Are you still country counting?

Yep. Are you?

Because it appears that this still appears to be a oft cited criteria for some folks when it comes to the badges of honour. You know, we do have a certification program that awards you the right to specific title depending on how well travelled you are. How many countries can and will be one of the criteria. More here.

Counting countries.

We wrote about this some time ago (here). Sure we are no Sir Attenborough or the Queen. Certainly we’ve not come anyway near what James did (which is to touch all the sovereign countries on the planet). But is it of any value to compare oneself to the feats that these folks “achieved”? What do you think?

So we postulate. Some might know of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In that theory, it appears that after sufficiently being able to sustain oneself, we humans tend towards altruism of some sort. We begin to seek achievements and recognition. If not in academics, the corporate game, or in this case how well travelled one is?

Our conclusion? It’s perfectly normal to country count. Did you know we also country count? And it is so blatantly presented on this blog site for all to see. Heheh… can you spot it? Wanna hint?

Did Hamburg invent Hamburgers?

We certainly hope this piqued the interest of foodies. Because this is a venus flytrap to draw you to read our little story (here) of being a burgher in the city of Hamburg… for a couple of hours bordering to a night.

So, did they?

We mean : was the iconic hamburger invented in the city of Hamburg?

Well this would really depend on who you ask. For some folks contend that while the inspiration did come from Hamburg, the burger was ‘invented’ in the US. You see, they say that the steak of minced beef with garlic, onions, salt and pepper were presented as the “Hamburg steak” in the 1800s. And it made its way to the Americas, ironically on the ‘Hamburg-Amerika’ shipping line… eventually served between two pieces of bread.

Fact or fiction? We will leave you to do the research and debate the origins.

Today the burger has become basic fare for a lot of people around the world and not just in America. From luxurious creations to simpler diner versions, folks from all over the world tuck into this creation that has simply wandered across the world.

But today we are just reminiscing the times when we were temporary burghers of the city of Hamburg. Nope, we did not turn into pieces of meat. For the word ‘burgher’ in German means something. Do you know what that is?

Curious now to see what we were up to in Hamburg? Read it here! So starts our handprint stories on Germany!

The seductively lying photo

Photography is one art form that truly baffles the mind in many ways. And for readers who are ardent or more professionally inclined photographers, you would know that photos can be taken in many ways to present a mirage.

So this Daily mail article attempts to explain (here) what many of us already know. That some people do go to great lengths and effort to set up that perfect picture. Why? Because it sends a message. We are sure many go gaga over some of the images shared on instagram. They seem so perfect, so incredible. Wish you had been the one who took that photo huh?

Did you think Mel or Suan took the featured photo? Well no. We passed our underwater camera to a diver who got to a suitable depth to capture that shot in Okinawa (here). Heheh… we are being honest here…

But today our post is not just about how photos are constructed. It is about perception. Because like photography, how we live our lives can sometimes be a construct that we want others to see. Even though it may not in reality be the life we actually live. You know what we mean right? We have actually written about how folks who embark on a life of travel (because YOLO) seem to portray such a rosy situation.

Some call it an illusion. Others maintain that it is but a façade. What do you think? Just like how we portray our traveling lives on social media, showing mostly if not entirely the good parts only. Like what we asked as in do we instagram just to collect followers (here), is there a veneer of higher purpose when we do sharing? What purpose does it serve to share in your view?

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.


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!