The Road(s) To Singapore

I travelled by air to Singapore. But what if one wanted to go from Europe by car?

Path between Wetzikon and SingaporeRecently a number of us trundled off to Singapore to attend the 100th Internet Engineering Task Force meeting, during which we shared our ideas on how to improve the Internet.  But precisely how did we all get there?  Why, by plane of course!  In the case of yours truly, I went from Switzerland by way of Bangalore, India.  These are long flights: the short haul from Bangalore was four hours and twenty minutes.  The non-stop return flight was just over twelve hours, thanks to favorable winds.

But what if you wanted to drive?  After all, instead of flying from San Francisco to Las Vegas, I drove; and I very much enjoyed the scenery.  What would it take to get all the way to Singapore by car?  Is it even possible?  A little check on the map shows that it should theoretically be possible to travel the distance by land, with the occasional bridge crossing here and there.  How would one even begin to plan such a trip?  Well, for me it would be with everyone’s favorite navigation tool: Google Maps.  We start there.

Google Maps Singapore

There’s that inviting “Directions” button.  If I just click it, I’m hoping that it will show me a few alternative routes, and a driving time.  Of course it will indicate the tolls and the fact that we are crossing borders.



No route to host


Unfortunately, the invitation was quickly rescinded.




What’s the problem?  Well, like a good computer scientist I began to bisect the route to see if I could determine where Google thought there was no route.  I figured, ok let’s see if I can get to India from Switzerland.  I got the same answer.

But when I asked if I could get to Lahore, things began to improve.    That would be an eighty six hour route, covering 7,734 kilometers.  There’s only one problem: it would take me straight through the heart of Iran, and I very much doubt I could get a transit visa for this purpose.  But now at least we have a route to Lahore.  A little dragging and dropping in Google Maps shows that with a mere six hour detour, one can go over the Black and Caspian seas, instead of under them, as such:

Wetzikon to Lahore, up and over


Well, very good!  We’ve gotten ourselves half way there.  To do so, we travel through Germany, Czechia, Poland, The Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, UzbekistanAfghanistan, and finally into Pakistan.  Right about now, Iran is beginning to sound pretty good, by the way.  An airplane more so.  Consider this little factoid: the route takes us through Eastern Ukraine which right now is not exactly being friendly with the rest of the country.

It turns out that one can in fact cross the Pakistan/India border with a car at Lahore if one has all the right paperwork.  One enters by the city of Amristar.  Now let’s see if we can get from Amristar to Singapore.  Surely enough, one can!

Amristar to Singapore

That’s another 105 hours or 6,404 kilometers.  One travels across India, avoiding both Bangladesh and Bhutan.  While it is probably possible to drive into Bangladesh, Bhutan is virtually impossible to enter without serious amounts of paperwork.  Of course, this whole trip would require serious amounts of paperwork, but Bhutan would require its own stack.  One can do this because the Indian states of Assam and Manipur juts quite far to the east.

For those keeping score, this route is just under 14,000 kilometers, and would take, if driven straight, ignoring traffic (hah!), about 200 hours.  That would be about 25 days, if one limits one’s driving  to eight hours per day.  The route changes based on which citizenship one holds, to be sure.  Many countries would require visas, and car permits.  One challenge that one has to consider is that this is the most direct route, according to Google Maps.  That doesn’t mean it’s the easiest route.  For one thing, many of the directions themselves, are written out by Google in the local script.  For the Ukraine, that means Cyrillic.  For Myanmar, that’s Burmese.  Of course, this says nothing of the languages themselves, nor whether anyone would accept Mastercard.  Hotels?  There may be inns along the route.  Google is pretty good at spotting these and (perhaps more importantly) gas stations.

Having performed the exercise, I think it would be fun to do parts of this route.  In particular, traveling in north-western India and into Myanmar seems interesting.  I wonder what Hertz would say.  Apart from the collision damage waver, and all other insurance, I’m pretty sure I’d want a very simple vehicle that could be easily repaired and could handle varying qualities of gasoline.  An old Range Rover with an extra tank might be a good deal.  Probably not the trip to take a Tesla.

To play around with this route, have a look at the  Google map.  Be sure to expand out the directions.  Note the occasional U-Turn one is required to make.

Some final geographical points: this trip, while long, roughly follows the great circle route, and so it’s fairly optimal, from a distance standpoint.  It is also probably the farthest south one can travel from Europe or Asia without taking a ferry.  Assuming one can travel it at all.  With ferries, it may be possible to get as far as Timur, but I haven’t checked that.

The Move: After

And now for the new house.


That’s the front door with a stack of wood on the left.  Yes, we have a fireplace.  I’m not that much into wood fires, because they tend to add too many particulates into the air, but Christine likes a good fire.   I figure we’ll have one or two per season, but we’ll see.




Here’s Christine i the dining room (it’s one large great room).  It’s nice and sunny.  We’re a bit close in to our neighbors, but as it happens, they all have kids the same age as ours, so we’ll view this as a good thing.

We have a small yard with two gardens.  We’ll probably reduce that down to one.  Yes, I’ve had to mow the lawn already.


Yes, we were motivated to unpack the wine.  We were a bit crazy and actually had a holiday booked before we found this house.  So the order of execution was:

  1. Pack nearly everything
  2. Go on holiday for two weeks
  3. Return on a Sunday morning
  4. Finish packing
  5. Close on the house on Monday
  6. Move on Tuesday & Wednesday
  7. Drink on Thursday



Amidst everything we have a sauna in the new place.  As it turns out, neither Christine or I like saunas, and so we have to decide what to do with this.  Suggestions welcome.

Oddly it’s in the utility room, but you really don’t notice that factoid from inside.  It does explain why the utility room has a shower.

One other little feature of this house that we DO like is that it has geothermal heating.  A pump takes water down and up a large pipe that was drilled deep into the ground.  No oil, and electricity and the fireplace as a backup.  That’s pretty cool.

And so there you have it.  For now…

Microsoft Does Something Right?!?!

You know how when you install software, usually there’s a lengthy license that nobody ever reads?  Don’t lie- you don’t read it either. Apple and iPhones are the worst, where they suggest that you read something like 56 pages of license on your iPhone.  YEAH RIGHT.

Well, I just installed an update for Mac Office 2011 and here is the entire license:

PLEASE NOTE: Microsoft Corporation (or based on where you live, one of its affiliates) licenses this supplement to you. You may use it with each validly licensed copy of Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 software (for which this supplement is applicable) (the “software”). You may not use the supplement if you do not have a license for the software. The license terms for the software apply to your use of this supplement. Microsoft provides support services for the supplement as described at

That’s it.  And it’s simple to read, and its meaning is clear.  Nice, eh?  Of course I’m sure the main agreement is still very long (I don’t know– I didn’t have to agree to that since this is a corporate copy, lawyers probably did).

Recipe: Morroccan Lamb with Shiraz Honey Sauce

I was SO getting into a rut with food for the last few weeks, and so I got to thinking: how about Moroccan? After all, those of us who know the Bay Area probably have eaten at Marrakesh in San Francisco, and they (at least used to) have some wonderful dishes, like this one.

This is a recipe right off of  I like that web site because many of the dishes are easy to prepare.  I am no chef.  I am barely a cook.  It took me no more than 40 minutes start to finish to cook up this little gem.  The catch is making sure you start with the right ingredients, and not to fuss about frenching the lamb rack.  (Wow that sounds obscene, anyway.  How do butchers come up with these terms?)

It’s a nice change of pace, and something easily made at home.  Just brush your teeth afterward!

Steve Jobs: You get a timeout

The scene at the Jobs house this week:

Steve (played by a 6 year old boy): Hmm..  the reception on my iPhone 4 sucks.  So let’s just cover it up with a software update.

Consumers Report (played by Mommy): Steve, your iPhone 4 isn’t receiving properly.  And I caught you trying to cover it up.  That will be a time out.

S: But MOM! RIM isn’t receiving well, and Motorolla isn’t receiving well.

C: That may be so, Steve, but we are talking about you and not your friends.

S: But Mom!

C: Don’t but mom me. First you caused a problem for a vast number of consumers, and then you tried to cover it up.  The least you can do is apologize, and try to make up for it.

S: Ok, here’s this phone condom.  That will certainly make up for the waste of hundreds of dollars per consumer.

C: Steve!  Go sit in the naughty chair.  You may stand up and go play with the other children when you apologize and really mean it.

Interestingly, when polled unscientifically by the Wall St. Journal, parents in Steve’s community are equally divided over whether he behaved well.  What kind of parents are those who accept such behavior?