I Flew Budget – Jetstar (Valueair)

20120831_220945All the regular flights were full, it’s holiday season in Indonesia. No Singapore Airlines flights available, no Garuda, Lufthansa full, everyone full in all classes. Our corporate travel policy is that we must book through travel agents, no direct flight booking but this time I had to be in Jakarta and there was no alternative. Not even the 5:00 am Singapore Airlines flight had seats. Jetstar it was.

The first issue was that the online booking website froze at the point of paying for the ticket. We called Jetstar then.

“I’m sorry you have this problem with the website. Yes I can confirm that the booking has not processed. Are you aware that if I book the flight for you there is an extra surcharge?”

“Really … but it is your website that goes belly-up when we try an pay, not our fault mate!”

“Yes, I’m sorry about that but it is the policy".”

Off to a good start. To be honest, I have flown Jetstar in Australia but there it was booked through a travel agent so all was kosher. This was a new experience.

The rest of the booking process was fine (over the phone) and payment was accepted. Jessica booked it, paid on my credit card. Jessica received a confirmation email about the flight.

Two days before being due to travel, Jessica got an email reminding her that she was flying to Jakarta on Wednesday. She wasn’t, I was. However Jetstar had the right passenger and I booked in online.

Arrived at the airport, checked in (nice, pleasant check-in staff) and went to the departure gates to wait. Love Terminal 1 at Changi now, it’s better than many Australian shopping malls.

Jessica had booked me the option pack as I had luggage and she felt that I might be a bit hungry after a day of meetings so she had a meal organised as well. I will state now that the meal delivery kind of made me feel like I did way back when working in the Middle East and I was put on an Umrah flight to Jeddah during Ramadan. A plane full of fasting pilgrims and Thomo, served the full meal in the middle of the cabin. It was kind of like that. The flight attendant comes to me before take off and asks, “Mr Thompson – the chicken stew or the chicken rice?” I took the chicken stew and a Mountain Dew. The rest of the cabin got a Kaya roll and water.

The meal itself was tasty enough. It was not a Neil Perry creation but flavourful enough and certainly hot, fresh out of the microwave.

The packaging however was especially designed so that the clear plastic stretched over the food tray could not be torn off. It just ripped around the edge. The plastic knife provided was little assistance in this area and the whole exercise of getting the plastic cover off with the plastic knife was akin to trying to cut a diamond with a piece of quartz. Still, it did provide some amusement for the passengers around me.

Jetstar (Valueair) was not so bad. Still, looking at the photo above you can see why it is a budget airline – the plane seemed old, around 7 years or so and it rattled badly.

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Now That is Odd

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So I was surfing last night and the following add caught my eye – not so much because I was looking for “someone  special”, I already have someone very special, but rather the location and numbers caught my eye.

be2 is extolling its virtues for Singaporeans to find their perfect mature partner (I guess that means 30-over in Singapore speak) by simply registering. It noted 43% male members and 57% females (there is something in that itself).

The classic number was 29,131,886 registered members. My goodness, that is huge especially as Singapore only has about 6,000,000 people living in it and I am sure that some of those are under 30. I guess everyone joins here 6 times to get the numbers up!

Bizarre!

New Year Greetings

It’s Lunar New Year with the New Year’s Eve tomorrow night.

So, to my Korean friends – 새해 복 많이 받으세요.

And to my Chinese friends – 新年快樂 or for those who are Cantonese, 恭喜發財  (did I get that right Pauline?).

Prosperity, peace and happiness for all in the year of the Dragon.

A Very Pukka Cuppa

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I’d been shopping at Ion Orchard In Singapore. It was just before Christmas after all and I was feeling a little flagged so I stopped into the TWG Tea Salon and Boutique in Ion Orchard for a pot of that wonderfully refreshing brew. Feeling a little peckish, a scone with jam/jelly and clotted cream was also ordered.

Whilst the TWG Tea Salon was only established in 2008 (it is a Singapore company) the decor, service, tea and scones were very Victorian in flavour and appearance. Tea and scones was about $20 and whilst expensive, it is a lovely spot for people watching and it is a very pukka cuppa.

Port-a-loo – User Manual

I was at the Singapore Sevens recently and what a great day that was. Whilst there and remembering I was a guest of the Chairman of the Singapore Cricket Club and was there for all three days of the competition, I had occasion to use the conveniences. I was amused to see inside the port-a-loos the following user guide.

IMG_0347I must admit, I had not run across a toilet’s user guide before this – love Singapore!

Ha Noi Taxi Overcharges?

Well I never – never been overcharged this much, not even in Beijing where the taxi drivers are very predatory and many times engaged in scams with the driveway staff of the hotels.

In a piece, Hanoi taxi driver arrested for overcharging Singapore delegates, it was noted that:

Colonel Nguyen Duc Chung, deputy chief of Hanoi police confirmed the arrest [of the taxi driver concerned] on Monday.

The driver has been escorted to Hanoi for questioning. A lawyer told TuoiTreNews the driver could be charged with "cheating to appropriate private property".

According to TuoiTreNews, the victims are Mr Chen Ang Dani and Ms Than Sha Pen, who were forced to pay 6 million dong (S$600) for a ride of only 10km. The normal fare should have been only 150,000 dong

My first thought was to wonder whether Singaporeans are gullible when travelling until it occurred to me that it was the taxi driver was the one who was a sausage short of a barbecue. The two mentioned passengers were two of the Singaporean delegates to the 80th Interpol General Assembly meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Right! So if you are going to really cheat heavily on your customers, make sure that they are not members of Interpol first – the taxi driver could run but he could not hide!

Singapore Sevens

SG_7s

It is that time of year again, Rugby time in Singapore. The Rugby World Cup is over, the Hong Kong Sevens not for another six months so for your rugby fix, look to the Singapore Sevens. They are, this year, back to the Padang – on the 4th to the 6th of November.

Sistec Singapore notes:

The Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby 7s (‘SCC 7s’) is now in its 64th year, and is one of the oldest organised sporting events in Singapore and the oldest 7s tournament in South East Asia. The tournament is widely recognised as one of the highest standard international rugby 7’s tournaments outside of the International Rugby Board’s world 7’s circuit. The tournament is played right in the heart of the City’s CBD on the Padang, where a purpose built temporary stadium is erected for the tournament – so hurry and get your tickets for Singapore’s oldest and fun event for everyone to see the Olympic sport of Rugby 7s at its best– LIVE!

Thomo 1, Anthony 0

A passing remark concerning 15mm World War 2 along with a casual note about how cool a Rolls Royce Armoured Car looked has resulted in Anthony in Singapore having a major rethink.

Not only did I help him christen his new wargames room and table (and the lovely verdant green terrain) but now I have caused him to undertake a total rethink of the tasble. It seems strangely satisfying 😆

Mind you, he has also been causing me to do some rethinking as well, but more of that later.

Oh, and the armoured car that started it all?

Rolls Royce Armoured Car from Flames of War website

First Singapore Wargame

A view of the battle at the end - Union on the left. Also shown is Anthony's neat terrain.
A view of the battle at the end - Union on the left. Also shown is Anthony's neat terrain.I leapt into the taxi and headed up to Bukit Timah to Anthony’s for an American Civil War game. Anthony has been working on terrain and setting up a games room so Sunday night was to christen both the terrain and the room.

I was happy to be going up to Bukit Timah as well as it is a part of the island I have not seen yet. Nice area and the signs telling me not to feed the monkeys were encouraging – I wondered whether I would eat.

Armed with a packet of Pringles and a six-pack (of Chang, not of abdomen) I arrived around 7. After negotiating my way through the condominium grounds (you know it ain’t going to be easy when Anthony is in block 91) I managed to find the right condo.

Anthony had decided to christen the room with an American Civil War battle as he had the figures for both sides ready to use. The rules being used were the On To Richmond rules, written way back in 1983 and published by the now (I believe) defunct The Courier magazine.

The scenario we were trying was a Union division of 5 brigades and a battery were tasked with defending a river crossing and town from two attacking Rebel divisions supported by three batteries. What made the task even more difficult for the Union was that three of their brigades were off table at the time, set to come on at an unknown time in the future.

The battle broke down into a number of steps:

  1. The Rebels came forward, the Union fired, the Rebels disappeared.
  2. The Union fired.
  3. The Rebels stopped.
  4. The Union fired again.
  5. The Rebels disappeared
  6. Go to point 1.

The Union were lucky as their reinforcements arrived early and from a direction that allowed them to both support the centre and enfilade Rebs arriving from the bridge.

The result was a win to me and the Union – the perfect way for Anthony to christen both his wargaming room and his new terrain (all of which he made I might add) – a loss – 😆

A great game and I can see some regular gaming coming up in the future – possibly Wednesday night games!

Thanks for a great night mate!

Door Lock Codes

For the last four months I have been trying to have the automatic door to my condominium repaired. The theory was that you tap a few digits into a keypad next to the door and with a quiet reassuring shhhhh sound, the door opens, closing again automatically after 5 seconds.

It never worked.

After several attempts it was finally repaired this week, a new motor was installed, the controller, PCB, power supply and coding were all checked and voila, tap, tap, tap, tap, shhhhh, door open! The only thing missing was the quiet reassuring voice thanking me for using Sirius Cybernetics as I walked in.

The guys from the builders then said “you’d better change the code now as we all know this one”.

“OK” says I, “how do I do that”.

“Simple” says the builders, “press the hash key, key in 101055 ((not the real code I hasten to add)), star, then 3, then the new four digit code followed by hash, star.”

“Right” says I, “let’s do it”.

We did it and the code was changed. The builders moved away a respectful distance whilst I tapped in the new code so that they did not know what it was.

It then occurred to me – the problem with these locks is that as a security thing, they are a failure. After all, the builders know exactly what codes to use to change the door code and get access. So will all my neighbours with the same locks on their doors.

The only positive is that if I come home and find I have been robbed after I can’t get in the door because the code is wrong, I’ll know it was the builders who did it … or anyone of my neighbours with the same lock on the door, or any of the guys in the factory in China making the locks, or anyone who lived there before …. sigh, back to the manual key and some security I think!