Nov 20, 2008

Heritage with a Modern Twist: Explore Singapore! 2008

Courtesy of Walter Lim (Director of Corporate Comms. and Industry Promotion, NHB)

As one who tries to blog about heritage creatively, I'm glad to know Explore Singapore! is back again. For the third successive year, this iconic museum event will show you a whole new side to our museums and heritage.

Take note - this is no more an event than a morsel can constitute a meal. It is a heritage buffet! Spanning over 70 activities at more than 27 museums island-wide, both young and old will be spoilt for choice, from 20 Nov to 7 Dec 2008.

Prepare to get awe-struck, star-struck, even love-struck. Not your typical museum event, the activities cover familiar lifestyle themes like food, love, shopping and entertainment - all part of NHB's efforts to bring heritage to the mass.

A gloomy economy and shrinking wallets should not deter us from taking part, as entry charges are waived or pegged at very affordable rate during this period. The kids can also indulge themselves in the activities catered for them, as do lover-birds - yes, couples are part of the target audience as well.

Here's a sampling of activities from the website. You can find more information and the full list here.

Wedding Talk by Vernetta Lopez - Wedding planner and celebrity radio personality Vernetta Lopez shares her ideas for the perfect wedding. Enjoy this special workshop with your partner in a beautiful dining hall tastefully designed by Vernetta herself. (3 Dec, SAM)

Self-Defence Workshop with Vincent Ng - Join celebrity hunk and Singapore Wushu champion Vincent Ng as he demonstrates basic self-defence moves for the ladies. Gain a basic understanding of the physical and cultural aspects of Wushu and learn leg, hand and body movements. Pick up useful stances, punches and kicks to protect yourself! (6 Dec, Civil Defence Heritage Gallery, Ladies only)

Love Tales of Bras Basah and BugisJoin us on a leisurely walk and discover the many love stories hidden within the quaint and lovely historic districts of Bras Basah and Bugis. (22 Nov/5 Dec, Singapore City Gallery)

Cosplay Challenge 09 - Come discover the world of Cosplay through our exclusive Cosplay exhibition that includes award-winning costumes from the World Cosplay Summit exhibition. Participate in our special Cosplay workshops and stand to win attractive prizes! (Singapore Discovery Centre)

Comics and Superheroes Exhibition - Explore the fantasy world of make-believe. This exhibition explores the origin and development of comics which began in mid-1600s with the introduction of caricature, gradually evolved into comic strips and books, and eventually progressed from print to screen. (4 Dec onwards, Singapore Philatelic Museum)

Screening of Princess Monoke by Hayao Miyazaki - Don’t miss cult animation favourite Princess Mononoke, a period drama set in the late Muromachi period of Japan. Based on the relationship between the supernatural guardians of a forest and the humans who consume its resources, it is a beautifully drawn masterpiece that is particularly relevant today. (5 Dec, SAM)

Marina Barrage Reservoir Cruise - Take a cruise on the new scenic Marina Reservoir! (Fridays-Sundays during Explore Singapore! period)

The highlights of Explore Singapore! are the three weekend activities - Big Eat Out!, Dim Sum Dollies Day Out and Wrap! Festival. The last needs a bit of elaboration. It is actually the finale event of Explore Singapore! with musical performance by Nanta from Korea, Jack and Rai from EIC and magic show by Jeremy Pei. The climax is reached when the lucky winner for the brand new Subaru Forester car (COE included) is announced. Here are the ways to win it.

Photo Credit:
Don't need to touch the car for three days lah. Just take part in Explore Singapore! and you stand a chance to win it.

Nov 14, 2008

Recognise what mountain this is?

Came across this on STOMP:
STOMPer Albert took these photos from his home in Clementi Avenue 3, which show a mountain in the background.

He says:

"These photos were taken from my house at Clementi Ave 3, facing Clementi MRT station.

"The mountain can be seen on clear days or just after a heavy shower."

Do you recognise what mountain this is?

Singapore's No. 1 citizen journalism website with 12 million monthly page views issued this challenge arousing my interest. This heritage hobbyist with growing interest in the natural geography just couldn't resist taking up the challenge.

My initial impression of the first photo was of incredulity. With a mountain range towering behind the tall buildings, you thought when did Singapore have her own Mount Kilimanjaro? I have not had the luxury to admire the scenery from a tall building in Clementi, but I know Bukit Timah/Gombak/Batok lie nearby. This mountain, however, lies much further away. Does such a mountain exist? What can be more shocking than if you wake up one day and suddenly find a mountain on the horizon? Either you are dreaming or Uncle Yu moved the mountain (寓公移山).

But you will not find such a view in Clementi. The first photo is zoomed, so the mountain looks smaller in reality. From Albert's home in Clementi Avenue 3, you should see something like in the second photo. In the second photo, we see two mountains. The one on the left - our Kilimanjaro - is still shrouded in mystery. The one on the right looks easy with her proximity to Clementi. We'll find out in a moment.

The right one is easy, I suppose most STOMP comments got the right one right or near. By right, the challenge is with the left one, not right. So by answering the right one, how can they be right? I guess some people gave up left right and came up with Fuji, Kinabalu, Ice Mountain and yes, there's even Brokeback. They are joking, am I right?

A Brokeback Mountain in Singapore? Not anytime soon.

Do you want to find out its real name? I sure do, so we need to enlist the help of our friend again. Previously she helped me confirm the mysterious mountain of the 1960s which turned out to be Bukit Gombak.

Get ready to be excited. Firing up the client, you can't wait for the globe to rotate to Singapore. You know where you should stop from the position of Clementi MRT Station in the photo. You pan to the location, descend to the approximate elevation and look straight at the horizon, expecting to see the mountain on the left. If you don't, then perhaps the mountain was built out of a mole-hill before Google could update the map.

I did find my Kilimanjaro on the horizon after some adjustment. I almost missed it as the mountain disappears at low elevation.

Clementi Google Earth
Google Earth view of the photo. The two mountains can be seen clearly.

I was off to the mountain - flying like Superman to the destination - the moment "Kilimanjaro" appeared in sight. Even Superman takes time to fly, so in the meantime let's take a look at the mountain on the right which we have neglected. Look carefully, there are actually two of them, two hills to be exact.

View Larger Map
Line of sight to the two hills. It is easy to find Albert's place from the MRT station in the photo. This will be our origin point. From there, extrapolate the line of sight to the hills in the general direction.

Sorry to disappoint the Bukit Timah supporters. You are mistaken if you think the Tin Hill is one of them.

Ok, Superman should have reached his destination now. Ooh, and with the realization he is in Malaysian airspace. Superman boleh! Needless to say, our superhero does not need a passport.

Gunung Pulai from Clementi
Top: The mountain at close range, from Google Earth.
Bottom: The mountain in the background of the photo.

So where is this mountain? I give you a clue - it is pretty near a resort with golf course. In fact I was at this resort quite recently.

View Larger Map
Line of sight to Bukit Gombak and the mountain.

Nov 5, 2008

A Lorong is not a Street: Taxonomy of the Singapore Road Name

Given the plethora of online resources and services, do you still use the paper street directory?

While people are flocking to Google Map and SLA Map, there is a reason why I still hug my street directory book and even bought the latest edition recently.

There are things that you just cannot find on the paperless version. The road index is an example. Gone are the days you have to scan the index for your road, the online version like SLA Map provides a search box for that purpose.

The street directory from a certain publisher contains a real gem - their road index is in dual language. This, I thought, is a good chance to brush up my Chinese. Yeah right! Actually I'm lying. My English is the one to be brushed up, as far as the taxonomy of road name is concerned. You can't fault me for this - I had English and Chinese as first language in school and now with really talented Mainlanders working under with me, my working language is by and large Mandarin.

Disclaimer: My Chinese is by no means fantastic. What follows is a hodgepodge of guesswork.

If you do a classification on the road index, you'd realize there are more than two dozens ways we name the Singapore road. The list is shocking, you never thought Boat Quay and Boat Quay Lane are different roads in the index.

Taxonomy of the Singapore road name. Here are 22 most common and more interesting ones. The full list could be double the number.

There is no one-to-one translation between the English and Chinese road name. Is this any surprising? There is a sociopolitical reason behind this and I shall not elaborate. There is also the linguistic reason English "borrows" heavily from its cousins across the Channel.

Take Boulevard for instance. The word is suspiciously French and I never bothered to check the meaning from the dictionary. It sounds cool with the usual French airs. Of course it is only cool if you enunciate the French way, the same with 'reservoir' and 'rendezvous'. My ignorance disappeared after seeing the Chinese translation - 林荫道. Chey, so it is just a road lined with and shaded by trees. In fact the dictionary definition is:

a broad avenue in a city, usually having areas at the sides or center for trees, grass, or flowers.

And the translation for Avenue happens to be 道. Now I know why Orchard Road looks so different from Orchard Boulevard.

The mixing and matching leads to better understanding. A Way is a Big Avenue, so Boon Lay Way is wider than Boon Lay Avenue. A Track is a Rural Avenue. An Alley is a Small Lane. A Grande is supposed to be a Majestic Avenue, but looking at Tampines Grande I'm not so sure. A Path is a smaller version of a Walk. And of course, a Lorong is not a Street.

The Chinese translation reveals other information. I didn't know Buona Vista means "good view" in Italian until I blogged about it here. If only I read the road index more carefully a few years before, as Vista and View are pretty synonymous in the road index. I didn't know also that Vale is a kind of valley. You can call the Chinese an uncreative bunch for naming every valley a valley. That's why the Grand Canyon is called 大峡谷, just as the Dragon Girl in the Jinyong (金庸) story fell into 绝情谷.