Melbourne: The road to residency IV: Police clearance

So.

Police checks for Australia and Singapore, to make sure I’m clean.

The Australian check is a breeze; I completed and mailed that one out the same day.

(I suspect it’s largely because of the fact that the groundwork for my police check was done on the Form 80. The troublesome part of filling out countless entries and exits and duration of stay et cetera was all done there.)

  • Filled up PDF form for police check, printed and signed. Remember immigration check is code 33 with no fingerprints requested.
  • Printed deed poll, driver’s license and certified them.
  • Attached bank cheque thanks to V.
  • Stuffed ’em all into an envelope, slammed it shut.
  • Went over to the post office, stuck a $1.20 stamp onto it. Dropped it off at the post box.

Now, Singapore.

I need to get my Certificate of Clearance (COC) from the Singapore Police Force (SPF). And the more I read, the more it looks like a heavy duty PITA.

Reference: DIAC’s official guide for obtaining police clearance certificates – all countries

To begin with, I cannot apply for it online and must send it via mail to Singapore – I hate mailing important documents overseas. Step right up, PITA begins right here ladies and gents.

For someone obtaining the COC from overseas, here’s a checklist:

  • The SPF COC application form – bit of a PITA because I can’t fill the PDF up before printing it, crap handwriting ensures.
  • Two recent passport photographs – easy.
  • Evidence of the request from immigration – easy.
  • A photocopy of the passport particulars page – easy.
  • Application fee ($45) plus return postage ($5) on a bank draft issued by a Singapore-based bank. How the hell was I supposed to do that? Did a bit of reading up on the net and it seems like HSBC is an eligible candidate; I’ll try that out next week.

    Update: HSBC does it with an $18 surcharge if you are debiting from an HSBC bank account, have to get bank draft before 1500hrs in summer.

    Update 11 Dec 2012: Brother confirmed this via a phone call to SPF: Commonwealth (CBA), National Australia Bank (NAB), Citibank, ANZ bank drafts are acceptable as well.

  • Get fingerprinted. So, I have a few options.
    1. Australian Federal Police (AFP):
      Only found mention of fingerprinting as part of the national police check, not for the SPF. Fee is $145. According to this post you can head over to their office at 383 La Trobe St Melbourne, I would suggest calling 03 9607 7777 to check.
    2. Victoria Police:
      Call 1300 881 596 from 0800hrs to 1600hrs, Monday to Friday to make an appointment.
      Fee is $137, no cash but EFTPOS, credit cards accepted so no problem.
      City branch is at 637 Flinders Street, World Trade Centre.
      Updated: no charges involved, you have to bring your passport along and slots are heavily booked, be prepared to get an appointment that is months away.
    3. Public notary:
      According to this post it sounds like a PITA – create own template, find a notary and pay up to get him to sight the thing. Last option if I have to do it. The Notary Locator (this link is pointing to Melbourne VIC 3000) should come in handy at this point.

Problems with the COC?

  • Give the SPF a call at (+65) 64358275 or (+65) 64358277 during office hours or
  • Email to SPF_CID_COC@spf.gov.sg

*extracted from the SPF COC page.


More updates to follow on my adventure with the COC – I suspect things will not go smoothly on this one.

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Photography – Melbourne: Puffing Billy

This trip came a few days after Mornington Peninsula, and we started out on the same day ZM arrived. He was conscripted into being driver slave after the overnight flight, and kept insisting that I had given wrong directions to my place. My instructions to him: exit Southern Cross station, turn right towards Flinders St, and turn left.

Waiting for brekkie at Andiamo, exhibit A: Me, V and ZM.

On the road once again, this time to the Dandenongs.

V with Cookie sitting infront with the driver, while Nick and I were at the back with LS.

Cookie before, and after (she dozed off)

The distance to Belgrave (we were heading for the Puffing Billy Belgrave station) couldn’t be compared to the Mornington Peninsula drive, but it still took a bit of time before we reached the place.

Estimated distance: 47 km.

At long last!

Checking out the train timetable.

Queuing up for train tickets!

And while waiting for the train to arrive, we did what every good tourist should always be doing: take random pictures of the station.

And soon enough, we began on the train ride!

On the quest for that perfect shot of the train.

More random shots.

I actually thought everyone would’ve been dangling their legs out the train on the ride like this.
(image via jeffooi.com)

And I ended up being the only person who did it, Z.

Sitting on the train and watching it meander its way around the tracks made me feel like a kid all over again. The weather spoilt the mood though – it was seriously, seriously cold that day, and I could feel the wind biting its way through my shoes.

More examples of how cold it was: note the gloves, faces covered by hoods and scarves.

Planting the flag at Menzies Creek station.

Chugging past Emerald station.

And finally arriving at Lakeside station. The end of the line’s supposed to be Gembrook, but we decided that a full trip took too much time.

Proceeded to wander around Lakeside station, and took a few pictures at the lake.

The trip back to the Belgrave station was decidedly uneventful, but still bloody cold.

Tired and stoned huh?

The cup got depressed, and contemplated jumping.

And when we finally returned to Belgrave.

Nick got to take a photograph with his favourite mascot.

Dinner was a quick affair after that over at some cafe in the area, which turned out to be a horrible decision.

Absolutely tasteless fish and chips. I would heartily recommend that everyone not visit the place ever, but the name continues to elude me. So, be careful when eating at cafes there.

Cookie was eagerly awaiting our return in the car. Apparently she could understand my gesture even without hearing the voice command, and sat down promptly in the car when I snapped my fingers and pointed at her.

And the day more or less ended that way, with slave driver #2 (aka me) driving everyone home.

I’ll leave everyone with one last picture for the day.

This is what happens when I get pissed: behold the wrath of Puffing Kein!

Photography – Melbourne: Mornington Peninsula

As usual, this is a backdated post – about three months late at least. And it takes a lot of time to put the posts up now, because of the Lightbox codes bah. Don’t forget to click on the pictures to view higher resolution versions!

It was early July then, when I decided that a daytrip around Mornington Peninsula would be fun. Honda and LS hadn’t seen much of Victoria yet, and Mornington Peninsula was definitely one of the nearer places to take a drive out to.

So here’s exhibit #1: the rental car.

I had the honor of getting us lost along the way, so we took a break alongside the Monash Caulfield campus to check the maps. This is a classic hmm-where-the-fcuk-are-we picture, seriously.

And hail the school of 2007, land of TKD, boring lectures and basketball; I never thought we would meet again.

And sometime later, we reached Frankston. Ahh, nice and quiet town; it looked like a good place to retire and snooze.

With a peaceful beach to match; there was this fellow enjoying his morning stroll with his two dogs, who were panting and running for all they were worth. The clear blue skies and the sea certainly made a beautiful backdrop against them at that time.

(In case you were wondering where the dogs were in the pictures above – the picture I just painted into your imagination fcuked up big-time, which is why you don’t see it here.)

Taking the traditional we-were-here pictures.

We drove down to Mornington thereafter, taking a look at the town.

Mornington Park.

Scenes in the park, we hereby observe healthy kids who look to be future professional treeclimbers.

Check out this vintage weighing scale, you certainly don’t see something like that around every corner.

And the beach of course – Mother’s Beach this time round.

Beautiful wooden houses stood in a row there, reminding me of the brightly painted houses at Brighton Beach.

More snaps of the houses.

A view along the beach.

There was this small quay nearby, which allowed people to unload their boats and head out to sea.

I had to admit, having the luxury to drive your own boat there and head on a short trip out to sea looked like a wonderful thing to try. Liberating, even.

Lunch was at the Main Sail Cafe, which was packed. It took a long while before the food arrived, but it was worth the wait. Fresh fish and chips!



We drove up to Arthur’s Seat after that, and enjoyed the splendid view at Murray’s Lookout. Look at the wonderful horizon stretching out with no end in sight, and the brilliant sun reflected in the sparkling waves.

And then there was the memorable Seawind Gardens.

Memorable, because of the abundant duck poo all over. Blardy hell!

Consolation: wannabe artistic shot taken there.

We had a look around the entrance of the Enchanted Maze too, which is supposed to be a garden maze thingy. Skipped entry because of the fees needed. The cookie I bought there was delicious though, heh heh.

Yet another wannabe artistic shot taken while driving down Arthur’s Seat.

The original plan after that: I had wanted to drive to Sorrento, take the ferry across to Queenscliff and drive back to the city from Geelong.

The actual story: We drove down Rosebud till Sorrento (drove for ages at 50km/h, bloody hell!), and LS hid in the car while Honda and I took a saunter around the place. (She claimed that it was too cold outside, but it could have been pure laziness at work.) The two of them didn’t want to take the ferry, saying it was too expensive, and we ended up driving back via the freeway.

Driving home. I hadn’t driven in a long while, and literally begged for the chance to get accustomed to long drives. It was fcuking tiring, to say the least. But I survived it, and it was good training for the later roadtrips in the month.

And that, concluded our road trip around Mornington Peninsula, albeit a pretty short one. Hopefully I’ll get to drive out there again another time.

Melbourne: Accomodation scam on Gumtree

This happened about a month or so ago, when I was on the lookout for new accomodation. And here’s a word of warning, the story is a little long so be prepared!

Here’s the original posting on Gumtree Melbourne:

Two Bedroom Flat For Rent in Melbourne Vic Melbourne
Price: AUD $ 800.00

Location: Melbourne
Date Listed: 09/06/2008

The flat area is 100 square metres and is comprised of a spacious lounge, a dining room, with open kitchen, and a central hall off which are Two bedrooms and one bathrooms.Furnished Appliances Pet Friendly Maid’s Bathroom Laundry Room
Terrace Patio Cable TV

So I thought it was a pretty good deal, and dropped a message off. I wasn’t expecting any reply because the price seemed too good, and the accomodation market in Melbourne *is* pretty tight. Surprisingly, I got a reply.

From: Johnny Bender
To: kein@yahoo.com
Sent: Sunday, 31 August, 2008 5:25:48 AM
Subject: Re: Reply to your “Two Bedroom Flat For Rent in Melbourne Vic Melbourne” Ad on Gumtree

Hi,

Thanks for your mail. The apartment is still available. I have taken up an appointment with software outfit in New jersey, and I’ve to move. I’d have actually left it vacant, but my wife advised that I rent it out. Fully furnished,

. It has the following features:
– One bathroom and toilet
– Kitchen with modern fittings
– Dish washer
– Washer/Dryer
– Cable TV
– Wired Internet connection
– Parking space available
heat and hot water are included in the rent.

The rent, which includes all bills such as, electricity $1000 per month. A Refundable damage deposit of $500 will be paid alongside the first month’s rent before you move in.

I will like you to tell me about yourself because I am interested in knowing your capability of funding the rent and taking care of my flat.

I am sending you some images of the apartment.

Hope to read from you soon.

Kind regards,

It sounded like a really good deal all right, so I sent off an email promptly.

hi Johnny,

Thanks for the reply. Just to sum up things about myself:

– I am an IT manager currently working at Box Hill, my partner is a full-time accountant, so there should be no problem with regards to expenses : )
– We are currently living in the city in a two bedroom apartment as well, but we’re looking to move somewhere else to lower our expenses.

Here’s some questions that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind:
– Is the apartment going to be shared with someone else?
– Could we arrange a time for a lookover on the apartment sometime next week?
– I’m curious about the location of your apartment as well; could we get the address as well?

Looking forward to your pictures, thanks!

regards
Kein

The pictures came a few days later, and the apartment looked to be in good shape.

Johnny’s next reply came thereafter:

From: Johnny Bender
To: Kein
Sent: Tuesday, 2 September, 2008 3:27:33 PM
Subject: Re: Reply to your “Two Bedroom Flat For Rent in Melbourne Vic Melbourne” Ad on Gumtree

Hi,

Good to read again from you and for expressing your genuine interest in renting my flat. You seem to be a good personality and I am sure you’ll be a great tenant. I hope i can take your word to take good care of my apartment like your own.
However viewing will be a problem since i am out of the country and the keys and documents are here with me which i will have to send that to you through dhl after you fill the rent application and if you qualify to rent my apartment.every where is clean and neat as showing in the photos I will be away for 6 years
All I need is some one to trust and to take good care of the apartment for me.
Meanwhile, Below are the lease terms:
* An advance payment of 1 month and the Refundable security deposit shall be paid.
* The Rent shall be paid on Monthly basis thereafter.
* You shall only be allowed to default in payment of rent for not more than 3 months after which the eviction process shall be initiated.
* If you will need to vacate the house, notice shall be given a month prior to intended day of moving.
* The security deposit shall be refunded on or before the 15th day of vacating the apartment.

You can reach me on +2347029399657 or 0112347029399657

Thanks and Best Regards,

It sounded a little odd to me at this point, because I had to agree to rent the place before I got the keys? And who the hell was going to allow an inspection to the apartment if the guy was overseas? I decided to ask further.

From: Kein
Subject: Re: Reply to your “Two Bedroom Flat For Rent in Melbourne Vic Melbourne” Ad on Gumtree
To: johnny.bender67@yahoo.com
Date: Tuesday, September 2, 2008, 6:16 AM

hi Johnny,

Thanks for your confidence, and I’m more than pleased to be able to take care of your apartment in this period. Where is your apartment located by the way?

And it really would be great if we could have a look at the apartment before we sign the paperwork – do you have anyone you trust to show us the flat, or perhaps the building management could do it under suitable authorisation from you? We will definitely be able to move on with the application after a look at the apartment : )

Your terms of lease sound fine, I think it would be great if we could speak on the phone about this. Could we arrange a suitable time for a phone conversation? I’ll be more than happy to give you a call at your convenience.

Have a good day now.

cheers
Kein

Johnny’s next reply came after several days of waiting, and it was shorter than I expected.

From: Johnny Bender
To: Kein
Sent: Thursday, 4 September, 2008 10:03:42 AM
Subject: Re: Reply to your “Two Bedroom Flat For Rent in Melbourne Vic Melbourne” Ad on Gumtree

There is no one i can ask to come show you the apartment only if I send out the keys and documents to you so if this is alright with you let me know.

Looking forward to read back from you.

Regards

So um, I’m seriously supposed to take it that the apartment’s in good condition on pure faith? This was stretching it a little far, and I didn’t even know the friggin’ address of the apartment! What the hell, I decided to play hardball too.

From: Kein
Subject: Re: Reply to your “Two Bedroom Flat For Rent in Melbourne Vic Melbourne” Ad on Gumtree
To: johnny.bender67@yahoo.com
Date: Thursday, September 4, 2008, 12:56 AM

hi Johnny,

You still have not told me the location of your apartment, despite repeated requests.

regards
Kein

And this time, Johnny’s reply came bloody quick.

From: Johnny Bender
To: Kein
Sent: Thursday, 4 September, 2008 3:28:47 PM
Subject: Re: Reply to your “Two Bedroom Flat For Rent in Melbourne Vic Melbourne” Ad on Gumtree

Oh sorry about that the apartment address is 17* William Street VIC 3000.So should I email you the rent application form?

Regards

Odd isn’t it? He sounded just a tad too eager to go ahead with the application, and it all sounded too fishy for it not to be a scam. Cheap rent, free utilities, and cable TV even? When it’s too good to be true, it usually is. I decided to Google the contents of Johnny’s emails, and here’s what I got:

From Gumtree forums:

RE: Your Gumtree.com ad #21712693: A modern One double bed flat in West Kensington and Barons Court‏

Hi,

Good to read again from you and for expressing your genuine interest in renting my flat. You seem to be a good personality and I am sure you’ll be a great tenant.
I’d have actually loved to keep it vacant but a friend advised i get some one who can take good care of it.I hope i can take your word to take good care of my apartment like your own.

From Here be dragons: Chicanery, cons and scams, check out Vufkoel’s comment:

Hi,

Good to read again from you and for expressing your genuine interest in renting my flat. You seem to be a good personality and I am sure you’ll be a great tenant. I hope i can take your word to take good care of my apartment like your own.

Did these sentences sound familiar or what? I gave the scammer one last email, just for kicks.

From: Kein
Subject: Re: Reply to your “Two Bedroom Flat For Rent in Melbourne Vic Melbourne” Ad on Gumtree
To: johnny.bender67@yahoo.com
Date: Thursday, September 4, 2008, 5:57 AM

hi Johnny,

I would still prefer to have a look at the apartment before signing or paying for anything. If it’s an apartment building, there should be building management over there. I am sure it would be fine if you could send a letter of authorisation to them showing that I am allowed to inspect the apartment.

Thanks.

regards
Kein

Apparently he got irritated at my repetitive requests, heh heh.

From: Johnny Bender
To: Kein
Sent: Friday, 5 September, 2008 1:15:31 AM
Subject: Re: Reply to your “Two Bedroom Flat For Rent in Melbourne Vic Melbourne” Ad on Gumtree

Well I am not forcing you to rent this apartment from me, may be you should go look for another apartment to rent, I already told you I am not in the country right now so who do you want me to mail the keys and my documents to?????

Thanks

So I left things as they were, and there you have it, the tale’s told and here’s the end of it.

I was in the mood to forget about this matter entirely at first, but V told me about other people being scammed similarly – refer to this article on The Age titled Online scammers target desperate Melbourne renters:

Consumer Affairs Victoria has received several complaints about online scams in which potential renters are asked to send money overseas to secure a place to live.

Consumer Affairs Minister Tony Robinson said the supposed landlords gave detailed descriptions of a property for rent and a story explaining their absence.

“When would-be renters inquired about the property, they were given a comprehensive story outlining why the owner was overseas,” he said.

“In each case, the perpetrators claimed they were overseas and asked renters to send payment for the Melbourne property in advance.”

So remember people, be careful! If you ever have to rent an apartment, be sure to give the apartment and the papers a once-over. If it’s too good to be true, it usually is. Faith in your fellow human beings is all well and good, but cynicism has its place in the world.

Music: Joel Muston – In The Meantime

I came across Joel busking at Swanston Street last year, and put up his song Move With It in a separate post some time later.

It was probably pure coincidence that I happened to be walking up Bourke Street tonight, and came across Joel once again, playing his new songs. No photographs because I didn’t bring my camera along, but it’s great to see him back busking. And I bought his new CD (titled In The Meantime) as a show of support for his music.

http://media.imeem.com/m/hP42YRCqus/aus=false/

Unreliable Me – Joel Muston

Joel has finally got his own site up (joelmuston.com naturally), which has full downloads of all his songs as well. So share the music and spread the word! I’m looking forward to his future gigs in Melbourne : )