31 May 2013

May - Blue #worldcolors #worldcolours

May's colour for #worldcolors #worldcolours is blue.  So, just in time here is my contribution!

Early evening sky over Bangkok
Boat in Dubai 
Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Beautiful blue sky Easter weekend 2012, Hever castle, UK
Blue chairs, The Peninsula hotel, Hong Kong
Kampong Lorong Buangkok
Blue sky over Lichfield cathedral, UK
Blue HDBs, Singapore 
Supertrees and MBS from Gardens by the Bay with an early evening sky
East Coast Park, Singapore

If you missed any of the previous months take a look here.

21 May 2013

Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb

The latest exhibition at the ArtScience museum is another not to be missed.  Especially if you are interested in the Egyptians which, lets face it, if you've been to the British museum you'll know is perhaps the most popular part of that museum.  Or at least that's certainly the case whenever I've been and it's one of my favourite sections too.  This latest exhibit at the ArtScience museum is presented in collaboration with the British museum who've loaned various artefacts as part of the display.  Naturally when I heard this exhibition was coming to Singapore I knew I had to go and see it.

The exhibit tells you about the ancient burial practices and mummification processes that were followed by the ancient Egyptians.  It begins with an excellent 3D film about this process following the specific story of 3000 year old mummy, Nesperennub.  His original cartonnage has never been opened but modern science allows us to see right inside.  I thought the film was excellent though possibly a little gruesome in places for very young or sensitive children as it does describe the process of how the brain and internal organs were removed from the body.

Nesperennub's mummy was discovered in Luxor in the 1890s.  He was alive around 800 BC and died when he was aged approximately forty.  He had lived in Thebes and worked as a priest in the temple of Karnak and was also a fan-bearer to the King.  The ground-breaking x-rays done on his mummy by the British museum in 2004 show some interesting things that experts have been unable to explain conclusively.  I won't spoil it for you here though, you really need to go and see the exhibition for yourself.

After the film visitors then walk through the exhibition which includes over 100 artefacts and six mummies loaned from the British museum.  For me the mummies were the best part of this section, similarly to how they are my favourite part of the Egyptian galleries in London.  That said though there is lots of interesting information about the processes used and the importance of these pieces to the ancient Egyptians in their rituals surrounding life, death and the afterlife.  

Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb is on now at the ArtScience museum until 4 November 2013.

14 May 2013

Kampong Lorong Buangkok

I recently visited what is known as the last kampong on mainland Singapore, Kampong Lorong Buangkok.  The kampong was built in 1956 and is still a privately owned piece of land.  Kampong is the Malay word for village and at one time Singapore was dotted with kampongs but as Singapore has grown and developed these have all been lost, all that is, except this one.

This is a place I'd hoped to visit for a long time, to get a first hand glimpse of what Singapore must once have been like for myself.  Finally myself and a fellow blogger planned our trip having found out the best route to get there and how to then get from the nearest main road to the kampong. 

I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about going when the day arrived.  I'd read articles about how residents feel like show pieces with the relentless trail of people all keen to have a look at this little slice of history and their village and how little some of these people respected their privacy.  I really wanted to see the kampong to get an appreciation of how Singapore once was but I also didn't want to intrude too much on the residents. 

We visited on a weekday morning and the first man we saw greeted us with a beaming smile and a friendly 'good morning'.  A real delight when so many will barely raise a smile ordinarily.  This instantly put me at ease and made me feel more comfortable about visiting the kampong.  Secondly I heard chickens!  I can safely say that is the first time I've heard chickens since I've been living in Singapore.  Usually the only ones I see are wrapped in cling film and on display in the chilled cabinets of a supermarket.

Other than this man we only saw a couple of other people during our visit, a couple were in their home and the other lady we passed also greeted us with a friendly smile.  I'm not sure what I was expecting to see but I was surprised by the number of homes there, it really felt like a community where everyone knows everybody else.  I was also taken aback by how close it actually is to the rest of modern Singapore, just a short walk from the main road and we were there.  For some crazy reason I imagined having to travel a long way to get there.  I guess because it is such a contrast to the Singapore I see everyday.

As I mentioned we were there on a week day and I imagine a lot of the residents were at work or out but even if we'd gone at a weekend I think I'd have still found it an incredibly peaceful place.  The only other part of Singapore that I could describe as being really peaceful before this was when I visited the Bukit Brown cemetery.  Being here it felt as if nature really was on the doorsteps of the kampong houses, with the greenery all around and the narrow paths leading between the houses.  

This got me wondering too what it must be like there at night, with very little lighting to disturb the wildlife.  Similarly whether you can see stars in the sky from here, something that is often impossible in towns and cities with so much artificial light.  What's it like to be here during a storm, especially at night, how much more intense is it and how much louder does the rain sound?  We actually came to close to experiencing that one ourselves as it poured with rain soon after we left.  I have since read that the area is prone to flooding and was also known as Selak Kain in Malay which means, 'hitching up one's sarong' as you would do to wade through flood waters.  

Something that I didn't even think about until I read more about the place after my visit is that this is also one of the only places left in Singapore that you'll see overhead power cables.  Now I think about it, I can't believe that for something that is common in the UK I've never realised until now that it isn't in Singapore. 

As with much of the untouched parts of Singapore I can't help but wonder how much longer this kampong will be here for.  I am amazed it is still here if I'm honest but pleased too that for now this piece of Singapore's history has been allowed to remain. 

If you want to visit I can only reiterate that you should remember these are people's homes and property and respect them and their property accordingly.  I took my photos with my point and shoot digital camera which I was far happier using as I felt it allowed me to be more discreet in capturing my memories of my visit and I hope therefore less intrusive. 

Lorong Buangkok still has a four digit post code unlike the rest of Singapore which is now six digit (since writing this I've been informed that, like the rest of Singapore, they do in fact use a six digit post code)

07 May 2013

Tulips in Bloom at Tulipmania

Having helped with planting some of the tulips for Tulipmania a couple of weeks ago I was excited to be able to return to the Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay last week and see the tulips in all their glory.  

I think it was the row of pink tulips here that I helped to plant

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines are celebrating 80 years of flying to Singapore (the first plane, a KLM Fokker F-18, landed in Singapore on the 3 May 1933) and as part of their celebrations they are sponsoring Tulipmania at Gardens by the Bay.  KLM are assisting with this event by flying in 14 tonnes of tulips (about 48,000 bulbs) from The Netherlands!  That's a lot of bulbs.

KLM will also be celebrating this milestone with a number of other events in Singapore as well.  The band of the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will be playing for free at the Botanic Gardens, Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage on the 11 May 2013 from 5.30pm - 7pm.  Whilst on the 12 May 2013 you can enjoy a performance by the band at the School of the Arts (SOTA) concert hall from 4pm - 6pm.  The KLM Royal Dutch Airlines band will be playing with the Singapore Wind Symphony at SOTA, tickets cost $20 (excluding $1 handling fee), check out the website here for more details.

Returning to the tulips, it was wonderful to see them fully bloomed in an amazing array of colours.  I can't exactly remember the row I helped to plant but I think it may have been the row of pink tulips you can see in the photos above.  Regardless though they looked stunning and it is definitely worth visiting if you can do before the display ends on the 20 May 2013.  As you can also see from my photos there are some cute clogs and windmills dotted around the Flower Dome too, as well as some other gorgeously scented Spring time flowers.

Tulipmania is on now until the 20 May 2013 at the Flower Dome, Gardens by the Bay.  Admission charges to the Flower Dome apply.

Check out KLM's website for details of all the other events being held to celebrate their 80th anniversary of flying to Singapore.

Thanks to Integrated Marketing Solutions Group (IMSG) and KLM for the kind invitation to view the tulips.

01 May 2013

The Ground Cafe & Bar

This cafe is now closed.

I've mentioned before about the numerous places to eat along Tanjong Katong Road, close to where I live, and which has also seen the arrival of a couple of coffee shops too.  I recently paid a visit to this one and finally got around to trying The Ground Cafe and Bar a couple of weeks ago as well.

I have actually been here once before this visit, one evening, but it was only a brief stop for a drink after dinner at another place on Tanjong Katong Road.  When I arrived I had a proper look at the food menu, it looks good but I didn't sample anything just settling for a coffee this time.  One thing I noticed was the breakfast section, I'm very tempted to come here one morning on one of my non-working days just as something different from my usual weekday (or weekend) routine.  

Similarly to when I went to the other coffee shop on Tanjong Katong Road there were only a couple of people here but again I visited on a weekday afternoon.  It was busier when I visited in the evening and I imagine is busier at weekends.  It had a totally different feel to it, possibly because of the extensive beer range that they also serve but it felt too much more like somewhere you could go and easily while away an afternoon.  It was late afternoon when I dropped in and my fellow customers were themselves enjoying a beer rather than coffee.  I liked the atmosphere though and I think it is somewhere I need to return to again in the evening as well as in the day.  Although I'm not a beer drinker (which they serve a lot of) they also have a range of ciders on sale which suits me fine.

As for my coffee, like I've said before I'm no expert but I enjoyed it and I think of the two coffee shop options near me I'm tempted to return here again just a little bit more.
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