February 23, 2007

Singapore and the Law

(The Supreme Court)

Before stepping off of the plane in Singapore I pondered greatly the fact that I was stepping onto the soil of a country which has executed 400 Singaporeans since 1984. I also thought back to the many movies dealing with the imprisonment of foreigners due to framings or simple ignorance of the many laws that we, from more loosely governed democratic countries, would call crazy. In fact some of their laws seem so outrageous that I am sure many communist countries would even question their existence. So here is a list of laws from Singapore for you to peruse. I think that you will find them entertaining.
  • Bungee jumping is illegal.
  • The sale of gum was illegal. This law changed in order to appease the Americans in a deal that was struck between the two countries in very recent years. However, you can only buy gum from a pharmacy and your name is recorded when you purchase it. Not much has changed in this way though as it it still greatly frowned upon.
  • Eating in a public place is not permitted.
  • Owning a firearm, murder, and drug dealing are all punishable by death. Not to mention that they still widely use a corporal punishment called caning.
  • It is or was illegal to walk around your own home in the nude.
  • Failure to flush a public toilet after use will result in very substantial fines. (No more Phantom Logger!)
  • Public protests are not allowed to take place in the streets but rather are confined to an enclosed space, ironically away from public viewing.
  • It is considered an offense to enter the country with cigarettes.
  • Cigarettes were illegal in all public places. However, when we were strolling along the river downtown I saw a young couple sitting on a bench enjoying the pollution of a cigarette.
  • Freedom of the press and access to information (including the internet) is suppressed greatly in this country.
  • If you are convicted of littering once it will cost you S$1000 . The second offense costs the perpetrator double the original and with only three convictions, you will have to clean the streets on Sundays with a bright yellow bib saying, "I am a litterer."
  • And, finally for those of you who are in the habit of peeing in elevators, this too is illegal.
I did not run into any problems with the law while I was a guest in this strict country. I would even like to state for the record that I rather enjoyed knowing that I was the one who benefited from most of these laws.

February 19, 2007


"We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society based on justice and equality so as to achieve happiness, prosperity, and progress for our nation."

Quoted everyday by the populous of students in the nation this homage is a true representation of what I witnessed during my visit to this outstanding nation. While we were only in the country for a very short period I feel as if we were able to attain a somewhat comprehensive glance into the heart of the small but powerful nation.

We were greeted at the airport by Hock Seng and Carolyn who graciously gave of their time and vast knowledge on Singapore. They personally showed us around the country that they have called home for the large majority of their lives and the entirety of their 22 year marriage.

Our first stop was at the National Museum of Singapore, while the second stop was a little more appetizing, a traditional Sing dessert. While steaming hot black-bean soup was more to the Korean taste, this mixed fruit extravaganza was not half bad.

The museum itself was the highlight of the visit. I normally don't prefer to spend my few short hours visiting a country in a museum reviewing artifacts, but this museum was unlike any other I have ever been to. It made the Royal Tyrrell look like a sixth grade science fair (I am so sorry Alberta). Recently renovated and manifesting the true meaning of multi-faceted learning while implementing an integration simulation, this museum seemed to draw me in and make me crave more knowledge on the ancient, as well as, recent history of the country. Here, many facts and discussions that we all have had in social studies throughout the years, such as imperialism and democracy, came to life for me as I yet again had one of those experiences like in the Tienanmen Square where I pondered the fallen nature of man-kind and the injustices of all political systems.

The museum's architecture itself was breathtaking. A slight mix of modern and a solid helping of British imperialist influence left a firm impression on the mind of those who entered.

After strolling the impeccably clean streets for a few hours and learning first hand what it is like to live in a country where the laws are some, if not thee, strictest in the world it was nice to sit down to an authentic Indonesian dinner. Fish head soup anyone?

You wouldn't know it to look at it but this simmering pot of soup was alright by this anti-fish loving persons standards. Hint, for those of you willing to give it a go, the cheek directly under the eye socket is the most delicious.

February 16, 2007

Welcome Kayla!

Our beautiful niece Kayla was born early on the morning of February the 16th, for you North American residents and in the minds of us Asian dwellers, she was born February the 17th in the late evening (sometimes it is really odd being so many hours ahead in our time.) She was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, weighting a healthy 6 lbs. and 12 oz. and with the length of 19 in. She was born to her very proud mom, Joline Olson. We hear that they both are doing well and that the delivery was quick.

The very content grandfather and grandmother!

Even though we were regretfully so many miles away Kayla had a lot of love to welcome her into this world as she was surrounded by her loving mother, Joline, her two handsome older brothers, Raith and Zane, her excited grandparents, Gordon and Karen Olson and her father, Kelly Strauch.

February 12, 2007

A New Man

After 15 years, I finally retired my 80's style glasses. Some people live in the past and that was me right up until Saturday when Rachel helped me jump back on the fashion train. These new specs seem to have a strange power about them because I look smarter and feel wiser. As you can see, I've taken up reading Encyclopædia Britannica cover to cover (I fell asleep after page one) and I stare deeply into life as I ponder new thoughts such as; I wonder if that piece of meat was cooked thoroughly.

February 11, 2007

Zola - The Toilet Man

In case you ever forget what to do while in the washroom, remember our blog. We cover all the aspects of life from traveling right down to how to use a toilet.
This is the how-to sticker on our toilet lid for those who are unfamiliar with a sitting toilet. As strange as this might be, the majority of the public washrooms have a squat style toilet. So to many Koreans this "new" toilet style may cause them to scratch their head in confusion.

February 10, 2007

The Epilogue of Thailand

Ko Phi Phi Don

Phuket Town - Down by the bay

Phuket Butterfly Garden and Insect World

Monkey Island (Ko Phi Phi Leh)-Fat monkey!

Kata Beach-Hermit Crab

Ko Phi Phi Don-Market

Holiday Village and Natural Gardens Resort-Our Guesthouse in Karon Beach

Karon Beach


Parasailing was an adventure that I would recommend. All of us who willingly strapped ourselves into the contraption loved our few minutes of freedom in the air. However, I am afraid that poor Ji Hyun was coaxed and prodded into 'volunteering' for a flight. Don't be fooled by the look of glee on her face (bottom photo) she is really good at acting brave.

Vehicular Transportation

Getting around Thailand was a different story: scooters, long-tails, tuk-tuks, and buses crammed full of sweaty people, chickens, pigs, produce from the local market and four foreign girls swaying in unison to the beat of the Fourth World road.

Above is pictured a tsunami evacuation sign. My guess, although highly insignificant as it is, is that this sign is strategically placed in order to ward off the fears that linger in the dark places of the minds of the growing numbers of tourists who dare to head down to this recently barraged oceanic war zone.Tuk-tuks were a very popular mode of getting from here to there (seen above and below). Thai drivers lined the popular and not-so-popular streets calling out, "Tuk-tuk, Tuk-tuk" as you would walk past. These pseudo-taxi's were more like a mini-truck boasting a converted back end which is crudely designed to accommodate willing tourists.

February 3, 2007

The Amazing Bukit Safari

There have always been two things in life that I have wanted to have the experience of riding. One, an elephant through a dense jungle and two, a sun beaten camel through the scorching desert. This elephant trek, although far from the original uses of elephant-mobiles, was truly an experience. I learned more about elephants from a seemingly short one hour journey than I would have been able to find through hours or even days of searching on the web. For instance, cocky rude elephant masters do get tips at the end of a trek, however they are not usually in the monetary form that they desire. In fact they often come in the currency of don't-insult-the-foreigner-with-with-the-cash.
A little more of what I learned:
Did you know that Trevor really does smile for the camera when he is atop a huge wild beast (well possibly not so wild, but the size can not be argued.)
Third learning of the day:
While I am precariously perched on the unstable neck of a giant I still have time to scream when splashed with jungle creek water.
More knowledge:
Koreans in general dream of riding elephants while wearing straw hats. Not to mention that a ride would not be complete with out the "V for victory" (which is pronounced- victoly), no this is not to be mistaken for a peace symbol.

February 1, 2007

For The Percussionist In You

For Kirstin and Brent and all the rest of you who love music. For your viewing pleasure courtesy of Les Timmermans.