Archive for August, 2007

Peace, man…

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

I’m not complaining, but in the last two months, I’ve had two weeks of intense Japan travel, a week of intense alone-at-home-and-have-to-do-everything-myslf, a half week of hosting my brother’s family on my own, Naok and Zen coming back from Japan and then seven people in the apartment, then a lot of tidying when my brother’s family went back, and then a three-day business trip to Melbourne. Next week’s forecast: normal.

Basically, I had a really crazy July – I worked like mad to write my stories at the end of June and beginning of July, then I went to Japan for two weeks of touring all around, and then came back for five mad days of intense work and catching up on chores at home and hanging around in Singapore and doing lots of hard work in the office (I did TV spots on my second and third day back in the office!) and at home, and then my brother and his family came on the 30th. Happily, during those eight days on my own, I did get a chance to go to a pub to see some live music – the Prince of Wales pub in Little India in Singapore – and I went with a colleague from work and even met some cool peoplethere too. The owner of the bar found out that I play guitar and sing, so he wants me to play there some day. I will!

More crazy hard work in the office for a few days, and looking after them when I could manage, and then Naoko and Zen came back on Friday August 3rd. Their flight was late by two hours, which was good for me – it meant that I could meet them at the airport (I couldn’t have managed it if they had been on time), and we went home for a big reunion with Ralph’s family – the seven of us under one roof for the second time in three weeks, not bad!

Ralph and the kids seemed to enjoy themselves in the place and in Singapore, checking out the zoo and the downtown, with plenty of swimming and other fun stuff. On Zen’s first day back, a Saturday, we all went downtown to the main fire station to check out the displays of firefighting power – water guns, ambulances, motorcycles, oxygen masks, and a ride up a big ole cherry picker – as well as the funky museum. After that we went to Tanjong Pagar Road to eat dumplings at Peach Garden. We were the first there, so we thought it wouldn’t be very nice, but the food was good, the kids enjoyed watching the chef make noodles and boil dumplings, and everyone enjoyed it. After that we walked around Chinatown for a while and ate ice cream, took a cab home and went swimming! In the evening we headed off for a local earery for some food – Ralph’s family enjoyed it a lot, even wanted to go back for some more at a later date.

Sunday we took a cab to Sentosa Island Tanjong Beach to a place called KM8. We arrived at 10:40 or so and were there before the place opened while we waited for two of Ralph’s friends to show up. Camped out on some nice tables, watched the beautiful people roll up and unfurl their leathery bodies for a full afternoon of suntanning. The mums and the kids spent the day at the beach – overcast skies, luckily, so no sunburns – and the others all had food and beers. Nice fun time for all, we went home in two cabs for some more swimming and some food. Monday to Wednesday weren’t too memorable for us, but then on Thursday it was the National Day holiday, where we did a picnic in the Botanical Garden. We had just set up and I was running around with the kids and Ralph and Nicole went off for a walk when… it started raining very heavily (massive cloudburst). Naoko and I took the kids to shelter, while I walked around with two umbrellas to see if I could help out Ralph and Nicole, who were surely without umbrellas. As it turned out, I had walked the wrong way, but it stopped raining soon enough and we were back together and picnicking on our plastic sheets. The kids had fun running around and looking at fish and turtles in the pond, and then we went back by taxi to have another swim, and prepare for dinner. Dom Perignon champagne with our dinner as we helped to celebrate Singapore’s 42nd birthday. We also watched the NDP (a.k.a. the National Day Parade) on TV. It was an… interesting event. Singapore got a chance to show its military might, with speedboats roving the seas shooting rounds and rounds of blanks into the air and sea, while helmeted commando troops scoured the stands of happy spectators to display Singapore’s crack commando forces. Zen asked me “are they attacking Singapore?” There was also a rollerblade “happy sea creatures” show and all sorts of other non-parade activity. Very… interesting. Friday was a regular day at work, and on Saturday I went with Ralph and the family to East Coast Park to rent bicycles and chill out there. Basically, we rented bicycles fro 11:30 to 1:30, riding during the hottest part of the day, but under cloud cover and under trees with a nice sea breeze, lovely. We cycled in the direction of Changi Airport, heading out along the jetty to take some pics, then more cycling. Saw the cannonball trees and the fake water-skiing pool, then for some lunch of chicken rice and frids stuff. Yum! Returned the bikes, then played on the beach for a while. This time I brought my kite along, so I got to try that out. Wow – I never realised how fun it was to fly a kite. This one was a series of six mini-kites that flew in a line, great great great! Took a cab back from that, and once again met Naoko at that same Chinese restaurant near here (and some day I will remember the name of the street that it is on…). Went home, hung out, and said good night to the family.

Having Ralph and Nicole and the kids over was great. We’ve been guests of theirs many times, and this was the first time we could return the favour. The kids had a great time playing together, and everybody got along really well. Lauren warmed up to me, and she was very possessive of Zen. Evan was quite chilled out and enjoyed Zen’s train track – we cleared away the “coffee table” thingy that we had there and turne the living room over to the kids and the train tracks. Fun. Here’s a pic (I have more stuff on video).

living room trains

They all left very early on Sunday morning, so we woke up briefly to say goodbye but didn’t wake Zen up. The first thing he said when he woke up was “I miss Evan and Lauren.” Poor thing – it is his first day in six weeks without any cousins around, but he’ll manage. We got started quickly on tidying, and I went off with Zen to get haircuts at 11:00. Then we had a lunch and went off to see the Simpsons Movie at West Mall, then back for Zen’s swimming lesson. It was a busy day.

Monday was busy for me too – lots of regular work, and then in the evening off to the airport for my business trip to Melbourne. The flight was on Singapore airlines, and once again it was a strange flight. Sure the service was great, but for some reason someone put it on the itinerary to feed the passengers dinner at midnight, and then breakfast at 4 in the morning (three hours before landing). Weird. I’d rather have had a pretzel and a beer at midnight and then food as close to arrival as possible. But Melbourne airport was nice, and we got picked up in a cool car, I had a few meetings, walked around Melbourne for a few hours, and then a nice dinner in the evening – good food, although the restaurant was so noisy it was hard to talk. The conference was good for the next one day and a half. A highlight was the party that they threw – it was an “old Australia” theme, with old Australia mementos about, but what did it for me was the three bands that they brought on to play. Fantastic stuff! One of the singers was the guy who replaced Michael Hutchence in INXS immediately after he died and he was quite good – good rockin’ stuff. The DJ was also okay and we did some nice dancing on the spaceous dance floor. After the set devolved into INXS songs, I headed off to a disco where we had free entrance for an “after party” of sorts, and checked that out. It was another live band, except they were fun and goofy in a Red Hot Chili Peppers mugging sort of way. Fun stuff. Since the whole event was happening in a casino, it also had that other-worldly atmosphere to it, heightened no doubt by the strange entrance hall and its mock-grandiose air. Left on the last day, got on a plane, and flew to Singapore. Unlike Naoko’s late flight, mine was 40 minutes early. I went from Terminal 2 (the staid Singapore Airlines terminal) to Terminal 1 because I wanted to buy stuff that was only available in shops in the duty free area there (T1 doesn’t sell Bobbi Brown or Mont Blanc!) and got to see an Elvis impersonator doing a show there. That was a fun treat! Really takes me back – I remember 10 yeas ago when we were in Dusseldorf it was the 20th anniversary of the King’s death, and I was set straight about someone who overhead me saying anti-Elvis rubbish. Elvis forever!

Went to the airport to pick up Ralph and the family and got a wonderful hug from Lauren
Peter with Lauren at the Airport

Just to prove that they really were here…
three in front of Signature Park

Giving the kids a test-read of an old favourite.
Peter reading to kids

Brave young Lauren checking out the kangaroos while the others, in their protective ponchos, keep a safe distance
Lauren with Kangaroo

Evan buried in balls.
Evan in ball room

The mums and the kids on Sentosa Island’s Tanjong Beach
five on Sentosa beach

Perfect pose at Singapore’s signature spot.
four at Merlion

Bumming out in a bum boat
three in bum boat
Evan and Lauren in bum boat

Checking out what’s going on at Singapore’s central fire station
Evan on fire bike
four on fire bikes
four in cherry picker
three with fire masks

Checking out how Chinese food is made
three kids in Chinese restaurant

Horsing around in our pool
four high in pool
Peter Zen pool

A family visit to Jurong Bird Park
Lauren Flamingo 01
Lauren Flamingos 02
three with flamingos

A trip to Sentosa Island
Evan choco
Lauren choco

Checking out Underwater World:

Turtle attack!
Ralph and turtle
Shark attack!
Ralph with shark

Going back by cable car
three in cable car

Nicole at the Singapore Botanical Garden
Nicole at botanical garden

Check me out – I’m flying a KITE!!!
Peter kite

On East Coast Park beach
Ralph Lauren sand
Ralph in sand
East coast beach four

Biking at East Coast Park
Ralph and Evan on the bike
Nicole and Lauren on the bike

Three cousins
East coast pier three

Walkin’ the streets (and riversides) of Melbrourne.


Historic headquarters of ANZ Bank
Melbourne ANZ

Elvis spotted in Changi Airport!
Elvis in Changi

Movie reviews:

Hot Fuzz – decently funny film, but nonetheless one of those preposterous farces that you can see through right away.  Timothy Dalton was in smirkingly evil top form, proving that he would have been much better as a Bond villain than as Bond himself.
ghost boyghost boy
Ge-Ge-Ge no Kitaro – Quite a horrible film. Five minutes of the animated show has tons more character than this ridiculous animation-to-live action (think How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Scooby Doo, etc.). Avoid.

something familiar something unfamiliar
The Simpsons Movie – While it was worth seeing, the biggest laughs were in the opening few minutes with the Itchy and Scratchy movie-within-a-movie and the resulting meta-film irony of all that. I had a bigger laugh watching an episode of the Simpsons on a flight a few days later – it was the episode that riffed on the White Stripes’ video of “the hardest button to button” (check out the link above for a reference), except with Bart drumming like Meg White and competing with them. Perhaps the best rock ‘n’ roll placement within a Simpsons episode.