1 March 2010
I have always been a big fan of the culture of ancient Egypt. It all started when my mom read to me something about the curse of Tutankhamen; that was way back probably around twenty years ago. It was not a hard a hard decision to revisit the National Museum of Singapore one hot Sunday afternoon as they currently house a temporary exhibit about ancient Egypt.
Dubbed as Quest for Immortality – The World of Ancient Egypt, this exhibit offers an insight to how the ancient Egyptians perceived life and the afterlife. The life after death is very important to these ancient civilization and as such it was very important for them to make sure that adequate preparation were done in order to ensure a smooth transition of the dead from his earthly existence to the realm of immortality.
There are more than a hundred priceless artefacts spanning from 4500 BC to 950 BC in the exhibit; these includes statues of gods, jewelleries of the dead and tools for mummification. But perhaps the most interesting artefacts of them all were some real mummies. Yes, there were a couple of them bundled up by thick plaster and displayed. However these are not the grotesque version you may have probably seen in the encyclopaedias; needless to say, it is enough for me to tell myself that I have seen an Egyptian mummy in person myself.
This exhibit is currently ongoing until the 4th of April. The gallery is open from 9AM until 6PM. There is an entrance fee of 15 SGD that applies. Lucky for you if you have a Mastercard as there is a 50% discount to the entrance fee. A free guided tour is conducted everyday at 11:30am and 2:30pm (with an additional tour at 3:30pm every Sunday).
22 February 2010
I have always been a big fan of Thai Food; I remember the days back in Metro Manila wherein I would indulge myself in cheap authentic Thai Food after my MBA classes in Rockwell. Things were unfortunately different though when I relocated here in Singapore as so-called Thai Restaurants are either too expensive or are simply not at par with what I was used to then. This was the case until my beautiful girlfriend discovered this cheap and authentic Thai Hawker Stall in Bencoolen Street.
Thai Food is this unassuming stall at this unnamed hawker just in front of Hotel Bencoolen; for reference sake, I shall be naming this hawker as M11 @ Bencoolen since there was a signage within the area with that name printed. I can assume that this is run by Thais judging by the way they talk.
As they cannot speak English very well which was why we just pointed out from the menu what we wanted to eat. We ordered this dish called Moo Tawd Katiem (which is actually just fried sliced pork with garlic) and the very famous Tom Yum Goong (Thai Soup with Seafood) plus two servings of rice. I paid the bill and was surprised that it will only cost us 15 SGD; I remembered paying close to 30 SGD for a similar order in this famous Thai Outlet in the Esplanade several months back.
Service was actually quick and the food was ready in less than 10 minutes. I was happy to note that the serving size is quick large as I was expecting just a miniature dish that is good for only one person. The pork was very good; it was cooked just right, not too crispy and at the same time not too chewy. I would suppose that this would be a very good when paired with a cold glass of Tiger Beer. On the other hand, the Tom Yum Goong was just excellent. The soup was very sour, to the point that I can say that it is really authentic. Apart from the delicious soup, it was served with a very generous amount of fish, squid and prawn. Honestly, I would say that this is worth more than its 6 SGD price.
I ended up very full that Friday, so full I was that we decided to stroll around a bit before I took my bus ride back to my apartment. Since I was so impressed with what we ate, we popped by M11 @ Bencoolen again and had early dinner just before hearing mass – this was after just less than 48 hours since I discovered this place.
15 February 2010
Yesterday was the start of the Chinese New Year; so first and foremost, I would like to greet each and everyone Gong Xi Fa Cai. It is also opening of the much awaited casino of Resorts World located in Sentosa Island here in Singapore.
Resorts World Sentosa is an integrated resort with key attractions that includes one of Singapore’s two casinos, a Universal Studios theme park and the world’s largest oceanarium. Once fully operational, it will employ more than 10,000 people directly. The casino opened at exactly 12:18 on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, an auspicious time for local Chinese. I just learned that 12:18, when pronounced in the Cantonese dialect would mean prosperity.
Our friends, Nino and Nina, suggested the idea of visiting the establishment on its opening day. I first though that this would be crazy since I definitely know for a fact that it will be pure chaos as a lot of people will definitely be there on Day 1 – a proof of this was the sneak peak ticket for Universal Studio which was on put on sale a few days back which I heard was sold out in a matter of a few hours. Since we have nothing else do for this particular Sunday, we let curiosity overcome us and headed towards Sentosa Island.
As expected the queue was very long; we waited for more than half an hour before we stepped into the Sentosa Monorail. We alighted at the Waterfront Station, just a stop away from Vivo City. There were a lot of people immediately upon stepping out of the monorail; people of all races were there, some were trying their luck at the casino, some were just wandering around, some were shopping while some were on their way out of the island.
We were not able to visit the casino but I hope to be back there while I am still not liable to pay any entrance fee in order to enter the gambling area. Just for information, the Singapore government adopted a 100 SGD levy for all citizens and permanent residents – this is their so-called safeguard against any possible ill-effect of gambling to the island nation.
The integrated resorts is still not complete, in fact it may take a few more weeks before everything will really go full swing but nonetheless I would expect that this would be one of the newest attractions that should be able to help Singapore Tourism Board attain its goal of having at least 17 million visitors a year by 2015.
10 February 2010
Last weekend, I got the chance to attend the 2010 Singapore Airshow. This biennial event is considered as Asia’s largest aerospace and defence event and one of the top three airshows in the world. I was expecting much from this event since the previous airshow held in 2008 displayed a number of good air exhibitions which included the Airbus A380 making some rounds in the sky. Added to the fact that I have always been a very big fan of airplanes and flying – it is obvious to note that this event is one of the things that I have been looking forward to for Q1 2010.
It was a long way going to the Changi Exhibition Center where the event was held. I had to take a ride from my apartment going to the Changi International Airport; from the terminal, we had to take another 15 minutes shuttle ride going to the actual venue. It was two in the afternoon when we arrived, a full hour to go before the start of the much awaited air exhibition. We went inside the main building to cool ourselves from the scorching sun and at the same time wander around the various exhibits being displayed. People were everywhere inside, some of the were taking photos while some were queueing up to get closer to some static displays.
The afternoon air exhibition started on time and featured death defying stunt by the F-16 and the AH-64 Apache of the RSAF. Not to be outdone, the USAF did some stunts in their A-10 Thunderbolt – I must say this one is unique, the plane looks like a flying pig yet it can be able to maneuver with grace up in the sky. The final air exhibition was by the Italian firm, Alenia Aermacchi, using their new M-346. I was amazed by all the tight aerial exhibition but I was actually expecting some more stunts, like multiple birdies flying up in the sky and doing the same move all at the same time – I heard this was the case back in 2008. At any rate, I posted below a clip from the airshow courtesy of YouTube.
The air exhibition lasted for probably half an hour. Afterwards, I took a quick stroll outside the building to take a look at the various airplanes parked for the public to see and touch. There were a lot of fighter planes which I could not name, these were mostly from the RSAF and the USAF. A Boeing 737-800 was there on display courtesy Garuda Indonesia; the company is supposedly leveraging the airshow this week to spotlight its new livery and interior decor. This said display was open to the public and several people queue up in order to get a glimpse of the new interiors of the Indonesian airline. I did not stay too long in the tarmac as it was getting too hot then.
It was an experience to attend this event. Despite not being able to fully satify my expectation, I believe it was well worth the 20 SGD I spent on the ticket. If I will still be in this island then, I will definitely attend the 2012 edition of this airshow, hopefully it will be much better by then.
31 January 2010
As some of us may know, Singapore has a substantial number of people who are Hindu. These people are intense about their religion, and some of them takes some extraordinary measures to display their devotion – Thaipusam is an example of this.Yesterday, I witnessed this festival for the second time. This is a yearly event is celebrated by Tamils usually in January or February that commemorates a special day of worship to one of their god, Lord Muruga (also known as Subrahmanian). This deity is supposedly the universal granter of wishes. All those who wish to ask for a future favor, fulfill a vow in return for a granted favor, or to repent for past sins generally participate in this festival. I know a man who once participated in this festival in order to ask for a son; less than two years later, he got his son.
Thaipusam is most visually characterised by the procession in which devotees carry huge colorful shrines called kavadis. Sharp metal spikes and lots of hooks attached the kavadis which at the same time pierced into the body of the devotee. There were some people that showed their devotion by pulling along heavy shrines with religious images and icons by means of hooks pierced into their back. Most of these devotees have have multiple sharp piercings through their face or fruits hanging from hooks pierced onto their chest. Apart from this punishment in their flesh, these devotees had to endure the pain of marching barefooted for a good 4 km to get from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to the Chettiar Hindu Temple.
Gory as it may sound, it is amazing to note that through religious faith and trance, very little blood is shed. Occasionally, some of the devotees would go through a sudden trance and had to be helped or restrained by families or friends who are part of their entourage. It is said that intense preparation is needed in order to be successful in Thaipusam, these preparations includes sexual abstinence, a strict diet and of course lots of faith…