Sunday, August 30, 2009

how many errors in english?
roger, my fellow blogger, posted this and he challenged you to find a deliberate error in his posting.

i came across this 'advertisement' pasted on a pillar near my block of flats. there are - apart from missing punctuation marks - at least five grammatical errors. can you pick them out? would you let your child receive tuition in the english language from this tuition group?

Friday, August 28, 2009

who was wallace?

this morning, while on my morning nature walk, i came across this sign-post. this should give you an idea where i walked this morning. i thought: wow, this is my chance to pose a question where the answer cannot be googled. my googling friend had posted this comment in my blog: "YG, you should come up with quizes which are not "googleable".

this is a brand-new place, surely nobody will have blogged or mentioned it on the internet. however, this was not to be. when i typed in the search-box "wallace education centre", not only was the location mentioned, there was also a picture of the place.

anyway, i have decided to go ahead with the quiz because through it, readers will come to know more about this place which is due to be opened anytime soon. i have blogged about this place more than once.


1 where is the wallace education centre located?

2 what's the full name of this place?

2 who was wallace?

3 if you are driving, where are the two designated car parks?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

answer to 'bws' australian sign quiz

anonymous got it, victor googled it and phil (of sydney) knew it all along.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

graffiti galore at old changi hospital

the abandoned buildings of the old changi hospital attract a host of people with different interests and inclinations. school children find the space on the walls an inviting medium to express their thoughts and feelings or to give vent to their frustrations. the graffiti vandals seem to have a field day at this site. nevetheless, there are some pieces that can qualify as graffiti art, like the 'street dance' ad the 'crab' above.

another group of people who haunt this place are the ghost hunters. you can see evidence of their having been there in almost every corner of the buildings. there are joss sticks stuck into cracks or where power-point plugs used to be. there were even joss papers scattered on the floor. on the top level, some occult group has been there to practise their cult. i suppose these groups of people are active only at night.

then there are the scrap metal hunters and karung guni men. it seems it is not just metal they are after. anything that is of use and value does not stand a chance against these raiders. the fire hose from the reel was not spared. someone tired unsuccessfully to remove a rectangular metal box fixed to the wall. my friend thought it could be a safe.

evidence that it was a former hospital can be obtained from some of the documents strewn on the floor. somebody must have ransacked the cupboards and drawers in the hope of finding something valuable and he must have chucked the valueless old documents on the floor.

built in 1930, it was meant to be a strategic military location in the east of singapore. from the building, you get a good view of the sea to the north and east of singapore. after the british moved out, it was turned into a public hospital but one of the higher levels was reserved for army personnels.

Monday, August 24, 2009

what do the letters bws stand for?

in australia and new zealand, the term "byo" (bring your 0wn) emerged to describe establishments that had special liquor licences allowing guests to bring their own bottle of wine. it is believed that restaurants in melbourne, in the state of victoria, were advertising as "byo" establishments by the 1960s, with the concept becoming popular in new zealand in the late 1970s.

in other parts of the world, corkage is a practice of restaurants where guest are allowed to bring their own bottles by paying a small charge to the restaurant. (from wikipedia)

when i was in australia recently, i came across a number of establishments advertising 'bws'. what do these 3 letters stand for?

sorry, phil (of sydney), you are barred from taking part in this quiz.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

where's the oldest malay cemetery?

this old street map indicates the location (3) of the oldest malay cemetery in singapore. the mosque marked on the map is the malabar mosque located at the corner of victoria street and jalan sultan. (the malabar muslims were originally from the southern state of kerala in india.)

the oldest malay cemetery is found behind this mosque, which is undergoing some renovation. it is at the junction of victoria street and sultan road. there is another larger cemetery ground on the other side of jalan kubor (kubor is malay for graveyard).

some of the graves are so old that trees have grown out of them. although most of the graves appear unattended, there are some that have been visited and the cloth wrapping the grave markers changed.

my fellow walker had mistakenly thought that ngah ibrahim - one of those implicated in the murder of j w w birch - had been buried in this old cemetery. i made a check on the internet and found out that he was buried at the masjid al-junied along bencoolen street. his remains were taken back and buried in perak in 2006.

this is the oldest malay cemetery on the island. it dates from 1819 - 20, when sultan husain mohammed shah and his followers settled in and around the area lying between arab street and jalan sultan. but since there was already a small village on the coast at this point, the kampong gelam graveyard, may, therefore have been used before this date. sultan husian himself died in melaka (on 5 september 1835) but a number of his relatives were buried at kampong gelam.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

what are these grown ups up to?

this shell and a replica of the 15-inch gun are found at the johore battery located at cosford road, off upper changi road north. the place is open on weekdays (monday to friday) from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. admission is free. what you see at the site is a replica of one of the 'monster guns'. it is a pity the underground tunnels are not open to the public.

the johore battery comprised 3 guns. they were part of a group of 29 large coastal guns installed in singapore in the 1930s.

the johore battery's 3 weapons were among singapore's largest coastal guns. they were known as 15-inch guns because 15 inches (38cm) was the diameter of the shell they fired. their gun barrels were 16.5m long and the shells stood 1.5m high. the guns were capable of hurling these shells at battleships over 20 miles (32km) away.

they were originally called 'monster guns' when tested in england in 1934, before being sent to singapore. when world war ii started, there were only 7 of these defending the coasts of the british empire. 2 were near dover in england, and 5 in singapore.

besides the johore battery, singapore also had 15-inch guns at buona vista battery. they were located at the junction of ulu pandan and clementi roads, in the west of the island.

each of the johore battery's guns had its own ammunition bunker. these were 500m apart, arranged in a line that stretched from the present site onto what are now the runways of changi airport. though these guns were originally intended to stop an attack from the sea, two of these guns could turn around to fire to the rear, towards johor bahru. the third, the one located at this site, could only fire out to sea.

from 5 to 12 feb 1942, the 2 guns of the johore battery that could turn around fired landwards in s'pore defence. they shelled japanese infantry positions from johor bahru, just across the causeway, eastwards to the area north of tanjong punggol.

the guns of the johore battery fired 194 rounds before their demoltion by the british on 12 feb. the demolition, and the postwar upgrading of changi aerodrome, means that all that remains are the underground tunnels on the site, which once house ammunition and power plants.

there's a similar posting but with a different picture here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

the smooth otters of sungei buloh

you can read about the smooth otters here.

i have seen the otters in various parts of the sungei buloh wetland reserve. the first time i saw them was at the sand spit, at low tide, near platform one. at that time, the soldiers were still on the lookout for the famous fugitive. i asked one of the soldiers and he told me that the otters usually made their appearances at low tide.

the second time i saw them, they were frolicking in the sungei buloh besar and later chasing one another on the river bank. there were six of them, two adults and four kids.

subsequently, i saw them twice in the muddy pond near the visitors' centre. again, it was a family of six i saw. they were playing in the water and abruptly, on a given signal, they all got out of the pond, clambered onto the land and proceeded to the river where they swam upstream.

i have also seen a solitary one at the pond between stations 5 and 6. it was hunting for fish on its own.

today was the first time i saw the otters on the track. at first, i thought they were puppies but when they looked up, i recognised them as otters. if they are from the same family - they must be - they have really grown. the kids are now as big as the adults. four of them were on the track and three others were in the pond on the left. again, when the leader gave a signal, all of them moved quickly to the pond on the right. they soon disappeared into the water.

one of the staff members at the reception commented that i was lucky to have had so many sightings of the otters. my explanation was that because i moved about alone, there was minimum noise to scare them away.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

how high jump has changed over the years

picture from national archives of singapore

i was browsing through some photographs of the farrer park stadium, when it dawned on me how much the high jump field event has changed over the years. it is not just the jumping technique that has changed but also the landing surfaces for the jump.

those early years, we used to jump and land in a sand pit. during our primary school days, we had never heard of the fosbury flop. most of us generally leaped over the cross-bar feet first save for some kamikaze jumpers. the styles that we employed were western roll, straddle or the scissors.

picture from national archives of singapore

later, they cushioned the landing area by using rubber foams. landing was not as painful (as on sand) and also you did not get sand entering any of your orifices. by then quite a number of the jumpers were already using the frosbury flop technique to clear the bar.

today's landing mattress is thick and well-padded and the surface is even. the foam mattress has a pvc cover and all the seams and joints are properly stitched.

today, most, if not all, elite jumpers, both men and women, use the flop to clear the bar.

here is a video clip of some gymnasts doing the high jump and some shots of a world champion in action.

those who are not into competitive high jumping may not be aware of one of the basic rules for the high jump event. that is, the competitor must take off on one foot. so, all those jumps by the gymnasts, taking off on two feet, are not considered valid or legal jumps.

two other rules of interest are:

the cross-bar must remain in place when the athlete has left the landing area. if the bar falls off the uprights after you have completed the jump but before you leave the landing area, it is considered a failed attempt.

the competitor may begin jumping at any height. you may pass at your own discretion. 3 consecutive missed jumps, at any height or combination of heights, will eliminate the jumper from the competition.

Monday, August 17, 2009

where can you find this structure?

my blogger friend posted an old gate, and apparently it generated a lot of interest (responses). so, i have decided to show an old structure found in a disused place for this quiz. it is definitely older than the old gate. actually, this structure also has a gate, albeit, a small one.

i will pose the same kind of questions.

1 what is this structure?

2 where is it found? name the nearest road.

2 name one landmark very near to it.

clues: it is not in some ulu corner of singapore. in fact, it is in one of the oldest, if not the oldest, residential districts in singapore.

you may not have seen or noticed it but i came across a photograph of the same structure in some foreign traveller's blog. it goes to show that some tourists know more of the history of singapore than our own people.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

danish seamen's church
(golden bell mansion)

today, we went to locate and explore the danish seamen's church at 10 pender road, mount faber. it is a small church - with a sunday congregation of about 40 worshippers - catering to the small community of danes in singapore. we were told that there are about 1500 people of danish nationality residing in singapore.

there are at least three bells in the compound of this building. wonder if these have anything to do with its association with seamen. the smallest yellow box in singapore is also found inside in the compound of the building. on the day of our visit, there were many prams within the compound. on thursday mornings, they conduct a playgroup for small chidren in one of the rooms in the main building. maybe, the yellow box is meant to ensure that the prams do not block the passageway.

the pastor lives in room upstairs, i suppose, it is just below the dome, and the other two live downstairs in an adjacent building. this blog mentioned that the chinese revolutionary leader dr sun yat sen stayed one night in this building. some of his family members were believed to have stayed in the same mansion, though not at the same time as dr sun.

the dome resembling a buddhist stupa was built in 1909 for straits chinese tan boon liat. the house was sold in 1934 after owner's death in shanghai.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

push start a stalled car

i watched three persons attempting to push start a stalled car along the main road. they did not manage to get very far as their effort proved futile. i was wondering if it was due to lack of trying or lack of technique or was it because the battery was totally drained. nowadays, with most of the cars on our roads having automatic transmission, it is getting rarer and rarer to see people getting into this kind of act.

one should not try to push start a car alone. you should have one person in the driver's seat and one or more pushing. if the car is parked on an upslope, you definitely need more manpower to push it.

for it to be effective, you have to first turn off all accessories that will drain whatever little power is left in the battery, like the radio, lights, air-conditioner, wipers, etc.

turn the key to the 'on' position. depress the clutch pedal and engage 2nd gear. although it works on 1st gear, i usually put the transmission in 2nd gear. keep the clutch depressed.

next, release the handbrake and the foot brake.

the persons need to get the car rolling as fast as it can, so it is best if there is an incline or a downhill. the one in the driver's seat has to simultaneously, release the clutch and step on the accelerator the moment the car has gathered sufficient momentum. once the engine comes to life, he has to keep feeding the petrol to keep the engine running. a word of caution though: he must not accelerate too fast, otherwise the helpers (pushers) may end up with their faces flat on the road.

can you push start an automatic car?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

starching clothes and pre-uhu glue days

"Then to make the starch, pour hot water on some white powder...." peter made this comment in my posting on laundry blue.

when we were in primary school, during our art and craft lessons, the glue we used usually came in a tube like a small tube of tooth-paste or a small bottle-like container. back at home when we needed to do any sticking or glueing, we would make use of the starch that our mother used for starching clothes.

how do you prepare this home-made glue? those days, my mother used tapioca flour - peter referred to this as some white powder - to make this starchy substance. you can use any vegetable flour. for the picture in this blog, i used some left-over potato flour.

first, you add some tap water to the flour and stir it until it becomes a thick, milky solution. then you add hot water to it, a little at a time, and continue to stir very hard and fast. the opaque solution will gradually become clear. when the paste becomes transparent (as in the top picture), you stop adding hot water.

the paste, if it is going to be used for starching clothes, should not be lumpy. when you want to starch the clothes, you scoop a handful of the starchy paste and dissolve it in a pail of water. then you rinse the clothes in the pail of starchy water. the clothes, when they are dry, will become stiff and this makes ironing them easier.

nowadays, the fabric starch comes in the form of an aerosol spray can. it has brightener to give your clothes that smart, crisp look. it is supposed to help remove creases and wrinkles on your clothes. however, it cannot be used on silk and other delicate fabrics.

for glueing purpose, if you want the 'glue' to be thicker, then you do not need to add so much hot water. the paste will be lumpy but it will stick better. if you want to keep the glue for sometime, then, instead of using just hot water, add some vinegar to the water.

today, hardly anyone makes use of the home-made starch. you can get glue which comes in handy containers or in the form of a stick.

Monday, August 10, 2009

gastronomic adventure in kuching

new parliament building in kuching

at the start of the long weekend, on friday, we took a one-hour-twenty-minute-flight to kuching in sarawak, east malaysia. we returned to singapore on sunday, just when the national day parade was about to begin and definitely in time for the 8.22 pledge.

it was meant to be a social visit but it turned out to be more like a gastronomic adventure even though i am not that adventurous when it comes to eating.

we tried at least four unique and authentic sarawak dishes. first was the wild ferns cooked in garlic and shallots. sometimes, sambal belachan is used to cook the ferns. the ferns are apparently not that wild because, according to one of our hosts, they can be found growing by the road side. we finished the whole plate of crunchy ferns in double quick time. i think the locals call this dish midin.

the second dish was the bamboo chicken (pansoh manuk). chunks of chicken stuffed into a bamboo and cooked with herbs, one variation of which, uses kacang ma. another variation uses tapioca leaves, lemongrass and mushrooms. (kacang ma is a herb promoted by the sarawak state agriculture and food industry. this herb belongs to the mint family. it is believed to have originated in china and brought to sarawak by the hakkas.)

i also tried the sarawak version of laksa. it reminds me of our prawn noodles (hae mee). the authentic sarawak laksa uses fresh rice vermicelli. the soup is rich in 'sanatan' and spices. the toppings include prawns, chicken and thinly-sliced omelette.

of course, you cannot claim to have tried authentic sarawak dishes if you have not eaten the kolok mee - of which there are many imitations in singapore these days. in kuching, you can have kolok mee at any time of the day - for breakfast, lunch or dinner. having not eaten the kolok mee in singapore, i could not make a comparison; i was told that it tasted so much better than those sold in singapore.

Friday, August 7, 2009

chwee kang beo (shui jiang miao)

taking up my suggestion, my monday and thursday walking kakis went with me on a visit to the kolam ayer basin. during my previous visits to that area, i had admired the taoist temple from outside and did not step insideat all. this time we decided to take a look inside as i wanted to see the relica of a ming boat i had read about.

while we were waiting tentatively outside, a lady caretaker proudly pointed out to us that there was a board, put up by the national heritage board, on the other side which has a bit of history of the temple.

located at the kallang river near the upper stretch of boon keng road, chwee kang beo (in hokkien) or shui jiang miao (in mandarin) has been sited here for more than 45 years.

the main deity of the temple is tua pek kong (grand old man) who is considered to be the guardian saint of overseas chinese in south-east asia. another equally important deity is cheng huang (city god) who has been associated with the temple for more than 40 years. other temple deities include the stone lion city god, the horse general and the tiger god.

the area was once known as kampong soo poo. more people settled into the kampong after the japanese occupation. human bones were once washed up at the site of today's temple. in order to alleviate the bad omen and to seek protection from deities, the villagers erected a simple shrine.

over time, the shrine evolved into an attap-roofed temple. it gained a tarred rof and stilts in 1961 as it would flood during high tides and heavy rain. since then it has attracted many devotees from the then kallang gasworks nearby. in 1991, the temple managed to establish ownership of the site with the help of two malay members of parliament, and with the support of devotees and residents, carry out the latest rebuilt which was completed in 1993.

the temple used to be sited next to the former jin mu chang boat factory and whenever there was a new boat to be launched, a ceremony would be held at the temple to bless the new boat. the ceremony was last held in 1970.

this is extracted from the heritage website:

there is a boat which is unique to this temple by the river. the boat is built of teak and is a scaled replica of a mng dynasty era vessel, complete with a keel, canvas sails, rigging and even miniature ladders in the cargo hold. it was built by a devotee who once used to build and repair boats in the area. i took him two months to complete the miniature boat.