Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Trip to Singapore: Harbour Front Story

This is another story of my trip to Singapore. My family dan I decided to go to Singapore this weekend. We decided to take the route through Batam island.

Our trip started from Bandung. We took GA-Citilink flight from Bandung to Batam. The flight was full with family and people on holiday. Some schools, private ones, in Indonesia have started the holiday. The flight was smooth.

We arrived in Batam and took a taxi cab stright to Batam Center, where they have ferry or speed boot to Batam. The fare was Sing$ 14 returned (both ways). I think there’s a Sing$ 3 tax. We also had to pay “fiscal”. It’s some kind of tax for Indonesians leaving the country. The fiscal is Rp 500 thousands. If we leave Indonesia from other places, such as from Jakarta, the fiscal is Rp 1 million. It’s quite expensive, really. That’s the most expensive component in our trip.

We arrived in Singapore at Harbour Front. The place was packed with people. Apparently, several speed boats arrived at the same time. I suspect there were around two hundred people in front of me and another two hundreds behind me. I predicted it would take around one hour for me to clear custom. I was wrong. It took 90 minutes to clear custom! Wow, that long? Yes, it was that long. This would not have happened in Changi Airport.

The problem is that there were too many people and a limitted number of officers. I recall there were only three or four rows of custom desks available for non Singaporean passports. There were between three to six officers processing the queue at one time. (There were another three officers processing Singaporean passports. There were a lot of Singaporans too at that time. Maybe it was holiday season?) No wonder it took that long to clear custom.

Those custom officers work really fast and efficient. I notice especially one young man of Chinese decendent, with glasses. He worked really fast and efficient. When he encountered problematic vistitor, he would hand the case to his fellow and he processed another visitor. I bet if there’s a competition, he would win it. You have my respect. Usually, people write bad things about custom or government officers. Not many people write good things about them. This time, I would like to say that they are doing a good job.

People were complaining about the slow movement. I was also tired, but given the limitted resources what can they do? These officers have done a tremendous job. They were very efficient. It’s just that their number is limited. Perhaps the Singaporean government could add more personnels and counters at Harbour Front?

Our worry at that time was not clearing the custom. What were worry us was the time. My wife and son have not prayed. As muslims, we have to pray on schedule. We were worry that we would miss the prayer. It was close to 7 PM and time is closing to Maghrib praying time.

So, that's the story.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Blogging on Asia Blogging Network

As I said earlier, I wanted to write more in this blog. Alas, there's a new distraction. I joined Asia Blogging Network. I started to blog there. They even gave my own space there ("Art & Tech"). It's going to be more difficult for me to write in this blog.

Hmm ... I would write serious stuff there, but more personal stuff will be written here. That's the plan. Let's see if I can stick with the plan.

Friday, June 08, 2007

PhD's nightmare

I was reading comics at phdcomics.com. Ha ha ha! The comics are so true and funny. They brought back memories of my grad school years. Ha ha ha. Well, you have to be there to understand the joke. Grad school years are so cruel.

One thing I noticed in the comics is that the "actor" (the PhD student?) has a beard. You know, it occured to me that I had a beard when I was doing my PhD and so did my friends who were also doing PhDs. Wierd. Is this a commond thing? The comic is so acurate in that sense.

You know, I've never met a person who had no problem doing his/her PhD. Hmm... It's something to think for those who want to enter grad school.

Now, I am on the other side of the fence. Ha!

Information on Indonesia

Gadzillion years ago I had a web site called "The Ultimate Indonesian Homepage." Okay, okay, I was exagerating. It was not gadzillion years, but it was a long time ago. It was in early world wide web year when even Mosaic was not born yet.

The web site is aimed at people who are looking for information about Indonesia. At that time there were little information about Indonesia. I thought the web could help tourists or visitors to find information about Indonesia before they go there. It was a simple web site - heck, the biggest excitement was flashed text, ha ha ha - but it was a good one. It was even listed in some books.

After I went back to Indonesia, I still managed that web site with different domain name. At the end, with the help of Chandra Liem, we settled with myindonesia.org. I was not too busy, so I had the time to update the web. Remember that there was no content management system at that time. So I had to code the web site in HTML directly. Hah.

Now, time has changed. I am too busy doing many things and Chandra Liem has passed away. The web site is kind of abandoned. The domain name is gone. Had Chandra Liem still alive, he would have called me and asked me why the web site is not being updated. He was good in that sense, push people to achive things, serving people. Oh well. It's a shame that nobody is providing information about Indonesia. I still have my passion in it. It's just I don't have the time to do it. I guess I just have to make time. I want to re-create that ultimate homepage again. I'll make time to do it. Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Losing my vocabulary

I've been neglecting this blog. It's not intentional. It's just that I've been focusing my energy, time, and thought to my other blog (the one in wordpress). There, I write dailly. Many times I write more than one blog entries in a day. The lack of update in this blog is just a casuality.

Then... I notice is that I am losing my English vocabulary. Oh, man!

I don't get to use my English as much I wanted to. I can use English in my daily activities but I consider this rude. Why should I talk to Indonesians in Indonesia in English? Wierd, isn't it? I should use Bahasa Indonesia. Not that it is not uncommon to mix-and-match languages. I've seen people use English and Bahasa Indonesia in a mix-match fashion. I don't like it.

I don't know if they do it (mixing the languages) unintentionally or they just do it to show off. I said unintentionally because it is possible. I happened to do it many times in the past. English words, phrases, idioms and such just blurted out of my mouth. Now, I am trying to control this unacceptable behavior (in my opionion). Ocassionally, I still think in English though. Yes, it is true. In many cases it is more difficult for me to explain certain things in Bahasa Indonesia. Now that I am losing my English, I am in a difficult position. Picture this ... I am trying to explain things but I am struggling to find the right (English) words. Ha!

Now, I see that my English is slipping away. A few days ago, my son asked; "what's the English word for 'gerhana'." I just stunned. I could not answer it right away. The word was in the tip of my tounge, but I just could not recall it. Dang! I reached for a dictionary. Sure enough, it's easy. The answer is "eclipse."

Incidentally, in our group we were talking about eclipse - the integrated development environment (IDE) for software development. How could I forget that word?

I've got to write more in this blog to keep my English intact. I just gotta ...!