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snippets of blackwings life

Visualisation of places I visited

Today, by reading some other tour blog, I found out, that quikmaps.com offers an easy-to-use service to draw lines, markers and whatsoever on GoogleMaps

Just yesterday GoogleMaps added local streetmaps for Singapore – better than the blurred sat-pics… Wanna know where I stay at the University? See here!

Because many people asked where I had been and what I did… So here is a first version containing some of my major trips. All the stuff I did in Singapore itself is missing – Not enough time to get it all in!

So: Enjoy the map!

P.S.: Today I will get to Thailand, to be more precise: Phuket Island in order to spend there some days for vacation… So: Merry Christmas! Stay tuned!

Christmas gift

This year I will not be at home for christams – and sending a christmas gift half around the world in order to transport it back some month later is just stupid. So I got just some monetary gift for christmas in order to get myself something useful. Guess what I thought about: Getting some cheap electronic gadget – Mainly because this stuff is a little cheaper around here.

The last few weeks I looked around the city in order to decide what to get. I finally decided to get an iPod Nano with 8gb storage. The official price of Apple is here at 439s$ (~ 216 euro), which is already around 33 euro cheaper than the German offer. Checking out the prices at popular places like Funan Center or Sim Lim Square showed prices as low as 408s$. But lower than 400 seemed to be impossible… So just yesterday I checked at 8flags, which is the official computer store of Nanyang Technological University. And they got a really nice price…. 365 s$ (= 179 euro)! And there was just one left… So I directly got a shiny new iPod nano for christmas. To make it clear: I would not have purchased an iPod nano for 249 euro, because this is way overpriced – But 179 is ok to me.

Actually I really like it, but probably I will get some better headphones… They really suck. But the rest is just nice!

One thing really annoyed me – It was not possible to play all podcasts in a row (like in an playlist etc). But thanks to some people in blogosphere that already got a solution: Just turn off the “shuffle” option. Then you can play podcasts in a row. With “Albums” or “Songs” it is not working…

Continous Rain from Sunday to Tuesday

Rainfall in Singapore December 2006As stated in the last post, it started raining on Sunday. Actually it did not stop the whole night til Monday having a thunderstorm every 3-4 hours. And when it was not a thunderstorm, it was just raining. Sometimes faster, sometimes a little slower. It was just continously raining from Sunday morning til Tuesday night – Way heavier than the whole-rainy-day-rain you get in Europe (eh Great Britain).

As seen in the news, there had been 345mm rain in the 20hrs of Tuesday! This is even for Singapore a lot – leading to heavy flooding in the central and northern area of Singapore. The record rainfall per day was in December 1978, when they had 585mm on one single day. Just to have an comparison: In Nuremberg there are just 623mm per Year! In Singapore usually has just 284mm of rain in December – but this year definitively more compared to last year and way more than exspected.

Today it is better – Blue sky again this morning. But there is some heavy thunderstorm to be exspected around afternoon…

EastCoast Park at a rainy Sunday

When I woke up it was already raining… And actually it did not really stop til sunset – Sometimes it rained pretty heavy, then seemed to stop and finally started again slowly. This has been the first really rainy day since I’m here.

East Coast ParkBut nevertheless: I made some appointment with some of my co-workers in order to get to EastCoastPark, to be more precise: To the East Coast Seafood Centre, a very famous Hawker Center featuring not only Seafood, but also many delicacies at reasonable prices. Oliver, a German student, who is also staying at NTU joined us on my invitation. So I met with him for the bus at 0945 in order to get to Dhoby Ghaut station on time (we were supposed to meet my co-workers at 1100). Of course we arrived late by some unknown (*cough*) reason – but this did not matter, cause the others got stuck due to a bus breakdown.

Finally we hit at East Coast Park around 13:00 – beeing really hungry, mainly because I left out breakfast (as usual). But it was worth waiting for: Beeing a group of 6, we ordered a huge stock of food: Excellent freshly barbecued Satay (Mutton, Chicken, Beef & Pork – of course with the usual rice-cake-cubes and cucumber slices) with an outstanding sauce, Oyster Omelett, Curry Laksa, Fishhead Curry, Chinese Barbecued Chicken Wings and Bak Kut Teh. Everything was really good – No wonder why this place is famous! Uh, I just forgot to mention: Another thunderstorm was coming, just when we were finished eating. Although we were already really full, we got some nice dessert: Ice Kacang and Rojak. It also took some time to finish up this stuff – But it started raining slower, so we left heading back to the city…

filed in on tour, singapore

Jurong Bird Park

Tropical Parrot at LoryLoftAfter sleeping pretty long I decided to get to the famous Jurong Bird Park. So I took the Shuttle Bus to Boon Lay and then the Bus 251 down to AYE / BoonLay where the Bird Park is actually located. Adminission fee is with about 16s$ quite high – but I assure you, it’s really worth paying this!

Besides many tropical birds in cages, they feature also a large stock of Flamingos, Pelicans and Tucans… But the way best part is the so called Lory Loft: An huge aviary with a rather countless number of parrots (and other rainforest birds) showing all colors of the rainbow. The birds fly around like crazy and you feel yourself in an: “Prepare for impact” mode…

(Artificial) Waterfall in Jurong Bird ParkBesides that that is a second pretty huge aviary where you actually walk through the rainforest ending up right in front of a (artificial) waterfall. By walking around you can spec a really huge number of birds being beautifully colored. Most Zoos in Germany cover a bird section – but this is really nothing compared to what’s shown here! Of coure, here there is no need for expensive climate control, heating and whatsoever. Just build a cage, throw some trees in there and let the birds in! Jurong Bird Park is a must-see when you get to Singapore!

filed in on tour, singapore

Sushi and Sashimi

Most of my friends know it already: Eeating weird & uncommon food is one of my hobbies. So I’m always on the run to catch nice food, which is seasoned the traditional way (and not the to-european-taste-adapted-way) and offers good value, meaning: low price for good quality.

Sashimi deLuxe Sushi is no more considered to be something really special, because it is widely available in Europe. But Sashimi are something, that is way harder to get in acceptable quality for a reasonable price. Last week we went to a very nice Japanese Restaurant close to Marina Bay. My co-workers took care of ordering – And they ordered well! Sushi was of extraordinary quality – definitively the best I ever had. The best part were the inside-out makis containing also the japanese-style mayonaise. But the Sashimi were absolutely mindbreaking – Excellently fresh and a wide selection of tuna, salmon, prawns and some other fish. Together with the fresh wasabi it was a real delight. Besides Sushis & Sashimi they ordered a large variety of Don, Noodles and Teriyaki. Altogether an excellent dinner.

Ura Maki To be honest: This place was really expensive for Singaporian standards – But really cheap compared to Germany. A selection like this would cost you a fortune, probably around 40 euro per person. Here it was about 22 sing$ (about 11 euro), which was absolutely OK for this meal. Probably I will get to this place again, because all the food was really good. Sushi is nice, but besides that the Japanese cuisine has way more to offer…

filed in on tour, singapore

Sunday Chillout at Sentosa

Unfortunately I felt not fit enough to go to ZoukOut at Sentosa on Saturday night (cause of my infection), so I got to bed quite early. As an immediate result, I woke up really early… At 8am. So what to do I though to myself… So I looked outside and saw the blue sky and sun was shing…. Hhm. Beachday!

Sentosa Palawan BeachAt about 9:20 I was at Siloso Beach at Sentosa unfolding my towell in the shade of a palm tree. After applying some sun-blocker (protection factor 30) I started reading. Current book is “Freakonomics” of Steven Levitt. Beach started to get crowded at around noon – By that time I decided to grab some food at one of the nearby restaurants. As last time it ended up in a sushi meal. So the rest of the afternoon I just did nothing but swimming, reading and so on… You might say pretty boring, but in respect to my infection this was probably the best thing to do. As beach refreshment I recommended fresh thai young coconut. Perfectly refreshing drink!

At around 1600 I was sick of beach and hit for Chinatown, to be more precise: People’s Park Complex. This hawker center is probably one of the most popular in Singapore. I finally got some Loh Mei, a south-chinese dish involving almost all kinds of seafood, fish and meat in a Laksa-like sauce – this was chosen because I had no idea what to get and this stall had the longest waiting Q. So I enqueued not knowing what I was heading for – They guy in front of me, who I asked what Loh Mei actually is said: “Uh ya like it. Like Laksa, but better, lah! Not knowing what you eat is Singaporian! You here longer?”.

After finishing this rather nice dish I decided to head for the dessert place in order to get some Herbal Jelly and Mango/Pomello paste.

filed in on tour, singapore

Wireless @ SG

Another week at work is over and so it’s weekend again. This saturday I was pretty smashed, cause I got some kind of infection during the week… So after sleeping pretty long I decided to get it going quite slowly and just enjoy some books & coffee at Marina Bay.

Ah, then I remebered: The free Wireless-Network of Singapore was just launched this week – So lets test it! After checking out the Government Website informing about this project, I continued to sign up at SingTel, packed my Laptop and hit MRT. To get you some details about Wireless @ SG: It is a project giving free access to the Internet, sponsored by the Government. Anybody can sign up and use one of the (still increasing) number of hot-spots all over the city. The project will be on for 3 years – After that it will be decided what to do.

So I logged into the 54mbit g-wlan at Marina Bay using the Login I got from SingTel and the Password that was sent to my mobile phone via SMS. Everybody gets a bandwidth of about 512kbit – But actually, when there is more available, you get more. First try was successful – and after establishing the VPN link everything worked as needed. Yeah, that’s a nice service. You don’t need ultra-high bandwidth – I think it is a good idea to limit the bandwidth per user, cause then kids wont waste it with filesharing junk and block access for applications like SSH. Thank you Singapore!

Arab Street

On this beautiful sunday I decided to go to Arab Street in order to catch some nice muslim food. So I got on MRT to Little India and decided to walk down. First I got a nice Mango Lassi at Tekka Market and so I walked down Serangoon Road in order to make a right towards Arab Street and the Muslim quarter of Singapore…

Around Arab Street & Sultan's MosqueAbout halfway between Little India and Arab Street there was a nice Flee Market of people selling almost everything: Cellphones, Shoes, Books… It was substancially crowded but was pretty funny to look at. After the next traffic light, I was sure to be in the arabic part: Muslim Food, different houses and of course: A glimpse view of one of the mosques nearby.
I first hit the Sultan Mosque, a really impressive building and actually the most important mosque in Singapore. After signing into the visitors directory I walked in and saw the nice interior – No photos allowed of course.

By just walking around I finally hit the Malay Heritage Centre, which is actually at Kompong Glam, where in the 19th century a Malaian Sultan was given place to stay during some obfusciating problems in his homecountry… (Eh, should read more historic stuff when blogging…). A friend of mine told me, that the museum there is rather boring, so I decided just to walk around the garden.

Rather hungry I hit some food place and had some pretty nice indian influenced malay muslim food. Altogether Arab Street is nice to walk around, especially when you get closer to the nearby Bugis Junction (uh, and when you are there…. Walk up to SimLim Square, the definitive “Mekka” for PC Part shooping. But be sure to know the prices!). All-in-all it took me about 3hours so I got onto MRT to get to Orchard, cause I was wanna to buy some books at Borders and relax with a Coffee at Starbucks.

filed in on tour, singapore

Mount Faber and Sentosa Oceanarium

Today I met Nina, the other intern at my company in order to get around Harbourfront. Actually, before that I got to SimLimSquare, the biggest mall for electronics in Singapore in order to get a RAM upgrade for my Laptop. After some searching I found a “Good, good last price, Sir!” – 167S$ for a 1GB PC2700 SO-DIMM of Kingston. Thats about 30€ cheaper than the German price. When you go to Sim Lim Square: Be sure to have the German price in mind! Don’t accept the first price they offer – and look around first! The shops at the 4th or 5th floor have better prices!

... Merlion. But lets get back to the topic – We met at 13:00 at Harbourfront. So first we walked up to Mount Faber, which is the highest “mountain” (haha 115m above sealevel!) in Singapore (as far as I know). From the top, you get a pretty nice scenic view of the central business district – and of Sentosa. … And again, there is a Merlion – The symbol of Singapor. We used the cablecar to get over to Sentosa – Yeah, it’s quite expensive (10S$), but the view is nice!

After hitting Sentosa we walked down to Siloso Beach in order to have some iced coffee… Siloso Beach is quite odd (as I mentioned in an older posting): A tropical beach with a nice view of the approaching container ships… But for an engineer this is really nice, it almost doubles pleasure *gg*. Our plan for today was getting to the Oceanarium. Because of the school holidays, there was a huge crowd waiting, but there was a special discount for students: 13S$ instead of 19S$! So we directly got in.

TouchpoolThe first thing we saw, was the “Touchpool”. Guess what you can do there – Yeah right. Touch a whole bunch of fish. Actually it was my first time touching a ray or a puffy fish (for my CBI fellows: remember fugu fugu?). Nina and me never saw something like this before – This was actually a experience which made it worth visiting this place! A blue-stained ray has a very slippery surface – Never thought about that! I think something like this will never be seen in .de – Because all these animal-have-rights people would just get crazy.
Tropical Fish At the lower level there was a tunnel under the main basin – Unfortunately it was so dark there that it was quite impossible to make nice pics. Especially because the fish moved pretty fast! It was very impressive looking at different kinds of sharks and wunderfully colored tropical fish – But watching all those fish made me hungry…

The admission for the oceanarium also included a free dolphin show at the lagoon, so we got on a shuttle bus to get there. it was really crowded but the show was worth it: Pink dolphins showing all kinds of tricks.

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