Disappearing Places: Sungei Road Thieves’ Market

Aerial View of a section of the Sungei Road Thieves’ Market.

Shortly after World War II, the area around Sungei Road grew to become a flea market. It eventually known as the Thieves’ Market due to the many stolen/contraband goods sold there. The saying goes that if your belongings got stolen, chances are that you can buy it back from there.

In the 1930’s, there was a ice factory—Singapore Ice Works—which is why the area is also known as Gek Sng Kio (literally Frosted Bridge in Hokkien.) Like most old things, the factory was torn down for redevelopment in the mid-80‘s. Continue reading

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Occupy Hong Kong Protests Part 2—Admiralty & Causeway Bay

Colourful Tents along Connaught Road Central at Admiralty, Hong Kong

Continuing from my short write-up about the protest site in Mong Kok, we move on to Admiralty, which is the main protest site and also where the protests began. The site is situated right outside the central government buildings and thus chosen by the protesters to make their point. Continue reading

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Occupy Hong Kong Protests Part 1—Mong Kok

Minion-themed rubbish bins along one of the barricades at Shan Tung Street, adding an element of fun and humour to the protests.

The Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong started on 28 Sep 2014 outside the Central Government Complex at Admiralty and soon spread to Mong Kok and Causeway Bay as well. Despite some bouts of clashes between the pro-democracy and anti-occupy protestors (which the mainstream media love to emphasise on), the protest appears to be a largely peaceful event. There were also poignant images of protesters shielding the policemen at the scene, despite them using teargas on the protesters. Continue reading

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Photo Flashback: Tiong Bahru Market in 2004

Signboard of the Tiong Bahru Cooked Food Centre, complete with a grammatical error!

Most Singaporeans will know, or even eaten at the Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre. Built in the 1950s as the Seng Poh Market by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT), it was the first to be built in a housing area. It houses many local delights such as Jian Bo Shui Kueh and Tiong Bahru Hokkien Mee.

In 2004, the old market was demolished to make way for the new one that we see today. While it was being rebuilt, the hawkers were relocated to a temporary location nearby. The new market was completed in May 2006.

I was doing some housekeeping of my photos when I came across a set of photos I’ve taken in 2004, just before the old market and food centre was demolished to make way for the new one we see today. I’m sharing some of them here in this blog post.

Tiong Bahru Roasted Pork Stall

Fruit stall

Two men take a break by the fish stall over drinks and cigarettes.

An elderly man walks past the outdoor dining area of the Tiong Bahru Food Centre

Jian Bo Shui Kueh, one of the most well-known stalls in the Tiong Bahru Food Centre.

Covered seating area

A couple enjoys their food at the indoor area of the Tiong Bahru Food Centre. Multiple arched columns support the roof of the covered areas.

Fried Kway Teow stall.

These two men enjoying their beer and food posed for a shot when they noticed me taking photos.

Toilet attendent. Pay toilets with a makeshift “stall” like these can still be found in some places today.

New highrise flats in the background contrasting with the soon-to-be-demolished Tiong Bahru Market

A woman walks past a group of men chatting on the five-foot way near the Tiong Bahru Market.

Newstand

A man dumps unwanted stuff outside the market.

The rebuilt Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre as it stands today.

You can find more photos of the old Tiong Bahru Market in my Flickr Album.

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“Blood Moon” Lunar Eclipse 8 Oct 2014

The partially eclipsed “Blood Moon” on 8 Oct 2014. This was shot near the end of the eclipse, when the moon finally became visible.

After having two Supermoons elude me this year, I can’t wait to capture the total lunar eclipse earlier tonight. Also called the “blood moon” due to its reddish colour during totality, the maximum eclipse is set to occur at 6:55pm Singapore Time, shortly after moonrise.

Unfortunately, just like last year’s Supermoon, our Indonesian farmers are clearing forests by burning again, causing our skies to be very hazy. I waited out at the rooftop of my office, hoping to catch a glimpse of the “blood moon” but it eluded me yet again. It looks like this year’s lunar events are all very camera shy.

I packed up, resigned to my fate that I’ll not ever see it and went for dinner with my colleagues. Lo and behold, it finally showed up while we were cruising along the Ayer Rajah Expressway. As I left the tripod at the office, thinking that I’ll not see the moon, I need another way to stabilise the camera. So after parking at the dinner location, I propped my Nikon V1 and 70-200mm f/4G VR on its hood on the roof of a pickup truck and took a few shots with the Nikon ML-L3 IR remote, one of which the one above. Other than basic exposure, contrast, noise reduction and cropping, no other processing is done. The haze has also contributed to the orangey colour of the moon, although it has passed the “blood moon” stage. By this time, I can no longer have any usable foreground interest, but hey, it’s better than nothing right?

The next blood moon will be on 4 Apr 2015. Hopefully I’ll have better luck then.

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Another Two Bit the Dust (Goodbye, Lavender Food Square)

Lavender Food Square

Today marks the last day of operation of the iconic Lavender Food Square – home to the (in)famous Kok Kee Wanton Noodles stall among others. Originally slated to close on 23 Sep 2014, the deadline has been extended to 30 Sep 2014 due to customer demand.

Together with the neighbouring Eminent Plaza, they will give way to ARC 360380, a 16-storey freehold development slated to be on sale by 2018. I don’t know much of the Lavender Food Square except Kok Kee Wanton Noodles, which I visited with friends eons ago. Nevertheless, it’s sad to see another part of old Singapore give way to yet another commercial project. I thus visited it on a Sunday afternoon to quickly document the place before it’s gone forever.

Over at Eminent Plaza, a group of graffiti artists have obtained permission to paint graffiti on the walls, in a project aptly titled “An Eminent Takeover”. The group consists of local artists who were in the Singapore Biennale 2013 as well as graduates from Lasalle and NAFA. It’s an excellent use of a building that’s about to be demolished and allows the artists a space to express themselves through their artwork.

I shall let the photos do the talking.

Patrons having a meal at the side of Lavender Food Square

Fork and Spoon Motif on the floor

Stained-glass Window

The long queue for Kok Kee Wanton Noodles

Stall-owners of Kok Kee Wanton Noodles preparing a plate of noodles for a customer.

Kok Kee Wanton Noodles – Though many people said that it’s overpriced and overrated, I still quite like it.

Hexagonal Roof

A couple leaves the Lavender Food Square after a meal

The rest are some of the graffiti at the Eminent Plaza.

Eminent Plaza with walls decorated with graffiti


Stairway to Heaven

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A Fiery and Musical Close to the Night Festival 2014

Visitors raise their cameras and smart phones to shoot the fire performance by Austrian group Phoenix Fire Dancers at the National Museum of Singapore during the 2nd last night of the Singapore Night Festival. They were accompanied by musicians from William Close’s Earth Harp Collective providing the musical sound track.

The 7th installation of Singapore Night Festival came to a close with a performance by Earth Harp musician William Close and the Phoenix Fire Dancers.

I was rather busy for the last couple of weeks ending with a long Friday and had originally intended to give it a miss as I was rather tired. However, after seeing photos of the rehearsals on Facebook, I decided that I shouldn’t miss out on this, so I dragged myself to the venue as there was still enough time to get there for the last performance of the night at 11:15pm.

William Close immersed in his music as he performs on his Earth Harp amidst coloured lights in the background.

Expectedly, there was a huge crowd when I arrived, but as the crowd from the previous show were leaving, I managed to squeeze my way in eventually. I’d have loved to be closer to the stage where Phoenix were performing but it was just too crowded to get there. Once again, I was right in front of William Close.

Rich Sherwood on the Drum Cloud

The pieces performed were the same as the 1st weekend of the Night Festival which I attended but what wowed me was the finale. As with the previous performance, Close did his own rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon in D on his Earth Harp, this time accompanied by a female vocalist.

The female vocalist and guitarist accompanying William Close in the last piece, a rendition of Pachelbel’s Canon in D.

Near the end, the Phoenix Fire Dancers from Austria came on stage with their fiery performance. Unfortunately, from my position, I was unable to see them. I did, however, see their pyrotechnics and laser beams. I realised many people in front of me were raising their cameras and smart phones to shoot, so I did likewise and took several shots.

The opening shot of this post turned out to be the best, clearly showing both the lit LCD screens, the pyrotechnics from Phoenix and the façade of the National Museum of Singapore. Together with the projection of the “Singapore Night Festival”, this helped to give some context of the event.

The performance sure didn’t disappoint. Looking forward to next year’s installation!

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Singapore Night Festival 2014 – Bold and Beautiful

Musician William Close plays on the “Earth Harp”, an instrument that he’s invented, at the front lawn of the Singapore National Museum during the Singapore Night Festival 2014.

The annual Singapore Night Festival is upon us again. This year is the 7th edition of the festival, and the theme is “Bold and Beautiful”. I wasn’t able to attend the media preview of the event this time due to work commitments and thus I have to squeeze with the public. Here are some of the installations which I found to be interesting.

Night Lights

Night Lights have been a crowd favourite in all the previous Night Festivals, with the light projections on the Singapore Art Museum drawing big crowds every night. This year is no different. Featuring a projection piece titled “Spirits of Nature” by WECOMEINPEACE from France, the installation transforms the façade of the Singapore Art Museum into something surreal, transforming you to another world.

Spirits of Nature, a Night Lights installation by WECOMEINPEACE (France) at the Singapore Night Festival 2014

Spirits of Nature, a Night Lights installation by WECOMEINPEACE (France) at the Singapore Night Festival 2014

Spirits of Nature, a Night Lights installation by WECOMEINPEACE (France) at the Singapore Night Festival 2014

Over at Cathay Green is an installation titled “Cynea”by Cumulus from France. It’s in the form of a large jellyfish with its tentacles forming a tent and illuminated by coloured lights. Visitors can go inside the tent and immerse themselves in the ever changing light display.

Cynea by Cumulus (France) viewed from a distance.

Visitors mingle inside the “Cynea” installation among the coloured lights and smoke.

Looking up from the inside of the “Cynea” installation.

Nearby, at the stairs outside the School of the Arts (SOTA) are some white umbrellas lit by coloured lights. Created by SOTA in collaboration with Lighting Planners Associates, the aptly titled “Umbrellas” forms coloured clusters of light at night. The umbrellas are a favourite of couples – many were seen talking selfies under them.

A couple takes a selfie under one of the umbrellas of the “Umbrellas” installation on the stairs outside the School of the Arts (SOTA).

Colourful clusters of umbrellas on the steps of the School of the Arts (SOTA).

Meanwhile, the mainground of the National Museum of Singapore is being watched by devine beings projected onto the trees. Created by French artist Clément Briend, the installation lends a somewhat surreal feel to the area. This still being the Ghost Festival, I am glad he used the more peaceful-looking, Buddha-like projections instead of something more creepy.

“Devine Trees” by Clément Briend (France)

Devine Trees by Clément Briend (France)

Interestingly, one of the installations is re-used from the recently-concluded i Light Marina Bay festival. This is titled “Insert Caption Please” by local artist Ryf.

Insert Caption Please by Ryf (Singapore)

William Close and the Earth Harp

To me, the highlight of this year’s festival has got to be William Close and his “Earth Harp”. It’s an instrument that he invented and it features a soundbox mounted on the stage, with several steel wires running back to the National Museum. Close mentioned that he’s even created one across a valley featuring 1,000ft strings!

Unlike a regular harp, where the strings are plucked to produce the notes, the Earth Harp is played with gloved hands coated with violin rosin stroking the strings longitudinally. This according to Close, produces “compression waves” which produces the cello-like sounds which we hear. This is similar to how sound is produced when running a wet finger along the rim of a wineglass.

William Close’s performance combines new age with classical melodies (including Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and Pachelbel’s Canon in D) as well as newly invented instruments like the “Drum Cloud” and the ”Drum Jacket”.

William Close plays on this Earth Harp. The cloud of rosin powder makes it look as if he’s some form of wizard, conjuring up magical melodies from the instrument.

William Close playing his Earth Harp.

William Close plays the “Drum Jacket”, a jacket with several drum pads stitched to it.

His drummer, Rich Sherwood is equally brilliant. Here’s him performing on the “Drum Cloud” (hmm, seem like everything is in the cloud now.)

Rich Sherwood playing the Drum Cloud.

Rich Sherwood plays the Drum Cloud.

William Close strikes a pose at the end of his last piece of the set.

Photos doesn’t quite do his performance justice, so here’s a video of William Close performing a piece inspired by Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

The Singapore Night Festival is held over two weekends – 22-23 Aug and 29-30 Aug 2014, so there’s still another weekend to catch the installations and performances. The Night Lights installations will be also be on throughout the week. Do catch it if you can!

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Victoria Concert Hall and Theatre Open House

Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall

After closing for four years for a major refurbishment costing S$158 million, the grand dame of Singapore’s performing arts venue – the Victoria Concert Hall and Theatre is finally open once again. An open house was held over the weekend of 19-20 July 2014 to let the public to check out the newly refurbished concert hall and theatre via a series of free performances. Continue reading

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Singapore Sports Hub Open House and One Year Countdown to SEA Games 2015 Fireworks

Fireworks light up the night sky in Singapore on 28 June 2014 to commemorate the opening of the Sports Hub and 1 year to the SEA Games 2015.

On 27th June 2014, the Singapore Sports Hub held an open house to its facilities. The same day also marks a year to go to the SEA Games 2015. While I was disappointed that the grand dame of the Sports Hub, the rebuilt National Stadium isn’t open to the public (so much for “Open House”), the fireworks in the evening helped lessen some of that disappointment. Continue reading

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