Friday, February 29, 2008

Leaping To Flight

Another work week came and gone. Last weekend was great, this weekend will be historic.

Today, 29th February is a special day. Not only that it is a Friday, my favourite day of the week, it is also payday... on a day that makes a leap year!

All is good and I am thankful, but tomorrow will be a great day for 5 of us. Mom and Dad, Wifey, Sonny and me are going on a historic flight.

Singapore Flyer under construction in Oct 2007

Well, not on board SIA's Airbus A380 after the Singapore Airshow 2008 fascination with Boeing and jumbo jets, but a shorter flight of about 40 minutes... on board Singapore Flyer.

Being 165 metres in height or 40 storeys high, it is currently the tallest wheel in the world, until China builds their higher version of what started of in Briton as the London Eye at 135 metres.

I bought the tickets online as soon as they were made available almost a year ago. The tickets finally came mid this month to my relief after waiting for so long.

Singapore Flyer marks the skyline from The Esplanade in Nov 08

Since the structure rose above behind the tall trees, it was difficult to not notice its towering presence whenever one passes by, as it claims its mark on that part of our island's skyline.

This afternoon, I made a call to my parents to remind them again that the waiting time is over, it is time for them to get dressed tomorrow and be ready for me to fetch them from their home on the 4th floor in Woodlands to the revolving 40th storey overlooking Marina Bay.

Where the biggest wheel in the world is spinning its magic on our family and many more people on opening day tomorrow.

Singapore Flyer Site Camera photo on 29 Feb 2008

Flight of Fancy no more. This is the real deal. A historic one for us. We are leaping for new heights on 1st March 2008... please don't rain.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sizzling Hot Show

Singapore Airshow 2008 at Changi Exhibition Centre

Yes, Singapore Airshow 2008 was a triple-rating hot show indeed.

Hot. The weather was perfect, bright and sunny.

Hot! One hour queue in an open field for the shuttle service.

Hot. Newly built exhibition centre, huge and lots to see.

Two out of three hot stuff is not bad, but the waiting in the hot sun melting, almost spoiled our day out.

Airshow Pickup Point at Pasir Ris MRT Station

"For 20 bucks each, I didn't know they threw in a workout and sauna too." I joked with Wifey and our Son... henceforth calling him Sonny, while walking in the queue with hundreds others, around the Pasir Ris MRT Station and then into the zig-zagging lanes out in the open field in the hot afternoon sun.

We were expecting crowds, lot of people, but did not expect the queue to be out in the open field under the hot sun... what happen if it rains instead?

For S$20.00 per adult, I believe the organizers would definitely be able to afford large tents and a better organized queue holding area... rain or shine.

For that ticket price, I was expecting a goodie-bag given out at the entrance of the show-grounds... or at least a bottle of mineral water, but I was silly to think so. No door-gift, no souvenir.

Crowd watching Aerobatic Displays outside Hall 6

Fortunately, like any commercial exhibition, there were free gifts from some of the exhibitors up for grabs... and the people grabbed as many.

Seriously, there were about 90,000 people who came to the air-show as the newspaper reported and those who gulped down and eat overpriced drinks and food. Some tents at the pickup point would do justice.

The highlight of the show with most visitors was definitely the Airbus A380. Wifey was so excited that as soon as the aerobatics display ended at 1:45PM, she rushed us to see the static exhibits especially a chance to board the A380.

Airbus A380 flight during Aerobatic Display

There it was, a flying giant grounded for all to awe at the human marvel to successfully realize a humongous flying machine... and that was about it. To witness in awe at it and never get a chance to board the plane at all... unless you are a paying passenger to Sidney, Australia or London on SIA.

The sign inside the barrier stated "By Invitation Only."

"What?!" Wifey exclaimed, "Why can't we get to see inside?" puzzled, but sounded mostly disappointed.

Wifey posing with outside A380 instead

"Yeah!" I agreed in support, "I wanted to try the bed..." I joked, "swipe some cutleries..." No respond. Yep, a very disappointed Wifey.

So, she got to stand at the middle of the tarmac and had her photo taken with the Airbus... from the outside. Good enough. Next!

One bright orange helicopter exhibit from Advance Aviation was particularly inviting. No barriers!

So visitors got to view it up close, touched it too but short of going into the cockpit. Timely enough, everyone was asked to moved outside the yellow line as it was taking off just after Wifey and Sonny got their photo taken with its door opened.

Another was the Republic Of Singapore Air Force Hercules Helicopter exhibit. We got a chance to board it and I got to explain to Sonny my heyday as a medic in the army.

Several times in our live exercises, we got to load casualties into the copter and taken for a ride to another location in a casualty evacuation-simulation exercises.

I could go on describing the static displays one at a time, but even I do not want to bore myself to sleep, so I will not.

Basically, I was happy to be there and ogled at the human marvels up close. The photo opportunities were more than satisfy me for the day.

Wifey redeemed her disappointment when she got to bag as many insignia badges, nylon carriers, pen-holder sleeves made from the same material as with mouse-pads... and a dozen different colored pens from different exhibitors there.

She enjoyed collecting them so much, it was scary. She made it sure, it was worth the 48 bucks spent on the tickets on three of us.

Nonetheless, she could not resist but to buy a S$16.00 Aviator Teddy Bear with a Singapore Airshow 2008 pin on it.

Sonny was a little disappointed he did not get a signed autograph poster from any of the aerobatics display pilots... but soothed when we get to buy the Airbus A380 1:200 scale model for S$60.00.

The queue for the shuttle bus home was another long-drawn-out story all together.. expectedly so, since there were an exodus of thousands of people going home at the same time.

One thing everyone would agree with... everybody had lots of sizzling hot pictures and sharp tan lines.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Putting On Airs

Friday is the best day of the week. My joyful prelude to maximizing my kick-back and relax enjoyment factor on weekends.

Finally purchased my eTickets on my iMac, successfully.

Set a date on Sunday, 24 February 2008 with family for the Singapore Airshow 2008. Touted as Asia's largest air-show with aviation largest players - military, commercial and aerospace come together to one spot with all the high-flying technology to boast.

S$20.00 each for Wifey and I, S$8.00 for our Son who is 12. Paid online and printed the eTickets, ready for the show and exhibition that is open to public only this weekend. It starts at 9:30AM till 5:00PM.

Wifey's highlight of the show is to get into the Singapore Airlines Airbus A380. It should be interesting to see what luxurious comfort the airline can offer to those with lots of money. Our Son's interest is with the high-tech military gadgets and fighter jets that will be on display.

For me, I am just happy to have this outing with them as a family. Well, alright... I want to see the aerobatic flying display that will start at noon and ends one and a half hours later... among other technological advancements in the aviation history with their static displays.

Seriously, I love to experience new things with them together. It feels so much sweeter and more memorable... with photos, lots of photos. That reminds me... to charge the Camcoder batteries. It will then be my first post with video clips on my blog... cool.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Opitome Of Tolerance

Changi General Hospital Atrium at Simei

There should be an award for Wifey.

She would also make a great undercover agent who will not break-down under interrogation. Her tolerance for pain is... superhuman! I am her total opposite. I squirm like a little girl when I am sick. I am ashame.

Her level of tolerance for the asthma-cum-rattling-phlegm condition she has been having is super high, up there, it drives me crazy... every night!

She has been suffering this condition nightly, even after the second visit to the doctor's. Runny nose, constricted chest and blobs of phlegm kick-start like clockwork when evening comes.

After the third day with such a severe symptom and with no led-up, should be a good indication to me to give the doctor another visit, fast. Instead, Wifey tolerates the sleepless nights of relay between the bed and sink... with an after-effect of headaches the next day, most certainly from the amount of sleep she... well we, have been having... or lack of.

She promised to go the doctor yesterday, but by afternoon, she was still at home when I called from the office to check. "We'll go tonight after dinner, OK?" was her answer. Another night?!

That was it! Enough is enough.

"With such a terrible condition you've been having all these nights," I told her the first thing when I reached home "we should go to the A&E instead." I was referring to Changi General Hospital outpatient clinic.

She was able to dodge the conviction I made last night. She had a monstrous headache on top of that, that made her unable to make the trip to the A&E. It was the perfect time I thought when all the symptoms were out in full Technicolor for the doctor to witness.

Again, I was short of either calling the ambulance and shock the neighbors in the wee hours of the morning or fireman-lifting her to the A&E myself.

So last night was just like the nights for the past week. Her pilgrim from the bed to the toilet sink throughout the night was done religiously. I was awoken several times too and had trouble getting back to sleep each time.

This morning, I fell asleep as soon as I woke our Son up for school at 6:00AM. He almost left home with an empty stomach. Fortunately, the security front door alarm sounded when the door opened. He drank his hot cup of Milo espresso brewed-up in a quick second, standing at the front gate before he left.

I said it once too many times and I say it again. Wifey will not go to the doctor on her own. She will tolerate the sufferings than seek medical treatment.

I ask this once too many times and I ask it again. Why?! Still puzzled and remained unanswered. It drives me crazy.

I feel her pain, but last night was the last straw that broke the camel's back. Being a light sleeper, her consistent "touch the sink then back to bed" routine kept me awake with a headache that followed in the day. And I am a morning person!

Triage Waiting Area

Like Ground Hog Day, I seem to relive the same routine all over again. Take urgent leave off work and get Wifey to the doctor.

Today, is CGH A&E at 10:30AM. Screened for fever with a thermometer in Wifey's ear and just like the movie Predator, both of us were screened for SARS like-fever with the alien-looking heat-detecting images on the monitor screen, before we were led-in to the registration counter.

Gladly there was no queue, so we were served immediately and seated at the Triage Waiting Area for half an hour before her name was called for a first-level assessment of her condition.

Another half an hour later, our queue number 4689 flashed. A young male doctor attended to Wifey with me tagging along in Consultation Room 4. A stronger dosage Ventolin inhaler and Oxymetazoline Nasal Drops before she gets a specialist appointment at the hospital in March at 2:10PM.

Wifey having lunch at CGH Houseman Cafeteria

So it is a date then, Monday 10 March 2008. I will be taking the afternoon off to be with Wifey . I hope she gets well sooner so we both can sleep peacefully ever after... errr at night.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Backyard Retreat

Deep in my soul, I am still a kampong boy.

Living in the fast-paced metropolitan Singapore, I still yearn to go back to nature, back to my age of innocence. I have this need to go back to the simple basics amid all the high-tech stuff and modern conveniences surrounding my daily life which I love and seem cannot do without.

My childhood days in the village where I lived and grew was amid natural surroundings. It was a wonderful period in my life as I have always remembered it to be. Perhaps the good times were played in my mind too many times and had exaggeratedly become ideal.

Nonetheless, these memories of living in tranquil natural settings have served me well in times of insanity and the daily rush to chase a better living.

I need to go back to nature to recalibrate myself... my senses and well being, my sanity. Vacations to far and beautiful places are great, but these are costly and thus are too far in between.

So I depend on my weekends to do just that. The only thing I needed were some special spots that I can call my Eden.

I figured that is one of the reasons I haul my family to the Changi Beach Park every so often. There is something about the body of water that calms me down... rejuvenates the senses when I am close to nature.

There is now another place even closer to home, practically in my backyard...

A stone's throw away, Mountain Biking Trail off Tampines Avenue 9 is where I have found another spot to momentarily escape from the city life. Though I would see passing cyclists zooming through the trails now and then, the most part of this place remains peaceful.

Once passed the gravel car park and into the trail entrance, I felt as if I had plunged into nature and its undisturbed rustic charm from the concrete jungle behind me. The place somehow felt reminiscent to my long lost village. My mind had left behind its insanity.

This time, without Wifey and Son. I ventured alone on my bike.

The trail was peaceful and quiet once I passed the Mountain Bike Obstacle Course. All I could hear were my breathing, the crisped ground as my bike crushed the dried leaves and branches. I heard birds chirping and sounds of insects calling amongst the shady eucalyptus trees and bushes.

Taking my time, I stopped at numerous spots along the trails that intersected each other. Soaking in the tranquility, like a child, I observed the carefree fauna. Snapping away with my trusted Lumix FZ10 Digital Camera, the intricacies of their forgotten lives brought home in this pocket of nature surrounded by urbanization.

Spending time in solitude, my mind was clear, my soul, happy. Something about intently listening to the sounds of leaves brushing against another in the breeze... something about watching the trees swaying from side to side calmed my senses. Nature at its simplest form. Nothing forced, nothing man-made. Just God's creations.

Beyond the eucalyptus "forest" are secret gardens.

One route led me to a clearing where model airplanes and helicopters enthusiasts congregate to pitch their skills with a controller in their hands. They broke the silence with man's replicated nature.

Another route a distance away led me to another clearing of winding trails up the hill. A biker's ground to scale the heights to the top, where where one can see the blocks of flat outside the fencing trees that guard the parameter of this Eden.

While Wifey still nursing herself with Korean movies and recovering from her recent asthma attack, our Son busy tapping his keyboard revamping his DANamic.ORG website in his room.

This Sunday was a great retreat for myself... back to nature in my backyard. It could not have been much simpler.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wait, Sarah McLachlan

Instructions To Play:
  1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, iPod etc. on shuffle.
  2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
  3. You MUST write that song name no matter how silly it sounds.
  4. The last song after question #20 will be your post title.
My Dopod C800 MP3 Answers:

1. If Someone says "Is this okay" you say?
Best I Ever Had by Verticle Horizon

2. How would you describe yourself?
That's The Way Love Goes by Janet Jackson

3. What do you like in a guy/girl?
If by Bread

4. How do you feel today?
Boston by Augustana

5. What is your life's purpose?
Superman (It's Not Easy) by Five For Fighting

6. What is you motto?
No Me Ames by Jennifer Lopez & Marc Anthony

7. What do your friends think of you?
Again by Janet Jackson

8. What do your parents think of you?
Breathe Easy by Blue

9. What do you think about very often?
Collide by Howie Day

10. What is 2 + 2?
Say My Name by Destiny's Child

11. What do you think of your Ex?
Wherever You Will Go by The Calling

12. What do you think of the person you like?
Must Get Out by Maroon 5

13. What is your life story?
A Little More Love by Olivia Newton John

14. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Solitaire by The Carpenters

15. What do you think when you see the person you like?
Anything For You by Gloria Estefan

16. What will they play at your funeral?
Three Times A Lady by Lionel Richie

17. What is your hobby/interest?
You Gotta Be by Des'ree

18. What is your biggest fear?
Shepherd Moons by Enya

19. What is your biggest secret?
Possession by Sarah McLachlan

20. What do you think of your friends?
Ice by Sarah McLachlan

My Reactions:
  1. I have to change #6 for my own good. First learn Spanish.
  2. I am afraid to be alone, but #14 is sometimes a good escape.
  3. I will haunt whomever played #16 at my funeral. Be warned!
Donna from Just Me did it and I thought it was fun... ny to try it too. Try it for yourself.

Friday, February 08, 2008

RATtling Good Time

A biker getting ready for some nature trail.

Today has been a journey full of discoveries.

Today, for the first time, I was led by our Son to get a spot for our midday Friday Prayers at Al Gufran Mosque. Being a public holiday, the mosque was packed and overflowed with worshipers onto the open field in front of the building.

All these years, whenever a public holiday falls on a Friday, I would coaxed our Son to go to the mosque for prayers with me.

Mats laid on the open field for Friday Prayers on a public holiday

Now that he is a teen in secondary school, he goes for prayers with his classmates every Friday straight from school. A whole horde of students normally occupy the 2nd and mostly 3rd storey of mosque during prayers.

He tried to lead me to his prayer spot on the 3rd floor, but there were just too many people already there that led us to the centre of the field to hear the sermon and prayer.

The hot day was frying everyone out there, but the occasional winds were much welcomed.

Still not enough of sun-tanning for us, we set of on our bikes to explore more places within the vicinity of Tampines where we live.

The most exciting place that I have always passed-by but never get to go beyond the tall lalang grass was unveiled to me finally this afternoon.

Son leading the Eucalyptus Biking Trail

Yes, led by our Son, we both ventured in, while Wifey stayed behind at the entrance under a cool shade of eucalyptus trees.

Beyond the small tarmac road was a gravel open space used for parking cars.

Across the car park was the actual entrance to what is now a reserved site by the National Parks as Mountain Biking Trail.

Nope. There is no mountain in Singapore, just hills where one can climb to the top within 20 minutes. And no, one does not have to be athletically fit to beat that time to climb either.

It gives you the perspective how flat this island is.

What is interesting about this place, is the fact that it started off as a forested area, full of eucalyptus trees and tall lalang grass, swampy in certain parts, with wild undergrowth.

Shelter and bike ramp at Bikers Obstacle Course

Biking enthusiasts started going off track to explore the place, and before long, a nature trail was paved as more bikers got to know about it.

They would spend hours inside and even made themselves an obstacle course, taking advantage of the undulating natural terrain.

Soon, the place became famous with bikers.

The National Park saw that it was a suitable and much needed venue for such a sport, it made it official with some development to make the place safer, yet remained rustic and natural for a rugged sport for the general public.

Shelter & runway for space for model airplane enthusiasts

Amazingly, in the centre of the biking trail is a large natural opening taken advantage by the model airplanes and helicopters enthusiasts to fly their toys at.

The National Parks made a simple runway and shelters for their added convenience.

I think the place has also potential to be bird watching site. I spotted egrets and local birds as we cycled along the trail.

Wifey cut our bicycle-rattling exploration short when she called me on my cell phone to turn back after she got bored alone at the entrance.

Continuing along our cycling route, there were just so many sights worth looking closer at. Things that when given time only then can we appreciate.

I kept snapping pictures as we cycled along until it was time to head back home for dinner.

Bathed, rested and refreshed, we headed... on a bus this time, out to Changi Beach Park for a night-picnic with the stars. Thank God it did not rain.

Son playing online a version of Tetris on his laptop via WirelessSG

Just like Pasir Ris Beach Park, this beach was also packed with clusters and clusters of overnight campers.

One cluster of campers saw 9 tents pitched in a semi-circle, with a sweet-smelling barbecued fish smoking the night air. The Malay family of several generations must have had a blast of a time together.

Bought our Seafood Fried Noodles and snacks, we spread a mat on the street-lighted beach for our dinner while the MP3 player blasted my favourite songs. We took it slow in the evening and just chill-out.

Today, we stopped to smell the roses... the morning glories, the barbecued foods. Made many more stops and did many more things which I have not enough of a talent to describe them eloquently.

We simply were just loving it!

Saturday tomorrow... yes!