Tag Archives: Adventures

Reflections on the trip

After the study tour finished on the Wednesday, some of us decided to stay together at a backpackers in Little India before going home. It was a good time to relax, and get to know each other a bit better, after being busy looking at all the research facilities. While there we went out and explored some areas of Singapore that I hadn’t been to before.

Going to Singapore was a great experience. Although already been there before, I wasn’t able to look around and explore and learn about it like I did this time. I learnt more about the future applications of the material I am currently learning through the Nanotechnology course. It wasn’t just centred around one area either; we got to see a range of different areas. Singapore’s culture was interesting to learn. The food over there is a big part of their culture. It shows with how nice, and cheap it was. Everywhere we went to eat had chopsticks to use if we wanted so I’ve basically become an expert at using them now.

Post-tour adventures. Reflections upon return to Australia

I spent a few nights in little India, in the backpackers hostel The prince of Whales. It was nice to relax after such a busy two weeks. A few of us who stayed there went shopping some more at Bugis, Mustafa, and Funan. I got the chance to go to the night safari at the zoo with two Danish backpackers, which was a really nice time. The atmosphere was very nice at the backpackers but I felt that it was time to return home.
The last day: Sunday started way too early from the sleep I’ve had, but the weather here makes it possible. It is pretty annoying that as soon as I’m completely acclimatized to living here, food, heat, ect, I must return home. I am going to miss Singapore and the people I have meet on this trip.
The day was spent at the airport, with its whole Koi ponds, butterfly gardens, free movie cinemas. Singapore airport is an amazing place.
I had a nice stopover in Kuala Lumpur, which was enough time off the plane for me to get some food and have a shower before getting onto the final flight to take me home to Melbourne.
Melbourne was much colder than I expected when I got back, shorts and a T-shirt weren’t the best idea to land with. Regardless it was nice to be back home.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the study tour, I feel that I have learnt a lot about Singapore, it’s science, and the fact that their is so much to be gained from international relationships and looking past our own boundaries to other lands which have so much to offer. We now live in an age of an international community; we should use it to its full advantage.
I am very glad I have  made these blog posts, I will be able to look back onto this in a few years and remember the experiences I have had in Singapore.

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Pretty buildings

Now I am back in Australia I feel as that nothing had changed here but that I have matured as a person, I must be more confident with myself, and i should work harder for the things I really want. Also better organisation wouldn’t hurt.
Keeping a journal will help me remember what has happened, while also allowing me to attempt to improve my writing. I am planning to continue blogging my other adventures on my own blog.

Cheers for following this blog, i hope you have enjoyed it.

Fun at backpackers
Fun at backpackers

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Singapore airport has its own butterfly enclosure
Singapore airport has its own butterfly enclosure

 

Singapore airport is amazing
Singapore airport is amazing

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Sun over the clouds, almost home.
Sun over the clouds, almost home.

Fusionopolis and zoo trip.

White tigers.
White tigers.

We awoke to a wet morning from some rain in the night. I guess I slept through the thunder.
This made the whole day humid, but I think I am finally getting used to the climate here. First on the agenda was a trip to Fusionworld – Fusionopolis. Which was a part of the A*STAR institute which showcased its technologies to us in a gallery/guided tour format where we were taken on a guided tour of their facility. We started with a holographic promotional video which gave us back story to them.

Fusionopolis
Fusionopolis 

They showed us billboards which adjust their advertisement to the demographic in highest proportion around it for targeted marketing, such as age and gender. Voice recognition technology which instantly translates to local south east Asian languages. A voice activated mobile phone prototype which is currently only available in china. We were then shown a new type of body amour which was able to massively reduce the amount of force from an impact. A demonstration showed the same impact going from 45 N to 11N which has great applications in nursing homes for patients who are prone to falling so they don’t break any bones. They were made from a non-Newtonian fluid like cornstarch. A lack of photos from all of these is that we were not allowed to take photos of what we saw except for one room. We were then shown a massive touch screen which has applications in medical teaching for students to interact and see what a full brain scan looked like, including all of the components of the head. The next was really cool, a video game which was controlled with your brain waves. Granted it was pretty basic as a concentrate to move forward, however the concept of it and the progress is pretty cool. We were then shown another medical technology which uses optic fibres to monitor a patient’s heart rate and respiratory rate without the need for any wires. The benefit of this is that if a patient has sleep apnoea or stops breathing, the nurses will be notified immediately. The next room confused me, all it had was dim lights and fans on the walls which activated when approached. I thought it may have been some cooling or air circulation technology, turns out it was just a room for us to relax in from the information we were being given.

Relaxing room
Relaxing room

The final room was fun, as it had a projector on one wall with a webcam watching the projected screen. They had developed a way for laser pointers to be used as pointers with tablet devices, which lead the two tables of students taking turns playing pong and ice hockey on the projector screen.
Last of all we were shown a soft toy. This responds to input from a user, as having pets in retirement homes helps boosts moral, this too is trying to use the same approach to help the elderly with depression and to give them companionship. It responded positively and negatively depending if you stroked it, hugged it, or even gave it a wack. Also if left unattended for an amount of time it would start making noise and provide feedback to the nurses of how it was treated which would reflect the moods of the elderly who had them. We were then taken to the Sky Garden which was a really nice and relaxing place with many greenery and a great view of Singapore.

Sky garden
Sky garden

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From there we were dismissed and told to meet back at NUS at 1PM for a trip to the zoo.

Great food
Great food

We started the visit by meeting up with the exchange students from the biodiversity program again. Then were given back stage tours of the zoo including the food storage and kitchen for the animals, and the veterinary clinic which services all of them.
I then had a walk around the zoo for a while checking out a lot of the exhibits, including a show put on by some keepers and Asian elephants.

Elephants performing.
Elephants performing.

Overall the day was very nice, I got to see some new technologies and pretty animals while eating good food. What else would i want?

Weekend adventures, with some R&R.

When I got back to my room Friday night I realised that in the bathroom that they had changed the taps from, taps to times press tops, which makes washing hands annoying. Friday night was really nice and a good time to relax, I was chilling out with some of the other guys watching the world cup when we noticed some guy in the hallway outside the common room. As I went to the bathroom he threw up as I realised he was a bit drunk, so one of the other guys gave him some water to help him feel better.
A while after that when we went to check on him some of his friends showed up telling us he was at a party in the area and disappeared, so they found him on the 13th floor of our building. He was looking in a bad state so as we were taking him to the shower we noticed that he was completely unresponsive, but he was breathing so that was good.
We got his friend to call an ambulance while we took him to the lobby of the building and put him in the recovery position.
On Saturday I woke up at 2pm, it was nice to have a very long sleep in. I spent the day relaxing on Utown campus and spent time with my trip comrades. We also played some video games on our computers together.
On Sunday, after a late brunch, five of us went to Wild Wild Wet, a water park near Pasir Ris, an eastern district near Changi airport. It was good to have a day to cool off in some water. Even when it rained it was lovely and warm so the temperature was really nice the whole day.
Getting there was a bit of a hassle, taxis can be really tricky and will often reject taking you where you want to go because it’s too far from their area. After we spent a fair few hours there we took the train back to NUS Utown, where I caught up on some washing and went to bed.

Familiar faces. Colourful fish.

A early 7:15am start in Singapore is only 9:15am back in Australia. So it’s not that bad, just waking up when it is still dark is confusing.
We took a multitude of public transport which the aircon must be working very hard to keep up. We visited Republic Polytechnic and caught up with some students that we meet back in Australia when they were visiting. One of the students gave a very good presentation and I have hopefully now made a good international connection, as I can see him going far in the professional world.
We were given a tour around RP and their labs. Their approach to learning is problem based lesions where every day they are given a problem and have to asses, manage, correct, then report back with every day. We then went to their aircraft hanger where they have examples of equipment including a Learjet, a Cessna, and an Ultralight. With facilities to teach students how to work on them. Even having an air traffic control training room which simulates Changi airport. We then rushed back to Utown were we got changed and meet up with a group of international students from all over doing a summer subject at NUS. We all took a charted bus to Sentosa island where we were given a backstage tour of the aquarium. In the aquarium we were able to see the filtration systems they use and how they maintain the aquatic life there.
After the aquarium, I went out for dinner with two of the international students and some of the guys on the study tour with me. It was nice to walk around Sentosa island, also to get to know other students and how they are finding Singapore, and what their home countries are like compared with here.

Morning trains
Morning trains
Its a Jet
Its a Jet
Flight control simulation
Flight control simulation
Changi Airport model
Changi Airport model
Shark
Shark
Too soon?
Watch out Steve Irwin

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Colourful fish
Colourful fish
Jellyfish or Sea jellies because they are not fish.
Jellyfish or Sea jellies because they are not fish.

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Sentosa island including Universal studios.
Sentosa island including Universal studios.

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Science time.

After meeting up, it was only a short trip to our activities of the day, with today being fully contained in the science faculty of NUS. We meet five local students who took time out of their day to spend it with us. They were also studying various areas of science. We all then went around to their particle accelerator and they spoke to us about the research they have done and techniques they use with the accelerator.
Our cohort then travelled to the Centre for Quantum Technologies, which was established as Singapore’s first research centre of excellence in 2007. CQT was given $195 million of core funding for 10 years, this has allowed CQT to develop a world-class research program with strong theory and experiment groups.
We were given a presentation by one of the researches about single photon technologies and quantum entanglement with applications in cryptography. We were also given a tour of laboratories where they isolate atoms using magnetic fields which begin to exhibit different properties.   

For our break, the local students took us to a food court where we once again had amazing food at great prices. After that, we went back to our original meeting location where we had the privilege of having a presentation by the dean of the faculty of science. He spoke to us about NUS and it’s science programs.
We were then shown to a science demo lab which is always fun. The demonstrator showed us many concepts in science we have learnt about, but it is always nice to see them again and in action. Such as superconductors, standing waves, and kinematics.      
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Clean room
Clean room
Super sos
Super sos

High commission. Suit up.

After an early start it was nice to suit up and feel important. The humid morning soon turned the nice suit into a sweat cocoon. After a quick train and bus ride with an iced drink at the end to help me cool off. We soon entered the Australian high commission where we were greeted with a beautiful embassy showcasing the relationship between Australia and Singapore including the Colombo program. The group was greeted by two women who worked there. They spoke to us about the Singapore-Australia relationship, including extremely close defence relations being at the core of the relationship, details about the free trade agreement, and education exchanges between respective countries universities. We then had a more informal chat with the lady about Singapore, and her experience as an Australian living in Singapore.
Singapore is quite amazing in the way that it is so strong economically while having no natural resources. Building its wealth off crude oil processing, financial processing, and a large pharmaceutical  industry. This has allowed Singapore to be as strong as it has been. 

Then we rushed back to the accommodation and got changed quickly then rushed off to the IMRE, Institute for materials, research, and education. We were given presentations by two males that worked at A*STAR, which is a government organisation which does research and development for industries in Singapore, from small scale to large multinationals.

We then had a tour of the facilities where we saw a range of different laboratories and equipment which are very useful for nanotechnology. During a break I was able to network with a man doing his PhD in lithium ion batteries and the carbon structures used to hold them in the anode.

The Tour begins. Green Alert.

A mid-morning start to a relaxing day of sightseeing. After a Singaporean breakfast of super soft boiled eggs and toast with coconut spread. While we were waiting for people to prepare with passports, thunder started booming around us, with flashes of lighting in the distance. As we were about to leave, a monsoon of rain came down upon us, I was surprised about the sheer volume of watch which came down, however it did show me why there are such large storm drains around the city.

We travelled to Kent ridge by train and walked over to the Merlion. We walked past a few stages of people setting up for a festival and sound checking. Then over the Helix bridge to the Marina bay sands shopping centre. After spending time at the centre, we walked over to Gardens by the bay, which had a massive array of plant life. We went into the flower dome first off which had plants from all over the world, it was very nice to get inside and be out of the very humid atmosphere. The plants inside the dome were very diverse and aesthetically pleasing. The group moved to the Cloud Forest which was a cooler separate dome with a giant mound in the middle with rainforest plants growing off the walls and a waterfall from the top to the bottom. It was an amazing experience to see such a large variety of plants.   

Feet on the ground. Red Alert.

After having a short flight from Kuala Lumpur, I spoke to an Indian man from Deli, he gave me his number and insisted I come stay with him sometime.

Having collected my luggage and heading outside, I didn’t realise how much the air conditioning was helping until I left the airport and took a train down the line, whereby I must have looked like a lost sore thumb as a man offered help to give me directions to the hotel, even walking me part of the way. During the walk he told me that Geylang, the area I am staying in, is very shifty and not to trust anyone and to be on my guard. After checking in and settling in, I spent some time catching some sleep after the transit while waiting for Gerard to arrive in the afternoon.

After buying a sim card and public transport “ez link” card I went back to the train station to catch up with Gerard to take him back to the hotel. While walking the streets of Geylang my first impressions were that it was very cramped and quite dirty with many prostitutes about attempting to catch my gaze. As I was walking down Lorong 18,  I had one man approach me and invite me inside his house, when i asked what was in the house he told me it was a fish tank with Thai and Vietnamese girls. I respectfully declined his offer. I found the food to be quite cheap while giving decent portion sizes.

Hotel frgrance, Crystal.
Hotel fragrance, Crystal.

On the second day after arriving (26th June). I found out that Lorong 18 is right in the middle of one of Singapore’s legal red light districts and I was staying right in the middle of it. I noticed that all of the houses in the street that weren’t hotels were houses of pleasure, which were easily identified by large red house numbers out the front of the houses.

Anyway, after taking the train into the city, I meet up with some of the other guys on the trip and we went on the Singapore flyer, which included a little interactive museum. While walking up to the flyer, we saw two film crews which were filming an amazing race style show called “the bacon express”. The view from the flyer was really nice and gave a great perspective on the city of Singapore.

Singapore flyer, the largest in the world at 165m tall.
Singapore flyer, the largest in the world at 165m tall.

We proceeded to have a trip around the city just exploring, which I found Singapore to be very clean, air conditioned everywhere and very spacious.

After spending a night observing our section of Geylang on a vibrant Friday night, the following day was just a trip to our new home of NUS and starting the assessment tasks for the trip.

Photogenic ducks, and a turtle at the botanical gardens.
Photogenic ducks, and a turtle at the botanical gardens.

Preperation and tranzit.

I have been overseas a few times now, mostly to New Zealand. I have also been to Germany (and surrounding countries) and India with stopovers in South Korea and Singapore respectively.
By now i have done more travel than most and am very thankful for all of the opportunities I have been given.
My last encounter with Singapore was a few hours of dosing off in an airport lounge, so I expect this to be very different.
I expect Singapore to be a melting pot of many cultures with the main ethnic groups being Malay, Indian, and Chinese.

After finishing my last exam yesterday, (24th June) I was in a hurry to have everything organized by tonight (25th). The excitement of traveling has been building since the day before with the realization that it is actually happening now.
My preparation was standard packing for hot weather, except this is the first time I’m traveling with a suit and laptop.

After saying goodbye to my loved ones. I entered the secure zone for which they could not follow, I always get nervous about going through security checkpoints as I know I have nothing prohibited but am worried that I may have forgotten about something.
For the first time I was not randomly swabbed for substances. It must be the lack of facial hair and my nice jacket.
As I check through immigration, the dazzle of duty free bombards me with their product and prices. Being a watch man, I like to take some time and observe the beautiful and completely overpriced watches for which I would need to take out a mortgage just to consider buying one.
Waiting at the gate to board the plane, watching everyone line up before the gate even opens. I prefer to sit and relax until the line is small, we are all going to get on the flight eventually. I feel the rush of excitement of starting another adventure.

After the 8 and a half hour flight, the last thing I wanted was complications with my connection to Singapore. While in a queue trying to figure out why my flight was not displayed, I meet another Australian who from Brisbane just finished his degree and was traveling to London to meet up with his friends.
I was relieved to know that my gate was only a short train trip to the next building where I arrived as boarding commenced. From what I understand, Singapore is strong and ahead in regards to science and business with the national university of Singapore recently being ranked number one in the Asian region for science.
As with all of my other trips I believe that this experience will allow me to grow and mature as an adult, with the opportunities to learn life lessons right in front of me, I am going to take them.