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Happy Moments in Singapore

One final post on our Singapore trip, but this one’s a doozy, so you might want to grab a cup of tea and pull up a chair. It was a busy, family-filled two weeks with too many happy moments to recount, so let me just share some highlights with you.

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I spent a joyous afternoon exploring Chinatown, Arab Street, Haji Lane and Little India on foot. I started at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown…

I stopped to listen to the call to prayers at Masjid Sultan in Muscat Street.This national monument was built in 1824…

The Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (Hindu) was hard to photograph against the bright sky, but it was wonderful in person. I walked past it in Little India…

Arab Street and Haji Lane run parallel to each other, offering amazing textiles and ceramics, as well as fabulous street art…

On Big Boy’s recommendation, I had lunch at the legendary Zam Zam restaurant on North Bridge Road, where this enormous beef murtabak and teh tarik set me back a tiny $6.20…

Little India was less touristy than Arab Street, selling essential food supplies…

…and wonderful handicrafts like these dabu ink blocks. The streets were filled with sari shops, grocers, eateries and gold merchants…

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The following day, my lovely new niece Rachel (we were in Singapore to attend her wedding to our nephew Nick), took me to the National Gallery of Singapore.

We had fun posing in front of Anish Kapoor’s mirror creation…

Tatsuo Miyajima’s Mega Death is always stunning, but it was particularly interesting to see it installed in a different space to the MCA

My favourite work of the day was Passages and Bridges (2018) by Filipino artist Mark Justiniani. It was structured as a perspex bridge that the viewer walked on, over a seemingly bottomless abyss filled with books and other memorabilia.

I loved it so much that Rach had to drag me away. The photos below were taken looking straight down as I walked over the bridge…

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Sentosa Island in Singapore has one of the world’s largest aquariums! It can get very crowded, but if you pick your time carefully (go early), there’s a great deal to see and do.

If for no other reason, go to see the amazing Open Ocean habitat, which measures 36 metres wide by 8.3 metres tall. It’s hard to comprehend just how large that is, so I took these videos to show you. We’re talking full size manta rays and sharks…

 

 

 

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Being in the tropics meant that fascinating wildlife was everywhere. We saw tortoises and monkeys and hornbills and sea eagles and colourful, noisy parrots. And peacocks, just wandering about…

While on Sentosa Island, we visited a butterfly park – Pete found it a bit underwhelming, but Small Man and I loved watching these Rice Paper Butterflies emerging and drying off their wings before their maiden flights…

The park also had scarlet macaws and tortoises…

And how often do you get to pat a green land iguana? (Yes, I really did pat him)

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I have, of course, left the best for last. Food! Singaporeans seem to live for food! Coupled with the country’s diverse cultural and religious influences, the result is an astonishing array of cuisines at almost every price point.

Having said that…are you sitting down?

Singapore is reputed to have the best Japanese food outside of Japan. My sister and brother-in-law very kindly took us to Kuriya Dining for the finest sushi I’ve ever eaten…

Then this came out. And I tried it. It’s cod sperm. Raw cod sperm. Well, technically, the whole male reproductive tract.

It’s a rare delicacy and I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to taste it…just once. And in case you’re curious, it has a texture similar to a raw oyster…

Then we had monkfish liver, which was actually very good…

The following day, we went to Outram Park Ya Hua Bak Kut Teh (which is no longer in Outram Park) to try their traditional pork rib soup. Proper, delicious hawker fare, eaten in an open air setting, served family style for sharing…

That evening, we went out for a feast!

Possibly the best thing I ate in Singapore (big call, I know) was the dry prawn noodle (har mee) served from a stall at the Zion Riverside Food Centre. It’s so good that it’s been awarded Michelin Bib Gourmand status. This is my niece Sweet Pea and her dad’s favourite – they always order the dry version, which comes with separate chilli noodles and large prawns in the most flavourful broth imaginable…

Finally (not really finally, as there was so much more to tell, but I’m exercising restraint), we ate some amazing Teochew food during our visit. My brother-in-law CC was appalled that I’d never been to a Teochew restaurant before (as it’s our native province), so he took us to one on our second night there.

Suckling pig is a regional specialty…

I can still remember my grandmother making ngoh hiang – minced pork and prawn wrapped in bean curd skin and deep fried…

That really is just a small sample of our two weeks of manic eating – we also had an amazing Peranakan meal, oodles of awesome street food and delicious home cooking, but I was too slow to take photos. It was hard to hold back the eaters long enough to frame a shot!

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My niece Baby Girl has been completely obsessed with my fudge brownies for years now, so I taught her how to make them. And yep, she’s wearing one of my rescued denim aprons

She nailed the brownies on her first attempt!

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This trip to Singapore was our first overseas holiday since the start of our waste reduction plan, and I was curious to see if we could stick to our goals while travelling.

It actually proved to be quite easy. As you can see from the photos above, the low cost of labour means that, in some areas, Singapore is much better at waste minimisation than we are – all the food courts and hawker centres serve their dishes on melamine crockery and provide non-disposable cutlery. Eaters bus their dirty plates to a central collection spot and stack them on either Halal and non-Halal racks.

In terms of shopping, we avoided the large malls and instead spent time exploring interesting and unique handicrafts. I picked up these hand painted teaspoons and pendant from a small Peranakan store on Bussorah Lane, and was so happy when owner Robert packaged everything in reused fruit wrap for me. The pendant is made from a fragment of an old Chinese vase…

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was thrilled to find these Iranian plates at 64 Arab Street. Hand beaten, hand painted copper, and very affordable…

I travelled to Singapore with my Keep Cup and cloth napkins, the latter making my sister laugh on several occasions.

She thought it was hilarious when I insisted that stall holders put items directly on to my napkin rather than into a takeaway box – after all, I planned to eat them straight away! I washed our napkins each night in our bathroom sink, and they were dry and ready to go the next morning. No ironing needed…

Lastly, I managed to attend all three weddings last year wearing as much eco-friendly fashion as possible. For Nick and Rachel’s, I wore my recycled sari jacket from Cash Palace Emporium, my Chinese vase pendant and the most gorgeous earrings, which I bought from Fold Formations at a Sydney market before I left.

Kirsty Gorman makes her jewellery entirely from reclaimed materials – even the hooks are recycled sterling silver. The fuschias were carefully crafted from rescued bathroom copper, anodized to create different hues and then trimmed, shaped and assembled. Best of all, they tinkle when I shake my head…

The earrings were labour intensive and therefore expensive, but I’ve worn them half a dozen times since I bought them in December. And I think it’s important that we support young artists who work so hard at being sustainable…

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What a long post – if you’ve made it all the way to the end, thank you! It was a lovely, fun-filled holiday and a wonderful way to end 2018! ♥

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My beloved niece Sweet Pea flew back early from London to Singapore, just to spend a couple of extra days with me. Later that week, still recovering from jetlag, the darling girl took me to Gardens by the Bay, a magnificent, sprawling green space filled with carefully curated horticulture and contemporary art…

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We began our explore on the 22 metre high OCBC Skyway in the Supertree Grove. No stairs – except for emergencies – just a comfortable lift ride up to the canopy and glorious views over Singapore…

I’m always intrigued by the colours of a country – whereas I think of Australia in terms of bright sunlight and red soils and distinctive blue skies and seas, Singapore is amazing shades of lush greens and brilliant orchid pinks…

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The outdoor spaces were filled with interesting trees and plants – I found these twirly cactuses particularly fascinating…

And cannonball trees! Walk underneath with caution…

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When the heat and humidity got too much, we escaped into the air-conditioned Cloud Forest. A multi-storey waterfall greeted us at the entrance – we quickly scooted past the scores of tourists taking selfies…

 

The exhibit is huge (0.8 ha) and filled with tropical highland plants normally found at 2000 metres above sea level. It was such a joy to see specimens that I’d never have the chance to otherwise, like these stunning Andean orchids…

An entire level of the Cloud Forest is dedicated to carnivorous plants…I squealed with excitement when I saw pitcher plants…

Venus fly traps, magnified under glass…

These metre-long leaves caught my attention…they have deep curved ridges to allow water to run off them…

Wonderful artworks are discreetly and appropriately placed throughout the exhibits…

As we were leaving the Cloud Forest, having descended from the top of the 35 metre mountain to the very bottom, we passed this beautiful secret vista beneath the waterfall…

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Our next stop was the Flower Dome. As you’d expect, it was also filled with magnificent flowers…

…and quirky art…

…but what I really wanted to see were the trees. Like this Australian Baobab…

The Argentinian Palo Borracho (Bottle Tree, also known as the Drunken Tree) belongs to the cotton family…

Elephant’s Foot plant – aptly named, I think…

And possibly my favourite plant in the Flower Dome, this South African Paddle Plant…

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After a morning of walking, Sweet Pea and I stopped at Satay by the Bay, a food court  located within the Gardens. It was full of stalls offering very affordable local fare, and I was chuffed to find my favourite popiah ($3) and teh tarik ($1.50) there. An excellent end to a truly excellent morning…

Thank you, darling Sweet Pea, for spending so much time with me! I love you to the moon and back! And if you’re a plant lover and find yourself with a little spare time in Singapore, then I highly recommend Gardens by the Bay. Try to go in the morning – most Singaporeans are night owls, so you’ll have a better chance of avoiding the crowds if you go early!

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Sydney Blue

Whenever I’m away from Sydney, it’s the blue that I miss – I think the colour of our sky and seas is very distinctive. Here are a few autumnal photos from my morning walks, and a recent visit to the beach. It’s actually raining this morning, so it seemed a good day to post them.

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When the sun appears after a few days of rain, it’s impossible to take a bad photo on the Inner West Bay Run…

On clear, still days, we get sky mirrors to rival Anish Kapoor

I see the same vista almost every weekday morning, but the colours and textures change subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) from day to day…

We don’t have narrowboats in our canal, but over a hundred years ago, a ferry service into the city left from this point…

Finally, a couple of photos from our recent visit to Mistral Point in Maroubra…

It’s always a joy to be able to stand at the edge of our island continent and marvel at the magnificence of the Pacific Ocean…

Have a lovely weekend, folks! ♥

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Sunrise

I promise I haven’t disappeared, but it’s been a hectic (and fun) few weeks!

I’ve still been walking though, and this sunrise was just too pretty not to share with you. It was taken with my iPhone at 7am. If you click on the image, a much larger version will open and you’ll be able to see the gloriousness that greeted Big Boy and I this morning.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon to catch you up on what’s been happening! ♥

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Last week, my adorable niece Sweet Pea came for a visit. It was a joy to have her in town, even for just a few days.

On Thursday, I took her and Monkey Girl (Big Boy’s girlfriend) to Pipilotti Rist’s Sip My Ocean, the newest ticketed exhibition at the MCA. The second floor of the museum has been transformed into an amazing mix of colour, light, sound and movement. Swiss artist Rist’s projections combine everyday items with audio-visual projections, turning them into something new and magical. Like this saggy underwear chandelier…

Much of the art was interactive and immersive – visitors were invited to sit on sofas, at the dining table, and even to climb into this queen sized bed…

Set with crockery and cutlery, this dining table featured a constantly changing kaleidoscopic projection…

Perhaps my favourite artwork (although I loved them all), was this two inch hole in the floor through which a naked woman called out from her tiny fiery hell below. It was literally the size of a 50c piece and went unnoticed by many…

I had to laugh at the gender differences in our family – when I take Big Boy and Small Man to art galleries, they’re inclined to look for a few minutes and then move on. By contrast, it took forever to drag Sweet Pea and Monkey Girl out of Pixelwald (Pixel Forest) – the quest for the perfect selfie takes time!

I gave in and joined them…

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Pipilotti Rist’s Sip My Ocean is on until 18th February 2018 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in the Rocks, Sydney. Tickets are $22 for adults, $17 concession. Definitely worth a visit if you get a chance!

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