Everything new is old, everything old is new
Even the current style of (plastic) water bottle here is "traditionally styled". Edinburgh Crystal? I think not...
Travelling about the city this morning, one might be forgiven for thinking that everyone here is far from old - except for us, that is. Sunday morning might be quiet at home, but here it appeared that everyone was out and about meeting friends, particularly young women, who brought a lively air to the MRT train we caught. We'd armed ourselves with Tourist Passes and hopped on the train at City Hall, adjacent to our hotel to travel to Orchard Road and Kinokuniya, the Japanese bookshop where I was keen to look out for a couple of bits on my list.
It's a huge shop, filled with all those weird kinds of things that float my boat. Thankfully, there's also the best selection of books imaginable, so we are both happy for an hour or so.
This is half the craft and hobby section - it's all along the other side of these shelves too - and I could move in and spend a week looking at this corner alone. But in true Japanese style, every one of those books is shrinkwrapped and as a result, there's no sitting with a coffee and a pile of books to look at as we might do in Barnes and Noble (I was going to write Waterstones there but their craft section these days is so pitiful that I no longer even bother looking).
Across the way from Kinokuniya was a branch of British India, a rich source of wearable hot-weather clothes with an Asian flavour and I found a few tops to try. As my Hero sat with his phone in hand, he followed through on a banner we'd seen hanging from a lampost on Orchard Road, advertising a show at the Marina Bay Sands Theatre: Evita. As I stepped out of the dressing room seeking his opinion on whatever it was I was tryng on, he was asking if the dress circle would do... (Yes to the dress circle, no to the top!)
Having snagged two tickets for tonight's performance at 6pm (it being Sunday) we stepped on it a little and headed back down the MRT to continue our afternoon plan, which was to return to the gallery and look at art this time.
There's currently some upgrading going on with the MRT, so parts are screened off and as we chatted about the "late mornings, early nights" scheme they are operating (the work is done between 10pm and 8am every night, during which time the MRT is replaced by shuttle buses) we commented on the constant renovation/rebuilding that goes on here. Huge projects too.
One of the most recent projects is this, the new National Gallery, which was the old City Hall.
Inside, it's been brought right up to date and transformed into a gallery showing Asian art and the exhibit we wanted to see most was the one entitled Siapa Nama Kamu?
The first exhibit visible on entering the gallery (or the last one to see before moving on, because we have a sneaky suspicion that we did the whole thing backwards) was an enormous batik wall hanging of which this is one small part. It was created by the man considered to be the master of the craft, Seah Kim Joo, to hang in the foyer of an hotel, long ago demolished. I loved the fine features of the figures; both male and female faces were so carefully drawn and the range of visual textures in the patterns of clothing and the background was incredible.
There were other remarkable exhibits too, though my poor photo gives the game away, because this "chair" isn't a chair at all. We might have walked right past it, had my Hero not noticed a large spot painted on the floor "View chair from here".
Because, from anywhere else, this is what it looks like. Here are the details:
As we bought our tickets, the young man on the desk advised us that it was the final day of the Impressionist exhibition on loan from the Musee D'Orsay in Paris. We'd been relaxed about that, having seen many Imressionist paintings in London or on our travels, but learning that for today only, the exhibition was complimentary to all visitors, of course we had to take a look. It was a little more crowded than the previous gallery and time was pressing rather, so I didn't take photographs until I saw the palette and paintbox above.
This one belonged to Degas. Oooo.
It was time to move on though, with that show at 6pm and our having had nothing to eat since breakfast time and all of that.
But my curiosity got the better of me, seeing a group of people sitting with a colourful string of what looked like bobbins of thread hanging up there. My Hero went off to take a look at the historic part of the building whilst I pulled up a stool and threaded my needle!
Yes, of course I left a few stitches, though as I can't take photos and stitch at the same time, there's not a lot to see!
Back on the MRT then, to Bayfront station and the Marina Bay Shopping Centre, where the theatre is located.
In the three years since we were last here, a whole new wing has been added complete with "Sampan" rides and a spectacular fountain.
The water swirls around that glass roof and powers down into the pool below from time to time, creating noise and a rather extraordinary spectacle.
Difficult to capture the swirling water above our heads, but the effect was extraordinary.
Having reserved our table at Mozza, opposite the theatre, we strolled outside for old time's sake - we recalled there being a rather interesting view from here. Sure enough, there was the Merlion, over on the other side of the old harbour. The ponds closer to us had the most gorgeous lotus blooms, as you can see.
The backdrop to all of this is an ever evolving range of skyscrapers. Who knows how long it will be before they are replaced by newer, swankier versions? Not long, I suspect.
Hunger more than satisfied by pizza, we went over to the theatre, noting as we did that all the "old" swanky designer stores are now in the new wing of the mall, having been replaced by more typical mall shops in the older part of what we think of as the "new" Marina Bay complex. Nothing in Singapore remains the same for long!
Evita was great! Probably not up to the standards of the original, but for a spur-of-the-moment decision, we did well. My main quibble was the lack of a pair of decent tango dancers for "On this night of a thousand stars", for I know that anyone who'd done the Tango Masterclass in Buenos Aires (except for us) could have done so much better. Yes, Wes and Ida, I am including you in that group!
Time to return to our hotel then, past the swirling water, which by now had attracted quite a crowd outside, it seemed.
And time to put those very weary feet in the right place for boarding the train, just like everyone else does here. Old fashioned manners are encouraged and it's at times like this when we appreciate that there will be no pushing and shoving, no races to the door, but just simple, well organised procedures.
I think we will sleep well tonight!