Food centre funk

21 05 2017

Japanese band Wednesday Campanella, and their frontwoman KOM_I, try the hawker stores in Singapore.





Southeast Asia Weird

17 05 2017

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In just about the least horrifying news out of Indonesia this week (scroll up) , the decomposing body of a “sea monster” washed up on one of its beaches. It is, most likely, the carcass of a whale.

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Meanwhile Bangkok experienced a new food fad, with a bakery in Pathum Thani gaining online fame for this adorable/creepy dog-shaped coconut puddings. Can’t wait to eat on of these puppies…literally.

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And finally in Singapore, a new “vending machine” for luxury cars opened in the form of an arrestingly designed showroom where with the flick of a switch you can “select” the car you want to test.





Singapore: art

1 05 2017

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A stunning installation in Singapore of giant, luminous crocheted sea urchins (!!) by Korean and American architectural firm Choi & Shine.

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Sea lion

12 07 2016

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Meanwhile in Singapore…

8 11 2014

Cute couple. Keep on fighting the good fight!





Singapore

14 07 2013

Singapore is an odd place, difficult to get a handle on. Defiantly un-exotic despite its colourful cultural mix, it is just…there. Struggling to describe it to a friend, I plumped for “Guangzhou – meets Brisbane”.

Several times in the city I was fleetingly reminded of Australia – in the (too?) wide streets with their prim British names, the odd piece of Victorian architecture, the greenery and the big, suburban sky.

I was staying on a long and luxuriantly forested street called Bukit Timah Road lined  with Macmansions and sparkling new townhouses. From there it was ten minutes walk to a shop of any kind. The empty footpaths and nature strips Рimmaculately maintained Рimbued the area with such a sense of residential calm that it felt jarring, nothing like the gritty, bustling footpaths of other Asian cities.

The other thing that sets Singapore apart is its wealth. It smells of money. Not in an obnoxious Dubai ‘bling’ kind of way but in a solidly bourgeois mentality, akin to a tropical Switzerland. It is a country of great material comfort, high standards and high expectations.

Now the tenth wealthiest country in the world per capita, and home to the highest proportion of US dollar millionaire households anywhere, its rise has been meteoric. It is clean and green, public services are slickly maintained, historical buildings have been restored and brightly painted. New infrastructure projects abound. Some of the schools (which I was there to visit) have facilities little short of palatial.

And this has all been achieved through good economic and social management. Although undoubtedly one of the best managed countries in the world, Singapore’s national obsession with planning and strategies and procedures irked me too – as though the whole nation consisted of just one class of enthusiastic business school undergrads, or stuffed shirts. Corporate-speak is unavoidable here. People making small talk in bars referred to “stakeholders”, “KPI”s and “SOP”s, (Singapore loves its acronyms). In school meetings, flow charts were proffered like candies. Earnest nodding accompanied any mention of mission statements and core objectives. It was annoying.

And yet, that is churlish of me – because after all, it works. The happily multiracial, healthy, well-educated populace living in their emergent island-state is proof of that.

In the end, outside of management meetings, I quite enjoyed SG . It was a break after the recent chaos of Bangkok, which I needed- a haven, a place where everything is taken care of and you never have to think. I made some new friends, and reconnected with old ones now living in the city, had a fruitful time at my work, enjoyed the expat bars and wandered the Little India streets.

Singapore may not be an easy city to love – it inspires great passion in few (except management freaks) but it is a city that gets better the more time you spend in it and it was a place I was happy spend a week. I might even come back.





Singapore Street Art

14 07 2013

It does exist!

Despite the best efforts of law enforcement officials in cases such as arrest of “the sticker lady“, Singapore does have a fledgling street art scene, although nowhere near the level of, say, Thailand’s.

The centre of this is Haji Lane and the parallel Bali Lane in the old Arab district, today packed with bars and boutiques and brightly painted walls (many with a Middle Eastern theme).

It is nice to see although there is a distinct feeling that it has all been clinincally implemented by some kind of government committee who fretted that this was what “the kids are into these days” and were wanted Singapore to “compete”.