Sunday, December 28, 2008

Frugal Bastard's Cruise 2008 - Day 11 - October 14th 2008

Last morning overseas today. Chinatown was our destination before returning home. Quite warm. Quite a bit to see too. One or two shop owners in Chinatown got upset when asked for a discount. One Indian man told us that the price was S$6 for one item but that we shouldn't pay attention to that as he would discount it. It was only S$3 a few doors down and it was quite difficult to tell the shops apart once you'd finally made up your mind what you wanted to buy.

Singapore - old meets new.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.

Inside Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.

Another shot inside Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.

Chinatown markets.

The Boy got a seat on the MRT. Premium item this.

I bumped into the t-shirt seller from Bugis Junction market who recognised me from a few days ago. Miky found a Chinese antique dealer just outside of the markets and haggled seriously with him for a jewelry box. He discounted below his normal price because it was our last day of shopping and looked in great pain to sell. Further down South Bridge Road we came across the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. [Editor's note - I had to search through my credit card statement to find the jewelry shop name, locate the street, use Google Maps to find the temple so that I could work out what the name was.]

We headed over to Food Republic (where else?) for lunch, and I had delicious Thai food - pad thai, after I called my friend Vanessa who couldn't make it. It was a bit much expecting her to be able to meet us at such short notice.

We decided to buy some luggage and Miky boasted about how well her bag had served her for 10 years. As a freebie we received a pearl for purchasing the bags. Back at the hotel we repacked our luggage and the concierge said that he would dispose of our old bag. They were so helpful at the Concorde.

I got in a little bit of trouble at the airport when my bag was x-rayed and I was told that there was a bottle of water inside. Well, I knew damn well that there wasn't and said so. After looking through my bag the lady official didn't find it and so she rechecked. Right down the bottom at the back was a bottle of water, and a magazine, that had been weighing me down the whole time we'd been walking around Singapore. I rather sheepishly apologised but it was an honest mistake. I had no idea that the bottle was there or had any intention of smuggling it onto the plane.

On the flight we were split up again and I said that I'd swap seats with Miky to play games against Yu-Jin. Following the meal I went to change seats and when I told her that I was sitting next to a fat, smelly older bloke for some strange reason she was happy in her seat and refused to change. Dammit. Watched Indiana Jones and read The Financial Times. The plane, being code-shared between Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic, was pretty well packed and the cabin crew offered great service. As we came into land one of the overhead compartments opened, which is something you don't see too often, and it was a bit shaky. We didn't have any problems with immigration/customs bringing in our wooden jewelry box, coral collected in Thailand and chocolate.

Weight gain for the holiday was 1.5kg. Once we returned home Miky's old luggage pretty much disintegrated. Perfect timing.

Don't Race A Dog At Night Time In Unfamiliar Territory On Undulating Land

We spent the afternoon with some good friends in Rockingham yesterday. Lots of time chatting, mucking about in the pool all followed by a lovely BBQ tea. Just before 9pm we took the four dogs that were in the house at the time for a walk. I had Bonnie on a leash and started to jog with her. Bonnie likes a run and took off. Well, me being the competitive idiot that I am raced her. In the dark. On an unbeknowngst undulating bit of land. As I was passing her I went to take the next step and the land wasn't there as it had dropped a bit. When me leg did touch down it was knee first on a brick paver. And so lots of skin was removed.

My skinned knee. Did a good job, eh?

After we arrived home we put Dettol on it. I was surprised that it didn't sting. And we weren't game to bandage it last night in case the bandage became part of the wound. I'm guessing that it'll be a few days before it scabs over properly and just that bit longer before I race a dog at nighttime in unfamiliar territory on undulating land.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Frugal Bastard's Cruise 2008 - Day 10 - October 13th 2008

A friend from uni, Asher, dropped in to see me at the hotel around breakfast time. It was great to see him but he was only able to hang around for 30 mins or so because he was supposed to be working. No rest for the wicked in Singapore. He mentioned that Arab Street was good for fabrics. Our plan was also to visit Little India.

Wet in these parts.

"Hairy" tree.

Singapore tropical downpour.

By the time we arrived in the vicinity there was a tropical downpour. I thought that it might pass relatively soon so we waited a few minutes before deciding to buy an umbrella. We wandered around Little India for some time and the goods throughout certainly weren't cheap. So much was on sale in the markets but it was cheaper when Miky went alone.

Little India - Deepavali Festival time.

Stop your umbrella wetting the floor. These Singaporeans are so consciencious.

Buildings in Little India.

Marketplace in Little India.

Madras Street in Little India.

Rundown buildings in Little India.

Masjid Abdul Gafoor (Temple).

Rochor Centre apartments. Something groovy in Singapore.

We happened across a China shop and bought some dishes. I asked the lady if there were any fabric shops on Arab Street and she said, "No fabric on Arab Street." Undetered we ventured on and one block away found quite a few fabric shops. Miky bought some nice silk.

Sultan Mosque.

Ali Baba fabric shop.

Aladdin's fabric shop.

Journeyed to Food Republic at Wisma Atria again. Lovely food once again. This time I ate some India food. Lunch was at 3:30pm - too busy shopping to eat. Miky kept shopping whilst Yu-Jin and I returned to the hotel to shower before having a dip in the pool.

Taxi driver pranged a Mercedes. That's gonna hurt.

Singlish sign that made me laugh.

Rang an ex-pat friend's sister and she invited us out later to Newton Circus if we weren't too late from the Night Safari that we planned to take later in the evening. We caught a shuttle bus out the back of the hotel and they offered us a $1 discount to the Night Safari if we purchaed the ticket from them. I didn't have enough cash to buy the ticket but he ended up not charging me for Yu-Jin's bus ticket so we saved the $2 anyway.

We should have caught the earlier bus as we just missed out on viewing The Creatures of the Night show. Somebody wanting a blasted cup of coffee wouldn't be the cause, would they?

The tram ride for the Night Safari was very informative and almost all of the animals were on display. Disappointed at the park that we were unable to see anything other than the tram ride - the place needs to be open for another hour or so. All the food was S$13-17 a serve - nothing like you could buy in the city. We arrived back at the hotel around 11pm and The Boy slept whilst we ate something for tea. Asher had left a message if it wasn't too late to ring him and he could take us for a drive. Damn, too late.

Night Safari (rampant commercialisation) - couldn't photograph any of the animals.

Doctor Fish nibbling dead skin off feet.

Tired boy.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Online Games - QWERTY Warriors

Pretty cool game that The Boy found this morning - QWERTY Warriors. You have to shoot the enemy by typing the word beneath them and firing. It certainly builds your typing skills. I scored 59350 on medium.

Frugal Bastard's Cruise 2008 - Day9 - October 12th 2008

We arrived safely in Singapore. After a late night the 8am deadline to vacate the room was a bit difficult. Didn't have as much breakfast as usual. Perhaps the cruise was just long enough. Disembarkation was done by deck numbers and started at deck 7. We were on deck 3 therefore the second last group to depart. We were separated at the escalator leading to immigration. Our bags were already waiting for us so there was no time wasted.

The Boy with the crew saying goodbye.

We caught a taxi and the driver was quite funny but when he informed us that the Australian dollar had dropped from S$1.13 last week to S$0.98 the laughing was over. He referred to the Singapore PM, an Indian, as a "nigger" which I thought was a bit much, especially as he didn't know us.

The Le Meridien Hotel had had a name change to Concorde so there was some confusion when we arrived. Flight Centre failed to inform us of this little fact. The driver asked me to stop them from unloading the bags just in case it was the wrong hotel. Apparently it is a common theme for Singaporean hotels to change their names and confuse taxi drivers and tourists alike.

Once that was sorted out there was no authorisation for our included breakfasts even though I had a voucher for it. They couldn't find the booking for us either! One of the girls who served us had the name Fence! We took a king-size room on the smoking level. The room wasn't as comfortable as the Holiday Inn Park View however. After a brief rest to freshen up our mission was shopping.

Took the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) from Somerset to Orchard. There are quite a few department stores in the area. First stop was Food Republic at Wisma Atria Shopping Centre where we had Taiwanese food. Then we hit the shops before Miky blew a gasket. She couldn't find exactly what she liked and with the dollar being so low the purchases hurt a bit more. Saw a money exchanger offering S$0.96 to the dollar.

Temple in Singapore.

Closeup of Temple in Singapore.

Another closeup of Temple in Singapore.

Inside Temple in Singapore.

It's busy in Bugis.

We split up with Yu-Jin coming with me to Bugis where there are some markets. An India money exchanger offered S$0.95 and wouldn't go to S$0.96. Over at the Sim Lim Square Building an exchanger had an advertised rate of S$0.975 but he gave me dollar for dollar. I shook his hand afterwards I was so happy. The Boy and I purchased matching t-shirts. The first shop we saw them in wanted S$25 but we got them for S$20. Caught the MRT back to the hotel, showered and had a swim. Miky rang twice while we were swimming. She rang again just after and wanted to meet us at Food Republic but we only wanted to go to the street stalls next to the hotel. She said she'd meet us there.

We waited for quite some time, talked to another family that was on the Superstar Gemini who also had problems with Flight Centre, and went to the supermarket for water before returning to the hotel. Miky showed up half an hour late as she had gotten lost - headed the wrong way on Orchard Road. Went back to the supermarket at 10pm, on a Sunday, and found it was still open. I like this place but it is so crowded. Can't imagine what it is like during the sales Singapore is famous for.

More Proof That Australia Is A Special Administrative Region Of China

I've said it before but Australia is the new Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China. Well, I have more proof. In 2009 Chinese New Year falls on Australia Day.

Australians All. We have been realigned with the Motherland. Kevin Rudd is happy to allow our mining companies to be bought by the Chinese at bargain basement prices, due to the global credit crunch, but I'm wondering why. It is so obvious that we are the newest SAR of China that it isn't necessary to sell off the farm.

Ni hao.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Australian Parliament Advocates Reading News In The Toilet

In many households people relax in the toilet and read magazines or books. Even the newspaper. According to the UK Inquirer - Aussies plan to block P2P and Bit Torrent - if you want the latest IT information you must read it in the Broadband Minister's Department's toilet.

I thought that was most amusing. Perhaps they meant "blog" but one can never be too sure.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Boy And The One Hundred Gs

No, we're not talking about $100k. We're talking about 100 G marks. The Boy received a G mark when he did some additional homework - maths, spelling, writing, piano practice, etc. He was told from the beginning that once he reached 100 Gs he would receive a Nintendo Wii. We also threw in the need to know his times tables. It was the missus' idea and one that was very motivational.

Well, guess what? Before the end of the year he managed it. Boy he had to work hard for it though. And let me tell you it is one addictive machine. And the additional accessories and games are going to kill me. Great fun for the family.

The Boy is already a pro bowler and I've only managed to beat him three times in about 25-30 games. He is good, let me tell you. But I'm so much better at boxing than him. Just wait until I buy a second remote and we can face off.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bird Rescue

I went to a local park with The Boy to play cricket yesterday. Afterwards we noticed a bird, I think it is from the cuckoo family, that was just hopping about. He was unable to fly and we could approach him very closely. Both of his wings appeared damaged. Yu-Jin thought that we should take him home to look after him as I thought that a cat would surely eat him as he was unable to get to a tree to roost.

I was able to grab him and we took him home. There was a box and we had some hay for the rabbit. I made him drink some water and we had some seeds that he could eat if he felt like it. Later in the day I even dug up some of the garden looking for worms. I found four worms and even when I put them in his mouth he wasn't interested in eating. Poor little fella just sat there. It was strange to be able to pat a wild bird and he didn't try to peck you.

Half an hour later Yu-Jin went to check on him and reported that he was dead. Sad to say but he was right. We buried him in the back yard and Yu-Jin wrote his name on a brick to place on top of the grave. He is very much saddened by the death of this bird and I'm glad to see that he has some compassion for animals.

Little birdie that we rescued.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Frugal Bastard's Cruise 2008 - Day8 - October 11th 2008


Slept in this morning as there was no port of call for tours. Had a workout on the bike when Yu-Jin went to child care. After meeting Mr Ng and Mr Tan as they disembarked, and we had decided to have a lead pencil drawing done, had lunch followed by a disembarkation information session with a funny English slideshow, which came before a chocolate banquet. Gee, they know how to make you fat on board the cruise ships. Not long after that was the mini Olympics where Yu-Jin took part in quoits and volleyball. I was a participant in quoits with Brad and scored zero after he opened with scoring zero leaving me a score of 30 to beat. We were called for sit-down volleyball which our team won and so I picked up a gold medal.

Dude on ship's CCTV.

Gold medallist sit down volleyball.

Yu-Jin had a swim whilst I had a sauna. After tea we stayed out on deck and Yu-Jin ate six slices of lemon meringue pie! We spoke with Rod and Maz from the Gold Coast whom we’d met in Penang. Took a short walk on deck where we played shuffleboard. You can’t go on a cruise and not play shuffleboard. Back to our room afterwards. I had to collect our passports and pay our bill and then wait for the artists to finish our picture. This didn’t happen until about 11:45pm. Not bad for something they started at lunchtime. I must say the boys worked really hard to get it finished in time. All of our luggage had to be ready for collection at 6:30am so there was much packing to be done.

Ladies night out.

Artist Suriyan Namwong sketching our family.

The two artists who worked on our portrait.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Cool Number Plate

Cool number plate I spotted the other day.


One cutie to envy.

Goodbye To 15 Years Of Rubbish

We've decided to have a bit of a clean-up. I have some 15 years of accumulated rubbish. Not that all of it is rubbish. I threw away a printer/scanner/copier that was fine until Windows XP came along. There was some other stuff that had to go too.

Had to do my homework though. I have a reputation to uphold, you know. First thing was to ring the dump, er waste management facility, and enquire about what items I could dispose of and how much it would cost, along with opening hours of course. Then I had to find a trailer to hire. Four hours should be enough time to load it up, take it to the dump, unload, clean the trailer and return it. Prices ranged between $29 and $49 for a 6' x 4' caged box trailer. Not a bad deal and the $29 one was nearby.

I started cleaning out the shed on the Friday evening when The Boy was attending a taekwondo class (extra) that isn't part of his normal schedule. It was a good thing too as there was a bit to do. On the Saturday afternoon I pulled out heaps of unwanted goods and piled them up in readiness for a quick loading.

Sunday. D-Day. I hate throwing anything away that I think may come in handy in the next five decades. I'm much like my father in that respect although he thinks longer term.

Took The Boy with me to collect the trailer. He checked the signals for me and found out that one of the blinkers wasn't working. Coupled with the fact that the chain to hold the trailer in place should it jump off the tow ball was broken, and somebody brought a trailer in good condition back, I cancelled my trailer and booked the other one. Hooked it on and headed for home. I have fond memories as a kid of doing similar things with my dad.

Loaded up the trailer. As I said, 15 years of rubbish. Well, it was some of 15 years worth of rubbish. Not the whole lot.

15 years of rubbish

15 years of rubbish

15 years of rubbish

That's what you use to get rid of 15 years of rubbish

The trip to the dump didn't take too long. Unfortunately I had something in the back that they wouldn't accept and had to return home with it. And it would have to have been at the bottom of the pile. Just about had to unload the whole trailer, remove the heavy items that weren't acceptable and then reload it. Hmmm, my fours hours of hire were ticking down. No problem second time round. It was kind of fun to throw away things that were no longer of use.

Returned home and had a shower. Took the trailer back and headed to the pool. Luckily for us they were having an open day so entry was free. I didn't know this at the time so it was a bonus.

By jingoes I have some spare space in the shed. I commented to the front end loader driver that if my wife had her way there would be another two or three loads of a similar size being thrown out. His comment? "They're all like that."

It's Hot - Must Be Christmas Time

As I was not working today we had decided that it would be a good idea for The Boy to visit Santa. He had been dying to see him so that he could safely forget about that which he wanted. It's all too much pressure for someone of his years. Surely you can appreciate that. There could be nothing worse than forgetting to tell Santa what you wanted for Christmas.

We headed to Myer in the city and, as expected, there was quite a queue of people waiting. Never mind. Boy, did The Boy appear nervous in front of Santa. Quite like a naughty boy in front of the headmaster. And he only asked for one thing. I'm very happy to see that he's not greedy and materialistic.

Naughty boy (looks like) with Santa

The Boy With Santa in 2008

That's not a real reindeer

Christmas Tree in Perth 2008

You could tell it is Christmas time. Apart from the Christmas tree in the city that is. The mercury hit 38 degrees today. And we're talking celsius here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Interesting Happening On The Bus

Just when you think you've seen it all you realise that you haven't seen it all. There's always something happening on the bus. At a stop only about three stops from where I was due to alight tongiht some guy started banging on the window. He noticed a mobile phone at the bus stop and thought that it may belong to a passenger who had just boarded. The bus driver took possession of it and then started to call base to report it. Another guy crossed the road and stood in the middle of the traffic, not far from the lights which turned to green, and proceeded to describe the mobile he had just lost. The first guy had informed him that the bus driver had it. Once it was verified that it was his phone he was certainly happy to receive it in one piece.

And all the while that light was green and not a single beep from drivers behind the bus.

Don't You Hate...

Don't you hate people who can't admit they've made a mistake or done something wrong? I realise that I'm not perfect here and will deny all responsibility for something until evidence to the contrary is in my face. But really, people, how difficult is it to driver properly.

Take this afternoon. Just now in fact. You follow a 4WD turning off the main road and he indicates. Then he wishes to make a lefthand turn to the first driveway available, slows down and fails to indicate thereby blocking the road for the driver behind him. Once it became obvious that he was turning I gave him a beep. Not a long, loud beep to indicate that I think he is a complete pratt, just a short one to indicate something dangerous has occurred. Hey, that's the only reason you are allowed to use the horn for anyway. What's the first thing the driver did? He stuck his arm out the window and gave me the bird. No guilt on his behalf. If it's so difficult to use a blinker to turn left why did he manage to use it for the previous righthand turn?

That's something that irks me about Perth drivers. I imagine that it is no different in any city of a reasonable size. People are too lazy to do the right thing and have no thought for others.