28 February 2014

Extreme Sailing Series 2014 - Singapore

Last weekend saw the return of the Extreme Sailing Series to Singapore's Marina Bay.  We went down to catch some of the action on the final day of competition on the Sunday. The weather was perfect, plenty of sunshine and a good breeze too.  

The Extreme Sailing Series was established in 2007 and is the original 'stadium-style' racing circuit designed for spectators, delivering exciting action close to the shore. This time around Singapore hosted the opening act of the 2014 global tour.  Nine teams from seven nations are taking part this year which includes some of sailing's most legendary figures, including winners of America's cup, world champions, record breakers and Olympic heroes, including Sir Ben Ainslie.  Once again alongside the racing there was a host of fun activities for the family as well as food and beverage stalls and best of all entry to watch the racing was free!  Singapore was once again represented too with Team Aberdeen Singapore taking part.

It actually turned out to be a pretty exciting weekend for spectators which included a major crash between two of the teams (Team Aberdeen Singapore and France's Groupama Sailing Team) due to the windy conditions on the Saturday.  Luckily everyone was OK and both teams were able to take part on the Sunday after some repairs had been made overnight.

We spent an entertaining afternoon watching the teams in the concluding races on the Sunday and, of course, were cheering on the British team in particular.  In the end the standings after day four of the competition and twenty-nine races are as follows:

Position / Team / Points

1stAlinghi (SUI) Morgan Larson, Stuart Pollard, Pierre-Yves Jorand, Nils Frei, Yves Detrey - 217 points.

2nd - The Wave, Muscat (OMA) Leigh McMillan, Sarah Ayton, Pete Greenhalgh, Kinley Fowler, Nasser Al Mashari - 193 points.

3rd - Realstone (SUI) Jérôme Clerc, Arnaud Psarofaghis, Bruno Barbarin, Thierry Wassem, Sebastien Stephant - 178 points.

4th - Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) Dean Barker, Glenn Ashby, James Dagg, Jeremy Lomas, Edwin Delaat - 168 points.

5th - Groupama sailing team (FRA) Franck Cammas, Sophie de Turckheim, Tanguy Cariou, Thierry Fouchier, Devan Le Bihan - 160 points.

6th - Red Bull Sailing Team (AUT) Roman Hagara, Hans-Peter Steinacher, Mark Bulkeley, Nick Blackman, Haylee Outteridge - 156 points.

7th - J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR) Sir Ben Ainslie, Nick Hutton, Paul Goodison, Pippa Wilson, Matt Cornwell  -152 points.

8th - Gazprom Team Russia (RUS) Igor Lisovenko, Paul Campbell-James, Alister Richardson, Pete Cumming, Aleksey Kulakov - 128 points.

9th - Oman Air (OMA) Rob Greenhalgh, Tom Johnson, Will Howden, Hashim Al Rashdi, Musab Al Hadi - 128 points.

10th - SAP Extreme Sailing Team (DEN) Jes Gram-Hansen, Rasmus Køstner, Thierry Douillard, Peter Wibroe, Nicolai Sehested - 126 points.

11th - Team Aberdeen Singapore (SIN) Nick Moloney, Adam Beashel, Scott Glen Sydney, Tom Dawson, Justin Wong - 82 points.

12th - GAC Pindar (AUS) Seve Jarvin, Troy Tindill, Ed Smyth, Sam Newton, Alexandra South - 59 points.

J.P. Morgan BAR - The British team skippered by Quadruple Olympic Gold and Silver medalist, Sir Ben Ainslie 

The Extreme Sailing Series 2014 moves on for Act 2 to Muscat, Oman on the 19th - 22nd March 2014, 
Act 3 - Qingdao, China - 1st - 4th May 2014, 
Act 4 - Saint Petersburg, Russia - 26th - 29th June 2014, 
Act 5 - Cardiff, UK - 22nd - 25th August 2014, 
Act 6 - Istanbul, Turkey - 11th - 14th September 2014, 
Act 7 - Mediterranean (host still to be confirmed) - 2nd - 5th October 2014 
and Act 8 - Sydney, Australia - 11th - 14th December 2014.

If you'll be in one of these locations over those dates do try and catch some of the action for yourself this year too! 

25 February 2014

Singapore Jazz Festival (Sing Jazz) 2014

This weekend sees the inaugural Singapore Jazz Festival 2014 hit our shores.

Over the four day festival which starts this Thursday, 27 February, featuring FIJI Water as the Official Artesian Water sponsor, you'll be able to enjoy memorable performances by multi-awarded international artistes such as James Morrison, Natalie Cole, the Earth, Wine & Fire Experience and many more! The four-day festival at Marina Bay Sands will showcase the creative essence of jazz at its most enduring - live and spontaneous - while at the same time acknowledging and embracing influences across other genres of music. For more information on the programme line-up, visit the official website, http://www.sing-jazz.com/.

Whilst there don't forget to make sure you keep yourself refreshed by drinking some FIJI Water, the Official Artesian Water sponsor for the festival.  I know I shall be!

Sing Jazz Festival 2014
Thursday, 27 February 2014 to Sunday, 2 March 2014
Time: 6.30pm onwards
Venue: Marina Bay Sands MasterCard Theatres

If you are interested in tickets they can be purchased from the Marina Bay Sands website directly as well as the Sistic website as detailed in the poster above.  There are also plenty of free performances across the four days so get down there and check those out!

Hope to see you there!

19 February 2014

Red Dot Roaming - Commonwealth MRT - Ancestral Temple of Ying Fo Fui Kun and the Yin Foh Kuan Cemetery

My last Red Dot Roaming saw me travelling to Commonwealth MRT station, somewhere I'd only passed through on the way to other places previously.  Whilst researching other Red Dot Roaming expeditions I'd stumbled across a couple of blogs that mentioned a temple and cemetery right in the midst of some HDB blocks which immediately caught my interest.  A little more research showed that this place was close to Commonwealth MRT station and so it instantly went on the list as a place to visit.  I realised that I'd actually noticed the cemetery as I passed through the station on numerous occasions but had not made the connection or realised how potentially interesting it might be until I delved a little deeper.

The temple is known as the Ancestral Temple of Ying Fo Fui Kun, also in the grounds is the Shaung Long Shan Wu Shu Ancestral Hall and the Yin Foh Kuan cemetery.  Most of the information I've found on the temple and cemetery has come from other blogs but I did eventually stumble across this website which includes information about the temple near Commonwealth MRT.  I'm amazed that the cemetery, in particular, has managed to survive despite modern Singapore being built up around it.  Consequently it makes for something of an unusual spot to visit, surrounded as it now is by HDB blocks and car show rooms.

Ancestral temples honour the dead, often those of a specific clan and are a place for the ancestral worship of these dead.  This temple, built in 1887, and the cemetery belongs to the Hakka clan association Ying Fo Fui Kun and was a burial place for people of Hakka descent.  I read that there were over three thousand gravestones in the original cemetery!  In the 1960s some of the land was taken for housing and asides from a handful of graves the remains of the majority of those buried in the original cemetery were cremated, relocated and placed in urns under the gravestones here.

I have to confess again to an interest in cemeteries (you may have guessed from previous posts about others I've visited in Singapore) and although I couldn't read any of the gravestones I was still fascinated by them.  The neat rows of gravestones were very different to what I'd witnessed at Bukit Brown cemetery or the Malay cemetery near Bugis and far more reminiscent of war cemeteries I've seen in Europe with the rows and rows of identical headstones.  As with any cemetery I've been to the place was quiet and peaceful despite being surrounded by homes.  I saw a couple of people in the distance walking around the edge of the cemetery from the HDB blocks and a caretaker in the grounds but my only other companion was an extremely friendly stray cat.

More typical, in style, of other Chinese gravestones I've seen in Singapore.

It was unexpectedly trickier to find (or at least to get into the temple and cemetery grounds) than I had anticipated though.  Before I left I, as usual, planned my route and worked out the short walk from the station to Commonwealth Lane where the temple is situated.  Commonwealth Lane has various office blocks and retail shops on it and at the end of it several car showrooms.  I could see the temple and buildings (recognisable from photos I'd seen on other blogs) just behind the car showrooms but couldn't figure out how to get into it from the road.  I felt a bit unsure about wandering through all the cars as I clearly wasn't planning on buying one and ended up wandering back and forth a couple of times trying to figure out where the entrance was.  In the end I asked the security guard at the nearby offices who was happy to help and told me to turn into the Commonwealth Car Mall at the end of the road and then turn immediately left.  Once I did that there in front of me was the entrance, easy when you know how!  So if you are planning a visit yourself look out for that car mall right at the end of the road.

It was a fascinating spot to visit and quite surreal being right in the middle of modern, urban Singapore.  If you are interested in reading more about this ancestral temple and cemetery I found the following blogs to be very informative and helpful in planning my own visit, poskod.sgThe Occasional Traveller and joyloh.com.  Other than these blogs (and others) and the temple website I did eventually find there seems to be very little information available online about this place.  Does anybody know anything more about it?  I'd love to hear from you if you do.

If you missed any of my previous Red Dot Roaming posts, check them out here and please get in touch if you know of somewhere you think I should be visiting.

Commonwealth MRT is on the East West line (EW20). 

16 February 2014

#worldcolors #worldcolours 2014 - February - Red - What does red mean to me?

February's colour for #worldcolors #worldcolours is red.  As red was one of last year's colours and I've already shared a lot of my red photos I knew I needed to approach this month from a slightly different angle.  So with that in mind I thought about what red means to me.

Red will always make me think of Christmas, of Father Christmas and tinsel, baubles and lights twinkling and catching the light.  Red is my favourite colour and is a warm and happy colour, thinking of Christmas makes me think of cold wintry nights, cozy warm fires and blankets.  Cold weather that just makes you want to put your most comfy clothes on, watch TV and stay indoors is something I still miss.  I'm not sure now (it's been just over three and a half years) that I'll ever really get used to living in a climate as permanently warm and unchangeable as Singapore's is.  Christmas time makes me feel that all the more and so much of what is Christmas for me just doesn't suit hot weather. 

Red also makes me think of the traditional things from home like red post boxes or telephone boxes.  Though both of these photos were actually taken in Singapore and red telephone boxes are increasingly rare now, these still serve as a little reminder of home.

Of course living in Singapore red now makes me think of Chinese New Year celebrations too.  Red is a very important colour during the Chinese New Year period and red decorations, lion dances and outfits are everywhere.

As I was thinking about what red meant to me I realised it makes me think of my husband too.  I think red is one of his favourite colours, he certainly wears it a lot and has lots of red polo shirts and t-shirts.

What does red mean to you?

If you missed any of my previous Worldcolours posts, check them out here

14 February 2014

Yusheng for Chinese New Year

Over the Chinese New Year holiday weekend I got the opportunity to do something I've never done before, the Yusheng!  Along with some good friends we had decided it would be fun to have a Chinese meal during the festivities and opted for the Royal China restaurant at Raffles hotel.  I've actually eaten there before but it was a long time ago and on that occasion we were dining on dim sum and if I'm honest I don't remember a great deal about it.  So I was looking forward to returning again.

This time instead of dim sum we opted for the a la carte menu and decided to also take the opportunity to celebrate the Chinese New Year with the Yusheng.  The yusheng is a part of the Chinese New Year celebrations associated predominantly with Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.  The contemporary version of this dish was actually created in the 1960s in Singapore as a symbol of prosperity and good health.  It is usually served as a fish salad mixed with shredded vegetables and various sauces but we opted for mango slices to replace the fish.  The end result was beautifully refreshing and very delicious.  

Shredded vegetables ready for the Yusheng ingredients to be added.

It is normally served as part of a multi-dish dinner, generally as the appetiser.  True to tradition our yusheng was brought out first and we had a waitress add the additional ingredients whilst reciting auspicious wishes.  The extra ingredients are, oil for prosperity of four seasons, plum sauce for the sweet circle of happy reunion, fish (in our case mango slices) for a year of everlasting surplus, lime for a golden harvest with good fortune, five spice and pepper for double happiness and health and crackers for blooming wealth and abundance.

mango slices and crackers ready to be added

Once everything has been added to the salad it's time for the fun part, the Lo Hei.  This is the bit where you stand up and get to join with your friends in tossing the salad as high as you can with your chopsticks.  Basically you are tossing it for good fortune in the coming year.  It's believed that the higher you toss the salad the greater your fortunes will be.  We all had great fun doing that and made quite a mess (see my photo below), lets just say I was glad I didn't have to clean it up after we'd finished.  After we had finished we then ate the salad, I was told that you are supposed to ensure it is all eaten to avoid losing any good fortune.  There was no chance of us leaving any though as it really was incredibly good.

All the ingredients added ready for the Lo Hei
The aftermath of the Lo Hei

As I mentioned we didn't just dine on the yusheng though and afterwards we shared several other dishes from the a la carte menu.  A few of which are in my photos below.  They were all very good and none of them lasted long.  A couple were so good that we ended up ordering more of them.  It really was a fun meal.

Sizchuan pork with chillies and peanuts

Korean style beef

Having the chance to joy in with a Lo Hei was not something I imagined I'd have the opportunity to do.  It was a great day and Royal China was an excellent place to have this experience.  Here's hoping for a great Year of the Horse!

Roasted soy sauce chicken

mushrooms, asparagus and ginko nuts

04 February 2014

The Year of the Horse at Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay is celebrating the Year of the Horse with an appropriately themed display in the Flower Dome at the moment.  We decided to visit last Friday, the first day of the New Year and a holiday in Singapore.  I have to say it was possibly the most crowded I've ever seen the dome and the gardens in general but as usual the flowers, which include cherry blossoms, chrysanthemums and camellias, to accompany the Year of the Horse display looked beautiful.

This latest themed display is actually the first in a series planned for 2014 at the Gardens entitled, 'Gardens by the Bay Goes Around the World'.  So keep an eye out for future events as the year progresses.  Alongside this and other themed displays the Flower Dome houses plants typical of the cool, dry climate of Mediterranean regions such as South Africa, California and parts of Spain and Italy.  The dome is home to a collection of plants from deserts all over the world and shows how plants adapt to these environments. 

I particularly loved the horse sculptures, below, that dominate the centre of the dome.  The sculptures were inspired by the Chinese painting of '100 Horses' painted by Giuseppe Castiglione (Lang Shining), an Italian Jesuit lay brother who served as a missionary in China where he became a painter at the court of the Emperor.  The actual painting shows a herd of one hundred horses out to pasture in Autumn in various poses including kneeling, standing, eating and running on grassland.  The artwork is preserved in the National Palace museum in Taipei.

Another lovely themed display to go and see.  The horse sculptures are definitely worth it, catch it soon if you can!

The Year of the Horse floral display is on now in the Flower Dome until the 16 February 2014.  The dome is open from 9am to 9pm daily.  Admission fees to the dome apply. 
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