Free guided tours

You know there quite many posts out there recommending where to go and what to do for free. For the budget traveller, this can be both boon and bane. Why you might ask? Well hear us out.

If one is tight with money while out on a journey, having free guided tours as now common in many cities is definitely a plus. What better way to get to know a place then having a knowledgeable local point you the way? Ask the right questions and that can help you plan the rest of your time in that city better. Obtain tips from the guide in a variety of queries. That, at least on paper is the selling point of getting on such tours.

But what about the opportunity cost of doing so? What do we mean?

You see, what one sees and is shown on these tours depends on the guide. It also means your frame of mind could have been influenced by the tour. Because the explanations may not be fully accurate and if one makes a decision base on that, one might go off tangent. Or is that paranoid thinking?

Have you been on a free guided tour before? Share your thoughts!

The wrong geography

Can you imagine being taught the wrong geography?

In this link, you will find out which famous geographical markers are wrongly positioned. Guess it will be rather hard to move them huh? Imagine standing at the equator, or at least the location that says so anyway… only to find out it was totally wrong! No wonder the water did not circle the opposite way in the WC when you flushed! LOL. We hope you know what we are referring to…

But today our post is not about being in the wrong place.

It is more about how navigation can sometimes be skewed. Did you know that the magnetic pole of the earth has been shifting? Your mechanical compasses that tracks the magnetic pole will thus be affected, making “north” not truly north. You follow? Perhaps that’s why we cannot find Santa’s real home… (maybe it’s here).

Fortunately today we have plenty of satellites up there in geo-stationary orbit. It is these networks of satellites that provide us more accurate positions on our phones and navigation devices. So the magnetic poles’ movement might not be that apparent to you. But think of the migratory fauna. They don’t have GPS devices nor mobile devices and rely on a combination of senses that probably include magnetic fields.

Would that explain why whales beach themselves not knowing it is land that is ahead? Lots of things to ponder over today. Yeah we know it might give you a headache thinking about them all. Perhaps this might inspire you to write something about this too.

Have you been to any wrongly positioned place(s)?

Who are the ‘worst’ tourists?

An interesting write up by Tim Pile here at the SCMP last year. We’ve all read about horror stories relating to bad behavior of tourists from certain nationalities. They come from the North, South, East and Western hemispheres. Basically they can be from anywhere. Did you read Tim’s article in the link? If so, now you know who potentially the worst of them are.

But today our point is not to identify the ‘worst’ tourists by nationality. Rather it is about stereotyping. Certain groups of people are supposedly industrious. Others are good business people often amassing a lot of wealth. Some folks are plain stingy and mean. You see where this is going?

It does not help that media tend to sensationalize news. One black sheep these days appears to taint the entire flock black grey too. Not a fair assessment in our opinion. Live and let live. Why can’t we all just get along? Because we all have our own cultures that would be normal in our part of the globe. We travel to learn about how others live and to appreciate it.

We so often associate specific traits, characteristics, behaviors to groups of people. Labels these are, and oftentimes they are demeaning too. So before we start pointing fingers at anyone else, let’s start from ourselves. Charity begins at home and so does self reflection.

A tough and contentious topic. Any brave soul care to air a view? Or will this become another commentless post?

The Long Journey Q1-18

Just a week back, we welcomed the new year. Today though, we are sharing with you our first newsletter issue for 2018. This is also the tenth and final year in which we will be issuing this quarterly newsletter.

Yes!

It has been almost a decade, and the fourth issue in October this year will mark our 40th newsletter. Wow. And to think it all started because one of you suggested that we ought to bring to life our travels from a time before blogging became the popular platform and IG an obsession for many. Cannot imagine having started this all these years ago and still having some of you as our faithful readers. Many thanks for your support.

So what has been happening recently?

For one thing we’ve survived. The desert that is. Phew! And we have been awed. It was definitely not a journey that we regret and when our journalogs are published you will surely understand. We are talking about our just concluded journey to Jordan and Israel.

Well we hope you had a wonderful December break too and are freshly rested for the start of yet another exciting year. Here’s our latest issue : The Long Journey Q1-2018. Time to get the engines started again as we roll back into a 9-5 mode.

Let’s all make it a good start to the year!

As Presidential as it gets

Have you shaked hands with your country’s President? Do you even know where you country’s Presidential palace is? Ok for those who live under monarchies (albeit constitutional ones), this may not apply and we are not referring to these relics of institutions. Yes you can read from our language that we live the ideals of a republic free from privileges, accorded to people whose forebears hit ours with a club and subjucated them.

No. Indeed it is with pride we can say that it is here in the little red dot where a person with truly humble background can rise to potentially be our first woman President (elections in September). One who started life helping her parents’ pushcart in her youth, during the poverty stricken times of the little red dot in the 1960s eventually rising to become a lawyer and unionist.

Our little island has come a long way. Short perhaps in time span (52 years) but surely long from the perspective of tribulations along the way. Thus it is with great pleasure to share with you how the Presidential palace of our republic looks like – inside.

Did we get to meet Mr Tony Tan President? Nope. Although he did appear later in the day to join in the festivities taking place within the palace. Yep, the palace turns into a playground for the public on the days it is open. Best of all, it is open to all visitors local or foreign (who have to pay though).

While it is not considered an attraction from our perspective, the days it is open will afford the opportunity to see and imagine how the founding fathers of this little island struggled to build an erstwhile miracle on an island with no resources. We enjoyed our day. It was hot and humid in the open grounds but the atmosphere more than made up for it.

What can you experience while at the Palace? Read more here in our Singapore story on the Istana! Have you shaken hands with your head of state before?