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…
17 October 2009
Diwali or Dīpāvali (Sanskrit: a row of lamps) is a significant festival in Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, and an official holiday in India. Adherents of these religions celebrate Diwali as the Festival of Lights. They light diyas – cotton string wicks inserted in small clay pots filled with oil – to signify victory of good over the evil within an individual.
In Hinduism, across many parts of India and Nepal, it is the homecoming of Rama after a 14-year exile in the forest and his victory over Ravana. In the legend, the people of Ayodhya (the capital of his kingdom) welcomed Rama by lighting rows (avali) of lamps (dĭpa), thus its name: dīpāwali. In South India, it marks the victory of Krishna over Narakasura. Over time, this word transformed into Diwali in Hindi and Dipawali in Nepali, but still retained its original form in South and East Indian Languages. In Dravidian languages it is called as Deepavali and the same is used in Malaysia and Singapore.
Diwali has been significant in Sikhism since the illumination of the town of Amritsar commemorating the return of Guru Har Gobind Ji (1595-1644), the sixth Guru of Sikhism, who was imprisoned along with 52 other Hindu kings at Fort Gwalior by Emperor Jahangir. After freeing the other prisoners, he went to the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in the holy city of Amritsar, where he was welcomed happily by the people who lit candles and divas to greet the Guru. Because of this, Sikhs often refer to Diwali also as Bandi Chhorh Divas - “the day of release of detainees.”
In India and Nepal, Diwali is now considered to be a national festival, and the aesthetic aspect of the festival is enjoyed by most Indians and Nepalese regardless of faith.
On the day of Diwali / Deepavali, many wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks. Some North Indian business communities start their financial year on Diwali and new account books are opened on this day.
Mr Whattaworld would like to greet all his Hindu friends a Happy Deepavali (or Diwali) – the festival of lights this year falls on a Saturday so there will be no holiday from work here in Singapore. However, for us in the company, there will be an additional off in lieu credit which will accrue into our leave balance. This could only mean more holidays for me…
27 September 2009
Each year here in Singapore, the cultural enclaves of Kampong Glam, Chinatown and Little India come alive in a festive mood to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and Deepavali. Along with it are various performances, bright lights, street bazaars, free walking tours and culinary delights.
The Singapore Tourism Board has been promoting the One City Three Festival Event for the past two years already. This festival aimed to showcase the unique heritage of this small nation to both tourist and foreigners (such as me) who are living in Singapore.
As mentioned, free-guided walking tours in the three ethnic precincts have been prepared for everyone interested. This 45 minute tour is available daily from 18 Sep – 11 Oct (except 19 Sep and 3 Oct). All you have to do is show up and register at the meeting place 10 minutes before the tour starts.
5:00pm 6:00pm 6:30pm 7:00pm
Meeting place: Malay Heritage Center
4:30pm 5:00pm 6:30pm 7:00pm 7:30pm 8:00pm
Meeting point: Chinatown Heritage Center
6:00pm 6:30pm 7:00pm 7:30pm
Meeting point: The Verge (formerly Tekka Mall)
If you are not available on the various schedules above, you can be able to do some exploration at your own pace by downloading the self-guided walking map HERE.
If walking in not your cup of tea, the breezy open-top light-up bus ride is available for you to enjoy the festive lights and sounds in three places mentioned above. This hour long bus tour is available at just 5 SGD. Just like the walking tour above, this is available also from 18 Sep – 11 Oct (except 19 Sep and 3 Oct). The bus departs half-hourly at the Chinatown Heritage Center beginning from 7:30pm until 10:00pm.
I recommend these festive deals to all those tourists who will be coming over to Singapore and even those working here. It is fun, and most of all it doesn’t cost too much. Definitely in the next few week, I will be donning my tourist hat and will be taking advantage of these offers while they are still available.
25 September 2009
I have always been a fan of the Formula One Racing. I can still remember during my high school and college days, my dad and I would often save selected Sundays to watch an F1 Race live on television. During those days, as far as I can remember, the races rotated mainly on the rivalry between Michael Schumacher and Mika Häkkinen.
The first Singapore Grand Prix to be part of the Formula One Championship happened in 2008, it was well received by fans around the world, as it was the only race to be held at night. The venue for this event was the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Sadly, I was not able to join the inaugural race last year.
Moving forward to the event this year, at first I did not have any interest at all in watching the race live as it was a bit costly to get good tickets. However, I said to myself, why not just experience watching even just the Friday night practice session with a walkabout ticket?
I got our tickets just some days ago at around four in the morning while I was on my way to the apartment from work. The driver of the Mercedes taxi and I were having small chats about the upcoming race and I briefly mentioned that I wanted to watch the event on Friday but I did not have the tickets yet. He offered me two single day walkabout tickets for 100 SGD (retails at 38 SGD per piece but as of that time, it was already sold out), I didn’t accept it at first and offered a much lower price. My haggling didn’t do wonder here as I only managed to shave 5% off his offer. Nonetheless, I got my ticket and decided to call an early weekend in order to watch the event.
The 2009 version of this event promised to be even bigger from the first one with huge foreign acts such as Beyonce, The Black Eyed Peas, No Doubt, and among others taking part in the inaugural F1 Rocks concert taking place on September 24 to 26 at the Fort Canning Park. Inside the venue, there are several performances as well by notable names such as The Backstreet Boys, Chaka Khan and the Philippine’s very own Rivermaya Band.
Mr Whattaworld started very early for this event; I was already inside the Marina Bay Street Circuit at around 4:30 PM, very early considering the 1st round of practice starts at 6:00 PM. At this time, they were holding a practice session as well for the Aston Martin Asia Cup. I just stayed for a few minutes within the racetrack and after that I roamed around and take a look at the various stalls inside the venue.
There were various activities awaiting patrons inside; for those that are interested in purchasing F1 memorabilia, there are various booths all over the place selling original goods. I myself got a Felipe Massa Puma Ferrari T-Shirt. A bit pricey at 70 SGD but I liked the design and the color.
The various sponsors such as LG and SingTel had their very own booth inside. All of them had different tactics to lure the possible customers inside their booth. Singapore Tourism Board had its own booth their as well, a good move since there were a huge number of tourists coming in just for the night race who might be needing some assistance.
Food were also available inside (albeit a very inflated price); a whole variety of cuisine can be ordered within with a portion of the street very near the Padang Field converted into an open air hawker like eatery.
The two-practice session started on schedule and lasted 90 minutes each; we were very lucky enough to get good spot wherein we were really very close to the racetrack. The only drawback though was we were standing the whole time. It started out dull at first with cars appearing one at a time. Good thing though that after a while, it became more interesting with several cars popping in successively. The sound of the car engine and gearbox was both very loud and very different. A friend of mine said that the joy of watching the race in more on being able to hear the deafening sound and from this experience, I could say that he was partially true.
Although we got an excellent view of cars passing by, there was no way we could know what was happening from the other side of the racetrack apart from the two race announcers talking on the PA system. The roars of the car engine though always overpower their live narration. This was the reason why we were not aware that Romain Grosjean and Mark Webber crashed out of the practice session.
I tried to get some photos of the cars passing; unfortunately my camera has no match for the speed of drivers.
Overall, it was an evening well spent. I went back to the apartment partially deaf from the engine noise but was very satisfied. Finally, I was able to watch a Formula One Grand Prix Session live, such a truly marvelous experience. I am looking forward to the 2010 version in which I hope to get some grandstand tickets by then.