I have always fantasised about seeing a bell tower in a gothic cathedral, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame fantasy finally came true in 2021. I had a rare opportunity recently to view Singapore city from a different perspective, via access to Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall by climbing the iconic grand Clock Tower.
During a one-hour tour, I got to see the mechanism up-close and learnt more about the clock’s history and its role in Singapore for more than 150 years. I must say that the climb to the top of the Clock Tower was not an easy task – there were steep climbs and two cat ladders. It is important to wear comfortable walking shoes. Visitors were asked to wear safety helmets throughout the tour and slippers are definitely not allowed for safety reasons. Aside from the panting, the walk down the tower may be slightly unnerving for those with acrophobia.
At the top of the tower, I managed to soak in glorious city views while immersing myself in history. There, I was also greeted with five majestic bells, weighing about 5,000 kg in total. These bells have played the same Westminster jingle since 1905, chiming every 15 minutes. They complete the full melody every hour.
Most Singaporeans know that the Singapore Zoo is the big name when it comes to Singapore’s amazing wildlife parks, but if we are being honest, its sister park, the River Wonders (formerly known as River Safari, rebranded in October 2021), is totally underrated but absolutely perfect for a day out with kids – particularly younger kids.
I knew that I was in for a wild adventure when I accompanied my 5-year old niece (Janelle Teo) to River Wonders last weekend. My niece is a big fan of wildlife animals. She was very excited and had been looking forward to this adventure since a few months ago.
The River Wonders offers the best of both worlds with aquatic and terrestrial animals representing nearly 250 species, including one of the world’s largest collections of freshwater animals. The park is divided into two areas, halved by the Upper Seletar Reservoir. The first area called Rivers of the World contains the 7 “Rivers” – it features mostly sea animals like fish and crocodiles. At the end will be a bridge that will take you to the second area, which features mostly rainforest animals. The park is designed in such a way that you go through the first half through Rivers of the World, then make the return journey to where you started. To view the map of the entire park, click here.
If you are looking for a refreshing view on art, then street art is definitely the answer you need. Many have described it as intriguing, creative, and unhindered. As most of you are aware, I have always been on a lookout for interesting street art and raise awareness of them through my photo lens and blog writing. I love the thrill of discovery and that moment of personal appreciation and enjoyment in front of street art.
I have been advocating that street art is an important part of the identity of cities all around the globe, as it can help shape and define the sense of community and personality of a metropolis. There are many cities that already offer “street art tours” as graffiti and urban expression have already become relevant touristic attractions. Therefore, we cannot deny that this type of art is loaded with social, touristic, and even economic value, just like it happens with the work of Banksy, one of the most popular and sought after street artists of the century. Street artists create art out of their own creative need and to hopefully make us think as we pass their work.
Street art is also diverse. There are many different designs, styles, techniques, and types that help decorate the various surfaces that we see. Street artists come from different backgrounds, countries, and cultures. And with this, the birth of different forms of street art that dazzles and impresses me. I certainly appreciate street art and think it improves our urban areas.
Here's my latest Singapore street art photo series which are all found in Bukit Merah area. Does Bukit Merah make you think of anything? IKEA only? Take a trip down Jalan Bukit Merah and there is so much more than that. The art trail "Bukit Merah Diaries" by Brilliant Corners, is a part of the Arts in Your Neighbourhood programme organised by Singapore National Arts Council, to inspire people to explore this art trail in these neighbourhoods. I realised these murals were inspired by the residents’ childhood memories as I explored the neighbourhood. As a fan of street art, it’s my mission to understand the story behind every art piece that I come upon throughout my adventures. These street artists were invited to consider the residents’ memories and the history of the estate while creating their artistic response, giving new works of art in the neighbourhood. #dontsayinevershare
Reflection. A word that is wonderfully ambiguous. One of my favourite things to do when I travel is to go on a quest to find a body of water that has a reflection of a landmark. Photographing a reflection creates a unique image of an often photographed subject by adding interest and depth to your photograph.
Reflections show up often in the most impressive landscape photos. The iconic ones are beautiful snow-capped mountains with a lake in front acting as a mirror. But reflections are not only great for landscapes. Even in street photography or architecture, you can create stunning images with pools of water after a downpour. It is not difficult to find inspiration for reflection photography. Look for a river doing landscape photography, or wait for the rain to pass and search out puddles.
I took a scenic walk down memory lane with Singapore River recently as I have a special liking for this part of the Singapore River. Unconsciously, this is also one place that I would tend to go for some respite, or when I need to have time for quiet reflections during weekends. Furthermore, the colonial buildings nearby the area somehow have an attractive appeal to me. I simply love their designs, especially when being reflected along the mouth of Singapore River. Capturing a perfect reflection is harder than it sounds because any amount of wind at all will cause ripples and blur the surface of the water. I spent one whole day from early morning until evening to capture beautiful water reflections to form the collection below. The weather was absolutely perfect that day.