Planes I’ve Been On – Part 1

Because of our recent flurry of travel, and the accompanying explaining of trains, planes and other vehicles to our son, I’ve compiled a list of aircraft I’ve been on, and the airlines who flew the flights. Yes, it does show my age.

Because of our recent flurry of travel, and the accompanying explaining of trains, planes and other vehicles to our son, I’ve compiled a list of aircraft I’ve been on, and the airlines who flew the flights. Yes, it does show my age.

Boeing 737

Carriers: Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines System

B737
First Generation Boeing 737-112: I remember this plane as being my first ever flight – to KL from Singapore. I was about four or five, and I tried to run up the stairs and fell backwards and hit my head. I spent the 50 minute flight crying and nursing a giant baluku.

Boeing 707

Carriers: Singapore Airlines

Boeing 707-320B – Singapore Airlines used these for medium-haul flights. I remember being on one to Taipei.

McDonnell-Douglas DC-Super-8

Carriers: Japan Air Lines, Philippine Airlines

McDonnell-Douglas DC-8 in Japan Air Lines livery. I remember the family vacation in 1977 which featured this plane – and distinctly remember the windows having curtains instead of plastic window shades. The Philippine Airlines flight we were on was more memorable for the fact that it had to go around when attempting to land in Manila.

Boeing 747-200

Carriers: Qantas, Singapore Airlines, CP Air

Boeing 747-200: It was 1980 and my parents were taking us to Melbourne for the first time since they left in 1965. Changi Airport was still a year away from completion. So when I saw this plane from the bus that was taking us to it on the tarmac, I nearly peed myself in excitement. It was my first ‘jumbo-jet’ ride.

Boeing 747-SP

Carrier: Pan Am

The Boeing 747-SP was a shortened version of the 747-100, and ‘SP’ stood for ‘Special Performance’, because this plane was supposed to fly further and faster than other 747s. The flight I took from Los Angeles to Singapore however, took on epic proportions, as we stopped in Honolulu, then unscheduled in Okinawa to refuel, then Hong Kong before coming home. I remember that 23 hours on board, in an era where you weren’t asked to leave an aircraft in transit.

Boeing 727

Carriers: Singapore Airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines, Western Airlines

The Boeing 727 is a tri-jet, with a notable feature – a rear stair-door. This allowed a famous incident where an unknown hijacker opened it midair and parachuted off it to escape.

Lockheed L-1011 Tristar

Carrier: Cathay Pacific

Airbus A300

Carriers: Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways

The A300 was the world’s first wide-bodied commercial jet with only two engines. The most memorable flight for me was in 1989, when the SAF chartered three flights to get us to training in Thailand. We landed in an unknown (to us NSFs) airfield somewhere in Thailand, in the middle of the night. We de-planed with our baggage, and the plane powered up and took off into the night.

Airbus A310

Carrier: Singapore Airlines

Airbus A310 – this aircraft became the SIN-KUL shuttle in the years before low-cost carriers appeared. Both MAS and SIA operated this route which at the time was one of the world’s most lucrative sectors. A return flight could cost around S$300 – and this was in the 1990s.
Of course, one of the SIA A310s was famous for an unsavoury incident – the SQ117 hijack.

Give Your Loved Ones, Friends Or Colleagues Free Tigerair Flights This Festive Season

Start counting down early with Tigerair as they give away 2014 pairs of air tickets in their Friend Fly Free Contest.

It starts today and all you have to do is nominate your best friend, colleague or family member and tell them why Tigerair should fly him or her to any Tigerair destination for free!

Simply leave a comment on Tigerair’s FB posts between 29 November 2013 – 13 December 2013, tag or mention your friends/colleagues/family member and say:

“I wish <Friend> can fly to <Tigerair destination> for free because <he/she is awesome>.”

If your friend/family/colleague isn’t yet your BFF, they’d definitely be your BFF to infinity and beyond if your nomination won and they get a pair of return tickets!

Quick, think of who you know who deserves a break – like friends who’ve gotten married but haven’t gone on their honeymoon! Or your colleague who’s been so kind as to cover for your slackness! Or your boss, so that you’re in her/his good books.

They could end up lounging in Lombok or diving in the Maldives – just look up Tigerair on Facebook facebook.com/tigerair for where your friends wanna go next year!

There’ll be 134 tickets for each of the next 14 days and another 138 on 13 December 2013.

 

tigerair

*Only one entry per person per day. Only open to nominees who have not travelled with Tigerair in the last 6 months. Vouchers are valid from 5 Jan – 30 Jun 2014, excluding taxes and surcharges. Other terms and conditions apply.  

Eating tour of Shanghai in pictures

We left Shanghai with a lighter heart and heavier tummy, and this is why:

This beer cost 10 RMB. That's S$2. Basement of Times Square, Shanghai

You are not allowed to eat the menu

We didn't know that Ye Shanghai wasn't the same as Old Ye Shanghai, and we paid for it

French coffee in the French Concession

An inviting vegetarian cafe in the same district

Candied hawthorn fruit sold on the street, which we were later warned against, cos they're not hygienically prepared. Oops.

In case you didn't know how to drink Chocolate - at Whisk!

The best Peking Duck in Shanghai - Xindalu

Lillian's slogan borrowed from Carlsberg: Probably The Best Egg Tart In Shanghai

Franck's was a most delightful bistro on a most delightful street

Putting Naomi in a candy store is like putting Naomi in a candy store.

Best dumpling in the world. About to be eaten.

They mixed the sweet and savoury dumplings in the same bowl. Which was weird.

Best Taiwanese food in Shanghai is here, apparently

We were a little horrified at the lack of pedicure. Our Shanghainese relatives didn't share our concern.

Bound to be eaten - Shanghainese Hairy Crab

We found the cafe chain Wagas to be surprisingly good.

No, it wasn't a baby turkey. We asked.

Possibly the best meat dumplings in the world

At Hong Kong New World Plaza, they served freshly made beancurd (douhua) in a tub like this. And we emptied it like this.

These were the most delicious black sesame filled pumpkin dumplings we ever tasted

Naomi's late brother loved this Xinjiang kebab vendor's fare. So did we.

The skewered meats/vegetables were infused with the flavors that only some inedible fuel could create

Fortylove.tv

One of my favourite travellers and one of my favourite bloggers happen to be the same person, and she’s got this new “little travel podcast thingie” (yeah, what do we call these things nowsadays?) at fortylove.tv, where she and another traveller record their travels across the Middle East and Europe.

You can almost feel the sand in your mouth from the storms.


Dubai Fish Market Wrestling from fortylovetv.

My forefathers ate bowls of chicken droppings

Bowl of Chicken Poop
Photo by Lee Xian Jie

“My family is descended from Confucius”, said the chubby Year 12 Boy to me when I didn’t ask about his pedigree. I must have doubted him or given him some dismissive look prior to that statement that prompted him to reveal that fact.

This was some years ago in Sydney, when a friend asked me to give tuition to his son (the Year 12 boy) who had been struggling with some of his HSC subjects.

“So, his full name is Confucius Chan?”, I said, before asking him how he and his family found out this fact, and whether it had been orally handed down (son, I am your father) through generations, or whether some Chinese genealogist had told his family their glorious past and then said thank you after a cheque was written out.

Yes, it was after a consultation, Year 12 Boy said. That made him and his family about the fourth group of “Confucius Descendants” I had met in Sydney alone. That Chinese genealogist/fengshui/kungfu master must be living it up in Vaucluse or somewhere similarly awash with money, while several of his clients languish in their fair dinkum fortune cookie businesses.

I’m not sure if it’s the same guy’s work, but a distant Chinese-Australian cousin I met at uni told me her father told her that her grandfather participated in the Long March. A check with my dad later revealed that the only march that cousin’s family ever did was around the Katong area, together with the other wealthier Hainanese families who, I’m told, populated that district back in the day.

There was also another Hainanese enclave in the Upper Thomson area, which was known alternatively as the estate with 800 (terrace) houses or Hainan Hill.

I’m not sure whether that’s really true, as I know of only two Hainanese families who used to live there, and the same Hainanese relative who told me this also told me that the embattled Malaysian PM has Hainanese blood, as does the wife of Cambodian PM Hun Sen. Lubricate this relative a little with some traditional Hainanese drink, and he’ll tell you how Hainanese the Soong Sisters were, and how the Americans should vote for Hilary Clinton because she has Hainanese blood.

I understand why so many diasporic ethnic groups yearn for some connection to some glorious ancestry (excepting of course, the Anglo-Celtic Australians). This is especially so if you happen to be ethnic Chinese. You have some of the universe’s most common surnames, like mine, and there’s not much distinguishing you from the other 1.4 billion lookalikes.

Take Peranakan Chinese for instance, they’re immensely proud of their heritage, even if it means they’re only Baba through marriage via second cousins thrice removed. I’ve heard of some boasting of a genealogical line dating to Admiral Cheng Ho (Zheng He), notwithstanding the fact that he was a eunuch. At the temple to Cheng Ho in Malacca (known as San Bao Kung), hundreds of Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese pilgrims pay their respects each year to that great Muslim eunuch admiral for planting the um… seeds of their rich Straits heritage.

My ethnic relations, on the other hand, made a world famous cocktail drink, and I’m rather proud of that, and I wouldn’t have wanted a lineage of warriors and other martial heroes. Eating is always better than fighting, as a Hainanese saying would go, if there was such a saying.

And so we were eating together some time during the fifteen days of Chinese New Year, at a non-Hainanese restaurant, when the topic of Hainanese greatness was brought up. A scientifically inclined cousin who is a very high-ranking office bearer at a local university thought it sensible to burst our collective bubble, lest we conjured glorious but unrealistic images of past Hainanese Heroes.

“Hainanese is not a race, lah!”, he said.

“Yah I know, but”… I said.

“It’s just a dialect group from south of China, that’s why it’s called Hai Nam – South Sea”, he said.

“Yah I know, but why do people say Hainanese men have a flat patch at the back of their large heads and have high foreheads?”, I said.

“Rubbish”, frowned Scientific Cousin, rubbing the flat patch at the back of his large head.

“But as a dialect group, we’ve managed to create national foods for two countries – Singapore and Russia“, I said.

“And there’s one more. Chicken Droppings Dessert. That would have been a great national dish if they changed the name”, I said some more.

“Chicken Droppings Dessert?”, asked Scientific Cousin, at which point, the rest of the Cousins triumphantly explained that it was a traditional Hainanese dish made from some unknown herb, and that if you were to ask any old Hainanese timer what the herb was, he or she would simply tell you, “Chicken Droppings Plant lah! Don’t ask so much, just eat the shit cos it’s good for you.”

I’ve only ever tasted the dish, Guay Dai Bua, literally translated as “A Bowl Of Chicken Droppings”, once, on a trip to Hainan, and I was chuffed to discover another Singaporean-Hainanese make the pilgrimage and sample from the holy grail of sorts.

Lee Xian Jie has documented his trip with many photographs of the Old Country, and his blog is a good place to visit if you’re ever interested about Hainan and her peoples (with large heads and high foreheads).

It makes me all proud and queasy at the same time, which is what being Hainanese is all about.