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:

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:

A church once occupied by Sin

19 03 2013

I took a walk by what, for a short moment, appeared to be a church in the woods. In an area in which woods in any form would have long abandoned – the corner of Waterloo Street and Middle Road, the building which resembles a small village church has for the better part of a century not actually used as one. Together with an adjacent two storey building, the church is now part of the Sculpture Square complex, a space dedicated to the promotion and development of contemporary 3-dimensional (3D) art.

A church in the woods?

A church in the woods?

My memories of the buildings are ones which date back to my younger days (of which I have actually written about in a previous post). The church building itself was always a curious sight each time I passed through the area, whether on the way home from church in the late 1960s and early 1970s, or from school in the late 1970s, when it had been occupied by Sin. The walls of the building were then coloured not just by the colour of its fading coat of paint, but also by streaks of motor oil and grease, having been used by a motor workshop, the Sin Sin Motor Co. My mother remembers it being used as a motor workshop as far back as her own days in school (she went to St. Anthony’s Convent further down Middle Road in the 1950s). The building next to it, which is built in a similar layout as many in the area which might ones which have been homes of wealthy merchants, had in those days been used as the Tai Loke Hotel (previously Tai Loke Lodging House) – one of several rather seedy looking budget hotels found in the area.

The church building when it was used as a motor workshop and the Tai Loke Hotel next to it, 1987 (source:

The church building when it was used as a motor workshop and the Tai Loke Hotel next to it, seen from Middle Road in 1987 (source:

While not much is known about the building which the Tai Loke occupied, there is enough that is known about the church building which was erected from 1870 to 1875, based on information on a National Heritage Board (NHB) plaque at the site as well as on Sculpture Square’s website. It first saw use as the Christian Institute. The Methodists were in 1885, invited to use the building and it became the Middle Road Church (or Malay Church) after a transfer to the Methodists was made in 1892, until the church moved to Kampong Kapor in 1929. Interestingly, the building also housed the Methodist Girls’ School which was started at nearby Short Street for a while until 1900. According to information on Sculpture Square’s website, the building had apparently also seen life as a Chinese restaurant, the “May Blossom Restaurant” during the war.

A photograph of the abandoned church building in the 1990s - after the motor workshop had vacated it (from Sculpture Square's website).

A photograph of the abandoned church building in the 1990s – after the motor workshop had vacated it (from Sculpture Square’s website).

Following years of neglect, the former church building when it was vacated by the motor workshop possibly at the end of the 1980s, was left in rather a dilapidated condition and it was a local sculptor, Sun Yu Li, who saw its potential for use as an arts venue which was opened as Sculpture Square in 1999.

The Singapore Blog Awards 2012 Interview

28 05 2012

How do you feel about being one of finalists in Singapore Blog Awards 2012?

I am smiling from ear to ear! What I actually am feeling is a mix of emotions that include being excited and extremely ecstatic, at the same time, I am also deeply honoured to be picked as one of the finalists in the Photography Category!

When did you start blogging and what drew you to it? Where do you get inspiration for your blog content?

I started blogging in 2008 as an attempt to document my life. At that time, I was doing a stint in Penang, and in wandering around the streets which were very reminiscent of the Singapore of old, I was transported back to that Singapore. It was then I started to realise how different life for me was, and how much Singapore had changed, and I thought of documenting that part of my life as well as what went on around me, partly to help me reminisce and partly to keep a record of what the world around me was seen through my eyes – what essentially had left an impression on me along life’s long and winding road (hence the blog name). The blog has over time evolved to much more than that and I have included photographs that I have taken as a means to help the reader connect with my writing. In the process of that I have developed a strong interest in photography.

What has inspired my blog content has very much been my readers and it is through the generous feedback I have received that I realise that it is more than nostalgia that draws readers to my blog, but also the snippets of history and heritage, the interest the blog has generated on the passing of the railway and the Green Corridor, the mix of the old and the new and the cultural aspects of Singapore, as well as my use of images that I am told speak to the audience. This inspires me to seek new experiences as well as look back at older ones. The interest and attention the blog has received has also benefited me in offering opportunities to further my experiences in the areas I am interested in and document them in my blog.

How do you feel about the other Finalists in your category this year? How do you think you will fare compared to them?

As with the previous year, I have found myself amongst some very accomplished photographers in the category. These include another previous winner, and several who ply the trade. Going through their stunning and mouth-watering sites, the level of competition provided is certainly very high and it will certainly be very hard for me to repeat my feat last year of winning in this category.

Give a reason why readers should visit your blog and vote for you?

If there was to be one reason why readers should visit and vote for The Long and Winding Road – it will have to be for the images that I’ve used on my blog that I hope has been able to paint a thousand words, images such as the few that I have included in this post.

Support The Long and Winding Road for the Singapore Blog Awards

23 05 2012

The Singapore Blog Awards is back – for a fifth year with the finalists in each of the fifteen categories announced on Monday. Once again, The Long and Winding Road is in the running in the Best Photography Blog (PANASONIC ECO BEST PHOTOGRAPHY BLOG) Category.

It is a great honour to be selected, having already had the good fortune of being picked as the winner in the same category at last year’s awards – for which I am greatly indebted to the readers of this blog and to the many friends I have made on the journey along the Long and Winding Road who have cast their votes for the blog. Repeating the feat this year will certainly be difficult – as with the last, there are exceptional blogs in the category which are all more than worthy of winning and once more. I would be most grateful for your votes, if you do think the blog is worthy of the accolade, to help in nudging the blog in the right direction – once a day up until the 30th of June. The voting page can be found at the PANASONIC ECO BEST PHOTOGRAPHY BLOG page.

To be able to vote, you would need to first register by clicking on the “REGISTER NOW” text at the top left of the page – you may fill up with any ID number if you do not have an NRIC/FIN Number required to register.

At the same time, I would also like to give a shout-out to some finalists in other categories – some of whom I have become great friends with, whom I think deserve a mention:

  • Fellow Singapore Memory Corp member Lam Chun See, the man behind Good Morning Yesterday (Best Individual Blog). Chun See’s tireless efforts in documenting a Singapore that once was is the benchmark for many nostalgia bloggers – including myself.
  • Self-professed ex-City gal turned expat housewife Karen Lim, whose wonderfully refreshing blog, Story of Bing (Best Lifestyle Blog) takes us on an adventure to South Africa.
  • Wildlife and conservation enthusiast Ivan Kwan, whose morbid fascination with dead animals in the form of updates on Monday Morgue (Best WTH Blog) every Monday certainly has me exclaiming “What The Hell”.
  • Father of four (yes, four!) Andy Lee, who introduces us to his adventures with his kids on Sengkang Babies (Best Family Blog) and is a really nice and down to earth guy.
  • Travel writer Rosemarie John, who takes us on her travels and beyond on Travel and Beyond (Best Travel Blog).

Photography on The Long and Winding Road

I wouldn’t call myself a photographer, but I do use photography as a means to express myself. Photographs to me are a wonderful way to capture that story, an impression or to keep as a record of events, the beauty around us and also the passing of time. Photographs certainly can paint that thousand words, helping a reader to connect with a body of text – a wonderful way to help me keep account of my wanderings along life’s Long and Winding Road. Below are some more recent examples of the stories I try to tell, the impressions and moments in time I try to capture in this blog through the lens. Feel free to browse through them and let me know what you think. 🙂

The Singapore Blog Awards 2011: am I really a photographer?

14 06 2011

The Singapore Blog Awards is here again, and guess what? The Long and Winding Road is in the running in the Best Photography Category! It is certainly an honour to be selected as one of the top bloggers in the category, shortlisted from a pool of very skilled photographers.

The Long and Winding Road is one of the finalists for the Best Photography Blog at SBA 2011.

Photography which started as a means to visually enhance my writing, has also become a passion for me. I try, in taking a photograph, to capture what I want to convey in it, such it speaks to the viewer. Photographs to me, serve as a powerful visual means to document personal experiences and the passage of time. I guess I can’t be doing too badly as an amateur in that aspect, having been invited to cover events such as the Seri Temasek 2011 Awards Ceremony earlier this year which featured Anita Sarawak, Ning Baizura and Jack Neo.

Anita Sarawak at Seri Temasek 2011.

It will certainly be tough for me to win this category being among some very accomplished photographers, and every vote will certainly count. If you do think I deserve the win, it would help if you could nudge me a little closer by casting one vote for me a day until 3rd July 2011.

Photographs besides capturing moments also tell a story: passengers boarding the train at Kempas Baru Station.