Posts tagged: Travel

Self-Confessed Up-Skirt Pervert Escapes Prosecution

By , October 14, 2012 8:49 pm

A mid-air pervert has escaped with no charges, due to a loop hole in Japanese law.

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The so-called “Peeping Tom”, used a pen-shaped camera to take an upskirt shot of a cabin attendant during a domestic flight from Takamatsu (in the southwest of the country) to Tokyo last month.

However the Japan Airlines passenger got away scot free after prosecutors failed to decide “which prefecture the plane was flying over at the time”.

The 34-year-old man reached out from his seat, with a micro-camera concealed in his hand and took the picture of the flight attendant.

When he was arrested by police, he actually admitted what he had done, saying that he was “aroused by uniforms”.

At first, the police had determined the photo was taken over the western prefecture of Hyogo. This was based on eye-witness accounts and after analysis of flight data.

But prosecutors decided that they were actually unable to rule out (without benefit of doubt) that the photo may have been taken when the plane was over other nearby prefectures.

Under Japanese legislation, such an offence falls under prefecture-level law to “prevent public nuisances and their applications” and require prosecutors to state the exact location of the crime.

Source: Aussie Pete

Singapore in 18 Hours – The Express Tourist

By , 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)

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

By , 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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Five Terrorists Killed – Stay Away From Bali For Now Friends

By , March 20, 2012 11:17 pm

Anyone who remembers the tragedy of the Bali bombing in 2002 which killed 202 people (including 88 Aussies), should be applauding the good work of the Indonesian police and their intelligence networks this week.

bali04

Having said that, I strongly urge all travellers with Bali on their itinerary over coming weeks, to take the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs… for the sake of your loved ones and your own safety, reconsider your plans and please delay your trip.

The intelligence community received information that terrorists were plotting to bomb the ‘La Vida Loca‘ bar which is located in the Double Six complex at Seminyak (a little north of the popular Kuta beach)… a very popular hang-out for Australians.

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The attacks were due to take place on Thursday night (which happens to coincide with ‘Nyepi’ – a day of silence to celebrate the Balinese Hindu new year).

Indonesian commandos from the ‘Detachment 88 Anti-Terrorist’ unit killed five suspects said to be behind the latest plans. The deaths were as a result of gun fights… among those gunned down in Denpasar on Sunday, was ‘Hn’ (also known as ‘Hilman’), a 32-year old known terrorist working for an organization known as Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT)… the relationship between this group and Islamic group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) is that they are both run by 73-year old Abu Bakar Bashir, who is currently incarcerated.

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According to Macquarie University terrorism expert, Clive Williams, JAT must be changing strategy if they were planning attacks against western targets in Bali. “They have been targeting Indonesian Christians, but they may now be looking to copy JI by attacking ‘sinful’ foreigners in Bali”.

Right now there are around 5000 Australians currently on vacation Bali, with another 2000 due to arrive over the coming weeks. The DFAT are strongly urging these people to reconsider their vacation plans, right at this seemingly very volatile time.

Please take heed, my friends… remember 11:05pm on the 12th October 2002 well, and what happened at the popular nightspots, Paddy’s Bar and the Sari Club.

Source: Aussie Pete

Bloody Hell Lah – Get Lost!

By , March 16, 2012 12:22 am

I always love a great marketing campaign with a quirky catchphrase!

Source: Aussie Pete

In case you’ve not seen it yet, the Singapore Tourism Board launched a major new destination marketing campaign in down under last week. “The advertisement hit cinema screens in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and will also be supported by digital, experiential, PR and social media activity rolling out over the coming months.”

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The catch phrase here, is “GET LOST”!

The press announcement can be found here…

According to Sophia Ng, Assistant Chief Executive of Marketing at the Singapore Tourism Board, “We want to showcase the city’s heady mix of cutting-edge offerings, rich cultural heritage and niche attractions, and delectable spread of multi-ethnic cuisines, and in doing so, appeal to Australians’ sense of adventure to explore and discover all these for themselves… A new found appreciation of what Singapore has evolved to be today will also give them plenty of reasons to visit, and re-visit our city. In time to come, we would like Australians to associate Singapore with more than just chilli crabs and Singapore slings”

Watch the commercial:

[youtube BBiIQVskeQs]

[Video Link]

It sort of reminds me of the campaign that ran in Australia back in 2006… although that one did cop a bit of criticism at the time – especially by our pommy friends. The commercial was actually banned in the UK because of the iconic Aussie saying “bloody hell”. But I think most Australians were sort of ok with this, because who wants pommies to visit anyway?

To my British friends – don’t be angry at me folks – you know I’m just playing with you. If I’m not making fun of you guys, I’d have to focus my attention on the Kiwis, right? 🙂

Here’s that commercial – the catch phrase, was “WHERE THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU”:

[youtube _p8-mlcxw8U]

[Video Link]

So there you go, dear readers – expect more Aussie tourists visting our shores over coming months!!

getlost02

How to Attract Attention at Airport Customs

By , July 27, 2010 11:44 pm
Now you can pretend to be an international trafficker or a kidnapper (Images courtesy of The Cheeky.com)

Now you can pretend to be an international trafficker or a kidnapper (Images courtesy of The Cheeky.com)

WARNING: This is NOT an advertorial. Use of these products is at your own personal risk (and stupidity)

logo-suitcaseMaybe this says something about my warped sense of humour, but I find these luggage stickers hilarious (available through the Canadian designers, The Cheeky.com). Funny or not, however, I am not very partial to the idea of having a full external and internal body search… and I’m sure many countries would not share in the joke. Therefore I will NOT be taking part in the gag.

Now, when travelling, you can to choose whether to be a cocaine smuggler, kidnapper, money launderer or just ‘naughty’ from this range of luggage stickers.

The products are actually being marketed as a way to clearly identify your luggage at the carousel (personally, I prefer to tie a piece of red ribbon on the handle of my suitcase, but everyone to their own, I guess).

A bag full of Adult Toys?

A bag full of Adult Toys?

Let me assure you that customs and airport security will definitely scrutinize you – the very controversial stickers include a bound and gagged flight attendant inside your suitcase, bundles of American dollar notes, a stash of cocaine and a collection of adult toys.
 
Does any one remember the allowable limit for cash?

Does any one remember the allowable limit for cash?

 
From the company website:

Take a stand against monotonous travel with Suitcase Stickers. Designed to stick to anything, they will draw attention to your bag making it easily identifiable and sure to make you some new friends.

 

Caution: Some of these stickers may cause offense to airport and immigration staff. But you would have figured that out whilst enjoying those cavity searches.Sizes 16” x 12”
 

 

 

Price $15 each
(not including postage and packing)
 

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