Thursday, January 31, 2008

Its you Cherubim!!

Hey Cher,

Saw u on multiply! lol

Old Bob has passed away

My friend, Bob passed away a week ago. I'm a little bit sad I didn't spend more time with him, esp. when I got back. But he lived rather far away, over 30 minutes drive, and I'm not good at managing my time to see him.

I had the honor to give him a eulogy at his funeral. This is it.

Eulogy for Chief Petty Officer Robert S. Wilkins (Ret) 25th January 2007.

I had the honor and pleasure to become a friend to Mr Wilkins, whom we affectionally knew as Bob. We met at the ACCF church in 1995. He was very surprised that I knew so much about military history and we spent long hours talking about World War Two, the Royal Navy and his part in it.  This is his story which I recorded during my time with him.

Robert Stanley Wilkins was born, July 28th, 1912, in a small English village called Tisbury in England. He came from a large family – 4 brothers and 4 sisters. His father was an ordinary laborer but an exceptional gardener who turned their backyard into a veritable Garden of Eden and grew all their vegetables and fruits – and according to Bob they lived like kings on the produce. His mother was a school teacher; a highly educated woman. Despite their social class mismatch, they married out of love.

 Virtually all his brothers had joined the Navy. All up, his family served a total of 72 years in the navy service. Bob was good at school but his father was too poor to send him to higher education, much to his mother’s dismay.

So Bob joined the Navy in 1928, age 16 years. He didn't do it out of love for King and Country, he just wanted to see the world. Back then, only the rich could afford to travel. He spent 12 months as a boy seaman on board the training battleship, Emperor of India which used coal as its main fuel. He actually had to haul sacks of coal onto the ship and hated it. At 18, he went to the battleship, Royal Sovereign and then joined the Revenge with the 1st Battle Squadron in the Mediterranean. He served on 6 battleships including the Barham, Nelson and Vanguard and two aircraft carriers the Courageous and the Ark Royal – not including time spend on a minesweeper and destroyers. He preferred serving on the bigger ships – they were more sturdy, stable and safe.

He was very proud to serve in the Royal Navy. Everyone in the ship, from admiral to seaboy, was literally in the same boat and shared the same fate. It wasn’t like the army where the general sat hundreds of miles away in safety ordering his soldiers over a phone to attack the enemy. The Navy wasn’t a cake ride but Bob said he had the time of his life. He got to travel to Malta, Gibraltar, Israel, various parts of the Mediterranean and even to North America.  Discipline was extreme but they were all volunteers so they didn’t complain too much.

 He met his future wife Elsie on October 4th, 1930 – 8.30pm Saturday evening. He was 18 years, 2 months old. He was serving on the battleship, the Royal Sovereign then. Whilst on shore leave, he met Elsie. It was very romantic. They walked pass each other in the street and glanced at each other for a brief moment and kept on walking. Then both of them turned back and gave each other a second glance. When Elsie saw Bob looking back at her, she got shy, and quickly walked away.

 It was love at first sight. So he ran up to her and being a true gentleman he politely asked her, “Excuse me, may I please escort you home and if you don’t mind, to extend our time together, might we walk a little slow?”

 After spending sometime with her, he liked her so much that he asked “If I may be so bold, and since you know your way around here – is there a longer route so that I may spend more time with you.” And she agreed.

 Finally, when it came time to say goodbye, he asked, “Let me write to you – but if someone you fancy comes by, you can go, but let me know.” And so they wrote to each other virtually every day. And one year, 5 months later – in May 1932- they had their first kiss.

 Bob had to write to Elsie often because his navy duty kept him at sea and foreign shores for many months. Years later he found that she kept all his letters – treasuring them and would read them repeatedly.

 He was the happiest man on earth when he was with Elsie. He took her to his parents for approval. His beloved mother loved her because Elsie had beautiful manners. Unfortunately, he felt he was a too poor to get married.

 Eight long years after they first met, Bob married Elsie on the 17th December 1938- both were age 26. Soon after, he was posted to the big aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal and it had to go to the Mediterranean for 3 months training. Elsie was angry when she heard about this and said - "Three months? What's that? A weekend?" It wasn’t a nice way to start a marriage. But he knew that war between Germany was close.

In 1939, war broke out with Nazi Germany and the Ark was sent straight to the Arctic to help the Norwegians. It was, one of the worse times in Bob’s life. The weather conditions were hellish and they were constantly under heavy air attack from the Luftwaffe and had many narrow misses. There's the photo with four big bomb splashes all around the Ark. Bob reckoned that one hit and the Ark would have probably blown up. The experience made Bob very religious.

One of the good aspects about the war was the faster pace of promotion. Soon after war broke out - one of the officers beckoned to Bob and asked him whether he wanted to get promoted. He said yes, sat for the exam and became a petty officer. By the end of the war he made senior petty officer - and he received his pension - indexed - since 1956, a nice tidy sum.

The Ark would play a vital role in the war – sailing to South America, the Arctic, the Atlantic, and the Med for various naval ops. Bob was very proud that his ship’s torpedo planes helped to sink the Monster Battleship Bismarck which you can see in this painting.  I bought it for Bob when I first met him. When he saw this picture, he was very touched.

Bob took part in Operational Pedestal in August 1942 which was an important convoy expedition to supply the important garrison at Malta with vital supplies. It was a horror. They were under heavy enemy attack and they lost eight ships out of 14 that took part. He saw things you wouldn’t believe, the funnels of merchant ships shooting out flames after they had been hit, warships on fire.

 The most frightening thing Bob saw was the sinking of the big aircraft carrier HMS Eagle. Bob saw the Eagle take four torpedo hits which caused it to immediate tilt heavily to one side. Sailors were jumping off the decks and desperately trying to swim away before the ship sink. In less than 8 minutes, the big warship had completely disappeared. Bob was horrified - the people under decks - in the engine room were trapped in the sinking ship. He worried it might be his turn next.

Bob was on board the Ark Royal when it too got sunk. They were on another trip to Malta and it was smooth sailing. They weren’t bombed. The weather was good. Unfortunately, out of nowhere they were struck by a torpedo from a German submarine, the U-81. For a moment, it looked as if the Ark was going to sink straight away. A lot of people jumped over the side, but the carrier seemed to recover.

 A destroyer came along side and evacuated the crew. Everyone eventually got off, except for the one casualty from the torpedo blast. A tug boat also came out and started towing the damaged Ark Royal. But after several hours, the flooding increased – and it sank.

 Bob loved the Ark Royal of all the ships he served on.  The Ark Royal throughout its short career was considered a lucky ship – it had been attacked many times, had many near misses and close calls with 1000 pound bombs and torpedoes, and the Germans and Italians claimed to have sunk it many times. This time however they did. But he told me: She was a real lady. When it was her turn to go, she waited until all her crew got off before she sank. The sea was calm, as flat as a pancake and the weather was beautiful. When I got to port, I telegraphed Elsie with the message, "Safe. Feet not wet."

For his service in the war and the navy, he was awarded these medals which I got professionally framed for him. Bob liked me a lot and we had a great time talking about his experiences in the war. He felt I should keep the medals because I would treasure their historical significance.

In the 1950s Bob was seconded to the Australian Navy and he found life so pleasant that he decided to migrate. He had to convince Elsie’s mother first. She was worried that Elsie would get eaten by the Aborigines. Elsie was also hesitant. But he told her- if she didn’t like it after the first year, they would pack their bags and go home.


However, she liked it and so they stayed on. Bob worked hard and saved enough money to buy Elsie a beautiful house in Ashburton, and they even got to travel around the whole of Australia. They loved each other dearly. It was a great shock to Bob when Elsie died in 1995. She was his soul mate and he mourned her deeply. He couldn’t get over her loss and cried a lot. Thankfully, God directed good people into his life to befriend him at his time of need and to help him cope. You know who you are.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

24,000 Scuba Dives to recover Buried Trasure

Divers unveil Java Sea treasure trove

In a non-descript warehouse in Jakarta, treasure hunter Luc Heymans dips into plastic boxes and pulls out jewels and ornaments that lay hidden at the bottom of the Java Sea for 1,000 years.

The find, including artefacts from China's Five Dynasties period from 907 to 960 AD and ancient Egypt, is already causing a stir among archaeologists who say the cargo sheds new light on how ancient merchant routes were forged.

An ornately sculpted mirror of polished bronze is one masterpiece among the 250,000 artefacts recovered over the last 18 months from a boat that sank off Indonesia's shores in the 10th century.

On a small mould is written the word "Allah" in beautiful Arabic script, on top of a lid sits a delicately chiselled doe.

Tiny perfume flasks accompany jars made of baked clay, while slender-necked vases fill the shelves of the hangar along with brightly coloured glassware from the Fatimides dynasty that once ruled ancient Egypt.

A team of divers, among them three Australians, two Britons, three French, three Belgians and two Germans, excavated the vessel laden with rare ceramics which sank more than 1,000 years ago about 130 nautical miles from Jakarta.

Archaeological treasures

"It is a completely exceptional cargo," Mr Heymans said, the Belgian chief of the excavation team.

"There is very little information about the Five Dynasties era and very few things in the museums. This wreck fills a hole."

Close to 14,000 pearls and a profusion of precious stones were found in the wreck, including some 4,000 rubies, 400 dark red sapphires, and more than 2,200 garnets.

"On the second last day of diving, I spotted some broken ceramics. Under 30 centimetres of vase, I uncovered the handle of a golden sabre," Daniel Visnikar, the leading French diver, said.

Salvage operation

It took more than 24,000 dives to recover all the treasure from the boat that rests 54 metres below the surface.

Material recovered from the site has whetted the appetite of overseas experts.

"A 10th century wreck is very rare, there are only a few," Jean-Paul Desroches said, a curator at the Guimet Museum in Paris, after seeing photographs of the early hauls.

He says the wreck and its cargo offers clues to how traders using the Silk Road linking China to Europe and the Middle East, used alternative sea routes as China's merchants moved south because of invasions from the north.

The variety of loot pulled from the depths is hard to imagine: dishes adorned with dragons, parakeets and other birds; porcelain with finely-carved edges; teapots decorated with lotus flowers; and celadon plates with their glaze intact.

"These porcelains come from a very special kiln, an imperial kiln, perhaps from the province of Hebei in the north of China," Peter Schwarz, a German ceramics specialist, said.


Mr Heymans insisted the treasure - the subject of controversy when the divers were chased from their barge in the open-sea by the Indonesian navy last November - was stored in a comprehensive and transparent manner.

"Every piece is indexed and we know which part of the boat it comes from. Every week we sent (the Indonesian authorities) a DVD with digital photographs of all the pieces," he said.

As well being chased by the Indonesian Navy, an incident that began a long dispute over the booty, Mr Heymans says another group of treasure hunters also tried to move in on the swag.

The divers say the treasures might be bought by a foreign museum or are expected to be shown between 2006 and 2007 in an auction, as the cargo is valued at several million dollars.

Indonesia will receive 50 per cent of proceeds from the sale of the treasures.


(I think they meant some Indonesian General will get it)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Finding Nemo - Documentary

Hey, I found Nemo. lol. This video was shot off Pulau Dayang, Malaysia - the camera used is a FUJI F31D. Depth is about 10 - 15m underwater. Current was strong as you can see.

Scuba Diving with Nemo

Plenty of clown fish in the waters off Malaysia. This one at Pulau Dayang. I used a FUJI F31D with the FUJI underwater housing to take the shots. The current was strong. And I didn't have a red filter.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

French Rogue Trader could have lost 80 BILLION Dollars

Amazing - this one trader working for a major French Bank - think of our DBS or NAB has practically bankrupted the company. He had a working knowledge of the security systems - and fudged the records - and lost nearly 8 billion US dollars in share trading. Apparently, it could have been much much worse. He could have lost 80 billion. Scary.

Peter Wilson, Europe correspondent | January 26, 2008

THE SCARIEST thing about Jerome Kerviel is not that he managed to commit the world's biggest solo bank fraud of E4.9billion ($8.2 billion).

The truly frightening thing is that the damage could have been much, much worse because the 31-year-old junior trader at French giant Societe Generale had worked out how to beat the security systems of one of the world's great banks.

If the nondescript young trader had not made one relatively simple error last Friday he could have cost his bank 10 times as much money, wreaking enough damage to threaten banks and economies around the world.

As it is, Kerviel, a low-flyer who was never going to be a star banker, contributed to this week's massive sell-off of shares around the world, reducing the savings of millions of investors and helping to push the US Federal Reserve into its biggest interest rate cuts in two decades.

Kerviel's secret build-up of massive speculative investments in the name of Societe Generale forced the bank to launch a costly fire sale that we now know exacerbated the fall in share prices from Sydney to New York.

Embarrassed bank officials in Paris have revealed that Kerviel's unauthorised trades cost his employer four times the losses accrued by Nick Leeson, the man who broke Barings Bank, and 22 times those of the rogue currency traders who cost NAB $360million in 2004.

It was scandals such as those that led banks around the world to spend hundreds of millions of dollars devising sophisticated systems to prevent further frauds by keeping tight controls on their own traders. SocGen alone has a compliance team of more than 2000 workers, with instant checks on cash flows, and computerised alert systems to detect suspicious activity.

The man in charge of those defences, SocGen corporate and investment banking chief Jean-Pierre Mustier, was driving home on Friday night when he got a call telling him something was wrong.

When he got back to the bank's glass office tower in La Defense, the business district in the west of Paris, Mustier was told that a compliance officer had detected something fishy about a transaction.

It was the early hours of Saturday before Mustier and his team realised that Kerviel seemed to be behind the problematic trade.

Kerviel had begun his career eight years earlier in the unglamorous middle and back offices that help supervise the traders.

A clean-cut, good-looking man who had graduated from a mid-ranking university in Lyons with a masters degree in finance, he spent five years learning the details of the compliance system.

A judo teacher and excellent English speaker, he was also something of a computer geek and took a close interest in how the various security systems worked to monitor the traders.

Some banks make a point of keeping people with those skills away from the trading floor to stop gamekeepers becoming poachers, but the backroom people often agitate for a chance to move over to where the bigger salaries are.

Kerviel was given his chance in 2005, although his salary package stayed below E100,000 ($165,000), less than 10 per cent that of a star trader.

His job was to place relatively simple transactions to reduce the risk of other investments.

If the bank's traders bet heavily that the German market would fall, he was supposed to make balancing investments in case they were wrong. But that is not what he did.

Late last year, he started taking his own punts on the markets, using his computer skills and understanding of the compliance systems to remove the limits on the amounts he was authorised to invest.

Kerviel got around the detection systems by setting up fake companies to hide his rapidly growing transactions. Using other traders' passwords, he hacked into the system to approve his own trades and skilfully "switched off" the automatic warning systems designed to flag any unusual trading patterns.

Bank executives say they only detected a problem last Friday because he forgot to turn off those alarms on one transaction.

On Saturday afternoon, Kerviel was called in from his $3300-a-month apartment in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a walking distance from the office, and locked in a glass conference room with Mustier and his team for questioning that went all night.

"He said he had come up with a great new trading strategy, and if he was given time it would make a lot of money for the bank," one executive said.

He had made a small profit last year and some losses in the past few weeks but they could be turned around, he insisted.

To their horror, Mustier's team discovered he had placed bets worth more than $80 billion of the bank's money.

"He understood he was taking huge positions but I don't think he understood the impact," Mustier said.

"He kept telling me during the night that he had discovered a new trading technique which was performing very well."

The bank insists he worked alone, and Daniel Bouton, the chairman and chief executive, said Kerviel was not siphoning off any money for himself.

"His motives are totally irrational. It doesn't seem that he was able to benefit from these colossal trades and directly he did not."

Philippe Collas, of the bank's global investment management division, said: "This wasn't done to get rich. What was his motive? I don't know. Maybe he wanted to prove himself. It's difficult to get money out of a bank -- as soon as you try you will leave atrace."

Executives speculate that he may have wanted attention or approval. Others say he had recently suffered personal problems including a family death -- believed to have been his father -- and a break-up with his girlfriend.

Kerviel had gambled on European markets rising, and when he helped Mustier to uncover his punts they showed losses of E1.4billion ($2.34billion).

The bank decided those investments would have to be quickly and quietly sold off when trading resumed on Monday.

"We had no choice," Mustier said. "For the sake of our shareholders we cannot speculate with such a large position."

Bouton said: "If we had announced it on Monday morning, the loss (for the bank) would have been 10 times higher. Its scale would have destabilised the whole market."

To keep a lid on things they allowed Kerviel to go home, rather than reporting him to police.

He kept his passport, but his lawyer said yesterday: "He is not running away. He is at the disposal of the police."

The problem was that it proved a disastrous time to be selling.

In the early hours of Monday in Paris as they drew up their plans for the sell-off, the Australian market was tanking, suffering its biggest fall since the 1987 crash. Tokyo followed it down and the French were locked into selling into a falling market.

By some estimates, SocGen's sales added 10 per cent to the volume of sales of European indices futures, exacerbating the price falls.

The slumping prices prompted the interest rate cut by the US Federal Reserve, which had not been alerted to the French bank's sell-off.

The falling markets tripled the bank's losses on Kerviel's deals. Six of his supervisors have since been sacked, SocGen's credit rating has been downgraded, and trust in even the most elite banks has been badly dented.

Without that single slip-up last Friday, Kerviel would have been free to plunge his bank even deeper into the red, and there is no reason to believe "le rogue trader" was the only trader in the world capable of breaking a bank.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

I still can't believe

I still am amazed that one rogue trader in a big French Bank lost nearly 7.6 BILLION American Dollars in trading losses. Don't you wish for the good old days when the banker would steal some money - say a million or so - and run off to the Swiss Alps? And get caught in Geneva by interpol.

In this case- the Bank has totally lost the money. 7.6 billion dollars.

how many zeros those that make???

lets see.

7 600 000 000. Doesn't seem like a lot now does it.

You could buy a lot of Fergus hamburgers for that.

Its sad but the trader was just trying to meet his quota and make up for his losses and it just quickly spiralled quickly out of control. A bit like a gambler at the casino.

He should have just been straightforward dishonest and just walked off with a million dollars in his brief case. And gone to Bora Bora and buy himself a different identity.

Trust the French to screw up the party

Societe Generale Is Hit by 4.9 Billion Euros Fraud

Societe Generale has uncovered a fraud by one of its traders which will have a 4.9-billion-euro ($7.16 billion) negative impact on the group, France's second-largest listed bank said on Thursday.

The bank also announced further writedowns of 2.05 billion euros related to the global credit crunch and said it would raise 5.5 billion euros through a capital increase to strengthen its balance sheet.

SocGen also said its board had rejected an offer by Chairman and Chief Executive Daniel Bouton to resign.

The bank said it was in the process of dismissing the Paris-based trader and added that the trader's managers would leave the company.

The fraud echoes a similar blow last year to France's biggest retail bank, Credit Agricole, which in September announced a 250 million euro charge related to an unauthorised trading position.

Banks around the world have been hit by credit market losses related to U.S. subprime mortgages. These mortgages are the riskiest property loans, often extended to people who have payment difficulties or a bad credit history.

SocGen shares closed down 4.15 percent at 79.08 euros on Wednesday. The stock has fallen around 20 percent since the start of 2008.

The stock's opening will be delayed, traders said.

Copyright 2008 Reuters. Click for restrictions.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

B-29 Superfortress wreck near Mersing, Malaysia

I thought this was far fetched. But apparently long ranged B-29 bombers operated from India against Japanese strongholds in South East Asia.

One of the "Super Fortress" bombers crashed near Mersing. Possibly near Aur.

Details here:

Its serial number was 42-65226 - crashed in 11th January 1945.

More photos of B-29s here:

Apparently a group of divers discovered the wreck in the late 1990s.

For some reason - this blog entry is not appearing in the main page or blog page. I don't know why.

Ride to Paradise

This is a video I made sometime ago. You have to get into that blog entry to access the link; you can't do it from the main Homepage. Enjoy!!

I used my trusty old Canon IXUS 40 to take the video and photo shots.

Update: Sorry, the link got broken for some reason. I fixed it now- but this time it will direct you to the video page.

New Zealand Queenstown Ski trip

Lol Lord of the Rings!!!

I went up to Queenstown, New Zealand in 2003 with a group of my friends for skiing. Organized by Joy, it was as usual an awesome trip. Joy is a fantastic organizer - she should join the UN and help save the world. Sadly the snow was rather slushy that season- not fine and powdery - but wet and icy. But its still amazing. We stayed at a great 4 star chalet - all 10 of us. Thanks to Joy, we got a great deal, it cost us A$800 for virtually everything!! Car hire, ski hire, lift passes, the accomodation and the food (which we cooked ourselves) (Excluding air fare of course). The food was DIVINE - honestly I nearly wept with tears of joy when I ate fried fresh salmon trout - which Ferry caught - it was HUGE nearly 1m long).

For meat lovers - there's this place called Fergus Burger - just a hole in the wall hamburger joint in the town. They used prime NZ beef for their burgers - and their sourdough bread was fresh. If you love food- you must try it one day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Apparently, you won't say this. Because by the time, you realize the shark is trying to eat you alive - you've half way down its mouth.

I'm watching the National Geographic Shark Attack week on my cable tv. And its scaring the pants out of me.

What I find really moronic are the stupid bastards who "try and understand" the predator shark and make all sorts of compassionate hippy theories about them.

If you want to study them, fine. Great. But don't try and treat them like your pet dog. They aren't your friend just because you've been feeding them bait for the whole morning.

There was this marijuana nutcracker who studies the animals by wading into a shark infested reef pool. Apparently, he enjoys being shark bait in much the same way as some 14 year old girls like sending pictures of themselves to strange men. Imagine his surprise when one of the Bull sharks came up like a hungry dog, sniffed at his lily white leg like it was a KFC drum stick - and took a big bite out it. There's a poor quality youtube video of the incident - click here.

The hippy scientist was saying he was so surprised - and mused whether he did anything to provoke the attack - and going into the usual sort of lefty introspection that makes you certain that taking LSD in the 60s has serious long term effects.

FER CRYING OUT LOUD you grass muncher - its a bull shark. Its an animal with big scary teeth- what else is there to understand???

And I watched to my horror as the dickwad waded back into the same reef pool - without any protection except for his GAIA I'm one with the Universe beliefs

 - and tempted fate again.

If i was there I would have thrown a hunk of fresh bloody steak into the pool and filmed the carnage for Youtube. - I'd entitle it - "Man proves that Tiger Sharks are not Vegans. Period"

You can read the horror stories here - Stories of Sharks Eating People

And if you have the stomach - you can watch this video - warning - its a scene of a real shark attack and plenty of people swearing and screaming. Click on the photo below. Her name is Heather Boswell and she was on a research ship. Off the coast of Chile, together with others- she went for a swim. A shark was spotted and she was the slowest swimmer and got bitten as a result.

Update: Here's another story of a "scientist", Erich Ritter, who thought that yoga would help protect him from sharks. No it didn't

Update: Comment by Rocky - After watching the escapades of Dr. Eric Ritter and other shark scientists and naturalists I am reminded of the anitics of Timothy Treadwell, the now infamous Grizzly Man (who was eaten by a bear together with his new girlfriend).

Eric Ritter who free-swims with and anthropomorphizes Tiger Sharks is engaging in behavior almost identical to Treadwell and will, in time, almost certainly pay the same price. Dr. Ritter, standing in the well chummed shallows filled with sharks was asking for what he got. That he says he now "feel[s] even closer to [sharks] than before" is an indication of serious underlying psychological problems.

Sharks are not evil, but they are instinctively predatory animals. They kill other animals to eat them. If you get in their way they are perfectly capable of killing you too, even if it is only with an 'exploritory bite' without feeling the slightest bit of remorse. I have great respect for sharks and want to conserve them for the good of the oceans' ecosystems, but to anthropomorphize and romanticise them is idiotic.

Obviously, not Bambi.

Maldives Dive 24th May - June 4th

Date of Journey

24th May – 4th June 2008. LOB dates: 25th May – 3rd June (9 nights)


MV Eagle Ray




100 X 25 Feet ≈ 33.3 X 7.5 Meters

Cost of Chartering Boat

1980 USD/ night X 9 nights = 17, 820 USD


Candies Hotel (4*)

Cost of Stay for 1 night (Arrival night)

102 USD/room/night X 7 rooms X 1 night = 714 USD

Total Cost

17, 820 + 714 = 18,534 USD

Cost for 14 paxs

1324 USD ≈ 1400 USD ≈ 2,031.68 SGD 2, 100 SGD

Cost for 12 paxs

1544.50 USD ≈ 1600 USD ≈ 2,301.39 SGD  2, 400 SGD.

Total Dives

26 max (Depending on weather conditions). For sample itinerary, please refer below.


1,000 SGD on SQ for every 2 flying on promotion now. (Refunds will be made as this is an overestimate.)


1)      Full board during LOB

2)      Tea and coffee

3)      1.5l mineralized water/day/pax

4)      Tank and weights

5)      1 night BBQ on island.

6)      Land transfers


Meals on land.

Anything not mentioned

Maldives LOB (24th May – 4th June 2008)


I am making this trip 12 pax to go. Therefore my original selling price now is 3,500 SGD (incl. air tixs). Once I have confirmation of 14 pax, I would refund 400 SGD per pax to bring down the price to 3,100 SGD (incl. air tixs) per pax.


The extra 100 SGD per pax will be used to offset any fluctuations in currency exchange during the process of booking.


If you wish to get your own air tickets, 1,000 SGD will be deducted accordingly.


As I have to pay a deposit of 1,500 USD by end of December 2007, I would like to seek your cooperation in finalizing the number of people by then too. This is to facilitate my decision making process.


Payment details are as follows,

  1. 20% upon confirmation
  2. 30% by Janurary
  3. Remaining 50% by Feburary.

Maldives 24th May – 4th June 2008

(Suggested Itinerary for Diving)


24th May: 2035H SQ flight to Maldives.

Upon arrival stay at Candies hotel for the night


25th May: Check in to MV Eagle Ray.

Tour introduction & Formalities & Dive Gear Set up

  • Maa Giri (North Male’ Atoll) Check-out Dive
  • Kuda Giri (South Male’)
  • Biya Giri (South Male’)

Over night at Guradhoo (Village)


26th May

  • Guradhhu Channel (South Male’)
  • Miyaru Kandu (Felidhe Atoll)
  • Golden Wall (Felidhe Atoll)

Over night at Fotheyo (Sand Bank)


27th May

  • Cherry Caves (Felidhe Atoll)
  • Fushi Kandu (Felidhe Atoll)
  • Golden Wall (Felidhe Atoll)

Over night at Felidhu (Fishing Village)


28th May

  • Matha Kandu (Felidhe Atoll)
  • Boli Rock (Felidhe Atoll)

4 hours channel crossing to South Ari Atoll

  • Kuda Rah tila (South Ari)

Over night at Dhangethi (developed village)

29th May

  • Don Tila (South Ari atoll)
  • Didhu Goni (South Ari atoll)
  • Rangali Manta Point (West Ari)

Over night at kuda Digga (deserted island)


30th May

  • Kala Handi (West Ari)
  • Hemandhoo Tila (West Ari)
  • Malos Tila (West Ari)

Over night at Ranfaru (Reef ring)


31st May

  • Malos Tila (West Ari)
  • Fesdhu Wreck (Mid Ari)
  • Fish Head (Mid Ari)

Over night at Faana Mudu (Reef ring)


1st June

  • Fish Head (Mid Ari)
  • Maya Tila (North Ari)
  • Rashdhoo Channel

Over night at Rasdoo Ring


2nd June

  • Rashoo Channel (Rashdhoo Atoll)

4hrs channel crossing back to north Male’ Atoll

  • Lion head (North Male’ Atoll)
  • Last dive by 1700H for 24h de-gassing period.

Over night at Merina


3rd June

After breakfast pack dive gear & luggage

2315H local time flight back to Singapore


4th June

Arrival Singapore at 0700H


















Stock Market horror

What a mess. The German Stockmarket is down a full 6% at this moment. The UK market, the "footsie" is down over 3% and I won't be surprised if it closes at minus 5%.

I've been warning about this for sometime. But that crazy massive rise in August to November - made me look worse than a total moron, a right ding dong.

Just learnt that someone, whom I was (trying to) help, threw in her entire life savings into the market in November- having made a huge bundle in the October rally on her own initiative. She got furious at me when I warned her back then. I told her, repeatedly, after she made a huge fortune enough to buy a big house, to give it a rest and end the year on a high note. "Take a six month holiday", I said. "Put the money in the bank".

But no, she didn't want to listen to me anymore- and instead sunk everything she had into the market. Now all her gains made in 2007 has just been totally wiped out. She's got to suck eggs now.

Oh well... she never listens to me. Its as if she wants to prove me wrong. Everytime we have an argument, she turns it into a personal quarrel. Why do I even bother?

Anyways, looks like this is the start of a bear market. Meaning, stocks will go down rather than up. And it will probably stay that way for a good quarter. If its really bad, then we are going to see a repeat of the yucky period from 2000 - 2003. Plenty of volatility - but basically on average - everything trends downwards and downwards.

Next stop for the STi ? Probably heading towards 2600 - and then it better bottom out.

And for the more important issue... the Dow. Well, it'll probably head towards 10,000 before consolidating. And if things are fubar - then a slow slide toward 8000. Hopefully the carnage will stop sometimes then. Perhaps we are seeing one of the turning points in history, when America's dominance fades away.

Personally I hope this shock will wake up the Yanks from their idiotic decadence and force them to start doing some serious deep thinking. By decadence, I mean - a dismal education system, a culture that glorifies consumsion, base individualism, a bloated bureaucracy, inept politicians, partisan media, and an economy that's actually dependent upon consumer power.

I think it's exemplified by the media cult glorifying the rich and stupid - ie Paris Hilton - where she has whole legion trying to emulate her "style".

The other sign is the SUV (and hoon car) craze in the States (as well as here). I don't understand why we allow these "gas guzzling dinosaurs" to be roaming on our streets. Haven't we learnt anything from the 1970s oil crisis? That should have been warning enough.

In the 1940s and 1950s, people just wanted to work hard, build a family and home. Now people want to get laid and have their photos on TV.

Weekly Chart of the Dow Jones Industrial

Monday, January 21, 2008

Keong Saik Road walk (25 May 2007)

You have to check out Bianca's photos of Singapore. Click here Link.

Its takes a good eye, good photography, to take a brilliant new perspective.

Sometimes we walk pass beauty and treat it as common.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

An evening at Kevin's

A pleasant way to spend a Saturday evening - with friends, good food, good wine.

I was advised by Jolly it started at 5pm. I got there late at 5.30. Its 30 minutes drive away from my place, 30km away. Had to drive there slowly cos the speed limit was 60km/h and I hate getting speed camera fines (which cost from A$200 upwards).

I was amazed that I was the first person at the scene. All the others - including Jolly - showed up an hour later. Duhhh...

Kevin's got a nice place- he stays at poshy suburb of Brighton - only about 5 minutes drive from the beach. But apparently, he and his lovely wife will be moving to a new bigger house they're building.

I got propositioned by one of the married moms - but only to be asked to become her gardener. She chopped down her trees and laid waste to her garden. And now doesn't know what to put inside. lol. Maybe I shouldn't have put up the gardening advice on my blog. haha.

Everyone had to go home early because their babies had to go to sleep. lol. A sign of the times, eh?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

How the Zoo got its name: TF2 Soldier Explains

After reading too many WW2 comics in his youth, and being teased mercilessly in high school, Virgil Herman Gaiman, went insane and did experimental dentistry with the bullies in his class with a home made RPG made for his show and tell. Listen to the nutcase, explain how the zoo got its name. Obviously, history wasn't his best subject.

The Andaman Sea: Scuba diving off Burma's coast

Check it out. Blue on Blue. Scuba diving in the Andaman Sea.


Click onto the photo to get to her site.

From Wiki:

The Andaman Sea (Burmese: [moʊʔtəma̰]) is a body of water to the southeast of the Bay of Bengal, south of Myanmar, west of Thailand and east of the Andaman Islands; it is part of the Indian Ocean. It is roughly 1200 kilometres long (north-south) and 650 kilometres wide (east-west), with an area of 797,700 km². Its average depth is 870 meters, and the maximum depth is 3,777 meters.

At its southeastern reaches, the Andaman Sea narrows to form the Straits of Malacca, which separate the Malay Peninsula from the island of Sumatra.

Friday, January 18, 2008

WHO TOUCHED SASHA?! Meet the Sensitive Big Man of Team Fortress

Women nowadays complain that the men today lack leadership, lack strength... well duh stop going out with Justin Timberlake-wannabes then. Anyways, meet Hans, the Heavy Weapons Guy, he's very sensitive and caring. But only if you are a $400,000 Gatling Gun Spewing bullet machine.

TF2 Team Fortress 2 - Meet the Engineer!!!

The Engineer is one of the characters you get to play in TF2. He gets to build a powerful machine gun and teleporters- transporting your troops from their base to the front line - which could make a difference between victory and ignomish defeat. You can also get him to taunt the enemy with a song and dance.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Afternoon at Hedy's

My old bible study group came and met up at Hedy's place on Sunday. Kenneth one of our friends was visiting from Singapore.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Team Fortress - mod for Half Life 2

Category:Video Games
Genre: Action
Console:PC Games
Tired of playing realistic war games that give you heart attacks? How about something fun? Playing computer games is suppose to be tension relieving; nowadays the games are so realistic that they give you post-traumatic syndromes.

Check this video out. Team Fortress video

Its good fun. There is no one single character that dominates - all of them have various weaknesses.

The one I'm good at is the demoman - who can throw explosives and place charges hidden behind walls to booby trap an unsuspecting enemy.

But the character that seems most interesting is the spy. Click on the link below.

Spy: Sneaky, Subversive, all round bad guy

The game is well designed. It feels like being in a Pixar movie! "The Incredibles". The funny Eastern European style music, the cutish 1950s props, and the multiple amusing taunts you can use with the individual characters.

But enough with my boring review. Play the game!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How to make Excellent Garden Compost - Living in Australia series

I was tempted to use a rude word to describe this - but I'll leave the obscenities for my accountant. :)

Living in Australia, most Singaporeans dream of buying a big home with a big garden.

What they fail to realize is that gardeners here are paid $20 - $30 an hour. And it usually takes about 3+ hours a day to make your garden look good. Real Good.

See the photo. That's the front part of my garden awhile ago. It took me personally a good three months plus over $500 in seeds to get that effect. And what an effect it is - it even totally awestruck TT Quah, one of the best preachers here.

But more to composting. Why compost? Because you need good organic material for your garden. Often the best way is to - do it yourself - so that you can eliminate adding extra weeds to your garden.

Sure, you can get free compost, or even pay for it. Its about $3 for 10kg - which sounds like a lot but actually isn't once you spread it onto the garden). However, invariably you'll be introducing new nasty weeds into your garden.

If you do it yourself - you can control what your compost has. The main thing to put into your compost bin are finely minced up garden clippings - with the same consistency of your lawn mower's clippings. It would help if you mow your lawn regularly- not only does it prevent the weeds from seeding - but mowing it regularly will give you compost material that does not contain weed seeds.

So how does it work? The finely minced up organic material kept in this dark container- will slowly decompose. The minute organic bugs will happily eat away - so long as its all nicely minced up for them. Adding earth worms will hasten the process and add extra joy to the compost power. As the worms chew and digest the organic material - they will leave behind an extremely good garden soil. It does not stink and its extremely rich in plant nutrients. In fact, good completed garden compost has no odor and smells very fresh.

The best stuff to put in are lawn clippings (that contain not much seeds), leaves, machine shredded black/white newspaper, hedge clippings etc..

Once you filled up the bin, close the lid and wait. The whole process should take about 2 - 3 months or so - depending on how well you did your compost. The heat generated inside the compost bin should also kill whatever garden seeds and weeds that got in. Whatever you do, do not throw in big and hard stuff like wood branches, etc..

If you throw in anything bigger or non-organic it won't work and will go wrong. You're going to end up with a bin filled with matted hard crap. So DO NOT throw in bones, egg shells, tree branches, twigs, hard plant stems, glossy paper, stone, nuclear waste, clothes hangers, cigarette butts, clothes, depleted uranium ammo, unshredded stacks of newspapers, and worse of all plastic bags.

They just won't break down at all, they WON'T! They'll just turn dry and start to fossilize. They'll also bind together to hinder the decomposition process and ruin everything. For goodness sake look at the worm, its got a tiny mouth- how do you expect it (and its microscopic companion buddies) to chew thru that big hefty cardboard sheet!? Its like giving a baby steak and chunky beef to eat.

If you work in an office and have access to shredded paper documents, it works wonders for the compost bin. All the endless garbage that they spew out during those mind boring committee meetings, CEO's memos, and human resource newsletters turns into excellent crap. But only if you shred them. If you throw them in unshredded- it will just overwhelm the compost bin and shut down the decomposition process, ie. constipation. lol.

I guess you could throw in whole fruits though. Apples, Watermelon rinds, etc.. But don't throw in citrus fruits ie. oranges, lemons, or even their skins, etc.. The worms hate them.

(Update: Jeremy just reminded me that chillies and capsicum are also not appropriate for compost bins. I guess the same goes for peppers, spicies, curry, etc.. They'll just kill the worms.)

Avoid throwing in cooked waste food though, gravy, fried rice, leftover pizza, KFC, especially meat. It will attract rats and maggots.

Is setting up a compost bin easy to do? Sure it is. But you have to be careful what you put inside- and where you position the compost bin. Put it next to a west facing wall and the Sun will kill the earthworms inside and you'll have a horrible mess.

You can get commercial (plastic) compost bins- that are about $50.  But basically you need something to contain the compost, and help it retain heat and moisture at the same time. Think of a bottomless pot- with a lid on top. You can't use a garden bin- its too tight and the oxygen will run out and the worms will die. So I guess you can build one yourself out of stone and wood.

Now did I make myself clear?

Right on the trend line

Looks like we are testing the trend line for the SGX. Next stop is the level  tested in July. Whole market gone to hell. Best to stay away from the trading for the moment, take a holiday man.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Ah WTH??? As some of my friends know I do quite a bit of share trading- I'm sloppy with the paper work - actually pretty horrible. So I got a letter from the tax office with a big please explain.

It was sent to my Australia home in September; and I didn't get it until I came back in November.


I freaked out. I called my accountant, Edward Gw3e & Co, and explained the problem. I've talked to him in the past many times- but each time he shoved the problem back to me and told me to go fix it myself. This time, he recommended a book keeper to help me out. So I met with the book keeper - and got her to help me get my books in order.

Two months later and after spending a lot of cash, (enough for a downpayment) the book keeper presents me with a ton of files and the required EXCEL spread sheets. But the accountant's staff are not happy jan. They call me up and says one or two items seem to be missing - why don't you call up your broking house and get the statements?

So I do.

Then it turns out that the broking houses since last year- have sorted out their clients' trading data and placed it into an Excel spreadsheet- which you can download (provided you know where to look for it on the damn website).

Which means.... the poor book keeper's time (and my wallet) got totally wasted for bloody f*all.


I felt absolutely sick.

When my book keeper learnt about it - she got really pissed off. Our accountant should have asked us - at the very bloody beginning - to get the documents and spreadsheets off the brokers.

Admittedly, I should have known about this service. I asked about it in 2005 but this service was only started in 2006. And I wasn't informed.

However the accountant - being in the business of record keeping so to speak - (and being a share trader himself) should have been aware that broking houses now provide Excel spreadsheet records.

Only thing I can do now is to laugh it off... or scream.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A love song in the Bible

Few people read the Song of Solomon in the Bible. Its tucked away in the middle, somewhere after an even smaller Ecclesiastes.

Very fewer preachers preach about it - and for good reason. The ones that try to expound from it - usually claim that its a prophetic book about Jesus and his love for the church or something along those lines - it makes them look silly. There are a number of obvious sexual references which throws some serious doubt about its higher theological claims. And as the most people well know, Solomon was quite the ladies man.

Anyhow, why can't we just take this book as a celebration of love between two lovers? And what's so wrong about that? After all, God created Eve to be a companion to Adam. Not that He had to, but who's complaining :)

I like this verse though- its a bit gothic nonetheless:

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.
Song of Solomon 8:6

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mini Cooper (modern)

I really like the look of the new Mini-Cooper- Its very attractive, especially in the cherry red color and white racing strips. If it was in any other color, except perhaps the metallic blue, it would look decidedly ordinary.

It handles quite well and has good accleration. You do feel the bumps and pebbles in the road though.

The price here in Melbourne seems ok. For around $35,000 for the standard edition (including the sun-roof etc..), I think its alright for a unique car.

Plus I know that it will fit into my current garage (which also houses the Volvo) and it won't scrap my steep driveway when it drives up. I've ruined 3 sets of exhaust/mufflers on my vintage Beetle by doing that already.

The mini's got a BMW build, but doesn't look ostentious. Its relatively fast but isn't a boy-racer. Its claimed to do 100km with only 5.9litres of petrol. And its doesn't look average like the usual crowd.

Its also pretty smart. Its inbuilt computer system will alert you if any part needs changing. So you only change the part when the computer thinks its worn out. Maintenance is suppose to cost only $400 a year. WT?? And it does not have a fan belt to change. Amazing.

Its a bit of a girl car though admitedly. Too compact, too cute, just too pretty.

A good reason not to do drugs.

Its amazing how drugs, esp. illegal drugs, can screw up the brain and make you do stupid things.

But this one has to take the cake.

Two men, aged 60s, debris from the Hippy era and both heroin addicts, wanted to cash their recently deceased friend's social welfare cheque. The clerk at the store insisted that he had to come in person to cash it - not them.

So they go back home, pull their dead friend out of bed, dress him up... only they can't get his pants all the way up. So they pull over a jacket over the exposed groin, then they put him on an office chair which they stole - and wheeled the very dead looking corpse - to the store in broad daylight in rush hour.

They were so desperate to cash the cheque that they ignored the inquisitive policeman who kept on asking whether their friend was alright.

You can read the crazy story here: Hippies are stupid


Friday, January 11, 2008

Differences between Men and Women

Hey check it out.

Scientists have discovered what parents have known all along, and social scientists refuse to believe - that Men and Women are Different.

Here's one from me.

Generally, men have fantasies of having more "girlfriend(s)" than they need whilst women  have fantasies of having more shoes and dresses than they need.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Christianity, Censorship and living a Christian life

This is a good read for Christians. Click here for Nora and Charles' take on Christian living.

I like this part.

Until you change the heart of the person so they don't get off on gratuitous violence, revel in hatred or see sex as some sort of spectator sport instead of an intimate act of love, no amount of government regulation or control is going to stop it.

It's a pointless and fruitless exercise. Christians are called upon to make their own hearts right on a daily basis.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Center of the Bible

I don't know how accurate this is. But it uplifted my soul. Got a call from my accountant's worker who I think is incompetent - and she complained that she can't locate some bank documents and thinks the P/L is totally wrong. Neither did she apologize for screwing up three entries in the last year. I don't have the documents so I can't verify her complaints.

Anyhow read on...
Center of the Bible
The pictures are awesome.... but wait until you read the words.

Q: What is the shortest chapter in the Bible?

A: Psalms 117

Q: What is the longest chapter in the Bible?

A: Psalms 119

Q: Which chapter is in the center of the Bible?

A: Psalms 118

Fact: There are 594 chapters before Psalms 118

Fact: There are 594 chapters after Psalms 118

Add these numbers up and you get 1188.

Q:? What is the center verse in the Bible?

A: Psalms 118:8

Q:? Does this verse say something significant about God's perfect will for our lives?

The next time someone says they would like to find

God's perfect will for their lives and that they want to

be in the center of His will, just send them to the

center of His Word!

Psalms 118:8

"It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man."

Now isn't that odd how this worked out (or was God in the center of it)?

Before sending this I said a prayer for you. Got a minute?? 60 seconds for God?

All you do is say a small prayer for the person who sent you this.........

"Father God bless my friend in whatever it is that you know

he/she may be needing this day!

And may his/her life be full of your peace,

prosperity and power as he/she seeks to have a

closer relationship with You.


Pray for 10 people. Then sit back and watch the power of God work in your life...

When things get tough, always remember...

Faith doesn't get you around trouble, it gets you through it !!

God Bless You!