Category: Picture Gallery

Bird-Brained Idea – Or Are Human Nests Works of Art?

By Aussie Pete, July 23, 2012 2:33 am

Full Article at Aussie Pete

This (bird) brain-child of a Californian builder will set you back anywhere between $4,000 and $20,000. For some people, that might be your entire ‘nest egg’ – but at least you could get to retire in a custom-made, human-sized nest! For a roof over your head, that’s pretty ‘cheep’ right?

Enough of the puns (they weren’t that ‘egg-citing’ anyway).

All pictures are provided by Jayson Fann

All pictures are provided by Jayson Fann

The nests are actually being designed, built and sold by Jayson Fann as ‘functional art sculptures’. The business Mr Fann runs, creates the people-size nests from locally harvested wood – cut and spiralled together to form the final product.

Kids enjoy one of Fanns amazing creations

Kids enjoy one of Fanns amazing creations

The available nests range from simple indoor love seats to huge thirty-person look-outs.

Depending on the size of each project, Mr Fann employs up to two or three assistants. The process begins with stripping branches, all the while ensuring that no damage is done to the living tree. Then leaves and twigs are carefully removed.

The intricate puzzle of branches makes for a tough day at the office for Fann

The intricate puzzle of branches makes for a tough day at the office for Fann

The nests are most commonly from eucalyptus trees, because of their unusual strength. One simple sculpture will require at least two and a half trailers loads of wood.

With a few helpers on hand Fann constructs his newest masterpiece

With a few helpers on hand Fann constructs his newest masterpiece

The process begins with wood being ‘puzzled’ together to create a spiraling pattern. The design provides ’structural integrity’ as well as supports the ‘flowing aesthetic’.

Fann carefully binds the wood together

Fann carefully binds the wood together

The wood is carefully bent and counter-sunk screws are used to secure the structure, which Mr Fann believes will ensure that the finished nest will remain strong and intact for many years.

The nest is lifted onto its base using a crane

The nest is lifted onto its base using a crane

Finally, a strong base is required to place and support the finished nest. According to Mr Fann, moving the nests is not so simple, given that the job requires a crane (another pun?… actually, I don’t know if cranes actually live in nests?).

A bridge and interior matting is made for the comfort and access to the creation

A bridge and interior matting is made for the comfort and access to the creation

To make the whole thing inhabitable and comfortable, the nest is finished off with an interior mat and a ladder for easy access.

The comfy interior of one of Fann's creations

The comfy interior of one of Fann's creations

SG Alternative Shopping

Singapore in 18 Hours – The Express Tourist

By Aussie Pete, July 17, 2012 11:35 pm

Source: Aussie Pete

Yesterday, I was very fortunate to be able to play the tourist guide for my very good friend, Ralph and his very lovely wife, Lesley. Hailing from Melbourne, the well-travelled pair had just disembarked from a flight out of London after their 5-week tour of Europe. They specifically stopped in to Singapore on their way home to spend time with us and indulge in some Singapore culture.

Ralph and Lesley - The Express Tourists

Ralph and Lesley - The Express Tourists

The only downfall of the entire day, was that in such a short time I did not manage to change or alter Ralph’s very dubious NRL (national rugby league) team affiliations, nor his very unhealthy appreciation of the player commonly referred to as ‘Billy the Kid’ (Billy Slater) – I will save this topic for another article some other time.

Given that flight QF10 touched down in Singapore in the early evening of Sunday, and departed again around 8pm last night (Monday), by the time you take into account the immigration and customs time and travelling to and from our home, it only allowed us around 18-hours to offer up the best of Singapore that we could manage in such a short period (including a night’s sleep). Obviously, the local food culture was a perfect platform to base the visit around.

The Crabs Cannot Be More Fresh

The Crabs Cannot Be More Fresh

Hence follows the ‘Express Tourist – Singapore in 18-Hours’.

8:30pm – Dinner at Fernvale Point Food Court (Koufu hawker centre)

After arrival at our home in Fernvale, quick calls back home, a freshen-up and quick play with the kids, we decided the most convenient way to jump into Singapore food, was to take Ralph and Lesley to our local haunt. The difference here to the standard chicken rice or 1-meat 3-veg options, was that as part of the shops in this hawker centre, we also have a very high standard selection of sit down, a-la-carte style food. This offers a nearly restaurant style menu and experience. And the food is actually awesome.

Ralph and Lesley are not fans of any very spicy food (chilli), so we were a little restricted with the selection. But we were not about to let this small detail hold us back. So we absolutely stuffed ourselves with Salted Egg prawns, hot plate venison, egg with onion, egg with minced meat, lemon chicken, seafood fried rice, Hong Kong style noodles, king of pork ribs… and a couple of other dishes, which allude me right now. Lesley even dared to try local kopi (although she found it a little sweet for her liking – I’ve become immune to the caffeine and sugar kick over the years… still my favourite coffee).

Salted Egg Prawn

Salted Egg Prawn

So we rolled home, showered, gossiped, played with the kids, argued about football and by sometime well after midnight managed to hit the hay for some shut-eye.

8:00am – Pete’s Home Cooked Turkey Bacon and Eggs

Always on the menu for any visitors that stay with us. We rose to alarm clocks at 7:30am, and wiping the sleepy-dust from my eyes and shaking the head clear, I prepared the now traditional Aussie Pete breakfast – accompanied of course by coffee and orange juice.

9:00am – First of the whirlwind outings and photo opportunities

We left home and braved the (close to) peak hour traffic down the CTE – surprisingly enough, the trip showed a very light side of traffic flow in Singapore. We managed to arrive at One Fullerton car park only some 25 minutes after leaving our apartment.
After a short walk around the area and into Merlion Park – we were quite disappointed to find that the icon of Singapore was closed for a facelift (in preparation for its 40th birthday in September) – we jumped on a bumboat with Singapore River Cruise.

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The 40-minute ‘Tale of 2 Quays’ cruise took us around the various tourist hot-spots – photo ops such as the Art Science Museum, Marina Bay Sands, Anderson Bridge, Fullerton, Cavenagh Bridge, Boat Quay, Raffles Landing Site, Elgin and Coleman bridges, Central and Clark Quay and up to Liang Court (and back again).

The Poor Old Merlion - Undergoing a Facelift

The Poor Old Merlion - Undergoing a Facelift

Along with the other passengers (3 other Aussies – 2 cane toads and 1 cockroach), a collective sigh went up, when they tourists realized that Sir Stamford Raffles was actually facing in the wrong direction for a good picture… I didn’t notice, because I was too busy ducking my head away from the financial district in case my boss happened to be peering out of the top floor of our building – here I was gallivanting and playing guide instead of being at work (of course I had taken a vacation for the day).

Upon return to the Merlion Park jetty, we had another quick walk and a cool drink to rehydrate then Lesley wanted a quick browse in one of the souvenir shops.

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12:00pm Lunch (Feast) at Bottle Tree Park

We left the bay area with time enough to collect Sammi from Jaime’s kindergarten and head on out to Yishun, to another of our mandatory visitor treats – and also our all-time favourite dining location, Bottle Tree Park (off Lorong Chencharu).

Here is where the real eating (pigging out) took place. The dishes consisted (among others), of pumpkin and pork rib soup (served in a pumpkin of course), crispy roasted chicken (whole), crispy Shanghai stlye pig trotter (huge), Sea Bass steamed and served in HK style sauce (melt in the mouth), their signature Pork and Egg dish (always popular), and of course the obligatory Chilli Sri Lankan Crab (for the locals) and Creamy Butter Crab (for the non-spicy visitors)… at least I got Ralph to try the chilli crab sauce, by dipping the corner of a fried bun and tasting – although it took him about 15-min afterwards to cool down. :)

Signature - Chilli Crab

Signature - Chilli Crab

As usual, our eyes were too big for our bellies, so we had more than enough to ‘da bao’ for dinner later.

2:30pm – Orchard Road and Shopping

Orchard Road Shopping

Orchard Road Shopping

Back in the car (squeezing) and back down the CTE, we landed in the heart of Orchard Road. We wanted to show a couple of different sides to shopping in Singapore and this globally known strip. So rather than do much walking up and down the length of Orchard Road, we did the up-market and branded type outlets in Paragon and Takashimaya and balanced it off with the bargain-basement style of Lucky Plaza. For those of you already familiar with these local retail landmarks, you will easily identify with the contradiction of these shopping experiences.

Lucky My Boss Isn't Looking Out The Window

Lucky My Boss Isn't Looking Out The Window

4:30pm – Back Home and Departure Preparations

With the family reunited after kindergarten, sightseeing and shopping we took the time for a final catch-up at home (although I was actually feeling quite worn out and succumbed to a 10-minute power nap as well – unplanned).

Dinner (or ‘tea’ as it is commonly referred to in Australia – I sometimes forget local Aussie English, and it actually surprises me to hear how weird some terms that I grew up with actually now sound… the word tea for me now is usually accompanied with another descriptor – ‘green’, ‘ice-lemon’ etc. I forgot that I once used it to describe an entire meal) – did not happen – unanimous decision! At least not so early – we took some food (da bao from lunch) and fed the boys a little later after we returned from the airport.

Some final packing and freshen up and back to Terminal 1 for the Qantas flight.

6:20pm – Check-In at Changi Airport

True to form, I landed us at the check-in counter exactly 2-hours before scheduled flight departure time. With little or no queue to speak of, we all took the opportunity to browse the terminal bookstore (I was actually without reading material for my de-stressing evening bath-time, which is very unusual – so why not kill two birds with one stone).

Some final farewells, and Jaime getting a little sad and watery-eyed (as is always the case with departing visitors), Ralph and Lesley entered the immigration area for the final time on this trip. I am quite certain that after 5-weeks abroad, coping with jet-lag and being walked and eaten off their feet in such a short time in Singapore, they would have been more than happy to return to the comfort of their own bed (I’m wondering if they even managed to wake up for a meal on the plane). :)

Ralph (MBS in the Background)

Ralph (MBS in the Background)

In all, we had a very enjoyable, albeit short time, with one of my best mates and his wife – pictured above with the MBS in the background.

Click here to view all pictures of the Express Tourist (added so far)

Proof Of An Idiot! Check Out My Forehead Tattoo! Radio Sponsors?

By Aussie Pete, May 2, 2012 2:15 am

I ask you, dear readers – what on this earth motivates someone to get ink permanently etched in to their forehead? For the life of me, it’s one of those strange phenomena that I just can’t seem to comprehend.

Thinking more seriously about it, I contemplated what I might look like with a forehead tattoo. Even more thought provoking, is what wise words would I decide upon. The following is the result of my deep reflection on the subject:

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OK, so maybe you don’t want to ever get a real job again… or maybe you want the world to see you and identify you as the criminal that you probably are… but I just wonder how you feel each morning you wake up and look in the mirror – is there any regret? Have you ever wondered to yourself, “Yes, I’m an Idiot!” or “Gee – that was pretty stupid of me!”?

Well, the old forehead tattoo seems to be getting quite popular with inmates of various prisons around the USA.

The latest addition to this very scholarly group of creative geniuses, is one 33-year old woman from Ohio… at least Jamie Calloway, who has been arrested for “misdemeanor menacing by stalking” seems to have a religious message for her fellow prisoners (she allegedly slashed her victim’s tyres, constantly called the victim’s phone and sent her packages in the mail – her victim is a corrections officer that Calloway took a liking to during a previous stint in the lock-up).

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you, the angelic Jamie Calloway:

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Joining Ms Calloway in the “Idiot Forehead Tattoos” Hall of Fame are the following very friendly looking folks…

First up, is 21-year old Californian, Patrick Brooks – in jail for burglary, forgery and receiving stolen property (oh, and parole violation) – really nice guy right? I’m sure they will love his attitude tattoo inside (I’ve censored here to protest the innocent) :)

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Next up… like father like son – I bet he grew up saying “I wanna be just like my Dad one day!!” Well, you achieved your goal, young fella!

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This one’s kind of surprising, because I don’t reckon he looks much like the criminal type. In the first mug shot on the left, Robert Norton Kennedy from South Carolina just had the quote from Matthew 19:26 (“With God All Things Are Possible”) – he had been arrested for assault and battery. The next time the 51-year old was arrested (for larceny), he had expanded his work of art with musical notes and references to passages from Psalms and Romans:

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The next Hall-of-Famer, is 48-year old, David Jonathan Winkelman. His crime was just a misdemeanor of operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent. The larger crime was that many years ago, he accepted a challenge from a radio disc jockey who offered listeners a six-figure payout if they tattooed the station’s call letters and logo on their forehead. He now proudly and permanently promotes “93 Rock,” the “Quad City Rocker”.

Hmmm – I wonder how much Gold 90FM in Singapore would pay me to do the same for them? I’m a huge fan – come on my friends, father and son team, the Richmonds (Gold Breakfast) or Tim or Maggie (Drive Home) – why not make me an offer??

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I’ve got nothing to add to the Alabama man’s message to the world below:

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Finally – this guy must be a real genius indeed!! Not to mention very cowardly!! 27-year old Jerome Smith was arrested for striking an 8-month pregnant woman in the head with a gun. He’ll get everything he deserves – final proof that criminality and idiocy to in fact go hand in hand…

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Source: Aussie Pete (the Idiot?)

Key Learnings – SG Immigration No U-Turn Policy – Travellers Take Note!

By Aussie Pete, March 31, 2012 8:42 pm

Source: Aussie Pete Legacy Blog

icalogo01As a partner to MICA (ministry of communications and the arts) to promote Singapore to foreigners and locals alike, as a great place to work, live, study and play, I find it unfortunate and disappointing to write the following article.

As the saying goes – “We are never too old to learn”… after 7-years living in Singapore, I learned something new a few weekends ago… the policy that is known as a ‘U-turn’ within the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority. Boy oh boy, did this cause my family and I some grief. :(

nouturn01Firstly, I want to make it completely clear that I have no qualms or complaints about the policies, rules, regulations or laws with respect to Singapore Immigration. In fact, I have always been (and continue to be) a proponent of the laws set forth… the last thing we would ever do as a PR family, would be to try and break or bend any regulations (this doesn’t mean I fully understand the reasoning behind certain policies).

Here’s the background… my wife’s ageing, retired parents have come to Singapore to spend time with their grandchildren, who were both born here in Singapore. Prior to departure from Shanghai a few weeks ago, they applied through the appropriate channels and received a multiple entry tourist visa to Singapore, valid for 12-months – at time of application and as a part of the process, they were required to submit a copy of their flight details and itinerary indicating the time and date of their return flight to China.

We were obviously aware before their vacation, that the social visit pass that would be endorsed in their passports upon arrival should allow them to stay for 30-days. Given that it was also their desire to visit surrounding areas (Malaysia and Indonesia), they ensured that they also attained any necessary further visas for travel (eg. single entry visa to Malaysia). Taking into consideration all of the above, I contacted ICA to determine whether or not an application for extension of social visit pass (short term) or an application for long-term social visit pass would be required – to date, I have still not had a response to this query.

batamferrymapSo here’s what happened… my in-laws decided that for their first trip to surrounding areas, they would like to visit the Indonesian island of Batam (just around 40-minute ferry ride from the terminal at Tanah Merah and to the south of Singapore). We booked in for a 2D/1N stay at the Turi Beach Resort, packed up the kids and all six of us checked in at the ferry terminal early on Saturday morning.

Knowing full well that my in-laws had a valid multiple entry visa to Singapore and Indonesia would issue a visa upon arrival, I made sure that we carried all associated paperwork (including air tickets back to China that they used when applying for their SG visas) with us to avoid any unnecessary delays or concerns over the travel plans and my in-laws’ intentions around their stay in Singapore.

Given that we would be leaving the shores of Singapore through immigration and returning again later the following day, my assumption was that my in-laws would be ‘stamped out’ and then a new social visit pass would be chopped in their passport when we arrived back on shore.

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Herein lies the lesson!! I know, I know… ASSUME = ASS, U and ME… for any person travelling out of Singapore and returning within 5-days, it is considered by immigration officers as a ‘U-Turn’ and is not the appropriate process to follow when renewing or extending the social visit pass.

As mentioned in my opening comments, I have absolutely no problems with the rules. My main issue is that we had never been made aware of this ‘U-Turn’ policy. Even after reaching out to ICA and receiving no response, we had been completely transparent with our intentions and had no underlying motives or hidden agendas around the grandparents of my children visiting and staying with us for vacation. We carried with us all original documentation – visas, itineraries, airline tickets, etc, etc.

My secondary issue – and my biggest concern – was the treatment that my ageing mother-in-law received at the hands of a particular angry lady at the border when we were exiting Singapore. I still have no idea who she was or what her position is (although I am assuming some kind of supervisory role), as I had asked for her name and designation, which she refused to provide me.

bully01The incident left my mother-in-law short of breath, shaking uncontrollably and on the verge of fainting. This ICA officer threatened that there was a chance that she could be sent back to China within 24-hours upon her return to Singapore. This, regardless of the fact that she was in possession of a valid multiple-entry visa and supporting documents, and the more personal and sensitive situation, that she was travelling with her family – her husband, also travelling under the exact same circumstances who had been cleared by the same officer just minutes before with no concern, her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren (all Singapore permanent residents). The bullying tactics should never have occurred in this situation, in my opinion.

I clearly understand that the Immigration officers have a very important job to do, and they are doing an excellent job of protecting our borders. However, when it comes to dealing with law-abiding people who are doing nothing but enjoying time with their families and have clearly done everything possible to offer transparency and follow all the rules and laws, there should definitely be some form of decorum, respect, or even downright good-nature. I was trying to discuss the situation with the officer (supervisor?) to explain what we were doing and that we had already reached out to ICA. She was clearly not listening to me and was intent on being arrogant and wielding her authority – to the point that it made this elderly traveler (my wife’s mother) extremely distressed… it’s important to note that the dialog and threats of 24-hour return to China (not sure if it’s considered ‘deportation’?) was not immediately understood as the entire discussion was in English language, of which my mother-in-law has very little understanding… this just added to her distress.

This all occurred before we even boarded the ferry to Batam – not an ideal way to begin a vacation right?

Determined not to let the departure incident ruin our vacation, we still did our best to enjoy the fun in the sun

Determined not to let the departure incident ruin our vacation, we still did our best to enjoy the fun in the sun

So the question remains, dear readers…. What happened when we returned to Singapore?? I‘m glad you asked!! :)

Thankfully, we were served by a much more considerate and understanding young guy in immigration who was pleasant and explained clearly the U-Turn policy.

When we approached the counter, another immigration officer who had witnessed the incident the day before, advised the guy that served us to check for this ‘U-Turn’ for my wife’s parents. Our counter was very quickly attended by another ‘supervisor’ to oversee the interaction. Once again, this lady was extremely professional and courteous in her manner… she supported the officer’s explanation that in and out of Singapore within 24-hours is not considered appropriate process to extend a short term social visit (minimum of 3-days out of the country is required – which I’ve later discovered is incorrect… the required length of time out of SG is 5 days), and if my in-laws wished to extend in the future, it should be done through the ICA head office (the same office which previously – seemingly – ignored my enquiry on this matter).

I am extremely grateful to the officer and his supervisor who attended to us upon our return. They were very approachable and understanding and resolved the situation kindly and amicably… the rude, arrogant lady from the previous day could take some lessons from their attitude and demeanor. Like I said, I know that she was doing her job and I am thankful for ICA keeping Singapore safe, but scaring the hell out of elderly people visiting their grandchildren who were born and living in Singapore using intimidation tactics is unacceptable in my books.

So there you go – after much searching, I have not found any information on the ICA website about this U-Turn policy, nor can I find any documentation to state that such practice is unacceptable (even though we were clearly completely transparent about our intentions, up to and including trying to seek information directly from ICA in advance). I did however, learn that by applying through the X-tend online short-term social visit portal, it does state that five days is required out of the country for ICA not to consider the departure as an extension to the current visit.

questionmarkIn conclusion, I have a few ‘rhetorical’ questions (not actually looking for answers – just wondering, really):

1 – Should ICA make it clear to all visitors (on their visitors section of their website) about the U-Turn policy?

2 – Why would a multiple-entry visa to Singapore be issued to travelers in the above situation?

3 – Why is there a separate process outside of visa issuance for short-term social visit pass (that is, when I receive a multiple entry visa for travel to China, the rules are very simple and clear – it is a condition of the visa that I can stay for a maximum of 30-days at any one time – regardless of how often I travel in and out of China on this visa – no separate visit pass is required)?

4 – Given that it is at the discretion of the officer serving you at the border how long he or she should endorse your passport for the social visit visa, should there be some kind of transparency to the public around how such determination would be made (as opposed to intimidating departing travelers just because maybe the officer in question might be having a bad day)?

5 – I am aware of travel packages to Singapore out of China, which include 1 or 2 day visits to surrounding areas. How do these travel agents get around the U-Turn policy, I wonder?

6 – Should the determination on extension of visit visas include some assessment of the family status and intentions of the visitors – that is, some kind of case-by-case compassion analysis?

More fun in the sun on Batam Island

More fun in the sun on Batam Island

A serious thank you again to the Immigration and Checkpoints of Authority of Singapore (ICA). Ultimately and overall, they are doing a fantastic job and deserve the full respect of all Singaporeans, PRs and Visitors.

Update: after application via ICA’s online X-tend website, extension of the short term visit passes has been rejected (with no right to reply or appeals process) and my in-laws have paid the financial and emotional penalty of changing their flights and will be departing Singapore next week.

To view all of the Batam photos in this series, click here!

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Breaking News: Australia Invades Singapore!

By Aussie Pete, March 14, 2012 11:42 pm

aussiesoldiers2Any residents of Sengkang West (specifically in the Fernvale area) could be completely forgiven for thinking that our local area was being ‘invaded’ by Aussie Ang Mohs the Saturday before last!

In fact, it was a sight to behold – the infamous ‘Singapore Wombats’ Australian Rules football team had their first training session of the year, not at their home ground at Turf City, but rather they graced our presence on the open field opposite Fernvale Primary School.

Although it’s been a couple of seasons since I donned the footy boots and hit the paddock with the Wombats myself, I’m still on the mailing list and a fan of the Facebook page. There are quite a number of new (and younger) faces these days, but also a good many of the ‘old boys’ as well.

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My wife and my orthopedic surgeon have both banned me from playing this brilliant hard full contact sport (the 6-week stint with a numb arm and chronic back pain saw to that), but when I saw the email and Facebook update that training would be happening at Fernvale, I immediately pumped up the footy and got Jaime and Casey fired up for a run and kick.

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The locals might also have looked on in wonder as the football kicked around the park was oblong in shape as opposed to round, and that the players were constantly touching it with their hands – considering the field is most commonly used for soccer, the bewilderment would be understandable.

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It was great to catch up with my mates again – I was impressed to see them make the trek to the heartlands – and my own boys had a great time… it’s very obvious they’ve got ‘Aussie’ in their blood, displaying an uncanny ability and skill that seems to pass from generation to generation in my culture. :)

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I’m also impressed at how tough Casey’s head is – when the hard ball was kicked some 40-metres and landed smack in the middle of his noggin’, it bounced off again… knocked his hat to the ground, but he remained on his feet – cried for about 5 seconds and then laughed at the fact that his sunglasses remained intact.

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In all, I reckon that the boys thought they were at a fashion parade – a couple of the Wombats said they looked as though they were part of a K-Pop band – hats and glasses – but in fact, Jaime was worried about the heat and glare, and once he dons the cool shades his brother Casey always has to follow suit :)

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Footnote: Not long now until Jaime is old enough to join the Auskick (junior kids aussie rules footy) over here – hopefully I can get to sign him up next season!

Click here to view all photos in this set

[View Original Source]

Nostalgia – Nestlé, You Made Me Cry…

By Aussie Pete, March 5, 2012 9:46 pm

When my good friend, Christine, invited Jaime and myself to attend a ‘toy making’ afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I was completed unprepared for the emotions and strong sense of nostalgia that I was going to be faced with.

Click here to view all photos in this set…

In fact, it started dawning on me during the drive in to the Arab Street area of Singapore, that perhaps I’ve not spoken enough with Jaime about my childhood and what it was like growing up in the days before computers, electronic games and today’s generation of gadgets and social networking. Or maybe I’d just forgotten myself?

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As Jaime and I discussed the kind of toys we would be making, he asked me the question: “Daddy, do you think we should bring our own batteries?”… for a moment I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. His automatic assumption was that if we were ‘making’ our own toys, then they would obviously be electronic in nature and would require a power source…. OH MY!!

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Once we arrived at Children Little Museum in Bussorah Street, I also quickly became aware that although ‘back when I was a lad’ of about Jaime’s age (4-years old), Singapore was another world away – I’m not even sure I knew that it existed (forgive me if I thought the world was indeed flat) – our cultures were already operating in parallel. With global travel something that I wouldn’t experience for almost another decade, the idea that kids my own age in a country some 6,000km away from the small rural Victorian town of Rupanyup where I was living were doing the same things as I was, was quite unfathomable.

You see, I clearly remember receiving a wooden top for my birthday… and the hours upon hours of enjoyment it provided were immeasurable. But guess what? – I have now learned that the same joy was being experienced well beyond the shores of down under and as far away as Asia.

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Then there’s the game of ‘Five Stones’ – in Australia, we called it knuckles and it was played with either a synthetic form or sometimes even real dried out knuckle bones. In Singapore, it was played with little satchels that feel like mini-bean bags (and now while we’re reminiscing, kids from my generation in Australia would see the obvious resemblance in shape of these game items to the old ‘Sunny Boys’). – Jaime got to take the ‘five stones’ home and has been trying desperately to teach Casey – I think their tiny little hands are not quite there yet :p

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Now here’s the kicker!! I would’ve placed money on the fact that Milo was as Australian as Vegemite! Once again, while we were growing up and being told to drink our Milo to get strong bones, healthy bodies and heaps of energy… so were the kids in Singapore!

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Herein is the underlying motivation for the entire afternoon… The icon behind the Milo brand is none other than Nestlé, and the team in Singapore invited us along (with some other very close mates… and even my Hong Kong travel buddies and witnesses to the now historical, 2010 Bathtub Racing Dilemma) to share in their 100th Anniversary… Yes, you heard it right – Nestlé is much older than me and was filling the Singaporean kids with sustenance long before I was even running around in nappies (and even before my mother was a wee lass… and even when my Grandparents were still little critters). :)

My dear Mum as a young girl...

My dear Mum as a young girl...

Amazing right!? The company behind every day brands such as Nescafe, Kit Kat, Maggi and Milkmaid are a century old!!

So what better way to showcase their celebrations than a walk back in time – before the iPad and Nintendo Wii were even flights of fantasy for the science fiction buffs… the ‘internet’ must have been something we used to help us fish for yabbies in the dams and mud creeks around the outskirts of town right?

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Once we arrived and had a few snacks, I was offered an iced cappuccino from this amazing futuristic looking machine (Dolce Gusto Circolo coffee machine – a modern day invention)… I MUST MUST have one!! – the flavour of my ‘cold cuppa’ was divine!… and I’m one of those guys that lives for his coffee.

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Then we learned about the 100-year history of Nestlé in Singapore from none other than the MD himself, Valerio Nannini. Mr Nannini also learned a thing or two himself – such as the fact that Nestlé produced tins with a handle on the bottom to be recycled as money containers for many of the store owners and hawkers of the day. Simply pull down on the handle and the tin moves on a pulley system – store your cash and let it fly back up – ingenious really – and an absolute nugget of a marketing and branding idea all those years ago :D

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Soon after, we were taken up a flight of stairs and were transported down another flight in time. A toy museum consisting of things I knew and things I didn’t… the school classroom setting that was so familiar to me that I was looking to see where (next to the pencil well) my name was engraved from times gone by.

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Then the fun stuff began – first we made a ‘balancing pyramid’ – an amazing device that will balance anywhere.

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Next was a kite – created and designed by us – Jaime is a much better artist than me and loves to paint, so he was the mastermind behind the design 

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On the way home, I had so many thoughts running through my mind… days gone by when life was just so simple. How great it was to be a kid – I almost wish that Jaime didn’t ever have to grow up. As I looked to Jaime and saw him completely sound asleep, the tears again welled in my eyes… I could say it was because a piece of dust had lodged in them, or that the sun was just a little too bright – but either of these excuses would be a lie.

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Thank you Nestlé for a magical afternoon… thank you for inspiring memories long-forgotten… thank you for some wonderful bonding time with my son… and finally, THANK YOU for growing with me from early childhood until now!!

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Footnote: Keep your eye out for another initiative that Nestlé Singapore will be undertaking as part of their 100 year celebrations – the fulfillment of 100 wishes for lucky people. Simply visit the Nestlé 100 years website and check it out – Wishes should reflect the theme of “Good Food, Good Life” and must be meaningful and beneficial! Closing date will be 15th Nov 2012. So what are you waiting for??

Source: Aussie Pete

Amazing World… Amazing Pictures!

By Aussie Pete, December 23, 2011 12:00 am

My good ol’ mate, Ralphie, in Melbourne has done it again. He always seems to get his hands on some of the most remarkable stuff and never fails to share with me on email.

In this edition, some of the most amazing pictures that you will ever see… ENJOY!!

ASIDE: Wishing a Blessed and Merry Christmas and a Safe and Prosperous New Year to Ralph and his family… have a beer for me mate.

The world’s highest chained carousel, located in Vienna, the height of 117 metres:

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Thor’s Well – “the gates of the dungeon.” CapePerpetua, Oregon. At moderate tide and strong surf, flowing water creates a fantastic landscape:

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Emerald Lake in the crater of an extinct volcano. Tongariro National Park – NewZealand:

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Restaurant on a cliff on the east coast of Zanzibar. Depending on the tide the restaurant can be reached both on foot and by boat:

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Office of Selgas Cano in Madrid:

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Desert with Phacelia (Scorpion Weed). Flowering once in several years:

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Balloons in Cappadocia:

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Dubai. The view from the skyscraper BurjKhalifa. The height of buildings is 828m (163 floors):

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And this is the view down:

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These trees grow in the forest near Gryfino, Poland. The cause of the curvature is unknown:

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The border between Belgium and the Netherlands in a cafe:

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Twice a year in the Gulf of Mexico rays migrate. About 10 thousand stingrays swim from the Yucatan Peninsula to Florida in the spring and back in the fall:

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In the resort town of Skagen you can watch an amazing natural phenomenon. This city is the northernmost point of Denmark, where the Baltic and North Seas meet. The two opposing tides in this place can not merge because they have different densities:

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In the Chinese province of Shandong is a bridge across the Gulf of Jiaozhou. The bridge length over 36 km is calculated for eight car lanes, and is the longest sea bridge in the world:

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Day and night. The monument in Kaunas, Lithuania:

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An unusual tunnel in California’s Sequoia National Park:

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This statue, created by Bruno Catalano, is located in France:

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Family Photo:

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The longest traffic jam in the world recorded in China. Its length is 260 kilometres:

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Paris computer games store. In fact, the floor is absolutely flat:

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Marcus Levine – slaughtering an artist in the literal sense. He creates his paintings by nailing a white wooden panel. At his latest series of paintings exhibited in a gallery in London, Marcus has spent more than 50,000 pieces of iron:

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In the city of Buford (USA) lives just one person. He works as a janitor and as a Mayor:

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Autumn Camouflage:

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Haus Rizzi – Germany:

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Lena Pillars. Russia, the Lena River:

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Banpo Bridge in Seoul, South Korea:

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Favelas of Brazil. The boundary between wealth and poverty:

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Lost paradise in the Indian Ocean. Isle of Lamu:

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Balcony of floor 103 in Chicago

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From the outside it looks like:

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View of the sunset from inside the wave:

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This is a unique geological phenomenon known as Danxia landform. These phenomena can be observed in several places in China. This example is located in Zhangye, Province of Gansu. The color is the result of an accumulation for millions of years of red sandstone and other rocks:

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In northwestern Montana, USA. The water is so transparent that it seems that this is a quite shallow lake. In fact, it’s very deep:

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Airport in the Maldives is located on an artificial island in the middle of the Indian Ocean:

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Lighthouse guard in Mare, France must be one of the most courageous people on the planet! Not everyone will have a smoke in such weather, and in such a place!:

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Photo of storm in Montana, USA, 2010:

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Skyscraper-Crescent Crescent Moon Tower (Dubai):

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Heavy fog in Sydney, which enveloped the whole city:

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The river above the river: Magdeburg Water Bridge, Germany:

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Morning Glory – kind of clouds observed in the Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia:

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Gibraltar Airport is one of the most extraordinary airports in the world:

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Source: Aussie Pete Legacy Blog

Singapore Is Beautiful – No Matter Which Way You Look At It

By Aussie Pete, December 19, 2011 12:53 am

Please note: Click on the images to view larger and higher resolution

With the timing and lighting just right, Singapore’s Marina Bay looks beautiful – upside down or right side up!

Stunning: Towering skyscrapers are reflected in the calm water of Singapore's Marina Bay

Stunning: Towering skyscrapers are reflected in the calm water of Singapore's Marina Bay

The following amazing pictures of Singapore’s iconic skyline reflected into the calm waters are the work of 33-year-old landscape designer, Vorrarit Anantsorrarak.

Vorrarit said, “My project started in December 2008 when I decided to do my first travelling to Japan… I saw the incredible site of the Osaka skyline reflected in the water and used my camera to capture the moment… After that trip I became addicted and have taken pictures in Thailand, Singapore and even China.”

Light show: Vehicle bridges leading to the iconic Sands buildings of Marina Bay are transformed into a visual treat in the quiet of the Singapore night

Light show: Vehicle bridges leading to the iconic Sands buildings of Marina Bay are transformed into a visual treat in the quiet of the Singapore night

You might be thinking that the image reflections must be the work of photoshop, but Vorrarit has insisted that his photos are all the result of his skill and timing.

High stakes: Singapore's iconic Sands building casino and resort is mirrored by the tranquil dawn light

High stakes: Singapore's iconic Sands building casino and resort is mirrored by the tranquil dawn light

He continued, “I love all the lights and vivid colours you can see in man-made structures… The reflections merge the buildings into natural form which reveals a different side to them… I sometimes flip my pictures over and try to make people guess which images is real and which is the reflection.”

The Marina Bay esplanade in Singapore: 33-year-old landscape designer, Vorrarit Anantsorrarak spent four years capturing a series of stunning reflective images taken across Asia

The Marina Bay esplanade in Singapore: 33-year-old landscape designer, Vorrarit Anantsorrarak spent four years capturing a series of stunning reflective images taken across Asia

Labour of love: Photographer Anantsorrarak wanted the light to be absolutely perfect so he would get up at the crack of dawn to capture these spectacular images

Labour of love: Photographer Anantsorrarak wanted the light to be absolutely perfect so he would get up at the crack of dawn to capture these spectacular images

Source: Aussie Pete

I’m Not A Tourist (Or A Celebrity)… Or Am I? Hmmm…

By Aussie Pete, December 2, 2011 12:43 am

I’ll explain the ‘Not a Tourist’ piece in a moment, but first let me touch on the celebrity part…

I’ve actually been trying to play things a little more low key these past few months, following on from a year that’s seen more commitments than I can throw a stick at. With my ‘day job’ creating quite a significant workload outside of office hours (late night conference calls and 2012 planning) and my Grassroots activities, I’ve had to knock back literally dozens of ‘extra-curricular’ activities and engagements.

I'm not a tourist because...

I'm not a tourist because...

Having said that, the month of November saw a remarkable amount of exposure across various media – traditional and digital. With appearances on TV, interviews and ‘exclusives’ on a couple of international news websites, on Monday this week the Straits Times ran an article penned by one of their journalists based out of Sydney – I kindly agreed to the interview for this and was a little stunned to see how large the picture of my family was that was run with the story – I had SMS’s, emails, phone calls from every man and his dog to tell me about it.

Seriously? Looking out across Orchard Road

Seriously? Looking out across Orchard Road

Then the very next day, as Sammi and I were walking up Orchard Road to TAB to attend the official launch event for Notatourist.sg – I kid you not – our photos… one of me and another of Sammi and the boys appeared on the large screen facing the most famous of Singapore’s shopping strips. Let me tell you, Sammi and I took more than a double-take… how very surreal!

notatouristlogo02The reason for the images being displayed (along with the pictures of other ‘expat writers’) was part of the launch event.

As part of the proceedings, I was invited to participate on stage as a panelist in an informal dialog… along with local celebrities, the one and only (very cool) Hossan Leong and famous author and columnist, Neil Humphreys – a couple of very funny guys… I felt very honoured to meet them both.

Aussie Pete, Neil Humphreys and Hossan Leong

Aussie Pete, Neil Humphreys and Hossan Leong

Expat Panelists

Expat Panelists

I have gladly agreed to be part of the editorial team at the newly launched Notatourist.sg.

NOT A TOURIST

notatourist.sg is about you — You, the expatriate in Singapore, in discovering your home away from home.

You’re an expat, not a tourist. You can pepper your English with lah’s and can’s, you know why taxis seem to be in hiding just before midnight, and you know that tissue packets left on hawker centre tables is not a process to be trifled with.

I'm not a tourist because...

I'm not a tourist because...

Maybe you are here for the abundant career opportunities, or you are trailing a spouse, or simply for the endless sunshine, clean parks and fantastic chilli sauce. Whatever the case may be, notatourist.sg recognises that the expatriation process is about creating your own identity and foundations in Singapore, living life here to build lasting memories to share with each other and loved ones at home.

The stories you will find here are on the ground—real and raw—written by you and fellow like-minded individuals. We share stories from expatriates of all backgrounds, so that you find your commonality in the joys, quirks and even gripes unique to your Singapore experience. In this community and endless resource for advice, find tips on the relocation process, on easing into the local scene and on how to get to those hidden finds beyond Orchard Road.

We welcome you to join our network and feel a sense of home in Singapore. Making new connections is just the beginning of what this Lion City has to offer.

notatourist.sg is built in partnership with SingTel

Click here to check out more photos from the launch event!

Source: Aussie Pete Blog

Incredible (And Often Hilarious) India!

By Aussie Pete, November 8, 2011 11:56 pm

I often get emails and suggestions from friends and readers offering content for my blog, but more often than not I don’t feel the same inspiration that the sender did when they made the sugggestion.

In today’s case, things were quite different. I received an email from one of my colleagues who thought I might get a kick out of the following pictures… and that I did, my friends. Actually, I found myself laughing out loud – literally.

Incredible India?

Incredible India?

Now, we all could share funny photographs from any one particular country – just take for example a screaming, neurotic fan at an AFL match in Melbourne – by other countries’ standards, the image would most probably be considered amazing and even funny.

The following images are from the culturally rich and colourful country that is ‘Incredible India’ – you may just find some of the pictures quite ‘incredible’ – I know I certainly did.

So – sit back… scroll down… and enjoy!!

(No commentary or captions required)

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