Thursday, January 3, 2008

No Shopping - Just “Parking” in Singapore

When I tell people that I go to Singapore and visit their parks – I get wide-eyed look and sardonic smiles. What no shopping? Yeah - sure at Ang Mo Kio apartments for its wonderfully cheap and wide variety of stuff from China.

Ha, the truth ever since the exchange rate has more than doubled , I personally still think that Malaysia is the best place to do shopping , I don’t shop in Singapore. Instead, my brother has actually brought me and the kids to some wonderful parks – Labrador Park for a picnic once, East Coast Park for the kids to just run and the small but scenic Mt. Faber.

In my latest trip, I discovered MacRitchie Reservoir Park which is I think to date is the best. The view over the reservoir with its beautiful landscaped gardens and wide space, plenty of well kept benches is a wonderful place for just “lepaking”.

The kids had a ball of time playing soccer that is until a monkey stole the coke and attracted a family of monkeys. That’s when we literally ran.

The other park which we discovered by surprise was Teluk Blangah Hill Park. I was searching for Alkaff Mansion but found it was closed. So instead was the Terrace Garden with a wonderful view of Singapore. It is not so well-maintained as the other parks and can get pretty creepy at night though.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Moon Over Neuschwanstein

The last time I visited this fairytale castle, it was nearly 15 years ago. It was end of summer and the fog spoiled the view of the beautiful castle for me. And all I could remember of the trip back then was the tiring walk up the castle which even then was quite a challenge for me.

I could not however, forget this postcard picture castle and so I decided to play hooky from the conference I was attending in Munich and take a trip to Neuschwanstein. It was cold in Munich and the cottage I had rented in the suburbs had snow covered roofs and gardens which paled in comparison with what I was about to see later.

The train ride to Fussen itself was another reminder of God’s artistry and magnificence. The landscape was scenic with snow-covered fields, silhouettes of leafless trees and specks of farms houses and sheds against an extremely clear blue sky. It was cold when I reached Fussen, coldest that I have ever experienced but this quaint little medieval town was all decked in Christmas decor butI didn’t have the time to walk around the town as I had to quickly take the bus to the castle.

I didn’t fancy a walk in the cold so I took the horse carriage not knowing that I had to wait for enough passengers before we could set off. Yup, nice horse manure scent to give the whole setting the ultimate “feel” as they say in Cantonese.

The tour into the castle was informative but I had attended it before. It was probably the last tour and it was getting dark and this time , I decided to walk down as I figured perhaps walking down would be better than waiting in the carriage in the cold and I didn’t fancy smelling and seeing the horse butt.

When I reached the foothill, the sky was getting darker but yet the sky was strangely illuminated . Then I looked up and I saw the perfect white full moon over the castle. It was the moonlight in clear, cloudless sky . I could not never capture that perfect picture moment because my amateurish photo taking skills only understand auto mode. The Korean guy helped me with the night mode and as I was fiddling with the mode, I tried to take that picture with me in it like a bloody typical tourist and that’s when the Korean guy told me “Don’t... Take it as it is – that’s enough.” I stopped to look at that image again and he was right. I never did get that picture as I saw it but for that one minute when I stopped fiddling with my camera , it was captured in my head hopefully forever or at least until Alzheimer’s take over.