Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Garden Show

There are a never ending stream of events occurring in Singapore, from art festivals, night festivals, river festivals, "tech shows" and many other shows.  One of these that came along this past weekend was the Singapore Garden Show.  Elaine of course, made note of this, and we made a visit to the show during an intermission with our out-of-town guests.  The show was indoors at the convention center.  One floor had small garden exhibits, while a second floor displayed orchids and bonzais.  Although not a large show, it was impressive that they were able to erect such elaborate displays indoors--  bringing in the materials for these displays must have been difficult.
There were also a number of booths, hosted by various garden and conservation groups, as well as the gardening supply shops from Singapore.
A Merlion garden statue


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Family Visit

This past week we received our first family visitors--  Elaine's father Russell and wife Lynda arrived from London (via Dubai) for a few day stay.  The occasion was a double celebration of birthdays, as Lynda and Elaine share the same birthday in July.
Russell had previously visited Singapore for business purposes in the late 1970's, and was astonished by the changes and growth that have occurred since that time.  Singapore has undergone substantial development and renewal in the past 30 years.  As Russell describes it, he had been here before, but this was his first visit to this Singapore-- it is nothing like it was then.
The days were spent with some sight seeing, squeezed between a series of eating events--  we had the opportunity to experience some of Singapore's finer restaurants, and buffet breakfast at the Millenia Ritz-Carlton hotel (Oh, the bacon!!!).  Elaine also produced a fine dine-in dinner at our apartment featuring barbecued lamb chops (Australian lamb) and Malaysian asparagus.
Family visitors arrive  (L to R:  Russell, Elaine, Lynda)

Lamb chops at chez Kazakoff Singapore

Elaine and Russell in the Singapore Flyer.  (The Flyer was struck by lightning two days later!)

Birthday dinner at Les Amis, Singapore

The Blues brother & sisters at Merlion Park (on Marina Bay) in Singapore.  We had just concluded a 45 minute boat tour of the Singapore River.  The fountain is the Merlion, the symbol of Singapore.

The river tour "Bum boat".  Classic bum boats in the old days of Singapore were much smaller, and typically powered by oars.  The eyes painted on the bow of the bum boat are good luck and will guide the boat and its passengers on a safe voyage.

Marina Bay Sands Resort--  This integrated resort (hotel, casino, convention center, and soon to be amusement park) was recently opened, and is a focal point of the development on Singapore's Marina Bay, at the center of the downtown.  The casino is proported to be the largest casino in the world, and is expected to make Singapore a significant tourist and convention center of the world.   (Investment for this development is ~$6B).   We had intended to visit the Sky Park (the cantilevered platform on the top-- looks like a beached ship on top of the towers), but weather on the designated day for the visit was not cooperative.
In front of the casino, further development is underway.  The lotus flower shaped building will be an art center.  A theme park is also under construction on the far side of the three hotel towers.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bottle Art

One of the Chinese art forms we have seen here in Singapore as well as Shanghai is hand painted bottle art.  It is available in many of the shops in China Town, and I am amazed by each piece that I have examined.  Some are better crafted than others, but each of them undoubtedly created a trial of patience for the artist.
The bottles range in size but are usually no larger than four or five inches.  The art scene range in complexity and detail, and are painted on the inside of the bottle (most likely using very fine, curved brushes).  Typical scenes are dragons, birds, fish, or a landscape.
We recently acquired a piece (about 4 inches high) which we've added to our collection of mementos and items to dust.
Side #1

Side #2

Friday, July 9, 2010

US Independence Day In Singapore

There are a number of U.S. expats here in Singapore, as well as close attention in the news to current events in the U.S., and so the U.S. Independence Day does not go by without some notice.  To celebrate, the American Association of Singapore (AAS) hosts a 4th of July picnic each year.  The picnic is in the tradition of a Fourth of July in the states, with music, food, drinks, and of course, fireworks.  It is open to anyone, and a few non-U.S. expats and Singaporeans attend, perhaps spouses of U.S. citizens, or simply U.S. friendlies.  Any British attendees are subject to good natured harassment in honor of the day.  Oddly enough the event this year was held on Saturday, July 3 just a few hours in expiration of July 2 in The States, which is technically the true day of American independence.  (The declaration was ratified on July 2, and announced on July 4). 
Although we didn't know anyone attending, we decided to go to the picnic--  about a one hour trip by subway and shuttle bus.  The picnic was held at a site on the very north end of Singapore, we live in the very south (Ominously held at a location called the Terror Club).  A steady rain during the day had left the picnic site a mud pit, but awnings sheltered the food booths, the band stage, and some tables.  People were mostly huddled under the awnings, which were quite crowded.  Rain is not something here to deter events, as it must always be taken as a possibility.
There were several events set up for kids, with activities such as henna painting, crafts, and inflatable playground.  There were some organization booths including Democrats Abroad and Republicans Abroad.  Fortunately we saw no fights among these two while we were there.  (See AAS Notice)
The featured band was the U.S. Navy band (a U.S. Navy band) from Hawaii.  Not a John Phillips Sousa marching band, but rather a modern "rock" band with electric guitars, drums, saxophone, and a large set of vocalists.  They were rather good, playing a wide selection of music, from Bob Dylan to more current rap.  But not exactly a "gansta rap"  image with regulation hair cuts and U.S. Nave dress whites.
The highlight of the evening was the fireworks, which were spectacular.  Apparently AAS is well funded, as these rivaled any city fireworks show, with a solid 20 minutes of explosions and colored fire, with a recording of Stars and Stripes Forever playing on the sound system.  (Apparently the U.S. Navy band present was not instrumentally suited to provide this background.)
U.S. Navy band entertains Independence Day revellers at the AAS 4th of July Picnic

Waiting for fireworks...

American patriot at the AAS Picnic