19 May 2007

Chinese writing '8,000 years old'

Quoting from an article on the BBC:

"State media say researchers identified more than 2,000 pictorial symbols dating back 8,000 years, on cliff faces in the north-west of the country."

Would history books be re-written?

Quote from an article on a Chinese site:

"The Damaidi carvings, first discovered in the late 1980s, cover15 square kilometers with 3,172 cliff carvings, featuring 8,453 individual figures such as the sun, moon, stars, gods and scenes of hunting or grazing. "

18 May 2007

Angus McBride's passing

From the Osprey website:

"It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing away of Angus McBride, one of the world's most respected historical illustrators and a true friend of Osprey."

I have long admired his work in Osprey books, Lord of the Rings roleplaying rulebooks and supplements and a host of other books over the years. A great illustrator.
It's so fast. It's ready Friday. Desmond informed me that Fouridine is back from the USA and everyone will be meeting at Food Republic at Vivocity this evening.
Wars and Warriors: Joan of Arc

Trevor Chan, the celebrated designer of strategy games, Capitalism II and Seven Kingdoms, came up with 'Wars and Warriors: Joan of Arc' in 2004. This game marked a departure for him in that it incorporated action of a sort more akin to those in console games. Combo strikes, food (health) pickups were the order of the day!

I got it for $9.95 at Popular Bookstore at Junction 8 two days ago. I was glad that I had waited as I had not wanted to pay the full retail of $59.95 when it was first released two years ago.

First impressions? Well, I rushed through the first mission. Then, I played the extended large second mission which was not simple due to certain 'puzzle-solving' elements. One had to do certain things which were not very clear but they could be solved by trial and error. I had enjoyed myself quite a bit but I could see how difficult and probably frustrating the game could get later on.

17 May 2007

Azhang Food & Beverages

I had dinner with Colin at Azhang Food & Beverages one evening. The steak was wonderful. Avoid the corn salad though.
The Undiscovered Mind

I bought 'The Undiscovered Mind: How the Brain defies Explanation' by John Horgan a year ago at Kinokuniya at Liang Court. Somehow, I didn't manage to read it last year. Right now, I am racing through it. Intriguing! A survey of the field by an ex-Scientific American writer rather than yet another examination of case studies.
State of Progress: Tribal Wars, World 5

I just took another 6000+ pt village. It was from an ex-tribesmate who for some unknown reason had stopped playing.

I have been building and building troops. In the name of conquest!
Blogger on Singnet has been very screwy these days.
Legion Arena

'Legion Arena' is an interesting game based on the individual battles of the ascent of Rome. It is a surprise package which I picked up at Bugis Junction for $9.95! I had not expected much but I ended up finishing the Roman campaign and enjoying it tremendously.

The game simulates individual battles in real time with a large emphasis on morale. The units modelled appears reasonably accurate in my opinion. The suspect heavy and light cavalry, the steadfast infantry units, the skirmishers and missile units and more. The command and control aspects. The variety of orders.

Units gain experience from battle to battle and have the choice to purchase better equipment. Of course, units don't live for centuries which is what the course of the campaign will entail. However, one can argue that that experience models the unit histories, unit oral traditions and the evolution of tactics. Likewise, the equipment purchase can presumably model the improvement in equipment.

The battles modelled includes that of Rome as a city state under kings, Rome as a republic and finally Rome as an empire. Following the ascent of Octavian, the campaign ends. There are battles against the Etruscans, Samnites, Volsci, Carthaginians, Alpine Gauls, Macedonians, and more. There will also be battles in the Roman civil war and the slave revolt. Great stuff!
I have not played the Celtic campaign as I am not particularly interested.

'Legion Arena' is a fast-playing and light game. If you enjoy learning and reading history, this game may be for you. Highly recommended.

16 May 2007

Brochure of the MacRitchie Trails

Whether you are going for a hike, a run or simply exploring, this brochure, which can be picked up at the Ranger Station, is invaluable due to the map. The National Parks Board website has the same map online.
Islamists from Indonesia training Muslim Insurgents in Southern Thailand

It is not unexpected that covert support would come from neighbouring Muslim states.

Quoting from an article in Army Technology:

"Militants from Indonesia may have trained southern Thai Muslims to decapitate or use other grisly tactics in their bloody separatist campaign, an Army spokesman said on Monday as another Buddhist man was shot and beheaded."

"You really need to know certain bones of the necks to behead someone and Thais don't really know how," Acra. "You need someone to be trained overseas or foreign trainers to teach them how."

The interrogation of captured insurgents suggested that foreign trainers, suspected to be Indonesian, were present in Thailand giving training through translators, he said."

Now, one wonders if support had been given by neighbouring Islamic states. It would not be unthinkable.
Japan's Greatest Victory, Britain's Worst Defeat

It took long enough. I have finally located the volume by Masanobu Tsuji titled 'Japan's Greatest Victory, Britain's Worst Defeat'. It had slipped my notice previously but I located this at the most unlikely of places. Popular Bookstore at Junction 8.

15 May 2007

Art Decor Dwelling

There are still a number of these old nondescript Art Decor buildings scattered throughout Singapore, forgotten remnants of a previous age. Here is a prime example, lying off Newton Road.
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13 May 2007

A Guide to Hiking in the Central Catchment Reserve

A Guide to Hiking in the Central Catchment Reserve

Here is a short guide to hiking in there. I am assuming that one would want to venture off the trail into the rainforest, for instance, visiting the ruins of the Shinto shrine as we did. However, if one would stay on the trail, well, one need not really bring anything actually. Shorts, T-shirt and sandals would be enough.

Most paramount:

1. Respect nature. It can be cruel and unforgiving. In other words, be prepared. Know what you are capable of before heading in there. Have a plan.

2. Tell someone where you are going before you go. Tell them when you will be back.

3. Go with someone reliable. Don't go with girly men, whiners, people with ego problems, etc. In other words, go with people you can trust. When you are stuck in there with a sprained ankle or broken anke, it is not funny.

4. Have some semblance of fitness. One need not be a fitness guru though.

5. Good footwear. Sandals are alright only if they don't fall apart halfway. Extra pairs of socks would be nice.

6. Proper equipment. Get a proper compass. Not one of those on a watch strap. Those are a joke. One needs to be able to tell directions when one is in there. A torchlight can be useful. Waterproof the fragile items in case of rain. Put them in clear ziplock bags.

7. Bring enough water. Especially if one isn't very fit, one will consume more water. Water discipline can come in useful. Food is not really necessary. Three litres or four at least.

8. For women, tissues and toilet paper may be useful though one will hardly need to relieve oneself due to sweating.

9. Band-aids and anti-sceptic cream or liquid can be useful to treat small scratches.

10. Mosquitoes. Surprisingly, very few. Insect repellent can be useful though not necessary.

11. Long-sleeved clothing can be useful in warding off thorns.

12. Umbrellas or raincoats aren't necessary but if there is a heavy downpour, it is nice to have them.

13. Have a cut-off time. ie 3:00 pm. Go out when the time is up. The rainforest gets dark very early. ie 4:00 pm.

14. Keep one's trash in one's bag. Don't litter.

15. Don't go trashing the rainforest either.

16. Don't go capturing monkeys, slaying squirrels and gutting snakes.

17. Respect the old ruins. Please, don't light candles on the font and be an ass.

18. At the end of the day, this is Singapore, one need only walk in a east or west direction and one will hit a road or house. It's a garden compared to the real jungles in the surrounding countries.

19. Most important of all, have fun!

If you have questions, feel free to write me.

The Hiking Trip, 05.05.2007, Saturday

The Hiking Trip, 05.05.2007, Saturday

The following is a collation of images and commentaries of our hiking trip to the ruins of the Shinto shrine and our hike from the western edge of the Central Catchment Reserve to the eastern edge of the reserve:

Hiking in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve

On the Trail

The Rifle Range Link

A Verdant Landscape


The Crossroads

The Petaling Trail

The Petaling Trail II

The Petaling Hut

The Depths of the Rainforest

Meandering Path

The Concrete Structure in the Wilds

Stone Columns amidst the Wilderness

The Waters' Edge

The Flight of Stairs (Syonan Jinja)

Stairway to a Forgotten Past (Syonan Jinja)

The only way is up! (Syonan Jinja)

The View from the Top

The Ruins of the Shinto Shrine (Syonan Jinja)

The Ruins of the Shinto Shrine II (Syonan Jinja)

The View from the Top of the Rampart

The Ruins of the Shinto Shrine III (Syonan Jinja)

Descent (Syonan Jinja)

At the Northwestern Edge of MacRitchie Reservoir I

At the Northwestern Edge of MacRitchie Reservoir II

Resting at the the Bund

The Lost Structure


A Surprise at the Petaling Hut

At the Ranger Station

Island Club Road

Venus Link I

Venus Link II

Venus Link III

Venus Link IV

Venus Link V

Venus Link VI

Venus Drive Carpark

Kelvin's images: An Alternative View
Venus Drive Carpark

At 5:30 pm, we finally emerged from the rainforest.

We took out our carefully wrapped rubbish and deposited them in the bins nearby.

We packed up and walked out. Kelvin and I grabbed a taxi to Novena Square. He took a train to Jurong Point and had a pizza before falling asleep at home. Tony slept for the next twelve hours when he reached home. I went to have my mother's birthday dinner with at the Li Bai restaurant before going home. I subsequently slept for eleven hours.

All in all, this had been an extremely satisfying journey. We had started at 9:30 am and had stopped at 5:30 pm. We had been prepared. We had made plans and also a cut-off time. We had ensured that everyone in this trip were reliable, thinking people. No girly men, no whiners, no egotistical idiots. I have a few friends who I would term as girly men or neurotic or whatever. These would be liabilities if they should had come along. A great trip with great company and great people. I hope to do this again one day.

We have a more ambitious one in future which was originally dreamt up by Tony and Jon. This would be discussed later.

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Venus Link VI

Modernity juxtapositioned within nature. Contrasting views.

A busy throughfare was just a short distance off this oasis of tranquility.

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Venus Link V

Civilisation! An hour later, we could see condominium blocks off Upper Thomson Road.

Nature at our doorstep!

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Venus Link IV

It was quite an eye-opener for me. I had wondered where Venus Drive led to. Now, I know.

Concealed beauty within urban Singapore.

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Venus Link III

Several streams merged into one.

The trail meandered.

Amidst the greenery.

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Venus Link II

Venus Link ran alongside a stream of clear running water for a considerable distance of a few kilometres.

Still, it was a nice leisurely walk.

Quite picturesque.

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Venus Link I

It was ironic as we saw people exercising within the air-conditioned glass enclosure of the club while there was a huge nature reserve with fresh air just a stone's throw away. It was akin to people visiting Sleeping Beauty's Castle in Eurodisney in Paris when the real castle in Bavaria which the fake was modelled upon was just across the border.

There was some kind of an area with shanty huts and shacks next to the Singapore Island Country Club.

We were then at Venus Link. Here, the guys stopped and rested and washed their boots at a stream of clear running water.

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Island Club Road

We talked by a huge PUB water treatment facility before reaching Island Club Road. We could see the golf course and clubhouses.

There were so many people here. Student groups, old folks and more.

We headed towards Venus Link.

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At the Ranger Station

A short walk through the Sime Track had revealed the extent of the damage caused by the landslide. Part of the track had been crumbled into a ten metre deep valley. However, it was still possible to get through.

Shortly after, we reached the Ranger Station. We went to the restrooms to wash up somewhat.

Jon was mistaken for a forest ranger due to his camouflage gear by some Vietnamese tourists with a strong American accent.

There were numerous visitors there.

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