Moustaches, Lollipops and Camembert

9 06 2013

Thinking about what or who from the 1960s did serve as an inspiration as part of the themed challenge for this year’s Singapore Blog Awards, it dawned upon me that for some reason, many of the figures I have looked up to at some point in my life who featured in the 1960s either wore masks or moustaches (sometimes both). There were times when I would probably have wanted very much to imitate their appearances, but it wouldn’t have been just my inhibitions that would have prevented me from doing so – a lack of facial hair does prevent me cultivating some of the more exotic moustaches that my heroes seemed to wear. Plus, that more recent attempt by a certain cabinet minister to dress like that rapier wielding masked hero, Zorro, I did look up to as a child in public, does make me feel a lot less inclined to do an imitation.

The Hallucinogenic Toreador (1969 - 1970), Salvador Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida (Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/bb/The_Hallucinogenic_Toreador.jpg).

The Hallucinogenic Toreador, Salvador Dalí Museum.

Imitation of appearances aside, one particular mustachioed figure who I often find myself wishing to imitate (his depictions of flies aside), is one for whom the swinging sixties went much further than marking Z rapier cuts on defeated villains and represented a particularly creative period in his life. The figure – with his flamboyant wisp of facial hair which is said to be styled after that of a Spanish artist Diego Velázquez and an artist in his own right, is the somewhat eccentric Salvador Dalí.

Take a peek into the inner workings of the great surrealist artist Salvador Dalí at the ArtScience Musuem in Marina Bay Sands.

A projection of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí seen at an exhibition at the ArtScience Musuem in Singapore.

Known for the somewhat bizarre surrealist expressions of his inner workings, it wasn’t the surreal or peculiar side of him I would have got to know early on in life. Dalí is of course the man being the logo for a brand of lollipops, Chupa Chups, which was to take Singapore by storm in the 1970s – which might have explained the frequent visits I had to make to Pegu Road dental clinic as a schoolboy.

The famous Chupa Chups logo that I did encounter in my childhood was perhaps one of Dalí's less bizarre works.

The famous Chupa Chups logo that I did encounter in my childhood was perhaps one of Dalí’s less bizarre works.

It is however in Dalí’s more bizarre expressions that I have held a fascination for since my encounters with them later in life. It is through them that I see Dalí very much as an artistic genius and a source of creative inspiration (which perhaps explains my bizarre behavioural tendencies), for whom that fine line that is said to lie between genius and insanity doesn’t exist.

Dalí is known for his bizarre interpretation of the world around him which is expressed by depictions of everyday objects in a ways that seem beyond human comprehension.

Dalí is known for his bizarre interpretation of the world around him which is expressed by depictions of everyday objects in a ways that seem beyond human comprehension.

It is in one particular work that was executed at the end of the 1960s, The Hallucinogenic Toreador, where I did find much of that insane genius. A large scale and somewhat mystical piece I had the pleasure of viewing during a visit I just had to make when I found myself in the U.S. to the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida in the summer of 1989, The Hallucinogenic Toreador is one where we see many of the images which he seems to constantly replicate in his work. The images are ones which are depicted with great symbolism, offer insights into the artist’s life and his experience of life, his inner thoughts, as well as his obsessions and fears – presented in a way that could only have come out of that hallucinogenic state of mind he is often said to go deep into.

One of the images we do often see repeated is a somewhat insignificant figure of a little boy. The boy is one Dalí uses to represent himself in his youth and is one who bears witness to much of his work and his journey. It is that image that I often find myself relating to – I do have that little boy in me who bears witness to much of my own life’s journey.

A nice touch added by the curators - a reflection of clocks distorted by their reflection on convex and concave mirrors at the exit from the exhibition.

A reflection of myself and timepieces distorted perhaps in a Dalí-esque melting timepiece fashion by a reflection on convex and concave mirrors at Dalí exhibition held at the ArtSceince Museum.

The seemingly incomprehensible world we do see in much of Dalí does often have me attempting to see the world as how the artist’s might see it. The world is after all an incomprehensible place made comprehensible by only how society would have us see it. What Dalí does somehow tell me is to look beyond all that and to see what is around me and all else as he did see time through a melted piece of cheese. Looking a piece of Camembert has certainly never been the same for me – I stop to take a second look before gobbling down what is one of my favourite cheeses. While it is not the bizarre I seek to show in capturing the experiences which make up my life, through words and photographs – I do stop to ask myself if that is indeed a melted timepiece that I am able to see somewhere in it.


This post is written as a submission for the themed challenge for the Singapore Blog Awards 2013 for which I am a finalist in the Panasonic Best Photography Blog category. If as a reader you do feel that the blog is deserving of the award, I would be most grateful for your kind voting support – reader’s votes do count for 30% of the scoring. To vote, registration (and account activation via an email you will receive upon registration) would required. Voters do stand a chance to win some prizes. Following activation, you may vote for finalists of your choice for each of the ten main categories, seven special categories and two celebrity categories, once a day (calendar day based on Singapore time). For more on what the use of photography means to me, do visit a previous post “Come Walk with Me …“.






Come walk with me …

8 06 2013

I started this blog back in January 2008, intending it as a means for me to take a walk back through my life’s journey. That was some two months into a working stint in Penang which in reminding me of a Singapore I had long forgotten, triggered a deluge of memories of my younger days in a gentler Singapore I had a most wonderful time growing up in which were locked up in me.

Come walk with me ...

Come walk with me …

It was then that I decided on trying to capture my experiences in life, moments not just of my happy childhood, but also the many stops I made on life’s long journey – a blog seemed a good enough way of doing this, allowing me to capture the many impressions made on me of both past and present. A collection of posts related to the early chapters of my life can be found on “The Singapore of My Younger Days”.

277A1152The “bright lights” of Singapore after dark I often seek to capture.

November's a busy time in and around Kyoto when many from far and wide flock to the former imperial capital just to catch koyo - the autumn leaves. Colouring my life with a pause along life’s journey taking in Kyoto’s autumn colours.

The winter landscape at the top of Mount Balwang Chilling out in winter at the top of Mount Balwang on another pause along life’s journey.

The blog has evolved over the years, and has very much been associated with the use of photography, twice being named as the Best Photography Blog at the Singapore Blog Awards and being shortlisted as a finalist for the award at this year’s edition. Photography was never intended as the focus of the blog, nor do I describe myself as a photographer, although photography is a medium I used to help in telling my story. Photographs are to me not just about capturing beautiful or perfect images, but are also a powerful visual means that can be used to convey mood and emotion, a sense of time and place, and a wonderful way to capture the moment and the passing of time.

277A0277bAfter dinner conversations, Chonburi, Thailand.

277A0277bA representation of architectural conservation in Singapore.

It is the consequence of the passage of time I am constantly confronted with in my attempt to connect with my memories, in particular, the rapidly changing landscapes in an island nation which has not stopped to pause in its race to modernise. It is perhaps a regret that I have that I did not think of harnessing this means – which I did have at my disposal, to previously do this, and I set out to also capture the present not just to connect with the past, but also as it will inadvertently become the past.

Capturing time, place and the moment on my journeys out of Singapore.

It is in doing just this, that I am also able to celebrate the wonderful experience I have of living in a Singapore that for me, has more to offer than its bright lights, glossy new icons, busy shopping malls, and eating places that the good folks in our tourism board seem to want to sell above all else. It is however far beyond the tourist view of Singapore, where the real Singapore is to be found, a gentler world in which the rich diversity of cultures and traditions which made Singapore what it was before the modern city took over can still be discovered. A collection of post in which I celebrate Singapore can be found at “Celebrating Singapore”.

Celebrating the arts and entertainment scene in Singapore.

The journey taken with this blog, has been one that is a very enriching one, and one in which I have learned a lot more about myself and my roots in Singapore. The blog has also provided many opportunities for me to broaden my view of and experience of life, including the many new and valuable friendships made with the many I have met along the way.  I am also grateful that it has given me the opportunity to share my impressions and memories through various channels. One is the Singapore Memory Project, a project which aims to collect the many memories we as Singaporeans have of living in Singapore.

Capturing the many facets of Singapore.

I have also been provided with the rare opportunity to exhibit some of my photographs at two recent National Heritage Board (NHB) exhibitions. The first, was a small photo exhibition I was able to curate on the last days of the railway through Singapore, “First Journeys, Last Goodbyes“. This was held as part of the Motoring Heritage Weekend at Tanjong Pagar Railway Station in September 2012 and involved a collection of photographs contributed by the community, including some of my own.

The other contribution I made was to an exhibition that is currently being held at the National Museum of Singapore, “Trading Stories: Conversations with Six Tradesmen“. For this I put together a series of photographs which offers my impressions of how spaces in which some of the early traders thrived have been transformed.

One thing that I hope that the blog can help in doing is in raising awareness on the lesser publicised issues which in celebrating Singapore, I am often put in touch with. One issue in which the blog did help in raising awareness on was on the proposal to preserve the rail corridor as a green corridor in 2011. More recently, posts relating to two religious National Monuments which are badly in need of funds for repairs, did help bring the plight of the monuments to the attention of the mainstream media. The two posts relate to the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd and the Church of Sts Peter and Paul, the two oldest Catholic churches in Singapore, on which reports in the mainstream media soon followed.

This year’s edition of the Singapore Blog Awards sees some excellent photography blogs. However, if as a reader you do feel that the blog does match up  or exceed the standards of the blogs it is up against at this years award, I would be most grateful for your kind voting support – reader’s votes do count for 30% of the scoring. To vote, registration (and account activation via an email you will receive upon registration) would required. Voters do stand a chance to win some prizes. Following activation, you may vote for finalists of your choice for each of the ten main categories, seven special categories and two celebrity categories, once a day (calendar day based on Singapore time).

This post wouldn’t be complete without me giving a shout-out to some the very good bloggers with who I have become friends with or who have been loyal supporters. These are:





Colours of Macau

14 10 2012

Having revelled in the many contrasts that gives Macau a unique flavour, and finding gold and happiness as well as having taken flights of fancy in the tiny territory, getting high up in Sky before getting wet in a dream, I must say that Macau is a lot more than just that blend of east and west and of old and new that the initial impressions I had of the territory had given me. A territory that I would certainly want to get lost in just to have a deeper appreciation of its unique culture, its wonderful mix of old in the new, and most certainly the delectable treats one seems to find in almost every corner, the impression that a four day trip courtesy of the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) and Tiger Airways has left on me is one of the celebration of colour that is what makes the territory what it is – a celebration that is certainly a much more colourful one that what I have attempted to capture through the lens:

Colours of old Macau

Colours of a shop window on the streets of old Macau.

Colours of celebration at the ruins of St. Paul’s (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Green of the entrance to an apartment block in old Taipa (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Green of a soda bottle in a Portuguese restaurant in old Taipa (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Colours of almond cookies on the streets of old Macau.

Colours of almond cookies on Taipa’s food street.

Colours overhead at Taipa’s food street.

Colours of old Taipa.

Gold of fried wan tons at Wong Chi Kei in Senado Square.

Red and gold of ‘jerky’ displays on the streets of old Macau.

The glow of red lanterns at Tak Seng On Pawnshop in old Macau.

Red and gold of lighted candles flickering in St. Dominic’s Church.

Red of the A-Ma Temple in old Macau.

Red of plastic drink crates in Taipa Village.

Colours of a toy store along Taipa’s food street.

Gold in pastel shades on the streets of old Macau.

The light gold of columns of a colonial building in Taipa.

Gold of a door in old Coloane.

Light gold of a window at the Moorish Barracks in old Macau.

Colours of new Macau

A golden dragon in the City of Dreams (Photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The gold of luxury goods in the CIty of Dreams.

The gold of The Venetian Macao (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The gold of lychee wood fire at the Jade Dragon in the City of Dreams.

The gold of chair coverings at the Macau Tower Convention Centre (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Gold, white and black of a queue of taxis at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Red and gold of the new world at the City of Dreams.

The golden glow of the amphitheatre at Fisherman’s Wharf and the Macau Sands in the background (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Dark gold of of a ceiling decoration in the City of Dreams.

Blood red of a scene at The House of Dancing Water.

Silver of ice cubes at Sky 21 (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Red and gold of corks at the Macau Wine Museum (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The colours of an annual celebration of fireworks.

Colours of the sunset over the Cotai Strip.

Colours of a glorious sunrise over the Friendship Bridge (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).


The trip was made possible by the kind sponsorship of the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) which included a three night stay at the Grand Lapa Macau, and also Tiger Airways who sponsored the two way flights.


Links to Macau’s colours:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting has started (on 28 September 2012) and ends on 15 October 2012. Votes can be cast on a daily basis at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






Minus 8 degrees Celcius in Macau

7 10 2012

In between sky and water there has to be ice and fire. At least that was how it did seem on the second half of the third day of a Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) sponsored trip to the former Portuguese territory.

A different side of Macau. A frozen replica of the A-Ma Temple at the CotaiExpo.

The afternoon had started high in the sky with lunch at Sky 21, and before we found ourselves immersed in the lychee wood fire of the Jade Dragon for a quick dinner before the spectacle of The House of Dancing Water, there was still time to be led by Venetian canals, and to explore the frozen world that with temperatures of minus eight degrees Celcius, certainly seemed far removed from the heat of the Macanese summer.

The passage to the frozen world took us by the canals of Venice brought to Macau by the Venetian Macao Resort Hotel.

We even had an accordionist to entertain us along the way.

The frozen world was that of Ice World 2012, this year’s edition of highly popular display of ice carvings which was at the tail end of a four month run that ended on 16 September 2012, held at CotaiExpo within the Venetian Macao. For this edition, the 18,000 square foot ice hall was divided into ten zones with the works of 50 of the best ice sculptors on display. Among the eye-catching ice sculptures were replicas of many recognisable landmarks included several large scale ones that included Tiananmen, the A-Ma Temple, the Petronas Towers, and even Singapore’s tourism symbol, the Merlion.

At the entrance to the frozen world in which temperatures are maintained at -8 degrees C.

An ice sculpture of Tiananmen.

The recognisable Merlion.

Sculpture at the entrance.

Another sculpture at the entrance.

Pandas close to the entrance.

There were also several interesting sculptures, which being the year of the dragon, included several that incorporated the mythical beast such as a Dragon Boat and a Double Dragon Slide. It was on the slide where several of us were able to revisit our lost childhoods and where one did find out that ice wasn’t as slippery as one might have imagined (Ai Sakura got stuck on the slide not just once but in all three of her attempts to slide).

Dragons made an appearance.

Down the slide I went …

Someone did manage getting stuck on the slide.

Other notable sculptures were a 100 metre Magic Ice Maze, which amazingly, was constructed out of 1,000 blocks of coloured ice; and a piano that could actually be played! The four month run of what was the second edition of the ice sculpture exhibition attracted some 176,000 visitors … and certainly is another surprise packed into the 29 square kilometres that is Macau. Tickets to Ice World 2012 were sponsored by The Venetian Macao.

The Magic Ice Maze.

The ice piano that could be played on.


More photographs


All photographs in this post were taken using a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 which Panasonic Singapore kindly lent to all ten bloggers for the trip to Macau. The trip was made possible by the kind sponsorship of MGTO which included a three night stay at the Grand Lapa Macau, and also Tiger Airways who sponsored the two way flights.


Links to being put on ice:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways
The Venetian Macao
CotaiExpo


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting has started (on 28 September 2012) and ends on 15 October 2012. Votes can be cast on a daily basis at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






High on Sky

1 10 2012

Lunch on the third day was to be quite a surprise, the venue for it being high in the Sky above the Macau peninsula. It was on the 21st level of the AIA Tower, at the aptly named Sky 21 to be exact, a destination that as I was to discover, offered more than just a great dining experience in a room with a view.

Sky 21 is a surprise that awaits on the 21st and 22nd floors of the AIA Tower in Macau. Sky Life – an action and entertainment venue on the 22nd floor is seen here (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The sign at the entrance to Sky 21 (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Much of the decor found in the MOP 20 million dining and entertainment venue is Zen inspired (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Stepping through into the restaurant, the view offered not only out the windows but of the restaurant itself was a pretty eye-catching one. The 80 seat main dining area’s Zen inspired décor, was certainly one with a lot of appeal. It was at a private room where we were to have lunch, and stepping inside, it did not take very long for the cameras to come out. The views out the window and the room itself certainly seemed to catch the fancy of everyone in the group. The VIP Room accommodates a maximum of 16 people, and can be reserved for private events such as birthday parties, private dining, and small meetings and is equipped with a private restroom, projector and screen.

The Zen inspired decor seen in the main dining area (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The VIP Room is a room that certainly has a view (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The southward view from the VIP Room (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Decor inside the VIP Room.

The lunch menu at Sky 21 offers a selection of set meals, a Pan-Asian selection that gives diners a choice of Macanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Thai, Indian, Japanese and Vietnamese. I decided on the Japanese which proved to be an excellent choice, as was the various other choices made by the other in the group. After a common raw tuna salad that was served, my set was served. Beautifully arranged on a tray, it had a bowl of a crab roe salad with aloe, another of udon noodles in soup with Japanese roast pork, a generous serving of sushi, and a rather attractively presented slice of wasabi cheesecake.

Inside the VIP Room (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Choices, choices! Willy probably wishes he could order everything on the menu (i did too!) (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The Japanese set that I ordered (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The Wasabi cheesecake – yummy!

Valyn staring into her dessert – one that came with the Macanese set.

Being one who eats first and asks questions later, I will leave reviewing the food to one of my favourite food bloggers, Yiwei. I can however say that the food certainly did not disappoint and is very good value based on the prices that were on the menu.

The food review is best left to food blogger Yiwei.

There was some time for a small presentation of prizes to the winners of the previous day’s race through the streets of old Macau at which no one came away disappointed. Even with the team I was in coming in an embarrassing last, Kaika (my teammate) and I did receive a prize – for a photo posted during the race. The prizes were presented by Iris of the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) in Singapore, who we have to thank for making the trip such a wonderful experience. The MGTO were the kind sponsors of the trip, with Tiger Airways, which flies to Macau daily, sponsoring the flights to and from Macau.

Iris announcing who the winners of the race were (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A shot of my race teammate Kaika.

Valyn showing the prize that she got … (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A short tour followed of the MOP 20 million luxury dining, shopping and entertainment destination, which is not only on the 21st floor AIA Tower, but also extends one floor up to the 22nd floor. On the same level as the restaurant, we were to discover a surprise that was hidden in a room behind closed doors – an exclusive luxury retail showroom that is reserved for Sky’s VIP guests. Designed to attract the big spender, there is a selection of hard-to-find luxury goods on offer behind the showcases … something that certainly opened the eyes of the ladies in the group (and most of the men too)! Access to the showroom can also be made via a concierge service that is available through one of the Suncity group VIP rooms which can be found in all Macau 5 star Casinos.

Inside Sky Luxe (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Leaving Sky Luxe behind, we went up a flight of stairs to the 22nd level where we got a look at Sky Life, an action and entertainment venue which offers live entertainment and features guest DJs; and also the SKY B bar and lounge with an open terrace which has great views of Macau Tower and of the area around the Grand Lisboa. The two outlets do also offer dining – a semi-buffet Western Excutive Lunch is available as well as a Classic / Asian Afternoon Tea. Both certainly are cool places I wouldn’t at all mind an evening out in.

Sky B is a bar on the 22nd level (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The open terrace of Sky B offers magnificent views of the area around Macau Tower … (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5) …

… and the skyscrapers around the Grand Lisboa (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Another view of Sky B (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

At this point I would like to express my appreciation to Sky 21 for the scrumptious lunch and also for showing what a wonderful concept Sky is all about. It certainly is a place to see and also be seen in. More information on Sky 21 can be found at its website (click here).


Links to getting high:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways
Sky 21


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting starts on 28 September 2012 and details can be found at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






Wet in the City of Dreams

26 09 2012

My recent four day sojourn in Macau was one that provided me with a deeper appreciation of the very compact territory, and what it has to offer the visitor, which certainly is a lot more than I had imagined. I was fascinated by every bit of the territory that I got to experience, a territory which is a world not just where east and west have blended well together, but also where the new world and the old seem have found an equilibrium. Among the different experiences that I did have over the four days, one certainly stands out from an entertainment perspective. It is also one which perhaps showcases how east and west, as well as old and new, have managed to come together to provide not only a harmonious outcome – but one that will surely mesmerise. It was one that I must say captured my imagination, and one found not on the absorbing streets, but off them in the new world in which dreams must surely made in – the very aptly named City of Dreams.

What surely must be a dream in the City of Dreams.

The House of Dancing Water blends influences from East and West with 80 performers representing some 25 countries.

It is at the City of Dreams, Melco Crown Entertainment’s integrated entertainment resort on the Cotai Strip, that one of the most stunning theatre productions I have been fortunate to witness, takes to the stage. The production is Franco Dragone’s The House of Dancing Water, which goes beyond the description of the word ‘stunning’ and possible synonyms in a sentence. In fact, the production provides audiences with an experience which words can not sufficiently describe. That it plays to packed houses show after show since it made its debut two years ago on 16 September 2010, with some 1.5 million having watched the show during the period, is testament to how well it has been received and continues to be received.

Shanghai born ballerina Faye Leung takes on the leading role of the Princess.

The show has played to packed audiences since it opened in September 2010. More than 1.5 million have watched the spectacular show since then.

The House of Dancing Water is a production that is certainly like no other that I have watched. It combines on a water stage, 270 degrees around which the audience is seated, an explosion of dance, theatre, music, swimming, diving and acrobatics, part of which goes into some very daring stunts that go beyond simple circus acts. That, together with the stunningly dramatic visual effects that is provided by projections, movement, elaborate costumes, lighting and props, as well as some 239 water fountains (some of which go as high up as 18 metres), makes it a show that has to be not just watched but also to marvel at, even with a storyline which can be said to be rather clichéd. The storyline is intended to take the audience on a roller-coaster ride of human emotions, culminating in the triumph of good over evil. It is perhaps the manner in which that storyline is delivered that renders it secondary.

239 fountains are used to propel jets of water as high up as 18 metres in the air (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Dance and water combine to provide a dramatic effect.

The storyline revolves around the well told story of the triumph of good over evil. One of the ‘evil’ characters takes the form of the Dark Queen, played by Ana Arroyo.

Very elaborate costumes are used – up to 400 in total. Some like the ones seen here weight up to 2 kilogrammes.

The performance combines dance, theatre, music, swimming, diving and acrobatics with effects provided by water, movement, lighting and and daring stunts that go beyond simple circus acts.

East and West meet on water.

The efforts of the performers in going through their routines on stage is certainly one that is challenging both technically as well as being physically demanding, and that alone justified the generous applause that they received at the end of the show. The roles require the artists, 80 in total from 25 different countries, not just to be dancers, but also swimmers, divers, acrobats and stuntmen in constant motion. The stunts that are performed are spectacular and certainly not without peril, and has some fly through the air, seemingly with the greatest of ease, which the loudest ‘oohs and aahs’ from the audience seemed to be reserved for. One scene has performers launched into somersaults from swings, while another performers hurtle through the air Evel Knievel style on motorcycles (motorcycle which we were to learn that are changed every six months) 15 metres above stage. All of this does make for an extremely dynamic show, one that left me breathless in my seat trying to keep up with all that was happening on stage.

The performers go through technically challenging and physically demanding routines. Many stunts are also performed at height.

One of the scenes has performers hurtling through the air, launched by giant swings.

Another highlight is a scene which see motorcycle jumps Evel Knievel style.

The motorcycles go as high up as 15 metres in the air.

Special motorcycles are used which are replaced every six months.

Having been completely enthralled by what I witnessed on stage, there was a treat that awaited the group of bloggers I was in – a tour backstage scheduled for the morning after we watched the show. It was through the backstage tour from which I received a much better appreciation of what does go behind the scenes to make the show what it is. The production must be one that has to be appreciated not just for what we see on stage, but also in what does go on behind the scenes. The coordination effort alone is a monumental one that involves not just the 80 performers, but also another 160 crew members from 35 different nationalities working behind the scenes. That everything does seem to go according to clockwork show after show must surely be a marvellous achievement.

The male leading role of the Stranger is played by Jesko von den Steinen.


The grace of Faye Leung as the Princess.

The clown in the show – Lago the Dark Queen’s Fenelon Minister.

The performer who plays Wabo the Wiseman is also a contortionist.

An expression of joy at the moment that love triumphs over hate.

The theatre as seen during the ‘backstage’ tour (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

At the centre of the purpose-built theatre is the huge pool. The pool, which contains some 3.7 million gallons or 17 million litres of very clean water (we were told it is kept a lot cleaner than any other commercial pools), or that contained by more than 5 Olympic sized swimming pools, serves as the stage. In the pool 11 hydraulically operated ten-ton elevators are moved up a metre and down 7 metres, allowing it to be converted from an aquatic stage to a dry one – a perforated non-slip metal floor allows water to rapidly be drained away. Some 36 scuba divers are deployed to assist with underwater work with 20 providing support (and assistance to the performers) during the show, including during a seemingly perilous scene where a cage containing one of the main characters, The Princess, is lowered into the pool. In this case, divers assist no only to open the cage to help the performer out, but are also on standby with a spare breathing apparatus should anything untoward happen.

Looking into the depths of the 3.7 million gallon pool – which has a depth of some 8 metres – some 36 scuba divers work in the depths with up to 20 deployed to provide support during the show (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The entry and exit point for divers and performers below the seating – different colour lighting is used to identify each quadrant to allow cast and crew to know where they are (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The red quadrant (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Divers provide assistance to performers in circumstances such as this where a performer is lowered into the depths inside a cage.

The stage as seen ‘backstage’ (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The flooring of the stage at the top of hydraulic elevators is perforated to allow water to drain quickly (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

From the depths of the pool, we were taken to the heights above the stage, first to the fourth level, some 17 metres above. It is from a 360 degree catwalk at this level that the scenery props and the artists are lowered from and raised to, an effort that requires the use of the 40 rigging winches found on the catwalk. Just looking down from the catwalk to the pool level is enough to give the same effect that standing on the glass floor at the top of Macau Tower gave, and that was only level four … there was still level 8 to go up to, but not before a look at the dressing rooms. In the dressing rooms we could have a closer look at some of the 400 costumes that are used including one that weighs 2 kilogrammes. It is no wonder that the artists have such well toned bodies! An amazing fact we learned was that over 15,000 pieces of Swarovski crystals are used in the costumes! We also had an appreciation of the effort made in the selection of textiles for the costumes – neoprene is used to keep its shape and withstand the effects of the water.

A view of the stage, pool and seating from the catwalk 17 metres up (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A scene during which the cage is hoisted up to the catwalk level – a retractable platform allows performers to get in and out of such props safely.

The cage being raised.

A close examination of a mask in the dressing room.

The view from level 8 provides an appreciation of the scale of the 2000 seat theatre and the efforts that have gone into setting up the USD 250 million production. The purpose-built theatre was designed by the Pei Partnership in collaboration with Franco Dragone’s team. At level 8, 40 metres above the stage, we see the world that the performer sees descending and more … a foldable platform below us – some 24.5 metres above the stage can be seen. That is where another highlight of the show – a high dive that takes place close to the end of it, is made from. It certainly does take nerves of steel to take a dive from that high! Level 8 is also where the bungee cords are suspended from and stored under lock and key – safety certainly is paramount in production where much can possibly go wrong.

The view from 40 metres above the stage from level 8 (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

One interesting fact that was shared on the elevator ride down to the last stop, the Control Booth, was that the elevators were equipped with mirrors and did not have cameras in them as they served as changing rooms for the artists as they moved from one routine to the next. The Control Booth is certainly an amazing place, and it is through the mess of the computers which control just about everything mechanical, the cables that run to them and the numerous monitors, and the technicians and crew, that the stage director, a lady we were told, sees that everything is as well executed and coordinated as can be. The director who is often required to make on the spot decisions and has the authority to call a performance off if need to has to remain in her seat throughout the length of entire 85 minute performance during which it is impossible even to have a comfort break.

Inside the Control Booth.

The view through the window of the huge Control Booth where operations are coordinated (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The view that the director sees.

One of the observations I did make during the backstage tour was that was picked up by the omy reporter, Rui Long (see Exclusive: To the backstage of a breathtaking water-based show! was that there were so many things that could have gone wrong during the performance which made me appreciate how well-coordinated and executed everything was. I also noted the physically demands that each performance placed on the artists and was surprised to learn that the roles are each played by a single performer for every one of the shows (under most circumstances). The show does usually play 5 days a week and twice a day on most days (the performers do get a two week break every two months), which makes the effort of the performance and the performers a truly remarkable one in a remarkable show that when in Macau, should not be missed! More information on the show can be found at the show’s website.

The show requires its cast members to be multi-disciplined.


The opportunity to watch the amazing show and also go on the backstage tour was made possible by the City of Dreams for which I am eternally grateful, as I am to the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) for the sponsorship of the trip which included the 3 night stay at the Grand Lapa Macau, and to Tiger Airways for the sponsorship of flights, an on-board meal and check-in baggage allowances.


About The House of Dancing Water:

A dramatic scene from the show (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

‘The House of Dancing Water’, the centerpiece of City of Dreams envisioned by Mr. Lawrence Ho, Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Melco Crown Entertainment Limited, is a production by Franco Dragone Entertainment Group at City of Dreams, personally created and directed by Mr. Franco Dragone. This over HKD 2 billion (over USD250 million) breathtaking water-based show which draws creative inspiration from Chinese culture particularly on the ‘seven emotions’ principle derived from the classical Confucian beliefs, is destined to be the most extravagant live production ever seen in Asia.

Mr. Franco Dragone toured China exploring the country’s cultural and artistic history as inspiration for The House of Dancing Water, the world’s largest water show, and was drawn to China’s deep story-telling heritage within its art and particularly the ‘seven emotions’ principle derived from the classical Confucian beliefs before deciding on an epic spectacular love story that transcends time and space.

The show, set at City of Dreams’ awe-inspiring ‘Dancing Water Theater’, begins in the coast of Coloane, a Fisherman travelling with his boat enjoys his journey. Suddenly, a mysterious energy from the water creates a terrible whirlpool, grabs the fisherman and pulls him to a place and a time of legends…He cannot realize what is happening at this very moment within a lengthy time. He observes, lost and intrigued… when a storm brings a survivor from a shipwreck, a Stranger to this magical kingdom. The young brave Stranger encounters and falls in love with a beautiful Princess who was thrown into a cage by her evil stepmother, the Dark Queen. Without hesitating, the Fisherman decides to help the Stranger to fight against to the Dark Queen and rescue the Princess. With his help, the Stranger & the Princess defeat the Dark Queen and the Fisherman obtains an unexpected reward.

‘The House of Dancing Water’ will take audiences on an awe-inspiring journey through the heights and depths of human emotions from the abyss of Sadness and Anger, to the heights of Desire and the summit of Joy, between the cliffs of Fear to a glorious resolution where Love triumphs over Hate and its sinister forces.

This spectacular water-based show takes physical performance to its ultimate limits through combat, wit, creativity, incredible expertise and agility. Experience a magical journey, that transcends even time, as Mr. Franco Dragone transports us on a theatrical masterpiece of incredible artistry, outstanding physical performance and special effects in the most spectacular show that Asia has ever seen.

Another scene from the show.


Links to getting wet:

Getting there:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways

Dreaming:

The House of Dancing Water
City of Dreams

Interpreting Dreams:

The Cast
About Franco Dragone
About Franco Dragone Entertainment
About City of Dreams


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting starts on 28 September 2012 and details can be found at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.






Macau: a celebration of contrasts

24 09 2012

Having spent a amazing four days in Macau courtesy of the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) and Tiger Airways, I was able to see for myself the wonderment that is packed into the 29 square kilometres of the tiny former Portuguese territory. It is for me a world certainly worth exploring, a world which is more than just that unique blend of east and west we have come to expect, but also a fascinating world where two other worlds, the glitzy new world has collided with the charming old world. With the two now forced into a tight embrace, it is in the compact territory where contrasts, and as one might see it the contradiction of new with old, are as apparent as black and white, black and white as is how it looks to me:


The celebration of the new world:

A scene from Franco Dragone’s The House of Dancing Water playing at the City of Dreams.

The Outer Harbour with the Friendship Bridge and the waterfront at Fisherman’s Wharf at the break of day (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The waterfront at Fisherman’s Wharf at the break of day (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Breakfast at the Café Bela Vista in the Grand Lapa Macau (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The Roman Amphitheatre at Fisherman’s Wharf (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Daybreak over the Roman Amphitheatre (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The Ponte Governador Nobre de Carvalho as seen from Sky 21.

Bottles behind a frosted glass counter, Sky 21.

A new arrival embracing the arrival of the new day in the new world.


Windows into the old world:

The window into an unseen side of Macau – the quays at the Inner Harbour (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A window from the past … louvered windows seen at the Taipa Houses-Museum, which is housed in a set of charming old colonial houses at Taipa Village.

Fish being dried in the sun.

A street named happiness, the Rua da Felicidade.

An almond cookie maker on the street of happiness.

Almond cookie samples to be offered to passers-by near the ruins of St. Paul’s.

A street food vendor.

A side street near the street of happiness.

Shutters of an old shop (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

Street scene.

Barra Square.

East meets West and old meets new: A western couple leaving the A-Ma Temple.

A fortune teller at the A-Ma Temple.

An archway under a building along an old street of Macau.

A car workshop in an old shophouse.

A female worker at an old building being refurbished.

Disused pellets by the quayside at the Inner Harbour.

Where two worlds are made to collide: the bow of a ship peeks out at the Inner Harbour.

Coloane Village scene (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

A square in Coloane Village (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).

The writing on the wall in Taipa Village (photograph taken with a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF5).


The visit to Macau was made possible by the kind sponsorship of MGTO, flights were sponsored by Tiger Airways with check-in baggage allowances included.


Useful Links:

Macau Government Tourist Office
Tiger Airways


Note: this is a repost of my post on the omy.sg My Macau Experience 2012 site which sees 10 bloggers share experiences of their visit to Macau. Readers will get a chance to vote for their favourite My Macau Experience 2012 blogger and stand a chance to win $1000 worth of Macau travel vouchers. Voting starts on 28 September 2012 and details can be found at the My Macau Experience 2012 Voting page.









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