Friday, December 09, 2005


My arrival home after 6 weeks away. I landed at Melbourne airport today - an airport to which our government won t build a rila line too...just keeps expanding car parking and freeways.

I rocked up to the "skybus" to buy my combined Metcard/Skybus ticket (which means I save time and have the convenience of a ticket that will give me access to the airport bus and then the city transit network).

The ticket office closed with a sign: "buy ticket from driver" Noted the prominent signage advertising the combined ticket.

Bus arrived...I hopped on...."sorry mate Cant sell you the combined ticket. Only the ticket office can and she's on her lunch break." Says the driver apologetically.

"so its gonna cost me more?"

"fraid so "

"so much for an integrated system?"

"sorry mate. Don't think they'll ever be able to sell them on the buses"

Well its good to see how Melbourne's integrated transport system works from the moment you arrive! How do the visitors cope....ah to be back in Singapore!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Singapore Marathon: 10km
Martin ran in the 10km race which started at 7am...the 42 km started at 6! This was to reduce impact on traffic and also to minimise the steamy hot Singapore weather. Not one of Martin's greatest races.....he took one hour one minute and 14 seconds...coming 880th and beating 5966 people. He also came 2oth out of the 51 Australian men in the race!

His average speed? 9.8km an hour...slowest for the year

NB He walked 1.5kms because of the conditions!

He had a lot of fun....far cry from the 15km run through the Chiltern Hills in -3 c the week before!!

BATAM ISLAND...get down and boogie

Mick hanging out with a South Korean tour group passing through on their whistle stop tour of South East Asia (3 countries in 5 days!).
A group of eight Koreans and ourselves made up the audience for a band which did covers of Indonesian, English and Korean songs! Mick showed off his dancing prowess which covered up for Martin's lack of rythm!!

We are relaxing and working in Singapore! While there we slipped across to Batam Island which is actually in Indonesia.
The hotel we stayed at was lovely but everyone is really struggling to get tourists. the two Bali bombings have scared people away.
It is sad to see the impact on the local people whos incomes were right down. We ate in restuarants with more staff than customers .....
After this, Martin is training in Singapore while Michael relaxes and explores!.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Lisbon Rocks!
This is got to be truly one of the gems of Europe! Spent today exploring mostly the "old" downtown districts...had a chocolat caliente at one of the oldest coffee shops around with one of those delicious flaky custard tarts! (then had two more of the tarts through the day).
One thing that has struck me through the city is the absence of huge numbers of those chain stores that now proliferate the high streets of towns across the world. Most of the shops here seem to be unique and individually owned.....probably all highly inefficient but much more authentic!
Off to Singapore tomorrow!

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Now I am in Lisboa, the capital of this country...and I m loving it! Its like nowhere else I have ever been. One feels clearly in Europe at times but at other times one is not so sure where one is.
Three major things have affected the development of this city:
1. the earthquake of 1755 which destroyed much of the city and caused significant loss of lives
2. the politics which has seen the country shift from Monarchy to Republic to dictatorship to marxist state to democracy in one century. The politics led to an isolation from the rest of Europe and a sense that much of the 20th century passed Portugal by
3. the hilly terrain ...just right to put parks on the top of rises, a castle on the hill overlooking the sea, a criss crossing of streets all linked by switchback-like tram routes, furniculars and roads.

As a result, the city has preserved many of its older buildings and spaces which would have been gutted in many capital cities elsewhere. Public Transport is good but the traffic and driving here is horrendous.... the stats say Portugal has the highest rate of motor vehicle deaths in can see why...driving here requires nerves of steel as cars aim for the narrowest gaps possible and push through....all while smoking or chatting on the mobile (cell)! Smoking is everywhere shops, restuarants..even saw two ambulance drivers having a puff...good health role model!

Speaking of which...I met a Welsh man and his mother here to celebrate her 80th Birthday which is today. I said I d have a drink for her and she said to have a glass of milk as she is a teetotaler! So cheers...I m actually toasting her with my yoghurt drink!
Cheeses, yoghurts and milks seem to be in abudnace along with an incredible range of cakes, tarts and breads...not forgetting the dried meats and fish in every form.

I rank every city I visit looking at factors such as asthetics, safety, the transit system, culture, liveability etc. Lisbon scored 85.5% which is the same score I gave London. Interestingly enough in their last survey the Economist ranked Lisbon and London equal 44th! My ranking places Lisboa at 26th place out of the 91 cities I have been lucky enough to visit or live. My top 5?
Paris (95%)
Berlin (94.1)
Melbourne (94%)
San Francisco (93%)
Wellington, New Zealand (92.8%)


Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Today I (Martin) am in London staying with friends. After a 15km run in the morning, through the Chiltern Hills, had a relax day with the papers and then a walk through Bushy Park in London. This was the sunset followed by an amazing fog and below zero temperatures.
More pics:...