Posts about travel

My year in cities, 2010

I’ve probably travelled more for work and leisure this year than in my entire life. Here is a list of cities I’ve spent one or more nights in 2010.

Fort Polk, LA*
Seattle, WA
DeRidder, LA*
El Paso, TX
Las Vegas, NV
Tucson, AZ
Jonestown, PA
Singapore, Singapore
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
Los Angeles, CA

Those cities marked with an * were visited multiple times.

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In the cold

baggage handlersClick to view larger image

Baggage handlers in the cold.

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Hello Seattle

Seattle Space NeedleClick to view larger image

Beautiful day at Seattle’s Space Needle.

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Goodbye Nashville

Departing NashvilleClick to view larger image

Departing Nashville, Tennessee after a good 5 day working trip.

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On board American Airline heading for Nashville

Packed aircraftClick to view larger image

On board American Airline heading for Nashville, TN. Very full flight for a Monday morning. Flight is being delayed while maintenance attempt to repair holes found in cargo floor compartment. What an exciting way to start off the week.

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Sunset

Hello Oklahoma

Japan airlines real-time flight video

Japan airlines real-time video screenClick to view larger image

I was absolutely amazed and impressed with the idea of viewing real-time flight profile video broadcasted from the flight deck when I took Japan Airlines recently.

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Hello Tokyo

Tokyo Narita InternationalClick to view larger image

1.5 hours stopover at Tokyo Narita international airport before boarding the plane for another 10 hours of the journey.

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Goodbye Atlanta

Goodbye AtlantaClick to view larger image

Lining up on Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Runway 27 for take-off.

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Chinook

Since the first 2 introductory flight simulator session before Memorial Day, I’ve had first hand experience commanding the Chinook. For once, I’m not required to memorize the lengthy check-list except for those that requires me to do so! It takes at least 30 minutes to preflight the aircraft (that’s if you know what to check and how to open the numerous access panels) and another 30 minutes to run-up if you’re new to the aircraft since you spend half the time searching for switches in the cockpit.

I’ve since flown 3 flights within 2 weeks and I’m absolutely loving it! It’s amazing how tandem rotor system aircraft function, not to mention that I’m getting accustomed to the multi crew environment and the size of the aircraft. Gone are the days of checking clear for other traffic yourself and maneuvering the aircraft swiftly.

The learning curve is steep and the pace is fast. I’m enjoying every flight and exploring the capabilities of this aircraft though there are times when I felt lousy as I can’t seem to fly the basic parameters well. Come next week, I’ll be expecting maneuvers like slopes, slings, emergencies procedure and terrain flight. This is on top of having to improve on flying the aircraft with the Advanced Flight Control System (AFCS) turned off.

I like the environment and the way things are conducted here. The academics classes are one of the best I’ve attended in my flying career thus far, with professionals conducting the classes and sharing their enriching experience. Out in the flight line, one get to see and experience encounters that’ll never happen back home – how interesting indeed.

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Hosed

It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve arrived at Fort Rucker and settled down administratively! You can never imagine how much time and effort is needed just to square away all the domestics, settle down and be comfortable with the environment.

The course has officially started last week and my mind still seems to be idling. It has been pure academics till this week and I’m already feeling overwhelmed by the loads of knowledge and information delivered by the experts. A good way to illustrate the feeling would be imagining a water hose being shoved into your mouth and turned on at full blast — at least a good 50% of the water (knowledge) is flowing away.

I thought the limitations and emergency procedures (EP) during my rotary wings course days were daunting, until I started reading and memorizing those we are expected to know of here — it’s at least twice of what’s back home! Before I could even square out the limits and EPs, simulators have started and now, I have the flight check-list to be familiar with as well! Since the course duration is so short, things are expected to happen fast and furious. Naturally, the stress level has started to accumulate now that there’s so much to learn, so little time and capacity to absorb as well as maintaining the country’s image.

Probably I’ll just have to take it easy and pace myself well to gain the best out of this deal. This is one of the best training one can get and the instructors are all experienced and professional. What I like about this course is the style of the academics being conducted as well as the training aids available.

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Life in short

For the past few days, there’s this unexplained feeling within me, prompting me to start writing — to dust of the cobwebs accumulated over the months on this blog. I was contemplating on shutting down this little voice on the internet but after reading many of the past entries, memories were overwhelming the soul and I decided to keep the contents until such a time when I have the inspiration, time and energy to reorganise it.

The last couple of months have indeed been refreshing, challenging and exciting. There were high and lows both at work and personal life. To start off, I’ve got my first ride late last year. It was a difficult decision and the only reason I got it was because of work! I’ve since learnt and accumulated much knowledge about cars from scratch. It’s amazing to see how one splurge and care so much for a piece of metal!

I’ve finally completed flying training, attained the long awaited wings and posted to the platform I desire. It has been a long and fulfilling learning journey as a trainee and one will not understand the mixed emotions and heavy heart I felt the day I graduated! There was a sense of achievement within me but on the other hand, I felt lost — not knowing what to expect and whether I will live up to expectations as an operational pilot.

Then came the mad rush to pack my luggage and head off to the next station where I’m currently stationed — Fort Rucker, United States for the Aircraft Qualification Course (AQC). On one hand, I wanted to be posted to the Chinook’s so much that I got more than I asked for but yet on the other, I wished time was more forgiving. Nevertheless, I’m glad to be given this rare opportunity and am enjoying the process and experience.

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Leaving for Pearce

And so after a month of anticipation and preparation, I’m finally set to depart for my Basic Wings Course flying training in Pearce, Australia tomorrow. The training duration is about 10 months and this will be a test of survival. I guess this will be another phase of my life and I do hope things works out fine.

In any case, I’ll try to drop updates whenever possible or when I get hold of an internet connection. Heard from my other colleague that internet is expensive in Australia and besides this, I doubt I’ll have that much personal time now that my life would be filled with aircraft checks, systems as well as squadron duties!

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How to make a weapon out of a newspaper

Liquids, multi-tools, lighters, matches are banned items on flight as these are deem lethal weapon. What about newspapers? Will it be banned now that newspaper can be used to make a weapon.

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Mom, there's a new bus service

Recently, the service operator that provides bus service in my neighborhood launched a new service. I came to know about it when I saw a poster being advertised at the bus stop promoting the new service. As it provided little details on the actual route it would serve, I decided to check out details of the bus service using the bus service guide to help determine if it’ll be convenient for me to travel home from my workplace.

On the day the service launched, I boarded the bus from my usual bus stop. To my surprise, it seemed that many others were “trying out” the route as the bus was relatively packed. Less than 5 minutes into the journey, I began cursing under my breath for being too smart on deciding to try out the new bus service. Throughout the journey, I managed to observe a few interesting but annoying scene though.

First, the new bus service came with a newly qualified bus driver. How am I able to come to this conclusion? It’s simple — because he was driving at a speed of between 30 to 40 km/h and he never fails to stop at every bus stop, regardless if anyone is boarding or alighting. Then, he had to refer to his notes when passengers asked about the bus fares. To make things worst, the driving skills is simply bad because he has bad judgement and decides to filter into the appropriate lane too early, thus further delaying travelling time. I’m not trying to insult or look down on new bus drivers but I think its unacceptable service.

At one point, I even heard a young girl yelling to her mum about the new bus service at one of the bus stops. It was then that I noticed most people did not even know or bother to read the poster promoting the new bus service. Whenever the bus pulls into a bus stop, most would glance at it curiously before rushing to read the poster. What’s worst is that the bus is bound to stop at stops for a long time as the driver tries his best to entertain those who ask for route directions. All of these add up precious time and cause great frustration!

From this incident, I can conclude that it is not wise to try out a new bus service for at least a few weeks after it has launched. Although it will help to save cost and cut down travelling time, it may seem otherwise initially. This incident has also made me wondered why many simply can’t be bothered to find out more about the service if they intent to board in the first place. Would this be the kind of attitude and mentality our society will adopt? I’ll leave it for you to think about.

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Future MRT map

Future MRT Map

Stumbled upon this possible future MRT (Mass Rapid Transit)* map of Singapore while clearing my inbox. From the map, we can see that apart from the circle line, which is currently undergoing heavy construction, there are plans to add an addition of 4 other lines which includes the Bukit Timah, Downtown extension, Eastern region and North coast line. Even the operators for each line have been listed way before bidding starts — or it could be that talks are on the table.

Looks like there’s going to be more inconvenience and digging lining up if this source is accurate. However, we can look forward to a more convenient and efficient transport system. Perhaps, in the near future, you could be hearing the following announcement instead:

“Next stop, Marina View (instead of Marina Bay). This train terminates at Marina View. All passengers please alight. Thank you for traveling with SMRT.”

* For the non-Singaporean readers, MRT is equivalent to The Tube in London and Subway in the US.

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Surviving Brunei, once again

I’ll be away from Aug 20 till Aug 30. During this period, I will not be able to update my web log as I have no access to an internet enabled computer. Though it’s only going to be a short trip, I’m definitely not looking forward to this trip as eight months ago, I told myself during one of the exercise back then that no way am I going back to Brunei jungle again.

This time round, the training is going to be more challenging as I’ll be attending a Jungle Survival Training and surviving without food and fresh water for 4 days. Furthermore, we will be given minimum equipment in our field pack to survive out there and we are expected to build an a-frame, a fire place and a trap — all of which using raw materials like vines and tree branches. The so called finale of the jungle survival phase will be escape and evasion. This phase requires us to form a group and navigate our way out of the jungle and back to base camp. Imagine the amount of effort and energy required since we have not been given food for the past 3 days and Brunei’s jungle terrain is not friendly (steep knolls and plenty of thorns everywhere). I hope I’ll be able to survive that!

Looking at the positive side, I think this would be my last outfield. After which, I’ll be able to “archive” my field pack and other outfield related items as I will no longer need them. Hope I would be able to endure the gruelling 8 days and return safely. Till then, stay tuned for post-trip updates.

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Heading home

On my way back to Singapore, I saw this interesting signboard at Sydney international airport

Interesting signboard in Sydney International Airport

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Tamworth tourist attractions

We decided to head out to sight see some of Tamworth’s most famous tourist attractions. Our journey started with the visit to Tamworth’s Sunday market in Peel Street, which occurs only on every third weekend of the month. Over there, you get to see folks selling all sorts of things such as home-made honey to furniture and knitted clothing.

The main attraction was this place called the Big Golden Guitar. Here, they sell all sorts of country music as well as unique gifts and souvenirs. We spent quite a while at the tourist center as my colleagues seem to have lots to buy. By early afternoon, we were at the lookout point overlooking the whole of Tamworth! You’ll be surprised to find that Tamworth though small in population as compared to Singapore, the size of the town isn’t that small after all!

Big Golden GuitarHosted on Zooomr

Lunch was at a Chinese restaurant called The Dragon Palace. It was definitely welcoming sight for us as we had not taste any Chinese food since arriving in Tamworth. Though it was a half day trip, it was indeed the most memorable and fruitful trip throughout our stay thus far.

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Visit to town

As compared to previous courses, we were lucky as the instructors allowed us to book out and travel to town on our first weekend. However, two students are required to stay in to carry out duties. Since it was the first outing, the course IC and another officer decided to sacrifice and let the rest enjoy the outing. We had to call for two maxi cabs to drive 16 of us downtown and the cab fare weren’t cheap. It cost about AUS $20 for the journey and we were amazed by the taxi meter as it was incrementing 10 cents every two seconds or so.

Sad to say, the town wasn’t as big as we had expected. The shops open for only half a day and the streets will be empty there after. After roaming around the streets looking for a suitable place for lunch, we decided to eat pizza! We then took a short walk from the main streets to Tamworth shopping world which is something similar to Tampines mall. Over there, we met a few instructors as promised because it’s a really small town! Soon after, we decided to head back to base and I thought to myself that I won’t be bothered to book out next weekend.

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Leaving for Australia, Tamworth

This will be my second trip in less than 1.5 months out of Singapore once again. This time round, I’ll be heading to a little town called Tamworth in the western part of Australia for about 5 weeks. As many have already known, I’m going for my Air Grading Course (AGC) as part of being a Pilot trainee with the air force.

I’ve been waiting for this day – that is to join the air force as a pilot for sometime now and my dream has finally come through. Though this is only the initial step towards my wings, I hope I can take the mental tuning as well as give my best in everything I do. I guess this course would be something similar to that of what I’ve gone through in the Singapore Youth Flying Club 4 years ago.

Unlike when I was in America where I’ve got virtually 24/7 connection to the internet and physical access to a laptop, this time round, I doubt I’ll have such luxury. Thus, I’ll try to keep this weblog updated whenever possible. Until then, do visit this site frequently!

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Memories from my internship

Last year this time, I was on a jet en route to Chicago O’Hare International and I was feeling apprehensive but yet excited about this trip. It was after all my first time traveling to such a faraway place and I’ll stay for good for at least a few months. The time has come and past and looking back, I’m glad I had such a great opportunity and valuable life experience.

I wished I could turn back time and go through the internship all over again but as a fact of life, it will remain as precious memories in my heart. Right now, I’ve entered another phase of my life and I shall be thankful and look forward for more exciting and challenging adventure lining up!

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Leaving on a jet plane

I’ll be leaving for Brunei in a few hours time and will not return till Jan 12, 2006. The idea of doing some “homework” before my journey to Brunei struck my mind and thus, I searched Google for some general information and pictures. Turned out that the living conditions is not going to be pleasant but this have gave me some mental preparation of what to expect when I arrive in there!

Things will be quiet here for the next 10 days or so until I return from my trip. Advance wishes goes out to my Muslim friends who will be celebrating Hari Raya Haji (Jan 10) and for the rest, happy holidays!

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Survivor Brunei

I’ll be going to Brunei on Jan 3, 2006 for a ten days jungle orientation course. This would be my first time embarking on an overseas outfield exercise and I believe many of us are certainly not looking forward for this trip. When we were first told of this trip, many were shocked as we were told in such a short span of time. Eventually, I decided to take things easily and have a more positive outlook.

I headed down to beech road early in the morning and spend quite a little to get many outfield gears such as hammock and bungee cords as we were told that it is not advisable to sleep on the ground there. We have also been told that the living conditions there would not be as luxury as compared back in here and I’ve already mentally prepared myself for that.

Hope that things will go well and I look forward to complete the exercise and return to Singapore on Jan 12, 2006.

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