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A Personal Note: Harriet (my wife) and I jointly share a spirit of adventure. As we have no mortgage, we are free to travel the world financially. We built a handmade house in 1981 on five acres of land 35 kms. out of Brisbane, Australia for minimal money.
See the house / land posts:
OUR HOUSE …. An Overview
OUR HOUSE ….The Actual Garden See the photos of the house and garden and the history of how we obtained rejected materials like from the Supreme Courthouse stone (where the Law Courts are now in Brisbane) …. two loads for nothing in 1980. They dumped 100’s of cubic metres as fill and built a school over the top. The stone was cut out of the Kangaroo Points Cliffs in 1877.
See these travel posts:
- Ken and Harriet’s Travel posts from 2003 to 2018. I wrote this in April 2020 even though this New Zealand Travel Blog May 2010.
- An International Perspective ….. Ken and Harriet’s Travel post from 2003 to 2018
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Harriet and I went on a three-week holiday to France from the 8th – 29th May 2007. On the way over to France, we stopped off in Singapore for two days.
I have a Brain Injury website that connects hundreds of Brain Injured people around the world. The dominant theme of the Brain Injury Community is: ‘Becoming a Brain Injury Thriver and not just Survivor’.
I personally went through a life-changing situation. In December 1995, I sustained a severe brain injury by falling off a boogie-board in shallow surf at Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia. Consequently, I was in a coma for four weeks, confined in the hospital for six months, had to learn everything all over again. These things included:
- Walking, talking, and eating solid food again
- Get my brain back together from a very scrambled state and learn to live with a new me
- Lost a lot of intuitive ability to discern what other people are saying ….. although that has largely come back now
- I cannot drive twenty-three years (1995-2019) out from my accident …. but I have learned to drive on the Internet …. to go around the world in a few minutes and see hundreds of people at the same time
At the moment these are my continuing challenges:
My balance is still a bit out at the moment this means:
- I cannot ride a bicycle now ….. Used to ride for kilometres when I had one when I was younger. I would now fall off a bicycle from a lack of balance
- I have to be careful in walking up narrow paths
- I have to come down backward still on steep steps at home whilst holding onto the banister
- My mind has slowed right down …. It is hard to take initiative in one’s life and make clear decisions. The result of this for me is that my wife Harriet now to manages all the finances on a day-to-day basis.
I sent out a wonderful story on the theme of ‘Becoming a Brain Injury Thriver and not just Survivor’. I had an e-mail response from Takalah Tan in Singapore. Several years earlier, I had read Takalah’s story on a City News website he had sent me. I then had another reply from him in April. I wrote back to Takalah and said that Harriet and I would be stopping over for a day in Singapore in early May on an overseas holiday trip to France in May. I would like to catch up with him when we are there. He wrote back and said that when we got to Singapore, he would like to connect with me, and here was his mobile phone number. He would come to our hotel and take us out to lunch.
We were staying at The Peninsula Excelsior Hotel. See the website at:
The Peninsula Excelsior Hotel lounge & office
We spent the morning walking around Singapore and looking at the history and some of the old buildings from the 1800’s when Singapore had been started as a city. See the photographs and words below.
Raffles: Raffles Hotel is one of Singapore’s most graceful landmarks. This luxury Singapore hotel celebrates a tradition of unwavering service excellence spanning more than 125 years. Immortalized in the novels of Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling, Raffles Hotel, Singapore’s colonial-style architecture, and lush tropical gardens exude an atmosphere of timeless elegance. This luxurious Singapore hotel lies in the heart of the city, in close proximity to the banking and financial districts, Raffles City Convention Centre, Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre (SICEC), as well as leisure attractions including the casino at Marina Bay; the cultural sights of Arab Street and Chinatown and shopping at Raffles City shopping mall and Orchard Road shopping belt.
Raffles Hotel courtyard
The vegetation of palm trees and a luxuriant understorey of broad-leaved tropical plants
Singapore City: Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is an island city-state in Southeast Asia. It lies one degree north of the equator, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia’s Riau Islands to the south and Peninsular Malaysia to the north. Singapore’s territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23%. The country is known for its transition from a developing to a developed one in a single generation under the leadership of its founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Photos of Singapore City: On the first day we had from 8.00 am. till 11 am. to walk around Singapore City initially to see as many sights as possible. We then had planned to meet Takalah Tan at 11 am. at our hotel. On the second day, we had all day in Singapore City to see the sites before we went to France.
A high-rise building in Singapore City
Looking down into a sunken courtyard in Singapore city. There is a feeling to explore …. you feel as though you are protected in this urban environment.
A coffee shop very early in the morning before people start to arrive. See the photos above and below.
Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce
Takalah came at 11.00 a.m. in morning. It was a strange experience in actually seeing him in actuality versus only seeing him on a website photograph. He took us out to his district or community on Singapore’s very efficient train system. We went to a communal restaurant where Takalah went around the various restaurant owners introducing us in a very personal way as his Australian friends. It was interesting to us as Australians to see how Singapore is very different from many Western cities. It is the mixing of Eastern culture (Chinese) with Western Culture. An Eastern culture focuses more on the family and the community (Cooperative) whereas Western Culture is highly individualized (Competitive and Corporate).
Singapore is a nation where the East is meeting the West and has a unique city of contrasts …… the past is retained and the West is encouraged. I saw this clearly when I was reading the freely available magazine ‘Voices of Central Singapore’ and I read on the one-page article by Zainudim Nordin, mayor of Central Singapore District when he wrote ‘What have You Done For Your Neighbor Lately?’
He says ‘I think we can all agree that having a cohesive communal society is one of the greatest strengths a nation can have …… in a community we will work together for a common goal. We can put aside our differences and fulfill our role as active citizens. Working towards a common good also teaches cooperation, understanding and the ability to listen to others. It also helps to resolve conflicts. Be a volunteer: It could be your contribution towards building a united and resilient community, the basic building block of a cohesive and strong Singapore.’
The Government of Singapore has seen Singapore as a cohesive community with the whole city broken up into interconnecting cohesive communities. Each community was to work towards the common good of the community. Each community had its own residential, leisure, shopping, and transport hub. Each community had an interconnecting transport system ….. the train system which connected each community with the next.
We even caught the train out to where Takalah lived in a residential complex at Woodlands with his mother and brother.
Scenes in walking to Takalah’s residential complex:
Blocks of apartments where people hang their washing out to dry on extended clotheslines.
Takalah took us out to his community to the communal restaurant and the communal shopping centre (things are so cheap in Singapore compared to Australia where I come from) and the general layout of the community, we saw this COMMUNAL MODEL being well illustrated.
I wanted to buy a small portable seat I could sit on when resting, so Takalah took us out to his communal shopping centre.
We even caught the train out to where he lived in a residential complex with his mother in Woodlands. We walked up to his apartment block and caught the lift right up on one of the upper levels of the block (13th level). See the photographs below.
The three of us together: Ken Aitken, Takalah Tan & Harriet Aitken. It is really amazing that Ken & Takalah initially met over an e-mail story I had sent around the world in April 2007 and we finally meet in person in May 2007 when we had a two-day stopover in Singapore en-route to France for three week holiday there.