Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

Nature parks are usually not the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Singapore. But Singapore actually has several excellent parks including the Sungei Buloh Nature Park.

Lots of birds at the Sungei Buhlu Wetlands Reserve

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is located on the North of Singapore bordered by the Johor Strait, with a view to Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The reserve, covers an area of 130 hectares, was designated as a nature park in 1989 and gazetted (with an expanded size of 40 hectares greater than the original area) in 2002 and listed as an ASEAN Heritage Park in 2003 (Singapore’s first such park).

Milky Stork at the Sungei Buhlu Wetlands Reserve, Singapore

Milky Stork – they are classified as endangered and are also found in Malaysia, Cambodia and Indonesia.

I actually see these fly over Johor Bahru fairly often in the morning or evening. They mirror the commuters going and returning from work each day.

Malayan water monitor lizard

Malayan water monitor lizard

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Pura Dalem Desa Pakraman, Ubud, Bali

The sign at this temple says Pura Dalem Desa Pakraman Ubud.

pura-dalem-agung-ubud-bali-statues-doorway

I am certain this is Pura Dalem (see entrance sign below), I am not 100% certain that there are not a couple places called Pura Dalem and then this isn’t the Great Temple of Dealth (please comment if you know). I can’t find matching information online using this name.

Some sites online have photos that seems to be this temple and say, Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal is Great Temple of Death. Which is a Hindu temple located in the Sacred Monkey Forest of Padangtegal, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia.

Stone carving, Pura Dalem Agung

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Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

The Gardens by the Bay consist of two large buildings and fairly small outdoor gardens. The flower dome includes a wide variety of flowers from regions around the globe. Both buildings are glass bubbles providing a view of downtown Singapore.

view of the interior of Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands is visible in the background.

An audio tour is available which plays short clips of information on numerous plants found in the gardens. I thought it was worthwhile.

photo of deep redish-purple flower

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Photos of Little India

Here are some photos from a walk I took in the Little India area in Singapore when I had visitors.

photo of Masjid Abdul Gaffoor

Masjid Abdul Gaffoor

photo of a Colorful Building in Little India

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Taxis Vanish in Rain as Singapore Gets Congested

I have found he taxi situation in Singapore to be poor. It is tolerable if it doesn’t rain, but even without rain is it not good (it is just too hard to find a taxi and waits are too long), not up to what I would expect from Singapore. Also the subways have become very overcrowded and again not up to the standard for convenience I expect from Singapore.

The root of the transportation problems are excessive population growth without the necessary infrastructure improvement. I think it has been a mistake to grow so much, but if the rapid growth is going to be the policy then the transportation infrastructure should have been managed much better. The rapid growth has many negative impacts beyond transportation: rapidly rising costs, changing culture with huge influx of foreigners, overcrowding, etc..

Taxis Vanish in Rain as Singapore Gets Congested

At 6 a.m. one weekday morning, 64-year-old taxi driver Koh Chia Hock set out to ply Singapore’s roads when it started raining. So he turned around and went home.

“If I go and fetch a customer, it’s very risky,” said Koh, as the heavy traffic raises the chance of an accident that could leave him without earnings while the car is repaired. “I don’t have the stomach for it. I don’t want to drive when it rains.”

Cab drivers like Koh are avoiding the traffic jams that have become a hallmark of Singapore’s tropical rainstorms after a jump in the city’s population and a surge in vehicles clogged roads.

“There are too many cars,” said taxi driver Koh, who says it takes twice as long to get to the city center than when he started driving cabs a decade ago. “It’s not that there are too few taxis, it’s just that if they are not occupied, they are caught in jams.”

The government’s Land Transport Authority says the average waiting time for a taxi in the city center during peak hours in March was 4.1 minutes and average traffic speed in the central business district in 2012 was 28.6 kilometers per hour (18 miles per hour).

Paul Barter… “Averages are very misleading,” said Barter, who has lived in the city-state for 12 years. “Things are not quite as bad as some people have been saying, they’re not quite as rosy as the government has been saying.”

What is happening is not surprising if it wasn’t Singapore; for most locations government mis-managing things is common. but Singapore has done so well for so long that when an aspect of government policy is implemented in a way that is just a bit better than an average (for most governments) it is very disappointing. Basically, Singapore has set expectations that the government will manage things very well, failing to do so is disappointing even if the results are really better than most places. This failure is really about the policy decisions to grow the population so much, so quickly, in my opinion. The transportation failures are a result of that policy, without that course of action transportation likely would be in good shape.

Related: Transportation from Singapore to Johor Bahru, MalaysiaSingapore Light Rail from the AirportSingapore’s Health Care SystemJB to Singapore by Taxi

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Fighting Dengue Fever With Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

With the ongoing Dengue fever outbreak in Singapore I wonder if they are thinking of experimenting with this option. The video was created by the Wellcome Trust (a UK based non-profit medical research organization) on this effort to fight the Dengue virus.

Oxitec is experimenting with genetically modified male mosquitoes that are infertile. So when they mate no offspring are born. They are able to target the specific mosquitoes that carry dengue (because those mosquitoes are genetically distinct from other mosquitoes).

From Oxitec’s Dengue Information Center:

Dengue fever is the fastest growing mosquito-borne disease, affecting over 50 million people each year across the world, and continuing to grow both in prevalence and severity.

There are around 25,000 fatalities each year and severe cases require hospitalisation and constant monitoring. Dengue is an extremely expensive disease, estimated to cost the global economy over US$5 billion per year.

Dengue is caused by four different, but related, viruses (known as DENV-1,2,3 and 4). Once infected, a person can develop a lifelong immunity to that strain of the virus but can become more susceptible to the other three strains.

Related: One Scientists 20 Year Effort to Defeat Dengue FeverSingapore Government’s Campaign Against Dengue FeverWorld Health Organization Dengue Fact SheetSingapore’s Health Care SystemExtremely Bad Haze in Johor Bahru and SingaporeVideo showing malaria breaking into cellEngineering Mosquitoes to be Flying Vaccinators (2010)

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Singapore Science Museum

photo inside the Singapore Science Center

The Science Center in Singapore is focused on providing kids interactive exhibits with science content. It is worth a visit if you like such museums, it is a bit above average for such museums, in my experience. They have the expected IMAX theatre (which has assigned seats – I didn’t notice this until someone made us move).

photo of exhibit with interactive skeleton

As is the case with many exhibits at these types of museums sometimes it seems like they just make something interactive without making it very educational. The skeleton was that way (also people had trouble making it work, making the movements necessary to get it to respond).

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Asian Civilizations Museum

exterior of the Asian Civilization Museum in Singapore

The Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore is packed with great artworks. See a few photos in this post.

photo of Illustration of Rustam defeating Afrasiyab, 1560, Iran

Illustration of Rustam defeating Afrasiyab, 1560, Iran

This museum is definitely worth a visit for those who enjoy museums. The Asian Civilisations Museum’s flagship at Empress Place opened in 2003. Occupying over 14,000 square metres at the newly-restored Empress Place Building, it houses 11 galleries which showcase over 1300 artefacts from the Museum’s growing collections on the civilisations of China, Southeast Asia, South Asia and West Asia/ Islamic. These collections include recent acquisitions as well as artefacts inherited from the historic Southeast Asian ethnographic collection of the former Raffles Museum.

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Buddha Tooth Temple

Front of main hall,  Buddha Tooth Temple, Singapore

The Buddha Tooth Temple is one of the more popular tourist destinations in Singapore. I enjoyed visiting. If you like temples, history and art it is definitely worth a visit. The site includes a museum as well as an operating temple.

The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum is a Buddhist temple and museum complex located in the Chinatown district of Singapore.

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Singapore Housing Market Predicted to Cool in 2013

Singapore Curbs to Slash Home Sales in 2013

Singapore home sales may fall as much as 27 percent in 2013 after climbing to a record this year as six rounds of housing curbs by the government crimps demand, according to Jones Lang LaSalle.

Predictions are often incorrect. It does make sense to me that the repeated attempts by the Singapore government to cool the housing bubble will have an impact. But we will have to see what really happens. I do think Singapore is acting sensibly. If anything they waiting too long to take some of these actions (decreasing leverage is one of the best moves to make, which they have done).

The Singapore economy is forecast by the government to expand 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent in 2012, from 4.9 percent in 2011. The economy “slowed discernibly” in the past two quarters and will grow at below-potential levels for a second year in 2013, the Monetary Authority said Oct. 30.

You have to like government-speadk (though even some investment predictions make such unclear statements) – “will grow at below-potential levels.”

The recent booming residential real estate market in Johor Bahru, Malaysia (a suburb of Singapore) is being fueled by Singapore’s wealth and the curbs in Singapore. The economic prospects for Johor Bahru are very positive. Still I think the Malaysian government should be adopting measures similar to Singapore’s. The best measure would be to reduce the leverage allowed. Require 20% down (even for condo units under construction). There is a huge supply of high rise condos to be delivered between 2014 and 2017 and those purchasers are putting very small amounts down. This is the type of situation that exacerbates bubbles.

Related: Singapore Taxes Increase In Attempt to Cool Condo PricesTransportation Options from Singapore to Johor Bahru, MalaysiaOnline Resources for Moving To and Living In Singapore

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