Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Frugal Bastard's Cruise 2008 - Day 2 - October 5th 2008

After going to be past midnight Miky wanted to walk prior to 7am. Upon her return we had a swim then a quick shower before a lovely buffet breakfast. My friend Vanessa was meeting us at 9am to go out. We visited the Raffles Hotel firstly.

The Raffles Hotel in Singapore.

The inside courtyard of the Raffles Hotel.

And then we walked to the Singapore Flyer. The tickets that Vanessa had bought for the previous night were ok to use. What a brilliant attraction. Exciting too. You could see for miles. Well worth the money and definitely a highlight of Singapore.

Singapore is quite a futuristic-looking city.

No sleeping sign in an underpass.

Obviously this is an illiterate Singaporean.

Welcome to the Singapore Flyer.

Amazing soccer pitch in the harbour.

The Singapore Skyline.

Massive works going on in the harbour.

View atop the Singapore Flyer - 42 stories up.

View of the grand prix track.

The Singapore Flyer from below.

We had lunch in a foodhall but not at Famous Amos or Yu Kee. There was a tropical downpour during lunch so it didn't matter that the Boy took a little bit longer to finish his lunch.

Famous Amos - I work with a Singaporean called Amos.

Yu Kee - not a perfect name for a restaurant by any stretch of the imagination.

US Presidential election fever has obviously hit those in Singapore who think they can make a buck out of it.

PISSA health ceatre - marginally better English than in Hong Kong.

The girls went shopping at OG near Bugis Station whilst we boys went to the Sim Lim Square Building which contains six stories of electronic goods. We compared prices for a Nintendo Wii, Wii Fit and a Canon Ixus 90IS digital camera. It was a bit exhausting and there were no fixed prices. One guy offered me the camera for S$390, which was about S$40 more than other shops and when I told him that it was too expensive he dropped the price to S$330. Disgusted that he'd shaved S$60 off the price just like that I walked out. He shouted out to me that he could sell it for S$280! I think it's a disgrace to try to make S$110 profit like that.

Met the girls before going back to the hotel. We grabbed our belongings and checked about 3:30pm, as the Holiday Inn Park View offered a late 4pm checkout, and took a taxi to Harbour Front to check in for the cruise. Arrived at 3:55pm which was only 35 minutes before check-in closed. It had opened at 2:30pm. The travel agent never told us where to go or what time to check-in.

First view of Superstar Gemini.

One of the first things to do on board was take part in a safety drill. Several hundred people with life jackets on was a funny sight. Before tea I checked out the facilities. We had a lovely buffet meal, followed by a tour guide presentation followed by Hot! Hot! Hot! - an entertainment extravaganza with Brazilian dancers, Chinese acrobats and a Belarus ballroom dancing championship winning team. Great stuff. Yu-Jin was able to have a swim in the pool on deck eight and Miky worked out in the gym.

Cool dude in a life jacket.

Frugal Bastard's Cruise 2008 - Day 1 - October 4th 2008

Time for another trip. This time as an anniversary present as well as for a holiday. We had planned to take a cruise from Singapore to Malaysia, Thailand and back three months earlier but were unable to obtain a cabin that we were happy with. It didn't have to be anything special. No need for a porthole because if we wanted to look outside we would go outside. All they were able to offer us firstly was a room with an obscured view for A$900 more than we were willing to pay. So, we waited three months until the next holiday period.

Finally the time came around. We'd only had three days to pay for the initial booking but had to wait seven months to take the trip. You can imagine how excited we were.

My itinerary informed me that we were taking a Qantas flight at 12pm. Therefore we rocked up to the airport at 10 to 10 because we had plenty of time. After a quick check of the e-ticket, which said our booking was on Singapore Airlines, I thought that it was a bit strange that Singapore Airlines and Qantas would be doing a codeshare flight as they are competitor. Then it dawned on me - my itinerary didn't match the ticket and we had missed our flight which was scheduled for the morning. That was an "Oh shit!" moment. And a rather large one at that.

Unfortunately Singapore Airlines' desk was closed at this stage so I had to ring our travel agent - Flight Centre. It hurt having to pay $2 for a local call as I didn't have any change. And I was kept on hold for some 45 minutes whilst waiting for the travel agent to contact Singapore Airlines. I explained that the e-ticket didn't match the itinerary and three months after the ticket was created I'd paid for something else or received a quote and the paperwork produced still informed that my booking was with Qantas. The travel agent couldn't understand as there had never been a booking made with Qantas - that was a bit difficult to swallow seeing as I had paperwork stating otherwise. There was absolutely no mention of Singapore Airlines in an itinerary and, in fact, an updated itinerary was never presented to us. A little bit later I recalled changing the initial flight to an earlier one to Singapore but the rest of the paperwork being incorrect was still very mysterious. And it wasn't going to help the fact that we had missed our flight. And the ticket says if you miss your flight you've missed your flight.

Waiting on the telephone for some 50 minutes for help from the travel agent.

The travel agent managed to get us booked on a flight at five past one the next morning but that would mean our hotel booking was lost and we would have nowhere to stay for half a day before boarding our cruise. Not ideal. Our best bet was to waitlist for a five to four flight that afternoon and wait it out. I went upstairs to Singapore Airlines' office, which was closed but they answered the doorbell, and they informed me that the flight was already overbooked. Another lady came who decided to try her luck as she wanted to go to Paris a day earlier than planned if she could. Once we'd had lunch and waited downstairs there was another chap who was waitlisted also.

Had to ring my friend Vanessa from a public phone and tell her that we wouldn't be arriving until late in the evening, at best, and that it wasn't possible to use the tickets that she had purchased for a ride that night on the Singapore Flyer. As luck would have it the call only cost me $2 and I found a two dollar coin near the phone.

We could have purchased three business class seats which were available at the cost of A$2600 each and saved a lot of hassle but I couldn't see the logic in spending $8000 just to be guaranteed of landing in Singapore a few hours earlier as we were booked on a flight at 1:05 the next morning if the waitlisting didn't come through.

It was a nerve-wracking wait. We had to wait until 40 minutes before the flight was due to leave and if people hadn't checked in by then, and only then, the seats would be allocated to people on the waitlist. Thankfully everyone who was waiting was allowed on the plane. We hastily checked our bags and grabbed our boarding passes. Miky wanted to buy a handbag in the duty free area and asked if she had time. And I thought that she was kidding. When we reached immigration there was a large cue. Then we had to go through a security screening area. Only then did we reach the gate with some 10 or so minutes until the plane departed. We weren't the last to arrive but were pretty close to it.

Service on Singapore Airlines was good. I wasn't impressed with the middle-aged women in front of me who were out for a good time as they fail to consider others. You know, the sort of people who push their seat back as far as possible so that you can't see your screen properly and talk quite loudly about what they are watching on their own screen. Managed to read the Financial Times from front to back.

At the airport I found the information desk ladies to be quite helpful. Couldn't understand the taxi driver and he probably had as much trouble with me. The staff member at the Holiday Inn Park View was most kind. When I replied that our holiday had been started off so poorly he gave me an iPod shuffle for my trouble and said, "When I go on holiday I would like to have a nice holiday." Man, I was enjoying the Singaporean hospitality already.

We wandered around the eateries on Orchard Road and visited Istana Park. The night life appears to get going around 10pm.

Busy place late into the evening.

La La, Gon Gon and Su Su. This made us laugh.

Istana Park by night

Litter in Istana Park. Shock, horror.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Another Funny Bus Incident

Riding the bus is a constant source of entertainment. Just a couple of days ago I noticed that there was a chart near the drive stating where to turn, left or right, at streets along the route. Obviously a new bus driver. She was a bit rough on the accelerator, but not nearly as much as some, so it showed.

After getting off at my stop I noticed the bus go straight through a roundabout. That was a bit strange as it was supposed to turn right at that roundabout. I was quite amused to walk past the bus at the place it had stopped and even talked to one of the passengers who got off. She was rather bemused also. The bus driver was asking if anybody wanted to get off as she wasn't going to be able to turn around to do two or three stops before joining the route again.

So funny.

Is That A Banana In Your Undies?

Australia is pretty strict when it comes to quarantine issues. There is very little in the way of foodstuffs that can be imported without you being a certified importer. I read in the news, it was the top story on Google News Australia in fact, that a Czech lady coming from Samoa was caught with bananas in her undies. It made me laugh that she was acting strangely and that caught the attention of the customs officials. Not the fact that she had some strange protrusions in her pants.

Can you imagine the customs official's question - Is that a banana in your undies or are you just happy to see me?

Not very good at concealing contraband I'd say. Did she sit on the plane like that? Maybe she'd lost her husband and was lonely - in that case they may have been lady finger bananas. Possibly couldn't afford a cucumber, being out of season and all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Costly Advice

I was a bit sick after returning from holidays. Somehow I knew this would happen and I took the precaution of having a few days extra to do bugger all to relax before going back to work. A sore throat developed and by Saturday I felt poorly enough to have to visit the doctor. She did a quick examination and said that I had a viral infection but it wasn't bad enough to require antibiotics at this stage. The best thing for it was to gargle warm, salty water and take a couple of Panadol. That bit of advice took all of three minutes and cost $60! She said that I'd have a cough for the next 10 days however.

I decided to get my blood pressure checked seeing as I was there and the time was being paid for. The doctor appeared genuinely surprised at the result and asked me if I played a lot of sport. No, I just walk to and from the bus stop. I was happy with the result of that test.

The advice worked too.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Online Games - Rabbid Droppings

Quite topical this game - Rabbid Droppings - with our misbehaving rabbit in mind. The boy scored 17240 points. Beat that.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Just When I Thought I Needed A Dog

A couple of weeks ago I was chasing Stew around the backyard in an attempt to put him in his hutch and away for the night. I was thinking to myself, "I might have to buy a dog to help me round him up. Similar to a sheepdog but more of a rabbitdog." And with that thought he bounded off to the hutch and entered the open door. All by himself. Mind you he gave the hutch a big thump to show his displeasure. I was astounded. We've had him since February and he's just gotten more and more difficult to put away of an evening.

For 11 days he was cared for by some friends whilst we were on holiday. When I saw cared for I leave out reference to his escape and subsequent capture in the middle of the road on his second day there.

He's been back home for two days. When I went to collect him last night he headed straight for the hutch and jumped in. And here was me thinking that this is a dumb animal. He's put one over me for eight months.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm Back, Baby

Well, after a rather eventful holiday to Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand I'm back. Now for the unusual task of cleaning up, doing the washing, packing things away and the like. Miky has gone to work today but I'm having a few more days off before returning to work. That means I get to play Mr Mum for a couple of days. Someone's gotta make the money I guess.

Over the coming month or two I'll put together another little blog and link it to this one. It'll take some time to process the 850 or so photos and type up the diary. More than one or two events took place so stay tuned.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Funny Email

I just received an email talking about some bike pics. I noticed that the email address was similar to mine so I can see where the mistake was made and I received it instead. What made me really laugh was that he signed it "Joshy Poo". I couldn't help but send him an email and take the piss.

G'day Joshy Poo, if you're reading.

Konglish Word Of The Week

This week's Konglish word of the week:

Guiltness. It adds emphasis to the word guilt much like happy becomes happiness.
Word usage - you make me feel guiltness.

Make Sure You Notice

I've probably blogged about it before but has it ever occurred to you that if a woman changes something about her appearance you have to notice within five seconds of walking in the door or you will be told that you are self-centred?

We had a long weekend last weekend (Queen's Birthday, which the rest of Australia celebrates in June, and even the Brits don't have a holiday for it) so I went four days in between shaves. I decided to shave it back to a goatee. Funny thing was that my missus didn't notice it that day. She saw me again in the morning before going to work and didn't notice. It was only until after 10pm that night that she noticed. A day and a half later. Hmm, if I was that insensitive and self-centred there'd be hell to pay. But, I'm a man and she's a woman so I don't make the rules.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Trumped By Donald Trump?

Last night on Today Tonight there was a segment about a guy called Malcolm Somebody, we can't call him Malcolm X because that was a real person, and I don't recall his surname. He had pursued Donald Trump for six months to do a speaking tour in Australia for some big bucks. Malcolm signed a contract that was worded very much in the Trump's favour and he's already made payment of A$1.5m. Trouble is the tour isn't going ahead and the Trump isn't going to refund the money. In fact, the contract even calls for more money to be paid. Very cleverly worded indeed.

They showed us how Malcolm met the Trump in New York, smiles all around, how he was commented on his professionalism, etc. Now, Donald Trump regularly pulls thousands of people for a talk. And we're talking between 30,000 and 60,000 people. The most tickets that were sold for the Australian tour was 450!

Malcolm blames Trump for his lack of pulling power, Trump blames Malcolm for his inexperience and lack of professionalism, etc. The tour was called "Think like a billionaire". We're supposed to feel sorry for the little guy whose business is now in liquidation. He will be out of pocket seriously and his dreams ruined by a man so rich that the money doesn't matter to him. They showed us a screenshot from the Website, which has now been suspended, and it mentioned the venues as Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydeny. Sydeny?! I thought it was Donald Trump touring not Juan Antonio Samaranch. Would you hand over a couple of thousand dollars to a man who can't even spell one of the venues correctly? It would appear to be a bit of a scam at first glance.