Saturday, 20 June 2015

What a GUNDAM Saturday!

No. I'm not swearing. If you've never heard of GUNDAM, joined the club. Well, I heard about it since Sunday.

I supposed to go to Far East Plaza to attend an one of the 1st SG Street Festival (SSF) event of kendama competition (I haven't heard of Kendama either, and its another Japanese toy like GUNDAM). By the time I got there, the matches had finished. That's OK, there's always something to see on Orchard Rd, especially on the weekend.


As I'm walking down Orchard Rd, Lo and behold, I saw 2 giant toys (sorry action figures) standing outside the largest (at least the widest facade) Ngee Ann City shopping mall.

Zaku model, action figure, Singapore
giant-size ZAKU
Gundam model, action figure, Singapore
giant-size GUNDAM - aka good guy.

I know toys are big business these days, but I don't expect to be this big (nearly 3 storied building big). Guess what? They're for sale too! If you can afford that, you would have a house with enough space to put them in.

This is the 1st time I heard of GUMDAM or is it GUNPLA? According to the manufacturer's definition, Gundam + Plastic models = Gunpla. Whatever that means. Call me Mr. Spock, I do like to put everything into equations. Actually I prefer charts over equations. For example, I like to describe the relationship between wealth and happiness using a chart.

money and happiness relationship chart
Wealth and Happiness Relationship chart

Without money, you won't be happy living on the streets without warm showers, blankets, adequate food, dignity, and friends. Money only brings you happiness up to a point (indicated by "m"), and then after that, it plateaus, and doesn't increase as much happiness anymore. "m" is different for everyone, depending on factors like countries, cultures, upbringing, etc. You can thank me for not drawing any more charts for these factors.

I use a chart to illustrate that I like to use chart. I think everything can be expressed in a chart. Everything ! Math is universal.

I think I make my point. Sorry, I digress.

Naturally, I was drawn in by these 2 sentinels (or aliens who are going to conquer earth and enslaving mankind? Either way, I decide to check it out). I was sucked into this publicity event like the gravitational pull of an event horizon of a black hole.

Bandai model, action figure, promotion, Singapore

Japanese HI-MOCK model, action figure, Singapore
Japanese Gundam model, action figure, Singapore
Japanese HI-MOCK model, action figure, Singapore

ZAKU model, action figure, Singapore
This is not a toy gun! Your wallet or your life ! Your call ! (in Stephen Hawking's voice)

With that weakness of mine (or mind) I descend deeper into B2 of Takashimaya Square.

Takashimaya Square hold Japanese food fair from time to time. I'm a regular patron of their food, especially their delicious crackers. So it's not surprising that the Japanese manufacturer of these toys (I think they prefer to call it models) promote their products in Takashimaya Square.

As I was going down, the sound of heavy rock band got louder. It seems that the company spent money not just on their giant models, apparently, they also hire some popular rock band from Japan to play in the Square. Judging from the reaction of audience, the band is also well known in Singapore. Of course, I'm as familiar with the band as I'm with the GUNDAM toys (again, I swear that I'm not swearing. This is a honest GUNDAM truth).

Audience, Bandai model, action figure, Takashimaya Square, Singapore
Listening to the Japanese rock band in Takashimaya Square.

merchandise, Bandai model, action figure, Takashimaya Square, Singapore
Get some merchandise after the rock concert

BEARGGUY, Bandai model, action figure, Takashimaya Square, Singapore
Hey guy, she's the BEARGGIRL. No sorry, BEARGGUY III.
I'm just a little confused by his big kimono bow in the back.
Is this BEARGGUY designed for girls ?
GUNDAM video game, Takashimaya Square, Singapore
Let's blast the bad guy back to Universal Century 0079 (see? I know what I'm not clueless)

Kunio Okawara
The grown-up who designed these toys

ZAKU, Bandai model, action figure, Takashimaya Square, Singapore
How much is that ZAKU in the window? Woof!

Friday, 19 June 2015

Bugis Street Flea Market

As a kid growing up in the early 1980s - more than a decades before the web - the impression I had of Singapore was a place where transgenders roaming the streets! That impression stayed with me for quite awhile.

Transgenders, Bugis, Singapore
Source: National Archives of Singapore

Having lived here for more than 5 years, I realise this impression couldn't be more inaccurate (as far as Bugis St goes).

Trannies did roam Bugis Street in the 1950s to 80s, and was the biggest tourist draw. After all, what did Singapore have to offer back then? NYC has dirty graffiti filled metro trains, Amsterdam has De Wallen, Bangkok has Patpong, and Singapore has Bugis Street nightlife.

Well, Bugis Street still here because it isn't going anywhere, but as the whole Singapore's city centre and its fringes has been gentrified through government redevelopment project, Bugis Street is now looking more like Orchard Road (a very short Orchard Rd). Ladyboys are nowhere to be seen.

Bugis Street has lost its colourful past. Although tourists and tourism authority may have very different idea what's colourful. I wouldn't want somebody to describe me as a colourful character, even being so win me more friends. For a man, "colourful" could be another word for "clown"; for a woman a "tart", and for a country "third world".

Movie like Bugis Street (1995), made by HK gay director Yong Fan reminds us of the vanished world of Bugis Street.

Bugis Street movie poster

The only thing remains in Bugis Street today that connects to those nostalgic (g)olden days is the Bugis Street Flea Market. It was here to cater the influx of tourists who came to see the famous Parade of Transgenders. Of course, it's a spruced-up flea market with roof today. But the range of merchandise this flea market sells is still more or less the same: tourist souvenirs, knick-knack, snacks and bargains.

Bugis+ shopping mall, Bugis, Singapore
Bugis+ shopping mall, locates not far from Bugis Street Flea Market

Not long after I arrived in Singapore, we visited this flea market. On weekend, it's quite squeezy. If you can help it, come here on weekday. This crowd getting across the traffic light between the flea market and Bugis Junction can easily break record as the most packed in Singapore on weekend.

Bugis Street flea market, Singapore
The densest intersection's pedestrian crossing in Singapore (taken on weekday)

"Chinese burgers", Bugis street flea market, Singapore
"Chinese burgers"

sish kebab, Bugis street flea market, Singapore

This video takes you a quick tour of the main street of the flea market. There're many side streets branching from the main street. This is taken on weekday. On weekend, the crowd is considerably more.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Indian Heriatge Centre: My 1st Time

Just found out that I missed all the programs of the IHC cultural Fest that started on 8 May when the IHC (Indian Heritage Centre) opened. This is part of the many happenings that take place in this year of SG50.

IHC Cultural Fest poster

When I realised that one of the programs I missed was Traditional Trades Carnival on 15 to 17 May, I kicked myself, really hard. Luckily, I haven't practiced yoga for more than a decades. My foot missed my head by more than a metres. I was spared of the head concussion. And much more importantly, sore toe. But I pulled my thigh muscle in the self-kick.

Now for a very brief commercial..."No alarm, I've got Tiger Balm". (I'm not kidding. Before Singapore, I used something else for quick muscle pain relief. Now I'm fan of Tiger Balm.)

OK, I calmed myself down all these outrages with a meditation, which I have been practiced in my life 2.3 times longer than the period when I didn't.

There's no point to cry over spilled dahi. Until the end of the moth of May, the admission to IHC is free (after that, it's $4. So it won't break the bank).

Sculpture, Indian Heritage Centre, Singapore
Sculpture just outside the entrance to IGC

I was in Campbell Lane of Little India back in January for the Pongal Festival (read it and LOL). I saw the large snazzy, swanky, groovy looking building, and quite naturally I prematurely jumped the gun and thought that it was another upmarket shopping mall because they're as common in Singapore as mushrooms in Middle Earth (or where leprechauns live). It turned out to be the IHC building. Lucky I didn't make any bet with anyone.

IHC, Singapoore

It wasn't quite finished then, there were workers putting in finishing touches. Time flies in Singapore (I think the clock runs a little faster in Singapore due to Relativistic effect because it locates so close to the equator).

Anyway, I started my grand tour (or "grand tour" in French, German, or Italian) of IHC on L4, and worked my way down to L3. That was what the usher suggested. At the moment, only 2 levels are opened.

As soon as I got off either the lift or elevator (there's only one), I reckon you should proceed straight to watch the documentary on the history of Indian in Singapore. The doco was spoken in Tamil and then in English. I was there when it was run in Tamil, and I left when the doco started in English narration. I was too embarrassed to show that I couldn't understand Tamil. I think it would be better if they show the doco narrated in Tamil with English subtitles. It saves time and utter embarrassment.

Meanwhile...inside IHC...

In the hotel rooms in the ME, I saw arrows in the ceilings with the word "Qibla" next to it. That it's the direction to Mecca. The arrow points to the direction where a Muslim should face when he/she wants to pray. But if you have a Qiblar (or Kibla) indicator/locator such as the one below, you don't have to rely on the arrow in the ceiling.

Qiblar indicator, Indian Heritage Centre, Singapore
Qiblar compass or locator

Kavadi is the burden that the devotees carry during the Thaipusanm Festival similar to the one that I attended back in February this year.

Kavadi, Indian Heritage Centre, Singapore

To keep the visitors engaged and entertained, the museum provides a few activities. One such activity is to invite the visitors to try out different traditional hats from different regions of India.

Indian traditional headwear, Indian Heritage Centre, Singapore Indian traditional headwear, Indian Heritage Centre, Singapore Indian traditional headwear, Indian Heritage Centre, Singapore

I have no idea what's the name of the head-wear on the left photo is called, but I know this excruciatingly offensive looking and defensively intelligent (not defense intelligence) male model copied the moustache style from Salvador Dali.

The cap in the middle photo is Kashmiri Karakul Cap. The former Afghan president Hamid Karzai is often seen wearing this.

 The one in the right photo is, I'm guessing, Rajasthani turban.

By the way, the mo were added digitally. They weren't supplied by IHC. But if you have your own fake mo, why not bring it along for the photos? Mo adds an air of authority (or madness in the case of Dali).

Salvador Dali: "Who? Are you talking to me?"
Afghan President Hamid Karzai
President Karzai: "Yes! You with the gravity-defying mo!"

Meanwhile, just outside IHC in Campbell Lane, this was what I saw during the IHC Cultural Fest....

Rangoli, Campbell Lane, Singapore
Artist creating a rangoli

Board game of Snakes and Ladders, Campbell Lane, Singapore
Board game of Snakes and Ladders

It's quite easy to mistakenly thinking that this board game was invented by Parker Brothers. Well, it isn't. It's a traditional game that played by Indian for centuries.

Another game that's perhaps even more surprising that's invented by Indian is the game of Chess. But then if you know that Indian people is quite inventive in the mathematical field since ancient time, then the invention of this game shouldn't come as a surprise.

Chess board, Campbell Lane, Singapore

Ancient India also invented (or was it discovered?) the most important digit of all: 0 (zero). Zero - or nothing - is probably one of the most important concept in mathematics. It's said that the Egyptian and Babylonian may have predated the Indian in coming with this nil concept. But our modern adaption of zero in everyday practical application comes from India. That's quite something, isn't it?

Well, it's too difficult to show nothing (the concept of zero) in Campbell Lane. So I didn't see nothing about nothing on that day because we always find something are more interesting than nothing. But I think nothing is more interesting than anything. I've nothing more to say on the subject.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

DBS Marina Regatta 2015: Last Day

The 6-day DBS Marina Regatta came to an end today. I only came on the 1st day of the event, enjoyed it. But missed the other 4 days. I came so I wouldn't miss the last day.

Unlike the 1st day, this is a very nice cloudy days. Because of this nice weather, there're bigger turn-outs than the 1st day despite crowd competition from the Sports Hub.

A few tents had been removed for the urban beach. This also meant that with this open space, the zip line could now be operational.

Urban Beach, DBS Marina Regatta 2015, Singapore
Urban beach: best invention since swimming pool.

Zippadeedoo! Kid on the zip line ride.

Speaking of swimming pool, there was one next to the urban beach. But it isn't for swimming, but for various water sports matches. I missed a few of them, I got to see the stand-up paddling (or paddle-boarding).

Stand-up paddle-boarding, DBS Marina Regatta 2015, Singapore
Stand-up Paddle-boarding

Stand-up paddle-boarding, DBS Marina Regatta 2015, Singapore
For beginner, you can do kneel paddle-boarding. Baby steps.

On the 1st day, most of the blanket canvas on the Art Park was waiting for artists touches to bring them to life. On the last days, voila, feast your eyes, art lovers.

Art Park, DBS Marina Regatta 2015, Singapore

Art Paint, DBS Marina Regatta 2015, Singapore Art Park, DBS Marina Regatta 2015, Singapore

Yacht, DBS Marina Regatta 2015, Singapore
View of the yacht from the bottom

Urban beach and pool, DBS Marina Regatta 2015, Singapore
View of the urban beach from atop the yacht with sensational heavy dark clouds

Last but not least, there was cheer-leading performance by Wildcats.

Wildcats cheerleaders, DBS Marina Regatta 2015, Singapore Wildcats cheerleaders, DBS Marina Regatta 2015, Singapore Wildcats cheerleaders, DBS Marina Regatta 2015, Singapore

Wildcats cheerleaders, DBS Marina Regatta 2015, Singapore
Apparently, I was too heavy to be hoisted up for this photo. I had a very big lunch.