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Archive for the ‘travel photography’ Category

 

Durians.jpg

Durians in Chinatown.

 

 

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The Sri Mariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore and was founded in 1827, eight years after the East India Company established a trading settlement in Singapore. Today it is a stone’s throw from Singapore’s Central Business District.

The rural South Indian mother goddess Mariamman is a protector against diseases.

Sri Mariamman Temple.jpg

Views in Singapore’s Chinatown are a mix of the old and the new.

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Tanjong Beach

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A post-dinner cruise through Chinatown had myself and a few friends stumble on this site.

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“Huh,” we thought. “Is this legit?” Stephanie immediately chucked the boxes out of the way and sat down for a try.

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Unfortunately, the massage chair didn’t work. Massage chair uncle in his most stylish tee came out to troubleshoot the situation.

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Ahhhhhhhh. There we go.

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A few minutes later we were on our way having made a few new friends in this ambiguous shopfront.

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You know, just everyday life in Singapore Chinatown.

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My first trip to China was a long weekend in Shanghai last year. At the time I was still freelancing and I accompanied Husband on a business trip. Definitely an international city, I found myself intrigued by Shanghai’s style and culture.

I started my time in Shanghai with a walk down the Bund, the colonial riverside of Old Shanghai lined by historical buildings on the west and the Huangpu and financial district on the east. In the morning, the air was clear but by 4 pm, the haze had rolled in and the buildings weren’t very visible. Luckily, I had a chance to snap these shots in the morning.

Along the Bund.

Along the Bund.

Still along the Bund.

Along the Bund.

Worker

A Chinese worker has a smoke break near the Bund.

In China, red symbolizes prosperity and joy while white symbolizes death and mourning so it’s only fitting that a Chinese bride should wear red. This bride and groom were having their wedding portraits done along the Bund.

Bride

Bride

The riverfront walkway along the Bund underwent a major reconstruction in March 2010. The benefits are clear.

The Bund

Along the Bund.

the bund

Along the Bund.

I took a similar photo of a bull at Wall Street in NYC a few years ago.

Capitalism

A Nod to Capitalism

Continuing my walk, I ran into these fun guys dishing up some street snacks.

Durian

Weird fruit

I stumbled into People’s Park and found a man practicing his Mandarin characters.

People's Park

People’s Park

It took me a while to figure out what was going on with the hordes of people below. Eventually I came to the conclusion I was at a marriage market. Every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m parents of unmarried adults gather to try and play matchmaker. The gender gap in China has widened to make finding a suitable bride more and more difficult for Chinese men. This market has been ongoing since 2004.

Marriage Fair

Marriage Fair

All this walking was making me hungry so I made my way to Jiajiatangbao (90 Huanghe Lu) for xiaolongbao. I arrived just in time to miss the long queue and sat across from a sweet local couple who gave me tips on the art of eating the dumplings without spilling out the precious juices or burning my mouth.

Dumplings

Dumplings

There are plenty of temples in Shanghai. Later with Husband now in tow, we visited the Jing’an Temple just north of Jing’an Park.

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Jing’an Temple

temple

Jing’an Temple

temple

Jing’an Temple

museum

Pretty.

After the temple, we settled down into the lovely grass at Jing’an Park where we were promptly booted out by these officers. They were very strict about the “No sitting or standing on grass” policy. A shame, really. The grass was so nice and well cared for. I challenge you to resist temptation to sit on it.

Park police

The Law

We topped the evening off with cocktails and jazz, which is apparently live and well in Shanghai.

Jazz

Jazz

Until next time, Shanghai!

Editors note: Visas to China are required for many countries and can be expensive, particularly for Americans. If you plan on staying 72 hours or less, you may qualify for the 72-hour Transit Visa Exemption Program. Keep that in mind when booking tickets for a quick weekend and you could save yourself a few hundred dollars.

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Singapore is the closest I’ve ever lived to Australia. And it’s a good thing we’re here since a few good friends moved to Melbourne about 3 years ago. That and well, who doesn’t love Melbourne?

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The left bank.

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Blue sky day.

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Public transport.

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Street art outside tapas restaurant.

Sunshine, good food, art. But let’s be honest what it was really all about. Getting these two their presents.

presents.

presents.

The simple and versatile ribbon on string wins the day.

ribbon

Ribbon on string.

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You may remember that last year I was a little clueless when it came to Chinese New Year. I ended up ringing in the year of the snake with a last minute trip to Kuala Lumpur. My friend, Giselle, was barely more than a stranger to me at the time yet invited me along with her and her husband anyway.

Doesn’t that seem the nature of life here in Singapore? You meet someone and a week later you are hauling your bag on to a bus and settling down next to them for an adventure. Sometimes you part ways at the end and keep in touch as a formality on Facebook. In other cases, as is the case of Giselle, I was happy to make a friend to keep.

Our agenda was relaxed with a few things in mind, including Thean Hou Temple in its full New Year glory.

Thean Hou Temple

Thean Hou Temple

Thean Hou Temple

Heh, this sign made me laugh. By the end of day 1 we had made a game out of trying to get a taxi that would use it’s meter. We took turns approaching taxis and the one who got a driver that would use the meter won the round. Generally one out of every 4 taxi drivers would oblige.

taxi

Giselle studied art, so a trip to the Islamic Arts Museum was in order. The architecture of the building was a highlight.

Islamic Arts Museum

Onto the charming and chaotic Batu caves!

Batu Caves

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And of course, a trip to KL would not be complete without a view of the Petronas Towers.

petronastowers

Although there are quite a few sights to see in KL, one draw of the city is their affordable 4 and 5 star hotels. Might as well spend some time enjoying the facilities and take things slow. My travelling companions booked early and were able to get a deal at a top hotel. I, on the other hand, was last minute and had to go a bit more budget. With a pool like this, I didn’t feel a bit bad about the extra money saved.

Hotel

Impiana KLCC rooftop pool

2014 introduces the year of the horse. Once again, I found myself without plans. This time due to tentative work-related commitments. While husband and myself contemplated last minute bookings, we opted in the end for a staycation spent with new and old friends in similar situations. Sometimes its just nice to not rush around.

One thing remains the same between CNY of the snake and the horse: so.many.mandarins.

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I was in the US recently taking on some new work. Two things really struck me about being back in the US. The first was ERMAHGAWD, WINTER. Apparently I forgot what that felt like. The second thing was how the political atmosphere had changed. Marriage equality, healthcare, guns. It’s all happening. I submit this picture I took while entering the office as evidence.

Dear America, don't bring your guns to work

Dear America, don’t bring your guns to work

So strange to see these signs around, and even stranger that other people didn’t think they were strange. Or maybe 3+ years abroad has made me the strange one. Now there’s a philosophical question for you.

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I am practicing yoga in one of the gazebos at the Singapore Botanical Gardens with Monique in the morning. We are just transitioning into cobra pose when I hear her say “Is that a… monkey?”

I quickly become alert to my surroundings. “WHERE?” It took me several months to spot my first monkey in Singapore, but since then they seem to pop up more frequently.

Monkey versus swans at the Singapore Botanical Gardens

Monkey versus swan at the Singapore Botanical Gardens

This one was trudging it’s hand through the sand and muck looking for food. Obviously, the swans did not approve. I felt honored to witness such a show down and was fascinated, alongside many others.

Monique didn’t share my sentiment. “It’s scary to me that they are so happy to encroach upon human space,” she said.

Monique had previously lived near Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, where they are known to be a problem. They steal food, break things and even sneak into people’s homes. Being fed by curious humans only serves to exacerbate the problem as they get used to human food and start to associate things like plastic bags with food sources.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore is carrying out what they call “monkey control operations.” Monkeys that encroach on land occupied by humans are relocated or euthanized. Sadly, euthanization is more  common due to the tribal nature of monkeys. Tribes are usually wary of strangers and not likely to accept newcomers.

Animal rights groups are making a case for electric fencing to keep the monkeys at bay, but I wonder if Singaporeans are willing to accept this extra cost and responsibility, unless of course it’s instated by the government.

But to someone who isn’t from an area with these creatures roaming freely, the sight of a monkey is quite exciting and new. I see it on my friend’s faces and remember it in myself when I saw my first monkey on a trip to India five years ago. To someone who has seen monkeys before, seeing them interact with other animals like this is still quite cool. Um, that is unless you’ve had them go through your trash, like Monique.

My life has become The Nature Channel.

Editor’s note: read more about monkey problems in Singapore here and here.

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A cure for what ails you

Photo taken at a Chinese Medicine Shop near Ghim Moh Market, Singapore.

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