My Instinctive Judgment Theory: Strangers, Instincts & Relationships

There is something particularly special about the fact that wherever we go, regardless of the nationality of people we see around us, we always kind of know who to trust in an instant–by looking at their faces, the way they act, what they hold, what they do, even if we don’t hear them speak. Perhaps, I’m referring to what we usually call instinct. When travelling alone waiting for the boarding gates to open in an airport for instance, we scan the waiting area before settling in a vacant seat. Apart from being vacant, we also look for the area where we find people we feel we can trust most. Without talking to them, we kind of already know we’re relatively safer sitting closer to them than others.

This morning, on my solo flight to Manila, I realised how this strange subconscious thinking process works. A tall guy wearing sunglasses, a cap and a hoodie sat on the benches directly facing mine and watched me the whole time I was eating my McDonald’s takeaway. I thought it a bit odd but judged it normal enough not to create panic or move to another seat. Besides, I was surrounded by others I would generally trust (again, by my instinct’s judgment). And then right before boarding, when I was standing up to proceed to the gate, he suddenly came to me (I didn’t see from where cause he was not on the seat in front of me the last time I glanced that way) and said “Excuse me, which province are you from?” I turned my face and said “Sorry”. He repeated the question and I answered “sorry” one more time. He said “What? Why? Don’t you understand what I’m saying?” I said, “No, I’m sorry I’m not from the province.” I was completely standing up by this time with my backpack securely on my shoulders. He said, “Oh, where are you from then?” I said “I’m not from the province, I’m from the city.” I was already walking away while talking. And then he asked, “Which one?” and I walked hurriedly passed behind him and said “I’m sorry.”

The whole time inside my head, I was just telling myself “Do not speak to strangers. Do not speak to strangers.” And I didn’t look back, I hurried to the gates where I was caught up in the queue when I heard two old ladies talking from behind me, they were asking each other if they were supposed to queue or wait since they’ll be seated on the sixth row. I said, “They said rows 30 up should fall in line first but I think you should be fine. They’d probably let you in anyway.” We started chatting then and up till we boarded the plane. I even nicely said goodbye when they took their front row seats.

While I was walking to my seat towards the back of the plane, I realised they asked me some more personal questions than the tall guy actually did but I comfortably answered all of them. They also shared some information about themselves and I learned that they are US citizens who travelled to Sydney and now off to Manila for vacation with two other friends who were in wheelchairs and therefore, will have to board last. I wasn’t the only one too trusting, they also were, considering the vulnerability of their pack. They were really lovely, reminded me of my late grandmother who raised me up from childhood.

I don’t think what they were wearing were fancier clothes than the tall guy. They probably even hold the same type of passport and came from the same country. In the 21st century for a woman my age, who would turn away from a rich-rapper-looking guy to talk to some old grannies?

But our instincts just know who to trust. Is that being bad, perhaps judgmental? If one is travelling alone, is  being selective with who you talk to considered bad? Is being rude justified? How do we know when to be friendly and when to be on our guards?

I could probably do some analysing here— think of all possible factors affecting our instantaneous level of trust, draft a model and then run the regression after collecting data from a good number of sample. It would be an interesting economic research paper. And then we’ll see which factor has the strongest correlation to our trust level of a stranger. But I can only do this with some data—a survey; questionnaires, interviews of some random people of different backgrounds who have travelled alone. More interestingly, I could explore deeper and try to find out which instinctive judgments made have been strongly, directly proportional to the actual personality of the strangers judged—this one would require more than a  survey but a full experiment. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to do either of these. So I’ll just resort to trusting my instinct and common sense being particularly careful in situations like this.

In any case, my guess is that the results of such study will show that a person’s instinctive judgment would prove to increase reliability in direct proportion with age. I’m saying the younger we are, the more likely we are to misjudge people. There may be outliers of course, the influencing factor being experiences with people and how much one’s seen the world in general. That being said, I could probably conclude my research saying a person’s level of maturity, shaped by his/her experiences in life would show the strongest correlation value between his/her instinctive judgment  of and the actual facts about a stranger.

This would incidentally explain how unwise our relationship choices were when we were younger and how many wrong choices we’ve taken when it comes to love. But then again, once the right level of maturity is reached, our instinctive judgment of a person improves. By this time, we may have already trained our instincts well and have increased the precision of its judgments and their correlation value with the truth. We probably would look less on the person’s physical appearance and begin to see right through him/her at the first word he/she utters.

A lot of us, young people rely on what we’ve heard somewhere that once you see the person who’s the one for you, it would only take a moment. You’ll just know he or she is the one the first time you meet him/her. That probably may be overly romanticising it. I think it’s true for some but more rationally put, they get caught up in that one right moment the first time they meet the other person because they talked and they found out that they just click and they end up being actually right for each other. These are the ones who have probably met when they’re level of maturity and instinct’s training were ripe and ready. So when their subconscious told their conscious mind “Yes, this person seems to be perfect for me and I can entrust him/her with my vulnerable side,”  this instinctive judgment was as close to reality as possible that the risk of being wrong is negligible. They would then interpret this as falling in-love. The subconscious and its instinctive judgment, we then refer to as “our hearts”. Thus, we say the heart knows when it’s found its home. Although, thinking about it—the subconscious gets inputs uploaded to the brain by the conscious, so the two are still connected. So it’s actually our mind through this process, not our hearts, that “fall in-love”.

Yet for some people, love-at-first-sight is not the case. They are those who have long known each other for a long time but never quite realised any sooner that they were a good match and that they can live and make each other happy for a lifetime. These people would seem matured from the outside but remains unaware that their instincts’ training have not been enough. So they have often misjudged the one that is actually perfect for them as being just one of the other strangers—just like everybody else. It would take some time; and for others, some heartbreaks; before their instincts come to full maturity enough to see that the once-friend-zoned is actually the ONE.

And then there are those who grow old in age, face too many heartbreaks, make the same instinctive misjudgments again and again and still keep their instincts immature—keep spitting out the same kind of misjudgments leading them in cycles. I would like to believe that there is nothing in their conscious mind that wills this, everybody wants his/her own piece of happiness. I think there are just too many factors messing up with the subconscious that the natural process of maturity of the instinct and growth of that subconscious superpower to see through people is halted and this disorder goes on for an uncertain length of time. Sadly, some grow old and die never fixing such disorder, living with a malfunctioning instinctive judgment all their lives. But then there are a few lucky ones of this type who find someone with matured instincts, who can tell that the person are their match even as they can see exactly how messed up he/she is. These people get the chance not all people can experience in their lifetimes—to sort out another person who has a malfunctioning subconscious and a persistent inability to mature and see beyond strangers and people. We all have the ability to help repair another person with such disorder, but not everyone gets to try his/her hand on it. These cases usually make for the most unique and dramatic love stories.

Of course, these are all just theories inside my head with no way of me proving them at the moment. I’m just sorting out my judgments of people inside my head, wondering whether I am writing this with a matured instinct or not. You of course, dear reader, are free to hold on to the  most famous theory of falling in-love, finding the one and experiencing magic in moments.

It’s not of much use to ponder on this for now. In the meantime, I’m sleeping in the plane just about now and will publish this as the first WordPress post I’ll ever do from my hometown in a few more hours.


With all the “love” from 41,000 miles above the ground,
Featured photo from Airport Love Sport Retailer TV Commercial Ad as seen in youtube


My Taste of Australia

a guest post by twinbutterfly of Confessions of a Food Tourist

Here in Australia, we always say (at the risk of sounding cliché) that we are indeed a blessed country. I am certainly no expert, but I personally find Australian cuisine really quite difficult to define because it’s such an intricate fusion of all the cultures that have called this wonderful country home since day dot. These days, we have the opportunity to take our pick from an endless array of cuisines when dining out, or looking for something different to whip up at home for dinner.

For me personally, the ultimate Australian food experience is enjoying a really delicious meal that is made from locally-sourced produce that comes with a stunning view of the local countryside.

One of my favourite places in the world is right here in the south west corner of WA – Margaret River. Boasting of a stunning location nestled between jarrah and karri forests and a beautiful coastline, it’s one of Australia’s premium wine producing regions. And where there’s good wine, there is bound to be good food!

I’ve lost count of all the wonderful experiences I’ve had in Margaret River – or “Margs”, as it’s more affectionately known – so it’s almost impossible to narrow it down to just one or two; as a result, I’ve put together my Top Five, in no particular order (because that would be almost as cruel as forcing a parent to single out their favourite child). While these highlights are inspired by my own treasured experiences in Margaret River, I’m sure they can easily represent many of Australia’s other amazing wine and ‘food bowl’ regions, too. In a perfect world, I would love the opportunity to travel through all of them Paddock to Plate or Destination Flavour-style. Unfortunately though, I don’t have the credibility of a celebrity chef like Matt Moran or Adam Liaw. Nonetheless, here’s my list of Top Five Margs Foodie Faves:

1. The Classic “Tasting Plate”

This option is a blessing for an indecisive Gemini like me, who often finds it very hard to choose just one dish when there are an abundance of tempting items on the menu. When done correctly, tasting plates are also an ideal way to sample the best of the region’s seasonal harvest and locally-crafted products: from olive oil, cheese, fruit and veg to meat and seafood. Beer drinkers can even opt for a tasting paddle at the local craft and micro-breweries!

I have enjoyed many fabulous tasting plates in Margs – in my opinion, the best ones are shared with a friend or loved one (to avoid any possible food envy), and served with a glass (or two) of local wine.

The "Tasting Plate"

2. Indulgent 3-course Local Winery Lunch

About five or so years ago for a ‘significant’ birthday gift, a group of friends pitched in to buy me a voucher for a private chauffeur-driven wine tour in Margaret River (they know me SO well). While being chauffeured to several good winery cellar doors for tastings (and a “bit” of purchasing), the tour included lunch at Flutes Restaurant at the Brookland Valley winery estate. I wasn’t sure what I should be expecting. A tasting plate with a glass of wine perhaps? That of course would have been perfectly acceptable, but what transpired was actually more breathtaking.

The setting was simply spectacular. We were on an open deck overlooking a large lake surrounded by vineyards in one direction, and forest in the other. Being a weekday, the restaurant wasn’t particularly busy (either that or I was so involved in what was going on at our table to notice we may have been the only ones there), so all you could hear were birds singing, and the occasional quack from the ducks swimming on the lake.

Yes, we had a tasting plate – but this was just the entrée: a charcuterie platter of delicious morsels such as pork rillettes, chorizo, duck and pâté.

Up next was the main course – a tender lamb shank served on a bed of couscous infused with exotic spices, capers, olives and tomatoes. One look at the sheer size of the dish made my stomach shrink in fear; however, my tastebuds managed to convince it to take on the hefty task of devouring the lamb (the velvety Cabernet Merlot helped as well). I’ll admit, I couldn’t finish it, but I gave it a good ol’ Aussie go!

Before you could say “I couldn’t possibly eat another crumb”, it was time for dessert – a trio of petite sweet treats. This time it wasn’t a shared platter (although that would have been the safest/most logical option) – we were given one each. The groans of borderline discomfort quickly turned to sighs of pleasure when we battled all resistance and bravely picked up our spoons to try the tiramisu, vanilla bean panna cotta with berries, and a chocolaty slab of chocolaty chocolate mud cake drizzled with chocolaty chocolate syrup and double cream. Did I mention the chocolate?

All that was left to do was be practically carried back to our hotel (through one more winery just because we could), lie back and digest what had just happened (physically and metaphorically).

Winery at Margaret River

3. Self-contained Domestic Bliss

The great thing about a place like Margaret River is the sheer variety of accommodation choices – you can choose to stay in a hotel right in the centre of town, or venture further out to anything from a quaint Bed & Breakfast or farm-stay, to an all-inclusive luxury resort. Alternatively, you can select from an endless array of self-contained apartments and cabins either close to town, by the beach, or nestled within a forest setting. Anything goes.

Having travelled to Margs a number of times, I’ve been lucky enough to have tried a bit of everything. Personally, I find that self-contained accommodation is the way to go as it generally allows for more space, more privacy, and more freedom of choice. For example, if you want to drive into town for a meal, you can; if you’re too tired (or squiffy*) from a full day of wine tasting, you can choose to have a quiet night in and whip something up in the kitchen, even if it’s just a languidly-constructed board of cheese, crackers and dip! Or – as my friends and I did on an indulgent girls’ weekend a couple of years ago – start the day with a bang and fuel up on a hearty homemade breakfast…before a full day of wine tasting (is anyone noticing a pattern here?)

There is something so much more pleasurable about cooking while you’re on holidays than doing so at home, although my Other Half and I tend to stick to the same basic formula on a short break – barbeque one night, and if there happens to be any leftovers, use them as topping for a home-made pizza another night.

Domestic Bliss

As an added bonus, a lot of self-contained accommodation in Margaret River makes the most of either one of its settings: its idyllic forest, vineyard, gently sloping countryside or the beach. Some of my favourite moments in life have been relaxing on a deck with my morning coffee enjoying the tranquillity of the natural habitat with nothing but the sound of birdsong and a gentle breeze to keep me company. The super lucky ones may even spot a kangaroo (or two)!

*squiffy – tipsy/warm and fuzzy/not quite there yet, but definitely on the way to getting a little drunkity-drunk

4. The Cellar Door

The best part about staying in a memorable place is having the opportunity to take a small piece of it home with you so you can continue to enjoy it long after the journey itself has ended.

A cellar door offers much more than just the opportunity to sample a few wines – they add to the overall experience. Many wineries have a country-style charm about them, or are simply jaw-droppingly beautiful, begging to be explored. And in most cases, there’ll be an infinitely interesting history behind them.

I’m by no means a connoisseur of wine (in fact, very far from it), but I do enjoy the explanations and recommendations provided by the cellar door staff as you boldly make your way from sparkling through white and rose to red, and – if you dare – heady fortified wines (I’m one of the fortunate ones who aren’t particularly fussy when it comes to wine – possibly my trade-off for not being able to drink beer, if only by choice). The secret is to take your time and enjoy the moment. And if the obnoxious wine tour groups sharing the space start getting a little too demanding and raucous, step back and browse through the assortment of wine accessories, books and giftware on offer; or explore the picturesque grounds until it’s time for them to depart for their next stop (all the while secretly hoping it isn’t where you were planning on visiting afterwards). If the winery has a café…bonus!

The Cellar

Although my Other Half begs to differ, I am certainly not the souvenir-junkie I was in my late teens and early twenties. These days I rely on my camera to help capture and preserve my memories (that, and thanks to my former addiction, I couldn’t possibly fit another branded shot glass into my cabinet, or magnet on my fridge if I tried); if anything, I may pick up an inspiring recipe or coffee-table-style photography book capturing the essence of the region. Oh, and maybe just a few bottles of vino… 😉

Cellar doors are not just restricted to wines – in Margaret River there are all kinds of options for exploring tastes of the region: beer, cheese and yoghurt, chocolate, coffee, fudge, olive oil, venison, nougat, fruit, jams and preserves, cider, lollies/candies, and ice cream just to name a few!

What a treat it is to take a little piece of Margs heaven back home – each time you fill a glass, break off a piece, or top a cracker or piece of bread, you’re instantly transported back (if only for a moment), allowing you to enjoy “the trip that was” just a little bit longer.

The Cellar Bottles

It’s a bittersweet day in my house though, when we get to the end of our bounty (‘cellaring’ is not something we do very well). It’s almost as if we’re bidding our blissful break farewell all over again. On the other hand, it can only mean it’s time to start planning the next trip!

5. The Berry Farm

Located about fifteen minutes’ drive from the town centre, The Berry Farm is the one place I never fail to revisit every time I stay in Margaret River. After a pleasant drive winding through tree-lined roads, vineyards and lush green pastures, the first stop must be the Cottage Café and Gardens. Whether it’s for a quick cuppa to start the day, something sweet for morning tea (they are particularly renowned for their Boysenberry Pie and Scones with jam and cream), or perhaps a more substantial meal for lunch, you are in for an absolute treat!

Not only is everything on their seasonal menu fresh and delicious, the historic building with its jarrah interior and wide patio oozes comfort and country hospitality. The surrounding picturesque cottage gardens teeming with local birdlife add a magical touch no matter what time of year you choose to visit. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself sharing your pots of jam and cream with New Holland honeyeaters and silvereyes.

Berry Farm Food

(By the way, if I appear to be gushing, I make no apologies – this place deserves to be gushed about!)

The next step is to take a stroll through the lovely cottage gardens that surround the café – there is always something pretty in bloom, regardless of the season. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a Splendid Fairy-wren (the name says it all)! On the way in (or out), you may notice the interesting array of ‘lawnmowers’ that graze below the vines and fruit bushes near the property’s entrance – geese, chickens, emus, I’ve even spotted a peacock!

The Berry Farm Garden

Of course, no visit to the Berry Farm is complete without checking out their amazing Cellar Door to sample (and purchase) from their extensive range of gourmet products including homemade jams, preserves, pickles, sauces, fruit wines, liqueurs, and – my personal favourite – their Club House Series of fortified wines. I never leave without at least two bottles of Boysenberry Port (No. 3) to take home and enjoy as a perfect nightcap with a square or two of dark chocolate…or warm brownies.

I’ve been fortunate to visit the Berry Farm at different times of year. While the menu and gardens change with the seasons, the eternal charm, beauty and indulgent treats on offer ensure I always leave with a big smile and happy tummy. And that goes for all of Margaret River as well!

Margs Collage (twinbutterfly)

I must extend my sincere gratitude to the lovely Care for this exciting opportunity to be a guest ‘juicer’ on her beautiful blog. I’ve been a big fan of Flavored Lemons since we ‘met’ at the beginning of the year via a Blogging101 course, and I have to admit I’m a bit nervous that my rather bombastic, impulsive style of writing may seem a little out of place here. In any case, this really was a fun, challenging experience. Thank you, Care!

All photos featured in this post are owned with all rights reserved to the guest blogger, twinbutterfly of