Sunday, November 30, 2008

balestier group at chek jawa

the coastal loop boardwalk

the visitor's centre

the antique light switch

from coastal loop to mangrove boardwalk

the 5 overseas walkers

today, a reduced strength balestier group - five of us - showed up at changi creek to make the overseas trip to pulau ubin. we decided against taking any form of transport on the island and chose to walk from the jetty to chek jawa, the much talked about place on the island.

the last trip i made to pulau ubin, at the beginning of this year, the fare was $2.00. today, we paid $2.50 one way. the fare to penggerang has also been raised from $8.00 to $9.00. the charge for bicycle remained at $2.00 per bicycle.

there seems to be no lack of bicycles for rent on the island. along the way to chek jawa, we came across many groups on rented bikes - mountain bikes, tandem bikes, normal bikes and bikes with balancers. there were groups which opted for the taxi service on the island. no more reject taxis from the mainland; they use vans and jeeps.

a monitor lizard crossed our path but for me, someone who is a frequent visitor to sungei buloh wetland, it did not cause any excitement. the excitement was to come later after we had finished our walk at chek jawa. as we were walking back, two wild boars, the first one larger and heavier and the following one, smaller - i think the smaller one might have been a wild sow - came charging out of the clearing in front of us. we were stunned for a moment and did not move until the two pigs were clearly out of sight.

at chek jawa, there is a coastal loop boardwalk which joins up with the mangrove boardwalk. because it was high tide, we did not see any of the much talked about sea creatures on the sea bed but as we neared the mangrove area, we saw shoals of fish and some mudskippers.

near the end of the boardwalk is the 21 metre jejawi tower which we climbed up. a guide was telling a group that they could see the white-bellied sea eagle from the tower on their lucky days.

our final stop was the visitor's centre which is actually a tudor style brick building built in the 1930s. we explored the house and its surroundings and one of the old fixtures on the wall caught our attention - the old round light switch.

lunch was at changi village food centre.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

one place fewer to golf

this place - the clubhouse of the former seletar country club - reminds me not so much of golf but of my friend's birthday celebrations. for two or three years in a row, he had held his birthday party, on christmas eve, at one of the rooms in this building.

formerly known as the seletar country club, the seletar base golf course was one of the few public golf courses in singapore. conveniently located within the lush green compound of the seletar base air force camp, the golf course was originally developed for british air force personnel in 1930. the british withdrawal in 1971 and later developments in singapore, led it to become a public golf course in 1995.

other facilities at the seletar base golf course include a swimming pool, tennis and squash courts, billiards and karaoke rooms. the clubhouse at the golf course boasts restaurants, members' lounge and a beer garden.

the golf course has to make way for the singapore aerospace park.

the present seletar country club has a 18-hole course and it is located near the lower seletar reservoir. it is not a public course.

christian the lion - the full story (in hq)

from nah

Friday, November 28, 2008

school of logistics (sol)

for 36 years, the school of logistics (sol) was at this place. the school of logistics moved to its new home at kranji camp iii on 18 mar, 2008. this morning, when i visited the old site, the bulldozers and excavators were busy at work. in time to come, the big sign at the gate will be gone.

looks like quite a lot of space and a number of buildings will be cleared to make way for the new industry in this part of singapore.

where is this place?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

what you can bring in from malaysia

was on sbs service 170 going to johor bahru when i saw this handy handout listing the items that you can bring into singapore from malaysia without an ava permit.

looks like when you go kelong fishing in malaysia, like pulau sibu, and bring in up to 5kg of the seafood (that you have caught or bought) for your own personal consumption.

fruit and vegetables can be brought in in reasonably small quantities. i suppose one basket of durians from tangkak is not considered large quantity.

for processed food, the limit is up to 5kg or 5 litres. which means if they sell you cooking oil, you can bring in this item.

for aquarium or ornamental fish, up to 30 fish in 3 litres of water. but it must be non-endangered fish, so no arrowana. i wonder if small pets, like hamster and rabbit, are allowed in.

up to 3 plants without potting per passenger. so, if you have four passsengers in your vehicle, you are entitled to 12 medium sized plants.

i just found out that eggs cannot be brought in although we import most of our eggs from malaysia. meat which includes beef, pork, chicken and mutton is out. does it mean that duck meat is okay to be brought in?

no mention of dvd and vcds. still getting them from johor bahru at rm$5 each. so far, have not had any problem bringing in small quantities for personal 'comsumption'.

he'll have to go

the inimitable jim reeves. no one can sing it better than he.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

the oberoi imperial hotel singapore

when i look at the red match-box, i remember the hotel tucked away in a corner of orchard road, at jalan rumbia. it was a grand hotel with a fine dining restaurant, in later years, called the rang mahal. it was very popular with visitors from india because the owner was an indian. today, the oberoi group still has hotels in indonesia, mauritius, saudi arabia, egypt and india but the one in singapore has long since been demolished. that was in 1998. in its place are now some luxurious private apartments.

in retrospect, collecting match-boxes is in fact collecting a bit of history. the building may not be there anymore but you still have the match-box as evidence of its existence.

i have also in my collection match-boxes of a few other hotels which have either disappeared and some which have undergone a change of name.

some hotels that may have been forgotten include aldelphi hotel, cathay hotel, hotel malaysia, prince's hotel garni and queen's hotel.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

my books of gifts

my friends and family members must know my interests and my needs. from my recent celebration, i received a total of five books.

one is makansutra singapore 2009. my friend wrote: here's a book for you to read and digest. this came from one of my walking kakis who is also a makan kaki because nourishment also comes after the a walk.

victor and helen samuel got me two books and a pair of bird-watching binoculars. the first book is '1001 garden plants in singapore' which has already helped me identify two plants . the other book is 'birds of singapore' by christopher hails and frank jarvis. they must have seen how my acquaintance with flora and fauna seems to have widened after my retirement.

if the word 'grace' crops into my vocabulary lately, it is because i have been reading the book 'what's so amazing about grace' written by philip yancy. my elder daughter and his friend have not given up on me.

the last book is 'change your questions change your life' by marilee adams. i have been trying to figure out who could have presented this book to me. it came with two polo tee shirts. i must read the book to find out the intended message.

Monday, November 24, 2008

carpenter bee

i came across this carpenter bee resting on a signpost at the newly-opened admiralty park in woodlands. the bee was so still that for a moment i thought it was plastic. however, immediately after i took this photograph, it buzzed away.

carpenter bees look like typical bumblebees but often lack yellow stripes. they are solitary bees.

unlike bumble bees, carpenter bees are solitary insects. female carpenter bees will chew a tunnel into a piece of wood to build a nest gallery. the bits of wood she chews and deposits outside the nest are called frass. the male carpenter bee guards the outside of the nest. he does not have a stinger, but his constant buzzing causes concern for some.

carpenter bees bore through soft woods to lay eggs and protect their larvae as they develop.

carpenter bees do not pose a public health threat, but they can damage wood through their nest building.

carpenter bees prefer bare wood, so painting and staining wood can sometimes deter them. however, they will sometimes attack stained or painted wood.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

what happened to the once popular bridal veil?

at one time, this hanging vine was a common sight all over singapore, especially in schools and outside some government buildings. it seemed like there was a decree from someone very high up there to grow this plant as it would enhance our image as a garden city.

but this scheme died a natural death when fences could not bear the weight of the fast-growing vine. they grew so fast and so thickly that the fence gave way under their weight.

now, we hardly see this vine on the fence or wall of any building; we can still see it in the wild. i found this growing in the secondary forest of the sungei buloh wetland reserve.

see how quickly you can fall from grace, even if you are the chosen one, if you carry too much weight around.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

ponggol hotel?

i was going through my match-box collection when i came across this match-box from ponggol hotel. it puzzles me. i can somewhat recall seeing a hotel in pasir ris long ago but a hotel in ponggol, i cannot remember.

according to the information on the match-box, the hotel was located at the end of track 24, off ponggol road. i cannot find it in my 1969 street directory. which means the hotel could have existed earlier, in the 50s, perhaps?

i remember between tracks 24 and 26, there was a small village and there was a community centre at track 24. up to the 80s, when secondary 3 students attended the 5-day obs course, the pre-course briefing was done at this community centre.

there was a boatel at track 26 but i still cannot picture where the hotel could have been. according to the illustration on the match-box, it appears to be located near the coast.

Friday, November 21, 2008

physalis minima (family name: solansceae)

i came across this shrub with a lantern shaped fruit casing growing in the wild by the side of the road that leads to the yet-to-be-opened dairy farm nature reserve. i have been wondering what its name is.

normally, i would use google images to help me find a similar picture by using key words like 'plant' + 'lantern fruit'. this time around, i have got an additional aid - '1001 garden plants in singapore', a nparks publication.

viola! i found it on page 368 of the thick book. with the correct name, i am able to obtain more information about this plant on the internet.

physalis(cape gooseberries, chinese lanterns) are annuals or short-lived perennials, more or less hairy. the flowers are bell-shaped, but the most distinctive feature is the fruiting calyx which enlarges to cover the fruit and hangs downwards like a lantern. one species, p. minima(wild gooseberry), is widespread across tropical america, asia and africa, and occurs in all australian states. it is a smooth, branching herb with ovate leaves, small pale yellow flowers and a 3cm long lantern enclosing the yellow fruit.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

significance of banana trees at gate of hindu temple

on a few occasions, i have seen cut banana trees, laden with fruit, adorning the entrance of this hindu temple and also at other hindu temples. according to my friend, this usually means that a wedding is being held at the temple or some important hindu festival is being celebrated.

being an emblem of plenty and fertility, the banana tree is frequently used in indian festivals. during the marriage ceremonies of the hindus, the stems that are laden with their bracnhes of fruit are placed at the gate of the temple.

every part of the banana tree is of use. they also use the leaves, together with brilliantly coloured materials to decorate the temporary tents on such occasions. if you are attending a wedding at a temple, you are likely to serve the food on a banana leaf instead of western cutlery.

all parts of the plant are useful in one way or the other. the fruit may be eaten raw or as a cooked vegetable. the fruit taken regularly prevents night blindness and purifies the blood. other parts of the banana plant are consumed besides the fruit. the heart of the growing stem is eaten. the flower is also eaten as a boiled vegetable.

the leaves and the stem are also used as cattle feed in some parts of india. the fibre obtained from the plant is used for making ropes, mats, coarse paper and paper pulp.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

surprise! surprise! surprise!

the birthday cake -from secret recipe - was supposed to be part of the surprise

the traditional chinese birthday buns

with my siblings - four of my sisters with their children and grandchild

my family with ian, his grandma and brother and my brother's family

my balestier colleagues kwan, tye thong, sng thai soon and gee peng with my 4th sister's family and my youngest sister lynn.

lay bee's small group members( sabrina, james, choi chin and stella) , nah, victor, helen, mdm ow and mr and mrs soon boon eng.

my former students from balestier hill technical school and now my monthly walking kakis

it was supposed to be a night of surprises.

the first surprise actually came earlier in the day. when i went to the airport to meet ida, my younger girl, who was returning from melbourne immediately after she had sat for the last paper so that she could be in time to celebrate my birthday, i was pleasantly surprised to see ivy, my elder girl and her boyfriend ian at the arrival lounge. they were not supposed to be in singapore till january 2009. which meant they had spent $1200 each (on airfare) so that they could be here for a few days to join in the bash.

the second surprise was presence of ian's grandmother and brother at the dinner. they flew here from kuching and stayed at the royal park on scott.

the next surprise was seeing my siblings and their children at the birthday dinner. my siblings took up nearly three tables.

then more surprises awaited me. my friends and former colleagues were also there. so were the members of lay bee's farrer park small group. laybee's former principal ms ow was also at the dinner.

to round up the surprises was seeing my former students from balestier and now my monthly walking kakis occupying one table.

however, there were a number of tell-tale signs which dull these surprises. first, the business card of the restaurant was left lying around after a call was made to it. then i stumbled upon a guest list which puzzled me - it included the names of ivy, ian, his grandmother and brother. prior to my birthday, i received messages from more than the usual number of well-wishers.

surprise or no surprise, it was a wonderful gathering of old friends, colleagues, students and kins.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

stevie star regurgitation.. billiard ball, and goldfish!

wonder how he does it?

sri dewa barber shops

(these two pictures came from a match-box)

when i was younger and not so particular about style and look, i used to go to a chinese barber located along thomson road. initially, my mother would take me to the shop for my hair-cut. the barber never asked for your preference; there was only one style - his style. for adults, they received extra attention/services like shaving with a razor, which he would first 'sharpen' or 'smoothen' on a piece of leather. before he started shaving, he would apply lather freely with a brush.

the other service available to adults was the cleaning or clearing of ear-wax. this was carried out after the hair-cut proper. the barber would have a bright bulb placed very close to the ear that he was working on. i cannot recall the implements that he used to extract the stuff trapped in the ear canals. i think he might have used a metal ear-digger with a scoop at the end to remove the wax.

when i was older and able to make my own choice, i changed barber and went to a malay barber shop located a few shops away from the chinese barber. at the malay barber - sri dewa - it was a slightly different treatment. the barber would ask you, referring to some pictures on the wall of the shop, which style you would want you hair to be cut.

sri dewa grew to become very popular, attracting customers from outside its normal threshold area. after that, branches sprouted in other parts of singapore. when it was too crowded, i would visit the indian barber in a shop located across the road, on the same side as the novena. the indian barber provided a neck twist and a simple massage at the end of the hair-cut.

when the rows of shops were demolished, the sri dewa at thomson road shifted to balestier complex at the junction of balestier and thomson roads. i visited it a few times even though by then i was living at serangoon road.

when i moved to bukit panjang and visited a malay barber, i found out that he picked up his hair-cutting skill at the thomson road's sri dewa.

Monday, November 17, 2008

match boxes from coffee houses

the blog on lesson from a match-box in makes me take a look at my own collection of match-boxes. i have decided to feature some of the 'kopi how' mentioned in chun see's blog. the pictures of these coffee houses may help him recall the names of some of the those that he used to visit during his courting days.

it was a friend who started me on this collection of match-boxes. do not assume that i had visited or patronised all those places of which i have their match-boxes. to enlarge our own collection, we often asked our friends or colleagues for assistance. we let them know that we were into this 'hobby' and asked them to get and pass to us match-boxes of places they have visited.

my collection of match-boxes were not just from local establishments, quite a number were from hotels which we or my friends and relatives have stayed in.

you do not have to be a smoker to collect match-boxes. both my friend - the one who started me on this hobby - and i are non-smokers.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

another bridge linking the mainland to an island

the last time i saw a new bridge linking the mainland to an island was in 2007. that was when i saw the cable stayed bridge linking the mainland to pulau keppel, formerly known as pulau hantu. today, while exploring the area around the lower seletar reservoir, i saw a new bridge in the distance.

it turned out to be a road bridge that will link the mainland to pulau punggol. at the moment, there is also a temporary causeway that links the mainland to pulau punggol barat. construction work is also going on to have a causeway to link pulau punggol barat to pulau punggol timor.

on the left side of the bridge is a place called the jenal jetty. did not see anyone around but saw a number of cockerels in the backyard. further back, there are at least three walkways built over the water that led to some flimsy wooden sheds.

to the right of the bridge, you can see the planes on the seletar airfield.

eventually the road across the bridge to punggol island will be linked to the seletar expressway (sle) and the tampines expressway (tpe).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

foreigners appreciate our amenities and facilities

the impression i get lately when i move around singapore is that foreigners, especially the foreign workers, seem to appreciate the amenities and facilities that we have more than the local people. when i go to the parks and the beaches, i meet quite a number of anglers or walkers, who sounded like mainland chinese, taking advantage of the things we have to offer.

at lower seletar reservoir fishing jetty, i could discern two groups of anglers. one group comprising the younger set appears to be locals but the other group of older folks included some foreign workers.

the foreigners are quick to source out the bargain places as well as those places which the local take for granted. at sheng siong and ntuc supermarkets, you are more likely to bump into foreigners than at cold storage or isetan (not counting the japanese expatriates).

lower seletar reservoir has a jetty specially built for fishing enthusiasts. it is also a nice spot to watch the mrt trains on the elevated tracks. this is one place where you can see trains approaching from opposite directions and seeming to meet at a certain point.

it is not as popular a venue for water sports as macritchie and bedok reservoirs. only two or three institutions make use of the facilities here for their sea sports training. one of them is the republic which uses the grounds here for their dragon-boat training.

the last time i visited this place, certain parts were chokeful of hydrilla. looks like the national park people have done a good job; there is no trace of any of those plants in the water. the npb (national park board) is also continually upgrading their parks and improvement at the lower seletar reservoir will come in the form of a family bay area soon.