Sichuan 四川!

Went to visit SY in Hangzhou in June (she was on her uni exchange programme), and then hopped over to Sichuan with the spouse for another 10 days to take in the wonderful scenery in Sichuan and other experiences (panda conservatory, Sichuan opera, etc) … here are some photo highlights …

  • Hangzhou 杭州
  • Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong 九寨沟 / 黄龙
    (photos below are of Huanglong)

(continues on new blog While I Learn I Live …)
(this is the final post on this blog 1 July 2016)


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KTKLN Card (KPIS card updated May 2017)

Update: 30 May 2017

Well, it seems the KTKLN card is no longer needed (called an agency today and the person confirmed this with me). However, there is still some work to do when your helper goes for home leave (so it seems, based on what my helper says).

And that is to get a KPIS card (an Indonesia worker in Singapore kind of ID card, see the details in the brochure below).

IMG-20170530-WA0002 (1)

And to get this KPIS card, bring along

  • work permit,
  • passport (and photocopy), and
  • employment contract (note: this contract is the one issued from the Indonesian embassy side when you accompany your helper there, and do an interview with the embassy officials (I guess to ascertain that they are paid the minimum sum, have off days, have no issues to report about working for you, … etc).

Note: not sure how all this works out, if you get an maid agency to do it for you, but the price is $150 – $180 as I found out.

========END of UPDATE 30 May 2017 ======

KTKLN Card – what on earth is that?? (this post from 2016, no longer relevant..see update above)

Well, it is for Indonesian workers who go to work overseas and seems to serve as a form of “compulsory” registration/insurance for them to do in Indonesia, before they can depart for their country of employment. In case anyone has to get it done (e.g. for their Indonesian helper), strongly recommend to look at this blog (published 2014) for details of what to do: Apply KTKLN for Foreign Domestic Worker in Batam

We took our domestic helper to to get her KTKLN card renewed recently in Batam too (using info from the blog above), and this post is mostly an update on the information contained there. Most of the points are still valid, but I will add on some of our own “tips”/experiences …

  1. There is a one hour time difference between Batam and Singapore (we are ahead), so do take that into account when booking the ferry. We booked the 9:30 ferry from Harbourfront (to Batam International Ferry Centre) but almost missed the boat!The gate closes (15 min before departure) at 9:15 and for some strange reason, very likely due to the other person’s blog (she took the 9:50 ferry) which made me think I was also taking the 9:50!!, we only arrived at the gate at 9:17, but luckily the security man allowed us to still go in, but we had to rush like crazy to clear immigration etc, and the PA system announced our names to board IMMEDIATELY, haha 🙂
  2. Buy an open return ticket so that you have some flexibility in terms of which ferry to take to return to Singapore … because there may be delays in processing the card, or you may be distracted by the shopping at the MegaMall opposite the Batam International Ferry Terminal (link by overhead bridge).Ferry ticket costs $48 return, per pax and can be bought online (google Singapore Batam Ferry)
  3. Taxi to P4TKI which is the office where the KTKLN card is done still costs IDR50 000 for the 5 min trip (tell the man at the taxi counter your destination, and he will issue you a slip of your destination to give to the taxi driver; you pay to driver on arrival). Below is what the office looks like from outside (the glass doors beside the camouflage building).

    Complex Ruko Greenland Blok E No. 3A


  4. There is no need to get the taxi driver to wait for you. The officer doing the card for us helped us call a BlueBird Taxi when we were ready to leave, and it only cost IDR30 000 to get to MegaMall, for the return trip.
    (btw, we were quoted a rate of IDR90 000 for waiting for 2 hours, which is about the time needed to get the card and other things done)!
  5. After submitting our documents (original and photocopies), we were asked to go to a clinic (see picture below) a few blocks away (block A? or B? the officer will tell your helper where, and give a slip with address) for our helper to do her health check: this is a simple height and weight and BP measurement, and you pay IDR40 000 for it. A slip of paper is then given for your helper to hand back to the office.Remember to have some ID with you (e.g. an extra photocopy of helper’s passport/work permit will do)  … the clinic will ask for it, and your originals are no longer with you when you go to the clinic (the photocopies, 2 sets each of work permit, work contract, and passport are also not with you; they were also handed to the office upon arrival, together with originals)
  6. Back at the office after the “health” check, your helper will fill up some forms and you’ll be asked to pay for the insurance (IDR170000 or IDR290000 for 1 or 2 years).A man will then take the money and leave the office on his motorbike to somewhere else, to process the insurance (this is where the longest wait time happens …)After your helper has completed the forms, you will need to buy this “stamp” from the corner shop three shops away, to stick onto the form:


    says 6000 but shopkeeper asks for 8000 … just pay lah!

  7. In the meantime, you can wait at the office but much better to go to the modern Morning Bakery nearby for “kopi”:

Me and spouse waited at the bakery, and got our helper to go back to the office to await the collection of her card and insurance. Soon, and after almost 2 hours (10 am to 12 noon) from when we first arrived, she was back with us and with the documents!

The KTKLN “card” is now no longer a nice plastic card (like our NRIC), but two copies of A4 size sheets of paper with her photo. One copy is for keeping in the passport, while the other is for laminating …

and after getting help to call for a taxi from the office, we were back at MegaMall, took our lunch (many options), and then caught the 2:10 pm ferry back to Harbourfront.

Allocate one whole day if you ever have to do this! And treat it as a little travel/adventure to Batam  … 🙂


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Ink Painting class resumes!

After taking a break for almost 6 months, the class is back again with the same group of “enthu” students as the last course … (although personally, would have like to see more “new blood” join the class, somehow, priority was given to those already on board to register so that the level of the students would not be too different, I guess??)

Into painting of flowers for the first 3 sessions (carnation, cattleya, hydrangea), of which I was keen only to do the cattleya:



Third session ended up as a big birthday bash for the teacher, with lots and lots of food and wine! I said in the whatsapp group that I would bring “an empty stomach” in Chinese but ended up with a “lawsuit” instead, by saying “我带控肚子“!  LOL 🙂


local delights! potato chips ended not opened 😦





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罗大佑Concert@Star Theatre

Lol! Didn’t know he was such an important songwriter/singer until two days after the concert (7 May 2016, Star Theatre)!!


And double LOL, I even knew (i.e. have heard/can recognise) these FIVE out of the many songs he sang during the concert:

And he wrote 明天会更好 too,inspired by the success of the charity single We Are the World by USA for Africa

Performing to a full house (of mostly people above 40), definitely am glad to have been there to see “a major cultural icon” live and re-acquainting myself with some of these songs from “my younger days” (童年)!!  🙂

(Wikipaedia extract, Lo Ta-Yu

(simplified Chinese罗大佑traditional Chinese羅大佑pinyinLuó Dàyòu; born July 20, 1954), also known as Luo Dayou and Law Tai-yau, is a Taiwanese singer and songwriter who, during the 1980s, affected Chinese pop and rock music …  his love songs, and his witty social and political commentary that he infused in his more political songs, often to the point that some of his songs were suppressed in Taiwan and China during the 1980s. He is recognized as a major cultural icon in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China.)


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Mt Rinjani – to do or not to do …?

Just completed a 4D3N trek to Mt Rinjani (3726m) in Lombok with D and it was simply awesome!! For me, the amazing scenery and being in nature was certainly worth the challenge of the long hikes up and down the slopes over the 4 days.

If you are thinking of it, do read on…There are many options besides going for the summit especially if you don’t have a lot of training time to put in!!  You do NOT need to be a marathon runner to do it either, haha, but TRAIN, YOU MUST.


6:34 am. Still heading up to summit on the difficult “Part 3” of the summit climb. Shadow of Mt Rinjani is the clearly seen triangle shape on top left, while in the centre, in the far distance, Mt Agung (3031m), tallest mountain in Bali is visible. The baby volcano in the crater lake can be seen “smoking” and last erupted in Oct2015.

After this rather complete experience of the 4D3N trek up from the Sembalun route (from the East), up to the summit, down to the lake, and up again to the Senaru rim, and back to Senaru village (the Northern route), (see route map below, and distance/elevations covered on right),

I would say that here are the main things to consider when deciding whether to “do” Mt Rinjani …

A)  Fitness level and number of days to trek – yup, it is a tough trek for sure, and no descriptions can get you to imagine how challenging it would be (especially to the summit, but the route down to the lake is also challenging!). However, …

  • you can always do a shorter trek (many people do 2D1N, just to see the crater lake only from the rim and for this, moderately fit people can do it), choose to see more or see less (2D1N with summit is even possible for the very fit, but need to cover a lot of distance). 3D2N summit and lake is only for the really super fit types! whilst 3D2N summit (no lake) is possibly quite “relaxing”..
  • The bottom line is that the more days spent enables you to do/see more as you go up and down by the different routes (e.g up from Sembalun and down from Senaru, or vice versa) and include the lake and the hot springs there …

Whatever it is, the scenery is beautiful and amazing even without going all the way up to the summit.

(BUT note that the weather/cloud cover is something that is hard to predict, especially later in the day. Early morning starts are essential to ensure getting nice views!!)

B)  Is staying in a tent, going without shower, using a toilet in the field (you will be well shielded, no worries, as toilet tent is provided) etc… fine with you? In other words, can you do without the comforts of home for a few days while being out there in/with nature?

C) Do you have knee problems? The steep down parts are best avoided (down to the lake, down from summit in the first and last part, … ) but the down part either to Sembalun or Senaru village are not so bad (they do still take many hours; see the elevation/distance photo earlier! so a longer duration would be good).

D) Age alone should not deter you … both young and old have done it (youngest was like 8 while oldest was 80)! My friend D is a great example as well, being a grandpa of two and in his early 60s! 🙂

And if you need to see more images to get a better sense of the trek, do check out this link – 30 images of our Rinjani trek.

I was initially thinking immediately after the end of the trek that it would be a once in a lifetime adventure, but after looking back at the photos, perhaps I might do it again!! ;P




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Random nature shots …

Doing my training for Rinjani and marathon around different parks and taking random photos this week with phone camera (first two shots) ..

DSC_0078 copy

Bishan Park II (the one nearer to Upper Thomson Rd) – nice symmetry and greenery!


Bishan Park II – pink and white flower carpet  🙂

Also have been carrying my backpack, with DSLR to train for Rinjani, at Gardens by the Bay area ..


Lilies, always a wonderful sight at the pond by the Art Science Museum!!

and Macritchie ..


Very exciting week ahead as D and me head to Rinjani this week!! 🙂

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Oh My Josh…

Joshua Bell with the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO)!! What a treat for all who were at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Saturday … (including former PM Goh CT, and Prof Tommy Koh 🙂 )

Must say that we were really lucky to still be able to get Stall tickets at the last minute on Friday, the day before the concert! It was the last 2 tickets available at the Stalls Level, and the last 6 tickets overall (another 4 seats were available at the Circle 1 Level).  🙂


ST Life Section 11 Apr 2016 Monday

Classical violin superstar Joshua Bell held the audience spell bound with his virtuosity and showmanship in this thoroughly enjoyable and “joyous” concert that blended both Western and Chinese music (see review in ST 11/4/16 Life). My dizi teacher was in the orchestra too (as guest performer too, but haha, not in the same league as Joshua Bell 🙂 )

Truly a memorable and inspiring treat to see a superstar perform live, and many thanks to SL for “introducing” him to us! 🙂

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