‘SINGAS’ the pearl of the orient.

The above photograph so represents what Singapore is, or should I say used to be. The fishing villages, the boats, the canals, the humidity, colonial buildings mixed in with shop houses and an eclectic mish mash of nationalities going about their daily business.

Pongal Point Cafe and restaurant. Photo courtesy of Lee Kip Lin and National Library Board.
Bugis Street. After about 10 pm this street would come alive and could be described as the underbelly of Singapore.
Photograph courtesy of nowhere.per.sg
Change Alley – One could obtain just about anything here and it was always the right place to exchange currencies.

I spent a lot of time in Singapore in the late 60’s and early 70’s when it went from a post war colonial outpost to a vibrant city. It was fascinating, alive with the remnants of all of Asia cocooned together on this tiny island. I loved every moment I had there, the Chinese Puppet Opera, Change alley, the smell of durians in season and Bugis Street. Water skiing from Mosquito Island off Pongal Point followed by a feast of cracked crab with chilli sauce and eased down with an icy cold Tiger beer. There are so many memories here and all of them good.

There was this story floating around the traps about the famous comedian Bob Hope who was passing through Singapore. As the flight steward opened the door of the aircraft, a waft of sickly sweet humid air entered the cabin. Bob Hope was heard to exclaim to his aide, “My God, what is that smell?”, the aide replied “I don’t know Bob, but it smells like shit!” to which Bob countered ” You’re right, but what have they done to it!” In those days they didn’t have the luxury of an air-conditioned air-bridge joining the fuselage of the aircraft to the terminal, passengers had to descend a set of steps wheeled up to the aircraft and then walk across the tarmac to the terminal and their first taste of Singapore was commonly called the smell of the Orient.

Cathay Cinema with the Cathay Hotel behind

Back in 1967, when I was in my early 20’s, I used to stay at the old colonial Cathay Hotel. Whilst consuming a cold beer in the bar as a new chum to Singapore, it felt as though I was living out a scene from a Somerset Maugham or Ernest Hemingway novel. As I said before, it was the 1960’s and the room was full of business people, military and naval personnel, civilian aircrew, tourists, expats. and locals, people from all walks of life really and this was what made it so fascinating. Unfortunately, All that is left of this grand old dame now is the facade fronting another shopping mall.

Living in this modern metropolis of Singapore is probably great for the locals and I don’t begrudge them one little bit, but for me, I’d rather have the colourful, post war ‘Singas’ with all of it’s smells and sounds any day, and I am happy that I had the fortune of spending some time there and still have the memories of what it was like.

Well, that was then and this is now.

Gardens by the Bay

And, as we herald in the modern era, the new city of Singapore is brightly lit at night with a mix of colonial and modern architecture and chock full of honey, just for the taking. As busy as a hive of bees.

Gardens by the Bay
A tribute to Singapore’s architecture.
Singapore taken from the cable car to Sentosa Island.

It is a modern city and therefore you would expect to see good modern architecture and you have it, lots of it, mixed in with the old British colonial and Asian shop-houses. It has an air of urgency about it and at the same time, the locals look perfectly relaxed.

Tanjong Katong

Ten minutes drive outside the CBD and it is as if you are in a different world, one with vertical living next to an array of restaurants and bars, with a similarity to the old Singapore.

This is getting out of control as I could go on and on but I won’t, ending this post here.

Information you may find important: https://www.visitsingapore.com/en_au/contact-us/

The 15 best Things to Do in Singapore: https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Attractions-g294265-Activities-Singapore.html

Jimmy Bee

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THE BIRTH OF A BRAND NEW DAY

“Sunrise paints the sky with pinks and the sunset with peaches. Cool to warm. So is the progression from childhood to old age.” 

― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/pink
Sunrise at Cleveland Point, Qld. Australia. Image captured by the author.

“HEARTWORK

Each day is born with a sunrise

and ends in a sunset, the same way we

open our eyes to see the light, 

and close them to hear the dark.

You have no control over

how your story begins or ends.

But by now, you should know that

all things have an ending.

Every spark returns to darkness.

Every sound returns to silence.

And every flower returns to sleep

with the earth.

The journey of the sun

and moon is predictable.

But yours, 

is your ultimate

ART.” 

― Suzy Kassem

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/sunrise

It has been said that a single photograph can be worth a thousand words and I cannot think of anything more to add to this post than what Suzy Kassem has already expressed .

Jimmy Bee

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TWO TREES

This short story/history lesson relates to Bruny Island, located off the south eastern coast of Tasmania. This island is now a favourite tourist destination because of its unique natural beauty as well as being known for it’s diverse range of fresh food from both land and sea.

This story is significant, compelling and symbolic.

There is nothing significant about these two gum trees, except they witnessed the arrival of white men on this land. They did not protest but stored what they saw within their wood and it would still remain hidden today except for a painting of the trees made by a white man, one of the first white men to tread this land, the leading artist from H.M.S. Providence under the command of Captain Bligh which anchored off this point in 1792.

I have copied the script accompanying a photograph of the original painting so that it would be easier to read and give some authenticity to my story.

These trees were not standing tall, they were not significant in their beauty. What is significant is the history that these two trees have witnessed in the past, what they have endured through storm and tempest over the years, standing proud on a windswept coast, a witness to a significant period of Tasmania’s history. I thought at the time “if only we could tap this source of knowledge, how richer we would be”. I also found the experience of photographing the above scene profoundly emotional knowing that it had been painted over two hundred years ago and had changed little in that time, almost as if time had stood still.

The above scene is a photograph of the source of fresh water known as the “watering place” marked on the charts of Captain Tobias Furneaux,( Adventure 1773) and again on Captain James Cook’s charts (Resolution, 1777). It was also referred to as Resolution creek and Resolution River at different times.

At the beginning of this post I stated ” The story is significant, compelling and symbolic.” Readers will put their own interpretation on this statement, but to me it is significant, as it was the first time that white man had put foot on this island. The story may not be compelling to all readers but to those with an appetite for history it probably would be. It is a symbol of man’s need to discover new places, new species, in fact, anything new.

This is just another view of the same beach and shows just how clean and clear the water is, much the same as it was all those years ago.

If you ever get the opportunity to visit Bruny Island, take it, you won’t regret it.

Jimmy Bee

SCARLET

“A study in scarlet eh? Why shouldn’t we use a little art jargon? There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.”…..Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes)

Did you know?

The color scarlet symbolizes courage, passion, force, joy and heat. In the earlier centuries, it was an expensive color that represented the upper classes of society and the wealthy. It is also a symbol of lust and sin, particularly prostitution and infidelity.

https://www.reference.com/science/color-scarlet-symbolize-132930312213eacc

Try to put a little colour into your world. Can you really imagine a grey world, one without an ounce of colour?

Jimmy Bee