Monday, June 20, 2016

Birdwatching in Singapore Botanic Gardens (June 20, 2016)

We heard that for the school holidays, entry to the National Orchid Garden was free, so other than making a trip to do some quick birdwatching, it will be interesting to pay a visit to the Orchid Garden as well. We were lucky to spot the Juvenile Buffy Fish Owl while making our way to the Orchid Garden. It was on its on and not at the usual spot where i saw the Buffy Fish Owl (near the steps leading up to the Rain Forest).

Buffy Fish Owl in Singapore Botanic Gardens along Cluny Park Way

Buffy Fish Owl in Singapore Botanic Gardens along Cluny Park Way

Buffy Fish Owl in Singapore Botanic Gardens along Cluny Park Way

Buffy Fish Owl in Singapore Botanic Gardens along Cluny Park Way

Another interesting bird i saw was the family red jungle fowl (Gallus Gallus), roosting on top of bamboo clump at the Eco-Garden grounds near Botanic Garden MRT

Red Jungle Fowls on a Bambo Clump at Eco Garden  




Within the grounds of the National Orchid Gardens, on top of a hill is a beautiful black and white bungalow built in "plantation style" which design provides for natural ventilation against the heat of the day as well as the long extended pyramid shapes preventing torrential rains from entering the building. The name of the building is Burkhill Hall in honor of the the former Directors of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, Isaac Henry Burkill (1912-1925) and his son, Humphery Morrison Burkhill ( 1957-1969). Built around 1867, it was also the resident of the various Directors of the Singapore Botanic Gardens until 1969 when it became the School of Ornamental Horticulture. It was restored in 1990 and eventually is now part of the National Orchid Gardens.




Thursday, June 09, 2016

Lim Hak Tai (former Bidadari Christian Cemetery)

Lim Hak Tai  (alias Lim Hsueh Ta, 林学大) was the founder and principal of Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA). Born on May 28, 1893 in Amoy, China. In 1914, he enrolled in the Fuchow Academy as a trainee teacher specialising in Mathematics and Arts. However it was Arts that he will be forever remembered by. graduating in 1916,  he taught in many schools including the Amoy Academy of Art and the Chi Mei College in which he taught Western painting. With the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war in 1936, Lim Hak Tai and many Chinese chose to migrate to the "Southern Seas", the label then for South-east Asia. He arrived Singapore in the early 1937 and true to his nature, established a school of art with fellow instructors such as Kao Fei Zhe, Chiu Ling kue and Chong Ming Shi. In 1938, they moved to 93, Serangoon Road and Nan-yang Yi-shu Yuan (南洋美术专科学校 or Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts) was inaugurated. The first cohort was of 14 students and none of the staff were paid. Lim Hak Tai taught at Chinese High School.

Lim Hak Tai 
Despite early setbacks, (Japanese Occupation of Singapore, funding issues, recognition of its diploma), Lim Hak Tai was very determined to spread this new localised art form in Singapore. In 1946,  the Academy reopened at 49, St. Thomas Walk. Between 1946-1953, he recruited Cheong Soo Pieng, Chen Chong Swee, Chen Wen Hsi and Georgette Chen to join his school.

In an oral interview by National Archives with Georgette Chen, she recalled that when she joined NAFA, Lim Hak Tai was already very sick with tuberculosis and because of this his frequency of painting was low although he still continued painting in oils and Chinese inks.

In 1962, Lim Hak Tai was awarded the Sijil Kemuliaan (Certificate of Honor) by the Yang Di-Pertuan Negara during that year's National Day celebration.

Death

On February 13, 1963 after a long illness, Lim Hak Tai passed away at his home in St. Thomas Walk. He is survived by a son (Lim Yew Kuan), two daughters an a number of grandchildren. he was buried in Bidadari Christian Cemetery. After Bidadari cemetery was redeveloped, he and his wife were re-interred in a niche in a Christian Memorial Chapel.


Legacy

Lim Hak Tai gave his passion and life towards the betterment of the Nanyang Arts in Singapore. He was however not a well known administrator. Enrolment after the death of Lim Hak Tai, steadily declined until a critical stage in 1978, when aware of its plight, the Chinese community came to the school's rescue. The Chinese community rallied together and in 1979, a group of old boys from Chinese High School led by lawyer Tang Liang Hong, formed a new board of directors and expanded  the school beyond pre-war house-cum-school at 49, St. Thomas Walk by occupying various old school buildings of the Chinese clan associations to Middle road and eventually today its city campus in Bencoolen.

Family 

In 1938, Lim Hak Tai’s wife died in Hong Kong while making her way from China to Singapore with their 3 sons and 2 daughters. During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, his eldest son was arrested and died during imprisonment.

Lim Yew Kuan, his second son, succeeded him as the second principal, serving from 1964 to 1979.

References

Hak Tai points the way. (1981, February 1981). The Straits Times.
Art School Principal dies at 70. (1963, February 17). The Straits Times
Art and Artist. (1980, October 4). The Straits Times.
The Joke is on the doubting Artist. (1988, April 6).The Straits Times.
Nanyang's resurrection. (1998. April 17). The Straits Times
Lim Hak Tai. (website). TributeSG. Last accessed, June 8, 2016
Lim Hak Tai. (website). Infopedia. Last accessed June 8, 2016

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Birdwatching in Ubin - Green Imperial Pigeon (June 5, 2016)

I am back again in Ubin and this time is on my own to do some birdwatching. I wanted to take picture of the Green Imperial Pigeon which i saw on Ubin Day (4th June) and also the Black Hornbill. The long story short, i manage to spot the Green Imperial Pigeon after spending almost the whole day in Ubin. Such is life. There were 4 yesterday (when i didn't bring my camera and binoculars) and i managed to catch the photo of only one on 5th of June when i was just about to give up waiting for it, it perched for a while before it chased away by the Oriental Pied Hornbills who were also feasting on the fruits of the False Curry Leaf Tree (Clausena excavata) and exhibited territorial behaviour by chasing the Green Imperial Pigeon. 

It was a total lost, and although i didn't manage to catch sight of the Black Hornbill, in my long wait, i spent time walking around Ubin and also to the Pekan Quarry area to catch pictures of some of the birds you see below.

Green Imperial Pigeon in Ubin
Green Imperial Pigeon feasting on the fruits of the False Curry Leaf Tree (Clausena excavata)

Green Imperial Pigeon in Ubin
Green Imperial Pigeon feasting on the fruits of the False Curry Leaf Tree (Clausena excavata)

Straw Headed Bulbul on the False Curry Leaf Tree (Clausena excavata) 

Brown Throated Sunbird on  Leea Shrub (Red Tree Shrub)
Brown Throated Sunbird on  Leea Shrub (Red Tree Shrub)

Brown Throated Sunbird (female) ??

White-rumped Sharma 

White rumped Sharma
White rumped Sharma

White-bellied Sea Eagle
White-bellied Sea Eagle

White-bellied Sea Eagle
White-bellied Sea Eagle taking flight !

Magpie Robin (Female)
Magpie Robin (Female)

Magpie Robin (Female)
Magpie Robin (Female)



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Faces behind the Chinese Opera (Pulau Ubin) - Part II

The Pulau Ubin Tua Pek Kong Temple Festival features the Chinese Opera troupe from 新新榮和潮州劇團 / Xin Xin Rong He / Sin Sin Yong Hwa Teochew Opera Troupe. Below are Part II of the photos i took backstage on the 21st of May 2016. Once again, I am thankful that the troupe allowed me to go backstage and to capture their private moments preparing for their big event.

Although personally, i don't really understand the going-on's that take place during the Chinese opera, but i am touched by the effort's the artisan's go back preparing for the "big" performance for the deity and the people that happen to be watching it as well.












Related Post

Faces behind the Chinese Opera (Pulau Ubin)-Part I, posted on May 23,2016
Ubin Temple Festival, posted on May 19, 2011

References 

新新榮和潮州劇團 Xin Xin Rong He Teochew Opera, Facebook Group

Monday, May 23, 2016

Faces behind the Chinese Opera (Pulau Ubin) - Part I

The Pulau Ubin Tua Pek Kong Temple Festival starts from Friday, 20th May and ends on Wednesday, 25th May. The festival according to the regular temple goers is held annually around the same time as Vesak Day. My last temple festival visit was in 2011 and i thought it will be good to pay a visit again, this time to take some pictures of faces behind the wayang or Chinese opera scene that is. The Chinese Opera troupe performing this year is 新新榮和潮州劇團 / Xin Xin Rong He / Sin Sin Yong Hwa Teochew Opera Troupe. Below are Part I of the photos i took backstage on the 21st of May 2016. I am thankful that the troupe allowed me to go backstage and to capture their private moments preparing for their big event.













See next post: Faces behind the Chinese Opera (Pulau Ubin)-Part II, posted on May 24, 2016

Related Post

Ubin Temple Festival, posted on May 19, 2011

References 
新新榮和潮州劇團 Xin Xin Rong He Teochew Opera, Facebook Group

Friday, May 20, 2016

Heritage Fest 2016 - Ubin

On May 14 and 15, i volunteered to be guide in Pulau Ubin in conjunction with National Heritage Board's Heritage Fest 2016.  The tour was called the Ubin Experience Tour and majority of the volunteer guides were also volunteer guides with NParks with the exception of myself. I have visited Ubin many times and explored the various nooks and corners but i never participated in an organised tour before, nor ever volunteered to be a guide in Ubin. So this was a first for me !

I also learned during my training by the National Heritage Board,  more insights on the history of the places that i brought my participants to. I decided to also do my own further reading and research of this places from an heritage perspective so that i can value add further. On May 15, one of the participants shared with me he was a supplier of quarry materials to Ho Mon Choo Quarry (now known as Pekan Quarry)

Ubin jetty all dress up for the Tua Pek Kong festival

Ubin jetty looking very pretty for the Tua Pek Kong festival 

Some of the places we brought our tour participants include the kampong house of Ahmad bin Kassim, No 1 Ubin (Tudor style house and now Chek Jawa Visitor Centre) , German Girl Shrine, Ah Ma drink store and former prawn farm) and finally Pekan Quarry (Municipal Quarry No. 1 or Ho Mon Choo Quarry). The entire tour was conducted via a van which stop at the various places providing a snapshot of heritage and nature of Pulau Ubin.

I will find time to blog about all the places i visited (if i not blog about it before, e.g. i wrote the German girl article back in February 2012) and post it up in the near future, however for this article, i will like to share some of the pictures of Ubin which i found interesting when i made my way there before the tour started.

Bum boat repairs and maintenance 

One of the first thing that caught my eye was the boat maintenance that was taking place during low tide near the jetty. The boat was tilting on its side and i could see it clean of barnacles that would have gathered or adhered to the hull of the boat. Too much barnacles will cause considerable drag on the boat slowing it down and for wooden boats, it may cause long term damage as well. When i arrived, a Malay and Chinese gentlemen who were working on the boats were taking a break in the wooden stilt house on the left. It is heartening to see that such traditional trades are still active in the offshore islands of Singapore. The last i saw boat repairs was at a river in Ubin overlooking Pulau Ketam.


Bumboat repairs and maintenance taking place

Bumboat repair man taking a well deserved break 

Hull clean of barnacles 

Reminders of Granite Mining at the Temple

Another place that i want to draw attention to is the Pulau Ubin Fo Shan Ting Da Bo Gong Temple, It's location is close to Ubin jetty on a hill called 佛 山 (Buddha Hill) and there is something that is so obvious here, but some people might have overlooked- a reminder that granite used to be mine in this area. Just behind the shrine of the Eath God (土地公), there is large granite stone and visible on its surface are cutting marks by machinery.

Pulau Ubin Fo Shan Ting Da Bo Gong Temple

Pulau Ubin Fo Shan Ting Da Bo Gong Temple caretaker checking me out 

The Granite stone behind the Earth Deity

Cut marks on the granite

After the short exploration, it is back to my guiding duties. I enjoyed myself and sincerely hope that for those i guided enjoyed themselves too and for both dates managed to gather everyone to take a group picture of the participants along with the guides.

May 14th  (9:30 am tour participants and guides) 


May 15th (4:30 pm tour participants and guides) 

Singapore Heritage Fest  2016 in Ubin

Related Articles

Heritage Fest 2016 -Ubin, posted on May 20, 2016
Qing Ming in Ubin (April 10, 2016), posted on April 10, 2016
German Girl Shrine, posted on February 5, 2014
Ubin Island- one of the World's most secret island, posted on January 01, 2012
427 Pulau Ubin and the former village head, posted on November 16, 2011
Ubin Temple Festival, posted on May 19, 2011
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