Sunday, 21 December 2014

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" .... Well almost!

It's 4 days until the big day, our second year away from the UK and our families and I'm writing this in 30+ degree heat, wearing shorts and vest top, contemplating a chicken and avocado salad for lunch. The cards were posted a couple of weeks ago, no rushing to buy presents or fighting crowds for brussels sprouts. No planning, just chilling and apart from the numerous "have a wonderful xmas" farewells I say, as friends disappear to different parts of the globe for holidays and trips back to families, I'm really remind myself it's Christmas in FOUR days!

But Singapore is putting on a wonderful show, with decorations and Christmas trees everywhere you look, in every mall (and there's hundreds!!) shops are full of Christmas food, gifts offers and the never ending Christmas "tunes." I admit, I'm not finding it as strange as our 1st xmas here last year, but maybe, just maybe I'm missing the "perfect" winters Christmas build up.....crisp, dry, icy but sunny days, with log fires burning, mulled wines, mugs of steaming soup, warming hearty stews, carol singers standing on street corners at eventide, under street lamps with a dusting of snow, walking past smiley faces and hearing cheery "Merry Christmas" being wished from total strangers as they pass you by with ruddy cheeks and wide happy smiles.... Well that's how it always is in the UK isn't it?.......

Last years I posted the festive lights on the major shopping thoroughfare here, Orchard Road  This year although bling and colourful the street lights themselves haven't grabbed me with much excitement. This year I've taken myself down to the festive market and sights of Gardens by the Bay and the Super Trees. They have certainly "done" Christmas well here. Little wooden cabins selling goodies and food reminiscent of Christmasses spent in Germany and wandering around the Christmas markets there, carol singers and dancers, even bagpipe players. The Supertrees, as ever, regularly light up to music throughout the evenings, at this time of year its to festive tunes and the lights on the trees turn to multicoloured baubles. Squint and you're in a "Hollywood styled, perfect traditional Disney Christmas" but I've thoroughly enjoyed perfection :)

The highlight for me of the Winter Wonderland in the Gardens has got be the the luminaire.  A massive white wooden arch display covered in 95,000 light bulbs and brought in from Italy.
Singapore has even managed to supply snow each evening and at the same time each night. I confess to loving it, yes this ol' humbug felt Christmassy.

For those of you in SG that haven't been yet, get down there, tonight is the last night for the snow. For everyone else across the globe I hope you enjoy the photos and I wish you all a truly Peaceful and Happy Christmas.

Now I'm off for a cycle along the coast, wheres the sun lotion??

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.....

Something else to look forward to which you can get a sneak peek of now, is, if you've slept through the last six months, is Singapore will be celebrating its 50th birthday next year. Look out for a year full of celebrations. But the first nod towards this is the wishing spheres in Marina Bay, Bay of Lights which are different this year to last. To see what they looked like last year see my post here  This year they are designed to be the logo for SG50. There will be 5,000 red spheres making up the large 50 emblem. The best place to view this is on top of the iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel, and a good excuse if one's ever needed for a delightful hour spent "on top of the world looking down on creation" Woops I seemed to of broken into song there!!!  As of previous years you can send wishes on the spheres and myself and my friend Louise did just that last week as we walked alongside the bay.

my contribution 
View from MBS can you spot mine?!?!

The wishes from my friend

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Kubor Kassim

I first heard about this Malay cemetery when I started researching places near to where I lived and when reading up about the Jalan Kabur cemeteries along Victoria  Street   It's only a short bus ride from home and the interesting yellow and green fading, peeling paintwork of the unusual porch style gates really grabs your attention and makes you want to see what's on the otherside. 

Situated alongside Siglap road, almost on the crest of the hill, this Malay cemetery is supposed to date back to the 1800s although many of the dates on the gravestones I could read were 1950-70s. 

Kubor/Kubur means cemetery in Malay and therefore the name means Kassims cemetery, who is Kassim? There seems little or no information on this site on the Internet, although if I read Malay or Arabic maybe I would have found some more. 

The little I could find out is very sketchy and I'm not sure how correct or relevant to the cemetery they are. One comment was the cemetery existed due to its close proximity to Kampong Siglap (a Malay kampong) this to me would make sense. Along the East coast up to the 1980s were 4 kampongs (villages) Siglap and Hajijah were both Malay and Lim Choo and Goh Choo were Chinese kampongs.

An interesting piece of folklore is that Siglap was named from the Malay word "gelap" meaning "darkness that conceals" legend says that the chief of kampong Siglap, Tok Lasam, landed on the east coast under dark thunder clouds. 

As stated I'm not sure on any of the information on the cemetery as nothing much seems to be out there. Safe to say it's old, it's malay, it's large and has a number of large shrines within its grounds. Most of the information out there seems to be from groups and individuals visiting at night hoping to find some paranormal activities. 

I however visited during the day, in bright sunshine and searing heat. The gates were unlocked and were bekoning us in. I was really surprised at how large the area was, as far as we could see there were graves large and small stretching back across the area. I believe the cemetery land is planned to be redeveloped for residential use sometime in the future...why doesn't this surprise me. 

Not only were there many gravestones but there seemed to be equally as many cats as well!! Extremely friendly, that followed us around so closely I was afraid of either falling over them, or standing on and hurting them! 2 young lads were there feeding them for awhile. Along with the cats were the ants and mosquitos!! But what else would you expect in this natural non preened environment. I was surprised, considering it is situated along a relatively busy road and with condos and houses to the sides, how quiet and tranquil this place remains. 

I'm not going to try and give any information on those that are buried here as I'm not sure, reports seems to differ and I don't want to pass on wrong information or to offend anyone, although there seems to be agreement that an Indian Sufi saint was buried here with his shrine. 

I'll leave you to look at the photos and image the tranquil resting place of so many Malay Moslems.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Golden Bell Mansion

aka Danish Seamans church

This unusual styled home was designed by the well known architect Wee Moh Teck. It was built in 1909 and completed in 1910. It was built for the successful businessman and philanthropist Tan Boo Liat (yes of Tan Boo Liat building, with all those great furniture shops!!) 

The building is a mix of styles, colonial, chinese and thai, with red brickwork and white plaster, known as blood and bandages. It also has a tower supposedly to depict a Thai stupor, a touch towards Tan Boo Liats friendship with the king of Siam (Thailand) Known as the Golden Bell mansion after Tan Boo Liats grandfather Tan Kim Ching whose name translates as golden bell. 

The building is found on what was known as Mount Washington but now a part of Mount Faber. It had 2 bedrooms, a billiard room, smoking room and a dining room. 

Tan Boo Liat 1875-1934 was also the grandson of Tan Tock Seng.  Tan Boo Liat was friends with the king of Siam and was even given an honorary royal title by him of Phra Anakul Sayamkitch in 1920. He was also a passionate follower and president of the Chinese revolutionary political party Kuomintang. The founder of this party Dr Sun Yat Sen stayed at the mansion on 15 Dec 1911 and then his wife and children also in Feb of the following year. 

Tan Boo Liat died in Shanghai in 1934 and his unusual "modern" grave can be found in Bukit Brown Cemetery. This grave is unusual and different to any of the others here. It's white and has a ray of light on the front, depicting the Kuomintang and also has 2 bells adorning it, this a memory again to his grandfather, in death as in life. After his death the Golden Bell mansion was sold....

Today it's is home to the Danish Seamans church Singapore and the Danish Seamans mission. Founded in 1984 this is a non profit making organization. A base for traveling Danes, giving support both practical and spiritual. Originally for seaman but now for any Danes abroad. There is a large close knit Danish community in Singapore with another 53 Danish missions across the world. 

What was once the dining room is now home to the church and in the next room is housed a large Danish library. The female priest lived upstairs but the roof leaked dramatically. The government sourced and had it repaired recently, but the day before we visited it had rained heavily and water again poured in through the ceiling and down the walls into the church. Clearly the repairs had not worked!

The Golden Bell mansion (Danish Seamans church) can be found at 
10 Pender Rd
It's open Monday - Thursday and Sunday's