July 30, 2008

inSingapore: NLB’s Sungei Road Heritage Trail

Posted in Travel and Culture tagged , , , , , , , , at 2:32 pm by myrlinn

Last Saturday (July 26th), the National Library Board organised a programme they call AsPI Heritage Down Memory Lane. I’ve been in Singapore many years, but I really haven’t explored the city that much, so it was a good opportunity for me. Plus, I’ve always loved heritage trails and walking tours, so when I read about the visit to Sungei Road,  I had to sign up!

As usual, I’m way too lazy to go into a long story. So I’ll just mention some of the highlights, and what connected with me on a personal level:

Second-hand dealer

Our first stop: “shop” off Upper Weld Road to visit a second-hand dealer, Mr Tan (pictured below with a truncheon).

He was waiting for us at the “entrance” to his shop (actually the back door of a shop house). There were a few containers of old things at his feet. Typical junk shop things — old jewellery, coin-boxes, tins, photographs, household items, etc. He showed a few trays he said belonged to the family of the late Mr Lim Boon Keng.  Inside, it was chock-a-block with old and not-so-old stuff. My brother was fascinated with the old copies of the New Statesman we found piled on a table. The table fan shown below brought back nostalgic memories of when I was young. We used fans like this one – with its cream body and green blades – many years ago.



Cobbler

Next stop: Mr Lam, the cobbler. Mr Lam is probably one of Singapore’s oldest roadside cobblers. He can be found plying his trade beside Rochor Canal Road. A lovely man, ever ready to answer questions. While we were there, a caucasian came by with a pair of shoes. Turned out Mr Lam had previously done some work for him and he had come back with another pair of shoes.

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Sungei Road Flea Market

Just before we were given some time to wander the Sungei Road flea market on our own, Joe Mureno (I hope I got the spelling right) who used to live in the Sungei Road area regaled us with his memories of the area. The part that really touched me: Picturing little boys going there every day to check out the happenings at the ice house which used to be there.  I can just see them staring in fascination by ice being broken into blocks and then sold to customers. So evocative of innocence, though from what Joe said, those same boys were also the same rascals who “collected” things like Jaguar figures off cars to sell!

Sungei Road flea market or thieves’ market itself is a rather haphazard collection of stalls manned mainly by men, quite a few of them rather rough-looking. What’s appealing about the market, to my eye, is that it hasn’t been made appealing. No fancy displays, just stuff laid out on sheets. You’ll have to have a very good eye indeed to spot good stuff among all the junk, but that’s part of the fun of going there. That, and the bargaining.

Need to say this:

Thumbs up to the National Library staff for all the hard work they put into the event — arranging talks, lunch, coffee and activities. And what I most appreciate: that they really made an effort to go round saying hi to the participants, chatting a little with them.

More info on Sungei Road:

And, because I haven’t really provided much info here, here are a few links for those who want to know more about the Sungei Road market:

Singapore Infopedia – Sungei Road

Wikipedia – Sungei Road

Singaporesights.com- Sungei Road

Interesting Flea Market in Singapore – Sungei Road ‘Thieves Market’

AsiaOne.com – Thieves’ market now pirates’ market? – News story on the selling of pirated CDs and DVDs at the market. Obviously a popular item there, as I saw quite a few vendors selling them when I went last Saturday.

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inSingapore: Singapore Garden Festival 2008

Posted in Travel and Culture tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:01 pm by myrlinn

Quick thoughts on the Singapore Garden Festival. Won’t go into a long story since much has been reported about it in the newspapers already.

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OVERALL IMPRESSION:

Was the show AMAZING? No.

Was it worth going to see? YES.

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NOTEWORTHY PIECES:

Kayuzi Ishihara’s Ryokuru Tei “The Green Breeze” (Landscape Gardens). Love the use of moss on the walls of the “hideaway”

Peter Cheok’s Seeking Shangri-la (Fantasy Gardens).  This underwater fantasy piece really does seem magical.

John Cullen’s Rose of Glendalough (Fantasy Gardens). I’ve always loved ruins and the natural, wild look.

Ng Sek San’s The ModGod Garden (Fantasy Gardens). The wall of of plants which form the features of Marilyn Monroe is a definite show-stopper. The other wall, Mao Zedong, doesn’t work as well, though.

Caroline Loo’s Theatre (Floral Windows to the World). I thought this one really blended together the traditional and the modernist very well through its colours, shapes and lines.

Jin Young Park’s The Inner Door in Our Mind (Floral Windows to the World). This piece is spectacular, making good use of concentric shapes to depict doors going further and further inside.

Cindy Chao’s Four Seasons (Floral Windows to the World). Beautiful outside wall with circular discs made of different materials, and a wonderful pillar of jasmine flowers.

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MY FAVOURITE:

Both my mum and I agreed that we love this one. The pictures below don’t do justice to it, but this silvery  field of giant flowers was really pretty. This is an example of an execution of concept which really works. And also an instance of minimalism with a lot of charm.

Section: Floral Windows to the World
Title: W01 Naivism Meets Minimalism

Designer: Tor Gundersen (Norway)
Concept: Inspired by Norwegian fairy tales, this display uses the form and movement of flowers together with botanical flowers to evoke a sense of the whimsical. The spontaneous placement gives the work a naive and natural look while its minimalist aspect is reflected in the reduction of colour.

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And I just have to mention that I’m in awe of the tremendous amount of work that must be involved in bringing in all the flowers and setting up the landscapes and floral displays for the Garden Festival. And the daily maintenance required. Here’s just one example – this person is replacing the flowers one by one in this display:

July 25, 2008

AdNotes: Billboard in a not-so-expected place

Posted in Musings tagged , , , , , at 9:46 am by myrlinn

Good idea, this, turning the spaces between ATM kiosks into a giant billboard, like at this busy cluster of ATMs at IMM Jurong East. And this particular one is done tastefully, using a fashion concept and simple copy to give a classier look to the place.

Not too sure how effective it is from a marketing point of view, since it’s almost like wallpaper (and thus people may not really notice it). But from a more general communication point of view, I like it. Presents a professional, modern image for the bank.

ATM Kiosk at IMM Jurong East

ATM Kiosk at IMM Jurong East

But… ever get the uncomfortable feeling that one day every surface might be covered with advertising???

July 23, 2008

Clay Aiken’s UNICEF field trip blog #3 : Kenya

Posted in Musings tagged , , , , at 7:51 am by myrlinn

Clay Aiken calls for Kenya’s kids to return to school


Turns out Clay visited Kenya as well as Somalia on his recent field trip for UNICEF. His blog details the plight of displaced children there. Many schools have been destroyed, so it’s quite a task getting children back to schools.

Clay writes:

Although many schools were re-opened, far fewer children are turning up for class than before. And classes are taking place in schools that have been completely destroyed. I saw children sitting on rocks and bricks—which used to make up the foundations and roofs of their schools—using them now as desks and chairs.

Fortunately, this was not the situation everywhere. In most IDP camps, UNICEF has provided classroom tents and School-in-a-Box kits, along with teaching and learning materials, and even desks and chairs.

(Source: UNICEF Fieldnotes blog – link to complete blog here)

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