Keeping it Real for Real Runners

October 23, 2011 at 1:09 am | Posted in itchy backside | 2 Comments
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Itchyfingers woke up at 4.20 am last Sunday for our run at 7 am. It sounded stupid right? We were not kiasu lah. The race booklet’s advice was to reach the Changi Exhibition Centre before 5.30 am to avoid the peak hour between 5.30 to 6 am. The road would also be closed from 6 am. We were also worried that we would end up parking along the road like we did at Sundown Marathon and had to walk a long way to the starting point. That was why we had to wake up that early…Itchyfingers were going for our second New Balance Real Run. I had wanted to join the 15 km run this year but unfortunately, it was replaced by a new 21 km category. So Itchyfingers decided to run 10 km again.

Luckily we were able to park just next to the Exhibition Centre and rested for a while in the car before proceeding to the loo. Though the race venue is the furthest we had to travel among the races we joined, I do appreciate the fact that the organiser rented the whole air-conditioned exhibition centre and hence we were privileged to have the use of proper toilets.

As most of the 21 km runners were already forming up at the starting point,
both queues for the male and female toilets were almost the same. But
surprisingly the female queue moved much faster than expected. I even had
to wait close to 15 minutes for Tisu Boy. It turned out that there were only
three cubicles in the male toilets, so for those who needed to do their big
business, they had to wait longer instead of just heading to the urinals…
and apparently a lot of the guys needed to clear their bowels before running…

Did a short warm up before joining the rest of the 10 km runners. This time I decided to bring along my small camera….

Got to catch a bit of the sunrise!

At 7 am, we were flagged off! But Itchyfingers were somewhere at the back
of the line. We only crossed the starting line two and a half minutes later…

From the starting point, we ran past these metal spectators’ stand for the
Air Show…

..before exiting the gate and started running into the trail. Somehow the
trail seemed to have less potholes this year. The small slope was also
absent. But there were slightly more stones

Running towards the first one kilometre….Can you see the moon and the
aeroplane here? 😀 

It was about another one kilometre before we exited another gate and moved on to the road…

So many planes passed by us…Ironically I missed the one which was
closest to me along the way 😦

The weather got super hot very soon. I missed the first water point and only managed to drink half a cup of isotonic drink at the next station before running towards Aviation Park Road. This year the route towards the beach was changed slightly, which was better as it was wider. But the sign pointing to the beach seemed to come too early…I remembered it was past 6 km before we reached the sand. So for a moment I was wondering if I was running much faster than last year! This year, there was no trial run a week before the race so we didn’t have the chance to practise running on the stretch of sand…But having gone through the route twice last year, at least I was mentally more prepared to face the challenge…

Finally hit the beach! This year the running area for the beach seemed to 
be flatter and wider…The slope down towards the sea was gentler also…

But that didn’t mean running on the sand was easy! Despite moving closer
to the shoreline, I still found my right foot running on an awkward slanting
position some of the time due to the evenness of the sand. The stretch also
seemed to be longer… As usual there were many people who had to stop and
walk for this stretch

I was glad to be able to still run at a slower but consistent pace. Can you
see the lady in cheong sam? Saw her on the way near the beach sign and
had wanted to catch up so I could take a photo but alas…! Despite being
in a cheong sam, she was still faster and I also couldn’t make my way through
the people in front. There was a 
group of guys who were so amused that they
hastened their pace to catch up
 with her, probably to snap a photo too! 😀
Could see the 7 km sign here! End of the misery soon!

Then I finally caught up with this lady in cheong sam! The weather was
getting so unbearably hot! 

Unfortunately my second cup of isotonic drink was only less than one-third full. Almost died of thirst…The last part of road running back towards the exhibition centre was totally unsheltered. The hot sun burned mercilessly on the skin. My mouth was so dry…Finally slowed down a bit to have a full cup of water at the last water point…Slightly rejuvenated, I continued pounding the long straight road, until I finally saw the 9 km sign. It was always nice to see the last distance marker!

Picked up pace. Could see the exhibition centre and then this sign. From here
it was another last 500 metres or so…

Tried to run faster but my body wasn’t too cooperative…as usual, the hot weather wasn’t too much to my advantage…Last 100 metres!

Tisu Boy, who finished so much earlier, took this with his phone camera.
He had aimed at me before pushing the button but then this 9595 guy ran
into the picture suddenly. He didn’t manage to capture any subsequent
picture of me crossing the line as the phone camera was too slow….Er, 
so does it mean I was too FAST? Hahahahahah….. 

Well, it turned out I was indeed faster than my last year’s timing – three minutes faster at 1:14 hr, though it was not my personal best timing for 10k runs. Felt a bit frustrated at not being able to break through my own timing – it has always been hovering around 1:10 to 1:15 hr, with an occasional faster time. But I guess with a tougher terrain like this, I should be happy as long as I did my best.

It was great to be back in the air-conditioned exhibition centre! So much
cooler compared to the killer heat outside! Collected the goody bag, washed
up and lazed around enjoying the cool air here before heading back outside
to take photos….

Saw Ms Cheong Sam again! Was a bit surprised when told that she
finished before me…She must had caught up when I slowed down for water
and succumbed to the heat at the last stretch…

Here we were complaining about the sun, and then there was this crazy
ang moh apparently enjoying bathing under the fireball just next to the
finishing line!

The 21 km runners were still coming in. Luckily we didn’t sign up for the
longer distance! So hot!

Tisu Girl posing at the finishing line in the Real Run green armpit tee…hahah

The goody bag with just few discount vouchers and two product samples.
The bag and tee design are similar to last year. Now I have so many of
these bags that I don’t know what to do with them…

Don’t really like this medal cos it is in shiny gold and very thin, so looks
a bit cheap skate. The design looks too busy, probably the shiny material
makes it too complicated also

But I like that they added the distance of the different stretch of the route at
the back. So, we ran lesser of the trail this year (2 km vs last year’s 4 km) and
what??? We ran 1.5km of the sandy beach? Last year was only 600 metres!
Strange cos I thought it was the same! The map also showed a similar path
along the beach…

The routes

Also see related posts:
> A Refreshing Run – Safra Bay Run and Army Half Marathon 2011
Keeping in Shape
Men Don’t Get It – Great Eastern Women 10K
Running Alone
Sleep Can Wait. Beat the Sunrise
The Fox Legacy Runs On
The Ultimate X-Terrain Challenge – New Balance Real Run 2010


Tales from the Tomb – Terracotta Warriors: The First Emperor and His Legacy

October 15, 2011 at 12:13 am | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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Some times ago, Itchyfingers visited this exhibition and before we realised, it will be ending this Sunday 16 Oct!

Terracotta Warriors exhibition at Asian Civilisation Museum

Once you go up the stairs, download the Apps if you have an iPhone. It is
good that museums are embracing technology to bring a better and more
interactive learning
experience for visitors

A very interesting model showing the process of making the terracotta 
warriors and horses. Here the workers assembled different parts to
make a warrior, just like our modern-day assembling line in factories! Hahah…
Clay was formed into slabs or pressed into moulds, or it could also be
coiled into body parts before being joined together using wet clay, starting
with the base and lower legs. After the basic form of each figure was
completed, facial features would be sculpted and details such as fair
and armour were added. Reminded me of the painting of the making of
buddha statues by Yamaguchi Akira in the exhibition titled, Singa-planet

The process of making a horse. Here, a worker was being punished. There
should be a plain background behind these models so that the photo will
not look so messy with the windows behind…

Get the activity sheet from the counter so that you can emboss the print
on the correct answer…Good for kids and kid-at-hearts! Haha…

According to the introductory board, “The First Emperor, Shi Huangdi 秦始皇 (259 – 210 BCE), is one of the most controversial figure in China’s history. He unified China by conquering several smaller states and established a centralised government. But he was also remembered for his brutality and his suppression of Confucianism. The discovery in 1974 of thousands of figures buried near his tomb outside Xián added a surprising dimension to his reputation. These warriors and horses were made of terracotta (low-fired clay) and originally painted in brilliant colours. In addition to his militaristic reputation, the First Emperor commissioned objects of astonishing beauty and sophistication.”

Like some of them shown here…

Bell with intertwined dragons and phoenixes on the flanges

Incense burner topped by a phoenix with a ring in its beak. Four imaginary
creatures around the edge also hold rings. The sphere consists of interlaced
serpents that form a textile-like pattern, while the base is made up of small
warriors and tigers 

This bird-shaped finial was originally decorated on top of a dagger-axe.
The bird, said to be perhaps a turtle-dove, represented longevity and authority.
I thought it looked more like a flamingo without the long legs…hahah 

Gorgeous belt hook with several dragons and serpents elegantly twisted
around one another from the 6th century BCE,
 Spring and Autumn period

This golden tiger with a comical grin and scrolling patterns on the body was
a military tally used in the Warring States period

Two duck-shaped belt hooks from the Spring and Autumn period. All these
are pretty tiny, so you may have missed them if you merely take a quick look

The inscription on this bronze tiger-shaped military tally shows that the 
object was used to confirm orders from the emperor. The tiger is divided into
two halves – one half kept by a commander and the other by the emperor,
 would send his half to confirm the authenticity of his order 

These are replica of the two half life-size bronze chariots discovered on the 
west side of the First Emperor’s tomb mound

The original chariots have separately cast parts, with some components
inlaid with gold and silver, and are too fragile to travel and thus have never
left China 

The enclosed carriage is probably like the one used by the emperor on his
inspection tours 

Mould for banliang (半两) coins (top right), Qin Dynasty (221-206 BCE).
The First Emperor enacted strict laws to standardise coinage. The circular-
shaped with a square hole coins may have symbolised heaven and earth.
This shape remained the model of Chinese currency for nearly 2000 years.
wuzhu (五铢) coin mould (left) were introduced under the Han Dynasty
(118 BCE – 9 CE) to replace the banliang coins of the Qin Dynasty. It was
one of the 
most successful coins ever and continued to be used until 621,
being found in 
Korea, Vietnam and Central Asia as the Han empire expanded

Then finally Itchyfingers were standing in front of the Terracotta Warriors…

Just imagine the reaction of the people who first discovered the thousands 
of terracotta figures! It must have been such an impressive sight! Itchyfingers
hope to go visit the actual site one of these days…

At the front was this impressive looking figure from Pit 1 of the First
Emperor’s tomb complex. “The distinctive headdress and tassels on the
 chest and back identify this figure as a general. He is taller and more
than the other terracotta figures.”

This light infantry officer “can be identified by their moustaches and 
headdresses. They were taller than the average terracotta soldiers but not
as tall as the general. This figure probably held a lance or spear, and grasped
a shield with his other hand. The hair and headdress are finely detailed.”

We know this is a charioteer from “the position of his arms holding reins
and the loose sleeves. The remains of 126 chariots have been found in this
Pit 2. Each was drawn by four terracotta horses, driven by a charioteer,
and accompanied by one or two soldiers.” 

Standing archer wearing no armour and only a tunic for better mobility. 
“The position of his arms shows that he was using a bow. Standing archers
usually stood behind the kneeling archers.” 

The Armoured officer “wears a cap typical of the palace guard, and this
may be evidence that the figures are the personal guards of the emperor

rather than the regular army.”

The cavalryman needed to be mobile on their horses, hence he “wears 
trousers, boots and an armoured vest. In the pits, each rider stood holding
the reins of his horse…Military texts reveal that cavalry were often used as
scouts and as tactical warriors.”

Terracotta horse

Following the death of the First Emperor came the rapid fall of the Qin Dynasty. The Han Dynasty was established in 202 BCE by Liu Bang 刘邦. However, many of the reforms were retained – like the small seal script, standardised weight and measures and revised coinage etc. Han tombs, while retaining the long tradition of burying terracotta figures, wanted to separate themselves as much as possible from Shi Huangdi. Their tombs were much simpler and the terracotta figures were also much smaller and represented many aspects of life.

“The Yangjiawan 杨家湾  terracotta army near the Changling Mausoleum
of Liu Bang (Emperor Gaozu of the Han Dynasty) in the northeastern
Xianyang of Shaanxi was discovered in 1965. The occupants of the Yangjiawan
tomb were supposedly Zhou Bo and his son Zhou Yafu of the early Han Dynasty.
Both of them were high-ranking military officials. A total of 2,549 terracotta
figurines were unearthed from the funerary pit, including 583 cavalry ones,
1,965 infantry troops and music-playing ones, and one commanding figurine.
The total number of troops and horses was said to be over 3,000 at the
time of excavation.”

Pottery animals excavated at Yangling, the tomb of the fourth Han emperor,
comprised of both the males and females, like
 this hen and rooster shown here.
This ensured a continual supply of food
 for the emperor in the afterlife. Han
burials emphasised the ordinary aspects of life, especially agricultural

So you see, this exhibition “sets the First Emperor’s terracotta warriors in a wider context, by examining the period that led to the creation of a unified China, as well as the legacy of his tomb in the later Han Dynasty.” Even those relative new tombs in our own Bukit Brown have stone sikh soldiers guarding them! Quite an interesting exhibition indeed. So if you have not visited this blockbuster exhibition, please grab your last chance this weekend! Admission is FREE for all!

Also see related post:
> Come See! Come See! Come See Before it’s Too Late! – The Kangxi Emperor Exhibition

Saving the Old Residents at Coffee Hill

October 11, 2011 at 11:08 am | Posted in itchy mouth | Leave a comment
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It has never been so “full of lives” during our previous visits for birdwatching. Even during the annual Qing Ming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Festival), the number of people we met were usually only a handful. Most of the time we would see joggers or walkers with dogs, and bus drivers who parked their vehicles at the gate probably cos it was free. This day when Itchyfingers arrived, we were really surprised to see so many people! Was it a public walk conducted by the Nature Society? But no one had binoculars with them. It was later that we realised from the tee shirts worn by some guys that they were from the Asia Paranormal Investigators (API). I didn’t expect them to conduct public tours in the day due to the nature of the topic they were specialising. :p

Itchyfingers were at Bukit Brown Cemetery, also known as Kopi Sua in Hokien, meaning the Coffee Hill.

It was the first time Itchyfingers bumped into people riding horses, though
we heard from friends that they saw them before. These riders should be
from the nearby Bukit Timah Saddle Club. Oooo….were those compression
socks for the legs?

Bukit Brown Cemetery was officially opened on 1st Jan 1922 until its closure in 1973. Itchyfingers always knew that some of the tombstones at Bukit Brown Cemetery were quite spectacular in terms of size after being introduced to the place when we started doing birdwatching.

One of the most prominent tombs with two Sikh soldiers guarding it.
You won’t miss it as it sits just next to the road

Wealthy businessmen used to hire Sikh guards in old Singapore. So it is no
surprise that they would like to be safeguarded by these brave soldiers in 
their after lives

The tomb belonging to a Mr Ong and his wife

But what we didn’t know is that there are so many well-known and prominent pioneers of early Singapore residing under the earth at Bukit Brown Cemetery. Besides this big tomb with Sikh guards, there are also many other big ones along the road. We used to only look at them from far, as most of the tombs are not that well-maintained and there are a lot of overgrown vegetation. The possibilities of mozzies attack also put us off from checking them out up close.

Besides the big tombs, there are also a lot of smaller and nameless ones…
This one actually has the shape of the coffin…

Another one. Strangely, most of the tombs at this side of the road face the
reverse direction from those at the opposite side…I thought in Chinese geomancy
they believe it is good feng shui to have tombs to be facing the south, or 坐北向南

A very simple grave

A more elaborate one with colourful tiles

Peacock tile at the side of the tomb

A boy’s tomb. Interesting cos this has the western angel figure as well as
the oriental dragon figure 

It was only after various media reports of the many famous residents there that we knew about them. It was also reported that the biggest tomb in Singapore can be found there. Recently there were more news reports on Bukit Brown Cemetery as the place has been designated to be exhumed to make way for future development. So Itchyfingers felt we had to go and take some photos before it is gone, just like many other historical places in Singapore. 😦

Itchyfingers were walking and taking photos when we saw a paper hung on
one of the big tombs…

Oooo…? Who put this up? So this tomb belonged to Mr Hu Shien Nien, a
director of OCBC Bank when it opened in 1919

The tomb looked quite new and well maintained actually…Maybe the
descendents did some “upgrading” work…. 

Then some of the other visitors also joined in to check out the tomb. Then one guy in another group took out a big geomancy compass and put it near to the tomb before uttering something like, “this tomb (feng shui) is good until 2013 (or was it 2015?)”. I was kind of shocked actually. Then I saw one family with maps in hand discussing about which tomb they had visited. I asked them where did they get the map from, and they told me it was distributed by the organiser of this DIY walking tour, the API, and generously offered me one of their maps as they each had one.

So, thanks to them, Itchyfingers were able to follow the map for our search for these famous tombs cos some of them were located on higher ground and quite secluded.

So following the map, we looked for tombs with such temporary A4 size
information hung on it. This belonged to Mr Ang Seah Im 汪声音. A car park
and road were named after him 

But other than that, couldn’t find any more information about the man. The
tombs had been given a fresh coat of paint, possibly from the descendants
or maybe the founder of API, which has been actively looking and 
documenting tombs here 

His was one of the few which had english carvings. Maybe this was added
in later for the benefit of later generation as many people nowadays may
have difficulties reading the chinese inscription 

Tomb of Mr Cheang Hong Lim 章芳林 (1841-1893), a philanthropist and 
Chinese community leader. Places named after him include Hong Lim Park, 
Hong Lim Market, Cheang Wan Seng Place, Cheang Hong Lim Street 

His official Qing Dynasty Imperial Title, or the First Ranking Official, was
carved on the tombstone. The original graves of the family were exhumed
from the Hong Lim family burial ground off Alexandra Road, near to the
current Mei Ling Street. The area at that time was called Bo Beh Kang,
which meant “No Tail End” in hokien 

Tomb of Mr Gan Eng Seng 颜永成 (1844-1899), a philanthropist and Chinese 
leader. He founded Gan Eng Seng School and helped to start the Thong Chai
Medical Institution 

His Qing Dynasty Imperial Title was the Fifth Rank

His wife and son were buried next to him

Another big but simple, well-maintained tomb of Mr Tan Ean Kiam (1881-1943)
with his wife. He was a Chinese community leader, philanthropist and founding
member of OCBC and Tong An Association. He and his son Tan Tock San were
also on board management of Chinese Chamber of Commerce and other organisations.
Tan Tock San was also founding chairman of Tan Kah Kee foundation. Ean Kiam
Place in Katong and Tan Ean Kiam Building in Raffles Place were named after him

A statue at the tomb

Tomb of Mr Tan Kim Ching (1852-1892), son of Mr Tan Tock Seng. A
philanthropist and leading Chinese merchants in Singapore, he was also
Consul of Japan, Thailand and Russia, as well as a member of the Royal
Court of Siam. Kim Ching Street was named after him 

Triple tomb of the Lim Family. The mother’s tomb is at the centre. On the
left is the son and the right is the daughter-in-law

There are very intricate and well reserved carvings on the tombs…

The mother’s tomb

Another famous Lim Family. Mr Lim Chong Pang 林忠邦 (1904-1956) was
buried together with his wife,
 mother and brother. A Chinese community
leader, he was involved in the 
movie industry. His father is the Pineapple
King Lim Nee Soon 林义顺. The last male descendent of the family passed
away in 2009, thus ending the Lim’s family line

Tomb of Mr Lim Chong Pang’s brother, Mr Lim Chong Kuo (1902-1938)  
on the left and their mother, Mrs Lim Nee Soon (1884-1942) on the right.
He was married to the daughter of Tan Kah Kee, another philanthropist.
Chong Kuo Road was named after him while Peck Hay Road was named after
Mrs Lim 

As Itchyfingers were taking a break, we saw an elderly lady walked down from one of the trails with another lady. After the other lady left, she smiled to us and we exchanged morning greetings. Then out of the blue she told us, “By the way, I am Lee Kuan Yew’s niece.” We were still munching our rotis and were a bit taken back as to why would she wanna tell us that, so we didn’t give any expected or diplomatic responses. Hence there was this awkward moment of silence before she joined some other people. I think she must be thinking that we were so rude… :p

It was only later when we followed the map up the trail up the hill that we finally understood why the sudden introduction from the lady….

Tucked at a corner, this tomb is considered modestly small and simple
compared to the many bigger ones we saw. We might even missed it if not
for the red-and-white tape marking left by API

This is the tomb of Mr Lee Hoon Leong 李云龙 (1879-1942), grandfather
of Singapore’s
 longest-serving former Prime President, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
He helped to 
donate to school funds such as RI, ACS, SJI etc

No wonder the lady told us she is the niece of Mr Lee! She must have thought we had already visited this tomb! Wonder if the Lee Family still visits this tomb?

Just next to Mr Lee’s tomb was this tomb of the 72nd generation of
Confucius Family…API must have done a lot of research work to be able to
mark out all these famous people’s tombs!

Besides these famous people, there were also other tombs that we found interesting…

This one has a private gate leading to the tomb. At the entrance were two
stone benches for visitors to rest. It belongs to a Mr Gao’s wife

Must be from a rich family too. This was dated only 1942

On the map, there was a 5 Cats Tomb that really made Itchyfingers very curious and we were very eager to find it. Was it some rich family’s pets tomb? Did they really bury five cats underneath?

When we finally found it, we were puzzled initially as it had the name of
a husband and wife. Then we realised why it was called 5 Cats Tomb….

Because on the grave were five figures of lions. Lions are from the cats family,
that’s why they put it as 5 Cats Tomb…hahah….Can imagine the lions must
be quite pretty with all the colours 

Nearby we also saw another tomb with sikh soldiers…

Interesting how the plant climbed up this rifle to his hand…So whose
tomb was he guarding?

We walked in and found three of these tombs in a seemingly private area.
It was quite a big space and I wondered why these weren’t marked out
on the map. They were all covered with overgrown vegetation… 

Over at the ‘exit’ of this area was another sikh soldiers. They look different
from each other 

Closeup. You could still make out the faint carving of the pupils of the eyes…

We were trying to follow the map to the largest grave that belonged to Mr Ong Sam Leong, but somehow we missed a turn and couldn’t find it. But we found these big ones instead…

These three tombs caught our attention cos they had very big area in front
of each of them 

Look at the amount of space they had….who were these people and how
were they related? 

There were just so much interesting tombs to be discovered. While we followed the map in search of those rich and famous old residents, we were also intrigued by some other equally huge ones or others with interesting designs and figurines. Couldn’t help but felt a sense of sadness that these would soon be gone. Such a waste given the rich cultural and historical values behind these tombs. The government may have already decided and planned for the future use of this vast piece of land sitting in prime location, but if we the people think that Bukit Brown Cemetery is worth keeping for our future generation, maybe with our collective voices we can try to appeal to the government and make another Chek Jawa happen? Even if we don’t care about the dead, how about the living? There are a lot of old and beautiful trees around the cemetery, and with these come pretty birds and animals that made the cemetery their home. Do we want to take all these away from them like what we did to the many forested areas in Singapore? Where will they go then? Itchyfingers will be back again soon to look for the remaining famous tombs marked out by API that we didn’t manage to find, especially the huge tomb of Mr Ong Sam Leong. We will also be checking out the wildlife there again on our next visit. Do stay tuned!

Is this a Christian’s tomb?

Also see related post:
> Permanent Resident #1

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