Sunday, July 26, 2009

PREPARING FOR PART 2 OF ASEAN ON WHEELS JOURNEY

1. Last week marked the beginning of my preparation for Part 2 of the Asean on Wheels journey. On Wednesday, 22 Jul, I had lunch with Philippine Tourism officials organised by Gerosel Siquian at 7107 Flavours, a wonderful restaurant serving Philippine cuisine at Marina Square. Why the odd name 7107 Flavours? Well, Philippine comprises 7107 islands. Two years ago, I was with Secretary Durano when he officially declared this restaurant open. Also at lunch were Maria Rica C. Bueno (Head, Team Asia Pacific) and her colleagues, Grace Yoro and Adriana Flor, who were in Singapore for a week long visit; and the owner of 7107 Flavours, Elaine Lim. I briefed them of my plan for Part 2 Asean on Wheels, that I plan to first visit Indonesia with my Pajero (and possibly another car) and then hop over to Southern Philippine from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, adding that I am not certain if I should start with Palawan or Mindanao. I will then hop from one island to another Northwards before ending up in Luzon and shipping the vehicle back to Singapore from Manila. I was advised that the main island of Mindanao is generally safe, and Palawan is beautiful and should not be missed. Also, other than the need to cross a couple of channels with ferries, the North-South roads had been significantly improved during the Marcos era. The philippine tourism team agreed to help me find out the permit needed for me to drive my car in Philippine.

2. On Friday, 24 Jul, I met with Pak Hanung Nugrah of the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore. As advised by Pak Achma Djatmiko, I handed to Pak Hanung a letter to the Indonesian Ambassador seeking his support to obtain a permit for me to drive my car in Indonesia. Pak Djatmiko also advised that I keep the Singapore embassy in Jakarta informed of my application and my planned trip to Indonesia. Pak Hanung added that I would need to get the support of the Indonesia Motorsport Assocation, adding that he would provide the details to me later. With the support letters, the Indonesian Police and Customs will then consider my application. I briefed Pak Hanung of my plan for Indonesia, starting Sumatra to Java, to Bali, Lombok and the nearby islands, to Sulawesi, to South Kalimantan, before travelling from Pontianak to Sarawak in East Malaysia. If all goes well, we hope to begin the journey in early October. That leaves us with about 2 months to complete the preparation.

3. Last week an old friend of mine since the army days, Lim Yeow Pheng, had decided to join me for Part 2 of the Asean on Wheels journey. He was of great help, teaching me qigong while I was recovering from the lung cancer operations in end 2006. A former Defence Attache to Brunei and a GM with Bintan Resorts, he knows the region well. This time round, we are planning to have 2 cars - my Pajero plus another, i.e. ideally 2 cars 4 persons. This means we have to look for 2 other persons with a car who are keen to join us. Its a pity that Sunny is not able to join the journey this time as he has other commitments.

4. I had been back in Singapore for about 3 weeks, but had been fairly busy at home. On 3 Jul, I became a grandfather. My grandson, Leonard Lim Zhicheng was delivered, to father Yiping and mother Edie. Also, was busy taking care of various building defects as the one year defect liability period for my house reconstruction was up.

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