Saturday, February 28, 2009

macritchie reservoir or lower peirce reservoir?

lower peirce reservoir (a)

macritchie reservoir (b)

macritchie reservoir is singapore's oldest reservoir. the reservoir was completed in 1868 by impounding water from an earth embankment, and was then known as the impounding reservoir or thomson reservoir.

in 1891, the holding capacity of the impounding reservoir or thomson reservoir, after its designer john turnbull thomson, was expanded. municipal engineer james macritchie oversaw this expansion and the reservoir was named after him in 1922.

lower peirce reservoir was originally known as the kallang river reservoir. it is singapore's second reservoir and it was impounded across the lower reaches of the kallang river in 1910. in 1922, it was renamed peirce reservoir in commendation of the services of robert peirce, who was the municipal engineer of singapore from 1901 to 1916.

in 1975, a major water supply project to develop new water resources was undertaken to support singapore's rapid housing and industrialisation programmes. a dam was constructed at the upper reaches of the peirce reservoir, forming the upper and lower peirce reservoirs.

now, which is which? which picture shows the macritchie reservoir, (a) or (b)?

there are more similarities between macritchie and lower peirce reservoirs than between lower peirce and upper peirce reservoirs although they share the name.

some features which are common to both macritchie and lower peirce are: the lamp and the bench. the benches are painted white at lower peirce but green at macritchie.

but, there are so features that are unique to each reservoir. for example, these are found at the lower peirce but not at the macritchie reservoir.

and this is found exclusively at macritchie reservoir.

Friday, February 27, 2009

6-day treatment for gallstone removal
- by dr lai chui nan

i received this in the email from a friend who sends me stuff regularly. the stuff includes pictures of beautiful sceneries, adult jokes and lately, photos, purported to be that of a malaysian female politician. i have told him that those are fakes; they are pictures of a different woman but he still sent them to me, a second time.

nevertheless, this latest material that he sent me on treating gallstones, i thought it is worth sharing with more people. i do not see any harm in trying out this regimen.

it has worked for many. if it works for you, please pass on the good news. chiu nan is not charging for it, so we should make it free for everyone. your reward is when someone, through your word of mouth, benefits from the regimen.

gallstones may not be everyone's concern. but they should be because we all have them.
moreover, gallstones may lead to cancer. "cancer is never the first illness," chiu nan points out.
"usually, there are a lot of other problems leading to cancer.

in my research in china, i came across some materials which say that people with cancer usually
have stones. we all have gallstones. it's a matter of big or small, many or few.

one of the symptoms of gallstones is a feeling of bloatedness after a heavy meal. you feel like you
can't digest the food. if it gets more serious, you feel pain in the liver area." so if you think you
have gallstones, chiu nan offers the following method to remove them naturally.

the treatment is also good for those with a weak liver, because the liver and gallbladder are closely linked.


1. for the first five days, take four glasses of apple juice every day. or eat four or five apples, whichever you prefer. apple juice softens the gallstones. during the five days, eat normally.

2. on the sixth day, take no dinner.

3. at 6 p.m., take a teaspoon of epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) with a glass of warm water.

4. at 8 p.m., repeat the same. magnesium sulphate opens the gallbladder ducts.

5. at 10 p.m., take half cup olive oil (or sesame oil) with half cup fresh lemon juice. mix it well and drink it.

the oil lubricates the stones to ease their passage.

the next morning, you will find green stones in your stools. "usually they float," chiu nan
notes. "you might want to count them. i have had people who passed 40, 50 or up to 100
stones. very many."

"even if you don't have any symptoms of gallstones, you still might have some. it's always
good to give your gall bladder a clean-up now and then.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

passiflora foetida - wild passion flower

the picture at the bottom is that of a passionfruit flower

i was with my thursday's walking kaki across the new bridge linking the mainland to pulau punggol barat, when he saw this plant and he called out: passionfruit. i wanted to correct him, but on closer examination of the flower, i realised that there were some similarities with the flower of the passionfruit that i have seen grown on farms in lim chu kang.

this plant is not new to me. in fact, as a boy i had tasted the ripe orange fruit of this plant. i had watched the birds eating them, so i surmised that it had to be edible. during my spider-catching days, i used to come across this plant creeping on or near the floor of the undergrowth. the fruit is first green, then turned yellowish-orange when it is ripe.

if you look at the two flowers above, it is actually quite difficult to tell them apart. the first flower belongs to the stinking passion flower and the second is that of the passionfruit plant. both are vines. in the wild, the passion flower grows on the ground or close to it. the cultivated passionfruit plants usually have a trellis to provide the necessary support.

here is more information on this plant:

the foetid passion flower or stinking passion flower (passiflora foetida), also known as the wild maracuja or running pop, is a creeping vine which has an edible fruit and leaves that have a mildly rank aroma. it is native to northern south america and the west indies; it can also be found in south east asian countries like vietnam and on hawaii.

the stems are thin, wiry and woody, covered with sticky yellow hairs. the leaves are three- to five-lobed and viscid-hairy. they give off an unpleasant odour when crushed. the flowers are white to pale cream coloured, about 5-6 cm diameter. the fruit is globose, 2-3 cm diameter, yellowish-orange to red when ripe, and has numerous black seeds embedded in the pulp; the fruit is eaten and the seeds dispersed by birds.

the bracts of this plant serve as insect traps, but it is as yet unknown whether the plant digests and gains nourishment from the trapped insects or if it merely uses the bracts as a defensive mechanism to protect its flowers and fruit.

this passion flower tolerates arid ground, but favours wet areas. it is known to be an invasive species in some areas.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

does it pay to be first in the queue?

blame it on the kiasu mentality. the typical singaporean wants to/must be first in any queue. and you see queues everywhere - at the bus-stop, at the food-court, at the theatre, outside the (ladies) toilet, outside s'pore pools outlets (toto and 4d) and many other places.

they are queues for the latest harry potter book, the perceived delicious donuts, nasi lemak, char kway teow, nasi bryani and minced meat mee. whatever they think will appreciate in value in later years is sure to attract long lines of people. you find snaking line of ordinary people waiting to book prime district condominiums. the latest i have just heard is that there was an overnight queue for free rides on the s'pore flyer.

some are not very well informed when they try to be at the head of a queue. for example, the queue for places for children who are going to be in primary one. for very popular schools where balloting of places is bound to take place, whether you have queue number 1 or queue number 401, you chances of getting into the school depends on your luck, not your position in the queue.

it is not as though i don't queue. after all, i am a true blue singaporean. when i go and eat my favourite wanton mee at lavendar food court, i do not mind waiting for more than half an hour in the queue.

but this one takes the cake. it is an incident related to a queue of sort. i encountered this car on the bukit timah expressway the other day. he overtook me and every other car and vehicle. he was overtaking quite recklessly, moving on the left and going onto the shoulder of the expressway while doing so. he seemed bent on beating everyone so that he could be at the head of the 'queue'.

i was wondering: where is this crazy driver hurrying to. then i saw the gantry. he was trying to beat everyone to get past the gantry. he almost succeeded. he did emerge the first to reach the gantry. however, when he reached the point, the lights came on, signalling the start of the operation. he was first.... in the queue to pay the electronic road pricing (erp) charge for the day.

i don't think the rash driver was happy about being first in that queue!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

tree climbing crabs of sungei buloh

if you go on the mangrove boardwalk at sungei buloh - just behind the visitors' centre - when the tide is high, chances are that, along the way, you will see these tree climbing crabs. today, when the tide was unusually high at about 10.15 a.m., i saw quite a number of them clinging onto the trunks of a few trees in the mangrove swamp.

they appear to have quite good eyesight because when i moved closer to them, they would quickly disappear to another side of the trunk, away from my view. they seemed to be enjoying playing hide-and-seek with me. when i moved right, they would moved left and vice versa.

these crabs, i think, are the 'buak kee' which my friend nah referred to in one of his comments. the crabs, marinated in black sauce and vinegar, were eaten with porridge by chinese people of the teochew dialect group.

according to him, the crabs were hairy but these tree climbers did not look hairy. maybe, i was not close enough to see the details. they also looked bigger than the 'buah kee' that i remembered from my kampong days.

another type of crab that climb tree is the coconut palm crab found on christmas island. i have only seen pictures of this crab.

however, christmas island is well-known for another type of crab - the red crab. these crabs crawl from the forests to the coast every year, usually in the month of october. a friend, who used to work on christmas island, often talks about the phenomenon of the migration of the red crab; about how the whole place was carpeted by these red crabs. you can read about it in this blog.

you can read more about the sungei buloh crab here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

ever tried parking this way?

not enough space to park? why don't you try this position? the only problem is that you need a lot of help to get on top, and also to get off. and any sudden or vigorous movement may result in it slipping off.

friend (you know whom i am referring to), this has nothing to do with woman drivers.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

deciduous tree in the tropics

we learnt in our geography lessons in school that trees which shed their leaves are called deciduous trees. we also learnt that such trees are found in temperate countries and they start shedding their leaves in autumn, so by winter they will be bare.

deciduous trees shed their leaves for a part of every year. unlike evergreens, deciduous trees lose their leaves during the cold or dry season, depending on the climate, and remain bare until they grow new leaves each spring.

in tropical countries, during prolonged dry periods the foliage of some trees is dropped to conserve water and prevent death from drought. leaf drop is not seasonally dependent as it is in temperate climates, and can occur any time of year and varies by region of the world. even within a small local area there can be variations in the timing and duration of leaf drop.

i know of one type of tree in singapore that does this. it is the sea almond or the ketapang tree. the broad leaves of this tree start turning pinkish-red or yellow-brown before they fall to the ground. some leaves on certain trees are riddled with small holes.

this time of the year - the dry period in february - i notice that quite a number of ketapang trees are becoming 'botak' (malay word for bald). the other day, when i was at the coast near the bottletree village, i came across this tree (pictured above) that was almost completely stripped of leaves.

i have a feeling that sweepers and park attendants do not have a liking for the ketapang tree. however, these leaves, which are so plentiful here, seem to have some use for aquarium fish owners. in fact, someone advertised to sell them here.

i have found out that there is at least another type of deciduous tree in singapore. it is the broad leaf mahogany tree.

the ketapang tree with young leaves

Saturday, February 21, 2009

farming was once taught in this school

(picture from national archives of singapore)

many among us were unaware that the ministry of education experimented with the implementation of agricultural subjects in the school syllabus in the 60s. this was introduced to about 5 rural schools in 1967. one of the 5 schools was kaki bukit primary school. it was a short-lived programme because by the end of 1968, it was aborted. the twenty or so teachers who were trained to teach these subjects had to be re-deployed.

my friend who provided this information was teaching the monolingual 7 and 8 pupils in kaki bukit vocational centre. the vocational centre was located within the kaki bukit primary school premises and administered by the same principal. he was then teaching metalwork to the same group of pupils.

although he lived in chinatown and had a take a running cab to still road, from where he caught a tay koh yat bus to the school, he did not mind the distance. according to him, it was like he was teaching in a holiday resort. the environment was rustic, the class size was small and he had a lot of free time (to drink coffee at 10 cents a cup).

animal husbandry was one of the subjects that the students studied. because of religious sensitivity, pig rearing was out. so the school kept two goats, some chickens and ducks. cows were too costly to buy and maintain. according to my friend, there were cattle in the vicinity, reared by the kampong folks.

because of the abundance of chicken and duck eggs, the school also taught the students two processes of preserving the eggs - salted egg and century egg. the duck eggs were soaked in brine to changed them into salted eggs. to make century eggs, they wrapped the chicken and duck eggs in rice straws and other materials.

another subject was arable farming where the students grew cucumber, bitter gourds, long beans and corns among others on plots found within the school. most of the plants grown were those with tendrils.

the third subject that was taught under agriculture was aquarium fish rearing. the fish tanks were privileged enough to be located in an air-conditioned room, a rarity in the past. those days, even the general office and the principal's room were without airconditioning. the situation is different today: all the special rooms, the office, the staff room and the principal's office are kept cool by air-conditioning.

i think the removal of this programme coincided with the government's decision at that time to phase out farming in singapore.

Friday, February 20, 2009

re-uniting over the years




i think this is our 12th annual gathering. we have been doing this even before we moved to bukit panjang. we had started inviting my indian friends over for chinese new year dinner when we lived at towner road.

the composition of the group has remained more or less unchanged. the original members were victor and helen samuel, mr and mrs balendra, mr and mrs nara and ramachandran. sethi joined us about three years later, when we shifted to bukit panjang.

practically every year, for the past eleven years, by some coincidence, we would meet on the day of the chingay procession. after the makan, we would adjourn to watch the show on tv. this year, we decided on a change of day but it still fell within the 15-day celebration of the chinese new year.

the food, has over the years, evolved to become the healthier kind. these days, we have more vegetable than meat dishes. what has not changed is the 'lo hei' at the start of the dinner.

this year, even the yu sheng was different. for the past decade, we would buy our yu sheng from someone who prepared it at home. this year, we bought the commercially packed type, shredded our own carrot, radish and cucumber and added in smoked salmon bought from the supermarket.

mr and mrs nara could not join us because of some preparation for thaipusam.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

same type of food minus agonising wait

twice i tried eating at uno beef in lorong 5 toa payoh and both times i gave up. the first time when i tried to eat there, i was advised that it would be more than an hour wait before i could get my order. the second time i did not even get a chance to place an order because i could not find a parking space within the car-park. such was the popularity and demand at lorong 5 toa payoh.

when i found out that they have a branch at dover road and that there is no long wait, i decided to seek it out. it is located on the ground level of a car-park, block 19a. i was there at about 12 plus on a saturday and sure enough, there was no queue at this small food court outlet.

i opted for their signature dish - the ribeye steak. i have read reviews that the beef was even better than botak jones' and that it was priced just as competitively. at botak jones, you can choose the more expensive cuts but over here there is only one type of beef. so, you cannot compare the $11 with the $28 of botak jones.

i enjoyed the steak, just as good as botak jones and aston's. the gravy was nice and the baked potato was different from the usual style of cooked potatoes - mashed potato and potato chips. the garlic bread was a bit dry and hard though.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

a docile snake at dairy farm quarry

normally, my encounter with any snake is one of the 'hello-goodbye' kind; you go your way, i go mine and we shall not stay to antagonize. i am actually scared, no, terrified, of snakes and when i see one, i will try to make myself scarce. that is because i am awfully scared of this slimy reptile. however, i also found out from previous encounters that snakes do not choose to confront the human kind; when they see a human, they normally slither away.

today i met one which actually appeared to be the friendly and docile kind. i came upon it in an open field. at first, i kept my distance because i was afraid that it could be the striking kind; the one that spits venom into your eyes. as i do not wear glasses these days, i have no protection if it should propel its venom at my eyes.

it took a while for us to size each other up. it must have decided that i was not the hostile kind because it carried on minding its own business and moving slowly from side to side. if it had moved towards me, i would have taken to my heels and left it far behind.

although the snake was about one and a half metres long, it did not appear to be threatening at any time. in fact, after i had overcome my initial fear and moved closer to it, it seemed quite nonchalant and was not bothered by my presence.

i even felt protective towards the snake and stayed with it for nearly 45 minutes before it finally decided to make its way into the undergrowth.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

autumn in singapore?

autumn has come to singapore? no, this is the aftermath of a vegetation fire. nowadays, they use a bigger/longer word for bush fire. during our kampong days, when our settlement was surrounded by shrubs, lallangs and grassland, bush fires were common occurences during the dry months.

most times, we were not bothered by it and just let it blazed away. only when it threatened to encroach on areas near to where houses were found, did the people summon the fire brigade. usually before the firemen arrived on the scene, the kampong people would have got into the act.

we would break branches from small trees and used them to beat the fire, to smother the flame and thus prevented the fire from spreading. the firemen were quite happy to have us working side by side wth them.

those days, the firemen were equipped with a canvas flap with a long handle which they used to whip (out) the fire. some of them carried portable water-containers, like those used by the mosquito disinfectant men, to spray water on the fire.

last month, the singapore civil defence force (scdf) recorded 182 bush fires - the highest figure for the month of january in the past decade.

february could well set another record as firemen have already put out 106 bush fires as of friday.

this brings the total so far this year to 288, or two-thirds the 426 cases over the whole of last year.

preventing vegetation fires

do not throw lighted cigarette butts or matches onto grass patches/fields and rubbish dumps.

do not dispose rubbish or unwanted items at grass areas or vacant lands. rubbish dumps provide additional sources of fuel to sustain fires.

home owners with grass compounds should keep grass trimmed and watered. dead leaves should be properly disposed of.

incense papers should be burnt in incense burners. these burners should be placed on flat open ground at a safe distance from combustible materials.

after the prayer session, one should check around for smouldering incense in the vicinity and ensure that it is completely extinguished with water.

Monday, February 16, 2009

it is okay to do it on a sunday?

i know it is okay to drive in bus lanes, even the whole day type, on a sunday. full day bus-lanes are in operation on weekdays and saturdays but not on sundays and public holidays. the normal bus-lanes are in operation on weekdays only.

one continuous yellow line along the side of the road means no parking between 7 am and 7 pm on the side of the road where the line is drawn, except on sundays and public holidays. so, you can park your vehicle where there is a single yellow line on a sunday.

where this orange sign is displayed at a hdb car-park, either covered or open, it means you can park for free on sundays between 7.30 a.m. and 10.30 p.m.

the electronic road pricing (erp) system also does not operate on sundays. so, on a sunday, it is free driving on all the roads in singapore. (more information on electronic road pricing available here.)

if you own a opp-peak (red number plate) car, you have unrestricted use of it on sundays. on saturdays, opp-peak cars usually come out after 3.00 p.m. on weekdays, they are not to be on the road between 7.00 a.m. and 7.00 p.m. unless they display a $20 day licence. (more info on off-peak car can be found here.)

but, these days, i seem to be getting the impression that it is also okay to park on zebra crossings on a sunday.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

where is this old building?

this building and an adjacent, larger one have been vacant for quite a number of years.

1 where is it?

2 who used to occupy the buildings?