SINGAPORE: For many tourists, Christmas Island is famous for a spectacle that celebrates the abundance of life – the annual mass migration of red land crabs as they head out to sea in their millions during the monsoon season.
But a new exhibition by Singaporean artist Robert Zhao Renhui puts the spotlight on darker ecological issues that plague this remote island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
“The crabs are a good starting point (to know more about Christmas Island), but there’s a lot of drama that has been happening since humans came to the island,” he said. “In a very short span of time, two animals have recently become extinct right under everyone’s noses. They’ve also been culling cats on a mass scale.”
The culling of feral cats, using poisoned kangaroo meat sausages, have made such sightings rare on Christmas Island. (Photo: Robert Zhao Renhui)
The complicated human-animal relationship on the Australian territory is the subject of Zhao’s ongoing solo show Christmas Island, Naturally, which is on display at ShanghART Singapore at Gillman Barracks until May 8.
First exhibited at last year’s Sydney Biennale, the exhibition was the result of three exploratory trips to the island, which was previously part of the Crown Colony of Singapore.
Zhao initially planned to explore the island’s Singapore-Australia connections, but was drawn instead to its native animals and the effects the presence of humans (and the animals they’ve brought in) have had on these.
GOODBYE, FOREST’S GUMP
Among the works on display are photographs that touch on the extinctions of two endemic species: The Christmas Island pipistrelle, a tiny bat, and the Christmas Island forest skink, a type of lizard.
The last recorded echolocation call of the former was in 2009, while the last remaining skink – nicknamed Gump – died in 2014.
This was the spot where the last call from the Christmas Island pipistrelle, a species of bat, was recorded in 2009. It is now considered extinct. (Photo: Robert Zhao Renhui)
For Zhao, visiting the places where the last of both species had died made the concept of extinction that much more palpable. “I was in the spot in the forest where the last recorded call of the bat was found, and it was kind of sad to know that something can die in front of our eyes and we could have stopped it somehow, but didn’t. It was very real.”
The demise of the two species has been partly attributed to the presence of so-called yellow crazy ants and feral cats, both of which were brought onto the island by human inhabitants.
Before it died in 2014, the last remaining Christmas Island forest skink, nicknamed Gump, was kept in this facility. (Photo: Robert Zhao Renhui)
But complicating matters is the fact that these predators, too, are now at the receiving end of drastic measures, Zhao pointed out.
Wasps imported from Malaysia have been brought in to tackle the ant problem, which has also devastated the red land crab population.
Meanwhile, the island’s war against feral cats continues, with poisoned kangaroo meat sausages being used as bait. Recently, plans to use drones to drop the toxic meat in remote places were also revealed.
“It’s very hard to see them anymore,” said Zhao, who reckons that between the strict registration of domestic cats and active culling of feral ones, the entire island would be cat-free by the 2020s.
Even Christmas Island’s popular red land crabs are not safe from non-native animals. The so-called yellow crazy ants, which are not endemic to the island, are also wreaking havoc on its population. (Photo: Robert Zhao Renhui)
Among the works in the show are a series of photographs of a rare feral cat sighting, as well as an installation featuring a cat skeleton and a poison lure. Both are Zhao’s homage of sorts to the island’s imagined “last cat”.
“Humans killing the cats on the island is a kind of extinction itself, but in a way it’s a celebrated extinction,” he said, pointing out the situation’s complex ethical issues.
“Is the killing of thousands of cats on the island justified to save a bat that we’ll never see again? Who do you feel sad for – the cats or the animals that the cats will kill? I don’t know the answer, but we did screw things up. Human brought cats to the island – what do we do now?”
Christmas Island, which is now under Australia, used to be part of the Crown Colony of Singapore and retains buildings that would look familiar to Singaporeans. (Photo: Robert Zhao Renhui)
A MORE DEVELOPED PULAU UBIN
Despite all these, Christmas Island – which has been described as the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean – has also proven to be fascinating in less macabre ways for Zhao.
“The crabs moving in and out to the sea is quite a spectacle. The whole island will be covered with them – although it can be a bit of an inconvenience because all the roads are closed,” he quipped.
Among the more fascinating animal encounters Zhao had was with the less popular swell moths, which would often cover entire trees. He was also able to see a local goshawk, a type of hawk, prey on a thrush before his very eyes.
“The island is like Jurassic Park,” he joked. “It’s very strange. The birds are not afraid of you. You can go near them and they won’t fly away because it’s as if they still don’t know how to react to humans.”
A detail from a photograph of a cluster of swell moths. (Photo: Robert Zhao Renhui)
And if you’re Singaporean or Malaysian, Christmas Island itself feels a bit like deja vu moment, added Zhao.
With Chinese and Malays forming majority of the population, and Malay and Mandarin also considered mother languages, it’s almost like Singapore in the 1980s and 1990s.
“There used to be direct flights from Singapore. Tourist posters are in three languages, you’ve got HDB-looking flats, people eat nasi lemak for breakfast, there are Chinese and Malay quarters … It’s like a more developed Pulau Ubin,” he said.
Could Christmas Island’s similarities with Singapore extend to ecological issues? After all, wild boars, otters, and wild chickens – and Singaporeans’ often uneasy reactions to their presence – have figured prominently in the news.
A detail from a photo of a goshawk capturing a thrush, both of which are endemic to the island. (Photo: Robert Zhao Renhui)
“The priorities are different. On Christmas Island, they’re trying to return to a kind of pre-humans state, to make it as wild as possible. So the killing of the cats, from that perspective, is very justified. In Singapore, wildlife is intruding on us and we’re trying to keep them back. And unlike in Christmas Island, we don’t have a baseline of what state it should be in because it’s always changing,” said Zhao.
“But at the same time, I’ve learned that humans really have a large part to play (in the environment). Our impact is very big and can have serious consequences on animals. We have a hand in everything.”
MANILA: Sitting in gridlock for hours is a frustrating experience for Uber driver Rodolfo.
“In the peak hour, this city is like the world’s longest parking lot,” he said, clearly exasperated. “It’s terrible.”
He works a normal job before taking the wheel in the late afternoon for a driving shift that does not end until after midnight
His is one of million of cars on the road, crawling their way through a traffic nightmare. Needless to say, most hours of the day, they are not getting far.
But from the sky – the commute is a whole lot clearer.
Traffic backs along EDSA, the main thoroughfare in the metro.
As the roads become ever more congested in metro Manila, an increasing number of wealthy Filipinos are turning their sights upward. Custom helicopter services can provide them with journeys of pure efficiency.
“For example when you cross the major road EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue) it will take you two hours. With a helicopter it will only take you five to ten minutes,” said Peter Angelo Rodriguez Jr, the executive vice president of Asian Aerospace, which owns and operates AirTaxi.ph.
“Once you ride it it’s hard to go back to normal life again.”
Prices vary for chopper flights within the metro area, but with a membership program and by-the-minute pricing, the company aims to make city commuting an affordable business expense. A corporate deal starts from US$3,900 per month, with a one-hour helicopter journey subsequently billed at about US$950.
For the one-off user, a ten-minute flight to Makati or Pasig starts from US$450, a steep hike on average economic options on the ground. Still, for the corporate world – time is money.
“It saves you a lot of time. It helps you accomplish your goals for the day. It’s not for everybody because if it was for everybody then there would be too many helicopters and we’d all get stuck in traffic up there,” Rodriguez Jr said.
An AirTaxi.ph helicopter prepares for take-off.
AirTaxi.ph which also operates a fleet of private jets to hubs throughout the country, is the only dedicated point-to-point service in the city, despite the occasional promotional foray into the sector by popular ridesharing apps, Grab and Uber.
The company welcomes competition, and expects others to move into the space, but insists the industry is limited for now. It requires extensive investment and is built on decades of experience and trust.
“To be able to compete in this market you need good economies of scale. If you’re only going to have five helicopters and put them all in Manila, you’re never going to have that many people flying at one time and most of the time your helicopters are just going to be sitting,” he said, adding that they receive “several enquiries a day” about journeys in the city.
“There’s one popular saying in aviation. The fastest way to become a millionaire is to start an aviation company. Because you started being a billionaire.”
Helicopter landing pads can be spotted easily above the city’s skyline.
However, AirTaxi.ph is keen to tap on one element of the likes of Uber – the shared ride. It could dramatically help save costs for pragmatic users, in vehicles designed to carry several passengers. But the company won’t need to develop an app just yet.
“We notice the ones who can afford the services don’t use cell phones to book things,” he said. “They have secretaries to call.”
‘WE’RE LIKE PACKED SARDINES’
Soaring above the Makati skyline, the city’s fast development is all too clear. As high rises and modern malls are being constructed the long trails of cars seem to stretch endlessly around them.
This congestion is slowly choking the metro. Already it is estimated that more than US$60 million is lost every day due to lost productivity. Air pollution – evident from the sky and ground – is worsening, most of it caused by motor vehicles.
Down below, options are being formed for the average Manilan – alternatives that are more eco-friendly and designed to try and mend some of the worst parts of the daily commute over the long term.
The jeepney is a widely used by highly inefficient method of public transport.
Part of the response is coming from the government: a bus rapid transit was approved by the Duterte administration late last year and the train system is being expanded.
But private operators also see an opportunity. Part of a movement towards modern, eco-friendly public transport is Global Electric Transport (GET), which is directly taking the competition to the iconic but inefficient jeepney.
The jeepney is a diesel-fuelled bus-like vehicle, modified from a US army jeep. They are normally colourfully designed and carry the load of about 40 per cent of journeys in the metro. But they are also one of the city’s worst polluters, are crammed and uncomfortable and their pure size adds to congestion.
GET’s solution is an all-electric, zero emission vehicle called the COMET. It resembles a small bus with large open windows, spacious seating and silent operation, like an enlarged golf buggy.
With electronic ticketing, Wi-Fi and ambitions for a booking app, the COMET is looking towards a more commuter-centric future. That also means targeting those who only use cars, or helicopters for that matter.
“We want the rich people to ride the public transport because it’s more convenient and comfortable,” said Nino Ong, the sales manager for GET Philippines.
The current COMET still can only operate on limited routes.
The company is currently using a pilot fleet but it is limited by access to routes, which are determined by city authorities, as well as the battery life of their vehicles.
“The heart and soul of an electric vehicle is its battery,” Ong said, explaining that in the coming months, the company will be rolling out its V3 – a model he expects will be able to fully charge in just 20 minutes.
Their expansion plans are just as rapid. While only 26 of the early models were deployed initially, GET aims to have 5,000 COMETs on the road within five years. They are also trying to convince current jeepney operators to make the green switch.
It could be that the easiest stakeholder to win over though is the passenger.
Passengers say they feel safer using the COMET compared to tightly packed jeepneys.
“It’s cheaper and has enough space for the passengers, unlike in jeepneys where passengers are forced to seat so close to each we’re like packed sardines. It’s also cleaner,” said Orlando dela Cruz, as he rode a COMET in Quezon City.
“The Comet route goes straight to the area where I work that’s why it’s convenient for me. Plus, it’s environment-friendly,” said Jemimah Faith Bunag.
In the grip of a “carmageddon”, Manila has tackling the problem on its agenda. But with resistance to increasing region-low taxes on private vehicles and a rising middle class, perhaps only innovation can save the city from becoming completely unliveable.
If not, there is always room in the sky – for now.
AC Infinity AIRPLATE T9, Quiet Cooling Fan System with Thermostat Control, for Home Theater AV Cabinets
The ultra-quiet fan system is designed to cool home theaters, entertainment centers, and audio video cabinets. Included fans use a custom motor engineered to minimize noise during speed variations and are certified by CE, UL, TUV, and RoHS. Containing dual ball bearings rated at 67,000 hours, the unit can be mounted in any direction. Features a CNC machined aluminum frame with a modern brushed black finish. Fans are set to exhaust air out the frame but this can be reversed to intake air using a screw driver. Includes all necessary hardware to easily mount the unit onto a cabinet and power it through a standard wall outlet.
The controller features an on-board processor with active temperature monitoring as well as intelligent programming that will automatically adjust fan speeds to respond to varying temperatures. Additional features includes an alarm system, display lock or off while programs are running, six fan speeds, three back-light settings, two buffer options, and power failure memory. Features a detachable 6-foot precision thermal probe that is water resistant.
Connecting Additional Units
For cabinets that requires more airflow, additional AIRPLATE S series cabinet fans can be connected to the included thermal controller. Up to six fans can share the same thermal controller or wall outlet power source. AIRPLATE S3/T3 contains one fan, AIRPLATE S7/T7 contains two fans, and AIRPLATE S9/T9 contains three fans.
This ultra-quiet cooling system is popular in a variety of applications including home theaters, entertainment centers, and audio video cabinets; and smaller enclosures and racks holding computers, receivers, amplifiers, and other AV equipment.
An ultra-quiet fan system designed for cooling cabinets that requires minimal noise.
Automated programming that self-adjusts cooling power in response to changing temperatures.
Features a LCD display with an alarm system, display lock, six fan speeds, two buffer options, and memory.
Fan and controller contain CNC machined aluminum frames with a modern brushed black finish.
Dimensions: 17.5 x 6.1 x 1.3 in. | Airflow: 156 CFM | Noise: 21 dBA | Bearings: Dual Ball
SINGAPORE: Imagine your five-year-old being able to tell you about quarks, protons and the periodic table. Not a big deal, until you realise those are fundamental components of particle physics.
But instead of having to learn it by rote memorisation in class when they are older, young children can be exposed to these basics through a mobile game created by Finnish learning game studio Lightneer.
The basic gameplay is simple: Collect three quarks to form a proton, which in turn is used to create atom heroes (different elements on the periodic table). Then use these to blast away pesky antimatter monsters that threaten to make everything disappear.
The game – called Big Bang Legends – officially made its debut in Singapore this week, and it is available for free on Apple’s App Store. Alternatively, you can pay a monthly S$1.49 to go ad-free and receive video learning content customised by professors from Oxford and CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
Lightneer is led by Lauri Jarvilehto, formerly from Angry Birds maker Rovio, and it is co-founded by Laura Konttori and Peter Vesterbacka, both also Rovio alums. It also counts Rovio co-founder Niklas Hed as one of its backers. It includes among its advisors, professors from Oxford and Harvard, as well as CERN’s head of global outreach Rolf Landua.
“Five years ago we’d joke that one day we’ll teach quantum physics to five-year-olds. Now we’re seeing five-year-olds playing Big Bang Legends and having conversations about quarks, protons and atoms. It’s pretty amazing,” said CEO Jarvilehto.
STARTING IN SINGAPORE
While it tested the mobile game in Finland during the development stage, Lightneer decided to introduce the game in Singapore first as it considered both countries world leaders in education and technology.
“Finland and Singapore are world leaders in education and technology, both top the global PISA scores, but with wholly different mindsets. It’s great to launch our first game in Singapore bringing the two leaders together,” said Vesterbacka.
Jarvilehto also told Channel NewsAsia that while Finland’s focus is on playfulness and intrinsic motivation, Singapore’s emphasis is on hard work. “We believe by working closely with the amazing schools and educators in Singapore we can pave the way for future learning that combines the best of both these worlds.”
He added that he is rolling the game out country by country to be able to interact directly with its fans and to learn more about each nation’s educational thinking. For instance, it started a “playtest” of the game with the Stamford American International School here before its launch.
Students from Stamford American International School trying out Big Bang Legends. (Photo: Lightneer/Twitter)
To back up its intention of wanting to teach quantum physics to the young, Jarvilehto said it will offer the subscription version of the game with additional learning content “to any school or library in Singapore that wants it free of charge”.
Besides Singapore, Lightneer intends to bring the game to Hong Kong and Japan, as well as Europe, the start-up added.
Asked if he has a target number of Singapore students Lightneer hopes to attract to Big Bang Legends, Jarvilehto said: “All of them.”
“The natural engagement in the game is very strong in conveying these concepts. And like our Oxford advisor Professor Marcus du Sautoy said, while us adults think particle physics is difficult to learn, these kids don’t know that and that’s why it’s surprisingly easy for them to grasp these basic concepts.”
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s counter terrorism unit has arrested nine Malaysian men – including a school teacher, a security guard and an owner of a veterinary clinic – for suspected involvement in activities related to the Islamic State group.
During the operation, a 31-year-old restaurant worker was arrested in Perak for allegedly planning attacks on the Tapah Police Station, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said.
He allegedly contacted IS members in Indonesia for materials to make an explosive and was actively recruiting Malaysian citizens to join IS.
According to Khalid, the restaurant worker recruited the owner of a veterinary clinic, who was also nabbed in the sting.
Another suspect, aged 27, is an alleged member of the “Black Crow” cell of IS which carried out the attack on Movida Club, Puchong, Selangor last year – the first successful IS attack in the country. This suspect is believed to have been channelling funds for a notorious Malaysian IS member in Syria, Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, for the group’s activities there.
The Movida bar is pictured after a grenade attack in Puchong, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia June 28, 2016. REUTERS/Staff
A 37-year-old primary school teacher was arrested in Kedah and police say he admitted to spreading IS ideology through his Facebook account in order to recruit new members.
A teacher was among the suspects arrested. (Photo: Malaysian police)
The other suspects include a 39-year-old working in security believed to have been trying to sneak out of the country to join IS in Syria or in southern Philippines, a 46-year-old in the city of Kota Bahru, Kelantan state who allegedly tried to recruit members for IS and two other men aged 20 and 24 from Johor.
The operation between Mar 15 and Mar 21 was held in the Malaysian states of Selangor, Perak, Kedah, Kelantan and Johor.
As of Feb 22, a total of 234 Malaysians suspected to be involved with IS have been detained by the Royal Malaysia Police.
According to the home ministry, police have also identified 95 Malaysians who joined the terrorist group in Syria.
“Of this, 30 have died while another eight were arrested as soon as they returned to Malaysia,” said the ministry in a parliamentary written reply to member of parliament Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz on Tuesday (Mar 21).
Air quality matters. That’s why you trust Aprilaire to keep your home environment safe for you and your family. This genuine Aprilaire 213 Air Filter Replacement is rated MERV 13. That means it makes the air in your home fresh and healthy so your family can breathe easy. It’s proven to prevent 93% of particles between 3.0 and 10.0 microns from passing through your home’s heating and cooling system. That includes dust, pollen, and mold spores, which can irritate allergies and worsen asthma symptoms. Annual air filter replacements are a great way to keep your home and family protected. Aprilaire makes it easy to know what you’re breathing.Genuine Aprilaire Air Filter Replacement
Made in Wisconsin, USA
Fits Aprilaire Model: 1210, 2210, 3210, 4200, Space-Gard 2200
Filters dust, pollen, and mold spores from the air entering your home
Protects your family’s respiratory health
NEW YORK: For the first time, pieces recovered from a shipwreck dating back to China’s ninth century Tang dynasty have left Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) and gone on display in the United States.
The works of art are on show at the Asia Society in New York as part of the Secrets of the Sea: A Tang Shipwreck and Early Trade exhibition until June.
The shipwreck was discovered in 1998 by fishermen diving off the coast of Indonesia. Onboard the wreck was cargo comprising more than 60,000 items, many of them perfectly preserved.
Upon inspection, it was realised that this was a trade vessel transporting works of art to sell in the Middle East. Among the cargo were thousands of precious ceramics, gold dishes, silver wine flasks and copper mirrors, all created by Chinese artists.
The find transformed the story of early global trade. Until then, historians had had no record of trade routes between the Far East and the Middle East existing in the mid-800s AD.
The discovery also showed the artists were making their products more desirable to their Middle Eastern buyers, incorporating styles and motifs that were popular thousands of miles away in Persia.
Among the pieces were three dishes with blue and white colouring, which helped revolutionise the understanding of Chinese ceramics.
“Traditional dating for ‘blue and white’ is 14th century but in this shipwreck we see that they were actually producing blue and white in the ninth century. The blue is from cobalt and cobalt was only available in the Middle East in this period,” said Mr Stephen Murphy, the museum’s curator.
“So we know the cobalt was being shipped to China, where they produced the plate. Then they shipped it back to the Middle East,” he added.
To transport the pieces to the United States, the exhibition team created specially moulded foam cases to exactly fit each project.
In many ways, the packing and transportation mirrored techniques the Chinese sailors had used 1,100 years ago. They used storage jars and packed the ceramic bowls tightly inside.
This space-saving packing technique helped preserve many of the bowls. They survived intact, even though over the centuries, the jars themselves were battered by the water and became encrusted with coral.
The exhibition was due to go on display in the US six years ago. However, Washington DC’s Smithsonian Museum pulled out amid ethical concerns over the way the cargo had been commercially salvaged and sold for profit, rather than excavated by underwater archaeological teams.
The exhibitors, though, argue the controversy should not outweigh the academic and artistic importance of this discovery.
Said museum director Kennie Ting: “There’s a certain kind of surprise that comes from realising that these global connections were in existence more than 1,000 years ago because people today think of globalisation as something that is very recent.”
BEIJING: China said on Thursday that it hoped the entry into service of Japan’s second big helicopter carrier, the Kaga, did not mean a return to the country’s past militaristic history.
The ship, along with its sister the Izumo, gives Japan’s military greater ability to deploy beyond its shores as it pushes back against China’s growing influence in Asia.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that in recent years Japan had exaggerated the “China threat” as an excuse to expand its military.
“I also want to say that the Kaga was sunk by the U.S. military in World War Two. Japan should learn the lessons of history,” Hua told a daily news briefing.
“We hope the return of the Kaga is not trying to be the start of the ashes of Japanese militarism burning once more.”
Japan’s two biggest warships since World War Two are potent symbols of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to give the military a bigger international role. They are designated as helicopter destroyers to keep within the bounds of a war-renouncing constitution that forbids possession of offensive weapons.
Ties between China and Japan, the world’s second- and third-largest economies, have been plagued with a territorial dispute over a group of tiny East China Sea islets and the legacy of Japan’s wartime aggression.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)
Cooling Towel for Instant Relief – Cool Bowling Fitness Yoga Towels – 40″x12″ Use as Cooling Neck Headband Bandana Scarf,Stay Cool for Travel Camping Golf &Outdoor Sports – Syourself ( Orange )
Syourself Instant Cooling Towel – A heat killer and must have item in scorching summer
– MATERIAL: soft, smooth and breathable Softcool Extreme. Dries soft and doesn’ t drip water.
– SIZE: 40 inch x 12 inch. Perfect around your neck as a scarf, headband or bandana and it can fold into a small, portable pouch.
– COLOR: blue, grey, dark purple. Fashion and nice to handle for both female and male, adults and children.
– LIGHT WEIGHT & PORTABLE: folds up into a small pack and takes up little space in your bag, which is easy to carry with you in a waterproof pouch.
– INSTANT COOLING: cooling down instantly by simply soaking, wringing out and snapping, and lasting up to several hours; keeping your head cool and sweat out of your face without getting slimy.
– SUPERB ABSORPTION & WATER HOLDING CAPACITY: cooling while absorbing sweat without dripping water at the same time, no worry about wetting your clothes.
– PHYSICAL REACTION: cooling through the evaporation of moisture, which is eco-friendly and reusable for long lasting value.
– For sports & exercise: running, trekking, camping, hiking, backpacking, cycling, racing, bowling, yoga, golf, fitness, landscaping, gardening, mowing the lawn, fishing, swimming, basketball, football, rugby, softball, baseball, tennis, volleyball, hockey, boxing, traveling, climbing, cheerleading, weightlifting, rowing, hunting, shooting, beach, etc.
– For physical treatment: fever or headache relief, heatstroke prevention, sunscreen protection.
– For daily life: cooling while absorbing sweat for kitchen staff, outdoor workers, sports enthusiasts, mom with baby (a cooling towel between mom and baby works wonders).
Machine washable in a gentle cycle; no softeners or bleach; air drying
1 x Cooling Towel + 1 x Waterproof Pouch + 1 x CarabinerINSTANT COOLING, REUSABLE – quickly cools down by just soaking, wringing the water out and snapping. The magical cooling effect can last up to several hours and easy to reactivate it by repeating the same steps. The unique cooling system uses moisture from the towel to draw the sweat away from your skin to keep you cool. Everyone can use the cooling towel, even pets.
FASHION, COMFORTABLE FIT – provides a pleasing color scheme, decent size (40″x12″-large enough to meet your needs) and lightweight. It has a soft feel and attractive to use in public and a perfect size to be a towel, scarf, headband and bandana. It’s just the right size to wrap around your neck or head. The edges are smoothly finished and the exquisite stitching prevents the 4 semicircular corners from unraveling. Use them any place it is hot and you need to cool down to be comfortable.
ECO-FRIENDLY(RoHS APPROVED), VERSATILE – works on the physical evaporation of moisture. No chemicals are used in the making of the Syourself cooling towels. It’s perfect for hot flashes, outdoor activities, indoor exercise, fever or headache therapy, heatstroke prevention, sunscreen protection, cooling while absorbing. Keep yourself cool during hot summer days, workout sessions, outdoor adventures or when someone has a migraine.
BONUSE – nice portable pouch(CE APPROVED). It comes in a FREE waterproof carrying pouch along with a carabiner to attach or fit into your bag, which takes up a little room and weighs a little in your backpack or your purse when you are planning on a travel or outdoor activity.
TOP QUALITY, GREAT GIFT – Softcool Extreme material, dries soft and doesn’t drip water. It would be a thoughtful and caring gift for your families or friends who are heavy sweating, sports enthusiasts, kitchen staff, outside workers, mom with baby. Perfect for vacations to hot places or if you work outdoors in the heat and need a quick cool down, it absorbs heat or sweat pretty quickly and takes a fair amount of time to lose its cooling effect but just snap it in the air and it gets it all back.
VIENTIANE: On the outskirts of the Lao capital, a blue passenger train rattles from its station and across a dry landscape.
Reverberating sirens ring out as boom gates block a nearby road, a handful of motorcyclists almost bemused by the misfortune of being made to wait.
This is the only operating railway in the entire country.
The connector with Thailand spans just 3.5km of Laos itself before crossing the Mekong river on the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge and towards Nong Khai.
But if China’s ambitious plans are realised, within five years, Laos could have hundreds of kilometres of high-speed rail line connecting its capital to the southern China border and the strategic city of Kunming.
The construction of the 414km project got off to a symbolic start last December, with a ground-breaking ceremony in the north of the country. It followed previous stalled attempts to begin construction and a decade of negotiations.
For Beijing it means its aspirations to link its mainland with Southeast Asia, all the way down to Singapore, will be a step closer to reality. The Chinese want southern access to the sea as part of its One Belt, One Road initiative.
But for Vientiane, a pit stop on this ambitious pathway, the impact could be profound. An already fast-growing city, the leap towards full connectivity with the region will come faster than most Laotians might have imagined.
The proposed rail would travel at speeds up to 160kmh.
The government is talking up the potential of the railway, emphasising a shift in mindset about what was always considered Laos’ major geographic weakness – the fact it is land locked.
Now, with a physical infrastructure connection to the world’s biggest population coming, it is the land links that Vientiane wants to seize upon.
“Previously we had been talking about the disadvantage of the geographic location of the country. But we are seeing this disadvantage turn into an advantage,” said Dr Leeber Leebouapao from the National Institute of Economic Research, a key policy advisor to the central government.
With the agreed-upon Vientiane-Hanoi highway also in the mid-term pipeline, Dr Leeber said he expected the capital to be “booming” as the central point between China and the region’s other hubs.
“After the railway and highway are completed, connectivity will be facilitating more economic relations, more flow of people and money. Flowing in and out. It is a new phenomenon here,” Dr Leeber said.
“This will become a trade centre for investors, factories, banks. Things will change very fast.”
The short Lao railway connects to Thailand via this bridge over the Mekong River.
While the economic viability of the US$6 billion project is yet to be tested, with fears Laos could be crushed by debt, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Vientiane believes the market opportunities will be “incredible” for the city and country.
“Will the train help Laos by helping create economic opportunities in the context of it being a land-linked country? Definitely,” said Stephen Schipani, the officer in charge of the ADB-Lao PDR Resident Mission.
“I always say ‘does Laos have access to the sea?’ And people look at you funny because they know Laos doesn’t have direct access to the sea. But in fact it does. It has access to a sea of people.”
That sea could bring new waves of visitors, including millions of tourists from southern China, as well as up to 100,000 overseas workers expected to be needed to complete the project, given Laos’ lack of expertise in the rail industry.
It could also bring new migration from abroad and domestically, as more people chase opportunities in the capital.
Vientiane is expected to see an increase of population of more than 50 per cent in the next decade, swelling it from a sleepy riverside city into, possibly, a strategic axis for trade and growth.
The only train service in Laos runs just 3.5km.
Laos’ relatively small population means it will unlikely be able compete in sectors like manufacturing, but reduced import and export costs are expected to drive potential in other sectors.
“There are opportunities for value-added food, niche agricultural produce and organic crops are a big potential advantage,” Schipani said. “Scheduled train services can move that produce across borders.”
The proposed fast train will travel at 160kmh, reducing travel time from Vientiane to Kunming to just 10 hours.
But the true value of the project may only be realised if and when Laos’ southern counterparts complete their own segments of the railway, at the behest of Beijing. Negotiations about sections elsewhere are ongoing.
“We are just a small country and there is a big market in China,” Dr Leeber said. “The question is how to take advantage of the opportunity. If we don’t, someone else will.”
Follow Jack Board on Twitter: @JackBoardCNA