Tuesday
Jun082010

The More Spills Change, The More They Stay The Same

Friday
Apr232010

very cool photos from Eyjafjallajokull

Monday
Apr122010

Work Life Balance

I like Nicholas Bates' writing - it is brief, yet eloquent and regularly provokes me to think and act differently.

For example, consider this as my interpretation of his post on Work Life Balance:

  1. discuss and agree with your partner what 'work/life balance' is
  2. switch off more
  3. create zones of peace: physical and/or time
  4. reduce multi-tasking
  5. be 'here' now
  6. realise you cannot do everything, so prioritise
  7. accept you will never have enough time, so make choices

Please refer to Nicholas' blog article for a slightly longer discussion of each point.

Friday
Apr022010

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

This song, which we sung at church this morning for Easter Friday, has increasing meaning for me as the years go by:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died
My richest gain I count but loss
And pour contempt on all my pride

Forbid it Lord, that I should boast
Save in the death of Christ my God
All the vain things that charm me most
I sacrifice them to His blood

See, from His head, His hands, His feet
Sorrow and love flow mingled down
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine
That were a present far too small
Love so amazing, so divine
Demands my soul, my life, my all

Monday
Mar152010

Gridiron WLG v AKL ThunderBowl

Our house looks down on Raroa Park from Broadmeadows, and when I saw this game going on last Saturday I decided watching it with Joel and taking a few photos would be relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

This is probably the best photo I took with the hills & harbour in the background but unfortunately I only 'saw' this perspective when reviewing my photos at home so didn't line up any others.

The game was the Thunder Bowl being a playoff of the best players from the Auckland & Wellington club competitions. It wasn’t clear whether it was selected/representative sides, or whether it was the year’s best club from each city. We left at about the ¾ mark when Auckland were up 18-0.

We really enjoyed it. The game wasn’t the highest quality in terms of playing standards, but we are quite intrigued by gridiron after the NOLA Saints winning the Super Bowl, and because we often see these games from our house. Seems they’re played in summer for both the fun of it and also as summer fitness training for the rugby league boys.

Click on the photo to see the full size original.

Saturday
Mar132010

Wellington by Night from Broadmeadows

This is my first attempt at night photography. The view of Wellington by night from our home in Broadmeadows.

Canon 400D on a tripod at 1600 ISO on 50mm prime lens at 1.8 aperture priority for which the camera chose a 1/5s shutter speed, then a little touching in Picassa.

Click on the photo to see the full size original.

Thursday
Mar042010

Where Independent Professionals Succeed and Large Firms Fail

I received the regular email newsletter today from RainToday.com. It contains an excellent article by Andrew Sobel (pictured) titled "Where Independent Professionals Succeed and Large Firms Fail". It expands on these key points on where independent professionals can succeed:

  1. Create personal brands by building individual market renown;
  2. Regularly develop and disseminate intellectual capital;
  3. Focus on conversations, not PowerPoint;
  4. Try to achieve success, not perfection;
  5. Have learned to eliminate non-value added activities;
  6. Take responsibility for their personal development;
  7. Organize around clients
  8. Truly act like it's their money.

This is very good advice for me, given that a lot of my work is by nature freelance or independent consulting.

How do you achieve success?

Monday
Mar012010

Chile Earthquake & the Tsunami

Before I say anything more my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Chile as they deal with the devastation and loss of life caused by the weekend's earthquake.

It is an interesting insight into our culture that most of the coverage and commentary online and on TV yesterday here in New Zealand was about the tsunami heading our way, rather than the earthquake itself.  Quite sad really.  Are we really that self-absorbed as a country?

Whilst many NZers plans for yesterday had to be changed - for example our church youth group went to the local pool instead of the beach as planned - this is trivial compared to dealing with the aftermath of such an earthquake, the loss of loved ones, etc.

That said, it was interesting to see how NZ responded to the threat of a tsunami.  The threat turned out to be real, but not as dramatic as initial reports and warnings suggested it might be. The photo to the top left shows the water level in inner Wellington harbour late Sunday afternoon.  High tide is usually just below this board walk.

It is a sad reminder of the idiocy of some people to see reports of people going to the beach while the tsunami warning was still in place.  They not only put themselves at risk, but also emergency services personnel who would have been called on if they got into difficulty.  And, we as taxpayers would have had to fund treatment for any injuries they sustained, which could quite easily have been horrific.

An interesting side question is how will NZ respond next time?  This time was real, but not dramatic.  Will people respect the warnings next time?

hat tip to 'eye of the fish' for the link to the image in the comments of their post on this

Thursday
Feb182010

IT Costs of the Proposed GST Increase

Over at my company's blog I've written about the IT costs associated with the proposed GST increase, and some advice on what to do.

The article is JDE centric as that is the system Jireh specialises in, but the advice is easily transferrable to other systems.

comments are disabled on this post so you can comment on the original post at my company's blog

Tuesday
Feb162010

Jazz is the art of aligning talent so it can perform well

I'm really enjoying getting the regular email newsletter from Brian Fraser of Jazzthink. Overnight this gem - Brian's tip for this month - arrived in my inbox:

Jazz is the art of aligning talent so it can perform well. Musicians discover and develop their own talent through practice - lots of practice - so they can express their genius. They join with others who have done the same to align themselves in playing melodies, rhythms, and harmonies that keep them all in sync and please their audiences. From the core of their genius they align with others to play the core of their common purpose. Exceptional managers and leaders model this process and create an inviting space for it to happen consistently.

Friday
Feb122010

iTunes libraries across 2 PCs

I've transferred my iTunes library from my netbook to my laptop.

In doing so it occurred to me to try sync'ing some items to my iPhone from my laptop and some from another PC as I'd previously seen a hint this was possible.

Turns out it is.

So I now sync podcasts & apps from my laptop, and music, audiobooks, movies & photos from the family PC - which contains the masters anyway.

This has released GBs of space on my laptop as I only had copies of the music, audiobook, movie & photo files on the laptop so as to sync them to my iPhone.

Thursday
Jan212010

Haiti, I was sick & you looked after me

Update: Mike & Susanne have blogged further details, as have Chad & Cindy.

I have written previously of my sister Susanne and brother-in-law Mike and their move back to New Orleans in 2006 to assist with rebuilding that devastated city after Hurricane Katrina. I just spoke to both of them by phone to hear of their plans to go to Haiti to use the experiences and skills they and their team have developed.

The men from their New Orleans based team (Mike, Chad, Kyle and Adam) are deploying to Haiti via Miami in the next few days; initially for 4-6 weeks. Some of the women in their team would like to go too, but it is simply not safe enough yet.

The skills and experience they have gained in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina will be of direct relevance to immediate and presenting needs in Haiti following the earthquakes there.

Initially they will assist a fellow team from Miami who have found a way to keep a hospital in Haiti supplied with diesel for generators and other supplies via the neighbouring Dominican Republic. The Miami team have secured access to a private plane and airstrips to get supplies over from the USA into the Dominican Republic (2 hour flight) and then by truck to the hospital in Haiti (12 hour drive). The initial delivery arrived only hours before the hospital would have run out of diesel. The Miami team have been doing it almost non-stop for over a week now and are exhausted. The United Nations and US Army have noticed what they are doing and are astounded at their resourcefulness and are now providing support eg the 82nd Airborne is escorting them.

On top of the 200,000 who died in the earthquake there are now reports of 20,000 dying every day for the lack of basics - water, food, hospital care, etc. This ministry of helping keeping a hospital running will have enormous impact.

Please pray for Mike, Chad, Kyle, Adam and the Miami team as they embark on this mission - safety, health, tiredness, that they can handle the sights they will have to experience, etc. Also for the families they leave behind in New Orleans and Miami - who have to handle everything in their absence.

If you feel compelled to contribute directly to the costs of this mission please contact me and I will help you make a donation.

Matthew 25:35-36 "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."

image courtesy Washington Post

Thursday
Jan142010

Mind Mapping Software

I've not often used mind mapping as an idea capture technique because it didn't seem to suit my personal style. However, recently a colleague recommended I try it again, and I now like it!

Wikipedia describes a mind map as:

"... a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, decision making, and writing.

The elements of a given mind map are arranged intuitively according to the importance of the concepts, and are classified into groupings, branches, or areas, with the goal of representing semantic or other connections between portions of information. Mind maps may also aid recall of existing memories.

By presenting ideas in a radial, graphical, non-linear manner, mind maps encourage a brainstorming approach to planning and organizational tasks. Though the branches of a mindmap represent hierarchical tree structures, their radial arrangement disrupts the prioritizing of concepts typically associated with hierarchies presented with more linear visual cues. This orientation towards brainstorming encourages users to enumerate and connect concepts without a tendency to begin within a particular conceptual framework.".

In workshops for clients I've started creating maps on whiteboards and flip charts, but I also like to capture thoughts in this format directly into my PC where I archive everything of value.

I've found the following software options seem to work best for me:

  1. FreeMind is free PC mind mapping software which I've found to be functionally strong, easy to use and creates mind maps which are very visually presentable (eg in client reports);
  2. I also sometimes use Personal Brain but even the free option is significantly more functionally extensive than just mind mapping, so I don’t find it as easy to use as FreeMind;
  3. on my iPhone I use Simple Mind - whilst there is a free version which creates jpg images in your phone's photo camera roll the paid version also saves out to the web in pdf, jpg and freemind format for further editing on your PC.

What do you use?

Saturday
Jan022010

Welcome to 2010

Happy new year! and welcome to 2010.

2009 was my first complete calendar year of self-employment. I'm really enjoying my portfolio career comprising project management, JDE consulting and business coaching.

At Christmas I completed the IT programme/project management role that enabled me to leave fulltime employment; and which has occupied a significant portion of my time these past 15 months. It was very satisfying to leave having delivered the full scope (plus some) across ten projects for my client - on time and 10% below budget!

It is also very satisfying heading into 2010 with my personal consulting capacity almost fully booked until April by which time 2 of my current 5 projects should be complete. This will allow me to work part-time and largely remotely during January while enjoying four weeks away with the family.

Over the Christmas / New Year break I've managed to do a few things I've been intending to do for years. A bike ride out to Pencarrow lighthouse and a walk around Matiu (Somes Island) in Wellington harbour. Both of which we see clearly from our house (when we're not hiding inside the cloud!).

2009 I've really enjoyed getting into photography with the purchase of a digital SLR camera. I already have lots of photos to sort through while away on holiday. I will post some of the better ones here.

Blogging took a bit of a back seat in 2009 particularly during the second half of the year. Partly because I needed to focus my time on my family and businesses - but also because I seem to have lost my voice in a blogging sense. One of my goals for 2010 is to re-explore this medium of expression.

Spiritually my personal faith is as strong as ever but I need to find refreshing ways in 2010 to live out my faith in meaningful ways that connect with my developing understanding of God and ministry. More on this later.

In July we had a great time visiting family in the USA. A very special 11 days in New Orleans followed by 4 days in LA at Disneyland and a day trip down to San Diego. Some rich family experiences and memories.

2010 will be a year of change for our family with a significant birthday (cough cough 40 cough cough - for a certain spouse!), a 20th wedding anniversary, our youngest starting his high school career and our oldest in her last year of high school. Good times. Like every other year we choose to live every moment to the full.

2010 I also need to devote more time to my closest friends who have also been somewhat neglected whilst I built my businesses.

So, I thank God for the blessings of a fulfilling and rewarding 2009 and look forward to what we'll do together in 2010.

How is 2010 looking for you?

Monday
Dec072009

Bringing Back Perspective

A useful reminder from Nicholas Bates of some simple techniques to bring back perspective:

  1. Hug her. For longer, looking deeper into her eyes.
  2. Drive the scenic route: country, mountain, desert, coast. Sure, you’ve  got time.
  3. List your blessings.
  4. Remember those crazy dreams you had as a kid? Time to resurrect some of them.
  5. You're going to take the stairs, rather than the lift.
  6. There's a brand new working week of opportunity ahead.
  7. Consider for a moment: pretty well everything is getting better; the rest, well, you can handle it.
Sunday
Nov222009

One Day Each Week Should Be Different

I'm enjoying reading The High Calling of our Daily Work blog, which regularly reminds me of the dignity and holiness inherent in work.

Today I have read a timely reminder on the value of taking a break from work, and in particular that "one day each week should be different".

This, of course, aligns with the discipline I attempt to maintain of 'diverting daily, withdrawing weekly, and abandoning annually'.

Sunday
Nov082009

Why Google Wave?

I wrote last week on my interest in, and the beginnings of my trialling of, Google Wave.

A commenter on that article pointed to one of the many document sharing sites out there as an alternative. This prompted me to think deeper on why Google Wave has me so intrigued, when there are plenty of collaboration services which I could implement in a way that would meet my needs.

My initial thoughts were - with my subsequent thoughts in italics:

  1. I'm looking for something to collaborate on docs (ie edit too) not just share them - the commenter pointed to a sharing site;
  2. Wave is from Google and therefore much more likely to become more pervasive if it succeeds - as a consultant working with an ever changing array of multiple customers and partnering organisations I collect too many systems, UserIDs and passwords as it is, if Google Wave takes off and removes a need for a lot of them (I don't expect it to replace all of them) that would simplify my life and hopefully enable me to deliver value to my customers quicker - rather than being distracted as I often am now by having to learn yet another system with yet another pair of UserID and password credentials;
  3. because it is designed ground up as an open protocol - very soon other providers will be able to provide Wave servers, and waves will federate among them so it won't be a closed system like too many of the current alternates - as well as the points made in 2 this one is particularly relevant to my work as a consultant working with an ever changing array of multiple customers and partnering organisations - I don't always get to choose which systems I have to work with as my customers, and sometimes my partner organisations, often choose the tools to be used for a particular project - Google Wave offers the potential of using a system that might become as common as email, without the frustrations of email (which are why we are all looking for new options anyway!).

My business partner now has a Google Wave account and I will blog my real world experience of using Google Wave in the context of running our consulting company.

Tuesday
Nov032009

Google Wave

I have started exploring Google Wave, and already see potential uses for it in the inherently collaborative project world in which I spend my working life. Many of the tools on which I, my colleagues, our clients and our project teams rely simply aren't doing the job sufficiently - particularly the all too pervasive practise of emailing documents around for review, comment and editing.

Google Wave was originally pitched when announced by Google earlier this year as a replacement for email, but that is quite misleading.

Lifehacker's explanation, from their "Complete Guide to Google Wave" is closer: "Google Wave is a new online communications tool that enables groups of people to edit and discuss documents simultaneously on the web. The Google Wave team says Wave is 'what email would look like if it were invented today.' However, because Wave is mostly a document collaboration tool, the oversimplified email metaphor can mislead new users. The initial Wave experience can feel chaotic and confusing, but use cases for Wave abound. Come on in and meet Wave."

If you would like to read more, check out these resources:

Thursday
Oct292009

Things To Do In Singapore

I've updated my recent post on Singapore with my recommended list of things to do when visiting Singapore:

  • drink a "Singapore Sling" at Raffles Hotel - a colonial must do for those of us with a sense of commonwealth history (in WWII the Brits running Singapore drank these at Raffles while (ignoring?) Japan invading from Malaysia in the north because they had only setup naval based defense to the seaward south) - the true experience is in the long bar upstairs, but I preferred the courtyard cafe on the ground level (where they sometimes have light/jazz live music);
  • I loved walking the area around Raffles as there is some stunning colonial architecture - in particular the building that is now a museum / art gallery (which is worth visiting itself);
  • my favourite restaurant area was Chijmes (near Raffles) which is an adaptation of a former catholic church / monastery / convent complex (they moved out of the inner city) containing numerous bars, cafes, restaurants and boutique shops - there were no cafes/restaurants of particularly Singaporean origin, but a good range of international food styles and some have outdoors tables in a sunken courtyard which is great in Singapore's warm evenings (not the cheapest place to eat in Singapore though);
  • taking a walk through Chinatown, particularly when the street markets are open (Fri/Sat evenings from memory);
  • taking a walk through Little India - in particular the streetside cafes, not particularly elegant in terms of decor, but the food is stunning - and sometimes you have to communicate in sign language as this is the one area of Singapore where I found their English might not be so good (which is actually quite a fun experience);
  • the multi-level Sim Lim Square electronics store/mall near Little India has a lot of cheap (sometimes cheap & nasty) gadgets - good fun even if you don't buy anything (I would only pay cash here, don't use credit cards for security reasons);
  • the street stalls/markets near Sim Lim Square are a fascinating experience - my wife and teenage daughter would have a ball fossicking and buying cheap clothes, bags, etc - I never bought much but enjoyed the experience (again, I recommend only paying in cash);
  • having a cheap but authentic local style meal at one of the numerous 'hawker stalls' - these can appear offputting at first (think Asian 'greasy spoon') and I avoided them on far too many of my visits - the food can actually be quite stunning, and is always cheap;
  • the Singapore Night Zoo experience is an enjoyable and different zoo experience (but too busy on a Friday evening), and Singapore Zoo itself is also a world class zoo (the daytime part is next to the nighttime part, with separate entrances), but I felt a little odd going on my own as I'd much rather take my kids (I took hundreds of photos for them instead!);
  • Changi Prison Chapel Museum is another compelling experience for history buffs but it is quite a way out of town (good bus service though, and not too expensive by taxi) but this experience is probably only an option if you allocate a morning or afternoon allowing for getting to and from (I did it on a Saturday morning, and went from there to Singapore Zoo for the afternoon) - I found the stories behind the wall murals, and the hand made brass cross in the chapel, extremely moving;
  • the river and restaurant / cafe area there is worth at least a walk through, but less interesting for a meal unless you're with others;
  • there's a tall hotel near Raffles with a top floor cocktail bar that has quite stunning views of Singapore (I don't remember it revolving so you have to move around to see all directions) - from memory a $10-$20 cover charge but worth it for the views even if you just have a look around and don't drink (keep moving around so the wait staff don't harass you for using up a table but not buying anything or much!);
  • there's now a London Eye style ferris wheel which might be worth checking out, but I haven't tried it because it opened soon after my last trip;
  • I enjoyed walking all through CBD Singapore - some evenings I would walk all evening just enjoying the sights and experience of it - all the main streets are safe (but I did get propositioned and almost cornered by a transvestite-prostitute (and 'her' pimp) in a back alley shortcut I probably shouldn't have gone down in Little India!);
  • there are numerous huge western style malls which can be interesting due to their sheer size and range of shops, but they would be much more fun for my wife and teenage daughter!;
  • Orchard Road is the well known shopping street but it didn't mean much to me, although in the evenings some stalls are setup outside the shops & malls and they sometimes have interesting things to at least look at - there's also a lot of tailors if you want a suit or shirt made to measure ( but I think they need a couple days to make so do it early in your trip);
  • I like to get to airports early so there's no risk of missing my flight, and Singapore is one of the world's best airports which I always enjoyed just walking around while waiting for my flight (I also stayed in one of the airside transit hotels on my way to/from Jakarta);
  • I never checked out Sentosa Island as I'm not into theme parks unless I'm with my kids but I hear it is good fun;
  • there's a bird sanctuary which I never checked out as I'm not into tropical birds like brightly coloured parrots etc but I understand it is quite something if that is your thing.
Monday
Oct262009

Clothes for Singapore

My good friend Michael Sampson is soon presenting his Masterclass in SharePoint Collaboration in Singapore. He emailed me earlier today "I haven't been to Singapore since 1978 ... so have never had to plan what clothes to take. As a fellow kiwi, what style of business and casual clothes have you taken? I hear it's hot there!".

I visited Singapore on business 6 times from later 2006 through 2007, usually for 2 weeks at a time.  My answer from the email reply I sent him follows, but adapted for blogging, ...

Clothes for Singapore

Yes. Temperatures are consistently in the mid to high 30s, and very humid. Even into the evening & through the night. Tropical humidity does that. Be prepared for tropical rain too, particularly Nov-Jan. Sometimes it is every day at lunchtime for about 1/2 hour! Although that is a good time to stay undercover which is plentiful.

Business dress in IT seems to be mid-level formality in most settings although occasionally they have delusions of grandeur & go full suit/tie. But usually business style trousers with long sleeve shirt (maybe polo) are perfectly suitable (& comfortable!). Suit/tie (bizarrely given the heat, but colonial habits die hard!) are still the thing in more formal settings eg the financial industry, and when working with senior management in any industry.

For casual dress in evenings I would sometimes wear my long Columbia travel pants & polo shirt or similar with comfortable walking shoes. Warm enough for cool inside settings & formal enough for all but the most expensive or exclusive cafes & restaurants. Or, if I knew I wasn't going to a more formal setting, I would go for travel style shorts, tidy t-shirt and travel sandals, or maybe comfortable walking shoes without socks. I don't remember ever needing a sweatshirt or jersey despite the air-conditioning. My Scottevest t-shirt would be perfect - wish I'd had it back when I was visiting!

Visiting Singapore Generally

Inside many buildings it can be quite cool. The lobby in one hotel I stayed in felt freezing coming in from the heat & humidity outside. They really go overboard on air-conditioning in every building (almost). Locals don't go outside much.

The locals (including many ex-pats) thought I was mad walking around so much, and outside at that!

Locals either walk inside where it is cool, or use taxis & trains. You can traverse much of the inner city by going from building to building, to mall, to underground train, etc. And taxis are super cheap - most inner city journeys are $5 to $10 although it can be hard to get a taxi, especially in the evening.

If you can get your bearings the underground train is superb (Wikipedia). It is super cheap even paying cash per journey ($1 to $3 most journeys) but even cheaper & more convenient if you get a prepay card. I think they now sell prepay cards especially for tourists - probably at the airport. This came in just after my final trip, but I seem to remember it being something like unlimited travel for 1, or 3, or 5 or 10 days. Bus is good too although I only used it a few times as I didn't know the route numbers whereas train maps are everywhere london underground style.

Getting into town from the airport is best done by taxi. Prob $30 or so. The train does go out to the airport but I found it a bit of a nuisance with luggage & just a little too long when you've come off or are heading to a long haul flight. I used to try and book a taxi for my return journey to the airport as I always left the city around 5pm Friday when you usually have to queue for awhile on most taxi stands.

Wikipedia has a good articles on Singapore itself, and tourism to Singapore. Wikitravel also has a good article on visiting Singapore.

Things to do in Singapore (added Thu-29-Oct):

  • drink a "Singapore Sling" at Raffles Hotel - a colonial must do for those of us with a sense of commonwealth history (in WWII the Brits running Singapore drank these at Raffles while (ignoring?) Japan invading from Malaysia in the north because they had only setup naval based defense to the seaward south) - the true experience is in the long bar upstairs, but I preferred the courtyard cafe on the ground level (where they sometimes have light/jazz live music);
  • I loved walking the area around Raffles as there is some stunning colonial architecture - in particular the building that is now a museum / art gallery (which is worth visiting itself);
  • my favourite restaurant area was Chijmes (near Raffles) which is an adaptation of a former catholic church / monastery / convent complex (they moved out of the inner city) containing numerous bars, cafes, restaurants and boutique shops - there were no cafes/restaurants of particularly Singaporean origin, but a good range of international food styles and some have outdoors tables in a sunken courtyard which is great in Singapore's warm evenings (not the cheapest place to eat in Singapore though);
  • taking a walk through Chinatown, particularly when the street markets are open (Fri/Sat evenings from memory);
  • taking a walk through Little India - in particular the streetside cafes, not particularly elegant in terms of decor, but the food is stunning - and sometimes you have to communicate in sign language as this is the one area of Singapore where I found their English might not be so good (which is actually quite a fun experience);
  • the multi-level Sim Lim Square electronics store/mall near Little India has a lot of cheap (sometimes cheap & nasty) gadgets - good fun even if you don't buy anything (I would only pay cash here, don't use credit cards for security reasons);
  • the street stalls/markets near Sim Lim Square are a fascinating experience - my wife and teenage daughter would have a ball fossicking and buying cheap clothes, bags, etc - I never bought much but enjoyed the experience (again, I recommend only paying in cash);
  • having a cheap but authentic local style meal at one of the numerous 'hawker stalls' - these can appear offputting at first (think Asian 'greasy spoon') and I avoided them on far too many of my visits - the food can actually be quite stunning, and is always cheap;
  • the Singapore Night Zoo experience is an enjoyable and different zoo experience (but too busy on a Friday evening), and Singapore Zoo itself is also a world class zoo (the daytime part is next to the nighttime part, with separate entrances), but I felt a little odd going on my own as I'd much rather take my kids (I took hundreds of photos for them instead!);
  • Changi Prison Chapel Museum is another compelling experience for history buffs but it is quite a way out of town (good bus service though, and not too expensive by taxi) but this experience is probably only an option if you allocate a morning or afternoon allowing for getting to and from (I did it on a Saturday morning, and went from there to Singapore Zoo for the afternoon) - I found the stories behind the wall murals, and the hand made brass cross in the chapel, extremely moving;
  • the river and restaurant / cafe area there is worth at least a walk through, but less interesting for a meal unless you're with others;
  • there's a tall hotel near Raffles with a top floor cocktail bar that has quite stunning views of Singapore (I don't remember it revolving so you have to move around to see all directions) - from memory a $10-$20 cover charge but worth it for the views even if you just have a look around and don't drink (keep moving around so the wait staff don't harass you for using up a table but not buying anything or much!);
  • there's now a London Eye style ferris wheel which might be worth checking out, but I haven't tried it because it opened soon after my last trip;
  • I enjoyed walking all through CBD Singapore - some evenings I would walk all evening just enjoying the sights and experience of it - all the main streets are safe (but I did get propositioned and almost cornered by a transvestite-prostitute (and 'her' pimp) in a back alley shortcut I probably shouldn't have gone down in Little India!);
  • there are numerous huge western style malls which can be interesting due to their sheer size and range of shops, but they would be much more fun for my wife and teenage daughter!;
  • Orchard Road is the well known shopping street but it didn't mean much to me, although in the evenings some stalls are setup outside the shops & malls and they sometimes have interesting things to at least look at - there's also a lot of tailors if you want a suit or shirt made to measure ( but I think they need a couple days to make so do it early in your trip);
  • I like to get to airports early so there's no risk of missing my flight, and Singapore is one of the world's best airports which I always enjoyed just walking around while waiting for my flight (I also stayed in one of the airside transit hotels on my way to/from Jakarta);
  • I never checked out Sentosa Island as I'm not into theme parks unless I'm with my kids but I hear it is good fun;
  • there's a bird sanctuary which I never checked out as I'm not into tropical birds like brightly coloured parrots etc but I understand it is quite something if that is your thing.