Sunday, March 15, 2009

The yeti's new bike!!

Hi all, something awesome happened this week-end: I bought a motorbike!

For those who know me, my passion for these machines is familiar and I was starting to feel too itchy of not riding anymore since I'm here. So I started looking into the adds. I thought at first getting the same kind of bike I had in Paris, and I was looking in that direction. I saw a few... But they were all too expensive in my French point of view for their age and characteristics.

I took the habit of looking at the classifieds every day, to Tinker's great demise I also looked at them at night, sometimes spending long hours reading through the forums bike sales. I saw two bikes, and went to many bike shops during a month. All the time, in the shops the guys wouldn't have the kind of bike I want at the price I want. A friend of mine even took me around one whole morning touring the shops he knows... But nothing interesting to me.

Then Thursday night, I saw this add for a Honda CB400 aka the "Super four". The add clearly said that the owner didn't want to bargain, and the price shown was the one to pay if you wanted it. The price was in my budget and all the equivalent bikes I'd seen before were more expensive. So I sent an sms to the owner who replied that I could go and see the bike Friday at lunch time... I thought, "no I'm working, it's far I'll just go on the week-end." That was Friday morning.
Then I reached the office and went to look at the add again (don't tell my boss). A rush surged through me, I had to go see it. The price and mileage were just too good, plus the owner had told me he'd be seeing two other people that same day. So I went there at 12 noon under a gushing rain... Not the best times to view a bike really. But as the taxi was going towards the location the sky cleared up and it was sunny again when I reached.
I landed in this huge condominium (a building inhabited by rich people with swimming pools and sport centres) empty of cars and seemingly of tenants. I feared I was in the wrong place but when I called the owner he told me that he'd be down in a minute. So I went to have a look at the pool and the tennis courts which were empty of people... I felt tempted to stay there that afternoon to lie in the sun instead of going back to work...
The owner appeared, let's call him Hanz. He is a German living in Singapore for 5 years now, and who is not intending to leave anytime soon. He speaks a perfect French, Portuguese, German of course and English of course too. I will hide his profession but he seemed wealthy enough. The Harley Davidson mentioned later is his, as a BMW X3. I clicked quite well with him, the kind of expat' open enough to the world around him, although he is not living the same life as the locals in the country (that would be me...).
We went down to the parking where the bike was carefully protected by a cover. He uncovered it and my eyes went blank. There she was, innocent, simple, waiting to be ridden to show it's anger and engine power. All black in colour, with a single big round eye framed by two orange lights just like dimples. The big bright yellow Harley Davidson right next to it didn't hide the super four's discrete beauty. The key was inserted and turned to let the engine express itself. I wasn't expecting such a grave noise from such a small engine (400cc) and I sat on it. At this moment I knew she'd be mine. I took her for a little stroll around the parking lot, testing it's acceleration a little, and making sure it was in a good state. It was. I told the Hanz that I'd take it. He was happy obviously, but had a little regret as this girl seemingly nice was to come to see the bike in the afternoon and he'd have to cancel.

The rest went really fast. In Singapore, the buyer and the owner have to go the the LTA (Land Transport Authority) to officialise the transfer of ownership of a vehicle. You also have to prove you posses proper insurance for a vehicle before you can transfer it to your name. So we set an appointment on Saturday morning 10 o'clock at his insurance company so he could cancel his insurance and I, take mine. This took a really long time. The lady was chatting with all her friends and minding her own business although we were the only people in the office. 45 minutes later, a little frustrated we came out, Hanz with a refund of a few dollars, and I with a hole in my wallet.
Then en route to the LTA in Ang Mo Kio (look it up if you're curious). As expected a long queue was gathered there and our ticket number showed 20 people before us and 45 minutes of patience. It was 11.30am and the place closed at 12. I started worrying that they'd kick us out once the time to close was reached, meaning we'd have to come back on Monday as it would happen in France. I had my newspaper and Hanz was reading emails on his phone. Extraordinarily, about 30 minutes later, our number was called and we went to the counter. It took about 5 minutes altogether, and there I was the happy owner of a Super four!
I went to Hanz place to pick up the beast and I took my first ride to go home. My God it was goooood! Unfortunately it started raining when I reached home and rained the whole afternoon . Tinker and I had a wedding to attend anyway so a cab took us there.
Today, we took the bike to go to church (I'm going to pass under silence our adventure in Little India last night to find a helmet, it was quite something!). As we were riding back from church wanting to stop at Thinker's grandma's retirement home to say hi, it started pouring. It is now later afternoon and it is still raining. So no riding all week-end almost... But I'm taking it to work tomorrow!
Oh, and here are some pictures of my beauty.

From one side, and from the other.

From the back... two sides

With a palm tree...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Thaipusam with Yeti's Parents

Wow, it had been some time since we last dropped a post. For all our readers who have been "tuning in" to our blog regularly, thank you for waiting. We had many things to do after the Yeti's parents left that this is by far the only weekend we have had to really relax - After we took a trip to the hotel to collect our invitation prints for the wedding!

The yeti and parents were really lucky I must say - it is their 2nd time after a looong time in Singapore, and they chose the right period to come! Singapore was still celebrating Chinese New Year, so they got to see how Chinatown was like during this season. Not only that, they got to witness a Hindu festival celebrated in Singapore called "Thaipusam". It's Julien's 1st Thaipusam event too.

Thaipusam actually celebrates the birthday of the Hindu deity Subramaniam. On this occasion, Hindus show the sincerity of their faith. It is a time for making and fulfilling vows. Devotees pray for divine help and make vows. When their prayers are answered, they fulfil their vows.

To do this, a devotee would pierce his cheeks, tongue, face or other suitable body parts with sharp objects. Next his friends or relatives load a *kavadi on his shoulder. Finally, in a trance-like manner, he goes on a 4km journey of faith.

* A kavadi is a cage-like structure carried by devotees during the Thaipusam Festival. It is traditionally decorated with peacock feathers and aluminium plates which show images of Hindu deities. Sharp spikes criss-cross its lower section.

An elaborate kavadi might weigh up to 15kg! It is quite something just to lift it. But their relatives we saw actually walked with them for 4km - kavadis, skewers, hooks, spikes and all!

Some of them even skipped and danced with their kavadis. Either they have great endurance or they have some supernatural help.

Someone once told me his dad had volunteered for this before, apparently, most of them who take part in this "parade" are the males in the family. I was told that it is believed that they do this mainly for the gods to bless their family and their children with a good and smooth sailing life.

Here are some pics we took.

He not only had his tongue pierced. But his legs too.

My skin crawled when this guy walked past. Most of the other participants had a gurdle like cloth around their waist most of the time. this guy didn't and you can actually see the piercings through his waist!

This guy was huge in real life. He had piercings on his lower back.

This part of the parade was interesting. You could tell he was really trying his best to balance all that weight on himself. Not only that, he stopped in the middle of his walk and danced! He twirled round a few times like a professional ballerina before continuing the rest of his gruelling 4km walk.

This sight was heart warming. Must be inconvenient.

It was truly a sight to behold, thaipusam. I would encourage you to come and experience this for yourself too, if you can stomach what you see. It's not really gory or anything like that. There's no blood. It's almost like a normal peircing for us when we pierce our ears for beauty.

The whole procession was going to take a lot longer, and because of the heat, neither of us could bear to stay a minute longer. So we all went off for dinner at clarke quay. Guess what we had for dinner?

Indian Food. It was simply marvelicious!