Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Bind Part 1: Great Expenditures

22nd March 2006, Wednesday

Been a hectic 4 days spell which encompassed my ROM ceremony as well as the short stay of Eriko & Sou in Singapore...The entire narration of the proceedings would be really long so I decided to break it down to perhaps 2 or more parts...

To begin, despite the festive ongoings in the household, the overall mood hasn't been the most jovial with virtually part of the house falling apart (with a large slab of the ceiling of the kitchen's toilet which had been hanging precariously before suddenly dislodged on the dusk of Saturday and we were fortunate that none of us got hurt by the turn of event). The air conditioner unit of my room had been going haywire the past couple of nights with gallons of water started filling the piping of the unit resulting in profuse leaking from the vents and when it first occured the water actually was spitting into my PC's CPU which has a perforated top end to dissipate the heat, making the internal parts unprotected by the sudden splashing of water...fortunately my PC came unaffected by the commotion...but then I could not sleep through such hot and humid nights that we are experiencing recently. The problem kind of been alleviated with my parents managing to pump out much water from the main piping which might had been the root of the problem.

Talking about root, my sis had been decimated by an excruciating toothache due to the root nerve of her molars, which made her decided to go for the proper extraction of the affected tooth.
With my mom been suffering from flu for a while now and my dad with his legs problem and myself with the sprain neck which is still prevalent even till now despite much less restrictive with my head movement, the health status of my family had been came under the microscope for the past week. Even the new member of the family, my wife hasn't been spared from the wrath of such unfortunate trend when she was down with gastric problem on Saturday.

Then I had this buyer from the online auctions getting on my back about a broken part to a specific figurine in a gashapon set I had sold him... Most probably down to shipping problem and he requested a partial refund which I most probably would return him despite the fact I had gave him free postage to begin with...&%$%&$%&$!!

My dad got into a petty tiff with my mom on the eve of my solemnization as well and slept in the living room for the night for the first time since we shifted to our current apartment. Not a sight you would want to see for your family with such happy occasion to be welcomed the next day

Got a feeling someone up there is not too pleased with my household for what apparent reason I would like to find out.

Anyway the biggest devastation after such a momentous weekend would be the dent on my budget which was very much dwindled due to a mode of transport in Singapore... TAXI-TAKING...

I had lost the count of number of times I had to hailed a cab to send me to one point to another with time not on my side.

It began on Saturday afternoon when I was contemplating whether to make my way down to La Tendo; however with the surface shipment arriving with certain items they got especially for me, the urge to vamoose down in overpowering.
I had intended to hit Sim Lim to get my portable notebook hard disk but with the fact that I got there by around 2.45pm and I had to make my way back in under half an hour time to meet the RT session timing, I really did not have the luxury to squeeze in another venue despite the close proxmity.

The shop was buzzing with activities, very much due to the big shipment that just arrived but also the crew got their uniform apron which surely spice things up yet simplify the identification of the crew. The membership cards were ready for collection as well.
I was glad to had my hands on a couple of trading figure set I had lusted for a while though the No. 1 item on my wishlist is still elusive.
Bryan, Ferris' younger brother was here as well, moments after I had made my appearance and Chan, who had an entire carton box to redeem, too was seen looming about.
I splurged a little on a couple of boox figurine which shouldn't be figured in my budget (despite I did set some "emergency cash" around for such impromptu occasions) but with the fact that I had only 1/2 hour to make it home to change and rush down to Khatib camp; the only viable option is to take a cab.

It wasn't a smooth ride as well as the usual Saturday afternoon jam along the Rochor Canal/ Teck Kar area meant that I was sweating with the possibility having to be retain for being late for RT for the very first time in my records.
However the taxi driver was smartened to speed up once we hit the CTE and I got home at the stroke of 4pm...
Like a speed of lightning I changed and got into another cab to expedite my trip to the front gate of the camp and the total cost of both trips would had diminish the payment I recieved for 2 RT sessions...which makes me ponder whether the last minute trip to La Tendo was worth it.

RT ended by 6 and I tried to give my lass a surprise when I walked for a good 3 km or so to appear at her door step, as I was expecting she would be resting at home after complained of gastric pains and even vomitting.
Little did I realised that she was still out and eventually came over by 7.
After dinner, we headed for Chong Pang to check on the toilet accessories like taps and mirrors at the shop which we found were closed last Sunday.
With the evening breeze not found, Mom offered to take a cab down for a distance barely 1 km away..That's the 3rd cab ride for this period.
However the trip was futile as the shop owners had closed for holidays...URGH!!

An early turn in on Saturday evening without the niggling RT session the following morning was rarity but we wouldn't want to be late to meet up with our Japanese friends.
The effort was ineffectual as we were left with half an hour to the stated time to meet at their hotel lobby once we wolfed down that last few mouthful of century egg congee Mom had prepared for breakfast.
So 4th taxi ride to Quality Hotel at Balestier Road which we had very faint idea the exact location if we are to proceed via MRT.

Not the most extravagant of the hotels our country could offer but on anyday would beat our "Tua Tiong Hotel" where we would be hosting our wedding banquet hands down...

So after a good wait for 10 minutes since we actually got that ahead of time, Sou and Eriko came out of their elevator and the usual "O Hisashiburi (Long time no see)" and we began assuming the role of guide to introduce our sunny island...

And boy it was sunny for sure... as Sou and Eriko and even ourselves couldn't stop whining with our favorite word for that day, "Atsui!! (So hot!)" and sure the sun was definitely ruthlessly scorching us with its rays...

We intended to bring them down to Little India, a place I had dropby almost every week but not too sure where exactly we could see the actual gist of the area.
To facilitate our motion via public transport, we found only fitful to bestow each of them a tourist version of the EZ-link card which cost $15 despite the value they could use is only $7! ($3 refundable deposit, $5 non-refundable)

A rather eventful bus ride on 851 downt o Teck Kar Mall when we encountered a classic quarrel between some passengers who claimed they had paid the exact fee with the bus driver... thanks for such "elegant" ambassador to our country.

By 11, the place was barely hustled up with activities but the couple was still amazed by the sight and sound of the place and the distinct music, smell and ornaments, traditional Indian style.
Seriously it was also our first time venture, so deep in Little India as we would normally had no business lingering around here.
After some purchasing of some Indian accessories for Eriko, my lass decorating them with a garland of jasmie and our national flower, orchid, as well as gracing a famous Hindu temple in Serangoon, we decided to dabble into the Chinese part of our multi-racial society, as we embarked our journey to Chinatown, a few stops away on the Northeast Line.

It was lunchtime and we duly offer them some authentic Chinese hawker cuisine and no where else more suiting to do so than in Chinatown.
Hainese chicken rice, "Jwee Kueh", fried carrot cake, laksa, coconut juice, sugar cane juice and ice kachang were served on the platter but like many tourists before them, "chikin risu" held a special place in their tastebuds.

After a frantic search of lavatory as I sort of noticed Eriko having a rather hardworking bladder or something with the number of times she had to go to the toilet over the period, we shopped around the shops around Pagoda Street where their spending was unleashed that even Sou even made his first purchase of some "omiage (souvenirs)" for friends back home.

The punishment we recieved from the unrelentless hot weather soon sapped us of our energy and we ended our Chinatown adventure.

Sou had made 2 requests of items he would like to purchase along the way. The first been kaya jam which oozes with our local flavour which they managed to stock up back at the NTUC supermarket near my place later in the evening.
The 2nd is this Starbucks Coffee tumbler which I realized is a collectible much like Hard Rock cafe T shirts in the past as the pictures featured is exclusive to that specific country/ area.

After been revatilized by some chilled coffee (an a mango smoothie blended tea for my lass), we proceeded to the recent glory of our nation, the twin durain husk, known as "Esplanade".
Like Little India, it is also my first time exploring the inner details of the art center so it was kind of rewarding to me as to them.
Passing a mural done by an Indonesian artist along the way, we realized we aren't that "artsy-fartsy" to appreciate the rich art around us.
There was a music festival, "Mosiac" happening at that time as a jazz-inclined Sou was rather enthralled by the prospect of live performances but we had no luxury to stop and enjoy the music as we then took them on a river boat ride along the Singapore River.

That was an impromptu activity and was quick to eat into my budget with each person been charged with $9 per ticket for a 1//2 hour ride along the Singapore River and the steward touting us for a ride was "kind" enough to cut down from the original price of $12 as he assumed we all are still students.

The ride was ok, nothing too fantastic but you got to see the Merlion, Boat Quay, Parliament House etc. up close and personal without exerting too much energy to walk to each location on our own.
The ending point was Clarke Quay and we were offered the option on whether to stroll around the pub hub of Singapore or take the boat back to Esplanade. We took up the former offer and was soon bored with Clarke Quay which virtually was ladened with avant garde architecture but almost nothing to offer our Japanese friends, though they had contemplated with going on the G-Max, which I still feel was too costly for such transient adrenaline rush.

So we traced our way back to City Hall to take a train down back to my place as I introduced them to my parents and amazed them with my toys collection to enlighten them with the fact that I am actually one of the "otaku" community prominent in Singapore.

With the sun setting across the horizon, we strolled towards Sembawang Road where we had a sumptous Malay cuisine for dinner....
Ice Teh Tarik (which I am still drooling over at the thought of it), Ice Milo Dinosaur, Tahu Goreng, Mee Goreng, Roti Prata, Ayam Satay were enough to indulge them in the world of Malay delicacies and they weren't a bit put off by the spicy nature of the food items and I believe they even was high on our local spices.
Roti Prata was the unanimous favorite between them this time round but I was quick to note down the coffee shop to make sure I dropby more often for Iced Teh Tarik.

We were slightly behind schedule, so our 5th cab ride would be down to Mandai where the Night Safari is residing.
Despite actually been prepared to pay that exorbitant price of $20 per entrance ticket, my girl later found out that we were required to foot another 8 bucks for the tram service which ensure you will get to see all the animals in the park...GMD!!
We had no further option but to do our best to enable our Japanese mates to be able to experience the park to the max.
After a rather entertaining animal show when a few "air heads" who was obliviou for not heeding the request of not taking pictures with flash, we took the tram ride as we entered the thick canopies of the park and the beginning part was mainly deers, goats and more related hooved mammals.
The gargantuan Indian rhino was perhaps the main feature at the beginning part till we got to see a pride of lions before stopping by the East Lodge where we took a foot "Leopard Trail".
There was a few flying foxes to welcome us, adorable bushbabies to keep Eriko going "kawaii (cute)", fruit bats hanging so close to us, to trigger fear in my lass, making us drowsy to actually see the movement of the slow loris and eventually face to face with the 3 leopards on display... I kind of felt sad for the leopards especially as they looked so wound up and bored in their limited glass display.
Finally some giraffes, oryxes and even a single zebra before a nice orange backdrop of the Seletar Reservior before we got onto the next tram where we got really close to a fat Malaysian tapir grazing just by the track, a trio of elephants swaying in synchrony, a sleeping tiger, some hyennas, a family of bearded wildboars, a beautiful Bongo but no sight of the hippo been promised.
The ride ended with drizzles started falling on our heads which hindered the prospects of some viewing by foot to see some of the animals on display at closer observation.
Then again it was around 11.30pm and we all felt it was good to call it a day...

Thus hopping on our 6th cab, we sent them back to the hotel, fixing to pick them up at 12pm the following day and took the same cab home and was thrilled to find out that we were not charged the midnight levy which could easily accumulate to $30 for that single ride alone.

To be continued....


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