Adventures on the Norman coast

Amidst all the fun (read: homework) of this Toussaint vacation, I got to go on an excellent (though decidedly grey & rainy) little day trip to Normandy. Irreverently dismissing the authority of the UNESCO World Heritage Site seal-of-approval we skipped Mont St. Michel and went the more “charming” route: Deauville, Trouville, and the (superb) Honfleur.
I imagine Deauville is probably more fun in the summer when you can take advantage of its beach or if you happen to be one of the esteemed guests of the annual film festival. (Or, if you’re a rich raven.) It didn’t really do anything for me (aside from threaten my student-sized wallet with its outrageously expensive everything). Just across the port you’ll find Trouville, Deauville’s supposed lesser sister (the one who actually turns out to be the far more charming, far less gold-digging of the two.)
A 30-minute bus ride later, we arrived in Honfleur (Satie’s birthplace, for you refined, monocle-sporting young people out there) – a fantastic, friendly, and altogether extremely pleasant place where the air is fresh and the cider even more so. Enjoy!





Sunset at the Pompidou

Wedding day, 1951

My grandparents on their wedding day in 1951 in NY. Are they gorgeous or what?

Les marchés Flottants du Sud Ouest

Yesterday was the last day of the three-day long Marchés Flottants du Sud Ouest, where vendors from southwestern France set up shop on Quai Montebello (right in front of Notre Dame) to promote and sell their regional goods and spread some warm southern cheer to Parisians making their way into autumn. The weather shifted back and forth between gray and sunny (and drizzly and windy), but the wine, cheese, foie gras, meats, honey, spiced breads, chocolate (and plenty of opportunity for tasting) alongside an extremely lively band to get the crowds going made for a warm and all-around wonderful southern Sunday. (And to top it all off, the day ended with, what else: a rainbow.) Enjoy!

Καλή όρεξη: Going Greek

Sunday night my long-time buddy and almost-same-named friend Daniele (Dani, she prefers) decided to have a little dinner party, Greek themed–save for the red velvet cupcakes and French wine/tea/cookware. It ended up as a great exercise in group cooking, Dani making spicy feta dip, flatbreads (from scratch!), and painfully delicious baklava, little brother Abe & Esha on tzatziki/Greek salad/fish duty, and me, painstakingly documenting the entire process (kidding, kidding…but seriously, I didn’t contribute anything.) I had my grape-leaf earrings (made by Mom, aww family blah blah) on and I was ready to embrace my inner Dionysus and feast like Mt. Olympus was crumbling. And feast we did.
Open this in a new tab, grab your best plate to smash (I hold no responsibility if you take this advice) and enjoy.

Arabian Nights

Welcome to Arab Street, the Middle-Eastern/Mediterranean microcosm of Singapore, comparable to Chinatown, but instead of incense the reigning scent in the air is shisha smoke – just pick your flavour. Iced mint teas were in order thanks to standard-issue Singaporean Thick Heat, which went nicely with our peach-flavoured shisha (something I, regrettably, am not very good at.) I always think I’m going to look cool smoking shisha, blowing out big impressive clouds with both smugness and perfectly measured apathy, (something like this)–but I’m pretty sure I’m heading towards something closer to this, minus the scrunchies.
Anyway, if you’re ever looking for a place to enjoy delicious shawarma & pick up some cheap scarves, evil eye charms, jewelry, or whatever else your heart desires, Arab Street is the place to go. And there are tons of great bars & restaurants, (including Café le Caire at 39 Arab Street, where we ate, which has not-so-great service but delicious food) so take your time and enjoy the sights (and smells, of course.)

Surrealism by the bay

Headed down to Singapore’s official megastructure, the surprisingly (to me) incredible Marina Bay Sands to visit my parents at their jewelry exhibition, and decided to go see the Dalí/Van Gogh exhibition at the ArtScience museum. Honestly, I didn’t have very high expectations, particularly since I thought I’d be prone to making douchey comparisons with other more…prolific museums. But lo and behold, I was really, really impressed. The Dalí exhibit was masterfully done–beautifully coordinated into neat little sections organized by theme, including sculptures big and small, lithographs and watercolors and walls littered with clocks all ticking simultaneously in this strange cavernous space. It was all very…well, surreal. (Forgive me.)

I hesitated before going to the Van Gogh exhibit–first, I had already (douche moment begins) been to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam in February, and seen the Van Gogh collection at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris (douche moment finished), and second, it’s not really an exhibit of his paintings in the sense that none of them are actually there. But, it was a package deal with the Dalí show and I had time to kill.

Ever since Sunflowers became the go-to image for middle school art classes and Starry Night/Starry Night Over the Rhone/The Night Café/Pretty much any other Van Gogh painting became the number one best-seller for adolescents looking to balance their Black Eyed Peas posters with something more sophisticated, good ol’ Vince has just become too mainstream for true artistic respect, forever joining the ranks of Audrey Hepburn posters and that godforsaken cat. It’s similar to the way people seem to feel about white wine: everyone enjoys it (it’s refreshing, okay?) but no one wants to admit it. (Don’t you dare prefer it over a nice red, you cretin.) It’s just too crude and–gasp–common! 

Well, pish-posh, forget you guys, I think Van Gogh is great. And this exhibition, despite not having any actual paintings in it, managed to top my previous real-life Van Gogh encounters. Basically, it was a massive multi-hall high-ceilinged room, completely dark except for moving projections on the wall set to music (including, at the moment I walked in, Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1Gymnopédie No. 3 (thanks Ahilya!) and Gnossienne No. 1). The thing is, while it’s great to see famous paintings up-close in their original form, I’ve always felt that when I was looking at them, I mostly felt…something close to indifference. (If you don’t like wishy-washy hipster sentiments then skip this part.) Impressionism (Post, in this case?) is, by definition, about a feeling more than a technique; and whatever grandiose feelings I may have about Van Gogh or any of his bohemian buddies is completely lost when there are 20 fellow tourists crowded around the same painting trying to take pictures, presumably to prove they did, in fact, see the real thing. Somehow, this exhibit managed to give me back those grandiose feelings by displaying Van Gogh’s work as it should be displayed–in a way that completely (almost literally, actually) wraps you in color, feeling, and yes, friends–impressions.

I think I often set my expectations about Singapore too low, maybe because I’ve lived here too long. Singapore can be boring, no doubt, and often a little too stiff & sterile for my taste. I think now that I’ve left (as usual) I’m finally getting to see that despite the terrible salaries and censored-everything (and let’s not forget that soul-destroying humidity), Singapore has a lot to offer.

And hey, it’s not too bad looking either:

Dalí: Mind of a Genius & Van Gogh Alive will be running until October (30th and 9th, respectively) at the ArtScience Museum @ Marina Bay Sands. (So, so worth making a trip.) Special price for SG residents, bring your NRIC!

Seedy(ish) Singapore: Geylang

Despite having lived here for almost 15 years, I’ve never actually visited Singapore’s notorious (at least in Singapore…) red light district, the oft-joked-about-but-actually-very-cool Geylang. It’s one of this generally sterile nation’s seedier areas–that last term maybe deserving of quotation marks. (This is Singapore, after all.) Even walking down a dark street lined with, shall we say, working girls & their soon-to-be clients, the place seems more curiosity than danger zone. But look, of the red light districts I’ve been to in my short 19 years (not many you would hope), I imagine the general rule is just to be respectful, as you would (should?) with any person. ie., no gawking, no “HEY-TAKE-A-PICTURE-OF-ME-WITH-THIS-PROSTITUTE-BRO!” + any other annoying and/or potentially provocative behaviour.

And, for those not yet up to date on Strange Singaporean Laws, prostitution is, in fact, legal. As for peeing in elevators, well, we’re still waiting on that one.

Claypot rice and a spot of chrysanthemum tea.

Tea (teh) tarik, funny fruits, prata

3rd photo from bottom: nice gentleman out-of-frame advised us to “go to Sentosa” if we didn’t want to be solicited.
Solid advice, man. Solid advice.

So there you have it, the red light district of a country you wouldn’t really suspect would tolerate red light districts. Makes it more interesting I guess. How does this compare to other places in the world, I wonder? Amsterdam, Paris & Thailand are the only other ones I’ve seen.* What’s the sex-trade hangout place like where you live?

P.S. – if anyone out there can provide WordPress insight regarding photo uploading (specifically: why does WP consistently rob me of photo sharpness?!) the help would be much appreciated.

*Please note that I am not a sex tourist.

Age of Aquarius

Aquarius pendant in white & rose gold, definitely not the wallpaper of my Macbook in the background. Part of her Zodiac collection...sigh.

Currently wishing I was an Aquarius instead of a Pisces solely so I could wear this pendant, designed by none other than my lovely mother. (Nothing wrong with the fishies, but man, I dig this one.) Actually she’ll be exhibiting at the Singapore International Jewellery Show at the Marina Bay Sands until July 31st, so drop by and say hi if you like sparkly things (or want to have tea with me? Please?)

Kathryn, CQ

KT @ Marrakech – Clarke Quay, Singapore


Everything I've tried to write here to describe myself or this blog has given me a complex about trying too hard to sound interesting. Let's pretend I wrote something artsy and cosmopolitan.

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