Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Watching the tide III: Got banana milk?

My neighbour's old door. He now has a spanking new one!
KUDOS to the upgrading crew who removed and replaced countless sewage pipes. They hacked countless floors and wall tiles, replaced countless squatting loos with seated ones. They must have installed countless grab rails too. It is very, very tough work. I saw one of them in the lift, he was covered from head to toe in dust, pushing a trolley containing pails of cement.

They went about their work cheerfully. They were polite and never demanded anything.  Only when I asked them whether they needed drinks, one of them said "banana milk" -- and the others all nodded enthusiastically. The provision shop near my place said yes, that is their favourite drink. Probably because it gives a lot of energy. (Apparently this milk at the shop was almost sold out -- I only managed to grab a big carton and a small one.)

But upgrading (for me) is still a big hassle. So the foreman (I presume he is the foreman, there were a couple of them going around with walkie-talkies) asked me, "Why you don't want to change gate...So old already! How about your door, don't want to change also? See your neighbour's one? So nice! Bathroom tiles also don't want. Next time you want to change ah, very expensive!"

The gate must be as old as those sewage pipes (now replaced by PVC ones, and painted a gleaming white). But I had recently given it a paint job and it looked good still.. Those mosaic tiles in my bathroom are still good.

If it ain't broke...

Watching the tide II is here: http://bitspiece.blogspot.sg/2015/07/watching-tide-ii.html

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Watching the tide II

Just before the major works. It looks 100 per cent worse now, and stinks too. Bought a big bottle of Detol for cleaning up tonight. 
Historically gross.

THE whole area looks like a war zone.  Hacking and drilling noises are coming from all corners. Fine dust are hovering in the air.

Thank goodness, there was a 3M mask left behind from SARS time. Shut a protesting cat in the 2nd bedroom.  Took piano stool to the corridor where I sat armed with mask and sungalsses to wait for the job in the house to be finished (for the day.) Two more days to go... they said.

I had opted only for the essential --  replacement of sewage and sanitary pipes (at least 30 years old) in the two bathrooms and kitchen. They came at 8am and after laying the protective covers on the floors and furniture, left (to do up another house, I guess). They didn't return till 10.30am when they brought more protecctive covers for the sinks and the loo. Then they disappeared again.

The nasty work of dismantling my historic and "original" cast iron pipes had not even started.

No wonder they insisted that they need four days to complete the job. Well, guess in massive upgrading exercises like this, everything has to be done in stages. For others who opted for more upgrading works, it could take weeks.

Can't wait to see my new sewage pipes.

Watching the tide (1) is here: http://bitspiece.blogspot.sg/2015/06/watching-tide.html

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

A 'far east' spiral

Spiral at Far East Square in Chinatown. Seems to be a favourite for tourists to climb up and down and for photography too. Pics: 18 July 2015.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

New view for Stamford Raffles

Sir Stamford Raffles, the statue at the front of Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall, looks out to a changing landscape -- all shrouded up. All pics taken on 11 July 2015. 
TODAY, the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles looks out to the sea in the distance -- and a "ship" (but not the Indiana which brought him to Singapore in 1819). To get this same perspective of Singapore, take the red brick road from Canton Street.

Walk through Canton Street to Boat Quay.

Have a break at McDonald's if you need.

Then proceed. To your left, it's Boat Quay. To your right, Fullerton Hotel (below). 

At Cavenagh Bridge,  a clear view of what used to be a narrow food alley that was always jam-packed during lunch (when Singapore River was still rather smelly).

Follow the bridge and you will eventually see the old Parliament House.

On the day I was there, there was a rehearsal for National Day at the Padang. So you can see this tank parked here, waiting for its turn.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Take the red brick road

When you are at Club Street (below), walk into this nice red-brick road. 

You will see this white gable with nice windows.

Follow the red brick road and you will come to Ann Siang Hill. 

The red brick road becomes a white cemented path before you reach a nice park with shady trees and wooden benches. 

Many quaint and interesting walls for you to photograph. 

As you proceed along the park, you'll see a patch of green that's fenced. There must once be a pond there as you will see a lone lotus among the lush green leaves.
  Postnote: Whoops, this isn't a lotus but a banana flower. (So much for my conjecture that there was a pond there.) Found out the real  name of the flower while taking a walk at Botanic Gardens today (16 Aug). Here's the short brief on the flower (taken off the plate at Botanic Gardens, near the Ginger Garden):

Then you see this wall of stacked aircons.

Which is actually the side wall of PS Cafe.

The cafe is next to a boardwalk that will take you out to Amoy Street on one end, and to another walk where you can take a look at the "last" well in Chinatown.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Sculptures on the wall

This cupid carrying a swan (or is it a goose) was part of the wall of a building at Wayang Street (expunged). The building must be at least be over 150 years old when it was demolished.  The little metal hook you see at the top of the cupid's head must have once held a spotlight so that little cupid gets a bit of attention. -- a spotlight such as this one here, on the wall of a shophouse at China Street (picture below), highlighting a flower bas-relief.

WONDER if all those nice sculptures on the walls of old buildings can be preserved when it's time for them to face the demolition ball? Perhaps they can be dismantled and put in the Museum of Asian Civilisation? Here are some interesting ones I have "preserved". I am sure there are many more interesting bas-reliefs on walls. Must take more walks soon.

The eagle has landed on this shophouse at China Street where you can find the original Hock Lam Beef restaurant.

This is one of my favourites, showing the old OCBC Bank trademark on a shophouse at South Bridge Road. 

Birds, dogs, monkeys, flowers, you can find them on the walls of this shophouse at Lorong Bachok, Geylang. 

And this pretty mirror graces the wall of a shophouse along Jalan Besar. An aside, three units of shophouses along Jalan Besar are on sale for $16.5m, reported The Straits Times today.  If only I were rich enough :)

Pop-up dragon on the wall of Nam Cheong Pawnshop in South Bridge Road. Nowadays, you have Maxi  Cash etc, and not as many Chinese pawn shops as before. Going by those old B&W Cantonese movies, pawn shops were extremely common in Hong Kong. Each time you don't have money to pay the rent, you trade your gold chain or jade bracelet for hard cash. Even a jacket or blanket would be enough to pay off debtors. Not sure pawn shops nowadays accept blankets?

A lion head guarding the entrance to the Chinese Weekly Entertainment Club at Club Street , founded by a wealthy Peranakan in 1891. 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

So swanky

Would like to take a look some day, especially to browse around at Marimekko, the Finnish store with more than 60 years of history. Pic taken 11 July 2015. Again, an extremely hot, sweaty day. 
SO, this is the new Capitol Piazza. So swanky. It looks like a place I shouldn't enter with my grubby t-shirt, shorts and slippers.

Hmm, maybe another day. But definitely would like to go in and take a look. (Should also explore the new underpass connection from the City Hall MRT -- as I am usually on this side of the road, unless I take the walk from Chinatown to Stamford Road using New Bridge Road, then Hill Street.)

Many years ago, in my current grubby attire, I've browsed happily at the Gramophone shop where Capitol Centre used to stand (before it became Capitol Piazza). Many people have reminisced before on how they missed this shop stocked from wall to wall with CDs. (I have not tried this, but apparently you can ask them for any obscure piece of music you are hunting for and they would have an answer for you.) Anyway, I have not been buying CDs for a long time.

Well, I'll see you, Marimekko.

Postnote: My friend and I did cross over from City Hall to Capitol Piazza on a Saturday. Was not impressed by Marimekko. In particular, not impressed by the sales girl who followed us from one display to another, prating on about the items but not offering much insights beyond what we could see for ourselves (for example, they are available in red, green, etc). We did spot a very nice two seater sofa and in jest asked her how much it was going for. She looked at us stunned and curtly said it was not for sale. Oh well, she couldn't take a joke. But facing Marimekko was Oriole where the waffles were extremely nice, and the service was great too.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Bridging the times

The  overhead bridge at Peace Centre. Pic taken in 1982.

Bridge still looks the same. Picture taken in Jan, 2015.
PEACE Centre has seen several face lifts. But the overhead bridge has remained the same, retaining its old-fashioned look. (Which is good for old timers like me when it comes to reminiscing the good old 70s and 80s).

However, the Peace Restaurant (left) which was rather well known in the 70s and 80s, is long gone. Must check out the place some time soon. Wonder if there are any nice eateries inside the building. Some time in the 90s, remember a friend taking me there for pig brain soup.

And what shops do they have now? I remember it didn't have a very exciting range of shops -- mostly some dingy looking ones selling clothes, a toy shop specialising in those figurines (characters from Star War, Incredible Hulk, etc)  and some "establishments" offering facials and skin care. Remember trudging all the way there to get a brand of skin care which promised to whiten and remove freckles. The brand was from sunny Spain. But it didn't work for me :(

Monday, 6 July 2015

Little stressful moments

These stories are purely fictional and bear no reference to anyone :)

The stressed investment banker
(Live interview on radio)
"Essentially, I think we will be seeing some major upheavals in the market ahead... But essentially, there will be light at the end of the tunnel... Essentially...."

(At home)
"Dear, I think you had like 10 mentions of  'essentially'..."

The stressed PR
(Live interview on radio)
"So tell us, what can we expect at the opening?"

"Expect the unexpected, hahaha."

"Could you tell us more, what are some of the new lines ABC will be rolling out?"

"Yes,  we have new products that will ah, wow our customers... Everyone in fact... They will be... Unexpected..."

(At home)
"Dear, I thought you have had all your replies written out. Why don't you just read from the script?"

The stressed scientist
(Live interview on radio)
"The best thing that has come out of a lab for women, a face mask which claims to make age spots and wrinkles vanish almost overnight. Dr Creme, does this face mask really work?"

 "Yes, we have tested it on 100, well, actually 108 women in Asia. And they have reported more than 80 per cent improvement, 82 per cent to be precise."

"In layman's language, can you explain to us how this face mask work? Dr Creme... Dr Creme, are you still with us?"

*Rustling of papers and then silence.*

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Folk dance at SGSS

White, with gathers at the neckline and little puffed
 sleeves. Blue belt and a huge ribbon made from
crepe paper completed the outfit.
I WAS also a folk dancer at SGSS, from primary three right up to primary four. One, two, bow, skip, skip, skip or one, two, bow, step, step, step. You've got the rhythm?

Mum was too busy to sew my folk dance costume. Anyway she was a bit grumpy after just completing my Lantern Dance samfoo. So I did it myself. But mum had to sew the belt -- a bit complicated as it needed to accommodate the "stiffening" (the plastic thing you put in between the layers of cloth). It was supposed to be a broad belt, up to three inches thick. But somehow mum mistakenly made it only two inches thick. The teachers frowned but didn't say anything. Anyway, the good thing was that I could always easily recognise mine from the pile when dressing up before the performance,

The best part was the huge bow which was added on only just before the actual performance. We all stood in a row. The teacher called out "Next!" and we ran forward for the bow to be pinned to the back of our dress. So this bow (especially when we were doing the one, two, skip, skip, skip) bounced quite a bit -- making us feel so very pretty.

Another bonus was a new pair of shiny black shoes from Bata -- required as part of the ensemble. (Not for my mum though, as she had to pay for them.)

As with the Lantern Dance, we were invited to dance at nearby churches and schools.

A round worm at SGSS

WE studied how various types of parasites can enter our body and make us ill -- during science lessons. But it was in the middle of a history class one afternoon, that we had a real life demonstration.

One of my classmates who was sitting in front, suddenly leaned over and vomited (seemingly in disgust over what Emperor Shih Huang Ti had done -- burning books and burying his subjects live). She was real skinny -- easily the skinniest among us all.

All of us were awed to see something wriggling on the floor where she vomited. Spencer (the outspoken one and the one who claimed he was chased by a bull near SGSS), asked, "Sir, is it a worm?"

The teacher who was a little speechless at first, said hesitantly (more bent on not alarming the poor girl than being factual), "No, no, it's not a worm... "

He then went to call for the sweeper to get the disgusting thing out of the classroom.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Lady Precious Stream at SGSS

I WAS the maid in Lady Precious Stream for a concert at SGSS. I only needed to say "Yes, my lady" (twice, throughout the whole play). And to remember not to face my back to the audience.

Even for that, I had to be made up. The lipstick was hard and smelled stale. My eyebrows were overly drawn -- making me the fiercest of maids in the kingdom. As for the costume, it wasn't a problem as I could wear the floral samfoo which I already owned as a member of the Lantern Dance (another item for another event).

Not sure what happened. I was supposed to Lady Precious Stream at first... but the teacher decided that one of my classmates (who was rather fat, but could really act well) should play the main role.

No difference for me... I was thrilled to be the maid. And only two lines to remember.

Singapore Potpourri at SGSS

I WAS the head of a cow in "Singapore Potpourri" staged by SGSS for a school competition (I think it was part of National Day celebrations). Various primary schools took part in this at the National Theatre (now demolished).

If I remember correctly, the concept was to depict a typical market square in Singapore then (the 60s). When the music from Persian Market sounded, various "hawkers" made their appearance (including the kacang putih man), with some cultural dances in between. Then the music from the movie Hatari (starring John Wayne and Doris Day) sounded, the signal for the farmer to bring out his cows. (Actually looking back, not sure whether cows were a common sight at markets, but nevermind, there's such a thing as poetic license.)

The "cows" danced their way out from behind the curtains to the centre of the stage. The "head" (me) would then start to munch grass, swaying slightly from side to side. Behind me, under "cow  cover" (like a lion dance) would be the backside, another student crouched low.

There were two cows for this act. During one rehearsal at the basketball court of the school, the cows got bored while waiting for their turn and decided to race each other in the muddy field. And were duly subdued when the teacher gave a lashing for getting the cow costumes all muddied.

Can't remember whether we won any prizes. But we certainly had lots of fun staging Singapore Potpourri!

Lantern Dance at SGSS

"Dance" of the lanterns in Chinatown (at Temple Street). Pic: March 2013.
NO, I wasn't a lantern. But I was a member of the Lantern Dance "troupe" at SGSS. We travelled to quite a few places to perform this -- at competitions in other schools (one of them was the Aljunied Primary School) and even performed for some celebrations at one temple (somewhere along 5th mile, Upper Serangoon Road) which invited us. So you see, this "troupe" was rather famous!

Each of us holding a lantern in each hand, would danced our way into quite a few formations such as figure of eight, and circles. There was a "generic" step used throughout the dance, with a lot of variations during the different formations (such as raising the lanterns high overhead, or keeping them waist high).

There were two teachers in charge of this "troupe" -- and sometimes we would have rehearsals at one of their homes. While waiting for our turns to rehearse, we explored the lonkangs (drains) outside her house. And we had cakes and soft drinks served to us for tea by our teachers. The benefits of being in a dance troupe. Tremendous fun.