What seems tranquil that wasn’t

Will you travel to a gulag? Don’t know what that is? There was a really dark period of history in the story of Russia and its legacy remains till this day. Though from the onset one might not get the feeling that a lot of bad things happened here.

The location itself is definitely exotic enough.

This story from the Daily Mail covered it all (link). And the pictures that you will see in the link may suggest Solovetsky is a beautiful place to visit, albeit a little on the difficult to reach since it is ~100 miles from the arctic circle. Remember our post about this dream cruise (here)?

But the point is – some places appear so peaceful today when one strolls through it, but back in the day, there could have been carnage or immense suffering and destruction that took place. Well ‘Solovi’ has all the trappings of it all. One might bump into a monk, but the places were meditation and prayers take place today was once home to a brutal regime of torture.

Dark tourism some call it. Though there are also natural wonders such as the many arctic terns that nest in the islands as alternative sights of interests.

So here is one more of the exotic locales we wrote about in the vastness of the Russian federation (previous ones here). Will this inspire you to make the journey there?

Around the world in 245 days!

Heheh… not in 80 days but 3 times as long. Can you even start to imagine the amount of laundry you’d have to do to keep from smelling like the durian fruit? Happy New Year!

Can you stomach being aboard a cruise ship for almost a year? Well, if you have say £67,000 to spare (and that is per person), then this one’s surely one to put on your list… 113 ports in 59 countries. Now if you were looking for some way to increase your ‘how many countries I’ve travelled to’ count, surely this will bump up the score.

If this article (here) pricks your interest, well start saving or borrowing and make your booking. You still have some time…

It has been more than 13 years since we last set foot on a cruise ship – and the small yachts that we’ve been do not count. Eight months is a very long time. Might not be a cruise a single traveller will consider we think, but who knows? Well the comment at the start of the post about laundry wasn’t really a joke. Because the logistics of rotating clothing will be but one of the challenges. Unless one intends to buy and keep changing the OOTD, every day!

But hey!

We’re talking about a grand adventure where more than 50 countries will be touched. Sure is cost a small fortune, but it’s YOLO ain’t it?

PS: alternatively one can seek a job aboard the cruise… perhaps one cannot get off at all ports, but at least a stab at half of them?

Moving House

Heheh… thought we moved huh?

Well no. For this post is not about us moving away from our humble abode (our ‘castle’), but about a couple that has literally done that. Physically that is. Moving THE house, around the states of the US and Canada. Read here for the story. Now granted their little ‘house’ is really like a customized RV, it still brings a different view to the term “moving house’.

Homes.

This word reminds us of the dream that many a red dotter have. To have a portfolio of real estate, or at least a non-government built apartment. They call them ‘upgraders’, graduating from living in government built flats to pricier privately built ones. Not that the ones built by our government are poorly constructed (on the contrary if you have been reading our MRT series), just that it seems to be a status conferring thing…

Anyway.

Living a life of modern nomadism seem to have evolved. Now you can bring along more than just a large backpack with you. Just make sure you have a place to sit your home and voila! We are so tempted… not sure if we’d ever clock that many miles. Sure sounds like a retirement adventure to us. Yeah! Perhaps we will work towards doing that when we have to stop working (or when the work stops for us).

They say a “wo(man)’s home is his/her castle”. Have you been moving castles? Or do you build them in the air?

Of travel scams and losses

What are the most common scams one can encounter when traveling abroad? We are sure you would have heard of more. But there is an interesting infographic in this article that sums it up. Remember we wrote about fake travel websites (here) last year?

Today’s not really about scams.

Some months back, we read about Joy’s experience getting around with luggages in a busy Athenian metro station. It was surely not a happy experience to lose all your money and documents and finding it hard to obtain help in a country which does not speak your language. We are sure some of us had experienced the same frustrations and sense of loss (not just of the money and documents) when this occurs.

And does anyone recall the recent news about Himalayan helicopter rescue insurance fraud?

Isn’t it such a sad state of affairs when there begins to be growing prevalence of petty crime in any travel destination? Perhaps our little red dot is small, and great pains had been put into ensuring that there remains low crime (though not no crime). And not just against tourists but also in general around the country. Because one of the most enjoyable thing about traveling to any place is NOT having a feeling of vulnerability.

But it does not mean that its all hunky dory here. Because there are many scams going around too… yes here! So much that our little red dot actually have an active scam alert site to warn of the schemes out there (https://www.scamalert.sg/). Essentially they advise

  • 别慌 (don’t panic and become vulnerable)
  • 别信 (don’t believe blindly)
  • 别给 (don’t give information freely)

If only there were ways we can emulate Japan, where discipline, honesty and politeness seems to be innate in the people. When can we become like that? Do we aspire to be so?

What is your view?

Can roads heal themselves?

For those who own an automobile, we are sure you’d be most familiar with the cost of paying road taxes that supposedly is used to maintain a fair condition of the very medium that one drives on. But what if these roads suffer a lot of wear and tear like they should and are not well maintained? Of course you might find a pothole or two.

And invariably you might get stuck on a traffic jam when road works take place when the relevant authorities decide to make road surface repairs.

Which is what made this article interesting to us anyway. If you clicked on the link, the title might appear to be incredulous. Imagine using cooking oil to help repair roads! But if one dive deeper into the article, the science appears to make a lot of sense. We hope this nugget piqued your interest to read it for yourself.

But today our post is not just about roads or how it is repaired. It is about the fact that we enjoy road tripping a lot, and that we very often encounter poorly maintained roads in our drives around some parts of the world. And it is only experiencing that did we come to appreciate how well maintained our own road network is on our little red dot. You sometimes need to go see if the grass is really greener on the other side.

So the answer is no. Roads will not heal themselves. But it’s just another ingenious way that has been discovered to potentially make work easier to do so. Good ideas make light work. Don’t you agree?

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?