Sunday, June 30, 2013

To make a living and make a life

Winston Churchill
"We make a living by what we get
but we make a life by what we give"

- Winston Churchill

That's true. While at times we can be lost in some of the ambitions and goals that we are encouraged by society to pursue (to earn a living), we should always remember that we do need to ensure we give back to others (to make a life worth living).

Everyone has their own story and journey. If you look deeper, you may find that the people you will meet may not always have the resources to seek dreams and ambitions. So I believe we should always look to share and help others where we can, so that they can have a chance at realising their personal goals.

Churchill's quote also reminds me of my favourite quote, that is:

"If we only do what is required of us we are slaves, the moment we do more we are free" - Cicero, Greek philosopher

You can read more about this quote, in my blog post on doing more to be free

Let's do some research

"If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?" - Albert Einstein 

Very true, and this relates to us as well. Sometimes we think that we should leave researching to the professional researchers out there.

Rather research is not confined only for researchers and scientists in their research labs. We research in our everyday lives as well, only we call this learning; and we are always learning.

So go out there and do some research (learning) in your life. I am sure you will constantly be surprised at what you will discover in your life's research ;)

PS: This is just another way to view the word "research"

A world we have created on our own...

You always hear stories of someone struggling with stress in life, with the challenges that we each face in our everyday lives. But do we really need to be stressed and/ or depressed?

Get back on the horse and keep going
Some of these stories end with anxiousness, stress and even depression. Most of us have probably heard or know someone who has had depression. We may have even had it ourselves, and that's normal, however it's how we manage and get back from it that manners most. Just as the metaphor says if we fall off a horse seven times, we will get back up eight times.

Yet, through this all I wonder what it must have been like back in history, as far as the stone age.

Our basic human needs vs. What we have created for ourselves
When you think about this period, our ancestors main focus had been on the basic human needs. That is, food, shelter, family/ tribes/ communities, etc. (Refer to Maslow's hierarchy of human needs). There was no stress over are passing that exam, filling in your tax return each year, etc. Rather, it was ensuring that there was food available each day, a place to stay and weather oneself from the surroundings, and a family to feed and fend for.

I refer to what we see in our communities today as a layer that we have placed on top of our basic human needs. Where we may only see ourselves paper pushing, stressing, and thinking about things beyond the basic human needs. That's normal though, for once we have covered our basic needs that is when most (if not all) of us will start improving our standard of living in some way and/or at least have more comfort in the way we live our lives.

That's not to say this new layer is not good, rather we need to think about what truly manners and focus on what is important to us.

Additional thoughts:
This leads us into more questions, thus we can ponder that we do not have the answers to yet. That is, What is the role/ purpose in our lives? Are we finding there is something more to life than what we see each day? Is our role simple to reproduce and multiply? What does that mean in relation to the theory around the "Tragedy of commons"?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Assorted quotes

For those looking for some inspiration for your week, here are some quotes for you. 

On your own efforts
"Skills open the door, then you must enter yourself". Anonymous
"Luck is the result of good planning". Anonymous
"The harder you work, the more luck you have." Anonymous
"Wisdom is not knowing what to do now, but what to do next". Anonymous
"Leave no stone unturned in your quest for knowledge". Anonymous
"Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday." Don Marquis, US humorist
"There are three words of success -- care, share and dare". Anonymous
"It is always easier to fight for your principles than to live up to them." Anonymous
"There is no 'chance', only 'choice'". Anonymous
"We make our future by the best use of the present". Anonymous
"What the mind can conceive, the heart can believe and the body can achieve." Anonymous
"The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra." Anonymous
"What I hear I forget, what I see I understand, what do I remember." Anonymous
"Let he that would move the world, first move himself." Socrates

On challenges
"Difficulties are stepping stones to success". Anonymous
"Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth times." James Michener
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein
"It does not require great strength to do things, but it requires great strength to decide what to do." Elbert Hubbard

On others and you
"A friend is someone who accepts you the way you are". Anonymous
"You can't teach a person anything, you can only help them discover it themselves." Anonymous
"I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow." Woodrow Wilson
"Many are given advice but only the wise learn from it." Anonymous

On mind discovery 
"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought " Albert Szent-Eyargyi.
"Minds are like parachutes, they only function when open." Thomas Dewar

On your actions than words
"Your actions, not your words, are what count." Anonymous
"Well done is better than well said." Anonymous

Getting to and around Pulau Ubin island in Singapore

There is more to Singapore than meets the eye...

A Pulau Ubin lake (former quarry)
Singapore has a few little islands used for different purposes (e.g., leisure, military, chemical/ energy and waste), however, there is one nice little island called, 'Pulau Ubin'. It's a less known island which is great for the adventurous type and those keen to explore, whether that's you prefer discovering a new place on foot or riding around on a bicycle.

So how do you get to Pulau Ubin?

There is only one way to get there and that's by bumboats. Bumboats operate from Changi Point Ferry Terminal from about 6am until about  8-9pm. So here's how to get to these bumboats and to Pulau Ubin.
Changi Point Ferry Terminal entry/ exit point
  1. First, find your way to Changi Point Ferry Terminal - This is about 3 minutes walk from the Changi Bus Interchange and Changi Village. There are no direct trains, but the closest MRT is either Tampines, Simei or Tanah Merah MRT. It'll take you 25-35 minutes on the bus from Tanah Merah MRT. If you're going by cab, they should know where it is if you tell them you want to go to "Changi Point Ferry Terminal" or "Pulau Ubin". This should cost roughly 10 dollars. Check to plot your route ;)
  2. Wait for a bumboat -  There is no need to bring your passport as there is no immigration clearance and custom checks are carried out on your way to the island. Here you just need to wait for a bumboat, where the bumboat operator is happy with the number of passengers joining the ride. Normally they will depart once there are 12 passengers. The fare is $2.50 SGD each way, $2.00 SGD for a bicycle. $30 if you want to charter a bumboat to yourself (that's 12 x $2.50 SGD as 12 passengers is the maximum that are legally allowed to take) 
  3. Depart on bumboat (ferry) - You will board and pay the bumboat operator. The journey to Pulau Ubin then normally takes 10-15 minutes. Please keep in mind that each bumboat is different, some have windows, some have a back area where you sit, etc. Just be prepared with a raincoat/ umbrella if it looks like it'll rain on the day.
  4. Arrive on Pulau Ubin - You're there. You can now look around and hire a bicycle, eat some seafood, visit the wetlands or one of the old quarries. You'll find some places at Pulau Ubin you can check out below.
    Pulau Ubin town area - where you can hire bikes and eat seafood
  5. Departing from Pulau Ubin - Once you're ready to head off. Just return back to the Pulau Ubin Ferry terminal (so follow the same process but in reverse). Once you reach the Singapore mainland, there will be some custom checks via a security scanner. 

What to do at Pulau Ubin?

Follow one of the walking/ cycling trails

There are trails from towards the east, west and north, with most folks heading westwards towards a wetland called, Chek Jawa Wetlands. 
Chek Jawa Wetlands boardwalk

Check out Chek Jawa Wetlands

The pathway there is flat at first, but do expect some steep hills up and down and to walk at times. When you do reach the main area before the wetlands entry you'll feel relieved and pleased, and may even play witness to a few wild hogs grunting about. The trail towards Chek Jawa is made of bitumen, while others are rougher pathways.

The Chek Jawa Wetlands park is only open from 8:30am to 6:00pm. Please also note that there is a bicycle bay where you'll need to park your bicycle. It's normally quite safe (as there is only one way off the island, i.e., via bumboat..) but just note where you have parked your bicycle for later.

You may also see some wild boars as I did - see quick video here

Hire a bicycle

When you arrive there are a few bicycle stores you can hire bicycles from. There are normal push bicycles and a dual seat bicycle (with two seats for two people). Prices range from $8-10 for a bicycle a day on normal weekends*.

View from a Pulau Ubin seafood restaurant 
*Public holidays it's much busier and it is more expensive to hire bicycles (Up to $15 SGD on public holidays). So aim to arrive before midday to secure a bicycle - otherwise bring your own to the island.

Eat some seafood, drink some coconuts
You can eat at one of the seafood restaurants. There are about 3-4 main restaurants on the island. There's also coconuts that are sold at mini marts in town and also at drink stores scattered around the island. Coconuts cost around $3.00-3.50 SGD each and seafood prices are similar to those at coffee shops in town. At last check, one restaurant was selling chilli crabs for $45.00 SGD a kilo.
Bumboat fares

Destination: Pulau Ubin, Singapore
Costs: $2.50 SGD per person, $2 SGD per bicycle for one way. 
Opening hours: 6:00am to 8:00pm (there may be further bumboats available after 9:00pm but please be wary of lower frequency)
Surroundings: Three-four seafood restaurants, one motel (Celestial resort motel), scattered drink stores, a mini mart, four bicycle hire stores

Photos: More photos of the island can be seen in this Facebook photo album.

If you like Pulau Ubin, you may also be interested in Sungei Buloh, Wetlands reserve (northwest of Singapore) 

Helpful websites:
Check to plot your route ;)

You can find a map of Pulau Ubin at:

Maps/ trails:
Pulau Ubin map from Singapore National Parks

  • Pulau Ubin map - you can download it a readable version of this from Singapore National Park map
  • Tree trail from Singapore National Park - Trees to be spotted along with a map

Updated: 07/02/2014 - Added Singapore National Park map links for easy reference

Updated: 21/08/2014 - Added video of wild boar on Pulau Ubin Island

Updated: 29/09/2015 - Revised version of this post can be found on my travel blog

Video of wild boar at Pulau Ubin
Getting to and around Sungei Buloh wetlands reserve