Friday, December 31, 2010

Singapore - Time to say goodbye after 5 years

Happy New Year!!!

Hope this one finds everyone happy and healthy.
This is our last update from Singapore, we are leaving after 5 wonderful years of living here.
Haw Par Villa (also known as Tiger Balm Gardens)
To lighten up this update, we thought we make it a goofy one centering around Haw Par Villa. This amusement park was once the biggest tourist attraction in Singapore! It recreates in sculptural form many scenes from famous Chinese folklore. Often its thematic sculptures are created to teach life lessons and moral values to the masses.

We decided to “engage” in the craziness of this kitschy park as the following photos will show.

But first a more peaceful reminder
from our trip to Australia!
First let’s start in Hell which is called Ti-yĆ¼; literally "earth prison". The first 3 pictures reflect a few scenes from the 10 Courts of Hell. These are recreations of every kind of penalty for every sin you might imagine. I think it was created to scare children who misbehave (which might be a Chinese version of the Halloween theme.) A painted series even hung in Singapore’s Asian Civilization Museum where Julane was a docent
In a western comparison: They are a sculptural rendition of Dante’s inferno (he calls them the nine circles of Hell). Or they might also remind you of the paintings by the Dutch medieval painter Bosch (an eccentric painter of religious visions) who also painted the torments of hell.

Scenes from the 10 Courts of Hell

The color red definitely
predominates in Hell!
This what happens to a prostitute in Hell.

Compassionate daughter in law?
The scene on the right shocks most foreign visitors. It’s actually not in the HELL section but instead depicts appropriate behavior.

It is the daughter in law feeding her husband’s ailing mother. It defines filial piety, although, the mother-in-law looks more like the father-in-law!

To lighten up the mood, we decided to “monkey around” a bit and there were plenty of apes to choose from.

It’s a huge park and takes hours to see everything. It is in a state of disrepair but the goofiness makes up for it. Plus it is located very close to where we were living.


The photo below is from Zaire1992 when Julane got up close and personal with a silverback mountain gorilla.
Oscar substitute
Oscar was one of Dian Fossey’s “babies” who was eventually released back into the wild. It took a few hours to locate him and his family in jungle.

We hacked through the jungle with a few park rangers wielding machetes to create the path. In the distance, we could hear occasional gun firing from across the Rwanda border. This was a different kind of guerrilla activity.

Lessons for married couples:
Wives don’t henpeck your mates!
Who's got a Buddha Belly?

The Laughing “Buddha”…
Budai is often mistaken for the historical Buddha. His name actually means "Cloth Sack," which is what he uses to carry his few possessions. He was considered poor, but happy.

We feel a little like Budai right now. Patrick leaves his 22 year long employment with ESEC and we move into new terrain together.

We intend to travel in a simple way carrying our belongings on our back, in a “cloth “sack (not with wheels either!). So we feel a bit like our mascot here and hope the contentment and jolliness that he exudes also follows us on our road(s) ahead.

Bye Bye Singapore!

Since access to internet is such a normal part of travel now and camera equipment is sooo compact (in Africa, Julane carried 12 kgs of camera gear), we can add another weight to our backpacks this time: a netbook.

Consequently, we will be able to update this blog more frequently and so you can follow us on our travels. We have also updated it to include some bit and pieces from “journeys” gone by. So the website is already loaded and functioning.

You can also use the "Subscribe" function to get emails sent to you directly when they are posted on our site, but the format is not as nice in the online versions.

We leave Singapore on Jan 4, 2011. Yesterday all our possessions were boxed up and our shipment will set sail for Florida soon. We will retrieve it in late February when it arrives, but only long enough to put it into storage. Then we head for Guatemala City on March 6th.

We plan to take a crash course in Spanish there and then wander overland in an easterly direction avoiding air travel unless absolutely necessary.

Our intent is to explore Latin America until end of Sept 2011. We hope to reach Bolivia but this all depends on what we find along the way. The road is calling and it doesn’t have a name…yet!

All our best!
Patrick & Julane