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Gardens by the Bay 滨海湾花园

Supertrees Grove at Dusk – Towering Attraction of Gardens by the Bay

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Supertrees, high-tech flowers: Singapore’s incredible new attraction, Gardens by the Bay

One of the world’s coolest ‘green’ initiatives, the innovative gardens feature solar-powered trees and climate-controlled flower domes

Forget the casino. Marina Bay Singapore’s hottest new attraction is Gardens by the Bay, a cutting-edge horticultural mega project featuring 50-meter high solar-powered “supertrees” and climate-controlled biomes.

The entire project is estimated to have cost more than S$1 billion. Today is the official opening of Bay South Garden, the largest of the 101-hectare venue’s three gardens. The 54-hectare section features cooled flower domes, multiple heritage-themed outdoor gardens and two lakes.

Cooled conservatories

Bay South Garden’s two glass biomes — dubbed “Cloud Forest” and “Flower Dome” — were designed to replicate the cool-moist climate of the tropical montane region, the Mediterranean and semi-arid sub-tropical regions.

The conservatories feature plants and trees from these areas, which are among the most threatened habitats in the world, say Gardens officials. In addition to the permanent display of plant life and tree species, there will be seasonal changing floral displays in the Flower Dome.

Supertrees

Ranging in height from 25 to 50 metres, the Gardens’ 18 Supertrees are basically vertical gardens covered in bromeliads, ferns and tropical flowering climbers. Two of the trees are connected via an aerial walkway.

It’s pretty innovative stuff. The structures mimic the ecological functions of real trees through their environmentally sustainable features.

Some have photovoltaic cells on their canopies to harvest solar energy to light up at night, others are integrated with cooled conservatories and serve as air exhaust receptacles.

Above passage adapted from CNNGo.

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Here’s a 3 minute video walk-through of the gardens:

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For those who are fans of National Geographic Megastructures, here’s a feature on the gardens:

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Chinatown 牛车水 차이나타운

You must be surprised at the Chinese translation of Chinatown as 牛车水 which literally means ‘Cow, Car, Water’ instead of the typical 唐人街. The name, 牛车水, stems from the scenes of bullock carts pulled by cows in transporting water from the Singapore river to Chinatown for the people of the Chinese settlement area.

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Chinatown is an area that’s rich in culture and heritage, most famous for the buzz of activity that surrounds it during the festive season of Chinese New Year. The Chinatown trail brings you on a journey of interesting and surprising finds, beginning at Pagoda Street. Here at the Chinatown Heritage Centre, take a look at how life was like for the early Chinatown settlers.

Named after the Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple, Pagoda Street is a good location to admire the architecture of restored shophouses which flank the street, all featuring characteristic five-foot ways (covered verandahs so named because of their width).

Across from the Chinatown Heritage Centre, you’ll find the pedestrian mall of Trengganu Street, where some of the shophouses are home to Singapore’s performing arts groups. In the early days, hawkers used to sell a variety of wares ranging from cheap cooked food to household goods, day and night. Today, the hustle and bustle is brought back to the streets through the Chinatown Street Market on Pagoda, Trengganu and Sago Streets where one can find traditional wear, accessories, knick knacks and, of course, cheap bargains. Feast on hawker food ala old Chinatown on Smith Street, also known colloquially as ‘Food Street’, as the land was owned by Portuguese doctor Jose d’ Almeida, who opened a clinic and a shop here.

Situated on South Bridge Road is the famous Sri Mariamman Temple. Built originally as a wood and attap structure by Indian pioneer Narayana Pillai (who arrived in Singapore with Raffles), the temple was later replaced by a brick building. The Sri Mariamman Temple boasts a South Indian architectural design, and is dedicated to the Goddess Mariamman, believed to be a protector and curer of diseases. A stone’s throw away, you’ll see the Jamae Mosque, an Indian-Muslim mosque that is another well-known landmark in Chinatown. Originally built in 1826, it is believed to be one of the oldest mosques in Singapore.

Next, walk along South Bridge Road towards the junction of South Bridge and Maxwell roads and you’ll arrive at the Maxwell Road Food Centre. Once a wet market, it is now famous for its local hawker fare, including the renowned Tian Tian Chicken Rice.

Finally, end the Chinatown trail with a bit of shopping at Ann Siang Hill. Nutmeg plantations used to sit on the hill, before shophouses were later built and housed traditional clan associations. The elegantly restored shophouses on Ann Siang Road are now home to chic boutiques such as Asylum and Style: Nordic, as well as wine bars and eateries.

If you’re looking for a unique place to stay in a fascinating and cultural location, the boutique hotels of Chinatown might just be it. The Scarlet is a bold and uninhibited hotel located along Erskine Road, and features plush and opulent décor. Adjacent to it is The Club, occupying a newly white-washed building that dates back to the 1900s. The Club plays on an east-meets-west theme and gives a new perspective on Singapore’s rich history and heritage. For a mix of old world architecture and designer interiors, visit Hotel 1929 and New Majestic Hotel, both housed in conservation shop-houses. Hotel 1929 features a selection of unusual and classic chairs from the owner’s private collection, as well as 20th century photos of olden Singapore. For a taste of the “New Asia” genre, drop by New Majestic Hotel. From the open concept lobby with vintage Compton fans and furniture, to its dramatic pool that floats above the restaurant, New Majestic Hotel is a stunning and eclectic blend of heritage chic.

Courtesy of http://www.yoursingapore.com/

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Here’s a photo journey of the Chinatown trail!

Sri Mariamman Temple – Front Entrance

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Sri Mariamman Temple – Close-up of Front Entrance

From Left to Right:

Row of shophouses, Bus-stop, Banana Plant, Sri Mariamman Temple Cultural Heritage Plaque, Wooden door decorated by golden bells

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Sri Mariamman Temple – Side Entrance

Cows are considered as sacred animals by the Hindus.

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Sri Mariamman Temple – Back Entrance

Area where the Hindu devotees congregate after prayers

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Ann Siang Hill – Oil-painters painting the shophouses along Ann Siang Hill

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Ann Siang Hill – Cafe

The shophouse featured in the oil-painters’ paintings.

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Ann Siang Hill – Road Sign

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Ann Siang Hill – Screening Room

Pub and recreational area to chill

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Ann Siang Hill – Prayers for Seventh Month Hungry Ghost Festival

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Ann Siang Hill – Shopfront of Clan Association (会馆)

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Ann Siang Hill – Spiral Staircase feature of Shophouses

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Ann Siang Hill – Main Entrance of The Club Boutique Hotel

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Do take a walk along the Chinatown Trail!

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National Day Parade 2011 国庆庆典2011 건국 기념일 퍼레이드 2011

A glimpse of Singapore’s National Day Parade 2011 in pictures and captions.

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This year’s National Day Parade (NDP) logo depicts the passion and dynamism of the NDP 2011 theme “Majulah! The Singapore Spirit”, which calls on all Singaporeans to move forward together to overcome challenges and build a better Singapore.

The five figures symbolise brightly burning flames whose soaring motion reflects Singaporeans’ constant drive for higher levels of success as a nation. The two central figures form the shape of a heart which represents our love for Singapore and the compassion in our society as we celebrate 46 years of independence.  The five stars stand for our nation’s ideals of democracy, justice, equality, peace and progress.

The shades of red reflect Singaporeans from all walks of life.  The overall vivid red colour signifies our unity, determination and can-do spirit that bond us in times of success and adversity.

Courtesy of NDP 2011 Official Site.

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First up, the pre-parade segment.

Close-up of  NDP Red Lion (Parachuter)

Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/peng-hui/5983015707/

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Act 1: Dynamic Defence Display

Chinook flying across Marina Bay

Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/9514792@N06/5992314745/

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Chinook hovering above water in front of Merlion

Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/junefoo/5994264370/

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Act 1: Parade & Ceremony

21 Gun Salute from Floating Platform

The canon balls were actually being fired from canons placed on platforms floating on water.

Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/robinlow/5973669806/in/photostream/

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Act 2: Birth

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Act 3: Growing Up

The Dugong, a specie native to the Southeast Asia region, was featured in Act 3.

Courtesy of http://www.ndp.org.sg/#/performance?id=22&sub=7

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Unfortunately, the official NDP site did not upload videos on Acts 4 & 5.

It’s okay though since the pyrotechnic and firework displays stole the show for the last 2 acts.

Firework display from the Marina Bay Boulevard Waterfront

Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/cheishichiyo/5921093566/

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Firework Display from Marina Bay Sands Skypark

Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/9514792@N06/6026533810/

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Firework Display from Fullerton Hotel

Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/adforce1/5988642458/

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Close-up of Firework Display

Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/63278190@N05/6026313896/

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Terracotta Warriors 兵马俑 테라코타 전사

Been wanting to catch the Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor and His Legacy exhibition at the Asian Civilisations Museum running from 24 Jun 2011 – 16 Oct 2011.

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Clay mates

China’s terracotta warriors invade Singapore

Thousands of warriors, exotic animals, and even an entertainment troupe – no one gets a send-off the way China’s first emperor did. Even in death.

One can glean as much from Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor & His Legacy, an ongoing exhibition at the Asian Civilisations Museum. The show, comprising 100 artefacts loaned from some 12 museums from China’s Shaanxi province, marks the first time authentic – not replica – pieces of the famous terracotta warriors will be shown in Singapore and the region.

Terracotta Warriors is also complemented by Life After Death, an adjacent exhibition by Singaporean artist Justin Lee featuring his familiar pop art-rendered versions of the warriors previously seen at the National Museum Of Singapore. A free downloadable iPhone app also lets viewers interact with the exhibition by way of augmented reality.

While there are only 10 of these grand clay life-sized sculptures on display – a result of the Chinese government’s recent decision to limit the numbers of figures to be loaned for any single show – the complementary artefacts attempt to make up for the lack of visual impact by way of contextualising.

Accidentally discovered in 1974 outside Xi’an by a group of peasants attempting to dig a well, archeologists have now unearthed 1,900 of an estimated 8,000 unique, life-sized clay figures of soldiers and horses.

The pits from which the warriors were dug up are part of Emperor Shi Huangdi’s massive tomb complex stretching over an area of 56.25 sq km. The mausoleum itself – built by an estimated 700,000 people and approximately the area of two football fields – has yet to be excavated. “There’s an aura of mystery that surrounds it,” said Kan Shuyi, museum assistant curator and co-curator of the show.

Divided into three sections, the exhibition begins with a look at the pre-dynastic reign of Shi Huangdi and ends with a sampling of artefacts from the Han Dynasty that followed.

In the peripheries of China proper, the Qin Kingdom was initially looked down upon by the then-dominant kingdom of Zhou and known mostly for breeding horses for the latter’s kings, said Kan.

But as the delicately ornate pieces, including an exquisite ceremonial dagger with a gold and turquoise hilt, reveal, these uncouth, uncivilised horse breeders were apparently anything but.

“Their craftsmanship and aesthetic levels were very high,” said Kan.

The select pieces on display here, which include a larger-than-normal general, a charioteer, an infantryman and a horse, among others, weigh between 150kg and 200kg each. And while the pieces are mass-produced in makeshift local as well as palace kilns, Kan pointed out the great attention to detail that make each piece virtually unique.

Emperor Shi died in 210 BC at the young age of 49 but, preoccupied as he was with the idea of immortality and life after death, construction of the tomb complex began even before the dynasty was established – at the very beginning of his kingdom of lowly “horsebreeders”.

Remarked Kan: “It’s a very massive entourage for the afterlife.”

– Photo & Article: Courtesy of TODAY online

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Found this clip from youtube featuring the preview of the Terracotta Warriors.

For more background information on the significance of Terracotta Warriors as part of the burial tomb of Qin Shi Wang, do watch this National Geographic documentary.

Behind the scenes on the preparation of The First Emperor’s Terracotta Army exhibition at the British Museum. Lots of arrangements had to be made to accommodate the weight and height of the Terracotta warriors and horses. It’s impressive how the British Museum converted its magnificent reading room into the main gallery for The First Emperor’s Terracotta Army exhibition.

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Foie Gras

How much I crave for foie gras right now.

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The following article is copied from Luxury Insider – Fact File: Foie gras.

All Rights Reserved for Luxury Insider.

Fact File: Foie gras

[fwah grah ; Fr fwah grah] the liver of specially formed geese or ducks, used as a table delicacy, especially in the form of a paste (pate de foie gras)

Origins

Some 5,000 years ago, the Egyptians discovered that ducks and geese ate large amounts of food to prepare for their year-end migratory flight. As a result, their livers not only swelled to a much larger size but also became much tastier upon cooking.

The practice of force-feeding ducks or geese is believed to have originated when the Egyptians first fed their geese with figs. Since then, this delicacy has been enjoyed by the Greeks, the Romans and the Jews.

However, it was the French who improved on the feeding technique called gavage, and who developed novel preparation methods such astorchon and mousse. Many of these are still in wide use today.

What is Fole Gras?

Foie gras refers to the fattened liver of a duck (foie gras de canard) or a goose (foie gras d’oie). The extremely high fat content gives it an incredibly rich flavor and silken texture that melts in the mouth. Surprisingly, the fat contained in foie gras is actually unsaturated fat, which has coronary benefits.

Foie gras is available in many variations:

– foie gras entier: Whole liver lobes, cooked and cured, ready for the chef’s preparation. Contains no extra additives or mixes. This is definitely the premium product.

– bloc de foie gras: Small pieces of foie gras molded into a fully cooked block. Traditionally includes the addition of truffles. Under French law, anything called “bloc de foie gras” should comprise 98% or more foie gras. If termed “avec morceaux” (with pieces), it must contain at least 50% foie gras pieces from goose, and 30% from duck.

– foie gras broyé: Pieces of duck and goose liver ground into a mixture. The proportion is around 35% duck and 50% goose liver.

– mousse de foie gras: Pieces of foie gras puréed smooth and whipped into a mousse-like consistency. Legally required to contain no less than 50% of foie gras.

– parfait de foie gras: Puréed duck or goose liver. Extremely similar to mousse, but legally required to contain no less than 75% foie gras.

– paté de foie gras: Foie gras puréed with other meat products, such as pork or veal, into a spread-like consistency. Legally required to comprise 50% or more foie gras.

Sources of Fole Gras

Foie gras is available throughout the year, though winter is the peak season for goose production. It is produced through a prolonged process of manual feeding known as gavage, and only selected birds such as Toulouse or Strasbourg geese and male Mulard ducks are used. They are fed a grain mash comprising corn, fat and vitamin supplements.

France is the world’s leading producer, as well as its greatest consumer. Foie gras from the Alsace, Périgord and Gascony regions is particularly sought after for its extremely delicate taste. Other countries that produce this delicacy include Hungary, Bulgaria, Canada, Israel and Madagascar.

foie gras pic

Fole Gras Dishes

Foie gras d’oie is more expensive than foie gras de canard due to the higher cost of farming geese. The more delicate taste of foie gras d’oie lends itself better to traditional French preparations that generally involve low heat, such as the terrine style.

Foie gras de canard however, is more flavorful and retains its characteristic taste and texture even after undergoing hot preparations such as pan-searing (poëllé) and grilling. Despite its comparatively lower cost, it should not be regarded as a lesser cousin, as there are many who prefer its richer taste.

Foie gras is often served at the beginning of a meal, when one’s taste buds are most receptive. To best bring out the rich flavors of the dish, foie gras is commonly paired with bread – specifically brioche.

Chefs are also fond of complementing the richness of foie gras with ingredients such as figs, raisins and fruit conserve. These sweet, fruity pairings usually bear a tinge of acidity, which cuts through the fattiness of the foie gras.

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