Thursday, December 29, 2011

A magical garden

It doesn't seem right but I'm posting it anyway. I drafted this in December & only just realised I had not posted it. A few months late.

Hope you are all enjoying the holiday season. We most certainly are. It's good to be back celebrating it with my family here in Singapore. On the other hand, I miss white Christmas (tropical Christmas just doesn't have the same feel about it), the oysters (a must for every year end celebration in France), the food (foie gras, charcuterie) & my French family.

Instead of jostling with the crowds along Orchard Road to see the Christmas lights, try doing it in Botanic Gardens. For the month of December, some 300 trees are lighted up in an event called Trees of the World. It's quiet, tranquil & just a little bit surreal. We had a picnic there one night & it was so much fun. It felt like our own private garden.

Nathaly's own creation
Wrapping paper for her Christmas present to me

Monday, December 26, 2011

Experience a moving masterpiece

I'm embarrassed to admit that I have not heard of what is otherwise known as the Mona Lisa of China - the legendary Qing Ming Shang He Tu. Shame on me especially since I can rattle off dozens of Western paintings & artists.

Over Christmas eve dinner, my brother raved about this exhibition & so we decided to check it out on Chrsitmas & I am so glad we did. It was really an amazing experience.

Qing Ming Shang He Tu (translated : Along the river during the Qing Ming Festival) was painted during the Song Dynasty some 900 years ago by Zhang Zhe Duan. It is a panoramic scroll painting of 5 metres & what makes this special are the details - a record of everyday life at that time - merchants, artisans, wine shops, camels, horses, sedan chairs, story teller, doctor, children.

For the World Expo 2010 Shanghai, the painting was digitally re-created with animation into what is known as "Moving Masterpiece" & making it the star attraction at the China Pavilion. The installation, 30 times bigger than the original, really has to be experienced. It's now in Singapore - after making its rounds to Taiwan & Macau.

The exhibition is divided into Pre-Show Hall - water, fire, earth, wood etc - gives visitors a background to life during the Song Dynasty - the commerce, the scholarly pursuits, urban & country lifestyle. Be sure to get an audio guide (part of the entrance fee).

Description of the Boat Men



Given that the painting is a National Treasury & insurance would have run into millions, the original is still in the Palace Museum in Beijing. This is the Stone Gate from the "Golden Scroll" copy.

Wholesale wine shop

Next stop, main hall. I was in awe - WOW the painting came alive. You could hear the sounds of the boat men, the characters moving around, the laugher of the children as they run around.....I was instantly drawn to the size of it. What is also amazing is the fact that they did both a day as well as a night scene.

Day Scene

Night Scene

The rainbow bridge
scene where a boat almost capsized

As with all Chinese scripts, you work from the right to left. The painting starts with the quiet countryside of willow trees, cottages, village & small boats. Moving along to the busy outskirts & then to the capital of Kaifeng.

I was so mesmerised. I stood at each section looking at both the day & night scenes.
The audio guide is excellent in drawing your attention to the details.

Follow the camel procession

The majestic city gate

The city well & the pharmacist

The horse drawn carriage

The bustling wine shop


Once in a lifetime experience

Monday, November 7, 2011

A taste of middle eastern

Admittedly I don't know Middle Eastern cuisine well but X is a big fan. So when we found ourselves wondering around RWS looking for a place to eat, he was immediately drawn to Anar. The belly dancing, I'm sure helped pique his interest too but unfortunately we were too early. I believe it starts from 8pm.

Once inside, you feel immediately transported into the movie set of the Arabian Nights.

A complimentary starter of feta cheese

with a complimentary serving of pita bread
(they charge $2.50 for additional serving which I thought was unnecessary considering the restaurant but that was my only complaint of the evening, everything else - the food & service is excellent)

X wanted to order this favorite Baba Ghanosh but the server highly recommended this instead. Also an eggplant dip. Excellent. We were happily dunking our bread in this

Hummus with minced beef
My favorite. Hummus is a chickpea puree perfectly complemented with bits of beef

Chicken livers - this was delicious.
All the starters appealed to us so we ordered 3.
Word of warning tho : the dips are rich & can fill you up especially if you eat with a lot of bread

Grilled Lamb Chops & Beef Medallions
Tasty & cooked just right but we still preferred the starters

A shot of their beautiful restroom
Will we return ? Absolutely !

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Buddha Tooth Temple

I must have passed by the Buddha Tooth Temple in Chinatown dozens of times yet last month was the first time I ventured inside. I followed a group of tourists so we won't be the only ones gawking & there were lots to *gawk* at.

The entrance facing South Bridge Road is called the Mountain Gate. See the pair of the dragon ornament on the roof top of the gate, cast by a Japanese. I know this because these are all explained in their very well designed website - by way of which I realised that there is a museum that we missed. Note to revisit.

They provide shawls for cover up in case you are not appropriately dressed. No shorts, miniskirts or revealing tops.

Even though I'm not of any particular faith, I'm always in awe of religious & spiritual places. This was no exception. The interior is opulent, to say the least.

The temple was completed at a cost of $75mio. These zodiac protectors are available for sponsorship. The website gives an extensive list of items that you can choose to sponsor - from floor tiles to ceiling boards, prayer wheels to lanterns.

The hall is pretty amazing.
We spent a lot of time taking it all in.

Prayers were starting
& it was time for us to leave

If you ever find yourself with some time to kill near Chinatown,
you know where you can go

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sentosa Boardwalk Day & Night

When we went to RWS for the Lion Dance Competition, we decided to use the new Boardwalk. Another excuse for the Girl to bring out her scooter. There are signs within Vivocity with directions.

You could walk or....

....use the travellator

There are also restaurants which we didn't have time to check out
since we didn't want to miss the show nor be exposed to the hot sun
It was a very hot day so we kept close to the covered walkway

It is very pretty

It was much more pleasant walking at night when it was cooler
& to see it all lighted up

See what I mean about the lights

Noting this down for future reference when we want to eat around that area