Sunday, September 30, 2012

Recollecting nostalgic moments from the past at Night Festival 2012

(Note: This blog is one of my entries to the Heritage 2012 Blog Competition
Recollect, reflect and reconnect with heritage, start blogging and stand to win attractive prizes. Entries must be submitted online before 11.59 p.m. on 1 Oct 2012.)

 Passion and energy would aptly describe the Night Festival 2012 that had just passed. I was mesmerized by the variety of interesting programmes that the festival had offered that I attended all the four nights. My experience of it was a mix of interesting visual experiences and nostalgic moments.

The light installation Mimoid II by Stephane Beve, Milosh Luczynski and Philippe Rizzotti on the building facade of the Singapore Art Museum combined seamlessly with the music composed by Vuk Krakovic and mixed and SFX designed by Ctrol Fre@k (Jeffrey Yue) to transform one of my favourite museums in Singapore into what seemed to me was a paradise out of this world.

As I walked past the Singapore Art Museum, I was reminded of how this very building had evolved from the former St. Joseph's Institution to an art museum. I wondered how it would have been to be a student studying in a school building that was located in the heart of the city area. Out of curiosity, I started rereading a blog titled Whispers of an otherwise silent world by an award-winning blogger, Jerome Lim. As I read his account, I painted in my mind the images of school children making their way to their schools. I imagined book shops with thriving business because in those days, the students will find their way to the book shops after their school hours. If I were a student studying in St. Joseph's Institution more than three decades ago, I would have looked forward to going to school every single day since there were so many beautiful buildings in the area.

It was rather interesting to realize how attending the Night Festival could have led me to reflect on a moment in past that I had never experienced personally. Somehow, I felt connected to an unknown moment in history.

Night Festival 2012. Singapore Art Museum.

The Armenian Street was one location that has led me to recollect moments from my past. One of the highlights of the Night Festival 2012 was the spectacular aerial performance named La Argentina - Fuerzabruta presented by Ozono Producciones (Argentina). The entire Armenian Street was filled with excitement. I attempted to capture the visually spectacular aerial performance from a distance and was grateful that the lenses from my simple point-and-shoot camera had captured a glimpse of the magical moments of the athletic dancer travelling in the air.

The excited crowd at Armenian Street.

Along the stretch of Armenian Street sits the former MPH Building. Originally known as the Methodist Publishing House when it was built in 1908, the building was later renamed the Malaya Publishing House. Today, this building is now known as the Vanguard Building. While making time to catch a glimpse of the performances named Night Painting | Cast in Light by Li Cassidy-Peet and Terry Wee, I fondly recall a time in the past when I would visit the former MPH Building to browse the books, buy interesting gifts and sniff the wonderful aroma of coffee and waffles.

To add to my quest for the nostalgia, I found two food stalls during the Night Festival that reminded me of the food that my parents had treated me to when I was a young child. Food has the power to trigger memories indeed!

The Putu Piring stall along the alley between the Substation and Peranakan Museum reminded me vaguely of a time in my childhood when I savoured Putu Piring during visits to night bazaars, otherwise known as pasar malam by the locals. Interestingly, I learnt from Singapore Infopedia that Putu Piring has the same ingredients as Putu Mayam, one of which is steamed ground rice flour. The joy of eating Putu Piring comes when the gula Melaka (palm sugar) in the centre of this rice cake snack oozes out at the first bite. The experience was heavenly as the gula Melaka melts in the mouth together with the bite of the Putu Piring.

Kurnia Putu Piring stall.
Putu Piring.

The Putu Mayam stall along Stamford Green reminded me of a time in my childhood when I was occassionally treated to this interesting snack that was made from steamed rice flour that had been pressed into noodle forms and served with granted coconut and sugar. I was not too keen with the vermicelli-like rice noodles. It was the grated coconut and the sugar that had interest me when I was a child. When I was a child, the Putu Mayam that I had was served flat like pancakes. It therefore intrigued me when I saw that the Putu Mayam that I had ordered at the Night Festival was served like a roll of spring roll.

Stamford Green and the traditional food stalls.

Putu Mayam.

Putu Mayam.

Overall, the fifth installment of the Night Festival has not only delighted me with the many spectacular light installations and exciting performances, it has in its humble way touched me with a mood for nostalgia. As I reflect on my memories from the past and recollect moments in history that I had not personally experienced, I felt a little more rooted to Singapore, a place I call my hometown.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Raffles' Letters: Intrigues behind the Founding of Singapore

There is one exhibition to consider especially if you are interested in the history behind Sir Stamford Raffles' Founding of Singapore. Read about my experiences at the exhibition, Raffles' Letters, here:
Raffles' Letters: Intrigues behind the Founding of Singapore. So intriguing that I would make more visits.

Raffles' Letters:
Intrigues behind the Founding of Singapore.
29 Aug 2012 - 28 Feb 2013.
10 a.m. - 9 p.m.
National Library Gallery, Level 10.
National Library Building.
100 Victoria Street, Singapore 188064.
Free Admission.

Official website:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

26 May 2012: The Anzac Memorial

Taken on 21 May 2012.

ANZAC Memorial, Sydney.

26 May 2012 (Sat): This was the day when I was taking a flight back to Singapore. In my heart, I knew that I would miss my friends, the ferry rides and the fresher air in Sydney.

On my way to collect my luggage from the hotel, Travelodge Sydney, I passed by the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park. I estimated that I had less than half-an-hour to get myself acquainted with the memorial. A wonderful memorial like the ANZAC Memorial deserves more of my time. However, being ignorant as a tourist, I gave it less than half-an-hour. This meant that perhaps sometime in future, should I visit Sydney again, I could set aside more time to visit the ANZAC Memorial.

The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. In 1915, during the first World War, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula with the main objective of capturing Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire. During that time in history, Australia and New Zealand were dominions of the British Empire. The Ottoman Empire was an ally of Germany. On 25 Apr 1915, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed at Gallipoli. During the eight-months campaign at Gallipoli, there were heavy casualties.  25 April subsequently became the day which the Australians and New Zealands remember the sacrifice of those who had died in the war. I remember reading in some history books that the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps had fought bravely. The day 25 April became known as ANZAC day.

On the first anniversary of the landing of the Australians at Gallipoli, a fund was opened to raise a permanent memorial to those from New South Wales who served in The Great War (now known was the first World War) from 1914 - 1918. In 1923, there was a suggestion for the memorial to be erected in Hyde Park. The ANZAC Memorial at Hyde Park Sydney was officially opened on 24 Nov 1934.

While I was aware of the significance behind ANZAC day, I was clueless how to appreciate the architecture and design of the ANZAC Memorial. I was simply awed by one of the sculptures that I saw within the compounds of the memorial. There was a solemn sense of dignity and melancholy.

It looked like I would have to visit the ANZAC Memorial again in the future so as to better appreciate the courage and sacrifice of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps better.

Odd it may seems, I had walked past the ANZAC Memorial more than thrice during my visit to Sydney in May 2012, but I had only stepped into it on the last day of my visit. Could this be a sign to tell me that I have to learn to appreciate what is around me at a deeper level?

ANZAC Memorial. Taken on 20 May 2012.


ANZAC Memorial 
Hyde Park Sydney
Tel: +61-2-9264-2039

The Memorial is open every day, except Good Friday and Christmas Day, from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m
Entry is free of charge.

Nearest train station: Museum.

Also visit: Sydney, May 2012: A time to heal and to be inspired

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pancakes delight at Batter Fluffy Flaps

Juicy Beefy Patty, from Batter Fluffy Flap.

Thanks to one of my friends, JY, I was introduced to yet another food establishment in Singapore that was new to me! We headed for our mini adventure at 89 East Coast Road, #01-01 on a Friday evening. The food establishment has an interesting name called Batter Fluffy Flap (BFF). It is a place for pancakes and various beverages.

I was particularly impressed by the interior decor of the place. Although the style of the interior design at Batter Fluffy Flaps did not suit my preferences, I thought that it was thoughtfully done to make the place inviting and welcoming for guests to catch up with their friends over pancakes and beverages. As its name may suggest, it is not just a place for fluffy pancakes, it is a place to chill with Best Forever Forever or Best Family Forever.

The mascot.

The center of attraction at Batter Fluffy Flaps appear to be the adorable looking sheep mascot. I could not help but take photographs of it from various angles. While I was there, I observed that a number of the guests would find time to pose with one of the images of the sheep mascot.

Batter Fluffy Flaps reminded me instantly of Pancakes on the Rocks that I had visited in Sydney. I have written about my visit to Pancakes on the Rocks here: Breakfast at Pancakes on the Rocks. It caught me by pleasant surprise to realize from an article on after my visit to Batter Fluffy Flaps that the founder of Batter Fluffy Flaps "during a visit to Australia, ...was surprised to see queues of people outside the Pancakes on the Rocks restaurant in Sydney. It convinced her to try and fill the void in the pancake market in Singapore..."

When I was at Batter Fluffy Flap, I chose to order one of the signature savoury pancake dishes. Please take note that the savoury pancakes from BFF would usually take about 15 minutes to serve. The sweet pancakes, however, seem to require less time to serve. My dear friend ordered another signature savoury pancake dish from the menu.

Mushroom and Tiger Prawns. Batter Fluffy Flaps.

Generally, the portions are adequate. I felt satisfied and full after eating my meal. I had the Juicy Beefy Patty. The savoury taste of the beef patty, sliced cheese and egg blended harmoniously well with the lightly sweet fluffy pancakes. I would like it better if the pancakes could be served warmer than it was. That way, the butter would nicely melt on the pancakes.

BFF Signature Caramel Date.

The BFF Signature Caramel Date is worth a try. Even though I am no coffee lover, I could attest to the fact that the fragrance from the caramel syrup was heavenly that I gladly finished my entire cup of BFF Signature Caramel Date.

In conclusion, the ambience at Batter Fluffy Flap makes it a cozy place to chill with friends and family members. I would be open to visit Batter Fluffy Flap again. As for the pancakes, I am very biased and would prefer the pancakes from Pancakes on the Rocks at Sydney! Then again, until I find pancakes as good as the ones from Pancakes on the Rocks at Sydney, I am willing to consider a visit to Batter Fluffy Flap if I have a very strong craving for savoury pancakes. I am personally not keen on sweet pancakes, so I shall give these a good miss.

Pancake lovers, if you have tried the pancakes from Batter Fluffy Flaps, I would be keen to hear your views.

Batter Fluffy Flaps
89 East Coast Rd
Tel: 6440 7071

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Scenes From Yesteryear by NUS Symphony Orchestra

Image credit: NUS Symphony Orchestra.
You are cordially invited to:

Scenes From Yesteryear by NUS Symphony Orchestra
29 September 2012 (Sat)
6 p.m. 
Free Admission
National Library Building, NLB Plaza
100 Victoria Street, Singapore 188064
Standing room only.

1. Beethoven – Symphony No. 5 (1st and 4th movements)
2. Rossini – William Tell Overture
3. Saint-Säens – Danse Macabre
4. Johann Strauss II – Voices of Spring
5. Dvořák - Slavonic Dance in G minor

This concert is part of ExxonMobil Campus Concerts. For more info, please visit:

Scenes From Yesteryear by NUS Symphony Orchestra

Saturday, September 22, 2012

26 May 2012: Ferry rides and a visit to Milsons Point yet again

26 May 2012 (Sat):
It was the day when I would leave Sydney to return to my hometown, Singapore. Time flew.

One of my favourite activities in Sydney was to take a ride on the ferry. After breakfast, I headed for Circular Quay and took a ferry to Milsons Point. It was a pretty difficult choice. I would have preferred to visit Watsons Bay. Yet, after analyzing the ferry schedules, Milsons Point was a more practical choice due to the practical constraints involved. That day, there were a number of disruptions to the train routes and a few of the train stations in the city area were not in operation. This meant possible delays in travelling time. I did not wish to risk being late to catch a plane back to Singapore and so I needed to make sure I had more than enough time to return to the hotel and to travel to the airport in time to catch my flight.

I was waiting to board the ferry.
You could tell where I was sitting on this ferry from this photograph.
Circular Quay. Taken from the ferry.

One of the beautiful views from the ferry.

Milsons Point! There I was again!

I took time to enjoy the beauty of Milsons Point. It was high tide when I was there. I saw an interesting ship with a design from the past.

I was mindful that the next ferry back to Circular Quay was at about In my anxious efforts to save some time so that I could explore more of the city area, I decided to take a bus to Milsons Point train station instead of taking the 10.53 a.m. ferry back to Circular Quay. When I reached the Milsons Point train station, I was in time to catch the 10.40 a.m. train to Wynyard station. However, while I was double-checking whether it was the right train to take, the train was ready to leave, and I had missed the 10.40 a.m. train. The next train came close to half-an-hour later. I end up not saving much time in the end.

An interesting ship sighted from Milsons Point.

My lessons learnt: Forget about saving time or doing as much things as possible. Stick to doing what I love, and just do it. At the end of the day, even though I may take a longer time and may do lesser things, I get to do the things that I love (in this case, it was taking rides on the ferry). Forget about taking short-cuts if it does not involve doing things that I enjoy.

Thankfully, I quite like the train rides. Yet, I prefer the ferry rides well better. A lesson that is vividly learnt shall be remembered for a longer time.

At Milsons Point train station.

On my way to the hotel, I visited one of the Darrell Lea Chocolate shops. The chocolates from Darrell Lea are delicious, and may Darrell Lea somehow overcome its challenges in sales and thrive.

Maybe the secret to overcoming the challenges was simply to go back to doing things out of love and forget about shortcuts?

Milsons Point,_New_South_Wales

Nearest train station: Milsons Point.
Nearest wharf: Milsons Point/ Luna Park

Also see:
25 May 2012: A morning at Milsons Point
16 Nov 2010: The peaceful Milsons Point
19 Nov 2010: Back to Milson Point and the evening stroll

Also visit: Sydney, May 2012: A time to heal and to be inspired

Friday, September 21, 2012

Yet another Changi Museum War Trail: End of Empire

Kranji Memorials. Designed by Colin St. Clair Oakes.

For reasons I could not figure out, I felt an urge to attend the tour titled End of Empire - Singapore 1942™ (Battlefield Tour), A Changi Museum War Trail™ by The Original Singapore Walks about a week ago, on 12 Sep 2012. I had considered revisiting this tour since this year was the 70th anniversary of the fall of Singapore.

I was very pleased with my decision to go for this tour. The tour rewarded me with a much deeper appreciation of a part of my country's history, a needed break from the usual routine, the convenience to visit Mount Faber, Labrador Park and the Kranji Memorials on a weekday afternoon, and the company of wonderful people. Within the short duration of about 3.5 hours, I was rewarded with a meaningful and fulfilling tour of my country. This is one tour in Singapore that I would strongly recommend for anyone who would like a deeper appreciation of WWII history in the Southeast Asia region, specifically the then Malaya and Singapore.

A mural at Mount Faber depicting moments from the past.

Coincidentally, it turned out that I attended the tour on the 67th anniversary of a significant and related event. 67 years ago, on 12 Sep 1945, the Japanese surrender ceremony was held at the Municipal Building of Singapore (now known as the City Hall). That surrender ceremony official ended the Japanese Occupation of the Southeast Asia. (For more information, please refer to Singapore Infopedia: Japanese surrender.) This piece of information was perhaps an affirmation of my decision to attend the tour out of the blue.

The view from Mount Faber.
Keppel Harbour used to be located where Reflections at Keppel Bay now stands.
The island on the left is Sentosa.

Meeting point
The tour's meeting point was at Little India MRT station. From the starting point, our hospitable guide took us on a bus-tour which seemed to be a journey that took us to explore a significant part of Singapore's past.

The stunning view from Mount Faber
Our visit to Mount Faber offered a stunning view. Yet, it was the rich stories behind the significance of Mount Faber in the defense of Singapore that intrigued more. I felt thankful that our guide presented a complex part of Singapore's history in an accessible way and entertaining way. If this topic seems to interest you, do go for this tour. You are likely to love it like I did.

Labrador Park. Casemate.
Memories of Labrador Tunnels and more
One of the other highlights of the tour was the stop at Labrador Park. The casemate and the Labrador Tunnels were still closed to the public during the time of my visit. While I was at the casemate, I fondly recall one of my previous visits to the Labrador Tunnels when it was launched in 2005. Although I did not get to visit the Labrador Tunnels, my visit to Labrador Park helped me to better appreciate the kind of jungle terrain that the Allied forces (and the Japanese forces) would have to fight in seven decades ago. It was clearly not a friendly place to fight a war in the tropical jungle.

Labrador Park. This is one place where you can find a real 6-inch gun barrel. 
The view from Labrador Park.

A drive past the Alexandra Hospital 
During the tour, our bus drove past the Alexandra Hospital. I felt heart-wrenching to hear one of the most horrifying massacres that had taken place just before the the Japanese Occupation. It was a poignant reminder of the value of peace, and the deadly price of war.

A glimpse of Alexandra Hospital.

Kranji War Cemetery and the stories of the war heroes
Another highlights of the tour was the visit to Kranji Memorials. The interesting design of the War Memorial also left an impression in me. The Kranji War Cemetery is managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It is known locally as the Kranji Memorial.

There, our guide uncovered interesting stories of war heroes and heroines who were commemorated at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery. Some of these stories reflect the exemplary qualities of the human spirit. I was rather impressed by the amount of care that went into the Cemetery and Memorial Register so that the locations of the graves of the fallen soldiers could be traced with relative ease. These fallen heroes and heroines shall have their name liveth for evermore.

Kranji War Cemetery.
The Stone of Remembrance that bears the words "Their Name Liveth For Evermore".

The Cross of Sacrifice.

This is the resting place of Private Breavington who was involved in the Selarang Barracks Incident.

The Cemetery and Memorial Register at the Kranji Memorials.

I have found a sense of solitude and tranquility at the Kranji War Cemetery.

Suggestions and tips for visitors
Overall, this is an educational and entertaining tour for anyone who has an interest to learn about WWII in this part of the world. I strongly recommend this very tour, i.e. End of Empire - Singapore 1942™ (Battlefield Tour), A Changi Museum War Trail™, to everyone who has the intention to attend or has attended the tour Changi WWII™, A Changi Museum War Trail™. These tours complement one another perfectly well! Many thanks to the people from Journeys Pte Ltd for putting this interesting tour together.

Of course, if attending both the tours cannot be made possible due to time constraints, it is still equally wonderful to attend either one of the two Changi Museum War Trail tours.

Reservations are strongly encouraged for this tour. It helps to make reservation at least a day before the actual tour. It would help a lot to be dressed to do some walking even though this is a bus-tour. There are some parts of the tour which would involve some climbing some stairs. Yet, rest assure that not climbing the stairs will not affect the overall experience of the tour. Our tour guide was observed to be helpful to provide alternative options to guest who prefer to miss climbing the stairs.

It helps to bring sunblock lotion, mosquito repellent, and a bottle of water to the tour. Wearing a comfortable pair of shoes will make the feet keep themselves happy throughout the entire the tour.

Last but not the least, enjoy the. Delight in the companion of the guide and the other guests.

End of Empire - Singapore 1942™ (Battlefield Tour)
A Changi Museum War Trail™
Tel: 63251631/ 62142451

Please also read a related post that I have written a month ago: Changi Museum War Trail, my experiences.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

20 May 2012: A quiet night at Milsons Point

20 May 2012 (Sun):

After I have had dinner at Taste of Shanghai, I took a public bus to Circular Quay. From Circular Quay, I took a ferry to Milsons Point, Luna Park.

Strangely, it was very quiet at Luna Park. There was hardly anyone there at Luna Park. There was a sense of melancholy. Luna Park Sydney is a well-restored 1930's amusement park. It was first opened in 1935. The Ferris Wheel of the Luna Park is so iconic that almost any one in Sydney would have instantly recognize Luna Park just by the Ferris Wheel.

Nevertheless, I felt a sense of peace while I strolled about Milsons Point. It was a rather cold night. Thankfully my clothes were warm enough to keep me warmed.

I shall share with you a few photographs of Luna Park in the hope that it would interest you to seek joy in the amusement activities there.

Luna Park Sydney
1 Olympic Drive, Milsons Point, NSW 2061, Australia.
Tel: +61-2-9922-6644

Also visit: Sydney, May 2012: A time to heal and to be inspired.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hyde Park Sydney

Archibald Fountain, Hyde Park, Sydney.

During my visit to Sydney in May 2012, I stayed in Travelodge Sydney at 27 Wentworth Avenue. The location of the hotel is within walking distance to Hyde Park, Sydney. As such, almost everyday, I would find myself walking through or walking past Hyde Park, Sydney. I felt calmed by the greenery in the park. The park reminded me that it was possible to find a healing space even in the urbanized city of Sydney.

Hyde Park, Sydney. In the morning, people would be seen exercising in the park.

The name, Hyde Park, immediately reminds me of the Hyde Park in London. I learnt that Hyde Park in Sydney was named after the original Hyde Park in London. I suppose when the European settlers build their homes in Sydney, they had wanted to build a recreational space that would in some ways remind them of their hometown up in the Northern hemisphere?

St Mary's Cathedral.

There are many interesting monuments that visitors can find at Hyde Park, Sydney. Most visitors will not miss the Archibald Fountain that was designed by François-Léon Sicard and donated by J.F. Archibald in 1932 in honour of Australia's contribution to the Great War (WWI) in France. At the southern end of the Hyde Park is the ANZAC Memorial  which was a memorial to those from New South Wales who had served in the Great War from 1914 - 1918. There are other monuments and what a visitor would need is simply the curiosity and perseverance to look out for these monuments and learn about their significance.

ANZAC Memorial, Sydney.
One of the reasons for me choosing to stay in a hotel that is near to Hyde Park was to be as close to gardens and Nature even in  the city of Sydney. In addition, around the boundaries of Hyde Park, Sydney, are interesting museums and buildings such as the St Mary's Cathedral, the Australian Museum, the Hyde Park Barracks and more. These were buildings that I would like to visit if time permits. During my visit to Sydney in May 2012, I had some time to visit St Mary's Cathedral. However, it looks like I would have to visit the other museums in the future.

Nevertheless, please join me to browse through a few images of parts of Hyde Park, Sydney, and enjoy the beauty of this green gem in the Sydney city.

Perimeter of Hyde Park, with St Mary's Cathedral in the background.

Hyde Park, Sydney.

Hyde Park Sydney
Nearest train stations: Museum, St James.