reunification palace, ho chi minh

a last one on vietnam, this time on a historical monument right smack in the middle of ho chi minh city. I don’t much want to go heavily into history, but the idea of dichotomies was strong in my mind: the contrast between the pristine white building and the rather violent history of the place as narrated by our guide (they do a few english-speaking tours every hour), and the decadence of the lounge and entertainment areas at the top of the building against the war-rooms underground.

there is a room below that holds a chart about the number of casualties from various countries, and it makes you think long and hard about the way the world is evolving – and how we don’t seem to learn from past mistakes.

goods of desire, clarke quay

just thought I’d share with you this cute little shop I chanced upon with a friend after brunch at the clarke quay area. this is a surprisingly large hardware store in the central mall that stems from hong kong, and carries loads of kitschy asian houseware, design items and general bits-and-bobs-you-don’t-quite-need.

hong kong and singapore have pretty similar growth patterns – densely-populated cities with a chinese majority, as well as a legacy left by the british. so even though the items here are sourced for being integral to their cultural legacy, many of the things here are easily relatable to locals like myself. old biscuit tins and crockery laid out with an eye to modern design and attitudes, it seems to give new lease to old-style (or vintage, if you would prefer a more romantic denotation) items that most of us have abandoned in light of the more currently popular european design.

the christmas tree made out of mahjong tiles – mahjong is a popular asian game that involves tiles embossed with chinese character (can’t explain more than that since I don’t play) – is going to date this visit and tell you how far behind I am in posts, but no matter. this is a pretty shop with retro-vintaged items that seems to want to bring them into contemporary life, at contemporary prices (no penny shop items here) – and possibly worth a look if you’re up for a spot of nostalgia and/or redecorating.

portobello market, london

just a couple of snapshots from the world-famous portobello market at notting hill. it was a rainy day, but the streets were bright with crockery and knick-knacks out laid out in proud recognition of british style and history.

incidentally I bought a sort of stylized russian hat there that day, which will serve as yet another indelible memory of good times in london.

the last photo here are of wooden rackets, and remind me of my first tennis lesson five years ago, when I brought along my father’s aged – and well-preserved – wooden racket. my coach was stunned into sputtering incoherence – I doubt he had seen one over the last decade, and not anyone who brought it in earnest to truly use (in my defence, I didn’t know better).

good memories, these. if you’re ever in the area, by the by, dri dri gelato serves a mean cup of italian ice.

majestic hotel, chinatown

not a food post today so much as a conglomeration of photos I couldn’t not take while having a stroll through the majestic hotel. I’ve wanted to visit their namesake chinese restaurant for quite a long time, but an unfortunate combination of inconvenient location and mixed reviews means that I haven’t done it as yet – especially since every time I want dimsum, I essentially mean that I want a salted yolk custard bun. which means I want a damn good one – which brings me to taste paradise.

really a sort of fortunate-but-unfortunate-for-the-majestic cycle.

the lobby of this boutique hotel is filled with a mixture of artsy, new-retro hipster items like coffee books, childhood memorabilia (at a price that seems determined by emotional/nostalgic inflation rather than the national measure), and vintage ware. it makes for one cool display, and rather nice photos.

I foresee that there will come one day when I shall bemoan the demise of all these items, even in hipster shops, and then I guess this post and all the others I have written in opposition to the prevailing singapore-hipsterness will come and bite me on my behind.