Now back in Singapore after a smooth trip over. It’s been an eventful week with a public holiday, hard work for Ross and an unwelcome health scare to boot.
May Day takes us by surprise and with an unexpected free day on our hands and nothing planned – seemed naughty to take a long weekend after so much time away, as most of Singapore does – so we decide to visit the extraordinary Haw Par Villa, as recommended by one of Louise’s friends.
Built in the 1930s by the two Burmese-born brothers who founded the Tiger Balm empire at a cost of $1m then – a small fortune now – it consists of a series of tableaux representing scenes from Chinese folk lore, set in a medium size garden. The brothers’ aim was to provide a stimulating yet educational environment for children to remind them of the old ways.
The day we visit, it is not just children who are thrilled with the garish and kitsch statues: troops of adults, many in matching shirts (tour groups, loving couples) disport themselves amongst the various displays: the great Journey to the West, with evil demons and monstrous creatures trying to divert the saintly pilgrim; monkeys, snakes, pandas, tigers dragons, beautiful princesses, Buddhas of course; and cautionary tales of gambling, drink and indolence. Great stupas and violent colour schemes – all contribute an air of decayed splendour and a great sense of humour. We love it, despite the stonking heat. The photos are Ross’s by the way!
Ross decides to pay attention to the dull ache in his kidney area and visits the GP for a check up. After all our bad luck we are naturally apprehensive especially following his prostate cancer. We fear for our mid-May trip to Koh Samui: we had to cancel our diving holiday to Wakatobi when I was diagnosed with the sarcoma and have been anxious about booking things in advance ever since!. Luckily there’s nothing too much to worry about – just the side-effects of ageing!
Meanwhile I visit Dr Ang for a quick acupuncture fix – three sessions. He is delighted at the progress of my leg, which is now shrunk back to normal size and has a good –albeit paler – colour. I have been getting back into cooking and experimenting with new ingredients and recipes for my book; also swimming 500m most days and have started going to yoga at the gym in the Tanglin Club. As Ross is going to be away a lot in the coming weeks, I will need excuses to get out and about.