Archives for posts with tag: singapore

2016 was a long, withering year. A year that brought the world into new and dangerous directions. I didn’t take as many photos as I had on previous years, perhaps because the year exhausted me. I feel older, and not just in the literal sense. The joy of photography, as with many things, was lessened. I know I left a lot of chances go begging, sometimes because I felt they had nothing new to offer, sometimes because the energy just wasn’t there. But there were a few moments nonetheless. Here are a few photos from this year that gave me some joy. Open them separately for the full effect.

Hammerhead Over Ballycotton

Yes, it’s a panorama shot and yes it’s a landscape shot and yes it features yet more clouds and yes it’s taken from just outside the door, but the whole structure appeals to me. This, almost alien shape rearing over Ballycotton during the month of January. Living where I do, there are endless opportunities to take photos of the sea, the island and the clouds. It can be spectacular at times.

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Southern Auroras

We caught some very subtle auroras in Cork on March 6 of last year. They were so indistinct the naked eye could hardly pick them up. An SLR could, though. With a long shutter speed setting, the sky came to life. Witness the reds and greens caused by fast moving particles high above the atmosphere. One day we might witness something even more spectacular. Here’s hoping.

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The Iced Cross of Galteemore

On the 25th of March, we took a walk up to the summit of Galteemore in County Tipperary. It was a cold day, with ice and snow on the approaches to the mountain-top. I found this natural effect stunning, the result of driving wind and snow.

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Pope’s Quay

One weekend in April, while my younger sons sat entrance exams for secondary school, my daughter and I strolled around Cork, taking photos along the way. I like this shot of Pope’s Quay and the reflections in the River Lee.

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Connemara vista

In May, we journeyed to Roscommon to take possession of a new cat – a Maine Coon kitten we subsequently named “Gandalf”. We took the long way round, heading first to Galway city and Connemara before collecting the cat. After visiting Leenane, I took this photo of Killary Harbour, Ireland’s only true fjord, as it opened itself to the Atlantic.

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Approaching Storm

A few days later, while Gandalf was making himself at home, I rushed to the crest of the hill above the house to try film an electrical storm before it came too close. I didn’t get any shots of lightning bolts, but I did snap this great array of summer colours. It captured a mood, I think.

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Alicante Sunset

In June, we briefly visited Alicante in Spain. It was a work visit for C, with me tagging along as her wheelchair companion (she had broken her leg while running a short time before). I loved it and I was disappointed we could not have stayed a short while longer. This photo was taken as we ate dinner at a restaurant by the marina.

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Shanghai Surprises

As soon as I arrived back from Alicante, I was travelling to China for a work trip. This was my third visit to Shanghai in the last few years and my first time there alone, giving me some time to explore. The city gets more fascinating each time I am there. It was swelteringly hot there, but thankfully little smog and it was great to catch up with some good friends. Below are a) the interior of the Jin Mao Tower looking down to the piano bar, b) the Pearl Orient tower at sunset and c) the financial district at night.

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The Singapore Merlion

After Shanghai, I flew to Singapore where I had the Sunday to myself. This give me a chance to walk around the tourist district, visiting Raffles, the Merlion and the Singapore River. The heat, as ever, was astonishing. Without a bottle of water, I wouldn’t have made it very far. 2016-fav-14

The Misty Mournes

My work trip to Asia eventually came to a close, and it was now time to start my proper holidays. I went to Northern Ireland with my kids, taking this photo of the Mourne Mountains from Tyrella Bay. It was Ireland’s hottest day that year.

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Kinsale Harbour

In October, I brought the boys on a road trip to Kinsale and the Old Head, stopping off for pizzas on the way. It was an attempt to keep everyone happy, not particularly successful.

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Fota Arboretum in Autumn

In November we visited Fota Arboretum for a short walk. No special reason, just a chance to take advantage of a mild November day.

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Wishing you and yours a happy 2017. Go m’beirimíd beo ag an am seo arís.

I travelled back to Singapore last week – a welcome change from the bitter cold of Cork in January. While it was mainly a work visit, I got a chance to do some sightseeing.

Singapore Apartments

Singapore is a tiny island, not much bigger than metropolitan Dublin; but it packs a population of over 5 million people. Because land is not an option, people build upwards. Thousands of apartments dot the landscape. The racial mixture in each block is carefully managed to promote harmony amongst the resident ethnic populations.

Singapore Gardens by the Bay

There are a lot of tourist attractions, particularly around the Marina Bay area. The Gardens by the Bay, shown above, is particularly spectacular at night, with stunning colours and a laser light show illuminating the park.

Singapore Botanic

We did not go to these gardens; instead we went to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. It’s a gem. I’d love to have spent a few days there. The National Orchid Garden is a must-see. Here are a few examples of the flowers on display.

The Orchard Road area has some interesting street art and artistic gems. Here’s a piece that particularly impressed me. At a distance it looks like a large urn, but when you look closer, the whole vessel is made from just 4 letters. Very clever.

How big is Tenerife compared to more familiar areas in Ireland? Or Tasmania? Or Malta? Since my recent trip to Singapore, I’ve had an interest in such questions. I found a website called MAPfrappe and off I went, attempting to have my questions answered.  MAPfrappe enables you to trace out any area of interest, then displays what it looks like compared to any area on Earth.

So here are some examples: Just click on the maps below to compare with your own localities.

Tenerife

Tenerife would stretch from Limerick to Tralee and back down to Killarney. At 2,034 sq km, it’s about the same size as an average sized county in Ireland.

 

Malta

Malta is pretty small, about 27 km long, so it would comfortably fit into most counties in Ireland. In Cork, it would stretch from Kinsale to Macroom.

 

Tasmania

Woah! That’s pretty big. Tasmania, at 68,000 sq km, has about the same area as the Republic of Ireland. It’s not something I would have expected, given it’s tiny size in comparison to Australia. Then again, most of Western and Central Europe can easily fit inside Australia, so I shouldn’t be that surprised.

 

Singapore

Singapore is very small, but it has over 5 million inhabitants. It would be like squeezing the whole population of Ireland into an area around Cork, stretching from Midleton to Bandon. I’m not sure if many Cork folks would be happy with that prospect.

 

Ibiza

Most of Dublin city would accommodate the area of Ibiza. That’s about it though.

 

Crete

 

Crete, at 260km in length, would quite perfectly stretch from Dublin to Connemara.

Cuba

This one surprised me hugely. Over 1,250 km long, it would stretch from Kerry across the UK, into Belgium. Incidentally, Jamaica is much the same length as Crete.

Here are a few more comparisons that might be of interest:

Bali, Barbados, Bermuda, Corfu, Corsica, Cyprus, Easter Island, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Hawaii, Jamaica, Koh Samui, Langkawi, Lanzarote, Madeira, Mallorca, Maui, Menorca, Mauritius, New Zealand, Oahu, Phuket, Rhodes, Saint Lucia, Santorini, Sardinia, Sicily.

 

 

Nothing much to report about my last day in Singapore as it was all a big rush to make a police statement about the phone, then pack and get to the airport. As ever, people were super friendly. I’m missing it already.

I saw three movies on board:

World War Z: I wasn’t gone on the first part of the film (any horror flick involving kids always seems dreadfully manipulative), but I got hugely into it. Stunning scenes, particularly the wall breach in Jerusalem. This being an airplane movie, Singapore Airlines cut the scene on the jet. Aww.

Red 2: Awful shite. Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Anthony Hopkins, how could you? Did you need the money to pay off a drug debt? Did you even read the script in advance?

Man of Steel: So it’s 2013, and the saviour of the human race is still a tall good looking white American guy with great pecks and great teeth. Plus ça change. A rehash of the 1980s’ Superman 2 film, now with whizz bang graphics and Dolby sound effects. Visually spectacular – particularly the spacecraft scenes – but the endless fighting and boo-hoo nostalgia ruined it for me.

Is may be just me, but I think CGI has ruined Hollywood.

Today I managed to get to see much more of the city, taking in Chinatown, the Harbour Front Centre and the Singapore River as part of an evening on the town. 

Chinatown left an impression. It’s a large district of the town, with a diverse food market in the centre. The sights and smells make it a must see. Talking of smells, I got to whiff the delightful odours of the Durian Fruit today (they make pancakes from it). It’s pretty overwhelming. The fruit is not permitted aboard local trains and busses because of its pungency. We also passed by the Sri Mariamman temple – an amazing building in the centre of Chinatown. Close by is the Buddha Tooth Relic, which contains pretty much what it says on the tin.

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Speaking of trains, the Singapore MRT (Mass Rail Transit) system is pretty amazing. Hyper-clean, efficient and railed off by screens to avoid anyone getting too close to the tracks. There are signs on the floor telling people where to stand when alighting the train. The toll gates instantaneously calculate your fare based on the distance travelled – it’s completely cashless and based on a card top-up process. It’s also one big public service announcement, with signs telling people the fines for bringing food and drink onto the trains, or asking people to give up their seat for people in need. 

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It must be one of the only cities in the world where you don’t see people begging. Maybe I was in the wrong places, but I didn’t come across any vagrancy at all – not even packs of teenagers parading their boredom and weltschmertz for all to see. Everyone seems polite, well dressed and civic minded, even the kids. Added to that I saw no stray cats or dogs. Even mosquitos are a rarity in a country that’s only a few miles from the equator.

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We went to the Harbour Front shopping centre for the evening. Across the strait was Sentosa Island, a theme-park / leisure area for the city. It’s connected by cable car and sky-train monorail. The shops are already bedecked with Christmas decorations. I have to say it’s an incongruous and strange sight when the temperature outside is a muggy 30 degrees. From our vantage point in the Queen and Mangosteen pub, we were treated to a wonderful lightning show – no sounds, just regular darts of electricity illuminating the sky.

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It was also the first time I was able to appreciate the Singaporean accent. To my untrained ear, it sounds a little like the Mauritian accent – a mixture of English and other regional accents. 

Finally, we ended up in a bar on Boat Quay just across the river from the Asian Civilisations Museum. We were all quite tired then, so we quickly made our move back to the hotel – the conclusion of our last night in Singapore.

Still no sign of the phone. I’ve no idea where it might have gone. The hotel are doing an investigation, but I am now doubtful anything will turn up. 

All the pity, because we ended up in downtown Singapore last night but I have no photos to post up. We were in a bar / restaurant called La Terrazo, near Chinatown. The area is full of bars and clubs and there was a buzz to the place. It reminded me somewhat of Chicago. Apart from the low houses in this area itself, it’s all modern skyscrapers. Singapore is a high-rise society. Almost everyone lives in a government funded apartment, the cost of which, even subsidised, can be enormous.

Everyone talks about the government here too. The taxi-driver yesterday morning couldn’t stop talking about the government all the way to our destination. According to the BBC, Singapore tops the tables for so many important things: low crime rate, education, health, low corruption – yet has some of the unhappiest people in the world.

Singapore also is one of the biggest cities for gambling in the world, surprisingly close in annual revenues to Las Vegas. Singaporeans themselves are discouraged from gambling and have to pay 100 dollars per night for the privilege of attending a casino.

Many of the expats I have spoken to here love the place. The reason they commonly cite is its centrality. It’s only a short plane ride from Bali, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. Kuala Lumpur is only a few hours up the road. It’s terrific for those of a certain age who want to see the world. 

Tomorrow is my last day here. How time flies.

Oh Christ. No photos tonight. I’ve lost my phone. I’m not sure if I misplaced it in the taxi on the way to work or in the hotel somewhere. It might even be at work, but so far no sign of it anywhere. I’m experiencing withdrawal systems.

Other than this, today went ok. Lots of work again, but a nice meal in the evening in the centre of Singapore. This time we ate at the Crystal Jade Korean Ginseng restaurant in the plush Ngee Ann City shopping centre. I have a love of Asian dumpling soup, so I was in seventh heaven.

What is it about Singaporean taxi drivers? Last night, we were just a little tardy getting into our taxi and before we knew it the car had driven away – a cloud of black smoke in its wake.  The driver was clearly annoyed that we had tried his patience so much. Today we took a cab with a driver who clearly preferred the delights of Siberia to the humidity of Singapore. The cab was absolutely freezing inside. We were delighted to get back to the hotel, so we could start to get circulation back into our hands and feet.

I can’t get over the friendliness of the people here. Everyone I have met is so willing to help. Their attention to detail is impressive too. When I was asking about my iPhone, the receptionist I had given my details to needed to server another customer, whereupon the other receptionist got involved seamlessly, as if they had both communicated telepathically.

Jetlag is having its effect tonight. I’m wrecked now. I’ll be up early tomorrow to put the finishing touches to my presentation tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll hear some good news about my phone.

ImageI’m staying in a posh hotel near the city centre, and as might be expected, the breakfast was out of this world. Every possible breakfast dish from every possible corner of the world seemed to be on offer. I so wanted to stay and eat and get fat and eat more and get fatter.

The traffic was quite light, even at rush hour. Apparently there is a strict limit on the number of cars in the city, and in any case, you pay through the nose for the privilege of owning one. 

Housing is also highly regulated. Even the ethnic composition of each apartment is monitored, in order to avoid ghettoisation. It’s a curious place. 

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Not a huge amount to report for most of today, as I was stuck in a windowless room for most of the working day. It passed by quickly though, and we ended up eating at Mellben seafood restaurant, not too far from the office. The food was delicious. Crabs and prawns and noodles and scallops and more crabs and more noodles. Scrumptious. You would not want to be on a diet. A sign inside the restaurant told us we needed to keep quiet after 10 am, as the noise was problematic for the neighbours. That was us told. 

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First time on an A380! Such a quiet take-off too.

The amount of space you have is enormous. Zillions of TV channels and noise-suppression earphones as standard.

The Singapore Airlines staff could not have been nicer. Very pleasant, helpful staff. Their reputation for friendliness is well deserved.

And the veal dish. Oh my. Melting in your mouth like chocolate…

No turbulence on route, but no view either as lights were down and most people slept through the night. I stayed awake reading a book for most of it. Better to go to bed tired than wide awake.

I watched Pacific Rim en-route. It’s all AARGH and BAAH and RAAR. Did these actors have to shout their way through the movie? Could they not have whispered to balance things up, as it were?

We left Heathrow at sunset and arrived at sunset in Singapore. The plane routed via Russia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, then south of the Himalayas. I caught a brief glimpse of the mountains en-route.

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No big delays on arrival. Taxi driver was a bit mad though. He also wanted us to pay him in cash – which was a problem. The hotel sorted us out.

Got to my room and had the Best Bath Ever. This could become a habit.

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