Trashing St Kilda

A quirky tradition of St Kilda is the impromptu recycling residents perform by leaving their unwanted rummage on the footpath for others to usurp, free of charge. Beggars can be choosers after all. Almost all of it seems to get snatched up. When I put a refrigerator outside after dutifully duck-taping it closed and calling the council to pick it up, my neighbours came a-knockin’ asking whether it still worked. “Of course,” I answered “but once I couldn’t cram anymore cash inside, what was I to do with it?” Ask a silly question…

Some stuff nobody wants; tube TV’s and CD racks come to mind. These spend a long time out there. When analogue broadcast met its demise, one couldn’t walk down the street without climbing over once-loved TVs.
Continue reading Trashing St Kilda

06. Rash Acts in Singapore

  1. 01. Intrepid Intentions
  2. 02. Boppin’ & Baskin’ in Bangkok
  3. 03. But I Must!
  4. 04. My Malaysian Debut
  5. 05. Singapore is amazing
  6. 06. Rash Acts in Singapore

Singapore has changed remarkably and rapidly, yet the same gracious city sat before me. I’ve switched planes at the flawless Changi airport several times, but only once have visited the city, and that was some 15 years ago.

We set out determined to be as gracious as its denizens. Today’s agenda was to visit the new must-sees, and revisit some of the old. .

Top on this list was the new Marina Bay Sands Skypark, a dynamic architectural monstrosity that resembles a cruise ship run aground atop three sixty story buildings. Instantly iconic, like the Sydney Opera House or the Eifel Tower, the locals better enjoy looking at it because it is almost always in view.

IMG_6299We decided to take a page from Guy de Maupassant’s book, and headed to the Skypark for lunch. (Guy always dined atop the Eiffel Tower, explaining “It’s the only place in Paris that you can’t see the Eiffel Tower.”) Continue reading 06. Rash Acts in Singapore

05. Singapore is amazing

  1. 01. Intrepid Intentions
  2. 02. Boppin’ & Baskin’ in Bangkok
  3. 03. But I Must!
  4. 04. My Malaysian Debut
  5. 05. Singapore is amazing
  6. 06. Rash Acts in Singapore

The flight from Penang pulled up to the gate at Singapore’s Changi International Airport at 6:30pm, 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Pointing to my watch, I predicted “I bet we’re out of the airport by seven!”

“Really?” Frank Lee replied, brow furrowed.

Sure enough, by 6:57 pm, we had passed through immigration control, collected our checked baggage, cleared customs, withdrawn Singaporean dollars from an ATM, stood in a taxi queue for less than sixty seconds, and now watched the taxi driver load our bags into the sizeable boot of his built-to-Singaporean-specifications cab. They fit; a first on this trip. After a quick $30 cab ride, we had checked into our central Singapore hotel room by 7:30 pm.

“That was amazing!” Frank Lee exclaimed.IMG_6284

“Which part?” I asked.

“All of it!”

I shrugged. “Singapore is amazing.” Continue reading 05. Singapore is amazing

04. My Malaysian Debut

  1. 01. Intrepid Intentions
  2. 02. Boppin’ & Baskin’ in Bangkok
  3. 03. But I Must!
  4. 04. My Malaysian Debut
  5. 05. Singapore is amazing
  6. 06. Rash Acts in Singapore

     With four hours to go, we settled into the last two remaining seats in the second class carriage. Actually, they weren’t seats yet, as the attendant hadn’t closed up the Pullman style beds. So we slouched on the bottom bunk, waiting for the giggling train staff to finish entertaining each other with our aborted boarding story. I’m pleased to have brought a little joy into their otherwise humdrum lives.

It became apparent that while the former first class passengers – us – had been put through the wringer at Hat Yai, the second class passengers spent a leisurely twenty minutes converting Thai baht into Malaysian ringgit, and stocking up on food and drink. We had had no breakfast, not even a coffee, and no lunch was in sight. Not only had the dining car disappeared with the first class carriage, even if it hadn’t, we had zero ringgit. Other than a small bag of chips which had survived the night (and thank heavens for that), we would have no sustenance until we alighted in Butterworth at 2pm. With longing fascination we watched the others eat. It is a miracle we didn’t kill each other. Continue reading 04. My Malaysian Debut

03. But I Must!

  1. 01. Intrepid Intentions
  2. 02. Boppin’ & Baskin’ in Bangkok
  3. 03. But I Must!
  4. 04. My Malaysian Debut
  5. 05. Singapore is amazing
  6. 06. Rash Acts in Singapore

To start at the ending, let me say that sometimes resistance to authority is involuntary, even in times of military coup.

Our train was scheduled to depart Bangkok at 2:45pm, so we had a leisurely morning by the pool to reflect. Happily, the warnings of death and deprivation from torrential rain, floods and mudslides in our path disappeared without incident or explanation. Not so happily, at least not for Cambodians working illegally in Thailand, the junta announced a crackdown on these entrepreneurs. Nobody was sure what that meant, but neither was anybody waiting around to find out, the result being a surge in ticket sales of anything moving people towards the Cambodian border. We were headed in the other direction, towards Malaysia; Penang to be specific.

I will take this opportunity to remind you that these writings are not intended to be “guides”, but rather one man’s opinion, namely, mine. This approach frees the author – me – to say some horrible things about a destination. I’ve never seen a Frommer’s, nor  Fodor’s, nor a Lonely Planet guide open with “Before visiting here, think again.” Continue reading 03. But I Must!

02. Boppin’ & Baskin’ in Bangkok

  1. 01. Intrepid Intentions
  2. 02. Boppin’ & Baskin’ in Bangkok
  3. 03. But I Must!
  4. 04. My Malaysian Debut
  5. 05. Singapore is amazing
  6. 06. Rash Acts in Singapore

It was dark. The feral dogs sensed our distress, their teeth glimmering in the distant streetlight. We were drenched in sweat from having carried, more than rolled, our wheelie bags for over a half-hour, the mangled narrow Bangkok sidewalks being unsuitable for walking, much less rolling. I still don’t know where we went wrong.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt looked simple enough on Google maps, a 25 minute jaunt of slightly over 2 kms, only three turns, all to the right, and we’d be at our hotel.  Maybe we exited from the wrong end of the Makkasan Airport Link station.  Whatever the reason, when the second right over the canal (expected) dead-ended (unexpected), I knew we were lost. Continue reading 02. Boppin’ & Baskin’ in Bangkok

01. Intrepid Intentions

  1. 01. Intrepid Intentions
  2. 02. Boppin’ & Baskin’ in Bangkok
  3. 03. But I Must!
  4. 04. My Malaysian Debut
  5. 05. Singapore is amazing
  6. 06. Rash Acts in Singapore

It is Friday the thirteenth, there’s a full moon, and we’re flying into the middle of a military coup. Which would indicate that while we are neither superstitious nor vampires, we may be stupid.

But, then, Thailand has had about twenty coups over the past century, indicative of a military more interested in seizing power than wielding it. The current fuss is a response to “unrest” resultant of one mob who wear yellow shirts and call themselves “the Yellow Shirts” and another mob who wear red shirts, calling themselves “the Red Shirts”. It goes without saying that Thailand, like most of Asia, is not renowned for its branding expertise. Continue reading 01. Intrepid Intentions