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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters is another famous rock formation in Australia. It is located near to Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales. The rocks formation is unique. The rocks stand side by side over the Jamison Valley. They sculpted by wind and rain constant erosion. Each rock has its own name, Meehni (922 m), Wimlah (918 m), and Gunnedoo (906 m). I think the three rocks may totally detach one day in the future because of the wind and water erosion over time.

Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo?? Which is which?

Waterfall with a rainbow ...

A folk tale says that the rocks represent three sisters, namely Meehni, Wimlah and Gunnedoo. The three sisters fell in love and wished to married three men from other tribe. However, the three couples were not allowed to get married by the tribal law. Then, a war between the two tribes erupted. To protect the three sisters from any harm, they were, then, turned to stones by a medicine man. The war killed the medicine man, as a result the three ladies were kept forever in the stones.

Fancy eastcoastlife as your servant? - WW

eastcoastlife : For hire

In the early days of colonisation in
Singapore, women dressed in black and white were a familiar sight on the streets. The locals called them Amah or ma jie (domestic servant). The Amah wore a white blouse and black trousers with her hair in a plait.

Coming from China, they were a proud lot. They took a vow of celibacy, they did not think they needed men for support. They were most highly regarded.

You could not find fault with them for anything because they did their work well. No one called them maids. Children in the family were respectful of their black-and-white amah. In their old age, some of the amahs would still hear from the children they raised. They were treated as family.

Amahs were loyal, trustworthy and totally reliable, a rare find for employers these days.


Thanks to all my voters for your votes this one month. I have come to the end of my wayang (acting). It has been fun ....... and thanks to the tremendous support I received from friends, readers, bloggers and people around me. Thanks for offering me your premises and getting me contacts. I couldn't include most of them in July but will continue to publish them.


Monday, July 28, 2008

eastcoastlife, the Samsui Woman - WW

Samsui women's reputation for resilience and hard work, embodies the spirit that has gone into the making of modern Singapore.

We came from a rural and extremely poor region to the west of Guangzhou, where three rivers, or 'three waters' (Samsui in Cantonese), flowed into one. A catastrophic flood in 1915 washed away many homes and livelihoods, making life more wretched.

I came in my teens. Most came alone. In the 1930s, after months at sea in grim and perilous conditions, when I stepped onto the Singapore pier, the road ahead seemed daunting indeed.

We worked hard to save money to support relatives whom we might never see again. Most Samsui women stayed single and lived very simply. Leading frugal lives, sharing accommodation and eating simple food. Determined to save every cent we could, we walked to or from work, gathered wood for cooking from around building sites and mended our clothes ourselves.

As we went to and from work on building sites in Singapore, people recognised us from our broad red hats and blue-black samfoo.

Samsui women worked very hard, we had to labour for around nine hours a day. Many couldn't read or write. We are used to others looking down on us....., because we carry mud.

(adapted from an article in The Straits Times)

My tribute to these sisters, many had a sad life. When they grew old, many were plagued by illnesses and died lonely.

Entertaining enough!?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Early Chinese settlers in Singapore.... starring eastcoastlife

Robust like bamboo, able to thrive in rich soil and stay alive in poor soil, the early Chinese immigrant had to bend and blend in to survive.

The beginning of a new life to uncertainties

Thousands of immigrants come to Singapore attracted by the economic activity and opportunities centred here. Many of the early migrants first set foot on the banks of Singapore River. Most of these people were Chinese, but there were also Indians and Malays.

The migrants and their descendants had to learn how to assimilate into their newly adopted land. They tried to preserve their identities while nurturing a relationship with the locals. Chinatown was largely occupied by Chinese.

At the Chinatown Heritage Centre, stories told are based on the real-life stories of former Chinatown residents.

cramped cubicle of a migrant

Life was much poorer and desperate. They lived in dark and cramped living quarters, which were usually overcrowded and disease-stricken. Loneliness and the hard life of the immigrants caused many of them to turn to opium smoking, prostitution, gambling and secret societies.

settings for a funeral

For some, they never get to see their homeland again. There were death houses, a place where the terminally ill and dying waited out their last days among coffins and offerings to the dead.

This coming 43rd National Day of Singapore, appreciate the spirit of adventure and enterprise of the early Chinese migrants who made countless sacrifices, seized opportunities amidst adversity, showed great fortitude and industry to make good in Singapore.

For my foreign friends, you can learn how one ethnic community can become so successful internationally.

The Chinatown Heritage Centre is a joint project between the Singapore Tourism Board and the National Heritage Board.

Special thanks to :

Chinatown Heritage Centre
48 Pagoda Street
Singapore 059207

Chinatown Heritage Centre Website: chinatownheritage.com.sg

Vintage Car Grand Prix 2008 - WS #34

Gleaming vintage cars....

Had to wake up the kids very early to catch the Vintage Car Grand Prix demonstration. A must for all vintage car lovers and avid photographers.

Can see, cannot touch

Besides the vintage car display, we witnessed the flag off by Sonny Rajah, our very own motor racing hero. We cheered on the racers as they manoeuvred their way down Connaught Drive.

Ready, get set... Go!!

It's the first time the kids were seeing real vintage cars. They were very fascinated. It's great that a few of the owners talked to them about their cars and allowed them a ride. :)

Don't forget to vote for eastcoastlife as it's only a few days left to the closing date. I engaged the help of a snake to help me get more votes. It isn't easy to manipulate it as it keep twisting here and there..... plus I was shaking with fear.

For the next few days, you will see some interesting pictures and posts of eastcoastlife.... Nude!? hmmm.....

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Indonesia Travel Tips II

Here are more tips for you ... You can read other tips in ‘Indonesia Travel Tips I

6. The staple food in Indonesia is steam rice. It is usually served with a variety side dishes. Most of the side dishes taste spicy. So if you can not tolerate spices, make sure you ask for non-spicy food before ordering. One more thing, make sure that you know exactly the prices of your food before ordering.
Then, do not drink from the tap water. The tap water here does not meet the requirement for safe drinking water. Keep a bottled water with you. You can purchase the bottled water from a supermarket.

7. As Indonesia is a hot and humid country; light clothing, like trousers, slack, shirt, is more comfortable. Avoid wearing halter-tops or shorts unless you are on the beach or around sport facilities area.

8. Do bargain when you buy souvenirs or hire a tour guide.

9. Public toilet here could also be a huge problem. Do not expect to find good and clean public toilet on the street, at bus terminals, train stations or even airports. Even for me, I try not to go to the public toilets unless I really really desperately need one. There are some good and clean public toilets in big shopping malls.

10. Most Indonesian can not speak English and most sign boards are in Indonesian. May be it is better if you are familiar with Indonesian words, such as: Good morning: Selamat pagi; Good afternoon: Selamat siang; Good night: Selamat malam; Buka: open; Tutup: closed; Masuk: enter; Keluar: exit; WC/Toilet: washroom; Wanita: ladies; Pria: gents; Kanan: right; Kiri: left; Pesan: order; Terima kasih: thank you; Makan: to eat; Minum: to drink; Air: water.

11. Lastly, do not forget to take note of these emergency phone number:
Police department: 110
Fire department: 113
Ambulance/ medical emergency: 118/119
Phone directory: 108

Well, those are all tips that I think may be useful for your trip to Indonesia. Even that the public facilities are not as good as you have in your home country; visiting and exploring Indonesia’s natural landscape and culture would broaden your horizon ... because everything here is just different and unique ...

Welcome to Indonesia!!

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Twelve Apostles

Welcome to the Twelve Apostles

The Twelve Apostles is an icon of Victoria state, Australia. The Twelve Apostles are a collection of huge natural limestone rocks in the Port Campbell National Park, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia. I went there when I was in Melbourne. I joined a guided tour to visit the rocks. I had not searched or read any information about this place at that time, so when I heard the name, Twelve Apostles, I expected to see something in total of 12.

The natural limestone rocks...

In the past, this place was known as the Sow and Piglets. I was told that the Sow was an island (Muttonbird Island) and the piglets were the surrounding rocks. It was, then, named the Twelve Apostles in 1950. The new name was aimed to captivate more tourists to visit this place. The rocks are the remaining parts of the limestone cliffs of the mainland that underwent million of years of continuous erosion by wind and waves. The rocks have different height and thickness.

So, then, I expected to see 12 rocks. You will not find 12 rocks. Even it has been named as The Twelve Apostles in 1950, there were only 9 rocks left at that time. Moreover, there was one more rock collapsed in 2005 due to waves erosion and only 8 rocks left since then. It is estimated that the rate of erosion at the base of the rocks is 2 cm every year. So, more rocks being collapsed and new rocks being formed can be expected.

Oh, one more thing, the best views at the Twelve apostles are during sunrise and sunset. You can see the Twelve Apostles change from dark in shadow to yellowish.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hanging of prisoners during the Japanese Occupation - PhotoHunt

Theme : Hanging

I'm doing a research on the Japanese Occupation of Singapore.

At the Singapore Art Museum, I watched this video where one prisoner who survived, talked about his agonising ordeal decades later.

He was thrown into a room (13 ft by 11ft) where there were 60 - 70 men, they were constantly beaten and had little to eat. Every one was just skin and bones.

Some mornings, he would be dragged out of the room, tied at the wrists and hung on a tree. He and some others would be hanging there for a day. No food, no water, come rain, come hot sun....

Around six o'clock in the evening, they would be released and dragged back to their cell.

By then, his wrists would be so swollen and bruised that he couldn't even picked up the bits of rice that was his dinner......

Peace, no War

Note : It is difficult to look for skinny, starved male models for the above picture, so I drew it. Still looking for male models for my photos, know any one suitable? hehe....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Indonesia Travel Tips I

Indonesia is the biggest archipelago in the world. It has 5 big islands, (Sumatera, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua); and many other thousands small islands. Yes ... it is a huge country. It is not only Bali or Jakarta :). I have some friends from overseas and most of them are only familiar with Bali or Jakarta. It has about 300 ethnic groups and each group has its own culture, tradition, and language. So you can imagine how rich Indonesia is in terms of its multi-ethnic cultures, traditions and languages ...

Travelling to Indonesia can be an adventurous unique experience for you, apart from travelling to Bali of course. I think Bali is the most traveller-friendly place in Indonesia.
Well, may be some general traveling tips from me can help you to prepare before your visit to Indonesia.
Here you go:

1. Basically, there are only two seasons here: drought season (June to October) and rainy season (November to March). We have sunshine the all year. The best time to visit is during drought season as you do not have to worry about the rain and floods. The general temperature is 21°C (41°F) - 33°C (62°F). Humidity is high at all times, on average of 70%. So sunblock lotion is a must to avoid sunburning.

2. There are three different time zones here, namely West Indonesia Time (WIB: Waktu Indonesia Barat), Central Indonesia Time (WITA: Waktu Indonesia Tengah), and East Indonesia Time (WIT :Waktu Indonesia Timur).
West Indonesia Time/ WIB is UTC/GMT + 7 hours includes Sumatera, Java (including Jakarta) and Western and Central Kalimantan.
Central Indonesia Time/ WITA is UTC/GMT + 8 hours includes Eastern and Southern Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Bali and Nusa Tenggara.
East Indonesia Time/ WIT is UTC/GMT + 9hours includes Maluku and Papua.
So, always check the local time if you travel across the different time zone cities.

3. For electricity, we use 220 Volts and a two-pronged plug.

4. To make calls or send emails to your hometown/ home country is quite easy. The long distance calls within Indonesia, international calls, facsimile and internet services are available in most of big cities and hotels If you have a limited budget to make a call, you can go to the telecommunication offices, known as WARTEL (Warung Telekomunikasi). It is cheaper than making a call from the hotel. There are also public internet services (WARNET) available in big cities.
You also can accept international calls from your home country. Indonesia country code is +62. Check with the hotel for the local area code, eg. Surabaya area code is 031.

5. Do not expect a good and cheap public transport services here :(. The cheap public transports, like ‘bemos’, ‘bajajs’, and busses, are crowded, not reliable and not safe. If you still want to try the public transports, just be aware to pick-pockets or robbery. Be careful with your belongings. There is a new public transport in Jakarta, Trans Jakarta Busway. I have not tried this bus, so I do not how good it is.
Alternatively, you can take metered-cabs (available in some big cities in Indonesia, like Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Solo, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Bali and Lampung) or rent a car (for the rest of other cities). Yup, it is a bit more expensive …
If you want to take a cab, hire a good one. Check with the hotel where you stay. Just be aware, there are some bad and unsafe taxis especially in Jakarta … the driver purposely takes you in the middle of traffic jam or does not take you through direct route to your destination … as a result, you have to pay extra.

If you want to rent a car, it is better to rent it with the driver. First, because we drive on the right hand side of the road here. So it would be a problem for you who are from the left-hand side driving country. Second, most of the road sign boards here are in Indonesian ... could be a problem if you do not familiar with Indonesian. Third, even you are the best driver in your home country, the traffic here is just crazy ... you will not only have to share your way with other lots of cars on the street, but also busses, bemos, motorcycles, bicycles, becaks (in some cities), people crossing the street etc, so you have to know artistically how to drive safely here. If you rent a car, then, it is important to know all the renting terms and conditions and the fare including fuel or driver meal.
In some big cities, you will find people sell food, snacks, drinks etc or singing beggar or beggar asking for money at the traffic light. Just wave your hand to them and do not open your window for safety reason ... just to avoid robbery.

More tips on the next post ...

Amazing Drink obtained by rubbing, squeezing and massaging - WW

washing aiyu (洗愛玉)

While gorging myself silly at the Taiwan Food Street, I saw this man repeatedly rubbing and submerging a tiny bag of seeds in a basin of cooled water. I stood in front of his stall to kaypoh observe .....

As the bag of seeds was squeezed and massaged, a slimy gel oozed out. After 3 minutes, no more of the yellowish tea coloured gel could be extracted. The contents of the bag was discarded. The washed gel is then left to set into a jelly. No need refrigeration!

jelly () is a jelly made from the gel on the seeds of a variety of fig (Ficus pumila var. awkeotsang) found in Taiwan.

Left picture : Dried inside out fruit of F. pumila var awkeotsang, ready to be used.

The jelly is usually served with honey and lemon juice. You can also add it to other sweetened beverages or shaved ice. In hot summers, it is particularly popular as a cool drink. Since the gel doesn't dissolve in hot water, aiyu is sometimes used as an ingredient in hot pot.

Thirst-quenching, appetising aiyu jelly drink! S$2

packets of aiyu seeds S$10 each, 3 for S$20

Said to be a healthy drink, good for our digestive system, I just love slurping it. Refreshing.

It's my favourite drink these few days! Excuse me while I get another cup.

*to the crowd of bystanders* Excuse me. Excuse me! EXCUSE ME!!!!

Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle ... it is beautiful, isn't it?

Leeds Castle is situated 6 km south east of Kent, England. The castle sets in 202 hectares of beautiful parkland and is surrounded by a natural lake. In the past, it was a Saxon royal manor which was then transformed into a castle by Robert de Crevecoeur in 1119. In 1278, the Castle became a royal palace for King Edward I. Since then, Leeds Castle has been the home of several queens and kings of England, including King Edward III, King Richard II, King Henry V, King Henry VIII.

The Castle was bought and privately owned by Lady Bailie in 1926. She redecorated the interior and exterior of the Castle. Then, she restored it in 1974 and opened the Castle to the public in 1976.

The ticket counter

Beautiful swans

The Castle exhibits the great collection of Medieval furnishings, tapestries and paintings. In addition to the Castle, there are many attractions here, such as Knights Realm playground, Chidren's turf maze, Hi Flyer static air balloon, Maze, Grotto, Dog collar museum, Falconry, Bird Aviary, Gardens, and Vineyard.

Apart from the Castle, I was interested to try the maze ... I wanted to challenge my brain. I entered the maze, even that I thought I was not smart enough to get to the exit ... but I managed to find the exit :). The maze was designed using 2,400 yew trees in 1988. I also loved and enjoyed its magnificent huge garden … the garden is superb!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

eastcoastlife sees RED!! - WW

Beijing Olympics 2008 is just round the corner. Excited? I am.
Oh boy, was I glad to see red at Asian Civilisations Museum!

Seeing Red: Propaganda and Material Culture in China
(1966 to 1976)

Chairman Mao

When I was in China, whenever someone mentioned the Chinese Cultural Revolution, many highly-educated mainlanders would see red! They would tell stories of how they were sent to do degrading manual work in the countryside. Stories of their humiliating sufferings and the witnessing of senseless beatings and killings chill my bones. The Chinese Cultural Revolution still holds a strong impact on today’s Chinese people. That was 10 years of Madness.

Admire Chairman Mao-inspired badges, books and porcelain items that are on displayed. These objects were circulated during the Cultural Revolution for the purposes of education and propaganda.

I love to collect them although most are copies. I know one elderly Chinese who has converted his study room into a mini Chairman Mao museum. I'm eyeing his porcelain collection that was specially made for Chairman Mao. :P

Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong, 毛主席语录

Commonly known as the The Little Red Book. More than 5 billion copies were printed then. It must be the most printed book in history!

Huh!? What does this red have to do with Chairman Mao?

haha..... just a couple who was having their wedding photos taken at this museum. Cool! Very innovative. It is a great place for wedding photos.

Wait!! Before you go rushing down with your photographer, please call and check with the museum first.

Seeing Red!
7 July 2008 – 12 Oct 2008
@ Level 2- Shaw Foundation Foyer, ACM Empress Place
1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555
Monday: 1pm – 7pm
Tuesday to Sunday: 9am – 7pm (to 9pm on Friday)
National Heritage Board

Loch Ness and Nessie

Have you ever heard somebody say that ‘his/her dreams come true’? I said the same thing when I had chance to go to the UK. Exploring and going around Europe is one of my dreams ... Yup, you can say that I am a big dreamer for having lots of dreams. So, when I had chance to go and stay for sometime in the UK, it is like dreams come true, especially when I visited places that I read during my childhood. One of those places is Loch Ness and its famous monster ‘Nessie’ myth. I always imagine what this monster actually looks like. I visited Loch Ness on my way to Inverness. I joined a guided tour from Scotland. The tour stopped by this place for half hour and the tour leader told us the tale about this lake.

Loch Ness ...

The existence of Loch Ness monster is still a controversy until now. Some people believe that Nessie resides in the water. Some people claimed that they have seen this monster and others say that it is only a myth.

The story began in 565 AD when St. Columba drove the monster away and gave command to it to stay in the water because it frightened St. Columba’s disciples when they were in their boat. It was the first recorded sighting of the monster. Then, the rumours spread far and wide that there is a creature live in the lake. There were also documentation from the 20th century about this monster, such as a photo of a slender head and neck rising above the surface of the water taken by a London surgeon or a survey that concluded there were an average of 20 monster sightings per year.

Until now, there is no firm evidence regarding the existence of Nessie. The controversy still goes on ... Whether Nessie exists or not, I still wish to visit this place one day if I have the chance ...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Taiwan Food Street in Singapore - WW

Taiwan Food Street in Bugis Junction

When I was in Taiwan, I fell in love with its street food. Imagine my surprise and delight when I discover a Taiwan Food Street, in Singapore!

Not only can we enjoy traditional Taiwanese street food and popular snacks, we can catch performing arts and even win exciting lucky draw prizes!

Queues in front of popular Taiwanese snack stall...

More than 30 stalls of yummy Taiwan Eats from smelly tofu, oyster noodle ( oyster mee sua), shaved ice, Fig Jelly, bouncy pork balls ..... etc. Lucky I'm in this area every day due to a project. I'm going to have Taiwanese food for a week! Yippee!

A skilful craftswoman making figurines from coloured dough

From Thursday, be entertained by Chinese yo-yo ( 扯铃 che ling) and pottery flute ( 陶笛 tao di) performers flown in from Taiwan. Watch Hokkien Opera( 歌仔戏 ge zai xi )during this weekend!

24 Jul 08 (Thu)
6pm & 7pm Pottery Flute & Chinese yo-yo Performance

25 - 27 Jul 08 (Fri - Sun)
4pm & 6pm Pottery Flute & Chinese yo-yo Performance
7pm Hokkien Opera
8pm Pottery Flute & Chinese yo-yo Performance

For this week only!

Taiwan Food Street - A Bugis Junction Food Festival Special

21 - 27 July 08
Hylam Street & Bugis Square, Level 1

This is not a sponsored post.