My Taipei, Taiwan short trip

My two colleagues and my mum just came back from Taipei, Taiwan. We were there from 10 Mar to 13 Mar 2019 (Sun to Wed). I’ve never been to Taiwan. It’s an interesting short trip with so much experiences gained. It will have a lasting impact on my memories. It all started some time in Sep last year when I casually suggested to my colleague Leo for a short visit to Taiwan. Leo did the planning and taking charge of the accounts. Each of us spent about $700 including return air-tickets, 3 nights hotel stay and food for the 4 day & 3 night trip. I spent another $300 to $400 on shopping and entertainment. Pls refer to the attached statement of accounts and the 4-day itinerary.

Taiwan has a population of more than 23.5 million people comprising 95% Han Chinese. It is a huge island with more than 36,000 sq km with so many mountains, rivers and natural landscapes which only tiny Singapore could envy and drool. Someone ever mentioned that it is an unsinkable aircraft carrier anchored just opposite to China. Most locals who served National Service have been to Taiwan for short training stint. Taiwan has been host to tiny Singapore for its army training needs since we started National Service some four or five decades ago.

We stayed in Taipei H Imperial which is just opposite to Taipei Main MRT station. It’s so nice and cool with a temperature of 15 degree when we had to suffer 33 degree back home.

Everywhere we go, we made use of the MRT system to move about. We notice that the train system is very efficient and reliable. It did not break down or delay when we were there traveling in their trains everyday most of the time. It’s so much cheaper than our MRT at only NT16 per trip where ever we go. It seems to be the standard rate. No peak or off peak charges nonsense like ours. NT16 is equivalent to S$0.70 cents. Only the trip from Taipei main station to the airport is about 40 mins costs NT160 per trip which is 10 times the normal train trip at about S$7.00. That’s also the flat rate – no peak or off peak difference. Simple and easy without any nonsense at all.

The people I saw taking the trains are also very disciplined. They queue patiently behind the lines and don’t rush like mad into the trains especially during peak hours. They readily gave up their seats once they see my mum or any elderly people. There are 3 official announcements i.e. English, Mandarin and Hokkien inside their stations and trains. Just like our train system, there are many unarmed security personnel around directing pax in crowded train stations. There are even self-service lockers in the main stations which I feel it’s quite a security risk. You could even find rubbish bins around inside the train station premises. They do not make irritating repeating high pitch ear piercing security announcements in 4 official languages that if you find any suspicious item call 999 etc.

Compared to us, the Taiwanese are not that paranoid about security. Whereas, we are planning to screen every pax boarding the train whether its peak or non-peak hours! Question is ultimately who is going to pay for all the extra costs incurred? No wonder in Taipei it’s only S$0.70 cents everywhere you go taking the trains irrespective of peak or non-peak hours! Also bear in mind they don’t have COEs to control their citizens buying cars or motorcycles. In fact, there are tons of scooters (not motorcycles) in Taipei. Unlike in Singapore, they are so cheap and affordable that almost everyone could afford it. Despite the prevalence of private transport, yet their trains are clean and efficient without breaking down and on time. Of course, all these with train doors always closed before moving off with full load of pax!

By taking their trains all over Taipei, one could visit so many places of interests conveniently and cheaply. That’s exactly what we did. We visited many places of interests and almost every night, we went to different night markets to experience the local food and atmosphere. Most of these places of interests are walking distance to MRT stations.

I find the night markets in Taipei so much more vibrant and interesting than our own road side pasar malam. Sometimes, the whole road is closed for the temporary stalls parked in the middle of the road after road closure in the evening till next morning. I don’t see any NEA license displayed or any restrictions at all. For example pig blood is openly available here whilst it’s banned in Singapore. Stalls are simply set up with all kinds of local food selling cheaply. Wares are also openly displayed with shop houses on the sides of the road. The night markets are also tourist attraction sites with many tourists from Hong Kong, Japan and Korea.

Whenever we go, the locals always mistaken us as Malaysians. Whenever we clarified that we were Singaporeans, the response was always, “Ah Singapore beautiful and clean city. No: 1 in the world!” They really respect and admire us. But I would always tell them actually Singapore is not as clean as your Taipei city! I don’t find any rubbish bin around and the streets are always so clean. I wonder how they got rid of their rubbish. They brought home their rubbish such as sweet wrappers, little trash to dispose off? Even along the shop houses, there is no rubbish bin within sight. If we managed to find the occasional rubbish bin, it’s always the mental chrome bin with different compartments for common trash and recycle trash! We don’t have that kind of rubbish bins in our town areas. Even if we do, it’s all made of plastic. Talking about recycle trash when we still stick to rubber and plastic! Lol!

Actually once you been to one of those night markets, it’s all more or less the same. They sell almost the same food stuff and things. There’s slight difference to the set up and prices of each night market. I was told there are about 58 night markets in Taipei! Whatever, our own pasar malam simply can’t compare to theirs in terms of variety and vibrancy. Ours is just too controlled and too rigid!

On the second day, we took a train, only 2 stations away from Taipei main station to Lungshan temple. It’s their famous temple in Taipei. We had a tour of the temple. There were so many people inside the serene temple premises chanting with the morning prayer session led by the temple residents. They carried their own portable chairs and some wearing black robes in serious chanting mood all over the temple premises. It’s situated just beside the Lungshan MRT station. I bought some “drive safe” talisman souvenirs from the temple planning to present to some of my friends when I get back. In a way, I’m also supporting the temple by making purchases.

On the third day, we made a trip to the Chiang Kia Sek memorial park. It’s a short walking distance from CKS MRT station. When we reached the CKS memorial park which is just opposite the Taiwan Ministry of Finance building, away from the busy roads, I was greeted with so many park users doing morning exercises and dancing! Some practicing qigong and sword play etc.

CKS memorial is a huge structure with an equally impressive Concert Hall and Theatre Hall on both sides. I stood at the entrance of the huge park looking at CKS memorial right in front of me. The Taiwanese flag pole with its flag was fluttering proudly at a great height at the end of Freedom Square in front of the great structure with tiny humans moving about in the foreground. The Taiwanese really honored their founding father but we did not do anything for our own. I could not help but reflect on our different attitudes towards our own founding fathers.

After that, we simply walked to Yong_an wet market. Wow so much things there just like our Chinatown. They sell all kinds of things from fresh uncooked to cooked food and also fruits. Even household utensils and clothing are on sale. My mum bought so much fresh local strawberries and tiny tomatoes for a song. They are so sweet and fresh.

The best lunch we had was at Huang Ci hot springs. We had a feast there with their famous porridge cooked with either frogs, crabs, prawns or fish. We had to order and wait for about 40 mins before it’s ready. We ordered a small size pot of crab porridge yet we had difficulty finishing it. It costs about S$38 for that delicious porridge. We ordered some other dishes to go with the pot of steaming crab porridge. We went there via Uber and came back by Uber also. Each trip costs us about S$20. I’m surprised that there is Uber there. I thought it’s history as far as Sg is concerned.

Later in the evening, we went to the Meng Jia night market. My mum and myself had foot and shoulder massage at only NT399 (less than S$20) for 40 mins. It was a good massage! We had dinner at one of the small tiny eatery. We ordered stir fried vegetables with pork, shell fish, shark meat, fried oyster omelette, oyster mee hoon, fried whole frog along with two bottles of beer etc all for about NT1,000 (less than S$50).

The most enjoyable night we had was on the second night of our entire trip. Since the hotel room was crammed and could not smoke, we thought of going down to the main entrance of the hotel where are some stone benches at the pavement. There are few stalls selling hot BBQ meat and mushrooms, maize etc with the temperature at 15 degree was clearly tempting. From the nearby Family Mart (7 Eleven), we bought 12 cans of beer and enjoyed ourselves. I brought my small bluetooth X-mini sound-bar speaker and played some music. There were some Filipinos tourists staying at the next hotel also doing exactly that. I then decided to play “Anak” sung by Freddie Aguilar.

With that song in full blast, the barrier between us was broken. Yup music is international. From there, the Filipinos started to chat with us. They offered us BBQ wild boar meat bought from the nearby stalls. We drank and cheers all night long from about 8.30pm till midnight when we decided to call it a day. As usual, when they heard we came from Singapore, their respect for us increased. One of the Filipinos named Alex said, “Small powerful country!” It seems that everybody I met out here had very good opinion of Singaporeans. I did not realize that until when I left the country.

Overall my impression of Taipei is that the people here are not as fast paced as us. Their pace seems to be slower. They are very friendly people and helpful when we approached them for directions. Everywhere is complicated Chinese characters written all over the places. They don’t believe in simplified Chinese used by mainland China. I’m also aware that Hong Kong just like Taiwan uses complicated Chinese and stick to Cantonese whereas Taiwan still retains and promotes Hokkien.

They are also “earth green” conscious. Everywhere there are banners promoting recycling. Even their politicians – Taipei is having Mayor election are setting examples by sweeping public roads. They don’t just do the talking but really do it for all to see and follow. I hardly see any police presence except those unarmed traffic police officers and private security officers roaming the streets. Here in Singapore, very often you will see Special Ops Command officers armed to the teeth with bullet proof vests patrolling Orchard Road or Transport Security Command fully armed police officers loitering around in our MRT stations looking for targets!

If given another opportunity, I would like to visit the other cities in Taiwan. After all Taiwan is so huge with so many cities and vast rural outlying areas that even one month stay can never finish all the places especially if you consider the tons of smaller islands around mainland Taiwan.

Day 01

5.05 pm Touch down Taipei AP

6.30 pm Dinner Food Court for 2 NT450

7.30 pm Left for Taipei via MRT

8.30 pm Hotel

9 pm Moved around vicinity

11 pm Back Hotel

Day 02

7 am Left for Long Shan temple

2 stations away from Taipei Blue Line

Breakfast Fish porridge

9.00 am Return to Taipei

9.25 am Taipei

Red Line Tamsui-Xinyi line

10.10 am Reached Tamsui

Lunch NT380

2.30 pm Left for Taipei

3.30 pm Back Hotel

5.30 pm Left Hotel

Jiantan Red Line

6.00 pm Reached Shilin night mkt

7.45 pm Left

8.15 pm Reached Taipei MRT

8.30 pm Hotel Happy Hour

Hotel Entrance

Midnight Sleep

Day 03

7.00 am Breakfast at hotel

7.30 am Left for Red Line Museum 2 stations away from Taipei

8.00 am Reached CKS Memorial Hall

9.00 am Left for Green Line

9.15 am Yongan mkt is wet mkt. I rather take bean curd

10.30 amLeft for Guting station fm Yongan station

11.00 am Guting area Jizhouan Literature Forest, No. 107, Tong’an Street, Zhongzheng District, Taipei City, Taiwan 100

12.30 pm Reached Huangzhi Hotspring resort

2.00 pm Left 皇池

2.40 pm Hotel

5.30 pm Left for Blue Line

6.00 pm Reached Longshan Temple station walked to Hwashi night market

Dinner

10.15pm Hotel

Day 04

8.30 pm Left

9.00 am Breakfast Beef noodles nearby restaurant NT130 $5/$6

10.15 am Hotel

11.30 am Checked out

12.15 noon Train to Taoyuan Airport

1.00 pm Arrived

1.30pm Checked in luggage

Lunch at airport

Flight delayed from 1610 hrs to 1830 hrs

1800 hrs Boarded aircraft

11.05 pm Touched down Changi Airport.

===========================

*TAIPEI TRIP 10 TO 13 MARCH 2019*

*Air Ticket*

4 pax $1636

1 pax $409

*Hotel*

Twin sharing $240 per room for 3 nights at Taipei Imperial

*Taiwan Sim Card*

$15 (shared by 2 ppl) each

*Collected*

$800 per pax Total $3,200

Balance : 3,200 – 2,116 = 1,054

After paying for 4 air tickets, 2 hotel rooms and 2 SIM cards

*CONVERTED TO NT*

$1,054× 22.5 = NT23,715

*10 Mar (Sun) DAY ONE EXPENDITURE*

1)Top up 4 MRT transit cards NT1,200

2)Duty free cigarettes one carton NT834.75

3)Dinner NT850

4)3 cans of beer NT123

5)3 chicken sticks NT100

TOTAL : NT3,107.75
Balance : NT2,0607.25

*11 Mar (Mon) DAY TWO EXPENDITURE*

1)Top up 4 MRT transit cards NT800

2) Breakfast NT400

3) Lunch NT360

4) 3 sausage NT100

5) 3 cans of beer NT109

6) Family Mart NT200

7) Dinner NT1000

8) 12 Kirin Beer NT384

TOTAL NT3,453

Balance : NT17,254

*12 Mar(Tue) DAY THREE EXPENDITURE*

1) Breakfast NT80

2) Fruits NT160

4) Rain coat NT200

5)Cooked chicken NT150

6) Lunch NT2547

7) Uber to hot springs NT410

8) Uber back to hotel NT398

9) Dinner NT1500

10) 6 cans of beer NT192

TOTAL: NT5,632

Balance NT11,622

*13 Mar(Wed) DAY FOUR EXPENDITURE*

1)Breakfast NT810

2)Bread NT260

3) Lunch NT810

TOTAL: NT1880

Balance NT9,742

*LEFT OVER BALANCE NT 9742 CONVERT BACK TO SINGAPORE CURRENCY* $432

$432 ÷ 4 pax = $108 each

One pax expenditure on 2-way flight, hotel and food cost approx $698.

Below is the Chinese translated version of the blog post. Some of my Chinese readers requested that I write in Chinese. I told them I’m not competent in Chinese. I could only use google to translate.

我的台北短途旅行

我的两位同事和妈妈刚刚从台湾台北回来。我们在2019年3月10日至3月13日(周日至周三)在那里。我从未去过台湾。这是一次有趣的短途旅行,获得了如此多的经验。它会对我的记忆产生持久的影响。这一切都始于去年9月的一段时间,当时我偶然向我的同事利奥暗示访问台湾。利奥做了计划并负责账目。我们每人花了大约700美元,包括回程机票,3晚酒店住宿和4天3夜旅行的食物。我花了300到400美元购物和娱乐。请参阅随附的账目报表和4天行程。

台湾人口超过2350万,其中汉族人口占95%。这是一个巨大的岛屿,面积超过36,000平方公里,有许多山脉,河流和自然景观,只有小小的新加坡才能羡慕和流口水。有人曾提到它是一艘不沉的航空母舰,停泊在中国对面。大多数服务于国民服役的当地人都曾到过台湾进行短期培训。自从我们在四五十年前启动国民服役以来,台湾一直是小型新加坡的军队培训需求的东道国。

我们住在台北主要地铁站对面的台北H帝国。当我们不得不忍受33度的回家时,它的温度和温度都是15度。

无论我们走到哪里,我们都使用了MRT系统来移动。我们注意到列车系统非常有效和可靠。当我们大多数时间每天都在火车上旅行时,它没有发生故障或延误。它比我们的MRT便宜得多,每次旅行只需NT16,我们就去。这似乎是标准费率。没有峰值或非高峰收费像我们的胡说八道。 NT16相当于0.70新元。只需从台北中央火车站到机场的行程大约需要40分钟,每程NT160,这是普通火车旅行的10倍,约为7.00新元。这也是固定利率 – 没有峰值或非峰值差异。简单易行,没有任何废话。

我看到乘坐火车的人也非常自律。他们耐心地在排队后排队,不要像在高峰时段一样疯狂地冲进火车。一看到妈妈或老人,他们就轻易放弃了座位。在他们的车站和火车内有3个官方公告,即英语,普通话和福建话。就像我们的火车系统一样,在拥挤的火车站指挥乘客周围有许多非武装的保安人员。主站甚至还有自助式储物柜,我觉得它存在很大的安全风险。你甚至可以在火车站内找到垃圾箱。他们不会以4种官方语言制作恼人的重复安全公告,如果您发现任何可疑项目,请致电999等。

与我们相比,台湾人对安全问题并不那么偏执。然而,我们计划筛选登上火车的每个人,无论是高峰时段还是非高峰时段!问题最终是谁将支付所产生的所有额外费用?难怪在台北,无论高峰时段还是非高峰时段,您乘坐火车的价格仅为0.70新元!还要记住,他们没有COE来控制购买汽车或摩托车的公民。事实上,台北有大量的摩托车(不是摩托车)。与新加坡不同,它们非常便宜且价格实惠,几乎每个人都能负担得起。尽管私人交通普遍存在,但他们的列车干净而高效,没有按时按时排放。当然,所有这些与火车门总是关闭之前满载的pax!

乘坐他们的火车遍布台北,人们可以方便又便宜地游览这么多的景点。这正是我们所做的。我们参观了许多景点,几乎每天晚上,我们去不同的夜市体验当地的美食和氛围。大多数这些景点都在步行距离到地铁站。

我发现台北的夜市比我们自己的路边帕拉马拉姆更加充满活力和有趣。有时候,在晚上一直到第二天早上封路后,整条道路都停在停在道路中间的临时摊位上。我没有看到任何NEA许可证或任何限制。例如猪血在这里公开可用,而在新加坡被禁止。摊位只是设置各种便宜的当地食品。公路上还公开展示商店的两侧。夜市也是旅游景点,有许多来自香港,日本和韩国的游客。

每当我们离开时,当地人总是误以为我们是马来西亚人。每当我们澄清说我们是新加坡人时,总的来说,“新加坡美丽而干净的城市啊。不:世界上的一个!“他们真的尊重和钦佩我们。但我总是告诉他们,新加坡实际上并不像台北市那么干净!我没有找到任何垃圾桶,街道总是那么干净。我想知道他们是如何摆脱垃圾的。他们带回家的垃圾,如甜蜜的包装纸,小垃圾来处理掉?即使在商店里,也看不到垃圾桶。如果我们设法找到偶尔的垃圾桶,那么它总是带有不同隔间的精神镀铬垃圾桶,用于普通垃圾和回收垃圾!我们镇上没有那种垃圾箱。即使我们这样做,也都是用塑料制成的。当我们仍然坚持使用橡胶和塑料时谈论回收垃圾!大声笑!

实际上,一旦你去过那些夜市之一,它们或多或少都是一样的。他们出售几乎相同的食物和东西。每个夜市的设置和价格略有不同。我被告知在台北有大约58个夜市!无论如何,我们自己的本地的夜市 (pasar malam) 根本无法与它们的多样性和活力相提并论。我们太受控制而且太僵硬了!

第二天,我们乘坐火车,距台北总站仅2站,到龙山寺。这是他们在台北的着名寺庙。我们参观了寺庙。宁静的寺庙内有这么多人在寺庙居民带领的早晨祷告会上唱歌。他们带着自己的便携式椅子和一些穿着黑色长袍,在整个寺庙场所都以严肃的吟唱情绪。它位于龙山地铁站旁边。我从寺庙买了一些“驾驶安全”护身符纪念品,计划在我回来时送给我的一些朋友。在某种程度上,我也通过购买支持寺庙。

第三天,我们去了蔣中正(Chiang Kia Sek) 纪念公园。距离CKS地铁站仅有很短的步行路程。当我们到达台湾财政部大楼对面的中正纪念公园时,远离繁忙的道路,我受到了许多公园用户的早操和跳舞的欢迎!一些练气功和剑戏等。

CKS纪念馆是一个巨大的建筑,两侧同样令人印象深刻的音乐厅和剧院大厅。我站在巨大公园的入口处,看着我面前的CKS纪念馆。带有旗帜的台湾旗杆在自由广场尽头的高处骄傲地飘扬在巨大的结构前面,小人类在前景中移动。台湾人真的很荣幸他们的创始人,但我们没有为自己做任何事情。我忍不住想起我们对自己创始人的不同态度。

在那之后,我们简单地走到了永安Yong_an湿市场。哇这么多东西就像我们的唐人街一样。他们出售各种各样的东西,从新鲜的未煮熟的食物到熟食和水果。即使是家用器皿和衣服也在出售。我的妈妈为一首歌买了这么多新鲜的当地草莓和小西红柿。它们非常甜美清新。

我们吃的最好的午餐是皇池温泉。我们在这里享用着名的粥,用青蛙,螃蟹,虾或鱼烹制而成。我们不得不在它准备好之前订购并等待约40分钟。我们点了一小罐螃蟹粥,但我们很难完成它。这道美味的粥价格约为38新元。我们点了一些其他菜肴搭配蒸锅螃蟹粥。我们经过Uber优步去了那里,也由Uber优步回来了。每次旅行花费我们约20新元。我很惊讶那里有优步Uber。就新加坡而言,我认为这是历史。

晚上,我们去了孟家夜市。我的妈妈和我自己在NT399(不到20新元)的情况下进行了40分钟的足部和肩部按摩。这是一个很好的按摩!我们在一家小型小餐馆吃过晚餐。我们点了炒猪肉,贝壳鱼,鲨鱼肉,油炸牡蛎煎蛋卷,牡蛎馒头,油炸全青蛙和两瓶啤酒等炒菜,大约NT1,000(不到S$50)。

我们度过的最愉快的夜晚是我们整个旅程的第二个晚上。由于酒店房间挤满了无法吸烟,我们想到了酒店的正门,在人行道上有一些石凳。很少有摊位出售热烧烤肉和蘑菇,玉米等15度的温度显然很诱人。从附近的Family Mart(7 Eleven),我们买了12罐啤酒,尽情享受。我带了我的小蓝牙X-mini条形音箱,播放了一些音乐。有一些菲律宾游客住在下一家酒店也正是这样做的。然后我决定演奏由Freddie Aguilar演唱的“Anak”。

随着那首歌的爆炸,我们之间的障碍被打破了。 Yup音乐是国际性的。从那里,菲律宾人开始与我们聊天。他们向我们提供了从附近的摊位买来的烧烤野猪肉。我们从晚上8点30分到午夜时分喝酒和喝酒,我们决定将它称为一天。像往常一样,当他们听说我们来自新加坡时,他们对我们的尊重增加了。其中一位名叫亚历克斯的菲律宾人说:“小国强国!”我在这里遇到的每个人似乎都对新加坡人有很好的看法。直到我离开这个国家,我才意识到这一点。

总体而言,我对台北的印象是,这里的人们并没有像我们这样快节奏。他们的步伐似乎较慢。他们是非常友好的人,当我们向他们寻求方向时很有帮助。到处都是复杂的汉字写在各地。他们不相信中国大陆使用的简体中文。我也知道香港就像台湾使用复杂的中国人一样坚持粤语,而台湾仍然保留和推广福建话。

他们也是“地球绿”意识。到处都有宣传回收的横幅。甚至他们的政治家 – 台北也正在举行市长选举,他们正在通过一条宽阔的公路来树立榜样。他们不仅仅是在说话,而是真正为所有人看到并遵循。除了那些在街上漫游的非武装交警和私人保安人员外,我几乎看不到任何警察的存在。在新加坡,你经常会看到特种部队指挥官带着防弹背心巡逻乌节路或运输安全司令部全副武装的警察在我们的地铁站寻找目标!

如果有机会,我想访问台湾的其他城市。毕竟台湾是如此巨大,有这么多的城市和广阔的农村边远地区,即使一个月的停留也无法完成所有的地方,特别是考虑到台湾大陆周围的小岛屿。

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Year of the Pig 2019

Quiet early morning hours on 3 Feb (Sun) at my duty post somewhere on the eastern tip of the island. Very few vehicle movements – virtually none except for the occasional bikes and taxi including Grabs. It’s like a ghost town. I was told that it’s usually the case just before the onset of Chinese New Year (CNY). I was not on leave but continued working as per normal cuz many of my Chinese colleagues gone back to their hometowns to celebrate CNY on 5 and 6 Feb. It’s the eve of the eve of CNY with all the tenants and workers having packed up and closed shops long before the coming CNY. Yup, quite boring and listless at my duty post without much ado.

Lo and behold, one red taxi suddenly appeared from nowhere and cruised right in front of me, Oh, that tall, slim Chinese botak egg head with gold rimed specs piloting taxi registration number 499. He’s a regular here. I used to comment that 3 digits how to buy 4-D? Anyway my front hp number is 8499. Why not buy my hp number instead I did ask him few times. We used to exchange such small talks whenever he automatically gets out (unlike some retards refuse to come out of their cockpit as if superglue stuck to their bums) to open the boot for visual check and then get back in to get off. Sometimes, he would tell me to add zero or 1 in front or after 499 etc! I told him I’m not impressed. Better stick to my hp at 8499. “Did you strike?” “Yes couple of times!” I replied.

On that windy eerie morning wee hours, Kojak suddenly rushed out of his cab and excitedly held my hand whispering to my right ear, “buy 1196!” The number just came to me when I saw you from afar as I was approaching your duty post!” Before he left after the usual car boot inspection, he reminded me again not to forget. After I reported off duty on that Sun morning – 3 Feb, I went back home to buy that special number.

When I woke up on the same day around 7pm preparing to report for my night shift, I cursory checked on my hp for the 4-D result. My sleepy face suddenly brighten up and WTF! 1196 came out First Prize! If only I knew I would have “hamtam” or whacked heavily. But I did not. Only a little windfall just before CNY!

On the next day ie 4 Feb (Mon), also in the early wee hours, our Botak taxi driver stopped right in front of me and gave me a bear hug! He told me he hit big! I said I got a little windfall! Before I could ask him where he got that magic number, he kept saying that I was darn lucky. I was his lucky charm so he says.

The moment he saw me, that magic number simply appeared in his mind out of nowhere. It was so clear and defined in his mind’s eye. He said that I had to be possessed by the proverbial God of Fortune when he saw me in that split second! Aiyoh! The other 2 cars behind were wondering why the bear hug, excitement and commotion all about! Botak happily left in his taxi kept waving at me.

After my duty on the morning of 4 Feb (Mon), I made my way to Middle Rd to claim my winnings. One day before CNY – Year of Pig I got myself a big anypow. That ended the Doggie year with a Big Bang! Believe it or not it’s up to you! When I related this story to my friends they found the fairy tale difficult to believe! I gave them a Lo Hei treat on 15 Feb to celebrate the CNY.

On 28 Jan, 8 days before CNY I did invite some of my friends and colleagues for a pre-CNY gathering somewhere in Geylang. I took the opportunity to introduce my friend Dr Mike to them. It was a good dinner with good Chinese food and lots of beer. Dr Mike as usual would always give me something in return whenever I invited him out. This time round, he gave me a famous Rimowa luggage filled with 9 brand new 1st edition books by the same author Michael Robotham, Link a famous Australian novelist whom I’ve not heard of! Anyway, Dr Mike used to recommend authors I never heard of but later turned out to be gems! Link

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Actually, my friends and I already looking forward to this CNY way back when we made a trip to Kampung Pendas about 3 weeks ago. We went there to buy live fresh prawns and fish from the fishing village just across Tuas Link. When my mother cooked those prawns on CNY reunion dinner for my brother and some relatives, almost all were wiped out. They knew the freshness and delicacy of those prawns and fish once they tasted them.

When my mother bought some rabbit fish from the nearby supermarket, I told her she better deep fried them as they were not to my liking after having tasted Freddie’s hand delivered fresh rabbit fish on the 1st day of CNY. He did it consecutively for the past 10 yrs beginning in the year 2010!

Yup, Freddie never failed to deliver those rabbit fish in his limousine to my humble abode on the 1st day of CNY. I told my mother to simply steam those rabbit fish given by Freddie and I dipped it in vinegar with chopped garlics to devour. Simple meal yet so fresh and palatable until I devoured everything on the fish leaving only the bones. Those freshly caught rabbit fish is a luxury money may not necessarily buy!

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On reflections, the Doggie year was memorably good as far as I’m concerned. Other then we grow older by a year, I’ve much to be grateful for the Doggie Year. After all, I hit the jackpot just before the Doggie year ended. I was also conferred with two excellence work performance awards. Just last night I received my 1st award and I’ll getting another one in 9 days’ time from my dear commander!

Today is the 15th day of CNY. Year of the Pig CNY celebrations will officially come to an end and it’s back to business as usual until the next CNY when the whole process will repeat itself. Year after year, more or less the same except that the 12 animals for each CNY keep rotating in a 12-year cycle. Whatever, life goes on irrespective of which animal comes along!

My wish for the CNY is that there will not be any economic war between the big nations. Our livelihood depends on trade and a stable global economy. Life will be hard on us when there is world economic turmoil. We also could sense and feel that this Pig year could be an election year. Hopefully, it will be conducted in an orderly manner without any “Sue Merry” making her ugly appearance.

Let’s be magnanimous, forgive and forget after the hustings and bustings and let’s move on to face much bigger challenges. Let’s focus on the bigger picture and not tekkan your defeated opponents.

On a personal note, I hope all my friends will stay healthy and survive the year till our next CNY gathering. I pray that Freddie will come to my humble abode year after year in his aging limousine to deliver his highly prized rabbit fish! On that note, I wish all my readers a Happy and Prosperous Year of the Pig! Huat Ah!

Link

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A Tale of Three Cities – Singapore, Penang and Hong Kong

The once mighty powerful British Empire having ruled the world for more than 300 years left behind many legacies; some are good and some are bad. Today’s geographical landscape is partly the result of the once omnipotent British Empire. Let’s look at Singapore, Hong Kong and Penang which are Great Britain’s modern creations. These three cities have lots in common. They are city harbour states created by the mighty British Empire for their own self interests; to further their strategic hold on power for their own wealth and glory.

Out of the three city states, Singapore is the only sovereign independent state. Whereas the other two cities are part of their larger hinterlands with Penang as part of Peninsula Malaysia and Hong Kong as part of China. All of them are blessed with deep sea ports for ocean going ships. They started life as sea ports in the maritime trade. Except for Singapore, their ports are situated opposite the mainland. Therein lies their individual destiny. That’s the crux of the matter.

Let’s trace their origins and their existence.

Hong Kong island was forcibly seized from the weakened Manchu dynasty after the first opium war. In the Treaty of Nanking (1842) after the first opium war, the British made China pay for the war indemnity and also ceded Hong Kong in perpetuity to them amongst other unfair terms and conditions. This was a trading post in the Far East to enable the British to further their commercial interests in the maritime trade routes.

In those days, whoever controls the sea lanes rule the world.

When they found out that Hong Kong was too small as the colony’s needs increased, they used all kinds of pretext and excuses to grab more lands from the helpless Chinese for agriculture, training grounds for troops and security buffer against attacks etc. More and more lands were subsequently seized from the weak Chinese and added to the British colony in Hong Kong. All lands acquired were rent free. The stretch of land on mainland China opposite Victoria Harbour which is on tiny Hong Kong island had to be seized for obvious security reasons. Thus, tiny Hong Kong from an initial land area of 78.59 sq km expanded to a whopping 2,754 sq km – almost 35 times!

Same as Hong Kong, Penang was only a tiny island of 293 sq km, much smaller than Singapore which is more than 700 sq km. Subsequently, the British conned the Kedah Sultan into ceding a vast swarth of territory on mainland peninsula Malaysia opposite the Penang harbour for security buffer and to facilitate the expansion of port facilities. That piece of land known as Wellesley province was a mangrove swamp infested with pirates which was not conducive to commercial activities for the Penang port. Thus from a mere 293 sq km, Penang’s territory expanded to a sizeable 1,048 sq km – more than 3.5 times.

When Singapore was founded by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819, she was the biggest of the three sea ports in terms of land area. Fast forward to today, it’s the smallest among them. Since Singapore harbour is well sheltered by the huge land mass in Sumatra and not situated directly opposite mainland Johore, the British didn’t see any need to annex any extra land in Johore. There’s no necessity to grab extra land on the opposite side on the mainland.

How I wish Singapore harbour were located somewhere along the narrow straits between Singapore and Johore like Victoria harbour! The story of Hong Kong formation would have been played out with more and more lands added to the Singapore colony. Instead, the British laid a railway line cutting across the centre of Singapore from the northern tip to the southern end up till Tanjong Pagar where our port is. This was to facilitate the exports of rubber, palm oil, tin etc from mainland Malaysia via the railway line through Singapore harbour. Singapore was part of the Straits Settlement then governed by the British. But the railway line belonged to KTM based in Malaysia.

After more than 50 yrs, the railway line was finally resolved. It defied all logic that a foreign owned railway could cut across another country from one end to the other with that entire track of land belonging to another government. Not only the British did us no favor but left us with so much shit to contend with. If the British didn’t give away Christmas Island to Australia, we would have another 135 sq km of extra island! Our sea boundary would be much larger than now. We could have used that island for our farming, holiday chalets, army training needs etc not forgetting the tons of crabs.

As a matter of fact, the British also left lots of shit all over the places when they lost the Empire. Think of India’s West and East Pakistans they created! Until today the Kashmir issue still remains unresolved despite three border wars fought between India and Pakistan.

How I wish that if only at that critical juncture of history, the British were to grab a piece of territory on the Johore side off mainland peninsular Malaysia for security reasons and further development of the Singapore colony as happened in Hong Kong and Penang. Do you think we have to face so much nonsense from them today? Like what Mr Brown says, they are “playing punks” on us. Out of nowhere, suddenly they started their nonsense again. Unwarranted provocations on the sea and in the air to play sport on us! They seem to enjoy doing it. They love to see how we react to their childish antics thinking that we are merely a helpless small fly! Link

To those who clamour for reduced defense spending, abolishment of NS and name the enemies, I say open your eyes wide to what’s happening right now! Are we so stupid as to spend billions on defense year after year for no reason? It takes 1000 days to build an army only to use it on one day. When that day of reckoning comes, there will be no regrets. The saber rattling up north is a timely wake up call indeed! Link

The other two cities are much better off than us. Fate or history has not been kind to us even though we seek to co-exit peacefully with such unfriendly neighbours making a decent living despite the fact that we are a barren island and yet having to spend tons of money on defence. Are we destined to live under their whims and fancy forever? Do we have to be at their mercy for generations to come?

When stupid narrow minded people are in power, that’s the problem. They don’t think far ahead on the mutual benefits if we co-operate together combining our weaknesses and strengths to reap tremendous benefits for our own respective citizens. As it is, there are so many of their citizens earning good money here when their own citizens could not find employment back home. If we become enemies, what about those tens of thousands earning a decent living here? I say those retards running the place up north are irresponsible and callous in their duty to their own people. Link

Remember this age old adage. Do not force a tiger (lion in our case) to the wall or it’ll be left with no choice but to retaliate to the maximum. If you want to bring us down by restricting our sea and air spaces until we can’t breathe and survive at all, what else could we do especially when we got lots of arsenal at our disposal?

Maybe, letting an nonagenarian hold the country’s destiny is not a good move after all cuz he’ll have no qualms bringing down the country together with him knowing that his days are numbered!

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/maritime-dispute-malaysia-port-limits-mahathir-vessels-remain-11018056

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