Monday, 26 October 2009
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
This morning's bus was dressed up as a cow. A large pair of white horns rose above the roof of the driver's compartment and a tail with a jaunty sweep decorated the rear.
Bus decoration is part of life in Singapore with the desire to get the advertising message out taking many forms, in this case bovine.
On the subject of decorations it is very surprising to see that the Christmas decorations are already going up in Orchard Road and Tanglin Mall is featuring its nativity tableau.
This a full two months before Christmas actually happens; the festive spirit seems to be coming earlier each year.
Reportedly with the big APEC gathering in Singapore next month the decorations have gone up early to make a good impressions for the delegates.
All of their Christmases will have come at once - literally.
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Having cruised on Superstar Leo several years ago our expectations were high. The newer ship did not disappoint. I would strongly recommend going Balcony Class as we did; it may cost a little more but one receives preferential treatment including boarding and disembarkation as well as seating in the Lido Theatre.
The cabin on deck 11 was clean, tidy and comfortable and the service we received from the cabin crew was very good. They consisted in main of stewards and stewardesses from the Philippines and China with a few Korean and Indian staff also in the contingent.
Our fellow passengers came from Asia and Australia. Quite naturally there were a large proportion of Singaporeans many of whom had cruised with Star Cruises more than twenty times.
One matriarch whom we encountered on our Phuket day trip was exceedingly demanding and arrogant. She remained cast like a sari-ed whale in the bus instead of getting down at several of the stops, spoke loudly to her two spinster daughters when the tour guide was attempting to speak to passengers and did not endear herself to her fellow passengers in any way, shape or form.
Food - As with all cruises life consists of endless eating! We had our breakfasts and lunches in Bella Vista restaurant on deck six. The first lunch and dinner we had in this restaurant were excellent and set our expectations for the trip. Unfortunately the Gala night fare at Bella Vista and the subsequent lunches and dinners were not up to the same standard as our first experience; rock-hard profiteroles, less than warm fish dishes did not impress.
The highlight was using up our free $200 credit for food and beverage which one receives as a balcony class member. We chose to have an Italian meal in the Palazzo restaurant which was superb.
Entertainment in the Lido Theatre was of a high standard with the most impressive being the Brazilian dancers and a troupe of Chinese acrobats who performed atop a white grand piano. A classy production all round.
Click on the flipbook to view
Saturday, 10 October 2009
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Sunday, 4 October 2009
We have had two solid tremors felt in various parts of the Republic and all thanks to the major quakes in neighbouring Sumatra, some 530 kilometres away.
Coming as I do from the 'Shaky Isles' of New Zealand I am no stranger to these but the sensation of experiencing an earthquake does not get any more pleasant with age.
We were trained at a very early age to get under a door frame (or failing that a strong table) whenever the ground started to rumble and rock. My Singaporean colleagues however have had no such training, as the look on their faces clearly showed when we experienced the second quake one morning.
Several just sat at their desk with frozen expressions of uncertainty no doubt wondering why I had leapt from my seat and was heading for the nearest door frame.
Suitable door frames are hard to find in Singapore. For a start most buildings are not made with wood and secondly most have partitioned spaces so solid rooms are anything but.
Interestingly given the geology of the country not everyone felt the tremors. The first big Padang 'quake took place without us feeling it in our condo whereas people on the East Coast and Raffles Place felt the full effects and evacuated their buildings.
Another worry must be the reclaimed land upon which a significant part of Singapore is built. Liquefaction is a major destroying force during earthquakes and reclaimed land however well compacted is very prone to this.
The vision of the soon to be launched Integrated Resort (pictured) half submerged would give new meaning to the title of 'Marina Bay Sands'.
I expect through that most new structures have been built to withstand the earthquakes of the strength we might experience here. Fortuitously Singapore does not stand on a major fault line unlike its near neighbour, Indonesia.
It is just a matter of time (and a short time at that by all accounts) that the pent up pressure of the Indian/Australian and Eurasian tectonic plates on the western side of Sumatra will be released in a major 'quake of nine magnitude.
Professor Kerry Sieh of Nanyang University's Earth Observatory has publically stated that the recent quakes are 100 times smaller than the big one when it comes; a less than comforting thought.
Some twenty years ago I saw a map of the faults lines that criss cross New Zealand's capital city Wellington. At the time I raised the question with a colleague "Could an earthquake somewhere else trigger an event in another location"?
"No" was the unequivocal reply, "Such events are very specific to the location".
It would seem now that his analysis was flawed as scientists have recently discovered that the major 2004 earthquake in Sumatra may have weakened the San Andreas fault, 8,000km away in California.
If this is indeed the case being a mere 500 kilometres away from the Big One when it strikes is not that reassuring.
I shall be stocking up on half price moon cakes to tide me over such calamities should they occur in the next fortnight. The Autumn Festival concluded last night and the cakes in question are always heavily discounted after the event.
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Even though this song verse describes Seattle rather than Singapore I had hoped it might apply, but is not to be.
By the time I came to leave work this evening the haze had almost reached the levels we experienced three years ago.
Visibility from our condo window (above) is getting worse by the minute even though the official PSI Index seems to indicate the problem is 'moderate' 53 reading over the 24 hours.
I suspect that the next 24 hours will have a totally different reading and we can taste the smoke in the air. So much for Indonesian cooperation in combating burn-offs!