Thursday, November 29, 2012

Farewell to the house at 106 Joo Chiat Place


On 29 Nov 2012, I visited the house at 106 Joo Chiat Place that the late Ng Eng Teng had used as his art studio. Read the blog on my visit here: Farewell to the house at 106 Joo Chiat Place

Monday, November 26, 2012

One last time: Ng Eng Teng's studio at 106 Joo Chi...

The studio of the late Ng Eng Teng, will be opened to members of the public on 29 Nov 2012 (Thu), from 2 p.m. - 8 p.m. A bit more information can be found here: One last time: Ng Eng Teng's studio at 106 Joo Chiat Place.

The book test

You Are a Thinker
You tend to have your feet on the ground. You think about what's actual, and you love facts.

You are a sensitive person. You find it easy to be emotionally effected by books.

You are a person with many different interests. You are fascinated by everything in the world.

You are a person who loves to acquire possessions. You can't resist a sale, and you own a lot of things.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Read: Pictorial Biography and Pocket Guide: The Prophet of Islam MUHAMMAD



Title: Pictorial Biography and Pocket Guide: The Prophet of Islam MUHAMMAD
Author: Dr Husam Deeb
Publisher: ALNOOR Holdings

Recently, I had the privilege to read Pictorial Biography and Pocket Guide: The Prophet of Islam MUHAMMAD which was a gift that I had been received during a visit to the Sultan Mosque during this year's month of Ramadan.

Even though I am not a Muslim, I nevertheless found it insightful and inspiring to read about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his teachings that were the basis for Islam. I will recommend this book as a easy-to-read and very accessible introduction to one of the world's most influential persons.

Please also visit:
http://www.amazon.com/Prophet-Muhammad-Biography-pictorial-civilization/dp/0980727707
http://www.furqaanbookstore.com/pictorial-biography-and-pocket-guide-the-prophet-of-islam-muhammad.html
http://www.barakabazaar.com/products/MUHAMMAD-%3ABIOGRAPHY-%26-PICTORIAL-GUIDE.html

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Write a card to Santa Claus

Source: http://posti.fi/jpp/jpp_en/


Write a card to Santa and be delighted to receive his reply by post!

This is the address to write to:


Santa Claus’ Main Post Office
Santa’s Workshop Village
96930 Arctic Circle
Lapland, Finland

***
Experience the spirit of Christmas this year by writing to Santa Claus!

Does he exist? I do not have a full clue. However, I have learnt through a Facebook post by Cherished Moments by SingPost that we can send letters and cards to Santa Claus at the above-mentioned address. The delightful news is that he does reply himself!

Patience will be well rewarded with a reply from Santa. Please do be very mindful that since this is a very busy time of the year for Santa, one may not receive the letter from Santa on time.

Do you know that Santa Claus receives the most letters in the world? Perhaps this goes to show how beloved Santa Claus is. I learnt that all cards, letters and parcels sent from Santa Claus' Main Post Office are  franked with a genuine Arctic Circle special postmark.

To bring festive cheers to loved ones, one can even place an order for a letter from Santa to be sent to your loved ones, to be delivered by Christmas.

To learn more about the interesting Santa Claus' Main Post Office made of handsome natural stone and aged pine, please visit http://posti.fi/jpp/jpp_en/
and http://posti.fi/english/thepostsservices/salesnetwork/santaclausmainpostoffice/

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bali 2012

Ulu Watu.

This October, I visited Bali for a trip to be closer to Nature. I remember the interesting Barong dances, the gamelan ensemble music that I hear, the lovely natural landscapes and the interesting crafts of Bali.

Here is a list of the blogs that I have written on my visit to Bali this October:

In retrospect, the Barong and Kris Dances left a strong impression in me. I was intrigued by the presentation of the mystical and benevolent Barong. In addition, it was very enjoyable to listen to a gamelan orchestra playing live while watching the dances.

The Barong.


I also enjoy the magnificent beauty of the natural landscapes at Ulu Watu. Being there somehow has a calming effect on me.

The Bajra Sandhi Monument was one of the monuments that have somehow made me feel a sense of peace and tranquillity. It was a place with an air of dignity.

Food wise, while I was excited to find A&W root-beer and more in Bali, the fresh coconut drink from Bali has left a more positive impression. I also very much enjoyed the wonderful lunch at the Gong Dewata Restaurant at Kintamani mountain resort. 

Lunch with a wonderful view at Gong Dewata Restaurant, Bali.

Overall, although I was initially hesitant about visiting Bali over various places, I am glad to have made a trip to Bali to experience its interesting culture and to be welcomed by the hospitality of the wonderful people of Bali.

Many thanks to my friend who had been my travelling companion for this very trip to Bali. It's nice to have a friend to exchange ideas with.

Friday, November 16, 2012

10 Oct 2012: The Bajra Sandhi Monument and Denpasar

Bajra Sandhi Monument. Bali.

10 Oct 2012 (Wed):

After checking-out of the hotel, we met our tour guide yet again. The original itinerary indicated it was a free-and-easy day. However, due to some unforeseen delays in our schedule, our guide and driver had so generously agreed to make up for us a visit to the Bajra Sandhi Monument at the Niti Mandal civic centre. This was located in Denpasar, the capital city of the island of Bali. Denpasar is the largest city on the island. It is also the centre of commerce and governmental administration.

The Bajra Sandhi Monument
The shape of the Bajra Sandhi Monument looks like a Bajra, which is a Hindu priest's bell. It was built in the year 1987 and is opened by president Megawati Sukarno Putri on 14 Jun 2003. This is a monument that immortalizes the soul and spirit of the Balinese people's struggle at looking after, developing and also preserving the culture of Bali. In the face of capitalism and the evolving modern world, this can be loaded with challenges.

Bajra Sandhi Monument. Bali. The beautiful landscaped garden.

The monument was impressive and massive in its scale. It was relaxing to be simply there. At the monument, we saw exhibits that introduced visitors to the history of Bali. We had the chance to climb to the top of the tower. Women who are having their menstruation will not be allowed to climb up the tower.

The view from the tower.


During my visit to the Bajra Sandhi Monument, I was attracted to the interesting geometric patterns that were found on the structures. The fishes in the ponds at this place offered reminders for visitors to slow ourselves down to appreciate how the fishes swam along with the flow of the water.

Bajra Sandhi Monument. Bali.

Geometric patterns everywhere. Bajra Sandhi Monument. Bali.

I will recommend that visitors make time to visit this monument when they are in Bali. It is magnificent, beautiful and serene.

Places I cannot remember visiting: Monument of Puputan, Statue of four face
The tour package included a visit to the Monument of Puputan. However, due to the interest of time, I cannot recall having visited it. From my brief reading, I learnt that it is a bronze memorial located in the centre of the Puputan square. It is dedicated to those who have lost their lives in the one sided struggle with the Dutch.

I cannot recall visting the statue of the four face. This four-headed-god facing the four cardinal directions is said to guard the crossroads of Bali like many Catur Muka statues. This statue at Denpasar has finely balanced proportions and is the work of I Gusti Nyoman Lempad of Ubud. It was commissioned in 1973. I learnt that Catu Muka is a depiction of Brahma, the Hindu God of Creation.

At the Airport
After our visit to places of interest in Denpasar, we were given a lift by our tour guide and driver to Ngurah Rai, Bali's International airport. We thanked them for their hospitality and thoughtfulness.

At the airport. Bali.

At the airport, we decided to get some food and drinks before checking in our check-in luggage. That proved to be a good choice because it took quite a while to queue to check-in our luggage and  it also took a while to pay the required Indonesian Departure Airport Tax.

Lunch at Bali's International Airport.

Many of the shops at the Bali's International airport featured the local products. I was more excited to find a few good buys when I was at a bookstore in the airport. Certain titles were available at a much lower price at this bookstore than in the bookstores in Singapore.

Otherwise, there was not much things that were enticing to buy at the airport. Maybe it is just that I am not quite in the mood to shop that day.

I was more excited to find the mail-box to post a few postcards while I was at the airport.

Before we knew it, it was time to board our plane to find our way back to Singapore. It was a memorable trip.

The plane to take us home.

http://driversbali.com/denpasar-city.html
http://dwipatrips.com/wiki/dwipatrips.php?id=bali:landmarks:bajra_sandhi_monument
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_intervention_in_Bali_(1906)
http://baliexpat.biz/artsentertainment/four-faces-needed-to-face-balis-brave-new-world/
http://www.baliwaves.com/2009/06/i-gusti-nyoman-lempad/
http://www.balistarisland.com/Bali-Interesting-Place/Denpasar-Market.htm

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Places: Participating in Awaken The Dragon Project

A few days ago, I visited one of the two surviving dragon kilns in Singapore to take part in a clay-sculpturing workshop which is part of the Awaken The Dragon Project. Here is link to an account of my visit: Participating in Awaken The Dragon Project

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

10 Oct 2012: The morning adventure

10 Oct 2012 (Wed):

Kuta Art Market in the morning. Bali.

This was the last day of our tour to Bali. The morning was generally free and the decision was to explore Kuta.

It was too early to visit the Discovery Shopping Mall since it opens at 10 a.m. As such, we explored other parts of the Kuta area. I took notice of the street hawkers who were out for business in the early morning. Kuta looked totally different in the morning than in the night. My attention was also drawn to females praying in the morning. In Bali, the Hindu ladies seem to have the important spiritual role of offering prayers to the Gods.

Praying.

We had some snacks at the A&W restaurant located in the Discovery Shopping Mall in the late morning. Afterwhich, we explored the mall before heading back to the hotel.



May the photographs lend you a glimpse of our observations for that day.

One of the hawkers. Bali.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Read: The Universal Heart - A Practical Guide to Love

Image source: Amazon.com


Title: The Universal Heart - A Practical Guide to Love
Author: Stephanie Dowrick
Publisher: Allen & Unwin (2012)

Once again, I read another book by one of my favourite authors, Stephanie Dowrick. As I was reading, I felt as if I was learning from the wise guidance of a compassionate soul. This book, The Universal Heart, was first published in the year 2000. I was reading the 2012 edition of this publication which I had gladly gotten myself during my visit to Sydney earlier this year. I wish Singapore's book stores could appreciate Stephanie Dowrick's works more.

It took me more than a month to read all 444 pages of the book. In this book, Stephanie Dowrick explores how it is possible to live out our highest ideals and intentions in a life that is of love. Using her compassionate style of writing that has a psychological depth, she shows how we can live more appreciatively across all our relationships, including that with our own selves. I like the way she writes with such wisdom and compassion.

Some sections of the book got me thinking more deeply on issues that I had previously not given a deep thought on. I quite like the way that Stephanie Dowrick offers bite-size tips at the end of each chapter.

If it helps to give you a glimpse of the wonderful topics that were discussed in this book, let me try to list down the key chapters in this book:
1) Love generously
2) Know what is going own
3) Live encouragingly
4) Trust others
5) Listen Carefully
6) Value truth as your ally
7) Light up your shadow
8) Transform aggression
9) Relate as an adult
10) Every day, a new beginning.

This is a book to read to learn from a wise and compassionate soul. I find this book deeply thoughtfully and sets me thinking about the larger issues related to humanity. Even though it took me quite a while to read this book as I was reading it while I was commuting and waiting in the queues, I am very glad to read this book that encouragingly affirms that it is possible to live a life that is of love and worth living.

***
Also see: http://ebooks.avidreader.com.au/product/9781742695402

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

9 Oct 2012: Tanah Lot and so forth

Tanah Lot. Bali.

9 Oct 2012 (Tue):

In the late afternoon, we noticed there were 16 consecutive traffic police vehicles that had passed our tour bus. We were wondering what was the grand occasion. Several days later, when I was back in Singapore that 12 Oct 2012 was the 10th anniversary of the Bali bombings.

Anyway, when the couple on our tour group reached their hotel, it was yet another adventure for me and my friend who have chosen to continue with the tour. Our destination for that late afternoon was Tanah Lot.

Tanah Lot
Prior to my visit to Tanah Lot, one of my colleagues has told me that this is one of the amazing places in Bali to visit. Tanah Lot is a rock formation off the island of Bali. On the higher grounds of Tanah Lot sits a magnificent pilgrimage temple, the Pura Tanah Lot. During the low-tides, Tanah Lot can be easily accessible. I have learnt from experience of that very day that it would not help to wear track-shoes to Tanah Lot. Slippers or beach sandals may better suit the visit.

People walking across the shallow waters to get to Pura Tanah Lot.

When it was low tide, this was how shallow the water could be.

I learnt from my accompanying friend who had crossed to the island where Pura Tanah Lot had sat that in order to enter the temple, visitors have to first receive blessings with holy water, rice and so forth.



The views at Tanah Lot was pretty captivating. Other than the scenic views, I particularly welcomed the large and refreshing waves. I felt very blessed by what Nature has offered.

On this rocky promontory sits Pura Batu Bolong. Tanah Lot, Bali.

Further away, on a rocky promontory at Tanah Lot is a small Hindu temple named Pura Batu Bolong. It felt very inviting to enjoy the breezes of the Indian Ocean at that rocky promontory.

I was told that Es Kelapa Muda (chilled young coconut) is one of the refreshing drinks that one can enjoy during sunset at Tanah Lot. However, since my friend and I have had fresh coconut drink that afternoon for lunch, we gave the Es Kelapa Muda from Tanah Lot a miss.



I was rather attracted to hawkers cooking and selling barbecued sweet-corn along the streets near Tanah Lot.

The grand entrance to Tanah Lot.

Here is a tip for visitors to Tanah Lot, please be prepared to walk quite a bit to get there from the carpark.

Dinner at Bali Lezat
By the time when we reached the dinner place, the skies have darkened quite a bit. Dinner was at a place that offered Chinese food, seafood and Indonesian food. I like the vegetables especially. This is perhaps because I like to eat vegetables.



Bali Lezat
Jl. Raya Kuta No. 68 Kuta Bali, Indonesia.
Tel: (0361) 763097

***
Exploring Kuta Square and Kuta at Night
After our dinner, we requested that our driver and tour guide let us alight at the Matahari Shopping Centre. We were driven to the Matahari departmental store in Kuta Square although I was having in mind the Matahari Shopping Centre. Anyway, it proved to be a good enough choice since we knew how to walk from Kuta Square back to our hotel after our night-time adventures.

The streets of Kuta looked bustling with life at night. Compared to the sights of the streets of Kuta in the morning, it seemed that people who love the night will be handsomely rewarded with more interesting activities at night.

Get an ice-cream treat
Before heading back to the hotel, my friend and I each bought ourselves a Cornetto Ice-cream from a 24-hours convenience shop just opposite the hotel that we were staying. One of such serving of ice-cream costs only 6000 rupiah (about S$0.75). In Singapore, it would have cost much more.

That night, I spent some time writing a number of postcards. I wonder how long it would take for them to reach their recipients when I post them the following day.

References:
http://www.tanahlot.net/home/
http://wikitravel.org/en/Tanah_Lot
http://cori-postcards.blogspot.sg/2011/09/pura-batu-bolong-tanah-lot-west-bali.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/11/bali-bombings-10-years-on
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-12/thousands-set-to-remember-bali-bombings/4308848

Friday, November 02, 2012

9 Oct 2012: Beaches, Balinese Paintings and Bali

Tanjong Benoa Beach, Bali.

9 Oct 2012 (Tue): Our third day in Bali treated us with the beauty of the beaches and more. Our day began with a visit to Tanjong Benoa Beach.

Tanjong Benoa Beach
This beach used to be a fishing village and old dock. Development has led to it becoming a beach-side resort with various amenities. Perhaps if you were to ask me, I would prefer if it could retain its original charms. Maybe I could say so because I have a lesser preferences for water sports?

Anyway, the Tanjong Benoa Beach one place to enjoy water sports such as the Banana Boat, the Parasailing jet ski, fly fish. What is interesting is a sailing trip to Turtle Island by a glass-bottom boat which could be made possible at a fee that was published to be US$25 per person, minimum 2 pax. Our group managed to secure a discount since there were four of us that day. This is a place to bring the beach sandals.

Walking towards one of the glass-bottom boats. Tanjong Benoa Beach, Bali.

Turtle Island
Thankfully, instead of the usual track-shoes that I would usually wear during my visit to Bali, I was wearing a part of slippers when I was at Tanjong Benoa Beach. To take the glass-bottom boat, one would need to walk from the sandy beaches to the glass-bottom boat that was anchored a few metres away from the shore.  The ride on the boat was somewhat leisure and relaxing. Mid-way the journey to Turtle Island, the driver of our boat gave everyone in our group pieces of bread for us to feed the fishes. The glass-bottom boat allowed us to peer through the glass to observe the movements of the plants and fishes under water.

Walking towards Turtle Island, Bali, and looking back at how far I have walked.

In about half-an-hour, we reached Turtle Island. To get to the shore, we had to walk for about five minutes from the place where the boat was anchored. While walking to the shore, I tried to be fully present for this experience which I would rarely have. I became conscious of the sensations of my feet touching the sand. Somehow, it was therapeutic to walk to the shore.

One of the bats in Turtle Farm, Turtle Island, Bali.


At Turtle Island, we paid an admission fee of 10000 rupiahs each to get into the Turtle Farm. Here, we had the chance to get closed-up with turtles, bats, toucans, snakes and more. Under the watchful eyes of one of the keepers, I had my first experience having a snake touching me. Compared to having a snake touching me, it was a more pleasant experience to attempt to get a bat hanging from one of my fingers. Anyway, most of the animals in the Turtle Farm have been domesticated and are used to having interactions with human beings.

A toucan. Turtle Farm, Turtle Island, Bali.

Lunch at Warung Pencar Grill Fish and Sea Food
Our lunch was at a nicely landscaped place called Warung Pencar Grill Fish and Sea Food. My friend and I each ordered a plate of Ayam Bakar (grilled chicken) and fresh coconut juice. The Ayam Bakar has a nice grilled texture and a slightly sweet barbecued taste. It was served with kangkong. I enjoyed my Indonesian-style lunch at Warung Pencar Grill Fish and Sea Food.

Beautifully landscaped place for lunch at Warung Pencar Grill Fish and Sea Food, Bali.
Beverages were not included in the tour package, yet we gladly topped up 12000 rupiahs for our individual share of the fresh coconut juice. I learnt that it is common to add lime into coconut juice in Bali.

Ayam Bakur and fresh coconut juice.
Warung Pencar Grill Fish and Sea Food, Bali.

Warung Pencar Grill Fish and Sea Food
Jl. Pantai Padang Galak, Sanur, Bali, Indonesia
Tel: (0361) 8799904.


Balinese paintings
Upon the reminder of yours truly, our tour guide brought us to the Udiyana Art Studio after lunch to see Balinese paintings. However, unlike what the itinerary had suggested, it was too much to expect to hear about the history of Balinese painting at this art studio. Nevertheless, I was thankful for the chance to be acquainted with Balinese paintings.

Udiyana Art Studio
Jl. WR Supratman 327, Tohpati, Denpasar 80237, Bali, Indonesia
Tel: (0361) 461734.

Balinese paintings from Udiyana Art Studio.


Batik
Nearby the art studio, there was a wholesale centre for Batik. Here, we caught a glimpse of the production of Batik. My accompanying friend's interest in Bali had a positive influence on me. I found myself searching for a beach of Batik sarong to add to my wardrobe. Anyway, I did not find any at this Batik centre.

The art of making Batik.


**
Thereafter, the couple in our group requested to return to their hotel to rest. By that time, there was not enough time to visit Taman Ayun Temple. I felt disappointed to have missed visiting the Taman Ayun Temple that sits on a piece of nicely landscaped piece of land. One thing that I am aware about Taman Ayun Temple was that it is the royal temple of the Mengwi Empire, which I have limited knowledge of.

Our tour guide and driver took my friend and myself to Tanah Lot. It seemed a good idea to visit Tanah Lot in the evening somehow.

***
References:
http://bali-turtle-island.blogspot.sg/
http://www.tourguidesbali.com/tours/turtle-island.php
http://www.bali-indonesia.com/tanjung-benoa/
http://www.baliapollo.com/?page_id=234

http://www.balistarisland.com/Bali-Interesting-Place/Taman-Ayun-Temple.htm
http://fivelements.org/en/retreats-a-programmes/healing-journeys/journey-through-the-kingdom-of-mengwi



Thursday, November 01, 2012

9 Oct 2012: Exploring the streets of Kuta in the morning

The streets of Kuta in the morning. Bali.

9 Oct 2012 (Tue): On our own, my friend and I explored some of the streets of Kuta in the morning. While we were walking about the streets of Kuta, I found myself intrigued by women carrying items on their head. What a fine art of balance each of these women have.

Kuta Art Market.

We came to another part of Kuta Beach, and found ourselves at the Kuta Art Market. I shall offer you glimpses of what we saw that morning while exploring part of the streets of Kuta.

Kuta Beach.

One of the Hindu temples in Kuta.

One of the schools in Kuta.

9 Oct 2012: Scooters and motorbikes are a common sight in Bali. 

While I walked the streets of Kuta, I was appreciate the beautiful side of Bali even though it is different from my hometown of Singapore.

References:
http://www.bali-directory.com/all-about-bali/TraditionalMarket.asp
http://www.balifantastic.com/bali-island-information/vacation-guide/129-best-place-for-shopping-area-in-kuta-bali.html