Monday, September 28, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009Links to this post
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
This weekend is the Formula 1 motor race in Singapore. I'm not into motor racing but it is near impossible to avoid if you go into the city. There's lots of stuff going on around town to get things ready. As well as the race, there is also concerts and lifestyle events happening this weekend. While everything is getting set up for the race it is possible to drive on some segments of the track so we did.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Yesterday I went see the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition at The Arts House. I had unwisely left my visit to the last day the of the exhibition, which was also on the weekend resulting in it being very crowded. Although the crowdedness was rather annoying and it cost quite a bit (S$20) to get in, it was still worthwhile. While the advertising was focused almost entirely on the Dead Sea Scrolls, the exhibition had several other featured topics. These included very early writing forms and historical Christian books and bible editions. Being a little bit of a bible nerd, i found the bibles bit fascinating.
A page from the Gutenberg bible from 1455. This edition of the bible is notable because it was the first book printed with movable type, an invention that went on to have a huge impact on the world.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Learning here isn't all heads in books (although there is a lot of that!). The sociology of food unit i'm taking also has some practical components. One of those involved cooking because a lot of students lack cooking experience which is helpful in understanding some of the unit content. Due to the availability of cheap food court food and the commonness of having a maid who does the cooking, many people here do not cook much. The task we were set was to as a group of 5 to shop for and cook a meal for ourselves for under S$30 (AU$25). We did the cooking at a group members house.
The finished masterpiece. Given none of us had much cooking experience and we didn't use a recipe, it tasted pretty good.
Friday, September 18, 2009
One thing that has happened repeatedly here is people incorrectly guessing my nationality on the basis of my accent. When people meet me they often guess from my accent that I'm Canadian, British, Kiwi or occasionally American. I even had a Canadian think i sounded kinda Canadian. Having grown up in a quite mono-cultural town it is not as though i had many chances to pick up a foreign accent from anyone. Maybe it was my years of singing in a choir that messed with my accent.
Then there is actually understanding what I'm saying. Despite me trying to speak clearly some people just still don't understand. This leads to some awkward moments. One of these was when coming out of a concert i tried to ask the security guard where the bus stop was. He thought i was trying to get more free drinks passes and got a bit annoyed. When i had swine flu it was especially bad because my accent was getting muffled by a facemask.
The other issue with being understood is that some words that are quite common in Australian English just aren't used here. Sometimes it is because a different word would be used here, sometimes it is because the cultural concept just doesn't exist in Singapore. One such one that doesn't exist here is bogan. I have asked Singaporeans here and Singaporeans living in Australia, none of them can come up with a suitable Singaporean equivalent word. I can't explain it with the aid of Australian movie or TV characters because unlike many places, Australian TV shows featuring bogans have not made it here. Sometimes people understand the American term "redneck" but even that doesn't quite capture it. It feels really weird to have to make a long winded explanation to communicate a concept that takes one word back home.
Wikipedia article explaining the word bogan
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Some friends of mine decided that it would be a good idea to go for a hike through some of the rainforest and parks of south west Singapore. I was assured that it wouldn't be too strenuous. In hindsight, asking someone who has been in the military whether a hike is going to be hard is probably not the best way for an unfit person to get that information! The hike was quite an experience! I don’t do well with hiking in any conditions- let alone 10km including some hills in the tropical heat. I think I drank more water and energy drink than I ever have in any 3 hour period before. We did get to see some beautiful forest and parks which was pretty cool. The craziest thing about the hike was the very last bit. We had aimed to be finished well before nightfall but ended up running quite late so were still hiking by the time it got pitch black. The last segment was a bendy unlit path down a mountain that included lots of steps. Our only source of light was our mobile phone backlights. Thankfully everyone made it back safely.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Most people think of Singapore as endless urban sprawl. I had heard rumours that there was farms somewhere in Singapore so i decided it was something i just had to check out. I headed off to the farmart centre. The farmart centre is made up of farmers market stalls, some smaller scale farms (fish, bees ect.) and an assortment of random animals. There are some more farms in the area but i didn't get to those. It seemed so very weird watching the tractors drive past and taking photos of farm animals in a place like Singapore.
Coming up: Getting back to nature part 2: Rainforest hiking misadventures.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Lounge area at the central library. This is a popular place for people to study together or take a nap.
Friday, September 4, 2009
It would seem it is music festival/concert season here in Singapore. Last week I went to three concerts. I’m justifying it as “research” for my sociology of popular culture course. The concerts proved to be quite an experience.
First up was Timbre Music Fest. This one was held in the very nice theatre at the university. As I had quite a bad headache I didn’t stay too long. I only got to see one artist, Shirlyn and the UnXpected. They did a really good set of original pop-rock songs. It was quite a tame audience- most people stayed seated.
Next up was JamFest (Yes, they quite like shortening the word “festival”). This was also held on campus but this time in a very large sports hall. It didn’t really sound like my kinda thing so up until about 20 minutes before it started I had no intention of going. Then I realised that sitting at home alone on a Friday night was pretty lame so hurried on over. The event was very well attended (I think they said 1300 people), no doubt encouraged by the free drinks. The number of free drinks was capped which thankfully kept people in the sing loudly and dance badly stage of drunkenness rather than the sleazy or aggressive stages of drunkenness. (For the record, I wasn’t one of the drunks). The music for the first part of the night was provided by several different cover bands, all of which were really good. Later in the night, the music was provided by a DJ. The bands tended to play lots of popular songs from artists like Coldplay, Kings of Leon, Lady GaGa and Rihanna so many people would sing along. The most memorable moment of the night was standing in the middle of the excited crowd listening to a boy band play a rock cover of Poker Face by Lady Gaga. That it was happening at the university made the experience seem even more surreal and strange. Singaporean students might have a reputation for being serious but they certainly know how to party!
Last was the Bay Beats festival. Bay beats was held at the esplanade centre in the centre of the city. The festival was focused on alternative/indie music. The headline act was American band Anberlin. Friends had been telling me they were really good so mostly went to see Anberlin. Their appearance was split into 3 sets. The first one was an interview with one acoustic song in a library of all places. Unfortunately due to incorrectly estimating my travel time I was running a bit late and ended up at the back where I couldn’t really see or hear much. The second set was an acoustic one in a small outside arena. This was a lot of fun. While I didn’t know the lyrics, it seems most of the other people there did and they sang loud. The last set was a full on very loud rock gig on a huge stage. The crowd went totally nuts and quite a few people tried to crowd surf. As well as Anberlin, I saw a bit of some of the other bands. The most interesting thing about this festival was not so much the music (as good as it was) but the people watching. I didn’t realize there was such an indie rocker, alternative and emo scene here. Lots of very creative outfits and body art. Having gone dressed in jeans and a plain T-shirt I felt quite plain and out of place in comparison.