Walkabouts and wonders

"A life not examined is a life not lived" – Socrates

Category Archives: Singapore 2014

Singapore limits?

Statues in the Museum of Asian Civilisations

Statues in the Museum of Asian Civilisations

This blog is meant as a kind of plea, just in case I am doing some five million people a significant injustice. You see, while I was there, I seem to have hit a wall, or perhaps a ceiling in my understanding of this place.

It is not that it lacks soul – there is definitely a feeling to the place and to the people – but it does seem very confined; focussed upon the singular pursuit of commercial and material success. Perhaps, I am mistaking newness for shallowness, the absence of bookstores (I have only seen one, and that, inside a museum, since I got here) for a lack of intellectual enquiry, the city’s extraordinary cleanliness for sterility.

Businessmen chatting in the forecourt of the oldest Buddhist temple in Singapore

Businessmen chatting in the forecourt of the oldest Buddhist temple in Singapore

Yes, I have seen that the Buddhist temple and the main Mosque (situated within 200m of one another) are well endowed and enjoy a regular stream of devotees, unperturbed by the equal stream of curious tourists, like me.

Preparing for New Year in China Town

Preparing for New Year in China Town

And I don’t doubt that the careful courtesy that I have met from most people is genuine, unforced. And, yes, it is certainly true that I have not explored the city as widely as I could have.

So, maybe it is I that is being too shallow. If you have been there, or better yet, live there, please let me know what you think. I hesitate to add a poll because that would just restrict answers. Instead, here is a contact form, to make it easier for you to comment.

 

Fun in Singapore (?) 2

Who knew? – Singapore houses the best modern museum of art and culture that I have ever seen (at least in Europe) in the form of its Museum of Asian Civilisations. I am sorry to say that I couldn’t get enough decent pictures to do the place justice –  just a few steps beyond my current skill-levels – besides there weren’t just artifacts and stills, but multimedia presentations on where they came from and how they were made, interactive bits made for children and amateurs like me and so on. And it probably has the best and most intelligent presentation on Islamic art and its foundations in that faith, that I have visited. Frankly knocks the Victoria and Albert Islamic and Chinese galleries in London, back into the 19th Century (sorry guys – the Singapore museum even has a nicer restaurant attached).

If you think I am going a bit over the top, go have a look at the website for an idea of its rangeº and, if you live in Singapore or get a chance to visit the island, let this place surprise you.

http://www.acm.org.sg/home/home.html

And although I didn’t go all the way through them, what I saw of two other museums – the National and the Peranakan was pretty impressive, too.

Fun in Singapore (?) 1

To be perfectly honest, when I realised that I was going to spend the better part of five days in Singapore, I thought, “Here’s a chance to catch up on the emails and sort all the pictures”. Actually, if you are happy to play along, there is an energy and forward-looking verve about the centre of Singapore that goes some way to explaining its extraordinary success. Take some of the architecture…….

Let’s start with something you might have been expecting –

Banganga_9

moving onto a guy who clearly wanted to open our minds..

Well, what else can you do to make shutters interesting?

Is it a boat, or maybe an open sub with cheese and a salad garnish….?

Banganga_7

Whereas this guy was just providing a practical solution to the problem of getting space for a garden……

Banganga_12

But I have to end on what happens when demands for new convenience, in the form of cool air, get bolted onto older technologies; the refurbished waterfront district that now houses the ex-pat bar and restaurant district….

Yes, those really are air-conditioners; all of them....

Yes, those really are air-conditioners; all of them….

Singapore

Chinatown, Singapore - yes, I know its not a great pic, but can you feel the energy? No? What, are you de....

Chinatown, Singapore – yes, I know its not a great pic, but can you feel the energy? No? What, …….

Just arrived for the first of four nights in Singapore, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the energy of the place – should be interesting. And my hotel is right in the middle of Chinatown where they are already getting in the mood for Chinese New Year (still two weeks away, unfortunately for me).

Also, I should mention that over the next few days I will be posting some fresh items on my blog from visits to Mumbai and Yangon. Stunning places, for all sorts of reasons. Each article should re-post onto both Facebook and LinkedIn but you can make sure you don’t miss any by visiting the blog and pressing the button to get email alerts. Enough of the promos and greetings to all of you at home, wherever that happens to be.

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