Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour at Shunfu Road

My PC is on, with Facebook!  How can I off FB?

Pacific 2010 - Map

Air tickets almost booked...this is what my 6+ weeks in the Central/South Pacific in June/July will look like...

The abandoned historic tombs of Lorong Halwa

Do you know that just outside of the City at Lorong Halwa/Bukit Brown - south of Lornie Rd and off the PIE near Bukit Timah Rd - is a large piece of long forgotten cemeteries and old tombs, almost overgrown by the tropical rainforest?  Today, I joined the Straits Times (doing an article about Qing Ming) and a few founders of the SG-Tao discussion yahoogroup for a photoshot at this place.  Many of the tombs dated to as early as the late 19th century and some as late as 1971.  Most of the tombs are long forgotten by the descendants of those buried there and overgrown with weeds. 
We came across a few grander ones still tended by people, including one with elaborate fengshui water and sculpture features.  At that stage of the trip, I was still a bit "pang tang" and didn't take any photos.  We visited a temple which used to be the heart of the old Kampong Lorong Halwa but whose roof has almost collapsed.  There was a Tua Beh Kong altar but Jave felt that it might be a different diety within... 
We also came across a family headed by a 75y/o matriarch there to clear the tomb of her father-in-law buried here 60 years ago.  Her son, brother-in-law and the latter's wife was also present.  "The young these days do not even care about their living mother...why should they care about these long dead," she said aloud.   Interestingly, we ended our trip at a monumental tomb (complete with stone sculptures of Sikh guards) over which a traditional Malay house was built many years ago by a fengshui master.  Even the fengshui master had supposedly long past on and the house is now owned by someone.  There was neither wall nor door and so we walked right through.  The dog even posed for us over the tomb of the dead's spinster daughter.
What a day!  An article on this visit would appear soon, possibly Monday.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Old Trinkets Discovered

Asian countries & GDP Growth

BT has an interesting editorial today about GDP per capita of Asia-Pacific countries over the decades. We all have our doubts of the validity of GDP per capita for an open economy like Singapore where the GDP per capita does not translate into pay check per year for the man on the street, but still it remains a valid comparator-indicator. What is obvious from the charts is that Malaysia seems to be faltering behind and statistics have shown more than 300,000 emigrating over a recent 12 month period. Something to do with the political mess the country is in?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A box of souvenirs and trinkets

Found a huge box I haven't opened for over 8 yrs at parents' place. In it were paintings, embroidery and souvenirs I have long thought lost or entirely forgotten about.


Let me do a partial inventory list:
1) An Andean embroidery from Ecuador (have wondered for a long time where this had gone to) depicting Andean village scene, with llamas, peasants, cactus, sheep, etc
2) a simpler Ecuadoran mat depicting the condor and two ladies in traditional costume
3) a colourful checkerbox Peruvian shoulder scarf with many llamas
4) a rug of unknown origin - motifs of cats, dogs, birds that look like the Guatemalan national bird - quetzal, crocodiles and strange tribal symbols - maybe this was from Guatemala, but the little man on it looks more Amazonian tribal.  There is also a tribal shield there that looks more African but I hadn't done Africa in 2002.  The back of the rug reveals knots that appear more Middle Eastern than Latin America. Mystery!

5) a printed image of an Orthodox icon from Ukraine

6) a strange stone egg with pink lines of unknown origin

7) a wrist band with Turkish evil of different shades...pretty.

8) an Egyptian papyrus depicting the creation of the world and the daily cycle of life

9) another Egyptian papyrus depicting gods and kings

10) a print of St George the Dragonslayer on cloth, perhaps bought from Rila Monastery, Bulgaria

11) a Turkish blue china plate

12) Oil and frankincense from the Church of Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem

13) souvenir elephant from Thailand

14) a box of two green balls with panda motifs and a pin depicting Tiananmen

15) a pin with a Swiss stamp

16) a hair pin jewellery piece from Morocco

17) a Tibetan prayer wheel bought in Chengdu, Sichuan

18) a plastic souvenir of the Church of St Paul, Macau

19) an another image of St George the Dragonslayer from Syria

20) a gaucho cowboy hat and saddle souvenir piece from Uruguay

21) a Russian doll

22) a medal with images of Lenin and Stalin

23) miscellaneous Eastern Orthodox trinkets

24) pins from Penjikent, Tajikistan

25) cork of a wine bottle from Cricova, the wine capital of Moldova

26) set of card with classical Chinese painting scenes

27) Mao pins and lots of coins

28) small containers of rose syrup from Bulgaria

29) a lion seal from China

30) a Chinese bamboo scroll saying "Everything According To Your Wishes"

31) many Chinese scrolls and fans with poetry and traditional scenes - why did I buy these?  That must have been a phase I went through in the 1990s when I was in China for business... the interesting one is a famous poem by patriotic Sung Dynasty general, Yuefei, Manjianghong

32) a Nubian drum piece from Abu Simbel area in southern Egypt

33) figurines of the Egyptian falcon headed god, Horus

34) prints of old maps and paintings from The National Gallery, London and other places




Sgtravelcafe Mar 2010: Iraqi Kurdistan & Peru

On 12 March, Marymount View played host to another session of sgtravelcafe.  We had over 60 attendees this time. 
We kicked off with Tristan telling us about his adventures in Iraqi Kurdistan and the intricacies of how to get an entry permit into the only safe part of Iraq.  Firstly, you need to have a business card - the Kurds want business people to visit their homeland - and that it's okay for a "businessman" to come by with a backpack(!).  Then, you need to have a local contact they can ring up... yes, you can try to find one on couchsurfing!  The bottomline is you need to have a good story.  Tristan got on so well with the immigration guy that the latter asked Tristan for his facebook contact, and this chap even chatted with him on facebook from time to time.
Patricia told us about how her, a trekking novice at the start of her trip, had a great time doing major treks in the towering peaks of the Peruvian Andes.  Don't be intimidated by the mountains.  It's determination and perserverence that will carry you through.  We were also thoroughly impressed by Patricia's fascinating tales of endurance but also treated to her amazing photography of the spectacular Andes.  She ended her presentation by educating the group about how to be a responsible traveller...not to throw rubbish, not to drive too hard and unfair a bargain with the poor locals.
Yet another fantastic evening learning new things, catching up with old friends and making new friends!