Monday, May 14, 2012

singapore: day 01

this afternoon after a short nap we drove around singapore to see some of the sights and stopped by a pottery studio at jalan bahar.  but it was closed and there was massive construction project reconfiguring the infrastructure.  that was a bit sad as we'd read about it and were hoping to visit and maybe even do a bit of work while we are in the city.  however just to the north, on the same piece of property off a little dirt road was a place called Thow Kwang 'Pottery Jungle.'  we met the owner outside as we arrived suspiciously at closing time and were wondering about aimlessly.  he told us we could go ahead and check things out, and that they mostly held classes for hobbyists and were importing most of the wares that were for sale.  which was really quite obvious.

the grounds were beautiful with an entirely open air studio space that had vines and trees, and a lily pond, and mountains of pots of all shapes and sizes, textures and temperature ranges.  it was complete with wheels of all kinds, electric kilns, a gas fired salt kiln, and of course the motherload: a mammoth dragon kiln.  this was the biggest kiln i've ever seen.  i could walk inside it and not hit my head on the roof and from the back of the fire box to the chimney it was more than 60 ft. long.  the owner said they fire it about every 3-4 months mostly packed with student work.  it was constructed from local clay (of which there was a giant bulldozed pile in front of the space)  of the earthen variety.  they were not firing it to cone 10, but to some where in the range of cone 2-5, producing a beautifully rich dark brown surface.  if i have time to kill i hope to be able to work a bit in the jungle and perhaps use some of the local clay to make something that can represent my time here in singapore.

afterwards we drove around through the 'countyside' of singapore, which was covered in jungle and hydroponic farming of all sorts.  because space is a premium here and this part of the island is not yet fully developed, these farms were a strange sight in such a bustling metropolis.  but a very welcome sight to see that even in a place as small as singapore communities can still grow their own locally developed foods.

then we drove up mount faber to check out the city lights.  holy shit, this place glitters like a diamond cut 240 times, but we'll have time to check out the city lights later in our trip.  we went down the hill to the hawker center in pasir panjang.  a hawker center is a collection of food shops surrounding a courtyard of tables, and it is more or less a neighborhood gathering place where people eat drink and be merry or mad depending on your state of drunkenness.  we shared a couple of 40s of heineken and ate beef, chicken, and lamb satay, cockles (little muddy bloody mussels), and a cuttlefish, jellyfish, kangkong salad.  mindy has always raved about the food here, and after eating the cockles cooked to perfection with a delicious chili sauce, i understand why.  this food was amazing for what is basically everyday foods.  the flavors are so full yet so balanced.  i'm a bit of an adventurous eater, and i'm open to trying anything, and i'm so thankful that i went after the cockles.  and the satay, was unlike any satay i've ever had before.  all the meats had a wonderful smokey flavor.  then dipped in the chili gravy, everything became that much more pronounced and equalized.  i could eat at the hawker center everyday, but my in-laws warned me that some are better than others, and this particular one was one of the oldest and best.  yum yum.

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