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Showing posts from August, 2009

to see the world and the living room

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This being the weekend when Singaporeans are busy booking their year-end packaged holidays at the travel fair, it is apt that J and I overheard bits of this conversation (well, it's more like a monologue) at the Kiliney Road Kopitiam - Woman : Yah, when I was in Hokkaido last year, it was hard to find this ... [ Sips her coffee, eats her mee rebus ] I really enjoyed Paris. I mean, for me, that was the nicest city. The trip started at Denmark, stayed there for a few days, then the next few days we moved on to... [ Sips her coffee, eats her mee rebus ] Oh Canada! That was when I went for... [ Finishes her mee rebus ] But you know, Sengkang, Punggol, Jurong East*, I don't really know these places. Hey, 700 square kilometers is pretty large an island to have to trek around for folks who prefer to lug around a suitcase. Unfortunately, save for our rather obsessive bike rides to this , us amps cannot claim to have contributed much to domestic tourism this year as well. Bu

birdsongs

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Over the weekend, J and I went with tym to check out the "Curating Lab: 100 objects" project under the Singapore Art Show . The first object was of a series of blown-up 1960s newspaper clippings from artist John Low's collection. Other than sightings of the "Oily Man" , "beast in Serangoon Gardens" and ghosts in cabdrivers' backseats, there was a kind of non-article (if there was ever such a thing as non-news, this would be it) about some kampong residents' alarmed sighting of a "death bird" and its call. From its description, the "death bird" sounded just like the common house crow. Perhaps they were less common in the 60s. If so, maybe it is not too difficult to imagine then how a lone crow could possibly alarm a kampong with its aggressive cawing and its seemingly ominous haunting. Round about eight in the morning, a bird in the cluster of trees by our block of flats will issue a series of loud echoey calls - "

soft spots

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screen capture of website Vote If you've time this weekend, make a trip down to the Singapore Art Museum where there's a show of works by Donna Ong, Vertical Submarine, Felicia Low and Twardzik-Chng Chor Leng - the four artists/collective selected to be this year's President's Young Talents. Alternatively, it's probably worthwhile to time your visit with the curator-guided tour, conversations with the artists, or better yet, to observe or participate in one of Felicia Low's workshops. This year's exhibition includes a "People's Choice" segment, where you can vote for the artist whose work you most admire. I must confess that none of the works blew me away, although Donna Ong's sculptural installations are - as always, to me - considered and rigorous in both construction and thinking. But I've always been biased towards artists who have a direct engagement with the society around them, and who have an inclusive approach towards t

Hokkaido for Ladies with Unladylike Appetites

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If there is one image that summed up my one-week experience in Hokkaido with Ma Y, it is this: The meals you can have in Hokkaido are reason enough why anyone thinking of taking their mom on a holiday should put Hokkaido on the list of possible destinations . Especially if your mother enjoys her food and cooking as much as mine. Sure, Hokkaido is a tourist trap aimed at both domestic and foreign visitors. But hey, this means that the destinations are mostly accessible and visitor-oriented without losing too much of its authenticity. So if you've scrunched up some savings and have set aside a week from work, here's a fairly typical itinerary for a reasonably-paced tour of the central parts of Hokkaido:

murakami country

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Hokkaido is Haruki-Murakami country. I'm thinking A Wild Sheep Chase and Dance Dance Dance . Jazz, grilled lamb (you know, dead sheep), Mild Seven scenes of green fields and clear skies (not lungs), that Sapporo beer star, and a silence that urbanites will normally know little of. There's even a Dolphin hotel , although this is not likely to have elevators that get stuck in-between floors...or any elevators at all. You can't tell all this from the images above, because I am spending the day/night with Ma Y at a touristy onsen town. After all, Hokkaido is also Incentive-Travel-for-Mothers/Housewives country. ==== p/s If you are thinking of taking your mom for a holiday, check back here for a leisurely itinerary a couple of weeks from now!

work in progress

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On our walk after lunch one day, J spotted a strange "flower" rising above the general mess of green along the road. So we took a closer look. And wow - it was botanical skyscraper architecture! Some ants had created a sort of nest by sealing up the leaves at the end of a branch, resulting in a rather elegant bubble-like tent, with only the slightest of gap between two leaves to serve as an entranceway. Two animated films and several documentaries later, ants are still fascinating. Regardless of shape or colour, you seldom see them still. They are always in the process of getting somewhere, doing something. In fact, those crazy black species that seem to run randomly around (J and I recently found out that they really are just called "Crazy Black Ants") are like a species created specially to parody their more purposeful cousins - they are the fastest, most frantic, most busy, but also the most seemingly lost. When I took this year off work, I thought I would h