Thursday, 6 August 2015

Concubine Lane gets a new look - 25 July 2015

We revisited Concubine Lane and my oh my, what a change! If the change can preserve some of these buildings, then perhaps it's not bad. Hopefully, it will not commercialise the living & working town until it becomes a mere tourist attraction. 

Inside one of the shops, which has been converted to a souvenir shop with a display gallery. Others are turned to cafes, snack shops and homestays. But they're not the same. Unlike the nearby Kong Heng and Thean Chun coffee shops which have survived the war and changing times.

Remains of an old 1902 newspapers on the wall, now framed up and part of the wall decor.

We're fortunate to visit the Hakka Miners' Club at Jalan Bijeh Timah, which is just across the road after Concubine Lane. It's one of the prominent heritage buildings in the old Ipoh town, and was so exclusive it used to be only opened to its club members, which were mainly the rich Hakka miners and towkays (men only). 

Built in 1893, it has gone through a few restoration works. The villa is now turned into a museum and opened its door to the public since early this year. Admission is free but it's by appointment only.  

The enamel tableware on the long table. 
Hubby is a Hakka and his dad had worked in tin mining in its glory days, thus he could identify with much more than just a showcase of antiques and nice architecture. 

The Infinity Mirror
The ground floor displayed the house decor of a rich Hakka family, completes with a maid's room and kitchen, as well as a small section on tin mining. The 2nd & 3rd floors gave us an insight of the Hakka miners' club in its heydays, where they're free to commit vices, hidden from the eyes of the townsfolk. There's also an interesting section on the history of the Hakka migration from China and a journal writing of one of the immigrants.

Favourite Hakka dishes

The tour guide patiently walked us through every section.

The origins of the early Hakka people were traced to the Yellow River in China. They're constantly moving from one place to another, until they're like 'guests' in wherever they went, thus the name "Hakka".

Cotton candy floss used to be a hit amongst the kids in the past. Now, kids are spoilt for choice with sweets. 

Taken in 2009, the old charms of Concubine Lane.......

.... and the old spiral staircase hidden amongst the shops in Concubine Lane. Ipoh Old Town still has some picturesque corners and rich heritage architecture. There's always somewhere a bit more off the beaten track in Ipoh.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Changi Walkabout - 12 July 2015

By Xian Wei

 Our family went to Singapore for the Maker's Faire. We stayed at Changi Cove, which was near the airport at the eastern coastline. The hotel rooms were awesome. We could even doodle on a part of the wall of the hotel. 

The big o' tree of Changi Cove. This tree is called the Pulai tree and it is still standing although it is 150 years old!! The hotel must have preserved the tree because it was part of a forest and probably didn't want to forget the forest that was once there.

The Changi boardwalk, which is very near from our hotel. People can walk, jog or cycle along the coast of Singapore.

The boardwalk is also a good place for fishing as it is near the sea.

What a nice contrast between lime green and grey.

The airport is nearby so we could see many airplanes close up and tried to identify which airline they belong to.

At Changi Point Coastal Walk. You could rent a bike and cycle there. There's a ferry terminal nearby that can take you to Pulau Ubin. 

 The SIA plane looked like it is going to crash into the trees.

The boardwalk was near the sea so we saw many ships, sailing boats, as well as birds and walked along the beach. We saw a collared kingfisher almost touching the water... Wondered if it was catching a fish.

We saw two yellow lovebirds on the way back. Those two are Black Nape Orioles. I really liked Singapore because the place is small, so going around in Singapore is convenient, safe and clean.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Maker Faire Singapore - 11-12 July 2015

Maker Faire is a 2-day showcase of the DIY culture and wacky and fun projects in science, engineering & technology, art, craft and even waste materials. We've not heard of it before this. But this is Singapore's 4th year in organising the Maker Faire which started in the US, now spread to all parts of the world. We met makers from all walks of life, young and old, institutions, professionals, hobbyists, tinkerers, students and kids! 

There's a lot of creativity vibes here. This is one event that's not limited by age and full of surprises to show what they're making and share what they're learning.

As the boys're growing up, we threw away many of their old bicycles. Here, we learn that we can turn old bicycles into new inventions eg bike blenders to make smoothies, bike generators to pedal for power, bike mowers to keep the lawns tidy, etc.

This is a fully-automated "Latte Art" drawing machine from Japan. The makers are not professionals, this is just a hobby to them. 

Though not perfect yet, but if they continue to 'make', soon we can have our faces on our cuppa coffee!!

First time 'soldering' for the boys - in which 2 or more metal items are joined together. A simple process and makes learning fun!

A DIY cardboard LED lamp - one of the popular hands-on projects. If we can make something useful out of mere cardboard, we can start recycling our waste materials in our backyard!

I'd love Geography if I could learn it from 'Sandbox'. The computer projects the topography of landforms onto the sandbox with help of different colours of lights, contour lines and terrain.

A breakthrough in science. This is an origami based print and fold-paper microscope. See how tiny the lens! This clever invention is not yet in the market, still at a development stage by the University of Stanford. Well, our field study in future sure looks exciting!!

Revival of medieval armour, 'chainmail' 
- cut-resistant, suitable to use for self-defense!

Free trial to become a knight in medieval times.

I didn't realise 3D printing has such a big following!

Back to Kampung Play - finding pleasure in nature and the simple hand-crafted games (eg. chapteh, rubber band gun, making mud bricks etc).

From banana to carrot keyboard, we're taking music to a higher level!

It's so common to come across names like 'MakeyMakey and Arduino". This little circuit board can interact with your computer and is crucial in many DIY projects from art, craft, robotics, music, engineering and everything in-between. 

Take a selfie with the DIY ButtActivated Selfie Booth with a touch of butt at the count of 3!

Strawbees in the Making! Transforming straws to a living creature!

 Busy hands - inspiring a love of learning

Some beautiful crafts from papers, leaves, cloth scraps and yarn bombing!

This was not a scene from Hollywood. These were living creatures from Strawbees, allowing hands-on experiences to imagine and create together. We're happy to meet some homeschooling families from KL too, as well as the homeschooling community from Singapore. There're so much more cool stuffs to share, and Maker Faire has indeed something for everyone. 

Orang Asli Village @ Kuala Gandah - 21 June 2015

Most of us have heard of the Kuala Gandah elephant sanctuary in Lanchang, Pahang. But within walking distance from this sanctuary is a small Orang Asli village, known as Che' Wong tribe. The tribe is a subgroup of the Senoi indigenous people group. They live near the villages of other races and close to the jungles. There are about 25 simple houses here, built with nipah, bamboo, rattan and wood. Thanks to the popular elephant sanctuary, there is a road access to the village, thus allowing the young ones to look for jobs in the surrounding plantations and factories. Due to easy access, they're quite used to visitors dropping by from time to time. However, the orang asli villagers are quite shy. When we first arrived, we could see children playing from our cars. But most fled when we came down.... 

The Che' Wong villagers still forage in the jungles, hunt and do some subsistence farming. Most of the times, the old folks, women and children are around in the village. They're still very much living in a semi-nomadic lifestyle though living in the village. Their compounds were more unkempt than the neighbouring villages. Stray cats and chicken were wandering around freely and there's no proper hygiene care yet. But in time, they will eventually learn to settle down. The children will learn when they go to schools. It'll be much faster for them to assimilate into the modern world cos of easy access to roads. It's an eye opener to our city kids, seeing a group of people caught in transition between two worlds.
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