Gold plated model of Götheborg at Suntec City, Singapore

June 23, 2007

Ng Hua Qin was at Suntec City (Singapore) on Wed 13 Jun 2007 when he spotted a model of the ship Götheborg. He had visited the Götheborg when she was in Vivocity (Harbour Front, Singapore) and I had taken him on a guided tour so he is one Singaporean who is quite familiar with the ship. He sent me the photo of the model he saw and I responded enthusiastically, “where did you see this?!”

Since the photos was rife with reflections, he promised to take a better photos for the blog. He returned to the shop two days ago and found himself to be the only local there (Koh Inc: 3, Temasek Blvd #02-036, Suntec City Mall Singapore 038983). The shop appears to be a haunt for tourists and possibly for ship model enthusiasts for half the shop was dedicated to models of old sailing ships and several were gold-plated.

On display outside the shop was Götheborg model, all bright and shiny. You can’t miss it for its a 24K-plated model constructed in Taiwan, how about that? Apparently this has been with the shop for 6 months and the retail price is $599. Right now, however, the salesman said it’s on 20% discount now, making it $479.

I rarely venture out to town but it’d be nice to this ship model up close!

Thanks Hua Qin!

A Singaporean welcome for the Götheborg

June 20, 2007

I was unable to visit Sweden to welcome back the Götheborg to her home port of Göteborg but a search of the blogosphere revealed a Singaporean presence! Carineswan has been there since mid-May for work, what are the odds? Of course she saw our grand ship, how could she miss it?

Not only was Carine there to see her, she saw our flag hoisted on the ship along with the other ports of call from her Sweden – China return voyage. I’m glad she was there and blogged about it!

carineswan said, in “The Gotheborg Ship Returns” (After Thoughts, 10 Jun 2007):

“It was a big event in Götheborg. It was largely publicized on posters along the streets. I didn’t know it’s such an important event until I heard that China President Hu Jintao and Swedish King and Queen are attending the event.

A whole lot of people just stand around the canal and waited for the ship to return and dock. At the place where it docked, there’s celebrations going on with musical and dance performance.

See the Singapore flag? Apparently, it has stopped over at Singapore a few months ago, and hold some exhibition at Vivo city.”

*Seaotter waves madly at Carine in Göteborg!*

We swapped comments, and she obligingly sent me these photos; thanks Carine!

Ostindiefararen Götheborg returns home!

June 10, 2007

Saturday 9th of June 2007 – The Swedish Ship Götheborg returned to her home port of Göteborg, after over 20 months on her first expedition to China and back. See this slide show with sounds of the return by Dick Gillbert.

I was unable to visit Göteborg to welcome the ship home and Katarina Svensson of the Embassy of Sweden here in Singapore said,

“…did you check out the homecoming of Götheborg? It was fantastic with close to 300 000 Swedes welcoming the ship home. And the guest of honour being the president of China, well, what can I say?!

My boss Capt Jarvid attended the welcome ceremony in Göteborg and he said it was truly a grand experience. I got goose bumps when he recaptured the event with the thousands of small sailing boats welcoming Götheborg. And rumour has it that she will be visiting Shanghai for the World Expo 2010, maybe a good time to revisit your old “home”?”

The Local reports:

“Thousands of onlookers gathered to welcome the three-masted wooden ship – an exact replica of the Swedish East India Company’s 18th century vessel of the same name – to Gothenburg’s Frihamn on Saturday afternoon.

Dozens of small boats escorted the ship into harbour and with a 21-gun salute Götheborg was brought into the quay by two tugboats.”


Video from vartgbg.

“King Carl XVI Gustaf and Chinese president Hu Jingtao watched the vessel arrive, along with some 90 guests of honour including the local bishop, top figures from business and Nobel Prizewinner Arvid Carlsson.

Peter Kaaling, who captained Götheborg into port, stood on deck and looked out over the flotilla of boats, from canoes to Chinese TV boats, surrounding the East Indiaman.

“I feel humbled. It’s fantastic that so many people have turned up to welcome us,” said Kaaling.”

See also the Xinhua report.


The 21-gun salute to mark her return takes the crowd by surprise!
Video by lumingliu

Linnaeus tercentenary celebrated in Singapore!

May 22, 2007

In December 2006, before I left for Hong Kong to join the Götheborg for the Hong Kong – Singapore leg, the Swedish embassy staff treated Teo and myself to a lunch (the navy pair, Zhong Bo and Poh Huat were already in Hong Kong) .

During that conversation, the Swedish ambassador to Singapore, Pår Ahlberger, mentioned that celebrations were being held in Sweden over the course of the year, in honour of Carous Linnaeus 300th birthday. He is regarded as the father of modern taxonomy, and as a biologist and museum worker (Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore), I could well appreciate that bit of news!

Well after the memories of the voyage were being submerged by the frantic pace of life in busy Singapore, I recalled that conversation and two weeks before the 23rd of May, Linnaeus’ actual birthday, I decided the Raffles Museum should mark that special day in some way.

So I put together a symposium on the eve of Linnaeus’ 300th birthday (22 May 2007)which included another event (see my blog for that long story), and urged Pår to join us as well, despite the very short notice. After all, he was the person who put the idea into my head! And both he and Anna Maj Hultgård came to my great delight!

Pår wasn’t ceremonial decoration, he added a distinctive Swedish flavour to the event with an impromptu and heartfelt message speech about Linnaeus and the influence of Swedish’ geography and outlook on that gentleman, and the environment that nurtured his interest that persists today. His enthusiasm was a great way to start the proceedings and lay the ground for Raffles Museum director, Prof Peter Ng who later delivered a fiery keynote about the legacy of Linnaeus and the environmental challenges we face today.

I chipped in too later that morning, as I had scheduled myself to round things off with a bang! Busy with preparations, I finally agonised over my 15 minute presentation only the previous night, finally choosing to speak about my adventures with otters which allowed me to weave in a few funny stories amidst the background of a detective story that systeematics unravlled – it was from my work in the 90’s and turned out well. I left the audience laughing and hopefully better aware of the significance of systematics to conservation work even today.

I was pretty pleased that the symposium to mark Linnaeus’ tercentenary, conjured up in just two weeks, was a happy occasion that saw smiles all around! My lovely friends had rallied to help, and we had pulled it off!

Links to more pictures and reports were posted at the Raffles Museum News blog. Photos in this blog were taken by Lin Yangchen and Hwang Wei Siong.

Do Swedes get tanned?

May 22, 2007

Of course when they were in Singapore there was not much sun. But the little that appeared seemed to have little or no effect on the Swedes who simply turned a little more red.

Crew-mate Josephine Lidvall said I should see them in the winter when they are pasty white! She said I’d be able to see their veins!

Anyway, she didn’t forget that conversation and sent me this photo (tongue in cheek) to say, “Yeah, Swedes do get tanned!”

Götheborg in London

May 20, 2007

19 May 2007 – On the Thames between Tilbury and Tower Bridge; Logbook – “Excitement on board in anticipation of the highlight of the afternoon. The Götheborg will pass under Tower Bridge and fire a salute, which will be answered by HMS Belfast, now a museum ship at anchor in the river, opposite to the Tower.”

The London SE1 website team on the Götheborg’s return to London:

“Gotheborg returned to London 262 years after the original ship left for Sweden… Tower Bridge lifted to allow the ship into the Upper Pool of London. Gotheborg fired its cannon in salute, with HMS Belfast’s guns firing in return. The merchantman turned round in front of London Bridge before the crew climbed the rigging to release streamers in the colours of the British and Swedish flags.


Swedish ship Götheborg Gun Salute to London by SuperSwede66.

Gotheborg then returned downstream to West India Dock where it is open to the public until Thursday 31 May. The ship will pay a final visit to the Pool of London on Saturday 2 June … before setting off on the final leg of its voyage back to Sweden.”

Götheborg fires her canons, London

See the London SE1 webpage for more and some nice photos of the crew at the bow and this one of my former Babord (HK-SG) crew mates, Peter Bäversjö, looking none the worse for wear after being on board since Hong Kong.

The long pennants were released from the top yards. Red for China (mizzen mast), red-white-blue for Britain (main mast) and blue-and-yellow for Sweden (fore mast).

Man overboard!

April 28, 2007

News on the main page – a crewman is reported overboard on 26 Apr 2007!

The drills worked – note that new crew had come aboard at Nice – the deckhand immediately shouts “Man overboard!” A lifebouy is thrown out, sails are taken in and the ship turned around. The MOB raft is launched and reaches the deckhand in a minute; she is safe. Well done everyone!

Earlier in the Captain’s log, Peter Kaaling writes that the ship had arrived at Nice in grand style,

“…we “sailed” along the beach and Promenade des Anglais. The spanker was set, but there was no wind to fill it. It looked impressive anyway. There is enough depth here, so I went in really close. Later on people who had been sitting on the beach told me that it had really been a formidable sight.

We later on also learned that the mayor had been giving a speech about the Götheborg in the afternoon. He had stood by a window with his back to the sea. Just as he is talking, the ship appears outside.”

But the bit I liked the best, that reminds me of the man so well:

“…In the afternoon I was down on the quay and was asked whether it was free admittance for children. Yes, I said. Could you then show the children around, we cannot afford going aboard! And a little boy and a little girl of about 4-5 years were ushered up to me.

Well, it was just taking them by the hand and lead them around. I was speaking Swedish and they were speaking French, but as usual with children, it worked very well. Children have a marvellous ability to understand, even if they do not know the words. It is part of their development, I suppose.

Having seen with big eyes the guns and the wheel and jumped from sundeck to quarterdeck, I handed them back to their parents, waiting on the quay.”

Having left Nice on 24 Apr 2007, the Götheborg is now on leg 10 of a 11 leg journey. She is now headed for Gibraltar and is scheduled to reach London on 19th of May 2007.

Götheborg t-shirt in flooded Jakarta (Feb 2007)

April 26, 2007

I just discovered Amreta Sidik’s blog after responding to an invitation – Amreta was one of the Swedish embassy staff from Indonesia who volunteered to help out during the Götheborg layover in Singapore.

To my dismay, she got caught in the terrible floods in Jakarta, Indonesia that we had heard so much news about in February. But there she was, perched on her roof, drinking coffee in her Götheborg t-shirt. A veteran of a few floods, she was taking it calmly.

“The water started to ‘invade’ our house on Thursday night, and that it would go up until (at least) 1.60 meters inside the house (and about 2 meters outside) was quite unexpected. It happened very quickly, and certainly the electricity was cut off very soon after. …The water went up and up and up.”

Earlier she had looked down from her balcony to see the neighbourhood responding quickly; weren’t they great? Certainly the sort of folk you want on your ship in tough seas!

“…people ‘swimming’ in the flood, we could only see their heads above the water. Turned out they’re guys from our neighborhood, working very hard hand-in-hand to put ropes along the streets so that people can hang on them since the current in that particular junction (just below our balcony) was very strong.”

She did lose a lot of her books. But what did she say? “I think this is a big lesson in letting go.”

I’m so glad you’re strong, Amreta; stay cheerful!

Read the complete account “The February Flood.” By Amreta Sidik. Amreta’s Site, 05 Feb 2007.

Raffles Museum marks Linnaeus tercentenary

April 24, 2007

Raffles Museum News has begun a commemorating the 300th birthday of Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist, Carolus Linnaeus (1707 – 1778).

In a series called Linnaeus300, Raffles Museum News will feature 30 images of species described by Linnaeus himself, in the month around his birthday on 23rd May 2007 – one to mark each decade since his birth!

Each post also features information about Linnaeus or a link to news of celebrations in Sweden and around the world.

A symposium is also planned and news about that will be posted soon!

See Raffles Museum News.

Ikea Singapore takes a bold step

April 23, 2007

Earth Day 2007 – “Ikea Singapore has taken a bold step – they are the first retailer in Singapore to stop issuing free plastic bags. From today, shopppers will have to pay the cost price of five cents for standard-size plastic bags and ten cents for the larger ones at both Ikea outlets in Alexandra Road and Tampines.”

Habitatnews has the story.

A story from last year heralded the culture. In “No plastic bags for her,” by Leong Su-Lin (The Sunday Times, 21 Dec 2006), she reported that:

“Candida Ho says that cutting down on using plastic bags can easily become a way of life, going by her experience in Sweden three years ago on an exchange programme.

The Swedes, she says, always take reusable bags to the supermarket or pay for the few plastic bags they use.

The habit stuck, and Ms Ho uses NTUC FairPrice and Sheng Siong reusable bags or her own knapsack to carry her groceries. “They’re light and convenient to carry around and less painful on the hands than carrying plastic bags,” she says.”

Ikea Singapore says no to free platic bags