Thursday, November 24, 2005
I've also learnt from an early age that NO ONE can force you to do housework, so long as you're legitimately engaged in the private sanctuary! heh heh...
So, what's the read of the day? Ikea 2005 Catalogue? Nah, gone through that a gazillion times! Time magazine? Not in the mood. What's this? Front cover : photo of a strange lookin' man with hexagonal-shaped glasses and a distinct goatie. A bubble pops from his head that reads "FISH". Upon taking a closer look, "Ahh....it's the 2006 Gary Fisher Catalog....and this dude must be Gary Fisher, the designer of those groovy looking' bikes, a who's who in the mountain biking world!"
My mind wanders off to my first bike shopping experience, with Ricky. I glanced at a silver and yellow aluminium Gary Fisher! It was love at first sight! Look at the.....cool colours....and that merman on a bike motif is a real classic! Evidently, colour and picture motifs were the 2 essential criteria to a lady's heart I have come to realise.....at least for a lady's first time bike purchase!
Ricky yanked me aside, "No, no, no! That model's a lower-end beginner's bike! You should be looking at good components, parts. Feel the comfort. Make sure it fits! Now, look at that Specialized Rockhopper. Full XT / XTR parts, right sized frame. Fits you perfectly! And good value for money."
"But.......but.....it's a dull blue!" There were no buts.
"Sweetlips" became an item in my household and has served me well....til Firefly swept me off my feet. Making sure Sweetlips wasn't neglected, I passed her onto Ping the Space Cadet.
Firefly, a Trek 8500 (see bike on left), was a present from Maximuzz. Red wasn't my colour either, but this hardtail grew on me like a pair of external legs, and I can't imagine giving her up for another bike. And my hunger for better bike parts just about stopped right there! The only times I've had to think of upgrades was when Firefly was injured and needed parts replaced. But otherwise, I was content, coz a bike to me was just a means to an end - riding on trails! That explains why my knowledge of the latest bike models and bike parts was so poor, because it was something that didn't interest me.
Now, back to the loo. I stared into Gary's eyes (errr...glasses) and exclaimed, "I'm quite happy with my Firefly, thank you very much" and flipped to page 2 to see what he had to say about that.
"Does a bike have a soul? By Gary Fisher
I don’t think bikes are sacred. But I know biking is.
Maybe this sounds like sacrilege coming from a bike guy. But you’ve gotta remember, bikes to me are just a means to an end. I spent 1974 ripping apart cruisers because I thought it would be fun to propel myself and my friends down mountains. It was fun, too, but many a bike met a strange and gruesome fate in the process.
Stuff, in and of itself, just doesn’t mean much to me. Bikes included. Really, what are they? Metal and rubber? Joints and lubes? Come on. That thing is just one small ingredient in the big, big recipe called riding. It’s almost a question of priorities; if you’re too madly in love with a bike, maybe you’re losing track of what really matters.
If I got my hands on Jimi Hendrix’s guitar, you know what I’d do? Play it. Lick it. Sleep with it. Try to ride whatever wave Jimi left in it, or at least get it to tell me some secrets. Maybe I’d even set it on fire, just like he did.
Which gets me to my point. There’s one way for a bike to have a soul. The rider has to put it there.
If I put my soul in Gary Fisher bikes, there wouldn’t be room for yours.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: The best bike is one that disappears when you ride it. I live for the moments when the bike just blots itself out, and every little element is singing the same note - me, the bike, the trail, the sky, the dirt. Yes, yes, yes.
Maybe what I’m trying to say is this: ride more.
Get on a bike. Fall off a bike.
Leave something of yourself in it.
Does a bike have a soul? Only if you do."
Gary, where have you been all my life? You are MY BIKE GURU!!! Reading that one-pager summarises my philosophy on biking! I googled "Gary Fisher" and found out that he was the man responsible for the creation and evolution of mountain biking. An inventor and innovator, he created the mountain bike in 1974 and continues to make technical breakthroughs today! A little bitta trivia : he used to do lighting for Grateful Dead shows! Ok, you probably already know that, but what a revelation!!!
The last 3 sentences kept ringing in my head.
1. Get on a bike.
2. Fall off a bike.
3. Leave something of yourself in it.
I can say Firefly and I have been through thick and thin. My worse bike fall was succinctly summarised pictorially below by Mingloid, an eye witness. There were many versions of my face plant story, but I like this one best.
Does Firely have a soul? Do I have a soul? I'd like to think this incident is the answer to the question. But, I still wouldn't trade Firefly for another bike....unless it was a Gary Fisher! :)
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
How does a bike trail evolve? Who were the first bikers to have rode it? What was it like before it became a biketrail? What do you have to do to make it a biketrail? Who maintains these trails? Do we take our trails for granted? How many of these thoughts ever crossed your mind while you're pedaling....or posing with your biker friends....or while chomping on prata after a hard day's ride?
Well, it has crossed mine, several times.
I felt honoured to have been one of the few cyclists to have tread on virgin trail when we took part in the CGW Cyclethon organised by NWCDC and NParks on 12 Nov 2005. For more photos, go to Siva's blog (including the one which the photo above was lifted off from).
It was a cyclethon around the northern half of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve as part of Clean and Green Week 2005. Bike Route : Zhenghua Park - Gangsa Track - Track 15 - Mandai Lake Road - Old Mandai Road - Seletar Reservoir - New offroad trail - Old Upper Thomson Road - Bishan Park!
I have ridden on most of the route, except for the new offroad trail. But still, it was splendid!
I wondered what other bikers thought of the whole exercise?
Did the seasoned cyclist friends think the new path was not challenging enough? Most of the new trail was rather flat and muddy, compared to a more challenging Bukit Timah biketrail.
Would they ride this trail more often, now that they knew it was a new trail sanctioned by NParks? I did last Sunday and it felt great to explore the new territory once again.
I felt it was encouraging (and almost miraculous) that new trails could be created in this little island that we live in! It was a breath of fresh air, compared to the barage of news sounding like : XXX reclaimed for security reasons, or XXX cleared to make way for more condominiums etc. etc.
My fascination with trails started when I met Patrick Brunsdon in Malaysia. More than just one of the regular bikers, he deserves special mention for his dedication and effort in maintaining and building new trails in Bukit Kiara on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The hills there are a biker's last wild frontier and Patrick is the fearless pioneer.
According to Patrick (a.k.a. Pig Pen), his initial motive for developing and maintaining the trails were mainly for his own purposes and satisfaction. However, his passion, perseverance and efforts have helped to shape the face of Bukit Kiara as it stands today and fuel the path to the Kiara Grand Prix (KGP) Mountain Bike Championship in 2001, a 6-staged series of time trail races. Many races have been held at Kiara ever since, and Patrtick I hear has been asked to be an adviser on all matters relating to trail-creation.
Anyway, Patrick figured that if he wanted the trails at Bukit Kiara to stay open so he could ride and enjoy them, he'd have to take it upon himself to take care of them. He did the trail maintenance for his own benefit and satisfaction. He tried to encourage people to ride there but for various reasons very few tried it.
He had long since mapped the whole area using a GPS, again mainly for his own purposes. He needed the map to figure out where to add a few key trails, which changed the whole complexion of riding there. It added a lot of variation, and also made it possible for riders who weren't expert to make a complete loop that was fun rather than a descent into the third ring of hell!
Finally, Patrick posted his trail map in a couple of bike shops and passed it out to anyone who asked. All of a sudden the map was everywhere! People were hiking and biking, and when Patrick would stop and talk to them they would pull out a copy of his map, so he could help them find their way around (even with a map, Kiara is still confusing to the uninitiated).
For more info about Kiara, go to Battlefield Kiara. And for more trailguides in Malaysia, go to Bikehash Malaysia.
BUKIT TIMAH BIKE TRAIL
Now, back to Singapore. I often hear Singaporean bikers complain that Singapore doesn't have many biketrails to offer. Many either turn to Malaysia for more enjoyable rides, and some quit mountain biking completely to take on road cycling or other sports.
For me, I believe it took great pains for the existing bike trails to be carved out and built in Singapore, and we should be proud of what we have!
How did the Bukit Timah Biketrail come to be? It was said that back in the 1980’s or thereabouts, bikers were riding illegally on the BT trails before it became bike trails! SACA, who was then represented by Mike Bailey, had approached Nparks to open up the BT trails to bikers, since the demand for biking had increased and Nparks didn't have to continue issuing summons to bikers. Something good must have come out of those meetings because today, we have a wonderful bike trail called the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve Bike trail!
I do ride in Malaysia and other countries, but I would highly recommend my friends to our local trails, which I ride religiously over the weekends. For more information about cycling in Singapore, go to SACA's url on Cycling in Singapore and a Cycling in Singapore blog.
Wouldn't it be great if Singapore could open up more biketrails? :)
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Gone to Doggie Heaven - Saturday evening, 19 November 2005 @ 11ish pm.
Age : 15 human years x 7 (human-canine mutiplier) = 105 yrs old
Mother : Julia (see photo below).
Father : Unknown (probably a Rott Weiler from his markings).
Breed : Contentment.
Tar Baby lived, a member of our family, til the ripe old age of 15 earth years! And I never really knew what his name meant until today (Word of the Day : Tar Baby) . Always suspected it had derogatory connotations, but it was a name given to him by Ping's friend, Manisha, a Mensa student, and we grew to love the name...and him.
Animals have always been a way of life for us - dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, fish, birds, terrapins, salamanders....you name it, we probably kept it! It is believed that kids who grow up with animals become much nicer folk....and I think there's probably some truth in that saying, given the fact we didn't turn out to be mass murderers. Moreoever, I've seen the effects animals have on born-again-animal-lovers or animal converts. That twinkle in their eye when they talk about their "kids"...and then they start to bake organic canine cookies....
TAR (as he has come to be known) was probably a product of wild groovy unrestrained love; the bastard son of JULIA (see photo of gorgeous Golden Retriever on the right). She was the alpha female of a pack of 2 then : just her and her little sister from a different litter, CAESAR (see photo below, my dog). Can't remember how they acquired their names, but I think my dad named them. We found out BRUTUS, a toydog, lived down the lane from us. To close up the Roman loop, we named our cat, CLEO (see below).
Anywayz, the tireless aim of JULIA and CAESAR on a daily basis would be : One, two, three! The gates are open! Run, run, run! Don't look back! Now, let's go check out that hunk down the street, and roll in mud and oil....fun!!!
This happened many many times per day, day and night, night and day, when the car goes out, comes in....multiply that by 2 parents and 5 sisters living in the house.
It's not that home was crammed or they lacked love as there was ample garden space at my parent's place and we gave them lots of TLC (tender lovin' care)! We figured they were just young... and rebellious!
The woofies would stalk the neighbourhood, mark their territory (even though they're bitches), and often only return the following day, looking all content... and extremely filthy! Bath time!
Despite trying to make it OUR house rule to leash the dogs up when this happens, not everyone in the house is that diligent. Ping and I would end up going for long walks, just searching for them. And we almost always knew exactly where to find the 2 fat galoots...at the accident car tow storage one avenue away!
One fine day, Ping brings JULIA out for marathon training! That poor girl fainted halfway (the dog I mean). After rushing her to the vet, we were called to the examination room, "5 girls in your family, and you didn't know your dog is.......pregnant?" Look of disbelief on our faces!
We justified, "But...we thought she was just.....fat?" Yea, our dogs were known as "the fatties", stemming from their weakness for FOOD! None of us (5 sisters) would have suspected that such a thing could happen, even though we should have predicted that it was a probable outcome of bitch neighbourhood galavanting. Ok, we were very young, foolish, and totally unprepared! But there were lots of hot lookin' sons of bitches living along the street from us.
Being the tough cookie that she is, Julia thankfully recovered in no time, but what should we do about the pregnancy? Let's wait and see.
We prepared a delivery room for the impending birth of her puppies. About a week later, I noticed that she was digging a big hole underneath a container structure. Before you know it, out came sacks of dark green mucus coated...puppies? OMG! Call someone, the vet, anyone! But alas, I was all alone! So, I bravely assumed the role of a firsttime canine midwife. One by one, they popped! A dark brown one. Oh, a blackie? Hmmm.....and they kept coming. She started licking the sacs til the puppies were breathing (FYI - mothers eventually end up swallowing the discharge coz it's nutritious? Wonder if that's true).
Unfortunately, all puppies but one passed on at dogbirth (probably due to premature birth), and the lone survivor came to be known as TAR, the longest surviving dog in the history of our Pet family! It seemed like yesterday that I delivered him.
Now, because his old-age ailments had caused him to suffer pretty badly, I had to do the ghastly deed of putting him to sleep (as I had done before for his mother and his aunt years before when they had irreparable medical complications). The vet made me sign a form, agreeing to his euthanasia, and we had the option of picking a common cremation (with other dogs that kicked the bucket on the same day) for about $200 - 300, or a private cremation with an urn, that cost $600 - 800!!! Ok, let's deal with this later.
We fed TAR his last Chocolate Cornetto, while Maximuzz offered him some Calbee potato chips, all of which he chomped down within seconds. See, the greedy genes runs deep in their veins! Ping opened a packet of full-creme milk, which he licked off the makeshift bowl of my hand. The vet arrives, asked if we were ready, searches for the vein on his leg, and injects the lethal green liquid into his body. About half a minute later, after taking his last breath, he was physically motionless, but spiritually free from the 15-year old beat-up body that he had inhabited. It was a real tear-jerking moment, but we convinced ourselves it was all for the best!
Back home, I'd dug out an album I've compiled of Julia, Caesar, Tar and Cleo over the years. Let's rewind 2 years before prior to Tar's arrival on this earth.
In 1999, I visited my 2nd sister, Lily who was then living in Tokyo. Beyond my wildest dreams, she'd whipped out a rare Selmer Mark VI Alto saxophone and presented it to me! it happened that her good Japanese friend was a dealer of second hand vintage musical instruments - recalled seeing a couple of Jimmy Hendrix and Beatles guitars! He was also a breeder of golden retrievers!!!
So, she introduced me to CAESAR (my sweetie on the right), the first dog I ever owned! She was the sweetest creature to have walked this earth! And craved love so much love and attention (being the runt of the litter) that she'd do anything just to please you, including eventually performing the "bang, you're dead - roll over and play dead" trick seamlessly! First thing she did was to climb onto my lap and refused to budge.
Her older sister, JULIA was the only child in the litter, so she suffered from a single-child syndrome - as you know, rebellious, stubborn, had a mind of her own! They both had papers, bearing Japanese names with titles like "Princess of Sakura" or something regal sounding - will go look it up! She adopted Ping as her trusted owner.
When they first arrived in Singapore, they understand mostly Japanese commands, til they mastered English 101 while attending Doggie Obedience School with their owners. Then, we were taught 2 methods of obedience....the carrot and the whip. Learn a trick well, and reward them right away. Be disobedient, and you get a gentle tug of the leash. Didn't sound very kind, but it sure beats an electric collar!
CAESAR, who was all eager to please, passed with flying colours. JULIA had red marks in her report card, not that she was not intelligent, but because she probably didn't see the need to take orders. I mean, she used to bring CAESAR out for walks. We'd put CAESAR on a leash, and JULIA would hold onto the other end of the leash and pull her sister along. If that's not intelligence, I don't know what is! So, sometimes I wonder....the dog that is knowingly and intentionally disobedient (kinda like cats) is probably smarter than the one that follows your every command.
CAESAR went on to have a litter of her own, after one unsuccessful matchmaking session with an overweight Aussie stud, and eventually copulated with a handsome "Golden" male retriever. We spayed the both of them after their births, and because of that, they lost their breed status. But better that, than to have more unwanted babies, even though I hear that dog breeding is a very lucrative business. Pups could fetch up to $800 - $1000 each!
Life was peaceful for the doggies, til CLEO (ze meow on the right sleeping in stretch pose) came along. Ping bumped into CLEO right outside her school....a lone kitten with a fungus-infested nose and a terrible fur condition, wandering around, mewing for attention. Where was the mommy? Ping eventually brought "her" home and we cleaned "her" up and decided that she looked like a "CLEO"....til "she" developed....balls. Well, that name sounded androgenous enough. Today, we still refer to him as "her".
I still remember CLEO's first walk down the path of horrors. She walked through the front doors in the direction of 3 salivating dogs, and my dad ran after him, scooped him up and explained that that was a dangerous stunt to pull. He obviously mastered a defence mechanism called the "stare and show them your claws" kung-fu because he soon became the King of the House. He would stare patiently through a glass door at 3 dogs hurling their noses and barking non-stop at him. Once the doors were open, ohhhhh the 3 scaredy cats would run for dear life while CLEO retaliated with a swing of de ol claw motion!
CLEO grew up with a human as a mother-figure. He'd sleep with the back of his head leaning against a pillow, and in positions that looked like us when we were sleeping. Only when he started to hang around with others like him, neighbourhood strays, did he acquire feline traits...and probably became gay. Ok, will not go into whole feline psychology...lest I be hantam-ed by Siva and Airani, who are animal behaviour specialists!
Today, CLEO is the only true living household pet in my parent's home, holding the fort, sleeping in front of the gates like his canine siblings before him, and running up to greet you with a lick when you go home. I say, home is where the animal is! Too bad my home is too small for creatures larger than life!
Thursday, November 17, 2005
In 2002, I paid a visit to my younger sister, Ping aka Space Cadet, living a dream life in Aotearoa, otherwise known as the Land of the Long White Cloud. It's a land now well-known to others as Middle Earth!
First thing she said when I arrived, "Hey, I signed you up for a Maori spiritual camp!" We were to visit a Marae, a sacred meeting area of great spirituality where people gather for some traiditional ceremony. Difficult to explain, especially when you throw in all the Maori lingo and references! For an idea of what happens at a Marae, read this!
Introduction time, day before the Marae! "Hi, I'm Ling, Ping's sister, and I'm here for a visit." Feels like Marae Anonymous. Everyone, mostly locals, welcomes me with open arms. A spitting image of Moses with a pot belly, carrying a wooden crooked staff, approaches the middle of the congregation, and introduces himself as "Neville". In the next 15 minutes, he completely blew my mind out with concepts about his being the gatekeeper to the Lemurian Passage, the passage under the sea leading to Egypt; how he awaits 10,000 ladies who will arrive at a sacred post in New Zealand, climb right through the post to the pyramids of Egypt, and then form an arrow, which is a sign for the "ships to come"....there are 150 mother ships out there, who are in turn waiting to come to earth, but we have not accomplished everything here....". What did he say again? I looked around me. The locals seemed unfazzled. Just to make sure I captured it all on me camera, I politely asked Neville to repeat the whole story (ok, not stories...but personal beliefs?). And yes, he'll do it at the Marae.
Setting : Perfect! The Marae was located amidst rolling green hills with sheep aplenty, also reputed to have some archeological significance akin to the Stone Henge....
Video on Standby.
Viewfinder : Neville, naked waist upwards, wearing drawstring slacks, lying down comfortably on dry grass in a reclining pose.
Press record button : "I am the Gatekeeper, to the Lermurian Passage, the passage under the sea to Egypt..."
Back home, I'd quit my job to learn the fineart of video editing from my video guru, Ah Bong (who is incidentally in New Zealand right now....). I want to be a filmmaker, goddamit! Gotta start somewhere. Best place to start : get your butt out there and start filming! Ok.....but what's the story, morning glory? Whatever it is, we HAVE to feature Neville somehow! Maybe a promotional video to recruit the 10,000 ladies who are to miraculously appear at his doorstep?
But...we can't have a story just about a NZ prophet! Need more footage. But what about? UFOs? Aliens? Oh, I like it already! Wasn't going to be an Eric Khoo movie, but it was my pet topic...and a fun topic! Which I know nothing about. I recalled that I'd wasted 3 birthday wishes as a child, hoping to be abducted by aliens. Wonder if the wishes were really wasted, or was I?
Check google : UFO, aliens, ufology, Singapore! Alvin Chee, Singapore UFOlogist! You've gotta be kiddin', right? Let's email him and see what happens. Met up with him for teh tarik. He speaks lucidly. A prankster? Wouldn't know. But he sure looks like KFC's Colonel Sanders! Anyway, am not going to take positions in this movie.
Yeah, he agrees to be interviewed in my short film. He showed me several photos of UFOs. Hmmm....found it quite difficult to spot them. But it doesn't mean they weren't there. In my short film, he drew a picture of a UFO that pays him a regular visit at his Sembawang home (see drawing above). He draws a picture of a Starhub blimp (which was then circling around Singaporean) to ensure we didn't get the 2 confused (see drawing below)....
But how to connect the story? Ok, let's build the story around my younger sister. She's a known rambler of exotic information and we should be able to pull through. Let's get my Koh Kong Marine Conservation diving friends involved too. And our cat, Cleo, who will be one of the main stars! Maybe pull in a couple more people here and there, and we should be able to whip out something interesting! This was going to be fun.
After a hard day of shooting, Ping heads for home to crash on her bed, but is forced to have dinner with our parents and their friends. How interesting could this be? At dinner, when asked why Ping looked exhausted, Ping jokingly mentioned that she was starring in an alien movie. Dad's friend's wife, a dentist and known as SS, confesses she was an alien contactee at the age of 8 years old! How freaky is that?
She was then a student at Kellock Convent (right : see drawing of map of that school along River Valley Road). Recess time, kids are running wild. 4 classmates (including SS) are playing a distance away from the rest, when they noticed 3 characters standing before them. Two were no more than a feet tall. One of them was the male and the other, female...or so the dentist assumed, since the latter had some semblance of boobs. The third funny cotton-wool like creature was probably their pet dog, which was moving at that time.
In an attempt to make contact, one of her friends touched one of the UMO (unidentified moving object), when it pulled out a stun gun and stunned her. The UMOs quickly vanished into the longkang nearby. there's more to the story but I'd have to go through the transcripts to find out the fine details. Think this happened in 1968, 2 years before the 1970 Straits Times news report.
Oh, by the way, she agreed to be interviewed and she made some pretty strong statements about being an alien contactee, without batting an eyelid. "No one can tell me that it's not real because I know it's real because I saw it with my own eyes."
Left : Drawing by SS of the male alien she saw. The characteristic long fingers, oval shaped head, feelers, costumes and ultraman boots!
It was SS who alerted me to the fact that there were news reports around that time about alien encounters in our local newspapers. So, is her story credible? Was she credible? Does the fact that she's a dentist play a part in assessing whether the witness was telling the truth? Hmmm.....
The best part about the whole exercise was that my short film, entitled "Somewhere Over the Land of the Long White Cloud" (with Ah Bong as my co-director) was shown at the Goethe Institute and at some private viewings, and most people thought the interviews were planted....what fine actors and actresses you have, very convincing. Of course, one of the best scenes featured my sweetie aka Maximuzz, wearing a Darth Vader helmet and riding a mountain bike! He spontaneously played with his light sabre and toys after stripping naked in a bathtub. He was supposed to represent the psychotic believer who has been brainwashed with tales of galactic wars, and in making it his reality, is ready to take up arms to fight in the galactic war.
Something that Alvin said sums up the sentiment (evitable as it may be) of the majority who is quick to dispel any notion of extraterrestrial life : that no matter what you say, what proof you have, most people will think you're spinning a hoax without even glancing at the evidence. Photos? Must be doctored. Adobe photoshop is easy peasey. Videos? Ah, computer graphics. Even if we were there to witness something with our own eyes, there MUST be a logical explanation. It's a lose-lose situation the way I look at it.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
According to an article from space.com, the greatest space events of the 20th century happened more than 20 years later, in the 1970s. In that decade, international space activities blossomed. It was known as the "planetary exploration's golden age", as the US and Soviet sent back a library of data from their robotic missions.
So, does our little green dot of an island fit anywhere in the space roadmap?
In August 1970, before the first of human achievements listed on space.com, the Straits Times published a drawing of an alien in a spacesuit as frontpage headline news! Imagine that! The Singapore national newspaper!
Here's the evidence....since the words of the articles are so tiny, I shall transcribe them for you so you don't have to scratch your eyeballs out! Now, take a deep breath...
THE STRAITS TIMES August 21, 1970
Heading : Crowds rush to 'flying saucer' school
Text from page 1 Penang, Thurs - The "little men" are here again - if you are to believe six Bukit Mertajam schoolboys. The boys, all students of Stowell English Primary School, claimed that a soup-plate sized flying saucer landed near them as they were playing "cops and robbers" in the bush beside the school yesterday evening. One boy claimed that he was even shot at by one of the five "horrible looking" three-inch space Lilliputians, using a miniscule space gun.
Whether it was mass hallucination or overwrought imagination of the boys - the tale has gripped the whole Bukit Mertajam district in Central Province Wellesley with flying saucer fever. By tonight, hundreds of people were converging on the school, which was forced to shut its gates. This is the first report of a Malaysian "landing" of a flying saucer since a similar story of "little men" being found near a Johore Bahru school last year. The six boys who reported their unearthly brush wiith the tiny spacemen were : Mohamad Zulkini, 11; Abdul Rahim, 10; David Tan, 9, Sulaiman, 10; Vikneswaran, 10, and Mohamed Ali, 8.
We went back to the scene at about 630 this morning and found the saucer still there, surrounded by the spacemen" said Zulkifi today. "They were only about three inches high but they looked horrible," he added. Another boy, Mohamed Ali, told the headmaster, Mr. Ooi Keat Guan, that one of the spacement took...
Heading : SPACEMEN SHOT AT ME, CLAIMS BOY
Text on page 2
...out what looked like a little gun and took at shot at him. "It struck me on my hand, but didn't hurt very much. All I felt was a little pain." Mr Ooi promptly proceeded to the scene with another teacher but fond no trace of a space ship or the aliens. "To our amazement five little men put out a gangway and alighted from the saucer," he said. "One of them obviously the leader was dressed in a yellow suit. The other four wore blue uniforms. We then saw them installing an aerial on a tree branch and send out signals. "We got scared and ran away."
Early this morning, some of the boys went back adn saw the flying saucer still there. "It had been moved a few yards but the spacemen were guarding it," they said. At 11 a.m. today, Sulaiman abd Vickneswaran returned to the spot during the school recess but the flying saucer had disappeared. They however saw the aerial still hanging over the tree branch. Mr Ooi said tonight that he had questioned the boys and he felt the whole thing was a figment of their imagination.
THE STRAITS TIMES August 22 ,1970
By Gunn Chit Chye and J. R. Miniandy : Bukie Mertajam, Friday...
[Alien Drawing] - PSST, DON'T LOOK NOW, BUT THAT'S ONE OF THOSE LITTLE MEN FROM SPACE TO YOUR LEFT... THIS picture of the little spaceman with two horns was drawn "from memory" by schoolboy Wigneswaran.
[Alien Drawing] - Another drawing - this time of a "hornless" spaceman - by Wigneswaran
[Spaceship drawing] - The little "spaceship". Note the two ladders.
Sub Heading : 39 spaceships, 31 spacemen, so where are the other 8 little men?
Text from page 1
ABOUT the only thing they have in common is their height - all three inches of it, and the fact that most are armed: Some wear yellow, some blue, and some can vanish in a flash. At least two have only one arm and one even sports a pair of horns. They are the invaders from Outer Space who seem bent on swamping on this sleepy town by sheer force of numbers. The score at lunch today was 39 spaceships and 31 spacemen. Which means that at least eight spacemen are still wandering around somewhere. The invaders have all been sighted by boys from Stowell School. In blukar nearby. It was a 10-year old, K Wigneswaran, who spotted the one sporting the horns as he emerged from his spaceship yesterday.
He must have been the leader as he was wearing a yellow uniform while his four companions each with his own ship sported a more mundane shade of blue. They're pretty fierce when aroused too. The five armed with miniature space blasters and the one with horns loosed off at Wigneswaran when the youngster tried to capture him. The result? A small red dot on Wigneswaran's right leg he is proudly...
PAGE 2 Sub heading : 'Spaceman' with one arm...
[Photo of boy pointing down] : Mohamed Arriffin pointing where he saw two "spacemen".
Text from page 2
...showing his chums as a battle scar today. Unlike true Outer Space tradition, he fainted after the extra-terrestrial attack and woke up in a classroom. He had been discovered where he fell among the blukar outside the school perimeter fence and carried there by prefects. It was Wigneswaran who reported seeing 25 tiny men stepping out of a similar number of space ships at the same spot on Wednesday. But once more, Fate was against him. Just as he rushed forward for a better look, the school bell rang-and like all good schoolboys, Wigneswaran went back to class.
However, he has managed to draw two pictures of the aliens and their ships from memory. But not all resort to voilence when threatened with capture. Take the case of T. Veerasingham, another 10-year old and his pal, A. Devaraj, 12. After classes yesterday, they went to a spot in the blukar where there were reports of a tiny space ship landing on Wednesday. Sure enough, they saw two miniature figures, one perched on a branch, the other taking it easy on a rock on the ground. When the boys tried to gain immortality as the first pair ever to capture a spaceman, the little men simply vanished. The boys are prepared to swear in a temple that they are telling the truth. Veerasingham, who tried to capture the one on the branch said "He was about three inches high and the branch was about three feet from the ground. "He, too, was wearing a yellow suit and had only one arm - his left. I am very definite I saw him. "He was sitting on the branch shaking his head from side to side clasping what looked like a tiny gun". Another casualty of the invasion is Mohamed Ariffin bin Mokhtar, seven, an afternoon pupil at the school whose father is a police corporal.
Cpl. Mohktar bin Haki Talib said :"When he returned home at 6.30 last night, he told my wife and me he had seen two tiny spacemen among the blukar outside the perimeter fence. "When he tried to catch them, one shot him. He had a small cut on his left hand and myh wife treated the wound." Six pupils of the school reported they first saw the tiny spacemen on Wednesday evening. Five aliens, they claimed, landed from a blue flying saucer. The headmaster of Stowell School, Mr Ooi Keat Guan, said he had questioned them carefully and they all insisted that their stories were true. Mr. Ooi said he brought two of the pupils, Mohamed Shukri and Abdul Rahim, to the scene again this morning, and they still maintained that they had not been imaging things.
"I don't know what to think", Mr Ooi said pensively. "Frankly, I don't believe them. They might have seen some leaves or insects moving and mistaken them for tiny spacemen." When the news spread yesterday, thousands of curious onlookers flocked to blukar outside the school compound to examine the spot where the tiny spaceship were reported to have landed. CID officers also called at the school this morning to question the boys. There was such big crowds outside the school today that the main gate was closed to prevent outsiders from getting into the compound.
So, think twice when you think Singapore and these parts have nothing to offer in terms of space travel. Instead of looking for "them", they came knocking at our doors! 1970 is indeed a special year. It was also the year in which I was born.
More research about aliens and UFO sightings in Singapore (including interviews with contactees in Singapore) coming your way soon.....to a blog near you....
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
I was secretly thinking, "This is so appropriate!", especially after having survived my "Smalltanic Experience"....when a real survivor I became....overnight!
7 years ago, I enrolled as a Dive Master trainee with a well-known dive shop by the name of errr....ok, let's call them XXX. Every other weekend, our regular routine would be to meet at Newton Circus, count the number of divers, get them to sign the exclusion of liability forms, help them load their dive equipment onto the bus, which will take them from Singapore to Mersing. We'd stop for some prata along the way, buy fruits, arrive at Mersing about midnight, load the divers and gear onto 2 or 3 boats, and sail off to either Tioman or Aur for 2 days of great diving. It worked like clockwork!
On 20th March 1998, after arriving at Mersing, we tucked a boatful of divers onto the first boat. "See you later", we said as we bid them farewell. The remaining 6 of us, who were "the crew", comprising dive instructors, dive masters or trainees, searched high and low for the sister boat, The 270! This boat moves at tortoise speed in comparison to the rabbit that just set off. "Where's The 270"?" Boy, were we in for a surprise! What stood before us, formerly a simple bumboat, was a newly refubished beauty. A second deck had been built, with two rows of seats covered with plush dark-green foam mattresses! Yeah! No more cramming with 8 other divers on a pathetic space on the deck and using the engine as our pillow! Finally.....some decent sleep! And so, the 6 happy divers hopped on board, with 6 other boat crew (you know, the captain, engineer etc., all very charming locals), and set off for an overnighter towards Pulau Aur.
What happened next will always remain a story best told to the grandchildren, but not to the parents!!! Ricky, a cartoonist and fellow survivor on this trip, drew the following sketches after the whole ordeal....while waiting to be picked up by the rescue boat!
My Smalltanic Experience
2.30 - 3:42 am : It was a moonlit night. The engine was slowly chugging along. We were engaged in idle banter. Someone remarked, "Eh, I just watch Titanic last night". Ok, whatever. With eyelids drooping, I plugged those ear pieces in and drifted into slumberland to the soothing voice of Anna Karam. The poor light sleepers, I thought! They'd have to endure a night of symphonic snoring! Divers are such a noisy bunch!
3:43 am : I was woken to the sound of voices and lots of movement. Before I could even rub my eyes to see what was happening, I heard someone shout "JUMP!!!". I then realised the boat was tilting sideways and sinking at a super fast pace! I grabbed my precious varsity jacket (hard earned from my high school days in Japan) and plunged into the warm and dark waters below. I recalled hearing someone scream..."This is the f****ing Titanic", amongst other profanities (see cartoon below)!
3:43 - 3 : 45 am : Within 2 minutes, The 270 was nowhere in sight! 6 divers were bobbing up and down in what appeared to be calm waters. Some were diving after the tip of the boat in an attempt to salvage bags and other personal items. My bags were nowhere in sight. They're all gone! My new handphone, my CD player, my Anna Caram CD and 19 others in the CD holder! My wallet, OMG, my passport! And my dive equipment!!!! Arghhhhh! But I still had my varsity jacket! I kept thinking, "so, they never taught me the A, B, Cs of what to do when your boat sinks! So, should I dump everything, including my jacket?" So, like a dramatic "Jack's farewell scene to Rose" in the Titanic, I just let her (i.e. my jacket) go! Now, let's get back to business!
3 : 45 - 4.00 am : What are those things floating in the distance? Oh, hey, isn't it great that these green mattresses don't sink! By then, I'd grabbed hold of one of them, and was trying to get whoever was around me to do the same. I looked around and saw 2 boatmen trying to salvage the scuba tanks! Were they using those as a floatation device, or were they afraid of losing the dive equipment? Jesus!
I noticed that Rohan was within earshot, and he too grabbed hold of a float. He shouted, "First of all, are you ok?" Ahhh....what a sweet question. I replied in a calm tone, "Oh....couldn't be better! The moon is shining bright. There are hardly any waves! The water is oh so warm! What else could we have hoped for?"
The only thing knawing at my shin was a burning sensation, which I speculated to have been a jelly fish sting. Turned out later that it was a burn from some petrol or diesel. The rest of my body was spared, while another boatmen had much of his torso and limbs coated with this lethal liquid! Ouch!
"Ok, let's do a headcount! How many divers were there?" I asked? We then shouted to ensure everyone was accounted for. Phew! All divers safe! How about the boatmen? I asked Roh, "How's your berhasa?" Can't remember what he mumbled (something about not using it for years) but before long, he was spouting fluent Berhasa, checking on the boatmen to see that they were alright!
Now, where the heck were we? I could see a little dark formation somewhere in the distance to my right, and a smaller one to the left. We later realised our boat had sunk within seconds off the channel between Pulau Kechil and Pulau Besar, which spans a few hundred metres in between. After these islands lies open sea.....and another 2 hours' boat ride to Aur! Gulp! The heavens must have been smiling on us!
I asked Roh if we should head right or left? Right looked much closer, so we beckoned for all to make a concerted effort to swim in the same direction!
My fellow DM Trainee, Francis, later told us how he had swum all the way from the middle of the channel to the island! Hero!!!! He recounted how a boatman (who didn't know how to swim) was grabbing onto a tank for dear life, chanting verses from the quaran as he propelled himself forward!
3 : 45 - 5.00 am : We kicked....and kicked....and kicked.....for what seemed like hours! To pass the time, we were telling jokes to break the monotony of the moment! Til......is that light at the end of the tunnel? Hey, that's not an island? It's a bunch of rocks! Rocks with sharp edges! Yikes! Oh, what the heck, let's just approach it carefully and haul our tired asses on that big rock!
5.00 am : Slowly, one by one, we helped each other up the ledge. We were so thankful to see each other again! Turns out, Richard managed to salvage my bag (with my passport in it)! I was so eternally grateful to him! Yeah, it looked like kiam chye (salted vegetable), but it saved me alotta beaurocratic hassle getting back into Singapore! A blessing in disguise, since I hated the photo in that passport anyway.
So, what do we do now? Just wait til the sun shines. That's what they all do in horror stories when the killer is supposedly dead! All will be well again.
5.30 am : Half an hour later, a fishing boat was spotted a distance away. We shouted, waved furiously, beat our chest...anything to get their attention. It seems they were headed in our direction! We were instructed to swim out to meet them, since the boat couldn't get close to the rocks, so we took the second plunge for the evening, and headed for...home! We discovered later that around the rock outcrop was an island, and a very diligent boatman had swum part of its circumference to the other side to get help! He was eventually picked up by wary occupants of a fishing boat, who thought he might have been a refugee. Well, we all were!
When we arrived on the boat wearing polo-shirts bearing the logo of dive shop XXX, we tried to hide them to cut down on the embarrassment and unmarketability factor! Imagine that! Sometimes, I wonder why we even bothered....
Morning of 22 March 1998 : That was some trip! We were dropped off at Pulau Besar (me thinks), where we made a couple of phone calls to the dive shop owner, whose jaw must have dropped on the other end of the line! The trip was cancelled coz all the dive gear was on the sunken boat, and the sister boat was making her way back to Mersing! We took the time to bond....comparing notes of our little adventure, jotting down lost items, tending to the poor boatman with burn wounds on his body, and making sure there was no psychological trauma. Roh whipped out his medical kit from his dry box, and took the opportunity to gloat that his passport was still in pristine dry condition! Richard now dives with ALL his carry-on bag items in zip lock bags!
Soon, we were picked up by another vessel and delivered to Mersing, where we helped LZ, the only Malaysian, make a police report for a lost Malaysian passport. We found out the hard way that if a Malaysian loses his passport, he can say goodbye to travelling outside of Malaysia (with exception of Singapore) coz he won't get a replacement for a few years, even if he makes a kind "donation" to the then government! Ahem! You can imagine how pissed off he was, especially since his job required him to jetset! He only got his passport back 1 and a half years later, which was good by their standards!
Meanwhile, Richard dried his salvaged CDs at the Mersing waiting area, dishing them out one by one. But he left them unmonitored and the CDs were later stolen! Sigh! While we;re on the topic of CDs, someone later told me Karam (name of singer I was listening to) meant "to sink" in Malay. Roh added, "I was listening to the Drifters!"
When the other divers finally arrived, we received looks of empathy. Rooms were booked at a Mersing hotel while we waited for reinforcement from Singaporean divers to search for The 270!
Morning of 23 March 1998 : First dive of the day : Wreck Dive! Practise the sweep search skills learnt during DM training to look for.....a boat! We lined up in a horizontal line, held onto a rope connecting all of us, took our bearings, and tried to cover as much ground (or sea) as possible. The line's sure to snag something. Now, where did the boat sink again? And boy, did we have a big area to cover! While underwater, we could hardly see the diver on our left or on the right. Spook....key! Ok, do not focus on the rumours of this channel being haunted! Hantus, really? Must be fishermen folklore!
After several desperate attempts, we couldn't find The 270! This was a job left for the professionals! We were beat! Can't wait to go home, home sweet home! A few days later, they found the boat...and recovered the dive equipment. No Anna Caram CD though! Sigh. Wonder what happened to that boat? There's another time and another story for that!
Rohan's Home : Roh steps in, puts his clothes in the washing machine, relaxes over a cup of coffee. Sighs of relief. Laundry's done. Takes out his shirt! What's this in the pocket? F***! It's my passport!!!!!"
Monday, November 14, 2005
Saturday, November 12, 2005
This little beauty, surviving on 1 and a half fins, was featured in a short 10-minute video co-produced by Wildaid and Merciless Productions, entitled "Goodwill Hunting".
Part 1 : THE BIG AND THE BEAUTIFUL
Features the beauty and grace of the largest fish in the sea : the whaleshark. It highlights their similarity to human kind, especially the length of sexual maturity and slow rate of reproduction.
However, it questions whether whalesharks and human kind can live side by side? Given the nature of these misunderstood "sharks", who is the friend and who is foe?
Part 2 : THE APPETITE OF DESTRUCTION
Chinese are masters of waste management; they eat every part of any creature killed for human consumption. Unfortunately, creatures close to endangerment are not spared either.
A lady takes a bite out of an innocent-looking dish. Play the rewind button and we are instantly given a tour of a Taiwanese kitchen where a "tofu-shark" meal is being prepared. We are then led to another world that the consumer does not see nor care much about. The consumer who has no regard for what he/she eats is only interested in satisfying his/her appetite now. Given these eating habits, who is predator and who is prey? [Whaleshark hunting photos].
Part 3 : THE GATEKEEPERS OF OUR BLUE PLANET
While some human beings are slowly killing this blue planet and the creatures living in it, others have taken on the role as gatekeepers to salvage those that remain. Creatures cannot help themselves as they do not communicate in human language. We have to do the talking for them.
Conservation groups such as Wildaid are their only voice to push for their right to survive. Humans play a large part in deciding their fate via the regulation and implementation of trading restrictions. This takes place only once in 2 years at the CITES meetings. A landmark decision was made in the November 2002 CITES meeting for the protection of whalesharks. It is hoped that this will pave the way for the conservation of other shark species which are becoming endangered or extinct.
Read more ahout Wildaid's Shark Campaign and think twice before you put that spoonful of sharks fin soup into your mouth! The choice is yours.
Friday, November 11, 2005
And it is precisely these encounters (unpredictable though it may be) with beautiful marine creatures that made me take up underwater videography!
It was on my first muck dive in Mabul that I chanced upon a school of sotong kechil (aka Baby Squid) performing what seemed to be a mating jig, til I noticed a huge cluster of transparent, bulb-shaped squid eggs nearby! Were they mating? Were the parents protecting the little 'uns? Darn! Where's the camera when you need it? Somehow, I'd lost my buddy (not a rule to break when diving, but what the heck....the waters were barely 2 metres deep)....but it was at that moment that I knew I HAD to document all that I saw, and share it with all those poor souls who made yet another wrong turn!
I must confess I've become a slave to my video camera! I never leave home without it when I go diving....and ironically, I dive less now than I used to, partly coz I've finally gone to the mecca of diving and need landtime to edit all that footage! My camera and housing are also kinda busted from overuse and this is one hobby that's left a huge crater in my pocket! Never thought I'd see the day when I start to give excuses for turning down dive trips!
But it was not always like this. I loved diving. Period (with a smile on ya face). It was the closest experience to flying! Like superman, you can stretch your wings (errrr....fins? ok, arms)...and fly over fields of colourful aquaculture! Swimming shoulder to fin with pelagics 3 times bigger than myself is somewhat of a surreal experience....almost like being in a Dali painting! And discovering that there are stranger creatures living in our deep oceans than I would imagine living in Mars! Absolutely awesome! The simple joys of appreciating a different world then open only to a privileged few who dared to take the plunge.
So, one fine day, over a cuppa cofffee, Davy asked me a puzzling question. "Why don't you have a dive hobby?" What did that mean? I thought diving WAS the hobby! "You know, like tech-diving, underwater photography, scooter-riding?" That thought pricked me hard like an annoying urchin's needle sinking into my finger, and as any diver would have recommended, I just had to break it off and knock it into my system. Knock knock, who's there? An underwater videographer? Yes, but it's not going to be easy....
Our first brush with FWTS (Female Wrong-Turn Syndrome) at the Ace Adventure Challenge 2004 caused us more than half an hour's delay. Ouch! Good thing our rival team followed in our tracks, and like the Pipe Piper, we led a whole bunch of racers astray! heh heh! Thanks to us, fella Team JAFT, who were virtually at the end of the pack, was able to clinch third position coz they had better direction skills! Blah!
Photo above taken by Madhivanan Periannan : The 4 Ladies teams that took part in Ace Adventure II (2005)...can u spot "the Angels"?
It was the Sabah Adventure Challenge 2005 that convinced us ladies that men and women are created equal!!! Rebecca and I teamed up with Ken and we're proud to report that we got lost a total of 3 times on the first day of the 3-day race....setting us back by a few hours of plain unnecessary torture! So, conclusion reached is that WTS is not peculiar to the female species...
So....LESSON NO 3 : Always read your map and never assume you know where you're going!
For a good read, check out "Buffalo Rides in Borneo" by Wilson Low (aka Adventure Racer). His other article "No Easy Easter Weekend" was published in one fo the 2005 editions of Sports Inc. magazine. Evidence that we were there : Kim's Album / Mus' Album / Zach's Album...
Ok, Airani says my posts are too long and I do get carried away sometimes....so, will leave it to future posts to hopefully impart what I've learnt from my adventure racing experience to those who may be interested in reading them!
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Above : Moi and me teammate, Mingloid, scurrying down the prickly edges of the Big Durian (commonly known as the Esplanade) during Action Asia Challenge 2004 held here in Singapore! Photo taken by a talented photographer by the name of Sehsuan.
I still remember my first race as if it happened yesterday. Twas that fateful day in 2001 when Rebecca asked if I wanted to form an all girl's team for the Adventure Quest! It was the first adventure race ever organised in Singapore and no friggin way were we gonna to miss this one!
Little did I know what lay ahead...
This spawned a whole series of self-induced training sessions, organised by the Dominatrix (Rebecca's nickname)...the most memorable of them all being the long march from Serene House along Bukit Timah Road at 4 am.....to Changi Seasports Club more than 4 hours later! Xiongalingam, as Ming would have remarked! Walking past Orchard Plaza before sunrise was something else! We were cheered on by some transexuals as we marched by...."one, two, three, four....one, two, three, four..."...wait til we get to Changi!
My all-girl teammates then were Cassie (the Belgian from KL, otherwise known in her biking circles as "Armageddon" or "Death to all mankind"), Rina (one of the strongest athletes I've ever met!), Rebecca (the torture babe) and moi (half-past-six, happy-go-lucky, jack-of-all-trades-and-mistress-of-nothin'-much)...
LESSON NO 1 : Hold on to your race passport for dear life! I dropped my race passport at the first checkpoint in my state of gang-joingness whilst overturning the kayak to let the water out....and enroute to checkpoint 2, only realised it when a support boat beckoned for Team 51 to "gostan" and kayak back to checkpoint 1 to retrieve it! @#*&!(#*&!# There's more to this story, but it'd take several blogs to pen the whole ordeal!
Next bunch of races I joined were organised by Nomad Adventures! These people really know how to show you a good time! Difference between Singapore and Malaysan races is that our neighbour has countless of terrain to offer, whilst we have probably trampled on ours to death!! But I still enjoy the great outdoors in Singapore! The longest Nomad race came with 17 hours of pure, unadulterated TORTURE! The SPLASH Eco-Xtreme held in Selangor was something else! We didn't even finish the race, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world! Brings back fond memories of my late ex-teammate, Swee Haw....
Needless to say, during our next race, Rebecca refused to let me carry the passport. Turns out, she dropped the race passport few tens of minutes into the race! Since then, we've polished our passport carrying skills test and am glad to say we haven't lost a passport since.....only our sense of direction! :P
LESSON NO 2 : Do not give the map to the 'Togo King"! Not having gone to the army, we've learnt from our Mingloid, one of my regular teammates, that when choosing a reliable map carrier, NEVER EVER chose the guy who's been labelled "Topo King" in the army! However, being in an all ladies team has its disadvantages if you don't know how to read maps or are not technically inclined!
Races with clues, no maps.....we can handle! The first "Angels" race had a prefix by the name of "Olaf"! We were great at solving riddles, but we sucked big time at the technical tests! Read our account of the Togoparts Challenge in 2004 to see the true extent of racing with bimbos!
Oops. gotta run. Will finish this later.
During lunchtime when most urban creatures like us are munching away on our char kway teows, Stephan Mueller jumped not only once, but twice, off the 63rd floor of my office building, landing safely on the green space right outside Raffles Place MRT station!
This skydiver and base jumper from the US plunged right off a window-cleaning-scaffold protruding out of the roof of Republic Plaza, a 63 storey office building, currently the tallest office building in Singapore, standing 280 metres (714 ft) tall. This building also ranks as the 47th tallest building in the world!
Above : A view of Republic Green from the 60th floor of Republic Plaza...
The first jump was captured in 3 stages on my Nokia 5140, but I haven't yet figured out how to show you the clips on this blog! :P
Last thing I remember was of the smiley-faced trooper, yanking out from his big pockets, plastic bottles of the latest mango-de-nato Fruit Tree drink and distributing them to his fans!
Thank goodness he made it in 1 piece, otherwise the flavour of the day would have been mango-de-human squash!
Three cheers for Juiceman! Sip sip, away!