Tampines (Edit: Pasir Ris) Library Groups Cats in With Roaches and Rats On Poster

Mobile Photo 25-Apr-2010 PM 06 44 39 This poster is on display in the Tampines Pasir Ris Public Library branch.  While I wholeheartedly agree with the message, that it takes everyone to keep the city clean, I disagree with the images used to portray the negative consequences.

This poster implies that cats are disgusting pests, on the same level as roaches and disease carrying rodents.  Cats are not in the same category of animal.  Cats are domesticated house pets and have been for thousands of years.  In ancient Egypt, when a household’s cat died, the owners would shave off their eyebrows as a sign of mourning.

While I’m not suggesting that we start shaving our eyebrows off to protest cat culling in Singapore, I do want to call attention to the fact that it’s not proper to reinforce the negative perception of these animals.  The person who created this poster was even sly enough to use a black cat, which has always been associated with bad fortune, to add dramatic effect and further create a negative opinion of cats in the general public.

What’s truly ironic about this poster is that cats are Singapore’s greatest defense against the real pests, as mice are a stray cats natural prey.

A clean city may be a reflection of moral and civic values, but kindness to animals is a much better indicator.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Cat Export Preparations Update #3

Well, we’ve encountered two hang-ups.  One isn’t so bad and one is making me want to claw my face off from frustration.

I received the airline certified cat carriers this afternoon but there was a problem.  They were smaller than what I’d thought when I originally bought them.  They looked roomy and more than adequate when I was in the store, but when I put one down and stuck Dapper in it, it was obvious that it was not going to be appropriate, or even acceptable by the airline.  Dapper could barely fit inside, couldn’t turn around and couldn’t even stand up.  Maybe it’s because she’s so fat, but regardless, I had to jump in the shower and take them back to the store for an exchange to the next bigger size.

When I went up there I was a little worried about how the whole thing would go.  I’d never tried to exchange anything in Singapore before and while it would be an easy swap process in the US, you never know when it comes to Singapore retailers.  Thankfully, this standard of exchange is in use here in Singapore as well.  I just had to show that the carriers were still in new condition, with the packaging on them, and present the receipt and it was a quick process to request a “top-up” to the next size.

So, I was able to bring home one carrier in the next higher size and I’ll have to wait until next week to get the other two.  I imagine it’ll take 7 days again, which means I’ll get them on the 28th, just in time to take them to the vet on the 29th for their rabies shots and health certificates.  I’m glad I bought those other cages when I did, leaving myself room for fixing this sort of mistake.  I’m also glad that the people at PetLover’s were pleasant and quick to help me out with the exchange!

That was the easy fix problem.  The next problem is the one that has me banging my head against my desk.  Well, not literally, but I want to.

Part of the process of getting my cats out of Singapore is requesting an export permit from the AVA.  Getting an import permit from the Philippines BAI was as simple as sending an e-mail with the details of the cats, the shipping method and date of arrival.  There was a slight hang-up due to technical issues but once we contacted them we had it back on the same day by e-mail.  The AVA is proving to be much, much more difficult.

When you go to their site there are clear links for export permits for personal pets, and it indicates that you can fill out a form online for two day processing of your request.  The problem here is that all of the links point to an online form that seems to be geared towards businesses.  There is no personal form that I can find.  The form we keep getting directed to requests some business identification number and another number I don’t recall right now, but either way, you can’t progress past the first page of the request form without filling those in.  We obviously don’t have them, and the average person wouldn’t have them either.  I keep getting the feeling that I’m looking at the wrong form, but no matter how many links I click I always wind up on that one.  My wife tried with the same results.

So, tomorrow I’m going to have to call up the AVA and figure out what the deal is.  I hope they don’t tell me something that’s going to make me throw my phone through the wall.  This process has already been stressful enough, both on my wife and I, and on my wallet.

This whole process has been a real lesson in how difficult an international move really is.  Before this, any time I’d ever moved I’d had it all arranged by the military.  Well, except for my coming to Singapore in the first place, but when I did that I gave away my furniture, electronics, and anything I couldn’t immediately use to my family, packed a few suitcases and hopped on a plane.  I suppose this wouldn’t be too much different, except for there being two of us now, if not for our cats, but we aren’t about to abandon them either.

Anyhow, the “top-up” on the carriers wasn’t free, so here’s the update:

Total damages so far: 770 SGD (approximately)

Total to go: 380 SGD (approximately)

Cat Export Preparations Update #2

We are well under way!

Last week I went to the pet store in White Sands and found IATA certified Ferstar travel carriers that will meet our needs.  They were a bit pricey at 75 bucks apiece, but since they’re airline certified I know we’ll be able to use them multiple times in the future, since the Philippines isn’t a destination so much as another stopping point to learn and enjoy life.  I opted for home delivery both because it was free and because they didn’t have 3 carriers on hand.  They had to order them from their warehouse.  A few days later I got a call saying that the carriers would take a bit longer to come in because they had to be ordered from overseas.  That’s a little troubling, since I don’t have a lot of time to play around with anymore.  They’re supposed to arrive tomorrow, so here’s hoping it pans out alright.  When we get them in, I’ll be sure to throw up some photos of the carriers and point out some of the details.

Beyond that, I called up Philippine Airlines to discuss having the cats transported along with us.  The procedures are fairly simple.  You book your tickets and then within two days prior to the flight you have to go down to their office to provide them with a copy of the export permit, import permit and health certificate.

If you’re wondering, cats (and other pets) can’t ride on the budget carriers.  You have to take one of the full fledged airlines and the only two offering the service between the Singapore and the Philippines are Singapore Airlines and Philippine Airlines.  The difference in ticket prices between SIA and PAL was about 400 SGD, so we went with the cheaper option.

Total cost of the carriers: 213 SGD (after PetLovers members discount of 5%)

Total difference in cost between premium airline tickets and budget tickets: roughly 400 SGD

Total ‘Damages’ So Far: 713 SGD (approximately)

Total to go: 380 SGD (approximately)

Stay tuned for more updates!  Also, I’ll later be compiling all of the details into a more refined post for a good walk through on how to bring cats from Singapore to the Philippines.

Graffiti At the Somerset MRT Skate-Park

The most used entrance and exit for the Somerset MRT station is the one that opens into the new 313 @ Somerset mall.  Even before that mall was there, that entrance was still the most used since it opened onto Orchard Road, which is the main shopping strip in Singapore.  I actually never even knew there was another entrance and exit until I was directed to go back into that area to find an iPhone armband for jogging at the SingTel store.

The area that surrounds that MRT entrance is very green, with tall trees and lots of grass. There’s also a skate park there.  It has half-pipes, rails and ramps, at least that I noticed.  It looked like a good place for people to hang out.  The idea of skateboarding there wasn’t what caught my attention though; it was the graffiti.

Graffiti isn’t something you see in Singapore all that much to start with, and you definitely don’t see graffiti of the quality that’s on display in this skate park.  As we passed by I snapped a few shots.

I don’t have a problem with graffiti.  I think it’s pretty cool, as long as it’s tastefully done on public areas, rather than people’s businesses or personal property.  It’s a great method of self expression and goes a long way towards cultivating artistic talents.

Kim Garry: Hong Kong Restaurant

The booths looked really comfortable but they were all full. The booths on the other side of the restaurant were roped off, since the restaurant wasn’t that full.

On Wednesday I went to meet my wife for a late lunch and she recommended we try out the Kim Garry restaurant that’s on the basement level of Tampines 1. I’d never had Hong Kong style food before, at least that I know of, so I was willing to give it a shot.

When we were seated by the hostess, she tried to squeeze us into a cramped area along the wall that was already packed with customers, so we went ahead and re-seated ourselves at a stand-alone table where we’d have more room.  If I’m going to pay for food at a restaurant I’d rather be comfortable, otherwise I’d just go pay 3 bucks for food at a hawker and squeeze in there.

This is the back of the restaurant. If I remember right, there was a window in that back wall that opened on the kitchen.
A little Engrish to liven things up.

The decor of the restaurant is really nice.  It had a stylish, modern look to it, but it felt a little incongruous given the types of food.

The borscht soup and the silverware, which was packed in a sealed container.

The food itself was good.  We started out with the borsch, which is a traditionally Russian or Polish soup that has a beet and tomato juice base.  The borsch we were served had chunks of tomato and cabbage in it as well.  I’d never had borsch before, so I have no basis for comparison but it seemed pretty good to me.

Before moving on, one more thing I’d like to point out is how they serve their silverware.  You can see it in the picture above.  It comes in a sealed container and the utensils were spotless, which is just how I like it.

The sauce was delicious and the serving was generous!

My wife had a dish that I forget the name of, but it had pork chops in garlic sauce over spaghetti noodles.  She let me have a bite of the pork chop and it tasted great!

A few pieces of the beef were chewy, and I think I screwed up picking the red wine sauce that’s under the cheese, on the rice, but it was still a good dish.

I went with the beef baked rice with cheese.  There was a choice between a white cream sauce with sweet corn and a red wine sauce.  I went with the red wine sauce, which I think may have been a mistake.  It’s sweetness threw off the whole dish.  If I go there again before departing Singapore, I’ll definitely try a baked rice dish with corn next time.

When it came time to pay the bill, we were happy with the cost.  The food seemed to be reasonably priced.

Overall, the dining experience was moderate.  It’s hard to judge a whole restaurant off of one trip and one dish, but I think this is a restaurant that’s worth going back to at least a few more times to further explore the menu, if only I had the opportunity.