Sunday, May 31, 2009

black and white colonial house

Singapore's colonial legacy includes black-and-white houses set amidst lush greenery and there're pockets of these in different parts of our island. These bungalows are so called because of black painted timbers and white washed walls. They were used by colonial administrators and military and senior business personnel. Typically they are designed with high ceiling with whirling ceiling fans, shaded verandahs and installed with black and white striped bamboo blinds to keep cool in the tropical heat, in those days before air-conditioning. Notice they are raised on pillars, like local kampung houses, to forestall any floods. These houses are still being occupied by tenants.

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Boat Quay

The gorgeous city skyline of Singapore, with Boat Quay shophouses and modern buildings lining the south bank of the Singapore River. In contrast, the north bank is lined with colonial buildings, and was where Sir Stamford Raffles first landed in Singapore and made the island his colonial outpost in the East.

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Indian feast

The good thing about Singapore's cultural diversity is that we get to pamper our tastebuds with different cuisines. We had an Indian buffet with our friends, Uma and Eric yesterday evening at their lovely condo up in Bukit Timah. There's the dried sambal version of mutton (left) and the centrepiece, the butter chicken, with briyani (saffron rice) with mutton chunks in it, and two versions of naan, garlic or fruit (cherry bits), and papadoom (the Indian crackers), set up buffet style on their long kitchen counter.
Here you see the food heaped onto my plate. My first bite of the butter chicken with naan was pure ambrosia. Above the butter chicken curry is a brinjal concoction. So there you have it, an Indian feast. Drool!

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Great Singapore Sale

The Great Singapore Sale started yesterday. This picture of an umbrella art installation outside Robinson's sale window at Raffles City reminds we need to save cash, for a rainy day, like now. In the same breath, it's saying, this is the best time to value buy. Who can resist price-slashing discounts on designer brands? Ok, but is it a need or want? You go figure.

Club 21 sale, anyone?

Raffles Place

The futuristic UOB Plaza One (designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange) which is owned by the United Overseas Bank is the tallest building in Raffles Place standing at 270 metres and 67 floors.
This neo-classical facade is the entrance to the Raffles underground train station and is a colonial legacy in stark contrast to the gleaming skyscrapers surrounding it. This is Singapore's central business district so the sky is dominated by these super tall buildings inhabited by banks, MNCs and commercial institutions.
A far view of the entrance. The unassuming rectangular block just next to it is Change Alley, a relic of past times. Singaporeans of the post war generation will remember fondly the commercial hub it was back when it was an important downtown building at the heart of the financial district, linked by a bridge, a thoroughfare to the old Clifford Pier. As part of that legacy, you can still find Indian money changers here.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

S is for sunbird

Tweet, tweet. It's a sunbird perched upside down outside our window.
The little fellow stood there for five minutes or so earlier this evening. It's waiting to be invited in. No, sunbird, please build your nest elsewhere.
Singapore is home to 367 bird species, both resident and migrant species and the olive-backed sunbird is one of the common species.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

chinatown, Singapore

The colourful painted facade of traditional shophouses in Chinatown, Singapore. Shophouses, as the term suggests, were used traditionally as a shop on the ground floor and as residence on the upper storeys. There are different styles of shophouses, from the squat, two storey early style to the ornamental late style which may incorporate eclectic elements. Nowadays shophouses have been converted to eateries, spas, offices, but some old shophouses are still with their original owner and kept to its original purpose. However, increasingly these shophouses are being bought by new owners and converted to commercial use.
Singapore is a country of religious diversity. Above picture shows the Jamae mosque side by side with traditional shophouses. The mosque dates to the 1830s and it is a fusion of Chinese, Anglo-Indian and Malay architectural styles.

Here, you see the shophouses being dwarfed by towering skyscrapers.

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