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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Sep 27, 2013

Four Beauties of Simei

1.  貴妃  (Guifei)   2. 昭君  (Zhaojun)   
3.  貂嬋  (Diaochan)   4.  西施  (Xishi)

When my family and I moved to Simei in April, 1988, I kept an old newspaper clipping which appeared in The Straits Times published on 11 March, 1988.

These eye-catching murals of Yang Guifel and Xi Shi recall different periods of Chinese history for residents of Simei  estate.  - Pictures by LESLEY KOH.  Source:  The Straits Times.

Four legendary Chinese women return to housing estate.
Four Chinese "beauties", removed about a year ago from their home in a housing estates named after them, are making a comeback of sorts.

The estate they left is Simei, which means "four beauties" in Chinese, and the four women are Xi Shi, Diao Chan, Yang Guifel and Wang Zhaojun - legendary characters in Chinese classical literature.

In June last year, four main roads in Simei bearinng their names were renamed simply as Simei Streets 1 to 4 because some residents found the Hanyu pinyin names hard to pronounce.

But the beauties have returned, though in a different form.  The Housing Board started having the four beauties painted on wall murals in some void decks there late last year.

One of these beauties, Yang Guaifei, was the favourite concubine of Tang Dynasty Emperor Xuan Zong.  She was killed in a riot started by An Lushan, one of the Emperor's military officials.

The second, Xi Shi, was given to the Emperor of Wu by Emperor Gou Jian of Yue.  While the Emperor of Wu was indulging in Xi Shi's beauty, Emperor Gou Jian conquered the state of Wu.

Wang Zhaojun, the third legendary figure, was a maid presented as a peace offering to the Emperor of Xiongnu by Han Emperor Yuen.

Diao Chan, the last, was a character in the book,
 Romance of the Three Kingdoms.  A songstress, she outwitted two conspirators who were plotting to overthrow the kingdom.

A spokesman for the board said:  "This will not only make the place more attractive, it is in keeping with the thematic significance of the estate's name".

A housewife, Mrs P. Ramesh, 35, thought the painting of Xi Shi in Block 116, "very appropriate".

"But I would appreciate it better if there was a plaque or something next to it telling me more about who she was".

The paintings of the beauties will be on the walls of eight blocks.  Each mural costs about $800,

So far, two mural has been completed -  Guifei graces the wall opposite Block 107's lift lobby and Xi Shi is seen in Blocks 116 and 123 in Simei Street 1.

The board will decide where the other murals will be painted when more blocks in the estate are completed.
Simei housing estate in Singapore was like a "foreign" place to me before I "migrated" from Clementi in the west to Simei in the east.  It is our same country, our same homeland though.

In the "From rustic kampong to a vibrant community" blog I contributed to "Everythingeast" website to share my personal memories and experiences as a resident of Simei for over 20 years.

I described myself as an "immigrant" of Simei on this blog.  Please find out Why .

This "incidental blog" took me many months to prepare because the physical transformation and the "New Look, New Faces" of Simei estate to upgrade, enhance and improve the environments of the residents for a better future of Simei.

In October, 2009,  Member of Parliament for East Coast GRC and Adviser to East Coast GRC Grassroots Organisations, Ms Jessica Tan, together with the architects and the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP) Working Committee invited the residents of Block 101, 102, 105 to 117, 119, 120 to 139 Simei Street 1 to preview the NRP preliminary design and participate in the forum at the Changi Simei Community Centre.  The presentation by the architect was followed by a dialogue session.

The resident participants were represented by young and old, all ethnic groups and various walks of life at the session.  For instance, the parents of young children who are concerned about the safety of the kids to play at the playground, the convenience of elders who need accident-free ramps for the wheel-chairs, the adequate public lightings with lamps for the security of young girls walking alone in the night, to cater to the amenities and needs of the residents and the community.  Shelters with overhead bridges and pedestrian links to bus-stops and MRT stations, schools, markets and shops for those who travel by public transport.
As a resident of Block 122 Simei Street 1, I cannot avoid to notice the developments and changes to the neighbourhood since the beginning of 2013.  Hoardings were erected everywhere with alternative access and routes for the pedestrians with appropriate direction signboards.

The work schedule and the work in progress posters were displayed prominently in the estate by the contractors for the information of the residents.

Views From the Window

These photos of the precinct garden under construction ...

The completed precinct garden (day and night) ...

Painting of the buildings under NRP

The original colour scheme in brown before NRP

Repainting the final coat of colour to change from brown to turquoise

The New Precinct Playgrounds


The many months to wait for the new playgrounds and the new colour scheme for the buildings under the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP) is worthwhile for the residents of Simei.


Sep 23, 2013

How Old is the Moon?

Did anybody ever wondered what is the age of the moon?

Nobody knows ... not even the planetary scientists who researched the study of planets (including Earth), moons, and planetary systems, in particular those of the Solar System and the processes that form them.

Anyways, this blog is not about Man's first steps on the moon by American Neil Armstrong in 1969 and spoke the famous words "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.".

Over a million years ago, there has been one moon, one sun, one earth that we know as a planet in the solar system.

However, ethnic Chinese all over the world view the moon differently compared to the Westerners, who do not celebrate mid-autumn festivals.

For centuries, great Chinese poets and music composers have extolled the beauties of the moon.

王菲 - 但願人長久


Same song, same lyrics. Different singers, different presentation and styles.

鄧麗君 《但願人長久》 ~ 千里共嬋娟 ♥ 中秋節快樂

十五的月亮 : 姚乙

I remember that as a young boy of 7 or 8, I suddenly looked up at the sky one night in Bukit Ho Swee where I stayed.

It was late that night and I was alone walking home in the muddy track.  The round and bright moon in the sky attracted me.  I asked myself:  "Why was the moon following me everywhere I go?"

There were more answers to my simple questions to learn and discover as I grew older.  There are still many questions about the mysteries of the world which I still did not know ...

Thanks to MediaCorp TV Singapore's "Frontline - 前线追踪" catch-up special feature on "Mid-Autumn Festivals 2013 in Singapore here .


Sep 18, 2013

Ways Done in the Past - Lantern Walk

A small group of children carrying lanterns in the neighborhood in Singapore in the 1970s to celebrate mid-autumn festival.

This is a personal "incidental" blog to express following the previous "Chinatown Mass Lantern Walk 2013" blog to juxtapose the archived photos curated with courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore (NAS). The old photos of the 1960s and 1970s by respective NAS contributors with thanks and acknowledgement shared on this blog.

How did the children who grew up in Singapore in the past celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival?

Did their parents and grandparents pass on the century-old traditional and cultural Chinese festival to their  descendents from one generation to another generation?

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also called the "Moon Festival" or "Lantern Festival" once a year on the eighth lunar month of the fifteenth day ( 十五) with the most romantic atmosphere and joy. The celebration has become a time for families to get together. The most familiar myth concerning this festival is that Chang-e flying to the moon after secretly drinking her husband's elixir of life. Aside from this, there are also tales of the Jade Rabbit and of "Wu Gang chopping down the cassia tree."

Memorable activities and events at this time include eating moon cakes, which symbolize unity and togetherness; strolling under the full moon; and eating pomelos, since the Chinese term for pomelo sounds like "care and protection".

Tradition, in the true sense of the word, implies a spontaneous assimilation of the past in understanding the present, without a break in the continuity of a society's life, and without considering the past as outmoded.

In its different forms, tradition is like the conscience of a group or the principle of identity that links one generation with another; it enables them to remain the same human race and the same peoples as they go forward throughout history.  To bind a group of people together, across generations. To carve out a social space.

Tradition is memory, and memory enriches experience. If we remembered nothing it would be impossible to advance.

The traditional customs and practices of every ethnic groups in Singapore is not old-fashioned; regardless of whether they are Singaporean Malay, Indian or Chinese tradition since time immemorial.

Unlike fashion which change from season to season, years to years, the significance of tradition and cultural customs and practices are sustainable for every generation. The ways to celebrate the Mid-Autumn festival may change and adapt to present day forms.

The ingredients used in the original traditional mooncakes is very different from those in the early days.  The creative and innovative mooncake makers now sell them to suit local tastes and flavors ... durian, green tea, chocolate and what have you.  In Singapore, the "halal mooncake" are available for fellow Singaporean Muslim to celebrate mid-autumn festival with everyone.

The simple cellophane paper lanterns for children in the old days are now found with creative, imaginative designs and colorful lanterns to attract the young children.  This year, "Angry Birds" becomes the hottest theme, thanks to the hugely popular "Angry Birds" computer game series.

Photo Credit:  AsiaOne News.

Tradition always implies learning from our forefathers, but the academic type of docility and imitation is not the only one possible: there is also the will to learn from the experience of those who have studied and created before us; the aim of this lesson is to receive the vitality of their inspiration and to continue their creative work in its original spirit, which thus, in a new generation, is born again with the freedom, the youthfulness and the promise that it originally possessed.

Lantern Walk in the Past

Fond nostalgic childhood memories are the happy moments of everyone can store in our "memory bank" which money cannot buy.  The little children could not create these childhood memories on their own.  The parents and other adults as a community have to create the meaningful "happenings" and the opportunities for them to remember as they grew up in Singapore.

Many years or decades later, the children could reminisce and revive from old photos and memorabilia (or maybe the first lantern he had as a child) and look back with fond memories - to remember the mid-autumn festivals when they were once young.