Singapore Misc 2

Hi Everyone,

  One day I walked form the Dhoby Ghaut MRT to Chinatown.  It was mostly a nice walk except for the parts where I can’t read a map really well and had to ask too many people who also don’t know North Bridge Road from South Bridge Road.   And then it got really hot.  And then I was almost 2 hours early for the “gallery event” I was going to and there was no library nearby to sit in and wait.  And it was hot.  So I took a detour to another neighborhood to explore and then got all turned around and sort of lost.  A nice German tourist who had been in Singapore for about a day got out her map and luckily was going where I needed to go.  And I was hot.  I’d left the boat at 11 am and returned to the boat by about 8 pm.  But I saw things I hadn’t seen and had a great popiah for dinner at the Maxwell Food Court.  The “gallery event” was a small show at the art studio where I was taking my art classes so I really wanted to be supportive and take part. 

The Dhoby Ghaut station is not far from Bugis and is on the direct line from HarbourFront where we catch the MRT.  From the MRT station on Orchard Road I walked over to Bras Basha looking for lunch.  I ate a great curry chicken wrap at the art museum cafe and then started walking, down Bras Basha Road and right onto North Bridge Road. 

My first stop was at St. Andrew’s Cathedral.  During our evening walk with Lang and Douglas we’d stopped at the church but weren’t able to look inside.  We have a large St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Roanoke and I’ve never been inside that one either though it’s a Roanoke landmark.  Maybe when I’m home I’ll go see it.  I had first labeled the photo as St. Andrew’s Catholic Church,  but luckily checked and found that it is Anglican. Since Singapore had been a British colony it’s logical that it would be Anglican and not Catholic.  The description of the Padang below is even more telling of Singapore’s colonial past.

St. Andrew’s Cathedral
Rebuilt between 1856 and 1861 by convict labour, after the original was twice struck by lightning, St. Andrew’s Cathedral is Singapore’s oldest Anglican house of worship. It’s also a truly magnificent example of Early English Gothic architecture, with spires that rise 63m to the heavens. Streetdirectory.com

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The grey sky made me wonder if I was going to get drenched at some point, but the rain held off.

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Very light and white perhaps because of the tropical weather though they do have AC which felt good.

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“Padang
If you’re wondering what the green field in front of City Hall is; it’s the Padang, the ceremonial green of the city. The first National Day Parade was held at the Padang on 9 August 1965, with Cabinet members proudly watching from the stairs of City Hall. Here you will also be able to see 2 distinct clubs:

Singapore Recreation Club
Look at the left end. First opened in 1905, the club was a sporting and social venue for Eurasian men. In 1955, membership was open to all male Singaporeans, with female members admitted the year after that.
Singapore Cricket Club
Across from it, is the Singapore Cricket Club, founded in 1852 as an exclusive bastion for British and European elite. The end of World War II also marked the end of this policy; membership is now open to all. Go past in the evening, and you may see a few games in progress at the Padang; football, cricket or rugby.

Singapore Cricket Field.” 
Singapore River Walking Tour Guide, Route 3   Streetdirectory.com

You can also see the huge ferris wheel I’ll never ride off in the distance.  The ferris wheel was visible from almost anywhere in Singapore.  We saw it when we first cruised to One Fifteen from Sebana.  We saw it on our walk around Sentosa Cove. 

I got myself turned around leaving St. Andrews from the wrong direction.  If I’d asked for directions to Chinatown I might have had no problems.  But I kept asking for South Bridge Road and no one on North Bridge Road seemed to know which direction was north or south. For some reason I felt asking for “Chinatown” wasn’t so politically correct.  I don’t know why; it’s labeled that way on the Singapore map as is Little India.  Anyway, it should have been simple with my map.   I had gotten myself around Singapore pretty easily; just every now and then I get stuck. Finally I did start asking for Chinatown and the problem stopped though many people told me that it was too far to walk which it wasn’t. 

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Wedding photo ops seem to be everywhere in Southeast Asia.  Not sure if this is the old Post Office or City Hall. 

Next stop Tanjong Pagar, Chinatown.

Singapore Misc 1

3/23/2009

Hi Everyone,

  I have hundreds of photos from Singapore that I would love to share, but I’ll try to show some restraint and not send all of them.  The Internet comes and goes…so we’ll see if this will work.

Bugis area

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Singapore Art Museum with a “temporary” blue sculpture.  It wasn’t there the last time I walked past surprising me.

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My favorite bookstore.  For 2 Singapore dollars I you can buy some really good books.  I buy mostly fiction; lots of “Oprah” books. It was also 3 for S$ 5 but I could always only find 2 until my last visit when I made myself find 3.  They had a copy of Beryl Markham’s West With the Night.  That’s one of Randal’s favorites and he likes to have several copies so he can give them away and still keep his hardbound copy that Bill Kimley sent to him.  And I found two that I wanted.  There are two tables just to the left of where the cart of boxes of books is in the photo.  Luckily it’s not so crowded when I go because only one or maybe 2 people can browse at the same time.

I went through our growing pile of books and collected some we no longer needed.  They were mostly the fiction that I had bought, but some others too.  I took them with me to the Bras Basha Complex that has lots of used book stores and started with my favorite so they could have first choice.    “Two-fifty” the owner said.  “Two dollars and fifty cents?!” I asked?  “Yes.”  I felt that was insultingly little so told her I’d rather donate them to the library!  (The library is just across the street. )  I knew I wasn’t lugging the pile of books back to the boat; but I wasn’t going to sell the lot of them for S$2.50!  I went upstairs to another book shop and he offered me S$3.00.  I told him I’d rather give them away.  Now in all fairness to the first shop, they do sell the fiction paperbacks for S$2 so they can’t pay much.  But the hardbacks go for S$20 and up.  The second shop sells paperbacks for about S$12 and prices go up from there.  I donated them to the library which made me feel better even though they wouldn’t let me have a library card since we were only in Singapore for a short time.  I still have some on the boat to use for boater book swaps and to leave in the Sebana Cove small library. 

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Down one of the side streets off North Bridge Road.  I love the multi-colored winding stairways.

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A modern day rickshaw with a semi-ancient driver. 

Back in Sebana

Hi Everyone,

  We made the half-day trip back to Sebana Cove today and it’s SO QUIET HERE!!!!  It’s amazing how much construction noise we always heard and other boats and radio music and even sharp bird calls and screaming peacocks in the small rotary garden outside the marina.

We have lots of friends who are still here: Marie Louise, Cliff and Ruth, Aletea and Steve and others.  Tomorrow we’ll take the van to town for some last minute shopping to hold us till Wednesday when we’ll leave for home.   Well, shopping for me and a roti for Randal. 

  The Internet at Sebana developed issues while we were away and only works intermittently.  Not sure if this will go.

That’s it for now.

Ru

ps since the internet is so slow, short notes back are great, but I won’t be able to get photos or anything long to download

Last day in Singapore

I was still trying to do EVERYTHING before we left.  Not possible.  But I did want to learn a little more about the Malay culture so it was off to the Malay Heritage Centre.  www.malayheritage.org.sg  The Centre turned out to be just one street away from Arab Street where I had been twice before; once with Lang and once with Randal.  I ate lunch in the same place all three times. 

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Singapore Zam Zam on North Bridge Rd. Halal Muslim food.

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I sat at a table on the other side of the glass window.  These two men are making roti.  I had the lamb roti for the third time.  You can see the window of the mosque across the street reflected in the glass.

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Gigantic roti cooked on a huge round griddle.

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I could only eat about one third of this monster roti.  It was hot and filled with ground lamb and very good.  They also served me cucumber with catsup and spicy dipping sauce.  I washed it down with a can of Coke Zero.  Total cost 4 Sing $ about $2.60 US. 

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I had a front row seat too, to watch the sidewalk show go by.  I also watched as one of the Zam Zam workers called to passers-by to come in for lunch.  Many did just that. You can see him standing there in the long white shirt waiting to nab folks as they walk by.  That’s why I ate here the first time; they come out and welcome you in.  I was with Lang.  When Randal and I were there it was a Sunday and the place was packed with families during lunch time.  We had just spent all morning, from 7:30 am until 12:30 pm visiting Singapore Immigration (very frustrating interaction with them each time we had to renew our VISA) and then making a bus trip to Johor Bahru, Malaysia and back in the game called “get more days on your VISA to remain in Singapore.”  Long story.  Mostly happy ending.  Anyway we were starving when we got to Zam Zam which was a few blocks from the Singapore bus terminal.  We had 1 lamb roti, one order of fried rice and 3 Coke Zero between us. Because the restaurant in Halal they don’t serve beer which probably would taste wonderful with a lamb roti.  We were Very full.

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“Masjid Sultan at Muscat Street in Kampong Glam begun in 1924 and completed in 1928.  This area of Singapore was reserved for the Malay and other Muslim people by Sir Stamford Raffles the “founder” of Singapore.  I just love the term Glam. The area’s name is derived from two Malay words, Kampong, meaning “village” or “settlement”, and Glam (or Gelam) referring to a variety of eucalyptus.”  from Wikipedia.  My photo.

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Arab Street where you can buy bolts of cloth and Persian Rugs.  Randal and I saw some beautiful rugs and hope to actually buy some when we get to Turkey one day.

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Cloth for traditional Muslim dress.

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School kids and their teacher were also visiting the area. 

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A Malay sailing vessel at the Heritage Centre.  And I can get scared on DoraMac.  Imagine crossing the ocean in this. 

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Traditional Minangkabau Palace.  West Sumatra Indonesia.  The Malays have ties to Indonesia though I still don’t truly understand much about who they really are.  Looks like something from “The King and I.”

Next email, inside the museum and batik painting. 

Batik

While I was at the Malay Heritage Centre I was lucky to catch a batik demonstration or part of a workshop; I’m not sure which. 

From the Malay Heritage Centre website

Batik

Of Javanese origins, this technique has found its popularity in Singapore , especially at the Malay Heritage Centre. The term comes from an old Javanese word which means “ to dot ”. Since the 12 th century, this basic concept of using wax and dye has been really popular with Singaporean locals, as well as foreign visitors.

Canting

The use of Canting and wax creates a resist method on the fabric, when it is drawn free-hand on cotton or silk. These smooth lines prevent the dye from penetrating the other areas of the piece. Some other techniques used are:

Cracking Method

This method involves the brushing of wax onto a piece of cloth/silk. When it is dry, it is then crushed and soaked in dye, hence allowing dye to penetrate into the cracked lines. In olden days, only darker coloured dyes are used at this stage. After drying, a second layer of cracking wax is applied to the coloured piece and then painted once more. This effect allows for greater exploration of colours and design.

Absorption Method

This method involves the use of materials like tissues, rock, salt, etc. For example, when tissues are used, it will be spread unevenly on the Batik piece and water is then added to the different parts of the piece. Next, when dye is added or dotted, it will seep into the wrinkles of the tissue, creating a jagged effect. This effect allows for greater exploration of colours, design and imagination.

The Malay Heritage Centre offers workshops in Batik and Pottery.  I don’t know if this woman was a student at a workshop or an assistant since she was the only one other than the teacher doing the batik.  I asked her a question, but was told by the teacher that the woman spoke little English.  The teacher reminded me of the actor Pat Morita from the Karate Kid.  When I said I was from the US, he asked if I were from Key West.  I think I’ll take that as a compliment.  He walked over to help her before I could ask, “why Key West?”

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Teacher shows student.  I should have asked more questions but I didn’t want to interrupt.  I found the information below on the web and I’m guessing it explains the process the were doing.

‘False batik’ or ‘faux batik’ is a term that silk painters use for getting the traditional look of batik. You can paint layers of dyes starting with the lightest progressing through to the darkest colour and painting over the complete piece of silk after each waxing instead of dipping in the dye. Then you can crumple up the batik and paint over the last dye which will seep into the cracks and form the crackle effect one sometimes associates with batik. Unfortunately it is a term that batik artists do not refer to. A lot of them do batik in this way but do not call it faux batik. There are many ways of applying the wax and the dyes. But in this method you do not dip the fabric in dye like in traditional batik.  http://www.batikguild.org.uk/questions.asp

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The top of the batik.  The flowers are outlined in wax and the paint just flows over it.

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The back side of the cloth.  I was told that real batik looks almost the same on both sides of the cloth to indicate the design was dyed into it and not printed on one side.

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Paintings, shadow puppets and batik stamping tools

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Instead of applying the wax with a small hand held tool, the molds are dipped into wax and pressed onto the cloth where the design has already been marked.  I saw a video of batik design at the Asian Civilization Museum.

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Inspiring the next generation. 

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I would have loved to have seen this created start to finish.  But partly I was in a rush to see and get back to the boat to start packing up for our trip to Sebana Cove tomorrow.  Wish I hadn’t waited to the last day to visit the Centre.  You might have noticed that I use the British spelling for words: centre, theatre, etc.  That was if you search for anything I’ve written about you’ll find it more easily.  And besides, “when in Rome..”

Singapore Botanical Garden Favorites

Cramming in all the emails!

We will leave Singapore on the 19th to return to Sebana Cove Marina in Malaysia and leave for the US on the 25th.  Time is just rushing too fast.  And word has it the Internet at Sebana isn’t working so well so I am trying to finish up most of the Singapore email. 

Here are just a few of my favorite photos from the Singapore Botanical Garden.  We spent most of our time just wandering and looking and taking photos; not learning what plants were what so I’m afraid that I can’t give them labels.  Other than purple orchid….  I did take lots and lots of photos so you’re getting off easy.   The close up photos aren’t so bad for just a point and shoot though I did futz with the settings and many were on portrait and macro.  The sun hit just right some of the time and the plants were all just beautiful.  I just got lucky.

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I just loved all of the different greens…I might have to try this with my watercolors

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Down the garden path.

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I love these fan-like trees.

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This was pretty unique.

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I like the red, the green and the sunlight.

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Blue bug in red and green plant. 

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Purple orchid 1.

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Purple orchid 2.  The orchids came in lots of colors and shapes.  The photos of these purple ones are my favorites.

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Tadpoles swimming in one of the small pools

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I was surprised to find this in a botanical garden!

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A cat in the gardens.

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Is that me or my reflection in the mirror?

I’ll stop now!

Singapore Sculptures and a short history lesson

Just one more day and then we’ll leave on the 19th.  AND THERE’S STILL SO MUCH TO SEE AND DO!!!!!!!

“If you’re strolling along the Singapore River and do a double take, that might be because you suddenly find yourself confronted by some life-like and life-size bronze sculptures. Tagged the “People of the River” series, these sculptures depict the lifestyles of early inhabitants along the river. The masterpieces of local sculptors, they form part of an open-concept museum which allows one to uncover layers of Singapore history in a modern setting.  Together with towering skyscrapers in the background, these sculptures create an arresting picture of Singapore’s growth from a small river settlement to a bustling contemporary city. More than memories cast in bronze, they show the stuff which dreams are made of. Remember your camera! Many have been unable to resist the urge to pose with these “river people”! ” www.visitsingapore.com http://www.nusantara.com/ is another site that talks about all of Singapore’s public art.

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The River Merchant by Aw Tee Hong  The merchant is Alexander Johnston.  The standing men are most likely a Chinese and Arab merchant.    You can learn lots from this sculpture; who gets to sit, who gets to talk and who gets to work.  Colonial life illustrated.  You can also see which statues get rubbed and are shiny gold; like the waterbuffalo’s nose!

Alexander Laurie Johnston

By Cornelius-Takahama Vernon written on 2001-03-27

National Library Board Singapore

Alexander Laurie Johnston, (b. Dumfriesshire, South Scotland – d. 19 February, 1850, Bluehill, Kircudbright, Scotland). A former ship’s owner/captain, Merchant, Businessman, Magistrate, Justice of Peace, arrived in Singapore in 1820. One of the earliest and much-liked settlers, he was the first Magistrate and Justice of Peace, appointed by Sir Stamford Raffles, who also made him one of the first Trustees of the Singapore Institution (later Raffles Institution). He established A. L. Johnston & Co. in July 1820, and being an active member of the mercantile community, Alexander Laurie Johnston was one of the founding members of the Singapore Chamber of Commerce in 1837. He was elected its first Chairman. He was one of Singapore’s pioneer businessmen who spent more than 22 years of his life here, made his mark and left Singapore on 18 December, 1841 for England before his retirement in Scotland. He died on 19 February 1850 in Scotland. Johnston’s Pier, now demolished, was named after him.

The benefactor

Johnston was liberal and hospitable to the extreme, and in the earliest cash book when he commenced business here, the first entry to his personal debit was, “A. L. Johnston, Paid subscription for the release of a female European slave, $10″. He was a liberal subscriber to the Singapore Institution, and even long after he left the Settlement, his interest in welfare continued sending liberal donations to its funds. Although an Anglican Protestant, he donated towards the first Catholic Chapel at Bras Basah Road. The building after that became the beginnings of St. Joseph Institution. (Now the Singapore Art Museum)

Departure from Singapore

At one of his many farewell gatherings, a great number of the most respectable Chinese merchants presented him with a piece of Plate valued at one thousand dollars, and a Gold Snuff Box costing five hundred dollars. The Arab merchants presented him with something of equal value. On 17 December 1841, he finally left the Settlement and the East, for England, carrying with him the affectionate regards of all whom he left behind him. He was the best known and most highly respected of the earliest merchants in Singapore. A Singapore Free Press notice of 1 July, 1853 stated that the interest and responsibility of the late Mr. Alexander Laurie Johnston in the firm of A. L. Johnston, ceased on 31 August,

Retirement and death

He retired in Scotland. He died in Bluehill, Kircudbright, in Scotland, on 19 February 1850

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Cat sculpture on the Cavenagh Bridge.  You couldn’t pat these kitties on the outside of the bridge without fear of falling into the river.  Seems Singapore is soft-hearted when it comes to cats.  Remember the cat lady of Newton Circus. 

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Young boys swimming in the Singapore River near Boat Quay across the river from the Asian Civilization Museum.  You can see this scene played out all over Asia. 

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Sculpture near the Singapore Art Museum.

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Pagoda Street Chinatown. 

Singapore has over 100 outdoor sculptures and I guess I have seen maybe a dozen.  Next visit to Singapore I’ll see more.  Oddly I am not usually interested in sculpture.  But when it introduces you to the history. I kind of like it.

Singapore with Marie Louise

Our friend Marie Louise came to stay with me this week.  Randal was off to the Philippines and Marie Louise and I were off to explore Singapore. 

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Marie Louise in front of the “Swiss Cheese” plant at the Singapore Botanical Garden.   www.sbg.org.sg/

http://www.sailblogs.com/member/dessertfirst/   Marie Louise’s blog.  The name of her sailboat is Dessert First.
“I was born in Switzerland where I grew up, went to school, then travelled through Europe, returned and attended school of social work. In 1954 I emigrated to the San Francisco, California. Here I learned to sail and love it and made the decision to retire on a boat.
I then worked as a social worker and administrator for programs for immigrants, families and finally the frail elderly. I retired at 65 in 1993, moved onto my boat Dessert First and started cruising. First down the coast through the Panama Canal to the Caribbean where I stayed for seven years. Then onward and back through the Canal to the Pacific and finally SE Asia where I am now.”

We met Marie Louise in Sebana Cove, Malaysia.  Among other things, Marie Louise and I share the trials and tribulations of trying to paint watercolor.

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Rainy day on Pagoda Street, Chinatown.  Marie Louise and Singapore artist James Koh. Singapore Mint chose him to design their gold and silver medallions to mark the Year of the Pig in 1995. He had been the manager of a huge pig breeding facility as well as being an artist.  The facility was closed down and Mr Koh became an artist full time.  He painted very few images of pigs, but one was chosen by the Singapore Mint for their medallion.  He was quite impressed that Marie Louise speaks Mandarin.  She also speaks Swiss German and French and English of course. 

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Marie Louise buying a wide-angle/macro lens that is held onto her camera with a magnet.  This guy was a great salesman, funny and reminded me of an Asian Jerry Seinfield. I managed to resist any new anything.

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Then it was off to try out the camera.  We were on our way to the Asian Civilization Museum.  We made two visits and could have gone back for more.  Our first trip we looked at some of the permanent collection.  Our second visit was for the opening of the major 2009 exhibit, The Kangxi Emperor:Treasures from the Forbidden City.  Had Marie Louise not come to visit, I don’t think I would have visited the museum and it is one of the best I’ve see in a very long time.  Unfortunately, no photos were allowed at the special exhibit.  http://www.acm.org.sg

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Crossing the Cavanaugh Bridge over the Singapore River to the Museum

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Dessert After.  We worked up an appetite after all of that looking and learning and walking.  I finally had to tell Marie Louise that if she didn’t hurry up and take the photo, she would take the photo of a half eaten dessert.

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Ricciotti located on The Riverwalk at Clarke Quay.  http://www.ricciotti.com.sg/riverwalk/index.html   This was the best!  “PANNA COTTA – S$7.80  smooth vanilla pudding in chocolate shell with sabayon and chocolate jelly”  TIRAMISU – S$7.80 mascarpone cheese cake with ladyfinger biscuits, coffee and cocoa.    Ricciotti is a small Italian bistro with real gelato and wonderful desserts.  My panna cotta  was just perfect and not too sweet.  There was even a strawberry tomato on top.  (They grew in our back yard in New Bedford.  It’s a tiny fruit with a covering that looked like a tiny Japanese lantern. ) The crust was chocolate with something that tasted like cannoli flavored custard filling and wonderful raspberries.  My coffee came with foamed milk on the side.  Just perfect.  And they were having a special so coffee or tea came with all of the desserts! 

Saturday we went off to the Botanical Gardens off Orchard Road.

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At the Singapore Botanical Garden.  I probably would have missed it too if Marie Louise hadn’t suggested going.    The orchid garden is one of Marie Louise’s favorite places in Singapore.  What amazed me was how many of the same plants I had seen growing wild in Sebana Cove!

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Marie Louise and Marie Louise.

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This Kapok Tree was planted in 1933 (when Marie Louise was 5) making it 76 years old.  It has been designated as a Heritage Tree. 

www.blueplanetbiomes.org/kapok.htm “It can grow to a height of 150 feet or more, towering over other trees in the rainforest. Originally a native to South America it now has spread to the primary rainforests of West Africa, and the Southeast Asian rainforests of the Malay Peninsula, and the Indonesian archipelago. The straight trunks are cylindrical, smooth and gray in color, and can reach a diameter of 9 feet. Large spines protrude from the trunk to discourage damage to the trunk. Thin, plank type buttresses stabilize the giant and can extend to 30 feet”

clip_image018  This might give you a better idea of the tree’s size.  I was fascinated.

I took about a gazillion photos at the gardens and also along Boat Quay on the way to the Asian Civilization Museum.  There are lots of bronze statues to tell Singapore history.  l’ll do a few more Singapore emails.  We’re leaving this week to return to Sebana Cove. It has been a wonderful visit. 

Toa Payoh with Lang and Douglas part 1

Hi Everyone,

  Randal and I joined Lang and Douglas for another eating/sight seeing adventure. We had a “progressive meal:” dinner at the Crystal Jade Kitchen and dessert at Swensons.

clip_image002 Crystal Jade had lots of good food, but the photo op went to the glass-walled part of the kitchen where they hand made all of their noodles.

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clip_image006 Faster than a speeding bullet.  We had to try some of the noodles and they were very good.  Douglas had some pork dumplings with a bit of liquid trapped inside that explodes in your mouth if you are careful and don’t tear the dough getting it from serving dish to your plate and mouth.

Randal had an egg dish and I had Portuguese tofu. It didn’t remind me of any of the Portuguese food I grew up eating in New Bedford, but it was really good.   Amazingly it reminded me of the veal cutlets at the Bridge Diner in New Bedford with southern style oniony gravy.  I don’t know how you get tofu to taste like a breaded veal cutlet, but they did.  We all tried it and liked it and Randal and Douglas said the same thing.   Now, of course I would never order veal but I do like the mutton roti from Singapore Zam Zam Restaurant on North Bridge Street just off Arab Street. 

clip_image008  Bad Ruthie, Bad Randal!!  I had a giant Jimmy cone that was real ice cream and really good. 

Randal had his usual, a banana split.

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Lang had mint ice cream but said it was too sweet.  Nothing can be too sweet for Randal or me.  Douglas had orange sherbet with the cherry from the top of Lang’s ice cream.  I always get the cherry from Randal’s banana splits. 

Then it was off to walk around Toa Payoh and burn off two bites of our desserts.

Toa Payoh 2

http://www.the-inncrowd.com/index.htm If you ever visit Singapore this is a really good site with several suggestions for walks through the different areas of Singapore.

“Almost 90% of the population in Singapore live in flats constructed by the Housing Development Board (“HDB”). These flats are located in the suburbs and are grouped into various satellite towns, each with their own town centre.   (A flat is what Americans call apartments.)

Few Singaporeans will think of taking a day trip to the suburbs, let alone foreigners. But, this is the only way to experience the “real” Singapore.

Journey to one of Singapore’s most mature town centres, Toa Payoh Central. Toa Payoh Central is also home to the HDB, which recently shifted its headquarters to a spanking new building called the HDB Hub, located above Toa Payoh MRT Station and the much-debated air-conditioned bus interchange. The decision by the authorities to air-condition bus interchanges then increase the price of public transport caused quite a stir amongst commuters, who prefer to pay less for their transport than to enjoy a few minutes of air-conditioned comfort.

With the sudden influx of a few thousand HDB employees, the already bustling Toa Payoh Central is now bursting at its seams. The coffee shops, hawker centres and shops are very crowded, especially during lunch time.   (On our very first adventure with Lang and Douglas we ate at food from the hawker stalls.)

Shopping here is excellent because almost everything is cheaper than in the city, and there are plenty of interesting buys too. At Cash Converter, a queue forms to sell their used items, which are in turn displayed for sale to others hunting for cheap, used goods. The S$0.80 and S$1.00 shops (i.e. shops selling everything at S$0.80 or S$1.00 apiece) are so well-stocked, it makes you wonder why you ever shopped anywhere else. Try a cup of bubble tea, an iced tea drink (with or without milk) with big, black, starchy pearls. It’s pretty addictive!

Take a look around you and you’ll see bamboo poles with wet laundry sticking out of the flats, housewives trading gossips, residents sipping their kopi-o (“black coffee”) and exchanging their views on the latest news.

Take a break at the Toa Payoh Community Library. Browse through the travel guides, books on Singapore’s history, or works of local writers. You’ll definitely learn something new. Or you could stop by Toa Payoh Entertainment Centre to catch a movie or amuse yourself at the games arcade.

To get to Toa Payoh Central, take the MRT to Toa Payoh MRT Station. It’s just 3 stops from Ang Mo Kio MRT Station.”  

http://www.the-inncrowd.com/index.htm  If you ever visit Singapore this is a really good site with several suggestions for walks through the different areas of Singapore.

clip_image002 clip_image004  Cash Converters.

I had my eye on the white ceramic bunny on the top shelf.  How could anyone part with that?  It was a combination of Happy’s Flea Market and Play It Again Sports.

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The Super Key Lady’s truck and the Super Key Lady sign.  I might have to go back just to actually read the whole sign and not just the part I caught here in the photo.

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I think I even saw a key with Che’s portrait on it.  Lang doesn’t like the key lady because she says the prices are too high.  Douglas says the Key Lady can make a key that will work for you even if you don’t have the exact one to be copied.  At least I think Douglas said that…or I’ve made it up.

clip_image013 She posed for this one.

clip_image015  The Toa Payoh Public Library.

This was taken on our first visit to Toa Payoh.  Lang has her motorcycle helmet in her hand.  That’s how she commutes to work which involves being a computer chip guru.  In Malaysia and Indonesia lots of women drive motorcycles.  Hermairdi’s wife in Belitung had one to commute to her teaching job.  I guess where you have no winter they can be more popular.  Seeing women in full Muslim traditional dress driving a motorcycle always seemed a contradiction to me which shows what I know.