Road trip to nowhere

In our part of the world, there used to be cruise ships that take their passengers out into the “high seas” and then seemingly follow a circuitous route back to port. Did you know what these passengers were aboard for?


Well, in this part of the world there is a penchant for wager. And with few licensed gambling venues (back in the day), gaming on ships out in international waters was one way. But you know we are not delving into this subject although it can an intriguing area to debate. Rather, it is about the fact that one could simply be on a road trip without a destination.

We wrote sometime back about how some folks are meticulous planners, yet others are more spontaneous (here). It can be ‘hilarious’ when folks of very opposing end of the spectrum come together for a journey…. trust us. Been there, done that. But we managed to emerge stronger which explains why this blog exists with all the constant sharing of photos from travels past.

But we can also be in a journey to nowhere in life too! Would that be what jumped into your mind when you first read the title of the post? SO let’s pause here.

And re-direct the question back to you who is reading this. Have you been on a journey to nowhere before?

Happy 2018!

Although our little red dot won’t be the first to receive the new year (the Chatham islands of NZ does), we are nonetheless part of the hemisphere that spins into 2018 first. We use this word because this blog’s all about spinning little yarns for your reading pleasure. This is also the beginning of the third year of our blog. So we wish ourselves happy blogging day too.

And to you we wish you did not have too much of a hangover from last night.

Last year at this time we sent a post out from the Phoenix hotel on the outskirts of Beijing airport. So apt. The phoenix symbolizes a new beginning, rising from ashes and eventual ascendency in the skies. And so we store and put away 2017 to look forward to the new year.

This year, we shall continue with our handprint stories and share with you the journalogs of our journeys. The quarterly newsletter will be in its final year of publish and shall be discontinued, since we’ve observed that there is too much duplication with the blog. We shall also be starting up regular posts on the MRT stations of our little island + especially the environs around them. A sort of local tourism, unfortunately we are not commissioned by anyone to do so… they can pay us though because we don’t mind. Don’t argue with money – that’s our motto. And keep it comin

Have you made any resolutions to keep for this year? Or do you think resolutions are passé?

Air Milers’ headache

Yeah. Miles, the sort you accumulate as you spend your way in today’s consumerist world. Today our post is drawing from an article we read some months back (heheh told you we schedule forward right?).

You earn them for many possible reasons, but chief amongst them might be the opportunity to swap the miles for a flight or stay at your dream vacation. Well, one of the columnists in our local news publication set out to debate that air-mile owners may find it extremely hard to get use their miles to redeem the flight of your dreams. Well, it depends…

For us, we consider other risks to how you may not be able to fully utilize your hard earned miles. We wrote about air mile mergers (here and here). But that’s not all. We found out a couple of months back that our favorite accumulation programme had changed. Since the end of March, the discount for redeeming online (it was 15%) ceased. In addition, the miles required for redemption of certain sectors were increased…

Maybe redeeming this would be better?

A clear double whammy! No prizes for guessing that the most popular routes had the mileage requirement increased. Sigh. See, this is one more subtle hurdle that has been thrown our way. Raising the bar seems the right thing to do for the airlines or other mile awarding programmes, for if too many can attain the requisite miles then they’d be handing out free flights and hotel stays ‘left and right’, as an expression we use here in the little red dot says…

Perhaps the writer is correct in her observation that it will not be in our favor to get that redemption seat on a very sought after flight – like one or two days before Christmas. Airlines will prioritize revenue generating passengers right? Can we expect them not to?

Do you think its better to just revert to accumulating points and redeem a free ice cream instead? Are you an Air Miler?

Travel may become trickier

News about potential changes to the US visa waiver program first surfaced 4 months ago (read one of them here). You would also recall the ban on electronic devices larger than a handphone on planes flying in from certain countries to the US and UK that was hoisted on travellers without warning though that’s been scaled back..

Now if programs like visa waiver are suspended, it invites tit-for-tat retaliation because emotions run high. At first we thought requirements like ESTA was only for the fees that governments collect… but quite a few other countries (here) have implemented their own.

In addition, many countries around the world are starting to axe manage temporary work visa approvals as well. Thus it may be that much harder to get into Australia in the future to pick fruits… Suddenly, it’s like globalization going in reverse – being rewound but at 2x or 3x speed.

We think this is a harbinger of even more restrictive travel in the future. In the sense it may not mean less people are allowed to criss cross the earth, but rather that it will be much more onerous than it is now. As if we are not already complaining about it! Some day we might have to board airplanes only after passing through security checks wearing nothing but hospital gowns because it makes checking for illegal stuff easier. LOL… hmm… you heard this prediction first at our blog!

Where do you think the future of traveling is headed? A decline or continued unabated growth? Which do you prefer?

Booking via foreign websites

Does booking from an overseas website get you a better deal? This article suggests it may well be possible to get prices that one might not get from sites in your own home country. Ok the article actually referred to a ‘foreign agent’. No. Not the James Bond kind, but the travel agents in the countries you intend to travel to.

Because the article seems to suggest some online portal will be able to bring together the “best” agents in these destinations around the world and facilitate your engagement with them. Seems like we still can’t cut out the middleman! LOL.

Hah! We hear you. This is nothing new!

What we have found though from our own experience is that there are price “discrimination” in the way your bookings are handled, particularly airlines. No we are not referring to bias. It simply means the pricing is tailored to a particular market conditions such as the relative average price of tickets, consumer preference and willingness to pay, market share etc.

And as for local agents to book directly with, we do spend a little more effort in sussing out the ones to use. In the most recent example, we took to Tripadvisor (no bias here) to search out reviews of day trip tours from Bangkok Ayutthaya. With thousands of reviews, the ratings did helped us zoom in to Pary Happy Tour. It helped us fulfill the intent of using local guides rather than local corporates too! And we have to admit it was a great choice (patting ourselves on the back now).

Do you book through a local agent in your homebase? Or is it all DIY for you? What do you think about booking direct with agents in the destinations? Have you done so?

Bespoked travel plans

We’ve written about boutique airlines (here), and we’ve shown how the really wealthy purchase what would be considered out-of-this world experiences (here). For folks with busy lives that leave them little or no time to develop their own travel itineraries, perhaps intermediaries can still be the answer.

Now even plebians such as we can craft unique travel journeys that might erstwhile be the domain of the wealthy. We came across this website after reading Thrillist, and by no means are we in any way linked with them.

Just that this is yet evidence that travel has become mundane.

Yep. We know this is a sweeping assertion. But hear us out.

Try this as an experiment. Type “Paris” into the search field of wordpress. Do you see how many posts come up? While they all may be unique and individual experiences, does this not make one ponder about how common a trip to Paris is these days? Add to the folks on other social media outlets and the ones who don’t (ie social media hermits), there is an incredulous amount of sharings and pictures out there!

Just as we wrote about in naughty cruise journey, people are increasing looking for customized ways to experience travel. Perhaps this is the reason why we see the rise of the ‘Travelers’ – ie folks who want to ‘live’ like a local where they travel too?

What do you look for when you travel? Do you travel with a purpose?