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The Singapore Garden Festival 2016

2016 July 28

The sixth edition of the Singapore Garden Festival is back! Running from from 23 – 31 July 2016 at the Gardens by the Bay, this year’s event covering an area of some 9.7 hectares, is the largest ever. The highlight of the festival is probably at The Meadow. Here visitors will be treated to eye-catching creations by some of the world’s gardening greats including the nine Landscape Show Gardens, six Fantasy Show Gardens, fourteen Floral Windows to the World and five Balcony Gardens – all of which are crowd favourites.

My favourite landscape show garden - The Treasure Box by Inch Lim of Malaysia. My favourite landscape show garden – The Treasure Box by Inch Lim of Malaysia.Modern Day Maui - a Fantasy Show Garden by Adam Shuter of New Zealand. Modern Day Maui – a Fantasy Show Garden by Adam Shuter of New Zealand.

Another favourite will have to be the burst of colours in the Flower Dome provided by the Orchid Extravaganza. On display are a rich heritage of orchids that will provide an appreciation of what the world’s most diverse botanical family has to offer.

An award winning Rawdon Jester 'Great Bee' at the Orchid Extravaganza at the Flower Dome. An award winning Rawdon Jester ‘Great Bee’ at the Orchid Extravaganza at the Flower Dome.More unusual orchids. More unusual orchids.

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A host of other displays and activities are also lined up for the festival including a Learning Garden, a Landscape Design Challenge featuring teams of students, the World Of Terrariums which sees more than 100 creative displays of terrariums put up by students, hobbyists and community gardeners. There is also a Vibrant Marketplace in the non-ticketed area to look out for. This sees over 100 booths offering both sustenance and items such as plants, gardening and landscape products and services, and arts and crafts.

A pineapple plant, one of the many useful plants - kitchen-wise at the Learning Garden. A pineapple plant, one of the many useful plants – kitchen-wise at the Learning Garden.

The festival also features a photo and an Instagram contest.  The “Tropical Floral Wonderland” Photography Contest offers prizes such as a Nikon D750 kit set, Nikon D7200 (18 – 105mm) kit set and Nikon D5500 (18 – 55mm) kit set. To enter, photos should be submitted by email to sggardenfest@gmail.com by 1 August 2016. For mobile phone photographers, uploading a photo to Instagram with the hashtag #sggardenfest (post has to be set as public) or via the contest page on the SGF Facebook page during the Festival period, will qualify entrants for a chance to win Nikon COOLPIX S7000 cameras.

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The festival runs until Sunday. More information, including ticketing can be found at the Singapore Garden Festival website.


More photographs from the festival:

JeromeLim-0183 More Fantasy Gardens – Mystical Depths by Hugo Bugg of the UK.JeromeLim-0191 A Garden in a Flower, a Fantasy Garden by Michael Petrie of the US.JeromeLim-0186-3 Dare to Dream, a Fantasy Garden by John Tan and Raymond Toh of Singapore.JeromeLim-0195 Another crowd favourite – Nature’s Resolution, a Fantasy Garden by Stefano Passerotti of Italy.Power of the Earth, a Fantasy Garden by Katsuhiko Koga and Kazuhiro Kagae of Japan. Power of the Earth, a Fantasy Garden by Katsuhiko Koga and Kazuhiro Kagae of Japan.Another view of Modern Day Maui. Another view of Modern Day Maui.JeromeLim-0230 The Sugarcane Maze – a Landscape Garden by Kong Jian Yu of China.The Sugarcane Maze - a Landscape Garden by Kong Jian Yu of China. Another view of the Sugarcane Maze – a Landscape Garden by Kong Jian Yu of China.Back to Nature - a Landscape garden by a South African / New Zealand team. Back to Nature – a Landscape garden by a South African / New Zealand team.JeromeLim-0207 Benny’s Sunflower Farm.JeromeLim-0208-2 Gary’s Musical Flower Field.JeromeLim-0210-3 Another view of Gary’s Musical Flower Field.Winter Wonderland. Winter Wonderland.JeromeLim-0211 A Balcony Garden.Galaxy Floristic - Floral Windows into the World. Galaxy Floristic – Floral Windows into the World.Another Floral Windows into the World display. Another Floral Windows into the World display.A Celebration Floral Table. A Celebration Floral Table.


More photographs from the Orchid Extravaganza:
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The last forested hill in Sembawang

2016 July 11

Sitting in relative isolation and surrounded by a lush forest of greenery for much of the 77 years of its existence, Old Admiralty House may soon find itself in less than familiar settings. The National Monument, built as a home away from home for the officer in command of the British Admiralty’s largest naval base this side of the Suez, will soon find itself become part of Sembawang’s sports and community hub.

Dawn over a world on which the sun will soon set on. Old Admiralty House in its current isolation on top of a hill, with the fast invading sea of concrete in the background.

The hub, it seems from what’s been said about it, will feature swimming pools, multi-play courts, a hawker centre, a polyclinic and a senior care centre; quite a fair bit of intervention in a quiet, isolated and of late, a welcome patch of green in the area’s fast spreading sea of concrete. Plans for this surfaced during the release of what became the 2014 Master Plan, which saw a revision on the intended location of Sembawang’s sports and recreation complex from the corner of Sembawang Avenue and Sembawang Road to the parcel of land on which the monument stands.

The original intended location of the sports and recreation complex in Sembawang (area shaded in light green) [URA Master Plan 2008]. The original intended location of the sports and recreation complex in Sembawang (area shaded in light green) [URA Master Plan 2008].

The monument, a beautifully designed Arts and Crafts movement inspired house, is without a doubt the grandest of the former base’s senior officers’ residences built across the naval base.  Set apart from the other residences, it occupies well selected position placed atop a hill in the base’s southwestern corner, providing it with an elevation fitting of it,  a necessary degree of isolation and privacy, and the most pleasing of surroundings – all of which will certainly be altered by the hub, notwithstanding the desire to “incorporate the natural environment and heritage of the area”.

A day time view. A day time view.

The revised location of the sports and recreation complex in Sembawang (area shaded in light green) [URA Master Plan 2014] The revised location of the sports and recreation complex in Sembawang (area shaded in light green) [URA Master Plan 2014].

The naval base that Old Admiralty House recalls is one to which colonial and post-colonial Singapore owes much economically. With the last working remnants of the base are being dismantled, the area is slowly losing its links to a past that is very much a part of it and Singapore’s history and whatever change the creation of the sports and community hub brings to Old Admiralty House and its settings, it must be done in a way that the monument at the very least maintains its dignity, and not in a way in which it is absorbed into a mess of interventions that will have us forget its worth.

Detail of a 1945 Map of the Naval Base showing the area where ‘Admiralty House’ is. The house is identified as the ‘Admiral Superintendent’s Residence’ in the map.


More on Old Admiralty House: An ‘English country manor’ in Singapore’s north once visited by the Queen


Around Old Admiralty House

The former Admiralty House, likened by some to an English country manor. The former Admiralty House, likened by some to an English country manor.The swimming pool said to have been constructed by Japanese POWs. A swimming pool said to have been constructed by Japanese POWs.Evidence of the through road seen in an old lamp post. The post is one of three that can be found on the premises. An old concrete lamp post on the grounds.What remains of a flagstaff moved in May 1970 from Kranji Wireless Station. What remains of a flagstaff moved in May 1970 from Kranji Wireless Station.Inside the bomb shelter. An air-raid shelter found on the grounds.

The amazing “hanging bridge” of Bilbao

2016 June 29

I love bridges, especially ones on which supporting truss or cable stays structures add to their overall aesthetics.

One rather interesting looking bridge the sight of which I was particularly taken with, is the Puente Vizcaya (Bizkaia in Basque) or the Vizcaya Bridge. I managed a visit to it during a sojourn in the north of Spain in 2013. Straddling the Río Ibaizábal, close to where it spills into the Bay of Biscay, the bridge with its horizontal span elevated some 45 metres above the ground and supported by four lattice ironwork towers, is quite an amazing sight to behold.

The suspended gondola of the Vizcaya Bridge with Portugalete seen in the background. The suspended gondola of the Vizcaya Bridge with Portugalete seen in the background.

The bridge, a so-called transporter bridge, is not what one might think of as bridge in the conventional sense. Rather than a roadway or walkway across which vehicular of pedestrian traffic is carried, a transporter bridge carries its load on a gondola that is suspended by wire-ropes from a moving trolley running across its horizontal span and is more akin to a ferry.

The Vizcaya Bridge. The Vizcaya Bridge.u8aosehucpgef69zqep5 The bridge in its early days (Gizmodo Australia).A close-up of the gondola. A close-up of the gondola.

Developed as a solution to allow the crossing of navigable waterways in areas where space and geography restrict the deployment of the long ramps that  would be necessary to carry vehicular traffic to the deck of bridges elevated high enough to clear shipping, the do have limitations in the volume and rate at which traffic can be moved across the gap and as a result have not seen widespread use. Less than thirty were built worldwide, mostly around the turn of the twentieth century.

The gondola is suspended using wire-ropes from a trolley running across its span. The gondola is suspended using wire-ropes from a trolley running across its span.

The idea for the transporter bridge has been attributed to Charles Smith, an Englishman from Hartlepool. While his invention was made public in 1873, it wasn’t until two decades later in 1893 that the first such bridge, which was the Vizcaya, was completed. Designed by Basque architect Alberto de Palacio, a disciple of Gustave Eiffel (of the Eiffel tower fame), it sparked off a small wave of construction of several other transporter bridges.

A view of the trolley from the top of the bridge. A view of the trolley from the top of the bridge.

Known also as “puente colgante” or “hanging bridge”, the Vizcaya Bridge as a structure, takes us back to the heyday of the industrial and maritime age in Bilbao and a time when the area’s deposits of iron-ore fed the hungry blast furnaces of Europe. This, as well as several other factors that include its dramatic presence and aesthetics,  the technical creativity it expresses, and its role in influencing the development of similar structures, has seen its inscription on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Inscribed in 2006,  the Vizcaya Bridge now holds the distinction of being the only World Heritage site in the Basque Country.

A view of the moth of the Ibaizába estuary from the bridge. A view of the moth of the Ibaizába estuary from the bridge.

The bridge is well worth a visit if you do find yourself in and around Bilbao, a city best known in these parts for its football team and the rather iconic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Besides the unique experience that crossing on its gondola offers, the bridge also features a walkway across its horizontal span, which provides not just a view of its trolley and operating mechanism but also a fantastic view of the towns of Getxo and Portugalete as well as the landscape around the mouth of the Ibaizábal estuary. More information on the bridge, access to its walkway and its UNESCO World Heritage listing can be found at the following links:

Portugalete fron the bridge. Portugalete fron the bridge.The gondola, seen from the walkway. The gondola, seen from the walkway.The walkway. The walkway.Getxo as seen from the bridge's walkway. Getxo as seen from the bridge’s walkway.The Ibaizába River. The Ibaizába Rive, a passage for shipping destined for the old docks of Bilbao.

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The Vizcaya Bridge seen through the buildings of Portugalete. The Vizcaya Bridge seen through the buildings of Portugalete.


The author also blogs on The Long and Winding Road.

Celebrating Places and Memories – a photo contest by SLA

2016 May 5

The Singapore Land Authority (SLA), the agency that oversees the management of State Land and Property in Singapore will be opening Tanjong Pagar Railway Station to the public on Labour Day, 1 May 2016. In conjunction with this, SLA will also be launching a photo contest themed “Celebrating Places and Memories”.

A celebration of space and memory at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station in its days of glory.

The contest, for which members of the public are encouraged to share their memories of State properties such as the former railway station, will run from 1 May to 12 June 2016. Intended to create greater awareness and appreciation of State buildings, many of which are rich in heritage and character, there will be two contest categories: Open and Instagram.

Light streaming through a former barrack block at the former Tanglin Barracks at Loewen Road.

The Open category will offer top 3 cash prizes of $3,000, $2,000 and $1,000, with 10 merit prizes each worth $250. 10 prizes will be awarded for the Instagram of $200 each.

Windows into a time forgotten. Windows into the past – Old Admiralty House.

Submissions may involve any State property, and participants will be directed to the Land query service on Onemap to confirm that the property belongs to the State. A caption (of 50 words or less) should accompany each submission, stating why the State land or building holds significant meaning to the participant. Bonus points will also be awarded for Open category submissions that are also uploaded on SLA’s one Historical Map app.

Command House at 17 Kheam Hock Road. Command House at 17 Kheam Hock Road.

Submissions may be made from 1 May onwards. For the Open category, this should be emailed to slacontest@spoc.com.sg. For Instagram, intended entries should include the hashtag #SLAplacesandmemories. Further details on the contest will be available on the SLA contest microsite.

The last E&O Express train to depart from Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, seen at Bukit Timah Railway Station in June 2011.


Open Houses at State Property:

Note: Other than the open house at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station (another will be held on Vesak Day, 21 May 2016), SLA will hold open houses at two other properties to allow would be participants of the photo contest to photograph them.

These will be at the very grand former Command House , now the UBS Business University campus at 17 Kheam Hock Road on 7 and 8 May from 10 am to 1 pm, and parts of Old Kallang Airport on 15 May from 10 am to 1 pm.  Pre-registration is required.

Do look out for the announcement and further information that will be posted on the SLA’s Facebook Page.

(For information relating to registration for the Command House open house, kindly visit this link)


A non-exhaustive list of State Land and Buildings for which submissions are encouraged:
1 Bukit Timah Railway Station including Truss Bridge
2 Alkaff Mansion (10 Telok Blangah Green)
3 The Grandstand (200 Turf Club Road)
4 Johore Battery (27 Cosford Road)
5 Former Bukit Timah Fire Station (260 Upper Bukit Timah Road)
6 Former Admiralty House (345 Old Nelson Road)
7 Old Kallang Airport (19 Old Airport Road)
8 Red Dot Museum (28 Maxwell Road)
9 Seletar Black & White houses (inside former Seletar airbase)
10 Tanglin Village (Dempsey Road, Loewen and Minden Road)
11 Phoenix Park (within Kay Siang and Tanglin Road)
12 Raintr3 Hotel (33 Hendon Road)
13 Dragon Kilns (85 and 97L Lorong Tawas)
14 Bukit Timah Saddle Club (51 Fairways Drive)
15 Tanjong Pagar Railway Station
16 Former Central Police Station (99 Beach Road)
17 Former British Council Branch Office & Training Centre (362 Holland Road)
18 Former Watch Tower (50 Tanjong Rhu Place)
19 Former Da Qiao Primary School (10 Ang Mo Kio Street 54)
20 Community Use Site @ Junction of Tanjong Rhu View & Rhu Cross (popular community use site)
21 Community Use Site along Tuas South Ave 3 (popular community use site)
22 Viaduct @ Commonwealth Ave West (space for street art)
23 Shop houses at 14-38 Orchard Road
24 Former Station HQ of the Royal Air Force Base and Barracks Blocks for RAF (179 & 450 Piccadilly Road)
25 Ascott centre for excellence (2 Anthony Road)
26 BNP Paribus Training Centre (34 & 35 Hendon Road)
27 AXA University Asia Pacific Campus (3 Ladyhill Road)
28 UBS Business University (17 Kheam Hock Road)
29 La Salle College of Arts Campus (9 Winstedt Road)
30 Alexandra Park ( Winchester Rd & Canterbury Rd)
31 Adam Park (preferably 7, 8 & 11 Adam Park)
32 Goodwood Hill (preferably 4A, 5C/D, 15 Goodwood Hill)
33 Tudor Court (123 – 145 Tanglin Road)

Also at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station:

‘WOMEN: New Portraits’, an exhibition by Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz, through the crowd of reporters and photographers at the ArtScience Museum. Annie Leibovitz, seen through the crowd of reporters and photographers in Singapore in 2014.

‘WOMEN: New Portraits’, an exhibition of newly commissioned photographs by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz feature women of outstanding achievement. Commissioned by UBS, the exhibition will be open to the public from 29 April 2016 to 22 May 2016 at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station’s Main Hall, a stop that is part of a 10-city global tour.  Admission is free. Opening hours for the exhibition, including the day of the Open House, is on Monday to Sunday from 10am – 6pm, except for Fridays when the exhibition hours is extended to 8pm. More information is available at www.ubs.com/annieleibovitz.


A peek at i Light Marina Bay 2016

2016 March 5

The sea of light that descends once every two years on Marina Bay, i Light Marina Bay, is back for a fourth time.

The 2016 edition of i Light Marina Bay, following which the festival will make its return on an annual basis, runs from 4 to 27 March. With 14 out of its 25 installations created locally along the lines of the festival theme ‘In Praise of Shadows’, this edition sees the largest turn out of local artists to date.

As with previous years, the festival invites visitors to take a walk of discovery around the futuristic Marina Bay area around which the installations are scattered. There will also be much to do beyond admiring the artwork with lots of fringe events and activities on offer, including the opportunity to indulge in one of Singapore’s favourite pastimes, eating.

Fringe events to look out for include a craft beer festival, CRAFT Singapore and the Singapore International Jazz Festival – both of which run from 4 to 6 March, PasarBella Goes to Town from 11 March to 3 April, flea markets, activities for kids including a kids fiesta and fairground rides with Uncle Ringo. Workshops and community activities will also be held during the period. More information on all of this can be found on the festival guide which can be downloaded at http://www.ilightmarinabay.sg/-/media/Files/i-Light/Festival-Guide.ashx and also at http://www.ilightmarinabay.sg/Discover/Festival. More information on the festival and installations can also be found at the i Light Marina Bay event website.


Some i Light Highlights

What a Loving, and Beautiful World by team-Lab (Japan)

What a Loving, and Beautiful World - a projection on the ArtScience Museum, which invites viewers to 'swipe' Chinese characters onto the museum's facade using a web application.

‘What a Loving, and Beautiful World’ – a projection on the ArtScience Museum, which invites viewers to ’swipe’ Chinese characters onto the museum’s facade using their mobile devices through a web application found at http://www.ilight.team-lab.com.

About the installation:

First carved in tortoiseshell, ox and deer bone, and bronzeware, Chinese characters were said to each contain their own world. Projected on the facade of the ArtScience Museum, viewers can participate by ‘swiping’ the Chinese characters onto the facade of the building using a web application. The result is a colourful, multi-sensory experience that continuously evolves as images are released from these Chinese characters, while influencing and changing each other within its own immersive, computer-generated world.

More at : http://www.ilightmarinabay.sg/Discover/Installations/What-a-Loving-Beautiful-World


Lampshade by Snøhetta (Norway)

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About the installation:

Lampshade is made of simple bamboo structures covered in photovoltaic cells to prevent sunlight from entering its interior in the day, while lighting up intensively at night with solar energy enough to power a thousand lamps. The installation challenges the perception of artificial light as an element that is dependent on its energy source, and invites visitors to discover links in harnessing sunlight and the eventual electric light.

Made to be both socially and environmentally friendly, the lamps used in this installation will be donated to off-grid communities after its display while the bamboo structure and its light fixtures will be recycled as construction scaffolding.

More at : http://www.ilightmarinabay.sg/Discover/Installations/Lampshade


Moon Haze by Feng Jiacheng & Huang Yuanbei (China)

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About the installation:

Beyond its delightful representation of the full moon, Moon Haze also functions as a monitoring system for air pollutants, picking up and responding to the ambient air quality – the better the air quality, the brighter the installation. In the same space occupied by the moon, people and the environment, the collective effects of these individual parts on one another are integrated and expressed, showing their close relationship and inseparability.

More at : http://www.ilightmarinabay.sg/Discover/Installations/Moon-Haze


Shadow Bath by Loop.pH (United Kingdom)

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About the installation:

Shadow Bath is a luminous inflated bathhouse with coloured light and air casting spectacular patterns inside and out, bathing visitors in dynamic patterned shades. The pneumatic form is a mathematical toroidal space, signifying the geometry of the universe.

During certain periods, visitors will be able to enter the bathhouse for a unique light show. During normal times, visitors can observe the form from the outside as it casts its patterned moiré shadows far and wide like a huge lantern.

More at : http://www.ilightmarinabay.sg/Discover/Installations/Shadow-Bath


Cycle House by Hafiz Osman (Singapore)

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About the installation:

Cycle House is a mobile workstation combining temporary shelter and cycling. The mobility of this shelter represents a sense of nomadic livelihood of a wanderer, being adaptive to new environments and with a desire to search for new adventures. Two cycle houses have been created: the stationary house invites visitors to cycle to light up the piece while expressing their ideas of exploration by drawing on the canvas wall; the mobile house brings a more energetic, disco-themed performance to the bay.

About the More at : http://www.ilightmarinabay.sg/Discover/Installations/Cycle-House


TORRENT by Brandon Tay (Singapore)

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About the installation:

TORRENT is a site-specific interactive installation that aims to transport users into a dreamlike landscape. As users walk past the screen, they find their movements reflected on a screen against an icy landscape, as if a virtual shadow with a swarm of trailing particles, with their motions mirrored but their forms vague.

More at : http://www.ilightmarinabay.sg/Discover/Installations/Torrent


Bolt by Jun Ong (Malaysia)

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About the installation:

Inspired by the form and behaviour of lightning, the installation comprises an intricate network of LED tubes resting on steel legs that flare up when touched. Bolt not only mimics the ethereal nature of lightning, but also allows people to experience direct visceral connections, creating an emotional ‘spark’ that seems to be diminishing in today’s virtually-connected world.

More at : http://www.ilightmarinabay.sg/Discover/Installations/Bolt


Angels of Freedom by OGE Group, Gaston Zahr & Merav Eitan (Germany & Israel )

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About the installation:

Five sets of giant, colourful wings invite visitors to come close and interact with the symbolic angels. This installation seeks to remind visitors of their true selves and to always remain connected to loved ones and those who matter.

More at : http://www.ilightmarinabay.sg/Discover/Installations/Angels-of-Freedom


Lightscape Pavilion by MisoSoupDesign (Taiwan)

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About the installation:

Inspired by traditional Chinese lanterns, Lightscape Pavilion is made of simple, natural materials. Its bamboo lattice is designed to resemble a traditional lantern and its responsive glow serves to unite people under its canopy. The transparency and subtlety of the pavilion places emphasis and focus on the aesthetical beauty of its surroundings and inhabitants instead of its own self. As visitors move closer to its columns, its glow intensifies, as if to symbolically draw strength from the proximity of a human spirit.

More at : http://www.ilightmarinabay.sg/Discover/Installations/Lightscape-Pavilion


Groove Light by Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore (Singapore)

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About the installation:

Groove Light generates geometric shadow patterns when a point light source is shone through five 3D printed lanterns, creating a carpet of light giving physical dimension – in the complex forms of the lanterns – to virtual projections. The suspended lanterns are positioned with precision to create a continuous lightscape which visitors can modify by moving the lanterns.

More at : http://www.ilightmarinabay.sg/Discover/Installations/Groove-Light


Some other things to look out for:

Pop-up Royal Tea Salon by Häagen-Dazs at the Promontory

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Must try at the Royal Tea Salon are Häagen-Dazs’ Spring collection of flavours including the Royal Milk Tea – a blend of fresh and sweet Darjeeling tea and strong, malty and honey-like Assam tea.


KamPONG

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An initiative by Innoverde that invites passersby to have a game of of ping pong on locally designed and custom fabricated tables. KamPONG is located at Mist Walk, close to where the Uncle Ringo rides are located. More information on KamPONG can be found at http://innoverde.com.sg/kampong/.


The author also blogs on The Long and Winding Road.

The show at the Airshow

2016 February 18

Photographs from yesterdays aerial display at the Singapore Airshow.

The aerial display, featuring both military and commercial jets, is undoubtedly the main draw for many during the biennial Singapore Airshow and its previous incarnations. This year’s show, disappointingly, features only one acrobatic team – that from the Republic of Korea Air Force’s Black Eagles. The Black Eagles, who also performed during the last airshow, again wowed the crowd with their spectacular aerial stunts in a 23 minute display that included painting the sky with their trademark Taegeuk symbol. The airshow, runs until Friday for Trade Visitors and is opened to the public this weekend. More information is available at https://www.singaporeairshow.com/aerobatic-flying-display.html (trade days) and https://www.singaporeairshow.com/aerobatic-flying-display-public.html (public days).

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ROK AF Black Eagles flying the domestically produced T-50 Golden Eagle.

ROK AF Black Eagles flying the domestically produced T-50 Golden Eagle.

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JeromeLim-8897 The Taegeuk.JeromeLim-8650 The USAF F-16C in a solo display.JeromeLim-8665 The super silent Airbus A350 XWB.JeromeLim-8676 Another of the Airbus A350 XWB.JeromeLim-8683 RMAF’s highly manoeuvrable SU-30MKM.JeromeLim-8719 RMAF’s highly manoeuvrable SU-30MKM in a vertical climb.The RSAF AH-64D Apache and F-15SG Integrated Display. The RSAF AH-64D Apache and F-15SG Integrated Display.

Pole dancing at Hong Lim Park

2016 January 28

Dressed in bright eye-catching costumes, thirteen pairs of pole dancers sent hearts racing at Hong Lim Park over the weekend. The dancers, all of whom demonstrated great skill, strength and coordination, were participating in the 9th International Lion Dance Competition being held over two evenings as part of Chinatown Celebrates Chinese New Year 2016.

The winning lion - from China's Foshan Huang Feihong Memorial Hall, in action. The winning lion – from China’s Foshan Huang Feihong Memorial Hall, in action.

The competition, which attracted thirteen teams from China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam, required each pair of lion dancers to perform rather dangerous looking stunts atop ”plum blossom poles” or meihuazhuang (梅花桩).

JeromeLim-5411 The second placed lion form Taiwan’s Changxing Master Lu’s Lion and Dragon Dance troupe.

China’s Foshan Huang Feihong Memorial Hall (佛山黄飞鸿纪念馆) took first place with a score of 9.4 points, edging out Taiwan’s Changxing Master Lu’s Lion and Dragon Dance troupe (台湾长兴吕师父龍獅团) who scored 9.31 points.


More photographs

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The author also blogs on The Long and Winding Road.


Don’t under-ESTIE-mate this 8-year old

2016 January 26

All eyes will surely be on eight-year old Estie Kung when MAN VS. CHILD: CHEF SHOWDOWN premiers this evening (26 January) on A+E Networks’ Lifetime channel (StarHub TV Channel 514). The cooking competition series, which made its debut in the U.S., has some of America’s young culinary talents taking on professional chefs. The precocious Estie will be the youngest of the five young chefs who will feature in the 13-episode series. Hosted by chef and television personality Adam Gertler, the series also sees Dylan Russett, Emmalee Abrams, Cloyce Martin and Holden Dahlerbruch, who are between 12 and 14, pitted against a different executive-level chef in each week’s episode.

Estie Kung at Ikea Alexandra. Estie Kung in Singapore at Ikea Alexandra.

Estie was in town recently as part of an Asian promotional tour, making public appearances at two ‘Meet-and-Greet’ sessions. Held at the two IKEA stores, the sessions on 17 January had Estie, who has been in the kitchen since the age of three, exude a confidence well beyond her years in serving up two exclusive recipes - a vegetable ball Banh Mi and Pan Seared Salmon with New England Clam Chowder Sauce – both with IKEA’s products.

Estie, very skillfully dicing onions for the preparation of Bahn Mi.

The series premiere, titled “Don’t Under-ESTIE-mate Her”, will see Estie Kung whipping up a Korean fried chicken dish with kimchi mayonnaise and a gochujang gastrique. More information on the series, which airs every Tuesday at 7pm, can be found at Lifetime Asia.

Estie Kung’s IKEA Veggie Ball Bahn Mi. Putting the finishing touches on her pan-seared salmon with New England clam chowder sauce. With Jamie Yeo during the Q&A session.


The author also blogs on The Long and Winding Road.

The full moon of Thai

2016 January 26

Yesterday, the day of the full moon of the Tamil month of Thai, saw the most lively and colourful of festivals, Thaipusam, being celebrated by the Hindu community. A very visible part of the festival is a procession of devotees carrying kavadis. In Singapore, the kavadis, some weighing as much as 40 kilogrammes, are carried along a route from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road to the Chettairs’ or Sri Thendayuthapani Temple at Tank Road.

The annual procession remains as one of the most colourful religious and cultural celebrations in Singapore even without the chanting, singing, music and dancing, which would have flavoured it in its pre-1973 days. This year, a total ban on music was lifted, and this saw musical instruments allowed at designated points along the procession route. The festival is one of two occasions during which kavadis are carried, the other being the Panguni Uthiram festival celebrated during the full moon of the month of Panguni.


Photographs from Thaipusam 2016

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More information on the festival from the Hindu Endowments Board’s website:

Thaipusam which falls in the Tamil month of Thai (usually January/ February) is an annual foot procession by Hindu devotees seeking blessings, fulfilling vows and offering thanks. Thaipusam is celebrated in honour of Lord Subrahmanya (also known as Lord Murugan) who represents virtue, youth and power to Hindus and is the destroyer of evil.

On the day before Thaipusam, a statue of Lord Subrahmanya decorated with jewels and finery and together with his two consorts, Valli and Devayani, is placed on a chariot and brought in procession. In Singapore, the chariot procession begins from the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple to Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple at Keong Siak Road. The procession symbolizes the blessings sought by Lord Subrahmanya from his elder brother Lord Vinayagar.

Thaipusam ceremony starts in the early hours of the morning when the first batch of devotees of Lord Subrahmanya carrying milk pots and wooden kavadis leave Sri Srinvasa Perumal Temple for Sri Thendayuthapani Temple at Tank Road. The milk in the pots they carry are offered to the deity of Lord Subrahmanya at Sri Thendayuthapani Temple. Some devotees pierce their tongues with skewers and carry a garlanded wooden arch across their shoulders. Others devotees may carry a kavadi (semi circular metal structure decorated with peacock feathers, flowers and plam leaves). The spiked kavadis which require elaborate preparations leave the temple in the later part of the morning and continue till 6pm.

Carrying kavadi is a popular form of devotion for Hindus. It is usually carried in fulfillment of a vow that a devotee would have taken. Placing a kavadi at the end of the foot procession at the altar of Lord Subrahmanya and making an offering of milk symbolizes the cleansing of the mind and soul and seeking of blessings.

In preparation for carrying a kavadi, a devotee has to prepare himself spiritually. For a period of about a month, the devotee must live a life of abstinence whilst maintaining a strict vegetarian diet. It is believed that only when the mind is free of material wants and the body free from physical pleasures that a devotee can undertake the sacred task without feeling any pain.


More information on the kavadi, its origins and some of the various forms it takes from the Thaipusam.sg site:

There are many types of offerings, which the devotee makes to his beloved deity Sri Murugan. A special offering is the carrying of kavadi and there is a Puranic legend behind this practice.

There was once a great saint called Agasthya who rested at Mount Pothikai. Agasthya dispatched one of his students, Idumban, to Mount Kailai Range instructing him to bring back two hills called Sivagiri and Shakthigiri belonging to Lord Murugan.

As instructed, Idumban having arrived at Mount Kailai, picked up both the hills, tied them and swung them across his shoulders.

Lord Murugan had other plans. He wanted the two hills to be placed at Thiruvavinankudi (Palani) and at the same time test the devotion and tenacity of purpose of Idumban.

Idumban who was on his way back with the hills suddenly found himself lost. Lord Murugan appeared as a king, riding a horse led Idumban to Thiruvavinankudi (Palani) and requested Idumban to rest there so that he could continue his journey later.

Having rested, Idumban tried to carry the two hills but strangely found that he could not do so. A perplexed Idumban looked up and saw a child in loincloth standing atop one of the hills. Idumban requested the child to get down, however, the child refused claiming that the hills belonged to him. An angered Idumban attempted to attack the child but found himself falling like an uprooted tree. A scuffle ensued and Idumban was defeated. Only then did Idumban realize that the child was none other than Muruga or Subrahmanya Himself – the ruling deity of the region. Idumban craved the pardon of the divine child and also sought the boon that anyone who comes to the hills to worship Sri Muruga with an object similar to the two hillocks suspended by a load bearing pole, may be granted his heart’s desire. Idumban’s wish was granted. Murugan also said that he would bless those who bring sandal, milk, flowers, etc. in a kavadi to His shrine. Hence, the practice of carrying a kavadi.

At the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, one can see a small sanctum dedicated to Idumban. Devotees who usually fast for Thaipusam break their fast one day later after offering their prayers to Idumban.

The simplest kavadi consists of a short wooden pole surmounted by a wooden arch. Pictures or statues of Lord Murugan or other deities are fixed onto the arch. The kavadi is decorated with peacock feathers and a small pot of milk is attached to each end of the pole.

There are more elaborate kavadis that devotees carry. The alagu and ratha kavadi are common forms of kavadi carried by devotees during Thaipusam. Kavadis are affixed on a bearer’s body by long sharpened rods or by chains and small hooks. A kavadi bearer not only carries a gift for God but the whole kavadi is seen as a shrine for God Himself.

Devotees who intend to carry kavadis are customarily required to observe strict physical and mental discipline. Purification of the body is a necessity. This includes taking just simple vegetarian meals and observing celibacy. According to orthodox doctrine, rigid fasting and abstinence have to be observed over a 48-day period prior to the offering of the kavadi on Thaipusam Day.

Piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers is also common. This prevents the devotees from speaking and gives them great powers of endurance.


Photographs from previous Thaipusam celebrations:


The author also blogs on The Long and Winding Road.

Art Stage Singapore 2016

2016 January 21

Southeast Asia’s flagship art fair, Art Stage Singapore, is back for its sixth  edition. The four day event, with an intended focus placed on contemporary Southeast Asian art, is being held at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention from 21 to 24 January 2016.

The sin-full creations of Kittisak Thapkoa at Number1Gallery. A reflection on Qin Chong’s Evolving Ink.

For 2016, Art Stage Singapore brings the Southeast Asia Forum – an extension of the Southeast Asia Platform it introduced in 2014. The forum in its inaugural year is titled Seismograph: Sensing the City – Art in the Urban Age – and has an emphasis on urbanisation and will have both an exhibition and a talk component. The projects of 19 Southeast Asian artists, which relate to issues and sentiments in the wake of rapid urbanisation in their own countries, will be brought into focus. More information on the Southeast Asia Forum can be found here.

Takeshi Haguri’s Tengu, presented by Toki-no-wasuremono. Entang Wiharso’s Feast Table: Undeclared Perceptions presented by ARNDT.

This year’s fair, the anchor event for Singapore Art Week, features 173 galleries from 34 countries with some 75% or 133 galleries from Asia. Art Stage Singapore 2016 will also see several public artworks being exhibited at public areas, a special exhibition of photographs and oil paintings by Hannes Schmid - best known for his iconic Marlboro Man series in the 1990s, and a return of Video Stage .  The fair runs until Sunday. More information on it can be found at http://www.artstagesingapore.com/.

Yayoi Kusama’s Kei-Chan and Reach up to Heaven ‐ Dotty Pumpkin (Black) presented by Opera Gallery. Close-up of Pink Collar by Ma Han – a public artwork. The $170.4 million sale in 2015 of Modigliani’s “Nu Couché” to a Chinese based collector points to the rise of Asia in the International art market according to Art Stage President and founder Lorenzo Rudolf.


The author also blogs on The Long and Winding Road.



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