Saturday, January 31, 2009

People to be grateful for. Part 7


I dedicate this very post to my loyal and faithful friend on blogland. As best as I recall, I came to know Mistipurple in Oct 2004 through blogging. Thanks to my blog-post I passed ABRSM Grade 7 which she had probably read by random chance and commented on. It is perhaps thanks to fate that Mistipurple and I got to know each other, and I am pleasantly honoured that despite the fact that I tend to write between the lines and make my posts at times hard to decipher, she has faithfully been around to read my blog from time to time over the past four years and more.

I greatly appreciate the kindness, support and encouragement that she has given me over blogland through the many kind comments she has left me. The power of simple words of kindness should never be underestimated. I thank Mistipurple for brightening many of my days with her simple acts of kindness.

I would also like to thank her for specially making time out of her busy schedule to support the concert The Butterfly Lovers that I had played in on 27 Jul 2005 just a couple of days before the orchestra went to Aberdeen for the Aberdeen International Youth Festival. I am touched by her generous gesture to help find supporters to attend the concert. Thank you Mistipurple for your kind gestures.

Mistipurple has been patient and understanding to me. During my very first lunch meeting with Mistipurple, I experienced painful cramps, and she did her very best to be helpful and accomodating to me. While I realised that she doesn't enjoy walking too much, she went along with my love for walking and so graciously covered miles and miles with me. Hopefully she can find delight in what I deem as beautiful: The sceneries that can be seen from the Esplanade's roof-top.

I thank her for her precious and thoughtful gifts of HEAROS earplugs. For yours truly who needs a lot of peace and space away from noises, those earplugs came very helpful when I have to go for road-shows or attend any function where there are speakers blasting away. I would like to thank her for the extra mile that she goes just to help me get a particular type of earplug that I had wanted. Her thoughtfulness is greatly appreciated.

Mistipurple has good memory. I am pleasantly delighted that she remembers that I like dark chocolate, and don't have an interest for milk chocolate.

Kind people like her deserve the best things in life. I wish her good health and enthusiasm. May life be gracious towards her and help her achieve success in her life.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Clarke Quay Eccentric Pub Walk

Taken on Read Bridge.

Friends and readers who know me well enough would have realised that I am an ardent supporter of The Original Singapore Walks' tours, conducted by Journeys Pte Ltd. I am proud to declare that I have been to all their existing walks. Possibly, I may go for the coach tours for my second time because I have a fascination with World War II history in this part of the world.

The Original Singapore Walks tours are not just educational but entertaining. I have yet to find any other tour providers in Singapore who can present succinct and well-researched history and heritage related information in such accessible manner, at such affordable rates.

It brings me a lot of pleasure to share with my readers here about the recent Original Singapore Walks tour that I went for. The walk was officially launched on 20 Sep 2008 and so I would consider it a fairly new tour. It has a pretty interesting name: Of Dali, Barley and Hadhramis. The name is so interesting, that I was all ears throughout the entire tour just so that I can pay full attention to figure out how the name of the tour was derived. I am pleased to tell you that I think I have more or less figured out the answer. If you want to know the answer, go for the tour and find it out for yourself please. For S$25 per adult, I think it is very value-for-money for all the interesting anecdotes and history facts that I get.

The starting point for this walk, which is basically a walk about the Clarke Quay area with visits made to two pubs, is at Clarke Quay MRT station, outside Exit E. I think I was so excited to participate in the tour that I reached the starting point pretty early and was the first participant to report for the tour.

A glimpse of Clarke Quay. Taken from Central.

It is not the objective of this post to share with readers what I have learnt on this tour. Afterall, I think it is so much better that readers go for the tour themselves and learn about the history of Clarke Quay directly from the tour guide.

What I shall attempt to share in this post will be the many lovely sceneries that I had seen while I was onboard this tour. I can say that while my eyes are often not on the tour guide, my ears were listening to her as attentively as I can. I wanted to learn, to learn more about this country of Singapore that I call my homeland. The best way to do so was to be attentive and interested. In addition, I shall attempt to share what makes this walk interesting enough to deserve my readers' patronage.

Heading towards Coleman Bridge.

Yet, before I can share about the lovely sceneries of the present, I decided it would be necessary to have an appreciation of how Clarke Quay had looked like in the past. However, I don't grow up in Clarke Quay and have limited impression how it had looked like. The best I could do given my limited resources would be to point readers to read this post by Vickoo titled Second 2nd-Shot - North Boat Quay In 1979 And Now. Vickoo mentioned that the place in his photo was actually called North Boat Quay. I wonder why people of my generation now refers to the same place as Clarke Quay? Could anyone please enlighten?

A post by Cornelius-Takahama, Vernon written in the year 1999 might have answered my question. According to this post, Clarke Quay stretches from Read Bridge at North Boat Quay to Ord Road/ Ord Bridge and right towards River Valley Road. It was named after Lieutenant-General Sir Andrew Clarke, the second Governor of the Straits Settlements.

Acknowlegment: This photo is taken from SGCool.
Ref: 2000-0682, NHB Collections, National Museum of Singapore.
It shows Singapore River and Boat Quay, with Fort Canning Hill in the background.
Clarke Quay is in the background too, and can't be seen clearly in this photo.
Early to mid 20th century, Singapore.

Anyway, if we were to compare what is referred today as Clarke Quay with how the very same place had looked like in at least three decades ago, we would see a stark difference. Nevertheless, some things remain quite the same. These, in my opinion, are: The large windows and doors of the godowns in the area, the height of Fort Canning Hill, and a couple of buildings in the area.

The redevelopment of Clarke Quay has given the area a major facelift. It is now managed and owned by CapitaLand. As I was onboard the tour, aside from appreciating the rich heritage of the area, I tried to savour the vibrant and colourful facade of Clarke Quay. Does present day Clarke Quay appeal to you?

Peddlers Walk.
There used to be a lot of peddlers along this stretch of pathway in the past.

I had walked across this fountain without getting wet.

One reason that I find worthwhile to go for this tour, Of Dali, Barley and Hadhramis, is that other than getting enriched with well-researched knowledge of the past, one gets very good discounts if one should decide to purchase drinks from the two pubs that the tour brought us to. Essentially, this tour is not a pub crawl, but it is a heritage-tour with an element that allow its participants to chill at the pubs at discounted rates. The best part for yours truly is that we don't just go to the two pubs to drink and to chill. Participants get to learn and acquire new knowledge while at the pub. I am pleased to share that while I was at the pub, I have learnt things that were new to me. For one thing, I have learnt about the people of Hadhramaut and how this group of people had been important in contributing to the development of Singapore during the earlier years.

A Middle-Eastern pub.
Marrakesh Moroccan Lounge & Bar.

Hummus and bread whose name I had forgotten.

Chilling out with refreshing glasses of cocktails at discounted prices.


Each participant onboard the tour could get a glass of beer of that size for $5.

By the way, inclusive in the price of my tour ticket was a tour of the Royal Selangor Gallery at Clarke Quay. Other than viewing the pewter wares displayed in the Pewter Gallery, visitors get to see the demonstration of Pewtersmithing. While we were at the Royal Selangor Gallery, we learnt about the founder of the Royal Selangor Pewter, Yong Koon, and the lady who was the wife of its founder.

Visitors get to try their hands on the art of hammering and knocking.

Concluding, I get to see a variety of interesting things while I was onboard this very tour, Of Dali, Barley and Hadhramis. If you would like to take a look at a building that used to be one of Tan Yeok Nee's houses, learn a bit about Tan Tye Place, find out what are tongkangs, hear about Whampoa's Ice House and enjoy the beauty of Read Bridge in the evening, this is a tour that is worth every bit of your consideration.

River House.

Read Bridge.

Read Bridge.

For more information about this tour, please visit: This is one tour that I would recommend to everyone who wants to enrich himself/ herself with knowledge while chilling out on a weekend evening.

(This post was adapted and first published under the same title at

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Read: Robert Cormier's The BumbleBee Flies Anyway

I have finished reading Robert Cormier's The Bumblebee Flies Anyway on the night of 26 Jan 2009. I am probably in a spree to read. There is so much out in the world for me to learn and to absorb, so that one day when time requires, I would be able to give good output that would serve a meaningful purpose.

The Bumblebee Flies Anyway is fairly descriptive and yet I find myself skimming through the descriptions. My preference is to understand the big picture and the general outline of the book. It still is taking me a while to figure out the key essence of this book. Perhaps the key message is about the significance for one to realise one's dreams and helping others to fulfill their dreams, even when circumstances are pitting against oneself?

I have found a sypnosis of this book from, and here it goes:
Sixteen-year-old Barney can't remember life before the Complex, an experimental clinlc. He knows he's different--he's the control subject. Then he uncovers a terrible secret about himself, a secret that drives him to fulfill his and his fellow subjects' ultimate dream. The Bumblebee must fly!

What about bumblebees? Why are bumblebees aerodynamically incapable of flying? According to what was written in the book, based on weight ratios to wing power and wind resistance, the bumblebee should not be able to fly. However, the bumblebee doesn’t know that, so it flies anyway.

I wonder: Would it be the case that when we don't give attention to our limitations, we will be more able to go againsts all the odds and realise our dreams?

To be frank, I still don't quite fully comprehend the author's style of writing and the embedded messages in this book. Possibly, this is because I seldom read fiction books, and I do find fiction books harder to read than non-fiction ones. Anyway, I am glad that I had read it. I have at least read one more fiction book. Yeah!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Adventures of the Old Jurong Line Part 4

In part 3 of this series of the adventures along the Old Jurong line, Chun See, Icemoon, Peter and I treated our eyes to visual art albeit in the places where they were not meant to be up on. While no train runs any more under the Teban Flyover, it appeared to be a site that allowed creativity to thrive.

After checking out the works of art that found themselves under the Teban Flyover, we walked back to Chun See's car and began the rest of our journey pretty much on his car. Occasionally, we would get out of the car to check out some landmarks and remnants of the Old Jurong Line.

This part of the journey was rather hard for me to grasp. Firstly, I do not drive and have not much idea where I was being driven to. Secondly, the Jurong area is a rather foreign part of Singapore to me as I have hardly visited that part of Jurong. As such, for the remaining of this post, I shall not attempt to explain too much about the Jurong Line. If any one who has some knowledge of the Old Jurong Line would care to comment and supplement this post, please feel free to share. Thank you.

Photo 1: This place used to be a railway crossing.

Photo 2: This objuect used to be part of a device that was used to create a barricade so that cars will have to stop themselves when it was time for the train to cross.

As best as I can make out from one of Peter's posts, there are three sub-branch lines ending points of the old Jurong Line. The three sub-branch lines of the old Jurong Line ended at:
1) Fishery Port Rd
2) Jalan Tepong
3) Shipyard Road.

Part of the objectives of our adventures that day was to visit the various ending points of the old Jurong Line. I don't know much about the history of the Old Jurong Line as yet, but I am glad that I had exposed myself to it anyway.

For lunch, we stopped at the former Jurong Ice Skating Rink. Everything there was new to me. By the way, Chun See found some very cheap pineapples that were selling at three for S$1.

After lunch, we continued the journey on the car. We came to somewhere in Jurong, and according to one of Icemoon's posts, the place was known as Jurong Port Rd. We witnessed, first-hand, the excavation of the railway tracks and sleepers.

Photo 3: Excavation of the railway tracks and sleepers.

I experienced first-hand how items from the past get excavated, removed, and gone they were.

Trying not to get into the mood for melancholy, I looked around and found what was possibly a traffic light meant for both vehicles and the railway train. Or was I wrong?

Photo 4: A special traffic light.

Back in the car, Peter, Icemoon and I tried to explain to Chun See who was waiting in the car about what the foreman who was supervising the excavation was asking us. We then continued the journey in the car. As best as I can remember, the car brought us to Jalan Tepong, near Fishery Port Rd. Here we found remnants of the Old Jurong line. We can no longer see the ending point that ended at Jalan Tepong.

Photo 5: A out-of-place remnants that we spotted near Jalan Tepong.

I overheard speculations that the Old Jurong line could have ran past this area (Please see photo 6) in the past.

Photo 6. Along Jalan Tepong.

We continued the journey, and occasionally, I seized my chance to take photographs while we were travelling on the car.

Photo 7: I can't remember what this place is.

While I can't remember fully all the details, I do remember that we had made a stop somewhere near Refinery Road. We saw railway tracks that were not straight, but bent (Please see photo 8). Peter suggested that the railway tracks were bent because we had seen the part of the track which the trains would use to change from one track to another.

Photo 8.

I was simply fascinated by having to experience a part of Singapore which I would normally not visit on my own. As the name of the area suggested, I saw oil refineries while we were near Refinery Road. After Chun See drove us once again at the area, we were ready to say bye to the Old Jurong Line. On the car, we also had the chance to drive across the bridge that joined Shipyard Road to Pulau Samulum. This bridge is special because Chun See had 'blew it' up during one of the demolition raids that took place when he was serving National Service.

At the end of our adventures, Chun See kindly drove the rest of us to Clementi MRT station before we parted for the day. While I still cannot fully make sense of the Old Jurong Line, I felt glad to be onboard this special journey. I felt I do have a lot more things to learn about my own country, everyday.

Related posts:
Adventures of the Old Jurong Line Part 3
Adventures of the Old Jurong Line Part 2
Adventures of the Old Jurong Line Part 1
Managing fears: I have conquered a bridge

Monday, January 26, 2009

People to be grateful for. Part 6

Paulaner Bräuhaus' Weissbier Tiramisu
Photo credit: Carcar.

I dedicate this very post to one of my dear friends, Mystic. I had probably introduced myself to her by making an origami paper crane for her when we first met years ago.

I am very thankful to find a friend in her. I thank her for being open to go along with my suggestions to get her to visit museums with me. I do not need a company to visit the museums. I am independent enough to visit museums on my own. Yet it will be meaningful to me if I could at least share with a good friend of mine how visiting the museums have enriched my life and have fascinated me.

I thank Mystic for being so generous with her time and being open-minded to visit the museums with me on several occasions. Together, we have visited the Singapore History Gallery (before it was closed for major renovation into today's National Museum of Singapore) and many exhibitions at Singapore Art Museums, for example, Rodin: A Magnificent Obsession, Fascination with Nature : Finger Paintings by Wu Tsai Yen, Ju Ming 2004 Singapore • Beijing • Shanghai *Blockbuster!, Convergences: Chen Wen Hsi Centennial Exhibition. When the National Museum of Singapore reopened after a major refurbishment, she went along with my suggestions to watch Hydromania, by Avanti Dislay even though it meant that she had to put up with sitting on grass. We also visited the National Museum of Singapore on another occasion simply because I had wanted to check it out. My words of appreciation to Mystic. She may not fully appreciate how much it has meant to me to share my fascination with the museums with close friends, so I shall state it here. Thanks Mystic.

I thank her for being kind and honest with me. I greatly appreciate her kindness and honesty. She has been constantly giving me honest feedback about myself so that I can grow better as a person from these feedback. The kind thing is that she does realise that I sometimes cannot assimilate good and honest feedback immediately, so she often makes her feedback to me more palatable by "sugar-coating" each of them. That way, I can mull over them, gradually working on areas that I can improve upon. At the very least, thanks to Mystic, for the past few years, my parents have not received unsolicited downright criticisms of their cooking from me, unless they were to ask me for any.

She has been most patient with me too. I think she was one of those few friends of mine who practise extreme patience when I was in extreme need for a sense of closure. It can be a task yet to be done or a proposed meeting that has yet been realised. My thanks to her for having put up with me on those. Recently, when I learnt from reading Looking at Type: The Fundamentals by Charles R. Martin that people with my personality type has a drive of closure, I do hope that over time, with that awareness, I can laugh and not take myself too seriously when I feel a strong need for closure over petty issues. That shall be good news for many, I hope?

My thanks to Mystic too for finding ways to encourage me to put my analytical skills to use. I don't know if she is aware that I have a love to intellectualise things, theorise and simply to analyse anything complex. Whatever it is, I am glad that she has given me plenty of chances to put my favourite skills to use. Thanks Mystic.

During the times when I had felt confused, down, lost and/or anxious, I am grateful that Mystic had make time to be there for me. Even if it had meant that she, on one occasion, had to meet me early in the morning, on her birthday and when she was down with a flu. That meeting was an important for me for I was in need to sort through my thoughts and feelings after realising I had failed for a music practical exams which I had practised and prepared conscientiously for. I appreciate the deep level of sincerity and care that she lends to her friends and family members. For that, she has been a constant inspiration to me when it comes to relating to friends and family members. In many ways, I have learnt from her how to be a good friend. Thank her please, if I have been a better friend now than I had used to be.

Last but not the least, I thank Mystic for her friendship, and for her accepting me despite my flaws. I am glad that I have found a friend in her.

This post is the sixth of this series "People to be grateful for".

Friday, January 23, 2009

Adventures of the Old Jurong Line Part 3

Welcome to the sequel to Adventures of the Old Jurong Line Part 2.

On 20 Dec 2008, by the time the group reached River Pandan, Preetamrai had to excuse himself. As such, he and Chun See found their way to take a cab to the Sunset Way neighbourhood where Chun See had parked his car. Icemoon, Peter and myself continued our expedition towards the Teban Flyover.

We walked, and we walked, and walked. It was basically green grassland. Soon we reached a vehicular bridge that you see in the photo below. There was a tunnel. I was told that the Old Jurong Line used to run through that tunnel. Icemoon had much earlier ventured this area on his own and he wrote about his adventures in one of his posts. The tunnel did look like a 'black hole'.

I was told that there wasn't much to see in that part of the tunnel, and I was also told that it is very muddy inside the tunnel. As such, we did not ventured into that part of the tunnel. Yet, we needed to do something and that was to get ourselves to the roads. The most convenient way was to climb up the slope to get to the vehicular bridge. So up we climbed. I felt a sense of achievement having climbed the slope. At least I was to some extent physically fit enough to climb up slopes. When I reached the pedestrain walkway of the vehicular bridge, I took a photo of the slope that I had climbed.

Along Jurong Town Hall Road, Chun See drove and met us at a pick-up location. Thanks to Chun See for his generosity and offer to give us a lift on his car for our Jurong Line expedition, we soon find ourselves at Teban Garden. We saw a group of ladies preparing for a Malay wedding that was to take place the following day.

Teban Garden estate.

We took a short break. Afterwhich, we were ready to embark on more walk along the Jurong Line. Remember the tunnel that I had mentioned earlier? The other end of the tunnel can be seen from the Teban Garden estate, if we have observant eyes.

If we could not see any sign of railway tracks, it meant that the tracks were buried under the grounds that we were walking on. It was a different world under the Teban Flyover. I learnt that squatters do exist in Singapore! In addition, creativity can thrive at places that I least expect.

Chun See has written a post titled Can you guess where is this place? and he showed a photo of graffiti wall-painting that we had spotted during our Old Jurong Line expedition. If it helps to lend you a sense of how creative people can get, even though those walls aren't intended to be for the expression of creativity, do look at the photograph below. I think whoever did the graffiti work has great talents and just need a proper outlet to express himself/ herself. Can our society provide the opportunities for these talented people?

With this photograph, I shall ask that you please stay tune for Part 4 of this series.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Adventures of the Old Jurong Line Part 2

On 20 Dec 2008, I explored the defunct Jurong Line with a few fellow bloggers. Subsequently, I blogged a bit about my trip along the Old Jurong Line. After I had published the post Adventures of the Old Jurong Line, Chun See shared with me copies of pretty old maps of Singapore that showed the routes that we had taken.

I may disappoint Chun See and readers by not including any sketch of the routes that we had taken while we were on our adventures along the Old Jurong Line. Anyway, I shall attempt to outline our route using words.

1) Meet at car park next to Clementi MRT station (Blk 324/326).
2) Drive to Sunset Way, and park car at carpark along Clementi St 14.
3) Walk across the railway bridge that ran over Sunset Way.
4) Walk across the railway bridge that ran over River Ulu Pandan.
5) Walk under a part of the Clementi Ave 6 flyover.
6) Walk under the Commonwealth Ave flyover.
7) Head towards Faber Terrace and walk under the Faber Heights bridge for vehicles.
8) Keep walking parallel to AYE until we cross the railway bridge that ran over River Pandan.
9) Continue walking till we are walking under the Teban Flyover.
10) Get back to the car and drive from Jurong Town Hall Road to Teban Carden.
11) Check out the stretch of the railway line under the Teban Flyover.
12) Drive to Penjuru Road/Teban Garden Crescent and check out the stretch up to Sungei Jurong. Parts of the traffic lights junction/gate still there.
13) Drive to former Jurong Ice Skating Rink for Lunch.
14) Check out the stretch of the railway that runs opposite the now demolished Tang City.
15) Check out Jurong Port Road and Tanjong Kling Road section.
16) Return to Clementi MRT station.

In my post, Adventures of the Old Jurong Line, I had written about the journey from 1) to 5). Look at the photograph just right below, we were approaching the Commonwealth Ave Flyover which ran almost parallel to the SMRT tracks that run between Jurong East station and Clementi station. I won't know that the Old Jurong Line had used to run under the Commonwealth Ave Flyover.

As we continued walking, Peter shared with me some interesting anecdotes of the Japanese invasion of Singapore during the World War II period. I was intrigued with this part of the history of Singapore that it was a pleasure to listen to Peter's sharing. Soon, we came to the Faber Heights bridge for vehicles. Did you notice the railway tracks that ran under the bridge?

The Faber Heights vehicular bridge. Do read Icemoon's post.

I shall not go into the details of how we trekked marshy, wet and soft grounds just so that we can be walking along the Old Jurong Line. It was an experience that I won't usually have. Anyway, as we trekked parallel to Faber Walk, we came across two domestic helpers who were trying to saw off the branches of a fairly large tree-like plant. What were they using to saw the branches? Mind you, they weren't using a saw. They were using a kitchen chopper! They said that was what was given to them.

Along the way, we saw pots of plants grown by the private-estate dwellers. Chun See tried to identify the names of the plants and told us their names in delight. We saw ginger plant and more. However, the most beautiful of all was found along the railway tracks.

I would say that morning glory is the most beautiful kind of flower that grew along the railway tracks. We saw not just one, but a number of morning glory along the Old Jurong Line. Did the railway track attract the morning glory?

Along the way, we saw a marker. I have no idea what it was meant to serve as. Does anyone have any clue?

We continued walking. I felt good about my physique that I was still able to manage such a long trek from Sunset Way to the part of River Pandan. Soon, we reached River Pandan (known commonly as Sungei Pandan) and there was a railway bridge to be crossed. For now, please enjoy the lovely sights near River Pandan, and the part of the railway that ran over River Pandan. This railway bridge that ran over River Pandan was by far the easiest to cross among the three railway bridges that I had crossed that day. It was simply because a boardwalk was built over this very railway bridge.

Icemoon has written an interesting blog post about our expedition group's adventures along the Old Jurong Line, and I would strongly recommend that you read his post Old Tracks, New Trail (3) - Track Excavation at Jurong Port Road.

In the meantime, please stay tuned to Part 3 of this series.