Tuesday, December 30, 2008

National Museum Exhibitions.

A couple of exhibitions visited recently that are worth a mention.

Doubleness: Photography of Chang Chien-Chi

Very moving images, particularly the ones covering an asylum in China.

VOOM Portraits by Robert Wilson

Interesting but left unmoved.

Film - Yes Man

Yes Man

Jim Carry. Hummm. Always acting the clown. He didn't need to in this movie. Extremely funny.. In fact you leave the cinema feeling a bit crazier than when you went in. If you don't laugh out loud....you have a serious problem. Star Rating 3.5.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Singapore Art Museum

The Museum is housed in an old convent. Lovely building, very well converted.

The entrance hall has this unusual mural.

Other gems include these glass works,

and stained glass windows.

The exhibitions we came to see where the Modernity and Beyond in Korean Art and the Is Tomorrow Here Yet, part of the Damler collection of modern art. Both excellent.

Cello Recital.

Loke Hoe Kit: A Bittersweet Life

After a very nice Peranakan dinner at the Esplanade, we enjoyed cello pieces in the recital studio. Very intimate space, great acoustics. Loke is a Singaporean. Good turn.

Programme blurb.

"Cellist Loke performs with pianist Lim Yan and violinist See Ian Ike in this concert consisting mostly of popular duos and transcriptions for the cello, including Bloch’s ‘Schelomo’, Chopin’s Introduction & Polonaise Brillante, the Handel-Halvorsen Passacaglia and more. Loke studied under the distinguished Nathaniel Rosen and Paul Tobias – both protégés of the great cellist Gregor Piatigorsky – at the Mannes College of Music in New York"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bukit Batok Nature Park

A nice hilly park about 20 mins walk from the apartment. Set round a disused quarry, it is surprisingly peaceful once you get into the interior.

You have to take this seriously. Durians can be up to 2 times the size of a coconut with husk. Problem. Neither of us knew what a durian tree looked like! Mind you, with Singaporeans love of the fruit, I doubt that any ripe pods would not be left hanging for long.

Real home

Christmas Eve morning. Winter in Singapore and it is raining, raining, raining. But we is very cosy, thank you.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Film - Four Chrtistmases, Brideshead Revisited.

Four Christmases

Very, very funny. If you can get beyond the lead males cringe worth over the topness, will have you belly laughing. My rating, 3.5 stars

Brideshead Revisited

Love this film. I love the story to begin with, ambitious social climber who hangs on to his own identity and life values. Very powerful performances all round. Love it 4.5 star rating.


American mush with an unexpected ending, which at the end of the day just about saves some of the film, not all. Anyway take a box of tissues!!! Star rating 2.5.

Coming up, Red Cliff (part 2). Out in January. Gek is a martial arts fan. Truly. Seen part 1....that was nearly 3 hours long. Shades of Lord of the Rings but a real story about almost real people.

New Neighbours

Recently I have noticed a couple of raptors hanging around on a tree outside our apartment window. A bit of searching with the binoculars revealed a nest. Quite big it is too. It must have taken some effort to get such big branches up there. Not exactly tidy builders, stick a bit here, poke a bit in there sort of approach to nest building. I wonder how many branches did not stay in place and returned to the ground?

Sorry for the picture quality. My zoom lens is not up to the job and the atmosphere is always very hazy. Not like the crisp Mongolian atmosphere. Excuses, excuses. Tried to enhance just the bird, not worked particularly well though. Anyway, seems like there are now eggs in the nest as one of the two birds is always at there. I think they are sea eagles. Big beggars, anyway. Mate for life apparently. Will update as things develop.

Narrow Escape

Four sets of wheels has to be better than three. On our way to KL the coach's back axle gave up the ghost.....at 80 km in the outside lane of the motorway. How the half shaft stayed in the axle sleeve I will never know. Bits of coach on the motorway but we were safe.

From Gurney Drive. The sculpture caught Gek's eye....a weathered lamp from the original esplanade.

Penang coach station, waiting to start the 12 hour journey back to Singapore. About 14 pounds per person, about 500 miles. Not bad!!! The Transnational Man on the coach's front was a complete fluke!!!!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sungei Buloh

A trip to the north of the island and the wet land reserve. It is a place to see migrant and wading birds.

Including the Mongolian Plover, believe it or not. This isn't one of those....couldn't see one.

Other interesting things you might step on included this beastie. Over 1 metre long. They swim.

And of course it rained. Lots of rain.

These egrets weren't too happy about it either.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Straits Chinese Doll House

This may appear to be carrying a fascination too far, but I have started on a 'Build a Baba Doll House' project. So that there is no confusion, this is not a house for my dolls!!! I do not have any, honest. It is a Doll House in the sense of a small model house. 1/12 th scale actually. Having done preliminary research on the real buildings, I have worked up a set of drawings from which a local wood working shop created a load of plywood parts. Just have to put them together now. Vist www.david-dollhouse.blogspot.com to see further developments.

Now of course I will become an obsessive miniature hunter. Anything near enough 1/12 th scale that is appropriate to the houses period, late 1920', early 1930's. Made a good start on Bolton's Sunday Flea Market. Nailed two miniature water colours for 25 pence each. Bargain!!!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Whitworth Art Gallery

The Whitworth Art Gallery. A name sake. Sir Joseph, no relative, was a famous mechanical engineer in the 19 century. Famous for, among other things , a screw thread standard.

Strong on so called 'Modern Art'

Interesting fiber optic installation.
If you look carefully you will see that the points of light vary in intensity over the square of lights. Got Gek's attention. New 'how to' for the artisan I think.

People and things

Manchester China town. Cold.

Me and the lads. Bless them.

Gek with her long time friend Diane. We met up at Manchester Piccadilly station after Diane travelled across the Pennines just to see us.

Gek with my uncle Granville. I have on occasion been mistaken for Granville's older brother. Hummm. Clearly pays to be laid back!!!

OK, I know, an old chair. Until I put them straight, Gek's friends were convinced that this chair design originated from China. Oh no, it did not. Europe. This particular chair belong to my grandma but the same design can be seen at Singaporean coffee shops......a Kopitiam Coffee Shop chair.

Bolton, November 2008

An unexpected return to the UK had us visiting Bolton, the place I was born. Had not been there for decades.

Christmas decoration up, of course. Damned cold too. We managed on a budget of 40 pounds a day, excluding hotel costs. Not a small amount and we used public transport at that!!!

Bolton, a Lancashire mill town as was. The town hall's claim to fame is that it is identical to the town hall in Portsmouth. This gave rise to stories that the town councillors had been duped by the commissioned architect. Neat trick if true.

Tyldale Silver Band playing outside M&S. The dummies outnumbered the audience. Cold and damp Sunday morning in late November. No surprise there then?

Play the video and listen to the lovely sound of a silver band. So mellow.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Unit Asia

A new jazz band Unit Asia performed their first ever concerts at the Singapore Conference Hall this week . By the reception given to the band, Singaporeans are hungry for live music. Example here. Very lively fusion, as the promotional material says of pop and jazz. And fusion of cultures, band members being Malaysian, Thai and Japanese, making for some entertaining asides to the audience between sets. Love music live. Best of luck to the guys on the rest of their tour.

157 Neil Road, Singapore

A newly opened restored Baba House to complement the new Peranakan Museum in Armenian Street. This is how the house looked in 1969.
and in 1986.
We attended a talk on the challenges faced restoring the house. Very nicely done too. The Baba House website has a video tour of part of the house. This is one of the last remaining Baba houses in Singapore that has not had the guts knocked out of it. In conservation orders for old buildings, only the external architectural features were covered, with a resulting loss of all the cultural related interiors. Crying shame. It is thought there are only 2 original Baba interiors remaining in Singapore. Panang and Malacca has more but unique to Singapore Baba houses are no more. Double shame.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

After the Storm

Short sharp thunder storms are an almost daily occurrence on the west of the island.

But yesterday saw a prolonged electric storm with simultaneous thunder and lightening directly over the apartment block. Scary! Then, mist rising from the trees.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Erdenetuya visits Singapore

An unexpect pleasure to meet up with Erdenetuya in Singapore! She was attending a conference at Nanyang University which is a couple of stops down the railway from us. We had an excellent day out together on Sentosa.

I took a couple of photos from her camera taken by her son. Peace at sunset

Don't know why but I like this shot.
And this picture sent by Selenge........snow on 7th Oct. Good to see the office car park finished.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vagina Monologues

Spotted in the National Library promoting 'A Monologue on Female Issues'. Serious!.

Peranakan Museum.

The quest is on for anything Peranakan. (Thank you Wikapedia). A newly opened museum to the local born descendants of the original settlers brought by the trade between East and West. Most made their fortunes and returned home. These are the guys who stayed to make Penang, Malacca or Singapore their home, marrying local girls. Humm, sounds familiar. My interest is in the Chinese settlers, no prizes for guessing why! Most Chinese Peranakan are of Hoklo (Hokkien) ancestry, although a sizable number are of Teochew or Cantonese descent. Gek is a Teochew. A lot of her friends are Teochew.

The museum has some nice sets showing the typical contents of the Peranakan Chinese homes. These include shrines to both the Deity of the home and the ancestors, related to Taoism principles.

Characters representing Fu (Good Fortune ), Lu (Prosperity), and Shou (Longevity), concepts from Taoism.

Sun Wukong, the Monkey God. I was a big fan of the original TV series Monkey. It was aired in Singapore during my original stay here. Watched avidly every week. With the children, of course. Most recently Monkey has been staring in the opening credits of the BBC's 2008 Olympic coverage, with his friend Pig.

New Casino

Could not make up my mind which was the best picture, so left them both in.

The Business District with the 6 star Fullerton Hotel (ex post office) in the middle distance. In case you are wondering, Gek is repacking her handbag with 4 borrowed DVDs. Quite the Tardis, Gek's bag.

Swing round to the left 60 degs and you are confronted by a small Forest of cranes....the new Casino build.

A bit further panning left and the buildings to be completed first. The whole place is a gaming establishment. Singapore families can already register family members to be barred from entry. Smart move.

And dinner at the New, Old Satay Club at the side of the Esplanade Treatre.