The faces of Chingay 2013

24 02 2013

If anyone reading this appears in any of the photographs below (or in this album), I would be pleased to extend a higher resolution copy of the photograph to you if you can drop me an email.


Photographs from what was certainly a feast for the senses, Chingay 2013, which was held at the F1 Pit Building over two evenings on 22 and 23 February 2013. The annual event, touted as “Asia’s Grandest Street Parade”  is organised the People’s Association. In its current incarnation, Singapore’s Chingay was conceived as a street parade to celebrate the Chinese New Year in 1973 in the wake of the ban on the tradition of letting off fireworks, the parade has evolved over the years into the spectacular celebration of Singapore’s rich multi-ethnic mix and includes participants from many other countries. The event wouldn’t have been a success if it wasn’t also for the efforts of many participants and volunteers, to whom this post is dedicated to:

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The spirit of Chingay 2013

22 02 2013

Themed “Fire in Snow”, Chingay this year celebrates the strength of the human spirit in the face of life’s challenges. Presenting a spectacle (as it always does), with fire representing resilience, bravery, perseverance, passion and determination. This will be placed in contrast with snow representing challenges and hardships. Exemplifying the spirit of this year’s Chingay will be not just the resilient Singaporeans who would be honoured during Chingay, but also the participants who have collectively put in many hours of tireless efforts including rehearsing through last evening’s pouring rain to bring the show to the audience tonight and tomorrow night. Besides being part of the audience, Chingay 2013 can also be watched live at this link.

Participants rehearsing through the pouring rain - exemplifying the spirit of Chingay 2013.

Participants rehearsing through the pouring rain – exemplifying the spirit of Chingay 2013.

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Mr Nah Juay Hng, Chairman of the Chingay Parade Exco with  Peng Qia Qia (澎恰恰), Hong Rong Hong (洪荣宏), Yang Lie (杨烈) and Billy Wang (东方比利) as well as some of the resilient Singaporeans who will be honoured at the event.

Mr Nah Juay Hng, Chairman of the Chingay Parade Exco with Peng Qia Qia (澎恰恰), Hong Rong Hong (洪荣宏), Yang Lie (杨烈) and Billy Wang (东方比利) as well as some of the resilient Singaporeans who will be honoured at the event.





Rediscovering the Pearl of Chinatown

21 02 2013

Stumbling across an old world nestled in the new brings great delight to me. It in a little pocket of space, not so distant from the rush and rumble of the streets of the urban world, where I did rediscover one, Pearl’s Terrace, set at the foot of the south facing slope of Pearl’s Hill.

A world seemingly far from the rush and rumble of the busy streets of nearby Chinatown.

A world seemingly far from the rush and rumble of the busy streets of nearby Chinatown.

Pearl’s Hill Terrace is a place one might have been reluctant to visit in times not so long ago. It was where the men in blue had ruled – where not just the home of the Police Force’s Headquarters as well as some important divisions of the force were located, but a place where police officers had called home.

Just a stone's throw away from the rush and rumble of Chinatown is a world that awaits rediscovery.

Just a stone’s throw away from the rush and rumble of Chinatown is a world that awaits rediscovery.

Towering over the slope today, one sees a long slab block of apartments, seemingly an isolated block of public housing that lay forgotten. Built by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) for, it is one of several physical reminders of a world that had existed in the days before we last saw the snake (the last Chinese Year of the Snake, 2001). That block today, 201 Pearl’s Hill Terrace, has seen new life breathed into it. Not longer are its mix of 1 and 2 bedroom apartments rented to the junior police officers it was built in the late 1960s to house, it has since 2006 been turned into a hostel. Its 336 units are now offered to white-collared workers and students for rent.

View of Chinatown 1973 showing the newly completed People's Park Complex. Beside and behind it the slab block of flats that served as the Police Quarters for junior officers, as well as the Upper and Lower Barracks, can be seen.

View of Chinatown 1973 showing the newly completed People’s Park Complex. Beside and behind it the slab block of flats that served as the Police Quarters for junior officers, as well as the Upper and Lower Barracks, can be seen.

The former Police Quarters at 201 Pearl's Hill Terrace.

The former Police Quarters at 201 Pearl’s Hill Terrace.

It isn’t so much in that block where the charms of the old and perhaps where the reminders of the previous world can be discovered, but in the two lower but grander looking large edifices it overlooks. One, the Upper Barracks, set on a terrace immediately below the block of flats is 195 Pearl’s Hill Terrace. The other is a slightly taller building, the Lower Barracks which is at street level facing Eu Tong Sen Street. As their names suggest, both had also served as policemen’s quarters. Completed in 1934, and built in a simplified Neo-Classical style typical of public buildings of the era, the Public Works Department erected the two to house the Sikh Contingent of the then Straits Settlements Police (SSP).

Windows from the past to the present.

The Upper Barracks provides a look through windows from the past to the present.

The Upper Barracks now looks a little run down and is perhaps is accorded with a little less dignity than it deserves having been, since 2007, turned into offices spaces for lease. It is however where many ghosts not just of its past, but also of Singapore’s colonial past await discovery. Built to house married policemen, it is laid out in a bright and airy way – reminiscent perhaps of the Old Hill Street Police Station, with its six spacious courtyards, open corridors, and generous ventilation openings – giving a sense of light and space within the confines of its stern looking exterior.

The Upper Barracks as seen today.

The Upper Barracks as seen today.

Wandering around the Upper Barracks certainly takes one back to a time when air-conditioned public building was a rarity with its generously provided ventilation openings and open corridors.

Wandering around the Upper Barracks certainly takes one back to a time when air-conditioned public building was a rarity with its generously provided ventilation openings and open corridors.

With the disbanding of the SSP soon after the war, the two barracks were turned over to other civic uses. More recently serving as the Police Headquarters, the Upper Barracks had in the time since also served to house the Ministry of Interior and Defence, from Singapore’s independence to 1970, when the Ministry was split into the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The MHA continued to be housed at the Upper Barracks until 1977 when it moved to Phoenix Park.

Courtyards were a common feature of buildings of the good old days.

Courtyards were a common feature of buildings of the good old days – the pull up bars left behind provides a reminder of the building’s past.

The Lower Barracks, to which there is currently no access to, is one which most would be familiar with being at street level. Built for unmarried policemen, the barracks housed several divisions of the law enforcement agencies under the MHA, the most recent being the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Other units it served as a home to include the Police ‘A’ Division, the Registry of Societies, the Anti-Vice Unit, and the Central Narcotics Bureau. Both the Upper and Lower Barracks were vacated in 2001 when the new Police Cantonment Complex opened. The Lower Barracks is at the present being refurbished for use as a students’ hostel which is opening this year.

The Lower Barracks around the time of it opening in 1934 (source: http://www.hometeam.sg/cmsmedia/).

The Lower Barracks around the time of it opening in 1934 (source: Singapore Police Force at http://www.hometeam.sg/cmsmedia/).

The Lower Barracks.

The Lower Barracks.

While the Upper and Lower Barracks have been put to what does seem like less than dignified uses, both have in fact been given conservation status. More on this and as well as an architectural description of the buildings can be found at the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Conservation of Built Heritage website, excerpts of which follow:

Upper Barracks

“The 3-storey Upper Barracks was built at a higher level on the hill, facing towards the Singapore River. At almost 160 metres in length, it is one of the longest pre-war civic buildings in existence. The combination of its impressive length and elevated position gives it a commanding presence overlooking the Chinatown area. The overall design treatment is more geometrical, with the details of the building articulated to greater emphasize the length of the thirty-one bays of the building. The building also has its ends emphasised through the protrusion of the building bays, while the central entrance is made prominent with the use of pairs of pilasters, in contrast with the single pilasters elsewhere. The features combine to give an overall appearance of palatial grandeur”.

The Upper Barracks from a Singapore Land Authority tender document  in 2007 (source: http://www.sla.gov.sg/doc/new/AnnexB-5Feb2007.jpg).

The Upper Barracks from a Singapore Land Authority tender document in 2007 (source: http://www.sla.gov.sg/doc/new/AnnexB-5Feb2007.jpg).

Lower Barracks

“The 5-storey Lower Barracks are on street level. Set back from Eu Tong Sen Street with a generous plaza, it creates an impressive contrast to the prevalent two and three storey shophouses of Chinatown across the road. The building follows the Classical tradition of having the three parts of the building clearly articulated. The first storey gives a sense of firmness of appearance by having rusticated horizontal bands in the plaster-work. The top of the building is completed with a deep overhanging entablature with a strongly articulated geometric linear cornice line. The centre of the building is given greater emphasis through a shallow triangular pediment, surmounted by flag-poles”.

Branches on an exterior wall of the Lower Barracks. It is a reminder of a time when less was concealed and perhaps of the building's history serving several  branches of law enforcement agencies over the years.

Branches on an exterior wall of the Lower Barracks. It is a reminder of a time when less was concealed and perhaps of the building’s history serving several branches of law enforcement agencies over the years.

Besides the two barracks, there is also a smaller reminder of the old world close by that deserves to also be looked at, a two-storey villa which based on information at the URA Conservation of Built Heritage site, is though to have been built in the 1920s. Currently housing a education centre, the building at 18 Pearl’s Hill Terrace is also thought to have been built as accommodation for a higher ranking officer of the Police Force (or perhaps a high ranking prison warder – the terrace is known to have been where quarters of warders at the nearby Outram Prison (located where the former Outram Park flats were) were located. Most recently housing the Scene of Crime Unit, it has also housed a CID Training Centre and also from 1978 to 1988, the Syariah Court.

18 Pearl's Hill Terrace today.

18 Pearl’s Hill Terrace today.

There is more of the old world to be found just up the hill close to where the somewhat iconic and very distinctive Pearl’s Bank Apartments stands. The block erected in 1976, a subject matter all on itself, stands next to the crest of the hill where a Victorian era service reservoir is located. It is around it where a green oasis in the midst of the city can be found offering an escape which can be hard to find in the overcrowded streets below it. That, together with the four buildings which have found a new lease of life, is where a reminder of world that we have forgotten to appreciate does seem to exist – for the time being at least. While we do know that three of the buildings are being conserved, it may not be very long before the urban world stakes a claim on it.

A linkway from Pearl's Hill Terrace to the Lower Barracks.

A linkway from Pearl’s Hill Terrace to the Lower Barracks.

The area was part of a wider area which had been the subject of a URA planning exercise in the early 2000s. While in the plans developed then the area would still very much be a green space, developments planned for the area around – particularly at neighbouring York Hill across the Central Expressway (CTE) project that some 5,500 new homes will be built, together with landscaped deck across the CTE to link the two hills. While it is good to see that there are plans to open the wonderful green space up to the wider community, it does also mean that we may be seeing the last of a quiet and insulated space where the remnants of a charming and old world can still be found.

A jungle of letter boxes at 201 Pearl's Hill Terrace.

A jungle of letter boxes at 201 Pearl’s Hill Terrace.

Information on Pearl’s Hill and Pearl’s Terrace:

Previous planning considerations for the area:

Patterns of an old world.

Patterns of an old world.





Ladies need only apply

19 02 2013

Guaranteed to have its audience in stitches at the rate of a laugh a minute is Mediacorp’s brand new talkshow, LOL, which is scheduled to be launched in early April. Recordings which are being done with live audiences for what promises to be a show packed with loads of fun and laughter – one which will have you “laughing out loud at the edge of your seat”, has in fact already begun with the producers of the show looking for participants to be part of the audience (which I am afraid is open to ladies only).

Tracie and Adrian Pang with host Judee Tan.

Tracie and Adrian Pang with host Judee Tan.

Ming Bridges singing at the session.

Ming Bridges singing at the session.

The talkshow is recorded in front of a ladies only live audience.

The talkshow is recorded in front of a ladies only live audience.

The talk show, hosted by the extremely humourous and, if I may add, vivacious, Judee Tan – best known perhaps for her role in The Noose and the suave Marcus AC a stylist and creator of Fashion Forward, aims to showcase the latest happenings, the hottest music artists and celebrities, and the very latest in fashions and style. Guests at the inaugural recording session were husband and wife theatre team Adrian and Tracie Pang of Pangdemonium! who spoke about their upcoming production Rabbit Hole, with Singapore based Mandopop sensation, the gorgeous Ming Bridges, performing.

Mandopop sensation had Judee Tan moving to her beat.

Mandopop sensation had Judee Tan moving to her beat.

The hosts and last evening audience.

The hosts and last evening audience.

The audience can also expect styling demos by co-host Marcus AC.

The audience can also expect styling demos by co-host Marcus AC.

Ming Bridges accompanied on guitar by producer and songwriter Eric Ng.

Ming Bridges accompanied on guitar by producer and songwriter Eric Ng.

Upcoming recording dates are 21, 22, 25 and 27 February. Sessions take place at s at *Scape Orchard and start with refreshments at 6.30 pm (audience would need to be seated by 7.15 pm). To be a part of the audience do drop an email to jolynkhew@mediacorp.com.sg and include your name, age, occupation, contact no. and email address, with the preferred date of attendance. Limited seats are available and the production team would contact those selected. Exclusive goodie bags will also be given to all guests. Guests for the upcoming recordings include Yvette King, Shane Pow, Daddy O’s, Jade Seah, BobbyTonelli, George Young and Andayoma. More information on LOL and Toggle is available at http://www.toggle.sg.

Adrian and Tracie.

Adrian and Tracie.

A back view of the studio and the audience.

A back view of the studio and the audience.


Update 21 Feb 2013

The Guys Don’t Get it!

Ooooooh Ladies! Look who we have coming up on LOL! Jade Seah, George Young, Bobby Tonelli, Pierre Png, Andrea De Cruz, Rebecca Lim, Tay Peng Hui!!!!!!!! SCREAM!!!

Catch them and be part of the audience for the brand new fun and happening talk show in town – LOL! Hosted by Judee Tan and Marcus A.C., we guarantee you 2 hours of entertainment, fun, laughter, fashion, celebrities and more!

So how do you get to be part of the LOL fun?

RSVP Quickly to : jolynkhew@mediacorp.com.sg

Provide the names, age, occupation , contact nos. and email addresses of you and your gal pals (sorry, only the girls get it!)

Tell us which of these dates: Feb 25, Feb 27, Mar 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 you prefer (Yes, you can come for more than one show and yes, it’s FREE!)

We film Live at:

Venue: The Gallery, Level 5, Scape, 2 Orchard Link.
Time: 6.30pm from refreshments from Dr Cafe
To be seated by: 7.15pm
Ends: About 9pm

And who are some of our upcoming guests?

Tay Peng Hui, Rebecca Lim, Chou Enlai, Hossan Leong, Paul Foster, Jaymee Ong, Glenda Chong, Timothy Goh, Alicia Pan, Jack and Rai, Vanessa Fernandez, Siti Zahidah.

We’ve also got a very special guest band coming in from the States, so look out for them!






Obsessions and flirtations

19 02 2013

I will not pretend to know much or anything at all about Fashion, even though that I did very recently find myself flirting with the obsessions of a Fashion label, Juicy Couture, whose velour track suits gained what could be described as cult status at a presentation of the house’s Spring / Summer 2013 Collection in Singapore.

Flirting with Juicy Couture's Spring and  Summer Collection. A model shows off a dress from the Summer collection.

Flirting with Juicy Couture’s Spring and Summer Collection. A model shows off a dress from the Summer collection.

The label which has been present in the local scene for over 10 years, has outlets at Takashimaya and at Marina Bay Sands. Known for its fresh and playful approach to style, it’s following is primarily from the 18 to 35 year olds. It does also have bright and trendy offerings with an apparel and accessories range for younger girls as well. The label traces it orgins to 1997, having been started by two, “fashion-obsessed friends”, and now has stores in over 30 countries. This includes 126 stores in North America, as well as many across Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle-East.

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The label’s Spring looks which has hits the stores here since January this year, is one that is inspired by the flirty, glamorous pin up girls of the 1950s. LeAnn Nealz, the President and Chief Creative Officer of Juicy Couture, described the collection at its debut as a reinterpretation of the spirit of the pin up era and in a modern and fresh way, with “a subtle sexiness carried throughout but still feels Juicy and fun”. The spring collection includes soft silk dresses, rompers, sharp printed blazers, glamorous Juicy Jeans and a new interpretation of the label’s iconic track and also includes accessories such as jewel encrusted leather handbags and pave jewelry.

Juicy Couture's flirty Spring looks - inspired by the pin-up girls of the 1950s.

Juicy Couture’s flirty Spring looks – inspired by the pin-up girls of the 1950s.

The label’s Summer’s looks (available from March 2013) on the other hand, is one that embraces the bohemian spirit for Summer, “full of vibrant sun-kisses, hues in lush fabrications, and relaxed day-to-night dressing taking her from Malibu Beach to the Chateau Marmont”. Described as bringing out a “beach-chic” style, the Summer collection is marked by its silk and lace fluid dresses, burnout bright tropical prints and layered beaded jewels. It also has a range of accessories to supplement the look including handbags with signature gold hardware in light washed soft leathers and treated canvas adorned with stud accents; oversized totes and cross body chain bags.

The Summer collection takes her from Malibu Beach to the Chateau Marmont.

The Summer collection takes her from Malibu Beach to the Chateau Marmont.

The Summer look with a Leni Clutch.

The Summer look with a Leni Clutch.

Also presented was its Juicy Couture Stella and Surfside range of watches. The Stella range is described as sleek siren with sleek, smooth contours and oversized 41 mm case in yellow- or rose-gold-toned stainless steel and is available with a bold link deployment bracelet or an embossed colored leather strap. The new Surfside range is sporty yet elegant with its rubber-coated leather strap or with a glossywhite alligator-embossed leather strap.

Watches from the Stella range.

Watches from the Stella range.

Juicy Couture’s stores in Singapore are located at Takashimaya Shopping Centre, #03-03 and The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Galleria Level B1-78.

Accessories - a Rhinestone Chain and Bracelet from the Spring collection.

Accessories – a Rhinestone Chain and Bracelet from the Spring collection.

Aquarius Geo Dress from the Spring collection.

Aquarius Geo Dress from the Spring collection.

The Rope Yarn Jacquard Blazer.

The Rope Yarn Jacquard Blazer.

Attractive looking bangles and bracelets.

Attractive looking bangles and bracelets.

JC's range of fashion accessories includes mobile phone cases.

JC’s range of fashion accessories includes mobile phone cases.

Leather Handbags.

Leather Handbags.

A cotton lycra dress from the kids' wear collection.

A cotton lycra dress from the kids’ wear collection.

The Summer collection features dresses with bright tropical prints.

The Summer collection features dresses with bright tropical prints.


About Juicy Couture

Juicy Couture embraces the bright and glamorous fun of its Los Angeles heritage by discovering the couture in the everyday, and delivering an element of surprise in all of its designs. Famous for ascending the tracksuit to its status as a casual luxury icon, the brand continues to evolve, bringing the same confident, whimsical and feminine attitude to everything it creates. Today, the global phenomenon offers an assortment that spans fashion apparel for women, girls and baby, handbags, shoes, intimates, swimwear, fragrance, accessories, jewelry, sunglasses and small leather goods.

Started by two fashion-obsessed friends in 1997, Juicy Couture quickly achieved global recognition and garnered millions of fans, many with famous faces. In 2003, Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (NYSE: FNP) (formerly Liz Claiborne Inc.) acquired the company, and in 2010, Juicy Couture tapped LeAnn Nealz as Chief Creative Officer and President to guide the brand into its next phase of growth, while preserving the house’s playful and unique DNA.

North America is home to approximately 126 Juicy Couture and Juicy Couture Outlet stores. You can also shop Juicy Couture in select specialty and department stores and at JuicyCouture.com. Internationally, Juicy Couture and Juicy Couture Outlet stores can be found in over 30 different countries across Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Follow Juicy Couture on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and our blog, The Juicy.





Perhaps tradition needs a smartphone app

15 02 2013

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Spreading happiness at Serangoon Gardens

14 02 2013

Tucked away in a somewhat obscure area of Serangoon Gardens is a delightful little café that as its name, Sun Ray Café, suggests, brings sun rays over the area. Describing itself as a joyful and offbeat spot, the cafe is probably better known to pet owners – it being one of the few pet friendly eateries found in the area of Singapore.  I guess, not being a pet owner, I might be forgiven for not being aware of the cafe, and it was only through an invitation for a food tasting session that I got to know of its existence.

Yu Sheng that is served not with raw fish, but with smoked salmon and tossed with a fork.

Yu Sheng that is served not with raw fish, but with smoked salmon and tossed with a fork.

That it is an offbeat place is probably also seen in some of the food creations made specially for the occasion of the Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day. One of the first things we got  to do was toss the what has come to be a tradition for the Lunar New Year in Singapore and Malaysia, Yu Sheng or Raw Fish Salad. That is perhaps as traditional as it does get, not only is the “Raw Fish” Salad topped not by raw fish as its name might suggest, but by a generous helping of smoked salmon, but it also is  tossed with a fork. Topped off with croutons, and served with plum sauce, the salad’s ingredients and the salmon topping is shaped into a short cylinder in a mould – taking on a rather quirky and non-conventional appearance. The Sun Ray Café Yu Sheng Platter, named Rising Joy is rather a rather delightful twist to the traditional dish, comes in two sizes – a small portion ideal for 2 diners is priced at $10.80 and the large portion for 4 diners costs $16.80 and will be available until 24 February. Being a pet friendly, the café also serves a pet version of the dish with boiled salmon, a portion of which costs $6.80.

A peek into the pet friendly café.

A peek into the pet friendly café.

The main part of the food tasting was to introduce the café’s Valentine’s Day menu (for which this post probably comes a little too late for). Available on 13 and 14 February, the menu comes with a choice of three entrées. The menu is also served with a Smoked Salmon Salad served with a wonderful walnut sauce dressing; a Cuppa’ Mushroom Soup inspired by how cappuccino is served these days which I thought was just right – light and not overladen with cream; a choice of Home Made Tiramisu or Chocolate Lava Cake; and a choice of drinks – a Signature Mocktail Mellini or a glass of House Wine. The entrées can be selected from a Australian Seared Steak (marinated in red wine and rosemary and served with Lyonnais potatoes); Crusted Salmon (sesame crusted salmon with sweet taro mash – I am told it is naturally sweet taro); or the Honey Glazed Spring Chicken (grilled and served with oven-roasted potatoes). I though the salmon turned out the best – full of flavour complemented by the sesame crust. The steak was also tender and juicy and rich in flavour. The chicken however did taste a little too sweet and wasn’t to my liking. The menus are priced at $45 for the steak, $35 for the salmon and  $30 for the chicken.

The smoked salmon salad with a walnut sauce dressing.

The smoked salmon salad with a walnut sauce dressing.

Cuppa' Mushroom Soup.

Cuppa’ Mushroom Soup.

The Valentine's Day menu offers a choice of entrées. The Australian Seared Steak menu costs $45.

The Valentine’s Day menu offers a choice of entrées. The Australian Seared Steak menu costs $45.

The crusted salmon.

The crusted salmon served with sweet taro mash.

Honey Glazed Spring Chicken.

Honey Glazed Spring Chicken.

The very refreshing Signature Mellini Mocktail.

The very refreshing Signature Mellini Mocktail.

Besides the food – the café’s owner is also big on coffee. A trained barista, he hopes to also turn the café into one that serves specialty coffees and is considering roasting his own beans. Tthe café was kind enough to have a little coffee appreciation session during which Columbia Geisha beans (which we were told cost $300 a kg!) were used and the practice of coffee cupping was  introduced – after which I will not look at a cup of kopi-o in the same way again.

Brewing the Geisha beans.

Brewing the Geisha beans.

A cupping spoon.

A cupping spoon.

Located at 79 Brighton Crescent, more information on the pet friendly café can be found at its Facebook page. And do note that, as a special treat, the café is extending a $10 return voucher – all you would need to do to claim the voucher is to say “Happiness will keep us alive!” to the staff serving you.








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