Sailing in Singapore

Sailing can be pretty fun. We took a four-day course over two weekends at Changi Sailing Club. It was a good course and I recommend it.

The first day required us to pass a swimming test in the swimming pool. Next, we had theory class in an open-air classroom. After lunch, we had a few hands-on practice using a structure which simulates movement of the boat. That was kind of fun. Another fun part was learning how to get up the boat after capsizing. That was done right off the jetty. We took turns to do a half capsize, with the sail just floating on top of the water surface, and a full capsize. To simulate a full capsize, we had to lay on top of the sail until the entire sail goes under. It’s tough enough to right a sailboat after a half capsize and this is very useful considering that capsizing is actually quite common in windy conditions.

  • After you fall into the water, swim around the boat to where the centreboard sticks out. Watch out for the ropes as they can be a hazard.
  • Pull the centreboard out and put your weight on it. The difficult part for me here was getting on top of the centreboard while you are floating around in the ocean, neck deep in water.

We got to rig up our own boats as part of the course. This requires regular practice… It’s been a while since our course and I’ve forgotten how to rig up the boat. We collect our Picos from the boat parking bay and drag them to the open space for washing down the boats and rigging them up. Dragging the boats around is not easy. They are heavy!

Next, we collect our mast, boom, ropes, mainsheet, rudder, centreboard and wind direction indicator. We get good guidance from the instructor on how to rig it up the first time.

We did not get very good winds during the duration of our course and even had to be towed back to shore on one of the days like boat ducklings.

We’ve been back sailing a few more times at Constantwind before we stopped and considered ourselves a little too rusty to go out again without additional classes…

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Goodbye January 2016

So we started the new year barely 30 days ago. It has been a whirlwind month with work demanding all of one’s time and it probably took us a whole week or probably more to get over our ‘time lag’ upon returning to Singapore from Canada in the first week.

It feels just like yesterday when we were just taking a long road trip from Canada to New York for our flight, looking out for bad weather conditions, the rare Starbucks signs and getting lost in the bowels of New York city streets looking for our ‘refresh’ hotel before the long flight back.

The white streets, Nordstrom and friendly squirrels in Ottawa are just a memory in our third week back to Singapore. They all seem like a long time ago but all just part of the January illusion when events catch-up on you when the new year starts in fifth gear. Of course, paying for those credit card bills from the holiday brings the awareness that it all just happened and we are only just beginning the year and the haze of January is disappearing when we see the ass of February and it hits us that we have worked ourselves into February or raced into February.

While we say goodbye to the first month of the year, there is a little trepidation that the rest of the year will be eventful and what will the 2016 elections bring, what other big events await us this year? I don’t mean to sound pessimistic but conditions have led us to believe that the world is falling sick and what we do each day at work, is a very micro aspect of helping to alleviate any conditions which can threaten our way of life.

Climate change for one is a huge concern after drastic weather changes in the North and winter arriving close to two months late and more. [These thoughts are all my personal opinion and not much of a dissertation piece based on in-depth research.] It is supposed to be 20 degrees into the negative but it is barely going beyond 0 or -5 in some parts of Canada. We talk about this for years and committees have been established. The world needs drastic approaches to this by changing policies such as lowering the cost of electric cars, building the infrastructure for electric or hybrids, making them more affordable and convenient could increase the take-up rates and reducing the reliance on gas, banning leaded petrol in countries (Canada I know has banned leaded petrol), education of the public and coal being a major culprit, needs to be replaced with alternatives.

Leadership crisis across the world from world leaders to corporate leaders. The expectations of leaders have changed. There is a need for different views and approaches which may be slightly more socialist in nature. What is the definition of a good leader and why?

I could go on, but life is good and we rejoice in many things. This is also not an article about how the world needs fixing, but how our problems at work seem small in comparison to the magnitude of the world and the universe. We have a few years of actually living our lives so perhaps it is what we need to consider – what does living our lives mean?

Discovery, international experience and learning form my foundation for ‘living a life’. Which means, for us to be happy, we need to be living up to our definition of ‘living our lives’. If I am not discovering new things, learning and experiencing life through traveling or living abroad, my soul may shrivel up and die. All very dramatic.

So while we bid January goodbye, how about taking stock of our lives at this point and shaping our lives in a direction; before we start to find ourselves drifting into the events of 2016 and losing perspective.

 

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve – a lackluster experience

After reading some reviews on Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in Singapore, we decided to jump on the bandwagon, following the footsteps of all these wildlife enthusiasts.

We embarked on a 2-hour bus ride from Katong. Bus 966 from opposite Parkway Parade and connecting to 925 or 925C from Opposite Blk 402, or for better use of landmark, Marsiling bus stop where folks get a public bus to Johor.

925 loops within the area and takes you right to the doorstep of Sungei Buloh Wetland Centre only on Sundays.

The reserve isn’t very large for walking trails. We saw lots of foreign couples around the observation decks, some birds, a mudskipper, a komodo lizard and some really aggressive fishes.

Our experience might have been marred by the fact that we aren’t big fans of birdwatching or gazing across mud, mangroves and breathing in the lovely aroma of something which died around the swamps.

If you are a self-proclaimed wildlife enthusiast with an appetite for that, this might be your cup of [swampy] tea. For us, we enjoy some wilderness, the experience of wildlife in our midst but I think we aren’t at the level to appreciate mangroves and swamps.

All things Singapore – in a nutshell

While looking up organisations which have contributed towards Singapore’s past, I stumbled upon eResources by National Library Board of Singapore. Yes yes, I know it’s been around for some time.

There is an amazing collection of history on Singapore from street names, places, to events and organisations. Some of them are familiar while some are new to me. It is a treasure chest of information one would need or not require but interesting to know.

For instance, which Gen X kid (or a late Gen Y-er) in Singapore would forget Yaohan?  I admit there is some nostalgia mingled with this excitement.

Taken from the website, Yaohan was opened in Singapore in 1974 at Plaza Singapura (which I can assure you looked very different even in the 1980’s). Everyone would remember John Little and Specialist Centre when you think Plaza Singapura back then.

I’m a little disappointed that the childhood game of Zero Point or Starfish weren’t included within the list of ‘Sports and Recreation’. I might have missed it so let me know if you spot them.

Zero Point and Starfish were games made out of a string of rubber bands woven in a chain. Both girls and boys at school would spend hours hopping and jumping over these rubber chains. At least I did.

There should also be a brief write-up on neighbourhood playgrounds back then when we had real sand. (Bring out those sandcastle buckets!) Playgrounds these days are mainly made of some foam material.

So which other games or items should we include in the e-depository of Singapore’s history on eResources?

Growing an edible garden in Singapore

Bear with me here as gardening terms are very new for me and I might be referring to the plant in non-gardener ways.

Singapore’s climate may not be suitable for many of my favourites. Tomatoes don’t seem to grow very well. Neither do snow peas. We could try long beans. Basil definitely grows perfectly in this weather.

Growing a home garden can be rewarding as you watch the plant grow. We realised that eggplants take a while for the vegetables to show. The plant grows up to 1 metre with flowers and the vegetable starts budding after two months or so.

Imagine our delight when we saw the little purple rounded base peeking out from one of the pods. When they grow, they really do grow, almost overnight. They grow so quickly from a little plant no more than the length of one’s little finger to larger than the palm.

I harvested one of them recently (after three and a half months from when we first planted it) as the plant was getting infested. So I removed the branches which were infected and the rest of the plant seems to be thriving well enough.

Life after death, or not

No, we were not meant to be humans or animals.

According to the Teachings on Bardo. I am current helping out my Guru in editing a book on Bardo Teachings. While going through the chapters, one would feel that the journey of this life essentially helps us prepare for death and life after death.

This is a rather abstract concept and points to how we are all formless, consciousness and liberation means no longer taking rebirth. The text has mentioned that being reborn as a human being is a form of suffering. From my perspective, I totally agree with this given that suffering in this life comes in all forms depending on our environments. We actually go through the various stages of ‘bardo’ in this life. The perception of dreams, of hell, of sufferings. Yes, we do suffer even in our #firstworld conditions.

  • Our attachment to objects and people.
    • This attachment has led to many of my problems. From expecting something to be what it is from physical shape, form, appearance, feeling/emotion etc.
  • Jealousy is the root of many unhappiness.
    • Jealousy or envy of someone or what a person has which one doesn’t. I find that I am happier when I stay focused on my objectives in life.
  • Anger is definitely a suffering. Where is this anger from?
    • Angers hinders our judgement and perspective. It does not solve anything and only creates more strive.

This life is really a dream. Reading about bardo gets one thinking about what really happens when we die. We look and feel the way we are. We only know what we ourselves feel or think. How are we made up besides blood, organs and flesh? This form is considered as the human realm. However, the human realm is a ‘long bardo’, of which we are in a form and state which is interim to what we are supposed to be.

Moving to the wrong light may lead one to the wrong doors of rebirth and what we go through there can be worse than the human realm.

So how does karma help? Karma is possibly a points/merits system which is based on cause and effect. I believe in that as with every action, there will be a consequence and we are all answerable to our own actions. I believe in this princple of life which helps one decide what we stand for and how we make decisions. Compassion should be the root of all our actions. This is theory and we may act differently when placed in a situation, due to several factors including our self-preservation nature.

Well, I’m working through the last chapter of the book now. So do look out for the final book on Amazon, by Gharwang Rinpoche, our esteemed Guru. The date is to be confirmed so watch this space and we’ll keep you updated.

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Meanwhile, about death, a worldly problem may arise soon for Singapore residents. The looming truth about life and death. How do we cope with this truth and are we all ready? What will happen next?

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-31936674