Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My world Tuesday: Tunnels

These new tunnels cut the travel in the North. But you have to pay tolls. When I arrived in New Zealand in 1978, you had to pay tolls on the Auckland Harbour bridge. The people protested that they were the only people in New Zealand who has to pay to use the road. The toll was abolished when you cross the bridge.

Now as you enter this tunnel, it is payment in Singapore's user pay system, the computer automatically sensors your car, and informs the transportation department, or you queue at the booth or at the gas station. My friend was telling me that during the holiday period, the tranport dept was also on holiday, and this caused a lot of disruption to the foreign tourist. What an archiac system, they wrote to the newspapers.

As for me, travelling into a tunnel is a sendtimental one. It reminds me of the tunnerl from Windsor in Canada to Detroit in USA. Had a few stories too. Save these for another day. I have to go out.


outdoor wednesday: cart in Papua New Guinea

a cart similar to the one in Sarawak in Papua New Guinea


Monday, January 30, 2012

Save the World: Be careful when you release your balloons.

There two two balloons up on the ceiling.

I had wanted to do this post two yeas ago, I was privileged to be invited to stay in a private island at a private waterway. What I found that was not so private was the invarsion of a released balloon. I was frolicking with my son and nephews when I saw a shimmering coloured object in the shape of a fish. I quickly grabbed a net to try to catch what I thought was a fish.

In stead, to my disappointment, and anger, it was the remains of a non biodegradible balloon. Had this balloon ended in a whale, you can imagine what will happen to the whale. The balloon also have strings that can tangle the beaks of birds, or turtles.

These days, there are biodegradible balloons for people to release, but they are expensive. Unless you are passionate about the environment, it is hard to persuade people to buy these balloons.

I was at the Auckland International airport, waiting for my husband to come back. I was watching a woman with a toddler who was holding one of these balloons. Before you can say boo, the child had accidentally let go, and the balloon floated to the celing. It was hullabaloo, as the child wanted another, and the mum wasn't getting another , as these balloons are not cheap.

I looked up the ceiling, there was another one. Fortunately, in this case, the balloon was released indoors. But how many balloons escape when there is a party outdoors. I was at an outdoor function, people cheered when a balloon floated away. I was sad.

What can you do other than releasing balloons, especially mass release, why not save the money and plant a tree instead. Or you can donate books to the library.

Sorry if you think I am a kill joy. I happen to be a silent partner of Green Peace.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Scans: Cats and Gattina

I started blogging in November 2008, being a green horn, I had no idea of commenting, or memes. Gattina soon became my friend. We soon found we have a passion about cats. It was a different kind of passion, she really was passionate about her cats. As for me, I cared for cats for a humane reason. We not only commented on each other's blog posts, we emailed each other.

The one time I ever got to Belgium was when I was on transit from Singapore to New York. With one from Belgium and one from ex Borneo, and now in New Zealand, it was strange that we should become friends. But we did.

Gattina has a new blog, Saturday Photo Hunt. This week's challenge being dark. In Borneo, our cats like the dark. We don't feed them in the evening, the idea is when they are hungry, they will hunt. Hunt they did, our cats were the best mousers. Once, a Sultan of Middle East scoured the whole wide world for the best mouser, and he found our Sarawak cat. He imported many of our cats to breed with his non mouser cats. I was so proud of my cats.

I have not asked Gattina for her permission to use this photo because I wanted to surprise her. I love this photo, Gattina is full of life here, and when I was little, the Vespa was very "ooo ah!!!!" in Sibu, Sarawak.

Below are two posts I wrote when I was involved in Cat Cafe when I was in Singapore.

If I recall rightly, the concept of Cat Cafes started in Europe where well meaning tourists fed stray cats with morsels of food. Other customers were irrate with the cats and those who fed the cats. Hence,that was the start of Cat Cafes.

It was in 2004, I was in Singapore living in a university campus. There were a lot of feral animals or stray cats as there were plenty of food left behind by canteen operators, hostel living students who miss their cats at home, and other just well meaning residents on the campus. Cats were however, "either you love them or you hated them". I belong to neither, I just didn't like cruelty to animals.

The university management, following up complaints by those who hated the cats, imposed a policy to euthanize all strays cats. If your cat was a pet, it should have a collar. There was a misconstrued perception that the campus was overrun by feral cats. With the cats rummaging through the rubbish and sleeping in the canteens, there was a potential conflict of the cat population with human hygiene.

J. arranged a meeting with a few cat lovers to consider the feasibility of establishing "Cat Cafes". I was invited because of my openness in verbalizing issues and my connection to a website and my PR exercise in many social issues.

From the initial meeting, and subsequent public relations exercises, we enlisted more volunteers donate money to buy cat food and to feed the strays in designated areas: Cat Cafes. We also caught the wild cats to neuter or spay them.

Soon these wild feral cats became tame pussy cats. Sterilized cats were inserted with a mirco-chip in their ears so that when the "cat-nappers" come to catch wild cats, they would know that these cats are clients of our Cat Cafe.

Soon our Cat Cafe business extended from our original 3 cafes to 8. The intended results are as follows: a reduction of the homeless cat population in the long term because of our successful sterilization program; maintaining the existing cat population in good health so that the cats do not constitute a health menace to other animals and keeping new, unsterilized cats from invading the campus.

One adverse result we found was illegal dumping of cats. As our activities were very high profile, we soon found people dumping their unwanted cats.

While I gave an initial donation and did the early publicity, I did not volunteer to feed the cats. But this anecdote is one which earned me my nickname "cat lover". In the beginning, a family adopted a pair of beautiful grey Persian mix kittens. This family left the campus without telling any one. Months later, (presumably they were well settled in their new home overseas) they emailed me about their abandonment of the cats. That was how I became a cat feeder, hoping to entice the cats to come to feed at a Cafe Cat near to my house. These kittens unfortunately had become wild cats, they would eat our food, but would still sneak into our neighbors house and steal their food.

Soon there were two groups of residents. "Get rid of the cats, they are a great hassle," and the Cat cafe group," Please give us some time." I was glad I had left to New Zealand then.

***This cat is someone's cat, some one killed it***

These are food for cats. These cats were fed by the cat cafe members including myself, but these are not the regular cat cafes.

The two cats that come to feed from these two bowls were abandoned, Binte and Dewey wouldn't be enticed to the normal cafe. So we fed them twice a day where they normally were hiding. They were spoilt cats, preferring only a certain brand of cat food and chicken.

If you look carefully, there are two bowls for each cat. The food is kept inside the smaller bowl which is then kept inside the big bowl of water. This water forms a moat against ants. In tropical Singapore, there are a lot of big fire ants. If the bowl of food is put directly on the ground, in no time, the food will be swarmed by ants. This was my friend J.'s idea. She is very passionate and experienced with feeding cats.

These cats caused a long saga in the university. There were those who like cats and those who don't. I don't know what has happened to them.

I was feeding Binte and Dewey because I couldn't stand cruelty to animals.


Gattina's Saturday Photo Hunt

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Photo Hunting: Dark train tunnel

During our track at the Hillary Trail, we came to a real railway track. After walking a while in the dark, we turned back, It was a tiny tunnel. We did not know the train schedule and didn't want to be in the dark tunnel when the train came.

Posted for this week's theme "Dark" at
Saturday Photo Hunting
hosted by our friend Gattina in Belgium. Thanks, Gattina!


Sunday Stills-Nature’s Frames

This challenge was moderately difficult. I enjoyed it. Thanks Linda.

Sunday Stills-Nature’s Frames
January 22, 2012 by Linda

This next weeks challenge is to get something framed by nature. Trees making a frame over a stream, a branch making a fork around the moon…nature does a lot of this if we’ll just open our eyes and look.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Friday Shootout: Delicate

We had a surprise this afternoon. My principal organised a surprise treat for us. We had cooking lessons at http://www.maincourse.co.nz/
We made couple of delicate dishes.

Kieren's delicate Thai chicken roll. She was at the next station to mine, and I saw her cutting delicate "lace" work. This is a winning dish.

The cheese ricotta delicate things are very delicate to come out of the silicon tray. I laughed out loud, when Luana, from another team came to help us. No wonder we won.

I have never made lemon tarts before. When Kate asked me to make them, I was really nervous. They have to be baked at the right length of time, otherwise they will split. I didn't help when our oven broke down. Juliet told me to rest them before getting them out. That's how delicate they were. They will break if removed too early from their cases. I am not going to comment on cooking contestants when they say, "I have never made this before." Please look at the tiny delicate cut grapes that Nina did to decorate the tarts.

The coach Jen Jordan taught us well. All our food were not just edible but they were delicious, and well presented. You could see our creativity put in practise.

From an academic school, Pt Chevalier School, the teachers arrive to become cooking students at Main Course, the southern end of the Historic Gas Buildings on Victoria Park in Auckland city.

Thank you, Sandra for this fun event.

My final photo, a tribute to my Domestic Science teacher Mdm Tiong, who taught me when I was 14, to cook delicate yam puffs and to crochet beautiful lace. No, I didn't crochet this, I saw it at a shop window at Pt Chevalier.

Delicate: Show us the delicate side of town! The dancers, the flowers, architectural ornaments..that is our subject this week:)

link to Mr Linky at the Friday shoot out link below.

Green Peace, No deep sea oil drilling

My No deep sea Oil Drilling sign was ripped away by an idiot. I happened to be nearby with my camera. I wanted to snap her photo and confront her. On second thoughts, I decided as a friend of Green Peace, I was too gentleman to be engaged in a scuffle. It won't be good if I appeared on National TV for breaking the peace.

This Green peace member stands at a street corner educating about protecting the earth. Sometimes, he is subjected to abuse like the person who ripped away my sign. But he always smiles.

Rena photo courtesy The NZ Herald.

Salvage crews have removed four containers of dangerous goods from the bow of the broken ship Rena.

Maritime New Zealand said the containers removed yesterday held empty tanks that were formerly used to store hydrogen peroxide.

Most of the chemical had escaped from the tanks - though residual traces remained, MNZ said.

Cargo recovery company Braemer Howells would use special procedures to process the dangerous goods when they were brought ashore.

Salvors have now recovered 43 containers from the Rena since it broke in two earlier this month.

About 400 containers are still in the mostly submerged stern section of the ship.

Here's an email from Green Peace.

Dear Ann,

A child's spade in the spilled oil2012 is a critical year for New Zealand’s coastlines.

As the Rena finally breaks up and Bay of Plenty residents brace themselves for more oil on local beaches, international oil giants see only the ‘opportunity’ of deep sea oil drilling around New Zealand’s coast lines.

An estimated 20,000 birds died after the shipwrecked Rena spilled 350 tonnes of oil into the Bay of Plenty. The death toll amongst other wildlife, like whales, seals and fish, will likely never be known.

A team from Greenpeace was there to help with the clean up but we never want to see oil on NZ beaches again.

A spill from a deep sea oil rig could be more than a thousand times worse than that seen from the Rena. A blowout similar to that experienced by the deep-water horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico would overwhelm New Zealand. Our beaches, marine life, tourism and fisheries industries are all at risk of devastation.

This year will be crucial to stopping the oil giants coming to our shores. To stop them we need your help.

Please make a real difference and join Greenpeace today.

Your donation will support our work to reverse the government’s policy of opening NZ waters to deep sea oil drilling.

Thank you again,

Calendar Cover Image- Maeve Doherty and the whole crew at Greenpeace

PS When you start a monthly donation of $30 or more, you will receive as a special welcome, a 2012 Greenpeace calendar with your first donation.



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

my world tuesday: Waitakere Ranges , New Zealand


Edmond Hillary was the first man who reached Mount Everest. He is a New Zealander. This trail is named after him, but we are sure it is not the trail he used to train. We went on Monday, but we didn't go on the whole way. We went 2.5 km.

Hillary Trail

The Hillary Trail connects a network of existing regional park tracks and basic backpacker campgrounds. It takes trampers through the Waitakere Ranges, past the Arataki Visitor Centre, Huia, Whatipu, Karekare, Piha, Anawhata, and either winding north to Muriwai via the Department of Conservation's Te Henga Walkway, or through Cascade Kauri Park and onto Swanson. Trampers can also choose a public transport option, beginning their journey at Titirangi and connecting with the train at Swanson.

The Trail epitomises the sense of adventure and personal achievement that Ed Hillary himself championed and was renowned for. It is not a walk in the park - but a chance for well-prepared trampers to experience the diverse, and often challenging west coast. The ARC hopes that creating an opportunity like this, in close proximity to urban Auckland, will inspire Aucklanders to get outdoors and experience the wilderness that exists on their own doorstep.
Hillary Trail facts

The trail takes trampers through the Waitakere Ranges
Is approximately 70km
Based on four days, three nights
Back country campground stays
For experienced trampers and those with a high level of fitness
The trail was officially opened on 11 January 2010
Is bookable by phoning 09 366 2000 or visiting the Arataki Visitor Centre


Monday, January 23, 2012

Save the world: Do not spit.

I grew up in Borneo with the fear of TB aka tuberculosis, and we were told educated people should not spit. TB was a very fearful disease. People were sent to sanitorium and they die.

Just the other day, I could hear foot steps behind me, and that awful sound of someone about to bring his spit out. Next thing, I could feel the spit almost landing on my legs. This idiot brought his unhealthy habit to New Zealand.

I like the model of Singapore where I lived for sixteen year. Despite whatever people say about Singapore, Singapore is clean and safe.

$500-$1000 Fine: Spitting in public
Spitting laws have been in the Singapore law books since the early 1900s but have only recently seen stepped up enforcement. The last available data on stepped up enforcement appears to be in the early to mid-1980s, when presumably the spread of tuberculosis. Recently, with the SARS, it was enough to frighten people. However, of late, there is a wave of new immigrants, even though they are very educated, they still have the nasty habit.

When I went to pick the water engineer from his international trip, I saw this rubbish bin in the Auckland International Arrival lounge. I hope everyone reads the notice. If not, I hope more people will read this notice from this blog and my facebook.