Beyond Words

Uniquely Singapore0.Pars.000100.ImguploadSpain should be the country with the tourist board tagline we wear so proudly. OK, not so proudly, but with a befuddled expression and lips mouthing a “har?” (Only joking, don’t take my link off your page)

As I was saying, Spain. She doesn’t have words to her national anthem. How bizarre. Imagine if we didn’t have words to ours. How would we know the meaning of what we were singing? Thousands of kids across the country would never know that our national language was Bahasa Melayu.

Or imagine if you didn’t have an anthem at all, and had to make one up on the spot when someone asked what your anthem was: As was the case with the state anthem of Perak, the tune of which later became the melody of the national anthem of Malaysia:

The state anthem was created during a state visit of Sultan Idris of Perak to England in 1888. It was noticed that no anthem existed to greet the Sultan. The Aide-de-camp of the Sultan, Raja Mansur ibni Sultan Abdullah, did not dare to tell that no anthem exists and so instead hummed a song he knew from the Seychelles, a melody originally written by Pierre Jean de Beranger. After he told the Sultan about it, the sultan accepted the song as the anthem. The lyrics were written by Raja Ngah Manur bin Raja Abdullah.

In 1957 the national anthem of Malaysia, Negaraku, was selected to use the same melody.

Imagine if we had to make up the words to the tune of our national anthem…

But just only imagine, because it is an offence to sing unofficial lyrics or any translation to the anthem…

Semua Kita Jangan Stress (ini bukan lagu negara)

Woke up this morning and I took a shower
I was very sleepy, but what to do?
I have to go to work and make money.
Such is life, we all must eat.

Oldest son is going to Army
Don’t have to give pocket money (yay!)
Though the prices are going crazy
Government say don’t worry
Government say don’t worry

Casinos save economy
Just don’t go on a gambling spree (whee!)
The climate is getting hazy
Government say don’t worry
Government say don’t worry

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Twinkle, twinkle little star, turn on the lights of your car

Naomi and I are pleased to announce that it works! The signal works. Earlier tonight, an MPV driver was barrelling down the ECP, along with his MPV of course, but without the MPV’s headlights on.

Fortuitously, I was barrelling down the ECP on the outside lane close enough to him to pull alongside safely and allow Naomi to perform Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at the driver.

It took only a couple of seconds for the driver to change the question mark on his face to an exclamation mark, and then turn on the lights on his MPV.

We are resolved to take every available opportunity to signal in this manner to every stealth night driver we see, and then we will petition first, the LTA and then the international night driving signal authority to codify the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star signal as the universal signal for “please turn your lights on because it’s night time”.

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Well done mates

 Common Imagedata 0,,5840192,00
Picture: New Zealand Herald

Sometime in August 1991, my kayaking partner and I tried to keep a watch out on the horizon for any sign of landfall as we sought to reach Tioman Island in Pahang State by kayak. It was the twelfth day of our trip, and we’d just endured what we felt was the mother of all mothers of all storms.

Our Klepper Aerius Expedition II’s blue canvas skin was stained with vomit on either side of the passenger compartment cockpit, but far more worrying than that were the low clouds that obscured everything else, and made us worry that we might have been heading in the wrong direction for the previous, dunno, 12 hours overnight. It was the age before portable electronic navigational aids, or more accurately, the age before yours truly could afford any aid apart from several magnetic compasses purchased from discount camping stores.

Three compasses, and the stars in the clear night sky before the storm broke at dawn helped keep our bow pointed at where we thought Tioman was.

I’m trying to remember the elation we felt when we finally sighted Tioman’s extinct volcanic peak. But I’m sure these two other blokes know how it feels, albeit multiplied a thousand times.

So, heartiest congratulations to James Castrisson and Justin Jones, for kayaking from Australia to New Zealand. No more eating and shitting in the small boat.

I know of American tourists who belittle that distance with their ignorance, asking Sydneysiders how they can take a day trip out of Sydney to New Zealand. But bugger me, and all that, James and Justin have paddled over 2000km over the last two months. It takes a plane about 3 hours to get from Sydney to anywhere in NZ. That’s a very long distance, notwithstanding the fact that both Kiwis and Aussies understatedly refer to the Tasman Sea between the two countries as “the Ditch“.

Originally estimated as a 42 day paddle, they went over 60, and have had to ration their meals. It is the fourth longest kayak crossing in recorded history, and the first kayak crossing of the Tasman Sea.

The latest in navigational, communications and survival equipment were used in this expedition, as they were in ours. For water, James and Justin had a desalination unit to supply them their estimated requirements of 5l a day. My kayaking buddy and I had this unit we called the 40l jerrycan, which was stowed between my knees, and which caused me to walk bow-legged for weeks after.

What’s even more impressive about James and Justin’s crossing is that they did it solely on paddling, whereas many open ocean kayak crossings are done with the aid of sails. There’s some kayaking saying that goes “paddle if you must, sail when you can”, or something like that. My buddy and I sailed when we could – with a golf umbrella we rigged in front of the cockpit, and which obscured my view of the horizon, and which was the official excuse for my being seasick the whole expedition.

But what the hell am I doing comparing Singapore-Tioman with Sydney-New Plymouth? Sorry. Congratulations James and Justin. You da gods of kayaking!

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Another world first

Now, where did we keep the parking coupons?
Cos we’re gonna be here for awhile…
– Photo by Telstar Logistics

Cnn110108Singapore Airlines now holds the record for the first Airbus A380 to be stuck on a grass verge. None were hurt, except for Singapore Airlines, who also suffered the ignominy of having this piece of news achieving “most popular story” on CNN’s website yesterday, no thanks to the misleading headline.

For punters who buy 4D numbers of accident vehicles, the plane’s registration is “9V-SKA“. Oh wait, that’s not four digits.

Lessee… Scheduled departure time of the flight SQ221 was 2040hrs. It was retimed to 0015hrs. The scheduled arrival in Sydney was 0715hrs, but the retimed arrival, 0850hrs.

OK, now go buy those numbers. You read it here first. Win first prize better thank me!

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Less useless

C2 Holster Mph12

Now you can paralyze would-be assailants to your own beat!

The Taser C2 now comes with a built-in MP3 player and leopard print design and leather case!


The 12 Taser guns recently bought for the Public Order and Riot Squad cost $30,000. For an extra $US80 ($90) apiece, officers could have an MP3 player able to carry 500 songs added to the holster, making it easier to juggle their accessories.

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Highway codes

Photo by ohad*

The other day while driving home, Naomi asked me what the universal sign for “your headlights are not on, please turn them on because it’s nighttime and you’re being a complete idiot if you don’t turn them on right away”? was.

I told Naomi that I didn’t know, but that I had previously successfully managed to get drivers to turn on their headlights when I’m alongside them and signaling with my free hand in a way that also could mean “you are very talkative, you know?”

That, combined with the clueless night stealth driver’s ability to read my lips which are saying “lights, lights, lights”, but which could also be seen as mouthing nonsense, such as “like! like! like!” or “ai! ai! ai!”, has worked on several occasions.

And when you’re not alongside the stealth driver, how else could you, for his/her safety’s sake, tell them to turn on their lights. Flash your high beam at them to alert them to something? In Australia, the UK and US, high beaming someone can mean “I’m letting you have right of way, please proceed”.

In Singapore, and especially when taxi drivers are doing it, it means the opposite: “Get the fuggouttamyway cos I’m speeding up just cos you’ve turned on your indicator lights to turn and if I ram into you it’s not my fault”.

On highways in Malaysia and Australia, high-beaming cars on the opposite direction tells you there’s a speed trap up ahead.

If high beaming or honking gets the drivers’ attention and you’ve pulled up alongside them, then you can somehow indicate to them if there’s something wrong with their car, usually by pointing at their vehicle – “your door’s not shut properly, your tyre’s blown, your skirt is hanging out of your car door and is being ripped to shreds…”

But it’s difficult to point to the driver’s headlights, unless you were in front of him and craning your head around to tell him. In which case, your ability to control your own vehicle could be a little compromised.

So what is it? Is there a section in the highway code that tells you how to do that?

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The lengths some go to get their ang pow

Photo by @Dmateur

Chinese New Year must be near if Boy falls while performing lion dance on poles“.

I laughed out loud, and kept laughing until I stopped. OK, I know it’s bad to laugh at the misfortune of others, but a headline like that is funny in so many ways. Not least, because it’s from a Malaysian news site, because I think Malaysians are as, if not more silly, than we are.

OK, maybe it’s funny only to me. But the report on the lion dancing championships also quotes the chairman of the organiser, the Chinese Martial Art Association, as saying, “In every competition, without fail, someone will fall. It’s all part of the risks of the performance”.

Now you know. Pole dancing is an extreme sport.

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Battling the news


I don’t know what a “laissez-faire attitude towards weight” means. Does it mean the government doesn’t care whether you’re fat or not? Or does it mean that you shouldn’t interfere with the weight of others?

These are the first of the difficult issues of the new year one finds in one’s nation’s premier news media outlet.

The article also writes that “The global survey by research firm Synovate revealed that when battling the bulge, Singaporeans pale in comparison to others in countries like the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia and Malaysia.”

What of people with more than one bulge? Battle one bulge at a time? I the think the Singaporean the news the website is the very the confusing.

But all is the well because CNA also says that from the survey results, “Very few people blame their government as the number one factor in causing obesity.”

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With a bang (and a slight dent)

I wished a total stranger Happy New Year in Mandarin, even though he had just crashed into the front passenger door of my car right after he rode his bicycle on the pavement against the flow of traffic that was on the road outside the entrance to my apartment blocks.

In response, he said, 対不起対不起対不起対不起新年快乐対不起対不起対不起対不起対不起対不起対不起 in a Northern Chinese accent.

He looked very shaken but was otherwise unhurt, thank goodness.

At the petrol station where I let the pump attendant fill the tank to 48 point something litres and exactly $100, with him looking very proud at his New Year’s achievement, the cashier very sleepily said, “Pum One? Altogether $95 after discount”, after which, she attempted to foist some Delifrance products on me, but for a few long seconds, forgot how to perform her sales pitch in English, leaving her right hand outstretched and pointing silently at the sundry pastries. Only when her hand came down did she realise she could also try in Mandarin, but I cut her off with a “No thank you” before she finished saying “要不要买吃的东西?” in a Malaysian accent.

In the weeks leading to the New Year, Naomi and I had been hearing about how 2008 would bear not so good news regarding the economy. Prices would continue to rise, and things would be tight. Then we saw that the even the pound cakes at the neighbourhood cake shop had been lightened. They’re now maybe 3/4 pound or so:

...about 3/4 pound?