Local Heart, Global Soul

January 4, 2017

The Battle Of Dessert: We Get The Message…

Filed under: FOOD,PHOTOGRAPHY,Rasa Sentosa,Rasa Sentosa Food,SINGAPORE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Back in December of 2013, family Kiwidutch stayed in Singapore on a stopover visit before flying on to New Zealand.

Himself and our Singaporean friend “Velvetine” made a day trip to Pulau Ubin Island whilst the kids and I rested at the hotel.

Staying here regularly as repeat guests, and the kids impressing the lifeguards with their swimming skills, we are now on first name terms with several of the hotel lifeguards,  especially Joseph who remember us well from previous visits.

Joseph is the man who helped organised some very special transport on an earlier trip so that I could go out for dinner on the beach with the rest of the family:  Dune Buggy to the Rescue!

After Himself and Velvetine got back from their trip, and rested a while whilst telling us all about their day,  Himself then disappeared into the shower and we all got ready for a nice dinner in the Rasa Sentosa restaurant.

We laughed at the sign that advised guests to be aware the floors were slippery,  whilst a tropical downpour deluged the terrace the sign was on. We were all entertained by the pea hens before heading to the restaurant too.

Our kids adore the buffet arrangement here, but Little Mr appeared to be a little confused about the order of the menu and was not amused when we said that his main course may not consist of items solely from the desert section.

He managed to keep a self-served icecream because it seemed a waste to just let it melt on the plate, but the marshmallows and cookies were removed until he had eaten some pasta and cucumber , but even those were a few spoonful’s at best. As the saying goes, this kid “lives on the smell of an oily rag”.

Eventually he settled on (of all things) buttered toast (really kid?) I know I know, as far as our kids eating habits are concerned Himself and I constantly feel like we lost the battle. The roast pork, seafood, vegetables, salad, rice, soups… so many other things to choose from, all rejected. Frustrated that he could not instantly get his own way, Little Mr got hold of a handful of small biscuits / crackers that were in the shape of alphabet letters and arranged them into a “You may get it and now” message whilst he demolished his toast.

Yes, he ate rather a lot of the unwanted biscuit/ cracker letters too… oh well, we were all jet lagged and sometimes with kids you have to pick your battles. Kiwi Daughter did better, trying bok choy and eating fruit before also heading off to the desert section with a grin. marshmallows on sticks would be dipped into a chocolate fountain or a few other sauces, Little Mr presented me with a “flower” made out of the marks on the plate from his left over chocolate sauce. Sadly, typical kid, the marshmallows were not part of the gift. We all enjoyed the band, who we also know from previous visits and Kiwi Daughter delighted over the creme brulees in their tiny little dishes.  Rested and refreshed it was then time to head on to New Zealand.

(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)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

January 3, 2017

The Tortoise And The Care…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,Pulau Ubin Island,SINGAPORE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

For my last installment about Pulau Ubin Island, Himself tells me that he and Velvetine got tired of walking so decided to hire some bicycles.

Most of the tracks are unsealed so this was easier going, at least for my Dutch husband who is completely used to cycling.

There were however rather a few jokes from Himself, and from me later, about  how our Singaporean friend’s derriere would be faring after this adventure since she is not a regular cyclist.

During their bike ride our friend “Velvetine” spied a tortoise that had gotten entangled in a fence, and not being people to leave a creature in distress, they carefully managed to help it to get free.

Once it was clear that the tortoise was only entangled and not actually injured in any way, Velvetine decided that it needed to be set free somewhere where there was no risk of getting snared again.

A suitable spot was found a short distance away, the tortoise making the trip in the basket of  Velvetine’s hired bicycle. After that the bike ride was without incident, just beautiful scenery.
Wikipedia tells me that “ The Singapore Government’s development projects on the island in the last few years have been controversial and debate has been able to find its way through government-controlled media.

Their main ideas is that the East West Line could be extended to Pulau Ubin from Pasir Ris. Although the government has highlighted the area for future development, the island is unlikely to be urbanised because many foreign tourists visit Ubin and it has become a tourist attraction.

Though recent government action has been limited to widening the paths for bicycles, building shelters for trekkers and other facilities for the growing number of visitors, it is already discreetly changing the face and nature of Pulau Ubin from untouched to planned, and paving the way for further developments. The future of the island is in the hands of Singapore Government, which may postpone its development in order to concentrate on re-developing existing space on Singapore island and nearby Pulau Tekong.

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

For now, Pulau Ubin is a haven as a former rural way of life will most likely disappear with its last “kampung” generation passing.

There are a few tarmac roads on Pulau Ubin but most roads are gravel. There are a number of minibuses, jeeps and motorbikes on the island, all bearing PU (for Pulau Ubin) numbered plates.

Although the locals try to keep the island un-urbanized, they need some small boosts of money to support them. On the island there are currently conservation projects for the Oriental pied hornbill,  monitoring of identified populations of seahorse (Hippocampus kuda) and pipefish (Syngnathoides biaculeatus).

One of the current popular tourist attractions on the island is Chek Jawa. A former coral reef 5000 years ago, Chek Jawa can be said to be virtually unspoilt, with a variety of marine wildlife comparable to other islands, such as sea hares, sea squirts, octopuses, starfishes, sand dollars, fishes, sponges, cuttlefishes and nudibranches. 

Ketam Mountain Bike Park which was built in 2007. The trail is approximately 8 kilometers long and features a wide range of terrain ranging from open meadows to thick jungle. There are numerous steep but short climbs and descents. The trail is well-marked with signs indicating the difficulty level of each section.

The rental price for bicycles range anywhere from S$2.00 to S$20.00 (for the entire day) depending on the condition of the bike, number of gears etc. People can also bring their own bikes to the island to ride.
 Getting here from the main island of Singapore  can be done via a 10-minute bumboat ride from the Changi Point Ferry Terminal (previously known as the Changi Village jetty). In 2015 the one-way ticket price was  S$3.00 per passenger.

Every bumboat can carry 12 passengers and the captain will wait till his boat has reached the maximum capacity before leaving. People who do not want to wait can pay S$36.00 for the whole bumboat and leave without waiting.”

After their walk and bike ride and before leaving Pulau Ubin, Himself and Velvetine decided to have lunch. I’m allergic to shellfish so it’s not often that Himself has someone to enjoy some with. Needless to say both of them enjoyed their slippery delights and afterwards made their way back to the hustle and bustle of mainland Singapore on one of the bumboats. I have been indebted to Velvetine for taking far more photographs than Himself ever would have done, it’s enabled those of us who weren’t able to go to enjoy the trip at least via through the photograph album.

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Note the PU number plates on the vehicles… probably the rarest number plate series in Singapore.

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Velvetine tells is that these floating communities on the water in front of the Singapore high rise skyline are Pulau Ubin fish farms…

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Wikipedia: Palau Ubin

 

 

 

January 2, 2017

The Urbanisation And Desolation Of Pulau Ubin…

Filed under: Architectural Detail,ART,PHOTOGRAPHY,Pulau Ubin Island,SINGAPORE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

The island of Pulau Ubin, just off the north east coast of Singapore is today largely uninhabited, but some of the  former buildings remain.

Our Singaporean friend “Velvetine” tells me that the building in her first photograph is a wash room, and that another of the buildings they came across has a quirky history.

Apparently built by a Scotsman who hankered after home, it was demanded that it be built in the Scottish style of the place of his birth, right down to the inclusion of fireplaces in the rooms.

It makes me wonder what the local builders must have thought when the concept of an open hearth fireplace was explained to them, especially since they were standing in a place where daytime temperatures are usually at least 33 centigrade (91.4 F) and nighttime temps around 29C (84.2 F).

Indeed, our Singaporean friend said that during the winter when the temperature falls to 25C (77F) the number one topic of conversation of the day is always how cold it is or complaints about suffering from the cold, comparing pullovers and sweaters.

That said everything is relative of course. When Velvetine visited us in the Netherlands I laughed at how lightweight her pullovers actually were, she was very nervous about how she would handle the cold  during our summer but luckily our part of Europe had a mini heatwave at the exact time she visited and she was completely at home in the 30C temperatures.

Wikipedia tells us: “In the 1880s, a number of Malays from the Kallang River area were said to have moved to the island thus began the thriving Malay community on the island.

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Many of the former kampongs on Pulau Ubin were either named after the first person who settled in the kampong or by some feature in the area. Kampong Leman was named by Leman; Kampong Cik Jawa by a Singaporean named Jaw and Kampong Jelutong from people from Changi and from its jelutong trees.

During the 1950s and 1970s, there were 2,000 people living on the island and the Bin Kiang School was established in 1952 for the increasing number of children. Lessons prior to this were conducted on the village wayang stage.

With a student population that once numbered 400, enrolment fell as the Singapore mainland developed. The school closed in 1985, and was demolished on 2 April 2000. There was also a private Malay school around 1956 at Kampung Melayu, which closed in the late 1970s.

Pulau Ubin was found to be suitable for the construction of several campsites. Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) was established in 1967 , National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) opened its 25-hectare site camp located between Kampung Bahru and Kampung Noordin. 

Camp Resilience is where Secondary 2 and 3 NPCC cadets have a 3-day 2 night stay for training. Secondary 2 NPCC cadets go to Adventure Training Camp (ATC) while Secondary 3 NPCC cadets go to Survival Training Camp.
On 3 June 2005, in the wake of the avian influenza the Singapore Government ordered that all the farmers rearing poultry on the island were to ship them to mainland Singapore and rear them in government-approved farms by 17 June 2005. 

In exchange, the local inhabitants were offered HDB government housing packages, although they could choose to live on the island.

Today, there are only a few people living on the island and Pulau Ubin is one of the few areas in Singapore that is largely free from urban development, preserved from urban development, concrete buildings and tarmac roads.

Pulau Ubin’s wooden house villages , wooden jetties, relaxed inhabitants, rich and preserved wildlife, abandoned quarries and plantations, and untouched nature make it the last witness of the old kampong Singapore that existed before modern industrial times and large-scale urban development.”

Himself attested that this non-developed style also extended to things like the lavatories: no “western” style loos, just the squat style ones where you are presented with two footprints to guide you where to put your feet and a hole in the middle, he laughed when he truthfully said our kids would have hated these, and for me, with only one functioning foot, using the lavatory may have taken some serious ingenuity… or desperation.

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

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(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Wikipedia: Palau Ubin

January 1, 2017

Boardwalks And Stone Paths, Getting Around Pulau Ubin…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,Pulau Ubin Island,SINGAPORE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,
(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Following yesterday’s post: My husband hates heights, towers and platforms of any sort are strictly off limits.

Therefore I was not surprised to learn that when he and our good friend “Velvetine” came across an observation look-out tower on the island of Pulau Ubin that he stayed firmly on terra firma leaving Velvetine to climb up and get photographs.

Our Singaporean friend didn’t hesitate to clamber up the flights of wooden steps, giving me a birds eye virtual view later of what I consider to be a fabulous day trip.

One thing was abundantly clear: the distance they walked was way out of my range of mobility, and whilst the boardwalks would have been manageable in a wheelchair,  the rocky track certainly wasn’t.

Fortunately Velvetine was also in charge of the camera and she and I are two peas in a pod when it comes to taking photographs: the detail is everything: little things like shadows of railings on steps,  patterns in wood, stone or plants, give just as much pleasure as the photographs of the surrounding landscape.

Over the years we have gotten to know one another quite well, so before they left she was sure to make a joke about getting enough photographs of rocks and paving stones, except that to my delight she wasn’t just joking, she also delivered.

Texture, glorious texture was there to see, close up and beautiful, so I appreciated her photographic efforts more than she could ever know. It was also wonderful to take part. at least in a virtual sense of the day out, especially because I am more of the “picture” person than a words one, for me the visual representation of the world is everything.  It’s the way I learn and relate to things. One thing that I didn’t miss though, was the encounter with creepy crawlies, more specifically the huge spiders webs they saw and in one, a massive spider. Even for Velvetine, used to such things, the camera zoom was better than close quarters contact.

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

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(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

These are planted in the sea to stop soil erosion on the coastline…

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Looking out over the water, this is the boarder with Indonesia…

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Bamboo…

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Wikipedia: Palau Ubin

December 31, 2016

Visiting The “Stone Hill” Close To Singapore…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,Pulau Ubin Island,SINGAPORE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Following yesterday’s post, Himself and our good Singaporean friend “Velvetine” are visiting Pulau Ubin.
Pulau Ubin is an island just off the north east of Singapore.

Granite quarrying supported a few thousand settlers on Pulau Ubin in the 1960s, but only about a hundred villagers live there today.

One of the last rural areas to be found in Singapore, with an abundance of natural flora and fauna, the island forms part of the Ubin–Khatib Important Bird Area (IBA), identified as such by BirdLife International because it supports significant numbers of visiting and resident birds, some of which are threatened.

The name Pulau Ubin literally means “Granite Island” in Malay, which explains the many abandoned granite quarries there. Pulau means “island”, and Ubin is said to be a Javanese term for “squared stone”.

The rocks on the island were used to make floor tiles in the past and were called Jubin, which was then shortened to Ubin.

The island is known as tsioh sua in the Taiwanese Romanization of Hokkien, which means “stone hill”. The highest point is Bukit Puaka (Puaka Hill) at a height of 75 m.

The granite from Pulau Ubin was used in the construction of Horsburgh Lighthouse. Tongkangs ferried the huge rock blocks (30 by 20 feet) from the island to Pedra Branca, the site of the lighthouse, in 1850 and 1851. Later, the granite was also used to build the Singapore-Johor Causeway. Most of the quarries are not in operation today and are being slowly recolonised by vegetation or filled with water.

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Information boards give an idea of the local flora and fauna…

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Mango swamps…

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Velvetine’s selfies (well sort of)…

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

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(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Wikipedia: Palau Ubin

December 30, 2016

Pulau Ubin: Himself’s Day Trip With Our Local Guide…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,Pulau Ubin Island,SINGAPORE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Regular readers of my blog will know that for reasons of privacy (this IS the internet after all) I never blog about our travels in “real time”.

Nothing would be worse that revealing that we were in “(name) Hotel enjoying the sunshine“,  giving details whereby strangers could figure out who my children were etc, let alone advertising that our house was empty at home.

The secondary factor is of course that my medical levels are high and my concentration levels low, so I tend to do something  in the house for fifteen or twenty minutes and then sleep or rest for a few hours.

It’s difficult to accomplish much even on a good day, the bad days.. well …the less said about them the better.

Sorting photographs also takes time, but I tend to get there (eventually) which is why this post is approximately three years late.

The 2013-14 Christmas holidays saw us jet our way across the world to New Zealand, but of course I can’t manage back to back flights either, so we  break the trip by staying over in one of our favourite places: Singapore.

I have a good Singaporean friend, famous in the pages of this blog from our previous visits to Singapore, and the summer holiday that she spent travelling around Europe with us,  therefore you know her here as “Velvetine”.

When we first travelled to New Zealand and back, we generally spent a day, maybe two in Singapore, Velvetine was a friend made on the Internet and so we would touch base, eat dinner and do some sightseeing together.

(photograph © Velvetine)

It soon became apparent that we really “clicked” and even though we usually only saw each other every two years, the moment we met again it was like we picked up from yesterday.

Then came my accident and foot injury and our stops needed became a little longer, which turned out to be a very popular choice with the rest of the family, so on our last trip we had four days on the way to New Zealand and almost a week on the way back.

I of course spent the first few days sleeping off the effects of the flight with ice packs (my foot chooses to swell up like a balloon).

The kids decided that they wanted to spend time in the pool (we have gotten to know the lifeguards who keep a watchful eye on them even though both kids are confident swimmers and I joined them at the pool later).

After the first day Himself was feeling energetic and so Velvetine suggested a day trip to the nearby island of Pulau Ubin.

Himself was under strict instructions to please take lots of photographs so that the kids and I could enjoy a “virtual” version of their day upon his return and knowing that Velvetine and I share a click-a-holic addiction, he did the wisest thing possible: he handed the camera to Velvetine for the day.

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © with Thank You to Google Maps of course…)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

A photograph is as close as I want to get to this web inhabitant…

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Velvetine even takes photographs of the ground… now you know she is a good friend of mine…

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

I edited the following two photographs for family privacy, but Himself was very much enjoying the sea views…

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Velvetine also gets into the photo but it’s not really a selfie … or is it?

(photograph © Velvetine)

(photograph © Velvetine)

Wikipedia: Palau Ubin

November 24, 2012

Is It Really Any Of My Business?…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In yesterdays post I mentioned that Himself and I have a surprise that we hadn’t told the kids about:  it’s the news that we’ve accumulated enough Frequent Flyer miles with Singapore Airlines to be able to get a free upgrade of our tickets and fly Business Class on the last leg of our journey home.

It’s probably wasted on the kids since this is a night flight and they probably will sleep most of the way, but on the other hand it’s also nice to have them stretched out in their own seats and not draped  heavily over Himself and I, which is their usual mode of sleeping in the cramped seats in Economy.

I could totally get used to flying Business Class… alas my bank balance has other ideas and so we were strategic when we planned this into the trip. We figured that since two of our flights were 14 hours each and two were 10,  that it would be wise to  use this perk on the longest of the flights. Also starting out the trip in luxury and then reverting back to squeezing our long Dutch legs into Economy thereafter would be painful both physically and psychologically so the longest leg on the way home was the wisest choice.

Little Mr. fell asleep as soon as the plane had climbed to cruising level and his seat could be reclined, and soon passengers all around us were doing the same.  It’s a pity I didn’t take a photo of the seats in the reclined position, the back rest slides downwards and there’s a leg rest that rises up so yes, you can stretch out far further than can ever be possible in Economy, but that said these recline to a level that is still far from flat so you find yourself attempting to sleep on a downwards slope.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The kids fit perfectly into the space, they can stretch out fully if they want so they curl up and sleep,  but I could use being a little shorter as my feet fit awkwardly under the seat in front.  This is partly due to the fact that I’m limited in positions that my sore foot is comfortable in, and partly because the ideal position for sleeping in one of these seats seems to be on your side, whereas I usually find sleeping on my stomach most comfortable.

I opt for a half-doze but that’s not terribly successful because one of  the middle aircraft seats in our row was occupied by a stout gentleman who made himself comfortable, fell sleep and  promptly began snoring very very loudly. I ask the flight attendant if it’s possible to get ear plugs but they didn’t have any.

It also seems like they are unwilling to wake the man in question to let him know that he’s keeping other people awake.

Himself is so tired that he manages to sleep regardless of the din so eventually I give up and drown out the noise by putting on the headphones and watching a few movies. Later Kiwi Daughter stirs just in time for a meal, I’m not sure if I should call it dinner or breakfast but it’s  a good step up from the usual aircraft fare.

There are kid treats as well as fresh fruit to enjoy after her main course which is nice because both of us have Special meals due to allergy issues and I’ve noticed that if a child has a Special meal than all the sweet “treats” and snacks have been removed, much to her extreme disappointment.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So far this trip all of her flight meals have looked more like adult meals than kid ones so Kiwi Daughter hasn’t found any of them particularly appetising until now.

The gent in the centre row continues to snore loudly for most of the flight home, so I watch movies rather than frustrate myself trying to unsuccessfully sleep though the noise. The flight attendant raises her hands apologetically, it seems that it’s luck of the draw, you pay Business Class prices to be able to sleep, and therefore you get to sleep on,  apparently even if that means keeping your fellow passengers awake.

If I had paid this ticket out of my own pocket and needed to sleep on the flight, say for an important meeting  after landing then I probably would have gone and woken the man and politely told him that his snoring was disturbing other  passengers but since Himself and the kids were sleeping soundly I let it go as not to make any disturbance. Truth is,  I don’t know if it would be my business to wake up this passenger or not?

In spite of the snoring gent, this is still a very comfortable way to travel, but to be honest if  this was a ticket I’d have to pay for myself and if I were to add to up the cost of a family of four flying Business Class to New Zealand and back then my conscience would be heavy.

That kind of cash could easily feed the more than one hundred kids at the Kiribati School for the Disabled  with one warm meal a day for more than a year ….so whilst this is a lovely one-time perk,  flying Business is too serious a business for my conscience.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 23, 2012

A Car, An Aeroplane and Streaky Coloured Lights…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this page of our retrospective travel diary we are in the process of leaving  Singapore and flying back to The Netherlands. It’s past eight p.m. when we head to the airport, it’s dark and we have a long long night ahead of us.

Little Mr. is already cuddling up in the minibus… we hope that the excitement of the airport will wake him up and keep him awake at least until we get through the security checks and with any luck, until we board the plane and then he can sleep for the full 14 hour flight if he wants.

I try to photograph the Singapore Flyer from our moving vehicle in the dark… the giant wheel has lights on it that change colour constantly so is beautiful to look at at night, buildings flash by, most of them in a blur and we arrive at the airport before we know it.

The control tower is also lit, busy presiding over constant flights arriving and departing. As our bags are unloaded I’m reminded that whilst it’s still roughly 30 C  (86 F) here, it most certainly won’t be once we land at the other end.

There’s a surprise coming later that neither kid knows about, but more on that tomorrow…

Since Singapore’s Changi Airport consists of multiple terminals over a seemingly endless area we have already figured out that I will never be able to cover the distances on crutches, so organised wheelchair assistance when we booked out flights and after checking in our large suitcases we sit to wait for the wheelchair to arrive.

Every time we visit Singapore, Changi Airport  has a different display for us to marvel over… this time there’s a massive mechanical fan in the departure hall,  it looks like half-fan half-flower and it tips and tilts in different directions. There’s also a massive Mer Lion and other decorations to admire on our way to the gate.

We board the plane and at roughly five minutes to midnight push off from the gate and begin the long taxi to the end of one of the runways. I try to take photographs of the airport, other planes and  the landing lights and mostly end up with abstract arty displays of wobbly coloured streaks…  art form airport style. One especially “fluid” photo is actually us rushing past the airport and control tower during take-off, even though I’m not really a fan of abstracts I kind of liked it because it’s recognisable if you know what it is and probably not if you don’t… unintentional surrealist photography.

When we get a good view of Singapore below us I keep taking photos but only one of the pictures turns out recognisable in any shape or form… it’s my last glimpse of one of my favourite cities and I can’t wait to be back here again.

(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)

November 22, 2012

More Monkey Business On Our Last Day in Singapore…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,Rasa Sentosa,Rasa Sentosa Food,SINGAPORE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s our last morning in Singapore, we wake up early and head off to breakfast, the sun is just up and there’s a hazy tropical mist enveloping the harbour.

I can just make out the forms of ships, but as the sun rises the haze begins to evaporate so after sorting out most of the bags in the room we leave the room to bright sunlight: Himself and the kids heading  for the the pool and me for a little walk around as per my physiotherapists instructions, camera in tow of course.

All of a sudden I become aware of movement on the balconies to my right… monkeys! … and lots of them too, and they appear to be making their way to one specific area.

Someone has put food out on their hotel balcony table and word has apparently travelled fast in the local primate community that breakfast is to be had on the fifth floor.

I watch in amazement as the monkeys appear to defy gravity as they move with ease from one floor to another, even a very young monkey, considerably smaller than the rest makes a leap upwards from the floor below covering a space more than double it’s body length and with nothing apparent to grab on to.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It disappears from view for a split second into the small space between the balconies and emerges by the railings of the balcony one floor higher before scaling the wall to include himself in the breakfast party going on on the balcony next door.

The rest of the day is quiet, the kids opt to spend as much time in the pool as possible. Our flight goes almost at midnight so we’ve arranged for a later checkout than normal and will even have time for an early dinner here at the hotel.

We’ve learned from past experience that the kids will be tired when we leave for the airport and that eating at the airport when it’s their usual bedtime will not be a success (Little Mr. having fallen asleep by the time his order arrived).

Both will be fast asleep on the plane before the first meal arrives so a relaxed early meal at the hotel will make a smooth start to the long journey ahead. Both kids opt for the  pizza Kiwi Daughter had here before, Himself and I go after our favourite dishes.

All too soon our bags are being loaded into a minibus and we are getting inside to go to the airport…

(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)

November 21, 2012

From the Roof You Can Hear It… and Probably In the Helicopter Too…

Filed under: Kids and Family,PHOTOGRAPHY,Rasa Sentosa,SINGAPORE — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: ,

It suddenly occurred to me that even though we’ve stayed at the Rasa Sentosa five times now over the years, I’ve only been up  to the top floor of the hotel on one occasion: the  night when the Zoukout Festival was on.  https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/new-531/

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Today is a beautiful day so whilst the kids and Himself hang out in their favourite place (the swimming pool) I take the lift to the top floor of the hotel and take in the views, this time in daylight and with clear skies.

One thing about my DSLR camera lens perplexes me;  I appear to be able to bring objects that are far in the distance right into view up close, but for instance, when photographing the peacock the day before yesterday I had trouble zooming in really close even though a birdie was just a few metres away.

Since I’m a bit of a technophobe I think it’s fairly safe to assume that the problem probably lies with me rather than the camera, but that’s why I was rather amazed that the close-ups that I made of the ships in the harbour came out so unexpectedly well.

Something funny happened too… whilst I was taking photos, two helicopters passed overhead very close to the hotel.

All of a sudden the noise of a child’s screams of excitement drift up to my viewing post from somewhere down by the pool area… then it dawned on me, I  recognise  that high pitched squeal…  yep that is my own seven year old Little Mr. notifying the entire hotel that a helicopter is passing overhead.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I mean, it’s not like helicopters are stealth bombers or gliders, but somehow my besotted-by-emergency-services-and-all-things-in-flight little dude seems to think he’s the only one who can see them and it’s his duty to inform the world in case they missed this amazing event.

In fact he gets so excited that I wouldn’t  be entirely surprised if somewhere at this point of the flight on the helicopter’s black-box flight recorder there’s a pilot’s voice asking if anyone else can hear a strange noise ?

I’m half tempted to yell over the rail’  “Sorry everyone for the noise, yes he’s one of mine!” but decide that I’m a coward and that saying and admitting nothing is the better course of action. The ecstatic squealing stops once the helicopters have gone away anyway.

The ships in the harbour are amazing, there are so many of them, not just the ones you can see clearly by the shore but also the ones so far behind in the distance that they are just fuzzy grey smudges in the background of the photos.

At the end of the photo series I also attach some of the night photos I took of the Rasa’s entrance, there are strings of Christmas lights on the driveway and entire trees lit up with fairy lights galore…  just a few days after I make this journal entry these views will just be memories…  but until then I’m enjoying the views and loving the tropical weather. Let’s check it out…

(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)

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