Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Bukit Timah Community Trail

For the last 3 months I have been working with National Heritage Board on the Bukit Timah Community Trail. This is the 3rd community trail I have helped to research and write for NHB. The first 2 were published last year - namely Balestier and Jalan Besar Community Trail.

This year, NJC approached NHB to consolidate a previously published set of 4 trails done by NJC as part of a cultural mapping project. As such, I got the opportunity to research deeper into the area which my dad and sisters grew up. It's also the first place where my mom lived after coming to the "mainland" from Pulau Ubin. I guess that's how my mom and dad met. They often recount stories of the places they dated around Bukit Timah.

Bukit Timah is a place close to my heart having gone there every Sunday after piano class at Jalan Jurong Kechil. My neighbor and babysitter also moved there when I was 12. My granddad lived off Sixth Avenue almost all of my life. I travelled down Dunearn Road and back on Bukit Timah Road everyday when I was studying at Whitley Road. Both my sisters studied at Nanyang Girls High School off King's Road where we would often go to Coronation Plaza afterwards. One of them later went to Hwachong Junior College also off BT.

Of course Bukit Timah Hill was our favourite haunt, not to mention Botanic Gardens where countless photos of me toddling around with swans and orchids fill the albums of my childhood. Beauty World was my favourite lunch haunt after piano class where my aunt will drive me. There was a rental bookshop in there that started me reading and gave me a constant source of Famous Five and other Enid Blyton books when I could not afford to buy them. The food at Beauty World top floor food center was of course famous. Later in my working life, my parents would often pick me up after work and we would eat the famous fish soup at Bukit Timah Food Center beside Pei Hwa. The sugarcane stall uncle was a family friend just as the sze char stall aunties are family friends from my grandparents time or simply people we know after decades of patronizing them.

Bukit Timah has so much memories for me. My first anniversary dinner in Singapore with my fiance was also at sixth avenue at the Brazilian churrascaria restaurant. When I was working on the other end of sixth avenue at the Holland/Jelita area, my parents would often drive us to the sze char shop near sixth avenue and pick up food on our way to my sister's place.

So much memories and only a trickle ended up in my little brochure about Bukit Timah. It's really just a highlights tour so I do apologize if your favourite haunt is missed out. Personally I could write a book about Bukit Timah and I might just end up writing a autobiography!

Yesterday at the launch, 2nd Minister for MICA, Dr Vivian B himself also grew up in Bukit Timah. In fact, he studied at NJC and is now MP for the Bukit Timah-Holland area. From reliable sources, he enjoyed the booklet immensely, hopefully as much as I did.

The launch took placed at Memories at Old Ford Factory. A fantastic place. Do check it out if you have the chance. It's not quite accessible but a short walk from the busstop really.

As part of the launch, it was my job to train some NJC students to guide the VIP entourage and media around Bukit Timah on a bus tour. There were 2 students on board as bus commentators and at selected sites, stationed guides give further elaborations and perhaps a short walk around. It was not an easy job, training guides. We provided visual aids and colorful stories. The caretaker's son at the Hoon San Temple was especially thrilled the minister visited. The kids though nervous had fun too. I am rather proud of them to have carried it off at such short notice, never mind the little mistakes here and there. It is over and we feel elated.

Apparently, I have been informed that my face appeared on the papers today, beside the NJC guides when they were introducing Masjid Al-Huda at Jalan Haji Alias yesterday. My dad kindly informed me that I looked like a schmuck. Hah probably too busy trying to make sure everything is going well to take note of photographers!

I must thank the many people who helped me. Lam Chun See and friend Peter Chan of Good Morning Yesterday and yesterday.sg were tremendous sources of oral history. My dad was of infinite help of course, driving me around to recce and providing me many stories. Victor Yue and friends at Taoism Singapore were absolutely helpful. Of course Ronni Pinsler who provided the picture of the Turf Club. What would I have done without them!

At the end of the day, where would I be without azure_v, my colleague at NHB who pulled me into the project. All the work she had to do, proofreading my careless mistakes and going through photos and layout. Hopefully she gets her well deserved break soon!

For a copy of the Bukit Timah Community Trail brochure or any of the previous Jalan Besar or Balestier publications, feel free to leave a comment, email or twitter me and I can pass them to you.

Photos of the events can be found at my flickr set.

Related Reads:
Bukit Timah Heritage Trail Launched, Channel News Asia, 23 July 2007
小册子助解武吉知马社区历史, Xin.sg, 23 July 2007 [Newsclip Video]
Take a stroll along Bukit Timah, Straits Times Interactive, 25 July 2007
寻找武吉知马的文化地图, Lianhe Zaobao, 24 Jul 2007
New History Trail for Old Bukit Timah, Straits Times, 24 July 2007

Read full article here

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Launch of Harry Potter 7

A moment of history in the world, this monkey sought to capture the last time a person can experience the wait and launch of Harry Potter. Originally posted on Metroblogging, I was met with trolls and decided to remove the post. Later I decided to post it here for posterity. Photos have already been uploaded on flickr.

From 10pm to 7.01am on 21st July 2007, I was blogging LIVE from the Harry Potter Launch at Borders Wheelock Place

As of 4pm @ 20 July 2007, there were already 5 girls queueing! Operation Hedwig has started!

10.00pm: arrived at Borders! We are #14 in line. Got a friend to come down around 4pm to "chope" a place for us then my colleague came down to take over her. Haha shift work :) After that I arrived after work and me and the coworker are going to do the all-nighter!

10.27pm: came back from a quick dinner upstairs at Sakae sushi and found out that there is a queue outside that snakes around Patterson Road. Only a lucky few got the "interior" seats. We are one of them! Yay! Apparently somebody cried because she couldn't get the interior. Eek. TODAY reporter was around trying to get interviews but I will be more updated than them so get your latest here!

Some info from my "informants" about the few fans who got the first in line - They were apparently here at 7am! The official queue only began at 7pm. Oh dear. That'll go down in Harry Potter history I guess. Nobody can beat it since there won't be any other books!

The groups who were early are apparently fans of Harry Potter, manga and yaoi. My friends who befriended them thought I would get right along with them! Maybe it won't be such a long night after all. :)

Interestingly, most of the people queueing are girls! And what more, one of the girls in the first 10 in line was the first person in the last book's launch! This year somebody else topped her. Oh well. One time is enough I suppose.

A few groups of reporters have been coming around to interview the girls "first" in line. Photographers have also been going around. But here's the first look for you!

11.23pm: An American Harry Potter came and entertained us after a "stint studying in the US after Hogwarts". He showed us the disarming trick and the levitation trick with "volunteers" from the front of the queue. It was quite the ruckus. He quickly made off with his asian girlfriend after the end of the tricks. LoL how convenient. Is that Cho in the flesh or just a replacement? :P Photos to follow but I do not have my card reader with me right now to download photos from my DSLR camera.

Duelling between American Harry and the first witch in line.

12.14am: Borders officially closed 15minutes ago and we have been moved from our earlier "cozy corner" and now we snake around the inside of Wheelock Place around the circle of the main atrium. So far, nobody needs to move out of the Interior yet but there are almost 80 people here.

Veterans of Potter launches reports that previous years saw much better organization and a much larger crowd. We even met a girl who has made the entire costume according to the specifications on the Potter website. A true fan to wear a full london winter gear in the middle of monsoon summer in Singapore. Now she is being tucked to bed and assured that we will wake her up at 4.30am to don her costume! *phew* Hardcore.

Another group of girls are busy playing Harry Potter uno while the first two girls in the queue are busy studying for their O Levels?!

The people who were originally first but then now they're the first "seconds" in line :P

12.38am: There are now many sleeping bags and sleeping bodies found around the Interior. People with guitars and groups of loud chatting people have contrastingly taken over Wheelock Place. I cannot decide to sleep, read the Harry Potter 6 I brought along or just bask in anticipation. Meanwhile battery is seeping away with a power point just metres away from us. We'll see.

1.15am: Was charging my laptop but got found out by security guard for tapping into their electricity and got unplugged. Too bad. We'll just have to conserve then. Talked to the two girls in front. They're secondary four girls studying for their prelims next week! Everybody else in the front of the line is asleep. Afterall they have been here since 9am!

2.12am: An enterprising man just came around distributing flyers for a "survival kit" of sandwich and drinks for $3. I feel almost tempted. Others are coming back with McDonalds since it's opened 24 hours but since I am a strict non-supporter of fast food, the survival kit sounds most enticing. But for now, I am going to nap and continue reading Harry Potter 6. Energy level is still high here but a tad dowsed with a number of people napping. Meanwhile, much activity inside the Borders bookstore as boxes of books are unloaded and staff getting ready for the big launch.

2.53am: The man selling the survival kit came back with the food on a book shelving trolley, peddling his wares to the people queueing. They may actually be from borders since they just pushed the whole trolley back into the store. At the same time, we were informed by the security guard that no photographs are allowed unless we are from the press! *outrage* What happen to citizen journalism? Bah. Anyways, the crowd has finally been told to move out of the Interior and an outside line has resumed with Borders Staff finally stepping out to do some crowd control. We also encountered veteran queue-cutter. Apparently these 2 girls who were trying to just sit beside us and mix in did the same thing last year! Then they tried further down the line but to no avail. Hopefully they've finally got their own rightful place at the end of the line. Meanwhile, this monkey is going back to sleep.

4.45am: The enterprising men turned out to be Borders Bistro. They just came up with the new menu - continental breakfast! The other half of my team hedwig returned and charmed the cosplay kids with big equipments. The line has now snaked out all the way to the end near Orchard Blvd. Unfortunately it also looks like it's going to rain soon. Luckily at 5.00am, we would be able to go in and start queueing with the festivities to begin. You will then be able to buy the book exactly at 7.01am. No more blogging for now but twitter updates all the way!

5.38am: We are now inside Borders queueing RIGHT IN FRONT of the cashier! We are #10, 11 and 12 in line! Some cheerleaders who were not quite effective just came over and tried to do something but then hagrid and the dementors just walked into the building!! It's kinda cute when "Hagrid" turned out to be the friend of the girl queueing behind us. *grin* She also asked the dementors if they wanted to kiss her. haha

6.00am: the quizzes are on right now and there is madness amongst the fans here. There are dances and kisses with the dementors and eager fans ready to rush out at the next question. Borders vouchers are given out. There is also a cameraman here - wonder if it's from the TV stations.

6.35am: the finalists of Hogwarts Next Top Model just got selected - Bellatrix, Moody, Luna, Snape and Mrs Longbottom. Cho Chang who were with us at the front of the line unfortunately was not selected. But the finalists are REALLY good. They have awesome costumes and excellent acting.

6.40am: the winner is Bellatrix!

7.00am: Countdown of the book began. 5-4-3-2-1!

7.01am: We got the book! It was nicely presented in a special orange Bloomsbury Harry Potter paper bag. Inside also contains a very nice Ty Beanie Hedwig owl!

After thought: On the bag is a sign which I thought was a rather wannabe esoteric sign. But it was only after reading the book that I realized the sign is actually an illustration of a very important element in the book. In fact, while reading the book I had difficult visualizing the sign but now it all clicked together.

7.15am: Queueing up for balloons that say "I got my Harry Potter at Borders".

7.45am: Home sweet home and the reading begins!

Read full article here

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Monkey Graduation Editorial

Dear Animal Friends and Readers,

Firstly, an apology for my long silence on this blog. Perhaps a lack of inspiration has plagued this simian but honestly, my new holiday job at the National Heritage Board has kept me busy and exhausted at the end of the day. The Singapore Heritage Fest is held from 18 to 29 July this year at the Suntec City. The monkey will be seen at times moderating talks but mostly behind the scenes. It's crunch time and I do apologize if that has denied me the pleasure of writing and uploading photos. But mostly, it's almost a comfort to stay away from the computer after a long day staring at one and to read a book and sleep rather than to use the brain further.

But mostly, this editorial is to announce that this Monkey has finally graduated! I am now officially a graduate with a Bachelors of Social Science with second uppper honors in Geography from the National University of Singapore. But sadly I've also signed up to throw myself back into the foray of academia and student life by doing a Research Masters in Geography at the same university.

In other updates, the Chek Jawa boardwalk was opened yesterday but monkey sadly had to choose graduation jitters over rushing from Ubin to NUS within one morning. I even had to skip my friend Sharon's wedding! Sorry Sharon and I did hear that it was a fabulous wedding!

Despite my silence, the monkey has been working hard and having her hands full with several project underway. Mostly the monkey has now more or less become a member of the "friends of WildSingapore". We are planning an evil plan to take over the world and more news when the time comes. I do expect you boys and girls to be gripping your seats in anticipation at that news!

Monkey has covered several events this past month and visited many wild places in Singapore. I have photos a plenty and countless tales to tell. If it ever happens, it remains to be seen but for now, be happy that I am still alive! Sadly I was sick and am sick plagued with a violent cough that had me coughing throughout the entire commencement ceremony. If you heard somebody coughing, it was probably me. Blame it on the cough that has put me out of commission this past weeks.

LiveEarth has come and almost gone. It's been met with much criticism and I do hate to talk about it some more but we'll have one year to see how Al Gore's SOS team work with it.

Finally, congratulation to the graduation Class of 2007! Many of my friends have already begun jobs in the government sector like URA, STB while half the class is absconded to NIE for a life of teaching ahead of them. Whatever our paths lie, good luck!

Yours simianly,

Read full article here