Friday, 30 August 2013

Hungry Ghost Festival

Last night we went looking for Ghosts....well ok perhaps not... but we did pop up to the Geylang area where there was a marquee celebrating the Chinese month long Hungry Ghost Festival or Ghost month. This year it runs from August 7 - September 4. This festival falls on the 7th lunar month in the Chinese calendar. Whilst we were away for the first 2 weeks of the month and hubby is travelling for the last week, we really only had last night to investigate until next year.

The Chinese pay their respects to the dead during this festival. At the this time the gates of hell are opened allowing the spirits to enter freely into our world. Altars and bins are set up and can be seen along the curbs and in front of homes where paper offerings eg money are burnt alongside incense sticks and offerings of food such as oranges.

There is a whole raft of "donts" during this month and here are just a few

Dont leave washing outside over night in case a spirit wears it and then passes bad luck onto the next wearer.

Dont wear black

Dont stay out late at night incase a spirit follows you home

Dont disturb joss sticks, offerings as these are put out to appease the spirits

Don't get married this month

Don't start a business

Don't move house this month

Dont go swimming

Don't visit sick people or attend a funeral


Dont leave main doors to house open overnight

Dont wear high heels

And the list goes on.............................

During this month operas, auctions, comedies, dancing and singing will be put on to entertain the spirits. However although all are welcome to come and watch DONT sit in the front seats as these are reserved for the spirits! If you do you may become possessed.

These festivities are all across Singapore however they are more concentrated in Chinatown, Redhill and Geylang. Geylang is the nearest to us and where we visited last night.

We are really fortunate to live close to both Chinese and Moslem areas, during July we were able to experience the month long Ramadam festival and this month right next door (literally across the road) the Hungry Ghost Festival. What will be next month? With Singapore being so multicultural we can expect something new at each turn. Many of these festivals we have either only heard of, if at all, and certainly never experienced or understood.

This was outside a shop in Chinatown last Sunday. It appears that the whole family have set up offerings outside the shop and were praying.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Home visit

We've just been on our first trip home to UK..... Well not really sure where home is now, I guess we're really lucky in that we now call 2 countries home. This was a real surprise that after just 5 months in Singapore we can now in all truthfulness call it home. It is a relief what a smooth transition it was. In all the moves I have made before it has usually taken me 18 months to feel at home (if at all) so returning to the UK to visit family it has surprised me that I've can now call Singapore home.

Had a lovely and lively 2 weeks visiting in-laws in Sutton Coldferld, mother in Norfolk and the 3 kids in Bristol and of course my gorgeous dog Oscar, whom we left behind with our eldest son and daughter. After these two weeks I now need to go on a strict diet and return to my daily walking regime and shed some of these extra pounds after all the meals out. Think I could compile a blog of British pub/restaurant food in UK after all the examples we sampled!!!!

Oscar dog taking up residence on my lap soon after my arrival!
The weather in UK was good thankfully and I didn't have to change out of my normal "Sing uniform" of shirts and t shirt apart from a few occasions! But have to say did miss the intense heat which is "good for my old bones"!!!!   What was good to experience was the "seasons" Its coming to the end of the summer in UK and its getting to autumn (my favourite of the seasons) this is when I get the urge to start gathering, storing and making goodies to keep for the coming winter. In singapore there are no seasons just a slight couple of degrees change in temperature and just a different time of day to expect the rain if any.

Who would of thought after 40+ years living and holidaying in the UK (apart from a couple of years in Germany when my sons were young ) that I would find the move to the other side of the world so easy. Singapore has really proved an interesting, welcoming country, full of places to visit and the list just seems to keep getting longer. Its feels like a permanant holiday, with that sense of freedom you get from holidays, where you feel you can accomplish anything and be someone new.

It's been a great couple of weeks lovely to catch up with family, friends and dog but have to be honest I am also looking toward to getting back to my "other home" I'll miss Autumn - the crisp mornings, the chilly evenings, dressing up in woollies and going for long walks and will miss a proper Christmas, which will surprise my friends who are used to my "bah humbug" comments from the end of Summer onwards, especially when the Xmas ads start on the tv so early and the Xmas stock appears in stores in September! but I guess I'm already remembering through rose-tinted glasses. However I'm looking forward to weather that can be relied on, the normal dress code is shorts, t'shirt, sunglasses and umbrella!! Looking forward to discovering new places in Singapore, new food and traveling to new places I only dreamt of going whilst in UK.

I shall look forward to the family visiting and sharing with them as much as we can in the short time they'll be out with us. By the end of this year one son and my daughter will have visited. The in-laws have booked for beginning of next year and our other son has plans to visit as well. I already have a long list of places for them to see.

I intend to make the most of my "new home" but look forward to visiting the "other home" on our next trip to the UK in another year . How much will it and myself have changed by then I wonder?

Sutton Coldfield

This restaurant in the centre of Birmingham made us smile. The sign is in the design of the Singapore Post office and Bugis Street is an area not to far away from where we live in SG. The food was all the "favourites" of Singapore - Laksa, chili crab, Char kway Teow, black pepper beef etc. Have made a note of this to try on another visit.

Norfolk - 

I have already posted some photos of this already on post PHOTOS: Sheringham, Norfolk.  However just to say the North Norfolk coast line and road from Cromer along to Hunstanton on a clear sunny day is absolutely stunning.


Bristol is currently invaded by 80 large fibreglass Gromit statues ( Gromits unleashed) for further info  we just happened to pop into the city without realising this was happening. It was great to see the place so full with families, the young and the not so young following the trail and collecting and "ticking off" Gromits when they were found. Good old fashioned entertainment :)  Below are just a few of those we spotted on our hour long visit

Outdoor screening in Millenium Square of "A Grand Day Out" (1989)

Monday, 26 August 2013

PHOTOS: Sheringham, Norfolk

During our recent trip back to the UK, to visit family, we travelled to Norfolk to see my mother. On what happened to be the the anniversary of my fathers death we took her to Sherringham, on the Norfolk coast, to a place they loved and enjoyed visiting. Here are a few photos of the visit there followed by a fantastic pub in Thornham where we had lunch outside. Hubby and I had taken the kids there about 14 years ago when it was called the Kings Head!! It turned out to be Norfolks Pub of the Year 2013. Now called the Orange Tree the food was superb if a little on the pricey side - well worth a visit though!

The Orange Tree, Thornham

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Fly a flag - National Day

As we will be travelling back to the UK on the 9th of Aug I thought I would do a brief post on Singapores Birthday - National Day
This years logo comprises circles of different sizes and colours symbolizing Singapores different stories that make up its memory. Also of the encounters it has gone through as a Nation as well as the morals and ambition that make up a Singaporean. The red heart at the centre symbolizes the love and passion for Singapore

It is on 9th Aug and understandably a public holiday, this year it also falls the day after Eid (end of Ramadan) on the 8th, also another Public Holiday so everyone in Singapore gets an extra long weekend. Although not a Public Holiday the month long Hungry Ghost Festival starts 7th Aug  and lasts until 4 Sept, celebrated by the Chinese....... but thats another Blog topic for a later date.......

For over a month now flags and banners have been appearing around streets in balconies anywhere and everywhere. Indeed along our road all the condos blocks are covered with them. The uniformity of the local HDB blocks with flags on every balcony really are a sight to see. This year its 48 years since Independence from Malaysia in 1965.

We have had practice after practice of The Parade (held for the 6th time on the floating harbour in Marina Bay) for the last couple of months, also practice runs of the fireworks display and planes flying over us rehearsing as well. Indeed the only thing that slowed these mega organized rehearsals down was the "haze" which hit Singapore for a week in June. Singapore has rehearsed and rehearsed and just to make sure rehearsed!!
A country wide competion "Sing a Nation" has chosen a song and singers. The song "One Singapore" was chosen and could easily be a "Eurovision Song contest" entry!!  It hasn't been very popular.. I shall say no more :) If you wish to view it, it can been found on You Tube 

Next year I hope we will be here for the celebrations and if not able to view The Parade ( tickets v v expensive!!) at least get to watch it on tv .... every channel I believe!!