Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare, & Lau Pa Sat

One of our favorite plays, The Importance of Being Earnest, was advertised on the sides of taxis for several weeks - the masculine-looking faces wearing pink gave us a clue that it wasn't going to be a "regular" casting of the play. ... We arrived at the National Library Building to find a gorgeous theater, a sold-out crowd, a wonderful string quartet playing period music, and ushers serving cucumber sandwiches as we took our seats.  (If you know the play, you understand the significance of those tidbits!)

The only photo we could take was this one, because of course we couldn't take them during the show....but EVERYTHING was in Black & White, the actors (all men) wore various combinations of black and white tuxedos (with the exception of Lady Bracknell, who wore a striking red floor length morning coat).  It was a gender-bending performance, with none of the actors speaking in falsetto or wearing wigs...the only thing "female" in the roles were their names and the exaggerated expressions when showing emotion.  A totally entertaining - and unexpected - performance!

A week later we attended Singapore Repertory Theatre's "Othello" at Fort Canning Park.
Again no photos of the play, but I got shots of the audience as we waited for the show:

This performance was exceptionally good also.  The special thing about this was the cast - totally international; the poster was a little deceiving...Desdemona was played by a native Singaporean, not a blue-eyed blond (!)          After the show, the crowd headed out of the park and we were struck by another cool thing in this modern outdoor escalator!

I have blogged about the outdoor food courts before, but this one deserves a special nod.  Downtown near Marina Bay and nestled among the high rise financial buildings is the historic Lau Pa Sat.  It was a Victorian market, crowned by beautiful wrought iron roof.  Now it houses hawker stalls and drink stands, every kind of food imaginable.


We chose vegetarian Indian food, washed down by Tiger beer.  (We skipped the Organs and Thunder Tea)

Just outside the market is the Satay Club, a network of stalls BBQing Chicken, Lamb and Beef Satay.  This used to be located at Clark Quay, but must have moved when the Quay went upscale a few years ago...
Always crowded and always delicious:

I noticed this little man all evening - he is about 4'8", maybe 85 lbs, and at least 85 years old.  Very busy advertising and taking orders for satay: (wish I could have gotten a better portrait, but he was too busy to stop for me!)

I am always amazed at the juxtaposition of the traditional and today:

After dinner we walked around the corner and caught a bit of the nightly laser light show at Marina Bay:

Walking back to the MRT among the financial towers:

A fun sculpture amidst the serious businesses:

And finally, the architecturally satisfying MRT entrance at Raffles Place:

I'm looking forward to going back for satay any day now!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

High Tea Dance

Our ballroom-dancing friends invited us to join them for High Tea Dance at the St. Regis, a beautiful British style hotel just around the corner from our apartment.  They serve traditional High Tea every afternoon,


but on Saturdays they add a decadent dessert buffet, including made-to-order crepes and a chocolate fountain:

There is also sushi

and, of course, the three-tiered trays with finger sandwiches, quiche, soup and puff pastry pie:

We took this Saturday to celebrate empty-nester's Mother's Day early - 

But the there is also dancing:  There was a lovely musical duo that played (excellently) a variety of dance music for 2 hours: 

We sat right next to the dance floor for easy access and for the best view:

Even MORE extraordinary were the two professional dancers who were there to dance with any women who didn't have a willing partner.  They were polished, professional and prepared to make all the girls, even the young teens celebrating a birthday party, have a wonderful time!

A fun time was had by all!

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Pottery Jungle

 Up on the northeast part of the island is a wonderful treasure called The Pottery Jungle.  I remembered it from out earlier time here and hoped it would still be the same - an old kiln area with lots of local and imported ceramics.  Thank goodness the rumors of it closing down have not come true yet!

The real name for the spot is Thow Kwang Industry but everyone knows it by its nickname.  Lots of pottery and lots of jungle - don't forget your mosquito repellant when you visit... Google maps did a great job of getting us there and here is what we (Bronia, Betsy and I) found:

The "Showroom" is packed with amazing decorating items, including new and old wood furniture pieces and collectors' items that Christie's Auctions would die for.  You roam around and find shelves absolutely stuffed with gorgeous Chinese porcelains - some affordable and some out of reach:

Keep an eye out for the resident cat, who DOES NOT want to play nice:

Across a little pathway is the "warehouse" where you can wander for a few hours...

They have everything from little chopstick rests and tea sets to giant vases, fishbowls, sinks, and fountains.  Not to mention a life-size Mao statue to greet your guests:

Or maybe some Chinese Immortals or household gods to guard your home

Keep looking and you'll see some really cool antique window shutters or doors

Vases and Ceramic Wall Hangings

And Garden Stools for Tired Shoppers!

The history of the Jungle is more than just a ceramics shop.  It has one of the original "Dragon Kilns" that were used in the last century to make the pottery cups used on the Malaysian rubber plantations.  The wood-fired kilns are built from brick and mud and look like a huge dragon's tail.  There are only 2 left in Singapore and this is one (you can see the dragon's tail as it disappears in the background):

As we left the Jungle, we saw a sign for another Ceramics workshop and decided to check it out. It looked deserted but we wandered in and found the only other dragon kiln (under the big aluminum roof), which has recently been revived by local artist potters:

 Just as happened to me other times in Singapore, we just looked in to investigate and were surprised to find some artists at work and ready to share their expertise and love of pottery with us. This is Hetty (with Bronia) who became our expert "guide."

The door of the furnace and the recycled wood ready to feed the fire:

Hetty let us go inside the kiln and see what it looks like - the ceiling is about 6 feet high:

and I think it is 50 feet long:

They only fire it up about once a year - it must be some huge event.  We are looking forward to them announcing it and checking it out when it happens.

Hetty then showed us the gallery where the artists show some of their work.  Most of the clay comes from here in Singapore and most of these pieces had no glaze - just the natural shine that comes from the ash from the wood fire.  Amazing!

Of course there was something funny that caught my eye in this place.  You try to decode it:

I hope you're not too thirsty!