I’m ok!

All the effort doctoring my Jetstar flight receipt was in vain. The bloody immigration officer didn’t even ask to see it this time. Can’t help but feel i was just a tad unlucky last time because the immigration officer was having a bad day.

Up and about early today but to no avail. I still don’t have transport to kupang yet and time is running out. Off to the Pelni head office now to see if they can help – they have a boat that goes but I don’t know if it will take cargo like a bike.

I know its possible because its been done before, but something tells me the ferries that operate between the islands are different to the Pelni boat.

No visa but I do have a fake return ticket

The Indonesian embassy in Singapore closed at 12. Whaat? Ok, I should have got out of bed earlier, but I though 9:30am was pretty good going.

Engaged my left brain and decided that given most ‘return tickets’ consist of a print out of the receipt from Jetstar, I could simply change the date on teh receipt I had for the flight here. Quick select and copy from Pdf to paint, change the monmth to from June to July and presto… I have a return flight.

I’ll update the blog tonight to let you know how it goes with Indonesian immigrassi.

Quote of the day

“Are you traveling to india to find yourself? No, good, because we indians have a saying – if white man look to find himself in India, India look to rip him off”.

Anindya Bose
PwC Singapore.

Best financial advice you will hear.

Adventures in Singapore

Long weekend here in Singapore, so not much happening with the bike at the moment. I’ve been really enjoying singapore, and seek to denounce the myth that it is a boring place! Although, the locals are tough nuts to crack.

Highlights so far:

  • A couple of argentinians and I talked our way into one of the luxury residences at Marina Bay on a very hot Saturday. We thought we were heading to a garden but should have realised it was a roof top pool and spa complete with underwater exercise equipment, water massage beds blah blah. Not sure the almost totaly expat community appreciated the ‘swimming costumes’ we revealed but we sure enjoyed the swim! The over-weight, hairy, but very hospitable indian hedge fund manager in the spa was more than happy to accomodate the Argentinians. Putty in their hands.

  • Star Inn, Little india. Afternoon naan bread, curry and big bottle of Tiger. Snooze, cricket or a bollywood movie. All for $8.
  • Chinatown night markets – randomly spotted Claire MClintock as she walked by. Unbelievably. Not naming names, but someone should have bought that fossil…
  • A couple of frenchies singing Edith Pilaf songs at 3am in the morning after playing drinking games. Entertaining.
  • Beers with Jonathan from Niger talking about Africa and Australia and everything in between.

What I don’t get about Singapore:

  • Clarke Quay. On first impression, its amazing. Then, after a while, it was just wierd. A complete rift existed between the different cultures that were there. I couldn’t really work out what was going on, but suffice to say it was an experience.
  • The economy – how the hell does it work. Obviously the construction industry and the millions of Indians, Malays and bangladeshies and others that work in it are integral but Government stimulus on its own can’t run an economy. The number of shopping centres and junk and consumerism is staggering and ridiculous. A local was telling me that the effective income tax rate is only about 8%, but rent is essentially a tax as all housing and land is owned by the government. Rent is supposed to be expensive but is actually comparable to Sydney. And we haven’t even started on the giovernments foreign asset ownership.

     The imposing Marina Bay Sands from teh rooftop of the Esplanade
    In the shadow of Marina Bay Sands
  • The class structure. The divide between rich and poor is not obvious, I’m assuming the slums are hidden out the back somewhere. But the government at least appears to be concerned about the ppl working here – with lots of information available for workers regarding their work rights. But nevertheless, teh fact is some ppl are working long hours, for little money doing menial jobs whilst others are working in the professional services sector and earning big bucks. Somehow, the place works. I just don’t know how.
Raffles Hotel

Traffic Control

To say Singapore is efficient is stating the obvious. Everybody has heard about the amazing public transport system, but I have found it goes a long way beyond just public transport. I have to deal with three organisations in order to get my bike to Dili, the Land Transport Authority (Think RTA, nationally), the Autombile Association of Singapore (Think NRMA, nationally) and DB Schenker.

I qued at the LTA for about 30 seconds, to speak to an information officer wbho directed my query and provided me with a que ticket. I waited about 2 minutes for my ticket to be called, the person I spoke to  listened, asked a few questions and knew exactly what I needed (Insurance, a Permit and an autopass). he provided me the address of the AAS and a slist of things I neededto obtain and explained the overall process. He also promised to look into the viability of export by ferry to Batam for me.

I qued at the AAS for about 30 seconds, spoke to an information officer who directed my query and provided me with a que ticket. I qued for about 5 minutes. The AAS provides the insurance and the ICP. Once I have these I can get the Autopass from the LTA and ride my bike out of customs.

I discussed my plan with the Denise at the LTA, who informed me that it was no longer possible to take vehicles on the ferry to Batam due to previous illegal importing/exporting through that route. We spent another 2.5 hours on her phone and internet trying to determine the best way for me to get my bike to Dili.

Then the Insurance quote came through. I was warned, insurance for a year can cost upto $6000 SGD for a standard car in Singapore! One weeks insurance cost would be $270! What a good way to ensure traffic control and make sure that there are not too many cars on the road, and that the cars on the road are paying there way. Now consider how much registration/insurance a singapore motorist is paying per KM of road that teh Singapore government has to pay for, and also the fact that alsmost all major roads are toll roads, charged on a KM travelled basis. Think about the ramifications if this principle was applied to Australia, where the road network is soooo marge larger. User pays works for me.

Eventually we got a hold of Mary Choo at Schenker who is now looking into forwarding the bike to Batam for me in order to avoid storage costs here in Singapore and avoids paying the insurance costs. Fingers crossed.

Singapore

I have arrived safely in Singapore! A little bit of a scare from the V Australia crew who delayed oproviding me my boarding pass to Singapore because I didn’t have a return ticket. Apparently they could be up for a $10,000 fine if I get rejected by Singapore customs. No fear there, the guy didn’t even ask to see my itinerary – all he asked is how long I wanted to stay for. When I said as long as possible he gave me a 90 day visa! Hopefuly unecessary, but with customs clearance who knows!

I’m staying at NJM’s old haunt, the Prince of Wales for a few days. Its a bit expensive but clean with free Wifi andbreakfast included.

I’m impressed with how easy everything is in Singapore. At 8:30pm at night I managed to find a new camera bag, get a price on some Kawasaki racks, put my phone in for servicing and locate the Land and Traffic Authority. Plus i’ve also identified that the nay-sayers on Singapore are totaly wrong (so-far), I have seen numerous ads for museums and art galleries since I arrived…

Good to see a few things swinging my way today. Not to mention the three Norweigian sisters I was sitting next to on the flight… shame they were flying back to Norway via Singapore, via Abu Dhabi via London. Spare a thought for them.

Renovations complete

The kitchen is complete! In fact, the whole renovation is complete! Thank heavans because i’m in Singapore! I had a lot of help getting the kitchen off the ground from Lassie Ng of Interior Arc and I can highly reccomend her work.

Check out the complete set of pictures on picaso, but here is a sample:

Kitchen Before

Kitchen demolition in progress

Floor sanding complete & varnishing in progress

Restoration of floors in master bedroom in progress

Sanding and varnishing of floors in progress

Russell drawing up his interpretation of the supporting beam that runs along the proposed breakfast bar wall, note the dedication represented but dust, plaster and writing materials consisting of blunt pencils and wood panel.

Close up of the new lights.v Purchased from Ikea with switches, cut down and installed with only one case of minor electrocution and multiple fuse meltdowns.

Demonstration of teh new curtains which are not white.

The Kitchen in semi-demolished, semi-operable status just prior to Ange’s departure.

The new (light) green kitchen wall
The previous owners poo brown feature wall re-painted to be consistent with all other walls.

Installation of the skeleton of the first Kitchen cabinet in the kitchen Alcove.

Working on the Le-Mans Cabinet for the 17th time.
The almost finished kitchen (I wasn’t happy with the splash-back edges)

The Le Mans in operation at last!

The new gas stove and combination oven/microwave/grill
Fixing the edges of the splashback
The new sink – double bowl in a 600mm cabinet. Don’t try it at home.

The electricians handy work
The Skirting boards deserved a special mention since they took nearly 9 months to complete.

The Architrave addition to make it all look in-built. 
The finished products (incl hand-crafted paintings)