Rock Climbing

Boulder Planet

(See the 360 video on YouTube)

Boulder Planet is a huge bouldering gym in the north side of Singapore (in the basement of Sembawang Shopping Centre).

Problems

There’s a good range of problems at the gym which are graded from 1 to 12. The grading felt a little bit uneven on the problems we tried (Grades 3, 4 and 5), but maybe it’s cos we’re not super seasoned climbers. There’s also a variety of ‘Wild’ problems, some of which are suitable for intermediate and beginner climbers. For the more competitive climbers, there’s a competition wall at the back of the gym with all the tougher looking stuff. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s a little area right in the front for complete beginners and kids.

Costs

Single day entry: $30

10x Multipass: $220 ($22 / pass)

5x Multipass: $125 ($25 / pass)

Youth (<18 years): $18 / pass (only for certain timings)

Accessibility

It’s a little harder to access compared to some of the other gyms around the island. Bussing seems to be the best option since the bus stops are right outside the shopping centre. As for MRTs, the nearest station, Canberra, is a 15 minute walk away. If you drive, be prepared for all the traffic lights and slow traffic along Sembawang Road.

Facilities

Yes: Showers, changing rooms, water fountain, free lockers

No: Training wall, free weights area

What this gym is best for

Best for when you wanna spend a full day (perhaps when Covid has become endemic, lol) trying out all manner of graded problems.

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Food & Recipes

Frozen Pizza Taste Test

I LOVE pizza so gave some frozen ones a go. These were the ones available at the NTUC near my place. The Plank and the Pizza Tradizionale one are supposed to be the fancier types and the Dr Oetker Ristorante one is just your run of the mill frozen pizza I guess.

Here’s what they look like out of the box.

Thankfully I’m not a professional blogger cos I forgot to take a photo of the first two pizzas when they came out of the oven, LOL! But as you can see, the fancy Dr Oetker one has pretty bright looking veges on it while the Ristorante one has some nice appetizing browning. The Plank one looked pretty good too I gotta say.

Now taste wise they were all pretty alright. The Plank one was a touch on the sour side, like the tomatoes they used for the sauce weren’t quite ripe or something. There was some green-herby-pesto looking thing but I couldn’t really taste it. The Dr Oetker Tradizionale one was more balanced in flavour… and what I mean by that is that they put more sugar into the sauce. The Dr Oetker Pizza one was my favourite taste wise, mushroomy and cheesy in the way I was expecting!

As for crusts… Plank’s Sour Dough crust and Dr Oetker’s Pizza Tradzionale crust had lots of air pockets and had a good chew. The Dr Oetker Ristorante, on the other hand, really did have a thin and crispy crust as was stated on the box. It was like a cracker which I’m not in to. When I eat pizza, it’s gotta have some good bread-y crust! None of that low-carb nonsense!

So the verdict? I’d defo buy the Dr Oetker ones again but would probably give the Plank ones a miss.

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Conservation

The Heart of Conservation

Conservation issues are the result of human impact, therefore without people, conservation wouldn’t exist. People are the heart of conservation.

Conservation is about finding solutions to problems that are caused by human attitudes and behaviours. If what we’re doing is the problem, then we hold the keys to the solutions. Conservation is also about compromise, balancing the needs of human communities with the needs of other species. It is also about acknowledging our place in nature, celebrating it and understanding that we do have an impact on the environment. We must believe that we can find solutions to benefit both our and other species.

Where do people fit in?

Modern day conservation is more mindful of the role people play in conservation, both as the source of conservation problems and as the keys to conservation solutions. This human role is termed the human or social dimension of conservation. Sarah Thomas, Head of Discovery and Learning at the Zoological Society London, believes that this dimension should factor in social science research, social interventions and social practices. Research in these areas help to build a social map of the conservation issue and brings answers to questions such as “Who is doing what?”, “Why are they doing it?” and “What are their thoughts and feelings?”. It is important to see conservation issues through the personal, societal and cultural lens so that social interventions such as conservation education programmes or community based social marketing campaigns can be planned, delivered and evaluated well.

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Conservation

Important Statistics for Conservation

Of the 75,000 species assessed by the IUCN Red List (by end 2014), 20,000 species have been listed as threatened (classed as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered)

The 2014 Living Planet Index tracks trends of over 3000 species of vertebrates (mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish). Between 1972 and 2010, the populations have decreased by 52%.

Globally, nature’s assets have been valued at $125 trillion per year.

Note: All statistics here are what I have learnt from the Introduction to Conservation course from National Geographic.

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Conservation

Choosing What to Conserve

It breaks my heart to think that we have to triage species to save. The video lesson from the Introduction to Conservation Course said that we have to decide which ones to save because “conservation operates under limited resources”. There are not enough resources to save all the species. I cannot help but wonder whether this is actually true.

Putting a Monetary Value on Ecosystem Services

Valuing nature is about showing the importance of nature to human well-being, business and the economy, so that nature’s value can be factored into decisions. Ecosystem services are worth a large amount of money and a vast array of benefits. Here are some examples of the value of ecosystem services. Losing just 1 km of mangrove land in Thailand can increase flood damage by half a million dollars per square kilometre. In Costa Rica, natural forest based pollinators increase coffee yields by 20%.

In Australia, strong cultural and spiritual ties to certain areas have protected them from mining which would have allowed for extraction of very valuable minerals. Therefore besides monetary valuations, valuing Nature based on its social and cultural value can help preserve it.

Despite wide value, nature is commonly overlooked and undervalued in decisions, therefore many ecosystems are lost and degraded. Money is not everything, but is a good common language to help others understand the value of nature. It is important to remember though that some areas are difficult to put a value on. For example, cultural services cannot be easily translated into monetary terms. Valuation can also be challenging, because ecosystems are complex, therefore monetary valuations of nature are usually conservative.

I don’t agree with putting a price on everything because I believe Nature IS intrinsically valuable. However I feel that many people around me are disconnected from Nature and do not understand it’s importance. Therefore I can see how putting a monetary value on nature can help conserve it, as money is a common language that people understand. Besides valuing Nature economically, it should also be valued socially to help us understand the full implications of the choices that we make. This will help us look at the longer-term benefits of people and the economy instead of making short-term decision just based on financial interests. The former sort of argument would more likely persuade governments and businesses to take better care of the natural world so that it can continue to sustain us all in future.

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Gardening

25th April 2021 Garden Update

The corn hasn’t grown much… hmm…

The gotu kola survived the transplant! Though it kinda looks like it’s shrunk.

The Indian Borage didn’t keep the aphids away 😔. You can see they’re attacking the tips of the basil because the ants do this weird thing of stuffing soil around them. Looks like I’ve got to find another way of keeping the aphids at bay.

Watercress leaves are definitely getting bigger after going into soil!

Here’s the top bit of the bitter gourd growing along the fence. Strangely all the bottom leaves near the soil have withered and turned black.

I collected some long bean seeds from a couple of pods that didn’t get harvested. Looking forward to planting these in future.

Here are the beginnings of my wing beans though they’re quite hard to make out here. I trimmed the plants in front to try and get more light to the beans.

There’s a hugeeeee banana flower growing about 2.5 m off the ground. It’s about a foot long.

This has nothing to do with the garden but my mum made a couple of beautiful loaves of bread in the “Tan Cheong” style. Apparently with this style of bread, a roux is partially cooked in the beginning before being added to the rest of the dough. This makes the bread retain moisture better and prevents it from going stale quickly. I have to say I really really really enjoy eating this bread. It’s soft like commercial bread but without all the preservatives and Mum used organic flour.

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Conservation

What Climate Change Means to Me

Climate change means that some species of animals, even iconic ones like the polar bear, are going to become extinct. It also means that certain plant species are going to disappear. This is because the change in climate makes their habitats unable able to support them and unlike humans, they can’t just hop on a plane and fly somewhere that is more suitable for them.

Climate change means that poorer populations around the world, especially ones who live a long the coast, will lose their homes due to rising sea levels or suffer from the effects of extreme weather.

Climate change means that the world is going to become an increasingly unstable and unpredictable place for everyone. As climates change and food and water sources become affected, people may start fighting over the places that have these resources. I don’t know whether this will actually materialise, but more immediately, I think prices for basic resources will go up.

Climate change means that future generations will inherit an earth that is not as beautiful or hospitable as the one I grew up in or have had the fortune of experiencing.

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