Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Cycling in Parliament

Well, not literally, though it's great to see the topic of cycling in Singapore being discussed in Parliament.

AsiaOne 10 Sept 2012

I came across this short article which proved to be quite an interesting read. Here are my after thoughts, some of which you may disagree with.
"Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim said that the total number of accidents involving cyclists has decreased by 17 per cent between 2008 and last year."
Misleading to say the least. Percentages and numbers can vary quite drastically.

Take for example in 2010, there were 25 cycling related out of 100 total road accidents.
-> 25 accidents involving cyclists.
-> 25% accidents involving cyclists.

And in 2011, there were 50 cycling related out of 250 total road accidents.
-> 50 accidents involving cyclists.
-> 20% accidents involving cyclists.

The percentage of accidents involving cyclists fell despite the number of accidents involving cyclists having actually doubled!
"He added that new dedicated cycling paths, which will separate cyclists from motorists and pedestrians, are currently being built in seven neighbourhood paths."
Sharing the road with cyclists can be a sticky issue for some. Dedicated cycling paths are certainly a good way to start, as long as cyclists on roads don't suffer the same fate as chewing gums!

The Park Connector Network (PCN) has grown leaps and bounds but it's still a far cry from connecting the island and facilitating inter town commute by bike. Until the PCN fully develops, banning cyclists on roads would be disastrous for bike commuters!
"In a bid to boost education in cycling safety, the Land Transport Authority will make new "Intra-Town Cycling" handbook available soon.The handbook will list good cycling etiquette and safety tips for cycling."

"The Traffic Police and Home Affairs Ministry are also studying measures to inculcate a safe road-sharing mindset among motorists and cyclists, and are reviewing cycling penalties to ensure that they reflect the severity of the offences."
It cannot be more true that there are cyclists out there that abuse their road rights. We've witnessed on more than one occasion, rampant cyclists that disregard rules and beat the red lights, hog lanes and weave about roads gangnam style, behaving as if they were kings of the road. Unfortunately, these black sheep give all cyclists a bad name. In times like these, it only takes one to tarnish any image. 

Education and awareness is definitely the way to go. But it's not just about cycling etiquette and safety tips for cycling. There is much more than that.

It's a total change in mindset, a radical change in culture and it's not just cyclists that need to be addressed. Drivers must be educated to know that roads are meant to be shared too. The misconception that paying road tax entitles you to rights on the road should really be dispelled once and for all. For the uninitiated, this is as true as pigs can fly. Paying road tax does not mean you pay for rights on the road. Cyclists, even though they don't pay tax, are as entitled to use the road. In fact, according to traffic rules, they are supposed to be on the road.

Plus the ignorant notion that cycling is just a hobby. It may be to you but to some, cycling is a form of daily commute, just like how cars get you to places, some prefer to ride their bicycles to their destinations. 

Education takes time but can be very effective. Just like how we were taught at a young age to share with the less privileged. I'm in no means implying that all cyclists are poor. The reality is that rather than being kings of the road, cyclists are more like the homeless, with the lack of rules, infrastructure and culture to protect them on the road. Road users honk them, pedestrians sneer at them.

And if there are to be harsher fines for cyclists, likewise, there should be stricter fines for motorists as well. It should really be both ways.
"Addressing cycling as a mode of transport, Dr Ibrahim said that while the Government will provide infrastructure for cyclists, Singaporeans are still encouraged to use the buses and MRT as the primary mode of transport."
I'm not sure why this should be mentioned at all. Can't help but get the impression that it's not a whole hearted effort to make cycling feasible, convenient and most importantly, safe for everyone.

In a nutshell, while infrastructure helps, the root problem lies within the mindset of road users who aren't willing to share the road. The best way to tackle this is via education, though this will take time. Until this is tackled, I'd say that we're still a long way from making Singapore a better place for cycling. Nevertheless, slow progress is better than no progress and at least there is some talk now.

Keep safe and ride on everyone.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Old is Gold

We attended a party for the launch of a vintage car showroom at McGuinness Classics Inc, Paraparaumu last evening.

I've always had the utmost respect for people with the knack for restoration. One man's scrap is another man's gold. Restoration is a form of art, one which may have been lost in today's fast moving advancing world, where many may prefer to buy new rather than fix old.

When we first arrived, we were greeted by a mega showroom of restored vintage vehicles. You don't have to live or breathe cars to be mesmerized by the beautiful cars on display that night.

Chevrolet 210 1957



Dutton Roadster 1985

Jaguar XJS 1987

Porsche 944 1983

This three wheeler caught our attention when it was started midway through the party and a massive roar was sent through the hall. 

Three wheeler with a motorcycle engine.

The Cadillac was one of our favorites. It was gorgeous and swanky, yet chic at the same time!

Gorgeous

Chic

Swanky

Plus you got to love the classic red leather.

Classic look

There was a nice truck on display too. Nice Tiffany blue.

Nice truck, nice colour

With the whole atmosphere and number of cars on display, I have to admit that there were moments when The Transformers tune seeped into my mind. I'm sure you can imagine how the cars might just come into life right?
 
Massive showroom with a huge collection of vintage cars.

It was a night of great music too. I always find it amazing how random individuals can come together, with different instruments, start jamming, unrehearsed and yet produce such fine music. Definitely a gift. 


This ensemble caught our attention with their interesting array of instruments, some of which were hand made out of recycled items like kitchen utensils and used glass containers.

There are plans to perform at the premiere of The Hobbit and we can understand why. Their "mystical " instrumental style of music will totally fit with The Hobbit.
 
Interesting array of instruments producing one sweet tune

It was our first time in a room with so many spectacular cars. It was an eye opener and we had good fun. Only pity was that there weren't any vintage bikes!

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Hungry Post

Few weeks ago, we received a parcel at our door step. We were expecting a parcel for a few bottles of beauty products but the box sitting there in front of us was way too big.

It turns out that Christmas came early and Santa Claus was a saint called Meowzhi.

Christmas came early

Just look at the stuff in there. We were spoilt for choice, like kids in a candy shop.

Treasure chest full of gold.

We did find our personal favorite, tip of the ice berg, creme de la creme - our most prized possession were in tiny orange vacuum packets. "Bak kwa" aka Barbequed Pork. Looks like jerky, tastes like bacon, only better.

We gobbled down almost half of it within a day. Instructions to heat up the packets in hot water before tasting seemed strange at first. Opinions changed quickly like magic. It's amazing how they taste like the real thing.

It certainly didn't take us long to realize that we had to practice some form of rationing if we wanted the goods to last through the year. Unless, there are other Santas out there that want to send us some more. :)

Our most prized asset.

Eating out in New Zealand generally costs a lot more compared to Singapore. A typical meal will cost around $10 i.e. an equivalent of the Singapore economical rice with three selections of dishes will cost about $8 here. It costs half that price in Singapore ($3 - 4).

While on a whole, they do cost more, the serving portions are also a lot more. In a sense, it evens things up. Nevertheless, we find ourselves experimenting more in the kitchen ever since our move.

Here are some meals that made it on cam. (The rest - we got too excited and dug in before reaching for the camera. I'm sure it has happened to you before too!)

Bak Kut Teh

Don't be fooled by the words "instant Laksa from Prima". With a bit of tweaking by adding your own tau kwa, egg and chicken, it actually tastes like the real thing even though it comes from a packet!

Laksa

We went global with Japanese curry and Taiwanese minced pork rice.

Japanese chicken curry with potatoes and carrots

"Ru Rou Fan"

And then there are the classics. Here is Gwyn's all time favorite - Fried Bee Hoon. It never fails to perk her up.

Char Bee Hoon

The classic sambal fried rice is always a good option. Sharon, you'll be happy to know that your sambal chilli has served us very very well!

Sambal Fried Rice

Old fashioned


We had a go at making some snacks too. This is one of my favorites, inspired by the Indian prawn fritters - the one with the prawn attached on top of the deep fried flour and you usually have it with a piece of green chilli.

Prawn Fritters

Chocolate cake to save any day.

My first attempt at baking.

There are days where we opt for western cuisines.

Pasta

Everyone loves a burger!

Home made patty burger

It's good fun trying out different recipes. We spend a lot more time in the kitchen over here then we would back in Singapore. It's definitely a lifestyle change. I wonder what's next on the try out list? Roti Prata maybe?

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Meet our House Mates

As our house sitting comes to an end this weekend, we look forward to reuniting with our former house mates. We will be moving back to Niels and Janette's for the next couple of weeks before heading off to a new place.

"Meow"
That's Boris the cat. Out of the house in a flash on a good day. Comfortably snugged in on the couch on a bad day. He's a very active cat that loves the outdoors, yet intelligent enough to know when to stay indoors. He goes out during the day and comes home for dinner - Very smart and independent cat.

Unfortunately, Boris is uncontrollably attracted to flying objects, especially birds. It sounds horrible, but he can't help it. That's why he's got two huge bells on his collar to warn off those slow and oblivious birds. You see, Boris can be quite the smooth criminal.

Check out that physique.

Just like everyone else, he enjoys the warmth during the cold. Sometimes, going all out for it.

Yeah, that's a cat you see.

And he makes a purring noise when he sleeps, like a classy engine. Gwyn finds it therapeutic. Somehow, when humans make a noise when they sleep, its called snoring. When cats do it, its called purring and feels therapeutic.

"Purrr"

"Say what?"
And then there's Bertie, aka Bertrand, who is in a love hate relationship with the cat. It's complicated.

Meet Bertrand, the charmer

We only found out recently that Bertie's full name is Bertrand. Word has it around town that Bertrand is so cute, he doesn't need to do anything himself. All he needs to do is gaze, work his charm and many hearts will melt.

Boris going "Oh, gimme a break!"
Bertie: " Oh, come on. Just look at me" *wink*

Boris: "This dog is unbelievable"
There is also Barney, the wise old dog in the house who gets along just fine with anyone - human, dog or cat.

Wise Old Barney
We certainly look forward to reuniting with our house mates again! It will be awesome.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Reflections

Six months in, take a deep breath, heave a sigh of relief. It has been an amazing journey so far and we cannot have asked for a better start.

We dreamt, we believed and we took the calculated leap of faith, together, into the unknown. It's okay to have your head in the cloud, as long as you have your feet on the ground. 

There will always be doubters and they will always question, and instill fear in your mind. Your faith will be shaken and your will tested. Are you sure? What if? There will be many "what ifs?", yet not a single "what if not".

It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting. And it's always better to lose some of your battles in the struggles for your dreams than to be defeated without truly ever knowing what you were fighting for.

We lead our lives with the choices we make and we each have only one life to lead. Seize the moment, live your life, live your dreams! Life is but a dream.

It is not always smooth sailing and more often than not, it's the attitude that pulls you through. Stay positive. Through problems find challenges and through challenges find opportunities.

Pray and have faith in God, without whom all things would not have been possible. We may be dreamers and realists but we also believe in divine intervention. 

House sitting at Robin and Russell's has been a wonderful experience. Never did we expect to house sit for four months! We got to know of the house sitting arrangement after wwoofing at Niels and Janette. In retrospect, if we had not gone to Niels and Janette's, this would not have happened. It must be a combination of choices and blessed divine intervention.

Everyday has been a blessing and we cannot ask for more. Here are some moments captured from our wonderful time at Robin and Russell's.


As with a lot of good things, our house sitting adventure comes to an end this weekend, after which we embark on another new journey. The experience has taught us to stay positive and keep the faith. Everything happens for a reason, and if it doesn't, it's not the right time and something else awaits you.

Life is a journey, enjoy the ride!