Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Clarke Quay

Clarke Quay, a riverfront development, in recent years, is coming back to life, thanks in part to the fairly new mall, Central (on left). It has the usual same old mix of tenants and a hodge podge of restaurants although its ads position itself as Japanese themed. Not so true as far as I can see. Note the steel crane-like structure on the right called Extreme Swing (more of that later). If you continue walking like the folks in the picture, you'll come to...
this row of pastel shophouses with alfresco dining under big umbrellas lining the walkway.

Continue walking and you see even bigger umbrellas...

Here's an aerial view. Those umbrellas are part of British architect Will Alsop's sophisticated shading/cooling system and the result of a lavish makeover of Clarke Quay a few years ago. Aerial photograph from
I leave you entertained with a video of Extreme Swing..

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Toa Payoh

Toa Payoh is one of the oldest public residential estates in Singapore. It is so called a 'matured estate' and has undergone upgrading to refresh the estate, part of the government's ongoing plans to rejuvenate older estates. This clock tower was a feature added during upgrading.See how it oddly tries to blend in with the open corridors with hanging laundry of the block of flats behind it. You'd be interested to know that HRM Queen Elizabeth II visited a resident in this block as part of her tour of Singapore a few years ago. Furthermore it was a return visit, the earlier one being maybe 20 years earlier...No kidding, check the poem extract below!

This is an iconic housing block in Toa Payoh, according to our guide. One of the first blocks there. I took these pictures while I was on a heritage trail to Toa Payoh earlier this month.

The guide (in white T-shirt, centre) is an independent niche bookseller, ie. owner of Books Actually, which niches in literature books. He grew up in Toa Payoh. Well, he read a poem titled "A Brief History of Toa Payoh" written by a former journalist in this hot spot. In case you're wondering why trail participants are carrying umbrellas!

I'll quote a bit from the poem: "...the pride and self-sufficiency /of early settlers /eclipsed: /town centre, bus termini, the first SEAP Games, /the emporium's sacks of fragrant rice, /children's playgrounds, the garden's lake and tower, /the Queen's lookout /excite no more/and the children of Toa Payoh/are the mothers and fathers/of Woodlands, Pasir Ris,/distant orbits of the new satellites..."

Well, Woodlands and Pasir Ris are the newer satellite residential estates, further away from town. And yea, the children now all grown up are living in the newer estates because prices in the older housing estates have skyrocketed..

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Singapore Flyer

A picture of the Singapore Flyer snapped from the highway. Funnily enough, a giant ferris wheel could alter our urban landscape. It's so eye-catching. I've not gone up on it yet (fear, unnecessary risk, blah..) but maybe the whim will catch up with me sooner or later. Like the London Eye, it features exo-capsules attached outward to the wheel structure and one rotational trip lasts about 30 minutes. I think maybe a night ride will be a more glittering experience. From its perch on Marina Promenade, you'll overlook the deep blue sea and catch a panoramic view of the spectacular city skyline.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wheelock Place

A favourite hangout, perfectly civilised. Wheelock Place in Orchard Road, Singapore, houses Borders, Marks and Spencers, fine dining restaurants and high end retail and wellness outlets.

Here's a clearer view of the skylight of its conical glass pyramid structure.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Singapore Science Centre

Some of the exhibits in the Singapore Science Centre, a permanent exhibition space dedicated to science and technology.
The Kinetics Garden has a variety of hands on exhibits illustrating kinetic principles.

Waterworks, a play zone.
The atrium is like a central pod which leads you to the different zones, with interactive hands on exhibits that explain scientific principles.

An animated dinosaur greets visitors at the entrance and provides a photo opportunity.

Sea Monsters billboard. Sea Monsters is a one of three movies screened at the Omnitheatre, one of the highlights of your visit. The 360 degrees screen envelopes your senses with crystal clear images using IMAX technology. The movie is a prehistoric adventure immersing you in a mysterious ocean world and introduces you to amazing paleontological digs around the globe to uncover the science behind the unexplored marine world of the “other dinosaurs”.

An exhibition on the science and art of Leonardo da Vinci, the Renaissance artist who was also interested in the sciences. His studies of human anatomy, engineering, mathematics etc is documented. His memorable works of genius were his paintings of Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, amongst others. Above shows Leonardo's drawing of the Vitruvian Man. Photography isn't allowed inside so I couldn't show more. This travelling exhibition ends 16 August 2009.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gillman Village, Alexandra

A Brazilian restaurant called Brazil Churrasco (a meat buffet where different types of meat are brought to your table) is a cool hideaway in this green pocket called Gillman Village that has a sleepy colonial charm. Official address: 5 Lock Road, Gillman Village.
An Indonesian teak chair left to the elements on a rooftop. Below, in the building next to it, is an Indonesian teak furniture shop. The old world teak furniture are reasonably priced alternatives to modern furniture and quite popular with both locals and expatriates.
An old steel footbridge leading to Gillman Village, a little enclave of greenery in central Singapore.
Gateway to Villa Frangipani, a bar and restaurant that recreates a Balinese setting and ambience.
This building (currently a food court) in Gillman Village is a colonial legacy and was also a former army barracks of Singapore's armed forces. In 1942, allied soldiers fought off a Japanese division on this site.
Final glance at Villa Frangipani's lush garden setting. This was where where I took pictures of flowers in yesterday's post.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Alpinia and orchid

The orchid and alpinia flower flourishing in a lush garden setting somewhere in Singapore. I'll show more pictures of this destination in tomorrow's post.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

ION Orchard

ION Orchard is the newest shopping mall in the Orchard Road shopping belt in Singapore, slated to open in July 2009. The picture I took yesterday shows it in the final stages of construction. Its 117-metre frontage will feature larger-than-life screens to showcase retail brands, live global events and other multimedia events.

The pagoda shaped Marriot Hotel on the left is an Orientalist contrast to the modernist architecture of ION Orchard.

A closer look at the shimmering curves and jewelled surfaces of this sparkling eight floor mall. The building will also contain another 48 floors housing 175 high end apartments called Orchard Residences.

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Girly pink in shopping malls

My post today is dedicated to GIRLY PINK THINGS spotted in Singapore's shopping malls.

First up, a metallic pink Barbie car in the atrium of Ngee Ann City shopping mall in Orchard Road. A real sized car occupied by a mob of Barbie dolls...

Minnie Mouse pink stove and ATM machine providing eye candy in Causeway Point shopping mall up in the suburban North.

My eyes popped, looking on the shelves of girls' sandals displayed at the Japanese departmental store, Isetan, at Shaw House, Orchard Road, and every pair is, without exception, pink.

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British street names

It tickles me no end reading street signs like these in Singapore. What, are we in good ole England? Nope, they point to streets in tropical Singapore. Just signs of us being a British colony, along with those black and white houses that are another British legacy.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beaulieu House

It's a colonial house that's up on a hillock...
Facade of the Beaulieu House, first built as a seaside house in 1910 for a David family. Then erstwhile house of Admiral Layton, the most senior British Naval Officer in Singapore, from 1940 to 1942, who was known to host tennis parties near the house. Postwar, Senior Fleet Officers like the Chief of Staff resided here, who returned the salute to passing ships at the Sembawang Jetty just in front of the house. The building has been gazetted for conservation and now serves as a laidback seaside restaurant.

Close up view of wrought iron decorative balustrade.

Here, you see it is nestled amidst the Sembawang Park, next to the Sembawang beach. Sembawang was the site of a formal British naval base which opened in 1938. During the war, the Japanese used the naval base to repair their ships. From 1968 the base was converted for use as the Sembawang Shipyard.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Yue Hwa Chinese emporium

The building on the right is the Yue Hwa Chinese Emporium in Chinatown. It's beside The Majestic building (I blogged about that building earlier so you may read if you wish). Its merchandise are all Chinese products including ointment, an assortment of Chinese tea leaves, Chinese wines, Chinese embroidery, etc. Frankly Chinese emporiums have become quite rare and arcane and seem to be going the way of the dinosaur, since the draw is to contemporary, swanky Western brands. So a trip to Yue Hwa is either a touristy or a nostalgic jaunt for Chinese souvenirs.
Its history is something to crow about. Built in 1936, it was formerly the Great Southern Hotel, a magnet for Chinese tycoons who kept mistresses. It served as a brothel and opium den. Then the tallest Chinese-run hotel and the first to be outfitted with a lift, it was the place to party for the Chinese upper classes.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

National Library

Singapore's National Library, a repository of books in the heart of the city, on Victoria Street.
The flagpole flying our national flag rises skyward along with the cantilevered facade. Looking up from another angle. The building comprises two blocks linked by skybridges. There is a viewing pod on the top 16th storey and a public garden on the 5th storey.
A far view taking in one side of its modern architecture. The building, which opened in 2005, is a far cry from the red-bricked building that was the old National Library at Stamford Road which left sentimental memories. Times are always a changing in fast paced Singapore.
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Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Majestic

The facade of the Majestic building on Eu Tong Sen Street, Chinatown, is decorated with the tiled scenes from Cantonese opera and the colourful mosaics of flying dragons.

It has a most colourful history. A former Cantonese opera house built in 1928 by Eu Tong Sen, a tin mining and rubber magnate, for his wife who was a Cantonese opera fan. It operated as a venue for Cantonese opera till 1938. Renamed the Queen's Theatre by The Shaw Brothers, it then screened Cantonese blockbuster movies. During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, it was used to screen Japanese propaganda films. After the war, it was renamed Majestic Theatre. In 1956, it was bought over from the Eu family by the late Dato Loke Wan Tho of Cathay Organisation. The theatre screened Chinese films until 1998 when it was closed. In 2003, it shed its past function and became a three-storey shopping mall and was renamed "The Majestic".

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

long bar, this way please

Step this way, to the Long Bar at the iconic Raffles Hotel. Haven't stepped in there really, heard about the peanut shells scattered all over its floor in the good ole days. Maybe they cleaned up leaving some tokenly strewn ones? Two storey bar, inspired by Malayan plantations of the 1920s, home to the (hic!) Singapore Sling, a pink cocktail originally meant for ladies, first concocted by a Hainanese bartender in 1915.

The bar serves up your favourite thirst quencher, alcoholic or not, and traditional pub fare, in the form of a meal or snacks. Cash to spare? Step into this historic bar and pocket some memories during a Singapore stopover.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve

A flock of egrets nesting at Sungei Buloh, Singapore's first and only wetland reserve. The park is a seasonal stopover for migratory birds. It is home to some 126 bird species including sandpipers, plovers, herons, kingfishers and sunbirds.
As you walk on the boardwalks, you can see mudflats and mangroves with their distinctive aerial roots as seen here.
Found! A rustic spot for a picture.
A signboard outlining the species of fishes that swim in the waters here.
A specially constructed tower which offers a bird's eye view of the green and watery surroundings.
One of the views offered at the park. Look closely at the edge of the water and you see one of the resident denizens.
Here's the closeup view of the prehistoric looking reptile, known as a monitor lizard.

If you want to read more including how to get there, here's the official website

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