Monday, June 24, 2013

Celebrating the first haze-free morning in days

I have been taking countless morning walks in our parks over the years. Never once did I stop to think what would be able to stop me from this habitual activity other than rainy weather until we were so badly affected by the ridiculous forest fires originating in Indonesia over the past week. We were blanketed in thick haze that made it look like there was fog everywhere. We stayed indoors as much as possible and scrambled to buy N95 masks to avoid breathing in hazardous micro particles in the air.

My walks were made impossible overnight and I missed my daily routine where the only complaint I made was against the scorching heat and humidity at this time of the year. The Indonesian minister said that the situation we are in was the result of nature and asked us to pray for a miracle. Well, I prayed for a miracle for two days consecutively and the winds changed direction. Unfortunately, our good fortune over the weekend caused Johor to take on the bulk of the pollution from Indonesia. This morning, the haze seemed to have disappeared and the skies were clear. I wasted no time in donning my walking shoes to go and enjoy this reprieve from the haze. We never know when we will be hit again with a Pollution Standards Index (PSI) of above 100 or worse still be overcome by smog at a PSI of 300 and above.

This morning I walked with a friend, from Hortpark, across the Alexandria Arch bridge and walked along the elevated walkway to Telok Blangah Park. The air was clear and it was no different from those numerous other occasions when we did our morning walks in the parks of Singapore. This time, however, I saw everything with new eyes. Never again will I take clean air and clear views of things for granted. You do not know what you have till you experience loss. So I hope that everyone will be more environment conscious in their daily lives from now onwards.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bukit Batok West Avenue 8

At noon, I stumbled upon this quiet piece of HDB estate because I had an errand to run. Far from the main heartland of Bukit Batok, this area has a skate park where anyone can paint streetart on its walls legally and with the permission of the authorities. There were no skateboarders when I was there, only a few children riding their scooter bikes around the skate park ramps. I decided to walk around the neighbourhood to enjoy the peace and quietness of a weekday at a time when no one really relishes going outdoors because of the intense heat of the day. Surprisingly I did not feel hot nor was I bothered by the extreme temperature of the day. 
 An old school playground that I am sure gave the kids who live in this area enough fun to keep them away from their pcs and what not when the sun is about to retire.
The estate was clean and green with a variety of trees that have stood their ground for a number of years here.
A place in the void deck where people could meet to exchange stories and happenings in their lives. I guess I am referring to the elderly citizens who were nowhere to be found at that time as it was lunch time.
A nice and cool corner where people could sit and relax in the evening.
A kind old lady feeding a stray cat with canned food.
I like the curlers in her hair and the fact that she took the time and effort to take care of a homeless animal.
Neat shelters that make it pleasant for people to get home in the rain.
Red is the colour of good luck.
Colourful sarongs with pretty prints caught my eye.
This quiet estate has western as well as TCM practitioners.
A modern laundromet. I cannot imagine who would use it as I am sure every household has a washing machine.
All the snacks you need to reduce the stress of living - work, taking exams, studying etc.
Tuition is available at the RC - not cheap though.
I just love the greenery.
Usually, I would just melt in the heat. The mature trees and surrounding greenery made a great difference to those out in the open.
Approaching a Siamese Temple that has been around here for years.
Their lease is up and I hope that they will find the funds to be able to stay where they are.
Typical HDB designs of old.
Prayer flags outside a Chinese Temple next to the Buddhist Temple.
Stage for a puppet show performance. I haven't seen one in years and the last time I saw the stage and the puppets were at the National Museum.

Walking back, I saw this Malay lady trying her best to shield herself and the child from the rays of the scorching sun.
Across the road, stood a bus stop and these beautiful trees.
Pine trees in Singapore have proven to be the most adaptable trees in the world.
Identity proclamation.
A coffee shop under renovation.
A fengshui water feature to bring in good luck.
The colours of life in a HDB housing estate.

My favourite circular seat.
I love stone furniture.

Going back to the playground.

Some paintwork needed here. I was looking at the herb garden maintained by people in the neighbourhood who were interested in gardening.

There is no need to live in an overpriced condominium to enjoy BBQ facilities under the shade of coconut trees.
And voila! The Bukit Batok Skate Park!
 If you walk around it, you will see this old man who seems to have been asleep here for a hundred years. 

 Grafitti or Streetart. It's just art and more walls should be made available all over our island for our young and talented to paint on and for others to enjoy or just ponder upon.

Walking back to the carpark.

Random shot of grandma and kid going home for lunch.
A unique windchime.
Cool and cozy corner for the residents of this estate to gather and bond.
This estate is neat and clean and has facilities that are simple and that I am sure are appreciated by the residents.

New seats along the corridor for folks to sit and perhaps to rest their tired legs enroute home from the market.
I hope that there are many HDB estates tucked away in some corner like this one where people have homes that they love and enjoy.