Saturday, May 31, 2008

Week 22 of year 2008 on the double bass

25 May 2008, Sun: I spent time practising the second movement of Dittersdorf's Second Double Bass Concerto. The goal was to improve intonation and the clarity of the sound produced.

28 May 2008, Wed: Before the start of the orchestra rehearsal, I practised the second movement of Dittersdorf's Second Double Bass Concerto. The greatest challenge was to learn how to play the part where there is use of double-stops.

During the orchestra rehearsal, the orchestra rehearsed various work including the sight-reading of the first movement from Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony. We played an arrangement of tunes from the movie Forrest Gump and a few other works. These works will be performed during the orchestra's public performance at Vivo City sometime on 20 September this year.

29 May 2008, Thu: I continued to work on sight-reading during my weekly double bass lesson with MJ. He showed me how I could approach sight-reading exercises that involve syncopation. In addition, he reminded me to count mentally when playing sight-reading exercises.

I continued to work on the second movement of Dittersdorf's Second Double Bass Concerto after the sight-reading exercises. As this is a work from the classical period, I was reminded not to play with too much emotions, and not to overdo the vibrato.

30 May 2008, Fri: I practised the second movement of Dittersdorf's Second Double Bass Concerto. Needing more concentration and focus.

31 May 2008, Sat: I spent some moments practising the second movement of Dittersdort's Second Double Bass Concerto.

Today, I have received by air-mail the copy of Osborne's Gargoyles that I have ordered online. As I started trying to read Osborne's Gargoyles, I started to have doubts on my abilities to sight-read contemporary works for the double bass. I gave up on sight-reading the work after working on it for a few bars. Somehow, I have yet to find ways to relate to the music.

I took some time to play selected passages from Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony. I marvelled at Mendelssohn's ingenious use of harmony. At the same time, I struggled trying to play many of the passages at sight. These are moments when doubts creep in.

Where should I be heading?

Gemstone test

Maybe the results of this test is trying to tell me that I will survive the tough times.




Your Gemstone Says...



You are simply joyful. You find it easy to have peace of mind.

You tend to think positive thoughts. It's easy to control where your mind goes.

You have great mental powers and self discipline.

You are able to dream big. You definitely aren't afraid of failure.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A month when I need better health

It is almost coming to the end of May 2008. I realised that I had seen a doctor on three different occasions this month. My health just did not seem to be near its optimal this month.

First, I was struck with sore throat. It was followed by flu. Even after I have completed most of the medication, I felt easily tired physically. Recently, I had bitten on my lips on two different occasions. The wounds developed into ulcers. The ulcers hurt so much today that I didn't feel like talking for most of the day. Thank goodness the doctor whom I saw today prescribed something that helped to else the pain from the ulcers. However, I still can't make out why I have been experiencing headaches from time to time these few days.

I wish for better health. May good health be with you too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Withdrawing, to recharge



At the risk of collapsing physically. That was the feeling that I get by the end of the day. My natural inclination is to withdraw. Withdraw to quiet moments so that I could recharge. If I don't feel like talking of late, it is because I desperately needed to withdraw to a quiet space of my own so as to recharge.

This coming Friday, I have scheduled a break from work, so as to have unscheduled time just to recharge. I don't think I would be at home during the day unless it is peaceful and quiet that day. If you should find out seemingly in a daze, sitting down to while my time away, please lend me the quiet moments so that I could recharge.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This weekend: Celebrate International Museum Day



Otterman has put up a post on Yesterday.sg. Check it out:
International Museum Day 2008 kicks off on 31st May!

There is a series of events lined up for everyone from 31 May to 2 Jun 2008 this weekend. Check it out.

By the way, there will be Free Entry on 31 May 2008 at the following museums:

Asian Civilisations Museum
National Museum Of Singapore
NEWater Visitor Centre
NUS Museum
Memories at Old Ford Factory
Peranakan Museum
Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research
Reflections at Bukit Chandu
red dot design museum
Republic of Singapore Air Force Museum
Singapore Art Museum
Singapore City Gallery
Singapore Philatelic Museum

Nonya rice dumplings



A trip to the Kim Choo Kueh Chang - Restaurant/ Gallery is only complete when one checks out its famous and delicious Nonya Kueh Chang (rice dumplings). As such, while we were at the gallery, Eastcoastlife and myself remembered to catch some glimpses of the rice dumplings when we were there.

Eastcoastlife told me that from time to time, there will be a demonstration of the making of the rice dumplings at the second level where the gallery stood. I did not have the fortune to see the demonstration when I was at the gallery that day. Do check out Eastcoast's post titled Peranakan Culture to see a photo of such a demonstration.

To learn about what makes Kim Choo Kueh Chang different from Chinese rice dumplings and learn about the Dragon Boat Festival, one should check out http://www.kimchoo.com/ourculture.html

At Kim Choo Kueh Chang, the rice dumplings are wrapped using fragrant Pandan leaves instead of the bamboo leaves used in Chinese rice dumplings. In addition, a range of condiments commonly found in the Malay archipelago region, such as coriander powder etc are used to give the Nonya rice dumpling a distinctive flavour. Instead of being filled with fatty pork fillings, Kim Choo Nonya rice dumplings are usually filled with seasoned minced pork and sliced winter melon cubes. Just like many Nonya rice dumplings, the glutinous rice are sometimes coloured marble-blue using the extract of the blue-pea flower. This, I read, would give the dumpling "a sweetened tang and a distinct look".


Various spices: cinnamon, star anise, fennel, cumin and coriander seeds are used in the making of Kim Choo Nonya rice dumplings

My goodness, I realised that after writing so much about the delicious Kim Choo Nonya rice dumplings, I was too full to try a bite of it when I was at Ruma Kim Choo! One could visit Ruma Kim Choo to get a few of the rice dumplings.

Kim Choo Kueh Chang - Restaurant / Gallery
(Kim Choo's Kitchen / Ruma Kim Choo)
109/111, East Coast Road
Singapore 428800
Tel: +65 6741 2125

References:
- http://www.kimchoo.com/ourculture.html
- Tan, Gek Suan. (2004). Gateway to Peranakan Food Culture. Singapore: Asiapac Books.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Week 21 of year 2008 on the double bass

18 May 2008, Sun: My double bass is back from repair. The Luthier helped me change a slightly taller sound post and that helped to improve the sound quality of the instrument. I could hear richer overtones and clearer harmonics on my instrument. I am delighted that it was also slightly easier to play at the higher positions.

With the double bass back, I could no longer hold my excitement. I practised the first and second movements of Dittersdorf's Second Double Bass Concerto concentrating on the latter. I also played the first and second movements of Marcello's Sonata in G major from memory.

19 May 2008, Mon: I practised Keyper's Romance and Rondo>.

21 May 2008, Wed: Orchestra rehearsal resumed after a fairly long break. We rehearsed various works.

22 May 2008, Thu: For the double bass lesson, I worked on sight-reading for the first half of the lesson. Afterwhich, my tutor guided me to work on the second movement of Dittersdorf's Second Double Bass Concerto.

24 May 2008, Sat: I practised the second movement of Dittersdorf's Second Double Bass Concerto. I would need my tutor's help with the cadenza.

More practice and practice.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Stretching one's imagination at Boat Quay

What is the tree structure doing in the middle of the Singapore River near Boat Quay?



Strangely, the tree seems to be accompanied by other strange objects that were previously not seen at that part of the Singapore River. It would probably take one a lot of imagination to figure out how the vehicle landed itself there.





Then when the night turned dark, the waters of the Singapore River nearest to Boat Quay transformed to a surreal land. All the strange objects that had sprung out from seemingly nowhere are part of the props for the Opening Celebrations of this year's Singapore Arts Festival:

Water Fools
Ilotopie (France)
23 - 25 May, 8pm
Boat Quay
Free

To catch a glimpse of what the performance is about, please visit Ilotopie's site, and imagine that the performance had taken place on the Singapore River:
http://www.ilotopie.com/gb/pages-video/waterfools-2.htm

I caught the performance on 23 May 2008. The lesson learnt, it is helpful to get a good spot so as to have a good view of the performance. Otherwise, other than being fascinated with the fireworks that were in the air, I had spent quite a bit of time trying to imagine how fascinating the performance would have looked like against the backdrop of the Singapore River. If one is sitting down to watch the performance, it would help to be sitting along the first one or two rows from the front.

Other than trying to catch the performance, I realised that I was spending quite a bit of time trying to figure out what kind of technology Ilotopie had used to make the performance possible.

Ilotopie will perform Water Fools again very soon, at 8 p.m. tonight. The entire performance is about 50 minutes in duration.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A break: Week 19 and 20 of year 2008 on the double bass

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A few weeks ago, I had declared to take a break from practising on the double bass on weeks 19 and 20.

The only times when I had played on the double bass on these weeks were:

4 May 2008, Sun: I practised two short studies. Afterwhich, I continued to practise the first movement from Dittersdorf's Second Concerto. The goal was to improve intonation and articulation.

15 May 2008, Thu: It had been a long while since I had practised on the double bass. It felt comforting to be able to play on a double bass during my double bass lesson. There was no double bass lesson on the previous week. For this week, I continued to practise the first movement from Dittersdorf's Second Concerto. I strived for better tone quality and articulation for much of the lesson today.

During the two weeks period, my double bass was at the Luthier for repair. I realised I had missed it on many occasions. I'm glad that it is back now.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Blinking red

Headache seems to be plaguing me most of the evening. I wonder if that was due to the drilling that have been going on nearby my office throughout the day. I noticed that I am feeling more easily drained this entire week. My body seems to be blinking red, telling me to rest. Deciding to trust my body, I applied for a day of annual leave next week. It is maybe not as long as I would like, but it is an attempt to balance rest and responsibilities.

Meantime, here's sharing one of my favourite quotes. I hope it inspires:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous --
Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people
Won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some of us: it is in everyone,
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
Give other people permission to do the same.


- Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love (New York: Harper Collins, 1992)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I wish for life at my pace

Will it be possible to live life at my pace?
I can live life the way that brings out the best in me
And rest when my body would need.

Now, I am feeling exhausted.
A little overwhelmed
I wish for life at my pace
And the courage to make this wish a reality

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fly away

I am feeling rather exhausted from the day even though I had a very early rest last night. This could be the signs that my body is still recuperating from the flu that had bugged me since last week.

I had done this test some time ago. I wish I could just simply fly away and live life at my own pace without having to keep up with the scheduled routines. Does anyone feel this way at times?




Your Personality at 35,000 Says...



Deep down, you prefer spending time alone to spending time with others. You enjoy thinking more than talking.

You are good with your place in the world. You are confident and comfortable with who you are.

Your gift is having a way with words. You know how to express yourself well.

You are inspired by what is possible. Real life is often too ordinary for you.

Your life has a lot of ups and downs, but things generally end up being pretty positive. It's one big emotional roller coaster, that's for certain.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Nonya Beadwork & Embroidery




My adventures with Eastcoastlife about the Katong area did not stop at our lunch at Kim Choo Kueh Chang - Restaurant.

On the second level of Kim Choo Kueh Chang - Restaurant/ Gallery is a gallery that showcases Nonya Beadwork & Embroidery, Nonya Kebaya and Nonya Porcelain. That was where we had headed after our lunch. My eyes were attracted to the colourful beadwork that were on display.



For the Nonyas, otherwise known as the young female Peranakans, the quality of her beadwork and embroidery is often regarded as a reflection of the quality of her upgrading. This is the case as a lot of patience and skills are required to bead and embroider.

In a traditional Peranakan family, a Nonya would have been introduced to and trained in sewing, beadwork and embroidery from an early of twelve, before they get married. Likely, by the time that a Nonya is of a suitable age to get married, she would usually have perfected the skills of beadwork and embroidery.

Look at the beaded shoes found in the photo above. These beaded slippers are known as kasut manek and are worn by Peranakan women as part of their traditional costume. Notice that similar to Malay designs, people are rarely depicted in most of the designs of the beadwork and embroidery. Most of the designs tend to be motifs of animals, phoenixes and flowers.




Look at how fine and tiny the beads are.

In making the kasut manek (beaded slippers/ shoes), I've found out at the Kim Choo Kueh Chang - Gallery that usually either Rocaille seed beads or Charlotte seed beads would be used. The beads are sewn painstakingly by hand onto the cloth with the help of a wooden frame (also known as pidangan).

For those of you who are interested in learning how to make such beaded shoes, I heard that Kim Choo Kueh Chang - Gallery conducts such courses. Please click on the link to find out more.


Demonstration of beaded slippers in the making.

In general, most ladies would place a sample of the design or cross-stitch patchwork in front of them when they sew. This is to guide them in their making of the kasut manek. I read that for those with decades of sewing experience, they can easily sew the designs on from memory. I cannot help but to feel impressed.

If you are still hungry for more insights to the art of making Peranakan beaded shoes, here is a Youtube video that features "a traditional Peranakan beaded shoe-maker, Mr Robert Sng" put up by bristow47 and his team: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kivqEOCx-uw

References:
- http://infopedia.nlb.gov.sg/articles/SIP_198_2005-01-18.html
- Lim, Catherine, G.S. (2003). Gateway to Peranakan Culture. Singapore: Asiapac Books.
- Tan, Gek Suan. (2004). Gateway to Peranakan Food Culture. Singapore: Asiapac Books.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Concert on 17 May 2008



I was resting most of yesterday in the hope to feel better from a flu. In the evening, I took a sneak to catch the Singapore Symphony Orchestra's concert, Masterful Mendelssohn, with one of my friends, Mystic. I am glad that I did. It was a concert worth listening.

Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor is one concerto that I like. The soloist, Daniel Hope, has generally done a fairly well rendition of the concerto, albeit I love his encore more! The encore, which I still could not make out its title, was played with a beautiful, moving sound that rang the entire concet hall. He would do a wonderful rendition of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto if he had been a little more relaxed with his use of the right hand so as to produce similar beautiful sound that was produced for the encore. His spiccato could be a little more clearer and his rendition would be perfect. I think maybe he could play short bows for his practices for a start instead of spiccato, and only practise using the spiccato strokes after he could achieve a clearer and articulated sound using short bow strokes on the strings.

The orchestra has a good rendition of Sibelius' Symphony No. 1. Mystic likes it too. The conductor, Ari Rasilainen, knows the symphony very well and he did a good job in leading the orchestra to interpret this symphony in a disciplined yet spontaneous way.

Thanks to Mystic for her company.

***
On the side, my double bass is finally back from repair. Basically, the sound-post was changed as the previous one was too short for optimal performance. I am quite pleased with the fact that my instrument is more responsive after the repair, and more pleasantly delighted that it is now more easy to play at the higher positions as compared to before.

If you have a strings instrument that needs repair or maintenance, do consider Le Diapason. The charges are reasonable for the quality of work that is given.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Matisse



Brilliant, non-naturalistic colours, applied in a wild fashion. This is my impression of the art movement, Fauvism, that Henri Matisse was associated with.

To get an appreciation of the kind of paintings and artworks produced by Henri Matisse, I would like to point you to a Youtube video put up by sundroid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwH-eDyWm0k



The Blockbuster exhibition titled Matisse presented by Wing Tai and the Singapore Tyler Print Institute brings viewers to appreciate another dimension of Henri Matisse's art: not the colours, but how Henri Matisse explored the use of line and tone with lithography.

The exhibition helped me better appreciate the fine draughtsmanship of Henri Matisse. If you happen to be at the exhibition, please take time to notice the simplicity and purity of his line works.

I was lucky to have attended the exhibition walkthrough on 10 May 2008 given by Emi Eu. It gave a useful overview to the exhibition. I was later treated to a 30-minutes lithography demonstration by Eitaro Ogawa.

It was an enriching learning experience to see a demonstration of the lithography technique. I got to see how the oil-based image was drawn onto the limestone with the use of a litho crayon, how the image was 'fixed', and how eventually a impression of the image is being obtained.

Matisse showcases Henri Matisse's prints made from 1922-52. It is now being held at the Singapore Tyler Print Institute from 9 May to 19 Jul 2008.

Gallery Opening Hours :
Tuesday-Saturday: 10am-6pm.
Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays.
Mondays by appointment only.
Admission: Free

***
Singapore Tyler Print Institute
41 Robertson Quay, Singapore 238236

Tel: (65) 6336 3663
Fax: (65) 6336 3553
Website: www.stpi.com.sg

Friday, May 16, 2008

My Taste in Music

I like classical music way better than heavy metal, I don't know why. Somehow there are so many interesting aspects to listen to.

By the way, I will be getting tickets for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra's 2008/ 09 concert season. While I don't necessary enjoy every single concert by the SSO, it is worth making time to listen to our very own Symphony Orchestra with the hope that I would be pleasantly treated to some beautiful musical moments. Furthermore, I like classical music performed live because certain sounds that truly inspire the human soul just don't sound well in recordings.

Meantime, I hope to feel better from a flu. It's making my mind feel heavy and the nose blocked such the doctor gave me a day of medical leave from work. I wish for good health. May good health be with you too.



What Your Taste in Music Says About You



Your musical tastes are reflective and complex.

You are intellectual to the point of being cerebral.

You are very open to new experiences, and even more open to new ideas and theories.

Wisdom and personal accomplishment are important to you.

You are naturally sophisticated. You are drawn to art, especially art by independent artists.

You are likely to be financially well off... and not because you were born that way.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The China Earthquake

A 7.9 8.0-magnitude earthquake had struck in Sichuan province, China, earlier this Monday. BBC News has a special report segment on the recent China earthquake. Perhaps humanity and effective provision of aid are some of the best ways to respond to a devasting natural disaster.

For the folks who would like to extend a helping hand to the victims of the earthquake, here's a piece of information that you may like to know:

Red Cross China Earthquake Appeal

Walk-in donations can be made at the
Singapore Red Cross Society,
15 Penang Lane, Singapore 238486.

The collection hours are:
Mon - Fri: 9.30 a.m. - 5.45 p.m.
Sat & Sun (17-18 May): 9.30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Vesak Day (19 May): 9.30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

For more information, please call the Singapore Red Cross at 6334-9152/53 or email enquiry@redcross.org.sg.

Instructions for cheque donations, and donations via UOB Internet Banking, DBS Internet Banking and DBS/POSB Fund Transfer are available here: http://www.redcross.org.sg/chinaearthquake_src_donate.htm

**
I happen to have found the URL for those who wish to make a donation to the American Red Cross: China Earthquake Relief.
**

(You may also wish to read Eastcoastlife's Help the Sichuan Earthquake victims.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Experiencing the Peranakan culture at Katong



In the hope to learn a little more about the Peranakan culture after my recent visits to the Peranakan Museum, I went to one of the libraries under the National Library Board to search for related books on this subject.

For myself who is a non-Peranakan, I have found Catherine GS Lim's Gateway to Peranakan Culture to be a book that provides accessible information on the Peranakan culture, specifically that of the Peranakan Chinese. There is a similar book titled Gateway to Peranakan Food Culture by Tan Gek Suan that lends insights to the Peranakan cuisine.


Images source: http://www.asiapacbooks.com


While reading related books could lend me insights to the Peranakan culture, I think learning truly comes alive when one gets to experience the culture. I have had a mini-adventure trying out Peranakan cuisine and viewing objects that are commonly used by the Peranakans when fellow blogger, Eastcoastlife, very graciously showed me about various parts of Katong.

One is likely to ask: "Who are the Peranakans?". According to what I have found on the website of the Peranakan Association Singapore,
the word Peranakan means 'local born' in Malay. It refers to the Peranakan Chinese as well as other Peranakan communities which developed in South-east Asia. These include the Chitty Melaka (Indian), Kristang (Eurasian) and the Jawi Peranakans.

My recent visit to Katong with Eastcoastlife brought me to experience snippets of the Peranakan Chinese culture. From what I have gathered from Catherine GS Lim's Gateway to Peranakan Culture, the Peranakan Chinese community has its origins in the interracial marriages between immigrant Chinese men and non-Muslim women in the 16th century. With this background knowledge, it became interesting to see how elements of the Chinese culture and the traditions common to the natives of the Malay archipelago fuse and influence the culture of the Peranakan Chinese.




The first stop of Eastcoastlife and yours truly while we were at Katong was Kim Choo Kueh Chang - Restaurant. A keen observer would be able to spot elements that hint of Chinese and Malay influences in this restaurant that sells Peranakan cuisine.



As seen in the photo found above, sambal belachan (pounded chillies with toasted shrimp paste) and achar (pickled vegetables) are normally served at every Peranakan meal. The use of belachan is, as best as I understand, integral in Malay and Indonesian cuisines. The use of sambal belachan is probably an example of how the Peranakan cusine is being influenced by the Malay and Indonesian cuisine.

Notice the designs on the crockery. In a Peranakan household, the crockery would often be made of porcelain. The crockery would often bear designs influenced to some extent by Chinese art. However, the designs tend to be more elaborate, floral and colourful than the designs found on Chinese ceramic crockery.



In Tan Gek Suan's Gateway to Peranakan Food Culture, it was said by one of the interviewees that the ayam buah keluak is most representative of the Peranakan cuisine. The buah keluak is the Malay name for black nut. From what I have read, in Peranakan Chinese cuisine, the mature nuts would be cracked and cook with chicken and pork in a spicy stew. The kernel of the nuts would then be scooped out, minced with shrimps and blended with spices to make a paste. The paste would later be stuffed back into the previously emptied buah keluak shells. The stuffed buah keluak would then be cooked with chicken.


Closed-up of ayam buah keluak.

At Kim Choo Kueh Chang - Restaurant, diners will be provided with special fork-like utensils to scoop out the stuffings from the buah keluak. It does take quite some practice to scoop out the stuffings completely from the buah keluak.

At the second level of the Kim Choo Kueh Chang - Restaurant is Kim Choo Kueh Chang - Gallery which showcases Nonya Beadwork & Embroidery, Nonya Kebaya and Nonya Porcelain. I saw this round dining table at the second level.




The Peranakans, as I have read, would usually entertain their guest by treating them to a sumptuous meal at home. When there were a lot of guests, a long table (tok panjang) would be set up. Otherwise, a round dining table would usually be preferred because every diner can reach for the food easily at a round dining table. If you notice the forks and spoons on the dining table, I read that these were usually used when the Peranakans socialise and dine with the Europeans in the past. Now, this is how learning can come alive: when one gets to see and experience what were mentioned in the books.

If what you have read in this post interests you, you may wish to read the two books that were mentioned in this post or any other books on the Peranakan culture. You could also visit the Peranakan museum to catch a good glimpse of the crockery used by the Peranakan. Better still, experience the Peranakan culture for yourself.

My words of appreciation to Eastcoastlife for showing me about the Katong area. I appreciate her company and hospitality.

**
References:
- http://www.peranakan.org.sg
- Lim, Catherine, G.S. (2003). Gateway to Peranakan Culture. Singapore: Asiapac Books.
- Tan, Gek Suan. (2004). Gateway to Peranakan Food Culture. Singapore: Asiapac Books.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Keep safe

Yesterday, one of my younger brothers pleasantly surprised me by getting an apple strudel for me as a belated birthday gift. Many thanks for the apple strudel and the kind thoughts that came with it.

This brother of mine is now in Brunei for training for a few weeks. I wish him a safe trip. Keep safe brother.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The priceless gifts



One of my good friends, Mystic, very thoughtfully and kindly treated me to lunch at Central which is located along my favourite river, the Singapore River.

We had initially arranged to meet at Chinatown area but thoughtful Mystic suggested to change the meeting venue to Central as it was nearer to the Singapore Tyler Print Institute which I had intended to visit after our meet-up. What's more, she surprised me by turning up at least 45 minutes before our scheduled meeting time. Thank goodness that I was early too so that she need not wait too long.

Mystic was obliging to my preferences for food and went the extra mile to queue for and order the food. I felt touched by Mystic's kind thoughts and her good company. These are priceless gifts that cannot be bought.

Many thanks to Mystic for being a confidante, counsel and friend. Thank you for your priceless gifts this birthday week of yours truly.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Sightseeing: Geylang and Katong



I needed a break from work, and took leave to sightsee parts of Singapore. Eastcoastlife very graciously and generously made time out to show me about various parts of Geylang and the Katong.

Along the way, before the start of the journey, I took a photo of the ixora (a flower) that I had seen near our meeting place. I have found the red hue of the flower to be very attractive against the bright sunlight of the tropics.

She showed me the places to get crispy roast pork and roast duck, as well as a place where the professional cooks would get their sauces and condiments from. This information may come in handy one day.

I was attracted to the architectural designs of some of the shophouses that we saw along the way. For myself who lives in a flat, a tour about Geylang was refreshing for I was treated to shophouses of various designs. A number of the shophouses in the area were built before the second World War.





We also saw a lot of red lanterns in the Geylang area. I could not figure out why one shop which worships the God of Fortune has a lot of red lanterns all around its perimeter. Eastcoastlife said that it could be to attract the attention of passerbys. That sounded very probable.

Eastcoastlife pointed me to the 'cool noodles' which was prepared like a salad. I was told that in China, this dish is a common street-food. Unfortunately, the 'cool noodles' that we had was not the authentic 'cool noodles'. The authentic version should be translucent. Neverthless, at least I have a glimpse to one of the street-food commonly found in China.





Much later, when we were at Katong area, I could not help but take photos of the former Grand Hotel. It looked more deserted-looking than when I saw it about more than a year ago on my walk-about the Katong area. Anyway, I was drawn to its isolated, worn-out and yet majestic front. Hopefully my snapshot below has captured my reactions to the Grand Hotel.





For the remaining part of our adventures about the Katong area and our lovely lunch at Kim Choo Kueh Chang - Restaurant / Gallery, I shall not blog in this post. I am hoping to write a post about my sightings that are related to the Peranakan culture in another post. Please stay tuned for the updates.





Over lunch, Eastcoastlife filled me in with information about the funding support for training offered by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA). For Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents who are looking for subsidies for training programmes to improve their employability and enhance their skills, it is worth the time to look at the various services and programmes offered by WDA.

My heartfelt appreciation to Eastcoastlife for showing me about the Geylang and Katong area. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experiences with me. It was a memorable day of sightseeing. Thank you Eastcoastlife.


(Also see Eastcoastlife's posts: Things to do in a red-light district, Sichuan Cool Noodles.)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

8 May 2008



I took leave from work today to send my double bass to the Luthier for repair. The real reason is that I needed a break from work to recharge. Anyway, the sound-post needs some fixing to get it to an optimal position. I hope the repair would help improve the sound of my double bass. Somehow, my ears tell me that although it is just a very average double bass for students, it has not been reaching its potential because of its set-up.

The Luthier is someone who is trustworthy and reliable so I look forward to hear some improvements in the sound quality of my instrument. Meantime, I have to get used to many days without a double bass to practise on at home.

Rather than walking about to sight-seeing though I very much wish to do so, I headed home after borrowing a few books from the library. Food for the mind is as good a treat as beautiful sceneries. I shall allow my body to rest so that it can feel better soon.

In the evening, my family had dinner together. It has been a while since we had dinner together.

Meantime, many thanks to the greetings and wishes from various friends: xiaofen, ML, SH, JL, JQ, Ins., XS.

One of my friends, Trinket Addict, brightened my day with a Sunshine Bag Charm. I like the colour combinations of the charm and the effects of sunshine shining through the charm. If you like handmade accessories made from charms, beads, stones and crystals, you can contact Trinket Addict for purchase enquiries.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I wish for good health



I wish for good health, good luck and wisdom.

The doctor said that I have a throat infection. I hope I can recover soon enough.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Happy Birthday to Eastcoastlife



It was Eastcoastlife's birthday recently.

Here's sharing a lovely rendition of Variations on the Birthday Song performed by American violinist, Rachel Barton Pine. I very much admire Rachel Barton Pine's musicality. I hope that the music will bring Eastcoastlife some delight and inspirations on her birthday.

To celebrate this occasion, here's my humble rendition of the birthday tune played on the double bass specially for Eastcoastlife:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCpb6M1bWQ8

"May your wishes come true, Eastcoastlife."

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Week 18 of year 2008 on the double bass

27 Apr 2008, Sun: I sight-read the second and third movement of Dittersdorf's second concerto. Much of the time was then spent practising the first movement from the concerto. Playing this concerto in some ways challenges me to deal with the self-doubts and frustrations of not being able to produce the sounds that I would like when playing in the higher positions. It is prompting me to address the set-up issue, it seems.

I sight-read a new exercise on the double bass. Time was also spent playing the first and second movement of Marcello's Sonata in G major from memory.

28 Apr 2008, Mon: I played tunes from Hartley's Double Bass Solo Book One, and played selected passages from the first movement of Dittersdorf's Second Concerto.

29 Apr 2008, Tue: Double bass lesson took place in the late afternoon. I was using my own instrument for the lesson. Sight-reading pointed out my weaknesses. I needed more work on playing uncommon rhythms and accidentals by sight.

I continued to work on the first movement of Dittersdorf's Second Concerto. I need a focused articulation.

30 Apr 2008, Wed: I played on the double bass, playing one same tune in various fashion. The goal was to capture a good recording of the playing.

1 May 2008, Thu: It was a public holiday. Is it due to poor health, I did not seem to be focused when I was practising. I sight-read one exercise, and then worked on the first few bars from the second movement of Dittersdorf's Second Concerto. Afterwhich, time was spent practising some parts from the first movement of the same concerto. I need more focus.

3 May 2008, Sat: I sight-read an exercise, and continued to practise the first movement of Dittersdorf's Second Concerto. I wish for more focus during the practice!

I shall declare a break from double bass practising for the week/s to come. If I do get to practise, it will be a bonus. My double bass needs to be sent for repair, and I wonder how long this would take. The Luthier isn't free this weekend so I would visit him middle of the week.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Blogger now schedules future-dated posts

Dear fellow users of Blogger, if you take some time to read your dashboard, you will find out that Blogger now schedules future-dated posts.

This means users of Blogger can now schedule post publishing. This will come in very handy for those who wants to post something on a certain date but can't be at the computer to publish the post. Do check your dashboard for more information.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Peranakan beaded shoes

While I was surfing http://www.peranakan.org.sg to learn more about the culture of the Peranakan Chinese, I came across a Youtube video put up by bristow47. Although short, this video lends insights to the art of making Peranakan beaded shoes.

The video "features a traditional Peranakan beaded shoe-maker, Mr Robert Sng". To view the video, please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kivqEOCx-uw

I have embedded it here for your convenience. Credit goes to bristow47 and his team for putting this video together.




Meantime, to learn more about the culture of the Peranakan, you may wish to visit the Peranakan Museum, Singapore, this weekend. There will be a series of events to celebrate the opening of the museum over three weekends from 26 April to 11 May 2008.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The blogger's block

Is it the blogger's block that I don't feel like blogging of late? I realised that I have come to a phase when I don't have as strong an urge to blog.

It is Labour's Day today. I am not feeling in good health and had to spend most of the time resting at home to recuperate. Thank goodness that home is quiet today because no one is watching the television.

Talking about television, according to wikipedia, the television has been commercially available since the 1930s. In Days of Black and White Television in Singapore, by Lam Chun See, it was said that television made its debut in Singapore in the year 1963.

Strangely, television did not draw my interest nowadays. There do not seem to be any programme of particular interest to me. I remember that when I was a young child, I used to enjoy watching cartoons on television. Now, I don't. People evolve, I suppose.

Meantime, wishing everyone good health.