Applecross & New Norcia

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28 Aug 2009 – Serene Surroundings

Arrived into PER with clear blue sky and was met by PP at the airport. So good to see her in good spirits. Her new role as a grandmother is not an easy one, especially after her fall and surgery. Peggy & Ian live in a beautiful mansion in Applecross, a serene suburbs of PER. There are avocado lemon, mango and olive trees by a pool house and a swimming pool. Such a treat to be here.

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New Norcia is the only monastic town in Australia, 132km/82m north of Perth. In 1846, a Benedictine mission was started and within a year the mission was moved to where the town is today with Spanish style architecture and some historical sites. Among these are the two old boarding schools, St Ildephonsus’ and St Gertrude’s (both now used for accommodation and various social functions), the Abbey Church (containing the tomb of Rosendo Salvado), an old mill, a wine press, a hotel, and the monastery itself.  The Benedictine monks continue to occupy the town.

PP was shocked when KK&I told her how he was only allowed cold showers in his boarding school days in Sydney and I was allowed to bath only once a week in my boarding school in Dublin! Our Aussie guide, Richard was excellent and it was a delightful day with my two childhood friends in spite of the rain. Looking forward to heading south for Margaret River’s wine yards tomorrow.

Besides, I think that when one has been through a boarding school, especially then, you have some resistance, because it was both fine comradeship and a fairly hard training – Arne Jacobson

1st SIN Skyscraper

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25 Aug 2009 – Cathay Building & It’s Neighbour!

1st SIN skyscraper was built in 1939 and for 15 years it was SIN biggest building which stood 83.5m high with 17 storey. The Four Feather was the first movie screened in its 1,300-seat cinema. In the 1950s, my parents and I, the Kwoks and Leungs gathered at the Chinese restaurant for Sunday push-cart dim sum lunches and watched the floor-shows. Movies like The Man Who Knew Too Much staring James Steward bring back fond memories, and even up to now the text from the song still lingers…que sara sara, whatever will be will be, the future’s not ours to see, que sara sara. The days of innocence when Kenson KWOK & Peggy LEUNG became my first childhood friends. Today, Kenson & I will be flying to Perth visiting Peggy who recently had heart surgery.

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The art-deco style façade of the building is preserved because of its historical importance, while the rest of the building is redeveloped. The Cathay now houses the Cathay Gallery & Residences, 8 cinemas, beauty & wellness centers, boutique shopping, fine and food court dining etc… The gallery tells the story of LOKE Wan Tho, his family and the Cathay Organisation. Besides documenting the film heritage, there are art works from the Loke’s collection who was also an avid photographer and naturalist. Sadly he died in an air crash in 1964, two years after my friend, Winnie LEE’s parents and her 2 sisters who also died in an air crash in 1962.

In the 1950s & 60s, there was a music shop across the road from Cathay (by the traffic lights where a beautiful tree now stands and hopefully will still stand till the end of my days!), Keller & Co. The property was owned by the LAM family until it was reprocessed by the state, as they did with 5 Temenggong Road.

We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future – George Bernard Shaw

Convention, Fair & Show

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21 Aug 2009 – Suntec Convention Centre

The Toys, Games & Comics Convention plus the Travel Fair was held over the weekend. Star Trek’s R2-D2 and a light saber are on top of my wish list 🙂 Otherwise there was really nothing there for me. The crowd at the travel fair was more than I could handle! Thank goodness the convention and fair were located on different floors, and having a phobic for crowds was a good enough reason to keep away from the travel fair in spite of my globe-trotting life!

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Today is the last day for the Gift & Stationary Show which is more my interest. Have been trying to source out merchandise for a new formed company and finally this show had everything in my mind. Was absolutely thrilled and excited about the vendors, especially the special paper products and the hand-made orchid candles presented in tasteful Thai-silk boxes. Looks like there will be some traveling to Thailand before the year is out.

This is the first convention of the space age, where a candidate can promise the moon and mean it – David Brinkley

Movie Buff

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17 Aug 2009 – May HALD’s Master thesis

The best of luck with all my fingers crossed for May, my second daughter who will be defending her Master’s thesis on Sustainable Urban Development and Chinese Eco-City: Strategies, Policies and Assessments today in Oslo, Norway.

 http://www.fni.no/publ/china.html#chinese_eco-city 

Sustainable Urban Development and
the Chinese Eco-City
Concepts, Strategies, Policies and Assessmentsin Oslo, Norway today.  All my fingers are crossed for her.                 

Being a movie buff and watching them is part of my life. A Swedish Love Story from 1970 by Roy Andersson (World Cinema Series) and the first weekend of SIN 6th Short Cuts were featured at the National Museum (built 1887 also known as the Raffles Library in 1925). The Cinemathque screenings, especially the Scandinavian ones are not your usual Hollywood type and one has to be in another mind frame to appreciate them. The reality of the darker satire of life can sometimes be too philosophical for light-hearted entertainment.

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Memories of the museum from the 1950s when there was no air conditioning are fading fast. After a major renovation and make-over (completed 2006), the museum is cool and vibrant today. Retaining the colonial front facade but bringing this grand building up to date has been tastefully done and the result gives much pleasure to all my visits.

The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder –  Alfred Hitchcock

The Curry Murder

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13 Aug 2009 – History Happenings

Dec 1984:  an Indian caretaker aged 38 was reported missing. Jan 1987: police received a tip off. Mar 1987: his widow and 3 of her brothers appeared in court to face murder charges but were later released for lack of proof. 

Known as an unrepentant wife-beater, he was a father of 3 who worked as a caretaker in Changi and his wife worked as the caretaker at the Orchard Road Presbyterian Church. Her immediate family were tired of his violence. Determined to put an end to his violence, the family hatched a deceitful plan. They arranged to meet him at the quarters of the church, where he was repeatedly bludgeoned to death.

To destroy all traces of incriminating evidence, his body was then chopped up into pieces. The body parts were then cooked into a curry which was later tied in different plastic bags to be disposed (or otherwise??) all over the island to allay suspicions. Apart from what investigations revealed, the prosecution was unable to prove that it was indeed the family members who caused his death. The cooking pot in which his body parts were allegedly cooked could not be found, leaving no traces of the savage act.

Whenever passing by the location, my mind does wonder what actually happened in the caretaker’s lodge Dec 1984? And why waste curry spices if the intentions were only for disposing??

Countries and states which have capital punishment have a much higher rate of murder and crime than countries that do not, so that makes sense to me, and the moral question… I struggle with it morally  –  Charlize Theron

Fireworks

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10 Aug 2009 – Explosively Beautiful

The oohs and wows from the fireworks are the only expressions necessary. Fireworks which were originally invented in China around the 12th century to scare away evil spirits, never fail to get me childishly excited; congratulations to the NDP organisers for setting up such a spectacular display. Thank you to Leslie & Ivy for another wonderful evening. To Angelique Leon & Paul Quek, appreciation for driving me home and for staying to chat. 

I often use the word JOY when describing fireworks. It is a considered word, deliberate in choice.  Not just amusement, entertainment, astonishment, but joy.  Our art makes us all into children again for a while.  We become one in our experience for the moment; lost in the sound and color and light. We see large forces, stronger than we could ever be, yet beautiful in their effects.  Sometimes violent, sometimes restrained.  Delicate beyond imagination at times, coarse and rude at others – Bill Withrow

Singapore’s National Day

9 Aug 2009 – National Day Parade NDP

NDP, 国庆庆典-Chinese, Perbarisan Hari Kebangsaan- Malay, தேசிய தின அணிவகுப்பு-Tamil in the 4 official languages here. SIN celebrated its first National Day in 1966, one year after independence from Malaysia, 9 August 1965. That same year 1965 was when my mother died and I was sent to boarding school in Dublin, ie 44 years ago! Over the years the NDP has become the biggest national event here. This year is on a Sun, thus a public holiday tomorrow. Have requested from one of the organisers to borrow the NDP DVD as I have yet to see a complete parade. Thanks to Leslie & Ivy, have been invited to the Bacchus Boat House/Waterboat House across from the Fullerton Hotel, and will be watching the fireworks from there. Looking forward to that.

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The Padang and the National Stadium have been the venues until 2 years ago. The Marine Bay Floating Platform/Stadium is the world’s first and largest floating stage. The platform can bear up to 1,070 tonnes, equivalent to the total weight of 9,000 people, 200 tonnes of stage props and three 30-tonne military vehicles. The gallery at the stadium has a seating capacity of 30,000 people. The first major event that was held  on this platform was the NDP August 2007.

Today the NDP will again take place on this platform, Happy 44th Birthday SIN.

The Malay lyrics to the national anthem, Majulah Singapura (Onward Singapore) was written in 1958 by the late Mr Zubir Said and was presented to the nation in 1959, the year SIN became a self-governing state. When Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong was Prime Minister, the issue that the national anthem is in Malay and many do not understand Malay was discussed. It was decided that it should be kept as it was, while ensuring that its translations in the other official languages were more easily available. Am glad about the decision… as I have learnt it since I was 9 years young!

Majulah Singapura 

Mari kita ra’yat
Singapura sama sama menuju Bahagia.
Cita cita kita yang mulia
Berjaya Singapura!
Marilah kita bersatu,
Dengan semangat yang baru.
Semua kita berseru
Majulah Singapura,
Majulah Singapura!

Onward Singapore 

We, the people of Singapore

Together march towards happiness
Our noble aspiration
To make Singapore a success
Let us all unite
In a new spirit
Together we proclaim
Onward Singapore
Onward Singapore

Chinese  

前进吧,新加坡!


来吧,新加坡人民,
让我们共同向幸福迈进;
我们崇高的理想,
要使新加坡成功。
来吧,让我们以新的精神,
团结在一起;
我们齐声欢呼:
前进吧,新加坡!
前进吧,新加坡!
Tamil

Gluttony

6 Aug 2009 – Food Glorious Food

Enough of thought provoking subjects! Have been and still continuing to enjoy the local cuisine here, so much that my body (history of ulcer and food poisoning) is now telling me to find a balance, especially with the hot chillies. The problem is that when you are used to those spices, food taste bland without them, but what a life if one cannot have some indulgence with good food & wines. My children’s father once told me that we in SIN live to eat while the Norwegians eat to live… he might have a point in this case!

Blogging and discussing about food (safe & neutral) is over saturated but would like to share a few (too many to list all) budget$$ favourites, bearing in mind that even the taste of food and art are personal and subjective. But many will agree that only on this red dot where all the scrumptious gastronomical varieties make SIN one of the world’s best eating paradise. STB=Tourist Board will be happy to read this! That must be why I put on weight when in SIN 🙂

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Bak Chor Mee: Blk 58 Marine Parade Rd

Chai Tow Kueh/Carrot Cake: Market next to TC@Marine Terrace

DanDan Mian & Barley Water: Mian Mian Ju Dao, Basement @The Cathy, Hardy Rd

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Dim Sum: Victor’s Kitchen, Sun Shine Plaza, Bencoolen St

Durians, Frog-Legs Porridge & Raw Fish: Tiong Shian, Keong Siak Rd, Chinatown

Peranakan & Popian: Glory, East Coast Rd

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Salted Eggs Crabs & Crispy Beancurd Skin Roll: Big Eater’s Seafood, Upper Changi Rd, newly discovered, thanks to Lizzy Lim & Kong Heng Sun.

I am not a glutton… I am an explorer of food – Emma Bombeck

The Orchid Thief

3 Aug 2009 – 2011 World Orchid Conference/WOC

Upon my return to SIN in 1999, Peggy Tan (VP to Orchid Society of South East Asia/OSSEA), a friend and classmate from 1962 asked me to help out OSSEA (founded 1928). Was involved with their functions, meetings, shows and the publications of their yearly Malayan Orchid Review/MOR first publication 1931). Have been an orchid admirer since my childhood and still is. Minimum knowledge about them even though a member of OSSEA but learning all the time!

2008 WOC in Miami, FL, USA, OSSEA representing SIN won the bid for the 2011 WOC to be held in SIN which will be just around the corner after 2010’s SIN Orchid Show. Will help whenever in SIN but with my present life style, freelance or part-time help is the best I can do.

Yesterday OSSEA’s monthly meeting at the SIN Botanic Gardens/SBG was an eye opener. The speaker, Eric SIMON presented an informative and enjoyable talk, conclusion… orchid growing is NOT for me and doubtfully ever will be but will remain an admirer like during childhood… 🙂

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Orchid growers would question about the names and locations of these pictures but for me they are beautiful flowers! Excuse the non-sharpness as they are for my enjoyment and not for MOR printing. The first row (Changi Airport T1): SIN National Flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim (hybrid between P.teres  x P.hookeriana). The single orchid is a painting on glass with a water-featured background and 2004 MOR’s cover with P.Amy (P.tricuspidata x P.hookeriana), a rare hybrid. P=Papilionanthe. The other pictures: Grammatophyllum flowering on the heritage tree in SBG. According to the experts, the plant is in the shade and unlikely to flower… thank goodness there are exceptions to the rules!

Orchid derives from the Greek word orchis meaning testicle with its history associated with lust, greed and wealth! During the 1800s, they were collected extensively and as many as 4,000 trees were cut down to collect the orchid growing on their branches. One collector alone was believed to have sent 100s of 1,000s to England, where, unfortunately, most died.

There are almost 25,000 different types of orchid and some of their reproductive behaviours have been a basis for study amongst botanists for years. Their peculiarity is that for its seed to germinate it needs to be penetrated by fungus threads. The paphiopedilum was named for Phaphos, a temple on Cyprus where the love goddess Aphrodite was worshipped (where prostitutes were said to be readily available). The famous vanilla orchid was said to give strength for the Aztecs who drink vanilla mixed with chocolate… for those who do not know, vanilla is an orchid!

When we stopped to rest and Tony tried to figure out what was wrong with his compass, I asked him what he thought it was about orchids that seduced humans so completely that they were compelled to steal them and worship them and try to breed new and specific kinds of them and then be willing to wait for nearly a decade for one of them to flower. ‘Oh, mystery, beauty, unknowability, I suppose, ‘ he said, shrugging. ‘Besides, I think the real reason is that life has no meaning. I mean, no obvious meaning. You wake up, you go to work, you do stuff. I think everybody’s always looking for something a little unusual that can preoccupy them and help pass the time.’ – Susan Orlean/The Orchid Thief

A Frozen Flower & Lust Caution

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1 Aug 2009 – Aug special dates!

5th: Happy Bday cousin LAM Cheng En in Shanghai and SIN’s National Day on the 9th, Happy 44th Bday.

Watched a Korean movie, A Frozen Flower*** which reminded me of the uncut version of Lust Caution*** Personally when I watched the cut version first, I liked it. There was such a protest about the cut version in SIN then, that the uncut version had to be released. Did not get the chance or time to see. Bought the DVD and watched it during my Feb USA trip but had to fast forward many of the sex scenes.

Both movies reflect about lust turning to complicated love, with some good acting and so-so story lines but cheapened by too many explicit intimate sex scenes. These touching love stories do not need to be degraded by such prolonged brazen sex scenes which resulted to more of a soft porn… which sells better, action or sex? Probably both to sell best!!

The other unmentioned 5Cs, Causal sex, Cheating, Chemistry, Confusion & Chimera. Logically and for discussion purposes, it is immoral to give and receive bodily pleasure between consenting adults? Is it possible to separate sex without love?? Yes for some and no for others. Confusion between lust and love are not clear or well defined. Hormones too can play games and tricks to the body and mind. At what stage do the body and mind fall in sync with the thoughts. Does maturity has any role???

Basic raw sex can be addiction, egotism, denial, desire, frustration, infatuation, lust, machismo, obligations, physical release, power, etc and other ulterior motives. Is sex with loving emotions, thoughts and wanting to give pleasure to a loved one the ultimate connection? – true love or LaLa Land??

13 Oct 2004 – the newspaper in SIN announced that SIN has one of the lowest libido rate in the world after Japan. Average statistics for intercourse is slightly over 70 times per year! Hmmm… no wonder I lived 40 years away from SIN even if I am not into statistics 🙂 🙂 🙂

A friend from Goa sent this attachment and it took me a split of a second to get it… duh, SLOW!

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My reaction to porn films is as follows
After the first ten minutes, I want to go home and screw
After the first 20 minutes, I never want to screw again as long as I live –

Erica Jong