Monday, 24 March 2008

Flyers & Fish Nibbles

Flyer & Rain

This afternoon saw our staff visit to a new Singapore attraction - the Singapore Flyer. 'Frequent fliers' on such attractions tell me that it compares very favourably with the London Eye.

Not that I will be in a position to judge, as my taste for heights is not what it once was. I now work on the principle of terra firma - the more firma the less terra.

While the others took their thirty minute spin I had a look around the recently opened complex. It's been a huge investment and the engineering is very impressive.

Once my colleagues were safely grounded we spent a pleasant half an hour having our feet nibbled in a rather fishy pedicure. The fish in question being Doctor Fish , or Garra rufa to its friends.

This is one of the latest spa crazes to hit Singapore. At least when someone asks me "What did you do last Monday?" I will be able to reply "I had my feet in a bucket of flesh-eating minnows".

What does it feel like?

Well the sensation is not unpleasant, much like small electrical discharges on the soles of the feet.

Thank goodness they are not attempting this treatment with Piranha.

Postscript: And if you should wonder why I did not go on the Singapore Flyer then please note that within the week of writing the above came the news of hundreds of visitors being stranded in the air on the London Eye!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Taking the Pisang

Hot on the heels of reported cardboard in Chinese steam buns comes the news of hawkers in the neighouring state of Johor Bahru, Malaysia adding plastic straws and bottles into their cooking oil. Supposedly this enhances the crispiness and longevity of their fried bananas - goreng pisang.

"Would madam like some PVC with her order?"

This potentially carcinogenic concoction and others like it are being noted in Malaysian blogs and have been reported in Singapore's New Paper this morning.

It would be wrong to blame the Japanese for starting this trend. Their plastic food presentations are designed solely for presentation purposes with the aim of to luring customers. The practice of plastic food in the restaurant window has since been widely adopted throughout Asia.

Perhaps the Malaysian hawkers in question took the trend of plastic food a little too literally? I think not.

But it does explain, why on a 2007 journey to Genting, we tasted some of the worst ‘chinese food’ I have ever experienced. I think in future I will be doing what other Singaporeans do - stock up on food rations for the journey in Singapore.

So much for the 'plastic fantastic'.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Red Scarves & Neighbourly Developments

Red Scarf - San Francisco Roger Smith

A download of this print is available for private use only. Click Here and follow the instructions. The image is a composite of winter activity in San Francisco.

Matters closer to home

Last evening we watched the outcome of the elections in neighbouring Malaysia and this morning's radio news confirmed a major upset for the ruling party. For the first time in more than 50 years the ruling coalition have lost their absolute, two-thirds majority.

The reason there is such extensive coverage and analysis in Singaporean media is the impact this dominant player has upon the day-to-day lives of Singaporeans. From labour to basic commodities like food and water, much is transhipped from Malaysia.

A stable Malaysia makes Singaporeans sleep a little easier at night and of course the economic inter reliance has a major impact upon both countries. The economic development zones of the former Malaysion government may now not happen, as the government's smaller majority will not allow them to push through their legislation unimpeded.

With the loss of the outright majority of the Barisan Nasional party it will be interesting to observe what this does for foreign investment in Malaysia and for social order. In 1969 following the polls there were riots and a state of emergency declared. One hopes this will not happen this time around.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Poetry 'n Motion

I went Ten Pin bowling at a recent staff outing at the Singapore Recreation Club. As readers will note from the poise demonstrated in the photograph, this was definitely my first attempt at the sport.

In the past I have turned my hand to the more gentile Gallic version of "Boules" (or "Petanque" if you prefer). I bought a set of boules back from New Caledonia in the early 1980's and used to play in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens during lunch break, with colleagues from the then Robert McDougall Art Gallery.

A pre-requisite of boules is a glass or two of red wine and a baguette loaf of bread.
No such cultural enhancements with the US version of bowling. All that is required for bowling is a nifty pair of bowling shoes which one can hire and the ability to heft a large composite plastic ball.

I was not alone in discovering that the selection of too small a bowling ball can mean that one's thumb remains semi-permanently jammed in the finger hole.

Despite all such tricks for beginners I have to say that the outing was a lot of fun. I even managed a respectable score in the second game having 'got my eye in'. Even more pleasing was that the following day I suffered no aches or pains from muscles not used to such exertion.

It was somewhat gratifying to learn that a number of my much younger Singapore colleagues were still suffering from sore limbs three days later!

Saturday, 1 March 2008

You Can Run But You Can't 'Ide

Beware the Ides of March!

So said the soothsayer to Julius Caesar and by my reckoning the 'Ides' remain around the 15th of this month. Today being March 1st therefore promises a good 14 days of normality before the prophecy of doom is made manifest.

The omens are not good however as today's dusk curry (whose virtue I have extolled in the past)at the Asian Civilisation Museum's Indochine restaurant was one tough old bird! Quite disappointing having mingled with the MRT madding crowds as far as Raffles Place just to get to the table overlooking the Singapore River.

While mentioning Indochine, it must be recorded that the service (for that read interest in the customers)was not attentive. To cap the meal off and as we were exiting, I noticed one of the cooks sitting atop a stainless steel food preparation bench. This in full public view as the restaurant has an open kitchen. Just can't get good staff nowadays!

On the subject of "H'iding" there is severe embarrassment all around with the escape of the militant leader of the Singapore Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terror network, one Mas Selamat Kastari. (pictured)

Heads will surely roll (no pun intended) as the gentleman in question was a major threat and had evaded capture on these shores before, eventually being rounded up by Indonesian police and deported to Singapore several years ago.

To have a man with a pronounced limp, and who was meant to be in a high security environment, break out of a toilet and completely disappear is quite staggering (again no pun intended).

While Interpol have issues a world-wide security alert it would seem that he has successfully flown the coop, no doubt to reappear somewhere in Sumatra in the future.

Such security breaches are very rare in Singapore and the Republic prides itself on the security of its citizens. The confidence of these same citizens, if one believes the Straits Times Forum on this subject, has been severely dented and it doesn't help matters having outsiders making snide remarks about the escape.