Sunday, December 31, 2006

My day in Johor Baru

Our trip to Johor Baru today was most enjoyable. The drive into JB was quick and trouble free. Surprisingly the traffic to JB was very good and within half an hour we were in Malaysia. Today is the Haj holiday and there were fewer vehicles on the road.

We visited our house in Saleng and then proceeded to shop at Giant supermarket for groceries and fruits. Bought a pair of cordless telephones for our Singapore home. I think we went a little overboard and spent nearly RM400 at Giants, more than our usual shopping bill. Some items purchased are for UK but most are for Singapore consumption.

After Giant supermarket shopping we proceeded to Carrefour along Jalan Terbau. Bought a few items from Carrefour. Carrefour has a wider range of products we usually buy from Giant and we found that it is cheaper too. We have decided that our future grocery shopping will be from Carrefour instead of Giant.

On our return journey to Singapore we stopped at Pelangi shopping mall. We could not find a decent restaurant for our New Year Eve celebration dinner. Bought a few hooky DVD and continued our journey back to Singapore.

Our New Year Eve celebration dinner was at Clementi Food Centre - we had Singapore Laksa!!!

Selamat Hari Raya

I would like to wish all muslim readers of my blog Selamat Hari Raya.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Singapore Off-Peak Car

Just read in the papers that Singapore cars that have off-peak registrations are not allowed to enter Johor during peak hours. Off-peak cars are only allowed on the Singapore roads during periods between 7 pm and 7 am the next morning and from 3 pm on Saturday through to 7 am on Monday. I guess these restrictions will also apply to Malaysia from January 1 2007. With that in mind, it looks like we will be able to use our off-peak car in JB only during weekends. However this will be a problem as we will need the car to visit Malaysia utility offices to pay utility bills. Such offices are closed during the weekends.

Well, we will have to think about solving this problem soon.

Tomorrow is Sunday and that means we are allowed to enter Malaysia with the car. Plan to do a little shopping at Giant Suprmarket and also a visit to Terbau City. Lunch will be at one of the restaurants in Terbau City.

My life in Singapore

My life in Singapore cannot be called dull, but on the other hand I wouldn’t consider it interesting either. To live in Singapore I have come to the conclusion that one has to understand the mentality of the people. There are many good and gracious habits of the Singaporeans and there are as many ugly aspects one encounters here too. To have a happy life here one must learn to “ blend in “. I certainly do not mean that one has to bring oneself down to the level of some ugly sides of the Singaporeans, but one has to learn to accept that it is the norm here. If one cannot accept this concept then it is better to stay clear of this little “ red dot “.

The longer I remain here in Singapore, the more I find life bearable. In the beginning I was constantly at odds with certain behavior here, where in a civilize society one would take as rudeness. Here are but a few of the what I call unacceptable behavior one encounters in a day to day life in Singapore.

Queue jumping – this is a norm. Singaporean must be first in everything; hence they are always looking for ways to be ahead.

Loud – Singaporeans speak loudly in public places. Noise pollution or courtesy to neighbours is an alien concept.

Never give way – if you see a Singaporeans walking towards you and without avoidance would result in a crash, you better give way or there will be a crash.

Rude drivers – Singaporeans like to be considered as citizens from a first world country. The way they drive, they might as well come from a third world African state.

Money grabbers – To Singaporeans money is God. There is no other more important item in the whole world that even comes close in importance as money is to the Singaporeans. There is a saying that Singaporeans would sell their mothers for money; however, I personally think that that is going too far.

Ungracious – You seldom hear a Singaporean say thank you when you hold the door open for them or when you allow them to pass before you. However, I tend to put that down to the Singapore way and not rudeness through intention.

I very seldom see young Singaporeans offering seats to the elderly or the needy in public transport or anywhere else for that matter.

Of course there are many good points about the people of Singapore. Surprisingly I am unable to think of any right at this moment. When I do, I will publish them in my blog at a later date.

Monday, December 25, 2006

My Hometown Segamat Flood

The torrential rain over the past week has taken a toll on many low areas in Malaysia. Unfortunately, my hometown of Segamat in Northern Johor has been badly affected. The town was completely cut off for 2 days. Roads into and out of Segamat were submerged in many feet of water.

Many buildings including shops and residential houses in the newer part of town have been flooded. Some relatives of mine have had to be evacuated because their residences were under 3 to 4 feet of flood water. Electricity and water supply to the affected areas have been cut due to cable and pipe damage. In certain areas these essential services have not been reinstated.

It is sad to see so much damage and suffering cause by nature. Thankfully the worst is over as the rain has stopped. Clearing, cleaning and repair work can start now that the water has receded. The highways into and out of town are open and hopefully life can get back to normal again.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

KL and Back

Tuesday 19 December 2006 was a bad day for driving up the North-South Highway from Singapore to KL. The drive was pretty slow due to the heavy downpour practically all the way. Started the journey from Singapore at 9.30 am and by the time we got to the Malacca junction it was almost 12.00 pm. As we were in no hurry to get to KL, we decided to make a detour to Malacca town for lunch. We looked for and found this lovely peranakan dining place and had a delicious lunch. The lunch was certainly worth the detour.

After lunch we continued our journey north toward KL. The rain continued to be heavy so the remainder of the journey was slow. We got to KL at about 4.00 pm. Owing to the heavy rain of the day, we later found out that a great part of Johor has been flooded including our hometown Segamat. All roads in and out of Segamat were impassable. Our town has been completely cut off.

Mandarin Oriental was our hotel. Situated right next to KLCC and the Twin Towers it was conveniently located for shopping and food. During our 3 days stay we did our usual tour of KLCC, Bintang Walk and Imbi Plaza. Food was always good in KL. Bak Kut Teh for breakfast, noodles for lunch and dinner at the Overseas Restaurant.

The last night was special. I got to meet up with Onn again. Onn my friend from my school days back in Segamat was kind enough to arrange for the dinner at Fattycrab Restaurant. He also arrange for me to meet up with Chin Moh, Soo Leng and Yok Yin. The best part was I got to meet his charming wife Julina. It was a wonderful dinner and a pleasant trip down memory lane.

We will be making another trip to KL in the new year and I hope to be able to see all my old friends again, especially Onn and Julina.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur my favourite city in Southeast Asia. It is nowhere as clean and orderly as Singapore, but unlike Singapore it has character. One feels alive when in KL. At least here one does not get the feeling that "big brother" is watching you wherever you go. A more relax atmosphere and a fantastic place for R and R.

Food in KL is far superior than that found in Singapore and far cheaper. Shopping in KL is better and cheaper and a totally more interesting experience.

The KLites are friendly unlike the majority of Singaporeans. Here you see smiling faces instead of the "I do not care" stares one gets with the Singaporeans. Malaysian are a friendly lot and it is always a pleasure being in Malaysia. Coming across the causeway from Singapore into Malaysia is like a breath of fresh air.

I am traveling to KL tomorrow. I am all packed and looking forward to a few days in KL. Ofcourse I am a little bias, I was born in Malaysia.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A day in Johor Baru

Today we decided to go to Johor Baru in Malaysia. Started early at 6.15 am hoping to beat the usual heavy traffic at the immigration check points in Singapore Woodlands and also in Johor Baru. Unfortunately as it is the end of year school holiday in Singapore there was already a long queue at the Causeway when we got there at 6.35 am. We managed to get into Malaysia at 8.00 am. Proceeded to Senai where to stop for our usual breakfast of wonton mee and coffee. Got to our Senai house at 9.00 am only to find that the water supply to the house had been terminated owing to non-payment of water bills. On top of that, we received a letter from the sewer department of Senai summoning us to court for non-payment of sewer charges. As the house had not been occupied there should not be any sewer charges. A visit to the sewer department soon solved the problem and procedures has been started to rectify the anomalies.

Stopped at our usual Malay fruit seller for our supply of fruits. Bought some mangoes and pineapples.

Visited the water department to pay the fine and outstanding charges but as there was a long queue waiting to be served when we got there we decided to pay the fine another day and at the same time apply for reconnection.

The rest of the day was spent at the Holiday Inn Plaza and Terbau City. At Holiday Inn Plaza, Dianne my wife, visited the hair salon for a hair cut while I shopped around for the latest hooky DVDs of the latest movies. I found 11 movies for a mere RM66 ( approx 9 GBP ). Also bought a little USB fan for the laptop. Now I can keep cool while working on the laptop.

Lunch was at the Meritus Meridian. It was a buffet lunch. It was delicious and a mere RM85 ( 12 GBP ) for both of us.

Terbau City was for shopping. Dianne bought a few blouses and a handbag. We shopped for groceries at Jusco. Bought some soft coconuts and a box of doughnuts for Ivan and Kenny ( brother-in-law’s boys ) and then proceeded home to Singapore.

Return journey was traffic free and we got back at 9.00 pm after dropping off the coconuts and doughnuts for the boys.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Back in Singapore

Now back in Singapore. Winter has arrived in the UK. When we left on Sunday December 10 the weather was grey and wet. It was a typical winter day. Can’t say I am not glad to leave the wet wintry weather. However, not that I am here in Singapore, I am not too sure I am going to enjoy the heat and the humidity. Anyway I am going to be here for the next two months so I better get used to this weather.

Heathrow on December 10 was a total disgrace. Chaos was everywhere. Owing to the extra security measures at the airport, the queues through security checks were a total shamble. The people who came up with the way passengers were handled should be ashamed of themselves.

All passengers after check-in were told to queue in a holding tent outside the terminal building. The queue formed was around 250 people in length. Then there were the constant calls for people with earlier gate closing time to come forward to join a priority queue. We had 4 hours to spare before our gate closing time, so we were classed as low priority and hence constantly pushed back to the end of the queue. We finally got to the security checks with only minutes to spare before the gate to our flight closes. It took us 4 hours from the time we joined the queue to boarding our flight. It was not the best day for UK with so many frustrated world travelers seeing the ugly side of a very angry and disappointed mob.

The journey from home in UK to home in Singapore took us a total of 24 hours. It was a long day!! The flight was OK. We were in Economy class on this trip so there were no luxuries. BA has never been known for comfort. Food was of the usual airplane variety. BA cabin-crew was OK but one could see that the aircraft has seen better days. The toilet furniture were old and needed repair. One of the toilets had a broken seat and the panel behind had been glued to hide a crack. The seat I was in had a broken headphone socket with sound coming only from one earphone. Well BA is noted for safety and maintenance of its aircrafts. Let’s hope that although the aircrafts are old, they are well maintained.

First day in Singapore, the weather is considerably warmer than that in UK. Looking forward to a trip to JB this Saturday and a few days in KL next week. In January we have booked a few days in Phuket.