Singapore Diary #3: Museums And More

One of the things I didn’t get to do during my previous stay in Singapore was to visit some museums, which I love to do whenever I travel. This time around, I rectified it by going to the National Gallery and the ArtScience Museum. The National Gallery was newly opened in the former City Hall and Supreme Court – it actually looks a lot like the National Gallery in London. It houses a large collection of Singaporean and South East Asian art, and I was excited to find some Vietnamese artists amongst them. While I was there, it also had a special exhibition on the relationship between Britain and its colonies (Singapore being one of them) and how this relationship influences art, so there were quite a few pieces borrowed from the Tates Museum as well – which is great, since I didn’t get to visit the Tates while I was in London!

This is not a giant sculpture, but rather the column inside the building

A fun installation – the strings move, so the light bulbs make a tingling sound as they hit the mirrors

ArtScience Museum is the funky building (supposed to be in the shape of a lotus or a hand) in front of the Marina Bay Sands. As the name suggests, it contains exhibitions on art & science with a focus on technology and media. I saw exhibitions on NASA and Escher, and had a great time in the interactive¬†Future World (it’s mostly for kids, but there are fun/beautiful things to look at as well.) The admission is a little steep though (35 SGD, 40 on Fridays and weekends).

One of the most famous exhibitions of ArtScience Museum – Crystal Universe

Also, as a part of the exchange program, we were given a tour of two interesting places – a water treatment center (water treatment is a big deal in Singapore since they have no natural reservoirs) and a studio on the nearby Indonesian island of Batam. The water plan was very informative and has some trippy-looking exhibitions, and it was pretty fun to see the sets of some HBO Asia shows at the studio, plus Batam itself is beautiful. I wish we could’ve stayed longer.

The water treatment center also has a lot of koi carps in their pond

The set for “Serangoon Road

A part of the “Half-worlds” set

A Mediterranean seaside resort? Nope, it’s Batam!

Also, I think it’s a rule to always have at least one cat shot amongst my travel photos, so here’s one we met in Batam:

I may have gotten my museum fix, but there are still others I wish I had time to check out – like the Singapore National Museum or the Museum of Asian Civilizations. Maybe next time ūüėČ

SIA Inspiration: Painted Portrait

It’s Jen’s turn to host SIA, and in her quest to find copyright-free artwork in the public domain, she came to Pixabay and ended up finding this portrait by an art teacher, Juanita Mulder, from South Africa (if you click on her name, you can see more of her artwork):


Jen picked this for the bold, graphic quality of the painting, and also because March is Women’s History Month, so a portrait of a woman by a woman is an appropriate choice. There are definitely a lot of elements to play with here. I’ve never heard of Pixabay before, but from this, it sounds like a great place to find inspirations!

Remember to send Jen ( your submissions by next Monday, March 13th. Looking forward to this!

Singapore Diary #2: Gardens By The Bay

I didn’t put this in with my “Old Favorites” post because even though Gardens by the Bay was an old destination for me, it was also new. This time I finally got to visit the two conservatories, the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, and catch the light show at the Supertrees Grove later at night (which I missed last time.) The light show was fun but not exactly memorable, but the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest are well worth their admission price (28SGD). Imagine two giant glasshouses, one filled with colorful flowers always in full bloom regardless of the weather outside, and the other with the lushest, greenest tropical plants. I could spend a whole day in there. I burned out two – I repeat, two – camera batteries because I was photographing everything. I only went out reluctantly because I forgot my scarf and it was freezing inside (as usual with everywhere else in Singapore, the air inside the conservatories is kept cool.)

They have a display of the Chinese zodiacs inside the Flower Dome, though this one is more “Game of Thrones” than Chinese

In the Cloud Forest, you can also take the elevator up to the top of the “Cloud Mountain”, a six-story tower covered in plants and a waterfall, and walk down a path. Although, it may not be the best choice for someone who’s scared of heights like me. I was walking down with no problem when I made the mistake of looking down and immediately reacted like this. I spent the rest of the walk staring fixedly ahead.

After all that gorgeous nature, it was a bit anti-climactic to go to the Supertrees, to be honest. Still, it was interesting to learn that the Supertrees are not just for decorations but are actually a part of the Gardens’ eco-friendly design, used to collect rainwater and help with the cooling of the air. Beautiful and functional. Now that’s what I’m all about.

SIA: Sing Street

We have a very small group of just the hosts today, so it’ll be quick. It seems every time I curated an SIA challenge while traveling, the number of participants went down, even though I still tried to post as regularly as I could. Ladies, you know I can still receive and post your submissions, right? Maybe it has nothing to do with my traveling; maybe it’s just the inspirations that I happened to pick while I was traveling were more difficult to interpret than usual.

Not that I’m complaining, because the two outfits from Jen and Erin are great. And just as a reminder, our inspiration this week is the poster for “Sing Street” (by the way, did any of you catch the Oscars on Sunday? What the fuck.)

First up is Jen, who not only found the perfect colorful scarf, but also the perfect background for her outfit:

 Erin also found the perfect backdrop, and kept the rest of her outfit casual and comfy Рa win in my book:

And finally, here’s tiny me against the skyline of Singapore:

black shirt black pants green scarf plaid sneakers by 14 shades of grey

I guess this SIA is all about the backgrounds, isn’t it? Anyway, it’s been fun. Remember to check back next Monday for the next inspiration!

Singapore Street

black shirt black pants green scarf plaid sneakers by 14 shades of grey

See what I did with the title there? Singapore Street = Sing Street. Get it? *rimshot* Yes, thank you, I’ll be here all week.

Anyway, here is my interpretation of this week’s SIA, inspired by the poster of “Sing Street” (sorry it wasn’t a proper “outfit” photo, I wanted to include the buildings in the background.) It’s pretty straightforward – all black with a green accent from my scarf and pops of colors from my sneakers. I also took the photo against the green of the Marina Bay to mimic the green background of the poster. I had something yellow with me as well – my umbrella – but I already got funny looks from wearing a blanket scarf in 90+ degrees, so I didn’t want to invite more funny looks by taking out my umbrella when it wasn’t raining.

(Though, to be fair, the scarf was not just something I wore for SIA; it has been a life saver on the train and in the shopping malls, where the AC is always set to “freezing” it seems. It surprises me how the Singaporeans can stand such extreme differences in temperature. And then it did rain pretty heavily right after I took these photos, so my outfit was actually complete.)

The round-up is not until Wednesday, so you still have time to send me your outfits (if you haven’t already.) And don’t forget to come back to see how others interpret this poster!

black pants plaid sneakers by 14 shades of grey

T-shirt: ASOS, Pants & Scarf: local shops, Sneakers: Payless

Singapore Diary #1: Old Favorites

During my first week in Singapore, I spent most of my time with my students at the school, though we did get to go on a tour of the city to see all the prominent neighborhoods – Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam (the Malay area). Last time I was here, I mostly just walked through these streets, so it was fun to see them with an actual guide and learn more about their history. Of course, I stopped by Haji Lane and checked out the shop where I got the cat brooch (The Dulcet Fig). This time they were having a sale on their brooches so I splurged and bought two. I even met the cat again!

Chinatown at night, and the Sultan Mosque

Graffiti in Haji Lane

Little India at night

Kampong Glam’s Sultan Palace (now the Malay Heritage Center)

The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown, outside…

… and inside

Lunar New Year decorations in Chinatown

And finally, here’s some gnarly-looking “medicine” being sold in Chinatown:

Dried lizards. Yum!

I’ll be back next week with new things I’ve discovered in Singapore!

Book Reviews: February 2017

It’s been a short and busy month, so I only managed 3 books, but my reactions to them vary widely, so here goes:


The Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Erich Raspe:

My only knowledge of this book of tall tales comes from the adaptation by Terry Gilliam (I’ve never seen the movie, but I know of it), but it was on sale and I thought it would be a fun, quick read. Well, it’s certainly quick, but not as entertaining as I hoped. Some tales get a chuckle or two from me, others are just too random and meandering for my taste. 2/5

The Rainbow Troops by Andrea Hirata:

This book was recommended to be by one of the editors at the publishing house I freelance for, so I thought it was worth considering. It’s about a group of children on a remote Indonesian island who defy all odds to maintain their rights to an education, so I thought it would be one of those sweet, charming, inspirational children’s book (in the vein of one of my favorite books, Totto-chan). Boy, was I wrong, on both counts. This could have been a great book, but the writing was terrible. The author keeps telling us everything instead of showing us, so the inspirational becomes preachy, the moving becomes cheesy, the funny becomes cliched. And it was supposed to be semi-autobiographical, but I didn’t buy any of the stuff that happened in it nor did I connect to any of the characters. I don’t think I’m going to take a recommendation from these editors ever again. But then, these are the people who thought a pile of garbage like¬†The Atlantis Gene¬†(it’s not even a best-selling pile of garbage like, say, the Twilight series) is worth translating, so what did I expect? 1/5

The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer:

No, this is not a sci-fi/fantasy time-traveling story, it’s just non-fiction book about life in Elizabethan England, both the good and the bad, the glorious of a “Golden Age” and the not-so-glorious. It is incredibly detailed, but it’s written like a travelogue, with chapters devoted to what to eat, what to wear, where to stay, how to travel, what to do for entertainment, etc. so it’s really easy to read. Some may find the details tedious, but I love it. I’m going to read his other book,¬†The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England, as well. 5/5

So that’s it for me this month. What books have you guys read?