Pack rafting. Heard of it yet?

We too were a little dumbfounded when we first came across this term. Rafting we are very familiar with. Pack rafting? Now you have heard about aqueducts right? The structures that the Romans are credited with constructing to transport water to their cities. So that the fountains can sing and the taps never stop grinning.

Heheh. Well not so drama (Singlish) but something close. Not anywhere close to the feature image though…

Some months back, we read this article in the SCMP (here) introducing folks to the adventures of paddling a raft on an aqueduct in northern Wales. Ah you might say! The Romans did not build such structures in Wales. And you will be right. For the Pontcysyllte was constructed in 1805.

While we shall not steal the thunder from the original article by paraphrasing on this post, what we can say is that at 38m above ground, it is definitely not for the faint of heart where height is concerned. But if we were ever to be in the vicinity, we will surely be signing on to raft along the aqueduct and share with you our experience. When we get back to Wales of course!

If you get to Wales, will this be one of the adventures you embark on?

Home of the voyagers

The 15th century was an exciting time. At least from a nautical perspective. During the past centuries, control of the Mediterranean had fallen into the hands of the Ottomans and their allies. As a result, the trade of exotic goods that were in demand in Europe was in jeopardy.

It wasn’t any better with Venice and the other Italian maritime republics in control of the trade either. So folks begun to look for way to sail to the promised riches of India, where one would find the spices and desired goods. Thus the great voyages were commissioned and launched.

Nowhere was this more active than in Portugal, where there was even princely involvement (Henry the navigator). You see, with Portugal’s location in the far west of the Iberian peninsula, it made perfect sense as a base to set off on an exploratory trek around the coast of northwest Africa.

Anyway.

Our voyage was far simpler, a coach trip overland to and from Spain through Lisbon (here). It was not a very long stay, since it was a group tour. So this was but a quick dip of the feet into the water so to speak. Enough to spark desire to return just to examine the city in much more detail.

What would you recommend for us to see and do in Lisbon if there were 3 days?

Touching the tip of Borneo

Did you know that after Australia and Greenland, Borneo is the third largest island in the world. Today it is part of three countries, mostly Indonesia and Malaysia with a sliver of Brunei tucked in between. Alright that’s not a very good geogrpahical description we know, but it’s a summary.

Eventhough it is so near to the little red dot, you might be surprised that it is hardly a travel destination considered by red dotters. But that might also have something to do with promotion. For we hardly see any shape, sign or form of advertising highlighting the allure of a visit to Borneo.

Well this can thus be said to be a fortunate thing for Mel, for he made one journey to the north of Borneo way back. Way way back.

Joining a new company is always exciting. The energy spewing out of excitement in learning new things in a new job role, interacting and getting to know new colleagues from around the region (and world) – is high. As a young man, this was the start of something he would never had imagined. That it would eventually take him places. Far far away from home, for long time.

Where in Borneo was he? Find out here! For not only did he spent time getting to know his colleagues (and boss at that time), he also got to know a lot about nature too. You can say he got bitten by both the travel bug and the nature bug at the same time.

Have you been to Borneo? Will this post inspire you to look it up eventhough it is not advertised?

Would you take a cruise again?

After reading and looking at the pictures in this article anyway. For those who have read the old man and the sea, the story tells of the tribulations of an aging fisherman’s struggle to bring an 18 feet long Marlin back to shore. It inspires in us thoughts about humankind’s relentless attempts to overcome the oceans to no avail.

But today our post is not about that.

We want to dive into the subject of cruising as opposed to journeying on land. And this came up because one of Mel’s colleagues recently went on a cruise around Japan instead of getting around it (on land of course). You see, it went like this :

“Hey Mel you travel in Japan a lot right?”

“Yeah, we love it! We normally take a train out and pick up a car”

“Wow that’s a lot of work to drive around to see a few places”

“True. But you know the feel of the open road”

“Cruising could be a better option. Don’t change hotels everyday”

“Yeah. Getting to the places is often the journey in itself”

“Nah. We’ll stick with a cruise. It’s easier”

Obviously there were more to that conversation – such as the cost of rent & drive, food & lodgings etc. Navigating the roads and getting there, wherever ‘there’ means. It is definitely true that the cruise would take a swipe at solving most of these considerations. We accept that. BUT.

It means for us that the choice of a cruise will mean folks enjoy the coast of Japan more than the country itself. If the intent was to see and know a little more of the country, then this would defeat that purpose. Otherwise, why not?

Have you experience rough seas while out there in the oceans? Will you choose a cruise around Japan over a drive within it?

Clear Blue Waters

Did you know that the Dugong and the Manatee are relatives? And being separated by thousands of miles of ocean and living in very different environments, they have diverged in evolution too with the most obvious being the tail.

But today we are not diving into an anatomical treatise. Rather, we want to share with you our journey experiences of being on the tip of Palawan. No. Not the beach on Sentosa here in the little red dot in case you are wondering. Because clear blue waters aren’t what you’d find there.

We are referring to the island of Palawan just off the main archipelago that is the Philippines. Like an extended arm swaying to the side of a person, the island projects well into the west Philippines sea. And it is gorgeous, the waters that is. We spent quite a few days out in an idyllic location that was truly ‘off the grid’. We only hope it has continued to be so.

Swimming in the ocean, “hunting” for Dugongs was one of the expeditions we joined in. The idea was to “shoot” these magnificent creatures and capture them for posterity in our digital library. Alright it is also true we weren’t ON Palawan. Rather, we were on an island off the tip of it. But if this already what one can get here think about what more one can see further down the remote part of Palawan! Ok, let’s get to the essay (here) and start gawking at the photos!

Don’t need to go too far away, there is an alternative right in our little red dot’s ‘backyard’. Does this inspire you to make plans to Palawan?

Cruising the polar regions

Well climate change is probably here. Set aside the arguments for a while. The ice is melting faster and earlier in the polar regions. And nowhere is that more evident than the arctic where more shipping activity has been taking place of late.

If the article here is to be taken as a reference, it would appear that the waters of the arctic is likely to see regular cruising by tourists and transport of cargo within the next few years. You know, there had already been container ships making that journey to test out how much time is saved to transport goods between Asia and Europe.

It is known that arctic ice reaches its minimum every September. And using that as a benchmark measurements have concluded that the amount of ice remaining has declined by 13% over a period of 30 years measured from 1980. And it seems to be a trend too. Might not be too far into the future that low lying regions of the world start to see the effects of the sea swamping over them. Coastlines will change and some places will be lost forever. Seafront real estate owners beware! Heheh.

We know this will cause concerns and heartaches to some. And it pains us too. Unfortunately climate change is here to stay it appears. Whether the activities of humankind is the main cause is no longer the debate to us. Because instead of pointing fingers it is time to do something. Climate change may open up a new travel routes, but it comes with a price.

What will you do about it?