Showing posts with label History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label History. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Singapore Coffee Museum

I have been to nearly all the museums in Singapore, hence it came as a surprise to me when I discovered that there was actually a Singapore Coffee Musuem behind the Old Nanyang Coffee cafe at Smith Road I was in.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


I was one of the people in the world who kept a diary long before the advent of the internet and web 2.0 technologies. By a diary, I mean a notebook or a real diary notepad, where I penned down my thoughts, my life on every day of the year.

I kept diaries since I was young, as early as 10 years of age; however there were breaks in between when I could not keep up the routine, discipline, rigour and commitment of keeping a diary. My dozens of notes (which I fastened together as diaries) helped make me sane during National Service. However, with time, all these diaries or ‘makeshift’ diaries have long gone with the wind as I decided not to immerse myself in the past but to move forward and make the most of future!

With the advent of blogs, I find the passion of writing diaries online being rekindled. There started my first foray of online diaries in the form of blogs during my university days. At that times, blogs were used as online diaries and I kept blogging my thoughts on this new found medium of diaries till one fine day, being free, I did an experiment and was shocked to find that my blog footprints could be bared naked to the internet world at large by simply keying a few of my friends’ names. From then on, for a few years, I stopped blogging and deleted my online diary blog.

It is not that I have written something horrible about my friends. It is just that I am a private person and prefer to keep my life to myself. These days, blogs have morphed into something bigger than just mere online diaries. They have now a commercial slant or are for posting of targeted content towards certain niches. Many have found fame and a money motherlode with these blogs.

I think blogs can never substitute the old diaries due to the simple fact… nobody really want their lives to be exposed. They can keep a blog which contains more subtle, less vivid details of what they actually want to write as compared to a real diary!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Total Defence Day

Sirens rang islandwide at 12 pm sharp yesterday while many Singaporeans were still busy visiting their relatives and friends. I believe many Singaporeans do not understand the significance of the siren. Worst, they might not have heard the shrill of the siren while enjoying the festive mood and food of Chinese New Year.

Similar to other years, yesterday 15 Feb is Total Defence Day. 58 years ago, Singapore was invaded by the Japanese and was occupied for a total of 3 years and 8 months. Under the Japanese rule, Singaporeans led a life of hell. Thousands of men were massacred, thousands of women were raped with many being shot in their vaginas after being raped, children were not spared as the Japanese soldiers flung infants high up towards the skies, only to have them dropped to the heart of their bayonets, with their blood smeared across the faces of their Japanese devils. I have heard somewhere that these Japanese soldiers believed the blood of infants smeared across their faces was auspicious for them.

That fateful day 58 years ago was also Chinese New Year! In 1942, there were two lunar months in the Chinese calendar and urban legend has it that if there are any two lunar months in the Chinese calendar, there will be war!

Chaos and fear reigned during the Japanese Occupation. Untold and unbelievably cruel stories were too many to be told. It was such a grave period for Singapore and I believe older surviving Singaporeans who have been through the world would bear compelling testimonials of what happened during the dark 3 years and 8 months.

My late grandmother who survived the Japanese Occupation had told me how she has to dress like a man to prevent being picked up by the Japanese soldiers. My late grandfather also led an uneasy life during the Japanese Occupation bringing up the family.

Fast forward to today, Singaporeans seem to have lost touch with history. How many younger Singaporeans know the significance of the ringing of the siren and the significance of Total Defence Day?

Possibility of war aside, the prospect of our society breaking up into chaos is always present. The recent case of Pastor Rony Tan and the posting of racist comments by 3 youths underscored how easy it is for an individual or two to spread racial and religiously insensitive remarks to the masses under the cloak of anonymity afforded by the internet. The government has acted fast to contain and mitigate the negative effects of their acts. The episodes also once again reminded Singaporeans the importance of religious and racial harmony.

Countries elsewhere are also in turmoil. In Thailand, what used to be a peaceful country has now become restive after the former Premier Thaksin was ousted of government. In Malaysia, churches were set ablaze after the court’s ruling of the use of the word ‘Allah’.

Hence as Singaporeans live peacefully in our little country, we still need to note how social turbulences can be easily sparked and that it is still an existential threat, no matter how small the threat can be.

Visit Singapore Short Stories for more interesting reads NOW!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Quest for Immortality: The world of Ancient Egypt

Dear readers, how have your Christmas eve and Christmas day been? It must be good right? Same here for me as I have been to a few very exciting and interesting places of interests for Singapore tropical Christmas which I will definitely share with you in the coming few posts, so do watch out for it!

This morning, Christmas Day, my parents, wife and I went to see not Santa Claus on this Christmas Day, butMummy! Yup, the mummies you watched in those “Mummies” shows starring Brandon Fraser which come to life and which will come and grab you!

Mummy maniac has hit Singapore with the exhibition: “Quest for Immortality: The world of Ancient Egypt” held at the Singapore National Museum from 22 December 2009 to 4 Apr 2010. Ticket for this exhibition costs $15, but come every public holiday, admission charges to the 5 Singapore Museums: National museum, Asian Civilization museum, Philatelic museum, Arts museum and Peranakan museum are waived free. Hence, the “Mummy” exhibitions are open to the public for free today!

The waiver of charges is partly the reason why we want to see “Mummy” on Christmas day, the overriding reason is that we are historical buffs.

Initially, I have expected that there will be few people to this exhibition as Singaporeans are generally not known as historical buffs, but I was wrong.

As soon as we reached the outside of the exhibition gallery, we were surprised that an extremely long queue has formed outside the gallery. We were told that it would take us 3 hours just to enter the exhibition!

It was far too long to wait. Quest for Immortality Exhibition? Quest for Entry to Exhibition instead!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

of Past and Future

I carried out a mini spring cleaning in the afternoon, clearing loads of documents which are now rendered of no use to me.

Most of these items merit not much of an attention. Many of them played a vital role in my life, work and studies once, but they are of no use in my life now.

I could have kept them for memory purpose, but imagine if I were to keep each and every old document, I would have turned my room into a museum. I just keep the more important ones which are more memorable.

One item which caught my attention was this packet of transparency sheets:

I had bought this packet of transparency sheets many many years ago (so long that I could not remember)! The fact that this packet of transparency sheets resided for long untouched attests to the inevitable fact that transparency sheets like these are already obsolete!

These days, everyone giving a presentation uses a Microsoft Power Point presentation, gone are the days when one inks his or her presentation using those foul-smelling markers and the audience would have to sometimes struggle comprehending some of the handwritings on these sheets.

I still remember back in my secondary school days, I was made one of those AVA (Audio and Visual Aids) assistants in my class. For every teacher who needs to use the OHP (Overhead Projector) to present the lesson to the class, I and my classmate would have to walk to the front of the class and performed a stunt everytime.

The stunt was:

Step 1: Pull the projector screen down (no problem for me, though it was situated high up as I am tall.)

Step 2: Bring out the projector and do the necessary wire connections

Step 3: Switch on the projector and then its ready for lesson!

These days, though overhead projectors are still in use for powerpoint presentations, most often than not, these are now operated by a switch, saving time for the presenter to pull the screen down himself or to nominate a tall person to help him with it.

I felt a sense of nostagia just by looking at how presentation modes have evolved with time. Some ten over years ago, classroom lessons involve the teachers and students writing on the 'blackboard' with those chalks, having to endure the chalkdust, the breaking of chalksticks and the rubbing off the chalked writings on the board.

Then come the overhead projector and transparency sheets as well as the plastic board and marker ink. Next, Microsoft Powerpoint presentation reigns all and now with the connectivity of the internet, distant learning and other high means of advanced learning and teaching are now made possible!

What would be next? Maybe one day, schools would be made obsolete as students would be able to log in a 'cyberschool', participate in lessons, take examinations, all from the comforts of their houses!

This may be great however one should not consider the social aspects of an education. Nothing can replace the face-to-face teaching, socialisation of the students with his fellow classmates, playing, chatting and having fun together!

Do not be surprised that one day human brains would be linked to computers. If you want to take a Geography module to take for an example, just connect a 10GB of hard disk containing all the Geographical information and data to your brain and your brain would download it.

Similarly, if you want to learn Maths, just download from the internet into your brain.

Man would then become linked to the internet and computer and there becomes no boundary of man, information and knowledge. To translate the information gleaned into his brain into knowledge, man would then need to install a higher RAM for faster processing efficiency.

Meetings and joint proposals would just be a matter of every man present in the meeting emitting their frequencies of thoughts into a common information device which would then collate all the frequencies and synergise into one proposal based on the differing inputs.

Man would then become not just biological bodies but information absorbing and emitting devices. Man need not mouth a single word, communication will be via rays and waves from their brains, aided by computers.

This is the world of the future I make out of. Who knows, maybe the internet one day would be superceded by something even bigger?

We could have mobile phones, internet and other information emitting devices right here in our head! Food may become discretised into bits and consumed into our heads via a USB transfer. There would be no necessity to grow food, commerce and business would still exist with information. Information becomes food, Man become Information, Man becomes in essence robots!

The world of the future could be as such!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Peranakan museum

Sited in a modest corner off Armenian Street is Singapore's Peranakan Musuem, a musuem where you can find all thing Peranakan.
There has been a strong revival of the Peranakan culture in Singapore following the dazzling success of Mediacorp's local drama "The Little Nonya" starring Jeanette Aw and Qi Yu Wu who play the protagonists in the show.

I know little about the Peranakan culture thus it was an eye opener to me as my Dear and I partook in the history of the Peranakan on 27 Jan 09, the second day of the Chinese Lunar New Year. Being a public holiday that day, the musuem was open free to all.

I learnt that there were actually many different Peranakan, for example, Hokkien Peranakans, Teochew Peranakans, etc.. thus people I see everyday on the streets may be Peranakans though they look much like Chinese, it is hard to detect the subtle differences at one glance unless we know the Perankans personally.

My Dear and I left the musuem with a better appreciation of Peranakans. 'The Little Nonya' might have taught Singaporeans a thing or two about Peranakans already... that is the power of TV dramas! When a movie or drama is a real blockbuster, there will be an associated craze about things associated with the show. I could still remember how New Zealand benefitted from its increased tourist numbers after 'The Lord of the Ring' and its sequels were screened.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Rubix’s Cube

The Rubix’s Cube was a decades-old toy. It was a toy I encountered and played with since young; but nevertheless a toy I could never master till now!

I always find it amazing how some young kids could easily twist, turn and flip the cube till they got the 6 uniformly coloured faces ‘correct’ .. and all within minutes. The ease with which they carried out the ‘feat’ put me to shame as I have played with Rubix’s cube no lesser than 50 times in my life but have never for once mastered the feat (or trick?).

Is there a trick behind the Rubix’s Cube? Or is the game a ‘mind’ game, a game which test how flexible or inflexible your mind is? Or are the skills to solving the Rubix Cube already hard-wired in us: either you have it or you don’t?

The internet is abound with the secrets to decoding the Rubix’s Cube, with pictures and videos depicting each and every step to ‘getting it right’. Prior to this source, books on cracking the Rubix’s cube were aplenty. But I have never ‘consult’ these ‘secret manuals’, as I am harboring a hope that one day, I will be able to master the Rubix’s Cube unaided!

However, it seems like I have no passion for Rubix’s cube rather than facing the grim prospect of being resigned to the fact that my spatial cognitive ability is not that strong for I have not really tried to practise and better my skills on this great cube for years!

The Rubix’s cube is intriguing: as a toy of the yesteryears, it has not followed the footsteps of the dinosaurs like its contemporaries but has instead continued to be played as a popular game worldwide. It has continued to be evolved with time rather than being made obsolete. In fact, this simple but yet challenging cube has not only continue to be played globally, it has reignited the passion of its lovers to the extent that modern contemporaries of the cube are invented: 2x2 Rubix’s cubes, 5 x 5 Rubix’s cubes and Rubix’s cubes of a myriad different shapes, sizes, turns and twists.

The Rubix’s cube may be one of the most popular toys ever played now and before. It is an ‘evergreen’ toy and it owns its phenomenal success simply due to folks like me (who continue to think on ways to crack the ‘code’) and diehard fans (who reinvented the modern versions of the cube).

With the 5x5 cube already on the market, it just adds to the challenge of me mastering the 3 x 3 Rubix’s cube!

Saturday, December 27, 2008


The sights and cacophony of colorful street artists plying their trade greet me the moment I step onto the bustling street. The aroma of delectable hawker fare immediately follows, wafting across the street, melding with the pungent incense and the roasted fragrance of chestnut to form a uniquely characteristic scent. This is Waterloo Street, a street pulsating with the rhythm of life, a street where I feel like home.

My parents introduced me to Waterloo street in Bugis when I was just six years of age to pay homage to the Chinese deities residing in the Kwan Imm Temple and pray for peace. Thereafter, I have made a myriad revisits to the temple as a student yearning for good results, as an executive wishing for career advancement and always as a Buddhist praying for peace and prosperity.

Since the preliminary visits to the temple, Bugis, resonating with its buzzing scores of interesting fixtures and activities has beckoned me on. I have developed an affinity for Bugis, grown accustomed to its diverse groups of people and become assimilated to its distinct ‘culture’.

I could not exactly remember in details each of the countless visits I made to the scores of hawker centres there which offer mouth-watering treats at amazing good prices (till today), but one common thread through all the visits is the warmth of the stall owners. This warmth, coupled with the pleasant atmosphere of dining with friends certainly mirrors dining at home!

The National Library, at one corner of Bugis, is till today my favorite haunt since it opened. I could still recall the long laborious hours spent there revising my studies and preparing for the examinations around the corner. Used to be my ‘study room’, the library is now a knowledge hub for me as I bone up on various snippets of knowledge from its voluminous tomes for an enriching life.

Shopping malls, fixtures not to be missed during my trip down to Bugis are where friendships are cemented, woes are shared and time seems to fly during each shopping trip. I feel like home enjoying common things with friends at these malls: interaction, dining, patronizing the shops and poring over the latest gadgets and fashion.

Over the years, new buildings have sprung up in Bugis but the warmth of home Bugis exudes has stood the test of time. I feel at ease as at home in Bugis, having a wide array of choices I could do here: shop, eat, read, pray and simply relax !
As I grow to be part of the Bugis as it grows to be part of my life, I have forged an inextricable bond with the area. I am always home in Bugis for it is a repository of my precious memories, a place where people and things are ever so familiar to me, a place which has seen me through the various phases of my life, a place where common things are shared …. a place where I feel like home

Friday, December 05, 2008


I saw this cute Mario toy in a display at a shopping centre here.
Mario is a very famous character in Nintendo's game. Before Sony's playstation and X-box, we have the Nintendo games and some other games like Sega... some twenty years ago.
Though most know Mario by face, most will not really know more about him. According to Wiki, Mario is depicted as a short, pudgy, Italian-Americanplumber who lives in the Mushroom Kingdom, having originated from New York. He is best known for repeatedly stopping the plans of Bowser to kidnap Princess Peach and subjugate the Mushroom Kingdom. He also has other enemies and rivals, including Donkey Kong and Wario.
Mario is actually the James Bond in computer games, killing villains and rescuing others.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Singapore, Yesterday

I saw this collection of erasers at a store recently and memories of the yester-years came flooding to my mind.
When I was in primary school, I and my friends would just call erasers as 'rubber'. But fast forward to this century, 'rubber' has become rather a sensitive word.
It was a craze back then in my primary school days when my classmates and I would just spent our 'hard-earned' pocket money to buy such rubbers, with a picture of a country depicted on the top face of each 'rubber'. The cost of one such eraser was 10 cents per piece and the challenge of all collectors is to collect all the 48 erasers!
Anyway, would it be far easier to just purchase one whole box of such erasers, containing all the 48 erasers than collecting them individually? However, the school stationery shop sold these erasers separately and the possession of one freshly-minted box of erasers is only for the richer kids!
My classmates and I were always scrambling to purchase the erasers of different flags. Some erasers with 'more beautiful' flags such as the United States of America and Cuba, to name a few were always hard to get as they ran out of stock fast. It was a challenge hence to complete a full collection of these erasers.
With our limited collection of these erasers, we would normally indulge in playing 'rubber-flipping' games, where using our fingers, two opponents would flip their eraser towards that of the opponent and the winner would be the one where his eraser flipped to lay on top of his opponent's.
Those were the yester-years! Now erasers are just erasers for the kids, who are more interested in the internet and computer games!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Greek Masterpieces from the Louvre

The current refurbishment of the Louvre’s Classical Greek and Hellenistic galleries affords an unexpected and unique opportunity to present a selection of Greek masterpieces at the National Museum of Singapore. Despites Louvre’s huge collection of over 45,000 Greek and Roman artefacts, it seldom loans more than a dozen items at a time from the department. The present exhibition is not only exceptional in this respect- with 130 works of Greek Arts on loan here- it is also the first time that many of the objects have left the Louvre since arriving there. Normally separated according to material, a division imposed by architectural constraints at the Louvre (stone sculptures are exhibited on the ground floor, while vases, bronzes and terracotta figurines are displayed on the first floor, where the floorboards can only support the weight of small objects), this exhibition is therefore a rare chance to view objects of different materials displayed thematically. Carefully selected, the artefacts combined to give an overview of Greek civilisation at its political and artistic height in the so-called classical period (5th to 4th centuries BCE).

The exhibition begins with an introduction to Athens and aims to conjure up, through portraits of famous men, depictions of foundation myths and works of arts associated with the Acropolis and the city’s burial-grounds to provide a sketch of the environment in which the Greeks lived.

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