I was watching the stampede of shoppers on tv, all shopping like crazy on Black Friday, the traditional start to the Christmas shopping season in the US. Stores usually offer discounts to entice Christmas shoppers at this time.
That's what a financial crisis in the US looks like?
One lady's comment jumped out at me. When interviewed, she said something to the effect of, "The country's in recession now, so we are thankful for whatever good sales we can get."
Madam, if you really think you are in a recession, perhaps you may want to consider another economic strategy. It's called stop shopping, save your money, and live with less.
Nice to see a cycling event like the OCBC Cycle Singapore happening February 22nd 2009 but wah lau eh, the entry fees!
I understand if you are charging for the professional races but $34 to $63 for a 20km leisure ride? Isn't that a little expensive for a mass riding event? Is the LTA charging ERP for bikes that day or what?
The 40km event costs between $58 to $93 and the 50km Super Challenge category ($156 early bird) requires qualification even. It's not like that's a century ride or something really far, but there you go.
Meanwhile, those of us regular riders with less-than-deep pockets can ride from the F2 Carpark at East Coast Parkway, all the way to Changi Village, a very pleasant and FREE 17km ride. 34km if you ride both ways, plus get some really nice breakfast at Changi Village hawker centre.
I am undecided about participating. I might do so, just for the novelty of it, and if they really close ALL the roads on the route. Not that I haven't ridden on the roads myself but it would be nice for the wife to experience it without her being terrified by the traffic.
Of course, I have to confess that I spend $90 on my night cycling light alone, so who am I to talk about prices, right?
I do like playing with the crank on their website though. That one still free.
This one is quite fun to do. Post it here in the comments section or at your own blog.
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 57.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence along with these instructions in a note to your wall, and post your sentence in a comment here as well. Include the title of book and author.
"Change at the limits of the Antiplot may explode into a cosmic joke: MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL."
Bad news in the economy, millions lost by town councils, major retrenchments - let's not cover such depressing news. Or Singaporeans may think we are really in a real recession instead of a, ahem, technical one.
So let's watch five to ten minutes of interviews of stranded passengers at Changi airport and ask their opinion about their flights being canceled.
"Excuse me, how do you feel about your Bangkok flight being cancelled? A) Sian B) Sibei Sian C) &@%!$*# Sian."
And what is also interesting to note is that in this news report, there are two mics used, with four logos on them, which all belong to ONE tv company.
Just when you thought the Bangkok story is done, as they cut to commercial and some news item about a minister launching some save water exhibition no one gives a shit about... the Bangkok airport news makes a comeback, in the form of interviews with travel agents.
Ok, ok, we get it. Don't go Bangkok. Now please cover some news Singaporeans care about.
Almost every local I have met tells me to take only Gamya and Blue Bird cabs. Yes I know, Blue Bird in Hokkien is, tee hee. Blue Birds cost more but are recommended.
Apparently, many of the other taxi companies are less than clean and very often smell bad. So avoid the smelly cabs.
The only other halfway decent cab competitor to Blue Bird are the white Express cabs. Express cab drivers keep their cabs clean because they get to own it after 5 years, it seems. But many say they will still swear by Blue Bird only.
Do make sure you see that the Blue Bird logo is on the cab door, because there are many pseudo-blue cabs around too.
There have been cases of cab drivers from less than reputable companies driving passengers into dark places to be robbed by accomplices dashing into the cab, so be careful.
Jakarta really needs a subway or some form of mass rapid transit, man. The Bus Rapid Transit they have seems to be bursting at the seams and unable to cope. I hear locals avoid taking the buses too, if they can afford to. Pickpockets and fighting gangs of boys are common, it seems.
We were driving around Jakarta and I learned that Metro buses are the kings of the road and drive any way they like. If you get into any car accident, just tell the insurance company a Metro Mini bus caused it. Even if you had crashed into a wall, just say it was a Metro Mini bus. The insurance company will not ask any questions.
Motorbikes and mopeds in Jakarta are psychic. They will move off at the traffic light a good 10 to 15 seconds before it turns green in their favour. Either that or they are riding in a different timezone.
The most exciting vehicles though, are bajaj (pronounced Bah-Jai). These 3-wheeled scooters are only for the brave and adventurous. Only the bajaj driver and God knows when a bajaj is going to suddenly turn or swerve.
There is supposedly a three-person rule during peak hours to deal with the traffic jams in Jakarta. You must have at least 3 people in the car during morning and evening peak hours in the city. You can avoid this by engaging the help of "jockeys". These people will sit in your car for a small fee, so that you can fulfill the requirement. As long as you do not mind a stranger in your car.
I just moved into my Club Suite in Borobudur Hotel, Jakarta, which I booked using hotel booking site, Wotif.com. Wotif, an Australian company, has been a kind sponsor for this trip and the last US trip.
Borobudur Hotel is modeled after the famous Borobudur temple at Jogja. I found it funny that I am staying in a hotel named after a famous Buddhist temple, and from my room, I can see the biggest Mosque in Southeast Asia (the Istiqlal) and the gorgeous Roman Catholic Cathedral, St Mary’s Cathedral.
Wotif also arranged the villas in Bali for the wife and me.
I really enjoyed using their website to look for hotels. Used it last month for the US trip too but they are particularly good for Asia. Here are some of the Asian cities they provide hotel booking for:
One of the nice features is the Maps function (not all locations have that yet though). At one glance, you can see where the hotels are relative to the city. Booking via their site has been painless. I also liked the ability to add search terms like "free wifi", which as you know, is like oxygen to internet junkies like me.
And in case you think I will only say nice things about sponsored hotels, I plan to be totally honest about the places I stay in. If it is nice, I will say so, and if it has flaws, I will let you know too.
For example, Borobudur Hotel, love your the full cable tv selection but find some way of getting internet into ALL your rooms, ok?
""I think it is becoming a typical Indonesian thing. Indonesians like to get together, so it is natural that they would want to meet each other off line," Enda Nasution said.
A guest blogger from Australia, Anthony Bianco, said he rarely saw bloggers come together in his country.
Bianco was among the five foreign bloggers invited by the Tourism Ministry as guest speakers. The other speakers included Mark Tafoya from the U.S., Jeff Ooi from Malaysia, Mike Aquino from the Philippines, and Mr. Brown from Singapore,. The guests traveled to Yogyakarta and Bali before attending the Pesta Blogger event Saturday."
It is the day after Pesta Blogger 2008 and most of the international bloggers flew back in morning flights. Anthony Bianco and I met up with Herni, my friend from my East-West Center USA seminar, and we had a nice morning walking at Bogor Botanic Gardens, an hour and a half's drive from Jakarta.
It was a nice wind-down from the last few hectic days of sightseeing. The Bogor park is huge and very pleasant. I will have a video up soon.
After lunch, Herni brought us to her fave massage place at Puri Imperium, where Anthony tried foot reflexology for the first time. The masseuses were laughing amongst themselves at how good this "bule", or westerner, could take the pummelling on the soles of his feet. They were impressed.
Normally, they told us, it is the Americans who squeal like little girls when they try foot reflexology. "Strong Australian," they laughed.
Anthony totally enjoyed himself and felt way more relaxed. A nice end to his trip, as this was the last thing he had time to do before his evening flight.
Sigh. He is the last bloke to fly off. I'm feeling a little sad and I'm going to miss all my Pesta Blogger friends.
A visit to the oldest harbour in Jakarta and where boats travel the Indonesian islands with goods. This port located in North Jakarta was used by the Dutch in the colonial days. I got to board one of the phinisi ships to see how the seafarers lived.
The ride to Borobudur was an hour and a half from Jogja. The Buddhist temple built around 800AD took 100 years to build and 10 years, 1973 to 1983, to restore.
According to a stone plaque there, many nations contributed to the restoration fund and I am proud to say, Singapore contributed too. I think we paid for one of the toilets in the visitor centre.
We climbed the three terraces to the top as Roy, our guide told us the stories behind the temple panels which illustrated the story of Prince Siddharta Gautama's path to becoming The Great Buddha Sakyamuni. I cannot imagine the painstaking work that must have gone into each panel to tell that story.
We, the modern man, take so much for granted. We have Powerpoint slides with tacky canned art to use these days. They only had rock and chisel.
Maybe that's why the work of ancient craftsmen stood the test of time and became one of the Wonders of the World, while we delete our Powerpoint slides after a day at a presentation.
There is nothing like viewing Yogyakarta from a becak, or trishaw. We rode through the streets in the wonderful cool evening, after rain, while our friends from the Jogja blogging community followed us. Great fun.