Go big or go home…

Archive for the ‘geography’ Category

The Singaporean one dollar coin looks like this:

Apparently the flower is Lochnera rosea, which could be a periwinkle but might be a frangipani, who knows.

Within the familiar circle there’s a more fortuitous octagon – the word for eight in Mandarin, ba, sounds similar to the word for wealth or prosperity, fa (the same is true of Cantonese).

Hence the coin is a lucky ba gua, or locally, pak kwa – an ‘eight symbol’ that’s important in feng shui – and exerts a little bit of fortune over everyone who has one.

One of my colleagues claims the coin has an interesting back story. When the MRT (underground train) tunnels where being dug in the 80s, a venerable monk advised the government that the construction would be very bad for the island’s feng shui or balance.

He said the only way to counter it would be for everyone to carry pak kwa, but he couldn’t see how it could be achieved. Wise Mr Lee realised that everyone carries small change, and the octagonal dollar was born.

I’ve been trying to verify this story online and have only found a few references, none of which seems very reliable, but I really hope it’s true. I love the idea that it’s only capitalism that stops Singapore from sinking into its own dragon vein.

The beach on Pulau Dayang, Malaysia

The beach on Pulau Dayang, Malaysia

I can catch a bus after work on Friday evening and dive here at 8am on Saturday morning.

Yesterday was slightly stressful, but by tea-time J and I had secured ourselves a place to live.

The process was rather portentous though. It all started to go wrong when I turned up at the bank to get a cashier’s order for the landlady (in lieu of a chequebook). I’d allowed half an hour for this task, surmising that few people could have urgent banking needs at 11am on a weekday.

How wrong I was! The queue moved torturously slowly, and I was 20 minutes late meeting my agent. She was good natured about it, but I did see her jaw set into a slightly harder line when I informed her that I’d also forgotten the letter of intent.

This document – meticulously filled out by J and I that morning, and still sitting neatly on our coffee table – was the crux of the whole meeting. It is signed by everyone involved, and means no one can back out without paying at least some damages.

“It’s ok,” the agent reassured me. “I have copies. You and the landlord can sign now, J can sign again later.” So we went up, met the landlady, lied cheerfully to her: Do you have pets? Nope. Do you smoke? Definitely not! Then the moment came to hand over the cash.

“Um, this should be a ‘G’, not a ‘Q’,” the landlady said.


My agent drove me back to the bank, and deposited me in another hour-long queue. By the time I’d got the right cheque, with the right name on it, the simple task of meeting someone to exchange pieces of paper had occupied me for four hours.

It’s done though, the flat is ours! And the cheery optimist in me thinks that if things go wrong at the beginning they’ll only get better as we progress.

The flat is lovely – two bedrooms, two bathrooms, amazing views, little maid’s balcony. I don’t have pics yet, but here’s the project from the outside:

City Square Residences

City Square Residences

And here are some photos of the surrounding area.

Smack bang in the middle of some of the best diving in the world, that’s where!