If you have been following my blog for a long time, you'll know that I travelled to Hong Kong faithfully every year for street photography (before the COVID-19 conquered the world), as often as twice or even thrice a year. I get asked all the time why I love Hong Kong so much, and I have a hard time explaining it. I don’t know, I realised I’m all over the place, because I can’t actually put into words why I love Hong Kong. And I think that’s actually what makes travel beautiful. If I could put into words what I love about it so much, then it could be experienced “virtually” and there would be no need to visit at all.
If your memory serves you well, I wrote a commentary about the iconic pawn shops in Hong Kong after I returned from a trip there in October 2017. Pawnbroking in Hong Kong has a history as long as that of the city itself and are situated in almost every district of the city. Click here to read my photo commentary if you had missed it.
A whisky specialist cum collector based in Hong Kong, Mr Freeman Ho contacted me via Facebook in February this year, offered licensing fee to obtain one of my Hong Kong pawn shop photos as whisky label, so I agreed. He read my blog and felt that the photo is very nostalgic and serves the purpose of a personal whisky collection which he had created with his group of friends. I supported his passion and felt it was a pleasure to help other people in their passion, while I pursue mine at the same time. Today I finally received the Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky in Singapore shipped from Hong Kong ! I placed the whiskies against the backdrop of a Mona Lisa pop art poster at home, and fancy seeing Mona Lisa tasting it :) The whiskies are exclusively for sale in Hong Kong only.
As announced in November 2020, each eligible Singapore citizen received $100 worth of vouchers to spend on any approved hotel stays, attraction tickets and tours, as part of the SingapoRediscovers Vouchers ("SRV") scheme. The SRV scheme started in December 2020 and will expire in end June 2021. With just two months left to use the SRV vouchers, have you redeemed yours ?
I understand that not every attraction may inspire you to go out there and rediscover Singapore but there are actually nice tours and plenty of hidden gems to appreciate about Singapore. For me, I surfed the Klook website for almost an hour, and I finally clicked the button to select on a Limousine City Tour to experience sitting inside the luxury car and having everyone’s eyes on my entry is something I would love to have. The Limousine City Tour which was organised by Royal Wings Travel took place last week. Luckily it was not raining that day and I must say the whole experience was smooth sailing and enjoyable !
Everyone dreams of riding in style and luxury and wants to get it fulfilled. Limousines are superb luxury cars that are designed exclusively to give a ride to make anyone feel like a celebrity. If you want to enjoy a luxuriously comfortable ride, think no further than a limousine. No other car can match its level of elegance and style. Some people may think that traveling in a limousine is just about getting from one point to another. From the outside, it may seem that limo is just another vehicle with an extended body. However, a look inside this car told me that it offers much more than a spacious interior. The amenities fitted inside a limo make sure that traveling experience of this vehicle is nothing short of first-class.
Also, who would actually get the chance to really sit in a limousine as compared to other types of vehicles? Riding in a limousine is a luxurious, breathtaking experience, so I would like to encourage all of you to consider pursuing this opportunity, if you have not redeemed your SRV, because why not, right? We might not be able to leave Singapore’s borders for leisure right now, but there is no reason why we cannot bring that sense of adventure into our explorations of this little red dot to gain a travel experience of a lifetime.
HDB Colour-Coded Directions Signs as Wayfinding For Dementia Friendly Community in Yishun, Singapore
A series of community initiatives has recently been implemented to make some of the neighbourhood estates in North Singapore more dementia-friendly. For the people staying in North Singapore, did you notice that the facades of some Housing Development Blocks in high-traffic areas near Yishun (a.k.a. Nee Soon) were painted recently with striking colours and symbols?
Similar to zoned carparks, the blocks feature icons - pineapples for red blocks, fish for blue blocks and rubber trees for green blocks. Block numbers were painted prominently on the sides of the blocks and their pillars. The colours stand for different zones in the neighbourhood, comprising Blocks 837 to 850 Yishun Street 81/82. They are part of an effort in making the area more dementia-friendly, in other words, to better help persons with dementia find their way around the neighbourhood.
Persons with dementia often find it difficult to navigate even their own neighbourhood, and risk losing their way. Mature residential environments are especially difficult for wayfinding due to high-rise almost identical height buildings. One promising intervention to make an environment more supportive for wayfinding is to enhance it with salient cues, especially since many environments that seniors inhabit lack salient environmental information. Salient cues are those that grab the user’s attention and stand out from the surround such as a large brightly illuminated statue. The rationale for using salient cues is that they address the problem of wayfinding both visually and cognitively. Visually, salient cues can stand out from the surround, attract the wayfarer’s attention, and are more likely to be seen by the aging eye.
If a person with dementia were to ask for help, or if somebody were to find him looking lost, even if he cannot remember exactly which block he lives in, he might be able to recall the colour or icon. This will help people to lead him back to where he lives.
Wall Murals In The Heartlands at Tampines HDB Void Deck Feature Nostalgic Childhood Games From The Singapore's Past
Today's kids spend time playing virtual games in virtual environments. They play away everyday from life and the streets. They are unaware of social games of the past. There were once children's games that colored our lives. Nowdays the kids grow up without knowing the life, touching the life and sharing but only touching the screens. This is especially more apparent in big cities. Children growing up in big cities today neither know the street nor are they aware of the neighborhood culture. The adults cannot hear the joyful sounds of children rising from the streets.
I’m one for nostalgia. There’s something nostalgic about looking back at all the traditional games we played while growing up in Singapore. The games of my childhood always bring back fond memories of carefree afternoons spent outside. These games take us back to a simpler era when life seemed to move at a slower pace and all we really cared about was having a good time with our buddies. There is a set of murals at Blk 857 Tampines Street 83 featuring nostalgic childhood games from the past. They were done by a local artist Jaxton Su. It was a flashback to the past when I saw these murals ! Although not all traditional games were showcased in this artist's collection, let's remember the forgotten children's games and in the name of the joy of the streets!
My Singapore Photo Series《夕阳渔歌》Published in LianheZaobao 联合早报 光影之“世界未戴上口罩时”版 Newspapers on 21 March 2021
My Singapore photo series titled《夕阳渔歌》under my pen name 蓝天游 is published in today's LianheZaobao 联合早报光影之“世界未戴上口罩时”版 full coverage dated 21 March 2021 ! 感谢、感恩! They were taken at various places in Singapore, ie, East Coast, Bedok, Changi Point Beach, Lim Chu Kang Jetty (before it closed down). Thrilled to see it being featured nationwide in print! Special thanks to Lianhe Zaobao, you made my day! :)
Note: These photos were taken before the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Search for Street Art: Project Void Deck Revamp & MayFlower Food Centre/Market in Ang Mo Kio, Singapore
There is actually so much street art in Ang Mo Kio. Ang Mo Kio may be the latest town decorated with beautiful street art that make the walls of the town attractive. Not only attractive, beautiful or Insta-worthy. All these street art pieces of Ang Mo Kio tell a story about Singapore, its culture, rich heritage and history.
It is so heartening to know that there are two areas in Ang Mo Kio where the wall murals were painted by school students. The creation and presence of public works of art provide immeasurable opportunities to those students involved and those who experience them. These projects show that Singapore is a place that not only values the expression of local artists, but is a country that is eager to share opportunities with others for the sake of art education and community building.
The first set of murals are known as “Void Deck REVAMP” project. Art students from Canberra Secondary School, Ang Mo Kio Secondary School, Maris Stella High School, Presbyterian High School, Chong Boon Secondary School, Mayflower Secondary School and Nanyang Polytechnic, led by local artists revamped a total 11 void deck areas at various Housing Development Blocks (“HDB) at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1, 3 and 10. The murals were completed in July 2014. I know I am a bit late to write about them, but better late than never, right? The aim of Project Void Deck REVAMP was to allow engagement between the artwork and the residents, promoting community arts, getting everyone to beautifying the environment and lastly, and also to promote our local artists.
If the memory can serve Singaporeans well, Singapore was the host of the inaugural 2010 Summer Youth Olympics Games (“YOG”). It participated in all the 26 sports, with a total of 129 athletes representing the nation.
Art is one way to bridge the community. Back in 2009, students from Damai Secondary School spent part of their holidays to transform some empty walls of housing flats at Bedok Reservoir Road into larger-than-life canvasses. The theme of the murals was “Sports” and there were 15 murals in total, created with brilliant colours, depicting various sports such as swimming, table tennis and basketball.
There was a special link between the YOG and Damai Secondary School, even before these murals because in 2008, the students painted two Olympic-themed murals to support Singapore's bid to host the YOG as well as the nation's athletes in their quest for glory at the Beijing Olympic Games. This mural project was also a double celebration as it marked the 15th anniversary of the school.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a massive fan of street art. I personally enjoy street photography, so in a way, street art massively appeals to me. I seem to have this sixth sense for sniffing it out in the city that I live in or every new city I visit. I always find them in some very surprising locations. Through my travels I have to come to recognise the styles of some of the world’s better known artists, and found some new favourites along the way.
For an added bonus, the relatively new Our Tampines Hub in Singapore has also provided some new street art gems, including work by a Singaporean artist, Ceno2. Ceno2 is, without doubt, one of my favourite street artists, and stumbling upon his art pieces while exploring a new mall was like finding the holy grail of street art. Whenever I make a wrong turn, will always result in finding something just as wonderful. I also spotted pieces by other artists like Chai Chee Seam and RSCLS, such as Zul Othman, who goes by the moniker Zero @zero_rscls, Adeline Tan @Mightyellow, Ink and Clog Studio and Wu Yanrong.
I am drawn to street art because it is usually reflective of the personality or quirks of the neighborhood where it is located. Simply put, it conveys a vibrancy and a story of the community where it exists. Thus, by including it in my photos can give my viewers a look into the culture of the place and what it may be like to be in that particular setting.
I visited another interesting exhibition recently, and this time, it is at the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (“SCCC”). The exhibition is titled “Moo Moo Park”, Asia’s first drive-through exhibition. For the purpose of this exhibition, the SCCC carpark has been transformed into a space where you can enjoy artworks on display by foot or in an electric car.
Why I think this is an interesting exhibition because the exhibition used interactive and immersive technologies to celebrate the Year of the Ox with a special focus on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, in an aim to spread greater awareness on efforts we can take for Mother Nature. It highlights how art, technology and sustainability can work hand-in-hand towards a better future.
There are original artwork by 8 local artists, including Almostasthma, Andre Wee, ANTZ, Danielle Tay, Howie Kim, Mithra, Puffingmuffin and Tobyato, whereby they interpret elements of Chinese culture and transformed their digital drawings into 3D installation art, selfie filters and augmented reality murals powered by Spark AR from Facebook. Each artwork has a special focus on the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals, such as air pollution, the future of sustainable mobility, as well as endangered habitats.
The Star Wars Identities exhibition has finally arrived in Singapore, its final stop of a world tour that has spanned six years. I need not travel to a galaxy far, far away to get up close and personal with the original costumes, props and artefacts from this beloved film series. The force is so strong !
Stepping stone of my childhood; great, classic storytelling that still works nowadays. It was the first sci-fi franchise I ever watched. I was so young then, and for me, Star Wars wasn’t ever about the films. I don't remember my exact first time watching, and I was raised on it. I will always love the Original Trilogy “A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi” – without it there’d be no Star Wars. No Star Wars means no LucasFilm or LucasArts. One of many incredible things about Star Wars is that every time you think you've mapped out every aspect of how different a world without Star Wars would be, you think of something else. To put it more succinctly, why we all love Star Wars so much is because like us, it never stopped growing - and that’s really important.
I judge movies based off first experiences with them, and re-watch value. Pixar’s “UP” is my all-time favorite movie simply for the fact that every time I watch it, I experience the same emotions as the first time I saw it in the theater. Star Wars' Original Trilogy has the same effect on me. It is colorful, exciting and the story is phenomenal. I know this only scratches the surface of why I love Star Wars.
Even if you don’t love or enjoy it, everyone knows what Star Wars is. The original trilogy serves as the second act of the nine-episode Skywalker saga. It was followed by a prequel trilogy between 1999 and 2005, and a sequel trilogy between 2015 and 2019. Collectively, they have been referred to as the "Skywalker Saga" to distinguish them from spin-off films set within the same universe.
We have been celebrating these past few weeks different festivities since the start of 2021, however, even in these unprecedented times, we still have much to celebrate. For many countries in Asia will be celebrating February 12 for the Lunar New Year, so Gucci thought of no better way to ring in the new year by releasing the Doraemon x Gucci capsule collection, honouring the 50th anniversary of the iconic cosmic cat from Japanese manga and anime.
Gucci describes the Doraemon as “Born on September 3rd, 2112, a cat-type robot was sent from the 22nd century to help a young boy called Nobita with secret gadgets from his four-dimensional pouch. A playful character, Doraemon hates mice and loves Dorayaki, a sweet pancake.”
The collection features over 50 items ranging from coats, to t-shirts, jackets, bags trainers and scarfs that combine the brands classi GG monogram with an array of Doraemon motifs. The classic GG monogram serves as the base on coats, jackets, shorts and track pants that are adorned with Doraemon motifs throughout. Doraemon brings a welcome pop of blue to the brand’s classic monogram pattern.
In the last couple of years I have come to appreciate street art. There are so many reasons why people love street art and why it is becoming more popular or important for people of all walks of life. Street art is an important part of history and identity for many metropolises, and sometimes even has the ability to breathe life into communities. I have tons of Singapore street art / wall mural pictures and I will continue to blog about them bit by bit in 2021.
I have a lot of great memories of Bras Basah Complex, so today I decided to dedicate a post on wall murals at this place. The Bras Basah Complex has been a familiar place to many Singaporeans for the past three decades. The commercial-cum-residential complex became Singapore’s well-known City of Books, an unofficial yet representative name just like the Beach Road’s Army Market, the Arcade where moneychangers ply their trades, or the famous Sungei Thieves Market with their second hand goods. I used to buy books and stationery at this place when I was a student. I still frequent Bras Basah Complex very often nowadays, not to buy books, but for the endless supplies of art materials from Art Friend for my painting works.
Most of these vibrant and cheerful wall mural paintings at Bras Basah Complex were created by students from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts ("NAFA"), as part of Central Singapore CDC’s Painting Smiles initiative. This arts initiative was titled "Painting Smiles" which aimed to bring smiles to visitors or residents through the use of bright and therapeutic colours on wall murals. There are also some other wall murals done by local street artists.
I cannot believe how crazily wet the weather has been in Singapore, since the start of 2021. I mean, it was only one or two days when there was the sun out and shining but it has been pouring so heavily that all I wanted to do was to go jump on puddles. With the hot, humid days which happen almost year-round, rains are surely some sort of a breather. December to January and early February are considered “winter-like months" in Singapore. Not really winter but here do experience very low temps at this time of the year.
The day that I took these pictures was a gray and rainy day. I kind of loved it. Most people are displeased when they check the weather and see a forecast for rain; whether it's pouring down while you are schlepping to work or messing up your weekend plans with a persistent drizzle, the rain isn't the most popular type of weather. I guess you could say I am the Elsa of rainfall; not only has the rain never bothered me anyway, I actually happen to love rainy days. More than anything, I find myself longing for a nice rainy day. I really do love raining days.
There is something about a gray, rainy day that causes you to stop and reflect. I know my opinion isn't a terribly popular one, but I stand by it. It’s unexplainable – rainy days just feel so peaceful. That is of course as long as you don’t have to be stuck in the middle of rush hour traffic. Rain by itself is quiet and cleansing. In turn it asks that we be still as well and who isn’t in need of a little stillness these days. Rain or shine, I always plan to savor the time.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has heightened our awareness that time is subjective. Does it feel like 2020 went on forever? Did lockdown drag, and can you even remember how you spent your time when you weren’t living under COVID-19 restrictions? You are not alone. For many, 2020 has been the year in which the constancy of time was lost to the upheaval of coronavirus.
Clocks were invented to help us track the passage of time - and yet in some moments when staring at a clock, we are made aware of just how long a second can feel. For some people who enjoy working from home, the days have whizzed by. For others desperate to travel, time has slowed to a crawl.
And just like that, it’s almost 2021. The start of not only a new year but the beginning of a new decade. I guess many people, like myself, are glad to put 2020 behind us and move forward with a fresh start. It was an incredibly difficult year filled with new changes and uncertainty. I have been looking forward to a new beginning for some time now. We are humans, and we require some semblance of hope to keep us pushing forward. Rather than focus on the negative, I thought it would be fun to do something uplifting as I set a course for a new decade. Many including myself have taken this time off as an opportunity to do something they may not have thought to do: take up a new hobby.
Right next door to Amsterdam is Haarlem – yet another little lovely, quaint city that charmed me during my trip to The Netherlands in December last year. While I do love Amsterdam, I really love exploring other Dutch towns. I love such charming, medieval city with ancient buildings and cobbled stone streets and therefore this Haarlem, a typical “Dutch” town, is also one of my favourite.
Easily accessible (only 20 minutes from Amsterdam) yet a world away from the major city nearby. This is totally my kind of destination. It reminded me a lot of Amsterdam, but on a quieter note. The pace was a little slower, though filled with life, the presence of tourism less paramount, yet the locals were supremely welcoming. I enjoyed every minute and I often hear Haarlem described as a little city. As it is one of the most densely inhabited metropolitan areas in Europe, this reference is more an interpretation of its village-feel than its populace.