Friday, July 31, 2009

9 august is our 44th national day

time to display the national flag

dutifully displayed at whampoa south

enormously displayed at bendemeer road

singly displayed at west coast road

how did they get the line of flags between two blocks?

this year's ndp theme is: come together - reaching up, reaching out.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

bus lane infringements

car in bus lane in s'pore (around 5.30 p.m. on a friday)

bus in bus lane in melbourne

many singaporeans like to think that we are a much more disciplined lot than the australians. but my one-month of observations in melbourne seem to suggest the contrary. granted, their roads are not as congested as ours although some can get quite as bad during the morning and evening peak hours. but, in singapore, even when the traffic is not that heavy, i see a number of 'couldn't care less' motorists driving into the bus lane.

could it be due to the fact that their bus lanes are more conspicious - the bus lanes in australia are red, covered with materials like those used for the tartan track at the stadium. over here, our bus lanes are demarcated by thick yellow lines or red lines for the whole-day type.

some drivers in s'pore stray into the lane unknowingly but the majority who do, do so with a sense of impunity because the man with the camera is not around to catch them. if the land transport authorty (lta) pays me $1 for each vehicle (photogaphed) that commits this infringement, i will be able to collect quite a substantial sum each day. in melbourne, i would have difficulty earning $5 a day.

another interesting way of letting the public buses move ahead (in melborne) is the presence of bus queue-jump lanes. i suppose they also have this feature in the other large australian cities, especially sydney. it is just a small space at a signalised intersection ,on the extreme left, dedicated to buses or rather to one bus. before the light changes from red to green, an extra light with the white letter 'b' will appear, a signal for the bus to jump the queue. we, too, have a modification of this feature in s'pore but they do not seem to be working as well as it is in australia.

another warp thinking of some singaporeans is this: they think it is perfectly justifiable to pick someone from a bus-bay, which happens to be located within a bus lane, during the bus-lane operating hours. i see this happening every weekday at the bus-stop near my place.

just yesterday, i saw this small van beat the red light, while making a right turn, and after that, he drove straight into the bus lane. however, his act was noticed by one of these traffic wardens. i watched the going-on between the two; eventually, the 'kind' traffic warden left him off with a verbal warning. imagine blatantly disregarding two traffic rules and getting away with it!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

is this the ntuc outlet in the video?

Wah, this must be the other extreme - hundreds of photos but only one quiz question?

acting on the complaint from my friend, this morning, i decided to change my routine. instead of walking at rural kranji or sembawang, i took the bus to a built-up area so that i could take the above photograph and add one more question to the one posed earlier here.

you may have seen this ntuc fairprice outlet. it looks similar to the one featured in the video clip 'things so singaporean'. however, there are some differences. can you spot them?

question: where is this ntuc fairprice outlet?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

baharuddin vocational institute

I think I‘d better leave it to our retired teacher, YG to blog about this bit of history and not confuse readers with my speculations.

i take this as my assignment from my blogger friend chun see. he wondered where baharuddin vocational institute was in this blog entry. however, i have managed to put together a sketchy account of the history of this place. maybe, someone else can help?

i remember baharuddin vocational institute because some of my former colleagues, who were technical teachers, attended some up-grading courses at bvi. but i do not know enough of it to write about its history.

fortunately, there is the internet.

baharuddin vocational institute actually started in borrowed premises before moving into its own building in 1970. it was to be called queenstown vocational institute but was eventually renamed baharuddin vocational institute in 1968.

it was the first and only vocational institute to offer manual and applied arts courses. when it operated from kim keat vocational institute (kkvi), it was offering courses like graphic design and dressmaking. in 1979, when it had its own buildings at stirling road, it offered 5 design courses at indstrial trade certificate (itc) level.

iskandar jalil, the reowned sculptor, taught at bvi and later at temasek polytechnic's school of design.

some of bvi's more well-known alumnis include zoe tay, who studied design and seetoh k f (of makansutra) was once a student of photography at bvi. there are also some graduates of the institute who have become very successful in the fashion and design industry but i am not well acquainted with their names.

could the name baharuddin vocational institute (bvi) have been adopted from the baharuddin vocational secondary school which was located at nearby commonwealth close?

in fact, in the 60s, there were at least 12 vocational schools (secondary) and one vocational institute. how many of them can you name? here is the list:

baharuddin vocational school, bukit ho swee vocational school, dunearn secondary vocational school, geylang serai vocational school, hwi yoh vocational school, kim keat vocational school, mattar west secondary vocational school, mountbatten secondary vocational school, ponggol vocational school, tanglin secondary vocational school, thomson secondary vocational school, toh tuck vocational school and the vocational institute was the singapore vocational institute.

in the days before streaming, those who did not make the grade in the psle (primary school leaving examination) were posted to vocational school where the boys learned woodwork and metalwork while the girls picked up skills in home economics and type-writing.

technical schools like balestier hill technical, dunearn hill secondary technical, kim seng technical, queenstown secondary technical, serangoon garden secondary technical, tanglin secondary technical, tanjong katong secondary techncial and upper serangoon technical admitted those who passed the psle.

thee were also some primary schools which were vocational schools. these were bedok boys vocational, bukit batok east vocational, kaki bukit primary vocational and telok paku vocational school.

Monday, July 27, 2009

things sosingporean

quiz: where's the church between two temples?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

a wild boar not bothered about humans

visiting rustic pulau ubin on a weekday is a feel-good experience. you don't have to put up with the crowds at the jetty, while waiting for the 10-minute bumboat ride at $2.50 a trip; at the bicycle rental shop, you have time to choose a bike that suits your needs; at the visitor centre, the npark people can attend to your queries in a chit-chat manner; and at chek jawa, you can explore the place at leisure. you do not have to worry whether the tower will be able to take the weight of so many height seekers.

the bonus is that you may get to see things that will have normally been scared away by the throngs of visitors and the noise that they create on a weekend. today, we saw two wild boars, three oriental pied hornbills and an owl.

this is also the first time i managed to get close enough to take a picture of this shy creature. i would not say that this wild boar that we came across near chek jawa was friendly but it was definitely not bothered by the humans around it. earlier on , we had seen another one dashing across the track, just ahead of us. the first time i had seen wild boars was in desaru, after a golf game. on our own mainland, i have seen them at lim chu kang.

can you spot the hornbill?

the hornbills were on some trees near the resort - which used to be known as marina resort but it now has a different name - and subsequently, they flew to the roof of one of the buildings. the owl caught us by surprise, so i did not manage to capture it on digital image. one of the hornhills appeared to be performing some dance/ritual on the roof-top.

i had wanted to explore the western part of the island after reading about the ketam mountain bike park in this blog. however, my friend, who have been to ubin several times but had not done the mangrove boardwalk at chek jawa was quite insistent on visiting that part of the island. i would have missed photographing the wild boar if we had stuck to my original plan. anyway, there is always time for another visit to the island.

at the mangrove reserve, there are quite a number of nipah palms. it is always the 'attap chee' that i would see but this time around, i saw some flowers on the palms. as it was high tide during our visit, we did not get to see all those creatures that are shown on colourful brochures of chek jawa. however, we did see two white bellied eagles, with one of them successfully snatching a fish while skimming over the surface of the water in the sea.

from the visitor centre, i walked to the jetty where i saw this formation of rocks - which together form what is called pulau sekudu. it reminded me of my younger days when, on some weekends, we would paddle the sampans from pasir ris to pulau ubin. on the way, we would make a rest-stop at this rock island to look for shells. i remember we referred to it as 'frog island'.

i do not know if it is my imagination. somehow, the disused quarries, of which there are five, at pulau ubin, especially the surface of the water, appear so much placid, cleaner and nicer than those on the mainland.

Friday, July 24, 2009

not many have seen baya weaver's nests
in the wild

i think not many singaporeans have seen baya weaver's nests in the wild but actually these beautifully weaved oval or conical-shaped nests suspended from trees are quite a common sight in waste lands and secondary forests in singapore. you can sometimes see as many as 10 nests on a single tree - as is the case in the above photograph.

if you are lucky, you can even see the tiny birds that weave these nests. the male baya weaver looks like a sparrow but has yellow feathers on its back. you can read more about this bird here. when the nests are abandoned, other birds or creatures may use them. (there was actually a baya weaver in the above photograph but it was hidden by the foliage.)

the nests are usually constructed by the male baya to attract the females. one male may build two or three partially completed nests; after succeeding in getting one to lay (eggs), he goes in search of other females to woo and get them to lay eggs in his other nests. this bird is polygamous.

because of the uniqueness of the nest, there seems to be a demand for it. some people believe that these elaborately woven pendulous nests are good luck objects. so, they get them and hang them in their garden or in the compound of their house.

at this farm in lim chu kang, the farm workers have collected quite a number of nests from the nearby waste land and they are selling them at $12 each. i have also seen this type of nests at ivy singh's bollywood farm.

i shall not divulge the whereabout of these nests in the wild, otherwise some people may try to look for the baya weaver to learn something from it. no, not to weave the nest but how to court two or three partners at one time!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

do you know the difference between
the pulasan and the rambutan?

first, it was the rambai and the langsat. now, it's time to look at two other cousins in the fruit family - the pulasan and the rambutan. the name pulasan comes from the malay word 'pulas' meaning to twist. i suppose that is how it got its name. unlike, the rambutan where you need to make a break or cut to get at the flesh, for the pulasan, you twist it to get to the flesh of the fruit - one hand holding the top part and the other hand, the bottom, and you twist it in opposite directions.

the name rambutan also comes from a malay word 'rambut', meaning hair.

the other day, i was at sheng siong supermarket and they had both types of fruit on sale. the rambutans were going at $3.00 for 2 kilos and the pulasans were sold at $5.00 for two kilos. what is the implication? that rambutans are more plentiful whereas pulasans are harder to come by? that pulasans are better and preferred to rambutans?

the flesh of the two looks alike and the taste is not much different. some say the pulasan is generally sweeter. it is not true that the flesh of the pulasan does not stick to the seed. the one i had had bits sticking onto the seed (see below). the 'tood hood' rambutan does not stick to the seed. the difference is that you can eat the seed of the pulasan is edible. according to my friend, it tastes a bit like coconut.

chun see should have followed up the durian quiz with one on rambutan. the red and yellow rambutans are all over the place. to get the picture of the fruit for this blog, i punggol (hurled a stick) at a rambutan tree at the end of kampong chantek road.

the branches of the rambutan trees tend to give way quite easily. i remember, as a boy, i climbed a rambutan tree along chancery lane and found myself dangling a few metres from the ground because the lower branch, on which i had stood, had given way. i cannot remember how i eventually got back to solid ground but i believe i was not badly hurt in this incident.

i have yet to see a full-grown pulasan tree in singapore, much less climb one.

Monday, July 20, 2009

malay riddle

picture from national archives of singapore

if you are a true blue kampong-boy, who has lived in a kampong where there were malays, you would most probably have heard of this malay riddle:

buka sarung, nampak bulu
buka bulu, nampak biji
buka biji, nampak batang

remove sarong, see hair
part the hair, see seed(s)
remove the seed(s), see the rod

most kampong boys, especially those who lived in a kampong with a racial mix, would know what was being referred to. i wonder if today's generation of children can get the correct picture.

for answer, see below.....

i mean scroll down, not look down, lah

Saturday, July 18, 2009

answer to school building quiz

unlike some blogger who asked 5 questions based on an old photograph (and got 18 direct and indirect responses), i asked only one based on this new photograph of a new building but did not receive a single direct response. yes, there was one response from stanley but it was a misplaced one; it was supposed to be for the posting that came after.

i can conclude that either people are tired of the many quizzes that i have posed or they really don't care for new things; they prefer nostalgic stuff. or they simply don't know the answer.

anyway, since the other blogger has revealed the answers to those tough questions, i am going to answer my own question.

this school building, together with a lot of other unoccupied buildings, is located within the murai urban training facilities at jalan murai. i had wandered into this place as there was no sentry, no 'protected place' sign and the gate was wide open. i had mistaken it for some movie town that they were developing until i saw army trucks and soldiers on the roof of some building one day.

Friday, July 17, 2009

kolam ayer abc waterfront

what does abc stand for? it stands for active, beautiful and clean (water). today, i went back to the kolam ayer abc waterfront and saw a number of pleasing and interesting additions to this beautiful stretch of water from bendemeer to the kallang mrt station. the water was already quite clean even before the marina barrage was completed. i used to see shoals of fish darting about in the kallang river, the longest river in singapore.

i took bus service 67 and stopped near the kallang mrt station. from there i walked to the pcn that actually connects bishan park to the kallang riverside park, a distance of nearly 7km. there were a lot of flags fluttering by the side of the river and on the bridge across the river. no, they were not national day decorations put up by the residents' committee of that area. i think they were displayed by the taoist temple (chwee kang beo - shui jiang miao) for some religious festivity.

across the bridge from the temple are some octagonal-shaped buildings that reminded me of my visit to china. these are industrial storerooms and warehouses which have been around for sometime already.

there are disruptions to the path at two points along this stretch of the connector where you have to cross the road at traffic light pedestrian crossings to rejoin the path.

soon the the kallang vista come into view. these blocks of hdb flats, by the edge of the water, are nearing completion. these days, it is not easy to tell if they are private condominiums or hdb flats because of the better design and finish and also the name - river vista at kallang.

the floating deck is the focal point along the walk. "the floating deck is a dynamic structure that moves with the water level. by following the water movement, the deck stays close to the water surface. activities such as morning exercises or festive celebrations can take place on the deck or one can simply enjoy the scenery of the riverside on the deck". the last time i was there, it was not even under construction. how fast things change in singapore!

it is not only the deck that is floating, there are also troughs of plants floating by the side of the deck. it is a pity that some people do not realise that to enjoy the place, you have to keep it clean. there are empty cigarette packs, bread wrappers and tissue papers on the deck and by the edge of the water.

children will enjoy the two mechanical devices used for drawing water from the river - the archimedes screw and the water wheel. they are working models.