Singapore

We flew to Singapore a few weeks ago, for a few days before continuing on to Malaysia to visit Jacqui’s Dad. It was my first time visiting Singapore, only having stopped at Changi on the way to Europe previously, so it was nice to wander around and get a feel for the city state.

On the surface it’s a little antiseptic, everything spotless in the touristy section, not much traffic on the roads, same shops etc. as everywhere else in the world, epitomised by the Marina Bay Sands’ “The Shoppes” - complete with fake Olde Worlde name - where you won’t find a store that isn’t a designer brand. Yet you often round a corner to where the real people live and work and it’s busy, vibrant and full of hawker stalls selling cheap, tasty food. I’m not sure if it was Anthony Bourdain who said that all good food comes from street food, or maybe it’s a truism amongst chefs, but it’s certainly true in Asia and particularly in Singapore as it has always been such a melting pot of cultures.

It’s also a surveillance state - I’ve never seen so many CCTV cameras keeping an eye on everyone - and I wonder how much is being done with the footage. Is it merely temporarily recorded in case of crime, or are they heading the way of the Chinese and applying facial recognition on a large scale? Cars are also stupidly expensive (circa $95k for a Hyundai i30 which costs about $22k in Aus), which explains the lack of traffic, though the public transport system is excellent, so that’s an overall win in my book.

Single-party Government is always a bit suspect, though the country scores highly on lack of corruption etc. and elections are technically free, though there’s no effective opposition. The ‘benevolent dictator’ model seems to have helped them transition very effectively from Colonial rule, certainly much better than Malaysia has, though the large income from trade coupled with only a small land mass to manage has undoubtedly made things easier.

Anyway, some superficial thoughts from a superficial visit. We had a great time exploring by foot over a couple of days. Highlights were the various hawker stalls, Tiong Bahru, walking through Chinatown, Kampong Glam and Gardens by the Bay and seeing the Supertrees light show.

Here’s a few snaps.

Confused Elites

Observations from an unnamed conference, probably something like Davos, where the elites are left wondering where it all went wrong.

The industrial elites have lost their way. In every major profession and institution, they once commanded vast, widely-admired projects that filled their lives with meaning and endowed the entire class with an unconquerable confidence. But the twentieth century couldn’t be preserved forever, like a bug in amber. The elites now face a radically transformed environment – and they are maladapted and demoralized. An inability to listen, an impulse to spew jargon in broadcast mode, a demand for social distance as the reward for professional success: such habits, which in the past placed them above and beyond the mob’s reach, now drag them down to contempt and mockery in the information sphere. Among the public, trust has curdled into loathing. The elites are horribly aware of their fall from grace – hence the conference – but being deaf to the public’s voice, they are clueless about how to respond.

Hoist by their own petard perhaps? Business leaders, politicians and the like have made an art form of speaking in coherent sentences which impart no information and imply no commitments. When confronted with facts they don’t like, they go to great lengths to manufacture alternatives or attack the messenger, so is anyone surprised when people no longer trust them?

Personal Nuclear Reactor

An oldie, reprinted from a 1998 issue of Harper’s, recounting how a boy attempted to build his own nuclear breeder reactor, including the great quote “I don’t believe I took more than five years off of my life.” 😆

David was awarded his Atomic Energy merit badge on May 10, 1991, five months shy of his fifteenth birthday. To earn it he made a drawing showing how nuclear fission occurs, visited a hospital radiology unit to learn about the medical uses of radioisotopes and built a model reactor using a juice can, coat hangers, soda straws, kitchen matches, and rubber bands. By now, though, David had far grander ambitions. As Auito’s wife and troop treasurer, Barbara, recalls: “The typical kid [working on the merit badge] would have gone to a doctor’s office and asked about the X-ray machine. Dave had to go out and try to build a reactor.”

Third de France Wrap Up

Well the full Tour is done and dusted, so how did I fare in the end.

Out of 21 stages…

  • I rode 16 as intended
  • I missed one stage due to being away for the weekend
  • I missed one and a half stages due to fatigue
  • I missed half a stage due to a mechanical
  • I missed half a stage due to illness

I completed 17.5 stages out of a possible 21, or really 19.5 given that I can’t do anything about a mechanical and was always going to miss a stage while away for the the weekend.

The fatigue/illness part of things was almost certainly due to starting this whole thing with a very low level of fitness. I started with a CTL of 29 so the fatigue piled up pretty quickly in the first week, as can been seen with the yellow line below.

Third de France CTL Graph

All my missed or shortened stages came in the second week which took the pressure off a bit (yellow line rises slightly) and then allowed me to get a clean, uninterrupted third week. Having said that, the fact that the French weather resulted in shortened Stages 19 & 20 also helped by reducing the workload towards the end.

In summary, my totals over the course of the event were 30h 43m of riding, covering 869km and a total workload of 1711 TSS, resulting in a CTL increase from 29.2 to 48.0. I’m happy enough with that. I’ve taken a couple of days rest and will get a few days riding in before heading off on holidays to Malaysia and Singapore for ten days - not an ideal followup to a fitness gain, but by the time I’m back I’ll still be fitter than I was when I started this Third de France :)

Third de France, Stage 21

Pros: Rambouillet > Paris Champs-Élysées, 128km - Flat

Me: 42km

All done! The pros had an easy ride into Paris and I had an easy ride out and back to Wellington Point. I’d say they got the better deal, although they did deserve it after the last three weeks. I thought about getting Jacqui to drive alongside me and hand up a glass of champagne but I guess it’s only the winner who does that and I definitely wasn’t doing the same efforts as Egan Bernal. Still, it’s been a solid three weeks and I’m looking forward to a couple of days off the bike now.

Me: 44.5km, 1h 53m, 942 calories, 84 TSS.

Pro: No idea. No-one has uploaded to Strava yet - too busy partying 🤣

Weight: 92.2kg - CTL: 44.8 - TSB: -18.9