Sunday, 13 July 2008

If you have never heard pure 'Singlish' as it is spoken

Sunday In The Pool

two falcons circling
on thermals high
high still higher
above the thirty eighth floor

lying on my back
in a languid blue pool
ripple light bursts tiled and fountains spouting
watching the opening in the heavens

a gentle wind rustles
in the bougainvillea
its spindly vines with colour splashes
climbing towards the sun

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Feeling Drained

I have a predilection for using blade razors. Not that I aware of any 'Sweeney Todd' genes in the family pool, it is a case of a smooth chin as opposed to a machined stubble.

This preference has given rise to rather an interesting scientific phenomenon; a sludge problem in basin pipes. Caused in the main I suspect, by the copious quantities of shaving gel I use in any given month.

So it has been quite noticeable in recent weeks that water in the aforementioned basin was taking ever increasing lengths of time to drain away.

In our condo drainage pipes are not of a large diameter and clearly some remedial action was needed.

There were two choices. The first would have involved an arduous deliberations with a Singaporean plumber. It is noticeable that these tradesmen can never give an accurate time of arrival - usually the indicate somewhere "between 9 am and 6pm". This means that one is held captive in the home waiting at their pleasure.

The second choice and the one we adopted was to use a 'liquid plumber'. A bottle of this mix was purchased on special from the latest supermarket.

Fortuitously I was at work when my wife chose to experiment with the concoction. Having emptied half the contents down the sink hole she stood back and watched it bubble and foam as it went to work. Far more entertaining than the local fare on Singapore television.

The instruction said leave this brew to bubble away for an hour and flush away with warm water. I confess I half expected to get a call to say that the plastic waste pipe had dissolved due to a chemical reaction but fortunately no such calamity transpired.

The stuff actually works!

Buoyed by this success "she that must be obeyed" has returned to the supermarket and bought several more bottles. We will have the cleanest drains in all of Queenstown of that I am sure.

The product below was not the one we used but the same principle applies.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Plans For National Day

The weekend of August 9th provides a rare holiday opportunity given that it in encompasses Singapore's National Day.

As we are planning a trip to Angkor Wat in Cambodia later in the year we thought a couple of days away might be all wished to do in August.

Given the spiralling costs of travel with everyone except Singapore's few remaining trishaws adding a fuel surcharge, the options are not that great.

Younger Singaporean colleagues love to travel to Bangkok but having been there before, it doesn't appeal all that much and my wife had a very unpleasant experience with food poisoning on her one and only trip into Thailand many years ago.

I recall also being laid low with the Thai equivalent of "Delhi Belly" as I was half way up the steps of one of the many Wats in the Thai capital - not an experience either of us are keen to repeat and the traffic congestion in Bangkok, once experienced is never forgotten.

With all of the above in mind we opted for a two day cruise aboard the Star Cruises Superstar Aquarius. Some great deals are currently advertised in the papers so yesterday we went down to Star HQ in Singapore, Park Mall.

Alas, the dawning of the age of "Aquarius" is not to be. The two day cruise on the Friday and Saturday night was booked out. Why we asked do they not indicate this fact in their advertising? This would save a lot of time and bother for nothing. Naturally we got no straight answer.

So it was that we got back on a bus and headed to a travel agent in Chinatown that we had used before when we booked a previous journey to the Malaysian Highlands.

We have decided this time to travel on the overnight bus to the Genting Holidays and then stay another two days in the First World Hotel. The bracing zephyrs of highland air will be a welcome respite from the June/July hot season of Singapore.

One just has to hope that the deteriorating political situation in Malaysia doesn't put a dampener on proceedings or for that matter that the bus does not catch fire or run off the road as it descends from the resort - which seems to happen with increasing frequency if one believes the local press reports.

Meanwhile the National Day bunting has gone up at the front and back gates of our condo and Singaporean flags are reappearing on the HDB balconies.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Singapore Poem

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Heroic Pork & Pig Knuckles

The story of the Hero Porker attracted my interest earlier this week. This was an account of a large pig that was buried in the recent Sichuan earthquake but somehow managed to emerge alive after thirty six days trapped beneath the rubble.

So it was with just a twinge of guilt that I got stuck into a large roast pig knuckle with lashing of mash potato while lunching at The White Dog Cafe in Vivo City.

We enjoy this eatery for its $10.80 set lunch and for its eclectic mix of western and eastern cuisine. Best of all is the view out to Sentosa Island and watching the Temple of Mammon (i.e. the Sentosa Integrated Resort/casino) take shape.

There is more than a touch of motor mania in Singapore at the moment as the city builds towards the hosting of Formula One's first night race later in the year.

On display in Vivo City was a racing car sponsored by MediaCorp and it had the rapt attention of youngsters lining up to try out the drivers seat. Some (as in the photograph) were perhaps a little young to fully appreciate what was happening.

Anyone who has been involved with motorsport will tell you it is the sound of high speed cars and the smell of the high octane fuel that makes the sport so addictive.

At an early stage of my life even I joined a central North Island car club in New Zealand and was the proud owner of a modified purple Mini Cooper. But those days are long past and the thought of watching an seemingly endless procession of cars career around a track at night hold little interest for me.

The roar of engines however stays with me. One good reason that it does so is that for the past two Saturday evenings, just on dusk, the aerobatic team from the Singapore Air Forces go through their paces as they practice for the forthcoming National Day Parade, early in August.

These jet aircraft in synchronisation are truly a magnificent team and the rate of climb into the evening sky is wondrous to behold. All of this is viewable from the sanctity of our condominium lounge.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Butane Bungles

There is a push to integrate so-called 'citizen journalism' in to the local Singaporean media. This means in practice that daily rags such as My Paper have a section called Ground Zero where miscreants are exposed.

Today's riveting entry was the discovery of a broken cigarette lighter in a bowl of fish head curry. No doubt a different interpretation of the culinary flambé process.

When the patrons said something like "waiter there's a lighter in my soup" the response they received from the proprietor was terse. He is reported as saying that he would cover any medical bills should his patrons require treatment after consuming his curry.

Very generous I must say. Given the cost of medical treatment here it could turn out to be the most expensive dish of fish head curry ever.

Continuing on the subject of seafood, Ground Zero's next story covers some enteprising Singaporean merchant who is apparently using his local car park to sun dry ikan bilis.

Ikan bilis for those of you who are not familiar with the name are the small anchovies that are much beloved in Malaysian cuisine. They have a pungent odour when drying but not as pervasive as the small dried shrimps that are used for Malaysian sambal.

According to the experts when buying a catty of ikan bilas one should look them in the eye. The best quality ikan bilis will have bright blue colored eyes according to the pundits. Given their size when processed I don't think I will bother. They all taste good to me and are the perfect condiment to a good nasi lemak.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

That Sinking Feeling

In excited tones the reporter on last night's Channel News Asia informed us that traffic had been mysteriously stopped in the area of Marina Boulevard.

A clearly nervous and reticent foreman in a hard hat did his best to avoid answering any questions, even at one point attempting to hide his identity by pulling the brim of his hard hat over his face.

After several seconds of muffled response the hat in question was pushed back to its original position but the answers were no more forthcoming.

Was an event of great national significance unfolding before our eyes? Perchance a threat to national security?

The answer was far more mundane. There had been a subsidence in the road and it appears to be related to the construction of an underground tunnel at an adjacent construction site.

As a result, Marina Boulevard was closed for six hours while inspectors evaluated the situation and determined there was no lasting danger.

I mention all of this because such incidences appear to be an increasing occurrence in Singapore. The underworld of the Republic is becoming a rabbit warren of underground pedestrian walkways, MRT lines and utility tunnels.

Add to this the vibration of the manyfold construction sites and the fact that much of Singapore does not sit on bedrock and it is therefore not surprising that such events occur.

The resulting blockage to road traffic occurred on the same day as government agencies announced a further hike in ERP charges. These increases are an attempt to dissuade the use of motor vehicles in the central city areas at peak periods. The charges are levied electronically as a car passes under an ERP gantry and every vehicle carries a digital box and cash card from which the sum is subtracted.

This miracle of technology appears to to be having some effect in curbing motor vehicle use and enhancing the value of public transport.

As the ERP rates climb, Singaporean motorists are also experiencing that sinking feeling.