2005/10/14 – earlier days below

Travelled by bus to Johor Bahru in Malaysia to fix up B’s identity card – it needed to be replaced by a smart card. Malaysian immigration wanted to cancel her passport because it is of the non-electronic type. That would have put a serious crimp in our plans as the passport contains her visas to Australia and Japan. No sir, we are not going to Kuala Lumpur to get the Australian High Commission to give her another visa.

We gave the officer an assurance that we would visit the passport office when going to fix the IC and he let B go. Of course, we did nothing of the sort – the don’t care when you are departing the country, so why bother (probably what the officer was thinking).

JB seemed a bit cleaner than before. Thankfully the weather was reasonable as well. Had curry, salad, beef rendang, chicken and rice at a busy Chinese cafe. Bought some honeydew chocolate and pineapple tarts as well from a muslim sweet stall. Then walked past a hindu temple surrounded by stalls selling garlands for the Deepavali festival.

Once back in Singapore, we went out to Bukit Timah for delicious chicken rice with one of B’s aunts, then endured a very noisy bus ride back to Sim Lim square, a large collection of electronics stalls. Bought a retractable ethernet cable there, which I’m using to connect in from the hotel.

We ended off the day with a superb meal of chilli crab, fish, and cockles at the City Hall outdoor food court. Plus I ate 18 satay sticks and drank 3 cups of lime juice.

Earlier posts made offline…

2005/10/12 5:15 PM (AEST)

One and a half hours into our fllight and we are over Central Australia. I can’t say exactly where because the inflight entertainment system has broken down and there is no moving map. It’s a minor disappointment for me; there were some good movies on, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. However, the texture of the land outside is such that it makes for far more interesting viewing. Dry floodplains carved by creekbeds, barely any vegetation in sight. Often no sign of human inhabitants, if any exist. Now and then a bare line runs straight across the land, cleaving dry salt edged lakebeds and rippled dunes in two, evidence that people occasionally cross through this barren country.

An announcement that the IFE has been repaired. No matter, I have a soundtrack of “The Sum of All Fears” on the mp3.

Now, the outside beckons again.

2005/10/12 8:07 PM (AEST)

We are beyond the halfway point, the remains of the day a thin band on the horizon ranging in colour from burnt umber to a misty yellow-green. Below, the land is black, but for thin bands of bushfire flame. There is not much left of the Australian continent, soon we will be above the Timor Sea.

I ended up watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on the IFE. Loved the song and dance routine with the made Indian Oompaloompa, but the story was too familiar and predictable after the book and original movie version.

Dinner was reasonable, tasty beef stew, though not up to our home standards. I think I would rather a normal dessert be served and the mini Magnum ice cream be left for later in the flight. Naturally things started getting a little bumpier as soon as serving began (well, that’s my perception). The captain actually put on the seatbelts sign as we skirted storms. I saw one flash of lightning.

We have now left land!

2005/10/12 9:36 PM (AEST)

Flying over Indonesia now. Only two more hours to go. The cabin lights are back on.

I feel like I’ve got a real technology hub thing going on in my seat. I’m mostly ignoring the IFE LCD screen at the back of the seat in front of me. The earphones for that are lying on my lab. One digital camera is sitting in the seat pocket, ready or aerial snaps. The MP3 player is hanging around my neck, but I’m listening to music on my Zaurus SL-5500 while typing this on the Zaurus C3100. Pity that there is no internet access. I can’t wait for a cheap and pervasive datasphere across the planet.

I wish the new Zaurus would play oggs. It has a new version of its mutlimedia player and the ogg plugin doesn’t seem to work with it. When I get a chance I’ll download something better.

2005/10/13 1:04 AM (Singapore)

After another excellent Qantas flight, we exited Changi quite quickly. It helps being in a tropical country that doesn’t have a need for agricultural disease or pest protection.

We caught a MRT into the city. It was necessary to change once at Tanah Merah, as the Changi extension trains terminate there. A helpful local took directed us.

The Allson Hotel looks a little dated, but the room is large and there is an ethernet port, at S$20 a day, rather pricey. The best feature is the 24 hour open air food court adjacent to the hotel. We had a late supper of “Carrot Cake” (fried radish concoction) and mee siam (noodles). Beatrice complained that the food was too hot, proving that there is no point going across to Malaysia tomorrow to fix up Beatrice’s identity card. If she can’t take chilli anymore then it’s about time her Australian citizenship was confirmed.

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