Monday, August 30, 2010

You are invited


The NUS Symphony Orchestra will be presenting an outreach concert performing orchestral music inspired by folk tunes and dances on 12 Sep 2010 (Sat). This concert is intended to presented to the public the lighter side of classical music.

Date: 12th Sept 2010 (Sat)
Venue: NUS University Cultural Centre Hall
Time: 6 pm


Georges Bizet | Carmen Suite for Orchestra No. 2
Edvard Grieg | Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46
Yuzu Toyama | Rhapsody for Orchestra
Emmanual Chabrier | España, Rhapsody for Orchestra

Free admission. Tickets will be available at the door from 5pm on a first-come-first-serve basis. Pre-ordering of tickets have been closed.

Source: http://nusso.org/179/nusso-presents-folklorica

Friday, August 27, 2010

Living a Fulfilling Life blog


Source: http://livingafulfillinglife.com

Inspiring Nancy whose blog, Happy Nancy, I have been following has started yet another blog. This blog features video postings. I think it is commendable that Nancy makes time to share with the world how one can live a better life. Over Nancy's latest blog, Living a Fulfilling Life, one can learn tips to living a more fulfilling life at a very affordable cost. In fact, there is almost no cost for one to access the blog except the cost to run the computer and go online.

This week's topic is on enthuasiasm. It's great for anyone of us who would like to ignite their own sparks of enthuasiasm. Happy learning.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Traditional methods of healing, the Asian way!



I was a tourist in Singapore yet again yesterday. I am wondering if it would be great if I could have a job that allows me to travel to various parts of Singapore as a resident tourist? There are many interesting places in Singapore that residents in Singapore may not be aware of.

As part of my attempts to learn more about my own country, I got myself a place onboard the tour, The Traditional Touch: Healing the Asian Way™, on a fine Saturday morning. This tour was put together by Journeys Pte Ltd in conjunction with Singapore HeritageFest 2010.

This post shall be largely on my personal experiences onboard this tour. I shall offer some leads and contact information of the relevant services that I had came across as part of the tour. However, since I am neither a trained medical professional nor a master in any of these traditional methods of healing, there will be very limited sharing on the traditional methods of healing I had came across during the tour.

Our tour started at Fort Canning Hill. At the Spice Garden of Fort Canning Park, the tour guide highlighted some of the plants and spices to us. I was rather fascinated with the turmeric though I have no photograph of it to offer here. Another plant that was highlighted to the tour group was the neem tree. I understand that it has antiseptic properties.

 Make a guess which is the Neem tree?


When we reached the Fort Canning Centre, we were given a special 30 - 45 minutes talk on Ayurveda. Ayurveda means "Wisdom of Life". This talk gave the tour participants a quick introduction to Ayurveda. I was impressed with the centuries of wisdom that had laid the foundation behind Ayurveda. It is not just a science of treatment, it is also a science of how to live life well.

Remember the neem tree that I had mentioned, the speaker from Innergy Training & Consultancy Pte Ltd was very generous and gave each participant two products by Himalaya Herbals. These were soap and facial cleanser made from Neem & Turmeric. Nature is wonderful. It somehow has provided for many of our needs in its own ways. I suppose we just need to have the knowledge to learn how to live in harmony with Nature?


During the talk, we also learnt about the three doshas (humours). These are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. I learnt that acording to their taste, different food will either increase or decrease humors in the body. One thing that was stuck in my mind is that I have to practise learning to take time to taste the food that I eat. There were times when I just eat and not bother to taste my food.

Our next destination was at a tranquil looking space along Geylang Serai. Here, we were introduced to Jamu massage. Somehow I could not quite figure what Jamu is, so I went to check out wikipedia and found out this: "Jamu is traditional medicine in Indonesia." Interesting, I learnt that many of the herbal medicine used in Jamu are natural materials, many of them are food that we eat.



The Jamu massage place that we went has a humble beginning. The massage place, Diva Elements Spa, lies in a cosy spot within the Malay Village. We learnt that the skill was passed to the owner of Diva Elements Spa by her mother, passed over generations. When she finally decided to open her own spa two years ago, it was not a fearless decision. I am glad that she perserved to share her special skills and set up her own spa. The owner struck me as a very sincere and down-to-earth lady. Hopefully, good traditions like Jamu massage can be passed down the generations.


Just outside the Diva Elements Spa, it looked like we were being transported to the good one kampong (village) days. Right inside the spa, the decor is modern, clean and relaxing. One is greeted by gentle tribal music and the smells of massage oils as one enters the spa chamber.


One of the male tour participants volunteered himself for an upper body Jamu massage. His feedback was that it was good that he wanted to come back again. Now the issue is that Diva Elements Spa does not take male customers. Thank goodness that he is married, and Diva Elements Spa can provide services to husband-and-wife who comes together.

In addition, Diva Elements Spa also offers post natal massage and even slimming treatment. It also offers foot-steaming treatment. The tour participants were most pleased when we were given discount vouchers to enjoy the Jamu Massage services at Diva Elements Spa. In addition, I thought it was generous hospitality that the spa prepared light refreshments for the tour participants despite the fact that it was the good month of Ramandan, and the folks in the spa were fasting.


******
In case you wish to know:

Diva Elements Spa
No. 81 The Malay Village Geylang Serai
Singapore 409248

Tel: 67460041
(By appointment only.)

******

The next main destination was at Eu Yan Sang in Chinatown area at 269A South Bridge Road . We were given an introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine. This Eu Yan Sang is also special in that it has a mini-exhibition on bird-nest. I caught a glimpse of some of the tools that were used in processing bird-nests. I also learnt that the best bird-nest in the world comes from Vietnam. Sarawak, however, is one of the countries that processes the highest quantity of bird-nest.


At Eu Yan Sang, we also met with generous hospitality. Each of the tour participants was treated to a sample of American ginseng tea.

The final stop was at the Chinatown Complex. This may turn out to be a favourite shop for the folks who wish to buy fresh herbal plants to use for cooking. At the very least, I have found out that this humble shop has a comprehensive supply of many kinds of herbal plants, imported from Johor Bahru. Each of the tour participants were given pandan leaves and stalks of lemon grass so that we can make a herbal drink for ourselves at home.


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If you would like to find your way to this shop, here are the details:

China Town Fresh Herbs
Chinatown Complex
B1-161

******

You have guessed that I left the tour a contented tourist. Aside from being treated with generous hospitality at all the locations that I had visited, the tour gave me a quick introduction to Ayurveda, Jamu massage and Traditional Chinese Medicine. I would say that this tour is one tour to allow one to be exposed to the various healing practices that specific cultures in Singapore practises. While the time for the tour is too short to learn anything in-depth about these healing practices, novices like myself will find it a great way to have a snapshot of the various healing practices.

My conclusion, there is a wealth of wisdom in the Asian's traditional methods of healing.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Heritage Sparkles in the City


 This is a very short post for anyone in Singapore who would like a unique weekend in the city area tomorrow. There will be various activities held in the city area as part of the "Heritage Sparkles in the City" event. This event is held as part of the Singapore HeritageFest 2010 (from 11 - 22 Aug 2010).



From an exhibition on various cultures, a treat to ethnic crafts, a food fair with tidbits and bites from various cultures, culinary demonstration and performances, visitors can expect to have a glimpse of the heritage of various cultures.



Visit the SMU Campus Green. This is where most of the hype and bustle of this "Heritage Sparkles in the City" event occur. More importantly, except for the cost of purchasing food & drink to satisfy one's appetite and thrist, most activities at SMU Campus Green are free-of-charge.





There will be various workshops at th Singapore Art Museum and Peranakan Museum.

If you are going for the event on 22 Aug 2010, visit from 12 p.m. - 8 p.m. For more details, visit: http://heritagefest.sg/

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Read: The Introvert Advantage

Title: The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World
Author: Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D.
Publisher: Workman Publishing, New York.

This book is one of my most recent reads. I have leart to make good use of the resources of the National Library Board to get me food for my soul and mind. Books are wonderful way to seek guidance from, and I could often learn at my pace.

I am an introvert. I am not shy, I am not anti-social. I just prefer to focus my energy inwards., As such, I may at many times be absorbed in thought, and I prefer to relate to life through ideas, impressions, hopes and values. That is what this book says. While this book isn't a book on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, I still find it a practical and thoughtful read.

It gave me some interesting ideas to strategies I could use to handle challenges at the workplace. One thing I have learnt from my own experience, and this was stated in this book is that it helps to be kind on myself when I do not criticise myself if I don't accomplish everything I have planned on a given day. I can just redivide the work into smaller sections over the next few days and keep working at it.

Another strategy that I have learnt from this book is that it can help an introvert cope better with interruptions by setting a time limit for every conversation. I also like the strategy of finding a hideout to think by excusing oneself to the washroom or a quiet corner of the office.


People who are not introvert can also find this book useful in gaining a good insight to the perspectives of an introvert. This book also shares about how extroverts and introverts can get along better with one another in both work and intimate relationships.

It is quite an accessible book to read for people who wants to learn more about people who are introvert.

The book has an official website as well and it is here: http://www.theintrovertadvantage.com

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tall tales, way above the ground level



On 14 Aug 2010, I had the great pleasure to be onboard one of the Expedition "H" tours organised by the National Heritage Board in conjunction with the Singapore HeritageFest 2010 event. I was lucky that I could get a place in the tour as there were very limited places available when I registered for the tour.

The tour has an interesting name: Tall Tales: The Lowdown on Singapore's Myths™. According to wikipedia, a "tall tale" is "a story with unbelievable elements, related as if it were true and factual". As such, at the beginning of the tour, I was prepared to be treated to a refutation of many myths. I felt greatly assured that I would have an exciting and educational tour since the tour was conducted by Journeys Pte Ltd, one of my favourite tour providers in Singapore. Tours like Expedition "H" are exciting for me as they allow me to visit various parts of Singapore as if I were a resident tourist.



The highlights of the tour were all located way above the ground level. On these places above the ground level, participants were told of the tall tales and more. If you would like to find out more about what was being shared, please consider checking if there would be any more vacancy to next Saturday's tour.

To respect the copyright of the creative work that the folks at Journeys Pte Ltd have put in, and to sustain the element of surprise for future participants of the tour, let me attempt to lend you a glimpse of my experiences of the tour without giving away any of the very interesting anecdotes and historical facts.

For the discerning and well-informed ones, you may have figured that one of the stops of the tour was the Fort Canning Hill. I think it is a nice place to enjoy both the beauty of nature and to learn about the history of Singapore. Although it was not my first time visiting the Keramat Iskandar Shah and the archaelogical dig at the Fort Canning Hill, it was always a fresh new experience for me to visit these places yet again. I had a good physical workout walking from one part of the Fort Canning Hill to another. Thank goodness that I was reminded to wear comfortable shoes.



I suppose that the Y Cafe at YMCA Singapore had foreseen how enthuasiastic the tour participants would be, and so as a generous gesture, the cafe served each of us a lovely sampler of some of their pastries: apple strudel, potato curry puffs and banana cake. There were free flow of coffee, tea and orange juice to go with the pastries.



My favourite stop was at the Labrador Park. We had the privilege to visit the Labrador Tunnels which was closed for some maintenance and upgrading works. The best part of this part of the tour was that participants get to listen to first-hand accounts from our special guest speaker, Mr. Jeya, about the research and work that he and his team has done, commissioned by the National Parks Board, on the Labrador Tunnels. Mr. Jeya is also a person whom I respect for starting the Original Singapore Walks, and for his work in making history fun and accessible to the general public.




We had the chance to walk into several of the underground tunnels and to see for ourselves the self-made destructions to one of the rooms of the casemate. In addition, we visited a six-inch gun position.

The next stop was a place that I had least expected to visit. It was The Pinnacle@ Duxton. Then again, after tuning in to the tour guide's account, I suppose it makes good sense to visit this building. Afterall, it is a tall building, and it is located at the site where the first two Housing & Development Board (HDB) blocks in that area were built. Furthermore, it is the first 50-storey public housing project in Singapore.


What tall tales did we hear about up on The Pinnacle? That I shall keep these confidential. I suppose only the participants of the tour and the tour guides may know what tales were told.

On the side, I was thankful that my very first visit to the roof-top of The Pinnacle was an extremely educational one. The anecdotes and historical facts that the tour guide had filled me in with were many times more interesting than all the sceneries I could see from the 50-storey roof-top. Anyway, I still took time to enjoy the lovely sceneries from the roof-top. By the way, under normal circumstances, access to the roof-top for non-residents of The Pinnacle would be $5 per person per entry.



At the end of the tour, I can certainly tell everyone that I had went for a value-for-money tour. For $18 per person, I was treated to a nice tea at Y Cafe, an entry to the roof-top of The Pinnacle, a special tour of the currently closed Labrador Tunnels (I learnt that the Labrador Tunnels will be reopened in Sep 2010), a visit to the Fort Canning Hill and lots of well-researched anecdotes and historical facts of Singapore. What more could I ask for?

Many thanks to the National Heritage Board and Journeys Pte Ltd for making this year's Expedition "H" tours possible. I have enjoyed myself onboard this tour.


***
Details to the Singapore HeritageFest 2010 can be found here: http://heritagefest.sg

For the explorers of Singapore, you may find details to the Expedition "H" tours here:
http://heritagefest.sg/content/1832/About_the_Tours.htm

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A visit to the Shanghai World Financial Centre



This is considered a long overdued post as I had visited Shanghai sometime in May this year. I shall attempt to focus on the essence of my short visit to Shanghai. For readers who wish to read about the World Expo 2010, please refer to my earlier posts, please click on this link.

It was 18 May 2010, after breakfast at the hotel, the tour group were led to the Shanghai World Financial Centre. It is an impressive skyscraper with three observatory decks. The skies were rather hazy during my visit and while I could not see much from the observatory decks, I suppose the thrill was to be on a very tall skyscraper.


Visitors have to take a few elevators and escalators so as to reach what is currently the tallest observation deck in the world, that stands at 474 m (1,555 ft) above ground level. If I could remember correctly, the Shanghai World Financial Centre is a 101-storey building.



I was most intrigued by the special glass panels at one of the observatory decks that allow visitors to see through whatever lies underneath. Such glass panels are made of specially reinforced glass. Each glass panels are very strong and can take quite a lot of weight.


To have an idea how hazy the skies of Shanghai were on that day of my visit, here is a snapshot that I had taken from one of the observatory decks. The building that is prominently featured in the above snapshot is the Jin Mao Tower.

As I am writing this post, I realised I was possibly looking at lots of clouds when I looked down from the Shanghai World Financial Centre. If not, I was probably looking at fogs created from the emitted gases from the industrialised Shanghai?

Whatever it is, I felt rather privileged to have made a visit to the Shanghai World Financial Centre. It housed one of the most modern looking toilets that I had ever seen in my humble life.I wonder if the Shanghai World Financial Centre was meant to showcase to visitors some of the latest technology in the world?


If I had known that there was a post office at the Shanghai World Financial Centre, I might have penned on a couple of postcards and sent some of them via post. Anyway, time was limited and I decided to use that limited time to catch some shots of the The Oriental Pearl Tower from the Shanghai World Financial Centre. To be honest, I was more fascinated with the beauty of the flowers nearby since visibility was low that day due to the foggy skies.


I shall consider myself very lucky to have visited one of the key landmarks of Shanghai.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Come and unwind at the CFA House Party 2010



The Centre for the Arts (CFA) will be opening its doors for the biggest party on NUS Kent Ridge campus. In this house party, guests can expect to be treated to performances by the various CFA arts groups. In addition, there will be food to satisfy the palate and the tummy at the Food Paradise bazaar. There will also be exclusive backstage tours of the University Cultural Centre.

Specifically, the NUS Symphony Orchestra will be performing Singaporean composer Kelly Tang’s Sketches of Singapore, an orchestral work that incorporates themes from familiar local tunes in an exciting and colourful medley in celebration of Singapore’s National Day.

CFA House Party, Music Showcase (NUSSO)
Date: 11th August 2010
Venue: University Cultural Centre Theatre
Time: 7.45 pm

Come and listen to us. Yours truly will be performing in this 10 - 15 minutes item.

(Source: http://nusso.org/155/cfa-house-party-2010)
(Also posted on d'Bassists.)

The mesmerising Bund of Shanghai

I shall continue to blog about my trip in May 2010 to selected parts of China.

After a day at the Xitang Water Town, the tour bus led us to Shanghai. Shanghai, I was told, is a densely populated city. One of the stops of the tour was Nanjing Road, which I was told is the main shopping street of Shanghai. I was not in the mood to shop and left the street pretty much empty-handed. It seems that one can find almost about anything in Shanghai as it is a global city where trade and commerce flourishes.

We had dinner at one of the restaurants in Shanghai. However, I can't remember the name of the restaurant. The company for dinner was great. In addition, there was enough vegetables served during the dinner to keep me very contented.



After the dinner, the tour group were led to The Bund (外滩). The night looked especially mesmerising when one is at The Bund. Many of the interesting architecture in Shanghai can be seen along The Bund. Our dear tour guide gave us a succinct account of the history of The Bund and many anecdotes. One of the anecdotes was about why the Old Bank of China Building in Shanghai did not become the highest building at the time of its construction. I beg your pardon that I was so caught up in experiencing the cool breeze at The Bund, that I did not memorise every single word that the tour guide has shared.


Many visitors to The Bund would also look across to the other bank of the river. The Oriental Pearl Tower
( 东方明珠电视塔) stood right at the other side of the river. One thing for sure, I realised that there is talents galore in Shanghai, and Shanghai is a very advanced and modernised city because of the talented people who have contributed to make it a success.


After the visit to The Bund, the tour group took a journey to a sub-urban part of Shanghai. Due to the World Expo 2010 held at Shanghai, most of the hotels in Shanghai have high occupancy rates. Whatever it was, I was contented to have a room to retire for the night.



Good night!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The endeavour to play beautiful sounds on the double bass

Double bass lessons have been inspiring. Listening to the beautiful sounds that my tutor creates on the double bass reminded me of the book Outliers: The Story of Success that JY had given me for my birthday. The magic for creating beautiful sounds on the double bass is simply hours of excellent practices.

My tutor shared with me his secrets to achieving such lovely sounds on the double bass: He keeps looking for a beautiful and loud sound on the double bass.

It seems that the sounds that I am creating on the double bass is improving with more practices. One of my dear friends encouraged me to record my double bass lessons so that I can review them more easily. That helped. I can now review my lessons for as many times as I could like to, and that helped gave me more feedback on my playing. Occassionally, I could listen to the recorded version of my tutor demonstrating how he would play selected passages, and that forms the benchmark that I will strive to achieve and even excel.

I shall constantly look for ways to play beautiful sounds on the double bass, and may these sounds soothe and revitalise the listeners.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Read: Showing Up for Life

Here is to share about a book that I had read a few weeks ago.

Showing Up for Life: Thoughts on the Gifts of a Lifetime
Bill Gates Sr.
With Mary Ann Mackin
Published in the United States by Broadway Books
ISBN 978-0-385-52701-9


When I was reading "Showing Up for Life", I felt I was reading a wise elder sharing about values and principles that had shaped his life. Some of the stories that were shared in this book were deeply personal and touching. It also shared about the kind of values that Bill Gates Sr has instilled in his children. I had a good and easy read, and a good time learning about the importance of hard work, learning about the value of teamwork and kindness and more.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an accessible read to learn about some of the important life's values and principles. It has been quite an inspiring read and I thank Bill Gates Sr for some of his life experiences in this book.

The book is nicely summed up with a quotation by Dr Rachel Naomi Remen in Kitchen Table Wisdom. Do read this book to find out how Bill Gates Sr had read about this quotation that goes:

Life is the ultimate teacher, but it is usually through experience and not scientific research that we discover its deeper lessons. We are all here for a single purpose: to grow in wisdom and learn to love. We can do this through losing as well as through winning, by having and by not having, by succeeding or by failing. All we need to do is to show up openhearted for class... So fulfilling life's purpose may depend more on how we play than what we are dealt. You have to be present to win.

It's quite a deep quotation honestly.