travel

Postcards from our first desert safari in UAE

It was my second time visiting the desert and our first desert safari. The early spring weather was good, and I highly recommend you to experience a desert safari at least once in a lifetime.


I hope our future generations will be able to see almost extinct Arabian Oryx.
desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

“The next time that boy pursues you, he better do it like a dying man looking for water in a desert. When it’s the right guy, you’ll know, because he’ll cherish you.” ~ Karen Kingsbury
desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

Desert is one of the extreme, harsh and unforgiving environments on our mother earth. I always put my hat off to those who are brave enough to live in the desert; but after experiencing desert myself, I respect them more than ever.

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

Some people have no choice; they were born in the land of desert, they must adapt to survive. To quote Sir Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

The second journey to the desert reminded me on the article about Sir Wilfred Patrick Thesiger, that I first read during our first business class flight with Etihad Airways .

Thesiger (19100603-20030824), also known as Mubarak bin London, was a British explorer and travel writer. His classic travel book Arabian Sands was dubbed by the National Geography as one of the 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time. It describes both his travels in the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Peninsula (between 1945-1950) and the traditional life of the Bedu (Bedouin) people whose “spirit once lit the desert like a flame.” Such an approach of living is perhaps now lost forever, in accordance to Michael Asher.

Few hours before my first trip to the desert in 2014, Professor L who also loves photography, enthusiastically showed me the book, with many beautiful black-and-white photographs of the desert.

I deeply like the following paragraph written by Thesiger, affirming my choice of minimalist lifestyle and striving to give more than what I have received in this life.

“In the desert I had found a freedom unattainable in civilization; a life unhampered by possessions, since everything that was not a necessity was an encumbrance. I had found, too, a comradeship inherent in the circumstances, and the belief that tranquility was to be found there. I had learnt the satisfaction which comes from hardship and the pleasure which derives from abstinence; the contentment of a full belly; the richness of meat; the taste of clean water; the ecstasy of surrender when the craving of sleep becomes a torment; the warmth of a fire in the chill of dawn.”

His writing in crystal-clear prose echoes some interesting phenomena that I experience or observe.

Human beings often do not cherish what they get too easily, these include a lover, a talent, a friend, a career or a prize. In the age of grade inflation, students often think that they deserve an A or A+, when they have not put sufficient efforts to achieve what they desire. After they graduate, some if not many, think that they are entitled to a well-paid job. In reality, it is not our education certificates that will open doors, but our passion and commitment in whatever we do, that will bring life satisfaction.

It is harmonious to remind ourselves that satisfaction in attaining a goal was directly proportional to the hardship and challenge involved in getting there, as Thesiger had realized many decades ago.

The desert experience also reminds me on a senior friend of mine, who shared that our first desert trip is reminiscent of the song Olive Tree (橄榄树). The lyrics were written in 1978 by San Mao (三毛), when she was wandering in the Western Sahara desert. San Mao’s husband, Jose Maria Quero y Ruiz hailed from Spain, where there are abundant of olive trees, that San Mao dearly loves.

My favorite Chinese version of the song Olive Tree is sung by Chyi Yu (齐豫).

橄榄树

不要问我从哪里来 我的故乡在远方
为什么流浪 流浪远方 流浪
为了天空飞翔的小鸟 为了山间轻流的小溪
为了宽阔的草原 流浪远方 流浪
还有还有 为了梦中的橄榄树橄榄树
不要问我从哪里来 我的故乡在远方
为什么流浪 为什么流浪 远方
为了我 梦中的橄榄树

I also love the English version of the song Olive Tree, sung by Sally Yeh (叶蒨文)

There is a farmer,who walks on the road,
Stranger,why do you wander?
Don’t ask from where I have come,
My home is far,far away
Why do you wander so far,
Wander so far,wander so far?
For the little bird free I wander,
For the medow green and wide,
For the mountain high and blue
I wander,wander so far
Then,is there more?
Yes,for the olive tree of my dream.
Don’t ask from where I have come,
My home is far,far away.
Why do you wander,
Why do you wander so far,far away?
For the Olive tree of my dream.
Don’t ask from where I have come,
My home is far,far away,
Why do you wander so far,
Wander so far,wander so far

Our gratitude list:
♥ people who have made our trip memorable and pleasant
♥ dune bashing
♥ sand boarding (an item of my bucket list was checked)
♥ camel riding
♥ saw the Arabian Oryx
♥ good value of money (each of us paid AED50 for the entire event)

desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart
desert safari arabian nights village UAE servicefromheart

With love,
ServicefromHeart
20150306
20150508

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Postcards from Chinese Heritage Centre and the inspiring stories of the Yunnan Garden campus

Every graduate (and even dropout) feels something special about his/her alma mater. It is where one spent his/her youth, formed lifelong friends, and undertook intellectual challenges to prepare oneself for serving the society. Herein, I write about Chinese Heritage Centre at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), where I pursued my undergraduate study.

Schools and universities, especially those with history, are among places to visit wherever I travel. On the open house day of the Chinese Heritage Centre, I was very grateful that I could bring baby Ren to visit his mother’s alma mater.

NTU is the first university that baby Ren visited, and I deeply hope that he would visit and learn from a number of great institutes worldwide as time goes.

Chinese Heritage Centre Nanyang Technological University Nantah Yunnan Garden servicefromheart

If there are public transports to reach a destination and I am not short of time, I prefer to take public transports. Yes, I am concerned about sustainability and frugality. Experiencing public transports allow me to sense the feelings and the attitudes of people who commute to a particular destination.

I have been grateful that an NTU student volunteered to help carrying Ren’s folded stroller while we boarded the bus. I was alone, carrying Ren in front of me with a baby carrier, a backpack of his milk, hot water, diapers, toys at my back; my hands were to carry the stroller and tap the EZ-link card.

I really admire single parents, and people in the past had succeeded to raise many children. My thought went that, if these people can do it, so can we!

Chinese Heritage Centre Nanyang Technological University Nantah Yunnan Garden servicefromheart

We just need to be more strategic, such as anticipating possible scenarios and preparing for them. When I travel without Ren, tapping the EZ-link card is as smooth as waving a good bye. However, that day I had to plan carefully, so that the bus would not wait too long for me boarding and getting down from the bus.

Chinese Heritage Centre Nanyang Technological University Nantah Yunnan Garden servicefromheart

Ren’s uncle waited for us at the 179 bus stop. When I was an undergraduate of NTU, I brought Ren’s uncle – then a primary school boy to NTU and he posed for a photograph at the Lee Wee Nam library, one of my favorite places in NTU. Now, he ends up as an engineering student of NTU after studying hard in his high school. Perhaps, bringing young children to campus early can help them to define their dreams.

Chinese Heritage Centre Nanyang Technological University Nantah Yunnan Garden servicefromheart

On our arrival at the Chinese Heritage Centre, opposite the lush Yunnan Garden, two kind volunteers rushed down the main staircases to help us. Thank you very much! I did not know that there was a wheelchair access behind the building.

Chinese Heritage Centre Nanyang Technological University Nantah Yunnan Garden servicefromheart

Baby Ren was given a Doraemon (ドラえもん) balloon. Like many parents who aspire their children to be creative, I hope that Ren would have a lot of creative ideas that flow incessantly out of his mind, just like how Doraemon can always produce futuristic gadgets, medicines and tools from his 4D pocket.

We were fortunate to have a guided tour on two exhibitions: The Nantah Pictorial Exhibition and Chinese more or less (an exhibition of overseas Chinese identity).

I knew about Nantah (Nanyang University) since I was in high school. My chemistry teacher, Madam Yong Mu Lin, graduated from Nantah. She taught us not only chemistry, but also the virtues of hard work and commitment.

I remember clearly how Madam Yong willingly stayed two-day-per-week after school hours, to help weak students with more detailed explanation and to help me preparing myself to compete* in a national chemistry competition. I always think that emerging as one of the winners of that competition, helped me to win a Nanyang Scholarship** that has positively changed the trajectory of my life.

*In the initial stage, there were other students invited to join the training. But I ended up as the last who continued practising using China GaoKao 高考 materials. Grit matters. The psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth highlights that grit plays more significant roles than IQ, social intelligence, good looks or physical health for success.

**I am forever grateful to Nanyang Technological University, especially because my parents told me that I had to figure out the finance myself should I be interested in pursuing a tertiary education.

Perhaps, it was partly because of the tremendous dedication of Madam Yong, that I wanted to study at Nanyang Technological University, even though National University of Singapore has been more established and of higher ranking .

Perhaps, it is the Nantah Spirit and the story behind the founding and the demise of Nanyang University that allured me and many others to the Yunnan Garden.

I wonder if it is human nature to take for granted what we have and only long for things (and people) once they are gone forever. What we can do is to remind ourselves everyday (yes, every morning and every night) the importance of being grateful, as the thankful hearts are always closer to the riches of the universe, so that we can do more meaningful things in our limited hours, days and years.

♥ ♥ ♥

At The Nantah Pictorial Exhibition, we learned more about the history of universities @ Yunnan Garden, Singapore.

In 1953, the Chinese communities in Singapore, Malaya and other parts of Southeast Asia responded enthusiastically on the proposal to form a Chinese language university by Tan Lark Sye 陈六使 (1897-1972), a rubber entrepreneur and philanthropist who firmly believed in the value of education.

People from all walks of life in Singapore as well as other regions of South East Asia, from rich tycoons to poor hawkers and trishaw pullers, had made generous donations and rendered tremendous assistance.

I especially appreciate the contributions from the poor. For example, $1 may not mean a lot to the rich, but one who earns less than $2 has to sacrifice largely to donate $1 away for a cause that he/she believes in. I know each $ equals sweats, tears and bloods, for I also worked as a part-time student being paid $6/hour in the 21st century NTU.

In 1954, William Goode (Colonial Secretary) visited the construction site of Nanyang University, acompanied by Tan Lark Sye and Lien Ying Chow.

In 1955, the arch of Nanyang University / Nantah — the first and only Chinese-medium institute of higher learning outside China, was built.

In 1956, Nanyang University started classes for courses in arts, sciences, and commerce. The certificates of the degrees of Nanyang University were written in three languages, from left to the right: traditional Chinese, Malay, and English.

In 1964, Nobel Laureate Professor Yang Chen Ning 杨振宁 visited Nantah. Professor Yang works on statistical mechanics and particle physics. In 1957, he and Tsung-dao Lee received the Nobel prize in physics for “for their penetrating investigation of the so-called parity laws which has led to important discoveries regarding the elementary particles.”

In quantum physics, a parity transformation is the (simultaneous) flip in the sign(s) of spatial coordinate(s). The conservation of parity states that the parity of the total wave function describing a system of elementary particles is conserved. Parity is conserved in electromagnetism, gravity, strong nuclear forces, and strong interactions, but violated in weak interactions.

Do you think that Chien-Shiung Wu 吴健雄, who performed the decisive experiment verifying parity violation, should also be awarded the 1957 Nobel Price in physics, in a similar way that Rosalind Franklin (whose work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA, led to the discovery of the DNA double helix) should be awarded the 1962 Nobel Price for Physiology / Medicine? Sadly, Franklin passed away in 1958 at age 37.

Sorry, I digress. Let’s return to the history of Nantah.

In 1972, Queen Elizabeth II visited Nantah. Photographs of the Queen – wearing an aristocratic hat and sleeveless knee-length dress, at the same staircases where we just climbed with the assistance of the volunteers, made me imagine the campus atmosphere and the feelings of the students at that time.

At the era of Nanyang University (1956-1980), being a Nantah student was a very prestigious accolade. Not all young people had the opportunities to present the required intellectual requisites to be admitted, i.e. to pass the admission test.

I am curious if financial difficulties would hinder one’s aspiration to pursue study in Nantah.

A piece of story from a former staff serving the Nantah registrar, appears to highlight that financial challenges should not entirely thwart a dream to pursue a higher education in Nantah.

While a staff, he fell in love with a female Nantah student, who was as precious as panda. The power of love can be so great that he ended up realizing his university dream. He secretively prepared himself for the admission test to surprise her, was successfully admitted with flying colors, and worked hard to support himself financially. The only regret that he has is that he did not join as much student activities as he wished.

I recalled how my friends in the 21st century NTU enthusiastically dragged me to attend events, from VIPs talks to concerts. Honestly, I was a struggling student. I realized that to succeed academically, I need to spend more time studying than other students. I also had to do tasks for extracurricular activites (ECA), so that I had sufficient ECA points to stay on campus as off-campus accommodation has always been more expensive. I also worked part-time as a student assistance. When a friend managed to get a Fish Leong / Liang Jingru 梁靜茹 concert ticket for me, I was deeply touched. When a senior walked half the campus to my hall, to brought me a supper of nasi lemak on my birthday, I was tremendously grateful. There are many great memories on the Yunnan Garden Campus.

The friendships formed during our school years are among the most beautiful ones. The relationships of the young people, full of idealism, aspirations, excitements, hope and commitment, in the face of life challenges, will never fail as the themes of any drama, simply because every one is the actor / actress of his / her life, as the saying goes 人生如戏,戏如人生.

I personally know many friends who found the following treasures on campus: their lifelong and close friends (知心朋友), soul mate, wive, husband. All these people have become the support they have for the rest of their life.

In 1980, Nanyang University was merged with the University of Singapore, to form National University of Singapore. If you google to find out why, you will learn different perspectives explaining the destiny of Nantah, and it is up to you to make your own conclusion. The old Nantah administration building  of a beautiful Chinese-style architecture, now houses the Chinese Heritage Centre.

For a quarter of century Nanyang University, affectionately called Nantah, was a hope for the supporters of Chinese medium education and culture in Southeast Asia. Students hailed from not only Singapore, but also Malaya, Thailand, Indonesia, and the alumni are now all over the world.

In comparison with other universities, especially another alma mater of mine that celebrated 800-year anniversary recently, Nantah was indeed short-lived. However, the story behind the founding of Nantah and her development, growth and demise, will evoke strong emotions among many people today.

In 1981, Nanyang Technological Institute (NTI) took over the ground of former Nantah. NTI was an English medium engineering college.

In 1991, NTI was promoted to Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and merged with with the National Institute of Education (NIE).

In the 21st century, on a summer day I arrived at NTU, where the former Nantah was. The writing 自强不息 (continuous self-improvement) stroke me forever. Some places are especially magical because of people who had been there. Places where people have prayed for years and centuries, such as churches, temples and mosques are very sacred. Similarly, places where people have studied with their heart and hoped for the best, have that kind of spiritual forces that will never fail to encourage the future generations.

Every time I listen to the song Chuan Deng 传灯, I will remember Nantah. Perhaps, it is also the Nantah Spirit that has sustained me and my pursue of knowledge across oceans and continents, and now in the desert.

Chinese Heritage Centre Nanyang Technological University Nantah spirit Yunnan Garden servicefromheart
Nantah Spirit that I pasted on my study desk in my NTU hall room to remind myself to work hard.

♥ ♥ ♥

In 2001, NTU established School of Biological Sciences.

In 2004, NTU established School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

In 2005, NTU established School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.

In 2009, NTU established School of Art, Design and Media.

In 2013, NTU and Imperial College London jointly established a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine.

In 2014, QS World University Rankings rank NTU first for Top 50 Under 50, 39th globally, and 6th in Asia, placing it in the top 1% of universities globally.

I am grateful that NTU is rocketing in the global competition. Based on the experience of many people whom I have encountered and mine, a good degree helps one to secure a good job and a good business contracts.

However, we need to remember that eventually it is the substances of the people that make a university strong and sustainable. Modern facilities or historical architectures alone are insufficient to create and sustain a good university, only when her graduates make significant contributions to the society and the world, the university is successful.

♥ ♥ ♥

Chinese Heritage Centre Nanyang Technological University Nantah Yunnan Garden hostel Hall 1 servicefromheart
My (transient) room in the oldest hall of residence in NTU: Hall 1 (established 1957). Looking back at this photograph, I realized that I am still using the same bed sheet of bears and pink stars. Wow!

Chinese Heritage Centre Nanyang Technological University Nantah Yunnan Garden servicefromheart heart love
There is something magical about the heart shape! A student committee posed in a heart shape on my request. Yes, I have been inspired by love and servicefromheart, since many years ago. I admire people who self-sacrifice themselves for others, like Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Mandela, and the list goes on…

 cupid love Chinese Heritage Centre Nanyang Technological University Nantah Yunnan Garden servicefromheart

An angel or a cupid on campus (thank you our dear volunteer!) brightened the days of many women.

More:

Jurong West Nantah Arch by Remember Singapore
Childhood Memories at Nantah 南大 by Apple, a cancer survivor and a mother to a daughter with Down syndrome

With love,
ServicefromHeart
2014

Last updated 20141115

Postcards from Dubai Mall, United Arab Emirates

Inspired by Americans who love superlatives, I am grateful for a visit to the Dubai Mall (迪拜购物中心) of UAE – the world’s largest shopping mall (based on total area).

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates the butterflies

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates the butterflies fashion

Dubai Mall was developed by Emaar Properties, that also own Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world as of today).

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates burj khalifa

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates burj khalifa

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates burj khalifa

Visiting Dubai Mall on almost on her sixth anniversary (it first opened on 20081104) was a blessing for me. I always love birthdays, not only of mine but also of others. Birthday = a reason to celebrate the miracles of being alive and continuous growth.

We drove from Abu Dhabi to Dubai on a morning of sand storm. We could not see very far, but I managed to catch a glimpse of Burj Al Arab from far far away. Our petite beautiful driver was hungry, so we stopped at a gas station with a McDonald.

servicefromheart uae best coffee ADNOC
Fabrice said the most delicious coffee in UAE is the one sold by ADNOC. For me, I still love South East Asian roasted coffee the most.
Although I grew up as a child in Jakarta, where malls are ubiquitous, I had also called Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, UK my home. In a town like Cambridge, malls (not to mention malls with inspiring design) are not common, though I appreciate the convenience of shopping in small supermarkets and shops.

Dubai Mall has more than 1,200 stores. We had a lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, which I had heard about while living in La Jolla, California but had not have a chance to visit until today. I ordered (1) fresh kale salad and (2) portabella mushroom avocado and zucchini fries. i also sampled (3) beets with goat cheese comprises fresh beets, apples, baby arugula & pecans, (4) burger (5) salmon (6) chicken. Consequently, I had no more space left for the dessert. I will be back for trying the cheesecake!

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates  cheesecake factory

The Dubai Mall implements courtesy policy: shoulders and knees should be covered, no kissing or overt display of affection in the mall, no smoking in the mall, no dangerous activities (e.g. sport games, rollerblading, skateboarding), no pets are allowed in the mall.
servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates aquarium

My impromptu tour guide once worked in the construction of a nearby hotel. He told me that when things were challenging, they de-stressed by gazing the fish swimming in a carefree manner, without worrying about the burden of life and work.

Herein, may I please suggest a must-do list in @TheDubaiMall:

Visit the Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Centre. Admission fees range from AED 80-110. Dubai Aquarium Underwater Zoo reminds me on a night sleepover in the Underwater World, Sentosa Island Singapore; thank you Luke How!<

Cage snorkeling with the sharks (AED 290)@ the Dubai Aquarium.

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates

In Dubai Ice Rink in Dubai Mall, imagine the romance of ice-skating as described by the ballet-loving and warm-hearted Veronica Weston of the Sadler Wells by Lorna Hills. Remember to bring a pair of socks.Appreciate candies and chocolates in the 2010 world’s largest sweet shopCandylicious” spanning over 10,000 sq ft (930 m2) inside Dubai Mall. I bought a Belgian dark chocolate for our driver simply because the cover girls remind me on her. Thank you for driving us safely! I also bought a 70%-cacao Mucha-covered chocolate by Chocolate Amatller for myself.

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates candylicious belgium chocolate

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates candylicious

Imagine yourself as an Alibaba being surrounded with the glitters in Dubai Mall’s Gold Souk. Caveats: (1) unlike Alibaba, you must pay the price before taking any gold out of the souk (2) “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring.

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates  gold souk

At The Emirates Official Store in Dubai Mall, be a captain of the Emirates A380 – the world’s largest aircraft. A 30-minute session of simulator flight costs AED 350. I am also grateful for my past experience of flying A380 with Singapore Airlines and Qantas, and look forward to flying A380 with Emirates.

Experience the Dubai Fountain – the world’s largest dancing fountain, designed by California-based WET, the creators of the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas. I recommend the daily evening shows every 30 minutes from 6:00pm to 11:00pm.

Enjoy bird view of the Arabian Gulf and desert from level 124 of the world’s tallest tower, At the Top, Burj Khalifa (first inaugurated 20100104). Dated & Timed Adult ticket costs AED 125, < 12 years old AED 95, < 3 years old free. Fast track ticket costs AED 400.

Meet and Pose with the DubaiDino, the original skeleton of a long-necked, whip-tailed vegetarian sauropod (Amphicoelias brontodiplodocus) member of the family

Diplodocidae

) that is over 155 million years old, and of 80 ft (24.4 metres) long and 25 ft (7.6 metre) high. When it was alive, it weighted as heavy as five elephants. The dinosaur could have died during drought in a natural trap – Dana Quarry, Wyoming, USA. I love to imagine arriving at a world we have heard of only in stories such as Jurrasic Park.

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates  dinosaur dubaidino

Pose with the Dubai Mall Waterfall, designed by Singapore-based DP Architects. This is my favorite artwork.

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates waterfall

Visit Kinokuniya bookstore and forget the time.

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates  kinokuniya

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates kinokuniya

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates kinokuniya

A mango lemonade with some Spanish and Belgium chocolate appear to be ideal companions for a happy reading session. ” Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is. ” ~ The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway.

Do shopping and window-shopping.
servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates  mickey mouse
Mickey Mouse with its iconic ears always bring back the happy memory in Disneyland Paris.

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates  pinocchio
Since I could remember, I have loved stories, and Pinocchio was among the first few stories that I read. I appreciate how Jiminy Cricket reminded Pinocchio (and us), “remember always let your conscience be your guide.

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates  vogue
Once, I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer and a fashion model. Everything starts with a dream. I have created handmade dresses for my (only) Barbie girl. Though I am not a professional model, I have done some catwalks in Vancouver and Singapore, to promote the causes that I believe in. Thank you for the opportunities to do so! “Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” I always admire beauty, as I do for truth and kindness. I think … I am highly sensitive to beauty, especially of people and nature that I grow loving more than ever. Beautiful things make me happy.

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates  keep calm
The design of postcards sold in the Souk Al Bahar (Market of the Sailor) reminds us to “keep calm we still have oil.” In 2013, petroleum engineering is the most lucrative college major. Will the situation be still the same several years and decades down the road? I am concerned for our children and grandchildren. I believe in the importance of research and development for alternative renewable energies, because eventually the non-renewable fossil fuels are going to be used up.

servicefromheart travelxp dubai mall uae emirates spinneys
This is the first Spinneys market that I visited in Dubai. It is situated in the Souk Al Bahar (Market of the Sailor).

What’s next?
♥ visit Abu Dhabi Yas Mall, the second largest mall in UAE after Dubai Mall. Like Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld, Yas Mall is situated on the Yas Island.
♥ I am grateful to be able to view the world’s tallest building hitherto. I also look forward to appreciating the next world’s tallest building. I imagine that the future world’s tallest building will reach the outer space (perhaps anchored by a satellite for stability) and ordinary people like me, can fulfill our dreams to visit the outer space.
♥ re-visiting postcards from our other #travelxp always evokes special feelings of contentment and excitement.

♥♥♥

Many thanks
ServicefromHeart
20141101

Postcards from Abu Dhabi with some tips from Ask Ali

Saying Marhaba (Hello) or As salamu alyakum is a way to greet local people here, so please allow me to greet you with a Marhaba!

This is the first post from our adventures in Middle East, starting from United Arab Emirates (UAE) where we arrived in the scorching and highly humid summer 2014.

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Corniche
Our first summer in Abu Dhabi: admiring 123-m flagpole on Marina Island across from Marina Mall. 
Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Grand Millennium Al Wahda Hotel
A bird view of Abu Dhabi City from Grand Millennium Al Wahda Hotel, where we lived happily for almost 4% of our days this year.

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque where we learned from a funny tour guide who is also a civil engineer.
Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Madinat Zayed
Madinat Zayed

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Abu Dhabi Mall
Abu Dhabi Mall

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Marina Mall
Marina Mall has a Carrefour.

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Khalidiyah Mall
Khalidiyah Mall where I attended a worship in a cinema for the first time of my life.

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Reem Island Sun Sky sea Gate Towers
A bird view of Reem Island, where we live in 2014.
Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Gate Towers like Marina Bay Sands
The Gate Towers reminds us on Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Gate Towers like Marina Bay Sands
Another view of the Gate Towers and their reflections on the Arc Towers.

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Reem Island
Dramatic reflection of sunrise as viewed in Reem Island is always inspiring. 

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Reem Island
Night view of Reem Island.

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart public bus
Public buses e.g. bus 54 of Abu Dhabi cost only 2 dirhams / passenger.

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart St Joseph's Cathedral Catholics
St Joseph’s Cathedral of Abu Dhabi.

Hand shakes
Remember to shake firmly. If you are a man, it is impolite to offer your hand to a local woman. If a local woman offers her hand, it is then OK to reciprocate. Some Arab men will shake non-local women’s hands, some will not (it is ok too)!

Learn some Arabic words. Based on my experience living in Abu Dhabi, one can survive in Abu Dhabi without knowing Arabic, but it is always wonderful to learn some Arabic words.
Yes : Na’am / Aywah
No : Laa
Bon appetit : Bel Aaafiya
My name is : Ana esmi
Congratulation : Mabrook
Thank you : Shukran
Sorry : Asif / Asifa

Respect – a universal value – for each other’s differences requires open-mindedness, tolerance, adaptability and obedience. Although I have not lived long enough to give wise advice, I have found that respecting yourself and other people (regardless of their social, economic, education status) is among the best policies. Ask Ali also highlights that it is “illegal to defame any member of the ruling families of any of the emirates.”

Be thoughtful. “Even if you must compromise, don’t embarrass your Arab colleagues in public.”
Depending on the context, the opposites may be right.
In Arabic culture, it is impolite not to answer a phone call during meetings.
In Western culture, it is impolite to answer a phone call during meetings.
What if you are in a meeting with both Arabic and Western colleagues?
I remember a meeting that I attended in my first week working in Abu Dhabi. Half-way through the meeting, a phone rang. The most important person (who was originally from USA) said, “I’m glad it’s not mine.”

Arab people may raise their voices when they speak, not out of anger, but to emphasize a point.

Trust Arab people like to do business with those they trust (those whom they know or wit whom they have friends in common). Arab people don’t like to do business over the phone or without initially meeting you.

Local values that I hope to learn more:
respect
generosity / ikramiya
modesty / humility
trust

***

Social media that I follow:
www.emiratweet.com : a virtual majlis of events, news, street talk about Emirati individuals and society.
www.sailemagazine.com : about successful entrepreneurial Emiratis.
The National : an English newspaper of UAE

***

Things that I add to the bucket list:

    1. visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the UAE and the eighth largest mosque in the world. It also has a Center library. Gently step on the wool carpet (the most comfortable one I have ever had the blessing to walk on) in the main prayer hall. Admire the Swarovski crystals-decorated chandeliers.
    2. learn Arabic calligraphy as a way of learning Arabic culture.
    3. enjoy a cup of coffee sprinkled with gold leaves @ Emirates Palace with classic luxurious stairwell.
    4. attend exhibitions (and if possible, weddings) @ Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC).
    5. desert safari / dune bashing @ Liwa Oasis ~ 2 hours drive from Abu Dhabi. Imagine a roller-coaster ride over sand dunes accompanied by sunset.
    6. ride a camel.
***

First and finally, please remember the followings:

  1. Stand up when someone approaches you to say hello.
  2. Use your right hand to pick things up or accept things.
  3. Reshuffle your position (at an elevator, a doorway) to place an important person / guest to your right.
  4. Dress modestly.
  5. Remove your shoes before entering your host’s home.
  6. Refer the gulf as Arabian Gulf (not Persian gulf!)
  7. Send a Ramadan Kareem (Blessed Ramadan) card at the beginning of the Ramadan month or an Eid Mubarak (Happy Mubarak) at the end of Ramadan, to your Muslim friends.
  8. Wait until after Ramadan to approach Muslim businessmen with new ideas.
  9. Offer local friends food – a symbol of goodwill and friendship, especially home-cooked food if you know how to cook. Remember to exclude pork or alcohol (even in chocolates)!
  10. Do not touch anyone of the opposite sex. No gentle pat.
  11. Do not schedule any meeting / gathering / sport event on Fridays, at least not until after 4 pm because, to respect people’s need of praying.
  12. Do not leave your host’s home before coffee and Arabic sweets are served (or else they may feel that they have not completed their hospitality duties; hospitality is an important value here, rooted in the harsh desert conditions).
  13. Do not point your soles / the bottom of your fee towards anyone, especially someone’s face.
  14. Do not say Mashallah when praising something beautiful to an Arab.
  15. Do not say swear words.
  16. Do not post sexually suggesting, politically / religiously controversial material.
  17. Do not take photographs of a local person (especially women and families) without asking for a permission.
  18. Do not take photographs of Muslims praying.
  19. Do not take photographs of military sites, the royal family’s palaces, government buildings (e.g. airports, police headquarters).
  20. Do not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in public during Ramadan.
  21. Women traveling alone in taxi should sit in the back and not make conversation with the cabbies, as drivers may misinterpret friendliness.

With love,
ServicefromHeart
201410
Last updated 20141026

Postcards from Singapore Central Fire Station

We respect firemen and female firefighters. The latter are a minority in the male and macho dominated profession. They risk their precious lives putting off fire and rescuing people.

To help my little man appreciates firefighters and their contributions to our society, I brought him to the open house of Central Fire Station Singapore.

While many pictorial children books still refer to a firefighter as a fireman, from here onward, let’s greet them firefighters. Why?

Denise Christie, a British female firefighter since 1997, often challenges the use of the term “fireman”. Why?

The “man” in the word “fireman” both consciously and subconsciously excludes girls and women from aspiring for a career (or I would rather say a vocation) as a firefighter.

Firefighter’s job is really one of the toughest, at the front-line of disasters and life-saving work.

In Singapore, firefighting, rescue and emergency ambulance services are provided by SCDF – that stands for Singapore Civil Defence Force (新加坡民防部队).

♥ ♥ ♥

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station gate door

 

At Central Fire Station, baby Ren enjoyed appreciating many rescue vehicles, from ambulances to fire engines, including the huge Pump Ladder and Combined Platform Ladder.

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station engines

He refers to any vehicle as tutu, perhaps from the sound that car horns or traditional trains make.

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station Red Rhinos

Mama, look! Baby Ren was too amazed sitting inside the Red Rhino ~ a smaller and more compact version of the fire truck for better accessibility in tight and narrow spaces.

 

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station

Your kids can squirt water like a real firefighter onto a ‘fire’ target. Have fun with the water gun!

The volunteer guide in uniform, an ‘Uncle’ in late 40s or early 50s, delivered useful knowledge related to emergency.

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station

When someone has a heart attack (cardiac arrest), s/he has only 4 minutes to survive if no CPR is given. That’s why, everyone ideally learns and knows how to perform CPR. The skill can save our loved ones.

What is CPR?

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

In brief, CPR = rescue breathing + chest compression 

When someone is unconscious, remember the DR ABC steps, which stands for Danger – Response – Airway – Breathing – Compression.

1. DANGER: check no further danger to the rescuer (yourself) and the casualty.

2. RESPONSE: can the casualty respond?

Unconsciousness may be due to airway obstruction / choking, apnea, cardiac arrest.

Try to wake the casualty.

If no response, shout for help, ask someone to immediately call for an emergency ambulance (dial 995 in Singapore) and to get an AED (if available). .

If you are alone, use a speaker mode while calling, so your hands are free for the next step.

3. AIRWAY: open the casualty’s airway & check if airway is clear or blocked by a foreign object. Remember the head tilt chin lift method.

4. BREATHING: check by looking if the chest rises, listening & feeling for the air for up to 10 seconds.

If the casualty is breathing normally, place him in the recovery position and monitor his condition regularly until medical help arrives.

5. COMPRESSION

If the casualty does not breathe, immediately do CPR: a cycle of 30 compression followed by 2 rescue breath with the casualty’s nose being sealed.

The compression is delivered at the rate of 100 compressions / minute and to cause the chest to deepen by 1.5 to 2 inches (4 -5 cm).

Count loudly as you compress:
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 10 and
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 15 and
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 20 and
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 25 and
1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 30

After 5 cycles of CPR, check for pulse and breathing.
If no breathing, repeat CPR until paramedics take over.

The air we breathe in contains 21% oxygen.
The air we breathe out contains 16-18% oxygen.
Therefore, rescue breathing still supplies the crucial oxygen to the casualty.

The steps described above are slightly different from those I learned during a Standard First Aid (SFA) course, before becoming a first aider with the Red Cross Youth NTU Chapter.

In my SFA course (more than a decade ago), after the BREATHING step, there is a CIRCULATION step, in which the rescuer checks for sign of blood flowing, particularly through carotid pulse. Since the pulse is difficult to determine, CPR is performed immediately if there is no breathing.

 

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station NTU Red Cross Orchard

A memory of my fellow first aiders who served during a Christmas in Orchard, Singapore. Dad made a surprising night-visit that time, thanks to his Malaysian friend who drove to Singapore. Rarely seeing Dad, I wanted to accompany him strolling Orchard, but Dad insisted that I fulfill my duty. That night, I only served a casualty, who suffered from a minor bruise. Unlike other services or businesses, first aiders hope for less or no ‘customers’, i.e. everyone is okay.

Tips: You may want to keep a free Heart4Life app in your mobile phone.

I like the “CPR mode” because it is very easy to follow, especially when we are highly tense tending to the casualty, who can be our loved one.

The app also includes a 2.5-minute CPR video by Singapore Heart Foundation, which is also available in Youtube.

Important: This brief note here is not a substitute for live training, please kindly go for a CPR training by the professionals at your area, if you are interested to learn about CPR.

♥ ♥ ♥

AEDs also remind me on Monaco, where I saw many AEDs and yachts in a single day!

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station Monaco

Yes, both are ubiquitous there.

♥ ♥ ♥

Sorry, I digress.

Back to the Central Fire Station …

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station ambulance

Your children and you can get inside an ambulance. This way, your first encounter with the inner side of the ambulance was a happy experience.

Baby Ren and I were standing very close to an ambulance when an older adventurous boy intentionally or unintentionally pressed the siren button.

WEE- WOO! WEE- WOO! WEE-OO! WEE-OO!

Very loud! Baby Ren immediately hug me tightly. It’s okay, honey!

The guide mentioned that a family member or friend of the casualty is usually asked to go with the ambulance. It’s definitely one of the most stressful rides for the person, always asking is his or her loved one is okay.

♥ ♥ ♥

When my mother was in her teen, a colossal fire engulfed and destroyed her home and community in Sukaramai. She lost everything except her life and few clothings that she managed to rescue using a bed sheet with its 4 corners tied together as a big carrier.

Many decades down the road, thanks to a kind distant relative, my mother managed to retrieve a family photograph (taken while she was in early primary school). People in the black-and-white photograph includes my tanned grandfather, my beautiful grandmother, my mother, her two brothers and a sister. She cherished the photograph so much! It is the only copy of family photograph that survived.

A photograph can be an evidence that someone had ever lived, especially for people who have never experienced digital world.

Really.

My maternal grandfather passed away when I was a toddler. I did not remember him much, but I cherish so much the photograph of the toddler-me hugging or clasping his leg in Brastagi (Berastagi).

The snap of memory that tells how much he has loved me, his first grandchild.

Waigong died of heart attack, and nobody (including himself) knew that he had a heart problem. Dajiu ( my first uncle), found him too late to save his life.

Pearls of tear drops flow on my cheek now. I wish I could knew more about you in person, Grandpa!

Nowadays, I helped Mom backing-up precious family photographs and videos. Never let fire (or any other disaster) steals your memory!

♥ ♥ ♥

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station reflection photography memory

During my childhood in Jakarta, Dad and Mom had to work until very late at nights. Home alone, with my younger sister and brother, I was always alert hearing the siren of fire engine.

At that time, I did not know if it is either my adrenaline or cortisol that immediately spiked up.

I prayed that the volume of the siren to lower as the clock ticks in seconds – that’s mean the fire happened far from our dwelling.

We lived in the second floor, which was a blessing because Jakarta has suffered from floods at least annually. Relatively safe from the excessive water hazard, this possesses a challenge for fire and earthquake hazard.

Dad, not being paranoid but careful, made an emergency ladder of ropes and small wooden planks for us. The ladder was always placed beneath the window.

Dad instructed us to go down using the ladder in the event of fire and our parents were away working.

Thank you Papa for loving and caring us, for teaching us survival skills!

♥ ♥ ♥

FIRE SAFETY (main points are from a postcard of Civil Defense Heritage Gallery)

What to do … when you are trapped?
1. Stay calm
2. Enter a safe room, preferably one that overlooks a road.
3. Shut the door behind you. Cover the bottom gap of the door using wet clothes to prevent smoke from seeping through.
4. Call 995 and shout for help from the windows or other openings. Wait for rescue to arrive.
5. Cover your mouth and nose with wet clothes.
6. If you are on high floors, do not attempt to jump out of building. Help will be on the way very soon. Pray!

Tips: If you have locked window grills, keep the key at the accessible site in the same room.

♥ ♥ ♥

We were very happy with the educational and entertaining visit to the Central Fire Station. Baby Ren even dreamed of tutu in his afternoon nap.

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station Red Rhinos

If you have a free Saturday morning in Singapore, I’d recommend visiting the Central Fire Station open house (9am-11am), followed by a visit to Civil Defence Heritage Gallery. Both are free of charge.

At historical level 1, we learned more about the Bukit Ho Swee Fire (河水山大火) on May 25, 1961 at 3.20 p.m. The devastating fire led to the HDB public housing scheme. As of 2014, 82% of Singaporeans (including baby Ren and his family) live in HDB flats.

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station antique old fire engines

Antique fire engines are on display. They played roles in keeping people safe, and now retired they served as educational huge toys for children and grown-ups.

At modern level 2, your little ones can don on SCDF firefighter uniform and hat, or put off ‘fire’ thorugh a virtual fire window.

I appreciate many interactive stations that help children to learn about firefighting and rescue technology.

Baby Ren in a firefighter uniform reminds me on on Paddington Bear who was discovered in Paddington Station, London.

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station firefighters

Baby Ren looks like a trophy won by the fearless firefighters. Cheers to the handsome brothers and abang!

Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, & how to be free from it, that’s the point. Necessity of action takes away the fear of the act, and makes bold resolution the favorite of fortune.” ~ Francis Quarles

You may also want to do a virtual tour of the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery.

Outside the gallery is a souvenir shop with many toys of fire engines being displayed. These really make little boys like baby Ren very excited and happy!

Address: 62 Hill Street 638482 ; nearby MRT stations City Hall or Clarke Quay
Fee: free
Website

What’s next?
♥ Fancy a bird’s eye view? a future night Tower Tour when baby Ren can climb steadily on his own.
♥ See also our other #travelxp & #ministory posts

ServicefromHeart travelxp Singapore Central Fire Station tower spiral staircase

Final words … Thank you very much firefighters! You are our heroes and heroines.

With love,
ServicefromHeart
20140524