Sunday, January 30, 2005

Datapoints Perth 07.

Subject: Playing tourist. Perth log Day 05-06.

Been playing tourist as the last two members of the gang arrived yesterday.

[ More photos on Calamariforthought's blog. ]

Amazing how this Perth trip has morphed. It started as a plan to do a quick in-and-out over the weekend to validate my visa. With my unemployment the trip was extended to a two week recee to check out Perth as a possible home. Then some friends decided to holiday around here at the same time and then some more other friends decide to stop by on the way to Sydney.. and now it feels like Perth is slipping away as I unintentionally bring Singapore along with me.

In the short span of 24 hours, we have done more of the tourist attractions than I have done in the last four days. We have visited the largest beaches west of Perth, poked around Fremantle, had lunch on the south banks of the Swan, visited the rock formations in the Pinnacles Desert, drove around and had a dinner picnic in Kings Park, watch the Perth city lights from the lookout after dark. Today's plan is to meet in a couple hours and to spend some time at the beaches of Fremantle.

Not that I am complaining. It is nice to have familar company - even if it distracts from my intention to watching Perth from the shadows of of anonymity. It is a good thing this bunch are not needy people who have to run a by-the-numbers holiday plan in a group. We are all staying at different places and doing our own things, only gathering at times for joint activities.


I met with with
Liana and Jelts on Friday night. One of the things that strikes you about them immediately is that they are very good-looking people. Straight off a fashion magazine minus the photoshop work. For somebody who looks scruffy all the time (even after I try to spruce myself up!), I could not help staring for a first couple of minutes after I met them. Liana looks like she just walked off a catwalk and Jelts looks like Adonis personified.

They are nice people that made me feel at home. Liana shared the last of her bottle of vodka while we waited for the beer to chill. I showed off the party trick of setting fire to vapourised vodka in an empty bottle. Jelts came back from work in time to start on the beer. Liana whipped up some food and we sat around and talked. And talked. And talked some more.

From the really trivial like how Liana and I had the exact same model of mobile phone down the shell colour.. to our shared love for Absolut.. to whether goldfish had six-second memories.. to what we thought about how the Muslim extremists in the Middle East were setting back the cause of Islam by decades.. to what we felt were the differences in business practices in different parts of the world.. to what we thought about the government systems in Europe versus Australia versus Singapore..

Jelts says I can look a cat out of a tree. Dutch expression that implies I will take a long time to examine a situation - taking so much time that I could wait until a cat gets out a tree. He is right. And I like that expression.

They are honest straight-talking people. I like honest straight-talking people. I am so tired by being judged by how I look, how much education I have, what work I do, how much money I make and what material luxuries I own. Party small-talk bores me to tears. No where in our conversation did I feel evaluated by the usual Singapore standards - where I worked, what schools I went to, how much money I made, where I live, what kind of car I drove.

Interesting snippet of conversation where Jelts and I were mocking the consumerism taking over "who we are" by "what we own".
"Hi, how are you?"
"I have six million dollars."
"Good. You must be doing fine then."

Eventually there is no "who you are" anymore. There is only "what you own". I suppose that is the idea that we do not own things. Things own us. We become defined by what stuff we have, or do not have.

It is easy to understand why Jelts (and Liana to a certain extent) would find it hard to fit into the standard sterotypes as required by Singapore society. Just the same way Joe would be totally out of place in a standardised society like Singapore. I do hope they find their place in the sun. Where ever their wanderings may take them. We are so different in many ways, yet we are travellers on the same path seeking a place where we know we belong.

[ Jelts, the answer you seek to why water flushes clockwise or anti-clockwise. ]


One of my travel companions was commenting during our picnic in Kings Park about how the Australians are very family-orientated. He was quick enough to make the link between the high income taxation rates, the socialist government and the pro-family environment.

And he is correct. With the tax rates at about 30% after A$21,600 and tax rates of 42% after A$58,000 and tax rates of 47% after A$70,000, there is no economic incentive to make a lot of money. In such an environment it would be much more rational to live a low-consumerism lifestyle, make enough money for essentials and a bit over for luxuries, and spend the rest of your time on the things that bring joy. Be it your family, or your hobby or the great Australian pastime of having a barbie (barbeque) and drinking beer.


Blogger The Legal Janitor said...

TCS: Where Have All the Children Gone?Some would disagree with your conclusion...

I, for one, am more partial to the arguments highlighted in that article.

January 30, 2005 12:50 PM  
Blogger sngck said...

Hi there!

Seems like you are enjoying yourself. I am bloody envious, but my time will come. :)

January 31, 2005 11:53 AM  
Blogger Calamity Man said...

some day you, me, my sis liana and jelts will be neighbours.

im in singapore now. i have the same sentiments as you do about a lotta things judging from your blog.

January 31, 2005 11:29 PM  
Blogger Patricea Chow said...

so, you've finalyl met the crazy duo of banana superhero gal and her man jelts. it's easy to fall in love with them, precisely because they don't try to make you do so. and it's people like these that make your journey in life, and around our little universe, more interesting and fulfilling.

enjoy your stay in perth, and hopefully, we can meet too someday.

(ok, i type too much...)

February 01, 2005 11:19 AM  
Blogger Jeff! Lim said...

(comment on

Shucks! envy, envy... I love u people, man. To be in the company of such enlightened minds should be so liberating and refreshing...

February 24, 2005 1:05 AM  

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