyakon?

A beery good drink at 35,000ft

You might recall that we mentioned briefly in our post on gorgeous airline food (read here) that one’s sense of taste appears to be ‘dumbed’ down from the altitude (and perhaps attitude) and also the high decibel sound in the cabin.

And you might also have read that, when flying try to avoid drinking alcholic beverages.

What if the airline you were flying with tells you they have brewed a fine draft that has been crafted to taste its best at 35,000 feet in the air? The daily mail’s article tells that this is being served to first and business class passengers for selected flights between March and April. So by now, this offer is over…

But today the point of our post is not how to have a beery good drink 10km up in the atmosphere.

There is much debate about the affects of alcohol on the health of passengers when flying. Some cited research suggests that with low air pressure from the altitude, our blood is effectived thinned. This is said to accentuate the affects of alcohol. Others disagreeing, believe that the air with lower oxygen level leaves less of this vital element in your brain leading to intoxication. Either way, perhaps this might explain why people get inebriated and exhibit anti social behavior when flying?

A spate of incidents on planes in the last 12 months had prompted some airports to even consider banning alcohol not just on planes but also in the terminal itself! We had wrote previously about badly behaved passengers.

We have a tipple or two when we fly. Is a drink while flying ok? What do you think?