31 May 2014

A Rendezvous under the Supertrees

This year Gardens by the Bay are hosting a series of floral displays to the theme of, 'Gardens by the Bay Goes around the World'.  So far displays have included the English themed, 'War of the Roses' and the Dutch themed, 'Tulipmania'.  The latest display is the French themed, 'French Faire' which is on now at the Flower Dome until 22 June 2014.

Alongside the main display in the Flower Dome the Gardens is also hosting a number of other events, many of them free, for visitors to enjoy.  Last Friday evening we went along to just one such event, a movie screening under the Supertree Grove.  Of course as the current theme is a French theme the movie night also had a French theme to it with the screening of the animated movie, Je Jour des Corneilles (The Day of the Crows).

Watching the movie underneath the Supertrees

The movie was in French with English subtitles (the voice over actors included Jean Reno) and told the story of the love between a father and his son.  Without giving too much away the boy lives with his father in the forest and, prevented by his father from exploring beyond the forest boundaries he grows up wild and ignorant of the way of men.  Events eventually force him to go to the village and this marks a turning point in his life.  I won't say any more about the movie in case you want to see it for yourself but it was a nice, family friendly film and just right for the occasion. 

Luckily although it had rained quite heavily during the day by the evening it had stopped and despite the grass still being fairly damp and me managing to step in a large puddle just as we arrived it did not spoil our evening.  We, and many others watching of all ages, took along picnics and thoroughly enjoyed our evening under the Supertrees.

The movie ended just in time for us to then catch the second showing of the nightly OCBC Garden Rhapsody which, by the way, is free to view.  The music and light show takes you on a journey through the rainforests of Australasia and Oceania.  I'd not seen this previously but it was a lovely way to finish off our evening.  It certainly provided one of those 'wow' moments as the trees changed colour to the music with Marina Bay Sands and the CBD providing an amazing backdrop to the show.

There are regular events on at the Gardens for all the family, check out Gardens by the Bay website for further details.  

'French Faire' is on now until 22 June 2014 at the Flower Dome.  The dome is open from 9am to 9pm daily, admission charges apply.

27 May 2014

Neo Tiew - An Abandoned HDB Estate

Yet again I'm playing catch up as this was something I actually did a long time ago but am only just managing to post.  I'd heard (and read) a little bit previously about an abandoned HDB estate in Singapore.  I've always been interested in abandoned buildings and despite Singapore's willingness to continually develop there are surprisingly quite a few dotted around.  Though many aren't easily accessible (if at all) or at least, in some cases, I don't fancy trying to get to them.  I therefore assumed this place was probably in the same category of incredibly difficult to get too and it was only when I stumbled across this list of things to do in Singapore before you die (number 40 on the list by the way) that myself and a friend figured it might actually be a possibility.

Although Singapore isn't exactly big I admit that sometimes places seem a long way away but getting here definitely wins the prize for the longest journey I've done I'm sure.  By the time we got there we seemed to have been on various buses all day and had gradually left behind condos, HDB estates and their communities for a landscape of various huge graveyards and military bases.  It was another reminder that if you know where to look for it there is still a lot of open space in Singapore.  By the time we got off our last bus most of our fellow passengers were servicemen (we were certainly the only women on board) and we no doubt looked as if we'd got hopelessly lost somehow!  Despite appearances though we were exactly where we wanted to be and heading to the abandoned estate.

The buildings appear to have had a lick of paint when compared to photos on other blog posts

Neo Tiew Road where the estate is located was named after Mr Neo Tiew (1883 - 1975) in recognition of his contributions towards developing the Lim Chu Kang village.  He led workers to clear the forested areas nearby, paved roads, built workers quarters, grew coconut trees and developed pineapple, pig and poultry farms.  He also set up the first mini-mart in the area to ensure a constant supply of daily necessities for  the workers.  Later he also helped to develop a school and a delivery hospital too.

The estate was built in 1979 and closed in 2002 with the residents moved to Jurong West.  The abandoned flats are accompanied by a wet market and a playground and somehow it is one of those left behind places in Singapore that has managed to survive.  I guess this may have something to do with the fact that the armed forces now use it for practice exercises at times.  I've since learnt that the estate was also known as Lim Chu Kang Rural Centre.  Apparently a number of HDB estates from this period were known as such because they housed relocated farmers who were then allowed to continue their farming activities.  This was phased out shortly afterwards as Singaporeans were encouraged to take up non-agricultural jobs instead.

The estate playground through the fence

In many of the photos I'd seen of the place the buildings look as I imagine an abandoned building would do, a little run down and in need of some TLC.  When we arrived it was somewhat surprising then to see that the buildings appeared to have been painted and spruced up.  They certainly didn't look like they haven't been lived in since 2002.  Similarly, and in contrast to the posts I'd read where people had managed to explore the interior of the buildings, the whole area now seemed to be securely fenced off with plenty of signs warning you to keep out.  I had got the impression from other posts that it was accessible when not being used for military exercises.  This though did not look to be the case any more and as a result neither of us were going to do anything more than look at it from the outside of the perimeter fence.  We wandered around trying to soak up a little of the place through the fencing and taking photos, before heading back.

I have to admit this was a little disappointing given our epic (by Singapore standards) journey to get there.  Remember if you decide to visit here you may only be able to view it through the fence and there really is nothing else around, apart from a convenient bus stop to take you back again, so make sure you take water with you at least.  Nonetheless though it was still a fun day and I got to see a part of Singapore I'd not visited before.  I also noticed plenty of other little things that looked interesting in the general area which hopefully at some point I'll be able to get back to and investigate further.

As I mentioned I visited the Neo Tiew estate with a friend and fellow blogger.  You can read her account of our visit on her blog here.  I also found the following blog posts useful and informative whilst looking for information about this area.

Remember Singapore - Neo Tiew Estate

Explore! - Neo Tiew - Abandoned Housing Estate

Vincent's Travel Journal - Neo Tiew HDB

Singapore: Lost & Filed - Kranji Heritage Trail (part 1)

The Neo Tiew area is included as part of the Kranji Heritage Trail which was launched in 2011 and covers several historical and agricultural places of interest in the Kranji area. Have a look at their useful website here for more details of what else you can see and visit in this part of Singapore.

19 May 2014

#worldcolors #worldcolours - April - Yellow - what does yellow mean to me?

April's colour was yellow and I am officially very late in getting this posted as we are now well into May!  Life has been incredibly busy just lately with lots of travel (more to come soon) and other things happening.  Anyway as yellow featured last year I've taken the approach once again of thinking about what I associate with the colour yellow.  For me yellow sums up sunrises, sunsets and flowers, here are just a few of my photos.

Flower Dome - Gardens by the Bay
National Orchid Garden
Sunset over Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Sentosa Flower Festival 2012
Sunrise over the Costa del Sol, Spain
Flowers in Little India, Singapore

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