Friday, 31 July 2009
absolutely stunning does not even come close......... I know there are many people that say this ION is just another shopping mall in Singapore, and yes it is.....
but the architecture is superb and it is well worth going to check it out. Just go early morning as by lunchtime it is getting rather busy - typical Singapore style - people everywhere!!
A two—tonne nutmeg greets shoppers at the entrance to ION Orchard. The sculpture by Singapore artist Kumari is a tribute to Orchard Road’s history, when it was once a nutmeg plantation.
This $700 million dollar development is far smaller than VivoCity and Ngee Ann City but ION Orchard is poised to become the "centre of gravity" in the retail scene, with spectacular frontage and cutting edge designs and concepts. It will bring together the world’s best loved brands for their flagship, concept and lifestyle stores within one development, with over eight levels of intelligently designed shopping space – four levels above ground and four levels below – totalling 66,000 square metres of retail space at the prime site of Singapore’s commercial and shopping artery.
This latest Shopping Mall on Orchard Rd started to be built in October 2006 and by the time we arrived here in February 2007 it was well under way.
Visitors will be treated to a unique shopping experience at over 300 retail, F&B and entertainment stores, which will include six of the world’s top luxury brands building their signature flagships in duplex units fronting Orchard Road, international brands and popular high street fashion and lifestyle stores carefully selected for their strong branding and innovative retailing concepts. In addition to the extensive stable of brands, an extensive food hall will offer visitors a myriad of food choices ranging from local favorites to international cuisine.
The eight floor mall will be housed within a 218m-tall, 56-storey luxury building. The remaining 48 floors will contain 175 high-end apartments called Orchard Residences.
and of course, you can see all the 'names' here:
To read more check out the website:
and maybe go visit soon ...... don't forget the fabulous food court on B4.
and am sure you can tell that, yes, I am slightly impressed. :-)
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
and I did ...... but I also learnt so much more!
All about Singapore's landfill ........ what we saw that day was an eye opener and it makes me wonder why other countries do not follow in Singapore's lead. Absolutely amazing and very, very impressive.
Now the following data was taken off their website and may not be interesting to many people, but if you can, at least skim over some of the interesting information on the landfill of Singapore.
Believe me..... you will find it just as interesting as I did.
Pulau Semakau is located to the south of the main island of Singapore, off the Straits of Singapore. The Semakau Landfill is located on the eastern side of the island, and was created by the amalgamation of the Pulau Sakeng (also known as Pulau Seking), and "anchored" to Pulau Semakau. The Semakau Landfill is Singapore's first offshore landfill and now the only remaining landfill in Singapore.
The Semakau Landfill is Singapore's first and only landfill situated offshore among the southern islands of Singapore. It covers a total area of 3.5 square kilometres and has a capacity of 63 million m³. To create the required landfill space, a 7 km perimeter rock bund was built to enclose a part of the sea off between Pulau Semakau and Pulau Sakeng.
It is currently estimated that the landfill, which began operations on 1 Apr 1999, will last till 2045. The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, along with the National Environment Agency which manages the landfill, hopes this deadline will be extended through various waste minimisation and resource conservation initiatives.
Semakau Landfill is filled mainly with ash produced by Singapore's four incineration plants, which incinerate the country's waste, shipped there in a covered barge (to prevent the ash from get blown into the air) every night. Contrary to popular belief that Semakau Landfill would be another dirty and smelly landfill, the care put into the design and operational work at the landfill have ensured that the site is clean, free of smell and scenic. During construction, silt screens were installed to ensure that the corals were not affected during the reclamation works. The landfill is lined with an impermeable membrane, and clay and any leachate produced is processed at a leachate treatment plant. Regular water testing is carried out to ensure the integrity of the impermeable liners.
Garbage dumps are generally not associated with thriving coral reefs, vast mangrove plantations and rare bird species.
Yet on Pulau Semakau off Singapore, this is exactly what you will find: just beside a secluded ecological zone that harbors dozens of rare plant, bird and fish species lies the world's first ecological offshore landfill.
Located 8 kilometers south of Singapore and covering an area of 3.5 square kilometers, the Semakau Landfill was designed by engineers and environmentalists at Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA). It consists of two small islands that have been connected by a rock embankment. The area inside the landfill is divided into 11 bays, known as 'cells', which are lined with thick plastic and clay to prevent any harmful material from seeping into the sea.
Since the landfill was put into use in 1999, four of the 11 cells have been filled, covered with earth and planted with grass.
The landfill, which cost around $400 million, can hold up to 63 million cubic meters of rubbish, enough to satisfy Singapore's waste disposal needs until 2040.
What distinguishes Semakau from other landfills is that it is clean and free of smell. Two thirds of the material that comes to Semakau has passed through one of the city's four incinerators, reducing it to approximately ten percent of its original volume. Waste from construction material is also processed, while toxic waste like asbestos is packaged in such a way that it cannot leak into the surrounding environment.
Two mangrove groves that were destroyed when the embankment was built have been replanted near the landfill and today they serve as biological indicators for the local environment. If they were to start dying, it would be seen as a sign that harmful material had leaked from the landfill.
Scientists expected that some of the mangroves would not survive the relocation, but today they cover 1.4 square kilometers around the island and even have to be cut back in places -- a sign that the landfill is indeed leak-proof.
if you ever have the opportunity to visit the landfill - do so - it is well worth the time and effort to see how this all comes together for the benefit of all Singaporeans, now and for the future.
a big gold star to: Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA)
Thursday, 23 July 2009
Friday, 17 July 2009
Here is a quick posting about the coral around Pulau Semakau:
and from Wikipedia:
The terrestrial flora and fauna of the (natural) island has not been fully surveyed.
The coral reefs around Pulau Semakau have been monitored since the late 1980s to 2001, by the National University of Singapore, and from 2003 to the present by the "Reef Friends" programme (a joint project between the National Parks Board and Blue Water Volunteers). Results of the surveys can be found at the 'Coral Reefs of Singapore' webpage and Blue Water Volunteers webpage.
A survey of the coastal and inter-tidal areas of the island in 2005 revealed four plants listed as endangered in Singapore , including the Seashore Bat Lily (Tacca leontopetaloides) which so far has only been recorded in one area of Singapore: Pulau Semakau. Semakau also has vast stretches of Tape seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) which is considered rare and vulnerable in Singapore. Semakau is also the only known location in Singapore of the seagrass Syringodium isoetifolium. The seagrass meadow is being monitored by the recently set up 'Team Seagrass'.
The construction of the perimeter bund of the Landfill affected mangroves on the eastern side of the island. The developers replanted two plots of mangroves totaling 136,000 square metres, just outside the perimeter bund. The two plots are doing well, indicating that there has been no seepage through the liners. Another design feature is the built-in channels that allow the flow of seawater into non-active cells, keeping the water fresh at all times.
Today, after years of operation, the replanted mangrove, and remaining natural habitats on the island are doing well. Even the closed cells, topped up with soil, are flourishing. Birds can be seen in the air and on the open landscape, fishes swim in and out of the lagoons, and marine life continues to thrive in the mangrove mudflats and the western shorelines of Pulau Semakau.
will have to get onto writing about the amazing Landfill part of Pulau Semakau - am so impressed with the way Singapore takes care of the 'garbage side of things' !!
Don't forget to go back to the previous posts about the trip over to Pulau Semakau and the Marine Creatures!!
[ off to Batam for the weekend - so promise I will post more next week ]
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
Pulau Semakau Intertidal Walk
This posting (July 14) is about the Marine Creatures that we saw.
Now the first one seen below is an Oscillated sea cucumber - I shudder each time I see this image!
10-12cm long. Body cylindrical and sausage-like, tapering at the ends. Mostly pale or white with irregular chocolate coloured blotches. It has an obvious underside which is paler with fewer chocolate markings. The tube feet seem small and stumpy and it doesn't seem to have many of them. It appears to have a small mouth with tiny feeding tentacles.
this next little fellow is a Hairy Crab..... I think he needs a good shampoo and hair brush!!
Below is a close up of the Knobbly Sea Star -
This huge and colourful sea star is sometimes seen on Chek Jawa and some of the undisturbed Northern and Southern Shores around Singapore. Adults are usually seen in coral rubble areas, alone or widely spaced apart. Juveniles are commonly seen on Cyrene Reef among sea grasses. These spectacular animals are the highlight of a shore trip!
and here they are full size.....and the next image as he burrows into the sand...
one of the girls managed to hold him/her up so we could have a better view!
This next little critter is amazing - it is a "same gender " Marine Flatworm.
The Sea Anemone - very poisonous - do not touch!!
and a Cowrie Shell....
There are a variety of distinct coastal marine habitats around Singapore, all of them inhabited by fish. These are discussed here as individual entities such as coral reef, rocky shore, mangrove and mudflats, although they often merge into one another, or one may even occur within the other. Some fish species have specific habitat preferences. For instance, the clown fishes are found only in coral reefs while some gobies are restricted to mangrove pools. However, many species, such as the mojarras, occur over a wide variety of habitats.
It should also be noted that many local ecosystems have been created by man. Examples include granite breakwaters, reclaimed beaches and concretised canals. Generally the biodiversity in such artificial environments tends to be poorer, but many species are still to be found.
Coral reefs support a complex ecosystem of a high diversity of marine organisms. Reef-building corals require conditions like those found in the Singapore Straits in order to thrive. Therefore coral reefs are usually found fringing islands (e.g., St. John's, Kusu, Hantu, Sudong, Pawai, Senang, Seringat and Semakau) or in isolated patches (e.g., Terumbu)
So much more to Pulau Semakau than what I have written in the previous two postings .....
Sunday, 12 July 2009
NUS Workshops click here.
Project Semakau click here
Sylvia, Alvin and myself are part of the BuzzSingapore Photography Group and it was Sylvia that alerted us to the walk. Alvin brought along his daughter and so the four of us became part of the "Seahorse Group" within the main body of the group of Intertidal walkers.
We met at the Marina South Pier at 5.00am - which of course meant a 3.30am wake up call - as the boat was leaving at 5.30am sharp. It was still very dark and really no opportunity to take any photos until an hour later when we arrived at Pulau Semaka ... and you can see here on the map (grey part) where it is located and why it takes nearly an hour to reach there!It was on 16 Jul 2005, when Pulau Semakau was opened for nature-related recreational activities and members of the public that can visit the island for birdwatching, sports fishing and intertidal walks.
This is what we can see of Singapore from Pulau Semakau dock:
and then crossing the walkway and looking back at the Semakau Landfill Receiving Station:
here we see where the Landfill is gradually being covered by grass and tree's - the seeds being dropped by the birds:
Getting to the island itself requires a 45 minute long boat ride from Marina South pier.
Pulau Semakau is actually a landfill area to serve as a dumping ground of Singapore’s incinerated waste as well as construction wastes. It was formed by joining 2 islands together, Pulau Sakaeng and Pulau Semakau. To reach the intertidal walk area, we had walk about 15 mins and continue by foot past some vegetation - part of the jungle area - where there is an army of mosquito's waiting for the unsuspecting person not prepared with much repellent!!
What a view to see as we come out from the jungle area and onto the beach!!
The original Pulau Semakau which was not affected by the landfill construction has an enormous intertidal area which is rich in amazing wildlife. The natural mangroves there shelter a wide variety of plants and animals, many no longer seen on the mainland or other islands.
Looking back to the 'jungle area' where we walked thru to reach the beach..... and here you can also see the remnants of the old pier after the Kampong (village) Pulau Semakau was home to a small fishing village. Houses built on both islands were perched on stilts as most of the villagers were subsistence fishermen, making a living off the nearby coral reefs.
In 1987, the Singapore government, after having acquired the land on both islands from the islanders, set about relocating the islanders to the mainland where they were resettled in housing estate areas by the HDB. (Housing Development Board)
One of the oldest residents continued to live on the Pulau Sakeng despite his family having been resettled but he eventually moved out as well in 1991, as the island's jetty fell into a sorry state of disrepair. After which, the Singapore SPCA was tasked to round up the few cats that were left behind after his departure.
a storm is approaching as we walk quite a way out - we had to get back to shore quickly though as word came thru to the leaders of lightening - on the way, back down came the rain and we were thoroughly drenched to say the least.
After waiting for the rain to ease - we continued our walk about half an hour later.
There is a vast seagrass lagoon, possibly the largest in Singapore. The coral reefs that line the edge of the island also thrive with marine life. Here you can see where we created a 'pathway' thru the knee deep Sea Grass .....
Starfishes, sea cucumbers, corals, octopuses, seahorses... Do you know you don't need to dive to see all these exciting marine life in Singapore?
Will post more later as there is much to see and learn on Pulau Semakau!
Thursday, 9 July 2009
To go from Singapore to Johor Bahru for shopping, one must either drive, take a bus or train and always pass thru immigration and customs.
But Malaysia has the most amazing customs complex - it is huge - as seen here in the following image. It is called the Southern Integrated Gateway.
The Southern Integrated Gateway, is a Malaysian national project involving the construction of the Johor Bahru main railway station, called JB Sentral, and a new customs, immigration and quarantine complex (CIQ) known as the Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex, named after Sultan Iskandar of Johor.
The station and complex will become the main transportation hub of Johor Bahru and southern Peninsular Malaysia.
The Malaysian Public Works Department (JKR) is responsible for the design and construction of this project, while Gerbang Perdana Sdn Bhd is the main contractor.
This megaproject is part of the Iskandar Malaysia. The CIQ complex was opened to vehicular traffic on December 16, 2008.
As of February 2009, while passengers may cross through JB Sentral on their way to the CIQ, all train services are still using the old Johor Bahru Station. Today - Thursday July 9 2009 - I went over to JB for some shopping. I invited a friend (Suzie) and Ani who was her niece and staying with her for this week. Neither Suzie or Ani had been over to JB before, so it was a mini adventure for them to go by the local bus system.
I met them at Kranji MRT (only four stops for me) and we then took bus 170 to Malaysia. It is such a simple process during the week, far better than on a Friday evening like when we did it back in February this year....... you can read that posting HERE!
In February we were staying at a hotel for the night and so we needed to continue on towards Larkin Bus Terminal. Today we only needed to go to Johor Bahru City Square (a large shopping mall) for some shopping and the mall is close by to CIQ, where we go thru customs and immigration.
All so very easy!!!
in summary: from Kranji (MRT) Station, hop on to bus 170, which is right out the front of the MRT station and will bring you to Singapore checkpoint.
*but you can also get the BUS 170 from Queens St and go to Kranji MRT. It travels along Bukit Timah Road .. but you take whatever route is the easiest for you.
Use your EZILINK CARD on this bus.
Clear your immigration procedures and hop on to the same bus service (170) It will not be the exact same bus, but still take 170 that is there waiting to take you over the Causeway and it will bring you to the Malaysian Immigration.
Fill in your immigration card (if this needs to be done for you) get your passport stamped, walk past security but DO NOT BOARD THE BUS again, just follow the directions of the sign (JB Sentral) which will point to the LEFT....
You will reach City Square(after crossing the bridge) with about 5-10 minutes walk.
Under cover all the way ....... how easy is that?
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Snapshots of my life during the countdown to a walk from my home in Puivert, in the French Pyrenees, to the house where I was born in Blackpool, Northern England.
To celebrate 70 years of life.
The walk to be done in 70 days.
To arrive on my 70th birthday,
which will be on 23rd July 2010.
What an amazing man Vic is - to even consider the walk - let alone all the walking he is doing now while preparing for the "big trip"!
Have a read of his blog and maybe even be one of his 'followers'.
For those that are looking for really good quality meat and a wide range of products, e.g., dairy products, burgers, frozen vegetables, canned products, chicken franks, margarine, drinks etc try Ben Foods.
Their prices are a lot lower than the supermarkets, but they are open only on Saturday mornings for the general public.
To get there take BUS 79 from Jurong ....... or if you are not sure how to get there, log onto GOTHERE, this is the best website for getting around Singapore by car / cab / bus or train!
BEN FOODS WEBSITE
Ben Foods (S) Pte Ltd
1 Fishery Port Road,
Tel : 6778 6655 ;
Fax : 6777 2869
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
But they do have good specials most Saturdays....... Australian and New Zealand Sirloin and Rib Eye and other beef cuts too which are better quality than in Australia as it is Export Quality. They also have good fillets of Salmon for around $20.00 ..... that is half a salmon. Cheese (Coon) is also a lot cheaper there .... I think about $4.00 compared to $6.50+ in some supermarkets.
Phoon Huat is another place I shop at .... there is a store at Holland Village and another over near Jurong MRT, at the back area past Cash Converters. But check the website as they have many otther stores listed across the island.
** have rec'd a message to say the Jurong Store closed recently - will check it out **
PHOON HUAT WEBSITE
They sell heaps of things at a really good price, but not only that, you can purchase food items (in particular Christmas goodies, bakery items) that you cannot get elsewhere. I buy Australian butter (250g) for $1.90, which sells for $4.00 in the supermarket.
So worth checking out if you have not already done so!
a friend in Singapore (thanx Pete) has just sent me this, am sure it will be of help to many others:
Can I also add The Butcher - while catering somewhat to the expat market, their free home delivery for orders over $100, online store, and quality is fantastic.
For wine, try Wine+ - good selection, half and dozen pricing (including mixed dozens), and usually free delivery.
And finally, do try and locate your nearest wet market! Hope this helps!
here is another excellent website for anyone in Singapore!
Monday, 6 July 2009
Multiple Entry Visas (MEV) and the Smart Card!
Foreigners who are members of approved clubs in Batam can get a one year Multiple Entry Visa, valid only for Batam, Indonesia. We can also have a MEV as we are members of TNIV (Nongsa Village) in Batam.
You can get this MEV from any Batam Golf Club or from Golden Image services (tel Batam 0778 761777 / Singapore 65-6737 1312). Golden Image is the company that arranges Batam Smart Cards and Riau Islands Sailing Permits.
We purchase ours at Golden Image Services in Upper Cross Street, Singapore.
You have to allow at least 3 full working days.
We also have a Smart Card .......... an "Electronic Passport" that makes traveling between Singapore and Batam so much easier. It is just the same size as a credit card ....... just swipe it on entry or when departing and no need to show the passport or wait in line along with everyone else!
But it does help to make sure it is up to date and has not EXPIRED!!!
Like ours had......... last Friday evening on entering Batam we were told our visa had expired. What a poop. Our fault, we had not checked. So had to pay the full entry visa fee. When it hurts the wallet you are sure to remember NEXT TIME!
So off I trotted to Chinatown today to renew the visa and smart card. Not as easy as I thought, as it has expired we have to do it all over again.
Except..... have to leave the passports there for three working days!
Sounds easy eh?
No.... John is off to China tomorrow (Tuesday) Indonesia has a public holiday on Wednesday and I am off to Malaysia on Thursday, not a hope of getting the visa's done this week.
Will have to get mine done next week and wait till John returns on July 22 (from China) for his to be done.
We do notice here that you have to be vigilant with everything you do or need to do. You must carry your IC (Identity card) with you at all times, you must check that you have all cards, passport, visa's etc up to date - no one elses responsibilty - it is all yours!
These are things that you never consider when you are in Australia. It is only when you are about to go on holidays that you might think about checking the passport!