Monday, 10 August 2015

Singapore: One final sketch

Siong Moh Trading joss paper shop - Mosque Street

My final weekend in Singapore ended in front of a shop I have wanted to sketch for many months. Joss paper shops in Singapore sell candles, joss sticks, oil and papier-mâché items to offer to the deceased at funerals and special occasions such as Qing Ming (Tomb-sweeping Day) and Zhong Qiu Jie (Hungry Ghost Festival).

Siong Moh Trading stocks bundles of money, credit cards and cheques, denture sets, six-packs of beer, gold and silver bullion, shaving sets, jewellery, watches, iPhones and iPads, medicines, make-up, handbags, shoes, shirt and tie sets, cars, cigarettes, houses, facial treatments, radios, cassette players and gambling sets.

The shop closed at 5pm, so I had to return on the following day after work. This was my last night in Chinatown - I strolled to the hawker centre for a final meal. I am going to miss Chinatown. I am going to miss Singapore. I will miss Asia. If only I had started drawing a few years ago, I would have had so many more memories.


Sunday, 9 August 2015

Singapore: Last days in Chinatown

Cardboard collection trishaw sketch, Keong Saik Rd

In contrast to Friday’s experience, today’s drawing excursion was one of my best days in Singapore. In the early morning, I sat in the gutter of Keong Saik Road to draw a trishaw used for the collection of cardboard. The bicycle, which was heavily chained and padlocked, was equipped with a large plastic water barrel sporting a fresh SG50 Singapore flag, which will add extra significance to the drawing when looking back.

Among the usual number of people and small children who wanted to look or take photos was a chap who returned later to give me cold bottle of water, a lady who invited me for coffee with her family and another who insisted I should ‘get mee’ (noodles) at the nearby restaurant. Either that, or she was being very forward.

A few hours later, I strolled back to Chinatown market hawker centre and sat people watching for a couple of hours with a cold beer and snack of chewy duck components. People were still queuing for food at 4 o’clock when I left to reconnoitre the streets for tomorrow’s location on the last day of the national holiday and probably my last ever day in Chinatown.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Singapore: A few more souvenir sketches

The Buddha Tooth Temple sketch

The Buddha Tooth Temple in the rainThe four day Jubilee holiday is also my last weekend in Singapore - just enough time for a few more souvenir drawings. The view of the front of the Buddha Tooth Temple is now blocked by construction work for the new Maxwell MRT station, so I stood for a few hours in the HDB block behind the temple overlooking the back of the building.  Despite being sheltered, I had to stop occasionally to prevent my sketchbook and brie baguette getting soggy from the rain which was blowing into the balcony. The sky few down impressively for several hours.

Clarke Quay sketch
Once I reached the 'know when to stop' stage of drawing, I did a bit of last-minute shopping for the family before strolling to Marina Bay to kill a few hours before the fireworks. It started to drizzle again so I returned to Clarke Quay to eat and ended up with dismal  food with overpriced beer. I should have known better than eat on Clarke Quay. At least there was time for a quick doodle of the opposite side of the river through the bar.

At 8pm, I watched the fireworks looking towards the Marina Bay Sands hotel. I didn't have a clear view of the Padang or Marina Bay, but the display looked nothing like the performances I had seen at the rehearsals over previous weekends. It was a disappointing end to the day. I'd had been out for over 11 hours - I just wanted to go home.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Sinagpore: Marina Bay Sands sketch

Marina May Sands hotel sketch

With only two weekends of sketching left, I walked along the riverfront from Clarke Quay to find a good spot to doodle the iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel. Most of Singapore will be squeezed into this area next week, but this morning it was relatively quiet, except, that is, for the group that settled down behind me.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Singapore: sketching windmills

Holland Village sketch

This sketch of Holland Village was completed after work over a couple of days with a bit more pencil shading today. On the second day, the juice bar at the bottom right disappeared leaving a gaping concrete hole. Mrs M doesn't like the garish and blocky colours, but what does she know, she didn't even realise there was a Windmill in Holland Village.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Singapore: Urban Sketchers Symposium 2015

Urban Sketchers Symposium 2015 - Singapore Art Museum
Today was the start of the Urban Sketchers Symposium Singapore 2015 at the National Design Centre. After registration, we headed out in two rather chaotic groups for a mass doodle. I sat on the grass in front of the Art Museum for the quickest sketch I have ever done in under an hour. I was quite pleased with myself. 

The serious stuff takes place over the next three days with plenty of workshops and activities. All very exciting.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Singapore: The Laughing Buddha

The Laughing Buddha - Da Sheng Hong Kong Pastry, Sago StreetI have walked past the statue (donation box) of the Laughing Buddha outside Da Sheng Hong Kong Pastry in Sago Street many times in the last five years, so I thought I would sketch a souvenir. 

I perched on my little stool directly in front of the statue in the early morning before it got too hot. Sitting in one of the busiest tourist thoroughfares in Singapore caused a few jams as families and coach parties gathered round to take a look and say things which I think were complementary. At one point, a tiny Japanese girl stood out of sight behind me while moving an iPhone on a selfie stick next to my sketchbook. 

When I finished, I sat on a step behind the Buddha Tooth temple with a flask of coffee and a very warm cheese ciabatta sandwich watching the world go by. I will certainly miss Chinatown.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Singapore: Tanjong Pagar railway station opens

Tanjong Pagar railway station sketch

I discovered yesterday that Tanjong Pagar railway station is open on public holidays, so I decided to visit one last time before leaving Singapore. There were only few people in front of the building when I arrived at 9.00am who were busily fluffing their hair, making v-signs or adjusting super cool cycling sunglasses for selfies with the station backdrop. An hour later, more people were taking snaps of stuffed toys or directing arty shots of ballerinas on the tracks. It is the modern way. 

Rather than sit in the baking sun, I sat in the car to sketch the magnificent façade from the back of the car park. I had to get out to fill in the bits covered by parked cars, but it was altogether much less sweaty than usual.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Singapore: Fireworks and much doodling

House sketch

This weekend I decided to draw the house which has been on my list of things to do before departure. I completed the line-work on Saturday morning but decided to wait until the shadows were stronger to colour the drawing. 

In the afternoon, I went to Marina Bay with CK to another rehearsal for the national day celebrations. There were more people around the Marina than last weekend, but we found a spot in front of the Esplanade outdoor concert theatre which was directly in line with the fireworks. During the three-hour, bottom-numbing wait, I sketched the Fullerton Hotel which at dusk was surrounded by brightly lit buildings and a magnificent purple and pink backdrop. The fireworks were harder to photograph this week due to the large amount of smoke and vast areas of intense colour.

On Sunday, the sun hid behind lumps of cloud but peeked through long enough to add some shadow to the house drawing. I slapped on water colour which was hastily removed with wads of kitchen roll until a suitable shade was achieved - I'll get the hang of this paint stuff one day. I'm really looking forward to the  Urban Sketchers Symposium in a couple of weeks.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Singapore: Dim sum basket building sketch

Dim sum basket building sketch - Nanyang Technological University

With Mrs M and the cats back in the UK, I have plenty of time for doodling. This morning I drove to Nanyang Technological University to draw the 'Dim sum basket' building designed by the British architect, Thomas Heatherwick. I sat for around three hours in the baking sun, albeit with sun screen, hat and a towel around my neck for extra protection, but nothing stops sweat soaking clothing or dampening the paper from your drawing hand - I even disgust myself at times. 

Dim sum basket building atrium - Nanyang Technological UniversityBefore returning home, I wandered up the stairs into the atrium which is still under construction. The eight concrete storeys are mounted on slightly curved pillars that are asymmetric and resemble crudely hewn logs. There is hardly a straight line to be seen. The walls are covered with pink concrete panels with raised designs by another Brit, Sara Faneli. I am not sure they needed the shrubberies.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Singapore: sketching in Boat Quay

It has been a busy week. The contents of our house are on their way to the UK, the crates are ready for the cats to fly on Tuesday and Mrs M leaves on the following day (not in a crate). 

In order to relax, I spent a few hours sketching on Boat Quay which was very sociable. After a few hours, my bum was getting rather numb, so I decided to colour the drawing at home.

Without access to Photoshop on my PC, I have to use GIMP on the Mac which looks similar to Photoshop but doesn't have the most basic option to 'save for web', which forced some jiggery-pokery to get the image down to a manageable size. Normal service will be resumed in a few weeks.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Singapore: The Great Yard Sale

The Great Yard Sale of 2015In the last 14 years, we have lived in an American five-bedroom house, a three-storey house in Oman and a three-bedroom black-and-white in Singapore. Our next destination is the tiny rabbit hutch we call home in Surrey, England which is already full of Mrs M’s shoes. Although the house has two rather splendid sheds (one of which has an extension), we had to dispose of as much as possible this weekend before the shippers arrive next week.

In the early morning of the ‘Great Yard Sale’, we drove around the estate placing beautifully crafted signs in strategic positions before making final adjustments to the displays; we opened the gates at 10am in brilliant sunshine. With the superb assistance of C & B from next door, we had sold of most of our goods by midday. At 1pm, we reduced items by 50% and at 2pm, the remaining items were free. The rack of clothes and table of free goodies were stripped within a few minutes.

At 3pm, there was only a tumble drier (since sold) and a varnished Chinese panel left; we had made a profit of $1,070, enough for a basket of groceries at Cold Storage.

Red Dot Brewhouse samplerAs if C & B had not done enough, they took us to the Red Dot Brewhouse for dinner which featured chicken fagra (spicy wings), pork belly, satay, truffle fries, paprika fries, samosas, mimosas for the ladies and lashings of coloured ales for the gents.

I don’t remember going to sleep that night.

Postscript: On my way to the shops on Sunday morning, I spotted our inflatable whale floating gracefully in the pool of a neighbour’s house. The last time I rode that whale was in a pool overlooking the turquoise sea of the Gulf of Oman. He has gone to a good home (as did the dolphin).

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Malaysia: Pulau Besar day 4

On the final morning of our desert island trip, I finished the sketch of the Driftwood Bar as Mrs M wandered out of the hut for breakfast.

At 10.00am, we said goodbye to Wati, her husband who cooks the great food, and the other staff, some of whom we have known for a few years. It was so sad to realise that we would never come back. I was pleased to have created a few extra memories of one of our favourite places in the world.

As we walked along the jetty towards the boat, there was at least time for one last photograph.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Malaysia: Pulau Beasr day 3

Rastam's house - Pulau BesarTo the side of Aseania, there is a tiny cabin decorated with an array of colours which required the use a few previously unexplored colours in my water colour box.

This sketch also had to be continued on a second day as my feet were turning into pork scratchings in the direct sun.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Malaysia: Pulau Besar day 2

Pakmat's boat - Pulau Besar
In the early morning, I sat on the beach doodling the new bar which is one of a number of improvements at Aseania. 

Without shade, the time was limited to less than an hour, so I would have to return at the same time tomorrow. While drawing, one of the staff was raking the beach leaving a satisfying random pattern of closely-spaced lines. I want to do this in my retirement. It is so peaceful. The problem is I would not allow anyone to walk on the beach afterwards.

After breakfast with Mrs M and our new friend, a sweet ginger puss, I wandered along the beach to find something else to draw. I found what I thought was a shipwreck, except that it was tied to trees and rocks with numerous ropes. In mid-doodle, I heard rummaging from a pile of blackened debris on the beach which was being sorted by the owner, Mohammed, who was attempting to repair the boat after an engine fire. My sketch perhaps, did not adequately convey the magnitude of his task.

Meanwhile, Mrs M contentedly snorked and relaxed in the shadow of palm shades on the beach. We met for meals throughout the day to relive some of our fondest memories.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Malaysia: Pulau Besar day 1

Hut 101 - Aseania Beach Resort, Pulau Besar
We have been to most of the islands off Mersing on the east coast of Malaysia. Our favourite location, without doubt, is the Aseania Beach Resort on Pulau Besar. As we needed one last trip before returning to England, we headed up Route 3 to Mersing and were eating lunch overlooking the beach within four hours of leaving the house.

With Mrs M larded up and for an afternoon on the beach, I planted my new sketching stool under a shady tree in front of the hut for a doodle. It was quite idyllic.

In the late afternoon, the squeaky bats were getting noticeably fractious as the wind from the imminent storm blew the overcrowded branches of their palm trees. After the rain, they flapped around in the dim light of dusk to let off steam.

After dinner, we sat on the beach looking at the stars and the remnants of a storm on the distant mainland. All good things must come to an end - of all the places we have been to, this has been one of the happiest.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Singapore: Diggers

Diggers in Singapore
In Singapore, diggers rest on Sundays at the sides of the road surrounded by red and white plastic barriers and orange netting to stop them escaping.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Singapore: Things I shall miss - creepy crawlies

The sight of an oriental garden lizard on our neighbour's fence this morning reminded me of one of the things I shall miss about Singapore: creepy crawlies. 

Geckos are everywhere in the house - sometimes nipping accross the ceilings, sometimes dried and shrivelled under furniture. There are several living in the lamp in the front porch which poop on the car roof every evening.

Ants the size of raspberries often accompany me on sketches. Our biggest cat, Koofi, brings in tree snakes and gets cross when I won't let him play with the cobras. Frogs live in Mrs M's herb garden and have been subject to torment by the aforementioned cobras. Thankfully Abbey the roaming cat has survived almost five years without seeing the inside of a python. Next door has hairy spiders, but they have not ventured into our property.

Other visitors include a pair of very sweet doves in the back garden, mynah birds in the front, a monkey, a chicken, civets, bats, squirrels and of course, mosquitoes. Bloody mosquitoes.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Singapore: Sketching in Holland Village

Holland Village sketchSketching is becoming a daily compulsion. I feel as if I've wasted a day if I haven't scribbled something. I am filling up the house with new pens, paper, inks, paints and brushes. At least it's a cheap hobby.

Holland Village sketchYesterday I bought a sketch book with 200gsm watercolour paper and a few Uniball Eye pens. I tried out the pens on a quick sketch in Holland Village. They work quite well on ordinary notebook paper, except for the occasional blob. They are not very consistent for drawing dots. 

I returned to the same location today to test the pens on the watercolour paper. They glide well on the rough surface and are waterproof when dry (but not when a drop of rain plops on wet ink). The wet paint did not turn the page into corrugated mush. Today's lesson however, was not to use ink on top of dry paint as it triples the size of the linework. So much to learn...........

Friday, 17 April 2015

Mongolia: Mongolian ironing boards and toilets

With work over for the week, I had about an hour to sketch a couple of the items in the hotel room. 

The first was the ironing board which had a front section that pivoted to form what looked like two legs - utterly brilliant for ironing sleeves and trouser legs. Why don’t all hotels have this? 

The second was the Japanese toilet. I have encountered these on previous trips, but this one seemed to have more settings for rear cleansing, soft rear cleansing, front cleansing, drying, power deodorising, wand cleaning (not what I first thought) and various temperature, pressure and comfort settings. 

The last Mongolian dish of the week was ‘banshtai tsai’, or dumplings in milk tea. A photograph did not do the meal justice as the dumplings were mostly hidden by a sea of salty tea, which tasted like a weak cream soup. It was very pleasant and, thankfully, not as substantial as previous meals.

For more information on Mongolian food, try the series of five short programmes by American food writer Andrew Zimmern on YouTube, starting here.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Mongolia: Sun then snow

Khorkhog - Khorum Hotel, Hotel Kempinski, UlaanbaatarI had been warned that snow was expected, but when I opened the curtains at 6.30am, I could not see the other side of the road due to a snow storm; the temperature had dropped to -4C with a wind chill of -12C. Shirt sleeves yesterday, ski gear today; all typical for a Mongolian spring apparently.

At the end of the day there was almost no sign of the snow which had been blown into small piles by strong winds that blew parallel to Peace Avenue. I was still getting used to the long days as the sun did not set until just before 9pm, almost two later than Singapore.  

I had requested another Mongolian speciality for the evening. Khokhog is a meat and vegetable dish cooked over hot stones, which according to one of the staff is often eaten by families in gers after a long day on the steppe. My plate included a stone at the bottom of the pile of meat which was surrounded by root vegetables and a layer of pastry which covers the cooking pot. Another substantial treat.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Mongolia: Spring in Ulaanbaatar

Toy cars on Chinggis SquareChinggis Khan statue, Government Palace, UlaanbaatarAfter work, I walked along Peace Avenue back to the hotel in warm sunshine. Temperatures had risen to 21C on a beautiful spring day. It was so nice to walk without being soaked in sweat.

I took a minor deviation through Chinggis Square overlooked by the impressive statue of Genghis Khan from his throne in the middle of the Government Palace. I asked a guard if I could take a photo, which he approved after inspecting my rolls of maps. In front of the palace stood a long line of toy plastic cars with (camera shy) minders ready to charge small children for a drive around the square in a purple police car.
Buuz - Khorum restaurant, Kempinski Hotel, Ulaanbaatar

Tonight’s Mongolian dish was Buuz (pronounce Bose - as in the speakers). This was another hearty dish of densely-packed steamed dumplings with more cabbage salad. Splendid.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Mongolia: Mongolian taxis and Mongolian food

Tsuivn - Khorum Restaurant, Kempinski Hotel, Ulaanbaatar
On the first day of appointments and visits, I suggested to my interpreter that we should take a taxi to the first meeting. He immediately stepped to the curb and flagged down a car, opened the rear door and stated the destination. The translator’s response to my obvious question was, ‘all cars are taxis’. Fair enough.

We used the same strategy for the next appointment. Having spent a few years driving in the Middle East, I thought I understood a relaxed respect for the rules of the road, but this woman had balls. In order to avoid the queues, she drove on the wrong side of the road, regardless of on-coming traffic, and then cut into the line of cars at each junction. Discussion with any drivers questioning her tactics was met with mild contempt for her male combatants. Traffic light conventions were occasionally observed.

In the evening I asked the staff in the hotel’s Khorum Restaurant for advice on local dishes. My first foray into Mongolian cuisine featured a mountain of thick noodles, beef and cabbage known as ‘Tsuivn’ (pronounced ‘tur-van’). I may have the appetite of a pit pony, but even I struggled. Clearly, nobody goes hungry in Mongolia. 

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Mongolia: Singapore to Ulaanbaatar

Jetway sketch - Incheon airport
The journey to Mongolia took over twenty hours, including a six hour layover at Incheon in South Korea. I passed some of the time in a comfy chair catching up on sleep. 

While wandering the same dreary airport shops, I found a Charlie Brown Café, which reminded me of an alternative direction I could have taken almost forty years ago. Sadly, there was no ‘Somebody in (insert city) loves me’ tee-shirt for our Flossie which was her favourite present from America on my travels. In the last hour, I doodled the jetway that would eventually lead to the MIAT aircraft.

In the late evening I reached the Kempinski Hotel in Ulaanbaatar just in time for dinner. I was the only customer in the Japanese restaurant where I spent an hour chatting to the staff about Japanese food. I couldn’t help tittering at an item on the sake menu called ‘Wanko’ which I avoided in favour of a nice cold Japanese beer.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Singapore: The Peranakan Museum

Peranakan Museum sketchI spent much of the time over the holiday perched on a knobbly tree root opposite the Peranakan Museum in Armenian Street. On Friday, I did a quick scribble which served as a warm up for a more detailed sketch on Sunday morning. In addition to the usual members of the public who want to chat or even take a photo, this was another occasion when an individual loitered nearby for an uncomfortably long period. 

Peranakan Muesum sketchAfter a couple of hours, I hobbled away from my tree root and wandered through the grounds of the Armenian Church (which might make an interesting challenge to sketch with its pure white walls), to the Civil Defence Heritage Museum, which includes a few old fire appliances which are ideal for doodling. 

Boat Quay sketchI continued to Elgin Bridge which was casting strong shadows across the elegant arches and supports, but I decided to sit on the bank opposite Boat Quay to doodle in a new smaller-format sketchbook which should take water colour paint without turning the paper into a soggy lump or bleeding through the other side. I have also noticed that watercolour seems to fade overnight, coloured pencils are weak on some papers and you never have the right colour in the box.

This reflects my experiences with colour so far - I was so reluctant to paint the Boat Quay scene, I used Copic markers in the sketchbook and coloured the line drawing in Photoshop, which is far less hassle. I have much to learn.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Singapore: Pulau Ubin

Pulau Ubin sketches
It was a good day for pottering on Pulau Ubin which was relatively quiet, except for a few groups of school children that ambled past the bikes shops on Jalan Pekan Ubin where I had settled for a morning of scribbling. 

I gave myself twenty minutes for each A6 sketch in order to develop a bit of speed. During lunch in the Season Live Seafood restaurant, over my usual sweet and sour pork, I even managed to add humans into a doodle. I guess I ought to do more people.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Singapore: Sketching with ants

Singapore shophouse sketch (rear)
My plan for this morning's doodling included St Andrew's Cathedral, but there was no shade from the sun and there were far too many trees in the way - I'm bored with drawing trees. The impressive National Galley building on St Andrew's Rd was another possibility, but again there was little protection from the sun in the cloudless sky. There was a handy workers’ shelter opposite the Singapore Cricket Club, but somehow the building didn't appeal. I wandered along the river to explore the area behind Boat Quay where I found a shady spot to doodle on a wall behind a seafood restaurant, accompanied by a team of ants busily investigating the source of the strong smell of dried fish.

The sun managed to peek over the roof of the building forcing an early departure to an alley behind the restaurants which features hundreds of air conditioning units, exhaust ducts, pipework, old bikes, tatty sofas, stained plastic chairs, building material and a thick mist of burnt cooking fat. Ideal subject matter - I shall return.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Singapore: Cardboard boxes

My collection of cardboard boxes
After yesterday's reflection about moving back to London, I started to make a mental list of things to do that might ease the stress in the last few weeks. 

One item was to tidy the junk and cardboard box room where my precious collection of packaging from electronic goods is stored together with redundant plastic boxes that are waiting for an application. The magnitude of the task was too great, so I decided to sketch it instead as a souvenir.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Singapore: Dancing on butter

April 2008, Tokyo - Singapore Art MuseumThe Singapore Art Museum features finalists from the Asia-Pacific Breweries Foundation Signature Art Prize 2014. Works include a bloody knife sticking out of a field of bicarbonate of soda, a similarly sized area of charcoal, some sploggy brown dribbles running down a wall, video projections of people eating and a man lying underneath a dripping heart-shaped block of ice cream. My favourite was the kinetic sculpture of a metallic seal-like creature of spectacular complexity.

The ‘Medium at Large’ exhibition was equally intriguing. The wall-sized triptych ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ stood out for its technical skill but I spent much of the time in front of an exhibit called ‘April 2008, Tokyo’ which featured 12 framed panels of decreasing shades of pink, supposedly an exploration of the artist’s perception of colour and time.

Singapore Art Museum sketch
As I sat doodling on the opposite side of the road I wasn’t sure if was inspired, confused or disheartened. The experience had made me realise for the first time in over decade,  that I was looking forward to going back to London.  

Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Philippines: Jeepneys and pork scratchings

Jeepney ManilaJeepney sketch - ManilaHaving arrived stupidly early in Manila on Sunday morning, I had time to wander round in the afternoon in search of a jeepney to sketch. Fortunately I found several rows of the garish buses in the car park next to Market! Market! in Global City. A few drivers were taking a naps in their cabins, while others tinkered with overheating engines or changed tyres which once contained tread.

Jeepneys ManilaThe only place out of the sun was in the back of an adjacent bus, but this plan soon proved unworkable as both my shade and subject moved out of the car park, despite reassurances from their drivers who said they were not moving.

Lechon Kawali, ManilaMy scribblings were gaining much attention from the drivers who wanted to review progress or be included with their buses. After one of my subjects clanged out of the car park in mid-sketch, one chap even moved his vehicle directly in front of me so that I could sketch his bus. He too departed after a few minutes so I moved to another spot to try one more, less ambitious doodle.

The rest of the week featured some hearty dining in a Filipino restaurant which served basic local dishes such as Kare-Kare (oxtail stew in peanut sauce), Puchero (beef stew) and Lechon Kawali (deep fried pork belly). The skin of the  deep-fried lechon was wonderfully crispy like a delicate pork scratching.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Singapore: Sketching with naked ladies

Piedra Negra Cafe
Mannequins, Piedra Negra Cafe Plans to sketch the Masjid Sultan mosque were scuppered as the building was wrapped in scaffolding and sheets of plastic. I settled down instead at the back of the Blu Jaz Café to doodle to the accompaniment of music from the Piedra Negra café. Warm sun, a comfy chair, a baguette crammed with brie and a flask of Lavazza coffee. Perfect.

The passers-by that stopped for chats and photos were also pointing their cameras at roof level at the back of the café where a number of naked female mannequins were positioned overlooking the small alley.  It’s the sort of scene that might be found in a garden of a loony in an English village, but rarely in Singapore. There should be more.