And back home again

After an uneventful flight, we landed in Auckland, welcomed by friends. We're now back home, almost unrecognisable, so clean!

Australie en Grafton

Dit schrijf ik op het vliegveld van Brisbane. Bijna thuis! We komen net van Richard en Conny vandaan uit Grafton. We hebben een heel erg fijne week bij hun gehad. We zouden graag langer gebleven zijn en hopen zeker weer terug te komen. Het was zo gezellig. Ze hebben 6 dochters, waarvan 1 getrouwd. Wij mochten er met z'n vijven ook  nog wel bij. Ook Jake en Nella van Praag uit Sydney bleven er 4 nachten slapen. Het was zo goed om elkaars gezelschap te hebben. Veel late nachten en niet zoveel slaap, maar onvergetelijke herinneringen. Ze hebben 30 Aker land (12.5 hectare) met een paar koeien, een paard, kippen, 2 honden, een quadbike, tennisbaan. Een meer dan ideale omgeving voor kinderen! We bewaren warme herinnering aan hun en hun gastvrijheid en lekkere eten. Er is nog veel meer te schrijven, maar we moeten nu gaan boarden. Nog 3 uur en dan hopen we thuis te zijn. De Heere heeft ons gespaard in al onze reizen, wat zullen we Hem bewijzen voor al Zijn goedheid.

Singapore

Singapore is een moderne, schone en veilige stad. Het valt extra op als je vanuit Israel en  Egypte komt...........We hadden een hostel in Littel India. Een kleurige indische wijk van Singapore. Makkelijk om aan goedkope maaltijden te komen. Voor 1.50E had je een complete warme maaltijd met rijst, groente en vlees. We hebben vooral met de RMT gereist, een zeer overzichtelijke en snelle manier van reizen. We kwamen vooral naar Singapore om daar onze gemeente en Bernard Yong en zijn gezin te bezoeken. We kennen Bernard omdat hij regelmatig naar Auckland komt. Hij was alleen net die week in Japan, maar gelukkig konden we elkaar nog bereiken zaterdagmiddag.

We hebben een aantal dingen gedaan: Sentosa Eiland, waar we lekker gezwommen hebben. Het is erg warm in Singapore en erg vochtig. Maar er was niet zoveel zon, dus het was wat makkelijker te dragen. Alles heeft verder airoconditioning: de bussen, de metro, winkels, hostels etc.

Ook gewinkeld: Nergens zoveel shoppingmalls gezien dan in Singapore. En ze hebben werkelijk alles. De jongens zijn aan het shoppen geweest voor een Wii, maar het bleek niet zoveel goedkoper te zijn dan in NZ. Anne Roos en ik zijn nog naar Bugis Markt geweest: een grote straatmarkt.

De Singapore Zoo was zeer de moeite waard. Een heel erg mooie dierentuin waar je de dieren echt heel dichtbij kon zien in prachtige tropische omgeving. Op onze bustocht zagen we trouwens onderweg gewoon apen in het wild! In de dierentuin zagen we onder meer de Komodo Dragon. Een van de soorten dinosaurussen/draken die nog in leven zijn!

Zondag werden we opgehaald door Bernard. Singapore heeft een kleine gemeente van ongeveer 35. Deze mensen zijn overwegend Hindu -Rooms -of Buddist geweest. Het is een wonder dat deze mensen u it het heidendom getrokken zijn en nu de Reformatische leer aanhangen en diverse leden hebben die de Heere Jezus als hun Zaligmaker mogen belijden. Het was erg fijn om hier te zijn en Bernard te horen preken. We zijn bij hem, zijn 2 zonen en zijn vrouw La-Yee blijven eten. Na de avonddienst hebben we weer samen gegeten (zijn vrouw kookt super. Heerlijke gestoomde zalm, andere vis, aardappels, rijst, sla en nog meer wat ik niet allemaal ken) Echte chinese thee uit kleine kopjes gedronken. Onze jongens hadden veel plezier met hun 2 jongens van 18 en 20. Vooral de jongste had het soort humor wat ze wel aantrok:-) De volgende ochtend hebben Bernard en La-Yee ons weer opgehaald met  het kerkbusje en ons naar het vliegveld gebracht. We hopen dat we ze nog vaak in Aukcland mogen zien! Dieuwe is al voor een ticket naar Singapore aan het sparen...........

At Brisbane airport

We had to wake up at 5:55am. Here the taxi, at 6:25am.

And there we are, at the last overseas airport.

After having made it through all security checks, it was time for breakfast. The kids had Subway for breakfast. Auke had chicken and bacon ranch, Dieuwe had Subway melt, and AnneRoos had roasted chicken. Don't know how they could eat that so early, I just had yoghurt, and Ida had a cherry Danish.

Last world trip dinner

Slightly before 2pm we left the Van Dorps:

As we had to drive to Queensland, we could undo the daylight saving time we had to incur in New South Wales, so that meant an additional hour of sleep. Very nice. We had our last dinner in Kangaroo Point:

No desserts for the boys, but the girls had a $10 and $12 desert.

And that was it! Tomorrow up at 5:55am and then to the airport where the plane should leave at 8:30am.

Staying with the Van Dorps

We've stayed with the Van Dorps during the entire communion, from Wednesday till now, Monday morning. Very kind of them, and it was very nice, especially having the Van Praags here as well. We'll be leaving early this afternoon to back to Brisbane, to catch our plane to Auckland. Expected arrival in Auckland is October 6, 14:40.

The kids enjoyed the stay as well, as the Van Dorps have a lot of land, animals and tools. Here AnneRoos.

And Auke on the quad bike.

Enjoying dinner outside. Weather has been nice, not so hot, and not cold enough that we had great trouble to adapt. Hopefully a good preparation for a still quite cold Auckland.

We had a good communion, especially when enabled to look to Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith. Here the church in Grafton.

Rev. Rainer also kindly invited us for lunch. He has left the manse, that had became too large for them, behind, and lives a bit outside Grafton, in Junction Hill.

With a very nice view over the river.

We met quite a number of people, and visited some of them. Here at Conny's mother. Her stepfather Keith has restored an Oldsmombile 1927 to a perfect condition.

It took him six years to complete it.

And we were given a ride!

And there we went. It's amazing how comfortable driving a car from almost 100 years ago is.

Singapore Zoo

My mother and I visited the Singapore Zoo. The first animals we saw were the crocodiles. We were right above them.

Next we saw some of our cousins. We didn't know any of them were visiting Singapore.

Next we saw 2 specimens of the extremely rare and nearly extinct Polar Bear!

We saw lots of other animals like rhinos, lions, zerbas, etc.

The giraffes were being fed.

Then we came to the snake section.

Then finally we came to the animals that I have always wanted to see. The komodo dragon. this is a 2-3 meter long dinosaur/lizard.

Grafton

The boys had to buy a Wii first in Brisbane as they are significantly cheaper over here (even at the same store, EB games). At 12.30pm we left Brisbane and drove to Grafton. Richard & Connie van Dorp had very kindly invited us to stay with them for the communion. We arrived shortly past 5pm.

The communion has started today with Mr. Rainer preaching on Deuteronomy 8:2: "And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no."

We expect Jake van Praag and his wife tonight as well.

Brisbane

Getting internet in Brisbane was somewhat problemetic to say the least. The hotel offered wireless, at a fee though. 15 AUD for a day. We took that for the first day, I would try to find a SIM card the next day. After some research I decided that Three mobile broadband would be best, so we drove to their shop. Unfortunately they didn't offer their services in Grafton, and I couldn't run the risk I would not have internet access in Grafton. They suggested Telstra.

That proved to be an ordeal I've not yet experienced. When I arrived at the Telstra shop an assistant took down my name and said it would take about 20 minutes. One hour later there was still one person in front of me...

As we had decided to go to Wet'n'Wild and it was getting late, I left. We arrived at Wet'n'Wild at about 13:15, but should indeed have gone earlier as the kids probably could have spend an entire day there. Interesting attractions, such as the Kamikaze where you sit on a floating mat, and do a free-fall... I did that one with AnneRoos, Ida didn't want to try this one.

Next day I went back to the Telstra shop, this time trying to be earlier. I was there at about 9:15am. The shop was already full! There were 3 other shops I passed, Three, Optus, and another one, and they were basically empty. What was Telstra doing that it attracted these customers? Like yesterday, the shop was full of elderly customers. That's perhaps their target market? They very painstakingly go over what these customers want or need, their 250MB or 260MB plan, and just take all the time that's necessary. Incredible painful to experience in my case, but perhaps it makes good business sense. I only wished I didn't need Telstra, but had no option.

Two customers in front of me the assistant informed me, should only take 10 to 15 minutes. Actually after 20 minutes I was finally served. I could make a quick selection, the basic prepaid mobile broadband was 30 AUD with a whopping 75MB (that's meant to be sarcasm). I got a month all-you-can-use mobile wireless in Israel for $55, and a 3 day all-you-can-use in Singapore for $18! But I believe the Three plan is also significantly better (2GB for $30 if I'm correct).

Next I needed to activate this SIM card. In Singapore you just plug it into your USB modem, and that's it. Here you need to call Telstra and get someone on the phone, who creates an account for you. They need your address and passport again. Again, because you already need to provide them when you buy the SIM card (you must do that in every country). But no country asks for it twice. They needed the correct ZIP code for the address (luckily I remembered the street name), but didn't know the ZIP code. Obviously they didn't have internet access at the other end, so they couldn't look that up themselves. The operator suggested I asked a shop assistant, which I did. I then had to remained on hold for a few minutes. After that the operator informed me it would take a few hours to activate my SIM card. What??

The last question was how I found the process. I didn't use any uncertain words to describe this ordeal.

But at least it's clear why Telstra was so busy: not only their target market, but also their procedures and systems are from a different age. At least I can now understand why the mention of Telstra causes certain reactions with people who have lived in Australia.

Anyway, finally done. I was back at the hotel at 10:40 or so and we had to leave, to drive to Grafton.

Singapore to Brisbane

On Monday September 28 we left Singapore. Woke up at 6:15am. Bernard Young and his wife had offered to pick us up with the church van at 7:30am. It was only about 20 minutes or so to the airport, traffic wasn't very busy. Here the church van at the airport:

Nice piece of advertising!

Overall, we found Singapore to be quite a nice city, clean, crime free, and not too hard to get around. Getting through the airport wasn't too hard either. Next a 7.5 hour flight to Brisbane. With Singapore airlines. They had power, even in economy class! Unfortunately I had checked in my car adapter, not even sure I had an airplane plug with me. Something to remember. If one has power on an airplane, a trip can be far more productive, not just lost time.

We arrived in Brisbane at 7pm, already dark. And cool. Much cooler than the last 4 weeks. Very pleasant.

Sunday in Singapore

We also spend the Sunday, September 27, in Singapore. Bernard Young was so kind to pick us up. He also took both services on Sunday, and he told us he took the services on Wednesday as well. His workload is just huge. In the morning he preached on Mark 5, the story of the man with the unclean spirit, dwelling among the tombs: "And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit,"

We could just picture these things in our head, the going from Tiberias to the other side, the mountains (actually hills), the cliffs that go steep down into the lake. But Bernard Young could picture the spiritual reality of these things.

In the evening he spoke on Judges 6 (with Judges 7 D.V. the next Sabbath): "And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?"

We were invited for lunch and dinner by the Youngs, which was very kind of them. It was also very nice to meet the people there, and see this congregation that didn't exist 15 years ago.

Sight-seeing in Singapore

Ida had tentatively booked Ali's Nest. This was in Little India, a colourful section of Singapore. The reviews weren't very good though. If there was no air conditioning, we already had decided we wouldn't take it. According to their website, they had though. When we arrived, Ida had a look, and indeed, no air conditioning. The shuttle driver was so kind to drop us off a few hundred metre from there, were there were lots of other hotels. Due to the F1 racing that was going to start on Friday, hotels were very full, and most had raised their prices as well.

After checking a couple of hotels, one even with smelly rooms, we settled on one that had cheap prices: basically a box with bed and airco, but cheap, and we would manage there for our 4 days in Singapore. Everyone had a shower, and we got some breakfast at an eating place below.

But with our body at 4am, and the Singapore day at 10am, we didn't have much energy. We proceeded to the nearest MRT (underground) entrance to buy day passes. They didn't have them, so we had to buy a single ticket to the nearest office who sold them. After that we visited China town and did a short walk there. Next to the harbour entrance where we had an ice coffee (and the kids some drinks).

We were close to Sentosa island, and according to our maps, there should be beaches there. So we went back to our hotel, got our togs, went back into the underground, next unto the monorail to Sentosa island, which brought us close to this beach.

Pretty busy shipping lane.

View somewhat higher up.

For breakfast we ate prata, some kind of pancake. The kids ate it with sugar. It's quite cheap, $2.20 per prata.

On Friday everyone went shopping (that's the main thing you do in Singapore, and one of the few possible things), while I worked on maintaining the blog.

On Saturday, I went with Auke and Dieuwe to a big shopping mall to see if they could buy the WII console any cheaper in Singapore. It appeared however that a Singaporian console wouldn't work in NZ, or more precise, games you buy in NZ don't play on a Singaporian console, due to region locking. That's how companies make life frustrating for customers, thanks very much Nintendo.

From Cairo to Singapore

On Tuesday September 22 we left Cairo for Egypt. Below a picture of the entrance into our hostel. It's a  building used by many others, the hostel is just some rooms in this building. We were on the second floor or so, so you can't really see where we were from the outside.

Here at Cairo airport, and our plane to Singapore in the background.

 

We arrived at Singapore airport at 6.30am, still dark, and 12am according to our body, but we still had an entire day to go!

Sinai Desert

Two pictures Ida made from from the plane when flying from Amman to Cairo.

From Dan to Beersheba

A frequent occurrence in the Bible is the phrase "from Dan to Beersheba". Dan being the most Northern point, Beersheba being the most southern point. We had been in Dan, so we had to be in Beersheba as well. Here a picture of Abraham's well, according to Muslim tradition a well Abraham dug here. From Genesis we know it as the place where Abraham swore to Abimelech, or the place where the angel of God met Hagar when she was willing to let her child die.

Otherwise Beersheba (Beer Sheva) is a most uninteresting place. We drove around a bit,  but there's not much to see. The signs on the road are interesting though...

Supposedly south of the city you find Bedouins, still living in tents. We couldn't find them though.

Regardless, we can now say we traveled Israel from Dan to Beersheba.

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