Sunday, July 10, 2016

S’pore taxi uncle returns laptop bag with $235,500 cash to drunk Thai passenger

If you are here regarding the taxi driver, then let yourself do your own conclusion. SMRT said they are investigating the case more than 2 months ago. With the current state of the art GPS logging, an immediate answer would be found in a day. But there was no news regarding the investigation until now. SMRT is presumed to let this embarrassing episode slide and fade away. Whoever faked the story, be it taxi driver or BCL, it doesn't matter. It's a reminder to readers not to believe everything they read from the Internet. Many online news are faked and sensationalized. Some are out there to sow hatred while vile website admins earn free ad money from your senseless clicking and sharing. Some are even setup to bait you into liking their FB or website, but in the background they phish all your personal data; either to sell or for criminal activities.

If you're here from external website, then you'll probably know the whole saga. Original CSI materials on this blog have been made private now as this is not the main purpose of this blog. The Internet should have an archive of this content somewhere. You can find it for any further research on your own.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Vivid Sydney 2016

So many cities in the world tried to organize a successful light festival, Sydney in my opinion is the only city that managed to hit the right note. This is by no means a simple feat. It requires city wide planning, coordination and cooperation. Vivid Sydney 2016 managed to bring together the whole city to participate in this grand light festival. Almost every building, streets and parks are lit up in dazzling light projections and exhibits.

All the light shows start from 6-11pm and each sequence lasts for about 10-15 minutes, then it will loop again. You will have ample time to hop around the city to catch other shows. Some light shows are outdoor projections onto buildings like the Opera House, Harbor Bridge and over the waters at Darling harbor. Some are exhibits at parks. Some streets are also turned into a fiesta zone with lights and exhibits. You may also find yourself walking unsuspectingly into some shopping malls with light shows inside as well. Do check out the official website Vivid Sydney for a list of locations and timetable. Vivid Sydney light festival for this year runs from 27th May to 18th June 2016.

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Friday, June 03, 2016

Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (2)

Well, if you have done a basic day tour of the Statue Liberty, Wall Street, Freedom Tower, Times Square, Empire State and Rockefeller, then perhaps you can refer to this alternative one day itinerary for your extra days in New York.

You can start off the morning by heading to Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. This is the decommissioned USS Intrepid aircraft carrier that served in World War 2 and Vietnam War. It opens at 10am. The visit can include the submarine USS Growler. The aircraft carrier itself is huge with open deck, control tower and hangar. You can find all kinds of exhibits and aircraft on display. Notable ones are the SR71 Blackbird, F15 Tomcat, Concorde and even the Enterprise Space Shuttle. Your visit should be done by noon time just in time for a good lunch.

After lunch, you can head off to Central Park. You should start from Columbus Circle. Walk east direction along the edge of the park to warm up until you reach the Gapstow Bridge for a beautiful view of the lake and city buildings reflection. From here, walk north direction along The Mall pathway. This pathway is lined with trees on both sides and it should be a wonderful sight during autumn. You will reach Bethesda Terrace, fountain and another lake. Another famous spot in various films and games. On a good day, you can rent a boat to row in the lake. From here, you can continue to walk north across another beautiful bridge called the Bow Bridge and then reach Belvedere Castle. This is almost halfway point of Central Park. Time check: it should be around 4-5pm now. Walking either east or west from here will bring you to the museums on both sides of the park. The east side is Metropolitan Museum of Arts and the west side is American Museum of Natural History. You may save this visit for your next day or trip.

By 5pm, it is the perfect time to exit the park on the east side and hop onto subway 4 or 6 along Lexington St by 77th St. Take the southward bound train to Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall. From the station exit, you should be able to see the bridge and start your walk across this iconic bridge. The city skyscrapers and sunset will be behind you as you walk across. Once you're over the Brooklyn side, look for pedestrian exit on the left side. The staircase should lead you into Washington St. Walk back up north to the riverside park and a little distance to the left. You should reach Jane's Carousel. If you bring along kids, they will surely love the merry go round ride. Else, find a bench and enjoy the sunset here and watch the Manhattan skyscrapers light up once the sun is down. During summer, you may need to stay until 8-9pm here to see the golden view. So it is best done during spring or autumn when the sun sets earlier and you don't have to wait too long.

After a long day walk, you may now hop onto either trains from High St or York St which is not far from the park to take you back to Manhattan. If you have energy left and keen on supper, you may also walk back via Brooklyn Bridge and head to Chinatown for a good meal before calling it a day.

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Related link: Mini Travel Log: New York, USA (1)

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Mini Travel Log: Narita, Japan (2)

It was an unexpected call up for me to operate a flight from Narita. I expected there isn't much sakura bloom for me to see in Narita so I did not bring my DSLR. I regret that decision after I visited the temple up on the hill and the adjacent Narita park. Little did I know there is such a beautiful garden on top of the hill and best of all, there are quite a number of sakura trees in the park which are already in 60-80% full bloom. Nevertheless, I whipped out my trusted Samsung S6 Edge to take some pictures. The quality turned out so well. Handphone technology has improved tremendously in just short period of time. If you were to compare pictures of Narita taken 5 years ago with my D90 DSLR and now, you would have thought the former was taken using a handphone instead.

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Related link: Mini Travel Log: Narita, Japan (1)

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Mini Travel Log: New York, USA

This is my first time in New York and like any other tourists, I tried to maximize my time here because there are just so many things to do and see here. Is it possible to see the entire New York with 2 day itinerary? No it isn't. But 2 days are enough to warm up to this city and prepare you for your future visits.

My hotel is at Times Square which has the best location and starting point for sightseeing. As I arrived in the afternoon and needed a quick nap, I woke up close to evening time around 5pm. A quick recce at Times Square and then off I go to the Rockefeller Center; few blocks away from where I started. I went up to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck to catch the best sunset and night view of New York City. Entrance fee is not cheap. It costs $32. So plan your trip wisely if you want to see the best sunset view. Choose a clear day to go up. I was short on time so I had no choice but to go up even on a cloudy and drizzling day. I still had a great time up there but I'd probably return again in the future on a clear day to capture more breathtaking shots of the city.

After that, I returned to Times Square for some night shots. I couldn't stay awake much longer due to the jet lag so I called it a day afterwards. For info, Rockefeller Center is along 5th Avenue so you can actually do some night shopping there or save it for another day.

My second day was burned due to rain. The only place I managed to visit was the Central Station. After Central Station, I walked along 5th Avenue for some window shopping while trying to avoid getting soaked now and then.

Third day came with clear blue skies but chilly. I woke up early to rush down to Battery Park for the ferry to Liberty Island. From Times Square, I hopped onto subway no.1 at 50th St, South Ferry Loop. I didn't go down straight to South Ferry Station but made a detour by alighting at Chambers St. Reason being it was around 7am so I decided to see the 9/11 memorial and the new Freedom Tower. Bear in mind the memorial and tribute center only opens at 10am. I just wanted to see the 2 pools which was the former Twin Towers. It was a very sad feeling seeing the names of those sacrificed etched on the plaque around the pool.

I continued to walk south along Broadway and reached the Wall Street area. This area is heavily guarded now but is still accessible to pedestrians. The iconic New York Stock Exchange is not to be missed. Back to Broadway and continuing south, I reached the Charging Bull. Touch it for a dose of good luck perhaps? Another reason I advise others to reach here early is for you to have the whole bull to yourself. If you're here late, the Chinese armies will reach here in bus loads and I guarantee you will not have any space left to touch the bull, let alone taking pictures.

The Bull is just before the entrance to Battery Park. I bought my ferry ticket from Castle Clinton around 8am. Ferry departs at 8.30am and after going through airport styled scans, it is just about the right time. So my advise to you is to stick to your time schedule tight if you plan to do the 9/11 and Wall Street detour. Give yourself an hour for the detour starting from 7am and be at Castle Clinton ticket counter by 8am.

Do take note that normal ticket to Liberty Island and Ellis Island includes both return ferry rides. It costs $18 and includes entrance to the Pedestal only. If you want to climb to the crown of Statue of Liberty, 99.9% you won't be able to buy it at the ticket counter. Buy it online from the official operator Statue Cruises and it runs 2-4 weeks in advance reservations. Meaning anything less than 2 weeks, tickets to the crown are most likely sold out.

Also a word of caution. There are many touts operating around Battery Park entrance and South Ferry terminal station. They are trying to hard sell you tickets to the Liberty Island. My suggestion is avoid them at all costs. The only official operator is Statue Cruises and the ticket counter is right there in Castle Clinton at Battery Park.

I only spent my time on Liberty Island but skipped Ellis Island. The latter island was a former immigrant processing center which has its own histories. If you have the time, by all means visit this island after Liberty Island. It was included in the ticket anyway. By skipping Ellis Island, I was back in Manhattan by noon time.

As time was not on my side, that wraps up my short sightseeing trip in New York. As you can see, 2 days are not enough to cover this metropolis. But it does get you to the important landmarks around New York.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Mini Travel Log: Paris, France

* Last entry for the year 2015. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Undeterred by the gun attacks in Paris, I ventured out to see the Christmas lights and decorations in Paris. It was indeed a rewarding and wonderful experience. With more presence of police, soldiers and more stringent checks, it may cause a bit of inconvenience but I felt much safer and it is necessary at times like this.

I found a place with the best view of Paris during sunset and night. It is at the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Ticket price is at 8 euros per person. Queues can be quite long just before sunset so do arrive at least half an hour to one hour earlier. Currently, the lift is out of order so you have to climb 384 steps to the top. As tripods are not allowed (probably to deny commercial photography and copyright reasons), remember to bring a high ISO and fast camera along or else you will need a very steady pair of hands to take the impossible night shots.

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Mini Travel Log: Zurich, Switzerland

Now that I'm flying the A380, I'm going to a few more new places. I came back to Switzerland after my Swiss Mega Tour 5 years ago. This was a short 2-night stay and I couldn't venture to places further than Zurich itself. I took the opportunity to revisit the old town section along the river and walked towards Lake Zurich. It was a Sunday and unfortunately all stores in that section were closed. So a reminder to others visiting Zurich: do not visit the town on Sundays.

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Related link: Swiss Mega Tour

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mini Travel Log: Oxford, UK

When one mentions Oxford, the oldest and prestigious Oxford University and the list of famous graduates comes into mind. The old town itself houses the university with various faculties, colleges and departments spread all over the town; or you could say the whole university compound is the town itself; whichever way you want to see it. It is amazing that while you are walking in the town, you are actually walking inside the university. Many old and majestic medieval buildings are actually part of the university itself. Some colleges do charge a visitor fee for entrance and visiting time after 2pm. Famous colleges like the Christ Church and Merton College charge an exorbitant entrance fee of 5 pounds while some lesser colleges do have free entrance. I do recommend you to visit the Radcliffe Camera (restricted access library) and climb the tower of The University Church of St Mary the Virgin to have a fantastic 360 view of the town. You can check out the Botanic Garden east of the town next to the river. For a 5 pound entrance fee, I would suggest you visit the garden only in spring or summer time. As I visited during autumn, the garden was mostly neglected awaiting winter and I still had to pay the entrance fee. The river is alive with boat rides and punting during summer time.

Oxford is easily accessible from London either by trains or buses. Many would have thought it is cheaper and faster by train. But this is not the case. If you choose train option and travel before 9am, you would have to pay 60 pounds for a same day return ticket! Trains after 9am cost 24.80 pounds and it is still expensive. Moreover, the train stops at Oxford station which is actually outside the town and you need another 5-10 minute walk to the town. The cheaper and hassle free option would be the direct London-Oxford buses. Currently there are 2 operators departing from different locations in London. One is the X90 and the other Oxford Tube. You can check out their websites to choose where to board from bus stops nearest to your hotel. I chose the Oxford Tube because I stay at Hilton Kensington nearby Sheperd's Bush. The bus stop is right outside the hotel. The bus runs at a frequency of 20-30 minutes. Ticket can be bought from the bus driver and it only costs 18 pounds for same day return. Journey time is just an hour, which is about the same as train. The best thing is that the bus stops inside the town at the old cinema. You can explore Oxford right away once you alight from the bus.

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