Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Highlights of a Trip to South America and Singapore's SMRT's problems.....

My wife and I have just completed a 30-day trip to South America and we combined a quick tour of major tourist attractions like Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Iguassu Falls and Machu Picchu before we joined a 12-day cruise on the ms Veendam with Holland America Line that sailed from Valparaiso back to Buenos Aires from where we took the 20hour flight back to Singapore.
One of the most interesting ports of call was the Falklands Islands where we took an excursion to observe the penguins. The place was note-worthy as one has to brave 60kph winds on the open beaches where the penguins were nesting....the second was that the tenders ferrying the passengers from the cruise ship to land had to navigate very high waves of about 2 metres high and some tours could not depart from the ship.
Cape Horn was so calm that you wonder if the certificate they give you means anything important.
Still we did sail to the furtherst point south on the globe; that is if you exclude the Antartica.
Don't miss Iguassu Falls if you visit Argentina....the side from Argentina is truly spectacular.....I would rate it higher then Niagara Falls.
We both had a slight bout of altitude sickness during the time in Cusco but managed to tour Machu Pichhu without problems.
When we got back to Buenos Aires, we made a mistake of taking the subway or Subte that is very cheap like RM1 for any single journey in the system. The only problem is that the commuters do not know when a train is full.....they just pile in the bodies until you feel worse than a sardine! I wonder if anyone has been killed in the crush of bodies that occurs every rush hour.
Definitely plenty of scope for perverts! A woman dropped something and the crush was so bad she could not bend to pick it up.
So the news about Singapore's MRT problems seem pale by comparison.The Malaysian Insider has this feature Singapore MRT breakdowns douse Christmas cheer Given the high stresses caused by the high-speed trains, it is only natural that mechanical components will fail over time and it may be a question of simply replacing such components maybe after 15 years instead of 20 years. I am sure it is not an insurmountable problem with better means of analysis and improved materials.
In a sense, it is good that such failures do occur as it enables the public to learn more about such systems. I have just heard on ChannelNewsAsia that the China fast trains have a design flaw that caused the trains to crash.

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