Monday, March 25, 2013

Gardens by the Bay


WOW what a great trip I took today! I went to the Gardens by the Bay. There are 2 huge domes that are air conditioned. They are the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. The Flower Dome is filled with plants and flowers from all over the world. The Cloud Forest is much cooler and has waterfalls and cloud formations. Climbing up into the clouds is lots of fun but eerie.
Outside of the domes are the Super Trees. At night they are all lit up and there is music as you walk around them. You can even climb up them on skywalks. I did not have time to stay for the light show but I will definitely be back.
The flowers are so beautiful, anyone can take pictures and look like a professional photographer.




Monday, March 18, 2013

I almost got caught!

My Mom and Dad went out for dinner with Samantha and her boyfriend, Alexei so I figured it was a good time for me to take a night trip of my own. I ended up at a neat little hawker center located in a public housing area (HDB) called the Ghim Moh Road Market Food Center. The cornerstone vendor is Master Crab the Crab Specialist.
The place was packed with people from all walks of life. A German Shepherd was roaming around the area and spotted me. I was afraid of him because he was so big. I arched my back and hissed at him but he was not concerned at all. He calmly said, "Was ist los mein lieber?" I answered, "I don't speak German!"
"I just asked you, what is happening my dear?" he stated in perfect English. "My name is Hans. You looked German so I thought you would understand."
It looked like he was not going to eat my head off so I calmed down and remarked, "My name is Purrla and I am not your dear! By the way, how many languages do you speak?"
"Besides German and English I also speak Chinese and French". He added, "As you know, Purrla, we can't speak with humans but it is good that we can communicate with animals from different parts of the world."
I was impressed with his sophistication. He is quite a worldly dog. He showed me around and then asked if I wanted to try some Chili Crabs, the speciality of the house.
I was concerned they would be too spicy so he suggested the Crab with Salted Egg.
He walked me to the back of the restaurant and a very nice lady put out some of each crab for us. I figured out Hans must have a lot of girlfriends since he knew in advance what the lady was going to put out and that she would have enough for two.
I tried both kinds of crab and found that the Chili Crab was not too hot for me but I still  preferred the salted egg ones. The problem was that they were so very messy. I got sauce all over my face...But it was soooo good.
After we got all cleaned up we walked back out front.
As we turned the corner I GOT THE SHOCK OF MY LIFE!
Mom, Dad, Samantha and Alexei were at the same restaurant!
I turned to Hans and told him I really had a good time but my people are here and they do not know I know how to sneak out of my house.
He responded, "Come back to see me dear Purrla."
I ran as fast as I could to the bus stop and arrived back to the condo just a few minutes  before my parents got home.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mulan is not just a cartoon

After returning home from my quick trip through Chinese Gardens I started to reflect on what my gracious host, Izzy the monitor lizard, showed me. As we rushed through the park, I remembered at one point passing some statues of famous Chinese heroes. Izzy specifically pointed out Confucius but I thought I remembered seeing a statue of Mulan as well. I needed to go back to the gardens to be sure.

I knew about Mulan by watching the Disney cartoon about a Chinese girl who pretended to be a man and went to war for 12 years, never having her secret uncovered. It was one of my favorite movies that Samantha and I watched when I lived with her. I would sit in her lap and she would brush me while we watched. (I mostly liked the brushing part.)

I did a little research online and found an article by the Scribe of The Ancient Standard called "The Real Story of Mulan" dated June 17 2011. The "Real" Mulan was known as Fa Mulan in Cantonese and Hua Mulan in Mandarin. She was a character in a folktale about a  Chinese heroine that took her fathers place in a war because he was too weak to fight and she did not have any brothers. Wikipedia tells us the poem is called "The Ballad of Mulan" and it ends with the lines, " The male rabbit is swifter of foot, The eyes of the female are somewhat smaller. But when the two rabbits run side by side, How can you tell the female from the male?"
Pretty progressive for the 4th century...

Anyway, I had to take a trip back to Chinese Gardens to see if there really was a statue of Mulan there. I remembered which bus to take and the long walk through the field to enter the park. Unfortunately, Izzy was not there to greet me but I remembered where the statues were. I crossed the bridge, turned right and there she was!
I don't know if Mulan was a real person or not but I do know her story is an inspiration to me!


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Chinese Gardens, Singapore

What a great, educational trip I had today at the beautiful Chinese Gardens! The bus stopped right in front of the gardens but it was quite a long walk through a huge field to get to the entrance. The place was almost empty. I walked over a bridge and was met by a 4 foot long monitor lizard! I was startled by his huge size. I guess he sensed that because he remarked, "Don't be afraid you pretty cat. My name is Izzy and I am the official tour guide for animals that come to visit these beautiful gardens. Would you like me to show you around?"
"Thank you Izzy, I would really like that!" I replied. "My name is Purrla."
The first exhibit  he showed me was the 7 floor high pagoda. Izzy told me he was too old and slow to climb the stairs but he encouraged me to go up to the top. The sky was clear so I got a birds eye view of the whole park. The trip down the circular steps made me a little dizzy but it was fun anyway.
When I got to the bottom I saw Izzy swimming in the lake. He said since it was so hot he thought he would take a dip.
Feeling refreshed, he climbed out of the water and took me on a whirlwind tour. We saw several smaller pagoda's, watched a man trimming bonsai trees (Some of which were 90 years old), a bunch of statues of important Chinese figures  including Confucius, lots of beautiful, brightly painted bridges and a small, well tended garden with statues of the the 12 animals of the zodiac. I was disappointed there is no cat in the Chinese zodiac. There isn't a lizard either but there is a dragon. Izzy claims big lizards like him are related to the dragon. (Kind of a stretch I thought to myself.)


It was time to go home. I bid my very thorough tour guide a fond farewell and told him I would like to come back sometime. He told he would like that and then slipped back into the lake and swam off.
There is a lot more to see in Singapore but the Chinese Gardens is a very calming place and well worth a return trip.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Black & Whites

Today I took a trip to Whitchurch Rd in the Essex Estates section of Singapore. There are some restored "black and whites" in the area.
"The age of the black and whites spanned from approximately 1898 - 1941 during the time of British-occupied Singapore.The homes were constructed to fit the equatorial lifestyle. An overhanging roof kept direct sun from entering the rooms but since floors were only one or two rooms deep, plenty of light was allowed to flow through the space. For the safety of the occupants, the private living spaces were placed on the second floor (back then even tigers roamed the island) and there were plenty of shuttered windows to allow for breezes and protect the home from sudden rain and wind storms. The open floor plan of the main level made it ideal for entertaining and to allow breeze to flow through the home.
After World War II, when the British troops lost (badly) to the Japanese, many of the black and whites were abandoned by their occupants and reoccupied by new Japanese commanders. Some Singaporeans are old enough to remember those days and rumor has it they refuse to live in such "haunted" homes. Many of these properties have since been restored and are highly coveted, particularly by expats: their unusually large square footage and surrounding property are the envy of apartment dwellers throughout the country. There may not be any tigers roaming wild in Singapore but the modern black and white home dweller still has the jungle at their footstep. It's quite common for homeowners to battle monkeys, snakes, bats, and monitor lizards as well as the more common problems of mold and insects."

As I was walking through the beautiful, lush area I started to get hungry. I spotted a small restaurant hidden within a tropical setting and decided to "See what was cooking."
I was met at the entrance of the Colbar (Colonial Bar) Cafe by a calico cat who had the run of the place. He introduced himself as Samuel but said the owners of the cafe called him Yum Yum. He is a real gentleman of a cat who gave me a tour and explained the background of the place. The restaurant has a long history but had to be moved to it's present location due to the never-ending construction in Singapore. Lots of expats like to frequent it due to it's menu featuring Western and Asian comfort foods and it's ambiance.  There is no A/C but lots of fans whirring around. Humans order their choices at a counter, are given a number, and told to grab a table. The food is then delivered piping hot.
Samuel asked me if I was hungry and I told him I was starving. He said, "Follow me my lady and you will get plenty to eat."
We sauntered around the tables in the veranda area and a guy yells out, "Yum Yum, you got a girl friend with ya? Come get something to eat."
With that everyone started to offer us food from their plates. I had a taste of sausage and eggs, fish and chips, fish curry with rice, and someone even spooned some of her milkshake on a plate for me to lap up! I was stuffed!
I hated to leave but I needed to sneak on the bus back home before my folks knew I was gone. What a great day I had meeting Samuel, eating at the Colbar Cafe and visiting the historic black and whites.


" " Julian Davison, Apartment Therapy, Feb 24 2012


Monday, March 4, 2013

Travel on a Double Decker


When I first started my adventures in Singapore I didn't stray far from my home. As I got bolder I wanted to expand the diameter of my roaming so I realized walking was making me too tired. I wanted to take the MRT (subway/monorail) but it was always too crowded and I was sure to get caught.
As I was scoping out my neighborhood one day I stumbled into a bus depot only 1.5 kilometers from my home. This was my answer! Regular busses would work but double deckers  turned out to be great to travel on. I can jump on one at the depot when it is empty and hide upstairs before the Bus Captain ( the drivers are not merely called drivers here...) gets on to make his next run. The whole point of my exploring is to see and experience new things and I don't believe in schedules or plans so it really does not matter where the bus is going. All the buses go on circular routes so I can jump on and off a bus wherever I want to. I just have to remember which route number I am traveling on so I can be sure to sneak back on the same number to return to the depot.
I also like double deckers because the view is great. I can see far enough ahead on the route to give me plenty of time to slip down the stairs and remain undetected before jumping off at a stop of my choice. Sometimes I don't bother jumping off. I stayed on the bus when we passed the Marina Bay Sands. It is an " Integrated Resort fronting Marina Bay. Developed by Las Vegas Sands, and is billed as the world's most expensive standalone casino property at S$8 billion, including cost of the prime land." By the way, for obvious reasons the nickname for the building is 'The big curved boat!'

I guess kitties in Singapore are not as curious as I am because I never see any other ones stowing away on busses like I do...

" " info from Wikipedia