Laneway Festival Singapore 2011

1/29/11

Singapore's first-ever Laneway Festival took place yesterday at Fort Canning Park. It rained poured on the crowd almost the entire time we were there. We were handed ponchos at the entrance to the concert, but it was a futile attempt at keeping people dry. I've never seen it rain so much in Singapore before!

Because it was raining so hard, I wasn't able to take that many photos, and the few that I did take didn't come out very clear. Here are a few shots from the concert: 
This is a photo of the crowd while Holy F@#k was performing. It was raining, but not so hard at this point. Not everyone had put on their ponchos yet. By the end of the night, the crowd was a sea of wet plastic and umbrellas. 
In line for beer. A lot of people had given up on wearing shoes at the show. The mud was so thick that it was easy to lose a flip flop in it. At one point during the show, it was raining so hard that there were mudslides going down the hill. We were standing in mud puddles for most of the concert. It was pointless and nearly impossible to try and avoid it.
!!! (Chk Chk Chk) performing. They're a band from Sacramento, California with great stage presence. When the lead singer asked if anyone from Sacramento was in the house, I screamed (I lived in the Sacramento area for a few years). I think I was the only one. Everyone standing around me looked at me like I was crazy. 
And finally, a photo of the lead singer from The Temper Trap. They were the last performance of the night. By then, Jeff and I were soaked (even with our ponchos on) and we had mud caked on our shoes and legs. 
Here's a video of The Temper Trap's song "Fader," which they performed last night. 

Even though it was a miserable day for a concert, Jeff and I still had a good time and listened to some great music. We've never intentionally stood in the pouring rain before and hopefully we won't have to do it for next year's show. 

Emerald Hill

1/28/11

Orchard Road is a busy area of Singapore teeming with shopping malls, traffic, and the hustle and bustle of tourists and locals alike. Nestled among the malls and entertainment is Emerald Hill, a quiet historic neighborhood lined with beautiful terrace houses that date back to the early 1900's. 

Walking along Emerald Hill Road is like walking into Singapore's past. The homes used to belong to some of the city's wealthiest residents, including many members of the Peranakan community. Homes in the area are still very expensive. One terrace house had a "for rent" sign asking for S$17,000 a month (it was about 4500 sq ft, to give you an idea what you'd be paying for). 
 Old homes on Emerald Hill Road with a huge mall in the background
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 Customized iron gate in front of one of the terrace houses
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Beautiful tiles along the walls
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Some of the terrace houses closer to Orchard Road have been turned into businesses, but for the most part this area is still largely residential. Although the area is literally a few steps away from Orchard Road, the neighborhood is very quiet and peaceful. It's so easy to get lost in the serenity of Emerald Hill.

Tanjong Pagar Railway Station

1/23/11

After exploring the Bukit Timah Railway Station a few months ago, I felt the need to visit the other old railway station in Singapore before it was too late: Tanjong Pagar. This train station was much easier to get to (there's a bus stop right across the street) and I didn't feel like a creep walking around taking photos. Maybe I'm just getting used to that feeling, though.
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The building has a pretty, art deco look to it (it was opened in 1932). I couldn't help but feel a little sad as I walked around the desolate train station. It feels like you've stepped back in time when you walk into the building, especially here in Singapore where newer and shinier seems to be the preferred design aesthetic. 

Currently, trains come to this station from Malaysia, but that will end in July of 2011. Trains will stop in Woodlands now instead of at Tanjong Pagar. According to this article, conservation efforts will take place to keep the historic train station as part of a new development on the property, but it's not clear what that development might be. I hope the building's character isn't lost when it ceases to be a functioning train station. It's a beautiful relic from Singapore's past and it deserves to stay that way.

Thaipusam, continued

1/20/11

I posted some photos about Thaipusam already, but here are some more:
 A devotee in the "dismantling area" of the temple. After they had completed the procession to the temple, they were taken to a tented area where the devotee had people to help him remove the kadavi and spears. 
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Another devotee waiting for his kadavi to be dismantled. This man seemed so relieved and was actually smiling afterwards.
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Some of the removal of the spears actually required tools!
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His expression says so much. 

I arrived around 3 pm near the end of the procession route, but Thaipusam lasts all day and night. I think next year I'm going to get up early and witness the beginning and walk the entire procession.

There is so much to experience at Thaipusam. The bright colors of the kadavis and the clothing of the people in the processions, the smells of incense burning and ashes, the sounds of beating drums and people chanting... all of it so beautiful. Thaipusam left such an indelible impression on my memory. 

Thaipusam

I witnessed Thaipusam today, a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community. Singapore has a huge Tamil population so this holiday is a very important one here. Devotees celebrate the victory of Murugan over Soorapadman on the full moon of the month of Thai. 

Thaipusam devotees carry kadavis, or "burdens," on a 4 kilometer procession during the day of the festival. Kadavis vary, but often involve a cage-like altar worn on the shoulders and the piercing of the skin with long needles. Devotees enter into a trance before they are pierced, and have prepared for the procession days in advance by fasting and praying. Participation in this procession is part of the deal if you pray to Murugan for something and your prayer comes true.

There are also participants who carry kadavis or make the procession to repent or to reaffirm their faith. You can read more about this amazing festival here
A view of the procession on its way to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, where it ends 
Young women carrying pots of milk, which is also considered a kadavi
Men carrying pots of milk that have been hung on hooks pierced through their backs
Another devotee with piercings on his forehead, cheeks and arm
People observing the procession as we neared the temple
A view of the procession from the temple steps; the devotees walked 4 km to get here!
Musicians welcoming them into the temple

I am so humbled by the faith of the people who participated in the Thaipusam procession. I was moved to see them walking into the temple after carrying their heavy kadavis for such a long distance. 

I took a lot more photos, so I'll post the rest of my favorites tomorrow. 

Malay Cemetery in Kampong Glam

1/16/11

Where do you suggest your friends meet you after not having seen them for a few weeks? An old cemetery, of course! Because hanging out at an abandoned railway station wasn't creepy enough for us, apparently.

I met up with notabilia and Singapore Noodle recently at the old Malay Cemetery in Kampong Glam. The tombstones are very old and are arranged almost haphazardly. They date back to the early 1800's and it is believed that this is the oldest Malay cemetery in Singapore. It is located at the intersection of Victoria Street and Jalan Kubor. There on tombstones on either side of Jalan Kubor, which literally means Grave Street in Malay. 

If you decide to traipse around in the cemetery for yourself, do yourself a huge favor and wear long sleeves, pants, and bug spray. We were attacked by mosquitos. In fact, I didn't get a lot of good photographs because I was too busy brushing the mosquitos off my skin. 

Singapore Slingers basketball

1/15/11

Pre-game warmup at Singapore Indoor Stadium
The Slingers had Slinger Girls that danced and did giveaways during stops in the game
Kyle Jeffers, #31, is from Santa Rosa, California

The Singapore Slingers are part of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Basketball League, a very new sports organization with only six teams. Jeff and I are used to supporting our local sports team and wanted to come check out the Slingers. We caught their last home game of the season last weekend against the Brunei Barracudas. It was the first game in the ABL where a team scored over 100 points. The final score was Slingers 102, Barracudas 61.

One of the rules of the ABL is that two players are allowed to be imported from outside of ASEAN countries, another two can be from other ASEAN countries, and another player can have one parent from Southeast Asia. There must be another seven players from that team's own country. The two import players on the Slingers are Kyle Jeffers and Marcus Skinner, both from the United States. Kyle Jeffers is actually from Northern California. 

The Slingers had a full bench of players, but the Barracudas only had two extra players besides the guys on the court during the game. I wonder if they had trouble finding players to fill their roster? It was kind of sad to see how exhausted the Barracudas were because of their short bench.

We were surprised to see such a dismal turnout for the basketball game. The seats at Singapore Indoor Stadium were very empty. I bought our tickets only a few days prior to the game and was able to get the closest possible seats to the floor without sitting in a VIP box. And the tickets were only S$19 (about US$15)! It was actually really entertaining to watch a live basketball game and we are going to try to come back for more games next season. 

Shanghai Museum

1/12/11

The Shanghai Museum has an impressive four-story collection of ancient Chinese art. It's a great place to get a history lesson on the people of China and their artistic abilities. According to the museum guide, the museum boasts one million pieces in its collection, covering 21 categories ranging from bronzes, ceramics, painting, bamboo, artifacts of ethnic minorities, coins, and more. It took us a few hours to walk through the museum; if you're an art and history buff, it will definitely take you longer.
This is called a ding, a bronze vessel used for food. The museum was designed to resemble one.
My favorite part of the museum was the Chinese Minority Nationalities' Gallery, which featured the beautiful traditional clothing of the different minority groups in the country. The intricacies of the clothing are so impressive and the styles are very diverse. 

Okay, that's the last of the Shanghai posts. We also wanted to point out that our current blog header is comprised mostly of photos from this last trip. Jeff wants to try and create new headers every month or so. We'll see how that goes, but in the meantime we just wanted to clarify that no, you do not dress in wool coats and earmuffs in Singapore. I guess you could if you really wanted to, but a sauna would be much more effective.
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