Sundown Marathon 2011

This morning marks the completion of my third full marathon, with a net timing of 4 hours 52 minutes. This time, the organisers decided to bring forward the starting time by two hours to 10 pm, making it inconvenient for participants to leave the event venue after the race. Getting to the event site at Changi Exhibition Centre took quite some time, as the traffic congestion started building up all the way to Changi Village. Earlier editions of the Sundown marathon started at Changi Village instead.

Before the flag off, participants were dazzled by colourful strobe lights at the starting point. However, I would probably end up dizzy if these flashes continued! The race started in front of Changi Exhibition Centre, and brought participants through a relatively flat Changi Coastal Road and East Coast Park. Other than the first and last three kilometres, the scenery mainly comprised trees and cyclists. This made the route somewhat boring, especially in comparison with Sundown Marathon 2009 – which included urban and physical obstacles such as overhead bridges in the second half and undulating terrain near the end.

The weather was somewhat warm and humid, which can be felt along Changi Coastal Road. Water points were conveniently located every two kilometres apart, with signs reading ‘Hydration Station Ahead’ placed some 200 metres before the station. This time, participants may miss the energy gel station as it was located in a dark zone after a bend without any sponsor banners. Towards the end of the route, some volunteers (who reported to the site as early as 4 pm) were already sitting down or lying flat on the ground to catch some rest after standing for more than ten hours. However, as the starting times for the different categories were staggered, there was no congestion encountered.

This year, the race pack – coupled with the increase in race fees – made the entire event rather disappointing. It also made it seemingly and excessively profit-orientated. Other than a running singlet, the drawing block-sized bag was filled with promotional leaflets. On the website, it states that ’42KM Marathon Participants will receive a race kit bag containing an exclusive New Balance Event Singlet and other goodies.’ It seems that other goodies refer to the pieces of paper. Clearly, the organiser was cutting costs in order to maximise their profits as far as possible. Compared to the Standard Chartered Marathon series, the quality of the Sundown Marathon could be improved upon.


Hawker Centres (2011)

Hawker centres are a common sight in Singapore, and they have become part and parcel of life for most Singaporeans. These food centres are conveniently located near public housing estates or transport hubs to serve the residents and commuters alike. They are often said to be highly symbolic of the Singapore lifestyle and culture, some citing it as a meeting place for social interaction and family bonding.

Stalls in hawker centres sell a wide variety of food, keeping prices low to attract more customers. In fact, one can easily find hidden treasures in the form of high-quality food at these places, with some highly recommended by television programmes. Unlike food courts, these hawker centres are not air-conditioned. Over the years, efforts have been made to enhance the aesthetics and ventilation.

Today, Singapore Post has released four stamps of 80 cents each, featuring the illustrations of East Coast Lagoon Hawker Centre, Newton Food Centre, Maxwell Road Hawker Centre and the Lau Pa Sat. These stamps were jointly designed by Leon Yeo and Jean Ng.

In the 19th century, hawkers of the various ethnic groups started selling food along streets due to its low starting capital. They slowly grew in numbers, Patrons often purchase from these makeshift stalls out of convenience. The high unemployment resulted from the Second World War has led to the surge in the number of hawkers. Concerns about the hygiene of the food were raised in the late 1960s, leading to the introduction of policies to curb the growth of these street hawkers. In 1971, the government started building hawker centres to relocate these street hawkers into a more hygienic environment. By the mid 1980s, over 140 hawker centres were built across the country. In 2001, the Hawker Centres Upgrading Programme was introduced to enhance facilities. While maintaining the unique flavours of these iconic structures, improvements have been made to give them a new lease of life.

Adapted from article by Singapore Post, Images by Singapore Post


Singapore $10 Banknote with Two Triangles

A new variety of the $10 Singapore banknote with two triangles on the reverse was spotted in early May 2011. The two triangles were similarly printed in red, beneath the word ‘Sports’ on the bottom left corner of the note. Currently, there are a total of five varieties for the $10 note – with no symbol, one square, two squares, one triangle and two triangles, making it the denomination with the largest number of varieties at the moment.

Another denomination which has two triangles printed on it is the $1000 note.