Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Touching Bases.

Just letting everyoneknow that I am in BALI!!!

The only access to internet I have out here are these little inetrnet cafes, so I'm not really going to blog out here, but expect lots of posts when I get back to Singapore on the fourth! Bali is so dreamy. I have never been so instantly infatuated with a place and culture. I am so in love, and never want to leave.

Okay, the blogging thing will happen again in a few days.

Expect a post gushing with pictures and tales.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Chimpan A to Chimpan Z

The other day I felt like getting out into the wild, and so I took a taxi over to Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. It was only a few minutes from home, and what a lovely place it was! I chose a few dirt paths that weaved through the jungle terrain. It was complete solitude, except for a handful of hikers that passed me, the rustling of animals in the trees, and singing birds. I was entirely encompassed with thick jungle vegetation and weblike vines everywhere in between. It felt as though I was in an Indiana Jones movie.

The majestic beauty of a banyan tree.
All right the highlight of my excursion was an unexpected visit I had from some close relatives. I was nearing the end of the trail, when I became a little disappointed. I was told that there are tons of macaque monkeys in the reserve. I hadn't seen one. Suddenly, two monkeys darted from the trees and into the paved road! This was a pleasant surprise, and before I knew it the entire road and the trees surrounding were filled with a whole tribe of wild monkeys! They were swinging from the trees, wrestling one another on the pavement, grooming, and causing a huge raucous. I couldn't help but watch them for a few minutes, and take some pics.



They were seriously all over the place, and they didn't seem to mind or really pay attention to me at all. Well, that was until the dominant alpha male of the group got a little irritated. All of the sudden this big monkey charged towards me, snorting in a very threatening manner! It practically scared the pants off me. Never been chased by a wild monkey before, but it taught me that they do not appreciate the paparazzi!

The next day was also an encounter with the animal kingdom. We attended Breakfast with the Orangutans at the Singapoore Zoo. Looooooved it.

I got to feed the elephants!

And I got up close to the orangutans.
I wanted to take them home with me!

I wanted to kidnap the baby, but declined at the thought of having my arms torn out of their sockets by Big Mama.

The whole fambly.

Who couldn't love that face?
Did you know that Orang Utan means "forest people" in Indonesian?
And don't they just look it?

Apparently these apes have 97%
of the same DNA that we humans have.
Chimps have 99%.

Grandma and Don with his safari hat.

Sam and Kris looking cool at the zoo.

I had to throw this pic in just because I though this white tiger was so awesome!
Just beautiful!

All right, all right. . . can you tell that I'm a dorky animal lover? What can I say? I've been that way since I was a kid, and haven't changed one bit. Guess where I'm going tonight?

A Night Safari!

I'm way stoked.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Singapore Update + Father's Day

Hmmm. . .

How can I catch up with my Singapore posts?

My best bet is more pictures and less words.
After all, a picture is worth a 1000 words.

So here are approximately 25,000 words to process, though they will do little justice to the incredible experiences I have been having over here.

While Don and Purni were in Japan, Grandma and I kept an eye on Kris and Sam; however they are probably the most mature and capable 12 and 14-year old boys I have ever been acquainted with. Baby-sitting these two was a breeze. Here is Kris at his wake-boarding competition. Funny-- there are no wakes. Maybe it should just be called water-boarding. Sounds more intense.

Kris and Sam took us to this fancy seafood place down by the east coast. They ordered everything for us, including one of Singapore's signature meals-- CHILI CRAB. All I have to say was that it was AWESOME. One of the best and messiest meals I have had in a long time. Good thing they gave me that bib.

Grandma and I have been going on a million tours. One I particularly enjoyed was the Chinatown walk. Probably because they gave us free samples at a traditional Chinese pastry shop and herbal tea at a store for Chinese herbs and medicine. The tea was called "8 treasures" and was so lovely. We purchased a package of it to take home.

These pictures are from a Chinese temple that we visited. I think the oldest one in Singapore.

This is where people pray to Confucius so that their children will do good on their exams-- and I would too since I have heard that the school system in Singapore is no cakewalk.
Confucius say. . . blah, blah, blah, blah....

There was a little bat hanging from the temple ceiling.
For the Chinese this is a very auspicious omen.
Who knew?!

A man worshipping at the Shrine. I believe this shrine was dedicated to the patron goddess of the temple-- the goddess of Mercy. ( I think)

The door guards.

Red Lanterns everywhere.

These are Peranakan tiles. So vibrant and sweet. These colors and designs are seen in all kinds of Peranakan crafts, especially the china. Love it.

The market stalls of Chinatown.

This spiky fruit, the durian, is not only fordidding in appearance, but smell. Still, the singaporeans seem to love it. They say it tastes like heaven and smells like... well you can guess. I've tries tried many new exotic fruits here, but I've yet to sample this one.

Grandma and I ate at a Chinese Restaurant famous for its noodles. They make them right in front of you, juggling and tossing them around like some circus act. It was very impressive. Plus, the noodles were to DIE for.

This photo is from the battle box. For my Londoner-friends, it was very very similar to the war cabinets. These wax figures and rooms represent the British headquarters in Singapore during WWII.

While Don and Purni were gone, I spent a lot of just hanging around the condo complex. It kind of reminds me of a luxury hotel-- awesome pool, tropical vegetation, fitness center, sauna, poolside cafe, even room service! Good thing I know how to relax.

All right, here is one of my favorite things about Singapore at the moment. The JUICE! Everywhere you go there are these juice stands. You simply tell them what fruit you want, and they simply throw it in a blender and press "liquefy." No yogurt, milk, or sherbet. Just straight-up juice. My favorite to order by the pool is watermelon juice. Also, I saw that they sold an Avocado milk shake. Sounds unusual, right? Well, it's awesome. Everyone should try it. I think you'd be pleasantly surprised at how wonderful it is. Here is Sam holding up my two favorites.

The lotus-covered tank of love and peace at the National Museum.
I think it looks like a life-size Barbie tank.

This is Bugis Shopping Village. It is crazy in here. Very cramped. Overwhelming. Claustrophobia-inducing. Still, I found some pretty neat stuff here, including a small boutique filled with jewelry from Nepal. So simple and beautiful. I was Gushing over every necklace. The stores here were also very cheap, and guess what??? The exchange rate is 1.44! The U.S. dollar stretches much further here.

Chinatown at Night.
This is the street where the street vendors make and sell magnificent food.

Speaking of Magnificent food, Don and Purni took us to this really fun Dim Sung Restaurant. Basically you and your party sits down for a meal, and carts of delicious food whirl around you, It kind of reminded me of "Be our Guest" on Beauty and the Beast. Really, it was very tasty, We had jasmine tea, which worked as a kind of palette cleanser between each of these tasty dumplings and finger foods. The dessert was also lovely. Two words-- Mango Pudding.

I wanted a true Chinese experience, and so I took a chance with chicken feet.
I repeat, chicken feet.

You know, it really wasn't terrible. A very interesting and chewy texture. . .
One was enough.

For being as particular as he is about food, I was surprised when Sam was game for chicken feet.

All right. This is a day late, but here is a shout-out to my dad for Father's day. If I were home I would make you dinosaur-shaped pancakes like you used to make for me!

Love you, Dad!

The Bananasaurus Rex Pancake.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wu Guanzhong Collection

On Saturday, Grandma and I took an excursion to the Singapore Art Museum, and we were completely dazzled by the Wu Guanzhong collection. I had never heard of this artist before, but apparently, he is one of the most famous contemporary Chinese artists. I was seriously blow away with what I beheld. After studying many years in Paris, he is particularly famous for his fusion of Asian and Western techniques. Mastering both ink and oil, traditional and abstract-- Guanzhong's work is diverse, and yet his style is distinct and original.

I believe that our guide told us that there was a time in China (I think it was the Cultural Revolution) that Guanzhong was not allowed to paint people. His subject matter then became trees, but she believed that these resembled human-like qualities and that human feeling emanates from Guanzhong's trees. As soon as she said that, the tree above became something very new in my eyes. I suddenly felt the tree was a person observing the rooftops below. It suddenly did become human.

Such bold texture.

His more abstract pieces were very appealing to me because they seem very deliberate. After reading about him, it is evident that it was very important that his audience have some sort of grasp on his art. He compared this to an "unbroken line" of a kite string. He must not fail to grasp the connection between his work and his audience, or else it would fail.

This one is called "Roots." When observed closely, the roots looked like hands.

More paintings that I retrieved from Google images. Strangely, very little results pulled up from the search.

These cranes were just stunning in person.

Look at that! Pink Ink! And green and yellow! Traditional Asian ink only uses black and red. Who knew it could be so vibrant?

Something about this exhibit-- Guanzhong's work-- was so magical.

The other exhibits at the museum were nice as well...

This one was an issue piece. The whole room was painted black with these white girls' dresses hanging from the ceiling. We entered through a black door and then pulled a message attached to a red string from the ceiling. Inside the message, we read a statistic or fact regarding the abortion of baby girls in Asia. It was alarming. One said, "in the year 2020, there will be one million more men in China than women." yikes.

You don't find any warnings like this in Europe. Nope.

The Museum itself was very beautiful. It was once a Catholic Boys' school and had a very lovely chapel in the center.

The SAM.
Singapore Art Museum