Sunday, March 29, 2009

Almost blown away in Vietnam

Yes, made a trip to Vietnam early part of this year, not the best of time to be there considering it rains frequently that time of the year. In Hue, it weeped day and night non-stop for an incredible four days. My impressions are also how haunted it is, almost every hotel, no star to five star, had funny sounds in the night. The only place I would ever go back to in Vietnam is Hanoi. I am happy to give the rest a miss.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Lily and guppy

This is from my other pail which holds my lilies. It has been blooming non-stop, one after another. I don't usually get to enjoy the blooms as I will be at work when the flower opens fully under the hot sun. So it is in the weekends that I get to catch its beauty.

My happy guppies and my big orange long-kang fishes. They just grew very large (size of a thumb) after I fed them with the fish food produced by Tetra (a German brand).

Make-shift Pail

The leak in the pail that holds my Lotus plant just got worse and I had to remove the pail to have the base fixed. The pail has to be put aside for a week for the silicone to dry properly so that the fish don't get killed by any chemicals. So what to do as a temporary pail?

It so happened that a neighbour bought a new tv and threw out his tv box at the lift landing. So, I helped myself to it, took it home, taped trash bags on the outside to keep the paper dry from when the cleaner comes around to wash. I re-used the huge plastic wrapping from my TV. Put the plant in and poured tons of water into it. Viola.

Big and ugly, even weird but it saves my plant for the time being.

First Toy and Comic Convention

Our Lion City held its first ever toy and comic convention. According to the news, the response had been overwhelming. It was over only three days and I went on the last day, Sunday, by then it was not as packed (thankfully) but still very busy. Still had to jostle with people. There were some cute looking toys.

Part of the fun was seeing people in costume. I suspect, every toy or comic fair will have something from Star Wars.

On the whole, it was an okay event for me. I wasn't too excited by the stuff there. I mean there was nothing from my favourite manga artist there - Chen Uen. To me, he is the ultimate MASTER. Sci-fi Anime is often breath-taking the first half hour and then after that, the story gets convoluted and heavy and philosophical and totally numbs my brain.

If there is anything I went away with from this event, it would be the Wii products. There's this pad that people stand on and the pressure from the feet lets the system know if you are tilting left or right, so you have these games such as you as the gate-keeper bending left and right trying to knock the balls out of the goal post. Hmm..kind of interesting. Still monitoring what else they have out there before I get something to help me get some exercise.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Got side-tracked by Facebook. What an addictive toy. The only explanation to why there's been no time to update the blog. It is fabulous to discover people I've lost touch with for a couple of decades and who have moved to the other side of the Globe. And then there is the fun of sparring over Scrabulous.

So no, I didn't get blown away in the typhoon.

I arrived in Taipei to find no traces of a typhoon ever having passed through. The hotel really spoilt my trip as they insisted on charging one night of no show despite knowing full well this was a natural disaster and despite me calling them up early to inform them to release the room to other guests. Bastards. That would the last time I stay there and they are going to see nasty reviews about them on all the travel advisory sites if I can help it.

If anything good came out of this, it would be - I was forced to look for other hotels and I discovered cheaper,better rooms and better located hotels (halleluya). Plus in trying to recover the lost of my hotel deposit from my insurance, I discovered I could not claim that but instead could claim compensation of two days of flight delay which worked out to S$800. That basically paid for my entire trip (shopping not included). It made the experience somewhat more tolerable but still, the unpleasantness and worry were not worth going through.

It also takes adversity to see the true colours of people and I am yet to recover from the shock that it only took $45 for a s0-called friend to betray the true value of her character... I guess I am lucky to have only parted with such a small sum to see this earlier rather than later.

What I learned as I travel more and more:
(1) always buy travel insurance
(2) do not be misled that a travelmate who looks like a kitty by day, will not snore like a tigress by nite.
(3) do not travel with a companion who forgets that you are not a travel agent and who also have absolutely no control over the weather.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Typhoon havoc

All set and dressed up but nowhere to go. Here we are on the way to the airport in the cab at 11.40am to catch the flight to Taipei on Sat (oh, yesterday! Seems like a long time ago with so much happening) when the call came to inform us that our 1pm flight is cancelled due to typhoon but we may rebook our itinerary without charges.

Damn, why pick this period to travel, you ask. Well, I was in Taipei the same week of Oct last year (see my Oct 2006 blog) and the weather was perfect. I booked this trip more than half a year back when the promotion was $98 per way (okay $150 with taxes). Who is to predict the weather these days being so erratic.

In some ways, I am relieved with the flight cancellation because I have been wondering if it is safe enough to fly but any changes I initiate would incur a penalty charge.

Well, only 1.5 hours before the flight did Jetstar make the call not to take the risk. What followed next was a flurry of phone calls to reschedule the hotel, the insurance coverage, to the bosses to extend the leave, etc. When we got that sorted, we tried to call Jetstar back to re-book our travel itinerary and it was hell.

My ears were glued to the handphone for two (yes, TWO) hours while the Jetstar jingle play on and on with the intermittent cheery taped voice announcing "your call is important to us, please hold and we will attend to you shortly."

I got desperate as their office closes at 5pm on Sat. I attempted the 24-hour hotline several times. This leads to a Jetstar customer service centre in Australia. I get through quickly but each time, the hotline staff claim they are not informed of any typhoon, nor flight cancellation and they will have to charge me $150 for the change in itinerary. They directed me back to use the local Jetstar number.

My gawd this is a globally connected world today why are these Australians playing dumb which only serves to impress that they are in the back waters.

Finally, at about 3.30pm, I re-dialled the Jetstar local number and selected to make a new booking instead of pressing the option for changes to booking. This got me through soon enough. After explaining my frustration, the girl was kind enough to help me with the changes and she quickly settled it without giving me more pain. In this small way, Jetstar makes up for the bad bits in other areas of their service.

I shudder at the thought of the dangers of travel these days. We live in dangerous times. Once my flight departure to London fell on the day just after the terrorists were caught for planning a blow-up using liquids. Now the typhoon picked the weekend I am travelling.

I am now flying out tomorrow. I wonder what lies ahead of my trip in Taipei - rains and floods? I hope it will not be as bad as I imagined. I will try and focus on positive side that there will be sale, sale, sale and more sales. After all, they must make up for lost time to draw shoppers back and their national day is just three days away.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Bubbles and Giggles