Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thoughts on the MRT...

So a couple of days ago, I was reading this thread on SPUG that was talking about the local public transport and fare hikes. I was reminded of that thread today while on the MRT and decided to give it a bit more thought since I was doing nothing much except staring at someone else' hair anyway.

Essentially, the discussion got to a point where we were discussing about how to increase the efficiency of MRT by carrying more passengers per train, clearing more passengers per hour etc etc.

The following are some of the suggestions tossed out, and my opinion on the viability of each opinion.

1) Utilise foldable seats such that seating capacity may be increased during off peak hours, and standing capacity may be increased during peak hours.

A good idea that would probably take quite some time to fly. Singaporeans would probably pull down the seats and sit on them during peak hours anyway. Come on, touch your heart and you know what the answer will be, don't you?

2) Increase number of cars per train to carry more passengers.

Basically anything that increases capacity can't be a bad idea. Just that our stations will need major modifications.

3) Increase frequency of trains.

Now surely this is the perfect answer for everyone? More trains equate increased passenger capacity. Additionally, if the train were to travel faster, we'd all get to where we wanted to go faster!

Now, someone raised a valid concern. Frequency of trains can only be increased to a certain level. Beyond that, it is just not possible. However, I am not able to provide you with the answer. Although some people have suggested that 1.5 - 2 mins should be easily achievable. We'll leave that question to the experts shall we?

Anyway, the concern was that, sometimes you get stuck on a train that can't pull into a station because the preceding train is still in the station. Now we're all on a train, true, but we're still not getting anywhere faster. Personally, I don't mind waiting on a train but yes, I do understand what they mean. However, I feel that in order to increase frequency of trains, increasing the travelling speed of the train is not the only factor that will contribute to the 'waiting time'.

First, I think that if there were more trains per hour, then if the number of people filling the train platform remains constant, we will have a smaller crowd waiting to board each train. This will translate to a lesser delay while the trains wait for passengers to board and alight and the trains should technically be able to move off faster.

Next we will touch on the issue that got me to thinking more about this subject. Letting people alight first.

Now, why in the world would that even matter, one might wonder. See, it's simple. The faster you let people get off, the faster you can get on. The faster you get on the train, the faster the train can move off. The faster the train can move off, the faster the next train can come in. The faster the next train can come in, the higher the possibility that you can actually get on a train without having your face stuck to the door till the next station. Wonderful solution ain't it?

How do we let people get off trains faster? First, you do NOT attempt to board the train when people are trying to alight. The idea here is to keep the doorway clear for them so that they can bugger their way out of the train faster, to make space for YOU! So that YOU can board the train! Without your face stuck to the door no less! Yay!

Next, to further ensure those irritating people alighting get out of your way faster, you should keep away from the exodus path. This means that you should let them have an area to spill out onto the train platform. I shall use some simple symbols to try and describe what I mean.

The crowd around and gawk situation.
This is where people will crowd around the train doors and gawk at the alighting passengers, being very reluctant to let them leave. It will look something like this:


This usually tends to cause the alighting people to slow down and bask in your attention. Also means that you get on the train slower. So train leaves station slower. Next train comes slower. Everyone is stuck on the platform staring at each other.

The get outta their way situation.
This is where people actually make way for the alighting passengers. That's right, admire them from afar and wish them godspeed in getting outta your way.


This usually translates to a smoother flow of people you don't want to share space with off the train. If they are not on the train, guess what happens? YOU get space on the train. Yay! They get off faster, you get on faster, train moves off faster, next train comes in faster. We're all happier cos more people get on trains every hour.

Makes sense any?

Unfortunately, this solution has one horrible weakness.

We're in Singapore.


Back to the drawing boards!

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ding Dong and alot Going On!

Well not a lot going on really but seeing as it's stuff from the past 2 weeks.....

First, SIA update! Some guy who apparently can make a decision called me up and talked to me. Yadda yadda. Anyway to make a long story short, explained stuff, apologised, and gave me mileage for the return trip made to Japan. A approximate estimation of value on the mileage given (based on a redemption for a Hong Kong airfare) would be about say.... SGD150.

Oh my friend got mileage too. They credited it to her Miles & More account though it was only 5000 miles (I got over 6000). They initially mentioned that they might not be able to credit her Miles & More account if Lufthansa did not agree to it, but in the end did manage to pull it off.

Starting Japanese language lessons next year too. All along I had benn pretty decided on taking lessons at JCS, but these couple of days, I wonder if I should try Bunka. Since enrolling at JCS is an extremely challenging task with opportunities being presented once a year (twice if you want to take the Intensive Elementary module), I decided that I will go ahead and enrol at JCS but also take up a course at Bunka.

According to what I hear, some people do this as well. Take classes at both JCS and Bunka. JCS is supposed to be very good for sticking to JLPT syllabus, whereas Bunka is supposed to have this funky approach to teach Japanese, where they will go right into grammar or something. Bunka claims to be able to teach people Japanese in a shorter time frame.

Since I have no experience in either places, I guess I will give them both a try!

Oh, I was supposed to take Japanese lessons with this friend of mine. Turns out that her degree schedule does not allow her t take the intensive course, so she will have to take the regular course and pick weekend classes. I really don't like to choose weekend classes, so I think we'll be taking classes separately. This is the friend who wanted to learn Korean and Japanese at the same time and Spanish too if possible. With her degree schedule.... not possible till second half of the year.

I'm going to skip JLPT 4 and try for JLPT 3 by the end of 2009. The JLPT test system is going to undergo a review and they are adding a new level between the current JLPT 3 and JLPT 2 by Dec 2010. I hear the new level 1 exam is also going to be a bit tougher then the curent one. I guess this is to address the current gap between JLPT 3 and JLPT 2..... I wonder if I can skip further levels lol. First target: Skip JLPT 4!

Went to a friend's wedding tonight as well. Met up with some orchestra friends that I met back in poly. Oh wow, it's been many years now. Hopefully we get a gathering going so that we an all meet up and have a bash, just like the old days (with a bit more white hair, fats and stuff lol).

Wondering if I should pick up driving too? With Japanese taking 7 hours a week...... hmm.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

SIA Fiasco Continued.

I called up the SIA Reservations desk to ask them to refer my case to the appropriate personnel while specifying that I was not interested to speak to the Customer Affairs Department since they never seem to read my email, reply accordingly, pick up phones and such. In fact, it really feels like the Customer Affairs Department is primarily run by a grand total of two staff. One who mans the phone and who goes on 8 hour tea breaks, the other who handles the email account and seems like she is on 16 week maternity leave.

The reservation desk person who picked up my call probably transferred me to the supervisor on duty. Poor girl. She started to ask me what my issue was, so I asked her if she would like me to start from the very begginning. I did and then she started to justify actions taken on SIA's part.

I started to explain the cause, which was the part where I was promised points which I was later brushed off by Krisflyer. At this point in time she started to interrupt and say that she understood and stuff and started to justify why the points cannot be issued to me. So I got ticked and told her "Since you say you understand, can you please tell me what my issue now is?"

She started to explain about the points when I interrupted her saying "I have already got the points, so that is not my issue right now"

Sigh. What kind of customer service is this really? Interrupting customers seems to be the norm.

Anyway, she said that she would refer the case to the Customer Affairs Department, but since the managers were not around (come on if they were ever around, I think I would have gotten a reply years ago) they can only call me back tomorrow morning. I told her to get me the name of the person who would call me back, but she was unable to do so since no one was around. She was on the phone with the person who has been handling (or trying to handle) my email correspondence and it turned out that it was so coincidental that she was suffering from email problems and was unable to read my latest email sent last night.

I'm such a lucky gal you know.

We'll see tomorrow!

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Back in Singapore!

Wakey wakey in the morning to move our booty to Narita Airport!

Last night wasn't a great night. We had ourselves (2 Singaporeans), A Japanese girl, a Belgian girl, a Taiwanese girl and a girl who came in so late, I didn't get a chance to speak to her so she will be unknown girl.

So my friend and I were enjoying a rather empty dorm till the evening when the Japanese girl came in. She's nice and friendly and we started chatting. The Belgian girl came in later and we all were happily chatting away.

Next came the Taiwanese girl. Somehow, she gave me some bad vibes. Anyway she was mostly off in her corner typing away on her laptop MSNing her friends. My friend later told me that she didn't like this girl as well.

Anyway, we were all chatting and stuff, the four of us, the only part where I remember the Taiwanese girl chiming in was when the Japanese girl asked us why we seemed to speak English rather well and this is where she butted in by saying that English is our official language.

Oh ho ho ho ho. So how come SELENA and that engrish teacher were so happily slamming us leh?? Huh? Trying to slam us that even though English is our official language, it's still so lousy in Singapore is it??

Anyway, I just had to show her up and said that we have four official languages in Singapore.

After like 3 hours of chatting, we decided to starting getting to sleep. So we were all pretty much settled in when this girl decides to use the ensuite bathroom. All the time I've been in the room, I've not seen anyone use that bathroom. I've only used it once the first time I was in the room cos I didn't know there was a bathroom outside.

I don't use that bathroom because it is really small and the frigging door is super noisy. So I use the bathroom outside so as not to wake the room up.

She then decides to close the sliding door... which is also noisy.

She goes on with some more MSNing and then after sometime finally decides to make her bed up. More noise.

Climbs up and down the bed, cos she was sleeping on the upper deck above me. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that when she came in, she had asked which beds were available and we told her which two were available. Unfortunately, only 2 upper deck beds were available. She looked around and started pointing to the lower deck beds asking if those were taken. Just to let you readers know, the lower deck beds were all made up and we were all sitting at the respective beds. Kinda a huge clue to anyone that the beds were not available... even if one does not understand English and thus could not understand what we said when we told them which beds were available right?

Anyway, amongst the stuff she did, while she was using her laptop while sitting on the floor, she was comfortably leaning on her backpack which was leaning my gymbag full of food! Which was dangerously close to my Final Fantasy stuff!! Had she touched them she would be minced meat I tell you.

So, because of that I was already quite unhappy. Plus all the preparatory work she could have done (all the noisy stuff) when we were all chatting away, but she didn't... all these made me so mad I almost couldn't sleep. Grr, I only slept at 0300 hrs JPT and I needed to be awake by 0630hrs.

Oh the weather was actually quite cool and it's the kind where you snuggle into futons. I don't think the aircon was on, but she switched it on to 28 degrees. I didn't realise that actually, I was concerned that she made it colder. The Belgian girl noticed it and asked her whether she was really cold. The aircon was set to 25.

Later on, there was some really weird thumping sound which sounded like it came from the direction of the ensuite bathroom. It was seriously disturbing. Like someone pounding on the wall. Guess who was in the bathroom?? No prizes!

Somehow made it to 0300.... I tell you, if it were not for the other girls in the room, I would have made it a point that she will suffer!

The next morning over tea, the Japanese girl and us were discussing the late night antics. OMG. It was just exasperating.

After saying our goodbyes, it was time to head off to Narita. We didn't take the Narita Express, as the hostel staff advised us that the local train takes just about the same length of time to reach Narita and is much cheaper.

We got to Narita and we needed to get to the 4th floor for internation departures. I think my friend was cursing and swearing by then lol. Checkin was a little crowded, but I had done internet check in so halfway through the queue, I spotted a line for internet check in. My friend wanted to remain in the queue so we did for a while, then I pointed out to her that the internet check in line was empty whereas the line we were in was still a ways to go, so we scuttled over.

While checking in, we did what the air steward advised us to do on our way to Osaka, place our meal request with the check in staff. Since it was not 24 hours before the flight (I had wondered about whether there was sufficient time to prepare the food if we only told them at the airport, but we were only following SIA air steward instructions), they told us that they could not guarantee the meals but would do their best.

Our meal requests turned out fine, my friend ended up having to take Oriental Vegetarian because she requested for a non beef and non seafood meal. I asked for non beef only and I got a fish meal. My main course was Poached White Fish, entree was Smoked Salmon, there was a bun and butter to go with it and a cracker with yummy cheese to go with it. OOOh. Food's great. Once you can get it in your mouth that is.

So once we were airborne, we were rather bored since Krisworld was not available.... they had system problems with Krisworld. On an A380. New plane. WTH. It took about 20 mins before they had it settled. Krisworld is great, once they get it working.

The pilot didn't seem to know his crew well as during the introductions he couldn't name his chief steward (or was it stewardess, I have no clue since he was hemming and hawwing). I guess as long as he can fly the plane it's fine. I think the weather might have been a little bad, the initial take off part was so smooth I was pretty impressed, but then it started getting jerky. >.> Kinda like in a mini rodeo.

After hours of watching movies, we landed in Singapore and taxied to the aerobridge. Once the plane systems shut down, the whole plane was dark since the ground supply didn't cut in. I was happily seated in my chair and everyone else was standing around waiting. Come on guys, if the plane has no power, the doors are not gonna open!

The pilot was funny while trying to explain the loss of power, he also requested our understanding I think. I'm not sure really. He said "I understand that you bear with us while we get this sorted out."

I'm still trying to decipher that.

Back home.


Now on to deal with SIA.

Oh, dinner was at T3 Dian Xiao Er. Weird people there wanted the 3 numbers on the back of my credit card and had me signo n the receipt. I was using VISA Paywave for goodness sake.

Weirdos. Never had to do that in other Dian Xiao Er restaurants and obviously the cashier could not answer why when questioned.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

SE Store

My friend threw away the map to SE Store last night....... She can't find a location WITH a map so I guess she figured might as well toss it. Anyway, managed to find SE Store. It was OMG!!! from the second I walked in.

First I saw slimes from Dragonquest, not interested... then I saw the chocobos! Then it all started.

All you guys need to know is that I made it to the SE Character Goods store, I saw Sephiroth. I bought stuff.


Hey, it's all for my birthday ok??

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Mt Fuji!

Got back from Fuji today. Went out to stay at one of the five lakes of Fuji last night. We were brought by my friend's boss' friend. Turns out that there's an agenda behind it.

She brought us to Fo Guang Shan (Ben Xi Branch) to stay. It's a nice view and not a bad place  to stay because it used to be a training school so it pretty much had proper accomodations. The bath area even had a soaking pool, not really onsen but it's supposed to be water from the snow on Mt Fuji. So what's the agenda? The people there were really nice, but you can feel the constant propaganda barrage. I guess they just want to share their beliefs but the stay costs 5000 JPY a night though it includes dinner and breakfast (vegetarian by the way). It's not free lol.

The next day, which is this morning, 2 of our group of 5 woke up to watch the sunrise. I watched the sunrise with Zhou Gong. After breakfast, we packed and prepared to move on. 

First stop of the day is at a flower and bird park kinda thing. Normally costs 1025 JPY but we got in for 800 JPY. Too expensive imho.

Then it was on to the 5th Station. Along the way, we had a few stops to take photos. Unfortunately, the sun was always shining directly at me, so I can only hope for reasonable results.

It's pretty cold up there so we took photos, visited the temple at 5th station, checked out the souvenir shop and then went on our way down.

Had lunch along the way and then we got back to Asakusa to check back into our hostel. This time our dorm room is an all girl's room. It's actually the same dorm room we stayed in before Hakone sans the guys. Feels so much cleaner now lol.

Tomorrow, SE Store!

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