Local Heart, Global Soul

October 18, 2012

The Best Laid Schemes o’ Mice an’ Men…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You are leafing through the pages of my travel diary of earlier this year. We are in Singapore and had grand plans for today,  but as Robert Burns well knew,  the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley    (often go awry)**.

We should have been going off to Indonesia later today on an extended side trip, and  to this end our Singaporean friend “Velvetine” had been busy finding out about all the best possible places to see, what to do, where to stay etc.

All was well until she was confronted with the problem of visas. Indonesia is a ex-Dutch colony and it’s made fairly easy for most nationalities to visit, but apparently not if you are Dutch.

They are perfectly free to enter the country of course but first they are made to jump through hoops, their visa process is longer, costlier and more complicated.

There’s no problem for me or the kids because our dual nationality means we can park our Dutch passports in our pockets and switch to our  New Zealand Passports to enter Indonesia  and Velvetine has of course a Singaporean passport, but Himself has the Dutch nationality only and getting him into Indonesia today looks neigh on impossible.

Of course this is supposed to be totally unrelated to the fact that Indonesia is an ex-Dutch colony and of course there is no bias  “officially”. We try to make some phone calls and see what’s possible, and everything is possible, just not very easily in the time frame we need.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are fully prepared though to do a little running around when Kiwi Daughter comes back from  a walk outside complaining of a stomach ache.

This is a common complaint for her and usually means she’s overtired and hasn’t been drinking enough water.

My foot swelled up rather dramatically on the flight (simply because I couldn’t elevate whilst we were in transit) and the swelling hasn’t reduced much yet so I’m laying on the bed with the phone,  trying to sort things with my foot in the air via almost every pillow available.

We take stock of the situation and decide that trying to rush around getting Himself’s visa in order  is only going to get stressful and we can’t ignore the physical signs that we probably haven’t done enough to shake off the jet-lag.

We are on the phone to Velvetine and jointly decide that a change of plan is needed.  No far flung adventures today. Instead, more rest is required and we can look for something different for tomorrow. Indonesia is better planned for another time when Himself can come fully prepared for the visa drama and when I’m back walking normally again.

Instead, Kiwi Daughter drinks a lot of water and then curls up next to me and we both sleep soundly for a few hours whilst the boys go swim in the  pool and play sandcastles further down the beach.  Kiwi Daughter wakes up later feeling totally refreshed and  the swelling in my foot is even a bit less.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We spend the day lazing around and the whole family feels better for it.

We voted earlier in the day to return to our favourite restaurant  “Trapizza”just down the beach and Velvetine will join us after she finishes work.

The kids start a small argument about who gets to sit on my knee  if we get to take the beach wheelchair again… they both plead exhaustion and say they really can’t walk there. The beach wheelchair was brilliant within the grounds of the hotel, but the car park at the bottom of the hill has some tall curbs which are difficult to negotiate so  I have a better idea.

There’s a large golf-cart like vehicle parked outside the hotel, I ask at reception if  it’s possible to be given a lift to the restaurant and back, no problem at all… our carriage awaits. After our meal all we need to do is to give an indication when we need transport back and they will send someone down again to collect us.

I order Pizza to share with the kids, Velvetine orders the Ravioli al Salsa di Noci (mushroom ravioli and sage tossed with walnut butter sauce) and Himself goes for the Spaghetti (I think it was “Aglio Olio”, a spaghetti with garlic, basil, olive oil, chilli and parmesan cheese).

For both the verdict was the same, very tasty but miniscule portions. Even in this heat Himself wants more than the tiny amount of pasts that barely cover the bottom of the plate. Oh well… it’s a definite “yes” for dessert then.

After dinner our “taxi” comes to  retrieve us and once the kids are in bed and sleeping, with the assistance of some helpful staff at Reception and some telephone calls we plot revised adventures for tomorrow.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

** From Robert Burns’ poem To a Mouse, 1786. It tells of how he, while ploughing a field, upturned a mouse’s nest. The resulting poem is an apology to the mouse: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_a_Mouse. The saying has now come to mean that even the most carefully prepared plans can go wrong.

October 17, 2012

Arriving In the Stillness of the Very Early Morning…

Filed under: Life,photography,Singapore,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

There’s nothing like being out and about very early in the morning… it’s doesn’t really matter where you are in the world:  there is a distinctly different atmosphere that pervades even the busiest city at 6.00 or 7.00 a.m. in the morning that completely disappears by 8.00 a.m. when the volume on the hum of traffic rises, the number of vehicles swells and depending on the place and the time of the year, the sun has risen.

We landed around 6.00 a.m. in the morning and even with a long walk through the terminal and the usual necessities of clearing customs and baggage retrieval,  it’s quiet enough at this hour that we are already getting into a taxi  45  minutes later.

The sky may have looked bright and sunny when I looked out of the aeroplane window, but on the ground it’s definitely looking darker as the sun peeps over the horizon and through the trees.

There’s something special about sunshine in the very early morning,  the rays emit a softer eerie glow that  is peaceful and exudes a sense of calm which only lasts for a short while …

…it’s the stillness before the full intensity bursts out and the pace of life and brightness switch to full volume, full colour, full strength and full on.

The trees are in silhouette  as the sun shines through them,  ideal subjects for my “interesting tree for possible sketching” file and later the soft light of the morning sun glistens on the Marina Bay Sands,  the Singapore Flyer and the Botanical Gardens as we glide by on the motorway.

Probably you think I’m mad… but in my defence the Dutch are famous for their obsession with light, so my artistic soul must be simply following it’s destiny imprinted on my DNA.  (…or maybe not, but I’ll blame my DNA anyway so that you don’t think I’ve lost my marbles).

It’s  wasted on the kids, they are both cuddled up in the back seat sleeping, time zones and jet-lag having gotten the better of them within minutes of getting into the car.

The photos I took from the plane and the one here were all taken in a sequence of say two hours… and yet the light in all of them is so vastly different. We live in a fascinating world.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 16, 2012

Fasten Your Seatbelts, We are About to Land in a New Adventure…

Filed under: photography,Places and Sights,Singapore,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If  I get the choice I like the window seat when we fly: I especially like  it camera in hand,  taking off or coming into land somewhere (in daylight) as these are the exciting bits of  flying that mean you are stepping into the next phase of your adventure.

Ok, truth be known I could do without all the hanging around at airports, the queues at check in,  the lines at passport control,  the opening bags and removing laptops and nebulizers for the security checks, getting to the gate, waiting at the gate and actual boarding…these are the boring bits, but necessary too.

Then I remember that my Father emigrated to New Zealand by ship and his one-way journey took six weeks via the “quick route” of the Panama Canal, so  it just goes to show how impatient people have become (well, maybe not you, but I’m guilty)  and how we take the speed of travel today so very much for granted.

On this trip we get to come into land in Singapore very early in the morning and although there is some hazy cloud at first whilst we are still about 40 minutes out from the airport, it quickly clears over Indonesia as we descend and I can start looking at the aerial views of Indonesia by the window.

I can’t move too much because Little Mr. has fallen asleep and whilst still in a semi upright position is leaving heavily on me.

Since he sometimes gets bad ear pain during aeroplane descents I’m trying not to wake him. Also a wheelchair will be waiting for me at the gate,  the system is  that we get to be  first on when boarding the plane but will be last off… so we aren’t going to be in any rush after we land anyway.

I know better than to try and fight Little Mr’s biological clock that, still on New Zealand time is telling him that it’s one or two in the morning, so the longer he sleeps now the better.

The plane gets gradually descends and just a few of the many islands of Indonesia that are closest to Singapore come into view… we see coastlines, islands,  inlets and bays with everything from fishing vessels, industrial areas, farms and what might be appartments, to jungle. Do I see mining?  Who knows.

Suddenly a familiar ribbon of ships appears,  more ships than I can count and you can easily see that far away on the horizon the number of them only increases… that’s the direction of Singapore harbour, one of the busiest ports in the world.

Then the tip of Singapore itself comes into view,  a less busy corner of the island with manicured golf courses and lots of green spaces… and then all at once the end of the runway appears… Trays have been returned to the upright position, (kid almost too), seatbelts are on and we are coming in to land…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 15, 2012

Stoking Up for New Adventures…

Filed under: photography,Singapore — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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We are back at Singapore’s Rasa Sentosa Hotel on Sentosa Island. We flew out from Christchurch  New Zealand in the morning, the flight took nine hours and 50 minutes (tail wind , so not bad at all!) and Singapore has roughly a 6 hour time difference with New Zealand, so the first item on the agenda after getting to the hotel is a shower and a decent sleep to try and shake off the worst of the jet-lag. Now we are hungry and it’s time to start the day with yet another fabulous breakfast before setting out on another day of adventures… yum!!!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 14, 2012

Back in the Tropics Again…

Filed under: photography,Singapore — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,

We are back in Singapore… tropical temperatures, a big city, sky scraping buildings and  any construction work we see consists of building up, not tearing down:  a stark contrast  from the scenes we’ve left behind in Christchurch. We love Singapore, it’s always fresh looking and green with the tropical trees along the highway. It’s great to be back. Let’s take a look around…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 30, 2012

A Post Office that Moves with Those On the Move…

Filed under: Funny,Places and Sights,Singapore,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You know I like quirky things…

…and it doesn’t get any better then when Whimsy meets Practical and you wish you’d see something like this in every airport you visited.

This is a small post office van… not the delivery type of van but like a really little post office, where you can get a parcel weighed, buy stamps, post a letter etc.

Since I had written a small stack of postcards in Singapore but forgotten to buy the stamps I needed to post them, this little vehicle was a very welcome sight because it saved me from having to carry the cards around and then post them in New Zealand later.

The van parks up in various parts of the various Changi terminals so that  people who want to  post the cards or letters they wrote whilst waiting for their flight don’t have to go hunting for the terminals post office. Knowing how big these terminals are,  that  could involve some serious walking.

There’s even a post-box on the front…  into which my now stamped postcards were eventually dispatched ….Brilliant!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 29, 2012

Relaxing the Rules to Survive Long-Haul Travel with Kids…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We arranged to check in as early as possible so that we could organise a seat with the necessary leg room for me for the trip to New Zealand.

Consequently we have quite a lot of time to kill before the flight boards and the kids are not wanting to be cooped up in the special waiting lounge for the next amost 3 three hours.

They are also starting to moan about being hungry so we head out in search of somewhere to eat. The signs direct us to a food court and after a small hunt to find a lift so that I can get up there in the wheelchair, we find a convienient spot.

The kids have request chicken nuggets, which are normally not an option I’d be wanting them to have, but I’ve long since learned that when travelling long-haul with kids it’s wise to relax the normal rules and be as flexible as possible so that you can make time-zone transitions and long flights as bearable as possible.

The Kiwidutch kids are well aware that as soon as the holiday is over it I will be doing my best to catch up their missed vegetable intake, and compensate for the sweets and less than healthy food they have been enjoying too much as we travel, or that they stuff themselves with when visiting friends and relatives who have tins full of freshly home-made baking.

It all tastes amazingly wonderful I know, but excess has a due date and in the meantime our children have been quick to learn to milk the travel leniency for all that it is worth, so chicken nuggets are ordered with a grin on their part and with resignation on mine.

Himself goes for fried rice and I get a schnitzel and some spring rolls to share. It’s not healthy but tastes good and fills a gap…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 28, 2012

Changi Airport, Ensuring a Smooth Take-Off…

Filed under: photography,Places and Sights,Singapore,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s time for us to leave Singapore and head onwards to New Zealand.

There is a time delay on my blog because I’m busy on the hop, thngs to do, places to see, long flights to make etc …so these photos were taken just before Christmas in December 2011.
Today I’m taking you though just a tiny section of Singapore’s Changi Airport. The airport consists of three terminals, comected by a skytrain.

Each of the terminals are massive and I could never manage any part of them in my current state of immobility so we have arranged wheelchair assistance which starts at the check-in desk and will deliver us right to the door of the plane.

So far so good. We arrive early at the check-in desk and luckily it’s quiet so our check in baggage is sorted in no time at all.

Not only is the airport massive but Changi’s Christmas decorations are too… a Merlion, a zepplin and Tour Eiffel are amongst the many different things scooted past on our way to a special waiting area that is a little tucked out of sight from the rest of the airport .
From what I can make out this waiting area is only for wheel chair passengers (or people who need assistance for one reason or another) and unaccompanied minors.
For all it’s vastness I actually like Changi Aiport, it’s easy to negotiate and there are lots of spaces where they hold exhibits, displays etc. Some of the displays are interactive and others are not (but clearly the kids would have liked them to have been,judging by the amount of interest in the Angry Birds  exhibit ). Here’s a quick tour…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 27, 2012

Trapizza and the History that Brings Me Back Here…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Pizza and I have never been best of friends. I remember only too well my mother’s home-made efforts.. the toppings were ok enough but the pizza bottoms were thick and doughy.

Everyone else in the family seemed to love it like that and I was the only one sitting glumly at the table trying to think of ways to get out of the labourous task of wading though a pizza base twice as thick as  the thumbs that held the pieces.

From then on I avoided pizza whenever possible, and considered myself a confirmed non-pizza eater. If there had been a club with a life membership to not eat pizza I would have signed up.

Then, whilst touring “small town America” with Himself before the kids were born, we arrived late in a small place called Belle in Missouri and the one and only place open so late in the evening was a small pizza place.

I frowned and wasn’t extatic about the idea but it was the only place open for miles and we were really hungry so I steeled myself for the first pizza experience of my adult life and took a table with no enthusiasm whatsoever.

Himself made the order at the desk and I contemplated just eating garlic bread and nothing else. To my disappointment garlic bread wasn’t on their menu, or they were sold out of it, so pizza it was going to have to be.

Our pizza’s were duely delivered to us and my eyes opened in wonder… a thin crust, a wonderfully thin crust and topping to die for… bad pizza memories were being extinguished with every mouthful.

The lady who ran the pizzeria was called Arlene W. and she collected Coca Cola memerobilia. Himself had some coasters back home in the Netherlands that he’d found in a box load of stuff he’s been given from someone and he asked for Arlene’s address so that he could send them to her.

We duely sent them once we were home and she replied to say Thank You and thus began a tradition where we wrote once a year exchanging Christmas Cards. Arline’s handwriting was always a challenge to read and over the years it got less steady and even harder to read but we kept up with news and looked forward to the card that bore the USA stamp and Missouri postcode each Christmas.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We learned over the years that her smiling husband had passed away, that she left the pizzeria business and her health was deteriating. Two years ago, after some 15 Christmase’s we received no reply to the card and letter we sent out, and we are now left wondering if she is just no longer capable of writing or of she too has passed away.

Either way we have very fond memories of Arlene and wish her rest and peace. I’ve tried pizza here in NL since that trip but not one of them have come even close to exciting my tastebuds as Arlene’s did so my pizza experiences remain few and far between.

Since Arlene W.  is the one who made me brave enough to order a pizza here at Siloso beach, I owe her too for the discovery of my second favoutite pizza place (considering how rarely I eat pizza, looking forward to one somewhere is saying something).

Here at Trapizza Restaurant on Sentosa’s Siloso beach I have again found a pizza that turned all my misconceptions about pizza on their head. Wafer thin crusts cooked in a piping hot pizza oven has left me with a new appreciation of how brilliant pizza can be, even enough to turn the head of a seemingly confirmed pizza hater.

Our trips to Singapore would no longer be complete without a meal here at Trapizza.

I’ve made blog posts on this place before and no doubt will again in the future… and why not, when this place cooks a pizza that I adore and nowhere at home in the Netherlands even comes close? .. but love as I do their Pizza’s, all kudos goes to Arlene in Belle Missouri for changing my relationship with Pizza forever.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I even get to try and take photos whilst being wheeled home by Himself. What more does a girl need? (answer: lessons in how to take night photos if you saw all the out of focus ones I deleted)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 26, 2012

Dune Buggy to the Rescue!

Filed under: Funny,Kids and Family,photography,Singapore,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We return to Sentosa Island after the Duck Tour and Himself and the kids head straight for the swimming pool whilst I take a nap.

Later in the afternoon they return to the room complaining that they are hungry and urge me to get out of bed and dressed so that we can all go out and eat.

Himself remembered that our favourite Pizza restaurant “Trappizza” on Siloso Beach is now open again after the Zoukout event and we all are eager to go there.

There is just one small problem: beach + hill + crutches are not a good combination. The hill we can get around (partly) with the lifts but I would still have to negotiate the pool area, a carpark and then the beach itself.

The hotel does have a normal style wheelchair for me to use when I need, and that’s been helpful, but it would be too hard to manage one of those on sand.

The solution comes from an unexpected quarter: Himself and the kids have made friends with one of the Lifeguards at the the pool… The lifegards name is Joseph and he’s been super helpful.

Himself mentioned to Jospeh that it’s a shame that we won’t be able to make it down to the beach for our favourite pizza and Jospeph starts to grin… “Please wait here” he says, walking down a path at the back of the pools…

…and he returns a short while later with a most excellent mode of transport to take me to Siloso Beach.

My “transport” arrives at the patio door of our hotel room with Kiwi Daughter and Little Mr.  on board,  grinning their faces off and with  small bevy of envious children from the pool area in tow.

My carriage awaits, Himself takes over as chief  dune-buggy pusher and we happily head off for pizza.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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