Sunday, February 17, 2013

More More Singapore!

Did I mention Singapore is a BIG city? And that it takes a LOT of walking to cover sightseeing territory each day? I won't assault your senses with all of the hundred or so photos I took today, but it was definitely a nature-themed day - here are some highlights from the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Marina Bay and Gardens by the Bay.

Isn't this magnificent? It is called 'Planet,' a 6-ton sculpture by Marc Quinn.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Singapore experiences

Every muscle and bone in my feet, ankles, knees and hips is aching tonight. I have walked every street of Singapore in the past two days, I'm sure. No, that's not true - I have certainly done a lot of mileage in the MRT's, too. So here is my trip in pictures, so you can share in some of the delights this city has to offer...

at the Singapore Art Museum, I loved "The Living Word" by Xu Bing.

And how about "You-I, You-I" by Yuken Teruya - the artist, from Okinawa, takes a traditional

textile art form with embroidered flora and fauna, and inserts US jet fighter aircraft and paratroopers along with the butterflies and chrysanthemums.

Sorry this next one is a bit blurry - had to include this wonderful embroidery "Appear as You Are, Be As You Appear" by Pakistan artist, Aisha Khalid, made of black velvet, red silk and steel needles. Here is a closeup:

Yes, the heads of the pins form the design - a commentary, perhaps, on the pain of fashion - a reminder of the hardship associated with the intricate workmanship demanded by the western purchasers of beautifully handcrafted garments?

And here's a shout-out to my friend, Susan Else - I could think only of her riveting fiber art when I saw this skeleton in a fishing boat in a sea of chalk. (OK, maybe I also thought a bit about my hero, Kathy Nida, who is awash in a sea of chalk everyday as a school teacher - but who still manages to blow me away with her productivity).

No trip to Singapore would be complete without the traditional Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel ... but wait ... does it really cost over $30? Yes, I'm afraid it does, if you have it in the hotel. But hey, it's all part of the Singapore experience, right? (It was super good!)

Thanks to my friend, Sue Dennis from Australia, I was connected with her friend Rhonda, who said I simply must visit Mustafa's - I'll say! Open 24 hours a day, it holds every category of shopping item you can think of - for many floors and many blocks. Utterly overwhelming, but an experience I will never forget.

I don't think I need to say anything about these banners except, "Canadian government, Stephen Harper, shame on you for not being this advanced in your thinking. Singapore government - kudo's to you.
One highlight of today's gallivanting was a visit to the Art Plural Gallery. Whoa. Unbelievable. The largest gallery in Singapore, and an absolutely stunning venue for beautiful art. The current exhibition is of the works by

Fabienne Verdier, from France, who studied Chinese Brush Painting for 10 years and then returned to France to design a huge brush (with the tail hairs of 34 horses) which she hangs from the ceiling, dips in a concoction of her own devising (looks like a combination of pigment and resin), and uses her full body to paint in calligraphic style on large sheets of paper. Stunning work. And in an incredible gallery space.
Still with me? Yeah, I was getting pretty tired too, but pressed on. Stumbled upon the Peranakan Museum and was completely enraptured by the story of their experiences - they are people born of intermarriages between Chinese immigrants and locally born Malays ... among others. The result is a rich blend of traditions, cuisine, and decorative influences, and the museum celebrates all of these in a very entertaining fashion. I was, of course, mesmerized by their beading and embroidery - look at this gorgeous jacket.

OK, is that enough culture and education for one day? It was, for ME! Now I will rest my weary bones and begin the quest anew tomorrow! Stay tuned.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Monkeying Around in Ubud

No trip to Ubud would be complete without a visit to the Monkey Forest. I had read some alarming reports about the macaques there - that they were known to do some very wicked things: steal cameras and sunglasses, climb all over tourists looking for food, and even give a nasty bite. So I kept my

distance, but really enjoyed seeing them running about the grounds, climbing the trees, and enjoying the sanctuary immensely. So much better than a zoo,
though I suppose there are those who will criticize the fact that humans are

allowed in their home at all. The front gate was wide open, with ladies selling miniature bananas (an insane thing to buy if you value your fingers), and we wondered why the monkeys never tried to leave. But on our way out, we did see one fellow attempting a getaway ...

and that was when we say the one lone gameskeeper, armed with a slingshot. Aha. So THAT's why they stay inside. Not sure if the park is monitored all night long though ....
Did some fun shopping along the Monkey Forest Road, and then dined at a very cool restaurant call Bridges, overlooking a deep tropical ravine.
Today I spent the day at a batik workshop - for details and photos, please visit - and tomorrow is an art museum and batik shopping day. (sob!) My last full day in Bali!

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Location:Ubud, Bali

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Welcome to Paradise

Day 1 began by looking out our hotel window at the back.

And from our front door, I took the shot below, still in my nightie. No one around, so it was fine. :)

It was so enticing, I went for a swim, had a buffet breakfast, and now about to stroll through Ubud. I sense shopping in my future.

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Location:Ubud, Bali

The Adventure Begins ... in Singapore

Slept in, spent too long on catching up on email, and by the time I was ready to explore the NUS campus (National University of Singapore), the heavens opened and a violent thunderstorm kept me indoors. It let up fairly quickly, and then we took a bus and the MTR to the downtown area, though we kept our umbrellas handy as there were intermittent light showers.

We arrived at Raffles Place and sauntered up and down the streets and across bridges, enjoying the sights amidst the great excitement as everyone set up for Chinese New Year. Year of the Snake!

In Chinatown, we entered what must surely be the world's largest food court - an astonishing warren with filled with every Asian delicacy you can imagine, with vendors along hall after hall, level after level. We finally settled on BBQ duck, Mapo Dofu (Tofu with Pork), and Spicy Beef with Veggies - all absolutely delicious and washed down with Tiger beer.

One thing I am struck with is the politeness and sweet dispositions of everyone we've met. From shopkeepers to cab drivers to strangers on the MRT, people are unfailingly polite and cheerful. Of course, if you don't have to contend with freezing temperatures and two feet of snow (which I understand is what our family and friends in Ottawa are contending with), why wouldn't you be eternally happy? :)

As I write this, I am on the plane to Bali, via Surabaya, and the sun is shining brightly - a good omen!

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