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27 February 2013

The Maritime Experiential Museum & S.E.A. Aquarium

I went over to Sentosa recently for what must be the first time in probably a year, specifically to go to the S.E.A. Aquarium.  We were originally going to go a few weeks ago but hadn't realised this coincided with school holidays and as a consequence the queues to get over to Sentosa (and I imagine to get in any of the attractions) were mental.  so we hastily changed our minds that time.  This time though we had more luck and made it over and in to the aquarium.



We actually began our visit at the adjoining Maritime Experiential Museum and got a ticket for entry to both attractions.  I assume though you can buy tickets for them individually if you would rather.  To be honest though I think it is well worth combining them and seeing both attractions at the same time.

The maritime museum is the only one in Singapore devoted purely to Asia's maritime history and Singapore's as an important trading post.  The museum takes you through the old silk trading routes and gives you the opportunity to learn about and discover the various items that were traded as well as see artefacts from shipwrecks.  Also on display are replicas of various historic ships used on the trading routes around Asia including a Chinese Fuchuan Junk; Indonesian Borobudur; Indian Dhow; South China Sea Vessel and a Javanese Jong.  A thoroughly interesting look at this part of history.


After exploring the museum we ventured into the aquarium.  When I came to visit Singapore for two weeks when my husband first moved here I went to the Underwater World on Sentosa and although I enjoyed it I remember not exactly being blown away by it either.  The S.E.A. Aquarium is on a completely different scale though and is amazing by comparison!

It is billed as the world's largest aquarium and it has a fabulous array of more than eight hundred species of marine life within it.  This includes jelly fish, sharks, rays, moray eels and many species of beautifully coloured tropical fish.


As you walk around the displays you are taken on a journey through many of the world's seas and oceans and the habitats the marine life live in.  This includes exploring the Straits of Malacca and the Andaman Sea, the Bay of Bengal, the Red Sea and many others.  Perhaps the most amazing part (for me at least) was the Open Ocean section.  You can see in the two photos below just how large this part is and here you can watch leopard sharks, goliath groupers, saw fish, mahi mahi and manta rays.  What helps to emphasise even more the gracefulness of these fish is the classical music gently playing in the background.  I could have happily watched the fish here for hours.  I admit to have fallen a little bit in love with this place.


It's a fantastic day out and I don't think you can fail to be awed by seeing up close the marine life that lives in our seas and oceans.  If you haven't yet managed to go and see it I'd recommend you do soon!














25 February 2013

February - Red #worldcolors #worldcolours

Month two of this fun project for 2013 is already here and this time the colour is red.  


Red flower in the Botanic Gardens
Shrine - Hong Kong

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple - Chinatown
Balinese coffee

Chinatown stall during Chinese New Year

Sentosa Flowers display from 2012

The Gate (2007) - Li Hui, China - i Light Marina Bay 2012

Jug of sangria - Marbella, Spain

River Hongbao 2013

Traditional British telephone box - Jurong Bird Park
Elephant Parade - Hellaphunt - Ricky Gervais - Singapore 2011

Lanterns for Chinese New Year - Fullerton Hotel

Post box in Singapore

The Art of the Brick exhibition


If you missed January's post take a look here, there are also details of how you can get involved as well, if you would like too.

21 February 2013

Lion Dances in the Lion City

I had to wait just over two and a half years for it, but finally this Lunar New Year period I've managed to actually see some of the lion dances, rather than just hearing the drumming.  In fact at the latest count I've gone from seeing none to seeing five, two on the same day!  

Anyone living in Singapore and reading this is probably wondering how I've never seen one as they really are everywhere over the new year period.  I'm not sure how either but even when I've heard the drumming I've never been able to track down the dance or it's simply been a truck driving by en route to another performance.  This year it all kicked off for me on Chinese New Year Eve with two on the same road (Joo Chiat Road), just around the corner from where we live and since then I've seen them on Orchard Road (I was hoping now I work there I might be lucky), near Chinatown and in Little India.


Getting ready

The lion dance is a form of traditional dance in Chinese culture with performers mimicking a lion's movements whilst dressed in a lion's costume.  The lion dance is accompanied by music played on drums, cymbals and gongs.  During the Lunar New Year period the lion dancers visit the businesses of the Chinese community to perform their dance.  The lion will also usually eat lettuce or mandarins as part of the dance, in Chinese these have names which sound similar to words that have an auspicious meaning and that will bring good fortune for the new year.

You see these trucks carrying different troupes everywhere at the moment

I can't pretend that I haven't been very excited by all the lion dances I've managed to see this year particularly as I had to wait so long to actually see one.  When I've heard that characteristic drumming that accompanies a dance I've had to go and try and find it just in case it meant I got to see another one.  I'm not sure I'll ever tire of watching these performers and dances and hope I get to see plenty more!




Year of the Snake street decoration in Chinatown made of lanterns

19 February 2013

A Magical Afternoon at Charly T's - I12 Katong


Struggling for something to do this weekend with the children??  Struggle no more!

For one afternoon only, Charly T’s presents a fun-filled magical event where the little ones can pick up simple magic tricks from a guest magician during an interactive workshop. There will also be an exciting magic show to entertain the children while parents can sit back and enjoy their meals.


Image courtesy of FoodNews PR

Date:  Sunday 24th February 2013

Timings:  12.30pm - 1pm for magic show, 2.30pm - 3.30pm for an interactive magic workshop

Charly T’s is located at 112 East Coast Road, #03-15 I12 Katong, Singapore 428802 
Tel: (65) 6636 4701

T&C's

  • Workshops are complimentary and for in-house dining guests only.  
  • Kids meals are available at just $9.50+ (comes with a soft drink or homemade iced tea).
  • Limited seats are available, reserve a table now at 6636-4701
  • Children (under-12)  get a goody bag (while stocks last).

Join Charly T's on Facebook or follow them on Twitter and Instagram @CharlytsSG for updates on their latest promotions and giveaways!

15 February 2013

River Hongbao 2013

At the start of the Lunar New Year holiday I popped down to take a look at River Hongbao 2013.  River Hongbao happens every year at the beginning of the festivities and its aim is to 'promote the celebration of the Lunar New Year and the appreciation of its culture and traditions'.  

The River Hongbao celebrations are now in their 27th year, though I admit to probably never having seen it at it's best.  Last year we went right at the end when a lot of the stalls etc. were packing up and this year, although it was running, it was the first day and we visited during the day.  I've been told the best time to visit is over the Lunar New Year weekend itself, preferably on Lunar New Year Eve, so hopefully next year I can get it right! 


This year River Hongbao has a number of lantern displays on show (some of which are in the photos below) which at night are lit up.  The lanterns were locally designed and crafted and this year some of the largest lanterns ever created for River Hongbao are featured.  Alongside the lanterns, of which there are twelve for the zodiac signs, are a number of performing groups (there was a stage set up this year which I'm not sure I saw last) and stalls selling a variety of handicrafts as well as plenty of food stalls.  I also noticed a fun fair with lots of different rides.











River Hongbao is on now until the 16 February 2013 (so hurry you haven't got long left to catch it), at The Float @ Marina Bay, open daily from 12.00 noon - 11.30pm and admission is free!

More information is available on the River Hongbao website or on their Facebook page.

03 February 2013

Red Dot Roaming - Aljunied MRT - Geylang

I've been promising and teasing you about a new regular feature on my blog for a while now and finally here it is!  

I mentioned on one of the recent Liebster Blog Award posts about how I had become a little complacent about living in Singapore and that I really wanted to get back the excitement I'd felt during my initial time here.  It was actually a conversation with one of my colleagues at work that put the idea in my head to do this and from there things grew.  I decided that it might be fun to travel around the MRT map of Singapore and in the process hopefully root out some interesting and undiscovered (at least for me) areas of this island.

When I studied the MRT map closer I realised that there are actually an awful lot of stops there and that some of them may not be very worthwhile visiting or, at least, trying to blog about.  As well as this some of the stops in the city area I've done countless times and may have already covered much of what I might want to see.  I therefore decided that I would take them in alphabetical order, research a little of the surrounding area of each one to see what was there and if it sounded/looked promising I'd make the trip.  The only rule being it needed to be something that was within walking distance of the MRT station.  Despite Singapore not being the best for walking far, at least if you don't want to turn into a horrible sticky mess I am prepared to walk a fair distance in the name of exploring something new.    

Of course I don't know the whole island and I'm only doing this from what is available on the Internet, other Singapore blogs and websites I've found and from looking at maps of the area.  So if you know of a must do near a station that I'll likely not know about then please let me know and I'll aim to visit.  I'm not sure how long this will take me to do (or even if I'll ever finish it) but I certainly think it will give me a new challenge for the year and a new appreciation of Singapore.  So sit back and let me take you to my first MRT stop, Aljunied and to the streets of Geylang nearby.



I actually live just a stone's throw from Geylang so, of course, I've ventured there and eaten there in the past but I've never really gone to just hang out there and wander around.  Geylang is well know for housing an array of night time entertainment and KTV bars, but it is none-the-less a fascinating part of Singapore to see.  I've read much about Singapore's history but I have to admit to always wishing I knew just a little bit more about the places I go to to understand more of the significance of the buildings or an area.  Geylang being no exception to this.



I went for my wander around Geylang in the early afternoon when the stalls and coffee shops were full of groups of people chatting and enjoying each others company.  There were also many taxis parked up near eateries too, I guess the drivers were also getting a bite to eat.  Away from the hustle of the eateries though, if you walk down the narrow Lorongs in the afternoon (at least on a week day) many are deserted and peaceful with nothing but bird song to keep you company.  

Geylang is full of beautifully decorated shophouses, even those in in need of a little TLC seem wonderfully charming and many different temples, mosques and churches.  The shophouses I saw seemed in some cases to be occupied by various clan associations and, of course, many by businesses.  There are a myriad of these independent businesses in this area selling everything you could possibly imagine.  Having read a little more about Geylang since I gather that this was an area that many new settlers first came too so it seems fitting that it should be teeming with temples etc. as people doubtless gave thanks for their safe arrival in Singapore.


I enjoyed my walk around, admiring the beautiful buildings and the buzz of day-to-day life.  It felt like their was a real community there and that neighbours knew their neighbours.  Especially as I casually observed Uncles sitting outside the front of shophouses chatting to other Uncles sat outside another shophouse.  Pleasingly Geylang Road's many shophouses are preserved from redevelopment and the area is certainly worth a visit if you've yet to discover it. 

My next Red Dot Roaming post will be published soon, don't forget to get in touch if you think there is somewhere near an MRT station that I absolutely must visit or something that is a must see!

Aljunied MRT station is on the East West line (EW9).

Love the spiral staircases at the back of these buildings




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