A sneak peek at NDP 2014

11 07 2014

I got an opportunity to have a sneak peek at what this year’s National Day Parade (NDP) had to offer at a rehearsal held on Saturday, taking a few photographs that accompany this post. The rehearsal was held a week before the series of rehearsals that Primary 5 students will attend as part of the National Education (NE) Show programme  starting on 12 July 2014, in the lead-up to the actual parade, all of which offers a glimpse of what the highly anticipated parade has to offer.

Always something to look forward to - the fireworks sign-off.

Always something to look forward to – the fireworks sign-off.

The audience seen as the lights come on ...

The audience seen as the lights come on …

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Beyond the always spectacular signature show of fireworks that now sign all NDPs off, the parade and ceremony, the flypast and the medley of National songs, this year’s NDP will see the introduction of a Military Tattoo, which for the first time, will open the Parade and Ceremony. The 7-minute band display, will involve some 164 personnel, including drummers from the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) who will perform together with members of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Band, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) Band, the Silent Precision Drill Squad (SPDS), the National Cadet Corp (NCC) Band, and the National Police Cadet Corp (NPCC) Band.

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The Parade and Ceremony itself, entitled “A Parade with a Heart”, has been aligned with this year’s NDP theme, “Our People, Our Home” and consists of five Heartbeats. The five moments will honour the organisations that have contributed in the defence, social and economic areas, pay tribute to our pioneers, get the audience singing in a sing-along of Singapore songs, celebrate the family and showcase the SAF and Home team’s capabilities in the Dynamic Defence Display.

The Leopard 2 MBT will feature in the Dynamic Display segment.

The Leopard 2-SG Main Battle Tank will feature in the Dynamic Display segment.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Surface-to-Air PYTHON-5 and DERBY-Short Range (SPYDER-SR) ground-based air defence system - another asset the audience will see during the Dynamic Display.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Surface-to-Air
PYTHON-5 and DERBY-Short Range (SPYDER-SR) ground-based air defence
system – another asset the audience will see during the Dynamic Display.

A navy RHIB during practice for the Dynamic DIsplay Segment.

A navy RHIB during practice for the Dynamic Display Segment.

Always something to look forward to at the NDP, are the so-called funpacks, which contain both giveaways as well as items for use during the parade itself. This year’s very brightly coloured funpacks were designed by a group of 15 students from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central’s School of Design and Media. Included in the funpacks are button badges – the result of the NDP 2014 Funpack Print Design Contest from which nine designs were chosen to be printed into button badges. Among the winning entries is one from 13 year-old Ong Zheng Jie Joshua, which centres on a tree that symbolizes the strong and prosperous Singapore built by our ancestors.

Funpack distribution.

Funpack distribution.

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The parade this year features some 35 marching contingents, with four Guard-Of-Honour (GOH) contingents, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Colours Party, the Combined Band and 29 other contingents from the SAF, Home Team, uniformed groups as well as social and economic organisations. Numbering some 2,000 participants, the parade will be the largest Parade & Ceremony segment ever held at the Floating Platform.

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Strange Horizons: seeing the future

29 05 2014

The future world does seem to have arrived in Singapore. Rising out of what used to be the old harbour is a new world, the seeds of which were really sown at the end of the 1960s. It was in 1967 that Singapore embarked on the State and City Planning Project (SCP) in 1967 with the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme’s special assistance scheme for urban renewal and development for emerging nations. 

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The SCP completed in 1971, identified the need for a coastal highway to divert traffic out of the city, requiring land to be reclaimed for what was to be the East Coast Parkway (ECP) and the Benjamin Sheares Bridge. It was with this that the planners recognised that there was benefit in further reclamation of land to provide land for the city’s expansion south, land on which a new downtown is now, some four decades after the initial reclamation commenced, in the process of being built.

Among the first structures rising in the new world are several that have since become one of the most photographed and recognisable structures in Singapore including the Sky Park topped hotel towers and lotus flower inspired ArtScience Museum of Moshe Safdie’s Marina Bay Sands integrated resort complex (2010) and the Supertrees and cooled conservatories of the Gardens by the Bay  (2012) that is seen in the above photograph, which was taken across what today is a fresh water channel of water at the Bay East garden of the Gardens by the Bay.





Strange Horizons: reflections on the alien invasion at the bay

28 05 2014

Maybe now not such a strange horizon – the view of the alien structures that have invaded the new world at Marina Bay’s Garden’s by the Bay, reflected off the Dragonfly Lake. The structures are probably among the most photographed in Singapore and are now very recognisable across the world. In the foreground, three of the garden’s 18 Supertrees are seen with the two cooled conservatories in the background. The taller of the cooled conservatories is the 58 metre high Cloud Forest, which replicates the moist cooled environments of the tropical montane regions and features a 35 metre man made mountain along with a 30 metre high waterfall. The longer of the two conservatories is the Flower Dome in which the cool-dry springtime climates of the Mediterranean and semi-arid sub-tropical regions is replicated. The Gardens by the Bay, which is now in its second year (having opened in June 2012), has become one of Singapore’s most visited tourist attractions.

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Windows into Singapore: finding light in the darkness

20 05 2014

7.06 am under the Esplanade Bridge.

A sight that greets the eyes every morning under the Esplanade Bridge: a group of Falun Gong practitioners who seek spiritual enlightenment in the darkness of the shadows cast by the bridge …

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Reflections on the new world

15 03 2014

The new world at Marina Bay, seen at twilight on 6 March 2014 from the edge of the pond at the ArtScience Museum. Built on land reclaimed from the sea that, the ArtScience Museum is part of the new Marina Bay Sands Complex that lies on top of the area where the detached mole that separated the inner roads from the outer roads once was. The complex looks across to what had been the old waterfront built along a bund, which did have some grand works of architecture to welcome the many who came ashore at old Clifford Pier. Much of all that has unfortunately been lost, replaced by the new world of glass and steel that does serve to impress all who set eyes on it.

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Marina Bay, 7.42 pm, 6 March 2014.





The catwalk in the sky

12 03 2014

Photographs from an unusual event that was held at the Gardens by the Bay’s OCBC Skyway last week at which I was a guest …

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With an eye for the unusual in the selection of catwalks, it probably came as no surprise when model and entrepreneur Jessica Minh Anh picked the OCBC Skyway as the setting for the latest in her series of fashion shows held against the backdrop against iconic venues around the world that have included the Grand Canyon Skywalk, London’s Tower Bridge and PETRONAS Twin Towers’ Skybridge.

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The J Spring Fashion Show, which was held on 5 March 2014, saw models strutting down the 128 metre long aerial walkway – said to be “the most unconventional catwalk yet”, dressed in a combination of Haute Couture and Prêt-à-Porter collections from UK, Russia, Singapore, China, Kenya, India, and Lebanon. The event, which proved to be a little too hot to handle for many of the VIP guests under the unforgiving Singapore sun, was followed by a J Spring After Party held at the Pan PacificOrchard Hotel in the evening.

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A sneak peek at i Light Marina Bay 2014

7 03 2014

From the eye-catching, to the fun and quirky, there is something that will certainly catch your attention as Marina Bay brightens up from this evening until the end of March 2014, all in a sustainable way I should add – the festival’s 28 light art installations have been picked so as to convey the message of sustainability through art – a key area of focus for the three week long festival. It would probably take more than one visit to take in all 28 – especially with the installations spread around the bay area and that is just what the curatorial team hopes visitors would do, taking in the lights, as well as the fun that does come from some of the interactive installations.

From the pick of installations participants of a preview were introduced to, my favourites are in fact the interactive ones as well as the somewhat quirky ones. These are CLOUD by Caitlind Brown and Wayne Garrett (which I only got to see from afar) – judging from what has been said about it, Jen Lewin’s The Pool, and Happy Croco by Bibi – who some may remember for his igloo installation during the last festival. The festival will be opened this evening and will be on every evening  until 30 March 2014. More information on the festival and the host of fringe events and activities can be found at the festival’s website.


A pick of installations


The Pool 

Jen Lewin Studio (USA)

Marina Bay waterfront promenade near The Promontory @ Marina Bay (A14 on the map)

Promises to be lots of fun, especially for the kids and those like me who want to be kids again. Watch as circular pads arranged in concentric circles change hues through movement – an effect that will best be seen when a group of people play together. The installation was created in a way that it can quite easily be recreated anywhere it needs moving to.

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Jan Lewin at The Pool


CLOUD 

Caitlind Brown and Wayne Garrett (Canada)

The Float @ Marina Bay (B9 on the map)

The CLOUD apparently has people pulling at strings – literally, by getting people to congregate under a rain cloud, the aesthetic of which is influenced by those under it pulling at light switches. The CLOUD features a contrast of old and new technologies, and is intended to demonstrate how an individual has the power to impact progress and achieve change. The real magic happens when multiple visitors work as one towards a unified response.

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Happy Croco 

Bibi (France)

Marina Bay waterfront promenade near Mist Walk (A4 on the map)

Happy Croco is a happy and somewhat quirky luminous 20 metre long installation – made with a backbone of traffic cones. There is an underlying message in the so-called urban crocodile though – in being made of items we discard everyday, Bibi, attempts to bring to attention the issue of plastic waste. 

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Mimosa

Jason Bruges Studio (UK)

Marina Bay City Gallery (A7 on the map)

Another that will be a favourite with the kids would be Mimosa – a work that uses organic light-emitting diodes to mimic the leaves of the responsive plant by sensing hand movements. 

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JouJou-Ours

Uno Lai (Taiwan)

Marina Bay City Gallery (A9 on the map)

The work, which features giant teddy-bear heads and intended to revisit childhood memories in which the soft toy would be a feature of , encourages the visitor not only to give the installation a hug, but also, judging to the response take lots of photographs with it.

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#WeHeartLight

Light Collective (UK)

Marina Bay City Gallery (A8 on the map)

An installation made up of individual and personalised light boxes – the work of students from different schools in Singapore that emphasises the role of education in guiding the future generation towards a sustainable future.

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Beat

Arup (Singapore)

In front of Marina Bay Sands (A1 on the map)

An installation that appeals to the instinct to  touch, simulating a response from lighted globes that then adopt a human heart beat light pulse – another favourite with the kids.

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iSwarm

SUTD (Singapore)

In Marina Bay, near Bayfront Taxi Stop (A3 on the map)

A luminous swarm of “sea creatures” that interact with passer-by through light sensors.

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Floating Hearts

Travesias de Luz (Spain)

Marina Bay waterfront promenade, near Marina Bay Link Mall pop-up structure (A10 on the map)

A wall of illuminated hearts that invites passers-by to play with them.

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The Guardian Angels

Maro Avrabou and Dimitri Xenakis (Greece and France)

Marina Bay waterfront promenade near Breeze Shelter (A12 on the map)

Echoes the preservation of the garden and plants, and by extension, nature – a tribute to gardeners and artificially created gardens.

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Ryf Zaini (Singapore)

Marina Bay waterfront promenade (A11 on the map)

Giant speech bubbles that displays thoughts and messages akin to comic strips – a humourous reference to the shift in the way we interact socially in the digital age towards screen-based forms of communication.

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Fool’s Gold

Vertical Submarine (Singapore)

The Promontory (A13 on the map)

A work that alludes to a Chinese idiom about a fool who hides his gold but gives it away by erecting a sign to disclaim its existence. 

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1.26 Singapore

Janet Echelman (USA)

The Float @ Marina Bay (B10 on the map)

A huge illuminated net that depicts the force of nature that uses space-age Honeywell Spectra fibre. Suspended over the floating platform, the work is a 3D representation of the force of a tsunami created by the 2010 Chile earthquake and draws on laboratory research done by NASA and NOAA on the earthquake. The earthquake resulted in a shift in the axis of the earth’s rotation, which shortened the day by 1.26 microseconds – hence the installation’s name.

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1.26 Singapore

Justin Lee and Dornier Asia Pte Ltd (Singapore and Switzerland)

ArtScience Museum (B14 on the map)

Celebration of Life is a large-scale projection by local artist Justin Lee on the ArtScience Museum – the first time he has taken on such a challenge. The projection takes viewers through a commentary on the role and value of traditional culture on contemporary society, blending traditional Eastern icons with modern day symbols.

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Digital Wattle 

Out of the Dark (New Zealand)

Near The Float @ Marina Bay (B11 on the map)

Based on the Golden Wattle, the installation explores the interplay between individual ethnic groups that co-exist within a city – the change of colours of the flowers swaying in the breeze representing the new mix of cultures.

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i Light Marina Bay 2014 related:


 





Colouring the new world

6 03 2014

The Marina Bay area will be brought to life this month of March as i Light Marina Bay returns from the 7th to 30th. The latest edition of the biennial light art festival, Asia’s only sustainable light art festival, sees 28 installations spread across what is already a visually stunning new world, a large part of which, rose from the sea.

1.26 by Janet Echelman, seen in Amsterdam (Photo-Courtesy-of-Janusvanden-Eijnden)

Highlights of the festival will include seven installations, each of which is being put up by an invited artist, one of whom is the internationally renowned Janet Echelman. Known for her sculpture environments that respond to the forces of nature, Ms Echelman will illuminate The Float @ Marina Bay with ‘1.26 Singapore’, a large floating fluid installation that uses space-age Honeywell Spectra fibre. Suspended over the floating platform, the work is a 3D representation of the force of a tsunami created by the 2010 Chile earthquake and draws on laboratory research done by NASA and NOAA on the earthquake. The earthquake resulted in a shift in the axis of the earth’s rotation, which shortened the day by 1.26 microseconds – hence the  installation’s name.

Mimosa by Jason Burges

Celebration of Life by Justin Lee

Another of the festival’s highlights to look forward to will be ‘Celebration of Life’, a large-scale projection by local artist Justin Lee on the ArtScience Museum that sees a commentary on the role and value of traditional culture on contemporary society. There are also several interactive installations, one of which is ‘Mimosa’ by UK based Jason Bruges Studio at the Marina Bay City Gallery. The work mimics the behaviour of responsive plant systems such as the mimosa and uses organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) arranged to open and close in response to hand movements.

CLOUD by Caitlind Brown and Wayne Garrett (Photo Courtesy of Doug Wong)

Another interactive work that will surely be a hit is ‘CLOUD’ by Caitlind Brown and Wayne Garrett, who are from Canada. Located at The Float @ Marina Bay, ‘CLOUD’ features 5,000 new and recycled lightbulbs (of which some 200 are functioning) on an installation that resembles a rain cloud, extending an invitation to strangers to come together under it and play. Visitors will be able to pull on switches, triggering a shift in the aesthetics – intended to demonstrate how an individual has the power to impact progress and achieve change. The real magic, we are told, does however happen when multiple visitors work as one towards a unified response.

The Pool by Jen Lewin

iSwarm by SUTD, Suranga Nanayakkara and Thomas Schroepfer

Other highlights are ‘JouJou-Ours’ by Uno Lai of Taiwan, which revisits childhood memories beside the Marina Bay City Gallery; the very colourful ‘The Pool’ by Jen Lewin Studio of the US, which is at the Promontory @ Marina Bay; and iSwarm by a team from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) – swarming the water near the Bayfront water taxi stop  with light that is reminiscent of naturally occurring phenomena such as bio-luminescent algae.

JouJou Ours by Uno Lai

Besides the invited artists, the remaining installations in i Light Marina Bay 2014 were selected through an open call, 13 of which are the creations of locally based artists. The three-week festival will also see several fringe activities and offerings that will include opportunities for fun with the family, to complement the installations – with food never far away. More information on the host of activities and culinary offerings is available at the festival’s website.

Giant Dandelion by Olivia D’Aboville

Along with the festival and fringe events, there will also be the i Light Symposium 2014, which will see three sessions held, the last of which will feature Janet Echelman. More information on the symposium and how to register can be found on the events listing page on the festival’s website.


i Light Marina Bay 2014 related:





The Singapore 2015 launch party

17 02 2014

Photographs from the grand party held at the Gardens by the Bay’s Meadow on Saturday to launch Singapore 2015 (the 28th SEA Games and 8th ASEAN Para Games). The event was graced by Guest-of-Honour, President Tony Tan Keng Yam and attended by athletes past and present and saw the unveiling of the games mascot Nila as well official songs for the games performed by various local artistes. The line-up of the artistes included Daphne Khoo, a survivor of a rare form of Ovarian Cancer, who performed ‘Greatest’ and Tabitha Nauser performing ‘Unbreakable’.

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Thorns in the urban landscape

22 10 2013

Intended to be an icon of a new Singapore, a building topped with a crown of thorns blocks the view from a once well-loved part of Singapore where many enjoy a meal of satay by the sea. The building, which houses Esplanade – Theaters on the Bay, which was completed in 2002, steals its name from the once popular promenade from which we could gaze out into the openness of the old harbour we can no longer see.

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The building is one some of us in Singapore struggle to find a connection in the same we have connected with the old National Library and the National Theatre and even that wonderful promenade by the sea that the real Esplanade was. Those icons, now erased from the new urban landscape, were ones which for many of us symbolised Singapore’s coming into the world as a nation, and point to humbler times we now seem not to want to be reminded of. This does perhaps exemplify what the new Singapore has become for some of us – a place we struggle to recognise and connect with, and one which has become a  Singapore we find hard to call home.





The lost waterfront

19 09 2013

The former waterfront at Collyer Quay is certainly one place which exemplifies how Singapore has transformed over the years, discarding much of what made Singapore a Singapore which was full of character and flavour, to the sea of glass, steel and concrete Singapore has become today.

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The waterfront we inherited from our colonial masters was one of wonderfully designed buildings which might have rivaled Shanghai’s Bund. Even in 1971 after the Overseas Union Shopping Centre (see image above) did spoil some of that flavour, it still retained much of its original character. Then, the three “skyscrapers” that came up in the 1950s: the modern looking 15 storey Shell House (1959); the Bank of China Building (1954); and the Asia Insurance Building (1954) (out of picture), still dominated. It was however the grand looking edifices – several of them attributed to architecture firm Swan and MacLaren which designed many notable buildings from our past, which would have been noticed. This included the Maritime Building (former Union Building) with its tower and the HongKong Bank Chambers (1924) next to it. The Fullerton Building (1928) which housed the General Post Office also wouldn’t have been missed.

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The beginning of the end for the old waterfront came at the end of the decade with the demolition of the HongKong Bank building notable not just for its English Renaissance style design, but also for its stained glass skylight over its main banking hall and huge bronze entrance doors, in 1979. The Maritime Building, built originally for the Union Insurance Society of Canton and which once housed the Far East headquarters of the Royal Air Force, soon followed in the early 1980s. What we do see today is a towering skyline of glass and steel against which the surviving “skyscrapers” of the 1950s are now dwarfed. The buildings along old waterfront which did survive are the Fullerton Building (Fullerton Hotel), Clifford Pier (part of Fullerton Bay Hotel), Bank of China Building, Customs House, and the Asia Insurance Building (Ascott Raffles Place).

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A big stink (but a welcome one) hits the Gardens

18 09 2013

The very first successful hybrid of the so-called ‘Corpse Flower’, the Amorphophallus titanum and the Amorphophallus variabilis, the Amorphophallus ‘John Tan’ – being seen for the first time in Singapore, has bloomed and now on display at the Cloud Forest, one of the two cooled conservatories in the Gardens by the Bay.

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The Corpse Flower, which is native to Sumatra and grows at 120 to 365 metres above sea level, is so-named for the foul smell it emits which is similar to the smell of decaying meat. The hybrid is attributed to Ralph D. Mangelsdorff who was successful in crossing the seed parent plant of the Amorphophallus variabilis, which grows at 700 to 900 metres above sea level in Indonesia and the Philippines, with the pollen parent plant of the Amorphophallus titanum. The flower of the Amorphophallus variabilis produces a durian-like smell to attract pollinators.

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The Amorphophallus ‘John Tan’ on display, the blooming of which is unpredictable, stands at 205 cm and is named after a Singaporean, John Tan Jiew Hoe, for his support of the Amorphophallus hybridisation programme. The 5.9 kg tuber was donated by John Tan to the Gardens by the Bay on 27 August 2013. The bloom is expected to last for only two days and for the very rare opportunity to view it, the Gardens by the Bay is offering 15% discount off standard rate single conservatory tickets on 18 and 19 September 2013. The conservatory is opened from 9 am to 11 pm on both days (I did not quite get a smell – but I was told it is stronger in the evenings).

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The glow in the park

16 09 2013

The Mid-Autumn festival is one which always provides a burst of colour to light the evening up. The glow from a burst of colour which is definitely worth being bathed in is the sea of lights found at one of Singapore’s latest and most popular attractions, the Gardens by the Bay which plays host to a magical display of light and colour in the form of hand-crafted lanterns from 13 to 22 September at Mid-Autumn Festival @ The Gardens 2013.

Being bathed by the glow in the park.

Being bathed by the glow in the park.

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The display in the outdoor gardens and The Meadow is free and is arranged around several themes which include Jurassic Park, the World of Fairy Tales and zodiac signs. During Mid-Autumn Festival @ The Gardens 2013, which is organised by Chinese Newspapers Division of Singapore Press Holdings, People’s Association and Gardens by the Bay also sees various fringe activities such as stage performances, competitions and exhibitions.

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There is food glorious food to also look out for at Asian Food Street at The Meadow with delicacies from China, Taiwan and Singapore on offer, including those brought in by the China Hainan Provincial Committee. The committee will be at the event to showcase the Hainan region’s specialties which also include dance and music performances and the sale of handicrafts. The performances can be caught from 6 to 11 pm on Monday to Friday; and 3 to 11 pm on Saturday and Sunday during the event period. There will also be fundraising activities held, the proceeds of which will go to President’s Challenge 2013. The fund raising activities include the release of water and sky lanterns and a one-day Family Fun Walk.

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Release of water 'Loi Krathong' lanterns.

Release of water ‘Loi Krathong’ lanterns.

Another highlight to look forward to is the new Mid-Autumn themed floral display in the Flower Dome. This see three dragonfly lanterns perched over a field coloured by “lantern flowers” such as Begonias and autumn-blooms like Chrysanthemums, Astilbes and Celosias.

A dragonfly lantern in the Flower Field of the Flower Dome.

A dragonfly lantern in the Flower Field of the Flower Dome.

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For Mid-Autumn Festival @ The Gardens 2013 there will be an extension of operating hours as well as a 15% discount on admission tickets to the conservatories. The discounts are applicable on the prevailing Standard and Local Resident admission rates only and applies only to tickets purchased at on-site Ticketing Counters. Discounts are limited to 4 tickets purchased during each transaction and does not include OCBC Skyway and Garden Cruiser. The extension of opening hours applies to the two conservatories and OCBC Skyway which will be opened from 9 am to 11 pm (last ticket sale 10 pm / last admission 10.30pm) from 13 to 22 September with the operating hours for selected F&B outlets in the Gardens also extended.

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A Snap & Win! Instagram photo contest will be held in conjunction with the event with 3 winners walking away with Gardens by the Bay memorabilia gift packages worth $50. To participate, visitors can upload photos of the Mid-Autumn celebrations at Gardens by the Bay on their Instagram account with the hashtags #midautumnatgb and #gardensbythebay.

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For me, one of the highlights is an installation put up by Keppel Club at the Supertree Grove – the 3D Pandora Exhibitions which requires 3D glasses to be worn. This is opened from 6 to 11 pm on Monday to Friday and 3 to 11 pm on Saturday and Sunday and involves props made out of recycled materials. More information on this and the whole big glow in the park can be found at the Gardens by the Bay’s website.

Look Ma, I have three toes!

Look Ma, I have three toes!

Through the #D Pandora Exhibition.

Through the 3D Pandora Exhibition.

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A nation celebrates!

9 08 2013

Photographs from last week’s National Day Parade preview show how the nation will celebrate its 48th anniversary of its independence from Malaysia.

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The new world rising from the sea

30 07 2013

A view along Singapore’s former waterfront at 7.37 pm on 28 July 2013. To the left of the photograph, a brand new world has grown on land reclaimed more recently from the sea, dwarfing the Asia Insurance Building, once the tallest building in South East Asia. What has been left behind from when the waters were those of the old harbour can be seen on the right side of the photograph. These include the Fullerton Building (former General Post Office) and Clifford Pier, both built along a bund that was in itself build on land reclaimed in the mid 1800s – one of the first land reclamation to take place in Singapore. The bund was completed in 1864 along with a road which has since been named Collyer Quay.

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Dawn in the new world

26 07 2013

6.38 am on 23 July 2013. The colours of the breaking day illuminate the icons of the new Singapore, which the Merlion probably best represents. The body of water, Marina Bay, now a reservoir of fresh water, had once been the sea where the inner harbour, the Inner Roads, once fed Singapore with its immigrants and with goods from east and west , the foundation on which Singapore’s early success was built upon.

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The Gardens by the Bay turns one

30 06 2013

The Gardens by the Bay turned one yesterday. To celebrate the anniversary, a huge party, the Gardens Party One, was thrown, with the thousands of visitors and guests who attended, treated to a live concert in the cool evening breeze whilst having a picnic under the stars at The Meadow. The party was organised by the Gardens by the Bay as well as the West Coast GRC and Pioneer Constituency CCCs and was hosted by Minister for National Development, Mr Khaw Boon Wan with the Guest-of-Honour, Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Lim Hng Kiang also attending.

Visitors to the Gardens by the Bay and guests to the Gardens Party One were treated to a concert under the stars.

Visitors to the Gardens by the Bay and guests to the Gardens Party One were treated to a concert under the stars.

The early birds at the Gardens One Party.

The early birds at the Gardens One Party.

Besides the first birthday, the Gardens by the Bay had another reason to celebrate. It recently saw its fifth millionth visitor, Singapore student, Harlynna Bte Rahmat who received a gift from Minister Khaw at the party. The concert saw the likes of Li Feihui, Jack & Rai, and the contestants of “The Final 1″ on stage as well as two huge local favourites, Taufik Batisah who showed some rather cool dance moves as well as Kit Chan, who ended the concert very aptly with a beautiful rendition of the very popular “Home” to which the crowd sang along – a great way to bring a wonderful first birthday party to a close.

The crowd on the lawn at The Meadow.

The crowd on the lawn at The Meadow.

Minister Lim Hng Kiang greeting those who attended.

Minister Lim Hng Kiang greeting those who attended.

Guests were treated to a host of fringe activities ...

Guests were treated to a host of fringe activities …

... including learning to juggle.

… including learning to juggle.

Jack and Rai on stage.

Jack and Rai on stage.

Li Feihui.

Li Feihui.

Peering through a crystal ball.

Peering through a crystal ball.

A "The Final 1" contestant.

A “The Final 1″ contestant.

Blowing out the symbolic candle.

Blowing out the symbolic candle.

Taufik show off some of his dance moves.

Taufik show off some of his dance moves.

Another of Taufik.

Another of Taufik.

Kit Chan on stage.

Kit Chan on stage.

Another of Kit Chan.

Another of Kit Chan.





Reflections on Marina Bay

3 06 2013

For me, the story of Singapore is very a reflection of the way in which what we call Marina Bay today, has been transformed. Once the harbour at the heart of Singapore’s early success, the bay, like it or hate it, is today a magnificent sight to behold – particularly at certain times of the day, and a celebration of the tremendous strides Singapore has taken as a nation since the tumultuous events which surrounded a somewhat reluctantly achieved independence.

Marina Bay seen through the light rain at 6.30 am on 2 June 2013.

Marina Bay seen through the drama of the rain coloured scene at first light (photograph taken at 6.30 am on 2 June 2013).

The so-called bay itself (now a fresh water reservoir) and the developments that have taken root around it, was an afterthought made possible by massive land reclamation works which were started in the early 1970s – initially to provide land for a road which would bypass the already congested city (more information on which can be found in a previous post “The Making of Marina Bay“). While it did result in the disappearance of the old harbour – one of the things which did make Singapore, Singapore, it did provide new land for development. It is perhaps because of this, it became possible to widen the scope for conservation of Singapore’s built heritage, particularly in areas of the old city such as in the Tanjong Pagar / Chinatown area and other areas which had previously been earmarked for redevelopment .





I (certainly) Don’t Want to Miss a Thing

27 05 2013

What is probably one of the biggest rock acts to perform in Singapore is Aerosmith, the legendary rock band said to be “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”, took to the stage on Saturday in the second of two Singapore Social Concerts. The concerts held as part of the inaugural Social Star Awards, the first of which featured social media stars such as Psy, Carly Rae Jepsen, CeeLo Green and Blush, took place at what is proving to be a wonderful outdoor concert venue, The Meadow at the Gardens by the Bay.

The tireless Steven Tyler of Aerosmith.

The tireless Steven Tyler of Aerosmith on stage at The Meadow.

The Aerosmith concert was without a doubt the highlight of what was a great week to be a music fan in Singapore, following hot on the heels of the annual Indie music mayhem, Music Matters Live, held earlier in the week. Watching “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” must could as an huge experience for anyone, fan or not. It is live on stage where the rock band’s lead, Steven Tyler, find himself in his element. Now sixty-five years of age, the energy levels he exhibited on stage all through the performance, must have been equal to that of a hyperactive child six decades his junior. Armed with his his trademark microphone stand, – streamers and all, he left even those who weren’t moving as vigourously as some of the more youthful members of the crowd I found myself squeezed  in next to, breathless.

Steven Tyler exhibited the energy levels of a hyperactive six year old.

Steven Tyler exhibited the energy levels of a hyperactive five year old.

It was in all a mesmerising performance, which made the long wait for the group to appear on stage, well worth the while. Scheduled to start at 8 pm, things only got moving at 8.20 pm with the opening act, Euphoria Audio. The rock band from Wakefield in the UK did a wonderful job of getting the crowd in the mood with some wonderful numbers of their own. Led by Matt Shirty, with Ben Lloyd and Ben Hughes on guitar and Josh Hughes on drums,  the band entertained for some 40 minutes.

Opening act Euphoria Audio on stage.

Opening act Euphoria Audio on stage.

Matt Shirty.

Matt Shirty.

It was another 40 minutes after the initial Euphoria have left the stage before the so-called Bad Boys from Boston, made their entry with Steven Tyler, appearing at the end of catwalk-like to the stage which placed him right into the heart of the crowd. Dressed in a hat, red glasses and a sequin studded jacket (which he later threw into the screaming crowd) with scarves draped over it, he would not have looked out of place in a theatre act, wielding the microphone stand with the words “lick me” at the bottom of its base almost as if it was a part of him.

Aerosmith finally came on at around 9.40pm.

Aerosmith finally came on at around 9.40pm.

Steven Tyler.

Steven Tyler.

Joe Perry on guitars - was almost as energetic as Tyler.

Joe Perry on guitars – was almost as energetic as Tyler.

Joey Kramer on drums.

Joey Kramer on drums.

Brad Whitford on guitar.

Brad Whitford on guitar.

Tom Hamilton on guitar.

Tom Hamilton on guitar.

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The band which goes back more than four decades, does on the evidence of the crowd, have a following here spanning the generations. At what probably was the highlight of the concert, the delivery of their greatest hit, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from the 1998 movie Armageddon, a large portion of the 10,500 strong crowd – many who looked like they were in their teens (or just out of it), moving with the music and singing along at the top of their voices.

Joe Perry on guitar behind his back.

Joe Perry on guitar getting to work behind his back.

While it might have been the flamboyant Tyler who stole the show the rest of the band wouldn’t have gone unnoticed. Joe Perry gave a masterclass, particularly in going back to basics revisiting the Blues. There was also two guest appearances with Japanese beatboxer Hikakin and hip-hop dancer Marquese Scott making an appearance late on during a rendition of “Walk This Way”. It seemed like it only just started when Aerosmith’s first full concert, which did go on for an hour and fifty minutes, did as all good things have to – come to an end with a grand piano wheeled down the stage for the encore of “Dream On” which was followed by “Sweet Emotion”. When the end did come, many in the crowd, myself included certainly would have loved to dream the concert on. And if they do come to town ever again, borrowing from the title of their biggest hit,  I (most certainly) Don’t Want to Miss a Thing!

More of Joe Perry.

More of Joe Perry. 

Japanese Beatboxer Hikakin with Joe Perry.

Japanese Beatboxer Hikakin with Joe Perry.

Steven Tyler waving to the crowd.

Steven Tyler waving to the crowd.

The many faces of the flamboyant Steven Tyler during Saturday’s concert:

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Tulip fever hits Singapore

2 05 2013

On the evidence of the crowds that turned up for Tulipmaniaat the Flower Dome of the Gardens by the Bay on May Day, Singapore’s largest display of tulips which was in full bloom, is certainly a huge hit with Singaporeans. The three week long event which kicked off on Monday, sees some 40,000 tulip bulbs flown in from the Netherlands by official sponsors KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. More information is available on a previous post: Tiptoe through the tulips at the Flower Dome.

Photographs of Tulipmania taken on May Day:

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