Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Run for your Life

This was taken at the end of a 7 K run in Kuching for Sarawak Heart Foundation and thanks to Shein, there is finally a photo of me running (as opposed to plodding) - trying to overtake the last 20 people in the last twenty metres. Cheap thrills I know but it amuses me, hence the smile.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Conversations with M #1

From the back lane looking towards Jalan Padungan
These will be a series of emails sent to a friend who has left Kuching for a long time; I am trying to update (and entice him) with scenes of our hometown.

Hi there,
Hope this finds you in good spirits.

Talking to you about Cholesterol Cafe reminded me of this sketch. The shop is no longer there of course. The streetscape has changed somewhat; to cater to a younger crowd who are more watchful of their waist-line and concerned about the lunch-time heat.  It has been close to 20 years since our last visit there - you, me and William (I seem to recall one or two more persons joining us - who were they?)

I had the pleasant surprise of bumping into the old man's son in his own Kopi Tiam along Jalan Ang Cheng Ho; same set-up, same menu and probably the same rats running around in the kitchen.

Remember the lady who used to serve us our 'fresh lime' in gum boots?

Yes, Father is retired and enjoying the company of his grandchildren. The son remembers us - asked about the 'towkay' - I told him 'towkay' is in Canada. 

He said - "Canada don't have char siew rice like this"


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

PAMSC Design Forum 2012

"The Way Forward" is the topic for the PAM Design Forum this year; it is different from the topic last year and yet more of the same. The choice of speakers is perhaps hobbled by the self-imposed theme of ‘sustainable design’, which has been the overarching theme for several years now.

Only two speakers out of the six said anything of interest to me; Cheah Kok Ming from NUS and Thai architect, Chutayaves Sinithupan. The Forum would have benefited from a greater diversity of speakers with a broader range of work – instead of practitioners who have a ‘sustainable’ label. Other than the monotony – there is a danger of over stressing ‘sustainability’ as a separate subject instead of an integral principle of good design. 

I made hay while the sun shone and had time during the talks to think about my garden pavilion, and to sketch some of student work from Kok Ming’s talk.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Busy making money

Settling down to work after the past few weeks of traveling and running half marathons – I was looking forward to it, the quiet hour in the morning before everyone else shows up in the office. Listening to Emma Eyres on ABC Classic FM with a cup of coffee and drawing up the design for a new house.

Pencil on butter paper is the most effective way to work; layer upon layer until the final idea comes to the surface and it is drawn up with firmer lines and a hard edge provided by the side of the scale rule. 
Then sketches are photocopied – dark lines on plain white cartridge, colour them up with stubs of school grade colour pencils. Nothing fancy, just enough to distinguish between the inside and outside, and to frame the building with the landscape.
While floor plans give order to the design; sections through the building show the potential quality of space. A series of sketches to show differing view points as one moves through the building is a favourite way to show difference sensory experiences and to show off the design.
Architecture students might associate this type of 'walk-through' with computer animation, but it is actually much older. Gordon Cullen calls it 'serial-vision' in his book "Townscape" -
I learnt about this when I was in Year 4 of Uni. and I have been fascinated with it ever since.
In the end, it is the design idea that is the most important - how it is presented is secondary although it must have clarity and precision, and sometimes the tools you need are close at 'hand'

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bali Half Marathon 2:28:50

The view from Three Monkeys Cafe in Ubud
Back to Bali again after an eight-year gap, this time we have another purpose for our trip, that is to run in the Bali Half Marathon. We have Robyn with us, who introduced us to Gede who introduced us to various other non-touristy versions of 'babi guling'. Not once did we go to Ibu Oka's.

The breakfast terrace at the Suly Resort and Spa

Sam found a training hotel in Ubud; the Suly Resort and Spa provides a three-year hospitality course for under-privileged children and the hotel is their only means of income. They do not raise funds through donations, etc to minimise pilferage and such. The 5 of us enjoyed our large rooms, friendly service and breakfast by the padi fields.

The Wee Family

The highlight of the trip was the run obviously, though there were several other high points - meeting Ibu Cat who wrote 'Bali Daze'; having a long lunch in a tiny gallery-warung (Warung Made Bercik) near the Bali Botanical Gardens; eating Bakso at the night market where Sam bought dinners for street children who asked for money.

Thank you Happy Feet for the wonderful photos.

The run route took us through padi fields and villages where the local school children cheered us on and entertained us with Gamelan music and dancing. In one village, I ran through an 'avenue' of singing and clapping children who reached out to offer a high-five as I struggled past. It is very touching and moves me to tears even thinking about it now.  It is little wonder then that I was able to complete the run in my best time yet - 2:28:50. Finally getting under the two and half hour mark.

I ll be back next year; we have already booked Gede's services....